Continued from Chapter 38, here.
And then, creeping in so slowly that it was all but unnoticeable, awareness.
I was… that’s it. I was. Again. For a period, indescribable in every way, I hadn’t been, and now I was once again.
What I was, where I was, how I was… all of these were questions I’d address in a minute. For some unit of time that I can’t measure, I simply luxuriated in the simple pleasure of existing.
And then I noticed where I was, and all of that happiness went straight to Hell.
Dammit. Continue reading
Continued from Chapter 36, here.
We woke it up.
Still knocked down to the ground, I stared up at the huge monstrosity that rose in the place where the mushroom had once squatted. Continuing the plant metaphor, it reminded me of a massive bunch of crabgrass, stabbing up with blades from the ground.
But no crabgrass grew in pale white, or stretched miles into the air, up beyond the clouds.
“Shit,” Jaspers cursed, landing on the ground next to me. “Now what?” Continue reading
Standing there, the too-tight floaties nearly cutting off circulation around my upper arms, I had only one thought running through my head.
Parenthood makes you do crazy, ridiculous things.
I glanced back over my shoulder, turning to look at Brandon. The flippers on my feet meant that I had to do a stupid, ridiculous little penguin-shuffle to rotate, and I knew that, if any of my office buddies could see me right now, they’d be laughing their asses off. I’d be the butt of all the water cooler jokes for weeks.
“Now, you’re still convinced that the pool’s too deep and scary,” I said again to Brandon, hoping that maybe the six-year-old’s mercurial mind had changed since the last time I asked him, five minutes earlier. Continue reading
Continued from Chapter 35, here.
I moved back from the huge mushroom, the size of a small house, that sat pulsing in the middle of the scrub-brush and dusty hills around it like an alien artifact.
“Let’s blow it up,” I declared, turning to look over at Jaspers, standing a few feet away. “If this thing was once a person, it’s too far gone, now. It’s not going to just transform back into a human.”
Jaspers nodded. “Well, it isn’t bloody reacting to our presence, at least,” he admitted. “We can get a few mines placed around it, some Claymores, make sure that when they all blow, we tear it to bloody shreds.” Continue reading
Continued from Chapter 34, here.
Less than half an hour later, Henry and Jaspers reported that we had everything assembled and awaiting my order.
Down the hill from us, the huge mushroom-like object that we’d tracked here from the Blue Diamond facility still hadn’t moved. We’d done our best to avoid announcing our presence, but it didn’t appear to even be monitoring for us. It just sat there, pulsing roughly once every two or three seconds, as we assembled the weaponry we’d brought.
I did have to admit that, although it had sounded like overkill when Jaspers listed it all out, I preferred having it all here. Along with the Stinger missiles, aimed down at the huge mushroom from all three trucks, we also had several rolling mines, ranging in strength from antipersonnel to antitank. Jaspers had the big Bushmaster set up on a tripod and loaded with several thousand rounds of ammunition, and Feng had disappeared off somewhere with her rifle, ready to drop the Hammer of God on any target that presented itself. Continue reading
Continued from Chapter 33, here.
“You know what’s bloody awful?” Jaspers remarked as we carefully drove the lead truck along the ridge, just high enough so that we could check over it and see down the hill on the other side.
“Don’t say it,” I groaned.
He did it anyway. “No bloody air support. Are we really going to keep on rolling forward this slowly, stopping so we can creep up on each hill like we’re in one of those stupid combat exercises?”
I sighed, knowing that I was just making things worse by acknowledging him, but unable to put up with more of his complaining. “So what would you have us do?” I snapped, turning to glare at him. “Just floor it until we find him, and then deal with being caught off guard when we land in a potentially deadly combat situation?”
“Better than this, at least,” he grumbled, glaring out at the desert scrub ahead of us. “That’s all I have to say.” Continue reading
And of course the rain hadn’t let up, Vivi groaned as she peeked out through the window of the taxi. If anything, it had become heavier, sheets of water dropping out of the sky. The whole world looked cloaked in blue, dripping like a whirling dervish got loose in a paint factory.
The taxi driver, perhaps sensing his client’s hesitance, turned to drape one hand back over the passenger seat. He frowned at her over his shoulder, his bushy black mustache twitching irritably on his face.
“Is the Metro Bank, yes?” he huffed. “Problem?” Continue reading
Continued from Chapter 32, here.
“So,” I said in the most causal voice I could manage, my hands on my hips as I surveyed the heavily modified trucks in front of me. “This is what you felt that you needed from the base?”
If I didn’t know the man better, I’d consider this Jaspers to be a happy, carefree, bubbly example of a soldier. “We did have to leave a few things behind, unfortunately,” he allowed, “but we got a bloody good loadout here, that’s for sure.”
“Had to leave something behind,” I echoed. “What’s that, a couple nuclear ICBMs?” Continue reading
Continued from Chapter 31, here.
Sara ran through the house, and I followed a few steps behind. I don’t know what I hoped to find. Maybe there would be some message, somehow left behind, ink splashed on the walls or dust on the floor to spell out words. But there wasn’t anything. It looked almost as if Alexis had stepped out for the day, going off to meet with her friends for book club or a brunch where she’d listen sympathetically to their issues.
If I closed my eyes, I could almost convince myself that she would be stepping back in through the front door, any minute now. Continue reading
Continued from Chapter 30, here.
“Are we there yet?”
It had been a few minutes, at least, since the last time she asked this question. I told myself that this was progress, tried to not grind my teeth together too badly.
“Just a few more miles,” I replied, making sure that my hands remained loose on the steering wheel of the truck. Don’t tighten them into a white-knuckled grip. Sara’s just anxious, probably like all twelve-year-olds get. Continue reading