The March 29th release of my book, kongo.com is getting closer. It’s a bit different than your typical novel or short story collection. It is comprised of four related novellas that each tell a distinct story about a behemoth corporation, kongo.com.
It’s no secret that online organizations are part of our everyday life. The company portrayed in this book takes what we know today to the next level.
It takes place in a not to distant, potential future. The stories in this book are all based on the possible evolution of existing technology – nanotechnology, artificial intelligence and our obsession with our devices.
Leading up to the release, I’m going to tell you a bit about each novella. Three of the four were previously published on my blog as serials. these three have been enhanced and modified. The fourth story is brand new and is meant to tie the previous three stories together.
I look forward to your reaction to these excerpts. In this next story, I’m going to introduce you to Rachel and her husband Ben who, after much trying, have finally been told they’re expecting a child. At the same time, Rachel is diagnosed with a highly aggressive cancer. The story balances the choices she makes about her treatment with elements of artificial intelligence and suspense that, again, relate back to kongo.com.
Please enjoy this excerpt from the novella, Memories of Rachel, part of my
kongo.com collection. (now available for pre-order)
Memories of Rachel
It had been four months since Rachel died. It was a long, slow period where Ben watched her go from being a vibrant, athletic woman to a frail shell with skin barely covering bones. The onset of the cancer had been sudden and aggressive. She lasted for seven months. She might have survived if she had allowed treatment, but treatment would have killed the baby. Beautiful baby Erin would never have entered this world if her self-sacrificing mom had not refused aggressive chemotherapy.
Ben agonized over his wife’s decision. He assured her they could have more children if she would just save herself. He remembered the conversation.
“Please. Go through the treatment. You can get pregnant again,” Ben pleaded. “I…I just can’t live without you.”
“The treatment will kill the baby. I just can’t do that. Parents are supposed to protect their children. Besides, there’s a good chance the treatment will do so much damage to my body that I won’t be able to get pregnant again. You heard the doctor.”
Rachel had a roller coaster of a month. It ranged from the happiest day of her life, the day she found out that, after three years of trying, she was finally pregnant. Then, four weeks later, eight weeks into her pregnancy, what should have been a joyous day turned out to be one of unimaginable confusion and chaos. It was at the appointment for her first sonogram that the technician noticed something unusual. It turned out to be a shadow on the screen. The doctor was called into the room and he saved several views of the image and scurried off to his office.
They had done their best not to alarm Ben and Rachel, but the technician and doctor could not totally mask their concern. Once Rachel had dressed, she and Ben insisted on talking to the doctor. After he completed his phone call, which Rachel assumed was about her, he ushered the couple into his office.
“First,” the doctor began. “I want to assure you that the baby is right where it should be at this point in your pregnancy.”
Rachel was never one for the sandwich approach to delivering bad news. She liked to hear and evaluate what she was dealing with upfront.
“I hear a big ‘but’ coming, doctor,” she said with impatience, “What are you not telling me?”
“We saw something on the sonogram. I’m not 100% sure what it might be. I’m consulting with a colleague and we think…”
“What kind of colleague?” Ben said, cutting off the doctor.
“Well, it’s an oncologist.”
“Oncologist?” Rachel asked, stunned.
“Just a precaution,” the doctor said. “He’s right in the same medical plaza and he wants to see you today so we can see what we’re dealing with. You can go right over.”
Ben and Rachel went from the obstetrician directly to the oncologist.
Talk about the circle of life, Ben thought to himself once they viewed the patients in various form of decay in the waiting room.
“Ben, I’m scared,” Rachel said.
This was the first time Ben’s could ever remember his confident wife admitting to being scared. He would find out, over the next seven months, it wouldn’t be the last. Not by a long shot.
“Let’s hear what the doctor has to say first, before we jump to conclusions.”
That was Ben’s response. He was trying to convince himself as much as he was trying to comfort his wife. Even though he was feigning calm, his heart was performing Olympic-quality gymnastics in his chest. Rachel was his rock. She was his North Star. He wasn’t sure how he would deal with any bad news about their future.
Once the receptionist took their names, they barely settled into the molded plastic chairs when her name was called to go back and see the doctor ahead of those that were waiting much longer.
There was no sitting in an exam room. Rachel and Ben were directed immediately to Dr. Kaplan’s office. The décor in his office was sparse. It didn’t have the usual motivational or cheerful pictures or mementos. It was almost sterile with only his diplomas and hospital affiliations on display. He was a man who was likely in his 50s but looked like he was in his 60s. Ben imagined that Kaplan’s job was a stressful one where delivering bad news far outweighed the positive.
Kaplan settled into his well-worn chair behind his sparse desk. He turned the large computer monitor so that Ben and Rachel could see it. Ben wondered what they were going to see. He didn’t realize at the time that it would change their lives forever.
“As you were having your sonogram, the technician noticed a…um, an anomaly.”
“What kind of anomaly?” Rachel asked.
“Well, it was a mass. It appears to be attached to your liver.”
“So, what do we do to treat it?” Ben asked anxiously.
“We have a few options. We need to assess the tumor and, if it’s cancerous, how advanced it is and if it’s spread to other areas of the body,” Doctor Kaplan explained. “Then, we can discuss treatment options.”
“What about the baby?” Rachel asked.
“The baby, um, yes. Your pregnancy is only about eight weeks in. The surgery and the resulting treatment would likely cause you to abort spontaneously.”
“Abort spontaneously? You mean a miscarriage?” Rachel asked.
“Well, yes. That is the common term for it.”
“But she will be able to get pregnant again, right?” Ben asked.
The doctor leaned back in his chair and laced his fingers behind his head which caused his brow to furrow. He was silent for a moment and then seemed to carefully weigh his next words.
“There are still many aspects of this that we can’t be sure about. The tumor could be benign and might just need to be removed. If it is cancerous, it may not have metastasized to other parts of Rachel’s body. If it has, the treatment might be fairly aggressive and could damage the uterus and ovaries making pregnancy difficult if not unlikely. This is all conjecture, however. I don’t want to scare you into drastic action but, with that said, we need to move quickly to rule out those worst-case scenarios.”
As it turned out, all the worst-case scenarios were confirmed. Rachel had cancerous tumors, not only her liver, but in her lungs and there was evidence that it had metastasized in her brain. She and Ben were devastated. The most aggressive treatment would possibly prolong her life, but not cure her. It would also end the life of their unborn child. This was not acceptable to Rachel. This drove her to the decision to forego treatment and concentrate on delivering a healthy baby. She more than exceeded this goal.
kongo.com is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com by clicking HERE.