The Awakening of Russell Henderson

I will be posting some excerpts from my latest novel, The Awakening of Russell Henderson, for the next while. Here is another. Stay tuned for next week’s.

She said, “I see you have a guitar in your van. Let’s play together sometime. Oh, right, I forgot, you’re heading back today. Really hate to have you leave before you even get really started. Why not give it a few more days and see what happens. You said you’re planning on going up to the Lakota Reservations. Let’s do that and head to Mount Rushmore at least. Come on, give it a go. I know a guy that moved back to the reservation. I have his number. If you don’t mind, I’d like to look him up.”

I thought for a moment. Maybe I could at least go that far, only another few days, then head back, “Okay, let’s go to Rosebud and, sure, call your friend. Then, maybe to Mount Rushmore. I don’t know what got into me last night. I just missed everybody and, and, well, you know.”

“It’s okay to be lonesome and miss your family. I understand. I’ve missed my mom and Frank since I’ve been out.”

“It’s not all that. There’s a lot more, just so much more. I don’t want to get into that right now. And please don’t ask, okay.”

The Ultimate Zoom

Here is a short Covid Story in which you might enjoy the ending. I did not break it into parts and it is 2500 words, so it will a quick read non-the-less.

After three months of singular confinement, a very lonely Max awakened from another dreamless night. The sun was peeking through the curtains, predicting another hot August day in Santa Fe. He yawned and stretched his limbs. His right hand came to rest on the warm, soft, smooth flesh of another body. 


It was the third year of the Covid – 19 pandemic. Medical science had been working overtime to find a solution to the ongoing pandemic. Most new vaccines proved to be ineffective. Most countries had the virus under control by strict directives to wear masks, practice social distancing, keep to small gatherings and, when needed, complete lockdowns. It was a delicate juggling act of keeping down cases and maintaining economies.

However, since the debacle of the 2020 election in the U. S., the re-elected Administration had continued its refusal to issue any directives for taking necessary precautions, as if things were completely pre-pandemic normal. If you were unlucky enough to get the disease, then, it was just too bad. Even if you did recover, you would still not be immune. The other option, of course, was dying. 

The economy was suffering. The Federal Government had no more borrowing capacity to meet its obligations. There was no more aid to the unemployed. Insurance companies had discontinued all health care coverage. Overloaded hospitals were going broke. Many parts of the country, especially large eastern cities, were in chaos.

Some state governments were doing their best, but safety measures were not taken seriously by a certain portion of the populace that thought their own freedoms trumped social responsibility, that the seriousness of the virus was a hoax and it would someday simply disappear.

Ever increasing case loads were causing hospitals to set up satellites in high schools or colleges, anywhere with large usable space. Health care workers were at a premium with many either having gotten the disease, or had died. Proper safety equipment was almost nonexistent. There was also the attrition of many health care personnel who were burned out and had quit.

The death toll in the U.S. was now almost two million. All foreign borders, including Mexico and Canada, had been closed to U.S. citizens


New Mexico, where Max lived, had another sudden rise in cases three months ago and a complete lockdown had been quickly issued by the governor. Thus, he was confined to his one bedroom adobe in old town, only able to go out a certain time once a week to shop for groceries and other necessities. He was also allowed time once a day for being outdoors for exercise, sun, and fresh air.

Fortunately he was still employed as a software developer and was able to work from home. He had not been out socially or on a date for a long time. For a thirty year old guy, things were tough.

Craving any sort of female social interaction, he had put his profile on a dating app, and had several responses. One in particular stood out, Heidi Carlson, a massage therapist from Taos. Max found her attractive with curly red hair and freckles that he loved. She was smart, interesting, and fun to talk with. All that and a beautiful smile which lit up her big green eyes.

She found Max, with his deep brown eyes and poorly self-trimmed shock of wavy brown hair, dreamy, as she told her best friend, Suzanne.

Max and Heidi now spent hours together on Zoom, talking and getting to know each other. Although, they had never physically met, they were beginning to fall in love. As time went on, their conversations started to become more and more intimate. They talked of how much they longed for each other, would like to share a night together, the possibilities of what might happen. It was driving them both crazy with desire. They were both frustrated with not knowing if and when that might ever happen, given the present state of the world.

One night, Max, in a particularly romantic mood, said, “I just want to jump into my computer and have Zoom transfer me into your bed so we could make love. I want you so much.”

“That’d be wonderful,” replied Heidi, “we could Zoom back and forth every night and spend all our nights being together. Maybe if we wish really, really hard?” she said with a giggle. “I bet I can wish harder.”

“Okay, bet’s on. Let’s wish really hard,” both laughing at the idea.

But never-the-less, they did wish, wished with all their hearts.


The warm flesh stirred and a soft purr came from a pile of curly red hair with a long slender neck on the pillow next to him. The head of red hair rolled towards him opening, eyes beginning to focus, “What the hell? Who the hell are you? What are you doing in my bed?”

Max’s eyes widened, “Your bed? This is my bed. Who’re you?” Then he saw, “Heidi? What? What are you doing here?”

She stared at him, “Max?” Then she looked around. “Where am I? How’d I get here? What’s going on?”

“How DID you get here? In my bed?”

“I don’t know. I went to bed last night right after we were on line.” She looked over and saw his open laptop. “I really, really wished I could be here with you, but … no, no, not possible. Ridiculous.” 

“What’s ridiculous?”

“That I came through your open laptop,” she started to laugh.

He looked at the open laptop, “Oh, I don’t think I ever disconnected from the Zoom link. No matter. Come here.” She slid across the bed into his embrace.

After an hour of insatiable love making, they finally came up for air. Heidi excused herself to go to the bathroom. Max went to the kitchen to put on some coffee and get them some toast and juice. On his way out, he closed his open laptop sitting on the desk by the kiva fireplace in his bedroom. When he returned he called out to her and got no response. He went to the bathroom door and knocked, “Are you okay in there?” No answer. He peeked in, the room was empty. He knew she had been there. Her nightgown still lay in a heap on the floor where it was tossed, but she was nowhere to be found. 

He sat down on the edge of the bed, feeling vertiginous and nauseous, his head spinning, nothing making sense, like the world had become some sort of time warp or open to some unknown portal through which she had traveled. She had disappeared, but she had been there. They had physically made love. He could still feel her, smell her, hear her. He tried to focus, but his vision was blurred, and he became aware of the pressure in his brain and his rapid heart rate. He took some deep breaths and got himself calmed down. 

He got his phone and called her. She answered in an instant, “Max! What’s going on? I thought I had this erotic dream. I dreamt I was with you and we made love. It was so real. Then I realized it was real, I was naked and didn’t have my nightgown. And then, well then my body confirmed what happened was real. It wasn’t a dream. What the hell’s happening?”

“I don’t know, but your nightgown is right here. You were here. I know you were. God, Heidi, I went to the kitchen to make us some toast when you went into the bathroom. I came back and you’d disappeared.” 

Then he glanced at his closed laptop and a thought crossed his mind, “Did you have your laptop in your bedroom last night? Did you close it?”

She hesitated a minute, “No, I just closed it now. Come to think of it, I don’t think I disconnected from the Zoom link either.”

They both went quiet for a long minute. Then simultaneously said, “No. That can’t be possible.”

Heidi said, “Open your laptop and I’ll open mine. Then let’s wish to be together really hard again and see what happens.”

“You’re kidding me. I know you somehow sneaked over here and then snuck out. Why?”

“Like yeah, right, I came all the way down from Taos in my nightgown and went home naked. I don’t think so. My car was repossessed a month ago so maybe I stole a car, or maybe a bike, and rode those seventy miles to your place and back. Really?! Come on. Let’s at least give it a try.”

“Okay, okay. Zoom is a neat program, but I don’t think it has the capacity to transport bodies like in Star Trek, like ‘Beam me over to Max’s house, Zoom.”

“Then you just fucking explain it, smart ass.”

“I’m sorry I was sarcastic. I can’t explain it.”

“Then humor me. Let’s try my suggestion. What can go wrong? So it doesn’t work. You said you meditate. Then let’s meditate together with focus on this. Okay? Let’s at least try.”

“Okay, but let me get dressed first. I don’t want to travel through some weird continuum in my skivvies. Give me a moment.”

“Good idea, I better get dressed too.”

Five minutes later, each sat in front of their respective laptops. Max had sent her a link. They were connected. They both closed their eyes and began to meditate. Time passed. Max was in a state between awake and dozing. He opened his eyes and saw he was sitting next to Heidi who was still quietly meditating.

Holy crap. This seriously cannot be happening, he thought.

He could barely whisper, “Heidi? Heidi. I think I’m here at your place this time.”

She blinked awake, “Oh my god! It worked! It really worked!” She got up and gave him a big hug. “It has to be something to do with the theory of Quantum Mechanics.”

“Mechanics? What are you talking about? Mechanics? Like with cars?”

“No, silly, physics, particle physics, about how we observe the subatomic world which can be particles or light depending on the observer, how particles can be known to react across space and time. Basically it comes down to the fact that everything, us included, is made up of atoms which are made up of subatomic particles. We are all simply energy. What we observe as being solid, like what we are led to believe, is really all light waves or particles. So, theoretically, there’s no reason our bodies, made up of light energy, couldn’t simply transfer across time or space, or maybe the internet, as energy. It’s all very hard to explain and I don’t think I’m doing a very good job of it.”

Max just stared at her for a long time while she was searching for more and a better explanation. He said, “What the hell are you talking about? How do you know this shit?”

“I’m sorry, I’m embarrassed I never told you. I was working on my PhD in Physics up until two years ago.”

“But you said you were a massage therapist.”

“I know, I know. I went to massage school right out of high school, then put myself through college. Okay, I’m smart, really smart. I graduated college in three years then began graduate studies. I was working on my PhD dissertation when I crashed, both mentally and emotionally. I needed a break, so I quit and moved to Taos and set up my massage practice which is now closed because of the pandemic. I’m flat broke and living in this old motel room by the week and about to be evicted.”

Max looked around, stunned at the shabby room she was living in.

“Okay, if what you say is true, and I have no idea what you’re talking about, there’s no reason you couldn’t come to my place and live with me. I have enough income for both of us. Pack what you need and I’ll hang on to it when you close your computer and maybe, if all this works like you think, I’ll end up back at my place with your stuff. Then we can do this again with you coming to my place. Put your computer on your lap and maybe everything will transmit. What do you think?”

She thought for a moment, “It’s worth a try. So far, this has worked. Let’s.” 

She retrieved a tattered suitcase and threw her few belongings in. “This is all I have now after selling what I could to pay rent and buy food.”

He sat and put the suitcase on his lap. She closed the laptop and, right before her eyes, he seemed to fade into a gaseous state of light and then … he was gone.

Fucking amazing. It’s all true, she thought. Schrödinger was right.

A half an hour later, she appeared in Max’s living room holding tightly to her laptop. 

She said, “Now let’s carefully close the link absolutely simultaneously. Let’s not take any chances.”

The link was broken. They jumped into each other’s arms and hugged for a long time. He noticed she was crying, “Are you okay?”

“More than okay. These are tears of pure joy. Kiss me.”


A year later, the epidemic was beginning to be under control with  people realizing at long last that protective measures truly did work. Most everyone had now become more socially responsible. A new vaccine had been developed and was, at last, proving to be effective.

Heidi and Max were happily settled into a life together in their apartment close to Stanford University where Heidi had resumed her doctoral pursuit. 

Max was still working remotely with software development. He had Zoom meetings at least twice a week, making doubly sure to cut the link after any such meeting. Couldn’t be too safe.

 Heidi was following up their experience with new research and  dissertation, entitled, “Transference of Matter Through Time, Space, and the Internet”. She was basing it on the fact that she, Max, and her possessions had traveled through time and space and had replicated it four times. Scientists at CERN in Switzerland had heard of her research and were greatly interested with her discovery and all the possibilities her research might bring. They had invited her to come and discuss her findings along with wanting her to participate in the next experiment with the Hadron Collider in two months. She jokingly considered which mode of travel she would use, air travel or with a Zoom meeting.

The Awakening of Russell Henderson

I will be posting some excerpts from my latest novel, The Awakening of Russell Henderson, for the next while. Here is another. Stay tuned for next week’s.

There was a campground by the Niobrara River where I planned to spend the night. We were coming to the turn off and told her I was stopping to camp for the night. Did she want to get out and hitch into Valentine, about fifteen miles down the road. She was good to camp there as well and had what she needed. We went in, found some places to set up our camps, paid our fees and settled in. It was shaded with new spring leaves on the trees.  The river flowed a hundred or so feet from where we set our camp. It was early in the season: we were the only ones there.

She got out, grabbed her pack and guitar from the back and walked over to a site she chose and set up her camp. I raised the camper top, got out what I would cook for dinner. I walked over to the river. It looked inviting. I went to the Westy and changed into my swim trunks, then went back to the river and went in, letting the cool water wash over me, cleansing the day’s driving from my body and mind. I looked down the river and saw her naked body slide into the water. I looked away. I didn’t want to let her know I saw her. I didn’t want her to think I was spying on her. I don’t know if she saw me or not. What I saw of her was her tanned body, quite fit and strong. 

A Man Called Thomas (Final)

“Are you home,” Sue asked.

“We’re heading there now after getting some dog food.”

Sue said, “We’ll head your way. We need to talk.”

Sara called her parents in Ohio. There was no answer and she left a message to call as soon as they could. She called Andy’s parents. Again no answer. Now she was getting really frightened. She called her old law office. It was as if no one went to work that day.

Twenty minutes later Sue and her wife, Ella came in with a cloud of dust. Sara saw them coming and ran out to meet them.

Ella jumped out, “We drove through town. You’re right. It’s deserted. Where’d every one go?”

“Sara, now almost hysterical, replied, “I just called everyone I know from out east and no one answered.”

Andy came running out, “I just checked online news and theres no updates for today. I checked on my cell and there’s only yesterday’s news. What the hell’s going on?”

They went in the house and sat looking at each other with blank frightened stares. There was a knock at the door. Andy went to open it, finding a man dressed in a dark suit and tie had somehow appeared. There was a strange ethereal glow about him.

“May I come in?” he asked, appearing to choose these words of a simple question carefully.

Wondering what anyone was doing out here dressed like this and how he had gotten there, Andy invited him in.

“Greetings everyone,” the man said slowly and shyly, like he was practicing new words he had just learned. “I apologize for intruding. I must explain some things you may be finding . . . strange?

“You may call me Thomas. I am not from here. I am from far away. There is no reason to . . . to be, to be frightened. I think that is correct?”

Andy was still standing, the others sat staring at this well dressed stranger who had this aura about him.

“Where are you from then,” asked Sue. “Why are you glowing?”

Thomas smiled faintly at that, When I say I am not from here, I mean I am not of this planet, or even this galaxy you call the Milky Way. Is that right? The Milky Way?”

They all nodded with their eyes getting bigger at the story they were hearing.

“This is not my normal form. My normal form you would not understand. I assumed this human form only two days ago and am still getting used it. Please excuse my clumsiness.” He smiled which appeared to require some work on his part and then continued, “I and many others have come here to save this planet. All but a few residents have been removed. We left select ones like you who truly care for this planet. This planet you call Earth is a very important part of the universe and it is dying due to the greed, selfishness and not caring of so many. They are ones who have been removed. They have not been harmed but have been relocated to various other worlds for retraining.

He continued, sounding like this was now well rehearsed, “Earth, as you call it, was to be a planet of choice where residents were to have the freedom to determine who they would partner with, ways they would earn livings, grow in spirit, ways to live gently on this planet that offered so much. Regretfully we did not realize so many would fall into a pattern of greed, selfishness, fear, and false judgement, killing and war, religious ideology. It was a great mistake on our part. We have waited hoping the inhabitants would change. We could not wait any longer as too many people were killing this once beautiful and bountiful place.

“Thank you for listening so well. I only learned your language two of your earth days ago. It is getting better, do you agree?” he said with an easier wider smile.

All were sitting in rapt attention nodded vigorously with their eyes wide with fear and wonder. 

The man called Thomas continued, “I am here to help in any manner you wish. There are several other families in this valley pod. Be assured, you are not alone. There are many others who were chosen to remain, but only those who care for this earth planet. Our task is to help you all nurture and restore it. Are you up for this task?”

Again, all nodded vigorously. Sara then asked, “But our parents, families and friends. What will happen to them? Is this like the end of the world or something?”

“No, it is not the end, but a new beginning. Some like your parents will be returned in due course. But many will never be allowed to return so the planet may recover and purify itself. There were too many people, too many who had no regard for the earth and continued to overpopulate, pollute, and abuse the planet. Much will depend on their retraining and acceptance to changing their lives. No one will suffer harm or injury and will reside for retraining somewhere in the many places in the many universes where humans can live.”

“Many universes?” asked Sue. “Many? How many are there?”

“There are an infinite amount of, what you call, universes. There is no end, some old, some new, constantly dying and regenerating like all life. It is much to grasp. But I must go now. I must talk with others.”

“Will we see you again? What should we do?” asked a frightened Ella.

The man called Thomas answered, “I shall return soon and often to help guide you. You should go on as normal. Grow food. Tend to your lives. You are safe from any harm. We have left many new thinkers to help with new technologies that, along with our guidance, will be free of the vested interests of the past so you may soon thrive without the pollution of old technologies. We will maintain your infrastructure as we can but you will most likely not need much of it very soon as it will be quickly made obsolete. I will be back often and work with you to create a new paradigm. Do not worry. I shall return soon after I visit some others.”

With that, the man called Thomas walked out the door. Andy followed, watched him disappear into a bright flash of light. “He’s gone. just like that. Poof,” he said slowly.

Ella was softly crying in Sue’s arms.  Sara was sitting in stunned silence.

Sara said flatly, “So this is it, the way the world ends as we know it, with a new beginning. It all ends with a new beginning . . . a new . . . beginning.”