Today Tom Olbert is back to share an excerpt from his recent release, Long Haul.
Science Fiction lovers: Like action/adventure with a quirky style? Check out LONG HAUL from Mocha Memoirs Press; a fun, action-packed novella that combines cosmic sci-fi with wise-cracking, free-wheelin’ trucker action…
In the near future, physicists have stumbled on a way to channel dark energy, making it possible to instantaneously travel anywhere in the world by passing through parallel universes as they intersect with our continuum at given points in time and space. Daredevil truck drivers like the protagonist, Garth Jenkins and his trucking partner Sally Drake, earn hazardous duty pay by trucking cargo through perilous alternate universes often infested with deadly alien predators. Garth and Sally are offered a mysterious and possibly illegal contract to deliver some unknown cargo to unknown buyers in another universe. En route to the transdimensional drop-off point, their truck is hijacked by Keira Takahashi, a beautiful and radical young college student who claims they are carrying a nuclear device and are being used by evil alien forces intent on destroying another universe. At first, Garth and Sally dismiss the young woman’s story as madness, until hostile aliens in undead human bodies make an attempt on her life. Finding themselves on the run and not knowing whom they can trust, Garth and Sally embark on a crooked road through dangerous alien universes and remote time periods, with the fate of a cosmos at stake.
I glanced over. My jaw dropped. “Oh, Jesus…” A big mama long-legs was pulling itself up out from under the desert sand. That damn sucker was big as a freight train with legs like bridge supports and a maw like a railway tunnel. Five or six rows of diamond teeth long as jack-hammers, blue electrical flashes cracklin’ across ‘em. It was comin’ towards us fast. The ground shook like an earthquake when it moved.
“Keira, get in the sleeper cab, and pass me that anti-tank gun,” Sal yelled. “Yeah that’s it. Close the door!” Sal got a bead on that big angry mother as it came in close, roarin’ like an angry, bucking bull. She fired, the shell cuttin’ a smoke-trail straight as ya please, exploding against the tip of one of that oversized crayfish’s forward legs. The leg collapsed under big mama’s weight, and she tumbled to her side. I could feel the rig rattlin’ through my innards, bouncin’ over the road like a rubber ball as the ground shook.
“Whew! Sal, when we get outta this, I am gonna buy you the biggest damn’ bottle of whiskey you ever…Oh, crap.” Three more of those big mother monsters rose up out of the sand. In the distance, but coming up fast. A fourth one came up on the other side of the road. Then, a fifth. My heart was poundin’ fit to split my chest wide open. I looked at the clock. We were coming up fast on the intersection, and interface had started. But, we were still about 20 seconds shy of rift point. I looked both ways, and those suckers were closin’ in fast. We damn’ well couldn’t wait for the clock. “Hang on, ladies.” I floored it and switched in the D.E. injectors. The air rippled and my insides turned to mush as we hit the intersection and the rift opened.
Next thing I know, the desert highway’s gone and we’re driving over bumpy ground, big leafy palm fronds or something whippin’ against the windshield. I’m about to hit the brakes when the truck thumps against something. Something alive. It squeals and cracks the windshield as it tumbles across the hood and over the roof of the cab before I hear it slump to the ground behind us. I hit the brake pedal and the truck grinds to a stop. I exhale, sweat streamin’ down my face as I look at Sal. She’s starin’ at me like I just hit a school bus or somethin’. “You okay?” I asked, once I could get the words out.
“Yeah,” she said, looking back at the sleeper and banging on the door. “Keira!” she yelled. “You all right?” She exhaled, looking damned relieved as the door opened and Keira leaned out.
“Yeah, I’m fine. Are you?” Sally nodded and smiled at her. “You were incredible,” Keira whispered, worship shining in her eyes as she and Sally hugged.
“Uh, ladies, I hate to break up this tender moment, but I think we oughta’ find out where and when the hell we are. ‘Cause I got a feelin’ that twister didn’t land us in Kansas.”
“This the home ‘verse?” Sally asked.
“Oh yeah, no question,” I said, checking the nav screen. “I wasn’t that far off. It’s our Earth, I know that much. I don’t know about the time, though. I was doin’ 90 when we hit the rift, and I didn’t have time to check the clock. Let’s get out and have a look around.”
“Stay put, Keira,” Sally said, cocking her 45. I took the AK47 and we both climbed out of the cab. We were in a jungle of some kind, hot tropical sun beating down through a thick green canopy. It was hot and steamy and smelled a helluva lot cleaner than home usually did. I saw why right off, as we walked a few yards back and saw what I’d hit layin’ dead in our tracks. It was about six feet long, its mouth hanging open in a death grimace.
“Aw, hell,” I said. It was a velociraptor. Yeah, one of those big, mean lizard things you saw in that Jurassic Park movie. I didn’t even want to think about how I was supposed to right this up in the log book. Our insurance didn’t cover dinosaur collisions. On the other hand, at least there wouldn’t be any smokey’s to right me a ticket for another 65 million years or so.