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CHAPTER
ONE

The Object

Set reverse thrust to full power.” The calm and clear voice of the Commander broke the silence of the room.

“Copy, Commander. Setting reverse thrust to full power,” a voice called out.

“Ship status?” the Commander asked. There was no answer. “Pox, status!”

“Uh...oh, sorry Commander,” Pox said. He turned his head back to his station and scanned the grid of screens that sat before him. “All systems operating normally. No issues being reported from any sector.”

“Thank you,” the Commander said. “Pox, we plan on being here for a minimum of a few days. Probably a week or two. When you are on duty at your post I expect you to be alert and working. You’ll have time to stare out the window at it when you aren’t on post.”

“Of course sir,” he answered nervously.

“Also, send a message back home that we have arrived and relay the ship’s status.”

“Yes, Commander,” Pox said. “I’m estimating about fourteen minutes for the signal to reach home.”

“Thank you. Officer Licia, reset reverse thrust to seventy-five percent power,” the Commander called out.

He didn’t look at Licia. He stared out of the window as well. He, like the others, was mesmerized by the object that they were approaching.

“Copy, Commander. Thrust is reset to seventy-five,” Licia answered in her own confident feminine voice.

“We should start of physics scan of the object, Commander.”

The Commander turned his head towards Dr. Lightwing. He still wasn’t quite used to having a civilian on his crew. It was fairly commonplace in the Cosmos Program. It had been practically unheard of in the military. He had never experienced it in the twenty years he spent serving. He then joined on the Cosmos Program five years ago and there were too many of these scientists already involved for the military officers to bring their standards of operations over as common practice. It was too late to change things. It was inevitable. It was a science program after all. He supposed he was lucky to be here at all. He had spent time commanding ships at sea and then crossed over to fly aircraft. He and a few others with very similar military career paths became prime candidates for the Cosmos Program.

Dr. Lightwing knew of the standards of operations quite well. He had spent a decade in the military in his younger days. Nobody forgot these standards. You would spend the better part of your first year in getting the standards permanently ingrained into your DNA. The Commander was fairly certain Dr. Lightwing purposely ignored them now that he had the prestigious status of ‘Doctor’ attached to his name. Not only that, the Doctor was one of the few genius minds behind the creation of the Cosmos Program.

The Commander looked into Dr. Lightwing’s eyes as he considered the suggestion. At least the Doctor didn’t blurt out the orders on his own. He...suggested his requested actions out loud, however. The Commander could tell sometimes that the Doctor thought that he should be commanding the ship. It was probably the reason he spent so much time here in the command sector when he had his own entire science sector at his disposal. It was a tiring battle with this man. Why couldn’t he relegate himself to his own part of the ship and let the Commander do what he does best? Any vessel; boat, airplane, or spaceship, could not function properly with two commanders. He had to choose his battles carefully with this man. This one thing, a simple command spoken as a request, seemed so trivial. However, the thousands of things the Doctor did that seemed trivial added up quickly. The Commander could tell that the crew was sometimes unsure if they should be immediately acting on the Doctor’s requests like they do for his own commands.

The Commander sighed, “Yes, Dr. Lightwing, you may begin a physics scan.” He concluded this was one of the trivial items to let go. However, he probably wouldn’t be able to forget it. If he had to bring up the issue of who is in charge with the Doctor again, he would surely mention it along with a long list of other events that gnawed at him.

The Commander watched Dr. Lightwing motion for the science crewman to start the scan. He turned back to his duties. He studied the data being fed to the screen that was mounted to his chair.

“Officer Licia, reset the reverse thrust to thirty-five percent,” the Commander said, continuing with his duties.

“Yes, Commander,” Licia said. “Reverse thrust re-set to thirty-five percent.”

The Commander watched his screen again. He was calculating and analyzing in his head. He wanted to stop the ship at a safe distance from the object, but what was a safe distance? They didn’t have a clue what this object was, let alone if it was dangerous to the point of needing a vast distance in between a ship and it for safety. He decided this arbitrary point in space was close enough.

“Officer Licia, initiate full stopping thrust procedures.”

“Yes, Commander,” Licia answered.

The command sector of the ship became mostly silent again. The hum and rumbling of the engines firing in the stopping sequence could be heard through the ship’s walls. Everyone had become used to the constant engine noise over the months long journey and hardly ever noticed it anymore unless they consciously focused on it. Dr. Lightwing and the science officer could be heard murmuring among themselves. The lighting was always dimmed to conserve energy. An extensive portion of the ship’s electricity was consumed in the command sector. There were dozens of computer screens embedded in the walls and dozens more at the crew positions. Their glow is what gave off most of the illumination in the room. Officer Licia and the Commander seemed to be the only two focused on their screens. They were ensuring the stopping sequence was being completed as it was supposed to. Everyone else stared out of the window at the dark object that was suspended in space.

This was no ordinary object. In fact, all of the long distance sensor scans couldn’t help the scientists at the Cosmos Program figure out what it was. The program sent satellite scanners which never returned any data. Eventually, Dr. Lightwing insisted on a manned mission. The timing was perfect. Manned missions to study nearby planets had nearly come to a halt. Those missions returned home basically empty handed. They brought back no new information. It was all the same data that the unmanned missions had collected and returned with. The immense budget spent on these projects sickened the public after finding out nothing new. The Cosmos Program could have kept the money and used it for better purposes. Or, the government could have used it for something more meaningful.

Dr. Lightwing immediately acted to save this portion of the Cosmos Program when the unmanned satellite sensors seemed to disappear. He would personally join on this mission. He was one of the few remaining scientists that founded the Cosmos Program that had yet to go on a manned mission. This would be his shot to save the manned missions and to go into space all in one single hurrah.

The object’s surface seemed to swim and swirl. Maybe it was just their eyes. It was a sphere of blackness among the vast blackness of space. If you stared at nothing long enough then eventually your mind would start to imagine there was something there. Its mystery drew everyone in. A few of the off-duty officers had come to the command sector in the excitement and anticipation of the arrival to the object. Was everyone imagining the same mesmerizing display? As the Commander stared at it, he thought of it as being deep down in the sea. Almost no light. What little you could see with your own lighting would illuminate a particle or two swirling along in the passing current. It would feel like a vast nothingness. Spending a good portion of his military career at sea, the Commander, of course, spent a lot of time in the water.

Dr. Lightwing was considering the object more from his analytical mind comparatively to the Commander who was drawing from his personal experiences. The Doctor imagined what the physics scan would return. Perhaps if they could light up the object in some way. Maybe a spotlight. It was so vast. Could they remain safe and still get closer to it? He couldn’t wait to begin an orbit of the object. They would be able to get a full physics scan and be able to view it from all angles. Were they unable to fully observe the object due to the lack of light? Was it like trying to view something in the dark? You would have to look through your peripheral vision and even then you could never fully focus on it as desired.

A series of low volume beeps came from the science officer’s workstation as data was beginning to return from the physics scan. Dr. Lightwing sat down next to the officer and took over the keyboard. He tapped out a few commands and swiped at the screen with his finger as he reviewed the available data. He stopped on one screen. Something on it seemed to grab his attention.

It wasn’t so quiet in the room anymore. The crew was beginning to discuss their theories on the object: what it was, how it got here within their solar system, and what it was going to do. Most everyone besides Dr. Lightwing and the science officer had gathered around the Commander in the discussion. The mood was light and was bordering a child-like excitement. The Commander seemed not to mind the informality. He was just as excited about the mission and their arrival to the object as the rest of the crew. He was normally quite strict about his command sector always operating under the standards of operations.

“Commander,” Dr. Lightwing said. There was too much conversation in the room now for the Commander to hear him. “Commander,” he said more loudly. “I think we have a problem.”

The crew fell silent. The Commander rose from his seat.

“What problem?” The Commander asked.

“Well, actually...problems.” Dr. Lightwing said.

“Enough stalling,” The Commander said. “Just tell me. What is it?”

“Initial data being returned from the physics scan indicates that this object has level of gravity that is completely unheard of for something that size.”

“What do you mean? Too little? Too much?” The Commander hated having everything so drawn out for him to get the information he wanted.

“Too much,” Dr. Lightwing answered. “Way too much. It’s probably equal to several of our own suns. This object is probably the reason behind some of the problems our planet is having.”

“What problems are those?” The Commander asked. He had many more questions about what the Doctor was saying but held off with just this one for now.

“Ocean currents, tides, marine life, weather patterns. I mean, you name it, there have been some alarming changes in the past couple of years and specialists in those fields are still trying to figure out why.” Dr. Lightwing was staring out at the object as he answered the Commander. He turned back. “This would be the reason why our satellites never sent back any information.”

“They were programmed for an object with a lot less gravity,” the science officer interrupted.

“Exactly,” Dr. Lightwing said. He continued, “The object would have immediately pulled them in as they attempted their orbit.”

“You said problems. Plural,” the Commander said. “What else?”

“Oh yes,” Dr. Lightwing said. “It has to do with the gravity of the object as well. It seems to be growing. It also appears to be emanating from the object in waves. It’s as if it were pulsating. It’s still the early data and further physics scanning will be required for more accurate information. It is certainly drawing us in.”

The Commander reared his head around to his monitor. He tapped the screen a few times. The closure rate was displayed.

“There are certain things, Doctor, you need to learn to lead with,” The Commander said through gritted teeth. He was now clearly angry. He sat back in his chair. “Everyone back to your posts. Everyone not on duty needs to exit this sector. Pox, send word to the other sectors for everyone to their posts. Officer Licia, run the scenarios.”

She immediately knew what the Commander meant, but still clarified. “Turn around or reverse?”

“Yes, Officer Licia,” the Commander answered. His voice was becoming calmer as his command sector was returning to order. The sense of urgency in the room, however, remained as thick as a dense, impenetrable fog.

Officer Licia immediately went to work at her post. She tapped her screen and then typed out the necessary commands. Her workstation communicated with the many systems of the ship. It collected and analyzed all of this data, including the results from the physics scan, and applied it all in accordance with her proposed scenarios. It only took a few seconds for the solutions to return and display on her screen.

“What’s our exit scenario, Officer Licia?” the Commander asked.

Officer Licia’s normal serious demeanor melted away. Her mouth was silently opening and closing; her lower lip beginning to quiver. She was without words. She shook her head.

“Commander...there’s...it...,” she stammered.

“What is it?” the Commander demanded.

“The computer says there is no solution,” Officer Licia said nervously. “The computer even automatically analyzed other possible solutions. There’s...nothing.”

The Commander couldn’t accept that there was nothing he could do. His mind was already visualizing his own solution. He pictured it as if they were already in the middle of the maneuver. He quickly tapped a few times on his command screen.

“Everybody strap in,” the Commander said in a loud and authoritative tone. “Secure your stations. Pox, send word for every sector to do the same, alert emergency ready. Come right thirty degrees. Nose up fifteen degrees.”

Shouted responses from the appropriate positions were partially drowned by the cacophony that followed the Commander’s instructions. Pox could be heard over the loudspeakers relaying his instructions from the Commander. Echoes of Pox’s voice from speakers outside of the room only added to the confusing babble in the command sector.

“Full forward thrust. Hold the ship’s position angles throughout the thrust until I say otherwise.” The Commander was barking out the orders with the expectation that they’d be followed perfectly and without question.

“Forward?” Officer Licia asked. Her anxious and worried look was morphing into a confused and worried look.

Dr. Lightwing immediately assessed what the Commander was planning. “Commander, the computer would have already analyzed your plan.”

“FULL FORWARD THRUST!” the Commander shouted to stop the questions and comments. “The computer said there was no solution. I can’t sit here and do nothing.”

The floor went silent as most of the crew realized the ramifications of what the Commander and Dr. Lightwing were saying. They were glancing among each other communicating their growing concern through the expressions on their faces. Dr. Lightwing slowly sat back in his seat. He connected the buckle’s clasps together with a snap; a look of surrender coming over his face as he watched the Commander. The Commander stared straight forward out of the window with his jaw clinched tightly.

Officer Licia typed quickly to set the thrust to full power. The input of such a drastic power change caused the computer to alert the engines of a new thrust scenario. While outside of Earth’s atmosphere in the vacuum of space, they would normally power slow and steady with the ion drive. This alert scenario sent a burst of fuels and fire to the ship’s gravity escape engines. All within seconds of Officer Licia’s input, the ship jolted forward. The crew flew back in their seats; the G forces drawing them tightly in.

The ship rocketed along. Thirty seconds into the Commander’s plan, bright red warning lights began to flash and alarms began to blare. The Commander ordered the alarms to be silenced. The dark room temporarily lightened every couple of seconds with the red glow from the pulsating light atop Pox’s workstation. Beads of sweat could now be seen forming on the Commander’s fear-filled face.

The ship continued it’s aim off the side of the massive ominous object. The Commander was well versed in the maneuver he was attempting. It was common practice for the manned missions. They would perform a very similar maneuver to enter an orbit around a planet they intended to study. They would also perform the exact maneuver the Commander was attempting if they were only going to do one pass of a planet. The purpose of the maneuver was to use the gravity of the planet to propel the ship back home and conserve fuel while still being able to collect the necessary scientific data for a short mission. It was performed more often in the early years of the manned mission program as they were just beginning to learn the perplexing mysteries of space travel.

“Come right another fifteen degrees!” the Commander barked.

Between all the vessels the Commander had been on, he had built up a sixth sense. After a certain amount of time on a ship, he could close his eyes and feel its movements, even in space. This was one of the special moments when he was completely in tune with his ship. Through all of the disarray, he knew the ship wasn’t following the textbook maneuver.

“Are we at full thrust?” the Commander asked through the cacophony. He already knew the answer.

“Yes,” Officer Licia yelled in return.

The low rumble of the ship’s engines had turned into a loud rumble coming from...everywhere. There were creaks and moans emanating from all corners of the ship. It was all confirming the Commander’s fears. The reason he ordered the additional fifteen degree turn. The reason he hoped they had mistakenly not reached full thrust yet. The immense gravity of the object had locked onto their ship. It was pulling them in. The Commander felt the slipping motion towards the object through the void of space. A new scenario took flight in the Commander’s mind. He surmised that their only hope now was to enter a low orbit around the object and hopefully be able to use their gravity escape engines once again to exit the orbit. They were way off course to enter the Commander’s original plan of an outer orbit.

They were now within several hundred miles from the object. The Commander ordered another turn to attempt the orbit. Officer Licia responded through her sobbing. She had already concluded what their fate would be. The turn for this last-ditch effort should have taken place miles and miles ago at this speed in order for the best successful chance. If this worked, they would be at least ten miles lower than the lowest safe orbit. Potential orbital decay would be greatly increased at such a low orbit.

The Commander suddenly realized this wasn’t an object as his eyes searched it over. There were theories that it was something similar to a small planet or a rogue moon that was joining the outer reaches of their galaxy. Dr. Lightwing noticed it as well. There was no defined horizon. This wasn’t a planetary body at all. At this distance they should be able to see...something. It was still a deep, dark void that caused their imaginations to run wild. It seemed as if matter along the edges was drawn to it. Was their vision distorted? What was this thing doing to them? The light from distant stars seemed to bend into the void and disappear. Was their ship doing the same as those stars?

The Commander could no longer perceive and comprehend what was happening on his own command floor before him. The constant rumbling noise was now deafening. His command post sat a step higher and at the back of the room so he could overlook everyone’s positions. His crew appeared to be elongating and distorting. What was normally ten to fifteen paces across the room now suddenly seemed to continue into infinity. His hands trembled in fear. He reached out an arm in his confusion. It was an attempt to grasp at something, at anything to help him understand what his eyes were telling his brain. His mind could not process this impossibility. His arm drew out far away like the room and workstations were, stretched beyond their physical possibility. He couldn’t even see his own hand. Were his fingers reaching in and touching some new world? Was this some sort of new reality inside this object?

Surely the whole crew had now accepted their fate as the Commander had done. He almost welcomed it now. He was intrigued as much as he was confused. A crushing pain overcame him. He could no longer think through any of this. He reached forward with his other arm. Reached into infinity. He was drawn closer. He propelled himself further forward. Was he even on his ship anymore? He felt as if he was floating. His view was of an infinite tunnel that didn’t even resemble the command sector.

Suddenly he was surrounded by a white nothingness. The tunnel was gone. How could this be? The object, or whatever the black void was, had been a sea of darkness. He was now being blinded by the all-surrounding white light. Where was his crew? Was he still on the ship?

How much longer would he have any perception? Was he doomed to die in this white void? Had he already died? Is this one of the next steps in death? Was he alive and about to reach a new world? He could no longer see anything but the sea of white. He could no longer hear anything except what his brain was imagining. Memories of an orchestra started to play loudly in his mind. It had been a graduation or some military ceremony. It was a bright and cheery song that played in the background as people drank merrily and mingled among each other. He remembered liking the song so much that he mentioned it to several people that day. The sound was so real as if he were listening to the band only feet away.

Memories from his life began to play out in front of him as if they were a movie on a screen. A scene of running in a park with his brother. One at the family dinner table with his parents and brother. One of his military retirement. One where he was shaking hands with a group of scientists as he was joining the Cosmos Program. The last one of the arrival to the “object”. The last one played over and over in front of him. It let him take in every detail. He could see the emotions on the faces of every crew member. He watched his own emotions, the excitement at their arrival to the “object”.

He watched it over and over and over as he faded away into the white void.

CHAPTER
TWO

Cortland Carter

I paced back and forth along the side of the building on the grassy hill. I had to make sure I was out of view of the main entrance around the corner. As I had approached the building, I spotted the picnic table surrounded by trees on the grassy rise and figured it was as good as any other place to have my little anxiety attack. Luckily, the trees blocked the view from the windows. It was still early enough in the day that no one would be taking their lunch at this time and I could hopefully have some peace. Although, this could be the choice spot for smokers. Whatever. I only had about twenty minutes to kill before I should meander upstairs for the interview. It would still be early, but not too early as to appear desperate.

This was to be my third job rejection this week. Well, I shouldn’t assume that I’d get rejected. It was the going rate for me, though. I’ve lost count of how many jobs I couldn’t secure in the last couple of months. It was probably dozens. My interview on Monday morning was an almost too quick of a “sorry we aren’t interested in you.” It was my own fault, though. I had arranged two interviews for the week on a Saturday! I had never managed to do that in my months long job search. Dave, an old college buddy, showed up in town on Sunday and coaxed me out to the bars. I probably still reeked of alcohol as I sat down for the interview. It was my favorite prospect to date and I ruined it to hang out with someone I rarely talk to anymore. I was probably third or fourth on Dave’s list of people he wanted to hang out with. Either way, we had a lot of fun. Too much fun, unfortunately.

I was perusing tech companies online after my second rejection of the week on Tuesday and came across a moderately sized company that I had heard of, Alpha Zulu Software Solutions, but didn’t even realize was located in Denver. They had a programmer opening, exactly my field, and my resumé is always impressive enough to schedule an interview. Further research confirmed that they used to be in California and had moved to Colorado the previous year. I had hoped to stay in Boulder, but I could handle the traffic to Denver. At this point I would compromise a lot of the ideals in life that I’ve held, especially if it meant that I could be employed.

I sat down at the picnic table and glanced at my Omega watch, an expensive reminder of my more successful days in the programming world. A thin beam of sunlight glared off of the face. I shifted my wrist slightly to see I had about five more minutes before I should make my way up to the third floor where the human resource department was located. I wondered if I would have to sell the watch. I had received a bonus for coding a wildly successful program about ten years earlier at my first programming job. I splurged on the watch and a few other luxury items. I could probably fetch a couple grand for it now. It was originally five grand. Obviously this made my mood sink to the ground.

Of course, the company held the copyrights and patents for my work since they were my employer and I signed the agreement to give them those rights. That meant I wouldn’t be receiving any royalties. That same company laid me off last year with a small severance package. My savings are now dwindling. The severance package is due to run out in a couple of weeks. It’s hardly enough to cover my basics. Severance, what a word to use when being kicked to the curb. I was severed and left to bleed out all of my savings. That company probably made millions with my software. A new group of young up-and-comers that knows all the same coding I know and also the latest trends would come along about every decade and push the relics out. They would do it for half the salary. I suppose when I was hired it was probably to cut costs on salaries for the senior programmers. I guess that makes me a relic. Crazy to think, I just turned thirty-nine.

I stood and drew in a deep breath. The smell of freshly cut grass hit my nose. The early summer day was warming quickly and I could tell my anxiety attack and all the pacing was going to make me start to sweat in my button down collared shirt. I adjusted my tie and decided I should head inside. Anxiety attacks weren’t really my thing. I think the continuous job rejections were getting to me. I also didn’t want to stink of sweat for the interview.

I entered the building and the sudden temperature change washed over me. I found the elevators and hit the button for the third floor. As the elevator rose, I flipped through the pages of my resumé to make sure I had everything and that it was in order. I wandered down the third floor hallway and made one last pause before entering the human resources office. I gathered my thoughts for a moment and then turned the knob and stepped in. Everyone appeared to be happy and in high spirits. This helped brighten my own mood and I thought maybe it was a good sign for the interview.

I met Joyce, a petite, middle-aged blonde in a pantsuit. She guided me back to a small conference room. She said Lewis and Denise would join me any minute. I had been to dozens of interviews in the past couple of months and I had never gotten that nervous. For some reason, having me sit in the conference room alone before the interviewers arrived seemed like the most nerve-racking experience for me. It made me feel like I had done something wrong. I had to tell myself that I was starting to get in my own head. I closed my eyes and stretched my neck from side to side to hopefully ease the tension.

The door opened and I immediately stood to greet Denise and Lewis. All my worry seemed to drain away. Unfortunately, interviews were becoming commonplace for me and my comfort level was returning to normal.

“Hi, I’m Denise,” she said.

I noticed she was quite attractive. Her hair was a deep red and she also wore a pantsuit. I guessed she was near my age. Hopefully this wouldn’t be a distraction for the interview. I wasn’t, what you’d call, always good with the ladies.

“Hi, Cortland Carter, nice to meet you,” I said.

“And I’m Lewis,” the short, skinny man said as he shook my hand.

He wore thick glasses and a burnt orange plaid button down. Not exactly what I’d consider fashionable. I couldn’t imagine any scenario I would ever wear that shirt. He was obviously a fellow programmer and my type of person. I spent over a decade working with the programmer type and a few years before that in college. The majority of my friends I made over the last decade were of this same general type. I felt like I was a slightly different personality but fit in well. I could usually socialize easier than the typical programmer type. Well, other than my problem with talking with attractive women that I am interested in.

“So Cortland,” Denise began, “I just want you to know before we start, we just filled the position earlier this morning. Even so, we’d still like to proceed with the interview if you are willing. We have someone on staff that will be retiring in a couple of months.”

Of course, I thought. I tried to hide my shriveling soul as best as I could.

“Oh okay,” I said. “That was fast. I would definitely still like to do the interview.” I was lying. I didn’t have a couple of months. I might as well still go through with it just in case I don’t find anything for a couple of months and they decide to take me. I need a job sooner rather than later.

“Good,” Denise said, “I do remember being impressed with your resumé when I saw it in my email.”

“Excellent,” I said, “that’s good to hear.”

Then why didn’t you interview me before selecting someone?

I was thinking that it might be good that I was annoyed by Denise for not interviewing all candidates. I could now see through her attractiveness. Perhaps I would be more well-spoken for the interview.

Denise did most of the questioning. I felt like it was one of my best interviews, unfortunately, it was probably only to be a practice run. I’d have to remember to check in every couple of weeks so she would remember who I was. What I’d rather have happen is that somebody else hire me and I wouldn’t have to see Denise again.

Lewis spent a little bit of time reviewing some of my accomplishments from my time at my last employer. He reviewed the coding languages I was well-versed in and made sure I kept up with the latest updates.

The whole interview was complete in about thirty minutes. I left Denise and Lewis a couple of copies of my resumé and headed to the third floor lobby. I had been taken back to the conference room as soon as I had arrived so I never got the chance to get a free cup of coffee from the lobby. I snagged a fresh cup and took off for home to browse the same online employment websites I always did.

On my way home, I decided that I would stop at a coffee shop for some all-you-can-drink coffee and use their free wifi to do some job searching. If you had your own cup, they would only charge half price. I found one of my mugs on the floor of the backseat of my car. Man did I feel like I was becoming cheap. I was fretting over using up my own coffee at home and was planning on spending seventy-five cents to drink coffee all afternoon. I used to spend five bucks every morning on my way to work for a designer latte. I grabbed my laptop and headed in.

The rich aroma of freshly ground coffee beans was as thick as fog. It was like heaven to me. I bet there could be a decaying skunk laying on the floor and you’d never smell it over the coffee. I suppose I could get a job in a coffee shop and forget I ever went to college to be a programmer. Okay, maybe not. I shouldn’t give up. I don’t want this smell to get old. I like it too much. I bet the staff here can never really remove the coffee smell out of their clothes.

Hours passed by while I searched employment sites, programming forums for any decent rumors, and tech news to find highlights of big companies that may be hiring. I must have started my job search months ago during a hiring boom. It seems now like I was slightly behind the wave. All of the tech companies must have filled all the positions and their projects are well under way with their new arrivals at the helm. They are probably getting their pockets tailored with extra stitching to hold all the excess cash that certainly isn’t coming my way.

I pushed my computer towards the center of the table and sighed. I went and refilled my mug at the self-serve pot. The college-aged blonde behind the counter shot me a judgmental look. She was the one that collected my handful of change a few hours earlier. I acted as if I hadn’t noticed and turned back to my table. I set my full mug to the side to let it cool for a few minutes. The steam swirled over the surface of the black liquid.


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

I live in Northern Colorado with my wife and two children. I'm a graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and work as an air traffic controller. I've previously published a book in the dystopian/post-apocalyptic genre where it became a Top 100 Bestseller in those categories on Amazon. I enjoy writing across multiple genres and always try to include some comedy in my writing as life can be quite humorous. Even the most serious stories can be enhanced by some comedy.

Q. What is the inspiration for the story?
A.
Having been born in the 1980's, science fiction was a huge part of my childhood. I can't even count how many times I've watched the Back to the Future & Star Wars series. The writer's that have influenced my writing are Blake Crouch, Peter Clines, Jason Hough, & Patrick Lee to name a few.
Q. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
A.
The hardest part of writing this book was the editing & re-writing. I had some very helpful people beta-read Barrier Rip and they gave some very beneficial feedback. With helpful feedback, there is always some re-writing and changes to make. It's not always fun, but in the end it's worth it.
Q. Why do you write?
A.
Because the stories keep popping into my head! I am constantly reading and being inspired to write more and more. I have lists of all kinds of ideas that are in different stages of development. Mainly, I write because I love to and I always hope my readers will enjoy the worlds and stories I create.

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