First Night: The Conflict Between Hope and Cynicism
Story by Dr. Lee Brazil
Foreword and Epilogue by Benjamin Brazil-Woodfords
Written by Ron Breazeale, Ph.D.
All Rights Reserved
Author’s Note: All characters and situations in this book are fictitious and any resemblance to persons (living or dead) is purely coincidental. References to actual persons (living or dead) are strictly for historical perspective and fictional narrative.
Statements or descriptions are information only. First Night is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice for which your healthcare professional is your best source. If you believe you may need or benefit from care, you should consult a psychologist or other licensed health/mental health professional.
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For information regarding permission, please write to: Permissions Department, The Reed Edwards Company, P.O. Box 434, Sturbridge, MA 01566
First Printing January, 2014
I’m going to tell you a story about the continual conflict in our world between cynicism and hope. It seems to me an appropriate time to do this. First Night is the sequel to Reaching Home. Like Reaching Home, it is set in the future. The decisions and choices that the characters make and their resilience determine the outcome of their story, just as the decisions and choices that the American people make in the days ahead will determine our fate and the fate of our world.
We are called to act with justice . . . to love tenderly . . . to serve one another, to walk humbly with God.
~ Methodist Hymn
This is a story I thought I had finished telling years ago. It is about my grandfather, Lee Brazil, a quiet and ordinary man in so many ways. He had, as the U.S. Census Bureau counts such things, a disability. He was born without a left hand. Yet despite his unassuming demeanor, he was driven to tell his story. You see, my grandfather never made peace with the South that he grew up in as a child, or with the nuclear industry he blamed for his disability, or with the prosthetic hook he wore throughout his life. I wrote the first part of his story in a book entitled Reaching Home. The story focused on his return to the South in the spring of 2013. At that time, he was working on his book about the nuclear industry. While there, an explosion occurred in one of the Department of Energy plants in Pine Grove, Tennessee. My poor grandfather was caught up in the ensuing disaster and implicated in what was mistakenly believed to be a terrorist plot. He somehow managed to escape from the detention center where he was being held, though soon after he was found. However, the FBI offered, and he accepted, a deal to help them foil a real terrorist plot and thus avoid prosecution himself. Much of this first story was about his journey back to his home in Maine and the unlikely allies he met along the way.
The story I am about to tell you is the conclusion of my grandfather’s story. Much of it is taken from a manuscript he prepared but never published. Some parts of it I find hard to believe. It focuses on his life after his return to Maine. It took a few years for him to put his life and his practice as a psychologist back together. The present story begins in mid-December of 2019. He and my grandmother were planning a trip to London just before the Christmas holidays, when he received an unexpected visit from federal agents, including an Agent Jennings, who he got to know very well while in detention. He was asked to pick up a package in London and deliver it to Paris.
With much hesitation, my grandfather agreed, as this was part of the deal he struck with the Bureau. Little did he know he would become caught up in a race to develop a supercomputer that could extend life and might open the entire universe to colonization. In the end, he was pulled into the conflict between those who would win the race at any cost and others who believe human beings lack the moral development to have such power.
The final chapter of my grandfather’s story begins when he was seventy-two, in Winterpool, a small town on the Maine coast, where he and my family had lived for many years. A town where unusual things seldom happened. That is, until the night of December 15, 2019.
Benjamin Brazil Woodfords
April 17, 2045