J. Grace Pennington has published four science fiction novels. They each have a unique bent to them, but this one is very different. Each book is a standalone, but as with any series, you get more of the story if you read them all in order. In Reversal Zone, the main character, Andi Lloyd, becomes the only one who can save the ship and crew. Can she do it in time?
As soon as they enter the cloud, its unstable effects wreak havoc on the ship. They’re flying blind. Every piece of equipment is malfunctioning. And every member of the crew is unable to think straight or act like themselves—except Andi.
Now she’s expected to guide them through the predicament with no previous command experience and no one to turn to for support. And with each passing hour, it becomes clear that if they don’t escape the cloud soon—they won’t escape it at all.
When I reached the bridge, the whiteness of the windows startled me. There wasn’t a cloudy quality to it anymore—other than a couple of faint bright spots, it was just pure, milky white.
I was also surprised to find the Captain slouching back in his chair. I’d never seen him sit like that before, except in total defeat.
“Second medical officer on the bridge.”
The Captain sat up and turned around. “Need something?”
I stared at him for a moment. As with Crash, his posture was odd and so was his tone. But I went on.
“There’s something I need to tell you.”
“All right, tell me.” He sat back again.
I looked around at the other bridge officers, who were all staring at me.
“Do you… want to go to your lounge or something?”
“No, go ahead, tell me.”
I hesitated. I didn’t love the idea of talking about the radialloy in front of people I wasn’t close with. But an order was an order—and they all knew about it, anyway.
“Tell me, tell me,” he insisted, waving his hand as if brushing away a speck of dust.
“Well… you remember the radialloy, sir…”
“You might need to speak up a little.”
I cleared my throat and went on. “The… the radialloy, sir. You remember that?”
“The… oh, right. Yes, of course.”
This wasn’t right. I stared into his eyes and they looked—dull. Flat. Not alert and intent as they usually were on a mission.
“I… well, my knee started hurting a little when we entered the cloud.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
The silence around us was so thick that every system beep or blip seemed to slice it. I sucked in a deep breath. He was sorry? That was all?
“I thought… the Doctor thought… the cloud might be making it hurt. I thought you might be able to figure something out about it… I…” I stopped, feeling a little queasy from the attention and awkwardness. All seven pairs of eyes were fixed on me.
“Harrison! Can’t you see the girl’s trying to help? Why don’t you sit up and pay some attention?”
I froze. That could not be who it sounded like.
It sounded like Guilders.
Guilders never raised his voice, he never called the Captain “Harrison” on the bridge, and he had never, ever called me “the girl.”
“Mr. Guilders, I realize that Andi is trying to help. I’m listening to her. That should satisfy you.” The words were calm, slow, and casual.
“Captain!” I took half a step forward, willing him to understand.
He blinked, looked at me, and sat up a bit straighter. “Hold on… wait…” He held up both hands, fingers stiffly separated. “Wait now. Something’s wrong.”
He looked over at Guilders, who lowered his bushy eyebrows and relaxed his shoulders slightly.
“Something… something isn’t right.” He stared at me again. “Andi. The cloud is making your knee hurt?” His eyes were alert now, but confusion furrowed his eyebrows.
“I… I think that…” He pressed a hand to his forehead. “Ugh. I think… that’s helpful. Thank…” He stood up and stumbled to one side a step.
“Captain?” Guilders jumped up but he also stumbled.
The Captain kept a hand pressed to his head. “I… Guilders, what’s…” He shook his head, hard, several times. “I can’t think, I don’t…”
The lights dimmed, then brightened, then dimmed again. I backed towards the door, watching as the Captain blinked and tapped his head with the palm of his hand.
“I… can’t… I don’t…”
The lights flickered again, and I looked around. Ralston and Yanendale both had their hands pressed against their heads, and August had gone even paler than usual. Whales and Mr. Orstin had both slumped back in their chairs and their eyelids were drooping.
“I…” the Captain said one last time, then he wavered and dropped to the floor.
“Captain!” I cried.
Guilders dropped next, falling into his chair and hitting his head on the console in front of him. I winced, and watched in shock as August collapsed, rolling out of his chair onto the floor. Yanendale slumped over his console, motionless, Ralston went limp and fell against the wall, and Whales and Orstin’s arms dropped and their eyes closed.
The lights dimmed, then flickered off, then red blinking lights illuminated everything, alarms sounded, and I was left on the bridge, alone, with seven unconscious men.
J. Grace Pennington has been telling stories since she could talk, and writing them down since age five. Now she lives in the great state of Texas, where she writes as much as adult life permits. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading good books, playing movie soundtracks on the piano, and looking up at the stars.