by Suzanne van Rooyen
Publication Date: February 8, 2016
Genres: New Adult, Gay, LGBT, Science Fiction, Romance
SYNOPSIS: Dead Rock, Texas, 2037
Raleigh Williams made a promise to his brother before he died, that he’d scatter his ashes on Mars. Desperate to leave a life of bad memories behind and start over in the Martian colony, Raleigh fully intends to keep that promise. But his plans are thwarted when a meteor near-misses him in the desert, and Raleigh finds in its crater not debris or even a spacecraft, but a man covered in swirling scars and with no memory of who he is. At least he looks like a man—a man Raleigh can’t seem to keep his eyes off of—but whenever they touch it ignites a memory swap between them.
Raleigh agrees to help Meteor Man piece together his life through their cosmic connection. But the memory share goes both ways, and Raleigh becomes inexplicably entangled with a guy who is everything he needs—everything good that Raleigh is not—but might not even be human. As their minds and worlds collide, reality unravels and Raleigh must face a painful truth, one that could shatter his dreams of finding love, reaching Mars, and fulfilling his brother’s last wish.
The Texas sky stretches an empty hand across the desert, reaching for the shimmer-slick horizon it won’t ever be able to hold. Bear and I hit the dirt road cutting between the fracking lands flanking old McCauley’s farm. It’s not even a farm any more, just a homestead crumbling down around a geriatric couple too stubborn to sell their land before they kick the bucket.
My feet lead me straight to the crater. Pain drills through the side of my skull, a screwdriver to the brain as a kaleidoscope of images form and fracture in my mind: Writing a final physics exam and not knowing all the answers, meeting my little sister’s first boyfriend, struggling against the effects of zero gravity.
The mental storm ends when I blink. What’s happening to me? Withdrawal from the meds shouldn’t be like this, not this intense or disorientating. This is more like a bad acid trip. How can I remember something I’ve never done? Please don’t let this be another episode.
Chilled despite the baking heat, I turn away from the crater and head back to the Interstate, the headache fading.
McCauley’s drought-slimmed cattle are ghost smudges in the dusk heat as Bear and I follow the trail of roadkill along the asphalt. The wind barrels across the land, dousing us in the stench of gasoline from the lonely pump-jacks studding the fields to the north. My scars burn as we approach the bone cross marking the spot where Weston met his maker.
First time I made the cuts right after West died, everyone thought I was trying to kill myself. I tried telling them it was Comanche tradition, a way of honoring the dead. All that got me was another prescription for meds I’m not sure I ever needed. They gave me the wrong cocktail too. Instead of the drugs making me happy, they made me crazy: make Daddy Sergeant Williams proud, throw sick bullets and score touchdowns, beat a kid’s head in and get sent to juvie kind of crazy.
I brush bird shit off the bleached leg-bones of a coyote with the hem of my shirt and splash bourbon into the dried out grass. My brother chose suicide over standing up to our father. Hope Dad enjoys hunting down insurgents in the Middle East while his eldest son sits in an urn on the mantelpiece.
“Hi, West,” I whisper. “Here’s to four years dead.”
ABOUT SUZANNE VAN ROOYEN
Suzanne is a tattooed storyteller from South Africa. She currently lives in Sweden and is busy making friends with the ghosts of her Viking ancestors. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. When she grows up, she wants to be an elf – until then, she spends her time (when not writing) wall climbing, buying far too many books, and entertaining her shiba inu, Lego.