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A ruthless, clandestine Russian organization learns of these discoveries and is ...
A ruthless, clandestine Russian organization learns of these discoveries and is determined to obtain them at any cost. Vicious assassins are dispatched to recover a priceless treasure.
The thrilling chase around the globe will change the lives of those involved forever and perhaps society as we know it. A great secret will be exposed. Some will survive the experience, if they're lucky.
S.B. Semenova, a thin 23 year old, had just awakened that morning. Around seven a.m. he went out onto his porch to sit for a few minutes before eating his breakfast. Semenova lived in Vanovara, another town located in Central Siberia northwest of Kirensk. He frequently woke up early so he could relax a little and enjoy the fresh air this time of the year.
Two brothers, Chuchancha and Chekaren, were sleeping in their tent that morning. They were camping out in the woods. Something they always did this time of year in order to trap reindeer, which were plentiful in this part of Russia. Reindeer coats were also unusually thick this year. As a result, more trappers were in the region.
The forest along the Stony Tunguska River was thick with fur trees and full of wildlife. The forest was so dense in spots that it blotted out the sun nearly most of the day. This kept the temperature down at night. The trappers still wore their heavier clothing even this late in the season. They stocked their tents with extra heavy blankets in case of a late season snowfall. Summer was approaching everywhere else.
The water rushed down the Tunguska River with intense ferocity. This was the result of melting snow feeding into the river from the surrounding hills. The water crackled, popped, bubbled, and swooshed as it splashed its way over the rocks and banks by the river's edge. It was immensely refreshing to be close enough to the river to enjoy the sounds of nature this late in spring. Multicolored butterflies were everywhere to be seen. They were in search of open flower petals. The humming sound from bees filled the air as the temperature rose with the ascent of the sun.
Dima Popov was in Vanovara, fishing in a local stream. The bass and trout were a challenge to catch and he enjoyed the delicious meal they made. He was a poor man. Dima caught most of the food for his family, which was the rule in these parts. You could not find a more tranquil place on earth.
* * *
That all changed shortly after 7 a.m. The peace and serenity of that early summer morning was abruptly interrupted. Although there are several versions of what happened next, all those who witnessed the event agree a streak of light came from the southeast corner of the sky.
Dima had just entered the water's edge to fish when he was startled by a giant fireball passing right over his head. The sky was filled by a huge red, intense bright light. Trappers said it seemed to change directions a few times as it zigzagged. The white-hot fireball was visible to everybody on the ground for at least two hundred miles. It made a very loud, crackling sound as it traversed from one horizon to the other. It crossed over Lake Baikal first, than headed northwest toward the town of Vanovara, on its way to the Tunguska River area.
It was so bright you could hardly look at it. It was like looking at the sun. The ball of fire seemed to have cylindrical shape to some observers. As the fireball approached the northwest horizon, it disappeared behind a hill. Dima witnessed a huge explosion as the object struck the ground. It sounded like a thousand artillery rounds going off simultaneously. Some witnesses compared the sound to a war being waged beyond the low-lying mountains.
Semenova sat on his favorite rocking chair just at 7. "Katrina, can you make me a glass of orange juice?"
Mrs. Semenova, a 21 year old newly wed was putting milk in the cat dish when she heard her husband call. They were married three months earlier and still were honeymooners. "Would you like a muffin on the side?" she replied standing up to stretch. She still had her flannel baby blue nightgown on.
"Sure thing. Thanks!"
S.B. stood up in disbelief as he saw the fireball cross the sky. He walked to the edge of the porch. It happened so fast it caught him by surprise. The explosion that followed was so intense it threw him off his porch some fifty feet onto the dirt road that led up to his house. It was so strong that it knocked all the dishes off the table and the cabinets inside. All the wall hangings fell down. Katrina Semenova was thrown off her feet into the front of the wood-burning stove, hitting her head. She temporarily lost consciousness. The event had the fury of a powerful earth quake. When she came to she was dazed. Katrina ran outside to see what had caused such a convulsion of the ground. In her confusion, she was oblivious to the great danger that awaited her. All the excitement had pumped up her adrenalin so much she was reacting instead of thinking. Her husband always thought of Katrina as the thinker of the family and himself as the worker. That was not the case this time.
To her utter amazement, Katrina found her husband across the road under a tree. He seemed to have escaped serious injury though there was blood trickling down the side of his face. Several tree branches had fallen around him. Katrina carefully removed a larger branch from his left leg. Lucky for S.B. none of the larger trees that fell down hit him. They were lined up like fallen cordwood. Katrina sensed a great event beyond her control just occurred outside her door.
Katrina and S.B survived the ordeal but many others were not as fortunate.
Few peasants who lived near the epicenter of the blast lived to tell the story.
They were instantly vaporized. Nobody knows just how many perished that morning.
The explosion was on the order of at least three Hiroshima atom bombs. The explosion was so vigorous it produced an earthquake of the magnitude of 5.0 on the Richter scale.
The heat from the carnage was hotter than at the center of our sun. It was so bright nobody within the viewing area of the blast could look directly at it or they went blind. Those who did lost their vision for the rest of their lives. Survivors had the event burned into their minds forever.
Within a few minutes after Dima stood to his feet, an intense wave of heat followed the initial sound blast. At first he felt a light breeze that steadily built in intensity until it became unbearably hot so much so he ran into a cave nearby to seek shelter. The heat wave melted the bark off those trees still standing. Anything made of paper ignited into flames. All the farm animals died instantly from the blaze of heat that lasted some 30 minutes.
The heat wave was followed by shock waves that leveled whatever trees and homes were still standing after the initial explosion. The people of Central Siberia essentially experienced the first known extra terrestrial nuclear explosion on earth.
It would take approximately thirty-seven years more for humans to recreate the same horrible devastation to win a war less than thousand miles away. Nothing remained standing in the face of such total devastation.
S.B. and Katrina also sought shelter in a cave for three days without food or water. Katrina never made it out. She died from internal injuries sustained during the blast. Once S.B. got up the courage to venture outside, he found his world had completely changed. He had no idea the lead and rock in the cave had protected him from the carnage caused by the blast. If he had known about nuclear fallout, a concept years away from being fully understood, he might have never left his safe haven. Fortunately for him as well as the other survivors, it turned out there was very little nuclear contamination. Even so, Soviet government officials avoided the area for some thirteen years thinking the region was toxic. At least that was the party storyline for a long time.
Over eighty million trees were blown down for a radius of 30-40 km. All the trees were facing away from the epicenter of the impact. No man made structures were standing. The whole area was smoking for months. Pine needles and leaves as well as the bark on many of the trees were gone. The contour of many mountains was altered forever. It was like a giant came along and stomped all over the region picking up the trees and throwing them back down neatly in a row.
Dima walked back to where this home once stood. All he could find to document his previous existence for the last fifteen years were some old knives and spoons. The utensils were melted into different shapes from the intense heat. A few pieces of shredded clothing were scattered about as well. All that was left of Dima's wife's wedding dress was a shred of cloth with a pocket next to a couple of melted buttons. All of his possessions were gone, taken away from him instantly by an unknown force. * * *
The epicenter of the explosion occurred somewhere between the Khushma and Kimtschu rivers. This was about two hundred Km north of Kezhma and 60 Km north of Vanovara. For several nights following the explosion, it was said that the night sky was much brighter than usual throughout Russia and Europe. So much so that one did not need to use artificial lighting at night to read when outdoors.
To this day, the cause of the tremendous explosion at Tunguska remains a mystery, subject to various interpretations. Some scientists feel it was caused by a large meteor crashing to Earth. Others say a comet intercepted Earth's orbit.
This might explain the bright light Europeans experienced for several nights following the event. The Russian authorities of the day did not voice their opinion. In fact it is said they did not research the source of the explosion or even mount an official attempt to visit the area for another thirteen years.
He felt each click of life's grand clock ticking by ever so slowly. Time was nearly standing still, or at least passing in slow motion. Was it day or night he wondered. Did it really matter? He had no way to tell and could not remember yet. One thing he did know. If that throbbing headache on his left temple kept up, he would blow his cookies any minute. There was no extra space for that kind of stuff. He did his best to keep that Italian dinner he last remembered eating from traveling up his esophagus.
The air was growing thin quickly. It reminded him of the top of Pike's Peak. He once drove up the famous mountain in a Lincoln town car. He can still sense the fear he felt that day as the tires struggled to stay on the narrow roadbed. That sound of the tires skidding on the loose gravel still gave him goose bumps. He was beginning to grow faint. In fact, the headache was the only feeling keeping him awake. Pennington knew if he intended to stay alive much longer, it was time to figure a way out. What would MacGyver's next move be if he was here in Pennington's place? I am sure the television hero must have been buried in a coffin with no obvious escape in some episode.
Another wave of nausea struck along with sweats and mild shortness of breath. The air supply was quickly dwindling. Time was short. Think hard. Concentrate.
Barely conscious, he thought he heard a faint tapping sound. It was distant at first. It grew louder. That's a shovel. They are digging me out. I am being rescued. Thank God. The digging was taking longer than he thought he could stand. Jesus, come on, I can't wait much longer. Hurry up, will ya!. I am not kidding. I am out of air.
The digging was just above him now. It sounded so near that he felt he could reach for the shovel head if he had the space. He could hear the dirt being thrown aside. Then there was a loud thud. The top of the box shook violently as though it would splinter in a thousand pieces. A deep voice commanded, "Get him out of there. We've given him enough time to think about it." He wondered who was speaking.
The next thing he heard was the roof of the wood box opening. Wood splinters fell on his face. He spit out a few from his mouth. Bright sunlight filtered in, temporarily blinding him. A few minutes later, his eyes would be fully adjusted to the daylight.
A large burley man threw the box cover aside like a toothpick. Dust sprayed back onto the big man's face. He spit a wad of dusty saliva toward Pennington. Mable yanked him up by his shirt collar and threw him to the ground. He hit with such force that it knocked the wind out of him. He was resilient however and quickly regained composure.
He stood up and dusted himself off. He sensed he had only a brief moment to size up his opponents. The larger of the two seemed to enjoy inflicting pain.
Pennington made brief eye contact with the younger of the two men. He was shorter, smaller and seemed Latino. His English was broken. It appeared to him that the younger man seemed to be taking orders from the big guy. He studied them for any weaknesses. That might take more time than he had. Both men were overweight and unfriendly types. Loose fitting clothing was the fashion of the day. The Latino wore jeans while the big guy had on cutoffs and a weathered looking leather Harley Davidson vest covering a Grateful Dead T-Shirt. The thugs could have been guest stars on The Sopranos.
Dr. Trent Pennington was a seasoned, brilliant scientist. He specialized in genetics. He had a fabulous job at a cutting edge company. The man was known for his creative thinking. He was very good with words and gave lectures for drug companies all around the country. When he was younger, he could talk himself into any ladies bed and out of any jam. Having had been married for a long time, he was not performing that particular skill any longer.
Still, Pennington enjoyed an active life. But the activities really began when he was sleeping and dreaming. He stared in his own movies every night. He was so busy that he was worn out the next morning upon awakening. The most amazing thing about it is that he remembered them for days. Most involved elaborate plots and chases.
After zoning out for an instant Trent thought, What if this was another one of those dreams. Trying to mask the terror on his face, he thought, Oh Shit ... I am in big fucking trouble. This is no dream.
He stepped back and said, "Fellas, let's talk. Can you tell me where I am?"
"Shut up! No one asked you," answered the large guy with the Russian accent. Pennington answered back, "You are not from around here, are you?"
"Are you deaf? The Latino barked. Shut up. Got it?"
Pennington backed off. He pondered if the oriental looking tattoos on their arms meant anything.
The scenery wasn't threatening. It was actually quite pleasant. There were tropical palms and sandy areas. He imagined hearing waves crashing gently to the shore. The climate was mild and the breezes light. He could be in South Florida. Maybe St. Thomas' Magen's Bay! Nope. Pennington focused. He knew those gorillas meant business. He needed to watch what he said and control his non-verbal signals.
It looks like the drugs have worn off," Mable observed as he eyed Pennington.
"Yea ... I think so. Too bad we had to dig him up," replied Gracie in broken English. His Spanish accent still dominated his speech.
"So true. But let's think of this from another angle. Now we can play with him for awhile before cutting him into a thousand pieces," Mable grinned fiendishly as he pushed him back into a tall palm with his strong right arm.
Excerpted from Memories Found by Michael Ross Copyright © 2012 by Michael Ross. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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