Discovery is my latest book, and there’s a whole lot of secular fun to be had, as the crew encounter alien technology that reveals the needs of their soul. However, it’s got a huge case of characters, so there isn’t a lot of background on every one of them. Today, I go a little into the background of Chris Davidson, the genius astrophysicist who discovered the crashed alien ship that made the mission possible.
The novel is a near-future science fiction story, so this story has a little glimpse into some of the technology and culture, too. Enjoy, then to learn more about the novel, click here.
Chris Davidson walked down the wide but crowded metal hallway, kicking himself for not waiting until after shift change and wondering if that smell was from the people or a faulty atmo system. If only he could get his mom out of here and back to Virginia, but someplace nice. His mom had come to LEO-York because her then-boyfriend said the pay was better. He’d neglected to tell her the cost of living was higher. She was worse off than in Frederick.
Maybe, maybe if this mission pays off like Cole says it will. In the meantime, I just need an hour to say goodbye. That’s what a good son does, right?
A girl sauntered past him in the ragged remains of an outdated spacesuit, neck ring and lining intact, but torn to bare her arms and midriff. A maze of tattoos, a literal maze, covered her skin. Was this the style or was she too poor to afford better?
She sneered at him as she caught his stare, and he almost passed his mom’s apartment while stammering apologies, but at least he confirmed the source of the smell.
The nameplate on the door said, “Cilla Davidson & Rog Bouchard.” He lowered his hand before ringing the bell. Why did there have to be a guy now? Who am I kidding; there’s always a guy. I just never know about it until it all goes re-entry and she’s desperate for her baby to save her. What if it’s already decaying and I come in telling her I’ll be gone for months, incommunicado and unable to help her? How could I tell her that?
For two months, the thought of traveling to the Kuiper belt, father than any human had ever gone, had filled him with excitement that he’d had to hide his smiles lest someone ask him what was up. Now, it just filled him with dread. Maybe I should go back to the port, contact her over the comms…
The door slid open and a muscular man with a bald head and gray chest hair glared down at Chris. “What the vac’ are you doing, loitering at my door?”
“Chris? Chris!” Chris’s mom squealed. She pushed past the man filling the doorway and threw her arms around Chris, squeezing hard. Then she spun him around to face the still busy hallway. “Look! Everyone! My baby has come back from University!”
Face burning, Chris forced a smile and waved, even as he vowed never to walk this hallway during shift change again. Fortunately, she yanked him into her quarters and the door shut between him and all those judging eyes.
“Baby, why didn’t you tell me you were coming?”
“Oh, hold on. Let me change.” She ducked behind the screen that separated the bed from the living area.
He realized then that she’d only been wearing the kimono he’d given her for her last birthday. Meanwhile, Rog was pulling on a shirt he found on the floor. Chris felt his face redden, though he wasn’t surprised.
“So, you’re Cissy’s boy,” Rog said, giving Chris the once over that made him feel 12 again. “We appreciate the monthly stipend.”
I’m sure you do. “It’s for Mom.”
Rog just nodded. “You’re a good son. Hey, Cissy! How ‘bout I get us some victuals? You like LEO-Ale, kid? They drink that in that P-orbit school of yours?”
Chris forced his fists not to clench. It wouldn’t do any good anyway. “Luna Technological Institute in on Drake Station on the Moon, not in polar orbit.”
Rog just laughed and called over his shoulder. “You’re right, Cissy! Kid’s sealed tighter than a lifepod. We’re going to have to teach him the slang. Be right back. Kid, you need a LEO.” He smacked Chris on the shoulder and was out the door before Chris caught his balance.
Chris sank onto the couch and braced his forehead on his hands. He should have called. If he’d just called, he wouldn’t have had to see this. How was he going to tell her anything now?
“That’s better!” His mom’s cheery voice called. She emerged from the screen in a simple T-shirt and jeans, bare feet sporting neon toenails. She plopped herself on the couch and rubbed his back. “You tired, baby? Was it a long trip?”
“Just tell me he’s good to you,” Chris begged.
Her expression darkened. “Is that what this is about? Did Kenya say something? Don’t listen to her. Harpy has had her sights locked on him since-“
“Aunt Kenya didn’t say anything. I didn’t even know about this guy. Look, it’s your business, okay? I, I just need to know he’s good to you.”
She set her arm on his. “Oh, honey. Rog is the oxygen in my air.”
Chris sighed. “You say that about every guy, the ones you tell me about, anyway. And then it’s true for about six months. I don’t want you going through that again. Not when…” He stopped. He hated the whine in his voice. So much for being the daring adventurer.
She patted his arm like when he was little. “Well, don’t worry. It’ll be seven months next week, and he’s never laid an angry hand on me. I hadn’t mentioned him because I know how you worry. But he’s a good man.”
“He’s on a beer run.”
“And dinner! We’re celebrating!”
“Celebrating what?” he demanded.
She leapt to her feet. “You! For the love of air, Chris. What is wrong with you? My only baby comes all the way from the moon to visit. Why wouldn’t we celebrate?”
“Because I came to say goodbye!” He winced at the volume of his voice. Half the corridor must have heard that. He took a breath. “I’m leaving on a, a job. It’s in the outer planets, I probably won’t be able to talk to you for months…”
She sat back down. Her breath came shallow and fast and she looked at him with wide eyes. Chris kicked himself. Why couldn’t he do anything right?
“It’s not government, is it? It’s not the Skin Empire? Because there’s rumors…”
“What? No!” He took her hands. They were ice cold. “Mom, seriously! I’m a scientist. It’s a scientific mission. It’s…” He paused. Thoren would kill him – or worse, remove him from exploring his own discovery – if he told anyone the nature of their mission, even his mom. Especially his mom. “It’s just there’s a lot of travel and a lot of work, and communication is going to be limited.”
“It’s important work?”
It’s going to change humanity’s ideas about…everything. “It is to me.”
“But it’s not near the Rings?”
He bit back a sigh. The Skin Empire had been a boogieman since he was a kid. “Nowhere near Saturn, Mom. Promise.”
She shook her head, more confused than upset. “But you’re so tense!”
“I am not!” he started, then said, “At least, I wasn’t, but then Rog opened the door and he’s shirtless and…”
She giggled. “You sweet, silly boy! You’ve always been so protective of me.” She pulled him into a hug. “Not to worry. I took care of myself long before you were born. I can take care of myself now.”
He returned the hug, but he couldn’t help thinking he’d heard that before, too.