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.

Friday, September 12, 2014


Kuiu Island, Inside Passage, Alaska

Kuiu Island, Alaska has the largest 
population, and the largest size, black bears in the world.

"Emydon" at sunset

The 50' diesel powered vessel
Emydon (right) was our floating base in the waters of Kuiu Island


Guides Kyle (lft), Eli (rt) and client Curt (ctr)
Sea life such as these breaching humpback whales were abundant in the surrounding waters, in addition to otters, sea lions, seals, bald eagles
Curt's big bear
John & Curt hike to trout stream
John with big Coho caught from stream


John Bascom in Petersburg AK
Look for the Kuiu Island adventure story, "Curt's World Record Kuiu Island Bear Hunting Trophy" in Bascom's upcoming book of outdoor stories Beneath a Hunter's Sky in late 2014

Monday, June 2, 2014


by John Bascom (Copyright 2014)

NineCONCLUSION: A New Beginning

After lunch back at camp Nickie and I relaxed, read a little, and socialized with camp manager Sharon.  Our hunting was over and Wil busied himself with the paperwork. 
It was mid-afternoon when the skinners brought the fleshed and boiled skulls of our
trophies with horns attached and arranged them in a display on the lawn against the backdrop of the Chenje.  The men stood proudly at parade rest behind the array, feet spread and hands clasped low behind their backs.  The skulls were brilliant white as if they had been baking under the sun of some desert for years, and the horns were dark black, boiled and cleaned of the dirt from the bush.  The skinners, rugged and scruffy appearing men compared with our starched and pressed waiters, wore wrinkled shorts and stained t-shirts.  Still it was an impressive sight and a statement on the tough, strong people of the Zambezi Valley.  We snapped a few photos, then Nickie and I posed with the trophies while Sharon took a few more.
We had an early dinner, a fine and fitting feast for our last night in camp.  We were to leave early the next morning to meet our pilot, Ahmad, at the Chenje airstrip and board the Centurion for our flight to Victoria Falls.  Nickie and I went to our tent immediately following our meal to finish packing.
Nickie was efficiently fitting our belongings into our duffel bags as only she can.  I had finished cleaning my rifle and was stowing it and the supplies in a hard, secure travel case.
"It's still unbelievable how well we did," I said.  "The entire thing was just outstanding."
"It was a fine safari.  I'm so glad it was successful for you."
"Did you really have a great time?  You seem sort of lukewarm."
"Everything we saw and experienced was wonderful.  It's just that it was a little hard on me physically."
"Seeing that lion crouched on the riverbank only yards away was a highpoint," I said.  "I'm sorry it was rugged at times.  I know it's not the Ritz.  Thanks for putting up."
"The heat was oppressive, and the walking before I was banished.  The worst was being crushed in the middle of that truck bench seat between you and Wil.  It wasn't built for three.  And when I sat in the open, up in the back, I was always getting swatted by low-hanging brush.  The pounding for hours on those excuses for roads may have actually been the worst.  My back is still sore."
"I know.  I'm still nursing my blisters and missing toenail."
"And Wil was insufferable.  He talks to himself, you know.  I could see his lips moving and hear the whispers as we were driving around."
I hadn't noticed, but still had to laugh.
"And he was so rude out in the bush.  Charming and talkative back at camp, but a different man when we were hunting.  I didn't like the way he treated us at all.  I hope you're not going to give him a tip."
"It got better near the end," I said.  "Sort of.  And I can't believe his knowledge and work ethic.  He's the most focused and goal-oriented soul I've ever met.  The results were incredible.  What a safari!"
"Still…I think he was unprofessional.  We were paying him, not the other way around.  I don't think he should get anything more from us."
"Honestly, Wil was part of the challenge and excitement.  For me, it made everything all the more satisfying.  His peculiarities were beyond interesting and added to the uniqueness of the entire experience.  And with his background—the heir apparent to a profitable farm, the boss man even as a teen—I'm sure I couldn't help being a little bitter myself if all that was taken through no fault of mine.  His behavior in the field is simply all he knows."
"Well…just so you know, this is my last hunting trip," Nickie said.  "It was wonderful and all.  But like we talked about when I agreed to come with you, next time we'll go to an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean for our vacation."
"We had talked about an Alaska bear hunt instead of coming here.  There's always that still out there."
"I'm just saying."
"It was either-or, never both."
I recalled what Sharon had said a few days ago at dinner.  Our clients come to take an elephant, a leopard or lion only once.  But they come back for buffalo.  There was that to think about, too.  Maybe…just maybe…
Nickie continued packing and I made up the envelopes for the gratuities.  I expressed my appreciation by giving no less than the already generous amounts recommended by our booking agent.  There was Levi, the middle-aged and getting-thick-in-the-waist tracker, tireless and skilled, the man who could not do enough for me.  "Gun, Boss…," holding out his hand to relieve me of my burden during a particularly long and hard trek.  I placed something extra in his envelope.  And of course the game ranger, Gilbert.  Then there were Sharon and Jerry, who had made our stay wonderful in every way, who had become genuine friends.  The kitchen staff—waiters, cooks, clean-up—the outstanding meals, they all received something extra.  And Wil?  I placed the full recommended amount in his envelope, but no more in his case.  His talents had resulted in a remarkable take of game, but his poor communications skills, rudely critical behavior, and absence of coaching cost him what would otherwise have been an additional several hundred dollars, not a small sum in the austere Zimbabwean economy.
As Nickie was going through her nightly ritual of preparing for bed, I had a chance to reflect on the entire safari experience.  I'd heard it said Africa could be life-changing for a westerner.  I hadn't truly understood the import of those words, but did now.  It's a simple concept that everything has a beginning and an end.  And the end of a thing, especially if it was good, marks a new beginning for something else.  It's the most basic of ideas, but one that is fully grasped only by we humans, and it is the basis of all religion, for man's unique capacity to plan and design, for our dominion over the world's animals, and for civilization itself.  And I saw in that moment, at the end of our safari, I was a changed man.  The African bush and its animals had transfigured and resurrected me.  I knew, going forward, the end of this safari would mark the beginning of a new and better chapter in my life—in our lives.  That Africa had awarded me another chance at wholeness, however brief or enduring it may prove to be.
Nickie had completed her preparations, performing a few final tasks before getting into bed.  She was cheerfully humming a familiar popular tune, one I recognized well.  I could tell she was feeling happy and carefree, too.
"Are you going to be coming to bed?" she asked.  "They'll be shutting off the generator anytime."
I liked to act silly with her when we were both feeling lighthearted.  I liked to make her smile.  I stood in front of her and placed my hands on her shoulders.
"Today, while the blossom still clings to the vine…"   It was what she had been humming.  "I'll taste your strawberries, I'll drink your sweet wine."  I sang in my awful monotone, exaggerating it to be comical.
"You didn't give Wil a tip, did you?"
"What I did is invited him to come visit over Thanksgiving," I said.  I liked to rattle her chain a bit.
"You're not the least bit funny."
"He'll only stay through New Year's.  Or Easter at the latest."
"You think you're comical, but you're not."
I'll be a dandy and I'll be a rover," I droned.  "I'll feast at your table…I'll sleep in your clover…"  I could never hit a note or carry a melody. 
"Aren't you the flirty one, though."  She got in bed and put out the side-table light.  The overhead controlled only by the generator was still lit.  I crawled in beside her.
"It's really been a fine experience."  She changed the subject.  "I truly mean that.  I'm glad we did this."
I continued my little song, singing the refrain once more, teasing her, lying close beside, turning on one side to face her.  "Today while the blossom still clings to the vine…I'll taste your strawberries, I'll drink your sweet wine."
"Don't you be getting any big ideas, Buster.  The staff is still going about their business just outside."
"For the love of God, don't be ridiculous.  I'm seventy and still not over my last surgery.  Come on!"  I didn't mention that the end of our safari heralded yet a new beginning.  I'd tell her about that much later.
The generator spun down and died with a rough cough.  The faint illumination from the hanging light faded away with it.  I turned on my elbow, my face above hers only inches away.  It was dark inside the tent, with not even the light from a moon just beginning its rise or perhaps only forming the slightest crescent yet visible.
"I can't be contented with yesterday's glory."  I barely whispered it, not even trying to sing.  "Today is my moment and now is my story."  I hadn't realized I remembered so much of the lyrics.
"I can't wait to see Victoria Falls," she said, ignoring my shenanigans. 
"It'll be great.  And, maybe when we're home, we can at least talk about the Alaska thing again."  I knew I was pushing it, but her mood was fine.
She was lying on her back, the sheet pulled to her chin.  I knew her eyes were open, but in the dark of our tent I couldn't make out any colors at all.  Yet I remembered from long experience their dazzling, unique hazel with little flecks of green, bronze, and brilliant gold.  Even in the dark, I could see their color in my mind's eye.  And I could sense the warmth radiating from her face and the moistness of her mouth, as any man does when very near a woman to whom he is deeply drawn.
"A million tomorrows shall all pass away…"  I was singing softly once again.  Barely audibly.  Nickie was still.
"…'ere we forget…"  I moved close to see that she was still awake, then kissed her on the lips.  Once again, only fleetingly, I considered our safari, our shared experience, and the new beginning I was sure it portended.

"…all the joysthat are ours…..today….."
Look for the complete "AFRICA SAFARI JOURNAL" and other stories in Bascom's upcoming book, "Follow Him Up the Mountain" to be published late in 2014

Saturday, May 24, 2014

FEAR & DEATH--Part 2

by John Bascom (Copyright 2014)

Eight(Part 2) Fear and Death Above the M'Kunga

(From Part 1)…I picked up the center of the buffalo's chest in the crosshairs.  Still, Wil had said the third one from the front and this one was only slightly farther back in the shifting herd.  I wasn't sure.
"The one I'm looking at is directly in front.  Between the two trees," I said.
"Yes, the bull between the trees," Wil said urgently.
"The one closest to us.  He's looking straight at us."
"No," Wil said.  "He's looking forward, and his head is partially behind that…no, wait.  Yes, I see, he's looking at us now."
"Closest, the bull looking at us, standing between two trees.  I can see his bosses and penis."
"Yes," Wil said impatiently.  "It's the only bull in the herd.  Between the trees, looking at us."
"I'm sure it's a bull," I said.  "Should I shoot?"
All the other animals had stopped and were now staring in our direction.  I was certain they were about to bolt."
"Yes.  That's it. Shoot!"
With the bull's quartering stance, I realized a center-chest hold, if pulled accidentally only slightly to my right, would risk angling between the brisket and away-shoulder, mostly missing the heart and lungs and risking a dangerously wounded Cape buffalo.  I moved the crosshairs slightly, between the brisket and shoulder positioned closest to my left, steadied the rifle, exhaled, drew a half-breath and held it, then smoothly squeezed off a shot.
Everyone was oddly quiet for several moments.
"It didn't look hit," Wil said.
"I had a pretty solid hold on his chest," I said.
"I didn't hear the bullet impact.  Are you sure you hit it?"
"Pretty sure." 
We all moved down to the area where the herd had been.  The trackers—everyone—searched the ground methodically.  No blood or hair.  No sign of a hit of any kind.
Levi and Gift led us along the track the buffalos had taken.  Their compressed hoof prints and the trampled ground were obvious.  We worked along their trail for about twenty minutes, about three-hundred-fifty yards or roughly a quarter mile by my estimate.  The trackers would cast to the left or right occasionally to see if an animal had straggled or stumbled on the edge of the herd.  The bush had thinned but there was thicker jesse just ahead as we paused to consider our next move.
"You're sure you hit something," Wil said, more as a statement seeking a reassuring response than a question.  "We can't find anything."
I was beginning to doubt myself.
Everyone was just standing around, waiting.  Wil lit a cigarette.  No one made eye contact with me.
It was Gilbert, the despised game ranger, who moved forward toward the leading edge of the thick jesse stand that stretched as far as one could see.  Gilbert, the optimist, thinking outside the box, with his positive attitude and friendly disposition.  Gilbert, who liked and generally wished to help people.  Who liked and helped me.
He moved up about thirty yards and a few yards to our left, then stooped to better see beneath the overhanging jesse bows.  He stretched his neck and head forward, paused, and pointed with his finger.
We all rushed over.  I squatted and looked beneath the jesse in the direction he was pointing.  There, some eighty odd yards ahead, lay the unmistakable black carcass of a Cape buffalo.

Part 2

We quickly moved up through the jesse stand, stopping about thirty feet from the big
animal laying lifeless on his side.  Wil approached the downed buffalo carefully and nudged his head with the barrel of his rifle.
"He's a bull all right, but not the one I wanted you to shoot.  He's a younger one."
I surprised myself with the overwhelming feelings of joy and accomplishment that swept through me.  I was ecstatic, beaming I'm sure from ear to ear.  I walked up near the animal to admire him.  He was as magnificent in death as he had been staring sullenly at me a up near the crest of the hill a few minutes before.  He had gone perhaps four hundred yards before collapsing in the thick brush.  I knew an average human track runner could cover a hundred yards in just over ten seconds.  With the speed at which that herd took off at my shot, it couldn't have been over forty-five seconds, well under a minute, for my buffalo to run down here and die in this jesse stand.  I was glad it had been quick.
"Nickie's going to go crazy."  I meant to say it to myself but realized I had said it aloud.
I moved closer to the bull and inspected him carefully.  My shot had hit very near my precise point of aim, slightly above by only a few inches and perhaps an inch left.  The bloody wound on his front chest between the brisket and the animal's right shoulder displayed the track of the bullet on his hide as it had entered from the front, angling in such a way that it would travel through its body back and across to the organs behind on the other side.  It was clear the right lung had been raked from front to back, the crossing bullet probably hitting the rearward portion of the left lung as well, and going back into the body through its liver and deeper organs.  There was no exit wound.  I doubt the bull ever really knew what hit him.
My spirits were soaring, the adrenalin doing its work now more so than during the stalk or the shot.  I had thought upon our arrival in Africa that taking a buffalo was secondary to experiencing the bush and its animals.  But I understood now I had been wrong.  This was the thrilling and fulfilling culmination that had turned our safari into an unforgettable experience.
"We try not to shoot the younger ones," Wil said in his scolding tone.
"Look, Wil," I said, grinning.  I was not about to allow his condescension to dampen my moment.  "Shit happens.  I know shooting old animals is important to you.  And it's good with me, too.  But I described what I was looking at in detail three times so you'd understand.  And asked for your permission to shoot."
"I was talking about the older one between the tree and the bush."
This was the first he had mentioned bush.  It had been "between the two trees."
"You said it was the only bull in the herd.  I saw the bosses and penis sheath on this one right away."
"The older bull was farther forward, behind the brush.  He's the one I wanted you to take."
"You might have said as much, Wil.  I'd have been glad to do it.  But I didn't see any animal in that herd larger than this one.  And this one was clearly a bull."
"The older ones aren't necessarily always bigger."
"For my money, I shot the bull I wanted.  The one I described in detail and you cleared me to shoot.  If there was a miscommunication…well…you need to be more careful next time.  But I'm here to tell you I couldn't be happier.  This is what I came for."  I think I was close to laughing, not at Wil but purely from joy and excitement.  "I'm sorry if you're upset, but I'm the happiest man in Africa."
At that moment a visible change came over Wil.  A smile spread across his face, something that had not previously occurred while we took game together.  He spontaneously clasped my shoulder, another first.
"You came here to take your buffalo and you did it," he blurted, not measuring his words now.  "You kept up during our climb up here and while we maneuvered in on that herd.  It wasn't an easy thing, especially for a man who has reached seventy and has had health issues.  And your shot was spot on.  It was quite the achievement." 
He was grinning the whole time, his demeanor all at once joyful and spontaneous, like mine.  It was as if the death of that Nyati in the thick jesse in the hills above the M'Kunga had caused something in Wil and me to die along with it.  For Wil it seemed to be the awful weight of command, the fear of failure, purged by my joy at taking my buffalo bull.  A perfect completion of our safari.  It was as if the anger and discontent that seemed to simmer beneath Wil's surface had died along with that animal. 
And for me the thing that died on the hillside was the fear that I, battling cancer and reaching seventy, had passed a tipping point.  That I no longer could do the things I loved or achieve the things I once had.  I felt redeemed and resurrected by the sacrifice of my beautiful Cape buffalo bull.  And I somehow knew my strange dreams had become a thing of the past.
"It was an exciting kill," Wil grinned, "with its twists and turns."
"Fear and death in the hills above the M'Kunga," I laughed.  Perhaps I should have phrased it …the death of fear…

Wil lifted his radio to call in Mafios with Nickie and the truck.  I couldn't wait for her to arrive.

Look for "AFRICA SAFARI JOURNAL" and other stories in Bascom's upcoming book, "Follow Him Up the Mountain" to be published late 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 

NEW  5.0 out of 5 stars By  Joyce Metzger--July 4--Savage Satire Coupled With Dark Intrigue...excellent...A thought-provoking story...(author) writes from dedicated research and true life experience

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.