Read an Excerpt
Bayou Foncé, Louisiana, 2010
“My name is Rachel Ackart,” she whispered, rocking on the edge of her bed, furtively peering into the corners of her cell to make sure no one was there to eavesdrop.
But, as always, the corners were empty of anything human. She was alone, as she had been for most of the last year—eleven months, two weeks, four days,
to be exact, if she could trust the scratches she’d made on the wall, one for each day she’d been incarcerated.
Not that military personnel didn’t spy on her via the camera installed high in one corner of the room. Why they needed to watch her 24/7 she didn’t know. They already monitored her vital signs and brain waves through implanted chips. Medical personnel were in and out multiple times a day to inject her with meds or take her blood. She even had a daily visit from a so-called psychiatrist.
“Rachel Ackart . . . My name is Rachel Ackart. . . .”
She kept saying her name over and over so she would remember it. They’d pumped her up with so many damn drugs that she could hardly see straight.
Let alone think.
Let alone remember.
She gazed at her reflection in the piece of medical equipment that picked up her vitals and transmitted them to some unknown lab. Her blond hair appeared dull . . . her blue eyes unnaturally pale. . . . And weren’t those tiny lines she saw forming in her heretofore flawless skin?
Heat flooded her, and she shoved the equipment away so hard that it bounced off the wall.
She’d gotten by all these years on accomplishments she’d been allowed because of her youthful beauty,
and now, despite all she’d done to keep her looks,
they were fading and the memories of her triumphs were disjointed and incomplete.
Forget using her powers. . . .
Rachel sprang off her bed and began pacing the perimeter of her cell. Undoubtedly her vital signs were bordering on explosive, alarming someone somewhere.
They could descend on her at any moment and do whatever they wanted to her.
For her own good, of course.
She deserved better than this. After all she’d done for her country, for the military, for the government cabal running the Black Ops scientific experiments meant to strengthen the armed forces, she deserved to be treated with the respect she’d earned. She’d given up her life in service to that science, and look how she’d been rewarded.
Betrayed by her own blood. Locked in an eight-byten cell. No windows. No mirrors. No fresh air.
She clawed at her throat and gasped. If she didn’t get some air, she was going to suffocate. . . .
They even buried their dead aboveground in this part of Louisiana, but not their scientific rejects.
Where there was a will there was a way, and the military always found it. She was sequestered in an underground labyrinth that should have been impossible to build on land that was below sea level. Only the army had managed it somehow, and if the brass had their way, she would never breathe that fresh air, never see daylight again.
Escape was the only solution. Her thoughts whirled. Escape and then revenge.
Realizing her head was actually clearer than it had been in a long while, Rachel thought she must have built up some immunity to the drugs. A little gene splicing had turned her mind into a powerful weapon,
the reason they’d been pumping chemicals into her.
They wanted to control her. To further use her as a guinea pig. Her pulse threaded unevenly as she realized she had an opportunity to test her mental boundaries,
maybe find some way of getting out of this damn hole.
She closed her eyes and allowed her mind to touch every inch of the room. But after several minutes of searching, she found nothing she would consider a real weakness.
Concentrating, she cast her net wider. She might not be able to leave the room physically, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t use her mind to search for a way out. If she found someone susceptible to suggestion,
perhaps she could convince the person to open her door. Using frequencies the damn lab machines couldn’t detect, she sent tentacles of mental energy in concentric circles that swept through the underground complex and beyond.
Suddenly, a male voice saying “Rachel, I can help you . . .” made her jam her back to the wall.
She looked around wildly, but, as always, she was alone in the room. The voice had filled her head before,
but why now? Why when the drugs were wearing off?
Because she really was insane as they claimed?
She rushed to the door, to the small opening, to see who might be playing tricks on her. But the hallway outside her cell was empty.
The doctors said she’d had a breakdown and needed help. That was how they’d talked her into this damn cell in the first place. A temporary setback,
they’d assured her. Now this. A bolt of terror rushed through her as she considered she might be losing what she had left of her mind.
Hot anger replaced fear. Rachel began searching her cell. The voice wasn’t coming through the speaker next to the camera overhead, but that didn’t mean there weren’t others hidden in the room.
First she tore the medical equipment away from the wall. Then the small dresser. Then her bed. Nothing.
She ripped away the mattress and threw it in a corner,
then searched the bed frame, and when she still found nothing, picked up the thing as if it weighed no more than a child’s toy and threw it against a wall.
“Where is the damn speaker?” she yelled, backing into a corner.
“If you close your eyes and concentrate, Rachel,
you can find me.”
Who the hell was screwing with her? The voice sounded familiar . . . someone she knew once long ago.
Almost against her will, she closed her eyes. A brilliant flash and a thunderous noise like the blast of an explosion filled her mind. She caught the sound of aircraft overhead . . . then the wail of a siren. . . .
Heart thumping, she opened her eyes, pushing away the splinters of memory that she recognized as
World War II. Time and drugs had suppressed the past for so long, so how was she remembering now?
What was this horrible dark sensation spreading through her, paralyzing her?
“I know all about you, Rachel. And you know me.
All you have to do is open your mind. . . .”
The voice plunged her to new depths, to a place that made her stomach knot and the breath catch hot in her throat. Having faced evil many times in nine decades, she recognized the depths of darkness the voice promised. She was drowning in it.
With a gasp, Rachel fought back, more determined than ever to escape.
Needing to get out of there and now, she opened her mind again, though not in the way the voice had suggested. Without moving from her corner, she mentally felt her way around the room once more to the most vulnerable spot—the door, of course—and focused her mental energy on that. The rest of the room disappeared until the only thing she could see was the door itself, then only the hardware. The energy built in her mind until the metal lever began to vibrate.
And then she let loose what she’d heard BB, the head scientist, call a psychic blast. The door vibrated so hard that it shook in its frame.
Still, it didn’t open.
“If you ever want to get out of there, you need my help,” came the voice, as if to taunt her.
Terror warring with her need to be free, Rachel got to her feet again and paced the small space like a caged animal, one ready to attack.
There had to be a way to get out of this damn place. She would do anything to breathe fresh air again. Anything to walk unfettered. To regain her power. To get revenge.
There had to be a way.
There was, of course. Darkness beckoned. She recognized it. Sensed how dangerous it could be. To her.
Others had betrayed her. Others had kept her locked up like an animal, had taken her mind away from her for months. What did she owe anyone but herself?
Rachel thought how she had given everything and everything had been taken from her in return. She had been betrayed. No matter the cost, it was time to think of herself. She could survive any evil.
All she had to do was hurl herself into the darkness of the voice to find the way out. . . .