Read an excerpt of Oil & Water from @pjlazos #EcoThriller


Title: Oil and Water

 Author: P. J. Lazos

Genre: Eco Thriller

Published: June 2016



When inventor Martin Tirabi builds a machine that converts trash into oil it sends shockwaves through the corporate halls of the oil cognoscenti. Weeks later, Marty and his wife, Ruth are killed in a mysterious car accident. Their son, Gil, a 10-year old physics prodigy is the only one capable of finishing the machine that could solve the world’s energy problems.  Plagued with epilepsy from birth, Gil is also psychic, and through dreams and the occasional missive from his dead father he gets the push he needs to finish the job.

Meanwhile, Bicky Coleman, head of Akanabi Oil is doing his best to smear the planet in it. From a slow leak in the Gulf of Mexico to the most devastating oil spill the Delaware River has ever seen, Akanabi’s corporate practices are leaving oily imprints in their wake. To divert the tide of bad press, Bicky dispatches his son-in-law and Chief Engineer, David Hartos to clean up his mess.  A disillusioned Hart, reeling from the recent death of his wife and unborn child, travels to Philadelphia to fulfill his father-in-law’s wishes.

There’s no such thing as coincidence when Hart meets Gil and agrees to help him finish Marty’s dream machine. But how will he bring such a revolutionary invention to market in a world reliant on fossil fuels and awash in corporate greed?  To do so, Hart must confront those who would quash the project, including his own father-in-law.

 You’ll find murder, mystery, and humor as black as fine Arabian crude filling the pages of Oil and Water. The characters are fictional, but the technology is real. What will we do when the oil runs out?   Open up and see.

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Marty Tirabi sat on a stool aside his drafting table, an aluminum pie plate in each hand. His eyes were closed, his spine erect, his breathing slow and regular, his conscious mind sitting on the pinnacle of present awareness. At the exact moment Marty’s consciousness shifted, sliding across the threshold from beta to alpha to delta like a single-base hitter stealing home, Marty’s grip slackened, and the pie plates clattered to the floor. He woke with a start and stared, wide-eyed, at the back wall of the barn where It sat, all the while scanning his interior databases for a revelation that refused to be retrieved.

Marty rubbed his forehead. This was how Thomas Edison had done it, mining the gem-rich ground of his subconscious by bringing himself to the brink of sleep, then pulling back with a start for a third-party observer’s view. The results of Edison’s efforts were the light bulb and one thousand and ninety-two other patented inventions, but Marty’d be damned if he could get Edison’s process to work. For him it was just there, a vision that sometimes crept, sometimes hurtled from unconscious to conscious awareness — claircognizance some called it, a simple knowing — and suddenly Marty would know how to pull it all together.

But not tonight. Frustrated, Marty spun his stool around, laid the pie plates and his overtired brain on the drafting table, and stared at his father’s oil lamp, its soft, incandescent glow casting ectoplasmic shadows on the blueprints beneath his head. He started to fall — no aluminum pie plates to stop him this time — but was jarred back to wakefulness, halted again by a faint hum, a soft, deliberate noise like the whir of a refrigerator motor or the patter of a soft rain. He felt it in his feet first. It climbed up his legs as it grew in intensity, settled in his heart and then shot up to his forehead. His head vibrated. Marty rose slowly so as not to disturb the hum’s cadence and strolled across the barn floor toward the back wall, convinced that a nonchalant attitude was imperative to the hum’s survival. He tried not to smile, tried not to look directly at It until he had stopped in front of the thousands of pounds of steel assembled in six distinct units. He sniffed the air. Dozens of smells slid past the cilia in his nose and traveled along his olfactory nerve, stopping at the cerebral cortex to register: methane, plastic, burning rubber, decay, ash. Even in a closed-looped system, the vapors, like his dreams, always escaped.

And then, suspended in the air like dust motes lollygagging in a single ray of sun, the smell of oil, sweet and slightly acrid, pierced Marty’s nasal cavity, shattering his equilibrium.


Marty clapped his hands and, because he was half-Greek, did the only dance he felt comfortable doing, a little hop/skip combo that was the backbone of most traditional ethnic dances. He repeated the steps over and over until he came full circle. He added a little jump to his combination.

Marty stopped and laid his face against the side of the metal grate. It was cool to the touch and not at all indicative of the fire raging inside. He shook his head and started his hop, skip and jump dance all over again, this time adding an ecstatic laugh to the mix. He’d done it. Just like Dr. Frankenstein, he’d brought the beast to life: his Thermo-Depolymerization Unit, or TDU, lived! Years in the making, like nothing the world had ever seen, and until five minutes ago only a theory.

Marty had envisioned that the TDU would take garbage, computers, old sneakers, last night’s dinner, yard waste, old fence posts, plastic Tupperware, with or without lids, old sweatshirts, used ball point pens, broken picture frames, old love letters, paint waste, empty cardboard boxes, broken refrigerators, busted telephone poles, wrecked car parts, or the whole car for that matter, old comic books, unwanted furniture, hell, this machine could take anything carbon-based, and do something magical with it, something that, to date, no one else had figured out how to do — take trash and convert it into oil — pure, unadulterated, car-starting, engine-revving, turbo-driving, eighteen-wheeler-moving oil. Marty figured that the TDU would mimic what Mother Nature did every day hundreds of miles below the earth’s surface — break down fossils into fuels. But Marty’s contraption would take about three hours instead of millions of years, combusting nothing, and leaving no waste. After twenty years of toil, Marty had his share of false starts. But now the whir and hum of booster pumps and coolant fan units was evidence: modern-day alchemy. Marty had called down the vision.

Yet the world had no template for it. Like the shaman of the first American Indian tribe to come into contact with Columbus, Marty had to mold the vision into a discernible shape, give the people something palpable that they could recognize. For even as Columbus’s ships approached the shores of the New World, the Native Americans couldn’t see them, not until their shaman provided them with a frame of reference.

But being a shaman was at times an exhausting, aching and lonely occupation. So Marty did what any man in his place would do when faced with a discovery of unrivaled proportions. He propped himself up on the hammock in the corner of the barn and took a nap.

About the Author


Pam Lazos is an environmental lawyer and the author of the eco thriller, Oil and Water, about oil spills and green technology, and of a collection of novellas, Six Sisters, about family, dysfunction and the ties that bind us; creator of the literary and eco blog; a blogger for the Global Water Alliance (GWA) in Philadelphia; on the Board of Advisors for the wH2O Journal, the Journal of Gender and Water (University of Pennsylvania); a former correspondent for her local newspaper (Lancaster Intelligencer Journal); a literary magazine contributor (Rapportage); an editor and ghostwriter; the author of a children’s book (Into the Land of the Loud); and, because it’s cool, a beekeeper’s apprentice. She practices laughter daily.

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