For what is left of the year I am sharing some of the first few chapters of my novel "The Angle of a Madman". If you love what you are reading click on the cover image and get your copy!
My Codename is the Bracket and these are the tales of my missions and adventures.
We had made our escape from the detention center and were now being chased by four of the slimy guardians. In our escape we were able to elude them but we were still detected. My three partners and I had constructed the perfect escape plan. Unfortunately we hadn’t accounted for the new guard not knowing his route and running into us in the hallway.
The detention facility, from where we had escaped, was a level 9 maximum facility. Someone within my organization had sold me out and I resided in the Super Max for the past 5 months. Using my extensive training, I was able to break out of what most would consider an inescapable prison. If we hadn’t been detected by a rookie guard we would be well on our way to a clean getaway. Instead I could hear the wet footsteps and gargled breathing of the guards behind us.
We had cleared the fence, were quickly making our way out of the city and heading towards the train tracks. It was 3:00 AM and I could already hear the train whistling in the distance. We could not miss it, the train was our only way out of this hellhole. This was our one chance and I was sure not going to blow it.
We were outside the city now and I could see the train tracks out in the distance. Along with the rumbling of the approaching train, sirens were now filling the otherwise quiet night’s air. The colorful flashes inundated the darkness, as their presence became imminent. In the panic Charlie stumbled and let out a loud yelp. I stopped and considered going back to help him. Before I could decide two of the green slimy guardians had enveloped him in their oozing saliva. I could hear Charlie scream as their acid drool burned and consumed his skin. Charlie was gone and the screaming of the train’s engine mercifully drowned out his cries for help.
I continued as planned and made the last sprint towards the moving train with my two remaining partners. Paxson and Jaxson had passed me in my hesitation to save poor ol’ Charlie. I picked up the pace and quickly passed the dangerous twins. I had recruited them for the escape but I knew the level of savagery they were capable of. I might have been betrayed into that prison but the twins had earned it. I knew I could not trust them long term but for now I didn’t have any other options.
I could see the train barreling down the tracks, we were going to hit it just in time, hopefully. I dug deep and forced my already exhausted legs to move a little faster. The engine of the train quickly passed us, along with the first few cars. We were aiming for the rear cargo cars, the ones usually empty and just being moved around from train yard to train yard.
I was now running along the train trying to do my best to keep up. Even though the train had slowed down as it traversed through town, it was still moving faster than even my carefully trained legs could. We slowly started to approach the train as we ran alongside it, the wind created by the moving train forcefully blowing on our sweaty faces. I looked over my shoulder time and time again trying to spot the right train car to infiltrate. I could see the twins close behind me, their lungs burning with each stride and their faces showing the struggle. Not far behind them the monstrous green blobs kept pace with us, somehow moving their lumbering slimy bodies faster than they should.
I spotted the train car I had been looking for and made my move to attempt boarding it. I got dangerously close to the train as it whizzed by us and still I got closer. I would have one chance to jump, grab the railing and board the train car. Everything slowed down as my eyes fixated on the rusty piece of tubular railing that I was targeting. The noise of the train and the screeches and screams from our pursuers disappeared into the tranquility of the dark night. I extended my arm with my hand open and ready. I didn’t so much catch the train; it was more like the train hooked me like a fish. I closed my hand around the beat up looking railing and hoped it could hold me. Mercifully the railing held. I pulled myself onto the steps and I was now moving with the train. Jaxson and Paxson somehow achieved the same feat on the other end of the car.
We moved inside and collapsed in the empty wooden vessel. We had made it. I felt bad for Charlie but such were the risks you had to endure when living this type of life. I had sprawled my body out on the old dusty floor and was considering giving in to slumber when the first side door of the car was violently ripped open. The guards were not accepting their defeat and still wanted to capture us.
I quickly sprung to my feet and scanned around for anything I could use or turn into a weapon. I was well trained and wouldn’t need much but there was nothing to be found, not even a loose board. I readied my fists and got as far away from the now open door. The noise of the moving train thundered through the opening as the wet smacking sounds of the guards disturbed me.
One of the ugly creatures was desperately trying to board. The twins, fearless and psychotic, charged it. I had moved back to a safe distance, assessing the situation and waiting to capitalize on our pursuers’ mistakes. I had been trained to handle situations like this. Paxson and Jaxson on the other hand, were quite unpredictable and enjoyed embracing violence. They engaged the slimy green creature and did their best to avoid their giant mandibles and slimy finger tentacles. The guard screamed in pain as the twins took turns swooping in, assaulting it then retreating to let the other twin have his turn.
The twins had almost knocked the beast off the car when the guard reached up with one tentacle filled hand and grabbed Paxson by the leg. The guard’s grip broke off the car and both the disgusting creature and Paxson went flying out of the train. I could hear the deep gurgly laughter of success the creature made as it fell away with its prey. Jaxson screamed his brother’s name and without a second of hesitation dove out of the train to rescue him.
I was left all by myself in the empty train car. I kept my attention on the open side panel, waiting for another guard to come after me but only the scenery flashed by in a dark blur. Before I knew it we were far out in the wilderness and nothing had tried to jump in the car with me. I had allowed myself to relax a little and slowly approached the open door. I quickly peaked out, jumping back as soon as my eyes had processed enough information. I felt a little foolish; after all my years of training, all my missions and I had jumped like a frightened cat. I shook the embarrassment aside and realized that I had successfully escaped.
There were no green slimy guards chasing anymore, I had lost my escape crew and the train car was missing one of its side panel doors. The original plan we had made was no longer going to work. I had to figure out what I needed to do next and fast. If I made it into the next populated area, I would quickly be spotted and the chase would be on once more. I needed to figure out how to stay safe and hidden as I made plans to escape this rock. This planet was a penal colony, the less time I had to spend on it, the better.
The night was peaceful but hot. I could feel the dry heat pressing down on my skin, drying my sweat before my skin could even release it. I stood by the large opening and contemplated my options. I had to do something and quick. In the distance I could see the lights of what looked like a small town. I knew from my reconnaissance this had to be Pecos, the only town before I hit the next big city. I knew the train was not going to stop at Pecos but I had to get off somehow.
I explored the train car, even visited a few others, trying to figure out how to get off the train but with no luck. The distant lights were becoming larger and if I didn’t figure out something soon I was going to lose my chance. I returned to my train car, out of options and with time quickly running out. The train had already passed Pecos and the lights were shrinking as it moved away. As darkness kept rolling by outside the car I did the only thing I could do. I jumped off the train and hoped I didn’t land on anything too hard or sharp.
I couldn’t see where the ground was until it was too late. I had planned to hit the ground, roll to absorb the contact and be on my merry way. Instead, I hit the ground like a bug hitting a windshield and bounced like a ragdoll a couple of times for good measure. I was a tough and strong man but I lay on the ground whimpering and unable to move. My lungs slowly remembered how to breathe and several ribs protested at my expanding ribcage. Tears escaped my eyes no matter how hard I fought them back. I slowly began to move each extremity searching for damage; everything was sore but thankfully in working order.
I rested on the dry dirt and took in the beautiful stars up in the sky. I had never seen the stars from this angle and they were quite beautiful. A long white streak of the galaxy adorned the darkness like a beautiful scar. I forgot about the pain in my body for a while and collected myself while admiring such incredible beauty. I could see in the eastern sky the first signs of the approaching sun. Even if my body protested, I had to move and find somewhere to get shelter and hide.
It took a few painful attempts but I finally made it to my feet. I took shallow breaths to avoid upsetting my ribs any more than I had to, while I figured out my next move. The town was north and distant, there was no way I could make it there tonight and find shelter. To the south were some majestic mountains, their sandy colored soil peppered with a multitude of green trees and shrubs. It wasn’t ideal; I didn’t know the terrain, I didn’t know what kind of animals I might find and shelter wasn’t assured but it was my best option.
I dusted myself off and gingerly started my slow walk into the beautiful wall of earth that grew before me. The terrain was dusty and rocky. Small patches of short grass grew randomly in the valley and up the hillside while arid, mean looking trees hid where I was going. I weaved my way up the mountain until thankfully I spotted what looked like a small cave. I tried to pick up my pace but my ribs quickly overruled me. The sun was now starting to crest over the horizon and I knew the authorities would be looking for me for the next few days.
I made it to the cave and in reality it was more of a glorified rocky overhang. I was exhausted and the day was pressing on me, so the overhang was going to have to work. I used the walking stick I had procured on my hike to clear out the small opening for unknown and dangerous critters. Nothing lunged out at me and nothing attacked me. My body was throbbing in pain and my eyes were becoming heavy. I pulled down a couple of coniferous branches with my last few bits of strength, crawled into my new home and covered myself with them. The bushy branches would provide some shelter from the elements but more importantly hide me from any searching eyes. Beaten, bruised and tired I gave in to sleep, while keeping my eyes half open and my ears alert.
A persistent rattle brought me out of my slumber. It was a slow and painful awakening. My eyes creaked open and followed my ear to the origin of the rattling sound. Through the evergreen branches which were still concealing me there were three heads dancing in the air. It was a three headed snake but larger than anything I had seen in my life. The main body was as thick as my thigh and the three viperous heads danced rhythmically, and full of dangerous potential.
The snake seemed to be very interested in something in the direction of my feet. The two outer heads flanked out continuing their entrancing movements, while the middle and slightly larger head danced with its eyes completely focused. I felt the sudden urge to flee but thankfully my battered and tired body refused. I held back a whimper and continued to watch the strange creature.
As the outer heads continued their hypnotic dancing, the middle head struck the unseen prey faster and more viciously than any other viper that I had ever seen. I heard a small yelp come from near my petrified feet, which was quickly extinguished by the other two attacking heads. The beast slithered away carrying in its jaws an unrecognizable furry creature.
I exhaled a breath I hadn’t realized I was holding once the creature was out of sight. I forced my body to move and it protested every step of the way. My ribs in particular would send sharp pains all the way into my core. Once I made it to my feet and once my vision stopped swimming, I was able to appreciate some of the carnage left behind by the three headed snake. A pool of bright red blood rested not a foot from where my feet had been. The trail of red blood decorated the tan rocks and disappeared into the shrubbery.
I felt partially responsible for the poor creature’s death. I had stolen its burrow and it had perished on my account. I had to find better accommodations or I might be the snake’s next meal. I gingerly started to stagger down the mountain in search of suitable shelter and resources. I desperately needed water; my lips were about as smooth as sandpaper and my head hurt so much it felt like it needed a hole to relieve the pressure.
Every step was excruciating and after many hours of searching for a better shelter without success, nightfall was quickly approaching. I did not want to be wandering around in the dark out here. The heat was oppressing and my already beaten body wasn’t putting up much of a fight. My vision was becoming blurry and the dryness of my lips had spread all the way down my esophagus. I had to stop and use a hearty coniferous tree for support.
I could hear the terrifying howls and screams of predators welcoming the night. The sun had almost submerged itself into the horizon, leaving the mountain and countryside in a dance of fiery reds, pinks and oranges. While soaking in the beauty of it all I spotted what might be my salvation, a small cabin on the side of the mountain. Adrenaline or optimism coursed through my veins and gave life to my legs. I was almost trotting as I weaved my way to the cabin, trying to escape the darkness.
Closer to the structure I could see it wasn’t much of one, just a simple wooden shack probably over a hundred years old. It might not have been a five star hotel but it was going to be home and safety for me tonight. The door devoid of a lock didn’t fight my entrance into the shack. Inside I was welcomed by four bare walls and a wooden plank floor. Besides a few cobwebs there wasn’t much of anything in the shack. I closed the door and hoped the thin piece of worn wood would keep the monsters out for the night.