The following is an excerpt from the Prologue of Jordan's Deliverance, Book 3 in the Jordan of Algoran series.
FIFTEEN YEARS AGO ON EARTH
Kayla Lewis stood at the bottom of the stairs and looked up at her husband, Mark, with some concern. He was carrying two stacked and very full moving boxes in his arms as he carefully descended the stairs. And he was obviously straining.
“Mark, put one of those boxes down! You’ll throw your back out again,” Kayla warned.
“I’m using my legs. I’ll be fine,” he answered.
Neither impressed nor persuaded, she walked over and grabbed the top box. She angled her lips and blew a long strand of brown hair out of her face as she walked past him towards their minivan. The rest of her hair was pulled back into a long ponytail.
“You’re not twenty anymore, Mark, and you don’t have to impress me.”
“I wasn’t trying to impress you, honey. I just thought I could do it.”
“My point is you don’t have to. I’m right here. I can help.”
“Yes, ma’am,” he replied with a hint of sarcasm. They’d had this conversation more than once before.
Kayla Lewis was forty-eight years old and her husband was a year older than her. They had been married for twenty-eight years and owned a graphic design company called Markayla Designs. She was the artist while he managed the business. It had been profitable enough over the years, allowing them to buy a house, own two vehicles, pay the bills, and provide for three daughters.
But maintaining and growing the business had been very stressful. Kayla had barely kept it together when Mark suffered a mild heart attack at the age of thirty-nine. Her own vision had suffered from her habit of working late into the night with less than ideal lighting. She ate when she remembered to, though it was at irregular intervals. That had been fine when she was a teenager. But time and having children had altered her metabolism, causing her to steadily gain weight.
Still, Kayla was more concerned with her husband’s well-being than her own.
The back hatch was already open, and their storage area was half-filled with boxes. The vehicle hovered a foot above the ground using magnetic propulsion technology which hummed quietly. Virtually all transportation had been clean, electric, and wheel-less for over a decade. The van was slightly oval-shaped, large enough to accommodate up to six passengers with room to spare for hauling items.
Kayla put her box on top of one of the others. Mark put his next to hers, but it slipped from his grip. Falling to one side, its lid popped off and she heard him sigh in frustration.
“What’s wrong?” Kayla inquired, pushing her glasses back up her sweaty nose. She knew his sigh was about more than a moving box. She was beside him now, one hand resting on his left arm while observing his wistful expression and furrowed brow.
“I just can’t believe they’re both gone,” Mark lamented. “First Mom...now Dad. They lived together in this house ever since Mom...got back.”
“I know,” Kayla replied, nodding in understanding. “Your dad was a father to me a lot longer than my own. But they had a long life.”
“At least they got back together,” Mark added. “That was the best decision they ever made.”
“And they got to know their grandkids,” Kayla remarked with a sad smile.
Kayla decided to grab the moving box that had fallen to the side and lined it up with the others. Grabbing its lid, she glanced inside the box and something caught her eye: a gray, metallic shoebox-sized object which looked extremely old.
“What’s this?” she asked.
“Hm?” Mark turned to look at her.
“This metal, um, container. I think I’ve seen it before—”
“Oh, that? It was Mom’s. She kept it on the mantle above the fireplace with the family pictures.”
“What’s in it?”
“I don’t know. I thought it was just an old jewelry box or something. I’ve never looked inside it.”
“It looks sealed or something.”
Mark nodded. “Yeah. Mom and Dad both tried to open it a few times over the years but never managed to. I think I even attempted it once. But there’s such a long family history with it, we kept it.”
Kayla picked up the old plated box and looked at it with fascination. She smiled.
“Seems a shame to put an old keepsake like this in storage. I doubt we could sell it if we don’t know how to open it,” Kayla noted, looking at Mark. “Do you think your mom would mind if I held onto it?”
Mark paused and then made a slight shrug. “Knowing Mom, it would probably make her happy for you to have it. Go ahead, keep it. Where do you want to put it?”
Kayla held the box close to her chest. “For a family heirloom like this? Your mom kept it on the fireplace, so I guess I’ll do that, too!”
Mark smiled. “Sounds good. Now, let’s go get those last few boxes and take all this to the self-storage facility.”
“You go on up and get one of the boxes — and I mean only one!”
She put the family keepsake on the front passenger floorboard of the vehicle. As she exited the passenger front seat and stepped onto the driveway, she paused to watch her husband enter the house.
“I’m gonna call Jo and have her meet us to unload this stuff,” Kayla stated.
“Won’t she be studying for midterms?”
“This is our oldest daughter we’re talking about. She’ll either be gaming, eating pizza, or writing a new song.”
“Right. Then she’ll cram the night before and probably ace it.”
“Exactly,” Kayla answered with a proud chuckle.
Kayla pressed a button on her wristband as Mark went back inside. A holographic interface appeared.
“Call Jo Lewis,” Kayla told the device.
While the holo-interface on her wristband was attempting to contact her daughter, Kayla looked towards the front of the van. She was surprisingly captivated by the idea of that ancient artifact. Just then, the holo-screen flickered and displayed the words “Connection Established.”
Kayla’s daughter appeared in the waist-up holo-display. She was twenty-three years old and a junior in college, working on her Bachelor of Arts Degree in History. She was tall and average-sized, wearing a dark blue t-shirt. Her hair was shoulder-length, frizzy, and half of it was covering her eyes. The apartment, which she shared with another female student, was only lit by the small amount of sunlight peeking through the blinds of one window.
“Oh, hey, Mom!” Jo smiled in recognition. “Sorry, I just got up.”
“It’s two in the afternoon,” Kayla replied with measured patience.
“Izzit? Oh, wow. We went to see Eventually Watermelon in concert last night. After we got home, we binge-watched a bunch of sci-fi.”
Kayla pushed her glasses back up her nose again. This time, it was more to show her annoyance than to be functional.
“Your Dad and I have been packing up stuff from Grandma and Grandpa’s house. We’re about to take the boxes to storage. Can you help us unload? I don’t want your Dad doing too much.”
“Oh! Um, which storage place?”
“The one at Milea and Condor.”
Jo looked unenthused, so Kayla gave an insistent stare. After a moment, her daughter gave a surrendering shrug.
“I can be there in twenty minutes. Is that okay?”
“Sure. Thanks, Jo! Love you.”
“Love you, too, Mom.”
Kayla pressed another button on her bracelet and the holo-interface dispersed. As she walked inside to see if her husband needed any assistance, she couldn’t help but reminisce for a moment. She thought about Mark’s parents, memories with them in that house. And then suddenly, Mark’s older sister came to mind. It had been over thirty years since she’d last seen Jordan. Sometimes, she still wondered how her sister-in-law was doing on that faraway world of Algoran.
About the author
Allen Steadham is a nondenominational Christian. Happily interracially married since 1995 and the proud father of two sons and a daughter. He and his wife have been in the same Christian band since 1997. He plays electric bass, she plays strings, they both sing. It's all good.
The Allen Steadham Newsletter!
Signup to get the latest news and updates.
Get a FREE Sci-Fi short story just for subscribing below!
You have successfully joined our subscriber list.