Decisions: A Vignette by Torn MacAlester

See more of Nils in:

Thun­der Moon Tussle


Another Plot: A New Vignette by Torn MacAlester

“Milt,” said Mary, tired of the con­ver­sa­tion. “You didn’t real­ly want to be an astronaut?”

“No, it was a means to an end. Noth­ing more.”

“I wish you wouldn’t antag­o­nize our broth­er. He scares me.”

“Mor­ris is a fool,” Milt said.

“A dan­ger­ous one.

“True, we can­not under­es­ti­mate him.”

“Then why all this mess­ing around with the fake iden­ti­ty and the trip to the Moon?” Mary asked.

“I took some­thing that he didn’t deserve to have.”

“The arti­facts?!”

“Yes,” Mil­ton said, nod­ding slight­ly. “They dis­ap­peared from his vault a lit­tle over two years ago.”

“Broth­er, I real­ize you want to pun­ish Mor­ris for what he did to dad.”

“Oh, he has yet to pay for that.”

“Dammit, Milt!”

“Don’t wor­ry, Mary. Mor­ris will not find the arti­facts. He might fig­ure out where they are, but for now, they are beyond his reach.”

“You mean?”

“Yes, I took them with me.”

“Did Annie Mac­In­turn­er know?” asked Mary.

“No. She nev­er sus­pect­ed that she unloaded them herself.”

“Now what?”

“Now, I see if Carmike is the kind of man, I think he is,” said Milton.

“Des­per­ate, you mean,” Mary said, nar­row­ing her eyes.


“How do you do that?”

“We’ll need some mon­ey,” said Milt.

“How much?”

“Hun­dreds of millions.”

“Okay, I got most of that myself,” Mary said.

“We’ll need to make it look like typ­i­cal investors. Noth­ing too much from any­one, so we can keep it anony­mous. Big investors attract the wrong attention.”

“What about Mark?”

“To hell with him,” Mil­ton said.

“I thought you two…”

“Noth­ing of the sort. He’s an ego­ma­ni­ac like his father. I have no use for him.”

“He’ll fig­ure this out and want in,” Mary said.

“Of course he will. We need to make sure he’s always on the out­side, look­ing in. I want his inter­est sole­ly fixed on Nils.”

See more of Milt in:

Golf and Outgassing


Thun­der Moon Tussle


Civilization and Power

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester

Commander: A Vignette by Torn MacAlester

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester

Golf and Outgassing: a short story by Torn Macalester

Golf and Outgassing: a Science Fiction Short Story

An Exercise in World Building

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester

Y+1: A Vignette by Torn MacAlester

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester


Octo­ber 2021 – Speak Up Talk Radio announced the win­ners of 2021’s third quar­ter FIREBIRD BOOK AWARDS contest. 

One of the win­ning entries was from Mon­tana author Torn MacAlester whose book titled Thun­der Moon Tus­sle won in the Sci­ence Fic­tion category.

Authors and pub­lish­ers from around the world sub­mit­ted their work to the Fire­bird Book Awards. Two judges from a select pan­el of 17 judges read each book in its entire­ty and inde­pen­dent­ly scored each entry. All judges com­mit­ted to a set of stan­dard­ized cri­te­ria that eval­u­ates the qual­i­ty of the writ­ing as well as pro­duc­tion aspects. Only entries with the high­est of scores were award­ed the cov­et­ed Firebird.

Patri­cia J. Rul­lo, founder of the Fire­bird Book Awards, says, “ we received near­ly dou­ble the amount of entries this quar­ter and we recruit­ed more qual­i­fied judges from the pub­lish­ing and writ­ing world. Our judg­ing pan­el includes a diverse group who rep­re­sent a cross sec­tion of ages, cul­tur­al her­itage, race, reli­gion, gen­der, and expe­ri­ence.  At Speak Up Talk Radio, our mis­sion is to offer authors a wel­come place to pro­mote them­selves and their books via book awards, radio inter­views, audio­book pro­duc­tion, voiceover mar­ket­ing tools, and pod­cast­ing ser­vices. We love to sup­port those who dare to share their inner­most thoughts with the world. Just one sen­tence in one book can very well make a dif­fer­ence in a reader’s life. I can’t think of any­thing bet­ter than that.”

Pat adds, “We’ve includ­ed a char­i­ta­ble com­po­nent to our awards by mak­ing all entry fees tax-deductible to the author. In return, we per­son­al­ly make and send hand­made fun and col­or­ful pil­low­cas­es to women and chil­dren in home­less shel­ters via Enchant­ed Makeovers, a 501©3 tax-exempt orga­ni­za­tion. All entry fees fund this project. In this way, authors get noto­ri­ety for their work while help­ing to trans­form home­less shel­ters into bright and hap­py homes. It is a reward­ing ven­ture for everyone.”

The Fire­bird Book Awards run quar­ter­ly con­tests so authors can receive recog­ni­tion on a time­ly basis. Authors from all gen­res, main­stream, inde­pen­dent, and self-pub­lished are wel­come. For addi­tion­al win­ning authors, titles, and entry information:

Thunder Moon Tussle by Torn MacAlester

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester

My nov­el Thun­der Moon Tus­sle is avail­able in kin­dle unlim­it­ed, kin­dle, and paper­back on


Nils Carmike, a fall­en from grace astro­naut turned smug­gler, forges a new life on the lunar fron­tier. Harassed by the strik­ing­ly beau­ti­ful and demand­ing Deputy Miller, he is faced with fines and con­flict, result­ing in a tumul­tuous rela­tion­ship and ulti­ma­tum he can’t refuse. Run­ning for their life they strug­gle against their pasts, hop­ing to out­smart the com­mon face­less ene­my and forced to focus on the only rule that mat­ters: survive!


Cov­er graph­ic by Shan­nan Albright


Check out the relat­ed sto­ries for free:

Mor­gan’s Road by Torn MacAlester


Golf and Out­gassing by Torn MacAlester

Yellowstone and Timeline of Events

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester

The key back­ground event of the sto­ry­line that includes Thun­der Moon Tus­sle is the erup­tion of the Yel­low­stone super-vol­cano.  This erup­tion forms the basis for the cal­en­dar where the year of the erup­tion is des­ig­nat­ed Y+0.

The Yel­low­stone erup­tion plays into some of the moti­va­tion or emo­tion­al state of the char­ac­ters.  It serves as a focal point event where almost every­one relates to it.  It has the same affect as the attack on Pearl Har­bor or 9/11 had on their respec­tive gen­er­a­tions.  I recall a lot of the old­er gen­er­a­tions when I was young refer­ring to the attack on Pearl Har­bor as a turn­ing point in many of their lives.  I’ve also noticed that many of my peers refer to 9/11 the same way.  It may be we are liv­ing through anoth­er such event with the Covid-19 pandemic.

In this case, you can find ref­er­ences to the Yel­low­stone super-vol­cano erup­tion through­out Thun­der Moon Tus­sle.  Nils Carmike and Deputy Miller both refer to Yel­low­stone as a piv­otal event.  In his the review of Thun­der Moon Tus­sle, Nathaniel Owolabi makes note of this.

I try to set each of my sto­ries or vignettes on this time­line, though there are some excep­tions.  The vignette Cold Con­tact is not on the time­line.  The short sto­ry Mor­gan’s Road is on the time­line to indi­cate the year in which Nils Carmike tells the sto­ry for the first time.  The time­line pre­sent­ed will con­tin­u­ous­ly update with vignettes that give a taste of the back­ground with­out pro­vid­ing spoil­ers for any one story.

Time­line of Events