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April 28th, 2006, 10:13 PM
I'd love to get some comments on my novel. This is a snippet, the opening of Chapter One. I've got three chapters posted online and will be adding the rest once a week (it is done, about 93,000 words).

Munroe peeked around the doorway and ducked back.

****! he thought. I don't have to do that. I'm dead, remember. Oh yeah, that's right, he said to himself. Bullets cannot harm me. I'm Superman!

He moved back into the open doorway and looked at the dark void of the room. His sight slid into the infrared but he saw nothing. No electrical or water services seemed to enter this room in the sub-basement of the old train station. I never knew this cow town had anything this old, he thought, or this big.

He pulled back out of the empty room and continued down the brick-walled corridor, following the infrared glow of the water pipes above him. He almost imagined he could hear the drip of water. How long had he been down here? Five minutes at the most, he thought. Damn! If I could only wear a watch. They might be getting worried back there. Worried about what? he countered. They know nothing can happen to me.

Munroe continued down the corridor and peeked through a glass door that showed a confusing scene. Lit only by a desk lamp somewhere in the back, he saw the shapes of mountains, in fact the same Rocky Mountains he saw every day looking west.

He looked at the sign printed on the glass door "Platte Valley Model Railroad Engineers." It was a vast model train layout. Interesting, I got to check this out sometime.

Suddenly to his left he saw a glow move in the corridor and disappear as the suspect he'd been following ducked into another one of the little rooms. How many are down here? I must be out beyond the walls of the building. I think I'm underneath the train platforms. He continued down the corridor and saw that the pipes overhead stopped. Sliding back into visual light, he saw that the wall he faced confirmed that the corridor ended here. Looking to his right, where the person had run, he saw a solid door that was partially open. Sliding back into infrared, he saw on the door the smudge of a handprint now fading into invisibility.

The door left an eight-inch gap against the frame. A little tight, but some momentum should get me through. He backed up and willed himself through the opening, feeling himself stretched thin and tensing himself for the sproing of his essence reforming.

Ugh, hate that. OK, let's see what's here.

Only a small amount of light spilled through the open door, but it was enough for Munroe to make out that the room held stacked boxes about four feet high. Moving down the aisle formed by the boxes, he could see a small man huddled behind a large semi-automatic, using the boxes for cover. The room was maybe 10 feet by 20 and contained only the boxes, darkened fluorescent overhead lights and the suspect.

Maybe 20 years old, a kid, thought Munroe, and definitely not matching the description of someone almost six feet tall and well built. He might be Hispanic and he probably was a gang member and he most definitely was scared.

This was not a good situation. Only one way into the room and the kid had the doorway covered. If they can't talk him out, he's leaving here dead. Yet again, Munroe wished he could do something, anything physical. If only I could wail and clank chains like Marley's ghost. He moved closer to the kid to see if he had any other weapons besides the semi, which he now recognized as a .45-caliber Colt M1911, a beautiful weapon. Wow, big expensive gun for a small kid. The kid seemed to think so too, as he took the gun out of his right hand to wipe his sweaty palm on his pants. As he did so, he exposed the left side of it.

Damn! The safety's on. And the hammer isn't cocked. Crap, I don't think this kid shot anyone.

Munroe had to act quickly. He flew through the door so fast this time he didn't even feel the stretching. He recited his turns, left, right, left, left and up two flights of stairs and past the SWAT officers flanking the stairwell. He looked wildly for his partner and found her talking to the lieutenant.

Yamaguchi turned instinctively to her right when Munroe's "voice" came through her ear buds.

"I found the suspect. He doesn't have a hostage. He's at the far end of the station in the sub-basement. He's got a .45 semi but the safety is on and the hammer is not cocked."

She turned back to the lieutenant. "Munroe found him. No hostage. Says he's armed with a .45 automatic but that he's got the safety on and the hammer isn't cocked."

"Tell him I think it's an M1911, the Army automatic. Tell him I don't think this kid is the shooter. Maybe we have a chance we can get him out alive."

She relayed this and his description of the suspect. The lieutenant gave her a look that Munroe recognized complete disbelief that she wasn't making it all up. "Yeah, and I bet he's a retired beekeeper and walks with a limp," the lieutenant muttered.

Munroe ignored the terminal's translation, even though the beekeeper gag impressed him. "Tell him the suspect is in a storeroom with one door. He's got it covered. He's hiding behind boxes. Cardboard boxes."

"How does he know this isn't the shooter?" asked the lieutenant.

"Lieutenant," she said for herself, "the witnesses said there were two suspects one large heavyset, one small and everyone agrees only one shot fired. The other suspect must be somewhere else."

The lieutenant nodded and used the microphone clipped to his lapel, probably to tell dispatch that the other suspect was still at large, although her terminal translated the lieutenant's words for Munroe as "unintelligible speech."

The lieutenant turned and looked where he imagined Munroe must be and made himself larger. He's trying to intimidate me. How funny. Yamaguchi shied away from the lieutenant's body language and Munroe temporarily lost the field of her terminal.

" this kid who fired." Munroe only caught the tail end of the lieutenant's remarks as he reacquired the field, but he could guess the gist.

"Because a scared kid who's fired his gun isn't going to put the safety back on and lower the hammer because of fond memories from his NRA safety class." She relayed this without his sarcasm, he noticed. Which was probably wise because he saw the lieutenant's grimace relax.

"I'll go in ahead and confirm the safety is still on and it isn't cocked." She relayed this and added her own comment, "I'll have to go with your guys and relay for Munroe."

The lieutenant nodded and asked, "What's the distance for a TASER?"

She relayed for Munroe: "It's too long. I make the room 10 by 20 and he's at the far end. We'd want to get him to come out."

"Hard to get a shot in there anyway," the lieutenant said to himself. "Tear gas?" The lieutenant was now beginning to ask questions as if Munroe was actually there.

She relayed: "There's a problem, the door opens the wrong way. Someone would have to get up close and you'd have to toss it in but you really wouldn't expose yourself and the room would fill up fast."

"OK, Munroe, you'll advance and lead us in. Gooch, you stay with " the lieutenant looked around " Jenkins. I'll brief them and then we go in."

The lieutenant left them and she wandered away from the knot of men surrounding the lieutenant. "Sounds like he's actually starting to believe you exist," she said.

"Sounds like he's starting to trust you, too," Munroe replied.

"Can we get this kid out alive?" she asked.

"Don't know. He's pretty scared and he has an awfully big gun. It all depends on whether he still hasn't cocked it when we come in."

"We should have a signal," she said.

"Right. Once I know he has hasn't cocked, I'll say OK, what should I say?"

"You say you say safe! That means it isn't cocked, the safety is on and we can try a TASER shot."

"OK, safe means it's safe to go," Munroe confirmed.

"Talking to yourself again?" the lieutenant asked behind Yamaguchi's ear. She turned to face him.

"Yes uh, I mean we have our signal arranged. Alex will tell me it's safe to proceed, and I'll tell you."

Munroe said to her, "Tell him I'm going back down to make sure he's still in the room and I'll backtrack to meet you at the stairs one floor down." She relayed this.

"Sounds good," the lieutenant said and turned back to the others.

"Good luck, Alex," she said. When she realized he'd already left, she said. "Stupid. It's me who needs luck."

Munroe quickly returned to the storeroom, happy the turns worked in reverse and found the suspect still crouched behind the boxes. The kid was now shaking. I hope those aren't the shakes you get after you just shot someone, Munroe thought.

He left the kid and returned to the stairs as the SWAT team was just reaching the floor above. He connected with Yamaguchi, who relayed in a whisper, "Munroe says the suspect hasn't moved and we can move down to the sub-basement."

Munroe had already gone back down to the sub-basement and was waiting for them after again checking the suspect's location. Through Yamaguchi, he directed them through the turns until they reached the corridor that led to the storeroom. From what he could tell, they moved silently and he hoped the kid would be unaware of their presence.

Once in position, the SWAT leader called out to the suspect several times and told him to throw out his weapon and come out unarmed. After not hearing any response, he ordered everyone to put on their gas masks. Then he detailed one of his men to deliver the tear gas through the door. Munroe kept up a back and forth, checking to make sure the kid was still behind the boxes and happy to see he had shrunk even farther back into his hiding spot and then telling Yamaguchi the kid probably couldn't see the lower half of the doorway. She told the SWAT leader who signaled to the man with the tear gas, who then rolled it into the room and ran back to the others.

Munroe remained by the door, not eager to squeeze through the opening again. After a few seconds, gas came billowing out the door and down the corridor to the waiting SWAT team.

Damn! thought Munroe, why's he doing that? as he saw the SWAT leader push Yamaguchi back behind his men, effectively blocking the corridor and his access to the terminal she wore on her arm.

Movement from the door caught his attention and he saw the opening widen at the same time he saw the SWAT team stiffen, their weight shifting into their upper bodies.

The gun poked through the doorway and he saw that the safety was still on and the hammer still down. Munroe ran back to the others just as Yamaguchi shouldered her way through the officers who stood before her, exposing her right arm and the terminal she wore.

Munroe moved so fast he hit the wall of cops and bounced back but he had acquired the field long enough to say "Safe!" He saw her lips open and say the words, and then the team leader yelled his command. As the suspect came through the door amid the billows of tear gas, the beams from the laser sights of two TASERs and several assault rifles met the suspect in the chest. In a clearly defined moment, Munroe could see the darts and trailing wires of the TASERs leave the muzzles, which is when he realized that the darts would pass through him to the suspect.

There was no time for him to do anything and he knew the current was already passing through the wires when he felt something faint, like the memory of the limbs he'd once had when they were beginning to fall asleep. But the wires quickly shifted position as the suspect dropped and the cops rushed forward to secure him. Yet again Munroe bounced off a wall of cops and found himself squeezed between the end of the corridor and their bodies. He forced himself over them and came back down the other side and saw her standing, left behind when the others rushed the suspect.

He came up beside her and caught the field of the terminal.

" roe!" she said and he knew she was calling out his name from the shape her lips made.

"I'm here, Linda."

"Alex, you OK? I lost contact "

"I bounced off 600 pounds of cop. Then I found out what a TASER feels like to a dead person."


"Kind of tingly."

April 29th, 2006, 06:57 PM
I like the story so far.

April 29th, 2006, 07:09 PM
I like the story so far.

Thanks. There's more online at http://www.theAfterNet.net/book/book.html