Sneak preview of Nikki White: Polar Extremes … Chapter 1 … SHARKS!!!

Here’s a teaser to the third installment in the trilogy, NIKKI WHITE: POLAR EXTREMES, which is out today, March 24, 2017, the very day the sun sets for six months of darkness at South Pole Station, the setting for much of this story.

But first, Nikki must survive a swim with sharks near Dyer Island, South Africa … here is Chapter 1, in its entirety. Enjoy …

Cheers,
Jack Chaucer

PART 1

CHAPTER 1: DYER SITUATION

Nikki Janicek’s
point of view

January 1, 2020
Off the coast
of South Africa,
near Dyer Island

The sea gulls taunted me with their freedom.

They had it and I didn’t. And they could fly anywhere, but no, they had to show off, shrieking at me as they cruised alongside the boat.

After months of indoor isolation and captivity, I suppose I should’ve been rejoicing at this “reward” of fresh, saltwater air; a new start and new training for the new year. But the sun that I hadn’t seen or felt in so long was a no-show, masked by thick, dark-gray clouds; the air was stained with the stench of fish guts, and my own guts were roiling from sea sickness.

To add insult to indignity, a sea hag kept heckling me from the rear of the boat in German, Dutch or whatever the hell it was.

My only consolation was Roy, the biggest and blackest of my abductors, looked even more nauseous than I did. He sat on the bench a few feet to my left and held his breakfast back with a massive hand over his mouth.

That’s when the mystery captain, driving the boat behind tinted glass on the upper deck, suddenly cut the engine, leaving us to pitch and roll in lazy, 6- to 8-foot swells. The torturous motion immediately forced me to get up and stagger to the rail. I might have fought it back, but the sound of Roy hurling over the opposite rail was too much. Out it came, pouring into the sea below.

Happy Effing New Year.

And not one drink the night before to make it remotely worth it.

Then the short, stocky sea hag approached me with a big gray scooper in her hand and a prankster smile on her weather-beaten face.

“To settle the stomach, ja,” she attempted in gruff English.

She showed me the fish head and cackled. I seized up and wretched the rest of my innards overboard. Before I could regroup enough to curse her out, she was already back at the stern stirring her revolting cauldron of dead fish.

I just flipped her off with zero satisfaction, turned around and headed for the bow. The island was in front of us, its hilly outline barely visible in the haze. Yes, it was summer here, on the underside of the world. Little did I know at the time how far under I would go.

Could I jump off and swim fast enough to escape a speed boat? Definitely not. Even if I just swam normally without fear of being caught, would I reach the island before hypothermia set in? Not likely. They had warned me the water was cold, even in the summer, due to the Antarctic currents. And all they had given me to wear was a skimpy, two-piece turquoise bikini. There were no wetsuits in sight.

Was there anyone even on that island who could help me? And if my father couldn’t help me escape from The Bridge, who could?

Tears stung my eyes just as I instinctively felt someone else’s eyes on me. I turned to look up at the second deck and there he was: Dr. Peter van Wooten, smiling down at me. The rage took a second to fully engulf me, but then came his predictable wink, setting me off like a bomb.

“You!!! Where’s my father?! What did you do with Bill?! Where’s Adam and Max?! Why are you driving me around on this boat?!”

But he just kept smiling … and the next thing I felt was a hard shove from behind, and nothing hard beneath my bare feet.

The sea hag had bull-rushed me overboard, her laughs suddenly silenced when I belly-flopped into the ocean. I got my mouth above water and screamed from the pain, not from my collarbone — that had fully healed since Hurricane Felicia — but because that’s how frigid the water felt.

As I forced my shocked limbs to swim back toward the bow, the engine kicked on and the boat whipped around. It began moving away from me, so now I was chasing the stern. Peter had climbed down the rear ladder and joined the hag, both clearly amused by my predicament.

With no wetsuit, I knew I wouldn’t last long in this water before hypothermia set in. The island was too far away. I had to catch the boat, no matter how much it killed me to swim toward these assholes.

My lungs and body ached as I churned after the boat as fast as I could. Again the sea gulls taunted me, trailing the boat with ease and hovering around a big blue barrel next to the hag. That’s when she began reaching into the cauldron with her scooper and dumping the fish heads/guts into the water in front of me.

I slowed down for a second, repelled by the hideous smell, the gruesome chunks all around me and the terrible thoughts knifing through my brain.

“Fucking shark week!” I shouted, tredding the icy water and shooting Peter evil-yet-futile looks as the sea tossed me up and down.

He had grabbed a megaphone and directed it toward me, some 20 feet behind the slow-moving boat.

“Maybe now you’ll listen to my mother,” he said with a laugh, while wrapping an arm around her shoulder. “She can still kick some ass.”

She smiled, nodded and poured more shark bait into the sea.

“Nothing like starting the new decade off with a nice, brisk swim, eh Nikki?” Peter ribbed me into his megaphone. “But I’d advise you to pick up your pace and get back on deck as soon as possible.”

I swore at him through gulps of water, gagging and crashing through the waves as I resumed my ragged and desperate pursuit of the boat.

Then I heard the hag cry out. “Shark!!!”

She didn’t need a megaphone. I heard her well enough for the paralyzing chill to rip through me. And I’m sure she was only too happy to shriek that word in my language.

My response was to scream like a banshee until I realized maybe I better not draw any more attention to myself beyond my flailing and splashing.

Then my drenched eyes locked on the massive gray fin and I froze in the water, my teeth chattering as a wave washed over me.

The fin disappeared just as quickly, swerving around the front of the boat, so I surged forward again, but those foreign idiots kept driving the boat away from me.

“I’m really going to die. A great-white shark is going to have me for lunch,” I chattered to myself out loud, perhaps somehow trying to jinx the inevitable.

That’s when the boat stopped, still 20 or so feet away from me.

“Please … let me get back on!!” I shouted at Peter, who just eyed my predicament with morbid anticipation, like any fan of the movie, “Jaws.”

“Two sharks!!” the hag bellowed, pointing past me.

Now I would be a chew toy for two competing sharks, half of Nikki for each. I literally pissed into the sea and closed my eyes. I refused to even look back.

“Save her!” Peter suddenly yelled into his megaphone.

I faux-laughed, swallowed a rogue wave, choked and then wanted to scream, “Oh, now you fucks decide to save me, when it’s too fucking late!!”

But I never got the words out of my mouth for two reasons.

One, I saw what I thought was Fin No. 1 again, directly between me and the stern.

Two, a man in a hooded black wetsuit dove off the second deck and splashed into the water to the right of the boat.

He swam toward me and I rushed to meet him. He whipped around in front of me and shouted, “Put your arms around my neck!”

His voice sounded oddly familiar, but I didn’t get a good look at his face. He was young. And strong. I clung to his back through a wave and he swam us toward the boat.

“Thank you,” I yelled into his hooded ear as my eyes darted left and right to see where the next fin would pop up.

But my jaw dropped when he suddenly stopped in mid-stroke and jerked me off his back, still a good 8 feet from safety.

“What are you doing?!!” I screamed.

He grabbed me by the shoulders and looked me in the eyes.

“No fucking way!” he shouted.

I shuddered.

“B-but h-how?” was all I could stutter before I pushed away from his grasp and dove underneath the water. The cold didn’t even bother me anymore. I just dove and dove, ready to die — either by shark or lack of oxygen. I was done with this world.

However, the sight of a great-white shark under water, maybe 15 feet away, made me change my mind in a frozen heartbeat.

I shot back up to the surface and swam for the stern with whatever energy I had left.

“Save her or we’ll leave you both to die!” I heard Peter shout at Thomas “Lee” Harvey, his black hood bobbing in the water. The boat had moved slightly further away from us while I was under.

It was too late anyway. One of the sharks circled us both on his menu, mercifully choosing Thomas as the appetizer.

Yet Thomas refused to be lunch. When the shark’s head came up toward him at an angle, he reared back with his right arm and punched it hard near the eye. That caused the shark to swerve sharply away from us, enough so that I exploded toward the boat, thrashing violently until I reached the outstretched hand of our tormenter, Peter.

“That a girl!” he had the gall to say as he yanked me up with ease and placed my hypothermia-ruined body on the lower deck. At least I was still in one piece, I marveled to myself.

Peter tossed a warm blanket over my quasi-corpse, and then shouted toward the water, “Great job, Tom! There’s hope for you yet.”

“Fuck you!” Thomas shot back, refusing Peter’s attempt to assist him as he got back on board.

“Hey, shut the hell up and get yo ass back up here!” Roy shouted down from the top deck. “This ain’t some pussy prison.”

“No shit, I just punched out a shark.”

“A baby shark, really,” Peter pointed out, extending his arms as the boat dipped between waves. “Only about 3 meters long.”

Thomas shot him a homicidal stare, one I knew well. Peter just smiled, daring him to take a swing. Roy descended the ladder a few rungs and towered over both of them, but he glowered at Thomas.

“OK thug. Get back up there … or take your shot at a great black and see how that goes down,” Roy challenged him.

“And I wouldn’t call Roy a baby,” Peter quipped.

Thomas kept his mouth shut, started unzipping his wetsuit and dripped his way up the ladder following Roy. Thankfully, he never looked down at me, still a miserable heap on the deck.

Peter, on the other hand, flashed me his best anchor-man smile and, of course, a wink. I hissed and pulled the blanket over my head.

Thomas “Lee” Harvey — who should still be in prison on the other side of the world until 2039 for shooting me and Adam Upton because we derailed his plot to shoot up our New Hampshire high school — somehow had been reinserted into my real-life nightmare. He also had stared down a great-white shark and survived.

Looking at it another way, The Bridge had sprung my would-be killer out of jail and tricked him into rescuing me so they could apparently torture us both even more.

Perhaps succumbing as a chew toy for a “baby” shark would have been a more merciful fate after all.

Read the rest of the book on Kindle ($2.99) or in paperback ($13.99) at the Amazon link below. The book is also available at Hickory Stick Bookshop in Washington Depot, Conn., and all major ebook retailers. The first two books in the Nikki Janicek series, STREAKS OF BLUE and NIKKI BLUE: SOURCE OF TROUBLE, also are available at all of the same retailers.

Cal-Santa Barbara student fooled by Nikki White ending, Chaucer celebrates on release eve

Kailyn Kausen, an 18-year-old writing/literature student at University of California Santa Barbara, read STREAKS OF BLUE, NIKKI BLUE: SOURCE OF TROUBLE and NIKKI WHITE: POLAR EXTREMES (which officially drops tomorrow!) right in a row. She posted this awesome 4-star review that sums up her journey through the series on Goodreads and Amazon yesterday …

“Man, I’m angry with myself because I feel like I should have anticipated the ending to this book, but I didn’t, so cheers to Mr. Chaucer on that one.

I love the character transformations in this one. I was questionable at the end of the second book because I didn’t like where Nikki’s character was going. She seemed a little selfish, hopeless, and stupid, but in this last book, her character really takes a turn for the better. She decides to do something about her predicament and be smart about it.

Thomas also had great character development in this one, shown especially when he decides to tell Nikki what The Bridge plans to do to her. I wanted it to be Adam the entire time (from literally book one), but when Thomas gave Nikki the note and said something about wanting to give her a baby the right way, I was sold. Thomas, buddy, you deserve it (with Nikki’s consent of course).

For a while I was confused with The Bridge because why the heck would they put so much time and money into these individuals who are giving them a hard time, but then I finally came to the conclusion that The Bridge is literally an organizational embodiment of a politician. Getting the name out there? Check. Doing something crazy to raise their status? Attempted. Using money and force if necessary to bend people to their will? Necessary in any politician’s campaign.

I mentioned in my review of the second book that I didn’t see how the books tied together other than with the characters and that I didn’t think that was necessarily a strong enough connection for the books to make sense in a series together. I think this last book might have changed my mind on that (although I still wish there was another dream premonition) because Nikki’s connection to Thomas was the driving force of The Bridge in this last book. They were so power hungry they had to prove they could make a relationship as negative as Thomas and Nikki’s turn around completely.

A negative I had with the first book was an overwhelming amount of description. Throughout the first book, there was a growth in the writing style where the amount of description decreased. Throughout the series, an even more dramatic transformation. Nikki White has a great amount of description in my opinion – just enough to lay the scene, but little enough that the pacing isn’t slowed.

I don’t give out five stars hardly ever, except to books that I’ll keep coming back to five or ten years from now. I likely won’t keep coming back to this series, so I can’t give it five stars, but a different me in a different universe might slap a five on this book with no hesitation.”

NIKKI WHITE: POLAR EXTREMES IS OFFICIALLY RELEASED TOMORROW, MARCH 24th, as the sun really sets for six months of darkness at South Pole Station. Here’s the link to buy the Kindle and paperback editions. Kindle ($2.99) is available right now! Paperback ($13.99) out tomorrow!!

Thomas and Bill at the bar in Nikki White

Adobe Photoshop PDF“How did an old man like you hook up with Nikki in the first place?”

Bill gave me a fuck-you look and took another drink.

“I didn’t shoot her, for one,” he said with his smart-ass tone.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32701847-nikki-white

Full chapter excerpt: Thomas meets the universe at the South Pole

NIKKI WHITE: POLAR EXTREMES
CHAPTER 30: $19 MILLION BURNT RUG
Thomas
April 14, 2020

darksectornikki-white-d2Finally, the Dark Sector.

I followed the old man up the snowy stairs and into the tallest, newest telescope at the South Pole. Snowbow had given us a lift in a snowcat because it was 60-below and dropping fast. We entered the circular building at the base of the rotating telescope. The shell of the thing stared into space at an angle.

Once we got inside and shed some layers of winter gear, Willem showed me around.

“Where is everyone?” I asked.

“It’s my shift and you’re my assistant,” he said. “I gave my regular assistant the night off.”

“Cool.”

“Better than washing dishes, eh?”

“Hell yeah.”

Willem grabbed a bunch of ropes tied together and yanked them to one side. Then he hit some buttons on a console, causing the whole clam shell to rotate toward us in the center until it locked into place right above us. After admiring it for a second, Willem used a step ladder to climb up and open two handles on what looked like a big white cabinet that was facing down at us. He swung both doors of the cabinet all the way around so it was fully open. Then he stepped down the ladder, removed it and flipped on a light.

“Have a look,” he said, waving me on.

I moved under the opening and stared through the inside of the massive telescope. It went up and up and up, with windows near the top and darkness above it all. It looked like you could fit a small rocket inside it — that’s how big it was, narrowing at the top.

“Cool,” I said.

Willem practically spat at my response. “Cool? That’s $19 million worth of cool!”

“You must get some sick close-ups of the moon.”

Willem shook his head in disgust. “Don’t they teach you anything in your pathetic American schools? We ain’t looking at the fucking moon with a massive instrument like this.”

“What then?”

“Have you ever wondered, Thomas, where we all come from? Where this whole universe we live in got started?”

“Not a whole lot.”

“Well, I figured that so let me try to get you up to speed.”

“Shoot.”

“The universe started about 14 billion years ago with a huge release of energy called the Big Bang. To give you some perspective, Earth is about 4 and a half billion years old. With this telescope, we can see the light and other waves of energy produced before the galaxies, stars and planets were even born. We can see what space looked like when the universe was very young.”

“How young?”

“If the universe was 100 years old today, this telescope can show us what it looked like when it was about 8 minutes old.”

“Holy shit.”

“That is some holy shit. We’re studying what is called the cosmic microwave background for signs of the Big Bang’s earliest ripple effects. We’re also learning more about the 95 percent of the universe that we cannot see — dark matter and dark energy.”

“Is that why they call this the Dark Sector?” I asked.

“Maybe you do have a brain in that skull of yours. That’s one reason. Another is this telescope does most of its work during winter, when it’s dark all the time.”

I nodded and walked over to a bulletin board, which was plastered with all kinds of information and photos on it.

“Yes, study that and learn more about what we do here while I perform some routine maintenance tasks,” Willem said.

“Have you shown Nikki or Adam or Bill this place yet?” I asked.

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because they haven’t earned the right to see it yet and you have,” he said, strolling over to a computer on the far side of the room.

Me? Head of the class? That’s 14 billion jolts of Big Bang-style explosive shock right there.

I leaned in and looked closer at the bulletin board of telescope stuff. One wicked weird photo caught my eye.

“This image shows a section of the universe 14 billion years ago, as mapped by the South Pole Telescope. The image shows 1/100th of the sky.”

That was the note in small print underneath the photo.

Then I squinted at the picture for an even closer look. No moons, no stars, no planets and no galaxies. To me, it looked like they zoomed in real fucking close on a piece of burnt rug.

Hell, I could’ve gotten them a shot like that for free and pocketed the $19 million myself.

Cold, isolating bitch

nikki-white-paperback-d2I hate the way The Bridge shuffles the deck like we’re a bunch of playing cards. I also hate the way they switch out who’s dealing. It used to be Virgil trying to control me and Adam and Bill. Then it was David. Then it was Peter, who also flipped the Thomas card over on the table just to screw with me.
Now it’s Willem’s turn as dealer, with an assist from Ina and the cold, isolating bitch that is Antarctica.

– Nikki in Chapter 21: Card Trick from the novel “Nikki White: Polar Extremes” (Nikki, #3), coming 3-24-17

Nikki White full chapter excerpt: 02-20-2020 … ISIS impact even felt at South Pole

nikki-white-3dCHAPTER 24: SHOCK
Nikki
February 20, 2020

One thing you learn pretty quickly at the South Pole, especially after coming inside from the outside, is to reduce your static charge as you walk around the station. If you don’t regularly touch something metal, the next door knob you grab will give you a serious, painful shock.

Then there’s the other kind of shock: the one when you turn a corner and see two people embracing who you never could’ve imagined doing so.

I slowed myself to all but motionless when I saw Thomas, of all people, hesitantly hugging the sobbing sea hag, Ina, in the hallway outside the communications room — one of several places Willem had denied us Martian trainees/abductees access to for obvious reasons.

“What happened?” I asked.

“ISIS,” Thomas said, barely even looking at me as Ina stepped back from him and wiped her wrinkled face with a shriveled-up tissue.

It was just stunning for me to see her show a vulnerable side for once.

“What about ISIS?” I asked.

“Double suicide bombings in Berlin and D.C. at the same time,” Thomas said.

Ina resumed sobbing and stumbled down the hall, her normally sturdy frame crushed inward from grief.

“Her twin brother got killed in Berlin,” Thomas added when she was out of earshot. “She said Peter emailed the station to let her know.”

“And she turned to you for comfort?”

He shrugged and looked down. He seemed embarrassed, an equally rare sight.

“She was just bawling and I was the first person she ran into. I asked her what was wrong and she told me. It’s hard to understand her, but I’m pretty sure she said thousands killed.”

I shook my head and tried to reconcile the irony of a former wannabe mass killer being the messenger at a time like this, but I could not.

With or without us, the cruel world we left behind carried on just the same. More senseless killing, every minute of every day, somewhere.

For a brief moment, I appreciated the isolation of Antarctica, even beside the likes of Thomas.

“And what do you think of ISIS?” I heard myself ask him without thinking.

He smirked, like he knew something no normal person could appreciate.

“Today is 02-20-2020 … that ain’t no coincidence. What’s your twenty? Two twenty — two locations they bombed at the same time. Fucking towel heads got a way with numbers and shit,” Thomas said before walking down the hall and leaving my head spinning.

I guess all killers think alike.

Cover reveal for Nikki White: Polar Extremes

nikki-white-d2Coming March 24, 2017 … when the sun sets at the South Pole. Ironically, the least dark of the three books in my Nikki Janicek series is mostly set during winter at South Pole Station, where it’s dark 24 hours a day from March until September. The best twists come out of the most extreme conditions! Props to Damon Za of South Africa for another amazing cover. Nikki looks frozen in ice … very fitting indeed.