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Robyn's Rock
cover art © Luke Ahearn

 

 

There are several fascinating stories in this collection, all written in Darrell's own inimitable style that have kept readers coming back for more over a twenty year span. This is a book to add to your collection, stories by a notable, award-winning author.

 

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Robyn's Rock

collection of short stories

 

Darrell Bain

 

 

Robyn's Rock

 

Retirement is good in a number of ways. You can get up when you want to or go to bed when you want to and there's no particular routine you have to follow if doesn't suit your fancy. Still, it has drawbacks. If you're not normally gregarious and don't attend church and also live in a rural area, then almost inevitably you're going to find yourself becoming more and more isolated, like we are here in East Texas. With our daughter Jennie working overseas and her own adult children, Robyn and Gretchen, living in different states, Amanda and I both began to feel the loneliness creeping in.

That's why company was always a welcome event for us, especially when the granddaughters visited. We loved to talk to them and listen to their dreams and aspirations. Their lives stretched endlessly before them, or so they thought. They had no conception of how fast the years would pass, or how soon they would be old folks just like us who wanted, even needed, company to brighten our routine and introduce a few changes into the same old routine.

The thing is, when we did have visitors, we almost always received a call in advance from whomever it was, telling us when they would arrive, how long they'd stay and so on. So it was a real surprise when the doorbell rang one day and our granddaughter Robyn stood there in the entrance, holding the handle of a suitcase that trailed behind her like a faithful little puppy. She was trying to smile at us but it wasn't going well. It looked forced, as if she was maybe hiding something. It didn't matter. We were glad to see her under any circumstances.

"Robyn!" Amada said, giving her a huge hug. "What a nice surprise! Come on in."

"Hi Grannie, hi Grandpa. I'm sorry I didn't call. I was in a hurry, sort of."

"It's okay, sweetheart," I said, giving her a hug in turn and taking her suitcase. I wheeled it on into the spare bedroom while Amanda busied herself in the kitchen, getting a fresh pot of coffee going, taking cookies from the freezer and popping them into the microwave and setting out cups and saucers. She didn't offer Robyn a soda. Unlike most kids of her generation, she preferred her caffeine in coffee, probably from her girlish imitation of us when she was younger.

When I returned, Robyn was still standing in the living room, a kind of blank expression on her face, as if just realizing she was here, but having no earthly idea why she'd come.

"Sit down, baby. You look tired," I said. I put my arm around her shoulder and led her over to the big couch, the one she always liked to curl up on and read when she was a child and we had her for a few days.

"I'm not really tired, Grandpa. In fact, I'm not really sure why I'm here, without even calling or anything. I just." A puzzled expression crossed her face, like someone waking from a vivid dream and realizing they're back in the real world.

"Maybe you needed a rest, child," Amanda said. "You're looking a little peaked."

Robyn nodded, embarrassed. "I know, Grannie. I haven't slept much the last couple of days. I kept waking up and thinking I needed to come see you and Grandpa."

I smiled. "Well, you're here now. Feel any better?"

"I guess," she said miserably. "It's just so crazy. Danny said I was acting silly."

"Danny. Is that your new fellow?"

"Uh-huh. I've been seeing him a couple of months. Living with him, really. I wanted him to come with me, but he wouldn't. He said I was acting like a hysterical woman."

I could see tears beginning to gather in her eyelashes, ready to overflow.

Robyn is a pretty girl, tall and slim with honey-colored hair. I thought back to my youth and couldn't imagine any young man not wanting to accompany her, or do whatever it took to make her happy.

"Justin, honey, would you pour the coffee for us?" Amanda asked.

"Huh? Oh, sure." I got the hint. Mandy wanted to say a few words in private to Robyn. Of course she'd tell me later but she was thoughtful that way, not wanting to embarrass the girl if it was heart trouble of some sort, the emotional kind.

I busied myself longer than I really needed to, emptying the grounds and washing the basket, then pouring the coffee. After that I got down a thermal carafe to keep it fresh in case anyone wanted more. Personally, I thought Robyn could use a drink more than anything else. I was tempted to add a dollop of brandy to her cup but resisted the impulse.

When I returned with the tray, Robyn was dry-eyed and it was my wife looking puzzled. It wasn't love problems, then. I set the tray down and passed out the cups and saucers of coffee.

Robyn hadn't taken more than a few sips when she stood up. She looked around the room, but her gaze stopped at the shelves on both sides of the big fireplace. They were cluttered with little knickknacks and keepsakes accumulated over the years. The shelves ran on around the room but the rest of them were occupied by books. She paid no attention to them, though ordinarily she made a bee-line to the books when she visited, wanting to see what was new since the last time.

"What is it, baby?" I asked. I was becoming concerned now. Something was clearly wrong. I hated to see it. I know grandparents aren't supposed to play favorites, but it had been hard to resist with Robyn. She loved to have us read to her as a little girl and the high point of any trip her parents made to see us was when we took her to our little local library. Gretchen, on the other hand, always preferred television.

"I don't know, Grandpa," she cried. "There's something." She took a few hesitant steps toward the fireplace shelves, then turned to the one on the right. She stepped closer. I had stood up shortly after she did and was in a position that let me see the surprise lighting up her eyes. Her lips parted as if she wanted to say something but was having trouble getting the words out. She pointed toward one of the shelves.

"What's this, grandpa?"

I came over so I could see what was interesting her. I grinned. "Don't you remember that rock, Robyn? It's yours."

She shook her head. "No, but . this is silly, Grandpa, but I think that's what I came here for, even if I don't remember it." She took a couple more baby steps until she was near enough to touch the rock, but she hesitated. She looked at me, silently appealing for an explanation.

I thought back. "I guess you were about six at the time, Robyn. Your Mom and Dad came for a visit just after we had done some repair work on our road. We used a whole truckload of gravel, most of it about the same size as that rock there. It was a pretty day and your Grannie and I decided to walk up to the mailbox. You wanted to come along, so naturally we let you. As we were walking, you stopped suddenly and bent over. You picked up that rock and showed it to us. It was kind of an unusual shape and color, so it was easy to see why you spotted it. Anyway, you put it in the pocket of your jeans and when we got back to the house, you asked us if we'd keep it for you." I smiled fondly at her and to myself at the memory. "So I took your rock and put it on the shelf there. Ever since then Grannie and I have called it 'Robyn's Rock', and we made sure it never got thrown away. It's been on the shelf all these years." Robyn had just celebrated her 25th birthday.

Right then was the beginning of all the events surrounding and related to that rock. Robyn's Rock.

She reached out and plucked it from the shelf. She held it in her hand, examining it as if seeing it for the first time. For her, it probably seemed like the first look at it, for she had obviously forgotten all about asking us to keep it for her. Apparently the rock hadn't forgotten her, though. It was striated with different colored material in a dark brown base, about an inch long and a half inch in its other dimensions, like an irregular rectangular block. Granite, I thought, except I had a vague impression that granite was all one color. It was perfectly smooth, too, like many of the stones in gravel that size are, a result of being polished against other stones and running water from ancient streams.

"Oh!" Robyn exclaimed. "Oh, no!" She put the rock back in its place and turned to us for comfort. She was clearly frightened by something she had suddenly thought of, or perhaps was visualizing for the first time.

We gathered her into our arms and made soothing noises until she had settled down and was ready to talk. I led her over to the couch. Amanda and I sat on each side of her and each of us held one of her hands while she explained what had happened.

"As soon as I picked up the rock, I had a . a vision, I guess you could call it. It's so real, though!"

"What was it, baby?" Amanda asked, concern tingeing her every word.

"Oh, it can't be, but it seems so true! There's going to be an earthquake in California day after tomorrow, right near Los Angeles where Danny and I live. That's what I saw in my mind when I picked up the rock. I'm still seeing it! It's like I know it's going to happen. And it's going to be awful!"

 

 

Robyn's Rock Copyright 2007. Darrell Bain. All rights reserved by the author. Please do not copy without permission.

 

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Author Bio

Darrell Bain is the author of more than sixty books, in many genres, running the gamut from humor to mystery and science fiction to non-fiction as well as several collections of his short stories. For the last several years he has concentrated on suspense and science fiction, with novels predominating.

Darrell served more than twelve years in the military and his two stints in Vietnam formed the basis for his first published novel, Medics Wild.

Recently he has written a complete trilogy, Apertures, a science fiction suspense/thriller of alternate worlds and Samantha's Talent, a novel about a girl whose ability to talk to animals constantly gets her into trouble before finally finding a fitting venue for her talent that will eventually take her off Earth.

He co-authored Human by Choice with Travis S. Taylor, PhD, a prominent scientist and popular science fiction novelist in his own right, then continued the Cresperian series with another scientist, Stephanie Osborn. Fans frequently comment on his originality and in some cases compare him favorably to Robert A. Heinlein. He is now concentrating on sequels for a number of his science fiction/adventure novels.

His most controversial work is almost certainly The Melanin Apocalypse, a novel featuring recent developments in virology and genetics. It depicts a White Supremacist group who use a tailored virus to attack people of color all over the world, and follows developments in the United States where a rumor that the Center For Disease Control developed and spread the virus among the black population. While rioting, death and martial law inflames the nation, vicious warfare of Whites versus Blacks ensues. The CDC must be defended against attacking mobs of Blacks while at the same time the scientists are working furiously to discover either a vaccine or a cure before the nation dissolves into anarchy.

He has a degree in Medical Technology and has spent most of his life attempting to stay abreast of scientific developments. His past profession and activities help lend verisimilitude to his speculative novels. In later years, he and his wife Betty owned a Choose and Cut Christmas tree farm. It and a succession of their dogs and cats formed the basis for much of his humorous work. He began writing about twenty years ago and has stayed very busy at it ever since. He retired ten years ago in order to write full time.

Darrell Bain is a well-known name in the ebook world and has won numerous awards, including three Eppies and two Dream Realm Awards. He was Fictionwise Author of the Year in 2005 for most ebook sales and best content in 2005. Another of his controversial novels, The Sex Gates, was selected as KnowBetter Book of the Year in 2003. All of his books are available in both print and ebook editions.

His web site is www.darrellbain.com.

 

Bain welcomes correspondence and may be contacted through his web site, www.darrellbain.com

TTB titles:
Alien Infection
Doggie Biscuit!
Hotline to Heaven
Laughing All the Way
Life on Santa Claus Lane
Medics Wild
Samantha's Talent with Robyn Pass
Shadow Worlds with Barbara M. Hodges
Space Trails
Strange Valley
Tales from a Christmas Tree Farm
The Focus Factor with Gerald Mills
The Melanin Apocalypse
Warp Point

Series
Human By Choice with Travis 'Doc' Taylor. Book 1 Cresperian series.
The Y Factor with Stephanie Osborn. Book 2 Cresperian series
The Cresperian Alliance with Stephanie Osborn. Book 3 Cresperian series.

Author web site.

 

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