Tag Archives: Adventure

Time Trekkers

Time Trekkers (2)

A sample chapter from my almost finished novel, Time Trekkers, a young adult sci-fi thriller. Please leave your comments or questions below. Enjoy!

Chapter Five

“Looks like someone stole your boat, Mr. Stenerson,” Travis informed him as he took the stairs two at a time to reach the helm. “I just received a call that a lady took it and did not respond to requests to stop.”

Stenerson scanned the horizon. His boat had a fingerprint recognition starter, and only three people were authorized to use it, and only one of them was female.

Stenerson hung up his phone after interviewing the harbour master and announced to Travis, “My daughter might be more of a problem than I thought. Best signal the Voyager and let them know that they can expect a visitor.”

First mate Travis tried to hail the sister hovercraft, but all he got was static. “Sorry, sir, it seems the anomaly might be creating interference. Dr. Foster was supposed to have rigged a static filter, but we are too far away from the Voyager at the moment.”

“Then get us to the rendezvous fast. Our plans may have to be tweaked a little.”

Jen Stenerson felt a flood of relief when she saw the hovercraft up ahead. She raced toward it at breakneck speed, trying to ignore the fact that she was in dangerous waters. The reef was all around and under her; but she did not have time to be cautious. Her priority was getting to Jack and informing him of the danger he was in.

Inside the Voyager, the hiding spot Kelly had chosen grew warm and close; but she dared not venture out yet. She had listened to the engines slow and stop and knew they were at the spot where they would soon go through the time tunnel. If she emerged now, her father would surely cancel the mission. So Kelly fought the urge to burst out of the clammy cupboard and eventually dozed off, lulled by the soft hum of equipment, the warmth of her nest, and the buzz of voices above.

“I’m going below to lock down any loose supplies. I want to make sure that nothing is rolling around down there before we head through. It could get choppy. You had mentioned that the weather might be different on the other side,” Ted said to Jack.

“True, it won’t be long now. As soon as the Roger gets here, we’ll scan for the anomaly,” Jack replied, searching the darkening horizon for any telltale signs that the time rift was about to open. There were no other vessels in sight and the water was calm and peaceful. The drone of a powerboat arrested his thoughts and he turned to look over the side of the hovercraft. A few hundred meters off starboard, Jack saw the boat. It was racing toward him and he thought he could see a woman at the wheel—her long dark hair blowing behind her. It was getting too dark to see clearly, but she looked familiar, and with a sense of dread, he made ready a rope to throw out to the boat.

“What the hell are you doing?” Captain Frank demanded.

“Captain, I think it’s Jennifer in that boat. There might be some emergency. She was supposed to be with Kelly, and I only see one person.”

“Fine, bring her aboard and get to the bottom of this quickly,” he snapped. He shouted down into the hold. “Visitor coming aboard, Ted, but they shouldn’t be here long.” Frank looked sideways at Jack, and then continued shouting orders down to Ted. “Tell Owen to secure the galley and come topside. Get Donovan and Sarah up here too, I want everyone on deck when we pass through the tunnel.”

Jack knew that there was no need for everyone to be on deck. Frank must have wanted back up or an audience for some reason. Jack was on alert.

Jen looked up to see the silhouette of a man on the deck and hoped it was Jack. As she neared the hovercraft, she cut the motor and steered the boat to come alongside the Voyager.

Jen saw Jack’s concerned face leaning over the railing. He lowered a rope down which she tied to the little boat; then she leapt onto the ladder and climbed to meet him.

“Where is Kelly?” Jack demanded right away.

“Jack, I’m not sure. She left the hotel with Ted and I think she may have planned on sneaking on board the Jolly Roger. Kelly can take care of herself. She had this planned all along I think. But that is not why I am here.” Before Jen began her explanation, she glanced over at Captain Frank who had been listening to their conversation.

Frank eyed Jen suspiciously and asked, “Why are you here, then? Does Stenerson know?”

Jen carefully worded her next sentence.

“I have something personal I want to say to Jack before you go through.” Jen forced her face into an innocent expression, and continued. “Just nerves I guess—but there are things that need to be said.” She smiled a weak smile.

Captain Frank held up his hands and backed away. “Just make it quick. I want you headed back to the Roger. It should be here any minute.”

Jen pulled Jack further aft and spoke as quickly and quietly as she could. “Jack, I’m sorry for my part in all of this, but I had no idea how far Stenerson was willing to go to get your invention.”

“What are you…?”

“Shh, don’t talk, let me explain.” Jen was distracted by Sarah and Donovan climbing up from below. They said hello to her and asked why she was there. Jen asked if she could speak to Jack alone. They looked put out, but moved to the rear of the boat.

Jen lowered her voice even more. “Stenerson is my father.” Jen waited a beat to let that information register before telling him the worst part. “He asked me to work for him and get information from you. I figured I could do a little corporate espionage to try and heal the rift between us. My father and I have always had a strained relationship to say the least.” Jack still showed no response, so Jen leaned into him, hopeful he would forgive the woman he loved. “What I didn’t count on was falling in love with the man I was supposed to spy on. Now that Stenerson has your equipment and research, he wants full control of it. I am not supposed to know anything; but I overheard him talking to Captain Frank. They are planning on sending the Voyager through, but have no plans to ever return. You will be stuck in the past and Kelly and I will be left here alone. You have to get off the Voyager now! Find Kelly, get to the police, and above all, stop my father.”

Jack stared into Jen’s desperate face, a mixture of anger and disbelief flickering across his. It took him a few moments to process the new development, and then an image of his daughter jumped to the forefront of his mind.

“I have to talk to Ted. He may know where Kelly is if he was the last one seen with her.”

“Jack. We can’t ask him anything. He is wanted by the police and I called them and gave them the Voyager’s  coordinates. You need to get the hell out of here before they show up to arrest him. He wouldn’t care where Kelly was. You need to leave now! Get to the Roger and confront my father. Tell him I am on board. He wouldn’t let the Voyager go through with his daughter on board—trust me. Now, go!”

“Okay. We’ll talk about this later, but you’re right, I have to find Kelly first.”

Jen stifled a sob. She was so relieved that her plan had worked. She knew she may lose Jack forever, but at least now he would be safe.

Jack clambered over the side and down into the waiting speedboat.

Jen watched him and waved as he looked up with a reassuring nod. She was about to change her mind and join him, when a hand grabbed her arm. She was spun around to face a furious Ted. Frank was standing behind him.

“What the hell is going on?” Ted snapped.

“Let go of me, or my father will hear about this,” Jen said, trying to sound empowered.

Ted smirked and Captain Frank yelled at him to let her go. Then he turned on Jen.

“Tell Jack to get back up here, and I won’t tell your father how you tried to destroy his plans.”

“I don’t care about that—I know everything—I overheard your little conversation earlier,” Jen stammered, hoping that telling Frank the truth might give Jack time to escape. “I called the police, and they were very interested in the name Ted Connelly. I gave them your name too. I don’t doubt that they are on their way as we speak. Let Jack leave safely and you can go free. I will tell them I made a mistake and by then you will be long gone.”

Ted snarled and lashed out, catching Jen hard across her cheek, slamming her into the side of the railing. “Stupid bitch!” he growled. A cry from behind him made him turn. He saw Sarah covering her face with her hands, and Owen and Donovan staring with disbelief from the rear of the deck.

Frank grabbed a fire axe that was part of the emergency kit and lifted it high above his head. He swiftly severed the rope that moored the speedboat.

“Jen?” Jack called from below. “What’s happening?” He began to suspect something was amiss when the rope dropped rapidly on top of him, knocking him down into the boat.

He heard Frank calling out from above, “Get us out of here, Ted; head for the tunnel!”

Jack fumbled with the rope, and tried to reach the ladder, but the hovercraft lifted out of the water, the blast from the air jets knocking him out of the boat entirely.

He floundered in the water, trying to orient himself, only to witness the Voyager heading toward an ever-growing ball of lightning sparks.

The Roger attempted to hail the Voyager again; the crackling lines were clearing as they neared the other vessel.

Roger, calling Voyager. Come in, Voyager,” Travis kept repeating. Stenerson urged him to keep trying and told Captain Smith to get as close as he could to the sister ship.

There was a break in the static, and an unexpected voice came over the radio.

“Coastguard to Jolly Roger, requesting to speak to the captain.”

Stenerson spun around and cursed as he saw the coastguard clipper heading toward them. He ordered Captain Smith to get closer to the Voyager and then cut engines. As the coastguard approached, the darkening sky between the Roger and the Voyager sparked with bolts of energy. The coastguard had been alerted by the local police, the San Francisco police, and the FBI that Ted Connelly and Benjamin Frank were considered an extreme risk and must be presumed to be armed and dangerous. The flashes coming from the vicinity of the boats were deemed a threat, and the coastguard responded.

Stenerson did not react well to being shot at. He flung open the storage locker and withdrew one of the two pulse weapons that Sarah had designed. Stenerson was now thankful that he had foreseen a need for stealth and deadly force.

He aimed the weapon, released the pulse and waited for the quiet that would follow.

The silent blast stunned everyone onboard the coastguard vessel, but not before the gunner got off one final shot.

Fiberglass and shards of glass flew in all directions. Stenerson was flung to the deck, cut and bleeding. His ears were ringing but he could still hear shouts from Captain Smith. He was trying to rouse Travis. He needn’t have bothered. They were the only three on board, not expecting to need any extra crew. So, Stenerson struggled to stand and ordered Smith back to the helm.

“Where is the Voyager? Do you see any other boats in the area?” Stenerson questioned. He was surprised to realize that the only thing he was immediately concerned about was his daughter. As Stenerson and Smith searched the waters and tried different channels in an attempt to hail the second hovercraft, it became obvious that the Voyager had disappeared.

Stenerson ran from one side of the craft to the other scanning for any sign of life. He noticed his speedboat bobbing around in front of them, and yelled at Smith to get closer to it. Then he saw movement in the water. Stenerson grabbed a life preserver and flung it into the sea.

Stenerson reluctantly pulled Jack up and over the side of the craft. He dropped him to the deck, where Jack coughed and sputtered while they both caught their breath.

Jack glared into Stenerson’s eyes. Stenerson knew that Jen must have told him what she knew.

“Jack. Where is Jennifer? Please tell me,” he begged.

“Where is Kelly?” Jack fired back.

“How should I know? You should never have brought her in the first place.”

Jack lunged at Stenerson, who dodged the attack—even injured as he was.

“Jack, fighting me is not going to help Jen or find Kelly. Please, we need to bring the Voyager back.”

Jack was stunned. “They went through?” he asked, incredulous, pulling himself up to search the horizon. All evidence of the electrical surge had gone. The time tunnel had closed.

Jack rushed to the helm, stepping over the limp body of the first mate, and reached his equipment. He pushed Smith to one side as he read the displays. It was clear that the Voyager had gone through, but the instruments that controlled the distance the craft would travel had been allowed to push the vessel further into the tunnel than planned. The device was still flashing numbers, and they were increasing rapidly.

“NO!” Jack yelled. He hit a few buttons and pulled a lever on the manometer. The numbers stopped and then Jack tried to reverse them. If not too late, he could pull the Voyager back through the anomaly, but the craft had traveled much further back than the planned fifty years. Jack did some quick figuring in his head and his eyes bulged in disbelief.

“What is it, Jack?” Stenerson asked as he joined him at the helm.

“They are gone— and it’s too late to retrieve them. Jen!” he said hoarsely.

“We will find a way to get them back. I can find another anomaly with the same signature. If they stay in the vicinity, we can get them.”

“I have a horrible feeling that Kelly is onboard, too. If you say she isn’t here—then I think she must have stowed away on the Voyager.” Jack covered his face in his hands, a feeling of horror flooding his cold, wet body.

“Jack, we can fix this. I told you I had connections, ways of finding anomalies much more efficiently than you. With your equipment, we can rescue them . . . how far back did they go?”

Jack raised his head and turned to face Stenerson. The drained expression told Stenerson all he needed to know. It was hopeless. “Look for yourself,” Jack said, as he backed away from his device.

Stenerson stepped forward and read the year that Jack had typed into the screen—1656.

Tall Ship Tales

imagesIt is difficult to write a novel about 17th century merchant ships when you have never seen a 17th century merchant ship up close. It’s not like you can run down to the local marina and have a gander. That would be nice – I thought often while researching ancient ship building techniques and trying to imagine the layout of decks and rigging.

I am writing a novel set in 1656 in which the main character travels aboard a Dutch merchant vessel. I have found it extremely challenging.

Wandering through the internet for information, I stumbled upon a contest. The grand prize was a VIP pass to see the tall ships visiting Steveston harbour the following week. Coincidence? No, way. I knew I was going to win this, because I had to. I needed to be able to walk on board a vessel that would portray – as closely as possible – the look and feel of a tall ship from 1656.

253974_10150335386379968_1443997_n

Do I really need to say it? Of course, I won! Grand Prize Winner! Four VIP passes to tour the ships and be on board during a gun battle at sea! Yes, I need to use exclamation points!

Now the pressure to finish my book is going to be impressive. Scary. Perhaps even scarier than tossing around on the ocean waiting to see if a cannon backfires. Is that even the correct word? Do cannons backfire? Or, do they simply explode, taking with them half the ship? Important information to know.

What is wrong with me? I am going to be in a gun battle at sea! Exciting as hell. My real worry is how I can talk my sister out of dressing as a pirate for the occasion. Why couldn’t the prize be for one person? I am taking my kids, Amy (13) and Henry 254318_10150335388789968_948512_n(11) and my aforementioned, slightly eccentric sister, Helen (she would kill me if I told you she is almost 40, so I won’t). She even has her pirate name ready…Helen Highwater. And her husband is working on building an animatronic parrot to adorn her shoulder.

At first I thought her enthusiasm and support was cute. Then my daughter began digging through scarves and asking if we happened to have any eye patches lying around. I was thankful that my son kept his sanity and takes after his mother. He kept asking if anyone in past gun battle re-enactments had ever been hit by a cannonball. I reassured him that they fire blanks, but secretly hoped a certain parrot wearer might get taken out by a stray shot.      

The day dawned for the great battle at sea.  Off to Steveston harbour for our Ships to Shore adventure. First, we had to swing by and pick up my very excited sister who had reluctantly agreed not to dress up. I felt the day would be full of spectacle enough. No need to draw attention to ourselves. I had pointed out to Helen that dressing as a pirate may be gauche. We were to board a merchant square-rigger and I was sure the crew would be dressed in period costume but would not look kindly on a ‘Jack Sparrow’ imitation.

Boarding the Lady Washington
Boarding the Lady Washington

We arrived early in the picturesque, historical town of Steveston. The sun shone promisingly on the Ships to Shore event. It took quite a while to walk down to the dock but as we drew nearer, we spied the masts with sails secured. A thrill ran through me and I couldn’t help grinning from ear to ear. The Ships to Shore was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It was with heart aflutter that I boarded the Lady Washington, amazed by the amount of rope that I saw. One imagines a lot of ropes to hoist the sails and such, but it is mind-boggling to see the intricacies of lines and pulleys. Stepping onto the deck was like stepping back in time.

Ships to Shore: Preparing to fire

Most of our time on board the Lady Washington was spent staying the hell out of the way of the hard-working crew, most of who were volunteers. Captain Cook (his real name) was a leather-faced veteran who you could picture swapping tales with other ship’s masters with a tankard of ale in hand. The gunner was the one we had to be very wary of. He ran around the deck of the Lady Washington with black powder in his pockets and a smoldering stick in hand ready to light the cannons when in range of the opposing ship, the Hawaiian Chieftain. A call of “Prepare for gun-fire!” required the passengers to repeat the order and plug their ears.

It was thrilling to see the Chieftain circling us and maneuvering for a better shot at the more vulnerable areas of the Lady. If they succeeded in getting a clear shot at her masts, rudder, or even crew, they would be awarded a certain amount of points. My sister behaved herself, but kept gesturing to a small boy in pirate attire. When she was close enough to me, she hissed, “I told you so!” and glared at me for the rest of the trip. “He’s five!” I tried to reason.

The Hawaiian Chieftain
The Hawaiian Chieftain

The Lady Washington was used in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. It was the Interceptor, the ship stolen by Jack Sparrow.

It also had a small cameo in one of the Star Trek movies. Very exciting to stand on deck, hand on railing, imagining Johnny Depp in the same position, calling to his crew, “Now, bring me that horizon!”

This was an enjoyable family adventure, and one I would highly recommend. Just leave any crazy siblings at home!

253446_10150335386999968_5884664_n
The notorious pirate, Helen Highwater