Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are paying big dollars to those with the skills.

Former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos launching himself into space aboard a self-funded rocket generated an enormous number of headlines. Having spent billions of dollars to get to that point, Bezos made it clear he’s willing to spend billions more through his space company, Blue Origin, to launch more rockets.

Meanwhile, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has made a sizable business out of launching rockets loaded with satellites and astronauts into space. Musk has publicly stated his intention to eventually land humans on Mars.

The competition between Musk and Bezos (and, to a lesser extent, Richard Branson, who’s planning on launching tourists…

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Consider your goals *very* carefully.

Every writer has a trunk novel (or two, or three, or four…) shoved in a file somewhere. For those unfamiliar with the term, a “trunk novel” is a manuscript that’s finished, and potentially very polished — but has never found a publisher, for whatever reason.

I have two trunk novels, written in my twenties. One of them, “Q.,” was loved by a few book editors and agents but never managed to land at a particular publishing house. Over the years, a few chapters appeared (in lightly re-edited form) as short stories in various magazines and anthologies; one even won a…

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Chop my arms off.

I’m still me.

Chop off my legs, burn my face.

I’m still me.

Take a piece of metal and scramble my brains.

Am I still me?

Of course I have no idea how to escape from this place; how to make my way back to the main road, or to the highway, or even home. Sooner or later the five dead men will be missed, their last route traced back — but that could be hours, maybe even days, away. I have time, whole minutes of which I burn sitting on top of the train trestle…

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Twenty minutes later we turn off onto a dirt road, our headlights illuminating a crooked wooden gate with a new sign wired to the crossbar: TRESSPASSERS WILL BE USED FOR SCIENTIFIC EXPERIMENTS.

Owen parks the vehicle and climbs out to open the gate, and I find myself reaching across to grip the wheel, tightly. It would be so easy to slide across the seats, to set the car rolling, to pin my former partner to the wood like a bug. But none of this is really his fault, is it? I pulled the trigger. I helped bring Q into the…

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Owen sits at the table with his head down, fingers twined in his greasy hair, surrounded by plates heavy with grease and scraps. We enter but do not take a seat, and after a second he raises his head to reveal red-rimmed eyes. His skin pocked and red, sallow under the fluorescents. He asks, “What happened?”

Sloan chuckles as he shrugs off his jacket and drapes it over the back of his chair. “Our former employee wasn’t quite dead yet.”

Owen’s eyes meet mine, and with an acid flare in my gut I realize that this is it, five words…

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By the time I feel my way back inside, Owen has finished off half a bottle of wine, the ashtray by his elbow a forest of yellow filters. On the table in front of him, piled on two plates covered with a paper towel to soak up the grease, drips a stack of pig-steaks and a handful of homemade sausages, juices bubbling from their bulging skins. The table has been set for dinner: three plates, silverware, thick crimson napkins, and a long candle burning in an ornate wax-crusted holder, the whole ensemble looking very out of place in stark confines…

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We head out of town and down old dirt roads where the rocks bite and chew at the car’s low undercarriage and creatures whose luminous eyes seem not of this earth leap and dive from our headlights as we invade their sanctuary, and then we barrel up a dirt driveway and onto a gravel lot lined by two Quonset huts and a one-story structure pieced together from rusty corrugated siding. Piles of metal dot the landscape; a rusting truck with its innards torn out rests on flat tires to our left.

A cigarette flares, Sloan’s face floating like an evil…

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They’re not household names. But they earn more than 1,000 households.

How much do the highest-paid technology CEOs actually earn? Of those executives, who made the most last year?

Ask a random person on the street to name the highest-paid CEO in tech, and they might say Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, or Larry Ellison. And while those prominent executives all saw their respective wealth skyrocket over the past few years, thanks in large part to rising stock prices, they weren’t the ones with the biggest annual compensation packages in 2020. …

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Owen’s car is a fine piece of foreign engineering. The engine howls and the road becomes a snaking blur as Owen shifts up and shifts up and shifts up again. I remember Julia behind the wheel on the night we hit the stray, ranting about her students and Dylan Thomas. Wishing for a snip of her hair, or a piece of the old hole-filled t-shirt that she wears to bed, that I could hold to my nose and fill myself with her scent. That is, if Julia exists at all. …

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Like a vampire Fireball starts thrashing soon as the light hits him, bucking and kicking until Owen reaches down and grinds his face into the synthetic carpet. The trunk lid slammed down before Fireball can make a second try for freedom, Owen banging his fists on the metal while bellowing: “Like it in there, asshole? That’s what you get for leading him here.”

Fireball screams and kicks, denting the lid upward, but Owen screams louder, leaning down to bash the metal with his fists and elbows, until a cowed Fireball falls silent. …

Nick Kolakowski

Writer, editor, author of 'Maxine Unleashes Doomsday' and 'Boise Longpig Hunting Club.'

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