By Kenneth G. Bennett
Published: May 20, 2014
Joe Stanton is in agony. Out of his mind over the death of his young daughter.
Or so it seems. Unable to contain his grief, Joe loses control in public, screaming his daughter’s name and causing a huge scene at a hotel on San Juan Island in Washington State. Thing is, Joe Stanton doesn’t have a daughter. Never did. And when the authorities arrive they blame the 28-year-old’s outburst on drugs.
What they don’t yet know is that others up and down the Pacific coast—from the Bering Sea to the Puget Sound—are suffering identical, always fatal mental breakdowns.
With the help of his girlfriend—the woman he loves and dreams of marrying—Joe struggles to
unravel the meaning of the hallucination destroying his mind. As the couple begins to perceive its significance—and Joe’s role in a looming global calamity—they must also outwit a billionaire weapons contractor bent on exploiting Joe’s newfound understanding of the cosmos, and outlast the time bomb ticking in Joe’s brain
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Joe Stanton opened his eyes and whispered his daughter’s name. “Lorna Gwin.”
“Sweetie? You awake?”
Joe yawned and stared at the popcorn-tiled ceiling, stained here and there with sprawling amoeba-shaped rings, souvenirs of long-ago rainstorms.
He stretched. Shifted position in the bed.
Early morning sunshine stabbed through a crack in the blackout curtains, illuminating the spartan motel room like a searchlight in an abandoned mine. Ella slept quietly beside him, her dark-red hair spilling across two pillows.
“Lorna Gwin?” Joe whispered, louder now. He sat up and swung his feet to the carpet. The adjacent double bed was empty. Rumpled and ruffled, but empty. “Lorna G?”
Must be in the bathroom.
Joe got to his feet. Too fast. “Darlin’?” he croaked, head spinning, hands trembling.
No sound from the bathroom. Nothing.
He crossed the room in three strides, stepping through the bright slash of daylight.
I overslept. Something’s happened.
The bathroom door stood open, revealing an empty tub, shower curtain swept to one side. No sign of the little girl.
“Lorna Gwin,” Joe called, turning and scanning the main room in earnest now.
“Lorna?” Joe stepped to the window and shoved the heavy drapes apart, trying to keep his voice steady. “You hidin’, sweetheart? Come on out now.”
Ella rested on her elbows and tracked his movements with startled, sleep-filled eyes. “What is it? What’s going on?”
“Lorna Gwin’s missing.”
Joe threw on a wrinkled T-shirt. Stepped into a pair of cargo shorts.
“Lorna Gwin,” Joe replied, exasperated.
He jammed his feet into a pair of Keens and tugged the laces tight. “Probably went down to the lobby to get a soda. I told her not to leave without telling us.”
The door slammed, and Joe stomped toward the stairs. It was 5:32 a.m.
About the author:
Kenneth G. Bennett is the author of the young adult novels, THE GAIA WARS and BATTLE FOR CASCADIA, and the new sci-fi thriller, EXODUS 2022. A wilderness enthusiast who loves backpacking, skiing and kayaking, Ken enjoys mysteries, science fiction, action adventure stories and, most especially, novels that explore the relationship between humans and the wild. He lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and son and two hyperactive Australian Shepherds.
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