Only one man can save the planet, too bad he just died.
A meteor explodes over Chelyabinsk, Russia, 2012DA14, meteorite sightings over California and other states are becoming a regular feature of evening news, and now a meteoric event lights up the Eastern Seaboard and the Internet. What is going on?
Written in 1991 and published in 2010 when significant fictional events depicted therein started to play out on prime time news, my novel, Falling Star, may be something that you won’t want to miss.
The following excerpt from the Foreword to the novel sets the stage for my claim:
Nemesis. Is the impending terrestrial collision with a five-mile wide asteroid flung into the Earth’s orbit by a dwarf star called Nemesis real, imagined, or a handy means of disguising something else?
You will have to read the novel to find out why it is particularly important this year.
You can get a paperback edition HERE.
As you may know, I am currently working on the sequel to my very realistic science fiction thriller, Falling Star, which has received many nice reviews and has been downloaded by almost 30,000 readers. In this sequel, I explore what would happen if a biological computer comprised of alien DNA were introduced into a human brain.
Now, it appears that this technology is not so farfetched as neurosurgeons are exploring the use of micro electrodes that can take over part of your brain.
The following is an excerpt from StarHome Bound, my latest W.I.P
Newport News, Virginia, CSAC Headquarters —
“Did they find the lab technician?”
“Yes sir,” replied Joe Mannington. He had just entered Bob McHugh’s office. “He died of the gunshot wounds; they found him behind the oil tanks on the docks. The fifteen shots he took finally exsanguinated him. The docs tell me that the amazing thing is that he even lived for the brief period that he did.”
“As you know, he was contaminated with some Alowfin that he was mixing with DSMO for injection into laboratory rats. The doctors say that the spread of the alien tumors was practically explosive in his brain. Apparently these things, whatever they are, took over the lab tech’s brain reaching into every portion of his nervous system within minutes of contamination.”
“They theorize that the tumors set up a separate sentient being?”
“Sentient as in a functioning and thinking human being.”
“Are you suggesting that the lab technician was possessed?”
“No, Sir. Not in the classic literary sense. What the doctors are telling me is that the control of the lab tech’s body was done remotely by parties unknown.”
“That’s not funny, Joe.”
“I didn’t think you would think so Admiral. The doctors think that the alien nodules grew and took over the tech’s body. They further think that the neural network of foreign tissue is a biological computer capable of receiving and transmitting signals.”
“So he became a remotely controlled robot.”
“Joe, Mike Liu and his young assistant have been tracing the supplier of Alowfin. They think that it is being produced sub rosa by a South African firm called, iEnzani. The two leaders of the company are white South Africans who share a dubious distinction under the old Apartheid government as chemists devoted to furthering that oppressive regime. One of them had the nickname of “Dr. Doom” because his experiments with psycho-altering drugs.”
“Doesn’t sound like terribly nice people.”
“That is an understatement. Anyhow, Mike thinks that they may be making Alowfin in a factory in Swaziland under the aegis of electronic goods.”
“We should take that factory out.”
“Not so fast, Joe. We need to find out if iEnzani is acting on its own or if it has any help. Mike mentioned the possibility of an alien connection.”
“The Sentinels?” questioned Joe referring to the name that CSAC personnel often used for the suspected aliens manning the mysterious black objects at the bottom of the ocean.
“Possibly, unless there are others and that would be too scary. By the way, Mike mentioned an encounter with a stranger with the palest blue eyes that he had ever seen.”
“Like the guy that I thought was Carlton Messinger in London?”
“Yeah, what is it with these pale blue eyes?”
“Now that you mentioned it the autopsy report on the lab tech said that his eyes were pale blue.”
“His security card and his driver’s license state that they are brown.”
McHugh just stared at Mannington.
I hope that you will consider getting a copy of Falling Star.
I decided to self-publish my very realistic scinece fiction thriller, Falling Star, in August 2010 because a critical element of my story was being played out on evening news.
Falling Star was written in 1991 and for twenty years literary agents and publishers thought that my story about large groups of Russian agents living for decades in the United States, marrying unsuspecting Americans, raising children, buying homes, and holding down mundane jobs was too fantastic to believe, even in fiction. Of course, this all changed in June 2010 when Russian agents in deep, deep cover were found to be doing exactly that in large numbers.
I even had one spy who posed as a gorgeous financial consultant.
Now it seems that my work in progress, the sequel to Falling Star is going to experience the same thing.
Prime time new is reporting the murder of a man on a crowded street in mid-town Manhattan during the busy Christmas Holiday season. In the ensuing confusion following the mid-day hit, the assailant calmly got into a waiting car and was quickly driven away.
Consider the following excerpt from ,y work in progress:
“He was killed by a hit and run jogger.”
“That’s not really funny, you know,” said the third man at the small table in the clanky coffee shop.
“Yeah, but damn it you just can’t get morose. As far as we can tell, Johnson was waiting for a cab at 21st and Pennsylvania when a man in a jogging suit bumped into him. After the two collided, witnesses saw the jogger run off and Colonel Johnson fall to the ground in a heap. He lapsed into a coma and never recovered.”
“What happened to the jogger?”
“In the confusion, he got away.”
“That’s outrageous. Didn’t anyone give chase?”
“No, happened too quickly. Everyone there rushed to help Johnson.”
“Did he say anything?
“Nope, never regained consciousness.”
“Was there an autopsy?”
“The toxicology report revealed a large amount of curare mixed with a neurotoxin of unknown chemistry in his tissue samples.”
“Were there any physical signs?”
“Nothing except for a puncture wound, like a large hypodermic needle, with skin discoloration around it. You know, like a botched up injection.”
“Sounds like the Bulgarian attack on one of its exiled diplomats in London in the Sixties,” commented Mike Liu, who was sitting at the table in the coffee shop of the plush hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, on the fringe of Georgetown.
“Yeah, that’s right,” replied Tom Jamieson, shifting ever so subtlety as he casually glanced about the small coffee shop.
I guess that I had better get this sequel to Falling Star finished before more of it becomes real.
As noted above, this form of attack was used successfully on Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov in London in 1978. He was going to work, when he felt a sting and turned to see a person with an umbrella walking away. Markov continued to his BBC office where he observed a reddish pimple on the back of his thigh. When he returned home that evening, he fell ill and was taken to the hospital where he died three days later. The poison used was ricin.
My good friend and fellow author/cartoonist, Robin Reed called me on this point, but I contend that the Markov incident is different than my book wherein a person is attacked on a busy street and collapses on the spot with his attacker getting away in the subsequent confusion. My friends like to keep me honest. 🙂
Apparently, the U.S. Navy tracked a Russian nuclear Sierra-2 class submarine that was lurking off our shores in the Atlantic Ocean during October. Shades of Red October or, better still, the 1966 movie, “The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming”
On the other hand, maybe this could have been the ultimate October Surprise. Could it be that the old KGB operative Vladmir was taking bets on the election?
The fact that Russians are once again stalking us sure is mighty tempting to this author of a very realistic science fiction thriller about mysterious objects found off our shores and what response Soviet spies had about that presence.
This is an excerpt from my WIP or work in progress that I have decided to rename StarHome Bound. The first volume of this series, a very realistic science fiction thriller called Falling Star has received many great reviews and has been downloaded by almost 30,000 readers world-wide.
The story starts with the accidental discovery of mysterious objects buried deep in the ocean by a navy geomagnetic survey crew. During the subsequent investigation into these objects, a highly classified submersible is lost. In this excerpt, the submersible has been found and is being retrieved by the United States Government.
Off-shore, Kairiru Island, Papua New Guinea —
“Permission to come aboard.”
“Permission granted, Captain Mannington,” stated the young RAN lieutenant, as he returned the salute. The RAN lieutenant was the acting officer of the deck aboard the Bentano.
“Commander Hastings is waiting for you on the bridge. I will escort you, sir,” said the RAN lieutenant as he turned over the Officer of the Deck duties to a sub-lieutenant.
Mannington followed the young officer to the bridge where he was warmly greeted by Commander Hastings.
“That boat yours?” inquired Hastings as he and Mannington stood on the bridge of the Bentano.
“Yes,” replied Mannington as he looked at the Benthic Ranger now grounded on the shoals.
“I guess that it is a research submersible, care to elucidate me?”
“I’m sorry commander; I am not authorized to say anything more than it is a submersible and it is ours. The United States thanks you for finding our lost vessel.”
“What are you going to do now?”
“We have a special team coming to Papua New Guinea that can safely retrieve the submersible. Barring any diplomatic snafus, it should be here in a few days. Once the craft is freed from the reef, an ocean going tug will take it to our base in Guam.”
“But is that necessary? Guam is almost 1,300 nautical miles from here, we can certainly accommodate you yanks in Australia. The South Pacific can be unpredictable.”
“Thank you commander, but we have special facilities in Guam.”
As predicted, a small group of U.S. Navy vessels appear on the horizon a few days later. The USNS Navajo, a Powhatan class ocean-going tug, stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, would take the Benthic Ranger in tow. She was accompanied by two destroyers. Having such fire power to retrieve a simple research submersible seemed extremely curious to the RAN officers on the Bentano.
“You certainly don’t want anyone messing with this tow, do you?”
“I guess Washington just doesn’t want anything to go wrong with this vessel,” replied Mannington. “Can I quarter some of my divers and their gear on the Bentano? There will be five of them.”
“Sure can, mate,” replied Hastings. “They can bunk with my clearance divers.”
“Thank you, commander.”
Unbeknownst to the Australians, the small flotilla was also shadowed by the USS Greeneville, (SSN -772) a fleet attack submarine that was recently commissioned in Hawaii. The Greeneville was specially outfitted to deploy and retrieve U.S. Navy SEAL teams underwater. As the three surface ships approached the RAN group already in place, the Greeneville deliberately fell back and went silent. There was no reason to let the Aussies know that an American attack submarine was in the area.
Lieutenant Eoghan Thorson, USN, reported to Mannington along with his four man team on board the Bentano. All five of the men stood about six feet tall and were lean and muscular. The distinguishing characteristic of the team was their quiet disposition; none of the men except Thorson spoke anything more than pleasantries during the introductions to the Australian clearance divers.
Eoghan Thorson’s team would take the lead in securing the Benthic Ranger with a flotation collar and would check the vessel for seaworthiness. According to the protocol shared with the RAN officers, the team would not attempt to enter the vessel.
The Australian clearance divers were somewhat put off by the taciturn Americans, but chalked it up to the fact that the five man team would have to dislodge and float a “hot” vessel. They could certainly understand that the Americans were probably concerned and extremely focused on this assignment, especially on the potential for radiation poisoning. What the Australians didn’t know was that Thorson and his men were members of the elite SEAL group and were working undercover.
Lieutenant Thorson secured his craft to the Benthic Ranger and his team dove into the warm Pacific waters to examine the vessel and attach the tow harness and flotation gear that they had carried with them. After making sure that everything was solidly connected, Thorson backed off the stranded vessel and inflated the flotation bags. The Benthic Ranger gave a shudder and rose from its bed. Once afloat, two of Thorson’s men dove underneath to make sure that there no glitches and that the bottom of the vehicle was undamaged.
Mannington and the Australians stood on the bridge of the Bentano and watched the operation using binoculars. The Australian officers were impressed with the speed and precise orchestration of the operation.
“Your chaps sure have that down pat,” said Hastings.
“They have a lot of experience at this,” replied Mannington.
“Aren’t they concerned about radiation poisoning? We found some fairly high readings around that craft and that is why we pulled our CDT off the scene.”
“They know the risks; they’ve trained for this many times,” replied Mannington grimly. “Besides, they were given precautionary doses of iodine before boarding your vessel yesterday. Anything they get should pass through their systems quickly.”
As Thorson and his team floated the Benthic Ranger into deep water, the Navajo moved in closer to the action. Eventually, a line was carried to the Navajo and using that line, a tow rope was feed out to the Benthic Ranger. Once the shackle was secured, the dive team’s work was done and they motored over to one of the destroyers.
As soon as Thorson’s team was on-board the destroyers, they underwent an elaborate decontamination procedure, surrounded by technicians in white haz-mat gear. All of which was clearly evident to RAN officers peering through binoculars.
Once Mannington noted that the Navajo had taken the Benthic Ranger in tow, he bade farewell to his Australian host.
“Commander Hastings, please accept my personal and my government’s appreciation for assisting us in the recovery of this research vessel. Now that my dive team has finished their work, I will join them on the destroyer for the journey to Guam. With your leave, I would like to have my men gather the dive team’s belongings and join me on the launch.”
With that Mannington gave Commander Hastings a smart salute and he retired to the launch that would take him to the American ship.
Hastings watched the American convoy head over the horizon. Without directing his comments to anyone in particular, he said, “Damn Americans, it would have been a lot quicker taking that thing to Darwin.”
The departure of the Navajo with its package in tow was also observed by the various and sundry commercial vessels in the vicinity. In particular, a tuna fishing ship had been trolling the sea off of Kairiru Island. As the Navajo disappeared over the horizon, the tuna fishing vessel also broke free from the other tuna ships in the area and seemingly headed north toward Japan.
“Is that your vessel?” inquired the captain of the tuna vessel to his companion on the deck.
As their equally pale blue eyes met, the other person replied, “Yes.”
Onboard the USNS Navajo, Enroute to Guam —
“Captain, we have a problem.”
“I saw the inclinometer reading.”
“I think that the tow is taking on water.”
“What do the deckhands at the towline see?” Ocean going tugs in the United States Navy are manned by a civilian crew with four naval officers in command.
“It looks like the tow is sinking.”
“Shit,” said Lieutenant Commander Joseph Sinecki as he told the helmsman to hold a steady course and hurried to the stern of the Navajo.
Sinecki was joined by his XO and engineering officer at the towline. Sure enough, the Benthic Rangers was sitting low in the water. After connecting the tow, the external floatation had been taken off following an examination of the vessel’s hull integrity. The external floats would have increased drag on the Navajo and it seemed to be the correct course of action.
Sinecki called the bridge on his intercom, “All stop! Radio Guam; tell them we have a problem.”
Even before Sinecki could finish his instruction, the Benthic Ranger started to rapidly sink, causing the towline to go taut. With the sudden sinking of the Benthic Ranger, the Navajo, itself, was in danger of taking on water.
As the blue-green waters of the South Pacific started washing over the deck of the Navajo, Sinecki gave his order.
“Cut the towline — Now!”
The Japanese tuna fishing boat that had been tracking the tow took note.
Royal Australian Naval Base, Darwin, Australia —
“Sir, we just detected an explosion over the Marianas Trench. Sounds like a vessel sank.”
“Get a cable out to the fleet.”
Onboard the HMAS Betano —
“Captain, you might be interested in seeing this.”
Commander Jeremy Hasting took the cable from his sailor and read it.
“Those bloody, bullheaded Yanks. I told them to take that vessel to Darwin, but they wouldn’t listen.”
successful run during which over 25,000 copies were downloaded, my partners, Gordon Ryan, Michael Wallace and I have decided to shelve our three volume thriller box, A Triple Thriller Threat, for the foreseeable future as we explore other activities.
This set explored the world of thrillers from entirely different, but equally exciting, webs of intrigue, deceit, murder, and mayhem. Michael started off with a thriller set in the arcane world of antiquities and the schemes that brazen collectors wove to possess what was not rightfully theirs. Gordon followed with a modern tale of political intrigue written as if it just might be happening at this very minute. My story brought up the end of the set with a very realistic science fiction thriller that left the reader wondering if the story might actually be true.
In Michael Wallace’s State of Siege, Tess Burgess, an expert in medieval warfare, is building siege engines in France, while running a sting operation against collectors of stolen artifacts. Obsessed with the collapse of civilization, Tess’ ex-fiancée Peter’s latest grandiose scheme is a simulated war, like a giant paintball match for billionaire survivalists, but with crossbows and catapults. He asks Tess if she is good enough to defend an actual castle against medieval siege engines. One of the world’s most notorious artifact collectors will be on hand with his own ideas. With these participants, will the play war turn into the real thing?
Gordon Ryan’s State of Rebellion is a fast-paced political thriller that could have easily been lifted out of today’s news. California is on the brink of secession, and those who oppose this drastic political maneuver are turning up dead. Federal Agent Nicole Bentley is sent to discover what she can about the movement and meets up with Assemblyman and National Guard officer Daniel Rawlings, whose commitment to his country runs deep in his blood. Resisting their mutual attraction, they uncover a plot devised by greedy men bent on taking power at any cost. Nicole and Dan find themselves literally in the crossfire between secessionists and those who want to preserve the union.
In Falling Star, I take you on a journey from the abyss to the beautiful deserts of the American Southwest as his hero Mike Liu attempts to crack the secrets of huge mysterious objects buried deep in the ocean. Unfortunately someone wants him dead and he must fight for his life. On top of all this, Mike learns that a revered friend has died. Will the death of Mike’s friend mean that the secrets of the enigmatic structures will remain forever buried in the silt and muck of the ocean deep?
If you missed the chance to get a copy of A Triple Thriller Threat, never fear as the individual volumes are still available through Amazon:
This is the first chapter in my very realistic science fiction thriller that was originally written in 1991, following a series of horrific nightmares and published in 2010 when elements of the story started becoming true:
1967: First Encounter
0900 Hours: Monday, March 20, 1967: Somewhere Over the Atlantic Ocean, West of Bermuda
Buffeted by surprisingly gusty winds for a brilliantly clear day, the propeller-driven Lockheed P-3B Orion bumped along just one hundred feet above the turbulent ocean surface. Creaking squeals of metal rubbing against metal bared the struggle of the aluminum machine; fighting to stay airborne against the unrelenting pounding and shifting forces of nature.
As if the low-pitched groans and twisted squeaks of the anguished metal structure weren’t enough, the harnessed men on the Orion were violently tossed about by the constantly changing winds of March.
Everyone, that is, except the airplane’s young pilot who, while struggling to maintain the Orion on a steady course, anticipated each bump of the Orion as though he were riding a bicycle along a rocky mountain path. The pilot wore a dress hat, crushed by headphones, in clear violation of rules. This look was just how Thomas “Buck” Morrow saw himself. Flight helmets were for sissies and fighter pilots, but then only because of the tight confines of a jet cockpit.
The controls of the airplane jerked and kicked in Lieutenant Commander Morrow’s hands as he constantly monitored his many-gauged instrumentation panel. The white numbers and pointers on flat black backgrounds jumbled together in a profusion of data points. He knew he had to fly by the instruments at this altitude since relying on his senses could be fatal, so he checked the gauges relentlessly, particularly the altimeter and the artificial horizon. All the while he kept a practiced eye on the endless expanse of white-capped, grayish blue water rushing headlong toward him. Observing him, one could easily be lulled into believing that the pilot was out for a Sunday drive. His practiced hand kept the course true, even as his gaze swept languorously over the instrument panel.
The pilot’s nickname in the squadron was Buck, short for “Buckeroo”, a name given him by his fellow officers because of his cowboy antics when flying the squadron’s planes. The squadron’s mechanics in particular cursed Buck behind his back after yet-another aircraft bending mission. It was their sorry task to clean up and tune the Orions after Buck’s many antics.
Buck’s outwardly calm composure was betrayed only by the steady, methodical chewing of peppermint gum, which would abruptly stop when the Orion hit a particularly rough spot of air. His young, rugged face remained passive as he maneuvered the plane expertly along its tricky course. The workhorse Orion was not designed for such low-altitude flying, but that wasn’t Buck’s concern, he was just there to fly the damn thing.
His co-pilot also held on to the controls. He was older and had been in the Navy longer than his Academy-educated pilot, but Buck was the boss and the boss controlled the plane.
The co-pilot, however, maintained a careful watch on the instrumentation, straying every once in a while to glance at the intensely calm pilot. He knew that they should not be flying at this low altitude under such gusty conditions, but that wasn’t his call. He was there as a backup in case his pilot needed help keeping the Orion in the air.
In the compartment immediately behind the pilots, the Orion’s navigator sat strapped tightly into his small seat. The officer’s ruddy complexion was capped with brown hair, in the crew cut style popular with young flying officers. Safely anchored to his seat, the navigator hunched over his table plotting the plane’s course and giving corrections to the pilot over the intercom, carefully enunciating each number and direction heading over the hissing and popping sounds of the headset. Next to the navigator sat a tall, gawky Navy Lieutenant who had been able to jam himself somehow into the small aircraft seat. As the science officer, Frederick Evans was responsible for data monitoring and instrument maintenance.
The atmosphere inside the Orion was hot, damp, and close. The overwhelming environment of the cabin was heightened by the intermingled odors of aviation fuel, the heavy pungent aroma of lubricating oils, the sulfurous vapor of rubber hoses, the sharp smell of ozone generated by electronic gear, and the cumulative sweat of its current and long forgotten crews. More accustomed to the open space of surface ships than the close quarters of this airplane, the science officer worked hard to keep his breakfast down.
He swallowed continually to counter the burning taste in his throat and wished that he hadn’t had that second helping of half-cooked bacon — it hadn’t even been that good, not like how his aunt used to cook it, over a low heat, simmering for a long time. His efforts to hold back the burning taste in the back of his throat was complicated by his efforts to avoid the nausea that came naturally from the hot, confining, constantly shifting and bouncing environment. The steady pulsating drone of the Orion’s propellers added to Evan’s disorientation.
The worst aspect of the Orion was the smell, that damn stink of ancient vomit.
Evans was focused on the cluster of cathode ray tubes locked into the gray metal framework, mere inches from his young face. He methodically followed the multiple green traces as they slowly made their way from left to right. Both Evans and the navigator were securely strapped to their seats, but the wrenching up and down and the side to side movements of the Orion made it hard to take notes and to adjust the instruments.
“What the — What was that?” blurted Evans as he watched the greenish trace on the magnetometer’s oscilloscope suddenly spike upward from its normal baseline level. Instinctively, he marked the latitude and longitude on the strip recorder that ran parallel to the oscilloscope trace.
“Captain, can we run that transect over?” said Evans, trying hard to suppress the excitement in his voice.
“What did you see, Fred?” came the low-keyed voice of the young pilot over the scratchy intercom.
“Something odd; really odd. Like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”
Evans felt his already uneasy stomach violently traumatized as Buck whipped the Orion into a sharp, bronco-busting right bank. G-forces pinned Evans deep into his seat. Despite this, he was able to frantically grab an airsickness bag from its cubicle. In one great heave, Evans made his contribution to the already gamy air of the cabin. His quickness in grabbing the vomit bag saved the delicate electronic instruments from becoming fouled with the remains of a hasty, ill thought-out breakfast.
Buck was good, perhaps one of the best Navy pilots assigned to oceanographic reconnaissance — he could fly a survey transect so straight you’d think that someone had painted a white line on the ocean surface. But, like all Navy pilots used to landing on bobbing corks in the ocean, he wasted no time on formalities.
“Too bad that black shoe has a squeamish stomach,” Buck said to no one in particular; chuckling to himself.
“What did you say, Captain?” said the co-pilot.
“Oh, nothing. Just horsing around.”
“Damn, there it goes again,” murmured Evans, feeling feverish and light-headed, but vastly relieved after his encounter with the vomit bag.
“What’s going on, Fred? Sure you’re not just looking at some chicks down there?” said Buck, abruptly dipping his left wing as if to get a better look. Evans felt his stomach burp at the maneuver.
“No, wish it were. Sorry to disappoint you, Captain. We just confirmed that something down there is screwing the hell out of my magnetometer. We just had one hell of a spike in the readings.” Evans looked over the endless ocean surface, dark grayish-blue water with choppy waves and frothy whitecaps.
“What do you think it was?”
“Don’t know, Captain,” said Evans. “But could we try that transect again?”
The Orion stayed on site, running and rerunning the same transect until Evans, despite his uneasy stomach, feverish countenance, and burning throat, was satisfied that the magnetic anomaly was really there and that the readings were not just the result of an instrument malfunction.
As the Orion made one final bank and headed back to base, Evans stared at the gray-blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean trying to rationally answer the question that burned in his head. Why would his instruments act up here in the middle of nowhere; over the Hatteras Abyssal Plain, where there should be nothing but background?
1100 Hours: Saturday, March 25, 1967: Classified Location, West of Bermuda
“What the Hell?” blurted Commander Philip Kingsbury, USN, as his cabin was violently shaken. The papers on his writing desk were scattered across his small cabin, his mug of coffee, black with some sugar, was knocked off the table spilling onto the rug in the cabin. The captain of the USS John Adams (SSBN-620) had been reading correspondence from fleet headquarters, comfortable that the course his vessel was on was without any surprises. Kingsbury leapt out of his chair and headed to the door of his cabin.
Kingsbury hurried to the Control Room of the John Adams, a fleet ballistic submarine on a routine, but classified patrol in the Atlantic Ocean. As he entered the Conn, he saw his Executive Officer or XO, Lieutenant Commander Raymond Greecen in discussion with Ensign Carlton Messinger. Messinger was visibly shaken, but came to a rigid attention upon seeing the captain.
“Stand at ease, Mr. Messinger. What happened, Ray? Did we hit something?”
“Some sort of turbulence, Sir.”
“Here?” Kingsbury was incredulous. He knew that the John Adams was in a deep ocean patrol and was traversing a particularly deep basin.
“Who had the Conn?”
“I did, Sir,” answered Messinger. Kingsbury and Greecen rotated the junior officers during uneventful portions of their patrols so that new officers could get command experience. This was supposed to be one such portion and Ensign Messinger was in line for his first turn at the “Conn.” While Greecen watched carefully, Messinger had control of the submarine at the Command Center or “Conn.”
“Give me the details, Mr. Messinger.”
“We were on a level transverse and I had just checked our headings with the navigation officer and was getting a report on trim when the first wave hit.”
“Yes, Sir. It started as if we were catching a wave in a sailboat …”
“Mr. Messinger, an 8,250 ton nuclear fleet ballistic submarine is hardly a sailboat.”
“Aye, Sir,” responded Messinger as he snapped to attention again.
“Stand at ease, Carlton. Just give me the facts.”
“Yes, Sir. We went into what seemed to be a gentle upward lift, when the full force of the turbulence caught us broadside. The Adams started rocking back and forth, uncontrollably.”
“Did you run a damage report?”
“Aye, Sir. All departments reported in. No injuries, just a lot of shaken nerves. Some damage to unsecured objects, particularly in the Galley.”
“Any sensor alerts?”
“No, Sir. We didn’t see it coming.”
Kingsbury anticipated that answer as they were running silent in what seemed to be a clear column of seawater.
“Any passive sonar signals?”
“Did you ping for any other craft?”
“Yes, Sir. Immediately after the turbulence. Nothing whatsoever.”
“What do you think, Ray?”
“It felt like the bow wake of a large ship, but our passive sonar gave no warning of any other vessel or any other phenomena, for that matter, in our vicinity.”
“O.K., log it.”
Taking the visibly shaken Messinger aside, Kingsbury said, “Take it easy, son. These things happen. You did O.K.”
Hope you will take the opportunity as you lie on the beach to take a look at my very realistic science fiction thriller and my latest cartoon collection.
Newport News, Virginia —
Jennifer Maybeau knocked on Admiral McHugh’s office door and walked in.
“Admiral, Captain Mannington needs to speak with you urgently sir.”
“Send him right in, Jennifer.”
Captain Joseph Mannington was McHugh’s deputy operations officer at CSAC. He had just gotten some exciting news that he knew the admiral would want to know. He entered McHugh’s office and carefully closed the door behind him.
“Admiral, they found the missing Benthic Ranger from Watch Station Three.” The vessel had gone missing after the attack on Watch Station Three by unidentified forces in 1993.
“In Papua New Guinea of all places. We just got an inquiry from the Royal Australian Navy who had been called to investigate.”
“The Royal Australian Navy? I thought you said they found it in Papua New Guinea.”
“Apparently, the two countries have a mutual assistance pact.”
“I doubt it, given the passage of time.” It had been over three years.
“Any bodies, I’d like to see those boys come home.”
“Don’t know, Admiral.” The Aussies pulled back when they detected radiation emanating from the vessel.”
“I would like you to take charge of the recovery, Joe. Can you pull together a team and get out there immediately?”
“Aye, sir. By the way Admiral, I don’t know if this is important, but when I was a London last summer, I thought that I had bumped into Carlton Messinger.”
“Messinger? How can that be?”
“I know. It was spooky, I have known Carlton since Annapolis and I swore it was him. When I called him Carlton, the person just stared at me and then turned and walked slowly away. That was the weirdest part of the encounter. Carlton’s nickname at Annapolis was “two-hue” because he had one brown eye and one hazel.”
“Well, this guy had the coldest pale blue eyes I had ever seen. Before he turned away, he looked at me for a moment and I had chills run down my spine. It was as though he was drilling into my soul with those eyes.”
“Yeah, that is freaky. Why do you think it was Carlton? Wouldn’t he have checked in if he survived the attack on Watch Station Three?”
“Not after I saw those piercing pale blue eyes, sir.”
“Must have been a doppelganger,” replied McHugh.
“Yes, sir, but it was chilling.”
“How soon can you get to Papua New Guinea?”
“I already dispatched the U.S.S. Thomas Morrow and other assets; I’m scheduled to leave as soon as you give me orders.”
Named for the navy reconnaissance pilot who discovered the first mysterious object buried deep in the ocean in 1967, the Morrow was ostensibly a fleet supply ship. In reality it was clandestinely outfitted with a launching bay for Benthic Rangers and supply robots to CSAC’s watch stations.
“Well, what are you waiting for?”
As Mannington turned to leave, McHugh reached out and touched his arm.
“Be careful, Joe. I think that we are getting into some very choppy water.”