37. Langer in the Air

June 18th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

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


“So what the fuck do you suggest?” General Rauchbach shouted, his nose inches from Dr. Moore’s. It had been a long time since he’d found the need to tear someone a new asshole, and he was milking this chance for all it was worth. The blood coursing through his veins and pounding in his skull exhilarated him in a way only a war hawk could understand. “Should we just wait for a fucking train, doctor? Something that doesn’t need a God damn track to run? Or do you suggest we simply set up camp and stay a while and have dust-fucking-pies for dinner every night?”

“I suggest you calm down,” Dr. Moore mumbled, backing away a few steps as he did so. “And I’ll remind you that I never trusted the science that got us here in the first place. I’m only here because you asked me to come.”

“God damn it!” the general shrieked, kicking dust at the doctor and not realizing how well he was impersonating a baseball manager’s tantrum.

“Sir,” a very frightened soldier suddenly cried, running up to them. He glanced at Dr. Moore then stood to attention.

“What is it, private?” the general growled. “And it better be good.”

The soldier gulped and shuffled his feet. “Sir, we were trying to find a way down the cliff, like you said, and Private Langer fell—”

“Jesus Christ!”

“But sir,” he continued, speaking a bit more forcefully. “Sir, he didn’t fall. He floated.”

“What the fuck are you talking about, private? I don’t have time—”

“Sir, he floated. He floated all the way down to forest floor and landed without a scratch. So I threw a rock over the cliff, and the same thing happened. It floated the whole way down. Ask Langer yourself…”

He thrust his walkie-talkie at the general. General Rauchbach snatched it from him and cut Dr. Moore a sour look, his lips trembling in anticipation of another chance to yell.

“You’re going over next,” he snarled at the doctor, then depressed the toggle on the walkie-talkie and got the full report from Private Langer.

But, in fact, Dr. Angelo Moore was not the next person over the cliff. He had plenty of time to reflect on the plummet as he watched all but two of the soldiers and the general go before him. The general would be the last one over, he assumed, or maybe the two soldiers.

At first the other soldiers had taken tentative leaps, but as one after another drifted safely down on a cushion of air, they began to get more and more sure of themselves and began to dive as if into water, effecting somersaults and other daredevil falls.

The small team of scientists, knowing this to be physically impossible (and having the math to prove it), were not impressed by the display, nor the continued reports via walkie-talkie that another soldier had landed safely. They all looked to Dr. Moore with nervous eyes and he knew that he would have to be the first of the civilians to jump.

“Well, doctor,” General Rauchbach growled quietly with glee. “Looks like it’s your turn. We’ll bring up the rear.”

Angelo knew this was no time to be afraid, so he tried instead to sound logical—the same tactic he had unconsciously used time and again when debunking something that he actually believed, deep down, but which frightened him terribly.

“Shouldn’t we make sure we can get back up before we all go down? And what about the tikis? Shouldn’t we drive one or two of those off—?”

“No,” the general cut in simply. “You heard my soldiers—there’s nowhere down there to drive a damn tiki. It’s a grass-covered jungle. As to your other lame excuse, we’re not splitting up. On top of that, I’m not sure we are coming back up.”

A surprised mumble rippled through the scientists. This was a most irrational (which is to say, illogical) decision. They had come in at the top of the cliff, so if a rescue party came looking for them, they should leave someone here to explain what was going on.

“But surely we need someone here?” Dr. Moore spoke for them all. “What if a search party comes looking for us?”

“I’ll leave a note,” General Rauchbach snarled, smiling sweetly. “Now jump over the fucking cliff, unless you’d rather starve up here. Alone. See, we have quietly moved from military reconnaissance to survival, which means you don’t sit around waiting to be saved. You follow the food and water, and the path to that leads over that cliff.”

Angelo shuffled closer to the cliff’s edge and looked down. By his visual estimation, and based on the amount of time it took the soldiers to radio back that they’d landed, he put the distance at a mind-boggling mile, at least, making the trees he looked out upon each a mile high.

Which was, in a word, impossible.

At those distances, it was no surprise that he couldn’t see any people below, waving at him. He turned and looked at his peers, all nervously shuffling their feet in the dust and trying to look away, while the general and his last two soldiers stood grinning, with arms crossed. In a flash, Angelo felt his pride swell and he wanted nothing more than to wipe the grin off the general’s face. So he took another step, winked, and jumped.

He had closed his eyes tight at first, but as he gently descended—so smoothly he was hardly aware of anything more than a slight breeze—he found the will to open his eyes irresistible.

The world was now green, a dark twilit green that seemed full of moisture. The air was still and lush; he felt cleaner just by breathing it, and his mind cleared. He smiled as the sun glinted off dewdrops on the leaves, splashing the canopy with tiny sparkles of light like fireworks. And even when he thought he saw dark, winged shapes moving through the trees, he felt no fear. He felt comfort and joy and peace. He felt only the things a four-year-old child knows, snuggled warmly in bed between its parents, only now he was aware of its value. And he realized his whole life since then—since he’d last felt such childish comfort—had been a series of little disappointments, each one chipping away at the facade of childhood innocence, leaving him a bitter man intent on proving that such emotional wholeness was not possible; was nothing more than imagination or drug-induced euphoria.

But during the descent he came to understand that the mystics were right: Each tiny disappointment could be recaptured by these moments of clarity, until time had been turned back to a point of sublime completeness. The anger, the shame, the remorse—all could be washed away by embracing the wonders of the universe and curling up, safe and warm, in the bosom of infinity.

His feet came to rest on the grassy floor of the forest with no more pressure than standing up out of bed. He was smiling ear to ear, but the soldiers had their guns drawn and they kept glancing around with purposeful eyes.

“Did you feel the mystery?” he asked them in a whisper.

The soldier nearest him gave him a disgusted look.

“What the fuck are you talking about?”

And he knew they had not.

But instead of feeling anger at their mocking glares, he felt pity for them, and he understood the pity he had seen on the faces of those he had spent a lifetime debunking, and that pity gave him peace. They were now the skeptics—the soldiers—because they lacked the ability to even consider the reality of something they couldn’t kill, just as he had once lacked the ability to believe in the reality of something he couldn’t prove with instruments and mathematics.

Dr. Angelo Moore smiled at them even as he knew they were lost.

He smiled because it meant that there was hope for him, because for him the wonder had been reopened.


36. Wood and Stone | 38. The Way the Light Bends and the Darkness Falls  ⇒

36. Wood and Stone

June 4th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

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


Hiram sat on the moss-covered rock, hunched over with his head on his arms. He had done this hundreds of times before, always following the same trail of crescent moons he had carved into the trees, placed in a manner and way he had created so he was sure he fully understood. But the portal wasn’t there.

“Should we try a crystal prism?” Howard offered meekly, sharing a sympathetic look with Admiral Thomas. Howard now fully believed the military man when he said he’d had an epiphany: His demeanor had indeed changed; his face had softened; his voice held more emotion.

“It’s not your fault, Hiram,” the admiral said, crouching before the hunched man. “There has to be a way…”

He trailed off, his eyes trained on something over Hiram’s right shoulder. As he stood, his eyes never leaving the spot, Howard moved closer to see if he could see what had taken his attention. The change in the air stirred Hiram. He looked up to learn what was going on, turning around to see for himself what the admiral was watching.

“There’s a girl waving at me over there,” the admiral whispered. “But she doesn’t look real. She looks like a … ghost.”

Hiram leapt to his feet and stood in front of the admiral so he could match his angle and sight lines through the bushes and trees. Almost instantly, his face broke into a wide smile.

“Sophie!” he exclaimed and dashed straight ahead, his robe flapping around his feet. “It’s Sophie!” he called again, to no one in particular.

The other men quickly followed him. When they reached him, he was talking to her, only she looked, as the admiral had said, unreal. Her image wavered slightly, as if rippling in a breeze, and she seemed to be more light than body.

“It’s here,” she was saying as they joined Hiram. “You’ll have to meet us at a place called Lithari.”

“Then will the doorway reopen?” Hiram asked.

She shrugged. “I don’t know—but she said we have to go there before they can open the doorway again.”

“I understand,” Hiram replied.

“Is she real?” the admiral whispered to Hiram, eying the girl suspiciously.

“Yes, but what you’re seeing is her astral body,” Hiram said, his voice full of pride and joy. Though he hadn’t said so, he’d expected it to be the children who saved them.

“Come on!” Sophie said with urgency, waving into the shadows between two large boulders. “I have to get back.”

Her image quivered like a mirage, then faded altogether. The boulders, which stood three times as high as a man, rested against each other at the top, like a pair of conspirators standing forehead to forehead. Hiram wasted no time and stepped toward the arch the boulders formed. They seemed to exuded a sense of intelligence. Hiram knew that feeling; he knew that Sophie was right.

“Come on,” he ordered softly, glancing at the men behind him.

Both of them looked equally unsure, as they, like anyone, could clearly see through to the other side of the rocks, and could see that it was nothing but a continuation of the forest they were in, with Green Lake sparkling softly in the distance. Hiram stepped through. As his black robes merged with the shadows, he appeared to disappear.

So in the end, it was not a lack of belief that held the two men back, it was fear.

“Well, we have to go now,” Howard said, as if a sense of obligation was all that could get him to step through the portal.

Admiral Thomas nodded and sighed heavily, then stepped firmly between the boulders.

* * *

“I like Hiram,” Sophie said with uncertainty. She glanced over at Henry and watched him scribe designs in the dust with his finger. “Dr. Fobell’s sort of an idiot, but I don’t think it’s his fault.”

Henry shrugged. “They moved the portals for a reason, Soph.”

“But Axlow told me where it was, didn’t he?”

Henry looked around quickly, then glowered at Sophie. “Keep your voice down! Do you want them to hear?”

He motioned with his head toward the rest of the PISA team, who were having their own conference. The thing that offended Henry most was that they’d been told to “play over there,” as if they didn’t have anything important to add. So if they didn’t want to hear what he and Sophie had learned, Henry decided he could very easily go along with that.

“What about Carlos?” Sophie asked. “I think he’s the one who really caused this, because he helped them in.”

“Who?”

“The soldiers.”

Henry sighed and looked up at a tree stump behind Sophie. It looked to have fallen at some point, though the rest of the tree wasn’t anywhere nearby. It had been weather worn into a vaguely human shape.

“What do you think?” he said, and the tree stump moved in response.

“The soldiers won’t understand,” a high voice said, like wind through chimes gurgling over rocks in a stream. “But Hiram and his friends will, and Hiram can help you, that’s why Axlow allowed it. This illusion belongs to the light.”

“What do we look like to you?” Sophie asked.

“The Golgantry see things in our way,” the creature replied. “The light sees things in theirs. And you—you can see both. So you already know the answer to that question.”

The sentry suddenly froze again, back into the twisted and malformed shape of a fallen tree, and Luci appeared before the children, smiling warmly.

“They’ve agreed to go through the waterfall or lightfall or whatever it is,” she said, crouching down. She glanced nervously at the tree stump behind Sophie, but thought nothing more of it. “What do you guys think of that idea?”

Sophie looked to Henry to let him answer, but as he opened his mouth to protest, Sophie interrupted him: “I think that’s fine. I think that’s what they want.”

Luci smiled and stood up. “Come on, then.”

Sophie didn’t look at Henry as they walked off. She didn’t want to know if his face showed betrayal or anger—or both.


35. Light Conversation | 37. Langer in the Air  ⇒

35. Light Conversation

May 29th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

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


Dajenour brought Sophie back to Henry, but not to the spot they had taken off from. The Golgantry knew everything about the woods and Perendjo, so finding people wasn’t hard for them. There were others who could see farther, and when the Golgantry needed help, they knew who to ask, but Dajenour needed no help finding the boy. They landed almost silently—the slightest puff of air from back-pedaling wings ran though Henry’s hair—and when Henry turned to them, he only had eyes for Sophie. He cried out and ran to her and hugged her before he composed himself, his smiles quickly fading to concern. He realized the tree she’d been beside wasn’t there anymore, because the Golgantry were as good at not being found as they were at finding. » Read the rest of this entry «

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 § Comments Off on 30. Hiram’s Dream § 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 § Comments Off on 29. Credible Impossibilities § 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 § Comments Off on 28. Ulterior Motives § 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 § Comments Off on 27. Darkness and Silence § 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 «