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Free Will Flux
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BOOK DETAILS

  • Paperback
  • Dec.07.2009
  • 9780982592892

Sage gives an overview of the book:

A worldwide earthquake. A planet in chaos. Reality’s fabric—space, time, matter—unraveling. Into this, a man without a past awakens. The time is moments from now. Earth has just been struck by a catastrophic worldwide quake. As the survivors stagger toward an impossible recovery, they discover matters are worse than they realized. It appears the fabric of reality is fraying at the seams. The laws of space, time, and matter are breaking down. Some people adapt; some don't. Some fall prey to newly existent fates worse than death. Whether or not the world can survive such flux is anyone’s guess. Into this: a man loses his memory, a father loses his boy, and a woman who's lost everything is on the verge of losing her mind. As civilization spirals out of control around them, these three strangers find themselves transforming as drastically as their environment. When...
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A worldwide earthquake. A planet in chaos. Reality’s fabric—space, time, matter—unraveling. Into this, a man without a past awakens.

The time is moments from now.

Earth has just been struck by a catastrophic worldwide quake. As the survivors stagger toward an impossible recovery, they discover matters are worse than they realized. It appears the fabric of reality is fraying at the seams. The laws of space, time, and matter are breaking down.

Some people adapt; some don't. Some fall prey to newly existent fates worse than death. Whether or not the world can survive such flux is anyone’s guess.

Into this: a man loses his memory, a father loses his boy, and a woman who's lost everything is on the verge of losing her mind. As civilization spirals out of control around them, these three strangers find themselves transforming as drastically as their environment. When their paths merge, they find connections to one another and answers to their respective mysteries that could only exist in the world as it is becoming.

Free Will Flux is an epic saga and a spiritual parable. A legal psychedelic. A love story. And it’s a glimpse of where we might be headed…if we aren’t already there.

 

Read an excerpt »

1 - T:Zero

 

If you were around when it happened, I know you thought it was the end of the world. How could you not? Everyone was being shaken like a snow-globe for God-knows-how-long. No one knew which way was up, much less what else it could be. Besides, in many ways it was.

After it appeared all the hullabaloo was through, anyone not pinned, paralyzed, or otherwise out of commission clambered for cell phones, the radio, TV, and the internet for some answers. But wouldn't you know it, every speaker and screen was a blizzard of static that raged as, one by one, every last bated breath expired. Mercifully, the dust did eventually settle, and as it did, the static cleared, revealing on screens across the land a welcome face, like mine.

Not that it was me, mind you. Not exactly, though the likeness is uncanny (truly). But no, that particular face belonged to Isaac Pressman, my...predecessor, let's just call him. And come to think of it, while this story is mine every bit as much as his, since I don’t enter the picture until later on, I'll try my best from here on out to avoid giving you the impression that I am Isaac Pressman and he is me, despite how imprecisely true it may be.

Isaac Pressman - forehead and lower lip bleeding, necktie askew, salt-and-pepper locks disheveled - shooed away the wobbly P.A.s still scrambling to get him camera-ready. This was no time to mess with his looks. Not now that they finally got power back.

His producer, Pat, begged him not to broadcast until they had something more concrete than empathy to offer. But Isaac was adamant.

He thought Caleb might be watching.

*

The first thing he noticed was the pain. Wracked by spasms, head and heart hammering, he fell to knees and opened his mouth to scream, but that only made it worse, the hot grit engulfing him, streaming in and scalding his insides. He toppled forward, then onto his side, hacking and spitting and jerking and writhing. For an unendurable moment, pain was all he knew.

The second thing he noticed was the impenetrable blackness. He could see nothing in any direction, and it hurt to try. He clamped his eyes shut but not fast enough. Closed or open now, they burned the same.

A sharp blow from above knocked him to the ground. The sky was falling. Or the ceiling. He strained to shove himself back up, but his shoulder forbade it. Gasping, he groped along the ground until he came to a coarse stone wall. Something hard pelted him on the back of the neck. Something harder grazed his lower spine. He drew small and still, as if that would end the assault.

Only then, submitting to an onslaught he couldn't see, clinging to consciousness as his bones rattled did he realize that the ground was shaking. And the walls. And the ceiling.

He shot forward before even getting to his feet. Rocks pummeled his back and shoulders and skull. He slammed into a wall, paused, swore, and rubbed his bleeding nose. Then the bucking ground spurred him back into action.

He steamrolled through the hailing boulders, spewing clouds of ash. He ran until he found himself airborne, then crashing breathless on a bed of gravel. His right foot throbbed. He reached back and felt the iron rail that had tripped him.

He continued groping around while the ground leapt up at him like insects, biting his arms, legs, and face. And what he felt, he identified as train tracks.

Beneath his own panting and wheezing, he noticed a creaking sound, and though he couldn’t tell from where, he wasn't about to stick around to find out.

Crouching like a cougar he grasped the rails on either side of him and braced his feet against the tracks. Then he pushed off, roaring a wild, wordless warning to anything in his way.

He was a man possessed. The foul dust in the air, the toppled beams and falling slate, the periodic collision with a wall or a hopper - it had all become immaterial beside the exit. All that existed now. He and the exit. Wherever it was.

Just then a cross-breeze brushed his cheeks. A pinprick of light pierced the black void ahead of him. He leaned into the glare and it seemed to tug at him, quickening his pace. He laughed, heedless of how it scorched his throat.

Sunlight streamed in. He could make out the sky. He counted down the seconds to reaching it. Five-four-

Just then, stone, wood, and coal tumbled into his path. Three-

They blotted out the sky and suffocated the breeze. Two-

The way ahead was blocked.

“Son of a...!”

Then the ceiling caved in on him.

*

From the waist up, which is all that his viewers ever got to see of him, Isaac Pressman had a poised and distinguished presence. His blue eyes were two placid seas upon which millions of minds floated each evening (dyed prescription lenses hiding the bland, brown truth). His hair was like a porcelain doll's, each strand fixed in its proper place (with chemicals that forced the crew to flag him as a fire hazard). His shoulders were squared as if by a carpenter (thanks to a tailor using similar tools). His face could register both compassion and dispassion without ever giving one sway over the other (after thousands of dollars in private acting lessons and endless hours in front of a mirror).

“This is Isaac Pressman coming to you live from the World Network News studio in West Hollywood, California, where there seems to have just been an earthquake of unprecedented scale. Our information is limited - we’ve lost contact with all of our field correspondents, but we have technicians working on our receivers right now, and we anticipate that reports will start coming in at any moment.

“I’m sure I speak for all of us here at the WNN studio when I say we hope everyone in the affected region is safe with their loved ones. We don’t yet know the location of the earthquake’s epicenter, although it feels like it had to have been within a few miles of Century City. We also don’t yet know what range it covered. To be honest, we’re not even a-hundred percent sure it was an earthquake, but we are checking on all that now.”

He intentionally neglected to mention the three most popular alternative theories buzzing about the studio, those being a meteor striking the earth or an act of terrorism or war. A jittery and bandaged hand slipped a sheet of paper onto the desk in front of him. As he glanced at the brief, his expression betrayed all his training and experience. He glanced past the camera, scanning the floor for Pat. The stage manager motioned for Isaac to turn his attention back to Camera Three. Isaac hesitatingly complied.

He continued, “Apparently reports have started streaming in from localities across the nation that, just moments ago, were also hit by what seems to have been an earthquake. Towns in Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Utah, Texas.” He paused, blinking rapidly. “Am I reading right? New York? I’m sorry, but is this confirmed?”

*

In an instant, ten years of her life shattered to dust before her eyes. The fitful sleeper that was the ground beneath her feet had dragged her, thrashing, into its nightmare. Her trembling palms and fingers pressed to her tear-drenched cheeks as she watched her babies tip, fall, and shatter on the hardwood floor.

After dousing the fire in her kiln, she flailed around the teetering room, grasping at a bust here, a bowl there, catching only shards and shreds. Empty tubs teetered on their sides, the water they once contained coating the floor. A violent jolt pitched her down, knocking over a clay vase of clay tulips with her. Then a sudden pain overtook her so completely, she forgot all about the shuddering earth until her own convulsions subsided minutes later.

As Savannah struggled for breath, she glanced down and noticed a spreading pool of blood. Her hands and knees stuck to the wet clumps of red-stained clay that had made a swamp of her floor. She didn’t succumb to the nausea that then swept over her, however, nor did she wonder what could be causing so much blood. Her attention was elsewhere.

She was mesmerized by the sunlight reflecting off the sharp angles of clay fragments strewn about her like dead autumn leaves - here the tail of a horse, there the handle of a pitcher, here some petals from a daisy, there the wing of a dove. So long ago, it seemed, she delighted in how the crystalline facets of her windows drew the bright Mexican sunlight into her studio. But now, if her nimble fingers knew how, she would have sculpted an eclipse.

To Savannah, for whom all experience ultimately found form through her discerning eye and dexterous digits, the devastation of these objects that once graced her studio might as well have been the obliteration of her very memories. All too suddenly, her cathedral had become a cemetery - and in more ways than one.

She tried to stand. The cramps tightened. And the blood poured even freer. She fell back down, too weak and in pain to even wonder about the blood flow's source.

Clutching at clumps of the floor, Savannah heard her husband screaming outside - “Savannah! SAVANNAH!” It was as faint as it was strident, and growing louder by the second.

In no time, Manu Fuentes barreled through the door, eyes ablaze. “Savannah.”

But before he even caught sight of her his eyes fixed on a different spot. On the floor beneath her toppled stool, the one he carved. And he stiffened. “Diós mío!” He choked out the words.

He stared open-mouthed at something Savannah had missed. Something nestled into the grotesque mixture of clay and blood. An object about the size of a grapefruit.

Manu staggered over to her side and knelt beside her, raising her by the shoulders just enough to cradle her in his arms. “Querida, talk to me.”

“What was that?”

“It’s over now.” He stroked her forehead, his features twisted.

“Do I look that bad?” she said.

Manu glanced across the room, despite himself. “Why didn’t you tell me you were pregnant?”

Savannah jerked her head up and followed his stare. Her answer got stuck in her throat, but her expression said everything. “I…I didn’t know.”

*

Isaac was given the cue to wrap it up early and lead in to a break. He hated when they did this. “We’ll be right back,” he said.

The green light above the camera switched to red and the ‘On Air’ sign went dark. Pat approached the news desk.

Isaac was already on his feet. “What gives?”

“Isaac, we’re going to let Geena finish the segment.”

One of Isaac’s colleagues, usually on the crime beat, was getting mic’d and made-up.

“What for? What’s the problem, Pat?”

“Let’s take a walk. I’ll tell you in my office.”

Isaac furrowed his quake-tousled brow.

“Trust me on this.” Pat turned and pushed past the crew, forcing Isaac to follow him.

Before Isaac reached Pat’s office door, though, a snippet of the opening theme music heralded the resumption of the newscast, and instinctively Isaac turned to face the cameras, despite being behind them now. On the set, Geena was in Isaac’s seat, sweeping his script aside. On cue, she read from a fresh brief.

“Good morning, this is Geena Monroe sitting in for Isaac Pressman. We have just received word that a city block in Santa Monica has melted. For more on this, we go to Lisa Pickering at the eighteen-hundred block of Wilshire.”

Isaac swallowed. His knees buckled and his blood froze. Faraway he heard Pat’s voice calling his name, but he didn’t respond. He couldn’t, as he watched the monitor zoom in on a steaming, black mound where his home of eleven years once stood.

He bolted to the exit, a single word - “Caleb” - dangling in his wake.

*

The mountain stood bold, its peak yawning above the clouds. It was surrounded by a myriad of its kind, range upon range of craggy crests stretching to the horizon in all directions. Each peak was an island, a foaming ocean of white between them. But there was only one pair of eyes to appreciate it, and they belonged to a woolly behemoth covered head to toe in noxious soot. And as it happened, the view was the last thing on his mind.

After spending the last eight hours clawing his way through six feet of rock, you’d think he’d be singing a merry song of praise, dancing a jig in the sweet sunlight, or dropping to his knees and kissing the soil. But he did no such thing, as he felt neither triumph for his escape nor gratitude for his spared existence. He had no clue how far he was from civilization, and what’s more, he hadn’t bothered yet to wonder.

Not that it would have mattered. Even if he’d known he was as far away from his fellow man as any man ever had been, it wouldn't have meant a thing to him. Not then. Because, while he was extricating himself from an avalanche of rubble, a harsher reality had struck. Not that he might perish in this impromptu grave. Of his survival he was somehow certain. This was worse.

In the collapsed mineshaft, crushed by a saber-toothed blackness, it had suddenly occurred to him that he had no idea who he was.

**

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Note from the author coming soon...

About Sage

Sage Kalmus is the author of the metaphysical fiction book Free Will Flux. A freelance web copywriter/blogger and ghostwriter, he is a Boston University Film School graduate, which is probably why everyone says his writing...

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