From the Author
I always liked the mystery and the science fiction genres so I wanted to combine them, and view what a politically correct society would look like. This was my first book written for Oaktara and, from the responses I've received, I think it holds up pretty well. And I appreciate the readers saying that. My private detective differs from many others in that he does have a background and a family - although family members aren't close. In fact, due to his genetic structure, he was isolated in his family. But I thought that would be a little different in a detective novel too - to understand something of the background of the detective and know what forces helped form his personality. --This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.
Please Enjoy The First Chapter
I got the first piece of bad news when Mullet claimed there was a contract our on my life. He then promised to give additional details. For five hundred dollars.
We were sitting at an outside table of the Driftwood Restaurant, an upscale establishment where the tables are expertly fashioned to reflect the name. Sunlight reflected off our tall glasses. Twenty yards from us waves lapped at the shore. Mullet grabbed the lifeguard tower filled with pepper and shook it over his scrambled eggs. Nervousness and a beach breeze affected his aim. A few black flecks flew across his plate and onto the blue tablecloth.
Words spurt from Mullet like water from a hydrant. "Only five hundred, Jerry. You can't turn down a deal like that. How much is your life worth?"
"Last time I checked, only about two-fifty on the open market."
"You underestimate yourself Jerry. A genrich. man like you. You have all those high quality genes. They gotta be worth more than that."
Mullet chewed and swallowed his scrambled eggs, then washed them down with a swing of his beer. Mullet likes beer for breakfast, and for lunch and dinner. When he talks he likes to gesticulate. He's got curly black hair. A mustache. Dark eyes.
He raised his hand but pointed his fingers back as his chest. "Jerry, I might be putting myself in danger. It's because I like you that I'm taking this risk."
"And for five hundred dollars."
"A man has to make a living. If I uncover information that others find worthwhile, I figure they owe me. Times are tough. I could ask a lot more, but because we're friends I'm giving you a break."
I smiled/ Mullet has been prowling the beaches - and various criminal enterprises - of northeast Florida more almost 20 years. He does pick up random bits of information. What he lacks in honesty, he makes up for in zeal.
"Jerry, would I lie to you?"
"Yes," I told him. "And you often have."
"Yes, but not about this. This is serious. Buddy, from time to time you have helped me out. I don't want to see anything happen to you. But a man..."
"Has to make a living," I said, finishing the sentence for him. reached in my wallet. I had stopped an an ATM on the way. Since Mullet had requested the meeting, I figured money would be involved. I counted out three bills and laid them on the table.
"Two hundred and fifty, Mullet. If your story is credible, you get the rest."
His hands swept up the bills and tucked them firmly in his pocket.
"So why would anyone want me dead?"
"Revenge. Rumor is you killed Wes Meeks."
He shrugged. "Just repeating the rumor. Old man Meeks wants revenge on the Liquidator who cemeteried his son."
"I had nothing to do with that."
"The whispers say you did, Jerry."
I didn't know whether to be indignant, angry or stunned. I settled for a mixture of all three. "The whispers are wrong. Meeks was killed a week ago. I just got back in the city Monday. I've been out of state. Besides I'm no Liquidator."
"Hey, I believe you, Jerry,. Meeks won' The old man's rich but not quite right in the head. Maybe that's why the son turned out to be a psycho. although he was supposedly genrich like you. Wes Meeks was in the killzone and somebody got him."
"You leave town for a week."
'Perhaps you'd better leave again, but not before you give me the other two hundred and fifty. The older Meeks has bananas for brains, but he's ruthless. What's after you may not be human."
I frowned. "A robot."
"A special one." Mullet tapped his head with a finger. "It's not just software, Jerry. An intelligent killer. A Jackal."
I shook my head. "No one has created artificial intelligence and no one has perfected a Jackal."
Mullet shrugged. "Maybe they have. One is aimed at you. A thing that doesn't need to eat, sleep or worry about consequences. What are they going to do when they find him? Turn him off?"
"I thought this was going to be just another routine day."
"The thing could be anywhere. It might be like a Courier. Flesh-colored. Can't distinguish them from humans." He looked around the restaurant., shifting a nervous gaze from one spot to another. "By the way, could I get the rest of the money now?"
"Your concern for my welfare is touching."
I reached in my wallet and took out more bills. When he reached for then, I pulled my hand back. "You know my name isn't really Jerry."
"Jerico. Jerico," Mullet said, as he grabbed the money. He shot another furtive look at the door, then turned his gaze back on me.
"Out of town? Really?"
"Well,it makes sense."
"What makes sense?"
"Pointing the finger at you. A Liquidator waits until you're out of town. He knows Meeks will want revenge He starts a rumor or make sure something ties you to the murder. Then he walks free."
I nodded. "Plausible but Liquidators don't incriminate other people in their...activities.:
"This one did."
A waiter brought the bill. I placed two twenties in the black, rectangular tray. "And Mullet, when he brings back the change, leave a tip."
"Me Jerry? Me buddy?"