So excited to share the first chapter from the second prequel in the Dimension Drift Series, UMBRA! You know you want to read about a hot alien dude being hot, alien, and a dude.
UMBRA – CHAPTER ONE
That’s how long before this planet implodes.
I’m talking about a version of Earth that supports thousands of cities. Millions of buildings. Billions of people. Right now, I’m all that stands between them and instant annihilation.
Welcome to my Tuesday.
I’m Thorne Oxblood, and I fight inter-dimensional disasters.
Leaning against the back wall of Clyde’s Gym, I scan the place for the hundredth time. Something in here is a ticking bomb, but what? This parallel instance of Earth broke off from the prime strain in the 1950’s. Got stuck there, too. Case in point: some teenagers lurk in a corner with pomade-slick hair, white T-shirts, and cuffed jeans. Others guys train on punching bags. Even more lift weights or jump rope. The smell of sweat and sneaker rot is everywhere.
And then there’s me, an eighteen-year-old with a muscular build, short hair, brown eyes, and gray sweats.
I look human.
My earpiece lets out a soft tone. That’s my older brother Justice calling. Together with my younger brother Slate, the three of us make up the royal family for our home planet, Umbra. Our father, Cole, is Emperor of the Omiverse, the universe of universes. Justice takes it all too seriously. Then again, he’s the oldest and next in line for the throne. He loves playing Emperor and I’m his favorite subject to worry over.
I debate about skipping his call, but Justice won’t give up. In fact, if I ignore him, Justice will merely open a drift void and show up here in person. That’s even worse than a voice conversation.
“Accept inbound comm,” I say.
Even though Justice is multiple universes away, his gravelly tone comes through perfectly. “You’ve got less than nine minutes, Thorne. This mission is a bust. You’re sure to fail. Give up. Get out of there.”
In a surprise move, Justice thinks I can’t do this. And maybe I can’t, but that’s not his call. The guy’s not Emperor yet.
“What about saying hello first?” I ask.
“Hello.” Justice snaps off the word. “Now GO.”
“I’m working a mission.”
As an Umbran, my body’s unique. I store tiny cybernetic organisms called sentient. Together with these creatures, my family and I patrol the omniverse. Our goal? Protect things like this very planet. Right now, my sentient are really jacked up. They keep sending me mental images of exploding planets. It’s their way of telling me to leave here already. I’m not going.
“You can’t save every world,” continues Justice. “You know how many parallel universes there are?”
“Many,” I deadpan.
“Right. And this Earth will soon destroy itself anyway. Slate gave me the run down.” Our youngest brother specializes in visions and knowledge, or rather, his sentient do. “This Earth broke off from the prime strain in the 1950’s. New tech has come along only recently. They’re about develop drift void tech. You know what that means. Only half of planets last beyond that stage. Most blow themselves up anyway. Why save their world just so they can destroy it? Move on and go home, Thorne.”
“That’s not your call to make,” I counter. “My sentient guided me here.” I don’t add that my sentient are still sending me kaboom images, which is the equivalent of saying, we take it back—leave.
“No, brother.” Justice isn’t giving up. “There are only six minutes left. Saving this world isn’t possible. You’re not like me and Slate.”
It’s an effort to keep my voice level. “I’m aware.”
Justice and Slate are both far stronger with sentient than I am. Then again, there are ninety-year-old grandmas in my world that have more sentient energy that I do. That said, what I lack in power, I make up for in guts.
“Look, Thorne.” My brother’s voice turns pleading. “It’s my responsibility to watch over you.”
Oh, damn. Now Justice has that hurt tone to his voice. Much as I hate to admit it, the guy really does mean well. It’s just that I’m not his problem to fix. I’m about to tell him that when something happens.
A door along the back wall opens.
My sentient stop sending me explosion imagery. Instead, a sensation of joy courses through my veins. It’s not my emotion; those feelings are coming from the sentient, too. It’s their way of saying that we’re close to finding the schism, which is whatever or whoever is causing this world to end.
“Hold on,” I tell Justice.
A girl steps out through the newly-opened door. She’s young, red-haired, wearing a poodle skirt, and cradling some books and papers in her arms. The name Judy is embroidered on her sweater. To my eyes, the documents glow with crimson light. That’s the sentient telling me that I’ve found what I’m looking for.
Other dimensions and realities overlay this one, even if the humans here can’t detect it. Every so often, something here sets off a destructive chain reaction. That’s a schism. It could be anything, too. In this case, the schism’s just a pile of papers Judy is holding.
My sentient go berserk. They send me mental images of the girl, her father, and those documents. Based on these pictures, I know this girl’s family runs this gym. Judy also does her homework in his office. Those documents are her creation. Whatever she’s working on, it’s important.
Does she need help with her work?
Some extra equipment maybe?
Sentient can tell me what the schism is, but not how to neutralize it. That part needs a little finesse.
All of a sudden, long cracks form in the gym walls and ceiling. It’s an effect that only I can see. My sentient empower me to see how this world is pulling apart. My pulse speeds.
Not long now.
Judy locks the office door behind her. Over in the corner, the greaser kids watch her closely. Or I should say, four of them scan the gym with nervous glances. The tallest one leers in Jane’s direction. Not sure I like the hungry look in his blue eyes.
The girl steps out a different door, one leads to a back alley. The greasers stalk along behind her.
Sometimes it’s tricky to figure out how to fix a schism. With Judy, the job’s pretty clear.
Save the girl.
“I got it,” I tell Justice. “The schism centers on a girl named Judy; she just moved into an alley. Some guys trailed her. I’m going after them.”
“No way.” Justice’s voice takes on a frantic note. “A bunch of guys sneak into a dark alley and you’re following? You have no idea what kind of tech they’re packing. I’m coming in to help you.”
I prowl across the gym floor. More fissures appear beneath my feet. Again, no one in the gym notices; it’s something only I can see.
“Thorne, did you hear me?”
Of course, I heard him. “Stay where you are, Justice. I got this.”
“No! What you’ve got is a damned hero complex that’ll put you in an early grave. Keep this channel open so I can pinpoint your exact location and—”
I click the earpiece off.
The connection is severed. I’m doing this alone.
As I march toward the back door, my brother’s words echo through my mind.
You’ve got a damned hero complex that’ll put you in an early grave.
Justice is wrong; I don’t have a hero complex.
It’s more of a death wish.
My brothers and I make up the royal family of Umbra. We’re expected to have exceptional powers with sentient. Slate and Justice do; I don’t. That makes me the chipped jewel in an otherwise-perfect crown.
I’m the extra prince.
Someone to be pitied as he’s pushed aside.
I won’t have it.
With each mission, I get one step closer to either proving myself worthy of my title or checking out of this game entirely. Am I a true royal or a dead fool? Yanking on the back door, I step out into the darkened alley.
Maybe today things get settled, one way or another.
–End of Sample–
Dimension Drift Reading Order
Dystopian adventures with science, snark, and hot aliens
1. Alien Minds (Spring 2019)
2. ECHO Academy (Spring 2020)
3. Drift Warrior (Spring 2021)