Book Excerpt: Flight of the Condor

Below is an excerpt from Flight of the Condor, a novel that takes place in a dystopian future where much of the population is crammed into small apartments in 100-story buildings, known as towers.

In this excerpt, which comes early in the book, Gabby introduces her boyfriend Jed to her family. Jed’s family is well below hers in terms of social standing and lives in a much smaller apartment.  You will note that due to the plague years (I wrote this while on quarantine due to COVID-19) no one shakes hands; they bow instead.

Likewise, the formality the characters display is intentional. It developed in their society to give inhabitants the illusion of personal space in a crowded state.

Please keep in mind that this is only a small part of a much larger work-in-progress and not a short story. The first draft of this novel is only about 70 percent complete. Consider this your sneak peek, and feel free to leave any feedback or comments below.

Flight of the Condor by Mitchell Cane
Flight of the Condor by Mitchell Cane

Gabby let go of his hand, straightened her shirt so the buttons aligned, and palmed the lock, opening the door. Her mother was waiting for them and arose gracefully, bowing slightly. “Daughter, welcome home. What good timing.”

Gabby bowed in return. “Thank you, mother. Please allow me to introduce my boyfriend, Jedediah Johnson.” Jed felt a grin cracking his face at the word “boyfriend,” so he held his bow a little longer than necessary while he regained control.

“Mr. Johnson, it is a pleasure to meet you at last. Gabriella has mentioned you several times. Please come in and be welcome in our home.”

“Thank you, ma’am,” he said, stepping over the threshold and presenting her with a small, carefully wrapped box. “A small token of my appreciation of your invitation.” She accepted the present with a nod and a slight smile.

He saw two younger children peeking at him through a doorway. Their mother beckoned them into the room.

“These are the twins, Jessica and Joseph. Children, this is Mr. Johnson, who will be our guest tonight.

“Please call me Jed,” he told them.

There was a steamer near the door. Gabby opened it and used a pair of tongs to hand a hot towel to Jed. A common cleansing ritual developed during the plague years, Jed thoroughly wiped his hands, enjoying the smell of citrus while making sure to get the backs of them as well as in between his fingers. Then he looked for a place to put his shoes. Most families had a row of shoes just inside the door. Gabby opened a closet door, answering his unasked question, and joined him in slipping hers off.

“Mother, do I have time show Jed my studio before the lighting of the candles?”

“Yes dear, at least ten minutes. I’ll send one of the kids to fetch you when your father is ready.”

But Jed was already staring at a canvas on the wall. “Isn’t that The Umbrellas by Renoir?” he asked. Then he realized that the girl in the foreground was a younger version of Gabriella. “Oh! A self-portrait,” he breathed. He approached closer and peered at it before turning towards Gabby in amazement. “You even duplicated his brush strokes. You never said you were an impressionist.”

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