The Hope Machine

The Hope Machine is a stand alone novel, and once again a work that took me in a new direction. It is a light sci-fi, drama, suspense, and my first ever work in the first person. It is also a much shorter novel than The Shattered Gate, or even A crack in Time. Cover art and publication information will be up soon. In the meantime, here is a sample of the book.

"Theodore Rushtman was a simple scientist leading a simple life. He was blessed with the mind of a genius, a loving wife, and a full, quiet career. That all changed when he went to work for Ferris Regent, one of the greatest minds of the age. Theodore’s uneventful life is turned up-side-down as he unwittingly finds himself aiding in the completion of a dream, the dream of a possible madman.

Theodore must weigh the consequences of fulfilling his own life’s work with the possible disastrous repercussions of helping Ferris complete the Hope Machine.

The Hope Machine is a story of one man’s quest to discover what it is that makes him human, and a man." - From the back cover.

Chapter 1

My name is Theodore Rushtman, and I am a genius. I’m one of those prodigious individuals that people often hear about in movies and novels. We’re not as rare as the world thinks we are. Certainly there is not one in every school, but there is enough of us to keep the laboratories and facilities of the scientific communities well stocked.

I was an atypical genius. I skipped most of high school, got my first PHD in micro-biology when I was in my teens, and my second PHD in neuro–biology before I was twenty–one. I could have been a groundbreaking neuro–surgeon, or a renowned psychiatrist. I lacked any sort of social skills to be a psychiatrist, and I was always more interested in cutting brains apart than putting them back together. The lab was where I belonged. By twenty–seven, I was made a department head at the research facility of Mure–Brec International, the leading brain research company in the world. I received the job because I was the most qualified man and deserved it, not because I lobbied for it, nor even desired it.

I was set. It had been some years since I passed the level of stereotypical nerd and moved on to just an adult. A third of the way through my life, and I had already achieved most of the things I had set my mind to. I had my career, and I had some hobbies. I was quite good at working with latex, clays and foams to build models and props. I was a long way off being a Hollywood specialist, but I had some skill for it.

The idea of love did not register often in my mind. I understood the concept well enough, or so I believed. And as a human being, I felt the occasional twinge of loneliness. Sixteen hours a day, seven days a week in the lab did not leave much room for anything in my life but work. It was a good life.

A year later, my life changed for the first dramatic and uncontrollable time in twenty–eight years. As department head, it was one of my unsavoury functions to partake in charity fundraisers to help offset the costs of our research. It was not that I did not like people. I wasn’t incapable of dealing with individuals in a civilized and intelligent manner. It was people en masse that was beyond my abilities. The worst of it was knowing that I was one of the few that would arrive alone and stand in the spotlight of a hundred couples that knew I had arrived alone. It was one of those few times that I felt that inconvenient twinge. It all changed that night when I found Hope.

The charity event in question was an art auction. I was completely out of my element and after the mandatory introductions to the benefactors of Mure–Brec, I safely hide myself away in a quiet corner with a glass of water and waited for the night to end. I did not appreciate the loneliness and I had a lot of work to do. That is when I found Hope. Or rather, when Hope Lily McCaffrey found me.

She was stunning. Dressed in a black cocktail dress, her long chestnut hair curled about her shoulders, she spotted me, as the old cliché goes, from across the room. I tried not to look at her as she made her way over, hoping that her destination was somewhere along the way. But she didn’t stop. Her thin, elegant form swayed confidently as she approached, until she stood before me.

I’m not much of a man, when it comes to the truth. At 5’8”, I know that I’m short. My frame is small at best, my features, though not disproportioned or harsh to the eyes, are simple, angular, and plain. As she stood in my personal space, I shifted awkwardly, my rented tuxedo suddenly feeling too large for my light frame. When she finally spoke, I could only look at her, her green eyes level with my own in her inch high heels. She was beautiful, her fair skin glowing under the florescent lights, her long, elegant limbs moving gracefully with her lean body. But what I remembered most was her eyes, accented with light eyeliner, the skin on her cheeks and around her eyes flawless. She had to repeat herself, a coy smile playing on her thin lips, before I could bring myself to respond to her.

Hope was a young artist. At twenty–four, many in her field saw her as a prodigy of a different sort, with a great future ahead of her. She had four paintings on display for sale at the auction. I would learn later that her only sibling had received a brain injury in a car accident three years prior. He was debilitated and died some months later. This was her tribute to him. That was not the reason she approached me that night.

As I absorbed her statement that had been spoken for a second time, I could not help but smile at her observation: we wore the same glasses. They were simple, oval, wireless frames. I would not have thought it probable that eyeglasses could have breached the incomprehensible boundary between science and art, but mathematics was not my specialty.

We had spent the remainder of that night talking together, and somehow dinner the next night. She had a way with me. It was like she could walk inside my mind and force me to act like a normal, social person and not the lab coat that I was. We married exactly one year later, and spent the next year a happy couple.

I would not call our relationship typical. My experience was lacking in that field, but I knew we were abnormal. She was an artist. Her thoughts were free, her mind open, and her inhibitions limitless. I was a scientist. I was locked into reason and scientific method. In the world of science, opposites attract. I did not believe this was comparable in a relationship. But I fell in love with her, and she with me. She spent the two years since we met trying to untie a lifetime of ingrown logic and to integrate me, with great resistance and much trepidation, into the social world that existed outside the lab. I tried to bring reason to her chaos. And I knew deep down inside that she deserved someone better than myself. I was plain and simple; she was gorgeous and alive with herself. She wanted to live life and capture it in her art. I wanted to work in my lab and, when I was home, keep Hope all to myself and wonder at the miracle that she could be in love with me. No, ours relationship was not typical, but somehow we worked.

I once heard a saying: Talent does what it can; genius does what it must. I would come to wonder much later in my life, after being immersed in the life Hope lived, if this was not backwards. But for the time being, and much to Hope’s chagrin, logic and science and genius would rule my life.

That is how it started, and how it came to be two years and a couple of months after our marriage, that I met Ferris Regent, and my life changed for the second, and last, dramatic and uncontrollable time.

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All material 2002-2017, Chris H Marker.