Twins Jan and Jani discover the existence of alternate Earths in a most unusual way. The first exploring party from another alternity immediately recognize that the twins have a powerful but unrealized talent for creating apertures into alternate worlds, but the twins suddenly realize they can spot an aperture and the person who formed it at a considerable distance, a talent they didn't know they had. The explorers from the Pankan Empire on another Earth have never seen the like of the twins. They are determined to not only subdue our Earth but to capture or kill the twins before they can develop their great ability to a point where they can help America and her allies resist the invasion. Within days, following one narrow escape after another, the Twins keep learning more and more about their abilities. They and their parents are helped by an old army buddy of Jan and Jani's father, Herb Friedman. To complicate matters, Friedman has a beautiful young daughter Jan is interested in. The Pankans recognize this and attempt to capture her in order to force the twins to work for them. Colleen Friedman is having none of it, though. She's been trained by her father in Karate and firearms, just as the twins have by their father. During the attempted kidnapping Jan and Colleen escape to a different alternity and there find some allies, the Europans, who will help Earth resist the Pankans because they are at war with them, too. Friedman calls on a Delta Force General for help in finding out how and why the Twins have such awesome talents for creating apertures to other worlds so that others of their kind can perhaps be found to help stave off a Pankan invasion of Earth. Time is not on their side, though, for the Pankans have a large number of aperture formers, called Apes by all alternities, while Earth has only three: Jan, Jani, and surprisingly, Friedman's daughter, Colleen. It is a situation where ultimate defeat seems inevitable but the Twins are just getting started. The Panks are becoming sorry they ever discovered our Earth until they find that the terrorism so rampant in our alternity suits their purposes perfectly, especially when they can use those terrorists who don't mind committing suicide. The Panks take terrorists back to their world then help them pop into our alternity armed with explosives all the way up to nuclear weapons. And besides the Pankans, General Bullock and the newly created Alternate Special Forces have to contend with a pacifist element in congress who block a declaration of war against Panka even after they assassinate our president. Only the Twins and Colleen may be able to stave off disaster until more American Apes can be discovered and trained, a far from easy task!
This first book is a prospective trilogy or series and includes the first two chapters of the next book, Apertures: Allies and Enemies.
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Double Dragon Publishing
January 21, 2011
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Excerpt from Apertures (Book One) by Darrell Bain
"What was that?" I asked, looking around. My gaze settled on Jani, my twin sister, rather than Colleen. Strange. Why would I look to my sister when a beautiful girl like Colleen was right beside me? An absolute doll I was hoping to get to know a lot better. I couldn't help it, though. Something odd had happened, like a tiny burst of sparkles in my mind that were bright for a moment, then faded but remained as a spot somewhere inside my head that felt distinctly peculiar. It was like a part of my mind I'd never used before had suddenly begun working. There was also a little tug in my awareness that was trying to find a focus. I found Jani staring back at me.
"I don't know," she said with a strange, puzzled expression that made her suddenly look lots older. A breeze kicked up and blew strands of her long wavy black hair into her face. She brushed it out of her eyes and peered in the direction where that odd touch in my mind had originated and was now making me aware of its source. Obviously Jani felt it, too. That wasn't unusual on the face of it, because we've always been close, occasionally seeming to be able to read each other's surface thoughts like old married couples sometimes do. We weren't old, though. Far from it, in fact. We were only eighteen and had graduated from high school a couple of months ago.
It was almost like we were connected together at that moment. Our attention became fixed simultaneously on an outcropping of rock about fifty yards away from the hiking trail that we were all spread out on. The feeling was similar to the way you can hardly avoid staring at someone with a bad handicap who suddenly comes into your line of sight, the kind of malady that makes a person really noticeable-like a hook in place of a hand or a badly disfigured face. Neither of us could help but stare in the direction our awareness was drawn to. There was no searching involved. We both pinpointed it immediately; the place was about thirty yards from the hiking trail we were on and at a higher elevation, where a slab of granite made a ledge of sorts big enough for several people to stand on and where another huge slab pushed up behind it. A secondary trail, made by goats most likely, curled around the area. Directly in front of the upright brown rock was an oval space about eight feet high and a bit more than half as wide.
The area was shimmery and blurred, at first, as if heat waves were rising from the ground in front of it, but that only lasted a moment. It was just our eyes adjusting to something we'd never seen before. The edges of the oval became clear and we could see into it, as if looking into a cave. The only thing wrong was that a cave should have been dark, and what we were seeing was a well-lighted trail leading off into the same sort of mountain brush and stunted, wind-twisted pi?on trees we had been traipsing through on our hike. The view led up and out of sight, as if the side of the mountain continued on the other side of the oval hole. We glanced again at each other, both of us puzzled and unable to explain what we were experiencing.
"Jan, what is it? What's wrong?" Colleen asked. She clutched my upper arm, seeking an explanation for the strange way I was acting. Her father, retired Sergeant Major Herbert Friedman, stood tautly on her other side, knowing something was wrong and ready for whatever might happen. He was the only one among us who carried a firearm, an old 1911A1 .45 caliber automatic pistol. His hand stole down toward the holster on his hip.
"I don't know," I said, turning my attention back to her. My voice probably didn't sound like it normally did. I usually speak in a baritone, maybe a bit deeper but not much. Not that it mattered because just then, Colleen's grip tightened to where it was almost painful.
"Jan, Look!" she hissed at the same time Jani said the same thing. Sergeant Friedman became even more alert. His gaze shifted around the area as if searching for an enemy soldier.
I didn't really need to turn my gaze from Colleen back to the oval opening. I could feel that spot in my mind becoming a little brighter and somehow I knew Jani was feeling it, too. I focused my attention in that direction anyway.
As if by magic, a man came into sight in the depths of the oval and stepped through it as if, for him, it were an opening from another world. He was normal enough in appearance, but his expression held a feral tenseness-and his hand, a gun-like he might be expecting trouble. He was dressed in rough brown hiking clothes not much different from our own, except for the rather large backpack. He took a quick glance downward, apparently to be sure of his footing, then waved his free hand and took a few steps forward. Three other men and two women followed close on his heels, all dressed in similar fashion and all armed with handguns, although some of them remained holstered.
Without any of us uttering another word, Colleen's father motioned us back behind some covering brush and out of sight. We got ourselves hidden just in time. The lead man, a big, heavily muscled fellow with a dark beard and a slight paunch, scanned the whole area by eyesight while the one behind him removed a pair of binoculars from a case slung over his shoulder and began slowly examining the more distant vistas. I knew he would be able to see the Jeep we'd ridden in up to where the trail began, and possibly he could even pick out the ranch where we were staying.
It was easy to see how cautious the members of the group were, as if they were explorers entering unknown territory where danger lurked around every bend of their trail, behind every bush and rock, ready to take them down without warning. Even though they were armed they didn't look like soldiers, or what I thought soldiers should look like. They were acting more like hunters, or like they were scouting for an outlaw on the run. And damn it, I could swear they were coming out of the oval aperture in front of the solid rock face of the huge granite boulder, moving in from the side and then stepping though it, but I knew that couldn't be right. It must be a cave, I thought but discarded the idea almost immediately, because at that moment the last of the group came through the opening-in the form of a tall blond woman-and the aperture blinked out of existence behind her. At the same time a little burst of something like electricity sparkled in my mind, and I knew instantly that the woman was the one who had not only caused the aperture to open, but who had closed it behind her when the group were all safely through it. I had no idea how I knew that, but there was no doubt in my mind. She was the one.
For a second I wondered insanely what would happen if she closed an aperture just as someone was stepping through it. Would it cut them in half? But I had only a moment to consider the frivolous idea, because at the instant I sensed her as being the person controlling the opening (and I assumed Jani did as well), she picked up on our presence, presumably, the same way we did. That crazy little sensation in the brain.
I had no idea what that meant right then, but Jani was a little ahead of me. She rubbed her temples and closed her eyes for a moment, then opened them wide. "Jan!" she cried, making no attempt at keeping her voice low because she knew the woman had already trained her attention on us. She was pointing in our direction and saying something to the big man with the paunch.
Friedman interrupted whatever Jani intended to say. "What's going on, kids? Who the hell are those people? How are they doing that?" he asked in his deep gravelly voice. He had his pistol out. He wasn't pointing it yet, but I heard a snick sound as he took the safety off.
"I think we need to get out of here," I said. There was something about that tall blonde I didn't like at all. I didn't know why, though. I could tell Jani didn't care for her either. But at the same time, I thought there was something about her that resonated with me and my twin sister, almost like we knew each other. No, that wasn't right. It was like we knew each other's type, the kind of person all three of us were.
The woman obviously thought so, too. " Gut Gott!" she exclaimed loudly. "It's Ape Twins!" I could practically see the capitals on her last two spoken words.
While I was still wondering what the heck she meant by calling me and Jani apes, one of the men with her raised his gun.
She cursed and knocked it out of his hand. "Don't hurt them, you fool!" When the man stared blankly at his empty hand she cursed again, using some words I'd hardly ever heard from ladies and some I'd never heard before because they were in a foreign language. But I guess she wasn't a lady, and I could have been mistaken about some of the words. She was speaking English, but with a peculiar accent and with words I didn't recognize. It was kind of like the German my dad spoke occasionally when he was irritated about something. He'd picked it up from being stationed in Europe while he was in the army. "Don't just stand there, you focking idiots!" she shouted. "Go get them! Carefully! Don't hurt the Twapes!"
"Mr. Friedman!" I said, grabbing at Friedman's shoulder. "It's the woman! She's causing all this! Get her!" I don't know what I expected him to do. Shoot her? All I knew was that she intended to make trouble for us.
"Shoot her!" Jani said. She always was more direct than me, and she was plainly frightened. Well, so was I for that matter, mainly because I had no earthly idea what was happening, nor why she was calling us apes, nor why she wanted her companions to get us. I may not be the best looking guy around, but I don't think I resemble an ape, either. And no one could mistake Jani for one. She was tall, well-formed, and just short of beautiful. If she weren't my sister I might have thought she was beautiful.
"Why should I shoot her?" Friedman asked, puzzled.
I kind of doubt if he would have got around his objections to gunning down a strange woman who so far hadn't really done anything to us, but the woman made a mistake. She raised her pistol and fired at him. And then she made a second mistake: She missed; but not intentionally. Just because the woman didn't want us hurt obviously didn't mean she had any objections to anything bad happening to Colleen or her dad. I heard the bullet zing past but Friedman was already ducking. It passed over his head and shattered a branch of a stunted pine growing almost sideways out of the slope.
Time seemed to slow as Friedman raised his old .45 and took aim, but he fired before she got off another shot. I never knew an old pistol like that packed such a punch. The bullet blew a chunk of fabric and flesh out of her upper thigh. Blood spurted from the wound. Her leg collapsed and she fell, screaming. She dropped her gun and clutched her thigh with both hands. More blood spurted up between her fingers.
" Helfen sie!" she called to her companions. They had headed down into a small gully separating them from the trail we were on when she had ordered them to grab us. Now they turned and ran back the other way. They gathered around their wounded leader. An aperture flickered into being beside her, but it wavered and died as the woman slumped in the arms of the man holding her upper body. Her head lolled limply. I guessed she had lost consciousness from the pain and trauma of her wound. The big man with the paunch got a tourniquet around her thigh, and was holding it tight. The other woman shrugged out of her backpack. She opened it up and fumbled at the contents inside. It looked like she was holding a syringe, but from that distance I couldn't tell for sure. One of the men looked our way and fired toward us with his pistol, but he had purposely aimed high. A warning shot, telling us to leave them alone?
That was all it took to get us moving. Or, rather, for Mister Friedman to get us moving.
"Go!" he commanded. His voice was flat and forceful. "Let's get out of here before she comes around and sends the others after us."
I had felt a weakening of that peculiar sensation in my mind when the blond woman lost consciousness, but it never went completely away. The feeling I got made me doubt she would be in any condition to create an aperture to take her and her minions back to wherever they came from, any time soon. I said so, even though I couldn't explain why just then.
Friedman looked at me sharply. "Others may come in their place," he said simply, and I realized he was right. This scared me. For the first time in my life I was involved in something much bigger than myself, and much more dangerous than, say, hiking on a trail where you might take a fall, or running into a tough opponent on the mat during a karate match and maybe breaking a bone. It shook me.
Under the old sergeant's urging we began stumbling back down the hiking trail, going as fast as we could safely move, retreating the way we'd come and heading toward where we'd left the Jeep. Even if some more of those armed scouts, or whatever the hell they were, appeared at the same place as the others, we had a bit of an advantage because there was that wide, brush-filled gully separating the trail we were on from where they had come out of the aperture the woman created. They were also higher up on the mountain and obviously in strange territory, while we knew the trail, or at least Colleen and her dad did. We soon were several miles from the Jeep and the ranch, which was located along the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies.