Today’s 25% excerpt is from the SF/futuristic novella, And This Man Is My Lover?, book 5 in the Other World series from Amber Allure
“Crap! What do we do? Pick one at random?” Jake groused. “Okay, okay, using the temple as a base we’ll set up a grid search pattern. We’ll split into pairs and take a square each and check every building as we get to. Be thorough. He might be hurt and out of it. Remember, these ruins are dangerous and take all necessary precautions. We keep our comm-units on and keep trying to raise him. Anything looks promising, shout, and the others will come running. Clear?”
“It’s possible, sir, there’s something in the stone disrupting the signal,” Delia reported.
Raising an eyebrow, Jake stared hard at her and she dropped her eyes. “I know it was working fine before, but we can’t be certain it’s the same in every structure,” she qualified.
Jake nodded. “Okay, let’s not waste any more time.”
* * *
Knowing he couldn’t reach the steps in time, Bart did the only thing he could think of. He dove for the meager cover of the side wall of the tunnel, hoping against hope any falling stonework would hit the middle of the passageway. Even as he moved, Bart heard an ominous groan and, as he hit the wall hard and slid down, he heard an explosive crack, the sound drawing his eyes upward. In dawning horror, he saw one of the tunnel arches split and fall toward him. He threw his arms up in a futile attempt to protect his head, as he was sure the falling masonry would crush him.
Eventually, the noise ceased and he was almost shocked to find he was still alive. His right wrist was painful, but he didn’t think it was broken. All light had disappeared and he tried to feel around for his flashlight. He knew it had been attached to his belt when he left the cavern room, but it wasn’t there now. As he leaned over to his right, a sharp pain shot through his side and he realized he must have cracked or even broken a rib or two.
Gritting his teeth against the pain, he kept searching; he couldn’t bear the thought of being stuck down here in the dark. He needed to see what his situation really was. Great relief flooded him when his fingers finally touched the bulbous end of the flashlight and he managed to drag it toward him. He had to sit back and gasp for breath, fighting the pain. After a moment, he tried to take a deep breath, but ended up gasping in pain.
God, please don’t say that means a rib has damaged one of my lungs. He concentrated on taking slow, shallow breaths.
When he could move again, Bart gripped his flashlight, gratified it still worked, and played the beam all around. He was shocked by what he saw. He was almost completely surrounded by the remnants of the strange material which had lined the tunnel; it had cracked into huge chunks and fallen over him, one piece supporting another and another. His first impression was of huge house of cards, but a more accurate description would be of a flat-topped igloo, leaving quite a large pocket of space surrounding him. It had saved his life, protecting him.
With a shudder, Bart imagined the tons of stone and earth, which would have crushed him as it came tumbling down, if not for his inadvertent protection. It brought back all too familiar—and painful memories—of the explosion which had trapped him in the remains of Jake’s office in the underground base. God, surely being buried alive once in a lifetime was enough!
* * *
Looking at his watch for the third time in as many minutes, Jake’s desperation intensified. They’d been searching for almost seven hours and were being forced to stop as darkness descended. Jake wanted to carry on, but Carl had convinced him of the dangers inherent in trying to search such hazardous ruins at night. There had been no sign of Bart at all. If Jake didn’t know better, he could almost believe Bart had never been on the planet with them.
“Sergeant Eisley, go back to the ship, contact base and ask if there’s any team within useful distance that might help? Tell Banks exactly what’s happened.”
“Exactly, sir?” Ron interrupted. “Do you wish me to tell the general that Bart… Well, that Captain Hilton disobeyed a direct order?”
Jake flinched at the words; he’d tried to ignore that considering he had pushed Bart with his intractable attitude. They would have a long talk, a hard talk, but it would be between the two of them.
To read the full story, in eBook or Print, go here