Blood Games – Episode 13

This week’s episode features a chapter from Blood Games, Jake Ramsey Book #3, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show: 

MY HANDS BURNED LIKE they were on fire. Ripping my eyes away from the children, I looked at them and realized I had balled them into fists and that they were shaking and numb. Even though my nails dug into the palms of my one hand and the edges of the monocular cut into the other, I barely felt them. I stretched them several times to get the blood flowing as the wind blew across my forehead, freezing the sweat that had formed during my run.

It took every bit of my resolve to not hop the fence and charge after the kids. It wasn’t just anger that drove me. No, it was also guilt.

I was ashamed that I’d let my focus be so drawn by Sam back at Reading Market that I’d hadn’t thought of the children until after they’d disappeared.

They’d been right there, within my grasp, and I’d let them escape. I sometimes tried to blame Sam for that, but it had been my mistake. Seeing them with Reed made me realize that in a way I had not yet been willing to come to terms with. 

I backed away until I was out of view of the compound. Once I was sure I wouldn’t be seen I booked it up a couple of blocks before running flat out to where I’d left Kris. Reed and the others were moving quickly, I doubted I’d make it back in time.

My foot caught on something and I went down. Hard. Luckily, my reflexes were good and I broke my fall with my palms and kept my head from slamming into the concrete. I slid on my side as I skidded forward. Grabbing hold of a bench that I’d narrowly missed, and ignoring the flare of pain in my hands, I leapt to my feet and pushed ahead, a little slower and watching more carefully.

 

Blood Games – Episode 13 was originally published on DAN DECKER

Blood Games – Episode 12


This week’s episode features a chapter from Blood Games, Jake Ramsey Book #3, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show: 

THE SPRAWLING DATARADAR COMPLEX had a large footprint on the outskirts of the city. Several structures were more than ten stories high, but most were less than five. It was an industrial location with residences and office space starting up a handful of blocks to the left.

Kris had checked with Jolene ten minutes ago, and we still weren’t any closer to locating Reed’s home, so I had continued on our way here. I’d never been out this way and figured it was a good time to visit, especially since I had wheels. It wasn’t likely anything would turn up, but I’d been outside the DataRader headquarters numerous times, hoping to spark an idea of how to locate Reed. It was time for a different perspective on the company, perhaps it might help me figure out what I should do next.

I doubted Reed came to this site much but I was antsy to be doing something, if only to stay busy. I parked on the street with our car facing the complex’s gate. We were several blocks back to avoid both the guards and any cameras that might be connected to FaceRec.

Kris had barely spoken during the drive. What she had said had been short and clipped, but I didn’t care. If she had been more open to my claims about Peck, I would have told her about Reed weeks ago. Or if she would have looked into the kidnapped children she might have found something that would have facilitated the conversation.

She had nobody to blame but herself.

The awkwardness became worse after we parked. I could tell she wanted me to ask and even though I didn’t want to give in, if something were to happen I needed her to be ready to deal with it, not stewing in anger.

“What’s eating at you?” I asked.

Blood Games – Episode 12 was originally published on DAN DECKER

Blood Games – Episode 11

This week’s episode features a chapter from Blood Games, Jake Ramsey Book #3, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show: 

THE TEMPERATURE IN THE room didn’t change after Kris had gone. Jolene looked at her tablet, pretending like the exchange hadn’t happened.

Maxine fixed me with a cold stare. “My employees know I like to be told when I’m being stupid, Jake.” She straightened her back and twisted her head to the side. “There is a reason why my business has been successful. I listen when I’m told I’m in the wrong.”

“I’m not in disagreement about speaking the truth. It’s the tone. Such conflict isn’t healthy. Not everybody will let your display of anger just wash off their shoulders. Some will harbor resentment.

“Those people don’t work here long.” She smiled. “You disagree with my methods.”     

“I shot my last boss in the head. I’m not a stranger to interoffice conflict.” That wiped the smug look off her face, but I could appreciate the fact she was trying to foster a work environment where people told her what she needed to hear. I wasn’t convinced it should be as conflict-filled as she made it, but I’d never run a business.

Maxine seemed content to wait for Kris’ return and opened a laptop that had been sitting on the table in front of her. Between her and Jolene, the temperature seemed to have dropped several more degrees as they both avoided eye contact.

I leaned back in the chair and rubbed my eyes, wishing I could spare a few hours for rest. It had been weeks since I’d had a decent night’s sleep. My mind was only working due to the adrenaline I had coursing through my veins and nothing else. I went to a window and stared at the fire which I could just catch a sliver of from up here, splitting my time between the muted television and the real thing, wondering if the fire had been contained.

I checked my burner phone and thought about sending a text to Shannon. I wanted to reassure her again that I’d had no part in this. I’d told her that night outside of Benny’s Diner and again this afternoon before the fire, but maybe she would need to hear it again considering all the damage that had been done.

Blood Games – Episode 11 was originally published on DAN DECKER

Blood Games – Episode 10

This week’s episode features a chapter from Blood Games, Jake Ramsey Book #3, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show:

MAXINE FROWNED AS SHE tapped her nails in a fast-paced staccato, making me think of a snare drum cadence for soldiers marching to war. I couldn’t help feeling she was gunning for me because I hadn’t said a word about Reed and she was already skeptical.

Jolene attached a keyboard to her tablet and placed it on the table. I wanted to forbid her from taking notes but figured I’d already pushed my luck far enough.

I took a minute to gather my thoughts despite the tension in the room. What was my best approach?

Kris leaned back in her chair, wondering if I was going to answer her question.

I’d had countless opportunities to tell her about Reed but had not done so because she had never believed there was a connection between Peck and Beltran. As far as she was concerned it was a coincidence that they’d both worked for Diggon.

When Kris had spoken of DataRader outside the elevator, it was evident she respected the company. I had to overcome Reed’s squeaky clean image. Or at least prepare them to be surprised.

“I don’t have evidence that proves what I’m about to tell you,” I said. Kris looked ready to pull her hair. “The man behind all this is well respected and has gone to a lot of work to cultivate a reputation for him–and his company–that is at odds with who he really is and what he’s trying to accomplish.”

Maxine lifted an eyebrow. “I’ll try my best to believe you.”

“It will be difficult,” I said. “He’s been very successful–”

Blood Games – Episode 10 was originally published on DAN DECKER

Blood Games – Episode 9

This week’s episode features a chapter from Blood Games, Jake Ramsey Book #3, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show:

KRIS GAVE ME A tight smile when she arrived at the main entrance of the office building. Her dark hair had been twisted into a bun, and she’d changed clothes since I’d last seen her. Earlier in the day she’d been wearing a suit, she now wore slacks and a white blouse. As she twisted the lock to open the door, I expected to receive a lecture or at least an admonition of some sort.

“Glad you came to your senses.” The smile didn’t touch her eyes, and her voice was cold, like she wanted to say something more but was refraining from doing so. I was glad to avoid the chastisement.

She had to come down from her office to let me in because it was after hours. As the glass door locked into place, I looked at the city. The firelight was visible in between buildings and the night sky was lit up to the point it looked like dawn, though it wasn’t yet midnight.

“You’re my only option to stop this.” I shrugged. At another time and place, I might not have said that, but I was tired and frustrated. If she misinterpreted my words to think I was either desperate or vulnerable, she’d soon learn the truth.

I was neither and was prepared to leave at the first sign this wasn’t working. Or if it became apparent Maxine’s intentions were like that of Reed and Peck.

Kris shook her head. “If I ever find out you had anything–” She stopped when she saw my glare.

“You know better than that,” I said pointedly, pushing past her and into the lobby. I was tired of people being taken in by those videos. If I were ever arrested and put on trial–something that became more likely the longer I stayed in the city–I wouldn’t have a prayer.

Blood Games – Episode 9 was originally published on DAN DECKER

Blood Games – Episode 8

This week’s episode features a chapter from Blood Games, Jake Ramsey Book #3, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show:

MY HANDS WERE CLENCHED in fists as I watched the fire burn. People were sure to die just as they had during the Market Street and old Diggon headquarters bombings. It was with grim satisfaction that I thought of how I’d foiled Reed’s plans for Reading Market.

I wished I could have figured out his plan today and somehow stopped it. I was too limited in what I could do alone.

Reed had been going out of his way to minimize the death count but one person more would have been too much. There wouldn’t be just one death today. I feared dozens would lose their lives. I could see ambulances on the other side of the fire. 

It fanned the flames of my rage, making me wish I had Reed at hand so I could throttle him until he no longer breathed. He would use this fire just like he’d used all the other incidents to further cement the children to him and his cause.

Once I caught up to Margaret and Benji, it was going to be difficult to get them to recognize Reed had been behind all this death and mayhem. I doubted they ever would. They weren’t going to take that message from me.

What did Reed hope to gain from all this destruction? Why turn his focus to his own company? At first, I’d thought he’d just been trying to prove his value to Peck. After taking down the old Diggon headquarters and giving Peck a black eye for his refusal to turn over any information on me before the Reading Market incident, I’d decided he’d been trying to drive down the price of Diggon’s shares. He’d been successful for a time, but that was short lived because Spectrum downloads had shot to the top of the charts. 

It didn’t make any sense for Reed to target DataRader. I figured Reed was insane but had thought there would be a method to his madness.

 

Blood Games – Episode 8 was originally published on DAN DECKER

Blood Games – Episode 7

This week’s episode features a chapter from Blood Games, Jake Ramsey Book #3, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show:

AS I WALKED AWAY from Kris, I noticed that the people on the street seemed quieter than normal. I pulled out my smartphone which–was still on, even though I knew better–to see if Spectrum had noticed my presence and sent out an alert.

It had not. I was in the clear.

Most people were still talking while going about their business but they also kept looking about as if expecting something to happen.

It was a sign of our times that word of the threat had spread so quickly. It hadn’t been more than ten minutes since Jolene had walked in with the video, but it seemed everybody knew of it. Or had at least picked up on the increased tension of those around them.  

I passed a bench with people waiting for a bus, several of whom were viewing the video on a phone with the sound turned all the way up. Others had crowded in from all sides to see what it was about. As I looked away from them I tried to keep the fear from showing on my face but it was difficult.

There was little more than makeup, a few strips of latex, and a hat keeping me from being recognized.

I was surrounded by people who had a fresh image of my face in their mind. As I passed a man who stood with his back up against a light post I noticed he’d just opened the Spectrum app. He hadn’t looked at me so I figured I was in the clear, he was just checking.

Peck’s network of ears was growing exponentially because of the new threat.

Blood Games – Episode 7 was originally published on DAN DECKER

Blood Games – Episode 6

This week’s episode features a chapter from Blood Games, Jake Ramsey Book #3, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show:

I WENT TO THE conference room door intent on getting out of the building as quick as possible. Why was Reed taking aim at his own company? He had just changed his strategy, and I needed to figure out why.

The statement from the fake me that DataRader had been naughty made me think Reed was about to aim a terrorist attack at his own company. It was a bold move that made me wonder about his motives.

I had assumed he had targeted Diggon to push down the price of their shares to leverage a better deal for the acquisition. Which made sense if they’d planned to pay him in stock.

He was upping the ante by attacking his own company. Was he trying to direct suspicion away from him? The thought resonated with me. If I were him, it was what I would do if somebody were getting close to figuring out what I was doing.

His efforts hadn’t worked on me. And I hadn’t even done him damage. That meant I might not be the only person who was on to him. If there were somebody else that suspected Reed, they’d hopefully be smart enough to see through the ruse.

Or maybe he’s trying to get some free publicity of his own? I wondered. I’d have to check the popularity of his FaceRec app. This could just be an effort to goose lackluster downloads.

I liked to think there was somebody else out there working on getting at Reed. If I could team up with such a person, we’d have a better chance of taking him down.

All I have to do is get close enough to put a bullet in his head, I thought as I grabbed the door handle. 

“Who’s behind this, Jake?” Kris asked, latching onto my arm and trying to pull me back into the room. I shook her off me. “I don’t know.”

“You have your suspicions,” Maxine said. It wasn’t a question.

 

Blood Games – Episode 6 was originally published on DAN DECKER

Blood Games – Episode 5

This week’s episode features a chapter from Blood Games, Jake Ramsey Book #3, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show:

KRIS GAVE ME A toothy smile that lacked even the hint of an apology for the deception. Not only that, she was enjoying the moment. Every single time she’d referred to her boss she had always acted as if she were speaking of a man. Even right before we’d come into this office, Kris had still been intent on maintaining the lie. I had noticed a slight hesitation but had thought it was nothing.

“You should have told me,” I muttered under my breath.

“What difference does it make?”

I frowned, looking her in the eyes. “How can I trust somebody who lies to me?”

Why would Kris do this? Had she thought I’d be less likely to come if I’d known she worked for a woman? I hadn’t wanted to come at all, it wouldn’t have mattered if her boss was a circus monkey who flipped pancakes. 

“Don’t be angry with her, Jake,” the woman said. “Kris did as I wanted. There are reasons for the deception, I assure you. She was following orders.”

I shook my head, not sure what to say or even what to think.

“I don’t like being lied to. False pretenses don’t sit well with me.”

The woman smiled. “I wanted to force you to come in. Kris talked me out of it.”

“Smart,” I said. “You would have had to disarm me. That’s when I’m at my most dangerous.”

Kris kicked my foot, and I caught her muttering something about pointless macho bravado. That had nothing to do with it. I was telling the truth. Put me in a corner, and my claws came out. Lucky for them I still had my weapons. And they hadn’t tried to take them away.

 

 

Blood Games – Episode 5 was originally published on DAN DECKER

Blood Games – Episode 2

This week’s episode features a chapter from Blood Games, Jake Ramsey Book #3, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show:

THE RAIN HAD SUBSIDED to a sprinkle and the thunderstorm had disappeared.
I’d lost count of the number of blocks I’d gone, but the rough weather had been
working for me, keeping people more interested in where they were going than
who they were passing. The change meant it was time to do something about my
disguise. I’d been lucky to have made it so far
but my window had closed.

The loss of
time would hurt but I didn’t see a way
around it.

Gritting my
teeth, I stopped in a mall bathroom. When I looked in the mirror, I wasn’t surprised to see my disguise
had washed away.

Lucky indeed, I
thought.  

I checked over
my shoulder, half expecting a squad of cops to follow me in. Seconds ticked by
while nothing happened. I shook my head and tried to force away my paranoia.
Unfortunately, it did little to lessen the tension I felt in my chest.

Muttering, I
used a paper towel to dry the rainwater from my face, wiping off the last
remnants of my disguise. I’d just started on a new one when somebody entered
the bathroom. I hid my face and went as calmly as I could into a stall, acting
like I’d already been headed in that direction.

Had he
recognized me?

I half-expected
him to leave without using the facilities. I’d be right behind him if he did.

When he settled
into a stall, I suppressed a sound of exasperation. I had hoped he’d be quick
and leave me alone again in the bathroom.

Blood Games – Episode 2 was originally published on DAN DECKER