Science Fiction Series - Dystopian Adventure
Union is a 180 page (35k word) short novel, and is Book 4 of the Gray Series.
For centuries, Phil Stark has been the keeper of the machine that changed the world—a lighthouse keeper—guilt-ridden, impossibly alone and losing his mind, the machine is his penance for what he had done centuries before.
When Phil meets Isla, he finds a kinship that he didn’t know was possible. And when he crosses paths with Sammi and Declan, his life and the fate of the world might change forever.
Union is the final book in the Gray Series. In this last installment, Declan finds the answers he's sought since first seeing the chalky letters spelling the words End of Gray Skies. With Sammi and his father and Ms. Gilly, they team up with an unlikely partner in one final attempt to rescue the sunlight and bring it back to their world.
Union concludes the Gray Series, exploring why the clouds fell from the sky and why what you see isn't always what it seems.
Haven't started the series? You can pick up the Gray Series Omnibus Edition!
READ AN EXCERPT
He stared absently at the ocean: breaking waves tumbled soundlessly and pushed white foam over blackened sands. He tried to imagine the vast sea just beyond the barricade of fog, and in his mind he briefly saw the still surface lapping at the air, birds diving, fish jumping. But like most of his memories, that one too had become distant and hard to reach.
And though he could only see a mere sliver of the beach and beyond the machine, it was just enough to remind him that the world he had abandoned still existed. From inside the machine, on some days—those lucky few when everything lined up just right—he could sometimes glimpse the shine of a distant star. A black sky sprang from his memory, endlessly filled with small flickering eruptions of lights. And just as quick, the memory faded like the life he once knew.
But maybe today?
His eyes wandered upward, following the rolling wall of fog until the clouds broke into the twilight’s dusky afterglow. A wink of light shone just behind him, just out of reach. Straining to see more of the sky, the star blinked in and out, revealing another piece of it. But what he found wasn’t the star he was searching for. It wasn’t a star at all.
They’re watching, he thought and then quickly emptied his mind, disconnecting it from the thousand years of his existence. He went to that place that was safe; quiet. It was the same place his nightmares crawled to in the moments before waking from a long sleep. But sometimes the days were his nightmares, confusing him with what was real and what was not. That happened more and more as time marched toward his world’s inevitable demise, and his annual expirations.
Thirty days? But he had lost count by now. If only the star were out, I’d know how many days I had left this time.
A mindless zombie. That’s what you've become, he told himself. No. That’s not fair… that’s not true. I am aware, he countered his thoughts.
“I am aware,” he spoke out. His voice was soft, almost feeble. And the sound of it filled him with shame.
From his white coveralls, he found the sharp metal wedge he’d tucked away earlier. The lights were busy, paying him no mind.
One jab, he considered. Just one to know that this is real.
He hesitated. I need to know. The blade’s warm edge slipped inside him. A small gush of relief spilled from his pursed lips.
The cutting continued, falling silent like the crashing waves.
Enough? He questioned, struggling to measure the pain. After all, pain was the only connection to life he had anymore. But even that had begun to wane. He stopped when he felt the trickle of something warm running down his leg. And when he saw the patchy red streaks stretch the length of his coveralls, he couldn’t help but wonder how many times he had tested his reality? There were more stains, older and already drying stiff and becoming dark. I’ve been testing what’s real, he realized, feeling disoriented and confused.
Turning back to the translucent panel, he imagined seeing Emily, his daughter, on the other side. She raised her hand and touched the machine, knocking for him to come out and play.
“I’ll come out one day Emily,” he mumbled, swiping a glance over his shoulder toward the lights. Nothing—no response. “I swear it Emily. I will.”
But the promise to his daughter had been carried shamelessly on the ripples of a long history—a history he had created centuries earlier. In his mind, she was a lie, banging on the machine, screaming for him to come outside.
“Daddy… Daddy, why did you do this?” she yelled. But of course he heard none of it. Her voice was in his head, screaming at him, at the machine. Emily thrashed her arms around wildly as though having convulsions. She slowed, her eyes meeting his through errant patches of long red hair that stuck against her sweaty face. Tears spilled, heavy and thick as blood.
Another jab, he insisted. Just one to see if this is real, too!
Blood ran, and another gush of relief slipped from his mouth. But the sight of his daughter also left him frightened. Remorse came like the waves, filling him with sorrow, and the heavy regret crushed his heart and mind like a vise.
At once, the lights on the walls flickered, blinking on and off, instructing the others that Phil Stark had stopped his work and needed a correction.
“I’m working,” he screamed at them, waving his arms around his head. “I’m working! Can’t you see that?”
The lights flashed a jumble of light sequences that Phil had grown to know and loathe. The nearest zombie body turned to him and was set into motion.
“You don’t care, do you?” he cried out with resignation. Tears prickled his eyes, and spittle ran from his mouth.
A jab. Solid. Stoic. Pouring.
“You’ve never cared! Look at what I built for you! Just let me stay until she leaves!” But when he turned back to face the outside, his daughter was gone. He pressed his hand against the cool shell of the machine, wondering if she’d been there at all.
She couldn’t have been here, he thought, realizing the lie was in his mind again—the lie was always in his mind. It’s impossible. She died hundreds of years ago.
“One Jab!” he cried out with a raucous laugh and stabbed the metal wedge deep into his neck. Blood sprayed instantly, covering the only window to the world outside. He heard the rush of blood in his ears and felt his heart thrum inside his chest, fighting for the life that he did not deserve.
I shouldn’t be here, anyway. None of us should.
Another push and his neck opened up like a fountain. The welcome smell of blood came to him. Powerful and engrossing: the machine had no smell at all. He saw the others turning their heads, sniffing at the air, wondering about the strange coppery odor.
“That’s called life,” he gargled. “Dumb fucks!”
And soon, the taste of blood was on his tongue and filled his mouth. The end was coming. His smile stretched across his face as he laid on the floor waiting. He stared up through the window, straining with the last of his strength until the star he had tried to find earlier came into view and winked at him.
“There you are,” he said. “I know you.” But Phil also knew that the star might not be a star at all.
“What does it matter, anyway,” he sputtered in drowning laughter. “They’re just going to bring me back.”