Author David Ellis Overttun’s Excerpt from Universe: Awakening (Chapter 1) and Exciting contest

Universe: Chapter 1 Background, Commentary and Excerpt and Contest!

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Space-time distorted

Distended to breaking point

Then tears asunder

* * * * *

There is a word embedded in Natasha’s artwork above. Can you decipher it? If you can, you have a chance to win an Kindle version of Universe: Awakening.

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Contest starts: Now.

Contest ends: September 30, 2019, 11:59 pm PST.

The winner will be announced October 1, 2019.

Universe:  Awakening

Chapter 1 – In the Darkness

Background, Commentary and Excerpt

Contest ends: September 30, 2019, 11:59 pm PST.

* * * * *

The likeness of a young woman lay on a divan in the darkness. She made no sound to indicate any pattern of breathing. The bone-chilling cold of the ambient temperature was the only indication of where she might be, outdoors perhaps. With the absence of any wind, it might be just a cold windowless enclosure. Her eyes were closed, devoid of any random movement that might indicate deep sleep. Could she be seen, her face would be as an expressionless mask, her body stiff as stone. With no pillow under her head or blankets covering her body, she could have easily been mistaken for a corpse.

The sounds of ticking and tapping a short distance away broke the silence. A series of extremely faint lights flashed yellow, red and green next to a computer console. The screen turned on and a command sequence in almost imperceptible white letters flashed across a dark-green background:

Diagnostic complete. Initiate G9 alarm program. Run reveille, Girl-Wind, Playlist 1.

Then came a click followed by another and another at regular intervals. They were soon joined by the beat of a drum followed shortly by a stringed bass instrument. The volume seemed to grow progressively louder as if approaching the woman then faded as if it were passing her. A whole host of other instruments were added at intervals contributing to an ensemble that grew into a lively uplifting melody. As the volume grew progressively louder again, it became clear its beat had been synchronized to the turning on of ceiling lights from an upper level of some structure. The music reached its crescendo as the illumination sequence moved past the woman and held at a decibel level just louder than normal conversation. The woman’s eyes snapped open and a smile grew on an almost human face. The illumination sequence continued proceeding down to lower levels.

“RISE AND SHINE GUARDIAN 9!” a ubiquitous female voice boomed. “TIME TO TAKE READINGS AND RECORD DATA!”

The instrumental reveille stopped and was replaced by the rhythm of a drum. It was an introduction to a song…

“Time to get up! Sleeping is done!

Life is too short! Gotta have some fun!

Got things to do! People to see!

I’m a whirlwind, girl-wind! Watch me and see!

Wake up! Get up sleepy head!

Open your eyes haul your ass out of bed!

Wake up! Get up sleepy head!

Open your eyes haul your ass out of bed!

You’re wasting the day! Time is too short!

Only losers stand still! Only losers abort!

Cup o’ arusha to go! It’s black and it’s hot!

Add fuel to my fire! Yeah it hits the spot!

Wake up! Get up sleepy head!

Open your eyes haul your ass out of bed!

Wake up! Get up sleepy head!

Open your eyes haul your ass out of bed!

Got to get to my job! So, I can get paid!

Money sweet as honey! Got it made in the shade!

I’m beautiful. I’m young. I’m divine!

Nothing’s gonna stop me! This world is mine!

Wake up! Get up sleepy head!

Open your eyes haul your ass out of bed!

Wake up! Get up sleepy head!

Open your eyes haul your ass out of bed!”

The woman sat up and swung her legs over the divan and placed her feet on the floor. They made a sound as if something were snapping in place. She was sitting in a cubicle that was recessed into a large curved wall separated by a corridor from a computer console and a work station.

She wore the familiar violet-colored uniform that would have indicated her affiliation with the Ministry of Education. However, unlike the sharply pressed fresh color of a newly laundered garment, its look was faded with occasional spots here and there, the cloth worn and threadbare.

“Decrease volume 50%. Good morning Sofia,” Guardian 9 said. “Did you sleep well?”

“Yes, I did G9. As did you, I trust.”

“Absolutely! Let’s do it!”

She rose very quickly and walked to the console moving to the rhythm of the music.

“Please display results of level 1 diagnostic and maintenance for today.”

“Level 1 diagnostic within tolerance. Exterior visual inspection.” appeared on the screen followed by a list of items and tasks required.

“Copy that,” she said as she blinked her eyes once. “What’s the weather like out there?”

“It is 2.480 degrees.”

“That’s colder than yesterday and the day before.”

“That is correct G9.”

“Remind me again. How long has it been?”

“It has been 32 days since I noticed a statistically significant change in the temperature and there has been a constant decrease of 0.001 degrees plus or minus 0.00004 degrees each day.”

“At that rate, we’ll be frozen stiff in…about 7 years.”

“6.7945 years to be precise, assuming a constant linear trend.”

“Yeah…still not good. Good thing it’s warm inside. Any spatial distortions?”

“Warm” was a relative term. It was only about 20 degrees higher than the external temperature.

While it was far too cold for known life-forms, it suited these two just fine.

“Spatial distortions have been increasing exponentially over the past day and are causing turbulence bordering on chaotic. I have been increasing my field strength to maintain structural integrity.”

“Are we talking everywhere or just toward the boundary?”

“Just toward the boundary.”

“Please link me in and give me a visual of the surrounding exterior, spherical view.”

G9 blinked her eyes and established a link with Sofia’s visual sensors. The view would have appeared to be black to the naked eye. However, like Sofia, G9 was able to process light throughout the total range of its spectrum. With this sensitivity, the light appeared to be slightly red.

“Adjusting to red spectrum. Whoa!”

Her 360-degree view had always appeared uniformly black with a red tinge. Now directly in front of her, that same color was patchy and uneven. It also appeared to be stretching and distending.

“Sofia, do I need to do a visual diagnostic or am I seeing a small blueshift?”

“Indeed, you are correct. There is a small but noticeable blueshift.”

“That’s crazy! So, the light is becoming less stretched?”

“Yes.”

“Cause?”

“Spatial distortions.”

“Could it affect our mission?”

“Yes, if the current rate of spatial distortion remains unchanged.”

“Do you think the current rate of spatial distortion will remain unchanged?” G9 asked sarcastically.

“No. I have calculated there is a high probability of it accelerating.”

“Can we move out of range?”

“Unfortunately, no. The spatial distortions have compromised this region of space to the extent that we will not be able to make the jump into subspace.”

“Great! And when did you notice this?”

“Yesterday.”

“And you didn’t think to mention it?!”

“No. It was not mission critical.”

“Not dying is not mission critical?!”

“This is not a possibility since we have never been alive.”

“Right. Ok then let me rephrase that. Not having our programs terminated is not mission critical?!”

“Mission objectives override all considerations. We are expendable.”

“You couldn’t have moved us a safe distance away and then continued to collect data?”

“Closer proximity produces better data.”

“I knew you were going to say that. What good is collecting data if there is no way to get it back to base?”

“The messenger drone will be projected toward stable space. By my calculations, it has a very high probability of being able to transmit provided we launch it just prior to…”

“Death?!”

“…mission termination.”

* * * * *

This chapter has the same title as Chapter 8, a reference to the many doublets that appear in the Bible. (However, unlike a doublet, these two chapters do not refer to the same event.) The opening paragraphs were inspired by Alien (1979). Remember the opening scene on the USCSS Nostromo?

In the movie, it never made sense to me (other than for artistic license) that there would be ambient light and (probably) heat when the crew was in stasis. I’ve adjusted for that. However, it creates an incongruity. “The likeness of a young woman lay on a divan in the [bonechilling] darkness.” She is not protected by a capsule. How can she survive?

The ticking and tapping that follows is very reminiscent of the Nostromo. However, the light that appears on the console is very dim. Why? We learn later that the “young woman” is, in fact, an android with full access to the EM spectrum. (That answers the survival question.) The dim lighting now makes sense since it minimizes anything that could generate heat in this frigid environ. Although not addressed in detail, I also envisioned quantum computers that would operate best at low temperatures.

The reveille was inspired by Alex Owens’ audition in Flash Dance.

And now for some more science…

The decreasing ambient exterior temperature is consistent with our current theory of an expanding universe. Although, it would appear that it is accelerating even faster. At the same time, there is a noticeable blueshift in the redshifted light. That would imply contraction and should decelerate the decline in temperature. That’s not happening. How is that possible? How can contraction and expansion coexist together? The answer to that question goes beyond the scope of this chapter.

Where to Find His Work

The cover ties in two of the science themes in the book. It is meant to give the reader a sense that awakening has something to do with genetics since the double helix is easily identifiable as DNA. The woman seeming to emerge from the strand in a burst of light is a visual rendering of awakening. The sphere in the background is not a planet. It is a universe surrounded by what the reader will discover is the volume. The green patches represent the encroachment of an alien energy known as the “ether” foretelling the end of existence

About the Author - D. Ellis Overttun

I grew up in a town in the Midwest. My mother was a bookkeeper for a small HVAC company and my father was a draftsman. At university, I studied chemistry. However, when I graduated, I did not (or could not) pursue that vocation because I was terrible in the lab.

I have been a storyteller ever since I can remember. It started as a way to get out of trouble and evolved as a way to entertain those around me. My first recollection of writing prose was in elementary school when I had to write a short essay about a picture from a magazine. (Mine was a freshly baked loaf of bread.) In grade 7, I penned two short stories for a school writing competition. One was entitled “My Funny Cousin”, a descriptive piece about a relative (a little older than me) who stayed with us one summer. My mother very quickly killed that story. At the time, it didn’t make sense to me because she told me she thought it was very funny. It was only later that I figured out that I could have replaced “Funny” with “Flamboyant” in the title. So, it was back to the drawing board. My second attempt was a collection of anecdotes about the life of my maternal grandfather titled “The Hilarious Things My Grandfather Did”. That one went on to win.

Apart from contests and making my way through school a little easier, I found that writing (especially creative writing) had other uses. In school, I was the proverbial class clown. One time a teacher told me, “One more pun out of you Overttun and you’re out the door!” To which I replied, “Opun the door!” That earned me a string of onehour detentions that would end on completion of a 1,500word essay on any topic of my choosing. So, I chose the great outdoors. It was a story about a lumberjack. It went sort of like this, “Jack the lumberjack was a lumberjack. Everyday, Jack the Lumberjack would go out into the woods to do what lumberjacks do best. They chop trees. When Jack the Lumberjack found one, Jack the Lumberjack took his ax and went chop, chop, chop, chop, chop…” Needless to say, while I met the strict requirements of the essay, it was disqualified. In its place, I penned something very wordy about getting up in the morning and going through a normal school day.

My first complete novel was a story about a soldier of fortune in the age of horse and bow. At the time, I had contact with people in the entertainment business in California. The feedback I got was that I should take one of the chapters and expand it into a novel. That made no sense to me. What the heck did that mean? How could you expand something so small into something big? So, I never pursued it. However, the comment stuck with me. It was only much later that I figured out that it meant that I should never rush the telling of a story.

This brings us to the present and the Terra Nova Series. (Book 2 has been published and Book 3 is in progress.) I write for an audience of one: my wife. She loves the stories.

Tell me what you think!

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