Excerpt: Brian Q. Webb’s “Shift”


author photoAfter spending some time looking for new reads in science fiction, I stumbled across author Brian Q. Webb‘s website where he is sharing an excerpt from his current work, Shift. From what I can tell, this project is not yet available to read but it going to in serialized form.

Here’s a brief summary from Webb’s site:

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With the delivery of a mysterious flash drive, doctor of applied physics and recent hire to Wired magazine Pei Xiao has just landed her first assignment outside of the New York office. Driven by a need to prove herself to a family she betrayed and helped by a photographer with a scarred past, she travels west to L.A. for the promise of an interview with the lead scientist behind the unknown top secret DARPA project hinted at in the data within the drive. It is a path that will take her into beauty and horror in this Lovecraftian SciFi tale.

Sounds interesting, eh?

And just today the author has released an excerpt from this work! Start reading it below..

Excerpt: Chapter 10 of Shift

Shelagh stood vigilant at her place in the center of the facility. It was the “center” in both literal and figurative senses. Her standing desk sat at the facility’s physical center-most point, the midpoint of the Operations level. The team she headed was responsible for managing the environmental systems of the facility, the figurative “heart” of the complex. Sitting directly in front of her were a half-dozen subordinates seated at touch panel controls, each responsible for various aspects of the environmental systems: life support (a.k.a. “air conditioning and toilets flushing”), local embedded human isolation control (a.k.a. “office and lab door locks”), human traffic routing control (a.k.a. “elevators”), local embedded power management (a.k.a. “office and lab light switches”) and so on. It was all automated and at her command.

Until it wasn’t.

Like now.

She and her lessers all stood transfixed, staring at the wall-sized display panel across from them at the far end of the room. It was exhibiting a digital schematic of the power grid down in B2, streamed to them by the Power Management Team in real-time. Shelagh knew that most other relevant system management teams: security, communications, research, and any others that might be directly effected with what was coming, were also seeing the same live feed.

Power cell storage bank R2 was flashing red. Over the input/output regulator unit figure that sat directly in front of the bank figure was superimposed a flashing black exclamation point within a yellow triangle, indicating a critical failure. The I/O unit was not cutting off the flow of electrons as it was supposed to when the cells were at full capacity. Power was streaming uncontrollably into the power cells within that bank, even though they were already fully charged.


115% capacity and rising.

Shelagh wasn’t sure what the critical failure point was for the cells, but knew that it really didn’t matter. The I/O unit had failed, the remote emergency cutoff system had failed, and now the only option left was to physically access the power input and sever it. Unfortunately, the power lines weren’t easy to access. That’s why there was a redundant remote cutoff. At the rate that the power level was rising, there was no way that anyone in the Power Management Team could get to it in time.

120% capacity. The number ticked up steadily.

Click here to finish reading on the author’s website …

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