Nemesis: Box Set: Books 1 - 3

BOOK: Nemesis: Box Set: Books 1 - 3
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Nemesis: Box Set
Books 1 - 3
David Beers
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Copyright © 2015 by David Beers

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Fifty Million Years Past

he ship understood the cold
, but that only meant
understood the cold. Time was…nonessential; when one floats through space as long as she had, counting millennia becomes a futile exercise. Even the cold, which had once been so strange to the ship, and thus to her, was now as familiar to her as the companion she traveled with. She had time to think. If nothing else, she had that—and in the beginning her thoughts went to her past, to the reasons behind this voyage, and to her companion. She found herself thinking about him constantly in the beginning, briefly wondering if she had made the right choice and then banning that thought forever from her mind. As time moved on, she quit contemplating her past so much, understanding that it was over. Completely. Indeed, her past had probably forgotten about her, relegated her to its own history, and a piece it wasn’t proud of.

She thought of the cold for a long time, about how long it had been since any light passed over the area she now propelled through. Her home had been a warm place, a habitable place, and yet surrounding it was a place of death and silence. How life ever stemmed from such a cold, dead universe, she didn’t truly understand. The Makers had a plan when they began it all; she had no doubt about that. The Makers. She wondered if she, a Var, floating out in space, nearly alone, was part of their plan. If they had figured her plight into it all, or if The Makers merely started this experiment and let the universe proceed as it wanted. These were the debates of philosophers from her past, and they had no bearing on her current predicament, but what else was she to consider while floating further into nothingness? Was the universe in charge or were The Makers? Or was it an accident stemming from those original creators? Everything occurring after They stepped away only random misfires?

The thoughts went around and around, but there would be no answer. The Makers existed and that was all anyone could be sure of. As for why they did it and where they went? No one knew, and the philosophers could debate their ideas until The Makers returned; it mattered not.

During the million years of her travel, hope died. She had made her choice out of desperation and now she would deal with the consequences. Which were these—unable to die, unable to live, and unable to simply shut her mind down. Millions of years to go, and she would still be here when The Makers returned. Maybe then she could ask them the answers to all those meaningless questions.

She felt the wave roll across the ship, jarring her mind away from its ceaseless thoughts. The ship tumbled, turning over and over, breaking from the smooth path she set it on. She felt herself rolling in space, trying to calculate what was happening, what in the hell was causing such a disturbance.

And then her mind settled as she understood.

That was her past. The thing she left behind so long ago, finally catching up to her, and then moving forward, leaving her behind now. For a long time her past had been allowed to live, and now, the wave showed it was the same as her. Just a wave in space, unable to live and unable to die.

She wondered what it must have looked like, to watch it happen? A thing of monstrous beauty, without doubt. And even now, after all this time, she was saddened at the knowledge of what it meant. Her people were gone. No more. She was the last of them, not even the being she traveled with could claim the blood that flowed through her veins. The wave meant everything she had fought for, everything she had wanted, was finally over. Her past had ended and the future only a bleak, cold, and lonesome place.

The wave meant that her home, her planet, had finally detonated.

Present Day

ichael Hems parked
the truck and turned the engine off.

He didn’t get out, though. He sat there with both hands on the steering wheel, looking straight out the windshield. He smelled of chicken and sweat, a disgusting mixture that he didn’t think would ever truly clean off. Every time he left work, he had the same thought. That the smell would permeate his skin until the day he died. Even when he showered and slept in clean sheets, he thought he could still smell it, the peanut oil, the breading, the frying chicken. He had asked Thera before and she told him he was insane, and that might be true, but it didn’t make the smell go away.

Michael gripped the steering wheel harder, not wanting to get out of the truck, but knowing that he had to. That he couldn’t sit out on the driveway until nightfall. That sooner or later his dad would come outside and whatever ensued would simply happen outside under the sun instead of inside under the roof.

Michael pulled the keys from the ignition and opened the door. He stepped out of the truck and looked back across the cab. He hadn’t had a choice. He needed the truck and there wasn’t any way his father would have let him use it. Thera was out of town this weekend and Bryan’s car was in the shop. He wouldn’t ask Bryan’s dad to come get him, not when he had a perfectly good dad of his own sitting in their trailer.

He smiled at that, a sad smile. Perfectly good dad. That would be on the man’s tombstone if Michael had to spend his life savings getting it. Maybe once he had been a good dad, but no more. Once, a long time ago, when Michael’s mom still lived. But people died. People got cancer and then they died and the world kept pumping out more people who got more cancer and died. The circle of life—wasn’t that what The Lion King called it? The circle of shit sounded more correct sometimes. The truth? His dad wasn’t a perfectly good dad and Bryan’s father knew that. The whole town knew it, but that didn’t make it easier for Michael to give Bryan’s dad a call and ask for a ride. Regardless of what Wren Hems had become, he was still Michael’s father and that brought with it duties that Michael wouldn’t try to put on anyone else. Just because people knew about Wren’s problem, didn’t obligate them to help or give Michael carte blanche to ask for it.

There was a chance his father might be asleep. Four p.m. on a Sunday wasn’t too early to pass out, not by any means, so Michael closed the truck door quietly.

He held the keys in his hand, not wanting to pocket them in case his father
sleeping—he could simply lay them on the couch and head back to his room.

At the door, he heard the television blaring from inside, but that didn’t mean anything either. The damn TV never turned off; it played all night, showing ghost hunters and bounty hunters and any other type of hunter his father could find. Night or day, Wren Hems could wake up and see his shows streaming before his eyes. Michael was honestly surprised he didn’t have a little television in the bathroom so he could watch while he took a shit.

Michael walked inside, his eyes adjusting to the dark around him. He knew where to look though, and he knew what he was looking for, so it didn’t take a hell of a lot of time to realize his dad wasn’t asleep. Wren Hems was awake and not the least bit happy.

“You took my truck again?”

Michael placed the keys on the hook. No need to hide his disobedience by tossing them on the couch. Things would start in earnest now.

“I told you. That’s my goddamn truck. You want a vehicle, you save up and buy one. You don’t get to use mine,” Wren said.

Michael looked at him, the sad smile from outside gone, replaced with a cold stone sculpture of a human face. All he felt was cold, that’s all he ever felt toward his father anymore. A cold that began somewhere deep inside him and spread out everywhere, infecting his mind and heart the same as it did his fingers and toes. A reptilian cold, really. Survival. Protection. Those were the things that mattered when his father woke up with those glazed, yet somehow focused eyes. Michael knew what the focus was on, the anger growing inside Wren. He might have seen Michael, or he might not, but he saw the red coal lighting up inside himself. He saw that for sure.

“I had to go to work. You wouldn’t wake up,” Michael said.

“That’s because I was goddamn taking a nap. You don’t see me in there waking you up when you’re sleeping.”

“It’s back. I put gas in it. It’s fine.” Short and to the point, that was all Michael could get out. If the cold wasn’t allowed to take over, then heat would, and it had been a long time since that happened. He didn’t want to feel the heat, not anymore; he had, years ago, maybe when he was fourteen. He had wanted to take shots at his father, wanted to fight him, to show him with force that he couldn’t torment Michael any longer. He used the heat and for a while the fights had been pretty even. Now, though, if the heat came, there would be no punch for punch. His father would end up in the hospital. Michael was taller, stronger, and not crippled by years of alcoholism. The cold was good because the cold kept Michael’s hands from turning to fists.

“It ain’t fine, goddamnit! That’s my truck and I don’t want to see you using it no more for anything. I don’t care if you have to walk to work, you’re not to use that truck, you understand?”

He felt the heat. It started in his mind, much different from the cold, which seemed to come from his heart. It started spreading down while the cold spread up.

“And if I lose my job?” Michael asked, knowing that he shouldn’t, knowing that he should just shut up and go back to his room, but the heat was in control now.

“Not my problem.”

Michael heard his father’s words and then they stared at each other, his father’s glazed blue eyes and his steady brown ones. He heard the television, someone talking about readings on some gadget, paranormal readings. Ghost show. That’s what was on. A ghost show. And that made sense, because his father was a ghost. An angry one that refused to pass on to the next life, that hung on here for some reason. Michael didn’t know what that reason was, maybe just to piss off everyone it came in contact with. A ghost watching ghost stories. That’s what this was.

“Okay,” he said and turned away, walking back to his room at the end of the hall.

ren watched
his son walk back through the hallway, disappearing from view as he rounded the corner.

How many times had he told the goddamn kid not to use his truck? It felt endless; it felt like every time he woke up he had to tell the kid not to take something of his.

Wren sat up in his chair, the recliner straightening as he did. He blinked a few times and flipped the television to the menu page, where he could look at the time. Hadn’t he just looked? Yeah, he must have, because he wanted to know how long his truck was gone.

That’s not good, Wren

Yeah, of course it wasn’t, but what could he do?

You know what you can do

And maybe Linda was right. He seemed to be hearing her a lot more lately, and he wasn’t quite sure why. He went long stretches without ever hearing her voice inside his head, and then sometimes she would just show up, as if she hadn’t been dead for ten years. She would show up and give him light scoldings, the same as she used to when alive. Linda rarely scolded harshly; it wasn’t in her to do that. Fights with her had been like standing in front of a huge wind turbine, nothing would harm you—just wind blowing all around, and eventually, it wore you down until you gave up.

“It’s all bullshit,” he said aloud, standing up from his chair. And it was. Linda wasn’t talking to him anymore than his kid was listening to him. Linda was dead and Wren was here to shuffle along the broken pieces she left behind. He had done a decent job up until late.

And what would you consider late?
Linda asked.

He didn’t stop walking to the kitchen at the question, though he knew what she was getting at, and he knew the answer was longer than he wanted to admit. He wasn’t going to answer her though. He noticed, over the years, that if he started answering his mind, it was like fueling Linda’s continual return, her continual questions. At first, years ago, her voice made him drop into a deep depression. He had rolled around with her words for hours, unable to silence them, and truly not wanting to. It was the only connection he had to her, besides Michael.

Now, he wished she’d quit talking. He wouldn’t say quit talking forever, though he felt that way. He loved her too much to wish her away forever, or to voice it. But now, things were different. Linda wasn’t here and she wasn’t having to deal with all of this, with raising a kid by herself, with the shattered life a dead spouse leaves. So her constant scoldings…he just wanted her to shut up. To leave him be. He was doing the best he could.

BOOK: Nemesis: Box Set: Books 1 - 3
13.29Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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