Spotlight on: RR Haywood
RR Haywood is a caffeine-befuddled, dog-owning, beard-keeping Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Amazon, and Audible multiple bestselling author with over two million books sold worldwide. He lives in England on the Isle of Wight with his German Shepherd dogs, (and two Herring gulls called Oscar and Veronica that come for breakfast every morning).
Hello to the famous Locus Mag and all your gorgeous readers! My name is Rich. I write several well-known series. The Extracted Trilogy. The Code Series, and my largest work – The Undead. I’m thrilled to be featured here. Thank you so much. My new book has just come out, DELIO. PHASE ONE. It’s about everyone on the planet freezing still, while also showing how the world’s first fully sentient AI escapes from a top-secret US military base. It’s chock full of action, adventure, humour, and great characterisations. I was in law enforcement for over twenty years and love delving into the psychology of characters while pushing them to their limits – while all the time retaining gritty realism.
I’m blown away that DELIO has already become a bestseller and gained incredible reviews. I’ve popped the first chapter on so you can get a taste! I really hope you like it.
A single bed in a small room.
The centre of Piccadilly Circus.
A street in New York city outside of a 7-Eleven.
A young woman taken from her country.
A drug dealer who paid his debt.
A suicidal, washed-up cop.
The rest of the world now frozen.
Frank Gillespie told a lie fifteen years ago.
Frank made straws.
Plastic ones that were shipped all over the world from his plant in Michigan.
Frank was proud of that. Even though it wasn’t actually his plant. He was just the operations manager, but he’d been there since leaving school at sixteen, and thirty-two years working the same job breeds a certain level of loyalty.
Then the actual owner sold the company to a national conglomerate who decided to bring in a new production system, but the project wasn’t easy. It was summer. It was hot, and Frank’s already bad eating habits got worse. He was overweight, with rising blood pressure, and putting down a hundred hours a week.
His wife got angry, but then she was always angry. Frank preferred being at work where he felt valued.
He oversaw the integration of the new system. A fully automated production line. It made Frank feel uneasy. Like he was glimpsing the future where robots did the work of men.
That glimpse was true, because the same morning the new system fired up and got running, he was told to lay off three quarters of the workforce and, one by one, he shook their hands and told them the bad news.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the depot manager then shook Frank’s hand and said he was being laid off too. Which was at the same moment the divorce papers were being served, and it was a combination of all of those things that caused Frank to have the heart attack.
Fortunately, however, Frank was still technically employed, so his health insurance policy kicked in and the surgeons wheeled him into the theatre, which enabled Frank to have a state-of-the-art pacemaker fitted.
Unfortunately, however, Frank’s employer then pulled the insurance cover and left Frank with crippling aftercare debts, in addition to the divorce costs.
A few months later, Frank filed for bankruptcy and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he signed on with a contract cleaning company.
Frank had no real connection to New Mexico.
Which is why he chose it.
The application form asked, amongst other things, if he had ever suffered from any heart conditions, or if he had ever been fitted with a pacemaker. Frank didn’t like telling lies, but he needed the money.
He ticked the box that said ‘No’.
He was vetted for security clearance and started cleaning office blocks, and as it turned out, Frank quite liked his new life. There was something soothing about cleaning things. He was reliable and punctual too and, because of those traits, he soon progressed to cleaning government buildings.
The Department of Defense.
It was all the same to Frank.
Fifteen years later, Frank’s boss offered him a new role, cleaning another military establishment. Frank’s boss said the salary was the same, but it came with a little house, and the moving expenses would all be covered.
Frank said sure. Why not?
It was all the same to Frank.
He was vetted again and, once cleared, he was moved out to Artesia, New Mexico, where for five days a week he was collected by bus with other workers and driven forty miles into the rolling, bush-covered desert hills to a restricted government location known as Site 26A, where he duly emptied wastepaper bins and mopped floors.
It was a place the government used to test things.
There were rumours, of course, and the fact the military base was located halfway between Artesia and Roswell only fuelled those rumours.
They even covered it in orientation on his first day and made a joke about cleaning the windscreens on the flying saucers.
But Frank never saw any spaceships.
Just offices and corridors.
Then, one Monday morning twelve months ago, Ruiz Hernandez went sick, and Frank was sent to cover his shift in another building, constructed behind a high concrete wall topped with razor wire. Frank was searched on entry and had to hand over his wristwatch. He didn’t have a cell phone as they were banned from the compound.
He was escorted through security doors staffed by armed soldiers to a wide corridor surrounding a large, glass-walled room.
‘Am I cleaning in there?’ Frank asked the soldier with him.
‘No, sir. Just the outer perimeter,’ the soldier said.
Frank figured that meant the floor looping around the glass room, ‘Sure. Where’s the machine kept?’
The soldier unlocked a door to a cleaning closet and pointed to the mop and bucket. ‘No electrical devices are permitted within the perimeter,’ he said.
Frank started mopping and noticed a young black guy inside the glass room, talking to a wall fitted with screens and other electrical devices.
Frank figured he must be on a conference call or something and got on with his job, but at the edge of his vision he saw the guy flap his hands and march over to the wall, where he hit a panel. It sounded like air escaping. Like when a pressurized container is released. A door opened. It was thick too. Real thick, and the guy leaned out.
‘Er, where’s Ruiz?’ the guy asked in a British accent. He was polite and friendly, but he looked tired and drawn.
‘I don’t know, Ollie,’ the soldier replied.
‘He’s sick,’ Frank said. ‘Something he ate.’
‘Ruiz is sick?’ the British guy said, looking at Frank but addressing the soldier. ‘I don’t know his name. Does it matter? Okay, fine. I’ll ask . . .’ the man smiled and leaned out again. ‘Sorry. Er, may I ask your name please?’
‘Frank Gillespie. You need to see my ID?’ Frank asked, pulling his card out from the lanyard on his belt.
‘No. Honestly, she just wanted to know. She’s a bit nosy like that.’
‘What did Ruiz eat that made him sick?’ a female voice called from the glass room.
‘I’m not sure, ma’am,’ Frank said. He couldn’t see anyone but figured it was someone on a loudspeaker call.
‘What are his symptoms, Ollie?’ the woman asked. ‘I can determine probable causes by a detailed analysis of his biological responses.’
‘It’s none of our business, Deli,’ the British man cut in.
‘I think maybe shrimp,’ Frank said. ‘Ruiz eats a lot of shrimp at weekends. I told him. I said, “Ruiz, don’t eat so much shrimp. We’re in the desert.”’ Frank cut off with a slight wince, feeling a weird pinch in his chest. Like his heart was beating out of rhythm, and for a second, he worried he was about to have another heart attack.
‘You okay, Frank?’ the British man asked.
‘Yeah. I’m good,’ Frank said as the feeling passed. ‘Indigestion, probably.’
Frank got on with his job, and when he finished his shift, he gathered with the other staff at the exit point and, as per protocol, they were all searched prior to loading onto the bus.
The bus that took them home.
Frank’s house was small but cosy. He pulled his shirttails out and, after dumping his security card and keys on the kitchen table, he cracked a beer from the fridge and headed into the living room to his big, comfy armchair.
Frank liked his TV.
It was large and modern. He could control it with his voice too. He thought back to his old life, and how he was afraid that technology would take over the lives of men. Then he shrugged and figured technology was actually a good thing. Especially when they make big, voice-activated televisions connected to his home Wi-Fi.
He took a drink of his beer and felt another pinch in his chest.
Just like before, and again he worried he was about to have another heart attack.
He rubbed his chest, and in so doing, he missed his TV screen blinking strangely for a second.
Then, a second later, the sensation passed, and Frank shrugged as he settled back to flick through the channels, without ever knowing that the lie he told fifteen years ago would change the world forever.
While you are here, please take a moment to support Locus with a one-time or recurring donation. We rely on reader donations to keep the magazine and site going, and would like to keep the site paywall free, but WE NEED YOUR FINANCIAL SUPPORT to continue quality coverage of the science fiction and fantasy field.
©Locus Magazine. Copyrighted material may not be republished without permission of LSFF.
One thought on “Spotlight on: RR Haywood”
Cool. Can’t wait to read the rest. Thank you