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The Calle Cinco de Mayo Massacre

Living in America means taking things for granted. We assume there will always be water to drink, food to eat, and electricity to keep the lights burning. We expect roads to be in good repair, buildings to remain standing, and VNet to keep humming along. But what happens when the foundation upon which we build our lives is shattered by an act of terrorism? What happens when we look to the sky and see planes diving for the ground?

An Oral History of the Margate MESH

The more things change, the faster they change. At no time in our history was that more true than in the years between 2018 and 2026 when America and most of the civilized world was almost brought to a technological standstill by a group of hackers who valued privacy over regulation and freedom over democratically elected control. This is the story of how the Margate MESH brought us to the brink and how the men and women of this great country brought us back.

A Cry in the MESH

Mornings in the store were quiet, with only one or two locals dropping by to fill up deisel drums for their ancient combines and tractors. Mid-day, Nelson rotated the stock in the coolers, tossing out the milk that had gone more than three weeks past its expiration date. He spent time cleaning the spotless floor, wiping down the untouched glass doors, and rearranging the undisturbed bags of chips. In the afternoon, when the sun was low enough to bounce off the 277’s blacktop, Nelson retreated to the back office to dial-up to the handful of Bulletin Board Systems he frequented. He read news stories, played a few games, and downloaded the latest celebrity nudes, all while keeping a watchful eye on the security cameras.

The Coker Job

Tanzy placed her hands on the floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out over the Atlantic City boardwalk. From the 78th floor of the White Dragon Resort and Casino, the people below were mere specks on a thin band of polluted sand. Choppy water filled most of the view, stretching out into the distance under a blanket of twinkling stars. She pressed her forehead against the glass and tried to look down the building.

The Chip Job

The last thing Danny needed was a history lesson on Austin, Texas. He knew the city’s love-hate relationship with the tech companies that had built it up only to abandon it in its time of need. He knew hundreds of disheveled engineers showed up on its doorstep every day with their student loans and CCNA certificates hoping for a job with one of the few tech companies that remained. They flocked to the campuses of Dell, Pattrn, and Nixle Chronos, but more often than not ended up in Old Downtown with all the rest of the unused talent.

Johnny’s Loop

When he was fifteen years old, Johnny San Vito logged into a military-sponsored, virtual reality BBS using his dad’s account and threatened to beat the shit out of an Airman who went by the ultra-cool handle Raw Dawg. I was right there along with him too, using my dad’s account, but to this day I’m ninety percent sure it was Johnny who started the whole mess. And when Raw Dawg went crying to his superiors, it was our dads who got called in for disciplinary meetings. I don’t know how or if Johnny ever got punished for getting his dad in trouble, but I had my immersion rig taken away for three months.

Aftermath

Did you know that the Guardian Angels short story is a “bridge story” between Xronixle and Perion Synthetics? It stars Rick Diaz, but is ultimately a story about Kaili Zabora, who has become the common thread in the Vinestead Universe besides Vinestead itself. I really like the idea of a short 20,000 story bridging the gap between the larger novels. That got me thinking: why not write bridge stories for all the gaps?

Target Practice

“Take a deep breath and release it. When your lungs are empty, gently squeeze the trigger.”

Jessie tightened her grip on the Sig Sauer and inhaled sharply through her nose. The girl’s body trembled as she held her breath, but Gordon put a steadying hand on her shoulder, prompting her to release it. She tightened her finger around the trigger, rocking through the Sig’s double action, until finally the hammer fell and the gun jerked in her hand. Twenty yards away, the bullet tore through the outer border of a paper target before embedding itself in the wooden backstop. Five inches to the left and she would have hit the green silhouette. Seven more past that and she would have put a bullet between the eyes of the would-be assailant.

Hayden Island

The SUV followed I-5 north for several miles before taking the exit for Hayden Island, curling its way downward into a misplaced suburbia on the northern edge of Oregon. Well-to-do Portlandians hurried across the wide roads in their dense jogging suits, their reflective limbs catching the light from the SUV’s LEDs. Moon towers floated above retail parking lots, their pinpricks of illumination supported by tall, unyeilding stems. Danny watched the pedestrian parade roll by, took note of the few cars they passed.

The Broken Promise of Synthetic Transcendence

There’s nothing special about the Plummer Tower on the corner of Fountain and Gardner in Hollywood, California. It has a modern design of black windows on a gray grid and stands fifty stories tall. From the outside, you wouldn’t be able to tell it houses one of the biggest lies of the twenty-first century.

Since the technology was developed twenty years ago by Perion Synthetics, more than 78,000 Americans have bought into the slick marketing campaigns of companies like Vitra Synth.

Their message isn’t subtle: by transferring to a synthetic body, you can live forever.

Recent Reviews

Lovely Novel by an Author that Shows Great Potential I was lucky enough to have been given a free copy of this book through Goodreads: First Reads, and did not purchase this novel. First off, I will say that I did enjoy this book quite a bit. It was pretty original, and Daniel Verastiqui did a lovely job of creating an intriguing, futuristic setting for the story. The characters were realistic and easy to relate to, which definitely made me wish to read more about them, even after I finished the book. Beautifully written, the story hooked me from the first page and kept me interested until the very end. I’ve read my fair share of sci-fi futuristic novels, though not many of them have pleased me as much as this one did. Daniel Verastiqui certainly has a knack for writing for this genre, and in my opinion, has some much-needed creativity that many other authors lack. For this kind of book to work, and be enjoyable, the author has to both be imaginative and able to bring their thoughts to the pages. Luckily, this author can do both of these things quite well. But, despite the book’s greatness, it also had a few things that require improvement. One of those things is language. The author curses many times over the course of this novel, despite the fact that he really doesn’t have to. This gives some of the writing an immature feel, and was slightly annoying to have to read. Also, Daniel Verastiqui used the words “reconciled” and “veneer” WAY too many times during the course of the book. I understood that they were part of the world he created, but I felt as though he could have swapped them out a few times to seem less redundant. Grammar and spelling was great, and I found only a typo or two in the entire book. The formatting was good, and the author used nice sentence structures that kept the story flowing smoothly. The vocabulary used was irritatingly advanced at times, however, for the most part, it was good. There was little confusion or jumps in the storyline, and the ending was crafted beautifully, which makes me hope that there will be sequel coming soon. Overall, I read the book in record time, and was quite pleased with it. I will certainly be looking into reading more of the author’s books, and will be giving this to a few of my friends for them to read. I would recommend this novel to any fan of futuristic novels or stories involving advanced technology and its consequences. Any fan of Sci-fi and action would probably enjoy this book as much as I have. Veneer is certainly worth reading, and I am happy the author gave me the opportunity to read and review it.

Katie Bearor – Veneer

Gripping plot with real characters. As an ardent sci-fi fan I always appreciate it, regardless of genre, when the author invests in developing truly 3 dimensional interesting characters rather than simplistic good guys and bad guys and Verastiqui delivered. Then he took these characters on an intricate fast paced tale of human passion and growth while trying to paint one picture of where the slowly dissolving line between virtual vs. physical reality might bring us. obviously I enjoyed it.

GregAusTex – Xronixle
© 2018 Daniel Verastiqui