My first Science Fiction novel, Inertia: Book 1 of the Threestone Trilogy, will be releasing this October 15th. I’m pasting part of an important scene below!
Enjoy . . .
G, a 30-something slacker, is involved in an accident with a mysterious stranger and wakes up in 1996, whereupon G decides the best way to change his crappy life is to prevent the life changing mistake he made as a 16 year-old.
But things aren’t exactly as he remembers. Was his dads nose always so big? Was his depressed mother ever really so happy?
When the strange man from the accident suddenly shows up and helps G out of a jam, G is sure he’s found a new ally, but then he’s never been a very good judge of character.
As a bus approaches, I see it’s the route I need and also a newer model, electric and bendy. This ought to be an adventure. I take a few swigs before the bus stops and the double doors open. There’s a sign posted just below the machine that prints transfers. In bold, red letters it reads, ‘absolutely no food or drink.’ I toss the cup away and board.
Of course, it’s nearly at capacity. I search for an empty seat but the odds are slim as dozens of people are already standing. But I was cramped up in that car all night and don’t mind. I make my way to the center section and stand behind a man who has already taken position at the center pole. I’m gonna take it if he gets off before me. There’s nothing to grab hold of, so I stuff my hand into a plastic strap that’s bolted near my head for balance before the bus takes off.
Most morning commuters are all busy with their headphones and lap tops. I take out my iPod. After a while, the guy in front of me gets off and I step over, making myself more comfortable by claiming the open space. A woman opposite me latches onto the center post at the same time I do. There’s a round faced boy clinging to her leg, teetering as the bus pulls out. I give way, stuffing my hand back inside the high, uncomfortable strap.
Looking into the boys’ small face, a tension sets in. He shouldn’t be standing in a moving vehicle. As I’m searching for someone to volunteer their seat, someone does. An elderly man with a bamboo cane, seated between two teenagers, rings the bell and rises. I see at least three other people try to lunge for the open seat, but the old man holds them back, offering the spot to the woman and her little boy. After they’re securely in place, he departs, hobbling down the steps. And I’ve wasted my opportunity. Another passenger has taken my post.
The bus is moving again and I feel anxious, more so than just a moment ago. I try to ignore it and start going over typical interview questions and answers in my head.
My biggest flaw? I work too hard.
The bus stops once more and there’s a shuffling at the front—more passengers getting on and off. My arm starts to tingle. I use my free hand to turn up the music trying to drown out the distractions and stare at the intermittent spaces between buildings outside the long window. We’re in downtown now. The traffic is heavy but we seem to be catching most of the lights green.
The bus drags, picking up speed to make it through the next light. Cars anticipating the green fretfully inch forward as we pass. One honks.
I’ve faithfully ridden the buses in this city for the past four months and am familiar with the habits of some regular drivers. I wasn’t paying attention when I got on, but this driver possesses a recognizable habit. I can’t see who’s piloting through the crowd but when we go around the next corner, sure enough, the front tires clip the curb. One woman’s lap top falls and half the passengers grumble. An apology booms over the loudspeaker outside my headphones. As the bus straightens, bouncing curls and a face that’s older than one would guess from a distance reflect in the rear view mirror. Paula. Amid my wondering as to why she neglected to say hello when she picked me up—she usually does—I see something I’m not altogether comfortable with.
I can’t say why the sight is so disturbing, but it sends a haunting jolt through me. All I can think are words that mean nothing when used in print, probably because they’re used too often in today’s news stories. Simple, benign letters arranged in a particular way, used to describe a general sense of fear. But seeing their human embodiment here, in front of me, they mean everything. Danger. Threat. Hazard. Terrorist.
Blood drains from my face, pooling in my feet, and cementing me in place as I stare at the bald man about half way up the front section.
He is standing in the middle of an open circle—a wide berth—granted by the wary passengers stuck next to him. Their bodies press against one another forming a wall of flesh to avoid contact. His back to me and maybe that’s why I’m staring so freely. He’s solid, wearing cut off shorts, combat boots and no shirt. While we all watch, he slides on a white tank top and pulls up a pair of red suspenders draping around his waist. It’s not odd to see someone doing these things on the bus. Sometimes you’re running behind and you have to do what you have to do. What I find so striking is the massive tattoo that covers his entire torso. It’s not a collage like most people have, one tattoo bleeding into another. This is a single tattoo, comprised of crude dots instead of lines. It appears to be a snake, a giant black snake, painted as if it’s constricted around his upper body. The thick shape slithers up past the neck of his tank top, onto the back of his neck, where the head of the snake covers his scalp, all the way to the hairline. I watch, alarmed and simultaneously intrigued as he straps on a bike helmet.
Bulging eyes of several passengers rake over him as they whisper amongst themselves. “I hope he’s getting off,” someone mutters.
My music stopped. I look to my hand, checking. My iPod is dead? I’m sure it had a full battery.
Feet and shadows stir up front. Other passengers are moving around as the bus’s interior lights flicker and go out.
He turns his head to the side, staring or listening I can’t tell, but it’s enough to make me look away. Not before I see that he has a filthy beard, long and unruly like it’s never seen soap or a comb. And the unnatural color—it’s too dark for his pale skin. The only other notable feature is the peculiar, almost Grecian way his forehead connects to the slope of his nose. He just looks strange.
A moment later, I turn back. Dying to know what he’ll do, afraid to find out. I’m stuck staring while he pulls a piece of black fabric from a bag set near his feet. He slips his arms inside a long, black jacket and then draws a black backpack from the floor to his shoulders.
A trench coat in the middle of summer? Not a good sign.
He looks out the window on my right. Then turns and starts making his way towards the back. He doesn’t lend a single second to who’s in his way. The crowd just parts like he’s a leper. No one wants to risk touching him.
My eyes are stuck on the faded black coat, wondering what he’s trying to hide. As he approaches, I notice how tall he is. His sudden black gaze sends another shock through me, waking my sleeping mind from this unreal scenario. Instinctively, I shrink away, turning quickly towards the long window.
A woman behind me is on her cell phone, talking urgently in a hoarse whisper. But her fears are useless because they don’t matter.
Not anymore. Nothing does. Not the flickering lights overhead, not the end of the song I’ll never hear, or the threatening man stomping towards the rear. His intentions, whatever they may be, are nothing compared to the real threat, which lies just outside my window.
It’s probably my brain trying to savor its’ last few seconds of life, but each moment seems to stretch. Hundreds of thoughts occur and pass in a microsecond as I absorb everything. The tinted Plexiglas pane, the one I looked through to watch the city pass by, is the only thing standing between every one of us passengers and certain death. We’re on collision course with a shining red and chrome diesel fuel truck. As our bus passes into the intersection, I can tell by trajectory, the truck will strike through the accordion section, my section. It will tear the bus and most of us passengers in two.
My lips are just starting to call the driver when I’m hit—not by the truck, but the creepy bald guy. He’s slamming his shoulder into my stomach. While half of me recognizes that something needs to be done about the nuisance this man is causing, the other half wonders why it matters. It’s not like he can do anything about the huge truck that’s not supposed to be travelling on the inner city roads at this hour and consequently, heading straight for us, poised to burn us all alive when the impact lights the tanker on fire. None of us can. There’s no point in alerting Paula. Both vehicles are going too fast and it isn’t her fault, anyway. Some sort of power outage has all the traffic lights out. The ‘walk’ sign isn’t even blinking.
Next, a terrible ripping noise. It takes a moment to realize it’s coming from inside my body. Another blow smashes against my chest, knocking me off my feet but I don’t fall. My purple hand is stretched beyond its’ natural limitations, held captive to the pleather strap above my head.
Gasps pour from terrified faces as the shiny grill of the huge diesel truck tears through the black rubber covering the side of the bus. Stupidly, some try to run only to stumble from the jerk of impact. I want to shout at them. Where do they think they can run? Others simply cover their faces. The little boy is holding his mothers face between his tiny hands. He’s smiling at her.
Suddenly, the strap breaks and I fly away from the huge tires beneath the roaring engine. The crashes of tearing metal and pain roll through the ruptured cabin. For some reason, my mind conjures an image of Carrie. Life as it was before, when we were still a family. I wonder what it felt like when that car hit her.
I’m weightless, far away from everything around me, except the bearded man. He faces his death as I do, only him first because he’s in front. He’s falling back, too, thrusting his hands out locking the metal grill of the diesel in his grip.
Everything—the people, the walls of the bus, the buildings beyond it and sky outside—all of them bend into a blur—nothing more than shapes in a wisping fog that swirls into the purest blue I have ever seen, shining like the sun while I float.
Another jolt sends my brain vibrating into nonsense. A shower of rainbows lights my tunnel drifting towards the dead.
The book officially releases 10/15/15, but ARC’s will be going out soon! Hit me up via my Contact Page if you’re interested in reviewing and I’ll get back to you ASAP!