Stephanie Osborn

Snippet from A Small Medium at Large by Stephanie Osborn

a small medium at large stephanie osbornWhen Ke’ri Gla’d’s caught a cab at her hotel to head for the Machpelah Cemetery late on Halloween, she was unaware that a certain black Lexus, some distance behind, was following her to that same destination.

“Not too near, not too far,” Romeo said to India, as he drove down the street, following the yellow taxi, several cars in front.

“Here’s hoping she doesn’t catch on, and that she doesn’t make too many detours,” India agreed.

“Well, I wouldn’t mind a drive-thru, which she might do, given how much she been eatin’,” Romeo decided.

“You’ve got no room to talk, honey!” India exclaimed with a laugh. “I swear, both your legs are hollow. I don’t know where you put it all!”

“An’ there she goes, into th’ coffee shop drive-thru,” Romeo said in satisfaction. “I’mma get me a big ol’ café breve, like Meg likes, an’ a Danish. You want an espresso, or one ‘a them frozen, blended things?”

“Get me a frozen mocha, I think,” India said. “But nothing else for me.”

In moments Alpha Two were in and out, slurping drinks and sharing the Danish, while never losing sight of their target.

* * *

In short order, the Lexus drove past as the taxi let out an older woman, short and slightly stocky, dressed in a form-fitting black jumpsuit, almost a catsuit, with a black-and-scarlet drape cardigan over that. Tall black boots with silver trim shod her feet; long white hair cascaded down her back.

“That’s her,” India said. “It matches the description of her disguise we had from Alpha Four.”

“Good,” Romeo said. “Then we’ll park on the side street, head in, an’ mingle with th’ professional magicians.”

“On it.”

* * *

By the time Alpha One arrived at the cemetery at last, full night had fallen. Street lights illumined the sidewalk along the street, but within the cemetery itself lay mostly darkness, only broken by a few flashlights carried by the few foresighted individuals in attendance.

There was a large crowd already there, numbering several hundred; in fact, the crowd was so large that it spilled out of the small, cramped graveyard and into the surrounding streets. Some were in costume, some in formal dress, but most were in street clothes. They milled about, watching; some were anxious, but most were bored or amused. Several people, two of whom were in tuxedos, three of whom were in more…esoteric…clothing, took turns attempting to raise the spirit of Harry Houdini. As Alpha One insinuated themselves into the crowd, Ke’ri Gla’d’s, in what was apparently another human disguise—a short, red-headed, middle-aged female in silken caftan and robes—eased into this smaller group.

“Watch, Meg,” Echo murmured, lips barely moving. “You can tell who’s who by how they’re dressed, and how they conduct their séance. The guys in tuxes will be really formal and kind of rote, and they’ll have a real stage presence. Those are the professional magicians, and they’re just here to honor Houdini’s memory; they don’t believe his spirit will return. But the ones who are wearing the robes and buckskins and shit are the spiritualists who really believe the stuff. And they’re halfway expecting something to really happen.”

“I have the feeling they’re the ones who will be right, tonight,” Omega replied in kind. “But I sorta don’t expect any of ‘em are necessarily gonna be happy about it.”

“And I expect you’re right,” Echo agreed. “Aha. Look, across on the other side of the family plot.”

“Alpha Two,” Omega murmured. “But not sticking close together. Good. Oh, and there’s Alpha Six, and Four. Is Five still extracting from the hotel?”

“Actually, Five wasn’t scheduled to get here until after us,” Echo told her. “They were working with the hotel’s offworld management, and extracted as soon as she set foot in the taxi. They should be…glance casually over your right shoulder.”

“Aha. Got ‘em.”

“Yeah. And we blend in rather nicely with the magicians’ societies here, too.”

“Yup, I noticed that.”

“Heads up,” Echo warned. “She’s decided to take her turn. Wow. Classic Glu’gu’ik quantum spirit contact ritual.”

“Ooo,” Omega hummed, intent on the scene.

* * *

Ke’ri Gla’d’s stepped forward, threw her head back, and raised both hands toward the night sky.

“Spirit of the great Hou’d’ni, hear me; for I am Carrie Gladys Hardin! I beseech you, I who am your kindred, of your blood and kind, come to me now,” Gla’d’s invoked. “Pa Da’ko ta Gra’ko On’de, de b’oo!” She paused.

“‘In the Name of the First Creator, it is time,’” Echo whispered the translation in his partner’s ear. Just then, Gla’d’s flung her arms wide.

“Ari Ho’d’ni, ne ko’ko’be, la’la’da ge nu!” she cried.

“‘Harry Houdini, I command you, come to me!’” Echo translated again.

“Well, it’s dramatic enough,” Omega decided, sotto voce. “And the language makes it sound like a magical incantation.”

“Shush—something’s happening,” Echo hissed.

* * *

Before the alien medium, faint colors began to swirl in the darkness. Within moments the colors thickened, darkened, as the very fabric of spacetime itself seemed to distort. A bipedal, humanoid form began to take shape, hovering several feet off the ground. It was a man, some five and a half feet tall, with curly black hair, a high forehead over vivid blue eyes, and handsome, chiseled features. The crowd sucked in a collective breath of shocked excitement.

But as the ‘apparition’ of Houdini materialized, its appearance changed from the traditional aspect known from photographs, into the classic short-bodied, egg-headed look of a typical Zeta Reticulan Gray, complete with bulbous head, flattened nose, huge black eyes, and lipless mouth. The crowd surrounding the ‘medium’ shrieked in fear and drew back as far as they could. Many of those farthest from the gravesite found themselves pressed against the fence surrounding the cemetery.

* * *

Echo and Omega exchanged meaningful, mildly disturbed glances, then looked across the crowd, where Alpha Two was embedded. Omega rubbed her chin, glanced at her watch, then shook her head. It’s cool. Wait. Don’t take her yet.

Got it. Romeo nodded slightly. He made a subtle hand gesture, and he and India both sent the hand signals that forwarded the order to the other Alpha Line teams.

Meanwhile, Echo reached into his pocket, palming his cell phone. His thumb tapped several places along its screen and cover, activating the audio recording app.

‘Carrie Gladys Hardin’ held up a staying hand to the unnerved crowd.

“Hold!” she cried in English. “The spirits of the dead do not always appear as we would. Harry Houdini, I address you.”

“I…hear…” came a quavering, eerie voice, sounding almost like a distant echo.

“You know who I am.”

“I…do…”

“You know what I seek.”

“Yesss…”

“Where is it?”

Houdini’s alien shade was silent.

“I adjure you, Harry Houdini, answer me! Where is it?”

What came from the extraterrestrial spirit’s lips next was in no wise English.

“On’de, oo de n ko’te a tw’a, n do’ok a ko’a’du’ne ba’wa’ne. Tor’ko kl’ee, bo kwa’ta’do! To’de, n do’ok la on’wa ne la’la’du wo’of. D’an, der klo’vi’t do’n. K’oi’du de we. Nda’da’be. Tra’de, ba on’de, n do’ok la on’de ne k’ap wi’if’de’z, n fes’nus pe’dun ge’da n nu’ke’ke. Ka’de, n do’ok la ne du ka’ka’du b’an dan kre. Gun’gun oi’ko’s’un, wo ga lo om, qu’a’du bre. Kin’de, n do’ok k’en’ti’do, der ne wo ku. Wo’pe’wo’be p’op n b’oo! Bu’ke n dwa’z, der or’k lu’ke n kwa’z!”

And with that, the ghostly apparition faded into nothingness.

The frightened crowd bolted.

 * * *

For what happens next, see:

https://www.amazon.com/Small-Medium-Large-Division-One/dp/0998288837/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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Stephanie Osborn

New from Stephanie Osborn!

Chromosphere Press Announces Book 2 in the Division One Series!

11 APRIL 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

HUNTSVILLE, AL

What if Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was right all along, and Harry Houdini really DID do his a small medium at large stephanie osbornillusions, not through sleight of hand, but via noncorporeal means? More, what if he could do this because…he wasn’t human?

Ari Ho’d’ni, Glu’g’ik son of the Special Steward of the Royal House of Va’du’sha’ā, better known to modern humans as an alien Gray from the ninth planet of Zeta Reticuli A, fled his homeworld with the rest of his family during a time of impending global civil war. With them, they brought a unique device which, in its absence, ultimately caused the failure of the uprisings and the collapse of the imperial regime. Consequently Va’du’sha’ā has been at peace for more than a century. What is the F’al, and why has a rebel faction sent a special agent to Earth to retrieve it?

It falls to the premier team in the Pan-Galactic Law Enforcement and Immigration Administration, Division One — the Alpha One team, known to their friends and colleagues as Agents Echo and Omega — to find out…or die trying.

Stephanie Osborn, aka the Interstellar Woman of Mystery, former rocket scientist and author of acclaimed science fiction mysteries, goes back to the urban legend of the unique group of men and women who show up at UFO sightings, alien abductions, etc. and make things…disappear…to craft her vision of the universe we don’t know about. Her new series, Division One, chronicles this universe through the eyes of recruit Megan McAllister, aka Omega, and her experienced partner, Echo.

Award-winning author Osborn is a 20+-year space program veteran, with multiple STEM degrees. She has authored, co-authored, or contributed to more than 30 books. She currently writes the critically-acclaimed Displaced Detective Series, described as “Sherlock Holmes meets The X-Files,” and the Gentleman Aegis Series, whose first book was a Silver Falchion winner. She “pays it forward” through numerous media including radio, podcasting and public speaking, and working with SIGMA, the science-fiction think tank. Osborn’s website is http://www.stephanie-osborn.com.

Division One series Book Two, A Small Medium At Large, will be released in ebook formats on 11 April 2017, and in trade paperback format on 25 April. Book One, Alpha and Omega, was released in January of this year. Additional installments in the ongoing series are anticipated later this year.

ISBN:

978-0-9982888-2-6 (ebook)

978-0-9982888-3-3 (print)

The ebooks are available for preorder at:

Amazon (Kindle/print): https://www.amazon.com/Division-One-Small-Medium-Large-ebook/dp/B06XTQX7GZ/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8 

Barnes-Noble (print): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1126038430?ean=9780998288833 

Barnes-Noble (Nook): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/division-one-stephanie-osborn/1126188736?ean=2940157249212 

Look for the trade paperback at your favorite bookseller!

Stephanie Osborn

Stephanie Osborn – Bona Fide Rocket Scientist

stephanie osbron photoIf you want to read a book by a dumb blonde, you’ve come to the wrong place. Why? Because Stephanie Osborn may be blonde, but she’s far from dumb. She’s a bona fide rocket scientist who used to work for NASA.

I’ve read several of her books over the years, and I love them all. Her books are funny, fast paced, cleverly constructed and keep the reader on the edge of the seat. My favorites are her Displaced Detective books, staring the King of Crime himself, Sherlock Holmes. Inadvertently brought from one reality to the next, the Victorian super sleuth finds himself displaced in space and time. Thanks to the friendship of scientist Skye Chadwick, Sherlock finds his place in modern society.

There are now four books in the Displaced Detective Series, each better than the last. I have greatly enjoyed reading these fantastic books by Stephanie Osborn, and I think anyone who likes a fun filled, fast paced mystery will too.

To Buy Stephanie’s Books!

13510991_10209768230272427_4612641024565610061_n(3)

books, Cereal Authors, Displaced Detective, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Sherlock Holmes, Stephanie Osborn

Excerpt — The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival by Stephanie Osborn

by Stephanie Osborn
http://www.stephanie-osborn.com

This is not your father’s Sherlock Holmes…

The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival is a science fiction mystery in which brilliant hyperspatial physicist, Dr. Skye Chadwick, discovers there are alternate realities, often populated by those we consider only literary characters. Her pet research, Project: Tesseract, hidden deep under Schriever AFB, finds Continuum 114, where Sherlock Holmes was to have died along with Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls. In a Knee-jerk reaction, Skye rescues Holmes, who inadvertently flies through the wormhole to our universe, while his enemy plunges to his death. Unable to go back without causing devastating continuum collapse, Holmes must stay in our world and adapt. Meanwhile, the Schriever AFB Dept of Security discovers a spy ring working to dig out the details of – and possibly sabotage – Project: Tesseract. Can Chadwick help Holmes come up to speed in modern investigative techniques in time to stop the spies? Will Holmes be able to thrive in our modern world? Is Chadwick now Holmes’ new “Watson” – or more? And what happens next?

~~~

“…This is a really bad time for me to leave console at the moment, hon.”

Caitlin shot her a hard, annoyed look.

“You can’t be considering it,” she said flatly. “All hell is breaking loose here. I don’t care if the President needed you five minutes ago! You have to stay here!”

“Chill, Cait,” Skye tossed an aside to her friend, phone held absently to the side of her face with her shoulder as she tried to read the scribbled note Timelines handed her, around annotating her clipboard. “I’ve got more to do than I can shake a stick at now. I’m…what?” she said, staring at the note. “Software! Check the focus subroutine! Make sure it’s initiating at the correct point in the program! The last thing we need now is a software glitch causing a delay in timing. If that’s happening, no wonder the induction element’s hosed! Hardware, make sure the circuit’s clear! Holmes, I’m sorry, I can’t make it right now. I don’t have time to catch my breath down here.”

* * *

Holmes listened closely, not only to Skye’s direct comments, but also to her asides and commands, and to what he could hear of the remarks made to her. He covered the mouthpiece with his hand and informed Jones and Smith.

“It appears matters are not going well in the Chamber.” He punched the speaker button on the phone so the other men could hear. Then he returned his attention to the sounds coming from the phone. “Skye, what is happening?”

* * *

Skye watched as her teammates fought with the recalcitrant apparatus. One of the Hardware console members, Chad Swann by name and a longstanding friend of Skye’s, moved into the center of the room to check the circuitry of the monoliths. Skye grabbed her clipboard, flipping to the malfunction shutdown checklist, where she scanned the list, trying to determine the seriousness of their
situation.

Vaguely she heard Holmes’ query, but didn’t have time to devote to it. Still, she managed to find two spare brain cells to rub together, and replied abstractedly, “We’re having a malfunction in the induction element system. We can’t keep it focused…”

“Skye, we need you to make a call! Shut down, or put it in a holding pattern and troubleshoot?” Caitlin interrupted. Skye juggled phone and clipboard, trying to assess the checklist for priority red malfunction modes.

“Holmes, I’ve gotta go,” she said into the phone. “I need to figure out how serious this is—”

“DR. CHADWICK! We’ve got a GRAVITON SPIKE!” Sequencing shouted.

* * *

Smith and Jones watched as Holmes’ expression grew more and more grave as he listened to the sounds on the other end of the line. They heard Skye’s attempt to break the conversation, and Holmes was about to answer in the affirmative when they overheard the exclamation from Sequencing.

Holmes paled as they heard Skye shout, “Chad!! Get out of there! NO! EMERGENCY SHUTDO—”

The line went dead.

Instantly the entire building shuddered hard enough to knock books off shelves and send Skye’s chalk tumbling from its rack on the blackboard, smashing into dusty white shards on the tile. The three men grabbed for heavy furniture to avoid being flung to the floor.

* * *

When the quake subsided, the three men sat staring at each other, shaken. Holmes felt almost lightheaded, his grey eyes wide.

“What happened?” Jones demanded. “Did that earthquake have anything to do with Project: Tesser—”

“Emergency shutdown,” Holmes snapped out, leaping to his feet. “Graviton spike.” He didn’t fully understand the significance of the graviton spike, but from his reading of Skye’s quantum mechanics text, which perforce contained a significant amount of particle physics, he knew what a graviton was, and strongly suspected it was connected to the quake. “I am going down to the Chamber,” he declared in a tone brooking no argument. “The two of you may come, or stay.”

* * *

“Is your authorization in?” Jones turned to Smith.

“Your duty officer entered it into the system when I arrived this morning,” Smith observed.

“Good. We’re coming, Holmes,” Jones declared.

But Holmes was already out the door and down the hall, headed for the elevators at a dead run.

Jones and Smith sprinted behind.

~~~

The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival is available in print and ebook (all formats), and the first four books of the series have been released in a collected ebook edition, The Case of the Displaced Detective Omnibus. Book 5, A Case of Spontaneous Combustion, is a 2014 new release. All of them are suitable for gift-giving!

-Stephanie Osborn
http://www.stephanie-osborn.com

Stephanie Osborn, Uncategorized

E-Books on sale by Stephanie Osborn

Ebooks On Sale!

By Stephanie Osborn

 

Want to try out some of my books, but don’t want a big investment? Now’s your chance! Two of my books are ON SALE in ebook format from now through Memorial Day, for ONLY 99 CENTS! That’s right, for less than a buck, you can pick up an ebook!

Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281

burn out cover

My very first book, the ebook-bestselling Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281, which has garnered Hollywood interest, is available in Kindle and Nook for $0.99!

 

Burnout is a science fiction mystery about a Space Shuttle disaster that turns out to be no accident. As the true scope of the disaster is gradually uncovered by the principal investigators, “Crash” Murphy and Dr. Mike Anders, they find themselves running for their lives, as lovers, friends and coworkers involved in the investigation perish around them. What happened to the Shuttle? Who is responsible and why? Why is the government calling it an accident? Why is someone willing to kill to keep it a secret? And how big is the conspiracy?

 

And Book 1 of the critically-acclaimed Displaced Detective series, The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival, is also available in Kindle and Nook for $0.99!

the displaced detective arrival

The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival, Book 1 of the Displaced Detective Series

Brilliant hyperspatial physicist, Dr. Skye Chadwick, discovers there are alternate realities, often populated by those we consider only literary characters. Her pet research, Project: Tesseract, hidden deep under Schriever AFB, finds Continuum 114, where Sherlock Holmes was to have died along with Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls. Knee-jerking, Skye rescues Holmes, who inadvertently flies through the wormhole to our universe, while his enemy plunges to his death. Unable to go back without causing devastating continuum collapse, Holmes must stay in our world and adapt.

Meanwhile, the Schriever AFB Dept of Security discovers a spy ring working to dig out the details of — and possibly sabotage – Project: Tesseract.

Can Chadwick help Holmes come up to speed in modern investigative techniques in time to stop the spies? Will Holmes be able to thrive in our modern world? Is Chadwick now Holmes’ new “Watson” – or more? And what happens next?

Sample chapters for Burnout can be found here.

Sample chapters for The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival can be found here.

For more about my books, check out my author website!

 

Stephanie Osborn

Displaced Detective, the Arrival – A Review

The Misplaced Detective by Stephanie Osborn
$0.99 eBook
$18.90 Paperback

I met Stephanie Osborn when I started my radio broadcasts back in 2008. She had the honor, perhaps dubious, of being my first interviewee. I say dubious because I had no idea who she was, what she’d written or what I was doing. We got through the interview because she is a brilliant, lovely, gracious lady who continues to be a friend and favorite interview subject. Below is a review I did of one of her fantastic Sherlock Holmes mysteries, which has brought Holmes into modern times with a bang!

The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival

Dr. Skye Chadwick is brilliant, dedicated and committed to her pet project – The Tesseract. It’s purpose? To observe alternative dimensions. As such, the group adheres to a strict hands off policy.

During one such viewing, Dr. Chadwick finds herself unable to adhere to the hands off directive. Jumping into the scenario, she breaks apart two combatants. One tips out of the Tesseract ring and into the future. The other tumbles over a cliff, dying at the base of the waterfall.

Enter Sherlock Holmes. Due to Skye’s interference, Holmes is hurled into her reality, his own closed to him forever. Unable to return to his dimension, Holmes must adapt to ours.

The game’s afoot when the base security finds that a spy ring plans sabotage somewhere on the base. Wisely, the base commander asks Holmes to investigate. Skye, who is working with Holmes to acclimate him, tags along, helping with the investigation. And therein lies a tale….

Skye Chadwick is a wonderful, caring person. A scientist, she is a stickler for detail. Like Watson in her skills with weapons, she is also like Holmes in her deductive reasoning and observational skills. She is the perfect counterpart to the ‘modern’ Holmes.

Stephanie Osborn artfully brings the character of Holmes into the 21st Century. Her depiction of his Victorian mores in modern times adds great depth to his personality. She lovingly brings Sherlock Holmes alive.

I highly recommend The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival to anyone who loves a good sci-fi/ mystery. I look forward to reading the second book in the series The Case of the Displaced Detective: At Speed.

Five Golden Acorns

To Buy This and Other Books by Stephanie Osborn

Stephanie Osborn

El Vengador by Stephanie Osborn

el vengador by stephanie osbornDeputy Sheriff Michael Kirtchner gets an “unknown disturbance” dispatch call to a remote house trailer in the swamp. There, he discovers an old woman and a dog, terrorized by a mysterious beast, which he takes to be a bear. But when he contacts Game Warden Jeff Stuart to come trap the animal, Stuart tells him to get out if he values his life – this is no ordinary animal. Is Kirtchner up against a Swamp Ape – a Florida version of Bigfoot – or something more…sinister?

Based on a true story.

Get Stephanie Osborn’s newest book NOW!

Excerpt from El Vengador by Stephanie Osborn

Elsie Moore ungracefully mopped her perspiring brow on the hem of her dress, then continued cooking her dinner on the tiny gas stovetop. A small pot on the back burner bubbled merrily, releasing a spicy smell as white grains of rice, gradually turning a greenish-tan, churned up. As a waft of strong skunk smell drifted through the tiny trailer kitchen from the open window, she wrinkled her nose and stared down in distaste at the skillet containing crawfish and boudin noir while poking at it with a spatula.

The foul odor from outside was not helping her opinion of her ingredients. She wasn’t fond of blood sausage in the first place, but it had been cheap, and she didn’t get into town much for groceries, so she made do. Being unemployed, she wasn’t overmuch blessed with cash and didn’t have a vehicle, so she was forced to depend upon distant friends for a ride to town, or more often, she just walked ― which ended up taking the better part of a day. So inexpensive and quick to get hold of were the rules of the house. The crawfish had come from a Cajun friend who lived up the bay. She wasn’t Cajun, nor was she from one of the local Native tribes, but she knew people in both communities, and they looked after her when they could; she was a fairly skilled herbal healer, and had been known to treat strangers more than once. Abruptly the skunk stench increased to nearly intolerable volumes, and she turned away from the stove, covered her nose with her free hand, and fought back a nearly unbearable urge to retch.

“Damn,” she cursed. “Ah’m gonna have ta git somethin’ done ‘bout that skunk den, an’ soon, don’t Ah’m gonna end th’ summer unable t’ eat nothin’ f’r the stink. It ‘uz bad enough in th’ spring when they moved in, but now it’s hot, Ah gotta keep th’ winners open, ‘r suffocate…” Her German shepherd let out a long whine from somewhere in the back yard, and she yelled out the window. “BILLY! HUSH! Ah ain’t got time f’r that racket!”

She returned her attention to her makeshift excuse for jambalaya ― not, she thought, that it would amount to much without any celery or bell pepper, but at least she’d found some wild onions that morning ― and tried to ignore the smell coming in from outside, and which was threatening to spoil her appetite for good. A buzzer sounded, and she reached up to turn off the timer, then put a lid on the pot of seasoned rice, switching off the burner to let the dish soak up the extra liquid and finish cooking on its own.

By the time the crawfish were cooked, the rice was ready. It was early for dinner, but Elsie’s day started early, out the door before full dawn, wild-crafting edibles to eke out her meager supplies of food and gather herbs for medicinals.

The sixty-three year old widow of ten years and three grown-and-departed children dumped the tiny pot of rice into a plate, then upended the skillet’s contents on top. Fishing a bent-tined fork from a drawer, she moved into the den, sat in her favorite chair, and began to eat. After a few minutes, she grabbed the battered remote control and turned on the television. Static and snow greeted her from that appliance, and she reached for another control, fiddling with it until the dish outside had picked up another satellite. The picture was still fuzzy and staticky, but at least she could see and hear the broadcast. Then she settled back with her meal to watch a series of game shows.

Halfway through her meal, Billy, her German shepherd, came to the front door, pawing and scratching as he whined.

“NO, Billy!” she told the dog. “Ah’ll let ya in at sundown, no sooner, an’ yew kin curl up onna foot o’ th’ bed like usual. Y’re s’posed ta be a guard dawg, not mah pet, even iffen ya are mah onlies’ real friend. Jus’ settle down! What’s got inta yew today, no how?”

The dog whined and scratched harder.

“GIT!” she called. There was a scrambling sound on the wooden stoop, then Billy ran around to the back yard, where he began to bark like a fool. “Damn dog.”

All of a sudden Billy began to yelp, loud, high-pitched sounds like a dog in pain, or maybe in terror. This mingled with a low growling sound, and unexpectedly the trailer filled with a horrible, intolerable stench. Elsie shoved her half-empty plate onto the end table, grabbed the nearby plastic waste can, and threw up her dinner. Before she could even wipe her mouth, a deafening clamor sounded right outside, and the trailer shook. Billy let out a kind of canine scream, and this was followed and drowned out by an animal roar of rage. The trailer shook again. Elsie shot to her feet.

“BILLY!” she cried, alarmed. “Billy! What’s wrong, puppy-dog? Whatcha got treed?” She ran to the nearest window and looked out. She saw nothing. The trailer shook again. She looked down.

Practically beneath her, pressed up against the back wall of the trailer, was the hind end of some very large, powerful, furry creature. The color was an odd, ticked shade of browns and blacks, mottled with blotches of livid green. A roaring howl, which seemed to come from beneath her, fairly made her guts vibrate. She watched the animal’s hindquarters tense, and the trailer shook yet again. Just then, Billy let out a pitiful yip… and was silent.

“BILLY!” she screamed, suddenly afraid for her pet.

Just then, something slammed up under her foot. She looked at the floor, then her jaw dropped open in horror and she instinctively backed up several steps.

The seam between the floor and the wall had popped, and three huge claws poked through, gouging at the flooring. Despite herself, she screamed.

“DEAR JESUS, help me!” she cried, fervent. Then she crossed herself. “Pertect Yer li’l Elsie an’ ‘er pup!”

For your copy of El Vengador by Stephanie Osborn

Mystery, Sci-Fi, Stephanie Osborn

Stephanie Osborn Presents The Case of the Cosmological Killer: The Rendlesham Incident

Excerpt: The Case of the Cosmological Killer: The Rendlesham Incident an SF mystery by Stephanie Osborn

This is Book 3 of the Displaced Detective Series. Book 4, The Case of the Cosmological Killer: Endings and Beginnings, which is a continuation, just came out in ebook format and will be released next month in print.

~Stephanie Osborn

http://www.stephanie-osborn.com

Prologue—Encounters

“Leeming Tower, this is Blue-One-Niner; Tower, this is Blue-One-Niner.”

“This is RAF Leeming. Go, Blue-One-Niner.”

“Tower, I have visual at one o’clock low, approaching coast along south-southeast heading; range, estimated twelve klicks. Request verification and possible change of altitude.”

“Blue-One-Niner, this is Tower. Please repeat visual info.”

“Tower, Blue-One-Niner. Visual at one o’clock low, estimated range ten klicks and closing.”

“Blue-One-Niner, Tower. I thought you said twelve klicks.”

“Tower, One-Niner. I did; it’s incoming.”

“Blue-One-Niner, radar shows no other aircraft in your vicinity.”

“Leeming, better look again. It’s right there, range now…HOLY SHIT! It just accelerated! Range now seven kilometres and closing fast! I am executing evasive manoeuvers! Climbing to twelve thousand metres! Bogey heading south-southeast, nearing coastline…”

“Copy, Blue-One-Niner. Evasive manoeuvers; you are cleared to twelve thousand. Be advised, radar still shows no—hold one! Where the bloody hell did THAT come from?! Contact Fylingdales—you did? They don’t? Roger that! All other traffic on this channel, this is Leeming Tower; please move to Channel Four immediately. Blue-One-Niner, this is Tower! Do you still have visual on bogey?”

“Roger, Tower! Closing fast…”

“You are authorised to pursue and bring down, peaceful preferred. Scrambling backup.”

“Copy, pursue and bring down. If peaceful refused?”

“You are authorised to use whatever means necessary. If peaceful refused, consider hostile.”

“Roger that. It’s passing below me now. Turning to pursue.”

“Copy that. Blue-One-Niner, can you identify aircraft? Radar signature is…inconclusive.”

“Uh…Tower, that visual is an inconclusive, too. It doesn’t look like any bloody aircraft I’ve ever seen. In fact, it doesn’t even look like an aircraft…”

“Description?”

“It’s a…big fuzzy ball, glowing kind of…yellowish-orange. And moving like a bat out of hell.”

“Blue-One-Niner, please repeat last transmission. It sounded like you said a big fuzzy ball?”

“Affirm, Tower, that’s exactly what I said. Think…giant tennis ball, only more orange. Still approaching coastline near Scarborough… correction! Bogey has changed heading! Damn! Stand by, Tower…”

“Leeming Tower standing by.”

“Tower, this is Blue-One-Niner. I don’t know what the blazes they’ve got, but it’s way the hell more manoeuvreable than my Typhoon. They just executed a sharp turn to port, and I do mean sharp! I overshot by several miles inland, trying to make the turn. They are now paralleling the coastline, bearing southeast.”

“Roger that, Blue-One-Niner. We…saw the turn on radar…”

“Yeah, you probably see something else, too.”

“Roger that. Bogey is…ACCELERATING?!”

“Like that bat out of hell—on warp drive. Punching ‘burners…”

“Blue-One-Niner, this is Leeming Tower. Report.”

“Leeming, this is Blue-One-Niner. Sorry, mates, she’s outstripped me by a long shot. Keep ‘er on radar as long as you can, and try to anticipate and scramble interceptors. I’ve already almost lost visual.”

“Roger that…”

* * *

Inside the radar room at RAF Fylingdales, the Officer of the Day discussed the situation with his chief technician.

“Are you sure?” the OD pressed his radar tech.

“Positive, sir,” the tech replied, grim. “We’ve been watching it for the last five minutes, ever since it showed on radar. The only thing I know of that can travel that fast is a blasted Space Shuttle, and even they couldn’t make manoeuvres like this ruddy thing is making. We’re gathering all the radar data on it

we can, profiles and such, but so far, we’ve not been able to put a plane close. Blue-One-Niner got a good visual on it, but that was sheer dumb luck.”

“What kind of craft was One-Niner in? Recon?”

“A Typhoon, sir. And the bogey left it in the dust, even on full afterburners.”

“Bollocks!” the OD exclaimed, shocked and gawking. “Left in the DUST? A TYPHOON?!”

“Like it was sitting still, as near as I can tell from air-to-ground transmissions. Radar supported the assessment, too.”

The OD thought hard for several moments.

“Any idea where it’s headed?”

“Yeah.” The techie scowled.

“Well?”

“You’re not gonna like it.”

“Tell me anyway.”

“Bentwaters.” The engineer gazed solemnly at his superior. The OD blanched.

“Bugger. Get the brass on the bloody horn!”

* * *

Deep beneath the seemingly abandoned RAF Bentwaters base, ciphered telephones were ringing off their hooks. Frantic officers and enlisted personnel scurried about, attempting to ascertain under what sort of threat they were operating.

The underground facility itself was under full lockdown, with absolutely no sign of life visible to the outside.

And that was precisely how they wanted it.

Far overhead, in the deepening twilight sky, a glowing golden sphere floated, searching.

* * *

In the Headquarters of Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the Director General was in her office, reviewing the dispatches as soon as they arrived.

“Not again,” she muttered under her breath, obviously deeply concerned. “I thought we were done with this decades ago.”

“Doesn’t look like it, madam,” Captain Braeden Ryker noted, subdued, handing her another report. “All hell is breaking loose out there, by the sound of it. Some of the public reports are probably spurious, and some of it—seventy-five percent, I’d say—likely due to hoaxes and copycats and just plain power of suggestion. But that still leaves the remaining twenty-five percent as real. We’ve got jets scrambled all along the coast, and except for the initial intercept, which was accidental, not one of our aircraft could even get close enough to see the thing.” He looked down at the paper in his hand. “We did luck out on one point. Our local field office got a heads-up from Fylingdales at the same time they notified Bentwaters, and Gregory got his ass in gear with record speed. He mobilised a field team in time to have a gander at the object. They’re still in the field, so we don’t have word yet.”

“Is it still out there?”

Ryker glanced again at the communiqué in his hand.

“Not according to the latest information, no, madam.”

“Get a detail out there and start looking into the situation.” The director shook her head, obviously gravely concerned.

“What about…?” Ryker began, then added candidly, “Do you want me to override Gregory, madam?”

“No, I want you to work WITH him,” the Director declared with a wave of her hand. “Get some of the Headquarters experts out there right alongside his team—specialists, to aid him in his assessment, not supersede him. I know Gregory. He’s a good man, with a good team. I simply want all the data we can gather. I want to know what this thing is, where it’s from, what it’s after, and I want to know five minutes ago.”

“Right away, madam,” Ryker nodded, exiting swiftly.

* * *

The field excursion team filed into the back of the nondescript office building, entering an equally bland conference room. They appeared to be college students and young professionals, clad in jeans or chinos and shirts, carrying attaché cases or backpacks, as appropriate. When the last of them arrived and the conference room door closed, they turned to the man in the corner.

“Here we go again, Gregory,” the field team lead sighed, shaking his head. “It’s the Halt transcript all over again, right down to the imagery in the night vision goggles.”

“Any feeling of intent?”

“Definite intent,” another remarked. “It was…looking…for something. A natural phenom doesn’t sweep a grid pattern. This bugger did. Nice and precise, too.”

“Blast and damnation,” Gregory sighed. “What was it looking for? Any ideas?”

“That’s the prize question, isn’t it, boss?” the second field investigator shrugged. “If we could answer that, problem solved, and on to the next issue—which is, what to do about it?”

“Yeah,” Gregory muttered. “Well, boys and girls, get your reports together fast. Headquarters is breathing down our necks. Word has it the Director General herself is involved, and you know to whom SHE reports. We’re likely to have help soon. In fact, some experts are supposed to be coming down from London as we speak, to work alongside.”

There was a collective groan from the room.

“All right, boss,” the team lead noted. “Everyone, laptops out, reports in half an hour. Type fast.”

* * *

Ryker came into the Director’s office at speed, bearing the collected dispatches from the field office.

“Here you go, madam,” he noted, handing them to the Secret Service director. “The latest on the phaenomenon. I can’t say I’m pleased with the way this is headed.”

The scowling director scanned through the reports, speed-reading. “Ah, I see your point. Are the subject matter experts on their way?”

“They are.”

“Very good. Dismissed.” As Ryker turned to leave, she changed her mind. “Ryker, wait a moment.”

“Yes, madam?” He stopped, pivoting smartly on his heel to face her once more.

“Your…friends…in America…” She pondered briefly.

“Williams, madam?”

“No, the scientist and a certain detective.” She threw a small grin at the agent.

“Ah,” Ryker grinned back at her, “Dr. Skye Chadwick and Mr. Sherlock Holmes.”

“The very ones. What are they doing at the present time?”

“I don’t know offhand, madam, but I can contact Williams and find out,” Ryker said. “I have strong reason to believe they may be coming across the Pond for a visit after the first of the year, however. Are you considering calling them in on this?”

“Possibly,” the director confessed, looking over one of the dispatches. “Certainly they possess the specific expertise necessary to look into so abstruse a problem as this. They…” she paused, staring at the paper in her hand. “The night vision goggles showed a HOLE in the middle of the object?” She raised her head, gazing at Ryker in astonishment.

“Yes, ma’am. It makes no sense, I know, but that’s just like it happened back in 1980.”

“And you have every confidence in Chadwick and Holmes.” She eyed Ryker sternly.

“Yes, ma’am,” Ryker responded smartly, with confident emphasis.

“And this is really THE Sherlock Holmes?”

“Without doubt,” Ryker smiled. His certainty was almost palpable. Despite this fact, the Director sighed without enthusiasm.

“Very well. Yes, Captain Ryker. Contact Captain Williams and have him ascertain their availability. Provide Williams with a detailed abstract of events through appropriately secure channels, and see to it he briefs Holmes and Chadwick on the matter as soon as possible. Ensure they are instructed to stand by in the event they are called in on the case.”

“Consider it done.” Ryker snapped off a salute before spinning and exiting the office.

Chapter 1—Detective Diaries

October 30

This is certainly not my usual notion of working out my thoughts.

Then again, it was hardly my idea.

To cut to the heart of the matter: In recent nights, I have been having a recurrent dream—more a nightmare, really, I suppose, though it lacks the standard horrific setting and characters. In it, Watson, dear old chap, searches all London for me, yet even when I respond to his calls, even when he is face to face with me, he can neither see nor hear me. It is quite annoying, all in all—and, frankly, not a little disturbing. Skye seems convinced it is my subconscious response to being forcibly yanked into a new continuum and having all contact severed with my former life, friends, and family. There may, I suppose, be something to that.

Nevertheless, it was her idea to keep a journal. I am not normally one for such things, save perhaps in order to record specifics on a given criminal, and when she suggested the idea, I merely smiled, nodded, and went on constructing my second beehive. It is, of course, far too late in the season to do much with it. But the first beehive is already occupied by a healthy swarm of honeybees, and I intend to have this, and one more, ready come spring.

I am quite sure my disinterest was patently evident upon my face; Skye is nothing if not observant. But my dear Skye is also nothing if not determined. And so this morning I found myself presented with a blank journal.

It is a handsome thing; bound in soft brown leather with an illustration from the Book of Kells embossed upon the covers. So she seems to already know of my family’s Anglo-Saxon origins. At any rate, it is too bonny a gift to ignore, nor would I wound her by so doing. She believes it will help—and perhaps, a great perhaps, it will. It cannot hurt, I suppose.

So the reticent detective sits here writing upon his drawn-up knees, unaccustomedly bemused, trying to decide what one says in such a journal. I should ask Skye, saving she appears to be already asleep. Her

golden hair is spilled across the pillow beside me, and her eyelashes are quivering, denoting her dreams, without doubt. Would that I could read those quivers as I read her expressions, as I read marks in the soil; but I fear they will ever remain a mystery to me. She is a delightful thing, is my Skye. One would never guess she is nearing the thirty-ninth anniversary of her birth.

Which brings up another consideration: It is one week until her birthday, and I have yet to acquire a suitable gift. I find I am again torn, as once more, the detective and the artist do battle over this relationship.

* * *

Holmes looked up as the grandfather clock chimed in the hall. “Eleven o’clock,” he breathed. “Now I understand how Watson could lose track of time, when he was setting down one of our cases.” He closed the journal and laid it and his fountain pen on the nightstand. He spared one more fully illumined glance at the lovely face lying beside him on the pillow before turning out the lamp.

Then he uncurled his “desk,” stretching his long legs under the covers with a sigh as he slid deeper into the bed. Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective, late of Victorian England, turned toward Dr. Skye Chadwick, hyperspatial physicist of 21st century America, pressed a soft kiss against her sleeping forehead, and drifted off to sleep.

Fiction, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Stephanie Osborn

The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival

This is an excerpt from the first book in my critically acclaimed science fiction mystery series, the Displaced Detective. Book 4 in the series comes out in November, with at least three more planned, quite likely more. The books are available in trade paper and pretty much every ebook format currently known to mankind! Purchase links are on my website, http://www.stephanie-osborn.com

-Stephanie Osborn

~~~

The Arrival

Prologue—Objects, Subjects, and Beginnings

 

A tall, dark figure, clad in formal Victorian eveningwear, strode briskly down the shadowed street, casually swinging his silver-embellished walking stick. No carriages had passed in the last half-hour, and only one hansom cab had wandered by ten minutes before, its horse’s hollow hoofbeats echoing between the buildings. The gas street-lamps were long since lit, but between them were patches of deep darkness, patches entirely too broad for comfort in these circumstances. Beneath the brim of his silk top hat, eagle-sharp grey eyes darted about, studying the shadows, alert and aware. For well this man knew that danger lurked in the gloom this night, danger peculiar to him alone; and he was alone. So very alone.

But not for long. He was headed to a specific destination. To the one man he knew he could trust, the one man who would stand at his side regardless of danger—for had he not done so, many times before? Was not this the reason for the deep, if largely unspoken, bond of friendship between them?

His friend would help. There was no doubt in his mind on that point. Already today two attempts had been made upon his life, and well did this man need help.

 

“Not far now,” the words breathed past thin, pale lips. “Almost ther—”

 

The words died on said lips.

 

A hulking, brutish shadow materialised from the alleyway in front of him.

 

The elegant man in the top hat ducked just in time to avoid the lead-weighted bludgeon that swung through the space his head had occupied fractions of a second before. Instead, the silk hat took the brunt of the blow, flying across the sidewalk and into a puddle in the gutter, its side crushed. Flinging up his cane and grasping each end in his hands, the gentleman dropped into an Oriental horse stance, and prepared to do battle.

 

“’Ere, now,” the other figure said, in a coarse growl. “Hit’s th’ end o’ you, it is. Me superior won’t be ‘arvin’ it, an’ Oi means t’ see ‘e don’t ‘arve ta.”

 

“You can try,” the gentleman replied, calm. “But better men than you have tried, and here I stand.”

 

A guttural, angry sound emerged from the assailant, and the cudgel swung again, this time with enough force to crush bone. Deft, the gentleman caught it with the center of his cane, but to his chagrin the walking-stick, his weapon of choice in many a similar street altercation, chose that moment to give up the ghost. It snapped in two, splintering and cracking. He snarled his own irritation, and flung the pieces aside when he realised there was not enough left to use as a decent weapon.

 

Then he began to flit and weave as the other man smirked and lunged at him, swinging the club repeatedly, as hard as he could. It was a dance of death, and one wrong move by the gentleman would have serious, possibly fatal, consequences.

 

But the man in the evening dress was not without weapons; no, his best weapons were permanently attached to his person. The alert grey eyes watched, looking for some opening; and when he saw his chance, he struck like lightning. A fist shot out at the loutish face, catching the hit man squarely in the mouth just as he realised his danger and started to shout for help. All that came out was a grunt, however, and the assassin fell to the pavement as if pole-axed, with both lips split.

 

The gentleman hissed in pain, grabbing his fist with his other hand for a moment to let the worst of the discomfort pass before examining the damage.

 

“By Jove, he has sharp teeth for such a troglodyte,” he murmured, peeling off the ruined black kid glove to expose the bloody knuckles beneath. “Completely through the leather and into the flesh. I shall have to have this disinfected, for certain. No time for that now. Go, man!” He turned swiftly to resume his journey.

 

A crack resounded from the brownstone close at hand, and the man felt a spray of stone chips strike the side of his face. He flinched, and a sharp curse left his lips. He took to his heels and rounded the corner of the street, then disappeared into shadow.

* * *

Not ten feet away from the gentleman, though invisible to him, an elegant blonde woman in a white lab coat stood between tall, electronic towers. Behind her, concentric rows of computer consoles were manned by two dozen scientists, engineers, and technicians. Surrounding all of them was a huge, domed room carved from solid pink granite.

 

The woman stood for long minutes, silent, watching.

 

Finally one of the technicians broke the electronic silence.

 

“So, Doc, whaddaya think?”

 

“What do you think, Jim? How were the readings?” The woman turned toward him.

 

“I’ve got bang-on, Dr. Chadwick,” Jim noted, glancing down at his own console, brown eyes darting about as he surveyed his readouts. “But I can’t say for everybody else.”

 

“Rock steady at Timelines,” someone else called.

 

“Sequencing looks good…” another said.

 

“Software’s running nominally.”

 

“Hardware’s humming right along…”

 

On it went, from console to console. Finally the woman nodded.

 

“Perfect,” she purred in deep satisfaction. “We’ve got our subject. Page Dr. Hughes and have her come down.”

 

“On it, Doc,” Jim grinned, reaching for the phone.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1—Water Falls Through Wormholes

 

“Are you sure, Skye?” Dr. Caitlin Hughes, the Project Director, a roly-poly redheaded woman, murmured to the attractive woman at her side.

 

“I’m sure, Cait.” Dr. Skye Chadwick, a tall, athletic, well-proportioned blonde in her late thirties, and Project: Tesseract’s chief scientist, tucked an escaped strand of long spun gold behind one ear; the rest remained in the thick French braid that draped down her neck. “We’ve dinked all the way around it for several months now. We’ve got the alternate continuum thoroughly mapped out, and we know what we’re doing. All systems are fully operational and running like the proverbial top. It’s time to go in and observe firsthand. We’ll watch the actual event, then send in an exploration team.” She turned and met her friend’s bright green eyes. “Don’t worry. Washington will be more than satisfied.”

 

“Oh, I’m not worried about that,” the project manager waved away the reassurances. “I just don’t want you or any of the team getting hurt if something goes wrong.”

 

“Nothing will go wrong,” Dr. Chadwick said, almost in a whisper, but with confidence. Dr. Hughes took one look at the blue eyes, glancing between the clipboard full of notes and the information on the monitors, and realized Skye was concentrating on the preparations. Caitlin waited for a few moments, allowing Skye to follow through on the prep work before speaking again.

 

“I can’t believe you actually found an alternate timeline like this one. It’s…well, it’s fascinating. The similarities, and the differences…”

 

“Yeah,” Dr. Chadwick chuckled. “You know, the parallel universe concept has been around a long time, and it looks like we’ve finally managed to prove it. I’ll be glad to get this done and the sanitized paper written and published on the matter. It’ll blow the community wide open, not to mention the whole field of research.”

 

“Watch out how you write it. If you’re not careful, your colleagues will think you’ve gone off the deep end and believe that TV show is real.” Dr. Hughes laughed.

 

“Oh, you mean the time gate thing they film up in Canada?” Dr. Chadwick grinned mischievously. “Whose idea was that, anyway? It’s made for one of the best covers for a classified project I’ve ever seen.”

 

“Nobody you’d know,” Caitlin smirked. “Friend of mine in the Pentagon came up with it. He’s a real smart-ass. Fun guy, but full of it.”

 

“You don’t mean Mike Waters, do you?” Skye snorted, a decidedly amused, if unladylike, sound.

 

“The very one. I didn’t know you knew him.”

 

“Hell, yeah. Met him when I was in Washington two years ago for that conference. I don’t think I told you, but he made a play for me. We even dated once or twice, but it didn’t work out. I never could figure out how he wound up in D.C. instead of L.A., though.”

 

“He said it was more of a challenge.” Dr. Hughes shrugged, then paused. “This is going to be really interesting, Skye. I mean, aside from the proof of concept, you’re going to get to watch one of your heroes. In action, no less.”

 

Dr. Chadwick nodded, the expression on her face depicting decidedly mixed emotions.

 

“Yeah. I can’t believe he’s real. But you know, there was this science fiction author…he theorized that our literature is reality elsewhere, and vice versa. Lemme think…who the hell was it…? Somebody famous…Oh! Robert Heinlein! You know, his ‘World as Myth’ concept. And an Argentine writer named Jorge Luis Borges first introduced the concept, sorta, even before quantum mechanics did. So I guess it makes sense after a fashion.”

 

Dr. Hughes listened, understanding the notion; but she knew Chadwick better than to be easily diverted, and she scrutinized her friend, then pursued the issue. “This is hurting you.”

 

“He’s going to die—for real—and I get to watch it. I mean, in this continuum, there isn’t a happy ending after the Falls. Wouldn’t it hurt you, if he was your hero?” Dr. Chadwick shrugged.

 

“Yeah. Yeah, I guess it would,” Caitlin sighed, sobering. “Why are you doing this particular timeline, then?”

 

“Because the team voted, for one, and for two, it’s the only one we’ve found where the incident isn’t…spied on. The…compatriot, henchman, whatever you want to call him…got rounded up, in this particular scenario. There’s only the two men, and we’ll be the sole witnesses to what really happened. When it’s…over, we’ll send observers in, take a good look, record some data, and pull out. We’ll be the only beings in the multiverse with an actual record of what happened.” Skye shrugged, trying to appear indifferent.

 

“Oh,” Caitlin said, subdued.

 

“Dr. Chadwick, Dr. Hughes, it’s ready,” Jim the technician called from across the large underground room.

 

“That’s our cue,” Dr. Chadwick noted, managing to approximate a cheerful smile, addressing the room at large. “Everyone please stand behind the yellow line until the doors open. No food, drink, flash photography, or video cameras are permitted. Once aboard the ride, please keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle at all times until we come to a full and complete stop. Otherwise, they’re apt to end up in another universe somewhere without ya, and wouldn’t that fry your noggin?”

 

Outright laughter ran around the room, and Dr. Chadwick added, “Checklist out!” She raised the clipboard she had held absently in one hand for the last several minutes while she talked, scanning over it.

 

“Checklist…” the nearest experiment controller parroted.

 

“Checklist out,” the next nearest vouched.

 

“Checklist here…” and so on, around the room.

 

“Go/no-go call,” Dr. Chadwick announced. “Processing?”

 

“Go.”

 

“Software?”

 

“Go.”

 

“Timelines?”

 

“Go.”

 

“Sequencing?”

 

“Go…”

* * *

Ten minutes later, all was in readiness. Caitlin and Skye exchanged silent, eloquent looks. Caitlin “became” Project Manager Dr. Hughes, who nodded authoritatively. Dr. Chadwick accepted the unspoken permission to proceed.

 

“Sequencing, bring us to observation mode,” the chief scientist ordered.

 

“Going to observation mode,” the Sequencing position noted.

 

Dr. Chadwick checked off a block on her clipboard.

 

The room in which they stood was underground, deep beneath Schriever Air Force Base outside Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Chamber, as it was called, was the most secure facility in the United States, even more secure than Cheyenne Mountain, some miles to the west, newer, and far more advanced technologically. The underground facility was composed of a single large central chamber and eight smaller support rooms clustered around the main room, all carved of solid granite. Skye, Caitlin, and their companions occupied the central chamber, while support teams manned the equipment in each of the secondary rooms. Outside the complex, high-speed elevators and a network of corridors terminating in security airlocks covertly connected them to the rest of the base.

 

The center of the huge rock-hewn room stood empty. The controller consoles huddled close around the periphery, but eight large columns, monoliths of titanium steel and circuits, surrounded the empty center. Upon Dr. Chadwick’s order, a hum began, moving sequentially around the room from column to column as the system powered up. A carbon dioxide laser beam shot out, interlacing the monoliths in the classic hypercube design, exchanging data, forging them into one coherent unit. In the volume of space contained within the high-tech Stonehenge, vague, three-dimensional, ghostlike images flitted.

 

“Locus,” Dr. Chadwick called to the appropriately-labeled console, “dial in to Switzerland. Meiringen. The Falls.”

 

The images translated in a dizzying kaleidoscope, then settled on an almost holographic image of a tall, multi-tiered waterfall high in the Swiss Alps.

 

“Timelines, shift to Continuum 114…” Dr. Chadwick checked off a block on her clipboard. No change was seen, save that the hologram flickered momentarily.

 

“Continuum 114,” the Timelines position called. “Date?”

 

“Year 1891 of the Current Era, month five, day four,” Dr. Chadwick answered. Another check.

 

Multicolored flashes darted through the hologram for several minutes, then settled.

 

“Time?” came the request.

 

“13:30 Greenwich Mean Time.”

 

“Copy, 13:30 Greenwich,” Timelines answered.

 

The falling water sped up to a ridiculous rate, then suddenly slowed to a complete stop. After a moment, it resumed a normal flow. Abruptly two men could be seen on a ledge near the top of the falls. One—tall, thin, dark-haired, grey-eyed, handsome in an austere, hawk-like sort of way—sat quietly on a rock only yards from the pinnacle of the path, clad in Victorian-style tweed traveling clothes. A sturdy hiking staff rested against the side of the rock on which he sat, and he calmly scribbled something on a notepad. The other man was older: Balding, stoop-shouldered, almost reptilian in movement and appearance, clad in black, waiting patiently along the downward path, and in a subtle, almost menacing way, blocking it. Before them, the falls leapt down in tiers for over six hundred and fifty feet. To one side, a gleaming, wet rock wall; on the other, a sheer drop.

 

“Track subjects. Initiate recording. Begin silent protocol,” Dr. Chadwick ordered in an absent voice, her eyes fixed on the image in the center of the room. “Sequencing, foc

us, please.”

Suddenly the images in the center of the room became more than images. They solidified.

 

Skye and Caitlin tiptoed forward until they stood right outside the ring of monoliths, looking between two of the columns at the active tableau. Skye tensed, face drawn. Caitlin divided her attention between the events unfolding within the monoliths, and the pale, strained expression on her friend’s face.

* * *

The tweed-clad man studied his handiwork for a moment, then nodded to himself. He stood and removed the pages from the notepad, then placed them on the stone, weighting them down with a handsome silver cigarette case produced from a pocket. He studied the positioning, then adjusted case and papers. A small shift in the location of the hiking stick seemed to suit him at last, convincing him it would now draw attention to the objects resting on the dark grey stone. Then, with a grim, set jaw, he turned to his companion.

 

“Well,” he murmured, “shall we complete this unsavoury little business?”

 

“We shall,” his older, black-clad companion agreed coldly.

 

The pair turned and walked to the very end of the path, wet with spray from the falls. Tweed Suit, pale but calm, turned and faced Black Coat. With a fierce, angry growl, Black Coat launched himself at Tweed Suit, a murderous gleam in his eye. Tweed Suit dropped into a martial arts crouch and closed with his opponent, but despite Tweed Suit’s greater strength and skill, Black Coat’s fury gave him a strength that was equal to his opponent. The pair grappled, teetering on the very rim of the precipice.

~~~

Again, the book is titled, The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival, by Stephanie Osborn. It’s available through Amazon, Barnes-Noble, Blackwells,and other venues in the US and UK. Links may be found on my website:

http://www.stephanie-osborn.com

Stephanie Osborn

Rocket Scientist in the House!

Osborn At Work

Hi there! I’m Stephanie Osborn. I’m a former payload flight controller, a veteran of over twenty years of working in the civilian space program, as well as various military space defense programs. I have worked on numerous Space Shuttle flights and the International Space Station, and count the training of astronauts on my resumé. Of those astronauts I trained, one was good friend Kalpana Chawla, a member of the crew lost in the Columbia disaster.

I hold graduate and undergraduate degrees in four sciences: Astronomy, Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics, and I am what I like to call “fluent” in several more, including Geology and Anatomy. I obtained my various degrees from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. In addition I possess a license of ministry in the Protestant faith; have been a duly sworn, certified police officer, and am a National Weather Service certified storm spotter. My space experience includes Spacelab and ISS operations, variable star astrophysics, Martian aeolian geophysics, radiation physics, and nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons effects. My travels have taken me to the volcanos of the Cascade Range in the Pacific Northwest, where I clambered over any number of such volcanos, including being present for several phreatic eruptions of Mt. St. Helens. My relatively broad knowledge base and experience led the LibertyCon 2011 programmers to invite me to describe what it takes to be a polymath, more commonly labeled a “modern Renaissance man/woman.” I didn’t even know I was one until they asked me…

I am currently retired from space work. I now happily “pass it forward, ” teaching math and science via numerous media including radio, podcasting, and public speaking, as well as working with SIGMA, the science fiction think tank, while writing science fiction mysteries based on my knowledge, experience, and travels.

-Stephanie Osborn

My website: http://www.stephanie-osborn.com

My blog, Comet Tales: http://stephanie-osborn.blogspot.com/