Author: Dan Decker (page 1 of 18)

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.

Dark Spectrum – Episode 7

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 BODYGUARDS TENSED when they saw Reed’s snub-nosed pistol. Judging by their surprise, they hadn’t known he carried a gun. As I processed the moment, a single bead of sweat trickled down my face and into my mouth. It tasted like blood, which turned my stomach. Always had, always would. I didn’t enjoy rare steak or even sushi.

Reed appeared to be enjoying himself, he smirked when he noticed his guard’s faces. Bulbous Nose frowned and opened his mouth but didn’t get out a word because Reed spoke first.

“I now have your attention, Mr. Ramsey.” He motioned with his pistol and I saw it was a Smith & Wesson. “I’m not planning to hurt you but I’m not afraid to do so.” He paused for emphasis and smiled without emotion. “I’ll shoot you myself. If you stop acting foolishly, I’ll put this away so we can continue our pleasant conversation.”

Bulbous Nose sneered at me with teeth that were in desperate need of flossing. The guard I’d headbutted had his hand to his nose, trying to stop the flow of blood. The fingers I’d bit were wrapped around the butt of his pistol. His eyes were slits and his face was a scowl. The other guard made a placating gesture he just shrugged off.

Judging by the way the injured guard looked at me, he’d killed before and would do so again. Unless I found a way to free myself, I wasn’t getting out of here alive.

I twisted my hand but there wasn’t any more slack than what had been there before. I put the fingers of both hands together and pushed, trying to spread apart my wrists. For a moment, it felt as if I was making progress and might free a hand, but then it was gone and my wrists would move no further.

Dark Spectrum – Episode 6

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 GROWLED UNDER MY breath and clenched my hands. The smug look of satisfaction on Bulbous Nose’s face made me want to break his nose.

Call a man a terrorist enough, and you made him want to become one. Perhaps that was what this was all about. They were hoping to provoke me into doing something rash.

Was this Peck, after all, playing a game to trick me into doing his bidding? Was he trying to make me angry and then planning set me loose to see what damage I would do?

A mixture of water and makeup dripped onto my shirt. Gasps of realization came from those in the crowd. Some nodded their heads as they took me in. Others looked on in fear. Somebody said they should give me to the police, I didn’t see who.

I couldn’t get past the fear on most of their faces. Apparently, Bulbous Nose was one of the few who hadn’t bought into the reputation Peck had crafted for me.

Twisting my hand again, I tried to free it from the loosened rope but was unable to make any headway. And even if I did free a hand, my arms were still bound to the wooden chair. My feet and legs were free but I could do nothing with so many people watching my every move.

I continued to work at my bonds, hoping the ugly doll was the only thing that they could see it. The rope chafed my skin but I persisted. I moved the other hand as well, hoping that loosening one would loosen the other but I had no such luck. Whoever had tied the rope had done a thorough job.

Dark Spectrum – Episode 5

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:

WHEN I CAME TO, I wondered if there was something to my last thought of slipping away to the other side. I couldn’t see and my body wasn’t responding.

The thought left as my grogginess faded. I became aware I had something covering my head. My hands and arms were bound behind my back to what felt like the back of a chair.

The coarse rope chafed my wrists. I fidgeted in my bonds, testing for slack. There was none. I continued to move but kept my movements small so they would go unnoticed. If I worked at it enough, I might loosen something.

My nose itched and I could do nothing about it.

Judging by all the fibers sticking into my face, I figured I had a burlap sack over my head. I was either in a dark room or something else had been put over the top to keep light from shining through the rough fabric. Sweat trickled into my eyes and when I inhaled, the air was warm and moist.

I wanted nothing more than to rub my nose but I had no way of reaching it. I twisted my head, hoping to find a less itchy position, but the sack came in closer and I itched all the more.

Growling so only I could hear, I pushed out my lower lip and blew, hoping to move the fabric. It didn’t do any good.

Voices came from nearby. The sack muffled the sound such that I was unable to make out what they were saying.

It had to be Peck and my former Black Brick teammates. Who else could have tracked me?

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