- Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Gr
- Date: Mar 2007
From the book
Detonation in twelve hours
With a crystal-shattering shriek, the bit of the power drill bored deep into the Arctic ice. Gray-white slush churned out of the hole, sluiced across the crusted snow, and refroze in seconds. The flared auger was out of sight, and most of the long steel shank also had disappeared into the four-inch-diameter shaft.
Watching the drill, Harry Carpenter had a curious premonition of imminent disaster. A faint flicker of alarm. Like a bird shadow fluttering across a bright landscape. Even inside his heavily insulated clothing, he shivered.
As a scientist, Harry respected the tools of logic, method, and reason, but he had learned never to discount a hunch--especially on the ice, where strange things could happen. He was unable to identify the source of his sudden uneasiness, though occasional dark forebodings were to be expected on a job involving high explosives. The chance of one of the charges detonating prematurely, killing them all, was slim to nil. Nevertheless . .
Peter Johnson, the electronics engineer who doubled as the team's demolitions expert, switched off the drill and stepped back from it. In his white Gore-Tex/Thermolite storm suit, fur-lined parka, and fur-lined hood, Pete resembled a polar bear--except for his dark brown face.
Claude Jobert shut down the portable generator that supplied power to the drill. The resultant hush had an eerie quality of expectancy so intense that Harry glanced behind himself and then up into the sky, half convinced that something was rushing or falling toward him.
If Death kissed anyone today, it was more likely to rise up from below than to descend upon them. As the bleak afternoon began, the three men were preparing to lower the last hundred-pound explosive charge deep into the ice. It was the sixtieth demolitions package that they had handled since the previous morning, and they were all uneasily conscious of standing upon enough high-yield plastic explosives to destroy them in an apocalyptic flash.
No fertile imagination was required to picture themselves dying in these hostile climes: The icecap was a perfect graveyard, utterly lifeless, and it encouraged thoughts of mortality. Ghostly bluish-white plains led off in all directions, somber and moody during that long season of nearly constant darkness, brief twilight, and perpetual overcast. At the moment, visibility was fair because the day had drawn down to that time when a vague, cloud-filtered crescent of sunlight painted the horizon. However, the sun had little to illuminate in the stark landscape. The only points of elevation were the jagged pressure ridges and hundreds of slabs of ice--some only as large as a man, others bigger than houses--that had popped from the field and stood on end like gigantic tombstones.
Pete Johnson, joining Harry and Claude at a pair of snowmobiles that had been specially rebuilt for the rigors of the pole, told them, "The shaft's twenty-eight yards deep. One more extension for the bit, and the job's done."
"Thank God!" Claude Jobert shivered as if his thermal suit provided no protection whatsoever. In spite of the transparent film of petroleum jelly that protected the exposed portions of his face from frostbite, he was pale and drawn. "We'll make it back to base camp tonight. Think of that! I haven't been warm one minute since we left."
Ordinarily, Claude didn't complain. He was a jovial, energetic little man. At a glance, he seemed fragile, but that was not the case. At five seven and a hundred thirty pounds, he was lean, wiry, hard. He had a mane of white hair now tucked under his hood, a...
"Jammed with the tensions of imminent disaster. The whole thing unfolds with the timing of a quartz watch." - Chicago Tribune
"Viscerally exciting...An extended, tense tour de force...An expertly crafted, ornate suspenser...Koontz fans will love it." - Publishers Weekly, starred review