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This Shoal of Space:

Zoë Calla & the Dark Starship

(World's First E-Book—Published On the Web in 1996 For Digital Download)

a Dark SF novel originally titled Heartbreaker

by John Argo

Preface   Chapter 1   Intralog  Part I-Chapter 2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32   33   34   35   36   37   38   39   40   41   42   43   44   45   46   47   48   49   50   51   52   53   54   55   56   57   58   59   60   61   62   63   64   65   Part II-Chapter 66   67   68   69   70   71   72   73   74   75   Outlog


Chapter 38.

Crystal eternity: More stars than alphabet soup in a black bowl. Gilbert, in his van with four heavily armed companions in fatigue uniforms, tooled downhill from their hiding place in the Santa Ysidora Mountains. The desert wind grew weaker over the mountain peaks. The air grew still, and the stars twinkled. There was little traffic on the state highway, and one could hear for half a mile a clang of gear teeth as Gilbert downshifted near Harleigh Hale's place. After a brief inspection, the van pulled up alongside Hale's truck.

The house was pitch dark. Gilbert and his companions checked around back. Gilbert knocked on the door, softly at first and then loudly. No answer. No sound, not even wind. They burst into Hale's place, fully expecting a shootout. They advanced with stabbing flashlight beams, M-16's at ready.

There was a flutter, a screech, a scream. A gunshot.

The air was filled with feathers.

"Hold your fire!" Gilbert shouted. "It was only a damn parrot. We want Hale." They found him in the rear on his bed.

Gilbert found no pulse. He slapped Hale's cheeks. No response. He straightened up. "He's dead. Let's get on with it and get the hell out of here." Gilbert wanted what the old man had stolen from Frank and Attila. He hadn't known then, but Dad had recently clued him in . This fat old bastard and his cheating buddy had kept the smaller item. And now the Pilot wanted that. The Pilot wanted every piece of itself.

Gilbert and his companions searched the house. He heard the methodical sounds of books being loaded in pillow cases and crates. Floor boards were torn up. The stove crashed through the window and landed outside. Skulls, nazi flags, cookie tins, everything went out the windows. The stars twinkled like a skyline without structure. There were thumping sounds as books and other contraband were loaded into the van.

"No luck."

Gilbert nodded slowly. He was disappointed, but not unhappy. He was glad to see Hale gone. "Burn it," he ordered.

There was a raw petrochemical tinge in the air. The men backed out, shaking gasoline cans. Hellish sparks shot up into the air. Dry wood exploded in flames. The men tossed their cans and ran toward the van as the air behind them went Whoosshhh...! They were far away into the mountains when they heard the distant wail of the first siren. Looking back, Gilbert smiled. Already the flames were dying down. It looked like a tiny match going out. But fire danced in Gilbert's eyes.


Copyright © 1990-1996-2014 by John Argo, Clocktower Books. All Rights Reserved.