Time Stand Still:
A Darren Camponi Novel

By John Misak, Jr.
Published by Barclay Books 
June 2002; 1931402183

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Time Stand Still by John Misak, Jr.It took a lot of nerve to make the turn I attempted. Charging down 43rd Avenue at around 65 miles an hour in a car that excels only in straightforward speed, taking a sharp turn onto 7th Avenue was highly unadvisable, but I really didn't have much of a choice. A glance at my rear-view mirror displayed what the howling sirens behind me were saying; "Faster!" Trying not to think too much about it, I cut the wheel hard to the right while not easing up on the gas, sending the already worn rear tires of my 1984 Camaro Z28 into a frenzy.The back of the car fishtailed left to almost 90 degrees, so I cut the wheel hard to the left while I bolted down an empty Seventh Avenue. The car then fishtailed right, left again, then finally settled down and let me concentrate on what I needed to do; get as much distance between myself and the proud men of the NYPD.

I glanced at the back seat of the car, catching a glimpse of the nondescript beige box resting there. It had shifted quite a bit during my vehicular maneuvers, but it didn't seem damaged yet. Not that I cared. I actually wanted it damaged. If I had a choice, I would have thrown it out the window, but I didn't want anyone getting a hold of the components inside, in case any of them didn't break. My future, hell my life it seemed, relied on that box being destroyed, as if it never came into existence. I still didn't know exactly how I was going to destroy it completely, but I had it in my possession, and possession is two thirds of victory in my book. The men in the squad cars chasing after me saw it differently, of course, but they didn't know what I did. They didn't know how dangerous that box was. To them it was just a computer, just a piece of someone else's property that I pilfered. They were right in that sense, but like I said, I was out of options.

The police were gaining ground, and they had a distinct advantage; there was really no way for me to exit the city. I couldn't take either of the tunnels; they were certainly road blocked. Water surrounded me, so any real attempt at an escape by car was pretty much ruled out. I briefly considered the 59th Street Bridge, then realized they would have that road blocked as well. Then it hit me. I wasn't going to make it out of the city by car. I also didn't have much of a chance trying to hop a train. I could, however, destroy the computer and ditch the evidence for a short time. That was the thing; I technically had all the time in the world. If things went according to plan, the destruction of that computer would be followed by a return to life as usual for me, and my problems would be solved. At least, that was what I was hoping.

 

I cut another turn onto 22nd Street, and headed down toward the South Street Seaport. Luckily, the streets were empty, because I took this one a bit too wide. A metal garbage can lost its life in that collision, but nothing else. Though New York is certainly the city that never sleeps, it does take a catnap around 4AM. I got control of the car, which now was missing its right headlight, and burned down the street. The squad cars behind me took the turn more cautiously, and I had gained a little ground for the time being. I knew that wouldn't last, mainly because the surely had backup on the way to intercept me. The only way to avoid that, or minimize it at least, was to take the most indirect route to the seaport. This way, they would have no idea where to set up the interference.

For the people who think that high speed chases must be the coolest thing out there, let me offer a word or two of advice. Even though the adrenaline level during such an event is life-threateningly high, you are really too focused on staying alive to really get a rush out of it. If you've ever felt the bottoming of your stomach when you see police lights in your rear-view mirror, multiply that by about a hundred and you get the idea. On top of that, this was a mission for me. I was too concerned about failing to realize what I was doing. It didn't have the same effect a good videogame does even. I guess I could equate it to receiving a phone call stating that a loved one has been rushed to the hospital, and you're racing there, not knowing what happened. Oh, and you just finished off about four lines of good cocaine. Yeah, that's about right.

I took another turn onto Park Avenue, running through my mind the routes necessary to get to the seaport. I heard the computer ram against the side of the car. Something probably came loose. I felt a little better about that. At least, if I did get caught, the folks at the research laboratory would have their work ahead of them getting that hellish computer working properly. Even if I threw off their timetable, that would be fine. There were a few cabs on Park, so I had to be careful not to hit any of them. I didn't care so much about getting into an accident, but I was afraid of anything that would slow me down. I punched the accelerator some more, and the big V8 engine growled, as if to tell me it was getting tired of this. I looked at the gas gauge and saw I had just a touch more than a quarter tank, so I had plenty of fuel to dump this car into the East River. I just hoped I personally had enough energy to get out of the damn car.

I chose 18th Street as my final route to the seaport, and inched the needle on the speedometer over 100MPH down that street. I was acutely aware of the fact that any collision at that speed, even with the smallest of objects, would spell disaster for me. Well, disaster for me at that moment. I had a theory, a cockeyed one at that, which I hoped would protect me from danger. If I didn't rely on that theory, there was no way I would have tried to pull this stunt off in the first place. Theories, at least this one, are nothing more than elaborate lies we tell ourselves in times of trouble. Despite the fact that I knew this, I hoped to God or anyone else who was listening that it would work.

Just as I had the seaport in full view, I hit a classic New York City pothole at about 95 miles per hour which caused the steering wheel to go berserk. I felt control of the car slipping from me, and I mashed the accelerator and turned the wheel hard to wrestle control back. It didn't happen. The front right tire, the one which found the pothole, had shredded, so I was left with three working wheels and a slick metal rim. I tried to relax, which of course was a ridiculous notion. To put it plainly, I shit my pants, figuratively. The car jimmied sideways, still moving along at high speed. I calculated as best I could whether or not I would have enough momentum to make it to the pier and thrust the car over the edge. There were a few boats that I had noticed, and being that I did not have any steering capability at all, I had to hope I hit a spot on the pier that was clear of them. I didn't hear or see the police behind me but I knew they had to be close. I closed my eyes and awaited whatever it was fate had in the cards for me.

It might help to explain how I got into this situation, how I broke into one of the largest research facilities in New York City, evaded security, and walked off with a $100,000 piece of computer equipment. I'm sure that an explanation of why I chose to get into a high speed chase with the NYPD and then dump my pride and joy of an automobile into the East River would help. Answers to such questions are not cut and dried, and I must admit, I don't know the exact answers for sure. I only know things from my perspective, which I guess will have to do. I know there is a saying about watching out what you hope for. Though this statement does apply to my situation somewhat, this is more about what sort of schemes you use to cheat the game of life. Some of us have no opportunity in this game whatsoever. Most people are victims of the game, hopelessly plodding along the bottom of the bell curve, knowing full well they are doomed to an existence of mediocrity at best. I thought I was one of them, one of the people who would never realize any of their potential because life had other things in mind.

Opportunity has the ability to surprise us all. I've come to realize that, though this is true, not all opportunity should be seized. Most opportunities are tests to see how gullible we are. Anyone can be foolish enough to take the bait.It is those of us who refuse it, and decide to continue our seemingly worthless lives instead of being caught in the allure of better living, that end up better in the long run. That's why I chose to tell this story. I want to offer a warning to the people who might get the same opportunity I did. I wasn't strong enough to turn it down. I didn't have the willpower to politely refuse. I really can't imagine many people who could. But, if the information I give in the following pages helps at all, then I have completed my mission.

Copyright 2002 John Misak, Jr
Reprinted with permission.

 

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Synopsis

If you had the chance to go back in time, would you? Should you?

Private Investigator Darren Camponi gets what appears to be the opportunity of a lifetime when he is hired to find an old classmate. After tracking him down, Camponi discovers he is working on a secret project: Time travel. After learning that his ex-classmate is running from the federal government, Camponi decides to help his friend, only to be dragged into a conspiracy that goes from the FBI right down to the people around him.

After the death of a fellow P.I. and a suspicious malpractice suit against his father, Camponi enlists to help finish the research. His reward: a chance to revisit the past. Camponi has no idea what awaits him in his past, and is unaware of the betrayal he must face in the present. All he knows is that both of his lives will never be the same.

Combining the elements of suspense with cutting edge science fiction, Time Stand Still delivers edge of your seat thrills from the beginning, right up to its dramatic conclusion.

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Author

John MisakJohn Misak lives on Long Island, where he studied Creative Writing at Hofstra University, and received his Masters in Writing at Queens College. Before publishing Soft Case, he wrote for several magazines and websites as a computer game reviewer. He currently writes for PCGameworld, and works at the family billiard hall when he is not busy writing.

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