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First pages

Chapter One

Jack jogged along the Mississippi, glad to be out from work after another boring day at Keokuk’s newspaper, the Iowan. As a barge glided by, a streak of light crossed the sky. The reddish light was brighter and nearer than any shooting star he’d ever seen.

Stopping dead in his tracks, Jack watched the ball of fire speed closer to his small town. As it neared, he feared it would crash into a neighborhood and willed it to splash in the river. Jack prayed as the object crashed into the earth with a thud. He turned on his heels and headed to his car, calculating a possible landing site.

Jack skidded to a stop and ran toward a small column of smoke rising from a freshly plowed field. An acrid smell burned his nostrils, slowing his approach to a walk. Straining under the moonlit sky, Jack studied what looked to be a basketball-sized rock, half submerged in the black soil, as the plume of smoke quickly dissipated into wisps. Jack inched forward as the last of the smoke vanished.

Bent over, Jack studied the rock’s craggy face and reached out, hanging his palm over it. The rock had cooled but, though he wanted to touch it, he refrained. Toeing the soil around its edges, Jack uncovered a bit more of the strange arrival. Feeling as if he were nosing around the boss’s office, he stepped back.

Jack slowly scanned the sky. Nothing more. He surveyed the area as questions mounted. Why is no one else out here? Am I the only one to witness this? Where did this come from? Was there a meaning to this?

He took a series of photos with his cell phone and made a call.

“Laura! You’re never gonna believe what I just saw. There was this ball of fire in the sky that crashed right off Middle Road.”

“A ball of fire?”

“I think it’s probably a meteorite. I saw this streak of light, it was super bright, like a giant shooting star. Then, as it got closer you could see it was really a ball of fire.”

“That sounds scary.”

“Yeah, I was afraid it might crash into a house or something.

It ended up landing in a field out past Brookshire Estates. I took pictures, wait till you see them.”

“Sounds like this would make a nice story.”

“That’s what I’m thinking. It’s nothing big, but I certainly didn’t get a journalism degree from Columbia to do obituaries. I’ll see you at the office tomorrow.”

***

The Iowan’s newsroom was a miniature version of a big city paper’s, but without the buzz Jack longed for. He was at his desk and could smell Laura before she turned the corner. 

She tussled his fine, black hair. “You still grumpy?”

“Sorry, just frustrated. I’m twenty-seven, and look what I’m doing—obituaries and pet stories. I’ll be sixty before I get to do anything investigative.”

“You’ll get there. What happened about doing something on what you saw?”

Jack gave a thumbs-down. “Susan said I’d have to ask Mr. Riley.”

“Oh boy. Well, it’s Thursday, and he’ll be back from vacation on Monday.”

“I’m bored out of my mind. Only a single obit to write and I just can’t get excited about the Lee County Kennel Club.”

“Hang in there.”

Jack whispered, “I’m going to start looking for another job.”

Laura put a finger to her lips, then said, “See you later. I’ve got to run to a meeting.”

“You running tonight?”

“Absolutely, no way I’m missing two days in a row.”

***

Jack got home from the gym just after noon on Saturday. He tossed his mail on the counter and flicked on the TV. Popping a bowl of faro and peas in the microwave, a story about organ harvesting caught his attention. Jack couldn’t help feeling envious as the anchorman gushed about the two million lives saved worldwide last year by artificially growing organs for transplant. The story ended with a short interview with the head of what had been an experimental program. The doctor explained that the technique was perfected in a laboratory, had gone commercial in 2024, and was now considered routine.

Jack bemoaned that the breakthrough had come too late for his grandfather, who needed a liver, but he felt a surge of optimism for his grandmother when he realized he hadn’t called her yesterday. The microwave beeped as Jack took his cell out.

“Hey, Grams.”

“Hi, John John.”

Jack cringed. She was the only one he allowed to call him John John.

“How’s the weather up there?”

Jack’s grandmother was in Providence, Rhode Island, where she raised him after his parents had been killed in a Boston office fire that raised more questions than the people it killed.

“Pretty nice today. So how’s my reporter grandson doing out in Iowa?”

“I’m okay, and you?”

“Pretty good, for an old lady. What have you been doing?”

“Hey, you know what? The other night I was jogging, and there was a streak of what looked like fire coming down from the sky. It was scary looking.”

“Oh, my.”

“I first thought it might’ve been a UFO.”

“Oh, come on, John John, you don’t believe in aliens, do you?”

Jack laughed. “Anyway, it turned out to have been a meteor. The first thing I remembered was when you took me to the planetarium. They had meteorites and even some moon rocks, remember?”

“Like it was yesterday. You were about ten. We had some good times, John John.”

“And plenty more to come, Grams.”

“I hope so. How’s work? Writing any big stories?”

“I wish. It’s been slow the last couple of days. Strange, to be frank.”

“Strange?”

“Well, it’s probably nothing, but normally we have like three or four deaths a day here in and around Lee County, but the last two days we haven’t had any. Nobody died.”

“When you get to be my age, that’s not strange, that’s what we seniors call hope.”

“You’ll be around for a long while, Grams. I’m counting on it.”

“From your lips to God’s ear. What’ve you been doing at the paper then?”

“Since it’s been slow, they have me writing silly pet stories. But I’m going to see about doing a story on the meteorite.”

“That’s a wonderful idea. How’s your girlfriend Laura?”

“She’s good. She’s coming over later.”

“I like her, she’s really nice. Be a good one to settle down with.”

“Hey, Grams, can we talk tomorrow?”

“Sure, John John.”

Jack took his lunch out of the microwave and tucked into the bowl, wondering where the meteor had come from. When a story came on about how self-driving cars have dramatically reduced fatalities on the nation’s roadways, he put his spoon down and pulled out his cell.

“Memorial General.”

“Mary in admin, please.”

“This is Mary.”

“Hi Mary, It’s Jack, from the Iowan.”

“Oh, hi there, Jack. Working on a Saturday?”

“I’m home. Just checking in. Have there been any deaths to report?”

“Nope, and that’s almost three days in a row.”

“Strange, isn’t it?”

“Guess so. I’ve been here since 2025, and it’s certainly never happened before.”

Chapter Two

The Iowan’s low man on the totem pole walked into Bud Riley’s cramped office.

“Morning, Mr. Riley, hope you had a nice vacation.”

“Morning, Jack. How many times have I got to tell you, it’s Bud, not Mr. Riley?”

Jack nodded.

“You should put some meat on that frame, Jack, stop running so much. You get sick, you’ll have no reserves to fight with.”

“I enjoy jogging. Gives me a chance to clear my head.”

“Enjoy exercising? That’s a first for me. What’s up?”

“Well, I don’t know if you’re aware, but there are no obits to write again . . .”

Riley wagged his head.

“Really unusual. That makes it, what, two, three days?”

“Four, actually. Anyway, as you probably know, Susan has me doing some human-interest stories, well, they’re just pet stories, and I’m wondering if you’d let me do a story on the meteorite that hit here a couple of nights ago.”

Riley leaned back in his chair. “You’re not going off on any UFO angle here, are you?”

“No, no. Just want to write about where it landed, the size of it, how big it started out. Those types of things.”

Riley pawed his chin as Jack added, “Also, things like who’s examining it, and what they hope to learn from it.”

“Sounds interesting.”

“So, I can do it?”

“Sure.”

“Thanks, Mr. Riley, uh, Bud. I really appreciate it.”

“Get moving.”

Jack headed for the door when Riley said, “And Jack, don’t get too technical with it. We’re not a science journal.”

“Don’t worry, Mr. Riley, I won’t.”

Jack sang to every song on the radio as he drove toward Davenport. He stopped crooning when he realized this was still a two-bit story, but resumed singing when he realized he was out of the office on a story idea he’d come up with.

Ten minutes into the drive he made a call.

“Hi, Grandma.”

“Oh, John John. Is something wrong?”

He wasn’t letting a name ruin his day.

“No, everything’s good, in fact, better than good. I just wanted to tell you, remember I was telling you about the meteor?”

“Yes.”

“Well, guess who’s doing a story on it?”

“See, I told you, don’t give up.”

“I know. I won’t. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know I was heading up to Davenport, and I promised to call you. So, just in case I get back too late—”

“Don’t worry about me, John John. You concentrate on your job. I can’t wait to read the story. You’ll let me know?”

“Sure thing. Anyway, I’m driving, so I’ll talk to you soon.”

 

Jack drove onto the St. Ambrose University campus and parked next to the Galileo Building. Surveying the small, red brick building tempered the expectations he’d built on the drive.

Pushing through the door, Jack entered a long, narrow laboratory dominated by a large telescope. Four students and an animated professor were hunched around a table. Jack cleared his throat and a student tapped the professor. The instructor waved Jack over.

“May I assume you’re the reporter from the newspaper?”

Jack stuck his hand out. “Jack Amato, nice to meet you, Professor Stringer.”

“Likewise. Everyone, this is Jack. He’s from the, uh . . .”

Iowan, the Iowan. We’re out of Keokuk, where the asteroid landed, but we have statewide circulation.”

“Jack wants to do an article on this beauty.” Stringer beamed as he pointed to a craggy, black hunk of rock. Stringer checked his watch. “Let’s call it a day.”

The students left, and Jack circled the table. The meteorite looked much different than when it was half submerged in soil. Jack tried to recall the meteorites he’d seen almost twenty years ago. This one seemed larger and was irregular in shape. As he circled, parts of the meteorite shimmered, reflecting the lights overhead.

Jack studied a couple of chips that had been shaved off and laid on a corner of the plastic sheet covering the table.

“You can touch them. They’re not dangerous.”

Jack fingered a guitar-pick-shaped piece and felt silly when he brought it up to his nose and sniffed. The only scent he detected was a smokiness he surmised came from it burning up.

“Good idea to smell it, but I’m afraid you won’t like the taste of it. A bit too metallic for me.” Stringer laughed.

“It’s kinda hard to believe this came from somewhere out there.”

“That’s one of the easier things we try to determine. Most asteroids lie in a vast ring between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars. There’s about a million of them there alone.”

“A million? Wow.”

“The universe is vast indeed.”

Jack pointed at the rock and tapped on his phablet. “So, this came from the belt between Mars and Jupiter?”

“We’re not sure. We’ve found some mineral characteristics that mirror those we’ve found before, but there are significant amounts of elements we haven’t quite nailed down.”

“Oh, when do you expect to know that?”

“We’re still doing an accounting of what we find, and then we’ll run it against NASA’s database. It won’t take more than a few days or a week at most.”

Jack quickly decided the mystery would help the article.

“No problem. I’d like to get some background on you, professor. How long have you been studying astronomy, and how much of that time here at St. Ambrose?”

“Astronomy is a calling for me. It’s all I’ve known and wanted to do my entire life. I’m nearly sixty now, and I’ve been calling St. Ambrose my home for the past twenty years.”

“It’s hard to believe you’re almost sixty. You seem to have so much energy.”

“That’s because I love my job, young man. Besides, this meteorite really seems to have me excited.”

“Professor, what exactly are meteorites?”

“They’re minor planets.”

“Planets?”

“Yes, planets, but minor ones that come in a number of shapes and sizes. Some of them are quite large. Remember, when they transit through Earth’s atmosphere they burn up and get smaller as they get closer to Earth.”

“This one isn’t quite round. Is that unusual?”

“Not at all. It’s important to note that when an asteroid falls out of its orbit and crashes into Earth it becomes a meteorite.”

“So this is a meteorite, not an asteroid?”

“Yes, yes, of course. I’ll show you some pictures of the belt and you can get a sense of the variety.” The professor took off for another room in the building.

Bingo! Jack decided on the spot to lead with the differentiation and scurried after the professor.

They sat on stools next to a teacher-student pair who were looking at images from the Hubble spacecraft. Jack was taken by how surreal, almost phony, they looked. Professor Stringer directed Jack’s attention to the asteroid belt, and Jack was quickly mesmerized by the images.

“Wow. Is there a way I can get one of these for the article?”

“I don’t see why not. They’re in the public domain.”

As the professor paged to another image, Jack overheard the couple talking about a star dying. Then the teacher said something that nearly knocked Jack off his stool.

“Excuse me for interrupting, but I couldn’t help overhearing. Did you say your husband works at Genesis Medical Center and that there’s been no deaths at the hospital for the last three days?”

“Uh, yes. Strange, isn’t it?”

“Where does he work in the hospital?”

“He’s the head of palliative care.”

“Thanks. Sorry to bother you.”

Jack swiveled to Professor Stringer. “Professor, it’s getting late, and I’ve got to get back to Keokuk. You’ve given me a real education, and I’m grateful for your time today.”

“So soon? We’ve barely scratched the surface.”

Jack got off his stool. “Yes, yes. I’ve got more than enough. If I need anything else, I’ll let you know.”

Jack hopped in his car and made a call before he pulled out of his space.

“I’m sorry to ask, but can you connect me with whoever is responsible for the proper handling of the passing of your patients?”

“Did you have a problem, sir?”

“No, no, um, my aunt’s there, and I just have a question or two about what happens, you know, in the event.”

“I understand. I’ll connect you with Tom Whiting.”

“Hello, Mr. Whiting, my name’s Jack Amato, and I’m a reporter with the Iowan.”

“Whiting’s not in. With things pretty quiet around here, he took the afternoon off.”

“Um. Look, I know it may sound silly, but were there any deaths at the hospital the last three days?”

“Well, as a matter of fact, we’ve hadn’t had any passing in a couple of days. Been weird, you know?”

“That’s what I heard. Can you tell me how many hospitals are in the Davenport area?”

“Let’s see, we have two, and Trinity has three. And there’s a hospital for special types of surgery, like joint replacements.”

“Have you heard of any deaths at those facilities?”

“You know, a couple of hours ago, I was talking to my counterpart in our place in Silvis, and she said they’d hadn’t had any either.”

“Silvis, that’s in Illinois, right?

“Yeah, Illinois.”

“How far is that from the Davenport?”

“I’d say it’s about fifteen to twenty miles.”

“Thanks, you’ve been helpful.”

Jack got back on Route 61 and headed toward Keokuk. Mind reeling, he tried to keep things in context while exploring a connection between the meteorite and the sudden pause in people dying. It had to be a coincidence, he realized, and started to frame out the article he would write on the asteroid-meteorite that he’d originally set out to do.

During a rest stop, Jack pulled his cell out to check his emails, and the screen defaulted to the Google Map overview of his trip. The pinpoints of the cities and towns along the path popped off the screen, poking him. Jack scrolled through his calls and hit the redial button.

“Professor Stringer? It’s Jack, from the Iowan. Can you tell me what route was taken when you moved the asteroid from Keokuk to Davenport?”

“Sure. A couple of students and I took Route 61. It’s the most direct. Jack, please remember, it’s a meteorite for your piece, otherwise anyone who took a class in astronomy wouldn’t take it seriously.”

Jack thanked the professor and looked at some of the larger towns: Muscatine, Fort Madison, Wapello, and Roseville. Walking back to his car, Jack decided he couldn’t drive and call all the hospitals servicing the towns along the route and settled on another plan.

He sat in his car and began checking the obituary webpages of the various newspapers covering the Davenport area. First one he checked was the Quad-City Times, covering areas in both Iowa and the bordering cities in Illinois. He slowly scrolled the page, squeezing the data out like a poker player. There were no obituaries. Jack let his breath out and looked out the windshield. Could it be no one has realized what’s happening but me?

Jack checked the website for the Dispatch, which had recorded a death from an auto accident. Jack hit the steering wheel with his palm. Well, it was a crazy idea, he thought. He turned the ignition on and was about to pocket his cell when he thought, Why not check out one more?

He checked the Star Courier, which had plenty of ads for funeral homes on its obituary page, but no new obituaries. Jack then went to a couple of the weekly papers like the North Scott Press, the Erie Review, and the Aledo Times Record. All of their obituary pages were filled with deaths, but they’d all occurred before the meteorite crashed into Keokuk.

Jack gripped the wheel to steady his hands. After quieting a stream of thoughts, Jack Googled the Chicago Tribune and was greeting with over fifty new obituaries. He stared at the results before getting back on the highway.

Jack pushed the speed limit as he began composing an article in his head.

Chapter Three

Up late researching and writing, Jack missed his nightly run and took a jog in the morning, arriving late for work.

“Hey, Jack, Bud wants to see you.”

“Okay, Sue, let me get settled.”

“Said to get you right away, as soon as you got in.” She wagged her finger. “Has Jack been a bad boy?”

Jack slid through a partially open door.

“Mr. Riley? Susan said you were looking for me.”

His boss slapped down the Iowan’s morning edition and flipped it to Jack’s article.

“You crazy or something, kid? I told you I didn’t want any UFO nonsense.”

“Uh, it’s got nothing to do with UFOs, Mr. Ril—”

“You’re a big city boy, Jack.”

Jack thought—I’m from Providence, that qualifies as a big city?—as his boss continued.

“Out here in Iowa, we’re a sensible lot of folk. We’re a God-fearing community who don’t latch onto a, a, what do you call it, a phenomenon. I mean, just look at this headline.” Riley pointed to ‘Asteroid or Meteorite? Miracle Rock or Hunk of Space Debris?’

“I wanted to catch people’s attention. But the article doesn’t speculate on—”

“Not speculating? Did you forget what you wrote?” Riley picked up the paper. “Here, second paragraph, ‘Almost simultaneously with the arrival of the meteorite there been a pause in natural deaths in Keokuk and its surrounding areas. Is there something larger happening or just a coincidence?’ And here toward the end, ‘Did the craggy-faced, ominously colored boulder fall out of the sky, or was it directed by something other than gravity?’”

“Just trying to engage the reader, Mr. Riley.”

“Look, kid, you had a lot of good information in the article. I’m all for reader engagement, but I have to tell you, if I’d seen it before it went to press, it would’ve looked a lot different.” He pounded a finger into the desktop. “This is not the National Enquirer. Understand?”

Jack suppressed a smile and nodded.

“Now keep that in mind and start on a follow-up, but you have to run it by me first. Got that?”

Jack smelled Laura before she got to his desk and thought if there was a scent dictionary, her picture would be next to the word springtime.

“Susan said you were in some trouble with the boss. Everything okay?”

Jack smiled. “Sure, everything’s fine. Riley’s just an old-school newsman. What he calls speculation, I call investigation. You see the article?”

“Of course, first thing I read this morning. It’s fantastic.”

“Don’t get carried away now.”

“No, really Jack. It’s something you should be proud of. It makes the reader think.”

Jack leaned over and lowered his voice. “Well, it certainly looks like there’s plenty to think about.”

“Jack, your brown eyes really light up when you’re excited. Tell me, what’s going on?”

“I’ve been a bit anal. You know how I can get. I’ve been checking with hospitals and funeral parlors. There’s been a few deaths, but they’re all from nasty accidents or violence. Natural deaths or death from sicknesses has somehow stopped. I just don’t get why no one sees the pattern here.”

“Maybe because some are dying from accidents?”

“Maybe. I could use some help as I’m putting together a follow-up for the next edition.”

“I’d love to help. It sounds like fun.”

Jack obsessively called the area hospitals and funeral homes just about every hour as he tapped away at his keyboard. When he finished the piece, he printed a copy. Jack read it slowly, and as he marked it up he caught a scent of Laura.

“What’ve you got for me?”

“I checked Chicago, L.A., New York, Houston.” She glanced at her notes. “Miami, Tampa, St. Louis, Vegas, San Fran, and Seattle. Everything seems normal.”

“Did you compare rates of death from last month?”

“There’s some variance. In some cities there are fewer dying, but in more cities than not, there are actually more deaths than average.”

“Well, with Chicago and all the murders in the mix, it’s not surprising.”

Laura put a hand on Jack’s shoulder. “What’s all of this mean, Jack? What do you think is going on?”

***

Jack marched into Riley’s office, and as his boss picked his head up, Jack held his new article out. Riley took it and sighed at the headline.

“A bit dramatic, isn’t it? ‘Meteorite Hits Pause Button on Death.’”

Riley nodded toward a chair, and Jack took a seat.

“Let’s call it catchy.”

Riley breezed through the article and set it down. He held Jack’s gaze and then beckoned with his hand. “Facts. I need facts, and they’ve got to be on the money, Jack.”

Jack leaned toward the desk. “Ever since the meteorite hit in Keokuk, no one has died. That’s five days ago. Best estimate is the radius of the death-free zone is fifteen to twenty miles of wherever the meteorite has been.”

Riley slammed a palm on his desk. “Outright speculation!”

“Please hold on, Mr. Riley. It hit right here in Keokuk, and fact is, no one’s died here or in its radius. That’s public knowledge that anyone can check. Yeah, it could have been a coincidence, but the meteor was moved to Davenport, and guess what? Not only has natural death stopped in Davenport and the fifteen or so miles around it, but also along the route the meteor was driven.”

“This sounds like science fiction.”

“I know it sounds offbeat—”

“Offbeat? It’s crazy. We print this, and they’ll think I’ve lost my mind.”

“Please, Mr. Riley, we’ve got to go with it. This could be a huge story.”

“I don’t like it.”

“Look, let’s go line by line, and you show me where I’m off base or not supported by facts, and we’ll cut it.”

Riley let the article go to press with only minor editing. Jack held fast on the title, but allowed a question mark to be added.

‘Meteorite Hits Pause Button on Death?’ was relegated to the third page, but that didn’t stop it from attracting the attention of Manny Alexander.

Chapter Four

 “Is this Jack?”

“Yes.”

“Hi, this is Manny Alexander, of the Associated Press.”

Associated Press? Jack jumped out of his chair.

“Yeah, the AP. Say, did you write that piece on the meteor alone?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Heck’uva piece, Jack.”

“Thanks.”

“Well, we’d really like to run it. In syndication, that is.”

“Syn, syndication?”

“Yes, sir. Of course, you’ll be compensated, according to the circulation formulas and all.”

“I don’t know what to say.”

“You don’t have to say anything but yes.”

“Sure.”

“I’ll send over the releases you’ll need to sign before we can run with it. If you don’t mind, can you do it pronto? I’d really like to get this out ASAP.”

“No problem.”

“Great, and Jack, if you got any more of this, we’d really like to work with you on it.”

Jack gave him his contact information and called Laurie and his grandmother with the surprising news.

The AP’s run of Jack’s article was carried by many of the Midwestern newspapers, including majors like the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Detroit Free Press, and the Star Tribune out of Minneapolis.

One of the readers of the Tribune was on the board of Adler Planetarium, America’s oldest planetarium. The board member saw the opportunity to drive attendance through the roof and raise donations if they could exhibit the meteorite in Chicago. He received permission from the board, quickly struck a deal to share some of the revenue with St. Ambrose University, and arranged to transport the meteorite from Davenport to the Windy City.

Professor Stringer was annoyed when he learned he would be losing the ability to study the mass and called Jack.

“Jack, did you hear?”

“What’s going on?”

“The big shots up at Adler made a deal to take the meteor from me.”

“Adler? What’s that?”

“An old planetarium in Chicago. Nothing against them. They do a great job educating the public with their exhibits, but this smells. St. Ambrose is giving them the meteor in exchange for a cut of the attendance. They didn’t even tell me.”

“But you’re the head of the department, how could they–”

“Said most of the money we receive from the deal was going to go into our building. The bean counters didn’t think I’d mind. Geez, I’m a damn scientist, I don’t give a hoot about money!”

“When’s this going to happen?”

“I understand a darn truck is on the way already.”

Jack hurried the professor off the phone and headed for Riley’s office.

“Boss, I’m heading up to Chicago.”

“Chicago? That’s a bit out of our territory.”

“They’re moving the meteor. I gotta follow this.”

“Hold on, Jack, calm down. Who’s moving what?

“A planetarium in Chicago.”

“Adler?”

“Yeah, that’s the one. Anyway, Adler struck a deal with St. Ambrose. They’d get the meteor to display and would share some of the admission money with the university.”

“And why’s this the Iowan’s business?”

“Oh, come on, Mr. Riley. Can’t you see? If this is something big. If this thing has some miracle buried in it, we’d be the ones who discovered it!”

Riley pushed back in his chair. “Sit down, Jack.”

“I can’t. I gotta go.”

Riley pointed at Jack and then at a chair, prompting Jack to collapse into a seat.

“Look, Jack, let’s take a moment to come back to earth, okay? Before I let you run up to Chicago I want to know what the plan is, what’s the angle?”

“That’s the thing, Mr. Riley. I’m not sure where this is going. I wanna see if the meteor has the same effect as it did here. If it does, we got the biggest story since Jesus’s resurrection.”

Riley frowned.

“And if it turns out, like I suspect, that it’s just another chunk of rock from space, what then?”

“I’ll write a story about the Keokuk meteor that was so popular it was on exhibit in Chicago, et cetera, et cetera.”

“You got it all figured out, kid, don’t you?”

Jack shrugged.

Riley said, “What are you waiting for? Chicago’s over four hours away.”

Jack bolted upright and headed out the door, saying, “Thanks, Mr. Riley, you won’t regret it, I promise.”

***

“Laura, the meteor’s being moved. I’m heading to Chicago.”

“Moved? Why?”

“It’s going on exhibit at Adler Planetarium, and I’m going.”

“Can I come with you?”

“I’d love to have you, you know that. Just, you know, Riley gave me a really hard time, and besides, I need you to do a couple of things for me.”

Laura frowned.

“Look, what I need you to do is really important, in fact critical if we’re going to get the jump on the story before the big boys do.”

Laura’s pout disappeared as Jack explained.

“Stay in touch with Professor Stringer. We’ve got to get the exact time the meteor’s leaving Davenport. Call me when you know.”

“Sure.”

“Now comes the critical part. The only sensible route into Chicago is to take Route 80 into 88. You’ve got to keep checking with the towns, not all of them, just the larger ones, along the way to Chicago. See if the phenomenon happens there, too.”

“Jack, I’ve got an idea. Why not just focus on the first fifty miles or so? It’ll be easier, and we’d find out sooner if it was happening again.”

Jack grabbed her head and planted a big kiss on her lips.


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

Dan is married with two daughters and a very needy Maltese. He enjoys researching, exploring and writing about subjects that grab his interest and as a curious person, there is no shortage of material that grab his eye. The Final Enemy is Dan's fifth book and he is presently working on two other projects. Dan is passionate about wine and jazz and he plays the tenor sax in a couple of jazz ensembles.

Q. Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from this book?
A.
Jake Gyllenhall
Q. What books are you reading now?
A.
I read a fairly wide spectrum of books including mysteries, crime fiction and occasionally a biography. I have been making to sure to cover the classics that i either have missed or read too long ago. Currently, I am re-reading the Count of Monte Cristo and am thoroughly enjoying it.
Q. Why do you write?
A.
The simple answer is I have to. I have a lot of story ideas running around between my ears and enjoy spending time figuring out plot lines and resolutions to issues in a story. As any writer will tell you, it can often be frustrating and difficult to actually write but if you are compelled....

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Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
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A modern witch hunt with tragic consequences
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