Alexandria Rising Chronicles Book 1
by Mark Wallace Maguire
Genre: Action-Adventure, Conspiracy, Suspense
Rand O'Neal, an ambition-less newspaper reporter, is given a single task upon the death of his grandfather: Destroy a mysterious map. What should be a simple errand thrusts Rand into a journey across three countries chased by unknown pursuers into a world he never could have imagined. The novel has been reviewed as, "Superb," "Amazing" and "Extremely well written" and has drawn comparisons to Dan Brown, Ian Fleming and Robert Ludlum. The book is labelled an action adventure, but contains elements of science fiction, suspense and mystery. It is also linked to a multi-media website which allows readers to engage with the experience in video, images and interactive appendices. .
Rand leaned back in the cool confines of the taxi heading south on Interstate 75 toward Atlanta’s hip Midtown District.
The air-conditioning brought him a temporary relief and he breathed in the air deeply, wiping his sweaty forehead with his shirt.
He had been too busy staunching his bleeding arm and making sure his backpack still held all his possessions that he barely registered the taxi was already gliding into a parking lot for MARTA, Atlanta’s maligned public transportation system. There wasn’t a baseball game underway or a music festival so the lot was half-empty for a Saturday afternoon, the blinding white sunshine lending a washed out look to the oil-stained pavement.
The taxi driver slowed down. Rand fished in his pocket for some money.
“You got change for a hundred?”
“A hundred? No, amigo. I’m not a high roller, like you.”
“Here,” Rand shoved the bill forward, “Just give me 20 in return and if anyone asks, I am going north to the North Springs station to meet some friends.”
“Hey, amigo, who would ask, I – ”
Rand shut the door, ignored buying a subway token, slipped over the turnstile and ran toward the stairs leading to the underground terminal.
As he reached the first step, he heard the screech of tires and turned to see the silver Mercedes screech to a halt in the parking lot.
“Damn it,” he muttered.
He hoped they would question the taxi driver. He had no intentions of heading north to the North Springs station. He was heading south to the airport.
He raced to the bottom of the stairs hoping to catch a quickly-departing train, but his enthusiasm waned as the rush of warm air rose up around him signaling another fresh departure.
He quickly took stock of his surroundings. Faux-Greek columns and wire trash baskets standing at attention. A quiet clatter of plastic bottles and whisper of paper bags drifting across the floor. No one else was there.
What to do? What to do?
A mechanical female voice interrupted his thoughts.
“Train 42 arriving in two minutes. Train 42 arriving in two minutes. Heading southbound. Stops include Civic Center, Mechanicsville and Airport.”
The sound of footsteps clicking down the steps.
Fast. Nimble. Getting closer. Closer.
Rand wrenched one of the wire trash baskets from its spindly column and hid behind a column.
The footsteps reached the landing. Rand could barely hear the click clack of heels walking around. Cautiously. Deliberately. He hoped whoever it was would think he was on the train that just left. The steps seemed to stop. He could hear his heart beating in his ears.
“Train 42 arriving in one minute. Train 42 arriving one minute. Heading southbound. Stops include Civic Center, Mechanicsville and Airport.”
Rand waited. Thought. He didn’t know what type of chance he would have to board the train if his pursuer was still on the landing. It was a risk he could not take. He had to do something. Either go down fighting or go down running. He heard the steps again, barely audible, moving slowly, heels scraping on concrete. Definitely moving toward him. He crouched behind the column. Bent his knees.
“To hell with it,” he thought.
He swung around the column, the wire basket over his head and ran straight ahead, a yell escaping from his throat.
He saw the back of a shaved head, began to turn and his eyes met Venator’s. Empty-handed, a half-look of surprise on his face.
He reached inside his suit jacket and pulled out a gun, but Rand was too quick and bashed the wire trash can onto his head. The gun spilled from the man’s grasp and slid across the landing. Venator staggered, but remained on his feet.
Rand didn’t give him a chance to recover and lifted the trash can again slamming it down on the head. This time, Venator fell to the floor. A bloody welt on his head, but still aware, he tried to rise. Rand straddled him and delivered a solid right hook to his face. Then an uppercut from his left. He felt Venator’s hand grip his sleeve, felt a knee in his torso. Rand swung again with his right, saw the man’s jaw snap back. A trickle of blood on the lips. Rand had forgotten the brutal excitement of the act. The impact of fist into bone and tissue. The gratifying release of anger and, simultaneously, the self-repulsive act of watching someone reel back from his own body. He ignored the raging pain that spread across his fist and hit him again, this time feeling the soft tissue of a nose break.
The man’s eyes were closed.
Rand kicked him in the stomach for good measure and was aiming another swift kick, when he heard the train whisper to a stop behind him.
He turned, half-guilty, hoping no eyes inside had seen him.
He looked around the platform again. No one. He saw the gun beckoning to him on the cool tiled floor. Walked toward it, hesitated, then kicked it toward the stairs. Looked around again, paranoia threatening to dominate his thoughts. Nothing, but the red blink of a CCTV camera in the corner
“Damn eyes everywhere,” he muttered.
Rand hesitated then reached into Venator’s tailored coat, fingers reaching for anything, only finding a wallet. He stuffed it into his pocket. A muted bell rang.
“Train leaving. Preparing to depart to Civic Center, Mechanicsville, Airport.”
Rand half-ran, squeezed in between the pneumatic doors of the train as they closed behind him. Sat down on the sickly plastic seats, feeling conspicuous, just noticing the blood on his knuckles, the sweat glistening on his brow. Exhaled. His only other companions in the compartment were a punk rock couple ensconced in each other, tattoos and blazed hair lost in a blend of pierced kissing and groping.
Moments later, the only sound was the cool whistling as the train glided toward the airport.
Alexandria Rising Chronicles Book 2
He can't go home. He's dead in the real world. Everything has changed. Forever. In, 'Alexandria Reborn,' the anticipated sequel to 'Alexandria Rising' Rand O'Neal rises from the ashes to join an elite team in an effort to shift the power struggle set in motion by control of the alchemistic Slendoc Meridian. As this fast paced adventure continues, Rand will discover the answer to many of this questions, but will he lost Hope in the process?
As a preacher’s son, Mark Wallace Maguire spent his childhood crisscrossing the South soaking in the lilting dialects, oral traditions and cultural idiosyncransies. After a brief career in music, he settled behind the desk as a reporter at the Marietta Daily Journal and has spent the last 20 years as fixture in the metro Atlanta media scene. He currently serves as director of Cobb Life magazine and Cobb Business Journal. His writing has been published in many regional and national publications including Snake Nation Review, Reach of Song, Cobb Life magazine, Neighbor Newspapers and The Blood and Fire Review. He has been honored for his writing by several organizations including The Associated Press, The Society of Professional Journalists and The Georgia Poetry Society. In 2005, he was named the Berry College Outstanding Young Alumni of The Year. In 2017, he was nominated for Georgia Author of The Year for his first novel, “Alexandria Rising” which was described as “magical” and “phenomenal.” “Letters from Red Clay Country: Selected Columns” was published in 2015 and features the best of his award-winning newspaper and magazine columns. When he’s not writing, Maguire produces musical projects inspired by his favorite authors and books as well as painting, gardening and making Star Wars puns with his sons.