The second in Seth Patrick's genre-bending trilogy, Lost Souls delivers chilling twists as a forensic detective revives the dead to exhume a world changing conspiracy.
JONAH MILLER, REVIVER. Able to wake the recently dead for testimony that is accepted in courts worldwide, the use of revivers has become a routine part of police investigation.
Despite his troubled past, Jonah Miller is one of the best. But while reviving the victim of a brutal murder, he encounters a terrifying presence. Something is watching. Waiting.
When long-hidden secrets are uncovered, Jonah is forced to come to a chilling conclusion:
An ancient evil is coming - and Jonah may be all that stands in its way...
About the Author
SETH PATRICK was born in Northern Ireland. An Oxford mathematics graduate, he spent thirteen years working in an award-winning games company before becoming a full-time author. He lives in England with his wife and two children. He has written three novels: Reviver; The Returned (the novelization of the International Emmy Award winning TV series); and Lost Souls (Part 2 of the Reviver trilogy).
Read an Excerpt
A Reviver Novel
By Seth Patrick
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2015 Seth Patrick
All rights reserved.
Someone was following her.
The alley was a short cut she'd used many times before. Now, late on a moonless night, Mary hesitated. The alley was poorly lit, but she wanted to get home as fast as she could. Once through it she would have a three-minute walk to the door of her apartment, three minutes before she could shake off the feeling she'd had since leaving the party. A feeling of cold eyes watching her.
She stepped into the alley. After a dozen paces it occurred to her that it was different somehow. Darker than she remembered. It made her falter for a moment, seeing how shadows seemed to like the place.
The solitary light was midway along, high up on the wall. She looked at it, wincing at the glare. Yet, bright as it was, it didn't seem to reach far: a small island of illumination on the ground underneath, its edges strangely well defined. The rest of the alley seemed to shrug the light off.
She shook her head and tried to dismiss her anxiety. One more baseless fear to join the others she'd been keeping a lid on for the last half-hour.
You're just scaring yourself, Mary, she thought. One idiot tries to ruin your night, and you let him. She was being stubborn, though, and she knew it. It was why she'd walked home instead of getting a cab – angry at being made to feel vulnerable and refusing to give in to it.
Still, something felt different here. It was quieter than normal, the streets empty at both ends of the alley. She told herself it was just the natural unease of a dark and lonely place that she was feeling.
She slowed, keeping her footfalls as silent as she could. Almost at the island of light that marked the halfway point, she paused in the dark. There were sounds behind her, from the end of the alley she'd just come from. Footsteps: a steady walk. She looked back, hoping the darkness around her was as complete as it felt, that she was cloaked from whatever eyes belonged to those feet.
She saw the man, then. His step didn't change as he walked into sight at the alley entrance. She stopped breathing, just watched.
He went on past.
She let out her breath. It hadn't even been him. Just a random guy, walking the same way she'd been walking.
Then she froze. Someone was with her, right beside her. She knew this, because they had just taken hold of her hand.
Instinctively, she jerked it free. She turned around, quickly stepping into the island of light beside her.
But there was nobody. She must have imagined it. If I thought it was real, she told herself, I'd already be running. Right?
'Who's there?' she said again. A large garbage container thirty feet back the way she'd come was the only place she could see where anyone could have hidden. She kept her eye on it and backed towards the far end of the alley. Towards home.
Three steps took her to the edge of the light. With her eyes still fixed on the garbage container, she paused. She shaded her eyes with her right hand, careful to avoid catching the light above full-on so that she would keep some level of dark-adapted vision. There was no movement where she watched.
Mary took another step and was in darkness once more.
She froze again, still staring ahead.
Something was holding her left hand, holding it tightly. She tried to pull away, looking at her hand as she pulled. In the gloom, all she could see was a shadowy outline against her own skin.
But there was nothing else there.
'Please let me go,' she said. 'Please.'
The shadow around her hand vanished. As it did she felt a sharp pain. Bringing her right hand to her left she could feel wet warmth on her skin that she knew was blood. Wherever she'd felt the touch now seemed to be on fire. Instinct made her stride back into the island of light, her eyes darting around her in panic. She glanced at the wound; countless small scratches had opened the skin and made the blood flow.
She reached into her bag for her cell phone, but it wasn't there. She had a moment of confusion – wondering how and when she'd misplaced it – but then the phone clattered across the ground to her feet, thrown from the darkness. Bewildered and scared, she picked it up and looked at it. The screen was shattered, the phone dead.
Her peripheral vision caught movement. A small, dark shape against the brighter end of the alley, brief and fast-moving. Then the light above her began to grow brighter, the island widening. She felt hope grow for a moment as she sensed the dark retreating, the light pushing it back. But her hope collapsed: the light above her failed, the bulb burning out.
Darkness closed in on her.
Something took her right hand this time. She could see someone walking past the end of the alley, and opened her mouth to call out to them, to shout, but the grip on her hand became intense. The pain stole her breath, reducing her cry to little more than a whimper.
She fell silent and the grip relaxed. The pain stopped. The lesson was clear: be quiet. She tore her eyes from the end of the alley and looked at her hand again.
Still she could see nothing but a dark outline on the hand itself. Then the grip released and she felt fingers, long and thin, close over on her shoulder. She glanced. This time she could see something there, glistening in the darkness.
The fingers pushed her towards the wall. She resisted briefly, feeling sharp pain from the skin on her shoulder where the fingers gripped, compelling her onward.
At the wall the fingers let go.
It was behind her.
She began to tremble, knowing that she was about to turn and face it, knowing that she would cry out, whatever pain it would bring down on her. Knowing that she wouldn't be able to stop while there was breath in her lungs.
She turned. Seeing what was with her in the dark, Mary started to scream.CHAPTER 2
It was 9 a.m. on Monday morning. Jonah Miller was sitting at his desk in the Central East Coast office of the Forensic Revival Service.
He'd joined the FRS at nineteen, the youngest forensic reviver they'd ever taken on. This was his ninth year. Nine years of getting testimony from the dead, and it felt harder than it had ever felt before.
Revivals seemed to take more out of him than they used to, but it wasn't just the revivals. Everything felt harder. Dealing with relatives had become exhausting, especially when managing their expectations if they wanted to take the opportunity to talk to their loved one, expectations that were frequently thwarted by lack of time.
And with the testimony itself, he was increasingly reluctant to be aggressive with a subject. More than once, an investigating officer had expressed frustration with him. He wondered if he was getting a bad reputation.
Even the paperwork had become a problem.
When a speaking corpse identified someone as their murderer, the defence team usually had little option but to call into question the judgement and professionalism of the reviver, and dig deep for procedural irregularities. As a result, the paperwork for each case felt like a minefield.
On Jonah's monitor was footage from his most recent revival, the paperwork for which he'd yet to complete. The screen showed the image of a dead man lying in a pool of his own blood, a fifty-year-old Polish immigrant called Piotr Zales, whose packaging firm had taken only six years to grow from nothing to a ten-million-dollar business. He had been found dead in his home, his wife out of town; he'd been shot once in the torso and twice in the head. It was the kind of injury that often made revival impractical. With Zales, however, the damage to the brain – although fatal – had been relatively slight. The estimated revival chance had been low, but sufficient to warrant the attempt. If the killer had used a larger-calibre gun, or hollow-point ammunition, the chances would have been non-existent.
Jonah played the footage, speeding past the initial stages: Jonah entering frame, taking the man's hand; a forty-three-minute period of apparent inactivity; the man's chest finally moving as revival was achieved and the lungs filled with air.
To those outside the field, that forty-three-minute period seemed like the easy part. To the reviver, of course, it was where most of the work happened. It had been a tough one, but that was the problem with Jonah Miller. He could bring the tough ones back, better than almost anyone.
So inevitably he had to keep on doing it.
He let the footage play.
The eyes of the corpse had been open, but the eyes played no role in revival. The dead couldn't see, couldn't even move beyond the basic mechanisms of speech – lungs, jaw, tongue. The eyes, staring blankly out past the camera, gave the dead man the appearance of deep despair.
'Piotr,' said Jonah in the recording. 'My name is Jonah Miller. Can you hear me?'
'Yes,' said Piotr Zales.
'Do you know what happened to you?' asked Jonah, treading with care. The majority of revived subjects took a few moments to adjust, to realize that they were dead, but Zales knew exactly what was happening.
And he knew who had killed him.
'My fucking idiot brother-in-law shot me,' said the corpse. His speech was typical of revived subjects; a slow, throaty whisper punctuated by deep inhalations every dozen or so words. His voice was gently accented and underpinned with obvious anger. 'He shot me in the back then mocked me as he came to finish it. I was face down but he wanted me to know it was him, so he turned me over. Idiot. I saw him. I watched the greed in his eyes as he pulled the trigger. I'd like to see how he looks when he hears this.'
Jonah paused the footage. Piotr Zales had stayed lucid for a further eight minutes of unambiguous testimony, far longer than expected. Yet even with such an open-and-shut case, the amount of paperwork was ridiculous. It had always been bad, but recently things had started to get much worse.
* * *
Revival had first emerged almost fourteen years earlier: the ability to talk to the recently deceased, the audible responses coming from the dead's own lips.
Why it had emerged – and what it really was – were mysteries that had resisted years of intensive research. Yet while the research had failed to explain the origin of revival, it had instead provided a foundation for its use as a forensic tool. It was established that a reviver had a close emotional link to the dead subject during revival, one that made it clear when the subject was telling the truth. You didn't just get testimony from the dead – you knew when they lied or were evasive, and the questioning could establish the facts with absolute certainty.
But you had to be quick. Once you'd brought a subject back, the revival might only last a couple of minutes, and once it was over, that was all you got. It was impossible to revive the same subject twice.
Its use in courtrooms around the world had rapidly become a cornerstone of the justice system; public opinion – initially uneasy with the process – was mostly won over by the sheer weight of success.
Resistance to the technique had been led by the Afterlifers, an uneasy affiliation of disparate religious groups that had one shared mantra: that revival was a kind of sacrilege, a blasphemy. In the early days of revival, this belief had been extreme and focused, leading to violent protests and threats to the fledging Forensic Revival Service, but the protests had been small-scale and relatively short-lived. Public opinion placed pragmatism above dogma and stayed on the side of the revivers.
Then, twelve months ago, the Afterlifers had found anonymous backers with deep pockets. With the help of the extra funding they managed to make a dent in the public support of revival. Those in charge of the FRS had grown nervous, and responded with endless tinkering to guidelines and procedures.
In the end, that meant one thing: more paperwork.
'Morning, Jonah. How's life?'
The Northern Irish accent was unmistakeable. Jonah looked around and smiled at his friend. 'Morning, Never,' he said. 'Right now, life's not so great.'
'Paperwork, eh?' said Never Geary, looking at the forms on Jonah's screen. 'Lucky you.' As a technician, Never's role was to set up and monitor the recording equipment required for a revival – three cameras to capture every moment of the session. Unlike revivers, technicians had very little paperwork to fill in, and weren't needed in court. The only testimony they had to worry about came in a variety of audio and video formats.
'Give the Afterlifers a few more months,' said Jonah. 'I'm sure they can make your life awkward too.'
'I don't doubt that,' said Never. 'Meantime, focus on the good stuff. Annabel's back in a week or two, right?'
Jonah nodded. She was coming back the week before Valentine's Day.
'So look forward to that and don't worry about the Afterlifers.' Someone across the office called Never's name. 'Gotta dash. See you later, right?'
'Right.' Damn, Jonah thought. Annabel was back soon, and he really wasn't looking forward to it. Compared to thinking about the mess their relationship had become, paperwork didn't seem nearly so bad.CHAPTER 3
After another hour of reviewing the Piotr Zales case, the paperwork was complete. Jonah went to the canteen and made himself a coffee. When he sat, the pain in his chest flared a little, the way it did now and again. It was January, and the cold weather wasn't suiting him.
He gave his ribs a gentle rub until the pain eased, then swigged his drink. There was one thing about serious injuries that you didn't appreciate until they happened to you, he thought – they keep on making their presence felt long after everyone else has forgotten about them.
And how long had it been? Seventeen months? Seventeen months since he'd been shot in the chest, the bullet shattering a rib and almost killing him. Seventeen months since he'd escaped a biotech research facility as it burned to the ground, then watched as bodies on fire fell from the roof.
The nightmares still came regularly. Not just of the fire, of course. It hadn't only been people who had died that night.
Among the dead was Michael Andreas, the biotech entrepreneur whose company owned the facility. Andreas had unwittingly freed something from an ancient prison, a prison constructed from souls, and the creature had possessed him. But Andreas had fought back; knowing that the creature was vulnerable in a mortal body, Andreas consigned them both to a terrible death in the inferno that the building had become. He had saved humanity from a creature that had destroyed countless worlds, but hardly anyone would ever know it.
Jonah, Never and Annabel had been among the few to make it out alive, and the truth of what had happened wasn't something they could ever speak about openly.
Ah, Annabel. Of all the things that had happened in the aftermath, Annabel Harker was the one that most vexed him.
He'd made a full recovery, or so his doctors told him – it didn't feel like it. Every morning, he felt the same deep exhaustion that made getting out of bed a challenge and getting through the day a chore. Things had improved as his relationship with Annabel had blossomed, but in the time since, she had devoted herself to finding out all she could about Andreas, to the point of obsession. She spent so much time away, now, and he was convinced that his dark moods were partly to blame.
He loved her, but he knew that he was losing her. He could feel another pain in his chest and it had nothing to do with a bullet.
* * *
As Jonah returned to his desk, he was intercepted.
'Hugo wants a word with us,' said Never. Hugo Adler was the head of the Central East Coast FRS – their boss.
'What about?' said Jonah, but all he got was a shrug.
Most of the FRS was open plan, but Hugo had an office in the corner. As Jonah raised his hand to knock, Never just opened the door and went in, smiling back at Jonah.
'You wanted to see us?' said Never.
'Ah, yes,' said Hugo. 'Close that, would you?' He nodded to the open door and Jonah obliged. 'I wanted to have a little talk with you both about the Afterlifer situation, and the recent procedural changes. I know there's been some ... dissatisfaction.'
Excerpted from Lost Souls by Seth Patrick. Copyright © 2015 Seth Patrick. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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