Parallax - Chapter 2
Pub day is officially next week! If you haven't pre-ordered a copy, here's the link.
Without further ado, here's chapter two! (Maybe I should get into poetry?)...
WILLIAM’S EYES FLEW OPEN. HE WAS LYING on his back in his pod, just as he’d been five hundred breaths earlier.
He lay there, feeling himself take huge gulps of air. His body was hyperventilating, because his body thought it was still in the host’s body. It wasn’t, of course. His breaths were his own and free now.
The roof of the pod slid open, and he sat up and looked around the pod tank. Five pods were arranged in a circle, facing one another. They looked like futuristic coffins. William sat there, breathing, wondering what had just happened.
Next to him, a girl sat up in her pod. Her widened eyes told William that she was still agitated.
“Wow,” she said.
William nodded, wiping the sweat from his face onto his sleeve. “That one almost got me, Grace.”
She agreed. “That was so intense.” “Who did you snap to?”
“I was the wife with the baby.”
“That was you?”
She nodded. “I think we were a couple. She had strong feelings for you.” Grace took a moment to absorb it. “I’ve never breastfed before. It’s an extraordinary sensation.”
William wiped his forehead. “And I’ve never been one second from death before. Lucky for me my guy was hyperventilating.”
On the other side of Grace, a guy sat up in the pod. He was rangy, dark-haired, with a hawklike expression. His facial features were contorted into an almost permanent sneer arranged around his beaklike nose.
“Hunter,” said William, “which one were you?”
“The one that almost killed you.” Hunter’s face was flushed, and his eyes were filled with excitement. “That was so wild. I was right on the edge of murder.” He flexed his hands and looked at them in amazement.
The other two people in the pod tank, Trina and Jeremy, lifted themselves to sitting positions as well. All five of them sat there for a moment, recovering and chatting. This was how it usually happened afterward, a few minutes chewing over what had just happened, then later a full debriefing for Proof.
A beautiful woman with almond eyes came over and undid the cuff that had been tied around William’s arm. He’d forgotten it was there. “Welcome back,” she said.
“Thanks, Shana.” He looked up at her. Even after all these snaps—and the team had done at least twenty by now, he’d stopped keeping count—she was still a mystery. Her brown hair draped over her shoulders, and a green polyester shift draped onto her body. Her unusual face reflected a mélange of many ethnicities. A psychological wall had been erected between her and the team members, and nobody was able to breach it. William watched her move among the team members, undoing the cuffs. Then, one by one, each of the team members climbed out of the pods and onto the floor. “It’s all over your back,” said Grace, looking at William from behind. He knew what she was talking about: the white goop that inevitably accumulated at the bottom of the pod during a snap. Nobody knew what it was.
William approached the third male on the team. He had pale skin, wire-rimmed glasses, and an alert manner. “Jeremy, which one were you?”
“I was tagged to one of the Spanish guys.” Jeremy dropped his head. “He was just insane with greed.”
“It just looked like a peaceful scene, but . . . ”
“Conquistadores are peaceful?”
“No, just you know, the pretty field, the pyramid.”
Hunter cleared his throat. “So who’s ready for the debriefing ?”
“I am,” said Trina. She was the fifth member of the team, somewhat stouter than the others, with blonde hair and round cheeks. Her outgoing personality saved the team from taking itself too seriously. She could be considered the party girl, if there were any parties here in the quarters.
“Me too,” said Grace. “This one showed me a lot.”
“You’ll find out.”
Grace smiled beguilingly as they moved out of the pod tank and down the wide corridor.