Friday, May 5, 2017

Work In Progress - An Excerpt

My latest book is coming along swimmingly. The tentative title is "The Adventure Constant", and it features a man flung into a far future (or is it an alternate earth?) by a malfunctioning FTL drive. Here's a little sneak peek:

It didn’t work.

That was all Jack could think during the long, blistering journey back through the Earth’s atmosphere. His small capsule burned its way down into the depths of Earth’s gravity well, battering him worse than any opponent ever had in the boxing ring. The heat grew stifling, the tiny capsule began to glow red with the heat, and the roar of his passage deafened him.

Doctor Abduraxus had gotten something wrong, probably for the first time in his life, and now Jack was paying the price for it. It was all Jack’s fault for volunteering to test Earth’s first faster than light space drive, but damnit, the rest of the firsts were already taken. Other astronauts had claimed first bootprints on Mars, Venus, all of the better moons of Jupiter. His college roommate, the Hermit, had even survived the three year flight to the last planet in the solar system. He had returned from Pluto alive and no more crazy than the day he had left. 

Which left the first FTL flight as pretty much the last frontier left for NASA’s problem child. Jack had leaped at the chance, the only one willing to trust the calculations and designs of NASA’s eccentric wunderkind, Doctor Abdurax. The old Egyptian engineer had almost single handedly reinvigorated NASA with projects so revolutionary that few other scientists even understood the underlying principles that he utilized, let alone decipher the strange fractal designs that seemed to lie at the core of all of his breakthroughs. No one could argue that his designs didn’t work – they had put men onto every extra-terrestrial body worth naming or mapping. Thanks to the good Doctor, humanity had finally spread out, establishing small permanent stations on the earth’s moon, Mars, on a few of Jovian satellites, and in large stations latched onto the larger asteroids.

Squeezing his eyes shut tight and clenching the armrests of his crash couch, Jack cursed the Doctor and his bad luck. Had it not been for that coincidental meeting in the late night hall, he wouldn’t even be here praying for a landing he could walk away from.

His body jerked forward as a boom sounded. The first chutes had deployed, and only the six point harness kept him from being flung headlong through the front of the craft.  

At least the noise dialed back from a deafening roar to a low rumble. He checked the displays and found them all dead. Every screen and every light was dark. He flipped a few switches at random, to no effect. He didn’t even bother fiddling with the control stick. With the capsule jettisoned free of the FYN-X, he never did find out what those stood for, the stick wasn’t connected to anything anyway. 

He folded his arms and slumped back into his crash couch. There was nothing to do but wait for the –

The bottom dropped out of the world, as the initial deceleration chutes burned up in the upper atmosphere. They had done their job, though, slowing him down enough for the Earth’s gravity to welcome him home. Jack’s last meal made a break for it, but Jack swallowed hard and tightened his gut. A few seconds into free fall the secondary chutes deployed with a loud thump, and gravity reasserted its mastery over his tiny craft. The capsule grew quiet, with only the occasional creak of the chute’s straps reverberating through the capsule.

Jack knew that the ship would drift for a few minutes before splashdown. That gave him a few minutes to draw the revolver Dr. Abdurax had shown him just before the FYN-X lifted off. It had been stashed inside a small compartment along with a knife and scabbard. Why the Doctor had designed such a space inside an experimental craft was a mystery that Jack had no time for. The mission occupied all of his attention for the next four hours, and it wasn’t until just now that Jack had time to even think about the thing.

Turning the revolver over in his hands, Jack checked the load, six bullets, spun the cylinder, and checked the safety. It was a good quality hand gun, but why on God’s green earth had Abdurax felt the need for such a thing?

His thoughts were interrupted by a long, low tearing noise. The capsule lurched to one side. 

That wasn’t right.

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