Today's Excerpt is from Burnout : The Mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281 Science Fiction Mystery
by BookTown Member Stephanie Osborn
A SF mystery about a Space Shuttle disaster. As the scope of the disaster is uncovered by the principal investigators, "Crash" Murphy and Dr. Mike Anders, they run for their lives, as lovers, friends and coworkers involved in the investigation perish around them.
Crash Murphy waited patiently, with gentle, light hands on the controls of his craft, watching his instruments intently.
"Crash! Break right! We've got a three-ringer, two o'clock on the RHAW gear! SAM-II!!" The voice came from his partner.
"There goes the rattlesnake..." the fighter pilot noted in an absent tone as the harsh buzzing of the radar alert confirmed the warning of incoming missiles.
"Second bandit! Dammit, Crash! Punch it and get the hell outta here!" his Guy In Back urged.
"Shut up, Ham, and lemme work here..." Crash abruptly put his F-4 into a hard, banking dive to starboard, picking up airspeed. As the SAM-IIs kept tracking him, he neatly forced them into a square corner; they shot straight up at Mach, lost their guidance locks, and self-destructed. "Awright, Ham, we're in the clear."
"Negative! Negative!" the GIB cried. "RHAW is picking up another radar lock at nine o'clock! He's got a belly shot at us, Crash! I got another rattlesnake..."
"I copy rattlesnake, Wizzo," Crash replied, scanning the view outside. "Damn--no joy."
"Where's the rest of the formation?!"
"No joy--they went for the MiGs, remember?"
"Are we tumbleweed?"
"You might say that..."
"Shee-it..." Ham cursed.
Unexpectedly, the Phantom's pilot kicked his craft into a high-g, counter-clockwise barrel roll, punching his ‘burners hard.
"Crash--do you have tally?" Ham asked, voice intense.
"Still no joy."
"You rather sit here an' wait for ‘em?" Crash scanned his instruments carefully, checking them against his visuals, as the F-4 pulled high g's in an effort to evade the incoming SAMs.
"Crash, get your smash up! You're losin' it!" Ham cried.
"Copy..." the pilot wrestled with his craft as the SAMs banked. Far too smoothly. "Aw, hell..."
With cold, heartless finality, the computer screen washed red, and two words in bold block letters appeared in the center:
"C'mon, Murphy," Hamilton Carter clapped the tall, dark-haired, ex-fighter pilot on the back, "try it again. Without the tally-ho visual sighting, you didn't have any way of judging distance. You'll get ‘im this time--"
"Emmett Ray," a slightly younger, red-headed version of Crash leaned through the open window, "ya better get out here an' see about the barbecue before ya go playin' the damn video game again. Some a' your guests are gettin' hungry."
"Jimmy," Crash told his brother as he and Ham headed out the weather-beaten old screen door to the barbecue pit in the back yard of the white limestone ranch house, "how many times I gotta tell you not to call me Emmett? You know I hate it."
A black Labrador frisked up to Crash, tail wagging furiously, and Crash petted the dog affectionately, then pushed the adoring animal away from his chest as it jumped. "Down, Phantom. Down, boy."
"Yeah? Whatcha gonna do about it?" James Robert Murphy grinned at his older brother, challenging him.
"Oh, I'll think of something... Jim-Bob."
(To read the rest of the excerpt please visit the Burnout Main Page)
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