What Happens Next?

Every night before I tuck my son Jonah into bed, he asks me a question for which he knows the answer. (At this point in the day, we’ve already talked about it several times). “Tomorrow we have coffee and juice, Daddy?” he’ll say. That’s his way of asking if I will be at home or at work when he wakes up. He wants to know if he’ll see me for his morning routine, if we can continue our time together or if he’ll need to wait until I get home from work in the evening. It’s his two-year-old heart’s way of asking, “What happens next?”

There’s a reason that stories are the language of childhood, why we don’t read grammar textbooks, devotionals, or essays to our kids. Deep inside each of us, from before the moment we’re born, is a longing to know what happens next. The Bible says God has “set eternity in the human heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV). We stand in a long line of children descended from Adam, descended from God, but standing in that line we stretch and strain on our tip-toes to see up ahead, to glean what comes next. It’s why the stock market rises and falls over speculation about the future. It’s why the Left Behind series has sold millions of copies. And it’s why we lose ourselves in stories.

Unlike our own lives or the still-progressing grand narrative of history, we can witness the beginning and the end of a good story in the time it takes to watch a movie. And there’s something in that experience that reinforces our humanity. Books and film are not mere entertainment; they are part of who we were, who we are, and who we want to be. They are necessary—like food, water, air. Think that’s an overstatement? Just imagine a world without stories of any kind. No characters, no plot lines, no quotable dialogue, no happy endings. Is that a world you’d like to live in? What would a person’s story even be in such a world?

I created a bit of that world in my new book, Plunge. I imagined a future where all education can be downloaded via cranial injection and where a centralized government has outlawed most literature and art. It’s a world in which stories are largely contraband, in which hope is in short supply, and in which a ruthless dictator has attempted to stunt eternity in the human heart. And, of course, such a scenario could only be imagined in a story.

If you’d like to read the beginning of my tale, you can do so here. And if you like the book, please click the “Nominate me” button. If it’s selected for publication, you’ll receive a free Kindle copy when it comes out. It’s just my small way of keeping the stories coming.

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