Godspeed, Carry My Bullet
Ian Lewis prefers not to be bound by a particular genre. Though the inspiration for his work varies, it often finds roots in something he dreamt. He strives for a gritty realism and maintains an interest in the humanity of his characters. His hope is that readers find themselves haunted by his stories in the sense that the narrative sticks with them long after they’ve finished reading, leaving them with a subtle restlessness for more. Mr. Lewis is the author of “The Camaro Murders” and “Lady in Flames,” novellas which are part of a loose, ongoing series featuring an otherworldly character known as the Driver. His first foray into Science Fiction was “Power in the Hands of One.” This novella was conceived as an homage to giant robot cartoons such as Voltron and The Big O. Mr. Lewis has since done some ghost-writing in the Science Fiction genre as well. His first full-length thriller, “Godspeed, Carry My Bullet,” was released in April of 2016. It’s the first of a two-part series that explores an alternate U.S. history post-financial collapse. He has been writing since 2002 and is an active member of the West Side Writers, which is a Cleveland-based fiction group.
Blurb: Bobby Clyne has nothing to lose. Two illegitimate governments have taken the place of the fallen United States: The Directorate in the East and the United States Valiant in the West. And he’s just learned that a man who once terrorized his family as a low-ranking member of the Military Police is set to become the Grand Marshall of the Ohio Region. Armed with his father’s Dragunov sniper rifle, Bobby embarks on a mission of revenge with consequences far more reaching than his personal vendetta.
“Godspeed, Carry My Bullet” has the fast-paced elements of a great thriller; it also retains nuances of the Dystopian genre. There is an alternate history aspect to this story, albeit recent history. The economic recession of 2008 precipitates a nation-wide financial collapse. Riots and chaos ultimately lead to the demise of the U.S. government. Two fledgling governments rise from the ashes, one in the East and one in the West, with a DMZ between them. Fast forward five years, and the viewpoint characters arrive on scene, which is where the story begins.
The story arc follows a nomadic survivalist, a preacher turned vigilante, a novice undercover operative, a struggling single mother, and an angst-filled, would-be assassin. Their individual conflicts fuel a page-turning adventure where storylines converge and weave together in unexpected ways. The progression of the narrative leaves the reader wanting more from one chapter to the next. Family is a large theme throughout the book, as is the concept of justice.
The story also stands as a commentary on the failure of partisan politics, specifically the two-party system of the United States government. The two governments in the novel, though not meant to specifically represent the attributes of the Republican and Democratic parties, stand as fixtures of a divisive system that pits citizens against each other rather than attempting to unite them. The Directorate is militaristic, iron-fisted, and near totalitarian. The United States Valiant is obsessed with affluence and prosperity and seeks to mold the populace through social engineering. Each pits itself against the other in an effort to maintain control over its citizens. Readers will find the world in which these governments exist to resemble their own in some cases, whereas in other respects, the world has become a confused, terrifying place.
August 20th, 2013
Listening to the yelps of rioters echo off of battered storefronts, Bobby Clyne stood motionless in the dank summer heat. His stale, one-room apartment overlooked the melee below, and he peered through the yellowed window sheers with an acrid taste in his mouth.
Bottles and other debris flew as instigators grabbed whatever makeshift weapons they could find in the gutters and garbage cans. Grimy, sweat-soaked skin met in rushed collisions as men elbowed past one another. There was no regard for decency or dignity as limbs flailed in greedy anticipation of what they might find.
The temptation was due to a stalled government supply truck that carried non-perishable food items. With a wheezing stutter from the motor, the rig had coasted to a stop, vulnerable in the left lane of Euclid Ave.
Traffic wasn’t the problem so much as the hungry riffraff trolling the streets in the mid-afternoon stink. When it was clear the boxy, tired truck wasn’t going anywhere, they made good on their desire to fill their stomachs and show their contempt for state discipline.
With his eyes narrowed on the street below, Bobby sat down on a metal folding chair next to the window. He wiped wet palms on his gray cargo pants. An olive-drab t-shirt clung to his back, and his brow shined slick with sweat beneath a tuft of chestnut hair. His face was unremarkable save for a pronounced lower lip.
Bobby hated the Directorate—the government of the East—but didn’t see fit to take part in such a public and stupid display of disrespect. Despite his deep-seated animosity, the sting of old wounds reminded him that he was helpless to do anything about his circumstance. He’d already watched his father try and fail.
Still, he fantasized about rising up against the Military Police. Their constant presence soured him. With round-the-clock patrols and a general disrespect for civilians, they were a gratuitous display of the Directorate’s power, and Bobby swore he’d never enlist with them even though he was a decent shot with a rifle.
Bobby nudged the firearm at his feet that leaned against the water-stained wall. It was a Dragunov, an old Russian sniper rifle that his father had given him before he died.
He leaned over and ran his fingers across the wooden thumbhole stock. He preferred it to the black synthetic furniture used on the newer models. Engraved into the stock was the PSO-1 telescoping sight’s serial number, which meant the 4×24 was factory-matched to the rifle itself.
The ten-round, double-stacked magazine protruded from the bottom of the receiver, waiting to feed it with steel-jacketed rounds that could punch holes in cinderblock walls. In deft hands, a shot fired might reach distances nearing a mile.
The rifle was all Bobby had left of his father; it was really the only sentimental thing in the entire apartment. Should the riot escalate to his building, he wasn’t going to leave the rifle behind or the match-grade ammo stashed behind the closet wall.