Today is the RELEASE DAY for “Possession”!
Where did Jimmy come from? It started with an off-hand comment, someone wishing they could just plug a flash drive into their head and get the knowledge and skills they needed without all that work. I’d also seen a lot of articles on what’s coming in brain research, especially reading, memory, and control, and my thoughts tend to gravitate and revolve around mind control. And the idea of an implant to transfer skills into a person’s mind also led to the possibility of being hacked or controlled.
I didn’t intend to write a detective story, let alone a series. Sure, I like to have a little mystery, misdirection and reveal in my fiction, but I write speculative fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, and horror), not police and detective who-dun-its. But that’s where the story wanted to go.
In “In a Flash”, Jimmy Delaney was a police detective, a decent one, but changing times, attitudes, and his own aging put him in a position where he felt he needed extra help to keep up with the needed skills for his job. He made the mistake of getting an implant to help him keep his job, and things went wrong from there.
I identify with Jimmy more strongly than most of the characters I’ve written (No, I didn’t get my own implant), and after that first story Jimmy just wouldn’t go away.
So here he is in his eighth story, but now a paranormal aspect may be creeping into his life.
Here’s the Blurb
Jimmy’s relationship with Diana has never been better, but then she gets control of the Southside Endowment. Jimmy starts to feel like just another possession, until a seeming ghost from the past gives him something to investigate. Possession may be nine-tenths of the law, but exactly what kind of possession are we talking about here?
“Possession” is a soft-boiled detective novella with some sci-fi and fantasy elements, sort of a The Rockford Files meets The Avengers (the old BBC series, not the superheroes.)
And Here’s This Week’s Excerpt
Halfway through his first week on the case, he hadn’t found anything, but Diana also hadn’t had any more sightings of Nicolette, and no puddles of rocky road had reappeared in the kitchen. The Southside Restoration demanded a lot of Diana’s time; Andrew had said that without her total focus, it probably wouldn’t come off. With how busy she was, Diana was pretty inaccessible to Jimmy, but at least he knew her schedule and when she was seeing Andrew, so that helped alleviate some of his jealousy. He was heading home to his apartment well after dark when he got a call from Diana.
“Nicolette. Come quickly!”
Of course, by the time he arrived at the estate, whoever or whatever Diana was seeing had vanished. This only served to agitate her more.
“I’d have sworn that it was Nicolette, standing right there.” Diana whispered as she pointed at a stretch of hallway towards the rear of the mansion. “She was even wearing those knee-high pink boots of hers.”
“I probably should have told you to yell so maybe some of the girls would have seen her, too. Let’s try that if you see her again.”
“I’d rather that you were here to see her. Could you spend the night?”
“You don’t have to ask me twice.”
He was more than happy to oblige, although he would have rather done so under other circumstances. It worried him how much he found Diana looking over her shoulder, as though she expected to see a ghost at any moment. Not only was her usual playfulness lessened, but she was not sleeping well at all, and kept him awake as she worried about why this was happening.
“I think I’m being punished for how I failed those girls.”
She had always felt responsible for Cynthia’s and Brittany’s deaths, but they had been succeeding at the Foundation. She felt she had doubly failed Nicolette, who had abandoned the Foundation ad gone back into the business just before her murder.
“I think that’s why her haunting is stronger.”
“I’m sure there’s a more reasonable explanation for what you’re seeing than ghosts.”
“Why can’t you believe I’m being haunted?”
“Why is it so easy for you to believe that you are?”
“Because it’s happened before. When I was in my teens, I saw my grandfather walk behind our barn.”
“Wait – you grew up on a farm?”
“Yes, but that’s not important. I tried to catch up with him, but when I turned the corner he was gone. We got a call an hour later from my grandmother that he had died.”
“So you saw him before then.”
“They lived in another state. I saw him again after the funeral. I made the mistake of telling my parents about it, so they sent me for counseling.”
“Did you tell anyone else about this?”
“Because if someone knew about it, they might think that haunting you would be a good way to throw you off-track on the Southside project.”
“You don’t believe me that there’s really a ghost, do you?”
“I don’t know.” He yawned.
Better to leave it at that than to have her thinking that he was wondering about her state of mind.
She sat up and looked down at him.
“You know, I’m being so unreasonable, I’m ruining your sleep.” She pulled the covers off him. “The next room over is empty – you should go there.”
“I thought you wanted me here in case a ghost showed up.”
“You’ll be close enough.”
Great! he thought. She may already have the idea that I’m questioning her sanity, and nothing I say right now is going to fix that.
“Go on!” She pushed him toward the edge of the bed.
At least she doesn’t want to send me home. Yet.
Jimmy stood up, threw on his coat, and picked up the rest of his clothes. He went out in the hall and into the next room, took off his coat and climbed into the bed. He laid awake thinking of how she was just down the hall, probably wishing she was spending the evening with Andrew instead of him. He finally was drifting off when his phone rang.
“Jimmy, come to the meditation room. Hurry!”
He pulled his pants on, then stumbled through the darkened hallways until he reached the fully lit room. Diana stood in the doorway, looking at a pink mp3 player with matching earbuds lying in the middle of the floor.
“That was the exact spot where Brittany died.”
Brittany had died during a yoga session – the player was what Sharon Lewis had altered to send the dose of infrasound that had killed her.
“One of the girls could have just dropped it there.”
“We don’t even use them anymore – not after what Sharon did with them.”
Sharon had killed all three of the girls with the specially modified infrasound emitters while she was trying to replace Diana’s personal ones. The original, unaltered players were perfectly safe, but Jimmy could understand why Diana didn’t want anything that would remind her of what had happened.
He took a tissue from a nearby box and got down on one knee to pick up the earbuds with it. He felt something cold and wet under his knee. He saw ice crystals on the carpet.
Is that melting snow?
“Why are you doing that?” she asked.
“I’m going to drop the player and the earbuds by the precinct and see if there’s anything on them that could tell us who might have put them there.”
“You won’t find anything.”
“That’s possible, but maybe they weren’t too careful.”
“You still don’t believe I’m being haunted.”
Tread lightly, Jimmy. Her tone told him that he was still on shaky ground. “I’m just trying to understand why a ghost would leave a physical object. Or how, for that matter.”
“Who knows what ghosts can interact with?” Diana waved her hands about – more agitated than Jimmy was used to seeing her. “Maybe Brittany made one of the girls do it through some sort of possession.”
“Possession?” Jimmy was tempted to add ‘is nine tenths of the law’, but he was not so dense that he thought a joke should escape his lips right then. “I suppose Brittany did the same with the ice cream?”
“Are you mocking me?”
“Not at all.” He had all sorts of reasons to advance his position, including how ghosts don’t have their own stash of rocky road, or pink mp3 players. And they shouldn’t bring in bits of snow from outside, either. But going hard against her beliefs wasn’t going to win any arguments. “I’m not judging anything. You know me – I’m just trying to cover all the options.”
She looked at him like she was trying to see inside his head – something that she was annoyingly good at. After a while she nodded.
“I’m sorry Jimmy – I’m not being fair to you. You haven’t had the kind of experience that I’ve had, so you’re handling the parts that you can make sense of. You stick to what you know, and I’ll find a way to look into the other possibility.”
“No hard feelings?”
“You do what you think is best. Don’t you worry about me – I have some ideas about who can help me.” She kissed him on the cheek. “Goodnight.”
He watched her walk into her room and close the door.
“I hope that person isn’t Andrew Lewis,” he muttered.
Jimmy patrolled the corridors barefoot, hoping to find more traces of the ghost’s path from the outside. He happened upon a couple more wet spots that were closer to the back of the mansion, but no solid trail to pinpoint where they came in. He went back to his room and lay down, looking at the ceiling.
He didn’t believe in ghosts, but someone was trying to spook Diana, and they were succeeding. Now they even had him off in a separate room. He hoped he could prove that it was someone from the physical world without ruffling her feathers too much.
“Possession” is the eighth story in the Detective Jimmy Delaney series. The novella is available now for a special promotional price through this weekend at several online retailers, including – but not limited to:
(Just a reminder – if you haven’t read any Detective Jimmy Delaney stories, the first one (“In a Flash”) is FREE! at each of those sites.)
Honest ratings and reviews are, as always, appreciated. Hope you enjoy it!
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William Mangieri’s writing has been published on Daily Science Fiction. His ninety or so short stories and related collections can be found at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:
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