Title: The Last City
Publisher: Self-published through Bookbaby
A battle approaches Threa - a war of wills, one driven to control it, and the other to destroy it.
While immersed in their history, Lydia learns of the overwhelming threat to the planet and its people. And even though she was brought to Threa by her soulmate Jordan, it has come to be her home. And she will not let it go.
Every day Lydia trains with Lena and Dax, but she doubts she will ever be as strong as they need her to be. She is determined however, to be strong enough, to be ready, should she ever again, be confronted by an enemy.
But what she can’t fight, are Jordan’s memories. With each step that he takes toward the past, Lydia feels him pulling away, closing himself off.
As the war rages, Lydia is determined to stay strong when her faith in Jordan is challenged. But is she strong enough to survive her own fears? Or will his ties to the past sever the unbreakable bond between them?
Each time I saw it, a feeling nagged in my chest that something was wrong with the scene. However, I hadn't yet been able to put my finger on it. I hadn't seen too many sunsets over the water on Earth, but from what I had seen, there was definitely something missing from the one before me.
"We don't have to go back tomorrow," he said, stroking my hair away from my face. I peered up at him, only to see him gazing back at me.
"I know. But you know she's right."
"You need a break from all of that pain."
I could use a permanent break from all of the pain. But on this world, that concept seemed to have vanished some time ago.
I cast my gaze back out to the ocean and tried to make sense of the image before me. Jordan's breath rolled down my neck and across my chest in warm waves, caressing me. My skin welcomed the gentle touch, and I closed my eyes. The sound of the ocean waves lulled me into a memory, and I drifted back to my childhood - a day at the beach with my brother and grandparents, the sunset twinkling upon the water. I smiled at the recollection, and welcomed Jordan's next exhale as it warmed me like the sun across the exposed surface of the water in my mind. And in my memory, the water reciprocated the sun's touch with its glinting reflections, sparkling, and waving back at the sky.
My eyes slipped open, and a small smile turned the corners of my mouth at the thought of that day. And while wishing to feel more of that memory, I stared out at the ocean expecting to see those same sunlit reflections upon the water's surface, waving to me, welcoming me, as it stretched its watery arms toward us.
What I saw however, was the sun shining low upon the western horizon. Yellow, red, and gold splashing the sky above, and around the edge of the watery landscape, but never touching the ocean's surface.
Not a flicker.
Not a flash.
Not a single gleam of light glanced across the water's peaks.
I eased upright, staring dumbstruck at the horizon. Why hadn't I seen it before?
"What is it?" Jordan asked.
"The light," I began, attempting to acknowledge the insanity of the view before me. "It's supposed to touch the water. But... it has no reflection."
He didn't respond. Instead, he only stared out at the water as though trying to see what I was seeing.
"Is it the sun? Because it's not real?" I asked, and I could hear my voice rise in pitch, in much the same way Rebecca's did when she had trouble comprehending something.
"The sun and the sky may be painted over, generated colors, but they're still real."
"Why doesn't it reflect off the water?"
"Because I didn't paint it that way."
"The sun?" I asked, confused. The reflection upon the water would not be part of the sky he'd created. I hadn't shown him the sunset over the water.
"No, the ocean. They were two separate projects, planned and completed at separate times."
"Wait," I swallowed hard, and paused for my brain to catch up. "You painted the ocean as well? You mean it's generated?"
Not possible. I'd swam in that ocean. Its water was warm, soft, and every bit as wet and sandy as the ocean on Earth.
"This ocean, I saw from images in the Central Unit. Images someone else had brought back from Rathe. The air over their ocean was thick, their sun was dimmed and it cast no reflection."
"But you painted this. All of it?"
He smiled, no doubt enjoying my moment of incredulity at his artwork.
"Not possible," I said, this time out loud.
"You saw my round room. You saw the clouds, felt the rain, smelt the flowers, enjoyed each soft blade of grass against your skin," he said, with a smirk. "It was all painted."
"But h-how? The ocean goes on for miles," I said, and tried to control my trembling words, as I realized all he was saying. He'd painted the sky, the sunsets, the dawn, the stars, the clouds, the rain... and the ocean. It didn't make sense. Did he paint everything? The mountain? The forest? The cliff we climbed down? The fields the Rathe grew our crops in? The very crops we ate?
I rose from our seat, my eyes never leaving his face. Was he real? Was anything?
"Lydia," he whispered, standing with me. "What's wrong?"
"What else did you paint?" I could barely say it. "What else is generated? Is anything real?"
"It's all real," he tried to reassure me, as he clasped my fingers and pulled me toward him. "Everything is real. Just different than what was here before."
"What was here before?"
"I couldn't say. I created much of this landscape long before I'd ever ventured out of the city."
"But the fields, the food we grow, Castor's orchard..."
"All real. All planted from seed, all growing the way you see it grow. But if we choose to make a change, the Central Unit can change the landscape to meet our needs. I just designed the landscape, gave it color and substance. The Central Unit did the rest."
I'm not sure why I was so shocked to hear it said, so amazed and astounded by the workings of this world. I shouldn't have been. I'd seen things change before, right in front of me. During my first visit inside their city, whole houses, streets, and neighborhoods, had transformed before my eyes, from a collection of plain, orderly structures into various colorful memories of my home on Earth. And all pulled right out of my mind.
But that had been within the city, enclosed and controlled by the Central Unit and its Guardian. Outside of the city, I had assumed, and incorrectly it seemed, that the environment, the land, the ocean, the food... was natural.
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Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, RMGilmour currently resides in Florida, USA, with her two children, two cats, and a turtle. She enjoys filling blank pages with Sci-Fi-Romance, and Sci-Fi-Fantasy, both in novel length and also short stories.
Social Media Links:
My website: www.rmgilmour.com
(The first five chapters of The Colony, and the first chapter of The Last City, as well as two short stories from The Colony, are available on my website.