Thursday, July 14, 2005

Another teaser: part of Chapter 11 from Voyage to Xanadu

As promised, here's the other teaser. It takes place as four of our heroes have to get into Area 51 for some reason. Can't tell you why, because that would give too much away. But I thought you might enjoy to see more of the action.




Midnight.

   The four stood in the shadow of one of the trailers in the trailer park, hiding from the light of a mercury vapor lamp. Henry peeked around the corner to see if the coast was clear. It being so, he waved his friends forward. They quietly trotted up to the tour guide’s trailer. The lights inside were out.
   "Maybe he decided against it," Scott whispered.
   "I’m right here," the man’s hushed voice came from somewhere. Henry looked around, but only saw darkness. "Let’s go," the man quietly beckoned. "Go to the next trailer behind mine. I’ve got my car there."
   Scott looked at Henry, and Henry shrugged. The four cautiously made their way to the next trailer and met the man in front of an old station wagon. The man grinned at them.
   "Nobody knows it, but I’ve souped this bad boy up so that it has four wheel drive and can go almost one hundred twenty miles per hour. It looks like shit, but it’ll get us there."
   Henry raised a hand to tell the man to wait. "Scott..."
   "Right." Scott pulled out a small wand from his pocket and handed it to Henry.
   "What’s that?" the man asked.
   "We could tell you, but then we’d have to kill you," Basil joked.
   "Ohhh! I see," the man replied, his eyes flashing.
   Henry adjusted the backpack he was carrying, turned on the device and walked around the car.
   "What's in the backpack?" the man asked.
   "Photography equipment," Henry lied. He worked his way to the rear of the vehicle. A light began to flash on the device when he got to the rear bumper. He crouched down, felt under the bumper, and pulled something off. He held it up for everyone to see that he had found a tracking device. He put it underneath the trailer next to him. Finishing his circuit around the car and finding no more bugs, he nodded his approval and everyone jumped into the car.
   Basil asked a question. "Do you think they’re watching here right now?"
   "Possible," the man said. "But if they have a bug on me... or rather, had a bug, they may just be somewhere cozy watching its signal. I didn’t see any activity out there earlier, so we should be fine. If not, I can lose a tail. Remember, this baby can cook!"
   "As long as it isn’t our gooses that get cooked, I’ll be happy," Scott snapped.
   "Relax!" the man replied. "I’ve done this before and have had no problems. Believe me, you're not the first photographers I've taken out there."
   Henry and Basil, who were in the back seat with Travis, looked at each other knowingly and smirked.
   "Ready?" the man asked.
   "Go ahead," Henry answered. He took his backpack and put it in the back of the car.
   The man started the car. It started very quietly. He grinned, and Henry could see his grin in the rear view mirror. He turned on the headlights, put the car in drive and quietly pulled out onto the highway.
   They traveled down the dark road for a long time in silence, nobody speaking to anyone. The tension was too high. Finally, the man spoke. "Would one of you reach into the back and find a small black bag?"
   Henry frowned and turned around, looking. "Everything’s black here." He fumbled around. "I found a bag."
   "Does it have two straps on the front, snapped closed?"
   Henry felt the bag for its straps. "Yes."
   "That’s it. Hand it here."
   Henry did as he was asked. The man pulled over and opened the case to remove something that looked like a cross between diving goggles and binoculars.
   "Clever," Scott said. "Night vision goggles."
   "Yep. Sure you know all about them." He put them on and turned out the headlights. "Our turn is just ahead." He put the car back in gear and lurched forward into the darkness.
   Henry’s heart started pounding in his chest, while one hand gripped the nearby door handle and the other one squeezed Basil’s shoulder. Basil made an ouch of protest.
   The car went careening through the night, the sound of gravel crunching beneath them. The rollercoaster ride continued for what seemed to be hours until the car lurched to a stop.
   "We’re here," the man dryly said.
   Henry whipped the car door open and stumbled out into the night air, breathing heavily. "God!" he yelled.
   "Shhh!" the man warned. "You never know who might be out here!" He pointed off to the distance. " This spot is as close as you can get to the base without crossing the perimeter. Should get some good shots of UFOs visiting—if any show up, that is." There was a fence there, at least ten feet tall, covered in razor wire. A path fifty feet wide on either side of the fence had been cleared of scrub trees and bushes.
   Travis got out of the car next, followed by Basil. "Think they have motion detectors?" Travis asked.
   The man stared at Travis. "You’re not actually thinking about going in there, are you? You’d be crazy! You'll get plenty good pictures right here. And yes, they have motion detectors." He pointed out into the darkness. "They’re placed two hundred feet apart in all directions."
   Henry smirked as he grabbed his backpack out of the back of the station wagon. "Well, we got gadgets, too. We’ll manage."
   "Ohhh, no!" The man waved his hands at the foursome. "You are crazy! Count me out! I’m outta here! Find your own way back!"
   "That’s fine. We’ll manage," Henry said.
   "Gee, do we get our money back?" Scott gibed.
   The man backed away and leaped into his car. He started it and sped out into the darkness.
   The four stood there in the blackness of night, watching the skies above them. Large clouds were beginning to move in and blot out what stars there were. Scott saw a shooting star blaze a trail across the sky. It disappeared behind one of the large rainclouds. He pointed up. "Look! Aliens!"
   The four laughed heartily.
   Henry shook his head, laughing, and opened up the backpack. He took out what looked like a telescope and looked through it towards the fence. Through it he could see the infrared beams forming a barrier within the fence. He reported his findings. "We’ve got one foot of room to crawl under, more or less. We’ll have to find a wash or riverbed."
   Scott nodded as he pulled out a set of wire clippers from the bag. He also pulled out what looked like four pistols. "Come and get ‘em," he announced.
   The four took their weapons. Travis turned his over in his hand. "We’re gonna kill people?"
   "Only if they try killing us," Scott explained. "Something I cooked up from surfing the ‘net. Well, actually, I modified it with some of the technology our shuttles are based on. At its lowest setting, it’ll just stun them. At its highest setting... it turns their brains into goo. It’s a disruptor."
   Travis made a face, signifying disgust. "Yecch. I don’t want to go around killing people."
   "Think about this," Scott continued. "We’ve got fifty people in there we need to rescue. The com system has pinpointed the Pioneer's tracking beacon, so the people must be close by. If not, well, we’ll just have to take the Pioneer out and fly it ourselves to safety. And those fifty people in there, if they’re still alive, we have an obligation to help them out. Especially your brother. Understand?"
   Travis nodded glumly. "Okay. I’ll do it, but I won’t like it." He holstered the gun.
   "One last thing," Henry said. "Get into these." He pulled out several black pieces of clothing.
   "Oh, aren’t we just playing the part," Scott dryly remarked. He held up his set of clothing and scrutinized it. "Ninja outfits. You forgot the nunchakus, Henry."
   "Get into them, Scott. That’s all I’m asking. It’ll make us harder to see. And the fibers are supposed to hold in our body heat so we’re less easily detectable. The clothes are designed to allow heat escape from only certain places so we end up looking like some kind of animal, not humans."
   "Cunning. I’ve read about these," Travis stated. "Chameleon clothes, I believe they’re called. The military was flirting with this technology about three years ago. They cost a bundle. I take it you used some of my brother’s money to get them?"
   "Yep. It’s your brother we’re saving, after all."
   "Oh, I’m not complaining!" Travis grinned.
   "Come on, people!" Scott urged. He was all dressed up from head to toe in what looked like black pajamas. He sighed. "God. Why is it every time I end up in Nevada, I have to play dress-up?"
   Henry chuckled. "Because Travis is new at this, and we have to indoctrinate him."
   "Yay," Scott rolled his eyes. "And here I forgot my fraternity paddle."
   The four people crept up to the fence. Scott readied the clippers. "Think the fence is set up to detect us cutting through it?"
   Henry pulled out his infrared long-glass and looked around. "Can’t see any boxes on the fence. Doesn’t mean they haven’t electrified it, though."
   Scott shook his head and started cutting a small slit. "No... it’d kill the wild animals around here. Guess just an infrared barrier is enough. The one-foot high gap allows small animals through but makes it difficult for humans. Fewer false alarms. And I’m sure animals bang into this fence all the time." He continued cutting link after link until he reached the bottom of the fence. He peeled the fence back. "Let’s hurry." They passed through the breach in the fence and huddled on the other side. Scott took a small torch out of the backpack and began to weld the links back together. After about ten minutes, he turned the welding torch off and looked to the other three. "Well... we’re in it now. Let’s hurry up and find that riverbed."
   Henry nodded. He waved to the other three to follow him.
   The four ran as quickly and quietly as they could along the inside edge of the fence, making sure they did not get too close to the beam. Suddenly, it started to rain lightly. Henry hoped that the rain that was coming would help wipe out their tracks. The stretch of land was flat for a very long way. Henry kept the eyepiece to his face to watch for obstacles and, of course, a riverbed.
   "See anything yet?" Basil asked, huffing.
   "No, just jeep tracks," Henry replied. "Wait... slow down!"
   The four slowed their run to a walk.
   "What do you see?" Scott asked.
   "There. Fifty feet ahead."
   The four walked to the riverbed and looked around. Underneath where the beam was supposed to be there was a small concrete berm, fitted with a grate, preventing anyone from simply crawling underneath the beam.
   "Shit," Scott stated. He looked around to make sure nobody was coming. "What do we do now?"
   Henry shrugged. He knelt down into a puddle and pushed on the block. It budged a little. "I think it’s loose. Help me push it over. It’ll give us an extra six inches to use to crawl under the barrier."
   The other three looked at each other and shrugged. They knelt down and start pushing. Gradually, the concrete slab leaned over and fell to the ground, giving the quartet about eighteen inches of clearance.
   "Come on," Henry urged. He crawled over the block and managed not to touch the beam. He pulled out his eyepiece again to help the others make it through. Scott and Travis managed to get through just fine, only getting a little muddy, but when Basil’s turn came, there was a not-so-small problem.
   "Basil," Henry stated, looking through the eyepiece, "your butt is one inch too high."
   "Great," Scott sighed. "You just had to eat all those burgers. Now look at the mess you got us into!"
   "Scott, chill!" Basil growled. He laid on the concrete slab, his rear end sticking up too high. Rain pelted him and splashed everywhere.
   Travis turned to Henry. "Maybe if we just get him through real quick, they’ll just think it’s an animal passing underneath? Maybe the rain will help mask his butt crossing the barrier?"
   Henry shrugged. "Worth a shot." Travis and Henry grabbed Basil’s arms.
   "Hey! What’re you doing?"
   They pulled hard and Basil slid through real quick. They all fell backwards and landed in a large puddle. A red warning light started flashing about ten feet away, then immediately went off again.
   "Whew," Henry sighed. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief.
   "Now comes the fun part," Scott stated. "Finding these people of ours. And the Pioneer."
   Henry nodded. "First, help me get this slab back up."

1 Comments:

Blogger Len Bell said...

Kind of corny, but very witty. There are some small grammar problems; but as long as everyone in your audience is not an English teacher, you shouldn't have a problem with it.

"Scott" is definitely the wittiest of the bunch and has the richest character. The other characters almost seem like afterthoughts; but then again, I haven't read the whole book. The "Look, aliens!" line is quite apropos and funny. I couldn't help but laugh when I read it, and received some odd looks from coworkers.

Overall, if the rest of the book is like this (with some better character development), I believe this book has a good chance in the market. I don't know if it'll be a bestseller; but I'm only an assistant to the editor, not a critic or fortune-teller.

9:13 AM, July 17, 2005  

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