An excerpt from The Enemy Within by Liza O’Connor
How she envied the colonel. Once her instructors discovered she had a brain, they wouldn’t allow her to fly anymore. She could barely remember the flying she had done when she was five and six.
Eliza wished she could see the wind-catcher, but it was also invisible. With nothing else to do, she focused on mentally counting the different components that had to turn invisible on a wind-catcher. As her count reached a thousand sixteen, the sun peeked over the horizon on their right and the colonel ordered everyone to go visible. Eliza turned her suit off, but the colonel quickly turned it back on.
She sighed but didn’t question him. Evidently, he didn’t want anyone to see her arrive.
As the sun rose on the white snow-covered land, the brightness turned painful, so she pawed at her facemask until she located her visor and pulled it down over her eyes, sighing with relief. She could now enjoy the landscape that seemed serene and beautiful.
Having spotted a beacon on the horizon, Polanski identified himself as Colonel Paul Lanski.
She had thought his name was Polanski, not Paul Lanski. She wished she could question him, but she suspected he’d be angry with her if she broke radio silence. Since she remained invisible, she had to conclude he must not want her presence known, even to those in the fort.
Anyone watching him land would never guess that he carried a hundred and fifteen pounds on his back. He unlatched his catcher and ordered Barns to see to his gear. Barns grabbed the “gear” so it would not appear to be floating in mid-air on its own.
“Down,” Barns whispered.
Eliza dropped to the ground so he could drop the halter. As he packed the wind-catcher, she managed to release herself from her halter and ease away without moving the gear more than the blistering cold wind could account for. She wished she could go inside, but she was afraid if she did that, Barns would stay out here looking for her.
When her teeth started to chatter, she decided on a new tactic. She whispered into Barns’ ear, “I’m going in.”
He shook his head, but she decided to ignore him because she’d freeze to death if she remained out here any longer. She still thought freezing was a dangerous possibility. She had to wait five minutes before someone opened the door, so she could enter after them.
Once she got inside, she moved to a corner where no one was apt to accidentally run into her. Her new home was a dive. It smelled of unwashed bodies and trash.
Colonel Lanski entered and complained of the filthy state of the fort as well. The old colonel huffed. “The smell and clutter of the compound will be the least of your problems. You’ve just landed in hell. You’ll be lucky to keep yourself and your men alive. The morale in this place is worse than the prisons. At least those men can go outside for a cigarette. Here you step outside and a polar bear will rip you to shreds.”
“By that statement, may I assume you are not sending the men on patrols?”
The man laughed with bitterness. “Just try it and see what it gets you. MAC has sent these men to the worst spot on the planet. There’s no downhill from here. The only time they step foot out of this fort is when the need for a woman becomes greater than their fear of the bears. Between the bears and the angry natives tired of having their females raped, I’ve lost five men this last month.” He spat something brown and disgusting on the floor. “But have no fear. MAC can always find more soldiers requiring time in hell.”
Just then, Barns burst into the entrance hall. His brows furrowed into a deep V. Eliza could tell by the expression on his face, he was upset. Just in case it was her disappearance that had him upset, she placed her hand on his arm. Instantly, his frown disappeared.
About author Liza O’Connor
Liza O’Connor lives in Denville, NJ with her dog Jess. They hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, she learned to fly small Cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, skydive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. She’s an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet throughout her entire life, her first love has and always will be writing novels.
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