On a world he doesnt yet know is doomed, Lije, an astrophysicist, sits at a radar tracking station, tracking boring space junk. One night, he notices a satellite veering off course before disappearing into the darkness. Curious, he investigates and discovers a small black hole - and it's getting closer. The Earth has maybe two weeks before it is swallowed.
Years before, Lije's life took a dark turn when Laura Bess, the love of his life, was lost in a plane crash. Little does he know, but this seemingly random discovery in the night sky holds the key to a happiness he never dared to dream he could know again.
After his shift, as he's grabbing a bite in a coffee shop, his lost love walks up and says hello.
Laura Bess, it turns out, is alive-and living in an alternate reality. After Lije gets over his shock, Laura Bess explains that, using a skill she's had since childhood, she was able to step aside; from the crashing plane into one of the alternate universes she calls elsewhens - but she was trapped. In her new life, she finds work at a top-secret teleportation program, hoping to make her way back to Lije. When she is seen vanishing to connect with Lije, the authorities think that she has stolen the secret to teleportation.
Now, Lije must rescue Laura from a sadistic security agent from her alternate universe. With the black hole closing in on his world, can they find a way to cross over to a third elsewhen before it's too late?
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.28(d)|
About the Author
Originally from eastern Tennessee, Gary Bullock is an actor and writer. In past lives, he has been a software engineer, radar operator, Hollywood apartment manager, and DJ. One of his passions is building and flying model airplanes. He lives in western North Carolina with his soul mate, Mil Nicholson.
Read an Excerpt
By Gary Bullock
abbott pressCopyright © 2012 Gary Bullock
All right reserved.
The Reverend Timothy Thurston paused in mid-sermon, the silence broken by the distant honking of a flight of spring-migrating geese, and the soft snoring of—there she is—Mrs. Harken. If only she would, he thought, looking down at his notes to stifle a grin at his private pun.
His topic was "Eternity." Perhaps this best described the length of the sermon, since most of the congregation was by this point, semi-somnolent. Funny, he thought, it's like a scoreless baseball game, or worse, cricket, (which could go on for days). An experience not unlike eternity, as the old seminary joke went.
Tim Thurston was a recently minted Reverend, graduating from Union Theological Seminary in New York, magna cum laude. He was the white sheep in a family of black sheep, from the wilds of urban Pittsburgh, and the only one in his family to attend any center of learning beyond the second year of high school. His undergraduate major had been English literature, during which time he fully fed on Dickens, Trollope, Milton (of course), and Lewis Carroll, among others. This was his first parish and, after a year, he had finally gotten used to the rural pace of life. And his congregation was slowly growing accustomed to his use of literary references other than the King James Version of the Bible.
But there were two in his flock riveted on his sermon. Three, actually, but he didn't count Mr. Osborne, a little elderly man with a perpetual smile on his face, immaculately dressed always, with a Roman Catholic rosary worn as a necklace. Mr. Osborne was not your typical protestant. Not typical at all. The rest of the congregation charitably pretended not to notice.
The two shining little faces, all of eight years old, hungrily absorbed his every word. Laura Elizabeth Austin and Elijah Grant sat together, their parents on either side.
Laura Bess had the penetrating gaze of intelligence, with a serenity of wisdom beyond her years, which could switch in an instant to mischievous laughter. Her large blue eyes dominated her face, framed by Nordic blonde hair, usually in pigtails. She was also an athletic little tomboy, wearing at least two Band-Aids at any given time. Today she wore her best Sunday white dress. Any other day of the week she would be uniformed in mud-caked jeans and a flannel shirt, and boys had better beware—except for Elijah Grant.
Elijah, or more often "Lije," was her best friend. He seemed always serious, with a little-old-man way about him. When he wasn't looking at the ground with a wrinkled brow, he had the thousand-yard stare of a combat veteran. Lije was always "studying" something. If not Thurston's sermon, then it might be a problem in beginning calculus, or the physics of hyperspace. He often became so absorbed that he would "see things" he couldn't explain. He didn't worry his parents about it, but it sometimes made him a little queasy. He too was dressed in his Sunday best.
Both sets of parents eked out a living as farmers, but they didn't expect their children to follow in their footsteps. They knew that both Laura Bess and Lije were special.
They were geniuses.
As long as I am reaching those two, thought Reverend Thurston.
"And what is eternity?" he continued, looking directly at the two children, "Try to imagine it—endless time. Imagine yourself going down a road that disappears in the distance over a hill. Just like our long, long prairie roads that stretch from horizon to horizon. Now, no matter how long you walk or how fast you run, you never reach that distant hill."
He opened a small book and held it up to read.
"In Lewis Carroll's book Through the Looking Glass, the Red Queen tells Alice to run:
'Faster! Faster!' And they went so fast that at last they seemed to skim through the air, hardly touching the ground with their feet, till suddenly, just as Alice was getting quite exhausted, they stopped, and she found herself sitting on the ground, breathless and giddy. ... Alice looked round her in great surprise. 'Why, I do believe we've been under this tree the whole time! Everything's just as it was!'
'Of course it is,' said the Queen, 'what would you have it?' 'Well, in our country,' said Alice, still panting a little, 'you'd generally get to somewhere else—if you ran very fast for a long time, as we've been doing'
'A slow sort of country!' said the Queen. 'Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!'"
He closed the book.
"Perhaps eternity is like that. Where—or rather when, time itself doesn't even exist."
Elijah and Laura Bess looked to each other, struck with the same thought. Mrs. Harken woke up and stifled a yawn. Mr. Osborne smiled beatifically, like a clueless angel.
Later, Reverend Thurston stood at the door, speaking with each member of his congregation as they flowed out of the church. When Elijah and his parents emerged, they shook hands and made the usual minister-flock small talk. And as usual, Thurston singled out Elijah, because he knew the serious little boy would give his honest opinion, always.
"And how are you this morning, Elijah?"
"Fine, thank you, sir."
"I couldn't help but notice you paying attention to my sermon."
"What did you think? Now, you don't have to flatter me."
"Don't know how, sir. Flatter, I mean."
"I wish more people had that handicap, Elijah."
Lije looked at Reverend Thurston for a moment, the way your dog sometimes does when it is trying to figure out what the heck you are saying. He blinked. Twice.
"Well, anyway, I'm goin' to read Through the Looking Glass again. And Laura Bess and me are goin' to talk it over."
"We find our inspiration in unexpected places, Elijah."
Certainly I have, from the mouths of babes, Thurston thought, since coming here from the great metropolis.
"You can call me Lije, Reverend. Most everybody does."
"Sorry, Lije. It slipped my mind."
He turned to Lije's parents, winking. "Brother Grant, Sister Grant. That tadpole is a keeper." (Thurston had picked up some of the regional colloquialisms.)
"Till he's old enough for MIT, Reverend, or wherever he fancies I reckon," said a proud Luke Grant.
The Grants strolled to their car, as the Austin family came out the church door. Thurston greeted them.
"Brother Austin, Sister Austin, I have a very important question for your daughter. May I?"
"Well, of course, Reverend." The Austins were quite used to this routine, as it happened every Sunday with both Lije and Laura Bess.
The minister stooped down. "Well, Miss Laura Bess, did you like my sermon today?"
Laura Bess needed no urging. Thoughts rushed from her like a spring waterfall.
"Yes I did, 'specially the part about time and forever and all? And going down the road? And how that's like forever?"
"I don't know 'bout time, but I was thinking, isn't love s'posed to be like that?"
"You mean, like going down a long road?"
"Could be a bumpy road, Laura Bess. Not always an easy one."
Why did I say that? Good heavens, I'm talking to an eight-year-old girl!
Laura Bess looked at the young minister with something almost like pity.
"Don't worry, Rev'rent. There's more than one road."
Thurston stared at the little girl for a moment, as an unexpected pang struck his heart, and then smiled.
"Well, Laura Elizabeth Austin. You never fail to give me something to think about. Thank you."
"You're welcome, Rev'rent," she said, and scampered away to see Lije before the Grants left, as her parents strolled after.
Reverend Thurston watched the children for a moment, still caught in their spell. The love of his life—he believed at the time—had been Emma Lacey, before he entered seminary. They had been going together for two years. When he finally proposed marriage, she said she would always love him, but she didn't wish to be a minister's wife—who could blame her, he thought—and she didn't want children either. But he did. So. Another road.
He turned to go inside and found quaint little Mr. Osborne waiting to speak to him. "Reverend Thurston," he began, with the same unchanging, beatific smile, "I'm not familiar with the text you quoted today. Was that from the Old Testament?"
Chapter TwoOn the way home, Lije stared fixedly out the rear window of the Grant family car at the ribbon of highway continuously disappearing in the distance. Then he wheeled around to look out the front, as the highway continuously appeared on the horizon.
He thought, Are we moving, or is the road moving beneath us? Does the road exist beyond the horizon, or is it only when we see it?
He turned to look back again, then front, then back. Is this like time? Are we moving through it, or is it moving through us?
He didn't know then that every sufficiently brilliant mind from Plato to Kip Thorne had wrestled with such questions.
A realization started to dawn in his eight-year-old mind—a realization that he was getting both dizzy and nauseated.
Adele Grant heard the alarm in her son's voice and turned.
"What's wrong, honey?"
"I feel sick, Mom!"
"Open the window. Lean out. Luke, stop the car."
Lije barely got the window open before he threw up. The car stopped, and Mrs. Grant handed Lije a handful of tissues.
"Here you go, hon. We'll be home soon."
"You okay, Son?" asked his father.
"I think so. Sorry about the mess on the car door, Dad."
"That's what a garden hose is for, Son. Don't worry about it."
When the Grants arrived home, Adele took her son inside and sat him down in the kitchen. She was concerned. But not worried. This was Lije in full "study" mode, so head-spinning and stomach upset were par for the course. She wished sometimes that he could be like most other kids, as it might make life easier for him, but he was who he was, her little Einstein.
"How about a little ginger ale to settle your stomach, honey?"
Lije brightened, as his mother poured a small glass of the fizzy stuff.
"That's better, my woeful little man. Now why don't you go have a little rest, and I'll call you for dinner."
Lije started upstairs to his room, ginger ale in hand.
"And don't get yourself all wound up, trying to solve the mysteries of the universe!" she added, smiling.
"Somebody's got to, Mom." Lije said and trundled on upstairs.
Chapter ThreeAs soon as the Austin's car stopped in the driveway of their farmhouse, the back door burst open, and Laura Bess sprang out, barefoot. She carefully left her Sunday shoes on the porch and went dashing off to her favorite spot; a grove of stately old trees on a rise in the edge of the newly-sprouted wheat fields beyond the house.
Rachel Austin called to her daughter.
"You be careful now, Laura Bess! Don't go getting that Sunday dress dirty!"
Gordon Austin curled an arm around his wife's waist, smiling as he watched his extraordinary daughter, hair flying, running like a little gazelle.
"No slowin' that girl down, darlin'. She's a force of nature, that'n."
Laura Bess ran to the far corner of the field and into the grove to the oldest, tallest cottonwood, from which hung an old wooden plank swing, suspended by heavy ropes.
She pulled the swing as far back as she could, then leapt onto the seat, stood up, and began to pump the swing higher and higher. When it was high enough, she slid down and sat and looked out over the fields, exulting in the illusion of flying. The farmhouse looked very small now.
I hope someone visits today, she thought. She hadn't seen anyone in awhile—in weeks, it seemed. When they did come, they often seemed surprised to see Laura Bess, and they never stayed for long. She told her parents about them once, but it upset her Dad so much that she never mentioned it again.
Laura swung higher, tucking her legs under on the backswing, then leaning back and pointing her toes on the forward swing. At her zenith, she could see for miles nothing but new growth wheat fields with a small creek meandering through. Over her shoulder she could have seen Lije's home, a half mile away, but for the trees blocking her view. Below her, just the worn spot where she kicked off to start the swing.
Closing her eyes, with the wind rushing in her face, she felt like a bird, or sometimes like a crop-duster pilot, soaring high over the plains. About this point is when Laura Bess would usually jump out of the swing at its highest point, getting the feeling of weightlessness for a second, then landing in a tumble. But she was in her Sunday dress, not her jeans, so she opened her eyes.
What she saw was so startling that she jumped from the swing anyway and landed in a heap in the dirt.
Laura Bess had a visitor.
A broad river flowed through fields of prairie grass where the creek had been. There were no trees, only brushy alder along the riverbank, where a birch bark canoe was beached, and an Indian tepee stood only a few yards away. A young Indian woman sat by a fire, stirring a small pot, with her back to Laura Bess.
At first, Laura Bess realized her Sunday best was now very, very dirty. Did Mom see that? She tried to brush it off while looking toward her home, but the farmhouse was gone. So was the swing.
She took a few cautious steps toward the Indian woman. Sensing Laura Bess behind her, the woman's back straightened. Then she turned. She wore buckskin, with a charm of a white bird around her neck and an enigmatic look on her face.
"H'lo. My name's Laura Bess. What's your name?"
The Indian woman smiled, hands folded in her lap. Laura Bess smiled back.
"Laura Bess? Time for dinner! Come in and wash your hands now!" Rachel Austin's voice called out in the distance.
Startled, Laura Bess turned toward her mother's voice, then turned back to the Indian woman, to say a polite good-bye. But the woman, tepee and campfire were gone. The creek meandered again through the wheat fields. The empty swing was barely moving, and the farmhouse was, once again, home.
Laura Bess looked around her, perplexed, and a little disappointed. A visitor that I never saw before. Well, shoot. She turned and walked home.
Just as she got to the back porch, she remembered her dirty dress, and her Mom's caution. She looked down to brush it off, but it was perfectly clean. She looked back one more time toward her swing tree, wondering, then went inside for dinner.
Chapter FourLater that same evening, Lije lay in his bed reading Through the Looking Glass. The décor of his bedroom was what would become known in later years as "early classic geek." It was filled with books, including The Wizard of Oz, Tales of King Arthur, and books on astronomy, beginning calculus, and space travel. Of course there were movie posters of Forbidden Planet, and The Day the Earth Stood Still (the original version). The figurines on his shelf included Gort, Robby the robot, and Spock.
Lije turned the page to a startling illustration of Alice standing facing a mirror full of stars. She looks like Laura Bess, he thought.
He looked over to his bedroom window. It was a clear and starry night and warm outside. Lije put the book aside, grabbed his pillow and blanket, and went out his window to lie on the porch roof and look at the stars.
He punched up his pillow, made himself comfortable, and began to look for his star of the evening—not the Evening Star, but the one he was going to watch, just this night. He did this whenever the skies were clear enough. Just picked out a star, and watched it for awhile. Tonight the planets Venus and Jupiter, normally the brightest objects in the sky, had already set in the west, so Lije went star hunting, and settled on Sirius, the very bright star in the constellation Canis Major. He liked it partly because it was very bright, and also because it was called the "Dog Star", Canis Major meaning "Big Dog" in Latin. Besides, it twinkled, and the planets didn't.
Excerpted from Elsewhen by Gary Bullock Copyright © 2012 by Gary Bullock. Excerpted by permission of abbott press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reviewed by Janelle Alex, Ph.D. for Readers' Favorite Time doesn't really exist - at least not in the way the average human mind can comprehend. Gary Bullock takes this idea to a whole new level when he crafted Elsewhen. Laura Elizabeth Austin and Elijah Grant appear as children in the early stages of the book. They are both considered to be of very high intelligence, even though they were surrounded by farm country in their little rural community. However, Laura Bess, as she was referred to, already knew that she could communicate with people who were not from her time and space. Lije didn't know this about Laura Bess, but he was her constant companion throughout their childhood. By the time they were adults, they were no longer together until Laura Bess suddenly appeared out of thin air one day. Breaking Lije's heart she disappeared once again. What he didn't know was that as much as she wanted to be with him she didn't have full control over her comings and goings. Eventually, the Indian woman from the prologue made a little bit of sense and her connection to a comet that is brighter and more amazing than Halley's comet. The question remained though as to whether or not Laura Bess and Lije would be able to reconnect and share a life together. Gary Bullock's Elsewhen may leave you scratching your head a number of times throughout the story. The first few lines in which Reverend Thurston makes a supposed "private pun" sets the stage for a number of confusing comments here and there throughout that are not ideas or quotes that the average reader is going to instantly connect to and get a giggle from. He does offer some insight into a few of these confusing pieces at the end in a "notes" section though. Overall, Elsewhen will make you view time and space differently. What if there really are parallel planes of existence? What if you could simply focus and step into a different one? Elsewhen is an intriguing tale that will boggle the mind if you try too hard to prove such potentiality.
I think we have an exciting new author here. Elsewhen stimulates a lot of thinking about life and time. Very well written; I could not put it down until it was finished. I hope we will have more good books coming from this author. I would recommend this to anyone for a good read.