Publisher is Write Words, Inc., Cambridge Books
Chapter 1 :
Publisher is Write Words, Inc., Cambridge Books
Chapter 1 :
Three years is not a long time but when you're trying to erase a memory it can seem
forever. Sometimes, while walking across the base, the noise of a machine would startle
Joshua. He would stop as if waiting for something. Other times, someone's laughter would
bother him, anger him, and cause him to remember the violent churning static, the endless
silence. What did happen out there in space? How could the starship disappear so
completely? Joshua remembered sitting in that stark white hospital room three years
earlier listening, waiting throughout the night -- pounding the video monitor with his
fists, but there were no answers, no human voices. Now, more than ever, reports upset
him, especially reports of disappearances. Why, he wondered, did it bother him so much
when people, he did not know, mysteriously disappeared just because they happened to be
in the right place at the wrong time?
His memories of EARTH STAR-I were bad enough, but his reassignment was worse. He was
told his ear problem, a result of a viral infection, made it impossible for him to remain
an astronaut. He could help, he said, training a new crew or being part of a design team
for the next mission. After all, could SICOM afford to throw away a trained
"Use me, damn it," he demanded. "Let me be a part of all of this."
The Space Intelligence Command (SICOM) agreed Joshua Morgan's talents were important
and useful for the success of future efforts. But the budget cuts had trimmed down their
teams, so all he could hope for now was a slot as a floating alternate. He would be used
whenever and wherever SICOM had need of him. Joshua reluctantly agreed. So until a
permanent slot opened up, Joshua was transferred to the Space Intelligence Alien
Investigative Team. His job, as part of Alien Intelligence, was to investigate any
unfinished cases of strange incidents that had occurred, and perhaps were still
occurring. He closed the book on the last of his present cases. There was nothing to it.
The man disappeared because he wanted to. Now Joshua was flying home and back to SICOM
after two months of intensive field work in various parts of the world. He sometimes
wished all of his cases were this easy, but then he would not have a job.
Back in Houston, life was more pleasurable. His office on the fourth floor of the
Administration Building overlooked the entire base. Furnished during the days of
prosperity he had many plush comfortable chairs, lush tropical plants and a large
mahogany desk. Across the hall from his office, behind heavy glass doors, an
environmentally controlled complex protected several highly sophisticated computers. It
would be easy, he thought, to correlate two months' fieldwork.
Having entered the case file information into the computers Joshua returned to his
office and sat back to wait for results. Old t tapes and modern data crystals from other
agents had been stacked on his desk, "Bury them or resolve them!" the note attached to
the top one ordered. How lucky can I get? He thought, smiling wryly.
Staring out the window he absentmindedly watched white puffy clouds expand and
separate. Sighing he leaned over, inserted the first tape and turned on his recorder. He
listened intently to each one of the individuals being interviewed as they related their
experiences. They were intelligent and not easily frightened people but strange events
had changed their lives. They had been witnesses to unbelievable occurrences. The data
crystals weren't anymore definitive he discovered when he inserted them into his
computer. Joshua was skeptical yet, he had to admit, they seemed levelheaded and sincere.
He had not heard any of their stories before but here in his comfortable office each
one sounded similar. How many of them, he wondered, were missing? Was there a rational
explanation? Why had these people vanished?
He spent the entire morning talking to other agents and playing and replaying the voice
recordings and data crystals.
"What the hell is going on? Am I crazy? People don't disappear. Humans are tangible.
Solid entities." He rubbed one hand against the other. "No. It's not possible. It can't
The tapes have been around for years. He knew everyone had a crack at them and they
came up empty-handed. No one really expected him to do anything about them. But the
voices on the recordings haunted him...and those on the data crystals were just as
Information from the computers confirmed his suspicions. There were many similarities.
People who did not know each other, who lived in diverse places, were experiencing
similar phenomena. Witness after witness repeated the description: "...suddenly there was
a brilliant, blinding flash of light!" Some of the stories had been discounted. Missing
people were found, or returned on their own. But certain cases could not be so easily
Were they coincidences, or were the implications far more reaching? Why should these
people suddenly vanish? Joshua sat down at his desk and tabulated a long list of names.
He could not find one common denominator. The missing people came from all walks of life.
The less fortunate were as likely to disappear as executives, and children vanished as
often as adults. There was no pattern.
Joshua ran another correlation check through the computers. This time he fed all the
data he could find into the memory banks, beginning with SICOM's first reports of unusual
events up to and including the information on the data crystals his "buddies" left on his
He did not know what to expect, but learning that many reports were never investigated
astounded him -- like the Deming, New Mexico case. The Air Force was far more interested
in the discovery of extra-terrestrial crash sites with body remains near Roswell, New
Mexico than with bizarre disappearances, which the Air Force considered a 'local'
problem. Youngs Creek, Indiana, among others, was another report that fell through the
cracks. Then there were the missing children cases among others in New England. SICOM
believed the local "Feds" should handle them.
Someone else would have dropped the whole thing, but not Joshua. He could not let go.
If there was a linkage between people disappearing and his starship, he would find it or
die trying. At least that was how he felt about it at the moment.
There had to be a link somewhere. But where? How? Something kept nagging at the back of
his mind. Joshua had a feeling a trip to Washington, DC. might provide some clue. SICOM
did not agree. Joshua argued that every effort had to be made. SICOM said he was wasting
"Maybe," Joshua said. "But if we don't try, we'll never know. Will we?"