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A Fang-Tastic Author Interview


Blood Is The Nectar of Life

 

This interview and a spicy  excerpt from an early chapter appear at Fang-Tastic Books; a well-known book review site.

Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to write in this particular genre?

I believe it started with my struggle with the forces of darkness and light within myself. A year after writing Scarlet Ambrosia, I see the story through a different pair of eyes.  At the core of the novel is a young man’s struggle with the forces of good and evil within himself and the world around him.  The vampire archetype, I now realize, is a metaphor for my heart’s dream to realize its divine nature.  The supernatural powers and ramped-up energy level Devon acquires as a vampire make him half-human and half-god, something like the mythological Greek gods.  He can choose to use his new powers for good or evil purposes. 

I believe everyone has the potential to become a divinely human being.  I’ve been a ‘spiritual seeker’ for most of my adult life.  Awakening isn’t easy, but I’ve found it’s worth the effort.  What happens for Devon is happening for me in a much subtler way without the super-human powers, but happily, minus the need to drink human blood.

What is it about the paranormal, in particular vampires, that fascinates you so much?

I’m fascinated by the supernatural powers of my vampire characters.  They are very powerful beings with the capacity to dramatically impact the world around them positively or negatively.

Please tell us about your most recent release.

My latest release is Scarlet Ambrosia.  I’m working on a sequel because I love the characters.  Scarlet Ambrosia is the second novel I’ve published.  The first one is a humorous Science Fantasy thriller titled “Three Days to Darkness.”

Do you have a special formula for creating characters’ names? Do you try to match a name with a certain meaning to attributes of the character or do you search for names popular in certain time periods or regions?

In most cases, I try to make a character’s name show something about the character’s personality and traits.  I try not to make it too obvious.  At other times, a character’s name just comes to me and I trust that the name is the right one.  It’s interesting that the name often corresponds to a character’s traits by coincidence.

Was one of your characters more challenging to write than another?

The antagonist of the story, Egon Schiller, was the hardest for me to write.  This is often the case in the stories I write.  There is always a tendency to make the villain two-dimensional rather than a three-dimensional person with some good traits and intentions.  I feel that the most believable villains are people who have, for one reason or another, given in to their dark side.  A good example of this is Darth Vader.

Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?

Of all the characters in the story, I most enjoyed writing the female love interest, Mathilde de Roche.  Her strength, heroism, and magnetism came naturally as I created her and as I wrote her throughout the story.  That came as a surprise.  I am, after all, a guy.  Like most men, I find women unfathomable in the real world.

Do you have a formula for developing characters? Like do you create a character sketch or list of attributes before you start writing or do you just let the character develop as you write?

I participated in several online screen writing and novel-writing courses offered through the writers program at UCLA.  Professional writers taught these courses.  The teachers stressed that the most successful stories have memorable characters in them.  I learned to create my characters before writing the story using a detailed character template.  I’ve found that knowing what makes my characters “tick” helps make them more interesting and believable.

What is the most interesting thing you have physically done for book related research purposes?

I spent a week in Sedona, Arizona exploring the town’s art galleries, architecture and the energy vortexes.

When did you consider yourself a writer?

When I stumbled into my career in marketing communications, I found writing was the most enjoyable part of the job.

Where can readers find you on the web?

The best places to find me are at my main website www.davidgittlin.com and my blog www.davidgittlin.wordpress.com

Would you like to leave readers with a little teaser or excerpt from the book?

Here’s a spicy excerpt from Chapter Two:

This woman was beyond beautiful.  She was exquisite—no signs of breast implants or a nose job and no tattoos or piercings marred the natural beauty of her face and body.  Her creamy skin felt like the finest silk to Devon’s probing hands.  He unclasped her bra.  His loins tingled at the sight of her full breasts.  He caressed her erect nipples.  She moaned. 

The foreplay had started slowly with exploratory kisses and caresses.  Now he could barely wait to enter her.  Devon removed the last fragments of clothing from their bodies.  The smell of her perfume, the feel of her body, and the sensation of her soft hands on his buttocks almost made him explode prematurely.

Being inside this woman was like nothing he had experienced before.  Devon lost all sense of physical boundaries.  The sensual pleasure of joining with Mathilde seemed to fill every cell in his body.  He was only vaguely aware of moving inside her.  Their rising passion consumed him.  She kept repeating something in French.  His back arched.  He climaxed.  The pleasure was too intense for his senses to bear.  He lost consciousness.

He woke up next to her on the bed.  She stroked his hair with one hand, propping up her head on one elbow.

Feeling embarrassed, Devon shook his head, unable to comprehend the reason for his lapse of consciousness. 

“I’m sorry if I scared you.  It’s the first time I’ve ever passed out during sex.”

“You didn’t scare me, ma chère.  It only confirms what I was afraid of.”

“Which is?”

“If we go on having sex, it will kill you.”

He laughed nervously.  Had the sex been good enough to cause a blackout?

“I can think of worse ways to die,” he said, covering up for his discomfort.

She kept looking at him studiously.

“You kept whispering something to me in French.  It sounded like: ‘Vous êtez celui que j’ai choisi.’  I think that means: ‘You are the one I chose’”

A whisper of red colored her cheeks. 

“Your French is better than you admit.”

“I don’t understand.   We’ve just met, Mathilde.”

“Don’t worry.  It’s just a game I play with myself.  You remind me of someone I once knew: a handsome, high-minded young man with a sensitive heart.”

“I’m flattered, but it sounds a little more like a fixation than an innocent game to me.”

“Please don’t play the amateur psychologist.”

She pushed him off the bed with a movement almost too fast to see.  One second he lay facing her.  The next thing he knew, he lay on his back on the floor.  Her sudden display of uncanny strength and speed frightened him.  Clambering to a sitting position, he began to collect his clothes from the bed.

“I’m sorry,” she said.  “I wasn’t thinking.  I didn’t mean to alarm you.  Are you injured?”

“I’m still in one piece.”

“I actually do study martial arts, in answer to your earlier question.   Sometimes I forget my own strength.  Let me help you with your things.  Are you sure I haven’t hurt you?”

He had the impression she was lying. 

“I’m fine.  I just think it might be better to leave now.  Who knows what could happen if you toss and turn in your sleep?”

“I apologize for leading you on,” Mathilde said.  “I only intended to meet you in the bar and talk with you.  I thought of it as a minor indulgence, to take my mind off things for a while.  I let my curiosity about you cloud my judgment.  Then, meeting you face to face, you had much more of an effect on me than I anticipated.  I lost control of myself.”

“Is that something that happens often?”

“No,” she answered curtly.  “I’m not that shallow.”

Devon’s thoughts and emotions spun like pinwheels.  Part of him wanted to bolt out the door and finish dressing in the hallway.  Another part, the accountant, needed explanations; wanted to analyze and quantify Mathilde de Roche.  In the end, his own curiosity coupled with her charisma kept him rooted by the bedside.

“I’ve studied martial arts myself.  I’ve never seen anyone move as quickly as you just did.”

She continued to regard him with a serious expression for a full minute before responding. 

“You should leave now, Devon.  I won’t be offended.”

 

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Sneak Preview


Here’s an interview that will appear on my new blog tour later this week.  I figured you guys couldn’t wait so I’m posting it here.  Sales of Scarlet Ambrosia are so strong that we are actually running out of digital copies.  If you’ve been thinking about buying the book, I’d do it now.  You don’t want to get trampled in the Christmas rush.  If you’d like a paperback copy, let me know and I’ll put you on the waiting list for the second printing.  (We never did a first printing.)

Interview

Blood Is The Nectar of LifeWhere are you from?

Good question. Sometimes I wonder.  I was born in North Carolina, grew up in New Jersey, and I’ve lived in Florida for most of my adult life.

Tell us your latest news?

I just finished an outline for a science fiction novel that I feel fits together well and is believable if I can execute it properly.  It’s a great feeling to finish a rough draft and have it come out better than expected. The bad news is I’ll have to do an ungodly amount of research.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing short stories in high school.  I thought I was a genius destined to have a world-wide audience.  That hasn’t worked out exactly the way I expected.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

It happened about five years into my career when I started to work in marketing.  I noticed that writing was the only thing I liked about working.  I quit my day job about ten years ago and I still like to write, but not when it becomes a job.  I admire people who like to work.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I always dreamed of becoming a successful creative writer.  Going from short stories and copy writing to long fiction (novels) seemed like trying to jump the Grand Canyon on Schwinn racing bike.  Some daredevils can do it but I’ve never been one.  So I took an intermediate step and wrote a screenplay with two characters in mind that I thought would be fun to play with.  It was fun.  I wrote two more screenplays before summoning the guts to write a novel.  I turned the original screenplay into my first novel, “Three Days to Darkness.”

Do you have a specific writing style?

I try not to write with a style.  I just write the way I write and hope that someone else will find it interesting and entertaining.

How did you come up with the title?

It just came to me and it really works (I think). 

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

A year after writing Scarlet Ambrosia, I see the story through a different pair of eyes.  At the core of the novel is a young man’s struggle with the forces of good and evil within himself and the world around him.  The vampire archetype, I now realize, is a metaphor for my heart’s dream to realize its divine nature.  The supernatural powers and ramped up energy level Devon acquires as a vampire make him half-human and half-god, something like the mythological Greek gods.  He can choose to use his new powers for good or evil purposes.

I believe everyone has the potential to become a divinely human being.  I’ve been a spiritual seeker for most of my adult life.  Awakening isn’t easy, but I’ve found it’s worth the effort.  What happens for Devon is happening for me in a much subtler way without the super-human powers, but happily, minus the need to drink human blood.

How much of the book is realistic?

I think we have to be careful with the word “realistic” when we’re talking about a novel with paranormal romance thriller tendencies.  I always try to create fictional worlds that work logically if the reader accepts the genre conventions.  I build my characters with relatable motives, desires, and character traits.  Then the story has to evolve believably and the characters have to behave consistently with their basic traits as they grow and eventually make decisions and act in ways that surprise us, but at the same time, we can see where those actions and decisions came from.  I hope this is not too much information.

What books have most influenced your life most?

Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse, had a powerful effect on me when I first read it in my late teens.  I’ve recently read a series of book on spiritual awakening by Saniel Bonder that have inspired me to open up to a higher purpose.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I’d say Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) although I don’t write in his style.  His remarkable imagination and sense of humor inspire me.

What book are you reading now?

 I’ve just discovered a fine new thriller writer by the name of Jeff Abbott. His books are hard to put down and very good for the long plane rides.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

I’m going to read a new novel by Andy Weir titled “The Martian.”

What are your current projects?

I’m working on an outline for a sequel to Scarlet Ambrosia and I’m exploring a new idea for a science fiction novel as I mentioned above.

What would you like my readers to know?

The book trailer for Scarlet Ambrosia is fun and interesting.

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Something Different This Way Comes*


Visit The New Scarlet Ambrosia Site

A year after writing Scarlet Ambrosia, I see the story through a different pair of eyes.  At the core of the novel is a young man’s struggle with darkness and light.  The vampire archetype, I now realize, is a metaphor for my heart’s dream to realize its divine nature.  The supernatural powers and ramped up energy level Devon acquires as a vampire make him half-human and half-god, something like the mythological Greek gods.  He can choose to use his new powers for good or evil purposes.

*Blog title inspired by Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel “Something Wicked This Way Comes.”

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A Thrilling Tale of Two Hearts’ Desires


Blood Is The Nectar Of LifeJust in, this review of my new novel, Scarlet Ambrosia, now available on Amazon.com and coming soon to Barnes and Noble and iTunes.

“There’s a relatively new but rapidly expanding genre on the market called “urban fantasy,” that has as its older sibling the vampire novel, born of Anne Rice’s first book decades ago and now a genre in its own right. And then, there’s the classic vampire struggle between darkness and light—a struggle that immerses unwitting victims, vampires, and survivors in a world dominated by blood-lust.

“With so many vampire novels on the market today, one could wonder at the need for yet another; but Scarlet Ambrosia is a vampire story of a different color, seasoned not so much by the drama of blood-letting as by the more universal themes of self-discovery, human nature, and redemption. Ultimately this is what makes or breaks any genre; especially one such as the urban fantasy or vampire story, which too often tends to eschew self-examination in favor of high drama. And this is just one of the reasons why Scarlet Ambrosia stands out from the urban fantasy genre crowd.

“Sure, protagonist Devon’s outward battle is against an ancient evil vampire, Egon Schiller, but it’s also against himself. Devon is no stranger to the dark forces within him after years of therapy, but the darkness he’s confronting now proves far beyond his wildest dreams.

“Scarlet Ambrosia‘s inner light shines forth: a light that starts with Devon’s inner world and expands to embrace the wider concern of disappearances on the city streets.

“This part is predictable as Devon confronts an undercurrent of blood-lust and vampires in Miami’s underworld. What is less predictable is his foray into the drug world in search of evidence that will support an international investigation into one of Egon’s illegal activities, fostered by his encounter with the sly, alluring Mathilde, who harbors her own secret agenda.

“There’s a suggestion of romance between Devon and Mathilde that’s evident from their first encounter but which is suppressed in their growing focus on greater goals, which are developed as the quest progresses, as evidenced in Mathilde’s statement:

Vanderling fears what Schiller will do every day he roams the earth more than he fears what might happen to us if we fail.” “It’s ironic how Schiller’s existence can matter more in the scheme of things than yours or mine,” he said. “When we first met, I told you I could handle Egon. That was another lie to help you feel more secure in your new situation.

“There is acknowledgement of the forces of light and darkness that occasionally rise up, unfettered, to try to take over people and the world. And as Devon becomes involved in kidnapping and worse, he finds all facets of his life are called into question with a series of decisions that reach out to affect even his relationship with his beloved parents.

“As lies, secrecy, and murders build, Devon finds himself paying for the bad decisions of others, and must come to admit his own inner nature before he can make a proper decision on honing his skills for either greater good or evil.

“The web of lies builds and threatens to immerse everything Devon holds dear, eventually spilling over into something greater than he’s ever known.

“Scarlet Ambrosia is not your usual vampire story. Its intrigue, romance, and thriller writing are all wrapped up in a bigger picture. It offers much food for thought in the course of following Devon’s evolutionary process and decisions, and it’s not a light-hearted romp through a vampire’s realm, as so many such novels offer.

“As such, it’s especially recommended for readers seeking more depth and undercurrents of philosophy in their literary choices. How does a protagonist not become the evil he fights in the process of battle? The classic vampire struggle between darkness and light just assumed a new cloak of complexity here—and wears it well.”

Source: Midwest Book Review, Diane Donovan, Senior e-Book reviewer.

 

 

 

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To Publish or Not


Blood Is the Nectar of LifeTo publish or not to publish…That is the question.

Okay, I wrote the book. Then I re-wrote it five times. Now what? You’re probably thinking–You publish it, dummy. Well, it’s not that simple. It’s almost as big a commitment to self-publish a book as it is to write it. The hardest part is promotion. (See “Book Marketing 101“). To paraphrase, it’s a huge undertaking of time, energy and money. And the results almost never equal expectations, to put it mildly.

So I’m thinking, does the world really need another Vampire novel? Yes, it has a few unique elements, but will the world be a better place with my book in it.

I brought this burning question with me to a weekend retreat in Atlanta. On Sunday, late in the afternoon, an answer arrived. Actually, it was more of a solution than an answer. Write an author’s note and insert it on the last page of the book, a voice told me.

At the core of the novel is a young man’s struggle with darkness and light. The vampire archetype, it turns out, is a metaphor for the (my) heart’s dream to realize its Divine Nature. This is what gives the story “socially redeeming value,” I realized in perfect twenty-twenty hindsight.

So now, I feel more confident and motivated to publish the book. I expressed my thoughts differently in the author’s note to communicate them in more broadly digestible terms. Here’s what I wrote:

Since writing the first draft of “Scarlet Ambrosia,” I’ve gone through many changes.  Fortunately, most of them are for the better.  To put it succinctly, I’ve found a new process of self-discovery.  This new process has allowed me to see Devon Furst’s journey in the story from a new perspective.

Along with his battle against Egon Schiller, Devon’s other major conflict is the struggle between the forces of darkness and light within himself.  This conflict corresponded to my own struggle with these forces when I wrote the novel.  I’m not speaking of alcohol, drugs, or any other type of addiction here.  I’m speaking of my struggle to find peace, contentment, happiness, and a deeply felt purpose to my life.

As I write this, I’m happy to say my new “process” has taken me a long way towards experiencing what I’ve been longing to find for most of my adult life.  By the way, it has nothing to do with becoming a vampire.

 

 

 

 

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Thumbs Up


Three Days to DarknessIt’s time to blast my own horn again.

The Midwest Book Review gave “Three Days to Darkness” a “Thumbs Up.” It’s encouraging when anyone other than my wife, daughter, mother-in-law, and best-friend Joe Canzano responds positively to my novel. (My mother read half the book. She liked the writing but not the story). 

Here’s the review by Diane Donovan, Mid-West Book Review eBook reviewer:

“The magic number is three. Three days to save the world. Three people to help Darius McPherson succeed. And three important life lessons to learn in the process.

The setting is a war being planned in Heaven itself by a reluctant warrior too young to be in Heaven in the first place, and the mission involves saving humanity from its own follies: no mean assignment for a young man killed in a drive-by shooting and suddenly tasked with saving the world.

Three Days to Darkness is about magic on many levels: the incongruity of Heaven and its purposes, the absurdities of Mankind, and the passionate concerns of a boy faced with apocalypse on a scale that moves beyond singular death and into the destruction of humanity itself.

As if this wasn’t enough, add demons and a road that literally leads to Hell (albeit paved with good intentions) and you have a fast-paced thriller novel that defies the usual genre definitions of fantasy, thriller or action piece and creeps into the realm of the impossible.

Three Days to Darkness darkens rapidly as Darius investigates company clinical trials, angel operatives, and deadly courses of action, spicing his approach with a cocky blend of offense and defense that presumes a degree of training he actually lacks: “Crooking his arm, Darius lifted his hand just below chin level with all five fingers splayed. He reminded himself of David Carradine as Caine in a “Kung Fu” TV episode. A more experienced angel operative would certainly prepare to attack with “way more” subtlety, he figured.”

Doses of humor are tossed in for effective comic relief as Darius questions why a Heaven governed by the concept of free will would intervene in the affairs of man – and why it would choose to do so for one event and not another: “Darius sat perfectly still for a while with his hands in his lap before speaking again. “I’m confused,” he said with a solemn expression. “On the one hand, you say everything that happens to a man is the result of free will, and on the other hand, you send me to Earth to stop a pill from going on the market. I don’t get it.” “Good observation, Darius. It sounds like a contradiction, but it’s more like a distinction. We have to pick our fights carefully. We try not to interfere with the operation of human free will. We sat by and watched in horror, for example, when Roman soldiers crucified Christ and terrorists flew commercial airliners into the Twin Towers. But there are times when we must take action, when a worldwide catastrophe could result from human failure, to put it in a shorthand manner. We intervened during the two world wars and the Cuban Missile crisis, to cite a few recent cases. We have also been involved when the psychological, moral or spiritual evolution of the species is at risk. A literal example of such a case was our influence on the outcome of the famous ‘Scopes Trial.’”

What lessons will Darius learn in his latest incarnation as a new angel? He has only three days to absorb them – or witness the end of all days.

Three Days to Darkness is a fast-paced, vivid read that incorporates all the elements of a superior mystery, thriller, and fantasy. It’s certainly not a portrait of a predictable afterlife, a conventional Heaven, or a banal post-life mission. All these facets merge to create a uniquely involving story

blending amusing moments with engrossing encounters between disparate forces; each with their own special interests and agendas.

And Darius? He’s in it for the ride, and takes readers along with him in an unexpected journey through Heaven, Hell, and beyond.”

 

 

 

 

 

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The Millennium Predictions


Nikki and Darren (Actors Justin Nichols and Sophia Bush)

Seagulls falling out of the sky raised a line of puffs on the barren beach as they smacked  into the sand.

Darren glanced upward shielding his eyes from the blazing sun.  Nikki, lying on the pink towel next to him, rose on both elbows.  She screamed.

More birds pelted the beach.  A few hundred yards to the south, it was raining seagulls.  “It’s coming this way,” he told the hazel-eyed beauty.

“Head for the water.  It’s the only safe place,” he shouted.

They raced towards the incoming tide, extending their long, lean bodies over the surf.  The couple pummeled the aqua water with furious crawl strokes, side by side.  When they were far enough from shore, Darren pulled up, treading water.  Nikki’s head broke water just as a wave rolled over her.  She came up coughing and spitting water.  Darren reached out.  She flattened her curvaceous body against his hard torso, encircling his neck with long, slender arms.

Thunder rumbled.  The waves grew higher.  Darren watched in disbelief as the storm of falling seagulls engulfed the Canyon Ranch Spa and Hotel.

“The ‘Millennium Predictions’ are coming true,” Nikki gasped.

The seagull storm swallowed up the hotel.  The bird-cloud mushroomed towards the sleek concrete and steel skyscraper to the north.   The sky darkened.  A  squall rippled towards them from the macabre scene unfolding on the shore.

Darren held her tightly.  “I’ll always love you, even if the world ends.”

Nikki pushed away from him with a wild-eyed expression.

Cut,” the Director yelled from the filming platform six feet behind them.

The computer-generated effects Darren had spent hours studying the night before dissolved on the screen of his imagination.  The newly built Canyon Ranch Hotel gleamed in the South Florida sun, perfectly safe as a dreamer waking from a nightmare in a comfortable bed.

He had been lost in the moment.  He had made it all real.  Instinct and a script two revisions old had taken over.

Darren smacked his head with an open hand.  “Sorry.”

“You’re supposed to say, ‘I thought we could change the future,” the pot-bellied, bearded Director said.  He pulled off his black sunglasses and glared at Darren.  A gust of wind rustled his mane of graying hair.  “Let’s take it from Nikki’s last line, then we’ll break for lunch.”

“Soften your expression,” Nikki told him.  “You look too serious.”

One of the benefits of working with your real-life girlfriend was honest feedback.

They sat at a table for two in the crowded Spa restaurant, next to a picture window overlooking the beach.  Darren munched on an under-sized grain burger with sprouts and raw carrots on the side—no dressing.  Nikki played with a small bowl of whole-wheat spaghetti topped with a hint of marinara sauce—hold the parmesan cheese.

Darren reveled in the few moments of leisurely time they shared before the long night of shooting ahead of them.  Two days of bad weather had thrown production behind schedule.  The production crew had to squeeze six days of shooting into three.  The Director expected actors and crew to stay fresh and energetic, despite the hectic schedule.

Nikki had piled her long red hair in a bun atop her head.  She wore no makeup, only a thin layer of moisture cream for protection.  Darren had met countless beautiful women in his acting career.  Nikki was different from all of them.  She wasn’t self-absorbed, and she wasn’t petty, as most of the women he knew tended to be.  She read voluminously between acting roles, and was a fine painter.  She could be intellectual and sophisticated or simple and playful as a happy child, depending on her mood.

She had stolen his heart shortly after they met at a wedding party eight months ago.  There was only one problem.  It haunted Darren day and night.

“There’s something we have to talk about, Darren darling.  It’s been on my mind for the past few weeks.”

He felt an ache in his heart.  He knew the issue had to come up eventually.

“Not now, Princess.”

“It makes me feel like your daughter when you call me that.”

“I can’t help it.  I believe you’ve come to me from some enchanted land, or sprung up whole from a ponderous book of fairy tales.”

She stopped smiling.

“What’s wrong?” he said.

She appeared to grapple with what to say next.

“Let’s agree to hold off all serious discussions until the film wraps,” he said.  “Until then, we should only try to amuse one another in the few private moments the stingy Director allows us.  Now, stop nibbling at your food.  Eat up.  You need your strength.”

“You eat your grain burger.

“It has no taste.”

“Use your imagination,” she said.

Darren took a bite.  “Mmmm.  He picked up the remaining piece of grain burger and admired it as if it were the Hope Diamond.  “Remind me to ask the chef how they make it taste like dried corn-stalk compost.”

He watched her turn and gaze out the window.  The surf was up, reaching with long fingers, almost up to the concrete foundation of the hotel.  The sun had disappeared behind late afternoon clouds.  He noticed her mood remained somber.

“If you insist on being serious, you might as well tell me what’s on your mind.”   He felt the ache in his chest again.

She sighed deeply.  “These past eight months have been much more than I ever expected, my love.”

“There’s no reason to believe the next eight months won’t be even better,” he said in his best imitation of a well-known motivational speaker.

He had imagined this painful moment too many times.  “I’m concerned about the age difference,” she would say.  “What will happen when we get older?”  No matter what he said in response, her words would mark the beginning-of-the-end their relationship.

“I fell in love with your humor before I fell in love with you,” she said, instead of the dreaded words he had anticipated hearing.

“And you’ve been dying to confess this to me but you didn’t know how,” he improvised.

“Don’t make this into another game.”   Nikki kept staring at him with a horribly solemn expression.

“I’m not from this world,” she said.

“I’m sorry.  I didn’t hear you correctly.  The acoustics in here are awful.”

“Please try to believe what I’m about to tell you.”

“It’s perfect, sweetheart.  Who offered you the role?”

“I’m not trying out a character, Darren.”

“Can’t we just be ourselves with the little time—“

“—I am being myself.  Listen to me.”

He stared into the depths of her searching eyes.  Nikki lowered her voice.  “There are about a million travelers like me scattered in every country of your world.”

Chills ran through his body.  “What are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about the events depicted in ‘The Millennium Predictions.’  I’m talking about a decision you have to make.”

“You’re telling me they changed the script again and didn’t tell me.  They’ve cut down my role.  That bastard who calls himself a Director doesn’t like me.  That’s it.  Isn’t it?

She stared back at him, perfectly still.  “I’m not talking about the movie.”

“You can’t be an alien.  I’ve kissed every inch of your body.  Every part of you is perfectly, beautifully human.”

“Calm down.  We’re attracting attention.”  She placed a hand over his.  “We have the same origin.  Our ancestors seeded the galaxy with our kind millions of years ago.  It was a grand experiment to study how civilizations develop in different environments.  The project is also intended to ensure the survival of our genome.”

He sat there in stunned silence.

“We thought we could blend in and help your civilization grow in a more constructive direction—until recently.  We’ve determined your problems are too severe.  It’s too late for our help.  Your civilization is a failed experiment.  Our work here is finished.”

“But—“

“—Hear me out, Darren.  Some of us, like me, have formed strong relationships while we’ve been here.  We’re allowed to take one person back with us.”  She held his hand tighter.  “I want you to come with me when I leave.”

“Nikki, please, this isn’t funny.  You must stop it now.”

“I’m not joking.  I understand how overwhelming this must be for you.  I’m asking you to be strong.”

“You’re asking me to give up everything and pop off into space with you somewhere.  Why can’t you stay here with me?”

“Your civilization will most likely destroy itself,” Nikki said.

“How can you make a statement like that and sound so sure of yourself?”

“To put it in simple terms, we can chart the future of a civilizations based on socio-economic, environmental, birth rates, art, scientific measurements and other factors.  Our predictive model comes from thousands of civilizations we have studied.”

Darren strained to wrap his mind around what she was telling him.

“What if you get tired of me?”  The words were out of his mouth before he could stop them.  His composure was melting like a sandcastle at high tide.

“Don’t be insecure,” she said.

“I’m twenty years older than you.”

“It never occurred to me.  The average life span of my people is two hundred years.  A twenty-five year difference in couples is quite common.”

“But I’m not going to live that long.”

“You will once you begin taking the bio-agents we’ve developed to stay young. You’re at the height of your powers, Darren.  I’m offering you the chance to stay that way for at least another five decades.”

“It sounds too good to be true.  For all I know, you’ll put me in a cage five minutes after boarding your ship.”

“Darling,” she said with a gleam in her eye, “we’re vegetarians, not meat eaters.”

He smiled, despite the feeling of utter uncertainty.  “Do you think we can last a hundred a fifty years together?”

“Wouldn’t you love to try,” she said, deftly lowering one eyelid.

He leaned close to her.  “Do they need actors on your planet?”

“Yes, my darling.  You’ll have time for at least five different careers in the dramatic arts if you get bored.”

“Look at me, sitting here thinking only of myself while you’re telling me the end of the world is at hand.”

“There’s nothing you can do about it.”

“Can’t your people warn us in some way?”

“The warning signs are everywhere.  Only a handful of people heed them.”

“There has to be a solution.”

“There is, darling Darren.  Come with me.”

“You make it sound so simple.”

It’s not that complicated, my love.  You have no children.  Your parents are gone.  And you’re an only child.”

“I’ve taken a lot of chances in my life.  But this…I need time to think.”

“I understand completely,” she said.  “We’ll talk again after the film wraps.   In the meantime, don’t say a word about this to anyone. It could jeopardize my safety.”

“That’s the last thing I’d ever do.”

She looked at him with an intensity he had never seen before.  “We can do this, darling.  I know we can if you give it a chance.  You’re the perfect man for me.”

He squeezed her hand, kissed her, and walked out of the restaurant on unsteady legs.

The woman known to Darren as Nikki turned to watch the sunset through the picture window.  The orange sun plunged into the ocean surrounded by a bevy of pastel pink clouds.   

Darren was perfect, she thought—bright, handsome, hardy, talented and most importantly, virile.  His sperm count ran off the charts.  She had tested it herself with a kit hidden in her dressing trailer.  It was a miracle the man hadn’t accumulated a brood of children inside or outside of marriage.  She guessed it was due to his exemplary character.  He didn’t believe in having children if he wasn’t going to be there for them as a proper parent.

It was ironic that Darren was destined to father thousands of children though he didn’t know it yet.  He was going to be on the star ship with her one way or another.  Preferably, Darren would decide he couldn’t live without her and leave voluntarily.  That way, she could break the news to him gradually during the journey to his new home.  He would have time to adjust to the idea of becoming an alpha breeding male for her dying race.

She regretted lying about the nature of her mission and the prospect of her lover living another hundred and fifty years.  Even with the bio-agents, the strain of steady breeding would shorten Darren’s life span considerably.  But there were much worse fates in the universe than sleeping with gorgeous women like herself who possessed brilliant minds and a multitude of fascinating professional abilities.

The new job came with an array of attractive benefits.  Aside from his conjugal duties, Darren’s schedule would include a healthy chunk of time in a classroom to avoid his becoming a conversational bore.  Good conversation before mating improved the conception rate dramatically.

To avoid psychological problems, Darren would continue his career in the dramatic arts on her planet as she had promised, under careful supervision of course.  She might even be his “girlfriend” for a while to make the transition smoother. Yes, Darren would adjust and eventually thrive in his new role.  His qualities of optimism and flexibility almost guaranteed it.

The more she thought about it, the more good ideas came to her for selling the new role to Darren.   When you sat back and added it all up, she believed he was a lucky man. This was especially true, considering his slim chances of survival on the sordid, troubled world he would soon be leaving behind.

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