New Heaven Corp Short Story

Please do not distribute or post elsewhere. You may share the link. Copyright CC Bridges 2021

A Little Less Conversation
CC Bridges

Kayla disconnected herself from the net and blinked slowly to let her body grow accustomed to seeing with her own eyes instead of the lobes of her brain wired into the chip implanted just below her left ear. It was always a bit disorienting, no matter how many times she did this.

And to be honest, she didn’t like hooking up to the ‘net. Kayla liked having her physical hands on things, usually in the guts of some machine. But they’d asked her to teach this lecture at the University, and Kayla couldn’t say no to the opportunity.

It had been nice to be recognized for her accomplishments, and the part of her that had been a kid on the streets of Old Trent could marvel at suddenly being called “professor” and looked to for her expertise. At one point in her life she’d never thought she’d leave the 4 square miles of her father’s junk yard.

A rattle at the window caught her attention. She stiffened, at first wondering if she was hearing things, because that sounded like…


Kayla got to her feet, a lecture on her lips. Gabe knew better than to go out flying alone at his age.

But when she threw open the tall floor to ceiling window – the kind that was common in all residences in floating cities – she didn’t see Gabe. There were two young men standing on her platform. One staggered to his feet, remarkable only for the shock of blond hair that curled into a haze around his head, like a glowing halo.

The other, oh the other, was an angel. He stood tall, with long lean limbs, straight dark hair around a face that was all angles, with silvery-blue wings extending from each shoulder.

It took her a moment to realize what was wrong. This angel didn’t have a halo, the device that connected all angels on the same network, that gave them access to a single hive mind.

An uneasy feeling grew in the pit of her stomach. “Who are you?” she demanded, dispensing with any niceties for the moment. It had been a long time since she had to worry about fearing for her life. Kayla didn’t like the sensation or it’s creeping familiarity.

The stranger didn’t seem to pick up on her wariness at all. He broke into a wide grin, one that seemed oddly familiar. “Are you Kayla Werth? You look just like your image. I’m Nicky Caldwell-Abraham. I know that’s a mouthful, but my dads tried combining their names, but both Caldham and Abrawell sounded silly. So here we are.” He paused to take a breath. “You can call me Nicky.”

Kayla stared at him for a moment, before her eyes widened. She knew where she’d seen that grin before. “You’re Hank’s son?”

“He’s one of my dad’s, yes.” Nicky nodded. “The other is Ian.”

Now that he mentioned it, she could see Ian in his dark eyes and heavy brown. “How?”

Nicky raised his hands and wiggled his fingers. “Science!” He giggled a bit at his own joke. “Genetics engineering and a portable mechanical uterus, but who wants to get technical?”

The angel behind him cleared his throat. Nicky turned to face him. “Oh, right. This is Tal.”

“He’s an angel,” Kayla swallowed hard. “Are you here to arrest me?” She carefully did not mention Gabe and her dad just downstairs in the level below.

Nicky looked so shocked it was almost laughable. “What? Oh, no, he’s not that kind of angel, and even if he were, Heaven doesn’t have any jurisdiction here in New Canada. Besides, you didn’t do anything wrong, my dads gave you those ID chips, which actually, is what made it super easy to find you.”

He was giving her whiplash. Kayla rubbed her forehead, which was starting to pound in time with her pulse. “You’re not making much sense.”

“I get that a lot.”

“If I may?” Tal cut into the conversation. He had a deep rumbling voice, a sort of sexy growl if you were into that sort of thing. And from the look Nicky threw him, he was definitely into that sort of thing. “Much has changed in the city you once knew. I understand it will take much time to understand, but Nicky and I have come to ask for your help.”

“My help?”

“You are the author of “Advanced AI Dynamics in Mechanical Constructs,” correct?” Tal asked.

“You’ve read my work?” Kayla had been publishing in machinist journals for a decade. Her research involved new ways for AI to interact with mechanical constructs. Her entire academic career had been a result of her successfully transferring her dog, Trixie’s consciousness, into a mechanical body. Said dog was currently downstairs with Dad, or else she’d never let these strangers get anywhere near Kayla.

“It’s incredible.” Tal nodded.

“Ok, enough flirting, big guy.” Nicky squeezed Tal’s shoulder. “Dad recognized your name, and said he knew you, so I figured we’d come out for a visit.”

Kayla’s lips twitched. “Most people would send a message on the ‘net.”

“And that’s the problem.” Nicky made finger guns at her. “There’s something wrong with the ‘net.”

Tal outlined the problem, which apparently had its origins 25 years ago when Gabe tore a hole in the original Angel Network by his defecting. They’d thought it hadn’t touched Heaven’s network, which was separate. “But things have been happening. Ghost angels appearing in cyberspace.”

Kayla tapped her lips, subtly engaging her net connection. She did a quick search, pulling data on the two young men in front of her with lightning speed. She wasn’t surprised to find a note from a familiar account that simply said “Help my kid. I know he’s a bit rough around the edges, but he’s got a good heart. Really bad taste in men, but what can you do? – Hank.”

“I can’t help you,” she said, holding up her hand when Nicky opened his mouth to speak. If she let him start talking, she’d never get a word in. “You need to speak to my father. He’s the expert on the net, not me.”

Nicky nodded very seriously. “Where can we find him?”

“Downstairs, follow me.”

Kayla took them both to the lift, not the staircase down the hall from her office. If this angel was anything like Gabe had been when they first met him, stairs would be a foreign concept. Her home was shaped like a cylinder, with the kitchen and living areas downstairs, and her private bedroom and office upstairs. All external windows were also doors, because that’s how it worked in a floating city.

Dad and Gabe lived in the next cylinder over, but they visited frequently. They were having lunch together today, but Kayla had to give her lecture first, so Dad and Gabe offered to wait. Trixie had been happy enough to sit at Dad’s feet, as if she were still flesh and blood and needed to cuddle for warmth.

“Dad! Gabe!” She called as the lift doors opened. Kayla didn’t want them to be taken by surprise. “We have guests.”

Dad, sitting in the large armchair that was more his than Kayla’s, startled awake. He must have been dozing. Now in his late sixties, he started to feel his age, more than he should in a city where people frequently lived to be 100. But Dad always said he’d lived a harder life than any of them, and he embraced his greying hair and sore body.

At his movement, Trixie got to her feet and started to bark. Kayla crouched down and called her over. She’d have to properly introduce her guests if she wanted her little guardian here to stop with the alarm. “Trixie. Pause.”

The body she’d constructed for the dog looked similar to her old one, but Kayla never managed to find faux fur that soft. You couldn’t tell from afar, but once Trixie got close her glowing eyes gave the game away.

“Hey, girl.” Nicky bent down and held out his hand.

Before Kayla could give a command, Trixie licked his skin. She moved to sit and held out a paw, which Nicky shook happily.

“Well, Trixie always has been a good judge of character.” Dad got to his feet. “Who do we have here?”

The angel had retracted his wings when he followed Kayla and Nicky into the lift. Yet, to Kayla, there was still something unnatural about him. “Where’s Gabe?”

“Here.” Gabe emerged from the kitchen, wiping his hands on a towel. He enjoyed cooking, now that they were someplace that offered food beyond nutricubes. “We have guests? I need to put some more food on.”

The years had been kinder to Gabe, but they were starting to show. He was almost three hundred years old. But the only outward sign was the way his hair had gone silvery white. He came over to Dad’s side and their fingers tangled together.

Yeah, after nearly three decades together, they were still in love.

“Gabe?” Tale repeated, then his violet eyes went wide. “You are Gabriel 1089!”

Before any of them could respond to that, he was across the room, kneeling before Gabe, his head bowed. “I am honored to meet you.”

Gabe blinked. He looked over at Kayla. “Um. Thanks? I guess. But you really have to explain what’s going on.”

“Believe me, I wish I could,” Kayla said drily. “These two are from Heaven…”

“Old Trent,” Nicky put in. “I’ve only visited Heaven.”

“And if you couldn’t tell, that’s Hank’s son.” Kayla sighed. “I’m not sure what the kneeling is about.”

“You are the angel exile who changed everything for us all,” Tal spoke in an awed whisper.

“You know what,” Dad sighed. “I think we should have this conversation over lunch. Come on.”

He was right. Over the dinner table it was much easier for Nicky to tell his story, in between bites of Gabe’s delicious food. It had been a long time since Kayla had thought of Hank and Ian, and she was glad they were both well and happy – and apparently fathers. She’d have to send Hank a message back.

Tal took over the narrative when it came to the problems in the network. It seemed unbelievable – how the original angels glitched, broke free from their hive mind, and started their own new society. Nevermind the nonsense about the God AI.

“And these ghost angels,” Dad said. “They are trapped in the network without bodies?”

Tal opened his mouth, and then closed it. He tilted his head to one side, reminding Kayla a lot of Gabe in the early days. “We don’t know if they are actual consciousnesses or simply, a remnant of one.”

Dad looked over at Kayla. “I have my theories. But if I’m right, I’m going to need your help.”

“Of course, Dad. I can teach my class from anywhere.”

Gabe put his hand over Dad’s on the table and squeezed it gently. “Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”

Dad took a deep breath, before taking the time to meet the eyes of everyone at the table. “Yes. It’s time we go home.”

Where do my ideas come from?

Where do ideas come from? How does a singular idea become a book? Before drafting Angel 1089 I knew I wanted to play on the idea of angels and demons, only created with technology instead of something religious.

In the original plan, Jeff was supposed to be a Demon. It would put him in direct conflict with the angel, Gabriel. But I realized I wanted to play with the concept of making deals. Jeff has made a deal with Demons, which puts him in debt to them, and keeps up that conflict. It really changed his character concept completely.

And all this before I even wrote a single word!

Trees in the colors of Fall

I had not planned on writing another Heaven Corp book. That story was told, the trilogy complete. But then, a thought came to me. What if Hank and Ian had a son? One who was raised on Earth, and had no idea of his “royal” lineage?

This was one of the ideas that occurred to me while taking one of my daily walks. I’m not 100% sure it’s going to turn into a full book, but with each walk, the plot is starting to develop. All I need to do now is write the thing.

Where do your ideas come from?

End of the year roundup

So 2020. That was a year.

Despite everything *gestures with both hands* I accomplished a few things.

I wrote two erotic short stories, one of which will be published next year in the Cleis Press Anthology “Coming Soon.” It’s a fun story, and I can’t wait to share it with you all. I will let you all know about that second story as soon I hear.

I published Stealing Jennifer! If you like fun threesome romps and heist stories, check this out!

I am halfway through writing the sequel, tentatively called “Stealing Matthew.”

I wrote a contemporary m/m romance novel that I am currently revising. I hope to share this with you all as soon as I can!

I have so many ideas that I hope I can work on in the new year and share with you all!

Writing Wednesday – Creating Characters

Welcome to Writing Wednesday where I talk about writing!

Last week I talked about being a panster when it came to creating characters. I often start with a story idea, and then fit the characters into that story. Unfortunately that often results in a lot of rewriting. I know I had gotten a good 20k into Exodus before I had Hank’s voice, and I had to go back and rewrite the beginning.

When I wrote Angels Rising, I had written the entire novel when I realized I had made Raphael the main character, and it really needed to be Uriel. And I had committed the cardinal sin of making Uriel do something assholish to fit the plot. I rewrote that entire book from the beginning, fixing those problems. But it would have been a good thing if I could have figured out my characters from the beginning!Cover of Angels Rising

So I’m changing how I develop characters.

But what method to use? I attended a workshop on the Verbalize method, which I used when working on Stealing Jennifer (out this month! Cover reveal and pre-order links coming next week!). I liked the focus on actions – what the character does defines them.

However, when I tried to apply the method to other novels, it just fell apart. I discovered that I like it when my characters grow organically, and this method didn’t quite let me do that.

I figured out what’s important is understanding the characters and what they want before I start drafting the book. I don’t like doing forms or checklists that go on for pages. I need to know the core heart of my character, and then the details get filled in.

When I started writing my latest work in progress, I figured out what both main characters want and love, and how they are getting in their own way of achieving their goals. As I write, tiny details become apparent to me. I’ve reached the coveted 30,000 word mark, and I don’t feel the need to go back and rewrite the entire book (yet!). These boys are solid, and now I just have to break them apart before they can have their happy ending.

One trick I wanted to share with you from one of my MFA texts – Plot Versus Character – that really worked for me. Before starting writing the novel, write a scene where your character is doing the most in-character thing they could be doing. This really helps solidify your character in your mind.

How do you create characters? Any tips to share? Leave them in the comments!

Updates and New Releases!

The next few months are going to be pretty busy for me. I’ll have 4 (four!!!!) works coming out.

Cover image of Into the Mystic Vol 2. Woman with water in backdrop.Already released:
– Unraveled- a short story in the anthology “Into the Mystic, Vol 2”

Coming soon:
– The new edition of Angel 1089! The new Heaven Corp covers look awesome and I can’t wait to share them with you! The new edition includes a new chapter.
– Short story (well, a novella really) called “Wolf Knight” in the “To the Victor” anthology by Less than Three Press.

– Short story “The Puzzle Box” in Dreamspinner’s Advent Calendar collection!

More about each project as the dates get closer!

Cover Reveal – Love in the Time of Hurricanes

In the fall of 2015, Dreamspinner Press called for submissions for their States of Love line, stories set in every state of the United States. As a life-long resident of New Jersey, I knew I had to submit. I’m so happy that my work was accepted. There is a lot of me in this book, probably more so than anything else I’ve written. You’ll be able to find it March 8. But until then, check out this awesome cover.

Man looks over the devestation of the Jersey shore boardwalk


The night Nick Henderson storms into Martelli’s Pizzeria, he’s just looking for something to eat. Along with dinner, he finds Lou Martelli—pizza cook extraordinaire and Jersey Shore native. Nick is renting a Shore house for the winter while taking classes at the local community college as he devises a way to escape the accounting major his father chose for him.

When Lou offers to show Nick around, heat flares between them as they realize they have more in common than domineering families. But it’s not all fun and games on the boardwalk. Hurricane Sandy blows ashore, changing the place Nick was starting to think of as home. His peace is shattered, and it will take everything he has to keep his relationship with Lou from being torn apart by the storm brewing around them.

States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.

Looking back at my writing goals for 2016

Now that 2016 is (thankfully) winding down to a close, I wanted to look back and see how well I met my writing goals. So let’s see how much I wrote!

– Love in the Time of Hurricanes (pub date March 2017) – 30,000 words
– Wolf Knight (pub sometime next year) – 20,000 words
– Rejected Christmas Story 8,000 words
– Bloodwork – first draft – 60,000

Total: 118,000 words.

That’s not bad!

Now goals for 2017:

Edit and submit Bloodwork
Edit and submit Angels Rising, the last Heaven Corp novel
Write a novella and maybe another novel (hah!)

What do you think? Too ambitious? I realize it’s not the banging out of words that’s the difficulty – it’s the finding time to edit. It’s easier to write in the chaos of my daily life, but finding that quiet time to think about the words and fix the problems is a bit more difficult.

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