Don't touch that dial, you've found Lisa Burton Radio. Coming at you with 1.21 jigawatts of power, this is the only show that interviews the characters from the books you love. I'm your host, Lisa the robot girl, and with me today is Mike Teter. Mike is an astronomer with the Carson Peak Observatory in New Mexico. “Welcome to the show, Mike.”
“Hi Lisa, it's great to be here. Thanks for having me on the show.”
“My bio says you've recently returned to the observatory after a two year hiatus. What happened, grass wasn't greener?”
“Actually, leaving the observatory was the hardest thing I'd ever done. You see, a terrible blizzard blew in my last night there and the two of us working that night decided to leave the site. Ron Wallerstein drove ahead of me. He was going a little too fast when he reached a bridge spanning a gorge that had iced up… Sorry, this is difficult, I don't talk about it much… He went off the road and died instantly. I tried to get help, but couldn't get cell phone service. He died clutching the data he'd taken that night. I took a week off, but I've never been able to get the image out of my mind. I just couldn't bear going back.”
“So you had a breakdown?”
“Erm, I hadn't really thought about it like that, but I guess so. I needed to get my feet back under me, so to speak. I opened a little computer repair business. Anyway, Jerome Torres, the site manager called me a couple of weeks ago and persuaded me to come back. He had a staffing shortfall and said he needed me back.”
“I just searched newspaper articles from your time period and found a report that Roscoe Perkins was involved in a big fight at the Sacred Portals Casino and was dismissed from the observatory the next day.”
“Yeah, I didn't want to say his name because of confidentiality, but yeah, that's why they asked me back.”
“How did you decide to return to the site of your breakdown?”
“Oh boy, that was tough, but my wife, Bethany, is expecting our first child. She's an astronomer at New Mexico State University and wants to take some extra leave. We really needed a better income than the computer business provided.”
“She's an astronomer too? Any chance to spend a working evening together up there? It could be kind of romantic.”
“You've gotta be kidding me!”
“Really? That's harsh.”
“Look, I know I sound like a terrible husband, but it's at altitude and it's a primitive site. There aren't any creature comforts and I want the best for my wife.”
“I hate to be rude, but it sounds like you're making excuses, Mike. There've been rumors that you saw something up there right before Ron Wallerstein died. I've read stories that the site is haunted by the ghost of the observatory's first director, Robert Burroughs.”
“Lisa, I don't know what you've heard, but I can tell you it wasn't the ghost of Professor Burroughs. I've heard those stories, too. I don't even know if what I saw was real. I'd like to think I was just sleep deprived, but what I saw was the stuff of nightmares. I was just minding my own business, getting the telescope shut down for the day when I saw this thing that looked almost like those velociraptors from Jurassic Park, except it had a flat face, like an owl, and it was covered in grizzly feathers. Man, it gives me the chills just thinking about it. It ran at me and then… it just vanished. I was still shaking when I got in my car. It was right after that Wallerstein ran off the road.”
“Creepy! And you want to go up there and spend your nights peeping at the stars and not watching your back? I hope they're paying you well.”
“Well, like I say, I was probably just sleep–“
“Hold that thought, we have a caller. Hello, caller, welcome to Lisa Burton Radio with Lisa and Mike. What's on your mind?”
“My name is, … Ronald Parsons. I'm a … friend of Mr. Perkins and I'm here to tell you the observatory management made a big mistake. I was … I mean Roscoe was the best technician that observatory ever saw.”
“Look, I have nothing against Roscoe. From everything I heard, he was good at his job. He just made a mistake, that's all.”
“Mistake, hell. The only person who made a mistake was Jerome Torres, the observatory manager. So what if Roscoe threw a few dollars at the roulette wheel or cards. So what if he unwound with a drink or two.”
“Wait a minute. Your voice is familiar. Roscoe, is that you?”
“All right, you got me. This is Roscoe. Man, you jerks will be sorry when I'm in the Bahamas soaking up rays with a woman on each arm, while you're still up there freezing your butts off at that observatory.”
“Roscoe, this is Lisa. If you've lost your job, how are you going to get to the Bahamas?”
“Er, um, let's just say Roscoe has a new gig and we'll leave it at that. Bye bye for now, suckers!”
“Sorry about that, Lisa. Where were we again?”
“I don't remember either, but it sounds like Roscoe has an axe to grind. What can you tell us about that?”
“All I can tell you is that Sacred Portals is an Apache casino and Jerome, my boss, is also Apache. From what I hear, the tribe took Roscoe's car and put a lien on his house because of all the money he lost at the casino. Oh God, I hope he hasn't fallen in with pot hunters.”
“People who look for Native American artifacts and sell them on the black market. Carson Peak has a handful of sacred caves. The tribe believes they're the portals humans used to enter this world. There are stories of monsters hidden behind some of those portals.”
“Like the one you thought you saw?”
“Now that you mention it…”
“I sure hope he doesn't take something that opens one of those portals.”
“You're right about that. The portals are all just old stories and superstition, but Roscoe's in bad enough trouble with the tribe. If he goes into those caves, he could be in jail for a very long time.”
“Thank you for being with us today, Mike. You be careful up there… all alone… in the dark.”
“Thanks, Lisa. You know, I never had any problems working in remote locations until that one night. It just took me a couple of years to realize that Wallerstein's death wasn't my fault and that… creature… was just a figment of my imagination. Let me tell you, none of it holds a candle to the amazing stuff I see at the telescope. I've taken images of colliding galaxies, exploding stars, and there's even a nebula out there that looks just like a phoenix. On that note, it's time for me to catch up on some sleep so I can rise from the ashes and get back to work.”
“Mike's story unfolds in the pages of The Astronomer's Crypt, available right now. I'll put all the deets on the website.
“Make sure to hit those sharing buttons before you run to Amazon to check out the book. Mike will appreciate it, and I'm sure David Lee Summers, his author, would appreciate it too.”
The Astronmer's Crypt:
If you scare easily, don’t read this book.
If you dare to read it, you’ve been warned.
Two years ago on a stormy night, in the dead of winter, Mike Teter experienced something that would change his life forever. Mike was a telescope operator at the world renowned Carson Peak Observatory in New Mexico. We won’t tell you what he saw that night on the mountain nor what happened afterward on a dark stretch of highway, because it would haunt you just as it has haunted Mike. But what we will tell you is that Mike is back at Carson Peak. And what he witnessed that night two years ago is about to become a reality…
David Lee Summers is the author of ten novels along with numerous short stories and poems. His writing spans a wide range of the imaginative from science fiction to fantasy to horror. David’s Old Star/New Earth science fiction series and his Scarlet Order Vampire series are both published by Lachesis Publishing. He's also the author of the Clockwork Legion Steampunk series from Sky Warrior Publishing.
His short stories and poems have appeared in such magazines as Realms of Fantasy and Cemetery Dance. He’s been twice nominated for the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s Rhysling Award. In addition to writing, David edited the quarterly science fiction and fantasy magazine Tales of the Talisman for ten years and has edited four science fiction anthologies: A Kepler’s Dozen, Space Pirates, Space Horrors and Maximum Velocity: The Best of the Full-Throttle Space Tales.
When not working with the written word, David operates telescopes at Kitt Peak National Observatory.