PG Forte: I found a new-to-me review recently for This Winter Heart that included a suggestion that I turn the story into a full novel. Ah, would that I could. Hopefully, the next best thing I can do it to write more in the same world. Here’s a sneak-peek at Lightning in a Bottle, the next book in the Winter Hearts series.
March came in like a lion. Storms battered the Eastern Pennsylvanian countryside for days. Rain fell practically without surcease. It flooded cellars, and drowned fields, and swelled even the laziest of rivers into muddy, white-frothed cascades. A wild wind raged and screamed, rattling doors and windows, tearing tiles off of rooves, and whipping the branches of venerable old trees as violently as though they were mere saplings.
Sheltered within a stand of such trees, stood a small, sturdy building. Unremarkable from the outside, it housed the workshop and laboratory of one of the greatest minds of the nineteenth century, the late inventor Dr. Charles Winter. Inside, illuminated by whatever meagre daylight made it through the rain-spattered skylights, forgotten machinery hummed quietly as it continued to carry out its appointed tasks; circulating the fluid in the large glass tank, regulating its temperature, filtering and replenishing as needed to maintain the proper balance of nutrients and medicaments.
Powered by hydroelectricity, and supplied with water from one of those selfsame, swollen rivers, the system was intended to run indefinitely with only the most minimal maintenance required. But the storm had other ideas.
Lightning arced across the sky. It splintered an overhanging branch, causing it to crash through the building’s roof. At the same time, electricity surged through the pipes. Wires melted on contact. Equipment shorted out and died in a blaze of sparks, and the excess power caused over a dozen Leyden jars to explode at once. The tank itself was briefly electrified, shocking its sole occupant into awareness and waking him from his chemically induced slumber.
Test Subject #M1.253.62 struggled to remain calm as he found himself catapulted into an agonizing world of jumbled sensations and incomprehensible blackness. Pain wracked his body as he gasped and retched in an effort to force air into his fluid-filled lungs. He was terrifyingly conscious of his heart beating within him; its odd, faltering syncopation was nothing at all like the strong, steady rhythm for which it had been designed.
Something had gone wrong.