On The Run Book Four:
The Stowaway Solution
The Stowaway Solution is book four 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:
“Mr. Bass – your son is on line two.”
Mitchell Bass, the well-known Washington attorney, picked up the receiver. “Jonathan – is everything okay?”
“It's not Jonathan,” declared a voice that was both shaky and determined. “It's Aiden – Falconer.”
It was a name wrenched from the top stories of CNN. Doctors John and Louise Falconer, the husband and wife criminologists convicted of treason. The charge: aiding and abetting foreign terrorists.
Mitchell Bass had been their lawyer. He had tried – and failed – to prove that the Falconers had been working for the CIA.
Bass drew in a breath. Fifteen-year-old Aiden Falconer was a fugitive from justice. He and his eleven-year-old sister Meg had escaped from a prison farm for young offenders. They had been eluding the juvenile authorities, the FBI, and more than a dozen state and local police departments for more than two weeks.
“Aiden –” he managed. “Where are you? Is Meg with you? The FBI said you were in California –”
The voice on the phone was suddenly sharp, wary. “You talked to the FBI?”
“They called me,” Bass explained. “They thought you might try to contact your parents' lawyers. Aiden, listen to me – I talked to your parents, too.”
All at once, the teenager's tone softened. “How are they?”
“Worried sick,” the lawyer said honestly. “They're more concerned about you two than they are about prison, to be frank. Both of them begged me to convince you to turn yourselves in.”
There was hesitation on the other end of the line. “Turn ourselves in …” Aiden mused.
“Give me that phone!” There was a brief struggle, and then an angry voice – a young girl's – declared, “No way, Mr. Bass. If that's what you're thinking, forget it. The next cops we hang around will be the ones who let Mom and Dad out of jail.”
“Meg –” Bass said sympathetically. “Your parents are serving life sentences. We did everything we could, but –”
“You didn't do everything you could!” the girl cried. “We found evidence that Frank Lindenauer worked for the terrorists! How come nobody figured that out, huh?”
Bass was stunned. “That's impossible!” Frank Lindenauer was the Falconers' CIA contact. By the time of the trial, he had flat-out vanished. How could two kids on the run have uncovered what a team of professional investigators had missed?
Aiden came back on the line. “We got into Lindenauer's old gym locker. He had a stack of flyers for a charity run by HORUS Global Group – and HORUS was a front for the terrorists.”
“Remarkable!” exclaimed the attorney, making notes on a legal pad. “It could help the appeal. But you have to understand it doesn't prove anything to a judge. Just because Lindenauer may be guilty doesn't mean your parents are innocent.”
“That's why we have to dig deeper,” Aiden told him. “We need the information your firm gathered about HORUS.”
Bass was bug-eyed. “For what?”
“To prove our parents were framed. We have to find Lindenauer. Someone from HORUS knows where he is.”
“But there is no HORUS anymore,” Bass protested. “The FBI shut down their Denver headquarters and all their satellite offices. Everybody associated with the group is in jail.”
“Frank Lindenauer is out there somewhere,” Aiden pointed out. “ He's associated with HORUS. And there's a professional killer after us –”
Bass was appalled. “A killer?”
“He might just be a big, bald psycho. Or maybe some yahoo who wants revenge on our parents. But what if he was hired by HORUS to tie up the loose ends?”
“All the more reason why you have to go to the police,” Bass insisted. “You're in grave danger. Not just from this threat, but in general. Think of your mother and father. Surely it can't be your plan to add to their burdens –”
Yet despite his powers of persuasion, Bass could not convince the Falconer siblings to give themselves up. They honestly believed that their parents' only chance rode with them. He swallowed a lump in his throat. Good Lord, they were brave and admirable. Still, he could see nothing but tragedy in their future.
Their safety was his number one priority. But if they refused to be saved, he had to help them any way he could. With a heavy heart, he instructed Janine, his assistant, to fax the firm's file on HORUS Global Group to the number Aiden provided.
Janine sat unmoving in her swivel chair, the thick folder clutched to her chest. On the desk in front of her lay a copy of The Washington Post , open to page six. Her eyes were glued to Department of Juvenile Corrections photographs of Aiden and Margaret Falconer, and the headline above them:
$25,000 REWARD OFFERED FOR CAPTURE OF FALCONER SIBLINGS
On the opposite side of the continent, a boy and a girl crouched in an alley in West Los Angeles , California . Although they were almost completely hidden behind an overloaded garbage dumpster, the pair wore their L.A. Lakers caps tight and low, obscuring their faces.
There was a word for fugitives who took chances: Prisoners .
Aiden Falconer peered at the Staples superstore across the street. Somewhere in that building sat a sheaf of faxes from Mitchell Bass's law firm. Vital information about HORUS Global Group. The file was to be picked up by one Gary Graham.
Gary Graham – Aiden's alias.
He shuddered. The idea that an ordinary high school student should need an alias was pretty weird. Then again, nobody with the name Falconer could ever be considered ordinary.
Who would have believed that Mom and Dad would be in jail for treason? he thought glumly. Or that Meg and I would be wanted by the FBI? Who would have believed that I'd be charged with arson, grand theft, breaking and entering, resisting arrest, and impersonating a police officer?
Perhaps most bizarre of all was the fact that – except for the arson – those charges were true. Breaking the law was business as usual when you were on the run.
“Let's go,” Meg urged. “It stinks here.”
They waited for a break in the traffic and crossed to the Staples entrance. The store felt like a strange alternate universe. Every passing glance was a penetrating stare. He held his breath and waited for the look of sudden recognition – the one that would be followed by shouts of: It's those Falconer kids! Call the cops!
His sister displayed none of his trepidation. Classic Meg, cool under fire. Either that or she was too young and naïve to realize that only the flimsiest onionskin layer of vigilance and pure luck separated them from disaster. They were almost famous now – notorious might be a better word. Every minute spent in public was a risk.
With a mixture of admiration and resentment, Aiden watched her step brazenly up to the service desk. “I'm here to pick up a fax for Gary Graham.”
To his amazement, the man behind the counter just gave it to her. Aiden was still fumbling for his fake ID when Meg thrust the file into his arms.
It was so unexpected that the precious documents slipped out of his hand and scattered to the floor. Urgently, the Falconers stooped to gather them up again.
That was when Aiden spotted the newspaper. Why would somebody come into Staples to read the LA Times?
All at once, a pair of eyes appeared above the headline. Alert, searching eyes.
It's a setup!
The terror came in the form of a jolt of raw electricity. It shocked Aiden back to his feet, pulling his sister up with him by a fistful of crumpled faxes.
Their fugitive radar was so sensitive, their flight instinct so instant, that the Falconers were halfway to the exit before Aiden noticed two more sets of cop's eyes, attached to big bodies blocking the door.
All around the store, plainclothes officers were coming out of cover, advancing on the Falconers – one from the stationery department, one from photo-processing, one from computer accessories –
“What are we going to do?” hissed Meg in desperation.
Aiden had no answer. Staples had only one exit. If that was barred, there was no way out. Unless –
He made for Office Furniture, cramming the papers into his pockets as he ran. He selected a heavy steel computer desk that was on casters and swung it into the wide aisle.
Meg was bewildered. “What –?”
There was no time for explanations. “The window,” he ordered. “Fast!”
The fugitives got behind the desk and began wheeling it across the store, picking up speed as they headed for the plate glass storefront. Customers dove out of the way like ten-pins as Aiden and Meg accelerated to a full sprint. The rollers sang against the terrazzo floor.
“Hey – stop!” One of the cops hurled himself into their path. He literally bounced off the flying desk, and landed with a crash in a bin of inkjet cartridges.
The other officers could only watch in frozen disbelief as the siblings blasted the desk into the floor-to-ceiling window.
The glass shattered into a billion pieces and rained down all around them as they barreled into the street. The desk toppled and skidded across the sidewalk in a shower of sparks, slamming into a mailbox.
Aiden and Meg barely noticed the destruction. They were already half a block away in full flight. Six undercover LAPD officers burst out of the chaos of the store in hot pursuit.
Copyright © 2005 Gordon Korman, used by permission