IT HAD LONG BEEN DEBATED THAT THE END OF DAYS FOR PLANET EARTH WAS SET IN CONCRETE AS DECEMBER 21, 2012. Mathematical savant Ana Christensen was merely following her instincts when working a theorem in a direction and style that could have never been accepted by traditional mathematicians. As a result she stumbled upon an ancient Mayan creation, a time loop beginning in 3114BC and ending on the long contested twenty first century date. In a dynamic race against time, Ana and her male compatriot battle the forces of individual evil, bureaucracy, paramilitary mercenaries, and most powerful of all…destiny.
Excerpt: Chapter Five
“Dinner Comes to an End”
Ana had dropped all pretenses at disguising the reality of our moment.
“I know that we’re under surveillance because I’ve been tracking the actions of two men who are employees of the NCCS and work for the head of Internal Security…
I interrupted—”You mean that you’ve been following their actions in real time?” I asked, with a sense of building concern.
‘Yes, I discovered them after first connecting Shitz to the head of Internal Security, and then following the actions of Anthony Noone—he’s the head of Internal Security,” Ana said, expanding my view of our circumstance.
“These men are very good at what they do, and they scare me because they are stone cold killers,” Ana added, obviously fearful.
“I’ve seen what they did to their last assignment, and I can tell you that he’ll never see the inside of a jail cell, or a court room—and he’ll never hack again—ever,” she added with emphasis.
Tightness began to invade my body; a sensation that I get when I don’t have a clear understanding of a circumstance that implies that physical harm may come to me, or to someone that I care about.
“Ana, where are these men right now?” I asked, hoping that the hair on the back of my neck was lying to me.
She reached into her purse, which had been lying open beside her on the bench seat of the booth. Picking up her Blackberry she scrolled through a handful of pages of what looked like hieroglyphics—with a look of surprise and concern she said, “They have just arrived outside the restaurant and are parking their car.”
Stunned, I felt immediate concern, but also thought that this was the first real test about whether Ana’s story was true, or the fabrication of a deranged mind housed in the head of one of the most attractive women on the planet.
Regardless, that little voice in my head was telling me it was time to act.
“We’re leaving”, I said while standing.
Ana quickly picked up her purse and stood with the Blackberry still in her hand.
”Wait”, she said grabbing my forearm, “they’re going to come through the front door any second.”
No sooner had she stopped talking than the front entrance door swung open and two middle aged Caucasian men walked in and stepped up to the hostess stand. I don’t believe in coincidence and those two men looked the part of action-oriented guys—Ana had passed the first test of believability—and I was experiencing conflicting emotions about that fact. I was pleased that she was real, but displeased that two bad guys had entered our lives.
The two men were now showing the hostess what looked to be a photograph. I knew that we had to move quickly and my system responded with a generous injection of adrenalin into a stomach that was ninety percent empty.
I was on high alert and began calculating our next actions, which were going to have to happen while on the move.
“This way”, I said, grabbing Ana’s forearm and pulling her towards me using enough force to encourage her to follow.
As we began to walk in a deceptively brisk manner towards the back of the room I was looking for a way out the rear of the restaurant.
“Do you see a back door to this place?” I asked Ana.
She scanned from left to right and confirmed that she too had not seen a way out the back, which made little sense because there’s always a way out the back. We were only a couple of steps away from a wait staff service station that was filled with napkins, silverware, water glasses and large pitchers of what looked like iced tea.
As we passed the service station a waitress appeared from between two curtains. The drapery had blended so well with the décor in the reduced light of the romantically lit restaurant that I hadn’t seen that way into the back of the building.
Pulling Ana with me, I brushed past the waitress and walked through the curtains as if I owned the place. Startled and also a little offended, the waitress immediately turned to us and asked if we were looking for the restrooms.
In retrospect, had I known how much of a scene my ignoring her inquiry about our need for a toilet was to cause, I’d have politely turned to her and said, yes, while still walking towards the rear of the building. But as it happened, I just kept walking towing Ana with me as I went.
My actions excited the waitress who was now talking in a voice that could be heard throughout the restaurant, no doubt in an effort to gain the attention of her boss. Unfortunately, it first gained the attention of the two bad men who had been assigned the job of dealing with Ana—and by association, me.
Soon the volume of the waitresses voice elevated to the volume of barking dog, and I knew then that an encounter with the bad guys was inevitable. It also dawned on me that they probably didn’t know that I was with their prey.
Stopping in midstride I turned to face Ana.
“Listen, I don’t think they are after me because they don’t have any reason to know that we’re together,” I said in a manner that she misinterpreted.
”You’re right” Ana said with a look of disappointment on her face.
I knew that she thought I was trying to justify a way to divorce myself from her problem, and therefore not have to deal with her stalkers.
“Ana, I’m not leaving you, I just need an edge, so here’s what we do”, I then explained in ten seconds my plan for our escape.
Without hesitation Ana exited the curtains walking back towards the booth that we had vacated no more than a minute earlier. Not five seconds later Noone’s goons, whose eye’s had adjusted to the dimly lit interior of the restaurant, began to make their way towards Ana.
Peeking out towards them from behind the curtains, I invested a second of time to measure their potential.
The tallest was an honest six feet in height and built like a long distance runner, the other guy was about five feet eight and built more like a gymnast. They were both very capable looking fellows, so I knew that I was going to succeed against them only with the aid of surprise.
It was a gamble that they hadn’t seen me with Ana and I was hoping that when I walked up to them they would think that I was either another patron, or an employee looking to offer them assistance.
As I emerged from the curtains I could see that Ana was engaged in a conversation with the taller bad guy and his partner was standing alongside of Ana facing the entrance with his back to me. Walking into the waitress service area I reached in and grabbed a white linen table napkin and also a full pitcher of iced tea.
Again looking towards Ana, I saw that the gymnast had taken hold of her upper right arm much as I had her forearm only two minutes earlier. As unrealistic as it may seem, his touching her made me genuinely angry—I took it personal. In a brief period of time I had become very connected to that gorgeous woman with the incredible brain, and no man or woman was going to lay an unfriendly hand on her and not pay a price.
Had I any previous reservations about getting physical with these two hired thugs that reluctance had instantly gone away once the short one grabbed Ana’s arm.
I quickly exited the service area and walked towards the trio trying to look like a waiter who was making rounds offering to refill half full glasses.
As I approached the three of them I could hear the short man say to Ana, “It’ll be better if you don’t put up a fuss.”
Better for whom, I thought—knowing that Ana was in genuine jeopardy with those two.
Hearing that kind of statement cemented in my mind what I was going to do, and gave me an additional shot of adrenalin.
I’d only get one shot at making it work successfully, and I didn’t have the luxury of a dress rehearsal. In less time than it takes to blink, I assessed that if I hit the short one on the back of the head with the pitcher of iced tea, knocking him unconscious, that the taller one would be shocked into in-action for a fraction of a second.
Those kinds of operators are pretty quick to think on their feet, and adapt during a fluid event, so I’d not have long to follow through and take care of him also. To do that meant that once the short one started to go to the floor that I’d have to move beyond Ana to apply force to the taller one, but Ana stood between me and the taller one—so I decided that I’d just apologize to Ana after-the-fact.
Playing it out in my mind motion by motion—in slow motion—I accelerated my gate the last two steps while I brought the pitcher of iced tea up to shoulder level at arm’s length and swung it at the short thugs’ right ear as if I were attempting to remove his head from his torso.
The sound of the heavy pitcher hitting his head made a sickening dull thud and produced much more feedback through my arm than I had anticipated—I had expected the pitcher to break. It was good for my immediate need, but it was bad for him. All of the pitchers kinetic energy had transferred through the dense skull of the professional bully, creating so much movement of the brain inside his then fractured skull that vital arteries were torn loose from their connective placements, shutting his brain down instantly.
He dropped like I’d turned off a light switch.
Committed and motivated, and not then knowing that the first one was out for the count, I continued forward without hesitation. In one continuous motion I pushed Ana aside where she fell into an adjacent booths bench seat. Then, while carrying my momentum towards the remaining vertical bad guy, I anchored my left foot to the floor as I raised my right leg as high as possible with my knee bent at a ninety degree angle, effectively cocking my leg and making the sole of my shoe the next thing to make contact with the slim framed operatives’ chest.
Moving forward and doing my best to accelerate all of my actions, I kicked my right foot into the six footers solar plexus and tried to envision my foot exiting his back. He too went down without hesitation but was still conscious as he fell and he instinctively extended his arms to break his awkward backwards fall. Knowing that I had to hit him a second time, I kept moving forward and took advantage of that split second moment when his arms were still in the process of absorbing energy as he hit the floor.
With a small leap I became airborne above his body and again brought my right thigh close into my chest, this time bending the knee so that my calve folded up against my hamstring, effectively creating a blunt force weapon out of my knee cap. As I descended towards the supine bad guy I could see in his face that he had accepted that my next blow was unavoidable. His arms couldn’t reach me in time to prevent my knee hammering into his already wounded solar plexus. When my knee sank into his chest I could feel internal structures buckle, and in that same instant his face went calm.
Ana would later tell me from her referencing quantum space data, that his heart had stopped on the thirty-third second, of the twelfth minute, of the twentieth hour, of the one hundred and third day, of his forty-eighth year on planet earth.
Death of the bad guys was not part of my plan, but it was too late, the action was now in the history books—or maybe I should say, quantum space.
Not knowing for certain that the first bad guy was down for good, I rose and turned quickly to see if he had started to regain some composure. Seeing that he was still down unconscious I grabbed Ana by the hand and pulled her along with me as we stepped over the body of what used to be a pretty effective field operative for the Internal Security Division of the NCCS.
“Goddamn it, I thought to myself.
Whoever owned those two was going to be pissed, really pissed, and now far more motivated to track us down—and they won’t underestimate us a second time.
Exiting the restaurant rapidly, I pushed down a dire sense of dread.
“Now they know there’s two of us,” I said to Ana.
Ana was too busy trying to wrap her mind around all that had just happened to answer my statement about the obvious.
As we walked towards my car I found that my keys were not in my pocket and realized that they must have fallen out during all of my lethal acrobatics. Ana’s car was next to mine so we jumped in, started the engine, put the car in gear and drove away with the same fluidity of motion that I had used inside the eatery while neutralizing two bad guys.
I looked over at Ana hoping to see in her expression a sense of relief, but what I saw was fragility.
“I’m sorry that things happened the way that they did in there”, I said to Ana sincerely.
Those two were going to take you, and if you’d have left the building with them it would have been the end of the game for me, and maybe for you”, I said, trying to both explain and justify my actions.
“I realize that”, Ana replied, “it’s just that I’ve never been near any kind of violence before—it’s disturbing—I’m shaking inside.”
“Yes, I understand, but I really had no attractive alternate choice. When I saw the short guy grab your arm and then tell you to not resist—well—from that point forward I was going to remove them from the equation, at least for that moment in time” I said, explaining my actions.
Ana was still holding onto her Blackberry and she scrolled through a couple of pages and then looked over at me with a look of anguish on her face.
“They’re dead,” she said flatly with all of her air exiting her chest in one big shoulder dropping exhalation.
“You mean those guys in the restaurant are both dead?” I asked not wanting to believe that I’d just killed two Federal agents.
“Well yesss—those two guys” Ana said exasperated.
Ana looked at me for a moment, and I was suddenly uncomfortable being scrutinized by the woman that I ‘d just saved from a potentially lethal kidnapping.
“Who are you?” Ana asked, “I’ve never seen anything like that other than in a movie.”
“Ana, I’m that same guy who came to you this morning looking for understanding about seeing an old code on his laptop. I had no idea that you were who you are, or that you are doing the kind of work that you are doing. I didn’t know about quantum space, or DEEP, or the Internal Security Division of NCCS. And I sure as hell didn’t wake this morning thinking that I’d wind up the killer of two other human beings today, even if they were bad people—and Federal contractors no less!” I explained with controlled animation.
Ana was justifiably upset, but I too had just been involved in an action that was going to forever alter my life. Both of our lives were now far more complicated than when we woke this morning, and trouble was now promised at every corner. If nothing else, it was important that we keep the air clear between us.
“And I’ll tell you what’s also disturbing”, I said to my new partner in intrigue, “when I dropped my knee onto the tall guys chest and watched his face go slack—I felt a sense of déjà vu—a really strong sense of déjà vu—and to be honest, I feel slightly nauseous because of it.”
“But what’s most disturbing is that I sense that you fear me now, and that would be unfair to me—and to you, because I’d take a bullet for you. I can’t explain why, but I’ve felt close to you and protective of you from the first moments we spent together”, I confessed hoping for understanding.
Ana continued to sit quietly, but soon broke her silence.
“Me too”, she said in a calm, controlled voice.
“Me too, what?” I asked.
“I felt that same closeness to you”, Ana said, looking me directly in the eyes, and weakening my knees in the process.
“Well, we’re into it now”, I said again, stating the obvious.
“No matter what the reasons were prior to a few minutes ago, soon, all the stops are going to be removed in an effort to reel us in. How can that Blackberry help us out?” I asked.
Scrolling through her data she turned to me and said, “Drive north, we’re going to Philadelphia.”
About the Author
James Strait’s professional career began as a Special Forces soldier, where he demonstrated youthful tenacity and versatility by becoming the youngest recruit to graduate Special Forces Training Group.
After the military he enjoyed a thirty-year career as a professional pilot flying over one hundred different types and categories of airplanes. In parallel, Mr. Strait operated a small business providing a variety of services to civilian companies and the military.
After retirement from professional aviation, Mr. Strait transitioned into broadcast radio where he has hosted “Strait Talks” radio since 2006. He began his professional writing career with the release of “Weird Missouri”, in 2008. His most recent book, “Déjà vu All Over Again” is an action adventure novel taking place in the final 57 hours prior to the calendar turning 12-21-2012.
His future projects involve the release of his third book, “Thomas Jefferson is Missing”. He will also be hosting Book Talk Radio, debuting in the fall of 2012.