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ARIA: Left Luggage
By Geoff Nelder

Today, Jack caught a bug at work. He catches a bus home. By the time he disembarks in the desert town of Rosamond, all the other passengers and the driver have fuzzy heads. Jack had caught an amnesia bug, and it’s infectious.

Imagine the ramifications:

The passengers arrive home, infecting family; some shop en route infecting everyone they meet. The bus driver receives more passengers giving them change for last week’s prices and today’s amnesia.  Some passengers work at the power plant, the water treatment works, the hospital, fire station. All shut down in weeks.

One man, Ryder Nape, realizes what’s going on, but can he persuade friends to barricade themselves in a secluded valley, hiding from the amnesia bug?


“Geoff Nelder inhabits Science Fiction the way other people inhabit their clothes.”
— Jon Courtenay Grimwood

“Geoff Nelder's ARIA has the right stuff. He makes us ask the most important question in science fiction--the one about the true limits of personal responsibility.”
—Brad Linaweaver

Robert J. Sawyer calls ARIA a “fascinating project.”

“ARIA has an intriguing premise, and is written in a very accessible style.”
—Mike Resnick
Cover art ©2012
by Andy Bigwood


ISBN: 978-1-905091-95-9 (print)
978-1-905091-96-6 (ebook)

280 pages / 100k words


Released:
1 Aug 2012

Genres: science fiction

Tags: first contact, medical, alien virus, apocalypse, survival
Geoff Nelder escaped from his roots in the south of England and now lives in the north. He would do most things for a laugh but had to pay the mortgage so he taught I.T. and Geography in the local High school. After thirty years in the education business, he nearly became good at it. A post-war baby boomer, he has post-grad researched and written about climatic change, ran computer clubs and was editor of a Computer User Group magazine for eleven years. Geoff lives in Chester with his long-suffering wife and has two grown-up children whose sense and high intelligence persist in being a mystery to him.

Visit Geoff's website - www.geoffnelder.com
Visit Geoff's blog - www.geoffnelder.wordpress.com

Wednesday 22 April 2015

 

The code didn’t open the staff door at the zoo. It buzzed back at him making Lester grit his already gnashing teeth until a voice-activated intercom asked him for his identity.

“You know who I am, Eddie. Just open the fucking gate.”

“It looks like you, Lester, but where’s the funny one-liner?”

“I’ll give you one when I see you. Have you changed the code?”

“Not since last week. What did you punch in?”

“Four nine three six.”

“Bloody hell, Lester, that’s last month. Try six two two three, and smile or it won’t open.”

He wrote it on an envelope he found in his pocket. Lester’s vision blurred as he changed into his work clothes. He shook his head but that brought on a dull headache. He’d boasted about his excellent health. A one-hundred percent attendance record. Wow, but today, he crashed into a chair in the staff canteen, sending a coffee across the table into Charles’ lap.

“Hey, Lester, watch my paternal potential with that hot drink!”

“I’m doing society a favour to stop more clones of you running around.” Others shut up in shock. Charles was easy going but had the respect of his staff.

“You’re due some holiday leave, Lester. Take a break. Those chimps are getting to you.”

Lester, elbows on the table, rubbed his head. He needed to do something for one of the chimpanzees in his care. The more he tried to remember, the sharper the pain stabbed his brain. He shouted bugger off to everyone, hung his head, and left.

He walked an hour into Chester’s city centre. Alongside the River Dee, he rented a boat, rowed upstream into the Cheshire countryside way beyond his hour’s hire period and idled the day away in a fuzz.

 

Thursday 23 April 2015

 

A quieter man, Lester arrived back at the staff entrance the next day. He found the envelope in his pocket and punched in the code.

He recognised old Brian and stroked his black and grey hairs, sharing affection. He looked at Isabella, another chimp, sat in the corner of the same enclosure, and an emotion tugged at him but in vain. Lester read her information board, which told him she’d come from London Zoo. He assumed some other keeper was responsible for her welfare, medication and emotional needs.

***

Isabella watched Lester with Brian and waited for some personal attention but didn’t get it. Every day, Lester cuddled her. Every day, he gave her extra titbits. Every day, he inserted something sharp in her arm. Every day, he made his utterances. He had stopped. Tears rolled down her cheeks.

***

Twenty miles away a large articulated truck stood idle next to a refrigerated warehouse. A loader should have driven his forklift, whistling while filling the truck each week with green bananas, apples, and bags of ground nuts. He hadn’t turned up. Neither had the office girl, whose job was to oblige the orders to be fulfilled and relief loaders to be ordered. The driver hadn’t arrived. The ingredients of the hungry animals’ a la carte menu started to rot.

 

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