Category Archives: Book Excerpts

Sneak Peak-Excerpt from Virtual, coming soon

Welcome to another sneak peak from my upcoming novella, Virtual, to be released shortly on Amazon.

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“What happened to you?” Leslie asked.  She looked in his eyes, really looked, and realized, while bodily her husband stood in front of her, his eyes were as blank and uncomprehending as a zombie.  Someone else was controlling him like a puppet.

He jerked the flashlight out of her hand and she let him, too shocked to react.  He walked around behind her, brought his left arm around her waist in a parody of a romantic embrace, and pointed the gun at her right temple.  He’s going to kill me, she thought.  This isn’t a game anymore.  She thought of her kids back in the real world, and realized the stranger in her husband’s body had not won yet.

She took a deep breath to calm herself as he cocked the trigger, and cupped both hands over his gun arm and dug in with her fingernails, pushing the arm away from her head.  Still holding on to the arm with the gun, she ducked under his other arm around her waist, twisted sideways, and landed a side kick into his midsection.  The kick made him double over, and she followed up with another kick to his head to bring him to his knees.  Somewhere in the process of twisting his arm he lost his grip on the gun and she kicked it as far as she could.

She scooped up her machete and flashlight and headed for the brush.  She had hurt him but not taken him out, so she barely made it ten yards to the shelter of a tree with large, five foot tall exposed roots before he was had his gun and was after her again.

He fired several rounds at her but she hid under the tree roots and he could not get a clear shot.  She hooked the flashlight and machete back onto her belt.  The shadows and the cover of the roots were of more use to her here, and she didn’t intend to go against a gun with a knife.  She managed to reach the far side of the tree but could not see Rex in the dim light.  She held her breath and tried to listen for him, but the soft ground and abundance of vegetation masked his footfalls.

She slowly leaned out from the tree roots to look for Rex, but before she could look around something hit her from above.  Not again, she thought as the pain brought her to her knees.  Sure enough, Rex materialized from somewhere above her and grabbed her arm, jerking her to her feet and out from under the shelter of the tree.  He stuck his gun in her back and forced her to walk into a small clearing.

By twisting her arm Rex forced Leslie to her knees and then brought the gun up to her head again.  Apparently he was taking no chances this time.  He walked around till he was facing her, keeping his free hand pressed down on her shoulder.  Leslie kept her head down and folded her hands, fingers intertwined; the model of defeat.

She waited until he cocked the gun again to strike.  She shoved with both hands against the arm holding the gun, pushing it out of her way.  Then she lunged forward and brought her intertwined hands up hard between his legs.  When he howled and dropped his gun she snatched it up in both hands and rapped it against his knees.  He went down, and she jumped to her feet, holding the unfamiliar weapon in both hands.  She trained the gun on him as she considered her possibilities.

Think, she ordered herself.  This person who looked like her husband was intent on killing her.  It wasn’t like a sword battle, one shot to the head and you were dead; game over.  She could take him out, but she was afraid her husband was still inside somewhere.  She could tie him up and go for help, but who and where?  She could take him with her, and try to figure out what happened to him, but since he wouldn’t even talk she was not going to get any help from him.

Sensing her hesitation, Rex brought his right arm up and curled his hand around the back of her knees, knocking her off balance.  She dropped the gun but managed to keep her feet.  She kicked him square on the chin before he could rise, and unable to see where the gun landed in the vegetation, took off running as fast as she could.

Leslie was afraid.  For the first time since she had begun playing this game, she was afraid of losing and afraid of the man who was currently trying to kill her.  Something terrible had gone wrong with the game or the programming, and with a sick feeling Leslie realized it was up to her to fix it.  First, though, she had to survive.

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Update-Exclusive Excerpt from Virtual

In lieu of a my regularly scheduled blog post this evening, I hope you enjoy this sample from my upcoming novel Virtual. 

Amanda approached the entrance to Virtual Technologies, heart racing, knees weak, thinking about what she was about to do.  She had waited three days, but still had not gotten a call or even a text from her husband.  She needed answers, and she needed them now.  She had a visitor’s pass card she could use to get into the building, but technically she was supposed to be escorted by Pete or another employee if she went anywhere but the lobby or the first floor restrooms, and it was nearly closing time.

She managed to keep her hand from shaking long enough to swipe her card and open the door when it buzzed. She then barely contained a sigh of relief when she saw the guard at the security desk.  She recognized Mr. Stub from past visits with Pete.  He was a short, balding man, with a wide, friendly face, who wore a uniform he’d been issued when he was at least one size smaller.

“Hello, Mrs. Connor.  You’re coming in a bit late, aren’t you?” he asked with a soft smile.

“Yes, Mr. Stub.  Pete forgot some paperwork and he asked me to pick it up for him on my way home.”

Amanda hated lying to the man, but she could hardly tell him she was planning to snoop around in hopes of uncovering what sort of emergency had required her husband’s unplanned and unexplained business trip.  He was a computer programmer, not a secret agent, and she was worried about him.  He’d been working so many extra hours lately, and now he’d apparently disappeared on his bosses’ orders, without even a phone call.

“I suppose it’s alright, between you and me,” Mr. Stub said with a wink.  “You know the way up don’t you?”

Amanda resisted the urge to confess, and reminded herself she was doing this for Pete.  “Oh yes, I’ll be fine.  Thank you.”

She crossed to the elevator bank, punched in the button for the third floor, and waited for a car.  When she made it into the elevator, she had to lean against the wall in order to resist sinking down to the floor.    Ok, he bought it, she thought as she took a deep breath, and then another.  Now I just have to get into Pete’s office without being seen.  This sort of thing is so much more fun with my virtual character.

The elevator chimed and she ducked into the corner, and then peered out into the hallway.  The coast was clear, so she half-ran, half-walked to the end of the hall and unlocked Pete’s office with the spare key she had borrowed from the peg on the kitchen wall at home.

She felt her hands shaking as she turned the knob of the office door.  Stop it, she ordered herself, it’s not like you haven’t been in here before.  She slipped the door open quietly, and tiptoed in.  She closed the door again, being careful not to make a sound.  She rounded the secretary’s desk, taking care not to disturb the piles of paper and knickknacks arranged in neat groups around its perimeter, and made her way into the inner office.

The lights were off in both offices, but Pete’s desk glowed thanks to the glare of a parking lot light beaming through the window.  As Amanda moved behind the desk she was surprised to see Pete’s computer was running.  Maybe he left a schedule up, she thought.

Leaning over, she hit the space bar to wake up the monitor, but instead of the expected planner, she was surprised to find a test version of Virtual World running.  A quick check of the status log showed Pete’s character, Rex Cade, was logged in and active.  He’s playing games!  He can’t call me because he’s on some secret assignment for the boss and he’s playing computer games.

Amanda didn’t take the time to calm down or think logically.  She sat down in his empty seat and placed his goggles which had been sitting on the side of the desk on her head.  She logged her character, Leslie Storm, into the game, with only one thought in mind.  She was going after her husband, and when she found him, he would regret worrying her so much she was starting to act like her game avatar.