Want a sneak peek of THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY? Over the next few days I’m pulling back the cover so you can have an exclusive taste of the 4th Rucksack Universe adventure.
THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY comes out June 16. Preorder today from:
The book will also be available in trade paperback. Through June 11, you can enter for a chance to win 1 of 10 signed copies! (US only)
Tune in tomorrow for another sneak peek!
THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY
Sneak Peek: After the Alarm
NO ONE KNEW ABOUT the problem until the alarm rang, but Feckniss imagined the man in the orange suit at the top of the world was the only one who smiled about it.
From Feckniss’s cubicle much lower down the world on the third floor of the Lotus, the phone line clicked, then droned. Guru Deep had ended the conference call. A few minutes later, Feckniss’s gray-suited manager Blanders stepped into the cubicle. He stood next to the “ILLUSION IS REALITY” poster, which some said was the true mission statement of Deep Inc.
“What’s going on, sir?” Feckniss knew they could speak freely. At this late hour, no one else was in the Lotus except for Blanders, the assistant Nia Fox, and Guru Deep himself, the man in the orange suit at the top of the Lotus, London’s highest skyscraper and currently the world’s tallest building. Despite the third floor being empty, for a moment Feckniss thought he heard a snicker, brief yet packed with cruelty and condescension. Then he thought of Guru Deep, and Feckniss shuddered with awe and relief.
Guru Deep hadn’t said a word during the briefing call. He never did, but anytime Feckniss and Blanders were in a meeting, the line was open to Guru Deep’s office. Only Blanders and Feckniss did the talking, but Guru Deep’s silences resounded more than any words, a presence like a stalking tiger or a thunderhead filling the horizon. But Feckniss could imagine him standing there: Guru Deep. The Great Leader, He Whose Third Eye Saw All The World That Was And Could Be, was the President and CEO of Deep Inc. Dealing in finance, self-help seminars, travel guidebooks, breweries, and other initiatives—that Blanders hinted at but never explained—over the last few decades Deep Inc. had become of the world’s largest and most powerful companies.
On this call too Feckniss could feel the brilliant gravity of the leader’s presence as they discussed the enemy’s latest disruptions—and their effects on quarterly profits—of less-than-public Deep Inc. operations in Marrakech, Mexico City, and Moscow. “Guru Deep sees all and hears all,” Blanders said, “even if you don’t see or hear him. Guru knows. These developments trouble him. The enemy hasn’t been such a problem for Guru Deep since Kyoto, and that was decades ago.”
“What happened there?”
“At the rate you’re progressing,” said Blanders, “perhaps you’ll get to visit his office someday and ask him about the two curved swords behind his desk. It is quite a story.”
Feckniss could picture it as clearly as if he were beside the Great Leader himself. Guru Deep would be staring out over the dark London night from the north window, forty-two stories above the city that had rebuilt itself after being burned to the ground by The Blast a hundred and thirty years ago. The Lotus had recently opened as the bright, brand-new, orange glass-and-steel world headquarters of Deep Inc. In the black of the evening, Guru Deep’s trademark orange suit, a deep saffron like the flag of India, would shine like the sun against his brown skin and eyes. And there, somewhere near his massive desk, where he led his empire, two curved swords would shimmer with the power of the story they had to tell.
Feckniss shuddered at the mere idea of being there, in that office, with the man whose empire spanned businesses and industries around the globe. And one of those industries, what was about to happen, had been the subject of their call—
“Of course I can’t say for certain,” Blanders said, his voice flat as a coffin bottom and returning Feckniss’s mind to the third floor. The pale taut skin over his skull always reminded Feckniss of a balloon about to pop. Smoothing the impeccable gray wool of his lapel, Blanders smiled, which meant the corners of his mouth briefly twitched upward, then fell back down as if embarrassed to be caught trying. “But I believe we can safely surmise that the enemy has taken it.”
“Just as Guru Deep expected,” Feckniss replied. “Though wasn’t the Lotus designed to keep out that individual?”
Again the near smile. Blanders tapped the side of his nose. “Guru knows. Though I’m sure he’ll have Ms. Fox order a full security audit to find and remedy whatever lapse or flaw led to this breach. Damn new building and new protocols—of course the enemy managed to find some weakness, no matter how small, that he could exploit.”
Feckniss nodded. “Of course. We are so close now. Guru Deep knew the enemy would come, didn’t he?” Again the brief grin. “I see. Guru Deep wanted him to come. Will it affect the plans? Will it disrupt our progress toward Operation—”
“Only in ensuring our success,” Blanders replied. “All endeavors are easier when your enemies complete your work for you.”
“Does he know the secret?”
“It doesn’t matter,” Blanders said. “What we have long ago set in motion, his actions cannot stop. All that matters, Feckniss, is that through our teamwork and Guru Deep’s guidance, the time has come. Tomorrow proceeds as planned.”
“It will be no more?”
This time the smile remained. Bloodless lips curved into an upside-down scythe. “Its end,” he said, “is only the beginning.”
Pre-order THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY e-book from:
Enter the Goodreads Giveaway from a chance to win 1 of 10 signed paperbacks (US only):
Tune in tomorrow for another sneak peek!