Today, we welcome Gene Doucette and his latest novel,
You might remember Gene from his previous novels,
Immortal and Hellenic Immortal.
From the blurb:
What would you do if you could see into the future? As a child, he dreamed of being a superhero. Most people never get to realize their childhood dreams, but Corrigan Bain has come close. He is a fixer. His job is to prevent accidents—to see the future and “fix” things before people get hurt. But the ability to see into the future, however limited, isn’t always so simple. Sometimes not everyone can be saved. “Don’t let them know you can see them.” Graduate students from a local university are dying, and former lover and FBI agent Maggie Trent is the only person who believes their deaths aren’t as accidental as they appear. But the truth can only be found in something from Corrigan Bain’s past, and he’s not interested in sharing that past, not even with Maggie. To stop the deaths, Corrigan will have to face up to some old horrors, confront the possibility that he may be going mad, and find a way to stop a killer no one can see. Corrigan Bain is going insane . . . or is he? Because there’s something in the future that doesn’t want to be seen. It isn’t human. It's got a taste for mayhem. And it is very, very angry.
About the author:
Gene Doucette has been published as a humorist with Beating Up Daddy: A Year In the Life of an Amateur Father and The Other Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: A Parody. Other novels by Gene Doucette include Immortal and Hellenic Immortal. Gene lives in Cambridge MA with his wife and two children. [source: TWCS Publishing House]
An hour later, Veronica Stanford-Calvin’s head had not yet spun completely off, which Archie considered a sure sign that the party was going well. He was standing to one side in his garden, which was no more a garden than was the lawn at Fenway Park, but it was what one called it when one installed things such as trestles, stone paths, and what-have-you. Most of the Truly Important had already arrived, including the president of the university, who was currently standing directly in front of Archie and engaging him in conversation. He was telling some sort of joke.
“So I said, ‘How do you know it’s cheese when you haven’t even tried it yet!’ ” Having gone utterly adrift in the middle of this story, Archie could only rely upon unspoken indicators, and those indicators suggested this was time to laugh. So he did. The president joined in, which Archie took to be a good sign.
“Anyway,” he said. “Tell me, what are you up to nowadays?”
“Ah! Well, our department—”
“No, no, no. Not the department. You.” Archie smiled. Despite being at his core a man of politics, the president of MIT still took himself to be something of a scientist, or at least a man whose interest lay in the sciences, even if his talents did not.
“I have been thinking a lot about time,” Archie said. This was not the sort of thing one casually admitted to. Fully three-quarters of the university’s Physics Department was working on various renditions of the beast known collectively as string theory and other Grand Unified Theory variants. Archie was no less interested in this pursuit, provided it didn’t end up trampling all over the Standard Model, which he was always rather fond of. The problem was, when it came to superstrings, branes, and so on he often felt as if he had little left to contribute. These were things for younger, nimbler minds—minds that weren’t fighting the urge to declare the entire enterprise specious, as his mind so often was. But time? That was something he always enjoyed thinking about, and almost nobody else was.
"Time, you say?” the president replied, attempting to look intrigued. “You’ve heard Hawking’s thoughts on it, I trust.”
The briefest look of panic suggested that no, he had not heard anything of Hawking’s thoughts on it. Archie optimistically assumed the president at least knew who Stephen Hawking was.
“He asked the question: why do we see time in one direction, but not the other direction?” Archie explained.
“Ah. Um . . .”
“You see, the obvious answer is, because one cannot see something that hasn’t happened yet, which is certainly a decent response from a philosophical standpoint, but in many ways either direction is just as good.”
“Well,” the president responded, trying to catch his footing now that he’d gone and awakened the science geek inside his host, “that’s preposterous. If I were to drop this glass, not only would I spill this really excellent scotch, I’d likely break the glass. If time could flow in either direction equally effectively, then the glass might reassemble itself.”
“So have I solved your puzzle?” he asked.
“No, not at all. But you have raised a much deeper question regarding the second law.”
“Yes. The natural course of events in this universe is for order to move toward disorder in the same direction as the arrow of time. Now, does the arrow of time point in that direction because that is the same direction in which entropy flows, or do we see entropy because we can only view time in one direction?”
The president smiled in such a way as to suggest he was either lost or unwilling to take this any further. “I’m sticking with my first answer,” he said.
“That’s probably for the best.”
“Ah! There’s Michael.” He put his hand on Archie’s shoulder. “Fantastic gathering, as always. Do come out of the corner for a while, would you? For your wife’s sake?”
Archie faltered. “She didn’t . . . send you over here, did she?”
“Of course she did. Now mingle.”
“Right away.” As the president went off to greet Michael Offey, Archie scanned the growing crowd for someone with whom he could successfully mingle. He did know most of his guests well from a professional standpoint, so there was little need for extensive introductions. It was the small talk that always ended up being a problem. He simply didn’t have a vast pool of minor subjects to draw from.
There was one man he did not know. He noticed him standing in the opposite corner of the garden. Dressed casually in jeans and a brown sweater that only adequately covered a white T-shirt, he didn’t seem to fit in with the tastefully appointed crowd or with the uniformed catering crew. Archie scanned his memories for some sort of template upon which to place him, but found he didn’t fit anywhere within his circle of associates. Perhaps he was a driver for the catering truck.
As the host, Archie was fairly sure he was supposed to do something about the stranger. Ask him his business, perhaps. Politely. He was, after all, a very large person—cheerful in expression, but large. So he began elbowing his way through the center, a path that would take him past the catering table. In hindsight, this was not the most intelligent route, direct only in the geographical sense.
“Professor Calvin!” someone exclaimed. He turned. It was Hanna Lu, Professor Lu’s wife. She had planted herself firmly at the center of the buffet table and was guarding the territory with the same conviction as a lioness before a fresh kill.
“Hanna!” He smiled, a learned response transmitted in emergency form from the socialization sector. “How are you?” he asked, kissing her on the cheek.
“This food is wonderful!” she exclaimed. “Have you even tried any of it yet?”
“Not yet.” He tended not to do much eating or drinking at these events until after the bulk of the guests had departed. He had plenty of time to do so, but since Veronica was busily hostessing her way about the place—and not eating—he felt some need to starve out of solidarity with her.
“Try this,” Hanna said, holding out a cracker with some manner of brownish substance smeared upon it. “It’s delicious.”
He took the cracker and was about to pop it into his mouth when a voice he didn’t recognize said insistently from behind him, “Don’t.”
“Excuse me?” he said, turning. It was the strange man in the sweater. He stared at Archie for a few seconds without responding, which was just long enough to make things very uncomfortable. Finally, he said, “You have food allergies.”
“Eh, yes, yes . . . how do . . .” he looked down at the cracker. “Hanna, you wouldn’t happen to know what’s in this dip?”
Hanna stood there, mouth open and mute, so the tall man took the cracker from Archie’s fingers and slipped it into his own mouth. He chewed appreciatively for a few seconds. Archie just stared, wondering why it was he found the chewing so fascinating. He could feel his own second hand slowing down.
“Peanuts,” the man said finally. “Just a trace.”
“Archie?” Veronica called. She had wandered over to the scene looking concerned. “Do you know this . . .” Her hostess light flared on suddenly, and she turned to her large guest. “Hello, I’m Mrs. Stanford-Calvin. And you are?”
“Ronnie,” Archie interrupted. “There are nuts in the dip.”
“Oh! Oh my God!” Veronica shed the happy hostess role immediately and turned into worried wife. “How do you feel? Should I call the—”
“I’m fine,” he said while she busied herself with putting her hands all over his face and neck to check for swelling. Which was unnecessary because it was obvious he hadn’t eaten any of it. If he had, he’d be on the ground and dying or dead already. The scattered guests in the garden pressed toward the buffet table almost instinctively at the noise Veronica was making, two dozen PhDs waiting for someone to ask if there was a doctor in the house.
I’m all right,” Archie insisted again. “This . . . gentleman stopped me before . . .”
But the man was gone.
“I told the caterer.” Veronica was half-shouting as she made a new transformation into righteously angry woman. “I told them not to—”
“Ronnie, I’m . . . excuse me for a moment.” He pushed his way through the gathering and caught a look at the man, who was now walking calmly toward the street, having elected to take the most direct route along the side of the house rather than through it. Archie squeezed around the bush that defined the garden area and straight through the begonia patch to catch up to him.
“It’s a new caterer,” he said loudly. “The old one, he knew not to prepare anything with nuts.”
The man turned. “Ah,” he said simply. “That’d do it.”
“I’m Archibald Calvin,” Archie said, having reached his improbable savior, and extended his hand.
“Corrigan Bain,” he replied, shaking his hand. “You have a shot or something?”
“For the allergy.”
“In emergencies, yes. It’s . . . upstairs. New suit,” he explained lamely.
“You should remember to keep it in your pocket next time.”
“Yes, thanks . . .” Bain started to walk away again, heading, Archie realized, to the motorcycle parked at the edge of his driveway. A stray wind carried the scent of exhaust, suggesting a recent arrival. “Mr. Bain!” he shouted.
“How did you know?” He rubbed his temple and gave a practiced aw-shucks look back.
“It’s complicated,” he said.
“As it happens, I’m very good at complicated things. Have you eaten yet?”
Bain looked at his watch, did a few mental calculations, shrugged, and said, “I’ve got a couple of hours. I could eat.”
“Then please, join us. My wife gets very upset if I let any of our guests leave hungry.”
As part of this blog stop, Gene is giving away one copy of his new novel in electronic format. Enter the Rafflecopter for your chance to win. Good luck!
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