Pine Gap Teaser 03 – The Beast of Bourbon

Zombies and bourbon. What could be better?

Gabriel’s quarters were directly opposite Sebastian’s so he took a deep breath, shook off the alcohol fog, and crossed the park to find his bed. Two of the Mahjongg players from the train saw him and immediately stood to attention. The elevator door opened behind them and Drax knew what they were up to.  The mystery of Pine Gap was legend amongst the Terran armed forces and the new recruits were going on an adventure.  He would make changes tomorrow when his authority as the Head of Security was made official. Tonight they were someone else’s problem.

The Colonel’s security card had been coded to allow him access to his domicile with a simple wave in front of the scanner sensor in the door jamb. Upon entry every light was automatically switched on and Drax could see that his residence, with the exception of a few personal additions, was exactly the same as Botha’s.  The carpet on the lounge room floor was woven out of a soft down-like substance that melded with the individuals foot shape to provide comfort and support, whilst gently massaging the soles to relieve stress. Gabriel kicked off his boots and sighed at his toes were swathed in velvety bliss.  As he entered the kitchen the surface became more solid with mildly heated tiles that were no less pleasurable to walk on in spite of their rigidity. Feeling thirsty, and still a little giddy from the bourbon, Drax poured himself a glass of ice water from a jug in the refrigerator.  He drank some of the half frozen liquid, bent his head into the sink, and tipped the rest of it over the back of his neck. Gabriel stood there for a moment watching the water drip from his nose and splash onto the shiny metal surface of the drain and then decided that a hot bath would help him sleep. He ascended the stairs to the second level and noticed that the entire story was covered in polished floorboards which, like the kitchen tiles, were also kept at a comfortable temperature.  Three bedrooms and a bathroom didn’t hold much interest for him so he continued upwards towards the waiting spa. The master bedroom was carpeted in the same substance as the ground floor living area with a massive bed situated against the far wall. An imposing walk-in wardrobe with floor to ceiling mirrors stood opposite the bed and Drax could see that his uniforms had been neatly pressed and were hanging at attention. On the left hand side of the bed was the large double doors that opened onto the balcony at the front of the terrace and to the right was the en suite, which is where Drax headed. It took ten minutes to fill the spa to the desired level and the Colonel was left standing impatiently naked waiting for it to be ready.

The jets of hot water eventually began to massage his spine and Gabriel closed his eyes to enjoy the sensation.  Suddenly the serenity was broken by an unnatural sound on the stairs.  Drax thought he may be hearing things but switched off the spa to be sure.  His ears strained against the silence for what seemed an eternity then, just as he was about to give up and get back to the bath, he heard it again.  A scraping sound similar to a bag being dragged along a wooden floor, followed by the thump of a heavy footstep. Gabriel stepped quietly out of the tub and wrapped a towel around his waist.  He grabbed his laser pistol from the bed and headed to the top of the stairwell. Although he hadn’t shut off the lights the two floors below him were pitch black and the noise was getting closer.

“Identify yourself!”

The Colonel bellowed into the darkness and the noise stopped momentarily before quickening its pace. The soggy officer reached for the control panel to switch the lights back on but nothing he did would illuminate the stairway, so he positioned himself in a crouch and waited for the intruder to access the final landing.

Scrape-thump.

The noise was becoming progressively louder as it drew closer to him and Drax could feel his heart pounding faster than ever before.

Scrape-thump!

He had fought his way out of many tough situations but something here didn’t feel right, and his palms began to sweat.

Scrape-THUMP!

“Relax soldier.”

He was talking to himself.

SCRAPE-THUMP!

And then he saw it! A rotten, fetid corpse staggered around the corner and looked up at him with one ice blue eye. Maggots were still gnawing on the other eyeball whilst chunks of putrid skin and hair were hanging off the carcass forming morbid festoons of pus and gore. Drax retched on the stench of decay and fired his pistol at the approaching menace. The laser bolt went right through the creature’s chest cavity and impacted with the wall behind it splattering bone and coagulated blood. The – thing – swayed slightly on the step and the frightened man could see large black cockroaches crawling amongst the decomposing organs. He prepared to fire his pistol again but stopped when the creature held out a half empty bottle of brown spirits and began to speak.

“I thought you might want to finish the bourbon with me.”

Gabriel stared in utter disbelief as the suppurating cadaver of Sebastian Botha gurgled its horrible invitation, then fired his pistol once again. This time the laser bolt hit the liquor bottle and the alcohol burst into flames, setting his friend alight in a blaze of blue fire and black smoke. The cremation lasted only a few seconds and the Captain was reduced to a pile of charred bones and greasy ash.

Drax vomited onto the carpet then staggered back into the master bedroom.  He placed his pistol on the bed and, with his body quivering from the early onset of shock, allowed the towel to drop to the floor.

SCRAPE-THUMP!

All too late he heard the second corpse and was seized from behind by a grip that belied human physical strength. The monster wheezed through its disintegrating nasal passage.

“I’ve been waiting for you. Its time to have your bath”.

Before he knew it Drax was being dragged by his neck into the en suite and he saw, with a dread realisation, that he was about to be drowned in his own spa. He fought back with all the strength he could muster but was no match for the super human abilities of his captor. His head hit the tap as it was forced into the water, which prevented him from taking a deep enough breath. He opened his eyes and watched the blood from the cut on his forehead blend with the bath water and disperse. His hands were still free so he planted them firmly on the floor of the spa and pushed up with all his might until his head broke the surface and he was able to gulp down some life saving oxygen. Then he was drowning again and the force holding him down was not about to let him fill his lungs for a second time. Finally the terror of his experience and the hopelessness of his situation registered and he panicked. His arms thrashed around in the water clawing at the creature holding him under. Pieces of graying skin and muscle came away in his hands as his fingers scraped against the arm bones of his assailant. The water turned a muddy brown colour as it became diluted with the filth of the decaying carrion he was tearing apart. Finally, as he was on the verge of passing out it spoke to him again.

“What’s the matter?  Don’t you like to be clean?”

Pine Gap © Matthew Green 2004

Pine Gap is available in Amazon Australia, the UK and worldwide.

Pine Gap Teaser 02 – Arachnophobia

Here’s the second snippet from my novel – Pine Gap. It is available in Amazon Australia, the UK and worldwide. I hope you find it entertaining.

Two tired Tullimbar soldiers trudged wearily through the open elevator doors. It was a long and tedious journey from the basement to the apex of Pine Gap and they would have to do it all over again after they visited the Chief Science Officer. As their transport crossed from level fifty-five to level fifty-four the lift shuddered, then struggled to move as if it were being pulled back by a colossal weight. The motor strained and cried out with a high-pitched whine that steadily increased in tone and volume, whilst the cables groaned in mechanical pain. Suddenly, as it extricated itself from its entrapment, the elevator launched skyward with a mighty jolt that sent the men smashing into the ceiling before dumping them onto the floor.

“What the hell was that?”

“I’ve no idea, but it felt like something was blocking the shaft. We should check it out.”

The bruised soldiers hastily reversed direction of the elevator and began their descent. Once again the car seemed to grind its way through the unknown obstruction, although this time the progress was a little easier. Finally it stopped and the doors opened. The sight that befell them was incredible. Thin strands of gossamer floated in the gentle stillness whilst glistening angels hair extended between the prison cells on both sides and up into the elevator shaft. So captivated were they by the beauty that both men stepped out of the car simultaneously and sealed their fate.

The lights in the ceiling reflected a dazzling brilliance from the delicate, silky threads as the spectrum exploded into tiny rainbows that shifted position depending on the viewer’s perspective.  Neither man had seen anything like this before. The awestruck visitors walked along the soft, cottony surface until they noticed that their impetus was gradually being impeded by an invisible force field. The lead soldier knelt down to touch the floor and was instantly puzzled to find his hand had become adhered to the substance they were standing on. He turned to look up at his partner in time to see the blue and yellow abdomen of a Catonque spider drop from the ceiling above his friend’s head. He watched in horror as the beast sunk its humongous fangs into the unfortunate man’s neck.

The crouching soldier wrenched his hand from the glued glove and attempted to extract the pistol from its holster. The floating threads that had been tickling his neck would not yield however and his entire torso was immobilised, held fast by invisible fingers of immense strength. He tried to kick his feet free from his boots and found that this was an impossible task. The more he struggled the more he stuck.

Long spindly legs began to emerge from the cell on the left. A second Catonque spider was slowly creeping towards him with a visage that betrayed its malicious intent. He realised now what had happened, he and his friend had blundered into their nest.

He frantically tugged once more at his shoes, but his feet were cemented to the floor.

The creature crept closer.

With his strength waning the Tullimbar veteran fought in vain to free himself from the sticky filaments.

The spider crawled onto his foot.

He unloaded a stream of vociferous obscenities upon the arachnid and it reacted as only a soulless arthropod would, by biting him.

The doomed man screamed in agony as dual five centimetre long chelicerae punctured his leg and injected their venom. The thick, sticky poison began coursing through his bloodstream, melting his internal organs and reducing his insides into a gooey humanoid soup.

Eight lidless, emotionless eyes looked at him and then everything went black.

Pine Gap Teaser 01 – Derailed

Here’s a small snippet from my first novel – Pine Gap. There’s more to come over the next couple of months, but if you can’t wait to find out what happens to our intrepid hero the please feel free to buy my book. It is available in Amazon Australia, the UK and worldwide.

Colonel Gabriel Drax had left the blazing, shattered remains of the Pine Gap Express strewn over the desert far behind him. He was the sole survivor of the catastrophe and needed to get to higher ground in order to call for help. The hot sand scorched his feet through rugged, yet well-worn military boots and he struggled to maintain momentum, sinking to depths as high as his calf muscles with every single strength-sapping step. The centuries-old hole in the ozone layer had super-heated the desert floor so that it was like wading through molten rock and although his footwear could withstand this sort of punishment for a while, they would not last forever.

The rocky outcrop on the horizon looked like an oasis and Gabriel knew it was his only chance to find safety from the Sand Sharks who were beginning to circle. These amazing marsupials had evolved over more than a thousand years to adapt to their hostile environment. With strong legs they are able to ‘swim’ through the loose earth while their round flat tails tune into the vibrations of their prey on the surface. Although the juveniles can only hunt at night, the adult Sharks possess a unique body cooling system that prevents their internal organs from boiling inside them and their tough hides are practically resistant to the baking temperatures of the sunlight. Colonel Drax had encountered these creatures only once since leaving the wreckage and had come off second best.

Time passed slowly as Gabriel trudged forward grasping his laser pistol tightly in his left hand; his right having been torn off at the wrist several hours earlier. He had done his best to close the wound with the remaining strips of cloth left over from his medikit but eventually he had to cauterize the stump with a white-hot blast from his gun. Years of military experience had taught the Colonel how to survive in the worst possible environments however hunger, thirst and fatigue were beginning to take their toll and the pursuing Sharks knew it.

The oasis was looking more like a mirage.

As he extricated his foot from the sucking soil and plopped it down again for the ten thousandth time Gabriel scanned the desert around him for any sign of the inevitable assault. These specialised predators attacked from below at a terrifying pace, with an insatiable hunger and teeth that can pierce metal. A slight rippling in the landscape ahead of him alerted the soldier to the next challenge and he was equal to the task. Gabriel fired his pistol at the erupting mound of sand and managed to shoot an alpha male in the skull as it attempted to exit its burrow. The extirpated animal silently collapsed onto the dirt with dark crimson fluid pouring from the large laceration. Food was scarce in the desert and Sand Sharks were not afraid to cannibalize their own kind, especially when they were injured, dying or dead.  The Colonel had bought himself some time but he knew that once they had the carcass torn up and delivered back to their burrows he would once again be on the menu.

Gabriel was left in peace for what seemed an eternity yet he was well aware that, with his water supply exhausted and his feet beginning to blister, death was not far away. The smell of his own charred flesh and singed hair made him gag, leaving the bitter taste of bile on the back of his tongue, when the rocky outcrop suddenly materialised out of the heat haze and he realised he was almost there. The elation of relief brought with it a painful lapse of concentration as a hungry Shark surfaced between his legs and tore a sizable slice out of his thigh. The femoral artery had been severed and the blood flow was frenetic. Gabriel fell onto the sand and started crawling towards sanctuary. The pain was intense as burned skin flaked from his fingers, but when he hauled himself onto the first piece of hard ground he had felt since boarding the train in Sydney the grim-faced warrior actually smiled.

As Gabriel rolled over onto his back he felt a tugging motion on the leg that had been bitten and looked down to see it was gone. His mortality gushed forth in scarlet spurts as he desperately tried to use his frayed belt as a tourniquet. Three more ripples were moving towards him from different directions so he checked his laser pistol, only to find that the charge was empty. The blissful delirium faded and Colonel Drax was resigned to his fate.

A trio of Sand Sharks surfaced only two meters from where he lay. Gabriel had been found by a pack of hunting females and he knew that it would all be over very soon. The lead Shark walked towards him and stood inches from his face. She was an extraordinary example of creature cunning, strength and intelligence, a being that had survived beyond all odds and, despite her harsh appearance, Colonel Drax thought she was beautiful. He expected her breath to smell of death and decay but instead she radiated an intoxicating mix of perfumed aromas. So incredible was the fragrance that he relaxed and offered her his throat.

Pine Gap © Matthew Green 2004

Pine Gap Synopsis 2018

With my novel ‘Pine Gap’ now being published through Blurb and Amazon Australia, UK and worldwide. I thought I would share a synopsis for you so you can see what all the fuss is about.

Deep in the heart of the Australian desert an impenetrable military prison is being invaded by an insidious aggressor. Time is running out for the small defence force who are no match for rotting corpses, giant spiders, voracious sabellids and the other alien beasts that begin appearing around the facility. As the indiscriminate killings continue only the arrival of Colonel Gabriel Drax gives the fractured team any chance of survival. But will this brilliant tactician lead them to safety, or is he too late?

Pine Gap is a science fiction / action novel set in the thirty first century. I chose to use Pine Gap as the main setting because of its remote presence in the Australian outback and the fact that public knowledge about what is actually at Pine Gap is more conjectural than fact. A quick search on the Internet will provide the reader with many theories both plausible and fanciful as to the true workings of this facility. Pine Gap’s mystique makes for good subject matter.

In my novel, Pine Gap has been converted into an impenetrable prison where the hardest criminals in the Universe are sent. Its construction is entirely underground and so well defended that it has also become a databank for the intellectual property of all the peaceful nations within the galaxy. Bank accounts, patents, military secrets etc are stored here alongside monsters, terrorists and captured enemy Generals. In spite of all its security however, someone is managing to get in.

The main protagonist is Colonel Gabriel Drax. He is a highly decorated officer and a skilled military tactician who was born in Australia and has been brought to the Gap in order to provide security. Gabriel suffered an accident as a child, which required in experimental surgery to be performed on his brain. As a result of his many operations Gabriel often has vague nightmares warning him about the future. All the while that he is trying to build a defensive position he is bombarded by an abstruse extrasensory perception. He knows that he is going to be betrayed but he does not know if it will be his friend, his enemy or his lover.

The other main characters are:

Admiral Dargan – He is the incumbent commander of Pine Gap who places Colonel Drax in charge. Gabriel knows that Dargan is developing something sinister in the bowels of the facility and it doesn’t take long to deduce what that is. Dargan has a long history of incompetent leadership and as a result he is despised by many of his subordinates especially Colonel Drax.

Major Katana May from Military Intelligence who is Admiral Dargan’s niece. Katana has a fiery temper, which lands her in hot water on more than one occasion. Gabriel develops a fondness for her regardless of her relationship to Admiral Dargan and in spite of the fact he knows she has been ordered to spy on him.

Captain Sebastian Botha who is Gabriel’s closest friend. Sebastian is a loyal soldier and confidant who would follow Gabriel into the depths of hell if need be. Their friendship was forged over years of fighting side by side during various campaigns throughout the Universe. Sebastian enjoys telling stories of their battles to the other troopers and sharing bourbon with his friend.

Lilakoi Paige who is the Chief Science Officer and Gabriel’s love interest. Lily is an incredibly intelligent scientist whom Gabriel is always trying to keep up with. She was brought to Pine Gap to assist Admiral Dargan achieve his insidious goals but she is in love with Gabriel and cannot seem to focus properly on her efforts. The more she falls for him the more she becomes conflicted about her actions.

Lieutenant Nick Schiffiletti who manages the Communications. Nick is a young, small-framed boy in his early twenties with a natural flair for computers. He is in charge of ensuring that Admiral Dargan’s communiqués are kept private and that the experiment remains a secret. He is also somewhat of a military historian with a deep respect for the Drax family. The arrival of Gabriel makes Nick think twice about his part in the Admiral’s deception.

Declan Sharkey, a mercenary who is leading the invasion. Declan is an ex soldier who was too violent to remain in the armed forces. He is an evil, smooth talking murderer who leads a group of insurgents with similar tendencies.

The Jones Brothers are three humanoids from the planet Tortia who are financing the mercenaries. Tortians are a race of people who have been genetically enhancing their appearances for generations. As a result their DNA has changed to the point that they all look exactly the same. The downside is they have become genetically perfect geniuses that are also criminally insane.

Garou, a shape-shifter and tribal chieftain from Scarag. He and his family are being used as pawns in the Tortian’s plans.

There are many other minor characters that will engage the reader in their own unique way. There is Fricassee Phil, the ancient chef who dispenses wisdom alongside his bacon and eggs. The grim Master Chief, leader of the last remaining squad of Red Cap soldiers in the Universe. Mo, the gruff Tullimbar Sergeant who befriends the Master Chief in spite of their differences and General Garorky Katarg a high ranking officer of the Magadatch army who are at war with Earth and our allies.

Throughout the novel the characters develop and change. Friends become enemies and enemies become allies. There is love, death and romance intermingled with jealousy, greed and infighting as Gabriel attempts to unite the troops and repel the invaders. Families splinter and murderers are exposed as the troops learn to trust one another and their leader in a desperate bid for survival.

Pine Gap © Matthew Green 2004