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Authors: Eric Walters

End of Days

BOOK: End of Days
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ALSO BY ERIC WALTERS

Bi-Focal

House Party

Boot Camp

Camp X—Fool’s Gold

Tiger Trap

Sketches

We All Fall Down

Shattered

Laggan Lard Butts

Stuffed

Elixir

Triple Threat

Camp 30

Grind

The True Story of Santa Claus

Juice

Run

Overdrive

I’ve Got an Idea

Underdog

Death by Exposure

Royal Ransom

Off Season

Camp X

Road Trip

Tiger Town

The Bully Boys

Long Shot

Ricky

Tiger in Trouble

Hoop Crazy

Rebound

The Hydrofoil Mystery

Full Court Press

Caged Eagles

The Money Pit Mystery

Three on Three

Visions

Tiger by the Tail

Northern Exposures

War of the Eagles

Stranded

Trapped in Ice

Diamonds in the Rough

Stars

Stand Your Ground

Splat!

The Falls

In a Flash

The Pole

When Elephants Fight

Voyageur

Safe as Houses

Alexandria of Africa

Tiger Trap

Black and White

Wounded

Special Edward

Tell Me Why

Shell Shocked

United We Stand

Wave

Home Team

Branded

Trouble in Paradise

Beverly Hills Maasai

Shaken

Copyright © 2011 Eric Walters

All rights reserved. The use of any part of this publication, reproduced, transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, or stored in a retrieval system without the prior written consent of the publisher—or in the case of photocopying or other reprographic copying, license from the Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency—is an infringement of the copyright law.

Doubleday Canada and colophon are registered trademarks.

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Walters, Eric, 1957-
End of days / Eric Walters.

eISBN: 978-0-385-67007-4

I. Title.

PS
8595.
A
598
E
64 2011      
JC
813′.54       
C
2011-900107-1

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Cover design: Jennifer Lum

Published in Canada by Doubleday Canada,
a division of Random House of Canada Limited

Visit Random House of Canada Limited’s website:
www.randomhouse.ca

v3.1

Contents
PART 1
CHAPTER ONE
T MINUS 28 YEARS

It looked like a giant butterfly fluttering through space, the wings of its solar panels extended to gather in the power from the sun’s rays. Different instruments attached at strange angles gave it an awkward and fragile look. But it was strong—strong enough to survive as it sailed silently across the frigid, bleak, black expanse of open space.

With each second it left Earth farther and farther behind. But attached to the satellite was a small part of its planet of origin, a gold disc showing a diagram of our solar system and an illustration of a man and a woman with their hands open in a gesture of friendship. No one could hope to predict, but maybe, just maybe, this wanderer might someday meet somebody in its travels.

First it travelled toward the giant of the solar system, the planet Jupiter. The journey of 759 million kilometres took nearly three years. Arcing into a perfect elliptical orbit
above the poisonous atmosphere, it began its task. The lifeless satellite bristled with activity as it observed, recorded, analyzed, and transmitted information. Never before had man observed this mysterious planet at such close range.

With this job completed the satellite was ordered out of orbit. Using its booster rockets and the gravity of the planet, it was slingshot farther out toward the more distant planets at the very edge of the solar system.

It was connected to Earth by a continuous trickle of information, like the string on a kite. Travelling at 300,000 kilometres per second, the signals raced back to Earth as the satellite continued on its relentless journey. With each passing hour it moved a further 17,000 kilometres away from Earth, and to places never before visited by man or his instruments.

Six years after leaving Jupiter, having made close passes of five different planets, it passed beyond the outermost orbit of the outermost planet. In breaking this imaginary line, it left behind the solar system of its birth, but it refused to die. It kept travelling, kept recording, kept transmitting.

No one could have believed that despite the passing of eleven years and more than 24 billion kilometres, the satellite still had the will to live. As it rocketed farther and farther it continued to send back its messages: a faint, feeble voice coming from somewhere out there. Like a little lost child in the dark night sky, it called out, “I’m here. I’m still here.”

The scientists who had dreamed and conceived and then watched the life of the satellite would have marvelled at its continued existence. But the country that had sent this satellite skyward, the Soviet Union, no longer existed. It had
been broken into smaller pieces, none of which now had the will or the resources to track the ongoing journey away from our solar system. The satellite called out, “Look at this!” but nobody was there to hear.

Thirty-three years after its launch, twenty-two years after it left our solar system, the satellite cruised toward a small planetary body. With the gentle pull of gravity it settled into a perfect orbit. This new home was a lifeless chunk of rock with a diameter of 500 kilometres, roughly one-sixth the diameter of Earth’s moon. This became the centre of the satellite’s universe as it sailed around and around and around, once every fourteen hours. And like the good machine that it was, it started to observe, record, analyze, and transmit its findings.

Just by chance, somebody
was
listening. The satellite transmitted its messages in its only true language, the language of mathematics. Its faint signals were accidentally heard and translated.

At first nobody thought it could be possible that the traveller still existed. This was cause for great celebration. With each orbit, at fourteen-hour intervals, as it faced toward Earth, it sent back information. But the messages didn’t seem to make sense. Somehow the satellite appeared to be moving
closer
. Somehow the world that it was attached to was moving closer. And the one message that the satellite wasn’t transmitting was the most important—perhaps the most important message in the history of mankind.

“I’m coming back, I’m coming home … and I’m not coming alone.”

PART 2
CHAPTER TWO
T MINUS 24 YEARS
PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY

The car turned onto a tree-lined street. The houses, almost identical, were neat and orderly and set well back from the road. This place had the feel of a rich university town.

It was the middle of the night and there were no signs of activity. The street lamps cast isolated pools of light onto the road, but the houses were dark, the residents quietly asleep in their beds. The car slowed to a crawl. The window on the passenger side glided down to allow the passenger with infrared goggles to see more clearly, to pick out the addresses of the houses.

“64 … 72 … there it is, 82.”

The vehicle pulled over to the curb and stopped. All four doors of the luxury automobile opened and four men emerged, closing the doors behind them with hardly a sound. All four men were clean-shaven with short hair, dressed in almost identical suits and wearing leather shoes
that made no sound as they walked up the front path of the house.

Without exchanging a word, two of the men walked to the front door while the other two split off, one on either side of the house, disappearing into the darkness. One man jiggled the door handle, then fished into his suit jacket pocket and pulled out a small metal device. He knelt down while his partner drew out a small penlight and shone it on the lock. Within seconds there was a click and the door swung open. They entered and closed the door behind them, still without making a sound.

Silently they moved across the room, following the thin beam from the flashlight. From another room came a second beam of light and the other two men appeared, having picked the lock on the back door. Two stood at the base of the staircase while two checked the rooms on the main floor. The telephone line had been cut from the outside and the entire house had been electronically rendered a dead zone for cell-phones. The men moved as though they knew the house, because they
did
know the house. They’d seen blueprints, and they had walked through a simulation more than a dozen times, until they could find their way blindfolded.

They started up the stairs. There was a creak on the third step that registered four times as the four men climbed. Each moved noiselessly in a different direction, checking out the rooms on the second floor. One man, the one who had been leading to this point, motioned the other three to the bedroom he had just left. In the bed was a solitary figure sleeping peacefully, a low, whistling sound coming from his
mouth. Three of the men entered the room. The fourth positioned himself at the door. From inside his jacket he produced a gun. He held it firmly in both hands and took aim at the sleeping form.

The leader took the bedcovers and slowly peeled them away. He then gave a signal and the men sprang into action. The sleeping figure was grabbed by the arms and his legs pinned as the overhead light was flicked on. A look of shock, panic, and then fear flashed across his face as his brain tried to make sense of the situation.

“Who are you? What do you want?” he screeched.

A gloved hand was placed over his mouth and he felt the pressure on his limbs increase. He was completely powerless.

“We want you to be quiet,” answered the leader in a flat, emotionless voice as he removed the gloved hand.

“I don’t have much money, but whatever I have you can take,” the man pleaded quietly.

“We don’t want your money—we want you.”

BOOK: End of Days
11.8Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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