Authors: B. Scott Tollison
Tags: #adventure, #action, #consciousness, #memories, #epic, #aliens, #apocalyptic, #dystopian, #morality and ethics, #daughter and mother
B. Scott Tollison
Copyright 2016 B. Scott
All rights reserved. No
portion of this book may be reproduced without permission from the
publisher. For permissions contact:
This is a work of
fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products
of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any
resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses,
companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Cover by B. Scott
Cover font is
'Revolution', with a small modification to the letter R. Font
designed by Saji Johnny Kundukulam. Taken from 1001fonts.com with
permission. All rights to Saji Johnny Kundukulam.
Thank you to Tony and
the team at Jefferson-Franklin Editing for providing a valuable
critique on one of the earlier drafts, and to Jess for reading
through and advising on the second draft. Also, a thank you to
everyone that looked over the various cover variations and offered
their advice. Your help, as always, is much appreciated.
I hope this
message finds you well. I will be as forthcoming as possible. My
name is Abigail Shaw. I'm a teacher and caregiver at a small school
in Sinn on Earth. You were a student of mine, years ago. I'm not
sure you'll remember me but I knew your mother and have found
something of hers that you might be interested in. I believe this
is something better discussed in person. You can find me at number
17, 23rd Street, Sinn. I will usually be home in the afternoon.
'You have to
check it out,' said Belameir.
'It's just some
scam,' argued Seline. 'It's probably that Nigerian prince who keeps
'I doubt it.
She isn't even asking for money. She's offering to give you
something for free is almost the definition of a scam isn't
giving you a place and a time to meet her. Where is Sinn
'It's in the
Insolvency.' Seline sighed, forced her fingers through knotted
hair. 'It's where I grew up.'
'I thought you
didn't remember any of that? I always just assumed you were birthed
by the Void or a black hole.'
'I remember the
name. That's pretty much it.'
'She said she
knew your mother,' said Belameir.
Seline turned and walked into the kitchen, which also served as the
lounge. Unwashed pans and plates were piled up on the floor next to
the tattered sofa. Mould was sprouting from remnants of week-old
onto the sofa which was only an inch of foam away from being the
floor. She rummaged through the inhalers littering the ottoman that
served as their dining table. She held one of the thick inhalers up
to the dim light. Empty. She tossed it aside. Grabbed another.
Empty. Another. She shook it first then held it up to the light. It
was almost too dim to see the small rocks of comet dust sitting in
their glass chamber. She pulled the tab from the side of the
inhaler and watched the rocks in the chamber begin to dissolve into
streams of silver cloud.
appeared in the doorway. 'Don't you want to find out about
'Not if I can
help it,' she said, frowning at the slowly dissolving rocks.
'If I were you,
not, so drop it.'
The cold rush
was already running down her throat. The metallic tasting spores
were sinking into the corroded lining of her throat and lungs. This
message had been the last thing she needed when it had already been
getting harder and harder to fight back the memories. She was ready
to hammer the cap down and let the dust do the forgetting for
The rocks had
almost dissolved. She held the inhaler between her lips, was about
to hammer it down when Belameir snatched it from her hand. She
grabbed at him over the back of the sofa but he was already out of
'Hey! Give that
back!' she cried.
He held the
inhaler up to his mouth. 'It's the only way you'll listen,' he
said, speaking into the inhaler like a microphone.
'Give it here.
I'm not fucking kidding.'
'I know you're
not and neither am I.'
She reached for
him. He stepped back.
'Try that again
and I'll empty the inhaler,' he said.
at him, turned and started searching through the other inhalers and
needles splayed on the ottoman and the floor.
'This is the
last of the comet dust,' said Belameir. 'And we don't get paid
until next week so if you want this hit then you're going to have
to promise you'll follow up on that message.'
searching through the junk needles, holding them up to the light as
if she were enquiring the value of a precious stone.
'Trust me, Sel.
This is the last of any dope we have in here and you need to listen
to me if you want it.'
'Can we not
talk about this like I'm actually going to do it?' she said,
dropping the last of the empty needles and turning to face him.
'You'll do it
if you want this last puff.'
'Why? Why the
fuck should I go back to Earth? What does it matter to you?' Her
voice was strained, whiny. She hated the sound of it.
the one who hears you at night, when you're asleep. It's all
pouring out of you every night when you're thrashing around on the
sofa. Most of what you say doesn't make sense to me but just
hearing you is enough to know that it's going to rip you apart if
you keep trying to ignore it. When you're not screaming you're
arguing with yourself, but you sound... you sound like a kid, like
you're reliving the shittiest moments of your life over and over.
And it's getting worse. I don't know if it's the comet dust or what
but you need to do something, Sel, and since you can't or won't
talk about it, then this Abigail person might just have some
at the words. Anger and a sense of betrayal that she couldn't keep
hidden. Memories she'd held close to her chest (so close that even
she couldn't see) had become available to someone without her
knowing. What else had she let slip?
'My dreams are
none of your damn business,' she said.
'You make it my
business. You make it everyone's business when you scream so loud
the whole west wing of the station can hear you.'
She crossed her
arms over her stomach. 'Just give me the damn inhaler.'
the inhaler an inch from his lips. He shook his head. 'You have to
promise me you'll go back to Earth.'
blew a strand of hair to the side. 'It's not like Zackry will let
me take the time off work anyway.'
Zackry. In fact, I'll call him right now. I was gonna blackmail a
pay rise out of him, but I think I can get you some vacation time
give me the inhaler!' She stepped around the sofa and was about to
charge at him when he threatened her again. 'Take another step and
I swear I'll empty the chamber.'
knew this wasn't like the times he'd asked her before; when he'd
lost the nerve to push past her refusals to answer his questions.
There was certainty in his eyes and a confidence in his voice that
told her he thought he was doing the right thing.
about it, just give me the inhaler.'
'This isn't a
negotiation. Ring Zackry. Ask for the time off. If he says no-'
divert the call to me and I'll tell that piece of shit how things
are gonna work.'
have smiled if she hadn't been so damned angry.
The train doors
slid shut behind her. Dirt, dust, and ash whipped at her face. She
raised her hand to cover her eyes. She could barely open them
against the force of the wind but managed to spot the platform’s
small waiting bay several metres away. Pushing against the wall of
sand she ran towards the safety of the shelter.
forward out of the wind. Her left knee buckled. Her right foot
tried to correct. Both knees hit the concrete. Her eyes were
squinting from the sand that felt as if it had lodged under her
eyelids. She slid from her knees and sat on her side using her left
arm to prop herself up. The air was heavy, thick. She drew in deep
breaths to keep from suffocating. She rubbed her eyes and tried to
take in her new surroundings. A hand extended down towards her.
Slender, almost metallic fingers layered with grey weaving fibres.
She tentatively raised her hand to meet the stranger’s and was
carefully lifted from the ground.
She looked up
at the stranger’s face. Two black eyes stared back at her. At least
she thought they were looking at her. They could have been looking
right through her for all she knew. She avoided his eyes; that
curious darkness that offered nothing but still managed to ask
questions she didn't want to answer. His skin was like a sheet of
green stained glass stretched over the sharp angles of his face.
Thin, pale lines, etched lightly into the plate like surface, ran
in obscure miniature patterns from top to bottom – barely
perceptible under the shadows from the hood draped over his head.
She'd never actually met a Yurrick before; they never seemed to
stop by Yarfor Station.
always look this... human?
excavating the dust from her skin she thanked the shelter’s only
tenant. The stranger offered a simple nod in response and casually
reclaimed his place on the bay’s small bench.
even noticed the train leave. In fact she could barely make out
anything outside the station’s waiting bay. Between the constant
swelling waves of dirt and sand she could, however, see what looked
like the edge of the platform. It ended abruptly and also appeared
to be feeding the large weathered cracks that were running under
the shelter towards a guard rail on the opposite side of the