Today is the official launch date of MARTIAN GOODS & OTHER STORIES by Noelle Campbell. MG is the debut full-length book release of my new publishing company, Skyrocket Press. So I am very, very excited!
Adult - Sci/Fi
On a barren world where air is priceless and women are bought and sold, one man longs for love, but is she worth the price?
In this collection of short stories by science fiction author Noelle Campbell, Mars is the new frontier where men stake their claims for a new life. But some commodities are harder to come by than others--including women, who are often willing to sacrifice everything to escape an Earth that is no longer free.
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VAN GOGH 2
he room was functionally square and sterile. The absence of smell made the whiteness of the walls, drawers, and tables bearable. The doctor sat alone on his elevated chair, his back turned toward the screen that flashed the results of the daily test.
“I told you not to do it,” his wife’s voice said. He could almost feel her warm breath on his ear as she spoke in hard, angry tones. His own breath was coming quicker. He could see his chest rise and fall as he looked down at his hands in his lap.
He thought he saw the dark, red fabric of her dress in the corner of his eye and turned slightly to avoid the sight of it. She had loved red. She always looked good in red, but it was so distracting, like her breath. “Are you listening to me?” she asked.
He shook his head in a tight, shivering motion, careful not to look away from his hands or shift his head to where he had seen the red of her dress.
“I told you I didn’t want to be here. You knew that Mars would never really be home to me. I told you before I got sick that I wanted to go home.”
His brow furrowed, and he covered his ears.
“That isn’t going to work.” Her voice pierced through his cupped hands without even a muffled echo. “You made me promise I would never leave you. So this is your fault.”
Removing his hands from his lap had left him nothing on which to focus. The dark shadow of red in the corner of his eye grew larger and more distracting. His breath came in gasps, the blood pounding in his ears behind his wife’s voice.
“Do you know what the worst part of this is,” she started again, “outside of the fact that you essentially killed your entire family and made yourself mentally ill?” Her voice bore into his brain. It was never shrill. Still the same alto-esque woman’s voice that carried emotion in careful, measured tones he wished weren’t quite so…convincing. “—is that you kept on resurrecting them only to kill them again. That was all you were doing with the clones: killing us over and over again.”
He squeezed his palms over his ears until his fingernails dug into the flesh behind them.
“What did you tell them when they asked you where your wife was?”
He stopped breathing for just a moment, and then renewed it in a gasp. “I said I killed you.” His voice echoed in his head, and the baritone rumbled through the room.
“Excuse me, Doctor?” a voice, not here, asked. It was muffled, but he swiveled toward it, his eyes falling on his android medical assistant. It had a face, even if it was generic. It had eyes, a nose, mouth, and ears. Its chin rounded the oval shape of its head. There was no hair, no further attempts to make it look more like a human. “I didn’t understand the direction.”
The doctor looked beyond the android to the table stocked with equipment: laser scalpel, forceps, tweezers, sample containers, clippers, blades, cloning kits. Everything he needed and more.
“Scalpel,” he said and the droid carefully handed it to him.
He turned it on, adjusting the length and width of the blade.
“Don’t you dare,” his wife’s voice said. “Thomas Aegis Miller, don’t you dare cut me again!”
The doctor swiveled in his chair, facing the corpse lying prone on the table. There was a deep red stain on the fabric beneath it that kept drawing his eyes to the spot. A thin red line circumscribed her forehead.
“I’m sorry, Jane,” he whispered, holding up the scalpel.
“No matter how many times you bring me back here and cut me open, it won’t change anything.”
He shook his head, the laser still hovering over her face.
“You can cut me a million times, but you will never stop my voice!”
He shook his head harder.
“Do you need assistance, Dr. Miller?” the android asked, coming closer to help.
Thomas Miller spun on his chair and struck out at it, letting the laser slice through its head. Circuits sputtered as part of it fell away. A moment later, the droid fell to the floor, non-functional.
“That didn’t solve anything,” his wife’s voice said.
Thomas shook his head again, sobbing.
“You make a mess of everything. Who is going to clean this up now? Hmm? I hope you don’t expect me to do it. This isn’t my home. I told you I want to go home.”
Thomas grabbed his left ear with one hand, bending it away from his head, and started to slice it free with the scalpel in his other hand. There was pain, but it was a relief, a reminder that he was alive, even if he was going insane with the voice of his dead wife constantly in his ears. Having no ears at all should solve that problem.
There was no blood left behind as the laser cauterized the wound.
“What do you think you are doing?”
He looked at the severed ear in his hand.
“Who do you think you are? Pablo Picasso?” his wife asked.
He let go of the ear, and it fell to the floor with a muffled thud beside the android. Disappointed he could still hear, but especially that he could still hear his wife’s voice, he grasped his other ear, ground his teeth, and steeled himself as he shouted, “It was Vincent Van Gogh!”