Sunday, October 15, 2006

Voyage to Xanadu: The books are back ... again

Voyage to Xanadu: The books are back

Apparently, Savefile had to reformat all their hard drives for some reason. So here are the books. Again.


Nope. No books to download. Sorry. I'm re-doing the whole lot. Book 1 may remain mostly the same, but I'm not satisfied with a lot of the plot devices used.

So, hang tight, and I'll get new material out slowly. You'll find samples, however, either on this page or the original publicity page.

Thanks for your understanding!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The books are back is back up. You can now get Book 1 and (if you dare) Book 2.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Dead Link!

Apparently, has gone down the crapper. So you cannot get Books 1 or 2 anymore (for now). I'm looking for another site to put these manuscripts, so bear with me.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Book 2 Preview!

This is primarily here for those of you coming from my "zomfgwtfpwnd" post. This is Book 2 as it exists right now. Parts of it really rock, and parts of it suck donkey balls. But here it is, in all its dubious glory.

Voyage to Xanadu - Book 2

Monday, May 22, 2006

The whole shebang

I'm trying to post the entire book in Microsoft Word format, right here. None of the commentary is here...but I figured people would like to get more than just the few chapters I put up once in a blue moon. If it doesn't work, then it's back to plan A, I guess.

The document you get may not be THE final product that went to the press...I haven't gone through it yet with a fine-tooth comb, but will when I get the time.

In the meantime, enjoy!


Sunday, January 22, 2006

Chapter Two, Part One

It was a dream…or was it?

The mists seemed to swirl endlessly, and it was difficult to tell which way was up. There was no forward or backward, but all directions were the same. It felt as if it were moist, but warm and unusually comfortable. The mist itself seemed to penetrate everything, giving him an odd sense of peace and filling him with light. Each and every individual particle that the mist consisted of radiated its own shining light. Slowly, some of the mist seemed to coalesce into a human-like form, gaining intensity in its brightness until it became near impossible to look at.

Henry was beside himself. Oh, God, not again!

The being became more corporeal and slowly approached Henry. His face was full of kindness and compassion…and a wisdom Henry could only guess at. He, of course, was carrying a wooden box, about the size of a small hope chest. It had a golden "X" carved into the ornate lid. "Here is what you need," the Being said.

"What is it?" Henry asked. AUGH, his mind screamed.

"Inside is the theory of interstellar travel and the plans for the engine."

Surprise, surprise, Henry thought glumly. He wanted to express his outright rage at the situation he was in, but all he could do was follow the script of the dream, like some kind of puppet. "I...I can't take this. I wouldn't know what to do with it anymore. Once upon a time, I dreamed of going into space, leading people into new realms. But now…I don't think I could do it."

"Maybe not, but this is what you had always wanted. You prayed fervently for it when you were young, and now it is here. And it is now your duty to take it. You have been chosen for this mission. You have undergone many trials in your lifetime, all of them subtle, yet perfectly designed for this undertaking. You have been trained for it, and despite your opinion, you can do it. At any rate, that is all irrelevant. It is God's will, and you cannot refute it. The fate of humanity depends on it. Therefore, this is yours." He then handed Henry the wooden box.

Henry gingerly took the box. He should have otherwise been in a state of total ecstasy…but all he could do was feel his stomach turn. The first time he had awakened after this dream, there had been so much anticipation…how many times had he seen this play out now?

He, nonetheless, opened the box to reveal the contents within, as if his actions had been preordained from the beginning of time. Technical documents, drawings, calculations, all seemed so clear to him. It all looked similar to many of the documents he had seen on the internet. Some were different, others were not. He flipped through them as the Being watched him thoughtfully. He had seen that one in his last dream…yep, that was nothing new...wait a minute...

Henry pulled out a paper he did not recognize. As he scanned the document carefully, it was almost as if something hot was just only a few inches from the back of his neck. He could almost make out a name at the bottom of the document...June...Judy...Judy H...

"Remember this," the Being finally said, "if the people sent with you to form a new civilization follow the ways of Earth, who knows what problems will befall you. You may befall the fate Earth is destined for. Your trials will be many, but you and the people who go with you are the last hope for humankind."

In a flash, his attention shifted to a blue entity appearing in the distance. Henry immediately knew what was about to come next. Still…he had this odd feeling he knew what…or who this blue entity was. It seemed to flicker in the iridescent atmosphere, then it seemed to wave its hand in an arcing motion. "Remember God's commandments to you. Love God with all your heart. Love your neighbor as you would yourself. And never forget yourself. Love is the key to everything. Without love, there is no life, or shouldn't be. See for yourself."

I'd rather not, Henry thought with trepidation. But things just would not conform to his wishes. The entity disappeared and seemed to reappear behind Henry–although he couldn't really see the entity anymore, just sense it. The "mist" shifted and swirled–dark tendrils appeared as the scene became even more surreal and otherworldly. And then, the sky was sooty and thick, just barely letting the light of the sun in. Death surrounded him everywhere, as mutated creatures scavenged through the wasteland. Everything seemed to be screaming...screaming in agony...screaming at him...

"Aaaahhh!" Henry screamed as he bolted up in bed, hoping that someone–something–would come and save him from the nightmare. But only darkness greeted him. He fumbled for the light and turned it on, just barely avoiding knocking the lamp to the floor. He looked at his wrist watch, lying on the night stand nearby.

"Three in the god-damned morning!" he growled. "Damn it!" He leaped out of bed and paced, fuming. How many times now? That's the third time he'd had that dream, and every damn time it had been the exact same thing. But this time, something had been different. He stopped, glancing out the window to the darkness beyond. The faint glow of the lamp cast a pale light upon the leaves of the trees only a few yards from the house. The leaves danced in the early morning wind, as if they were ghosts.


"What the hell is going on up there?" his father yelled from downstairs.

Henry leaped, clutching his chest. His heart had already been pounding from the nightmarish vision he had to endure, but the surprise from the booming voice of his father made his heart race even faster. "Nothing," he said, trying to deny everything.

"I heard you scream like the devil was after you. Are you all right?"

Henry sighed. He supposed he shouldn't be surprised his father was now up–that scream had been enough to wake the dead. "Yeah, I'm fine. Just a nightmare."

Silence for a moment. "Do you want to talk about it?"

That was his father, all right. Always seemed quite interested in his dreams for some reason. Henry closed his eyes and sighed. The monsters dimly walked across his inner vision. He shook his head violently. "Maybe that's a good idea," he said with resignation. He grabbed his jeans, put them on and walked down the dark stairway to the living room below. His father was there. The light of the night light cast long shadows across his face. He looks dead, Henry idly thought. He grimaced slightly, wondering why he thought what he just thought.

His father turned and walked into the dining room, turning on the lamp over the table. "Have a seat and I'll make you some tea."

"Thanks," Henry replied, pulling up a chair. He could hear the water run out of the faucet. Henry leaned on his arms and stared at the painting on the other side of the table. It was a painting of a ship, cast in a stormy sea. Henry smirked a little. He had an idea of what those people must be going through. He heard his father put the kettle on the stove. He then walked out. "It'll be a few minutes."

Henry continued to stare at the picture.

His father pulled out a chair and sat just to Henry's left. "So…you want to tell me what happened?"

Henry sighed and drooped his head. "I've had the same dream three nights in a row," he began.

His father nodded thoughtfully. "You know what they say about dreaming the same thing three times in a row..."

"I know. And this dream is way out there." Henry gesticulated with a sweeping motion of his right arm. "A glowing man comes out of a glowing mist, hands me a box filled with technical papers for a starship. Then a second, blue entity appears and shows me a wasteland with mutated creatures in it. And that's where it ends."

"Good God," his father replied, not exactly sure what to make of it.

The two sat in silence for a while. Henry's father lightly tapped his fingers on the dining room table and looked up at the ceiling fan. A slight whistling sound came out of the kitchen, gradually rising in pitch with time.

"There's the kettle," he said, getting up. With a grunt, he dislodged himself from the chair and went into the kitchen. Henry stared at the painting of the ship continually, the clinking of coffee mugs completely outside his perception. Eventually, his father came back out carrying two mugs. Steam lightly rose from the mouths of the mugs. He put one of them in front of Henry, then sat down with his own mug.

"So," his father eventually said, "those dreams have anything to do with you collapsing on your desk yesterday afternoon?"

Henry nodded slowly.

"Thought so," he replied, taking a sip of the tea. "And this is the third night?"

Henry nodded again.

"Mm." He took another sip. "I was wondering why you seemed so incredibly distracted over the past couple days."

"It's a big pain in the ass," Henry grumbled.

"Oh?" His father looked at him with curiosity. "Maybe it's a sign."

"A sign I'm going nuts. I really need to just heed Trumbull's advice–"

"Horseshit," his father bluntly replied. "He's a narrow-minded man who is only interested in making money."

"Well, Pop…that's what we're in business for. To make money."

"Money isn't everything."

But it can make your dreams come true, Henry quickly thought as he recollected his plans in making his dream of traveling in space come true. Not even half a decade ago, he thought he could make it big in the stock market. Perhaps, he thought, if he had millions of dollars, he could fund the research behind such a grand vision: interstellar travel. He had read book after book. He had spent hours doing research on the computer. He had even come to a point where he practically was paying someone to make his stock picks for him. And in the end, he had only ended up several thousand dollars poorer. That was not to say he was still not trying to raise the money for it. Henry believed his father had no idea what kind of effort he had put into pursuing this dream, but instead of saying anything about it, Henry just shrugged.

"You've been investing all your time and money in trying to design a ship, haven't you?"

Surprised by the man's perception, Henry looked over to his father, who was smiling slightly.

"It's no surprise. You spend your free time–and some business time I might add–researching the latest theory in faster-than-light travel. You speculate on the stock market. For what purpose? It's just like adding two and two, you know."

Henry sighed. "Yeah, I've definitely given it thought. I don't know why I'm so obsessed over it. And then these dreams…I'm obviously not supposed to make this pipe dream come true..."

"What makes you say that?"

"I can't raise the cash!" Henry plaintively stated.

"Money isn't everything," his father repeated.

Henry stared at his father, dumbstruck. "What are you suggesting?"

"Nothing. Nothing, but that if God wants you to go on this journey you want so badly, He will make it happen." He took another sip of the tea. "Maybe He's just testing your resolve right now."

Henry shrugged and stared down into the mug filled with the light green liquid. It was not steaming anymore, so he picked up the mug and took a quick swig. The mint and chamomile should ease his nerves enough to get some sleep–what little of it he would be able to get for the rest of the night. "So, what should I do?"

"Just have faith," his father plainly stated. "Only time will tell." He looked over his shoulder to the clock in the kitchen. "Three-thirty," he reported. "Don't you have that trip you're going on tomorrow? I mean…today?"

Henry groaned. He was not entirely thrilled about it. He was going with an old friend of his to see another old friend of his. Sarah was supposed to pick him up at seven–only three and a half hours from now–and she was bringing Derek along. Thinking about it made his stomach twist into knots. "I need to get to sleep," he finally admitted, taking another swig. "On the other hand, maybe I should just sleep in the car."

His father nodded, understanding Henry's dilemma. "Maybe a good idea. Don't know why you're going, though."

"I haven't seen Elizabeth in ages. She just got in from Ohio to visit her family."

"Is Robert with her?"

"Of course. They're inseparable, and they're all good friends of mine."

"Except Derek."

Henry remained silent. Instead, he tried to hold back a frown.

"Sorry." His father took another drink, finishing off the tea. "I, however, need my beauty sleep. You can stay up the rest of the night if you want. Just refrain from screaming, okay?" He grinned at Henry impishly.

"Thanks, Pop." Henry smirked back.

His father got up and walked past Henry, quickly patting him on the back. Henry listened to his quiet footfall, then heard the bedroom door close. He looked down into the half-emptied mug and sighed, silently looking at the reflection on the liquid surface. He was not too keen on traveling with Sarah tomorrow. He did not need that kind of stress right now. Sighing again, he grabbed the mug and finished off the drink. He got up and resolved to get some sleep.

And maybe he would actually sleep soundly for a change.

Chapter One

The Gathering

May 23, 2006

Just another day...

The small, cluttered office was devoid of people, with the exception of Henry, who was currently busy at his computer. The fluorescent lights cast everything in an annoying bluish light. Instead of working, he was currently looking at a web page of some theoretical propulsion device, which could supposedly allow a ship to travel faster than light. Normally, his concentration on his work was strong, but the dream from last night haunted him fiercely. He tapped lazily at the mouse, scrolling through the on-line document. For him, it was just another day spent dreaming. His mind wandered to thinking about all of his efforts: how many months--no, years had he spent on this pipe dream? He tried not to think about it. He tried not to think about all the vain attempts at achieving this 'goal' over the past several years, but his mind would not let it go.

More recently, he had been trying to do the research on his own spare time, and even more recently, during business hours. He essentially owned about a third of the small contracting firm--his father owned the second third; it was doing well, but was beginning to suffer from what the third owner--Geoff Trumbull--called 'delusions of grandeur.' And lately, Henry was honestly thinking about professional psychiatric help. Only yesterday did Henry erase all the files he had on the computer pertaining to faster-than-light research, much to his chagrin. But he had felt it was time to move on and stop dreaming.

And then he had that dream last night.

He had never experienced anything like it before. Henry sighed as he thought about it. Every time he gave up, something came along to prod him along, further into these 'delusions.' And just when he thought he had a hold on his sanity, Fate hit him with its coup de grace. It was almost like the universe was laughing at him.

But something in the back of his mind shouted no—feebly, though. Something wanted him to realize that he should not stop dreaming. Wasn't there a vow he made?

He continued to stare numbly at the monitor, as if drawn into the screen--as if it had some power over him. Or at least, some power over where his eyes were looking. It completely absorbed his attention--so much, in fact, that he was completely oblivious to his father walking in and stopping to look over his shoulder.

"What are you doing?" his father asked Henry.

Henry lurched out of his trance-like state. "Uhh?"

"There's work that needs to be done, you know."

"Yes, Dad, I know that. I'll be done in a few minutes." Henry turned back to the screen.

He leaned a little closer to get a better view of what was going on. "What is this?"

Henry hesitated. He knew his father saw him deleting all his files the other day on this kind of stuff, and now here Henry was again, looking at new files. He didn't tell his father about the dream last night. "Can't tell ya. Top secret," he finally answered, trying to force a smile.

"Uh, huh. Well, don't be too much longer on the computer. The Schmidt's need that foundation plan by the end of today, you know."

"Okay," Henry answered quietly. His father, knowing Henry was not really paying attention, simply shook his head and walked out of the small office.

Henry then proceeded with his distraction. He stopped long enough--apparently thinking of something he needed to do--to flip through the phone book, looking to call one of his friends when the phone rang. Sighing, he closed the phone book and lifted the receiver.

"G&T Enterprises. How may I help you?" he said somewhat dispassionately. Henry quickly reached over and grabbed a pen. "Uh huh..." He found a piece of paper and began writing some information on it. "Uh huh... all right..." His hand quickly controlled the pen. "Very well. I'll have to look into the extra cost, but I'm quite sure we can handle that." He put the pen down and listened some more. "Okay. You too. Good bye." He carefully put the receiver back on the handle. He then leaned back and sighed loudly.

His father walked back in just in time to see the somewhat distressed look on Henry’s face. "What’s the problem now?"

Henry shook his head sadly. "George Carver needs us to complete the plans for his house in two weeks."

"God." The older man leaned against the door jamb and crossed his arms. "I thought he wanted four weeks."

"He did, originally." Henry swiveled around and typed at the computer, minimizing the window with the spaceship technology on it. As it shrank into the corner of the monitor, Henry sighed despondently, closing his eyes and trying to control himself. "Damn it," he quietly cursed.

"Well, looks like a lot of late nights ahead for us," his father said. "I'll let Mr. Trumbull know he needs to get that equipment ordered sooner so we can start construction. Sooner." The man shook his head and walked back out of the office.

Once his father had left, Henry grabbed the pen and angrily tossed it across the room, glowering. He turned back to the computer monitor and fumed over the predicament. Over and over again… always a new obstacle.

Smirking rather ruefully, he maximized the web browser window. Clicking on a different 'favorite', he brought up his stock portfolio. In a flash, the login screen appeared, and Henry typed in the required information. And in a flash, came the news.

"Figures," he quietly said to himself.

His one stock that had been up over forty percent was now only up ten percent from the price he had bought it at. Overall, he saw he was down thirteen percent.

Sighing in resignation, he leaned back in his chair and switched the monitor off in disgust. He looked up at the perforations in the ceiling tile and dazed off... No breaks, no breaks... A billion thoughts of dismay raced through his mind. What the hell is the point? Why do I bother? How long have I been chasing this dream for?

No... not a dream. Trumbull is right. It's just a delusion.

But wasn't there a vow...

Henry looked over at the clock. Four fifty-three. Looking out the window, he bore witness to a beautiful, sunny afternoon. He figured that, maybe, the fresh air would get his mind off of this veritable nightmare, but knowing him, all the atmosphere would do would be to send his mind back into fantasy land. He sighed, shrugged, figured what the hell and got out of his chair to try and salvage the day.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The infamous "Chapter Zero"

I will shortly be posting Chapter 1 to the blog. You may be asking, "if this is chapter 1, then what was all that crap beforehand?"

That was the infamous "chapter Zero." I call it that because most of the Prologue was written after I finished Chapter 1. In the Year 2000 draft (the draft before the "published" one you're reading), the book started with the dream where Henry gets the space technology. However, I felt that left too much to the imagination of the reader; namely, who is Henry and why is he the way he is? So I wrote the Prologue ("chapter zero") later to fill in that gap. The dream with the esoteric technology became part of the Prologue to wrap things up and set the stage for what is to come: Chapter 1.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Prologue Concluded

Four years later.

It was a dream…or was it?

The mists seemed to swirl endlessly, and it was difficult to tell which way was up. There was no forward or backward, but all directions were the same. It felt as if it were moist, but warm and unusually comfortable. The mist itself seemed to penetrate everything, giving him an odd sense of peace and filling him with light. Each and every individual particle that the mist consisted of radiated its own shining light. Slowly, some of the mist seemed to coalesce into a human-like form, gaining intensity in its brightness until it became near impossible to look at. As the shining spirit became more corporeal, more features could be seen: a long, reddish-brown beard streaked with silver, a kind and gentle face that seemed to know love and pain, a flowing robe of pure light.

something familiar…

The being walked closer to Henry, holding something covered in a blue cloth. It pulled the cloth off to reveal a large wooden box. The box seemed to hum as Henry looked at it, and as he looked, his body seemed to tingle.

"Here is what you need," the being said, in a deep, melodious voice.

Henry shifted his attention to the ornate box. Somehow, he knew exactly what was in there. He did not know how he knew, but he did. Nonetheless, he could not help but ask, since he did not know where his "knowledge" came from. Just in case. "What is it?" Henry asked.

"Inside is the theory of interstellar travel and the plans for the engine."

The humming grew a little louder for a moment once the entity stopped speaking, as if to drive the point home. He did know what it was! But how? Because he had dreamed of space since he was a child? Did he still want it? Those dreams seemed long dead, never to be roused again. But that didn’t seem to matter now. He once had a plan for what he would do if he could take colonists or explorers into the vastness of space, but as he grew older…and wiser…he realized that it was too complex of a task for him to handle. He wasn’t sure if he could handle it. What would the entity say if he refused this gift? Would it be taken away forever, never to be seen again? Was he wasting a great opportunity? Or was it really all just a dream? He puzzled at how all these thoughts seemed to buzz through his mind in an instant, and then decided to treat the incident as if it really were just a dream. "I…I can’t take this. I wouldn’t know what to do with it anymore. Once upon a time, I dreamed of going into space, leading people into new realms. But now…I don’t think I could do it."

"Maybe not, but this is what you have always wanted. You prayed fervently for it when you were young, and now it is here. And it is now your duty to take it. You have been chosen for this mission. You have undergone many trials in your lifetime, all of them subtle, yet perfectly designed for this undertaking. You have been trained for it, and despite your opinion, you can do it. At any rate, that is all irrelevant. It is God’s will, and you cannot refute it. The fate of humanity depends on it.

"Therefore, this is yours." He then handed Henry the wooden box. The box was about eighteen inches long, nine inches wide and four inches high. The wood was of a rich, deep pecan, with a gold "X" on the lid. Henry opened the box. Inside were pieces of paper. On one was a design for some type of motor. On another, there was a procedure for power generation. On it was written: "…small version of the AG synchrotron generator will reverse polarity of normal helium electrons. The one to one ratio of normal helium electrons to the antimatter form of helium electrons (positrons) will cause a high-powered explosion resulting in vast amounts of energy. With this much energy being created, a device can be operated that will essentially ‘pull’ a shuttle through the space-time continuum, thus allowing the shuttle to achieve great speeds. Gravitons can be harnessed from the side products of the matter/antimatter collision, which is essential in creating this ‘warp,’ along with allowing for artificial gravity and inertial dampening for propelling the ship when not using this ‘warping’ device…"

The being then said, "Remember this: If the people sent with you to form a new civilization follow the ways of Earth, who knows what problems will befall you. You may befall the fate Earth is destined for. Your trials will be many, but you and the people who go with you are the last hope for humankind."

Somewhere, off in the distance of the mist, he saw another entity, but it had a bluish glow to it. The first robed entity seemed to disappear from view, as if it were never there. Suddenly, Henry found that his entire attention had been fixed on the bright blue entity, but he couldn’t recall ever turning his body to look. The entity waved its hand in an arcing motion at Henry. The blue entity spoke.

"Remember God’s commandments to you. Love God with all your heart. Love your neighbor as you would yourself. And never forget yourself. Love is the key to everything. Without love, there is no life…or shouldn’t be. See for yourself."

The humming of the box began to increase in Henry’s hands until his body seemed to vibrate violently. The blue being started to dissolve into a brilliant mist, swirling and surrounding Henry. The mists began to darken and shift, and a landscape began to form: pictures of trees half dead and a sky of a sooty blue-brown. Fires ran wild across the land. Almost no sun could be seen, and it felt very cold.

The blue entity began to take normal human form as he spoke. He somehow stayed out of direct view of Henry. He said, "Look around. This is the fate of Earth. There is nothing that can be done about it. This is actually a merciful end to the last and one of the cruelest chapters in the history of humankind. Nobody expects this to happen…especially in your current time. But it will happen. The people of the Earth did not follow God’s greatest commandment, and this is the penalty."

Henry continued to view the surroundings. Creatures struggling to find something to eat, others struggling to breathe in the seemingly poisonous air. It almost seemed that all living things in this barren landscape were screaming, screaming in a terrible pain that cut straight to Henry’s soul until it was almost impossible to take it anymore…

Then Henry woke.

Henry jumped out of bed, staggered, and almost fell to the floor until he grabbed the bedpost. He picked up a towel that happened to be left hanging on the back of a chair, left there to dry after a day of swimming yesterday. He mopped his face with it, which was drenched in sweat, and looked around the room, stunned. "Whew, what a wild dream. I can’t believe how…"

That’s when he saw it…something on his desk wrapped in a deep blue cloth. His heart suddenly lurched, which augmented his feeling of surprise. He felt like his head was swimming. Could it be? he asked himself. How could it be? He cautiously made his way to the desk. He stood above the desktop, staring blankly at the shrouded container, hesitating to remove the cloth and open what was inside. After struggling with his senses for a bit, he timidly reached for a corner of the blue cloth, and with a jerk, yanked it off.

There was nothing but a piece of wood he had been carving the night before. On the top was a large "X," which he had just finished that previous night.

Henry dazedly put the cloth back down, sighing. No surprise there. He glanced over to the night stand by his bed. A thick, red binder lay there, open, the pages seemingly glowing in the early morning sunlight. Sighing once again, he plodded over to the binder, grabbed the nearby pencil, and started writing.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Prologue Continued

Twenty-two years later.

Henry sat at the cafe table, staring at his hard hat. He frowned and wiped some sweat off of his brow. Sweat matted his thick, brown hair. The summer had proven to be unusually hot for New England, and Henry didn’t like humid heat. But there was little he, or anyone, could do about it but bear it out. He had a cold beer handy to help cool his insides, so he felt he would manage the heat wave–for a little while, anyway.

He rocked the hard hat back and forth in front of him, absently listening to the rolling sound it made on the plastic table top. Long way from astronaut, he thought to himself. He occasionally would look up to watch the scantily clad people walk by; some of them looking into windows of shops that once could very well have been brownstone apartment buildings.


The man cocked his head. Familiar voice…but he couldn’t put his finger on it. He looked around for the source of the voice.

Two tables away sat a lone man with platinum blond hair. He waved frantically. He picked up his drink and worked his way over to Henry.

Henry frowned. He recognized the man now, but just barely. "Scott…"

"Hey!" Scott sat down at the table, across from Henry. "Long time no see! Funny us meeting up like this. Last time we saw each other, you were gunning for the Air Force Academy, trying to become an astronaut." He gestured to the hard hat. "What happened?"

Henry sighed. He didn’t like talking about it, even to his childhood friend. "My eyes weren’t good enough to be a pilot."

"Oh." Scott’s face remained blank. "Sorry to hear that. So you got into construction?"

Henry nodded, feeling a little numbed by the discomfort of the situation he was now in–trying to explain the past eight years to a friend he hadn’t seen for that entire period. "Engineer. It was my second choice. I spent some time in the Navy, working with the Seabees."

"How did that go?"

"It went well. I made lieutenant, got out, went through a couple crap jobs, then hooked up with this firm." He gestured at the blue and red logo on the hard hat.

"Ah. Don’t know much about them."

"Neither did I. I just marched in, handed in my resume…I guess they were impressed by the guts I showed and hired me."

Scott tried to restrain a laugh.

"What?" Henry frowned and crossed his arms.

"You? Guts? No offense, and don’t take this the wrong way, but you tend to be a little wishy-washy."

Henry’s mouth twisted–Scott was right. Most of the time, Henry would waffle in making a decision. He never felt he had much confidence. But…"When I want something, I go get it. Remember Lisa?"

"Oh, yeah!" Scott leaned back, bemused. "God, for a while there I thought her parents were going to put out a restraining order on you. But she gave in and went with you to the prom. I guess I heard she actually enjoyed your company. Did you two ever keep in touch?"

Henry shook his head. "Went to college and never kept in touch."

"You’ve always been horrible at that," Scott commented, grinning broadly. "I felt lucky…no, no…" He waved his hands around. "Honored…to even get a letter from you over the past eight years."

Henry frowned, his ego bruised. "I sent a Christmas card every year…"

"Ooh! Christmas card! Your childhood friend rates right up there with your weird uncle!" Scott shook his hands in the air. "I’m so impressed by how much of a friend I must be to you."

"Well, you are weird, so I guess that would explain a few things." Henry winked and took a drink of his beer.

"Yeah, like you’re Mr. Normal. Oop!" Scott looked down at his beeper.


"I gotta go. Sorry, dude."

"What are you doing, then?"

"Going for my doctorate in computer engineering."

"You’re kidding."

"Nope." Scott got up from the table. He fished around in his wallet and tossed a business card at Henry.

Henry picked up the card and looked at it. "Professor’s assistant?"

"That’s my boss now. " He gestured at the pager. "I’m doing some research work in Boston before I head back up to Maine. He tells me if things go right, I might have his job in a few years. He intends on retiring soon." Scott changed the subject. "Your parents still live outside of Orton?"

Henry nodded. "My father, anyway. My mother passed away two years ago." He stared at the table.

"Oh." Scott stood there for a moment. "Sorry to hear that." He shook his head wildly and smirked. "God, the world sure has shit on you, hasn’t it?"

"Meh." Henry shrugged and took another drink.

"Well, take care. I’ll keep in touch with you if you keep in touch with me. Deal?"

"Deal. Take care."

Scott waved and walked up to the waiter to deal with his bill.

Henry stared at the brown bottle and frowned. He wanted to tell his friend more, but this wasn’t the time or place. He turned and watched his friend of over twenty years walk down the street towards the skyscrapers. He then turned back to his beer, then looked at his watch. Six-fifteen. No place to go tonight, really.

Henry quickly fought down that feeling again–the feeling of purposelessness. Seeing Scott didn’t help Henry’s battle against the dark monster, and having him talk about Henry’s lost dreams only added to the problem.


Daydreaming, Henry walked across the open lot, looking out over the water of the river to the buildings beyond. The sun shone brightly in the midday sky, and several large cumulus clouds silently sailed overhead. A warm breeze blew, smelling sweet of flowers and greenery. The light of the sun played upon the ripples on the water of the river, and the man felt all was well. His mind was at peace, at least for now.

Before him was an old, run-down warehouse. It was attached to a larger string of warehouses where the construction firm he worked for was located. He had heard rumors that homeless people lived in there at one time, but were chased out by the police less than a month ago. Of course, that didn’t mean the homeless people wouldn’t return. He had heard that when the police had raided the building, there had been a lot of drug paraphernalia lying everywhere, particularly crack pipes. One of the superintendents had been available and on site when the shakedown had taken place, and that was how Henry had obtained his information.

He wondered about the building and what was inside. Drawn by some strange, morbid curiosity, he walked towards the building, careful not to disturb anything. He walked into the shadow of the bleak structure and peered into the dim light beyond.

A lot of broken equipment was inside, among other junk: old fluorescent light bulbs, boxes, crates, parts, and one beat-up pick-up truck, sitting quietly in the middle of the warehouse. Most notably, there were blankets and clothing strewn everywhere. Nobody was inside, though, as far as the young man could tell.

"Hey," someone said from behind.

The man turned around to see one of the superintendents standing fifty feet away, looking at him. "Hey," Henry returned.

"Quite a mess, isn’t it?" the superintendent said as he approached the large open door of the warehouse.

He turned back to the chaos within and nodded. "Anyone still live in here?"

"I think so…I heard there’s a guy named Frank who frequents this place. Pretty slippery fellow…every time someone approaches the building, he just disappears. Probably afraid the police are going to come again. As long as he keeps away from the drugs, he shouldn’t have anything to worry about. But I think he is just a boozer. Man, I tell you, when the cops first raided the place…"

The superintendent rambled on about the events after the raid, but something else had grabbed the young man’s attention. There were two lone figures, just a few feet to the left of the entrance…they were toys of some kind. Two stuffed animals of a strange design…they were mounted on sticks, which were weighted by green blocks underneath, designed to keep the toys upright. One was a rabbit, dressed in a green suit, and the other was a goose in a flowery pink dress. Their arms and wings appeared as if they were ready to embrace the man. The image conjured up strange feelings in the back of the man’s mind–something long ago and forgotten–an age when things were simpler and innocent. He pictured children playing with the toys–he could see the merriment in the children’s’ eyes, and for a moment, it was as if the toys showed merriment as well. The toys stood watch over the children as they played and dreamed…

Dreamed. Something was wrong. Snapped back to reality, the young man could see that these toys had been tossed to the side–they were just barely upright, having been thrown on top of a pile of trash. Their fake fur and feathers, as well as their clothing, were covered in what could very well be years of grime. The goose had a boot print on its dress. Their arms and wings were still stretched wide open, but not in welcome–stretched wide open in fear, in despair, and in loss. The children had grown up long ago, and the dreams they and these toys had were discarded, just like the toys themselves. Slowly, a tear started to form in the man’s eye.

Now thoroughly appalled by the disturbing display, he sharply turned around and retreated back to the light of the sun. The superintendent, interrupted by the abrupt act of the man, turned and called after the man. "What’s wrong? Did I say something?" The superintended looked concerned, and continued to call out. "Henry? Are you all right?"

The man withdrew quickly back into the open lot, trying to force down the desperate emotion that was struggling to surface. Those stuffed toys, they were a symbol. A symbol of all the joys lost in life because someone had been cast away and forgotten, just like those toys. Dreams that had been shattered. He looked back up into the afternoon sky…

A part of him wanted to scream out at the universe. He, too, had dreams. Dreams that could never come true for him anymore. He saw those representations of others’ lost dreams, and it brought him crashing down to Earth. How many others out there had their dreams destroyed by circumstances they couldn’t prevent? He vowed to himself, if he could ever find a way, to latch on to whatever dream would come and never let it go. He’d die first before losing his dreams again. And maybe–just maybe–he could help others do likewise.

But how?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Eighteen years ago...

It was eighteen years, almost to the day (it was early October 1987, that's all I remember) when I first started writing Voyage. Back then, though, it was just called Xanadu. The fundamental premise was very much the same: build a ship with some money and go colonize a distant world. It totaled about 20 or so handwritten pages on yellow legal pad. I still have all those pages minus the first six, so I have no clue how the story started now (not exactly anyway). But that's how Voyage got started. I did nothing to that "manuscript" until late 1989. That bit is for a later entry.


The Past

It was a dream ...or was it?

The five year old boy stood on the edge of a field, staring into the dark woods. Twilight was fading into night. Gently, the sounds of the gurgling brook echoed from out of the forest, and a summer's breeze blew through the leaves, carrying a sweet scent.

A light grew in the woods, at first small and distant, but then brighter; and closer it came. Fearful, the child backed away from the edge of the woods as the light formed into a glowing being that seemed to glide between the trees, approaching ever closer to the frightened youth.

The full moon rose quickly in the east as the being stopped before the child. "Be not afraid," said the being. To the child, it resembled a man--stately in form, with a flowing beard. The being leaned down, saying, "I will not hurt you. I have come to give you news."

The child stared in wonder at the being, who was now kneeling in the tall grass of the field. The being smiled warmly, and the child no longer felt fear, but a sense of love that up until now was unknown to him. "My child," the being said, "the time will come when I will return to you and call on you to perform a task. You must be unwavering in your acceptance. You will not understand everything I tell you now, nor will you remember the details of this vision, but I still must show you what is to come. When the time is right, you will know what you must do."

The moon was high in the starry sky. Like the lyrics to some long-forgotten melody, a voice seemed to carry a short rhyme upon the wind:

In Xanadu, did Kublai Khan
a stately pleasure dome decree,
Where Alph, the sacred river ran
through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

A lone metal bird--the child's father told him it was called an 'airplane'-- soared past the moon. The child wondered where it was heading. When the young boy turned around, he saw that he, too, was far above the land. His heart pounded quicker and he was overcome with fear.

"Do not be afraid," the being consoled. "I am with you. Witness. Even though you may not understand, witness. Let the image etch itself into your mind's eye for you to remember when the time is near." The being gestured to the planet below.

The child could see the oceans, the clouds, the land... it all was so strange to him. The child believed it to be a large ball, just out of reach, colored and decorated like he had never seen before. Suddenly, a bright light flashed from underneath a cloud. ...Then another. And another. The flashes came in such rapid succession that it began to unnerve the boy.

What's going on?

"The future." The voice of the being was thoroughly grave when it responded, and although the child was only six years old, he knew that what was happening on that beautiful ball before him was not good. "We should look closer at what has happened below."

I don't know if I want to.

"I understand, but we will still see." In a flash, the scene changed. Fire consumed the land, and the sky was brown and gray. Some creatures still scoured the land, searching for anything to help them survive. The boy recognized the landscape--he was back at his house, but the house was no more. All that remained was the scorched landscape and a tension in the background, like a scream waiting to tear through the atmosphere.

No more! No more! "No more! No more!" The boy screamed 'no more' over and over again like a mantra.

The father burst through the door in a panic. "Henry! What's wrong?"

"No more! No more! No more!" The child's eyes were squeezed shut, and he continued to scream his simple prayer of protection.

The man ran up to the child and picked him up out of bed. He held the boy tight. "It's okay, Henry. Everything's fine."

Muffled sounds of sniffles came from the child, his face pressed into his father's chest. "It was horrible, Daddy!"

"Easy now..." The father soothed the terrified child as best as he could. He sat down in the small bed and placed the child next to him, who was still sniffing and wiping his eyes. "What happened? Did you have a nightmare?"

"Bad nightmare," the boy blurted.

The father looked out the window to the field beyond, to the forest that hid the stream. Light was breaking in the east as dawn approached. He turned back to the child and held him close. "Tell me..."


The nightmare was long gone, replaced by the warm, golden glow of the afternoon sun. The child played in the field, chasing the seagulls around and laughing as they fled from him. His long, wavy brown hair floated as he ran (his father called it "the rat's nest" and often commented on getting it cut, but his mother thought his hair was beautiful and wouldn't have it). He stopped and watched their flight, awed by their grace in the sky. He sometimes wished he could fly like that.

"Henry!" His father called from the house. "Time for dinner!"

"Yay!" The boy ran up the path and into the house. He blasted through the kitchen, almost bowling his mother over.

"Slow down, Henry!" the mother warned. She carried the steaming casserole out into the dining room, where the father and Henry were already sitting, waiting for the food. The mother smiled at the child and placed the meal in the center of the rustic wooden table. She picked up a large serving spoon and scooped some of the noodle casserole on to the child's plate. She then proceeded to fill her husband's plate as well.

"Did you have fun today?" the father asked.


"How was school?"

"Okay." The child fidgeted at the table, waiting for permission to begin eating.

"Go ahead and start," the mother conceded. After Henry had a mouth full of casserole, she added, "But don't talk with your mouth full."


The mother finally sat down and served herself. She smiled as the three ate in quiet--of course, Henry was busy stuffing his mouth with food. "Slow down, Henry, or you'll get a tummy ache."

The boy looked up from his plate, its contents almost completely eaten. "Sowwy," he mumbled through a mouthful of food.

The father watched his son purposefully. "Did they give you any assignments to do for tomorrow?" he probed.

Henry shrugged. "Yeah." He spooned in another mouthful of food.


Henry swallowed down his food. "I have to tell the class what I'd like to be when I grow up."

His father sat there, waiting for further information while Henry just simply wolfed down his food. "And?" he finally asked again.

"I donno," Henry conceded. "Firefighter, maybe. I donno." He felt, though, there was something else.

The doorbell rang.

Frowning, the father got up from his meal. "Who could that be during the dinner hour?" He tromped out of the dining room, mumbling about being interrupted during his meal.

Henry heard the door open. His father's voice carried quietly through the house. Then he heard a second voice that was familiar. The boy looked anxiously at his mother.


"It's Scotty!" Henry was just about to scoot out of his chair when his mother stopped him.

"You can go out and play after dinner, Henry."

Henry slinked back into place, brooding. "Okay, Mom."

The father walked back in. "It's Scotty," he reported. "I told him you'd be out in a half hour, okay?" He nodded to the child.

"Okay. Thanks, Dad."

"Just you finish your meal," he replied, sitting back down at his place at the table. "And don't wolf it. You'll get sick."

The family ate in silence for several more minutes. Dessert came and went, which Henry also ate quickly. Once finished, Henry stared eagerly at his father.

The man waved his hand at the boy. "Go ahead," he said, sipping his coffee. "Be careful."

"I will. Thanks, Dad." The boy slid out of his chair and headed out of the dining room. But, before he crossed the threshold into the hallway, he stopped and turned to his father.

A thought had been floating around in Henry's mind all day, and he had no idea why. It just stuck, and the urge persisted even through dessert. He did know what he wanted to be when he grew up. He didn't know why he felt so strongly about it at the moment, but he did. "Dad?"


The boy was silent for a moment, but only for a moment. "I want to be an astronaut."


Trivia Time: The "dream" in the Prologue is based loosely on a dream I actually had when I was about four years old. I personally don't remember much of the dream, but my father does. It does involve a glowing being, outside our old house in Hancock, ME; and it involves the world being engulfed in flames. Please note that I was not brought up in a religious household, nor had ever been to church or Sunday school at this point. However, all of this information is second-hand through my father. I did, however, have two dreams that I can remember that involved said "glowing being": it was twilight and I was by a stream when the being came through the woods. However, all I remember was the being telling me to not be afraid. That's it. Finis. No flying off into space, no flaming Earth, nothing. So make of it what you will.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The quick and dirty

Every so often I will be posting part of a chapter on this blog. It may be daily, it may not be. There may always be the chance that PA (PublishAmerica) might find this blog and get pissy, if what I hear about Paragraph 24 is true (that I really don't have the copyright and cannot distribute my own material as I please). If that happens, you may hear about me in the news, and my next book may have my mugshot on the back cover.

I've also gone and done something really precocious as to put a PayPal Donate! button on my page. Feel free to give whatever you want. If you think my writing is fantastic, leave a million dollars (apparently, PayPal takes less of a percentage for larger donation amounts). If you think it sucks eggs, no, sorry, you cannot TAKE money using the Donate button.

So relax and enjoy Voyage to Xanadu, with (the distinct possibility of) additonal features, such as "deleted scenes," and trivia and history behind the book.

Update: I've gone through my contract (three times) with PA and found nothing barring me from putting my book on the web. Over and over again, the contract states that the publisher has exclusive rights to the book in book form. So no worries!

Note: I've tried manipulating the post dates so that you could read the book from chapter 1 onward, instead of having to keep scrolling up for each posted section of the book. Problem is, that the Previous Posts and Archives section of the blog would make it very difficult for you to navigate to later chapters of the book. So I'm going to endeavor to keep ONLY this post at the very top to give you some warning. Start your reading from the very last post and work your way up. It sucks, but it's the best I can do. :P