Worlds Collide Book 1
by Michael Smorenburg
Genre: Fantasy, Romantic Suspense
A secret NASA experiment gone wrong, the chaos that erupts, and one reporter seeking the truth who chases leads where she shouldn’t.
On a flight from Paris to Los Angeles Tegan Mulholland is intrigued & charmed by Pete, the mysterious stranger sitting beside her. But when their plane almost falls from the sky and other jets in her vicinity wink from the radar, the official explanations that follow reek to Tegan’s retired investigative journalist mind of cover up.
What is not declared:
A secret NASA experiment has warped a column of time instead of space, plucking with it the planes out of our era, and a band of Norse warriors from the Vinland colony millennia ago into our epoch.
Rowing eastward and back to Iceland, the contrail of Tegan’s plane appearing after the strange aurora and moving westward high above, the Norsemen conclude are Odin’s order to return to Vinland and unknowingly toward the modern day Canadian coast, where, just days–yet a thousand years before–the skraeling Indians had driven them out.
As news reports flood Tegan’s living room of bloodshed and massacre, speculating about which gang of roughly dressed bearded marauders are responsible for mass-murder around the quiet Canadian coast, Tegan develops a hunch that there is more to the story than it seems. She quits her Hollywood Exec job and embarks on an odyssey that leads inexorably ever closer toward the Norsemen’s hidden lair.
Only Pete, the Lockheed consultant she had steadily fallen in love with during the harrowing flight and since, has any hope of saving her.
If you enjoy intrigue, conspiracy and romantic suspense, Ragnarok will grip your imagination and not let go.
Cripple Cove Forest Loop
She stood a moment looking up and around at this Eden. The air was now rather chilly on skin moistened by the exertion of the climb in the shade of the fading afternoon, and that’s when she felt the first hint of a sore throat…
The first autumn colds were already gripping the northern hemisphere and she hadn’t yet had her flu shots. She couldn’t afford to get sick.
And then she heard it.
Laughter. Distant mens’ laughter tinkling on the air.
She cocked her head, wondering if it was a trick of the stream or adrenaline of the hunt imposing a phantom in her mind.
She caught the sounds again. More than one man. Not raucous laughter, just passing the time; more from camaraderie than an outright laugh.
Adrenaline coursed her veins and her instinct was to run—to turn and run for her life—but she hid because the sound was already too close and curiosity burning a hole in her brain.
She craned her neck to sneak a look down through the thicket beyond the pool, and saw that she had time to quickly adjust her position and remain camouflaged by the foliage while still being able to see through it.
The voices were audible now. Guttural sounds to her ear. Gruff voices speaking confidently and easily. Three men.
Then she saw them, shaggy-haired and dressed like beggars in ill-fitting sacks.
Her mind exploded with terror and she kept her head low, not risking even another glance.
Closer the voices came until she could discern the individuals of the group.
They were at ease, unhurried. Their voices carried the warmth of bonds.
She lay there listening, wondering if the sound of her thundering heart would give her away. They could not see her, and she could not see them over the ridge and twenty feet of space that separated them.
In the agonizing moments, her mind began to play tricks. She convinced herself that a man was climbing the cliff, and she lay frozen and waiting for his face to appear at any moment.
But he never appeared.
Instead, the men sounded like they were washing. Bathing. Periods of silence, whooshes of water. A chuckle. Silence.
And after an eternity of torture, there were sounds of them preparing to leave. Their voices were directed away from her, down the path.
She was too terrified to take a peak to confirm it, but it sounded probable.
Her breathing was coming in staccato tugs of terror.
She was safe now. They had their backs to her, the first man on the move, the second on his heals. The third man picking up his rags.
And then her phone began to ring.
The shock went through her like a lightning bolt, spiking to the tips of every extremity.
She came to her knees, fishing for the device and she saw the men turn as one and stare in shock and horror directly at her.
She fumbled to cut the call and saw in that instant that it was Pete. An instant later she regretted the action; her cover was blown anyway and answering him would have at least given her a prayer.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck…” she was whimpering under her breath as the shouts went out below her.
She went from her knees to a blind rush, a crashing and skidding run back up the valley, slipping-and-falling-and-running-and-stumbling in one protracted tumble of terror.
Her shins running with blood, her forearms and elbows gashed and skinned, she was halfway back up her path.
She’d gotten away!
She was going to make it. She knew it now, and it buoyed her, giving her more clarity on the escape path. She fell less and ran more.
Even men couldn’t catch her, not with that cliff to scale—not unless they were freaks. Abnormal.
The ground was going past under her with uncanny speed, as though she was out of her body, flying, and it made her feel like an Olympic champ in the final straight. Getting away. The slope began to level. The stars of fortune had aligned for her. She’d made it.
And that was when it hit her right between the shoulder blades. She went down in a tangle of limbs, heavily, crashing headlong into a boulder.
A rock half the size of a brick had knocked her wind out and the skull-crunching end to her dash dazed her so that she smelled the acrid delirium of near unconsciousness.
In that dream world of terror and concussion, brutal hands grabbed and yanked her to her feet as if she was weightless, and she looked into the eyes of death. Ice blue ferocity stared back.
At his first glance at her, the man pulled back as if he’d recognized her, then he frowned a menacing scowl.
The man said something that sounded for all the world like a recording going backward, for it only vaguely resembled any language she’d heard before. Her head was swimming and she was sobbing in terror, expecting a clout.
He shook her violently and asked again, her neck whiplashed by the power of it.
She shook her head dumbly. Numbly. Unable to speak even if she had comprehension or words.
He asked a third time, fierce eyes boring into her mind.
The second man caught up, then the third. They surrounded her, all evidently startled at her appearance.
A shout came from downstream, a second shout. One of the men turned and shouted his reply.
“I’m sorry…” she found herself mewing between trembling lips. “So sorry. So, so sorry.”
It was pathetic but she didn’t care.
These robust hairy blocks of muscle had her now as their plaything. That much was clear. And their deserted little valley made her as isolated as any woman has ever felt. No amount of screaming could improve her situation, so she kept quiet, only whimpering and crying quietly to herself at the death sentence for her stupidity.
A fourth man arrived, huffing from the effort. He was older and gnarled.
The man who had her by the shoulder in his iron grip let her go and she thought she might faint now, thought she might prefer fainting to facing this, but her body let her down by staying upright, swaying in delirium.
She’d stuffed the mobile phone into her jeans pocket and hoped it would not ring again. Not now, at least. How much battery was left?
It was an odd thought at this moment, but a practical one.
Whatever the next few hours had in store for her, if the battery would last and they didn’t find it on her, she had a fighting chance to come out of this alive.
This was the first time that she’d ever faced the possibility of considering her life’s imminent termination, and by the look of these mountain men, it seemed distinctly probabile.
Something in this older man’s bearing and the way the others deferred to him told her he was the leader. But instinct warned that he was the most dangerous cutthroat of the lot.
Michael Smorenburg (b. 1964) grew up in Cape Town, South Africa. An entrepreneur with a passion for marketing, in 1995 Michael moved to California where he founded a business consultancy and online media and marketing engine in the burgeoning internet. In 2003 he returned to South Africa where he launched a security company. In 2015 he divested of the business to write full time. Michael’s greatest love is the ocean, keeping up with the latest breakthroughs in science, understanding the cosmos and sharing all he learns.
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