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After over-the-road truck driver Odessa Kearney is blatantly kidnapped from the shoulder of Interstate 40 in New Mexico, she and her abductor are doggedly pursued by FBI agent Sam Buscella through the deserts and canyon lands of the American Southwest. The crusty investigator is defied time and again by the apparent supernatural power of her captor as Odessa slowly succumbs to his influence.
Of course Sam doesn’t believe in such things, and remains determined to find this taken woman who had been so earnestly seeking a new life. Odessa may now have to pay a heavy price for release from her old one. Her estranged husband David tries to keep his job and his sanity while he copes with his wife’s transformation, not knowing her fate or that his company’s research can destroy humanity’s ability to exist. It can only be stopped by this extraordinary woman whose path is forever changed by murder, and an unimaginable form of corporate espionage played out in the shadowy realm of the paranormal.
Excerpts from Part One– the Abduction
Chapter 1 Madonna on the Curb
A few seconds of mutual staring ensued. A chill ran down Odessa’s back. Not wishing to confront this disturbing image further, she climbed behind the wheel, cranked up the Detroit Diesel power plant, slipped it into first gear with a crunch, and hurriedly pulled out. When she glanced back at the building, the apparition was gone. What remained was a feeling of dread, and a vivid memory of someone who scared her far more than the Sisters of Fear ever could.
For a spoken-word audio/video of this chapter, CLICK HERE
Chapter 2 Wheels of Thunder
But Odessa knew those were uncertain days not only for her but for many. America was still in the grip of the Great Recession–a period of dumbing down, down sizing, and not knowing if down was up. Still, even though she had a steady paycheck, she was holding on to a marriage that should have crumbled from its own weight long ago; to an occupation that represented containment at the same time it was liberating; to a culture that left her more alienated than the alienation she rebelled against as a teenager, and to a sense of age that though more chronological than real, was nonetheless a nag of a worry. She yearned for the good life she thought she should have earned by now.
Chapter 3 If I Ever Make It Home
Odessa hesitated. “Do you want me to ID the body or something?”
“Not quite. Just part of it.” Sam carefully put his notebook and pen in his vest pocket, donned a latex glove, and gingerly opened the car door. He partially lifted the sheet off the deceased driver, exposing both hands. “Are these the fingers you saw?”
Odessa had never seen a corpse positioned exactly as it was at the time of death. Her knees went weak, but she focused on what she was asked to do, quickly realizing those lifeless white fingers were long and lanky, like she played the piano. Definitely not home to the elfin-like appendage she remembered.
Chapter 4 Fill Her Up
If I scream right now, who’s going to come and help me?
The unwitting confederate of the daring escape attempt broke formation to go to her car. Time to scream now! Just as Odessa inhaled to let out the best piercing vocalization she ever sang, Zacharias came up behind her and covered her mouth. He spoke to her softly. “Shh, Odessa. You’ll give people the wrong impression…”
Chapter 5 Runaway
Odessa listened intently as Zacharias spoke like a scholar. “They are there, my good woman, even if you can’t see them. They are still hiding…they did not disappear because they ran out of the energy to live…they ran out of the energy to die.”
Chapter 6 Change
Instead she saw something that was about to make her situation far worse…something that would have terrified even the most skeptical unbeliever…It’s vacant eyes insidiously returned her gaze as if to challenge Odessa’s right to exist.
Chapter 7 Riders on the Storm
As the state trooper peered into the darkness beyond the profile of the truck, no one came forward. Backing away from the rig to get a clearer view of the entire scene, he detected no new sound other than his own footsteps. The solitary, plaintive figure was silhouetted against the background of the lifeless vehicle. He saw and heard nothing, but began to feel the uncertainty of what was about to unfold. He was alone; the only authority to deal with events that were about to evolve beyond his control.
Chapter 8 Angel of Death
The park ranger raised his injured right arm. “There is one more thing, Agent.” Sam paused in the doorway and looked back…”I’m not a religious man, but I’m wondering if that thing could have been from somewhere else. Ya know, maybe it wasn’t a bird. Like maybe it was the devil or something. That angel of death came from the sky. It sure wasn’t natural.”
Chapter 9 Don’t Fear the Reaper
“Ya see, the one I had this mornin’ was different. The truck keeps comin’ closer and closer. What happens when he catches me? Ya know, maybe the dreams are about something that hasn’t even happened yet!”
Chapter 10 There’s a Doctor
Dr. Zarkovian plopped down at the table…”I believe ve just witnessed our patient’s reaction to recalling an extremely traumatic event. Ve were on the very edge of him recognizing the driver of that truck, and it was just too much for his subconscious to handle. This vill not be an easy case, Dr. Mahoney.”
Chapter 11 Who Did I Kiss?
David responded angrily. “Then I repeat, who was that woman who looked and talked exactly like Odessa, and whose truck was she driving? Are you saying the woman was an impostor? That’s insane! Who would stage that kind of elaborate trick? I don’t believe it! Listen, the woman you found can’t be Odessa, and the person in the truck that pulled up this afternoon was. Odessa is alive, but she just took off!”
Chapter 12 Break on Through
David was scared. He tried to run . . . tried to hide, but there was no place to go. He thought he was losing his mind as he perspired profusely and his head ached. Where did everyone go? he thought. Is this Zacharias coming back? Things began to spin around him, and he felt like he was going to die.
Excerpts from Part Two– the Ghost
Chapter 13 The Third Eye
They got into the SUV and left the cemetery, looking back one more time at Odessa’s grave. It was dark, and the shapes of the neighboring tombstones looked ominous as the pair followed the curving road back to the exit. Leaving through the still open gates, Dr. Zarkovian looked at her driver. “Sam, you realize ve have a lost time episode here, don’t you?” Sam looked back at her. “Lost time? As in a UFO abduction?” She did not answer, and they drove off into the night.
Chapter 14 Visits
“You are a special case. Many ghosts live in limbo for eternity, unaware of the passage of time and remembering their own tragic end as if it was yesterday. Some are rescued and move on to my world. Many do not. This is not to say there are not well-adjusted earthbound spirits, those who are relatively content with their station in the afterlife, perhaps as a guardian of the mortals or places they left.”
Chapter 15 The Professor
“You’re not going to tell me the imagination’s a powerful thing, are you? I’ve dug into the bodies of many a research animal and some dead humans to boot, but you know what? I’ve never found an imagination! If it was so powerful, you’d think I would have come across one by now. Maybe its right next to the soul. Haven’t seen a single one of them either. Haven’t even discovered a figment. What the hell are those supposed to be? Listen, human evolution didn’t program too many figments of imagination into our design, and if a chemical is being produced in our brains, its there for a reason.”
Chapter 16 The Mission
In spite of her concern, she also wondered about more mundane issues . . . are there only vague discomforts when you’re a ghost? Can we be afraid or angry or happy? To her It was like ascertaining the emotional state of a cat or a dog. A person could tell by their eyes and their expressions and what their tails were doing. What about spiritual beings? Not the ones who successfully made the leap into the supporting arms of those in the other world, but those stranded alone to deal with their past life and death while waiting for their turn.
Chapter 17 Rebellion
“Sometimes people get to a point in their career where where they have to break off and fly on their own. Other guys hang-in there and run out the clock no matter how miserable it makes ’em. As far as my plans go, I’ll get my private investigator’s license and keep nosin’ around things and pissing people off. That’s what I always wanted to do when I grew-up anyway.”
Chapter 18 Father and Daughter
“You know Dave,” she laughed, “its not every day ve talk about people losing their souls!” Her laugh quickly vanished. “But if that was the message from Odessa, ve have to take it seriously. As ve’ve talked about before, its not unusual for a recently deceased loved one to visit, especially in a dream.”
Chapter 19 Warnings
As he undressed and threw on his ratty old bathrobe, he began to feel strange. This scotch is stronger than I thought, he mused. But the heavy ambiance in the room was not due to his drink. He felt someone else was there with him. As he stood by the bed with shot glass in hand looking bewildered, he saw a familiar sight forming in the corner by the dresser. He felt a chill, and the hair on his arms stood up.
Chapter 20 The Trial
He had finished his self-guided visualization, and was pushed into a deep dream-sleep by the strong relaxant he was also given. As he continued to see the castle in his dream, it took full control over his unconscious thoughts. Suddenly the imaginary edifice was no longer being buttressed by the welcome soldiers. Dave could only watch as most of them disappeared from the scene. Black smoke began to billow from the turrets, and the granite stones in the walls started to crack. Entire large pieces of the castle walls were tumbling down onto what soldiers remained still trying to get-in. Flames could be seen from the open windows, and screams were heard coming from deep within.
Chapter 21 The Meeting
“Well get the fire department here. We have an emergency!” David ordered. The alarm sounded, and most in the room were no longer seated. Someone tried to open the emergency exit in the corner, but it also would not function. He gave up when loud banging noises started to emanate from the back wall. Boom . . . boom . . . boom . . . The sound mixed with the screaming siren, raising the level of stress for the now captive group of executives.
Chapter 22 Let My People Go
Sorry, no excerpt! I’d be giving away the ending . . .
Copyright 2016, Paul Hill
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