Hi All –
I have all sorts of news to share with you this week!
First off, my friend Ray Garton has a brand new werewolf book out called, Bestial, and when you get your copy you can find my name on the Acknowledgments page! *boggle* I was lucky enough to read an advance digital copy of the book and it’s a wild read! Ray is a gifted writer, and I’m honored he thought to add my name to his latest book!
Check out Bestial here… Bestial
Next up I have great news about Night Walker!
I got a call while I was at the grocery store tonight standing in front of canned meats. While staring at sardines, (ew!) my cell phone rang. I was informed that Night Walker finaled in the Winter Rose contest. Tomorrow the editor from Dorchester Publishing will have it!!! YAY!!!
So now Nocturne and TOR have full manuscripts and Dorchester will have a partial… I also queried 9 more literary agents and one has already requested to see the first 50 pages!!! WOOT!!!
Please keep thinking good thoughts for Night Walker!
I know all your support is helping, so thanks so much!!! I hope to have even better news to share soon…
So on to this week’s story…
The topic was Life Before the Internet. I have no clue why my brain jumped a thousand years into the future, but the more I tried to change the story, the more stubborn it became.
Needless to say, this week’s story is my very first ever futuristic sci-fi. I never in a million years thought I’d write one, but Briggs made it easy.
I hope you enjoy his story!
Going Home – By Lisa Kessler
"Lieutenant Briggs, report back. Briggs? Answer me, Briggs."
The lieutenant dialed down the volume on his ear piece, and walked away from the pod into the wasteland that was once his home planet. Dust plumed around his white boots with every step.
He hadn’t expected to feel this way.
His mission was simple enough. Return to the home planet and retrieve historical documents. Books to be exact. He wasn’t quite sure what a real book looked like. The world population hadn’t used them for centuries. He couldn’t imagine what life before the internet could have been like. The internet itself seemed like an archaic concept. Centuries ago, the human world had come together through the antiquated form of communication, but as technology improved, computers gave way to handheld devices, and voice-recognition software led to the extinction of the keyboard, until technology and mankind existed as one unified race.
Briggs stared down the deserted twelve lane highway. The red laser lights designating the flight lanes for civilian air traffic still shone up into the atmosphere as if the rush hour of personal spacecraft were going to flood the area any moment.
There hadn’t been any traffic on the planet in over one hundred years.
His heartbeat was the only sound left on the empty planet. A chill shot down his spine.
Briggs cranked up the volume on his earpiece, grateful for the noise to break through the suffocating silence.
"Briggs… Report in. That’s an order."
He pressed a button on his belt. "I’m here commander. Just getting my bearings back. A century has come and gone since I’ve been on the surface."
His commanding officer let out a sigh of relief. "Jesus man, we thought we lost you. Do you see your target?"
Briggs pressed a button on the control pad of his left wrist, lowering his long-range scope goggles inside of his helmet. According to his readout, the large stone building was just over a mile away.
"My target is in sight, Commander."
"Good. Radio back when you’re at the final destination."
He dialed down the ear piece and pressed the button to retract the goggles. After the computer verified his fuel levels and completed the flight safety check, he clicked a button on his wrist and rose up off of the sand-covered concrete of the abandoned highway. Careful to maintain a slow speed while remaining close to the surface, he made his way toward the world library of congress building.
Wind gusts tugged at his flight suit and threw ancient bits of frozen garbage around his head. The temperature outside of his suit registered seventy below zero, fairly typical for a mid-summer’s night. Since the man-made atmosphere had failed, it was impossible to maintain sustainable temperatures for humans. The planet was evacuated after his first lifetime following his full organ replacement.
He passed an old McDonald’s sign, proudly proclaiming billions and billions served and chuckled. Could the founders have ever dreamed that the Big Mac would outlive the cockroach? The signature burgers were still available on their new space station. Cockroaches went extinct when the atmosphere dome cracked. He looked past the faded sign and saw only remnants of the once stylish building. Space had claimed most of it now. Only part of one wall and the foundation remained.
His stomach growled, yanking him out of his side trip down memory lane. He had a mission to accomplish.
Only it wasn’t the mission the federation had sent him to complete.
Briggs made his way toward the world library of congress building, but two blocks before he reached the grand structure, he turned right down a lonely side street. With a click on the control pad on his wrist, the jet boosters in his suit quieted and his feet came to rest on the frigid pavement.
He would walk the final block.
Empty buildings watched him pass, staring down at the intruder in their silent world. Gusts of cold air slammed into him, but his climate-controlled suit fought off the attack. He hadn’t been back home in over a century, and yet he could still make this solemn trek without the aide of his computer’s mapping system.
When he rounded the corner, his eyes widened. The cemetery was no longer a soft carpet of green grass, but a barren wasteland of sand. Some of the larger headstones still rose up from the turbulent sand storms dancing around them, and he struggled to orient himself to the layout of the once restful place he used to visit every week. The rows and columns of the cemetery were now nonexistent, and his heart pounded with anxiety.
How would he ever find her again?
"Heart rate is elevated. Are you in distress?" his computer queried.
"Stable," he answered and punched the button to disable the vital sign monitor.
He made his way toward what remained of a large granite angel. A century of furious sand storms had taken their toll on her now featureless face. Without eyes or a nose or mouth, she was a blank canvas marking the resting place of a small child. He turned around and started counting his paces. She had been buried three rows south of the angel. He could only guess at the distance.
After counting thirty paces he slowed and knelt on the ground. Reaching out his gloved hands, he dusted away the sand, wrestling against time itself to find her. Sand plumed, flying up around him. When he finally brushed across something solid, he found a marker, but not the one he was searching for.
He shifted to the right and started the process all over again until he finally found the words he’d been seeking.
Harmony Briggs, beloved wife and friend. Gone too soon.
"I miss you, Harm." His eyes brimmed with tears as his fingers traced the engraving of her name. "I never should have left you here."
He tipped his head up, fighting to blink back the tears. It was impossible to wipe his eyes inside of his climate-control suit. After a century apart, he thought he’d have better control over his emotions, but seeing her resting place now, like this. It was more than he could bear. He left her in a barren desert, a wasteland, forgotten along with the rest of the dead.
Briggs sighed and looked back down at her name as a single tear spilled down his cheek. "I didn’t know it would be like this." He laid down alongside her burial place wishing he could feel the cold stone, just to know he was closer to her. Instead he settled for resting his gloved hand over her name. "When we left the planet, I always thought we’d be coming back home. This was the first assignment I could get that brought me back to you."
He shared stories of deep space and black holes, meetings with new races from other galaxies. He’d never remarried after Harmony’s organ replacement had failed. Without any children, he outlived his family and was painfully aware he was alone in the universe.
After a couple of hours, he vaguely registered his computer warning light. Oxygen levels were running low. His commanding officer was probably urging him to answer and open radio communications, but the truth was he hadn’t come back home to retrieve the ancient books for the Federation.
He came back home to be with Harmony.
He had no intention of leaving her now.
His breath was shallow and his face shone with a thin layer of perspiration. He rolled onto his back and stared up at the stars. High above, he could see the outline of a brown planet, surrounded by a haze of gases. Earth. The first forgotten planet.
He’d never been on Earth. Mars was the only planet he’d ever called home.
He closed his eyes and exhaled his last breath. Somewhere in the recesses of his mind he heard her voice calling to him. His lips curved as his heart went still.
"Welcome Home, Briggs. I missed you too."