Farewell from the Bookshelf!

Please note that GLBT Bookshelf -- the community wiki which was the parent to this fiction blog -- went offline on May 31, 2016, after seven years' service to members.

All Gay Romance will remain online till the end of 2016 in order to give contributors every opportunity to recover materials uploaded here.

Many thanks to all who contributed over the years, and good luck to everyone in your future works!


From DEATH'S HEAD by Mel Keegan

A mere snippet from the first of the NARC Books ... Jarrat is MIA; Stone has tracked him halfway around a planet and come within fifty yards of him, only to leave. And Jarrat? He was left for dead, and still can't fathom who he is, who Stoney is -- but memory is coming back in hot flashes...

Pain scythed through his skull, stress and dread finding every laser-weld, every repair, and testing it without mercy as he watched the scene out in the yard. Evelyn had stepped back into a patch of shade under the old cypress tree. The NARC took the young man in his arms for a moment and they kissed briefly. John’s innards lurched painfully. Then both strangers climbed up the hardpoints, into the cockpit. The NARC pulled on a helmet as the canopy whined down, locked. Repulsion howled like a hurricane. The main engines ignited with an earsplitting crescendo of noise, the tailpipes jetted flame, and the aircraft was gone. It looped up into the sky in a backbreaking arc and climbed away into the northwest. Half a minute later even the echoes of its engine thunder had faded to nothing.

“Shit,” Simon muttered. “I could have cut his guts out.” He ran into the forecourt, still carrying the rifle, and called his sister’s name. “So what did the bastard want with us?”

John followed, wary and silent. His muscles trembled in reaction and he held his tongue as the sun dried the sheen of sweat on his skin. Evelyn looked from his face to Simon’s and back again. “He wanted John.”

“The NARC wanted you,” Simon said through his teeth. “I was right! You are a crimmo! A dealer? A money man? A mule?” He lifted the rifle to his shoulder. “And I was about to defend you.”

“Don’t point that thing at me unless you intend to use it,” John barked in a tone of voice Evelyn and Simon had never heard before. Normally he spoke softly, but not now. He took the HK out of Simon’s hands in one clean swipe. “And if you do, you better be ready to have your ass kicked from here to Eldorado. Besides, these weapons are illegal in civvy hands.”

“It isn’t illegal, it’s mine,” Evelyn said loudly. “I’m a veteran still listed with the Airlift Reserve. I’ve got a license. You know cannons?”

In answer, without thinking, he shouldered it, chose a limb on a tree a hundred meters back from the road and emptied the whole clip, dead on target. The wood splintered away and the limb fell heavily. His whole body remembered the feeling of the big weapon braying and vibrating. He felt the familiarity in his bones, and a voice spoke in the back of his mind, called him by name, and the name danced away again like a firefly.

The concussions rang back off the building. When they were silent once more Simon swore. “A shooter. You were a shooter.”

“Is he right?” Evelyn asked very quietly. “Were you, John? Come on, man! I just fed a crock of shit to that NARC, he’s coming back with a Tac intrusion permit. You can’t stay here much longer, not unless you want to go with him, maybe in manacles, maybe in a bodybag. He came here for you and, God help me, I almost handed you over without thinking! Your bullet scars, the conditioning of your mind. You could be Tac or NARC.”

“Or you could be syndicate,” Simon added. “I’ve been listening to the Tac band. There’s something on, something huge, and Death’s Head’s going to play rough, with real hardware. S’what they’re saying, Eve.”

She took a breath. “That’s not what I’m thinking.” She looked searchingly at John. “You probably are, or at least were, from Tactical. But you could be in trouble. Real trouble. On the run, between a rock and a hard place. NARC would bury you and ask questions later. Tan Del called Chell Tac, asking if they had an MIA fitting your description.” She shook her head. “Not a one. Which probably means you left Tactical not long ago. We just don’t know why.”

Fired, resigned? Convicted — justly or wrongfully? On the run from Tac, NARC and the syndicate? John handed the weapon to her. “Christ almighty, I don’t know. I wish I did. Thanks for getting rid of ... of him.” Sweat broke from every pore again as he turned away, left them, retreated to the house and flopped belly-down on the bed.

He took his skull in his hands and rubbed his forehead hard. The face of the NARC haunted him. The blue eyes glittered at him, but whether in mockery or welcome he could not tell. “Remember, goddamn you,” he groaned, “you sonofabitch, remember!”

The man’s face was still there, tormenting him as he exhausted himself and sank into a fretful sleep filled with acid-hot, dislocated dreams.

Excerpted from NARC #1: Death's Head by Mel Keegan

Illustrated by Jade with 3D art drawn from JADE'S ADVENTURES IN 3D

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