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781"Unknown Entity:" New Sci-Fi Thriller

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  • joseph_dysart
    Oct 27, 2007
      Hi Folks,

      I've just released a new novella, "Unknown Entity." It's a sci-fi
      psychological thriller about Dylan Pierce, a fugitive psychic who is
      offered the opportunity to rescue a drop-dead gorgeous folksinger
      from her insanity -- a folksinger he's admired for as long as he can
      remember.

      The catch: his only chance to bring her back is to journey into her
      twisted subconscious.

      I'd love to know what you think about it.

      Here's a sneak peek at the first chapter:


      UNKNOWN ENTITY
      © 2007 Joseph Dysart

      ~ Chapter One ~

      I CAME to woozily, staring into the puss of one of those white-
      sweater-tied-around-the-shoulders kind of guys. Fiftyish. Stingy
      smile. Silver-feathered mane. Mirror-slave blue eyes.

      Winston Hamilton. One of the world's richest men.

      The two goons who'd drugged me were slouched against the wall, one
      on either side of me. The tallest stroked a shiner under his left
      eye – a little memento I'd gifted him during our recent `get
      acquainted' encounter. The other picked his nose like it was some
      sort of performance art.

      I could see Hamilton clearly now. I coughed, and he grinned,
      leaning towards me from the throne of a big black leather chair that
      loomed up from behind his desk. A pink mole about the size of a
      raisin dangled from his jaw. He pulled on it. It was the same
      nervous tic I'd noticed on a recent TV interview he'd done "60
      Minutes."

      "Ah, Mr. Pierce," Hamilton said. "How nice of you to join us."

      The goons stiffened, both looking at me like they wished they'd used
      a real gun to take me down during our altercation earlier that day --
      instead of one that fired tranquilizer.

      I made a move to get to my feet, but got nowhere. They'd lashed me
      to a chair while I was unconscious, and had done good work. The
      ropes squeezed my shoulders and gut like anacondas. "My apologies,"
      I said to Hamilton, grinning. "Been meaning to drop by for awhile."

      Hamilton snorted. "Yes. Well. I really wish we could have met
      under more pleasant circumstances, Mr. Pierce. But you must admit,
      you've been rather elusive lately."

      A wave of pain rifled across my back, and my grin pinched to a
      wince. The tall goon smirked. Apparently, he and his buddy had
      been very thorough during their version of the "meet-and-greet"
      earlier that day.

      "Nothing personal," I said. "But the fact is, I misplaced my
      Blackberry. Been hell trying to put my week back together."

      Hamilton cracked a faint smile and said nothing, pulling on his pink
      mole instead. He looked over at the tall goon. "Cut him loose."

      The tall goon -- Goon Number One -- responded to Hamilton's words
      like he'd been thwacked by a two-by-four. He and his booger-loving
      buddy had spent the past six months chasing my butt clear across the
      globe. Cut me loose? He'd rather shove rusty razor blades under
      his fingernails.

      Still, Hamilton was the one signing the checks. The goon's eyes
      went vacant. He drew a switchblade from a pocket, and went to work
      on the ropes. As the restraints popped loose, his blade kissed my
      skin in a way I thought was a bit too familiar. I was tempted to
      school him on the finer points of switchblade safety, but decided
      against it.

      He finished up, and I heard a clink! of his switchblade closing
      behind my ear -- a clink! that seemed to say I might be free of the
      restraints, but gosh darnit, he still was boss, and I'd better
      realize that.

      Ooo.

      "Much obliged," I said to Goon One.

      "Screw you, pretty boy." He slouched against the wall again – his
      arms crossed, his eyes down, his lips moving in a silent swear. All
      things considered, he wouldn't be my first choice for the
      neighborhood welcome wagon.

      His goon buddy, who'd only displayed marginal interest in the rope
      cutting, resumed his favorite diversion. This time, he dug deep
      into his left nostril, retrieving what apparently was a blue-ribbon
      winner. He stared intently at his prize, thoroughly pleased with
      himself.

      I rubbed my chest where the ropes had bitten deepest, and kept an
      eye on Hamilton. He'd gotten up from his desk, and had his back to
      me, his hands clasped at his butt. He was gazing through some
      rather majestic, crystal-clear glass windows, which were about three
      stories high, and overlooked a sprawling compound.

      It was a stunning view – acres upon acres of finely manicured
      rolling hills. It must have taken an army of laborers to maintain.
      The grandeur of it all – the artfully sculpted shrubbery, the
      controlled explosion of pinks, violets and yellows emanating from
      more than a dozen varieties of flowers, the intricate maze of paths
      meticulously woven through the scene – reminded me of something
      you'd see outside the window of a French count's castle.

      I studied the scene more closely, and saw the symphony of flora
      ending abruptly at a cliff overlooking a quiet ocean. Off on the
      horizon, there was a boulder about the size of a small cottage
      perched precariously on the edge of the cliff. I recognized the
      landmark immediately: Mugu Rock. We were on the Southern
      California coast, just north of LA, somewhere up in the hills of
      Malibu.

      "I have a driver outside," Hamilton said, his back still to
      me. "You're free to go."

      Goon Number One exhaled fitfully, trying not to explode, forcing
      himself to stare at the floor. Even so, he couldn't help shooting
      what he apparently thought were daggers at me in a sideways glance.

      I rubbed my chest some more and studied Hamilton's shoulders.

      Neither of us said anything for a long time.

      He finally turned around to face me. "Look, Mr. Pierce. We realize
      we're not going to get anywhere without your cooperation. You know
      it, and we know you know. So I'm going to ask you – very politely --
      for your cooperation."

      "Something tells me Miss Manners would dicker with your definition
      of `polite.'"

      Another faint smile from Hamilton. "Well then, let me start again,
      and be among the many to congratulate you on the way you handled the
      Leary murder case."

      I snorted. The Leary case. That was where all this nonsense had
      begun. About a year ago, LAPD had hit a major wall in a dragnet
      for a gruesome serial killer three years running, and had quietly
      begun making overtures to the local psychic community.

      After "sourcing" a few sensitives with no success, they'd shown up
      at my door, the Virtual Reality Lab at UCLA. I found out later
      they'd been tipped off about me by someone at the U.S. Department of
      Defense – now my former employer. "He's not your run-of-the-mill
      psychic," their informant had gushed. "He can crawl into other
      people's minds. Slither in and out of dream-worlds. Plod through
      someone else's unconscious like it's a walk in the park. He's
      absolutely amazing.

      "Plus, he's got some kind of computer graphics gizmos wired into
      his brain that enable him broadcast his entire experience to a
      computer screen. So everything he sees and does inside someone
      else's mind, you're able to see – in real time."

      Actually, those "gizmos" represented about two hundred million
      dollars -- and about a dozen years of groundbreaking research in
      virtual reality. But I'm not one to quibble.

      The lead detective from LAPD who approached me for psychic help was
      extremely skeptical, and made it clear she didn't put any stock in
      what I did. Mean-eyed, short, and mostly disgusted with life, she
      informed me that she was simply reaching out to satisfy, as she
      described it, "some hair-brained whim," of another detective on the
      case. "He's had some luck with `your type' before," she told me.

      She went through the usual niceties, charming me into public service
      with a golden-throated, "Like I said, I don't buy this crap for a
      minute. But go ahead and play around with this bloody blouse, which
      we found at the crime scene. You'll make my partner happy, and then
      we can all go home."

      It was an invitation that me, and my research partner, Elliot
      Jenkins – who I call the "Silicon Wizard," and for good reason –
      simply couldn't refuse.

      As I examined the blouse, the lead detective became even more
      squirmy as she learned more details about the nature of our
      research. Essentially, we were attempting to use VR technology to
      connect with the inner mind. By her standards, I'm sure that meant
      we were little more than Lords of Egghead City.

      I took a stab at trying to convince her that our VR research was, in
      fact, pretty heady stuff. Anytime I made a psychic journey into
      someone else's inner world, Elliot was able to track every move I
      made in 3D audio/video -- thanks to his silicon wunderstuff.
      Occasionally, if all conditions were just right, Elliot could even
      project a holographic image of himself into the virtual environment,
      and make things a bit more interesting.

      Apparently, my explanation triggered the full depth of the good
      officer's intellectual curiosity. "Spare me the mumbo jumbo," she
      said, stepping back and giving me the universal gesture for `It's
      over my head.' "Work your `magic.' Spread your fairy dust. Do
      whatever it is that you do. If you come up with the killer, great.
      If not, come five o'clock every day, there's still a beer with my
      name on it."

      For the first few weeks, Officer Generally-Disgusted-With-Life
      downed her daily beers with grim satisfaction, noting at both
      appropriate and inappropriate moments that we'd done nothing to
      shake her world view. That was, until one morning, while Elliot and
      I were doing a standard check of some new VR equipment, and an image
      of the killer at one of the crime scenes flashed in my mind.
      (for more, click to: http://www.josephdysart.com)