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As you can see my copy of Exploring Infinity, edited by Richard Paolinelli, just arrived. It contains my short story “The Last Astronaut”. Here’s a tidbit.
After PEM-1 had been struck by what he later surmised was a type of temporal energy, Booker regained consciousness in a completely ruined space pod. His right leg wasn’t broken, thanks to his EVA suit, but it hurt like the devil. Smoke swirled lazily through the interior and there were a dozen electrical fires smoldering.
The spacecraft was utterly still and leaning about ten degrees starboard. Out the port, he could see daylight and a flat desert with foothills beyond. Part of the chute fluttered into view. He’d landed. There was an atmosphere. The parachute deployed. He wasn’t splattered all over the landscape after all.
He blew the hatch and crawled out. None of the survival equipment escaped the devastation and worse, Mama’s Bible was just ashes.
He was peeling off his EVA suit when he saw some sort of structure in the distance. There wasn’t anything else. Not a road, a trail, nothing. Just a hot breeze carrying dry sand.
He limped to the Infinity Hotel, was greeted by a doorman who seemed unaffected by the heat, and welcomed inside. His leg healed rapidly, and even without a credit card, he was given a room key and told to enjoy himself. The phone system was out, but it would be repaired tomorrow if he wanted to call anyone. There would also be a shuttle to the nearby airport coming tomorrow.
Always tomorrow, except tomorrow never arrived.
To get a greater sense of what this is all about, read Richard’s novel Escaping Infinity. “Exploring is a collection of short tales that indeed “explores” what happens after the novel’s end. Here’s a few of my pages.