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In The Darkness
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The sun had imploded, the earth is in forever darkness and geological turmoil. Magnetism is awry and electronics, along with modern civilization, no longer works. But a group of elite troops have been sent in to rescue survivors, before time runs out.
The sun had imploded, the earth is in forever darkness and geological turmoil. Magnetism is awry and electronics, along with modern civilization, no longer works. But a group of elite troops have been sent in to rescue survivors, before time runs out.

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Has everyone that started the book finished it? What was your favorite part?
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An apocalyptic jaunt reminiscent of Asimov and Orson Scott Card...

I was pleased with this short offering from the McFadden duo. With the feel of a well written screenplay, the storyline works its way through a mixture of journals and 3rd person narrative. This is an exhilarating read, leaving me to hope for future editions to be released. Or perhaps a movie. Based on what I assume would be true scientific events given what was described in the novella, the allegory of man vs. environment was classic as in historical science fiction. In addition, the struggle toward spiritual actualization while in an indeterminate struggle added to the tension leading up to the thrilling climax. I really wish there was another book that takes off from here! – Bryan Bridges
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Thanks to everyone for the nice comments! We are already talking about our next project.
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The Amazon Kindle E-book is only $5, of which $3.47 will be going to charity. This is a great way to give to a great Christian Organization and receive a gift at the same time!

"Compassion International exists as a Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults."
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#29

The pod had no power. It was inverted and pointed the wrong way. Falling helplessly towards a planet now violently collapsing upon itself. Everyone on board had quickly given into hopelessness hanging their heads and some crying. But not Shill. Surrounded by knobs, buttons and levers she was patiently focused on the gauges. Suddenly there was a loud sizzle followed by a deep bang and the pod lurched with the thrust of the rocket. Everyone caught their breath and screamed excitedly as they were thrown to the back of the pod. With the sudden movement their spirits lifted with anticipation but Shill remained focused. Even as she sprang to life making adjustments and striving for control for she knew that this was the hard part. Power without control was not going to help.

This craft was not designed to perform the aerial acrobatics that would have to be precisely executed to prevent them all from becoming one with the blackness. She would have to get it righted and quickly but with ease and finesse so not to over stress weak surfaces and the improvised repairs. Too much and the pod would just tear itself apart. “But on the other hand,” Shill thought “hitting the ground in this bucket, no matter it’s state, is probably going to ruin my day.” She was going to have to take this vessel beyond it’s limits, to the very edge of what it can take but not one step over. She would have to feel every wing, every control surface, and every rivet and know its condition and anticipate when the smallest of these would give up its hold.

Shill fired a control rocket to stabilize the trajectory, then adjusted knobs and pulled levers that trimmed the pod for what she knew she had to do. That was to pull it up and out of the earth’s gravity without pulling the vessel apart. She knew the tolerances were going to be close. She felt the ship begin to strain and could hear it creak. She checked gauges and dials and it was not enough. The floor of the pod in front began to glow with heat. She had to be more extreme she threw open a small door behind her head on the left and disengaged the built in safety governors on the controls. “The pod designers would not approve.” She thought out loud. She pulled back past the tolerances, past the point she had ever bent a vessel before. Every single gauge she could see was in the red except the one that mattered. It just wasn’t enough! She ran down the run sheet in her mind of all her options...no, no, no, no, no, NO! -they all ended with her back on earth. It couldn’t take anymore she knew it. This was it. She made the decision without really ever thinking it: If she was going to die, it would be up here not down there. She took a deep breath, smiled and rewrapped her fingers around the controls. “This may sting.” she whispered to herself and pulled back on the controls all the way.

The pod lurched upward and into a clearness with the brilliance of millions of stars. Shill caught her breath. She checked herself, then the gauges. Then herself again. She should be dead. No pod could have survived that. “No way.” she said. Everyone in the cabin erupted with cheers and she heard one voice above the rest. “Good job Captain, you did it!”

Shill looked at her instruments again and they were all normal. “umm I really don’t think I did.”

The sky grew less dirty brown with every second and the stars became more brilliant. As the rush of the rocket died away and the cabin came to life with dim lights and the quiet hum of electricity, the passengers stared out the windows at a sight they had not seen in a long while and many, until recently, had given up hope of ever seeing again: the pristine heavens.

Stully, still broken from watching Brek perish, began to hum a song from his childhood, one that he had hoped to sing to his children someday, “Twinkle, twinkle, little star. How I wonder what you are.”

The young girl, who also had her wide eyes against the cold window, finished Stully’s song with “Look! there’s the diamond in the sky!”

Everyone squeezed to the right side of the craft and peered out the tiny oval holes. Amid the wonderfully bright sky lit by millions of pinpoints of light, one light shone brighter, more brilliant and with a kind of glow that did indeed twinkle like a diamond. Everyone was amazed and quickly forgot the horror of the world that they had just left. Their faces reflected the light of the diamond in the sky.

Now more confident, Shill announced “Next stop, Elim”.

“What’s Elim? said an unknown voice from the passengers.

Stully spoke up, “It is the refugee ship, the mother-ship, built by HIG with an everlasting energy source. Built to save the lives of all that choose to come.” suddenly remembering Brek, “all that made it, that is.” Stully had very mixed emotions at the moment. He remembered his friend Riq, his wife Noyia, and even the FETA lady that he met and lost at the time of burnout; but most of all he thought of Brek. He knew the wonderful life that they were about to experience but so many were not going to be there. So many who never had the chance, so many that did know and still chose death. Time was just too short. There was not enough time, he thought to himself. His tears were suddenly out shone by the brilliance of Elim as they drew close to the white glowing ship.

It was a huge vessel. The questions of how could there be enough room for everyone was quickly understood as the immense size became evident. It was a vast oval craft and as though mimicking the other stars that filled the expanse around it, Elim seemed to emit light rather than reflect it. It’s brilliance set in the darkness of space actually hurt everyone's eyes and made it hard to look at without squinting. The contrast of the excess energy compared to the black world of their past made the survivors yearn for this world of abundance and made them wonder why the decision to come was so hard.

The docking procedure was quick and before anyone really realized it the door to the pod was slid open and they, the last group of survivors, were stepping into the wonderful light of their new life. Compared to the world that they had been trapped in for so long this new world was a shock to their bodies. The air was clean and refreshing, the hallway was light and bright, and although it was spotlessly clean, it was not sterile. Smiling and welcoming faces were everywhere.

Stully was the last to step from the pod. He looked at the many faces that lined the hall, giving out drinks and food, giving medical attention, and just shaking hands. He looked for a familiar face but he knew that those closest to him were not here, not able to experience the wonder of this place. But even in his feeling of sadness his heart was lifted. He did see many many people, old and young; people from every culture. He thought about the fact that so many people did make it and that made him smile. He would miss his friends and family but they would have loved it here and he knew that they would be happy for him.

As he walked down the hall his eyes meet with others and as they did ever smile grew larger. But one set of eyes brought not only a ever widening smile but also a tear. Those of a man, dried blood stained his face, who was wrapped in a blanket with wrinkled weather-wrought skin and grey faded eyes that were barely visible between tight lids.

They were home.
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#28

Shill wiped condensation off of the large faced glass dials with one hand as the other busily turned knobs and flipped switches in a seemingly random attempt to breath life into the sleeping, frozen craft. Jets of steam whistled out of leaking joints overhead as the last of the remnants pack into the tiny vessel.

“We are going to have to expense with the normal safety briefing this time around. Just find a seat or something to hold onto...and hold on tight.” Shill never broke from her methodical, but swift, checks and start-up procedures. 

The occupants were suddenly thrown about the cabin, the ones standing ending up in others laps as the earth continued to convulse. A young girl who was strapped into one of the seats lost hold of a small book that slid across the cold metal floor. Stully picked it up, and stretching through the crowd placed it back into her hands, which engulfed it like a child being reunited with a favorite stuffed animal. The girl thanked him with a “it’s a journal I found it just outside. It was written by a young girl, just like me. She lost her family, too.”

Stully smiled back to her, "then you better hold on tight to it so that you can return it to her."

Shill reassured the passengers, “That’s ok. No need to worry. We are going to be off the ground faster than a rocket full of monkeys.” Her confidence was shared by few, including herself. The vessel was overloaded, it was not in the best shape, and the repairs she had been working so diligently on were quick and crude. “Everyone in?” she asked as the door slammed closed and she flipped the lever that released the pressure locks to seal it. A turn of a few more valves and things started to whine; a steady hum and random pops and bangs filled the cabin. The craft lurched and began it’s strained climb up the tethered cable.

A muffled and panicked “Wait!” came from Stully who was buried deep on the opposite side of the craft. “Where’s Brek?!”

Shill did not break her focus but continued to intensely work at her dials and switches. Dryly she spoke, “He has a job left to do.” The ground was already slipping below them as the craft increased its upward inching to crawling then to leaps within just a few quickening seconds. 

“What!?” Stully exclaimed.

“The tether-cables have been acting like whips due to the severe shaking of the earth causing the pods to be slammed back to earth. He is going to disconnect it from the ground once we get up to the critical zone. It was the only way.” After a few more moments, with only the unfeeling sounds of the vessel to interrupt the silence, Shill spoke again, “Ok, that was it. We are now free from the earth. The only way is up.”

Stully watched as Brek slowly grew smaller. The earth was crumbling at his feet. Dust was being expelled from the dying planet. He began to cry as he watched Brek slip into the blackness of the soil. The land was in constant motion as it fell upon itself. The camp and those who choose to stay, silently fell away. The remaining trees tumbled and vanished. Distant mountains became deep valleys before his eyes. His world and millions of people who still clung to it were no more. He sobbed uncontrollably, just has he had done for Noyia those long months ago.

One old and dirty man took out an even older and dirtier book from his worn jacket. He opened it up and began to read in a weak and wispy voice; everyone listened in silence as the machine continued to whistle, pop and creak. “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. These men oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all.”


He looked up from the book. Everyone was staring at him but his eyes went straight to Stully’s now dry eyes. “I’m glad you made it, son,” and he slipped the book back into his pocket.

“Thanks for those cheery words mister, but now is the time to think happy thoughts. Everyone! Grab something or someone!” Shill released the lever that disengaged the cable drive and the vessel quickly lost its upward momentum as everyone inside felt the immediate sensation of weightlessness. Shill lit the short fuse sticking out just above her head and shoved a lever forward then braced herself...but nothing happened. She pulled on the lever and shoved it back again with more force, but still just silence. The craft continued its fall. She swiveled around with a wrench in her hand and calm on her face and smacked a silver box on the left side of the cabin, leaving a large dent in the side and a ringing in everyone's ears. Then a loud popping sound and an angry hum and the vessel lurched, fell and then lurched again, but no loud bang.

Out the windows everyone could plainly see that they were not facing the correct way round. Even in the darkness the cold crumbling landscape was evident to not be below their feet but above their heads. The craft continued to fall and twist back towards the crumbling remains of the now dead planet and everyone from the old man to the young little girl, and including Shill knew the gravity of their situation.
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#27

Traveling was difficult; the adrenaline wore off quickly and many of the refugees had already been traveling without sleep for extending periods. Most had been exhausted when they arrived at the pod-station and now that exhaustion had returned. In addition, Shill was unsure about her direction. She had the map but knew in the darkness the station would be easy to miss. There was another rumble from beneath her. She knew there were markers as you got close to help find the station but those were only known by the HIG agents. Shill heard something ahead of her. She removed the handgun from her belt.

“Don’t shoot.” There was a low close voice that came from her left out of the dark. Shill was startled and turned. “Easy. A light still shines.”

Shill recognized the HIG code and quickly responded “in the darkness.”

“I’m Agent Brek," he spoke as their dark forms converged, "and I have a group of refugees with me just ahead. I would appreciate it if you didn’t shoot them.” Shill put her gun back in its holster. “Was that your pod I saw fall?”

“Yes, an earthquake shook the chain and we broke loose to early. It was an interesting ride. I’m Pilot Shill, by the way.”

Brek exhaled with sadness bracing himself. “How many did you save?” as he looked back at the group.

“We didn’t lose any.” Brek was shocked but Shill could not tell in the darkness. “We got lucky and hit the remains of a lake back there.”

Brek thought that it would take way more than luck to land a pod with no power and survive, lake or not. “Well, are there any more pods still running?”

“No. “Shill said. “We were part of the last group.”

Brek despaired in his heart for Stully and the others. “So where are you going then?”

“I am trying to get to station Blue-Six.”

“And then what?”

“Well I thought I would just shimmy up the chain.” There was a smile in her voice. She knew her chances of escaping just multiplied exponentially.

“Good plan. Need a boost?” Brek could sense Shill’s sarcasm and knew there was an actual plan of some type. He turned and started walking back to his group.

“Lets go. That was an agent, he will help us.” Shill said to the group behind her. They were confused at the conversation but thankful for the brief rest and sensed he renewed hope in their pilot.

They quickly met up with Stully and the rest and continued on together at a brisk pace, Brek taking a slight lead and directing. Everyone was bundled up now as best they could. The kiln like environment that everyone had grown accustomed to was quickly being replaced with a cold, bone piercing wind. Tremors from the very center of the planet, continuously moved the surface under their feet, making it impossible to remain upright as they walked. Fallen trees and other debris forced them to do as much climbing as walking. New and ever changing ravines appeared and disappeared with every rumble. But these "natural" dangers were not their only threats at the moment.

“I have hostile followers.” Brek informed her.

“Will they catch us?” Shill asked.

“Not if we can keep this pace. But we will not have much time once we get there.”

“Ok, cowboy, then I guess this is as good a time as any to let you know I've got good news and I've got bad news.” Another rumble and the earth vibrated. Somewhere close was a loud cracking noise. “There should be some spare pods there. Of course they may not be in the best of shape, but hopefully we can find one that will only need minor repairs. It will take me about 5 minutes to install this active core,” she nodded to the case slung over her shoulder, “then hopefully less than 30 mins on repairs and rigging. Your help getting it attached to the chain will be appreciated. Do we have that kind of time?”

“Right now, I’m more concerned about this planet than those guys back there. We can hold them off, if need be, but when the ground goes no one will have a fighting chance.”

"I'll get us off the ground, while there's still ground to get off of. Don't you worry about that."

Brek’s heart was hopeful again. Shill’s confidence was not prideful.

“Ok, So" she stopped walking, turned and looked him in the eye, "that’s the good news."

“Oh?” a cautious tone returned to his voice.

The earth shook again. “There’s the problem. We can't risk going up tethered again. It’s too dangerous. We need to get a few feet up and then sever the chain. I can climb the rest of the way untethered so that earthquakes won’t be able to thrash us about.”

“Ok, how do we do that?” In the lantern light they stared for a moment studying each others face for the first time.

“We can’t. Someone is going to have to do it manually.” Shill said solemnly.

“I understand.” Brek smiled. Shill did not.
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