Chapter 1 – Borne to be Wild (Partial)

BOOK ONE – THE RED FOX

Chapter 1 – “Borne to Be Wylde”

Now – Entrance to the Holland Tunnel, Jersey City, New Jersey

“What do you mean, ‘it’s closed’?”

The Department of Homeland Security and its various sub-parts had spread to various locations to guard borders and items of interest to potential terrorists. This included tunnels, bridges, skyscrapers, and tourist attractions including a petting zoo in Ohio, a car museum in Illinois, and a house made of mud or something similar in Alabama. The only explanation for the latter Eli Schneider could puzzle out was of course pork barrel spending. All entrances and exits to and from Manhattan were also included. Thirty plus percent unemployment and unprecedented profits on Wall Street were a formula for unrest.

The twenty-something border guard clacked her pen on her report book once at Eli’s question. It wasn’t, as such moves often were, an attempt at intimidation, but rather a sort of stutter. She had to think to remember what the reason was they were given, which parts were for public consumption and which parts were not.

Basically, the old man in the car was giving her a hard time. However, he was doing so in such a way that she couldn’t bring herself to shift into rude mode, even though it was a Monday in New Jersey. He seemed like a very nice old gentleman, and somehow also seemed familiar, though she couldn’t place him.

“Denise, darling…”

Oh, this old fella was a charmer, for sure.

“I really need to get to my office in SoHo. Is there no way I can get there?”

“Corporate helicopters are cleared if they are scheduled and cleared through us.”

“Hm. I hate to fly… Fly or stay in Jersey… Fly. New Jersey. Hm…”

He almost seemed to be dozing off or falling into a hypnotic trance until he asked brightly, “What’s all this fuss about again?”

“A terror threat.”

“OK. And what is that threat?”

“Blowing up the tunnel.”

“Uh-huh. And what would the result of that be?”

She was starting to find she could bring her rudeness to the fore after all. He reminded her of her high school chemistry teacher. She had had a tendency to make blond jokes, and query students—especially Denise!—randomly on the previous evening’s assigned reading. The woman was rumored to have a half dozen or so cats living with her at any time.

“What’s a mole, Denise?”

She stared blankly.

“C’mon, Denise! What’s a mole?”

“A small furry animal that digs in the ground, right?”

The snickering started. Even some of the football players who rarely paid attention (they rarely had to, the school protected their star athletes) were laughing. The one who sat up front, John, looked at her in disbelief.

“I thought this was Chemistry. Isn’t that biology?” Denise added.

The entire class—including “the Catwoman” herself—erupted with laughter. Denise may not have read the chapter assigned nor know how to refer to the amount of a substance, but she saved herself further interrogation that day by being funny in spite of herself. Sometimes a smile or a joke got you out of trouble.

Denise was getting a headache now, though. She was a grownup darn it, and some old smarty-pants in a fancy suit and car was not going to get the better of her now.

“Look…”

“Water. Water would be the result. Water would pour in. The Hudson would fill the tunnel. Fully. Then water would gush out on both sides, washing away you, me, your co-workers, those police and their cars, that van with the two FBI agents in it pretending to be TV repairmen, and most everything else we see. Only that black helicopter overhead will be spared.”

“Sir, I have my orders. There’s a threat. Some industrialist said he was going to blow it up. And that’s all…”

She suddenly started recalling where she had seen the man before. The stranger part of his comments stirred her memory to this morning’s meeting. It was the briefing they got. This was the guy, the madman, who threatened to blow up the Tunnel.

“Get out of the car!”

The order came not from Denise but from another guard that had rushed over after recognizing Eli Schneider’s face on the surveillance camera. The young man was a little older than Denise, though his rough voice made him seem much older. It was a tough sounding voice that could be in movies, war pictures. Hell, he could do Batman cartoon voice overs. That voice gave Clint Eastwood from his Spaghetti western days a run for his money.

You see, in this world there’s two kinds of people, my friend…

He had his pepper sprayer in his left hand, his right was on the butt of his sidearm still in its holster, the snap to which was open.

“He says there’s FBI watching in that van,” Denise giggled in spite of herself. Things had been very boring recently until today.

“Alright,” Schneider got out slowly.

“Hands up!” came the croak.

“I really don’t see the need for any of this. Just need to get to work. This is really messing up—”

“Corporal, search the car!”

She went to the passenger side and started looking in the glove compartment, under the seat, between the seats, the back seat.

“You’re ass is mine, Schneider.”

“Well enough. Just don’t tase me, bro.

“It’s pepper spray dumbaAAAAHHH!!!”

The retort was cut short by a quick jolt of 250 kV AC running up the arm attached to the hand that touched Eli’s jacket. Quick incapacitation activated and deactivated by voice key phrases.

Don’t spazz!

Eli needed it deactivated lest he accidentally touch the electrified part of the coat himself. He still hadn’t worked out how to avoid that problem, apart from wearing gloves that appeared to be just skin and hands. He didn’t like how they felt wearing them, though.

The TV repair van was moving now, attempting to get out of line and closer to Schneider’s car. The police nearby had seen the good sergeant hit the asphalt and were drawing weapons and beads and closing in.

Schneider got back into his car, took a quick glance at Denise’s read end as she tried to open his briefcase in the back and started the engine.

“He said I was free to go. Mistake. Misunderstanding. Case of mistaken identity.”

“Huh?”

She sat back down in the passenger seat warily looking past Eli out the window.

“Look! A squirrel!”

He pointed behind Denise. The lady guard looked at the old man as if he had three heads. That was a very odd thing to say. Now quite certain that this man was not at all what he seemed, she did not bother to look where he pointed.

Never was a very good diversion anyway.

Eli pressed a button under the top of the dash just above the speedometer. The passenger door opened wide and the seat tilted 75 degrees to the right. Denise found herself on the asphalt as well.

He could hear shouts and nearly simultaneous insults questioning his parents’ wedlock, and comparing him to various body parts and other slang. He released the button and the seat flew back in and the door shut.

Three officers pulled the hoarse-voiced, immobile sergeant away from the car. Two others helped Denise to get out of range. Then they opened fire.

The bullets ricocheted off the exterior with such obvious effect that there was an almost immediate call for cease-fire. It was, as is often the case when over-zealousness takes over, half a minute until the order was actually complied with.

The vehicle disappeared quickly into the black hole that lead into a ceramic intestine that opened up to a mouth on the other end and the Big Apple beyond.

“Where’s he going, anyway? Get Manhattan on the radio. We got him trapped in the Tunnel.”

—–

©2011 Christopher C. Knall

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