Friday, April 20, 2012
Inside Passage to Murder available from JMS Books!
My first mainstream novel under my pseudonym Alan Scott is a continuation of the Corey Shaw mysteries featuring the Psionic Corps. This first novel features his colleague, Mark Shotridge from Alaska.
Paranormal sleuth Mark Shotridge has a dream that indicates a cruise ship operating in Alaskan waters is in trouble. He books passage on the ship to investigate his vision. After leaving Seward the first night at sea, Mark has another vision that suggests someone has been thrown overboard into the icy waters of the north Pacific. However, nobody is reported missing and Mark begins to question his special abilities.
Soon crew member is found murdered in his cabin and Mark is certain that there is more going on than he originally suspected. The body count rises and he realizes that a serial killer might be on board but what is the reason behind the murders?
Mark must use all of his powers to stop a ruthless killer before the ship docks in Vancouver, British Columbia. Otherwise the tourism industry and the economy of Alaska may be destroyed.
Mark Shotridge stirred in his bed, consciousness gripping hold of his body. Something had disturbed his sleep. He tucked his arms back underneath the warm covers and listened, trying to determine what woke him. Nothing in the house stirred and he couldn’t discern anything moving around outside either, except for the rain water making soft noises as it dropped off of the eaves of the house but too quiet to have roused him.
“Typical September weather for southeastern Alaska,” he grumbled, rubbing his eyes as he grasped for reality from the disorientation that came from being yanked out of a deep sleep. The dim gray light filtering through the windows told him the sun hadn’t risen yet.
So much for sleeping in on a Sunday morning. Mark sat up, swung his legs over the side of the bed and tried to rid his head of the sleep that hung onto his brain.
He walked over to the window, peeked through the slats in the blinds and blinked at the gray light, bright in comparison to the darkness of the bedroom.
In the distance, heavy clouds hung low over Juneau. He wrinkled his nose at the musty odor of all pervading dampness that seeped into every nook and cranny of his house.
The short summer was fading fast, he sighed. It seemed like winter came to Alaska earlier every year. And stayed longer.
What could send an SOS? His thoughts returned to his sudden awakening.
His house sat on a hill north of the Alaskan capitol, overlooking Gastineau Inlet, the new housing addition lay in a rural area, with undeveloped land all around. He could have been awakened by a wild animal wandering past as they were prone to do. Bears were a frequent sight, foraging for food in the humans’ habitats, but Mark couldn’t see any evidence of one passing, the usual sign of which was trash strewn across the yard. Moose, also not uncommon in these parts, tended to leave the trash alone.
In the distance a dog barked two or three times, the sound too soft to have awakened him. Besides which, if a bear or a moose were anywhere nearby, every dog in the neighborhood would be engaged in a frenzy of barking.
Across the bay, Mark could just make out the lights of the city of Douglas. Traffic was just starting to pick up on the Glacier Highway, running north and south far below his house, past the bay into the capitol toward the docks where the cruise ships disgorged hundreds of tourists each week. He couldn’t see the highway from his house, but the sound of traffic running toward the capitol just reached his ears. Cruise ships?
Save Our Ship.
Something clicked in his mind. A half remembered dream. That’s what had wakened him. He had a dream with a cruise ship in it. Something like that seemed rather innocuous so why had that disturbed him so much that it had awakened him?
He returned to the bed and lay back down on top of the covers, resisting the impulse to luxuriate in the comfort underneath them, and placed his hands behind his head, crossing his legs at the ankles. He closed his eyes in an effort to recollect his dream. Pieces came back together one at a time, fitting together like a jigsaw puzzle, forming a picture in his mind.
No, not a jigsaw puzzle. It was more like scenes of a movie watched long ago and long since forgotten, trying to reassemble and recreate the story. Who were the performers? Where was it set? What was the plot? With mental effort, the fog in his brain dissipated and he began to relax, grasping at each scene, latching on to its familiarity and allowing it to grow, as the movie scenes spliced together. Piece by piece, it solidified in his mind.
* * * *
A cruise ship sat moored at a dock near a less-than-picturesque sea side town that resembled a terminal for cargo and commercial ships rather than passenger vessels. Forklifts littered the deck, parked at random like a child’s toys, as if the drivers had jumped out of their seats without turning them off or lowering the lifts. Large metal bins for stowing cargo lay scattered about, doors hanging open but revealing only emptiness inside. Wide silver conduits that transported oil, gas and other liquid commodities ran the length of the dock.
Despite its commercial purpose, the dock was quiet. What should have been a bustling terminal seemed all but deserted. Sea gulls, the ever-present denizens of sea side communities with their incessant screeching and plaintive cries, did not circle overhead. The town’s main purpose appeared to be for industry or manufacturing, rather than recreation or a sea side resort. It also exhibited no signs of life, as if the inhabitants had evacuated in a silent exodus. The weather reflected the setting of the dock, very gray and cool, seeming to drain any festive mood of a cruise ship. There was no color to the scene, as everything appeared to be shades of black, gray and white, like a much worn clip of an old black and white horror picture show.
* * * *
Mark opened his eyes. He felt there was more to the dream but nothing else emerged. He remained on the bed, staring up at the ceiling, trying to interpret this strange reverie. What was it trying to tell him?
He’d received images and visions before, but to get a premonition in the form of a dream was rare. And very disconcerting. His ability allowed him to foresee events before they occurred but only in close proximity and in the very near future. Visions came in spontaneous, quick flashes of precognition, lasting for only an instant. Unpredictable and uncontrollable, his power surprised him when these revelations occurred. In these ‘signs’, Mark was only an outside observer, able to watch the events as they unfolded and not being able to participate.
But this form of clairsentience, precognition in dreams, seemed to be getting more frequent.
The word came back to his mind.
What does this dream mean?