In Traveler, Jessa meets Finn, a guy who stepped through a mirror from another reality. He doesn’t talk much about his past, but when he finally decides to open up, Jessa learns a little more about the world he came from.
“It all happened when I was a little kid,” he says, “but my Mom used to tell me about what it was like before. It sounded a lot like your life.”
“And now?” I’m almost afraid to ask.
“Widespread starvation and not a lot of natural resources. The government fell to a military coup, which led to a couple of short-lived wars in a battle for usable land that threw spots all over the world into anarchy. Now the few people that are left are running. Like me.”
“From each other.” Finn stops a moment. “There’s no food where I live, Jessa. No game, no plants, not even many living trees. It’s all gone. The rest of the globe didn’t fare much better, so aid has been extremely limited and without any kind of widespread distribution. In a lot of places, humans are the only meat left.”
I put my hand to my mouth. “That’s horrible.”
“Now you know why I’d rather be here, with you,” he explains. “And I never existed in your reality, so I’m not transferring anyone to a certain death when I come over.”
“You never existed here? Really?”
“Not as far as I can tell. There’s no record of me or anyone in my family anywhere in your reality that I’ve found.”
We walk in silence for a while longer while my mind processes everything he just told me.
“No trees?” I ask. “At all?”
“Not many. A lot of the streams and creeks that fed their roots are gone. There were so many fires, too – they raged out of control with no manpower to fight them.” He stops suddenly, detouring us around a stand of scrub-brush, barely visible in the dark.
“I remember one big oak I found once,” he continues. “It was on the bank of a river, so it was still alive. And green.” His voice is wistful. “I hadn’t seen green in a long, long time, so it was amazing when I saw it.”
“Have you been back?”
“Back there? No way.” His voice was emphatic.
“So you’ve never gone back home,” I say. That just seems…impossibly sad somehow.
“It’s not home,” he says flatly. “Home is where your family is. There’s no one there for me anymore.”
Finn hasn’t had an easy time of it, and you’ll learn more about his world and Jessa’s place in it when Traveler breaks early 2017!