PRETERNATURAL GIFTS
ABOUT THIS NOVEL:
I started work on this novel several years ago. I believe it was 1994/95. I had a basic plan of merging Wicca with another source to write a supernatural thriller about ending the world through a window “Gates” that let in the “Old Ones.” Born through the reading of H.P. Lovecraft, I wanted to tell a unique story with some strong characters. After spending several months outlining the novel, developing characters and a base, I realized that it was going to be an immense undertaking. After 270+ pages into the novel, I shelved it to pursue it at a later time. After I wrote Stranger Beside Me I had the inertia to begin again with Gifts. I was glad to take all that time off the book and took my time finishing the novel, keeping in mind the ending. Considering the changes that took place with the characters, I needed to make sure the readers would follow the story without being lost in subplots. After the release of The Sixth Sense, one character had to be scrapped to avoid plagiarizing, even though I had created the character first! It’s all in the fastest someone gets ideas copy-written that makes the difference. However, I was mildly surprised at the changes without the clichés. The novel is available through Barnes & Noble, Borders, Amazon.com, and other fine booksellers. Link provided at the bottom of this page.


Available Now

6

The following morning brought Alex an aching back and a late rising sun. Lying on the couch in the living room, wearing yesterday’s clothing, Alex had no recollection of the previous day for a few moments. An empty bottle of wine smiled at him from the floor at arm’s length. It smiled because some time during the wee hours it succeeded in tipping over the wine glass beside it. Noticing the bottle made Alex feel the freight train coursing through his head. He put both hands to his temples, rubbing his throbbing head in vain.
       When he sat up more he saw the prescription medicine bottle on the end table. The cap was off. Alex couldn’t recall the amount of pills he washed down with red wine.
       With weak arms, Alex pulled himself into the wheelchair. For a moment, he forgot how to work the tire lock, and then rolled into the bathroom. It occurred to Alex that most people would agree that wheelchairs were useful for hangovers. Undressing he allowed the shower to run hot.
       Under the scalding stream, Alex sat on the seat and urinated toward the drain. The acrid tang pierced his nostrils.
       Alex deliberately avoided the clock before he left the house. Leaving his watch on the nightstand, he felt it was as useless as the razor that day. Traveling to the office in the van, Alex felt the crawling up his back. Frequently he scanned the rear view mirror.
       Descending into the city, the mirror gave view of more vehicles on the hill. Alex recognized one of the cars a few lengths behind him. Giving in to intuition, Alex sped up, watching the car dart out to the passing lane to keep pace with him.
       The exit before the hospital, Alex turned into the downtown lane. Dodging yellow lights allowed him space from his pursuer. After several wrong turns, he was confident he’d lost the car among the traffic.
       The shock of cold snow in his grip from the wheelchair gave Alex reason to survey the snowfall that arrived in the night. He wheeled himself into the office from his reserved parking space while snow packed the tire treads and clogged the spokes. Alex ignored it as best he could.
       Routine was difficult to overcome. Usually the office was unlocked, all lights on with the aroma of coffee permeating the air. Sometimes, if he wandered in late, his first patient of the day greeted him with a smile from the lobby couch. A cheerful Rachel gave the files and messages to him. Accessing Alex’s demeanor allowed Rachel the sense to retrieve a cup of coffee for him or not. That morning Alex felt the stabbing anxiousness that coffee created for its addicts.
       After struggling out of his coat, Alex threw it in the chair across from his desk. For a long while Alex sat staring at the blank computer monitor. Sighing, Alex wondered what to do next.
      

7

Is Doctor Westcott still your brother’s physician?”
       Heather glanced up from rubbing the oily cloth against the smooth wood of her cello. She blinked at Justin. A smile formed on her mouth. Out of the entire orchestra, Justin was the only person to take time to know Heather and her family.
       Heather allowed Justin’s weight as a surrogate father. His pleasant and constant attention made him easily likable. The details of her life he held in high regard, filtering none of it into gossip for the other musicians. Heather found no respect in the ways of thespian cruelty when it came to other’s feelings.
       “Yes he is. Why do you ask?” Lightly Heather wondered if this was Justin’s subtle way to make an appointment with a shrink. On the other hand, maybe he just wanted a topic for conversation while they had a break from rehearsing.
       Justin nodded thoughtfully, then carefully handed her the morning edition of the Herald. Without another word, Justin drifted away from Heather with his violin tucked under his arm, allowing her to scan the newspaper.
       The cover story gave bold headlines of a murdered pregnant woman in a ritual killing. A Glamour Shots photograph of the woman stared back at Heather with the caption explaining briefly her occupation.
       Heather consumed more of the article, carefully avoiding the stock photograph of the handsome Doctor Alex Westcott in a crisp suit and smart tie. She realized she’d failed to avoid the black and white picture altogether. She read the details of the crime, including who was involved in finding the body.
       The article explained Rachel Hodge’s association with Doctor Westcott. Last seen at a grocery store in Syracuse, her employer discovered the body in the peaceful town of Cortland. More details surfaced about Doctor Westcott’s psychic abilities and his previous involvement with police and missing persons.
       Although never quoted, Doctor Westcott’s uncanny faculty, verified by substantial testimony from relatives of victims, gave validity to his findings. A short interview with the parents of a girl from a previous double murder during Halloween, which included a young boy, told of Westcott’s character in question.
       Heather absorbed every bit of the information with growing anxiety. There were no current interviews with Alex. Nor was he a suspect in any of the murders.
       Trembling enough to rattle the newspaper, Heather set the paper on the empty chair beside her. Heather tried composing herself. She reflected on the phone conversation she and Alex had had the night before. The conversation was casual, playful. Alex seemed troubled in the beginning however there was no mention of dead girls with their babies torn from their bellies. Especially someone he knew. Heather considered normal people who’d been through traumatic experiences shouldn’t have tête-à-tête afterward laced with sexual innuendoes.
       Heather shivered from the chill that crept up her dress and adhered to her spine.
      

8

After the third reporter called the office, Alex took the phone off the hook. Persistent knocking at the door made Alex glad he’d locked the door after entering.
       Alex spent the entire day at the office, drinking several cups of coffee, while he scanned the Internet for anything attributed with ritual killings. No hard information jumped out at him. Past crimes resembling ritual murders were his only tool. None of them were similar to what he dealt with now.
       Well after nightfall, when the need to retreat from the office was too much to bear, Alex wheeled himself quickly to the van. The chill in the air was vivid in his lungs. The doctor’s parking lot relatively sparse of expensive cars. Most of the administration kept banker’s hours.
       Half way to the vehicle, Alex sensed movement. He saw the news van for the local Fox News slide into the parking lot, pulling up quickly. Hopping from the open side door, the pretty but artificial looking platinum blonde, gravitated toward him with an unseen figure that had a camera with a bright spotlight for an eye, followed her tracks.
       “Doctor Westcott, can we have a quick word with you?” she bubbled in that pretentious way that reporters used when they set you up for a televised fall. She skidded on the ice in the high heels, recovering quickly. The phallic looking microphone jabbed in Alex’s direction after she’d had her way with it.
       To ease his mind as he shook his head, Alex reflected on the reporter’s sacrifice from warmth for fashion. No heavy coat and high heels gave her the look of a media prostitute. This, Alex thought comfortably, is exactly what she was.
       Alex managed to get the side door of the van unlocked before the platinum blonde stepped between him and escape. The unblinking eye of the camera spotlight fixed on him from the side. The determined reporter refused to move from in front of the door. The wheelchair made Alex an easy target for her.
       “Can we ask you a few questions about the recent murders?” she asked with the microphone so close to her lips Alex felt she’d finished every last drop of its cum. Then she extended the microphone at his face for him to have a lick.
       “No,” was all he said, quietly. He turned away from the camera as the beast crept closer to him from his seated height.
       “If you don’t move away from the van I’ll have you arrested for harassment and assault with a deadly weapon.”
       The familiar male’s voice was a godsend to Alex. Out of the shadows, he saw Cory and Neil step into view as the camera wheeled its bright eye in their direction. The red glow of Cory’s cigarette glowed like an evil red eye. Alex looked up at the pretty, plastic face to see if she considered her options. The reporter retreated from in front of the van door.
       “Please leave,” he asked the reporter and her pimp cameraman.
       “Nothing for the public?” she offered, setting him up. Alex had enough dealing with the media to know anything he said would come out twisted in print, to fill the whim of the editors for their casualty vampire readers.
       “Lady, if you don’t leave I’m sure I can find something to arrest you for,” Cory offered her.
       “Let’s go,” she told the cameraman. The bright eye winked out while the two figures returned to the News van.
       The three men watched the van drive out of the parking lot. The street lamps gave view to the falling snow.
       “When was the last time you slept?” Neil asked him.
       Alex considered his nap with a bottle of wine and prescription medication he’d enjoyed the night before. He shook his head with a shrug. “Are you here to rescue me?”
       “Probably,” Cory told him. He looked to Neil. “I told you we’d find him here.”
       “What the hell’s wrong with you, Alex?” Neil asked him throwing the newspaper in his lap. “Don’t you know your celebrity status?”
       The bottom front page stared back at Alex from a framed photo. The reporter’s face was familiar. Peter Horton’s grinning beak of a face showed proudly from the header of the newspaper. It occurred to Alex that Bridget’s cane hadn’t hit the reporter hard enough when it connected with his shin.
       “Let’s go get some coffee,” Cory suggested.
       “You think it’s safe for him?” Neil asked.
       “The locals at Denny’s won’t spend any time wondering about the star in their midst.” Cory pointed out. “We’ll meet you at the one on Erie Boulevard in ten minutes.” It wasn’t a suggestion it was a command. “If you’re not there I’ll personally kick your ass right out of that chair.
       Alex smiled with a nod. It was good to have friends willing to use your handicaps against you.
       A half hour later, the three men chatted quietly in a corner booth. Alex did his best to avoid the few faces recognizing him from the newspapers that seemed to permeate the establishment like salmonella.
       “Why did you go back to work so soon?” Neil wanted to know. Alex watched him pour sugar packets into his coffee by the twos.
       “I really don’t know what else to do,” Alex admitted defensively.
       “Normally getting back to work is the best thing. Not this time.”
       “None of the Cortland cops will admit it but someone gave that reporter full access to information on the murder. Obviously you were fingered.” Cory told Alex.
       “If I’d known about the paper, don’t you think I’d have the sense to hide my head somewhere? I thought we had a few days at least before it became public.” Alex never read the article but he speculated on its content. He contemplated the impact on Heather when she saw the newspaper. He wanted a head start to warn her.
       “Now that you know, you have to consider your options.” Neil sipped on his creamy coffee.
       “I think you should know Rachel’s husband filed a restraining order against you. He doesn’t want you at the funeral.”
       The devastating news made Alex’s sinuses sting. His eyes clouded with moisture. He looked at Cory. His friend’s face was stony, tired gray sacks hung under Cory’s eyes. It occurred to Alex that Neil was speaking, moving his lips, while no sound came from his mouth. It was then he felt the strange sensation in his legs. He looked down to witness what he thought was movement in his knee. Then his vision tunneled and he lost sight altogether.
      

Soul Takers available at Amazon.com
Stranger Beside Me available at Amazon.com

Not to be reprinted without permission.


COPYRIGHT 2000 - 2003 Robert Rootes
Robert Rootes
E-mail Robert
Return to Robert Rootes Main Page

http://robertrootes.tripod.com/