QSFer Suzanne Van Rooyen has a new sci fi book out:
Raleigh Williams made a promise to his brother before he died, that he’d scatter his ashes on Mars. Desperate to leave a life of bad memories behind and start over in the Martian colony, Raleigh fully intends to keep that promise. But his plans are thwarted when a meteor near-misses him in the desert, and Raleigh finds in its crater not debris or even a spacecraft, but a man covered in swirling scars and with no memory of who he is. At least he looks like a man—a man Raleigh can’t seem to keep his eyes off of—but whenever they touch it ignites a memory swap between them.
Raleigh agrees to help Meteor Man piece together his life through their cosmic connection. But the memory share goes both ways, and Raleigh becomes inexplicably entangled with a guy who is everything he needs—everything good that Raleigh is not—but might not even be human. As their minds and worlds collide, reality unravels and Raleigh must face a painful truth, one that could shatter his dreams of finding love, reaching Mars, and fulfilling his brother’s last wish.
I promised my brother I’d scatter his ashes on Mars. Not that I believed he’d die before he was old enough to order a beer. I never thought keeping my promise would become impossible, either. Now the urn sits on the mantelpiece, taunting, waiting for me to get my ass off-world. If only it were that easy.
It’s hotter than the asshole of hell today, and I’m in a mood to match when the Mulhoney twins saunter into the store. Most people use the self-serve stations, leaving me free to spend my shifts scrolling through the feeds for updates on the MarsLife colony. Not the Mulhoneys.
Vince and Lilah start eying the merchandise, and a sour taste fills my mouth. They’ve had more brushes with the law than they’ve got teeth between them, and we have a long tradition of hating each other. Some of Vince’s missing teeth are my fault. Though that’s hardly the worst of what I’ve done.
“Hey look, it’s the squaw.” Lilah nudges her brother and he gives me the finger, sliding it in and out of his mouth. My hands clench into fists, remembering what it felt like smashing his ugly mug. Too bad it didn’t erase all the years I’d spent cowering from him and his sister. If anything, I only made it worse.
I try to ignore them and focus instead on the forum posts filling up my NetGlasses. The Earth-huggers are at it again, railing against the evils of Martian pioneers. Mars is the new American dream. There was a time when Europeans looked over the Atlantic and imagined greener pastures. Now, in 2037, all Eartheans gaze into space and imagine interplanetary salvation from our dystopian reality. Us aspiring Martians, we’re new order pioneers; dreamers reaching for the stars.
“Got any cheese dicks?” Lilah asks with a straight face while I switch to a thread about the stochastic effects of radiation in the NuRoanoke colony. I bookmark the stream and glare at her over the rim of the glasses. My pulse kicks up a gear and anger simmers in my blood. Inhale. Don’t lose it. Exhale. I’ve been doing just fine without the meds. Inhale. Don’t lose it. Exhale.
Vince waltzes up to the counter and picks up a pair of the earrings I carved last week.
“Do I look pretty, Roadkill Raleigh?” He holds them to his flappy lobes. “Does it make you wanna bone me?”
“It makes me wanna smash your skull in, plant you in my garden, and let the maggots pick off your flesh so I can use your pelvis as a doorstop.”
For a moment there’s silence as Vince stares unblinking at me. I didn’t mean to say it out loud. My stomach contracts and expands like I’m going to puke.
“Did you just threaten my brother?” Lilah turns scarlet. She reaches over the counter and grabs my hair, slamming my face into the glass. My NetGlasses snap and the two halves skitter to the floor as pain spiderwebs across my cheek. The bell chimes above the door again.
“Remember what happened last time?” Her whispers are acid. “You looking for more of that?”
“What’s happening here?” The man’s voice booms in a heavy drawl, and it’s one I recognize. Now I really want to puke.
“Move along stranger, ain’t nothing to see here.” Lilah sneers.
“I think it’s you who oughta move along.” He taps the holster on his hip.
“You a ranger?” Vince smirks.
“Don’t need to be to shoot you.”
“We’re not done, squaw.” Lilah dribbles saliva down my cheek. “We got you once; we can get you again.” She lets me go with a twist of her fist. The twins stomp out of the store, slamming the door behind them, then tumble into their pickup and roar out of the station. My face aches like I’m going to wake up with a real shiner tomorrow.
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I’m a YA author with a penchant for the dark and strange. I primarily write speculative fiction but enjoy literary writing as well. I occasionally delve into adult genres too. I’m a musician and have a Master’s degree in music, but I prefer writing strange stories, baking peanut butter cupcakes and playing with my shiba inu.