34. The Long Watch

January 24th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Chapter thirty-four of Unknown North, a novel that will be published chapter-by-chapter until it’s done. All chapters so far: Unknown North.

The sun rose red through clouds over Green Lake, and three men stood in the woods watching their breath puff into clouds before them. Howard looked nervous—he knew well what secrets forests held, and he was afraid. Admiral Thomas had his arms crossed against the chill, but his face was bright and alive—he, like a child waiting for a toy store to open, was full of excitement, knowing that today he would witness something new. Hiram took equal parts of both moods and stood in awed expectation, enjoying the thrill of sharing something he had so long held secret, yet also afraid that this portal, too, would be closed forever. » Read the rest of this entry «

33. The Epiphany Directive

January 17th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Chapter thirty-three of Unknown North, a novel that will be published chapter-by-chapter until it’s done. All chapters so far: Unknown North.

Admiral Thomas sat in a conference room at Bransen Labs and calmly told Howard and Hiram everything about his involvement with the Mars project thus far, including what he knew about the Light Beings and the Golgantry. He was even candid about his relationship with Carlos, who had been spying on Perendjo for years, and the reasons General Rauchbach had removed the admiral from the project, which mostly had to do with the admiral’s reluctance to shoot first and ask questions later. Hiram liked the Admiral and was glad he’d visited them. Howard, on the other hand, was perplexed.

“You mean you knew?” he blurted. “This whole time, you could have… have… backed up my claims?”

“No,” Admiral Thomas stated simply. “To back you up would have required me to expose what I knew, and I wasn’t at liberty to do that, even to you.”

Howard waved him off with a dismissive snort, but Hiram grinned.

“Until now…?” » Read the rest of this entry «

32. Darkness From Light

January 10th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Chapter thirty-two of Unknown North, a novel that will be published chapter-by-chapter until it’s done. All chapters so far: Unknown North.

Admiral Thomas was in his private office—differentiated from his public office by the fact that if he was in his public office with the door closed, a person could knock and be invited in, but if the admiral was in his private office, even the President should be turned away.

Had anyone gone into the room, they would have been hard pressed to explain why it was so private. There were no plans or schematics on the walls describing reversed-engineered UFOs or plasma-ray guns. There was no glowing map of the world with pinpoints denoting the locations of agents in the field. There was no gold or silver, or the treasures of the Temple of Solomon. In fact, there was nothing in the room except a reclining chair with a dinner tray attached that could swing over it.

But the tray was the key.

The tray, and the single artifact of value tucked away in a safe behind a false double light switch. The safe—no bigger than a box of tissues—contained something of immense value to the admiral, and to the world at large—had the world at large any clue as to what the artifact was. The safe sat open now, and the admiral reclined in the chair, the object of so much value and privacy standing serenely on the dinner tray before him, flickering prismatic rainbows of light across his face and the walls.

Admiral Thomas possessed one of the Crystal Prisms and he used it to great effect to enter the Lands Below, and from there, sometimes, Perendjo itself. But mostly he used it to speak with Dajenour, one of the Golgantry the admiral thought of as his counterpart in “the other place.” It was good to talk with them, the admiral knew, and he couldn’t help but think this open line of communication was the only thing that had prevented an invasion for so many generations.

In the room, the admiral’s body was rigid and still, his eyes closed, his chest heaving so slowly that it had no discernible movement; but in his Radiance, the admiral was groping through a darkness so complete it almost hurt, searching with outstretched hands to find the signs and landmarks that would point him toward the orange light and place for a meeting with Dajenour. Judging by the dream in which Dajenour had summoned him, this meeting was of the utmost importance, and the admiral found himself groping in a state very much like panic, trying to reach the place as quickly as he could.

He hated this part; this blindness. It went against everything his military training had prepared him for: Darkness was danger, and ambush surely loomed. Finally he stumbled into something low like a decorative wall. He bent over to trace with his hands the two-foot high construct as it turned in a gentle arc. Admiral Thomas imagined it to be the enclosure of a fountain, but once when he’d dared stick his hand over the retainer, his fingernails had scraped only the moist grit of wet dirt. He didn’t have time for exploring such details now, and soon enough his hands came across a small pile of rounded stones, marking the point at which he should turn right. He had no idea who had placed the cairn on the wall, but he thought again that he really must do all he could to find out.

Admiral Thomas kept stumbling forward through the darkness. He could sense structures to his left and right, and knew—but only by sense and feel—that he was walking down a street between buildings. Ahead he began to see a very soft orange glow, as of a dim light spilling from a closed doorway.

“I really need to start mapping this place,” the admiral mumbled to himself.

He realized, in some detatched way, that mumbling was an effort to calm his fears, but it was no good: The Golgantry scared him at a deep resonance and he never enjoyed his meetings with them. As if on cue, he heard the beating of great leathery wings around him—two, maybe three sets—and he knew they were also approaching the orange glow of the rendezvous. Behind him the wings grew louder, then there were two dull thuds within spitting distance of him.

Admiral Thomas froze.

“The light is not for you this time,” a high-pitched, trilling voice said.

The admiral slowly turned toward the sound. All he could think to say was, “I can’t see you.”

“But you know me.”

It was not a question, it was a statement of fact. The admiral couldn’t disagree.

“Of course, Dajenour. And who’s with you?”

More thuds came from the darkness as other Golgantry came to rest heavily on the dirt.

“Orlay and Miztrin.”

“I thought as much.”

Admiral Thomas giggled nervously and scratched the back of his neck. “So who’s in the orange room?”

“No one of interest.” Dajenour’s voice pierced along a higher pitch than normal, and the glasslike trilling seemed more rapid. “We don’t have time for conversation, Jude.”

“Right,” he agreed, unconsciously standing to attention.

“Your soldiers have created quite a hardship for Perendjo,” Dajenour stated.

There was movement—a flash of sound, a few footfalls—and Admiral Thomas felt both his arms grasped. He tried to fight for a split second before realizing it would not only be futile, but most likely dangerous.

“We will take you to Rileth so you can see for yourself.”

And before the admiral could offer his needless consent, he felt his stomach roll loosely as the Golgantry that had him took wing, with his body dangling beneath over darkness.

31. Summons | 33. The Epiphany Directive  ⇒

31. Summons

January 4th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Chapter thirty-one of Unknown North, a novel that will be published chapter-by-chapter until it’s done. All chapters so far: Unknown North.

Sophie giggled as she was chased through the trees. Henry made a scrambling lunge and caught Sophie’s arm, forcing a surprised squeal from her.

“Gotcha!” he panted.

The moment passed and Sophie’s face faded from joy to the same dour expression she’d been wearing when Henry suggested tag in the first place, to try and cheer her up.

“What’s up, Soph?” he wondered, standing straight and smiling. “I thought you loved being here in person.”

She shrugged.

“I do… Only you got me thinking. We can’t wake up.”

“Look,” he said softly, moving over to her and speaking in a confidential tone of voice. “You don’t have to lie to me. What’s really up?” » Read the rest of this entry «

30. Hiram’s Dream

November 29th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Chapter thirty of Unknown North, a novel that will be published chapter-by-chapter until it’s done. All chapters so far: Unknown North.

Hiram was aware of the dream, that it was a dream, as well as he was aware of the sounds and figures around him. He’d been here before, though he knew this more with a sense of deja vu than memory.

Howard glanced over at Hiram—both men effectively living in the control center for fear of missing an alarm, should something go wrong on Mars—and saw him wriggling in his chair, asleep. He smiled wistfully and went back to reading his book.

The figures circled Hiram. They were good, but they were angry. He could sense that they felt he had gone too far; allowed too many people in. » Read the rest of this entry «

29. Credible Impossibilities

November 22nd, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Chapter twenty-nine of Unknown North, a novel that will be published chapter-by-chapter until it’s done. All chapters so far: Unknown North.

There was little to do while they waited for the recon vehicles to arrive. Dr. Moore found himself watching General Rauchbach while the general watched Mars. They were sitting at the top of the cliff over the forest, cross-legged on the cracked and thirsty land, the main tiki a shadowed hump in the setting sun. On the other side of the vehicle the rest of the science team was busy taking samples of the same dirt over and over again. If Dr. Moore squinted really hard he could just make out the plumes of dust kicked up by the two-man recon vehicles (“recoes”) catching up with them.

“I hope it doesn’t go sub-zero when the sun sets,” the general said, more to himself than anything. “We’ll have to go home if that happens.” » Read the rest of this entry «

28. Ulterior Motives

November 14th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Chapter twenty-eight of Unknown North, a novel that will be published chapter-by-chapter until it’s done. All chapters so far: Unknown North.

It was easy to forget they were on another planet, in another dimension altogether. Had any of the PISA team thought too much about it, they would certainly have panicked, but that’s not how scientifically minded humans operate: They suppress the scary parts in deference to unimaginable discovery; they pound holds into ice and hope for the best as they scale the mountain; they seal themselves in metal tins and dive into the ocean or blast into space; and they clamber into ships that travel at the speed of light to other dimensions.

Then they walk through a beautiful forest, lit with the earliest brushes of twilight, searching for a temple that had only before been glimpsed by children in their dreams. » Read the rest of this entry «

27. Darkness and Silence

November 6th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Chapter twenty-seven of Unknown North, a novel that will be published chapter-by-chapter until it’s done. All chapters so far: Unknown North.

The NASA team took guns to Mars. Oh, the public wasn’t made aware of this (“scientific instruments” can look like just about anything), but Dr. Angelo Moore was well aware and a bit unnerved. The guns meant either NASA was nuts because they expected to meet something unsavory; or not nuts, meaning they would meet something unsavory. Going to Mars under either condition did not help Dr. Moore sleep well.

“Angelo!” General Rauchbach barked, nudging the doctor, whose head had slipping onto the general’s shoulder. Everyone else in the bus jumped and the soldiers unconsciously readied their guns. “I didn’t pay you to come to Mars and sleep!” » Read the rest of this entry «

26. Doorway to Entanglement

October 25th, 2016 § Comments Off on 26. Doorway to Entanglement § permalink

Chapter twenty-six of Unknown North, a novel that will be published chapter-by-chapter until it’s done. All chapters so far: Unknown North.

Hiram was circumspect and quietly mumbled, “I can see why they’re after Ana-loop” when Carlos returned with his theory about a physical ship going somewhere physically, despite the fact that “somewhere” wasn’t—somehow—Mars at all.

“What’s that?” Carlos wondered invitingly.

“There’s only one doorway that I’ve ever heard of,” he replied evenly. “And it was closed—or at least hidden—for a reason.”

He looked carefully over the others crowded into the debriefing room. He knew that they all viewed him with a healthy amount of skepticism and he wasn’t relishing the idea of trying to explain to them the truth behind the higher mystical concepts of angels, demons, and gods. There wasn’t time for a grand theological debate. » Read the rest of this entry «

25. Somewhere Else Entirely

October 18th, 2016 § Comments Off on 25. Somewhere Else Entirely § permalink

Chapter twenty-five of Unknown North, a novel that will be published chapter-by-chapter until it’s done. All chapters so far: Unknown North.

“Dr. Moore? I didn’t expect to find you here.”

He turned at the sound of the voice and unconsciously tried to hide his bourbon, despite the fact that he was in a bar after midnight with bleary eyes. It took him a second to focus, but finally he recognized the face of General Rauchbach. Had he not been drunk, he most likely would have jumped away from the man, as if burned.

“You knew I’d be here,” he said instead, his tone aggressive. “You’ve been tapping my phone and reading my mail since you fired me.”

“You were never fired, Dr. Moore. We don’t fire people. People simply … leave.” » Read the rest of this entry «

24. The Science of Faith

October 9th, 2016 § Comments Off on 24. The Science of Faith § permalink

Chapter twenty-four of Unknown North, a novel that will be published chapter-by-chapter until it’s done. All chapters so far: Unknown North.

Bransen was not entirely thrilled by his impromptu meeting with Hiram and Carlos. He liked to think of himself as a very understanding man who would always evaluate everyone’s opinions before making any decisions, and to never intentionally sow the seeds of division or doubt. As he looked at the faces of Hiram and Carlos, though, he discovered his own personal nightmare: If he listened to their opinions, he may indeed be the farmer who was sowing the seeds of division and doubt.

Bransen looked evenly at each of the two men, who both sat politely quiet, waiting to be called on to speak.

“I think I knew this would happen,” Bransen admitted plainly. “I think I knew this project would evolve in unexpected ways. But gentleman, I cannot believe for an instant than Howard and John Fobell are here to open some kind of gate to the underworld to let demons run amok over the Earth.”

He held up his hand to stop Hiram from speaking and finished, “Even if I were to allow for such things as demons, I am quite confident that the Fobells would have nothing to do with them.”

“They aren’t demons,” Hiram blurted. » Read the rest of this entry «

23. Light in Dark Corners

September 27th, 2016 § Comments Off on 23. Light in Dark Corners § permalink

Chapter twenty-three of Unknown North, a novel that will be published chapter-by-chapter until it’s done. All chapters so far: Unknown North.

Security had been tightened at Bransen Labs and the patent for the Circadia X had been secured—one of the benefits of working for Bransen Labs was how much speed in bureaucracy his money could buy. Unfortunately, there was also talk about an emergency session of Congress to pass legislation regarding the use of any such device—a move for which Uncle Sam could not be blamed. If the experiment hadn’t been so fruitful, historical, and globally important, the whispered chatter contended that PISA would have been shut down and the Mars team arrested. After all, had some unfortunate airliner passed through the beam and instantly been whisked to a barren, airless planet, there would have been trouble. Big trouble.

Instead, PISA negotiated a sort of plea bargain that awarded Bransen Labs the patent but demanded that NASA would be given equal (and free) access to the design and related trade secrets, and would serve as an oversight committee to its use. Bransen’s attorneys assured him that accepting the offer was his only real option, so Bransen put on his best smile and announced at a press conference the joint NASA-PISA venture to explore Mars. Contracts were signed, loopholes were closed, and in the end the world suddenly had Circadia X1 and Circadia X2, and two wholly separate teams intent on exploring the red planet. » Read the rest of this entry «

22. Body of Light

September 18th, 2016 § Comments Off on 22. Body of Light § permalink

Chapter twenty-two of Unknown North, a novel that will be published chapter-by-chapter until it’s done. All chapters so far: Unknown North.

Hiram McKenzie was nervous. R’dau had told him that Ana-loop was making real contact with several people from Earth, but he’d had no idea the contact was connected to a project so scientific and high profile as PISA. She’d also mentioned that someone had been traveling to the Lands Below, and this had concerned Hiram more. The Lands Below were the domain of the Golgantry, and the Light Beings rarely went there.

He wondered how much of his concerns he should share now. It was his first daily end-of-day team debriefing, when they could all get together and share their day’s work, and so far they were treating it all exactly as he’d anticipated: Like a perfectly controlled science experiment.

What was of immediate concern to Hiram was that, while he was sure Bransen had read Unknown North, he feared the team Bransen had assembled was blissfully unaware of their Radiance. And if one didn’t understand their Radiance, one should not dangle at the end of their silver cord. Even more unnerving to Hiram was that he knew they would go ahead with their mission anyway, even if he spelled everything out in plain English, because people often mistake comprehension for understanding. » Read the rest of this entry «

21. Debriefing Dreams

September 11th, 2016 § Comments Off on 21. Debriefing Dreams § permalink

Chapter twenty-one of Unknown North, a novel that will be published chapter-by-chapter until it’s done. All chapters so far: Unknown North.

“Jesus, it was beautiful, Luce,” Mouse said later, during the team’s private debriefing. Of all of them assembled, Henry and Sophie seemed the most enrapt. “I was in, like, a jungle or something. Swear to God, man—huge trees and all these ferns and lots of strange noises. I assume they were animals…”

He shrugged and trailed off; Howard adjusted his glasses and lent in.

“I told you!” Henry declared.

Lorna gave him a stern look—the kids had been invited to the meeting because their dreams and remote journeys seemed eerily similar to what Mouse had experienced, but it was still a scientific business meeting first.

“Are you sure you were on Mars?” Howard asked Mouse quietly, offering Henry a sympathetic wink that told him he’d get his turn soon enough.

Mouse shrugged again, “That’s where you sent me, right?” » Read the rest of this entry «

20. Mouse on Mars

September 5th, 2016 § Comments Off on 20. Mouse on Mars § permalink

Chapter twenty of Unknown North, a novel that will be published chapter-by-chapter until it’s done. All chapters so far: Unknown North.

The media didn’t change its feelings about the PISA Mars mission until Bransen labs sent a monkey to Mars and back—alive. Now they could adjust the spin of their stories into an animal-rights arena, where clicks and visits sadly outnumbered the previous spin of children in danger. It didn’t matter that Bransen treated the first Earthling on Mars like a hero—and better than most zoos—because the question of the animal having a choice about the risks involved was still there. But even then, the interest didn’t start to peak until NASA admitted that PISA appeared to have beaten them at their own game. The naysayers no longer had a leg to stand on, and the spin started to right itself to what Bransen thought was the real issue at hand: A creature from Earth had finally visited another planet. If the Moon had been the bronze medal, then this was the silver, and the gold—visiting another planet in another solar system—was finally imaginable, with PISA pulling ahead. » Read the rest of this entry «