Date Published: 11/17/2020
Publisher: Lands Atlantic Publishing
Nineteen-year-old Juliet can’t shake the nightmares after surviving a brutal bank robbery. In order to put those terrifying memories behind, she’ll have to testify against the criminal known as the Half Face. She convinces herself that she is perfectly safe, until he manages to break free and grab the nearest hostage he sets his sights on. Her.
In an effort to escape the captivity of the law, and his tortured past, the Half Face takes Juliet on an obsessive search for answers and redemption. During the harsh journey, his unpredictability fuels Juliet’s worst fear, that he just may be insane and beyond any hope of saving.
I glance at my watch. Fifteen minutes to go. It seems both too fast and too slow.
I go over the rehearsed words in my head. What if I forget everything I need to say? What if I black out, or cry? I don’t want to cry where he can see me. No, that cannot happen.
In an attempt to distract myself, I slide my phone out of my pocket and mindlessly scroll through the menu. I freeze when I come across the news feed.
Liveblog: trial of top-criminal known as “the Half Face” continuing today.
Someone in that courtroom is twittering the events, and I’m locked up in this miserable room until they can bring me out like the next circus act.
‘I must ask you to put your phone away for now,’ the woman says. When I look up, I find her looking at me with a pitying gaze. ‘We don’t want you to read anything that can influence your statement.’
Of course. ‘I’m just nervous,’ I say, and put my phone back in my pocket.
‘You will be absolutely fine. If you find you don’t want to look at him, you don’t have to. Remember that you’re doing this to help us put him away for good. That is why you chose to testify, isn’t it?’
She nods, and we fall into silence again, until there’s a brief knock on our door. The woman smiles, rises from her chair and beckons me.
Suddenly, my heart is racing even harder than before. ‘Can…can I go to the bathroom real quick?’
‘Sure. Just this way.’ She leads me over to another door and remains outside as I enter.
The tiles are shiny and clean. I hear the buzzing of air conditioning.
After I flush, I take a quick moment to splash a handful of cold water in my face. It helps a little. I lean my hands on the sink and stare at my reflection in the round mirror. I’m very pale. My eyes are wide open, like a frightened animal. Strands of dark brown hair are falling from the bun that had been so tightly secured this morning. They cling to my sweaty face. I brush them away.
The woman knocks on the door. ‘Juliet? It’s time.’
I’m on the verge of calling out: No! Leave me alone, I’m not going! There’s a thick feeling in my throat that I try to get rid of by swallowing. When it doesn’t work, I settle for a deep breath before wiping my palms on my skirt and exiting the bathroom.
‘There’s no need to be nervous,’ the woman says again. But what does she know? She didn’t have to drop to the ground, pretending to be a dead body, while a monster was standing mere feet away from her barking orders.
We make our way across the building, all the way to the end of the long corridor, and make a right turn. The entire building is so clean. We pass a large, square painting on the wall; we pass a mirror where I briefly catch my pale reflection, we pass a man with a cell phone pressed to his ear, giving us a curious glance.
Then the woman stops in front of a dark, polished door. The small plate next to the door reads Courtroom 14.
The woman gives me an encouraging smile. I pull up the corners of my mouth, just enough to make it look like I’m smiling back.
‘Remember, you just have to answer a few questions. I’ll be here to escort you back.’
She looks like she wants to say something else, but before she does, the door opens. I automatically step back, creating some space for Harry Dartes. He sees me, undoubtedly registers the worry in my eyes, and gives my shoulder a brief squeeze. ‘It’s worse just before you go in, girl.’
I nod. He smiles one last time before another court attendant urges him on, and mine gestures to me, indicating that I will have to enter Courtroom 14 at last.
About the Author
Mara Li has been writing from an early age. She is inspired by fairytales, myths and legends from all over the world. In 2016 her debut novel De Stem van de Zee was nominated for the Harland Awards Roman Prize for best Dutch fantasy. Winter is her writing season (summer never gets much of it). Tea and ginger nuts are her writing food, her cat’s attention can sometimes be an obstacle. Her novel, Half Face, launches her as an international author with books published in multiple countries and languages.
Date Published: October 21, 2020
Publisher: RedBird Books
He’s tired of running. She’s looking for an escape. Can they find a home
Joshua Canfield spent the last year hiding from killers. He’s done things he can never confess, especially not to the loved ones he was protecting. All he wants now is to reunite with his family and live a peaceful life.
Lila Grainger has one goal in life. To earn enough money to leave Providence Island and a family with no regard for the law far behind. She never expected to meet someone like Joshua. He’s the finest man she’s ever known, and he sees her as a woman, not as a Grainger. But she can’t expect him to leave his family to follow her.
Neither of them knows that a new threat lingers on Providence Island. One that puts Lila in danger and could expose Joshua’s past.
A second buzz emitted, this time with a text from Ben.
Parked out back. Lets go.
Josh flipped out the lights, grabbed the bag of trash, and headed out the door. He tossed the bag into dumpster then entered the car.
“How did the questioning go?”
“Hunter seemed disappointed that our stories matched. He asked why I wasn’t driving the same car as I had that day. Told him both were rentals. When I travel, I turn in one and rent another when I return.” Ben chuckled. “He also tried to trip me by asking where we ordered the pizza.”
Josh frowned. “I told him it was leftover.”
“He was fact checking.”
Except their alibis consisted more of half-truths than solid facts.
“Good thing you remembered those security cameras along Federal.”
Ben shrugged. “We needed a cover story anyway. Did you get the impression they were considering if you and Stoddard were collaborating?”
“No, but Tom suggested I had reason to want to kill him.”
“Speaking of killing, did you dispose of that gun you had?”
“Yes, I broke it down the way you taught me. I took a trip upstate and dropped off pieces along the way.” Rest stop. Gas stations. Dumpsters. “What about the one you used?”
A side-eyed glance burned its way across the car. “Taken care of. Should be interesting to find out what Wallace does with Hunter’s suspicions.”
“You’re getting a kick out of this, aren’t you?” Josh twisted in his seat, sending a glare of his own. “This isn’t a game. We could end up in prison.”
“Take it easy, Sundance. We’ve covered our tracks. Nothing links me to Stoddard. Hunter’s trying to make something out of a ten-second video of two buddies getting together.”
Josh glanced out the window. “Where are we going?”
“To dinner. Eddie’s work for you?”
Josh snorted. “Ben Hampshire is going to eat at Eddie’s Sea-Shack?”
“Don’t be a snob, Canfield.” A smile tugged at the corner of Ben’s mouth. “We’ll go over the reports I have on those systems. When Hunter spills his guts to Wallace who in turn asks Paige, she’ll confirm our story.”
Josh sank down in his seat with a grunt. “One of these days, you won’t be the smartest guy in the room.”
A laugh tumbled out of Ben’s mouth as he flipped on the blinker to turn south at the Crossroads. “Like that’s going to happen.”
A wisp of something cold washed through Josh’s soul, and the memory of odors from a greasy kitchen pushed into his throat.
“It did happen.” He turned his head to catch Hampshire’s scowl. “That night at the diner when Stoddard set you up.”
Ben’s eyes widened then he gave a slow nod. “I had my suspicions from the beginning about that meeting. I didn’t expect to him to send three people. Didn’t expect you to show up either.” He gave a short laugh. “Did I ever thank you for saving my ass?”
Josh snorted. “You said—and I quote—‘thanks for back there.’”
“Glad I didn’t forget. As far as that parody Hunter put on today, forget it. He’s on an ego trip and taking advantage of Wallace being out of town. We have nothing to worry about.”
Except Tom Hunter’s determination to solve Nathan Stoddard’s murder put both Ben and Joshua in the spotlight. As brilliant as Ben was, Tom’s ambition could prove to be way more dangerous.
Dianna Wilkes is an award winning mystery romance author, known for the
Providence Island mystery series.
Reading has always been an important part of her life. “I learned to
read when I was four years old. Writing my own stories seemed a natural
Dianna holds a B.A.in Visual Communication and a M.Ed.in Instructional
Technology. She worked as an Education Consultant for a medical technology
company before leaving the corporate world. Despite all that nerdy stuff,
she loves creating stories of romance and mystery with touches of
When she isn’t writing, Dianna is deep in researching various branches and
twigs on her family tree or fulfilling entries on her travel bucket
Holiday Romance, Contemporary Romance
Date Published: November 2020
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Christmas is in the air at Mia Loughry’s Yellow Butterfly Café, the heartbeat of Azalea Valley serving up Mia’s legendary matchmaking and renowned home-cooking. For years, local track coach Buck Chance has flirted but failed to leave the starting gate in pursuit of Mia. Could love have passed her by?
Temperatures rise when a mouth-watering stranger, Chance Stengle, enters the café and steals her attention from Buck. A singer/songwriter and owner of a construction company, Chance believes Mia is exactly what he’s been looking for. Faced with fresh competition, Buck is not ready to yield the field to the new guy and lose Mia for good.
With two handsome men vying for her attention, Mia is determined to give each a chance to win her heart for life. Her destiny becomes uncertain when a confrontation reaches a boiling point after a fateful trip. Will Buck make it to the finish line or will Chance reconstruct her future?
Torn between two loves, indecision could cost her both Christmas Chances.
Mia struggled to keep from staring at the man who took her breath away. “Good morning. Welcome to the Yellow Butterfly. Table for one?”
“Unless you want to keep me company,” he said with cocky confidence of someone who always succeeded and attracted any woman he wanted.
Keeping him company? A lot more than that came to mind. “In your dreams. I have a café to run.” She grabbed a menu and led him to a table. “I haven’t seen you around. Visiting, or new in town?”
“My grandmother, Jeanine Stengle, passed, and I’m here to attend to her estate.”
“I’m so sorry. I loved Mrs. Jeanine.”
Surprise flashed across his face. “So you knew her?”
“Hon, I know everybody in Azalea Valley, and she was one of the best. When she was well, she came in here often. Mama and I visited her after she got sick, and we went to her funeral.”
“Thanks. I’m Chance Stengle.” He held out his hand.
His heart-stopping smile almost caused her to forget her name. “Mia Loughry.” She slipped her hand into his large, calloused one. When he didn’t let go, warmth rushed to her face as though she’d opened the oven door. Unsteady, she grabbed the edge of the table to keep her balance. Seldom at a loss for words, she waited for him to speak.
He stared as if memorizing her face. It had been way too long since any man looked at her like that.
“A pretty name for a pretty lady.” He settled into his chair.
Considering herself average, she questioned his motive for the blatant flirting. People didn’t describe her as pretty except for her mama and the boy in high school who wanted to get into her pants. But Chance . . . his powerful jaw and well-defined facial features made it hard for her to look away—or speak. “I’m not . . . Y-you don’t have to tell me stuff that’s not true.” She’d blathered like an idiot, but it wasn’t every day someone strolled in as good looking as him. She glanced at his empty ring finger. “Coffee?”
“Strong and hot.” He didn’t mean his coffee. “For the record, I tell it like I see it.”
“That makes two of us.” And Jeanine’s grandson or not, if she told him precisely what she was thinking, he might run for the closest exit.
“I’ll be right back to take your order.”
To settle her nerves and regain control of her senses, she spun around and hurried to the kitchen. On impulse, she glanced over her shoulder. Oh my, Buck stared at her like he saw her for the first time. Competition wouldn’t hurt. Hmm, Buck Chance and Chance Stengle. Not one, but two chances. She chuckled at her own joke.
After she took a deep breath, she returned to the newcomer’s table who tracked her movements all the way with his smoldering eyes. Her mind blanked for a second.
She delivered the steaming cup and handed him a menu. “So, how long will you be in town?”
“Depends. I’m hoping to finish by Christmas.” He blew on his coffee with enticing kissable lips.
“Must be nice to take that much time off work.” She pressed for more information.
“I own a small construction company in Nashville. Finished a major project. Not as much going on this time of year. My men can handle it. I like to work with my hands, and this will be a perfect break for me to get out of the city.”
Hmm, another business owner. They had something in common. “I understand what you mean. Although I run the place, I love to interact with customers.” Especially when they’re as sexy as you. “I know almost everything about this town. If you need anything, you know where to find me.”
“Don’t you worry, I’ll be around.”
Those words and his attentive gaze shot a tingle up her spine. “Well, well, well” she whispered after she grabbed the coffeepot and sauntered away.
About the Author
Influenced by travel, Hope Malory writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense in whatever destination she finds herself. Her descriptive settings transport readers to the places she has experienced first hand.
After a career in education, Hope traded in a commute, traffic, and early mornings for inventing delightful, adventurous, strong-willed characters and putting them in unpredictable situations.
She and her husband live near Nashville, Tennessee. Now, whether relaxing on the beach, traveling with her husband, or spending time at home, she is busy writing her next novel.
Published: October 2020
Publisher: MindStir Media
Carrying on the tradition of service as exemplified by his Nisei grandfather, a veteran with the 100th/442nd RCT in WWII, Jim Sato, a dedicated cop, serves as the nerve ending of a Top Secret psychotronic brain wave enhancer, a giant AI super computer, deep the bowels of DIA Headquarters in an attempt to stop and eliminate Abdul Ahmad, the arch terrorist, who sets out to destroy America. Sato is teamed up with Gilda Dobrowski, a small city psychic, and together they track down the whereabouts of the terrorist and lay a trap for him in Tokyo in a dangerous scheme to eliminate him once and for all, using the U.S. Embassy, the nerve center of U.S. power in the Far East, as bait. The plan goes awry, Ahmad escapes and the stage is set for a final showdown taking place on American soil, in an elaborate setup involving erecting a psychic shield covering the entire country. Lured into the United States by a sophisticated stratagem devised by Sato, Ahmad is detected and the chase is on.
The Starmind Alert
Introduced first to the Director of DIA, Arthur Donnelly, then summarily dismissed by him with a curt, “Welcome aboard,” Jim and Gilda entered an elevator as the stainless steel doors parted like a mechanical maw with Kosovich in the lead. He ran his finger down a row of buttons and punched “Sub-B 5.” They began the long, slow descent without stopping. “Sub-B 5″ was known as “The StarCenter,” Kosovich informed them. Why? Because it was the lowest level of the entire building housing the headquarters of DIA. In case of nuclear decimation, Kosovich said. Jim couldn’t begin to fathom what that meant. The Cold War was over.
When the elevator jerked to a stop, they stepped out into a shining, polished corridor that reminded Jim of a hospital without the smell of antiseptics. They passed several doors on either side of them with single-digit numbers designating them. At the end of the hallway stood two guards at an entrance, a steel door. They were not Marines. They were special guards wearing blood-red berets and clad in navy-blue uniforms with a gold braid crossing their chests. Over their hearts were sewn an insignia of a mythological creature–an eagle look-alike with ribbed black wings and writhing snakes gripped in its talons. They were armed with automatic rifles that reminded Jim of Heckler & Koch .308’s with 50-round clips. They glanced impassively at Allen Kosovich’s ID and clearance. Jim peeked. Underneath the photo was in bold letters: “UB-X-00-A27.” Kosovich punched in the numbered and lettered code that opened the steel door.
Inside a small antechamber, Kosovich had to submit himself to a further check. He spoke into a meshed microphone, giving his name, ID number and date of birth. “Voice recognition confirmed. Proceed to Step Two,” a voice said out of nowhere. Kosovich placed his face against what looked like penny-arcade peepers. “Retina scan confirmed. Proceed to Step Three.” Kosovich drew his fingertips across his tongue and placed his right hand in a clear, plastic tray with mathematical inscriptions where the palm and fingers fit. A dark purplish ultraviolet light produced a pulsating sound. A few seconds passed. “Fingerprints and DNA confirmed. Cleared to enter.”
The heavy vault-like doors opened inwards, and the three of them quickly stepped through. Jim spun around in surprise, because the thick doors closed as nimbly as the swinging doors of a chef’s lair.
They were standing at the entrance of a large room filled with computer programmers and analysts, dressed in white uniforms, bent over their keyboards. Blue tinged everything. Huge monitors were set into the walls alive with coruscating images of formless shapes and colors that kept shifting in an amorphous mass, each different and distinct and yet the same in their intermingling mixture of hues and tints that resembled a living, phantasmagorical organism. The bluish glow filling the room from the high ceiling was alive with the clicking of the keyboards. At the end of the room sat an enormous machine, its lower panel running a digitalized and variegated painted symphony of flashing numbers, letters and icons. Its upper portion with two rows of tapeless silver disks behind a long window kept the super computer in constant motion. It occupied a greater part of the wall. It produced a hum and a steady whirring and clicking sound as the multi-layered disks whirled in opposing directions, some turning clockwise, others counterclockwise.
Kosovich pointed it out. “The heart of Project StarMind. UB-X-00,” he said proudly. “Doesn’t use old-fashioned tapes that can fade and become demagnetized. Uses a series of countervailing disks in each sprocket to create an electromagnetic field that can be replicated and hooked up to the other apparatus. But I’ll let Wayne Trunnell, Supervisor of Project StarMind, explain it all to you.”
Wayne Trunnell was a tall, slender man in his early seventies. Standing at least 6’4″, he wore a white, loose-fitting smock that hung down to his ankles. His hair, thick and unruly, was white. His eyes were dark blue and twinkled intelligently like glistening opals that were accentuated by his still-black eyebrows. His nose reminded Jim of the beak of the mythological bird on the emblem. Smiling in a casual, friendly fashion, he stuck out his hand.
“You must be Detective Jim Sato, whom I’ve been waiting to meet,” he said in a surprisingly young voice. He shook Jim’s hand and turned immediately to Gilda. “And you are Gilda Dobrowski, the famous psychic from Franklin. I’ve been wanting to meet you ever since I heard about you.” He tilted his head slightly as he took Gilda’s hand.
Jim couldn’t quite place the mannerism. It was almost continental–and foreign. Trunnell regarded them both fondly as if they were visiting brethren and knew each other. From another planet? Jim thought. It was as if they were aliens from outer space just dropping in for a visit to a familiar inner sanctum. The huge room with its inset panels of screens holding the twisting images, the hum and whirr of UB-X-00–whatever it was besides a giant brain box–and the clicking of the array of computer keyboards, along with the faint, soft bluish glow reflected off the walls and polished floors, lent an eerie quality to the intense activity in the room. Particularly so, when Jim understood that it all had to do with the control, manipulation and projection of the human mind. And to think that he and Gilda were to be subjected to discovering the mysteries unlocked in their own minds.
Trunnell took them over to the giant machine called UB-X-00 which was all business with its constant humming whirr and flickering lights. He patted it affectionately–paternalistically. It must have been his own design, thought Jim. He had fathered it.
“This is UB-X-00,” the supervisor of Project StarMind said proudly. “I named it that, because it has to do with the total dimension of all the imponderables of the human personality: soul, spirit, mind and everything else we know about ourselves. Consider it the Library of Congress of what knowledge we have of ourselves as a species. Otherwise, we refer to it by its nickname, ‘Yuubee’. And this huge stable of computer wizards and the room it is housed in is called ‘The Nexus’.”
“What’s it supposed to do?” Jim asked in intimidated awe.
“Everything that has to do with developing the potential of the human mind, much of it going beyond the realm of science as we understand it.”
“Specifically,” Jim pursued.
“Specifically?” Wayne Trunnell pondered the question. “Much of it is in an experimental stage. We are exploring it as it explores itself. But specifically, to boil your question down to a single answer that applies to you and Gilda, it is a psychotronic enhancer of the alpha and theta brain waves that are converted to a kind of bioenergy for the efficient functioning of the brain of a psychic, a person who already has the capabilities of projecting their consciousness.”
“Can you explain how that is going to affect us?” Jim thought it was a legitimate, logical question to ask. He wasn’t prepared for the condescending look of amazement that registered in Trunnell’s sngular features, marked by the drawing of his mouth into a thin line and the raising of his dark eyebrows. “Are the effects going to be permanent?” he continued, concerned.
“Well, not really…not in so many words,” he said, his dark blue eyes fixed on Jim. “It is nearly impossible to define what goes on in the brain, even at any given isolated moment, and–”
“Maybe you can start by telling me how Yuubee works?” Jim said.
Trunnell’s expression turned into one of patient indulgence. “I can try,” he said and ran his hand with long, bony fingers over his hoary hair slowly, as though to collect his thoughts. “It is based on the principle of symbiotic synergism, not only between Yuubee and the other scanning equipment, like the MRI and CAT Scan and others, but also between itself and the reciprocal emanation of the brain waves of the Snoopers…er, psychics. We call them, or they like to refer to themselves as, Snoopers. Otherwise, they’re variously known as seekers, seers, probers, sometimes even worse, depending on who is talking about them.”
“That’s not saying very much, Mr. Trunnell. How is it going to affect me and Gilda?” Jim felt he had to get some kind of handle on what to expect before he could even take or understand the first step in the training.
“I can only summarize what has been programmed into Yuubee,” the tall man said, drawing his brows together in concentration. “It has been fed a series of random mathematical equations from all the fields of science coupled with the principles of philology, morphology and semantics present in the unpredictable sequences of human thought patterns, including the representation of the REMs of dreams and nightmares, and combined with the phenomenological dichotomies present in all forms of human perceptions.”
“And that’s saying a mouthful,” Kosovich commented. With his eyes wide and blank, he gazed at Jim’s face which must have registered total non-comprehension. “I don’t understand what it means, either.”
“Can’t you boil it down, Dr. Trunnell,” Jim pleaded. “It is Dr. Trunnell, isn’t it?”
“Yes, indeed, it is, and I can’t even begin to describe to you my many fields of specialization,” Dr. Trunnell said, rather pompously thought Jim. “But, nevertheless, let me add that woven into the fabric of the ‘understanding’ programmed into UB-X-00…sounds so awfully formal. Yuubee. Programmed into Yuubee is everything that is known about paranormal psychology from ESP, psychokinesis, telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, remote viewing, astral flight, near-death out-of-the-body detachment, the ‘White Light’ syndrome to psychotic and hallucinatory typologies, induced by drugs, electrical charges or electromagnetic emissions.”
Jim glanced at Gilda. She rolled her eyes toward the ceiling. Either she understood what Trunnell was talking about like an ace pitcher or it was over her head, too. Jim wanted to shake his head to rid himself of the confusion.
“What you’re saying, Dr. Trunnell,” Jim said, extrapolating from his previous experience in dealing with the superpsychic, Sergei Verenich, “is that UB-X-00, Yuubee, helps us to transmit and receive brain waves.”
“Essentially, yes,” Trunnell said. “Alpha and theta brain waves, specifically.”
“Then why is it that,” Jim began as the next logical step, “you are located at lowest level of the basement, deep under the headquarters of DIA? How can the brain waves get through all the interference?”
“Ah, that’s the beauty of Yuubee,” Trunnell intoned. “It can cut through anything and open a path for reception and transmission. As for being stuck in The StarCenter, it is for national security reasons.”
“Which are?” Now Jim wanted to know everything. Was UB-X-00 some sort of death-ray machine that focused laser beams through the psychics to knock down incoming missiles or knock off unwanted undesirables? Dictators, tyrants, key government figures? Terrorists? His imagination ran wild.
“I only need to mention one,” Trunnell said importantly. “In case the government and leadership are destroyed in a nuclear war, or by some other means, the psychics of Project StarMind are meant to restart our democracy and restore civilization as we have known it. Such a responsibility for a select few.” The tall, thin scientist ran his hand across his forehead as if to wipe away a heavy concern. “Now let me introduce you to the Snoopers, as they are affectionately known, rather than seekers or seers which have contentious overtones.”
Trunnell led them through the blue-white light that reminded Jim of the ethereal void in which he had done combat mind-to-mind with Sergei Verenich. Stepping past the row of equipment hooked up in tandem with Yuubee, the tall man pushed the button of a double-panel steel door. It hissed open pneumatically and made the same shushing sound as they entered a smaller room and sealed itself behind them.
They were standing in the reflected glow of the same bluish-white light. The walls were painted the same color as the large room–The Nexus–a washed sky-blue that seemed to continue beyond where it ended as though one could stick one’s hand through the solid barrier. On the upper part of the walls were mounted the monitor screens which held a variety of three-dimensional images, more definite in outline and shape than the coruscating and squirming masses of globs in The Nexus that appeared embryonic by comparison. Around a long table in the center of the room gathered lab technicians garbed in white smocks similar to the one Trunnell wore. The table was crowded with lab equipment: beakers, petri dishes, twisted glass tubing, Bunsen burners, measuring tubes, trays, microscopes, ultra-violet lamps, vials and bottles of liquid, just like a well-equipped high school lab, Jim thought, except he was in no high school. Against one wall with the same kind of screens sat six figures–three men and three women–wearing black helmets with extended goggles and a curved mouthpiece they were speaking into. Sitting in front of computers of different designer colors, they moved a mouse on a larger-than-average pad. The movement of their hands and their incessant, chant-like murmuring flowed together as if one guided the other reciprocally.
“Welcome to ‘The Twilight Zone’,” Dr. Trunnell said with a hint of triumph in his voice. “This is the control center, and the six psychics wearing the Gehirnphone helmets are controlling the images fabricated by pure thought energy. They are the creme de la creme saviors of Western Civilization, the ones who will regenerate the leadership in the event our government is destroyed.”
Jim looked over the six figures, their heads all but concealed by the black helmets, talking to themselves or into the tiny mike built into the headgear. They were all dressed casually, one man in a red and black flannel shirt, a lady in a dark, blue satiny blouse, another man in a bright yellow long-sleeved shirt. The three-dimensional forms danced and changed with the movement of the mouses and the intonation of their voices. Some of the images looked like the interior of a building, a bird’s-eye screen-skating landscape full of mountains and valleys, a blurred visage that kept fading in and out of focus.
“Why are they talking to themselves?” Gilda asked. “It sounds like so much psycho-babble all running together.”
“Maybe it’s some sort of chant,” Jim said, wanting to sound half-way knowledgeable, although he was totally mystified. He had read voluminously about matters dealing with psychic phenomena and the training of the mind ever since his ordeal with Sergei Verenich, delving into mythology, religion, psychology, spiritualism, occultism.
“Actually, it’s voice-activated commands to control graphic image-making,” Trunnell said.
“Why can’t they just image what they are thinking or exercise thought-control?” Gilda queried.
“That is precisely what they are doing by ordering their brains to function in a certain, specific way with their own unique voices,” Trunnell explained. “Their brains, in other words, respond more actively and positively when they hear their own voices. It’s like a personal signature endorsing a command to certain brain centers. The brain recognizes its owner as belonging to itself and performs accordingly. I designed the Gehirnphone virtual reality helmets myself.”
“So, in other words,” Gilda mused, “instead of feeding them the sensation of virtual reality, they are actually producing virtual reality in three-dimensional graphics by their own brain power.”
“Just like you see on the screens,” Kosovich broke in.
“And so what powers their brains?” Gilda pursued. “Is the required bioenergy induced?”
“Through UB-X-Double Ought,” Kosovich said proprietarily.
“Let me explain it with a bit more detail, Gilda,” Trunnell said, ignoring Kosovich. He took her arm and led her to stand behind one of the Snoopers. He pointed to different portions of the helmet. “The Gehirnphone houses a microcomputer. It carries its own titanium power pack and is synchronized with the relay of the pschotronically-transferred bioenergy from Yuubee.”
“You make it sound as if there is a clear conduit between the source and the recipient,” Jim observed. “But I’m sure it’s much complex than that.”
“It most certainly is,” averred Trunnell. “The source is the brain of the seer. Its power is enhanced by Yuubee by the informed transfer of bioenergy. But the transfer does not take place as with an open pipeline. The programmers and analysts in The Nexus provide the embryonic stimulus of the initial image-formation through Yuubee, while factoring in all the resistance that the Snoopers will conceivably run into before they can successfully sort out the input through enhanced mind-power. When they grapple with the variables and focus the charged bioenergy in their own educated way, they can and do produce the three-dimensional pictures you see on the screens.”
“I think I got that,” Jim declared, though his comprehension was edged with doubt and many more questions. “Out of a chaotic mess, they wrestle to create the pictures in their minds with the aid of the Gehirnphones before they project in pure form what we see on the screen.”
“Exactly,” said Trunnell delighted.
“How does bioenergy translate into three-dimensional colored images and graphics?” asked Jim, with some inkling as to the answer.
“Through a combination of telepathy and psychokinesis,” concluded Gilda.
“Splendid!” Trunnell cried. “But don’t neglect to add the super-charged ionization of electrical particles. I know you two will make excellent students.” He patted them paternally on their backs.
“I have to borrow your two star recruits for a moment.” Kosovich grabbed hold of Jim’s arm eagerly. “Now I have a surprise for you and I’m not thanking you for it. It’s what you left me and the other agents with in Washington, D.C.”
The thin-faced man pulled Jim over to a large double-door compartment which turned out to be a freezer. Kosovich flung open the doors. Chilled vapors of frozen air spill out in a cloud.
“There he is. Sergei Verenich. Or what’s left of him. And you didn’t leave much,” Kosovich accused, displaying his anger with a finger jabbed at the remains.
Gilda stifled a scream and stepped back. Jim stiffened and expected the pieces to somehow come together as Sergei’s consciousness had in the ether and attack him. The blasted torso emptied of soft organ tissue with the rib cage spread apart was as he remembered it. The legs had been cut off and lay separately on another shelf, bluish-grey and hairy. Several one-gallon plastic ziplocks contained the soft tissue that the agents had to pick off of them and scoop up off the floor at Hotel George and what was left of the lungs, heart, liver and the rest of the organs that had exploded out of Sergei’s body. The severed arms were tied, and the hands were naturally clasped together as if the previous owner had been converted to religion before his demise. What were obviously his genitals were contained in another ziplock bag. But the head with the thick, brown hair, the short nose, the square jaw. It was gone, not a part of the collection.
Jim swallowed hard and held down a wave of nausea that he knew would be the color of greenish-yellow if he threw up. It had happened at one murder scene where the body had flowers stuck into carved holes.
“The head…,” Jim said weakly. Somehow he had to see Sergei’s head to feel convinced that he was indeed dead. “It’s gone. What did you do with it?”
“Didn’t need it. Had to cut it up to get at the brain,” Kosovich said and leered at Jim’s discomfort. “Besides you’ll always have access to the head, another surprise for you, Sato.” He took Jim’s arm and pulled him over to the far wall which had a single screen mounted above a lone figure wearing a Gehirnphone.
About the Author
R. H. Kohno has been writing for a number of years now, putting a capstone on a long-held dream of becoming a writer, and has produced a number of works of fiction, the most recent of which include Eye of the Star, The StarMind Alert and Starburst Over China (soon to be published), a trilogy of psychic thrillers, and Westward Lies The Sun, written under his real name. He majored in English at the University of Washington and was the editor-in-chief of the campus literary magazine, Assay. He taught briefly at the university level before embarking on a career in writing. He is currently working on a novel and putting together a collection of short stories.
What mysteries are hidden beyond the stars?
While most of the youngsters are concerned with faculty, friendships and even girlfriends, Nicholas spends his hours with his head out of orbit; literally. Making the course of Astronomy, he feels better among gaseous bodies, supernova stars and black holes, dreaming in one day to unravel the great enigmas of the Universe. Until a mysterious girl enters the classroom …
And Nicholas discovers, excited, that he finds his own star. Zara is her name, the one whose hair looks like rays of sun, the only one capable of wringing the air–and the voice–of the young protagonist of this story. And, against all possibilities, something arises between then. But do not think that this is a teenage romance like so many that you have read, because Zara, contrary to what Nicholas thinks, is not what it seems. Coming from an unknown galaxy, she has a mission:
To attract Nicholas and take him to her planet, alive. At any cost. The success of her mission depends not only on her future, but on everything she believes in… including the future of humanity. When the truth appears, Nicholas is wrapped in a web of lies and intrigue that goes beyond everything he dreamed of. Between telekinetic powers, time gaps, and scientific data, space folds, revealing that the aliens we know are closer–and more like us–than we imagine.
Dive with Chaiene Santos in this dizzying story, in which the author was able to unite, with perfection, incredible theories about the future of humanity. You will be surprised with this series, which is the most read in Wattpad in the science fiction category (Portuguese). Check and get ready to change your concepts.
The Children of Time Series, Book Two
The destruction of humanity lies not in the future, but in the past.
Several years have passed since Nicholas, Zara and Merko left behind the adventures in space, to have a common and quiet life on planet Earth.
All that’s left from the life among the stars are the memories and homesickness of the friends who are beyond time.
But the Dark Age reappears, and threatens not only the heroes of this story, but the future of the entire human race.
Mirov manages to escape and transforms planet Life, a place of peace, wisdom and justice, in a kingdom filled with fear. And to stop him once and for all, the princess Isadora, now an adult, can only count on Nicholas and his family.
The final war is approaching, and nothing else will be the same. Good and evil will confront each other in a plot that blends past, present and future in a way that no one will ever forget.
The Children of Time Series, Book Three
What can happen when the future tries to destroy the past?
On the villain’s hunt, Nicholas, Merko, Zara and all the allied team travel back in time when the great civilizations grew. What they don’t imagine is that a game of life and death awaits them, where the prize is the fate of the human race.
Meanwhile, in the present times, little Helen discovers more about her offspring and powers, without imagining that there is an old enemy, lurking, ready to capture her and destroy all that Nicholas loves.
Get ready for the end of the trilogy that took the adventure beyond the limits of space-time. Contemplate the greatest battle ever seen in the ancient world. Discover some of the greatest secrets of mankind. Travel from New York to the Bermuda Triangle, in a climax full of twists, where nothing is what it seems.
With traces of science fiction, fantasy and dystopia, Chaiene Santos comes to the end of the trilogy The Children of Time, in an adventure that you’ll want to read in one breath. Beware: the final battle has begun!
The Children of Time
Nicholas was asleep with his face buried in his pillow when the alarm clock of his cell phone set off, playing a loud hard-rock melody that put him alert in a sudden fright. The boy checked the time.
“Shit! Going late to bed messes with my life every day. I’m late again!”
He took a fast shower and brushed his teeth. He put on any clothes, regardless if they matched or not, and ran as fast as a bullet through the kitchen, for no more than a glass of milk and two bites of a sandwich fixed by his mom. After sending her a kiss, the boy fled out of the kitchen, as it was typical of him, to catch the bus on time to get to college.
“Hey, dear, hold on! I need to talk to you!” His mother said, but he couldn’t talk to her right then, not if he wanted to take the next bus. At night, if he didn’t forget, he would ask her what it had been about.
Going to college, and amid the racket made by all the people around, the boy thought it would be a boring Monday, with its usual classes. He didn’t think anything would happen. Nicholas had no idea how his life would change from that day on, though…
From Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian author Chaiene Santos has three passions in his life: writing, profession and family. On this literary journey, he takes off from Brazil for international trade with translated stories to English and Spanish on Wattpad and Amazon.
Soon, Chaiene became one of Brazil’s writers to be Wattpad Star and participate in Wattpad Studios programs. And currently, to expand the knowledge he studies scripts.
Around 200 thousand fans in social networks embark together and always thank Chaiene Santos for the captivating stories.
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A Slice of Orange is an affiliate with some of the booksellers listed on this website, including Barnes & Nobel, Books A Million, iBooks, Kobo, and Smashwords. This means A Slice of Orange may earn a small advertising fee from sales made through the links used on this website. There are reminders of these affiliate links on the pages for individual books.
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