Final Response is a firefighter crime thriller novel set in Edmonton, Alberta. After great reviews from readers at Bookus Publishing the start-up company made it available in April 2015 as an eBook pre-order. See What’s up? tab for progress and updates. You can get it at Amazon.com in paperback and eBook.
From a reader: This book was far more interesting than I first thought it would be, the writing was well done, first person narrative, and moved along briskly. There was enough explanation of motive to make the character understandable and sympathetic. The tale, a futuristic Armageddon of natural causes believable with only a little suspension of reality. Clearly, the Canadian background of the Author and setting come through revealed by expression of attitudes in the story; and while some may find this disconcerting, it does not harm the plot. Others will, doubtlessly, reveal the entire plot or nearly so; consequently I will only recommend it highly for entertainment and not spoil the fun. A good book, with an exceptional conclusion
synopsis: The polar vortex has grown stronger with every winter, creating Ice Age 2.0. The vortex spawns Swirls; intensely cold snowstorms that ravage a northern city, forcing an evacuation until springtime. Captain Jack Sellars and his men are contracted to protect the city with one mandate: don’t let the city burn down. With no power or gas, and all the citizens gone, what could possibly happen? But when an SUV flips over on a snowy freeway with a body, an AK-47 and diamonds inside, Captain Sellars and crew have reason to be concerned. One of the men in their midst turns into an enemy and goes rogue. After stumbling upon a gang of thieves and murderers, the firefighters realize they are the only witnesses. Cut off from communication, isolated in a frozen world, death and disaster become constant shadows. Caught in the midst of an erupting gang war, their city begins to burn. As the weight of snow threatens to collapse the station roof, a gang lays siege to the station. For Captain Sellars, keeping his sanity and his men alive in a savage environment will require a miracle. And he’s running out of cigarettes.
excerpt: “Everyone into the lounge. Got our fearless Captain Jack on the tube,” called Ross Fiscus, over the fire station PA system. The men quickly filed in and sat in a semi-circle around the big screen TV.
The program began with an altitude shot of the expansive Alberta oil sands, which lay six hours north of the city. A voice-over narrated a brief history of the area and the Polar Vortex. The female reporter, Emma Anders, wore a grey ski jacket puffed out like a marshmallow. Red-cheeked and holding herself tightly against the blowing snow, she stood on the edge of a dirty road beside a waist-high embankment of ice and snow squinting into blinding sunlight. Hair blew around from under her blue hard hat. Excavators and equipment worked furiously loading busted ice chunks into dump trucks, seemingly oblivious of a relentless wind trying to suck every degree of heat from them.
“Keeping the oil flowing at the best of times is difficult. With the relentless encroachment of the ice field, it’s a 24/7 mission, a Herculean task,” she explained, her fur-trimmed hood doing the jitterbug, flopping around her shoulders.
“What do you think she’s wearing under that coat?” said Kevin Broga, our heavy-duty mechanic, to no one in particular.
“A sweater,” replied Doc, eliciting a few chuckles.
“Long underwear,” added Orry. “The old trap-door type.”
Chuckles turned into laughter.
The camera panned across to a dozen pickup trucks in a long line. Men in heavily padded snowsuits stood in the truck beds blasting away at ice alongside the road from tripod-mounted lasers cannons.
“Very cool,” said Kevin. “Those Laser Cannons are exactly what we got on the Beast.”
“Bullshit,” said Lieutenant Ben Bemmer, “we got the kid’s model; Fischer Price one.”
The men laughed.
“No way. Same unit, only those guys got more power,” countered Kevin. “Those trailers behind them carry better generators than ours, cranked up to feed those cannon.”
“You mean ours can do that, too?” asked Orry.
“Sure, but the power’s got to be reconfigured from the on-board generator and maybe some from house power. We played with it at the service center when we first got it. It can…uh, do some major damage,” replied Kevin, vaguely alluding they’d damaged something.
“Shhh! Quiet guys!” I said.
Emma continued her newscast. “Down south in Edmonton, a major Canadian city, we have a crew of firefighters assigned to protect the city. After last winter’s fiasco, it seems everyone–insurance companies, the city, citizens, and even the police–have bailed out. Since properties are no longer insured, owners pooled their insurance premiums and worked a deal with the city and Vulcan Security. The lonely band of brothers are the only humans south of here until Red Deer. I spoke with Fire Captain Jack Sellars at his refitted fire station via the internet.”
My face appeared on screen. HD wasn’t doing it for me.
“Lookin’ good, Captain,” said Doc.
“Hey, Captain, you’re a movie star!”
“You should invite her down here for a ‘personal’ interview.”
I frowned and raised my hand. “Okay guys, sh-h-h. I want to hear this.”
The actual interview lasted twenty minutes and for the life of me I could barely remember what I’d said. What I heard myself saying to her sounded boring, but honest.
“Our mandate is simple: don’t let the city burn down. With all utilities shut off and the human element gone, we figure there shouldn’t be any problems here. We are well-supplied and should have enough distractions to fend off the isolation.”
The camera switched back to the reporter and she signed off. “Reporting in a Polar Vortex, from the edge of the Ice Age at the Alberta oil sands, I’m Emma Anders.”
“She chopped my speech into a tiny sound bite. What kind of report is that?” I complained, with the men mumbling their agreement. Not that it mattered. I mean, this had to be the easiest gig anywhere. What could happen in an abandoned city with no people?
According to our contract, we couldn’t leave until May. Everyone put great trust in Vulcan Security who contracted the job from the city. They stockpiled our food, provided satellite communication, and extensively renovated the station against the intense weather patterns called Swirls.
That part should be taken care of. However; the human element was entirely another creature–six months of isolation with a crew I’d never worked with before. Like going to Mars with gravity.
There’d be no going home to get away from the office.
Ross Fiscus charged out of the adjacent Comm-room in a bit of an excited state.
“Captain Sellars, HQ satellite spotted a vehicle fire on the freeway,” he said, pulling up on his belt buckle, bringing it over his pudgy belly.
We all exchanged glances, surprise flashing in our eyes.
And then what I never imagined could happen, did.
From an Amazon reader: This book was far more interesting than I first thought it would be, the writing was well done, first person narrative, and moved along briskly. There was enough explanation of motive to make the character understandable and sympathetic. The tale, a futuristic Armageddon of natural causes believable with only a little suspension of reality. Clearly, the Canadian background of the Author and setting come through revealed by expression of attitudes in the story; and while some may find this disconcerting, it does not harm the plot. Others will, doubtlessly, reveal the entire plot or nearly so; consequently I will only recommend it highly for entertainment and not spoil the fun. A good book, with an exceptional conclusion