Professor Douglas Keller meets extraterrestrial Aldrea, a beautiful Quenterian scientist stranded on Earth, while hiking in the Adirondack Mountains. Hunted by the FBI and a warring faction of Aldrea’s people called the Radicals, she turns to Doug for help. Doug is no hero, but after Aldrea used her telepathic abilities to heal him from a lethal wound, a psychic bond formed between them that opened their minds to each other in ways Doug cannot understand and Aldrea cannot explain.
In a nightmarish turn for the worst, Doug, Aldrea, and the FBI agents find themselves very far from Earth in the middle of a violent galactic coup engineered by the ruthless Radical leader, Veera, who aspires to dominate the galaxy. They must defeat Veera before Earth is enslaved—or destroyed. Out of their league and out of time, only the bond between Doug and Aldrea might prevent disaster, if they can figure out how to use it to defeat Veera before it’s too late.
Targeted Age Group:: 18+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
VISITOR began as a dream I had in my teens. Over the years, the dream always stayed with me until I wrote the story, which of course built into a full novel with multiple characters that were not in the dream. Without the dream, though, it is unlikely VISITOR ever would have been written.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The characters came from my imagination, one way or the other. Aldrea was the Visitor in my dream, and the rest of the characters I made up to construct the story.
Adirondack Mountains, New York
Douglas Keller plodded along the rock-strewn trail, enjoying flashes of warmth from the sun poking through gaps in the swaying leaves. He considered how people took the brilliant orb’s light and heat for granted, then laughed at his whimsy. If nothing else, this little vacation had freed his mind from the mundanity of his day job, but once back home, it wouldn’t take long before his hectic life consumed him again. That was okay, though. Doug enjoyed keeping busy, and had plenty of tasks to occupy his mind besides what might happen if the sun went away.
He whistled as he walked, cheerfully swatting away clouds of gnats and the occasional mosquito. Other than a dull ache in the back of his head, he felt awesome. He rubbed the sore spot, expecting it to hurt from his touch, but it didn’t. He must have slept on a rock or something last night.
Doug paused, sensing something wrong, as though an important event on the edge of his mind was struggling to emerge. All he’d done in the last week was hike trails in the Adirondack Mountains. What could possibly have happened, except maybe a mosquito bite or poison ivy rash?
Well, there had been that encounter with a black bear he’d surprised in a clearing, but Doug wasn’t sure which one of them took off faster. Forgetting everything the ranger drilled into him before starting his hike a week ago, Doug had run as fast as he could in the opposite direction from the bear, only realizing the bear did the same when he looked back over his shoulder to see how close he was to being eaten.
Doug indulged in a chuckle as he imagined relaying this story to the physics students once he was back in the classroom. For the past four years of graduate school, working towards a doctorate in Material Sciences, he’d subsidized his tuition by taking a post as an assistant professor. It was enjoyable work but he longed to teach his own class. Starting September, he would be. Now if he could only come up with some catchy connection between a fleeing bear and the composite materials on NASA’s latest space shuttle, he’d have the perfect lead into the syllabus.
But what happened after I turned to look at the bear?
Doug tilted his head as he paused in mid-stride, the wind-rustled leaves and symphony of bird vocalizations fading into the background. His hand rubbed the back of his head again, and he was still surprised it didn’t hurt. Then, a falling sensation made him dizzy, forcing him to bend over with his hands on his knees until the vertigo passed. He breathed slowly while his vision cleared and waited, listening for…something. More birds singing, more creatures rustling through the woods around him. Nothing different from what he’d already heard throughout the past week, repeated over and over again, until it faded from conscious thought.
Doug straightened, shrugged, and resumed hiking. Probably an allergy attack, and he was out of medicine. He expected to arrive back at the campground he’d started from before nightfall, and return home in the morning. One more day without popping an antihistamine wouldn’t kill him.
He couldn’t wait for this hike to end. Doug was so looking forward to settling down in front of his TV with a cold soda. Now that whatever compulsion to leave the comforts of his Long Island home had been appeased, Doug swore he’d never take another vacation again. He wouldn’t even be here in the first place if not for the constant nagging by his best friend Ken to “get out of his lab and breathe some fresh air for a change.” Doug should have known better than to take recreational advice from an avid outdoorsman, but Ken made it sound too awesome to resist. In hindsight, the fact that Ken made tons of money selling Jaguars should have given Doug pause, but by the time his friend’s pitch was over, Doug couldn’t wait to sample fresh air by the bucket.
Well, Doug was so done with fresh air at this point he looked forward to sucking in Manhattan’s polluted smog and even unwashed taxi drivers. All fresh air did was make him sneeze—hard. He sighed, wiping his nose with a tattered handkerchief his mother had shoved in his shirt pocket before he drove off. The surrounding chirps and scuttles continued despite the loud noise he’d made. Even out here in the middle of nowhere he was barely noticed. Story of his life.
Pulling off the Yankees baseball cap plastered to his head, Doug knelt beside a small creek to splash some cold mountain water over his face. Closing his eyes to avoid the bright sunlight reflecting from the water’s surface, he imagined he heard steam hiss as the water struck his skin. His eyes opened, revealing his rippling reflection, then widened further when he noticed his shirt was spattered with dried blood.
What happened after I turned to look at the bear?
Doug blinked several times while rubbing the back of his head, unable to recall where the blood came from. Had he scratched himself on a thorn bush? He pulled the shirt over his head and felt his torso for a wound, then sat back on the grassy bank perplexed. He couldn’t find a single scratch, although more blood clung to his chest. He splashed water and rubbed the dried blood from his skin. Turning his body sideways, he noticed even more clung to his back, and scrubbed that away too using a small branch on the areas his hands couldn’t reach.
As the sluggish current carried away red swirls of dried blood, something caught his attention. It took him a moment to realize it was an unfamiliar smell. He sniffed the air, inhaling an intoxicating, exotic fragrance, which prompted him to search for its source. Seeing no flowers in the immediate area, Doug lifted the balled up shirt to his face, breathing in a scent unlike any other he’d ever known. It reminded him of lavender and jasmine with a hint of licorice, yet smelling it felt like seeing a fourth primary color. It was just so…alien to his nose.
Had he slept on a flowerbed? How had this scent infiltrated the fibers of his shirt? Doug strained to remember, but all he could recall was turning to look at the bear.
What happened after?
A surge of pain shot through his head as though a molten spike was pounding through its core, until he turned his thoughts elsewhere. With a grunt, Doug gave up remembering and after stuffing the bloody shirt in a side pocket, pulled on a semi-clean shirt from his pack. Sweat and grass stains abounded, but at least it wasn’t covered in blood. What strange things being in the wilderness did to a person’s sense of cleanliness.
Doug glanced at his watch. By this time tomorrow, he’d be in the lab at Columbia. He’d be able to analyze the blood to determine its origin, and hopefully find an answer. If not, he’d schedule a CT scan to make sure his brain wasn’t harboring a tumor.
But first he needed to return to the campground. He looked for the blue markers on the trees along the trail to confirm his position, then resumed hiking, a growing excitement adding a spring to each step. He attributed this positive feeling to being psyched about retrieving his cell phone from his car, which Ken had forced him to promise to leave behind, just to make sure he actually relaxed instead of working. If he was honest with himself, after withdrawal anxiety faded by the second night while he sat by his campfire, Doug felt relieved the phone wasn’t in his pocket. He knew he’d check emails and make phone calls to his colleagues at the lab, and his mother would check in on him every hour to make sure he was still alive, while his father yelled at her to leave Doug alone in the background.
Doug smiled as he recalled her protestations when he explained this vacation to her in detail. No phones, out in the middle of the wilderness by himself communing with nature, and possibly deciding to remain there to become a hermit and live in a cave. Off the grid. Of course he was joking. Like anything could possibly stand in the way of his career as professor and scientist now that his doctorate was finally completed. But he loved to tease her.
It would be ironic if something happened to him after he promised his parents he’d be fine.
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