Exciting news about my new book. In case you have been wondering why I have written only a few blog posts over the last months… first, I was very busy with my fundraisers, which managed to raise more than 2500€ for charity through my paintings and books. Then, I was giving several interviews to newspapers about my books, which took up some time time. And next to that I was working on my new novel.
And now, REBOUND was indeed published in March 2022. Research has been taking up considerable time; I had to study the geography of the areas where the novel is situated (USA, France, Switzerland), as well as new technological developments – the Internet-of-Things/IoT, Artificial Intelligence, space travel, robotics, and more. In 2010, TWO JOURNEYS made a prediction about the danger of pandemics and corona virus. My new novel tackles the risk of artificial intelligence and robotics… but I don’t want to give away too much.
For all of you that can’t wait, below is the first chapter & prologue.
Here we go… strap on your seatbelt.
REBOUND / Prologue
It would be great if somebody could be with me when I kick the bucket, but if I must die alone, so be it.
I stare at the sheets of paper in front of me, my handwriting black against white. A tear, which has dropped from my remaining eye, has deformed a word, like a lens enlarging some long-forgotten sorrow. Just five pages completed. If I continue at this speed, I will be long dead before I manage to put the entire story to paper. I have often toyed with the idea of writing down this story, my story. It’s exciting by any man’s standards. My life, however, left little time for scholarly work. I was too busy surviving. And an author needs an audience, but is there any audience left?
The darkness surrounds me like a cloak, only disturbed by the candle’s flicker. I adjust the blankets around my shoulders. A fire roars in the potbelly, but I still feel cold. Outside, a snowstorm tears at the roof and walls of the cabin. The shutters are closed yet rattle with the wind. I have selected this hide-out with great care, far away from any marauder’s path. I’ve had enough unhappy encounters with two- or four-legged predators to last a lifetime.
I tilt my head to listen for any sound that might be able to rise above the storm’s shriek – yes, it almost sounds like a human, tortured and full of hate. It is deep in the night, early morning almost, hardly the time for any creature to be about. Nevertheless, did I hear something, a distant shout perhaps? A growl or a cry for help?
I look at my dogs, but they seem unalarmed. I shrug off my fears and retrace the thoughts that passed through my head just a few moments ago. Why did I survive so long when so many died? All my friends and many of my enemies are long gone. The hand that holds my pen is crooked and covered with spots of age. I have lost weight, muscle, the hair on my scalp, my sense of humor, and bits and pieces of hope. My joints hurt when I get up in the morning. Yet, I am still here, going like a clock, a machine, yes, almost like one of those damned robots.
The pandemic that struck Earth devoured humanity; the fallout sterilized the planet, but they didn’t manage to kill me. Was I chosen… or was I punished? I am neither religious nor superstitious and I know that no god, no miracle, I need no lucky star to explain my survival. It is simply a freak coincidence. I am like the single surviving bacterium that has developed resistance against an antibiotic, the last tree standing after a forest fire.
My thoughts continue to wander until they inevitably home in on the events of that singular period, so many years ago. They always do. With all the past drama in my life, these events stick out like a sore thumb. Impatiently, I stand up from my chair, shedding the blankets from my shoulders and the depressing thoughts from my mind. The hounds raise their heads towards my face, their eyes gleaming in the dark. Although I feel the need to write down my story, in the hope of finally expelling the bad taste from my mouth, I simply cannot continue. Restlessly, I pace the cabin and only slowly my nervousness subsides.
I stop moving and tilt my head again. This time, the dogs follow my example. Together we listen to the night. There is some sound out there. Something is on the move. After a second of hesitation, I grab the loaded rifle and step to the door, remove the bar, and pull it open.
The storm is astonishingly violent, much stronger than I had expected, and snow immediately starts blowing in. Can this hut withstand this gale? Visibility is low, at the most a few yards; I cannot even sense the valley that lies beneath us. The freezing air hurts my face. The candle is blown out, and in the semi-darkness, I see how the papers from the desk are picked up by the wind, carried past me, and disappear into the night. I laugh madly. The dogs, baring their teeth and growling, cower close to me, their tails between their legs. Together we try to recognize some pattern in the whirling darkness. The sound of the storm is overpowering, yet I am convinced that I can hear a sound, far off, irregular, and organic. Friend or foe, I cannot tell.
I remain in the doorframe, waiting. Closing the door and putting the bar back is not an option; it never is. The enemy doesn’t rest; they never give up the chase. They continuously circle, pounce, bite and kill, without mercy. Likewise, the innocents are always in need of help; as they falter hopelessly, they lose themselves in the darkness. Fear or compassion, I am forced to confront any obstacle, to deal with any challenge, swiftly and if need be mercilessly.
I slip into my heavy coat and put on my leather gloves. I stuff a flashlight into my pocket. The storm picks up speed and roars with increased bitterness. The darkness is complete, with no sign of a rising sun, only snowflakes moving in an icy tornado. The snow stings in my eyes as I step into the wild, my gun raised and loaded, the dogs barking, but following. I feel my teeth baring themselves in a menacing grin. This is the life I have chosen, and this is the life that has chosen me. No matter how much these old bones hurt, by everything holy and unholy, throw it at me. I am ready.
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Originally posted 2021-01-30 20:56:00.