Wednesday, June 10, 2009

AMERICAN CRUDE - Chapter 9-f

The following is a draft of Chapter 9-f of my post-oil novel AMERICAN CRUDE. Comments have been disabled. If you wish to comment, please go to TheKunstlerCast at and join the discussion.


--Innocent Byproduct

I pressed my face against the glass again, trying to see what else lay in the room. And then off against one wall I saw a pair of French doors leading to a granite floor lit by a floodlight. I squinted at the French doors, trying to discern what else lay beyond them. And I saw a very short set of just a few granite steps leading up from the granite floor to what looked like grass. A moth flitted past the French doors, lured by the floodlight. A moth! I’m at the surface! The granite “floor” was actually a patio. So this lovely TV room with the calico cat was in truth the nicely finished walkout basement of an actual house.

I again tried the doorknob, but it wouldn’t budge. And suddenly I heard the Blackberry beep. I pulled out the telephone and the screen now had a different message other than the same old tiresome “No signal.” This time the screen read “You have 1 new voice mail.”

Transmission range!

I looked at the bar indicator: it only registered one bar instead of the usual five. And that sole bar kept flickering right before my eyes, in and out of existence, so I knew the transmission here was very weak, but it was better than nothing.

I immediately dialed 911. As I waited for the line to start ringing, I fished out Catherine’s driver’s license. But instead of hearing a ring, the phone coldly beeped that same discordant tone at me of “No signal.” I grumbled, knowing the phone still couldn’t quite latch onto a firm connection with a nearby tower. I started walking around the utility room, holding the phone up high, trying to coax that sole flickering bar into a steady and unwavering reliability. But the further I got from the glass window, the weaker the signal got. Only when I was right up against the glass would the bar come back with any degree of steadfastness. So I pressed the phone against the glass and again dialed 911. But again the transmission dropped and the “No signal” text reappeared.

I glanced at her drivers license again. The address read: 17 Maple Street, Glicksville, PA. I had never heard of Glicksville before. It sounded very German and considering the region it was most likely a small Amish community. But just because that was the address on her license didn’t guarantee it was also the address of the house I was standing in.

I tried calling back several more times, but each attempt was cut short by the unmerciful text box that read “No signal.” My only hope now was if the standard 911 procedures concerning disconnected calls would kick in. Specifically, I hoped the first attempted call had made it through to the police with enough data intact for them to at least either try to call back or else send a squad car out to investigate. But even if the police did arrive, how could I possibly get their attention from this locked room? And even if they somehow got into the house and even managed to see me trapped behind the glass here in the basement and then break down the door, how could I possibly explain all of this?

And how could I convince them to come with me through the secret hidden passages, down the endless staircase and into the mysterious underground complex that used to be an above-top-secret black technology military base? What if I got arrested for trespassing before they were willing to believe me? Or what if I did convince them to come down with me into the bowels of Hell, and then we tragically found her dead?—would I then be blamed for her death? Or what if instead of the police showing up, the Men in Black came and took me away never to be seen again?

I also pondered the possibility that I could somehow bust out of this basement on my own by using the tools from the plumber’s shop. The navel piercer alone could probably put a good sized dent in the bullet-proof glass. And the flooring above me was merely wood, so I could easily saw my way through with one of several saws in that plumber’s shop.

I back-burnered those strategies and concentrated now upon the fact that I had been away from Catherine for nearly an hour now. I decided I needed to get back to her, check on her condition, and from there decide what to do.

I turned away from the glass, crossed the utility room, went through the studio apartment, and headed back to the long hallway full of food -- leaving all “secret” doors open behind me with my makeshift door stoppers. When I arrived at the top of the endless stairs I started the long descent back down again.

I reached the very bottom step in five minutes, utterly out of breath. My work shirt still sat wedged in the door. I snatched it up and slipped it back on again as I re-entered beneath the catwalk into that cold and cavernous level where over 400 oil tanks lay. I then looked toward the two closed sets of elevator doors where the work cart still sat -- but Catherine was no longer on it. All that remained was my letterman jacket in a heap on the floor!

-------------------End of Chapter 9-f--------------------