2018

Science Fiction so smart it hurts.                         Comic. Graphic. Books. Audio.


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“Salem, you write like 1) someone who actually knows how to write, but is 2) out of your f***ing mind, and 3) willing to leverage that warped synergy toward pop-culture tale-spinning and insisting, via that reckless prose, that everything that might suggest otherwise can go to hell.”


W. A. Brenner, Austin Chronicle

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Metapulp is a publisher and producer of salem’s smart media content, specializing in pop culture genre fiction digital books, paper books comic books, graphic novels and audio books. Metapulp celebrates the crossroads of highbrow and lowbrow with the understanding that great stories move the world just like ocean currents move messages in bottles. Great mythology migrates imagination.


Rediscover great imagination, both ours and your own, by reading or listening to one of our titles. Thanks for stopping by!

March 2017 News


The greatest science fiction in the world is available right here on Metapulp. Scifi detective? We’ve got it. Smart, kickass, female heroes? Check. Fiction that will give you nightmares? Yup. Interested in real life weird science?  Check out the blog.


salem is looking for a traditional publisher for The Hottest Woman in the World and getting some good interest. You can read the first chapter below.


And in other news, The Green Eyed Monster is complete and currently being edited as a novel, with a 22 page comic book, the first in the series set to debut in March!


AMAZON author’s page: www.amazon.com/author/salem

2017            THE GREEN EYED MONSTER

COMIC BOOK, NOVEL & GRAPHIC NOVEL SCIFI TRIFECTA

THE HOTTEST WOMAN IN THE WORLD


CHAPTER 1                                                        electricity


“Electricity!”


    She heard her name through the helmet radio. In billowing snow, the wind whipping the powder into abstract paper doll folds, into a diamond sugar haze, she searched, spotting the outline of a fellow mountaineer submerging in a pristine drift. A gust blasted the opulent haze away, replacing it with a pocketed view to a face, one wrapped by mirrored goggles and a black ski mask, sinking to kiss the snow goodbye. She knew he was delirious, would soon be unconscious, could soon be dead. She rappelled toward him, the dreamy snowflakes melting around her silver suit, and she quickly dug the man out with the chromed barbs riveted to her gloves. A sunlight shaft, a natural, rosy golden spear, shot through the thick pewter clouds and bounced off her silver helmet, bathing her in a warm celestial glow. Distracted by it, she looked up at the sky for a fleet moment and saw blue.

    She heard her name again.

    “Electricity!”

    She turned, squinted through the helmet’s violet visor, and across the abruptly sheer cliff, she saw the Sherpa, his face a slit inside a foxy blossom of fur.

    The team leader Sherpa witnessed her in kind, visually isolated in the pink-gold glow, blades of snow whirling and interlocking into large crystalline arrowheads around her. The caterwauling wind was a siren—and he was hypnotized. A spell, a nasty jinx of nature, had blown the storm downward, lashing at the climb team of three and arresting them but a few hundred feet below the pinnacle on the Shark’s Fin. The sudden storm was the most alarming the Sherpa, a native to the Himalayas, had ever witnessed, and yet all he wanted to do was look at her. A shrill radio whistle pierced his numbing mind, and he snapped to, imploring, “Electricity, we must turn back! There is no way to make it to the summit!”

She reached for an ice axe, plunged it into the narrow granite ledge and, while tying the numb man to it, calmly radioed, “I will make a way.”

    The camera in her helmet captured the wondrously cascading snowflakes and the busywork of her hands, the clawing of a clearing and the exploration of pale blue, milky ice veins. Her body heat warmed the rock initially, and after a few minutes with a miniature torch, she examined its newly exposed fissures with narrowed diamond eyes. Decisively inserting into the fissures an array of hardware pins, tethered in turn to her climbing vest with slender shock cables, she leaned back to tension them, simultaneously yanking a ripcord on her shoulder. An emergency tent popped out of the streamlined seams sewn into her silver suit.

    Tapping what appeared to be an insignificant decorative rivet resulted in the forceful injection, via a needle-sized nozzle, of highly compressed air into tiny tubes lining the tent fabric. The astronaut grade, air-blast technology immediately expanded the tent, and hovering above them, it made a silver bubble seemingly geared for lunar launch. Swiftly tacking the lower edge onto the adjacent ice cliff shelf, with glove inserts that doubled as pneumatic staple guns, she stabilized the tent. It expanded further into a small zeppelin with a periscope of sorts sticking out of the top. Tugging her legs away from the clasping, stupefied and severely frostbitten man, she ushered him inside, and the Sherpa quickly followed.

    Electricity had designed the emergency tent herself. It harbored two people comfortably as long as they were nested side by side, or so she had hoped—to no avail on this exotic singes expedition—like human spoons. Realistically it was a little cumbersome for ice cliff trekking, but its extra length, width and top tube—a vent meant to exhaust the heat she generated throughout the night—were presently critical for the survival of her scant team. She closed the door flaps and flue, and the tent billowed from her heat.

The two men, knees pressed to their chests, their harness lifelines braided together and secured by Electricity, huddled tightly around the ample warmth emanating from her. Astronaut grade conductive sensors ran throughout the smart seams in her silver suit, monitoring all of her vitals and especially her body temperature. A smart sleeve panel read: 212 °F for Fahrenheit and 100 °C for Celsius. The man she had dug from the snowdrift lulled into a hypothermia fog, saw the numbers pulsating in the smart ink as abstract jargon and, in his mental dissolution, did not register that at this temperature water boils. His eyes lazily focused on the long suit zipper, which tapered, to him, as a linear, pomegranate red pendant, though in fact it was a thermometer. Entranced, he yanked off a glove, and his frostbite black fingers went scooping.

    She slapped at his gnarled and impotent fingers with the barbed gloves as if he were nothing more than a bothersome mosquito, but a heaving sigh and a cocked eyebrow, barely visible through the violet visor, said otherwise. She flipped up the visor, exposing her brilliant eyes, which were at once a pale gray and a flashing white. Her richly amber skin—curiously translucent and resinous like warm honey—her black eyelashes and highly contoured cheeks were at once genetically sub-Saharan and Eurasian-stepped. She was an absolute genetic blur of beauty.

    She unsnapped the gloves and rubbed her hot, almost new-skin_pink palms across a wide flat wick, exciting a chemical reaction in another tubular system coiling throughout the tent fabric like silver veins in a silver leaf. This was both a heating and a cooling system, and a blue liquid shot through it as the chemicals reacted to her heat. A smart ink fabric sensor—basically, a thermostat—illuminated near the circular door flap, and she tapped at it, programming the veins to change from a preset of an icebox cool to a balmy defrost. The blue tubes went purple then charged burgundy red.

    “Gentlemen,” she spoke as if they were attending a product display convention and she were demonstrating the newest in coffee maker technology, “this should both warm you up and save your lives. The tungsten coils in the tent are emitting 1075 degrees Fahrenheit or 580 degrees Celsius. You will have Mediterranean interior climate in a minute. If you will please excuse me, I have a mountain to climb.”

The grizzled men, bewildered by her composure, watched in astonishment as she prepared to abandon them. Bristling with an increasingly blood orange heating system, the silver tent pumped the Sherpa’s imagination, becoming to him a mirrored conch shell and Electricity its liquid, amber pink pearl. She flowed away and out of his fancifully dangerous daydream when she kicked open the flap, revealing the roiling white plumes cast from the volatile, gray nimbostratus clouds.

    Peering up at the final cliff she had yet to conquer, to ice blue streaks intertwining with ribbons of gray and white and platinum, to a crystalline comb slashing through nature’s primordial, asteroid themed palette, she slipped back into her crampon gloves. The Sherpa peeked through the tent flap, and with lips unseen inside his fur hood, his voice issued, “Where are you going?”

    “To the summit.” Her voice was soft, wreathed in the expanse of cruel nature. She reached for the ice axe, pulled the tool from the wall and contemplatively balanced it. Its long arc and jagged teeth glinted fiercely in the chill, but a vein of ice embedded in the rubber grip melted tellingly in her warm silver glove. She decisively slid the axe into a holster on the straps crisscrossing her thigh, in which numerous spikes were organized, and adjusted the helmet camera eye for record.

    “You can’t!” The Sherpa’s agate eyes widened. A Tibetan native imported to the Shark’s Fin for the rare excursion, he was not one to take an interest in tourists, but her allure overwhelmed him in alternating currents with uncontrollable frequency. If she turned just so, he swore he saw high elevation Asian in her features. He had become accustomed to enjoying her company on his current climb the past days, though he had refrained, during some of the late evening talks with the other man, from indulging in lascivious comments. Feeling he was the most dignified and worthy of her attention, as well as the only one not needing emergency evacuation, he applied oblique logic to qualify himself as a suitor, sputtering as he remembered his cautionary role, “The blizzard!”

    She flipped the violet iridium lens down over her brilliant diamond eyes, and her silver suit faded into the white snow sheets coming down at a steep angle, the arrow-pointed snowflakes sewing needles mending an ice-quilted and very dangerous white sky around the vestiges of her.

Through his radio he heard her voice taunting him.

“What blizzard?”


                                                                                    ➷


    A window into the human world, via a ghostly optometrist’s assembly of examination lenses, swiveled around another man. Binoculars hardened, extending toward him from the contraption and suctioning to his eyes. Through them he spied on the hottest woman in the world, discovering she was affixed to a wall of ice, her silver ice climber suit rendering her into a reflective sideways profile, into a slick chrome decal pressed against the face of the glaciate earth. She clung in this sideways position by the dint of metal claws bolted to her silver boots and engineered gloves, which reminded him of steel dinosaur jaws.

Sulfur thought hard about smiting her from the face of the ice cliff as much as one might flick an ash from a sleeve, but this thought tumbled uselessly. He did not have the power to harm human beings, not directly anyway, and so he mulled other options that would relieve this woman from her quest to find love, and he turned to his chalkboard.

    Sulfur Toughlove, hater of love, was in temperament and physical composition indeed all things blue fire and yellow brimstone. As he concentrated, vivid blue wisps licked around the ball of his smooth yellow scalp. His yellow eyeballs popped in puckering eyelids, and blue flames the color of chicory flowers burned within his irises. Cladding him in an aging citrus yellow suit, a chintzy second skin tailored in the same hue as his actual skin, nature rendered him a plump piece of fruit gone bad. What tree this elemental monster had fallen from could only be named inevitability; for in a universe where each action had an equal and opposite reaction, someone had to hate love.

    In his reedy voice, he mocked, “What blizzard?”

    A round gray shadow claiming the grand mass of the grotesquely yellow, elemental man hovered into a cosmic cape over the black slate chalkboard in front of him. Yellow chalk comprised of pure sulfur squeaked, and a frenzy of blue sparks charged out from him while he furiously wrote in bold capital letters the name of a woman whose quest for love he despised in particular, a woman named:


                                                                        ELECTRICITY


    The haunting chalk squeak died off, snuffed under the imprisoning vastness of the cavern he used as his headquarters. While paused in deep thought, he suspended the chalk high between ghastly yellow talons, rolled the stick once, triumphantly, and his powdery yellow, palpably sulfuric skin marked its contours. Embroidered in sulfur crystals, in the lapel of his sulfur chintz business suit, was the identifying capital letter S with a smaller numerical denomination of 16. S16. Around the S16, animated with sixteen real electrons, three rings whirled in the location of his tiny heartless heart. These markers, in the elemental world functioning inside human reality, encyclopedically identified him with the element sulfur.

    This elemental male-mannish-entity was thusly named Sulfur.

    After a few billion aeons of hating love, watching several spaghetti Westerns during the advent of human cinema—and later becoming rather fascinated with the rise of the mafia and Murder Incorporated in particular—Sulfur had brocaded in his imagination a vision of himself as a don of hatred. Subsequently he enjoyed pulling his hand out of his pocket with two talons pointed gun-style and playing imaginary target practice with human hearts. Eventually, though he really had no one to call him by it, the weird yellow loner had taken on the last name of Toughlove.

    Performing his hateful deeds in the expansive sulfur bowel located in a purgatorial nowhere, Sulfur further christened the cavern, which had birthed him, Toughlove Incorporated. Here he strategized how to keep amorous people apart. If the human loveless and lonely knew whom they could blame for their plight, it would be Sulfur Toughlove, a veritable king of bad timing. But humans did not know, and so they blamed the causal effects of their world—Newtonian mechanics and its gravitationally guided rotten apples—on the hopeless condition of their solo hearts.

    Sulfur, himself an aforesaid funky fallen fruit, performed his hateful acts simply by thinking them, or if he was feeling especially brilliant, by conjuring them up on his chalkboard. What elicited from his elemental chalk upon his elemental slate always came into play in the world of the human. Such was the power of his hatred and its reach outside of his lurid yellow darkness. Sulfur Toughlove’s negative vibes spasmed through the elemental plasma comprising human reality. His tentacled intentions darted viciously into the positive juju of love, wicked jellyfish stinging romantic divers straight in the heart. His perfunctory hatred was everywhere, killing love.

    Sulfur’s black art was known keenly to the other beings of his atomic ilk, the Elements. Each Element also took his or her name from the periodic table of elements and his or her gender from somewhat superficial—if not stereotypical—qualities each possessed. There was Hydrogen, H1, whose explosive personality kept him away from events likely to split him in two. There was Carbon, C6, with her black diamond eyes and the loom she used to make essential life threads—like DNA and plastic. There was youthful, androgynous Neon, N10, who loved to light things up, especially night and parties. In fact there was within the aether forming the human universe every Element. Together their atomic interactions comprised the sails upon which the terrestrial blue marble circumnavigated the fantastic solar system.

    At least some forty millennia after the Pleistocene Epoch and its lingering Neanderthal phase, when burying the dead developed into the more specific culture of wearing black to bury the dead, Sulfur, who adored funerals and the attendant birth of weeping, took note. When black suits became a fashion rage for the serious and the artsy—the Elements in total, becoming a touch fashion conscious themselves, voted to take on human form. Carbon, using her own surplus abundance, tailored fabric for the Elements. These black jacquards, interwoven with each Element’s natural crystalline makeup, shimmered fiercely, making the suited Elements all appear glitzed for a grand gala.

    Within the suit lapels atomic insignias, borrowed from the human periodic table, were embroidered, and each insignia uniquely identified each corresponding Element. Just as hourglasses gave shape to sand—so did the suits constrain each Element inside a human-shaped vessel. With the exception of denuded Sulfur, who had outcast himself and whom Carbon refused to clothe, each Element wore their full carbon black suit during business hours, their business being that alchemical chemistry known as love. The black suited Elements assembled frequently in their United Chemistry great hall. Here, below the scalloped seating but above them all in pure power, reigned the eternally youthful Lord of Chemistry himself: Cupid.

    Three Element seats had gone vacant in the past few thousand years, after the rise of romantic mythology tainted their worldview. Sulfur, again, was the principal contrarian, defecting from the group after a coup, during which he had stolen an atomic pocket watch. This watch was crucial to orchestrating the timing of the human heart—not just its beating but its curious nostalgia for romantic company; in sooth the timepiece governed even the precious aching and precocious swooning of the human heart. Sulfur had stolen this critical timepiece from his foe Cupid, and on his way toward building his own kingdom, he had managed to sway both Oxygen and Arsenic—O8 and As33 respectively—to join him in his poisonous quest: namely, to disrupt human love whenever possible. It was simply his bilious nature to hate love.


    The cavernous Toughlove Incorporated echoed with an insistently sinister tick-tock, amplifying the pocket watch neatly fastened to Sulfur’s yellow vest by a fine chain. Against Sulfur’s bulk the watch was really no larger than a grain of sand, but when held in his palm it expanded to fit him. Once opened, according to its own intent or that of its possessor, it popped into a jeweled sphere or any numerous other illuminations, even spectacular carousels.

    Upon the minute clamshell case, gold and silver radiated, alternating with small slits that spangled from the ruby accents and pearl inlays within. Around the central axis, twelve arms forged from titanium and diamond terminated into tiny ruby heart shapes. Arterials circulated liquid mercury from the axis throughout the assembly, emitting the familiar, pulsating tick-tock. As the twelve arms advanced in all directions at once, uncountable jillions of nanoscale arrows—jeweled from ruby—shot with frantic excitement around the interior. This elemental energy danced, giving the watch an aura as it obeyed an atomic music box tempo. Indeed the very potent physics of love were intricately wound into and orchestrated by its fine metallic machinations. It was, all in all, a masterpiece geared together from an unknown cosmic watchmaker’s design. Cupid had been born with it in his navel.

    As much as Sulfur loathed the cutesy ornamentation and its lovey dovey soundtrack, he put up with it as he would an irritatingly vocal pet. After all, whosoever possessed this watch possessed perfect timing.

Struck by a novel idea, he leaned forward. The sound of the pocket watch’s careful temporal precision was momentarily overwhelmed by another shriek from chalk against the board. Spidery blue flames skipped from Sulfur’s talons as he etched out a plan. His face twisted with plotting, and with the intensity of a general commandeering a winning war game move, Sulfur slashed out a simple X then rounded out an O over the word Electricity. Under the X symbol, respectively, he wrote the name Lucky. Looped out in his generously baroque handwriting, the two words sat side by side, yellow strangers on an expansive black plane of nothingness, too afraid to peer at one another:


                                                             O                             X

                                                    ELECTRICITY             LUCKY


    He stood back, his seven-fold yellow chin billowing over his tight collar, his bugging billiard ball eyes clacking together angrily as he contemplated his next move. The binoculars gyrated toward him, and he bent in to see what Electricity was up to. An arc of blue sky, a veritable parasol, was drawing her toward triumph, while all around her the snow dumped in chutes. Her head looked, Sulfur thought, like a giant purple eye bolted to a silver insect, though he knew that behind the violet helmet shield her keen human eyes might soon stray across a whimsical fragment, an appeal to the heartless universe, indeed an object, which could specifically lead her directly to Lucky.

    And he was not about to allow it.

    Sulfur pulled back from spying on Electricity, and the collection of lenses surrounding him withdrew, giving him ample room to review his chalkboard diagram. A soft felt eraser, rampant with dusty yellow handprints—indicating his intimate relationship with the object—snagged his attention. This was a special tool he applied when he wanted to erase attraction between two people. As he reached for the eraser on this occasion, and held the pocket watch out hypnotically in his other hand, he summoned the power of perfect timing. “Time for perfect timing,” he growled. “Stop her!” The fabric of elemental space, a quixotic puzzle of atmosphere, rippled violently, rearranging itself and shrinking the chalkboard until it was no larger than a matchbook. He grimaced and swatted the eraser futilely, furiously shouting, “No! That is not what I said!”

    The frenzied aether whirled, stiffening into a miniature doorway, out of which a toyish boy—Cupid—zoomed past him on wings beating as fast as a hummingbird’s. He even seemed to be a small hummingbird from a distance, such was his size in proportion to the hulking Sulfur. He paused in front of the chalkboard with hummingbird stealth, his little plump body suspended in freeze-frame while his wings beat sixty times per second. His carbon black suit was tightly tailored, and his heart—woven of ruby crystals—shimmered through, beating loud as regular thunder. An incision between the suit shoulders allowed for the free range of movement by his wings, which were at once jeweled in pink and red gemstones and woven together with fine gold filament. A quiver woven from platinum angled between his wings, from which protruded a single arrow barbed with a heart shaped ruby. His left hand, the fingers baby pudgy and both colored and textured chocolate, clutched the ever-ready bow.

    Inside a chocolate face, cherubic lips puckered, shiny as sugarcoated maraschino cherries, his chubby cheeks punctuated by irises radiating with silver and gold reminiscent of his watch. A diamond monocle fitted to his left eye gave him panoramic reality vision, through which he could tune into the human realm and examine with a physician’s finesse, the condition of the romantic heart. Faint crosshairs within the diamond lens synchronized into focus exactly when two lovers were just about to fall in love, and with this extraordinary tool of vision, he traditionally aimed and fired his arrows. In every way he was a candy box, Tiffany jeweler designed, Valentine chocolate version of himself come to life—a rococo, precious metal and crystal cosmic candy baby meets a wise Wall Street broker of love.

    Cupid rotated from the chalkboard, focused with consternation and chanted the cloudburst spell for blue sky. Zipping around and around the protesting Sulfur, making a dizzying spiral, he chanted with fierce intent, invoking the sun. “Sun, sun, sun, sun, sun! Sunlight!”

    “Damn you, Cupid!”

    Darting into the whirling doorway, Cupid tunneled back to his own headquarters in the elemental world. His red lips pouted into a smile as he flew to his own chalkboard—a circumference of slate several miles long riddled with endless equations. Centered within it all, written in his miniscule mad scientist handwriting were two words:


                                                                 Electricity     Lucky


He quickly halted and hovered, his wings spangling with vivid red light, revealing the feathered scales comprised by overlaid heart shapes. He held up his own pink chalk stick—made of a soft rose quartz calcite—and rapidly, within a singular beat of his hummingbird-sized heart, he wrote out a plus sign:


                                                                 Electricity + Lucky


    The very air throughout the entire Earth became charged with a golden static electricity, and a ferocious wind blew through the pursed curls of a gray cloud. A rose pink tongue of lightning ejected and crackled over Electricity.

    Cupid chanted, “Sun!” and saw through his monocle a blue bolt unfurling, exposing a narrow path to the pinnacling Shark’s Fin. Focusing tighter, Cupid spotted two diamond brilliant eyes piercing the violet tinted shield. Focusing tighter still, peering into Electricity’s soul, he witnessed the steely striations radiating from her irises and, in response to the blinding sun shaft illuminating the path, her pupils tightening to pinholes.

With an ultimate plunge of the ice axe, bathed in the blue bolt, Electricity conquered the final twelve feet of the summit.

    Alone.

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