Book Chapter Samples
The Autopsy of Planet Earth
The year is wherever your Imagination takes you
November 2nd, Foja Mountain Range,
Papua New Guinea
As they boarded the single-engine Cessna Skymaster at Papua New Guinea’s Jackson
Airport, ominous dark clouds were rolling in from the West. On board was Dr. B.D. Sanjaya, a prominent archaeologist with the Indonesian National Centre for Archaeological Research, and his assistants, Timoty Budiman and Reza Darmali. The flight took them 6,000 feet above sea level to a remote dirt airstrip in the Mamberamo basin just below the mist-shrouded Foja Mountain Range in Papua’s eastern province. There they switched to a twenty-year-old Bell 206 Jet Ranger helicopter piloted by an elderly Indonesian man whose craggy face and stoic expression resembled a rough-cut stone sculpture. They took off in a light but steady rain.
An hour into the flight, Timoty shouted over the din of the engine. “You’re sure you know the spot?”
Dr. Sanjaya held up a hand-drawn map and shrugged. “This is all we have to go by.”
Soon they were skimming the treetops over the remote Birds Head Peninsula. The jungle below looked ominous and all but impenetrable, raising the question, would they find the designated clearing.
Reza was the first to spot a small smudge of open ground about a quarter-mile ahead. “There! I see a clearing just beyond those trees!”
The old pilot glanced at his copy of the map. Smiling, his eyes went to Sanjaya, who gave the pilot a thumb’s up. Once over the open area, the pilot cautiously circled the spot three times before attempting a descent in light fog. Down the narrow chute they went until the skids gently settled on the soggy ground. The light but steady rain continued.
As they removed the last of their gear from the aircraft, something caught Timoty’s attention. A short, elderly, dark-skinned man, sporting a full white beard, appeared from the edge of the surrounding forest. Under his rain slicker, a multicolored print shirt hung loosely over khaki shorts. In his right hand, he held a menacing two-foot machete.
“Dr. Sanjaya, we have company.”
Sanjaya followed Timoty’s gaze. “Ah, that must be Bayu.”
Reza spied the machete. “You think it’s our guy?”
“Never met him. He sent me this map with these coordinates and said to meet him here on this day at approximately this hour.” Sanjaya glanced at the handwritten map and grinned. “Pretty good directions.”
Turning to the helicopter pilot, Sanjaya raised a hand above his head, made a wide circular motion, and pointed to the jungle. The old pilot acknowledged with a disinterested nod and lifted the helicopter skyward. Within seconds he was over the tree line and out of sight.
Something caught Timoty’s eye.
The man Sanjaya had identified as Bayu trotted toward them while calling out in his native language. “Salamat Sian, saya teman. Dalton! Apa Kabar, Dr. Sanjaya?”
Sanjaya waved. “Saya baik-baik saja, terima kasih.”
Bayou approached and enthusiastically shook Sanjaya’s hand. “Saya ialah Sanjaya.”
Reza scratched at the back of his head. “I don’t recognize the dialect.”
“Not many do. It’s specific to the local Kweba tribe. Bayu is their chief. He welcomed us and I introduced myself.” Sanjaya motioned to his assistants. “Reza, Timoty.”
Bayu smiled and half-bowed. “Reza, Timoty.” He tapped his chest. “Bayu.”
“Dimana adalah kebun hutan?” Sanjaya said. “I asked him where the secret place is.”
Pointing to the jungle tree line, Bayu grinned. “Pintu musuk lewat sana.”
“Okay, gentlemen. We follow Chief Bayu.”
It was slow going through the dense primeval forest. Bayu slashed at small bamboo trees, thick thorn-covered underbrush, and menacing low-hanging vines. An hour later, after slogging through muddy streams, dodging the occasional snake, and swatting at swarming insects, they broke through to a small clearing thick with fog.
Bayu tapped Sanjaya’s arm and pointed to the dense jungle. “Di luar kabut adalah keajaiban tempat.”
“He says the Magic Place is through there.”
“Doesn’t look too inviting, B.D.”
“No, it doesn’t, Timoty. Stay alert.”
They followed Bayu into the fog. Bugs and flies swarmed around them. The more they swatted at them, the more aggressively they attacked. But oddly, the further they advanced the fog the rain began to dissipate, the insects vanished, and the humidity and temperature dropped to a comfortable level.
Bayu abruptly stopped and listened. From this position, they could hear the faint sound of rushing water. Bayu motioned for them to wait, then took a dozen steps forward before stopping again. Raising both arms to eye level with his palms face up, he said, “Ini adalah tempat qaip!” Then in halting English, “The… magic… place.” He turned and waved to the others to join him. When they reached his side the fog and mist beyond was completely gone.
What they saw left them speechless.
There in the middle of this primeval forest was either a grand mirage or something very real that should not have been in a remote Indonesian jungle.
Dr. Sanjaya sucked in a quick breath, “Oh my god!”
Timoty and Reza stood dumbfounded.
There were no words to describe what lay before them.
There’s no turning back now from what I came to do… what I am compelled to do… consequences be damned… Lady Justice doesn’t get her hands on this one… this one is mine… I’ve been sitting in my car now for ten minutes staring at the house… I’ve checked and rechecked the address… this is it, a gray two-story four-unit tenement with three ground floor entry doors… I assume the middle one leads upstairs… the one to the left, that’s the correct number… this is it, it’s now or never… screwing on the silencer to my Glock-22, I approach the door and knock… no response… I strike the door again… this time a voice responds.
“Who is it?”
“I have a package for Mister Jack Kerfoot. It requires a signature.”
“I’m not expecting a package. Who’s it from?”
“I’m not expecting a package from Amazon.”
“If you’ll just open the door and take a look, Mister Kerfoot.”
A couple of seconds pass before a lock is released… the door slowly opens about a foot and Kerfoot peers out. Immediately, I kick at it… it swings open hitting Kerfoot’s right shoulder and knocking him back… stepping in, I stick my gun in his face.
“Hey! Who the hell are you?”
“Your worst nightmare.”
“Get out of here, I’m calling the cops!”
“Go ahead, piss ant, call them.”
The last thing this lying son-of-a-bitch wants is the police to show up… not with what he’s done… Jesus, he can’t be over twenty-five or twenty-six years old, thin face, dirty-blond hair, blue-green eyes… he’s short… five-eight if he’s lucky… coming face-to-face with him only increases my rage.
“What the hell do you want, man?”
“You, Jack Kerfoot, you.”
“Me? What for? Get the hell out of my house!”
Watch his right hand, Billy… why is it behind his back? His hand whips around… shit, the fool’s got a gun… instinctively, my right arm swings up and out the Glock smashing against his left ear just as he pulls his trigger… the bullet whizzing within inches of my left ear slamming into the wall behind me… blood’s gushing from his ear… his hand goes to it… he squeals like a wounded animal… his gun slips from his hand to the floor… he turns and quick-steps down the hall through a door slamming it behind him like the repulsive rodent he is… hey, jerk off, that’s not gonna save you… kicking the door with a flat right foot, it swings open on the first try… it’s an oversized closet… the feral pig is on his ass behind a couple of large boxes and hanging clothes, legs bent to his chest, arms wrapped around his knees, fingers intertwined tight, eyes shut like maybe if he doesn’t see me I’m not really here and won’t do what I’ve come to do.
“You know why I’m here, Kerfoot?”
“Open your eyes, look at me.”
His eyelids slowly open, his gaze going first to my gun then up to meet mine… here it comes, the prick is gonna plead for his miserable life, but I’m not offering options here… forget it creep, they’ll be no negotiations on this your last day sucking air.
“Who are you… what do you want!”
“Does the name Russell ring a bell?”
“I don’t know no Russell. You got the wrong guy.”
The hell I have… aiming for his right knee, I squeeze the trigger… the silencer muffles the sound of the exploding bullet… the shell strikes peeling away his kneecap… he’s howling like a squealing pig… his body’s oscillating like an electric toothbrush. My second shot is to his left kneecap ripping away flesh, cartilage, and bone… his mouth flaps open wide… out comes another chilling scream. Go ahead, you pussy, make all the noise you want, nobody’s coming to your rescue… look at me, asshole, look at me before your lights go out and you come face to face with your maker… whoever the hell that is… Satan, maybe.
“Just in case you didn’t know her name, it was Diedre.”
“Diedre, her name was Diedre.”
He’s shaking badly, breathing hard, and having trouble putting one word in front of the other.
“I… don’t… know… any … Diedre!”
Enough chitchat… do it, do it now, Billy… I squeeze the trigger… the bullets racing down the barrel at twenty-five hundred feet per second striking his forehead just above and between his eyes leaving not a neat hole but tearing away the top of his skull splattering flesh, bone, blood, and gray matter over boxes, clothes, and walls… Lucifer’s bastard son is dead… it felt right and righteous and all the other words in the English lexicon that justifies what I’ve done in Diedre’s name… now get out of here, Billy. Whoa, wait! What the hell was that? An earsplitting horn blast! Jesus, it sounds like it’s coming from inside this closet… there it is again, only louder… a sharp stab to the middle of my back… zap, zap… an electrical charge is surging through me doubling me over… someone’s in my face yelling.
“Get up, get your lazy ass up!”
“You heard me 556, get your miserable ass out of that bunk now.”
That voice… that accent… it can’t be… its Quasi.
“What the hell are you doing here?”
“I’m everywhere, 556, always watching and waiting for you to screw up. Now get your goddamn criminal ass up.”