Not Dead Enough
by O. J. Anderson
part 1 of 2
Somewhere in Siberia, 1993
“I’ve killed you before, Zarion. And I’ll kill you again!”
“Don’t bet on it, Creed.” The giant reptile ghoul spit acid from its fangs. Writhed. Then it hunched down and howled like it was being forced to listen to a Vanilla Ice album.
Two hundred meters to Jack’s left sat the black Paranormal Assault Vehicle firing the electro-debilitator pulse cannon at Zarion. Sort of like a wireless stun gun. It held the monster in place pretty well. Like it was stuck in taffy or something. Gave Jack Creed just enough time to aim the bazooka. He flipped up his goggles and put his eye up to the aiming mechanism. Put the cross hairs center-mass of the agent of evil.
But just as Jack pulled the trigger, Zarion made a mad swipe at the continuum, like he was pulling back the curtain before running offstage. A large black gash opened in space-time. Zarion dove through. Disappeared.
The bazooka round sailed across the barren plain. Heading towards nothing or no one.
Jack watched the $8,347.12 projectile explode in the distance, kicking up a white and black floret of frozen ground.
Professor Bookner crawled out from the snow-camoed hide-site, the big furry hood partially obscuring his face. “What... what just happened?” He trudged past Creed and went to where Zarion had been only moments before, its greenish acid-loogey still sizzling a hole in the snow.
“It jumped through,” Jack told him, then got Smith on the radio and called in the PAV.
“I don’t believe it.” The professor searched the area. “I mean... I saw it, I just don’t believe it.”
“Well that’s a little ironic,” Jack snapped. “Don’t you think?” He was a bit testy after two days of freezing his butt off in the snow-hide. “What with you teaching a course on multi-dimensional paranormal activities and all.”
“Um...” Professor Bookner, usually a quick wit, was at a loss at the moment. Being an academic, Bookner was plenty smart enough not to ply his sarcasm on a man like Creed, especially when that man was holding a bazooka. All he said was, “Yeah.”
It was ironic though. For years Bookner had been trying to convince others that an evil saurian race was controlling the world — steering it towards oblivion — from behind the scenes. Confabulating with and corrupting the upper level humans, the controllers, the real elite, and stoking their insatiable lust for money and power.
But he had no hard evidence of the saurians other than ancient folklore texts, a few weird abductees, and some bad photographs of cave art. On several radio and TV interviews he had been mocked and ridiculed. A joke, someone to have on the program for a few laughs.
Now here he was only seconds after his second sighting — his first sighting of one actually “jumping through” — and he thought he was crazy.
But the crazy part passed quickly and was replaced with a feeling of exhilaration. Exoneration. He had been spot on about the saurians. All he needed now was proof. They could set up another ambush. Get one sooner or later. Bring back some body parts. A head maybe.
Anyway, now he had Jack Creed to back up his story. And no one would dare call that guy crazy, Bookner thought. Not unless they had a death wish. It was time to teach those ignorant TV morons a couple things about semi-aquatic bipedal reptile-demons.
Bookner’s career was about to hit the upswing until he turned around and saw Creed starting to pack up the equipment. “What are you doing?” he said, running back to the hide.
“Packin’ up and headin’ home,” Jack told him. “This place sucks.”
“You can’t leave now! We almost had one.” Bookner watched as his words had no effect on Jack Creed, who kept on pulling gear out from the hide. “There’ll be others.”
“No there won’t. Once you lose the element of surprise, that’s it.” Jack handed a bundle of gear to Simms, then gave the radio equipment to Jones.
“You can’t just give up,” the professor said, getting desperate. “You have to finish the job.”
Jack Creed had wounded men for crimes far less than accusing him of giving up. But it was too cold, and this guy was kind of an idiot anyway. All Jack said was, “Nobody said the job was done. Zarion will be back around sooner or later. I’ll get it next time.”
Bookner stood there as Jack hastily balled up the sleeping bag and went back to the PAV. Seemed like they were about to leave. Everything was loaded. Just before Jack climbed into the cabin, he looked over at Bookner and asked him, “You walking back or riding with us?”
At that point, Professor Bookner forgot all about his street cred and realized that he was about to be left standing a couple hundred miles from the nearest quasi-civilization with only two chewy granola bars, a frozen can of sardines, and some mixed nuts.
He ran to the PAV, his big arctic boots making clumsy thuds across the frozen ground.
* * *
Costa Rica, present day
The lead Zodiac skids softly onto the moonlit beach. Four heavily-armed troopers jump from the boat onto the sand. High port. Fingers on the trigger wells. Thumbs on the safeties. Ready to drop anyone or anything dumb enough to get in their way. They punch a hole in the black jungle, moving quickly, swiftly through the thick foliage. Jones breaks squelch two times — the signal that they’re on the move to the objective.
Boats 2 and 3 hit the beach minutes later. Four men each. They hit their azimuth and move out almost at a full run, the jungle ahead already clear. It takes about thirty minutes to catch up to the point team. Slogging up muddy hills. Weaving through elephant grass. Ducking vines. They move in an arrow-shaped formation until they reach the base of Hill 53.
After a three-minute listening halt, the squad moves up the hill abreast of one another. They clear the hill, moving completely across the top of it. Then form 360-degree security and wait for their contact.
He shows up about an hour after the sun rises. Comes up the side of the hill whistling like he’s on his way to the River Kwai. He’s about five-nine, wearing only cut-off chinos and a thin veneer of dried mud. Hair’s in knots. Got a walking stick and a shark-tooth necklace. He almost walks right into Jack Creed, who says:
“Dah!” Bookner jumps back. Grabs hold of a tree to steady himself. Laughs. “Jack Creed! You scared the crap out of me.”
Jack stands. “What the hell are you doing here?”
“What do you mean?” Bookner says. “I’m the one who contacted you. Well, not directly. I sent a carrier monkey to my graduate assistant in Loha Village. He’s the one who contacted you, I think. At least he sent a message to —”
Jack cuts him off. “Bookner, what are you doing here?”
The professor gives him the duh shrug and says, “Research, man.” He takes a small wooden box from his pocket. Pulls out some kind of hand-rolled cigarette and a lighter. As he puts his smoke to his lips, he tells Jack, “I took a sabbatical ’bout four years ago.” Lights it. “Never looked back.” Bookner breathes in a great amount of smoke, holds it in his lungs. “I’ve really mellowed out since I’ve been here, man.”
“I can tell,” Jack says. “You look like the head marshmallow toaster at the Wappa Dinka commune.”
Bookner does the ain’t no thang headshake. “Six of one, dozen of the other, bro.”
(This marks the first occasion that Jack Creed has ever been referred to as “bro.”)
Enough chit chat, Jack tells Bookner. And they get down to it. About two miles east of their position are some ruins of astronomical significance. The pyramid in particular, Bookner explains. Some type of marker, or guidestone perhaps. A saurian delegation has been meeting there annually, at the base of the pyramid, with representatives from the thirteen most wealthy families on earth. Another meeting is scheduled within the next few days.
“Let me guess,” Jack says, “Saturn is in alignment with Orion’s belt or some nonsense.”
“Bunch of sixes in the date of the meeting?”
“Nope.” Bookner takes a hard hit off his smoke, then looks at it like it’s supposed to answer some tough questions for him.
“What then? How do you know this meeting’s going down?”
“About twenty Range Rovers with tinted windows in San Jose.”
They run through the list of the thirteen families. Warchester. Leopold. Morgan. Liu...
“Phil Grimes...” Jack says.
“Grimes?” Bookner shakes his head. “No way, man. Not even close. Grimes is only the acknowledged richest man in the world. The thirteen families hide their real wealth, but it’s in the hundreds of trillions. Grimes is middle class to these people.”
Jack loses interest in the topic quickly. He couldn’t care less about the thirteen families or their finances. He just came to kill some saurians. “Let’s move out,” he tells his men. And to Bookner he says, “You can brief me on the rest when we get there.”
The squad follows Professor Bookner down the hill. And as they move through the jungle, getting closer to the objective, Jack picks up a scent. Something stinks out loud. It isn’t the jungle with its varied slimes and gooey things. And it isn’t the monkeys. Neither is it the sloths. No, this one is a foul mephitic odor. One he knows well. They’ve been near here recently.
They move across the rough terrain quickly, and Jack is surprised at how well Bookner moves through the brush. He navigates without the aid of a compass or map, too. Hopefully not trashed on the jungle weed and wandering lost.
Soon, Bookner points up ahead and says, “There’s a pretty good-sized mountain overlooking the site.”
Just before the crest of the mountain, Jack halts the squad. Takes Jones and Bookner up to recon an overwatch position. They pick a spot with the best field of fire. It looks down over the entire site. There’s a stepped pyramid. Ruins on both sides of it. About a hundred square meters of clearing in front. The whole area surrounded by hills. Good location for what they need to do. Bookner points out the barely visible tracks to the north of the clearing. “That’s the access road.” He rolls over onto his back. Relights his doobie.
Jack calls up the rest of the squad and brings in his team leaders. He pulls out his GPS unit and does some calculations. The squad satellite was pre-positioned in a geosynchronous orbit over Costa Rica prior to embarking on the mission. All it needs now is a target. Jack calls Smith on the off-shore support platform and sends him the 12-digit Mercator coordinates, then says, “And get the Death Ray warmed up while you’re at it.”
Anchored about a half-mile off the coast of the insertion point, on the OSSP, Smith says, “Roger,” then starts tapping on the keyboard. The Zodiacs have been lashed together and anchored, the platform and tent constructed, sat-link established, and the three Boll Weevil surface-to-surface missiles are ready to launch.
Back in the overwatch, Professor Bookner is explaining what he thinks these meetings are all about: “Technology, man. Sacred knowledge. No one goes to a meeting without wanting something. Everything we do is motivated by what we want. People who don’t want anything don’t get out of bed in the morning.”
Bookner makes himself comfortable. Uses an arm for a pillow. Crooks a leg up on the other knee. He waxes on: “The thirteen families are probably getting a whole lot of information. Maybe even more than that, I think. Whatever it is, it’s big. Why else would they come way out here into the jungle? One doesn’t come this far for peanuts, my friend. One certainly does not. No way, man.”
Jack pulls his eyes away from the binoculars and looks at Bookner. “So what you’re telling me is you have no idea what these meetings are all about.”
Bookner frowns. “If that’s the way you want to look at it, bro.” He goes on to explain that it most definitely has something to do with a “global cleansing.” He thinks that the saurians are or may be willing to relocate the thirteen families to another planet in order for Earth to be cleansed of the undesirables — the leeches of resources. Plague. Nukes. Or some other as yet unknown means that the saurians may have in store. Like a giant dust rag.
“Death,” Jack says.
“You got it, bro. That’s all the saurians want. Body count.”
Jack puts the binos back to his eyes. Looks for movement on the objective. There isn’t any. He says, “I’ll give ‘em a body count if that’s what they’re looking for.”
“Yeah, man.” Bookner stubs out his smoke and sits up. “How we gonna do it?”
The Dome of Doom, Jack tells him. And from his assault pack he takes out five sticks of P-10 SHE and a fistful of what look like tent spikes with golf balls affixed to the ends. They’ll place the ES nodes around the clearing in a circle. When the saurians are within the perimeter, the squad satellite will fire an electro-static beam at the nodes, thus creating the energy dome, or Dome of Doom.
“The saurians will not be able to escape the dome,” Jack says. “It will also block their inter-dimensional capabilities. The ES dome will not, however, block armaments from entering it. So we’ll be firing three Boll Weevil missiles from the OSSP into the dome. It’ll turn into a hellish, roiling furnace of death. Like being trapped inside a washing machine filled with red-hot lava.”
“Cool.” Bookner’s into it. “But how are we going to get the saurians out into the clearing?”
“Mm. We’ll need bait.”
“What kind of bait?”
Jack doesn’t answer. It takes a minute for Bookner to notice that everyone’s staring at him.
* * *
Copyright © 2007 by O. J. Anderson