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Published author and book nerd, I write and review romance novels.

Friday, 28 February 2014

'Mindbender' the compilation has been released

'Mindbender' the compilation is finally out. You can find it on Amazon worldwide (available for purchase in your currency). For my United States friends and fans, here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/Mindbender-Lillian-Summers-ebook/dp/B00IPN0TI2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1393615741&sr=8-1&keywords=mindbender+Lillian+Summers
 
 

Monday, 24 February 2014

'Mindbender' - the compilation

'Mindbender' the compilation will be released on Amazon on February 28th. It comprises all three books, and has a brand new, gorgeous cover. Here it is:
 
 
 
For those who don't know what 'Mindbender' is about, here's a blurb:
 
They call him MB1. The mindbender. Jason Asbury has the ability to turn people into his puppets with the power of his mind. He is NSA’s most treasured asset, until he escapes a top secret facility at age fourteen. Twelve years later, he has achieved everything a man could want, except for lasting love. But Jason’s past comes to haunt him, as a mystery man employs serial burglar Ally Brown to steal his personal diaries. The theft was an easy job for Ally, or it should have been. She now finds herself caught between the man she stole from and the one who hired her. But which one turns out to be the most dangerous to her?
 
And an excerpt as well. Enjoy :)

PROLOGUE

Friday, October 13th, 2000
NSA, PR12 facility, somewhere near Clearwater River, Idaho
The moon was flat and pale, forever scarred by the old, ugly rabbit that kept gawking down at the earthly lethargy with its dull, eerie stare. He did it every time the moon’s face was round and at its fullest. And it sure happened this time.
Brian Splice peeled his gaze from the sky and cursed bitterly. He should have started his first day on the job Monday, nice and clean, if it wasn’t for a bunch of superstitious imbeciles who had called in sick, all because of the full moon. And because it was Friday the 13th. A total lunar eclipse night too. He walked out of the booth with lazy steps and rubbed his hands together, at times blowing in between his fingers to bring some warmth to the hollow of his palms. It was unusually cold for mid-October.
The silver curtains of moonlight stretched past the wired fence to the edge of the woods. Then darkness conquered light, opening an endless, hungry mouth as dark as the blackest soul. He shivered. God only knew what happened at night beyond the border of the forest. No, not God. That looked nothing like His territory.
Jesus. What am I thinking? Brian mused with irritation. All this ‘full moon, Friday the 13th’ business was messing with his head, that’s what it was. There was nothing wrong with the forest, or with starting a new job today. He had made damn sure he’d be transferred to the most boring, uneventful place a soldier could go; guarding a top secret NSA facility where nothing ever happened. The buildings were nestled right in the middle of an unbreakable stronghold, about a mile away from the forest, and separated by another three rows of barbed-wired barricades from the outer fence. Unreachable.
The moonlight grew fainter and the Earth’s shadow began to bite at the moon’s round face. A hungry rat nibbling at a stale slice of cheese.
Brian looked up again. It’s happening.
How creepy to see the moon’s trail become so narrow and dim. But even so, it stayed visible and red. As if bleeding inwardly with its own strangely colored blood. A curse following an erratic pattern of its own. Another few minutes and it will be gone.
Yes, it will be gone, he reassured himself.
The strident howling of the sirens made him flinch. He took a few unsteady steps toward the wired barricades and tripped on a rock. The lights turned on all at once and the buildings came to life in the distance, lighting up like a carousel at a carnival. Definitely not a drill. Cold terror swept through him from head to toe. He slid the belt of his rifle off his shoulder and turned the weapon forward hastily, clasping it hard with both hands until his knuckles turned white.
I’m safe. I’m safe. It’s all happening in the buildings, he chanted silently as he whirled on his heels, completing a full circle. Nothing in sight. I’m safe. I’m safe. It’s all happening in the buildings.
A scratching noise behind the booth made him jump.
“Who’s there?” he croaked, his finger shaking on the trigger. Take a deep breath, Brian. Deep breath. You’re a soldier, not a sissy.
Too bad it had been his father’s idea to send him to the army for the sake of his own political image. The overly polished senator risked to lose some of his shine if his son failed his patriotic duty or was demoted for unsatisfactory service.
“Who’s there?” Brian repeated a little more forcefully.
A little silhouette slipped out of the dark and inched its way toward him in silence.
Panic rose to Brian’s temples in pulsing storms. He extended his arms, clenching his weapon and engaged the trigger.
“Hold it right there,” he yelled. “Hold it or I will shoot you. Hands up.”
Two small hands rose in the air unhurriedly and stayed there, not far above a head covered by a fleece of tousled hair. Very light brown or very dark blond, Brian couldn’t quite decide.
The moonlight was slowly coming back. The soldier stretched his neck and squinted, trying to make out the features of the young boy standing in front of him, only a couple of yards away, staring with mild curiosity. Definitely not fear.
A child. Jesus Christ. Brian looked bewildered.
He grabbed his radio from his belt and pressed a button. “This is Private Splice, calling from Gate 14. I have a suspect in custody. Awaiting orders. Over.”
The radio came back to life in an instant. “Splice. This is Captain Huntley. Listen carefully to me. Do not shoot the suspect. I repeat. Do not shoot the suspect under any circumstances. And make sure you don’t touch him. Stay away from him. This is very important. Stay away from the suspect. Do you copy, Splice?”
“Affirmative, sir,” Brian shouted his compliance.
“We’ll be there in a couple of minutes. Over and out,” Captain Huntley announced. Then the radio went dead.
Silence lingered for a moment, only interrupted every now and then by the soft tapping of Brian’s nail as it trembled on the side of the trigger. His gaze scrutinized the boy’s face. It was calm and unreadable.
“What’s your name?” the boy asked, slowly dropping his hands.
A new wave of panic shook Brian from head to toe. “Hands up,” he yelled.
“Nah.” The boy crinkled his nose. “I’m tired. Besides, I’m not gonna wait for them.” He took a few small steps backward.
“Hands up or I’m going to…” Brian started shaking his rifle menacingly.
“You’re going to do what?” The boy raised his palms in the air questioningly. “Hit me in the head? Bash me? Knock me out? Cuz’ you sure can’t shoot me, I heard the guy.”
He began a leisurely walk around Brian, keeping a safe distance, his eyes scanning the soldier up and down with amused interest.
“Okay,” he said suddenly. “I’m going. See you later.”
He turned around and took off with lively steps.
Brian stared at him open-mouthed. “Hey. Hold it right there. Don’t move,” he exclaimed once he came back to his senses.
The boy ignored him and kept going, as if Brian were just a rotten stump.
Rage and disbelief mixed in Brian’s mind, only to make room for his sense of duty. Any second now the captain would arrive; he had to stop that child.
“Hey, kiddo, I told you not to move.”
He caught up with the boy in a few brisk steps, stuck the tip of his rifle right behind his ear and engaged the trigger once more.
“Just stop, for God’s sake,” he huffed.
“Are you going to shoot me?” the boy asked without turning his head.
Jesus! How long before the team would arrive? One mile to drive from the buildings over bare land was not much, but there were the three wired barricades to go through, each with their own sophisticated locking systems, even more complicated now at times of red alert.
“I’m not going to shoot you, but don’t make me hurt you, kid, because I will if I have to,” Brian warned him through clenched teeth.
The boy shot a side glance at him and suddenly turned around, starting back toward the gate.
“What are you doing?” Brian asked disconcerted.
“Going out,” the boy said. “I just realized the exit is back there.”
Raw fury began to throb through Brian’s temples. He wasn’t going to play games with this kid anymore.
“That’s it,” he said and landed a heavy hand on the boy’s shoulder. “You stop right now or…” His gaze met that of the kid’s for a moment. He stared into eyes that looked like liquid silver in the moonlight. Mercury silver.
“Okay,” the boy said. “I stopped. What’s your name?”
“Brian…”
The boy nodded slowly. “Good. I need your help, Brian. Are you going to help me?” He kept staring in the soldier’s eyes, watching as they glazed over.
“Yes, sure,” Brian answered. ‘What can I do for you?”
“For starters, you could open that gate for me.” The boy pointed toward the fence. “You can also let go of me now, okay?”
“Oh, of course.” Brian nodded.
He dropped his hand off the kid’s shoulder and walked back to the booth. A moment later there was a heavy magnetic click.
“Here we are.” He poked his head out. “Just pull the handle, and you’re all set to go.”
Two cars were fast approaching from the nearest barricade. The beams of their headlights wobbled up and down as their wheels bumped over the bare land.
“Thanks.” The boy winked at him. “Gotta go.”
He pushed the gate open just enough to slide his slim body out.
“Do you need something to warm you up? It’s cold out there,” Brian called after him.
The boy hesitated for a moment. “Yeah, that would be good, thanks.” He waited in silence for Brian to bring him his tunic, keeping a wary eye on the approaching cars.
“Take care of yourself, kiddo.” Brian waved, smiling foolishly.
He was already talking to the darkness. The forest had claimed its prize. The kid wasn’t there anymore.
“Splice.” The captain’s voice boomed from behind, making him flinch. “Where’s the boy?”
The Private turned around in surprise, taking in the massive man who jumped out of the first car before it stopped.
“He just left, sir,” he answered.
Captain Huntley came to an abrupt halt in front of him and stared open-mouthed.
“What did you just say?” he almost whispered.
“He just left, sir,” Brian repeated, looking at his superior a little disconcerted.
“Did you open the gate for him, Splice?” Captain Huntley asked.
He suddenly grabbed Brian’s chin and turned his face toward the moonlight to look into his eyes. Bright and clear.
“Yes, sir, I did. He asked me to,” Brian squeezed the words out of the captain’s grip.
“Which way did he go?” Huntley continued his interrogation, his gaze still drilling into Brian’s.
The soldier jerked his head toward the woods. “The forest, sir.”
“God dammit,” Huntley spat. He let go of the Private’s chin and stormed away. “Carter. Carrasco. Send all teams to search every inch of the woods with sniffer dogs. Get helicopters. Reinforcements. This is a code red situation. Search the river downstream. And don’t come back until you find MB1, do you hear me?” he rapid-fired the order.
“Yes, sir,” the men chorused their compliance.
He turned his back on them and squeezed out a tortured sigh just as his cell phone rang. He pulled it out of his pocket and looked at the number displayed on the screen.
“Good evening, sir,” he replied with a resigned tone. “We have a situation here.”
“What’s the situation, Huntley?” A sour voice sounded at the other end of the line.
He paused for a moment to swallow hard before answering. “We have an escapee, sir. Our mindbender.”
“Jesus Christ. How did that happen?”
Captain Huntley ran a hand over his day’s worth of stubble. “I don’t know the details just yet, sir, an investigation is underway as we speak. All I can tell you is that he touched a guard from the outer fence, and the guard let him out after that.”
“Are you telling me it took you that long to find out he had escaped the building, Huntley?” The voice broke out angrily.
“No, sir, we arrived at the scene in two minutes tops after the guard told us he had MB1 in custody,” Huntley replied.
“But the scientists said the boy needed at least ten minutes to link. Are you now telling me he linked in less than two minutes?”
“So it seems, sir.” In fact, it must have taken a lot less than two minutes, Huntley thought.
“Is there a chance that the full moon may have heightened his senses?” The voice pressed.
Huntley looked up for a moment. There it was, pale, scarred and eerie. “That I wouldn’t know, sir. I’m a captain, not a scientist. But I can reassure you that we are doing all we can to get him back. He won’t get very far, he’s only fourteen.”
The voice exploded in his ear like a firecracker. “He’s only fourteen and he was able to break out of a high security facility. What sort of guards do you have if your mindbender can link with them in less than two minutes? Don’t you put them through a psychological test before you station them?”
Huntley stuttered. “Y-yes, we do, sir. But maybe you’re right. Maybe his senses are heightened by the full moon.”
“Can he read minds too?”
“I think he can, sir, but I doubt he can do it from a distance, if that’s what you mean,” Huntley said. “I don’t think he’ll be able to figure out our strategy. And he’ll most probably try to go downstream. Upstream would be suicide. We’ll get him, don’t you worry.”
“You better, Huntley, or I’ll have your skin.”
And with that he hung up.
“No you won’t, dammit.” Huntley clenched his cell phone in his hand with rage.
The darkness of the forest was for once conquered by light. Dozens of flashlights were sparkling in its blanket like dazzling diamonds. Powerful helicopter beams shot down from the sky, dancing their way through the untouched wilderness. Deflowering it.
“Do you think he’ll be all right, sir?” Brian Splice’s voice made Huntley turn around.
Huntley stared at him as if he were insane.
“The boy, I mean,” Brian persisted. “It’s cold out there. But I gave him my tunic. Not much of a loss for me. I hope it’s warm enough for him.”
Huntley kept quiet for a moment then nodded slowly. “You know what, Splice? You’re right; your tunic is not much of a loss. It’s just that you gave away your insignia with it, you idiot.” And he walked away without another word.
 

Sunday, 16 February 2014

New novel coming up

Over the past few months I started several new projects and shelved them just as fast. I eventually conceded that I can't write at the moment, so I decided to work on one of my first books instead of whining over my writer's block. 'Why do birds fly' will make you laugh, then cry, taking you on a roller coaster of twists and turns, sweet romance and heartbreaking events. A very simply written book (testimony of my early days) that I always loved, but for some reason I kept tucked away, never daring to release it. Will you love it as much as I do? I guess you can only find out if you read it.
No publication date has been set as yet. I am currently polishing it with the help of my new editor, my gorgeous husband-to-be Mike.
Here is an excerpt of 'Why do birds fly'.
 
Chapter 1
The flash of light licked along the ceiling for a fraction of a second. No, he wasn’t dreaming, he’d seen it twice in the walk-in wardrobe. Alex Sanders tensed, his ears straining to hear any sound coming from that room. He stared quietly in the dark toward the open door, holding his head raised from the pillow until the muscles at the back of his neck started to hurt in protest.
I’m imagining things, he mused with irritation, falling back on the mattress. Of course it was only his imagination; the hour was way too advanced for anyone else to be in the house at this time of the night.
The light flickered once more, shortly reflecting in the bedroom mirror.  He shot up again, looking tensely toward the door. The moonlight was slipping in-between the curtains, shedding a long stretch of silver on the carpet. He stared dumbfounded at the black shadow that crossed it for the briefest time, heading eerily for the living room. The sound of muffled steps moving away rapped in his ears. His heart started racing erratically, sending furious thuds in his temples.
Think, think, he mused again, staring helplessly toward the empty doorway. The light flashed in the adjacent room, dancing fleetingly on the wall.
Alex took a deep breath and pulled the covers away, considering grabbing the cell phone from the night table.  He gazed hesitantly toward the living room. The doorway stared back at him in the dark, gaping wide its pitch black frame. He stood up and started for it with slow, measured steps, straining his eyes to grasp as much detail as he could.
His gaze glided around the living room, struggling to make out contours and shapes in the darkness. Nothing more than the familiar outlines of his furniture, he noticed with a surge of relief. He took another few steps, careful to muffle the sound in the thick carpet. The light suddenly flashed in the study, and this time it stayed turned on. He froze only two feet away from the door, subconsciously holding his breath.
Click! Click! Click! The faint noise was unmistakable.
I can’t believe it, Alex mused, bewildered. No, I must be dreaming. He peeked through the door opening and withdrew in a heartbeat.
The room was dimly lit by a flashlight that had been laid flat on the edge of his desk. Clad in black from head to toe, the intruder was facing the safe, leaning over it to hear the clicking sound of the drive pin as the drive cam spun the wheels inside the locking mechanism.
Alex stretched his neck to take another look at the thief, his gaze lingering a little over the small built of the black silhouette. Frantic thoughts started racing through his mind. There was no way out from the study other than through the door, he knew it. There was no way to trap the burglar in either. Too bad he’d never considered installing a lock. He bit his lip in indecision.
The series of clicks continued in slow cadence, stopping once for a few moments when a wheel in the wheel pack was picked up.
Alex closed his eyes and slowly let the air out of his lungs through puckered lips then lunged with lightning speed toward the intruder, locking his arms around him in a deadly grip. The thief froze in shock for a moment then started uttering labored grunts as he struggled furiously to ease the suffocating grasp. Alex firmed his hold, raising his prey off the ground. A piercing pain in his shin knocked the breath out of him. He dropped the intruder without thinking and reached down to his injured leg, barely holding his balance.  Waves of pain kept stabbing him, searing, throbbing, excruciating.
His head snapped up as the burglar bolted for the door, his slim body rocketing across the room in a huge, feline leap. The door was only feet away when the black silhouette flew through the air and hit the floor, his head crushing against the corner of the desk with a sickening thud.
Alex stood frozen in the middle of the room, staring blankly at the limp body that lay on the floor. Maybe he’d tripped the burglar over, or it could have been the leg of the chair negligently left on the side of the desk, he couldn’t tell. He crouched down and started poking at the intruder’s ribs with the tips of his fingers. The body rolled slightly to one side, the head twisting backward in an unnatural position.  Alex gasped.
No, this is a joke. It can’t be happening to me, he thought with desperation. He scooped the body up in his arms and strode back to his bedroom, colliding with an armchair as he blindly walked through the living room. The moonlight was still stretching silver curtains across the bedroom, making it easier for him to watch his step. He unceremoniously dropped the body on the bed and rushed back to his study. Where did I put them? He mused, staring around with irritation.  His gaze restlessly swept the room for a while, lingering at times over the mahogany filing cabinets. There, he remembered, impatiently rummaging through a cupboard drawer to pull out a pair of handcuffs. 
The bedroom was strangely quiet. The silence imprinted by the specter of death hovering around, Alex thought with a shiver. He stopped on the side of the bed and clutched the handcuffs in his hand, staring down in the dark at the black silhouette.
“Just in case,” he said out loud, clicking one cuff over the burglar’s left wrist.
He jerked the limp arm to run the chain behind one of the rounded bars of the headboard and clicked the second cuff over the right wrist, tugging hard to check that it had securely locked in place.
“I’m shackling a cadaver,” he exclaimed in disbelief. And I’m talking to myself too, he mused, shaking his head.
He felt blindly on the night table for his phone and stalked out of the room, clenching it in his hand. The small flashlight was still turned on in the study, its beam slowly fading away. He turned the light on and tapped the screen of his cell phone with feverish fingers.
“Daniel,” he yelled without any introduction, “I need you here right now.”
Daniel Shelton rubbed his eyes with the tips of his fingers and propped himself on one elbow. “What’s happening, Alex? Are you sick?” he asked, his voice still rugged from the deep sleep.
“I’m not,” Alex replied with impatience. He stopped to take a deep breath. “I have a stranger in my bed. I think I killed him,” he said.
Silence fell at the other end of the line for a moment.  “Really now. Are you all right? Did you have a nightmare?” Daniel asked after a while.
Alex felt his temple boiling. “Daniel,” he snapped. “Just get out of bed and be here in five, do you hear me? I’m not joking. I’ll let the guys know you’re coming.”
He hung up unceremoniously and ruffled his hair, staring around the room. 2:04 a.m., he noticed, absently glancing at the clock. Adrenalin charged, he tapped the screen of his cell phone again.
“Frank,” he said, “Doctor Shelton will arrive here shortly. Let him in without delay.” Then he broke off the connection.
He started pacing the room with large, brisk steps, at times stopping to strain his ears for a sound. Any sound that might come from the bedroom. But death doesn’t make any sound.
* * * *
Until my next post, my best regards to everyone!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Friday, 14 February 2014

The entire 'Mindbender' series is now available on Amazon Worldwide. Check out the third instalment that was released today at http://www.amazon.com/Mindbender-Book-Three-Lillian-Summers-ebook/dp/B00I1IZ6CK/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1392408312&sr=8-3&keywords=mindbender+Lillian+Summers  

To celebrate the release, 'Mindbender Book One' will be available free of charge on Amazon on Saturday February 15th, 2014 (PDT).

The first and second volumes can be found at:
http://www.amazon.com/Mindbender-Book-One-Lillian-Summers-ebook/dp/B00I48UOV0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1391045894&sr=8-1&keywords=mindbender+Lillian+Summers  

And:

http://www.amazon.com/Mindbender-Book-Two-Lillian-Summers-ebook/dp/B00IARRWL0/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1391830356&sr=1-1&keywords=mindbender+book+two

Here are the book covers, for those who have not seen them yet.


 

And here is a free sample:
PROLOGUE

Friday, October 13th, 2000

NSA, PR12 facility, somewhere near Clearwater River, Idaho

 

The moon was flat and pale, forever scarred by the old, ugly rabbit that kept gawking down at the earthly lethargy with its dull, eerie stare. He did it every time the moon’s face was round and at its fullest. And it sure happened this time.

Brian Splice peeled his gaze from the sky and cursed bitterly. He should have started his first day on the job Monday, nice and clean, if it wasn’t for a bunch of superstitious imbeciles who had called in sick, all because of the full moon. And because it was Friday the 13th. A total lunar eclipse night too. He walked out of the booth with lazy steps and rubbed his hands together, at times blowing in between his fingers to bring some warmth to the hollow of his palms. It was unusually cold for mid-October.

The silver curtains of moonlight stretched past the wired fence to the edge of the woods. Then darkness conquered light, opening an endless, hungry mouth as dark as the blackest soul. He shivered. God only knew what happened at night beyond the border of the forest. No, not God. That looked nothing like His territory.

Jesus. What am I thinking? Brian mused with irritation. All this ‘full moon, Friday the 13th’ business was messing with his head, that’s what it was. There was nothing wrong with the forest, or with starting a new job today. He had made damn sure he’d be transferred to the most boring, uneventful place a soldier could go; guarding a top secret NSA facility where nothing ever happened. The buildings were nestled right in the middle of an unbreakable stronghold, about a mile away from the forest, and separated by another three rows of barbed-wired barricades from the outer fence. Unreachable.

The moonlight grew fainter and the Earth’s shadow began to bite at the moon’s round face. A hungry rat nibbling at a stale slice of cheese.

Brian looked up again. It’s happening.

How creepy to see the moon’s trail become so narrow and dim. But even so, it stayed visible and red. As if bleeding inwardly with its own strangely colored blood. A curse following an erratic pattern of its own. Another few minutes and it will be gone.

Yes, it will be gone, he reassured himself.

The strident howling of the sirens made him flinch. He took a few unsteady steps toward the wired barricades and tripped on a rock. The lights turned on all at once and the buildings came to life in the distance, lighting up like a carousel at a carnival. Definitely not a drill. Cold terror swept through him from head to toe. He slid the belt of his rifle off his shoulder and turned the weapon forward hastily, clasping it hard with both hands until his knuckles turned white.

I’m safe. I’m safe. It’s all happening in the buildings, he chanted silently as he whirled on his heels, completing a full circle. Nothing in sight. I’m safe. I’m safe. It’s all happening in the buildings.

A scratching noise behind the booth made him jump.

“Who’s there?” he croaked, his finger shaking on the trigger. Take a deep breath, Brian. Deep breath. You’re a soldier, not a sissy.

Too bad it had been his father’s idea to send him to the army for the sake of his own political image. The overly polished senator risked to lose some of his shine if his son failed his patriotic duty or was demoted for unsatisfactory service.

“Who’s there?” Brian repeated a little more forcefully.

A little silhouette slipped out of the dark and inched its way toward him in silence.

Panic rose to Brian’s temples in pulsing storms. He extended his arms, clenching his weapon and engaged the trigger.

“Hold it right there,” he yelled. “Hold it or I will shoot you. Hands up.”

Two small hands rose in the air unhurriedly and stayed there, not far above a head covered by a fleece of tousled hair. Very light brown or very dark blond, Brian couldn’t quite decide.

The moonlight was slowly coming back. The soldier stretched his neck and squinted, trying to make out the features of the young boy standing in front of him, only a couple of yards away, staring with mild curiosity. Definitely not fear.

A child. Jesus Christ. Brian looked bewildered.

He grabbed his radio from his belt and pressed a button. “This is Private Splice, calling from Gate 14. I have a suspect in custody. Awaiting orders. Over.”

The radio came back to life in an instant. “Splice. This is Captain Huntley. Listen carefully to me. Do not shoot the suspect. I repeat. Do not shoot the suspect under any circumstances. And make sure you don’t touch him. Stay away from him. This is very important. Stay away from the suspect. Do you copy, Splice?”

“Affirmative, sir,” Brian shouted his compliance.

“We’ll be there in a couple of minutes. Over and out,” Captain Huntley announced. Then the radio went dead.

Silence lingered for a moment, only interrupted every now and then by the soft tapping of Brian’s nail as it trembled on the side of the trigger. His gaze scrutinized the boy’s face. It was calm and unreadable.

“What’s your name?” the boy asked, slowly dropping his hands.

A new wave of panic shook Brian from head to toe. “Hands up,” he yelled.

“Nah.” The boy crinkled his nose. “I’m tired. Besides, I’m not gonna wait for them.” He took a few small steps backward.

“Hands up or I’m going to…” Brian started shaking his rifle menacingly.

“You’re going to do what?” The boy raised his palms in the air questioningly. “Hit me in the head? Bash me? Knock me out? Cuz’ you sure can’t shoot me, I heard the guy.”

He began a leisurely walk around Brian, keeping a safe distance, his eyes scanning the soldier up and down with amused interest.

“Okay,” he said suddenly. “I’m going. See you later.”

He turned around and took off with lively steps.

Brian stared at him open-mouthed. “Hey. Hold it right there. Don’t move,” he exclaimed once he came back to his senses.

The boy ignored him and kept going, as if Brian were just a rotten stump.

Rage and disbelief mixed in Brian’s mind, only to make room for his sense of duty. Any second now the captain would arrive; he had to stop that child.

“Hey, kiddo, I told you not to move.”

He caught up with the boy in a few brisk steps, stuck the tip of his rifle right behind his ear and engaged the trigger once more.

“Just stop, for God’s sake,” he huffed.

“Are you going to shoot me?” the boy asked without turning his head.

Jesus! How long before the team would arrive? One mile to drive from the buildings over bare land was not much, but there were the three wired barricades to go through, each with their own sophisticated locking systems, even more complicated now at times of red alert.

“I’m not going to shoot you, but don’t make me hurt you, kid, because I will if I have to,” Brian warned him through clenched teeth.

The boy shot a side glance at him and suddenly turned around, starting back toward the gate.

“What are you doing?” Brian asked disconcerted.

“Going out,” the boy said. “I just realized the exit is back there.”

Raw fury began to throb through Brian’s temples. He wasn’t going to play games with this kid anymore.

“That’s it,” he said and landed a heavy hand on the boy’s shoulder. “You stop right now or…” His gaze met that of the kid’s for a moment. He stared into eyes that looked like liquid silver in the moonlight. Mercury silver.

“Okay,” the boy said. “I stopped. What’s your name?”

“Brian…”

The boy nodded slowly. “Good. I need your help, Brian. Are you going to help me?” He kept staring in the soldier’s eyes, watching as they glazed over.

“Yes, sure,” Brian answered. ‘What can I do for you?”

“For starters, you could open that gate for me.” The boy pointed toward the fence. “You can also let go of me now, okay?”

“Oh, of course.” Brian nodded.

He dropped his hand off the kid’s shoulder and walked back to the booth. A moment later there was a heavy magnetic click.

“Here we are.” He poked his head out. “Just pull the handle, and you’re all set to go.”

Two cars were fast approaching from the nearest barricade. The beams of their headlights wobbled up and down as their wheels bumped over the bare land.

“Thanks.” The boy winked at him. “Gotta go.”

He pushed the gate open just enough to slide his slim body out.

“Do you need something to warm you up? It’s cold out there,” Brian called after him.

The boy hesitated for a moment. “Yeah, that would be good, thanks.” He waited in silence for Brian to bring him his tunic, keeping a wary eye on the approaching cars.

“Take care of yourself, kiddo.” Brian waved, smiling foolishly.

He was already talking to the darkness. The forest had claimed its prize. The kid wasn’t there anymore.

“Splice.” The captain’s voice boomed from behind, making him flinch. “Where’s the boy?”

The Private turned around in surprise, taking in the massive man who jumped out of the first car before it stopped.

“He just left, sir,” he answered.

Captain Huntley came to an abrupt halt in front of him and stared open-mouthed.

“What did you just say?” he almost whispered.

“He just left, sir,” Brian repeated, looking at his superior a little disconcerted.

“Did you open the gate for him, Splice?” Captain Huntley asked.

He suddenly grabbed Brian’s chin and turned his face toward the moonlight to look into his eyes. Bright and clear.

“Yes, sir, I did. He asked me to,” Brian squeezed the words out of the captain’s grip.

“Which way did he go?” Huntley continued his interrogation, his gaze still drilling into Brian’s.

The soldier jerked his head toward the woods. “The forest, sir.”

“God dammit,” Huntley spat. He let go of the Private’s chin and stormed away. “Carter. Carrasco. Send all teams to search every inch of the woods with sniffer dogs. Get helicopters. Reinforcements. This is a code red situation. Search the river downstream. And don’t come back until you find MB1, do you hear me?” he rapid-fired the order.

“Yes, sir,” the men chorused their compliance.

He turned his back on them and squeezed out a tortured sigh just as his cell phone rang. He pulled it out of his pocket and looked at the number displayed on the screen.

“Good evening, sir,” he replied with a resigned tone. “We have a situation here.”

“What’s the situation, Huntley?” A sour voice sounded at the other end of the line.

He paused for a moment to swallow hard before answering. “We have an escapee, sir. Our mindbender.”

“Jesus Christ. How did that happen?”

Captain Huntley ran a hand over his day’s worth of stubble. “I don’t know the details just yet, sir, an investigation is underway as we speak. All I can tell you is that he touched a guard from the outer fence, and the guard let him out after that.”

“Are you telling me it took you that long to find out he had escaped the building, Huntley?” The voice broke out angrily.

“No, sir, we arrived at the scene in two minutes tops after the guard told us he had MB1 in custody,” Huntley replied.

“But the scientists said the boy needed at least ten minutes to link. Are you now telling me he linked in less than two minutes?”

“So it seems, sir.” In fact, it must have taken a lot less than two minutes, Huntley thought.

“Is there a chance that the full moon may have heightened his senses?” The voice pressed.

Huntley looked up for a moment. There it was, pale, scarred and eerie. “That I wouldn’t know, sir. I’m a captain, not a scientist. But I can reassure you that we are doing all we can to get him back. He won’t get very far, he’s only fourteen.”

The voice exploded in his ear like a firecracker. “He’s only fourteen and he was able to break out of a high security facility. What sort of guards do you have if your mindbender can link with them in less than two minutes? Don’t you put them through a psychological test before you station them?”

Huntley stuttered. “Y-yes, we do, sir. But maybe you’re right. Maybe his senses are heightened by the full moon.”

“Can he read minds too?”

“I think he can, sir, but I doubt he can do it from a distance, if that’s what you mean,” Huntley said. “I don’t think he’ll be able to figure out our strategy. And he’ll most probably try to go downstream. Upstream would be suicide. We’ll get him, don’t you worry.”

“You better, Huntley, or I’ll have your skin.”

And with that he hung up.

“No you won’t, dammit.” Huntley clenched his cell phone in his hand with rage.

The darkness of the forest was for once conquered by light. Dozens of flashlights were sparkling in its blanket like dazzling diamonds. Powerful helicopter beams shot down from the sky, dancing their way through the untouched wilderness. Deflowering it.

“Do you think he’ll be all right, sir?” Brian Splice’s voice made Huntley turn around.

Huntley stared at him as if he were insane.

“The boy, I mean,” Brian persisted. “It’s cold out there. But I gave him my tunic. Not much of a loss for me. I hope it’s warm enough for him.”

Huntley kept quiet for a moment then nodded slowly. “You know what, Splice? You’re right; your tunic is not much of a loss. It’s just that you gave away your insignia with it, you idiot.” And he walked away without another word.