Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting some sneak previews of Dispersion, a few hundred words at a time.
The first thing you need to know about Dispersion is that we’re getting a brand new main character.
Welcome to Venice Beach, CA. 1974. And meet your protagonist, Ellis Claymore.
I don’t want to say too much about him now, other than that I’ve had a blast writing him.
And don’t worry, several of the characters you love from Recursion will be back as well. But one of the things I wanted to do with this series is have each book explore a different time period, setting, and character, while still following Molly’s larger story.
This will be your first taste of what that looks like.
Let me know what you think!
This is unedited in raw, first-draft form.
Walking down the alley adjacent to the bar, I follow it back to a set of stairs leading down to the beach. This late at night, cars, tourists, surfers and locals alike have all fled. I reach the edge of the water and pause, breathing in, tasting the salt on my tongue, and hearing the seagull cries and the roar of the surf. The moon is high in the sky, shining like a beacon through the haze-filled air. Beyond it, a handful of stars twinkle dimly against the slate-grey expanse. I turn, continuing down the beach toward home.
Vance is hurrying down the stairs toward me, Aleisha a few steps behind him. Vance waves for me to stop. “Ellis, hold up!”
“I didn’t want to disturb your moment.”
Vance pauses, looking surprised. “What? Oh—we were actually talking about you, Ellis.”
“Me? Why?” My voice sounds stupid to my own ears.
“There’s something I need to tell you,” he says, his voice soft. Confused, I turn to Aleisha.
“It’s about your story,” She says. There’s an edge to her voice that I don’t quite like.
I shake my head. “I made it up. I swear to god and all things holy, that was the biggest pile of shit I’ve ever concocted, and I’ve concocted some real piles of shit.”
“Come on, Ellis. You said that when you were eight you disappeared for a whole month with no memory of what happened during that time. I could call up your parents right now and find out if you were telling the truth. So, no, I don’t think you made it up.”
I shrug. “If you say so.”
Vance steps forward. “Listen, is there anything from your story that you left out.”
“Like what?” I ask.
“Did you,” he hesitates, looking around the beach. Aleisha makes an exasperated noise. She grabs my arm and leans forward, whispering into my ear, her breath on my face. “Did you go anywhere?”
Something drops from my cerebral cortex down my throat and into the depths of my bowels. I have memories of endless tests, a never-ending parade of doctors and therapists. They had all repeated the same thing. What you believe you saw wasn’t real. You didn’t travel anywhere. That is classic disassociation. You are repressing, Ellis. Blocking out the true memories with something else. Some fantasy.
A shudder runs through my body that has nothing to do with the chill in the air.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I say.
I try to step back, but Vance grabs my shoulder. “I’ve experienced missing time as well,” he says. “But when it happens to me, I go somewhere.”
I pull away, narrowing my eyes. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Let us show you,” he says.
“Show me what?” I ask.
Vance and Aleisha share a glance.
“There’s this girl,” Vance says. “Let’s just say that when you meet her, everything’s going to change.”