Update and ArmadilloCon

I was at ArmadilloCon 2018 this past weekend. Didn’t stay for the whole event, but I got in on the critique panel, and got a short story of mine reviewed! Got some really great advice for it all around.

I plan on finishing up another short story this month and then I’m back to revising Spymancer again.

Hope all of you readers are doing well (and I hope this post comes out nice looking because I’m doing this on my phone). I hope remember to post something else before this month is over. Haha!

Sincerely,

Philip Hauser

[Short Story] Fantasy Fan Con Panic [Excerpt]

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Back inside, Jack and Crystal eyed the couple from the second story terrace overlooking the hotel lobby. They watched a crowd slowly form around their two targets while they swapped use of the Chem-Thermo goggles that had been provided for them.

Among the crowds of cosplayers interspersed with the banner advertisements and kiosks showcasing the newest trends in manga, anime, and fantasy there they stood among them all. Even dressed in costumes like the other con goers, it was frightening yet intriguing spectacle to see these kinds of predators blending in with the other humans down below.

The vampire looked no older than perhaps twenty as he spun his cape and flashed his fangs for the adoring fans that took photos of him and his poses. The young Dracula cosplay look that he was going for must have been some sort of meta-joke of his, or a blatant invitation for someone to stake him right then and there. Even so, he fit right into the costumed clientele of this particular convention. Crystal zoomed in on him, noticing his thin, smooth, innocent, and androgynous looking face with piercing, pale-blue eyes. Crystal raised an eyebrow as he pouted at one of the cameras that coaxed him for another photo. Under the therm-optic filter his body took on a greyish blue hue in a sea of deep red pedestrians that stood or passed him by.

The succubus — the vampire’s partner — was able to spoof her heat signature better among the crowd, but she also shared her undead boyfriend’s meta sense of humor. She was standing next to him with her bat wings and black horns on full display. They looked real, but could just as well be chalked up to being the product of well done prosthetic make up and accessories. Like the vampire, she had a conventional beauty and confidence in the way she carried herself. She wore armor, but nothing that could be considered practical. It reminded Crystal of Xenia the Warrior Princess, but with a shorter leather skirt. Not much left to the imagination. Jack and Crystal switched to the chemical tracer filter on the goggles and could see that she was already releasing pheromones into the crowd. People who

might have been uninterested in the impromptu photo shoot in the lobby, were now transfixed and slowly growing attached to this attractive couple posing together. On the surface, things looked innocent enough, but Jack and Crystal saw it for what it was: lambs being lead to slaughter in some anonymous hotel room later tonight.

As the crowd grew from a dozen to nearly twenty in a matter of minutes, Jack and Crystal got up from their table and began to walk down to the lobby area. They were dressed in post-apocalyptic duster jackets. A cosplay grab that fit with the eclectic dress code of the nerd convention. As they walked, they fingered the holstered, plastic-looking guns that were actually loaded with silver and holy relic tipped subsonic ammo. They were suppose to take this demon and vampire in alive, but if worse came to worse, the subsonic ammo and suppressors would quietly dispose of them. Jack and Crystal each put on their shades and pulled on their gas masks to counter the vampires hypnosis and the pheromones of the succubus.

Now in the lobby, they walked casually into what was now turning into a fan mob. Not a single person among the crowd of ninjas, transformers, and alien princesses noticed nor raised an eyebrow at the Mad Max cosplay couple making their way to the front to see the vampire and succubus “models” gaining attention.

When Jack and Crystal reached them, the two supernaturals noticed them, and momentarily paused their act. For a split second, it felt like a connection was made between the four of them. Fight or flight began to take hold. The vampire and succubus noticed the gas mask and shades Jack and Crystal were wearing and tensed up. The fear in their eyes seemed to surprise Jack momentarily before realizing that he had already put his hand on his gun.

[Excerpt] Con Job [Short Story]

“…and you don’t have to believe me when I tell you this, but those cosplayers were the biggest sluts I had ever met in my life. All those chicks wearing those vocaloid, school girl outfits and that bikini mercenary shit that’s so popular right now. Yeah, I’ve seen some real babes around here and they will spread their legs for just about anything. You wouldn’t fucking believe it, dude. Dude, you don’t even know, bro. You don’t even know. But they won’t give me the time of day anymore, man, cuz I’m thirty, and I’m not a voice actor, or some web artist, or Youtuber, or whatever the fuck it is they want now. But, dude, everybody gets laid at J-Con. Everybody!”

Amanda and I are sitting across from this guy at our small table. We stare at him blankly in the dub-step speaker blasting, neon framed, black light, darkness of the hotel bar as the anime convention happening throughout the rest of the Omni Tower Hotel enters its third, and final, night in a city that I can’t remember the name of. My cigarette that I was about to light up and enjoy nearly falls out of my mouth; the butt now dangling from a precarious corner in the clutches of my lips. After my first two nights of dealing with the utter bullshit of this temp job involving breaking up fights, drug deals, theft rings, and  following up on over a dozen sexual harassment complaints, this night was supposed to have the potential of being decent before getting subjected to this rant. For the first time in my life, I make face-to-face contact with a guy who openly admits to buying into the “everybody gets laid at J-Con” myth, and he wasn’t some anonymous user on a message board. Despite myself, I smirk at this burned out looking, black clothed, cowboy-goth wearing shades in this dark, loud, dungeon of a crowded bar full of old-school anime nerds, wee-a-boos, and cosplayers.

I turn to look at Amanda, and she’s looking just as tired as we do, with bags under her eyes and her long, blond hair done up in a bun that hadn’t seen a shower since the other night when she got puked on by a belligerent, drunk con goer dressed up as a Transformer. She also came dressed in all black tonight, with her leather jacket and matching steel toe boots (for the purpose of major ass kicking, I guess).

I finger the threads of my dark green suit and dark purple button up shirt, and look down at my black sneakers. I’m proud that my color scheme makes us, as a trio, come off as significantly less fascist looking, or at the very least, less goth, and therefore more approachable. And I say that in spite of our standard issued red lanyards, blue-tooth head sets, and stun guns modded to look like SMG rifles (which seem intimidating, but only fire pellets that pop on impact, sending  a charged, tazer-style shock to the target).

Amanda turns to look at me. She sucks in her cheeks, trying to either hold back a laugh or an insult. She glances back at our fellow partner in con security, shakes her head, and takes out her phone.

“Penny for your thoughts, Amanda?” I ask her while I take out my cigarette, having given up on lighting it.

“I’m thinking…” she says, raising her eyebrows at the screen of her smartphone as she types something into it, “that I should have listened to my mom and finished college.”

“Hey,” says goth cowboy, “it’s fucking real, babe. Some will even stream their shit through VR now. I’ve seen it”

“Virtual reality?” I ask.

“Fuck yeah, dude,” he tells me, “and if you know the right dealer, you can take some LSD while you VR, and it’s guaranteed total immersion. Fuck, do that, but with an MMO, and you can actually fool yourself into thinking you’re an orc mage.”

I hear my phone start to buzz and I pull it out from my pocket to take a look. It’s Amanda,via text:

Hey, this guy’s a fucking creep. Wanna bail?

I look at the text for a few more seconds, trying to come up with something.

“What’s up?” goth cowboy asks me.

I sigh.

“Damien again,” I show my phone to Amanda, pretending to have received a text from our employer, “boss man needs an assist in the dealer room.”

Amanda takes my phone, making sure that goth cowboy can’t see the screen. She looks at it for a few seconds. I imagine her counting to five in her head before saying something.

Copyright © 2017 Philip N.R Hauser