|Publisher:||Little Moose Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.48(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.41(d)|
Read an Excerpt
By Keith White
Little Moose PressISBN: 0-9720227-2-4
Chapter OneEnd of September, 1943
UNDER HEAVY WIND SHEAR and driving rain, the small, single engine Ballanca floatplane appeared lost-dwarfed beneath the tempest mercilessly tossing from above and between the jagged cliffs threatening on both sides. The granite walls precariously funneled any advance toward the canyon's end, hidden in the mist ahead. Pushing eastward through the dark sky, the pilot struggled against the violent conditions in the gorge, the aircraft strained to the limit.
A bolt of lightning shot across the sky, the jagged shape striking a nearby cliff, then came the thunderous crack as the brilliant flash instantly changed the sky to blinding white. The Ballanca's cockpit and two faces inside the craft instantly lit up, their expressions frozen in time.
Ray Dobbs had flown this route many times in all kinds of weather and marshaled a cautious respect for the mountaintops imbedded in the clouds around him. He also knew his plane's limitations, limitations that had been exceeded long ago. At any moment he expected the storm to deliver a final blow, a pummeling strong enough to snap the plane's wings clean off. He squinted forward unable to tell the fog on the windshield from the clouds outside.
His passenger was stoic, his expression cold, focused and determined. If he felt fear, not a trace showed in his face. The plane thrashed sideways abruptly. Ray crabbed it back to stay in the center of the canyon, but knew they were ultimately at the mercy of the violent elements. A second gust followed, battering them hard and the airframe groaned with a sickening sound. Ray tightened his seatbelt strap once again to keep himself within reach of the controls. His fingers ran over the door latch to confirm it was fixed. It was a mechanical motion, an automatic habit that he nervously replayed every minute or two. He wished he could climb higher, but that was impossible. They were hemmed in by the ceiling, which was rushing past only a hundred feet above.
The pass for which he searched was approaching, but was still some minutes farther on. Ray knew the weather would be better on the other side, as the mountains nearly always blocked these storms, but he'd been in the grip of the winds for almost an hour and the few remaining minutes seemed like forever. He knew that between them and the pass the ceiling would sink lower even as the canyon tightened like a funnel, its cliffs closing in precariously, creating a crucible that would cause the winds to accelerate and the conditions to deteriorate even further.
Chaotic air currents suddenly jolted the plane upward and it disappeared into the soup overhead. Everything became a fuzzy gray void, and Ray's heart skipped a beat. He pushed the yoke in and fought the plane back down out of the obscurity. He did not have the instruments to fly in clouds. If he lost sight of the ground, he would become disoriented in seconds.
The sound of the wind increased as the plane plunged downward. Added to the engine's roar at full throttle, the cracking thunder and the raging gale, the mix became deafening. The ground reappeared suddenly, the jagged cliffs shrouded in clouds: a mixed blessing, giving Ray a bearing, yet awaiting his slightest mistake. He fought the plane to a semblance of level with no sense of relief.
It started to rain. An extreme blast of air hammered them unexpectedly from the right. Instantly the plane was at a standstill, turned on its side, and balanced on its left wingtip. Ray let out an uncontrolled shout. There was the twisting groan of metal as they hung in momentary limbo. The distortion popped Ray's door open and the cold wind and rain roared into the cockpit. Before Ray could react, the plane's forward motion stalled, and it tumbled downward into an uncontrollable spiral. The jolt slammed his passenger's head against the panel beside the twin yoke. He clutched his seatbelt tightly but made not the slightest sound as he eyed Ray sternly. "Do you know what you're doing?" he shouted in nearly perfect English with just a trace of a Teutonic accent. Ray fought the controls, trying to regain authority of the spiraling plane. He had no time for answers.
"What is the matter with this plane?" the man demanded.
"It's not the plane!" Ray shouted as he righted the craft momentarily.
"It's all that, out there! Can't you see what we're in?"
"And your airplane-it cannot take it?"
"I don't know," Ray hollered. His voice was frantic. "I've never seen it this bad. There's only so much these wings can take before they break." He tried to slam his door shut but the twisted frame wouldn't allow it. He left it erratically slamming at his side, figuring it was only a question of time before it blew off into the storm.
The passenger's name was Heinz Bodecker. He claimed to be a German war dodger. Ray wasn't convinced. He had seen others, and knew not every German was a devoted Nazi eager to die for the Fatherland, but Bodecker did not fit the bill. Ray put it out of his mind. There were a growing number of German colonies throughout South America, so such men easily blended in.
Bodecker looked irritated. "Do you even know where we are?" he shouted over the wind.
Ray could feel Bodecker's piercing stare. He had enough to contend with already and didn't need to be badgered. He wished the kraut would just shut up. "We have to make that saddle," he answered, motioning with his head toward a distant notch in the mountain range now back in view. The deeply cut semicircle was sandwiched between the clouds and the canyon rim as if a giant had taken a bite out of the mountaintop. It was higher than they were, in these conditions, impossibly higher. The situation seemed obvious enough but apparently not for the German.
Ray didn't like Bodecker. He was arrogant and overbearing, but that's what Ray thought of all Germans. Well, he wasn't paid to like the passengers. Just to get them to their destination, and to get him and the plane back in one piece.
Ray Dobbs did not fit the image of a veteran pilot. A brown leather patch covered the socket, which his right eye once occupied. Beneath it a grotesque jagged scar extended to his right ear, a disfigurement that he hid underneath a baseball cap. The damaged tissue pulled taut the skin of his cheek and gave his mouth a habitual asymmetrical strained appearance. Despite his handicap he was still a good pilot. His depth perception had been affected, but his skill and years of experience more than compensated to keep him in the air.
He was normally a friendly and gregarious sort who loved to talk. His head was constantly cocked and turning with a quick twitch much like a caged bird's head. His movements were more exaggerated than those of others as he fit the same field of vision into his one good eye that most managed with two. This manic tendency kept him in perpetual motion and easily tired those around him.
Ray's reflection in the mirror was a constant reminder of his accident, a fluke incident caused by debris flying into the spinning prop of a nearby aircraft. Severed splinters rocketed into the side of his head fifty yards away. It was a chance occurrence with a most unlikely outcome. But being at the wrong place, at the wrong time, seemed to be the story of Ray's life. And it was looking increasingly to him as if another, and final, chapter was about to be added.
Storms here were temperamental, something Ray had hoped would work eventually to his advantage, but this tempest would not let up. Instead, it continued with incessant indifference and volatile fury. The little plane bobbed like a cork on an angry raging sea. Between them and the approaching saddle, the sky was black. The boiling ceiling billowed downward like inverted mushroom clouds, concealing the highest summits around them.
Suddenly, the sky opened with a renewed deluge. "Shit! What next?" Ray shouted. The huge drops quickly turned to hail, which pelted the windshield. The clatter overtook the roaring engine and banging door. The wind and water sprayed through the doorway and visibility was now all but gone. Without warning the plane plunged downward in a powerful current.
"More power!" Bodecker screamed. "We're still a thousand feet below the ridge!"
"There's nothing left!" Ray shouted over the racket. He shoved at the throttle with his hand to prove it would move no further. He was drawing all the power there was.
Excerpted from The Portal by Keith White Excerpted by permission.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Ex-Army Air Corps solider Jack Sullivan is on the run, having been forced to flee the country when he's framed for the murder of his ex-girlfriend's husband...meanwhile, Nazi SS trooper Heinz Bodecker ventures deep into the Amazon jungle, in search of a unique method for turning the swelling tide of World War II into the Third Reich's favor...last but not least, OSS newcomer Kelly Wilson is sent on a covert operation deep into the Amazon, literally to cut the Nazis off at the pass...when the divergent paths of each unsuspecting soul suddenly collide, the end result is a completely unforeseen - and quite unimaginable - journey through time and space, rife with enrapturing twists and turns and a surprise ending that will leave you pondering long after the final page is turned... Riveting, intense, and fast-paced, The Portal is a nonstop adventure thrill ride that readers will struggle to put down. Through intriguing, well crafted characters, debut author Keith White relays a fascinating tale full of suspense, drama, and mind-numbing plotlines. In masterful fashion, White retells the renowned good-vs.-evil narrative of World War II in a refreshing, entertaining new light, based on sound historical research, as well as compelling personal experience. All told, The Portal presents readers with a genuine, authentic account so realistic it will be hard for them to suspend disbelief long enough to remember that it remains a work of fiction. A dynamic instant classic from a promising new literary voice, The Portal does not disappoint. A strongly recommended read. Josee Morgan Apex Reviews
This book is Riveting. A wild ride, so hang on and you won't be disappointed.
This book kept me on the edge the whole time. I finished the book in 2days and couldnt put it down i highly recommend it to anyone. I hadnt read a goood book for a while but thios one made up for all of those ok ones.