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Authors: Brian S. Wheeler

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Heritage and Shimmer

BOOK: Heritage and Shimmer
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Brian S. Wheeler


Heritage and Shimmer

S. Wheeler


Published by Brian S. Wheeler at Smashwords


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This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to
persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely
coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s
imagination and used fictitiously.


Copyright © 2015 by Brian S. Wheeler



and Shimmer

About the


Heritage and Shimmer

S. Wheeler


“It’s amazing to think about what all this
brown land used to look like before the alien attack, how green it
must’ve been. Amazing and heartbreaking all at the same time.”


Jayce Gorman removed his right hand from the
steering wheel and set it upon his fiancé’s knee. “Well, Bev, all
that land was never as green as most people imagine it was. Some of
the fields were just brown and tan during the years a crop could
still be harvested.”


Beverly sadly smiled. “Oh, I know. And you
always tell me the land was as flat then as it is now.” Beverly
sighed at the barren landscape scrolling outside her passenger’s
window. “Some people say that the land fell into ruin because too
many crops emptied the underground aquifers, and some people say so
many pesticides finally created an irresistible bug.”


Jayce snorted and shook his head. “That
sounds like something an alien apologist would say. I can’t
understand why those people keep trying to place the blame for this
planet’s hardships everywhere but where it truly belongs – at the
clawed feet of those aliens.”


Beverly closed her eyes and focused on the
sound of the car’s strained engine. They were driving across the
heartland to reach the home of Jayce’s mother nestled in the
mountains. They would have such little time for a honeymoon
following the simple wedding ceremony waiting for them in that
stone cottage, and Beverly didn’t want to waste a moment fretting
about those horrible aliens. But she couldn’t help it. The aliens
had inflicted such harm upon their world that a soon-to-be bride
couldn’t be faulted for worrying.


“Do you think the aliens will come back?”


Jayce softly squeezed Beverly’s knee.
“They’ll be back. We have to assume they will be so that we’ll be
prepared. They might return tomorrow, or they might not return for
another century. Sooner or later, they’ll be back, and we’ll be
ready for them.”


Beverly returned Jayce’s hand to the steering
wheel before resting her red locks of hair upon the shoulder of his
uniform. He looked so handsome in his Starwatch jacket, and Beverly
enjoyed imagining all the medals her fiancé would gather upon his
chest as his natural talents and hard-earned skills lifted him to
greatness. It had hardly been twenty-five years since those
fork-tongued aliens appeared from nowhere and attempted to wrestle
Earth away from humankind. Thanks to a small community’s sacrifice
and defiance, humankind had barely repelled the invasion, but the
carnage of that attempted conquest pushed the planet to the brink
of a collapse from which civilization might never have recovered.
The climate continued to warm due to the energy weapons the aliens
blasted against Earth’s armies. Oxygen continued to deplete from
the oceans thanks to the poison leaking from the alien warships
crashed onto the seafloor. Only a rare, sick crop grew on account
of the taint the alien bombs planted beneath the soil. Nearly all
of mother nature’s creatures, both timid and tame, neared
extinction thanks to the infertility drugs the aliens slipped into
Earth’s food chain. Beverly knew nothing about ecology, knew very
little about science at all. She didn’t understand how such poisons
kept harming her world after nearly three decades since the aliens
had arrived to harm it. She suspected such matters would forever
remain beyond the reach of her mind, and so Beverly placed her
faith in the good Lord and believed that the divine creator would
save them before the end ever came.


Jayce grinned as the sunlight streaming
through the windshield forced his eyes to squint. “We’re so lucky
that the Patriot’s Memorial is along the way, Bev. I can’t think of
a better way to celebrate my graduation from the Starwatch academy
than to stop at that memorial and be reminded what it’s all about.
A visit to the memorial will be a wonderful way to bless our


Beverly felt the tears rise into her eyes.
She felt her lips tremble, and she swallowed so that the sobs would
not escape from her throat. She needed to be strong. She would be
the wife of a Starwatch officer.


Jayce smiled at her. “You’ll see, Bev. We’ll
share a wonderful life together, and there’s not a thing the aliens
can do to prevent from doing so.”


“Do you think we’ll have children?” Beverly


“Of course. Three girls and a boy. Just like
I always say.”


Beverly turned her face back to her passenger
window to hide her doubt. “I hope you’re right. It’s so hard for
anyone to have children these days on account of what the aliens
did to our water supply.”


“You’ll see, Bev. Three girls and a boy.”


“How much further do we have to drive?”


Jayce peeked at his digital watch. “We should
get to the mountains tomorrow afternoon. But it looks like we’ll
reach the Patriot’s Memorial in the middle of the night.”


Beverly shuddered. “Maybe we should camp in
the car and wait until the morning before we visit the


“Come on now, Beverly Wilcox,” Jayce laughed.
“You’re a grown woman. You can’t afford to be an adult child prone
to superstition any more than the rest of us can, not after the
alien attack. Just imagine how all those holograms are going to
glow when we view them in the middle of the night.”


“I’m sorry,” Beverly answered, “but just
promise me we’re not going to see any ghosts.”


“I promise.”


Both of them giggled, and that laughter
pulled Beverly’s thoughts away from aliens and wraiths as Jayce’s
dented car coughed along the miles down the empty interstate
cutting through the heartland. She entertained her driver by
singing the songs her grandfather once played for her on the old
stereo system he kept in the crowded apartment the government
assigned to her family following society’s reform in face of the
alien threat, and Jayce smiled as he listened to lyrics composed in
an age when teenage love and angst seemed the world’s most pressing
concerns. Later, Beverly listened while Jayce named the make and
year of each rare car they encountered on the road. When night
fell, Beverly concentrated on the shoulder of the highway and
helped Jayce spot the nomadic families who took advantage of the
cooler night to shamble a little further down the asphalt while
they searched for a community that might hold a place for them.


Beverly did her best to avoid thinking about
aliens and ghosts, but no matter how proud she felt of her fiancé’s
uniform, she couldn’t vanquish her worry. The night had always been
a time when danger and monsters crawled out from the shadows. The
aliens changed many things, but they never changed that.


* * * * *


“Welcome to the Patriot’s Memorial built by
the Starwatch to forever commemorate the brave men and women of New
Bethany, who defied the alien agenda that fateful, June night. Any
contribution to the memorial’s maintenance fund is deeply


Jayce rummaged through the empty coffee can
brimming with silver change, his fingers digging out quarters while
ignoring the nickels and dimes stained with spilled soda and


Beverly took Jayce’s hand and forced him to
pause. “I thought we were saving all those quarters so we could
rent a private hotel room on our wedding night.”


Jayce patiently smiled. “But we don’t need a
room, Bev. My mother’s cottage has plenty of room to give us some
privacy, and my mom will sleep in the camper parked behind the
house if we ask her to. I thought we might put all these quarters
to a better use. Thought we could donate them to the memorial’s
upkeep. Don’t you think that’s the least we can do to honor the
people of New Bethany?”


“Of course you’re right,” Beverly sighed,
“but you can’t hold it against me. Aliens or not, I’m still only a
day or two away from being a new bride.”


“And I love you for it, Bev, but let’s hear
what the speaker has to say after I dump these quarters into the
donation tray.”


A small screen of blinking, red numbers
tallied the total of Jayce and Beverly’s donation. The sum was
hardly enough to afford the luxury of a private hotel room, but
they hoped the offering might at least supply a little gas for
whatever lawn equipment the Patriot’s Memorial required. The
speaker perched just before the front gate again popped static, and
the recorded words of a faceless narrator drifted through Jayce’s
car window.


“For an additional fifty dollars, the Patriot
Memorial will reward a bumper sticker for your vehicle.”


Jayce sighed. “I wish I had more money.”


“We will one day.”
“Where would I be without your faith, Bev? I’ll just hit this
button on the console to let it know we don’t have anything more to
give tonight.”


The console clicked and the narrator’s voice
returned. “Nearly three decades ago, the vanguard warship of the
alien armada appeared over the star-filled sky above New Bethany,
scouting humanity’s defenses for weaknesses they might exploit to
establish a permanent foothold upon our dear planet. But thanks to
the courage and sacrifice of the men and women resting in this
cemetery, humanity turned away that malicious force from the


“The Starwatch encourages guests to the
Patriot’s Memorial to stroll through the cemetery and consider the
sacrifices made by these good, common people of New Bethany in
their defiance of the alien menace. Please feel free to engage the
holographic projectors mounted atop each of the cemetery’s
tombstones to hear the residents themselves tell of their efforts
that fateful June night. Special thanks to our cemetery’s sponsors,
and please refrain from smoking while on these premises.”


The mechanized iron gate in front of the
vehicle opened, and Jayce guided his car along the single-lane
brick road that curved beneath the barren branches of a dead grove
composed of the carcasses of elm and oak trees. Beverly still
mourned for the loss of so many trees, victims of another blight
the aliens dropped upon the world. Beverly occasionally heard some
elite academic or traitorous educator claim that a beetle, and not
an alien, was responsible for the death of so many forests. Such
fools could deny the truth surrounding them and imagine all types
of conspiracies of science capable of giving a creature as small as
a beetle such a power to devastate. Such conspiracies had been more
commonplace before the Starwatch reformed the school system and
insured each classroom taught a curriculum that set the blame for
Earth’s environmental plight on the aliens where it belonged. It
had taken years to purge the alien apologists from the schools and
from government, and she was happy to think that the children the
good Lord might choose to bless Jayce and her with would never be
exposed to such falsehoods. But Beverly still missed the trees,
missed them more than ever as Jayce’s small, dented car sputtered
down that narrow lane taking them into the heart of the

BOOK: Heritage and Shimmer
7.1Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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