For The Writer's Voice contest
The Road of the Dead
Adult Science Fiction
Plot Summary from Query:
In a resource-starved future, most people view The Program as a godsend. A technology invented by reclusive scientist Gary Frantengelo, The Program converts energy from the souls of the dead into cheap and limitless power. But there are some who believe that it is an abomination.
Singer-songwriter Sheppard Lorren hasn’t given much thought to the Program until he collides with it head-on. Far from home on tour, he receives devastating news. Not only is his cancer-stricken daughter Lily close to death, but his estranged wife has promised Lily’s soul to The Program. Joined by Fratangelo’s sister, and Mako, a brilliant technophile whose biggest secret is his involvement in the Program, Sheppard embarks on a journey to the Sacred Lands, ground zero for the abomination that is the Program. To get there, the trio must survive a nightmare landscape where the earth is cracked and lifeless and ectoplasm falls from the sky in a deadly blue rain, and even if they make it, it may be too late to save Lily, and there may be no stopping The Program as it reaches critical mass.
First 250 words:
Energy may neither be created nor destroyed. Therefore the sum of all the energies in the system is a constant.
-- The Law of Conservation of Energy
Even with his head ducked low to avoid recognition, Sheppard Lorren saw the prophet hovering above the street corner adjacent to the hotel. With his arms spread wide to draw in the gathering crowd, the prophet floated nearly three feet up, his feet planted as if the air he stood on was as solid as the sidewalk below.
“Through our greed we have defied the natural order.” Evangelical in its cadence, the man’s amplified voice boomed out across the folks who’d stopped to listen. “No, not defied. We have defiled the natural order.”
Sheppard tugged the brim of his baseball cap down lower over his eyes, and then approached the edge of the gathering, glancing around to make sure he hadn’t been noticed. But with everyone’s eyes focused on the larger-than-life figure levitating there like a god come to earth, nobody so much as blinked in his direction.
The prophet shimmered, a rippling in the three-dimensional image, and Sheppard recognized the figure for what it was. A hologram.
He’d seen prophets before. In some cities they were on practically every street, their clothes tattered, their hair dirty. As plentiful as robins had once been in springtime, they perched atop shipping crates or the bases of statues, preaching God’s wrath and the end of the world. But he’d never seen a manifestation like this.