Authors: John O'Riley
All Rights Reserved © 2013
No part of the book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
I want to thank all of my readers and fans for your encouragement. I also want to specifically mention Joy O’Riley, Dolores Peterson, Christa Fields-Howser, Tracey Koch, Lori Page, Shawn O’Riley, and Jennifer Ashlock.
Emily Winters paced back and forth in her small, barren living quarters which had served as her prison for twelve long years. Her plan for freedom was tenuous at best but finally, her opportunity would arrive and she had to seize it for there would never be another. As a level nine precognitive, she knew this was her only hope. She had been abducted as an adolescent with the ability to foresee the future with uncanny accuracy when discovered by an operative of the Psi-Tech research facility in Seattle. The extent of her powers had been ascertained through a battery of tests. The vast majority of psychics possessed only one strong talent but often one or two weaker abilities. Emily had been classified as a level five precognitive with no secondary abilities; however, she had intentionally failed their testing for telepathy. The researchers had been ecstatic to discover a naturally-occurring psychic with such a high rating. They had immediately forced her to undergo the psi-enhancement procedure which comprised of a combination of drugs and electrical stimulation to the brain. This technique only worked on a third of the population and no one knew ahead of time who it would help. After a painful recovery of several days, Emily was reclassified as a level nine precognitive which was the highest rating that researchers could currently measure.
At first, Emily refused to cooperate with her captors but after enduring days of torture, she’d capitulated with their instructions. For years, she made daily predictions that benefited the facility’s ability to generate profit through economic forecasting as well as strengthen its political power base. Several key government officials and a small, wealthy, influential group of individuals secretly reaped the rewards of work performed by both prisoners as well as employees of this organization. As the company’s most valuable tool, Emily had been instructed to foresee and report a variety of major events. As a result of her work, she knew a great deal about this corrupt and greedy organization. She couldn’t stand the thought of furthering their agenda and supporting their power base any longer. Not when an opportunity had finally arrived which would allow her to escape this place.
Emily’s body filled with nervous anticipation as she continued pacing the main room of her living quarters. It was furnished with a small desk and laptop computer to allow her to record any unexpected visions she may receive, a plush gray armchair, and a small bookcase brimming with a collection of popular novels. The white walls were devoid of any decoration while the floor was covered by green, commercial-grade carpeting. The spartan bedroom offered only a twin-sized bed with a small nightstand that sported a cheap, digital alarm clock. The entrance to the private bathroom was situated on one end of the main room. Of course, there were no windows in the living quarters which would have allowed for possible escape.
Her head spun toward the front door as the lock clicked loudly and an instant later, Steve emerged inside the room. Steve was a research manager and a level five psychometrist. He was tall with soulless brown eyes and had thinning, blond hair. He wore a gray dress shirt and black tie and brown pants. He gripped a taser in his right hand and nodded toward the open doorway as he stepped away from it so she could move past him. Emily had been expecting this unwelcome visit. She took a deep, fortifying breath and traversed down the hallway. Steve escorted her to the elevator and they rode in tense silence until they’d risen several floors. Emily’s anxiety mounted as they continued down another long corridor until finally reaching Sharon’s office. Sharon smiled chillingly from behind her massive, polished oak desk. She was the director of this facility and had taken a very personal interest in Emily as she had proven to be an invaluable asset to the company. Like Steve, she had started her work here with no psychic abilities whatsoever until she’d participated in the psi-enhancement procedure which had fashioned her into a level four intuitive. Psychometrists received impressions, information, and emotions that individuals unknowingly left behind on inanimate objects while intuitives could obtain information from some unknown source. The most common theory for intuitives was that they possessed a conglomerate of incomplete psychic abilities that gave them glimpses of information and insight from seemingly nowhere.
“Please, sit down,” Sharon said.
Emily knew better than to mistake this statement as a request rather than an order. She reluctantly sank into the black leather chair facing the director’s desk. Steve remained standing slightly behind Emily.
“You know why we’re having this little chat, I presume,” Sharon said evenly.
“Not exactly,” Emily fibbed.
Sharon slowly rose from her desk which revealed her short height and dumpy frame. She wore a crisp, green blouse and pleated, green pants. She stepped out and positioned herself directly in front of Emily, peering down at her with a threatening expression on her face.
“You’ve been hiding something from me.” Sharon’s chilling gaze bore into Emily’s.
“I’ve reported all my predictions and impressions to you.”
“You can’t lie to me,” Sharon said. “You’ve withheld vital information from me. Something that threatens the security of this facility.”
“That simply isn’t true.”
“I’ve been analyzing the predictions made by all the precognitives at Psi-Tech and I’ve seen a pattern of gaps of information that you report compared to what others have reported. For instance, it’s obvious that you’re protecting the identity of future telepaths. You know that they are a threat to us and that they must be eliminated so you conceal their identities from us,” Sharon said coolly. She paused for a moment to give Emily an opportunity to speak before continuing. “Fortunately, I believe we have virtually every individual who will become a telepath identified. I don’t know if you realize this but my security operatives have already begun neutralizing these threats.”
Telepaths were the greatest threat to Psi-Tech. As a group, the precognitives had foreseen the development of the ability for telepaths to create group psychic links that allowed for unimaginable increases in their secondary abilities. This revolutionary discovery would occur in approximately four years and cause a major power shift that Psi-Tech wouldn’t allow.
“You’re killing innocent people!” Emily’s gut twisted with a potent mixture of revulsion and horror. “You make me sick!”
“You don’t even know them. Why do you care what happens to them? I’ve provided a safe haven for you and everything that you need to live comfortably. Why do you try to undermine this company and all the good it does?”
“You kidnapped me and kept me a prisoner here for years! You expect me to be grateful?” Emily regarded the director with incredulous disbelief.
Sharon stilled and her eyes narrowed vengefully.
“You don’t understand what a pitiful life you would have suffered if I hadn’t intervened and enhanced your natural psychic ability. I know it’s difficult for you to believe but things are a lot better for you now. Unfortunately, time is running out and I need to know what you’ve been hiding. The cataclysmic event is going to be a great transformation but only if Psi-Tech can control the chaos that results from it. If we can’t maintain order, society will be plunged into anarchy. And it will be entirely your fault for failing to report what you’ve seen.”
“I’ve told you everything I know,” Emily said. Anxiety clawed at her gut and made her body icy with terror. She hoped that Sharon didn’t figure out her secret. Sharon had sent a number of psychometrists to sense impressions from various objects and furniture in her living quarters but they had failed to uncover anything useful.
“Today is the big day,” Sharon said. “The fragments of the comet passing through have already started to enter the Earth’s atmosphere. It’s only a matter of time before the electrical storms begin. Everything and everyone will be different. You can’t stop that.”
“I know I can’t stop it,” Emily said tonelessly.
“Then why aren’t you cooperating?” Sharon demanded. “I’m at my wit’s end with you! I’ve coddled you because you’re an important asset to Psi-Tech but if you refuse to cooperate, I’ll be forced to use extreme measures. I hate to see you suffer but I’m going to have to put a stop to all your meals until you comply. Furthermore, you’ll be handcuffed to your office chair with a security operative standing guard at all times. At night, you’ll be handcuffed to your bed. You know the drill.”
Emily swallowed as adrenaline rushed through her. She’d endured this scenario many times. They’d carefully monitored her condition and hadn’t allowed her to starve to death. When it came to a critical point, they’d fed her minimally then switched tactics.
“I can’t believe you’re doing this,” Emily said shakily. “I’ve done the best job possible for you.”
“It looks like you’re not going to cooperate with me,” Sharon said regretfully as she returned to her former position behind her desk. “I was hoping you would voluntarily help me. You have a good life and I hope that you will allow me to continue to support you in that. I need to know what you’re keeping from me. If you tell me now, we can avoid any unpleasantness. It’s your call.”
Emily swallowed nervously and waves of dread threatened to overwhelm her. She couldn’t endure any more torture. She’d already suffered long enough. Maybe she could tell Sharon something that wouldn’t hurt her chance to escape this dreadful place. Or maybe she could make up a complete fabrication; a false threat that would occupy Sharon’s mind long enough to leave Emily alone until she could make her move. Emily’s thoughts churned frantically for a solution to this dilemma.
“All right,” Emily said with a defeated slump of her shoulders and a weary sigh. “I’ll tell you.”
Sharon’s lips curved in a satisfied smile and she quickly brought out a tape recorder so she could save the entire discussion and have her assistant type it up later.
“You’ve made a wise decision,” she said. “You may begin whenever you’re ready.”
Sharon pressed the record button and waited expectantly. Emily took a deep breath as she mentally prepared her fictitious tale.
“There is a serious threat that will come about as a result of the new psychics who will be made in the aftermath of the electric storms. You remember reading about my reports on the multipaths?” Emily asked. The question was a delaying tactic to give herself valuable time to further enhance her story.
“Yes, I recall them. Multipaths are those psychics whose abilities inexplicably expand. They become level nines and they begin to exhibit more and more secondary abilities that are just as strong as their primary ability. All multipaths die within three weeks from the onset of their symptoms.”
Now it was time for a half-truth. Emily knew the secret to saving multipaths but only in theory. She’d seen how they were saved in the future but the technique wouldn’t be discovered for more than thirty years.
“What I failed to mention is that a quarter of the multipaths that are created from the aftermath of the electric storms will somehow learn to control and stabilize their abilities which will allow them to live. With their precognitive abilities, they will quickly realize telepaths are in danger and move to get as many to safety as possible. They will go into hiding,” Emily said.
Sharon stiffened and her brown eyes blazed with fury.
“This is a terrible betrayal! I can’t believe you hid this from me! None of the precognitives reported that any multipaths would survive so we never bothered to identify them for elimination! This is a serious threat!” She sputtered as she reached out and snapped the recorder off. “Go back to your quarters at once and begin working to identify the multipaths!”
“Okay,” Emily said meekly.
She headed for the door as Steve opened it for her.
“One more thing,” Sharon said in a chilling tone. “If you ever hide anything like this from me again, you will be severely punished!”
Emily didn’t bother responding to this threat. She knew for a fact that she wouldn’t reside in this facility for much longer. Sharon would order her execution soon or she’d escape. There were no alternate outcomes. Steve’s brooding presence further exacerbated Emily’s fears of discovery. Steve Drake was the only research manager who ran these types of errands for Sharon. If it wasn’t him who summoned Emily for a visit with Sharon, it would always be a security operative rather than a research manager. Emily knew the two of them were having an affair. Other psychics had discovered this information as well but all of them were prisoners rather than employees so they kept quiet about their discovery. Steve had grown aloof and distant with his wife over the years and had seen Sharon’s interest in him as a great opportunity for power. And it had furthered his career just as he’d anticipated. Sharon had promoted him from a tech assistant to a research manager in spite of his lack of any supervisory experience or skill. His performance remained lackluster since he was just as incompetent in his current position as his former one but she was the boss so that didn’t matter.
“You were wise to cooperate,” Steve said as they approached her room.
He opened the door for her and she stepped inside her living quarters. Steve quickly closed and locked the door behind her. Emily’s eyes roved over her prison then rested on the laptop computer situated on the cheap desk shoved in the corner. She took several, deep calming breaths then purposefully shoved all thoughts of her plans for escape out of her mind. It was essential that she controlled her thoughts and emotions when touching any object in order to avoid leaving any psychic residue that would betray her hopes for freedom. Emily took plenty of time centering herself and plunging her mind into a deep meditative state. Once she was certain she had gained complete control of her thoughts, she sank into her desk and prepared to record psychic impressions of the future. She hated to give the names of those individuals who would become multipaths; however, she’d spoken the truth. They would all die within three weeks once the onset of symptoms had begun. Even her older brother, Jeremy Winters, who believed her to be dead. But he was one name that Emily wouldn’t give and she carefully avoided thinking about him whatsoever as she typed in a name of one person who came to her.