After a major catastrophe rocks the planet, massive tsunamis swallow coastlines and destroy cities. The remaining survivors desperately seek refuge in the only place left – inland Africa. All nations are now on one land.
Battling environmental threats, a total lack of infrastructure, and a breakdown of law and order, civility erodes as a violent clash of cultures are forced to co-habitat on an land in which they were not invited. New identities and tribes form. Some rise to power, while others become enslaved.
In the midst of this chaos, one man searches for meaning while clinging to a small sliver of hope that one day he will reunite with his lost love.
Most people are on an introvert-extrovert spectrum. Introversion tends to be characterized as feeling more comfortable and capable in quitter and less-stimulated environments. Extroverts on the other hand thrive in socially stimulating environments and get energy from being around others.
Letting Your Work Shine
It’s easy for introverts to be overlooked in the workplace.
Outgoing, energetic extroverts can outshine their introverted co-workers. They may be considered for promotions, particularly leadership roles, even though introverts are perfectly capable of being successful in those same roles. The person who speaks more in meetings, is telling great stories in the lunchroom, and walking around the office confidently and socially can be perceived as more intelligent, more capable, and more of a leader.
This perception can also affect one’s self-esteem. By looking at the charismatic leader, introverts may deem themselves as inferior, being unable to imagine themselves in a leadership role. This in turns can sap a person’s confidence and hold them back.
WFH has in effect clipped the wings of the social butterfly
WFH has in effect clipped the wings of the social butterfly, allowing everyone to be on the same playing field, and having one’s work and contribution speak for them. In the absence of a room of people, the extrovert has no more perceived advantages. Sometimes a person’s charm, charisma, and social skills can even mask deficiencies in their work quality or output.
With more meetings taking place virtually, shy and quite types can become more involved in those meetings, which they may not have felt comfortable doing in the past.
Public speaking for introverts can be terrifying, especially when presenting an opinion or idea, inviting opposition to swat it down. Instead of being intimidated to speak up, introverts can take a moment to craft thoughtful statements or pitch ideas without fear of being directly challenged. By having more text-based discussions, introverts can hide their nerves, anxiety, and being frazzled since nobody is staring at them, waiting for a quick-witted response. They can take a moment, breathe, and type.
This is not just true for group meetings, but also one-on-one interactions. Without being face-to-face, an introvert may feel more at ease and have less social anxiety. They can set aside that part of their brain that would otherwise be occupied by how they look or how awkward they’re coming across, and instead focus more on the meeting.
Being an Introvert Doesn’t Make You a Bad Leader
Some of the most successful CEOs and founders are introverts. Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Warren Buffet come to mind.
Author and Wharton School of Business professor, Adam Grant, discusses introverted leaders. According to his research, he found introverted leaders to be highly effective because they are more likely to listen to their employee’s ideas without feeling threatened. This allows employees to feel valued and heard, rather than dismissed and devalued.
However, Grant goes on to state that success of an introverted leader depends on the kinds of employees they have, particularly proactive employees who are able to go off on their own and don’t require an energetic rally to get them motivated and excited.
Introverts may even look at extroverts thriving in the workplace and try to mimic them. However, an introvert trying to force themselves to become more extroverted usually doesn’t work. They can develop more social skills, become more comfortable in meetings, but that doesn’t mean they need to become an extrovert to be a good leader.
Fortress of Solitude
There is a power in working alone without the distractions of a bustling workplace.
According to Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, some of the most religious leaders throughout history – Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad – were solo seekers, often going off on their own in the wilderness to to do quite contemplation. Once they obtain some transcendent epiphany or profound revelation, they then bring those ideas back to the community.
Cain goes on to say, “the key for us to maximize our talents is to put ourselves in the zone of stimulation that is right for us.”
Being the New Person in the Office
Whenever you start at a new company, there’s that moment when you walk through the door for the first time and are met with dozens of eyes — some judging, some welcoming, and others just eager to meet you. For many introverts, this can be an incredibly uncomfortable experience that can persist for weeks, months, or even longer.
As you meet new faces around the office, there may be an expectation that you have to be ‘on’ to be likable. After all, this is a co-worker’s first impression of you and could set the tone for how you are forever perceived. When you’d rather eat alone than in a large group, it can be intimidating for the new person.
If you’ve changed jobs during the Covid 19 pandemic, many of these anxiety inducing situations don’t exist. You can take your time and settle into a new job. You may have to introduce yourself through a company-wide email, or on a Teams meeting, but you will not be required to stand around a water cooler and make small talk.
WFH may be the best thing to happen to introverts in the workplace
WFH may be the best thing to happen to introverts in the workplace. Being alone and away from a busy office can give an introvert the energy they need to be hyper-focused and excel. As more and more companies like Google and Microsoft are embracing this new work-from-home culture, this may finally allow introverts their opportunity to shine.
Those who love cyberpunk thrillers will love my latest book – ZERO. It takes place in a futuristic world set sometime after World War 3, which I’ve called the Automation War. Essentially, as technology advances and replaces human labour, it leaves millions unemployed, hungry, and desperate. Civility erodes and all hell breaks loose. This book picks up five years after that event where billions of people have been killed and a new order has been established. Here is the blurb:
In a hyper-connected world where every move is tracked and even predicted, nine strangers must figure out how to stop a group of anonymous hackers who have taken over the world’s government.
You can check out the first 20 chapters on YouTube and if you like it, you can either check out the book (available in digital and print everywhere), or now the audio book (available Amazon, iTunes, and Audible).
It wasn’t the first time Bobby had been visited. The first time was the summer going into the fifth grade. It was always at night, usually when he was asleep. Then it started happening more frequently, although he could never prove it. There were no marks on his body, no missing organs, no implants, well, not that he knew of. All he had were faded memories and a paralyzing fear.
He never knew when they would come for him, or what they did with him once they took him. Nobody would believe him either. Being the child of a single mother who was never around, councilors and psychologists dismissed it as a classic case of a kid fabricating a story to compensate for his lack of parental attention.
Whenever he was taken, he would always awake in his bed, unable to move for twenty minutes. This wasn’t a form of sleep paralysis, this was the lingering effects of whatever serum they had injected into him.
A year ago was the worst, Bobby didn’t wake up in his bed like the other times — now six in total. He found himself in a field by his house — barefoot and still in his pajamas. Sauntering back to his house, he was surprised to see his mother there with two police officers. Apparently, he had been missing for over twenty-four hours, yet he had no recollection during that time. Again, councilors were quick to diagnose him with sleepwalking disorder, saying it was quite common in children of his again. They proscribed him some medication, but he immediately flushed the pills down the toilet.
Determined to prove everyone wrong, he set up a hidden video camera in his closet for an entire year. One of the last things he would do before hopping into bed was press record.
One late summer eve, while his mother was out working at the restaurant, Bobby was home alone. He had been watching TV and dosed off. Then, a bright light penetrated the house followed by a high-pitch noise, which nearly shattered his ear drums. Now wide awake, Bobby sat up like a man possessed. He raced over to the nearest window and saw a craft hovering over his rural house. Then, there was a beam of light. Before he knew what to do, two creepy figures descended on his property.
Upon seeing their eyes, Bobby suddenly jumped bumping into a TV that was casually propped up on an old writing desk. The TV fell to the floor screen first and smashed on the ground with a loud crash. Bobby was nervous and immediately looked for somewhere to hide.
As he was exiting the room, he suddenly froze in his tracks. He was experiencing a sort of wakeful paralysis, not brought on by any condition, but by an outside force. He tried to squirm and break free, but it was no use. He stood still in terror, stiff as a board, and couldn’t even scream. They only thing he could do was blink and grunt.
The beings were now at the window in his bedroom, looking for a way in. The TV lifted off the floor and was put back in its place. Their long slender fingers tapped on the glass; their ugly face peering through. He then looked over at his closet and saw the red glowing light from his camera.
This is not my world. My name is Kano Karson – I’m an American from the year 2030. In my world, they send criminals to the future – 3030 to be exact. It’s their way of sweeping them under the rug. But the future is not a nice place filled with flying cars, robot servants, and instant food. It’s overrun with criminals, mentally derange lunatics, and psychopaths. Here, gangs rule the streets. There is danger at every turn. I gotta watch my back if I want to stay alive.
As for me, I’m ex-military – Special Ops. I was wrongly accused of killing my family. The truth is, I turned myself in so that I could be sent to the future. I know who the real killer is — a lowlife scumbag who was convicted of armed robbery days after murdering my family in cold blood. The police got to him before I could. Now that I’m here, I intend to hunt him down and make him pay. Nothing will stand in my way.
The jump still has me feeling a little uneasy. I found myself in the back of a police transport vehicle — my head is still a little scrambled. Apparently, time travel has negative side effects — who knew? I didn’t take out the guards, they were a part of an ambush. I was fortunate enough to make it out alive — for now. In this lawless prison state, it’s kill or be killed. I need to lay low, find some kind of shelter, and wait for the effects of the jump to wear off.
Sydney and Clay had heard the rumours online and flew 3,000 miles to find out if The Rothschild Manor was truly haunted by the spirits of dead children. Many different people in the forum claim this to be the most haunted place in Europe – a former boarding house. Some claim that no one has lasted more than an hour before desperately wanting to leave.
Self-proclaimed ghost hunters, Sydney and Clay knew they had to check it out, so it immediately shot up to the top of their list of places to visit. The young couple made a living traveling around the world in search of the most haunted places, vlogging their experience, and putting it up on their YouTube channel. They would document every step of their journey with a handheld camera, special ghost-detecting equipment, and a skeptical eye. In most cases, the spookiness was nothing more than a manifestation of fear people create in their minds. Strip away that fear, and the eerie feelings tend to dissolve pretty quickly.
Prior to the trip, they had done as much research on The Rothschild Manor as possible. They flew to England, rented a car, and drove two hours South of London to a tiny town over a thousand years old. As people on the forum had instructed, they needed to contact the groundskeeper – Mr. Bernard Hubert – to make a special arrangement and to be granted access.
Sure enough, Bernard met them late at night on the compound, holding only a small flickering candle. He seemed eager to have guests and took pleasure in watching people freak out. As for him, he was never bothered by the spirits. He lived off the property and would come every few days to check in and make sure there was no vandalism or trespassers.
Taking a deep breath to calm their anxious nerves, they turned the cameras on. This was it, the moment of truth, they were about to enter the property. Before taking their first step, Bernard turned around, his sinister grin and devilish eyes illuminated by the muted glow of candlelight, and said, “This is your last chance. Are you sure you’re ready?”
Sydney and Clay both looked at each other and nodded.
Everything has a price, especially in a lawless world. Finding people to carryout any order you want isn’t hard to find. Whoever had the will and resources held immense power. But for those in power, there was always someone wanting to take that power away.
Winding through the terrain below was a vacant set of steel tracks. Soon, a cargo train transporting raw materials would be charging full stream toward New Deli. But among the seemingly endless cars of grain, corn, and spices was a very special piece of cargo – Emilia Amadyl – daughter of oil tycoon Baron Amadyl.
Ahkmed and his crew were hired by a rival business man named Barak Itemar to kidnap Baron’s daughter and hold her for ransom. Sitting high atop a rolling mound of rock, looking out over the barren wasteland with their militarized combat vehicle, Ahkmed puffed on his hand-rolled cigar, waiting for their moment to strike. Buzzards soared overhead creating an atmosphere of heightened anticipation.
The badlands were notoriously filled with bandits, thieves, and outlaws, so they had to be extra cautious of others who may be looking to steal the daughter as well. As the wind blew, it carried the fateful sound of a coal-powered locomotion. A billowing black cloud of smoke could be seen in the distance. Ahkmed tossed his cigar on the ground and stomped it out with his boot.
This was it, it was time to gear up and get into position. If everything went according to plan, they would soon receive a very handsome payday. But in this line of work, things hardly ever go according to plan.
Haru and Reiko – two Japanese astronauts – were living their childhood dreams. Staring up at that glowing orb had always captured their imaginations – what was up there, what was gravity like, would humans one day live there? The questions seemed endless.
Reiko was Japan’s first ever female to walk on the moon. With a background in engineering, she graduated top of her class and went on to become an astronaut for Japan’s space program. Haru took a more nontraditional approach. He was a tech billionaire who lived for adventure and bragging rights.
“This is incredible,” Haru said, staring into the cave.
“We should wait for the others,” Reiko said. “It may not be safe.”
“Send them our coordinates, I’m going in.”
Reiko looked down at her communication device, which didn’t seem to be working.
“Something’s wrong with my…” As she looked up Haru was gone. “Haru?” she called out.
Haru had broken one of the cardinal rules: never leave your partner. As for Reiko, she now had a choice to make – follow Haru into this unfamiliar moon cavern, or leave him to go find the others.
Not wanting to disobey an order, Reiko reluctantly entered the cave. The two lights mounted on the sides of her helmet illuminated the way as she cautiously descended further into the cavern, taking small bouncing steps. There was no sign of Haru anywhere. She glanced down once again at her communication device. That’s when she heard a rumble. ‘A moonquake?’ she thought.
Before she had time to process what was happening, Haru was bounding toward her, telling her to move.
“We’re not alone!” Haru shouted, panting into the microphone. “We’re not alone!”
There was another rumble, this time louder and more violent than the last. Rocks and debris started falling slowly to the ground – crashing and exploding on impact.
Turning back the way she had come, Reiko made her way toward the opening of the cave. This time taking large leaping steps. It was like she was trapped in dream and couldn’t move fast enough.
Reiko exited the mouth of the cavern first, many paces ahead of Haru. Looking over her shoulder she caught a glimpse of the glowing eyes, but could not make out the rest of the head or body. Not wanting to stick around and find out, she continued to run toward the pod.
The ground continued to shake. Beneath their feet, large cracks in the lunar surface started to form, which quickly spread and turned into gaping chasms making it difficult to cross. A large opening formed in front of Reiko and she had no choice but to jump. Using her momentum, she leaped in the air, but it wasn’t enough to clear the gap. Her boot slipped, and she fell into the pit. Fortunately, she was able to grab onto the edge and save herself, but she knew she couldn’t hold on for long. Just as she was feeling her grip begin to slip, something grabbed her. She screamed in terror, but then saw Haru standing over her.
“You okay?” he asked, extending a helping hand.
She didn’t answer.
“Come on, grab my hand. We’re getting out of here.”
Toby Grant had been hiking for hours, dragging his laboured feet through the deep snow, in search of a way out. Without any gear, communication device, or food, he was completely at the mercy of the mighty storm that had separated him from his group.
What was supposed to be a fun ski trip had gone horrible awry as the vehicle he was in careened off the road, plunged down an embankment, and plowed into a deep snow drift. Everyone else in the vehicle was killed except for him. Instead of making his way back up the snowy embankment and onto the icy highway, where he could potentially flag down some help, he inexplicably followed an inner voice, telling him to head North. He didn’t know why he listened to the voice, perhaps he had banged his head a little too hard and he was still not thinking clearly. Fortunately, all his other faculties seemed to be in check.
Through a spooky forest, over a frozen creek, and across the rolling plains, Toby was exhausted. Guided by only the moonlight and a voice in his head, he eventually came to a clearing. There in the hazy glow of night was a lone cabin, secluded from any roads or routes. Toby somehow knew it would be there, but how? And why was he guided there. Despite being frozen to his core, Toby stood in awe, taking it in. The cabin appeared empty. There were no signs that anyone had been there in a while. No tracks in, no smoke from a fireplace, and no flickering candlelight in the window.
“Go in,” the faint voice whispered to him again, nudging him to continue on this mysterious journey.
It was too late to turn back, so Toby decided to press on. But just before he was about to take his next step, he saw something that changed his mind forever. Standing before him was a floating orb of light. It introduced itself as God and told Toby that he would be saved, so long as he entered the cabin. The entire thing started to seem highly suspicious, as Toby was becoming more in grip with his senses. This may not be some magical oasis in the woods as the voice had proclaimed, but rather it could be some kind of trap from some mischievous demon, luring unsuspecting travellers inside to eat their souls.
Swedish scientist, Dr. Cal Magnuson worked at a clandestine research facility located deep in the Swiss Alps. Their mission: search for extraterritorial intelligence.
The SETI facility, as it was called, was so remote, there was only one way in and one way out. Contact with the facility had ceased several weeks ago. The last incoming message sounded like the delirious rant of a madman. Now a team was on there way to investigate.
As the airship circled the facility, they were still unable to make contact. Two Senior Research Scientists and their pilot were not sure what they would encounter upon arrival.
“What do you think happened?” Marissa asked.
“Anything from murder / suicide, to an infestation of little green men,” Jack replied.
“Do you really think Dr. Magnuson is capable of that?”
“Isolation has a way of making a person go mad. Not to mention the weather. It’s freezing up here. I’m wearing three layers and I cannot feel my toes.”
The loud propellers cut through the frigid air, creating a draft that chilled them to their cores. Marissa checked the gauges and was seeing an unusual anomaly.
“Jack, are you seeing this?” Marissa said, sounding concerned. “The gauges are going haywire.”
The overcast was obstructing their vision and without working gauges, they may not be able to land safely. The airship went through a pocket of turbulence shaking them every which way.
“Hang on!” Jack shouted through the headset.
Marissa thought for sure they were going down. Fearing the worst, she closed her eyes and thought about her family.
Just then, the craft leveled off. The clouds parted, shining a beam of light on the research facility and guiding their way. Marissa opened her eyes and looked at the gauges – they had returned to normal. Jack let out a celebratory cheer, releasing his nervous energy.
“You alright, Marissa?”
“I am now. I’m just thankful it’s over.”
“Try Cal again.” Jack suggested.
Marissa picked up her radio and placed the transmitter to her mouth. “Cal, come in. This is Marissa and Jack.”
Then, through the crackling radio, they heard the inaudible groans from a creature not from this planet.