Need more sci-fi in your life? Then check out an excerpt from S. Harrison’s Infinity Lost – and if you keep scrolling down, hey, you can even enter to win a copy!
The first in the Infinity trilogy, Infinity Lost follows Infinity ‘Finn’ Blackstone, the daughter of Blackstone Technologie’s CEO. Blackstone Technologie is the corporation that changed the world: no disasters, no poverty, the ability to destroy and create as it sees fit. When Finn starts dreaming about a past she doesn’t remember, there’s only one person who can have the answers: her father. But when a rogue Blackstone robot begins murdering employees, Finn finds herself in more danger than she could ever imagine.
I stare at Bit for a second, most likely looking as confused as I feel. She smiles at me warmly. All of a sudden, my stomach lurches as my mother’s face flashes into my mind with an electric jolt.
Did I imagine it?!
It was as if my mother had stepped right out of her photograph, her features unchanged by time. But how?
“The woman in the silver suit.” I ask croakily, “Where is she?”
“It was insane, Finn; you should have seen it!” Bit says excitedly.
“Ryan caught you when you fainted and the silver woman activated this room. It literally grew up out of the ground. First the bed appeared and everyone totally freaked out. Ryan lifted you onto it, and then the walls and everything came up out of the ground around us. It was so cool. The tech here is wicked serious, Finn. I’ve never even heard of stuff anything like this existing. Your dad is beyond brilliant.”
“Where did the woman in silver go, Bit?”
“Oh yeah, sorry. She rushed back into the jungle, and just after that the tour guide turned up and called for the nurse. The nurse is out there now, talking to Professor Francis.”
I swing my legs over the side of the bed and stand up. Bit springs from her chair with her arms outstretched.
“I’m fine,” I grumble and head for the door. At least I would if there was a door. I look all around the room. Apart from the eye chart, the walls are blank.
“It’s over there, in the corner,” says Bit, pointing at a bare white section. I crane my head forward, squinting, scanning for a handle or a hinge or a button when a door-sized hole suddenly slides open with a hiss and a young blonde woman walks in. She’s dressed in a white coverall uniform with white shoes and bright-blue gloves, a bold red cross emblazoned on her chest.
“You’re conscious. Good. I’m Nurse Talbot. How do you feel?” “Um . . . OK, I guess.”
“That’s good. Would you excuse us for a moment, please?” the nurse says to Bit. “Just going to give your friend here a final check-over.” “Oh, of course.” Giving me a little worried smile over her shoulder,
Bit slinks out the door; it seals shut behind her with a quiet hiss. “Finn Brogan, is it?” asks Nurse Talbot. “Ah, yes.”
“Sit down, please,” the nurse instructs, lightly shoving me onto the edge of the bed. “Hey,” I protest.
She clicks on a penlight and shines it in my eyes. “Keep still, please.” She waves it from one eye to the other, and then clicks it off. “Any dizziness? Nausea?”
“Alright, then. I’ll just log this session, Miss Brogan, and then you can go and rejoin your friends.”
Nurse Talbot goes to the wall. “Computer. Chart.” There’s a single beep of acknowledgment and a screen blinks onto the blank wall. She begins tapping away on it with her finger.
“Ah, excuse me, nurse?”
“Yes, what is it?”
“The woman who met us when we arrived. Can I ask who she is?”
The nurse keeps tapping at the screen. “Woman?”
“She was dressed all in silver.”
“Oh. She was not a ‘she’ at all. ‘She,’ as you call her, was a Drone Template. A worker robot. Around here we call them DTs.”
“But . . . I’ve seen robots before,” I say with a frown. “They cut the grass at school. They’re clunky plastic and metal. They look like robots. But the way that woman moved and spoke, she . . . she looked real. Human. And her face, it was exactly like my . . . my mother’s.”
Nurse Talbot stops tapping and looks over at me. “Your mother?” “My dead mother,” I reply flatly.
“Oh, I see. The surprise of seeing your deceased mother’s face shocked you into fainting. That explains everything.”
I’m a little taken aback by her cold analysis. “But how?”
“Well, I don’t know the exact technical workings; I’m not an engineer.” She swipes her finger across the screen and it vanishes. “But I do know that on the very rare occasion when Drones are required to speak with visitors, their protective faceplate changes shape to make interactions more . . . personable. I’m not even sure what a DT was doing there. I’ve never heard of one being instructed to greet guests before. Anyway, apparently you thought it resembled your deceased mother. Quite an unfortunate coincidence, I must say.”
“Ya think?” I grunt, shuffling off the bed. “Y’know, you really need to work on your bedside manner.”
Judging by her blank expression, my not-so-subtle insult seems to go right over Nurse Talbot’s head. Either that or she simply ignored it.
“How do I get out of here?”
Nurse Talbot points at a spot on the floor. “Please stand in the center of the room.”
I take a couple of steps forward.
“Computer. Infirmary construct alpha dissolve,” she says into midair.
There is a single beep and then a quiet hissing sound. A hole suddenly grows open in the ceiling and I can see blue sky peeking through treetops. The hole expands to the top edges of the walls and they slide down into the floor, revealing the dense jungle surrounding us. The desk, chairs, basin, and bed all sink into the ground, as well, followed by the gray linoleum floor, which disappears into the soil like oil soaking into a sponge. After a few seconds, it’s like there was never even a room here at all. Just dirt and twigs. Sitting on a stone bench on the edge of the clearing that used to be the infirmary are Bit, and, surprisingly, Ryan Forrester.
“You can all take the path back to your classmates,” says Nurse Talbot.
I’m about to ask what path she’s talking about when she announces, “Computer, open pathway to center.” The jungle undergrowth parts all by itself and a shiny white tile pushes up through the ground beside the stone bench. It’s joined by another and another, building itself tile by tile into a path that soon snakes off into the distance along the forest floor, disappearing around a corner into the tangled foliage.
“Enjoy your visit,” Nurse Talbot says blankly. She turns and looks down toward a bare patch of soil. “Computer. Stairwell.”
There’s a quiet beep and steps instantly form into a descending staircase. She walks down them and is soon gone from sight. The opening molds over with earth again and we’re alone.
Excerpt from Infinity Lost by S. Harrison, on-sale November 1, 2015. Published by Skyscape, an imprint of Amazon Publishing. Copyright © 2015 S. Harrison.
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