The Next Room

This book is now available here.

Things aren’t always as they seem. Neither was Andy Niksn.

Outwardly, Andy appeared to be the successful, respected, somewhat over-paid Captain of a commercial space liner. Andy loved his job, and not just because it paid well and the crisp white uniform gave him an opportunity to show off his assets – but also because it meant seeing his best friend Jim every day!

Trouble was, Andy felt trapped! He was in a relationship with Mandy Fringle – another colleague – a dead-end partnership that had no future and promised both even less happiness. Jim Sykes had never returned Andy’s affections – and on top of that, Jim had died recently, leaving Andy in the darkest place he’d ever been – and he didn’t mean space!

Andy, who felt that life had turned into a living, waking nightmare – wished he could just wake up to a different reality where everything could make sense again! It became something almost like a prayer!

As it turned out, someone heard him.

“The Next Room” (and “Duck Blind”, the companion-story to this novella) tells part of the same larger story of opposites from the perspective of a different set of characters in different dimensions and times!

“The Next Room” and it’s companion “Duck Blind” are now available together as “Mirror, Mirror“.

Details:

  • Published: February 01, 2020
  • Words: 23,661
  • Pages: 110 (6×9 Paperback)


Synopsis: [Spoiler Alert]

Andy Niksn is the Captain of a commercial space liner. It’s the 28th century, and the cruise liner Freedom carries well-to-do passengers across the galaxy in comfort and style. Andy loved his job, and not just because it paid well and the crisp white uniform gave him an opportunity to show off his assets – but also because it meant seeing his best friend Jim every day! Things have changed and Andy no longer feels that way. He feels trapped!

He’s been in an unhappy relationship with Mandy Fringle – another colleague – and it was a dead-end partnership that had no future and promised both even less happiness. Jim Sykes had never returned Andy’s affections – and on top of that, Jim had died recently, leaving the bereft Andy in the darkest place he’d ever been – and he didn’t mean space!

Andy, feels his life has turned into a living, waking nightmare, and wishes he could just wake up to a different reality where everything could just make sense again! That thought mulls around in his head, becoming something almost like a prayer!

As it turns out, someone hears him.

On the first night of a new voyage, dinner at the Captain’s table, Andy meets a man – of sorts – who claims to be a galactic traveler, for real – and at first, Andy fobs him off as a crazy person… but the very next morning, Andy finds himself decidedly out of his element.

After waking up, he begins to notice little things that are different – the news content on the TV in his cabin, the fact that his cabin door opens on quaint old fashioned hinges instead of sliding open in the usual way – and suddenly everyone’s calling him ‘Charlie’ and ‘Captain Branson’. The confusion continues on the bridge of the Freedom, where Andy notices new faces among the old – and some missing – and some he’d never expected to see again! His Exo, for one – is Jim Sykes – very much alive and kicking! Mandy strongly insists her name isn’t Mandy- it’s Francine… Francine McCain – and his name’s not Andy Niksn, it’s Charlie Branson… much to his surprise, it even says so on the nameplate on his uniform!

Jim escorts the confused Andy – who’s now on the verge of hysteria, to the ship’s sickbay – where a doctor he doesn’t know, rugs him – and then firmly places him on sick leave for a week to get his shit in order! Wherever this is meant to be, Mandy – er, Francine – insists they’re not in a relationship and never have been. With one problem seemingly solved, he focuses his attention on Jim… if this really is Jim.

Andy decides to play along until he figures out exactly what’s going on – and once Jim escorts him back to his cabin, he realizes that he’s in the 21st century! Or at least that’s what it looks like! The next morning – the first day of his enforced time off – Andy sets out to expose this whole affair as some kind of farce or prank – or a conspiracy to gas-light him into believing he’s crazy.

To his surprise, every little thing he examines closely proves to be fake or simulated… cheesy fake control panels with little blinky lights on that do nothing at all, and even the walls of the ship sound like hollow wood paneling! The shuttle – if that’s what it’s meant to be – runs on little guiderails in the deck of the shuttle bay – and the rails run from the pretend shuttle bay, under some kind of door – to what? Wherever – or whenever he is – it’s not on a space ship – or in 2773!

This simulator pretending to be a space cruise-ship calls in at a paradise planet, and on a whim, Andy boards the fake shuttle headed for the surface – or some sort of pretend set. The idea amuses him and he decides to check it out – after all, “you only live once, right?”

The History of “The Next Room”

“The Next Room” is a completely original work written through January 2020, and released in eBook form in February 2020, on the same day as “Duck Blind“, a companion title – in keeping with the synchronous theme of both stories.

Since I’d recently written “Duck Blind”, I pondered writing another story based on the second set of characters placed in the mirror-opposite set of circumstances to that book’s characters – the ones in 2025 as opposed to 2773!

Both these tales tells part of the same story from the perspective of a different set of the same group of characters in different dimensions and times! Together, or read in sequence, they’re pretty much a story of opposites – and it’s the first time Christina attempted this sort of project, and she’s truly excited about how it turned out!

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If you would like to know more about Christina Engela and her writing, please feel free to browse her website.

If you’d like to send Christina Engela a question about her life as a writer or transactivist, please send an email to christinaengela@gmail.com or use the Contact form.

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All material copyright © Christina Engela, 2020.

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