Cold Sweats And Vignettes by John Bowen is a collection of stories and teasers which surprised me with how good they are. Many short reads like this are just teasers for longer works and don’t impress me with anything new. In a forward, Bowen writes that yes, he has done longer work and other stories, but those presented here are not to boost sales of a different book. There are four well developed short stories in this 48-page collection which is available free to all and not through the Kindle Unlimited subscription program.
Story one: The Steal Rupert Motcombe is dying. Confined to a wheelchair and barely able to wheeze even with attached breathing devices, Rupert has just one wish before he dies. He makes his request to Lucas Smith, a type of business partner but who is primarily an art thief. Lucas will steal anything from other art collectors so that the stolen goods will appear in the private collection of his current client. The thefts will never come to the attention of the police because the private collector from whom the art was stolen had himself stolen it from another source. Money paid to Lucas also didn’t exist; there was no tax liability. For that matter, Lucas didn’t exist. The former original bearer of the Lucas Smith identity had died years before. The present Lucas was truly off the grid.
With all of this anonymity, there is a price to be paid and a danger to be reckoned with. Lucas is about to find out just how private Rupert’s collection really is.
Story two: Collide There has been an accident at the Large Hadron Collider at Cern. In a type of explosion that we might associate with a Chernobyl nuclear accident as far as size, things not only exploded but there was a type of implosion where animals (to include humans), as well as plants and insects, were swept up from the past and the future and deposited in the present. There had to be a huge quarantine as scientists were immediately worried about the transmission of disease. Something might come from the past which we had wiped out so there were no present day immune systems capable of defending against attack. There was a similar danger from future bacteria and viruses. Then there was the damage possible to society and culture. “Immigrants” from the future might reveal to present time residents the invalidity of entire belief system and end up sending present day folks into severe culture shock.
This story has lots of interesting and unique things to think about. The presentation is quite interesting as the story is told in the way it might be presented by different media. There is also the interpretation of how media would change over time. I was impressed with, and laughed at, the problems and descriptions of the “temporal refugees” from the future.
Story three: Crash The spaceship had hit something. They were going to crash as the ship was captured by the nearby planet’s gravity. Ben was the only survivor, his three crew members were dead. The only positive thing was that the planet where Ben landed (crashed) had a climate similar to his own. All the planets to be charted shared this characteristic. The planet was inhabited. The natives appeared to be armed but in his injured condition, Ben was not a threat. There was only one question of immediate interest.
Where was he?
Story four: The Fall Eddie Flynn knew he was in trouble when he woke up bound to a chair in a room very familiar to him. He had done some of his best work there. Some of the same instruments he liked to use were present on a nearby table. The pliers, the claw hammer, the knife, and the battery with leads that could be attached anywhere on the body were all familiar to Eddie. He knew what was going to happen and he was scared. But he couldn’t show it. He had to convince his “host” that the best thing would be to let Eddie go. There would be rewards. Eddie had to carry out the best bluff of his life. However, there are those who are not interested in the short-term immediate gratification that Eddie was offering.
Some liked to play the “long game.”