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An Unlikely Detour
Darkness slowly enveloped me, like I was wrapped in bandages of black. My body floated; hoisted upwards by unseen hands.
I recalled the days leading up to that moment. It started with a thunderstorm… It seemed to end with a storm, a thunderous call of rumbles that quivered against my skin. The sky lit up with violent lights like a hundred camera flashes. The lightning edged an outline of white along every road sign, bush and stone. The black sky temporarily turned dark gray, reminding me of the desolate land surrounding me on all sides.
I was lost in New Mexico, somewhere deep in the desert, not even sure if I was still driving on the highway. If you could call it a highway, it was two lanes and a sliver of side road. The road signs were too generic to give me a clue as to my whereabouts. I would have checked the map but my car’s overhead lights had stopped functioning months ago. I also feared removing my eyes from the road. Stopping on the side roads seemed just as dangerous, steep ravines dropping off, leaving barely a skirt of pavement to fix a flat or wait out the storm.
Driving so long in the dark, I forgot why I was out there and only wished to return home.
But then I remembered; there was no home. This was my final and desperate hope to find another life, somewhere across the country, in another city. There had to be something better than the vise from my last job and the strangling vines from the city that clutched around my throat. It was freeing to let go of everything, but yet frightening… The end could have been worse than the beginning, or the middle.
I drove hours through the rainstorm, the downpour dousing my windshield and blinding me. I was driving slowly, around thirty miles per hour, but I still felt like I was driving too fast. I would have slowed down some more but I was desperate to find some civilization, even if it was another abandoned gas station.
The words on the signs were barely visible. I passed a green sign that had the names of towns that I didn’t recognize, and even then, they were too far for me to reach before midnight. My heart sunk at the prospect of driving throughout the night in the middle of nowhere.
I had nothing to distract me but my thoughts. The radio had died two years ago, and the CD player had chewed up my last CD. My album was still jammed in there, a compilation of my favorite songs, the last of my music before I had sold the rest. I failed to retrieve the CD; I had even attempted to remove the faceplate to reach inside but the CD wouldn’t budge.
The CD player was as stubborn as my last boss. He still possessed several books, movies and objects of mine that he never returned. He feigned ignorance at having them, eventually forcing me to relinquish control over my property out of frustration.
I released everything from that crumbling city, emotionally, physically and anything else. If I had anything left, it was stuffed in my trunk, the only place in my car that didn’t leak. Reminded, I watched the stream of water flowing along the corners of my roof before sliding towards the dashboard.
So the drive was long and obnoxious. There was nothing for me to occupy my mind except the occasional lightning that revealed my path, but it revealed nothing but desert and road. Low lying hills stroked the horizon on my right but I could not see them. Occasionally, I would get excited about spotting a piece of trash; the random object gave me hope. It was ridiculous that a piece of trash would secure my hopes of returning to civilization.
The lack of interesting sights and the constant bombardment of rain was torture for me. It was dull, boring, and making me claustrophobic. I was desperate for a conversation with someone. There was nothing but water and darkness. My headlights were unable to pierce through the sheet of rain; the light was a dull yellow stopping three feet in front of the vehicle. I couldn’t even see the pavement anymore.
Occasionally, I looked into my rearview mirror, searching for another lost soul to commiserate in the unending rain. If I could only find another person struggling on the road, it would make me feel less lonely. I had only the stink of my jeans to keep me company like an imaginary friend. The smell was awful but it was something to think about. I would have spent more time choosing a cleaner pair of clothes but I was strongly motivated to create as much distance between me and the motel.
The rain sounded like hundreds of nails clapping onto the roof. I would worry that it would dent my worthless vehicle. It was a silly concern but I had retained few possessions.
My small car was named Orange Rabbit because its red coloring had faded into a dull orange. It seemed fitting to me; I had an inane fear of rabbits since I was bitten as a child. I didn’t know why something so soft, furry and cute would want to hurt me but it taught me to never assume anything about anybody. It was a hurtful lesson that I blamed for my inability to grow into relationships. This was a silly notion in itself, just because of a rabbit.
I had to stop at a detour sign; large orange and white barricades blocked my continuation on the road. I couldn’t see anything beyond the barricade, my high beams reflecting off the glittering white to blind me. With the heavy rain pooling across my windshield, my wipers were struggling to keep up with the flood of water.
The detour sign pointed right but I didn’t see anything. I looked left as if to check for passing cars. There were three short bushes huddled on the roadside; a plastic bag desperately clung to the branches, whipping in the storm’s harsh breath. Strangely, I felt compelled to save the bag, as if it was a puppy waiting to be rescued.
I looked right; violent flashes of lightning brightened a road that ramped upwards and winded towards the top of a plateau. The white light highlighted the gravel lines from previous tire tracks, preserving them in a copper hue.
I looked left again, trying to find another route around the detour. Even through the heavy rains, I could only discern bushes, a dip into the ravine and a line of barbed wire fencing.
Looking behind me, I still couldn’t see anything. There were no cars; there were no houses. There was just the road sign to keep me company.
I would have stayed there all night, unwilling to take my dilapidated vehicle up the steep climb on the gravel road. Evaluating the ramped detour, I feared slipping off the side, or reaching halfway and then sliding backwards. There were no railings, no signs, there was nothing but a gravel road and tire tracks to suggest it was real. At second guess, it could have been a dirt mound from construction work.
I considered that it was a joke, some country hicks who had too much time on their hands and decided to play a practical joke on outsiders. As far as I knew, they were waiting at the end of the detour to hunt and herd people like cattle, some deranged horror story turned real.
I looked to my phone, and it reminded me that its battery was discharged while flashing red bars. That was depressing. Even my phone wasn’t available to me. That didn’t surprise me; I spent too many hours talking to my mother last night to stave away the fears from the creepy motel owner. His teeth were too bright but his face sagged with chiseled muscles. His eyes drooped like he had too much sleep and couldn’t keep them open.
I didn’t like the way he looked at me.
Resolving to take the detour, in hopes of finding something better than darkness and rain, I drove towards the right, my car’s tires scraping against the gravel to grab traction. I moved slowly, afraid to slip off the edge and go tumbling into a ditch.
The ramping roadway curved towards the right; the darkness gave way from the edges of the corner as I crept. The farther I ascended, the more concerned I became that my car would slip off the side. It was a scary climb as if riding into the unknown, a great beast awaiting me at the top to swallow up the Orange Rabbit.
A copper sheen emitted from the roadway, like steam rising from pavement after a hot rain. The water droplets pounded across my hood like horses dancing across stage. The noise was deafening and disheartening.
The heavy rain created avenues of sludge. Mud waterfalls plopped off the plateau walls. New fears arose in me, being buried in an early grave; I would be screaming hysterically like those single, naïve women from horror movies. The more I dreamt up paranoid thoughts like those, my feet tap danced excitedly.
The storm had seemed to come out of nowhere, as if pulled from the sky, pooled from the deep recesses of space. Like a nebula hovered too close to Earth and spat out the clouds from its stockpile. Unceasing, the storm continued while hovering over the land as if to smother it.
After an hour’s drive up the side of the plateau, I reached the top. I sat idle with my car. We stared at black metal gates with chips of white paint still clinging on the edges. The gate was closed but there was no chain. A house lingered in back, away from the fencing, sitting quietly against the backdrop of storm clouds. A sheet of gray barricaded the sky in a panoramic bowl.
It was not inviting. It was a dark place, glowering in the corner like a reclusive student glaring in the back of the room. You really didn’t want to bother him. I looked to the left and right of the gate, searching for another road. But the detour stopped at the house. That seemed ridiculous to me; someone plotted a detour to end at a random three story house with beat up white siding.
It was so large and dotted with so many windows, it could have served as an orphanage for boys and girls rejected by all prospective parents, left alone in the middle of nowhere so no one would be forced to be reminded that they existed; shunned away so no one would feel sympathy for their pathetic existence.
On the bottom floor, a light flickered in the corner window. I hadn’t noticed it before, but then again, I was concentrating on its shadow looming across the earth, its dark recesses pulling me inside.
I sat idle for several minutes, debating about returning to the highway, even returning to the motel that was at least seven hours behind me. The house wasn’t scary, a simple home with white siding and at least three floors of windows. I could see the curtains pressed against the panes as if drawn onto them.
I didn’t want to leave my vehicle so I slowly drove against the gates. It took longer than expected; my tires spun on the mud but the car refused to move. I feared rolling backwards and slipping off the ledge. The vehicle finally jerked forward and pushed the gates open, just a little. I drove faster and pushed through like puss pushed out of zit.
As the gates gave way, the vehicle skidded forward, almost ramming into a fountain that was buried in mud. Slamming on the brakes helped little to keep me from sliding around. I steered opposite of the push but that only seemed to make the wild turns worse. Eventually the car rubbed into a patch of grass that survived the rivers of mud.
Fearing that the storm would only worsen by creating mudslides, I chose to park against the fence’s corner, far away from the house. Even at concentrated slow speeds, Orange Rabbit shifted erratically. After several minutes of reversing, turning, driving, turning, shifting and reversing in order to push my car against the corner, I was finally parked comfortably against the gate. Too close to the fence to exit the driver’s side, I climbed over the stick to exit on the passenger side.
I didn’t hesitate; I was desperate to escape my car. Using my coat as an umbrella, I rushed outside, slipping twice and almost twisting an ankle while racing through the rain to reach the house’s porch. I even hoped that the rain would wash away the stink in my jeans.
Nearing the house, my heart stomped against my chest; my knees wobbled. For some strange reason, I didn’t want to enter the house.
I suddenly returned to the car while panting unevenly. Every breathe felt forced against my chest. I didn’t want to return to my car but I feared the house. The fear won me out.
by Jax E. Garson
Jennifer Alexander was searching for a new life. She packed her possessions and set out to find a job in a new city. During a heavy thunderstorm, she is detoured from the highway and led towards an abandoned house on top of a plateau.
This house is not ordinary, packed with antique furniture from decades ago. The technology is antiquated. The house appears to be abandoned but there is evidence that someone had once lived there recently.
The thunderstorm drives many people to seek the comfort of the house, a family of three, a manager, a female couple, an old man and a couch potato. The heavy rains strand them there, some of their cars falling off the cliff in mudslides. The house is like a time capsule of 70s and 80s furniture and items, except there does not appear to be any outlets or phone jacks.
On the first night, strange sounds scare the new residents, odd and spooky noises. The following morning, they discover someone missing. After searching the house, they are clueless as to how and why the person disappeared. People are frightened that something haunts the house and seeks out to harm them.
Thomas Dreckerd is the only person that does not believe in ghosts; he is determined to learn the answers to the disappearances and the source of the noises. Jennifer grooms an attraction to Thomas and follows him on his exploration of the house’s many mysteries.
As people continue to disappear, the mystery intensifies. The other residents begin to blame Jennifer. The others turn against her after several days of pummeling thunderstorms continue.
Jennifer and the others realize that they are not the only ones in the house. There are secrets. But something else lingers. Will they be able to stop what is happening? Or will they each be doomed to fate?
This story is set in the Blue Star Series universe but it hangs independent from the epic story. This story relates to a specific marker mentioned in Restoration of Atlantis. It is a haunted mystery and romance with science fiction elements.
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End of the World
The animals of myth and extinction have returned to Earth. The prophecies are coming to pass, from Revelations, to Nostradamus and Hopi.
The Earth is at war. World War III has erupted. Famine and disease is spreading. The governments are strained. Militaries are short on manpower. Resources are dwindling.
But there is hope…
Colonel Poul Flagstaad and the Phoenix have returned to Earth. The governments debrief them and separate the team. As each one returns to their nations, they are immediately sent on other missions. Immediately, they are conflicted, each one struggling with the need to follow duty or to make choices contrary to their orders that will save lives for the better.
The innocent, the poor and the displaced are stranded. Some seek protection at the spiritual monuments of the world. Beneath each monument are portals that can take them to the safety of Fifth World. But there is only one group that can successfully open the portals.
Across the Atlantic, Vice Admiral Gunner leads a ragtag fleet led by Coast Guard and supplemented with military and civilian contractors. Fighting through procedural problems and helicopter accidents, he must guide the Urda’s mothball fleet into the Mediterranean Sea. Along the way, he saves many stranded civilians, collecting them under his protection.
He struggles to find a way to save the civilians while completing his mission.
Poul and his son Knud learn there are secret societies pushing them to secure portals that could reach Fifth World. These societies are controlling the war for their own means. The governments want the portals to manipulate the human race into one New World Order.
Poul needs to make a choice to follow his orders or defy them. He witnesses the suffering of the people and wonders about the morality of denying them a new life in an untouched world, or subject Fifth World to be scavenged for its resources for the benefit of the governments and corporations.
Will the human race survive the Apocalypse? Will the Phoenix rise from the ashes to enact good for the meek of the world, or will they follow orders and subject the people to their doom?
This book contains violence, adult situations and adult language.
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Return to the End
An energy enveloped the Phoenix soldiers, distorting their senses and pulling at their bodies. For a moment, they felt their feet move forward while their brains remained behind. From Fifth World, the Stonehenge and Pyramid merged into a glob of colors, smeared and warped like strings of clay. Their bodies and souls crossed against one another like ghosts passing through an arm. Coldness showered their bodies but they felt warm all over.
From the remaining Special Forces sent to Blue Star, fourteen soldiers survived, landed on Fifth World and then crossed through the portal. More than twice of their numbers had been killed in operations, accidents, Scragg attacks, ceramic warriors and animals.
As the crossing finished, their feet touched copper plating, and their ears heard the rushing of hollow sounds. It took several minutes before their minds caught up to their feet. Their eyes focused on a cloud of army greens and blacks covering sweaty, bruised and tired bodies. Copper surrounded them, smooth and cut into a bell shape. A ramp led upward into a cave underground. Above their heads, a zip cord of lights dangled and brightened the ceiling.
For just a moment, Colonel Poul Flagstaad feared that they had returned to Fifth World, but then Earth’s weight pressed onto him. He could feel it. The feeling was heavy and humid like the looming shadow of an aggressive storm. It could not be shooed away with an arm wave. The stresses of so much pain and anger pushed onto his shoulders.
He counted his Phoenix soldiers, including those that they would have considered enemy combatants two weeks ago. They were all present, except Commander Libertine, Dr. Spietz and Gunner Mech who chose to stay on Fifth World. The Colonel was still dumfounded by Gunner Mech, a combination of two people merged into one individual, and then gifted with some phantom energy. Poul pushed the thoughts from his mind, discarding the facts as if they were reminiscent of a vivid dream. He was glad to return to Earth, to see his wife, his daughter, his house; just to kiss the ground of a civilized world of duty and honor.
He looked to his son, Captain Knud Flagstaad. His eyes were still glazed from the odd trip across space. When looking in the mirror, Poul had always thought that his son’s eyes were brighter than his; Poul’s eyes were dark and brown, and his son’s retained brightness between those brown lines. His son looked about, evaluated their environment, and then led the soldiers out of the bell via the ramp. The soldiers did not consider raising their weapons as they dragged their feet behind the Captain. They could not perceive something hostile at the top of the bell, within the confines of the cave walls. It would have made no difference anyhow; they were out of ammunition.
When reaching the top, they found Native Americans surrounding them on all sides. The eleven Elders sat calmly, seeming to be subdued as if reaching the end of a prayer just before the soldiers’ arrival. The Elders were not surprised, shocked or dismayed. They expected them. For a moment, the Colonel’s fears that they had returned to Fifth World resurfaced. But then he realized that the Elders were Native Americans and not the Petasanwee from Fifth World.
One Navajo appeared to be an officer of law but the Colonel didn’t recognize the uniform. “I am George Ankti. Captain of the Navajo Tribal Police.”
“We’re in a reservation?” Private Beck asked in confusion, still not completely awaken from the crossing. After three weeks on a space station and then an alien planet, the past experiences started to feel like a dream, drifting farther away.
Trying to conceal his offense, Ankti corrected, “The Navajo Nation welcomes you back home.” He maneuvered through three soldiers and reached Fiona Marx hiding in the center. Recognizing her, he said, “Welcome home, Detective Marx. Durst is waiting for you.”
She blew the hair from her face, scraggly brown and blond strands suffering from a lack of bathing and hygiene. She would have never concerned herself with her appearance on Fifth World but then she was embarrassed after returning to Earth. “Durst is still here? How much time has passed?”
Private Beck turned to the concerned Detective Fiona Marx. “Eight years for you but we only stayed for a few days. Like a vacation for us.” The soldiers turned to the jocular Private, curious how he could have a light mood after everything they suffered.
Poul looked to his right. A rock painting was sitting beneath three zip cord lights. The stone was obviously moved from somewhere else. The picture depicted men sprouting from the ground like plants, within the confines of a rectangle. Symbols surrounded the picture; one that resembled a swastika within a sun but the symbol’s meaning was older than the Nazi’s distortion of it. Other people stood on top of the rectangle, following a jagged path towards the right.
Ankti nodded before raising his volume to speak to Colonel Flagstaad in the back of the soldier line. “I am sure your governments are waiting for you. Durst should be explaining your arrival to one of your Presidents.”
Colonel Flagstaad’s heart felt burdened, like a weight was pressed into it. All of the stresses returned to his body as if they were waiting for him on Earth. He focused on a lantern teetering on a nail clubbed into a rotten timber. The light passed shadows across the rock walls. He looked to the ceiling. The cave stretched upward into a small opening at the very top. A sailing ship rested to his left. On a normal day, he would have found the existence of an outdated vessel trapped underground as being unusual but the last three weeks taught him different. The vessel reminded him of the Wakende Draeck, the sailing ship grounded on the shore where Fiona Marx had lived for many years, stranded on a beach outside of the Caretaker’s Pyramid. Nothing seemed strange anymore.
“We’re home.” Fiona Marx exhaled sharply at her own comment. The spoken words were like a towel wiping away the surprise and confusion from the soldier’s faces. Their shoulders rolled downwards, and their knees unbuckled. “Returned to the beginning of my journey.” She looked at her feet and whispered, “It feels wrong.”
Ankti nodded carefully, seeing the fatigue and confusion in everyone’s eyes. He addressed Detective Marx, “You are the first to return. We have not been able to reactivate the portal since your departure with Mech.” He saw Lieutenant Arielle Duperey’s head raise at the name. Her expression drew impatient as soon as their eyes locked, and she combed fingers through her short hair as if to warn Ankti from confronting her. Officer Ankti retreated from her glance. “Did he not return with you?”
The soldiers looked to each other, mystified; they were still trying to remember the last few days. All of them were feeling much the same, a heavy burden of stress from Earth and the lingering memories drifting away like an untied boat drifting into the sea.
Captain Flagstaad spoke up, “Um, Mech is staying behind.” He half snickered before he explained, “He waits for the human race on the other side. If you can get past the warriors.”
“The first few groups of your people were killed by those ceramic warriors!” Fiona reminded the Native Americans. She knew that Mech had warned the Navajo from sending people across and wondered what they were thinking when they sent those people to be killed.
“We understand,” an Elder recognized the warning while gathering to his feet uneasily. He was a gnarled old man, whose gray hairs clung to his back like Velcro. “I am Peta Ptaysanwee. The Mech warned us from returning so we waited. The portal now stands available for my people.” The old man wobbled on his legs as he approached. “The Fifth World awaits us.” As in afterthought, he pulled a cane from behind him.
“That’s ridiculous!” Colonel Flagstaad blurted. The abruptness of his voice startled the other soldiers. The Native Navajo remained still and calm. “If you wish to go, then do so,” he growled. “We need to return to our duties.” He looked across the soldiers’ faces. “We need to bury our dead.”
“A great many dead must be buried,” stated the Elder. Peta Ptaysanwee held a strong grip around the head of his cane that was shaped into a smooth and flat stone. His thumb rubbed across its head as if drawing magic from it.
Something about the Elder reminded the Colonel of the Petasanwee. Both Native Americans had a similar spirituality and serenity. They spoke truths that would riddle the frazzled mind. “What are you talking about?”
Ankti and the old man exchanged looks. Then Ankti announced, “A war had begun. If you wish to return to duties, the war awaits you. I am sure whatever powers forced your people out there will finish them here.”
“I beg your pardon…?” the Colonel sneered.
The old man wobbled closer. “The Blue Star streaked the night’s sky. The crash into China’s Sambus airbase was the spark that set off the gasoline. The world is at war. Thousands have already died. Billions will never make it.” The Colonel crossed his arms in defiance. The old man nodded. “Is the portal open on both sides now?”
No one knew the answer. Everyone looked back and forth, searching for someone to answer. Gunner would have known the answer. Oddly, the person who would have been able to answer the question had been transformed into Gunner Mech, a merging of Edward Dugan and the Mech. They did not completely understand it, they accepted it but never understood any of it because they didn’t want to believe. Their comrade and the mysterious cyborg had changed into something different, a wizard that conjured magic from his living copper body.
Captain Flagstaad looked back at the portal. Its copper sheen became dull as if light dimmed behind the walls. “I don’t think anyone here really knows, old man. But Gunner Mech suggested that it was time for this exodus. I would think that the answer would be ‘yes’; but we did not know how to operate it in the first place.”
“Very well.” The old man nodded his head and walked up the steep pathway towards the cave’s opening.
A few seconds passed before Ankti gestured for the Phoenix to follow him through the opening. “You can leave. Go back to your… nation states.”
The soldiers herded up the slope, their feet sliding and scraping against the rocky path. Colonel Flagstaad couldn’t help to reach out and touch the sailing ship’s hull. A smirk bent over his lips when feeling the raw wood tickling his fingers. Removing his hand, the weariness of the last month was starting to beat down on his body. The mission was over, and he could return to his wife. It was a victory for him but he dreaded the response from his Superiors. He was sure that they would see it as a failure but he didn’t care. It was a stupid mission in the first place, he concluded.
As they reached the top, they discovered a plain of green grass with large swaths of land eaten away by buffalo. Douglas was confused by the richness of the soil and vegetation. The state of Nature was not what he expected for Arizona from what he had read.
“Buffalo. More buffalo.” Private Beck looked to his fellow soldiers for a response. “I think they are following us.”
“American buffalo,” corrected Douglas.
Lieutenant Ehud Shamir managed a light chuckle in response. He had lost two comrades during the mission. All he had left was his friendship with Private Beck. He knew Yosef Barak’s family and was not sure how to explain the loss. He figured that the American and Israeli governments would devise some lies to cover-up the truth. After concealing so many lies during countless missions, the lies were starting to taste like sand. He so desperately wanted to tell the truth to their loved ones, give them some peace; some reassurances of their sacrifice. Their lives had not been lost in vain like a work accident or made-up car bombs that never happened.
Private Douglas was shaking his head. “This land is far more lush than I expected. If we are in Arizona…?”
“You are,” Captain George Ankti confirmed. “The Navajo Nation. This has been going on for the last eight years. Animals come. Life flourished. Plants and creatures that were thought to be extinct or even mythical have been slowly returning to Earth.”
Private Douglas watched the Navajo Captain, and then his eyes drifted towards the Elders sitting in a circle and speaking to their spirits. Douglas felt drawn to that place. He wasn’t sure why that was the case but he needed to stay. His military discipline dictated that he had to return to base and be debriefed. But there was something familiar about the land, almost beckoning like a Siren’s call. He just hoped the calling didn’t lead to something dangerous.
Douglas looked to his comrade, Private Miguel Gomez. He was crying. But his tears were not sad for their lost comrades: Gonzales, Hermes and Ferro. The five Miguels were like an inseparable machine; they were sent on missions together, even when it was simple duties like driving or guarding. They never separated. It was a shared joke among the five of them. Douglas wondered if the loss of their comrades had caught up to Gomez, or something else was driving those tears… The tears separated from his eyes like water crystals, slowly drawing down his face in perfect droplets.
The roar of engines distracted him. In the same direction of the sound, a billow of dust clouds approached from the south.
The Colonel noticed the wave of vehicles crossing the plateau. “Are you going somewhere?” He knew what the answer was but he still thought it was ridiculous. Why would anyone wish to evacuate to another planet? Life would be difficult. They would have to fight against creatures that they barely understood. But he saw no reason or motivation to scare them from trying. If they wanted to chase after a fantastic dream, it was none of his concern. It was only a matter of days before the governments reacted to the information.
Ankti nodded towards the vehicles. “It is time to leave. The Dine are invited. Everyone who wishes for a new start.” He turned to the Colonel. “All are welcome, except those who wish to continue hatreds and wars. The war does not belong there.”
The Colonel’s muscles tensed. “It is only a matter of time.” He inwardly admonished himself for speaking that phrase. He didn’t want to start a conflict with the Native Americans.
But Ankti didn’t take the bait. He didn’t accept his opinion but was mildly amused at his lack of belief. “When the first bus empties, you may take the vehicle to the nearest town. We will point you into the right way.”
“And the bus?” Captain Flagstaad asked.
Captain Ankti shrugged while barely turning his head in response, “Do what you will with it.”
copyright 2013, 2014
by Jax E. Garson
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Excerpt: Space Station Apocalypse
Dangling In Destiny
Dr. Eckhart dangled in the Destiny module. It made him feel safe to wander in there, like a rubber ball bouncing endless in a long test tube. There were no current experiments running inside the science racks but Dr. Eckhart hadn’t come to oversee any experiment. He stared longingly into the window, an unobstructed view from other modules and solar panels. He pretended that on the other side- orbiting one of those many stars- a similar mind from an alien world was staring straight back at him.
Dr. Eckhart wasn’t the happiest American on board the International Space Station, ISS. He was the only American, amongst two Russians, one Swede, two French and one Spaniard. While he would dabble to menial duties, the rest of his crewmates spent their time discussing the politics of the nation states. He had little in common with most of them. Ironically, he had more in common with the Algerian, but he had been rushed off the ISS. The Algerian government was so adamant about removing their man that they convinced China to send up a modified Xian H-10 stealth fighter to retrieve him.
It was strange for Eckhart to see the Xian. Before he became an astronaut, he had been a military pilot for six years. He had a close call with an earlier model during the Gold Rush War. Outside of that incident, he hadn’t seen one in service since then. When he had seen it approach the ISS, a moment passed when his heart skipped a beat as it aimed towards the docking port. Instinctively, his feet had pressed the pedals of his fighter, feeling nothing but the zero G air. Even after the modifications to the H-10, the bird was just as fat as he remembered, including the matte gray paint and blemished red stars.
Over the last twenty years, most of the nations had failed to fund their respective space missions and pooled their resources together into one collective Western Space Administration. By the time the ISS had been completed, it was already obsolete and decaying. The ISS was supposed to be decommissioned several times in the last 20 years, but they lacked the resources to construct a new one and to discharge the old. Just like Dr. Eckhart.
Eckhart had logged the most hours on the station, the same reason that Vice President Finn pressured him to accept another mission. While considering his retirement, he had received a few job offers outside of the Western Space Administration but he hadn’t perused them thoroughly. He knew himself well, retirement would be busy with something if he hadn’t found something to distract himself. He was never prone to sit around and watch life pass by.
The added mission before his retirement never troubled him until he surveyed his fellow crewmates. He had little in common with the younger generation of astronauts, with the exception of the commander who seemed to never retire. She aged gracefully…for a hag, thought Dr. Eckhart jokingly.
During his stay, they had spent their time repairing satellites, redirecting and upgrading them. The rest of the crew surveyed the violent fluctuations in the Earth’s climate. It was hard to believe the dramatic climate changes that systematically ravaged the world. He had lost two houses to floods and one in a wildfire, in the same city. Islands were underwater. Refugees were migrating to any shoreline. Food was difficult to sustain a routine cultivation, especially for a mass of nine billion people.
Something drifted towards the station; a small speck streaked between stars and approached the ISS. It was slow at first, barely noticeable. Its pattern seemed unnatural, excluding a random asteroid. His first thoughts concluded that it was another shuttle. He couldn’t remember anything scheduled for the next two days. No satellite interception or re-supply spacecraft were scheduled for rendezvous.
Dr. Eckhart floated towards the closest hatch and plucked the computerized clipboard from the wall. Rechecking the schedule, he thumbed through pages on the computer pad. He found no mention of the interception of a satellite for several days. He looked again through the porthole. As it got closer, he considered that it was the reflection of the ISS, but he knew that the windows had been treated with a non-reflective material. The object was real, and it was moving fast. Too fast.
“What is that?” One of the French scientists said from the other side of the module. His mustache twitched as he beckoned his fellow crewmates to come to the window.
There was something odd about it. It looked older than the ISS. Its components, the modules, the solar arrays, even the umbilical attachments were human-made but they seemed older, rusted and outdated. Its solar panels were flat-faced, unlike the newer convex panels that were replaced on the ISS, a concave glass designed to increase the photon exposure to the panels. The rogue station had thrice the number of voltaic solar arrays, making the station appear like a floating dandelion seed.
The scientists crowded into the Destiny module and quickly gawked at the monstrosity of metal hurtling towards them. Their fingers pressed against the glass as if they could touch the rogue space station. Using a handkerchief, the Spanish scientist wiped the smeared fingerprints from the window before blowing his nose.
“Is it Chinese?” asked the Russian.
“Are there any left? Wasn’t one destroyed and another abandoned? Drifting in the middle of space?” The Spaniard’s eyes were permanently attached to the window as he spoke.
The Russian scientist winced his right eye. “Lóngmén Shān was destroyed. Retaliation for our blessed motherland, for what they did to our comrades on the Aries.”
“There was no retaliation. It was an accident,” said the Swede.
The second Russian defended, “It was no accident! There was an Afghan on board.”
“That doesn’t mean he sabotaged the MPCV. There would be no reason to prevent it from reaching Mars.”
Commander Libertine flew passed Dr. Eckhart intending to join the crew on the opposite side of the module. Realizing it would have been impossible to catch a clear sight of the station, she turned back and joined the isolated American. She rotated upright and grabbed the clipboard from his hands as if scolding a child who was holding an axe. Her short hair was graying, her face showed sharp lines on the edges of her cheeks but she still retained a womanly handsomeness.
When she announced information to the crew, it always sounded like orders in her husky tone. “Whatever it is, it’s new. We need to report it. Watch for details as it passes. Anything might be useful to help us understand it. I have already contacted the governments. They are a flutter with questions and ideas. They’re chasing their tails and hissing accusations across their solid oak desks. We’ll have to wait until they settle down before we get a clear message from them. But for now, this is classified. No letters to home about this.”
“How do we know that? Can’t it be one of the other ones?” the Swede insisted.
“Tiangong sits in a museum, too big to return to space. They over-extended her structure and salvaged some of the modules for the Dìhuáng. The Dìhuáng remains abandoned. It drifts on an aggressive elliptical orbit. Most of the time, it is too far for any vessel to reach it. Once every other year, it can be boarded and used for a limited time. Last time, they tried to correct the problem and failed. The failure was blamed on the rigged pieces of the Tiangong. The pieces are too fussy together.”
The Spaniard sniffed his nose and pressed the handkerchief to it. “Another theory is something knocked it from its orbit on Dec 21, 2020.”
“I remember that. It was a big hype about it being a sign of the end of the world. Miscalculated from the Mayan date in 2012,” the Swede stated.
“Yeah, people can be real stupid. Anyhoo, the Dìhuáng is not scheduled for another nine months,” Commander Libertine assured.
“Certainly overcompensating with stations.” The Russian chuckled.
“They made them in bulk. Plenty of room for failure and open for a higher potential of success with the many over one.” Commander Libertine scrolled through the clipboard’s pages.
“The Xióng’er Shān is being built. It’s the only one left. Their finances may not allow them to finish,” Eckhart added and then stabbed a finger into the glass. “But that’s not it! It looks too old. Like it was built in the 90s.”
“It looks American,” the Russian said.
“That’s not ours.” Eckhart felt compelled to defend his nation’s sake as the only representative on board. “It’s not Skylab, but it looks similar to some of the designs. But that would put it in the 70s. And the further back we go, the more ridiculous it sounds.”
“Some secret operation perhaps? That your nation has not exposed?” accused the Russian.
“Not likely.” Eckhart twisted his head at an angle as the station hurtled closer. “The power is off.”
“It is at a strange angle. I find it unlikely that it has been orbiting at that steep of a rake. If it has passed our planet, like the Dìhuáng, a few somebodies would have spotted it with a pair of binoculars.” Commander Libertine came so close to the window, her nose touched the wall.
Dr. Eckhart snorted. “I was more concerned that it was going to hit us.”
“Are the cameras working?” the Russian asked.
“Actually I turned them off,” Commander Libertine answered.
“The internet connection for the world astronomy classes. The entire world would have seen it! It didn’t take long for the governments to agree that I should shut them off.”
“Someone get a camera,” the Spaniard demanded.
While the crowd of scientists were fixated with the station, the Swede became preoccupied with a nearby computer. He was typing away when he aggressively tapped a monitor as if to convince the computer that there was a mistake. “Ma’am, I’m getting a radiological alarm.” He added with some definition in his tone, “A hot one.”
by Jax E. Garson
Copyright 2011, 2013, 2014
Earth is on the verge of World War III… China has annexed Taiwan and other islands. Arab League has ousted the people of Israel, sending them away in ships. Militaries mount and prepare for war.
Year 2040, a space station appears in Earth‘s orbit. The station is twice the size of ISS and constructed with modules that are similar to Skylab and MIR. Confronted with the mysterious station built in the 20th century, the Western Space Administration sends a Special Forces team to investigate. But there is someone else interested in the station, backing the enemies of the west. It becomes a race between the western powers and the Chinese, Arab League and African Union.
Colonel Flagstaad is given command of a ragtag team of Special Forces. They train quickly for an operation in space with varied representatives from France, Great Britain, Russia, Israel, Denmark, America and Mexico. Even a dog! The Colonel must grit his teeth while training along side a daughter-in-law who hates him, a doctor who irritates him, and a Special Forces team of silly fools.
An imposter walks among them.
What are the answers to this mysterious station? Is it the sign of the end of the world? Will this race to secure the Blue Star station spark the beginning of WWIII?
Contains: adult themes, language, sexual terms and violence
Watch this Trailer: http://youtu.be/ZgHEze3zRIQ
military science fiction, end of the world, end times, science fiction, sci fi, syfy, one percent, climate change, 99 percent, economic collapse, jax e garson, kindle, ebook
Available on paperback: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1468041495
After the Earth was ravaged by wars, the governments collapsed and the corporations thrived. Humanity evolved with animals, converging human and animal DNA together making the breeds. Robin Luddites become crime bosses that hire contracts to balance out the corrupt corporations.
In a world where everyone is either a criminal or a victim.
Darius Jones returns to Dallas to investigate the deaths of his brothers. After Darius’ supposed death; hiding for over ten years, he has to navigate through corporate corruption to find the killers. He assembles an unlikely crew to achieve his goals and runs into trouble every step he takes. The mystery reveals secrets to his own past that brought him to his current fate.
Gus Sips is a naive Loader, looking for someone to hire him for criminal jobs.
Wimpy is an old-school grunt; an arrogant mercenary who lives and breaths the chaotic gun-toting, blood soaked streets of the dying cities.
Dr. Steiner is a quirky Tech Farmer, with little business and poorly run staff.
Magis Dern is a loud mouthed tool with little ambition but varied experience.
Tu Fasse is a slick, clever woman; an escort on the side and a ruthless contract during the day.
With this team of misfits, it seems doubtful that Darius will come out of it alive but he has to try… because Gerrick was family.
This contains adult material, sex, violence, language and adult situations.
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