I’m very pleased to announce that my latest novel, Surviving Immortality, is now available in paperback and any eBook format, at
Dreamspinner Press Publications https://tinyurl.com/y7kffs4a
This story is purely fictional and not based on real people or true events.
This is a story of discovering the fountain of youth, and the upheaval that breakthrough brings to our slightly craze, slightly paranoid, overly greedy society.
When Kenji Hiroshige discovers a formula that will keep people youthful and healthy for several thousand years, he tells the world he will not divulge his formula until every gun, tank, battleship, and bomb has been destroyed. When the world is free of weapons, everyone can live forever. And then he goes into hiding.
Before he disappears, his stepson Matt is exposed to the formula. Kenji takes Matt on the run with him, but as they struggle to elude both government agencies and corporations who will do anything to profit from Kenji’s discovery, Matt learns that world peace might not be his stepfather’s only goal. There may be a darker purpose at work. But what can a young man who’s barely stepped foot off his isolated ranch do in the face of something so sinister?
This is the story of human greed and man’s lust for violence. It’s the story of a world on the brink of destruction, but it’s also a tale of one young man who finds in himself the will, courage, and compassion to stand against the darkness—both outside and within himself.
This is a story of hope.
Kenji knelt before him and rested both hands on his thighs, squeezing tenderly. “I need to go out to get the ball rolling on your passport. You can’t leave this room.”
Matt Reece nodded.
“I’ll bring back food and antibiotics to reduce your fever. I’ll pick up some clothes and shoes too. Western duds and cowboy boots are too conspicuous. And I’ll need a picture for the passport.”
He pulled his iPhone from his pocket. “Stand here and try to look cheerful.”
Matt Reece stood where Kenji pointed. Kenji snapped five pictures.
“But what about my green skin?” Matt Reece asked.
“They can photoshop that.”
Matt Reece dropped back in his chair. “What’s happening to me?”
“Your body is going through changes, things I’ve seen before. I’m sure you’ll be fine once your body acclimates. You should be back to normal by the time we leave.”
And if I’m not?
Kenji knelt before him again. “What name do you want?”
“You need a new identity. We should make it Canadian, rather than American, unless you can fake a British accent. Foreign passports cost more, but they’re safer.”
Being asked to give up your name is no small thing. Neither is the notion of forsaking your nationality. He had already abandoned his home and family, his horse, and now he needed to lose his clothes. To give up more meant losing all his personal history. What was left? Combined with Kenji’s suggestion of baby food, he felt newly born, a mound of clay waiting for the sculptor’s hand. He tried to think of a suitable name, one that might bolster his courage. He thought of Cain, whom God marked with a different color skin and chased from the Garden of Eden. As appropriate as that seemed, it didn’t sound suitable for a first name. He glanced around the room, groping for inspiration. His eyes passed over the vacuum cleaner standing in the corner and moved back to it. He focused on the name in red letters.
“Kirby,” he said. “Kirby Cain, from Saskatchewan, Canada.”
Kenji turned to follow Matt Reece’s gaze. “It’s lucky that vacuum isn’t a Hoover.” He smiled. “Okay, if you can say that fast ten times, then we’ll go with it.”
Matt Reece stared at him, not caring if they used that name or another.
“I’m kidding,” Kenji said. “Kirby it is. And from now on, I’m Yukio Toranaga.” He stepped to the traveling bag, lifted his wallet and American passport, and tucked them into his pocket. He also pocketed a packet of hundreds. A moment later he was gone, leaving only a whisper of the door closing.
Matt Reece leaned out the window. He watched Kenji cross the street and hold out his hand for a taxi. He wondered why Kenji didn’t use Consuela’s car. It was parked on a side street four blocks away. But he recalled Kenji saying they needed to abandon it. Being on the run was a constant burning of bridges, leaving no link from past to present.
A cab pulled to the curb, and Kenji sped off into the morning traffic.
Matt Reece pulled back into the room. On the table between him and the television sat a stack of magazines—Vanity Fair, Architectural Digest, Travel + Leisure. He snatched up the T+Land flipped through the pages. He stopped at a picture of a tropical beach with a Speedo-clad man walking out of the water, still glistening with drops of the sea. He admired both the man and the beach. He tore the picture from the magazine, folded it twice, and carried it to his pile of clothes in the bedroom. He slipped the picture into his jeans rear pocket and fished his grandfather’s watch from the front pocket. The hands had not moved.
It crossed his mind he might feel better if he dressed. He slipped into his T-shirt, socks, and jeans and stepped into his boots. He did feel better, so much so that he lifted his Stetson off the back of the chair and placed it on his head. Standing in his hat and boots, he almost felt himself again.
He shuffled back to the living room and switched on the TV. The screen showed a demonstration in Washington, DC, people holding signs saying Death Before Disarmament and Kill the Infidels under pictures of Kenji and Consuela. People shouted threats. The CNN coverage switched to a mob at Vatican City setting fire to a large devil—with horns, a tail, and a picture of Kenji’s face plastered over the head.
Matt Reece couldn’t sit down. It seemed impossible to relax in the midst of all that hostility. The faces were livid and hate-filled. He wondered if this was how people looked at men being taken to the gallows or electric chair. A minute later he realized he was not half-wrong. Anderson Cooper described the fatwa placed on Kenji and Consuela by the Iranians, and their suspected alliance with the Vatican.
Cooper turned to interview a stock-market analyst about the nine-hundred-point drop that morning at the New York Stock Exchange. An upbeat expert urged investors to buy into this temporary dip in the market. Cooper cut him off in midsentence. “And just in,” Cooper said, putting his hand to his earpiece, and spoke with a note of drama. “CNN now has substantiated evidence that the prime minister of Israel has placed a thirty-million-dollar bounty on the heads of Kenji Hiroshige and Consuela Rocha y Villareal.”
It was the holy mission of the faithful—Muslims, Christians, Jews—to destroy them.
The search would, no doubt, be massive and move quickly. The life he had led to this point was of no use. Knowledge of raising animals and riding the range wouldn’t help. To survive, he needed new knowledge and fresh skills. He and Kenji were caught in the eye of a hate storm, the focal point of the world’s collective rage. Kenji had transformed into a priest to protect himself. Who could he become?
The screen showed mob violence breaking out in several cities—Islamabad, Paris, New York, Oslo, Beijing, Moscow, Delhi, Tehran, and Sydney, Australia. The toll of injuries and deaths was shocking. In Houston, police had fired on a crowd, leaving fifty-three dead and more than two hundred injured.
Britain and Israel had severed diplomatic relations with the United States. “Curiously,” Cooper said, “the White House confirmed rumors that it was not President Harrington who broke off these associations.”
Being raised on a ranch, he never knew until now that the world could rest so squarely on the acts of a single individual. The sheer weight of public opinion began to crush him.
He heard children yelling on the street below, and it somehow merged with the mob on the tube. It seemed like the throngs were downstairs ready to set fire to the building.
He punched the remote, and the TV switched to CNBC. It showed a mountain cabin that he recognized, Consuela’s cabin, only it had yellow barricade tape over the front door. A reporter was saying the body had been found only hours after the grisly murder.
“Consuela,” he whispered. His memory replayed their departure yesterday morning, how odd it seemed to leave without saying goodbye, taking her car, and leaving her stranded.
Consuela was dead. It was a fact, a simple truth connecting other truths. All he had to do was follow the facts backward and see where they led. He consulted his inner reserves and realized he had taken part in murder. He was a teenager, who believed all life was sacred, now as guilty as biblical Cain, and how ironic his choice of new names.
He avoided consciously blaming Kenji, but in the same heartbeat he knew he had to get the hell out of there before Kenji returned. He needed a plan, to change whatever lay in front of him. He tried to take a calming breath but came up short.
He leaned forward, planted his hands on his knees, and sucked air into unyielding lungs. He felt a familiar pressure in the back of his esophagus, and he coughed, long rasping coughs that clogged his windpipe with mucus.
“Oh”—he drew a shallow breath—“fuck.” He dropped the remote as a nervy rush pushed him into a survival response. He had to find a place with enough air, and quickly.
He ripped open the front door and ran for the stairs, already dizzy from lack of oxygen. He flew down to the first floor, unaware Groucho was following him.
He dashed into sunshine. Several people on the street backed away. Groucho whimpered at his side. Heads turned in unison to stare at him. It was alarming to be so intensely visible at the moment he felt most vulnerable.
A homeless person crouched on the pavement a few feet away, scratching distractedly at whatever was crawling in his beard. He shouted, “Praise the Lord. The little green men have landed. Take me to your leader!”