Null_Pointer Chapter 0

This is the serialization of my first mystery novel, Null_Pointer.  It will be released on this blog every work day until it is complete.  You may purchase the novel at Amazon, Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords or order it from any brick and mortar bookstore near you.  Thank you for reading it and I hope you enjoy this free look at the book.

You can find all the chapters of this book by searching for the Null_Pointer Novel tag.


NULL_POINTER


A Joshua Jones Mystery


by Ken McConnell


This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events depicted in this novel are products of the author’s imagination.

GB Press

http://gbpress.ning.com

Null_Pointer

Copyright © 2009 Ken McConnell All Rights Reserved including the right to reproduce this book, or any portions thereof, in any form.

ISBN is 978-0-578-02613-8

First Edition: August 2009

Printed in the United States of America Cover art and layout by Byron McConnell

The Official Null_Pointer web site: http://nullpointer.ning.com

The author’s blog: http://w0pht.org/wordpress


For my dad, Gerry McConnell


Technical Addendum

The Amateur Radio call signs used in this book are not real. They blance to actual call signs is purely coincidence and not intentional. The author does have his Amateur Radio license and can be found on local Boise repeaters from time to time.

Discussed in the book. Some parts of the plot involve things that cannot happen and requires a leap of faith from the reader. The author hopes that the leap is a small one for this story.


Chapter 0

The programmer clicked the link and slipped on his cushioned headphones. The entire screen of his monitor went blank and a low throbbing came from his headphones. The throbbing became a steady, thump-thump, thump-thump of a heart at rest. The screen came alive with a kaleidoscope of colorful shapes.
The images moved to the cardio-rhythms and as the beat quickened so did the speed of the colors and shapes. The programmer became slightly agitated. The soothing images faded into rougher shapes with harder edges and the colors became more intense. Blues and greens and browns blurred into reds and yellows. The shapes became sharp as knife blades as the rhythm sped up.
The programmer could feel his heart race to the increasing beats of the bass drum. He wanted to pull off the headphones and stop the animation but his arms were languid. Try as he might, he could not make the slightest move to stop the presentation. It was mesmerizing and he was locked in its grip.
The images faded into a fog of dark blue and gray swirling clouds. The sound echoed and reverberated, like ambient music. The programmer swore he heard a woman wailing and the wind blowing. There were other sounds, sounds of a city, cars honking, semi-trucks braking and sirens screaming in the night. The swirling clouds faded away to a black screen and the programmer fell into subconsciousness. He was floating in a world that was not his reality. It had the appearance of the real world, but it existed only in his mind’s eye.
He held onto a cold, metal structure that consisted of three tubes and had cross braces every few feet. It was cold, terribly cold as the wind whipped passed him and bit into him, chilling him to the bone. The programmer had never been that cold in all his life. He shook and trembled in the blowing wind. He peered down and saw that he was perched atop a radio tower on the very top of a skyscraper.
His fear of falling returned, first experienced when he was a teenager and he jumped from a high dive into the neighborhood pool. It haunted him for months thereafter – the feeling of falling into an endless dark hole. He no longer had such nightmares, but he could never allow himself to be on a tall structure without becoming agitated to the point of distraction.
His mind ran as fast as the wind and his beating heart. How the hell did he get this far up on a tower? Was this some kind of dream? More like nightmare. It was every bit as real as anything he had ever known. There was no denying that he was thousands of feet up in the sky and afraid for his life. There was no way he was going to climb down the tower to the base of the antenna. It was too far and the wind was too strong. He was doomed to fall; it was only a matter of when.
The building swayed from the turbulent winds making him nauseous. His hands slipped; he locked his elbows around the braces of the tower and held on. A flashing navigation light above him caused his hands to glow an eerie red color. How in the hell did he get in this position? It had to be a dream. If he thought about it hard enough, maybe he would wake up. No such luck.
The programmer screamed into the wind, his voice carried away like an echo in a canyon. No one would know where he was and rescue would be impossible. His grip was loosened again. He looked down and his heart sank like a rock. He was doomed to fall. His life would be over and there was nothing he could do to help himself. Fear paralyzed him.
When the hopelessness of the situation sunk in, he was ready to fall, ready to sink into the swirling abyss, ready to let go, ready to die.
The programmer closed his eyes. The cold wind died away as his fingers slipped. The falling sensation returned. Comfort. Freedom. No fear.
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