*Note- this preface will help to understand the setting. Each chapter links to the next for ease of reading.
This is the opening chapter for a book I am working on that will have a single word title: Liberty , A Story from the Multiverse. I chose that word because it will relate to the story in multiple ways. I have written and published short stories and some poetry, but this is my first attempt at novel-writing. Frankly, keeping track of the moving parts and sheer quantity of words in a novel as compared to a short story is overwhelming. Comments and criticisms are more than welcome.
In the world the story is set in, the industrial revolution, and its drawbacks, began more than one century earlier than in our timeline, there was never a second world war, and technology advanced much faster. For one example, the first personal computers were available by the late-1930s. But many things are similar, such as major movements in art and architecture, a refusal, led by a few wealthy, but greedy men and politicians, to develop and use clean fuel sources. There was a golden age of design in twentieth-century gasoline-powered vehicles, and disastrous climate change brought about by using fossil fuels.
The story takes place after major disasters throughout the 21st century brought on by climate change, including famines, droughts, sea-level rise, water wars, and the dissolution of the U.S.A. into five independent states. Canada and Mexico aren’t addressed in this story but there are references to overseas wars where nations that attack any North American province are dealt swift retribution by the Eastern Coast Alliance, the ECA. And since no one nation on earth wanted to challenge an ECA stealth fighter, attacks on the Alliance Provinces simply no longer occurred. However, the ECA provides protection to its trading partners and patrols near coastlines worldwide, ready to respond when called. It is the wealthiest and, with more than one billion residents, the most populated of the five alliances, followed by the Mountain Pacific Alliance, the MPA.
~ ~ ~
Capitol City, ECA
Thursday, 5:38 pm
Lucas sat back on the bed and gazed through the window at the garden. “Do you think I’m doing the right thing, House?” he asked his home AI. “With Sarah, I mean.”
“Sarah is a fine woman, Lucas. Why do you ask?”
“I don’t know… Maybe I’m moving too fast?”
“Too fast?” House chuckled. “In the time we’ve been together you’ve dated a lot of women and ‘too fast’ has never been an issue for you.”
“I wouldn’t say a lot of women, House. You make me sound like a Playboy.”
“Do I?” House replied. “Let’s see, handsome, educated, wealthy, recently named by Ezine 'Capitol City’s Most Eligible Bachelor'… As for not dating a lot of women, Lucas, you’ve always been the ‘love ’em and leave ’em type. There was Catherine, Miranda, the lingerie model, Sherish, then Cheryl, Deborah, Claret, Angelica, Cleo… You are the classic definition of a playboy, Lucas. Or should I go on?”
“No,” Lucas replied with a laugh, “you’ve made your point.”
“No, I haven’t. My point is that before you met Sarah, you never dated the same woman more than a few times and, frankly, several of them were ‘gold-diggers’, if I have that phrase right.”
“Yes, unfortunately, that’s the right phrase. I never know if the women I date are interested in me, or the social status of being seen holding my arm,” Lucas rolled his eyes at that, “or my money.”
Lucas knew he was a handsome man and, money or not, women found him attractive. But his wealth had always been an issue. Some women felt intimidated by the incredible wealth and social status his name represented while others were drawn to both like bees to honey.
Either way, it was always clear to Lucas after one, or at most a few, nights with a woman if there would be further dates. He was, of course, a perfect gentleman, thanking them for their time with him, and then having a chauffeured limousine drive them home. If he did later see one of those women at a social function of some sort, at least there would be no awkward moments.
“But when you met Sarah, rather than taking her to the penthouse as always before, you came home. And you seemed different, contented, somehow. And I think from the smile on your face, happy. I’ve never seen that look when you came home after a date before. I’ve also never known you not to take your date du’jour to the penthouse.”
“I’m that predictable?”
“Of course, you are, Lucas. And you haven’t been out with another woman since you met Sarah, more than six months ago. And that's a record in my time with you. And Sarah isn't impressed by your family name or your money. You even took her to meet your parents.”
“I did, didn’t I?”
“At your mother’s insistence, yes. But, and perhaps most significant, she is the only woman you’ve ever brought to your home and introduced to me; your other dates only saw the downtown penthouse. Sarah obviously means more to you than any woman you’ve dated before, so, yes, Lucas, I do think you’re doing the right thing.”
Lucas nodded, thinking about his more ‘active’, womanizing life before Sarah. It had been six months and he hadn’t once missed it. “I’ve never felt the way I do when I’m around Sarah,” Lucas said. “This whole being in love thing is new to me. I’ve never been concerned about a woman not wanting me, but with Sarah, it’s different. I guess I don’t want to pressure her, House. I don't want to push her away.”
“I know that kind of love must be new to you, and unquantifiable for me, but I wouldn’t worry about Sarah feeling ‘pressured’. Her heart rate increases when she looks at you as does your own. Having studied everything published on human anatomy, psychiatry, psychology, and intra-human behavior and relationships, my observations indicate that Sarah is deeply in love with you and you with her, even if you won’t admit it to yourself. And that’s even more reason to make the weekend in Liberty special for Sarah, not just for your fascination with old cars.”
“I know. I will try to get her interested in them, though,” Lucas said with a grin.
“That isn’t what I meant.”
“I know that. This weekend will be about Sarah, first, the cars second.”
“I should expect so,” House replied. “You’ve never dated a woman like Sarah so, to use a slang phrase: don’t blow it!”
“I have no intention of doing that,” Lucas said as he thought of the trip to come.
“I’ll wake you early tomorrow.”
~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~
This story was originally posted on Simily.co.
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About the Creator
I enjoy a quiet retirement with my life partner and our three dogs.
It is the little joys in life that matter.
I write fiction and some nonfiction.
A student of life, the flow of the Tao leads me on this plane of existence.
Spirit is Life.