Hi everybody!

Just a quick update – my writing progress has been sure and steady. Book 1 of “Arc of Radiance” is completed and undergoing final revisions and I am almost done outlining Book 2. Be on the lookout for launch updates soon! ūüėä

Additionally, I have written a couple of novellas that will be launching concurrently with Book 1. The first is a prequel that takes place in the same universe as “Arc of Radiance”. This I will offer free to all my subscribers. The second is a short story about an assassin called “Cycle of Blades”. It is written in a group with a bunch of other authors called “The Assassins Collective”. It’s a cool little story, and I evourage everyone to check it out! For the first week or two it will be free, so there ya go ūüôā

Anyways, sorry for the radio silence recently. I’ve been hard at work trying to produce these novels, and I’m excited to finally break out onto the indie author scene.

More details coming soon!

Blake

Hello friends!

It’s been a while since my last blog post, but don’t worry! I promise that I haven’t slacked off in my writing. There have been some developments, however…

So, first thing’s first: I’ve decided to shelve “The Edge of Light and Shadows” for now. The decision was not an easy one for me, but I’m positive that it was the right one. For one thing, I think I was being a little overzealous in diving into such a large project having never finished a full novel before. After outlining it, it was going to be well over 200,000 words (my previous projects never even broke 20k). Second, I recently read a book by Chris Fox titled “Six Figure Author” that talked about using data to sell books online. In the book, he mentioned that the ideal formula for selling books on Amazon involves pumping out a book every few months. Needless to say the book inspired me. I wanted to publish on Amazon and build an entrepreneurial author platform from scratch.

I took a week off and cooked up a new world, a new plot, and a new outline, and I feel like I had a stroke of genius (or, at the very least, a mild stroke of inspiration). I came up with an idea for a story I call “Ranger’s Oath”. It is going to be a series of fantasy novels ranging between 60-80k, and it will follow a ranger’s apprentice and a mage-in-training who uncover a plot that could destroy the last surviving kingdom of mankind.

The best part? I’m almost halfway done with my new book. In only two and a half weeks! I plan on also writing a prequel novella before I release. So after editing and setting everything up, you can expect a release by May 2017.

I’m going to get back to work.

Blake

Hi friends,

In my relentless quest to do research on what will make my writing career a reality, I have discovered that many resources exist out there to help indie authors break out and be successful. This is going to be a short post, so I’ll just go ahead and get to it:

  • The Writing Excuses Podcast: hosted by Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Howard Tayler, and Mary Robinette Kowal. 15 minute episodes that help to teach writers how to improve their writing and find success in their careers (heavy emphasis on traditional publishing).
  • The Creative Writing Career Podcast: ¬†hosted by Stephan Bugaj, Justin Sloan, and Kevin Tumlinson. This one is quickly becoming my all-time favorite, simply because the focus seems to be on indie authors rather than traditionally published ones. This podcast is laden with good information on exactly¬†how to sell your book, and how to break out as a self-pub author.
  • Kindlepreneur: This website is an awesome resource if you want to learn about marketing your books. The emphasis (made obvious by the title) is on publishing with Amazon and how to sell books in the Kindle marketplace.
  • KDP Rocket: This is a cool little website that lets you search for key words in Amazon’s search engines. The idea is for authors to be able to write to market by searching for those keywords (and niche markets) that will result in higher book sales and SEO placement in Amazon. Just so you know, the service itself is not free.
  • Six Figure Author: I know that there are dozens (if not hundreds) of books out there that claim to have the secret formula to help writers become successful, but “Six Figure Author” by fellow indie author Chris Fox really inspired me. In the book he goes over how to use data science to sell books, which is a key part of being successful in this day and age.

Okay, I want to start this one off with a disclaimer: I am by no stretch of the imagination an expert on the subject. I am not a published author, and I don’t even have much of a following. But I have¬†written consistently for the last year and a half and produced three novellas, a number of short stories, and about a third of a 250,000 word book. I wanted to share my method with any aspiring writers out there because it has proven very effective for me despite me having a full-time job and a wife/small baby at home.

How did authors like Brandon Sanderson and Stephen King become some of the most famous writers in the world? The answer is that they consistently write good stories that people want to read. The sad truth is that most authors fail before they can ever be “discovered” because they write in infrequent, sporadic bursts. They have a story that they have been developing in their head for years, and they go weeks or even months in between writing sessions, where they would sit down at the keyboard and pump out 1,000 – 10,000 words in a single sitting. Could you imagine if a bodybuilder did that when it came to weightlifting? They would never see any progress! I’ve compiled a little list of things I have discovered for myself that may help any writers who have found themselves in a similar sort of situation.

You Have To Love What You Write

This one may seem a little obvious, but you would be surprised the number of writers I have spoken to who actually find little enjoyment in writing their stories. I was one of them, once. The fact of the matter is that loving what you are writing makes the whole process much, much easier. If you find yourself dreading sitting down and writing your story, maybe it is time to move on to something else and experiment with something new. Try writing a different genre. Try switching the POV, or changing the gender of your main character. If you can find yourself getting excited about your world and your plot, then that’s the best possible situation, because you will find that you are always thinking about your story, even when you are not writing it.

A Good Outline Is An Absolute Necessity

This is something that a lot of new writers have a hard time with, and for good reason: outlining can be bloody difficult. The truth is that this is going to require some experimentation. For me, I needed to put my thoughts on paper. I needed sticky notes and highlighters and notes about who my characters were and why they were doing the things that they were doing. This helped me visualize the plot and the things I wanted to happen in my story, and eventually I was able to map out chapter by chapter exactly what I wanted to happen in my book. Here is a picture of my crazy method of outlining:

I’m not going to lie to you, creating the outline for “The Edge of Light and Shadows” took me 20+ hours to complete, and I still find myself adding to it or taking things away every week, but it was well worth the late nights and constant deliberation. Now, every time I sit down to write, I know EXACTLY what I will be writing, where the story is going, and what the characters need to do to move the plot forward.

Start With Baby Steps, Then Push Yourself

Writing consistently is hard, so do not overdo it in the beginning. Take baby steps. My goal initially: 500 words per day. That made it easy for me to carve out 30-45 minutes at the end of the day before bed to write. And here is a little fun fact – the more you write, the fast (and more importantly, the better) you become. If you are consistently pumping out 500 words per day, then you are getting 3,500 words per week. That’s not an insane amount, but it is enough. Eventually you will find that your writing is getting faster, and if you push yourself you can quickly get up to 6, 7, 8 hundred words in that same little time slop you allotted yourself every night.

Remember, I have a wife, a baby, and a full-time job in corporate America that takes up the majority of my time. But like I said earlier, I have been writing consistently for well over a year, and now I am producing between 1,000 and 2,000 words every day. Let’s do the math, that’s an average of 10,500 words per week, 42,000 words per month, and over 500,000 words per year! If I stay consistent, I could be pumping out a book equivalent to “The Way of Kings” and “Mistborn”, all within one year. How’s that for motivation?

Change Up The Way You Write

This one took a little experimentation on my part, but it absolutely changed the way I write. I keep all my writing in a cloud, but I do not do most of my writing on my computer. I do it on my smartphone. I got the idea when I heard that Peter V. Brett, author of “The Warded Man”, wrote the entire novel on his iPhone while he was on the subway to work each morning. Now, I do a majority of my writing on my smartphone and it is¬†amazing. Suddenly I was not tied down to one place. I could write while my car was at Jiffy Lube, while my wife was trying on clothes at the mall, and while I was sitting on the toilet. It opened a whole new world of possibilities for me, and it also made it easier to hit my WPD (words per day) goal, each and every day. Heck, sometimes I will even write a chapter by hand in a notebook, just to keep things fresh. Anything that helps you hit your WPD goal is a very, very good thing.

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Write Always, Even When You’re Not Writing

This should go without saying, but I still think that it is worth mentioning.¬†Always be writing.¬†Now, I don’t mean physically write down words during every second of the day; what I mean is constantly be thinking about your story, and think of ways that it can be improved. Sometimes I find myself thinking about my book in the shower, or when I am driving into work. It’s all good, because what it is doing is keeping your aspiring writing career top of mind. You wouldn’t believe the number of times I have come up with a great idea for a scene or a great plot device while I am laying in bed trying to fall asleep, or while I am binge watching¬†The Office¬†for the tenth time in a row. Try to always keep your writing in the back of your head, and becoming a consistent writer will naturally follow.

Find A Way To Be Accountable

The final step is perhaps the most important, and it is to find someone to whom you can be accountable. It is so easy to slip up and not write, especially when you have a lot of things going on. Take me for example. Recently I graduated from college and packed up all of our things and moved across the country (not an easy feat with a 10 month old baby crying in the back seat), and at the end of a long day of driving, the last thing that I wanted to do was delve into my fictional world and scribble down a few paragraphs. It was my wife, bless her heart, who pushed me and reminded me to write when I did not want to. In fact, she is constantly asking me, “Blake, did you write today?” Which is something that I appreciate very much.

Accountability will keep you consistent when you get in your own way, which is bound to happen considering that we are all infallible, imperfect beings. As an old boss once told me, “We are building this ship as we are sailing it.” I hope that my little blog post has been able to give you a few ideas on how you can become a more consistent writer yourself.

Until next time,

Blake

Hello friends,

I‚Äôm pleased to say that the progress on the Shadowbinder series is coming along nicely. It looks like I will be completing Book 1 by late summer of this year. Yay! This is pretty exciting stuff, considering it is going to be my first full-length novel. And let me tell you, this book is going to be A BEAST. I estimate that ‚ÄėThe Edge of Light and Shadows‚Äô to be somewhere between 200 and 300k words. That‚Äôs a very thick book. But hey! It‚Äôs epic fantasy. It sort of comes with the territory.

So, for those who don’t know me, I am a planner. I like to look ahead and make plans accordingly. The question has crossed my mind many times: how the heck am I going to publish this thing? I can see the way the wind is blowing, and self-publishing is obviously the way of the future (which, honestly, appeals to the entrepreneur in me), but I of course am open to other options. One of the things that has caught my attention is this service called Inkshares. For those of you who don’t know, Inkshares is a crowdfunding publisher that is similar to Kickstarter and Indiegogo, only instead of products being developed by indie types, it is books. The idea is that if a book/author gets a certain number of pre-sales, then Inkshares will publish them, giving the writer editorial services, marketing, artwork, distribution and whole list of other benefits.

I’m not going to lie, this sort of thing really intrigues me. I’ve launch a few Kickstarters in my day, and the idea of crowdfunding my work appeals to me because it is something that I understand. One of the things that scare a lot of self-published authors is the initial investment to get artwork and editing done on your book. Inkshares addresses this pain point. They also have a platform that allows a no-name like myself to garner some sort of a following, which is something that traditionally has been very hard to do.

I wanted to get your opinions on the matter. Is Inkshares something that I should pursue? Leave your comments below, or feel free to email me directly.

Thanks for reading!

Blake

Hello Everybody!

Sorry that it’s been a while since my last blog post, but my family just recently moved across the country and I’ve started a new job out in Tennessee. It’s a little bit different from what I am used to in Utah, but I can tell that I am already going to like living out here.

Needless to say, I haven’t been completely unproductive over the last couple of weeks. I have managed to stay on top of my writing, and as you can see I have moved the progress bar for Shadowbinder up to 10%! We are making steady progress. On track to finish the novel by the end of 2017.

I’ve been reading “Six-Figure Author” by Chris Fox, and I have to say that the idea of using KU and publishing independently is very appealing to me. It seems like that is the direction the industry is heading, and I feel like it will allow me to simultaneously be an author and an entrepreneur. I’ll have to do a little more research before I make my decision (luckily I have time… I don’t even have a book to publish yet), but honestly I am leaning more toward indie pub and away from traditional pub.

My writing is improving every day, and I can tell that I am getting much faster. Even with my day job, I am managing to pump out about 1,000 words per day, which is almost double what I am used to doing. Hopefully, if I am consistent enough and I don’t give up, and can be doing this full-time in the next few years.

Anyways, I look forward to updating you more in the near future! Until then,

Stay Classy.

-Blake

For those few people who visit my website, you may have noticed that I have moved the progress bar for Shadowbinder Book I from “Outlining 99%” to “Draft One 1%”! I’m just finishing up the prologue now, and it’s feeling pretty damn good.

I’ve written several novellas and short stories, but this is the first time I have outlined and planned my stories to this extent, and I’m not going to lie, I’m feeling pretty confident about the future. I have established a pretty good pace over the past year, so I estimate I will finish draft one, tentatively titled “The Edge of Light and Shadows” by the end of 2017.

As always, I will keep you posted about my progress and post little tidbits here and there about the world and the story.

Stay tuned!

-Blake

Metallum 42

A Short Story

Blake Arthur Peel

Ship Log 001 ‚Äď EST 2:25 am | Aug 26, 2038

<start transmission>

I’ve heard it said that space is the “final frontier”. Well, after countless¬†days¬†living up here and dealing with one disaster after another, I can confidently tell you one thing.

The frontier sucks.

My name is Scott Evans, and this is my story.

I am the Foreman in Chief of the Venture¬†Mining Company’s operation here on Metallum 42. Or at least I used to be. You see, the crew¬†on Metallum 42 ran into a bit of a catastrophe recently, one that has turned the majority of the roughnecks into vicious man-eating space zombies. But I’m getting ahead of myself.¬†I’d¬†better start from the beginning.

Since the first successful asteroid mining operation in 2034, there has been a sort of mass exodus of private companies going into space seeking precious metals. Think of it as the California gold rush on steroids. Several companies, like the Venture Mining Company, were created out of nothing by enterprising venture capitalists seeking to get their hands on some of the infinite resources of space, and were offering insanely high wages for anyone brave enough (or foolish enough) to take a ship out to the far reaches of our star system to essentially pan for gold.

That’s where I came in.

I had some experience working on an oil rig in the Bering Sea, and that was enough experience to land me a job as the manager of a crew of over one hundred miners. It seemed like a pretty cushy gig. Not only was I jumping rank to foreman and given the opportunity to take a ship into space, but my salary virtually tripled overnight. Not a bad job for a roughneck from Anchorage without a college degree. After a grueling eight weeks of training, my home for the next thirteen months became Metallum 42.

Metallum 42 is a type-M asteroid in the belt between Mars and Jupiter. For those of you who aren’t up on your space-jargon, a type-M rock is a really big deal. There are three types of asteroids that we know about: type-C, type-S, and type-M. Type-C asteroids are known to carry water and organic elements like carbon and phosphorus, while type-S asteroids have less water and more metal than type-C. These are both pretty common in our solar system.¬†A type-M asteroid, however, is what we call¬†the big kahuna. It is the rarest of the three types, and contains more than ten times the metal than a type-S carries. We’re talking gold, platinum, iron, cobalt, silver,¬†palladium, you name it. With the resources on Earth rapidly vanishing, an 200 km-wide¬†asteroid like Metallum 42 sounded like a dream come true.

After a vicious bidding war, Venture eventually won the exclusive rights to settle and mine the coveted asteroid. It was shaping up to be one of the most lucrative business excursions of the century.

So my crew and I trained for the journey into space, knowing full well that we were about to embark on the craziest adventure of our lives. We trained for zero gravity and were put through tests that pushed us to our very limits. But the promise of riches in the frontier of space was enough for us to overcome any obstacle we faced.

Eventually, we all suited up and were launched out of the atmosphere by one of the most sophisticated rockets the free market could produce, then were put to sleep for the long voyage out to the Asteroid Belt.

To be honest, the trip felt short to me. It was like I took a long nap and before I knew it we were awakened by the computers on our ship as we approached Metallum 42.

The next few days flew by in a blur.

We landed on the big rock and began setting up camp, building a central mining¬†facility¬†and unloading the machinery that would allow us to bore into the rock beneath our feet. Before we knew it we were blasting holes and carving a path deep into 42’s jagged surface.

We were met with wild success.

It seemed like no matter where we drilled, we found a vein of minerals worth more than some of the¬†countries on Earth.¬†Copper¬†and silver, platinum and titanium, we felt like we had the touch of Midas, turning everything into gold. Our success made us greedy, and we plunged deeper and deeper into 42’s depths, working long hours and then partying hard after work. Then we made a discovery that would change the nature of our mission.

This is where the story gets good.

Four months after landing on the surface of Metallum 42, we carved our way into a network of caves deep underground near the asteroid’s core. These tunnels had been protected from¬†the vacuum of space, and were filled with a gas cocktail of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and water vapor. Our boys did not find any minerals down there, but what they did find was worth more than any of the rocks found on 42.

Alien life.

Growing on the walls of these tunnels was an organic substance that resembled lichen, a grey spongy material that had developed in the strange ecosystem deep in the belly of the asteroid. We called it moss, but the scientific types eventually named it Extraterrestrial Ascomycota. Just a fancy name for space moss.

When we bored into those tunnels we were amazed. Luckily the way we mined kept the tunnels sealed from outer space, so we did not disturb the environment too much when we discovered it. I was in the control room when our miners first saw the underground moss. Of course they wore oxygen masks that protected them from whatever gases  were trapped within 42. I remember all of us being silent for a time, staring at the images of the alien lichen on our computer monitors. I remember numbly picking up the phone and radioing in to our headquarters back on Earth to notify them on what we found.

Immediately we were told to quarantine off the tunnels and to halt all further mining efforts on Metallum 42. The folks at Venture HQ told us to ship back the minerals we had already found and hang tight, and that they would be sending someone out to investigate the situation. The weird grey-green lichen was more important than any amount of gold or platinum on that rock.

The waiting was boring, but eventually the scientists began to arrive from Earth, landing on ships stamped with the seal of the U.S. government. They came with their beakers and their hazmat suits, with an air of superiority that made us all feel like a bunch of school children. They came and set up shop right in the middle of our mining facility and used our roughnecks as manual labor. But with the discomfort came a slew of much-needed answers.

The scientists were a coalition made up of both private and government agencies. They took samples and ran tests and eventually¬†figured out exactly what we were dealing with.¬†Extraterrestrial Ascomycota¬†was¬†what is¬†known as¬†an extremophile.¬†Extremophiles are organisms that thrive¬†in¬†extreme environments, usually with high pressure or heat. On Earth, extremophiles are¬†often¬†bacteria that live near hydrothermal vents in places like Yellowstone. The grey moss we found was a freak of nature. It grew in¬†low¬†gravity, in an ecosystem that was little more than a scientific anomaly, and it seemed to be self-sustaining in the high temperatures near the asteroid’s core.

Needless to say, the science nerds were completely baffled by its existence.

For a while, everything was done by the books, everyone adhering strictly to protocol. Everyone entering and exiting the underground tunnels had to wear airtight hermetically sealed hazmat suits, and be thoroughly cleaned before and after they left the caves. Not only that, but any samples procured by the scientists had to be kept in special containers and locked away under 24/7 surveillance in a lab above ground. Not even the media knew what was going on. The suits at Venture and the U.S. government apparently wanted to keep the whole thing under wraps until we knew everything there was to know about the extremophiles. After all, we did just uncover one of the biggest breakthroughs in the history of the world. Man is not alone in the universe.

We went on like this for a couple of months. The miners provided manual labor and the scientists ran their tests. The excitement of our discovery quickly wore off, and the days seemed to drag on as the mundane nature of our chores caught up with us.

That is, until the first people started getting sick.

It started slowly at first, but as the weeks wore on we started noticing that some kind of bug was going around the camp. It began with the scientists, a handful of them being admitted to the medbay with reports of chills, vomiting, diarrhea, and delirium. Then, it spread to my roughnecks, who came down with similar symptoms that did not seem to get any better.

At first we thought that it was some kind of flu, but that was quickly disproved when we realized that there had not been any new arrivals from Earth in weeks. After that, we thought that there must be something wrong with our water or food stores, that perhaps our sewer system was contaminating our supplies. But a quick inspection of our facilities proved that everything was still working properly.

It was then that somebody made a connection between the grey moss and the mysterious epidemic that was spreading throughout Metallum 42. By this time several people had already died and many were on their way out as well. Their bodies were stored in airtight bags and prepared for shipment back to Earth for burial. A team of investigators including myself, my second in command Walter Giles, and Head Researcher Natalie Howells and several of her cronies scoured the security feeds and realized that one of the scientists, who was now dead, did not properly seal one of the storage containers that held samples from down below.

The storage facility, which dozens of people on both sides had access to, had been exposed to something that was killing off our people.

Immediately we went on high alert, quarantining the area and the people who came in contact with those who were sick. The lower levels, which contained the strange alien ecosystem, were locked down until further notice.

In order to keep the folks on Earth from panicking, Natalie ordered that all correspondence to the outside be stopped, and imposed radio silence on our facility.

As you can imagine, around this time things started to get really intense.

“What the hell is going on, Scott?” My roughnecks would ask me when the new rules were established. “Why can’t we send emails to our families?”

“We don’t want to cause a panic back at headquarters,” I would tell them, doing my best to act confident. “You know how those suits can be. One whiff of trouble and all of a sudden we are sent home without the pay we were promised. Everything will be okay in a couple of days.” I remember laughing to set them at ease.

“Alright,” they would say, their expressions worried. “We trust you.”

Trust. That is a million dollar word.

The worst is having people trust you when you know in your gut that everything is going to hell.

And I mean it literally when I say hell.

It was July¬†10, 2038 when the first corpse began to stir in its ziploc tomb. Initially, we thought that the poor guy had not been dead after all, that perhaps the disease had put him in some sort of a coma. We couldn’t have been more wrong. As soon as we tried to open the bag to give the man some air, the “dead” man attacked us and bit one of my miners, a man named Bill. Let me make one thing clear: when I say bite, I don’t mean it like when somebody takes a bite¬†of a¬†sandwich. I mean it like when a rabid animal tries to rip the flesh off of a¬†bone. The damn thing nearly tore off Bill’s¬†hand.

Panicked, sickened, we locked the rabid man in isolation and rushed a wounded Bill to the medbay to be patched up and to receive antibiotics. Over the course of the next several days, more of the corpses began to rise, tearing their way from their flimsy prisons.

I’m sad to say that Bill did not make it, and neither did a great many of my friends living on 42. Out of sheer terror I broke our self-imposed radio silence and told¬†the suits back on Earth about our situation. More on that later.

While all of this was going on,¬†Natalie’s researchers tested the blood of those affected¬†by the disease and examined the moss contained in the unsealed container. At first glance there was nothing out of the ordinary, I mean, as ordinary as one-of-a-kind space moss can be. Then, when they looked closer, they noticed something amazing and terrifying about the samples they collected.

Extraterrestrial Ascomycota, like lichen, had been living a symbiotic relationship with another organism deep in the caves. Under the microscope, they found a microscopic fungus that they referred to as microfungi. This microfungi had been living among the moss like ticks on a deer, feeding on its organic matter and releasing carbon dioxide for the moss to breathe in. Within their contained ecosystem the two formed the perfect relationship, providing each other with the necessary ingredients for life. The moss, when taken from its subterranean home was harmless, a simple form of life that had no defense mechanisms because it never had needed them. The fungi, however, was a different story. When removed from its habitat in the tunnels, it recognized that its host was slowly dying. Without a living organism for it to attach to, it released spores into the air to try and find another host.

It was in that moment, when the fungus was releasing its spores, that the careless scientist left a breach in the container. At the time we had no idea, but in retrospect we learned that the spores not only infected that lone scientist in the lab, but that they also infiltrated the air ducts and spread throughout the whole research wing of the mining facility.

In order to be dangerous, the spores had to be inhaled. The microscopic fungus spores would attach themselves to the walls of the trachea and lungs, and from there reproduce and spread through the bloodstream to other areas of the body, finally making it to the brain. The human body, of course, would recognize the foreign invasion and react to try and eradicate it, giving rise to the flu-like symptoms the victims presented. Eventually, the microfungus would kill its newfound host. But then something strange, stranger than anything else, transpired. Twenty-four to forty-eight hours after the death of the victim, the fungus would reanimate the corpse, taking control of their brain, and turn them into mindless animals capable of feeling only one emotion: hunger.

Look, I know that we have all seen our fair share of zombie movies. But what happened on Metallum 42 was a different beast entirely. Imagine the horror of being trapped in a building¬†with virtually no escape to the outside world, locked with a growing horde of reanimated corpses and watching the people you have grown to love over the last several months die one by one. There is no coming back from something like that. I doubt I will ever get a full night’s sleep for the rest of my life.

Over the course of the next several weeks more and more people began to fall ill. Those who died and rose again were locked away (with much difficulty and more than a few casualties) in their rooms, but eventually we had to quarantine off whole sections of the facility.

Our ships, which were not equipped for any kind of mass exodus, had to be repurposed so that we could get the healthy people out of there, and the process took a lot longer than any of us anticipated.

The bodies kept piling up and it was beginning to look like all hope was lost when the cavalry arrived. A dozen state-of-the-art para military ships entered our sector of the asteroid belt like the Riders of Rohan from The Lord of the Rings, carrying with them a small army of gas-masked soldiers. As you can imagine, those of us who were left felt pretty relieved at this point. The soldiers would take out the zombies and we would all have a first class ticket out of this nightmare.

We sent out a small group of people to go out and greet them, but then, the unthinkable happened. Instead of meeting our welcome committee and asking for a debriefing on the situation, they pointed their weapons and opened fire.

I’ll spare you the gory details, but let me just tell you that if things were not desperate before the military arrived, they were now. Inside the base complete¬†pandemonium¬†erupted. Scientists and miners shoved and scrambled as the soldiers descended with their machine guns, trying desperately to get out of the way and avoid their bullets. These men had no doubt been given strict orders to¬†eliminate¬†everything on Metallum 42, to leave nothing alive so that the¬†contagion¬†would be contained.

In the chaos, myself, Natalie Howells, Walter Giles, and a few of my most trusted roughnecks managed to escape into the service tunnels beneath the main mining facility. As we ran, hoping that the soldiers were not following, we devised a desperate plan to commandeer one of the smaller military vessels and to leave the asteroid behind us for good.

There was only one problem: the tunnels we were in¬†part¬†of the¬†quarantined¬†area of the facility. They were crawling with the risen corpses.¬†We didn’t care. When you are facing a firing squad for crimes you did not commit, you are willing to take almost any chance to escape.

It was tough going at first, crawling through maintenance shafts and closing and barring every door we could behind us, but eventually we felt that we had lost our pursuers and gave ourselves a little time to breathe and discuss.

From what we could see before the soldiers began shooting at our people, the ships they had arrived on were largely unguarded in the above-ground hangar. The other roughnecks and I racked our brains to try and remember a way we could make it to the hangar from our current position. If we could make it to the main air purifier, then maybe we would be able to find a ventilation duct that would bring us up to where the ships were docked.

It was the best plan we could come up with.

Natalie¬†and I led the way through the darkened tunnels beneath Metallum 42. Our mobiles provided adequate¬†lightening¬†but we were afraid that the batteries would quickly be drained. Above our heads, through the asteroid’s rock, we could hear the faint thudding sounds of gunfire as the soldiers no doubt made their way through the facility, killing everything in their path.

“It’s a shame,” Natalie would whisper as we walked. “It’s such a shame. So much research and discovery lost because of¬†fear mongering.”

I tried hard to keep my mouth shut. She wasn’t bad to look at, this science lady, but she may as¬†well have been a robot for all the emotion she showed.

It was quiet for a time as we walked, with the exception of the dull explosions above our heads from the soldiers. Eventually, however, things got a little more dicy.

If I had to guess, I would say that we were over halfway to the chamber that housed our air purifier when we encountered our first zombie.

To this day I am not sure how those monsters found their way down into those tunnels¬†from above. The first one jumped out of a hiding place behind some metal crates and latched itself onto one of my miners, biting into his neck and spraying blood everywhere. The poor guy, named Chip I think, didn’t even get a chance to scream before his throat was opened.

Armed with whatever mining tools we could find, we beat the thing off of him and caved in its head. It’s body had been twisted and deformed by the fungus multiplying inside of it, and we couldn’t even tell if the thing was male or female.

Suddenly terrified and wary, we continued our trek onward, leaving Chip’s body behind.

I’ll admit that walking through those tunnels was probably the most scared I’d ever been in my entire life. One by one our people were picked off by zombies, including my right-hand man Walter,¬†until eventually only Natalie and myself remained. Yet somehow, a miracle perhaps, we made it to the air purification center and found a ventilation duct leading upward to where I guessed was the¬†spaceship¬†hangar.

I let Natalie crawl up the shaft first, then I quickly followed, not wanting to be left alone in the undead maze below.

The duct was narrow and dusty, but we shimmied our way up and finally arrived at our destination. From what we could see through the vent, the hangar appeared to be empty, so we kicked opened the vent and crawled out into the main bay.

The ships themselves were empty, and it didn’t take us long to identify a small vessel that looked like it could be piloted by one or two people. But just as we felt a glimmer of hope, we heard something explode off to the right of us.

Fire erupted from the double doors leading into the main facility, and we saw several soldiers backing into the hangar, firing their weapons at a horde of corpses that shuffled toward them.

“Get to the ships!” One of the soldiers yelled, before getting jumped on by three different zombies.

“There are too many of them!” Another shouted, trying¬†desperately¬†to reload his assault rifle.

We watched in horror as the small band of soldiers was overwhelmed and devoured by two or three dozen of the monsters.

Before we could even comprehend what was happening, a group of zombies, maybe seven or eight, noticed us standing there and began making their way toward us.

Natalie¬†whimpered in fear, the first emotion I’d ever seen¬†on¬†her. “I don’t think we are going to make it,” she said, her voice quivering. The ship was on the other side of the hangar, too far for us to go without being overtaken by the zombies.

“There is still a chance,” I said, looking at Natalie, then back at the approaching zombies.

Before she could reply, I grabber her by the shoulders and shoved her toward them. Then, I turned and ran as fast as I could for the ship and closed the hatch behind me.

I can still hear her screams as the corpses ripped her apart, the confusion and the horror in her voice¬†will forever haunt my dreams. But that didn’t stop me from firing up the engines and getting the hell off 42 on a course¬†set¬†for Earth.

I’m not proud of what I did, but I also never claimed to be the hero of this story. If I had not¬†left Natalie to die, then¬†neither¬†of us would have made it off that¬†rock to warn the rest of humanity of the space moss or the evil fungus. Another greedy corporation would send an army of miners to pick up where we left off, and they would find the same fate we did. If that fungus ever made it back to Earth, it could mean the end of civilization as we know it.

As my ship flies through space I tell you this story so that my knowledge and my crimes will survive. The tragedy of Metallum 42 must be remembered, and that damn asteroid has to be nuked to protect humanity.

I only hope that God forgives me for what I did. He knows that I would do it again in heartbeat.

It’s time for me to go into cryo… my stomach is killing me and my¬†head aches¬†from the stress of it all. By the time I wake up, I should be about to enter Earth’s atmosphere.

Evans out.

<end transmission>