Now, an aside from blog hopping goodness–Deadlocked is here, and available on Smashwords and for the Kindle. Other platforms will be added, but that’s all in the hands of Smashwords.
As always, I’m posting a sample. Here is the prologue, and chapter 1!
Frank Leblanc watched in silence as his partner Haley walked to her house. He was a stone-faced man of about fifty years, slim and much taller than average. His light brown hair was flecked with grey, and deep frown lines ran through his face, while crow’s feet obscured his blue eyes. He seldom had reason to smile. The attack on Haley earlier that day had rattled him; the idea of being attacked by a friend in cold blood would disturb anyone; even on a good day. Since it was his birthday—his definition of a bad day—the assault had left him seething with anger. Haley was a good kid; she reminded him so much of his own daughter, Kelsey.
Kelsey. Several years had passed since she died, back in 2030. The doctors still didn’t know how to treat the rare genetic disease that had sent her down the path to a slow and painful death. He shook his head, forcing the memories from his mind. Kelsey was gone, and his wife had left him for another man: he was alone. Frank pulled away from the curb once he saw that Haley was safely inside. She was so like his Kelsey. They were both warmhearted and caring, empathetic to a fault. They were the polar opposite of him. He decided to deal with the problem the only way he knew how—work.
Frank was pissed off. Some jerk had taken his assigned parking spot. He didn’t recognize the car, so he parked his beat up sedan—the pride of 2027—in the first available guest parking spot. He had contemplated trading it in for a fully-electric model, but he had reservations about being dependent on the strained local power grid. He’d enjoyed gloating when the early-adopters had become stranded during the nuclear crisis years ago. Even now, the memories of their sheepish smiles and sputtering disbelief made him chuckle. He slammed the car door shut, and hardened his face into its usual stony countenance. As he walked to the station, he noticed how full the parking lot was.
He strode in the front door, and allowed the door to slam shut. The station was deserted—reading tablets were scattered across tables and abandoned cups of coffee grew cold. He’d returned with the hope of finding an available person that he could partner with in order to get back to work and forget about the whole incident. Of course he’d have to deal with the annoyance of working with somebody he wasn’t used to, but it was better than no work at all.
“There you are, you old bastard.” Frank turned towards the voice, which was quiet and raspy. The man that stood there was his supervisor, and he delighted in antagonizing Frank. Gerald was a squat little man with greasy thinning blond hair and he was growing a terrible attempt at a goatee. They had been partners years ago, but their mutual disdain was all that remained of their formerly good working relationship.
“You were expecting the tooth fairy, maybe?” Frank said.
“You took long enough, Leblanc. I don’t remember you driving me home anytime I got hurt.” The bitterness seeped through Gerald’s voice. An on-the-job accident had relegated Gerald to clerical duties three years ago, and he remained resentful to this day.
“I didn’t want you in my car!” Frank spat out.
“Maybe if you bothered to get a girlfriend, you could have your own daughter to taxi around. Or, is there something else you want out of her?” Gerald said, smirking during the insinuation.
“Leave the kid out of this, Gerald. I assume you want to talk about work?” Frank said, hoping he wouldn’t need to work with the man ever again. He ignored the suggestive goading, but a part of him wanted to send Gerald thumping down a flight of stairs.
“Yeah. I need you to work the retirement homes. Everybody else needed to be sent out on emergency calls.”
“Do I get a partner?”
“Did you hear what I just said? We have nobody else; you’re on your own. I’ll send you the list, and we’re pulling out some old ambulances from storage. Take one when they arrive.” Gerald turned then and marched out of the room. Frank glared at the light reflecting off the shiny bald spot on the back of the man’s head as he left.
Frank sighed as he took a seat with a view of the glass doors, so he could see when his ambulance would arrive. He didn’t look forward to being relegated to ferrying old people to their tests and medical appointments. His anger at Gerald stewed inside him. What a presumptuous little pig! Frank thought. He had never told Gerald about Kelsey. He wouldn’t have understood, even when they had been partners. Frank knew it was best to suffer alone. Working with Haley was a painful mixture of therapeutic and depressing. In a way, it was like having his little girl back. Like Haley, Kelsey had also befriended the homeless and taken care of local children. Kelsey had always wanted to be a doctor, while Haley was saving to put herself through nursing school. He suspected they would have been great friends, if Kelsey hadn’t… it was always so hard to finish that thought. He remembered how pale Kelsey had become, skin translucent over a body that could barely move, before her hair fell out. Frank’s eyes were brimming with tears, so he stood up and paced around the room.
He hoped Haley would come back to work soon.
If you like it, here are the links:
The grand prizes for both my Creepfest and Holiday Hop contests include a copy of Deadlocked, so get entering!