I have fallen in love with a boy…not in the way you may think. The boy is Bobbie Cagle, the protagonist of my new book (and currently my work in progress) Rabble. This isn’t really that big of a confession. I fall in love with most…no all my characters, and yes, even the villains.
I’m also in a serious case of like with Imago, Bobbie’s wise friend, Allison (his new friend and maybe future love interest), and even Mr. M, Morritee, who, if you’ve read Babble (book 1) will know is quite evil. (And shameless plug, if you’ve not read Babble, Click Here to buy your copy (epub, PDF, or .mobi) direct from me and by-pass all the hassles of Amazon, etc.
But I digress. Here’s the opening Prologue to Rabble. (Warning! It’s not gone through the full editing process yet.) I hope you enjoy it. I would also appreciate if you’d leave a comment below. Thanks
Brad (aka Orrin Jason Bradford)
Green Bank, West Virginia 6:17 PM
Angela Cagle watched as the Homeland Security agent fell from the ladder and struck the floor with a resounding thud. The fall drove the rebar she had speared him with through his body and projected out his left side. She gasped in horror, a mixture of shock and the satisfaction on her face, to see the devastating results she had produced to save her son, Bobbie. As the man lay on the floor, writhing in pain, Angie stepped deftly around him. She started climbing the ladder to follow her son in case he needed her assistance to complete his mission, whatever that might be.
She reached the trap door through which Bobbie had disappeared just moments before. She stuck her head out in time to see him leaning precariously from the ladder, his newest tower in one hand pointing towards the very top of the radio telescope. Go, Bobbie, Angie thought. You can do it. A second later, one end of the tower connected with the radio telescope and locked in place with a metallic click. Before she could shout her congratulations, she watched in stunned silence as Bobbie lost his balance and plummeted towards the reflecting surface of the giant telescope.
“Oh my God, no!” Angie shouted as her son disappeared from view. She leaned over the edge of the trap door. As she followed his descent, she felt her entire body cringe as she waited for the sound of his body crashing to the hard surface. Angie paused, a second, then another, and then another but heard nothing. How is that possible? She wondered, questioning her own hearing while, at the same time, praying for a miracle that might save her son’s life.
She backed out of the trap door and down the ladder. She paused for a moment to stare at the Homeland Security agent lying on the floor in a pool of his own blood. “I’ll try to send somebody up to help you,” she said as she stepped around him. “Even though you don’t deserve it.” She ran from the receiver room and down the steep stairs. As she reached the first level where the stairs change direction, she leaned over the railing. She stared down at the telescopes reflecting surface, expecting to see her son’s battered body. The reflecting surface was so large that it took several seconds to focus on the small form below. It took her mind an additional few seconds to decipher what she saw, not the limp form of her son’s body. Instead, there were two people, one lying on the reflecting surface with a second person bending over them. She leaned over the railing further to get a better look and breathed a sigh of relief when she realized the second person was her son, but how was that possible? And who was the person lying on the deck?
As Angie continued her journey down, she took a moment to give a short prayer of thanks. While she didn’t understand how it happened, the important thing was that Bobbie was still alive. Angie smiled to herself as she thought how proud her estranged husband, Brian, would be if he knew that she had resorted to prayer twice in the last few minutes. But she wasn’t all that surprised. So much had happened in the last several days to Bobbie and her that she had begun to reconsider there might just be some higher power at work in their lives.
She almost reached the next level when a blast of high-pitched sound threatened to burst her eardrums even as her hands instinctively moved to cover them. She staggered against the railing as a wave of vertigo passed through her body. She clung to the railing for several seconds until the sound ended as abruptly as it had begun. What the hell was that, she thought as she slowly righted herself and resumed her trip down, still unsteady on her feet.
Angie was halfway to the ground when she heard steps below her and saw two people approaching from the ground level a few seconds later. As they came closer, she recognized the blonde curls of her new friend, Mandy, but who was that man behind her? He looked vaguely familiar. Suddenly Angie knew who he was: a considerably older Brian than when she last saw him. What the hell was he doing here?
As the two approaching figures reached the next level, they stopped to catch their breath, and Angie joined them.
“Oh, thank goodness, you’re okay,” Mandy said as the two women hugged.
Angie stared over Mandy’s shoulder at the man who had been such an essential part of her life in the past. “Brian,” she said simply.
“Angela,” Brian replied.
“Funny seeing you here,” Angie finally said after a long, uncomfortable pause.
“I’ve come for my son,” Brian said. Angie noticed a slight tick of his left eyebrow, an early warning sign of mounting anger that she had come to depend upon. It would be best not to confront him right now. They were far more critical matters to take care of at the moment. She turned her attention to Mandy. The two women separated, but Angie continued to hold her friend’s hands.
“I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I hurt your brother pretty bad, but he was threatening Bobbie.”
Mandy shook her head. “There’s no need to apologize,” she replied. “I know my brother is an SOB. I’m surprised you didn’t kill him. He’s up there, isn’t he?”
Angie nodded. “Yes, in the receiver room. At least that’s where I left him, and I doubt very seriously he has the strength to move very far on his own.”
“Where’s Bobbie?” Asked Brian. “You didn’t leave him up there with that maniac, did you?”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Angie snapped back as she felt her face flush with anger. She took a deep breath and slowly let it out. Brian always knew just what buttons to push to get a reaction out of her. Still, he was Bobbie’s father, and despite all of his shortcomings, there was no question that he loved Bobbie as well. “No,” Angie said in a calmer voice, then paused unsure how to tell Brian what had happened without him flying off the handle.
“Then where is he?”
Angie pointed down towards the reflecting surface of the telescope. “Down there.”
“How the hell did he get down there?” Brian asked angrily.
“It’s too complicated to explain now,” Angie replied, fighting to stay calm and knowing that she couldn’t actually explain what had happened anyway. “The important thing is that he’s all right. I’m on my way to him right now.”
“Not without any, you aren’t.”
Angie opened her mouth to shoot back a quick retort but then thought better of it. She’d have to deal with Brian later. Right now, it was more important that she reach Bobbie.
“You two go find your son,” Mandy said. “I’ll take care of my dear brother. If you see Dr. Carter, please ask him to come to help me.”
The two women hugged again briefly and then started off in opposite directions, but before they were more than a couple yards apart, a second mind-numbing blast shattered the night air sending Angie and her two companions falling to their knees in agony.
Imago shakes his head and frowns, then sits up. “Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. No, I’m here to stay. We’ll just have to make the best of it.” He looks around at the light show and chorus of sound, and the frown slowly turns to a smile. “I see the apparatus is now connected. Well done.” He turns back to me and says in a low voice. “I want you to know something. I was not in favor of what happens next, but my comrades and I were outvoted.”
“What are you talking about?” I ask, growing more concerned.
“You’ll see,” he replies. “But it’ll be okay with time. Sometimes it’s necessary to tear down so you can build up.”
Margot stands slowly, wavering a bit. He straightens up and feels with both hands his newly materialized body. “Interesting,” he says, then cocks his head to one side. He reminds me of a dog listening to a distant sound. He blinks a couple of times then turns his attention back to me. “Cover your ears, Bobbie, and come to me.”
I raise both hands to my ears but continue to stand a few feet from him. He closes the distance so quickly it’s like one moment he’s standing three or four feet away, and in the next moment, he’s right next to me with his arms around me, one hand pushing my head into his chest. When I start to push away, his grip tightens, and I realize he’s far stronger than me.
“Shhh,” he says loud enough that I can just make it out to my covered ears. “This first one won’t be too bad,” Margot continues. “Just hold still and keep your ears covered.”
I try to move my head enough to look into his eyes, but his hand prevents me from doing so. I’m about to ask him what is the matter when a high pitched blast of deafening sound cuts through the silence of the night. I instinctively press my hands more tightly against my ears and bury my head in his chest. A second or two later, I notice a distinct change in the sound. I can still hear it, but it’s as though it’s from a long distance away. Even so, I find it disorienting and borderline painful. Once again, I’m thankful to have Imago as my friend and guide.
When the sound stops as abruptly as it began, Imago relaxes his grip on me, and I gently push away. “Thank you,” I say, realizing how inadequate the phrase is.
Imago nods. “We must find a place to hide. Quickly.”
“Why?” I ask.
“There isn’t time to explain. Do you trust me?”
It’s my turn to nod. “Sure, I guess.”
Imago looks around, then points to his right. “This way.” He grabs my hand, and off we run.
When the second barrage of sound finally ended, Angie lifted her head. She opened her eyes to see that her two companions were in as much pain as she. Angie looked at Brian and noticed a thin stream of blood seeping from one of his ears. She was about to point it out when she looked at her hands and saw small blood specs on both of them.
“They’re getting worse,” Mandy declared. She reached into her back pocket for a handkerchief. She handed it to Angie, who used it to clean her hands and dab at her ears before passing it on to Brian, who used it to clean the blood from his face.
“We’ve got to get the hell outta here,” Brian all but shouted. “The next blast could kill us.”
“I don’t think so,” Mandy replied, her voice louder than usual as well. “If whoever is doing this wanted us dead, why send out multiple blasts of increasing strength? No, I think they just want us to leave this area as soon as possible, and I, for one, think that’s an excellent idea.”
“Not until I find Bobbie,” Angie said emphatically as she staggered to her feet. She felt the nausea of an approaching migraine and groaned. It had been years since she’d had one, but she knew they had the power to incapacitate her.
“Well, let’s get to it then,” Brian said as he used the railing to pull himself up. Without waiting for either woman, he turned and started walking away, then stopped when he realized he was going in the wrong direction. Angie and Mandy glanced at each other and giggled.
“Lead on McDuff,” Angie joked, “but I believe that’s the way down,” she said, pointing in the other direction.
“I know this may sound crazy, but I simply can’t leave my brother up there,” Mandy said. “Be sure to give Bob be a big hug for me when you find him.” And with that, she continued ascending the stairs.
The two Cagles were on the last leg of their journey when they ran into a bedraggled and sweating Dr. Carter, who was huffing and puffing his way slowly up the stairs.
“What in the world are you doing here, and what happened to you?” Angie asked, noticing a nasty gash over one eye.
“I’m here for Bobbie’s sake,” Carter said. “Unfortunately, a certain government official seems to have forgotten that.”
Well, if it’s any consolation, I hurt him pretty bad up there,” Angie said. “Mandy went on to see if she could help her brother. She would really appreciate it if you could lend a hand.”
Carter looked up towards the top of the telescope and groaned before finally nodding. “Sometimes it’s a real pain to be a man of medicine, but yes, I’ll go see what I can do.” He took a couple of long, deep breaths before continuing his journey.
Angie and Brian continued walking downward without either of them talking until they reached the level of the telescopes reflecting surface. Angie leaned over the age of the railing, looking for Bobbie and the mystery man.
“What the hell?” Angie exclaimed, after several seconds had passed.
“What’s wrong?” Brian asked.
“I don’t see him,” Angie replied. “He was there a few minutes ago. I saw him leaning over another figure that looked like a man to me, but I couldn’t be certain from that distance. But I know it was Bobbie. I recognized the color of his shirt.”
The two of them stood there several seconds studying the surface of the telescope, but they finally had to agree there was no one out there. “Who do you think the other person was?” Brian asked.
“I haven’t a clue. As far as I know, there’s no one else here besides the pilot that I tied up and left in one of the shacks. Besides, what does it matter who it was?”
“Because that’s likely who has abducted Bobbie,” Brian replied as he started walking down the stairs again.
Abducted? Angie thought. Leave it to Brian to come up with the worst-case scenario, but in this case, he might be right. “Where are you going?”
“There must be a way to get to the surface. Some way to clean it or make repairs,” Brian replied as he continued walking. “I think I saw a separate ladder that led to a trap door. If we can find it again, we can take a closer look.”
Angie hurried to catch up with him. No way was she going to let him take the lead, although she had to admit it felt strangely comforting to have a second person to help find Bobbie. It took them only a couple minutes to arrive at the ladder and trapdoor. Even though Angie had failed to notice it the first time she climbed the stairs, it was easy to see because the door now hung open. The two of them scaled the latter and looked around on the reflecting surface. It only took a minute to verify what they both had suspected all along. Bobbie and the mystery man were nowhere to be found.
They returned to the stairs and resumed their journey back to the ground. Angie was just about to suggest that they split up to search for Bobbie when a third blast sent her to her knees, writhing in pain. This one lasted only a few seconds, followed immediately by a booming mechanical/computerized sounding voice. “Vacate the area immediately! You are trespassing in a restricted area.” The same message repeated three more times before all was quiet.
Angie and Brian stared at each other for several seconds before Angie spoke. “We’re running out of time. You go that way. I’ll look in this direction.” As she ran in the direction of the outbuilding where she’d left the pilot, a lump of fear started forming in the pit of her stomach. This felt too much like the time she’d woken up in the woods outside Penland to find Bobbie missing.