Pandora by Marguerite Labbe
Release Date: April 25, 2017
Available for Purchase at
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Marguerite Labbe here today talking about her latest release, Pandora.
This Scardy Cat Luddite Wrote a Creepy Sci-Fi
by Marguerite Labbe
I am a fan of mixing up genres when I write. I’ll do a little paranormal and mystery with my romance. Spin together myth with contemporary. Since I read all genres, I love writing most of them too. And though I’ve added a touch of horror to some of my other stories, until Pandora I have never written Science Fiction. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Science Fiction. My first love was fantasy, but my Dad’s Frank Herbert books fascinated me and I think I first read Dune in the sixth grade. I’m a huge fan of science fiction shows, probably more a fan of them than I am of the shows based off comic books. (Shhh, please don’t tell my husband.) But writing Science Fiction myself seemed way out of my league.
I just bought my first smart phone last year after much pressure from my husband who was dismayed that I still had a flip phone. He called me a Luddite. The flip phone did everything I needed it to which was have something on me in case of an emergency and to call for a ride home from my commuter bus. A smart phone was too smart for me. I couldn’t find anything I needed at first. I used to love video games, back when it was on the classic NES system. But then more buttons were added to controllers and my brain shut down. I love watching my son and husband play because I enjoy the stories and graphics, but when I try it’s pretty much punching random buttons and hoping for the best.
As for the horror part, though depending on your level of comfort Pandora may be more creepy than horror, horror movies have terrorized me since I was a kid. Yet I was drawn to them. It was a love/hate relationship. I wanted to know what happened, I wanted to watch, but I wouldn’t sleep without a light on for months. To this day, I have to be careful with what I watch. When I saw Grudge, I was a grown assed woman hiding under the covers, trying not to wake up my husband to keep me company. My son loves horror. He accidentally saw Alien when he was three. I walked into the living room, it was on and my son thought the monster was the coolest thing he’d ever seen. I hid from that movie during my childhood, though I love it now. My son likes to put on Paranormal Activity while I’m writing. He knows that stuff freaks me out. And he’ll wait until I’m distracted and freaky part is about to come on and go “Mom, look!” Just to watch me jump.
So when I came up with the first scene idea, of Riff waking up trapped alone in the prison I knew I would probably scare myself a couple times. (I did, though I’m not saying which scenes.) But I hadn’t thought of mixing in Science Fiction until a few friends asked me to join a dark sci-fi anthology. My first thought was no way. I’ll read all the stories, but I couldn’t possibly write one myself. Then one of my muses poked me and said, “Hey… don’t you think that story you never finished would work so much better on a space prison ship? You don’t plan on leaving me trapped forever in that story do you? Withering away, dying for lack of attention?”
One thing I’ve learned since my muses adopted me, They Always Win. Always. I have one, the one poking me above who will just give me the big, brown, sad eyes or dramatic quips like that. I think the sad eyes are the worst. The other one gets a gleeful look and goes, “really, watch this.” And then I know I’m in trouble because he will keep throwing crazy things at my brain, keeping me hopping and turning me around until I’m doing exactly what he wants. And he doesn’t shut up.
So if you write, and you have muses like mine, let them win. They know more than I do and they’re always right about the direction a story should go. In case of Pandora, Science Fiction, Horror, with a little bit of romance. I hope you enjoy.
Sanity returned in dribbles of half-lucid thoughts. Those brief flickers of consciousness brought the scent of dried blood and bloating flesh rotting in the stale air. They awoke the pain that stabbed through Riff’s body. The temptation to sink back into madness, to let the sounds of distant drums, wild music, and piercing screams take over, to become part of the chaos again and its dancing obscene figures, won more times than Riff could count.
But the sanity always returned, and finally, with a start, Riff came to full clarity in a silent cell. The memory of hazel eyes hard with irritation first in his thoughts. It was never quiet in the penal wing, not even in the middle of the night. Snores came from the cell beside him, grunts and distressed whimpers from farther down the corridor, the continuous hum of the ship’s engines. Never a silence this pregnant with foreboding.
Riff smelled the carnage around him, and it made him reluctant to open his eyes. He didn’t want to see it as well. Seeing it would make it real, and fear was a living creature inside him, screaming to get out. Sharp pains stabbed his wrists, and his body ached with numerous bruises.
He had vague memories of a strange man with short near-white hair and bottomless eyes. They’d found him in a hiber unit on the derelict. The only sign of life on the entire yacht. Riff’s salvage team had rescued him and taken him aboard. Noyes. Yes, that was the name.
The memories afterward were even hazier. A confrontation with Vidal. Another with Jakobsen. Rioting. Quick flashes of violence and lust, of hurting and being hurt, taking and being taken, all mixed in with that insane music. Even now he could hear the drums in the rapid beating of his heart, hear the reedy instruments in the whistle of his breath through a broken nose.
What happened to them, to the ship… or was he just hallucinating and Vidal had gone too far with his sadistic pleasures? He’d been ready to kill the last time Riff had seen him.
Riff forced himself to draw a deep breath despite the stench. This wasn’t him. He didn’t let fear rule him. He had to assess the situation, calculate how bad it was, then make a plan. Otherwise he’d be trapped here, a broken, terrified mess, and he’d deserve whatever punishment came his way.
Haunted by the screams of the men he murdered, ex-Marine medic Riff Khora is serving a life sentence on board a prison ship. Seeking more punishment for his crime, he strikes a deal with the corrupt Captain Vidal—an exchange of pleasure and pain—and forges a new life leading the team that surveys space wreckage for salvage.
Ship engineer Zed Jakobsen’s psychometric abilities make prison a sentence worse than death, and the barrage of emotional stimuli is an unending torment. His only regret is that he didn’t kill the monster who sent him to prison, and only a glimmer of hope to escape a judgment he doesn’t deserve keeps him clinging to a brutal existence.
When they board derelict ship Pandora and discover a lone survivor, the hell of prison life plunges into abject horror. An epidemic of violence and insanity consumes their ship, driving the crew to murder and destruction. Mutual need draws Riff and Zed together, and their bond gives them the strength to fight a reality they cannot trust. But Vidal possesses the only means of escape from the nightmare, and he’s not letting anyone leave alive.
About the Author
Marguerite has been accused of being eccentric and a shade neurotic, both of which she freely admits to, but her muse has OCD tendencies, so who can blame her? She loves writing stories about the beauty of love with all of its fascinating quirks and the strength of family, whether it’s the family you’re born into or the one you create. Marguerite was born in New Hampshire, grew up as a military brat, moving from one end of the U.S. to the other before settling down in Southern Maryland. She married her next-door neighbor and best friend, and they have one son and two cats who rule them. To her dismay, she has failed to convince her Alabama born husband to move north, where being a passionate Red Sox fan is perfectly normal. She runs Apocrypha Comics Studio with her husband and they often trek off to comic book conventions on the weekend where they celebrate all manner of geek culture. In her spare time she loves reading novels of all genres, enjoying a table top role-playing games with her friends, many which end up on the Role With Us podcast, and finding really good restaurants where she can indulge in her love of food and wine.
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