Excerpt from Murder: It’s All in Your Head (Opening Scenes – WIP)

“Mr. Williams, please take your medicine, and we won’t have a problem,” said the middle-aged nurse with the poofy hair. The hair he hated. It drove him crazy.

“How many times do I have to tell you, Poodle, that I’m not Mr. Williams?”

The nurse sighed. “Please call me Nurse Stephens, Mr. Williams.” Her tone almost sounded bored.

Behind him in line, another man nudged his shoulder. “C’mon, Jimmy, just take them. You’re not doin’ yourself any favors here.”

The old man called Mr. Williams frowned, snatched the tiny paper cup from the nurse, and downed the pills. He shoved it back at her. “Here, you happy?” He stepped out of line and returned to the common area and took a seat.

His friend from the line joined him a moment later. “Jimmy, why do you gotta be so difficult?”

The old man stared at his friend. “Fine, call me Jimmy, just like you always do. It doesn’t seem to matter what I say. No one believes me, Charles.”

Charles clapped his hands and ran them over his buzz cut. His young face broke into a grin. “Right. ‘Cause you’re completely sane, bro. That’s what everyone in here believes.”

Jimmy shook his head. “You wouldn’t understand. How could you possibly? Look, I know you mean well and all, but if you don’t believe me, maybe it’d be best if you just left me alone.”

Charles chuckled. “Aw, leavin’ you alone’s the dangerous thing, Jimmy-boy.” He stood and walked away, twitching his neck every so often.

Jimmy watched the younger man go. Charles was younger, true, but according to Jimmy’s calculation, he was only sixteen years his junior, not forty.

The old man called Jimmy sighed. Of course everyone thinks I’m crazy. I’m in a damn nuthouse. He gazed toward the barred window at the sunshine beyond his world. The more time that passed in here, life passing him by, the crazier he got, he supposed. He hated that.

He also hated the side effects of his meds. Drowsiness. A great way to keep from thinking too much about his predicament. Jimmy stood and returned to his room like a good patient and fell asleep.

Later that day, he sat in his psychiatrist’s office. Dr. Winslow leaned back in his swivel chair, his bulk spilling over either side. He kept an ashtray on his desk from days gone by. The good doctor surveyed Jimmy over his half-moon glasses perched on the end of his bulbous nose. The grease from his lunch hung on his chin as much as oil clung to what remained of his greying hair.

“So, tell me how you’ve been, James.”

James. It was worse than Jimmy or even Mr. Williams. The doctor chose somewhere between familiar and formal. Jimmy didn’t know how to read him.

Jimmy shrugged. “You tell me, Doc. Aren’t I supposed to be up for my board review to tell me if I’m reformed enough to return to civilized society?”

Dr. Winslow leaned back further in his chair. Jimmy wondered how the hell that was possible. The doctor rested his beefy forearms on his ample belly and steepled his fingers. He had all the appearance of a sage contemplating the meaning of life. “Yes, that’s true, but one step at a time, James. If you are, in fact, determined to not be a danger, your next move would be to a fully supervised facility. What will you tell them at the time of your hearing?”

“The truth.”

“Ah, the truth or your truth, James?”

“My names isn’t James Williams. I’m Randall Davis, and I’m–”

“Yes, you’re a millionaire, successful CEO of Randall P. Davis Innovations, making a better future for us all. James, have you seen the news recently?”

Jimmy nodded. “Yeah, I’ve seen it, too many times.”

The doctor smiled. “Then you’ll know and understand that Mr. Davis isn’t a guy you’d wanna be even if there were possible. His name isn’t so hot in the industry these days, and I’m afraid his company’s image isn’t the empire he built, either.”

The old man shifted, something dropping in him. “You think I haven’t seen those damn biased news stories? They just love any sort of gossip that’ll ruin a man’s life. There’s no proof it’s true that he’s anything but faithful to my wife.”

“You mean his wife?”

“No, my wife. I love Danielle. We’ve been married for over ten years and–”

Dr. Winslow held up his hand. “That’ll be enough, James. I’m done entertaining your delusions. Besides, why do you care about a man’s life who has nothing to do with you own? Now, let’s get back to discussing you. If you were one day deemed successfully rehabilitated, what would you like to do with yourself?”

“I’d like to find myself.”

“Well, that’s all very enlightening and all, but I’m afraid I’ll need you to be more specific. How would you contribute to society? If you do will in a group home setting, the board may one day deem you ready to be set up with some sort of work and living independently. You would be monitored regularly. Some sort of meaningful hobby or way to give back would show that you’ve made a good recovery.”

“You mean, reflect well on the institution’s part for not just putting another nutcase out on the streets?” Jimmy gripped the handles of his chair. A vein throbbed in his forehead. His face heated.

“Now, James, there’s not need to refer to yourself as–”

“I don’t care!” Jimmy stood, the chair clattering to the floor. He came at the stupid doctor who thought he was so smart. I’ll strangle you, I swear it. You and your ugly mug and your wrong perceptions.

The doctor momentarily panicked, but pressed a button on his wearable alarm. Jimmy screamed and lunged at the doctor, his arthritic, knobby hands clutching at the guy’s thick neck. Seconds later, two big men entered and grabbed Jimmy.

“I’m not Jimmy Williams! I’m not!” he cried as the orderlies hauled him out of the psychiatrist’s office.

Dr. Winslow righted himself in his chair and averted his eyes from the old man. The door closed on Jimmy’s raving. The doctor scrawled on his paper: “For the consideration of the review board, my recommendation is further rehabilitation.”

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Excerpt from Murder: It’s All in Your Head (Opening Scene – WIP)

Eighteen-year-old Cassie Meadows was riding her bike to Jefferson High that early May morning when a light blinded her. She shielded her eyes as the bike spun out of control. When she opened her eyes, a wall of old books stared back. She blinked, taking in several of the titles: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Ulysses, The Odyssey, La Commedia… The bindings were old, yet pristine.

She tried to focus, turning her head a bit. The shelves extended from ceiling to floor, the whole length of the room. Sunlight filtered in through thick parted drapes along a wall of windows. Unlike her house, where dust particles danced in the sunlight, the stagnant room was devoid of even that much life.

But how did I get here? she wondered. One moment I was riding my bike, then the next…

Her thoughts drifted off as she gazed across the room. Awe overtook fear in the moment. Marble pillars stood on either side of an archway leading into another room across the vast space. A large Oriental rug covered most of the hardwood floor. The wall opposite the windows housed a mammoth stone fireplace with a mahogany mantel. Cassie was remained of the ski lodge’s fireplace at the place in Calgary her parents had taken her and her younger brother last Christmas.

A wrap-around leather sofa dominated most of the central space. End tables with Tiffany lamps perched on either end of it. The room was the library in some wealthy person’s house, the type of place she’d never visited.

After her eyes settled on her surroundings, her hearing tuned in to a faint noise in another part of the house. Curiosity claimed her caution as she took a step. She glanced down and nearly fell over. Her hands were thick, hairy, and covered in blood!

She gasped, but the croak of a deep voice reverberated out of her mouth. Reaching for her throat, she felt her Adam’s apple bob. Her breaths came short. She was being doused with ice water, the burn throbbing through her body with each step. But her steps were short-lived. She halted as she noticed a trail of blood on the otherwise spotless floor leading to an archway. Her nerves fired in overtime, her head spinning. She followed the trail, exited the elaborate room into a hallway.

The sound was louder now. The unmistakable sound of running water.

“What’s going on?” Cassie whispered and stopped in her steps when a man’s voice came from her mouth.

Something moved out of the corner of her eye. She turned her gaze to the right and landed on her reflection, only it wasn’t her face. A tall, well-built man of about forty stared back at her. She ran her hands through the trim brown beard that contoured her strong jawline. Liquid brown eyes under a deep brow held confusion, panic. Her hair was wavy, thick, greying only at the temples. She was dressed in a black business suit, like a high executive wore to meetings overseas and then dined on caviar and Champagne under the lights of Paris. But against the black of her suit the blood that was on her hands extended, weaving an unknown horror story in her mind.

She shook her head. “This is impossible.” Yet the voice that wasn’t hers told a different truth.

Her body trembled, and she realized for the first time that her whole being felt different. Her eyes, if she could call them that, fell on a picture frame on the table below the mirror. With shaky hands, her ridiculously thick fingers fumbled to pick up the picture. The man in the photo was a younger version of the body she inhabited. He was smiling, his face next to a gorgeous auburn-haired young woman. The woman’s hazel eyes crinkled around the edges, her freckles standing out against her fair skin in the sunshine. This was a wedding photo of a happy couple.

Cassie returned the picture to its place, the frame now coated in blood, and swallowed, hating the feel of her Adam’s apple constricting. Her insides clenched with every step down that hallway. A drop of blood marked the floor every few inches. She knew this body must have taken this trip in the opposite direction, for how else could she explain the blood everywhere? She rested a hand on the railing at the base of the stairway and gazed up the twisting steps. The water was coming from upstairs. She took the first step and steadied herself. Something was drawing her to the source of that sound. Like drifting through a hazy dream, she moved without thought or purpose.

She reached the top of the landing and glanced behind her. Her mark was on the railing, another path of blood. The occasional drop of blood decorated the floor as she went down the hallway toward the sound of running water. Her knees wobbled as a dizzy spell overtook her. She steadied herself with a hand to the wall and blanched at the bloodied handprint she left.

Just call the cops. What are you doing?

The cops. Right. I don’t even know what the hell’s going on.

She questioned her sanity as she argued with herself. Either outcome, she’d lose this battle.

She pushed herself from the wall and arrived at the bathroom. Water leaked out from under the door.

What am I doing?

She turned the knob, and it slid under her slick hand. She used the end of her sleeve to grip it and pushed the door open enough to peek inside. Pinkish water covered the entire marble floor. Her gaze traveled to the bathtub, the source of the running water. A woman’s body lay sprawled in the tub, her vacant eyes staring at the ceiling, her mouth open in a silent scream. Her head lay at an odd angle, her neck nearly severed in two. Blood ran from the gaping cut into the water.

Cassie tried to scream, but her stomach tightened. Bile rose to her mouth, and she puked. She slammed the door shut and collapsed against the outside of it, pulling her knees up to her chest. The tall frame of the man’s body convulsed with the sobs of a teenage girl as she cried into her hands, which weren’t hers.

“I want my mom,” she whispered. “This…this can’t be happening.”

She couldn’t get the dead woman’s face out of her mind. As the scene replayed through her head, she realized where she’d seen the woman before. She had been this man’s wife.

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My novel, Lorna versus Laura, is available for $4.99 here.

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Review of NEST: Retribution: An Alivia Morgan Story by David Antocci

antocciWhile I am not normally one to pick up a thriller, this novel turned out to be one of those pleasant surprises.  From the very first word of this page-turner, I couldn’t stop reading.  I was reminded of watching a fast-paced action movie.  The scenes in this well-written novel certainly kept me wanting to know what would happen next!

David Antocci’s novel opens with an Islamic extremist suicide bomber standing in a crowd in Boston, where a Congresswoman is about to speak.  You know it’s not going to end well.  NEST, New England Special Terrorist Division, of Homeland Security is on it, but they have the wrong suspect.  As imagined, the bomb goes off, killing and injuring several people, including two NEST officers.

We shift to a heartwarming scene of a young woman named Alivia Morgan playing football with her nephew outside her parents’ home.  She has finally been given a break from serving her country, but after the Boston atrocity, she is called in.

It turns out the terrorists set off the bomb to get back at Alivia.  It’s personal because Alivia led a mission to find and kill an Islamic extremist leader.  Being a female that high in position went viral back home for her heroism, so with her name and face all over the media, there was no hiding from the world what she did…even though she didn’t want the recognition and hoped to return to a more peaceful life of serving her country back home instead of across the sea.

Now it’s become a game for the terrorists.  They demand the U.S. government hand over Alivia to them or more bombs will go off.  While Homeland Security doesn’t wish to give in, Alivia insists on playing along, in the hopes that the U.S. will prevail by saving her and taking down her captors.

It’s certainly a scary situation to imagine yourself in Alivia’s shoes.  What’s to say the terrorists won’t set off more bombs anyway?  What’s to stop them from killing her right away?  The stakes drive higher and higher as the story advances, so you can see why this novel is a real page-turner.

In addition to the gripping plot, the characters’ dialogue is spot-on for what I would imagine soldiers talking like when working under pressure.  There’s no sugar-coating things, yet there is an underlying tenderness between Alivia and her boss, Luis, as well as her secret boyfriend, fellow solider JJ, who has been injured by the terrorists.

Antocci certainly did his research for this novel.  When the team who is tracking Alivia is busy at work with computers and maps, the detail of their work is amazing.  I would believe the author has actually worked in such a facility because these scenes are written so well.

So, how high to the stakes go?  To tell you more would ruin this great novel, so I highly recommend you get a copy of this newly released book and give it a read!

5 out of 5 stars

Purchase David Antocci’s book here.

Visit his website and learn more about his other books here.

Like what you’ve read?  Please subscribe to my blog, where I post a new blog every Friday, including book reviews.  Please note: I will be taking a break from posting blogs until January 2018, due to the holidays and time constraints.  Poetry and excerpts from my novels will still post weekly.  My apologies for any inconvenience.  Thank you for your support!

My new novel, Lorna versus Laura, is available for only $2.99 here.

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