I have decided to post an excerpt of my book to give all of you a sample of what is to come with this story and to whet your appetite for the rest.
Doctor Jasper Embry wrote on his clipboard, glancing occasionally to the corner where Zacharias Adams stood. The large man would have appeared menacing to anybody who didn’t know him, but the doctor knew better. They were distracted from their own thoughts as a tall, thin man walked in, his blue eyes distant and slightly hostile.
“Dr. Embry,” he said, his British accent clipped and neat around the edges. “I hope I am not too early.”
“Not at all, David!” Dr. Embry said, shaking his head. “Just go and settle wherever you like. I brought a few books for you to read. They’re over on that table.”
David strode over to the books, perusing his options, then picked one up in his pale hands that took a PhD in psychology to understand. Before David had arrived, Zacharias had looked over the books, and he’d mentioned that the words had scrunched together, stringing letters around in unpredictable patterns, all while in neat little rows that scolded him.
“You should be able to read! You’re old enough to read, stupid!” he’d muttered to himself with a pained expression.
Dr. Embry had listened sadly when Zacharias growled that it hurt his head, placing his hand on the broad shoulder to comfort him. The large man shrugged him off then meticulously arranged the books as they were before retreating to his corner. The dark-skinned male always did best when he could watch first, just as he had been taught.
“Analyze the situation first, Zach. See if you can figure out where you are in their ranks before going forward and saying ‘hi,’” his best friend, Joshua, had told him during one of their sessions.
Jasper Embry was preoccupied watching Zacharias slowly puzzle through his thoughts, so he didn’t notice the teenager with fiery hair and freckled, honey-toned skin walk in until she was in the middle of the room looking around with pursed lips. Her green eyes seemed to skip right over the large man in the corner. Which is good, Dr. Embry thought. Gives him a chance to see who he’s going to meet.
When Zacharias shook his head slightly, Dr. Embry turned to greet her. “Flora, how are you?”
The girl shrugged, and the doctor scanned her almost too thin, yet well-muscled frame, her face guarded. The psychologist focused on his large, silent patient again as she walked off into a corner and began to do some of her martial arts stances, her katas flowing effortlessly. The doctor noted that Zacharias watched in interest before he turned back to the door at the sound of more footsteps.
The large man perked as he looked for his friend, but Dr. Embry could see that he was disappointed as a man with wild black hair walked in, regarding the room suspiciously as he muttered to himself. The man had a smooth, coffee-with-cream-colored skin tone with grey eyes that dashed about. He was very twitchy and gave a surprised cry when the psychologist touched him.
“Shh, easy, Zeb. Easy. It’s only me,” Dr. Embry said. “How are you feeling today?”
The man spoke in a low, frantic voice. “Ting says he’s going to kill me, and Zee Zee thinks I should kill you, Marti is trying to mediate, and you look like you’re going to hurt me!”
“You know you’re hallucinating?” the doctor asked.
“Somewhere in my mind. It’s hard to tell what’s real, but I’m trying to be calm,” was the shaky reply.
“I can tell, and you’re doing well. Just go curl up in that chair over there, listen to your music, and breathe. We’re waiting for a few more people, then we’ll get to introductions.”
While they had been talking, two more teenagers walked in, a male and a female. The pudgy, almond-eyed girl yelped as she hit a table, rubbing her sore leg while her equally pudgy twin laughed.
“Lyle! Lilly!” Dr. Embry exclaimed, sending the muttering man away to a chair. “Good to see that you’ve made it.”
“Mother said to tell you that pickup’s at seven this evening,” Lilly said, refusing to meet the man’s eyes. “She’s going to take us to the horse ranch tomorrow and we have to get enough sleep. I get to see Shadow and Starlight and Frenchie again! Frenchie was so little the last time I saw her, but Mr. Marvin says she’s grown a lot! I’ll get to feed her and ride her around the yard! She’s a blue roan with such a pretty coat, and I’m bringing a carrot just for her!”
“Sounds like fun,” Dr. Embry said with a nod. “And you, Lyle? Learn anything new?”
Lyle kept his eyes on the floor, just as his sister had. “I saw thirty-two new license plates today,” he said, then began listing the details.
The doctor nodded politely, his attention focused on the door even as he tried to be interested in the string of letters, numbers, and states. A young man appeared, and he seemed reluctant to interrupt the conversation. He was a little overweight but had a healthy enough glow to his bronzed skin. Silently, he slunk by the doctor and the twins, hiding his face behind a book when he was looked at by David, who promptly ignored him again.
Dr. Embry finally sent the twins to the table, and they pulled out paper and pencils before losing themselves in their own work. He then went over and patted the man who’d snuck in on the shoulders, leaning down to whisper to him for a moment.
“Thanks for coming, Daniel. You okay?”
A nervous smile was all the psychologist got in return before another man strode in. He was clearly older than most of the others, besides David. He was lean and naturally tan with deep, soul-piercing blue eyes. Dark rings surrounded them, and he looked exhausted.
“Jonathan!” Dr. Embry cried out, hurrying over. “I’m so glad you made it! Did you work last night?”
“Got about four hours of sleep between the end of my shift and when I needed to leave to get here,” the man replied with a yawn. “I’m here, though.”
“Excellent! Go lay on the couch, try to rest. We’re only waiting for one more person.”
Five minutes later, the doctor was talking about the contents of the book David was reading with the older man, glancing up occasionally to check on Zacharias. As far as he knew, nobody had seen him, and he was considering going over to bring him out when more footsteps rang out.
The large man announced himself loudly to the skinny, amber-hued male that walked in, and the rest of the room started and stared at him.
“Josh! You made it here!” he stuttered, dashing out of his corner.
“Yeah, Zach, I made it. Had to finish my shift at the restaurant then ran home to change. I see you made it all right. Take the bus?”
Zacharias nodded emphatically, struggling to produce the words he needed to say that would convey his jumbled mess of thoughts.
“Seventy-two had a tire lateness-thing but three-seventeen came and took us off to Poppin’s, where God cried, but I didn’t dry too slow, and…and…”
The man faltered when he realized how everybody else was staring at him. His dark face darkened further in embarrassment, and he looked away, anger etching into his sharp features.
The new arrival glared at everybody else as he spoke carefully. “So, your bus was late because of a flat tire, so another was scheduled to come and pick you up?”
“Yeah,” Zacharias muttered, glancing over at his friend. Dr. Embry observed the group, reaching for his clipboard.
“The bus dropped you off Popinjay Park, where you got rained on, but not too badly?”
“I’m dry now. Short walk here, and the red man made me sign something. I couldn’t…you know.” Zacharias gestured in front of him in a vague manner, but Joshua understood.
“Red man?” Daniel asked.
“That would be Reggie, wouldn’t it?” Lyle asked, his tone absent.
“He is wearing red today,” Lilly agreed. “Red hat with a stiff brim, long red coat to keep out the wind with two sets of fourteen buttons, one column fake. Dark slacks with a stain on the left knee, probably from coffee, and dress shoes buffed to perfection.”
“He was in a rush this morning and he forgot to send in that pair of pants for dry cleaning, so he had to make do,” Dr. Embry replied as he took notes, barely glancing up.
“He made me sign something, too,” the half-crazed man said, his fingers drumming on his thigh. “I couldn’t concentrate over the voices, so I didn’t read it.”
“It was a statement saying that you consent to this study,” David said, looking over all of them with distaste clear in his eyes. “It was a release of information to the group, and it listed the days that we’re to come in and interact as a group, the days we’re to have our brains scanned, and the days where we come in one on one and talk about our group experiences.”
“Brain scan?” Flora demanded.
“Yes, Flora, you signed permission for brain scans,” Dr. Embry said. “You will do activities while being scanned that will show us where your brains light up so we can know how it’s different than other people’s.”
“But I have a normal brain!”
“Then why are you here?” David asked, his expression cold.
This is the end of the excerpt. What do you think so far? Eager for more?
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