Sampler: Ghost by Michael Jack Webb
July 1, 2021
Enter a world where nothing is what it appears to be, and every clue leads an extraordinary young woman deep into the heart of darkness and beyond.
Kate Justice, FBI’s youngest Profiler, is assigned to find a serial killer with supernatural abilities.
The killer is elusive, cunning, and seemingly invincible.
Kate races against time to discover who or what is behind the gruesome murders and prevent another brutal killing.
She soon fears she’s in over her head as stunning revelations about her mysterious ancestry surface.
Hunter becomes the prey as the Ghost in the Darkness killer plays a vicious cat and mouse game, drawing Kate into a deadly confrontation.
Uncovering the truth will challenge her beliefs about the world around her and her understanding of what is real, what is a myth, and what is something in between.
Kate Wingate stared at the young woman lying on the hospital gurney in the Woody Creek Emergency Room shocked by what she saw. The most recent victim of the serial killer the local media had nicknamed the “Ghost in the Darkness killer” looked familiar. But that was unlikely. Kate wasn’t from here. She’d arrived in the city two weeks ago, brought in by the local police to help investigate the ritual murders of what, as of three days ago, totaled seven young boys between the ages of seven and ten.
Two other things made little sense. The eighth victim was much older and did not fit the intelligent killer’s pattern. She was an anomaly. That meant something altered the killer’s behavior. Still, when the paramedics brought the victim to the hospital, there was no doubt the woman was the latest testament to the sociopath’s demonic behavior. The many wounds he’d inflicted mimicked those of the seven young boys in every detail.
Except for one.
Extreme exsanguination over several days killed the younger victims. This victim suffered an ugly-looking gunshot wound to the chest. Something which didn’t fit the killer’s grotesque signature. The canvas for the insane killer’s demented and meticulous earlier artwork had been his young victim’s bodies. But a solitary shot from a large caliber handgun, a Sig Sauer P229R loaded with .40 caliber bullets, ruined his most recent work.
Kate wasn’t certain how she knew the specifics of the gun the killer used, she just did.
The once-attractive victim’s eyes were rolled back. And the once-white sheets covering the metal gurney were stained bright red. No doubt soaked by buckets of arterial blood. There were several pieces of medical equipment attached to the young woman’s broken and battered body, including an IV and an intubation tube. The doctor and nurse used the former to supply saline solution, painkillers, and multiple pints of blood in their desperate attempt to save the copper red-haired woman’s life. The latter enabled the Emergency Room trauma staff to keep her constricted airway open while they worked feverishly to resuscitate her.
Kate struggled to grasp everything she’d observed and catalogued in her mind for later reference during the last thirty minutes. She needed to make sense out of what happened to this familiar stranger, and why. That’s what she did better than anyone. Solve puzzles no one else could. Come up with answers to questions others were afraid to even ask. Provide rational solutions for irrational problems.
It was her gift and her curse.
But on this rainy, cold, dreary Easter Sunday afternoon, the special gift she’d had since she was a young girl eluded her. Not only that. Something was wrong with the disturbing scene playing out before her.
The victim looked like her. The resemblance was so strong the woman could have been her twin. But Kate was an only child. In the next instant, Kate’s earlier shock and confusion turned into terror as recognition and understanding flooded over her.
Kate thought she’d been observing the desperate efforts of the Emergency Room staff to save the life of yet another casualty of the serial killer she’d been tracking. A depraved man who’d taunted her and terrified an entire city with his gruesome and heinous exploits. Instead, she’d been watching the doctor’s and nurse’s futile attempt to bring her lifeless body back from the dead. She groaned, but no sound came out of her mouth—because she was no longer in her body. She was floating above it. A silent, ethereal watcher, unable to do or say anything, even though she was aware of everything transpiring.
The Emergency Room doctor glanced at the nurse across from him, then up at the large round clock on the stark, pale-green wall. “Time of death—two fifty-two p.m.”
The crushing finality of that simple statement and the sorrowful resignation in the young doctor’s tired eyes pushed Kate over the edge.
“This can’t be happening!” she cried in a trembling voice, praying those gathered around her damaged body could hear her and had the power to change the outcome.
Then as shocking and surreal as things were, they got worse . . .
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