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To CC and Alden; you have fulfilled my life in every imaginable fashion.

You are my inspiration.


Chapter 1
The Dead Scientist


“There, Jake, right there---I can see it!” Adriana White whispered urgently to her boyfriend, gesturing surreptitiously with her right hand as they both stared into the waxen face of the corpse.

“Where?” Jake Stone asked, his laser beam gaze nearly burning holes into the pasty white forehead of the dead man.

“Look to the left almost exactly halfway between his hairline and his left eyebrow.” She answered, glancing over her shoulder at the loose line of other mourners standing uneasily at the edge of the casket, waiting to pay their final respects to Douglas Burnett, PhD, deceased.

“Whoa!” Jake said as he finally caught sight of the vivid five inch gash across the temple of the now departed Dr. Burnett. No amount of pancake makeup or embalmer’s embroidery could totally mask the angry red scar that zigzagged across his forehead like the Pasadena spur from the old Union Pacific Railroad. “That’s nasty!”

“Come on, Jake.” Adriana tugged at his hand She did not want to relive the scene from three afternoons ago when she rushed out of her house to the horrifying sound of sheering metal to find her neighbor, Dr. Burnett, sticking halfway out of the front windshield of his Ford Explorer, which had T-boned the 200 year old oak tree that stood guard over the White family home in Santa Monica, California. The sight of his face covered in blood from the now hidden (almost) forehead gash sent a chilling shiver down her spine and Adriana again yanked on Jake’s arm, half-pulling him back to the safety of a row of chairs a respectable distance from the front of the funeral home.

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