Not exactly. In Lady Grace, a few survivors of the nuclear holocaust make their way back to Piermont Manor, Jeremy Edgarton’s ancestral estate. The radiation is gone and it’s finally safe to go home.
What awaits them makes their worst dreams look like Bollywood frolics. Right away, they find out that evolution can work for evil as well as good. Going home requires a battle more deadly than any they’ve fought.
The returning characters appear from everywhere, in ways you’d never believe. Some of them you’ve met before; some are new to Tales from Earth’s End.
Bud Creeman and Wesley Silverhorse, characters from author Sandy Nathan’s novel, Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money, drop in from the year 2015, thousands of years before the time of Lady Grace. Bud and Wes provide needed Native American skills and spiritual power.
Shining through it all is Lady Grace, a phoenix rising from the devastation of her civilization, unrecognizable as the person she once was.
It was a new world, but was it one that permitted love?
“Come on, Ellie! They’ll let us go this time.” Jeremy dashed out of the tiny place where he and Ellie lived. His waist-length dreadlocks flopped behind him and his bare feet slapped the smooth surface of the hallway.
The door’s membrane tried to catch Eliana, but she slipped through. His wife was as agile and beautiful as the day they’d met.
He carried two bags of survival gear that he’d created from intergalactic junk. The goldies had swept the heavens to get him raw materials for construction projects. Before they’d given him something to do, Jeremy’s boredom-induced screaming fits had traumatized the planet.
He and Ellie ran through a translucent passage in the planet’s depths, bells booming all around them. Chimes always sounded on the planet, carrying messages. These bells were alarms. Horrified faces wailed in the walls, pointing at them with luminous fingers. They were the souls of the departed elders and formed the elastic, semi-transparent substance of the golden planet. The whole world was some shade of amber—ranging from glowing yellow to almost black. Lights shone from the planet’s depths, raking arcs like searchlights and then fading.
Jeremy galloped past Belarian’s grand, bejeweled palace. “Bitch,” he shouted and kept running. Belarian, the “mother” Eliana had missed so much when she was on Earth, was really her owner. She had tormented Jeremy.
He made a quick turn, going up another corridor. Jeremy thought living in their adopted home was like being inside someone’s guts. Undulating, ribbed tubes ran everywhere. The tunnels moved and shifted. But Jeremy knew where he was. They were on a major thoroughfare that didn’t change.
“Come on, guys! It’s on!” Jeremy shouted as they ran past James and Mel’s “place.” That’s all they had: places. No street names, no addresses, nothing but places. The natives didn’t need anything more than knowledge of a place’s existence to find it, but finding anything
was hard for the humans.
“Come on, we’ve got to go!” Jeremy yelled to the guys.
A glass-like amber sheet locked Mel and James into their space. Mel kicked at it with the bottom of his foot. The wall retracted before he touched it. He and his partner, James, slipped through. They took off after Jeremy.
“Trouble?” Jeremy called.
“Nah. It’s chicken. They’re all chicken.”
They jogged up the corridor. No real need to hurry at this point; the bells had tipped the golden world to their escape attempt. They couldn’t get away anyway; they were on an unidentified planet without the technology to get off it. The goldies would capture them no matter what they did. Their objective was to get their message out.
“Henry! Lena! We’re on!” Jeremy slapped the door of their tiny nook. She and Henry emerged and joined the others.
The hallway emptied into a huge lobby, the antechamber to the hall of the elders. Ribbed and folded like living tissue, the foyer’s walls seemed permeable. They weren’t, unless they wanted to be.
“Let us in,” he shouted at the portal. “We have to talk to the elders.”
A face appeared in the wall. It scanned them carefully. The door did not open.
Jeremy didn’t have the right mumbo jumbo to make it work. He’d seen Ellie’s “mother,” Belarian, unlock it. She had stood where he was and intoned in the goldies’ wordless way, Open, portal, we are here at the will of the elders. She had held up her hand with authority and the barrier admitted them. Of course, Belarian was a big cheese in the
He held his hand up to the door and made various gestures, ending by flipping it off. “We know you’re in there. What you’re doing is illegal. You brought us here under false pretenses.”
Jeremy had to leave, couldn’t stay a moment longer. The golden planet had been unbearable since he discovered the real reason the goldies had granted them sanctuary. Ellie’s first pregnancy had been long and hard. After a difficult delivery, the golden people took their baby without letting them so much as hold it. He and Ellie had never seen any of the thousands of children she had borne since. Ellie was a pet; he was her mate. They
had the same rights as dogs in a puppy mill. Once he realized that, every second on the planet was misery to him. Every instant.
He choked out his message to the elders. “We thought you had a free society. We thought we would be equal citizens. We didn’t know you brought us here to experiment on!
“Let us in! You know what I’m saying is true!” He didn’t feel afraid. The elders had confined or tranquilized him after his previous outbursts, but they’d never hurt him.
“We can’t stay here any more!” Jeremy slammed the door with the flats of both hands. “We’re United States citizens! This is unconstitutional!”
With that, he shot away from the portal, finding himself stuck to the wall on the far side of the foyer. The others were lined up next to him. They seemed unable to move.
The elders’ faces appeared in the doorway. Eight of them, all different heights and shades of gold. Tall and elegant, they moved like dancers. The tallest one, a doctor, spoke. He’d helped Ellie with her pregnancies and births.
What do you want? Jeremy heard the doctor’s silent message inside his head. The goldies didn’t talk. What they wanted to say just appeared in his mind, not even in words, either. It was all intuition. The humans had to put words to the aliens’ communications.
“We want to leave. We hate it here and you hate us. The experiment has failed. Let us go home. Earth must be free of radiation by now.”
Shimmering bells indicated the elders’ amusement. The experiment has failed? the doctor transmitted. You don’t know that. You don’t even know how long you’ve been our guests.
“Let us go back, please. We can’t live this way.”
The elders surveyed them, craning their necks, blinking with expressionless gold eyes.
Do you think you can live on Earth? The question came from all of them.
“Yes. With the survival packs I made. We’ll have the tools we need as long as the radiation is gone.”
The silent response: The packs will become very hot as you enter Earth’s atmosphere. They’ll kill you if they travel with you.
“You can put a protective coating on them . . . Or you can send them later.”
You can survive?
“With the packs, yes.”
We will send you now. We will send the others later, and your bags.
Jeremy found himself sitting in the middle of a wide grassy field. He looked around, amazed. Brilliant blue sky. Trees bordering a meadow. Something else: the crash of surf. He was on Earth! He took a deep breath. Good old air. The place looked gorgeous. The trees were huge. Obviously the danger from radiation had been over for hundreds of years.
He stood up and examined his surroundings. None of the buildings were left standing, but he was sure he was at the estate. His family had owned Piermont Manor for hundreds of years. His bones recognized the place; his blood felt at home. He had grown up here, as had his mom and countless ancestors.
The big house had stood in front of him. He could see it in his mind’s eye, lacy stonework and tall parapets. A fifty-thousand-square-foot confection built in the eighteenth century. His mother’s garden had sprawled on the mansion’s other side. The village, where the staff and workers had lived, had been behind the house and to the west. Everything was gone.
His eyes returned to the place where he thought the main house’s back door had been. He could almost see it. The door flying open and Ellie leaping out. Ellie and he had fallen in love on Earth’s last night. He had played his clarinet in the ballroom while she danced. They had spent their wedding night in his room, loving for the first time, both of them. The glow they had created seemed to illuminate the air. Jeremy shivered.
The next morning, they’d walked out the back door. Sam Baahuhd, the headman of the village, waited for them. They hugged him and said good-bye. Jeremy had felt warmer toward Sam that morning than he had felt his whole life. Then they ran across the meadow to the huge blob of light the goldies had sent to carry them away. It hovered by the cliff above the ocean. All of them ran, he and Ellie, Lena and Henry, and James and Mel. They ran away from nuclear Armageddon and toward a brilliant future in an alien world.
A cynical snort escaped him. How many years had passed since they made that run for freedom? How many years had they been prisoners?
Jeremy turned toward the sound of the surf. That was the Atlantic Ocean. He knew the sound of it and the smell of it. This was the estate. He was home. Jubilation grew inside of him. His chest swelled and a smile stretched across his face.
He’d been returned to Piermont Manor. He was Jeremy Bentham Piermont Edgarton, heir to all he saw. He was in the good ol’ USA, in the great state of Connecticut. They’d send the others and his stuff soon. Everything was A-OK.
Born in San Francisco, Sandy Nathan grew up in Silicon Valley’s competitive corporate culture. A full time writer since 1995, Sandy Nathan holds master’s degrees in economics and counseling. She has been an economist, negotiation coach, and businesswoman. The visionary part of her writing flows from her meditation practice and spiritual experience. A lifelong horsewoman, Sandy is a wife and mother of three grown children. She lives on their California horse ranch.
Lady Grace: A Thrilling Adventure Wrapped in the Embrace of Epic Love
It is Tales from Earth’s End, Book II
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