This week marks the beginning of an epic journey for Speculative Faith fans. Better put, it is a exploration…an adventure in which the destination is not fully known.
But first a confession.
Over the past few months I’ve enjoyed sharing my thoughts about a variety of subjects related somewhat to the theme of speculative fiction and faith. However, as a fiction writer I must admit I’ve been getting a bit weary of writing topical discussions related to speculative fiction and its relevance in our world. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t enjoy discussing those things – I do. Rather, I think the creative writer in me is dying to write…well…speculative fiction and not just talk about it.
So, here’s what I propose.
Tuesdays are going to be a bit different for Speculative Faith fans. Instead of talking about speculative fiction, we’re going to write some together. Each Tuesday, if you choose to join me, I’ll be posting a new chapter of an ever growing speculative fiction story I’ve been batting around for a few years called “The Last Son of Earth”. It’s an idea, a concept really, but the story has never fully been fleshed out and I have no clue where it will ultimately take us.
I’ll be writing a chapter every week. You’ll be helping me write it by adding your comments and ideas about what has been written and what will be written. Week by week, chapter by chapter, the world of our combined imaginations will begin to grow.
Serial fiction is nothing new, of course. Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Alexander Dumas thrived in writing serial fiction. I don’t expect our story exploration to be anything nearly as polished and timeless as they have accomplished in their works, but it will be a fun way to explore the emergence of a story and let you “peek into the process” a bit.
I imagine the short story will take a few months to complete in its first draft form…but it may take longer. I’m not sure how far we’ll get with it, but together we’ll have some fun.
And so, without further ado, I present to you my first installment of the first chapter of the Last Son of Earth.
Prologue: The Parting
“Stay,” Alana pleaded, desperate for her husband’s answer to be something other than the one she knew it was. She had known for a long time this day would eventually come. The telegraph he had received this morning confirmed her worst fears. Tonight was it, the Restoration would make a stand and her husband would lead the charge. Over the years she had hoped, even fooled herself into believing, that somehow this day would never come. Now, here it was, and there he was, packing feverishly to leave her and their only child behind – likely forever.
She watched helplessly as he retrieved a sweater from his locker and moved back to the bench where his container waited to be filled. Every item was another nail in the coffin of their life together.
Alana moved in close and took hold of his arm, pulling herself against him in hopes of capturing his attention. Anything to slow the moment down.
“Justin, stay with me,” she repeated softly. “Please. You don’t have to do this.”
Justin dropped his sweater on the bench and turned to his wife. He took her pale face gently in his hand and she allowed herself to get lost in his chocolate eyes once more. It was remarkable how much she loved this man. When they had first been assigned to each other she had left all thoughts of love behind. But he was perfect, he captured her heart quickly. Now, she couldn’t imagine life without him.
“Could you really love a man who lived in a lie?” he asked.
“At least I would have a man to love.”
“I cannot keep silent about who we are – about what has been taken from us all. The time has come, Ali, you’ll see. ICON has hidden our true past. Once that is exposed, others will follow the Restoration’s lead. The truth will lead us to freedom.”
“No! You speak like a fool,” she snapped, pulling a full step away from him, “and you will die like one and I will be left alone with the shame of it. To oppose ICON is a death wish.”
“If I stay nothing will change, Ali,” Justin reminded her. “We will both be reassigned and I will lose you anyway.”
He was right, of course. There was less than a year left before the census would determine how the populace would be rearranged. Every four years the men, women and children would be randomly reintegrated into new family units by a system designed to ensure the greatest diversity of thought and keep the roots of family unit shallow. It was, according to the District Masters, the only way to keep allegiance to ICON first in the minds of its citizens.
“I’ve made plans for you and Alden to be kept in safety. There is a hidden Restoration stronghold deep below ground. The Red-Eyes will not find you there. After I leave, Talon will lead you there if you choose. Wait for him. I’ll come back for you when the war is over.”
A knock at the door reminded Alana they were out of time.
“Sir, the gathering is ready,” a strong voice called through the door.
“One minute,” Justin replied. Moving quickly, he reached into his locker once more and retrieved a wooden block hand carved on all sides with curious markings Alana did not recognize.
“This is for Alden,” Justin said handing it to Alana. “If I don’t return, make sure he gets it when he is old enough. Tell him the answer lies in the stars. And tell him, I love him.”
Alana nodded nervously, her eyes welling up with tears.
Justin took her in his arms and embraced her tightly for a long moment. The crude leather and steel of his battle armor kept his heartbeat at a distance. Then, he kissed her gently and moved quickly to gather his things. Everything felt rushed and wrong. Not at all the way she had wanted the parting to go.
“Justin,” she called out after him as he picked up his container and headed for the door.
He turned back to catch her gaze one last time.
“I’ll be waiting.”
Justin smiled proudly.
“I’ll find you.”
Then, he was out the door and he was gone. Gutted, Alana sat on the bench and cried for what seemed an eternity. Her duty as a citizen of the district was to report any signs of disturbance. But her loyalty to her husband and her child tore at her concience.
When she had cried her last tear, she spotted the telegraph machine in the corner of the room and she knew what she had to do.
In a control room across the district, a signal was received and transferred to a supervising ICON officer. It was deciphered and passed along to the District Masters. It seemed an uprising was at hand. If it was a war they were after, the iron fist of ICON would be ready for them.