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Jason Austin

Jason Austin

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04/08/2013  
IT...IS...HERE!!! Ladies and Gentlemen--and everyone in between--it has ARRIVED!!! The official revision of my debut novel DUES OF MORTALITY is NOW ON SALE!!! It is available for download for the Kindle, PC, iPad, iPhone and other compatible devices! After years of revisiting these astonishing characters and their even more astonishing story, it is now here for YOUR enjoyment. Just follow the link below and get your copy today!!! It is only $4.79 and I PROMISE you won't want to stop reading until the very end...and even then you will wish there was more! Be sure to leave me a comment and or a review on Amazon.com or my twitter page. I will continue to post updates on availability, so stay tuned for more. Thank you to all who support(ed) me and enjoy!!! http://www.amazon.com/Jason-Austin/e/B00C5Y0Q3A/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
03/18/2013  
Alright, listen up everyone!!! I have completed my revision of my debut novel DUES OF MORTALITY!!! It will made available soon for e-book format on Amazon dot com. It is the greatest near-future thrill ride ever put to words!!! I will post the link here in the next day or two, but for now you get a taste that will leave you panting for more! Check out the first chapter of DUES OF MORTALITY below and be the first to get it all on your Kindle, PC and other compatible devices. That is before the movie comes out!!! Enjoy and be sure to leave a comment. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Chapter 1 Cleveland, Ohio, August 25, 8:34 a.m. The news would probably call his death a result of posttraumatic stress disorder. Or more likely, the coroner’s report would say it. The terribly tragic story of another homeless corpse wasn’t exactly a reason to cut into the coveted primetime webisodes, even for the most revered of combat veterans. Any mention at all, of course, was assuming his body would actually be found. Shit, three square blocks of this neighborhood could be blown to smithereens without anyone complaining about the noise. Xavier pressed the gun's barrel to his lips, pushed down hard. Preferably, the bullet would enter just above the tonsils and exit through the back of his skull, splattering a healthy mass of gray matter against the crumbling drywall. There was a small margin of error, but if he did it right, it would be quick and hopefully painless. He wasn’t wearing a comwatch or anything, but if his hemorrhoids were any indication, he’d been warming the corner floor the better part of the morning. His brain site-surfed at a queasy speed; he couldn't focus for shit. A droplet of rusty water splattered on his nose and it felt like he’d been punched. Jesus! He dug the barrel into his temple. Just pull the trigger. He bent at the wrist and the cold metal scraped a purple blotch beneath his right eye. “Ouch!” What happened last night? **** Twenty-four Hours Ago Somewhere in upstate Ohio Having to be anywhere near this place was the only thing that ever made Gabriel second-guess his career choice. Not because his three-hundred-dollar Italian shoes had to clap through a stronghold, housing enough weaponized agents and their by-products to wipe out nearly half the planet...but the people he had to contend with were just plain nauseating. That Japanese Mafioso was hooked on the very narcotics he sold—disgustingly unprofessional, and that vile prince from the Middle East: nothing but a thuggish little pervert completely enamored with himself. A who's who of draconian cutthroats masquerading as diplomats and public or religious servants. Not that Gabriel cared about that. He made his living keeping such human refuse out of prison, and made sure they remained free to torment their respective societies for years to come. What really drove him up a wall was the fact that they were just so...disingenuous about themselves. Naturally, they couldn’t reveal to those “respective societies” what they really were; fair enough. Gabriel wasn’t exactly upfront with the press about his own dubious nature. But when you’re trolling around a facility that isn’t supposed to exist, buying weapons that aren’t supposed to exist, with money that wasn’t supposed to exist, you left your fucking theme music at home! Yes, yes, they wanted proof that someone with a direct line to Wallace was overseeing the process. They wanted to make sure someone cared enough to do things right. But to hell with all their phony pomp and circumstance! Christ! As if Wallace or anyone in charge gave a flea’s fart about their pointless cause, their temporary government, or their fucking foreign rebellion. “We’ve increased the potency of the Saffron toxin so you can minimize the delivery system,” Gabriel assured his guest. “It will be ready by the end of next week, well ahead of schedule.” “Good,” the pouty-lipped woman answered. “It should give us the last bit of leverage we need to put our demands on the prime minister’s list of priorities.” Gabriel smiled at her openly. Smart move, on the general’s part, to send such a sleek and leggy attaché from—where was it?—Uganda or something like that—to tie up the deal, he thought. Otherwise, Gabriel might have passed her off to the head lab-man and been on his way back to Cleveland. He was anxious to see how the untested unit was blending with its surroundings. Maybe he could snag a quick lay after sealing things up. Besides, after having to actually sit just five feet from a hermetically sealed chamber while a deadly nerve toxin was unleashed inside, it was the least she could do. **** Cambridge, Massachusetts, August 24, 11:02 p.m. A winsome bar of “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” tweeted from Stanley Edinburgh's lips as he strode through the new biotech wing inside the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s University Park. He was still on a high from his epiphany following another verbal death-match with Dolores and, although, being a security guard at the institute was never exactly like policing the dark alleys of Roxbury—in that there was no need to wish he were somewhere else—tonight Stanley found his twilight rounds as soothing as an oriental massage. The argument had begun as usual; Stanley came home to find a soggy herbal cigarette butt floating in the toilet and his wife with that markedly “satisfied” grin on her face. Since Dolores didn’t smoke and presumably went to the bathroom within the nine or so hours he was gone...well, it at least made the need for a detective obsolete. Stanley didn't even have to open his mouth. He just looked at her, shook his head as if to say, “how stupid do you think I am?” and that was all the excuse she needed. “What's your problem?” she blared, leading off with the classic reversal technique. At least she still managed to feel a little guilt. From there it segued into how he didn't make enough money and how she was tired of driving a goddamn bus every day to make ends meet. “You're the man of the house, you should be paying the bills anyway,” she'd said. Funny how when it came to paying the bills he was the man. The other twenty-three hours and fifty-nine minutes of the day, he was everything from loser to dickless wimp. “As if being dickless was much of a problem for you,” he'd said out of earshot. Stanley got offhand reports of Dolores and other, usually younger men, like Bigfoot sightings—in and about town, ducking from motel to restaurant with her hanging all over them like seaweed on a beached dolphin. Somewhere, there was a stupid undergraduate sapling bragging to his buddies about the forty-nine-year-old, borderline MILF who was buying him designer jeans and edifying him about the fabled g-spot. That's where all her money was going, by the way...along with hair salons, skin treatments and gym memberships, which weren't cheap and if it meant dipping into a nearly depleted 401k and driving on a drained battery, so be it. A shame really. Dolores wasn't at all unattractive when she put her best foot forward. But in regard to her own husband, she was the meanest, nastiest and most evil bitch in the history of evil bitches. Ultimately, there wasn't enough pancake or perfume on earth to cover that. Stanley's long overdue epiphany had happened somewhere after “worthless fuck” and before “biggest mistake of my life”. It was amazing. At the absolute apex of all the smiting and gnashing of teeth, it was as if the clouds had suddenly parted and he couldn't help but recognize that it was all past the point where he gave a shit anyway. How or from where it had manifested, he had no clue. But, without missing a beat, he just smiled at his wife and said, “I love you too, dear.” And he meant it. Not in the romantic “forever and ever” way he once did, but in the “it's all going to be alright” kind of way. “You're crazy,” she bitched. “Well, I might be crazy,” he rebutted, then paused for effect, “but I sure ain’t miserable.” The look on Dolores's face when he left for work was priceless. As Stanley rollicked in his newly discovered liberation, he used his baton flashlight to tap on his shoulder the beat of another song he had queued up in his mental ApTunes. Abruptly, a soft clatter, from what seemed to be one of the student labs, floated out into the dimmed corridor. He beamed his light at a pair of double doors just a few feet from his left. Keeping the light trained on them, he walked to the doors and selected a code key from his belt. He decoded the lock and eased the door open while stepping sideways and aiming the light inside. Carefully, but without alarm, Stanley angled inside the lab. He holstered the flashlight and rested a palm over the low-charged MAG strapped at his hip. He commanded the lights and a lusty whiteness saturated the room. Millions of dollars’ worth of state-of-the-art computers and 3D microscopes sat atop row after row of powder blue, laminate casework. Shelves filled with beakers, bottles and boxes of god-knows-what were hunkered beneath the raceways of industrial pipes traversing the ceiling. Stanley never forgot the disaster potential that existed in these rooms. He always regarded them as one stray shot away from Fukushima. I should have stayed in school, he thought. He continued to look around the lab in an imprecise manner, feeling his reflexive stomach-knot loosen with every undisturbed sight. It rebounded a bit when he perceived something odd about the air vent to his right. Squinting suspiciously, Stanley walked over to the vent and found a piece of black knit cloth protruding from its slots. He redrew his flashlight to inspect it. He unfastened the vent’s catches and found that the cloth was actually a shoulder strap to a lumpy black dufflebag. He removed the bag and, when going to place it on the nearest table, glimpsed what looked like a faint boot-print on the otherwise spotless surface. He cautiously laid the bag on an adjacent table and reached for his radio. The bag had an unzipped flap over a side compartment and, before uttering a word, Stanley curiously flipped it up with the butt of his light. His eyes locked instantly on the bold red LED numbers. The timer was at three seconds. For the second time in his life, Stanley felt the presence of divinity that had told him to say “I love you” to Dolores, leaving her, looking like a deer in the headlights. He turned his head as if someone were in the room with him and said, “Boy, I sure hope nobody else gets hurt.”
03/18/2013  
Alright, listen up everyone!!! I have completed my revision of my debut novel DUES OF MORTALITY!!! It will made available soon for e-book format on Amazon dot com. It is the greatest near-future thrill ride ever put to words!!! I will post the link here in the next day or two, but for now you get a taste that will leave you panting for more! Check out the first chapter of DUES OF MORTALITY below and be the first to get it all on your Kindle, PC and other compatible devices. That is before the movie comes out!!! Enjoy and be sure to leave a comment. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 1 Cleveland, Ohio, August 25, 8:34 a.m. The news would probably call his death a result of posttraumatic stress disorder. Or more likely, the coroner’s report would say it. The terribly tragic story of another homeless corpse wasn’t exactly a reason to cut into the coveted primetime webisodes, even for the most revered of combat veterans. Any mention at all, of course, was assuming his body would actually be found. Shit, three square blocks of this neighborhood could be blown to smithereens without anyone complaining about the noise. Xavier pressed the gun's barrel to his lips, pushed down hard. Preferably, the bullet would enter just above the tonsils and exit through the back of his skull, splattering a healthy mass of gray matter against the crumbling drywall. There was a small margin of error, but if he did it right, it would be quick and hopefully painless. He wasn’t wearing a comwatch or anything, but if his hemorrhoids were any indication, he’d been warming the corner floor the better part of the morning. His brain site-surfed at a queasy speed; he couldn't focus for shit. A droplet of rusty water splattered on his nose and it felt like he’d been punched. Jesus! He dug the barrel into his temple. Just pull the trigger. He bent at the wrist and the cold metal scraped a purple blotch beneath his right eye. “Ouch!” What happened last night? **** Twenty-four Hours Ago Somewhere in upstate Ohio Having to be anywhere near this place was the only thing that ever made Gabriel second-guess his career choice. Not because his three-hundred-dollar Italian shoes had to clap through a stronghold, housing enough weaponized agents and their by-products to wipe out nearly half the planet...but the people he had to contend with were just plain nauseating. That Japanese Mafioso was hooked on the very narcotics he sold—disgustingly unprofessional, and that vile prince from the Middle East: nothing but a thuggish little pervert completely enamored with himself. A who's who of draconian cutthroats masquerading as diplomats and public or religious servants. Not that Gabriel cared about that. He made his living keeping such human refuse out of prison, and made sure they remained free to torment their respective societies for years to come. What really drove him up a wall was the fact that they were just so...disingenuous about themselves. Naturally, they couldn’t reveal to those “respective societies” what they really were; fair enough. Gabriel wasn’t exactly upfront with the press about his own dubious nature. But when you’re trolling around a facility that isn’t supposed to exist, buying weapons that aren’t supposed to exist, with money that wasn’t supposed to exist, you left your fucking theme music at home! Yes, yes, they wanted proof that someone with a direct line to Wallace was overseeing the process. They wanted to make sure someone cared enough to do things right. But to hell with all their phony pomp and circumstance! Christ! As if Wallace or anyone in charge gave a flea’s fart about their pointless cause, their temporary government, or their fucking foreign rebellion. “We’ve increased the potency of the Saffron toxin so you can minimize the delivery system,” Gabriel assured his guest. “It will be ready by the end of next week, well ahead of schedule.” “Good,” the pouty-lipped woman answered. “It should give us the last bit of leverage we need to put our demands on the prime minister’s list of priorities.” Gabriel smiled at her openly. Smart move, on the general’s part, to send such a sleek and leggy attaché from—where was it?—Uganda or something like that—to tie up the deal, he thought. Otherwise, Gabriel might have passed her off to the head lab-man and been on his way back to Cleveland. He was anxious to see how the untested unit was blending with its surroundings. Maybe he could snag a quick lay after sealing things up. Besides, after having to actually sit just five feet from a hermetically sealed chamber while a deadly nerve toxin was unleashed inside, it was the least she could do. **** Cambridge, Massachusetts, August 24, 11:02 p.m. A winsome bar of “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” tweeted from Stanley Edinburgh's lips as he strode through the new biotech wing inside the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s University Park. He was still on a high from his epiphany following another verbal death-match with Dolores and, although, being a security guard at the institute was never exactly like policing the dark alleys of Roxbury—in that there was no need to wish he were somewhere else—tonight Stanley found his twilight rounds as soothing as an oriental massage. The argument had begun as usual; Stanley came home to find a soggy herbal cigarette butt floating in the toilet and his wife with that markedly “satisfied” grin on her face. Since Dolores didn’t smoke and presumably went to the bathroom within the nine or so hours he was gone...well, it at least made the need for a detective obsolete. Stanley didn't even have to open his mouth. He just looked at her, shook his head as if to say, “how stupid do you think I am?” and that was all the excuse she needed. “What's your problem?” she blared, leading off with the classic reversal technique. At least she still managed to feel a little guilt. From there it segued into how he didn't make enough money and how she was tired of driving a goddamn bus every day to make ends meet. “You're the man of the house, you should be paying the bills anyway,” she'd said. Funny how when it came to paying the bills he was the man. The other twenty-three hours and fifty-nine minutes of the day, he was everything from loser to dickless wimp. “As if being dickless was much of a problem for you,” he'd said out of earshot. Stanley got offhand reports of Dolores and other, usually younger men, like Bigfoot sightings—in and about town, ducking from motel to restaurant with her hanging all over them like seaweed on a beached dolphin. Somewhere, there was a stupid undergraduate sapling bragging to his buddies about the forty-nine-year-old, borderline MILF who was buying him designer jeans and edifying him about the fabled g-spot. That's where all her money was going, by the way...along with hair salons, skin treatments and gym memberships, which weren't cheap and if it meant dipping into a nearly depleted 401k and driving on a drained battery, so be it. A shame really. Dolores wasn't at all unattractive when she put her best foot forward. But in regard to her own husband, she was the meanest, nastiest and most evil bitch in the history of evil bitches. Ultimately, there wasn't enough pancake or perfume on earth to cover that. Stanley's long overdue epiphany had happened somewhere after “worthless fuck” and before “biggest mistake of my life”. It was amazing. At the absolute apex of all the smiting and gnashing of teeth, it was as if the clouds had suddenly parted and he couldn't help but recognize that it was all past the point where he gave a shit anyway. How or from where it had manifested, he had no clue. But, without missing a beat, he just smiled at his wife and said, “I love you too, dear.” And he meant it. Not in the romantic “forever and ever” way he once did, but in the “it's all going to be alright” kind of way. “You're crazy,” she bitched. “Well, I might be crazy,” he rebutted, then paused for effect, “but I sure ain’t miserable.” The look on Dolores's face when he left for work was priceless. As Stanley rollicked in his newly discovered liberation, he used his baton flashlight to tap on his shoulder the beat of another song he had queued up in his mental ApTunes. Abruptly, a soft clatter, from what seemed to be one of the student labs, floated out into the dimmed corridor. He beamed his light at a pair of double doors just a few feet from his left. Keeping the light trained on them, he walked to the doors and selected a code key from his belt. He decoded the lock and eased the door open while stepping sideways and aiming the light inside. Carefully, but without alarm, Stanley angled inside the lab. He holstered the flashlight and rested a palm over the low-charged MAG strapped at his hip. He commanded the lights and a lusty whiteness saturated the room. Millions of dollars’ worth of state-of-the-art computers and 3D microscopes sat atop row after row of powder blue, laminate casework. Shelves filled with beakers, bottles and boxes of god-knows-what were hunkered beneath the raceways of industrial pipes traversing the ceiling. Stanley never forgot the disaster potential that existed in these rooms. He always regarded them as one stray shot away from Fukushima. I should have stayed in school, he thought. He continued to look around the lab in an imprecise manner, feeling his reflexive stomach-knot loosen with every undisturbed sight. It rebounded a bit when he perceived something odd about the air vent to his right. Squinting suspiciously, Stanley walked over to the vent and found a piece of black knit cloth protruding from its slots. He redrew his flashlight to inspect it. He unfastened the vent’s catches and found that the cloth was actually a shoulder strap to a lumpy black dufflebag. He removed the bag and, when going to place it on the nearest table, glimpsed what looked like a faint boot-print on the otherwise spotless surface. He cautiously laid the bag on an adjacent table and reached for his radio. The bag had an unzipped flap over a side compartment and, before uttering a word, Stanley curiously flipped it up with the butt of his light. His eyes locked instantly on the bold red LED numbers. The timer was at three seconds. For the second time in his life, Stanley felt the presence of divinity that had told him to say “I love you” to Dolores, leaving her, looking like a deer in the headlights. He turned his head as if someone were in the room with him and said, “Boy, I sure hope nobody else gets hurt.”
03/18/2013  
Alright, listen up everyone!!! I have completed my revision of my debut novel DUES OF MORTALITY!!! It will made available soon for e-book format on Amazon dot com. It is the greatest near-future thrill ride ever put to words!!! I will post the link here in the next day or two, but for now you get a taste that will leave you panting for more! Check out the first chapter of DUES OF MORTALITY below and be the first to get it all on your Kindle, PC and other compatible devices. That is before the movie comes out!!! Enjoy and be sure to leave a comment. Chapter 1 Cleveland, Ohio, August 25, 8:34 a.m. The news would probably call his death a result of posttraumatic stress disorder. Or more likely, the coroner’s report would say it. The terribly tragic story of another homeless corpse wasn’t exactly a reason to cut into the coveted primetime webisodes, even for the most revered of combat veterans. Any mention at all, of course, was assuming his body would actually be found. Shit, three square blocks of this neighborhood could be blown to smithereens without anyone complaining about the noise. Xavier pressed the gun's barrel to his lips, pushed down hard. Preferably, the bullet would enter just above the tonsils and exit through the back of his skull, splattering a healthy mass of gray matter against the crumbling drywall. There was a small margin of error, but if he did it right, it would be quick and hopefully painless. He wasn’t wearing a comwatch or anything, but if his hemorrhoids were any indication, he’d been warming the corner floor the better part of the morning. His brain site-surfed at a queasy speed; he couldn't focus for shit. A droplet of rusty water splattered on his nose and it felt like he’d been punched. Jesus! He dug the barrel into his temple. Just pull the trigger. He bent at the wrist and the cold metal scraped a purple blotch beneath his right eye. “Ouch!” What happened last night? **** Twenty-four Hours Ago Somewhere in upstate Ohio Having to be anywhere near this place was the only thing that ever made Gabriel second-guess his career choice. Not because his three-hundred-dollar Italian shoes had to clap through a stronghold, housing enough weaponized agents and their by-products to wipe out nearly half the planet...but the people he had to contend with were just plain nauseating. That Japanese Mafioso was hooked on the very narcotics he sold—disgustingly unprofessional, and that vile prince from the Middle East: nothing but a thuggish little pervert completely enamored with himself. A who's who of draconian cutthroats masquerading as diplomats and public or religious servants. Not that Gabriel cared about that. He made his living keeping such human refuse out of prison, and made sure they remained free to torment their respective societies for years to come. What really drove him up a wall was the fact that they were just so...disingenuous about themselves. Naturally, they couldn’t reveal to those “respective societies” what they really were; fair enough. Gabriel wasn’t exactly upfront with the press about his own dubious nature. But when you’re trolling around a facility that isn’t supposed to exist, buying weapons that aren’t supposed to exist, with money that wasn’t supposed to exist, you left your fucking theme music at home! Yes, yes, they wanted proof that someone with a direct line to Wallace was overseeing the process. They wanted to make sure someone cared enough to do things right. But to hell with all their phony pomp and circumstance! Christ! As if Wallace or anyone in charge gave a flea’s fart about their pointless cause, their temporary government, or their fucking foreign rebellion. “We’ve increased the potency of the Saffron toxin so you can minimize the delivery system,” Gabriel assured his guest. “It will be ready by the end of next week, well ahead of schedule.” “Good,” the pouty-lipped woman answered. “It should give us the last bit of leverage we need to put our demands on the prime minister’s list of priorities.” Gabriel smiled at her openly. Smart move, on the general’s part, to send such a sleek and leggy attaché from—where was it?—Uganda or something like that—to tie up the deal, he thought. Otherwise, Gabriel might have passed her off to the head lab-man and been on his way back to Cleveland. He was anxious to see how the untested unit was blending with its surroundings. Maybe he could snag a quick lay after sealing things up. Besides, after having to actually sit just five feet from a hermetically sealed chamber while a deadly nerve toxin was unleashed inside, it was the least she could do. **** Cambridge, Massachusetts, August 24, 11:02 p.m. A winsome bar of “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” tweeted from Stanley Edinburgh's lips as he strode through the new biotech wing inside the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s University Park. He was still on a high from his epiphany following another verbal death-match with Dolores and, although, being a security guard at the institute was never exactly like policing the dark alleys of Roxbury—in that there was no need to wish he were somewhere else—tonight Stanley found his twilight rounds as soothing as an oriental massage. The argument had begun as usual; Stanley came home to find a soggy herbal cigarette butt floating in the toilet and his wife with that markedly “satisfied” grin on her face. Since Dolores didn’t smoke and presumably went to the bathroom within the nine or so hours he was gone...well, it at least made the need for a detective obsolete. Stanley didn't even have to open his mouth. He just looked at her, shook his head as if to say, “how stupid do you think I am?” and that was all the excuse she needed. “What's your problem?” she blared, leading off with the classic reversal technique. At least she still managed to feel a little guilt. From there it segued into how he didn't make enough money and how she was tired of driving a goddamn bus every day to make ends meet. “You're the man of the house, you should be paying the bills anyway,” she'd said. Funny how when it came to paying the bills he was the man. The other twenty-three hours and fifty-nine minutes of the day, he was everything from loser to dickless wimp. “As if being dickless was much of a problem for you,” he'd said out of earshot. Stanley got offhand reports of Dolores and other, usually younger men, like Bigfoot sightings—in and about town, ducking from motel to restaurant with her hanging all over them like seaweed on a beached dolphin. Somewhere, there was a stupid undergraduate sapling bragging to his buddies about the forty-nine-year-old, borderline MILF who was buying him designer jeans and edifying him about the fabled g-spot. That's where all her money was going, by the way...along with hair salons, skin treatments and gym memberships, which weren't cheap and if it meant dipping into a nearly depleted 401k and driving on a drained battery, so be it. A shame really. Dolores wasn't at all unattractive when she put her best foot forward. But in regard to her own husband, she was the meanest, nastiest and most evil bitch in the history of evil bitches. Ultimately, there wasn't enough pancake or perfume on earth to cover that. Stanley's long overdue epiphany had happened somewhere after “worthless fuck” and before “biggest mistake of my life”. It was amazing. At the absolute apex of all the smiting and gnashing of teeth, it was as if the clouds had suddenly parted and he couldn't help but recognize that it was all past the point where he gave a shit anyway. How or from where it had manifested, he had no clue. But, without missing a beat, he just smiled at his wife and said, “I love you too, dear.” And he meant it. Not in the romantic “forever and ever” way he once did, but in the “it's all going to be alright” kind of way. “You're crazy,” she bitched. “Well, I might be crazy,” he rebutted, then paused for effect, “but I sure ain’t miserable.” The look on Dolores's face when he left for work was priceless. As Stanley rollicked in his newly discovered liberation, he used his baton flashlight to tap on his shoulder the beat of another song he had queued up in his mental ApTunes. Abruptly, a soft clatter, from what seemed to be one of the student labs, floated out into the dimmed corridor. He beamed his light at a pair of double doors just a few feet from his left. Keeping the light trained on them, he walked to the doors and selected a code key from his belt. He decoded the lock and eased the door open while stepping sideways and aiming the light inside. Carefully, but without alarm, Stanley angled inside the lab. He holstered the flashlight and rested a palm over the low-charged MAG strapped at his hip. He commanded the lights and a lusty whiteness saturated the room. Millions of dollars’ worth of state-of-the-art computers and 3D microscopes sat atop row after row of powder blue, laminate casework. Shelves filled with beakers, bottles and boxes of god-knows-what were hunkered beneath the raceways of industrial pipes traversing the ceiling. Stanley never forgot the disaster potential that existed in these rooms. He always regarded them as one stray shot away from Fukushima. I should have stayed in school, he thought. He continued to look around the lab in an imprecise manner, feeling his reflexive stomach-knot loosen with every undisturbed sight. It rebounded a bit when he perceived something odd about the air vent to his right. Squinting suspiciously, Stanley walked over to the vent and found a piece of black knit cloth protruding from its slots. He redrew his flashlight to inspect it. He unfastened the vent’s catches and found that the cloth was actually a shoulder strap to a lumpy black dufflebag. He removed the bag and, when going to place it on the nearest table, glimpsed what looked like a faint boot-print on the otherwise spotless surface. He cautiously laid the bag on an adjacent table and reached for his radio. The bag had an unzipped flap over a side compartment and, before uttering a word, Stanley curiously flipped it up with the butt of his light. His eyes locked instantly on the bold red LED numbers. The timer was at three seconds. For the second time in his life, Stanley felt the presence of divinity that had told him to say “I love you” to Dolores, leaving her, looking like a deer in the headlights. He turned his head as if someone were in the room with him and said, “Boy, I sure hope nobody else gets hurt.”
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