Read an Excerpt
By James George
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 James George
All right reserved.
Chapter One"Tower, I have a lock on radar and closing in. Cloud coverage is hampering my ability to gain a visual. Will close to within five hundred meters and report." A last-known conversation archived at Kinross Air Force Base.
"Target appears to be cylinder shaped with protrusions on two sides. Target appears to be an aircraft. Target appears to be sitting on land but surrounded by water. Target is lying on a lake bed. Stray thought of 'Superior' comes to mind. Stick to facts and write it down." I continue to think of the last project and am wondering if the UFO disclosure was ever made of the 1953 Lake Superior crash of the F-89.
I have to shake it off and concentrate on this audience.
"We do not perform magic, conjure up the supernatural, or delve into the occult. We use a manual created from science and years of research and repeated application. Remote viewing is a science; it's not mindreading. Questions, anyone?"
Good, no hands up.
"Thank you for listening, and enjoy your lunch. Thanks for inviting me today."
Walking past rows of tables, I get smiles and small waves. These people were once the world's greatest geniuses, but old age has taken a toll. They attend the meetings but are not really excited about them anymore. Being a member rocks my world. It's a good break from my day-to-day routine.
I was recommended to the Mensa group by Teacher, a well-known expert in the remote viewing world. I studied under him for four years while I was also teaching mathematics and computer science at Texas Tech. I grew tired of the academic world and wanted to see if I could make a living as a remote viewer.
I applied for employment with the government at the federal building here in Lubbock six years ago. I was granted an interview with an intelligence group but was rejected; my skill as a viewer was not understood, much less needed. However, a few days later I was contacted by another agency that ultimately trained me and put me to work.
The drive home is short. When I arrive at my house, my dogs—Bruno, an extra-large miniature schnauzer, and Rocco, who is just extra large—really need to go outside. Nothing more devoted than those two. Out the back door they go. I need to check my e-mail for my next assignment.
I fire up the computer and hear a voice: "Welcome." There it is on the screen: a list of current targets. Even though each is no more than a series of numbers, looking into them will lead to multiple descriptors. Common numbers will lead to unknown places and events.
I smile and think, What a way to make a living.
My computer sounds off with an incoming message. Beep, "Time to go to work." That is the phrase I have chosen to hear when they have a high-priority job for me. The subject line is blank, a signal that something is wrong. Normally there would be a series of numbers. I decide it is best not to open the e-mail. Hmm, wonder what that's about.
There goes the work phone. They rarely call. Communication is routinely done via e-mail. Maybe they are calling to tell me about the e-mail I just got. At least they could have waited for me to finish my lunch.
I see that familiar number. Not sure whether or not I want to answer. These guys make common feds look like amateurs.
If I don't answer, there will be a knock at the door.
"Hello?" No response. Wrong number, maybe? I'm concerned; I've been told to follow agency instructions if this happens. I prepare to leave immediately.
Apparently protocol has been compromised. I keep a go-bag ready for just such an occurrence. When it happens, all I need for basic survival is immediately in my hands.
I grab the bag from the closet and leave the house, walking casually. The dogs are still outside; they should have enough food and water until I get back. Better get the all-clear soon.
Nothing in the neighborhood appears unusual. It's the middle of the day; typically there's not much going on then. Everyone around here is either at school or work.
I walk two blocks to my local minimarket and go up to the deli to check out the menu.
At the end of the counter to my right I see two well-dressed men, definitely out of place. No ball caps, straw hats, or boots. I don't know them, but I'm pretty sure they know me.
"Ashlee?" one of them says. I don't respond.
"Ashlee?" They move quickly toward me, and one of them grabs my arm. "It's us, stop," he whispers, leaning into me.
They're both over six feet tall, one wearing a gray suit and the other a faded black one. They are clean-cut and look serious.
The one in gray looks like he's pushing sixty. His hair is almost the same color as his suit. Chiseled face with a little slump in the shoulders.
The other looks younger, more alert, probably early forties. He has thick black hair, tan-colored skin, dark brown eyes. Funny—we have the same hair and skin color, but I have my dad's blue eyes.
"What?" I ask, playing it cool.
"You did well," the younger agent says, stepping close.
"Let's go," he says, pointing outside to a Suburban. I walk casually in the direction indicated, wishing they had a less obvious vehicle. Not like anyone will notice a big black Suburban with blacked-out windows.
We pull off in the opposite direction of the federal building downtown on Texas Avenue, where I assumed we'd go.
According to the older one, my phone and computer had been hacked.
"How is that possible?" I ask. "Aren't we the best of the best?"
They are silent. To say I'm a little worried would be an understatement.
We're approaching the end of the city limits. All I see are dry, dusty fields. It hasn't rained in West Texas in months. All the crops are dead or dying.
"What are we doing out here?"
"Stay quiet; you'll be briefed shortly," the younger one tells me. I stay quiet.
After a few minutes riding in silence, they introduce themselves. "My name is Agent Chris Jenkins," says the older of the two. "This is my partner, Agent Raul Cortez. We were sent to escort you to a secure location."
"Which office are you from? Abilene?" I ask.
"Amarillo. We'll drive you around until we get further instructions," Jenkins, the driver says.
"Why? I'm just a pencil pusher."
"An operation has begun, and you are to participate. Your skill is needed."
"For what? I work from home, not in the field."
"Your security clearance has just exceeded your pay grade," Jenkins says, looking at me in the rearview mirror.
I didn't know there was one higher. I was assigned a security clearance after completing training with the NSA, CIA, and FBI. Those took nearly a year, and then I had further training with a task group to learn the ins and outs of federal operations.
Having a PhD in mathematics and computer science from the University of Texas was only a part of what landed me this job. Having completed all of the advanced levels of remote viewing training was the kicker.
We are somewhere southeast of town, traveling across an abandoned farm—one of many in this dry part of the state. Flat, but with acres of dried-up cotton fields. Dust stirring in every direction. My watch shows it to be close to 3:00 p.m.
There are no buildings anywhere on the horizon. Just good old Texas prairie—flat, dirty, and full of cactus, cotton, and wide-open skies.
Cortez produces a small black keypad from the glove box. He keeps his back to me, and I hear him punching in a code. I count six numbers with random electronic tones to reduce the possibility of others identifying the digits.
About twenty yards in front of us, the ground begins to open. At first it seems there is a crack forming, but it continues to expand and grow in length. The ground begins to lift. Not one cactus or mesquite bush slides away. An opening twenty-five feet long and twenty feet wide appears.
Jenkins slowly drives forward. As we approach the opening, I see a ramp leading down into the earth. The ground that appeared to open is really two large metal plates with hydraulic lifts on the bottom. We begin the descent.
I grab the door handle—locked! They both snicker.
My heart is racing, and I begin to sweat.
We travel down the ramp, and as we do, the opening above us closes. Now I'm terrified!
When the doors close, lights come on.
We come to rest in a room with gray walls similar to a large garage.
Jenkins instructs me: "Get out and follow us."
Without having another option, I get out. About five yards in front of the Suburban is a gray metal outline of a door.
Jenkins opens it and steps inside, leaving the door slightly ajar. Cortez stays with me.
I can hear Jenkins talking to someone inside, and I recognize the voice. It's Senior Agent Daniel Strepp—not technically my "boss," but he's the guy I most often answer to.
After a few minutes, Jenkins comes back out and ushers me inside with Cortez at my heels. The room is about twenty by forty and filled with high- tech electronic equipment, as well as lots of standard-issue government desks, all of them unoccupied.
Senior Agent Strepp steps over to me and holds out his hand. I shake it tentatively, feeling uneasy and waiting for an explanation as to what's going on and why I'm here.
"Ashlee! It's nice to see you again. It's been too long since we've met face-to-face. Sorry for the cloak-and-dagger routine, but your talent is needed."
"We've had secret assignments before," I remind him. "But this is way out of the norm, especially for me."
Strepp stops smiling. He takes a piece of paper from a desk near him, frowns heavily, and takes a deep breath. He stares at the paper a moment, raises his eyes, and looks directly at me. I have seen him serious before, but this is extreme.
He turns to the desk, sits down behind it, and gestures for me to sit in the chair opposite.
I scan the room. Track lighting in the ceiling is turned off, but the desk lamps are on. There are large screens along the wall. The room reminds me of something from a sci-fi movie.
He begins to fill me in on the reason for all the drama.
"Some of our friendlier foreign intelligence agencies have been tracking a suspected terrorist across Asia and into South America. They had him into Mexico but lost him somewhere in Mexico City. We're fairly sure that the suspect has entered Texas through Laredo. We don't know where he's from, and he managed to avoid a full-face photo at the customs office in Laredo, so facial recognition is out. We think he may have a contact in the Southwest. We have lost track of him, but since so many others are interested, we intend to find him and discover his intentions."
Though he probably knows more, he doesn't give me any other details. He knows better. Target must not be known to me. Just knowing he is from another country is pushing it.
"Why all the secrecy? Why are we out here, swallowed up by the desert?"
He gives no explanation. The room is quiet.
Why are all the screens and computers off? Where are all the personnel needed to man this room? I wonder. I want to say something to him, but considering our location, what I have been told, and the silence in the room, I decide to wait for him to make the next move.
"You can't go home. Is the pack you brought prepared as you were taught?"
That was not the way to break the silence. My pack only has personal items I would need for a weekend away. They told me to have a go- bag ready, like a sailor's overboard bag. I never took the sailor example seriously though. Oops. He is aware the bag has none of the tools necessary to perform my job. "If you're planning a long working vacation for me, I'll need more than my toothbrush and dental floss," I say.
Strepp opens a desk drawer and hands me a three-inch binder and says, "Courtesy of your Teacher."
"Official US document" reads the cover. I open it; it's a duplicate of my manual.
"When did you see Teacher? Where was he?"
"It's been a while. Check the manual."
I look at the bottom of the front page and see the date, 1986. My heart sinks. Using an outdated manual to find a person today is like handing me a Commodore 64 and asking me to surf the web.
Daniel says, "Keep reading, whose name is listed?"
I read through all the official government mumbo jumbo and find a name. "Teacher!"
"He thought you might need it."
I thumb through the manual. Mostly the same as mine: index, terms, multiple pages of instructions, and a glossary. Printed on standard government-grade paper, words are fading and several pages are beginning to separate from the binder.
Daniel reaches into his drawer again; this time he hands me what looks like a high-tech laptop.
"Courtesy of Uncle Sam, it has a GPS tracking device inside. The satellite connection allows Internet and global tracking of your location."
He knows my background, so he's aware that I'm familiar with the technology. When attending initial orientation in Washington, DC, I was shown all the latest and greatest technology. What a long way from kindergarten in 1981.
"Ashlee, I know you'll need your standard supplies: pencils, paper, ruler, et cetera ... I assumed your backpack wouldn't be equipped with the tools of the trade. You are to go strictly old school with this assignment. It's okay; you'll find all your tools in your new desk."
It's been a long time since I used only the basics. My setup at home has software with sketching abilities.
He hands me a blank card with a magnetic strip on the back.
"This is for purchasing necessities and to draw cash." He smiles slightly. "We'll be monitoring the usage."
Then he reaches into his jacket pocket and hands me a cell phone.
"Thanks, how many minutes are available?" I say, smiling back at him. "And what about my house? Are you going to pull that out of your desk, too?"
"Your house is parked at Reese Airfield," he says. He reaches into his pants pocket and pulls out a set of keys that he hands to me.
Confused, I start to challenge him. "This is all great, but what about my dogs? I just left them out in the yard. They can't be left unattended for very long. And what about Eric, what do I tell—"
Before I can finish, he says to me, "A dog sitter will go by your house twice a day. Eric received a phone message from you saying you had to go out of town to visit an ill relative and will see him soon."
Okay, now I'm lost. They want me to leave all that I know and hold dear behind?
Strepp takes a notepad and pen from his pocket, scribbles something down, and tears out a page and hands it to me.
I look at it. Numbers. I stuff it in my pocket.
"Now it's time for you to go to work. While you're working this case, I'll be in constant contact by the phone I gave you. You will use my first name only."
Before I can respond, he stands and signals for Jenkins and Cortez. They walk over to me, pointing to the door. We exit the room silently and walk to the Suburban. Jenkins opens the back door for me, and I climb in. This time, however, Daniel is with us, riding shotgun.
Cortez sits in the back with me and uses the keypad again. The ceiling opens. Sunlight, after all this drama, is appreciated.
As we back out of the open door and ascend up to the desert floor, I welcome the sight of the endless horizon in the west. The sky is full of empty white clouds drifting by.
We head west, back toward Lubbock, past the city-limit sign, past the exit to my house. We bypass the city using Loop 289 and exiting on Nineteenth westbound. Right on CR 1300, then exit onto Fourth Street, and we arrive at Reese Technology Center; formally Reese Air Force Base.
Reese Air Force Base is no longer used by the air force but has been leased out to various companies needing immediate runways.
We travel on a two-lane service road with very well-marked exits leading to runway accesses and maintenance buildings.
As we approach the center of the field, I can see a pickup truck with an RV attached. I can't believe it—a big-block diesel dually. Dad has one on the ranch. I drove that beast many times on the ranch and to town, but never towing anything of this size. This one looks new; they start and drive much easier than the one on the ranch. I've never towed anything the size of that trailer, though.
We park alongside, and Daniel steps out. "Come on out and get a look at your new home. The keys are in your pocket," he says with a grin.
Without saying another word he turns, walks back to the Suburban, and gets in. They drive another hundred yards down the runway and stop. Daniel exits and walks toward a small unmarked jet. He climbs the stairs and enters, never looking back. The door shuts, and the sound of the engine starting up and the jet racing down the runway disturbs the otherwise peaceful surroundings.
I turn away as the plane roars out of sight.
Are they serious? This is my new home? "You've got to be kidding me!"
The Suburban turns around and returns to where I'm standing. It pulls up, and the window comes down. "Call us anytime, 24-7, no limitations, no questions asked," Jenkins tells me as he hands me both his and Cortez's business cards.
Excerpted from True View by James George Copyright © 2012 by James George. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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