The photograph is gloomy, and the colours are fading. But it was twenty-five years ago. I'm sitting in the high-ceilinged inner courtyard of the Al-Rabie Hotel in Old Damascus, catching up my travel journal. My wife calls out from the first floor. I stop writing, look up and wave for the camera.
Kevin caught the news in a chat room on the Dark Web. NASA had detected an unidentified object on a collision course with Earth. He wasn't surprised NASA had kept the news secret from the public. It was further proof of a plan by scientists and elites, backed by billionaires, to create a new world order.
Should have done this years ago. But don't tell Pearl I said that because she's been on at me for ages to do a cruise. I kept telling her I didn't want to be stuck on a floating hotel with a bunch of strangers. I'd rather spend our holidays towing a caravan around Australia, where I know the score.
The trip app listed the hotel as an "Exotic Getaway" with "Splendid Views". After the year-long anxiety of COVID-19 and lockdowns, it looked perfect. I tapped BOOK on my phone, entered my credit card details, and texted Sally: "Pack the bags. We're off to the mountains for the weekend."
Forty-eight-year-old Corbett Thomas, a one-hit wonder of the 90s, now works as the lead sommelier at Napa Valley’s hippest restaurant. Set to become one of the few Master Sommeliers in the world, Corbett self-destructs during his final exam, ruining his last chance at recapturing the stardom of his youth.
Señora Gabriela is a respected storyteller. Her exact age is unknown, but it is years more than ninety. One warm afternoon, Señorita Margarita, a fourteen-year-old girl, spies on her. The girl knows it's wrong, but she wants to learn where Señora Gabriela hides her treasure chest of untold stories.