Title: Flashes from the Rock (Prequel Story for Gunnysack Hell)
Author: Nancy Brashear
Genre: Occult Fiction/Historical Fiction
What sends a man into the empty desert, away from everything he thought he wanted? For some, it’s the specter of past mistakes. For some, it’s the lure of gold. For Rand O’Brien, it began with a simple request: “Will you write an article for my newsletter, Flashes from the Rock?”
Rand pulled up next to Nick’s truck at the Hawthorne Airport. He hurried to Nick, who was bent over checking the wing tie-downs of the sporty red and white Cessna airplane.
Nick looked up at him. “You pilot there. I’ll take the return trip. Okay? I filled the gas tank before you got here.”
Rand sniffed the air. He loved the sharp smell of aviation fuel that got his blood running and put his imagination in gear. He was going somewhere he hadn’t been before. A short flight to a place he’d heard about through Nick.
Rand said, “Yeah. I’ll begin the pre-flight check with the outside. Can’t ever be too safe.”
A few minutes later, he called up to Nick, who was already in the cockpit. “I’m done down here. And glad you got that oil drip fixed. We’re more than fine for the flight to the desert and back.”
Nick called to him. “Since you’re still down there, get us started. I’ll set the ignition and throttle.”
Rand rounded the front of the plane. He grabbed the prop with both hands and pulled it down. Hard. The engine sputtered to life as the prop whirred in a circle, faster and faster, creating a vortex of wind.
He hoisted himself up into the cockpit and climbed into the pilot’s seat. Together, they quickly finished the pre-flight checklist. Master switch on. Check. Fuel gauge. Check. And the rest of the list. Check.
Rand revved the plane’s engine, and Nick jumped out to release the wing tie-downs. Once he was back in the co-pilot seat, it was time to hit the skyways.
Rand taxied toward the end of the runway and waited for permission to take off. Advancing the throttle slowly, he listened to the sound of the engine at full power. As soon as he got the go-ahead from the tower, he released the toe brakes. The Cessna accelerated until it reached lift-off speed at eighty miles per hour.
He loved the way the tarmac vibrated beneath the tires and how the landscape flashed through his peripheral vision. The nose lifted, and the ground fell away.
He maneuvered to get altitude before he banked to the right, tipping the plane and revealing Los Angeles below. Neighborhoods with trees and pools grew smaller as he pulled away. He never tired of the intense zing he felt at that exact moment of defying gravity.
He raised his voice over the engine noise. “We’re getting outta this rat race! Landers, here we come!”
Nick, map in hand, looked out the window, “Yep. Our heading is 120 degrees.”
Rand pushed forward on the stick to level the plane and set the course. The sky was clear blue. The scene below looked like a miniature city of tiny streets streaming with even smaller cars and trucks.
Invisible currents of wind buffeted the small aircraft, and the left wing dipped precariously.
“That was a barely okay takeoff.” Nick’s eyes challenged him. “Get ready for mine to surpass yours on the way back. By the way, there’s a surprise waiting for you when we arrive at the Rock.”
“What trick are you up to?”
“An appointment with the Big V himself. For you.”
“He’s the owner of the airport?”
“George Van Tassel’s a lot more than that. He began as a flight test engineer for Lockheed. Eventually, he veered his interest towards extraterrestrials after he reported he’d been contacted by one. Then, he began his own Space Conventions. And he might have invented a new kind of alien religion, but don’t pay attention to that.”
Nick tapped the front windshield. “There! See that massive boulder, as tall as some of the buildings in downtown Los Angeles? The runway is behind it.”
“Look at that, would you!” A primitive airfield, a gash through the dirt landscape, came into view. He spotted two planes, parked at odd angles like children’s toys strewn along one side, and a few tiny cars on the other.
“Yes, sir!” Nick snorted.
As they circled before landing, Nick spoke in an animated voice about the small airstrip, the crystal mountain, the open land where the conference would take place, the refueling station, an Airstream trailer reflecting silver under the bright sun, and a small square restaurant built out of cinder block, which evidently sold mouth-watering apple pies worth flying out for.
Rand glimpsed the giant rock, the white flag atop whipping about in the breeze. The famous cave, nestled underneath, was where he would be meeting up with the mystery man who might, or might not, make him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Something to bring in a little extra money to the household. Besides, he might learn something new.
Suddenly, Rand couldn’t wait to meet this enigmatic personality.
Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):
(Amazon affiliate links cost you nothing extra and contribute to my writing time.)
· (Amazon) Flashes from the Rock. Kindle and Print https://amzn.to/3zr0xAB
· (Goodreads) Flashes from the Rock. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58704815-flashes-from-the-rock
What makes your featured book a must-read?
In this prequel to the true-crime-inspired psychological thriller, Gunnysack Hell, readers meet Rand O’Brien in his middle-class world as an engineer at an automobile company near the ocean. Readers wanted to know more about how the O’Brien family ended up in a homestead cabin in the Mojave Desert, so I wrote this short story to provide them with additional background information. Readers are taken on a short flight in a Cessna to a UFO commune near Landers, Southern California, where Rand meets a man who will change the course of his life. Bonus UFO Content provides readers with research about Giant Rock, UFOs, the 1960s, Area 51, and popular culture, topics they won’t want to miss out on!
Enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card:
Open Internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon Canada account to win.
Runs November 26 – December 2, 2021.
Winner will be drawn on December 3, 2021.
Nancy Brashear lives in San Clemente with her husband, Patrick, and their rescue dog, Goldie, where her grown children and seven grandgirls support her writing. She began her teaching career as a credentialed k-12 teacher and reading specialist and ended as a university professor. She has published short stories, poems, academic articles, textbook chapters, and educational website content. Ready or Not! A Creepy, Retold Fairytale for Grownups (a short tale) was published in 2020. Gunnysack Hell, her debut thriller inspired by a true-crime event, was published in February, 2021. Flashes from the Rock, a short prequel to Gunnysack Hell, is her latest published work this year. She recently won first place in the Casa Romantica’s poetry contest with “Time and Time Again: A Mermaid’s Rite of Passage.” And, yes, she did live off-grid with her family in a homestead cabin in the Mojave Desert when she was a child. Please sign up for her occasional newsletters and blog at her website: https://www.nancybrashear.com where she looks forward to getting to know you.
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