On The Run Book Two:
The Fugitive Factor
The Fugitive Factor is book two in Gordon's largest project, yet. On the Run is a massive 6 book adventure series about a brother and sister who are on the run from the law, trying to clear their parents who have been framed as spies. All six books are now available in stores.
Gordon had this to say: "The idea to feature kids who are wanted by the FBI was a real change in my adventure writing. In my trilogies, the danger came from the setting -- an island, a mountain, shark-infested waters. But when you're a fugitive, the entire world becomes dangerous for you. In a way, it's scarier than an eighteen-foot shark, because you can't get away from it. No matter where you go, your face is still in the newspapers and on TV. That's something you can never escape."
We've received several comments from readers on our discussion forum that indicate this may well be Gordon's best series ever, and we highly recommend giving it a try. "That's how I see it ... you got a problem with that?"
From the book:
FALCONER KIDS STILL AT LARGE
BURLINGTON, VT, AMALGAMATED WIRE SERVICE: Aiden and Margaret Falconer, children of convicted traitors Doctors John and Louise Falconer, are the last two escapees still at large after the most daring prison break in the history of the Department of Juvenile Corrections.
On the night of August 21st, seventeen young offenders fled Sunnydale Farm in Nebraska while the minimum-security facility burned to the ground in a blaze that is now considered arson. Aiden Falconer, 15, is the prime suspect in that fire.
He and his sister Margaret, 11, were placed in the juvenile corrections system for their own protection after their parents received life sentences for aiding and abetting foreign terrorists. The Falconer children were last seen in the resort town of Colchester in northern Vermont …
The boy stepped timidly into the lobby of the Red Jacket Motor Lodge. He was about fifteen or sixteen, tall and thin, with short dark hair.
“What can I do for you, son?” the desk clerk asked.
“This might sound weird.” His shorts and t-shirt were ragged and dirty, but so many kids dressed that way these days, especially on vacation. “My uncle Frank stayed in this hotel. Nine years ago.”
“You're sure? That's a long time.”
The teen nodded earnestly. “It was my birthday. I was six. But he's kind of lost touch with the family, so my mom wanted me to ask if maybe you still have his address on the computer.”
“We're not allowed to give away guest information,” the man said. “Not even after nine years.”
“Are you sure?” the boy wheedled. “It would really mean a lot to my mom. She hasn't seen her brother since forever.”
“Sorry,” the desk clerk told him. “Hotel rules.”
As the disappointed boy slunk out of the lobby, the man wondered if perhaps he should alert the police about the young visitor with the strange request. After all, there had been fugitives spotted in the area – the children of those notorious Falconers. And wasn't the older one a teenager?
But this had been one kid, not two. Besides, people who are running from the cops don't walk into public places to make unusual requests. This was nothing – just a summer family trying to track down a long lost relative. It happened all the time.
Had the desk clerk been paying closer attention, he would have seen the teenager jog not to a waiting car, but around the side of the building to the narrow ravine behind the motel. There, Aiden Falconer found his sister Meg crouched in the underbrush.
“It's a no-go,” he reported sadly. “The guy's a stickler.”
“It figures.” Meg pulled a weathered photo from her pocket. It showed a young man and woman sunning in lounge chairs on the pool deck of this very hotel.
The man had long red hair and a beard. Frank Lindenauer – Uncle Frank, they had once called him. He was much more than a family friend. He was their parents' CIA handler. Frank Lindenauer had convinced the husband and wife criminologist team of John and Louise Falconer to develop profiles to help American agents identify terrorist sleeper cells.
She shuddered at the awful memory. What had gone wrong? How had the Falconer profiles fallen into the hands of the very terrorists they had been designed to defeat?
Maybe Lindenauer knew. He was the only person who could prove that the Falconers had been working for the CIA the whole time. They weren't traitors! They were patriots! If only they could have found him before the trial –
Stop! Meg commanded herself. That kind of thinking was useless. It made her cry. Worse, it made her weak – the one thing she and Aiden couldn't afford to be if they were going to get their parents out of prison and clear their names.
“Listen,” Meg said determinedly. “The information we need is on that computer in there. It's our only lead. Without it we're dead in the water. If that desk clerk was a thousand-pound grizzly bear, we couldn't let him stop us!”
“I agree,” Aiden said readily. “But what can we do? Knock him out with a tire iron?”
She was stubborn. “If that's what it takes.”
“Be serious! Who do you think we are – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid?”
Meg thought it over. “Stay hidden, but keep an eye on the office. When the guy leaves, that's our chance.”
Aiden looked dubious. “But what if he doesn't leave?”
“He'll leave. Trust me.”
Meg walked along the narrow dirt lane that separated the back of the motel from the woods. She kept an eye on the row of identical bathroom windows in the façade of cedar shakes.
Closed … closed … closed … jackpot.
The metal sash was raised a couple of inches. Meg peered inside. No toothbrushes or toiletries on the vanity. Beyond the bathroom door, two made beds.
She pushed the window open and hoisted herself up and in.
Smoke detector right over the bed. Perfect.
She pulled a box of matches from her pocket, struck one, and held it to the corner of the yellow pages under the nightstand. There was instant combustion. She climbed onto the bed and held the blazing directory like a torch to the smoke alarm.
The siren went off almost immediately. Meg jumped down, rushed to the bathroom, and tossed the flaming phone book into the toilet bowl. Then she wriggled back out through the window and hit the ground running.
When the alarm went off, Aiden reacted with shock. A fire? Now?
Or – he watched the desk clerk rush out of the office – Meg's plan in action?
Typical Meg – using an M-1 tank to swat a mosquito. He hoped she wasn't crazy enough to burn down the motel.
He sprinted into the office, where the wailing klaxon was cranked way beyond the tolerance level. Wincing, he ducked behind the desk and pounced on the computer.
GUEST FILES. He clicked the tab marked 1996, and under NAME SEARCH, typed LINDENAUER.
SEARCH RESULTS = 0
Aiden frowned. Nine years ago – 1996. What was going on here?
Lindenauer wasn't the simplest name in the world. Maybe it had been entered wrong. He tried a few possible misspellings: Lyndenauer … Lindennauer … Lindinauer …
Meg appeared at his arm. “Find it?” She had to shout to be heard.
Aiden shook his head and kept trying. Lindenower … Lindenour …
“What if he didn't pay?” Meg suggested.
“He'd only be on the computer if he was the one who paid for the room,” Meg reasoned. “Maybe his girlfriend paid. What was her name?”
“Aunt –” Another problem. Uncle Frank had a lot of girlfriends. All of them had been introduced as Aunt Somebody. Even Mom and Dad used to have trouble telling them apart. They had referred to Lindenauer's many relationships as The Soap Opera. The joke had turned agonizingly un-funny during the trial. In their attempts to find the CIA agent himself, the Falconers' lawyers had tracked down a handful of his exes – a gaggle of aunts. But no uncle.
Aiden frowned. He was missing something important. The last year and a half had been just a blur, but not the trial. He remembered everything about that – every word, every detail, right down to the jingling of their parents' leg irons as they were led away for the final time. How could anybody forget the end of the world?
When he'd been away from the courtroom, he'd pored over the transcripts, memorizing the testimony he'd missed. He especially recalled the desperate meetings with Mom, Dad, and the lawyers, as they scrambled to come up with evidence, no matter how flimsy, that Frank Lindenauer existed. The parade of exes – Aunt Brigitte, Aunt Caroline, Aunt Trudy …
He had a murky vision of a tall brunette, holding out a wrapped present. His heart skipped a beat. My birthday! My sixth birthday!
Aiden's birthday was July 24th . They had celebrated in Vermont! The missing ex was the girlfriend in the picture! What was her name? Aunt –
Come on! Think!
“Jane! Aunt Jane!”
“Jane what?” Meg demanded
“I don't know!” He typed in JANE.
SEARCH RESULTS = 39
He narrowed the time frame to July.
SEARCH RESULTS = 4
A quartet of records filled the screen. Only one fell over July 24th:
Jane Macintosh, 240 East University Street, #23C, Boston, Massachusetts.
“That's the one.”
Meg scribbled the address down on a sheet of hotel stationery and stuffed it in her pocket. “We're golden!”
And then a fire engine squealed into the hotel parking lot, sirens blaring.
Copyright © 2005 Gordon Korman, used by permission