A selection from Chapter 1
By, John Henry Davis
Fifty years in the future, the novel features a tough but troubled female detective with psi powers who probes the minds of dead people in order to hunt down murderers.
When Carina Sandavol was ten, she was telepathically linked to her father when he committed suicide, feeling his terror and agony as he fell to the ground. Now as an adult working in a New York, the trauma haunts her every day. When more murders are committed, she must overcome her inner trauma and fight off the emotions of the souls invading her head to uncover the identity of the killer and confront him.
Selection from Chapter One
Detective Carina Sandoval was tightly strapped into the copter-plane passenger seat, speeding to the crime scene. Sleep deprived and cranky, she knew the bodies were going to be in terrible shape. She could already picture them bleached and wrinkled from the seawater. Carina tried to distract herself by staring at New Jersey now unfolding below. The thousands of tiny lights blinked coldly up at her, indifferent to her mission. She glanced at her partner Bret, who looked like a tourist on a junket, with slicked down hair and inquiring blue eyes. “What’s the latest, C?” he asked, shouting above the noise of the copter-plane.
The rugged flying machine had wings like a plane and dangerous blades that could cut a person in half in seconds. She liked the new aerodynamic bodies, shaped like the ancient tactical fighter planes with a thin sloping nose that came to a point. More maneuverable than conventional aircraft, it could fly as high as 20,000 feet due to its solar engines. Too bad that all didn’t add up to a smoother ride.
“Whoa!” Bret cried out, jolted by another air pocket. She was thrown against his muscular body for a moment. No romantic thrill there. He was too damn young, she thought. But at least the ride was waking them up.
Carina blinked, reading aloud from the brief report playing across her eye-pids: “‘The bodies were found by two kids, playing near the rocks.’ The idiots practically stepped on the corpses. What the hell were they doing there at that time of night?”
“Stabbed to death. Both victims.”
What she didn’t tell Bret was what the cop on the scene had phoned in: “Freeze cocked brains.” Very funny, Solly, thanks for nothing. He meant the bodies had probably passed the six-hour mental intrusion limit. She just hoped the brains were undamaged, intact enough to probe.
. . .
Later. Now Carina prepares to probe the dead girl’s brain.
The seconds ticked past. Time was running out. “Serena Rios” the tag said. She forced herself to look at her. It was a beautiful face, with delicate bone structure and classic features, jet-black hair cut short. But the lips had been disfigured, slashed horribly. Carina didn’t want to look at that face again. It reminded her of someone, she couldn’t think who. And there were the jagged stab wounds, under her left breast. The same weapon must have pierced her lungs, she thought. A relentless attack.
She signaled Bret to turn down the lights.
First she reconnected the nano-fibers of the probe machine to the probe helmet and fastened it to the corpse’s head. Then Carina inserted the probe fibers very delicately into the head of the girl.
The probe machine started by sending in a neuro-electric current called a neurocharge—a molecular cocktail coupled with electrical stimulation. These low level currents were reawakening the synapses of the dead brain so Carina could get active signals back. She braced herself now to go directly into the complex network of axons to get those raw chemo/electronic signals, ready to use all her mental skills to translate them into sound and images. That’s why they called people like her psi probers, or psp’s for short.
She felt overheated, as she wiped the sweat off her forehead. In desperation, she tried an old trick, tickling the synapses again with a double strength neurocharge, trying to over-stimulate them.
She went in again. At first she felt a kind of emptiness, then a sharp feeling of increasing raw fear, as the mind pulled her inside, deeper, now even deeper, and now
—falling, falling hard down a dark well, hands scraping the edges, soaked with blood, dark red blood, flowing over her arms, her hands, burning her eyes and blinding her, the slippery slopes making her twirl out of control, and then crunch! Landing hard, slamming against the rough sand, the roaring of an ocean all around, consuming her—
Carina abruptly pulled herself out of the mind, pushing away the blind panic. No, It’s not happening, not happening, she told herself over and over. She forced herself to open her eyes, then reflexively looked at her own arms. No blood of course. Trying to shake her head loose of the image, she hugged herself for a moment, trying to feel her own body. Like always, it was all there, perfectly intact, she told herself. She breathed out
She closed her eyes and lowered the lights even further. The whole operation now looked like a kind of séance. She fancied herself a blind crone rooting around in a fetid pond using a gnarled old stick, desperate to grasp the essence of a strange mind, to feel it wholly. For a moment the girl’s beautifully structured face came to her in her mind, the grotesque mask of a model in a vivid black and white negative. Who did she remind her of? Ah. Herself. When she was young. Carina knew she was never that attractive, but she felt a bond with this Serena, a bond that gave her a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. The girl was past saving, but maybe if Carina did this right she could somehow save. . . what? her spirit? She didn’t know, but suddenly it was damn important.
Redoubling her efforts, she groped again into the darkness of the girl’s mind, and then she felt it. The eerie presence of something cruel and deadly—something that could cut her down in a moment. Carina felt choked, gasping for air, as if drowning in her own blood. She knew she had to hold on and not give up. Just a few moments more! She inhaled again, quickly, and something sharp burned her throat. She could taste the blood now, raw and bitter. It was all she could do not to throw up.
And then without warning she felt the sting of the network of axon impulses. An image began to form. No well with blood, thank god, but there: the outline of a face, but with no features, unformed, like a larva, shimmering, then an arm raising a knife. Very briefly there was the silhouette of a body, still undefined, starting to break up. The knife plunged into her lungs—deep, then again, even deeper—searing, unbearable. She opened her mouth to scream but no sound came out. She tried to stop the blood from her chest but there was no stopping that torrent of red—
—a shivering deep inside, starting with a little quiver and then spreading to her hands, her feet, her neck, the dread turning into an uncontrollable shaking that pulsed through her body, and she knew she’d never see any of her loved ones again, she was left to the dead and the forgotten, shattered into the finest dust, trampled on by the uncaring . . . .
Life was slipping away. Should she keep descending into. . . No! Carina had to pull her mind out even more roughly than before, fighting to keep from keeling over. She inhaled deeply.
Carina straightened now, breathing in and out in a measured way, trying desperately to come out of it. She could feel the wet on her chest; she knew she was drenched in blood. Have to clean it up. But then she looked down and saw her dry blouse and the dull dirty brown floor of the cafeteria. Nothing. She put her hand to her chest where the ghost pain of the knife’s slash was still throbbing. But was there anything left in that mind? She closed her eyes and with a force of will concentrated again—trying to draw out images from the beautiful dead girl.
No. Nothing more.