ABERRANT STORM - Book 1 in the Distant Earth series.
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Chapter 1 available below FREE. See below also for details of further Distant Earth books. Details of other books by Phillip Jackson can also be found by scrolling down.
Storms that had battered the island for the past five days showed no sign of easing. Rain poured down in a furious barrage from dark and remorseless skies, the sound on the roof of our small temporary research centre a fast and rampant drumming.
How long the research centre would hold out had rapidly become the major point of conversation between my four companions and I as violent winds shook the building and surrounding greenery with ferocious intent.
Our supplies were running dangerously low. We’d expected our support team to arrive on the island a few days ago. But, with their failure to appear the only likely assumption was that they’d been unable to reach us in such treacherous weather conditions, weather conditions that in this part of the Pacific were extremely unusual for the time of the year.
The temporary research centre that had been our home for the past three weeks certainly had not been designed to withstand gales of such force. A simple set of pre-fabricated portacabins with perspex windows, joined together and divided into four separate rooms by lightweight partitions. The four-room building covered about 800 sq. feet of land. It had been constructed three months prior to our arrival when the first team had arrived on the island; we were the second.
The first team had not been researchers and had simply been assigned the task of clearing the trees of about 4000 sq feet of land in the middle of the island. This cleared land was then to be used for our present abode plus the future permanent research centre. When complete, the permanent building would be the most up to date and complex meteorological station in the Pacific region, probably the world.
The island was small, about ten miles from east to west, north to south. It was one of nearly thirty thousand others that dotted the vast waters of the Pacific Ocean. This particular island was situated about eight hundred miles from the east coast of Japan in the North Pacific Basin. It was for the most part flat land and covered in its entirety by thick forest. There was no beach to the island and the coastline from start to finish consisted of craggy rocks protruding precariously up from the sea.
The three boat, fifty man construction team that had left the Japanese harbour of Yokohama in early May laden with construction materials, vehicles and equipment had completed their work under much calmer conditions. A small dock had been put in place on the island, quite an achievement in itself bearing in mind the lack of a suitable location for accessibility to the island, and by the end of the first week a foundation track-come-road had been laid. This track ran from the dock, through the heavy foliage and thick forest, to the centre of the island. The erection of the temporary building had taken just a matter of hours. The main structure was still far from complete and was basically nothing more than a set of four roofless walls surrounding an inner skeletal frame.
One of the rooms in the temporary building housed six bunks with shelf space and lockers enough for our private belongings. The kitchen was five feet wide and ten feet in length, it was kitted out with a small fridge-freezer, two wall shelves, a stand-alone cupboard, a microwave oven and a small portable cooker that seemed to be running on the fumes of the now virtually empty gas canisters.
Our actual research room was the largest of the four. There was a desk for each of us in here but equipment was minimal as the research wasn’t to start in earnest until the main centre had been finished and fully equipped. We had arrived before the main centre was completed as a contractual obligation to sponsors that there would be a research team on the island collecting data to be worked on as soon as the main facility was ready. Finally there was the bathroom, the latest in portable hygiene or so we’d been told. In fact the toilet emptied itself into a hole just outside the research centre and water from the shower and sink collected there too. The eventual idea would be that excrement and dirty water from the main research centre would be recycled as compost into the island. Very eco-friendly in the long run but right now it was just a dung hole.
It was a strange and somewhat uncanny situation that we now found ourselves in. Quite ironic that the very thing that was causing so much concern to us was exactly what the project had been set up to research in the first place. The island was in a perfect location to monitor the sudden increase over the past six to eight months of unusual fluctuations in atmospheric pressure over a large area of Asia Pacific. The idea of a six-month project to analyze data soon expanded to becoming a permanent project once sponsors became involved. This eventually led to the prospect of a cutting edge research centre for meteorological purposes with a view to expanding even further from there as to incorporate a global operation.
But now, here we were, stranded. The main research centre some fifty feet away from our temporary abode at this point had yet to be fitted with a roof so the option of relocating there for a sturdier and safer sanctuary was totally out of the question. On top of that, to make matters worse, I was suffering from an ever-increasing sense of claustrophobia from being trapped in such confinement that had somehow, quite without my knowing, crept in to my mind. I only hoped that this nauseous feeling would not manifest any further, or spread to any of the others come to that.
Due to some elements of recent technology being brought to the island for our use the power generators to the centre were still running so that our two laptop computers; which held all the data that we’d collected up to now, were still active. We could at least, if we felt the desire, still get on with some of our work. What with the current situation though, the research that we’d been sent here to carry out was far from the most pressing matter on our agenda. Satellite and net contact had been down for four days, which meant that current and ongoing data research could not be worked on and so too with it our telephone to the mainland and only connection to the outside world. The satellite connection, which supplied us with the very data we were monitoring, had ceased to exist. We were helpless to the elements with no control upon the impending outcome of the situation.
The equipment that we did still have in working order, and the only reason it wasn’t destroyed was because it was in perpetual motion, was a simple 3-cup rotor anemometer, a modern version of a simple and almost arcane tool for measuring wind speed. The three-cup-rotors catching the wind and spinning around at a speed proportional to the wind velocity. This then registered the wind speed, which had been consistently reading winds around gale force 12, almost reaching 85mph. In simple terms this classified as a severe typhoon and if those wind speeds increased much more we’d be looking at a devastating super typhoon. With this also had come monsoon-like rain. It was horrendous, savage.
Thinking about how I’d been feeling the past few days my sense of anxiety wasn’t at all caused by any inexperienced rookie feeling of working in the field for the first time, far from it. Out of the past three years I must have spent nearly two thirds of that time away from home, so much so that if asked to describe the decor to my apartment I was quite sure that I would be totally dumbfounded for an answer. What it was that was different this time I couldn’t quite put my finger on but there was just something niggling in the back of my mind that set me at unease about this whole situation.
In the workroom of the temporary research building, looking out through one of the small windows, my view was minimal. What I could see was distorted by the constantly flowing sheets of rain that poured down the narrow rectangle of perspex, each being overlapped by the next before it had even a half chance to run the whole length of the pane from top to bottom. The forest surrounding the compound shook with vigour and it seemed at times as if the trees themselves were struggling against the odds to stop from being uprooted from the ground and tossed away like mere twigs in an autumn breeze. I wondered how much longer they would endure this agony before deciding enough was enough and willfully surrender themselves to fate, let their roots relax their grip and be swept away by the tide of the storm.
It was just after five in the morning and everyone else was still tightly cocooned in their bunks, restlessly catching as much sleep as they could. I couldn’t. Whether it was anxiety, homesickness or just plain fear I wasn’t sure but whilst the storms continued there was no way that I could relax in to a deep slumber and drift off to the dreamland that I so desperately craved.
There was a semblance of light outside although the grey skies and thick black clouds hardly welcomed the dawn; nor did the birds that up until last week had woken us religiously at 4.30 a.m. every day with their profound and exquisite morning chorus. I wondered where in this torrent they had taken shelter. If and when these waves of low pressure that seemed to be fueling the storms subsided would they return? I hoped that we would soon find the answer to that particular question.
With a complete lack of enthusiasm in my actions I moved away from the window and tried in vain to see if the satellite phone connection had returned. Exactly as I’d expected I was sombrely greeted with silence and returned the receiver to its resting place. Because connections with the satellites were down also it meant that we had no idea in which direction the weather was likely to turn. Would it settle or were we in for more of the same? Would it get worse? There absolutely was no possible way of telling. I’d lost count of the number of times that we’d picked up that phone over the past four days in the narrow hope of hearing at least a crackle, something to let us know that we weren’t alone in this world.
Dejected again, I walked the few feet from the research room to the small kitchen and opened the fridge in search of a bottle of water. Water was one thing; thank goodness that we were sure never to run out of. On the roof of the compound was affixed a small and clever contraption that collected rain water and then purified it through filters until it was clean enough for drinking. With the torrents that were falling at least we wouldn’t die from thirst. Food-wise when we’d landed we’d brought with us one month worth of supplies. The second wave of construction workers to the main research centre had been due to bring our new supplies but of course that hadn’t happened.
I returned to the research workroom, the constant thumping of the wind outside taunting me with every step I took. It was hard to describe the sound but the best that I can say is that it reminded me of how I had imagined the sound of the Giant’s footsteps when as a child my mother had read to me the fairy story 'Jack & the beanstalk'. An odd analogy I know, but there was no other explanation that I could think of to describe it.
Looking again through the window I was greeted with no change. I presumed that my colleagues would soon be up and at least then I’d have some company. Unfortunately though, as always happens in situations such as this, tempers do run on extremely sharp knife-edges and so the thought of conversation wasn’t the most enticing expectation to look forward to right now. One such heated discussion had transpired the last night. A discussion that had, if serving any purpose, at least brought us to a decision. Thinking about it now though it wasn’t such a good decision but more agreed upon through a total feeling of helplessness that had overrun us all at such a tremendous pace.
With food supplies that we all knew would last only for another three days at the most and no sign of back up arriving we had decided that we should make a trip to the small dock and set up a beacon of sorts to basically raise a shout of help to any ships that may be passing. The route being a five-mile trek along a now waterlogged and probably churned mud track. With no vehicle left behind by the construction team for our use it would be a major understatement to say that it’d be a task that in present circumstances would be arduous. But the fact that we’d come up with some course of action seemed to relieve the pressure a little. What we hadn’t decided upon though was who would make this trip.
Suddenly my attention was sharply snapped to the view through the small pane of perspex that shook dangerously as if it would blow out of its frame at any second. It wasn’t the rattling window though that had drawn my eyes. Not for the first time I could have sworn that I saw something rushing through the forest, a shadow-like movement not more than twenty feet or so away from the building. What it was I couldn’t say; my imagination? Maybe, maybe not, but something had definitely caught my eyes, although not in time to focus on the object of my search. If my sightings had only occurred since the start of the storms then I would without a doubt have put it down to flying debris and broken branches launched by the winds. I had expressed my concerns to the others but nobody else had seen or heard anything out of the ordinary. The island wasn’t inhabited by any strange or undiscovered species that we were aware of and we certainly hadn’t been sent here to find one. Had I seen something? I don’t know. It seemed that every time I managed to convince myself that it was merely some trick of the eye or optical illusion then I’d catch another glimpse, a fleeting shadow.
I poured some of the water from the plastic half litre bottle in to the palm of my hand and splashed it across my face. I was tired, dead tired, but there was no way that I could find it in me to sleep. Maybe these things that I was seeing were just simply hallucinations due to my insomnia. I’d hardly slept at all, even before the storms. Damn, how I envied the others as they slept, curled up comfortably in their small bunks; selfish bastards. How could they sleep so soundly when they knew how much I was suffering?
Book Two in the Distant Earth series.
The year is 2032. Following on from book one in the Distant Earth series, Aberrant Storm, a rescue mission is sent out to a remote Pacific island after contact is lost with a team of five meteorological researchers. What they will find on the island when they finally reach it through ferocious storms raging across the ocean they have no idea. A desperate mission to bring back the stranded islanders may well turn out to be a desperate race for their lives as a silent predator watches, waits, and stalks!
Available in paperback and ebook from all regions of Amazon. (Japanese site link below)
A body in a derelict house, experiments into genetics and human cloning, government cover-ups and blue chip corporate deceit. Where's the connection? One man, Bernie Torme.
Bernie Torme's world is shattered when informed by the police that his missing sister, an employee at giant biotech firm Parkby Life Sciences, has been murdered. But if she is dead then why does a friend claim that she has returned alive and well.
It soon becomes apparent that something very strange and horrifying is happening in the labs of Parkby. A ghastly secret that puts the future of the entire human race at risk.
GENOME is a fast paced, tense scientific thriller. An all too plausible and terrifying future that may already be here. A novel that asks the question 'Do you really know who you are?'
Money or morality? The choice is not yours to decide.
A tale of the dark near future!
Available from all regions of Amazon in paperback and ebook. UK Amazon link below.
ADESFORT - Book One in the Tales of Alcantria Series
The first in a new series of fantasy gamebooks by Phillip Jackson.
The Shield Lands is a kingdom in turmoil. Ravaged by years of war with the hobgoblins of the northern Ostar Mountains and the dark warrior clans of Kaduz, they have been pushed to the brink of annihilation. Their only hope is a small band of adventurers given a quest that if successful could turn the tables and restore hope to the flailing Shield Landers.
This gamebookwill take you on an adventure in which YOU make the choices that ultimately decide whether you succeed in your quest or if you fail. As a character in this story you are about to enter a world of fantasy, a world of magic and monsters, castles and fortresses, elves and dwarves, savage creatures and valiant men and women. Welcome to the world of ALCANTRIA.
Available in paperback and ebook from all regions of Amazon.