"This is a page turning read that shows the many dark sides of human nature, and the struggles to survive mentally and physically when boundaries are crossed...I thought Author Russell did an exceptional job in this story, exposing the rawest of emotions in the characters as they deal with their personal and professional dilemmas, and how they ultimately face the consequences of the hands fate deals to them. "
"The author does an excellent job of continually drawing you into the lives of the characters and the secrets they keep along with pacing the plot to an intense end. "
"I recommend this captivating book"
Alarmed, the woman’s eyes opened. Her nerves twitched slightly, as if an electric shock rattled her body.
Instantly, an eerie darkness consumed her, and an unusual stillness blanketed her surroundings.
Where am I? the woman wondered.
With her instinctual medical training, she began immediately diagnosing her own condition: blurry vision, raspy breath, citrus acidic taste at the back of her throat, and weak muscles. The signs were a tell-all. She had been drugged. Most likely either clonazepam or estazolam.
As her thick braids fell in front of her eyes, she realized that her body was hanging in midair. Above her, a rope bound her hands. The burning strain in her deltoids ached deep into her lower back.
The air was unusually frigid. Her entire body was trembling. She looked down and realized she was completely naked.
Who took off my clothes? she thought, her mind racing with a fresh wave of panic.
All she could remember was getting home from a run in the cold rain of a late November day that had chilled her to the core. Since the presentation of her dissertation was only days away, she relieved the building stress with those exhilarating runs. They were especially liberating knowing that she had to head back to the university lab. Entering the darkened house, she had sworn she’d left the light on. She recalled a quick shadow slipping just behind her in her peripheral vision. She’d felt a sudden blow to head, had fallen against the wooden banister—
What day is it? The presentation was on Saturday. Did she miss it? A sense of dread engulfed her, then fear. All the seemingly endless months and years of planning her project, all the meetings with that arrogant, dimwitted professor, all those countless hours in the lab…it would all be for nothing. Most importantly, all the sacrifices she’d made with her family, spending so much time away from her daughter—and well, her husband too—would be just a waste.
In the inky darkness, a slight shift of movement awakened her senses.
She was not alone. Attempting to say something, nothing came out except a low groan from her lips. The large figure—a man, no doubt—stopped for a moment. Did he hear her? See her?
Tilting her head slightly, more of her thick dark braids fell to the right side of her face. As her eyes were adjusting to the murkiness, she detected a figure near a square object. A red light blinked incessantly, and with her cloudy vision, it seemed like a floating, pulsating blob. Turning away, a sudden surge of vertigo overwhelmed her and she forced her eyes shut.
As she opened her eyes again, the woman saw a faint light seeping from under the cracks of a doorway on the other side of the space. It looked like long skeletal fingers creeping closer to her.
Footsteps approached her. Suddenly, a smooth gloved hand aggressively grabbed her ankle.
"Gavin is a suspense filled thriller that takes you through the darkest of deranged journeys. You feel the haunting pain of past abuses and the rage that causes the mind to snap."
"This is a wonderful dark story filled with true to life characters and a carefully crafted storyline that hooks you in on page one."
"Take a chance if you can stomach a brutal crime scene here and there, and some hot, sweaty moments of quavering passion, and terror that’ll suffocate you. You won’t be disappointed. Experience Russell’s gripping psychological thriller, and wait for it, just wait for it, because it is going to grab you right by the— "
Gavin’s favorite band, Slipknot, pulsated in his earbuds. The steely guitar riffs, the raw guttural singing, and the rhythmic drum pounding created a resurgence of raw energy and increased the length and quickness of his pace. This particular album was Gray’s second-to-last recording with the band before his death. Appreciating the posthumous honor, Gavin enjoyed the inspirational bassist’s riffs even more as he ran along Lake Shore Drive.
The tingling in his left leg meant that he’d pushed himself harder. A glistening layer of sweat coated his naked torso, and he felt the sun’s radiant heat on his skin. Even though the music was deafening, he could still hear his raspy breath.
Today was the first real day of summer.
Being an avid runner, he was not as neurotic as some of the others. He did not wear the expensive shorts, the breathable shirts, the specialized hats, or any of the merchandising. More so, he no longer wore a watch. For a long time, he did wear one, and it helped with his pacing here and there. Three years ago, he had forgotten it for his first half-marathon. The freedom of not looking down at the time made him enjoy the race more. After viewing his results, he discovered that his pace was actually better. Now the watch was on the kitchen counter, still keeping time.
From that point on, he just ran to enjoy the exercise. In fact, he liked it simple. His beat-up White Sox hat, a cheap MP3 player with his tunes, a water bottle clutched in his left hand, a decent pair of running shoes with great support, and a pair of shorts were his choice for a warm day. Yes, he did run when it was cold, but the distance was significantly shorter. To him, running in the summer was much simpler.
He caught glimpses of women turning their heads as he passed them. Perhaps his half-naked body made them take a good second look. Courteously, he received the runner's nod from men, probably eyeing him up as well. Honestly, he did not care. Before he would have felt slightly self-conscious of their stares, but today, especially today, on this hot summer day in the afternoon, he absorbed their looks. The faded, slightly torn baseball cap was tight on his head, and his eyes darted side to side, looking at the views.
Ahead, the glorious tall buildings of Chicago poked jaggedly toward the sky like shimmering steel and glass stalagmites rising toward the brilliant azure sky above. To the left, he saw the beach filling up with people, kids, and dogs playing in the rough, choppy lake water. The heat was intense. He could have just run over and jumped into the water, but instead, he ran toward the pedestrian bridge over Lake Shore Drive. Halfway through the overpass, looking below the steel fence, he saw that the Friday afternoon traffic already swelled up all eight lanes, and the faint sound of blasting horns could be heard over the music. No matter, he was heading for his apartment building on Wells, which was less than a mile away.
He was reaching the twelve-mile point.
Running helped Gavin purge his thoughts of the day, find solutions to problems, and even work on cases. The more stressed he had been at work, or in life, the longer he would run.
The concrete was his therapy session.
"The story kept me captivated from beginning to end..."
"The story captured you and pulled you through to the end..."
Sitting in the darkened room, he heard the faint click of the large grandfather clock in the hallway as it echoed in the silent shadows just outside of his study. The desk lamp no longer worked, leaving only a lamp near the far window for any reading light.
No matter though. His thin hands carefully picked up the tattered magazine before him and opened to the exact dog eared page. Purposely ignoring his once youthful appearance, the memories of that expedition haunted the back of his mind. His eyes scanned the article briefly until he reached the right section.
He read the words out loud slowly and concisely, as if he were lecturing to a small group of students:
“Under the hot Central American rain forest canopies of the large indigenous plant life, I remained still and quiet although my body had been depleted by the day’s humid conditions. I had waited for the prized species which has not yet been documented in this lifetime, in which this region has only been investigated the various subsets of creatures. My resilience for patience had mounted to this moment." After so many times, the memorization of the words had embedded within his tone. While his eyesight had been gradually worsened, the words were as fresh he had written the first time. "My resilience for patience had mounted to this moment.”
In the periphery of his vision, he sensed some movement in the corner of the cave-like, but nothing out of the ordinary.
The darkness of the night permeated what little light could be attained. Behind long-faded yellow curtains, The strong winds outside buffeted the windows. He had picked those curtains for her when they moved to this house. Yet in this light, just beyond his vision, he could see the quick silent movements of small shadows along the darkened floorboards
He looked away from the article, catching the faintness of dust and mildew in his nostrils. How long has it been since he had dusted in here? How long had it been since he dared to care for the house that he had long ago lavishly created for her? Then again, he now thought, how long had it been since he bathed, as he caught the faint scent of musk from his body as he shifted in the chair. He was getting away from the daily procedures of life.
The coolness of autumn had crept into the house, making the room feel cooler than it should be. With one hand, he drew his sweater closer to his body, trying to huddle his long, bulky frame closer to the desk. He dared not to turn the heat up sooner than necessary. The environment of the house would be off; he would lose valuable time. He made the sacrifice necessary to keep the temperature at a proper level. Sometimes, it had been necessary in his life to avoid the normal customs of everyday life in order to continue his research.
Seeing nothing in the darkness, he turned back to the article and continued from where he had left off.
“‘On the edge of the decimated bark of a fern leaf, a colony of tribe attini used their sharp beaks to cut away the significantly large portions of vegetation for the hill. One-by-one these beautiful creatures encircled the plant, their large size of two-to--four centimeters in length, their translucent bodies were a dull auburn color perfectly exposed their thoraxes when viewed against the lush green backdrop. During the course of my research, I spent five hours a day for three weeks observing and cataloguing the species in its natural environ. As a result, I designed the path of attini on the forest floor that covered an impression fifteen hundred meter radius from the nest. I realized the nature of their aggressive behavior when an innocent marcus felix of an undiscovered species happened to be in their path. In an instant, the attini descended upon the offensive obstacle, using their beaks to snap and crack the creature’s long body apart quickly. They stormed in unity, much like an army in battle challenging the foe. More so, the creatures marched instinctively past…“
A sudden loud bang shuddered from the back of the house.
He neither stirred nor was he shaken by this disturbance rapid fire loud thuds. Rising from the chair slowly, he placed the tattered bookmark at the crease of the magazine and closed it. He would leave it for another day, another time to reread his article on that moment in time. Back then, he had her in his life, where she helped him cope and see his vision clearly. Looking at the article, seeing the picture of that life, seeing himself and her beside him, it had all been meaningless after those days.
That was the past.
A thunderous crash sounded below his feet in the basement. A familiar sound.