Lost in time after a failed attempt to kill Hitler before his rise to power, World War II soldier Cpl. Jack Mallory finds himself stranded, his whole team killed, nearly 100 Million years off course. Together with a group of other wayward time travelers, Mallory has to fight to survive in a hostile environment swarming with dinosaurs. Desperate to find a way home, the community of lost travelers searches for any solution that might send them all home and unlock the secret that shipwrecked them on the shores of time... But the jungle holds a secret from Mallory's future-past... ...and it's out to kill them all!
Having already selected The Serpent's Head for the bundle, I put out a call for any authors who might be interested in contributing a second work. Operation Montauk was the first suggestion offered, and I instantly fell in love. Seriously, time travel, a mission to kill Hitler, and an involuntary jaunt into prehistory? What's not to love! – Joseph R. Lallo
"...I could not put this book down, only my need to sleep and work prevented me from finishing this in one sitting...So to sum up, is this book a must-read? Yes. Emphatically so."– Andrea Levine, [insertgeekhere]
"Readers will be on the edge of their seats from start to finish as they meet futuristic scientists on a spaceship to World War II soldiers."– Jean Rabe, author and editor
A SHRILL, GROWLING shriek jolted Jack Mallory from the black of unconsciousness. The grit pressed against his face felt like sand or soil, leading him to believe he'd been thrown from his transport. That was the first clue he wasn't where he was supposed to be. The brass doing the mission briefing were confident they'd reappear in the middle of a populated area just outside of Berlin.
Sounds of the commotion around him slowly bled into focus. Screaming and gunfire added to the chaos, all a direct response to the thrashing brays that brought images of gnashing teeth and death. The odds of them running into a Nazi patrol were put at about fifty-fifty, depending on the time of day and specific date they arrived, so they had come ready for a firefight.
The sounds he heard were unlike anything he'd been prepared for.
The low growling of an animal reverberated in his brain.
Had they landed in the Berlin Zoo?
Feeling helpless, he told his eyes to open and his arms to draw in beneath him to push himself up, but the signals didn't work. He tried screaming, shouting, hoping to let someone know he was alive, but that didn't work either.
The cacophony around him and his inability to move almost convinced him he was experiencing a nightmare, an unexpected side effect of his trip. He wanted to open his eyes and find himself in a movie theatre, one arm around a pretty girl, waiting for the newest Betty Grable picture to start.
The sounds of the battle sharpened, and Mallory thought he could make out the distinct scream of the captain sent to lead the mission. A burst of adrenaline and new resolve shocked his system, and that's when the ability to control himself returned. His eyes snapped open, but his vision was obscured by the dark goggles the scientists had forced him to wear. Slowly, his right hand cooperated, inching its way up to his face, pulling off the darkened lenses.
His immediate field of view was of the edge of a clearing. Tropic foliage reached all the way up to the sky.
He had no time to wonder about his curious surroundings; another snarling and the scream of a comrade from behind reminded him of the danger he was in.
With a quick jerk of his neck, Mallory turned his attention toward the noise. What he saw chilled the blood in his body and would have paralyzed a lesser man with fear.
His captain and comrades were all dead or dying. Jones, the only other soldier who had survived the impact of their time-trip, was screaming, a hoarse fear shooting to the top of his lungs. It could barely be heard beneath the growls of the creature that had its jaws wrapped around his neck.
The monster stood on top of the truck, craning its neck down to eat Mallory's compatriot. The reptilian beast stood at least six feet high at the shoulder and was fringed with bright feathers along the ridges of its arms, down its tail, and around its neck.
As it clamped down hard with the muscles in its mouth, Mallory could hear a sharp snapping. The gurgling screams coming out of his fellow soldier ceased abruptly.
Mallory found the final reserves of strength in his body, brought on by adrenaline and survival instinct, and got to his feet, pulling around the rifle that had been slung across his back, and aiming it at the creature.
Yanking back on the trigger, the bullets embedded themselves quick and deep into the rubbery hide of the thing.
It squealed in pain, shifting its constant shriek into a coughing bark that reminded Mallory of a war cry.
Baring its teeth, it pulled its body tight into defensive posture. It hissed and coughed, clearly trying to scare Mallory away.
That moment of time froze for Mallory, and he was finally able to process what it was he was looking at. He had a hard time locating the right word. His mind kept telling him the word dinosaur, but that was impossible.
Impossible or not, it was a threat, and it had to be dealt with, even if it wasn't a Nazi.
Mallory fired another shot, his M1 rifle kicking into his shoulder at virtually the same moment a bullet exploded into the face of the creature.
It fell limp, tumbling over the side of the transport and hitting the soil with a thud.
He put the pain that weighed down his body out of his mind, took a moment to survey the scene before him, and was immediately crestfallen.
His team was dead. Jones was bleeding out from the teeth marks in his face and neck. Their mission leader and pilot, Captain Stevens, had been killed on impact with the steering column. Of the three privates that made up the rest of the team, Mallory could only see two of them on top of the transport, hanging limply over the edges. Even from a distance, he could see blood dripping down their dead, dangling fingers. A trail of blood leading into the woods told him where his third man had been dragged. Whatever it was that killed Jones, there were definitely more of them around, stalking him.
His suspicions confirmed, Mallory turned on his heel and raised his rifle again at the sound of a blood-curdling warble echoing in the air around him. It sounded like a jungle cat, possessed.
There was movement in the tree line ahead of him. Thick green leaves swayed in the still air, disturbed by whatever monstrosity had made the noise.
Mallory sighted the undulating leaves down the barrel of the gun. Even the faintest echo of the sound had faded to an eerie, still quiet.
Painting the gun back and forth against the landscape like a brush, Mallory scanned the foliage for any sign of the animal.
Another heaving bellow from the oversized lizard shattered the silence, only this time it came from an entirely different direction altogether. It emanated from Mallory's left side. In a flash, he had his sights set on the empty patch of trees his ears had led him to.
The noise was gone, making the only audible sound his own thumping heartbeat.
Without lowering his rifle, he took a step toward the tree line. His knees almost buckled beneath his weight, the pain shot up from his legs and through his back, but he had to discard it, put it aside. He had to focus on the mortal danger he was in and had no room in his head for personal pain.
Step after careful step, Mallory moved toward the tree line, fifty feet from where he crashed through time and space.
He slowed, then stopped, overcome with a creeping feeling across the back of his shoulder. It tingled at the base of his neck and spread outward, causing a shiver down his back.
He was being watched.
Mallory stretched the periphery of his vision as much as he could, looking as far over each shoulder as possible without turning his head further. He prayed the creature would assume he was distracted and make itself known so he could surprise it with his military reflexes and a bullet in its brain.
The warbling screech sounded out again and filled the air with terror, only this time it was off to the left. He swung around, leveling the rifle at another one of the prehistoric creatures.
The beast took two careful steps toward Mallory, then screamed as it bolted into a full run, mouth full of razored teeth agape. Snapping out of his stupor, Mallory squeezed off three quick shots from his rifle, each of them impacting into the snout and eyes of the creature. Its forward momentum carried it down and its chin hit the ground in front of Mallory. Hard.
It skid a few feet further, giving him a moment to catch his breath, but it was short lived. The entire play was a ruse. The roar of another dinosaur pierced Mallory's ears from his right side.
Caught completely off guard by the charging animal, Mallory tried bringing his gun around to deal with this one as he had the other.
But it was no good.
With fifteen feet left between it and its prey, the raptor leapt into the air, extending its claws and howling. Instinctively, Mallory closed his eyes and braced for impact, hoping his death wasn't too painful.
Was that a gunshot?
Peeking his eyes open, Mallory was just in time to see the dinosaur get blasted by a massive concussive force, knocking his reptilian attacker off course. The projectile that hit the monster smashed into its left side. A great crack of bone accompanied a spray of thick, red blood.
Another shot sounded, this time the bullet pulverized the monster's face before it hit the ground.
Standing far off to his right, with an old fashioned high calibre British Enfield rifle, was an older gentleman in a waist-coat with a pocket-watch. The old man lowered his big-game hunting firearm, smoke wafting from the barrel, to reveal his face. He was tanned over his bald head, and the tops of his cheeks were bright red with exposure. The rest of his face below that, minus his chin, was covered in thick, straight white hair.
Mallory wondered who he was. Mustachioed mutton-chops had gone out of style two generations previous, and the gun he carried looked like an antique from the days of British colonialism. This man was as much of an antique as his gun.
Behind the man was a woman with long blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail. She was shapely and showing more skin than Mallory was accustomed to. She wore a tank-top and tight, cotton track shorts that were pulled up to her waist and didn't extend down her legs more than a few inches. She held a pistol in both hands, but Mallory was pretty sure she wasn't the one doing the shooting.
Mallory blinked once more, trying to comprehend the scene around him. But, between the cognitive dissonance of his surroundings, his saviors, and the excruciating pain from his journey, his body finally succumbed.
He fainted, hitting the ground like a dropped sack. Through the blackness, he could vaguely hear them speaking.
"Damn it," the old man shouted. "Now we'll have to carry him back."
"Do they always do this?"
"So it seems."
"That was different."
"Grab his legs. Quickly, before they come back."