Coats’ debut novel, Out of Touch, follows a reluctant psychic who feels more burdened than gifted: able to see the past, present and future of those who touch an object before he holds it in his hand. Most of the events and emotions that pass through him like electricity are insignificant and benign, but there are those moments when he experiences the fear, horror and pain of catastrophic events, and even knowing when, where and how these catastrophes occur, his knowledge is useless to prevent them, pointless to protect the victims, nothing but pain and guilt for him. Until now.
Here's a sample:
She nodded. “Of course it would. As long it’s OK with Mister –“
“Jahn. Perry Jahn.” He shoved the Wall Street Journal into the magazine sleeve hard enough to make the man in 2-B jump. “Perhaps you’ve seen my television special on the WB Network. Or my series of prophetic books. Volume Six was –“
“I wasn’t speaking to you.” She turned to Jonah. “Mister?”
“Morgan,” he said. “And yes. It’s quite OK with me.”
“Then if you’d be so kind,” the flight attendant said to Perry, “to allow Coach Purcell to take his seat by the window, we’ll close the door and be on our way.”
Perry glared at Jonah, still not moving. “What do you think you’re doing?”
Jonah smiled. “I’m upgrading.”
Perry stood up to allow Randy through. He towered over Jonah and stared down at him, his face feral. “You’re finished at SkyDance.”
Jonah shrugged. “After this morning? I’d say you’re not far behind.”
The players began moving toward their seats. Jonah started walking. Perry trembled with anger. And then the rage leapt out of Perry: He shoved Jonah hard enough to knock him off balance, spilling the airline ticket and Hoops Conference tickets from his hands onto the blue carpet.
Jonah spun around, half-expecting to see Perry ready to collect milk money, a bully to the end. Instead, he saw Perry leaning toward him, his aquiline nose close enough to peck Jonah’s eyes. He pursed his lips and said, “Oops.”
Jonah imagined it then, just for a moment, saw it streak across his imagination: One good punch. Perry sailing, the sharp lines of his nose turning bumpy and wet. Arrest, assault charges, civil suits. Still, it almost seemed worth losing it all, just to knock the smug out of Perry.
Instead, he raised his hands to simply say Enough. In that moment, he made his peace with Perry and SkyDance, even made peace with the morning shock jocks that had started this ball rolling – because this was where the ball needed to roll. Purcell was right. Today was his lucky day. He turned to go.
But before he could turn, Perry seethed, “And take off those ridiculous gloves.”
Perry’s hands flashed out, quick as cobras. Jonah’s gloves were still loose from when he’d unclasped them while talking to Randy outside the gate. Perry stripped the gloves off his hands decisively and tossed them on the floor next to the tickets.
Jonah stood frozen for a moment, shocked dumb, the stale air crisping the hairs on the back of his hands. “I – I,” he stuttered, but the words wouldn’t come. He stared at the cobwebs of scars on his bare palms, then glanced at all the surfaces and skin surrounding him, all of it pulsing with current.
“Now,” Perry said, “get out of my sight.”
Another shove, this one stronger than the first. Now Jonah was falling, the boys reaching out to prevent him from hitting the ground. Too late. Jonah crashed into the dark-blue carpet, his hands splayed out in front of him, coming down on the Hoops tickets the coach had given him.
A flash roared up, coursing through his veins with the violence of raw electricity, as if he’d grabbed the ceramic coils of a semiconductor. And then Jonah watched the world end.