Thursday, February 10, 2011
Final Vector by Allan Leverone Lands Today!
Thriller writer Allan Leverone's debut novel Final Vector is coming in for a landing Friday February 11th. And Allan has been good enough to give us all a sneak peek at his book right here. Judging from the excerpt, it looks like this book is going to be keeping a lot of folks up late at night turning the pages. A little less sleep is worth it though. Who needs sleep when you've got books like this one? Here is Allan Leverone, the man who's going to be responsible for all those people sleeping on the job...
Thanks, Julia, for your support and for offering to feature an excerpt from FINAL VECTOR on your blog! I want to reassure anyone who feels you have to be an aviation enthusiast in order to enjoy the book that you couldn’t be more wrong. All you have to be is a fan of the thriller genre. To prove it, allow me to offer up the following excerpt. In it, a small band of mostly home-grown terrorists are launching their attack on the air traffic control radar facility serving Boston’s Logan International Airport, with potentially deadly consequences…
FINAL VECTOR Chapter 27
Jim Shay was bone tired. Working two jobs—one of which required him to be alert between 12:00 and 8:00 a.m. while the rest of the world slumbered snugly in their beds—was a major pain in the ass. But with five kids and a wife who spent money like they had a printing press in their basement, he had no choice but to do what he was doing. “Keep on keepin’ on,” as the song lyrics went.
On the bright side, this BCT security gig was a piece of cake once you got past the terrible hours. He worked days as a Merri¬mack town cop, slept in the afternoon and early evening, then put on his generic security guard’s uniform and drove to this out-of-the-way government facility to work the graveyard shift five nights a week. As the sun peeked over the evergreen trees in the morning, he would leave the BCT and drive straight to the Merrimack Police Department to begin the whole exhausting cycle all over again.
It was a tiring life, boring too, but the way Jim saw it, he had no real reason to bitch. The United States government paid damned good money to maintain a minimum staffing level of two armed guards at the BCT 24/7, and Jim was thankful he had been selected to fill one of the slots when the air traffic control facility opened seven years ago. In this economy, when a lot of people were scrambling to keep one job, Jim wasn’t going to complain about having two.
He leaned back in his rolling office chair and yawned. As tempting as it was to close his eyes and take a quick power nap, Jim was too conscientious to ever sleep on duty. It wouldn’t be right. More to the point, if he got caught, he would definitely get fired, and what would he do then? Lucy was sure as hell not going to stop spending money, and there was no way he’d ever find another second job that paid the kind of scratch this one did.
At least he had someone to talk to; that little bonus helped pass the time. In keeping with the FAA’s policy, there were always at least two people manning the guard shack at all times, even in the middle of the night. And although his night shift partner, Morris Stapleton, wasn’t going to make anyone forget Albert Ein¬stein and didn’t exactly set the world on fire with his initiative, he had a pretty good sense of humor and loved to talk sports, so for the most part, the nights went by as quickly as Jim had any right to expect.
Thinking of Morris made Jim wonder what was taking him so long to return from his perimeter patrol. There were only three duties mandated by the government on the overnight shift: maintain a con¬stant presence in the guard shack, screening traffic at the front gate at all times; scan the bank of monitors showing the real-time video feed from the dozens of CCTV security cameras inside and outside the BCT building; and patrol the perimeter of the property and the inside of the BCT building several times a night.
In other words, do a little bit of law enforcement.
Over the course of their partnership, Jim and Morris had worked out an agreement whereby they would trade off perimeter patrol duties on alternating nights. Walking perimeter patrol was by far the most distasteful of the job’s few requirements, since it involved exercise often conducted in weather conditions that were less than desirable.
Tonight was Morris’s turn to Walk the Line, as they called it, and he was pretty fortunate; the conditions weren’t too bad. It was cool, and it was going to rain later. But for now the air was still, and although the atmosphere was saturated with moisture, the rain had thus far held off.
As Jim considered whether he should go look for Morris— maybe the fat slob had suffered a heart attack and was even now lying facedown and motionless behind the building—he noticed the vague shape of his partner coming into focus in the dim, hazy glow of the sodium vapor arc lights spaced at regular intervals around the property. Morris was still far off across the open empty expanse of field bordering the access road, ambling along like he always did. Jim often wondered if Morris even knew how to run. If he did, Jim had never seen any evidence of it.
Jim turned his attention toward a large imitation maple console that ran alongside the front interior wall of the guard shack. The con¬sole contained a series of small closed-circuit television monitors, each one countersunk into the surface so that only its viewing screen protruded. The guards had had a few close calls with spilling coffee onto the damned things, but so far, thank God, none of the accidents had fried any of the monitors.
He wondered how much money would be withheld from his paycheck to replace a monitor if he destroyed one and shuddered. They were just basic black-and-white CCTV monitors, five inches tall by seven inches wide, but with the United States government doing the purchasing, undoubtedly the sky was the limit on the price of the goddamned things. Each one probably priced out at upward of a thousand bucks or something.
He glanced at the three rows of monitors, looking away and then doing a double take. Something was wrong with camera 17, the one mounted on a swivel high on the southeast corner of the BCT building. It provided the only video coverage of the grounds directly behind that portion of the building, and the camera had just shit the bed, or else the monitor itself was on the fritz. All that was being displayed was interference, like the snow you used to get on the broadcast TV channels—in the Dark Ages before cable—in the middle of the night when the station was off the air.
Jim tried to remember whether that particular monitor had been working the last time he checked and was pretty sure it had been; he would have noticed if the screen had been grey and fuzzy like it was now. It wasn’t all that unusual for the cameras to suffer glitches, though. He would have to ask Morris if he had noticed anything unusual in that area when he made it back to the shack. He had passed by there just a couple of minutes ago. Where was he? Christ, that guy was slow.
Finally the man’s bulk filled the open doorway. Jim registered him entering in his peripheral vision but continued watching camera 17’s monitor as if he could somehow will the piece of crap to begin operating normally again. It would certainly make life easier if he could.
“Check out this piece of shit,” Jim said, glancing up at the man and immediately freezing in place, his blood running cold. He had no fucking idea who was standing inside the guard shack’s bulletproof door dressed in Morris’s ill-fitting uniform, but it certainly wasn’t Morris. This guy was shorter than Morris, squat and power¬fully built, with curly jet-black hair sticking out of his blue ball cap at odd angles, making it look as though he had a bunch of antennae coming out of his head. Kind of like Uncle Martin on My Favorite Martian, the old TV comedy he had loved when he was a kid.
But there was nothing funny about the gun the guy was pointing at Jim’s chest. He held the weapon securely in a two-handed shooter’s grip like he knew exactly what he was doing, and he appeared com¬pletely at ease. “Check out what piece of shit, my friend?” he said pleasantly in a high-pitched nasally voice tinged with traces of a New York accent.
“Who the fuck are you?”
“I would think you might try to take a more civil tone, considering I have absolute control over whether you live or die in the next few seconds.”
Jim tried to get his breathing under control as he considered his options. There weren’t many. He could try to draw his weapon on the man, but it was holstered at his hip, held in place by a thick leather strap. He would have to unsnap the strap, lift the gun, and shoot in one smooth motion before the guy squeezed the trigger on his own weapon, which he now recognized as a Glock very similar to his own. Odds of success: pretty fucking slim.
Other options? He couldn’t think of any, except maybe to keep the guy talking. Slow things down a little. Maybe he would have the opportunity to get a jump on this character if he could draw things out and establish some control over the situation. Easier said than done, though, especially since this guy looked like a pro.
“Yeah, you’re right. Sorry about that, dude. Let me try a different question: Where’s my partner?”
“Partner? What partner? You had a partner?” The guy had a wiseass smirk on his face, and Jim realized he was playing with him. He also realized the guy said “had a partner,” not “have a partner.” He didn’t like the choice of wording and didn’t think it was accidental.
He pushed on. Keep the guy talking. Wait for an opportunity. What choice did he have? “Yeah, my partner, the man whose uniform you’re now wearing. I gotta tell ya—he fills it out a lot better than you do.”
“Not anymore he don’t.” The man’s dark eyes had gone cold, and they glittered dangerously. He held the gun perfectly centered on Jim’s chest. His hands looked relaxed and steady. This guy knew what he was doing. “He won’t be filling any uniforms out anymore, good or bad.”
Jim’s heart sank. Unless the guy was playing with him again, and that certainly appeared unlikely, he was making it clear that Morris was dead. Matters suddenly became much more dire, if that was pos¬sible. Question: What could be worse than a man pointing a loaded gun at you from no more than seven feet away? Answer: A man who had just killed another human being in cold blood pointing a gun at you from no more than seven feet away.If this crazy bastard really had murdered Morris, then clearly he had nothing to lose. He was already facing a lethal injection and would have zero reason to allow Jim to live and every reason in the world not to. Jim knew he should be shaking, should be shitting his pants actually, but he felt a strange sort of Zen calm envelop him. He had been in bad situations before, serving two tours with the Marine Corps in the Middle East, where there was virtually no respect for human life among many of the people; they just didn’t place the same value on it that Westerners did.
He had survived confrontations with men who were twice as savage and cunning as this young man, and Jim was sure if he kept his wits about him that he could survive this, too. He just had to figure out how.
“So Morris is out of the picture. That’s too bad, man, but we can still resolve things without anyone else dying. Especially me. That sound reasonable to you? What’s your name?”
The guy coughed out a harsh laugh like the question was the funniest thing he had heard all night. His dead shark eyes narrowed. He probably knew exactly what Jim was trying to do. “Okay, I’ll play along, seeing how we’re becoming so close and all. My name’s Jackie. Jackie Corrigan. It make you feel better knowing my name?”
“Not really, Jackie. Since we’re being honest with each other, I have to tell you it makes me feel damned uncomfortable. It makes me feel like you’ve already decided what you’re going to do with me, and I’m afraid it’s something that I’m not going to like very much.”
A genuine smile flitted across the man’s face and disappeared. “I like you. You’ve got balls. In a different life we could have been friends. It’s too bad I’ve got to do this. No hard feelings, okay?”
In that instant Jim knew what was coming and tried to fling himself backward. The guard shack was small and packed with equipment, and there was virtually no place to take cover, but Jim was literally a sitting duck in that chair, propped up right in front of the killer with the Glock. He pushed off with his feet and launched himself up and over the back of the chair just as the first shot came. The pistol roared, and fire spit out of the muzzle. Jim screamed, and against all odds he almost missed that first shot.
Almost but not quite. The bullet caught Jim in the right wrist, and blood splattered all over the far wall. For a split second Jim wondered whether they would take the cost of repainting the building’s interior out of his pay, and then the man fired again. This time his aim was true, as Jim had run out of room. The bullet struck him in the center of the chest, opening up a ragged gaping hole and causing a gushing wave of blood to soak his uniform shirt.
Jim found himself crumpled on his back on the console, his uninjured left hand resting just inches from the telephone. He reached for it instinctively, but before he could punch a single button, a third bullet pierced his neck, and the curtain came down on his world as rapidly and as completely as the end of a Broadway show, except there would be no applause. His last aching thought was of Lucy, and then the world went black.
If you’re interested in learning more about FINAL VECTOR, feel free to check out my website, www.allanleverone.com, as well as my publisher’s website, www.medallionpress.com, or the video book trailer, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86g7_negT8o.