Carl Sagan once said, “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” The reason I’m mentioning this is because this is what I would say to those reading the TWELVE DAYS book series….Something incredible is waiting to be known!
TWELVE DAYS – Book One, introduced you to the story, but as they say…You ain’t seen nothing yet! There’s a lot more to this story than meets the eye, and just when you think you’ve figured things out, you’ll quickly come to realize, you didn’t.
Though we had hoped to release TWELVE DAYS – Book Two, this past summer, it wasn’t ready. However, this is no longer the case, and we anticipate a release in Spring of 2013! To prepare you for what’s to come, we have updated the sample we posted before and added a little more. I hope you enjoy it, and that it leaves you wanting more!
Day Two: Saturday, August 11, 3100
“Mr. President…your wife is dead.”
The doctor shifted from one foot to the other. “Sir?”
John sat perfectly still with his eyes focused on the clean white floor in front of the surgeon’s blood stained boots. How did he get to that moment? Only one hour before they had been eating dinner and Mary was fine, perhaps shaken by the day’s events, but certainly not injured or in significant pain. Yet, there he was. “I’m sorry...I didn’t hear what you said.”
“We couldn’t save her, sir, we…” He wiped at his forehead. “I’m so sorry, sir, we tried everything we could to revive her but the internal damage was too extensive…there was no way to repair…”
“Wait…” John looked up at the perspiring surgeon that stood in front of him wearing a look of great distress and exhaustion. “What you are saying is not possible. Mary wasn’t injured in the attack. I was with her and she was fine. We were having dinner when she started feeling lightheaded, which is why I brought her in, but there weren’t any other symptoms to indicate that something was wrong.”
The doctor’s agony was compounded by the president’s reluctance to believe what he was being told. “I understand that, sir, and though on the outside she did appear fine when we looked inside…” He stopped. “Sir, I know you have some medical training…” He hesitated, and then finished his thought. “Would you like to see for yourself?”
See that the doctor was wrong? The answer was obvious. “Yes.” He rose to his feet and started quickly down the brightly lit tunnel towards the surgical ward, knowing full well that when they reached the room, Mary would be sitting in there, fully awake and well.
“Excuse me, sir, I need to get in here for the eye scan,” the doctor explained, stepping in front of the president as they reached the door. “It’ll just take a second...”
The barely discernible beam of light shot directly into the doctor’s eye revealing to the computer not only the specific makeup of his iris but the minutest details of his occipital lobe, as well, authenticating the physician’s identity and his right to enter the secured space. And though the procedure was as quick as the surgeon said it would be, it seemed an eternity to John who stood waiting for the very large and round steel door to open so that he could finally see for himself that Mary was well, and that the doctor was wrong.
“Mr. President,” the surgeon said quietly, “normally I don’t bring family members into the OR because it’s a highly sterilized area, but more than that it’s because seeing their loved ones on the table can prove to be too much for most. Still, for some reason I have a feeling that this will be the only way to convince you.” He put a hand on John’s arm. “Are you ready, sir?”
“Yes, of course.”
A big rush of cold air accompanied the sliding open of the door.
“This way, sir.”
The brand new state-of-the-art operating theater was a large, frigid room with sleek black furnishings and instruments, surrounded by a massive domed imager that covered the walls and ceiling entirely. With the touch of one button it would display scenic panoramas designed to relax the patient before being put under, and the surgeons while they worked. As they walked in, expansive green hills encircled them with bright yellow wildflowers growing sporadically within the tall grass that swayed gently in the unseen breeze.
“We thought she’d like the flowers,” the doctor clumsily explained. “That’s why we…um…” He stopped when he noticed the president wasn’t listening.
Instead, John’s eyes were on the metal table where Mary lay covered almost completely with a black sheet. “Mary?” he implored breathlessly. Her exposed and pale face looked serene as though she were peacefully napping while dreaming of being in the beautiful countryside the room had brought to life. But as hard as he tried to see her chest rise and fall, he could see no movement. He swallowed hard and then asked, “Where…where was she injured?”
Stepping up beside him the doctor slowly pulled back the sheet revealing her discolored shoulders and chest. “The contusions were caused by the restraints she wore in the shuttle’s cargo hold.”
The sight of the very dark and ugly bruises crossing her chest brought instant moisture to John’s eyes. “I had no idea,” he muttered, under his breath.
“This is the only outward sign of trauma on her body, however, when we looked inside the extent and seriousness of her injuries became apparent.” Pressing a button on the control console the physician activated two highly reflective slabs that rose upwards on either end of the table. Once in place, hundreds of minute beams shot out from microscopic holes embedded within the glass panel at the head of the table, passing through Mary’s body and striking the angled mirrors on the opposite end. In a matter of half a second, the information would then be processed and projected as a perfect three-dimensional representation of her body hovering three feet directly over her. “Let me adjust the contrast.”
As the natural lighting from the imager was dimmed, the floating image of Mary grew brighter and more detailed. But just as quickly, the layers of skin and muscles disappeared leaving only her skeletal system and internal organs on display. And though he was not a doctor, John could clearly see the damage done. He wiped at his eyes, letting out a shaky breath.
“Sir, if you look here,” the surgeon quietly said, pointing towards her broken ribcage, “you can clearly see the traumatic pneumothorax that was caused, I’m assuming, by the impact of the crash landing, which then forced these two fractured ribs to cut to the pleura causing air to be trapped…”
John stopped listening. Rather than look at where the doctor was pointing to indicate the severe hemorrhaging throughout the chest cavity and into the abdominal cavity, he focused on her serene face. “Mary, wake up,” he whispered, despite knowing that she would not. “Please.”
The physician went on. “…hypovolemic shock stemming from hemoperitoneum…”
In other words, she bled to death. Mary bled to death and there wasn’t a thing he could do to change what was so obvious. She was gone. Barely able to utter the words, John said, “But she seemed fine an hour ago.”
The physician turned to him. “If she had only gotten here sooner...”
The words struck him like a violent blow, leaving his eyes blurry and his mind spinning. “I…I didn’t know. I…” He stopped. There was no point in going on. The doctor was right. Mary died because he didn’t bring her in sooner. He was to blame, just as all the failings of the past day could be attributed to his shortsightedness. The ambassadors. Glen and Frank. The passage of the GRP. All of it. Overcome, John fell to his knees. The pain of the last several hours had been so intense, so overwhelming, but as he thought of Mary’s lifeless face, the pain he had experienced throughout those torturous hours paled in comparison to the insurmountable anguish he was feeling at that moment. Closing his eyes he pulled at his hair. “Mary.”
There was no answer. No sound at all, except for the barely detectable trace of static discharge crackling somewhere in the room.
“Please, please, please, let this not be happening,” John said, trying with all his strength to wake himself up from the nightmare he prayed he was having. But as he opened his eyes he found himself kneeling on the same hard floor of the same sterile room, however, something was different. Above him the rolling hills and their flowers were gone, replaced on the imager by a different scenario entirely. It was as though the walls and ceiling had been taken off the hospital exposing him to the environment outside where giant skyscrapers of varying fantastical designs, materials and functions, rose up thousands of feet all around him. And everywhere there was movement…on the bridges, in the tubes and crowding the airways, people and vehicles rushing about unaware of the great tragedy transpiring below them. And still higher, far above all the lights and oblivious transients, the moon was near full and shining brightly, competing with the aurora borealis to be the most prominent feature in the night sky. There was no contest. The lunar orb was merely a footnote to the night’s spectacle and would only be noticed for the briefest of seconds. Then the eyes and all the attention behind them would focus, and stay focused, on the undulating greens and reds. It was a strange phenomenon.
Somewhere a door closed.
Turning, John glanced towards where the doctor had been standing, but not seeing him his attention was quickly drawn back to the mesmerizing luminosity that danced silently above him. So beautiful. So eerie.
There it was again. The same voice that had called him during the Cabinet meeting. Whose voice was it? He turned and looked around the room.
As he searched for the one speaking to him the lights of the aurora suddenly filled the room, blanketing everything with its moving glow and accompanying crackling sound. “Mary?” he uttered, reaching up onto the table that was quickly becoming blurred patches of greens and reds.
She wasn’t there.
Rising quickly to his feet and with his hands outstretched in front of him he felt around the table. “Mary? Where are you? Doctor!” Becoming desperate he felt his way around the room as the lights became brighter and brighter, blinding him to everything beyond the illumination. With his heart pounding so loud he could hear it he tried once more, “Mary! Where’s Mary?!”
“She’s dead, John.”
The sound of his voice chilled him completely. “Warren?”
“I tried to warn you but because you refused to listen, she’s dead. So what will you do now?”
Searching frantically around the room John could see nothing beyond the moving colors. “Where are you?!” he demanded, frustrated by the mocking laughter that echoed around him.
Very suddenly the imager shut off and John was left standing in the empty operating room.
“I’m here,” Warren replied calmly, while switching on the lights in the observation area above. He smiled down at the president. “There’s no need to panic.”
“Son of a bitch!” John ran for the stairs but when he reached the observation room, it was empty. Throwing chairs aside, he made his way out into a very long, white and vacant hallway with narrow doors lining both sides. To his left there was no movement, but to his right he caught sight of a distant door slowly sliding shut. He ran fast, reaching the portal just before it closed and with a burst of energy forced it open again. Bracing himself against the powerful gusts blowing into him, he stepped out onto one of the hospital’s landing platforms. He searched the darkened tarmac for signs of Warren, but saw nothing. Only an air ambulance and three police units stood on the windy plateau, with the lights from the surrounding skyscrapers reflecting brightly off their gleamed surfaces. Squinting his eyes, he thought he saw movement inside of one of the police crafts. Starting towards it he saw more movement and then a second later the ship was taking off in an accelerated climb. “Bastard!” Running over to the unit that was nearest to him, John forced the canopy of the single-seater open and jumped into the pilot’s seat. Five seconds later he was in pursuit of the other craft.
“Catch me if you can!” Warren jeered, heading vertical towards the aurora.
The DART 1A’s were compact mini-trainers that the police used as escorts and traffic enforcers. They were fast, extremely maneuverable and were considered to be more of a weapon than a vehicle, loaded with ordinance that could either disable, or completely destroy another vehicle. “I’ll catch you,” John mumbled as he raised the intensity of his firing power, hoping that with one blast he would be able to obliterate Warren’s craft the moment it cleared the skyscraper he was climbing alongside of. “Just a little higher.”
But then just as he was about to reach the tallest point of the building Warren suddenly decelerated, then yawing to the right he began a steep and rapid dive into the midst of hundreds of towering office buildings. “You’re not getting me that easy,” he cackled.
“Shit!” John shouted, chasing Warren through a very narrow labyrinth of curved and spiraling structures covered with highly reflective glass that made it difficult to tell where the space between the buildings began and ended. Adding to the harrowing nature of the chase were the other ships that crowded the airspace. Large and small, commercial and private, slow and fast, they made the pursuit substantially more dangerous without realizing they were. Switching on the siren as well as the DART’s powerful flashing lights to alert the other pilots of his course, John accelerated, maneuvering quickly while doing everything possible to avoid slamming into the slower traffic that made catching up to Warren impossible.
“Why don’t you try firing on me now, John?” he taunted, flying perilously close to unsuspecting transports.
Wanting very much to do just that John held back, knowing that even if he were to hit him directly the debris would damage many of those flying nearest to him. Then just when he finally saw an opening, Warren pitched up and veered hard to the left, barely missing a city transport vehicle.
“Hey, let’s go over here, John, where there’s no one in our way.”
Speeding to catch up, John raced past soaring skyscrapers with advertisements playing on the massive imagers that made up two of their sides. One showed a group of laughing people and for a moment he felt certain he could hear laughter, but instantly the image and the sound were gone, distorted beyond recognition the moment he increased the power to his engines. Still despite the acceleration he couldn’t get closer to Warren’s craft. Feeling his frustration growing, he searched the cockpit for the means to increase his ship’s speed even more. He found none. “Come on, damn it!” At long last the traffic began to clear and John finally saw his chance. Taking it, he fired rapidly on his enemy. “Yes!” The relief was short-lived, however, because every shot he took missed its mark.
“Can’t you do anything right?” Warren mocked, as he casually rolled his craft. “Here, I’ll make it easier for you.”
Very suddenly John found himself flying into a wide corridor with rows and rows of exclusive housing units rising thousands of feet on either side of him. Though there was no traffic flying between the buildings he could see scores of people enjoying the lush gardens below, while many others lounged about on landscaped balconies and interiors of the luxurious apartments that Warren purposely flew close to. “Pull up, Warren!”
“Why should I? I like it here…so many rich people enjoying their wealth…but then again you hate rich people, don’t you, John? Well then, in that case…this is for you…”
“No!” John shouted, as the madman began firing indiscriminately into the homes causing huge explosions that instantaneously engulfed the properties and those within, raining fiery debris upon the people below. Without hesitation John fired on Warren’s craft, but again every shot he took, missed, striking and destroying random residences instead. Enraged he slammed his fist down on the firing device. “What in the hell is wrong with this piece of crap?!”
“It’s not the ship, John, it’s you,” Warren laughed. “You have a propensity for killing people, which is actually something I admire about you.”
“Screw you, Warren.”
He laughed more. “Usually though, and to your credit, you kill the inane people…you know…like Mary was.”
That was more than John could take and instantly a seething rage took hold of him, blinding him to everything except his desire to kill the man he knew was ultimately responsible for Mary’s death. “You son of a bitch!” he yelled, firing shot after shot at Warren’s speeding craft. Yet again, every shot he took missed its mark and instead flew into the surrounding buildings destroying even more of the homes and the people inside of them, as well.
All the while, Warren laughed. “You do realize that you’re missing me and killing innocent bystanders, don’t you?”
John thought about answering the voice, but quickly decided to ignore it and kept his focus on killing Warren, instead.
“All this talk about justice and that integrity bullshit, when the truth is you’re just as ruthless as I am, aren’t you, John?”
Turning his gaze to the side, time stalled just long enough for him to vividly see a blown out room where a woman and child clung desperately to a man who was hanging over the edge of their destroyed apartment one hundred stories above the ground. A second later the man fell, pulling the woman and child down with him. At once John took his hand away from the firing device.
“Look at all the people you’re killing!”Warren roared. “Can you hear their cries, Mr. President?” he asked, pitching his craft downwards and into another steep dive.
Shaken by what he had seen, John was even more determined to stop him. Whatever it took. Putting the thought of them plunging to their horrific deaths out of his mind he sped after Warren, flying with great precision amid countless aircrafts and finally gaining on him as traffic leaving a floating service station slowed the lead ship. He shot again. The beam glanced Warren’s canopy then continued on into a building where a giant explosion erupted. “Shit!”
Losing control for only a few seconds, Warren corrected then quickly headed towards a great opening halfway up a massive skyscraper that housed the city’s main monorail station. “Hey, John, why don’t we take the rails?”
He didn’t listen.
Having no other alternative, John followed him into the expansive terminal and stared in horror as the deranged man flew in low before opening fire on the throngs of people coming from, and heading towards the passenger trains that waited on the magnetic tracks. Immediately the panicked crowds ran for the exits, trampling over fallen bodies without a care as to who they were stepping on in their desperate attempts to escape. “What in the hell are you doing?!”
Again, laughter. “Killing.”
“Enough.” John loaded a missile. A direct hit would blow Warren out of the sky ending his killing spree. And though some might be injured by the falling debris, he had no choice if he was going to prevent the slaughtering of even more people. Locking in on the signal emitting from Warren’s ship, he fired his weapon…but again he missed. Helplessly he watched as the errant rocket flew into the wall of the structure blasting out giant chunks of concrete, steel and glass into the packed terminal. “Damn this piece of shit!” Flying through the smoke and debris all he could see below him was burning wreckage amongst clusters of mutilated bodies. Tears flooded his eyes as a feeling of desperation filled him, feeding his rage.
“Stop killing the people, John!” Warren jeered. “What did they ever do to you?” Still laughing, he performed a tight loop and bringing his ship around he flew it straight into one of the monorail tubes.
With his mind reeling from rage and guilt, John flew into the tunnel after him. “You son of a bitch! I’m going to kill you!”
“You can’t kill me, John. And the more you try to stop what I’m doing, the more innocent people will die.”
The moment his words sounded over the speaker a terrifying noise began filtering into the cockpit enveloping John in a horrific cacophony of chaos. Gruesome voices, screams, cries, human and inhuman, swirled in his brain like a violent whirlpool, spinning clarity and reason into oblivion. With this came a great pain behind his eyes, blurring his vision as again the colors of the aurora began overtaking his surroundings. He wanted to shut his eyes but he couldn’t for the pull from the magnetic rail below him made level flight difficult, forcing him to stay focused in order to keep from smashing into the sides of the tube. Fear suddenly overwhelmed John. Fear of being completely impotent against Warren and the destruction he wielded with such ease.
“But…I will kill you.”
The chilling assuredness with which he spoke the words was made even more unsettling when John looked beyond the curve they were fast approaching. A mile past it he could see a commuter train speeding towards them, unaware of their presence in the particularly narrow tunnel. “Warren, please don’t do this!”
“What?”Increasing his speed, Warren shot out a missile destroying the monorail track and leaving a gaping hole through which the approaching train would surely fall. “This?” he laughed, as he flew out through the opening.
John stared with growing dread at the surreal scene playing out in front of him. The conductor had seen what had happened and had activated the emergency braking mechanism releasing brilliant sparks as the floating train reattached itself to the tracks to slow it down. But John knew, just as he was certain the train operator knew, that there was no way the train would stop in time and that in only a matter of seconds it, and all its occupants, were going to plunge through the breach and crash onto the ground one thousand feet below. Knowing there was nothing he could do to save them he fired at the tunnel ahead of him to create his own escape route. However the blasts that flew out of his craft were ineffective, dissolving immediately upon contact with the wall. “What in the hell?!” Feeling suddenly desperate he tried to stop his craft, but nothing he tried worked.
“Time to die, John!”