Read an Excerpt
SECLUSION POINTA NOVEL
By JERRY B. JENKINS JOHN PERRODIN
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2007 Jerry Jenkins
All right reserved.
Chapter OneCheryl McCry was back in black.
A few months earlier her boss, Frazier, had hired a brain-dead consultant. Someone who'd decided McCry needed a makeover demanded McCry become a softer, gentler head enforcer for the World Peace Alliance. Despite her objections, McCry was forced to wear bright jungle greens and a new hairstyle.
She'd hated every minute of it. Hated tripping over high heels and cracking off painted nails. Her world was guns and explosive devices, not spin doctors selling baloney. But Frazier refused to hear her complaints and diligently tried to remake McCry in her own slick image. It never quite worked.
But Frazier had kept at it until the day she died.
McCry dipped her head as she plodded past the open casket. Poor Frazier. Still quite an eyeful, especially wearing full makeup, her hair done up in a silver tiara. A beautiful woman, her boss. Now she was a gorgeous corpse.
As McCry made her way to a seat in the back, a thought tickled her: no one had discovered the cause of death. Strange, really, especially since McCry herself had headed up the investigation. She smirked. Maybe she knew something about it, maybe she didn't. All that mattered was that she had used the opportunity to snatch more power within the WPA organization. With Frazier out of the way, McCry could get back to business. Do things the way she wanted.
After Demon's Bluff, she had scores to settle. Patrick Johnson would not be allowed to humiliate her and remain free. He had to be caught and punished. Summer was done and school was about to start. Patch's friends would be ready to hit the books, trying desperately to blend in.
The Tattooed Rats, a loosely strung group of Christ-Kids and adults, had caused her no end of problems. Time for her to fumigate that nest of believers.
The man at the podium, the chief officer of the WPA, eulogized Frazier's life. Telling lies about her gentle manner, her winning ways. Truth was, everyone had hated the woman. She only got her way because of her looks, which was something McCry had never thought fair.
Oh well. Now Frazier rested in a standard-issue casket.
Funerals never depressed McCry; she thought of the positives. More air, food, and water for her. And one less creep to contend with.
The boring speaker turned the podium over to another. This could take all morning. McCry popped open her electronic notebook and starting jotting notes.
Increase reward program. Encourage more betrayals. Double the credits for a Christian. Turn in one, get double the store voucher. Turn in two and get triple.
Inspirational. She silently thanked her former boss for this time of reflection.
Patch missed the Tat Rats. How was a guy supposed to survive without a gang to hang around with? Maybe he should've taken Jarrod up on his offer. This going-it-alone thing was tough.
He took the opportunity for one last call to his mentor.
When he heard the voice, Patch smiled. Gary was Patch's friend, a guy he trusted. He was the one who had found him safe places in the past. "Can I come back?" That's what Patch wanted. To stop running and get back in with the Tattooed Rats.
"No. Would like you to, but it's not possible now." Gary sounded firm.
"So what's in store for me?" Patch tried not to let Gary hear his annoyance.
"You might not like the name, but Sticklerville, Kansas, is the perfect hideout," Gary said. "No WPA presence to speak of. Lots of Christians, low key. Should be safe for you."
Patch wanted to know what safe meant. Certainly not the same as free. Probably meant hiding underground, running from house to house. He hadn't enjoyed anything like a family life until he lived with Jarrod in Demon's Bluff. The guy was like a brother; his parents cared about him almost as much as his own did.
Had. May Mom and Dad rest in peace.
"I trust you." That was all he could think to say. He didn't want to do this, but he had no choice. He assumed Gary had good reasons for directing him to Sticklerville.
"Got a great family set up for you. Believe it or not, there's actually a list of folks trying to serve as foster parents. You're kind of a celebrity."
Patch heard the TV blaring in the background. It was one of the ways the Tat Rats kept informed. Watching the screen, finding out where the hot zones were and steering clear.
"I'm ready." Patch wasn't, but he was trying to get himself psyched. "You sure they're okay?"
"We ran the computer check twice. Came up clean. They're minor stars. They sing at underground worship concerts. Years ago they were huge on the singing circuit. Might even have heard of them: Mama and Papa Stone."
Heard of them? His parents had been raving groupies once upon a time. They loved the old-time sound, backed up with lots of handcrafted instruments. Not Patch's taste, but he didn't mind hearing them as background music.
"Give me the details."
Gary talked fast as Patch took notes. On to a new adventure. He was sure things would go fine. After all, he trusted his Tat Rat brothers and sisters.
After the call to Gary and farewells to Jarrod and his parents, Patch started walking. At the edge of town he passed a telephone pole. A tattered paper hung there, and he yanked it off. Rusted staples still stuck to the edge. His thin face stared back at him. He was plastered all over thousands of the cheap Wanted posters.
The next town wasn't far, but someone-anyone-could turn him in before he got there. All they had to do was contact the World Peace Alliance to claim the reward. Patch knew Cheryl McCry waited for the call that would lead her to him.
Patch stared at his image on the poster, framed in black. Would anyone recognize him? Over the summer he'd gotten thinner, taller. His hair was longer and he'd let a first-fuzz goatee grow. Didn't provide much coverage, but any disguise was better than none.
He sighed. He was lonely. Even though he knew it was right, he was sad Jarrod was staying behind in Demon's Bluff. His friend had jammed Patch's backpack with some extra hidden cash. Nearly fifty dollars. Patch pictured his brother in Christ cleaning out his closet to find this much. If Patch had known, he might have snagged a bus ride. Course, then the money would be gone already.
Jarrod had also snuck in a pay-as-you-go cell phone. What a gift, especially since it was already loaded with several hundred minutes of talk time.
When he'd found the stash, he'd wanted to go back and thank Jarrod, but one glimpse of him and Patch would've found it even tougher to leave. He and his parents had offered Patch a home, a family. But he couldn't put them in such danger.
Patch would take a train when he got to the next town. After he'd talked with Gary, he and Jarrod had scoped out a route. North from central Nevada to the next state, and then to the place called Sticklerville, Kansas. Soon as he arrived, he'd have to start blending in. Get involved in school, keep a low profile. That was his life now that McCry had him in her sights.
And there were the demons, too. Trevor might have disappeared, but his demons-in-training, Barry and Hope, still knew Patch's name. And he figured they wouldn't give up on finding him any more than McCry would.
He was desperate to become invisible. Fast.
Kansas okay with you, God?
As he walked along the shoulder of the road, Patch cracked open his journal. He halted a moment to read: Where to now, God? I want your path. You smashed the teeth of demons and saved me. So where to next?
He jammed the book in the backpack and prayed, clearing his mind of worries and clinging to some promises. The road was long. Heat bounced back from the blacktop.
A car slowed and a man leaned out the window, asking Patch if he wanted a ride. Patch kept his head down and declined. He'd learned it was better to keep to himself, even if his feet were sore.
The man tipped his baseball cap and drove on. Patch watched until the vehicle slowly shrunk to the size of a red toy and disappeared, then trudged toward the setting sun. He'd reach the next town in time to grab a bite and check the train schedule.
A quiet life hidden under a Kansas rainbow. That would work.
Excerpted from SECLUSION POINT by JERRY B. JENKINS JOHN PERRODIN Copyright © 2007 by Jerry Jenkins. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.