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  • Excerpt from Dead to Life – Sara Mason Mysteries Book Three - http://mybook.to/deadtolife

    Below is another action-packed chapter from Dead to Life. Sara Mason is secretly examining an old boarded-up house for clues that could lead to finding Emma Ellis, the reason she and Huxley are in Hawaii. Just as Sara looks into one of the rooms and is shocked by what she sees, someone wallops her on the back of her head.

    Chapter 39

    Sara began to regain consciousness, though she didn’t move. Her thoughts were distorted. One hand was twisted under her. Her fingertips told what she lay on. A concrete floor? A weak stream of light filtered into the room from somewhere up high. She was thankful the light didn’t fall directly on her. Someone close by was rummaging through stuff, moving items, shoving things. Sara played dead.

    Someone in a long dress stepped over her, the hem of the dress brushing over her face. The fabric carried a foul-smelling body odor. She almost gagged, held her breath, and felt her face heating up from want of fresh air.

    “We should have brought a flashlight.” The woman’s voice was just above a whisper. “Where is it?”

    “Just leave it!” It was a man’s gruff whisper. “Let’s get out of here.”

    “Where are her shoes?”

    “Oh, here.”

    “Throw them. Let’s go!”

    Something glanced off Sara’s hip and shoulder and landed on the floor in opposite directions as she lay sprawled. More conscious, her first impulse was to curl into a knot to protect herself, but she was coherent enough to know not to move or make a sound.

    Impatient sighs were followed by shuffling footsteps, like climbing of stairs, footsteps of two people wearing flip-flops.

    “Hurry up!” the male voice urged.

    “Hey! Don’t take your gloves off.” The woman’s voice was gruff, demanding.

    “What difference does it make? We used to live here.”

    “Yeah, but our prints are old. We don’t want our fresh prints mixed in if they bring another shipment through.”

    “Our old prints should be covered by now.” The man kept his voice low. It sounded like he was gloating.

    “There’ll be no trace of us. Lock this door. By the time anyone find her bones, a lot of people will have been run through this house.”

    “Maybe you should give her another whack, make sure she’s taken care of.” He chuckled but kept his voice quiet.

    Sara went on full alert. If she heard anyone moving toward her, she would jump up and fight. She dared open her eyes, barely enough so any eyelid movement couldn’t be detected in the near darkness if someone watched her.

    “No, once is enough.” The woman sounded like she was in charge. “If anyone finds her, it’ll look like she got locked in here by accident and then fell in the dark and hit her head.”

    “Good thinking.”

    The beam of dim light from high above disappeared. The door closed. A lock clicked into place. Sara struggled to open her eyes... to nothing but pitch black.

    “Damned!” Sara kept her voice low too.

    She tried to roll over to get herself up on all fours. She moved too quickly and slammed her temple against something hard. She collapsed and passed out again.

    When Sara began to regain consciousness a second time, she was aware something horrible had happened to her. Old memories lurked. The sound of the lock clicking brought back jumbled mental images of the Sacramento Valley serial killer’s ability to get into her home. But there were no completely dark rooms in her home and the serial killer was in prison.

    Adrenaline kicked in. Through the blur of her mind, she knew she was locked inside a darkened room, but why? She lay still, trying to remember what happened. No more light shown anywhere. The cold concrete beneath her was unforgiving. Traces of that foul odor she smelled earlier, mixed with that strong body odor caused another bout of gagging. She’d have vomited but had skipped breakfast. She had nothing in her stomach but couldn’t stop the dry-heaves and convulsing.

    She needed help but wasn’t sure how bad her injuries were. She felt at her waist for her hip pack. It was still there but the pocket that carried her cell phone hung open and empty.

    As her thoughts began to clear, she remembered the last shocking thing she saw before being walloped. Somehow, she had to get word to Huxley and Keo.

    She had to get out of that house.

    Then she remembered the people, that man and woman’s voice.

    Her sandals!

    She carefully sat up and reached for whatever she could find. Her hands bumped into objects and startled her. She couldn’t find the footwear, but she didn’t need to waste time looking. She needed to get out of there.

    She felt the concrete beneath her, vaguely remembered the layout of the house. She wasn’t laying prone on creaky floorboards. She was locked inside the basement and the basement had no exterior doorway!

    Her head hurt. She touched the sore spot and it was sticky... with blood, the smell of her blood on her fingers. She remembered the smell of her blood when she was forced off the road, her car rolling and rolling, and her head gushing blood as she hung upside-down. At least this time blood was not spurting out, but she already had a goose egg. Maybe at her age she wasn’t cut out for this type of work. Or maybe she hadn’t yet learned how to protect herself. She dispelled the thought. Some people need to be caught and she’d always be looking.

    Dizziness laid her prone again. When at last she was able to remain upright, she again reached out through the darkness. Her hands banged against too many things. She slowly grasped at them.

    Wood. Cushions. Furniture? She rose to her knees and felt further. The least they could have done way lay her on a couch.

    “Okay, so I’m in the basement storage with furniture.” She listened suddenly. Maybe those two were still here and would hear her. But maybe not. They wouldn’t hang around. What did they say? By the time anyone finds her bones....

    “Oh, dear God! They’ve left me here to die.” Sara sat back again on the cold concrete, clearing her thoughts, trying to retain what she had heard and felt. “Not on your life, you two. I’m not dying here. I have more lives than a cat!”

    Sara had no idea how long she had been unconscious. She grabbed hold of the wooden arm of the couch, wobbled, and finally stood. Her head reeled. She knew the feeling too well. Like after her accident on Kauai, she most likely had another concussion. She managed to sit on the couch till the vertigo passed. The soft cushions were a blessing, but they smelled moldy, musty. How long had stuff been locked away in this basement and simply forgotten?

    Something skittered across her bare foot. “Oh, shit!” She quickly drew her legs up to a fetal position and wrapped her arms around them.


    She stood again, beginning to feel her way around in the totally dark room. Her toes banged into something hard. “Crap!” She lifted her foot and shook it till the pain eased. “Just crap!”

    She had to get out. The basement could be crawling with rats, or geckoes. Maybe even a centipede or two. She worried that her bare feet or ankles could be bitten by a centipede. Worse yet, a rat could bite or scratch her. What sickness do rats carry? A centipede bite, though painful, would fade over time. Anything passed from a rat could be a life sentence. She had to get out! She hissed and clicked and shook furniture when she could make it move just to scare away any pests.

    Sara continued feeling her way by holding onto things to steady herself, trying to get to a wall to find a window. She was in the basement and those windows were boarded up from the inside. They were probably nailed closed, but she would rip the boards down with her bare hands if need be. If she couldn’t find something loose in the room that she could use to pry the boards, her hands were all she had.

    Her foot nudged something on the floor. She hoped it was her phone, maybe her sandals. She carefully stooped and gingerly felt around the concrete again, to no avail. Then she realized the sandals were what glanced off her body when she was barely conscious. They could have landed anywhere. She couldn’t find whatever her foot had touched.

    She continued moving, slower now, in the total darkness so she wouldn’t bang or break her toes. At least, the concrete floor was cool. She felt nothing but furniture. Then she snagged herself on something and fell forward, tangled in it. Something jammed hard against her ribs. She yelped. Something else scraped her leg, an arm. She fought to extricate herself from the mass of confusion. She ran her hands over the many parts as she pushed them away.

    “A bicycle?”

    Maybe she could work loose a metal piece to use as a tool. She ran fingertips over the parts looking for the nuts and bolts of the thing and located a few. What felt like rust flakes crumpled into her hands. Whatever parts she tried to work lose were rusted together and stuck tight. She couldn’t loosen anything at all.

    She wanted to scream again, but it wouldn’t help to lose her head at that moment, though it was throbbing, and she wished for a new one.

    Creeping slowly, her hand knocked against something upright. She felt a flat surface. Then her knuckles hit another upright. Then another flat surface.

    The stairs!

    Sara slowly climbed to the top of the stairs, taking care to hold to the handrail she found. She didn’t need to fall again, especially not from the top of the stairs.

    Reaching the top, she tried the doorknob. It was locked.

    Maybe all this door needs is a shove, like the back door.

    She rested to get her bearings and gather strength. Then she put a shoulder against the door and gave as strong a shove as she could manage. Her bare feet offered no traction on the wooden steps. The door didn’t budge. She had to hold tight to the knob in case she lost her balance. She gave it another shove. It didn’t budge. She made her way slowly down the stairs. The cold concrete floor told her she was at the bottom.

    Sara wasn’t about to waste time on that door. She knew to get out of there meant to find a boarded-up window. Get the board off to get some daylight in there and find her phone. Good grief! How would she explain her situation to Huxley when he was laying in the hospital taking care of his own injuries? How would she explain her predicament to Keo? He of all people needed to know what she had seen.

    She sighed heavily. She determined to break out the windows panes. Maybe, just maybe, she could ease her body through one of those small windows if it wasn’t too high up the wall; if she could stand on something to get up there. If she could get the boards loose.
  • From "In The Wind" a Sheriff Tom Myers thriller. This is the opening chapter. The other chapters are released each week(ish) as a serialized novella on Patreon. You can get the rest of the story at www.patreon.com/bobbynash Once the book is completed, it will be published by BEN Books (www.ben-books.com)

    Pete Messer hated his current assignment.

    It wasn’t a tough gig, but what it also wasn’t was very exciting. He had been tasked, along with two other U.S. Marshals like himself and an FBI Agent to baby sit a witness at a safe house out in the middle of nowhere.

    On paper, it sounded like a plum assignment.

    In reality, he was bored to death.

    Their witness was a mid-level scumbag who kept book for the Manelli crime family named Bates Hewell. Although the Manelli’s had been keeping a low profile in recent years, save for a slight altercation a year earlier that ended in a shootout. Instead, they had focused the investigation on their legitimate enterprises as opposed to their less than legal means of income, they hadn’t abandoned their criminal ways. They just learned how to keep those endeavors out of the limelight.

    What their witness knew would mean mass arrests and convictions. Once the word got out that Hewell had turned State’s evidence, if it hadn’t already, all hell was going to break loose. This guy’s life wouldn’t be worth a plugged nickel if the Manelli’s got a hold of him. For the past two months, Agent Messer and a revolving team of agents had been babysitting the witness, moving every few days to a new secure location in an effort to keep anyone looking for Hewell off balance. They had to keep him safe until his deposition later in the week. After that, they would repeat the process until the trial, which could take anywhere up to a year or more to begin. Longer no doubt, once Manelli’s high priced attorneys got in on the act.

    Messer hoped there was a plan to rotate him out of babysitting detail soon. He needed a break, not just from the monotony of the assignment, but from the annoying protectee in his charge. So far, he was the only Marshal on the detail to not be swapped out and he was starting to wonder if he was on someone’s shit list back home or if they had simply forgotten about him.

    “Ours is not to question why…” he muttered and dropped the cigarette on the driveway before grinding it out with his shoe. He had given up the cancer sticks once upon a time, but when on these seemingly never-ending protection details, he craved a smoke if for no other reason than to have something to do. Out of respect for his coworkers, he always took it outside when time to light up. Slipping on a sweater jacket and hoodie over his button up shirt and tie to keep up the illusion that it was a nice, normal family renting out the old Patterson place off Old Country Road 3 near the intersection of Highway 81.

    To his co-workers, he was walking the perimeter while grabbing a smoke.

    The safe house sat on a fairly secluded piece of land in a quiet northeast Georgia area just a few miles north of the middle of nowhere, a perfect place to hide out. The house they had rented under false, government created identities, was a ranch built in the 1980’s when the house had once been a farm house. There were several acres of fairly flat, overgrown with grass, terrain surrounding them, which meant they would see anyone coming their way long before they reached the house.

    From the outside, there was nothing extraordinary about the old Patterson place.

    The inside wasn’t much different, which made it the perfect safe house to keep their witness on ice until time for him to stand before the grand jury and spill his guts.

    The safe house was your typical ranch style house that was built in the 1980’s all over the southeastern United States. Three bedrooms, two of them tiny, two bathrooms, kitchen, den, living room, dining room, small fireplace, and two car garage that only fit two cars if you didn’t have to open the doors on either of them. The house sat on fourteen acres of flat farm land, which allowed them to keep an eye on all directions. It was a foreclosure that had been purchased under a dummy corporation’s name to keep it secure. On paper, it was a rental property.

    Only a handful of people knew its real purpose.

    Deputy U.S. Marshal Messer walked into the living room and yawned. The sun had set less than an hour earlier and since he had been on duty since midnight, he was ready to crash.

    “I’m beat,” he told the Parker and Cutler, who were playing what was probably their hundredth game of poker. One of them had brought cards and chips. Messer wasn’t sure if they were actually playing for real money or not.

    Messer, along with Deputy U.S. Marshal Simon Parker, Deputy U.S. Marshal Amy Street, FBI Agent Mike Cutler had spent the past week rotating shifts around their witness, an annoying man who rarely slept and watched a lot of TV when he wasn’t pacing nervously. He was an anxiety attack just waiting to happen.

    “Yeah, sack out, man,” Parker said as he folded and tossed his cards atop the pile of chips he had just forfeited. “You look tired.”

    “You’re a peach, Parker,” Messer said.

    “Knock first. Street’s in there.”

    Thanks. He knocked and there was no answer so he assumed she was asleep. Messer gave his colleagues a half-hearted salute before heading into the master bedroom and quietly closing the door behind him. In the dark, he couldn’t see Amy Street in either of the two beds that sat against opposite walls of the master bedroom, but he entered the room quietly anyway.

    Both beds were empty. Once the door was closed, he heard the shower running in the bathroom and saw light from beneath the door. It didn’t take a twelve-year law enforcement veteran to put two and two together.

    Messer kicked off his shoes and climbed into the bed farthest from the bathroom without bothering to change clothes, although he did loosen and pull off his tie and unbutton his shirt. He hung his shoulder holster on the bed post along with the tie then laid on his back and stared at the ceiling. He was tired, but sleep constantly eluded him, especially on the job. It was not a new problem. He couldn’t shut off his brain long enough to doze off. There were too many variables running through his head, schedules, check ins, perimeter searches, things like that. His mind was on the job twenty-four/seven. While that made him good at his job, it had killed more than a few relationships. Occupational hazard.

    Messer could still hear the TV from the living room through the door, but it was a muffled roar. Their witness was obsessed with old TV shows. Thanks to the abundance of cable channels showing classic TV lineups these days and the witnesses inability to sleep for more than two or three hours at a time, each night he was able to watch one episode each of each Star Trek series, the A-Team, Quantum Leap, Magnum p.i., Nash Bridges, Night Court, Cheers, and Simon & Simon before passing out for a few hours when the house fell into blessed silence.

    The deputy marshal did not see the appeal, personally. He had seen many of those shows as a kid, but after seeing an episode once, he never felt the need to watch it again. He couldn’t understand people like his brother who collected box sets of old shows and watched them over and over again. It seemed weird.

    Messer had just started to doze off when the bathroom door opened and Street came into the room. In the short time he had known her, he came to realize that she never walked through a door so much as she burst through them.

    “Sorry,” Street said softly as soon as she realized she wasn’t alone. She flipped off the bathroom light and plunged the room into darkness. The only light came in under the door from the living room, the red numbers on the clock, and from around the edges of the closed blinds on the window.

    “Did I wake you?” Street asked as she tiptoed across the room on bare feet.

    “Nah. I just got in,” Messer mumbled. “You turning in or heading back to the final frontier out there?”

    “Nap time,” Street said. After securing her weapon in the nightstand, she climbed into the other bed. She was dressed more comfortably than he was, in sweats and a baggy T-shirt, her long, dark hair pulled up into a ponytail.

    He and Street got along pretty well, probably because he was the only man in the house that hadn’t tried to hit on her yet. He found her attractive, but she wasn’t really his type. He hadn’t been able to say the word gay out loud yet, despite John pressuring him to at least tell his parents about them moving in together. They both agreed that keeping it out of the workplace was probably smart, especially on these long babysitting gigs. Based on the way some of the guys acted around Street, he could only imagine the kind of bullshit he would have to put up with if they knew. He hated having to hide who he was, but there were some fights he found were easier to avoid than have. This was one of them.

    Messer said good night, then rolled over to face the wall, and eventually drifted off.

    He woke to an out of place sound.

    Marshal Messer’s eyes snapped open at the sound. Without sitting up, he glanced around the room. The clock showed that it was twenty minutes to four in the morning. He could still hear the TV playing in the other room, but the sound that woke him had not come from there.

    He sat up on the edge of the bed softly, quietly. He focused, carefully listening for another clue that he hadn’t dreamt the sound that woke him. He slipped his feet into his shoes, then stood and pulled the service weapon from his shoulder holster still dangling from the bed post.

    “Time to get up?” Street asked sleepily from her bunk.

    “Shhh…” he said. “I thought I heard…”

    That’s when the shooting started.

    Messer eased open the door for a look. The living room was empty so he opened the door all the way and stepped out.

    Amy Street was two steps behind him, gun also in hand. She was still barefoot, which seemed like a bad idea, but he wasn’t about to admonish her in the middle of a shootout. She moved toward the fireplace that jutted out from the wall off the master bedroom to divide the living room from the dining room. It provided good cover.

    Messer went wide, heading to the far wall so he could back her up.

    Street pointed two fingers at her eyes then pointed in the direction of the dining room and the kitchen beyond.

    He shook his head. He didn’t see anyone.

    He pointed toward the open door leading to the other bedrooms, bathroom, and stairwell to the attic that was on his side of the room.

    She shook her head. It was clear.

    Messer inched forward, ready to head toward the kitchen when he heard glass break.

    He turned into the hallway, gun leading the way. The bathroom was ahead. It was clear. So was the back bedroom.

    Where the hell is everybody?

    He heard glass shatter again and bolted for the front bedroom. He entered just in time to see their protected witness leap out of the broken window into the bushes below.

    He’s escaping! Where’s his detail?

    Hewell shouted as the prickly bushes bit into his flesh, cutting and scratching him as he freed himself from their grasp. Once free, Hewell ran for the field ahead, hoping to lose himself in the tall grass.

    “Stop!” Messer commanded.

    Hewell looked back, but kept running.

    For a second, the marshal considered shooting him, but couldn’t risk it. Hewell was a scumbag and a crook, but he was also under the protection of the U.S. Marshal’s Service. Shooting him would not be looked on favorably.

    He heard the sound of footsteps come up behind him. They were heavy. Boots. Not Street. She was barefoot, he recalled.

    He turned just in time to see a stranger enter the room.

    The man was armed and seemed just as surprised to see someone there as Messer was to see him.

    The man raised his gun.

    Messer pulled the trigger first, two slugs to the heart, dropping the man where he stood.

    He ran back into the living room.

    “Street! We’ve got a runner and shooters! Watch your…”

    That’s when he saw her.

    Street was leaning against the fireplace, a pool of blood beneath her. She had been shot, belly wound.

    “I got… got him,” she said through the pain.

    There was no time to question her. He had to get them both to safety and call in medics for Street. He decided he would catch up with Hewell after he was sure she was okay.

    “We got to get out of here,” he whispered into her ear as she helped her back to her feet. With one hand, she put pressure on the wound. She still held her gun in the other. They reached the front door without incident.

    Messer opened the door and stepped out onto the small concrete porch. It was barely large enough to hold a chair. There was one step between the ground and the porch. He took one step forward.

    He didn’t feel the blast until they were airborne.

    The house exploded in a giant blazing ball of fire and smoke. Walls were reduced to shrapnel that hammered Messer and Street like tiny missiles as they were propelled across the front lawn.

    They hit the ground hard as wood and plaster rained down all around them like a fiery thunderstorm. The grass ignited and spread quickly to the nearest tree.

    Street was lying face down in the grass.

    She wasn’t moving.

    Messer tried to get to her, but he couldn’t move either. He tried again and felt something tear in his side. It was the most unimaginable pain he had ever felt in his life.

    Before he passed out, Pete Messer caught a glimpse of Bates Hewell before he disappeared into the tall grass.

    Their star witness was in the wind.

    Continued at www.patreon.com/bobbynash
  • From "Tharon Ann": “I was very young when asked to replace Barbara Loden in After the Fall. Some days in rehearsal I’d look at Arthur Miller’s gaunt, lifeless face checking me out in the darkness of Lincoln Center during my first run through with the original cast of After the Fall, waiting to see if I’ll measure up. I’d sooner read The Lady’s Home Journal backwards than Death of a Salesman, that’s how morbid his writings are to me. Maybe I just don’t like him. What did Marilyn see in him? Like me, she lived her life with aloneness, always going for men she considered better than her. Perhaps that was her attraction to Arthur Miller. I’d sooner wrap my legs around a buffalo than crawl in bed with him. I admire and respect Elia Kazan more than any director I’ve ever worked with, but it seems to me this whole crowd is self-serving for want of a better term. Kazan sold out many of his friends by naming names during the McCarthy hearings in 1952. Many of my friends were blacklisted from working in Hollywood for years, their lives destroyed. Kazan didn’t believe in Communism, but more importantly he didn’t want to be blacklisted. This I understand, still this crowd sickens me every time I think of how they used and betrayed each other. Each time I make up my mind to audition for the Actor’s Studio, something stops me. I don’t know if it’s my insecurity performing in front of my peers or the mixed feelings I have about Lee Strasberg.”

    It all began when Kazan introduced an insecure and confused Marilyn to his intellectual crowd of friends, including several well known psychiatrists. This type therapy is designed to make the patient dredge up repressed, painful memories buried in the subconscious; to face them and be free to move forward rather than a lifelong victim. In Marilyn’s case, she willingly underwent this type therapy in order to understand and rid herself of negative personal issues. As an added bonus, she was convinced it would give her performances greater depth.

    This is what he’s trying to do to me. He’ll get the performance out of me regardless of how I feel. He thinks he’ll get what he wants by digging up my past. I leave rehearsal feeling drained and depressed.

    Just as Marilyn used others to advance her career, so was she used and dismissed by the rich and famous sperm donors of the day. On August 5, 1962, Norma Jean Mortenson, better known to her fans as “Marilyn,” died at the age of thirty six, a bottle of sleeping pills by her side. The actual circumstances of her death remain a mystery.

    It’s crazy burning myself at both ends like this. Performing the leading role in two plays week after week is a killer. Why do I always need a mountain to climb? My understudy picks up the slack at the Cherry Lane on the days I perform Maggie in “After the Fall” at Lincoln Center. Some days nothing seems right.”

    from Tharon Ann a memoir by Jennifer Brookins
  • The mayor will begin posting excerpts from this page tomorrow. The postings will continue until the end of the month.
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