A father, a daughter, and the end of human life

No war. No demons. No zombies. Just a father and his two-year-old daughter trying to survive.

What began as conceptual tinder when taking my daughter for a “wagon ride” around the neighborhood quickly caught fire. An idea, a spark of inspiration in one bizarre moment became a first draft novel over the following eight months.

The day, a quiet Sunday afternoon in which it was cool enough no homes were using air conditioning. There were no cars passing by, not even the whoosh of vehicles on the highway. The air was  silent but for the song of nature and the plastic wheels of the wagon. The sun was warm on my skin, my little Lady Bug played with her doll and rode behind me, talking to herself.

She asked me questions. I gave her answers. I felt a sense of contentment that is not often found, and then, was struck by a dis-associative sense of otherworldlyness (is this a word? I don’t care). The “what-if” began to assault my waking mind. For days I couldn’t get the picture out of my head, of the lone father at the end of the world dragging his daughter through ruin. I wrote it all down and then forgot about it for a while. I let my sub-conscience do the work. I let my daughter grow up a little.

I treasured every moment that came, then sank into the story.

“The Two That Remained” is not your usual post-apocalyptic tale. There was no war, no zombies, no monsters crawling up from the depths of Hell. One day everyone is alive, and the next they aren’t. All that’s left, is a father who is not satisfied with his life direction and marriage (quitting his happy carrier to be a stay at home dad, wife becoming the bread-winner), and his two-year-old daughter who can’t comprehend what all has changed. This puts a massive burden of emotional weight on his shoulders as they attempt to survive in what’s left of St. Louis, Missouri, while unraveling the mystery of his wife’s involvement in the extinction event.

I wanted to tell a modern fatherhood and marriage story, of the struggles we face and the changing gender roles in the workplace. A story that, though it stands at the end of all we know, there is hope for a future. A story that, even in the worst of times, joy can be found, odds overcome, and moments treasured.

And as events unfold, the question is asked again and again. Are they the only two that remain?

Below are a series of excerpts I’ve narrated to wet your appetite for this project. Take a peek. Share with friends. If it speaks to you, please support! Those who contribute will get an advance eBook copy of the book after the editor is done with it and possibly more! But I need your help.

https://www.gofundme.com/editing-the-two-that-remained?pc=fb_u_g

 

Final Solution: Hard Science fiction thriller

Overview: Final Solution is an interplanetary, hard science fiction thriller set in the near future in which two rival corporations, who are essentially sovereign nations, face down one another with their last remaining warships. The resulting conflict is a high stakes duel, the winner of which will determine the lives of those on Mars. The story’s main character, and POV, David Goddard, is part of The Brethren military, Mars and Saturn’s dominate ruling authority. When a rival startup, The Axis, begins to colonize the moons of Jupiter, cutting in to The Brethren’s profits trading with Earth, a political conflict arises that within a few years devolves into trade sanctions. The Axis solidifies The Brethren’s ill sentiments by bombing Ceres station and killing hundreds. In the wake of this attack, both factions mobilize, constructing small fleets of warships to meet future threats and protect interest. After several years of bloody war, and extended cold war, the factions’ combat ready numbers are each reduced to a fleet of 1. The Axis makes a move to end this conflict by heading to Mars with the intention of nuking Arsia Mons and Valles Rojo (it’s primary settlements), and so The Brethren moves into action, thrusting David Goddard, a two year vet with a guilty past, back into action.

Rough sketch of "The Vindicator" - PV arrays and Rail guns - Hard Science Fiction
Early rough doodles of “The Vindicator” – PV arrays and Railguns. No battery bandoleer.

“Final Solution” plays out as a mix of “Hunt for Red October” and “The Martian”, with both military engagement and technical threats. The dangers of this mission do not fall solely on the back of their enemy’s ship (which even at millions of miles distance can fire, and does fire, back), but on the dangers of space itself and threats within the ship. This dynamic makes for an interesting mix of intrigue, uneasiness, and action, told within the space of a hard science fiction narrative.

If you’re not familiar to the term “hard science fiction” here’s a little graph I made to explain.

Hard science fiction scale

When I set out to write “Final Solution”, I did so with the intention of writing a story with robust characters in a plausible, near future, interplanetary setting. The story was first inspired by reading up on ion propulsion for fun. Yay for nerds. Where I’ve perhaps taken some liberties in how quickly humanity has advanced by the 2070’s, I have more than made up for this in its interesting use of real technology. The ships are smallish, light, cramped, and though they move pretty fast (upwards of 160 km/s at the apex of their continuous acceleration), the story takes place over five months as they travel between their starting points, Europa and Enceladus, to intercept one another at Mars.

But is this story all science and politics? All techno babble and terminology that will put you to sleep? No. Hell no.

“Final Solution” straddles the fence. There are some pretty technical parts, for which I spent a great deal of time researching, but it’s not my aim to keep you there. Text book transposition can only be so interesting in a story marketed as “a thriller”. The chapter structure stays on the lean side (with the exception of a few), and the action is constant, allowing few seldom breaks for you to breathe.

Additionally, as I am sadly a hopeless romantic at heart (certainly a lover not a fighter), there is an integral romantic aspect to the story, however, it is not the focus. The true focus of “Final Solution” is a simple question humans have dealt with ever since the start recorded history, “When you do evil to others, how can you make up for it?”. An eye for an eye, leaves everyone blind.

How can we come back after so much wrong has been done, or do we just keep fighting till everyone is dead? Mutually assured destruction at our own hands. This has been a popular topic of discussion ever since the Cold War, and one that warrants exploring again and again. What truly makes someone evil? Their background? Being that they weren’t lucky enough to be born in the same country, or the same color as you?

If enough of us won’t stand up and say, “No, it ends here, right now,” then one day, humanity will no longer be able to see. Blindness will be our state.

So please, join me on this nail biting adventure. Subscribe to my email list and receive an advance copy. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Facebook. More updates to come in the near future.

Till next time, keep your eyes on the sky, and your dreams on the beyond.