Sci-Fi / Romance author, Francisco Rebollo, is on the blog today and he is going to let us have a sneak-peek inside the covers of his latest book.
'An aeronautical love story from an altered world’
All is about to be unveiled…
Oannes Jones is an airline pilot living in a much altered world where a pervasive technology seeps into every part of people’s lives in order to create a compliant, unthinking society.
He believes he has found his purpose in playing father to Riply, a young girl not his own. But he also feels hopelessly torn between two women, one of whom is Riply’s mother.
And then it happens: a dangerous mid-air encounter with a mysterious ball of light – the Orb.
The encounter awakens him to a new reality. Life, the world and even dreams begin to look and feel different. His friends begin to change as well. Clues are laid out for him to follow, most of them provided by Riply.
As dark forces begin to encircle, something happens that will change everything for many people, not least for the child whom Oannes loves.
The Orb nears…
Here goes the autopilot…
Let's take a look inside!
Let's take a look inside!
Prologue: Off the Path of Man
I remember to breathe.
What’s keeping her? I wonder. I can’t look down at the screen, can’t get distracted; at 300 knots, every second is the length of a football field. We’re flying fast and low.
She finally comes into the cockpit, kisses the back of my neck and steadies my mind with her gentle touch.
As the cockpit door closes, I hear cheering and clapping coming from the passenger cabin; they have no idea what they’re in for and still… they applaud.
‘Done,’ she says.
'What did you do with them?'
'Cuffed them to the aft bulkhead… with the passengers’ help,' she says, brushing the seat harness off the co-pilot’s seat with her hand.
She sits down and leaves the harness un-buckled.
I’m glad she’s here for this moment: I'm about to disconnect the autopilot, fly though the approach track; stray from the path of man.
‘This is it, we’re bandidos; outlaws,’ I say.
‘Rads,’ she answers ominously.
The nuclear exclusion zone is only seconds away. The reactor domes shine in the early morning sunlight, giant metal tortoises stand next to their mushroom-shaped grey cooling towers.
She glances at me and I get lost inside her sunny smile one more time.
She sighs and reaches out her hand; I reach out to her and realise… I’m shaking. She rests our intertwined hands on the power levers, she then softly lands her other hand on the small bump on her belly.
‘We’re doing it!’ she says.
As I both savour and suffer what could become our last few seconds, I realise… I’m happy. We’re here together, and at the very least; we’ll be going out our way.
In my heart there is a flame, burning gently for those whom we’ve lost.
Here goes the auto-pilot…
PART ONE: INTERBELLUM
Chapter 1: Svet
I remember the first time I ever saw her.
She’s taking a dirty nappy from one pax and a dirty look from another; a moment later she’s handing out that one-too-many of vodka shots on one side of the aisle, while she compliments a little girl in a wheelchair over her lovely shoes on the other…
…that moment was the very first time I ever saw her smile.
My mind flies back, I go with it.
Apart from that little girl and her family, passengers are giving Svet a real hard time. Passengers don’t like hot cabin crew; and they absolutely hate hot cabin crew who are nice to other people.
She has her supervisor training her; it’s one of her last training flights before fully joining our infamous airline: ‘Stretch Air.’
She barely has time to wipe the sweat from her brow as she serves ninety-nine people. She slowly makes her way up the aisle, pushing her trolley inside that stuffy and loud tube with wings called a ‘Skybusz.’
She doesn’t know I’m a pilot and that’s perfect; because to me, being a pilot is just something I do, not something I am.
My uniform is in my bag. I’m ‘passengering’ back home in my ‘civvies.’ I’m not legal to fly today, I ran out of legal flying hours last night.
As she walks up the aisle, I hope she will notice me for myself; or just, that she will notice me at all.
I catch myself running my thumb over the groove at the base of my ring finger again. I grab hold of it with my other hand and look at her down the aisle.
As she works her way towards the back of the plane, I try to think of something to say that will make me stand out.
Ideally, she’ll finish her training and be based in Hyborea – like I am. Soon we’ll be working together and…
My mind fast-forwards and, within a heartbeat, it has already painted a picture of us kissing in the hazy sunset.
That old feeling of guilt hits me again and I hit it right back. I interlock my fingers to keep that thumb under control.
‘Svet,’ as soon as I’m able to read her name badge, I sense something familiar about those four letters. What a sexy short name.
Her pace down the aisle quickens as sales dwindle towards the back of the plane. The cheaper seats are occupied by people with high levels of debt; we will be sticking to the free water in a plastic cup from the tap right next to the plane’s lavatory.
She approaches row by unending row and I become immersed in her face’s lioness-like symmetry.
Nearer and nearer… What will I say to her? Come on, come on… I used to be good at this – I think.
She bends down to pick up something from the floor; I can see her legs pouring with athletic flow out of that impractically short uniform skirt, I catch myself imagining the rest of her body as she finally arrives at my row.
‘Drinks or snacks?’ she nonchalantly asks in an accent that I can’t really place. Her head is turned as she looks toward the other side of the aisle. Her jawline and neck are exposed.
I can feel my pulse in my throat; I can hear my own heartbeat. Suddenly, the adrenaline does the talking:
‘I don’t think that’s how you spell “sweet.”’
Silence gets louder than the propeller noise.
God, how very stupid I feel.
She frowns slightly as she turns towards me trying to see where that comment came from; I notice the tiny scar next to her left eye – like a teardrop, frozen in place.
I also freeze and become a mute, unable to breathe as she looks me in the eye.
Her eyes are almond-shaped, and such a deep blue that I’m almost drowning in them.
Eventually, like a storm at sea, she drifts away and a swishing thin logo’d curtain is drawn on our first encounter.
The rest of the flight I wait for a chance to say something else to her, but I’m just unable to muster the courage as she walks past me time and time again; always looking away.
I make sure not to put my opties over my eyes, lest she think that I could be recording her.
I sit there, my confidence dwarfed by this gorgeous girl with a strange short name. Throughout the flight, I gnaw through the embarrassment when – just before landing, during her final cabin checks – I actually get a flash of her smile.
Fast-forward a few weeks.
Needless to say, she gets the job. She also gets based in ‘Hybee.’ We met again and the next time she sees me, I’m wearing my pilot’s uniform.
‘You’re the guy from my supervised flight,’ she says to me in the crew room as we prepare to go out to the plane.
‘Oannes Jones, people call me “O”.’
Our hands touch for the first time, she has a crushing grip. I smile, she doesn’t.
She doesn’t really make any effort the first part of the day but on the third flight, she briefly mirrors my smile over the galley intercom monitor.
I’m not expecting much more, but at the end of our duty, she takes me by surprise.
‘That was good, what you said to me.’
‘What I said?’
‘The time you were my pax? The spelling for “sweet?” Clumsy, but sweet in itself.’
‘I can’t believe you remember my silly line!’
‘Believe me, it’s a welcome break from: “Looking to make some extra Debtred with that thing?” Or: “Do you do lap-dances”?’
She tells me how she was worried about her supervisor watching her interaction with the pax; and that she never gets into small talk with pax anyway.
We end up walking out of the crew room and all the way out to the airport terminal’s exit together, it may be small talk but my thumb’s working overtime on that ring finger groove.
It turns out ‘Svet’ is short for ‘Svetlana,’ which means ‘light;’ not ‘sweet,’ but ‘light.’
She’s come to Hyborea for the same reason everybody else does: to work.
Ever since the off-shore fracking boom began, this forgotten island at the north-western edge of Europa has become a bit of an aircraft carrier full of the foreign fracking workers.
As the only air-bridge with Britain and mainland Europa; we are a busy little airline.
She tells me she doesn’t mind the wet, wild and windy climate; after all she’s just come back from deployment in Niyaat where it’s “hotter than the inside of the devil’s ass at a barbeque on the surface of the sun” – in her own words.
I stop myself from asking too much; I’ve learned the hard way that veterans don’t really want to talk about deployment.
I’m just delighted that she’s even being friendly to me in the first place; I guess wearing the captain’s four stripes on my shoulders has something to do with it, but I wouldn’t judge her for that.
Unfortunately, when we reach the terminal exit, there’s a rich guy waiting for her inside a private vehicle.
Who gets to own a private vehicle? And, who has the time to pick up their girlfriend at the airport in the middle of the day?
Still, she doesn’t end our conversation abruptly. I can see the guy inside the sporty German vehicle making faces, but she stands there for a couple more minutes with me, just chatting and not once looking over at him.
I tell her the condensed version of my story leaving out anything that might potentially turn her off dating me someday.
‘I’m from Valterra – that’s right, near Mexico; but I grew up here in Hyborea – long story; I’ve been a captain well over a whole year now and so I’ve got lots of well-paying, glamorous, supersonic… eh, intercontinental job interview… opportunities coming up.’
Only the ‘job interviews’ part is a lie.
‘Oh,’ she says.
Following an impulse, I ask her if I can contact her sometime. I point to the opties over my eyes. They’re already displaying her profile which is set to ‘public’ – as required by Stretch Air.
‘Yes,’ she says, perhaps impressed that I bother to ask rather than just try to contact her at a later time anyway – the way most people do once they have your public profile.
Svet and I eventually say goodbye. I feel her body making shockwaves through the air the way she walks away. The rich guy makes more faces at me from inside the vehicle as they screech and drive away.
As luck would have it, we didn’t work together again until about two months later.
In the meantime, we frequently crossed paths in the crew room and at aircraft hand-overs.
I always made it a point to say a few words to her; it may have been all in my head but I was getting the impression that she enjoyed my attention; eyes dwelled, smiles lingered, and hands waved and reached out towards each other. My friends began to notice, but it wasn’t to be; not immediately anyway.
We began to frequently exchange messages, vids, pics, jokes, and just ‘everyday’ things. I began to form a picture of her in my mind; then, one night after drinking too many glasses of wine, feeling all lonely and slipping back into my guilt-ridden secret persona; I allowed Svet access to my full profile.
Over those couple of months of getting to know her through the opties, I had so many developments in my personal life that by the time I heard Svet was single, I was kind of seeing someone else.
The next time Svet and I worked together, something happened which was to change us both forever.
Where can I buy this wonderful book?
About the author
Francisco Rebollo is a writer and airline pilot. His poetry has been included in international newsletters and on-line publications; his work made the 'Word on the Waves' 2015 long list. His articles have been featured in the local press. Originally from Mexico, he lives in County Cork, Ireland.
Facebook: Francisco Rebollo Author
Facebook: Francisco Rebollo Author