In these action packed science fiction adventures, the series begins with Dead Energy, when geologist Alex Cave is on vacation sailing the waters of the Puget Sound and sees a brilliant flash of light on an oil tanker. When he hears a Mayday, he changes course to help, only to discover there was no explosion and no one onboard, even though all the lifeboats are still secured to the railings.
The next morning, the crew is found frozen on a mountain hundreds of miles inland. Even more unsettling, the tanker left Valdez, Alaska with a full load of heavy crude, but the oil has mysteriously vanished without a trace. He learns the same thing just happened to another tanker in Houston, Texas, and the oil in storage tanks of refineries along the west coast begins to vanish. Panic grips the nation when the lack of fuel keeps basic necessities from reaching the inner cities.
When he begins the investigation, his only clue is a dollar size crystal found in the hold of the empty tanker, which appears to be alive. The investigation leads him to the remnants of a spaceship at Area 51, and a descendent of the first humans to occupy this planet, 180 million years ago. He has no idea what he is about to discover will change the fate of civilization forever.
Can Alex and his friends find a solution for this dire situation? Find out in this epic adventure, by bestselling and award winning author, James M. Corkill.
Targeted Age Group:: 14 – 65+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
The oil crisis in the 1990’s
How is writing SciFi different from other genres?
In science fiction, anything is possible.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The protagonist is another version of me, and the other characters are based on various actors and some of the rolls they played.
PUGET SOUND, WASHINGTON, USA:
The wind had died to a whisper, and Alex Cave was lashing down the white nylon sails of his chartered thirty-five-foot sailboat. It was the last day of his two-week vacation, sailing through the San Juan Islands of Washington State. He paused and took a deep breath of salt air, knowing he would not smell it again for at least a year. A brilliant flash of light caught his attention. As he looked around, he saw the outline of a large ship, about four miles away.
He stepped down onto the main deck and grabbed his binoculars, focusing them on the ship. An oil tanker, he surmised from its design. Suddenly a panic filled voice crackled from the VHF radio speaker.
“Mayday! Mayday! Something’s happening to the ship!”
He was about to grab the microphone to respond, when he heard the Coast Guard answer the distress call. He listened to the conversation as he scanned the area through the binoculars. The oil tanker he had been looking at was the only ship in the area. He realized the Coast Guard would probably reach the tanker first, but decided to fire up the internal gas engine in the sailboat and head towards the tanker, thinking that maybe he could be of some assistance.
He was surprised to arrive at the tanker before the Coast Guard. He didn’t see anyone on deck, and no one answered when he yelled up from below. He hung the rubber bumpers over the side of the sailboat, and tied off to the rusted metal rungs of a ladder welded to the side of the tanker. With the sailboat secure, he climbed the ladder to the tanker’s main deck.
“Mayday! Mayday! Something’s happening to the ship!” a young, hysterical voice crackled from the radio speaker.
The four men on the bridge of the U.S. Coast Guard ship Adler snapped their heads away from the windows to stare at the speaker mounted on the gray bulkhead.
“Not again, damn it!” Commander McBride grumbled, slamming his coffee cup on the table. “Don’t they know we’ve left the area?” he growled, his face flushing beneath his khaki ball cap. McBride’s gray eyebrows bunched together in thought, his hard brown eyes squinting through the window at the Olympic Mountain range of Washington State, one-hundred-fifty miles away. He was nearing his home base in Port Angeles, after spending two weeks chasing illegal fishing trawlers across the Pacific Ocean. The trawlers had a new tactic. Transmit a false mayday from the opposite direction, forcing him to break off pursuit to render assistance to a fictitious ship, and always just beyond the range of his radar.
“Mayday! Mayday! Can anyone hear me, damn it?”
“What should I do, sir?” the radio operator asked.
McBride leapt from his chair, charging across the rolling deck. My ship’s low on fuel and I don’t have time for this kind of crap, he thought. “Give me that!” he snapped, and the operator jumped out of his chair. McBride grabbed the microphone. “Listen, you moron! I’m not in the mood for any more of your games! Now, get off the emergency frequency!”
“This is an emergency, damn it!”
McBride glanced at the men on the bridge and shook his head skeptically. “This is the U.S. Coast Guard. Who are you and what’s your location?”
“This is the Americrude oil tanker Scorpio, forty-nine degrees, five minutes south, and one-hundred-twenty-three west. Shit! Get us some help out here!”
McBride heard terror in the voice and glanced at the OOD, (Officer of the Deck), who nodded, he had the tanker on radar.
“Thirty miles, sir,” he said.
McBride nodded. “Scorpio, say again your situation?”
“There’s something happening to the oil! I think it’s going to explode!” the voice screamed.
“Can you identify the cause?”
“No! I mean, I don’t know. It’s just…of bright light. It’s …and …out …of …”
“Scorpio, you’re breaking up. Say again!” Static erupted from the speaker, and McBride handed the microphone to the operator. “Try to get him back.”
McBride walked to the radarscope and stared at the screen. He ran a hand through his gray hair and shook his head in frustration.
“She’s the only ship in that sector,” said the OOD.
“Shit! We’d better go see what’s going on. Come left to course 080. All ahead flank speed.”
Thirty-five minutes later, the thrumming of the Adler’s engines dropped to a low rumble. McBride stared through a set of binoculars at the rust streaked black paint on the side of the behemoth oil tanker, about two-hundred yards away. Thin streams of black smoke trailed from her exhaust stack, but all forward movement had ceased. The tanker rode high in the water, he noticed. He scanned her entire length through the binoculars, but there was no sign of an explosion and he could not see anyone on deck or up in the bridge.
McBride grabbed the microphone for the public address system. “Ahoy, the Scorpio. This is the United States Coast Guard. Do you need assistance?” He waited several minutes for someone to appear, but the Scorpio looked deserted.
“Take us alongside,” McBride ordered the OOD. “I don’t know what happened here, but I intend to find out.”
The Scorpio towered above the Adler, as she drifted thirty-feet off the starboard side. Suddenly, a man wearing blue jeans and a white sweatshirt appeared on Scorpio’s deck and stood at the railing.
McBride grabbed a bullhorn, stepped through the hatch, and was buffeted by a cool breeze. He pointed the bullhorn up at the man. “You, on the tanker!” he hollered. “This is the Commander of the USS Adler. What’s going on?”
The man at the railing hollered back, but the rumbling engines of both ships drowned out his voice.
“Damn it,” McBride muttered and pointed the horn at the man again. “You’re in a lot of trouble, mister! Just stay where you are. I’m coming aboard.” McBride spun toward the first class boatswain mate standing nearby. “Well, don’t just stand there! Get the skiff in the water!”
With the Coast Guard cruiser on the opposite side from where he had tied off to the tanker, Alex realized the Commander would assume he was part of the crew, and dropped the boarding ladder over the side. He leaned his forearms across the railing in a nonchalant manner, as he watched the procedure.
McBride came across in a small launch and ascended the ladder with two of his sailors right behind him as he stomped across the deck to the stranger and stopped. When the stranger straightened from the railing and turned to face him, McBride realized he was taller in person, with a tanned, rugged face marked by a few small scars. The man’s wavy black hair accented his dark blue eyes under thick black brows.
“Where the hell do you get off calling in you had an explosion?” McBride snarled. “You’re under arrest, mister!”
Alex folded his arms across his chest and leaned against the railing.
McBride could see the anger surfacing in the man’s eyes. They locked stares and McBride noticed the stranger didn’t blink. Finally, the stranger broke the silence, his voice low and firm. “It’s customary to ask permission to come aboard, Commander,” he said.
The tone of voice hit McBride like a slap in the face and he flushed with anger, his hands clenching into fists at his sides. “Who the hell are you and where do you get off talking to me that way?” he growled, his voice rising in volume to match his temper. “In these waters I’m the law, mister! You got that?”
Alex remained against the rail and shrugged indifferently. “If you say so.” He let the moment hang, refusing to be intimidated. “The name’s Alex Cave and I haven’t broken any laws. I heard the distress call and came to help. There was no explosion, and there’s no one onboard. And just for the record, I claim the salvage rights according to maritime law. You’re on my ship now, Commander.”
McBride spun to one of his sailors. “Have the ship radio to shore and find out everything you can about a Mister Cave.”
McBride flashed Alex a vicious look. “How did you get onboard?”
Alex waved a hand across the deck. “My sailboat is tied off on the other side. I suggest you look around, Commander. I think you’ll find it interesting.”
McBride brought his temper under control and the redness slowly faded from his face. “All right lead the way.”
Alex led McBride and the sailors across the deck, through a hatch, and into the superstructure. They followed him along a passageway and into the crew’s quarters.
McBride looked around. The bunks were made, but personal items were scattered around the room and on the floor as if the crew had left in a hurry. What would cause the entire crew to abandon a perfectly sound ship? He wondered. He looked at Alex. “Did you see anything from your sailboat?”
Alex nodded his head. “There’s more.”
McBride nodded and Alex led them into the dining room, waving a hand to indicate the dishes, silverware, and food left on the table. “Whatever happened, they left in a hurry,” Alex told him.
McBride nodded agreement as the sailor with the portable radio interrupted. “We have the information about the ship, Commander.”
“Turn that thing up and let’s hear it,” McBride ordered.
The sailor spoke into the radio, turned up the volume, and set it on the table. A moment later, the voice of Adler’s radio operator came through the speaker. “The Scorpio. United States registry, homeport, Valdez, Alaska. A 326,000-ton universal class oil tanker. It departed Valdez on March 9, carrying eighty-thousand tons of heavy crude oil. Destination, March Point, Washington State. Seven crewmembers. That’s it, sir.”
McBride looked at Alex. “She looks empty to me.”
Alex nodded. “She’s not only empty, Commander. The holds are as clean as the day she left the shipyard, with only a few inches of salt water in the bottom.”
McBride looked at him skeptically. “That’s impossible!”
“I’ve been down inside the holds.”
McBride thought Alex was mad and studied his expression for some sign he was, but Alex stared back evenly, again, without blinking. McBride shook his head. “It doesn’t make any sense. What made them abandon ship?”
“I don’t think they did. All the life rafts are still in the containers along the railing.”
“You don’t miss much, do you?”
Alex grinned in reply.
“Just who the hell are you?”
The radio operator’s voice crackled through the portable radio speaker to interrupt. “I have the information you wanted about Mr. Cave, Commander.”
“I think you’re about to find out,” Alex said and walked out of the dining room.
“Don’t even think about leaving this ship, mister!” McBride hollered after him, but Alex continued along the passageway without looking back.
“Insubordinate bastard!” McBride grumbled and picked up the radio. “Go ahead.”
“Yes, sir. Mr. Cave was born in San Diego, California, to Mister . . .”
“Forget the details; just give me a run down on who he is and what he does.”
“Yes, sir. He’s a professor at the University of Montana. He teaches geology and geophysics.”
McBride grinned. “Ha! Just a damn teacher talking to me that way,” he said to his men. “I’m going to teach that arrogant bastard to show a little respect to an officer.” He keyed the radio. “What about a criminal record?”
“Nothing on record, sir.”
“Humph. Well, that doesn’t mean anything.”
“Another thing, sir. It says Mister Cave has a top secret government clearance, and is a special advisor to the Director of National Security.”
McBride’s jaw dropped open as he glanced at the faces of his men, who grinned at his apparent embarrassment. “Stand by,” McBride said into the radio in a more subdued tone, and led his men out of the dining room.
Alex was standing at the railing, staring down at his sailboat, and turned when he heard McBride and the sailors approaching. He saw McBride looked slightly embarrassed as he stopped in front of him.
“I apologize for the misunderstanding, Mr. Cave. You should have told me who you work for.”
Alex looked him steadily in the eyes. “That shouldn’t have made any difference, Commander. Maybe you’ll be a little more considerate to the next stranger you encounter.”
McBride felt rebuked and glanced away for a moment, wondering if this would reflect on his record, then looked at Alex. “So what do you intend to do?”
Alex smiled. “I intend to get back on my sailboat and finish my vacation. This ship is in your hands now.” Alex turned and climbed down the ladder.
McBride stared after Alex for a moment, then turned and walked back across the deck with the sailors right behind. “We’d better send a message to headquarters in Port Angeles. Tell them to start searching for an oil spill somewhere off the coast between here and Alaska.”
About the Author:
James M. Corkill is a retired Federal Firefighter from Washington State, USA. He began writing in 1997 and was fortunate to meet a famous horror writer named Hugh B. Cave, who became his mentor.
He served his country in Vietnam, and later became an electronic technician and studied mechanical engineering. While he was an electrician for the Department of Defense, he received thirteen commendations for inventions that were implemented at the Bremerton Naval Shipyard in Washington, including his design for a quad burning apparatus for the Accelerated Weathering Device. He has thirty-six certificates for mechanical and electrical designs used throughout the DOD.
During his thirty-two years as a firefighter, he was an Emergency Medical Technician, an Emergency Vehicle Instructor, Hazmat Technician, Confined Space Rescue Technician, High Altitude Rescue Technician, Structural Firefighter, and Aircraft Firefighter.
He remodeled four fixer-upper homes and built two brand new homes, doing all the electrical, plumbing, carpentry, and finishing work himself. When possible, he does his own vehicle repairs.
His favorite television programs are the Science Channel, the Weather Channel Specials, the History Channel, and Discovery Channel. He subscribes to several science magazines, and he does extensive research for each of his stories to keep them as accurate as possible.
You can contact Mr. Corkill through his website.
Links to Purchase eBooks
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