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Mystery Mansion Books
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Mystery Mansion Books
They can save the world from a vengeful paranormal terroristóbut only if they first learn the shocking truth about themselves!
Abandoned as infants in California, brothers Michael and Daniel St. James dream of someday learning their true identities. But when Daniel finally learns the shocking truth in a rural Arkansas town, that dream quickly becomes a nightmare. Before he can warn Michael to stay away, he is brutally attacked, left comatose and enshrouded by a strange blue-violet aura that baffles the doctors. To save his brother, Michael rushes to Arkansas where he falls in love with beautiful librarian Jessica Simms, faces a vengeful paranormal terrorist trying to take over the government, and uncovers a family secret that changes their lives and the world forever.
Intrigue, deep mystical love, bizarre attempts to murder Michael, plus exciting paranormal fireworks—all make Brothers of the Light a blistering, fast-paced read.
Copyright 2010 by Charles Hampton Bush
MICHAEL ST. JAMES stood at the edge of the cabin porch, lifted his arms toward the heavens and shouted, "Daniel, wherever you are, brother mine, hear me! Your book is finished! This is the one!"
A hundred yards below, moonlight rippled like streaks of gold on the surface of Lake Huisache. Michael drew cold air into his lungs and expelled it in a jet stream. Above him, the sky sparkled with a million diamonds, matching his own glowing exhilaration. After months of grueling work, Destiny, Be Damned, his fifth and best novel, was finished, edited and ready for submission. Tonight he would drive home to the San Fernando Valley, laser print the manuscript tomorrow, and then on Monday ship it to Nolly Stein, his New York literary agent.
Ten feet away, his aging Ford Mustang was already packed and waiting beside a termite-eaten hitching rail. On an impulse, he went inside and grabbed the last can of cold beer from a half-size fridge. Back outside, he hopped off the porch and headed down a winding footpath that led to the lake. The trail was dark, but here and there broad splotches of moonlight guided his steps like spotlights on a darkened stage. The pungent odor of rotting humus commingled with the freshness of living, breathing pines filled the air. It was the raw perfume of death and life, a reminder of the real world outside his writing.
At the base of the path, he stopped at an unpainted floating dock jutting thirty feet into the lake. A sign hanging on a chain blocking the entrance warned: "Danger! Unsafe. Do not enter!" He ducked under the chain and walked halfway out, his footsteps echoing in the night. Under his feet, the dock bounced rhythmically. Low wavelets lapped musically against the bottom of the wooden slats.
Michael took a deep breath, more at peace than he could ever recall. His gaze dwelled briefly on the yellow lights of other cabins dotting the lakeís rim. They were cheery beacons in the darkness of the mountains. He sighed deeply.
He loved this spot. During the past two weeks, whenever he needed inspiration, he came here to enjoy the soothing motion of the dock. Now, though, it was time to go home, time to give Destiny, Be Damned the birthing it deserved! He checked his watch. Nine oíclock. He could hang out a few minutes and still be home by eleven-thirty.
He was immensely happy. The world was a wonderful place. He had the best brother possible and the best book ever written. Well, maybe not the best, but up there with the best..
Remembering his beer, he popped the tab. The beer hissed. He tilted his head and took a long pull, killing off a third of it. He suddenly had a powerful urge to celebrate, to get drunk, to climb a mountain and proclaim his joy to the universe. But he knew he wouldnít, because he never did. Still, it would be great if Daniel could be there to celebrate with him.
With Daniel, he could relax and tell him what he had tried to do in the book, and how he had created his hero from a composite of both their personalities. He especially wanted Daniel to read the bookís last scene, in which Alex Dalton, the novelís rags-to-riches hero, had stood atop a high-rise overlooking the glittering night lights of Los Angeles and had shouted triumphantly, "Fuck you, destiny! Youíre mine!"
As he thought of the scene, his favorite daydream flashed into his thoughts. His book had become a runaway best seller. He was standing before a startled Daniel, holding out a mind-boggling, six-figure check and saying, "This doesnít come close to repaying what I owe you, brother mine, so just consider it a down payment." Then he was beaming and saying, "Now, if you must bum around the country seeking our roots, you can do it in style."
Michaelís thumb automatically stroked the silver-gray, stainless-steel ring machined by a twelve-year old Daniel during a metalworking class at Marydale. Daniel had produced two of the rings, one for each of them. Michael smiled as he remembered how grave Daniel had been when he slipped chains holding the rings around their necks.
"These rings donít fit us, now, Michael," he had said, "but someday they will, and when they do, weíre never to take them off. Weíre brothers and brothers must stick together. As long as we have these rings, weíll always be there for each other. No one can ever conquer us."
During their years at the orphanage, he and Daniel had spent endless hours, taking turns telling each other about their dreams: from him how someday he was going to be a great writer and earn huge sums money, so he could buy them a mansion with butlers and gorgeous maids with giant tits and a swimming pool; and from Daniel, how money didnít count for shit, if a man didnít know who he was, and how, someday, he was going to learn their true identities, so they could die honorably and have their real names on their tombstones.
It had taken years of soul-searching through his writing before Michael realized their goals were the same. Daniel was driven outward to roam the country in a quest to find their physical roots; Michael was driven inward, into the often dark recesses of his own mind, seeking another kind of identity. Jokingly, Daniel once dubbed himself Mr. Outside and Michael Mr. Inside.
Resisting tears brought on by the memory, Michael hoisted his can toward the stars in a toast. "Destiny, Be Damned is for you, brother," he said, "for all the years you sacrificed to put me through school, for all the years you delayed your own life to help me. Now Iím going to repay that sacrifice, I swear it!"
In salute, he drained the can in one long pull, then placed it on a tottering dock railing and swung his gaze for one last look at the lake before leaving.
Fifty yards out a bright red light caught his attention. He tried to bring it into focus. Had it been there all along? No. He would have seen it. It resembled a large red Christmas ornament drifting six feet above the water. A balloon? Or maybe an oriental lantern loose from its moorings? No, just a glowing ball.
Curiosity aroused, Michael walked further out onto the dock, causing waves to slap and slosh beneath the wooden slabs. The globe seemed to be moving toward him. Maybe fluorescent gas had oozed up from the lake bottom. Hadnít he read somewhere about glowing marsh gases?
A reddish-white bolt of lightning stabbed from the sphere into the lake. Static electricity? The thing definitely was getting closer. Another bolt discharged into the black waters.
Michael looked back, checking his escape route. The thing probably was harmless. Still . . .
The sphere continued its slow approach, and then stopped to hover motionless a few yards from him. About three feet in diameter, it pulsed as if alive. Suddenly it morphed into a twisted likeness of Danielís face. The face glared angrily at him for two seconds, and then unleashed a lightning bolt straight at Michaelís head. Michael dodged. A section of railing exploded behind him.
"Iíll see you in hell, dear brother!" Danielís voice reverberated through Michaelís brain, like an evil echo from a distant canyon.
He stared at his brotherís contorted image. The face spat red lightning again. Michaelís palm shot up to block it. The bolt struck and rebounded, hitting the floating apparition dead center. The thing flickered wildly for several seconds. Michael was amazed to see Danielís face become old and contorted with pain. Red eyes blazed pure hatred at him from cadaverous sockets. And then, as if someone had flipped a switch, it was gone.
"Daniel, wait!" Michael cried. His words echoed emptily across the lake.
He stared in disbelief at his hands; an eerie blue-violet aura engulfed them. His legs trembled; weakness threatened to take him down. He bent over the rail, fighting for control. What was that thing? The voice sounded like Danielís.
His brain rejected the idea. He had been thinking about Daniel and had hallucinated. Still, the sphere twice tried to kill him. Marsh gas didnít do that. A quick scan of the lake revealed nothing. Only the cabin lights winked back at him. Trembling, he pushed erect. The sense that Daniel was in desperate trouble was overwhelming.
Propelled by worry, he hurried off the dock and started up the mountain. If Daniel needed him, and he wasnít there to help, heíd never forgive himself .
Halfway up the trail, he halted for a breath and examined his arms. The aura was gone. Had it really existed? He rechecked the lake. Peaceful as always. Had he imagined the attack, too? Strange red spheres didnít attack people.
"Yeah, right," he muttered. "But this one did."
Daniel, hang on. Iím coming!