A peek at the new William Hawk book Parallax - Chapter 1, Part 1
I'm excited to announce that Parallax, the prequel to Ignition, will be releasing this June!
To give my readers a little sneak peek into Parallax, I've decided to post the opening of the novel chronologically on the blog.
Below is the very beginning -- chapter 1, part 1. Keep checking back for additions; I'll be adding more each week.
For now, fingers crossed William makes it out alive...
CHAPTER 1, PART 1:
William found himself standing in the middle of a tropical field. He wore a loincloth, a long agricultural instrument in his hand.
Five hundred breaths.
The snap had started a half-second before, when William looked up at the parallax from his pod, the flickering movie- like images playing on the ceiling above his head. He’d focused on one in particular, a brown-skinned indigenous man in a green tropical field, a pyramid visible in the distance.
William had reached out and pointed his finger at the flickering image . . . and now he found himself in that indige- nous man’s body. He had exactly five hundred breaths to literally live in someone else’s skin.
This was a “snap,” also known as a tag-along. It was the term he and his team used to describe the brief space of time in which they were allowed to enter another person’s body.
William was a Change Agent Level Two, typically called a CA2, as were the other four members of his team. They were trying to reach the next and highest level, a Change Agent Level Three, better known as CA3.
William felt himself take a deep breath.
Four hundred ninety-nine.
Most snaps lasted long enough for a certain event to occur.
William believed that the Ancient Engineer had selected each snap for its depth of emotional experience, though that was only rumor. Nobody actually knew how the Ancient Engineer made his decisions, or did anything, nobody except for Proof.
William looked down at his host’s body. This was the most challenging part of any snap, trying to figure out the body that he would be occupying for the next twenty minutes or so. His eyes landed on his host’s feet, which were broad, flat and tough. The toenails were curled and yellow, the chocolate skin calloused. This man was a farmer, and if somebody had asked William to guess, he was probably a member of an an- cient civilization. But the images in the parallax didn’t come with captions, explanations, or even names. It was up to him to figure it all out.
He sniffed the air. It was rich, moist, loamy. Clearly, it was easy to grow crops in this type of climate.
Then William felt himself begin to move. He watched his arms throw the end of the long tool into the moist earth, turn- ing up the soil. He felt the strain on his triceps, back and ab- dominal muscles. The movement felt smooth. This particular farmer had had long practice doing this exact movement.
The breeze kicked up, and his host stopped working. He stood there, feeling the breeze on his bare chest. He sipped water from an animal bladder that hung around his shoulder.
The distant brown pyramid shone close in the clear, blue sky. In the opposite direction stood a small ridge, no more than ten meters high, covered in tropical growth.
Then a sharp sound echoed from the ridge.
William felt every muscle in his host’s body suddenly stiffen. This was a natural response to danger, but where had it come from?
The sound came again. It was faintly metallic. He felt his body swivel toward the danger. His eyeballs scanned the ridge as his breathing quickened.
Four hundred ten. Four hundred nine.
A light flashed on the left side of the ridge. His face quickly turned to it. In the underbrush he saw the unmistakable glint of metal.
William heard a voice yelling in an unfamiliar language. It took a moment for him to realize that it was his own voice, and it was shouting in Mayan. I’m in the ancient Mayan civili- zation. He looked behind him. A Mayan woman walked to- ward him from another part of the field. She was topless, a baby on her breast. His host made a gesture to stay back. She immediately stopped, but she didn’t back off, just stood there staring past him.
Then he dropped to the ground behind a small mound of dirt and, through the tangle of branches, studied the commo- tion on the ridge. He felt his heartbeat speed up.
More flashes from the ridge. He lowered his head, then tentatively lifted it again. Watching.
Three hundred fifty-four. Three hundred fifty-three.
Then the figure came into view. It was a man wearing a pointed metal hat. He wore another sheet of metal on his chest and strange cloth breeches on his legs. In his hand was a halberd, a long axe blade with a stabbing tip.
Behind him was another figure. And a third. And a fourth. All dressed in the same odd fashion.
William recognized that outfit. These were sixteenth- century Spanish soldiers. Conquistadores.
The Spanish soldiers carried something long and tubular. He couldn’t quite make it out. They seemed to be talking among themselves. One of them turned the long tube so it was vertical to the ground, while another poured some powder into the tube and then used a long stick to push down the powder.
William’s host stood up to get a better look. He felt the man’s intense curiosity about the tube. Then his host approached the visitors.
The soldiers saw him and began talking excitedly among themselves. The one tamping down the powder pulled out the stick, and the others lowered the metal tube until it was hori- zontal and pointed the opening at William.
William knew full well what that metal tube was: a gun.
Two hundred forty-six. Two hundred forty-five....
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