June 12, 2023

Impact! A Sci-Fi Trilogy by C.K. Westbrook

Impact! A Sci-Fi Trilogy by C.K. Westbrook

We conclude “The Impact Series” Trilogy with volume 3, “The Judgment”

How we got here: We recently attended a book fair where we met the author, C.K. Westbrook, and were intrigued by “The Impact Series,” a science fiction trilogy: The Shooting, The Collision, and The Judgment. In each volume the story, told a day at a time, is that of Kate Stellute, who works for the United States Space Force in the near future and while out for a run is abducted by an alien. She becomes its media connection to the people of earth, who are warned they must change their ways or be obliterated. The first two books explore events that raise the stakes for human life on planet earth. Now, in this the book, we learn just what we have to ante up to get out of this predicament.

As the author writes:

Kate thought the world was finally safe from Rex and the powerful, terrifying others – but was it? 

Working together, Kate Stellute, Sinclair Jones, a rogue Space Force agent named Jo-Ellen, and “Rex,” the alien, successfully implement a risky plan to make space safer for everyone and everything. Kate hoped the others would accept the results and stay away. But when she learns the details of why Rex caused a global mass shooting, she realizes their plan may not have worked after all.

Rex suggests a way to protect Kate and her loved ones if the others decide to destroy what is left of humankind, but can Kate trust the violent alien that has already killed millions of people? If she wants to prevent more violence, Kate will need a new plan and new allies if she is to find a way to save the human race from more extraterrestrial wrath.


For the past two Tuesdays we’ve published excerpts from the first two volumes of The Impact Trilogy, The Shooting and The Collision. This week we conclude with the third volume, The Judgment. Please let us know how you like C.K.’s story by sharing your thoughts in the Comments section below.


Book 3: The Judgment

Fifty-Nine Days After the Shooing


“Oh my God, Rex, I’m so sorry,” Kate said, putting her hands over her mouth in surprise. VIPs in his world had died in the collision that brought Rex and his wrath to Earth, but everything had become more complicated with the new knowledge that his parents were those very VIPs.

“I love my mom so much; I can’t imagine the pain if I lost her. I am so, so sorry,” Kate brushed away the fat tears that started to pour out of her eyes. “I wish I could give you a hug.”

“It’s okay, Kate. We don’t experience comfort from touch the way you do,” Rex slowly replied.

Kate was in the white room, where the walls, floor, and ceiling were all white, making it hard to tell how large the room was. Kate stared at the human-sized orange cat across the room and nodded. Oh right, that’s just some kind of avatar anyway. I don’t know where Rex is. Or what he is.

She wiped her tears with her shirt. She patted her running shorts, wishing she had a tissue with her. She briefly considered using her crumpled pandemic running mask to blow her nose. The conversation was so shocking that Kate did not notice the temperature change. Or, perhaps, she had been in the white room so often, that her body regulated itself faster. She was warm enough to remain standing comfortably, but the wave of empathetic pain was so heavy she sat back down on the floor, wrapping her arms around her knees.

“Would you please tell me what happened? What exactly caused the collision? You keep saying the dangerous pollution, and I understand that humans have left extremely dangerous debris all over space, but what exactly happened to your parents?” Kate asked.

Just a few moments ago, Kate was running down the beach looking for dolphins and feeling almost euphoric because they had thwarted new, additional global violence. The sky was full of clouds and explosions of beautiful color as the sun rose above the Atlantic Ocean. Crabs scampered about and birds flew out of her path when she got too close. Everything seemed calm and normal.

It was hard to imagine what Rex and the others would do next, after making hundreds of millions of gun owners shoot themselves as punishment for polluting space. But working together, she, Sinclair, Jo-Ellen, and Rex had cleaned-up space, making it safe for humans and others. Now she sat, hugging herself to keep from shaking. And not shaking from the cold, but heartbreaking sadness and fear of what Rex would say next.

How long would our alliance last?

A few minutes passed and then an image appeared. Kate stood to get a closer look. It showed Earth and millions of white lights, which surrounded the planet and expanded out into space.

“Are those lights? Or are they stars?” Kate asked confused. “It can’t be debris! With your help, it’s been pulverized. We got rid of the garbage! Space should be black and clean again. Right?” Her voice rose in disbelief and frustration.

“Yes, Kate. The debris was removed. This is what Earth looked like when my parents passed by. So much debris. No other planet has surrounded itself with pollution. They knew to be careful, of course. We are all familiar with cometary and asteroidal material and other natural substances. My parents must have been distracted by a tool bag that nearly hit a dead satellite. It’s all recorded in the energy file. Their last words. Their last thoughts. They were just very confused by the enormous amount of garbage. They were discussing it—trying to figure out why. They thought maybe Earth had some trouble. Maybe it was in distress. The debris was not moving like the meteorite particles that exist throughout the universe,” Rex said in his slow manner.

Kate thought of her mother, her sense of adventure, curiosity, and thoughtfulness. How incredibly painful it would be to relive the final moments of one’s parents’ lives, especially when it ended in such a shocking way.

No wonder Rex has a vested interest in cleaning up the debris. He doesn’t want others to suffer the same loss he has.

After a long pause, Rex continued. “Cautiously, my parents moved closer. Then the two tiny pieces hit each other, causing a chain reaction involving some of the other 128 million pieces of debris. Enormous damage was caused by something smaller than one centimeter in diameter. One piece hit their transport at 18,000 miles per hour. The impact destabilized their craft and caused an explosion. They were ejected into space with damaged gear, causing them to expire. It happened very fast.” Rex spoke slowly and calmly. “I determined that one of the tiny pieces was human waste—frozen urine—that hit a tiny shard of glass from a previous collision.”

Another tear ran down Kate’s cheek. “I’m so, so sorry, Rex. I know it sounds trite but I don’t know what else to say,” she said. “I wish it hadn’t happened. I wish they were alive. I wish humans weren’t so careless.”

“As do I,” Rex said after a couple of silent minutes had passed.

A sudden memory flashed across Kate’s mind. She and Sinclair were driving from Virginia to Texas before they changed course after learning that the collision debris was in Florida. She recalled the terror and disbelief she felt watching a Tesla fall from the sky and bounce into an adjacent field, very close to the highway they were driving on. 

“Okay. Now I understand the toolkit on Jack’s car. But why did the Tesla fall out of the sky near me and Sinclair? Of all the garbage up there, why the Tesla?” Kate asked.

“You and Sinclair were in a car. And you like Teslas,” Rex replied.

Kate did not really understand but moved on. There were more important things to discuss and understand. “And the others are coming to check on you? To make sure you’re okay?” 

“I came to Earth fast. I saw and understood what happened to my parents. I saw it in their energy. I witnessed the collision. I witnessed the ejection. But like them, I could not understand why there was so much debris—so much dangerous garbage floating around your planet. It was confusing to watch humans send ships and astronauts into a minefield they created. I wondered if your astronauts were being punished. Was there a war? Was there a catastrophic crisis? It took me a long time to understand,” Rex droned.

“What did you understand?” Kate asked as a feeling of dread washed over her.

“Earth was not being attacked. There was no significant war in your world that would explain a desperate and potentially deadly exit from the planet,” Rex explained.

“No. There is not.” Kate said sadly, though, at times, the pandemic felt like a world war. And she and Kyle had been terrified that the narcissistic President would push the country into one.

“I watched and I learned. Humans are extremely selfish and many are vastly stupid. They lack imagination and creativity. Every single action has a reaction. Every choice has a consequence. They are presented with this information many times each day but they reject it. It is the strangest behavior I have seen throughout my travels,” Rex said.

Kate encountered frustration over this all the time. “Yep. It’s called cognitive dissonance or just self-delusion. And I would not say they lack imagination; they just use it wrong. Humans are quite capable of blaming other people for their garbage, pollution, and other problems. They blame corporations or the government or another race, sex, nationality, state, political party, or their parents. They create bad guys and elaborate conspiracies in their minds. They do mental calisthenics to ensure they don’t have to take any personal responsibility. And it’s ubiquitous —in every country, every town.” Kate said quietly, feeling more depressed and defeated. She sat down on the floor, tired from the weight of all the sadness.

Humans are terrible parasites, in so many ways. I wonder if he realizes we have polluted Earth far more than space. We have spread our deadly garbage everywhere, in cities, forests, lagoons, rivers, the deepest parts of the oceans, the tallest mountains, jungles, deserts, and prairies. Everywhere.

Kate laid on her back, resting her head on her hands, and stared up at the image of Earth surrounded by millions of pretty little lights which was really deadly garbage. She wanted to show Rex that she would stay as long as he would let her. She did not want him to send her back until she understood everything. She had been running on the beach when he snatched her up, so neither her mom nor Sinclair would miss her anytime soon.

Rex replayed the collision over and over. As Kate watched, she realized the playback had no sound because the collision would not have made a sound.

“Space seems so quiet,” Kate said, watching the slow-motion collision on repeat. “I feel like it should sound something like that kilonova in 2017. That really started it, I think. I still don’t like to think about it because I work in the space industry. Even though I work for the government and not corporate space, I’m very aware that I’m part of the problem.” 

“Started what?” Rex asked.

“The modern space race. The new billionaire boy corporate space race. When those neutron stars collided and merged or created a black hole, no one knows for sure exactly what they became, but we do know what they released; gold, platinum, and other minerals. I think that is what space exploration is really all about now. That, and getting rich people to a safe planet when they are done trashing this one,” Kate said through clenched teeth, anger displacing her sadness.

“Yes. I studied Earth and realized there was no particular war or a specific and immediate threat to its existence. Just the desire to consume and discard. Everywhere, from almost all humans all over the planet. And they take pleasure in violence and death. A confusing species. A perplexing planet,” Rex said.

Kate nodded sadly. Okay, he does understand the scope of the problem. “Don’t blame the planet. Earth is just as much a victim here as you are. The Earth has provided everything for us: food, water, shelter, sun, tulips, dolphins, buffalo—”

“—oceans, waterfalls, moss, icebergs, dragonflies, lions, volcanoes, moose, and roses,” Rex finished. “It’s a beautiful planet. I have never seen anything like it. The colorful energy explodes everywhere.”

“And humans trash it. It’s never enough. They must consume more and more and more. Greed is a disease. The poor think only the rich are greedy and the rich think the same of the poor. The middle class thinks of themselves as harmless victims of the system. The American obsession with consumption has spread globally,” Kate said.

This is not helping. I’m just making myself angry.

Kate suddenly sat up and looked at Rex. He flicked his tail. “Tell me about your parents. Why were they here?” Kate asked.

“That does not matter now,” Rex murmured. 

“What do you mean? Just because they died? Of course they matter! I would love to hear about them. What was their work? Why were they such beloved leaders? Were they fun parents? I want to hear everything,” Kate said.

Kate wished Sinclair was with her. Sinclair had looked for life beyond Earth his whole life. The collision, the mass shooting, and the killing of hundreds of millions of people were such tragic ways to learn his research was right. I really wish he was here with me to learn why it all happened. “Please tell me about them. What were they doing so close to Earth?”

Rex was quiet for a long time, longer than his usual long pauses.

It occurred to Kate that she was being insensitive. “I’m sorry, Rex. If you don’t want to talk about them, I understand. But sometimes talking about loss does help. It helped me when my dad died.” 

“I took several months to understand. I decided to create what you refer to as the mass shooting because it did not hurt nature nor Earth. I decided that humans destroying themselves with their own weapons was the fairest punishment,” Rex said slowly.

A chill ran down Kate’s spine and she shivered.

“Yes. I mean, 70,000,000 dead Americans and hundreds of millions worldwide was very brutal, but I guess I kind of understand. Karma. Live by the gun, die by the gun,” Kate said hesitantly. Yvette’s—Sinclair’s deceased wife’s—face flashed in her mind. “Of course, there are many suffering from losing loved ones, so you kind of punished everyone,” Kate added, remembering Sinclair’s and Karisma’s devastated faces.

“Humans killed my kind with their carelessness, their selfishness—I responded in kind,” Rex said, faster than normal.

Fear pitted her stomach. Is he getting angry?

“They won’t spend time learning or understanding. They may not accept my work. They might want more violence. They will be here soon,” Rex continued in the fastest cadence Kate had ever heard him use.

“Wait. What? Who? How soon?” Kate had been so caught up with the conversation she forgot why Rex pulled her up in the first place: to tell her if their plan had worked. If the leaders of his world were still coming, they were still pissed off. The plan had failed.

“Soon,” Rex repeated. “They are moving fast.”

“Let me guess, in five days?” Kate snarled.

Rex said nothing for a minute.

“What’s the worst-case scenario? What are they capable of doing? That is, if they don’t accept the enormous death and pain and suffering you have caused and the incredible clean-up job we have accomplished together,” Kate said.

“Maybe they will accept it,” Rex conceded.

Kate stood up and began to pace. The video image of the collision disappeared.

Finally, she sighed. “What if they don’t? What are they capable of doing to us?”

Rex did not speak for a long time. 

I really wish Sinclair was here! Sinclair had been pulled into this white room once before. Rex had pulled them both up when they were running away from the cops and Space Force at Kennedy Space Center. That was just over a week ago, but it felt much longer because so much had happened since then. She was used to Rex’s slow way of speaking and had learned to be patient, but Sinclair was better at coming up with technical solutions. She’d come to rely heavily on her astrophysicist neighbor over the last six turbulent weeks.

 “You need to gather Sinclair and your mom and whomever else you value. I can bring them up to safety before the violence resumes. Let me know who you want to bring with you. I will be ready,” Rex said.

“What the hell? Like a list? Like you will bring us up here or we will die? How much time? When? Why?” Kate asked, her voice growing louder with each question. Did she have minutes, hours, days? How wide of a net could she cast?

The floor started to shake.

“No, Rex! Wait! Please! I need to know more!” Kate shouted, just before landing in a superhero posture on the soft, hot sand where he’d found her.


Kate yelled skyward, stomping up and down the beach. “Please! Bring me back up! Keep talking to me!” Sweat dripped off her brow. Between the perspiration, the tears, and the hot Florida sun, her mask was soaked. What had Rex meant by gathering the people close to her? What the hell was going to happen? She needed more information. Frantic, she started to run at a pace she usually couldn’t sustain, yelling Rex’s name with each thump of her sneaker on the sand.

A few passersby looked her way; others ignored her completely. She looked and sounded insane, but she didn’t care.

After an hour of running, looking up at the sky, and calling his name, she gave up. Exhausted and thirsty, she slowly walked back to her mom’s condo, anxious and defeated. She walked inside to find Sinclair making coffee. He looked at her quizzically, his brows furrowed over his big brown eyes.

“How was your run, Kate?” Sinclair asked, lifting one eyebrow.

“Okay,” Kate replied, trying to channel a calmness she didn’t feel, but she didn’t want to worry her mom. Hands shaking, she poured a glass of water and plopped down on a chair at the kitchen table.

“How about some coffee?” Sinclair asked, putting a cup in front of her. “Or maybe you’re jittery enough.” She followed his gaze down to her violently trembling hands. “Have you been crying?”

“Where’s my mom?” Kate asked, her voice sounding high-pitched and tense to her own ears.

“Jackie went to her friend’s house. Lourdes, I think that was the name. She said she’d be gone a few hours.” He sat down at the table, his gaze intense. “What happened? You seem upset. You’re not the bubbly, We-Saved-The-World-Kateyou were when you set out for your run. You were gone a long time. I know you’ve been crying. Did you see Rex?”

Kate just nodded.

“I gather we failed,” Sinclair said, his lips pressed into a grim line. “They’re coming anyway.”

“I need to write down our conversation before I forget the details,” Kate said, jumping up from the table and looking around for paper and a pen. After she found them, she sat down and started to write.

“Yep, I think that sums it up,” Kate announced, sliding the paper across the table to Sinclair.

 “Holy shit,” Sinclair murmured as he read the list. “What the hell? This is not good!”

He jumped out of his chair and paced the small kitchen, waving the slip of paper as he spoke. “Let me get this straight. We used the debris that we found at Kennedy Space Center to make a fake advanced laser prototype that was meant to destroy all the dangerous space debris. We managed to get the tech launched into space. We created a perfect illusion so that Rex could destroy the debris while making it look like we humans did it. But they knew it was a ruse? They’re still angry?”

Kate read the panic on his face. “I know, right? What the fuck? Swear words are totally appropriate right now. I mean, we did all that work; risked getting COVID, killed, or arrested; and it seems like it was all for nothing. I mean, if the end of the world is imminent anyway, it was all for nothing!” Kate was still shaking, but she had to pull herself together. “Listen, I’m sweaty and sandy and I need to take a shower.”

I look horrible. I need to think this through. And I don’t want to lose it in front of Sinclair. 

As Kate stood, Sinclair approached her. “Not so fast.” He took her in his arms and hugged her tight for a long time. As he released her, he took her hands and stared deeply into her eyes.

A bolt of lightning hit her chest.

“You’re amazing, Kate. We figured out a solution before, maybe we can again. Don’t give up.” He pulled her back in for another hug. “This is a lot for one person to handle. I wish Rex had taken me up with you.”

“Me too. You would have asked better questions. You wouldn’t have cried so much,” Kate mumbled into his chest, tears of frustration dampening his shirt.

She didn’t want to pull away from Sinclair. She felt safe here, with him. Reassured by the steadiness of his breath and the feeling of his strong arms around her. Kate sighed. Still, she was frustrated with herself; she must look terrible with her eyes all red and swollen and she really needed to blow her nose. She was also worried her mom would walk in and see her so upset. Reluctantly, she stepped back and ran to the bathroom before he could entice her with another hug.

Kate was not ready to tell her mom about the latest death threat. Not until I have a plan.

CK Westbrook is an environmentalist who lives and works in Washington D.C. and a self-described old-school news junkie. CK has worked with the U.S. Congress and many Administrations to try to protect our water, air, and wildlife from pollution, abuse, and exploitation. Since the state of our planet and the news is bleak and depressing, CK escapes reality by creating intriguing characters in a science fiction world. The world these characters live in may be dark and scary, but they have fantastic adventures which impact their planet. In addition to creating imaginative stories, CK breaks free from daily life with an intense passion for travel and has been to all seven continents. CK loves weaving real-world topics and crises into suspenseful sci-fi and fantasy. To learn more about CK Westbrook, please go to www.ckwestbrook.com and 4 Horsemen Publications, on Twitter @WestbrookCK, and as CK Westbrook Author on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.

Image courtesy of ConfusedGorilla

An Expanded Interview with C.K. Westbrook

FC: When did you first get the idea to write this novel, and why?

C.K.: The pandemic created a lot of free time which allowed me to think, be creative, and write.  We went into COVID lockdown in March 2020 and everything was dark and scary. There had been more than 400 mass shootings in the USA in 2019. I had been active in the gun violence movement and often heard the argument that “we can’t do anything about gun violence because we will never get rid of the guns.” So, I sat in my house at my computer combining all these thoughts and feelings and thinking about illness, fear, death, violence, and what we think makes us safe. I let my imagination take over and a few weeks later, the first draft of The Shooting was written. 

FC: Why did you decide to write it as a trilogy?

C.K.: The stories are intense and suspenseful and seemed like a natural fit to be a trilogy with dramatic cliffhangers. I don’t want to give anything away, but I saw the full timeline in my head as I wrote The Shooting

FC: What’s the most interesting or surprising thing you learned while research and writing it?

C.K.: I knew how terrible gun violence is in the United States, and I knew about the problem of space debris. But my research showed me the enormity and how extremely dangerous both problems are and how little our government is doing about them. Like the climate crisis and biodiversity extinction crisis, the government at all levels is not doing nearly enough to address these deadly problems. 

FC: In what way is the book you wrote different from the book you set out to write?

C.K.: I knew the book would be about pollution and guns, but the feminist themes kind of snuck in. I was not really surprised, because I am a feminist, but it’s there in so many ways. 

FC: Who are two creative people, one a writer and another not a writer, who have influenced you and your work?

C.K.: I loved The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins because she writes about violence without glorifying it. I have enormous respect for Jane Fonda. She has written books, but not fiction. Her brave creativity and brilliance are in her acting, producing great films and projects, and activism. I was arrested with her at a climate change protest and we spent hours in jail in a group of women talking about life, history, war, the environment, people, trauma, fitness, health, and the things we do for what we love.

FC: Persuade someone to read your book in fifty words or less.

C.K.: Science fiction usually has a catastrophic event that changes everything. The event in my book is that almost every gun owner, worldwide, turns their weapon on themselves at the same time. How? Why? Will there be more global violence? An unexpected hero must rise up to save the world. 

FC: What’s next for you?

C.K.: I’m working on my fourth science fiction novel called The Aftermath. It will be a stand-alone novel, however, it does take place five years after the massive, global shooting in The Shooting. Will it be a dystopian future or paradise? Will have to read it to find out! It is scheduled to be published in the fall of 2023. 

FC: Your publisher has a rather unique, literary name: 4 Horsemen Publications. How did you happen to team up with them?

C.K. A friend and fellow author told me about them and how they specialize in series, especially trilogies. It is a women-owned mid-size publishing company and I was thrilled when they decided to publish “The Impact Series.” Their expertise in marketing, cover design, and editing has made this process productive and fun. I am extremely grateful to 4 Horsemen Publications for bringing these stories into the world.    

FC: Thank you so much for sharing your creativity with us, and our best wishes for success with The Aftermath.

C.K.: Thank you for all your time and work!


#aliens#c.k. westbrook#peace#science fiction#trilogy
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