Author: Ken Hughes
Published: February 6, 2012
Publisher: Windward Road Press
He can hear a whisper a block away… and can’t remember why.
Open your mind, to a city where mystery chases up and down office back stairways, turns brother against brother, and plays out on frozen sidewalks where lives may be shattered if the enemy even looks at the ragged man passing by in the crowd—and even that man cannot guess what memory will be next to batter his mind.
Paul was no detective, no thief, only a student trying to get some distance from his father and brother. When he found himself marked by the power to enhance his senses, he had only that treacherous gift and what few tricks he dared to teach himself, to search for some explanation—or at least the chance to give it meaning by exposing a few petty corruptions.
Paul thought if he lived in poverty to keep his existence secret from the world, at least nobody could force him to use that gift as a weapon against others. But just when he thought he was untouchable, the last thing he expected shakes his world and drags him into the perils of his family, his power, and two women who each have a different claim on his life.
As Paul begins to play cat and mouse with enemies he can’t even name, he must break every rule that’s kept him alive, in every frantic chase and every gamble he makes to break his family free. And all the while, he knows his greatest enemy may still be what lies behind his own secrets.
If you think you know everything a paranormal thriller can do, take a closer look.
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Paul gritted his teeth. Gripping the metal piece as firmly as he could through the glove, he Opened to the shape in the shadows along the window, fighting to ignore the two memories so he could just see the wires, know the distance…
In one move, he reached down through the broken pane to stab the metal’s edge into the wood below, pressing its length between the sensors at just the proper angle. Nothing snapped, no alarm blared… and he yanked his hand back up as the dog snapped at him.
The metal stayed in place. He tried to Open his hearing to follow if the electrical path had changed, but all he heard were Quinn’s words and the dog’s thwarted growls.
Time to find out.
The dog watched his every motion now, so he took the last pigeon from his box and slid it through the hole. The dog barked as the bird fluttered by, but this time, it turned right back to the window as Paul reached in again to flip the latch.
He pulled his hand back in time, but the dog kept barking, and Paul could only hope the guard was still sick of false alarms. And that the other alarm here…
The window slid up, just three inches for now. No bells rang, but the dog snarled and snapped just beyond that gap.
And Paul raised the pet store’s spray bottle and squirted cleaning fluid into its face.
The dog yelped and pulled back, giving Paul a moment to fling the window up. As the dog started toward him again, he gave it another spray, then caught up the bird net and flung it over the beast.
Paul grabbed the bottle again and leaped through, into the room.
A few desks and cabinets stretched around him in the dim light. He turned back to see the dog already shaking off the thin net, as expected. He stepped back and pumped the spray as the dog charged—but it squirted once and then the trigger clicked in without pumping any liquid. He back-pedaled and pumped more slowly, but now the spray only made the dog flinch back a moment.
The inner door’s this way—Paul took a step, and his hip bashed the edge of a desk. The dog lunged.
He spun around the desk and threw himself at the door. For one frozen moment, he wondered if he’d ever heard the guard open it. What if it’s locked? Then he seized the handle and wrenched it open, which sent a spasm through his injured arm.
As he stepped through, the dog came up behind him. Paul ducked sideways and gave the spray bottle trigger one hard squeeze. The spray drove the dog back only a step, and Paul pumped wildly, felt the trigger catch on nothing—He smashed the bottle into the animal’s head, knocked the dog away, then leapt back out through the door and slammed it shut.
Gasping for breath, he listened to the dog’s muted barking for a moment. The spray bottle had split open in his hand, and he set the its remains quietly on the floor.
Paul looked past the desks to the office’s little file cabinet and then marched back to slide the window shut and gather up the net. That left him in the space between the alarms, with the dog trapped, and the guard tired of checking out all these noises.
Ken Hughes is an urban fantasy writer living in Los Angeles, author of Shadowed and the upcoming The High Road. He’s also done technical writing for missions to Mars, and blogs about writing and genres at www.KenHughesAuthor.com.
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