Authors: Louis Kirby
Shadow of Eden
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents, are the product of the authors imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, or events is entirely coincidental.
Correspondence should be addressed to:
Scale Publishing, 3219 E camelback Road, Suite 809
Phoenix, Arizona, 85018
Cover designed by Cali MacKay
Copyright 2013 by Louis Kirby All rights reserved.
For Carol and Kira
Most humble and sincere thanks to:
Captain Philip Tucker of British Airways, who showed me around the cockpit of a 747 while in flight.
Admiral John Batzler, a Navy Top Gun pilot, a carrier fleet captain, and ultimately admiral, who gave me key information about the operations of a carrier fleet.
I have a deep debt of gratitude to John Calverley, MD, the late department of Neurology Chair of the University of Texas Medical Branch, who mentored me during the three years of a fascinating neurology residency and is an expert in all things clinical.
I need to thank my two book editors, Marlene Adelstein and Shannon Anderson, who each provided me with critical and timely feedback.
I had multiple thoughtful early readers, each of whom provided me with their wisdom and insight. These included Robert Allen, Malca Resnick, Joseph Rogers, Harvey Tilker and Guy Pilato.
And most importantly, to Carol, my wife and advisor who supported and encouraged me through multiple drafts and edits.
Table of Contents
he cockpit of a 747 in flight is normally a quiet place. Captain Ralph Palmer’s head, however, jack-hammered with pain. As he rubbed his thumb against his throbbing temple, he decided to take more Advil, despite his inflamed stomach. Maybe it would calm the pounding long enough to land.
His right arm jerked twice and his mind flitted back to the nightmare that threatened to rush back in. His sudden jerks attracted another concerned glance from his first officer, Joseph McElroy.
“Joe, I need to make another bathroom run before initial descent. Can you mind her?”
“No problem,” McElroy sighed, putting down his clipboard.
Palmer backed his seat out. “Thanks. You have the plane.”
“I have the plane.”
Swinging his legs past the throttle console, Palmer stood up and stretched, grimacing at the surge in pain. The space behind the pilots where Palmer stood was spacious by cockpit standards, with two additional sheepskin covered seats and a seven-foot ceiling.
Another flashback burst into his brain as his right arm twitched in concert. They had occurred intermittently during the five-hour flight from Heathrow to Dulles. He had not told McElroy about the flashbacks, but the arm jerks would not be disguised.
When he had first noticed them following take-off, McElroy had asked him to scrub, but Palmer had casually brushed them off as ‘no big deal.’ McElroy had reluctantly accepted his decision but from that point on had watched him carefully, refusing to engage in the usual cockpit chitchat. Despite his apparent casual attitude, Palmer would be glad to get this flight behind him. Especially since an ice storm was threatening to move into the Washington DC area.
The plane was approaching initial descent and if he was going to down any more headache meds, he had better do it now.
Palmer called the upper galley and within a moment, Enrique Oliveros, the purser, knocked on the door. Palmer pushed the release button, allowing his entry. “Enrique, can you spot me another trip to the head?”
“I sure can, Captain.”
Slipping into the lavatory, Palmer downed four more Advils and chewed six Tums. Sighing, he leaned up against the door and closed his eyes.
Why is this happening?
He was proud of his health. He had passed every physical thrown at him, even after his release from the North Vietnamese prison camps.
As a young pilot, he had been shot down and captured in the last year of the Vietnam War. He had lived through nearly nine months of torture and near starvation by the North Vietnamese. Upon release, his physical health had quickly recovered. In fact, exercise had become his refuge and ultimate escape from the paralyzing flashbacks that had routinely flooded his mind. Although he had received counseling and his wife, Yvonne’s, careful nurturing, Palmer attributed his recovery from the flashbacks to the rigorous training schedules he undertook for running marathons. The offer from United, soon after his release from the service, confirmed in his mind that he had achieved his full recovery. He had carefully maintained a rigorous exercise program throughout the years, at least until his knee had started bothering him last year.
Why had his old flashbacks returned? Starting only last week, but with startling realism, he had begun to re-live his Vietnam nightmare, his nighttime ejection over the jungle, his brief attempt to flee, and his inevitable capture. As strong and as tough as he had become, he could not believe they were back.
He had mentioned his flashbacks and the new headaches to Yvonne. She had begged him to see a doctor, but he had put her off. Now, he wished he hadn’t.