Life On Base: Quantico Cave
by Tom and Nancy Wise
GENRE: Middle Grade Novel
For Stephen, his life on base is much the same as most other children’s. The difference is in the details. Look both ways before crossing a tank path and be sure to check if the spent bullet casings you find in the long-abandoned trenches are actually empty. Sports stop at the sound of the evening trumpet call as he and his friends stand at attention while the flag is retired. Quantico Cave is a story of friendship and competition, and when Stephen meets up with a friend he once knew at a previous home station, the contest hits a whole new level that places everyone at risk.
Stephen’s breath hung in the air, white in the early morning sunlight filtering through fresh fog that tangled in the low brambles of the Virginia woods. He hunkered alongside his topographical map, head down, butt planted in the grass. This orienteering challenge was his chance to do what a real Marine can do. His chin was propped on one bent knee that jutted out like a pale, bald mountaintop from his blue jean shorts. He wore his favorite t-shirt, marine drab with a scarlet-red Marine globe and anchor emblazoned on the front. Watching Jimmy from the corner of his eye, Stephen pondered their next move. Get it right. Semper Fi.
Jimmy looked like a deflated balloon as he stood next to Stephen. “We’re lost? Oh man. I can’t”
Stephen cut him off quickly. His head wobbled on top of his knee as he muttered, “Nope, we’re not,” without lifting his gaze from the map. “I got this.” And Dad is watching.
“We ain’t?” Jimmy sounded hopeful. His eyes scrunched as he focused hard, trying to see the map folded to their location. “I can’t lose. My Dad’ll kill me.”
“Stop. Alright?” Stephen mustered all the manliness of his twelve years and hoped his voice sounded more confident than he felt. He stole a quick glance toward the shadows. The camo-clad figure that followed the boys’ every move through the woods watched. Stephen tried not to look in that direction. Dad’s watching. He’s counting on you.
“They’re struggling, too.” His head bounced on his knee as he talked. “Look.” His eye, against his will, darted back to the shadow as he pointed to the map with a grubby index finger. “Where the lines come real close,” he said, peering through the blond hair that hung over his eyes. “Remember?”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Tom and Nancy Wise are award-winning authors. Their first novel, The Borealis Genome, is the grand- prize winner of the Chanticleer Book Reviews Dante Rossetti 2013 Award for YA Novels and Award Lab Lit Category. Thomas grew up in a military family moving from base to base as the child of a Marine, living the life of an officer’s brat in times of war while Nancy was raised the youngest child of a WWII veteran. When not working together on their novels, Tom teaches at University and authors articles on project management topics and nonfiction books published by Gower Publishing in the UK.