From Here to Eternity
Love never dies…but apparently Rachel has.
At least anyone who read her obituary in the morning paper would certainly believe it. But Rachel quickly realizes the premature announcement of her death is the least of her worries. She has no recollection of the past few weeks. She can’t even remember what her husband, Nate, looks like. Something’s wrong. Something’s very, very, wrong.
Dr. Nate Burns, renowned inventor of CYANAs, Cybernetic Anthropoid Automatons, vessels that look exactly like humans, loves his work and the possibility of one day successfully uploading a person’s memories, personality traits, everything that makes a person who they are, into the CYANAs. But Nate loves his wife more. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for her. Even if it’s the one thing she never wanted. But has he gone too far? How far would any man go for love??
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I am in cover HEAVEN!!! I have so much cover goodness coming my way I can hardly sit still. FOUR of my resent books are getting a makeover. From Here To Eternity is up first.
As awesome as the first cover was, there was something missing. From Here To Eternity is a Sci-Fi Romance about a woman who wakes up one day to realize, despite all outward evidence her life has utterly changed. Against her most deepest held beliefs she’s become the one thing she never wanted and there’s no going back
It’s about a man who, faced with his worst fear come true, was forced to make a choice between respecting his wife’s wishes or protecting a discovery that, in the wrong hands, could be the most devastating weapon ever made.
It’s about that kind of once in a life time love that transcends the limitations of human life and makes us redefine what makes us who we are.
I'm often asked, what was the inspiration for your book?
I’ve always been a big Isaac Asimov fan. I Robot is one of my favorite sci-fi movies and his robot series ROCK! I love how his robots always seem to strive to be more human and it got me thinking how the opposite is kind of true of humans. Not that we strive to be robots, but year by year, as medicine advances and prosthetics become more sophisticated, more robotic, I wonder where will it stop?
What parts of a human body wouldn’t we trade out for a longer lasting, stronger, robotic version? I wondered what it would be like if we got to the point where we could design a robotic replacement for an entire body, even down to transferring a person’s thoughts, memories—everything that shaped them into the person they are—into a robot’s brain. Would we still call them human? From Here to Eternity sort of took off from there.
Ready for a taste?
© 2013 Paige Cuccaro
“I’m dead,” I said to my husband’s voice mail. I knew he wouldn’t answer. He never picked up at the lab—too lost in his research. But this was too bizarre to wait until he came home.
“Funny. I expected Heaven to be whiter…and cleaner,” I said, scanning the mountain of dishes filling our kitchen sink. Gawd, Nate must’ve used every dish in the house. It took real skill to get the pile that high without any slipping off onto the floor. He hadn’t even bothered to scrape the leftover food off half of them. “Geez, Nate, you could wash a dish now and then.”
An uncomfortable twinge squirmed through my stomach, like a worm munching a rotted apple. There was something wrong with this picture. What is it?
“Anyway,” I said pointedly, shifting my thoughts away from the strange stirring of intuition and back to the reason I’d called. I refocused my gaze on the Global Web screen, reflected on the inside lens of my Connect Wear glasses. The multifunctional eyewear showed our local newspaper’s web-port. “My name’s in today’s obituary section. Right there after Scarlet Baker and before Frank Cockren.”
The port’s background music chimed through my head, the glasses transmitting notes directly to the electric synapses of my brain. A simple thought stopped the sound. I leaned my butt against the kitchen counter, folding my arms across my belly. “Probably someone with a similar name or something. They just got the info mixed with mine. It’s kind of creepy, though. And you know it’s going to screw with my credit—”
An incoming call vibrated my glasses, interrupting my message. The caller ID flashed the name,Lord of Geeks, over the top of the newspaper’s page on my right lens. “Oh. You’re calling me. End outgoing call,” I said to Nate’s voice mail. The words call ended flashed for a moment under the caller ID then vanished. My eyes focused on the ID of the incoming call.
“Answer, Lord of Geeks,” I said, and the ID changed to open call.
“Hey. I was just calling you.”
“Rach?” a man asked, his voice strained—worried.
“Who is this?” It wasn’t Nate. For security reasons they weren’t allowed to use the video option from the lab, so I couldn’t see who it was.
“It’s me, hon,” the man said. “It’s Nate. What happened? How did you— Never mind…are you okay?”
A sense of wrongness snaked through my veins like cold poison, freezing me to the bone. “I was calling my husband. Dr. Nathaniel Burns.”
“I know,” he said. “I couldn’t pick up before it went to voice mail. It’s me, Rachel.”
“No.” Nate and I had known each other since his family moved in next door to mine when we were kids. I had been in fourth grade; him in ninth. We’d gotten married when I was still in college, eight years ago now. I’d heard his voice almost every day for sixteen years, and yet I suddenly realized…I couldn’t remember what it sounded like. I couldn’t be sure it wasn’t him I was talking to.Why? A stab of panic lanced through me. “End call.”
Less than twenty seconds later the soft vibration of an incoming call shook my glasses and theLord of Geeks ID glowed in the upper right corner of my vision. “Answer Lord of Geeks. Hello?”
“Listen to me, Rachel. Please don’t end call.” I still didn’t recognize the voice but this time he kept his tone soft, like he knew exactly how to quiet the frantic pounding of my heart. “Something must’ve gone wrong. But I can fix it, I promise. You have to trust me. I’m on my way— I mean…Nate is on his way home. He wants you to stay in the house. Rest. Don’t call anyone and don’t answer the phone. And Rach…I love—”
“End call,” I said. That couldn’t have been my husband. I’d know his voice if I heard it, even if I couldn’t bring the sound of it to my mind at the moment. There was nothing familiar in the one I’d heard. Nothing.
What was going on? Why would someone pretend to be Nate? Instinct sank like lead in my stomach, making my skin clammy, telling me nothing was as it should be.
I stood there, concentrating on the in and out of my breaths, for so long that the lenses of my glasses had gone clear, my Global Web session timing out. I pulled the glasses off and set them on the counter. My gaze flicked to the sink.
Dishes piled nearly a foot high from the countertop, both stainless steel basins full. How had he used so many dishes in one morning? I stepped closer, picking through the pile. I wasn’t sure why, but there was something else bothering me about those dishes—I just couldn’t put my finger on it.
The stink of rotted food wafted up from the pile each time I moved a plate, digging my way to the bottom. Gnats buzzed off a mold-crusted mac and cheese plate, and a small puddle of curdled milk spilled from a used cereal bowl. I swallowed down a surge of bile at the back of my throat.
There were balled-up paper napkins and box ends from Hungry-Man dinners mixed in with the pile, plus at least six Chinese take-out containers tossed on the counter beside the sink.
This wasn’t one day’s worth of dishes.
The fact settled into my brain like a backward puzzle piece—right and wrong at the same time. But it wasn’t until I spotted Nate’s coffee mug that the true wrongness needling me from the inside out finally pierced the surface of my mind.
“Where’s my mug?” If this pile had been days in the making—setting aside the impossibility of that for the moment—where was my contribution? Coffee was my go-juice, like gas to a car. I drank enough of the stuff that my coffee mug was the first thing I picked up in the morning and the last thing I set in the sink at night. It was always there waiting for a quick rinse and reuse the next morning. So where was it?
The newspaper’s obituary page flashed through my mind again. Rachel Burns, age 28—deceased. I blinked away the fresh memory, ignoring whatever message my subconscious was trying to wave like a red flag in front of me, and reached to open the cabinet door next to the sink.
There were hardly any clean dishes left inside; a souvenir plate I’d made as a kid, my favorite cereal bowl—because it was deeper than the ones in the set we’d gotten for our wedding—and…my coffee mug. Like a shrine of some precious treasures, the dishes I used every day were the only ones not included in the pile.
What did that mean? The question twisted in my gut and I couldn’t focus. It wasn’t possible. This mess hadn’t been here yesterday. I remembered yesterday. Didn’t I?
I went back to the center island where I’d left my Connect Glasses. I put them on, signing on to the web again, searching for…something, anything that would explain what was happening. And then I saw the date—February 13, 2062. “No. It’s January.”
I spun around and checked the order screen on the fridge. It was wrong, too. It had to be. Why were all the calendars screwed up?
“The house system,” I said, the sound of my own voice the only real thing in a rising sea of uncertainty. I was drowning fast.
The house computer system had to have the right date or there’d be alarms going off and cops pounding at our door. I went into the foyer, past the long polished oak table where I always dropped my purse and car keys. In the back of my mind, like a passing cloud across the sun, I noticed my keys weren’t there and someone had moved my purse to the floor, under the table at the far end near the coat tree.
I ignored it and zeroed in on the panel next to the front door. The house system controlled everything: security, temperature, solar panels, the biomedical internal tech monitoring—everything. It even monitored the smaller systems like the coffee maker. It had to have the correct date and time or nothing would work right. I leaned close so my voice would be clear. “Proteus.”
“Proteus,” I said again, staring at the shiny black screen. The complicated system had a voice-recognition program and would only activate by command from registered users. It should’ve blinked to life at the sound of my voice. But it didn’t. Why wouldn’t it know me?
I couldn’t handle another mystery. Frustrated, I tapped the screen and finally the flat monitor flickered on. The date and time lit above the white box, cursor blinking, waiting for password input. I didn’t bother. I had my answer—February 13, 2062.
“Two weeks.” I was missing two weeks of memory. I looked down, saw my hands were shaking. I hardly noticed, my mind was reeling for explanations.
This was a joke. Had to be. Someone was going to a lot of trouble for a laugh, but who? Why? The crunch of car tires on our gravel drive stole my thoughts.
Nate was finally home. He would know what was happening. He’d explain everything, fix it. After eight years of marriage, our bond was stronger than anyone’s idea of a good joke. He’d understand how this was freaking me out, would put a stop to it. If I told him it wasn’t funny, he’d side with me no matter who was behind it.
I went to the door—reached for the knob. My hand stopped with my fingertips barely brushing the shiny brass handle. I couldn’t move closer. I couldn’t wrap my fingers around it. It wasn’t that I hesitated or was unsure what I wanted to do. No. I couldn’t physically make myself grab the doorknob.
“Take the damn handle,” I said, like hearing it aloud might make a difference. But my body wouldn’t move. My hand just hung there, like a hook on the end of a cane.
When I heard Nate shuffle up on the other side and saw the knob turn, I let the order to move slip from my mind. I stepped back until he’d swung the door open and—
The blood drained from my body. “Who are you?”
Tiny specks of snow melted on the shoulders of the man’s overcoat. His damp salt-and-pepper hair was neatly combed back from his forehead only to cluster in an odd snarl at the crown of his head. Behind the reddish-brass frame of his Connect Wear glasses I could see a scar across his right brow that disappeared in a worried crease above warm honey brown eyes as he gave me a quick once-over and stepped inside. “What do you mean—?”
I lunged for one of the long umbrellas in the metal stand under the house monitor and waved the silvery point in his direction. “Back off, buddy.”
A mix of emotions flickered across his face—surprise, understanding, placation. He held up his hands in surrender, but then took another careful step forward, his voice calm. “Rach, it’s me.”
I couldn’t remember having ever seen this man before. My voice trembled, fear tightening my throat. “I don’t know you.”
“No.” I brandished the umbrella, frustration, fear, and dread adding to a growing storm in my head. Where the hell was Nate? “Who…who are you? Just tell me.”
“It’s okay, honey,” he said in that same soothing, patient way, as though nothing were more important than easing my fear. “I’m Nate. Your husband.”
The statement plopped thick and heavy into a cold well of emptiness inside me. I didn’t know this man, but in that same instant, I realized I didn’t know Nate, either. I couldn’t remember what my husband—my best friend—looked like. I couldn’t remember anything beyond his name and what he meant to me.
The loss stabbed my heart and made it hard to breathe, the umbrella suddenly too heavy in my hands. The man reacted almost instantly, reading me as though he knew my thoughts—knew me.
“Something must’ve gone wrong,” he said, hands still up, edging closer. “It’s okay, Rach. I can figure it out. I can fix it.”
“Fix it?” Seriously? “What do you think I am? You can’t just fix me.” My arms shook, struggling to keep the umbrella raised between us.
“Okay. Okay,” he said as though rethinking his approach. “You’re right. But you have to be reasonable, honey. I need you to think. I can help you. You have to trust me.”
“Stop saying that. I don’t know you and you don’t know me,” I said, hating the squeak of panic in my voice.
“Of course I know you. And I can prove it.” He glanced away for a second, thinking, then back to me, brows high. “I know you’re allergic to peanuts and you hate pepperoni pizza.”
I shrugged, lowering the umbrella point a few inches. “Anyone who’s taken my order could know that.”
“Right.” His lips pressed into a flat line. I could see him thinking. Then his expression lifted, his brows going high, stretching the scar and making him kind of adorable, the way he was trying so hard. “Okay…I know you sleep on the right side of the bed. And you snore—even though you think you don’t. Sometimes you snore loud enough that you wake yourself up. And I know that ants freak you out more than spiders…but you don’t like them, either.”
I shrugged. “The bed thing was a fifty-fifty chance and if I don’t think I snore, you saying I do isn’t really proof of anything. And who doesn’t hate ants and spiders?”
He propped his hands on his hips and exhaled through his nose, mouth tight. There was something about his expression, about his frustration that seemed familiar…but like a tendril of smoke, I couldn’t grab hold of the memory. Still, it was sweet in a slightly weird way, how desperately he wanted to prove he knew me. Okay, if I was being honest, the man was stone cold sexy, the way his jaw tightened when he was deep in thought, pulling air through his nose, a day’s beard shadowing his chin. My stomach fluttered, and I looked away.
“Okay,” he said, twisting to finally close the front door. I flinched at the loud slam, but I didn’t protest. “How about this? You like for me to play with your hair when you can’t fall asleep—which I secretly love. But I keep that to myself otherwise I’d never get brownie points for doing it. Biting your neck is more of a turn-on for you than my nibbling your ear—although you like that, too. And you’re self-conscious about those three moles on your cheek, but like I’ve told you a million times, I think they’re sexy as hell.”
Things low inside me heated with the erotically intimate turn of his examples. My mind instantly picturing this hunky man, with those soft-looking lips and bedroom eyes, doing each of the things he described. I loved my husband, but this guy was hot. And God, I loved the way his voice got deeper with each example, like just saying it turned him on.
What if he was telling the truth? What if he wasn’t just reciting information but describing memories—memories of us, of me, his wife—that I didn’t have?
What Readers are saying...
5 Stars~ "Wow. This is an excellent sci-fi short. Even though it is a short story it feels a lot longer." By A Voracious Reader (Amazon Review)
5 Stars~ "Highly recommended for a quick reading" By Douglas C. Meeks "Book Reviews @ Large" (Amazon Review)
"For a short novella this packed quite a punch! Several surprises and some lovely romance is what you get when you read From Here to Eternity." By Ellepaul "Dani Chapman (Amazon Review)
If you love science-fiction, romance, or both-- you're going to love this story!
And now it's only $0.99!!