Awakened: A Novel
“an exciting shocker, beginning as a horror story, then switching midway to a political thriller . . .”
New York City mayor Tom Cafferty has fulfilled his dream. It’s the ceremony of the opening of the new subway, the Z Train, connecting New York City with the towns across the Hudson River. “Today was a landmark day. Today was the moment his legacy finally came to fruition, three hundred feet below the Hudson River.”
Even the presence of President Reynolds can’t dull the glow of this moment, though Cafferty does wonder why his political rival decided to attend, uninvited. The mayor and the president have been sparring partners for years, but Cafferty isn’t going to let Reynolds’ presence detract from his moment of triumph.
In a little while, the train, loaded with celebrities as well as Cafferty’s wife, Ellen, will begin its journey to the underground Pavillion where Cafferty and the president wait.
At noon, Ellen broadcasts from the passenger car. “Within minutes, the sound of its smooth, humming engine carried into the Pavillion.
“Four minutes later, a shriek erupted through the speaker, followed by a static hiss.
“Three faint bangs tumbled from somewhere deep in the tunnel. Metallic squeaks echoed in the distance. The silhouette of the train appeared out of the darkness. Only a few shards of glass remained around the edges of the front car’s twenty windows. Blood smothered the interior. The walls. The ceiling. Everywhere, but it was empty of passengers.”
Thus begins the ordeal for those who survived whatever happened aboard the train, as well as those waiting its arrival at the Pavillion.
Something has been awakened deep in the tunnels, something preying on those who were aboard the train and now on those still in the tunnels.
The president’s bodyguards hustle Reynolds away to the command center set to lockdown, keeping the president inside and everyone else out. Their job is to protect the president, who argues that they made a grave error.
“At six o’clock tonight, one hundred million Americans are going to see the president of the United States protecting himself, leaving dozens of people outside. Not to mention my Secret Service gunning down civilians.”
Public image aside, something is a threat and as Cafferty struggles to protect the welcoming party, and worries about his missing wife, the Secret Service plans a way to take the president to safety, while those on the surface wait anxiously to learn what’s going on.
Cafferty doesn’t know if his wife is alive or not, but Ellen has survived, and she is also fighting to live, with a few survivors, and some captives no one knows about, held prisoner by the unknown creatures.
Each man is put to the test, falling back on skills learned in other fields, now being called upon to fight an unknown terror. Old hatreds and animosities have to be set aside so everyone can work together, only to discover there’s a second threat, for someone else has long known about the creatures living deep beneath the city, and that someone is using them to bring about his own political ends.
An agency called The Foundation for Human Advancement has been monitoring the development of the creatures. They want compensation for their vigilance. As the president explains, “One day, my cell phone rings, and I’m told the price for their protection has doubled. If he thinks he can extort the United States government, he’s made a big mistake.”
Now, New York City is going to suffer for the president’s refusal.
To anyone with the least touch of claustrophobia, riding an elevator, subway, or any vehicle that keeps one even momentarily cut off from sight and sound of his fellow humans, it can be, at the least, an uncomfortable feeling, at the most, a terrifying experience. Imagine being three hundred feet beneath the earth fighting something you can’t see that has already decimated a train car full of people.
Brief biographies of each prominent character as well as their relationship to each other is well worked into the narration, not too much, not too little, but enough to keep the continuity and make the reader care about what happens to them. These are characters the reader will enjoy meeting and regret losing, and the about-face several make will come as a surprise.
The estrangement between Cafferty and his wife offers a little aside that is later worked into the overall plot in a satisfying way. There are hints here and there that the perceptive reader will note, giving answers to later revelations.
This is an exciting shocker, beginning as a horror story, then switching midway to a political thriller without any variation in plot to make the course change seem a shock or an erratic deviation. The images are vivid and descriptive enough to give the reader more than a chill.
Awakening is a thrilling read, with an ending hinting of more to come. Mayor Tom Cafferty and President Reynolds look to have their work cut out for them, and the reader will undoubtedly be eagerly looking forward to whatever happens next.