Jack Tyler leaves his home in Wyoming to catch up with some old friends in back in New York. One of his fi rst orders of business is to have dinner with a former co-worker who could be more than just a friend, Patricia Drummond.
Once dinner is through, as they walk along the beach, they witness an alien spaceship landing. Patricia can only watch as Jack goes to inspect the craft and becomes engulfed in a paralyzing beam. When the spaceship leaves, Jack is gone, and an unconscious young woman wearing his clothes has taken his place.
Patricia and the young woman are transported to a military base, where it's discovered that this strange woman - who will be later know as Carolyn - is actually a female modification of Jack's molecular genetics and was created from an image in Jack's sub-conscious. Scientists also discover that the woman ages slower than normal humans, has a unique skeletal structure and a modified brain.
The world is about to find out that a threat that could destroy Earth looms on the horizon, and Carolyn may be the only being who can stop the planet's destruction in Project Changeling.
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Project ChangelingBorn from the Mind
By Rich Varela Mary Ellen Varela
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2010 Rich and Mary Ellen Varela
All right reserved.
Chapter One'Home Town'
A truly strange event would forever change the life of an average, middle aged man in ways no one could have ever imagined. Jack Tyler always considered himself a level headed conservative person who cherished his family and friends. He also harbored great interest and fascination regarding the possibility of life beyond the confines of Earth. Jack had said upon many occasions that before the time came for him to close his eyes, he had hoped to witness a first contact with an alien species. He shared this desire with many of those who were close to him. And of course his family and friends all agreed and tried to equal his interest, but clearly were doing so to be polite. Little did they know that not only would Jack get his wish, but the experience in store for him would challenge the most profound scenario that could ever be imagined!
Jack had traveled from his new homestead in Wyoming to visit family and friends back in New York on Long Island. He had always dreamed of moving out west after a short business trip he had taken back in the late 1980's. Jack decided to stay an extra two weeks after his meetings were completed and drove from Washington State into Oregon, Idaho, Montana and finally Wyoming. Every place he visited was awe inspiring. But Wyoming had a captivating effect on him. The magnificence of the Grand Teton mountain range was hypnotic. He could sit for hours just gazing at those jagged peaks. As he told his friends back East;
"Pictures, even videos do not do the area justice. You have to visit and experience it in person to fully appreciate the beauty and majesty of the North West."
Jack owned over 20 acres on a southern slope just north of Jackson Hole in Teton County between Jackson Lake and Yellow Stone Lake. Two years prior, he finished building a custom Log Cabin with a detached four car garage which contained a work shop, his prized 62 Corvette and a fully furnished guest loft. Jack chose the center of the property to locate his new retreat so he could be assured total privacy. The gentle slope of his land on its southern portion afforded and extra bonus. Jack had cleared a section of trees from his house to the property line giving him a perfect view of Jackson Lake in the distance. This was truly the home of his dreams, but something was missing! Shortly after his relocation, he was shocked at himself to discover how much he missed his old stomping grounds and the family and friends he left behind. Jack always stated that he would make the ideal hermit not needing any interaction with the outside world. Evidently, that may have been the case in his younger days, but not now. As the years passed, seeing those familiar faces and being able to visit all of the places that held so many wonderful memories had become a necessity. Any opportunity to travel back East was looked forward to with great anticipation.
It was a cool fall day in late October when he arrived at Kennedy Airport. Three years had passed since his last visit. A childhood friend, Paul Persutto, was meeting him at the passenger arrival area. They went to the same school as kids, joined the military at the same time during the Viet Nam war and later, worked for IBM together. It didn't take very long for Jack to spot Paul among the chaotic rush of one of New York's busiest airports. He still had that unmistakable and easily recognizable, 'Brooklyn Bop', when he walked.
"Ya still walk like a ruptured duck!" Jack said to Paul with a half cocked smile as he approached his friend. Paul was just as quick with a come back.
"And here I was gonna pay you a compliment and say how great ya look. Really, ya look like crap and ta make matters worse, ya don't age well either!"
The two friends hugged and just like old times continued to tease each other with insults that would make any non-New Yorker take a second look. They collected Jack's luggage and proceeded to thread their way through the crowd finally reaching the parking lot where Paul's truck was located. The ride out to western Suffolk County was initially slow due to the normal rush hour traffic on the Belt Parkway, but quickly turned into a ride down memory lane for Jack as they passed all of the familiar landmarks. He still couldn't believe that three years had past since his last visit to Long Island. The obvious addition of so many new buildings along the way only reinforced the amount of time that had elapsed.
"I used ta hate gettin stuck in this traffic! Now, all I can do is smile and say ta myself, I'm back home again!"
Paul looked at Jack with a pathetic expression and replied;
"Yeah, you're sick all right!"
He had reservations at the Marriot in Holtsville just off the Long Island Expressway so he could be in a central location for the many trips he planned to take visiting favorite places and people. Paul silently laughed at the location of the hotel. It was situated right next to a massive movie theatre with some of Jack's favorite restaurants in close proximity.
Jack loved to watch movies, although Paul seriously doubted he would waste any time doing so during his visit. Jack checked in at the front desk, verified his rental car and proceeded to find his room. Then the two old buddies went to the hotel bar for a few drinks, more conversation and a couple of fine cigars. While sitting at one of the side tables, a very attractive young waitress came over to take their order. After she left to get their drinks, Paul said in his classic tone;
"Get a load of the gazongas on that babe!"
Jack slowly looked at Paul with a smirk.
"Will you grow up already! Geeezz, some things never change."
Paul snapped back with;
"Hell, if I can't look, I might as well be dead! Even you use ta find a girl like that attractive, when you were alive!"
They both stared at each other for a few seconds and began laughing. The entire evening with Paul brought a perfect end to Jack's first day back in his old home territory. He was looking forward to a good nights sleep after his long flight. Tomorrow morning was already planned. At 6 AM, he would be on the road to his favorite breakfast stop in Calverton where he hoped to meet another old friend, Donna, who was a waitress at the Cross Roads Restaurant.
Jack arrived at the Cross Roads right at 6:50 AM, ten minutes before they opened just like he use to do. If they hadn't changed their routine, he would find the side door unlocked for the bread delivery. Jack quietly entered and made his way to the dining area. Just as in the past, there was Donna getting all of the tables set for the morning crowd. Jack slowly snuck in, and when he was directly in back of her, he leaned as close as he could to the back of her head and said her name loudly.
She nearly jumped a foot off the ground dropping spoons and forks which made a sound like glass breaking. She spun around with an expression of pure anger to see who the practical joker was. When she saw Jack, at first she paused, the anger turned to joy and she hugged him so tight he was even surprised!
Then she looked at him with a sneer, picked up a near by news paper, rolled it up and began hitting him left and right while saying;
"If you EVER scare the hell outta me like that again, you'll be wearing your breakfast instead of eating it!"
They were both laughing now. Jack went over to his old table by the corner window, Donna brought him a freshly brewed pot of his favorite coffee, and like old times, he sat back reading the paper and enjoying the peace and quiet that goes with being the only one in the restaurant that early in the morning.
Breakfast was everything Jack had expected. Donna remembered just how he liked his food prepared and their conversation spanned many topics from pets to cars.
"How long are you here for?" Donna asked.
"Two weeks, but I'm considering staying a bit longer, and yes, I plan ta be here fer breakfast just about every morning." Jack said in a resolute manner with his typical half cocked smile.
In an effort to satisfy his obvious addiction to coffee, Jack ordered another large cup to go. He finally left the Cross Roads at approximately 9:30, spent the rest of the morning down by the Babylon marina and the afternoon visiting other special places that held many fond memories.
That evening he was going to have diner with an ex coworker from his IBM days. Patricia Drummond was an installation and hardware specialist who currently had a part time position with a local communications company while taking care of her two small children, Jack and Gracie. Tyler always had a special relationship with Pat. He thought of her as one would a favorite cousin, or the little sister he never had. Pat took Jack's name for her son because she always liked the sound and simplicity of it. At least that's what she said. Down deep he wondered if there was another reason. The same one that he wouldn't admit to either.
The Sound View Restaurant was located on the north shore of Long Island in eastern Suffolk County. It was an older establishment probably built during the 50s which gave it a certain charm reminiscent of days gone by. This is where they had held all of their office Christmas parties. Jack always loved the ride out to the Sound View! It was accessible by traveling the only main road there was heading towards the eastern end of the North Fork of Long Island. Sound Avenue would twist and turn through all of the small farm communities offering a myriad of serene views. It also held a special kind of romance for Jack. In his younger days, he would ride his old motorcycle out to Orient Point on Sunday mornings taking advantage of the back roads to avoid any 'city weekend warriors' as he called them when the weather and time permitted. It was one of his favorite pass times. To him, those were the most carefree days of his life!
The restaurant was a long narrow black and white one story building that was positioned on a stretch of beach right off the main road and jutted out over the waters edge. For those patrons who were able to select a table by the panoramic windows overlooking the ocean, the sound of the surf gently washing up under the restaurant added a special atmosphere to the dining experience. On a clear night, you could barely make out a faint glow from the Connecticut coast line across Long Island Sound as was evident on this occasion. They were to meet in the western end of the parking lot at 7:00 PM. Neither one was surprised when they both showed up early. Pat and Jack had a reputation of being early birds during their entire careers. As they walked towards each other, Pat had her arms outstretched with her head tilted to one side and a smile that could light up the night. They hugged each other with a rocking motion.
"It's so good to see you again!" Pat said.
Jack noticed that her eyes were moist with tears.
"How's my favorite girl?" he responded.
"Everything's great." she said.
"Even better, now that you're here!"
They entered the restaurant and were promptly escorted to their reserved table which had an excellent view of the beach and the Long Island Sound beyond. Everything was as Jack remembered. He was happy to see that the only projects which had been done during the years since his last visit were normal maintenance and painting. It still had that small town charm. Nothing had changed! Even the music was the same! Just fifties and early sixties tunes could be heard through the old style speakers that hung in the far corners of the large room. An old favorite, 'Baby I Need Your Lovin' was currently playing, sending Jack back in time to happier and more care free days. Once seated, they ordered drinks and appetizers and spoke of good times and funny situations from the past.
The dinner was exceptional and was followed by an overindulgence when ordering desserts making the time spent with Pat a truly memorable occasion. How memorable this night would turn out to be for both Jack and Pat, could have never been suspected!
After dinner they decided to take advantage of the cool night and deserted beach to walk off their hearty supper before returning to western Suffolk.
"Come on Pat! It's a beautiful night. Let's take a walk along the beach. After that meal, I feel like I'm 20 pounds heavier."
"Sounds like a great idea!" Pat replied.
"Remember when we would take those walks through the hallways of IBM just to get up from the consoles we sat at all day?" she questioned.
"I could never forget that! I remember those walks very well, and looked forward to them if I remember correctly? It was even a bit difficult getting up out of those terribly uncomfortable chairs we had. The hallways were always pretty crowded. I wonder how many other people were doing the same thing we were."
They both laughed with a reminiscent tone.
As they exited the restaurant, Pat felt a chill in the air. Jack gave her his overcoat and they started their stroll along the shoreline. He always liked colder weather as compared to Pat who preferred the warmer seasons. Jack simply buttoned the sports jacket he also wore which was all he really needed for comfort on this chilly night.
As the two old friends strolled along the beach and continued to talk of past and current topics, time, and the distance they traveled passed more rapidly than they thought. It suddenly occurred to the both of them that they had walked well beyond any signs of beach front homes or any kind of development. All that could be seen now was the empty seashore and its bordering sand dunes with grass reeds on top swaying in the ocean breeze. Jack realized they must be somewhere near Inlet Pond County Park, a relatively desolate stretch of shoreline. Pat was unusually quiet. A sure sign she felt rather uneasy on the isolated beach.
"I, think we've gone far enough! Let's start back to the restaurant. It's getting pretty late anyway." he said trying to ease his companions concern.
"Fine by me!" Pat said with a suppressed sigh of relief.
As they began their return trip, they noticed what seemed to be an unusually bright star in the night sky. Normally, this wouldn't be any cause for concern. Just a very clear and crisp fall night that enabled the stars to shine as they should. It still isn't clear who noticed first. Maybe they both did! But it became obvious that this particular star was getting brighter, and larger!
Chapter Two'Out of the Night'
Pat was the first to speak.
"Jaaaaacck, do you see, what I see?"
"I see it, but I'm having a hard time believing it!" he replied.
"Could it be some kind of air craft, or a meteor of some type?" she asked.
Jack responded with;
"I'm no expert, but I don't know of any kind of air craft, civilian or military that could travel so fast! As far as a meteor goes, I'm almost, hoping that's what it is. Only one problem! It's not acting like one!"
The object was making slight corrections in its flight path. Jack knew a meteor does not behave in that manner. They both stood transfixed while watching this spectacle unfold before them. Further evidence of its size and rapid decent became apparent as it passed the sparse cloud cover barely visible in the moon light. The clouds swirled chaotically as this invader from the stars flew by. Their eyes were witnessing an event their minds refused to believe! This meteor, comet, 'entity', seemed to be gaining more speed and a feeling of vertigo began to over take them as it continued it's blinding approach.
It came to an abrupt, silent stop, approximately 100 to 150 yards from them and hovered 20 to 30 feet above the ground. The air around the two stunned friends seemed to have become ionized as if some type of electric field was present and there seemed to be a very low, almost inaudible hum emanating from within the object's interior. What they were witnessing was the arrival of some type of craft which did not fit any present conventional standards. It was shaped like nothing they could relate it to. Larger than the length of a football field, it had a solid oblong core, similar in texture to the multi faceted crystal exterior of the Spaceship Earth pavilion at Epcot in Florida and what seemed to be six short wing type structures equally spaced around it's circumference, but facing at opposite angles. These, wings, would randomly display a slight violet glow which seemed to produce a pressure effect in the atmosphere that was clearly felt even at its present distance. Jack surmised they were used for propulsion and were now making continual adjustments keeping the massive craft in a stationary position. There were other types of appendages protruding from its surface with no particular pattern that could be discerned. The entire craft was displaying a much softer light now which was present throughout its surface.
Excerpted from Project Changeling by Rich Varela Mary Ellen Varela Copyright © 2010 by Rich and Mary Ellen Varela. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsChapter 1 - Home Town....................1
Chapter 2 - Out of the Night....................10
Chapter 3 - The Stranger....................22
Chapter 4 - New Beginning....................34
Chapter 5 - Project Changeling....................45
Chapter 6 - New Career....................54
Chapter 7 - Mirror Image....................63
Chapter 8 - Commencement and Development....................81
Chapter 9 - C-1 Operational....................99
Chapter 10 - Back at Gabreski....................119
Chapter 11 - 65th Aggressor Squadron....................140
Chapter 12 - Security Breach....................167
Chapter 13 - Cheyenne....................184
Chapter 14 - Reunion....................193
Chapter 15 - Joie de Vivre....................212
Chapter 16 - Round House Tour....................227
Chapter 17 - Revelation....................235
Chapter 18 - Resurgence....................254
Chapter 19 - Regroup....................268
Chapter 20 - Second Contact....................287
Chapter 21 - Valkyrie Personified....................301
Chapter 22 - Gauntlet....................316
Chapter 23 - Betrayal....................343
Chapter 24 - Mobilization....................358
Chapter 25 - Armageddon....................370
Chapter 26 - Eye of the Storm....................387
Chapter 27 - Last Stand....................401
Chapter 28 - Phoenix....................426
Chapter 29 - Fulfillment....................443
Chapter 30 - Reflections....................464
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is a great read, in the tradition of early scifi "space opera". Lots of action, an unusual premise and unexpected twists. It's lighthearted and fun to read, full of action and unusual adventure. This is a great beach book or something to relax with on a rainy day. No deep meanings or social commentary here .. 'just' a threat to the Earth and an unusual heroine (or is she?) with a bunch of good friends and coworkers who saves the day, in style!