Post Traumatic Stress – Prologue
My new novel, Post Traumatic Stress, will be available on August 1, 2017. You can pre-order it now directly from Silver Empire, or wait until July 25th to pre-order it from Amazon.com. Either way, today you can enjoy a sample chapter. The prologue is below.
It is through suffering that the soul is purified.
Every soldier brings demons home from war. But when Sergeant Michael Alexander came home to Athens, Georgia from Afghanistan, his war demons started kidnapping local college girls. Things got crazy when Michael tried to stop him.
Then the dragon arrived.
Post Traumatic Stress is a roller coaster thrill ride. It hooks you, clicks up to the peak, then sends you screaming all the way down. Masterfully done.
- Chapter One
Tora Bora, Afghanistan
The conspiracy nuts would have a field day with this one. The Major already knew that the truth would never, ever see the light of day. He could already imagine some of the crazy theories they’d spin. But whatever they came up with would never match what had actually happened over the last few days. That thought almost made him laugh out loud. Almost.
He surveyed the strangers around him, still trying to wrap his head around everything. The Monk knelt off to the side, praying in Latin. The Major didn’t understand a word of it. But there was strength in that prayer – strength and power. It rang forth with the clear voice of a true believer. Its energy drew in everyone around him. For a moment, they all believed.
The Old Man calmly directed suppressive fire toward the cave entrance. He set careful fire zones to ensure a clear path to safety for the last handful of fleeing soldiers. He knew his work well. Clearly he’d had military experience in the past.
His team was the best. Today, that hadn’t been enough. Bodies littered the ground around the cave entrance. Plenty more remained hidden underground. But the official report wouldn’t show that. The casualties would show up on another report from another operation on another day. Families would be told their loved ones had died in battles they’d never fought; some of them in places the soldiers had never visited.
Officially, those men had never been here.
The Commander had commandeered his radio after those REMFs back at headquarters had denied him permission for an airstrike. The Major and his team called in air strikes all the time – and they’d called in plenty earlier that day. He didn’t understand why he lacked the authority for this one.
Whoever he was, the Commander didn’t have that problem. He barked a few strange phrases into the radio, obviously code words. A brief moment later, the authorization came back.
His soldiers held their positions, maintaining fire despite their frazzled nerves. Under the circumstances it seemed like a miracle. Yet despite their lack of preparation for the day’s horrors, they really were the best of the best. Now that they’d escaped that death trap, he knew that they would hold. He brimmed with pride at their performance today. Even by their own superhuman standards, every man among them had gone above and beyond.
The buzzing of an incoming aircraft caught his attention. He snapped his head to the sky, and found it quickly. The propeller driven C-130 Hercules flew low for this one – right around six thousand feet. The unguided “dumb” ordinance didn’t have much precision. To be fair, a bomb that size didn’t need much precision. But it did need some, and that meant flying low. And then he saw it – the parachute popping out the rear of the plane, followed by the gleaming silver oblong blob. It even looked like one of the largest bombs ever built.
The BLU-82 packs almost thirteen thousand pounds of GSX explosive into one package. The five thousand foot blast radius and resulting mushroom cloud often confuse observers into believing that they’ve witnessed a nuclear explosion. Developed during the Vietnam War, its ability to flatten even the flowers quickly led to its nickname. They called it the “Daisy Cutter.”
The Major watched the device fall downward toward the mouth of the cave, noting thankfully that his men had all cleared the blast zone. This one would be loud. And jarring. The parachute took almost three minutes to deliver its payload. Those three minutes felt like an eternity.
A shout rose up among the men as a shadow emerged from the cave. All went quiet for a moment, as they recognized the shape that had terrorized them in the darkness. Then the Knight emerged, injured and weary. Despite his obvious fatigue, he launched straight into a ferocious assault on the dark form. The men cheered.
His team didn’t need orders. Every man among them knew they owed their own lives to the Knight. He’d been the one to engage that thing, buying them all time to escape. They shifted their aim and unloaded everything they had into it. Hundreds of rounds of ammunition pounded it, to minimal effect. Still, they fired away – anything to help the Knight, but most of all, anything to keep that nightmare inside the target zone.
The Knight glanced to the sky. He clearly knew what came his way, yet he never wavered. He never even tried to escape. He knew what everyone else knew. If he let that shadowy terror escape, it would all be for nothing. So he attacked with everything he had, keeping his opponent pinned down just inside the cave mouth.
The show ended with an explosive finale. The bombardiers knew their work. The combatants, barely out of the blast radius, found themselves blinded and deafened. If anything, the quiet that followed disturbed them even more. Nothing moved within the blast zone. His men ceased fire. What would be the point? Anything that could survive that would laugh off their remaining weapons.
Hours later, after the blast zone had cooled, the strangers led a hunt through the rubble. The blast had vaporized everything. Not a trace remained of the shadow, nor could they find any remains of the Knight. The Major had thought nothing else could surprise him that day. He learned he was wrong when they found it. It gleamed bright after they wiped the ash off. He couldn’t find even a tiny scratch on it.
The strangers brought it out of the blast zone and lay it in a clearing. Kneeling before it, the Monk led a prayer for their fallen comrade. The Major knelt and joined in. His men followed – every one of them, men of all faiths, even atheists. Not necessarily for God or for the Christ that the Monk prayed to, but for this man, this Knight, who had given his life for them. Soldiers, one and all, saluted a fallen comrade. Afterward, the Commander wrapped the artifact carefully and packed it up.
Night would fall soon. The Afghanis wouldn’t support an assault in the dark, even after the bombing. After what he’d seen in the cave, the Major didn’t blame them. They’d send a team down in daylight to sift through the rubble and see if they could identify the bodies.
The strangers joined them silently on the trek back to their base camp. But they slipped away in the night, bypassing even his watch. The Monk, the Old Man, the Commander and the Knight. He didn’t know their names or where they came from or where they went. But he knew what he’d seen in that cave, and it altered his life forever.
The conspiracy theorists would have a field day, yes. But their wild theories didn’t have anything on the truth.
Pre-order it now directly from Silver Empire, or wait until July 25th to pre-order it from Amazon.com.