J. Scott Coatsworth, Less Than Three Press

Guest Post: The Homecoming by J. Scott Coatsworth

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My latest novella, The Homecoming, is out today, and I thought I’d share an exclusive excerpt with the readers of The Novel Approach.

I jokingly call this story my “wolfman meets spaceman” story, and while it’s sci-fi driven, it has elements of the paranormal, including shifters.

I chose this scene for your readers because it encapsulates the primal nature of the new Earth to which Aldiss, our spaceman, returns. It’s the moment when he awakens to the danger he’s put himself in, and is pivotal for Hari, our wolfman, too.

To set the scene, Alvin and his fellow crew member, Xandra, are trudging through a snowstorm hauling a third member of their team to safety when they find the body of the fourth member of the crew lying frozen in the snow.

Thanks for including me on your site for my blog tour. :)

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TH CoverPublisher: Less Than Three Press

Cover Artist: London Burden

Length: 20,000 Words

Buy Links: LT3 Press Book Market | Amazon | All Romance eBooks | Kobo

Blurb: When his own world is destroyed, Aldiss and his crew barely manage to escape, leaving friends and lovers behind. What was meant to be an exploratory trip back to the home world turns into a mad dash for survival.

When they awaken from stasis on Earth, which was abandoned by humanity five centuries before, they must quickly learn about their new home. While exploring the region around the ship, Aldiss meets Hari, a shape-changer, whose people harbor secrets that might cost the crew their lives.

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Excerpt: The nausea passed after a few minutes. Aldiss sat up and wiped off his lips, his hands shaking. He couldn’t speak, but he pointed to another pile of snow next to Rober. He didn’t want to look.

Xandra went over to it, brushing the snow away. It was a wolf, a black one.

For some reason, he breathed a little easier at that. He had been afraid, deep down in his gut, that its fur would be white.

Maybe it was the wolf that had attacked him earlier in the day. The cutter had slashed a nasty wound across the creature’s back. “Looks like they killed each other,” he said. He searched the tree-line around them, as if expecting to see wolves at every turn.

Xandra nodded grimly. She went to check on Cat, her hand gently touching the other woman’s forehead, pointedly not looking at Rober’s corpse. Cat looked like she was still asleep. He hoped it was just sleep.

Aldiss looked around the clearing for any trace of Rober’s cutter. Obviously the man had used it here. He paced around the bodies, using his boot to scuffle up the snow, but there was nothing metallic hidden under the covering blanket.

The trees loomed over them in the half light like giants.

“We should get going,” Xandra said, eyeing the forest warily. “There might be more of them.”

Aldiss neglected to mention that he knew there was at least one more.

He washed the blood from his hands in the ice-cold water of the stream. They were still shaking a little, but not too badly scraped up. He wished they had antibiotics, but he’d have to make do with a good washing.

He turned to say something to Xandra, and saw the wolf crouched at the far edge of the clearing. Deja vu of the worst kind.

Aldiss reached for the cutter at his side as the snow began once again to drift down lazily from the darkening sky. “Xandra.” He pointed in the direction of the wolf.

Her eyes went wide as she saw the beast. She was reaching for her own cutter as another wolf bounded out of the trees next to them, smashing into her and knocking her to the ground.

Aldiss freed his cutter, bringing it up and activating the laser blade as he stood. He swung it madly at the hindquarters of the wolf that was pinning Xandra to the ground, grazing it and sending it running back toward the cover of the trees.

The second wolf joined the action, lunging for Aldiss’s throat. Xandra just managed to bring her cutter up to slice off the wolf’s ear. The wolf yelped and jumped away, uttering a low growl.

Suddenly the small clearing was full of wolves.

Aldiss sliced the blade back-and-forth, the laser-sharp edge nipping animals left and right. Then something bit him in the leg, hard, and he fell to the ground with a scream, still swinging the deadly blade, yelling through the pain.

The snow fell more heavily, and the clearing grew darker and darker. His headlamp shone a crazy light through the falling patterns of snow as he looked around wildly for the next threat, revealing a furry tail here and bared teeth there.

In the gathering darkness, someone else screamed, a horrible guttural sound, and then went silent. “Xandra,” he shouted, feeling his way through the storm toward where he had heard the sound.

The snow and darkness now blocked almost all of his vision. Aldiss turned down his headlamp as low as it would go. He struggled forward on his hands and knees, the wound in his leg pulsing angrily, moving forward foot by foot. He prayed that the weather hid him from his enemies.

He found Xandra at last. She lay motionless, staring into the sky, her mouth agape in a silent scream. Her neck was ripped out in a jagged wound, just like Rober.

Aldiss felt sick again. He looked down at his own leg to see the wound, where sharp teeth had torn through the leg of his ASEA coveralls. He was losing blood, and fast, and who knew what kind of bacteria these wolves carried?

His vision faded in and out as he waved the cutter around in the darkness, his reflexes slowing.

I’m going to die out here, all alone.

He heard sounds of fighting continuing around him, and looked up, perplexed. Xandra was dead, and Cat… he didn’t know where he’d left Cat, lying by herself in the madness. But she’d been in no shape to stand, let alone fight.

The sounds of a struggle came closer, wolves howling in pain. He sat up as best as he was able, staring into the swirling snow.

A naked man stepped out of the darkness into the dim light of his headlamp, holding a cutter, dripping with blood.

Everything faded to black.

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j-scott-coatsworthAuthor Bio: Scott has been writing since elementary school, when he and won a University of Arizona writing contest in 4th grade for his first sci fi story (with illustrations!). He finished his first novel in his mid twenties, but after seeing it rejected by ten publishers, he gave up on writing for a while.

Over the ensuing years, he came back to it periodically, but it never stuck. Then one day, he was complaining to Mark, his husband, early last year about how he had been derailed yet again by the death of a family member, and Mark said to him “the only one stopping you from writing is you.”

Since then, Scott has gone back to writing in a big way, finishing more than a dozen short stories – some new, some that he had started years before – and seeing his first sale. He’s embarking on a new trilogy, and also runs the Queer Sci Fi site, a support group for writers of gay sci fi, fantasy, and supernatural fiction.

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