The Best Generation

“There is a tide in the affairs of men

Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;

Omitted, all the voyage of their life

Is bound in shallows and in miseries.

On such a full sea are we now afloat;

And we must take the current when it serves,

Or lose our ventures.”

—Julius Caesar, Act 4, Scene 3

You can’t go home again.  Until you do.

The finale of the third and last season of Star Trek: Picard aired weeks ago, and I still can’t wipe the grin off my face.  I suppose that was inevitable.  Any reunion of the entire primary cast of the second generation of Star Trek was bound to tickle my fancy, regardless of quality. 

Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered in 1987.  I was eight years old at the time, and the show grabbed my imagination from the start.  The characters and the world were awe-inspiring to me.  Somewhere along the line the writing caught up too.  Maybe the best way I can describe to you what the crew of the starship Enterprise came to mean to me is this:  The most cutting punishment my parents ever imposed was grounding me from watching that week’s episode of Star Trek.

I somehow survived the ignominy, and the show soared on for seven seasons as Patrick Stewart inspired with his portrayal of the ever-righteous Captain Jean-Luc Picard.  When the television voyages of Captain Picard and company came to an end, we fans were buoyed by the knowledge our friends would be back on the big screen.  Star Trek: Generations is a so-so movie that will forever hold a special place in my heart.  First Contact was a thrilling high.  Insurrection was ho-hum.  And Nemesis landed with a thud in 2002.  In fairness, a two-hour action movie was never going to be the proper format for saying goodbye to these characters.

I cheered at the announcement that twenty years on from Nemesis Patrick Stewart would reprise the role of Jean-Luc Picard, although the initial results were a bit jarring.  I like and appreciate the first two seasons of Star Trek: Picard.  I understand Sir Patrick’s desire to do something fresh, but maybe it was too fresh.  The third season of the show, in what could be described as a J. J. Abrams-esque bout of overcorrection, set about fixing that.  Bravo!

But was it actually good?  Or did I just want it to be?  I’ve been through the entire ten episodes twice now.  I’ve had a few weeks to digest, dissect, and mull it over, so let me share with you some (mostly) spoiler-free thoughts.

Jean-Luc Picard is one of the most beloved characters in the entire franchise in large part because Patrick Stewart is hands down the best actor in the entire franchise.  He’s always been great, but he took things to an entirely different level with this final outing.  His every facial expression is nuanced.  There’s a scene early in Season Three when Jean-Luc makes and holds eye contact with Beverly Crusher.  He doesn’t say a word.  He doesn’t have to.

I assure you it isn’t just Sir Patrick who’s in top form.  Jonathan Frakes gives what is far and away his best-ever performance as Riker.  Gates McFadden, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Brent Spiner, and Marina Sirtis too are all better than ever.  Each one gets a chance to shine.

The entire season is imbued with a perfect mixture of familiar and new.  Every legacy character gives us something different while also reminding us of why we loved them in the first place.  Beverly has been estranged from her crewmates for twenty years and harbors a shocking secret.  Will and Deanna are struggling through grief and marital discord.  Geordi is the overprotective father of two smart and capable adult daughters.  Worf is a … pacifist … sort of?  And Data, well …

The production values are fantastic, rivaling almost any big-screen Star Trek adventure.  The attention to detail is astonishing.  The writing, the music (shades of James Horner), everything – it’s all quite cinematic.  (I so enjoyed watching this show in an age when I could follow the behind-the-scenes creatives on Twitter to get a sense of how much thought and love they poured into this.)

Season Three is a fast-paced adventure with an emotional core that is surprisingly funny.  There’s a definite touch of Marvel-style humor throughout that helps leaven some truly dark and heavy moments.  (Chamomile tea, anyone?)

The new characters aboard the refit U.S.S. Titan are eminently likable.  After only a few short episodes, I found myself rooting for Jack Crusher, Sydney LaForge, etc., just as much as I was for the legacy cast.  Todd Stashwick’s turn as the sardonic Captain Liam Shaw, a survivor of the Battle of Wolf 359, was especially delightful.  Stashwick is downright hilarious as Shaw, but he also flashes breathtaking dramatic acting chops in one unforgettable scene.

We get some surprise guest appearances from a few familiar faces.  As in previous seasons of Picard, however, the recurring characters from TNG don’t always fare so well.  Let’s just say the mortality rate is high for the bit players.

There are plenty of callbacks to ‘90s Trek.  The clips from “Encounter at Farpoint” gave me chills.  The visit to the Fleet Museum is a trip down memory lane.  Top it off with one enormously thrilling surprise in the final episodes that, boy-oh-boy, I’d never want to spoil for anyone.  We somehow get closure not only for the Next Generation cast but also for the entire Next Generation universe as our heroes engage in what feels like Starfleet’s final battle against some of its deadliest longtime nemeses.

Without saying more, the closing scene of Picard is a special treat for fans that practically breaks the fourth wall to let us linger in the presence of both the crew and the beloved actors who play them.  Much like The Undiscovered Country did for the original cast, Picard Season Three leaves me at peace with letting go of these characters.

Star Trek just showed us how to do nostalgia and fan service right.  You let your legacy characters carry the torch.  You let them save the galaxy one last time, all the while passing said torch to the next, next generation.  (After finishing Picard, I couldn’t help but wonder what the Star Wars sequel movies might have been if they’d followed this formula instead of doing whatever it was they were trying to do.)

Was it good?  Heck yeah, it was good.  The third season of Star Trek: Picard was flat-out brilliant.  What a revelation.  What a gift.  This new golden age of Star Trek feels like a bunch of disparate shows trying to outdo each other.  The first season of Strange New Worlds was phenomenal.  (SNW really is one of the most dazzling stars in the entire Star Trek constellation.)  Ditto Prodigy.  Then the third season of Picard comes along and sets the bar even higher, leaving the entire fanbase clamoring for a spinoff.

Our heroes finally got their due, and the future looks bright.

Chris works as an attorney in Lincoln, Nebraska.  He has a B.A. in communications (print journalism emphasis) from Brigham Young University and a J.D. from the University of Nebraska College of Law.  Chris is the author of the young adult novel Hero as well as Red: A Football Novel.  He has also watched every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation more than once.


HERO – Chapter 1 – Gone

All I’ve ever wanted out of my writer’s journey is an audience, so thank you to everyone who’s taken the time to read HERO and an even bigger thank you to those readers who have left a review or just plain told me what you thought.  For those of you who haven’t yet read HERO, you’re in luck. Keep scrolling. The first chapter is available below for free.  Try it.  I bet you’ll like it.

While fifteen-year-old Hero Jean Taylor struggles to adjust to a new home and a new school, she fixates on a solitary hunt for a brazen killer. Intent on cracking the case by visiting the scene of each murder, Hero crisscrosses town on her bicycle until a chance encounter with a mysterious stranger brings her tantalizingly close to the answers she seeks. But as the death toll mounts, Hero’s very survival hinges on the one truth she finds hardest to accept: She can’t do it alone.


A Novel

Christopher D. Seifert

For the men and women in blue.

“Cowards die many times before their deaths;

the valiant never taste of death but once.”

Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene II

Chapter 1


Two weeks after her father left, Hero Jean Taylor closed the door on the only home she had ever known.  She was out back – up in the treehouse, of course – when her mother gave the word.

“Hero,” Lynette Taylor called, “it’s time to go.”

Hero shivered.  A cold breeze rustled branches and made the entire treehouse sway.  She stood and let her green eyes sweep over the entirety of the backyard one last time.  Her whole world, or rather what was left of it, lay before her.  The shed.  The garden spot.  The trampoline.  The chain-link fence that stood as the dividing line between their yard and the Sullivans’.  Bailey, the Sullivans’ shaggy dog, roamed the fence line with his black nose snuffling in the dirt.

Hero! Let’s get a move on here!”

Hero sighed before clambering down the ladder her father nailed to the old ash tree when she was just six years old.  The final rung of the ladder had broken away long ago, and Hero dropped the last five feet, landing in the grass with an audible “oof.”

“Coming,” Hero said, but not loudly enough for her mother to hear her.  She crossed the yard, pulling her sweater more tightly around her as she went, and approached the red-brick house.  At the back patio, a series of wooden steps led to a second-story deck.  Hero took each step with painstaking deliberation.  She was in no hurry.

Her mother waited at the top with her arms folded across her chest.  “Your aunt and uncle are expecting us,” her mother said.  She turned and walked into the house.

Hero bit her lip and shivered once more.  Then she followed her mother inside.  As soon as Hero closed the sliding glass door behind her, her mother was there to flip the lock and wedge the door with a wooden pole.

The house was quiet, lifeless.  The walls were bare.  The furniture was gone.  Hero marveled at how cavernous it all looked.  Just a barren shell.

Her mother marched to the other side of the room, pulled open the front door, and held it there as if waiting for Hero to pass through.

“Give me a minute,” Hero said.  Her voice echoed when she spoke.

Her mother shrugged and went outside.  “OK,” she said, “but make it quick, and be sure to lock the door behind you.”

Hero could never have explained how it was happening, but she felt the lump in her throat tighten more than ever.  Her breath was short, and her heart fluttered.  She closed her eyes and let herself consider what she was only beginning to understand:  Nothing would ever be the same.  Nothing would ever be right.

Hero crossed the room, stopped to fiddle with the lock on the doorknob, and then walked out onto the front porch.  She looked toward the driveway.

Her mother sat behind the steering wheel of their car, a blue hatchback, and honked the horn.

Hero turned back toward the house.  She gave the doorknob a tug.  The door squeaked on its hinges, just like it always did.  With one final tug that took all of her remaining strength, she brought the door closed.  Hero jiggled the handle and found it would not turn.  There was no going back.

Her mother honked the horn again.

Hero stepped off the porch.  She pushed a strand of dark hair behind her left ear, moved past the “for sale” sign in the yard, and climbed into the front passenger seat next to her mother, who put the car in reverse and started it rolling backwards down the driveway without giving Hero time to close her door or latch her seatbelt.

Uncle Ryker and Aunt Terry lived on the south side of town.  The drive to their house took about fifteen minutes, Hero knew.  Fifteen minutes.  Trapped in the car with her mother.  Hero sank lower in her seat.   

She looked around the car’s interior.  She looked everywhere but at her mother.  The backseat was packed so high with boxes, bags, and suitcases it was impossible to see through the rear window.  Piles of greasy fast-food wrappers littered the front-seat floorboard.

Hero reached for the radio dial.  She was hoping for some loud music to dull her senses, but it was the AM band that came to life:  “Local police are still investigating,” a baritone voice announced while Hero’s mother grimaced, “two shootings over the last month that some say are connected.  Police spokeswoman Donna Pearl on why the public—”

Lynette Taylor swatted Hero’s hand away from the dial and switched off the radio.  Then she hit the brakes hard enough for Hero’s shoulder strap to lock and took an abrupt right.

Hero gave her mother a sideways glare, leaned back in her seat, and watched the familiar streets slide past them.  There was the fire station, the library, the elementary school she once attended.  Later, they passed the park and the food mart.  The entire neighborhood – every tree, shrub, and sidewalk – felt like a part of her.  Even the signposts and rain gutters were old friends.

“It’s not like we’re moving to Mars,” her mother had said the night before.  “We’re moving eight miles across town.  You can still see your friends.”

Hero felt her mother was dreadfully wrong about that – just as she was dreadfully wrong about a great many things.  As far as Hero was concerned, the south side of town might as well be a whole new solar system.  She was fifteen, and she was not ready for this.  Any of it.  But then, the realist in her thought, when does life ever ask if you’re ready?

“Hero,” her mother began as they waited at a red light, “your aunt and uncle are really doing us a wonderful favor by taking us in like this.  Please try to be grateful.”  Her mother made a half-hearted attempt at a smile.  “Please.”

Hero wriggled her nose but was quiet.  No question Uncle Ryker and Aunt Terry were wonderful people, and Hero loved them dearly, but how could her mother expect her to be grateful?

Neither mother nor daughter said anything for the rest of the ride.  Instead, Hero tried to distract herself by keeping a lookout for yellow cars.  It was a game she and her father used to play when she was little.  She wondered what made her think of it now.

Uncle Ryker and Aunt Terry lived in a small, one-story ranch-style house with brown siding.  Large oak trees towered up and down the block.  Dogs barked and children frolicked.  Funny, Hero thought, how her own universe had come to an end, but here the world kept marching on just as it always had.

“Let me help you with those bags,” Uncle Ryker said after he gave Hero and her mother each the most enormous bear hug imaginable.

Hero and her mother had only brought what they could fit in their car.  The rest of their belongings were in storage.  Earlier in the week while Hero was at school, her mother called the movers and had them take it all away.  Hero came home that day to a desolate house.

“What’ve you got in here?” Uncle Ryker said to Hero with a wink as he heaved the heaviest suitcase up to the front porch.  “An anchor?”

“Yeah,” Hero said.  “Something like that.”

“Here,” Aunt Terry said to her husband, “let me get the door for you.”

“Thank you, dear.”  And with another heave, Uncle Ryker brought the giant suitcase inside and let it drop.  He tugged on his beard as he stopped to catch his breath.  Then to Hero he said, “Let me show you your room.”

Your room.  Hero hated the sound of that, but she knew Uncle Ryker was only trying to be a good host.

“Sure,” she said.

The room was much smaller than what Hero was used to.  There was barely space for the single twin bed that was shoved in one corner.  A frayed quilt lay draped over the top of the bed, and a tiny window loomed above it.

“It isn’t much,” Uncle Ryker said.

“It’s perfect,” Hero’s mother replied from behind her daughter.  “Isn’t that right, Hero?”

“Great,” Hero said without much enthusiasm.

But Uncle Ryker seemed not to notice.  He turned to Hero’s mother.  “Your room is this way, Lynette.”

Hero took a step up onto the bed, pushed back the curtains, and peered out at the street.  The dogs were still there and so were the children, but now the sound was muted.

“Hero darling,” Aunt Terry said from the hallway.

Hero was surprised by her aunt’s presence.  She thought all the adults had left.

“I’m so sorry about this,” Aunt Terry said.  “I really am.”

Hero said nothing at first.  Her eyes stayed laser-focused on a boy riding a tricycle.  She did not want pity.  Not from Uncle Ryker.  Not from Aunt Terry.  Not from anybody.  She wanted to go on with her life.  Mostly, she wanted to be left alone.  Hero clenched her fists as she felt the anger welling up inside her, but she breathed evenly and gave a quiet response.

“I know,” was all she said.

Aunt Terry lingered there, seemingly uncertain what to say, but she soon withdrew.

Hero spent the next few minutes getting settled.  She opened her suitcase and began piling some of her clothes onto the bed.  There was no dresser, she realized, and not much of a closet.  She would have to make do.

Near the bottom of her suitcase, Hero found her most prized possession – a bulky black police scanner.  She was shocked her mother had kept it.  A simple oversight, Hero was certain.  She located an outlet near the foot of the bed and plugged the police scanner into the wall.  Voices crackled, but she slapped the power button to quiet them.

She turned her attention to other treasures in her suitcase.  Her football.  Her stamp collection.  Her crime-fighting kit.  They all went under the bed.  Her bed.

Hero stood up and left in search of the bathroom.  She could hear the adults talking in the kitchen.  From their hushed, private tones, she could tell they were talking about her.

“She’s struggling, Lynette,” Hero heard Uncle Ryker say.

The voices were muffled.

“She’s resilient,” she heard her mother say.

Aunt Terry spoke next: “Yes, but …”

Hero closed the door to the only bathroom in the house.  She examined herself in the mirror.  She had straight black hair, a freckled nose, and striking green eyes.  Those eyes looked tired.  Their natural glow had grown dull.

Hero splashed water on her face.  Then she dabbed her forehead with a nearby towel.  Her eyes stung, and her head hurt.  She wanted to stay locked in the bathroom forever.  If only that was an option.

When Hero did emerge from the bathroom, she decided to avoid the adults by slipping out into the backyard.  Not that it was much of a backyard, really.  She had been to Uncle Ryker and Aunt Terry’s house many times before, but that was always for a visit.  This time she was expected to stay.  A concrete patio bordered a slim strip of lawn.  No trees.  A few flowers were just beginning to bloom along the privacy fence.  A black power cable swung low over the yard so that throwing the football would be nearly impossible.

Everything, Hero realized, was small and narrow and enclosed.  Already she was beginning to feel like a caged animal.  She took a step out onto the lawn.  She ground the heel of her slipper into the turf long enough to tear away a patch of grass.  She kicked at the loose clippings and turned back into the house.

The television blared from the living room.  The television, Hero knew, was often blaring at Uncle Ryker and Aunt Terry’s house.  They were watching the national news.

“Hero?”  Uncle Ryker poked his nose in from the other room.  “Is that you?”

“Yeah,” she said.  “Who else would it be?”

“Good point,” Uncle Ryker said with a smile.  “Where’ve you been?”

“Just stepped outside for a bit,” Hero said.  “Needed some fresh air.”

“Of course.  Hey, care to help me with dinner?”

“Sure,” Hero agreed.

She watched in amazement as Uncle Ryker went to work.  He rolled up his sleeves.  He threw on a red apron and began rifling through cupboards.

“Sorry to say things are a little sparse around here,” he said.  “High time I made a trip to the grocery store.  Beats me why I didn’t think of that before you got here.  Some host I am, huh?”

Hero happened to know the cupboards at Uncle Ryker and Aunt Terry’s house were often bare.  What food they did have on hand tended to be things like nuts, whole grains, and skim milk.  Aunt Terry was something of a health food enthusiast.  Too bad.  A glazed donut sounded really good, Hero thought, but she realized she was unlikely to be seeing many of those any time soon.

Uncle Ryker put a skillet on the stove.  “Looks like our only option tonight is breakfast for dinner.”  He nodded toward a carton of eggs.  “Mind cracking a few?”

Hero stepped up to the counter.  She pushed the sleeves of her sweater back from her wrists and reached into the carton.  She cracked all the eggs, with only a handful of tiny shell flecks ending up in the bowl.  Uncle Ryker waited for Hero to fish out each bit of shell with a spoon.  Then he whisked the bowl away from her.  His concentration deepened.  The kitchen sizzled.

Fantastic,” he said when at last he was finished, and Hero decided there were probably worse things than Uncle Ryker omelets for dinner.

Hero went about setting four places at the circular table in the crowded space adjoining the kitchen.  When she set down the final plate, Uncle Ryker announced, “Dinner is served!”

The television continued to jabber when Hero’s mother and Aunt Terry joined them.  The news had ended, replaced by the rumblings of a game show.

Once everyone had found a seat, Uncle Ryker turned to Hero and asked, “Would you mind saying grace?”

Hero shook her head.  “No thanks,” she said.

Uncle Ryker looked somewhat alarmed by this, but he quickly composed himself.  He cleared his throat.  “Dear,” he said to his wife, “would you please do us the honor?”

Aunt Terry bowed her head and uttered some quiet words of gratitude.

The studio audience from the other room applauded as the prayer came to an end, and Uncle Ryker left his chair and rounded the table to serve everyone.

“This looks wonderful,” Hero’s mother said as Hero placed a bite in her mouth and let it sear her tongue.

“Isn’t Ryker fabulous in the kitchen?” Aunt Terry said.  “It’s no wonder I can’t seem to keep the pounds off, what with this man cooking around here.”

That made no sense, Hero thought.  The woman was rail thin.

Uncle Ryker smiled at his wife.  “You could afford to pack on a few more, my dear,” he said with a chuckle.

Aunt Terry blushed.  “Oh, well, he has to say that.”

Hero picked up her fork.  Then she dropped it a bit too loudly.

The adults stopped talking.

“Salsa,” Hero said.

“Excuse me?” Uncle Ryker said.

“Do you have any salsa?”  Hero already knew the answer before she asked the question.

“Why, no, I don’t believe we do,” Uncle Ryker said.  “Whatever do you need it for?”

Hero’s mother flinched as if she was expecting a physical blow.

My dad,” Hero said, and she let the words linger, “he likes to put salsa on his eggs.  So do I.”

“Really?” Uncle Ryker said.  “You know, I’ve never heard of such a thing.  Salsa on eggs.  What do you think of that, Terry?  Ha!”  He was talking too much, in a rapid, nervous sort of way.

Aunt Terry looked perplexed.  “That’s a new one, for sure,” she said.

Hero’s mother finished chewing.  She set down her fork, pushed away from the table, and retreated to her bedroom.  The door closed behind her.

Uncle Ryker gave a wary glance in that direction.

“Huh,” he said.  “Salsa on eggs.  Who ever heard of such a thing?  What’s next?  Peanut butter on pancakes?”  And he stuffed a bite of omelet into his mouth.

Hero finished her dinner without salsa.  She helped clear the table while a movie droned in the other room.  The fluorescent light in the kitchen gave an annoying, incessant buzz, and Hero noticed the floorboards right in front of the sink creaked every time she stepped just so.  Streetlights outside flickered to life.

No one said much as Hero helped Uncle Ryker and Aunt Terry wash the dishes by hand, but once the final plate was tucked away in the cupboard, Uncle Ryker smiled.

“You up for a game of Scrabble?”

Hero shrugged.  “Sure,” she said.

“Hope you’re ready to lose,” Uncle Ryker said.

“Are you kidding?” Hero shot back.

Uncle Ryker pulled Scrabble from the top shelf of a closet and dumped it onto the table.

Hero noticed Aunt Terry stop at her mother’s room, knock on the door, and whisper a few words.  As best Hero could tell, there was no response from her mother.  Aunt Terry returned and joined them at the table.

Hero was frustrated with her initial combination of letters.  She mostly had vowels that were difficult to place, but her luck quickly changed.  She picked up a triple word score with “quaint,” and she was off and running.

Even though Uncle Ryker tried to talk tough, he usually came up empty, and his turns took longer and longer as he became more and more desperate to find a word of consequence.

“Hurry up, dear,” Aunt Terry said more than once, “at this rate, we’ll be up all night.”

“Oh, shush,” Uncle Ryker said.  “You mustn’t rush genius.”

But as ten o’clock neared, Aunt Terry had had enough.  “I’m out,” she said.  “Believe you me it takes an awful lot of beauty sleep to maintain these stunning good looks.  Let me know in the morning who won, but please, please, Hero darling, don’t let it be this man.”

“Hey!” Uncle Ryker said.

Aunt Terry kissed his forehead and wandered off to bed.

Hero watched Uncle Ryker studying the board so intently she was afraid it might spontaneously combust.

After what felt like an hour, Uncle Ryker sighed.  “I’m not gonna win this one, am I?”

“Nope,” Hero said.

Uncle Ryker stuck out a hand.

Hero offered hers, and Uncle Ryker shook it vigorously.

“You’re a worthy opponent,” he said, “which will make it so much the sweeter when I beat you in the rematch.”

“Hope springs eternal,” Hero said.

Uncle Ryker gave her an intense look.  “You know something?  You’re right about that.”  He swung his beefy arm across the table and swept most of the Scrabble tiles into the box.

Hero helped him gather up the rest of the tiles and the board.

“You hungry for a snack?” Uncle Ryker asked as he popped the lid over the top of the game box and brought it snugly into place.  “How ‘bout a bowl of granola?”

“No, thanks,” said Hero.  She was still holding out for a glazed donut.

“Suit yourself,” Uncle Ryker said.  He retrieved a carton of skim milk.  He shook some granola into a bowl.  He started to pour the milk, seemed to think better of it, and set the carton back down.

“Hero,” he said in a gentle voice, “I know you’re hurting and you’re angry, and I hope you realize that’s OK.  You have every right to be.  I wish I could—”

“But you can’t,” Hero said.

“That’s right.”

The room was quiet, and for the first time Hero realized the television was no longer shouting.

“Hero,” Uncle Ryker continued.  He reached for her hand, but she pulled away.  “Your mother.  She’s hurting too.  Please try to understand that.”

The quiet was now suffocating.  Hero was afraid to talk for fear her voice would betray emotion.  She was afraid to stand for fear of finding herself unsteady on her feet.  She was afraid to feel for fear of where that might lead.  The room, she thought, was contracting all around her.  She could hear her pulse pounding in her ears.

Uncle Ryker swiveled in his seat to eye the door to the back patio.

What was that?” he said.  “Did you hear that?”

Hero heard nothing at first, and then there came a tinkling, tumbling crash from somewhere behind the house.  Hero and her uncle both jumped to their feet.

“Someone’s in the backyard,” Uncle Ryker said.

Hero tried to look outside, but she could only see their own reflections gaping back at them.

Uncle Ryker disappeared for half an instant, and when he returned, he was wielding a baseball bat.  He moved toward the back door.  “You stay here,” he said.

Hero shook her head.  “I don’t think so.”  She had already located a pot in a cupboard near the kitchen sink, and she clutched it by the black handle.  Her heart thudded.  There was a killer out there somewhere.  Surely, Uncle Ryker and Aunt Terry’s backyard was the last place he would hide.  Surely.

From the look on his face, Uncle Ryker appeared to be considering the same possibility.  He flipped the switch to the porch light, but no luck.  The bulb was burned out.  He turned back toward Hero.

“I said stay here,” he whispered.

“Not a chance,” Hero said, and Uncle Ryker and Hero snuck out the back door one after the other.  Hero’s eyes struggled to adjust.  Shapes and shadows lurked all around, but slowly, slowly Hero realized they were alone.

Uncle Ryker pressed his index finger to his lips and pointed to the side of the house.  He held the baseball bat at the ready and crept in that direction with Hero mere inches behind him.

Another bang and a rattle.  Hero remembered to breathe.  They were almost to the corner of the house.

Uncle Ryker slowed.  He stopped, and Hero collided with him.  Uncle Ryker teetered forward.  He tripped over the downspout and took a wild swing with the baseball bat.  He landed hard, scrambled to his feet, and charged around the corner.

Hero lost sight of him.  She waited.  Another crash.

Uncle Ryker yelped.

Hero heard the baseball bat whipping through the air.  She thought she heard the bat connect with something solid.  Silence.

Then Uncle Ryker began to laugh.

Hero stepped forward to see him, the glow of the streetlights illuminating his face.

His hair was a wild mess, the baseball bat was at his feet, and he was laughing so heartily he was bound to wake up half the neighborhood.  Nearby, the trash bin lay toppled over.  Plastic bags and refuse were strewn everywhere.

“Racoon,” was all Uncle Ryker could say.  “Stupid raccoon …  Should’ve seen the look in his eyes.  I think he was as jumpy as we were.”  Uncle Ryker gaze met Hero’s unsmiling face.  His eyes fell.  He tugged on his beard.  He put a stout arm around her shoulders and said, “It’s gonna be OK.  We’ll get through this together.  I promise.”

Hero nodded and wished she could believe him. A little before midnight, Hero changed for bed.  After she brushed her teeth and threw on her nightgown, she crouched next to the police scanner on the floor and brought the little black box to life.  She closed her eyes and listened to the familiar murmur of voices patrolling the night.  They were out there, she knew, working to keep her safe.  Hero crawled into bed, drew the tattered quilt up around her, and listened to the music of their chatter while she drifted off into an uneasy sleep.

To read more, click the icon below to go to Amazon where HERO is available in paperback and for Kindle.

Chris works as a prosecutor in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he lives with his wife, Sara, and their seven children.  He has a B.A. in communications (print journalism emphasis) from Brigham Young University and a J.D. from the University of Nebraska College of Law.  Chris enjoys music by The Piano Guys, flying kites, and pumpkin pie.  Chris is also the author of Red: A Football Novel.  


I Have A Dream

I have a dream.

I have a dream that my creative works will be judged not by the signing of a lucrative book deal but by the content and their characters.  In other words, I realize I’ll likely never get rich from this spare-time writing gig.  I’m OK with that.  What I really want is an audience.  I want someone to turn the last page of one of my books and feel something.  I want someone to love my characters as much as I do.

I have a dream that 2023 is a seminal year in my writer’s odyssey.  Here’s what I’m excited about:



In a few days, I’ll be publishing a novel titled Hero.  I wrote the rough draft of Hero during National Novel Writing Month of 2017.  That’s right, I wrote an entire rough draft that November, and it actually held up better than I ever could’ve imagined.  I’ve spent a lot of time since then revising and polishing.  I find I grow attached to all of my characters, but the eponymous protagonist of Hero is absolutely a favorite of mine.  I’m looking forward to sharing her story with the world.

“Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once.” —Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene II

While fifteen-year-old Hero Jean Taylor struggles to adjust to a new home and a new school, she fixates on a solitary hunt for a brazen killer.  Intent on cracking the case by visiting the scene of each murder, Hero crisscrosses town on her bicycle until a chance encounter with a mysterious stranger brings her tantalizingly close to the answers she seeks.  But as the death toll mounts, Hero’s very survival hinges on the one truth she finds hardest to accept:  She can’t do it alone.



I often say junior high school is the bootcamp of life.  It’s absolutely miserable – and chock full of conflict.  What a fertile setting then for my latest novel.  Plus, I turned this book into a grand experiment in second-person storytelling.  Whenever I finish writing a manuscript, I think to myself, ‘This is it.  This is the one.  This is the book that gets me an agent and a contract.’  I can’t help thinking that about You Be You, but time will tell.  I’ll be devoting a lot of energy this year to getting the book query ready, and then we’ll see what the future holds.

“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” —Maya Angelou

When you blast an atomic sneezer-cheeser right in the middle of first-hour (f)art class, you’re marked as a cheese-puff for life. Your only hope at redemption is a longshot bid to make the Francis Middle School seventh-grade basketball team. Even though the odds are never in your favor, you’re convinced a mysterious series of geocaching messages is guiding you on to basketball glory.  Or is it?  You decide.  From the author of Red: A Football Novel comes an epic story of basketball, geocaching, and the fear of being a dork.  You Be You: A Novel of Self-Reflection by Christopher D. Seifert.  “Everybody has a superpower.  Only U. can find yours …”



“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” —Joseph Campbell

My writing projects usually start with a title and an end scene in mind.  I’ve had this girl named Sojourner bouncing around in my brain for months now.  I just couldn’t quite hear her voice until recently:

“You might think that growing up on a space station is the epitome of awesomeness.  Well, think again.

“My name is Sojourner Macie Swift, but you can call me Sojo for short.  Everyone else does.  By everyone else I mean my dad and my trusty recreational droid known as Art.

“The three of us live together on Space Corps Outpost 997.  Dad says my mom used to live here too, but I don’t remember her at all …”

There she is. My fifth novel is officially in the works, and I can’t shake this feeling that 2023 is an ideal time to dream.

Chris lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, with his wife, Sara, and their seven children.  He has a B.A. in communications (print journalism emphasis) from Brigham Young University and a J.D. from the University of Nebraska College of Law.  Chris enjoys music by The Piano Guys, flying kites, and pumpkin pie. He is the author of Red: A Football Novel.


Future Rankings

After finishing the first season of Star Trek: Prodigy, I’m here to rank every Star Trek TV series in descending order. Granted, there’s a small sample size for some of the shows, but still.  Are you excited? You should be:


In the category of things the world doesn’t need: A raunchy animated Star Trek comedy show. No, thank you.  (Three seasons and counting.  Please make it stop.)


Haven’t watched it, don’t plan to. I’m sure it’s fine for what it is, but it’s never appealed to me.  (Two seasons.)


I’m probably the only person alive who actually likes the theme song. The show itself?  Not so much.  (Four seasons.)


Too dark, too loud, too fast, too preachy, too much crying.  (Four seasons and counting.)


The characters seem flat, the stories recycled. Nevertheless, Voyager gets bonus points for being from the Next Generation era of shows.  (Seven seasons.)


Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Company didn’t really become epic for me until the movies, but I have to give credit to the show that started it all.  (Three seasons.)


This one is hard for me to rate. It’s different. There are flaws, for sure, but I’m too much of a Jean-Luc Picard fan to not relish the opportunity to spend a little more time with the character. And occasionally the show rewards fans’ devotion with flashes of brilliance. Here’s to hoping the upcoming third and final season, which is billed as a Next Gen cast reunion/sendoff, delivers.  (Two seasons in the book.  The final season premieres February 16, 2023.)


A cool ship, gorgeous animation, and fun action-adventure the entire family can enjoy. This show, which plays as a kind of sequel to Voyager, is an absolute treat with stakes every bit as high as those of any live-action Trek show to date. After we watched the penultimate episode, my eleven-year-old said, “How can it ever be OK?”  I won’t spoil it for you, but let’s just say the ride was surprisingly intense.  (One season and counting.)


DS9 will never be the most beloved Trek show, but its complex, multi-faceted characters and gritty mythology add texture to the entire Star Trek universe.  (Seven seasons.)


A do-gooder captain grappling with his place in the cosmos. An updated Original Series aesthetic. Serious Next Gen vibes emanating from the writers’ room. Here we have Star Trek in its purest form. There isn’t a single dud in the ten-episode first season, and the episode titled “Memento Mori” is as good as anything Star Trek has ever done.  (One season so far, a second season on the way, and hopefully many more seasons to come.)


Iconic characters, including the best captain ever, coupled with super-smart sci-fi storytelling. If we pretend like the first two seasons didn’t happen, I’ll argue with a straight face that this is the greatest TV show (Star Trek or otherwise) of all time.  (Seven seasons.)

Chris lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, with his wife, Sara, and their seven children.  He earned a B.A. in communications (print journalism emphasis) from Brigham Young University in 2003 and a J.D. from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 2006.  He has also watched every episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” more than once.  Chris enjoys stories by Ray Bradbury, starry night skies, and cherry limeade. He is the author of Red: A Football Novel and other books and poetry.



“Dad,” my eleven-year-old daughter called into the darkness early last Wednesday.  “Dad, the bunnies are dead.”

I bolted upright in bed, suddenly wide awake.  “What?”

I suppose I’ve always known, ever since we first brought the bunnies home a year and a half ago, that it would end like this – in tragedy.  A wild animal got them sometime during the night.

I took a deep breath.  I tried to comfort my daughter.  I did my fatherly duty by going out back and cleaning up the aftermath before the other children woke.  Then I broke the awful news to each of them as they emerged.

They were sad.  So was I.  The whole ordeal bothered me.  It still bothers me more than it rightfully should.

We named the bunnies Scratch and Sniff.  As best I can recall, that was my idea.  The kids weren’t so sure about those names at first, but they stuck.

From the start, the rabbits complicated our lives.  They were messy.  Frankly, they weren’t that smart.  We couldn’t go anywhere without figuring out what to do with them while we were away.  We worried about keeping them warm enough in the winter and dry enough in the rain.  A few times, we thought we had lost one or the other of them.

On the other hand, Scratch and Sniff were cute and inquisitive.  They were mostly gentle souls.  (Although sometimes they did get into bunny spats.)  They were long-suffering.  The kids toted them around like stuffed animals.  They brought them inside, dressed them up, cuddled them.

Outside, Scratch and Sniff were happy and free.  They bounded around our backyard like dogs.

Not anymore.  We’ll chalk this one up to important life lessons about love and loss.  Over the course of the last week, I’ve heard the kids make jokes about what happened.  They’re laughing to keep from crying, I guess.

Yes, Scratch and Sniff were just a couple of dumb bunnies, but I can’t help thinking that a sparrow or even a bunny shall not fall on the ground without our Father.

Someday soon I’m sure we’ll get new bunnies.  Our two year old has been petitioning for that very thing during her long and rambling stream of consciousness prayers.  Yes, new bunnies.  We’re already planning how to do a better job of keeping the new ones safe, but they won’t be Scratch and Sniff.

Last Wednesday night, after most everyone had gone to bed, I caught my fourteen-year-old son drift toward the back of the house, pull back the curtain, and gaze into the blackness of our backyard.  He might have been the only one who hadn’t shed a tear for the bunnies that day.

I looked up from the kitchen table.  “You sad about the bunnies?” I asked.

My son shrugged.  “I don’t know,” he said, still staring into the night.  “It’s just kind of strange that they’re gone.”

Chris lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, with his wife, Sara, and their six children.  He is the author of Red: A Football Novel as well as other books and poetry. He has loved several pets over the years. Most of them met tragic ends.