Tag: Thrillers (page 2 of 6)

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.

Dark Spectrum – Episode 22

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:

SWEAT TRICKLED DOWN THE side of my head and the small of my back. A sense of horror settled onto me like a net. I held in my hand the smoking gun. This paper linked Margaret to Reed.

Given what I knew of the man, this couldn’t be a coincidence. I pulled out my phone and took pictures of the letter and everything else accompanying it. I had no idea what might prove useful so it seemed best to make sure to have a copy of everything. My hand trembled with fury, so I leaned up against the wall to keep it from shaking as I took the pictures.

It was one thing to have a theory. It was quite another to have evidence. This was how Reed had sifted out who he was going to kidnap. He brought them to his company under the pretense of an internship.

Regret flowed through me that I hadn’t shot Reed when I’d had him in my sights. People who played god with other people’s lives deserved nothing less. Of course, if I had, I might not have come down this path looking for missing children.

After taking the pictures, I spent a few minutes on the documentation. A packet of orientation information accompanied the letter. I scanned it but didn’t find anything useful.

I reread the acceptance letter. Margaret was skilled with the computer as well. The internship was with the software development department. The letter was from a man named Ronald Essler.

I read the name again.

Dark Spectrum – Episode 21

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 FOUND MARGARET’S OLD address by midafternoon. She had lived in a rundown duplex on a tiny lot. Similarly dilapidated housing was on either side. The lawn was overgrown but it was generous to even refer to it as grass. It looked more like a cultivated dandelion patch.

The driveway of the ramshackle home was empty, the concrete cracked and falling apart. I approached the door and gave it a knock, expecting there wouldn’t be an answer. I was planning to pick the lock and slip in but wanted to make sure the place was empty.

While I waited, I thought of Sam, wondering how he’d found me. After my encounter, I’d gone through everything I had with me looking for a tracker but I found nothing. I’d dumped my loose change and turned off all my phones. I’d even turned off my tablet. I’d done my usual routine of taking the long way while going through crowded areas. I’d switched hats three times. Unless there was something I was missing, he had no way of knowing where I was.

But still, I was worried, wondering if they were somehow tracking me while I wore a disguise. When I had a spare moment, I’d research to see if DataRader had facial recognition technology, but I was grasping at straws and knew it.

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 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?

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