Enter The Machine

You can now pre-order Webley and The World Machine on Amazon! Check it out HERE!

I wanted to give you all a little sneak peek so here are the first two chapters of Webley! I hope you fall in love with Adal and Arija as much as I have.

1

The Beginning

Retro technical background, drawing

I remember that day like it happened this morning. We’d been fighting the enemy for months, slowly pushing our way through their lines to get to this one point. You see, we knew Hitler was in that compound. We also knew the Russians were on their way from the other side. We didn’t like it, but we had to work as a team.

We arrived at the outskirts of the bunker just as the sun was peeking its head over the hills. We marched all night and let me tell you, my feet were so blistered I couldn’t take a goddamn step without popping one of those bad boys. The tanks’ rumbled as I walked with my machine-gun in my hands, oh lord, that was the most empowering moment of the war. We knew what we were gettin’ ourselves into and we were ready to be heroes, so let the enemy come was our opinion.

Were we scared? That’s a foolish question. We were the 761st Tank Battalion. Our motto was “Come Out Fightin’.” Being a primarily Colored unit we were always given the suicidal missions; goddamn army didn’t even care about us. At first, we couldn’t believe we survived, but after a while, we liked defying the odds. We liked showing those bastards what we were made of.

It always made me laugh, that we were fighting against intolerance, but our unit was formed out of racism. So, believe me when I say, we threw our own hearts and pain into each battle.

We reached our rally point. The tanks quit rolling, and we all gathered into formation. What we got was a simple plan with high danger and a lot of work. This wasn’t anything we weren’t used to. We basically came to blow it up, shoot it down, kill them all, a regular day at work.

So, when the order was given, we started to move out and get into position. My unit was the “Cutters” as they called us, and they weren’t talkin’ about knives. We carried the BAR and kept those krauts in check with heavy fire while our tanks did what they came to do. I liked the post, except for lugging that big hunk of metal and wood around.

We only walked a little more before we came through a park and the bunker was in sight. Now usually, we’d wait a moment before we attacked a target. Sort of a “wait for the best time” kinda thing, you understand that? This time, we were out in the open, so they saw us just as we saw them. Also, we had a little bet going against the Red Army, so we weren’t waitin’ for anything. You see, sometimes in war, you gotta make a game out of it, you know . . . to keep out the dark thoughts that you killin’ a bunch of people.

We entered the clearing, and our tanks opened fire. Then BOOM! We learned a long time ago that the sounds could deafen the poor bastard who shot them off. That’s why I got this bad ear, ya’ see. I stayed away from the tanks after that.

Anyway, so we fired, moved, fired, and moved killing as many of those kraut bastards as we could. Their machine guns couldn’t stand up against our tanks, it was sort of funny seeing all those German faces when they saw our tanks. Hitler’s final stand outside his goddamn compound and here we are, a battalion of black men showing those Arian bastards what real warriors are.

Eventually, we got to the compound walls. Well, what was left of ‘em. We did a great job leveling their barriers, and we rolled in like a wave of hate and contempt. My hands had gone numb from the constant vibrating of my rifle as I gave the German’s all I had. When the magazine ran dry, I’d gotten so good at slapping a new one in that you couldn’t even hear a break in my fire pattern.

When we got inside the compound, we started to mop up what was left of the enemy. I’ll admit, the Germans weren’t stupid, they had some good defenses once we were inside. I personally fought with three SS soldiers in a hallway for almost five minutes before I remembered that I had a grenade remaining. Like to say they went out with a bang.

We were a little agitated, as we got inside, the Russians were already in, working the German’s from the other side. Damn, they got in there fast. Like a bunch of goddamn magicians. Everything turned into a mad dash to get down to the basement bunker and get to the target. On more than a few occasions, I came across some of our “allies” in the halls. Nearly shot ‘em a few times, not always by accident, either. They seemed to always be “accidentally” shooting at us, so I decided to return the favor. Anyway, eventually, we started outnumbering the Krauts so telling the difference was easier.

After, I don’t even know how long fighting and moving, we finally made it to the bunker, only to find out that the coward killed himself and his wife. Let me tell you, when I say that we were hot under the collar about that, I’m not yankin’ your chain. I shot a few holes in the walls to let off a little steam, myself.

The Russians didn’t seem bothered by it, though. In fact, they took credit for the raid the whole time. I even heard a few of them saying that we helped them raid the bunker! Those sons of bitches wouldn’t have even made it into the compound if it wasn’t for our tanks.

Damn, let me tell you what I saw down in that bunker. Junk. A whole room of paintings, and crap. Sure, we’d heard the rumors of the Nazi treasures, but I was a little disappointed when I saw the room. I was expecting gold, jewels, and priceless art. What he had in there were cases upon cases of old crap. We walked around the room and looked at all the items, and it was all just a bunch of old junk. Not sure what the point of collecting all that was, but I never tried to understand someone like Adolf Hitler. No point in it.

As we checked out everything, one thing did stick out—a coin on one of the old cabinets. The golden glint of light bouncing off it caught my attention. When I walked up to it, I found the coin was actually brass. It was big and heavy, almost half the size of my palm. It had what looked like gears on one side, and on the other were a wrench, hammer, and an anvil.

Something about it was mesmerizing. I picked it up and twisted it through my fingers. The day’s spoils were still up for grabs, so I slid the coin into my pocket. The way I looked at it was the Reds owed us for gettin’ them into the bunker.

We never did get any credit for that raid. We didn’t kill Hitler, and the Russians had the jump on communication, so there was no need to give any credit to a bunch of black men, apparently. Even after all that we did, we got to return to a world where we were lower than the goddamn dog.

It was at that point I thought to myself, “Why the hell should I go back?” It wasn’t like I had anything to go back to. This half of the world was destroyed and would need to be rebuilt. The people were broken and needed help. The interesting part of it, they were happy to be getting assistance . . . even from a black man.

After a while, I fell in love with the German culture and its people. There were still idiots just like back home, but I just couldn’t pull myself from a country where I was able to help save and rebuild a world.

This was near the time when a much younger version of myself met the love of his life. Oh boy, was your grandma beautiful. I’d never met someone like her in my life, her golden hair made her look like an angel. Your grandma was my first friend in a land where I wasn’t sure I belonged. All of her family had been killed in one form or another during the Great War. We were both alone in the world. Our love knew no bounds, no colors, and no limits.

This is the story of our family and why we are here today.

 

2

Mr. Smooth

Retro technical background, drawing

Adal shot up from his bed and looked awkwardly around the room as sweat trickled down his forehead. Too often he awoke in a sweat kicking his blankets off in the middle of the night. It didn’t help that his father refused to drop the central air lower than seventy-nine degrees. It also didn’t help that when the hot morning sun peeked above the horizon, it poured right through his window.

“Damn!” Adal shot his panic filled eyes at his alarm clock. He was running late. Today was the day he was presenting his Grandfather’s story and family history to his senior class. He hopped from his bed. As he did, his foot tangled in his sheet, causing him to fall face first to the floor.

The loud ‘thud’ was followed by him pressing his arms outward like he was doing pushups and leveraging himself to stand again. He paused for a moment and looked around his room, almost reflexively assuring that no one had seen him take the tumble. Coming back to reality, he scoffed and rolled his eyes before darting to his bathroom.

He stumbled about his morning ritual of clothes, hair, and face as quickly as he could, taking only a few minutes to stare at himself in the mirror. Adal always made it a point to look as good as he possibly could before he left his room.  He had long worked on his reputation, and wouldn’t let something as small as being late jeopardize it.

With himself prepared for the day, Adal took a moment to appreciate his appearance before leaving the mirror. His low-cut white t-shirt dipped just far enough to show the crease between his pecs that he’d spent months chiseling with track and field. His hair and fade were perfectly lined up, and he ran his hand over his neck. Smooth as ever.

Giving himself a wink in the mirror, Adal slipped his sneakers on and ran for his bedroom door. As he grabbed the handle, he froze in place and smiled. He turned around and grabbed his notebook off the desk that sat near the door. In all of the morning rush, he nearly forgot the reason for his hurrying.

Swinging his bedroom door open, he ran down the hall and hopped down the stairs to the first landing. Collecting himself, he walked down the last three stairs and then made a dash for the front door.

“Adalwolf Stein you get your butt over here right now,” his father’s voice bellowed from the dining room. When his father used his full name, Adal knew he was in it deep. Everyone knew him as Adal. Very few people knew his whole name, and he would only answer to it for his parents, mostly because he didn’t have a choice.

Adal rolled his eyes and turned around, walking into the dining room. His father and grandfather were seated at the table eating. Grandpa Lawrence was reading the paper, as he did every morning, while his mother poured coffee and beckoned Adal to the one empty seat with a plate already set for him. His father sat at the head of the table, a stern look on his face as he peered impatiently over the frame of his glasses at his son.

“Boy, are you running late again?” Adal’s father leaned back in his chair, sipping his coffee. Adal reluctantly walked over and plopped himself down in the empty chair, setting his notebook on the table next to a pitcher of orange juice.

“Well, the boy wouldn’t be so late if you didn’t stop him from gettin’ to school. Pick those fights, Son,” his grandfather chimed in, not even lowering the paper that covered his face.

Adal smiled. He knew his grandfather was trying to conceal a laugh as he hid behind his morning paper.

“Dad, now’s not the time. The boy is becoming an adult, and he needs to be thinking about his future, about what he wants to do with his life. He has to get himself together and learn to be organized,” his father said. This time, his grandfather remained silent. Adal hated when his grandfather kept quiet, it meant that he agreed with his father.

Adal’s father had drilled into his head every day for as long as he could remember the importance of getting into University and getting a good job. Don’t follow those lazy friends of yours! Adal’s dad had said to him so many times now that he could mimic both the tone and inflection of his father’s lecture.

“Dad, it’s not my fault. I was up all night working on my report for History. I forgot to set my alarm!”

“That’s the problem, Adal. You need to listen to your father. We raised you better than that.” Adal’s mother joined in as she wiped down the counter with a paper towel. Adal sucked on his teeth and sunk into his chair. They weren’t about to hear him. They never did. His parents were always ‘A+’ parents. You could bring home an A, and they would ask why it wasn’t an A+.

He knew they loved him, but he wished they showed it in ways other than riding him all the time. That’s why over the years Adal had grown so close to his grandfather. Ever since he was little, his grandfather was the only one with any chill.

The story was always the same when he asked his dad why he was so hard on him all the time. Being raised in Germany, a mixed-race son of a black American and a white German, Adal’s father was always the outcast. This is what drove him to move to Africa where he met his Mother. After Grandma Ursula died and Grandpa Lawrence needed help getting around, that’s when they moved back to Germany.  All that adversity made his dad proud, strong, stubborn, and driven. Adal had inherited his father’s strength and pride, but at least he had a personality to go with it.

“Look, I get it. I screwed up. My bad. Can I go? I really am going to be late for my presentation.” Adal stood from his chair and grabbed his notebook before his parents could argue. His mother sighed, and his father sipped his coffee.

“You can go, Adalwolf, but we will talk about this when you get home. Things are going to change around here. I expect a decent grade on that report from today, and I want to see your teacher’s notes on it too.” His father slid the glasses back up his nose to signal that he was done speaking and Adal turned on his heels to leave.

“Adal,” his grandfather spoke up, putting the newspaper down. With his old age, his grandfather’s hair had turned white, giving a sharp contrast to his dark complexion. He never called Adal “Adalwolf”; he was the only one in his family who respected Adal enough to know he hated his full name.

“Are you doing the report on our family? My story and how we got here?” he asked, nodding his head to Adal’s notebook.

“You know it!”

“Then let the boy alone. He’s got this. Quit being so hard on my grandson all the time.” Lawrence nudged his son in the shoulder producing a smile from Adal and a frustrated snort from his father. As a rule, you did not speak to an elder with disrespect in their home. It took Adal a few strikes on the back of the head growing up to learn that lesson, but it took nonetheless.

“Thanks, Gramps.” Adal chuckled, pointing to his grandfather and nodding his head up toward the ceiling.

Spinning around, Adal jogged to the door and ran outside, accidentally slamming the door behind him. He flinched at the loud bang and knew that he would hear about that when he got home later. Leaping through the air, Adal cleared the steps of his front stoop and landed silently on the sidewalk.

He walked up the sidewalk toward the school. Adal didn’t want to run because that would make him sweat, and he couldn’t show up to school looking sloppy. That wasn’t his style. Besides, he still had seventeen minutes according to his watch to get to school, and it was only a few blocks away. No worries at all, he could still easily make it.

Other teens walked along the sidewalk toward the school, but even though he didn’t run, Adal was easily passing them all. At 6’3”, he had a long stride, and with him walking as fast as he could, he easily matched the speed of some of his fellow classmates while jogging. A few said ‘Hello’ as he passed, but Adal was lost in thoughts of his parents from breakfast.

“Why does he have to always be in my business all the time?” Adal mumbled, rounding a corner. The school was now almost in view. Only five blocks straight ahead, he should be there in a few minutes. Still lost in his thoughts, Adal didn’t even notice he had gained a follower. A sharp pinch in his shoulder nearly made him drop his notebook.

Catching the book midair, Adal turned to confront the person who thought it funny to trip him up. He was ready to pour all of his morning frustrations on the newcomer when he turned and saw who it was. He sighed and shook his head.

“Well, looks like you aren’t always as together as you’d like to think,” teased Arija as she nudged him in the shoulder. She tossed her raven hair over her shoulder and giggled as she adjusted her backpack. Arija was always doing these sorts of things just to get under his skin ever since they met and became friends ten years ago. As the two grew, they only got closer as friends and, over the last year or so, had become inseparable.

Adal always considered her too good for any of the boys at school, she deserved a man. Someone who would take care of her and treat her right.  Arija was the smartest girl in their class, but she also had the heart of a fighter. Her soft olive skin was always either glowing with her own aura as the sun hit it or from the sweat of her most recent workout. Though they were only friends, Adal had to admit that she looked good.

Adal’s friends always made fun of him for not going after Arija, but he was too cool to be considered taken. He liked the attention he got from the girls. Besides that, he looked at Arija like a little sister, not someone he would date. Adal knewArija liked him, he could see it in the way she’d bat those big hazel eyes at him, but she was his best friend, and he didn’t want to do anything to screw that up.

“Girl, you almost messed up my presentation. You do that, don’t think I won’t make you write me another one!” Adal tugged at his shirt, pulling out the imaginary wrinkles that she’d caused. Arija let out an unimpressed laugh at his attempted bravado.

“You act like I don’t already do half of your homework so you don’t flunk out and get kicked off the team! So, the way I figure it, you kinda owe me more favors than you have thoughts in the day.” She turned her nose up at him and picked up her pace, gaining several steps ahead. Arija was cute when she pretended to be mad at him, and Adal let a wide grin crease his face as he picked up speed.

“You know I appreciate that. Besides, you also keep my old man off my back.” Adal put his arm around Arija’s shoulder and pulled her to his side. She smiled, pushing away from him.

“Don’t think just because you’re Mr. Smooth that you can butter me up. I only need you to pass so we stand a chance in competition. I have the girl’s team covered, but we need you on the boy’s team to keep them in the winning circle. It’s strictly business, get yourself together.” They always played this game, pretended like they didn’t care about each other, but Arija did keep him in check, and for that, Adal was grateful.

“Oh you know you can’t resist my charms. No girl can!” Adal ran ahead of Arija and turned to face her so she couldn’t get past him. She stopped. He grinned as he leaned his forehead against hers, so they were nose to nose. Eventually, Arija laughed and pushed him away, but Adal had to admit, he liked messing with her.

A rolling sound came from behind Adal, and before he knew what was happening, his foot landed on something slippery and was sliding out from under him. His feet flew into the air in pursuit of his notebook as his back slammed against the hard ground. A chorus of laughter erupted from just next to the two friends. A gang of boys leaned against the wall of a small coffee shop, pointing and roaring with laughter.

“Smooth landing, Adal!” one of the boys cackled, stepping over the fallen Adal and snatched up his skateboard. Arija’s face flushed with anger as she helped her friend to his feet. The other boys remained with their backs against the wall, but the one that spoke stood just next to Adal, holding the skateboard that had put Adal on his back to begin with.

“And to think, they made you team captain? Can’t even stay on your feet while walking. Lucky she was here to help the little boy to his feet. What are you supposed to be again, anyway, his groupie?” the boy teased crudely toward Arija as rage burned on Adal’s face.

“What the hell was that, Elias?” Adal shouted, thrusting both of his hands into the boy’s chest and shoving him back into his group of friends. The group of boys gathered their leader and stalked over to Adal, Elias in the lead.

“Just testing your skills man. I mean, you’re supposed to be the best, ain’t you?” Elias was so close to Adal’s face that he could smell the bullies rank breath. Arija stood firmly next to her friend as the boys attempted a half-circle. She clenched her fists and gritted her teeth, Adal’s jaw sawed back and forth as Elias spoke.

“You want me to show you the best? Normally, I reserve that for your mother, but if you want a piece too . . . ” Adal swelled his chest and pressed it to Elias’ nose. When Adal stood straight up, he was easily 4-5 inches taller than Elias, and his muscles were much more defined. The smug grin left Elias’ face, and his expression went cold.

“Don’t think for a moment that I’m intimidated by some big golem! Maybe it’s time someone taught both you and your girlfriend a lesson,” Elias spat on the ground at Arija’s feet. She reared back to swung at him, but Adal caught her arm and lowered it, shaking his head at her.

“You see, now that’s the problem we have here, Elias. You keep insulting my friend, and she’s a much better fighter than all of you put together. I think you owe her an apology.” Adal gestured to the group, sliding himself in the limited space between Arija and the rest of the boys. He wasn’t worried about her getting hurt, he was more worried about her hurting the rest of them and getting them all expelled.

“An apology? Really? Well, Mr. Captain, I think you’re going to be disappointed,” Elias snapped, looking over his shoulders to his friends. Adal didn’t seem disappointed in his response. Instead, he rubbed his hand over his mouth, producing a wide grin and a single chuckle.

Well then, looks like I’m just going to have to show you,” Adal retorted, looking to Arija. The two shared a knowing smile as if they were having a telepathic conversation.

“Show me what, exactly?” Elias asked, pressing his chest into Adal. Adal leaned in to speak into Elias’ ear, adrenaline rushing

“These hands,” Adal whispered. Elias’ expression dropped, but it was too late for him to react. In a flash of light from Adal’s watch, he threw his open palm upward, hitting Elias in the throat and causing him to stumble back into two of his friends. One of the other boys avoided the impact and moved around Elias, swinging at Adal. Anticipating what the other boy would do, Adal stepped backward, and the hook went wide. The boy recovered and went for another hook with his other fist.

Arija lunged forward and grabbed the boy’s arm, and before he could react, she pulled him down to the ground and had her hands and arms wrapped around his upper body in a near textbook armbar. Not considering that she had been in track and field with Adal for years, Arija had also taken a liking to the wrestling team, presently holding several school records of her own. The boy screamed in pain and Arija applied pressure to his arm, just enough to make him suffer but not enough to break the delicate bones in the wrist and forearm.

Elias was on his knees coughing as the two remaining friends turned their attention from Adal to Arija. The two boys kicked at Arija’s back and ribs as they tried to pry their friend loose. Adal grabbed one of the boys by his collar and yanked him backward. At the same time, he brought one of his feet up and kicked the second boy in the stomach. Adal could hear the air leaving his lungs with the powerful hit.

Elias had recovered enough breath and hooked his hand upward from his kneeling position and caught Adal in the side of his ribs. Adal fell backward, and Elias stood with his hands in a fighting pose. Arija held onto the boy attacker still applying pressure while the second coughed for air on the ground next to her. She kept one foot ready to kick at him in case he tried to do anything stupid.

Elias squared off with Adal and threw several punches, faster than Adal would ever give him credit for. Adal managed to dodge the first one, but the second and third caught him in the jaw. He brought one hand up to the spot where a bruise would form and moved his jaw from side to side, assessing the damage. He then followed with his own barrage of strikes, most of which found their way to Elias’ chest and face. The boy that he pulled off Arija charged at Adal while Elias swung at him.

He collided with Adal’s waist and tried to lift him into the air for a body slam, but Adal was too heavy. Adal slammed both fists down into his new attacker’s back and kneed him in the chest. Then he grabbed the boy by both shoulders and rolled him away, turning once more to face Elias.

“Enough!” shouted a voice, coming out of the coffee shop. Elias turned on his heels and looked while Adal kept his pose, looking over Elias’ shoulder. An older woman with greying blonde hair came out of the shop and stood just outside of the doorway. She wore a black apron, and her face was splotchy and red.

“I cannot believe you would fight in front of the family shop, Elias! What’s come over you!” the woman was shaking her finger at the pile of boys on the ground. Elias scoffed at her, and she appeared next to him, slapping him in the back of the head like Adal’s father often would.

“Ey! Sorry, Mama! They started it!” Elias flinched under the second slap that popped his hair up in the air.

“I do not care! How dare you embarrass us like this! Wait until I tell your father!” the woman looked from Elias to Adal, then to Arija on the ground. Adal had to avoid spilling out in laughter. Arija still had the boy in her grasp, and the look of pain on his face was truly priceless. Elias’ mother walked over to her, waiving her hands at the air. “Girl! Let him go! That isn’t necessary!” she snapped at Arija.

Arija looked at Adal and waited for his cue. When he nodded, she sighed, released her grip on the teen and kicked him away from her. She hopped right to her feet and brushed her legs off. The boy rolled away and slowly stood, groaning and rubbing his arm.

“You two, go to school!” Elias’ mother barked at Adal and Arija. “The lot of you, in the shop NOW! I want a few words with all of you!” The boys looked at one another and groaned as they lined up and marched their way into the shop. As Elias reached the door, he turned to face Adal.

“Next time, you’re mine!” he snarled and spat at the ground before walking into the shop.

“Next time, don’t bring your mom to a fist fight!” Adal shot back, but Elias was already inside the coffee shop and closing the door.

“How about next time he actually gives us a fight and not a little slap fest?” Arija added, laughing.

Adal and Arija stood in place and looked at one another for a moment. Then they both smiled and brushed themselves off as they laughed. “Thanks for having my back. Oh, and thanks for not snapping off that guy’s arm.” Adal picked up his notebook and brushed the street soot from its cover. He then looked in the reflection of the shop’s window and adjusted his shirt. He reached out his knuckles and the two bumped fists.

“Anytime,” Arija replied, punching Adal in the shoulder. “Just so you know, you fight like a girl.”

“Hey, if fighting like a girl means fighting like you, I’ll take that compliment all day long.” With that, Adal flinched as he looked at his watch.

“Shit, girl, we’re about to be way late for first class!” Adal’s confident pose was replaced by teen panic making Arija giggle.

“Well then, let’s see why they made you captain of the boy’s team,” Arija teased as she bolted from where she stood. Arija was nearly half a block away before Adal even registered that she had started running.

“Psych!” Adal wasn’t about to let her beat him to school.

Read the rest of the adventure HERE

 

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