Blood Games – Episode 3



This week’s episode features a chapter from Blood Games, Jake Ramsey Book #3, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show:

IT SEEMED AS THOUGH an eternity passed while I considered how to respond to the cop’s order, but it wasn’t more than a second or two. I wouldn’t say I’d become used to walking past police officers, but my disguises had allowed me to do that multiple times.

Part of my hesitation was because I was surprised he’d stopped me. He had his hand on his holstered pistol but hadn’t yet removed it. Perhaps he didn’t have a reason to suspect me and was just being cautious. 

I dropped my bag and raised my hands. My heartbeat thudded inside my chest, and sweat trickled down the small of my back, but I thought I was doing a skillful job of keeping it all from reflecting on my face.

“What’s wrong, officer?” I allowed a little bit my alarm to creep into my voice but stamped down the rest. A regular citizen in this situation would be concerned, but he hadn’t pulled a gun or made any accusations. “Is everything okay?” I nodded to the bag. “Please feel free to look inside. I’ve got nothing to hide, just headed home from work.”

Nothing but my disguises, pistols, a grenade, and the ammo to go with it, I thought. If the cop did decide to go through it, I’d have to respond quickly. Even with my newly found boundaries, I wasn’t going to hurt innocent people. If I couldn’t hold myself to that, then I was no better than Peck or Reed.

“Can you remove your sunglasses?” he asked.

I did and gave him a weak smile, trying to look non-threatening. Goofy even. He shook his head. “Okay, you can go.”

I had expected him to take my picture and submit it to FaceRec.

“You don’t want a look in my bag?” I made no move to pick it up, making sure to sell it.

“Negative. Be careful, we have a known terrorist in the area. You see anything suspicious, give us a call.” He left before I could respond.

I allowed a small smile to creep onto my face as he disappeared into the park. The makeup may have been a pain, but this made it all worth it. As soon as I could, I would duck into another restroom, and make a few subtle changes to my face. I wore a long sleeve shirt, so if I took off my jacket, I wouldn’t look out of place in the cold.

Wanting nothing more than to run, I forced myself down to a fast walk. The officer had said a terrorist was in the area so a quick pace away was what an average person would do.

I snorted. An average person would run, but I didn’t want to risk it.

Blood Games – Episode 2

This week’s episode features a chapter from Blood Games, Jake Ramsey Book #3, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show:

THE RAIN HAD SUBSIDED to a sprinkle and the thunderstorm had disappeared. I’d lost count of the number of blocks I’d gone, but the rough weather had been working for me, keeping people more interested in where they were going than who they were passing. The change meant it was time to do something about my disguise. I’d been lucky to have made it so far but my window had closed.

The loss of time would hurt but I didn’t see a way around it.

Gritting my teeth, I stopped in a mall bathroom. When I looked in the mirror, I wasn’t surprised to see my disguise had washed away.

Lucky indeed, I thought.  

I checked over my shoulder, half expecting a squad of cops to follow me in. Seconds ticked by while nothing happened. I shook my head and tried to force away my paranoia. Unfortunately, it did little to lessen the tension I felt in my chest.

Muttering, I used a paper towel to dry the rainwater from my face, wiping off the last remnants of my disguise. I’d just started on a new one when somebody entered the bathroom. I hid my face and went as calmly as I could into a stall, acting like I’d already been headed in that direction.

Had he recognized me?

I half-expected him to leave without using the facilities. I’d be right behind him if he did.

When he settled into a stall, I suppressed a sound of exasperation. I had hoped he’d be quick and leave me alone again in the bathroom.

Blood Games – Episode 1

 

This week’s episode features a chapter from Blood Games, Jake Ramsey Book #3, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show:

LIGHTNING TORE THROUGH THE sky, and it was followed by thunder. I wiped the rain off my face, squinting as I ran towards the cab Ronald Essler had just disappeared into. My messenger bag bounced off my back and slid against my waist. Using an elbow I pushed it back into place.

A man stepped in front of me and I was unable to keep from colliding into him, so I put my shoulder down and barreled into his side. He went careening into the crowd with a shout of indignation but I was already beyond him.

Others turned to look.

“Move!” I said to a black woman with short hair.

“You!” She said. “You’re that terrorist.”

Cursing, I touched the latex on my face and discovered it had come free. I tossed it to the side. I’d been holding onto hope that the rain hadn’t washed away my disguise, so much for that.

I pushed my way past her without speaking, hoping she’d let it go but knowing it wasn’t likely. She had plenty of tools to report my presence. It seemed like everybody had one of those Spectrum apps installed on their phone since Reading Market.

How was I supposed to know the whole thing had been caught on camera? Not the kids, of course, or any of the audio, just me shooting Sam.

In cold blood.

I’d do it again, given the opportunity. I just regretted the whole world had seen me do it. DataRader had used the release of the video to announce FaceRec, their facial recognition product that connected to any video feed. It came equipped with Wi-Fi and would pass any alerts into DataRader’s monitoring system. Reading Market had been part of a beta test, and Sam had been a member of the DataRader team which responded to an alert about my presence.

Or so the story went.

Reed had made the announcement himself, tones all somber, his eyes burning with the desire for justice. It had made great television, and he’d had free press coverage for days. Their stock had gone through the roof. Diggon had managed to save some face, but investors hadn’t liked the risk the fake me posed and had been selling it off, even though Spectrum was being downloaded in record numbers. It was at the top of the charts on all platforms. Before long I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere in the country and not have somebody’s phone listening for me.

Dark Spectrum – Episode 29

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 FROZE, SHIFTING MY pistol behind my back so it wasn’t obvious to the children I was armed. I had expected to find kids who’d lost their way and had planned to usher them after Deon.

Margaret and Benji were the last people I’d expected to find here. I’d never considered Reed would already be putting them into the field.

Even Beltran hadn’t put us into anything live until after each of us had turned eighteen, a fact I’d never thought about until now. Now that I’d come face to face with Benji and Margaret, I wondered what else Reed might be capable of doing. If he could send children into harm’s way…

The two were talking and didn’t look up at me. They both wore bulky jackets that had plenty of room to hide any number of weapons.

I swore under my breath and was about to step out of view when Margaret looked up. She stopped Benji with an arm. He followed her eyes to me. I was surprised to see recognition on both their faces. First Sam and now them.

How had they known it was me?

Despite all my precautions, DataRader had still somehow managed to track me. This was more than just Spectrum. Perhaps they knew where I lived or they had cameras with facial recognition technology all over the city. I was going to have to make some significant changes.

Benji muttered something I couldn’t make out but neither was surprised to see me. Despite the apparent fear on both their faces, they both looked to be considering what they should do.

Dark Spectrum – Episode 28

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 WENT TO JOIN HIM, scanning the rest of the area as I did. I didn’t see anything to cause alarm.

I joined him beside a table where he was bent over a cardboard box. When I saw that he’d slit it open with a knife, I cringed. If it were me I would have still been opening it, making sure I wasn’t about to cut a wire that would set off the bomb.

He folded back the flaps of the box. Inside, a mess of dynamite and wires was connected to a sinister looking jar of liquid. It looked to have been assembled haphazardly. The jar had tape around it, presumably to keep it in place.

I knelt and moved the wires. It didn’t have a timer that I could see but there was a cell phone taped to the side of the box that had wires running from it.

“Careful!” Deon said, kneeling on the other side.

“How far out is the bomb squad?” I asked. I’d overheard his conversation requesting them as I’d approached.

“Five minutes. Maybe ten.”

“We don’t have time,” I said, walking over to a trash can and dumping the garbage on the floor. I brought it back and handed it to the cop.

“The explosion will rip it apart,” he said.

I shook my head. “That’s not what we’re going to do.”

Dark Spectrum – Episode 27

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:

Sam didn’t appear to notice the terrified looks he received from those around him. He glanced at me before looking at Deon. I saw recognition in his eyes. He knew it was me.

How did he know? My current disguise was among my best.

“He has a gun! He has a gun!” I didn’t see who screamed but everybody in the dining area focused on Sam. Those who weren’t in front of him ran for the exits.

Sam’s finger twitched on the trigger as I tackled Deon. We crashed into a table and chairs, sending them flying. Bullets screamed above us, the hissing sound of the silenced gunfire audible in the emptying room.

“He’ll have no mercy,” I said, shouting to be heard over the din. “Shoot to kill or you’ll regret it.”

The cop grunted as he brought up his pistol. He moved fast but his hand was shaky. He also glanced back at Earl. I was afraid Deon might hit a bystander if he took a shot.

I grabbed his arm and pulled him to a large metal beam that I put between Sam and us. It wasn’t much cover but with the congestion between him and us, we had a few seconds.

“Let go of me!” Deon snarled. He needn’t have bothered, I had already done so as bullets hit the overturned table where we had been moments before. One hit the cement floor right where I had been and made a ricocheting sound as it spun away.

“He killed Earl.”

Dark Spectrum – Episode 26

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:

JUST IN CASE DIGGON had decided I was worth tracking by satellite, I detoured through several buildings and took off my jacket. I switched hats as well. As an added precaution, I turned off my smartphone and took out its battery. I’d been careful to never call anybody but Kris with it.

I headed to the DataRader headquarters. I didn’t have a plan but thought I’d stake it out to see if I noticed anything useful. I sat on a bench and pulled out my tablet. I thought about turning it off too but decided it was unlikely anybody could track me with it. I opened my Wi-Fi finder and logged on to an open hotspot.

It wasn’t surprising other law enforcement agencies were getting involved in the hunt.

I’d never before wanted to leave the city so badly but I could not do it.

I would never forgive myself if I did.

The DataRader website listed all their official locations. Two were in the city, the rest were scattered throughout the world. In addition to the DataRader headquarters located in front of me, they had an industrial campus located on the outskirts of the city. I doubted Reed would keep the kids at either one but sitting here in the chill fall air was better than doing nothing.

I furrowed my brow as I studied the guards at the main entrance. No doubt, the garage would have similar security, but perhaps I could find a way into the underground parking structure. Maybe I’d get lucky and spot Reed. I could put a tracking device on his car, hoping to discover the kids. If that failed, I would at least learn where he lived. I’d done some searches to locate his home but hadn’t turned up anything. I missed having support staff that were able to find things I could not.

Dark Spectrum – Episode 25

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:

MY BREATH CAUGHT IN my throat as I stared at the letter. I had wanted to believe Ron had told me the truth.

This is why you don’t trust anybody, said the paranoid voice in the back of my mind.

I hated to learn my paranoia was well founded. It made me worry that one day my skewed reality would send me over the edge, into that dark spectrum Sister Bautista had told me about.

It was a problem for another day, but one on which I intended to keep a close eye. If I lost myself along the way, what was the point of all this?

Even though he had said it to manipulate me and the media, Reed’s accusation that I was mentally ill bothered me because there was some truth to it.

I was not far from losing it.

I could sense a mental break coming unless I somehow staved it off. Perhaps Kris’ advice to leave the city was something I ought to heed.

Benji and Margaret.

I would not leave until I’d nailed Reed to the wall for what he’d done to them. I couldn’t go until I knew neither he nor Peck were in a position to recruit more children to be their pawns.

If I lost myself in the process, so be it.

I pulled the acceptance letter from the board. With the exception of who it was addressed to, it was word for word the same as the letter Margaret had received.

Anger flowed through me, I struggled to keep from crumpling it. Rather than take a picture, I folded and put it away in my bag. Nobody was going to miss it. I needed hard evidence I could give to Kris, if it came to that.

 

Dark Spectrum – Episode 24

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 WANTED TO FEEL encouraged as I left Ron Essler’s place, but I couldn’t help thinking he’d been lying to me. I didn’t know what it was that bothered me. Perhaps it was because he’d seemed eager to answer my questions. Maybe it was because he’d believed me about the video when everybody else needed convincing.

His words and actions were effective on a subconscious level because I’d felt guilty when I’d planted a bug underneath his couch while he’d gotten me a glass of water.

Everything he’d done seemed genuine. I had to be careful to not be taken in. There was something about regular human contact I missed. I’d tried telling myself I didn’t need it, but that wasn’t the truth. As I walked away from his apartment building, I reviewed the conversation to make sure my elation from having a real discussion with somebody wasn’t coloring my ability to analyze it.

Ron had never been through any of the training programs at Black Brick–at least, I wasn’t aware of any–and his position had been internally focused. I’d only met him a few times so I didn’t have a solid baseline for comparison. I was left with trusting my gut. My instincts told me he was lying.

As my warped reality settled back down onto me, I reentered my survivalist frame of mind. I had one option. I needed to corroborate everything he’d said.

Just in case Ron watched me leave through his window, I made sure to disappear around the corner before pulling out my radio receiver.

The bug had a limited range but it would still work if I went around the corner to listen.

Dark Spectrum – Episode 23

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:

RONALD LIVED ON THE fourth floor and I resisted the urge to run up the stairs. I wasn’t in a hurry. I had plenty of time. The one thing I needed to do now was avoid calling attention to myself. I needed to look like I belonged in the building.

On the first landing, I closed my eyes and took several deep breaths, imagining I’d just got home from a late night at work. It wasn’t easy to put myself into the shoes of an ordinary working man, but I did my best. After a minute, my heartbeat had slowed and I wasn’t so antsy. I slumped my shoulders and went up the stairs. Just another man heading home after a late night at the office.

It was a good thing I’d exercised the self-control because on the second floor I ran into the woman who I’d followed into the building. She was on her way back down with a bag over her shoulder that she had not had before.

We made eye contact, I gave her a mirthless smile I hoped conveyed a sense of fatigue, but she looked away without a word. If she were concerned that I didn’t have the right to be here, it didn’t show on her face. Glad I’d taken the time to relax, I continued past while trying to not think about what she might have done if she had found me pounding up the stairs like I was going to accuse somebody of kidnapping children.

The stairway was a stark affair with white cinderblock walls and metal stairs. The handrails had been painted white recently. Each floor had emergency telephones that were several decades old. I was surprised to see them still in service, considering everybody had a cell phone these days.

I was relieved when I got to the fourth floor without a problem. I stepped out into the corridor as if I belonged and tried to avoid looking over my shoulder.

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