Title: Thirty-Three Days
Author: Stephen B King
Genre: Thriller/Suspense/Time Travel Romance
Jenny is a lonely university lecturer who's consciousness has traveled back in time to her younger body to try to save the future of the world. A young microbiologist is going to release a genetically modified wheat that will mutate and ultimately destroy all plant life, leaving nothing but barren, windswept dust bowls.
In the past, Jenny finds a love that has been missing from her life - the kind that comes just once in a lifetime. But Jenny can stay in that time period for only 33 days.
Meanwhile, in the future, fearful Jenny will fail, plans are made to send another back in time - an assassin. How can she choose between saving the man she loves and saving the future?
“Me? What do I know? I’m just a truck driver; he has the brains. I’m not even sure with what you mean by the track record we have.”
“Well, a couple of things come to mind which has dramatically affected us here in Australia. Cane Toads for one thing.”
“But they weren’t genetically modified, surely?”
“No, but they were introduced into the sugar-growing areas of Northern Queensland in 1935 in a hope to combat a beetle which was at the time devastating crops. The beetle eats the leaves of sugar cane, but the larvae which live deep in the ground, eat the roots, too deep for normal pesticides. So, just so people can have lots of sugar in their soft drinks, make cakes with, or sprinkle on their breakfast cereal, the cane toad was released to attack the beetle. About one hundred of them were set free, apparently under strict control, in and around Cairns and Innisfail. They originated from Hawaii, and they have since spread like wildfire, killing many native species because of the toxin on their skin. They look good to eat, and they are slow, therefore easy to catch by carnivores, and boy do they breed! You bet they do. But one bite on their toxic skin and the predator dies. They have marched north and westwards, killing pretty much everything that tries to attack them.
“They have been described as ‘the greatest risk ever to Australian biodiversity.’ That was the Kakadu National Park’s risk assessment, by the way, in the Northern Territory, which shows how far they have traveled. They now reside in the North of Western Australia, gaining something like thirty miles a day, and spreading south. They will be in Perth before you know it. Think about the geography, and the landscape, Iain, and you will realize they have traveled something like five thousand miles. The government of the day did not contemplate the future risk, only the short-term benefits.”
“Hmm, I see. I hadn’t thought of that before. But surely we have stricter controls these days, don’t we?”
“Ah, but do we? I’m not so sure. When there is big money involved, the promise of massive profits tends to make people in authority turn a blind eye. There are lots of other examples.”
“Foxes, goats, camels, rabbits to name a few, all imported into our environment, for some short term gain or other, and all have devastated our ecology, and bred out of control. Australia has a unique eco-balance and when something is introduced which doesn’t belong, the effects can be catastrophic, and far-reaching. Honey Bees, and European Wasps are so firmly entrenched they are now impossible to eradicate, and the list goes on and on. The Fire Ant is a particularly nasty threat but is so far contained in Northern Queensland, for how long no one can guess. They have a poisonous sting which can kill humans, and if, or should I say when, they break out, it could cause a massive problem for us. Living underground as they do, they can be very hard to stop, if not impossible.”
“Jesus, I can see I might have to come between you and Brad at the dinner table.”
“Oh, I think healthy debate is a good thing, don’t you?” She squeezed his thigh again. She did not want to get too heavily involved in discussions of a nature which might affect their relationship. Not too early in the piece anyway. There would be time enough in the weeks to come.
“But Brad wants to be a savior to the world’s food supply needs, not hurt it further.”
“Very true, and it’s to be commended, Iain. But, history is littered with good intentions having turned bad. There is the age-old debate about progress. ‘Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.’”
“But, who has the right then to make those decisions on behalf of the rest of us?”
“And therein lies the problem, Iain, who indeed should determine it? That’s why some of the things are in the mess they are. As an environmentalist, I just want to make sure there is something left for our kids, and their kids. I’m not necessarily against progress, but some things are best left as they are. Nature is in balance, once it goes out of that state, who can say where it will end?
“Hydro-Fluorocarbons are another good example. In the sixties, they were the propellant used in spray cans; it was a cheap way to be able to spray deodorant. But they were destroying the ozone layer and who would have thought it? They were banned worldwide, thankfully. Today, the layer is slowly recovering, but if we didn’t have the benefit of those studies and act on them back then, the incidence of some types of cancer, particularly skin cancer, would be vastly worse than they are today. Oh, I’m so sorry Iain, I didn’t mean to mention cancer because of Simone, please forgive me.”
“It’s okay, it’s no problem, I’m really enjoying this discussion, tell me more.”
“All right, but be warned, once you get me started I find it hard to stop. Let me ask you a question, what do you think about antibiotics?”
He glanced at her with a strange look on his face. “They have saved numerous lives, what’s wrong with them?”
“Well in some instances, undoubtedly they have saved lives. But, more realistically, in most cases all they’ve done is hasten a person’s recovery. We get sick, the doctors prescribe them, and we get better. But we now have people who are developing allergies to them, and the incidence is growing exponentially. Worse we have bugs which have now mutated so much they can defeat the drugs. So, the germs are now not only immune from antibiotics, but are far more virulent than they would be had they been left alone. If we had evolved a natural defense to some illnesses, they may well have disappeared by now.
“Polio is coming back, having almost been eradicated through a worldwide immunization program. Thanks mainly to Rotary International’s work, and right there is a truly benevolent effort. It was commendable and is a prime example of good intentions. But, the strain of Polio we are now seeing has no cure, and you cannot immunize against it.
“You see Iain, things mutate, it’s the natural order of things. When we look at bugs and parasites, it is the intention of the parasite to live off its host, not kill it. When the parasite kills, it effectively commits suicide itself and therefore does not fulfil its basic quest to live and survive. So, given time, humans can develop immunity, and the parasite gets to live within us, and everyone is happy. Naturally, some people will die along the way and of course that is tragic, but globally, or for the benefit of the population it could be argued antibiotics should be banned. The human gut has billions of bacteria which initially were dangerous, but now we have learned to live with, and some we need to survive now. Another problem with antibiotics is they can, in some cases, kill the good bacteria residing inside us. It’s a complex issue, Iain, and there are no easy answers. One thing’s for sure, the drug companies have made many, many millions of dollars along the way.
“So, bugs mutate usually, but most eventually adapt without killing the host. When man interferes with nature, and worse modifies it, he can take away that aspect.”
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I recently said to my publisher, who has been amazing and very loyal and supportive of my books, that I would love to have a ‘best seller’, not for my benefit, but for theirs. It would be my way of saying thank you for sticking with me and publishing my work so my voice can be heard. I’d love for that to happen in 2020.
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Of recent times here in Australia global warming and climate change are being blamed on our worst ever bush fire season ever and experts say it is the greatest threat to our future survival. Thirty-Three Days is not about climate change, however, it is about how when man tampers with nature it can cause devastating effects. In this case, it is a genetically modified strain of wheat that harbors a modified blight which within two hundred and fifty years destroys all plant life in the world, and therefore mankind will become extinct. One woman travels back in time to try to stop it before it starts.
I didn’t write this book to preach, but I hope some aspects of this story cause people to spare a thought for our fragile environment.
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Runs January 1 – 31, 2020.
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I left Perth, Australia to go East and find fame and fortune in the music business as a long-haired rock guitarist. I wrote poems and music, and my band used to open for some pretty big groups in my wild days. I gave it all up for love and got married (as you do when the right one comes along). Then, real-life took over, children came along, and I threatened to write a book for so many years my long-suffering wife eventually pushed me into it by buying me a laptop and said: "No more excuses, do it." And so began this amazing journey.
Thrillers and crime genres have always fascinated me, and in particular, the dark world of serial killers. I love a good, unputdownable, thriller. You know, the kind you just want to read one more chapter of at three in the morning before bed, but you have to be up at six to go to work. Have I succeeded in creating stories that can take people to that place? Boy, I hope so.
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