Three Remain

Three Remain

Three Remain Coming in 2019


Three Remain

This was the first front cover conceptual sketch for the upcoming novel, Three Remain. I considered that scene from the second chapter to be the theme of the front cover for a very long time. Thanks to the creative talents of the cover designer, Vanessa Verstraete, the art below is the probable concept to be used for the book. It is a rendition of a scene from chapter 3. I strongly believe, it is a cover that will best represent the story. The art wraps from the front to back cover and is shown completely in the header above.

Three Remain
Design by Vanessa Verstraete

Posts on topics prompted by subjects mentioned in Three Remain can be read on the Posts tab on the menu.


THREE STRANGERS AWAKE TO A WORLD GONE QUIET. NO PHONES, INTERNET, TELEVISION, RADIO, OR ELECTRICITY. AND NO OTHER PEOPLE.

After witnessing a meteor explode in the sky above his home the night before, Glen awakes to a loss of all communications and power.

On route to a work assignment before dawn, Sara’s car veers into a roadside tree. Crawling from the vehicle to the ground, her last memory is the fragrance of dirt and Queen Anne’s Lace.

Thirteen-year-old Traci opens her eyes to complete blackness. A wave of fear brings a shudder as she recalls falling asleep in the movie theater. Immediately groping for her phone, she wonders why her parents hadn’t picked her up.

 

A girl, young woman, and a man discover themselves in a countryside void of people and imprisoned by thick fog. Brought together by circumstance, the three confront bizarre, life-threatening challenges as they try to unravel the mystery.

Dependent on one another, the unlikely trio must find a path to rejoin humanity.

In a place of “beserkedness,” Three Remain.


The Adventure Begins

The following are the opening pages from Three Remain :

 

Chapter 1

 

Walking from the ticket booth to the ticket-ripper, Traci checked her phone again. “All three of them late and not even a text…what the hell?” she muttered to herself as a grey-haired man tore her ticket.

“Screen number three,” the man said handing her the ticket stub.

Wandering slowly to the concession area, Traci texted her friends to tell them she would save their seats, deciding she could watch the ads and coming attractions while waiting. “I’ll have a jumbo Dr Pepper,” she told the lanky blond boy behind the glass counter.

He nodded and placed an enormous plastic cup under the dispenser spout.

“Not many people here tonight,” Traci said, making conversation.

“Yeah, kinda slow,” he answered while foamy, brown liquid filled the cup. “What movie you seeing?”

“Zombie Cats From Hell,” Traci responded meekly, her cheeks flushing.

“I want to see that too,” the boy said, placing the overfilled cup on the glass in front of Traci. “Maybe on my night off.”

Relieved she had a momentary ally in movie taste, Traci smiled and placed a ten on the counter. “Keep the change.”

Sitting in the back-row, center seat, Traci rushed sips of her drink through the huge straw while rechecking for texts from any of her girlfriends. An ad about some local painless-dentist blared from the speakers on the walls. She took another quick sip then checked wireless and sound settings.

All appeared good on her phone, but the Dr Pepper was off. It had a bitter aftertaste. She pushed her tongue against the roof of her mouth repeatedly, trying to eliminate the odd flavor. Returning focus to her communication problem, she pulled up a few websites to ensure those connections worked. An ad about blond, pretty people at some nearby legal firm filled the movie screen. Putting her drink aside, Traci considered returning her drink for a Coke. The boy at the concessions seemed nice and would surely do that for her.

Coming attractions commanded Traci’s attention as the lights dimmed. The first, The Witch Terminator, caused her to lay her phone in her lap. Abruptly, her eyelids felt heavy and she struggled to hold them open watching a woman crash through a window into a coven of witches on a spooky, stormy night. The woman wore tight shorts with a pistol flamethrower strapped to each thigh. Traci’s eyes clamped closed.

 

#

 

Opening the refrigerator, Glen laughed. Staring back at him from a lightless cave was a heavily bruised apple, wrapped slices of plastic cheese with a rumored shelf life of twenty years or more sporting green patches of mold, and a carton of milk with an expiration date twelve days earlier. Quite a transformation from the cornucopia of supplies typical only a few months ago. Ignoring the gourmet delights, his eyes finally set on a single bottle of Corona.

Sitting at the table, he faced his reflection in the sliding glass door. “Cheers!” he said, raising his arm in a toast to himself. He sat and watched condensation trickle down the Corona and form a puddle at the bottle’s base on the mahogany table, which had never suffered as much as a minor scratch. Reaching to take another swig, his lack of focus produced careless movement and he knocked over the Corona. The bottle rolled across the table, falling to the hard, tiled floor. It shattered, beer spreading across the ceramic surface.

“Oh, that’s just great,” he shouted, jumping up to get paper towels, broom, and dust pan. “This just makes my day complete.” After picking up pieces of glass and while sopping up the beer with paper towels on hands and knees, Glen caught movement through the glass in the sliding door. Lifting his head to look, a pair of eyes surrounded by a black mask returned his stare. “Really? Now a raccoon.”

Glen returned his attention to finishing the cleanup but soon heard scratching from the door. He watched in disbelief as the raccoon pawed and bit at the vinyl trim covering the outside of the door. When he saw a long string of vinyl in the animal’s teeth, Glen crawled quickly to the door to tap on the glass.

The raccoon found the noise interesting, so paused its task to study the man behind the glass who it found even more interesting. Glen rapped more sharply. The raccoon waddled off into the dark, vinyl prize in mouth. Sighing, Glen grabbed a light jacket from the closet and flashlight from the junk drawer to inspect the damage.

Once outside on the patio brick, he ran the light over the door trim and groaned. “Enough is enough,” he mumbled, plopping onto the webbed fabric lounger, shivering once with the chill of an early August, Michigan night. Lying back, he stared up at the billions of icy points of light, ranging from brilliant gems to dusty smears as his ears picked up a faint ripping noise and his body sank a little lower into the chair. He wondered if falling through the old, shredded nylon straps to land on a skulking racoon would complete his glorious evening.

A meteor flashed overhead. The possibility of only a raccoon to share the event with tempered his excitement. Slipping into thoughts of his solitary life, Glen vowed never to permit himself to love another person because of the inevitable pain and misery.

Resting back, he hoped to glimpse another meteor before the lounger gave way, and as if fulfilling his wish, one appeared. It was big. Astounding. Not just a streak of light, but large enough to discern the solid sphere of the meteor enveloped in a seething, burning gas. That image imprinted in his brain. A blue-green fireball racing to Earth. Not only towards Earth, but also towards him. Glen jumped to his feet, raising an arm across his forehead as if to protect his face from an impact equivalent to a nuclear detonation.

A second later, it exploded high in the night sky directly above his head, fragments hurtling outward from where the parent object had been. No shockwave. No kaboom. No sound at all. Glen swiveled around and around, his head cocked back as far as his neck would allow, trying to view the canopy of falling lights, getting dizzy in the process. Hundreds of miniature fireballs, looking like a Fourth of July firework display, silently fell to the Earth in an umbrella of streaking lights and smoky tails miles around him.

The placid night sky returned. Releasing a breath, Glen explored the heavens. Not a trace of the spectacular, celestial event remained. Dropping his sight to the horizon, he searched for telltale signs of fires, or unusual lights, but saw only ordinary nighttime silhouettes of tree lines and fields.

Lunging to the patio door to return inside, he hoped to find bulletins on the unusual meteor strike. Retrieving his cell phone from the kitchen counter, Glen checked the national and local news websites but came up empty. Nothing concerning a meteor event. He concluded reports of the incident would take time to trickle into the news unless, of course, a piece hit something notable like a building, car, or circus clown.

Glen readied for bed by first setting the clock radio and phone alarms for 6:00 AM, the usual workday wake time. He made one last effort to survey the seeable area from a back window for signs of meteor strikes. Finally drifting into sleep, he awoke occasionally with flashes of recollection about the extraordinary heavenly event. Unable to pinpoint the reasons, the experience was not only exciting, but unsettling.

 

#

 

Glancing at a map on her phone, Sara read the estimated travel time to her destination at under five minutes. Dispatch had given no sensible reason as to why she was assigned to tail this guy. His record unblemished, it made no sense. “Just stay close and report anything unusual,” the dispatcher had said last night. And starting so early in the morning for a seemingly pointless assignment irritated her. At least traffic had been great, she had not seen another car on the road since she said goodbye to her cat at the apartment.

A curve in the road ahead showed in the headlights and brightening sky. Worried about finding her next turn, her eyes darted to the map again. In an instant, she felt the car swerve. Her eyes jumping back to the road, she saw a tree, rather than the road, rushing toward her. Starting to wrench the steering wheel to the left, her world changed with a deafening bang and a punch into her chest.

Gasping to inhale a breath, her ears ringing, Sara pushed an airbag out of the way, opened the door, tumbling onto the ground. Her cheek felt gravel beneath it. The mixed aromas of Queen Anne’s Lace and earth dominated her senses as consciousness slipped away.

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