AUTHOR: Stephen Pearl
The Earth is struggling to rebuild itself from the excesses of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Brad, a Doctor of General Applied Technologies colloquially known as a Tinker, travels the Dark Lands- areas without electricity- helping the people bootstrap themselves back from the edge of civilization.
All until he finds the plague in the town of Guelph.
Now Brad and his assistant Carla struggle to save the lives of the rapidly succumbing townspeople, while a cold war battle between Novo Gaia and the United Grid regions plays out over the quarantine and the lives of the people in the Dark Lands. The political theater is leaving Brad with a mounting toll of dead victims.
Will Brad and Carla be able to stop the plague, or will the contagion escape, infecting a world that is in no condition to survive another catastrophe?
CHAPTER 1 KNIFE HEALING
The boy sprinted along the crumbling, asphalt road his twisted, left arm flailing in his haste. He scrambled over a wooden gate and ran to an ancient van sitting in a field. A tower of interlocking pipes topped with a windmill rose from the van's back corner. Thin-film solar panels covered its roof and sides. Gasping, the boy wailed, "TINKER!"
The van's backdoor opened to reveal a man dressed in light, hemp clothing. His blond hair peeked out from under a wide-brimmed hat.
"What is it?" he asked, donning a pair of mirrored sunglasses.
The boy tried to explain, but all that came past his cleft palate was a babble.
"Slow down. I can't understand you," said the tinker. Stepping from the van, he touched the boy's shoulder. "Take some deep breaths and try again."
Trembling, the boy obeyed.
"It's me maw, she's a dyin'. Meb says she needs a doctor, like in Gridtown, but we ain't got none. Youse a tinker, Meb says maybe youse can 'elp. Da says 'e'll pay. Please, tinker, save me maw."
"Meb, the midwife from the village sent you?"
"You're Greg Thomson's boy. I remember you from last year."
"Yeah. Please, tinker, youse gotta 'elps me maw."
"Is your mother having a baby?"
"Yeah. Meb ses it's what's killin' 'er."
"Damn it, I told Thomson to stop having kids. All right, run to the James' place. Have one of them hitch my team and bring my wagon to your house. I'll grab my med kit and go straight there."
"Thank youse, tinker, thank youse." The child sprinted toward the main road.
"Damn Thomson! How many monsters will it take for him to accept the obvious?" The tinker entered the van emerging seconds later with a pack on his back and a laptop computer in his hand.
Could be a malpresentation, or an umbilical tangle. Probably a foetal malformation knowing Thomson's seed, he thought as he started down the road.
Five minutes later he approached the farmhouse of the Thomson clan. Its worn, vinyl siding had torn from the walls in many places, exposing the styrofoam beneath. Boarded-over windows made its two stories seem taller. The outbuildings looked ready to collapse. Despite the warm, spring day, smoke flowed from the chimney.
"Tinker," called a well-shaped girl with delicate features standing on the porch. She wore a homespun shirt, leggings and leather sandals.
"Where's Mrs. Thomson?" asked the tinker.
"I'll take you." The girl led the way into the house. Dim light entered around the boards covering the smashed windows, highlighting years of filth and neglect. Deformed children stared at the tinker as he passed them.
"I'm Meb’s granddaughter, Carla. Thanks for coming. Grandma said Mrs. Thomson's in a bad way. She said it's a malpresentation, but she can't find an arm or leg to turn the baby." The girl pulled a strand of her long, ebony hair away from her dark-blue eyes.
So who am I. I am a lifeguard, husband, mystic, science enthusiast, home handyman, backyard mechanic, and writer. Like most of us, the face I wear changes with the company and the season. My three cats know me as pride alpha, I like to think so, though servant is probably more accurate. Who am I kidding, my wife runs the pride, I just try and stay out of her way.
At any rate, I am a man of middle years who lives in a house in Ontario, Canada with three cats, a wife and a sincere hope that you will buy and enjoy my books.