Today we have a sneak peek from the science fiction novel by author E. A. Fournier: Now & Again.
When a day begins with burying your wife, you’d think it can’t get much worse, but for Kendall McCaslin and his son, Josh, it can. On their way back from the cemetery, they’re caught in a chain-reaction freeway crash and both killed. Surprisingly, they don’t stay dead.
The fatal accident propels father and son into a series of equally lethal alternate crashes until they devise an escape route. Bruised but intact, they uncomfortably realize that they now carry compound memories. Racing home, Kendall finds his wife alive again; Josh discovers his longtime girlfriend is missing. Now what do they do?.
And now, an excerpt from Now & Again…
From Chapter 5
IN THE TREES OUTSIDE the brick-faced McCaslin home in suburban Cincinnati, it was after midnight. The fall air was cool and still, and the stars in the black sky were bright. An adult barred owl, with wide facial discs around dark eyes, sat her silent watch in an oak tree near the red Honda. Pale brown body with white mottling above and brown streaking below, the silent killer was nearly invisible on her perch. Her head rotated smoothly through half its impressive arc while her compact body remained motionless. Her large eyes settled on a repetitive movement below.
An anxious mouse was transporting seeds from summer storage to winter larder. His grey back hunched and stilled as he carefully crossed the grass to the rain gutter’s down spout next to the driveway.
Hidden under feathers on either side of the head, an owl has openings, called apertures, in place of ears. Typically, the holes are asymmetrical, which helps to triangulate on the location of very subtle but specific sounds – such as seeds scraping on dirt or fur rubbing against grass blades. Owls have four black talons on each feathered foot – three curve forward and one backwards, creating an exceptionally effective snare.
The barred owl released her talons’ mechanical hold on the branch and fell forward into a deadly silent descent. Her primary flight feathers had leading edges that were fimbriate; that is they had comb-like extensions to muffle the whisper of air passing over them.
The mouse moved unaware, other instinctual business cluttering his mind, until talons closed upon him like a multifaceted trap. A single swallowed “cheep” and the tinny tumblings of seeds upon the metal spout were all that escaped.
And multiple universes tumbled away undetected around the moment. In one, the owl missed. In another, the mouse fought back. In countless other variations, the mouse abandoned his seeds and made it to the gutter; the owl was distracted and looked the other way; the grass was not mowed and so the mouse passed unseen; the owl perched in the elm instead of the oak; the mouse waited for a better night to move his food; a car passed by and spoiled the hunt; and on and on in a myriad of possibilities, all realized and super positioned upon each other, without a whit of trouble or observation.
The owl flared her sound-dampened wings as she reclaimed her perch with the prize, oblivious to the universes that had spiraled off her every wing beat. Pleased with the fat, warm meal ahead, she considered the night with her merciless eyes before turning to her repast in earnest.