"An imaginative thriller."-Publishers Weekly *****
Music can be many things, but when it is used a medium to spread a deadly virus that transports listeners to a deadly world of dreams, it threatens the future of humanity itself.***

But not everyone is susceptible to the deadly virus and there is a group of 'stalkers' who are immune to its effects. ***

Francis Lanier is a stalker who can walk through the deadly dream worlds of others. He ...

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"An imaginative thriller."-Publishers Weekly *****
Music can be many things, but when it is used a medium to spread a deadly virus that transports listeners to a deadly world of dreams, it threatens the future of humanity itself.***

But not everyone is susceptible to the deadly virus and there is a group of 'stalkers' who are immune to its effects. ***

Francis Lanier is a stalker who can walk through the deadly dream worlds of others. He spends his time rescuing others from their dreams and races to find a final cure for this deadly infection.

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Editorial Reviews

The Reference Library
Publishers Weekly
An imaginative thriller.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781604504736
  • Publisher: Arc Manor
  • Publication date: 6/15/2010
  • Pages: 204
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.47 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Cook

Paul Cook is a radio and television broadcaster who has twice won the award for St. Louis’s Best Music Format Personality. He appears on CBS affiliate KMOV's News 4 This Morning and hosts a drive-time radio, news, and entertainment show on CBS radio Y98fm. He works closely with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse to raise awareness and financial support of the organization. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

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Read an Excerpt



It was all a question of acceptance.

As his patient burro cleared the rise of the sparsely wooded hill, the old Chinaman realized that sooner or later the veil that blocked his memory would lift and everything would be explained. Everything. Until then, all he could do was accept his situation, like accepting the lazy breeze that accompanied him on his journey across the taiga, or those beautiful yellow-black finches that darted between the gnarled evergreen pines.

The old man shivered just as his burro reached the top of the dirt road that breached the hill. But his shivering had nothing to do with the growing coolness of the afternoon as the day waned toward dusk.

He was ill, and he knew it. The disease his body harbored, he realized, was slowly dying out, like a beast in its final death-throes, weakly striking out with only a hint of its former desperate energy. But what it was he suffered from, he didn't exactly know. Blood rushed into his brain, his vision momentarily blurred. A chill had settled about his shoulders like a cloak. His nerves suddenly jolted with the machinegun-fire of tiny spurts of uncontrollable electricity, and the muscles along his spine, and on up to his frail shoulders, jumped and shuddered.

Then came the voices, and the music.

How long this had been going on, he really didn't know. But the music seemed to be with him always. And returning to full consciousness from the grip of this partial amnesia of his was like a fog slowly lifting from the countryside. Only a few details at a time came into focus, and still many of those details remained very much in doubt.

Thedisease not only affected his body, but seemed to reach very deep into his preconscious mind as well. And just what the voices were that queued in as the music faded, he had absolutely no idea: a million yammering voices, in all the known languages, and some unknown. He felt weak, often nauseated. But as he rode upon the sturdy back of his burro from town to town, he tried to search for an answer to a greater curiosity than his own personal illness.

For weeks now, there had been no people in the villages he passed. The provinces were no longer crowded, teeming. The roads were completely empty, and the woods were filled with only the voices of birds and cries of an occasional beast.

China was empty of people.

And this notion led him to believe that he was insane. Especially when the voices badgered him from within, and the peaceful silences of the Shensi forests battered him from without, for he knew that this was simply not the way things were meant to be.

But rather than ask the one thousand questions that his mind demanded, he merely accepted the situation for the time being. He trundled along the deserted roads and highways, hoping for an end to his search.

He shivered again as the music lurked in the darkest recesses of his mind. It was like the wind through silk curtains. Even without thinking -- merely feeling the pulses of energy in his tired body -- he knew that something was wrong about all of this. Frightfully wrong.

It seemed so strange that the sky over the industrial regions did not sag with chemical waste, that the air did not burn his lungs. It was equally strange to him that the streams he passed ran ferocious and free. There were even no dams for the furlongs of rice paddies; no dam for the megawatts needed to run an ever-vigilant Republic. Moreover, there were no high-tension wires strung up like cat's-cradles across the provinces. The highways were empty of the common flatbed trucks loaded with industrial equipment, or the tractors lumbering like insects off to harvest. There were no steam-or propane-powered automobiles filling the countryside with the interrupted energy of a growing nation. So much was missing.

The old man coughed, and the burro halted, feeling its rider shake in the seizure of his mysterious ailment.

To calm his mind, the old Chinaman closed his eyes and recalled his Buddhist mantra. His nostrils flared as he drew in the refreshing, bitter air. Soon, perhaps tonight, it would snow. And the snow would fall clean and white, and it would cover the province for hundreds of kilometers and the old man knew that no human foot would trample it. In a land of over three billion inhabitants, there were simply no longer any inhabitants. No one.

Slowly, he breathed.

Somehow, intuitively, he knew that as he inhaled a breath of clean air, that his mantra, and his pranayam, his breathing, were the key to all of this. He didn't quite know why. But the concentration on the breathing and his mantra -- complex and long in its derivative Mandarin -- drew out the voices, and then quieted them. And soon, when he was relaxed enough, the music would vanish as well, and everything would be all right. For a while.

But for the moment he let it all pass from his mind. All the questions, in the end, had their answers. Several kilometers down the road from the hillside, he could see a modest, thatched hut that would be his way station for the night. It stood alone in a gentle clearing. The thought of a warm meal and a place to pass the long night pushed everything aside.

And tonight it would snow. That was something he could easily accept, given the circumstances.

Copyright © 1981 by Paul H. Cook

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