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Book details
  • Genre:FICTION
  • SubGenre:Science Fiction / Action & Adventure
  • Language:English
  • Pages:268
  • eBook ISBN:9798350948295
  • Paperback ISBN:9798350948288


by Kip Cassino

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The rock that killed the dinosaurs had passengers. Chicxulub's devasting impact brought with it race of beings who have dominated Earth for more than sixty million years. They remain in shadow, gleaning life from the edges of our civilization They will scour us from the planet we think is ours if aroused. Psychiatrist Elizabeth Wyler finds herself drawn into the growing conflict between humanity and these clandestine overlords.
Psychiatrist Elizabeth Wyler is called to the bedside of a badly injured Los Angeles Police officer, Leo Moore. His superiors want information about how Moore was hurt, and what happened to his missing partner. As she listens, Beth is drawn into the edges of a shadowy conspiracy. Homeless men she's trying to help lead Beth and Moore to an enormous, anonymous warehouse where she discovers an injured man. Oliver Raine, it emerges, has knowledge of what happened to Moore and his partner. He agrees to meet them in a bar near the hospital. Raine explains that ten years ago he was an army captain in Iraq, in command of a force escorting civilian technicians. Their mission was to stifle a field of burning oil rigs south of Kirkuk. He is the only survivor of that mission. Impossible glowing beasts the size of houses killed everyone else in his unit. Raine has dedicated his life since then to finding and fighting the monsters who murdered his men. His search has brought him to Los Angeles. Before Raine can say more, the bar erupts in flames. Raine evacuates Moore and Beth, then rushes from them into the conflagration. Standing behind the fire line across the street, Beth notices something remarkable and glistening, laying on the sidewalk in front of a burning building. She rushes across the street and retrieves what seems to be a beautiful but enormous feather, which sits on Beth's desk the next day. Her supervisor, Dr. Albert Warren, sends it to scientists he knows at UCLA. They'll be able to identify her strange find, he's certain. Hiram Vose, a UCLA paleontologist, explains to them that he cannot return it. It is, he says, from a species previously unknown to science, that has not existed since the age of dinosaurs. Vose, a short but powerful man of unusual "square" physique, in fact knows the source of the remarkable feather exactly. One of Beth's homeless patients, a tiny man named Steve, finds her at the hospital. Steve explains that his friend Carl has gone missing, after attending a service of the "Church of Below" where food was supposed to be provided. The service was held in an impromptu sanctuary, put in the warehouse where they had been living, the same place Raine was found. Beth contacts Moore, who tells them Steve's information jibes with other events on the street. Many homeless have gone missing lately, for no apparent reason. Moore asks Steve to keep him informed, and warns Beth not to attempt any investigation of her own. Disregarding Moore's warning, Beth and Steve attend the next "Church of Below" service in the huge warehouse. To her surprise, the event is led by Vose, who now wears a cleric's collar. He leads the hundreds in attendance down a flight of steps, promising food and drink. Beth follows, and is taken by what waits below. Moore and the police arrive later, but all evidence of what had gone on has vanished. Meantime, Raine wakes to find himself imprisoned in a cell carved from stone. His only visitors are mute maids and an impossible creature who names himself "Joe." Seven feet tall, beautifully feathered, saurid Joe describes himself as a descendant of the last race who ruled Earth, before their civilization was destroyed by the Chicxulub meteor and the ravages of those who arrived upon it. "When the Çaïn crashed their great rock, the impact alone scoured the globe," he tells Raine. "In their amazing, consuming hunger they devoured most remaining life force and ended our kind. They have kept a few of us alive, in places like this—because of our utility as translators and teachers. Earth belongs to the Çaïn, and has since before you evolved." Joe describes his masters as gigantic, glowing, dragon-like serpents which can reach more than a thousand feet in length at maturity, and survive to incredible age. Only twenty fully-grown Çaïn exist on earth. Thousands of adolescents yearn to reach maturity, having survived insectile "childhood" where they are prey to all those larger than themselves.
About the author
I am a retired market researcher. I've studied art in Munich, run micro-factories in Israel and Hong Kong, and put together nuclear weapons in Korea. Much of my professional career was spent in the newspaper industry, where I've also worked as a reporter and editor. I'm a disabled veteran, whose wonderful life partner coaxed him to begin serious writing before she died. I've kept my promise to her since. My intention is to write at least one book a year until God stops me. I currently live and write from my poolside cabana in Boca Raton, Florida. "Gleaners" is my fifth novel, the first book-length science fiction I have written. My previous books ("The Narrow Man," "Buddies," "OLDOGS," and "Incident at Aviano") have been thrillers, all self-published to excellent reviews. "Buddies" was awarded a Royal Palm gold award by the Florida Writers Association in 2021. "Incident at Aviano" was a semi-finalist in 2023. My previous science fiction has been limited to shorter works, some of which have been published. My short story "Tipover" ran in Analog, several years ago.