Inhuman (2)

You can find part one of the story here.

(2)

Amanda paled. “What do you mean, it’s like he’s not alive?”

Ignoring her question, the doctor hurried to the door and called for one of the nurses to come quickly.

Brian sat in stunned silence. He shook his head to clear it. “There must be something wrong with his equipment,” he murmured.

Amanda smiled nervously. “Yes, yes. Of course you’re right. It’s got to be some sort of malfunction.”

The doctor returned, a second stethoscope and sphygmomanometer in his hands and performed the tests a second time. Without a word, he shook his head in dismay. A moment later a nurse entered the room with yet another set of tools and a tray with syringes and vials. When the third examination yielded the same results, the doctor readied the syringe. “Bloodwork,” he said. “We’ll get to the bottom of this.” But as he probed for a vein, his look of concern turned to fear. “I can’t even find a vein. I’m sorry… let me just try…” he said as he found a spot and gently pressed the needle into flesh. “What the…?” he said, stumbling back. The needle had barely penetrated Brian’s skin. He tried another spot and another. Then the other arm but it was no use.

“What is it? What’s going on?” Amanda demanded, the doctor’s alarm apparent.

“There’s something under the skin. Some kind of barrier.” He sat heavily on his rolling chair and looked at Brian with awe. “Artificial limbs? Some kind of advanced technology? Experimental surgery? Something? Anything? Any way you can explain this?”

Brian shook his head. “Never even had my tonsils out.”

The doctor rubbed his hands over his face. “We need to run more tests. I’m sending you to the hospital.” He turned to the nurse. “Call ahead. Tell them the situation so they’re ready and waiting for him.” Then taking a deep breath, he continued, “There has to be a logical reason for these findings. We’ll get x-rays, a CT scan, maybe an MRI. The hospital is one of the finest in the country. You’ll be in the best possible hands.”

They sat, not speaking while the doctor typed furiously into his laptop. A moment later, the nurse returned to let them know a team of doctors would be expecting them and gave them directions as to where to go.

As Brian slipped his shirt back on, there was a commotion in the waiting room. “Excuse me a moment, will you?” the doctor said and hurried from the room. Amanda and Brian exchanged a look as the sound of raised voices, then shouting and doors slamming reached their ears.

“We’d better go see what’s happening,” Brian said. But just as they reached the door, it flew open and two imposing figures blocked the way. The men, at least they assumed they were men based on their size, were dressed in hazmat suits, masks and boots.

“You both need to come with us,” one of them ordered.

“But what…?” Brian began, before the other one cut him off.

“Everything will be explained. We need to go now. This is not optional.” And to emphasize his point, he raised his gloved hand to show them a gun.

Each man took Brian and Amanda by the arm and escorted them through the now deserted office. A third man stood guarding the door. After exiting the building, they were herded into a waiting van. Just as the door was sliding closed, Amanda turned back to see the man guarding the office pull of his mask and unzip the suit.

“What’s going on? Are we in some kind of danger?” Brian demanded as the van began to move.

The two men who had rushed them from the office now removed their protective clothing as well. The one holding the gun spoke. “No. We just needed a plausible cover to remove you from the office. The staff and the other waiting patients were told there was a noxious spill, and we were clearing the area as a precaution.”

“But why? Where are you taking us?” Amanda asked, her voice shaking.

“I’m not authorized to answer your questions. Please be patient,” he said.

“We were supposed to be going to the hospital… my husband…” Amanda began.

“We are aware of that ma’am. That’s how we found you. We been monitoring medical facilities on the chance something like this would happen. That’s all I can tell you. Please remain calm.”

“Remain calm?!? Remain calm?!?” Amanda cried. Brian tried to put an arm around her but she shook it off. “You need to tell us what’s going on and where you’re taking us, right now! Right this very minute!”

The two men exchanged a look and the one not holding the gun opened a small case sitting on the floor beside him. “We hoped it wouldn’t come to this.” He extracted a syringe and before Amanda could react, stuck it into the side of her neck.

“No….” she sighed as she felt unconsciousness overwhelming her. The last thing she remembered was staring up at the dome light of the van.

To be continued…

Breaking Bread – Available on Kindle

My latest novel in The Bucks County series is now available in e-book format on Amazon! And within a few days, after working out the kinks with formatting, the print edition will follow.

You can find all the Bucks County Novels in both print and e-book on Amazon. If you have read and enjoyed the books, one of the best ways to support an independent author is to 1) spread the word and 2) leave a good review of the book.

Thank you all for your kindness, honest feedback and friendship during this process.

Breaking Bread:

Maya Kaminsky has finally realized her dream of owning a French bakery cafe, despite the opposition of her rigid, narrow-minded family. But as the business grows and thrives, Maya discovers she has an enemy. Beginning with petty mischief, the cafe becomes targeted by vandals who quickly escalate to dangerous sabotage. To complicate matters, Maya’s childhood friend, Brad Logan, moves back into town and with his recent inheritance, buys her building, intending to help her out. However, Maya’s fierce independence makes it a struggle to accept help from anyone, let alone a man with whom she finds herself falling in love. Nevertheless, Maya will need all the help she can get to save both her business and her life.

About the author:

My name is Margaret but everyone calls me Meg. I am a Pennsylvania native and a Bucks County resident since 1992. I write because I love books. I want to crawl inside them and live among the characters, solve their mysteries, fight their villains, love their heroes… You get the idea! I hope you enjoy The Bucks County novels: a series of romantic suspense stories set in the region where I live.

Genre Bending

One of the things that catches me up at the end of a project is selecting the best genre for the book. Seems like it should be a no-brainer but it isn’t really. Of the five complete novels I’ve written in The Bucks County Series, all of them have a romantic component, so I’ve listed them under the romantic suspense genre. Nevertheless, all but one are crime stories: mysteries with clues to be followed and criminals to be apprehended. The one exception —Run For It— is even more hard to define; there are elements of suspense and romance, but no crimes get committed nor are there secrets to uncover. What is that? Realistic fiction, maybe? The thing is, I feel like I might be misleading the reader by including the ‘romance’ part in describing the genre.

Do romance readers expect steamy sex scenes? Or is that now classified as erotica? While the stories I write include the development of romance/relationships between my main characters, I abstain from depicting any sort of physical relationship beyond kissing. I think a romance reader might be a little disappointed. In any case, writing romance was never my objective, it was to write a good story in which a relationship might develop. In fact, I have nearly removed the romantic components from two of the five books because I felt the stories could stand on their own without it. I just liked the books better with the relationship left in.

I’m not a good, traditional romance writer and I know it. And perhaps that’s because I’m not particularly traditionally romantic myself. Candlelight dinners? I like to see what I’m eating. Chocolate? Ok, I’ll take the chocolate but not one of those samplers – half the stuff is inedible in those things. Flowers are nice but eventually they will dry up and all the petals will fall off and make a mess. I can never remember where I keep the vases anyway. New jewelry is lost on me – I always wear the same favorite pieces every day. You see what I mean… I feel like a hypocrite writing those sorts of things into my books. My characters feel as silly as I do in traditionally romantic situations.

So how does a romance go in a book by Meg Sorick? Most of my female leads are self-rescuers – they don’t actually need their men to bail them out of their crises. That is not to say my male leads are not capable of rescuing; I like strong male characters, just not Neanderthals. No offense Neanderthals (I hear that’s actually a thing … Neanderthal DNA showing up in all the ancestry testing everyone is having done to find out your real lineage, not the one your grandma lied about. But I digress…) Anyway, except for the non-mystery in my collection, the women find themselves as the target of some sort of criminal activity: burglary, stalking, attempted murder, and finally vandalism/arson. The men are there to help follow the clues, discuss possibilities and ultimately assist in solving the mystery. This is how I like the relationship to develop — the couple works together to overcome an obstacle or withstand a series of terrible events. They will genuinely like and respect each other, they will definitely be attracted to one another and they will learn to trust each other with their very lives. Not a bad formula, I would say. But then I arrive back at the original issue: how to classify the stories I write. I have some thinking to do. And I may give romance a rest altogether after I finish my next stand alone book —a historical novel set partly during World War One. I have plans for a sweet romance in that story, but after that? I think I should part ways with love…