The World Outside

Four years ago today I published Empowered: Agent, the first novel in the Empowered series. In honor of that, I've written a flash fiction story which takes place when Mathilda Brandt is still in Special Corrections, nearly three years after the event of "Nullified." *** The World Outside Copyright 2021 Dale Ivan Smith Rain popped and sizzled on the force dome above my garden in the Yard. My tomato plants withered in the heat, but the sudden rain outside Special Corrections would do them no good. San Diego got doused but it was still a desert inside Special Corrections, thanks to the damn force dome. I frowned. My watering can was nearly empty. Even with the null cuffs on, I could still hear the faint moaning of the plants, craving water. Another female inmate appeared from behind my tomato plants. My jaw tightened. She must have been waiting for me. She was a redhead, slender, maybe five ten, so four inches shorter than me, wearing the same white coveralls we all wore inside, and the same nullification cuffs that blocked our powers.  I didn’t see either of the armored Corrections Officers that were on duty here in the Yard. My garden was near the forty-foot-high wall dividing our section of Special Corrections from the men’s section, which meant it was in shadow in the afternoon, since the men’s section was on the west side. The woman held a watering can in her hand. “You’re Mathilda, right?” I narrowed my eyes.…

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The end of the vine

Nine years ago an image came to me--a young woman, discharged from a prison for super-criminals, trying to start a new life, and being approached by those who wanted her to use her superpower and return to her own life. That was the start of Mathilda Brandt's story. She was once a rogue Empowered, nick-named vine, because of her affinity for creating mutant blackberry vines. She was captured and sent to Special Corrections at sixteen, paroled at twenty one, and only wanting to take care of her ailing grandmother, Ruth, and her two younger twin sisters. But, the world wouldn't let her. After several tries, I finally wrote the first novel, Empowered: Agent, in 2016, along with the sequel, Empowered: Traitor. In 2017, I published those two novels, along with the third in the series, Empowered: Outlaw. In June 2018, I published Book Four, Empowered: Rebel, thinking at the time that I'd close the series with that novel. Only, truthfully that was not the end of Mat's story. It took longer than I'd planned, but the final novel, Empowered: Hero, is now finished and out in the world. I've learned so much during my time with Mat. I've learned the importance of trusting in your imagination, and in listening to feedback from beta readers and editors, knowing how much to plan ahead of time, and how much run comes to me as I write. (Quite a lot, in fact). Most of all, I learned to listen to Mat, and tell…

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Don’t Panic

"Don't panic" is advice from a favorite book of mine, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and applies doubly so right now, in the midst of the 2020 COVID-19 global pandemic. We have to be patient, as we stay-at-home, and vigilant. Those who have to go outside to work are all heroes, especially the healthcare workers and first responders, but also the delivery people and grocery and warehouse workers. The least I can do is not panic, and I'm working on that. I even have a new fez to help me stay calm. Words to write by, and words to live by, especially now. I'm a huge fan of Doctor Who, and love the latest Doctor, played by Jodi Whittaker. I love her even more after this short video she did, in character, to comfort us right now. "Brave heart," the Fifth Doctor said, and we all need brave hearts, right now. We can do this. We really are all together, members of the enormous, raucous, strong-willed human family, brilliant in our individual and shared creativeness, passionate, caring, loving, and kindness. It's said that patience is a virtue; right now, it's more than that, it's necessary, as most of us stay at home, and wait for the viral transmission to drop. We can do this. And, even though it feels like we are alone as we do, we are altogether in this. Hang in there, and remember, don't panic.