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Gretchen Greene, ecoterrorist turned energy researcher,
is militant about saving the planet. When her research
team discovers an advance in solar technology that will
make fossil fuels obsolete, she takes the invention and
the data necessary to recreate it and runs.
Unfortunately for Gretchen, she’s not the only one
aware of the discovery. A team of assassins destroys
the lab and eliminates the researchers one by one until
only Gretchen remains. Another student races Gretchen
away from the scene, but the assassins catch up and
trap Gretchen and her friend against a highway
guardrail. Randy Black arrives. He believes he’s been
sent to save Gretchen, but he must learn what she’s
done and why she’s surrounded by armed men all intent
on having her in one way or another.
Gretchen Greene is the 3rd Randy Black novel and
the first of a series of books where Randy is
challenged by a troubled character he meets. Gretchen
is a difficult woman and it isn't clear whether she
needs saving from the world or the world needs saving
Gretchen Greene stretched her arm out into the cool
morning air, silenced the rattle of the antique alarm
clock, then pulled it under the wool blankets and wound
it precisely four turns. Wound tighter, it would run
too fast. Looser, it might run down before she wound it
again at bedtime. Modern clocks offered precision, but
they burned electricity all day to provide one minute
of early-morning service. Gretchen would never abide
She shivered, unhooked the wool blankets that covered
the windows, and folded them as the sun began warming
"Cold enough?" her roommate, Sonia, called from beneath
her synthetic blankets. Sonia didn’t complain about the
sudden burst of sunlight at 6:00 A.M. because it was
their primary heat source on clear October days.
Gretchen’s offer to pay the heating bills in exchange
for control of the thermostat must have sounded
generous, but had Sonia known she never intended to
turn the heat on, Sonia might have petitioned her
parents for more money—or found another roommate.
Gretchen knew Sonia resented her maniacal focus on
conservation, but living alone was more wasteful than
heating the apartment for the two of them. She hoped
that after they lived a year together Sonia would
reduce her carbon footprint out of habit. She’d already
realized that the room warmed surprisingly well when
the sun was welcomed in. Together with the heat from
the surrounding apartments the sun kept them
comfortable except for the first few hours of the day.
Sonia had made good progress in their first month
Gretchen smoothed the cotton comforter enough to
display the sturdy beech spreading its branches to the
edges of the bed and the fawns and rabbits curled up
underneath, but not enough to chase away every wrinkle.
She hurried to the bathroom where she stripped off her
sweats, turned on the shower, and stepped in. The water
in the pipes had cooled overnight. Another resident
would have waited while the cold water ran down the
drain, but Gretchen stepped right in. Dripping wet, she
stood out of the spray and shivered as she scrubbed the
bar of homemade soap over every inch of skin. When she
stepped under to rinse, she ignored the goose bumps and
lathered her long brown hair with the homemade bar.
When her hair was rinsed, she closed the valve and
stopped the flow of water within two minutes of
stepping in. Briskly toweling her hair got her blood
flowing. She felt much warmer as she left the bathroom
Dressed and in the kitchen, she gobbled a muffin with a
glass of water. Other college roommates fought over
food. Gretchen simply told Sonia the muffins were made
from white oak acorns foraged on trips home. Sonia
didn’t believe her at first, but once she saw the
barrel of acorns on the balcony and watched Gretchen
grind them into flour, she was convinced. The muffins
remained until Gretchen ate them.
Finished with breakfast, she took Sonia’s leftover
coffee grounds out to the balcony where the bee box lay
still in the chilly morning air. She spread the grounds
over the top of her worm farm, then sprinkled some
water over them and covered them with damp newsprint.
On her way back inside, she pinched off a sprig of
peppermint and ground it between her teeth. The channel
number glowed on the cable box. She detoured over,
flicked off the surge protector, and headed to school.
Living on the fourth floor protected her balcony garden
from nosey passersby, and the stairs added a bit of
exercise to her commute. Most residents waited for the
clunky elevator, leaving Gretchen a clear path up and
down. Pacific Street was yet to be clogged with the
usual knots of exhaust-spewing traffic, but the air
still tasted gritty and metallic, unlike home where the
air carried the scents of life bursting forth from
Mother Earth. Unburned diesel and a host of other
pollutants whooshed in and out with each breath,
coating her lungs with carcinogens and shortening her
life expectancy. Cities were full of greedy Energy
Fiends who bumbled around without an inkling of the
damage they caused in the name of comfort, convenience,
and entertainment. She avoided these Meccas of
pollution whenever possible. She’d only come here for a
chance to help Dr. Whitney change the world. They were
on the verge of a breakthrough and Gretchen was rushing
to the lab to be first to see the latest results.
Halfway down the block she spotted a box truck idling
in front of a convenience store. The driver made two
trips inside, pushing a cart piled high with bread and
other baked goods while his truck spewed filth into the
air. She stopped to watch for three full minutes,
though the urge to beat Whitney to the lab was strong.
She’d never seen him so excited by a test. Even more
worrisome was his conversation with Lyle Ashton, an
executive from Proctor Energy. They funded the
research, but they didn’t deserve to profit from the
sun’s power after polluting Earth’s atmosphere for
decades. She needed to beat Whitney to the lab, but it
was early. Another minute wouldn’t hurt.
She reached inside her backpack for a round bumper
sticker. The black EF printed in the center blended
into the hot red background, but her activist friends
spotted these stickers by their location and color more
than their lettering. She pressed the sticker low
behind the passenger’s door and walked on. With luck
one of her friends would spot this truck when it was
parked for the weekend and toss a dead fish into the
cab. EFs like this guy deserved a few slashed tires or
some nasty graffiti, but retribution only exacerbated
the problems Energy Fiends created. Better to give him
an appreciation for foul air.
Gretchen had matching stickers with hot green
backgrounds for the Earth Friendly people she
encountered. Unfortunately, she’d only given away two
of those and they went to students she’d sought out
knowing who they were and what they were about.
Ten minutes later, Gretchen arrived first to the lab.
She sat at a console, awed by the astounding efficiency
of their latest work. This discovery would make fossil
fuels obsolete for anyone who could afford the
changeover. Solar panels would give way to an
unobtrusive collection technology installed on any
surface that received sunlight. Developed countries
would celebrate energy independence. Cars and houses
would be the first applications, but this technology
could even be applied to clothing. Gretchen imagined a
jacket powering an MP3 player, phone, watch, anything
that needed to be plugged in. She didn’t own any of
these things, but if she generated the power herself,
How had Whitney done it?
He was a booze hound who did barely enough to protect
his grant money, but in three days he’d cleaned himself
up and produced a historic discovery as if he were
following a recipe. There was intense pressure from
Proctor Energy, but bullying didn’t produce this
breakthrough. There was something else at work, but
Gretchen couldn’t understand what. The discovery she’d
dreamed of since reading Silent Spring was now before
her eyes. In the jumble of feelings about Dr. Whitney,
Proctor Energy, and their discovery churning inside
her, the worst was knowing how little she’d
contributed. Dr. Whitney allowed her ideas. He’d
welcomed them more than she’d ever expected, but the
expertise and the insight that spawned the final
product were his alone. Her ideas had been heard, but
they hadn’t been helpful.
Her fingers tapped out commands, quickly capturing the
designs, the formulas, and the results on a tiny thumb
drive. Gretchen sealed the drive in an impervious,
egg-shaped carrying case of her own creation.
What she did next frightened her.
This discovery would destabilize the world economy.
Middle Eastern countries that depended on oil revenues
were about to be plunged into squalor. They squandered
their oil wealth for decades, thinking that as long as
oil rose up from the ground they’d have a line of
energy junkies desperate to buy. When they saw this
technology, they’d recognize their mistake and
understand they were about to be shuttled to the bottom
of the economic food chain. Without the constant influx
of easy cash, chaos would ensue. War and famine were
inevitable. Only the order of these catastrophes was in
question. These plunderers of Mother Earth deserved no
As she erased the professor’s work, Gretchen mourned
Global warming was unstoppable. The people of Western
Europe deserved this discovery’s power. The spring of
energy would give them a chance to stay warm when the
Gulf Stream petered out. Technology exports would
become an economic engine to spur them on in the face
of the frozen world that was about to engulf them.
Gretchen replaced the test results with a failed set
from a week earlier.
Third world populations couldn’t afford conversion. She
held the formula for abundant, clean energy that would
revolutionize the industrialized world, and yet
millions of people would be shut out. They deserved her
help. These were places where solar energy radiated
most strongly, where the discovery could be best
utilized, and where economic stimulus was most
desperately needed. Surely they deserved the seed of
prosperity she held in her hand.
Gretchen erased the backup tapes from the previous
She stood, pressed the formula for boundless energy
deep into her vest pocket, and wondered about the
changes to come. People’s energy appetites were
insatiable. They’d forgotten how to do and make things
for themselves. They craved plastic-packaged,
hormone-injected, preservative-ridden food that
poisoned their bodies. They couldn’t survive without
hundreds of electronic devices that guzzled power.
Somehow they didn’t notice their homes glowing even on
the darkest nights. This discovery would spur new needs
until the Earth was covered in Whitney’s Nanopanels.
Gretchen rushed out of the lab with a source of
unspeakable power, unsure where she was headed or who
deserved it most.
"The thrilling third book
in the Randy Black series, a real page turner... Once
again C.J. West knows how to grab a reader's attention
and keep you hanging until the last page. Well written
suspense thriller, this is a great follow up to A Demon
Awaits & Sin and Vengeance (the first in the Randy
Sheri A. Wilkinson
"Not only is CJ a great person but, his writing is
"C.J. West's imaginative mind will take you through
interesting and complex characters, detailed plot
scenarios, twists and turns. He deftly develops his
characters and enables the reader to attain the crucial
insight into their actions and thought processes that
makes a book excellent."
"A genius with pacing..."
"C.J. West... is absolutely on my list of favourite
Cornelis Van Es
Buy The Book
Gretchen Greene is available as a trade paperback or
an e-book compatible with any e-reader. Personalized trade paperbacks
are now available for purchase via the BUY button at the bottom of this page.
ISBN 10: 0-9767788-3-1
ISBN 13: 978-0-9767788-3-7
Published: 22 West Books, March 2010
Order your personalized trade paperback
signed and shipped by CJ.
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Marking Time Series
The End of Marking Time
The Cat Bagger's
Randy Black Series
The Winemaker's Son