Oil supplies begin to vanish without a trace and society starts to crumble!

Alex Cave quit the CIA for a less stressful life as a geophysics instructor. At least, that was his plan.

While on vacation sailing the waters of the Puget Sound, Alex sees a brilliant flash of light from an oil tanker and changes course to help. He discovers there was no explosion, no one on board, and the oil has mysteriously vanished without a trace. The bodies of the missing crew are found in the snow on Mount Baker, but there are no footprints leading in or out of the area.

Oil starts to disappear around the world, and the only clue is a dollar-size crystal found in the hold of an empty oil tanker.

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Dead Energy.

Chapter 32

It’s 12:30 A.M. when Christa and Judy emerge from the woods, run inside the cabin, and find Joyce pacing nervously. Judy closes the door behind them, and grins at her. “We did it!”

“I was beginning to think you got caught. How long before the first explosion?”

Christa looks at her watch. “Thirty-eight minutes.”

Joyce takes a deep breath. “All right, take these. They’re the best I can do for a weapon.” She hands each of them a pink tube sock with a baseball-sized rock inside. “Follow me to the jail. Just act like you belong here.”

They step outside and stroll boldly past the rest of the cabins. A few soldiers hurry past them, but don’t stop. When they reach the jail, Christa and Judy stand on either side of the door as Joyce enters.

When Joyce opens the door and steps inside, the elderly guard suddenly jumps out of his chair behind the desk and points a pistol at her. She hesitates a second, then steps up to him. “So, how’s it going, Randy?”

Randy grins and sets the pistol down on the desk. “Oh, hi, Joyce. I’m getting a little twitchy in my old age. What are you doing here?”

“Everyone else has something to do, and I’m bored. I just wanted to stop by to ask the prisoners what’s happening in the real world.” She hears a muffled explosion, but it’s too far away to be their diversion. She suddenly remembers her motorhome and smirks.

“What the hell was that?” Randy asks as if Joyce knows. A moment later, they hear another muffled explosion, then a third. “It’s them!” Randy moans. “They’re attacking the Colonel!”

Joyce tries to look frightened, which isn’t hard. “Oh my God! What should we do?”

Randy looks at the prisoners, who are staring at him. He doesn’t know what’s going on outside the jail, but knows he can’t leave his post. “I’d better call in for orders.”

Christa and Judy hear the explosions, and Christa looks at her watch. “It’s too soon!”

They both flinch as a female soldier runs past them, and Judy grabs Christa’s arm. “We have to get inside!”

Randy picks up the phone to call central control. His finger is pushing the second digit when the door suddenly bursts open and two women rush in.

Joyce is as startled as Randy is, but she throws herself across the desk, covering the pistol with her body.

Randy looks up at the two women. The taller one is moving toward him, and he sees the hostile look in her eyes. He needs the pistol and looks down at Joyce on the desk. He realizes he’s still holding the telephone receiver and raises it over his head, intent on bashing Joyce’s head in.

He sees a pink blur of motion and feels a searing pain in his right hand as it’s smashed aside, the receiver flying out of his grip. He turns his head to see what happened to his hand, and sees the short woman at the end of the desk with a long, pink object extending from her raised right hand. As if in slow motion, he watches the pink object move toward him. He wants to duck out of its way, but feels frozen in place. His eyes cross as the pink weapon smashes into his forehead, then everything goes black.

Christa hears a sickening thud and watches the man topple backward onto the floor. She stares down at Randy’s limp body and suddenly feels sick to her stomach. I’ve killed him. She rushes to the Randy’s side, kneeling as she grabs his wrist. She feels a pulse, and releases the breath she’s holding. Only then does she notice Alex standing on the other side of the bars, and the men and women around him. She jumps up, wanting to hold him, but can’t because the door is locked.

“The keys are in the desk,” Alex tells her.

As Christa steps over the old man’s body to open the drawer, Judy steps up to Alex behind the bars. “We came as soon as we could, and we don’t have much time.”

 

***

 

Pam is sitting on the far side of the parade ground when she hears the muffled explosions. She sees people running around, most looking scared and not knowing what to do. She realizes this might be her only opportunity to rescue her parents, and runs toward the jail.

 

***

 

Everex leaps out of his chair when he hears the first faint explosion. He runs to the door and steps out on the porch, searching for the source. He recognizes the Woolly girl among the other people running across the parade ground, but is distracted by two more explosions. About twenty miles away, he sees a bright orange light reflecting off the clouds. The convoy!  It’s the other army! They must be closer than the spy told me. Blackwood must be fighting them right now! If he fails, they could be here in a matter of minutes! How do I get these people under control? I’ve never had to do this before, he realizes. The bugles! Have to play the bugles and get everyone here. As he turns to enter the cabin, he sees the Woolly girl standing against the wall of the jail. When he realizes what she’s up to, he’s torn between calling central control for the bugles, and stopping the escape of the prisoners.

 

***

 

Christa first unlocks the cell door for the men, then the one for the women. As she turns, she sees Judy wrap her arms around Alex and hug him tightly. She fights to hold back her tears, and walks to the desk where Joyce is sitting, holding the pistol in her lap.

Harold starts to approach Cally, desperately wanting to hold her and ask forgiveness, but she folds her arms and turns away. He feels sick at heart, and stops.

Alex looks over Judy’s shoulder and sees the anguish in Christa’s eyes, just before she turns away. He gently pushes Judy aside and is about to walk over to Christa when the door suddenly burst open and a young girl rushes through, her rifle swinging back and forth at everyone. He sees the frightened look on his friend’s faces, then sees the Woolly woman and her husband smile.

“Pamela!” Cally shouts and rushes to her daughter.

Pam isn’t sure what to make of the situation, wondering why everyone is out of the cells. She recognizes Joyce and her parents, and figures the others are the spy’s. She keeps the rifle pointed at the strangers as her mom tries to hug her. “Are you all right?” she asks, trying to keep an eye on everyone. She sees her father smile, and lowers the rifle. “What’s going on?”

“We’re being rescued,” Cally tells her.

Alex is trying to sort out what’s happening when a deafening gun blast suddenly fills the room. He watches the young girl stagger forward and topple to the floor, the rifle sliding away under the bars of the cell. Everex steps through the doorway, a large caliber pistol leading his way.

Cally rushes to her daughter and kneels down. “Pam!” she screams and throws her body over her daughter as protection.

Harold stares open-mouthed at his precious little girl lying on the floor. He flinches when he hears the bark of Everex’s voice.

“Get away from her, bitch!” Everex yells. “Everyone back in the cell!” He looks at the others and recognizes Joyce. A brutal smile spreads across his face.

Joyce sees the leering smile and can’t control the rage swelling inside her. She swings the pistol up and squeezes the trigger, but nothing happens.

Everex sees the pistol in Joyce’s hand. He instinctively brings his own gun up, fires, and watches Joyce fly backward and hit the wall before collapsing to the floor. He sees the Woolly woman turn to face him, her eyes filled with hate. When she begins to stand up, he aims the pistol at her, grins sadistically, and starts to squeeze the trigger.

Harold feels a savage rage course through his every vein. He turns to Everex, releasing a barbaric animal scream as he rushes him.

Everex hears the scream and turns his head to find the source. He brings the pistol around to fire just as a loud explosion shakes the camp. He flinches, squeezes the trigger, and sees Harold suddenly spin around like a top before tumbling to the floor. Another explosion rocks the camp, and Everex knows it’s close. The camp is being attacked! He decides to shoot all the prisoners before trying to organize a defense.

He catches a movement to his right and sees the Woolly woman holding her fingers out at him like claws, as she rushes forward. He swung the pistol around.

Alex sees Joyce’s pistol lying on the floor and dives for it. As he rolls to his feet and aims it at Everex, an explosion fills the room. He stares at Everex and sees a large bloody hole where his chest had been, and watches him topple forward against the Woolly woman. Both collapse to the floor with a dull thud, and Alex swings the pistol at the doorway as a young boy steps into the room.

“Mom!” Mark screams and drops the pistol as he grabs Everex by the shirt and rolls him off Cally. He sees the blood all over her chest and stomach. “Mom!” he screams in fear.

Harold tries to push himself up from the floor, but his left arm doesn’t want to work. His eyes focus on Cally and the blood covering her chest. “No!” he shrieks and crawls toward her. “Cally!” he moans as he gets up on his knees next to his son.

Cally blinks and gasps in a deep breath. Everex knocked the wind out of her, and when she sees Mark and Harold kneeling above her, she can’t answer. She draws another deep breath. “I’m . . . all right”, she gasps, and sees the relief on the faces of her son and husband. “Pam!” she yells and struggles to sit up.

Mark leaps to his feet and rushes to his sister, lying face down on the floor. He sees a small hole in the outside edge of her back, and rolls her over. The cloth on the right side of her shredded shirt is a bloody mess.

Alex runs over next to Mark and kneels near the girl’s head as he sizes up the damage. He feels her neck, and finds a strong pulse. He rips the shirt away and sees the torn flesh along the outside of her ribcage, and the cracked white bone of an exposed rib. “She’ll be all right!” he tells everyone. “It looks like the bullet glanced off a rib.” He looks into Mark’s eyes. “Run and get a doctor!” Mark jumps up and disappears out the door.

Harold looks into Cally’s eyes, she into his. “I thought you were dead.”

Cally remembers hearing Harold’s savage scream and watching him rush the man with the gun. He was trying to save our lives, she suddenly realizes, and for the first time in her life feels proud of her husband. Tears rush into her eyes and she reaches out and hugs him fiercely. “Oh, I do love you, Harold.”

Alex looks around at the frightened faces of his friends, then down at the dead woman named Joyce. Everything happened so fast they are stunned and motionless, all staring at the bloody people on the floor. “Close the door, Judy”, he orders. “Okay, tell me what’s happening out there.”