Joshua Dyer has been a freelance writer for thirteen years. He has been published in the acclaimed international music magazine, Modern Drummer, has had seven articles published for the Los Angeles Times, has authored several novels and two feature-length film scripts. He has both a B.F.A. in Music Performance from West Virginia University, and a B.S. in Record Production from Middle Tennessee State University.
Dyer has been awarded the Reader's Choice Story of the Year for several of his works in the Los Angeles Times.
He lives in West Virginia with his wonderful wife and three beautiful children. He enjoys the outdoors, cooking, sports and is an avid golfer.
Dyer can be reached the fastest via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Flash in a Puddle
The arid desert breeze wove its way in among the towering steel monoliths of the downtown district, and brought rolling thunder with it. A violent burst of light in the thunderclouds briefly illuminated his black leather cowboy hat and long matching duster. The muscular stranger heaved himself off of his Harley and strode down the blind alley to meet his prey.
“You know why I’m here,” he said from behind an orange burning cigarette. His face was masked by the brim of his hat and three-day stubble.
“Y-You don’t understand,” the figure across the alley said. “This is all just a big misunderstanding.”
The assassin took a long drag off of his hand-rolled smoke, and blew a small cloud of white out into the strengthening wind.
“That’s not what the Cloud Court said,” the killer contested. “They pegged you as an embezzler. Fourteen million to be precise.”
The biker walked to within a few paces of his contract. He drew the right side of his duster back in a swift stroke revealing a pistol strapped to his outer thigh.
“I’m feeling philanthropic tonight,” the man said. “So, we’re going to do this like gentlemen.”
“But, I told you,” his target said holding up his hands, “I’m innocent. Somebody framed me.”
“I’m not the judge, or your jury,” the assassin said. A thin line of smoke snaked up around the brim of his headpiece.
The biker unstrapped the .45 on his thigh, and handed it over to the lean middle-aged gent.
“Put that on your hip,” he stated in a mellow tone. “We’re going to step off thirty paces, and do this.”
His contract did as he was instructed. His slender fingers fumbled with the worn silver clip at his belt.
“Come on,” the banker said, “I’ve got a wife and three little kids. You’ve got to reconsider.”
The cowboy was silent as he backed away from his prey. The rumble overhead radiated down into the earth beneath his boots.
“When I say draw, you go for your widow maker,” the emotionless man said.
“Don’t you have a boss, or someone that I can appeal this to?”
“You knew I was coming, and why.”
“That doesn’t make this whole judgeless law system right!”
“They’re your tax dollars, too.”
The killer’s steady hand hovered over the walnut grip of his favorite replica revolver. Rider could sense the fear in the worried man’s eyes. They were wide – begging for a recount.
Another clap of thunder was quickly followed by a deluge that soon gathered in the indentations in the battered alley.
The lanky banker didn’t have a prayer, and Rider knew it. Before Larkin could even manage to wrap his ghostly hand around the grip, the assassin had already plugged him with his sentence.
The loner strode over to his victim who now quaked upon weakening knees in the alley. A line of bright red fluid slithered down the bridge of Larkin’s nose and onto the street. Rider stood in front of his contract waiting to ensure that he was good and gone. The banking executive’s horrified face fell into a puddle with a cold plop. The distant wail of sirens told the seasoned assassin that it was time to depart.
“The path for you is decided,” he said as he reclaimed his weapon.
Another bolt of fury cracked across the Arizona skies as the stranger mounted his Bad Boy, fired it to life and rode off away from the growing sirens.
Our first exclusive interview is with the Hunter Cell’s gunslinger, Rider. Find out what makes this assassin tick. What did he do before joining the Cell? Where did he get his signature weapons? These questions and much more are available to our cleared personnel over in the Briefing Room. To gain clearance to this room, you must get the password only found in the eBook version of “Hunter Cell.”
Next time, we’ll be sitting down with the muscle behind the Hunter Cell. That’s right. We’re talking with Sledge. If you have a question or comment for him then leave it below in the comments.
The Briefing Room has been added to the site. There you will find exclusive content, interviews, bonus material and extra artwork not found elsewhere on this site, nor in the books. The password for clearance into this compartment can only be found near the end of the eBook edition of this work. In the event that you purchased a copy prior to the creation of this room, please email me at my contact listed via the about.me link in my Bio section. Give me the purchase verification information, and I will supply you with the code.
(Script excerpt taken from recovered Hunter Cell training archive. Source unknown)
(A man wearing a black fedora and tan trench coat fades in)
I’ve been asked the same question a lot over the years: what does it take to be in the Cell? Well, I’ll tell ya what it takes – a lack of empathy and a broken kill switch.
(The man takes a drag off of his cigarette)
You can call me Judge. The group of you have been recruited to train for a spot in our reserves. Only the top three of you recruits will make into our reserve program. For the rest of you, if you’re still alive, you’ll be debriefed and sent packing. Nothing personal.
(JUDGE strides over in front of an image of an open meadow.)
You will be loaded onto a bus and shipped here to The Meadows for your eight-week basic training course. This will tell us which of you has the fundamental skills needed to survive in this racket. From there, you will go on to eight more weeks of specialized instruction. You will then have to prove your mettle in The Crucible – a hands-on final exam. For those recruits that survive, you will have to sign a 16-year reserves contract. Should you go active in the Cell, your contract will reboot, and you’ll be required to serve ten years on active duty. Should you never get called up from the reserves, you’ll be debriefed and free to go after 16 years.
(Judge walks over next to an older man with white hair in a high-and-tight)
I’ll now turn you over to my friend and mentor, Phobos. He will serve as your instructor for the duration of your stay here in basic.
Hello, and welcome to the basic training phase of your journey. It’s my job to take you pissants and turn you into killing machines. The first lesson you’ve all got to learn is that there’s no room for fear out there. I am fear! If you feel like shitting in your slacks then you’d better do it now. If you so much as give your target an inch, you’ll be worm chow.
(Phobos paces across the stage with his hands clasped behind his back.)
A little bit about me… Once upon a time, I was a General and led hundreds of brave Marines to their deaths. I may have led them to their graves, but I ALWAYS led them to victory!
(The shaking man gathers his emotions.)
That was a long time ago, though. These days, I have the fun task of building assassins. There aren’t very many of you out there in our reserves. So, not many of you standing here will become agents. Alright, enough with storytime, maggots! Grab your crap and make for the bus parked outside. You belong to me now.
I've held out on making my presence known here for my own reasons. Since you've been here a little while, I suppose that I can trust you somewhat. I tend to place information on this site that reflects who the media and law enforcement agencies think we are. It's entertaining to me. They only get little morsels of what it is that we do for you the American Public.
(IGL Archives, 2030)
In 2026 the government ran out of funding for NASA and our national space program. In the years that followed, a new breed of exploration and entertainment was born. Sports team owners, former athletic stars and scientific companies pooled their money and resources together around the fastest growing program in the world — the International Galactic League! The space race is back. Now teams from cities all over the world vie for sponsorship endorsements to fund their competitive teams. They all want the same thing; the crown jewel of the IGL — the Galaxy Cup.
The rules of play are simple. Each team must field a fleet of twelve vessels and crews. These ships will then earn points over the course of a one-week match, and the team with the highest score wins. Teams can earn points for the following:
24 hour terrestrial orbit – 2pts.
Lunar landing – 5 pts.
Lunar orbit (24 hrs) – 3 pts.
Orbital Grand Prix (race around Moon and back): first place – 7pts., second place – 5 pts., third place – 3 pts.
New scientific discovery – 30 pts.
Scientific experiments – 2 pts. each.
Orbital luxury cruise – 1 pt. per passenger.
Lunar vacation stay (1 week minimum stay required to qualify) - 1 pt. per traveler.
High orbit shootout: Teams shoot lasers at hologram targets in rounds. First place – 10 pts, second place – 7 pts, third place – 5 pts.
Laser tag challenge: Teams field 20 players in a capture-the flag game. Two rounds of play. Each team has a turn attacking the lunar base and defending it. Scoring: 1 pt for each player ‘killed’, 5 pts for taking the flag.
The teams may elect to field a squad for every event listed in the match, or only compete in certain events. Each match pits at least three teams against one another, but no more than five. At the end of a match, the points are tallied for each team. The points are entered into their league bank and reflected in weekly standings. At the end of the 26-week regular season(March 1 – Sept. 30), the top eight teams will move on to the playoffs. The playoff rounds consist of four teams each, and all teams must compete in every event. The failure to do so will result in disqualification. The top two teams from that bracket then move on to the semifinals. The final four teams compete as above, and the top two move on to the championship match. The championship match goes for two full weeks. At the end of that, the victor gains the spoils.
You have the ability to affect the outcome of your favorite team’s matches. Sign up for a team event, or travel as a tourist. Either way, get out there and compete for the Cup! The teams are listed below, and matches start this with Dallas, Pittsburgh, St. Petersburg and Quebec all in play. Check back every couple of days for the scoring updates on weekly league matches and highlights!
St. Petersburg Dynamo (Russia)
London Rockets (England)
Madrid Meteors (Spain)
Quebec Cosmos (Canada)
Cleveland Pulsars (USA)
Beijing Golden Dragons (China)
Seattle Galaxy (USA)
San Fransisco Supernova (USA)
Los Angeles Quasars (USA)
Colorado Comets (USA)
Arizona Apocalypse (USA)
Dallas Astros (USA)
Pittsburgh Sparks (USA)
Florida Gamma Rays (USA)
New England Commodores (USA)
Mexico City Stars (Mexico)
Paris Giants (France)
Tokyo Cold Fusion (Japan)
All teams, logos, and accounts of matches are the sole property of the IGL. This material may not be reprinted, or distributed without written consent from the International Galactic League.
(Taken from an interview from a local station April 2041)
We were fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to interview Sam Jensen. At 84, Jensen is the last inmate of his kind left alive. He represents the last of the former generation of inmate sentenced to life in prison without parole. In 1987 at the age of 30, Jensen was found guilty of first degree murder, and his sentence was passed. Since then, he has remained incarcerated at the Graterford Maximum Security Prison in Pennsylvania. What follows is our exclusive uncensored interview with Jensen.
Smith: Good morning, Mr. Jensen.
Jensen: What the hell’s so good about it? Can I get a smoke? Not one of those sissyfied hydros either.
S: I’ll see what I can do. Why don’t you tell me what you’re doing time in here for, Mr. Jensen.
J: You work in the media! What the hell you think I’m in here for?
S: The court record says Murder in the First. What’s your side?
J: My side? (huffs. Guard lights his cigarette) My side? Yeah, I killed the bastard. That’s my side.
S: What happened, though?
J: The son of a bitch raped my daughter. What would you do? (takes a drag) I was a father. I did what I felt I had to do.
S: Twenty-seven times in the face and chest. Seems like overkill to most people.
J: Most people have their heads buried in their own asses. He deserved every bite from that blade.
S: How do you know he was the one responsible? He never had his day in court.
J: My daughter said he was the one, and I believed her! She wouldn’t ever make something like that up. Christ sakes, man.
S: Did you catch any flak once you were on the inside of this place?
J: Of course (lifts shirt) I got this scar from a guy that tried to jab me on the ball courts. Hurt like hell, but I survived. I survived a lot of crap for that matter.
S: Such as?
J: Stabbings, attempted sexual assault, strangulation… you name it.
S: I see. Mr. Jensen, public record shows you as the last of your kind.
J: What do you mean?
S: You’re the last inmate in for murder that hasn’t been executed, or assassinated under the new laws.
J: Oh, that. Yeah, I guess so.
S: What do you make of this assassination sentence?
J: I think it’s a bunch of shit (takes another drag). Computers making a bunch of decisions (exhales) no day in court and no trial…. That’s (explicative) up, man.
S: Then you believe that the Cell exists?
J: Yeah, no… maybe. Hell, I don’t know. Either way, I think they ought to have built more pens, not just started going around killing everybody.
S: Are you referring to Hell’s Forge?
J: That underground pen? Yeah. I mean, we went through a depression, another war… Shit! People got desperate! They should have built the Forge.
S: Do you think that you should be killed by one of these assassins for what you did?
J: I’d take that over the needle any day! At least then, I’d stand a chance of surviving if I kill him instead, right?
S: True. Do you think convicted felons under this new system commit the crime again once they’re sentenced and hunted?
J: Hell, I wouldn’t! I’d be too busy trying to outrun and outsmart them and stay alive. A smart system, if you ask me.
S: Do you regret what you did?
J: Hell, no! (scoffs) I’d do it again if the same thing happened. I only regret being stuck in here and not getting to see my kids grow up, you know?
S: I suppose so.
The rest of our exclusive interview can be seen on tonight’s evening news at six PM right here on this station.
(Taken from conspiracy magazine, Hidden Switch April 2041)
A piece of unusual information has just been unearthed here at the Switch. After doing a little digging and rooting around on the government’s own assassin’s den, we managed to uncover a little-known project. The project was partially funded by the US Government, and mostly funded by private venture capitalists. It’s name was Hell’s Forge. It was originally proposed in 2029 as an initiative aimed at solving the prison overpopulation problem.
The concept, on paper, was a simple one. Several investors would pull together their resources, and construct a 17-story underground penitentiary. From what we were able to uncover in print and media coverage, the blowback on the project came when the government couldn’t come to terms with where to put it, how to run it and all of the safety issues that would arise out of such an endeavor.
In the end, the government had to do something about its growing criminal population issue. So, they turned to the formation of the Hunter Cell — or so we believe. The trouble has been that we can find no public record of their existence. No Executive Order, no letters of incorporation… nothing. More troubling is that this prison project wasn’t really brought into the public eye back then either. Some of the local media outlets caught wind of what was going on when they started roping off the work site. Beyond that, no one really ever knew that this was even being considered as an option.
The big questions still remain: Who were the private investors involved in Project Hell’s Forge? Why weren’t we as a public told about it? Do any of these investors have knowledge of the Cell’s existence?
(Taken from Cloud Modulation band radio program ‘American Insider’. Originally aired April 7, 2041)
Welcome back folks. Well — wow! Do we have a program for you today. As you loyal listeners know, we here at the Insider work tirelessly around the clock to bring you the information and news that the rest of the country, and world for that matter, won’t tell you.
Today, my dear friends, we have more than just speculations to the existence of a rogue government agency. We have some bona fide proof. This is the third such case that has popped up in the last eighteen months. An eyewitness to the events sent in a written statement attesting to what they had seen. The message describes a woman in a black leather jacket that was seen in or around the writer’s residence for several weeks prior to her son’s murder. The writer wouldn’t or couldn’t divulge just what her son did, or where he worked. She did, however, go on to describe how this mysterious woman in black followed her son to work, to school at a local college and even to personal outings.
We here at American Insider have seen reports over the past several years that also described a similar female at or leaving the scene of assassin-style murders. Could she be a mark for death? Is this woman in black an omen? Be on a guarded watch, friends. If this agency does exist she could be its Grim Reaper.