The adventures of accidental time-traveler James Noland and his talking-dog sidekick Newton. Think 'Starman' crossed with 'Men in Black II,' without the aliens.
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Renouncing the Future
What if you're a 22nd century pilot and your wife and superior conspire to blow you up in a nuclear explosion during a cargo mission to a space station? And what if you are warned by the unlikeliest of sources: your cargo -- a dog that nobody knows can talk? Well, you accidentally time travel instead to present-day northern Minnesota, and even more interesting adventures ensue. Anything can happen & pretty much does, including action, fun, suspense, and romance.
'Renouncing the Future' is the adventures of James Noland and his smart-aleck, talking-dog sidekick, Newton.
Fifty miles out into space, Noland punched the coordinates of the space station into the navigational system and sat back to enjoy the ride. The operator's seat was ridiculously comfortable with its plush powder blue upholstery and lower back support. The sleek blue interior of the ship was easy on the eyes. Noland clasped his hands behind his head, put his feet up on the console in front of him and gazed through the plastiglass blastscreen into the starry void. It was too bad Stace was ashamed of what he did for a living. He had always loved this, loved it now, and always would, no matter what she thought.
The ship accelerated in a little burst. Noland, still in his reverie, hardly noticed. It was the second burst of acceleration that got his attention. The controls were on automatic, and with hardly any cargo load, here shouldn't have been a need to accelerate at all. There was virtually no extra weight to compensate for. He pondered this for a moment, drawing up his face and scratching his chin.
"This thing is too heavy to be hauling just a little dog and a cage," he said out loud. He left the controls on automatic, got out of his seat, and moved to the rear of the ship.
He didn't have to go far. The craft was comparatively small; nothing like the monsters they used to haul the really big stuff. Delta-winged and silver in color, the ship was built for quick shuttles of light cargo, and was about as big as a garage with a low ceiling. It had a small vehicle inside, for transferring cargo. Called, sensibly, a transfercraft, it was in the back, in front of the cargo hatch. It resembled an oversized snowmobile with a clear, bubble-shaped cockpit and a flat deck in the back for shuttling cargo loads. The cage with the dog sat in front of the little vehicle, right on top of the hatch that led to the below cargo hold. He moved the cage to one side, opened the hatch and peered down into the hold.
He let out a low whistle. The hold was packed with canisters of chlorotridiodine, an unbelievably lethal type of nerve gas. One canister was capable of wiping out the entire population of a large city, and about twenty-five of them were in there. Worse, they were rigged together with rods bonded to the tops of the canisters, so that if one burst open, they all would. Noland traced the path of the rods and found that their ends were bonded to the walls of the cargo hold as well. If the walls fractured or were jarred severely enough, say in an explosion or a crash, the canisters would burst open. He slowly closed the hatch, replaced the dog and cage and, wondering what it all meant, started to return to his seat.
"Your wife and General Harrison are conspiring to kill you."
Noland stopped in his tracks, wondering where the voice had come from. It sounded like the voice of a teenage boy, but what teenage boy would be operating the communications system?
"Taking me up to that space station is just a ruse. They plan to blow us both up long before we get there. If you happen to survive and land without releasing the nerve gas, they plan to cover their tracks. They'll say you smuggled the nerve gas on board because you're conspiring to start a war."
Noland turned and looked at the dog incredulously. "You talk?"
"Is that a rhetorical question?" said the dog.
Noland blinked his eyes and stared at the animal, trying to come up with a good answer as to why it could talk.
"It was the tumor they put in my throat," said the dog. "When they removed it and sewed me back up, they changed the position of my tongue."
"You read minds, too?" said Noland.
"Yours isn't that hard to read."
Noland shot him an aggravated look. "Very funny. So how do you know all this?"
"You can learn a lot from ignorant humans who blab about their plans in front of you because they don't think you can understand what they're saying, or that you could tell anyone if you did understand."
"They don't know you can talk?"
"No. You're the first human I've ever spoken to. I discovered I could do it one day by
accident, and I've been practicing when no one's around."
"But why didn't you tell someone? You could have made a better life for yourself."
"Oh sure, right," the dog said. "I'd just be a different kind of experiment for humans; an amusing curiosity. You know -- 'Say something for the nice people,' or 'Recite the Gettysburg Address.' -- No thanks."
"Um," said Noland. He shook his head in disgust. "Stace and Harrison. Who would have thought it?"
"Obviously not you," said the dog.
"If you think I'm so ignorant, why are you warning me -- to save your own neck?"
"Certainly not, I gave up on myself long ago. For me, death would be a welcome rest from the life I've known."
"I've got my reasons."
"And you don't feel like sharing them with the ignorant human?"
"I didn't say that."
"Then what's the big secret?"
"Look, I hate to interrupt your line of questioning, but you really need to act. If we continue on our present course we're going to be obliterated by a nuclear explosion very shortly."
"Fine, you seem to know more about what's going on than I do. What do you suggest?"
"I suggest turning around and flying very fast in the opposite direction."
"Right," said Noland. He sprang to the operator's seat, punched his commands into the computer and took the controls off automatic. The ship slowed and spun around, and Noland hit the throttle. "Anything else?"
"Yes. Have you got any Fig Newtons™ on this tub?"