POLAR VORTEX: A Novella: SEVEN

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
Thor, a colossal swirling Polar Vortex whiteout, provides cover for a terrorist convoy of armed personnel carriers and white-clad troops crossing the frozen St. Lawrence River into Canada. By chance, some young men spot the enemy through the shifting curtains of snow. They, along with a bizarre collection of unlikely adventurers, pursue the invaders through the roaring blizzard. The target of the enemy becomes definite; and then it changes; and changes again. Then there is the question of how to dispose of their enemies if they find them. And what is the real target of the enemy?
Time is running out.

Submitted: January 11, 2017

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Submitted: January 11, 2017

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POLAR VORTEX

A Novella

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter Seven

 

Harold explained about his snowmobiles and where he parked them. He started up the stairs with the boys scampering ahead of him. Harold followed them as well as the two men to the conference room where he accepted nourishment that included a large soda. After extracting a flask of whiskey from somewhere beneath his layers of winter clothing, he offered a shot to Andy and Bill. Andy declined, Bill accepted—a double shot.

Laughs and merriment prevailed for around five minutes while everyone introduced himself, shook hands, and traded information.

“Well, I’ll be damned,” began Bill, “this is really a strange one. Them turning right on Royal Way only leads them farther from town. How fast were they going?”, turning to Wade and the other boys.

“Oh, I’d say about . . . what; three miles an hour? offered Danny Lawson, “they were walking.”

“Yeah,” agreed Chip Meadows, “but maybe they were just being careful until they got out of town. In the open—or at least on open snow. I don’t know how fast those things can go you, know, if the armed guys got aboard and they opened up the speed on the APC.”
“True,” remarked Bill, “but I recall those things being damn fast on flat clear terrain—maybe forty mile per hour—but in mud and sand they really slow down. I bet this snow would drop that top speed quite a bit.”

“I agree,” offered Harold, “my snowmobiles—any snowmobile could outrun them; even in Thor, although it would be almost against the winds of the damn storm. Of course, they’ll have the same problem. How long ago did you boys see them turn right on Royal Way?”
All seven boys thought for a minute, tapped the fingers of one hand with the tip of the index finger on the other hand; looked up; looked down; sighed, before Finlay Camden spoke.

Looking at his watch, “Twenty-five to thirty minutes ago. We were still on Water Street when the lights came on and they come on at four.”

All the other boys agreed with Finlay’s estimation.

The three men inhaled as if the air in the conference room contained smart oxygen that would tell them what to do next. Andy started with, “I think we should walk and snowmobile to the Police Station and the Firehouse. I know the police have at least one snowmobile; and Steve Dempster has two souped-up snow buggies”

“But, guys,” cautioned Bill, “they already have a big head start. I think someone should go right now with Harold—do any of you kids know how to drive one of those things?”
Of cours Wade did, and he volunteered.

However, Harold thought that for all the right reasons, two men should immediately go after the column, “and one of us should go and round up the police; they must have a few buggies; and even the firemen. The rest can follow. We’ll take Wade.”

“Good thinking, Harold,” Bill said with evident sincerity, “I’ll be up and ready in five minutes. We should all put on our layers. And I think I’ll leave the lights on. If any bad sorts are around, the lights could scare them off. Okay. Let’s saddle up.”

Harold paused, before saying, “Is there a faster way than simply going along the highway? We know where they’re going. Can we cut them off somehow?”

“I can’t think of any shortcut, can you Bill?” remarked Andy.

Bill Noonan dropped his chin while he thought for a moment. “Well, you know, if the snow is really this deep all the way to Ottawa, I suppose we could go overland. I know it’s only about fifty-seven miles flying between the two, but seventy-one miles by road. But hell, I don’t know an overland route. Any of you boys ever been on any overland route from here to the highway going north to Ottawa?”

All the boys shook their heads. It seemed, at that moment, their eagerness, as well as any plans they could make, deflated. The column had a large head start. A route for snowmobiling overland on the hypotenuse of the triangle that would end in Ottawa, was unknown and thereby worse that risky. Even seasoned drivers of snowmobiles or snow buggies would be heading off into the full force of Thor’s winds; not a cheery prospect.  

A general chatter erupted as everyone in twos or threes talked out any ideas for rescuing their mission, meaning: getting to Ottawa before the column, a column that all the boys and men decided was a group intent on terrorism.

After a couple of minutes, a lull separated the chitchat; and into that lull arrived the sound of a woman’s’ voice.

“Haloo up there; anyone at home?”

All male action and chatter stopped.

“I think I hear you up there; anyone?”

“Yes; here we are,” called Bill, “up the stairs; fourth floor—or take the elevator. Who are you and what on earth are you doing out on a night like this?”

Rapid footsteps sounded on the four flights of stairs, ending with the appearance of a woman of indeterminate years. She was wound and bound round with layers of coats, scarves, and headgear upon her person in addition to an extraordinarily powerful headlamp that she mercifully turned off upon spying the men and boys.

“I’m Adele Chambers. I run the Markham Potter Museum up on the corner of the two highways. I saw a damn nasty-looking column of war vehicles going up 416. Gave me a damn turn. I know how to ski cross-country and I decided to come here as the closest place to me, especially with Thor blowing from the north. And you have police and fire people. Well, I saw your lights and here I am.”

All the boys and men instantly knew what route to take to cut off the column and they gave a cheer. Adele perceived this as the welcoming of a conquering hero: her; and she held up her hands and gave a slight bow to all the males.

“Well,” urged, Adele, “let’s get cracking.”

Bill decided once more, that overall, it would be wiser to leave the lights on in the building and the door unlocked. The others agreed with his assessment that the APC column was well past any fear from the south and would not have left any personnel or demolition teams to blow up anything in Brookvale.

Adele reasoned that the column, whoever they were, had Ottawa as their target. Following their blowing up the Parliament buildings, they would cross the Ottawa River and get lost in the snow of the north. Alternatively, they could follow the Ottawa River to Montreal.

This last statement of Adele’s chilled the men in place while they thought of the innumerable targets that would be ripe and ready for acts of terrorism.  

“We have to find some damn phones; some way to get the message to Montreal in particular,” urged Bill, “blowing up the Parliament buildings would certainly unnerve any number of people but the destruction terrorists would do in Montreal is unimaginable.”

Wade shot in with, “We tried our cell phones and they don’t work. They must have crippled the relay towers.”

“Good point, Wade,” answered Harold, “but I wonder how far in advance of their movements they’re taking out the phone systems. If they knocked out Montreal and the surrounding area right now, they would be telegraphing their plans—at least in a general way.”

Adele spoke very sternly. “We have to find somebody around here with a CB radio; better yet a MURS radio; they’re the best in the rural areas but I don’t know how good they’d be around Montreal. It may be too congested.”

By now everyone was at the front door which had been blown half open, allowing drifting snow to reach a height of three feet in front of the reception desk.

Harold and Bill agreed with Adele that they should snowmobile to the Police Station first, relate their sightings, and then leave at full speed along the fifty-seven mile route that Adele assured them would bring them to the Ottawa area before the column—despite their head start.

The question of the boys’ parents was paramount but they thought that another ten minutes or so would not defeat their run up to the capital after getting the police, fire, and EMT personnel on board with some of the men and women assigned to deliver—or at least contact—the parents of the boys. At that point, it would be up to the parents to decide whether their sons could join in the chase—a serious peril to the boys, despite the thrill of adventure attached to the enterprise.

Of course, all the adults were certain that the parents would absolutely forbid their sons from rushing into the jaws of Thor on a snowmobile to chase terrorists–even if the snowmobile was towing a sled that could carry three or four of the boys. However, they all agreed that this was a problem between the boys and their parents.

The adults shooed the boys off into the snow where they were pointed in the direction of the Police and Fire Stations after telling Adele the locations of the emergency personnel. Off she went on her skis, leading the column of three intrepid adventurers into the whirling white.

Bill and Andy had driven snowmobiles for years. They admired Harold’s triplets before they mounted and waited for three of the boys to come and be passengers.

Eventually, after what seemed to be hours but was only five minutes, the three snowmobiles roared into the parking lot of the Brookvale Police Station where the drivers as well as the passengers jumped off to rush through the snowdrifts to begin heaving and grunting to open the doors.

End of Chapter Seven


© Copyright 2019 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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