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Domination of the SPOOKS – Chapter 8

I'm launching my first fiction series this month with the SPOOK & GOON Space Adventures. I'm writing the fourth book right now and the first three will be released over the next few months.

While I'm waiting for the official edits, I'm uploading the short-story prequel, Domination of the SPOOKS, chapter by chapter over the next two weeks. This is the unedited version so please forgive any errant wording.

If you'd like to receive advance notice of special one-day-only fan pricing of 99 cents, join my Sci-Fi Reader's Group.

Chapter 8

The man in black woke up just before dawn at 0630. He quickly showered and dressed putting on a fresh white shirt with the same black suit as the day before, and the day before that. He loved being able to wear the same suit when he traveled, though it would need a serious steaming once he got back home..

Golden hour shone through the trees as he stepped out the door, as he turned back to pull it securely shut and lock it. The motel was outdated by not having auto locks or keycards but still actual keys, frozen in time as a reminder that the old ways weren’t always so good.

The Audi took on a warm glow from the sun. He opened the door and put his hand on the roof, facing the sun with his eyes closed. If it were mid-day, he’d step out of the office as often as he could to get a few rays on his face. He didn’t have much chance for that when he was back at the office. He also didn’t have much need for his car, either, again soon to be a relic of the past, especially the gasoline versions. The new electric models were starting to come out, but he still liked the feel of internal combustion under him during the drive.

He beeped his fob and unlocked the door. He eased his 6’5” frame into the driver’s seat and pushed the button on the dash. The V12 sprang to life through the roar of the dual exhausts. He didn’t need this much power, but he was happy to have it on the rare occasion he did. There wasn’t much out there that he couldn’t keep up with on the road, or above it for that matter. All he needed to do was push a button above the nav screen, and he’d be in good hands.

He turned out of the lot, the tires squishing through piles of wet leaves strewn about the road. He gunned the engine after a few minutes of driving, one to feel the power but also to feel that same power course through him. Driving made him feel alive, and lately, he seemed to need that more and more. That’s why he had volunteered to check out Dom. He needed to get out of the office, to get back on the ground and feel the connection with the road, the connection with the Earth.

The parking lot was fairly empty when he arrived shortly before 0800. He could see Weisman in his office and Darcy in the waiting room, but he didn’t see Dom. He’d give him a few minutes. Even though he was the best of the best, he was still young, and very few young people were up and raring to go by 0800.

He flipped through his iPhone checking the messages that came in overnight. His superiors wanted a status report. He wrote back a simple, “In process,” and hoped that would satisfy them. He pressed send and saw Dom stepping in to flirt with Darcy.

She was attractive, no doubt about that. But Dom would have his pick of more than just the admin at the Academy when he got through with him. The future he offered Dom was beyond anything Dom had ever dreamed. But getting to that point required another test. And he was about to give Dom that test.

As soon as he saw Dom head into Commander’s office, he got out of the car and headed for the office. The plan was on, and Weisman was ready.

He noticed a cloud in the distance, rapidly moving toward him. He pressed the key fob to lock the car door, and the cloud stopped. He looked around. 

Most cadets weren’t out and about yet, and only a small group could be seen heading to breakfast in the mess hall. He could smell pancakes and waffles and steak and eggs, tall glasses of whole milk and coffee with heavy whipping cream. Ok, the man in black couldn’t smell the milk, but he imagined it very well. He hadn’t eaten and now with the plan in motion wouldn't have time. He could have risked it and gone to grab a mug of coffee and cream, but he’d already made enough show of himself the last few days. Word spread among the cadets that he was a shadowy figure out to hurt Dom.

The rumor mill ran wild with tales that he was an undercover agent for the Russians and wanted to take Dom back to the Kremlin and put him undercover for them. That seemed a bit far-fetched, but with the way the Russians had infiltrated the spy game the last few years, he didn’t blame them. Others were sure he was part of a black ops CIA contingent and was out to make Dom the newest member.

The man in black bumped into Jessica on the way across the parking lot. He'd had his eye on the cloud in the distance, and his mind raced with thoughts of coffee and cream and pancakes. His hunger got the best of him, and he didn’t get quite where he needed to be as stealthily as he should have.

He let himself slip up.

It happened once on the last op too and now a second time. He’d have to check himself into the lab when he got back and have a few scans done. Maybe they could work out the kinks that were throwing him off the top of his game. It wasn’t helping the cause.

He got too close to Jessica and brushed her arm, creating a spark in the process. She turned to notice him, having been oblivious to him until that moment. He’d fallen out of stealth mode, and the shock of touching someone made it that much worse.

He turned to apologize to her, and with a special wink of his eye along with the memory device implanted in his retina, he was forgotten. She’d never remember seeing him or feeling his presence. It was a close one, but it made him hurry to get into the office.

Darcy had already seen him the day before, so that was fine. She could easily be swayed and made to forget. They exchanged pleasantries about the morning’s gorgeous sunrise though she was worried about the cloud in the distance. He told her not to worry, that the weathermen were saying it was just part of a high cloud weather system and not a rainmaker.

Commander Weisman tapped the button on the back of his desk, a signal to Darcy that he was ready for a visitor. He didn’t bother to use the intercom since he was trying to keep what was about to happen from Dom. He’d brought them both coffees from the mess hall and placed one on the far side of the desk for Dom. It steamed with a fury and Dom took a quick sip. It was much too hot to drink, but he was dying for some coffee. It was the one drug he was addicted to, and he was okay with that. He’d suffer through a few more minutes of the meeting while the coffee cooled down. There wasn't any more to do to further his success at the Academy except put together the entry kit and commendation he’d send to the officers that Commander Weisman mentioned were asking about him.

“So who’s this man in black?” Dom asked. “People have told me that they saw him around the last few days. I guess he’s pretty big and hard to miss, especially in all black. Not the best choice if you’re going incognito. Maybe dress in a flight suit or something, just not a black suit,” Dom said, following a strange tangent. “I think he’s an alien. A few of the guys and I watched Men in Black again. The suits looked pretty dated, but I guess the ‘90s weren’t the best dressed decade.”

While Dom rambled on about bad fashion choices from a bygone decade, the man in black slowly opened the door. Weisman kept Dom occupied, debating the merits of who wore it better? Did Will Smith really make it look better than Tommy Lee Jones?

Just as Dom was about to answer, he heard the door click. By the time he turned around he didn’t notice anything except a swirling, blurry darkness around him.

“Dom, are you feeling okay?” Weisman asked. He knew the answer, but he had to keep up appearances. 

He told Darcy to hold all his calls and he and the man in black helped Dom up out of his chair. He wasn't quite asleep or completely out of it but he was also not quite in the know of what was going on. 

The man in black helped him to the door and slowly walked him past Darcy. Weisman followed close behind. He explained that Dom wasn’t feeling well and that they’d take him to the infirmary. Darcy offered to call the infirmary to come pick Dom up, but they declined. The man in black said he was hungry and that he’d help Weisman get Dom to the infirmary. Then they could go for breakfast while Dom got checked out.

They made their way out to the parking lot. By that time the lot was filled up. It was amazing how much people could be relied upon to be at their desks promptly by 0800 but not a moment sooner. It gave them cover to get Dom out the door and into his car. Having a big car came in handy at moments like that. 

A few cadets walked by, and Jock was around as well. The man in black recognized him from his picture. He winked when Jock saw him, and he kept on walking.

From the forthcoming short story, Domination of the SPOOKS: A Man Meets His Mission.

Copyright © 2018 Chad V. Holtkamp.

All rights reserved.

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