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The Gates of Hell
I have the third story in the Four Horsemen Universe anthology The Gates of Hell, entitled “First Steps” about the invention of the CASPer powered armor. It’s kind of fitting that I wrote it, since way back in the first 4HU novel, Mark Wandrey Tuckerized Dr. Mauser as the inventor. This is the 50th 4HU book to come out. It’s an amazingly broad and rich shared Universe, and I’m proud to be a small part of it.
The Blurb says:
They say if you put two rats in a cage, they will try to kill each other. Alex Sanderson is one such rat, an alien-hating pilot apprentice. The other, a madwoman so dangerous to the Al-Natiri that they needed human help to contain her. They set up Alex and imprisoned him with her hoping for a solution their ethics would not allow. They assumed that if they simply turned their backs, he would do what came naturally and take care of their problem. But even with the deck stacked heavily in his favor, nobody could have predicted the outcome.
After all, Humans are not rats.
Note: This story contains profanity, some violence, and sexual situations, although not especially graphic, they may be offensive to some readers.
New edition for 2015 with a cover by Sebastian.
This story is a Novelette, about 14,500 words long. This book is delivered without DRM.
It’s a nasty little story, with, as some reviewers have noted, two very unsympathetic characters. Why did I write it?
I blame the aspirin. No, seriously, if I take aspirin before I go to bed, I have extremely vivid dreams in the morning, and I often dream up strange architecture, like the room featured in this story. I won’t go into the rest of it….
But also, I had the idea of an “Elevator story” where you take two characters who would normally never interact, and you trap them in a room together and force them to. Every sitcom had one episode where people got trapped in an elevator together, as well as a good number of dramas. It’s a classic device (either that or the meat locker/grocery store freezer for added peril).
In this case, an alien-hating bigot, and an alien who likewise hates humans.
There were some other questions I wanted to throw in there, like, what’s the worst possible crime you can commit among a race of Telepaths? And in a race of Telepaths, where they naturally form proximity-based networks, what is the worst possible punishment?
I am more on the Human Wave side of storytelling, but in this one I also wanted to pull in the concept of humans AS the punishment, for something the aliens couldn’t do for themselves. See The Outer Limits: The Zanti Misfits for a canonical example, only I took a left turn at the climax.
(And as for climaxes, yes, there is a sex scene, but there is no love involved.)
A few people have dismissed it as “Furry Bondage Porn”. I’ve even joked about it as that before too. One well-known internet Troll even called it “50 Shades of Blue”, alluding to Avatar, but really, it’s not.
There is a LOT of subtle foreshadowing in it, maybe too subtle, because a lot of folks missed where the narrator starts to become unreliable. But I’ve always thought of it as a “Read Twice” story, once for the mystery, and once to spot all the clues.