Excerpt: Shadowpath-Chapter 3 Between the Words

It’s the eighth anniversary of the publication of my first novel, Shadowpath. You can get it on sale on Amazon.

The Story So Far: Outside the scene of a brutal murder, two men fight but only one is caught by the police. One of the detectives on-scene invites our protagonist, Dr. Elisabeth Frost, to the interrogation of the suspect. He appears to be speaking in tongues and the occult is one of Dr. Frost’s areas of expertise. The interrogation seems to go nowhere until Dr. Frost recognizes the words as Enochian, the alleged language of the angles, and manages to wrangle herself into a position to speak with him. With supervision from the detectives, of course…

The door opened, and Susan returned with a printout. Mark took the papers and flipped through them with quick efficiency. “It’s Jack Harris, isn’t it? You could have saved us the trouble and cooperated at the outset. That way, we might have avoided the obstruction of justice charges I’m now filing.”

“Ah! You think you’re in charge now that you have more facts. Let me assure you, my file explains little in regards to my current situation or this case.”

“Then why did you bring it up?” Mark asked as he handed the paperwork over to Elisabeth. She skimmed through it. Jack Harris had been a lawyer, summa cum laude from an Ivy League law school, working for a national firm, transferred west on a promotion. On the way west, there had been an accident and his wife was killed.

Harris reported it as a murder, despite a lack of corroborating evidence, and later suffered a nervous breakdown because of it. While still technically open, the police considered it a cold case, filed and forgotten. Elisabeth took what she had and reassessed the man in front of her.

This wasn’t a superman; not someone scary. This was someone suffering from a severe emotional disconnect after the death of a loved one. This was someone neurotic, rage-filled and arrogant, with a penchant for detachment (a trait that would have made him a great lawyer) that let him remain in control.

Even his wife’s murderer may have been an invention to mitigate his culpability in her death. Now that she understood him, she could even sense a world-weariness about him. This wasn’t the first time he’d been on the other side of an interrogation table. The question remained, though: Was he delusional enough to kill someone?

The sole thing that didn’t fit—that was nagging her—was the occult connection.

Why the obsession with esoteric religion? Where did that fit in? She needed more time and information to piece it all together.

“You’ve read about my breakdown?” Harris said. “And yes, I admit I had a breakdown. I even had a short stint in an institution. But I got better, much better.”

“You call this better?” quipped Mark.

“You have to understand, Detective,” Jack said vehemently, “none of you were doing anything about my wife. I had to stop him.”

Elisabeth noted the expected emotional response to Stewart’s questioning; Jack blamed the police. Elisabeth decided to force a confrontation, hoping it would lead him to open up and reveal more pertinent information. “Tell us, Mr. Harris, do you want that family to have died in vain, like your wife? Wouldn’t your wife want you to cooperate with the authorities? Maybe we can help you find the killer.”

There it was—a tell, a twitch that most wouldn’t have noticed if they weren’t watching for it. Part of Jack did feel responsible for his wife’s death, and he wanted to compensate for it. For a moment, Jack seemed poised to answer Elisabeth, but noting Mark’s attention, he returned to a stubborn silence.

Irritated, Mark turned away to compose himself. Susan was looking over the file on the murders. It was then that it happened.

Time sputtered and stalled. Jack held his hands in front of him. The handcuffs were off. They were clutched in his palm. His flesh rippled slowly from his fingertips to his arms like an unseen tide of maggots writhing and waiting to be freed. “You’ve got to understand,” Jack said in a hoarse voice.

The arrogance and anger were gone from his face. Now there was just exhaustion and pain. The ripples on his arms glowed with a phosphorescent blue-green energy pulsing just underneath the flesh. “I’m barely holding it together as it is.” The lights in the room abruptly flickered and threatened to die. In the semi-gloom, Jack’s eyes flashed a deep, fathomless jade.

Elisabeth screamed.

Mark and Susan’s attention immediately came back. The glowing marks and eyes vanished but the handcuffs were still in Jack’s palm.

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