(extract from The HEAVINESS)
|'Desperate kidnappers, crazy experiments, the evil Reverend Schneider, a genuine love story, what's not to like about 'The Heaviness.'' Sara Troy - Self Discovery Media
'An exciting, affectionate, slightly off-the-wall way to end the series. Definitely recommended. Someone make a movie of this!'
Five Stars - Goodreads.com
Genie looked at the kitchen clock and sighed. Ten to four. The time of the great experiment had arrived. She really didn’t think that Marshall was going to get Chris’ theories to work. He’d been trying for months now with no success, but it at least it made him happy and that, she had discovered, was important. Happiness was a new experience for her; it seemed to vanish like mist when you least expected it.
She’d prepared a salad to go with the salmon he’d bought. Converting Marshall to eating green things instead of frozen pizza had been hard work, but she noticed that he ate all she prepared, despite his protestations about her courgettes and spinach recipes. ‘Mouch?’
The dog raced in from outside skidding to a stop on the tile floor.
‘What did you do? I know that look. Leave the chicken alone; he’s not your friend. She won’t lay again if you bug her.’
Moucher looked guilty. Had no idea how she knew that’s what he’d been doing. He cocked his head to one side to try and look sweet and cute.
‘Don’t pretend you’re innocent with me. Come on, let’s go witness history, see what your crazy old master can do.’
She followed Mouch out of the house into the warm sunshine. She saw Rian’s boots on the stoop and had a surge of hope he was back, then remembered just as quickly that he’d still be at the interview. She so wished she could speak to him right now – find out how it was going. He’d been so nervous they wouldn’t accept him.
Marshall looked up from where he was leaning against his truck outside the barn – trying to link up two thick well insulated electric cables. She noticed he hadn’t shaved in a couple of days. He too was anxious, pushing himself to get this experiment right and worried about money.
‘Just in time, Missy Magee. The is the big event. Roll up. Got your tickets? It’s going to be a blast.’
‘If I knew you were selling tickets I would have scared up a crowd,’ she replied with a smile. Marshall was ever the optimist. ‘If it works, I reckon we celebrate at Rockies,’ Genie stated.
Marshall grinned. Rockies was the new restaurant overlooking the Fraser River that had just opened about ten k’s away and was proving popular, contrary to his expectations. ‘Whose buying?’
Genie made a face. ‘You can have anything you want up to eight bucks – fifty. All I got.’
Marshall shrugged. ‘Well I guess I must owe you some back wages for all the cooking and farming and general dogsbodying you’ve been doing.’
Genie nodded. ‘Yep, I reckon you do. Now, where do Mouch and me sit that’s safe? I don’t want to find a piece of me is missing after this.’
Marshall frowned. She was right. That’s what had happened to him when he’d gotten too close to a teleport experiment and he’d lost his leg. No way he was ever going to let that happen again.
Genie followed him into the barn and stopped short. He’d been working hard in here. It was transformed into a laboratory. All kinds of electrical equipment was stacked high both sides, his new computer shielded in a special cage and cables coiled everywhere. He hadn’t been kidding that he was going to be using a lot of juice.
‘Wow. You’re really taking this seriously, Marshall.’
‘You either take it seriously or you don’t bother, Genie. Everyone says that the day of inventors tinkering around in their garages is over, but I don’t believe it one bit. There’s a lot of ideas and exciting stuff that just needs taking one step further, you’d be surprised at people’s ingenuity.’
Genie could see everything was positioned in a circle around a hay bale. She looked up. If it worked it would hit the new roof without damaging it. Good idea.
‘What we’re doing here is testing out two new electrical fields that oppose each other and hoping to create a negative space in the centre.’
Genie glanced over at him with a trace of a smile. ‘Which in plain speak means?’
‘The hay bale should rise.’
‘To the roof?’
‘Hell, Genie, I’d be happy with just a millimetre.’
Genie raised her eyebrows. Not impressed. A millimetre would be pretty hard to see. She called Moucher away from the cables and he wandered out of the barn. Experiments with hay didn’t excite him at all.
‘Stand behind the line, Genie. Keep well back.’
She crossed the floor and went deeper into the barn as Marshall switched on all kinds of things. Instantly it introduced a powerful electrical hum that situated itself deep into Genie’s head. She felt uneasy. This reminded her of the time she was back in the Fortress and they’d teleported her to infinity. Sheer chance she had somehow survived and rematerialised with the others right here on this farm. Never, ever wanted to do that again.
‘Counting down. Watch the bale.’
Genie was watching Marshall. He was excited, looked like a little boy again with his toys. The electrical hum grew louder and began to make both of them wince.
‘What’s that on top of the bale?’ Genie called out, putting her hands over her ears.
‘Measuring device. Will record even the slightest movement.’
‘Three, two, one…’
Nothing. The hay bale didn’t move one jot.
Marshall was looking downcast. Genie felt sorry for him, but then she heard Moucher yelp in distress, barking frantically outside.
‘Marshall? We got visitors?’
The humming abruptly stopped and there was a flash as something shorted and there was a stink of rubber and electrical wire melting.
‘Can I cross? Mouch sounds frightened out there.’
Marshall nodded, feeling intensely disappointed. He’d really thought he’d cracked it this time.
Genie ran, jumped over the hay bale and exited the barn.
Moucher was nowhere to be seen, but she could hear him barking. He sounded really scared.
‘Mouch? Where the hell are you? I can’t see you.’
His barking she realised was coming from above her. Genie looked up and did a double take. Moucher was in the branches of the tree overhanging the roof. It was still charred from the fire that destroyed the barn, but amazingly in leaf.
‘What the …? Mouch? How did you get up there?’
Moucher wasn’t happy she noticed. Dogs don’t do well in trees and he was struggling to find anywhere to put his feet. Scared to death of falling.
Genie noticed something else and goosebumps spread all up her arms.
‘Marshall. You’d better get out here. Someone has stolen your truck.’
Marshall appeared moments later looking confused. ‘What do you mean?’
He looked at the space where his truck had been and a cable that had been wrenched out of the wall socket lying on the ground. He noticed something else too. All the gravel was missing that the truck had been standing on.
‘Everything’s switched off, right?’ Genie was asking, beginning to realise that something crazy had just happened.
Marshall was looking at Moucher stuck in the tree, blinking with confusion.
‘Correct me if I’m wrong here, but I think your experiment worked a lot better than you thought.’
Marshall was shaking his head. ‘This isn’t possible. The negative field was supposed to be inside the barn.
Genie was looking at the tree more carefully. ‘Y’know what I think? Look at the broken branches, they’ve been snapped off absolutely perfectly. It’s like someone swiped it with a giant hedge trimmer.’
Marshall was looking for the branches on the ground. None had fallen.
‘You thinking what I’m thinking?’ He said, looking at Genie in amazement.
‘Well, Moucher didn’t climb up there on his own and your truck is definitely missing.’
Moucher almost slipped and began to whine piteously. He was most certainly going to fall any moment.
‘I’m going to get the bean bags. Don’t let Mouch fall.’ Genie shouted, heading for the house.
Marshall was rooted to the spot. His experiment had worked, but in the wrong place. That could only mean his truck was … ‘Holy Molly, Moucher.’
He raced back inside the barn to check his computer screen. It showed exactly where the negative field had occurred. Eight point two metres from the hay bale.
He couldn’t understand it. Some kind of displacement had taken place. He spotted the pile of horse blankets he’d kept for sentimental reasons and picked up a heap of them and carried them outside, placing them under where Mouch was precariously bouncing up and down on a branch, buffeted by the afternoon breeze.
‘Try to stay up there until she gets back with the bean bags, Mouch.’
Moucher was looking at him and whining with his paws wrapped around a branch, not that he could exactly hold his weight with his arms if he began to fall.
Genie returned, flushed from running so fast, carrying heavy bean bag cushions.
She flung them down on top of the horse blankets.
‘He’s so going to break something when he falls,’ she said, staring up at Mouch. He was slipping further and further down the tree with each gust of wind.
‘OK. Jump, Mouch. Jump.’
Moucher looked at Genie like she was insane. He wanted rescuing, a ladder.
‘Jump, baby. Jump.’
Moucher barked ‘No way’, not that anyone understood him, then a gust of wind swept through the tree again and his bottom slipped. He couldn’t hold on any longer and began to fall, trying to twist like a cat to right himself, but failing and fell like a stone on his back onto the bean bags.
He yelped really loud from the pain as he landed. But a second later, righted himself, shook hard and was scooped up into Genie’s arms as she cuddled him and reassured him that she loved him.
‘Poor baby. Poor Mouch. Flying dog you are not.’
‘I think we need to get into the barn now!’ Marshall suddenly declared, unable to disguise the unease he felt.
‘’Cause that truck has got to come down sometime and when it does, it’s going to make one big damn hole, Genie.’
She looked at him confused.
‘What if it doesn’t come down?’
‘It has to. Law of gravity remember.’
‘You just broke the law of gravity. How do you know it’s not on the moon or something.’
Marshall laughed nervously. ‘It can’t get to the moon. The higher it gets the less gravity there is and so it would slow down.’
Genie grinned. ‘So we’ve launched a Chevy truck into space? That’s so cool, Marshall. You so have to call the TV news or something. Maybe if there’s any astronauts up there in the International Space Station, they can borrow it.’
Marshall began making calculations in his head. ‘Can’t be, Genie. You need to be going at 11.2 kilometers per second to escape earth’s gravity and those are calculations for a rocket. A truck ain’t exactly aerodynamic, so it would require more escape velocity.’
‘But, it’s gone and it’s taken half the tree with it and it must have gone real fast.’
‘Instantaneously. Which means…’
‘That truck is like squished into one block of metal by now.’
Marshall looked at her impressed. ‘Exactly. We’re just lucky Mouch hadn’t climbed in. But it has to reach 9000 kilometres to reach what we call ‘space’.
‘You think it’s really up there? I hope you got a parking permit, Marshall.’
Marshall was dizzy with the whole idea of his truck being up in space. He was laughing. OK it was hysterical laughter, but he’d just proved the impossible.
‘But what if it ain’t in space?’ Genie asked.
Marshall tried to stop smiling and think. ‘Then it’s falling. Got to factor in the direction of the wind and of course, consider that the earth is rotating all the time.’
‘Of course,’ Genie said, mocking him.
‘I don’t think it was on long enough to get it into orbit, Genie. The thing is, I don’t know if that even matters at that point. Once you release something from earth’s gravity, it …’
‘Means that a hoverboard is a long ways off, unless you want to surf space.’
Marshall took a deep breath. ‘I haven’t ruled out the hoverboard. There would have to be a way to control this, turn it off and on a million times a second so you get it to be essentially weightless but manageable.’
Genie ears picked up a high–pitched scream. ‘We need to get inside. Listen…’
Marshall was listening. He suddenly paled and grabbed Genie and dragged her into the barn. Moucher struggling to be put down on the ground.
He didn’t have to explain. Something was coming down from space really fast and screaming ever louder as it did so. If it landed on the barn they were dead meat.
© Sam Hawksmoor 2020
Download or buy the print version of THE HEAVINESS here
The Test - another extract from The Heaviness
Whatever you do - don't get on the bus...!
You can also download Girl with Cat (Blue) or order the print version here
*Shortlisted for the Rubery Book Award & 'Honorary Mention' in the 26th Writer's Digest Book Awards