Dark Spectrum – Episode 20

This week’s episode features a chapter from Dark Spectrum, Jake Ramsey Book #2, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show:

THE MORNING CAME QUICKLY. I spent the rest of the night taking a circuitous route back my apartment. I wanted to believe Shannon had been straight with me about what she knew but couldn’t discount the possibility the whole thing had been a setup to get me to trust her again.

I remembered all too well how Shannon had been willing to go along with framing me for Lane Vargo’s murder, Peck’s predecessor as Diggon’s CEO. She may have thought on the surface it was the “test” Beltran presented it to be, but she’d known deep down it was not.

Especially once Vargo had been shot by Thor, Peck’s hidden assassin.

My mind had hummed as I considered the possibilities, making it difficult to pay attention to anybody who might have been following me. Whenever I’d caught myself zoning out, I doubled back. I never saw a sign of a tail. Over the course of the late evening and early morning, I had done it at least five times. My efforts wouldn’t mean much if they’d tasked a satellite technician to keep an eye on me.

I doubted they’d go that far–I wasn’t that important–but I worried about it still the same and was careful to avoid looking up into the sky. I stayed in the city until places of business started opening. I didn’t head home until I’d gone through some stores and one mall. While at the mall, I changed my clothes in a restroom stall and for extra measure put on a ball cap I’d purchased, just to make sure I wasn’t followed from above.

I was exhausted by the time I returned to my apartment. Just as I shut the door, my phone was hit with a bunch of news alerts. Rather than going through them on the small screen, I pulled out my tablet, which had the same alerts.

Dark Spectrum – Episode 19

This week’s episode features a chapter from Dark Spectrum, Jake Ramsey Book #2, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show:

I FELT LIKE AN animal that had been caught in a hunter’s trap. One I’d knowingly walked into. I’d been too bold by half, thinking I could wait around for the backup team to show. I tried to tell myself I’d waited to help Martinez’s girlfriend but it wasn’t the truth. I had hoped Shannon would come.

I shook my head. I was a fool twice over.

But if I had left, I wouldn’t have learned Sam was working with them. Given what I knew about the connection with Diggon and DataRader, I should have assumed Reed’s people would be working with Diggon. Sam’s presence was a complication I could have done without but it was something I should have anticipated.

A part of me wanted to step around the corner and take as many of them as I could, starting with Sam, but it passed. Shannon and the Diggon team were victims. I already had Mike on my conscience, I didn’t need anymore. While Sam was culpable for his actions, I needed to take out Reed. If I shot Sam, that did nothing to help the kids.

Shannon knew me too well.

It was ironic the one person who knew I wasn’t capable of doing the things I’d been accused of doing was using that same knowledge to hunt me down.

I walked backward with great care, moving each foot slowly. I didn’t remember any obstructions other than the empty bottle and that was still a ways back. Despite the cold, the palms of my hands were clammy. The grip of my pistol would have been slippery without my gloves. Sweat trickled down the small of my back.

Dark Spectrum – Episode 18

This week’s episode features a chapter from Dark Spectrum, Jake Ramsey Book #2, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show:

THE NIGHT AIR WAS colder than before. I took up position on the opposite side of the garbage can. With the potential for bullets, I wanted something that might provide more stopping power than a cardboard box. The can was overflowing, so I used the trash to break up my profile. My eyes were level with the top of the trashcan as I peeked through discarded blinds. I could see the Diggon team’s car as well as the back door. If I’d been hiding here earlier, the cook wouldn’t have seen me.

Several minutes passed since my conversation with Cherry. I hoped she had interpreted my tone to mean I’d left the scene and had passed that supposition on to the team. Letting my breath out, I shifted to firm up my position.

The back door opened several inches, freezing the breath in my lungs. I tensed my muscles, my finger tight against the trigger of my pistol.

The person on the other side waited for several counts before pushing it open the rest of the way. The door opened and Frank stepped out. I stiffened, concerned I’d miscalculated the trash would hide my head. His eyes went right over me without stopping.

If I were to shoot him now, that would leave me with one more Diggon operative, but it would destroy the illusion that I’d abandoned Martinez and his girlfriend. Despite my dislike for Frank, I couldn’t stomach the thought of killing him.

The big man went over the area again, this time he did focus on the garbage can but didn’t appear to see me. He spat as he hauled the door shut.

I shifted my gun to the other hand so I could flex the first. I was glad for my gloves; my hands were cold enough as it was.

Dark Spectrum – Episode 17

This week’s episode features a chapter from Dark Spectrum, Jake Ramsey Book #2, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show:

“YOU’RE A MURDERER, JAKE!” Cherry yelled through my earpiece. My finger tightened on the trigger of my Glock. My headset was on mute so she hadn’t heard Mike’s words coming through my microphone. “You took away the only father I had.”

Frank laughed as if in response to what she’d said.

I should have felt anger at Cherry’s betrayal but couldn’t summon the energy. I’d known the risk but I’d still come. I felt sorry for her. She was a decent person who like Jim, was another one of Beltran’s victims. So much waste. Her words danced in the back of my mind, as I scolded myself for being a fool.

Mike snarled. “Drop your gun, murderer!”

I kept my pistol up, pointed straight at his head. It was the reason I wasn’t dead yet. I was tired of people calling me a murderer. Beltran had deserved to die for all the lives he’d ruined. If he’d got the rifle first, he would have taken the rest of us out. Cherry had been there, she’d seen him run for it.

I growled, more at myself than at them. One of the things I wish I’d thought about before killing Beltran was the fact he’d made it his life’s mission to train killers. This wasn’t the first time during the last six months I’d had an old recruit of his seek me out for revenge.

I choked back a sarcastic comment as I took a deep breath to calm my racing heartbeat. Speaking out of turn was a good way to wind up dead, I didn’t want to provoke them.

Dark Spectrum – Episode 16

This week’s episode features a chapter from Dark Spectrum, Jake Ramsey Book #2, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show:

A SINGLE BEAD OF sweat trickled down the side of my head but I didn’t move to wipe it away. I breathed through my mouth in short breaths to keep the stench from distracting me. I could just make out the rear window of the car from my position.

What would I do if Shannon got out?

The thought of coming face to face with her stopped me short. I hadn’t seen her in six months and even though I wouldn’t want to react to her, I knew she would have an effect on me. I couldn’t harm her. If it came down to it, I’d let Martinez die before that happened. Or shoot him myself.

What would Shannon do if she saw me? That question was more concerning.

I’d thought about letting her know I hadn’t done the video but had decided against it. She should know that wasn’t something I’d do.

“Don’t let Martinez die,” Cherry said, it was half plea, half command. I shook my head, wondering if I should even move. I could lie, claiming I’d done all I could but I didn’t think I could do that to her. I cared about Cherry. I had a hard time lying to people I cared about. Besides, the truth had a way of coming out. It might have taken twenty years but it had caught up to Beltran.

Cherry’s anxious breathing came through my earpiece and I tried to ignore it. The four doors of the car opened and I held my breath, focusing on remaining as still as possible.

“Mike, Julio, Frank, and Jim are on the team,” Cherry said. A small amount of tension left my shoulders because Shannon wasn’t with them. All four men were former Black Brick employees. I had worked with each of them but only peripherally. Most were decent men, trying to do their job.

Frank was the problem.

Dark Spectrum – Episode 15

This week’s episode features a chapter from Dark Spectrum, Jake Ramsey Book #2, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show:

THE MOON CAME OUT from behind the clouds, casting the alley beside Benny’s Diner in light and forcing me to push deeper into the shadows. I wasn’t sure if there was still smoke in the air from the bombing but I could smell it. The media had been in an uproar since the attack. Three people had died in the blast. I’d been surprised, but pleased, that so few had lost their lives.

More people had died in the much smaller bomb on Market Street. I hadn’t gone to any of the social media websites, but I suspected many people were cursing my name. After today, more people were going to install Spectrum on their phones. Peck might be able to claim fifty percent of the smartphones in the city. If nothing else, Reed was helping Peck grow his network. Sam claimed they were fighting Peck. Reed claimed he was thinking of selling DataRader to Diggon. I had no idea what to believe. And I also didn’t care. I needed to stop them both.

I pulled out my phone and opened the Spectrum app, just to make sure it was muted. It was something I found myself doing more and more often. I had no clue how Sam had found me again but I was thinking of deleting the app.

The evening was still and the traffic mostly gone due to the lateness of the hour. A cab came to a stop in front of the restaurant and a couple with a child got out. Considering the time, I was surprised to see them out so late. I wasn’t able to tell for certain but it looked like they were heading into Benny’s Diner.

My heart sunk as the bell on the door rang a moment later. It was bad enough I was out here helping Cherry but I didn’t want a young family being caught in the middle of all this. I toyed with warning them but what would I do if the Diggon team showed up while I was inside? They were minutes away.

Dark Spectrum – Episode 14

This week’s episode features a chapter from Dark Spectrum, Jake Ramsey Book #2, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show:

THE SPEED OF THE crowd might have lessened by the time we’d put several more blocks behind us, but if so it wasn’t by much. It had thinned out the further I’d gone from the blast site. I didn’t feel like a sardine any longer but I was still in a thick flow of people.

I didn’t know what to make of Cherry’s request and even though I’d agreed to look in on the situation, I considered just letting the matter drop. The risk wouldn’t be worth any information she might be willing to give up.

Even if I received some intel, would I be able to trust it? She had begged for help because she had no other option.

It wouldn’t be evening for some time, so I put off a final decision until I’d gotten away from the thick of things. I needed quiet to think.

It went against my instincts but I continued to move with the flow of the crowd. In a way, it was a symbol of what my life had become. I wasn’t in control and was left scrambling to figure out the cards somebody else was handing me.

I gritted my teeth. That wasn’t going to last for long. I was going to change things.

Cars and trucks jammed the road. Some people had abandoned vehicles to escape on foot, but I was surprised at the number of drivers who chose to stay with their cars while the foot traffic swarmed around them.

I could no longer see smoke or dust from the blast site, so perhaps many of the drivers weren’t aware of what had happened. More to the point, the danger was over and as long as they were willing to wait, things would pick up.

Dark Spectrum – Episode 13

This week’s episode features a chapter from Dark Spectrum, Jake Ramsey Book #2, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show:

I MOVED OUT OF the flow of foot traffic while I fished in my bag for a pair of earbuds. Once I was right up against a stone building, I replayed the video several times looking for a clue that might give me an idea of who had done this.

Had Reed Warner done this because I’d refused to work with him? Using the data they got from Spectrum and facial recognition technology, had they been able to make an almost perfect copy of me?

Peck would have been my first thought if not for everything going on with Reed, but I couldn’t rule him out. He wasn’t above hurting his own company to garner sympathy and public opinion. Bill Martinez crossed my mind as a possibility. I hadn’t seen him since the day I’d shot Beltran but we’d had a brief phone conversation. I didn’t think it was likely Martinez was behind this but considering the way he’d let Payne rampage through the city unchecked, I wasn’t about to cross him off my suspect list either.

What about Kris or Shannon?

That was my paranoia speaking, I was reasonably sure but didn’t dismiss it out of hand. Somebody had just put me in the crosshairs and I wasn’t about to take anything for granted.

The background behind my false image was dark, but I could make out the hood of a car. I couldn’t be positive but it looked like there were several others as well.

Was it an underground parking garage?

I pushed play for the third time.

The words of the video were seamless and my lips moved so naturally it might have been easy to believe I’d said such a thing and just didn’t remember it. I reached the end of the video and was about to watch it again when I noticed my image moved when it laughed, showing an exit sign in the background for a brief second.

I recognized the place. I’d been there before.

It was the old Diggon headquarters where Shannon had been kidnapped. I pulled out my phone, thinking I’d call and warn somebody. But who could I call?

Dark Spectrum – Episode 12

This week’s episode features a chapter from Dark Spectrum, Jake Ramsey Book #2, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show:

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” Kris asked.

I didn’t reply as I pulled her so she faced me, making her no longer visible to the man’s camera. He’d probably already taken a picture, but if not, I’d just kept him from getting one.

I’d also just let him know I was onto him.

If it had just been me, I’d have let things play out, but with Kris in the mix, I felt an obligation to keep her out of as much of this as I could.

“Don’t look behind you,” I said while putting my arm around her in what I hoped was an affectionate way, “but those men are spying on us. One was trying to get a picture of you.” I guided her in the opposite direction of the men, angling across the grass to keep them from having a glimpse of her face.

I admonished myself. I’d noticed the men when they’d approached. Why hadn’t I made us move then? If they figured out who she was, she was going to be dragged into this, like it or not.

The more I thought about it, the more convinced I became I had recognized something about one of the men though I wasn’t able to put my finger on it. How had they tracked me here?

I’d been careful and hadn’t spoken a word since my altercation with Reed’s men. I’d doubled back countless times and had taken routes through shopping malls and supermarkets just to make sure I didn’t have a tail. I checked above us and was glad to see there wasn’t a drone nearby.

Dark Spectrum – Episode 11

This week’s episode features a chapter from Dark Spectrum, Jake Ramsey Book #2, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show:

I WALKED TO MY afternoon meeting with Kris. The solitude and the chill fall air calmed me. After the altercation with Sam, I needed the time to decompress and gather my thoughts.

I undertook a number of tactics to lose anybody who might be following me. I picked crowded areas to walk through and made sure to duck in and out of stores, using alternative exits when available. By the time several hours had passed, I was certain I wasn’t being followed.

I became nauseous when I thought of how close I’d come to using a grenade in a populated area. Was I so brazen I’d risk innocent lives? Was I becoming the monster everybody thought I was?

Sister Bautista had once told me: There is a spectrum between good and evil. What matters is the side of the spectrum you’re on and the direction you’re moving. The moment you take one step over to the dark spectrum or even face that way, you’re on the losing side.

The religious undertones notwithstanding, there was something to her words. The dark spectrum lead to a place I wasn’t prepared to go. It was why I reviewed the times I’d killed people, looking for things I might have done differently. I had refrained from tossing the grenade but I worried I might find myself in such a situation again.

Would I make the same choice? Or would my instincts to survive kick in and leave me dealing with the aftermath?

Part of me wanted to just toss the grenade in the trash but there was no telling what might happen to it if I did.

But that wasn’t the real reason I held onto it. Deep down I wanted to know I still had it.

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