Mott’s Ruminations is delighted to be hosting none other than the multi-talented Robert S. Wilson. The man has a lot going on (where does he find the time?), and you’ll want to pay close attention. I’m going to hand over the mic and let Robert run with the details. Bob, if you please?
First of all, I want to give a huge thanks to Martin for hosting me on his blog for part of the Robert S. Wilson Thrown-Together-at-the-Last-Minute-Due-to-An-Overwhelming-Amount-of-Procrastination-and-Indecision Blog Tour and Book Giveaway Contest! The following is an excerpt from my upcoming cyberpunk crime novella SOULSERVE: A Ray Garret/Lifeline Techno Thriller which comes out September 30th. If you enjoy it, it’s available for pre-order now from Amazon for Kindle and from iBooks for iPad and should be up soon on the Barnes & Noble site for Nook as well. Kobo eventually too. You can also read a much longer sample for SOULSERVE on Smashwords.com.
The strong scent of rain and the cooling breeze abruptly died as the door to Brizen Health’s lobby closed behind Ray. He glanced around, still trying to shake off the dizzying combination of shiny glass, coarse gray concrete, and neutral-colored plastic that made up the outside of the facility. A long, equally drab, concrete wall in front of him housed a small rectangular window where several men in plain white uniforms sat staring at nothing with familiar black plastic devices in each of their ears. Ray sighed. Didn’t anybody use good old-fashioned mice, keyboards, and monitors anymore?
All around were bland gray chairs and small glass tables with vibrant magazines that seemed to be the only thing providing any real color in the place. Several men in black business suits sat at the far end of the room watching a flatscreen television anchored high on the wall.
Ray walked forward and the man closest to the window, a tall slender individual with neat, wet, combed-over dark hair and thick, black, horn-rimmed glasses, looked up at him with an expression of bored curiosity.
“Can I help you?”
“Hi, I’m Ray Garret, Antivii,” he flashed his badge, “I’m here to investigate the murders you—”
The man flew up from his seat turning pale as he gripped Ray’s hand a little too hard and gave it a weak shake. “Mr. Garret, nice to meet you. There’s no need to go into details, we know why you’re here.” He leaned forward and whispered as Ray tilted his head to listen, “One of our biggest financial contributors and his associates are sitting right over there, if you could refrain from mentioning the M-word it would be most appreciated.”
“Dr. Takamimi is waiting past the security doors, I’ll buzz you in.” The man’s voice resumed its normal volume as he sat back in his seat.
A loud buzzer sounded and Ray thanked him then walked through the auto-opening double doors. A fit Asian man of mid height with a large jaw stood wearing the same white uniform with a plastic security name tag at his breast. He reached out his hand and Ray shook it firmly.
“Yes, and you must be Agent Garret. Good to meet you.” Takamimi gestured for Ray to follow him and the two began walking down the long drab hallway.
“The pleasure’s all mine. So, fill me in here. The local police intel I got said something about nine murders and a… haunting?” Ray laughed.
Takamimi’s face stretched in grim disapproval.
“I’m sorry, Dr. Takamimi, don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen a lot of things over the years but ghosts and goblins just aren’t on that list. Besides, I’m here to investigate the recent murders not a haunting. Murder, now that’s something I’ve seen with my own eyes.”
Takamimi sighed. “As a scientist, I would normally agree with you. But what’s happening here I’m afraid cannot be explained in any other way. Supernatural haunting? I can’t say. But strange things are happening nonetheless. I’ve chosen to stay agnostic on the matter.”
Ray nodded. “All right. Tell me more about these strange things then. Seems pretty calm around here to me.” They took a right down another long corridor exactly like everything else. Gray concrete, lots of glass, light-colored metal doors.
“It’s only in section 671. It started with the murder of Dr. Broxson.”
“Yes. Carl was the head of our neuro-technical division.”
“Let me guess, neuro-tech just happens to be in section 671?”
“Indeed, Mr. Garret. Ever since Dr. Broxson’s death the temperature in the main server room in 671 has steadily maintained a negative sixty-five degrees despite several attempts to reprogram the room’s thermostat software.”
“Sounds pretty scary.”
Takamimi gritted his teeth together. “That was just the beginning. When anyone tries to enter the room it locks itself and something has even gone so far as to send out an electric shock to those trying to enter. Dozens of people have reported disturbances throughout that entire section of the building. Everything from printers turning themselves on and printing out strange messages to people seeing things on their computer screens or in their Lifeline programs that shouldn’t be there to…” Takamimi stopped walking, his face becoming nearly as pale as the walls behind him.
“What?” Ray said.
Takamimi whispered, “A few people have reported seeing and hearing Dr. Broxson’s… ghost.”
“Oh, you mean in the Lifeli-“
“No, Mr. Garret. At least half of these sightings were reported by staff members who do not have clearance to wear an HPDID. Some of them wouldn’t even know how to put one on.” Takamimi’s heavy jaw quivered. Ray had dealt with a lot of scientists in his time and he had never seen any so quick to believe in such things.
“So, like janitors, a cleaning crew or something?”
They stood in front of the main doors to the server room. Black crisscross patterns covered the vertical windows of the long orange metal doors. Ray grabbed hold of the silver handle and tried to turn it. It was locked. “Hey, can you give me the key?”
Takamimi pulled out a large keyring, fumbled through it quickly, then handed it to Garret by one particular key. He backed away as if even being near Ray when he opened that door was dangerous. Ray put the key in the lock and took a deep breath. With one hand on it, ready to turn, he gripped the door handle with the other. He counted to three then unlocked the door while turning the cold metal handle.
Several things happened all at once. The door flung open, blasting a chill out from inside. A strong burst of electricity scorched through Ray’s hand sending the rich taste of copper to his tongue, the shock intensifying the further open the door became. And finally, as his body was shaking and smoking, Ray thought he could make out a faint figure in the server room peeking his head out from behind a locker-like rack of servers. His skin was pure white and translucent, his eyes almost invisible orbs, dark pupils sitting in the middle like black pearls in open white clam shells. A thick, cool, misty breath blew from his mouth as he stared back at Ray with a blank expression.
When Ray came to, he was lying on the floor, the door above him closed with Takamimi leaned against it, head back, chest rising and falling in rushes in between his words. “I told you… Mr. Garret… this was… a bad idea.”
“Point taken. Maybe we should start somewhere else.” Ray peeled himself from the cold, hard, vinyl-tiled floor into a sitting position. “Where was Dr. Broxson murdered again?”
The team of scientists in 671-46 was very busy when Ray and Takamimi arrived. Inside, the lab was long and rectangular-shaped with desks and strange machines lining all four walls. The center of the room was filled with a large array of cages housing a rich variety of animals from monkeys to dogs, to cats, to mice and rats. Each creature in the room had a plastic device in its ear. Even the small rodents. Ray thought he’d witnessed everything having to do with the HPDID, but apparently there were models even he hadn’t seen. He assumed they were custom made by Brizen.
Takamimi introduced Ray to a young female scientist who had worked closely with Broxson up until he passed away. Dr. Rainns seemed shy at first, almost nervous. Ray would ask her questions and she would answer so quietly he would have to ask her to repeat herself several times over. Eventually, he had all the information that he needed just in time to call it a day. Takamimi provided Ray with his own keycard badge so he could enter the building on his own when he needed and Ray left for home.
Rhonda was finishing dinner when Ray came in. Standing over the steaming skillet, a half-smoked cigarette hanging from her mouth, she glanced back at him and winked. She was in those tight stone-washed cut-off jeans she often wore around the house and a huge T-shirt, her hair up in a messy auburn knot at the top of her head. Ray smiled wondering what he’d ever do without her.
“Could you grab those two plates there and take them to the dining room table?” she said.
“Sure, babe. How was your day?” Ray hollered back toward the kitchen.
“Oh, pretty boring mostly… Another day sitting and staring at a blank screen.” Her voice rose over the sizzling skillet. “I’ll be right there. I just need to—” There was a loud slam from in the kitchen.
“Honey, you okay?” Ray dashed into the room nearly slipping on the linoleum. Rhonda lay on the floor, her arm stretched out, hand still holding the skillet, pieces of chicken scattered across the floor.
She sighed. “I’m fine. I just fell.”
Ray took the skillet from her hand and set it in the sink then helped her to her feet. He looked her over for a few minutes in complete disregard of her request to let it go. “I’m sorry, but this is the fourth time this week you’ve up and lost your balance. I think it’s time you saw a doctor.”
She argued for a long time, seeming more concerned she had ruined dinner than anything else. But eventually Ray wore her down and she promised to go see Dr. Varnes the next day.
Robert S. Wilson is the author of SHINING IN CRIMSON and FADING IN DARKNESS, books one and two of his dystopian vampire series: EMPIRE OF BLOOD. He is the Bram Stoker Award-nominated editor of BLOOD TYPE: AN ANTHOLOGY OF VAMPIRE SF ON THE CUTTING EDGE, a co-editor of HORROR FOR GOOD: A CHARITABLE ANTHOLOGY and NIGHTSCAPES: VOLUME 1, and lives in Middle Tennessee with his family and a silly obnoxious dog. His short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies, online, and paper publications, and his cyberpunk/horror novella EXIT REALITY was chosen as one of e-thriller.com’s Thrillers of the Month in July 2013.
His debut fiction collection WHERE ALL LIGHT IS LEFT TO DIE was just released on September 23rd and the second novella in his cyberpunk/crime thriller Ray Garret/Lifeline series, SOULSERVE, is available for pre-order and will release on September 30th. He is currently working hard to finish a number of novels and novellas all at once like a blind juggler given knives and led into oncoming traffic.
Where you can find Robert S. Wilson and his work:
Where All Light is Left to Die: http://www.shiningincrimson.com/p/from-author-of-shining-in-crimson-and.html
The Robert S. Wilson Thrown-Together-at-the-Last-Minute-Due-to-An-Overwhelming-Amount-of-Procrastination-and-Indecision Blog Tour and Book Giveaway Contest! = https://www.facebook.com/events/459398677533097/
Robert’s website is http://www.shiningincrimson.com