Friday, August 31, 2007
As the scene opens a young wife in Mid-Victorian New England has recieved a letter and a plea - coupled with a warning from her husband. He is on a desparate mission to recover an object of great and terrible power that has been stolen from his keeping. The thief has also murdered a companion and robbed the young man of all of the funds with which he had been entrusted to persue the criminal.
So now he is forced to ask his teenage wife to secure the remainder of the money and bring it to him.
But he also must give her a warning. There is something else besides the money in the dark cellar. Something that does not like being disturbed.
Excerpt from The Scrimshaw: Coming in the Fall of 2008
"This brings me to what I must ask of you my loyal wife. Were there some other way - but there is not. I am now bereft of all of my funds as the thief Tanner left me not a single coin. I have been forced to borrow the price of a train ticket to New Bedford from innkeeper Hows. I swore to him that I would repay him but he would have none of it. He said to just bring the thieving black dog back to Sudbury to stand trial for the murder of John Twin-Hawks. I promised to do all in my power to bring him to justice. And that is where I need your help my dear one. You must go into the room in the cellar where I keep the scrimshaws, which I know you despise, as please believe me - so do I! There, go to the northwest corner of the room and pull up the third floorboard from the right-hand wall. You will find a strong box containing a portion of the gold eagles. You must bring them to me in New Bedford so that I may continue my pursuit of Tanner.
Once you reach New Bedford, take a goodly room at the Bristol Hotel down by the harbor. It is there I will come to you.
One final instruction. Nay – a plea from one who loves you more than his own life. Leave today my love. Do not linger another hour in the house on Skaket creek.
Upon finishing the reading of this letter, go straight to the house. Pack your valise. Then while the sun still shines through the cellar window upon the scrimshaws, go to that room and retrieve the gold. But I implore you. Do not tarry! You must be out of that house and away before sunset. I fear that in his selfish and cruel greed, Tanner has set something in motion that only the hand of God with my poor help, can set right.
Come to me with all speed, my own dear wife.
Your devoted and loving husband
Fiona's hands trembled again. But this time she was afraid that no amount of willpower could stop them.
The pages fluttered from her fingers into the sand. She reached down absently and gathered them up. Then stuffing them into the damp pocket of her still wet dress, she started up the path to the house. She looked up at her home, but for the first time with fear. A dark cloud passed over the sun, plunging the house into wavering shadows. It looked somehow - sinister. As though there was a dark and brooding presence waiting there. Something evil. Waiting. Waiting for her.
She thought about the noises she'd been hearing at night recently. A shuffling and a creaking sound. But now they no longer seemed like the normal, friendly sounds of a new house settling on its foundation. They seemed dark and - evil.
Calling on the last remains of her Scotts/Irish courage, she walked quickly into the house. She threw clothes into her old carpetbag and hurriedly rushed down the stairs without even bothering to change her sea-stained dress. The worst part was entering the cellar room.
Clutching her tiny gold crucifix in one hand and reciting the Lord's prayer in a continuing litany, she quickly found and pulled up the floorboard. She grabbed the strongbox, tore it open and up-ended its contents of gold coins into her carpetbag walked to the door. She had just reached the threshold when a wind from nowhere blew it shut - right in her face. She reached out her hand, slippery with the sweat of cold fear and turned the handle. It wouldn't budge.
No. Oh no!
Once again a spiteful cloud passed over the sun and the room was thrown into shadows. The creaking noise began.
"Oh sweet merciful Mary - Mother of God," she prayed, "Please help me. Don't let me die here - in this awful place, I pray you. My husband needs me. I must go to him. He needs me. And you know sweet Mary, that I - I – am, and will be - needed. Oh please - help me!"
The tears poured down her face as the sounds of creaking timbers and rising wind became louder. "No! Please!" She gave one last desperate tug on the door handle it. And it turned.
Still blinded by tears and goaded by terror, she fled blindly up the stairs, out the back door of the house and into the carriage shed. She threw the carpetbag into the surrey, dragged their old mare into the harness traces and frantically urged the poor old horse into a trot.
"Come-on old Bess. Please girl. Run, yes run! That's a good old girl,” she sobbed gratefully as the horse picked up speed.
She didn't look back as the ocean wind blew the sandy dust away from the surreys tracks. But all the way down the dirt road, she could feel the stare of something evil. Watching her leave. And waiting.
Shadow of Innocence
Kunati - April 2007
Ric Wasley has spent almost forty years wandering through corporate board - rooms and honky-tonk bars. He now divides his time between writing mystery novels – Shadow of Innocence & Acid Test - McCarthy Family Mysteries – and observing the really ‘juicy parts’ of the human condition
New from Kunati Publishing: SHADOW OF INNOCENCE - The Newport Folk Festival provides a groovy backdrop for this fun and exciting mystery set in the music and drug soaked sixties. The Baby Boomers and everyone else are sure to enjoy this appealing mystery featuring a pair of musician partners in love and danger. Don't miss Shadow of Innocence From Kunati Publishing. Available now on; Amazon ,Barnes & Noble and at bookstores everywhere.
Today marks the end of my month long virtual book tour, and I will confess, I am exhausted! It's been a long time since I've written these many articles and answered these many interviews. :) But I had so much fun visiting all of my hosts' wonderful sites, getting to know them and answering questions from visitors via email or comments.
Thank you! You have all made my 'Touring the World' virtual book tour a success! And I look forward to doing it again.
For today's stop, and because I had so many email requests, I have given you chapter 2 of my new unpublished novel, Children of the Fog.
You will notice a "book cover". This is something I designed to inspire me and it is not intended to be the actual cover. In fact, I'm hoping my publisher will come up with something even more eerie and creepy and foggy. :) On the back of my mock up cover is the following text:
Would you let a monster take your child?
A mother's descent into alcoholism and madness leads to strange apparitions and a face-to-face encounter with the monster who abducted her son--a man known only as...
Sadie O'Connell is a bestselling author and a proud mother. But her life is about to spiral out of control.
After her six-year-old son Sam is kidnapped by a serial abductor known as The Fog, she nearly goes insane. But it isn't just the fear and grief that is ripping her apart. It's the guilt.
She is the only person who knows what The Fog looks like. And she can't tell a soul. For if she does, her son will be sent back to her in "little bloody pieces".
When her unfaithful husband stumbles across a drawing of The Fog, he sets into play a series of horrific events that sends Sadie hurtling over the edge. Unable to deal with her pain, she drowns her sorrow the only way she knows.
"Tardif specializes in mile-a-minute pot-boiler mysteries." --Edmonton Sun
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Two days to go on my 'Touring the World' virtual book tour. Today, I have to remind those of you who ordered Whale Song on August 12th as part of my 44 Prizes contest to remember to email me with your Amazon shipping confirmation. The first 44 emails I receive will WIN FREE BOOKS! For more info, please check my contests page.
And now...for today's stop. Today I am visiting Newspaper Rock, an interesting blog that discusses native topics and pop culture. I have read many of Rob Schmidt's posts and find them very thought-provoking. Today he interviews me in a 2-part post.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Dress is forties style and there will be a variety of prizes for costume and other contests as well as solving the mystery.
Friday, August 24, 2007
The following is a sinister Amazon Short
by Cheryl Kaye Tardif…
© 2006 Cheryl Kaye Tardif
When my sister, Belle, vanished back in 1956, I lost more than you could possibly imagine. And in the last fifty years, I've never told anyone what I saw. That summer day, I lost a part of my family, a piece of my heart…and I think I lost my soul as well.
In 1956, on the morning of the Calgary Summer Carnival, my baby sister and I were so giddy with excitement that our mother threatened to ground us for bad behavior. There's no worse punishment on the face of this earth than being left behind on Summer Carnival day.Well, maybe there's one worse thing.
That morning, in the front seat of my father's pickup truck, we were crammed together like cattle at an auction. Some of the stuffing in the seat had escaped, but my father made a half-hearted attempt at fixing it by placing strips of black tape across its gaping wounds. Black tape, however, couldn't fix the broken windshield. It had rock chips in it the size of plum pits. A long spidery crack ran across the passenger side in front of me, cutting the trees and road in half. I had visions of the windshield breaking and driving sharp pieces of glass into us.
"Caroline, you have such an awful imagination," my mother scolded me when I told her my fear. "Why can't ya be more like Belle? She's not worryin'. Are ya, baby?"
Belle, in her new blue dress, patted my arm and then smiled up at our mother. "It's gonna be a perfect day."
I glared at my sister. Traitor!
Pouting all the way to town, I refused to even look at Belle. I plotted all the terrible things I would do to her―like make her eat candy until she puked. I'd make Belle pay. Somehow.
Upon reaching the Summer Carnival grounds, the truck lurched to a stop and dropped us in the middle of the parking lot. The scorching sun beamed down on us, and I swear we could have fried eggs and sausages on that road.
My father's heavy hand clamped down upon the top of my head. In his other hand, he held out three dollars.
"You watch your sister now," he said sternly. "Me an' your ma have to talk to somebody about some hay, so Belle's your responsibility. You hear me, girl?"
Belle’s always my responsibility, I wanted to say. But being only eleven years old, I didn't have the courage.
So I nodded and snatched the money before he changed his mind. And then I spent the entire morning following my sister around the carnival grounds. She picked the rides we went on and the treats we ate. Everything was about Belle, and by lunch, I was tired of it.
Midway through the afternoon, I had a strange feeling. It felt like hungry eyes were watching us―devouring us. Every now and then, I made Belle stop walking, just so I could peer into the crowd. Faces came and went, but I saw nothing out of the ordinary. No one was paying any attention to us.
Or so I thought.
By suppertime, the feeling that we were being watched was so intense that I was sure I'd be sick. I tried to ignore the strange uneasiness tugging at the pit of my stomach. But it was impossible. I could feel a storm brewing. Yet, when I looked up at the sky, there wasn't a cloud in sight.
Belle's easy laughter caught my attention and I turned to watch her while she rode the Spinning Tops. After the ride was over, I followed her to the candy store, unable to take my gaze off her sparkling eyes and cherry-pink smile.
I had always been envious of Belle―with her long, blond, sun-kissed hair and sky-blue eyes. At five years old, my sister was the apple of my father's eye. And according to my mother, you could have made a whole pie out of her. I, on the other hand, was a 'plain Jane’, as my father often reminded me. I was cursed with dirt-brown hair and my eyes were the color of ripe manure sizzling on the pavement. I'd never be the apple of anyone's eye.
When we reached the candy store, a woman behind the counter gave Belle a lollipop. I had to pay for mine, but my sister's was free.
"Because you're just so pretty and sweet," the woman told Belle. "An angel from Heaven, if I ever did see one."
She squinted at me, shook her head slowly and then looked back at Belle. I could almost hear the woman's thoughts. That poor, plain child. How could she possibly be related to this little beauty?
Barely concealing my jealousy, I pulled Belle out of the store. Outside, I plucked sticky cotton candy from her hair. Then I gave her an angry shove and watched her trip in the tall grass. When she picked herself off the ground, her brand-new dress was ripped and stained.
I almost laughed.
"Follow me," I said, heading down the wood-planked sidewalk.
I don't know why, but I felt such an irrepressible desire to hurry. Years later, I made myself believe that Destiny had called us. I told myself it was Fate―laughing and mocking me―that had thrown us like windblown corn seed into an old building at the end of the street.
Grandpa’s Tymeless Fotos.
Inside the wooden framed building, brass oil lanterns cast eerie shadows on the rough pine walls. Deep burgundy and sapphire-blue curtains hung heavily on two walls, while black and white pictures lined the third. Some of the pictures were charcoal drawings. But most were somber, yellowed photographs of another time―another era. In every photograph, the women all wore fancy dresses that dragged on the ground. In the foreground of each picture, a bearded black-eyed man leaned in the doorway or against a post outside the buildings. Not one person smiled.
"Picture…perfect," a gravely voice said behind us.
I whipped around, startled.
An old white-haired man stepped from behind the burgundy curtain. He wore clothes like the people in the photographs and looked like no Grandpa I'd ever seen. He patted my sister on the head, and before I could say a word, he handed her an Orange Twist―my favorite candy―and Belle greedily plopped it in her mouth.
"Belle!" I protested. "We're not supposed to take anything from strangers."
Holding my head high and proud, I scowled at the old man. "Mister, you shouldn't be givin' candy to children when you don't know 'em."
His black, beady eyes twisted my heart with their intensity and turned it into ice.
I nudged Belle. "Let's get out—"
"Caroline!" the old man interrupted. "Dontcha want yer picture taken?"
I wondered for a moment how he knew my name. I was going to ask him, but Belle slipped her gooey hand into mine.
"Please, Caroline?" she begged. "A perfect day, remember?"
Sighing with resignation, I realized that we weren't leaving until my sister had her picture taken. After all, what Belle wanted, Belle always got.
I snuck a peek at the old man.
He nodded. Then he smiled―if you could call it a smile…
Read the entire Amazon Short.
Please check my virtual book tour schedule at:
Please note: This tour is to promote my latest release Whale Song, an Amazon bestseller. A portion of my royalties for Whale Song is going to 3 nonprofit organizations to help combat poverty, homelessness and addictions. To order Whale Song, please order from Amazon.com, Chapters.ca or from your favorite bookstore or other online retailers.
And if you read Whale Song plus two other Kunati titles, you can qualify to enter Kunati’s Great Summer Reads Contest.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
©2004 Cheryl Kaye Tardif
~ Loon Lake near Kelowna , BC
The helicopter deployed Jasi and her PSI team one mile from the fire. A fog of gray smoke greeted them. It hung in the air over the crime scene like a smothering electric blanket set on high. The scorching sun smiled down upon them, adding to the heat.
Fire trucks were parked on the side of a grassy field surrounded by thick trees and weedy underbrush. An oversized khaki-colored army tent had been pitched in the center of the field while an exhausted group of firefighters slept nearby in the shade. A variety of police vehicles slanted across the gravel road, blocking off public access.
A tired, sooty police officer strolled toward them. "Hey, Ben."
Ben grinned and introduced the man. "This is Sgt. Eric Jefferson, Kelowna PD."
"How's it hangin', Ben?" Jefferson asked, after introductions were complete. "Are you supervising this case?"
"Actually, I am," Jasi said, only slightly offended.
Ben grimaced apologetically. "Eric and I trained at the VPA range together."
The Vancouver Police Academy was highly regarded worldwide for its superior training of police officers. The academy owned acres of land outside the city limits. The rough terrain had been converted to a firearm training facility used by CFBI agents and police officers.
There was also a separate area for the bomb squad.
"A van's coming to get you," Jefferson said. "And someone'll be here any minute with the supplies you requested."
"Where's the Chief of AI?" Jasi asked him.
"Over by the tents, I think."
Jefferson glanced over his shoulder at an approaching truck. "Your supplies are here."
A police officer in his mid-forties, dressed in a fresh uniform, jumped from the truck. When he spotted them standing by the edge of the road his eyes narrowed. A firefighter wearing fire gear, minus the hat and mask, climbed from the passenger side carrying a bright red equipment bag. He had a stocky build and blond hair that was cut in a surfer style, long on the sides.
The man reminded Jasi of an advertisement for steroids.
She caught his eye and he aimed a withering look in her direction. Uh oh, she thought. Steroid-man wasn't happy to see them.
"Detective Randall," Jefferson murmured, indicating the officer. "He's the lead on the Victoria case."
"He was the lead," Jasi corrected him.
She watched while Randall and the stocky firefighter lumbered closer. When the two men reached her, she held out a hand.
"Agent McLellan, CFBI."
The detective winced at her words. Then his hand crushed her fingers, challenging her to back down.
Jasi squeezed harder until Randall let go.
After introducing her team, she caught Randall fighting with Ben for alpha male status. Detective Randall lost. Tension sliced through the air, thick with male testosterone. She saw Ben wave Eric Jefferson aside.
Jasi stole a glance at the firefighter.
The man's head was turned slightly away. On the shoulder of his jacket, a blue firefighter's patch flapped loosely in the breeze. R. J. Scott, KFD, the patch read.
"Have you got the supplies?" she asked him, feeling a shudder of pain behind her eyes.
Scott dropped the red bag on the ground, crouched down and jerked the zipper open. "Right here."
Her head began to pound. The smoke was invading her pores. She reached into her black backpack and extracted the can of OxyBlast. For half a minute, she sucked on the mouthpiece, inhaling pure oxygen and clearing her lungs.
"The oxy-mask is in the bag," Scott muttered in a voice that was hoarse from breathing in too much smoke.
When he brushed the hair from his eyes, she sucked in a puff of air. The left side of the man's face was scarred―a motley web of spidery burns.
"Hazard of the job," he shrugged when he noticed her shocked expression.
Detective Randall joined them. "You done here, Scott?"
"Yeah," the firefighter grunted.
Randall stared at Jasi and laughed rudely. "I don't know why she needs the mask."
Scott scowled at her. "Yeah, it's as useless as tits on a bull―unless she's gonna go into a live fire."
The men grinned at each other, then caught her eye.
"Detective Randall," she said coldly. "There are many things that are useless on a bull."
She allowed her eyes to slowly drift down past Randall's waist, locking in on his groin area. The man's face grew pinched, and then he muttered something indistinctly.
She turned her back and reached into the bag, removing the familiar navy-blue mask. It had a built-in filtration system that eliminated air contamination, giving the wearer a clean source of oxygenated air. Small and lightweight, the oxy-mask fit securely over the nose and mouth.
She drew it snugly over her head and adjusted her ponytail. Fighting back a feeling of claustrophobia, she took a deep breath.
"I'm fine," she assured Natassia who was watching her intently. "The residue is bad out here."
The oxy-mask muffled her voice.
"It wasn't that big a fire," Scott huffed.
"Not this fire. The Kelowna fire."
The firefighter eyed her suspiciously.
"What? That fire was years ago." The scarred side of his face stretched tautly and barely moved when he spoke.
"Agent McLellan?" Ben called out, hurrying to her side with Sgt. Jefferson in tow. "Everything all right here?"
"Everything's fine," she assured him.
Her head swiveled and her eyes latched onto Detective Randall's. "Right?"
The man flashed her a dangerous smile. "We don't need your help. Victoria PD is more than capable of handling―"
Jasi threw the man a frigid glare.
"This isn't a pissing contest, detective. The CFBI was called in and it's our case now. Both of them. And if you have a problem with that, then take it up with your supervisor."
Outraged, Randall tipped his head toward Scott, then stomped back to the truck and sped away in an angry cloud of dust. Scott watched him go. A second later, he rasped a quick goodbye and headed for the field. Joining a small group of firefighters, he pointed in Jasi's direction and circled one finger beside his head.
Cursing under her breath, she spun around and looked Eric Jefferson directly in the eye.
"What about you, Sgt. Jefferson? You have a problem with us being here?"
The police officer smiled. "Whatever gets the job done, Agent McLellan. That's my motto. With a serial arsonist on the loose we can use all the help we can get."
"Too bad those two don't feel the same way," Jasi growled, casting a shadowed look in Scott's direction.
Jefferson glanced toward the field. "Scott's just a rookie with a big mouth. Randall, on the other hand, he's a hotshot. He needs the collar." He nudged his head in Detective Randall's direction. "It's guys like him you need to worry about…and maybe Chief Walsh."
"I'll take care of the chief," she muttered. "As soon as I find the man."
Jefferson elbowed Ben. "If Scott or Randall get in your way, you let me know. I'm the CS Supervisor."
Jasi caught a brief nod then the man headed for a patrol car.
"Good luck with the chief," Jefferson called over his shoulder.
When the officer was gone, Ben removed two mini-cans of OxyBlast from the equipment bag and passed them to Natassia. Natassia tucked the cans into Jasi's backpack and pulled out a small protective nosepiece. She handed it to Jasi who carefully tucked it away in the top pocket of her black PSI jacket.
"Thanks," Jasi smiled beneath the oxy-mask.
She shoved her arms through the straps of her pack, shifting it slightly so the weight was balanced on her back.
Natassia nudged her. "Let's find the AI Chief. He's supposed to be here somewhere. Then we can get a ride to the scene. Man, I'm starved! I could go for lunch right about now―maybe a nice marinated steak."
Jasi grinned. "Yeah, with sautéed mushrooms."
"Excuse me for interrupting your culinary exchange," Ben nudged dryly. "I'm going to talk to the police. You gonna move or stand there swapping recipes all day?"
Laughing, Jasi adjusted her backpack while Natassia picked up the red bag. Then they headed toward a group of firefighters.
Jasi noted their smoke-covered faces and sooty yellow fire jackets. The men were in the middle of a serious discussion and no one noticed their approach.
"Excuse me, gentlemen," Natassia called out.
The men stopped talking.
Oh Jesus! They're gonna start drooling any minute.
Jasi rolled her eyes when she saw the firefighters focus in on Natassia like a swarm of bees. One of the firefighters stepped forward, grinning unabashedly. The man's eyes slowly perused Natassia's body, then his ice blue eyes turned and rested on hers. One eyebrow lifted when he registered the mask she wore.
She stiffened slightly, registering his obvious contempt.
"Well, well. What have we here?" the man drawled sarcastically. "Uh, ma'am? The fire is out now. There's no need for that mask."
The firefighter was over six feet tall―a lumbering, magnificent personification of man. He had eyelashes that most women would die for, and eyes that were such an unusual pale shade of blue that she wondered if he had visited a SEE office. A jagged scar intercepted his right brow, narrowly missing his eye. A slight cleft in his chin gave him an air of stubbornness. Dark wavy hair clung to his head and she couldn't help but wonder what it would feel like to run her fingers through those curls.
Jasi held his gaze while she examined him like a lab specimen in a jar. Built like a tank, she thought.
"I think maybe you're a bit lost, ma'am," he said, his lip curling disdainfully.
He turned toward the men, brushing her off like an annoying wasp at a barbecue.
She stared at the back of his head and then flipped her badge. "That's Agent McLellan, not ma'am. Where's the chief?" Her voice was cool, her eyes unwavering.
"Whoo-eee!" the man whistled when he caught sight of her ID. "An agent with an attitude. How rare!"
He shifted so that he was standing in front of her. Behind him, some of the men snickered loudly.
Jasi's smile was deadly sweet. "Listen, you arrogant asshole. When I find the chief and report you I'll have you on desk duty for a month. Now where is he?"
The man's eyes snared hers, turning her knees to mush.
Suddenly he reached for her arm, gripped it firmly and led her away from the laughing eyes of the firefighters. She felt the heat of his fingers through her jacket, branding her as his possession.
Natassia nudged her sharply. "Jas―"
"Shh!" Jasi interrupted her, glaring up at the man whose tanned fingers still curled around her upper arm. "I could have you up on charg―"
"Check out his shoulder patch!" Natassia hissed.
Jasi glanced down. Then her eyes found the patch.
Walsh, Chief of Arson Investigations .
Her eyes traveled back to the man's face. His expression was dark and smug. For a second her composure flickered. There was something annoyingly attractive about the man.
But damned if she would let that cloud her judgement.
"Brandon Walsh, at your service," he said blandly, interrupting her thoughts. "AI Chief Walsh, that is."
Jasi ignored his outstretched hand and felt her temper rising when his eyes scoped Natassia's hip-hugging jeans and tight blouse. Men!
When he turned to issue a command to the firefighters, Jasi couldn't restrain the snicker that erupted from her throat. The back of the man's fire jacket was well worn. The lettering in some places was covered with black scorch marks.
Walsh, Chief of Ars In stig tions.
"Arse, all right," she muttered under her breath.
Abruptly, Walsh turned, piercing her with a frigid stare. Then he frowned and jerked his head.
"This way, Agent McLellan."
"Now isn't he a fabulous piece of work?" Natassia mumbled in her ear. "Check out the size of those hands."
Although Jasi had to admit, his hands were well shaped―like the rest of him.
Beside her, Natassia giggled beneath her breath. "You know what they say about large hands―"
"Shhh! Wouldn't want him to hear you. It might go to his head."
And that's big enough already!
She followed Walsh to a table standing beneath the shade of a tent.
He pulled out a chair beside his, offering it to her.
"You gonna tell me why you're wearing that mask?"
Jasi's eyes fastened on his and she took the chair across from him instead. "Allergies."
Walsh watched her for a long moment. "As the AI Chief, I've been informed of your…uh, special team. I wasn't given much info though."
"What have you got so far on the victim?"
"We've only received a few of the reports. Dr. Norman Washburn, age fifty-eight. He's the only victim . The fire originated in his livingroom where Washburn was tied to his recliner with IV tubing."
"Time of death?"
"Estimated TOD, one to two a.m. ," Walsh replied. "We believe he died from smoke inhalation. We'll know for sure when the autopsy's in."
"What about neighbors? Anyone see anything?"
Walsh shook his head. "The cabins are separated by trees and bushes. He had no immediate neighbors."
"Did you ask around?" she asked impatiently.
"Listen," he said glibly. "I'm well aware that we've been ordered by the CFBI to cooperate with your team, but personally, I think AI is capable of handling this ourselves. And I don't really buy into the whole psychic thing."
She detected a trace of bitterness in his voice.
Jasi bit back her reply, frustrated.
She was sick and tired of having to defend herself―and her team. This wasn't the first time that someone had questioned the PSI's value.
"Chief Walsh, we've got two fires, three murder victims and few leads to go on. We're here to aid this investigation, not hamper it. You're not too macho to take help wherever you can get it, are you?"
Walsh laughed. "Macho? Now there's an outdated term."
Jasi refitted her oxy-mask.
She desperately wished she could tear it off her face and rip into the man before her. His attitude grated on her and left her feeling uneasy.
Walsh pointed to a Qwazi laptop and touched the screen with a stylus .
"Here's the data from the X-Disc. Have a seat and read through it. And yes, we asked around. No one saw anything. I'll go check on the other agent. Where'd he go, anyway?"
"Agent Roberts is busy drafting up a rough profile and arranging for transport to the scene," Natassia spoke up for the first time.
"Upload the data, Natassia," Jasi ordered. "I'll go check on Ben."
She cast a warning look in the AI Chief's direction. "I'm counting on your support. Don't get in my way, Walsh."
The man raised a well-shaped eyebrow. "I have no intention of getting in your way. Just stay out of mine."
She clenched her teeth. "Trust me, I'd be happy to stay away from you."
"Jesus, thanks. I think. And here I thought I was irresistible."
Jasi huffed in exasperation.
The man was insufferable. The sooner she finished her job here, the sooner she could put Brandon Walsh out of her mind.
Walsh accompanied her outside, and slipped on a pair of dark sunglasses.
"Need anything else?" she asked tightly.
"Yeah. What's Agent Prushenko's role?"
"She's a Victim Empath."
The man stared blankly, his lip curling in disbelief.
"She picks up vibrations―pictures from the victims," she explained. "Usually she sees their final moments."
"Yeah, right," he scoffed.
Jasi gripped Walsh's arm, her eyes flashing angrily.
"Agent Prushenko has empathic abilities, whether you believe in them or not. She's been a PSI for eight years, traveled worldwide and is recognized as one of the best VE's in the CFBI."
She wanted to slug the man.
Walsh grinned. "What about you?"
"I've been with PSI for almost six years. That's all you need to know."
"What do you do?"
"She reads fires," Natassia interjected, poking her head from the tent.
Wordlessly, Jasi glared at her partner.
"He needs to know, Jasi. Otherwise he's useless."
Jasi hid a sly grin. "I can usually tell you where and how a fire started. Sometimes I pick up the perp's last thoughts or the last thing he saw."
"She's a Pyro-Psychic," Natassia bragged. "Jasi is the best there is."
"Jasi?" Walsh smirked.
"That's Agent McLellan to you!" Jasi snapped.
She'd make Natassia pay for that slip-up.
Oops , Natassia mouthed silently, raising her open hands in the air.
"Time for you to leave, Walsh," Jasi said rudely. "I'm sure there's something out there for the Chief of AI to do. Just remember we're running the show here."
Walsh's breath blew warm against her ear. "We'll see about that."
Then he hurried from the tent. "See ya later…Jasi."
With her eyes glued to his back, Jasi cursed aloud.
"Not if I can help it!"
Brandon Walsh walked away from the tent, unsure about the PSI's role. He had heard of the Psychic Skills Investigators in his dealings with various police departments, but his cases rarely required CFBI intervention. Or interference, as he thought of it.
As the AI Chief, he was compelled to assist the CFBI in any investigation involving serial arsonists. And that didn't sit too well with him―not one bit.
He'd show Agent Jasi McLellan who was boss.
After all, wasn't he the one responsible for capturing the arsonist involved in the Okanagan Mountain forest fires of 2003? He had led the AI team that had tracked down the arsonist and the accelerant used to set the blaze.
The press had blamed an unattended campfire for the raging fires that consumed a massive portion of the BC forest. Then a week later, it was rumored that a single cigarette had ignited the blaze. That was before the public ban on smoking became official―before people were restricted to smoking in the privacy of their homes, in well-ventilated smoking rooms.
Brandon had never believed the fire had started from a cigarette. He personally sifted through acres of destroyed forest, searching for a clue. He had explored the land until he discovered an abandoned cabin deep in the mountains.
There, he found remnants of liquid methylyte and zymene , highly flammable chemicals used in the underground production of Z-Lyte. Z-Lyte, with its sweet musky scent, had become the hallucinogenic drug of the new generation.
Public homeowner records listed Edwin Bruchmann as the owner of the cabin. An hour later, Bruchmann was in custody. When the old man was escorted into an interview room by his caregiver, Brandon was disappointed to discover that Bruchmann suffered from Alzheimer's.
Brandon 's leads were slowly disintegrating―until his suspicions turned to the caregiver. Gregory Lawrence, thirty-nine, had been employed by Bruchmann for the past two years and had access to all of the old man's documents. But Lawrence denied knowing anything about a cabin.
"When was the last time Mr. Bruchmann visited his lakeside cabin?" Brandon had asked the caregiver.
Lawrence 's face had registered confusion.
Then, without thinking, he had blurted, "You idiots! Edwin Bruchmann's cabin is not by any lake. See? I told you, you have the wrong person. Mr. Bruchmann's cabin overlooks the valley."
Brandon had smiled then. "I thought you knew nothing about the cabin?"
"I, uh…" the man stuttered. "Well, I m-might have heard about it once. But that doesn't prove anything!"
A knock on the door halted the interrogation and a detective passed Brandon a toxicology report.
"Maybe not," Brandon had agreed. "But this sure does."
Earlier he had recognized the sweet-smelling body odor common with Z-Lyte users. Suspicious, he offered Lawrence a can of pop. When the man had finished it, Brandon dropped it into a plastic bag and handed it over to the lab for analysis.
It came back positive for Z-Lyte.
The case was immediately closed, Gregory Lawrence locked away, Bruchmann established in a care facility and Brandon promoted to AI Chief.
All accomplished without any outside help.
And Brandon certainly hadn't needed a PSI!
This new case was no different, he reasoned. What could Agent Jasi McLellan possibly offer?
He laughed suddenly, adjusting his shades.
How could the woman expect him to believe she had the power to see into a killer's mind?
I'd have to see it to believe it.
©2007 Cheryl Kaye Tardif
Get the whole story. Order Divine Intervention now.
Note from Cheryl: This month I am giving away free books at some of my virtual book tour stops, so be sure to check my schedule and drop by. http://www.whalesongbook.com/virtual-tour-2007/
~ Cheryl Kaye Tardif, author of Whale Song, The River and Divine Intervention
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Chapter 2 of Divine Intervention, a paranormal crime novel that has been likened to J.D. Robb and Kay Hooper's series
©2004 Cheryl Kaye Tardif
Jasi followed Divine while he led the PSI team into the primary operations station―Ops One. An assortment of security scanners recorded each agent's various stats before admitting them to a small corridor. The same programmers that designed H-SECS created the Divine Ops security system. Ever since the kidnapping and murder of the Prime Minister in 2008, security programmers had been rallying to design a system that was impenetrable and virtually flawless.
Jasi allowed a technician to scan her with the paranormal electroencephalograph unit, an apparatus that recorded brain waves and psychic residue. This security precaution safeguarded PSI agents against overuse of their skills.
Heaving a sigh of relief, she smiled when the PEU flashed green. She was clear.
"Welcome back, Agent McLellan," Divine finally said with a curt nod. "I hope you enjoyed your well-deserved holiday. Sorry I had to cut it short. Have you been given details of the case?"
Jasi held up the envelope. "Ben told me that the killer left something behind…a lighter?"
Divine pulled her aside. "A Gemini lighter. Same as the one you received in the mail two months ago, Agent McLellan. The same brand found at a fire in Victoria last month."
They waited for Ben and Natassia to clear security, and then the four of them crowded into an elevator. When the elevator doors opened, an electronic voice informed them that they had reached the PSI floor where an expansive maze of halls and pale mauve cubicles lay before them.
"Happy Birthday, Agent McLellan," a co-worker greeted her.
Jasi whacked Ben in the arm, hard.
They wove through the maze of hallways, passing agents and technicians engrossed in their work. Artificial light hovered over occupied cubicles while the empty ones remained in darkness.
Abstract paintings lined the wall―someone's attempt at personalizing the underground lair. One painting showed a window opening onto a garden. Beside it, a photograph of a wooden maze tempted two rats to find their way out.
We're all just a bunch of lab rats, Jasi mused. We live underground, running through this insane maze every day.
Part of her wished that her downtime hadn't ended. On the other hand, two weeks of pretending to be normal, living in her empty apartment in North Van, had been about as much as she could take of herself. Even her plants couldn't live with her. The last ivy had died a slow, torturous death, its neglected soil shrinking from lack of water.
"Why didn't we hear about the Victoria fire a month ago?" she asked Divine.
"Victoria PD thought they had an isolated case last month so it didn't show up on our radar. Until this morning's case, just outside of Kelowna . The current victim is Dr. Norman Washburn. He was the head of Surgery at Kelowna General Hospital . He's also the father of Premier Allan Baker."
There's the higher influence.
Divine escorted them to the Command Office.
As they sat down around the conference table, Jasi opened the manila envelope and slid one picture from the stack of photographs.
A blond-haired man smiled confidently into the camera.
Premier Allan Baker.
Allan Baker was the youngest Premier ever voted in by any Province in Canada . Now, at thirty-two years old, he had set the precedent for bringing in young blood. Baker was now a front runner for Prime Minister of Canada.
She passed the photo to Ben, then carefully examined a surveillance photograph taken the year before, in which the Premier of British Columbia and Dr. Washburn were engaged in an intense argument.
Jasi recalled that the newspapers had created a frenzy when it was discovered that Baker's mother had given birth to the son of a prominent, married doctor. The scandal had almost cost Baker the position. It had cost Washburn his marriage.
Divine flipped a switch on the box embedded into the table in front of him. Two oak panels in the wall parted slowly, revealing a large vid-wall. He pressed the remote and a photograph of a lake appeared.
"Dr. Washburn's remains were found at Loon Lake early this morning. Loon Lake is less than an hour's drive from Kelowna ."
The photo zoomed in to reveal a smoldering mass that was once someone's holiday home.
"Who reported it?" Jasi asked.
Without missing a beat, Divine answered, "Shortly after four o'clock this morning an anonymous caller reported a cabin fire near the lake. Fire fighters were sent to the area, and ten minutes later, the Kelowna PD arrived and secured the scene."
Jasi's eyes locked on Divine's. "How secure?"
Divine flipped to an aerial photo, revealing neon orange perimeter beacons that surrounded the crime scene.
"Kelowna PD has guaranteed that there has been no contamination of evidence―other than water, of course. The fire was almost out by the time the trucks got there."
Ben cleared his throat loudly. "We've heard that before. How'd they know there was a body?"
"Kelowna PD used an X-Disc," Divine explained. "As you are all aware, very few departments outside of Vancouver and the major cities have access to X-Discs. And our PSI division is the only unit to have the Pro version. Kelowna PD has one of the original prototypes."
"What's the estimated time of death?" Ben asked.
"TOD is between one and two this morning."
The wall photo switched to a black and white of the esteemed Dr. Washburn. The man had posed for the hospital staff photo as if it were a painful experience, his brow pinched in a wrinkled scowl. His receding white hair looked wiry and stubborn.
Like the man himself, Jasi thought.
She had met Dr. Washburn a couple of years ago during a symposium on children's health. The man had not impressed her. There was something about him she didn't like, something she couldn't quite put her finger on.
Divine turned to Natassia. "Forensics came back as a positive on Washburn. His dental scans matched. I'll need you to dig deep on this one, Agent Prushenko."
Jasi saw Natassia's head dip in agreement.
"We need any information pertaining to the victim. His life, his career―everything," Divine said.
Jasi rubbed her chin. "If this is his second fire, then what's the connection between the victims? What can you tell us about the Victoria fire?"
Divine's data-com beeped suddenly.
He examined it, then shook his head. "I'm sorry, Agent McLellan. I have a meeting with the Premier in half an hour. You'll have to upload that info into your data-communicators." He walked to the door, then paused. "The sooner you pick up your supplies, the sooner you can get your team moving. I need you at the Kelowna crime scene A-SAP. Allan Baker's going to want some answers―fast."
Divine held her gaze. "Get me some."
Then he left.
Jasi plugged her data-com into the Ops mainframe and began reading aloud while the computer uploaded to her portable. "Case H081A. Two victim's. Charlotte Foreman, sixty-three, and Samantha Davis…four years old."
Her voice faltered slightly. "TOD is 9:05 p.m. on Charlotte Foreman. She was pronounced in the hospital. The child died shortly before. Smoke inhalation."
"Who called it in?" Ben asked.
"A neighbor. When the fire department got there the rain had already extinguished the fire. Victoria PD exhausted their leads. The case was cold. Until now."
Her eyes gleamed with determination.
"So we have jurisdiction over both fires, now that it's a serial arson case."
For the next half-hour, Jasi examined the evidence, including the fire investigator's statements and forensic reports on the two bodies found at the scene in Victoria . There wasn't much to go on. A cable truck would warrant investigating but other than that, no one in the neighborhood remembered seeing anything remotely suspicious.
"Let's start with Washburn and work backward," Ben suggested. "I'll call ahead, Jasi, and make sure that everything's ready for you in Kelowna ."
He disappeared down the hall.
Meanwhile, Natassia continued flicking through the wall photos of the Washburn murder.
"See anything?" Jasi asked her, moving beside the dark-haired woman for a closer look.
Natassia pointed to the close-up of a strange melted mass of plastic. "There's a few possibilities. The X-Disc found IV tubing. Washburn was secured to his recliner with it. Funny thing, though. The recliner was fully extended."
Jasi chewed on her bottom lip, wondering why someone would bother to recline the chair…or use plastic IV tubing.
Wouldn't a rope have been better? And how did the arsonist get possession of the tubing?
"Back in a sec, Natassia. I have to get my pack."
She walked down a narrow corridor to a door marked PSI Prep Room. Swiping her ID card, she was buzzed inside. The room held a row of lockers lined against one wall.
She inserted her card into the slot on locker J12.
It beeped, then opened.
Removing a hefty black backpack, she silently cursed its necessary weight. She placed the bag on a metal table in the middle of the room and kicked the door to her locker shut. The zipper to the main compartment of the bag jammed. Frustrated, she tugged at it until it finally opened, revealing two thin flashlights, evidence markers, a piece of florescent chalk and other field supplies.
From a shelf above the lockers, she grabbed the last can of OxyBlast and shoved it inside the bag. Satisfied, she closed the backpack, heaving it over her shoulder.
Then she returned to Command.
"Okay, ladies, we better get moving," Ben suggested, poking his head through the doorway.
"Ladies?" Natassia asked with a laugh. "Jasi, did Agent Roberts just call us 'ladies'?"
"Well, one of you certainly doesn't fit that description," Ben grumbled under his breath.
"Come on, Natassia," Jasi said with a snort. "Focus."
"I am focussing."
Watching her, Jasi chuckled. She couldn't help but admire Natassia Prushenko. Not only was the woman gorgeous, she had self-confidence up the ying-yang.
Natassia was a Russian immigrant. In some ways, she was a trade from the Russian government in return for favors from the PSI division. She spoke five languages and was the best VE Jasi had ever worked with.
And Jasi had worked with a number of Victim Empaths over the years.
Natassia had joined her team just over two months ago, during the Parliament Murders. Jasi had seen firsthand what her partner's skills could take out of her. A VE sometimes assimilated the emotions of the victim, to the point that it was almost impossible to separate―to come back to reality.
"Happy Birthday, Jasi. Great way to be spending it, huh?" Natassia's grinning mouth snapped firmly shut when Jasi whipped her head around.
"Okay, the chopper is ready," Ben announced.
Covering their ears, they dashed across the tarmac. The four-blade rotor of an Ops helicopter sliced through the air, droning and choppy. The sound was deafening until the pilot handed each of them a headset.
A few minutes later, they were onboard and gliding across the treetops.
"We'll do the scene first," Jasi said, plugging her data-com into the outlet in front of her.
Natassia nodded. "Okay. After that, I'll see if I can get a read off Washburn's remains. Maybe I'll get a hit. There's a good chance Washburn knew the perp."
"I'll get the reports for both fires and make some calls to set up interviews," Ben said, removing his gloves. "Then I'll start my profile. So far, what do we have?"
"A sick bastard who likes to set fires," Jasi murmured.
"Yeah, we have that. Hey, are you going to be okay in Kelowna ? Do you need anything special?"
She handed him a short list. "Just this. I have everything else."
Ben read the list quickly, then keyed in the request on his data-com.
A few minutes later, his unit beeped a response.
"Everything will be waiting for you, Jasi. Just see the Chief of Arson Investigation on-scene."
She knew that her day would be long and grueling. She recalled the disaster that occurred years ago. A raging forest fire had swept over Okanagan Mountain , burning almost three hundred homes to the ground and destroying over twenty-five thousand hectares of natural forest.
As the private helicopter soared closer to the dreary crime scene, Jasi settled into the seat, pulled her long auburn hair up into a quick ponytail and closed her eyes. She would need to be alert and rested.
Agent Jasi McLellan could already taste the bitter smoke in the air.
And something more―death.
©2007 Cheryl Kaye Tardif
Note from Cheryl: This month I am giving away free books at some of my virtual book tour stops, so be sure to check my schedule and drop by. http://www.whalesongbook.com/virtual-tour-2007/
~ Cheryl Kaye Tardif, author of Whale Song, The River and Divine Intervention
Sunday, August 12, 2007
On Grow Mercy I share a very personal tregedy with you, and I explain how Whale Song is benefitting others:
Let me introduce you to author Cheryl Kaye Tardif and her story…and how she is using one story to help homeless people.
Thanks, Steve, for having me visit Grow Mercy on Day 12 of my ‘Touring the World’ virtual book tour, where I’m promoting my latest novel Whale Song, a novel that will change the way you view life…and death. This is the first stop where I get truly personal, sharing a very painful part of my life…but one that is also filled with hope.
First, I’d like to pose a few questions. If you saw a beggar on the sidewalk, hand out for a bit of change, would you scowl, judge him and walk by? Or would you say ‘Sorry, I don’t have any change.” Or would you buy him a coffee and donut? Or would you hand him some money?...
Read the entire story at http://www.growmercy.org
This is also my big 44 prizes contest day. To qualify to enter you must order Whale Song today from Amazon.com or Chapters.ca! More on this at Grow Mercy.
Saturday, August 04, 2007
This is an excellant exercise for the same muscle that solves & writes mysteries! !!!!!!
Many years ago in a small village, a farmer had the misfortune of owing a large sum of money to the village money lender.
The money lender, who was old and horrible, fancied the farmer’s beautiful daughter. So he proposed a bargain. He said he would forgo the farmer’s debt f he could marry his daughter. Both the farmer and his daughter were horrified by the proposal. The cunning money lender suggested that they decide the matter this way: He told them that he would put a black pebble and a white pebble into an empty money bag. Then the girl would have to pick one pebble from the bag.
1. If she picked the black pebble, she would become his wife and her father’s debt would be forgiven.
2. If she picked the white pebble, she need not marry him and her father’s debt would still be forgiven.
3. But if she refused to pick a pebble, her father would be thrown into jail.
Standing on a pebble-strewn path in the farmer’s field, the money lender bent over to pick up two pebbles. As he picked them up, the sharp-eyed girl noticed that he had picked up two black pebbles and put them into the bag. He then asked the girl to pick a pebble from the bag. Now, imagine that you were standing in the field that day. What would you have done if you were the girl?
If you had to advise her, what would you have told her?
Careful analysis would produce three possibilities:
1. The girl should refuse to take a pebble.
2. The girl should show that there were two black pebbles in the bag and expose the money lender as a cheat.
3. The girl should pick a black pebble and sacrifice herself in order to save her Father from his debt and imprisonment.
Take a moment to ponder over this story.
Experts use it to make people appreciate the difference between lateral and logical thinking.
The girl’s dilemma cannot be solved with traditional logical thinking. Think of the consequences if she chose any of the logical choices. What would you recommend the girl do?Do not look at the answer yet, give your advice after a few minutes of your own lateral thinking…. …………
Well, here is what she did.
She put her hand into the moneybag and drew out a pebble. Without looking at it, she fumbled and let it fall onto the pebble-strewn path where it immediately became lost among all the other pebbles. “Oh how clumsy of me,” she said. “But never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked.”
Since the remaining pebble was black, they had to assume that she had picked the white one.
And since the moneylender dared not admit his dishonesty, the girl changed what seemed an impossible situation into an extremely advantageous
MORAL OF THE STORY: Most complex problems do have a solution, which you can find if you stretch your mind. If logic isn’t working, try lateral thinking. Lateral thinking is a creative exercise. Practice it every day.