Read Hammerhead Resurrection Online

Authors: Jason Andrew Bond

Hammerhead Resurrection

BOOK: Hammerhead Resurrection
3.6Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

HAMMERHEAD

RESURRECTION

 

A NOVEL BY

JASON ANDREW BOND

Copyright © 2014 Jason Andrew Bond

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the author.

All rights reserved.

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

Cover image copyright © 2014 Jason Andrew Bond

Cover photo copyright © 2014 Johan Swanepoel www.shutterstock.com

 

For more about the author, future novels, serialized fiction, and events please visit:
www.JasonAndrewBond.com

Acknowledgments

 

I want to offer sincere thanks to all those who helped keep my fires lit during the arduous process of writing and editing
Hammerhead Resurrection
. As always, thanks is due my wife for putting up with all the hours I spent in my office and for her sincere honesty in reviewing my work. Dearest thanks is due to my beta readers, who have saved me so much grief. I couldn’t tackle the closing of a novel without the wonderful help of Anne, Maxey Edwards, Pat, Rocky, and Russell. Finally, deep gratitude is due our veterans, who inspired the core of this novel.

 

In light of that, this novel is dedicated to those who’ve served in my family…

 

My father

Richard A. Bond

Major, U.S. Air Force

 

My step-father

John W.
Spriggs

Petty Officer Second Class, U.S. Navy (Vietnam)

Captain, U.S.P.H.S.

 

My step-grand-father

Dorsel
F. Spriggs

Seaman, U.S. Navy (WWII—U.S.S. West Virginia)

 

…and to all the men and women around the globe who have put their lives in harm’s way.

To the Reader

 

Before you begin reading Hammerhead Resurrection, I would like to offer you sincerest thanks. I appreciate your time as a reader more than I can express.

This novel is fully a year and a half in the making, and I hope you enjoy it. I do have one request. As I am currently an independent writer, word of mouth is the main engine I must rely on. In light of this, I humbly ask that, if you should find my work to your liking, please tell others and consider leaving a review wherever suits you best. I would also love to hear from you at [email protected].

For my part, I will continue striving to create the best stories I am capable of. I will also, as I did with Hammerhead, donate 25% of my profits from this novel to disabled veterans’ charities. I do this out of appreciation as it was primarily recommendations from veterans that propelled Hammerhead to the bestseller lists in 2011 and held it there through 2012. Hammerhead raised significant sums for some wonderful organizations doing important work for veterans. If you see fit to recommend this new novel, even more will be helped.

 

Sincerest Thanks,

Jason

 

Contents
Chapter One

The Earth winked out of existence as Leif Holt looked at it through the thick viewport glass. Narrowing his eyes at the place where the faintly blue spark of light had been, he touched the viewport’s titanium frame, warm despite the temperature on the other side being barely above 60 degrees above absolute zero. Beyond lay Europa’s ravined ice, ranging away to the unnaturally close horizon. Above, Jupiter blocked out the stars in a great, convex sky of sandstone-hued bands.

Rubbing his palms into his eye sockets, he looked back. The bright spark had returned.

Footsteps entering the room distracted him as Sarah’s quiet voice asked, “Another bad night?”

A tickling kiss brushed the back of his neck.

“I’m fine,” he said, turning to her. Even now, after months of close-quarters living, he found her beautiful with her red hair in a pony tail, and her bangs swept to the side of her face.

As she touched his cheek, her jade-green eyes searched his. “Your eyes say different.” Her fingertips slid down his neck. “Why aren’t you sleeping?”

“Don’t know.” After running his hand through his shaggy, blonde hair, he turned to the window. “Are any ships coming in today?”

“I don’t believe so. Why do you ask?”

He shook his head. “I think something just blocked out…” Even as he looked at Earth’s bright light he felt foolish.

“What is it, Leif?”

“It’s nothing. I’m just tired.”

“I know, and I want to know why you’re so restless lately.”

He shrugged. “I have no reason to be. Everything’s great.” Out on the ice, a fusion rover rolled away from the base on fat, wire-mesh wheels. “The cores we have are reaping wonderful data.”

“…but you’d rather still be working on the singularities.”

He looked over his shoulder. “No. It’s not that. I’ve done what I needed to do. Now is
your
time.” He turned back to the glass, his eyes lifting to the stars beyond Jupiter’s wide curve. He didn’t feel successful. The singularities should have taken decades to develop, but he’d stumbled on the solution to the unsolvable, like many leaps in science, through a tired mistake.

“You’ve done all you can.”

Leif nodded, but said, “They’re being put into service. I don’t like that I wasn’t there for the testing.” But he sensed that he’d misstepped. Turning back, he found her glaring at him, her eyes luminous.

“If your work wasn’t done, what the hell are we doing here?”

Leif held up his hands, “I don’t want to fight about this again. We came here because you deserve to have a career too. My work was
almost
done when this opportunity came up. There are others on it who are perfectly capable. Okay?”

She watched him, clearly still ready to argue the point. He did not react to her anger because he understood its source. While she’d been grateful for his sacrifice but felt guilty over it. Whenever that guilt was skinned bare, she immediately covered it with anger.

He took both of her hands in his. “I’m glad to be here because I love you and want this for
you
. For me, running the Ice-Core Lab is a good, easy job. I needed the rest.”

With that her eyes softened, the storm passing as quickly as it had risen, and she moved closer to him. “The obsession complete?”

Leif let out a slight, insincere laugh. “I suppose.”

Sarah took hold of the sides of his face, lifting his chin to look at her. “Even in a job you say is easy, you’ve been working too many hours. Why do you always push yourself so hard?”

He drew her hands from his face and kissed them one at a time. “I’m always trying to live up to my father?”

“Whatever,” she said with a short, playful laugh. “You’ve never wanted to be like him.” She sat down on his lap, putting her arms around his neck and settling her head on his shoulder.

He kissed the back of her neck, the slightly floral scent of her shampoo causing his mind to grow peaceful. “Maybe not like him, but as good as?”

She lifted her head. “I don’t want you to be anyone other than who you are. You’re the best man I’ve ever known.”

At that, a tear ran down Leif’s face.

Sarah brushed it away. “What is going on Leif?” Her voice held the vespers of anger again.

He shook his head. “I don’t know. I’m just tired, and I love you very much.”

She softened again. “There’s more work to come.”

“In what?”

She took hold of his head with both hands, kissed him. “We’re going to finish this assignment and get back to Earth just in time.”

“For?”

“For our child to be born.”

Leif felt adrenaline flush through him. While his rational mind tried to check his words, his emotions overrode him. “What the hell?” He held his hand out to the miles-deep ice beyond the window. “You can’t be pregnant out here.”

Her eyes went flat. “Well, asshole, I am, and you sure didn’t mind getting me that way.”

“Sarah, I’m sor—”

She shoved herself to standing. “I do
not
want to hear it. You’re not the only one who’s sick of this place, and it’s my stupid job that brought us here. I want to go home as much as you.”

“Sarah, I—”

“Listen to me Leif Holt.” She fixed him with a pointed finger. “Get your head screwed on straight. We’re going to have a child, and you can’t keep obsessing about death and war. I know you got screwed up by what King did, but you’ve
got
to let it go. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes. I—”

“I’m not going to let you live,” she said, her face flushing, “under her shadow, nor your father’s once we bring this child into the world.”

“I—”

“I’m late,” she said as she whipped her lab coat from a chair back and walked out of the room. He heard the main quarters door slide open and shut. He was left in silence.

“I’m sorry…” he said to the empty room. He turned back to the viewport. She was, of course, right on all counts. He’d talk to her tonight. She’d be calmed down by then, probably already was. She had the temper of a fury, which cooled even faster… and God she was so beautiful when she was angry, face flushing, eyes narrow, glowing green. A shiver ran down his spine, and he smiled to himself. He loved her dearly and would do right by her… and the child.

Looking out on the ice, he thought how much he hated Europa, hated being trapped in steel cages for months on end.

In the silence of their quarters, the air vents hushing in the walls, he fell into his imagination, a simple house with white walls and broad, latticed windows, bamboo flooring and a dog. They’d live near the ocean and go for walks on the sand, the crab grass rough and spiking at their legs. The fresh breeze would swirl through her long hair as she held her rounded belly.

“When we get out of here,” he said to himself, “I’m going to take her to the ocean and sit on the beach and watch the waves for a week.”

He put his lab coat on and walked out the door.

 


 

“What the hell?” Simons said as Leif entered the Ice-Core Lab.

Leif glared at the young man. Phillip Simons found something to gripe about every day. At twenty-two and fresh out of college, he was an intelligent kid who’d had an easy life before coming here. If life on Europa station had been difficult for Leif, it had been much harder on Simons.

“You left the freezer door open yesterday.”

“What?” Leif had done no such thing.

“The damn freezer door to the core samples.”

“The main freezer?” Leif felt a shock rush through him as he imagined water dripping from the long core cases, all the mission’s physical specimens lost. There would be hell to pay… but the main freezer had temperature alarms and backups. Those specimens were worth the cost of the mission.

“Not the main freezer.” Phillip sat down, his shoulders hunching as he appeared to resign himself. “That would be the end of us. I don’t think they’d even fire us. Probably would just leave us here when everyone else left.”

“What melted, Phillip?”

“The samples we sliced yesterday. You left the freezer open.”

“The wafer freezer? I didn’t leave it open,” but even as he said it, Leif doubted himself. He hadn’t been thinking clearly in the last few weeks.


I
sure as hell didn’t, and there are only two of us working here.”

Leif held up his hands. “Okay, okay, I’m sorry. It must have been me. I haven’t been myself lately. I’ll slice new cores and redo the work from yesterday. You can move forward. If I have to work late to make up time, I will.”

Phillip pursed his lips, nodded, and returned to his work.

Leif didn’t need Phillip’s attitude today. He went to the head-high, circular hatch where, on the other side of the thick plate of steel, the rover crews stored the core samples from the drilling
operations in a long, narrow airlock. Leif looked through the dish-sized viewport. New sample cores had been delivered.

“Phillip.”

“What?”

“Did you know they delivered new cores this morning?”

“No deliveries were scheduled.”

“Well, there’s new cores in the airlock.”

“There shouldn’t be.” Phillip pushed him aside and looked into the small window. “Hell,” he said at having been proven wrong.

Leif walked over to the
comm-panel and touched the icon for Coring Operations. The screen went live as Dennis MacAlpine moved into view, his face too close to the camera. “How can I help you Mr. Holt?”

“Hey Dennis. Did you folks deliver new samples this morning?”

“Yes.”

“We weren’t expecting them.”

Dennis looked down. Leif heard fingers tapping on glass. “Yes. I apologize for the lack of warning.” He held up a tablet and smiled. “Calling you was on my to-do list.”

In the background, Leif caught sight of a beautiful woman, her long, red hair pulled back into a pony tail, which draped down the back of her white lab coat. Sometimes when Leif saw her, he could not believe he was married to her.

“…had an easy drilling session yesterday, so we stored two loads at the door.”

“Got it, just wanted to make sure. We’ll process them.”

Sarah looked over to the screen. Their eyes met as Dennis said, “Check,” and the comm-link went dead.

Leif touched the screen where she had stood. He put his head in his hands.

“You okay?” Phillip asked.

Leif looked at him, distrustful of the taciturn young man’s caring tone.

One of Phillip’s eyes narrowed, “What? I’m not always a prick.”

“Know thyself,” Leif said with a heartless laugh. He walked over to the airlock. “Sarah and I got into it this morning.”

Pressurizing the airlock, he unlatched the door and opened it. As he walked in, the metal-cased cores crusted with a hoar of frost. His breath billowing in the chill air, he looked over the labels. He could already feel himself shivering in the super-cooled air.

“Phillip.”

“What?”

“Dammit Phillip, just come over here.”

“Jeeze. All right, man. I’m comin’. Don’t take it out on me.”

“Don’t…? Are you—look, just gear up and bring me gloves and a coat. I need help bringing these in.”

In a few moments, Phillip entered the small space wearing a thick parka. He handed Leif a similar coat and fat, mitten-style gloves. Sliding past Leif, he walked down to the end of the airlock, inspecting the far ends of the sample tubes.

“They didn’t cap this one right.” He twisted the cap with his gloved hands. It popped free. “Shit,” Phillip said as the cap fell in the low gravity.

When the cap hit the floor, it rang out, and the floor began to shake. The walls rumbled. As Leif stared at the cores, shuddering under their straps, he tried to understand how the cap falling had caused the airlock to— The floor pitched and threw him into the sample tubes. With no gloves on yet, when his wrist touched the metal, it stuck.

A horrific cracking sound was followed by a hiss of air. Leif yanked his wrist free, tearing flesh away. In the lab, the air went white with mist as the area depressurized. The mist began flushing out the main doors. His ears popped. Jumping to the hatch, he punched the emergency-close switch, immediately frost-biting two of his knuckles. The airlock door slammed shut just as the walls, ceiling,
and floor bucked sideways. Hard coldness cracked his head, and the metal walls went black.

 


 

When Leif came to, he felt weightless, which wasn’t right. The gravity of Europa was light requiring frequent exercise and bone density training, but not this… not nothing.

A hand gripped him, turned him. Leif found himself facing Phillip, his face full with weightlessness.

Leif gripped the tough outer fabric of Phillip’s parka. “What happened? Was there an explosion in the lab?”

BOOK: Hammerhead Resurrection
3.6Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Tower of Fear by Cook, Glen
The Solomon Key by Shawn Hopkins
Race by David Mamet
The Karma Beat by Alexander, Juli
Once Burned by Suzie O'Connell
Nine & a Half Weeks by Elizabeth McNeill
Hello Devilfish! by Ron Dakron
Chasing the Dragon by Justina Robson