21. Debriefing Dreams

September 11th, 2016 § Comments Off on 21. Debriefing Dreams § permalink

Chapter twenty-one of Unknown North, a novel that will be published chapter-by-chapter until it’s done. All chapters so far: Unknown North.


“Jesus, it was beautiful, Luce,” Mouse said later, during the team’s private debriefing. Of all of them assembled, Henry and Sophie seemed the most enrapt. “I was in, like, a jungle or something. Swear to God, man—huge trees and all these ferns and lots of strange noises. I assume they were animals…”

He shrugged and trailed off; Howard adjusted his glasses and lent in.

“I told you!” Henry declared.

Lorna gave him a stern look—the kids had been invited to the meeting because their dreams and remote journeys seemed eerily similar to what Mouse had experienced, but it was still a scientific business meeting first.

“Are you sure you were on Mars?” Howard asked Mouse quietly, offering Henry a sympathetic wink that told him he’d get his turn soon enough.

Mouse shrugged again, “That’s where you sent me, right?” » Read the rest of this entry «

20. Mouse on Mars

September 5th, 2016 § Comments Off on 20. Mouse on Mars § permalink

Chapter twenty of Unknown North, a novel that will be published chapter-by-chapter until it’s done. All chapters so far: Unknown North.


The media didn’t change its feelings about the PISA Mars mission until Bransen labs sent a monkey to Mars and back—alive. Now they could adjust the spin of their stories into an animal-rights arena, where clicks and visits sadly outnumbered the previous spin of children in danger. It didn’t matter that Bransen treated the first Earthling on Mars like a hero—and better than most zoos—because the question of the animal having a choice about the risks involved was still there. But even then, the interest didn’t start to peak until NASA admitted that PISA appeared to have beaten them at their own game. The naysayers no longer had a leg to stand on, and the spin started to right itself to what Bransen thought was the real issue at hand: A creature from Earth had finally visited another planet. If the Moon had been the bronze medal, then this was the silver, and the gold—visiting another planet in another solar system—was finally imaginable, with PISA pulling ahead. » Read the rest of this entry «

19. Circadia X

August 22nd, 2016 § Comments Off on 19. Circadia X § permalink

Chapter nineteen of Unknown North, a novel that will be published chapter-by-chapter until it’s done. All chapters so far: Unknown North.


John Fobell, as luck would have it, knew breathing systems, and he was more than willing to pitch in to keep his mind off his missing father—another synchronicity that made Bransen smile.

After his parents’ divorce, John had discovered scuba diving—initially to explore the shipwrecks that dotted the Great Lakes like grapeshot—and with it the concepts of rebreathing and various other forms of artificial air. Almost by accident he had then designed his own modified rebreather, twice as efficient and half the weight of its nearest competitor. Howard had glowed with both pride and astonishment at the accomplishments of his son, who had yet to finish his first year of college.

And so, with Mouse, he built a rat-sized pod that could keep its occupant alive for up to six hours, and Mouse and Carlos had added the necessary components for remote control between Earth and Mars. According to the design model (and a brief test of the machine, which Mouse had inexplicably dubbed Circadia X), they would simply drive the pod into the beam of light emanating from the machine and—assuming they pointed it correctly—end up on Mars. This, Ana-loop had assured them, would be accomplished in “too little time for you to measure.” Nobody really knew how this was possible, or even what the pool of extracted psilocybin was for (though it did appear to glow as the beam of light passed through it), but Ana-loop assured them it would work. Her cryptic reply had been “one way for your body, the other for your Radiance.” » Read the rest of this entry «

18. Mouse’s Machine

August 14th, 2016 § Comments Off on 18. Mouse’s Machine § permalink

Chapter eighteen of Unknown North, a novel that will be published chapter-by-chapter until it’s done. All chapters so far: Unknown North.


Mouse was getting restless on planet Earth. He’d been hired to get the team to Mars, and he couldn’t wait to go. His only problem was that the machine he’d been cobbling together (via a running tab at a junkyard thirty-fve miles away) didn’t seem like it would do much in that capacity. At least, not in any traditional sense. He supposed he’d been expecting a super-cool sci-fi rocketship of some kind, but when he stood back beside Luci and looked at his machine, he knew damn well it wouldn’t budge an inch under its own propulsion—if it even had any propulsion.

“It’s not right,” he decided. » Read the rest of this entry «