Well since everyone seemed keen for a sequel this is the announcement that there will be one :)
Title is Ignition (sticking with the engine/car titles because hey – I love cars).
This is the teaser which I am posting both under 'Combustion' and under its new title (which I'm sure probably violates some website rule) so that people will know to look for it and can set up alerts etc if they wish to.
Looking forward to writing for you people again. I've had my like week off and am keen to go again. See what happens when you imply that you're interested? – you end up STUCK with me!!! Oh and have you all had enough of my 'like, totally, like,' speaking style? Believe it or not I DO speak like that… I'm a product of growing up in the 90's :)
By the way, I tried really hard in both Combustion and in this chapter to make sure the time zones are correctly reflected… The west coast of the US is 18 hours behind the east coast of Australia, so while it's 10am Friday for us, it's 4pm Thursday for you (most of you) and since I'm going with the idea that the movie took place in California, (I hear differing points of view on this so I'm taking creative license… Plus I've been to California so I at least know a little bit) so I tried to make the times/days reflect that.
The sun beat down with an intensity that the young man wasn't used to, made obvious by the sweat pouring down his face as his hand lifting to shade himself a little from the brilliant blue sky. In the far distance faint hints of cloud barely crested the horizon behind the island just offshore, an inviting image that probably graced the cover of many a travel magazine. Behind him the breakwater curved into what eventually became a river, a few highrises marking what must have been the business district, the manmade structures overshadowed by the enormous red tinted cliffs of the hill next to them. He was wearing nothing more than board shorts and a wifebeater, a baseball cap his only protection from the rays that scorched the human skin as easily as a barbeque cooked a steak. The enormous cargo ship beside him was unloading, its few travellers disembarking as cranes rolled along giant iron rails to begin the slow task of removing the many different types of items stacked and stored aboard.
The large stern door that towered above him abruptly came to life with a shrill whistle of warning sirens, red flashing lights at each corner announcing its slow descent toward the ground. Behind it the cavernous hold of the ship loomed like a fluorescent lit cave, vanishing into the distance until the bow couldn't be made out. Stored within was row after row of multicoloured cars, stacked like children's toys in a box, neatly and perfectly parked by the crew before leaving port. Now it would be the job of this crew to oversee the equally long and arduous task of getting them off.
A shrill ringing tone cut through the sounds of the dock and machinery, the black bag at the man's feet vibrating slightly against his calf, causing him to bend over and extract a small curved mobile phone from the side pocket. He raised it to his ear and flipped the clamshell open, his other hand lifting to press against the opposite ear to minimise the noise.
"Lennox here." There was too much ambient noise in the air to hear even a dull murmur of the voice on the other end of the line, the cranes and machinery continuing their thankless chores in the background.
"Yes I understand that. We both do. We know how to take care of ourselves." The hard eyes observed as a large truck was driven carefully out of the hold, the hand pressed to his ear temporarily lifted to wave, the crew member driving over as he evidently noticed the waving limb.
"We're not going to do anything stupid, this is me you're talking to." The truck drew to a halt in the bright sunlight, the driver stepping down from the cab of the pickup and handing over the keys. The man nodded in what must have been thanks, but as soon as the keys left his hand the staffer was turning away in a brisk jog back toward the cool and shaded interior of the ship. The machine and the man were left alone on the hot black asphalt for a second before the shining vehicle shuddered for a second, and with a whirring sound the steering wheel was folded away into the dash before reappearing on the opposite side of the cab.
"Ha ha Maggie, you're a regular riot. Look we know why we're here and we'll fly below the radar ok. We'll track them down. And tell Keller to stop laughing, he knows speakerphone works both ways right?" In the distance the chain link gate that closed off the far end of the wharf slowly slid open, a plain white sedan waiting patiently for it to finish.
"Besides, shouldn't he be more concerned with tracking down the decepticons? And get someone out to the Witwicky's, I haven't been able to get a hold of them for at least a week, and if Sam tries to reach someone it'll be them." With a soft whisper of tyres the white sedan drew to a halt between the truck and the speaker, a plain, slightly overweight, middle aged man stepping out of the driver's door, tie and jacket fully fastened in spite of the heat.
"Yeah well keep us updated ok? Just cos we're at the ass end of the world doesn't mean you can forget about us." The phone was pulled away from the curve of the man's ear as a squawk that even sounded louder than the machinery came out of the small handheld phone. A smile crossed his face as he pressed it back in place.
"Alright, fine that was uncalled for. I apologise. We've already been searching the globe for weeks though without success, the novelty is definitely starting to wear off here." The occupant of the white car made no move to approach while the phone conversation was going on, standing next to the closed door of his vehicle, black attaché case firmly in hand.
"Fine, but the satellites have lied before and there's been no sign of Megatron, Starscream, Sam or Bumblebee at any of the coordinates they detected. If this place doesn't pan out I think it might be time to accept that they really don't want to be found yet." Behind the unknown man in the suit the large truck flashed its lights, the younger man rolling his eyes in response.
"Yeah ok I gotta go Maggie, you know who is getting antsy and I've already seen those cannons close enough for one lifetime. Keep in touch ok? Bye." The clamshell clicked as it flipped shut, carefully slipped back into the bag which was hoisted over a muscular shoulder.
"Captain Lennox?" Not a drop of sweat appeared on the man's face, in spite of the heat, the one he was speaking to frantically flapping his singlet to get some air circulating.
"Who else were you expecting? I take it you're the contact I'm supposed to meet?" A smile suddenly appeared on the elder's face, the white teeth glowing in the sun.
"I.O. Patterson sir, the D.G. personally gave me the orders to meet you here, so you'll understand if this is a somewhat unusual situation for me. ASIO isn't traditionally in the business of covertly sneaking US military officers into the country, especially with a great lump of a truck." The two clasped hands in a friendly if somewhat cautious manner.
"Yes well, this is a once in a lifetime mission Agent Patterson, so you'll need to excuse us if it seems we're foregoing the usual inter-departmental niceties, but my orders came direct from the top." The hand that wasn't weighed down by the attaché case waved dismissively as the briefcase was placed on the white bonnet beside them and with a press the lid flipped open.
"Don't worry about it, dealing with the unexpected is all part of our jobs right? Anyway I've got all your documentation in here for you. Drivers licence, vehicle registration, medicare card, three hundred in cash as well as an agency credit card and a warning sticker for your car being left hand drive." There was a moment's pause as they both looked at the truck sitting innocently nearby, the wheel clearly visible on the right.
"Hmmm. My mistake. Anyway, there're also some papers that should take care of any trouble with local law enforcement, but the agency insisted that I pass on that this doesn't mean you have free reign to do whatever you want. I've also thrown in some maps and contact numbers. Oh, and it should go without saying that you are not to threaten or harm anyone, nor participate in any police action without approval from the D.G. himself." The papers and cards were carefully removed from the case and folded then slid into the shoulder bag.
"Understood." It appeared there was nothing else to be said between them, and with a nod the suit clad agent returned to the interior of his white sedan. A second later the engine purred to life and guided the vehicle back towards the gate it had entered through, the guard waving it through without asking to see any ID. The door of the large truck swung open almost like an invitation, and the backpack was slung up into the cab with practiced ease.
"Well big guy, ready to try all this again?" With a rumble the machine came to life and the man hoisted himself into the driver's seat, the belt sliding around him to lock him in place.
"Will, may I ask a question?" The voice seemed to come from nowhere in particular, a warm tone to it that echoed in the cabin.
"Sure partner." The man in the driver's seat was sorting through the papers and other items he had just received, some placed in a wallet, others in the backpack, while the remainder were secreted somewhere about his person.
"The human word 'town' refers to a small community is this not correct?" The head nodded distractedly in an affirmative.
"Then why is a moderately sized regional capital called 'Townsville'?" The man's laugh was sharp, the wallet tossed onto the opposite seat.
"Ok, ok, you've been trapped in the hold of the ship for a week, I get it, we'll talk. You just keep your sensors out for anything unusual." The truck vibrated a little as they turned onto what looked like a main street.
"Always, my friend."
The house rang with unearthly silence, the absence of sound becoming a sound itself as the ear tricked itself into hearing things that simply weren't there. The upstairs bedrooms were open, the doors and windows wide, letting in the air from outside. In one room several posters had come loose from the walls, joining scattered clothes and knick knacks on the floor, fluttering a little in the breeze. In the hallway a couple of dry leaves stirred restlessly on the timber floor, sliding with a faint hiss across the polish, twirling with each other in a secret dance before disappearing into an open door. Beneath an open window next to the stairs a small puddle of water had collected between the banister and the skirting board, a lake brought to life by recent rains blown under the eve, the plasterboard under the windowsill streaked brown with die run from the curtains.
Downstairs the atmosphere was just as heavy, the lounge room silent and unoccupied, most of the curtains stirring slightly in the wind. Beside the couch, one of the large drapes was caught on a timber end table, the vast swathe of fabric blocking off one corner of the room like a screen, evidence of a fierce gust of wind that had also tossed the magazines into a frenzy of brightly coloured, glossy paper, raining them onto the carpet where they joined a smashed lamp, victim of the curtain's rage. Across the room the large television that usually filled the house with sound sat dead and dark, the remote lying haphazardly on a cushion as though its user had thrown it there in a rush, a thin film of dust coating it as proof of the period of inactivity.
Through the archway, a glimpse of the dining room presented an equally vacant spectacle, the china cabinet against one wall stood open, several antique or collectible plates and cups laid out on the table nearby. Cleaning supplies sat ignored on the polished timber surface, a bottle that still contained traces of something green now lying on its side, the contents spilt in a once viscous mass across the table top. Now dry, only an outline remained, but where the liquid had touched, the polish had blistered and cracked, the glossy veneer peeling and flaking to pieces, as though the furniture was desperately trying to shed the damaged section, as an animal would shed dead skin. Where the damage met the table edge, a small stalactite of chemical clung to the lip, the only remaining evidence of the cleaner's presence, a dusty circle on the floor beneath it created by runoff from the spill above. A decorative plate lay broken next to it, several unconnected pieces scattered to the corners of the room, but the remainder still able to give the impression of George Washington's stern gaze from its shattered porcelain face.
From the dining room the kitchen beckoned like a dark mouth, the blinds here closed, casting thin beams of light through the gaps, turning the room into a black and white universe of film noir-esque qualities. Set before the blinds behind the sink, a row of terracotta pots was laid out in single file, the soil within gone dry. Protruding from them were the brown and desiccated stalks of plants, a botanist required to be able to determine their original species or genus. Beside the bench, the fridge hummed quietly in the corner, the only audible sound in the otherwise silent house, the temperature gauge on the front throwing a faint green glow. On the other side of the room, standing beside the door to the front foyer, an antique clock appeared frozen at 2pm, the pendulum unmoving behind its glass panel, the ubiquitous ticking silenced. Hanging around it, the chains of the mechanism were fully extended, their weights lying in the bottom of the case, as though they had strained to keep the timepiece running even as gravity unceremoniously pulled them onto their side and robbed them of power.
In the centre of the kitchen the table was neatly laid, a tea set arrayed in the middle, clean and sparkling in the dusty, striped air. Surrounding it like a bevy of loyal bodyguards were arrayed five cups and saucers, a noticeable gap marking a missing sixth set that was nowhere to be seen. Beside them, a generic supermarket loaf of bread lay sealed in its plastic coffin, the green and white mould that covered it like a forest, moving slowly in undulating waves as hidden creatures burrowed beneath its surface.
Past the moving bread, on the hard tiles of the floor, a sparkling cascade of light shimmered, a breadcrumb like trail of silvered glass stretching toward the foyer, both beckoning the eye to follow it to its source and warning the observer not to obey. It disappeared through the door with a fan like spray, the path crossing the deep red carpet before eventually leading to its point of origin. A tall sideboard lay across the narrow entry, the mirror that had adorned it smashed violently as, unable to collapse completely onto its side, it had slammed into the opposite wall, now propped up there like a drunken sailor. The drawers had slid forward as it fell, spilling their contents out to spread themselves amongst the sharp glass daggers; keys, placemats and assorted junk collected over a lifetime, now little more than brightly coloured confetti throughout the small room. Hats and coats that had somehow managed not to come loose during the collapse still hung from their hooks, the angle causing them to hang at an odd degree from the cabinet. Across the back of one of them a crimson stain, now dried almost black, marred the cream jacket, the outline of fingers clearly visible in the smear of colour. Another matching handprint marred the coffee coloured wallpaper not far away, the clean outline turning into a smear before streaking towards the front door. Sliced in amongst the stain, several gashes gouged into the wall, the small grooves resembling fingernails that had desperately scrabbled for purchase, evidence that whoever had left them had done so unwillingly.
Beneath the marks, the carpet had been bunched and ruffled, the woven lushness piled like a discarded napkin on a dinner tray, the runner torn from its fastenings, a man's shoe wrapped up within its billowing folds. Behind them a faint glimmer of light came from the corner near the front door, a brassy reflection that announced the presence of a shell casing, unmarked and featureless except for the slight smear of powder residue that was scorched through the interior and around the rim. The door itself was closed and locked, the deadbolt slid home, however the bracket it slid into had been torn loose from the timber door frame. Around the handle the wood was splintered and buckled, the catch barely caught on the remnants of the striker plate, just enough to keep the door closed against the breeze the stirred the plants outside.
The garden itself appeared slightly unkempt, the grass just a little too long, the plants a fraction too wild, the edges of the path marginally out of alignment. Several small ditches had been dug up across the lawn, a large weight dragged unwillingly across its manicured surface. Two large gouges were also scoured in the gravel of the driveway that ran alongside it, the stones scattered across the grass like seashells at the beach, two plumes of pebbles that almost resembled accusatory arrows, pointing out to the street, urging any who saw them to pursue their unknown target, a warning that help was needed. In the garage a single car sat undisturbed, a blind, mute witness to the events that had transpired, while around the house neighbourhood life continued.
Ok, this is the trailer/prologue. Is it worth continuing?