Into the Vast
by DJ Edwardson
The Institute is all Adan knows. And the scientists who run it don’t seem to know or even care who he might have been before he came there. But the strange technology they’ve fused inside of him and his missing memories are only the beginning as he finds himself swept up into a conflict between the researchers and the last remnants of humanity untouched by their experiments.
Part mystical science fiction, part dystopian thriller, Into the Vast is the high-tech exploration of humanity at the pinnacle of innovation and achievement, a time when science has made virtually anything possible. But in getting there, something has been lost along the way. And perhaps the only person who knows what that is, is the one who doesn’t know anything at all.
Step into the journey of one man to rediscover his own identity and in the process to save humanity from its greatest enemy: itself.
Oblivious to the pervasive chill of the alloyed room, three scientists advanced towards the body propped up against the far wall. With substantial effort and little regard for the rigid figure they were dragging, they heaved it onto a shiny chromium cart floating nearby. Once the cargo had been deposited onto the naked metal, the cart hummed forward into the meager light of the corridor and the storage vault door eased shut behind them.
As the cart droned through the endless hallways and intersections of the enormous research complex, the subject’s body began to warm, absolving itself of its bluish tinge. The scientists shuffled along behind it in expressionless silence, broken only by the occasional muted hiss of metal doors opening and closing as they passed through.
Eventually they emerged into a large, domed chamber bathed in soft light. Dominating the center of the room was a mass of seemingly reptilian instruments made of polished metal and suspended from the ceiling by a thick braid of tessellated cables. Another group of scientists had assembled there, awaiting the arrival of the body. They were remarkably similar in appearance. All had gloved hands and wore long, plastic coats. They were close in height and appeared to be of roughly the same, indeterminate age. They watched wordlessly as the cart glided to a stop in the center of the room.
The three figures that had entered along with it paused as the column of instruments descended upon the subject. Once the articulator was in position, each of them extracted a slender cable from the medusa-like apparatus. Immediately, a large number of the machine’s other appendages sprang to life and descended upon the inert form lying on the cart. The movements of the machines were graceful and delicate, but the instruments themselves looked like a violent arsenal of death.
They created incision after incision into the patient, but the tools left no trace when removed. The series of procedures was like a ballet; quiet, subtle, and contemplative, where difficult movements were made to appear effortless. The metal blossom seemed to dote upon the body, but if there were any sentiment evoked by these attentions it would have been one of insect-like efficiency, which treats both offspring and prey with the same level of exacting care.
The other scientists present had taken their places along the edge of the room, sitting on a thin, plastic bench extruding from the wall. Their eyes followed the procedure with unwavering interest, yet their faces remained impassive.
The dull hum of machines finally whirred to a single note of low, white noise and the bouquet of instruments slowly retracted upwards. The body on the table showed no sign of the extensive incursions into its innermost sanctums. The scientists had performed this procedure so many times that it had become a trivial affair. The real challenge lay in the patient’s recovery. It would take quite some time for the full battery of tests to confirm the ultimate success of their endeavor, but they had every confidence that the operation would produce the desired result.
The scientists filed out of the room in orderly fashion, dispersing back to various and sundry parts of the facility where other projects awaited. Two of them, however, had been assigned to the post-op processing of the subject. They accompanied the cart as it slid through a pair of double doors into an antechamber containing a photofiltration unit—an elliptical metal bed with a rounded lid that floated in the air about waist high. The patient, still unconscious, was placed within this coffin-like apparatus. Once the lid was sealed, he was inundated with a dazzling riot of vibrant imagery exploding across the surface of the container, each element passing away almost as soon as it appeared.
The fact that, individually, none of it was recognizable, or the reality that the patient could not actually see any of what he was being shown did not matter. In fact, normal eyesight actually presented a hindrance to what they wished to accomplish. The treatment bypassed the imprecise and error-ridden ocular capabilities of the subject, penetrating directly into the mind, though not very deeply. This was fine because surface thoughts were all that had to be manipulated at this stage.
Without this step, the treatment had met with disastrous results in the past. The patients had to have some level of information in order to function, to give them some sort of context from which to operate, otherwise the mind would not hold together. But only those details which were deemed safe enough and which were absolutely necessary were allowed to be filtered back in.
The two scientists departed to let the machine run its course. When at last they returned, they accompanied the patient into a long-term recovery room in another part of the facility. They dressed him tersely in gray, nondescript clothing made of seamless fabric. The only feature of note in the otherwise homogeneous attire was a black, plastic name tag with luminous white lettering. It read: ‘ADAN’.
If you’re looking for a good read, and a humanizing tale then I’d take a peep. Quite honestly you’ll find a great deal of action, suspense, and intrigue in this title. The Sci-fi elements are blended very nicely with the common. You’ll note that things are not what they seem, and honestly I’d love to see a follow up to this title sooner rather than later. The main character Adan evolves heavily throughout the tale and his choice in friends is questionable at times. I’d say aspects of this book kind of call back to Last of the Mohicans, but also bring in a steady otherwordly feeling to it as well. At the end of it all you get the sense that humanity’s tendency to overstep its boundaries on existence in general are yet again exemplified. Again, I’d love to see more of Adan, and his evolution.
About the Author
DJ Edwardson was born on the west coast, raised in the midwest, and currently lives in the southern part of the United States. He also lived for a time in the northeast after college as well as in Central America (he’s fluent in Spanish) so he’s covered a lot of ground in his short life. A multi-faceted artist, DJ also dabbles in digital art and plays acoustic guitar in his spare time.
His favorite authors are J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. He likes to think that authors who use their initials are better writers but he can’t actually prove it. Although much of what he writes falls in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres, he likes to call his work “imaginative” fiction and often incorporates elements from multiple genres.
Into the Vast, Part 1 of the Chronotrace Sequence, is DJ’s first novel. He is currently at work on the second book in the series, which is due out in the second half of 2013. His short story, The Spirit of Caledonia, is currently FREE.