by VJ Miller, Sr.
Bucket List of Death is the preview for the sequel to my novel, Mask of the Crime Czar that I am currently writing.
A prominent businessman is shot for no apparent reason.
Soon after, underworld leaders and henchmen are killed one by one,
Clues lead authorities to believe the eldest son of the businessman is the killer, bent on revenge
Jason Parkes, AKA, Mindforce, has abandoned his alter ego and nearly his detective office as well in favor of more lucrative endeavors. During the time since his last appearance his abilities have increased to a point where he shuns large crowds.
After a disaster in the city that forces Mindforce out of his imposed exile, Jason finds himself tracking down leads to the mystery assassin and his/her motives with both of his identities.
Sheila, Jason’s secretary, is caught in a dilemma between what she knows and what she fears.
Who is the mystery killer, and why does Jason/Mindforce not believe the clues he has uncovered? Can he find and stop the killer before the mobs tear the city apart?
It’s been six months since I tossed the torn and singed costume into the City incinerator thus ending the career of Mindforce – or so I thought.
I never wanted to be a hero… but circumstances beyond my control dictated otherwise.
Once the Crime Czar was finished, accidentally killed at his own hand, and I had narrowly escaped with my life, I wanted no more of that kind of crime fighting. Mindforce was gone… but the abilities I’d gained from the accident were still with me. And I hated every minute of it!
Alcohol still had no effect on my system and I had to constantly deal with the onslaught of mobs of conflicting emotions, from those around me, that it was driving me up the wall. I found solace only in being alone, far from crowds, and began spending more and more of my time up in the Pocono Mountains just to be alone with my own thoughts.
Sheila, My girl Friday, and the only person who knew of my double life, could not understand my need for solitude and the long disappearances. I dared not tell her of the empathy powers I possessed because it was likely to make her even more self-conscious. One day she will have to be told.
Commissioner Parman had been let in on my internal lie-detector but not the extent of my empathy abilities.
I turned to the study of telepathy and secretly listened in on seminars with my enhanced hearing.
Working as a detective, finding lost or kidnapped people, paid a tidy sum – when I could get a client – but it still became more difficult to pay both rent on the office and Sheila’s salary.
As distasteful as it was, I allowed myself to sink to bounty hunting. Heroes, according to the stereotype, are not supposed to accept rewards. They can keep the stereotype – only money pays the bills, not good intentions or warm, fuzzy feelings from doing your civic duty.
Even though she said she did, I knew Sheila could not understand why I had abandoned Mindforce while the city was being overrun by those who continually broke the law.
The paper was full of articles wondering what had happened to my alter-ego. The Commissioner and other high officials knew I had survived the explosion and could not understand why I had disappeared. The Opinion Polls had speculated I had actually perished and that the Mayor and Police were perpetuating a lie to keep the Mobs unsure if they should extend their once formidable grip on the city.
As the weeks passed the belief that Mindforce truly was dead grew stronger and more widespread. The rats were stirring in their nests and began to get very brazen.
Though Mindforce was gone, as far as I was concerned, the ex-cop in me could not sit idly by. Because I had stumbled upon a gang mugging in Baltimore while tracking a skip, I let myself get involved to prevent a severe beating, possibly a murder.
A lot of soul searching was done as I fought with myself over my convictions. Mindforce was going to stay dead but much could be done quietly to curb some of the evil that was unfortunate enough to cross my path.
In the ensuing days my research on: telepathy, bio-feedback, the teachings of meditation, hypnotherapy and the eavesdropping on seminars; became more important to me. If I was going to embark upon this secret war on crime I’d need clarity – and moreover… I’d have to be cold and calculating. I neither controlled my own emotions nor those of the crowds that stampeded on my psyche. I’d blundered headlong into situations and got very lucky. I’d relied too much on my abilities when I should have been using my head. Knowledge was key. If I’d been using my head and not been distracted by all the waves of distorted and conflicting emotions around me, maybe, just maybe I might have taken the Crime Czar in alive and saved all that devastation.
This empathy power could neither be allowed to meander along uncontrolled nor take me by surprise in overwhelming tidal waves of conflicting emotions. My brain had received untold damage then reconstruction after the accident that spawned all my enhanced senses. I’d concluded that most, if not all, of my brainwaves had been altered; their intensity increased considerably.
Progress was slow, frustratingly slow as I embarked to first throttle back the intensity of this ability. But it had to be brought completely under control; not only on a conscious level but on a sub-conscious one as well. It must only come into play when I want it to but be alert in the background when danger threatened and come forward.
The five senses and the increased strength had been relatively easy to practice and get control over. Empathy was a whole new magnitude of difficulty. Few knew much about it nor what triggered it. I was on a lone search inside my head to harness and be the master of it. My Ghost had been an extra ability discovered by accident in a time of need. What else would I discover while I peeled back the layers of my sub-conscious and could the study of logic hold an unseen answer.
Failure is not an option.
To learn more about Jason and his duel identity as Mindforce get Mask of the Crime Czar in either Paperback or on Kindle. PB has illustrations that are not in the Kindle edition.
©Copyright Realms Uncharted and VJ Miller, Sr. 2015