QSF author G. Wakeling has a new sci fi book out:
Up to her eyeballs in debt, Dr. Rachel Galliance jumps at the chance of a last-minute rotation on Mars, despite being terrified of hypersleep. This is her last chance to get life back on track, and it’s only one stint on Mars – how bad can it be?
When she awakes, her vessel – the Renovo – is eerily quiet; that’s before it begins to disintegrate around her. Fighting for her life and struggling to save her crewmates, Rachel realises something is very wrong. The question’s not will they reach Mars, but will they ever see Earth again?
Rachel awoke with a start, fear spreading through her body as pins and needles froze her. It took a moment, but her mind finally found its place, bringing with it the clarity needed to eradicate the panic.
The transparent ceiling of her sleep box was already whirring away out of sight. The same action occurred along the line of coffin-shapes that loomed in the dimly lit room as if only shadows. Aside from the low, mechanical whir there was silence. Stillness. A complete absence of life.
She lay there in the cocoon of swaddling; material like cotton wool that wrapped her skin as if a fleece to a sheep. The tingling in her bones subsided quickly and she shrank from her outstretched position to a curled, foetal shape as the abruptness of her waking shocked her. It was cold, and the air pricking against her skin felt like an ice-cube sticking to a frozen windshield.
“You’d have thought they’d have turned on the heat, brought us a flannel and handed out some salted nuts for our arrival.”
She looked across and saw a tanned and broad man sitting bolt upright in his box. He seemed remarkably awake considering her own blurred consciousness. He saw her looking and winked.
“Guess the service ain’t quite up to the standards all those brochures promise.”
He stood, stepping out of his sleeping container without a stitch of clothing on.
“Dendrick,” he smiled, hovering over her box so that nothing was left to the imagination. She shrank further into her cushioning, hiding her pale and prickly legs as the sight of him reminded her she was alone in the presence of strangers.
“Rachel Galliance,” she replied, not quite knowing why she felt the need to share her surname. “You know you’re naked, right?”
“Sure do. I’m in and out of hypersleep just as God himself intended; naked as the day I was born and ripped down to the finest millimetre.” His muscular thighs strode by her to the lockers on the wall and he began fumbling with the handles.
“Well if you could cover up that millimetre sometime soon I’d be grateful.”
There was a chuckle to her left, and Rachel saw the rest of the unit was waking. Almost a dozen or so sleeping boxes now had movement from within. A hand came waving through the air for a high-five. Rachel was so long without interaction that the slap against her palm sent a stinging sensation through her.
“I couldn’t have said it better myself. Put the midget away, we’re all gonna puke before we’ve even had breakfast. I’m Louanne.”
She looked up from her stinging hand and saw a bright face in the box next to her. The woman had fine features and closely cropped hair. Like Dendrick, she was alert, and began to climb out and put herself in order. Though, unlike the man, a small crop top and boxer shorts protected her modesty.
“The first time’s always a bitch. Few more rotations like us two and you’ll get used to it.”
“Are you and…”
“Feck, no!” Dendrick called as he pulled a blue T-shirt over his head.
“Oi! You think I’d even stay with you with that thing?!” Louanne cajoled as she joined him by the lockers and winked as she glanced between his legs. She unsnapped a door and began to pull out her own belongings. “We always do the geo rotations together. Pays better that way; I’m the brains, he’s my brawn.”
“Hey! I’ve got my PhD too.”
“Yeah, yeah, is that what they call those crappy credentials from that busted institute?” She smiled affectionately at him, before waltzing back across the room and offering a hand to Rachel. Rachel took it thankfully, the grey fuzziness beginning to fade but jading her senses no less. “So newbie, what you here for?”
“Bio sourcing and recognition.”
“Ha, the alien expert, eh? Go forth and find life…or some crap like that, right? I wouldn’t get excited; only new thing you’ll find is some goddamn tasteless mould in the algae processors.”
“How many times you been out here?” Rachel asked as she stood in front of the lockers and searched for her name. As usual, she found herself right at the top. A pigeon hole, mailbox, locker; it didn’t matter what it was, it was always at the top, despite her small stature causing an obvious issue. But people didn’t have time for problems, and luck never seemed to be on her side.
“Thanks,” she smiled as Dendrick saw her pondering, unsnapped the metal storage box and passed the bundle of clothes and small bag into her arms.
“The rest will be in cargo,” he said, answering her next question before attending to her previous one. “Fourth and last vacation, baby. You gotta love Mars, but the sand is way nicer down in sunny Ha-Wa-iiiiiii.”
“Yeah, and we’d be there already if this idiot hadn’t signed us up for a final road trip. Third time’s a charm, I say. We’re set up for the next few years, I plead. And this one puts our names down again.”
“That’s MY brains for you; after this we’re retiring and living the life of luxury.” He gave the women a wink, before adding, “And you, Dr. Galliance, can come join us any time you like.”
“Guess I need to do a few more rotations before I can pay my way,” Rachel replied as she set her things on the floor and began to pull on the standard ENVO jumpsuit. Around her, others were doing the same, until the entire room was filled with uniformed blue lemmings ready to get to whatever work was instructed. “Where is everyone?”
“No meet’n’greet here. This ain’t no Butlins. By the time we get off this planet, we’ll all be the colour o’ red, have that ENVO stink, and be lacking the social niceties of home. I seen it all before. You gotta work for that money, ere.”
Rachel turned to find the source of the North England accent. His teeth were bright ivory against his dark skin. Despite his words, his eyes were cheery, his tone upbeat.
“Ballard,” he said, nodding slightly.
“Dr. Galliance, bio-sourcing and…”
“I ‘eard you. Now, if it ain’t time for brekkie, I don’t know. I gotta fill my gut before we land and this hunk o’ junk gets disassembled.”
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I’m the hermit that has too many cats. I’m the fanatic that becomes way too involved in science fiction and fantasy films and dramas (Battlestar Galactica, Helix, True Blood, Marvel Films, etc). I’m the kind of guy that, once the biscuit packet is open, I eat the entire lot – yes, I have a sweet tooth.
I’m Geoff Wakeling; a gardener, conservationist and writer. If you read my work and you’ll likely spy many creatures, whether centre stage or simply in the setting….I’m the man man that steps over ants and rescues languishing worms that have strayed onto the hot pavement. I’m also still awaiting the arrival of my Hogwart’s Owl!
The world is sometimes a battle to deal with, so I escape into books. Try out Inside Evil; the fantasy series with fantastical creatures, parallel worlds and doppelgangers. If you’re looking for a zombie story, then try Pacifier 6; a world where mutants have been pacified into a docile slave force through medicine. Or, if you love a little science fiction and dystopian, pick up CRYO or Renovo.