On the other side of town summer school was in session and the students taking Psychology 101 were thrilled they would soon be learning the dynamics of hypnosis. For some lucky students class would be fun. For others it would be deadly.
A 10 year-old boy and an enigmatic professor, two different people with one common thread, take you on a journey of murder, lies, and mind-bending suspense that will leave you wondering just how safe your mind is when someone wants to take it.
Full of unexpected twists and turns, Beyond 101 will introduce you to the fragmented mind of a diabolical killer you'll never forget.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.73(d)|
About the Author
In addition to being an award winning copywriter for 40 years, Allen has written more than 100 songs, 20 children's books, and a movie for 20th Century Fox. Beyond 101 is his first book. Get ready for his second book, STALK: An Unforgettable Journey into a 100 Year Old Nightmare.
Read an Excerpt
By ALLEN RUBENS
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2013 Allen Rubens
All rights reserved.
He didn't step back. Not an inch. He knew today would come. It took a while but it finally got here.
His chance had always been as good as anyone's to get a shot at being a difference maker. That special buzz was out there, the one that right then and there had the power to put every inch of his body on alert. He knew it. Everyone knew it. He just hadn't felt it yet.
News flash, he was feeling it now. This was the defining moment in the life of Charlie Taggs. No doubt about it.
Their eyes locked. Long and hard they locked. They stayed that way for what must have been an eternity. It wasn't so much the two of them were staring at each other. It was more a realization that unshakeable focus was meeting incredible desire. They both had a job to do. It was no more than that. And they both were going to do it. It was no more than that, either.
Charlie looked down at the third baseman and clockwise checked out the positioning of every player on the infield. The outfield didn't matter. Two reasons why. One, Charlie was the smallest player in Little League and had yet to hit a fly ball the shortstop couldn't get, and two, the situation was not one that required any major bat on ball contact whatsoever.
Tie score, bottom of the seventh, two outs. The winning run was on third and the pitcher was the biggest sixth grader on the planet. Charlie could no more get around on his fastball than he could jump up and kiss the sky. Oddly enough that was fine with him. The way he saw it, it was strength against strength, fastball against legs. Charlie could fly. He loved to tell people he could outrun the wind. His legs were his life and he intended to use them now.
The only play coach could possibly call was a bunt. Taking into account the players, a bunt was the easiest way to bring home the guy on third before the last out of the inning was made. A fly ball wouldn't do it. A strike out wouldn't do it. Charlie was going to squeeze him home. It was a no brainer.
As Charlie approached the batter's box he gave a courtesy glance to the third base coach as he started to run through his signs. The bunt sign was a sequential touching of knee, belt, and hat. Once the sign was sent and the pitcher started his windup, the guy on third would start inching towards the plate. The rest was up to Charlie. All he had to do was turn towards the pitcher, get in position, and lay down the bunt. His legs would do the rest. The speed of the pitch didn't matter. The contact did.
The coach got in rhythm and gave him the sign. There it was, knee, belt ... shoulder. Wait a minute! Shoulder? Charlie couldn't believe what he was seeing. There had to be a mistake. Touching the shoulder dictated a whole different scenario. He stepped out of the box and kicked whatever dirt there was off his spikes. He eyed the coach again to give him another chance to get it right. He wanted knee, belt ... hat. Again he got knee, belt ... shoulder. There was no mistake. He wasn't bunting. He was swinging away. Charlie was barely four feet and a few inches tall and the pitcher's hand was as big as his foot. This wasn't going to be fun. But it was going to be Charlie. He was made for times like this.
Charlie took his time adjusting his batting glove and shifting his spikes to just the right spot off the plate. When he was ready to go he spit at the catcher's feet and raised his bat slightly above his shoulder. That was exactly where it stayed as the first pitch whizzed right past him. It was freaky fast. Charlie couldn't tell how fast it was by looking at it because he couldn't see it. He heard it whistle past his ear as it popped into the catcher's mitt. Fast or not, it was too high. The umpire called it a ball.
Charlie wasn't spending a ridiculous amount of time thinking what it would feel like if the pitch hit him, but it did enter his mind. The catcher was laughing and the pitcher had a smirk on his face. Charlie looked around at the crowd to see if they were laughing, too. Fifty or so people were there, his mom and dad among them. They weren't laughing. His mom looked like she had just seen a ghost and as for his dad, he was shaking his head and rubbing his eyes. Obviously his dad had been brushed back, too. Charlie looked all over for Oliver. He wasn't there.
Oliver was his older brother. By nine years he was older. Soon he'd be 20. They hadn't seen each other for two years. He was studying some special stuff in Switzerland. Charlie wasn't exactly sure what it was but his mom and dad told him it was important. He missed Oliver a lot and held out hope he'd surprise him and one day show up. Today wasn't going to be the day. There had been a lot of todays that weren't the day.
Enough about Oliver. He might not be here but the pitcher was. And right now the pitcher meant business. The laughing stopped. The pitcher looked in for the sign. He wound up and threw another fastball, this one at Charlie's head. He fell. The bat flew. The count went to 2 and 0. Could it be the guy was going to walk him? If he did and walked the next guy the bases would be loaded and set up an out at any base. No way that was going to happen. This was Charlie's game to win. He got back in the batter's box. He looked at the catcher. He stared at the pitcher. "Get ready, cupcake," the catcher said as the pitcher began his wind up.
"Bring it on, asshole," Charlie said.
The pitch came in right over the plate. Charlie closed his eyes and swung as hard as he could and damn if he didn't make contact and send that ball sailing not only over the shortstop's head, but also over the left fielder's outstretched arms. The ball hit the base of the wall and drove in the winning run. The game was over. All Charlie had to do was walk across the diamond and get mauled as a hero by his teammates. But that wasn't enough for Charlie. He saw the outfielder run down the ball and fire it back to the infield. If he wasn't mistaken, that was a challenge. So he let go a laugh of his own and rounded second and took off for third. The shortstop picked up the ball in short left field and looked at Charlie while Charlie looked at him. With a nod coming from each of them Charlie streaked for the plate and the shortstop reached back and fired home. It was a good throw, just not good enough. Charlie crossed the plate standing before the ball hit the pitcher's mound and rolled feebly off the field. Yes, he won the game before he crossed home plate, but it wasn't until he crossed it that he won the game that mattered. His teammates grabbed him and held him high. He felt at least five feet tall.
"I thought you said he'd never hit a ball over an outfielder's head?"
"You were wrong, huh?"
"I also asked you to marry me. If two wrongs make a right I'm doing just fine."
"He's going to want it, you know."
"But he can't get it."
"I already got it."
Mark and Jan were walking from the stands to third base where Charlie was being pummeled by his teammates and hailed as superman. They were his parents, his very proud parents.
"Please don't tell me you already started your Christmas shopping," Mark said.
"I'm almost done."
"Today's the seventh of June, Jan. Tomorrow's the eighth. Do you think maybe you're starting a little early this year?"
"Well he wanted that stupid bank so bad I couldn't take a chance somebody might buy it before I did."
"Have you picked it up yet?"
"No, I was going to do that later today. Mr. Potterfield probably already wrapped it up and took it off the floor, though."
"Why don't you call him and tell him to unwrap it, put it back on the floor, and act surprised when we get there. We have to let Charlie see it and get it on his own. I promised him he could get anything he wanted if he hit the ball out of the park."
"It didn't leave the park, Mark"
Jan called the antique store and told Mr. Potterfield what was going on. Everything was fine. A few months ago Charlie had seen an old cast iron baseball bank in the back of the store and fell in love with it. It basically was a penny bank where you put the penny on the foot of a ball player, touch his cap, and he slides ten inches to home plate where the penny is deposited on the bag and falls down into the bank. Slightly primitive, yes, totally Charlie, absolutely.
"Mom, dad, did you see it?"
Charlie had broken loose from the team and ran over to Mark and Jan. He was so proud of himself he was about to burst at the seams.
"You nailed it, buddy," Mark said.
"I never thought it would come back down to earth," Jan said as the three of them hugged and laughed and formed a memory that would never be forgotten. True, the length of the home run was already being exaggerated, but that was the beauty of a long fly ball that soared over the out stretched arms of an outfielder.
Charlie measured his next words carefully. He didn't yet know if a promise was really unbreakable. He thought it was, but he just wasn't sure.
"Can I get it, dad?" he whispered.
Mark and Jan looked at each other with a silence that was deafening. After a few seconds Mark broke into a huge smile and said, "I thought you'd never ask."
Charlie was ecstatic. "Really. I can get the bank? You're not kidding?"
"No sweetheart, we're not kidding" Jan said. "You can get the bank."
"Well what are we waiting for?" Mark jumped in. "Let's get in the car and go get it."
This was the fork in the road. They'd been here before. Charlie wanted some freedom and neither Mark nor Jan were ready to give it to him. The reasons were obvious to them, just not to Charlie, and they wouldn't be for years to come.
"I kind of hoped you'd meet me there," Charlie said. "I've got my board with me and I thought I could, you know, just hop on and go there myself. I've got to keep my legs going, dad."
Mark looked at Jan and Jan looked at Charlie. Something had to give. Was he growing up? Could he be trusted to navigate ten blocks of crazy traffic and selfish pedestrians and God knows what else?
"Please," Charlie said. "I know how to get there by just going through back ways and safe ways and on sidewalks and though parks. I'll never be near a car or a stoplight or anything that could hurt me. I'm really very good on my skateboard. You should watch me sometime."
Mark and Jan each took in a nice breath. They knew it was time.
"Ok," Mark said, "but you go right there. No side stops or anything like that."
"You'll be extra careful?" Jan asked.
Charlie nodded his yes. Mark and Jan smiled.
"We'll meet you there, partner," Mark said. "Have a nice ride."
This was unbelievable. He was actually going to be able to do it. After giving them each a huge kiss Charlie ran back to the stands to get his skateboard. He wasn't a kid anymore. He was going to fly through downtown on his own.
What a day! A game winning home run and a solo ride through town to get the one thing he wanted most in the world. Wow! Life was good for Charlie Taggs. Nothing could get in his way today.
Charlie was good about safety. Being cool was important but staying pain free trumped that big time. Methodically he put on his kneepads and elbow pads then adjusted his helmet that proudly met the ASTMF1492 safety code. He traded his spikes for a pair of highly recommended grippy rubber soled shoes. He took the spikes to Mark and Mark put them in the car.
Over the last month Charlie went to great lengths to learn the ins and outs of boarding from the best. His neighbor was an eighth grade stud who practically lived on his board. The two of them spent many hours going over the right way to do things in the alley behind their houses. He knew he wasn't ready for wall rides and grinds. They were way too risky. As for ollies and nollies and the occasional pop shuv-it, he might never be ready for those. His mind was locked into the golden rule of boarding that said if you're going to fall make sure you land on the fleshy part of your body ... no arms, no legs. Just stay low so you can roll.
So here he was, as ready as could be. For the next ten blocks it was Charlie against the world. He hopped on his board and got his balance right away, and just like that his hips started swaying as he weaved in and out of unimportant things like people and park benches and parked cars and people and people and more people. He placed his hands out to the side for maximum balance and his knees were bent and his body was relaxed. Charlie was in his own world riding his own dream, confident in the fact he'd have a good ten minutes at the antique store before his mom and dad got there.
Why was he confident of his impending alone time? Because his dad always got a ticket when he was in a hurry. And if trying to get to the antique store before Charlie wasn't one of those ticket just waiting to happen times, he didn't know what was.
A hundred yards away, that was how far he was from the front of the store when he heard the siren. Seventy-five yards. Fifty yards. The siren was on the ambulance that flew past Charlie and pulled up on the sidewalk, skidding to a stop in front of the very place he was going. Why was an ambulance stopping at Potterfield's Antique basket? That wasn't supposed to happen, not today.
Two men got out of the front seat and ran to the back to get a stretcher. Once they had it they ran across the street and jumped into an old art deco building that housed six businesses, three of which were on the second floor. Potterfield's was one of them. A tailor and a dentist's office were the others.
Charlie was ten feet from the front door now, twelve feet below the windows. He heard desperate screams coming from one of the stores on the second floor. All three storefronts were facing him. He tried to see what was going on. He was a kid. Screams were curious.
He first looked in the tailor's window. It wasn't coming from his place because the tailor was busy looking out at the window next door, the one that had Potterfield's Antique Basket written on it. Charlie looked that way, too, and nervously watched the ambulance drivers force a man on to a stretcher. There was blood all over Potterfield's window.
Charlie didn't know what to do so he did nothing. He still looked up at the window, though, staring hard until the ambulance drivers and the guy on the stretcher were no longer in sight. Off in the corner he saw old Mr. Pottefield trying to wipe the blood off the windows. It was smearing. He'd have to go over it again soon.
Mark and Jan showed up a few minutes after the screams subsided. Charlie was glad they were there.
"What's going on?" Jan asked.
Charlie had no idea. All he knew was an ambulance pulled up and two guys took a stretcher up to Mr. Potterfield's place. "There's blood on the window," he told them in a hushed up voice.
The front doors of the building flew open as the ambulance guys rushed down the stairs. A man was strapped to the stretcher and a sheet covered everything but his face. Enormous amounts of blood were drenching both the left and right sides of the sheet.
"No not yet!" the man screamed as they carried him in their direction. "I have more to do. Don't let them take me."
As they passed Charlie he screamed out," Tell them, boy. Tell them to let me go. I have to die. I heard the bells."
Mark and Jan pulled Charlie away and covered him so he would feel safe. What happened to that man? Charlie wanted to find out. He looked at his parents and said, "I have to go up there."
"Not today, son," Mark fired back. "We'll come back once everything is back to normal."
"Aren't you curious about what happened?" Charlie asked.
"Well, I kind of am," Jan said. Then looking at Mark she said, "the ambulance is gone. Whatever happened already happened."
"Come on dad. Please. I have to get my bank, anyhow."
Mark realized this was Charlie's day. "Ok, in and out," he said. "We get your bank and we go home. Deal?"
Charlie shook his hand. "Deal."
They looked up one more time and there in the window was Mr. Potterfield waving them up. Apparently everything was all right. Still, it was in and out. There would be no changing that, even if the day belonged to Charlie.
Mr. Potterfield was waiting by the door when they got to the top of the steps. "I'm so embarrassed," he said as he welcomed them in. "This has never happened to me before."
He was an effeminate, old man. Wispy hair, short, thin, always with a bow tie. He was a nice man who had a cat and a fat boyfriend named, Trevor. He smelled like soap.
"What happened?" Jan wanted to know.
"I'm not rightly sure," he said. "I was in the back room logging in a new shipment and my granddaughter who was helping me today just started to scream and ran out of the store. I went to the front to see if I could help but she was already gone. I swear I couldn't find a thing that might have gone wrong. An ambulance was driving by and saw her and she sent them up. I never saw the young man in my life."
Excerpted from BEYOND 101 by ALLEN RUBENS. Copyright © 2013 by Allen Rubens. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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