The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 29

Yet one more not completely brand new. Pieces from previous chapters rearranged and edited for story flow and continuity.

I’ve learned to live with such things. Hope you can, too.


The Alibi – Chapter 29

Cranston grabbed the railing as he jogged up the stairs to Precinct House 17. He may have been a linebacker in college, but that was thirty-five years ago and now he needed to pull himself up inclines when he jogged them.
He snapped his hand back as if he touched a high-tension line.
The railing was shaking?

Sure, ’17 was one of the oldest precinct houses in Boston, still brick-and-mortar as they say, and with wide-paneled hardwood floors and high ceilings and big fans hanging down because putting AC in a building about to be decommissioned was a waste of tax dollars, but that decommissioning order had been on the books for twenty years Cranston knew of. The city discovered it would cost more to put up a new precinct house rather than get rid of this old one, but somehow the money set aside for a new precinct house never made it into a working AC system.

Cranston made it a point to dig deep whenever he had to investigate a city or state official. He was going to write a book once he retired and call it “Fuckers I Have Known.”

Old or not, ’17 was still solid. Granite anchored the railings. They could shake? Like that?

He looked up and down the street. No fifty-three foot TT or heavy construction vehicles in sight, but dogs barked and pulled on their leashes. Pigeons, robins, and starlings took flight. The leaves on sidewalk maples, willows, and elms shivered as if chilled by a late October wind.

He touched the railing tentatively, one finger stretched forward, his body slightly turned and ready to pull away.


He shrugged and continued up the stairs. The desk sergeant looked up and nodded as he entered.

Cranston returned her nod. “You feel that?”

The desk sergeant shook her head. “Feel what?”

Cranston continued up the next flight to the offices. Leddy’s ring on his mobile stopped him at the doors to the precinct’s central office.


He went cold. Something happened to Leddy. That’s what he felt that nobody else felt.

Her ring again. “U OK?”

Cold yielded to confusion. “K U?”

The precinct’s wall mounted blues flashed ON-ON-off ON-ON-off. Chairs screeched across the hardwood floor.

Leddy TXTed “C THS?” and Cranston’s attention returned to his phone. Leddy sent her video through. “SIMON GOT IT ALL!”

She’d sent him pictures at every stage of SIMON’s development and had them made into a tshirt collage with the heading “Leddy’s Little Project.” She gave them to her friends, people on their street, people on the subway, and a 4XL for him.

She loved it.


SIMON’s cameras moved through hazy clouds flecked with ash. Cranston wasn’t sure what he was seeing until the drone cleared the clouds. It flew just above street level and revealed the clouds as billowing smoke.


“BPL Johnson w Pen.”

Captain Marete opened the central office door. “Bill. SkyHook just blew up. We need all hands on deck.”

Cranston followed Marete back into the office. Most uniforms and plainclothes had their mobiles in one hand, their landlines in the other, and held two or more conversations at once checking up on allies and reassuring family. A small group stood by the east facing windows. A puff of smoke seemed to hover above their heads before slowly dispersing.

Somebody called out, “Channel 5’s got it already.”

Cranston glanced at the wall screen. “That’s Leddy’s feed.”

Marete looked up from his phones. “Your daughter got this?”

Leddy’s TXT dinged in Cranston’s hand. “SLD 2 NTWRKS!”


A uniform at a far desk announced, “4 and 7’s got it. And NECN.”

Another uniform added, “So do Fox and the CW.”

Marete snorted. “Busy girl you got there. Maybe UAS should hire her. She got there faster than our own drones did. Tell her we’ll want that video. And anything else she got.”

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The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 28

Another not completely brand new chapter. Pieces from previous chapters rearranged and edited for story flow and continuity. Again.

As noted previously, I’ve learned to live with such things. Hope you can, too.


The Alibi – Chapter 28

Thorne let the Lady Eglesia‘s systems bring it into the harbor while she dozed on the deck, barely moving from where she slept through the night. She headed out to deep water after hallucinating being back home and visited by the Wergaia mythical water being, the Bunyip, and assumed overwork and stress.

But her hallucinations were becoming more frequent. She’d been visited by Galaru Snakes and Wadjinas, Rain People, several times since then, and it didn’t matter how much work or play or sex she’d had, they persisted.

She wondered. Maybe they weren’t hallucinations after all? Usually a quick trip home cured such things. She’d take SkyHook’s corporate jet and be there and back in four day’s time. One day to get there, two days with her people, one day to get back.

But her last trip home she visited the Mandjilwa, a traditional Sickness Dreaming place, despite warnings from her father’s people.

That trip took a week. She left Shaul in charge, not her next-in-command but capable never-the-less.

The Eglesia‘s alarms sounded. A shoreside distress signal. Somebody breaking into SkyHook HQ and caught in her team’s latest tech gadgets?

She sighed and her eyes fluttered open to the Boston skyline, the morning sun at her back.

A man bobbed in front of her boat about fifty yards out. Like her, he focused on the Boston skyline.

The man turned towards the Eglesia as if suddenly realizing it was there. The sunlight shone off the water making him difficult to see.

Thorne shaded her eyes then opened them wide. “What the – ”

It wasn’t a man. Same shape, same outline, but not human.

Her mobile alarmed.

The thing in the water dove and was gone.

Thorne read the message on her mobile. She shaded her eyes and looked towards SkyHook HQ.

A cloud of gray smoke climbed the thirty story Innovation Square tower. Swirls of denser smoke pulled and pushed the cloud up the side of the building like some Ngolngol King Kong, a Cyclone Wind Spirit larger than she’d ever seen before, waving its arms and legs.

Previous entries in The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery)

The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 27

No, not completely brand new. Pieces from previous chapters rearranged and edited for story flow and continuity.

I’ve learned to live with such things. Hope you can, too.


The Alibi – Chapter 27

Rexall Shaul stood quietly at the top of thirty flights of stairs. He made it through antoher day without suspicion. As before, he was the last one to leave the offices.

But he hadn’t left the building yet.

And Thorne was a nasty bitch when fucked with. She didn’t like being out of the loop. Any loop.

Her he could handle. Her and five or six of her people? Not so much.

He received word the NXS had gone active but he didn’t know where. Somewhere along the Atlantic shelf, he suspected but couldn’t be sure.

He hadn’t seen any more ghosts since close to a month ago.

He hadn’t heard any Beatles, either. That cleaning crew quit a few days later.


He handed it off for others to handle.

He’d discretely pumped Thorne about any new tech SkyHook had in the works. Nothing. And he knew her tells. She was good, he was better.

He missed the Beatles music and smiled. That cleaning crew really had a thing for the Yellow Submarine album.

Check his watch, relax, breathe.

Two-forty-five seconds later he walked around his Exige, the pilot inspecting his craft before takeoff.

Satisfied, he stopped at the driver’s door, pulled out his phone, tapped a number.

The Exige rumbled to life and the driver’s door opened. Patches of the Exige’s antireflective coating glowed as if several flashlights shone all it, all in close proximity. Shaul turned around.


More tech? Something popped and he looked up.

A crack started in the concrete wall behind the Exige. Shaul watched it crawl like a crazy ant down to the corner of the garage. His jaw ached. He clutched his ears. Tinnitus like coming up too quickly from a dive, or climbing too high without oxygen.

An explosion shook SkyHook HQ’s building down to its foundations, and pieces of Rexall Shaul embedded themselves in the concrete walls at the front of his car.

Previous entries in The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery)

The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 26

Yes, brand new. I know it is. So there. Phphttt!


The Alibi – Chapter 26

Jensen hurried to Bates’s sonar station. “What is it?”

Bates put an incoming signal on speakers. “Hear that?”

Jensen looked at the speakers. “It’s what we heard before, right? Or something similar? This sounds more like some kind of church organ or calliope. Some kind of music. This is from in the water?

Bates turned volume down. “You’re close regarding instrumentation. Don’t know if it’s music. What you’re hearing are what musicians call voices. Like in an orchestra, each separate violin is a voice within the strings, each trumpet is a voice within the brass.” She adjusted some sliders on her boards. “Here they are with more separation.”

Jensen’s eyes went wide. “My god, how many voices is that?”

“Sherlock separated close to a thousand ranging from infra- to utra-sound.”

“Whoever’s doing this has some incredible sonoscopic equipment. Better than ours?”

Bates made more adjustments. “Listen again. What do you notice?”

Jensen shrugged.

Bates handed her a second set of earphones. “Now listen. What do you hear?”

Jensen closed her eyes, focused, and a moment later removed the headphones. “Can’t be. You bullshitting me?”

Bates put the signal on speakers. “Breathing. And organic, not machine-made. Sherlock scanned for AI telltales and came up with none.” She flipped some switches and a monitor showed eight waveforms, two across and four down. “Notice anything else?”

“There all the same note? Frequency? Pitch?”

“Close enough and only becuase Sherlock’s showing it that way. Those voices – that chorus – is probably the most powerful LRAD in existence. Except it produces a much tighter and more concentrated phonic beam. It’s an acoustic laser.Imagine a sound so concentrated it can explode things, like a soprano shattering a wine glass, except this could explode water. Lots of water. Sonoluminescence on overdrive, on steroids, like nobody’s ever imagined before.”


“There’s the rub. It’s coming in from about three-hundred miles out. At the shelf break.”

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The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 25

Brand new. I swear. A lot. I swear a lot.

I think this is brand new since I last populated this blog with excerpts. What was Chapter 23 is now Chapter 24 so I’m not putting that in. Hopefully this chapter is brand new…ish.

Let me know if I’m mistaken.


The Alibi – Chapter 25

Sean put a rack of clean towels in his spare room, moved out some fins and tanks, pushed two scuba suits over to the side to make room in the closet, and wheeled in an extra-thick mattressed cot complete with fluffy pillow. A quick check of his watch told him Seamus should be in the air by now.

His mobile chirped Bloody Sunday. He tapped Seamus’ winking face and heard his cousin railing before the phone got to his ear.

“Start over again, Seamus. I missed part of that.”

“My flight’s delayed. Some kind of engine trouble or other nonsense. I’m booking another flight. I’ll…Cac! There’s no flights to Boston today. How far is New York from you?”

“Add four hours minimum to your flight time. Anything for Portland, Maine?”

“I can get to Montreal. How far is that?”

“Adding customs? Not worth it. How important is this?”

Cac! Now there’s a problem with my credit card. Hold on. I’ll use my university card.”

Seamus’ image left the screen and returned a moment later. His wife hovered in the background, smiled, and signed HELLO // to Sean. He signed back YO //.

Seamus grimaced. “Fuck! There’s a hold on all my cards.”

His wife handed him her card. “Ah. Okay. Now we’re…Íosa Críost! It’s not my cards, it’s me! I’m not allowed international travel! What the fuck? I’m known internationally in half a dozen fields! I hold professorships in universities all over the world! I – ”

Sean interrupted him. “Seamus, has this ever happened before?”

“Never! Countries are thrilled to have me lecture and study. I – ”

“It’s happened to me before.”


“Sometimes I’m doing sensitive work. Sometimes I – ”

“You mean Alphabet City work?”

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