News from the Cloak, Sept '17

Hello all and welcome to the September 2017 Edition of our newsletter. We hope that you will enjoy what we have to offer this month and share with your friends.

New Author Joins Our Team

Tom Howard will be contributing this month's flash fiction piece. No, Andrew Sweetapple and his "Nights on the Edge" are not going away, just taking a break this month. Tom Howard is a short story writer of science fiction and fantasy, living in Little Rock, Arkansas. His story, "Bobo" is his first contribution to our newsletter, but I hope we will see more from him in the future. You can follow Tom on Amazon at his author page, found HERE .

Before we get to his story, lets get our winner for our Amazon gift card out of the way. This month's winner of the $5.00 Amazon gift card is, Beverly Nault. Beverly, if you don't see the email from Amazon sometime today, please email to let us know.

Don't forget that our first anthology, Fall Into Fantasy 2017, is available for preorder. If you would like to get the ebook version delivered to your device on September 21st, just click on our Amazon Link . If you would like to get your hands on a print copy (and at a discount off of Amazon's price) you just need to check out the PREORDERS page on our website. Everyone who preorders a copy will be entered into a drawing for a signed copy of Molly Neely 's book, The Sand Dweller .

One last thing before we get to the story of the month. If you like what you read and would like to support our efforts here at Cloaked Press to bring you great stories, you can join us on Patreon . For the cost of a cheap latte, you can help us pay our authors more, as well as get unique prizes for yourself, such as: increased entries into our monthly giveaway, advance copies of our books, and special giveaways from our authors.

by Tom Howard
     Bobo, my invisible friend, has always been visible to me.  The inflated piece of bubblegum has been waddling beside me and giving me constant advice since my earliest recollection.  I couldn’t imagine life without the little guy, although I’d have enjoyed some solitude of my own occasionally.

     As a small child, I assumed everyone had a Bobo.  My parents initially thought it was cute that their child had an invisible companion.  Since I had no brothers or sisters, they assumed it was normal for me to have someone to play with.  When I was in elementary school, they grew concerned when he was my only friend.  They consulted my teachers and sent me to a therapist.

     Everyone said I was bright for my age – likely due to Bobo reading me science books for bedtime stories – and using my invisible friend instead of developing normal friends and activities.

     The therapist recommended I play a team sport.

     “This is pointless,” Bobo complained bitterly while I was warming a baseball bench in junior high.  “You could be using your time more constructively in the library.”

     Shortly afterwards, I developed migraines and had to stop playing ball.  Oddly enough, my headaches didn’t occur when I studied, only when I tried to do something Bobo considered “wasted time.” 

     I learned early not to talk to Bobo in front of others.  When I asked Melody Taylor in third grade if she had a Bobo, she told the teacher I was talking dirty.  With the instinct for self-preservation a child learns, I pretended Bobo wasn’t there when I wasn’t alone.  Aside from my parents’ concern that I talked to myself a lot when I was in my room, I felt I was an average teenager.  They assumed I was going through a phase.  I’d grow out of it.

     I didn’t.

     Bobo was as real as anyone to me.  He was short and pink and bossy with little black eyes and a body that shifted and sprouted arms and legs as he needed them.  He occasionally twisted himself into comical forms trying to explain rhombuses and other geometric shapes to me.  If I had a lot of difficulty with an advanced concept, he’d insert a tendril into my brain and explain it to me visually.  It always left me with a funny, tingling feeling, and I pretended not understanding occasionally just for a Bobo buzz.

     I graduated from high school with good grades and a scholarship to a sci-tech university.  When I left home, Bobo accompanied me.  Never more than six feet away, he watched with disinterest as I lost my virginity, scolded me when I did badly on an exam, and distracted me with questions on gravity and cosmic phenomenon when I would rather have been out at a kegger.  I became a fan of his telepathic tutoring; it was cheaper than doing drugs.

     Did I love him?  I guess so.  It’s like asking me if I love my right arm.  I’d never been without it.  Of course, my arm doesn’t listen to my troubles, explain why liberal arts are a waste of brainpower, or make me smarter.

     Did he love me?  Again, I have to use the arm analogy.  My arm, like Bobo, would not understand why I cried at my grandfather’s funeral, how I could use alcohol to destroy valuable brain cells, or why I needed friends and lovers. 

     He was responsible for my good grades in college.  Algebra and Calculus were simple.   Bobo had been teaching them to me since third grade.  He continued as my tutor, showing me new ways to approach mathematics – often to the surprise of my teachers when I produced the right answer.

     Looking back, I can pinpoint when Bobo decided to leave.  He’d probably been seeking a way out since he’d arrived, but I wasn’t aware of his plans until one day in my dorm room.  He was reading some news articles online when he suddenly became agitated.  He turned a bright gold color, a color I knew meant he was excited.

     “What is it, Bobo?” I asked from the bed.  I’d been studying the list Bobo had supplied me for my grad school choices.  Noting his color, I left the bed to look at the screen.  When he sat at my terminal, he tended to spread out so he could reach all the keys at the same time.  He was reading an article about a proposed asteroid detection and deflection system sponsored by NASA.
     “You want me to become an asteroid miner?” I asked as I read the article.

     “Possibly,” Bobo said in his squeaky-helium balloon voice.  “I’m more interested in this ‘kick the can’ approach they’re discussing for passing asteroids.  They use an unmanned ship to smash into the asteroid while another records the effects of the impact.  They can determine its composition.  If it’s too expensive to mine, they let it leave the solar system without altering its path to Earth orbit.”

     I read more of the article.  “According to this, the program is twenty years away.”

     “Unacceptable,” said Bobo, slowly fading back to his usual pink color and pulling himself together.  “You must make it happen sooner.”

     “Why?” I asked, throwing myself on the bed, aware of a slight throbbing at the back of my head.  I hoped I wasn’t getting a migraine.  I hadn’t had one in years.  “Why do you care about asteroids anyway?  I want to go into something more profitable.  Accounting or law.”

     Bobo looked at me with his beady little eyes.  “I want to go home.  I have to be on the ship studying the asteroid.” 
My head was killing me.  Apparently, I was going to work for NASA.