Cyber Horror - The Beginning . . . of the End
New Release on Amazon.com
A man's attempt to use his 3d printer to find a cure for cancer leads to a dangerous virus outbreak. Can he cure himself and find a way to help others before the virus reaches world destruction levels? Who else is interested in his experiments?
Go to: http://www.amazon.com/Cyber-Horror-Beginning-End-C-H-ebook/dp/B01BO9THAE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1455581780&sr=8-1&keywords=cyber+horror+the+beginning+of+the+end
There is a $50 Amazon Gift Card for the first correct answer to the book's Cyber Horror clue and a $100 Amazon Gift Card drawing for all correct answers in the first six months of publication. Read the Book.
My latest novel, Intersection of Intent is now available at Amazon.com for Kindle as well as in paperback and large print paperback versions via my webstore. If you like a mystery, and trying to figure out how it will end before it does, give this one a read. The cost is a low, low $8.99 for paperback, or $3.99 for Kindle. If you like, send a blurb out to your friends! Here's a synopsis of the book:
Lives are intertwined when a house explosion kills one mother, a second mother abducts her son, and a third breaks her silence. Each of their boys, now grown, questions what he grew up believing; all three are determined to find the truth in New Minden, Ohio.
And Chapter One, to whet your whistle...
“I’ve gotta be the only police officer left in the country who goes to the library to dig up information.” Keith’s usually smooth, self-deprecating voice had a raw edge to it; his lank frame collided with and then claimed the hard plastic chair.
The microfiche spun as Collette demonstrated the controls. “Let me know if I can help.” She lingered, her blond hair held off her face with a thin hair band, the kind younger girls wore. She stepped back, slightly behind, to the right of him. She studied Keith’s profile, the nape of his neck, and his broad shoulders; she ignored the machine’s display.
Keith ignored her, mastered the controls, and started to read.
Collette was on the edge of asking a question when Keith spoke.
“Here it is. May 1998.” Keith repeated the weekly’s headline almost under his breath,
“Horrific House Explosion Kills One, Two Missing”
Collette walked away with the honed silence of a librarian.
Keith read that the fire chief drew conclusions based on what was found at the site of the house explosion. He was aided by forensic reports from the insurance inspector. It was surmised that the owner’s half of the ranch duplex, the Brewers’ house and garage, filled with gas before the stream filled the basement and reached the hot water tank’s pilot light. That was the only way to explain the immensity and intensity of the explosion.
Keith read Dennis Amax’s words. The local reporter filled pages with descriptions and pictures of the aftermath, eyewitness reports from the neighbors, and suppositions from people who knew the young Brewer family and their renter, Cheryl Small.
“The duplex blew up in a cacophony of burst timbers, ricocheting metal, grenade-like glass bombs, and snap-cracking plastic. When the debris rained back to earth it was mostly unrecognizable. Scattered over an acre, the scorched remnants smoldered and oozed. Acrid smoke rose from what looked like hundreds of tiny gnome-lit fires. Shards of glass and china stuck out of the earth and dared anyone to walk on them. Nails, bolts, screws, and saw blades impaled themselves in the nearby trees.”
The paper came out two days after the explosion. Keith reasoned Amax had time to dissect the scene and give the readers the details they craved.
“There was no dividing wall in the basement between the two units, only a chain link, floor to ceiling fence to separate them. On the Smalls’ side of the basement the concrete laundry tubs had moved a few feet across the floor and were cracked, probably due to the extreme heat. The washer and dryer were smoke black and bruised from implosions with tools. They were tilted against the outside cinderblock wall as if leaning back and conspiratorially whispering to each other about the lives of the people in the house. The fire was more intense on the Small’s side of the duplex. It was fueled by stacks of newspapers and magazines that had been piled in the basement.”
Lengthy comments were posted under Amax’s pictures taking all of the citizens of New Minden and the surrounding townships into the scene, and now Keith too.
“The Brewers’ bathtub and toilet were ejected straight up like jet fighter seats only to come hurtling down with terminal velocity. The photo shows the two porcelain pieces, minus the lid of the toilet tank, on top of a brown/grey mass of unidentifiable bits and pieces in the crater of a newly formed volcano, the Brewer’s half of the duplex.”
Keith reasoned that some information was good, the rest was Amax’s interpretation of events.
“Down the street, the windows at the Stenceks’ house shook violently and pictures flew off the walls. Mr. Stencek had just stepped out of his truck; he felt the heat of the blast. Mrs. Stencek called the fire department when she looked out her kitchen window and saw flames and billowing black smoke.”
Keith read the words Amax repeated verbatim and wondered if either Mr. Stencek, his wife, or his son were still in New Minden.
“We heard a second explosion as we ran. Might a been her car. What was left of the house was all fire and smoke when we got there. We yelled to see if anyone would answer. The fire was making a roaring noise up outta the basement. My wife and I moved back aways. We weren’t sure if there was going to be another explosion. I sent my son running back across to our house to get the fire extinguisher and flashlight from my truck. Figured he’d be quicker than me. David and I made a wide path around the house to see if there was anybody to help. Mary was crying. She kept saying that poor woman, that poor little boy. David stayed once the fire trucks got there, but I had to take Mary home. She was just too upset.”
The newspaper reporter was there when Mr. Brewer made his appearance at the scene an hour or so after the explosion.
“The shadows were long when Mr. Brewer arrived home. The firefighters had extinguished the last of the flames so even the light from the small fires was gone. He could see that no one could have survived the blast and consuming inferno. He fell to his knees and cursed, then held his head in his hands and sobbed. With the embers mostly tamped, the police and firemen on the crews grew quiet as they poked and prodded at small piles of debris. Detective Osland led Mr. Brewer away to the back seat of a police cruiser.”
Keith’s cool, gray eyes flicked as he scanned front page articles in the weeks following the explosion. Questions nagged at him, “Accidental? Intentional? Insurance Fraud? Revenge?” It was a puzzle and he had only the straight edge pieces. Were the answers about his father going to be ones he needed or would he stir up memories better left alone?
Two hours passed before he stretched his arms into the air to relieve the dull ache in his back. He looked around to see different faces from when he had first come to the library. He had not registered people coming and going. He saw Collette at her desk talking to a young mother with two small children. She smiled and kept eye contact with the woman even as the children whined and pulled at their mother’s skirt.
She was going to be reading stories to the three to four year olds in the afternoon so she was dressed in slacks and a short summer jacket. She needed to be able to sit on the floor and move around with ease. Collette and a soft green hand puppet would imitate a lurking, long-necked dinosaur. She would enjoy this part of her day more than the staff meeting that would come later.
Keith stood and stretched again. Collette’s head turned at the movement. He instinctively touched his rear jeans’ pocket, the one that held his wallet and police badge, picked up his notebook and pen, and headed for her desk. “Think I’m done for today.”
She refocused her attention to papers on her desk; she kept her eyes down as she asked, “Did you make any progress?”
“The local paper had a lot of coverage of the house explosion.”
“Anything I can look up for you?” She raised her head and stared into his smokey eyes. She could not help herself. As Children’s Librarian she seldom had a chance to talk with people her own age at the library. She knew Keith from high school and a few times she had ended up in the same group of friends to see a movie or go bowling.
She had been at the checkout desk when he came in and had offered to help him with the microfiche. She felt his eyes had depth and intelligence and story in them. When she descended into the basement to get the rolls of film he needed, she let the chill of the basement air cool the blush she got from just talking with him.
“If I’ve got some time at lunch, I mean?” She lifted her eyebrows and her forehead rumpled. She smiled her best ‘librarian at task’ smile.
“I really need to read the articles myself. You know. To get a feel for what happened.” So I can read about my dad, he thought, but did not say.
“Sure.” Her answer was quiet, disappointed. Her eyes shifted back down to her paperwork.
Keith felt vaguely uneasy. Was it the question he needed to ask or something about Collette? “Does the library have a place to look up if someone is still alive?”
“Are you looking for one person or several? Here in New Minden or elsewhere?” She kept the emotion out of her questions.
“Dennis Amax. He was a reporter for the paper back in ’98. Don’t know where he lived. I’d like to pick his brain about what he remembers. You know. There might have been stories his editor didn’t let him file.”
“That’s not a name I’ve ever heard here at the library. Can’t you find him through the police computers?”
“Nah. This is personal and I’d like to keep it that way, at least for the time being.”
He twisted at the waist, still trying to work out the stiffness. Collette could see his torso flex under his T-shirt. “I…I can do a search for him through the library’s computer research engines. Should I call you if I come across anything?”
“That would be great. Just tell them at the station that you have some information for me.”
“I’ll check with the other librarians. They might remember an unusual name like Amax, A-M-A-X, right?”
“Yeah. There’s a lot of names from twenty years ago that I need to put faces to. But, I’d be happy to start with him.”
Keith did not know that one of those faces from the past had boarded a plane in Sacramento, California and was headed east toward New Minden. Another was driving northwest from Virginia with the same destination in mind.
You can read more about Intersection of Intent on my Blog - click on Blog in the left hand menu. Or follow this link to purchase a copy
REVIEWED by HeartsBooks on Amazon.com
"Intersection of Intent is a fully engaging read with characters that comand your attention. I wanted to keep reading, even after the last page. I look forward to reading the New Minden Mystery series and hope the others are much fun as Intersection of Intent was."
REVIEWED By tibet on Amazon.com
The Envelope and Raspberry Iced Tea
The packet was given to her with a smile, an unspoken paragraph of meaning. She didn’t feel herself to be a good judge of people; she wanted people to be virtuous and kind. She could not remember ever really getting what she wanted.
She sat on her porch with a glass of iced tea, raspberry iced tea, with a teaspoon of real sugar in it. Early evening often brought calm to any breeze that had stirred during the day, tonight was no different.
She puzzled over the envelope. It was so different than opening an email. She realized she had no virus protection against this sealed communiqué, this dispatch, this hand-delivered missive. She balanced the envelope on her upturned palm and felt the weight of it. A slight tremor of nerves caused the unopened envelope to flutter like a silver maple leaf in a breeze.
Her mind replayed the scene of her neighbor handing her the envelope. What did he say in his half-smile, “We’ll see how smug you are after you read what is hidden in the virginal whiteness of this envelope?” She had always secretly despised the man. When he shoveled snow he made mounds of it in the small space that separated their driveways, the icy piles lingered when other snow melted. When he cut his grass he mowed so that the clippings were thrown into the air in the direction of her car.
She thought of these things and more as she sipped her tea and looked anxiously at the envelope. Surely someone handing you important documents, papers that might alter your life, wouldn’t just pass them off without a word. Wouldn’t they forewarn you? Isn’t there a rule? Something in the way humans are programmed that says the giver must signal, through words or body language, when there is weighty sobriety to the situation? Her mind was distracted by the bees that hummed in the spice bushes on the other side of the screen.
It was warm for the first of June. She caressed the coolness of her glass.
She wondered if she imagined the sneer and raised brow. She thought that the documents could be good news. But then, why not an inkling, a word of cheer from the man? Why would he not want to share in her happiness with a clap to the back or knowing wink?
The envelope and its contents could not be good.
Sludge of somber, reddish copper sunk to the bottom of her glass. The ice melted and transformed the liquid near the top to a dewy saturate of pink hue as her mind worked over the possibilities. She stared at it and thought of things that could sink her to the sweet, opaque abyss.
Were these documents of her family history? Was there evidence of some rampant neurosis that strikes unwittingly, but skips generations? Was it that her proclivity for prolonged sour periods was spawned hundreds of years ago and passed, like rolls at dinner, across the table and through the generations? Now, here to own her?
Did the papers speak of things to come? Was he, the one who passed the papers, the recipient of news so catastrophic that he could not speak when he handed her the sentence? Was he so shocked that his lip curled in dreaded relief at being done with them and she mistook it for a smile? Perhaps she should pity him for the toll on his soul to pass on such sumac news.
Like a blind woman, she ran her fingers over the envelope’s edges. She Brailled through the thin covering. Was that the edge of a picture? What had she done that was caught by paparazzi of sneak and snare? That would now be her ruin and her shame? That would cause whispers and sidelong glances even among people she thought were her friends? She thought of the few friends she had and imagined their disloyalty.
She swirled the tea with her spoon and caused a mini tornado to spin counter-clockwise. The bits of ice that remained were too weak to clink against the glass. The raspberry gave off an infirm fetor, the sickly sweetness of artificial berry-like flavor. Was this perfumed drink her last supper before opening the warrant before her? Glassy droplets of water rolled off the stem to splotch the envelope. An omen of tears, of requested atonement.
Perhaps there was another way to be rid of this insanity. She thought that if she was ever asked, she could say that it blew away on the wind before she saw the contents. She could say it was lost among the sheets of the Sunday paper and given to the recycling gods where it was shredded, reprinted, and unwittingly became the blacker news of tomorrow.
She considered whether it was better to burn it unopened. She could take the white sheathe and sear it to bubbling black. Then pour water into the wastebasket and make a slurry of freedom. She’d empty it out onto her rose beds. But, then she could never enjoy an inhale of their coral fragrance again without wondering.
In a sane world she had no choice.
She slipped her finger under the glued edge of the triangle flap. Her eyes settled on her iced tea. More tears of condensation welled and then slid slowly down the sides of the glass to melt into the tablecloth. She couldn’t bear to watch her own supposed destruction. She closed her eyes to the fluke of disaster.
With nothing and with all to lose, her thumb and forefinger reached in and pulled out a stiff piece of paper. Blindly, she removed a second, smaller shape. Her thumb slid over one slick side and recoiled at the ruffled edge. Her heartbeat hammered the inside of her chest. Her breath was held against constricted lungs. She was on her feet without knowing that she had stood ready to make for the woods.
She felt the coolness of the glass on the back of her hand and knew that she had rocked it off its center of gravity. Her eyes flashed open in time to wince as the liquid escaped in one obliterating rush to stain the tablecloth and oval rug. Her eyes flew to the documents. Too late to lose, or shred, or burn the contents. Instead, they were washed in a rosy glow of sugar berry that raised water welts on the face in the photograph.
She peeled the sodden high school graduation invitation and picture of her neighbor’s son from the table. Where was the simplicity of Occam’s razor perception when needed?
Two mild February days and we thought that Spring was here. How foolish of us! The snow is back. The grotesque piles of jagged, dirt and exhaust covered black have melted and were replaced with a gentle covering of white.
We have a gnome who guards are front door in the winter. We bring him out of the attic about the same time we take in the porch furniture. He has an ever lasting battery that gives his lantern a warm flickering glow. It is a silent reminder that we are still here.
He doesn't look all that happy, a full white beard hangs below a red pointed cap that droops so that his eyes are hidden. Perhaps he is just tired of looking at the snow too. He carries a sturdy pole in one hand, but has never taken a step off the porch.
Except for when he knows Spring is here and then he marches back up to the attic to languish in the sweltering heat until next winter.
He was a gift from the women who work with my husband. He was a birthday present many years ago. I don't know what possessed them to buy him a gnome, but we are ever grateful. Coming home on a cold night to his yellow light flickering welcome on the porch is truly knowing you have reached the door of home.
Hope you all safely reach the doors to your homes tonight.
Have you heard of Kiva? Kiva is on a mission to connect people, through lending, to alleviate poverty. Years ago our family had tried the "I'll give to your favorite charity if you give to mine" as an alternative to Christmas presents. Problems popped up because, well, we're a family. That's what we do, we argue at Christmas.
This year our daughters in Nashville gave us gift certificates to Kiva (www.kiva.org). We use our gift certificates to LEND money to people and they PAY US BACK so we can lend it again! The best part was, they gave us each our own gift certificate. I could, and did, search the site for women so my gift could be gender specific. I have a feeling my husband will be less inclined to sort by gender and be more interested in the risk factor (probability of pay back) and time constraints. He is an accountant, after all.
I'll be whooping it up if either of our small contributions makes a difference. But, no matter. I am whooping it up anyway to think that we have raised a daughter, and in turn gained a daughter-in-law, who are socially conscious. Who think that helping someone else, before themselves, is the way to live and who would include us in their life mission.
Could we be prouder? I don't think so!
An update - my first Kiva loan was repaid 100%. The initial investment now goes out to another woman, a woman who wants to increase her stock of writing papers, journals, pens, pencils, and the like for resale. A woman I can love!
Untreed Reads is having a sale! Log on to www.untreedreads.com and take advantage of a reading bonanza! 25% off titles through the end of the year.
Daniel is a quick, fun read taking a look at two young people getting to know each other. Do they really know each other after only nine days? Hunt for the truth just as they hunt for a hidden Geocache and their find takes them to another city in another country.
The Clarent Pin is now available in multiple formats. Go to Untreed Reads to purchase for $1.50 and receive your copy via pdf, Palm Reader, eReader, and ePub
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