By Jerry Leake
Second Chance is a futuristic psychologial thriller in which Brad Genova
inadvertently discovers Seth Macklin's survival in the year 2021. Wrought
with fear, Brad withholds the news from Angel in hopes of calming Seth's
unpredictable rage. However, tempted by Seth's willingness to collaborate
on a sequel, Brad decides to tell Seth's story, fueled by his desire to write
another best seller. Cautious for his Angel, yet intrigued with the prospect of
continued literary success, Brad takes the bait. Seth Macklin manipulates Brad from
deep within the Virtual Reality Internet, demonstrating technology beyond
Brad's wildest dream. Long after his presumed death, Seth's world-changing
contributions in the field of human biology finances his philanthropic
ideals in Havana, Cuba and the adventure tale which unfolds for his family, and his
Although a sequel to Twin Crossing, Second Chance is a stand alone novel.
Spiral: 241 pages
Edition: GBC Bound
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"Seraph, come!" The man's voice reverberated from within the secret Havana shelter, echoing from one distant loudspeaker to another.
Responding to his master's command, a peregrine falcon flew through the immense underground complex from where Cuban workers were loading weapons and supplies into covert transport vehicles. Seraph soared into a network of corridors, his eyes acutely focused as he wove through his master's domain, his ears honing in on increasingly louder sounds of electronic equipment emanating from a central control room. As the bird approached, he flapped his wings gradually slower, gracefully entering a circular room with a white dome ceiling. He landed on a perch between a console of flashing machinery and a large flat screen monitor whose lights and sounds entertained him. Seraph remained still, wings tucked tightly to his body, tilting his head as he watched the man adjust environmental controls without touching the dials - an electronic sign language to initiate computerized tasks.
The man moved his open hand a few inches left and closed his fist, producing a subtle wash of blue and green lights that were filtered into the room from behind the dome ceiling, their translucent glow paralleling his introspective mood as he watched the 3-D images on screen.
The year was 2021. "Topics Above The Line" had begun and for the next hour, the fifty-three-year-old man named Seth Macklin viewed the satellite show produced in Boston by his niece, Elizabeth Angel Genova. Seth was amazed at how Angel and Brad gloated over their mutual successes at his personal expense and humiliation. He laughed during the opening of her show, immediately recognizing the young male author he had forgotten over the passing decades. He glanced at his flying friend, conceding to the coincidence and irony of finding them together.
"Seraph, can you believe what Angel and Brad have been up to all of this time?"
The falcon flapped his wings, as if acknowledging his master's pained sarcasm. Seth's eyes frozen to the monitor, he shook his head in disgust at each scene Brad Genova described from his novel, Twin Crossing, which portrayed Seth as the evil twin brother of Chance Macklin.
"Computer: Omni View."
Triggered by voice command, the domed ceiling was now engulfed in a 360 degree panorama of 3-D images from Angel's show. Brad was describing the scene from twenty years ago when Seth had been declared drowned after the final conflict with Chance at their New Hampshire summer cottage. Yet, like a spear thrust into him, Brad's novel retelling of the incident unleashed Seth's darker memories of those troubled years, opening an ancient gate to his forgotten past.
"Topics Above The Line" went to commercial break, granting Seth time to explore the Virtual Reality Internet.
"Computer: System Log TNC."
Deeply colored neon lights brought the VR to life, signaling the moment of birth of a digitally rendered biological life form - a canvas of life-art with a single cell organism, spinning and mutating, evolving to greater complexity. Seth admired the mechanical limbs that sprouted within the rotating torso, propelling the digital creature from one part of the domed ceiling to the next, filling the screen into a monstrous alien-like form - a seamless morphing of biology and machinery. Then slowly, as if in pain, the life-art started to de-evolve from the ceiling, deconstructing to its more primal elements. Soon, it died of suffocation, fading to flakes of electronic dust.
Seraph observed this visual ambience of evolution and death in a trance. He seemed to love the VR system. It was a place where the falcon could keep his skills and instincts honed, to experience any scenarios his master pro grammed for his entertainment - hunting and fleeing in the technological land of make-believe. Seraph anticipated entry into the VR when high-powered track lights and cameras in the ceiling moved their laser beams onto him, into formation as a medley of color spectrums.
Seth positioned the VR glasses on his head, savoring the rendered scenery within the central server, smiling with affection to Seraph who was also incarnated into the strange digital world. The VR system Seth owned possessed unique features - complete sensory response: the ability to feel, smell, taste and hear everything that was visually experienced. Within it, one might theoretically die. However, manufacturers of the 2021IS had devised a solution to the death paradox, insuring that any perceived death in the VR would not kill the physical body. They even had a slogan: You can't die trying. Seth often mused over corporate strategies for marketing custom VRs, knowing that such powerful systems were also deadly machines.
"W: Launch Proceed."
A woman's computerized voice politely spoke. "Password, please."
"Welcome to Internet2021. Your menu choice, please."
From deep within the central server, holographic images of people materialized and casually stood in front of Seth: a smiling twin brother, Chance, with his loving wife, Cassandra; and a much younger Brad and Angel - their digital presence showing Seth that time and experience could be eternal. Seth cordially greeted his twin, whose brilliantly detailed image grinned back with the innocence of their youth. As they shook hands, Seth's natural flesh intertwined with colorful digitized flakes of Chance's hand. For a moment, they were the same carefree friends and brothers who used to explore everything together.
Seth turned slowly and nodded an expression of detached politeness to Chance's wife, Cassandra, speaking to her image with calm words, apologizing for their dangerous encounter of twenty years ago when he had assumed Chance's identity and nearly killed her. Seth smiled as Cassandra's electronic image assumed its instinctive human character, her visage portraying a stylish air of anger and fear. Seth knew that the real Cassandra hated him and he certainly understood all the reasons why. But sadly, he sensed that there was nothing he would ever be able to do to change her deep and justifiable contempt for him.
Seth still had to wonder: could any of them ever come to realize who he now truly was? Could Cassandra incorporate her skills in psychology to unlock the complex puzzle of his past, to somehow project herself into the dismal period of adolescent abuse that had tarnished his soul, with no one, not even his twin brother, offering support? Seth could not deny the fact that those he once despised - Chance and Cassandra, Angel and Brad - were an unavoidable part of his family, adjacent links in the chain of his eternal heritage.
Psychologically, he was no longer unbalanced, at least not since the time of his supposed drowning scene detailed in Brad's novel farce. Seth's two decades of undisclosed existence, coupled with his advanced explorations of science and biology - beginning where Twin Crossing had ended (1999), to his discovery of Angel's television show (2021) - had provided him with oceans of time and escape needed for intensive self-healing. Within the twenty-two year gap, Seth's anonymous life-changing accomplishments in human biology had become fully realized in the face of the medical world. He was annually earning millions of dollars for his DNA Regenerative Process, a laboratory procedure which rapidly regenerates human tissue to complete compatibility with any host patient, saving millions of lives every year.
However science was no longer a driving passion of Seth's. Throughout his reflections of those research years it sickened him to observe the rampant abuses of DNA regeneration with the filthy rich desperately trying to purchase a fountain of youth, storing cloned vital organs in stasis until needed.
Cuba was Seth's country, Havana his home. He spent most of his time in the historic and beautiful city, continuing his more philanthropic ideals against a tense backdrop of a powerful military regime. As he watched Brad discuss the climax from Twin Crossing, he saw the outline of a crescent moon forming in his mind, illuminating the idea for a game to be played by them all. Seeing his niece basking in the camera floodlights, imagining the accolades she received from her fans, he wore a look of disappointment - she appeared empty and pathetic, subconsciously crying out for help.
"Computer: Compose Mail!"
A template for an electronic letter appeared.
"Voice Activation. Address: Infinity.Topicsabove.GenovaE. Subject: Mystery Unfolds."
Ready to dictate a letter to her, he thought: Such a shame.
Congratulations on your entertaining show that I happened upon. I should point out, however, that there are two errors to correct. I am not the only one who was abused and Chance knew that all along. I'm excited by the prospect of your solving the mystery which I have planted into your lap. Give my regards to Brad. The next time you two hide alone together, I will surely find you. Ask Chance. He feels that I am still alive. We sense this from each other. As you delete all of your other prank e-mails from the psychotic fans of your show, you will come to know that this letter is, indeed, authentic.
"Computer: Transmit! Log Off! Exit!"