Today D.T. Krippene is my guest at arielswan.com. We are fellow writers represented by Victoria Lea of The Aponte Literary Agency and we share as writers the wide genre fantasy fiction. In looking at his work, it struck me that we share a certain realism in our fantastical imaginings. Taking life as we know it and twisting it to include the possibilities of the future or of a truth just beyond our own, as well as true human desires and emotions, is how storytellers make sense of the world. Stories such as these give readers a way to examine the uncertainty, the hardship, the dreams, and the hope we all share as human beings, but from a safe place of remove. The floor is yours D.T.! I look forward to your tale.
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/charliereynolds/3220883864
My thanks to Ariel for hosting me today. We share a similar taste for old Victorian homes, rural New England settings, art by Lori Nix, and a make-believe world in our heads that would make Walter Mitty proud. In a departure from my usual postings, I’ve decided to share a short excerpt of my current project, a dystopian story of mankind’s date with extinction, and a young couple’s reluctant journey to prevent it.
Lasty – A Dystopian Tale
A human endogenous retrovirus has wiped out 95% the human population and rendered survivors unable to bear children. The end of the anthropogenic era is near. Two years after the virus has run its course, a tiny number of women became pregnant … and give birth on the same day.
Eighteen-year-old Ryan Townsend is a Lasty, a derogatory term for the last children born on earth, Leap Day, February 29, 2052. Raised within the strict confines of his religious mother, Ryan is fed up with the notoriety of his mysterious birth. No one will tell him why the watchful eye of the Directorate monitors his every move. Ryan’s world implodes when he stumbles on a wolf attack about to tear a girl to shreds. Penny McGuire is unaware she may be the world’s answer to pulling humans from the precipice of extinction. Life-hardened and on the run from Australia, she drags Ryan along for the ride .
You would think that someone who claimed to love you would answer her cell. I hung up after ten rings.
Claire. The vision of her honey-hued hair and the touch of her cherubic lips pressed against mine had been a beacon over the last few years. That beacon had dimmed when she started pushing me to commit with her, have our IDs changed to prove it. Apostolates were big on ensuring everyone showed their commitment with specially marked government identification, as if you’re going to get carded at the gates of paradise. Commit with me. We can get married. Love each other until death don’t us part and we’re reborn to have children in paradise.
What happened to the billions who died from the plague without receiving grace? Where did they go? The refuse pit of unclaimed souls? Be one hell of a big pit.
I thought of the aggression behind the eyes of homeless revelers who tried to mug me earlier, and the memory of it shivered me. Who worried about their souls? Mom says they don’t have any.
I flipped through my cell to see if Claire had left a message. The usual crap littered it with robo-calls to join the Directorate. Half the messages disappeared when I deleted everything with the word Directorate. Lots of invites for get-togethers. Find your soul mate to live out humanity’s last hurrah before we’re oil like the dinosaurs. I snorted at the advert for depression pharmaceuticals. Call now for twenty-four hour delivery. Life is too short to be bummed. I risked arthritis deleting calls to join the many dozens of Apostolate sects. Don’t wait to make your reservation to paradise.
My thumb hovered over the delete button for the assisted-suicide hotline. Guaranteed painless. Like falling asleep. The hibernating worm of melancholy inside me popped out its head. I always wondered what went down in Dad’s head before he pulled the lemming trick. Why did he and so many others want to rush the journey? Why didn’t the congregation that held mom’s puppet strings do more to help him? Guaranteed painless. I pressed delete.
On impulse, I hauled out my wallet to make sure my ID hadn’t been stolen. The official credit card marked me among the few last humans born on planet earth. No more babies, baby. The plague spayed us all. To add a little sugar to the sterilized bowl, Lasties get to be a living reminder for the end of the anthropogenic era. Let us give thanks.
Dog-eared photos dropped to the floor. The one of mom and me at a picnic when I was six always brought a smile. She was happy. Dad was still around.
The cell jiggled in my hand.
“Where have you been?”
The animated sparkle that defined her was missing from her voice. It seems to be my day for disappointing people. She offers love with all the trimmings, no strings attached, and I return that love by telling her I’m leaving.
“I was hiking, catching some autumn color.”
“You promised we’d go camping before you left.”
The pain in her voice punched holes in me. She hated camping. Her idea of roughing it was not having enough towels in the bathroom, but she wanted to offer herself in a place where I felt at ease. I had lost count how many times I packed the tent and sleeping bags, dialed her cell to tell where I’d meet her … then hung up before the first ring.
When I didn’t answer, she changed the subject. “Greg sent an invite to meet in the town square tonight. He’s bringing his music pods.”
I must have deleted that one with the other junk.
I hated gatherings. They usually turned out to be veiled recruitment drives for the few who hadn’t committed to the faith, but if Greg Simpson had called it, it wouldn’t be a total nuisance. Greg’s glass-mostly-full personality made him popular. Life didn’t offer too many opportunities for fun anymore. Greg was the Pied Piper of fun. Sure, he was a committed Apostolate, but he wore his faith with infectious positive energy. In his book, everyone was good, and if I could find that tome in the library, I’d check it out.
A room of half-packed things for the trip would pass as an adequate excuse and I was tired, but it sounded important to her. Then, it struck me the gathering might be to celebrate her commitment ceremony tomorrow. I could use a strong dose of her effervescent cheer … if she had any left.
“I’ll pick you up in an hour.”
Mom was kneeling at her little altar in the living room when I came downstairs, the Apostolate sun-star symbol twinkling with its garland of lights. The rigid tension that ruled most of her waking hours was absent and she seemed at peace. Eyes closed, steepled palms pressed to her forehead, her lips moved in silent reverence. I wondered how much of her praying was devoted to asking forgiveness for giving birth to me. I didn’t have the heart to interrupt.
I tiptoed into the kitchen and scrawled a short note, making sure to add Love with my initials.
A native of Wisconsin and Connecticut, DT Krippene deserted aspirations of being a biologist to live the corporate dream and raise a family. After six homes, a ten-year stint in Singapore and Taiwan, and an imagination that never slept, his muse refused to be hobbled as a mere dream. Now a full time writer, DT writes mostly young adult science fiction and fantasy.
DT is represented by Victoria Lea of the Aponte Literary Agency
You can find DT Krippene at:
Searching For Light in the Darkness