This story is complete and was submitted Sept. 16th to Bookus Publishing and waiting for reviews by their readers. See ‘What’s up, Eddie? tab for progress and updates.
synopsis: “Global warming, my ass,” said Fire Captain Jack Sellars. A cadre of firefighters is contracted by Vulcan Securities to protect a city evacuated until spring due to the onset of an Ice Age. In May citizens will return to gouge tourists who seek to witness the geological phenomena.
Capt. Jack Sellars and his firefighting crew are entrusted with the task along with a mandate not to let the city burn down. Captain Sellars figures it’ll be a piece of cake with bonus money for isolation pay to boost his pension and imminent retirement. A piece of cake.
What could possibly happen? The city has no power or gas, and no citizens. When an SUV flips over on a snowy freeway with a body and diamonds inside, Captain Sellars and crew begin to get concerned. One of the men in their midst turns into an enemy and goes rogue. Homes are being robbed and burned across the city and the men find themselves helpless against unknown forces.
The men realize they’re not alone when they stumble upon an organized gang of thieves looting the city. Cut off from communication, abandoned by Vulcan, the firefighters begin a daily struggle to survive. Death and disaster begin to take their toll. As the city burns, the gang lays siege to the fire station.
For a group of men dedicated to saving lives, they now must take them. With the station roof on the verge of collapse from the enormous weight of snow, surviving until spring may require a miracle.
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, and a voice-over with a brief history of the area. 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.
“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.
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.”
“Lookin’ good, Captain,” said Doc.
I ran a hand over my cheek thinking at least I’d shaved for the internet interview.
“Hey, Captain, you’re a movie star!”
“You should invite her down here for a ‘personal’ interview.”
I smiled 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. “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.