Let’s welcome back Lee Roberts! If you remember, he was just here on Friday, but he’s sharing another book with us, Trouble Rising, and it has characters from his Elvis Blue book in it! (I hope you emailed him to get your free copy of Elvis Blue!) Check out this excerpt of Trouble Rising!
Elvis and Monk walked slowly along the thick stone walls of the basement, both of them engrossed in studying their instruments. Elvis paused at one point, and then moved on again with a sigh of frustration. It was difficult to tell in the semi-darkness, but Monk’s face wore the same dismal expression. He turned and looked at his partner on the other side of the room.
“What is going on here, Elvis? We were getting readings all over the place last week, and they seemed to be growing, like something really big was going to happen. But now it looks like everything is getting quiet again. It’s like all the energy is draining out of here, kind of fading away or something.”
“I know what you mean. I’m seeing the same thing.”
“So what’s going on? You think all of the new construction is shredding the electromagnetic fields or reducing them somehow? It’s like the energy that was here before is evaporating.”
“Who knows, man? That could be it. Or maybe it could be something simpler.”
“Like maybe whatever paranormal thing was going on is over now or going away. Maybe the spirits are going dormant or moving on to somewhere else.”
“But we didn’t do anything. All we did was record stuff. We haven’t even made contact with any entities or done anything to eliminate them.”
“Maybe whatever was provoking them is gone now for some other reason. There are still a few more hot spots down here, especially back in that far corner of the basement. We should probably go check that area again.”
Suddenly, they froze in their tracks as several loud pops erupted from the casino above them. Elvis and Monk looked at each other. As they turned toward the stairs and listened, now they could hear the roaring wave of noises spreading upstairs. They heard people yelling and screaming, running in various directions away from something in widespread panic.
“There’s some heavy stuff going on up there, man,” Monk whispered. “What do you think it is?”
“Sounded like gun shots to me.”
“Gun shots? Do you think somebody is trying to rob the casino?”
Elvis shrugged. “Who knows? Do you want to go up there and find out?”
“Not me,” said Monk. “That’s where the hired help comes in. I’m calling Maria.”
He pulled out his walkie-talkie and keyed the mike.
“Maria? This is Monk and Elvis. You guys still in the van?”
A brief pause, and then two seconds later a garbled reply came back.
“We’re all still here, Monk. You want us to come down and relieve you guys on the investigation? Send in another team?”
Monk shook his head, but of course Maria could not see that over the radio. He keyed the button to respond.
“Just tell us what is going on up there. We’re hearing all kinds of loud noises from the casino. Elvis says he thought there were gun shots.”
“Gun shots? Dios mio! Let me look outside. We can’t see much sitting here in the van, you know. I’ll be right back.”
Elvis and Monk stared at each other. A minute later, Maria was back.
“Hey! It looks like there was some kind of big fight right outside the casino doors. Mr. Crockett is standing out there with some other people. And there are a whole bunch of security guys running around with pistols in their hands. We didn’t see what happened, but it looks pretty serious from here.”
“Okay. Tell Isaac and Derek to go in the casino and check it out. Me and Elvis are coming up there.”
Elvis and Monk grabbed their gear and started for the wide staircase leading up to the casino level. The boys were almost halfway up the steps when they saw Simon Cruz coming down in a rush dragging Candi by her hair. They flattened themselves against the wall to get out of the way. Cruz brushed past them with hardly a glance and continued on to the basement.
“That was something you don’t see every day,” said Elvis.
Monk keyed the walkie-talkie again.
“Maria? We have an update on the situation.”
“Too late, Isaac and Derek are already on their way inside.”
“Then you need to handle this yourself. Find Crockett or someone who looks like they are in charge and tell them we just saw Simon Cruz going down the basement stairs. And it looked like he was holding Candi Rios hostage.”
“Oh crap! I mean, roger that.”
Maria dropped her headphones and quickly jumped out of the van. Her body wasn’t really built for speed, but she ran as fast as she could toward the knot of people gathered near the front door. One of the guards turned and pointed his gun at her.
“Wait! Wait! I’m one of the good guys!” she yelled.
Rico stepped forward and intercepted her.
“You need to stay back out of the way, so you don’t get hurt. There are some bad people running around here.”
“But I need to tell Mr. Crockett something!”
“You can tell me, sweetheart. I’ll make sure that he gets the message.”
Maria looked at Rico, her eyes wide with fear.
“Tell him that Simon Cruz is in the basement, and he’s got Candi with him.”
Rico’s heart skipped a beat.
“Okay, then you wait here next to these guys with the guns. You’ll be safe here. I’ll take care of that problem myself.”
He spun around and ran for the front door. Candi was in trouble, and he was determined to rescue her, with or without a gun. Rico didn’t care if Cruz shot him a couple of times as long as he could get Candi away from him first. Then he would kill Simon with his bare hands.
But Simon had other plans.
Cruz had passed Rafael Perez and Benito Rivera coming through the bar. They would be hard on his heels. But he thought he could lose them down in the huge maze of partially finished construction. Maybe he could hide for a while or find some way to slip out a side door unseen. There was always a chance.
He pulled Candi along by her long hair as they twisted and weaved through the giant maze of material and debris. He could feel his heartbeat pounding in his chest. He needed to stop for a minute and think.
They moved deeper into the blackness of the catacombs, way back into the far corner of the subterranean level. Candi was getting really tired of Simon pulling her hair. She was already mad as a hornet and itching for a fight. She finally decided that she had had enough of this bullshit.
With a grunt of effort, Candi turned and yanked her long hair free. Simon looked at his empty hand in surprise, as if it had somehow betrayed him. He hesitated for a second and then lunged toward her again. She lashed out with both hands, punching and cursing in his face.
But Cruz ignored her. He managed to get his hands around Candi’s neck and began to tighten his grip, slowly cutting off her air and strangling her. She started to gasp for every breath, fighting for each molecule of precious oxygen. Simon was bigger and stronger, and she could not overcome that disadvantage.
The light began to fade from Candi’s eyes as life ebbed out of her body. Her few attempts to stop him now were too feeble to make any difference. It looked like this was the end.
Slowly, she reached up and touched the little necklace of yellow and aquamarine stones around her neck. Candi whispered a silent prayer and prepared herself to accept what was soon to come.
Suddenly, Simon screamed and jumped back like he had just been electrocuted. He stared at his open palms in disbelief. Candi collapsed on the floor in a heap, panting weakly, barely conscious.
A dark, swirling mist began to form in the air, taking shape out of the darkness. The cloud of mist surrounded Cruz and then seemed to come together in a big, massive shape. A huge black bear materialized right in front of Simon and reared up on its hind legs, spreading two giant paws that gleamed with long, razor-sharp claws.
Simon screamed again and snatched up the gun he had dropped. He began firing wildly at the image, terrified by what he saw. He continued to yell obscenities and move farther back into the corner until all the bullets were gone. Cruz staggered into the wall and then slid down to the ground, the gun now clicking on empty chambers.
Rico heard the shots and ran down the dark hallway hoping desperately for some miracle. He rounded the last corner and saw Candi lying on the floor. Instantly, he was at her side, checking her pulse. It was still there, but very faint.
He scooped Candi up in his arms and ran back toward the stairway, leaving Cruz sitting in the corner staring vacantly into space.
“Hang on,” he whispered. “Please hang on, babe. I’m going to get you out of here. Everything’s going to be all right.”
Rico hurried up the stairs carrying Candi’s limp body cradled in his arms. There were two men at the top of the stairs, and they stepped out of the way to let him pass by. Rico moved on. Rafael Perez and Benito Rivera glanced at each other and then descended slowly into the basement to find Simon Cruz.
About Trouble Rising:
New passions awaken old evils, and the construction of a modern hotel and casino on old tribal land has stirred up the restless spirit of a massacred Indian maiden. Candi Rios is a magnet for trouble and sensitivity to the supernatural compels her to seek out the answers to the perplexing mysteries that plague the new venture. As a smart young accountant, Candi struggles to sort out the complexities of the business while caught up in the emotional turmoil of the unseen forces at work. With Rico and her quirky friends, she investigates the strange deaths and disappearances in the area, uncovering evidence of money laundering, embezzlement, and murder. Others cross her path and make things difficult, including a psychotic personnel manager, Colombian drug dealers, Elvis Blue and the ghost hunters, and even Godzilla. Candi must figure it all out in order to put an end to the madness and avoid becoming the next victim.