The sequel to Multiples of Six, Divisible by Six continues the story of James Masterson and his "brothers." (Update 3/11/2012: I have to apologize to anyone who has been waiting patiently for the sequel. It's still a bit of a ways off. The story is finally coming together, but it's been more of a struggle than I had anticipated. I seriously went through the worst writing drought in my life at the end of last year. So, instead of making promises as to when you might expect the second book to appear, I'll just tell you that I am working especially hard on it and trying to make book #2 a clear step up in many regards. I want it to be the best possible story I can produce and something you'll be happy to have waited a little longer for.) Here's a little sample from the upcoming book. Still in a rough draft form, so please forgive any errors or inconsistencies:
Doug Pederson reared his fist back, then slammed the plexiglas as hard as he dared. The sound reverberated in the little anteroom and he was sure that everyone on the hall had heard him. He leaned out from the doorway of the vending area, looking guilty. Not a peep. But, the bag of chips he had craved and spent his last dollar on was hanging by the little metal coil meant to hold it in place until purchase. The chips had failed to escape the coils' grasp. He looked at the machine with disgust, as if it the act was a personal attack. Perhaps, he thought, with a little coaxing, it could be made to relenquish said goodies. He looked at the machine, assessing the gap between the wall and the back of the box. He applied force to the top of the machine, leaning it back until it touched the wall. Then he let it go.
As he walked back to the room, he felt only slightly guilty for the bounty that now lay in his arms. For, not only had he achieved his original goal of accessing his purchased bag of chips, but the force of the fall had projected at least, in his estimation, one of every other kind of candy bar and bag of chips off of their respective shelves. He defended his self-induced guilt with a sense of retribution over faulty machinery.
As he slowly limped back to the room where his twin brother, Kevin Powers, and he had spent the night, it didn't immediately occur to him that the door being ajar was a bad thing. It helped him avoid dropping anything to get his key out of his pants, which he promptly did anyway when he pushed open the door and found a red-jacketed old man just about lifting Kevin off the ground by his neck. The syringe in his hand was poised just inches from his neck.
Doug crossed the room with tremendous speed and effort, pinning the man’s forearm, along with the syringe, against the wall. The man released Kevin’s neck, eliciting a gasp and a colorful epithet from Kevin. With his free arm, the old man jabbed his elbow at Doug’s head. Doug dodged just enough to avoid a nasty blow to the eye, but held his ground, now shaking the hand that held the syringe. The old man lashed out with his elbow again, but Doug was prepared. As Kevin slumped to the ground gasping for breath, Doug moved grabbed the much smaller, though ridiculously strong, man’s arm. They were now in an intricate arm-over-arm struggle against the wall. The old man lashed out with his feet and caught Doug’s bad leg hard enough for him to flinch. His hand that had pressed the unknown syringe against the wall released, but in such a violent fashion that it sent the syringe flying across the room. Kevin watched the as the weapon skitter across the room and land in the pile of potato chip bags and candy bars by the door.
“What, no Baby Ruth?” Kevin sputtered.
“Really?” Doug said through his clenched teeth.
Doug found himself pushed away from the wall now and facing an old man who was assuming some sort of attack stance. Kevin slunk away on the floor, a safe distance behind Doug.
“You may as well give up, dude. You’ll never take us now,” Doug said.
The old man’s angry grimace slipped into a cruel smile.
“What makes you think I was here to take you?”
The man lashed out again at Doug’s bad leg, clipping the thigh and forcing Doug to hunch over. The man swung with his left, which, though stunned, Doug reached up and easily deflected with a sturdy arm. The man was quick though and Doug knew that he would never be quick enough on his feet to connect at this range. He moved in closer, deflecting the frenzied blows the old man threw out. Doug sensed there was a weakening of his strength. He was starting to sweat and the rigor of his offense was lessening. He grabbed a soft right hook and held fast to the man’s fist. Doug caught the man’s glance over his shoulder.
“Kevin, lock the door,” Doug said.
He could here Kevin move behind him to do so and watched as a rage crept back into the man’s face.
With a cry, the old man leaped at Doug, but there was nothing left to his attack. Doug quickly reversed the blow and pulled the man into a half nelson headlock. The two men struggled, the final bursts of adrenalin coursing through the old man’s still powerful arms and legs, twisting Doug around and pressing him against the wall with his back.
“Little help here?” Doug grunted.
Kevin looked at him with some trepidation.
“I thought you had this,” he said.
“Seriously? Can I get just a little help?”
“What do you want me to do?”
“Hit him, dammit!” Doug shouted.
He wiped his bloodied lip with his left hand and balled up his right, rearing back to strike the man in the face. That was when the old man raised his feet off the ground and struck out at Kevin, kicking him away and forcing Doug back into the wall with an “Ooof!” It was enough of a jolt for Doug to release him. The man turned and cracked Doug across the head with a left. Doug caught the right in his hand with a solid “thwack!” much to the old man’s surprise. As Kevin lifted himself off the floor, he glanced down at the syringe the old man had dropped. He reached down to pick it up, just as Doug pushed the old man backward. The two fell down atop Kevin who cried out. There was a crack as the man’s head caught the edge of the wall at an odd angle.
“Jesus…Christ…get him off me,” Kevin yelled.
“Gimme a minute…gimme a minute! I go down quick, but getting up is the hard part,” Doug said,
glancing around for his cane. He managed to use the edge of the bed to get himself back up.
“That’s what he said,” Kevin said, reaching out for Doug’s extended hand.
“That son of a gun coulda killed us,” Doug said, rubbing his hip.
“Son of a gun? Really? Your mom and dad aren’t here now, it’s ok to call him a son of a bitch. I won’t tell,” Kevin said.
Doug retrieved his cane from the other side of the room and sauntered back, leaning on it heavily. They looked down at the crumpled body of the man at their feet. His white pants were looking a bit dirty. His nicely pressed red sport coat was up around his shoulders and his untucked shirt exposed skin that nearly matched the white button-down shirt he wore. The straw fedora was busted and a smudge of blood streaked the wall where he’d hit.
“Is he dead?” Kevin asked.
“I hope not,” Doug said.
Kevin looked at him, shaking his head.
“The guy just tried to kill us!” Kevin said.
“Are you sure?” Doug asked.
“He had a syringe.”
“He could have had a gun!”
“So, what are you saying?”
“I don’t think they want to kill us, Kevin. They could have easily shot us all at the airport and been done with it,” Doug said.
“Well, they have a funny way of trying to get us to come along peacefully. He didn’t even say anything. Just snuck in and had me up against the wall like I was nothing.”
“He was ridiculously strong,” Doug said, rubbing his hip.
“You ok?” Kevin asked.
“I’ll survive. You going to check for a pulse?” Doug asked, glancing down at the old man.
“Hell no! That’s when the bad guy always jumps up and grabs the good guy in the movies,” Kevin said, taking a step back.
“That’s only in horror movies,” Doug said, crouching down next to the motionless man.
“Have you taken a good look at these redcoats?”
Doug reached out and placed two fingers under the man’s chin. Kevin stood with the syringe held out, bouncing up and down on his toes, as if something might happen. Doug pulled his fingers away and pulled at the man’s coat. He rummaged through every pocket he could find. Each was empty.
“He’s alive. Just knocked out. Nothing in his pockets. Not even a car key…,” Doug said.
He looked at Kevin, who stared back fixedly.
“They’re waiting for him outside,” he said.
“They would have come in by now,” Doug said.
“Shhhh!” Kevin hissed suddenly.
He pressed himself up against the wall closest to the door. There was clearly someone coming down the hall. Despite knowing this, they both jumped when the knock came.
“Hotel security. Please open up,” came a stern voice.
Kevin crept along the short hallway to the door, staying to one side. He got down on his hands and pressed his face against the floor. Through the small crack at the bottom of the door, he looked out at what appeared to be white boat shoes.
“Oh shit!” he hissed, then turned to Doug and mouthed “it’s another one” and pointed to the unconscious redcoat.
“No comprende por favor,” Doug called out in a high-pitched voice.
Kevin frowned at him and raised his hands, then crouched back down to look under the door. A single bloodshot eye glared back at him.
“Oh shit!” Kevin said, leaping back and jumping to his feet.
He ran across the room, grabbed the desk chair and quickly wedged it beneath the door handle. He knew it wouldn’t hold for long. Then, he turned and followed Doug to the window.
“Glad you asked for more sheets,” Doug said.
“Glad you were strong enough to open the windows all the way,” Kevin said.
“You first,” Doug said.
“Nope…you first. If it can hold you, then it can definitely hold me,” Kevin said.
“Was that a fat joke?”
“Maybe,” Kevin said.
They peered out the open window. They were only twenty feet up and they had prepared the sheet the night before, tying the knots and soaking them in water to tighten them even further.
“I always wanted to do this,” Doug said.
There was a loud crack and the sound of splintering wood.
“No time to reminisce…move it chubby!”
Doug straddled the rope as quickly as he could and let his weight onto the line. It held, but the bed they had tied it to lurched a little. Kevin looked warily at it, then at Doug. Doug nodded and slid down the rope. There was a pounding, as of a foot against the latch of the door. The chair appeared to be giving them the time they needed. Kevin got up onto the sill and pulled the rope. It only had to get him down twenty feet. If he fell, what was the worst that could happen? I could break my neck, he thought. There was another crack at the door and he watched as the chair flew through the room. He heard a cry and just saw the redcoat enter the room as he dropped down the rope, handing burning all the way. He leapt off when he was five feet from the ground and fell into a run. Doug had already hobbled across the parking lot to the car and had it running with the door open for Kevin. Kevin threw himself into the passenger seat and barely got the door closed before the car lurched away.
“Jesus, man, could you at least let me get my seat belt on?”
“You were taking your sweet time! I have a cane and a replacement hip and I can move faster than that. You run like you’ve got a piano tied to your back!”
“I’m sorry! I wasn’t a semipro athlete!”
“Neither was I!”
“Why are we still shouting?”
“I’m just a little sick of all this,” Doug said.
“Being chased! People attacking me. It’s just a bit much,” Doug said.
“Keeps the heart rate up though,” Kevin said.
“It isn’t funny, Kevin.”
“Life is funny…Douglas.”
“Well, the joke is getting old,” Doug said, finally lowering his voice.
“Better to laugh with the bad joke, then not laugh at all,” Kevin said.
“Thanks, Plato. Now where the heck are we going?”