When John Caine, an obscure midlevel banker from Detroit, accepts the opportunity of a lifetime to manage the backroom business functions of an important National Institutes of Health research lab in Bethesda, he believes his ship has finally come in. But his quirky penchant for illicit tinkering results in the creation and accidental release of a powerful new virus with effects no one could have imagined. Only he holds the answer to how it can be stopped, and he's not telling. Caine finds himself confronted with a desperate White House and an onslaught of rage from all quarters of the world's bureaucracies.

Fast paced, provocative, and offbeat, this cautionary story is thick with political satire and intrigue. It occurs in a world of government turned upside down, where Nancy Pelosi is president of a dysfunctional United States under her ultraliberal regime, while George Bush is a convicted felon and Rush Limbaugh a fugitive. Caine's Pestilence brings together present and former U.S. presidents, would-be assassins, two Supreme Court chief justices, familiar national media political commentators, and the infamous prison at Guantanamo Bay, all in a story readers will find engaging and controversial.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Gray Ghost-Part 2

by John Bascom (copyright © 2014)

SixThe Gray Ghost (continued...part 2)

Between hanging and checking baits, we continued our scouting.  One afternoon we were driving the hillside trails through the mopanes when we rounded a sharp bend.  A group of three beautiful kudu bulls burst from behind a fallen tree a few dozen yards off the track and charged deeper into the mopane woodland.
Wil stopped the truck abruptly and we all jumped out.  Levi quickly handed my gun down.
"The big one was quite good," Wil said.  "Let's give them a try."
We set off into the mopanes in the direction the kudus had run.  Levi and Gift tracked in the lead and I followed Wil.  Nickie and Mafios remained with the truck this time.  We worked methodically forward, the trackers seeming to hesitate occasionally as they lost the trail, casting wide until they picked it up again.  The bush was crisscrossed with game trails and I was confounded at their ability to follow specific animals among the many that had obviously passed through.
At one point everyone stopped suddenly, and after a few seconds Wil pivoted ninety-degrees and led us off in a new direction.  Minutes into our detour I glanced back through the bush in the direction we had originally been heading.  A huge gray elephant was moving through the mopanes and low scrub, paralleling our path.  He was only a hundred yards away.  We picked up the pace and soon lost sight of the elephant.  After a few more minutes we heard him trumpet loudly and what seemed to me angrily in the general direction from where we last saw him. 
We continued on our detour until we reached a very high riverbank, as sheer as a cliff.  Down below there was a sand riverbed and thick mopane trees and scrub along the opposite bank, extending on as far as we could see.  A large herd of elephants was drifting through the bush alongside the river.  They were in and out of heavy brush and I couldn't count them all, but was positive I had seen at least a dozen separate animals.
Wil only glanced down at the elephants briefly before turning another ninety-degrees and heading back in the general direction of the truck.  He had never said a word since we left the roadside.  After another fifteen minutes he turned again, doubling back in the direction where we had spotted the lone elephant in the nearby bush.  After a few more minutes everyone froze again and looked to the left.  A huge tusked elephant was moving
deliberately through the trees and brush directly toward us, ears flared to each side and eyes fixed intently on us.  He was but forty yards away and steadily closing.  It was obvious he was intentionally coming for us.
Wil carried a Winchester 70 bolt rifle with iron sights and chambered in .416 Rigby.  He quickly squared up toward the elephant and noisily worked the action.  It was not so much that act that commanded my attention, but the look on his face.  His eyes were as wide as silver dollars.
"Back up!" he said.
My rifle had been slung over my shoulder, but I lowered it to port-arms, at the ready with a finger on the trigger and thumb on the safety.  I was behind Wil and staring over his shoulder at the closing elephant.
Wil backed up, too.  He looked briefly behind him.
"Don't look!  GO!"
We all turned and hurried down a game trail away from the elephant.  Wil was the only one still backing up.  After a few minutes I looked back again and could no longer see it.
Once again we did a wide flanking maneuver and continued through the woodland in the general direction the kudu bulls had taken.  I wasn't sure if we were still on a track or were just searching.  Wil was characteristically silent.  We finally came to another high riverbank and scaled down into the bottom.  It was hard going.  We walked the bed then climbed out on the opposite side.  We paused on top.  Wil used his radio to call Mafios and the truck with Nickie into our position.  How they got to us with the river ravines as obstacles, I'll never know, but they soon came driving up the two-track that followed the bank where we stood.  We never saw those kudus again and Wil never mentioned the episode.
We continued our daily drives and walks through the Chewore searching for buffalo.  It was several days after the encounter with the elephant that a tracker tapped the cab roof late one afternoon as we drove a trail deep in the hilly mopane forest.  Wil stopped and we climbed out.  My rifle was again handed down.
Wil moved cautiously forward along the roadside and studied the bush off to our left.  He motioned me forward and we all set off into the trees.  After a few hundred yards he set up the sticks and finger-waggled me up.  I rested my rifle in the crook as always and looked forward.  Two big kudu bulls were standing in the scrub looking back at us.  They were nearly invisible.
Before I could pick them up in the scope, they took off again at an unhurried trot.  Wil collected the sticks and we continued to follow, this time deviating off to the right to parallel their path.  We crested a small rise and the sticks were once more set up.  This time it took me a few moments to locate the kudus among the scattered bush.  When I did they moved off once more.  Again, we tracked along behind and to the side.  Finally we climbed the grade of a larger hill and Wil froze on top.  I was far enough back that I couldn't see what he was looking at on the other side.  He studied the area for some time with naked eyes and his field glasses.  Then he planted the sticks and signaled me forward.
I quickly set up and looked into another brushy depression ahead.  I could see nothing but mopani and thornbushes.
"Where?" I said.
The bulls took off again and climbed the next rise, pausing to look back in a stand of small mopane trees.  This time I had them dead to rights.
"On the left," Wil hissed.
I placed the crosshairs midway up the chest and a few inches behind the shoulder of the big bull on the left, careful to hold my breath, steady my aim, and squeeze smoothly.  When the recoil had subsided and I was able to look over the rifle once again, the second bull was gone but the first was lying on his belly in the long, dark grass among the trees on the knoll top.  He was down hard and only his head was bobbing slightly.
"Hit him again," Wil said.  "Sometimes they get up."
The grass came to nearly the top of the animal's back.  I had to guess where the front shoulder would be and fire through the dense, brown stems.  The big kudu, beautiful with thick, soaring, spiraling horns, flopped onto his side and never moved again.  It was all over in seconds.
We all rushed to the fallen kudu.  My first shot had struck him a little higher than intended, through the top portion of the ribcage and below the spine.  It was clear the massive and powerful .375 magnum round had penetrated high through both lungs and expanded enough to stun the bottom of the backbone, causing the bull to collapse on the spot.  A certain kill shot.  My second had passed through the grass, entering low and barely behind the shoulder, then crossing slightly forward through the chest and heart, and finally exiting the shoulder on the opposite side.  Death had followed instantaneously.
Everyone was grinning and shaking my hand.  Nickie was with us.
"Oh my God, he's beautiful!"
"Wonderful shot!" Gilbert said in his slow, measured English.
I looked back.  "Where were we when I fired?"  Everything looked the same, and with the adrenaline pumping I had made little note of our shooting position.
"Way back where the grass is lighter yellow on that hilltop," Gilbert said.  "Well over a hundred meters."
Levi was standing next to me, admiring the kudu.  "What is it in your language?" I asked him.
He looked at me in confusion.  He didn't understand.
"The word for kudu in Shona," I said slowly.
"Nhoro," he said, rolling the r.  "Kudu."
"Nhoro," I repeated.
The animal was beautiful and huge and elegant.  The light was fading toward evening, but even in the dusk his hues of gray perfectly matched the mopanes.  His horns were long and very dark and massive.  They rose high in graceful, wide spirals leading to sharp ivory-colored tips.
"The gray ghost of the Chewore," I said aloud.
"He's a good one," Wil said.  "A very old boy.  His breeding days were behind him.  He was ready."
I heard the groan of the engine as Mafios worked the truck in.  There would be more congratulations back at camp and medium-rare kudu loin chops, broiled to perfection for dinner this evening.

I looked at the fallen animal a final time before the men winched him aboard the truck and couldn't help but thinking the kudu bull could only be created by the mind of God and rendered on the canvas of nature in the African bush.  My day was complete, and now there was one final trophy to go.
  Look for "The Gray Ghost" and other hunting stories in Bascom's upcoming collection, FOLLOW HIM UP THE MOUNTAIN later in 2014.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Gray Ghost

by John Bascom (copyright © 2014)
SixThe Gray Ghost (part 1 of 2)

One cannot but be struck by the comedy of the tiny and ill-shaped grysbok bouncing frantically through the yellow grass.  And the warthog seems as if he were assembled from a
discarded collection of unwanted parts, a Frankensteinian experiment on the animal world gone terribly wrong.  The bushbuck, on the other hand, exudes harmonious elegance, while the duiker is a study in diminutive beauty, an artistically rendered miniature of an idealized antelope.  Baboons are the blue-collar, scruffy, rudely barking rabble of the bush while impala are the common proletariat, the working class of the Chewore with their long, homely faces, roughly featured and oddly angled.  But one can never forget, cannot help but being awed at the first glimpse of the majestic wild bull kudu.
If the lion is king of the jungle—I have no doubt it is true—the kudu bull is the crowned prince.  Strikingly tall and magnificently proportioned, his soaring, spiraling horns
are the perfect adornment, a princely coronet upon a regal body.  It is said that when George Washington, general of the Continental Army and first president of the United States, entered a room, a hush fell.  All others paled in comparison even though he behaved humbly.  He was always silently and spontaneously acclaimed by those in his presence a man above men, not so much for his achievements as simply his bearing.  So it is with the kudu bull amongst lesser, amongst all other animals.  It is true enough that the elephant is more massive, the giraffe wondrous, the zebra unique, and the leopard deadly and beautiful and stealthy.  But nothing compares with the kudu.
Perhaps it is his coat, appearing lush, tailored and smooth in satiny-rich, understated silver-gray.  The immediate urge is to reach out and stroke it.  Or the very light gray, almost white, thin, faint and widely spaced stripes running vertically up its flanks, and horizontally along the backbone.  The same contrasting light gray forms a distinct chevron, a coat-of-arms of a knight of the court, on the face below the eyes.  The kudu's head is prominent and noble and pleasingly proportioned.  A mane runs both above and below the long, strong neck, dark and stiffly bristled on top, and feathery light gray beneath.
The bull kudu's legs are long, his body is athletic and sculpted with muscle honed through the rigors of survival in the African bush.  While the Cape buffalo is muscle-bound
and massive and brutish and unafraid, the kudu is built as an animal of action.  His movements are confident and unhurried even though he is capable of remarkable speed and power.  The impala flees in frantic, terrified, escaping leaps, while the kudu runs as does the American working quarter horse, with chest forward and legs driving beneath, taking the thick bush in a purposeful attack, an NFL running back cutting and powering through the opposition to reach his chosen objective.  Like the human athlete or the quarter horse, the kudu runs without fear.  One can never forget that first glimpse of the majestic wild bull kudu.

Kudu are trophies of opportunity, residents of the brushy forests where the advantages are all theirs, unlike on the more open savannahs.  The first time I saw a kudu bull while hunting it was three or four days into our safari.  Our party was hiking to a spring a mile or so back in the bush to look for buffalo tracks.  We had crested a small rise in the mopane-covered hills when we jumped a bull and cow standing in a wide depression some fifty yards ahead.  They glanced at us only momentarily before taking off at a leisurely trot up the next hill, the two of them stopping at the top among the scrub to look back at us.  They were still within a hundred yards.
"What a magnificent kudu," I stammered, still star-struck at the sight.  I wondered why Wil hadn't called for the sticks and motioned me to his side.  He said nothing.
"Should we shoot him?" I finally asked.  We had stood looking for nearly a full minute.  The animals seemed unconcerned but I was certain they would bolt at any instant.
"A bit too young.  He has a few years of breeding ahead of him.  We want something older."
I was stunned.  I never challenged Wil's calls, never had a desire to, but it was as if we had stumbled upon a tall tined, wide, rutting-necked ten point buck in Michigan and someone called it off because he was too small.  "Let's wait for a fourteen-point."
"Their coloring is perfect," I said.  "I wouldn't know they were there had we not seen them moving."
"The gray ghost of the Chewore."
"It's what the locals, the hunting community says.  Their coloring.  The way they move.  Blend in.  One minute they're there, the next they're not.  As much as anything, it's a comment on their mystique, I suppose.  A compliment.  There's something quite different about them."
The kudus finally drifted off into the scrub...to be continued...
  Look for "The Gray Ghost" and other hunting stories in Bascom's upcoming collection, FOLLOW HIM UP THE MOUNTAIN later in 2014.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Praise for Caine's Pestilence
from readers and reviewers 

Wyblog US

I could summarize my review in three words: Read. This. Book… Caine's Pestilence is a masterstroke of satirical genius…I couldn't put it down. (Chris Wysocki August 21, 2011 www.wyblog.us) 



One of the most compelling and unusual books I have ever had the pleasure of reading...totally original and both comedic and horrifying at the same time.  From the time I opened the first page, it made me want to read it straight through…if you decide to read only one book this year, it should be Caine’s Pestilence.  (LD Jackson Oct. 2, 2011 www.ldjackson.net 


Free Republic

(H)ighly recommend, but …more scary than Stephen King's "IT" which, to this day, still causes goosebumples when I think of the clown-monster.  I will not even try to offer up a glimpse of the terror and horrible events that are part of the plot, and I do mean PLOT!!  Get it and set aside an evening to read it. Make sure the doors and windows are locked and unplug the phone! (GRRR…Free Republic, Sept. 7, 2011,


By Melinda Le Baron—October 30—Goodreads...very tightly plotted... dialogue is priceless...pacing lickety-split quick...ending so surprising you could have knocked me over...perfect for people who like finishing novels with a smile...by far this book is singular in its execution.


BGabby--January 20--Goodreads...I loved this book! Nancy Pelosi as president? G W Bush imprisoned for war crimes? The hopelessly politically correct doublespeak? I haven't laughed this hard at a political novel since Tricky Dicky and Good As Gold...All I know is that I'm keeping this one to enjoy again.


Amazon.com Reader Reviews 

By Psychonate--Sept 1--awesome book! Amazingly entertaining...down right scary! Should be a requirement for students.  Finished in two days and that's only because I had to sleep and work.

By Dannette—March 26… rides the fence of politics beautifully, with a spot-on sense of timing and humor.  I found myself laughing countless times at the irony 


By "cobweb"—October 9…Spellbinding with an edgy awareness that the ridiculous situation inching Caine to his death is uncannily possible… Caine's observations, inappropriate humor and irreverent satire bind this twisted plot into an intriguing read and a wakeful night… Totally great reading and we want more. 


By Daune Robinson—April 14…can't remember the last time I enjoyed finding a new author this much - well, yes, I can - it was when I read Watchers and fell in love with Dean Koontz! This book was a pleasure to read. I laughed, cried, screamed and could not put it down. Read it! 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

CNBC Comments on Caine's Pestilence


Political Satire Novel Lampoons Nancy Pelosi, Liberals

"One of the most compelling and unusual books ...ever"  Political Realities


GLADWIN, Mich., -- Caine's Pestilence, a novel melding biotech mystery and political satire, has been released by Canniche Cove Publishing. Written by new author John Bascom, the fictional work unfolds in a surreal 2015  where Nancy Pelosi is president and the ultra-liberal wing of the Democratic Party firmly controls America.

The novel is distinctive in that it defies standard classifications of literary genre, containing elements of action-adventure, biotech science fiction, humor, and political parody. Bascom uses actual public figures as characters. In addition to Pelosi, Minnesota Senator Al Franken is the chief justice of the Supreme Court, while Rush Limbaugh is a fugitive beaming bootleg broadcasts into the US from Canada.

John Bascom, author
"I wanted to write something absolutely unique," Bascom says, "something that would give voice to my concerns about the destructiveness of the liberal agenda taking hold in our country, but in a way that avoids rants or preaching and is delivered in an entertaining, engaging way." Bascom's story unfolds from the pen of the simple, hapless central character, John Caine, writing his memoirs from his death-row cell. An obscure administrator at the National Institutes of Health, Caine fortuitously creates a biological agent that, accidentally released into the population, changes the perceptions of ordinary people about the liberal agenda. The Pelosi administration then goes crazy and Caine is persecuted mercilessly in their efforts to stop it.

The author's mission of entertaining and engaging has met with success according to the conservative Wyblog.us, who calls Caine's Pestilence "...a masterstroke of satirical genius" and tells the blog's fans to Read. This. Book. Today! And the blog Political Realities says it's "...one of the most compelling and unusual books I have ever had the pleasure of reading." Individual Amazon reader-reviewers awarded the maximum 5 stars on average overall.

Caine's Pestilence is available in softcover or Kindle at Amazon.com and as a Nook eBook from Barnes & Noble.