Title: Remnant: An Anthology
Author: Roland Allnach
Publisher: All Things That Matter Press (November 11, 2010)
Length: 218 pges
Subgenres: Sci-Fi /Fantasy
A stirring, thought provoking anthology of three novellas within the speculative/science fiction genres. The stories are linked in theme by characters seeking self- truth, redemption, and their moral center. The novellas, in order ofappearance, are: All the Fallen Angels, in which a convicted war criminal attempts to make peace with his past; Enemy, I Know You Not, in which a military officer that was captured and tortured tries to find his loyalty in an abyss of suspected betrayals; and Remnant, in which the survivor of a global pandemic is confronted with the prospect of making peace with hismemories when other survivors attempt to bring him back from self-imposed isolation.
…there she stands, among the whispers of ruin, caught between so much anger and hurt and betrayal. So dark, that night: the whisper of the wind, the patter of the rain, the steam of humid air; it had the feel of dissolution, of tears and loss and futility. And there she stands among it all, among the whispers, dehumanized, for what is her life—any life—but the lost murmur of whispers in the dark?
She was only nine. I shot her anyway.
The nightmare snapped away as it always did, stunning the mind of the man that had been held in its sway. He rose up in bed—not bolting, but more a slow, steady bend at the waist to sit upright, like some undead creature of old. The comparison, he thought distantly, was not all that off the mark.
He turned in the darkness to let his feet slide out from under the sheets of his bed. There was no curious glance over his shoulder to look upon his wife; he knew by now that she was a heavy enough sleeper, and that she had grown accustomed to his often troubled sleep. Yet it bothered him nonetheless, waking a petty notion in the lonely recesses of his heart, a petty notion of jealousy to sleep in apparent peace.
With a sigh, he departed the bed and staggered with the stiffness of his bad leg towards the little kitchen of their captain’s cabin. He moved with familiarity, not turning on any lights, yet still able to silently gather his customary mug and the hot water to make his tea. Then he settled himself at the small table beside the portal of their cabin, one hand on his mug, the other on his com. He looked out to the cold points of starlight in the black void. He blinked. The sound of water, the soft tinkle of running water, came to him. He looked to the sink, but he had turned off the faucet.
He closed his eyes.
The com vibrated under his hand, startling him. His arm folded like an old mechanism to bring the little black communicator to his ear. He could hear the breathing on the other end of the call. He knew who it was, but not how she knew to call, and she always knew; she always called when he woke, but she never spoke. Too many bad things dwelled between them, he knew. Where does one start? When all that’s left is broken, which piece do you pick up first, and more important, why that particular piece?
But then something changed: she spoke his name, her voice a thin rasp in his ear.
He blinked. His lips parted. He put the com down and keyed it off, but stared at it for several seconds, his face settling to stone. His eyelids slid shut, and when he opened them, he was looking to his side to see his wife standing by the teapot, arms crossed on her chest, her long blue nightshirt hanging to her knees. “Nightmare?” she said through a long yawn.
He stared at her.
She rubbed her face before walking around the table to hug him from behind, her arms wrapping around his shoulders. Her dark hair slid forward to brush against his cheek. He barely breathed. His eyes had not moved, holding where he had seen her, as if she still stood there.
He laid his hand over the com.
“It’s my burden, Pallia, not yours.”
“But it’s here, with both of us.” She let her breath go. “You took your pill?”
He shifted in his seat, uncomfortable at once, but nevertheless confessed to her. “Last two days. Something’s changed. I don’t know. I’ve been sleeping well for the last few weeks. No headaches, no nightmares, no calls—”
She straightened, her dark hair trailing across his neck as she receded from him, but her hands remained on his shoulders. “Those pills are old, you know. Expired, I would think. Maybe you should see Piccolo tomorrow. At least you could sleep then.”
She said nothing. After several moments she went back to bed, the only remaining imprint of her presence the sudden chill of his skin where she had touched him. He crossed his arms over his chest to lay his fingers on his shoulders, sensing the dissipating warmth of her hands. He looked over his shoulder, but as he expected, she was gone. With a frown, he let his hands slide down to lay on his thighs as he looked back to the mug of tea.
He sat for some time, alone, in the dark, his eyes burning. He pushed the com away, his arm holding a moment before he settled his hand in his lap. He rested back in his chair, gazed out the portal to the emptiness of space, and took a sip of tea.
A shrug, slight and almost involuntary, pulled at his shoulders.
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About the Author:
Roland Allnach has been writing since his early teens, first as a hobby, but as the years passed, more as a serious creative pursuit. He’s an avid reader, with his main interests residing in history, mythology, and literary classics, along with some fantasy and science fiction in his earlier years.
By nature he has a do-it-yourself type of personality, and his creative inclinations started with art and evolved to the written word.
Since making the decision to pursue a career as an author, he’s secured publication for a number of short stories, received a nomination for inclusion in the Pushcart Anthology, built his own website, and in November 2010 realized publication for an anthology of three novellas, titled Remnant, from All Things That Matter Press, followed in 2012 by his second anthology, Oddities & Entities, also from All Things That Matter Press. Both books have gone on to receive a number of national awards, including National Indie Excellence Awards, Readers Favorite Book of the Year Awards, and USA Book News Best Book Awards.
His writing can best be described as depicting strange people involved in perhaps stranger situations. He prefers to let his stories follow their own path. His writing is sometimes speculative, other times supernatural, at times horror, with journeys into mainstream fiction, and even some humor- or perhaps the bizarre. Despite the category, he aims to depict characters as real on the page as they are in his head, with prose of literary quality. His literary inspirations are as eclectic as his written works – from Poe to Kate Chopin, from Homer to Tolkien, from Flaubert to William Gibson, from Shakespeare to Tolstoy, as long as a piece is true to itself, he’s willing to go along for the ride. He hopes to bring the same to his own fiction.
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These three stories take a dip into the darkness that lurks in every humans soul. The first two stories revolve around military men and the last is about a survivor of the Apocalypse. Even though the situations were fantastical, the emotions and by-play of the humans in the stories was so real. I found this book to be thought-provoking and a good read. But be warned! These stories have a dark bittersweet edge to them.
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