Genesis Earth: Armageddon
Genesis Earth is a trilogy of books that document the plight of the peoples of the Earth as she faces a mighty battle of superpowers rarely glimpsed by mankind. #God #Chistian #Mythology #ChristianFictionm #Readers #BookLovers
Genesis Earth: Gods and Devils
The small group is traveling trying to find others, trying to find the scope of the damage and the survivors… #God #Chistian #Mythology #ChristianFictionm #Readers #BookLovers https://books2read.com/b/3LxOVw
Genesis Earth; the Roads out of Eden
He was sure now, that he had somehow become trapped in this dead body. Which was bad but was not that bad. It meant that he could maybe exact a small amount of revenge… #God #Chistian #Mythology #ChristianFictionm #Readers #BookLovers https://books2read.com/b/b6GEz0
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Genesis Earth: Armageddon
By George Dell
Original Material Copyright © 1976 – 1984 – 2009 – 2012 by Dell Sweet
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This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual living person’s places, situations or events is purely coincidental.
This novel is Copyright © 1976 – 1984 – 2009 – 2014 by Dell Sweet Publishing. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the authors permission.
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Genesis Earth: Armageddon
First, let me caution you on the length of this foreword, it is long. I apologize, but I follow the thought to where it goes, and this one went quite some way. Feel free to skip past it, it contains nothing that is absolutely germane to the story that follows. If, on the other hand, you are like me and you like to know the why of things, read on…
I recently published a story in a magazine and had a conversation with the editor about writing and how it works for me. I said that what I do is take a mental outline of what I want and go from there. I usually commit those same ideas to paper. I don’t usually publish short stories in magazines, but the process was interesting and made me put some real thought into the interview answers.
It’s pretty simple to have an idea, or a storyline. We all get them, but that doesn’t write the story. You have to do that, and the first thing that you have to do is believe in what you are writing. If you don’t believe in it no one else will because you will not be able to convince them it is real or viable. For instance, if you want to write a zombie story, but you have no faith that you can, you more than likely won’t ever write the story because no matter what you do write, you will not feel it, believe in it, and so you will continue to reject it until you hit upon something you do believe in; or give up entirely.
I don’t know how you write, but the writer friends that I have talked to have all been in that place where the words stopped, or the phrasing wont come. The thing is, it doesn’t matter. And the reason it doesn’t matter is because you are allowing yourself to get caught up in all the trivial things of your proposed story, so much so that you have frozen your creativity. You have no story because you are not allowing yourself to write it. You have dammed up that stream. Stopped the flow of information. What you need to do is just write, and there are a few reasons for that.
First: Write it because writing moves you past that initial word on paper place. Just write. It doesn’t matter if it’s misspelled, it doesn’t matter if the punctuation isn’t right, it doesn’t even matter if you have no idea where you are going with the story, even if it seems that it is not adhering to your outline. Just write it. Let it flow. You can fix all of the other stuff later. And you wrote the idea down, so if this story coming to you is not the story you wanted, write it anyway. It’s a gift. Take it. Write the other story some other day.
Second: Write it because the words will disappear if you don’t get them down on paper. I have heard many writers say, “I had better write this stuff in my head down on paper before I lose it.” or “I had this story in my head, I should have written it down, I didn’t and now it’s gone.” I have never heard a writer say, “I guess I’ll write this story down that I have stored in my head from two days ago.” They don’t say that because it is gone, so write it down.
Yes a story idea can get in your head and be there for months. Drive you crazy. But that is the idea for a story, not the story itself. The idea without direction, and that is not what I am talking about. I am talking about sitting on the couch watching TV, or driving to work in your car, and suddenly an idea hits you and goes past that and starts to formulate into a story, and you know that it is is ready to be written out…
So here is this guy and one day the world as he knows it ends. The Earth stops being predictable, if it ever really was. The buildings, houses, and roads buckle and are consumed by the Earth in places. Earthquakes hit and destroy nearly everything he knows. And just like that his life is completely changed forever. I wonder what he would do?
It took me several tries and forty years to write that story out. Most of that was because I left for the streets at fourteen and spent the next two years living there. From there I went into the service. From there I became married, and then life took over. But the need to write that story never stopped. I wrote three books about it that no one ever saw, and then I lost those books for almost 30 years.
The note above was written in 2009, me rethinking the earlier books I had lost. It made me write it out again, and it became another book. As I followed that need to write that story out of me it turned into dozens of composition notebooks full of other manuscripts, short stories, plays, lyrics, millions of words that I finally realized I could write out of me.
You see writing is not about anyone, but you. Sure, the popular authors will say things like “I wrote this one for the fans.” And in some ways that is true, but in all the ways that matter it isn’t true at all. You wrote it because it was in you and it needed to be out of you so you opened up that doorway between your mind and your form of expression and you wrote it out of you. Gave it a life. Set it free. It doesn’t matter if ten thousand people hate it. If one likes it? That will make it all worthwhile. So it was for no one except you. It was because it was there and it was time for it to be birthed and you birthed it. The fans just gave you the ability to have an audience to read it.
This story is the original unpublished version of Earth’s Survivors. Not the story that became a series about the rise of the dead. There is not one Zombie in this story. This is a story about people struggling to survive.
When I was in the process of publishing this book, it was the first thing I had published in more than thirty years, someone said, “You know, publishing has changed. This is a good book but it probably will never sell a single copy because it doesn’t have zombies or vampires or werewolves in it.” That bugged me. I slipped back into that anxiety mode most writers find themselves in when they first publish… The editors are cutting out this and that, changing this scene, deleting this character, it isn’t what I wrote any longer… That sort of stuff.
I should have known better because I had already published years before and gone through all of that, and never published again because I hated the process so much. I saw this new self publishing as an opportunity to publish something my way: The way I wrote it.
All well and good, but the thing is that some editors, friends, people in your circle really do know better than you do. So I yanked this book, went back, wrote zombies into the plot line: Had a blast doing it, and then published it.
It took off, and I hated it. I felt like I had succumbed to the temptation to go for the cash, lost faith in myself that I had a written a good book that could have made it without zombies/vampires/werewolves and sold out. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed writing a zombie series, but this series of books was not written as a zombie vehicle. It was written as a series about people picking up the pieces of their world and starting over. It was my need to get this story out of me that made me finish this original story when there was no market for it. When Earth’s Survivors was a going series with the un-dead center stage.
Does that mean you will like it? Maybe. If you like good characters and a good storyline you may. It’s up to you. I wrote it because it was in me and it needed to be out of me. I wrote it because it was what was given to me to write by whatever Gods are up there passing out stories, all those years ago. Here it is, and I will continue with this series publishing all the books that were written for it, and then never published. Yes, even if it is just for myself…
At a large gravel pit on the outskirts of Glennville, New York, Gary Jones carefully maneuvered the wide mouth of the loader bucket over the dump box of the truck, and pulled back on the lever closest to him to release the load. Ain’t this something, he thought as he slowly topped off the dump box, barely 10 AM and we’ve already sent out twenty-seven truckloads of gravel to the base.
Six men out sick, and another forty truckloads to deliver before five tonight. What in hell are they doing with all this gravel? He wondered. It was a question he had asked many times before, and still had not gotten an answer to. Uncle Sam paid well though, and on time to boot, so he guessed he probably shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. He signaled the driver, and he pulled away with a whoosh of air as he released the brakes. Another dump truck lumbered up to take his place, and he pushed the questions out of his mind as he began filling the box.
– 2 –
Far below the small city of Glennville New York, Richard Pierce sat working before an elaborate computer terminal. He had just initiated the program that managed the small nuclear power plant hidden deep below him in the rock. A small handset beside the computer station chimed, and he picked it up and listened. He did not speak at first, but as he listened a smile spread across his face. “Very good,” he said happily, when the caller was finished, “keep me advised.” He set the small handset back into its cradle and turned his attention back to the screen in front of him. The plant had powered up just as it was supposed to, no problems whatsoever, and that made Richard Pierce extremely happy. Two more days tops, he thought, and then maybe I’ll get out of this dump.
He supposed he should feel honored that he was even here. It was after all one of the biggest projects in the country, albeit top secret, but he could not help the way he felt. He was close to a mile underground, totally cut off from everything and everyone, and he hated it. If he had a choice, which he had not, he would never have come at all. But he had written the software that handled the power plant, as well as several other sections of the underground city, and that made it his baby. There were a couple of small bugs, mainly due to the fact that no one had been allowed to know what the entire program was supposed to do. The way the rewrites were going however, it looked as though he would not be stuck here anywhere near as long as he had originally thought, and that was something to think about. He had begun to feel that he would never leave this rock-bound prison and wouldn’t that be a real bitch.
In Seattle Washington, Harvey Pearlson sat at his wide mahogany desk and talked quietly into the phone.
The extravagantly appointed office was located on the top floor of one of Seattle’s most highly regarded newspapers. Pearlson had worked his way up from the bottom, after starting as a carrier in 1955, sixteen floors below.
“No,” Pearlson said quietly, “I don’t want to know. I just thought that maybe it could be handled in some other way.” He listened for a few minutes nodding his head as he did.
“Yes, yes I see, but?” He rubbed his eyes as he listened. “No, I don’t,” he said emphatically, “I happen to like him a great deal, and if you give me the time…” The voice on the other end of the line cut him off, and he once again listened quietly.
“I see,” he said, once the voice had finished speaking. “No, I do understand. I won’t. Do you think I’m that stupid? Give me a little credit here, will you. You wouldn’t even be aware of it if I hadn’t called you in the first place, for Christ’s sake.” He listened for a few seconds longer, then hung up the phone.
There was no reasoning with Weekes, he told himself, and he was going to do what he was going to do. For Frank’s sake, he wished he had never called him at all. Too late now though, he told himself, far too late. After all, he had done his best to swing Frank away from the story, but Frank Morgan was not a man who could be easily swayed, and he told himself, unless he wanted to find himself in the same circumstances, he had better just shut up and let it go. He reached over and thumbed the intercom button.
“I’m going to be out the rest of the day, Cindy, and if Frank Morgan comes looking for me before he leaves, you don’t know where I am, correct?”
“Anything important comes up you can reach me on my mobile, Cindy.”
“Yes Sir, Mister Pearlson.”
Harvey Pearlson picked up his briefcase and left the office. Whatever Weekes had in mind, he wanted nothing to do with it, and he didn’t want to be available for any sort of questions that might arise either. It was unfortunate enough that he had started the whole ball rolling; he had no intention of sticking around to see where it ended up stopping. No, he told himself, the lake was the best place to be. The only place to be, and he intended to stay there until the whole thing blew over just as he had been told to.
He took his private elevator down to the garage area, walked across to his Lincoln, and drove out of the parking garage, turning right on Beechwood. He passed a hooker standing at the corner of the building and thought just how badly Beechwood Avenue had gotten as of late. He would have to speak to the security people when he got back from the lake. Putting up with the hookers that had taken over the avenue at night was one thing, but broad daylight? Standing right in front of the frigging building? No, something would have to be done, and if the security people couldn’t take care of it, maybe he’d speak to Weekes. After all, he owed him one now, didn’t he? He pushed the thought away, signaled, and pulled out onto the loop. In an hour he’d be at the lake, and then he could forget about the whole mess, for today at least. He eased the car up to sixty and leaned back into the leather upholstery to enjoy the drive.
Ira Pratt stared at the squared board lost in thought. If he moved to the right, he would surely lose two checkers. Maybe, he thought, as many as four. Moving to the left would not help either. There was actually only one semi-safe move to make, and that was straight ahead. But even that move could put a hurtin’ on his few remaining checkers, he thought. Nothing to do for it though, but move it, and see what happened.
He stared into the thoughtful eyes of the older man across the table, trying to read them. No good, he was a master at hiding his thoughts. His face was calm and carefully composed, not so much as a smile played at the corners of his mouth.
Ira gave in and decisively moved one checker forward and then leaned back into his chair, waiting to see what the older man would do.
“Well, I see you have left me little choice, Ira,” the older man said. He picked up one of his own checkers and carefully slid it forward as he finished speaking.
“That was what I was hoping you’d do,” Ira said grinning as he jumped two of the older man’s checkers.
“No doubt about it, Ira, you’re just too good for me,” the older man replied. He smiled widely, and pleasantly, and then changed the subject. “How about we take a short break, Ira, maybe go for a walk. You must get tired of beating me all the time?”
“Well,” Ira replied, “I kind ‘a get the idea you let me beat you sometimes, but sure, I wouldn’t mind a break at all.”
“I would never let you beat me, Ira. It is a good thing we don’t play poker though. I might gamble the entire kingdom away trying to beat you,” the older man replied laughing. “Besides I have my reasons for wanting to take a break right now. I see it like this, if you and I take a break, maybe once we return your concentration will not be so keen, and then maybe I will win one of these games for a change.” He rose from the small table as he finished speaking. “Ready, Ira?”
Ira closed his eyes. He could have kept them open, and a few times he had, but the trip was unnerving enough without adding the visual aspects to it. Not that there was anything to see except darkness for the split second they would be traveling, he thought. Still…
He opened his eyes. They had actually only been shut for less than a second, but in that space of time they had traveled a considerable distance, or at least seemed to have. The small table that had been before him was gone, replaced by a lush green valley. A calm blue river flowed across the valley floor far below. He followed it with his eyes as it wound away in the distance.
“It’s beautiful,” Ira exclaimed, “but will it still be…?” He let the question trail away.
“Yes, it will, as will several others, Ira. But it need not be this place, there are so many to choose from,” the older man informed him. “Come.”
Ira blinked, and when he opened his eyes they were standing in a high mountain meadow. Wildflowers covered the meadow, and a large, summer-fat herd of deer grazed peacefully among them. A large buck raised its heavily antlered head and stared at the two men, but perceiving no threat went back to grazing the field.
“This is also beautiful,” Ira said quietly.
“It only matters where, Ira. There are so many. There were even more, and there will be again.”
“I’ll have to tell Cora about this place, and the other,” Ira replied, still watching the deer graze.
“You should, Ira. In fact, there will be many things to tell her. Things she will need to know, Ira.”
“Yes. The time is short.”
“I was afraid of that,” Ira said slowly.
“There is no reason to be afraid, Ira.”
“I know that. I guess I mean afraid, as in I wish it didn’t have to happen.”
“I knew what you meant, Ira, but it is necessary. As much as I would wish that it was not, it is.”
Ira nodded his head slowly. “I know.”
The two men stood in silence for several minutes, watching the deer in the field. It seemed so peaceful to Ira, a good place to be, a good place to live, and that made it harder to accept that most of it would soon be gone. The older man spoke, breaking the silence that had fallen between them.
“Would you like to look at some others, Ira?”
“I believe I would at that. I think I’d like to look at as much as I kin before it’s gone, I guess. Does that sound wrong?”
“No, Ira, it does not, I too wish to look… Ready?”
Ira nodded but did not close his eyes. Darkness enveloped him, and a sense of speed. The absence of light was complete; he could only sense the presence of the older man beside him as the traveled through the dark void.
– 5 –
April 11th, 1952
Ira Pratt drove the old tractor carefully down the side of the slippery hill. It had been raining for close to three days, and it didn’t look as though it was going to let up right quick, he thought.
The rain was causing all sorts of problems, and not just for him, he knew, but for the cows as well. The biggest problem was the creek, and the only way the creek wasn’t going to be a problem was to unplug the thing.
He sat on the tractor as it slipped and slid its way down the hill through the gray sheets of rain. Ira let out a sigh of relief once it reached the bottom. For a second there, he had been sure both he and the old tractor would end up in the creek, but God was smiling on him today.
He slipped the worn gearbox into neutral and sat looking at the rush of muddy-brown water. The creek was a good four feet above the point of flooding, and he wasn’t sure it was a smart move to try to put the tractor in that. The tractor was sure footed, but so was a goat, and he’d seen more than one goat end up on its ass. But there wasn’t anything else for it. If he didn’t move the trees that were clogging the creek, and flooding it out and over the banks, then he might as well just sit back and watch a couple more cows drown.
Ira knew cows, pretty much anyhow, and everyone that he and Cora owned were just as stupid as any other cow he’d ever seen. The cows didn’t understand flooding, they didn’t understand how the water could weaken the banks, and so the big dummies just walked on down to the creek, just like any other day, and got swept away when the bank crumbled under their weight. Three days of rain and four dead cows, and though cows were stupid, they weren’t cheap.
Ira sat in the pouring rain and stared at the creek. Normally, the creek was no more than eighteen inches deep at the most. Course normal wasn’t what it was today, he thought, and wishin’ it wouldn’t make it so. It was his own damn fault, he reminded himself. Two of the trees that were clogging it had been there last summer, and hadn’t he promised Cora he’d take ’em out before fall? He had, but he hadn’t, and so here he was in the pouring rain fixin’ to half kill himself to get ’em out.
Looked like the best way, Ira thought, might be to try and snag the biggest one right from the bank. He squinted as he shielded his eyes to peer through the rain. One thing was for sure, sittin’ on the tractor and thinkin’ about it, wasn’t gonna get it. Reluctantly, Ira climbed down off the tractor and edged closer to the bank. The rain was coming down hard, but the section he stood upon seemed solid enough. “Probably what the cows thought,” he muttered as he moved closer.
He walked back to the tractor, unwound a long section of chain from behind the seat, and walked back to the creek. The top of the bigger tree was sticking a good three feet over the bank, and he was glad that it was. He could see that the water was rising faster, and moving along quicker, and he had no wish to get any closer to it than he had to. Quickly, but carefully, he wound the chain around the tree and pegged the links with an old bolt to hold them. Looks good, and solid as well, he thought as he slipped the other end of the chain over the bucket. He genuinely didn’t want to try and turn the tractor around. In fact, he thought, as muddy as the ground was, he’d be damn lucky just to get it back up and away from the creek when he finished.
He gave an experimental tug at the chain, and then climbed back up on the tractor. Carefully, without grinding the gears any more than he surely had to, shifted into reverse. He played the clutch out slowly and brought up the slack in the chain.
“Well God?” He asked, looking skyward, “You keepin’ a watch down here? I could sure use a hand about now, Lord. Amen,” Ira finished.
He let the clutch out a little further, playing the gas pedal as he did, and let the tractor go to work. The oversized tires spun, caught, and the tractor began to slowly back up the steep bank, pulling the tree out of the muddy water as it did. Ira released the breath he had been holding, and just as he did the chain snapped in two. Ira barely had time to register what had happened, when the old tractor flipped, crushing him beneath it.
For Franklin W. Morgan, just Frank to his friends, June 15Th, had been a particularly hard day.
As he sat at the small, scarred, wooden table at Mikes Pub on Sixth Avenue, nursing a shot of gin, his thoughts turned inward, mulling over the same problem he had been mentally chewing for the last several weeks. It always came back, no matter how far away he pushed it. It slipped right back to the front and began to hammer away at him. But today was much worse. It had seemed endless as it dragged on, and he had been able to concentrate on next to nothing. He had avoided the office, and Pearlson, no sense compounding things when he was so close to the truth by chancing a confrontation with Pearlson.
Pearlson was… Pearlson was, a piece of shit, he thought. However, at the moment it wasn’t just Pearlson that had him so keyed up and anxious, it was leaving, and, he supposed, that was just as it should be.
The thing that had made it difficult to get through was the pressure and anxiety he always felt when he was on the trail of a promising story. That and the stress associated with the story.
It was not so much the stress his job placed on him; he had always dealt with that quite well. He knew what it was, and what it had been for several weeks now. All of those late-night calls to his sources in New York. No sleep, virtually working around the clock; sifting through the information this source or another provided; sorting out the truth from imagination, and getting to the facts, or as close as he could get to them. That, coupled with the fact that he had been the only one, save Jimmy, who believed it, and now Jimmy was apparently missing so he could add the disappearance of a good friend to the growing list of worries that kept him up at night. This was turning into a three-ring circus damn fast, and he didn’t like. He didn’t like it at all.
He was sure now, or as sure as anyone could be. But who the hell would believe him? Not his editor, that was for sure. He would not soon forget the day two weeks ago, when he had approached the subject with him either. It had been partly his own fault, Frank realized. He had not been as prepared as he should have been. He had also possessed no hard facts, he reminded himself, and he had speculated far too heavily for Pearlson’s taste. Even so, he was just as convinced as he had been then. No. More so now, he amended.
Two additional weeks of digging into it, with Jimmy’s help, had produced a wealth of information, and it was no longer just conjecture as the old man Pearlson had said, but a steadily growing stack of cold hard facts.
Pearlson had still laughed and told him he should try writing fiction for a living. But there had been something else lurking just behind that laugh, hadn’t there? Perhaps a hint of nervousness maybe?
Pearlson had also suggested that just maybe Frank needed a vacation, and things being the way they were Frank had taken him up on the last suggestion.
Screw him, Frank thought as he sat at the table and drained the last of his drink… Just screw him.
That was what had made his days so long and his nights so sleepless, he reasoned. Churning around in his head was all of that knowledge… Along with fear, fear of what that knowledge may mean.
But did he actually know anything? He asked himself, and could he actually prove what he did know? Yes, Dammit… And just as suddenly, probably not. He couldn’t prove all of it yet, at least not entirely, he admitted.
Not for much longer though, he told himself, the proof part of it was about to change. He had made plans to go to New York. Directly to the source, so to speak, and find out just exactly what was going on. No conjecture, no guessing, no screwing around at all. If Pearlson wanted facts, Frank would get them one way or the other, he had decided. And the suggestion to take a vacation couldn’t have been a better cover for him to go under, he reasoned.
No, he decided, it wouldn’t be much longer at all. Two weeks in upstate New York and he would know for sure. Frank saw no way that Pearlson could kill the story then. Not faced with cold hard facts.
But Pearlson could be an idiot, what if he still rejected the truth even after the facts were presented, he asked himself. Well, if he did, Frank reasoned, that would open up a whole new set of problems. Maybe Pearlson was involved somehow… Maybe not, but the whole thing had smelled of a cover up from the start, and if Pearlson cut the story loose, if he still placed no faith in it, then there had to be a reason, and maybe… And maybe shit! If it turned out that way, then maybe it would be time to move on.
He rose slowly from his chair and fighting his way through the crowded table area, made his way to the bar.
“Another Gin, Mike,” he said, once he had gotten the old man’s attention. “On second thought hold the ice, just straight up.” He stared miserably at the juke box in the corner that blared incessantly, and silently urged it to fall silent as he waited for the drink. His thoughts, still clouded, turned back to the problem he was constantly turning over in his mind, when a glance at his wristwatch reminded him of how late it actually was.
He turned his attention back to the bartender. “Shit! Mike, I’ve got to go see the kid’s and I am already late,” he threw a twenty on the bar, “that should cover the tab.”
“What about this?” Mike asked, holding up the shot glass.
“You drink it, Mike, I truly am late. I’ve gotta go,” Frank replied as he started to turn towards the front door.
“Hey?” Mike called in a questioning manner. Frank turned back to the bar.
“Get some sleep, Frank,” Mike said, “your eyes look like two piss holes in the snow.”
“Yes, Mother,” Frank joked, “I will.”
Frank smiled to himself. They always played this game and had been at it for the twenty years that Frank had been coming into Mike’s. Mike seemed to think it was his duty to mother him, even more so since Jane had died.
“See you in a couple of weeks or so, Mike,” Frank called as he stepped out the door. He glanced at his watch once again as he did. I’ll never make it, he thought, no way.
He resigned himself to the fact that he would more than likely be late, and not for the first time this week. He had already been late three times, picking up Patty and Tim from the sitter.
Cora Pratt, the sitter, could pitch a real fit when she wanted to, he thought. “Well, I’ll deal with her when I get there,” he mumbled to himself. Besides, he thought, tonight I don’t have to pick them up, just say good-bye for two weeks.
The heat assaulted him as he stepped out of the air-conditioned comfort of the bar, and he winced.
Twenty-seven years of living in Seattle had not changed a thing for him. He felt about the city as he always had. It was too hot in the summer, what there was of it, and too damn cold and windy in the winter, and it wasn’t home. He still thought about it as a place he was only visiting. He never had gotten used to it, and, he knew, he never would.
Frank worked the handle upward slowly, pulling the driver side door of the company car open carefully. He had to as this one stuck if you were forceful, and then he would end up crawling over the damn passenger seat to reach the driver’s side. It seemed to him that he had once had this car when it was new. It was hard to tell though as it was a pool car, and the younger generation of reporters in the press pool beat the hell out of all the cars.
“Too many hot-rod kid’s driving the piss out of them,” he said aloud as he keyed the motor and pulled the Plymouth Voyager out into the traffic. He headed out of the city, towards the suburbs and Cora Pratt.
When he reached the turnoff, from Route 5, Frank slowed the car and swung into Cora’s driveway.
The old farm had been in the Pratt family for five generations. Ira Pratt, Cora’s long dead husband, had steadfastly refused to sell any of the land that made up the small farm, and after he had died Cora had adopted the same attitude. So, in the midst of suburbia, the old farmhouse sat on its own eighty-acre plot. It was sort of funny to Frank as you could drive a short way in either direction and you would still be in the Wildflower subdivision, part of which was still a respected suburb of Seattle.
The subdivision had simply been built around the property when Ira Pratt had refused to sell. Consequently, the farm had become a boundary line of sorts. West Wildflower was the poorer and run down section, whereas the eastern section was well kept and quiet. In the middle sat the farm and Cora Pratt.
Cora was a formidable woman, who, as far as Frank could tell, took no shit at all from either side.
When the “uppity bastards,” as Cora called them, on the east side had sent a letter demanding that she cut down on the fertilizer her hired man used on the corn field, she had called in John, the hired man, and told him to use just a little more instead. They had of course “Taken her to the court’s,” as she had put it, but to no avail. The court had upheld her Commercial Farm Zoning, and the judge had told the “Smart ass lawyer,” as Cora had called him that worked for the East Side Coalition, not to bother him with anymore groundless lawsuits or he’d personally report him to the Bar Association.
Likewise, when some of the, “Shiftless no-accounts,” from the west side had tried to steal some of her chickens, she had “filled their britches with buckshot.”
Frank knew all this was true because Cora had told him. She didn’t want to “Mince no words” as she had put it, “lay it all out on the table,” she had said. “Just in case you get to hearing things and think I’m a bit funny, I ain’t… I just protect what’s mine.”
That had been her little speech, on the day six years ago, when she had first begun taking care of Patty and Tim, and Frank had to admit, to her credit, she seemed to be just what she said she was, and no one could have taken better care of his children in his opinion.
Cora waved from the front porch swing as Frank stopped the car and walked towards the white framed house. The scent of Lilacs in bloom came to him on the light breeze from the porch front, where the bushes marched away in both directions, rail high.
“Thought you weren’t coming to say good-bye to your kids,” she quipped.
“Sorry,” Frank replied, “I got bogged down in traffic.”
More like a couple of shots of gin, she thought but didn’t say.
“Yep, that traffic can surely be a bother in the summer, that’s for sure,” she said aloud. Tim and Patty leaped down from the old porch and raced across the lawn. Frank went to his knees and caught them in his arms.
Frank Morgan flipped the map back onto the passenger seat of the small red Toyota Prius and glanced at his watch.
He had figured the trip from Syracuse to Fort Drum would take about an hour and a quarter. He hadn’t, however, counted on the traffic. The whole day can’t be great, he thought. The trip into Syracuse International had gone well. One short connection in route and other than that the whole trip had been uneventful. But now he had to deal with this. Something up ahead was slowing the traffic down, and he was pretty sure he knew what the problem was. Still, if he lost much more time, it would probably be close to dark when he arrived in Fort Drum, and the possibility of arriving after dark, and trying to find the house didn’t appeal to him.
Frank eased the Prius out into the passing lane, and slowly coaxed the car up to speed again. He had been right; the problem was the same as it had been coming off the thruway from the airport to get on route 81. Army convoys, and if you didn’t get around them quickly, you could spend forever in the left-hand lane. He had learned that lesson the hard way coming off the thruway. Not only couldn’t he get around them, at first, but when he did, he couldn’t get back in for the exit to Route 81 north. He had ended up heading south instead and had wasted twenty minutes getting turned around and back to the northern exit.
What the hell kind of military base needs that many trucks, he had wondered. It was a question that actually didn’t need to be answered, but he answered it anyway. The base doesn’t, the caves do. They may unload at the base, but I bet they just drop the load and ship it into the city at night, he told himself.
He stared out the window of the car, and looked over the traffic as he passed it. Jeeps dump trucks, Hummers, and tractor-trailer combos carrying who knows what. All of them heading to northern New York, he knew. He also knew that the airfield, at the base outside of Glennville, had been quite busy as well, the convoys of trucks weren’t their only supply source.
Frank reached towards the dashboard and fished a cigarette out of the pack that rested there, lighting it just as he passed the last olive-green truck on his right. He tossed the lighter into the plastic console, and it landed with a hollow plastic bong. At the same time, he pulled back into the right-hand lane, and leaned back into the seat as he took a long pull on the cigarette.
From what he had been able to determine from the map, and what he already knew from his investigation, the military base was about twenty miles north from Fort Drum. Don was right, it didn’t seem as though any of the trucks would be passing through Fort Drum on their way to the base. Glennville was only about nine miles away from the base though, and that was where the loads would end up. Not in the city actually, he reminded himself, but under the city, and he hadn’t found that little piece of information on the map. The map said exactly nothing about the caves.
When he had first started to seriously investigate the base, he had gotten the first hint of the caves from one of his informers. The informer was an ex-private turned junky, who had been stationed at the base when the project had started. The rest he had gotten from the articles he carefully culled from the Glennville Daily Press, and Jimmy, an old friend who worked at a Syracuse paper. Some things could be hidden, but there was always a clue if you knew where to look.
The first article he had read, had seemed harmless enough, but coupled with the information he’d already had, it had been intriguing. The United States Army had purchased some abandoned property from the city to use as a storage depot. The story had gone on to say that the land was close to the train depot, and the base would benefit from the purchase as they would no longer need to truck shipments from the base to the depot every time, they used the rail yards. The ex-private had tipped him off about the caves, which also happened to be located on the same piece of property.
Even then, it still hadn’t made a whole lot of sense to Frank. What would they save? They would still have to ship whatever came in there, to the base. Wouldn’t they?
In other articles, most of which had been written years before in the Glennville paper, he had learned what the property actually consisted of, and at first it had seemed like an unlikely purchase. It hadn’t been all that hard to dig up the old articles, especially with the help of his friend in Syracuse. Although Glennville had its own local paper, the Times Reporter in Syracuse, which was only seventy miles away, often reported on the events that took place there.
It had been an easy matter of looking through the archived data files, pulling the stories that pertained, and with the help of an internet connection, the reporter friend sent the stories to Frank in Washington via e-mail. He had learned most of what he knew about the actual property from those stories, some of which dated from the early thirties.
The property was located on the riverbank in the heart of the down-town section of Glennville. It consisted of a stretch of road that began in the center of the city, and then extended out of the city along an old set of railroad tracks. An old defunct coal company and some run down out buildings were also included. Perhaps the most important of all, an abandoned series of caves that ran under the city. The city had bricked up the caves better than sixty years before, in response to the community.
In June of 1935, a large group of school children, along with two adults who supposedly were well acquainted with the caves and their various twists and turns had set out on a field trip to explore them. They had never returned. A subsequent search had turned up no trace of them at all. Three weeks later the city had sent a Public Works crew to brick up the entrance, and it had been closed since.
When the Army had bought the property, it was considered unsafe and had pretty much been allowed to go to seed. The road leading out of it had likewise been closed off some years before, and the area had become a hangout for young kids and vagrants. On any given night the police ended up being called to the area several times, and the city had debated for years about what they should do with the property.
When the Army had offered to purchase the property, the City Council had considered it a Godsend, and had been more than happy to sign over the deed and accept the check they offered. It had seemed to be the end of it. Frank had read later articles, however, that seemed to indirectly touch on the property. There was an increase in traffic after the sale, and an unusual amount of security that surrounded the site.
The local paper had downplayed it to normal, or as close to normal as they could. Glennville had always been a military town, and so most of the complaints of increased traffic, were actually seen in a good light. Increased activity at the property might eventually mean more jobs, and in a depressed economy, which depended heavily on the nearby base, anything the Army did was always reported in a positive light. As far as the local paper was concerned, there was nothing negative to report.
So the real clues had come from the Syracuse paper. Franks’ friend, Jimmy Patrick, kept in touch, and had contacted Frank whenever he came across anything that was related to the smaller northern city. Syracuse itself had had tremendous problems, initially, with the traffic.
When Frank had called Jimmy, he had only wanted to know what he knew about the place. But after Jimmy had told him about the traffic problem, he had asked him to keep in touch, and he had. He had also filled him in on everything else he knew about Glennville. As he drove along, Frank mentally ticked off what he knew about the northern New York City.
The Black River split the city in two, and there were four bridges that spanned it. Three of the four also spanned the property that the military had purchased, and those three bridges were new. When they had been replaced, the road that ran to the old, abandoned coal mine had been blocked off and abandoned. Ironically, or maybe not, Frank thought, the Army Corps of Engineers had done all of the work.
The result was a small, discarded piece of property, with its own road leading in and out, in the heart of the city. It was bound on the south side by the Black River and the north by a sixty-foot rock ledge that rose just behind the old historic downtown district. That was, besides the caves, what Frank knew about the city itself. Jimmy had seemed to have caught Frank’s enthusiasm for the mystery and had also sent him other articles he found as well.
Some of them, although at first glance seemingly innocent, were quite revealing about what was actually going on in Glennville.
The first one Jimmy had dug up and sent him, was from the Public Notices section of the Syracuse paper.
“I thought it was kind of strange,” Jimmy had said, “that they didn’t print the notice in the Glennville paper.”
Frank had read the long notice carefully. It boiled down to a statement of facts concerning the property in Glennville, and the Governments intended use of it.
The whole notice hadn’t made a lot of sense. It seemed to be saying that they intended to invoke the privilege to the mineral rights that had been deeded to them along with the property. It also stated that the Army Corps of Engineers had decided that the closed caves would need to be reopened for a feasibility study, to determine whether or not they could be used as a storage facility. It had been the first direct mention of the caves at all.
The notice went on to say that since this would involve transportation of, as well as disposition of, excess material from within the caves, the Corps had asked for, and via the printing of the notice, been given permission to begin the process without the necessary permits. They were also granted permission to transport radioactive materials to and from the site, the notice stated, and had likewise been granted a waiver of the Clean Water Discharge Act, to allow undisclosed drainage into the Black River.
Subsequent notices and articles had detailed contract awards for “unspecified” electrical and plumbing work, along with contracts for per-piece orders of drywall and lumber. Another notice Frank had read, contained contract awards for concrete and asphalt, to a Texas corporation. The amounts were unspecified, and were listed as needed for road repair, and sub-wall replacement. Jimmy had thought some of it was unusual, and probably even illegal, and although Frank had agreed, there was not much that either of them could do without further proof.
Jimmy had also told Frank that the Army had been building up the area for some time and that from what he’d been able to determine, they had begun work on the caves even before they had completed the purchase of the land.
They both suspected that the notices were only a cover for some larger project the Army was carrying out, and the radioactive permits bothered him a great deal. Jimmy had promised to stay in touch, and he had, up until last week.
Frank had tried to contact him at work several times but to no avail, and the messages he left were not returned. He had tried calling Jimmy at home and his cell as well and had only been rewarded with his voicemail. That had seemed strange to Frank also. Jimmy was a damn good reporter who knew the value of answering his phone whenever it rang. At work, at home, in the middle of the night, it made no difference. Jimmy always answered the phone. Jimmy wasn’t answering and now instead of four rings before voicemail, the phone was directing to voicemail after the first ring.
He had even tried contacting Jimmy’s editor, but he had refused to talk to him. He hadn’t given up though and had tried to call just this morning before he left Washington. His call was put through, but all he had gotten was a steady busy signal at his home, and when he had called his work number, a business-like secretary at the paper informed Frank, in a matter-of-fact tone of voice, that Jimmy had left just the day before on an assignment. When he had asked her where he had gone to, her voice had gone even more business-like, and she had told him the paper did not give out that sort of information. Just when Frank had been about to try a different, more tactful approach to find out what was going on, she had hung up on him. The whole thing, the caves, and Jimmy’s disappearance weighed heavily upon him.
Frank inhaled deeply from the cigarette, and then tossed it out the open window.
That was why he was here. None of it figured. The base itself had hundreds of acres of land, so why did they need more? Why the caves? And what the hell had happened to Jimmy? …
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