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.

Dark Spectrum – Episode 10

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 HAD THE CAB stop when we passed a gas station I remembered from the night before. I preferred to take a bus or walk, but as I had somewhere to be in a few hours, I justified the expense. Money wasn’t tight as long as my accounts weren’t discovered by law enforcement. I dreaded every time I needed to go to an ATM. The cameras recording my every move bothered me. I realized the chance of somebody reviewing the footage and recognizing me through one of my disguises was remote but it was still a risk.

I’d been careful to alter my voice when telling the cabbie my destination but had smiled when he took a call on an old flip phone.

Spectrum didn’t work on those.

After that, I’d engaged the man in conversation. It felt good to converse without the threat of some silent app picking up my conversation and alerting the police to my whereabouts. I’d become so used to giving gruff one-word responses, that I was surprised when I realized a grin had split my face.

Had I missed human interaction so much that a conversation with a cab driver named Jeremiah Thompson was the highlight of my week?

It turned out that I had.

“Take care,” I said before stepping out of the cab. I slung my messenger bag over my shoulder. It was a little bit heavier because I’d put in a spare pistol. I felt naked without a subcompact Glock strapped to my ankle. In a strange way, it was a relief to no longer have the gun I’d used to kill Beltran. Under normal circumstances, I might have tossed it off a bridge but considering there was a video of me shooting him, it hadn’t made sense to get rid of it. If I were arrested, they wouldn’t need a gun to convict me.

Dark Spectrum – Episode 9

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 PHONE BEEPED, ROUSING me from a fitful sleep as it chased away my dreams. I stared at the yellow ceiling, reliving the previous night and wondering what I might have done differently.

In the heat of the moment, I rarely doubted my actions. It was usually obvious what I needed to do, so I acted, wrangling with the consequences afterward.

I wasn’t so sure that acting on instinct and falling back to my Black Brick training was the best way for me to operate but I was yet to come up with a better way when the bullets started to fly.

The doubts always came later, most often in the dead of night.

It had taken me hours to fall asleep. Once I did, questions plagued my subconscious, keeping me from ever reaching a restful repose. I had turned that situation with Reed into a bloody mess quickly.

My phone beeped again but I ignored it.

Two men were dead and another was wounded. I’d have thought that with all the death I’d seen I would have become used to it by now but every single one bothered me. The faces of the people I’d killed haunted my dreams.

Even Beltran.

A man I knew the world was better off without. Now that I was awake, I reviewed my actions without the warped logic that prevails when trying to sleep and was unable to come up with an alternative way out of the situation.

Before I’d attacked Sam, I’d already learned enough to know I would never work for Reed. He’d done a careful job of constructing his public image but he’d made no effort to hide who he was.

My phone beeped and I sat up, taking a deep breath and coughing. My apartment smelled, there was no getting around it. But it was cheap and the old woman who was my landlord never turned on the television or read a newspaper. Her children didn’t live with her and she never had visitors. I was convinced the smell alone made my allergies worse but considering my need for anonymity and my status as a fugitive, my pad was a veritable paradise.

Dark Spectrum – Episode 8

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:

“SIR,” SAM SAID, HIS back straight and his eyes wary, “we cannot work with this man.” His face was red. He still held the knife with the blade pointed at me.

“He’s not the terrorist he’s made out to be,” Reed said. “You’re making me regret I brought you tonight.”

“If word gets out—”

“And how would that happen?” Reed’s voice was cold. He clasped his hands in front of him, staring straight at Sam. While Sam was bulkier, Reed was a head taller. “Would you be the leak? No one from my leadership team will say a word. I’ve tried each of them. They won’t go against me.”

Sam looked away and muttered something I didn’t catch. I was surprised Reed let his men speak so openly.

I assumed he meant the DataRader leadership team but perhaps he was referring to something else. It was becoming apparent Reed ran a criminal organization of some sort. It was a safe bet to assume those who had been here tonight worked for both.

The argument had distracted me from attacking Sam. I wasn’t going to leave the man unbloodied if I could help it. An eye for an eye. Wasn’t that what the Bible taught? I thought of Sister Bautista and imagined her frowning.

She had condemned the idea of an eye for an eye.

Her lofty principles might have worked for her. They may have even worked for me if I hadn’t been brought up by a criminal and set on a pathway of wanton destruction.

“This won’t work—”

“Quiet, Sam. I’ve had enough of your insubordination.”

Sam clapped his mouth shut. His free hand rested on his pistol but he made no move to pull it out.

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