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Storm Cloud Rising
BOOK One of the RAIN TRILOGY
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ISBN-10: 1-55404-498-7
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Science Fiction/Suspense/Thriller
eBook Length: 166 Pages
Published: September 2007



From inside the flap

What happens when you have seen something you weren’t supposed to see? What happens when what you have seen will change the face of the Earth forever? What will the governments of the world do to keep things stable and quiet while everything you ever knew is about to change? Who will be saved? Who will be sacrificed? And to what lengths will they go to secure your silence?

The first book in The Rain Trilogy - Storm Cloud Rising probes those thorny problems and provides some possible answers to the questions. The answers you will not like, but they are answers that have a firm foothold in logic and rational thinking. The world’s governments have done much worse in the past over smaller issues than what are presented in STORM CLOUD RISING. The results have always been tragic travesties against innocent human beings caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Come, take a trip down a one-way street to disaster, death and total destruction. Look deeply into the dark, violently boiling gray of a storm cloud rising as the curtain begins to descend on humanity and ask yourself, “Would I be able to survive?” Well, would you? Give it some serious thought.


Storm Cloud Rising (Excerpt)


FORWORD

Science fiction writers. What an odd breed we are. Our speculations often take us to distant, fanciful places and times. We flippantly play the "What If" game with all sorts of exotic ideas and themes. We tinker with time. We go into galaxies unknown. Science frequently is stretched to the breaking point...sometimes beyond. We take trips to unknown worlds and visit alien species. We even make war with them, make love to them (no matter how unlikely that may be), and we come away...changed for the experience.

But there are changes that happen closer to home. Changes brought about by reasons that some would say are mundane. Profound changes. Changes that will affect all of humanity for all time. Changes permanent in their nature. No aliens need apply. No wars are necessary. No cross breeding required.

The Rain Trilogy deals with such changes and, by its very intent, tries to open the eyes and minds of an unsuspecting audience seemingly content to live out their lives without giving these simple propositions so much as a passing thought. For some reason we find it easier to deal with things like slimy green lizards come to kill us all, or things that crawl into our bodies and take over our minds. We entertain the idea of intelligent insect populations so malevolent that they have nothing more in their brains than to eliminate humans from the universe. They don’t need to have a reason.

Read on...and be changed. Read on...and understand that your world and its place in this system of planets near a small, yellow star is not the safe cocoon you may have thought it to be-you wish it to be.

Prologue

Space; frigid, silent darkness punctuated by a multitude of points of piercing light-light generated by the fury of hydrogen fusing to helium and other, heavier elements. Among all those brilliant pinpricks, more than half huddle inside vast girdles of gas, ice, mineral dust, and metal. In time these materials coalesce through a horrifying, violent and whirling dance into rocky planets, huge balls of gases, and globes of frozen gases, water ice, stone, and nickel-iron crystals. Some of the solid, stony-iron masses are pulverized into chunks that continue the ballet of the bullies, while others, out in the frozen fringe, wait quietly for something to come along that will jostle them enough to send them dashing headlong to join the fray, and the random violence erupts anew.

Some of these events are cyclical. Here, in our quiet little solar system, there appears to be one such cycle that occurs every thirty-two to thirty-five million years as we pass through the galactic plane, a transition we are now making, but other episodes can be triggered by the random, close passing of any massive object; dense clouds of dust and gas, blazars, planets ejected from their home systems with enough speed to wander free until they are trapped or forced to change direction by the cold grip of gravity, stars, or the burned out cinders of dead stars, and the list goes on.

That this cosmic clutter exists within our galaxy, indeed between the galaxies, too, is known with a high degree of surety. That these things make an occasional pass by or through our solar system is also well understood, but when they will come calling or when they have visited us and gone on their way, no one can say, with the notable exception of stellar data collected by the Hipparcos mission. It has to be mentioned also that the Hipparcos data only include information on selected visible stars coming our way or those that have already gone by-not the things that remain unseen, hidden from us. All that can be said is, it has happened in the past with devastating results. It will happen again. The passing of objects we know has occurred in the dimness of years past, but it often requires millions, even billions of years for the evidence of any such visitation to appear. When the signs of a chaos producing incident do make themselves known...it is too late, the chaos arrives full grown and the time of death follows not far behind-the Reaper spurs a silent, black steed into our midst and in his wake comes...THE RAIN...the hard rain.

Although what follows is a speculative fiction, it is rooted firmly in the soil of past, present, and future realities. It is a fiction that could easily become a living nightmare of hell while you are reading this, or it may not manifest itself for millennia. The only thing that can be said with certainty is, it will happen. The storm cloud will rise and the rain will fall. Are you ready? Should it arrive during your lifetime, do you have the information, the knowledge and the will you need to survive the advancing storm of hard, deadly rain that gouges out huge holes in our little planet/spaceship and pulverizes entire regions of Earth? Will you be prepared to face the long, cold Winter that follows, one that lasts for years, perhaps centuries? Will your ancestors, should any of your progeny survive the Winter, be ready for the dangers of acid precipitation, deadly radiation, and the fierce, merciless storms that come with the Spring?

So, curl up in your favorite reading spot and get a preview of things to come. If you pay attention you will soon realize that this, though it is speculative fiction, is really a tale of things to come that are far from an imaginary flight to other worlds and that it can and will happen. Sorry, we have no idea of when. The dates given here in STORM CLOUD RISING are merely there to give the reader a sense for time-line. Perhaps sometime in the next few days the storm cloud will be seen rising. In the meantime, relax, but not too much, and do begin to prepare for THE RAIN.


Chapter 1

10 January 2054: 0130 MST

In the back yard of a large, rambling ranch house just north of highway 60 between Soccoro and Magdalena, New Mexico, Jeremy Stone, shivering in the sub-zero weather, presses his eye against the cup of the ocular, his pulse quickens and breathing becomes difficult. There can be no mistake, but what he is seeing is...is impossible. All his life, well, up until today, he has wanted to find one, but...but this sight is unreal, incredible, unbelievable. He steps back from the eyepiece and closes his eyes for a few minutes, then leans down to take another look. No, there is no mistake. It is no illusion. They are there. Tough to see, yes, but they are there.

I sure hope they’re bright enough for my gear to track, he thinks.

Jeremy taps a series of numbers into the keypad he holds in his gloved hand and the system gives the signal that it has locked on the target and tracking has begun. Out in the computer shed, data recording and automated orbital reduction processing for later transmission to the International Astronomical Union also begins.

"Dad," he shouts at the intercom. "Dad, dad, come on out here...quick. Hurry."

Jeremy’s father, Wendell Stone, pushes at the sliding glass door that opens onto the patio. He pulls his old woolen Navy watch cap, the ancient one his wife keeps tossing out and he retrieves repeatedly from the trash, down to cover his ears, and trots over to the small observatory he and Jeremy built during the summer to house Jeremy’s new two meter telescope and attendant computer systems.

"What? What is it, Jerry?"

"You’re not gonna believe this, dad. Take...take a look," Jeremy says and steps away from the scope to make room for his father who, like Jeremy, is puffed out to almost double his girth in a quilted, down-filled jacket.

"Well, what do you know about that?" his father says. "You found one. And it’s a beauty, too. Have you checked the computer data to make sure it’s not an existing-?"

"No, dad. Let your eyes adjust a little more and take another look-and yes, it’s a new one-they’re all new ones."

"They?" his father says, leaning back from the eyepiece with his eyes closed. "What do you mean, they?"

"Just look again, dad. Tell me how many you can see."

After another minute of resting his eyes in total darkness, Jeremy’s father opens them and returns to the eyepiece. Jeremy watches impatiently as his father concentrates on trying to see with his old man’s eyes what is trapped faintly in the eyepiece. His father gasps and almost staggers back from the scope.

"Well, I’ll be damned," he says under his breath. "I’ll be damned." He looks again and Jeremy figures it’s probably to convince himself he’s not seeing things because of Jeremy’s suggestion in the plural. He pulls away from the eyepiece and looks at Jeremy who is standing, barely visible, in the dim red glow of the service light.

"Well?" Jeremy asks. He is aware his voice is oozing anticipation and excitement but, considering the circumstances, he doesn’t care.

"I...I counted five of them. Is that what you saw?"

"No, Old Eyes. I saw...seven. Let’s go to the computer room where we can enhance them on the screen and suppress Sirius so they’re a lot easier to see. Besides, it’s a heck of a lot warmer in there."

The two of them leave the dome and make their way across the crust of snow and ice that crunches and crackles under their boots to the small building adjacent to the observatory. Once inside and the door is closed against the bitter cold, Jeremy turns on the automated system’s visual monitors.

"There. See? There are seven of them in a group. Oops, sorry...eight of them. They’re so faint they get washed out against the glare of Sirius."

"Another Shoemaker-Levy 9?"

"No, dad. They’re too far out to have been broken up by anything and, according to the track the system’s calculated for them, they’re on a hyperbolic path. It’s their first and last visit to the sun."

"Oh, my...God. Quick, Jerry, connect to the Union and start transmitting your data. Wait ’til your mom hears about this...she’ll flip. You’re going to be famous, my man-if you get in before anyone else does. Go, man...go, go, go."

"It’s already running, dad. See? The receipt signal just came on."

They rush across the yard to the house for a cup of hot chocolate to toast Jeremy’s discovery. In their hurry to celebrate, they don’t notice the red warning light flashing news of a possible collision event.

* * *