Piece of Mind by L.R. Braden
Stale, slightly ionized air flooded my lungs, bringing with it the scent of disinfectant and…something else, sharp, sweet. Panic flitted around the edges of my exhilaration. I exhaled. I’d been dead another eighteen months.
The scientists didn’t like us using that term, but what else could I call it? Hibernation? Dormancy? Suspended animation? None of those were strong enough to fit the empty silence of the limbo where we waited.
What piece of myself have I left in that cold, dark place this time?
“Back with us, Mr. Thompson?” A voice floated out of the darkness, but not the inky void of that other place. Not even close.
I opened borrowed eyes, blinked.
Dr. McCarthy perched at the edge of her steel stool, watching me, waiting to see if I remembered how to speak, how to move, who I was. The gray at her temples was more pronounced than I remembered. Skin sagged from her cheeks like deflated balloons, silent testament to the time that hadn’t passed for me, proof of her indispensability.
One hand poised over the tablet in her lap, she leaned closer. “How do you feel?”
I raised one smooth, pale hand, translucent skin bright under the ceiling lights. It tingled as motes of dust brushed against it, asteroids pummeling my senses compared to the nothing that came before. Purplish veins swelled when I made a fist.
“Alive.” My lips snapped closed, cutting off the deep baritone voice I didn’t recognize as my own.
“Do you know where you are?”
I blinked twice, slowly, relishing my control over the flash of light and dark as the room flickered in and out of existence. Medical tools lined the otherwise bare walls. An endless vibration thrummed through me, and I dug into my memory for the cause.
“Still on the Ark.” The unfamiliar voice cracked, shattering the last word.
Her mouth twisted to one side. “I’m afraid so. What do you remember about your life on Earth?”
“I lived in…an apartment, in…” I wracked my brain, sorting through labels until I found one that felt right. “New York.”
“Very good.” She smiled and nodded encouragingly.
“I—” More images flitted by, but I couldn’t hold them. “I was a—” My fingers tightened on the chair as I groped for some way to end that sentence, but all I found was a gaping hole where the information should have been.
Liquid trickled down the side of my face, and I was momentarily distracted by the need to identify it.
“It’s all right, Mr. Thompson.” Dr. McCarthy set one cool palm over the back of my clenched fist, and the low moan I hadn’t realized I was making subsided.
“I can’t remember what I did before,” I said, waving my free hand, “this.”
Her smile returned, small and sad. “You were a writer, Mr. Thompson.”
Welcome to the book tour for Far, Far, Away, a new SciFi and Fantasy 7 story anthology.
About Far, Far Away:
In a land far, far away… In a distant galaxy… Once upon a time…
These are all ways to begin fantastical tales of love and adventure. Gateways into the realms of imagination. In this anthology, we bring together authors from all over this world to transport you into the worlds they’ve created.
Travel through space and experience infinity three hours at a time. Explore dangerous caverns for the source of a deadly disturbance. Get stranded on a mysterious island from which no one returns, then learn to survive on a distant planet while you hope for rescue.
In this far-reaching, magical collection love allows you to see in colour, time is vast but fragile, and changing minds and hearts in Ancient Rome is only one stop on an epic journey across time, space, and reality.
Stories Included in the Anthology:
“Piece of Mind” by L.R. Braden
“Songs and Superstitions” by Shana Scott
“Black Spire Isles” by Barend Nieuwstraten III
“Field Notes from the Unknown Planet” by Brittni Brinn
“The Colour of Roses” by Kelly D. Holmes
“The Prime Crusade” by Buddy Young
“Fatestorm” by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred
Read an Excerpt:
It’s 2021. The pandemic drags on and we’re all stuck inside. Blegh. Reality sucks.
So why not take this opportunity to escape into fiction?
A year ago we ran a contest and we asked writers to submit stories set in other times, places, and versions of reality. Then we had our judges pick the best ones to include in this anthology.
Therefore, the seven stories you are about to read are windows into other worlds, but also into the minds of eight extremely creative and talented individuals. We’ve included their bios and a few words from each of them so you can get to know the people who have created such imaginative stories to take us far, far away, if only for a little while.
So pack your bags, or don’t because you won’t be needing them for this journey. Instead, sit back, relax, and turn the page to find distant galaxies, alien cultures, mysterious magical islands, unknown planets, the value of colour, the fragility of time, and the fickle nature of fate.