Hello to all the Archer’s Aim followers. Today, I have the distinct pleasure of hosting author Teri Polen with her newest science fiction novel. Take it away, Teri!
Thanks so much to P.H. for having me today! When I was in middle school, a friend and I read everything we could find on dream interpretation – not that there was much to find on this subject in our small town, and the internet was nonexistent at that time. Dream dictionary in hand, we attempted to analyze our own and each other’s nocturnal visions. The findings were basically nonsensical and gibberish, but amusing to two 13-year-old boy crazy girls. As I mentioned, it was a small town, requiring us to create our own entertainment much of the time.
My husband and I are polar opposites when it comes to dreams. If he even remembers his, they generally involve everyday types of mundane activities, whereas mine tend to be wildly bizarre, disjointed, and quite enjoyable. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to be quite as creative in my waking life.
Dreams can be both fulfilling and inspirational, allowing the dreamer to act out their fantasies, travel to foreign destinations, and even relive wonderful memories. But what about nightmares? When I was very young, on the first day of winter for three consecutive years, I had the same nightmare about a bear chasing me down a narrow mountain road that had a precarious drop-off on one side. What that was all about, I couldn’t begin to tell you. Maybe for some reason I dreaded the coming of winter?
Run of the mill nightmares may lead to insomnia, and continuously disrupted sleep can result in increased stress, irritability, and lack of focus. Extreme nightmares can be terrifying and realistic – some may be the recurring variety, and the effects can be severe, leading not only to insomnia, but also high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, diabetes, and other ailments.
My new young adult sci-fi/thriller, The Gemini Connection, in set on Tage, a dying planet. Tage’s scientists work tirelessly on its survival – they can’t afford any distractions, because millions of lives depend on them being focused on their jobs. One of my main characters, Evan, is a Mindbender. He travels into the minds of others to locate buried memories, connect ideas and concepts, and battle recurring nightmares. Below is an excerpt giving you a glimpse into one of Evan’s work days. He and his work partner, Syd, are in the midst of battling a beast in a nightmare. The blurb for the book follows.
I sailed through the air again, keeping my distance from the sharp tips of the two horns, and managed a solid strike to the top of its head between them.
It floundered, the screeches growing weaker, and movements sluggish as liquid spilled down the beast’s face. As the creature slowed, the surrounding light faded to more of a blush color.
Standing to the side, I kept the mallet raised in case Syd needed help. She’d sliced and diced so much that skin, muscles, and tendons hung in shreds around the creature’s legs. It wouldn’t last much longer. “Pull back!”
She nodded that she’d heard me, then somersaulted behind the goat-demon to get out of its path. At the same time, it lurched forward and slipped in the liquid gushing from its wounds, tilting precariously backwards. Toward Syd. Its razor-sharp horns on a direct collision course with her body.
There was no way the goat-demon would miss her.
“Eject, Syd! Now, now, now!”
Without question or hesitation, her hand immediately shot to the cuff strapped around her left wrist and pushed a red button, expelling her from the nightmare. The creature landed hard where Syd had been only seconds earlier. I exhaled in relief, but it was short-lived. I still had to deal with one seriously perturbed goat-demon. On my own, with no backup.
The beast struggled to rise, unsteady on what was left of its legs, determined not to be banished so quickly. It seemed to have gained a second wind, and now there was only one target.
I needed to move fast. My hand reached for the dagger strapped to my belt, and I groaned in annoyance at the empty sheath. It must have fallen out when I’d landed.
I’d stressed to trainees that a backup plan may save their life, and they should always keep other options in mind. Especially when finding themselves in situations such as this. Tightening my hand around the iron mallet, I propelled myself into the air once again. The beast had managed to stand, but instead of flying over him, this time I hovered just above his head.
His arms sliced through the air trying to reach me, but I was pretty agile when it came to the flying thing, and managed to roll and twist around his blows. I drew back the mallet and swung with everything I had, connecting with the goat-demon’s right horn. It shrieked, but the impact with my mallet had nearly ripped the horn from its head, and I readied myself for another strike. I pummeled it once more, wrenched it off the creature’s head, and maneuvered around to the other horn when the goat-demon tried to shish-kabob me.
I increased my speed, flying faster around its head in a random pattern, keeping my movements unpredictable. The com unit crackled in my ear as Charlie, who was still in the lab, checked my status.
“Evan, are you all right? You’re bleeding from your upper torso.”
No time to talk, if my plan was going to work. An attack wasn’t as difficult now, as the monster only had a nonthreatening stump protruding from its head. With the detached horn still clutched in my hand, I faked a turn to the left, rolled to the creature’s right side, and stabbed its eye with the finely-honed appendage, shoving it in until it would go no further. Then I dropped to the ground behind it.
Its wails pierced my ears and echoed off the walls, but I never let my guard down. Sometimes nightmares were surprisingly resilient and recovered quickly.
That didn’t seem to be the case with goat-demon, as its gray, hairy body crumpled and folded in on itself, becoming smaller and smaller until it gradually disintegrated, extinguished with a final whimper.
Shoving the iron mallet back into my belt, I bent over and rested my hands on my knees, gulping in deep breaths. I felt like collapsing myself, but needed to begin my exit sequence.
God, I loved my job.
Teen twin brothers Evan and Simon Resnik are fiercely loyal to each other and share an unusual bond—they experience each other’s emotions as their own and can sense where the other is.
On their dying planet of Tage, scientists work tirelessly on its survival. Like the twins’ parents, Simon is a science prodigy, recruited at a young age to work with the brilliant creator of Scientific Innovations. To the bitter disappointment of their parents, Evan shows no aptitude or interest in science. As a Mindbender, he travels into the minds of scientists to locate buried memories, connect ideas and concepts, and battle recurring nightmares.
When Simon mysteriously disappears, Evan is plunged into a world of loss and unbearable guilt. For the first time, he can’t ‘feel’ Simon—it’s like he no longer exists. Evan blames himself. No one knows that he ignored his brother’s pleas for help on the night he went missing.
A year later, Simon is still gone. Evan lost his twin, but Tage might have lost its last hope of survival when it’s discovered that Simon’s unfinished project could be its salvation. Evan is determined to find him—somewhere—and bring Simon home. Their unusual connection might be more extraordinary than they know, and the key to locating Simon.
Teri Polen reads and watches horror, sci-fi, and fantasy. The Walking Dead, Harry Potter, and anything Marvel-related are likely to cause fangirl delirium. She lives in Bowling Green, KY with her husband, sons, and black cat. Her first novel, Sarah, a YA horror/thriller, was a horror finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Visit her online at www.teripolen.com
For the month of July, the eBook is on sale for $4.99 on Amazon!
Thanks to Teri for sharing her work. I’ve got this one on my TBR list. If you have a few minutes, click over to one of the book links and have a look at this book and share it with other readers while you’re at it.