By Danele J. Rotharmel
$3.99 eBook/$15.99 print
To stop a cruel serial killer, she must travel twenty-four years into the past...
Gil Montgomery, a cadet in the Temporal Counseling Program, can’t wait to pass her field exam and become a professional time surfer. The TEMCO program targets death-row offenders for time-based counseling while they’re children. For her exam, Gil will travel twenty-four years into the past to counsel ten-year-old Danny Winston before he murders his abusive babysitter, Rick Olsen. Preventing the stabbing should stop the chain of events leading to Danny’s eventual execution.
Gil’s assignment seems simple until her advisor, Dr. William Ableman, learns that Rick is a serial killer targeting Danny’s mother. If Gil stays and protects the Winstons, she might not survive. William wants the woman he loves to be pulled from the field, but if Gil fails to complete her assignment, it will unleash a Time Tsunami and destroy the timeline.
As TEMCO undergoes an emergency lockdown, and Gil’s fellow cadets try to figure out what’s happening, Gil and William learn the importance of faith and the price of true love. Everyone’s fate is resting in Gil’s hands, but does she have the strength she needs to defeat a ruthless serial killer intent on annihilating everyone in his path?
Will she return from the deadly mission?
Copyright 2015 © Danele J. Rotharmel
As a blue glow filled the room, Gil looked through the time portal at William and Director Matthews. Her heart missed a beat. She didn’t know what was going on, but judging by the men’s tense expressions, it wasn’t good.
“Hi, guys, what’s up?” she asked in a deliberately casual tone.
“We’re thinking of pulling you from the field,” William replied.
“Rick’s more dangerous than we thought.”
“I don’t care if he’s Jack the Ripper,” she said flatly. “I’m staying.”
Director Matthews picked up a handful of printouts. “He isn’t Jack the Ripper, but he might as well be. I’ve found evidence that he’s killed at least ten women.”
“I don’t care.”
“You’re facing a serial killer,” William said. “You must realize the seriousness of the situation.”
“I do realize it. You don’t. Today’s Danny’s D-day. If I abandon him, he’s gonna die on death row. I love that kid, and I’m not about to let his life be destroyed. Where’s Dr. Nelson? She’d agree with me.”
“She said it was our decision,” the director replied.
“It’s my decision too, and I’m not about to abandon—”
“It’s not abandonment,” William interrupted. “GAP’s only predicting a fifty percent chance that it’ll make a difference to Danny’s future if you stay. Regardless of your hard work, Daniel Winston may be destined for death row. We’re not risking your life over a hopeless—”
“There’s no way you’re getting me out of here! If there’s a fifty percent chance that Danny can be saved, I’m taking that fifty percent chance. It’s my life I’m risking. Not yours.”
William ran a hand over his face. “We’re all risking a lot.”
“I don’t care. I’m not—”
“Enough of this!” William said harshly. “Let the director speak. When he finishes, we’ll discuss things.”
“Here it is, Gil,” the director said. “Bald facts. Fact number one: Rick’s a serial killer. He strangles women with a red cord and hangs their bodies to mimic suicide. He does his murderous work so well, that unless a coroner’s an expert, the homicide is missed. At this time, it’s impossible to know how many murders Rick’s committed.
“Fact two: Rick’s meticulous and methodical—that means he’s dangerous. He’s undoubtedly been planning to kill Sue for weeks. He’ll already have things set in motion.
“Fact three: GAP’s predicting a 98.8 percent chance that if you stay, you will be hurt. Since Danny has only a fifty percent chance of escaping death row, you’ll be risking your life on a gamble.”
Gil sat quietly for a few moments. “I’ve heard what you’ve said and understood it. Will you respect my decision?”
“Yes,” William replied. “It’s your decision to make.”
“Then my answer’s the same as it was from the beginning. I’m staying. Now, give me all the information you can about what I’m facing, and please do it fast. I don’t have much time, and I need all the help I can get.”
Director Matthews picked up a stack of files. “Autopsy photographs show Rick’s careful not to leave bruises on his victims’ bodies. When he strikes, he strikes fast. There won’t be a long struggle when he attacks Sue today. You won’t have much time to save her.”
“It takes several days for the bodies of Rick’s victims to be discovered.”
“Why’s that important?” she asked.
“No one hears his attacks. He takes his victims by surprise and prevents them from screaming.”
“That’s bad, isn’t it?”
“Extremely. The lack of crime-scene evidence shows he’s a planner. He probably has things hidden or set up around Sue’s house to expedite his attack.”
Exhaling slowly to calm her nerves, Gil asked, “Anything else I should know?”
The director looked grim. “I’ve tried to find instances in which women have escaped a red-cord strangler, but there aren’t any. If Rick gets his hands on Sue—or on you—the chances are high the outcome won’t be favorable.”
Gil swallowed the lump in her throat. “What about Danny? How do I to increase his odds of escaping death row?”
“All I can suggest is keeping him out of his house and away from knives. Danny’s fate may rest on a split-second decision, and I don’t want to lie to you—from what GAP’s telling me, that decision may cost you your life.”
Looking down at her hands, Gil said hesitantly, “If I don’t go through with this—if I come home now—what will happen to everyone?”
“Danny will end up on death row, Sue will be murdered, and there’s a 99.2 percent chance that Sam will vanish, and years later, his skeleton will be found in the forest behind Sue’s house.”
“That’s what I was afraid of.”
“Technically,” the director said, “Sam and the Winstons met their fate almost a quarter of a century ago. There’s no shame in coming home. In fact, I think it’s highly advisable.”
“Maybe so,” Gil said quietly, “but I’m staying here regardless.” She looked through the portal at William. Seeing his tense posture, she said softly, “You’ve been awfully quiet. What are you thinking?”
William brushed a shaking hand over his face. “That I’m proud of you, but I’m terrified for you. I wish I knew if you’re putting yourself in danger for nothing.”
“It’s my decision,” she said gently. “You have nothing to do with it.”
“I have more to do with it than you realize.”
“You may’ve recommended me for this assignment, but it was my decision to come—just as it’s my decision to stay. If I went home now, I’d never forgive myself.”
“I know, but please be careful. I’ve arranged for a portal to be fixed to your temporal position. If things get out of control, you can use Extreme Exam to surf home without waiting for lab authorization.”
“You sound like you’re anxious to see me.”
“I am,” he replied, giving her a crooked smile. “Contact us at the usual time—sooner if needed. We’ll be in the lab until D-day’s over.”
Hearing the concern in his voice, Gil said softly, “Everything’s gonna be fine. God hasn’t brought us this far to drop us. He—” her voice came to an abrupt halt.
“What’s wrong?” William demanded.
“I don’t know,” she whispered. “Did you hear that noise?” Her body tensed as she stared at the door. “There it is again…I gotta go. Someone’s in the house.”
With a swift movement, Gil stopped Extreme Exam and flattened herself against the wall.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Danele J. Rotharmel grew up with a love of the literary word, and by age five, she knew she wanted to be a writer. However, her life took an unexpected turn when a mysterious illness brought her close to death. Eventually, she learned that a low-level carbon monoxide leak from a faulty furnace in her home was slowly poisoning her. This poisoning triggered severe Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and partial amnesia.
During this time, the hardest thing she faced was a crisis of faith. She had to quit her job and stop going to church. She couldn’t write, couldn’t drive, and could barely remember who she was. To say she was upset with the Lord was an understatement. She began reexamining her faith in light of her illness, and eventually, she came to the firm conclusion that God is real, God is good, God is interested and involved, and God is trustworthy regardless of tragedy.
When her illness became even more severe, she was put into quarantine and could only talk to friends and extended family through the glass of a window. This quarantine lasted for seven years. During this time, she wrote the first six books in The Time Counselor Chronicles.
Danele currently lives in Colorado where she continues to write. Although her journey back to health was long and difficult, it provided her with the opportunity to grow closer to God and to write her books. For that, she is forever thankful.
You can learn more about Danele by visiting her blog at https://dragonflydanele.wordpress.com.