Authors: P.G. Thomas
Tranquil Fury, Book One
The Anti-Matter Chronicles
By P. G. Thomas
Written and Published by P.G. Thomas
Copyright 2014 P.G. Thomas
Dedicated to my Mother,
For all of her support and encouragement over the years.
Edited by Adam Steel, e-mail:
Cover Art by Paul Santana, e-mail:
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination. Any reference to historical persons, fictional characters (print, movies, or television), actual products, musical groups, song titles, or anything similar are used fictitiously, to add an element of realism to this story. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental
I would like to extend a special thanks to my beta readers: Nancy Giberson, Chuck Lawrence, Shelley Myron, Dev Birbalsingh, David Shaw, Susan Karley, Alex Dimoski, and Peet. All helped me to make this a better story.
This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only, and may not be re-sold or given away.
Although it had been six hours since the accident, the restaurant was extremely crowded, and with the highway still closed, this was the only place to get a good look. So like moths to a flame, curious people continued to arrive.
The television inside the restaurant was broadcasting the National News Network and every fifteen minutes they would return to the story unfolding outside, and when that happened, everybody would go quiet and turn to the screen with a piqued interest. The anchor would check in with the live crew for any updates, but when none materialized, he would read from the teleprompter;
At approximately eight-thirty this morning on Route 89, an explosion occurred. The facts at this time remain unknown, but we can report that every branch of the government is currently on-site, including the CIA, FBI, and Homeland Security. Our graphics department has created an animation of what we know so far. Here is an old aerial photograph of Route 89, and you can see its curve as it goes around the base of the mountain, under the 400-foot long avalanche tunnel. When we digitize a current image on top of the old photo, we find that the entrance and exit are identical, but the tunnel is now 120 feet shorter. The midsection, where the explosion occurred, where the damage should be, has disappeared. This animation will demonstrate: if we erase the missing section, and push the two sides back together, we end up with a perfect representation of what we are currently seeing.
The image changed to the live view
. It’s as though somebody has removed a wedge out of an orange, and pushed the two adjacent sides back together. The investigation continues…
It would be another two hours before any news agency would mention the school bus inside the tunnel, or the six missing students.
The school bus worked its way along the winding one-way road, in the tiny mountain valley, arriving at its first stop at 8:00am. Standing at four feet ten and weighing only one hundred and twenty pounds, you would think that John was in the seventh grade, still in junior high school. However, this was not your average student, as John had not only skipped four grades, but also attended university classes one day a week. In fact, he could have already completed public school, but his parents wanted him to have a more normal life. His father had graduated from university at seventeen, but the intense collision of education and social exclusion, resulted in years of personal awkwardness.
Yet his father’s nemesis still became close acquaintances with John. While all of the other eleventh grade students were seventeen, five feet eight, and around one-hundred and seventy pounds, John was fifty pounds lighter, and twelve inches shorter. His small size was not the problem. It was his heightened intelligence. Being the smartest student in the class created an illusionary target that followed him everywhere. John did not have to study, as he remembered every word he ever read, and while he never raised his hand to answer questions, when his teachers became tired of hearing the other students’ incorrect guesses, they would always call upon him. A few teachers would even ask John to correct mistakes that other students made. He was an outcast, until somebody needed help with their homework or tutoring, as only then would they call him John. Nobody physically bullied John—well, not since they had moved to this new community three years ago—but still, he never managed to fit in. His swift progression through the lower grades amplified his social problems, as any friends he made one year, the next year were forgotten when he was promoted past the following grade. And then the painful process of making new friends began again. It was like moving to a new school every year, but all of the other students knew who you were, and dreaded you bringing down their grade averages.
John had learned to protect himself by executing a number of survival instincts. One such tendency applied daily, was to sit behind the bus driver, a habit developed on the city buses. There were many more, but this was the beginning of his daily routine. But this year John had a new problem. At the beginning of the school year, John’s mother had bought him a pair of glasses with big round frames, thinking that he ‘looked cute’ in them. One day he forgot his regular glasses, and as soon as everybody saw the new ones, things got worse, as everybody started calling him ‘Harry.’ So far this year, he had lost six pairs of his regular eye glasses, and his parents were beginning to wonder about him. Recently he discovered that the senior sports teams had put a bounty out on his regular glasses (dead or alive) and last week another pair went missing.
Nature has a way of maintaining balance in the universe, by insuring that every force has an equal and opposing influence. John’s force was intelligence, for he lacked size, strength, and confidence. If there was an opposing, equalizing force to John, it was Eric—the next student on the school bus route.
John always thought he could feel the bus tilt when Eric stood on the bus steps. At six feet six inches and two-hundred and twenty pounds, he was practically a foot taller than the average student (and a few of his coaches) and fifty pounds heavier. Known to his teammates as ‘Mount Eric,’ he was a fixture on every playing field, sometimes serving as captain on two teams at the same time. His entire family lived for sports, three relatives already inducted into various halls of fame. While growing up, it was said that Eric had big shoes to fill, shoes that he not only filled, but also rapidly outgrew. With a large, hulking frame, a confident walk, and dark hair cropped close to his head, Eric was one student that everybody knew. Overall, he was not a bad character, his grades were not the best, but few people actually asked about them. However, he had not yet found his place in the world outside of sports, and as usual, whenever Eric saw John wearing his new glasses, with the round frames, he would say something like, ‘Did you remember your broom Harry?’
As the bus headed towards the next stop, John saw Zack, standing by the side of the road, saw him throw a clear object in the opposite ditch. On numerous occasions, John had walked by the house where Zack lived, and had seen the bottle-filled ditch. Zack favored gin for breakfast. Nobody really knew Zack, as he was a bit of a loner, and even the other kids labeled as loners left Zack alone. He was that one student that all of the teachers described with the opening, ‘if only he applied himself.’
Once again, Zack was dressed all in black, with his long black hair cascading over his shoulders. Nobody had seen Zack dressed in any other color, not since he had moved in with his uncle, three years earlier. And nobody had ever seen him smile, as his face had lost all ability to express feeling a long time ago, he was an emotionless zombie, void of caring. True to form, he got on the bus with an unfinished science project, due yesterday, and went to the last seat on the right and opened the window. Then with his back to the aisle, he balanced a large plastic case on his lap, and from the small bags, he started pulling out little squares of animal furs that he had purchased at a fly-tying store, and began gluing them to the case.
Around the next bend, a young girl and her brother waited for the bus, and as usual, there seemed to be some sort of disagreement between them, as instead of standing beside each other, they were on the opposite sides of the driveway. Considering they were twins, one would think that they would be more civil to each other. Twins they may have been, but they were opposites in almost every aspect of their lives.
As the bus came to a stop, the doors opened, and all five feet four, one hundred pounds of Lauren stomped in, pitched herself into the second seat on the left. Logan, her brother, sat down in the seat behind her, and from the look on her face, she was not pleased with his seating choice.
An inch-wide purple dyed streak caressed the contour of Lauren’s cheek, and a purple ribbon secured the rest of her hair, pulled into a pony tail. Purple was her sister’s favorite color. Every day Lauren always wore something purple—a skirt, blouse, jacket or maybe just a brooch—in honor of her sister, whom she had lost in a car accident, two years earlier. It was a simple tribute, but behind her back, other students called her the Purple Princess. Lauren was aware of the nickname, caring neither for it, nor for the people who used it. However, she had a confident presence and a charisma that preceded her.
Logan her brother, he could enter and exit a dozen rooms and nobody ever realized that he had been there. He had many friends and everybody knew him, but few people saw him, which was odd, because he was a hard character to miss. His dark hair was always a tangled mess of curls, as if it was allergic to combs or brushes. He could put on a clean pressed shirt, and by the time he was at the bottom of the stairs, it would be wrinkled and stained (the only way his whites stayed white, was if he left them in the packaging). He could leave his house in perfect condition, and by the time he arrived at school, it looked like he had slept in his clothes. At five feet six and one hundred seventy pounds, Logan was a natural disaster that walked on two legs—a natural disaster that took great satisfaction in annoying his sister.
As the bus pulled up to the last stop, John could see Ryan at the side of the road, sitting in the temporary wheelchair, his mother beside him. As the bus driver stood to deploy the wheelchair ramp, John saw Lauren twirl the dyed strands of purple hair before nervously chewing on them.
Ryan was the reason they rode a short bus this year, as he had been in a major car accident, and after two years of complicated surgeries and intense physiotherapy, the hospital discharged him. Though Ryan was now eighteen, he hadn’t graduated in his final year—his accident had held him back in many ways. His injuries were quite extensive; both legs had been shattered, major breaks to his pelvis, ribs, arms as well as severe back and neck trauma. At first, they were uncertain if he would ever walk again, but determined doctors and physiotherapists had restored mobility in his legs, now allowing him to travel short distances with the aid of a walker. Despite a full year of therapy ahead of him, he had finally reached a point where he could get in and out of his wheelchair unassisted. The crueler kids at school called him Frankenstein, as there was no way Ryan could cover up all the scars on his body. Hands, arms and even his face retained the evidence of that fateful event, evidence that Ryan could not escape from, evidence that crept into his dreams every night. Because of his extended hospital stay, Ryan started to have episodes of depression, and the doctors thought it would be best if he continued his therapy at a local clinic, which would allow him to attend regular classes three out of five days.
As the ramp retracted with Ryan, John and Eric greeted him, but as usual, he would not respond to them in Lauren’s presence.
So here they were, spring break was just hours away. John had heard that Ryan was going on a family trip to Walt Disney World, to lift his spirits. Lauren and Logan were heading out on a skiing trip. Eric was going to some sort of sports fantasy camp, and nobody was sure of what Zack was doing. A trip to M.I.T waited for John, to meet the teachers, and tour the campus. The bus came to a stop sign, the driver checked both ways to make sure it was clear, and then turned onto Route 89, towards the town, and in the distance was the opening to the 400 foot long avalanche tunnel.
When they entered the tunnel, the driver noticed that the tunnel lights were not working, and as they approached the outer part of the bend, the bus driver saw somebody lighting flares in the left hand lane, warning other drivers of a potential hazard. Just past the flares, in the darkness of the tunnel, a motionless truck appeared in the bus headlights. As they drove by the flares and the disabled truck, the bus driver was horrified to see another vehicle in the left hand lane, heading towards the broken down vehicle, and not slowing down.