People like saying life’s short a lot. The problem is, they don’t really mean it. It actually is short, very short, but they don’t believe in its shortness until the very end. Had they truly meant it, our world would have been a really different place. They would know what to do with their lives.
Chapter 4 of EDEN CAN WAIT has been posted
A plastic surgery?
I stopped reading and looked up. They must have been used to seeing the flabbergasted expression that line was putting on the candidates’ faces, and were expecting it.
"Please read everything," said the woman, almost gently.
I caught an attentive gaze of the man on the left and returned to reading, expecting to see some explanation and secretly hoping that the contract itself was some kind of a test.
I was wrong. Instead of clarifying things, the last page of the document was offering a brief heavily worded list of rules and prohibited acts. I was not to engage in any communications with the outside world. I was to follow all directives. I was to report any illness immediately. I was not to break out of my character under any circumstances …
I looked up again and met three pairs of peering eyes.
“Do you have any questions?” asked the bearded man.
I cleared my throat. Asking him which one of us was insane was certainly tempting, but hardly prudent.
“Well,” I said, after drawing blank for a moment. “Could you please tell me what this is all about?”
Chapter 3 of EDEN CAN WAIT has been posted
Read Chapter 3 of EDEN CAN WAIT on Wattpad.
I sat down. The chair was cold and hardly comfortable.
“Thank you for coming to this interview,” said the bearded man. “We have some questions we’d like to ask you and, undoubtedly, you have some questions you’d like to ask us. We’ll start with ours and then will get to yours.”
Long or not, the conversation was clearly not going to become very informative anytime soon. These people were not even introducing themselves. In person, ESI staff seemed to exude the same “whatever” attitude that was so evident in their written communications.
“Please tell us, Mr. West,” went on the man with a beard without waiting for my reaction. “When was the last time you were under severe stress and how exactly did you handle the situation?”
I ditched “how about now” response and thought about a high school fight that left me with a broken rib. However, the ghost of the questionnaire with its three pages of questions about violence suggested that it would be prudent to keep that story to myself. In particular, the people I was facing would not have liked the “how did you handle the situation?” part. So instead, I told them about one of my startup days when I had just a single night to deliver a long article full of half-verified facts and half-baked conclusions, so that we would be the first to cover what looked like a very promising story. It felt like a safer bet.They seemed to listen to me very attentively, as if trying to grasp every sound. And they were staring. Staring as if they had never seen a talking human before.
AWAKENING Climbs Up the Charts on Amazon and Nook
AWAKENING has climbed today to #127 in Kindle Store and #5 on Barnes & Nobel’s NOOK Press Top 100 list. It has also landed at #1 spot in a number of Amazon Kindle categories, including Democracy and Good and Evil.
While ranks like these don’t last long, it’s been very rewarding to see the novel that at some point was rejected by a dozen of agents due to its “limited commercial potential” to be that high up in charts.
I want to thank everyone who has bought the book and by doing so also made it more visible for others.
Chapter 2 of EDEN CAN WAIT has been posted
Dear Mr. West,
We would like to offer you an opportunity to participate in a sociological research project. Should you accept this offer your participation will be well rewarded. Due to the sensitive nature of our research we ask you to keep the details of our communications as well as the fact of this offer strictly confidential. Should you disclose this information to others, this offer will be permanently rescinded.
You will receive further information upon confirmation of your interest in this opportunity.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Experimental Science Institute
I reread the message for the third time. It didn’t sound like spam. It could’ve been a scam but they were not asking for anything. The only information they would get out of my reply would be a confirmation of my email address. And, given the fact that my address had been posted on my site for everyone’s enjoyment, I wouldn’t be disclosing anything they didn’t already know.
Besides, the letter was too vague for a scam. If you want someone’s immediate attention you have to offer him a huge and juicy carrot, not some vague promise of an unspecified vegetable. The letter reeked of “whatever” attitude and was hardly designed to lure innocent victims.
In fact, it was the letter’s vagueness that was making me question its true intentions. It was simply too light on details for a legitimate job interview invitation. Unless of course, it was exactly what it claimed to be—an invitation from an organization that wanted to disclose information about itself only on a need-to-know basis.
As I sat wondering about all this, it occurred to me that I had been overlooking an important piece of information. I checked the sender’s address. EXPSCI.ORG hardly looked like a domain name for a spammer, a scammer or any kind of evil entity for that matter. It was too boring. And when you deal with something boring you can be pretty sure you deal with something real.
Not fully trusting my gut reaction, I went to the site, only to discover a page that was even more boring than its address. The site appeared to be closed for unauthorized visitors so all I could do was to stare at the organization’s logo. A black-and-white scientifically looking emblem with letters ESI in the center was staring back at me, suggesting that I should forget about the email or reply to it.
I chose the latter.
The answer came back fifteen minutes after I had sent my laconic “I am interested” response.
Chapter 1 of Eden Can Wait has been posted
I don’t how I’ve been living here.
In fact, I don’t even know where “here” is. If I were to write down every piece of information I know about this place, they would all fit on a single page. The list of questions I have about my new home though would easily fill a thick notebook. But writing them down would be a complete waste of time, because no one would bother to answer. Moreover, I’ve been strongly cautioned against asking questions. The only exceptions are questions we allowed to ask in class, but these are not the kind of questions I have in mind. So I don’t ask questions anymore. I’ve even almost stopped pondering about possible answers. Everything has an expiration date. Even curiosity.
Memories on the other hand, remain fresh and vivid. More vivid than they ever been. And this is no wonder, since they are my only link between “here” and the real world. Between this strange existence and real life. Memories, clothes and dumbbells. Everything else was left behind. Things, places, sounds, concepts … And people.
Eden Can Wait: A New Serialized Novel Goes Live Online
My new novel Eden Can Wait is now being published online on Wattpad in small installments. In many ways, it’s going be an experiment for me, since I’ll be publishing the story almost in real time, as it gets written. Among things, this means a lack of editorial proofreading—the novel will be edited professionally once I finish it. On the positive side, I get to share this writing adventure with others.
So without further ado…
I know that, for anyone else, what I’ve been going through would sound like a transformation. But transformation is the wrong word. If anything, what I’m experiencing is the exact opposite of a transformation. With each mask that comes off, I get closer to some unchangeable part of me. Something solid, essential, and unyielding to any pressure. Something I’ve always vaguely felt within, but never had either means or courage to find and face.
- Ray N. Kuili, The Last Mask
Illustration by Shubhojoy Mitra