Below is the first chapter of Another Abduction. You can buy it on Amazon.
Driving casually isn’t easy when your life is on the line. In the rearview mirror, I watched as the cop car rolled to a stop at the parking garage I’d recently left. The dull light from shop windows and streetlights showed members of the Meta-Human Watch Group throwing hands and fingers in my direction. I turned the corner as I yanked off my mask, drove a block, then turned again. My routine was clear in my head. I doubled back a few times and even drove loops around several blocks. Tinkerbelle monitored traffic cameras. There was no trace of a tail as I left Seattle proper.
I cleared the city and found myself in a rural area. The panic of being spotted by the MWG faded like the scent of bleach. There were no signs of the cop car or any other car for that matter. Just a long and empty road.
Pine Lane flashed at me from the next street sign. I was on 100th, so not in my neighborhood.
Tink’s voice flowed in my ear, “You’re a little off course for home. You OK?”
“Yeah,” I said with a heavy sigh. “I’m coming off the rush of avoiding getting Dosed.”
“Taking the long way home will lose your tails.” She sounded like an informative narrator. I heard the smile interlaced with the words. “But then you might end up lost.”
My earbud went quiet. The dashboard flickered and my headlights blinked. I kept up basic maintenance of my car so it wasn’t supposed to break down on a mere whim. Then it died.
“Tink? My car’s dead.” I slammed the gearshift into neutral and my car coasted.
There was no response.
“OK. That’s not normal,” I said to my steering wheel and slowed to a stop. With a modern car, nearly everything was electronic. My car wasn’t that modern, so it was mostly useless.
The wind gusted as I got out of the car. It carried the stink of some dead animal under my nose. “Ugh!”
Standing by my car, I glanced around. Trouble usually came in packs, and I wanted to be ready. All I saw were shadows of trees and two houses several blocks away.
I lifted the front end of my car and moved it to the side of the road, then repeated for the rear end. There weren’t any sidewalks here, so into the dampening grass my car went.
I wasn’t that far from home, so I could leap if I had to. Since this was close to the sticks, I wasn’t too worried about someone spotting me.
Just like at the parking garage, my brain said.
Shoving my costume shirt back on and fitting my mask into place, I crouched to jump. It was odd realizing there weren’t any bug or animal noises at that moment.
A shadow darted between a lone streetlight and me, and I halted my jump. The hairs on my neck danced and then stood up. I shifted to a combat stance. My ears strained for any noise. The shadow was off the ground and moving quiet. Too quiet.
Keeping my voice low, I said, “Tink? If you can hear this, something is happening, only I don’t know what.” I took a step towards the light, tapped my mask and activated my light enhancing lenses.
Turning in a slow circle, I spotted something along the dark wooded area off the road. The shape of it was wide with a thicker center and it tapered off to the sides. It hovered at the height of a basketball hoop twenty yards away.
“Gotcha,” I growled and kept my eyes focused on my target.
I had no idea what this thing was, but flying around in stealth mode can’t be good.
If this thing could kill my car and Tink’s communications, then it could hurt me. Or cause me some serious trouble. Either way, bad.
Leading with a single running step, I launched into a flat-arc jump. The wind whistled past my ears as I moved through the distance. Rotating my shoulder, I brought a fist down on the object.
It zipped off to the side, letting my swing pass by. I landed on my feet a yard or two away.
The closeness gave me a better view of the thing. It had two swept-back wings attached to an oblong, flat body. There were three glossy circles on the front of the main body and I had to strain to hear the soft hum of the device. Its wingspan would take up the entire back seat of my car. The flat black color let it blend into the shadows and scenery. Without my light enhancements, I wouldn’t have seen it. Even with them, the flying thing appeared as a lighter shadow.
“What the hell is that?” I asked out loud.
Lunging forward, I grabbed at both wings. I guessed it moved backward because my fingers didn’t dig into it. It was impossible to track.
Scrunching up my eyes and tightening my jaw, I shifted forward and reached again with both hands.
I saw a tiny dot of white on the thing. Next, my entire body tightened, and I went weightless. My eyes were stuck open, and I saw my surroundings fly by me in slow motion, complete with my windmilling arms. I managed to get my chin to my chest before I landed on my back. Waves of dirt, grass and small rocks washed over my shoulders and chest as I plowed through the ground.
A groan pried open my pasty mouth. I opened my eyes to branches and gray, cloudy skies. The grass tickled my ears and cheeks. My whole body hurt.
Get up, Roger!
I scrambled to my feet, knocking dirt and grass from me. Looking around, I found the flying thing. I guessed it was still in the same spot, but the gouge in the grass and dirt made a path to me.
My brain kicked into high gear and assessed what had happened.
This thing killed my car, killed my coms, and had the potential to kill me.
“Time to go!”
With my car out of commission, I hoofed it out of there. Turning from the flying drone, I took three quick steps, then crouched. I heard the hiss, and a cloud surrounded my head. My vision blurred. I blinked rapidly to keep the tears away. The scent of a skunk mixed with dirty gym sneakers bombarded me. The bile in my throat burned, but I swallowed it down. My eyes watered and I doubled over coughing. With my jump aborted, I stumbled and struggled to keep my feet.
My head pivoted, trying to find the drone. Two twins hovered next to it. This was already bad, now it’s worse.
Wiping my mouth and nose, I looked for something to use as a weapon. These things were fast, so I either needed something faster or something too big for them to avoid.
One of the drones zipped in. I dove and rolled to one side. The zap of its lightning hit the ground where I was standing. The smell of ozone and burning grass made my nose wrinkle.
My body contorted, and I crab-walked to keep all the drones where I could see them. My heel clipped a root. One of my hands darted out to catch myself. Unfortunately, being in fight mode made me break the tree.
Two of the three drones scattered out of the way. The third wasn’t as fast. It took a few limbs to the wings. It went down when a palm-shaped branch connected with the fuselage. With a thick branch on it, the flying device couldn’t move.
Taking advantage of some luck, I galloped forward and came down with a foot. A satisfying crunch met my ears, and I grinned. “Yeah! One down, two to go.”
The other two dashed for the tops of the trees, u-turned and dove at me from opposite sides. My feet did what they were supposed to do: run.
I’ve seen that Hitchcock movie, and I felt like that blond woman in it when she was being chased by birds.
These things made no noise, so I couldn’t tell how close they were. My foot bit into the road edge, and I felt the asphalt give way. Taking two steps onto the pavement, I turned right and headed down the road.
I stagger-stepped and set to launch.
The searing pain in my neck sent me to the ground. I rolled tail over teakettle to a stop. When I got to my feet, I saw the damage I caused to the road.
In the dim streetlight, I saw one of the drones gaining altitude.
A quick glance showed me the second one approaching from a darker area. “Dammit,” I spat. “Now they’re using tactics,” I muttered as a shiver dashed down my spine.
Planting a foot under me, I purposely stumbled and fell to my knees. The high-flying drone changed speed and aimed right for me.
I snaked a hand up and snatched a wing. Continuing with my motion, I backhand-slammed the flying contraption into the hard asphalt. Sparks shone and I squinted behind my mask. The melodic sound of smashing metal and plastic reached my ears. Dark gashes were left in the road as it skipped twice and disappeared into the weeds.
“I can pull off tactics, too,” I said with a widening smile. “Guardian, two. Drones, nothing.”
Grabbing two larger pieces of the downed drone, I dashed a few steps in the direction of the lone drone. I chuck first one, then the other missile.
The remaining flying device danced and avoided my attacks. By the time it righted itself, I leaped into the air.
“Sshshshshsckscksck…Guardian? Guardian, where are you?” Tink’s voice slammed into my ear.
“Here.” I saw the fading spread of porch lights below me as I descended. Making contact in someone’s backyard, I sprang up again.
“What the hell happened?” I winced from the loudness of her voice. “I can tell when you hang up on me. That was a dead signal.”
“I don’t know what it was.” Reaching the height of my jump, the lights of cars on the interstate blazed like freshly struck match heads.
“My car stalled and I couldn’t reach you,” I told her the rest on my way home, finishing when I closed and locked my back door.
“Drones flying around and attacking people can’t be good,” Tinkerbelle said in my ear, her voice softer after my explanation. “From your description, it sounds like they could be military grade.”
“That makes sense,” I responded. “McChord and Fort Lewis are in the area, plus Whidbey Island, but why would military grade drones be flying through a civilian populace?”
“That’s the million-dollar question.” There was the sound of rapid tapping and she made a humming noise. “I’ll get back to you.”
The line went dead. If I hadn’t known better, I would say there was a drone outside my window. That was how Tinkerbelle worked. Latch onto a problem and solve it. This particular problem would not reveal answers soon, so she would have to dive deep to find them. She lived for this.
I, on the other hand, needed some food and sleep. With the slow patrols, I actually had time to plan for better meals. Pinching my earbud out, I stepped into my kitchen. In the fridge, I pulled the last of the lasagna and craft beer out for dinner. After wolfing it down, I tossed my uniform into the laundry basket. It could wait until morning; sleep couldn’t.