Saturday, February 2, 2013

An Unlikely Hero by Tierney James

So here is the first few pages of my new novel.  You'll be able to find it on Amazon in about a month.  I'll keep you posted about the release date.  It will also be on ebooks for those of you who love your Kindle.

An Unlikely Hero
Chapter One
            Sticky from the late summer night air, Jamaal meticulously continued to work on the bomb lying on the workbench.  His dark hand slipped only once, causing the Libyan to suck in his breath and step back.  For weeks he’d practiced in the desert of his home with others just like him learning how to make these kinds of bombs. A quick student, Jamaal had gotten the attention of one man who decided his skills needed to be put to the ultimate test.  A promise of money only slightly overshadowed the reward of hurting the Americans. As his heartbeat returned to normal he once more fingered what he hoped would be a weapon of distraction.  Finally Jamaal slowly removed his hands and smiled at the completion of the toy-like monster.  It hadn’t taken any more work than a conventional bomb, he decided.
            Dynamite had been ridiculously easy to obtain from a mining company north of Nevada City which was in the process of closing. The difficult part had been securing the radioactive material. But a disgruntled hospital employee willingly provided access for Jamaal’s boss to obtain the final component for the weapon before him. Various online markets sold military toys that were so life-like Jamaal wondered why Homeland Security hadn’t shut them down. The secure radioactive container easily slipped inside the missile.  His boss had convinced him it would be enough. Adapting his army green missile with explosives, although tricky, had not been beyond his ability. The connection to the launcher was another matter. Would it adapt to carrying this small attachment now that it was heavier? For the last several hours Jamaal had trouble with the launcher turning on prematurely with the added weight.  By accident he discovered if he propped it upright as if it were being held the lights failed to flash a warning of launch.
            No longer would he be the butt of jokes calling him a stupid fool.
            His associates would be pleased.
            His reward and recognition would be great.
            Only one more thing to do.  Launch.  Tomorrow.  The first of many tomorrows.
            It would be simple.  Near dawn he would load the re adapted toy which had been fitted with his attachment into the trunk of his car. Sacramento was less than an hour away so he wanted to leave early enough to find a good parking spot along the way.  He had been monitoring traffic helicopters for weeks.  He knew exactly which one would be the target. Bringing it down over a populated area where several highways merged would be child’s play. The authorities would realize later something more heinous had occurred than a helicopter crashing into rush hour traffic.  By then what little radioactive poison survived would throw authorities into a panic.  His boss could move forward with bigger plans while the country kept eyes on Sacramento.
            Jamaal yawned, realizing he’d been working since early morning without much of a break.  After making sure the weapon was secure, he gently let his hands hover over the finished project and smiled once more, knowing his glory would soon be visible to the world.  Backing toward the shed door he reached behind him to twist the doorknob.  Even now Jamaal struggled to tear his eyes away from his creation.  As the door creaked open Jamaal unwittingly paused long enough for the neighbor’s cat to slip quietly into the shadows of the stacked lumber in the corner. 
     The light extinguished, Jamaal stepped into the night, closing the door behind him. The smell of the neighbor’s freshly cut grass made him decide that would be what he missed about California.  There wasn’t much grass in Libya. A breeze touched his serious face as he tucked his head and made for his back door. Nearby someone had fired up a grill for a late night’s dinner. He paused, hearing a dog bark and the distant laughter of men sharing something he would never understand. This country was too friendly, too trusting.  He wondered in that moment if he would be able to sleep?  The others had already gone to bed.  Softly he called the cat that had been coming around at night.  A saucer of milk each visit kept the creature returning.
            The excited cry of the cat inside the shed forced Jamaal’s feet to trip, sprawling him onto the damp grass. Pushing up in desperation he stumbled toward the shed hearing the clatter of obstacles the cat moved as it raced toward what he guessed was a mouse.
            Something close to lightning speed touched the mouse and it was running for its life, but not before the tabby cried out and pounded on the very spot in which the small creature had tried to disappear.  A roar, flashing red lights and a hissing sound imploded the room when the cat landed on the man’s machine.  With agile reflexes the feline leaped once more onto the floor and escaped into the corner, not noticing that the rodent was right next to him.  The workbench began to vibrate and in the next instant the machine expelled a tail of fire and crashed through the windows into the night sky. 
      The cries of anguish from the man startled the cat into making a quick escape as the door flung open. Dogs began to bark throughout the neighborhood. Porch lights flickered on and then off as houses began to stir at the wails of a desperate man running into his backyard before collapsing to his knees.

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