A Look Back: The Forgotten Part 4

With the coming publication of the final volume of the Sojourners Cycle, The Sojourner, on September 30, we’re revisiting how it all began with an excerpt from the first book in the series, The Forgotten:

Meredith drags me along as she runs, pulling my arm so violently I fear my shoulder might fly from its socket. Behind us I hear a cry in a strange accent, a word I think I know, though I cannot place it. I whisper it to myself as I try to keep up to Meredith and she glares at me furiously, yanking even harder on my arm. The sounds of pursuit grow nearer as we duck around a corner and into a broad alley, weaving around trash dumpsters. One of the pursuers—the man with the goggles, I am certain—utters a command that I cannot make out, and somehow I know they are splitting up to cut off our avenues of escape.

I begin to say something, but Meredith silences me with a glance. Directly in our path are two cooks in stained white jackets outside taking a smoke break, and Meredith heads for them with me in tow. They glance up in surprise at our rapid approach, their astonishment soon replaced by fear as they see the man behind us in pursuit. Their conversation silenced, they watch us, open-mouthed and frozen in place, as Meredith blows past them, carrying me with her. She throws open the door leading into the kitchen, with such violence it almost rebounds off the wall to hit us, and we plunge within before either cook has time to recover and do anything.

Inside we are met by a shout of anger from another cook and a stunned shriek from the waitress we bowl over as we dodge through the galleys. By the time I notice the scalding heat from the ovens hitting my face, we are already out of kitchen, emerging to find ourselves near a bar. A couple, with their arms slung over each other as they lean against the counter, glances up at our sudden entrance. Again I note the long delay before the surprise registers on their faces. Is time moving slower for me, each instant fuller than the last? Continue reading

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A Look Back: The Forgotten Part 3

With the coming publication of the final volume of the Sojourners Cycle, The Sojourner, on September 30, we’re revisiting how it all began with an excerpt from the first book in the series, The Forgotten:

The Cafe Beano is a coffee shop on the corner of a busy avenue not far from the apartment building, a place I am convinced I have been before, though no memory comes to me. Yet I know where it is and can picture its cluttered interior, with tables and chairs strewn about seemingly at random, can smell the bitter coffee and hear the chatter of the menagerie of people gathered within its walls.

It is the specificity of these memories that seems the strangest of all to me. Why can I recall with exacting detail everything about the Beano, but not remember having been there or anywhere else in this city, wherever it is? It’s as if someone planted the memory whole within me, but left aside all the context, all the things that make a memory personal. This recollection could be anyone’s, just as I could be anyone, and that is what bothers me most of all.

Meredith might be able to help there, I reason, as I walk back through the park to the coffee shop. All those things that seemed so significant earlier—the couple talking, the movement of the light through the tree branches, the damp smell of the earth—I note now in a glancing way, giving them no real thought, my mind on how to proceed with Meredith. Did I reveal to her that I have no memory of who I am? Can I trust her with this information? Best to wait until I better understand what she wants and go from there, I decide. Continue reading

A Look Back: The Forgotten Part 2

With the coming publication of the final volume of the Sojourners Cycle, The Sojourner, on September 30, we’re revisiting how it all began with an excerpt from the first book in the series, The Forgotten:

I crawl from the bathroom, choking back sobs, my whole body shaking with fear and revulsion. I want to peel off this skin, cut off my nose and lips, all of my face. Perhaps beneath it all is the person I am, not this simulacrum. But who is that exactly? I have no sense, no idea of where to even begin. My mind is blank, my thoughts as unfamiliar as the face that stares back at me, though they tantalize at moments, almost seeming to be my own. My instincts have returned me to this place, it is all here somewhere within me. But for now I remain a foreign country to myself.

When I have recovered from my shock enough to get to my feet, I go to the kitchen to see if there is anything to drink. I fumble through the cupboards haphazardly, my search of the apartment only moments before already forgotten, and come across a bottle of rye and some packets of chai tea. I opt for the tea, not trusting my stomach with the alcohol, though the thought of oblivion is tempting. I find the kettle and fill it with water and plug it in, spending a few anxious moments waiting for it to come to a boil.

A phone begins to ring as I wait for the tea to finish steeping. I locate it in the bedroom atop a dresser amidst a scattering of detritus: loose change, receipts, and sunglasses, all stray pieces of a lost life. Looking at the display I see a name and a number and, while I try to call forth from my memory any details about the Meredith whose name appears there, the call goes to voicemail. The name does not seem familiar to me, but the number is a local one. How I know that I cannot say, but a quick search of the cell for its number shows the same area code. It seems likely that my instincts are correct again. Continue reading

A Look Back: The Forgotten

With the coming publication of the final volume of the Sojourners Cycle, The Sojourner, on September 30, we’re revisiting how it all began with an excerpt from the first book in the series, The Forgotten:

I remember nothing but this moment right now, as I walk through this park alone. Before, there was only darkness—not even darkness, something without substance at all. I emerged, whole but flailing, my feet carrying me forward before any thought or awareness had taken form. It is as though all that had been left behind, scraped away, in my journey from the void to this place.

The park is the sort one can find in any city, with grass and trees, footpaths winding their way through the greenery, and benches set at intervals upon which people sit. The surrounding neighborhood is equally unremarkable, a mixture of houses and apartment buildings with not a landmark among them. There is what looks like a school at the park’s far end, with a yard fenced off from the rest of the park and turned into soccer and baseball fields.

I have no memories. How did I come to be here? Clearly I was walking from somewhere, with some destination in mind. These facts elude me. Continue reading

Now Available For Pre-Order: The Sojourner

The stunning conclusion to the Sojourners Cycle is here:

THE SOJOURNER

SCIENCE FICTION

CLINT WESTGARD

The Church of the Regents is dead, its followers arrested by the Society of Travelers or gone to the winds. Laila Johar flees the wreckage left behind, accompanied by the body that was once hers, the half-thing Ana Arajuano who she failed to protect, and a woman, Suon, whose love she cannot return. David Aeida is gone, held at bay by Acolyte drugs, but in his place are dreams that are far too real, of people in other universes, the meaning of which Laila cannot begin to understand.

There is no escaping the Church or her own past though. The Seeker returns, demanding she make good on their agreement, and discover, once and for all, the mole the Society of Travelers placed at the heart of the Church. But that discovery pales in comparison to what she soon learns. For Laila has an unwanted part to play in an ancient struggle over who will rule the crossings between the universes and all that lie between them.

In the stunning conclusion to the Sojourners Cycle Laila will be faced with a terrible choice, one that will decide her fate and humanity’s.

Pre-Order Now

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Available September 30

Now Available: The Double

THE DOUBLE

SCIENCE FICTION

CLINT WESTGARD

David Aeida now commands his body, having cast Laila aside. He has sworn fealty to the Grand Regent, who wants him by his side and sees that his loyalty is rewarded.

But the Grand Regent is not the man he was. He is paranoid and suspicious of everyone, isolated in his tower, and thirsting for vengeance against those he feels have wronged him. How long until he turns on Aeida as well?

That is only the beginning of Aeida’s problems. For he knows the Seeker and the Society of Travelers remain to play their parts. Both desire nothing more than the utter destruction of the Church of Regents and all its works. And though Laila has been defeated, he knows better than anyone not to assume she has been vanquished.

The epic fourth volume of the Sojourners Cycle centers upon the many betrayals and lies at the heart of the faith of the Church of Regents and the devastation upon the lives of the faithful they have wrought. Desire and guilt, love and revenge, rage and despair will drive them all, with consequences for all the universes.

Buy the ebook

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Excerpt: The Double

In advance of the publication of The Double on May 3, here is a short excerpt:

The Grand Regent sits upon his throne, surveying the audience room atop De Gofroy’s tower. I stand at his side, as expressionless as I can manage, though I am suppressing a grin of delight. At long last, I have returned to my rightful place. A sub-Regent of the Watchers’ Order. A servant to the Grand Regent. A shield against all those who would stand against the faith.

The Grand Regent studies those gathered before him, casting his eyes from one face to the next, as though seeking to penetrate whatever walls they have built up to keep their secrets from the faith. That is against the Protocols, as we all know. What his gaze tells them is that he will see them revealed. And my presence says that, if he is unable to, the Order shall do the work for him.

Everyone here knows what that means, some of us only too well. I see Morris Loverne, that traitor, now rendered compliant, standing alert and stiff at the back of the audience chamber, ready to act should the need arise. It will not. His remaining loyalists within the Church have been arrested and subjected to the Acolyte’s ministrations. The rest are scattered to the winds. But with what he has already revealed and what I know, we shall find the rest soon enough. Laila Johar, the companion of my mind and enemy of the faith, has been overthrown and banished. I rule this flesh now. She is but a distant voice I barely hear. I have choked the life from her. Continue reading

Now Available: The Apostate

THE APOSTATE

SCIENCE FICTION

CLINT WESTGARD

With her self restored but not her body, Laila has only one goal in mind. To have her revenge upon the Grand Regent for all he has done to her. First, though, she needs to find her way home across the universes.

That is easier said than done. The Grand Regent’s agents in the Watchers’ Order are still pursuing her. As is the Society of Travelers. And the Seeker lurks somewhere, waiting for his moment to strike.

Laila has a plan, though, and a few tricks of her own. But she will soon discover that not everything is at seems and there is no one she can trust.

Spanning multiple universes and the complexities of the human mind, The Apostate, continues the incredible journey begun in The Forgotten. The second volume of The Sojourners Cycle is an unforgettable science fiction epic that encompasses the fates of universes and humanity itself.

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Excerpt: The Apostate

In advance of the publication of The Apostate on April 27, here is a short excerpt:

The address, I saw when I arrived, was for a strip mall set off a busy street. There was laundromat, a barbershop, a pizza place, and a Chinese food place advertising its homemade jerky. There was another shop on the far corner with a faded sign and awning where it was not immediately obvious what was on offer within. A front of some sort, I thought. There was a payphone on the street corner—no phone box, just a pole bent at an odd angle with a phone attached—and a wide-eyed man was carrying on a loud and scattered conversation. “I just need twenty bucks man. That’s all,” I heard him say, and felt a familiar itch begin to work inside me.

I turned away, before it had a chance to grow more insistent, and went to find the entrance to the offices above the shops. It was around the side from the mystery store, and I went up the stairs, noting the well-worn carpet. At the top of the stairs there was a directory, which I scanned until I found what I was looking for: 214 Regency Services Limited. I followed the arrows down one of the hallways past closed doors to offices, disconcerted by the silence emanating from the hall. Was there anyone in any of these? I began to feel quite certain that this whole enterprise was a mistake, a waste of a precious free afternoon that I could have spent doing something else. I thought again of the man on the phone below and the itch returned. That was enough to push me on toward the office.

I knocked on the door and several painful seconds passed without any indication that there was someone within, during which I told myself again and again that I should turn and go. The door opened, revealing a young man about my age with a welcoming smile and shaggy mop of hair. “Welcome, Laila,” he said. “I’m so glad you decided to come.”

I could only muster a nervous smile in return as he ushered me inside. He continued to chatter away, trying to set me at ease, but I did not listen to what he was saying, my doubts about coming here returning sharply again. This was a mistake. My roommate had been correct. It was a cult and I was just one of the susceptible fools being drawn in. I was led into a large conference room overlooking the parking lot below, and the congenial Regent, as they referred to themselves, told me to make myself comfortable and that he would return in a moment.

There were three chairs in the room, looking oddly out of place in the rest of that empty space. I sat in the one facing the other two, understanding what was expected of me. A few minutes passed and I tried not to fidget or think about the man on the phone below or why I was here at all. Just as I was preparing to stand up and leave, the door opened and the man who had welcomed me entered, still smiling, followed by an equally gregarious woman. Both of them were dressed in bland white and black clothing, as though they were administrators in some office. I half expected them to launch into a discussion on supply chain or risk management.

The woman gave me a generous smile. She had long, tightly coiled hair that she had pulled back behind her head, and it danced behind her as she spoke. “My name is Opal, and this is Hector. Thank you so much for coming today. We have so much to tell you about our faith. But first, what brought you to us?”

I squirmed in discomfort under their gleaming eyes. “I read some of Mayan Codexes and The True Nature of the Multiverse.”

It is De Gofroy’s finest work, in my opinion,” Hector said with an encouraging nod.

It was interesting. I…I guess I wanted to find out more.” The room seemed uncomfortably warm, though the windows were tinted to stop too much light from coming in.

Of course,” Opal said. “We are happy to answer any questions you might have. First we’d like to find out a little more about you. You know how we do that?”

The Protocol, yes,” I said.

What we will do today is not the Protocols,” Opal said. “That only takes place at our Protocol Centers. For our initial meeting, we do what is called a pre-script.”

Oh,” I said, and cleared my throat.

It’s something De Gofroy developed,” Hector said. “The Protocols are too difficult for most new initiates to go through. It’s overwhelming. The pre-script helps to open your mind to the Protocols. Helps prepare for the changes you will undergo. I will not lie to you—the Protocols of the faith are difficult. Not everyone is able to endure them. The pre-script will tell you if you have what is required.”

I thought this was all supposed to help me,” I said. My throat felt dry, and I wanted to ask for a glass of water.

Oh, it does,” Opal said with the certainty of a true believer. “I cannot begin to tell you how. You’ll have to experience it yourself.”

Hector nodded firmly. “I was lost, completely adrift with my life. The understanding that I have gained from De Gofroy’s teachings and the Protocols has completely reshaped me. I understand my place in the universes now and I know what must be done and the part I will play. You will be a magnificent vessel.”

I looked from face to face, their eyes shining with belief, in a way that made me feel uncomfortable. I wanted that certainty. I wanted the vague sense of emptiness and unease that had haunted me for so long to dissipate. Yet everyone said the Regents were mad, a cult, with no greater understanding of the universe than any other religion. All of it lies. There was something about De Gofroy’s book that had struck a chord in me, though, about our infinite selves. I felt that, and I wanted to understand more.

Shall we begin?” Opal said.

I nodded.

The Apostate is now available for preorder:
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