It’s Friday, which means I get to bring you samples, interviews, and articles from new voices around the world. Today, I have a special treat for you. Friend and fellow author, Nicholas Adams, has given me permission to share the first chapter of his novella “Imprint” a hard sci-fi with a medical twist.
In return, I got to go have fun and answer interview questions on his blog. Go here to check it out.
First Chapter Sample of Imprint, a Novella
by Nicholas Adams
Malcolm slammed his fist against the mirror. “I’m telling you, Warden. The process isn’t ready yet!”
From under the spider web of fractured reflections, the older man’s image steepled his fingertips. “Now that you’ve gotten that out of your system, would you mind repositioning me so I can see you clearly?”
Malcolm sighed, defeated. He swiped a finger across the broken glass. The floating screen glided across the mirror’s surface to rest within the last unblemished area.
“Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way,” the man in the mirror glowered over his thick-lensed glasses, “let me remind you of the conditions of your exile.”
Malcolm braced himself for the full version of the warden’s favorite speech. “Your prior technological breakthrough caused the outbreak,” he began as if reading from a teleprompter, “and in spite of your synthetic organs’ success in treating life-threatening illnesses–,”
“You mean lifestyle threatening illnesses,” Malcolm interjected.
The warden interlocked his fingers and lowered them onto the black marble desktop, clearing his throat in frustration. “Be that as it may, it was your flawed technology that caused the disease that now threatens to wipe out humanity. And therefore, having been charged with attempted genocide, you have been isolated above the Arctic Circle because you promised the world you could fix this.”
Malcolm pounded his bruised knuckles against the lavatory’s cold, metal countertop. “I know, I know! But I need more time. And Cynthiana is the only remaining test subject. All the others died before I could make the bio-synthetic interface work. There are just too many variables. But, I think I’m getting closer. I just need more time!”
The Warden glanced somewhere off-screen and nodded to his unseen associate. “Time is not something of which you have an abundance. Get to work Doctor. We’ll be looking forward to your next progress report.”
Malcolm’s eyes automatically drifted to the calendar hovering below the warden’s image. Seven Days.
The Warden leaned over to press the button that would end their video-call but paused with his arm hanging in the air. “If you don’t have something significant to report,” he said not looking at Malcolm, “I’m afraid I’ll have to recommend that your exile will end, and we’ll begin the proceedings to schedule your execution.”
Malcolm slammed both palms on the broken mirror. “But, my wife’s condition. She’s terminal. You’ll be sentencing her to death too!”
“No, Doctor Silvestra, you’ve already done that.”
Before Malcolm could respond the warden’s image blinked out of existence, leaving him alone with only his anguished thoughts.
It’s all my fault. I’ve killed her. I’ve killed them all.
Malcolm’s shoulders quaked, as stifled tears dripped into the stainless steel sink. The flood of anguish pressing against the emotional dam broke through.
I can’t lose her. I just can’t. The rest of the planet be damned, but I can’t lose her.
Staring past his reflection, Malcolm spotted the ornately framed award hanging over his cluttered workbench. His stomach twisted. Several years before, when he received the plaque, he felt only pride and achievement.
Now, however, the image only served to remind him of his failure to keep a promise to Cynthiana; to completely restore her health, or, at least, free from her scars and debilitating pain.
Lettering under the bas-relief sculpture seemed to mock him. His eyes scanned the plaque, landing on the keywords that seemed to highlight his failure. Life Sciences Award, Innovative Breakthrough, Synthetic Organ Replacement.
The fancy words reminded him of his triumph—the 3D Nano-Modeling machine that built other devices on a microscopic level. Building on his wife’s work in Neural-Mapping, together they developed artificial organs that could mimic its natural functions.
Newspaper clippings covering his wall displayed headlines from around the globe. Phrases like Miracle, Saves the Life, and Cure for Death seemed to stand out like random street lamps in a darkened city.
Other news articles littering the wall reminded him of what he now fought against; a plague of biblical proportions. Headlines reading Mystery, Deadly, Burn Victims, and Horrific glared at him. The mainstream media sensationalized the outbreak by calling it The Scald.
Malcolm seemed to be the only one who actually understood where the plague came from; his Nano-modeler, v.8.14.
Long before he saw the correlation between his machine and the outbreak, The Scald had already sentenced anyone with an artificial organ to a slow, painful death.
With his newest Nano-modeler, v.10.27, Malcolm began his exile, with Cynthiana and a dozen dying volunteers at a self-sufficient research bunker in the Northwest Territories.
The collapse of civilization seemed to take only a matter of weeks. Accusations of bio-warfare crossed every known geographic and political border until the truth of Malcolm’s plague became public knowledge.
Riots, looting, and doomsday prophets littered the streets around the world. Malcolm barely got Cynthiana and himself to the bunker before the bombs fell, dooming the planet in a nuclear winter.
However, how the world ended no longer mattered to him. Not since The Scald ravaged his wife. Not even the failed experiments and deaths of the other subjects made an impact on him.
Cynthiana’s body yielded to the lesions faster than any recorded case, forcing her to remain in a pool of bio-nutrient gel 24 hours a day. The Scald had inflicted a rare side effect on her; three-quarters of her body became paralyzed and unresponsive to any stimuli.
Malcolm could not help flashing back to the days before The Scald took away her independence.
Want more free stuff? Check out Nicholas’s freebies page.
About today’s guest:
Nicholas Adams grew up in the small, rural town of Boring, OR with his six brothers and sisters.
After graduating from High School in Gresham, OR he attended BYU-ID and received his Associates Degree in Pre-Med. From there he returned to Portland, OR and attended Portland State University where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Biology/Pre-Med before changing his career track to Architecture.
He completed his second Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture at Portland State University before going on to achieve his Master of Architecture Degree from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, UT.
After his graduation he and his wife moved to the Phoenix Arizona area where they adopted four children over the next eight years.
Nicholas currently lives in the Salt Lake City area where he is an Associate member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the League of Utah Writers.
His other interests include movies, singing and motorcycles.
Connect with Nicholas:
- Website: NicholasAdamsWrites.com
- Facebook: @NicholasPAdams
- Twitter: @NicholasAWrites
- Instagram: @nicholasawrites