Necromancer Awakening: Chapter 1

Nat Russo Necromancer, Writing 1 Comment

The release of Necromancer Awakening: Book One of The Mukhtaar Chronicles is right around the corner. To celebrate, and to give you all a taste for what you’re in for, I’ve decided to release the first chapter right here on the blog.

 
I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. And don’t forget, if you want to read the rest of the story, Necromancer Awakening will be released on Friday, April 11 on the Kindle store, followed shortly thereafter in other formats. Read on past the jump for Chapter 1.

[UPDATE 5/10/2014] A month after release, Necromancer Awakening remains on 5 Amazon bestseller lists! Read on to see what all the fuss is about.

 
 
 

 

CHAPTER ONE
 
Nicolas yanked on Toby’s leash and jumped out of the darkened intersection as a delivery truck sped by honking its horn.
“Asshole,” Nicolas said as the driver waved his fist. “People live here, you know.”
    He knelt beside Toby and scratched the startled beagle. “I know, it’s too early for us, isn’t it?”
    Of all the days to wake up before the birds. I’m gonna get us both killed.
    “Are you sure you don’t need to go?”
    Toby whined and pulled him toward home.
    “You better not ask me later.”
    They crossed 24th Street to the six-story apartment building on west campus. Toby got excited when they approached the entry and started pulling at the leash.
    The staircase to his third story efficiency was immaculate and well-lit. The building was a few years old, but it had that brand new construction smell, as if the wood on the banister had been cut yesterday.
    I forgot to thank dad for putting me up here. He went to a lot of trouble, as always.
    His dad had bought him a car, subsidized his rent, and even got him into Archeology school so they could work together someday. Nothing was too much trouble. Nicolas was a teenager when Dr. Murray adopted him, against the advice of his own family, and he did everything to make Nicolas feel like a son.
    He pushed the thoughts away and slid the key into the lock, trying his best to keep quiet.
    Toby whined.
    “Shh,” Nicolas said. “Mr. Landing hates you enough as it is. You want him to come beat our door down again?”
    The old coot hates everyone, come to think of it. He’d fit in with some of the nuns at Saint John’s.
    Most of the nuns at the children’s home were wonderful, but one or two shouldn’t have been around kids. They acted as if they hated everything and everyone, going so far as to ignore the bullies who tormented Nicolas at every opportunity.
    Dad helped me with them too. He always said “Intimidation is the weapon of bullies. Don’t let them know you’re intimidated, and they’ll leave you alone.”
    Nicolas dropped the leash as the door opened, and Toby ran inside, attacking his favorite toy. It looked like a cross between an alligator and a pickle, so Nicolas and Kaitlyn had taken to calling it Toby’s gatorpickle.
    The annoying squawk of his alarm clock drew his attention to the time.
    Oh crap!
    He closed the door, silenced the alarm, and threw his clothes onto a pile of laundry outside the bathroom as he ran toward the shower.
    Nicolas placed his hand against the cold, wet tiles and let the lukewarm water pour over him. He hoped it would alleviate the nausea he’d felt since he got up.
    He didn’t know what was happening to him. Every night for the last couple of weeks had been the same. He’d go to sleep and have the worst nightmares of his life. A partially decaying head floating toward him, or a group of rotting corpses clawing their way out of cold, ancient rune-covered graves, chasing him until he woke up nauseated and covered in sweat. The skull dreams were getting worse. Last night he could smell the putrid clumps of rotting flesh falling from the decaying head.
    He wanted to tell Kait, but she’d downplay it. She’d chalk it up to stress from their upcoming graduation, or do some chore for him, thinking it would make him feel better. But all it would do is remind him of what happened. She wasn’t the person he needed to talk to anyway. Only his dad would be able to help him.
    An archaeologist who’s afraid of dead things. My future looks interesting.
    Toby bayed and spun, running too fast for his paws to grip the damp floor tiles. He looked as if he were running on an invisible treadmill. When his feet gained traction he launched himself out of the bathroom.
    Kaitlyn’s here.
    He turned the water off and toweled himself dry. A mountain of clothes stood between him and the door, and his favorite t-shirt sat on top of the pile. He smelled it.
    Clean pile.
    He tossed the shirt and a pair of socks through the door, hoping it would distract Toby, who was baying as if the place were under attack.
    A wave of nausea hit him, and he doubled over in front of the sink.
    What the hell? I didn’t drink last night.
    The nausea passed, and he hurried around the corner to let Kaitlyn in, but he was too late.
    “He’s a good boy,” Kaitlyn said.
    Toby stood with his paws on Kaitlyn’s thighs. He was all eyes and tongue, licking her face as if he hadn’t just seen her last night. She hunched over, massaging both of his ears. One of Toby’s paws got tangled in her long auburn hair.
    “Yes he is,” Kaitlyn said, untangling him. “A good boy with stinky puppy breath, isn’t he? Where’s your gatorpickle?”
    Any other day this would be a perfect picture. But things weren’t perfect, and nothing brought that home as vividly as the black dress Kaitlyn wore. She hated black.
    “Almost done,” he said.
    She hugged him and laid her cheek against his chest. The warmth of her soft, rose-scented skin always made him feel better. That rose scent was so her.
    “It’s ok,” Kaitlyn said. “We’ll get through this together. Why don’t I walk Toby for you?”
    “No.” Five seconds and she’s already starting with the chores.
    “I can make you something to eat?”
    “No. I just have a headache. And I want to get this over with.”
    She walked to the kitchenette on the other side of the small studio apartment and opened a cabinet. It was empty. She shook her head and reached into the sink, taking a dirty glass and filling it with water.
    “Take this,” she said, handing him the glass and a couple of aspirin.
    “I need my jacket.”
    Kaitlyn glanced down. “Pants wouldn’t hurt, either.” She handed him a pair of trousers that were draped over his papasan chair. “Change your shirt. You’re not putting a jacket over that thing. And no boots, cowboy.”
    He huffed and pulled a shirt with buttons off the clean pile. “The boots are fine.”
    Kaitlyn patted his back. “When we get back I’ll do the laundry and dishes—”
    “Dammit, Kait, just stop.”
    “But—”
    “I can do it myself. I don’t need—” He covered his mouth with his fist. “Just stop ok?”
    She rubbed his arm. “Ok. I just…I want to help. But, I get it. I went through the same thing.”
    “There’s nothing anyone can do. I just need to feel like…my life hasn’t been changed forever, you know?”
    “We’ll figure this out. Together.”
    “Everyone says it’ll get better. I just don’t…what happens now?”
    She touched the side of his face. “It’s going to suck for a long time. Then, one day you’ll wake up and it will suck a little less. And just when you thought the worst was over, you’ll see something, or smell something, and it will flatten you all over again. That’s what’s going to happen, babe.”
    “It’s like there’s no solid ground anymore. He was just handing out food at that soup kitchen a couple weeks ago. And now…Now….”
    “You can do this,” Kaitlyn said. “And I’m here. Toby’s here. And we’re not going anywhere.”
    “Promise?”
    She held up her ring finger and light glinted off the tiny inset diamond. “I already did, remember?”
    His doubt evaporated and he smiled. He could always count on her to be strong when he needed her.
    He put his shirt and pants on and handed her a tie from his dresser.
    She smirked. “How old are you, and you can’t tie a tie? You graduate in December, you know.”
    “I’m gonna be an archaeologist, not some pencil jockey.”
    “You think you’ll charm your way into research grants with a trowel and a pair of torn cargo pants? Archaeologists wear ties too, dingus.”
    “Not this archaeologist,” he said.
    When she was finished with the tie, she gave him a quick inspection, pursing her lips to the side and squinting. He loved how she always did that before they went anywhere.
    “I approve,” she said. “Now let’s get going, monkey butt.”
    “No. Just…no.”
    “Well, you ruled out pookie and num nums too.” She frowned. “You’re not getting away without a cute nickname. There are rules.”
    “Ok, you give me a nickname and I get to play connect-the-dots with your freckles.”
    “Come on,” Kaitlyn said. “We have to be there at ten.”
    “Wait.” He took his wallet off the nightstand, which was open to Kaitlyn’s picture. He dropped it as he was closing the drawer.
    Kaitlyn picked it up and handed it to him. “I hate that picture. I look like I bit into a lemon.”
    And that was exactly why he liked it. She was never prettier than when she was pretending to be ugly. They had just started dating and he had wanted to take her picture near some flowers. She had leaned over to smell one of the bouquets and didn’t like it. When she turned toward the camera, he could see how nasty the smell was by the way her face scrunched. It was his favorite picture.
    “You can leave the looking to me.” He took her hand and led her out into the hall.
    He locked the door behind them and heard someone clearing their throat.
   “Boy,” Mr. Landing said.
    Mr. Landing, from the apartment across the hall, scowled at him over a pair of bulky plastic eyeglass frames.
    Even with a slight stoop, Mr. Landing stood an inch or two taller than Nicolas’s six feet. In all the time Nicolas had lived here, the old man never had visitors. And he rarely spoke, unless he was complaining.
    “I heard that damned dog again this morning,” Mr. Landing said. “How many—” He cleared his throat so violently Nicolas thought the man’s tonsils would fly out. “Do I have to report you again?”
    “I’m sorry, Mr. Landing,” Kaitlyn said. “Toby is just—”
    “He’s my dog,” Nicolas said to Kaitlyn. “I can do the apologizing.”
    “I shouldn’t have to sacrifice my peace and quiet because you live with livestock,” Landing said. “I pay rent here same as you. And don’t think I’m oblivious to what goes on here at night. If you were my daughter, I’d—”
    “Listen here,” Nicolas said. “I go out of my way to be nice to you and all you do is complain about it. Toby barks because he’s a dog, and that ain’t gonna change any time soon. Kait is my fiancee, and I don’t plan on that changing either. And I don’t have the time or patience for your crotchety old man horse shit today.”
    Mr. Landing looked as if he’d been slapped.
    “Now if you’ll excuse me,” Nicolas said. “I’m late for my father’s funeral.”
 
 
    The air was crisp in the parking garage, and Nicolas put his arm around Kaitlyn when he saw her shiver.
    “Thanks for being so good with lunatics,” Nicolas said.
    “I was about to bite his head off.”
    “Landing’s the biggest asshole in the asshole kingdom, true. But I was talking about me.”
    “You’re not crazy. You’re just…sanity-challenged.”
    He laughed and ran his fingers through her hair. The red highlights were always brighter when the sun hit her from behind like this.
    “We have to hurry,” Kaitlyn said. “You can play with my hair later.”
    “Oh can I?” Nicolas said through a grin.
    Kaitlyn rolled her eyes.
    Nicolas grabbed her keys away and made a show of opening the door of her beat-up ‘91 Mustang for her.
    They drove out onto the I-35 and he swore. He hated Austin traffic. Always bad, no matter what time of day.
    He felt nauseated again but he shrugged it off.
    “You ok?” Kaitlyn asked.
    “Didn’t eat this morning.”
    “I tried to make you something.”
    “I’m trying not to throw up here.”
    The wave of nausea passed as they pulled into the funeral home’s parking lot. He felt odd. A few minutes ago he was about to throw up in Kaitlyn’s car, but now he could run around the block without breaking a sweat.
    The chapel was in the center of a cemetery that ran for at least a mile in every direction, and every time he passed a gravestone his head swam.
    “You’re not hung over, are you?” Kaitlyn said.
    She took his hand and led him into the chapel.
    Flowers lined the center aisle, filling the room with a sweet fragrance that intermingled with the colognes and perfumes of the people in attendance. An organist pounded out a hymn as if the solemnity of the ceremony hinged on how hard she could press the keys. Colleagues and family of Dr. Murray packed the pews, and Nicolas worried they wouldn’t find seats. His eyes were drawn to a long, brown casket in front of the altar. A portrait of Dr. Murray rested on an easel next to the casket.
    Nicolas had taken that photo on Easter Island a year ago. A Rapanui elder was presenting Dad with an award for his self-sacrificing contribution to Rapanui culture. Dad had tried to turn it down, holding up his hand and saying “no” through his grey beard, but the elder insisted. Even his long, graying hair seemed embarrassed, flying away from the elder in a strong gust of wind that had almost pushed Nicolas off the boulder he’d been standing on.
    I’ll never take another picture of him.
    They found seats near other family members and close friends. People took turns greeting Dr. Murray’s surviving brother and sister. Both were in their sixties, just like Dr. Murray, and both had the same square jaw and prominent cheekbones. Nicolas wanted to go over and talk to them, but they had been against his adoption, so he doubted they’d want to be close now.
    The ceremony began with a hymn before settling down into a biblical reading. Nicolas tried to pay attention, but he felt hyper, like he needed to run and burn some energy off before it burned him up.
    The minister stepped up to the podium.
    A violent wave of nausea hit Nicolas. He leaned forward in his seat and took a deep breath, trying not to vomit.
    The man behind him leaned forward and whispered. “Your dad was a great man. He’ll be missed.”
    “Brothers and sisters,” the minister began in a low baritone. “We are gathered here…”
    Something solid struck Nicolas’s chest with a force that crushed him back into his seat. Images of people and places he didn’t know flooded his mind.
    “…today to recall…
    It felt as if someone had hooked his heart up to a car battery. In his mind, he watched through the eyes of a burly man in mechanic’s overalls as he stabbed another man in a tweed suit. Nicolas, the murderer, shouted, “You wanted my wife? You can have her. She’s next.” He dropped the bloody knife to the floor, and the jealousy and rage of the mechanic consumed him.
    “…the life of…
    Another jolt made his heart stutter, and the dead man morphed into a little girl with blond pigtails, who clutched her teddy bear and trembled. This time he was a middle-aged man in a bathrobe, towering over the girl and beating her without mercy. The girl cowered away, but Nicolas, the abuser, punched and kicked her. He felt disgust and hatred, not because of what he witnessed, but because he felt as if the girl deserved it. He was still Nicolas, yet also this monster of a man, kicking and beating a little girl.
    “…a great friend and…
    A third electrical shock. The girl blurred into an amorphous blob that transformed into a baby boy. Nicolas was a young woman wearing a white slip extending down to her—his—knees, and carrying the crying infant in his arms. The smells of soap and lotions intermingled as a smooth jazz piano played on an old gramophone. A high-pitched tenor voice threaded through the notes of the piano, singing the lyrics to “Ain’t Misbehavin’”, but the tenor was drowned out by the sound of running water. Nicolas stroked the child’s hair as she—he—stepped into the bathroom. The crescendo of music and lyrics combined to mask the wailing of the infant, and as the music subsided, Nicolas plunged the infant into the tub and held him underwater until the flailing of his tiny limbs stopped.
    Nicolas shook his head, desperately trying to erase the horrific images. What part of his mind could harbor these disgusting thoughts?
    “…colleague. A great archaeologist and humanitarian.
    What?
    Had all these things happened in less time than it took the minister to finish his sentence?
    He panicked and tried to stand, but another forceful blast of energy, and stream of horrific images, struck him. If this continued the images would kill him. There was no way he could live with that much evil on his conscience.
    He looked at Kaitlyn, and the sight of her face expelled the hatred and evil from his mind. He felt an invisible wall go up between him and whatever was trying to kill him.
    The force reversed direction.
    His heart raced as the energy radiated away from him. There was a primal satisfaction that accompanied this release of power, and it scared him.
    Kaitlyn elbowed him and gave him a dirty look. The energy field surrounding him collapsed and his mind was present in the chapel once more.
    “What the hell?” Kaitlyn whispered.
    He started sweating as the panic grew worse.
    I can’t be here.
    He squeezed past the people sitting next to him. He might not make it out of the chapel, but he was determined to make it out of this pew.
    “Nick,” Kaitlyn said in a louder voice.
    He stumbled over the person at the end of the pew and escaped into the main aisle.
    Another wave of nausea struck him. He had to get out of the building.
    The parking lot made him feel better, but not much. The energy was there but subdued, just out of reach as if he had passed through an invisible barrier. He leaned onto the hood of Kaitlyn’s car and waited for the nausea to pass.
    “Are you ok?” Kaitlyn said, running toward him.
    He tried to speak, but dry heaves sent him into a fit of retching.
    Kaitlyn rubbed his back until the heaving subsided.
    When the nausea passed, He stood up and covered his mouth with the back of his fist.
    “Better now?” Kaitlyn said.
    He shrugged.
    “Let’s get you back home then.”
    “Gotta go back.”
    “Like hell you do.” She grabbed him by the shoulders and spun him around. “You’re going home.”
    “But my dad—”
    “Isn’t here. And wherever he is, he understands. Now get your ass in the car.”
    How could this happen today of all days? The man who had saved him from life in a children’s home and had given him a name and a future was lying dead in a wooden box, and he couldn’t attend the funeral because of an upset stomach?
    No. He’d sit in that pew if he had to hold a bucket in his lap.
    To hell with it!
    He stepped forward.
    Images of one atrocity after another assaulted him. Light strobed in his mind. He shot three people in the back of their heads as they knelt, then cut the tongue out of a witness to silence him. Strobe. He tied a woman down and injected her with heroin to make her more compliant. Strobe. He lit a cross on fire, and in its merry light, slaughtered the landowner and his family when they fought back. Strobe.
    He collapsed and clawed at the ground, pulling himself back toward the car, and as he crossed that invisible line in the pavement, the images stopped.
    He pushed himself up onto shaky legs and leaned against the car.
    “Ok,” he said. “Let’s go.”
    “Give me the keys.”
    “I can drive.”
 
 
    Traffic was worse on the way back, and Nicolas cursed whoever designed the roads in Austin. Every time the car hit a bump, he thought it was the strange energy coming back.
    “We can go to St. David’s,” Kaitlyn said.
    “No hospital. I just need to go to bed.”
    “Hospitals have beds.”
    “Toby needs me.”
    “Excuse me, but Toby wouldn’t eat if it wasn’t for me. Do you even know what brand he eats?”
    “Puppy…dog nuggets.”
    “Puppy dog nuggets. Wow, Nick. Just…wow.”
    He pumped the brakes behind a moving van as he turned onto 24th from Guadalupe and swore.
    His apartment building was only a block away, but a long line of cars stretched out in front of them.
    “I can’t see anything,” Kaitlyn said. She craned her head out of the window.
    “Accident,” Nicolas said. “Police and stuff.”
    “Paramedics are working on someone on this side,” Kaitlyn said. “Whoa, they brought out the paddles.”
    Nausea churned in his stomach. He put the car in idle, leaned out the window to heave, and a blast of energy entered his mind, replacing the nausea with vitality and power.
    He could see it this time…a random stream of images accelerating toward him.
    “Another ambulance,” Kaitlyn said.
    He braced himself for the insanity the images would bring, but they carried a different set of emotions this time. He was an older man, swinging a little boy in a circle. The boy giggled with glee, and a sense of love and devotion filled Nicolas. As the boy spun, Nicolas saw his reflection in the window.
    “It’s Mr. Landing,” Nicolas said. A frightening realization formed in his mind. “He’s dead.”
    “No, they’re still working on him—”
    “He’s dead. He was a good man. His grandkids….”
    “Now you’re scaring me.”
    A powerful force struck him and he was consumed by a dark stream of images.
    He was Mr. Landing, only eighteen years old. The mugginess of the jungle outside of Nam Dong was oppressive, and the VC was out here somewhere. The crescendo of chirping insects made it hard to hear anyone approaching. He checked the twenty-round magazine on his M16 for no other reason than nerves. He knew how many rounds he had left. He’d loaded his usual eighteen and hadn’t fired a shot.
    But a vicious and unseen enemy was stalking him through the dense foliage. His life was in danger, and his body trembled from an adrenaline rush. Where was the enemy? For that matter, who was the enemy? It was impossible to know.
    Twigs snapped by a nearby tree, silencing the roar of the chirping insects.
    Panic.
    He lifted his rifle with unsteady hands and aimed it at the tree.
    Movement!
    He screamed and unloaded the M16 toward the tree.
    The dull thud of a body hitting the ground was amplified by the silence of the insects. Dirty bastard tried to ambush him, but he’d been ready for it.
    When he saw the body he grew cold and dropped to his knees.
    It was a small child. His face was drawn, gaunt as if malnourished, and he was covered in scratches.
Landing, in a daze, saw the rest of his patrol running over to him, but the sound wouldn’t register. His hands trembled, and the shakes spread throughout his body until he collapsed next to the tree. He looked away from the boy, but the trembling grew stronger. By the time the patrol reached him, he was screaming the same word over and over.
    “Why?”
    The jungle faded and withdrew, taking the hysteria with it, until Nicolas was in the car once more.
    “It was a kid,” Nicolas said. “He didn’t know. He was just scared.”
    “Stop it,” Kaitlyn said. Her voice was raspy.
    “It wasn’t his fault and he never knew it. He couldn’t have known. I can’t be here.”
    “Nick, don’t.”
    He opened the car door and ran toward his building, passing Landing’s covered body to his left. The lobby doors were open, and he entered at a full sprint, taking the stairs two at a time until his apartment door stood before him. Everything would be better inside.
    The key wouldn’t go in. The metal tapped against the lock’s core and slid off, scratching the surface of the door. His hands trembled with frustration and he wanted to yell.
    He swore.
    The key slid into place and the door opened. He stumbled into the apartment, threw his jacket on the ground and pulled his tie off. He needed to sit down and look at something familiar…something peaceful.
    A wet nose swept across his face. Toby nuzzled against him.
    He grabbed for Kaitlyn’s picture and rocked back and forth on his creaky bed with one arm around Toby.
    It wasn’t Landing’s fault. He thought he was going to die. God, what’s happening to me?
    He hugged his knees to his chest and stared at the picture.
    Forty years and he never forgave himself. My god, how do I know these things? I’m losing my mind. God help me. Please!
    “You left me there!” Kaitlyn said. She closed the door behind her.
    Kait’s here. Everything will be ok now.
    “It wasn’t his fault.” Nicolas said.
    “It was your fault. You took the damned keys. My car’s sitting out there.”
    When Kaitlyn spoke, a strange calm descended on him.
    His vision darkened, but another stream of images came to him. An ornate door, etched with symbols reminiscent of Nordic runes, opened in his mind, and he imagined himself walking through it. Two open doorways stood in the room beyond. Darkness shrouded one door, but the other emitted a radiant white light. The white door pulsed, and with every pulse it enticed him closer.
    But the white door also emitted a wrongness. Something bad would happen if he entered it. He forced himself to look away and, instead, walked toward the black door. The grotesque, decapitated head from his dreams hovered in the air beyond the threshold. Jagged, ripped flesh hung from the base of a torn spinal column. Patches of hair fell from the skull and the smell of burning, putrid flesh made him want to puke. He stumbled backwards in fright.
    An unexpected sensation of calm returned. Something was soothing him. And whatever it was, it wasn’t from Texas.
    Toby growled.
    “The hair is burning,” he said.
    “You’re going to the hospital,” Kaitlyn said. “I’ve seen enough.”
    A pulse of energy threw Nicolas backward and pinned him against the wall.
    Kaitlyn screamed.
    Every time the energy touched him he learned more about it. It was a life force, vast and powerful, but he wasn’t afraid of it. It gave him a sense of security. It took away his fear. It made him feel…loved.
An invisible hand formed around his torso and tightened, threatening to crush him, but the strange calmness blanketed him again. He knew the hand was good in the same way he knew the man—Landing—was good.
    Toby started baying.
    A low-pitched metallic sound filled the room like someone striking a piece of sheet metal. A small point of swirling black light formed behind Kaitlyn, whipping her hair around her face, and grew larger, morphing into a multi-hued disk with a void of pitch-blackness at its center. As the point became a disk, the metallic sound grew louder.
    “What is that?” Nicolas asked.
    Kaitlyn looked in the direction he was staring. “What’s happening?”
    The vortex of light filled him with a sense of belonging, as if his world would be complete if he stepped inside. But he refused. If it wanted him that much, it would have to take him.
    The hand of energy lifted Nicolas several feet off the bed, as if in response to his thoughts.
    Kaitlyn screamed and grabbed his boots, trying to pull him back down to the bed.
    With a violent thrust, the hand pulled him into the vortex, ripping him out of Kaitlyn’s grasp. Pain radiated down his spine as his head snapped backward, and lights flashed like a strobe across his eyelids. He tried in vain to move his arms against the force, but it was too strong.
    The world disappeared and he tumbled into the black void.
 
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About Nat Russo

Nat Russo is the Amazon #1 Bestselling Fantasy author of Necromancer Awakening. Nat was born in New York, raised in Arizona, and has lived just about everywhere in-between. He’s gone from pizza maker, to radio DJ, to Catholic seminarian (in a Benedictine monastery, of all places), to police officer, to software engineer. His career has taken him from central Texas to central Germany, where he worked as a defense contractor for Northrop Grumman. He's spent most of his adult life developing software, playing video games, running a Cub Scout den, gaining/losing/gaining/losing weight, and listening to every kind of music under the sun. Along the way he managed to earn a degree in Philosophy and a black belt in Tang Soo Do. He currently makes his home in central Texas with his wife, teenager, mischievous beagle, and goofy boxador.

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