The final edits are complete. The cover art is next, then it will fall into the queue on the publisher’s calendar. Sometime in the near future. The next Sam Deland crime/detective/action/adventure/thriller, GROUND EFFECT, will hit the market. This one is vying with ROPE BREAK as my favorite project. Changes to the characters and stories within stories once again. Enjoy a sample from GROUND EFFECT:
Walid’s running shoes were almost dry. The ride from Del Rio had gone well, so far, but when he glanced to his left, he saw Ghali’s eyelids drooping. They’d been awake for almost two days and had more than a hundred miles to go. The propane tanks in the bed of the stake body truck jingled when they touched as the truck passed over bumps in the road. It was early in the morning and, after crossing the border in the night, they found the truck where their instructions foretold it would be. Now, on the desolate highway moving east into the rising sun, Walid squished his toes inside the shoes and felt the coolness of the Rio Grande’s muddy remains, wishing he could get an American hamburger to fill his growling stomach.
In halting English Walid said, “Wake up. Do you need coffee?” The prospect of finding anything but scrub bushes and dust in this flat near desert seemed remote. The small town they just passed through was still waking up and the only place to eat was crowded with vehicles and men in broad hats and coveralls moving in and out. They had not dared to stop. The long straight road was carrying Ghali to dreamland.
Walid rolled down the widow and let in a greater volume of cool air. It would soon warm in the desert sun and the truck seemed to lack air conditioning. Even the beat up cars back in Benghazi usually had working air conditioning, when they could find petrol.
The truck hummed and jingled and Walid looked up to see the first curve in miles just ahead. He started to look over again at the driver when the truck drifted into the curve, but rather than follow the road to the right, it moved over the yellow center lines.
“Bulis!” came out in Arabic from the startled Walid as he looked straight into the front grill of a Texas state trooper car sliding to the side to avoid smacking head on into the truck.
Ghali tried hard to keep the old truck from rolling onto its side and scatter them and the propane tanks into the ditch. The noise of the screaming tires mixed with the music of the bottles of explosive gas bashing into each other as the truck rocked back onto its wheels and went across the road pointed eastbound.
This was the first big thing Ghali had ever driven. A Mercedes van had been the only other commercial sized vehicle and that was just for a short run from Rabat into the deserts of Morocco to deliver it to the training camp. And the Mercedes had power steering and stability control. He’d been selected for this task because of his language abilities not his driving skill and it almost cost them an early defeat. But now he had the brake lights of the police car in his rear view mirror and they would have to deal with it before the sixty-seven pounds of Semtex was discovered in the backpacks nestled between the propane tanks.
“Get ready, the police are turning after us,” Ghali said between gasps of air. Walid spun in the seat and tried to look out of the back window and between the tanks. Even though the sun was coming up now he could still see the headlights of the patrol car center up on the road and come after them. They were supposed to drive at the speed limit and stop at all the stop signs to avoid drawing attention to themselves. The plans for dealing with the police had been minimal. Stay invisible. Avoid. The mission is primary, evasion and escape secondary. Walid did not intend to martyr himself today. That was for the dirt Arabs with nothing but angry dreams in their heads.
The big heavy wrench clipped to the inside of the driver door was meant to twist open reluctant valves but was the only weapon they had. Ghali jerked it free from its metal clasps and handed it across to Walid.
“They are stopping us,” Ghali said as the overhead flashers lit up. “As we have trained.”