Five: Episode Fifty-Three is based off the following book excerpt from my science fiction, supernatural, thriller, The Contingency Generation.
The sound of rushing water and a soft pinging sound causes me to open my eyes. I’m lying on my side in grass punctuated by bright yellow flowers. Kate’s microtherm cylinder lies several yards away in front of a boulder, and I see a waterfall spilling down from behind it.
I try to get up, but the pain in my shoulders leaves me gasping. The top of my sleeve is ripped open and my skin is sticky with congealed blood. With a second attempt, I achieve my goal. I’m relieved to see that my shoulder wounds seem mostly surface deep, which is a miracle, or perhaps the result of my wonderbra. My hasty morning choice for my favorite sport bra has proven providential. The strap material, tevektyne, has served well beyond its hype. Wonderbra’s slogan, “We hold you up, so nothing gets you down,” can now add the detriment of going aerial in the grip of an enormous bird’s talon to its list of avoidances from potential disaster.
When I stand, I’m able to discern that the pinging noise is part of an alert coming from the cylinder. Across the program screen the words, “power reset” scroll in red. There’s an empty space where a chronometer is normally connected. Without it, I’ve no clue as to how long the warning has been displayed. It could be seconds or hours until the transfer bot’s power is drained. Continual power to the cylinder allows Kait’s body to remain viable for the resurrection process.
My own wrist screen is gone, so Fol won’t be able to track me, but neither will I be able to send for help or make use of the map feature. The bright overhead sun gives me the impression that its midday.
All around me are rows of blue green crests covered with vegetation. The mountains are much lower than the rocky snow peaks that rise above SHEOl.
Shielding my eyes, I’m able to follow the string of willow trees along the banks of the nearby stream. The stand ends abruptly to my right. I explore the short distance and discover another steep drop with a waterfall and a continuing double row of trees marching on into the valley and beyond. If I follow the stream, I’ll at least get to the bottom and maybe find a road or civilization, but I’ll have to leave Kate.
I return to the cylinder, wishing I could come to another conclusion. But I can’t.
I reach under my shirt and unclasp my bra and slide the garment gently out from my sleeves. It served me well, but now it rubs against my wounds and triggers fresh bleeding. I search for a suitable marking stick. When I locate one, I attach my undergarment and then wedge my handmade pennant upright between Kate’s cylinder and the rock.
I step back to see the affect. It looks like I’m volunteering to surrender.
Maybe I am.
Facts don’t yield. Despite all my efforts, death romps in this field. Underneath a blue-sky day, the future life of my dearest friend lies in jeopardy.
The sound of a high pitch squeal severs my heart. The program screen shows Kate’s power supply has reached the end.
“No. No. No. Oh please, no.” I moan and run my hands around the cylinder hoping for an alternate solution.
When the squealing stops altogether, the background noise of the wind in the trees and birds calling across the water fill the air.
It’s as if death has tagged me triumphantly on the back and said, “Gotcha.”
Frenzied, I determine to get Kate’s body out of the cylinder. Bracing against the boulder, I jostle the heavy container with my boot, and the casing rolls sluggishly but then gathers speed down the incline.
It stops when it hits a tree trunk. Fortunately, the manual lock faces up. I grab the biggest stone I can manage and smash it against the recessed lock space hoping to force it to open. The metal alloy remains unaffected. Again and again, I rail against it without success. I feel tears roll down my face, and the cuts in my shoulders begin to drip blood again. I know I should stop and conserve my strength. With a final hit that jars me to the bone, I give up and heave away the stone. Slipping to the ground beside the cylinder, I curl into a ball and sob.
It’s strange. Even though I knew Kate was already dead, somehow, the functioning cylinder represented the promise of life.
A loud snap from a nearby knoll interrupts my grieving. Instantly, I become quiet. Something moves in the willows. Hoping that the taller field grass will shield my presence, I flatten onto my stomach and press my face into my lower sleeve to dry the moisture that tickles my nose.
What is it?
This blog post is an excerpt from my supernatural thriller, Five, presented in rough draft version. The posts appear weekly as my story development progresses. The story snippets will likely be full of typos, garbage, and confusion. I’m sure to regret allowing readers a sneak peak of the chaos involved in this process of making a finished book.
Someday, if I still have an audience, my book(s) and screenplays will be polished and for sale. Until then, my story snippets are free, but payment by “subscribing” with your email would be a nice gesture. For doing this you might get a discount on my purchasable work should that day ever arrive. All you get now is a notice via email of a new story episode that I have ready to read on my “blog.” I don’t sell my email list or do anything else with it.
Why am I doing this stupid and terrible thing—letting readers see my “off the cuff” story writing?
Book industry experts say that in today’s world of book marketing, an unknown author must build their own sales platform. I’m supposed to advance my platform by collecting readers, and for now, by blogging. Since I can’t imagine blogging about what I had for breakfast or the things my cat does, then instead, I’m blogging fiction excerpts of my work(s) in progress.
Thanks for slogging along. Maybe we’ll meet on a bookshelf someday.