Authors: Mark Wayne McGinnis
Tags: #Paranormal Thriller
A Tapped In Novel
Mark Wayne McGinnis
Copyright © 2015, by Mark Wayne McGinnis. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator,” at the address below. This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Lura Lee Genz
I’ve had a few hours now to think about my current situation. Presently, I’m precariously perched, straddling a wet, wooden balustrade—a flimsy handrail, old and creaking—that constantly shifts backwards and forwards with no particular regularity. The trick is to keep my feet in constant motion. That, though, in and of itself, is not the problem. Well … not my only problem. Hell, the saloon’s top floor balcony lies only a few feet below and behind me. Nope, it’s the thick rope fastened around my neck. My hands are tied behind my back, which has me more than a little concerned, and the simple fact that I’m far more likely to fall forward, rather than backward—toward this small Western town’s Main Street below. Either way—falling two feet backward, or pitching forward, toward the street thirty feet below—will lead to the same inevitable outcome: Dead is dead. The noosed rope around my neck is affixed high above, about ten or so yards up, to a metal bar—like a horizontally-extended flagpole—and is canted-out several feet in front of me, so I’m awkwardly leaning forward. If my feet slip off this slim railing I’ll fall forward and commence doing the Irish jig until my tongue turns black and I piss myself. How I constantly place myself into such precarious situations has crossed my mind more than a few times over the last hour or so.
Did I mention that I’m going through withdrawals? I’m not a drug addict, but the symptoms are just about the same—maybe worse, in my case. I too get the sweats, the blinding headaches, and the shakes.
Whoooa … almost lost it there.
My left boot slipped from the railing and I watched several large, splintered-off pieces of railing free fall toward the muddy street below. Oh, I forgot to mention another reoccurring symptom … nausea. I retched again and felt hot bile at the back of my throat. Just one of a thousand dry heaves I’ve experienced over the last three or four hours, while stranded helplessly on my narrow perch. I
need to tap in.
To explain what my
process is, you first need to keep an open mind. Seriously, this can be hard to swallow, so put the rational part of your brain on hold for a bit, because what I’m going to tell you is … well … unbelievable.
I can read minds. More than that, I can influence others’ thoughts. It all came about over a year ago on a desolate highway near Kingman, Arizona. I was on the run. An agent, who’d just spent a year hiding out in Russia with everyone—and I mean everyone, from the FBI, CIA, and DHS to the SVR, the CIA’s Russian counterpart—looking for me, all wanting me dead. I’d been set up … accused of killing an American agent. In their defense, yes, I actually did kill her. But it was in self-defense. She was going to shoot—so it came down to who fired first—her or me? I shot first. The truth of the matter was she was a double agent, secretly working for the SVR. She was also the wife of Harland Platt, a co-CIA undercover operative and friend, working undercover with me in Moscow.
Back now to the desolate Kingman highway accident: I awoke, hanging upside down and injured, with my rental car wrapped around a telephone pole. I had no recall of what caused the accident to happen—no memory, either, of my identity. Total fucking amnesia. It didn’t take long for another vehicle to come along. But it was not fortuitous for me. It was an eighteen-wheeler and it, too, ended up as a giant heap of scrap metal splayed across the middle of the highway. It had crashed into another vehicle, one left stranded on the roadway; that, in turn, plowed into my already decimated rental car. That crash triggered the high-voltage wire, hanging down from the wooden pole above me, to plop down beside me—into what was left of my car. Thirty thousand volts of raw electricity radiated mere inches from my forehead for what seemed like hours. It should have killed me. Instead, it changed me … altered my physiology. I soon found that I was peeking into the minds of the EMT workers in the process of extricating me from the car, and I was also able to inject timely suggestions into their minds. There was something else, too: While I was sitting there, strapped upside down in my car seat, with the high-voltage telephone line swinging above my head, someone … or something … was talking to me. Something out there—within the power grid—had found me and wanted my help.
Help me, please help me …
I still don’t know who, or what, that voice was. What I do know is after that I needed to tap in to a high-power line’s juice within each twenty-four-hour period, or I would start experiencing what I’m experiencing now—fucking withdrawals and the loss of my ability to mind-read others.
The wind has increased in volume around me now and I’m using the tension of the noose around my neck to keep from being buffeted too far forward. As I’m swayed back and forth, nearly losing my footing, I wonder,
how much longer can I teeter here?
I need help. I steady myself and look off toward the distant foothills. How had things gone so awry?
I carefully turn my head to see someone standing behind me at the balcony doors. One of the less attractive saloon girls, dressed in a low-cut blue dress. She glanced at me then up at the dark clouds above.
shit, I’ve forgotten her name
. “A little help here, please? Promise you won’t get in any trouble—” but she’s already turned away, gone back inside.
“Steady there, Mr. Chandler. Winds come up a bit … huh?” Jude chided from the street below me.
“Hey … I want to speak to Palmolive!” I yelled into the wind, not sure he heard me.
“You had your chance, Doc, he’s leaving town any minute.”
I tried to turn my body to face toward the north end of the street, toward the corral, but couldn’t manage it and still maintain my precarious balance.
The wind was gusting now. I looked down and saw a man’s Stetson cartwheeling down the middle of the street. I slipped again and debated if I should attempt to kick off my boots—maybe things would be less slippery.
Who am I kidding?
Hell, just standing straight was nearly impossible. I retched up more dry heaves.
Again, my mind wandered. I thought of Pippa. Beautiful, amazing, Pippa. She had one rule:
Stay the hell out of my mind!
Like myself, she was a SIFTR agent. She was also my girlfriend. She’d been there, in Kingman; then later, in Germany, when things got hairy. We survived a mission to thwart a neo-Nazi organization called the WZZ—led by husband-wife team Leon and Heidi Goertz. Although they’d gotten away, their plans for dominating the world’s primary financial markets were thwarted.
I shouldn’t have chanced it … peered into her mind like that. Hell, it was only a glimpse. I’d previously kept the promise to stay out, unless expressly given permission. Honest. But the problem was … is … I’m used to looking into everyone’s head. It’s a habit. I don’t even know when I’m doing it, half the time. So when Pippa came home one evening, obviously upset about something, I peeked and she knew I’d done so almost immediately. She packed her things and was out the front door within twenty minutes, and that was the last time I heard from her.
The beam wobbled, and again, I almost lost my footing. This was getting old. I thought about the inevitable. Within the next few minutes, I was going to fall. There were no two ways about it. I would die hanging from a rope, on the site of an 1880s hotel and saloon. I supposed, eventually, my remains would make their way back to the agency. Who would claim the body? Would Pippa be the one tasked with identifying my bloated, blue-toned remains? Would that be the last memory she’d ever have of me?
Something hit my cheek. Carefully, I gazed upward. More cumulonimbus clouds converged… dark gray thunderheads. Several more drops splattered onto my face.
It’s starting to rain.
My eyes settled on the railing underneath my feet.
How slick will this banister become, once it gets wetter?
I didn’t think things could possibly get any worse for me, but they just had.
The sky lit up, as if a thousand flash bulbs had instantly gone off at once. Multiple lightning bolts branched out and filled the sky. Immediately, thunder—loud enough to loosen my fillings—jolted me upright and I pitched forward … too far forward. Flailing my arms wildly, I felt both boots slip out from under me.
Nine days prior …
The government … specifically the IRS … wants to get their hands on my house. I have an attorney currently making a career out of keeping them at bay. I live in a modern, forty-million-dollar glass and concrete, multiple cantilevered-platform home, built into the side of a cliff on the outskirts of Kingman, Arizona. It was once owned by Drako Cervenka, a notorious, internationally known criminal, whom I eventually killed. In a convoluted series of events, which involved playing against Drako in a life-or-death chess match, his stunning property became one of the spoils of victory. With it came enough money to keep things running smoothly, on a day-to-day basis, for many years ahead, and still pay the large staff a place this size obviously required. One of those people is Cassie. She runs everything here. Not so much like a butler—more like an overseer. She looks to be of a mixed Asian-Caucasian heritage and is meticulous in her appearance and movements. To be honest, I don’t know a hell of a lot about her. What I do know is she does not think about her past—she has an amazingly clear mind. I know that she is both organized and practical, and that she, thus far anyway, has been loyal. She is also a trained killer—skilled in both firearm usage and martial arts; abilities that would give most of my fellow SIFTR agents a run for their money. And that’s one of the things I like most about her—she is not a SIFTR agent, so there are no mixed loyalties to contend with.
“Shall I drive you, Mr. Chandler?”
“No, thank you. I’ll take the speedster,” I replied, referring to the silver 1957 Porsche 356 parked in the garage—another one of the spoils of victory.
I selected several suits from the master bedroom closet and placed them into a hanging garment bag. Cassie, dressed in a white business suit, stood at the foot of the bed. Behind her, fifteen-feet-high floor-to-ceiling windows overlooked the early morning desert landscape below. I finished packing, hefted my bags off the bed, and followed Cassie through the bedroom door. “Look, if … um … Pippa calls or comes back—”