Blog Tour ~ Hell Holes
Author: Donald G. Firesmith
Genre: Science Fiction /Paranormal/Fantasy
Hosted by: Ultimate Fantasy Book Tours
When hundreds of huge holes mysteriously appear overnight in the frozen tundra north of the Arctic Circle, they threaten financial and environmental catastrophe should any more open up under the Trans-Alaska Pipeline or any of the many oil wells and smaller pipelines that feed it. An oil company sends a scientific team to investigate. But when the geologist, his climatologist wife, two of their graduate students, a local newspaper reporter, an oil company representative, and a field biologist arrive at one of the holes, they discover a far worse danger lurks below, one that threatens to destroy all of humanity when it emerges, forcing the survivors to flee south towards Fairbanks.
A geek by day, Donald Firesmith works as a system and software engineer helping the US Government acquire large, complex software-intensive systems. In this guise, he has authored seven technical books, written numerous software- and system-related articles and papers, and spoken at more conferences than he can possibly remember. He’s also proud to have been named a Distinguished Engineer by the Association of Computing Machinery, although his pride is tempered somewhat by his fear that the term “distinguished” makes him sound like a graybeard academic rather than an active engineer whose beard is still slightly more red than gray.
By night and on weekends, his alter ego writes modern paranormal fantasy, apocalyptic science fiction, action and adventure novels and relaxes by handcrafting magic wands from various magical woods and mystical gemstones. His first foray into fiction is the book Magical Wands: A Cornucopia of Wand Lore written under the pen name Wolfrick Ignatius Feuerschmied. He lives in Crafton, Pennsylvania with his wife Becky, and his son Dane, and varying numbers of dogs, cats, and birds.
His magical wands and autographed copies of his books are available from the Firesmith’s Wand Shoppe at: http://magicalwandshoppe.com.
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Though the sun had finally dipped behind the rounded mountains of the Brooks Range, the temperature remained well above freezing, leaving the ground moist from the morning’s rains. It was quiet except for the soft sound of the breeze blowing through the short shrubs and sedges that covered the tundra of the North Slope.
An arctic fox silently patrolled his territory. He sniffed the ground, following the scent of a female that had passed by earlier that evening. She had brushed against a bearberry bush, and he stopped to breathe in her enticing smell. She was in heat, and he hoped to father her second litter of the season.
Though the fox occasionally heard the distant rumble of big rigs driving north along the Dalton, carrying supplies to Deadhorse and the oil fields around Prudhoe Bay, he paid them no mind. The humans were several miles away, and unlike wolves and wolverines, they posed no threat.
The fox abruptly stopped, turning his head to the side in puzzlement. He heard a faint hum that seemed to come from the ground below him. It was a new sound, one that he had not heard before. It rapidly increased in volume until it became a piercing, high-pitched whine, far beyond the dull hearing of the humans in their trucks. In agony, the fox rolled on the ground, desperately pawing at his ears in a vain attempt to stop the pain. He yipped and whined, adding his voice to the faraway howling of wolves.
The sound suddenly stopped, replaced by a deep rumble as the ground beneath the fox began to shake. Slowly, foot by foot, a huge circle of tundra the size of a large pond began to push itself above the surrounding tundra. Carrying the fox upward, it rose until it reached the height of a caribou’s antlers. Along its circular boundary, loose wet dirt and ragged patches of plants fell off, forming a ring-shaped pile that surrounded the rising ground.
With a sharp jerk, the massive cylindrical plug of earth underneath the fox stopped rising and began sliding downward. No longer incapacitated by pain, the terrified fox sped across the quivering ground, running for his life as it continued its unrelenting collapse. He ran toward the edge, arriving just as the ground beneath him slipped below the short ring of loose and muddy soil that marked its circumference. With a desperate leap, the fox jumped up, landing on the ring’s slippery slope as the ground continued its collapse into the rapidly deepening crater. He slipped, sliding perilously backwards before desperately pawing his way back up and over the top. Once down on the solid ground surrounding the huge hole, he ran away as if he were chased by a pack of starving wolves.
The frightened fox was several hundred yards from the hole when the rumbling stopped. Still running for his life, he did not see the brilliant blue burst of light that shot skyward out of the huge crater. But he did see dozens of similar blue beams briefly light up the northern horizon. As suddenly as they appeared, the lights winked out. The fox did not stop until he had placed several miles between himself and the pit. Silence returned to the North Slope, while the scent of sulfur and decay filled the air above the newly formed hell holes.