Categories
2010 Psychological Suspense

A Patchwork Companion | A Work in Progress

{ 639 words so far }

Just before dusk the man took a break from his work in the basement. He was not hungry, or more specifically, he had no appetite. Instead he opted for a cold beverage from the refrigerator in the kitchen to quench his thirst. Only when he popped the cap off the bottle did he realize that today had been his thirty-first birthday. A lot had happened in his life the past few years; several notable, calamitous events had irrevocably changed his life. He wasn’t sure if he had even acknowledged the arrival and subsequent passing of his twenty-ninth or thirtieth birthdays. His work was that demanding of his attention; his focus was keener these past two years than it had ever been in his life. He’d been motivated by the potency of vengeance.

He was anxious to return to his work downstairs, but something stirred inside him—emotion—a sensation that had been alien to him for quite some time. As a sudden wave of nostalgia crashed over him, he found himself drawn up into the attic where he kept the many keepsakes of his special memories. The old wooden stairs creaked beneath his feet. The floorboards groaned as he walked toward the cedar chest near the small widow.  Seized by the eager dark of night, the attic remained in gloom because he did not turn on the ceiling light. He knew every item contained in this attic intimately, but he did not want to be overcome with emotion if he could see every picture, or every handwritten letter, or every piece of lovely jewelry. All would be seen vividly under the luminescence. He did not want that. Simply being in their presence or feeling them by hand would probably be enough to move him to tears.

A few years back he had been a great husband and an anxious soon-to-be new father of twins.  A boy and girl, the ultrasound had miraculously confirmed.  He always wondered if the twins would have been identical or fraternal. However, he was never meant to know them, at least not for as long and as intimately as a father should.

The doctors and nurses had other plans for him. He believed they had sinister plans for his wife, and downright nefarious plans for their unborn children. That was the only explanation that made sense. The only explanation he would accept. Of course the powers-that-were, hell, the entire medical staff and all the lawyers involved with the case, none of them support his claim, but why would they?

He simply would not budge from his understanding of how it all happened. Why else would the love of his life be allowed go into premature labor with two fetuses in frank breech? Why else would she be allowed to hemorrhage profusely until she lost enough blood to rob her body of a fighting chance? Something had gone wrong during the emergency Cesarean section operation. The twins were pulled from the womb, delivered by the hands of the ob-gyn surgeon, but his wife did not make it through. Soon after that the premature twins lost their fight, if they even had a fighter’s chance.

The reasons were inexplicable. The explanations given by the medical staff were a series of unproven theories and scientific gobbledygook. He didn’t buy any of it.

What he did do was solemnly swear that he would bring vengeance upon those responsible. The police, the lawyers, no one else would deliver justice. He had to use his own hands and means to bring justice, one impeachable person at a time.

But first he had more pressing work that demanded his attention. He descended back down to the basement where waiting for his intense focus and determination was a woman who, in her own specific way, bore a striking resemblance to his dead wife.

{ not fin }


Written: November 22, 2010.

Copyright © 2010-2016 by Brandon L. Rucker. All Rights Reserved.

Basement photo courtesy of Copyright The Basement film

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Categories
2010 Action/Adventure Sci-fi Suspense WIP

Project Zero-13 | A Work in Progress

{ 744 words began Jan 7, 2010 }

Stirred by the furtive movements of what was likely a rodent of some kind sniffing about in the foliage that surrounded him, the man awoke with a slight disorientation while lying under a bed of leaves, mud and twigs.  Vivid images of the dream he was having still lingered in his mind.  Like most dreams it was not an exact documentary of actual events, although inspired by them.  Instead it deviated from the script, as dreams often did.  A certain degree of surrealism had replaced realism.  Just before he was awakened, he had experienced the dream’s unscripted happy ending which was in direct contrast to the real life events he experienced prior to arriving to these woods to elude capture from his unknown pursuers.

The happy ending was that he actually knew more than just his first name; that he knew exactly why he wore the strange costume, that underneath it was not some man that no one knew, and that he had the ability to speak.  Yet the truth was something straight out of a comic book.  Other than his first name and general sentience, he did not know those answers.

The man sat up and surveyed the dark woods.  He noticed a pair of curious raccoons retreat away from him.

His mind was a blank slate and physically he just felt a certain kind of strangeness.  Lacking the ability to speak was certainly a concern.  Yet his natural senses were keen.  He somehow knew that he was still being hunted.

As he stood up and started brushing off the leaves and mud, an image flashed in his mind.  Could it be a memory, distant or recent, or was it just more dream residue?  He didn’t get much time to debate the matter because he heard a helicopter approaching fast.

He used his quick reflexes to spring into action.  He leaped into the trees, moving from one to the other with swift and canny movements.  His speed and strength were remarkable.  And so was his hearing because despite the distance he increased, he could hear his pursuers.

Blue Team Five to Mother One, we’ve regained visual on Project: Zero-13.

He dropped down from the trees when he reached a clearing.  He experienced a flash of images, a mental sequence.  It had to be a memory.  He saw himself in great distress as men in white lab coats prodded and probed him with unknown instruments that delivered pain.

Before continuing his escape he glanced back into the vast woods and despite their darkness, he could see his pursuers.  There were several of them, maybe seven on foot and their infrared tracking strobes pierced through the darkness in random angles.  When the helicopter arrived above him, he peered up at it and counted another three men inside it.  Infrared tracking strobes beamed at him from above.

With unimaginable reflexes he turned to make a hasty escape but despite his swiftness, his pause had given the recovery team too much of an advantage.  The next thing he knew he was covered in fiber netting that prevented any further progress no matter how much he struggled.  He felt a piercing pain as hypodermic darts were shot into him from behind.  Almost immediately he lost consciousness.

# # #

The man regained consciousness laying flat on his back upon a lab table, but he was severely disoriented and could not move.  But he could hear and smell just fine.  He smelled formaldehyde most of all.

Thank you for returning him to us relatively unharmed and intact, Lieutenant Colonel. Please extend my thanks to your men.  I don’t need to tell you how valuable Experiment Zero Thirteen is to us.  Or the powers-that-be on Capitol Hill.

Well, I’m not sure how you think dropping this—this super-hero in the middle of the Afghani desert is going to get the results they want.

That is why I am the scientist and you are, well, you. With all due respect, of course.  This hybrid will prove to be a formidable ally in our nation’s fight against terror, that elusive, faceless enemy which continues to threaten liberty the world over. The American people deserve to see their taxes payoff for something they actually support.

You sound more like a politician than a doctor.

Me, a politician?  Oh, heavens no, Lieutenant Colonel.  I’m far too intellectual to be a politician.  But believe me when I say that Project: Zero-13 will be a success.

{ not fin }


Written in January 2010

Copyright © 2010-2016 by Brandon L. Rucker. All Rights Reserved.

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Categories
1995 Crime Excerpt Suspense

Call of Duty: A Cop’s Tale | An Excerpt

{ 959-word excerpt }

Before he made any attempt at action, Officer Bernie Reed sat in his cruiser and waited for Officer Taylor Guerrero to arrive at the scene, which was procedure.  Unlike the police officers seen on most television cop shows, metro patrolmen and patrolwomen rode alone in their department cruisers, yet still partnered up on shared areas of a particular beat.  Also, unlike the cops in those television shows, real cops often do not run sirens blaring with their cherries and blueberries flashing en route to a scene.  The goal was to catch perpetrators, not send the scurrying for safe cover.

When Officer Guerrero arrived, she stepped out of her department sedan and met him midway to the sidewalk that led to the urban residence.  Bernie noticed that the morning sunlight had accentuated Guerrero’s half-Latin features—her long, wavy brown hair, caramel skin, and deep brown eyes

“As always, perfect timing,” she said.

“The art of convenience is a trait that’s inbred in criminals, didn’t you know?” Reed said with more sincerity than sarcasm.

Guerrero’s lips formed something that was almost the complete opposite of a smile.  She said, “This better be worth me being late.”

He knew she was anxious to get the shift over with so that she could see her young son before his aunt carted him off to kindergarten.  First Watch was a tough shift to work for a single mother.

Officers Reed and Guerrero approached the rundown house that had certainly seen better days like most of the other houses on their beat.  Just before they reached the porch they heard a scream from inside, followed by the crashing of something made of glass against a wall.   The two officers continued their approach to the door, but with caution now.  Once on the porch they heard what sounded like a typical domestic conflict with the proverbial screaming and name-calling; typical of domestic disputes.   However, when they heard what sounded like the thud of a body slamming into a wall, they knew they had a serious situation.

Reed checked the door knob.  By the way it turned he assumed it was unlocked.  He should probably knock, but as the apparent struggle inside seemed to intensify, he scrubbed that option from his mind.

One.  .  .

Two.  .  .

Three.  .  .

Reed flung the door open.  “Police!”

He and Guerrero entered the house, greeted by the repugnant sight of a man—if, indeed society would deem him worthy of such a term—crouched above a woman with his fists balled and bloody.  He was a shirtless, roguish looking subject with long, brown, unwashed hair, a scraggly beard, and various tattoos decorating his bare chest and arms.  Reed sized him up to be approximately thirty years of age, maybe six-two and two-hundred pounds.  The tattoos were quite large and colorful, highly detailed and flashy.  The guy was a walking mural.  The woman, his wife, or whatever she was to him besides his apparent punching bag, lay on the living room floor just past the foyer, sobbing.  She bled from the nose and mouth from the apparent battering she had just taken from his ring-covered fists.  Her morning gown had been torn from the struggle, and bared one of her small, perky breasts.  The woman’s lengthy blonde hair had fanned around her head on the floor.  She looked like hell.  Self-conscious, she adjusted the robe to cover the exposed breast.

The shattering Reed and Guerrero had heard earlier looked to be the result of a ceramic lamp that somehow introduced itself to the living room wall.

The two officers stood in the small foyer, which connected to the living room. “Someone here call for us?” he inquired, though the answer was obvious.

Tattoo Guy—surprised to see the police in his home—rose anxiously from his victim and started to protest their intrusion.  “What the hell are you doing here?”

Guerrero said, “Just calm down, mister, and no one will get hurt.”

Reed heard Guerrero’s words fine, but he detected a hidden message in them.  Knowing a great deal about her background, he could only imagine how these domestic calls affected her.  He knew that as a young child Taylor Guerrero had been witness to her own mother being physically abused by her father, who had been an upstanding citizen on the outside world, and, most notably, a sober man, not the drunken stereotype that was expected to have routine volatile outbursts.  Bernie knew that on a basic human nature level, Guerrero was immediately put-off by Tattoo Guy and would have a major attitude toward him.

Neither officer had yet drawn their pistols, though Bernie had a feeling they would need to.   He was usually quite intuitive when it came to these situations.   It was like a latent talent of his to predict negative outcomes, though he was not a complete gloom-and-doom cynic.

The helpless woman sat up and very timidly scooted herself away from her abuser, toward the two police officers.

She yelled, “Get this bastard away from me!”  Her voice was hoarse and tears streamed down her reddened cheeks to mingle with the fast-clotting blood at the corner of her busted lips.

“Just be calm, ma’am” Reed advised.

“He’s a freak and he’s crazy!”

“Ma’am, please—”

“He’s just an ol’ meth head who puts his drugs before his family!”

Her husband, pointing at her, said, “You better shut your fuckin’ hole.”

“Enough!” Guerrero said.  She pointed at the woman, “You, calm down and stop yelling, and you…” she pointed at Tattoo Guy, “You just make sure you keep that stance and don’t go near her.”

Reed added, “We’d really rather not have to use any force, you understand?  So, please, just do what my partner suggested.”


Taken from a story originally written in 1995. The full story was previously featured in Local Heroes, a print anthology published in November 2011 by Static Movement, edited by Brandon L. Rucker. This sample is for electronic access and online archiving, and is intended for reading and reviewing purposes only – any other unauthorized use or dissemination is strictly prohibited.

This edition is copyright © 1995 – 2016 by Brandon L. Rucker. All Rights Reserved.

Cover provided by Jessy Marie Roberts and is copyright © 2011.

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