Race the Darkness (Fatal Dreams Book 1)

By: Abbie Roads

To all the people who’ve been hurt or broken by life…

Never stop believing in your happy ending.

Individuals with Auditory Perception Syndrome claim to hear more than sound. They allegedly possess the ability to hear thoughts. These assertions have never been scientifically proven and should be treated as an auditory hallucination.

—Dr. M. J. Franklin, Journal of Sound and Mind

Chapter 1

Xander Stone stopped outside Interrogation Room B, shoved his ear up to the seam of the closed soundproof door, and listened. Supercharged hearing had only one benefit, and this was it. From inside the other room, he heard the slow, easy breathing of someone who thought he’d never be caught or prosecuted or imprisoned. Xander’s favorite kind of criminal.

He pushed open the door and made sure to display his scars to the suspect. The disfigurement was a neon sign on a starless and moonless night, pointing and flashing freak, freak, freak. A caution to all who dared speak to him. Wasn’t his fault if no one listened to the warning.

Yeah, life was a saggy-assed, fun bag of laughs since he’d been zapped with more than 50,000 volts of lightning. But the forehead-to-calf scarring didn’t even rank on the Richter scale of shit when compared to the bizarre sensation of no longer being alone inside his head. And then there was the issue of his amplified hearing. He couldn’t ignore the way his brain now tuned in to the frequency of thoughts.

The familiar pounding—like a basketball upside the head—slammed into Xander’s right temple. He winced. Always did with the first thump, no matter how hard he tried not to react. Tuning in to the frequency of people’s thoughts fucking hurt. He washed his features of expression.

Holy shit. What happened to the dude’s face? Xander heard the words even though they hadn’t been spoken aloud. The suspect—a kid, really—snickered, his gaze riveted to the puckered striation and the network of branch-like scars that stretched up Xander’s neck, spread over his cheek, and finally ceased on his forehead.

“Good Cop–Bad Cop didn’t work, so now they’re sending in Ugly Cop?” The kid slouched back in his chair as if he were in his dorm watching the latest episode of some show glamorizing stupid people, instead of in an interrogation room at a Bureau of Criminal Investigation field office. He looked like every other cocky college kid—hair too long, clothes too preppy, ego too large. He didn’t look like the leader of a sex gang.

“Ugly Cop? The last guy said the same thing. The asshole before him too, and the one before him. See how boring that gets? If you really want to insult someone, you’ve got to get creative. Try again. Lay a real good one on me. One I’ve never heard before.” Xander couldn’t remember the kid’s name—wasn’t important anyway. He took a seat at the table and settled his notepad squarely in front of him with his pen diagonal across the clean sheets of paper.

Scar face. Fugly motherfucker.

The kid opened his mouth, but Xander cut him off. “‘Scar face’ and ‘fugly motherfucker.’ Seriously? That’s the best you got?” Most suspects expected him to be offended or outraged. They didn’t expect his total acceptance.

The kid tilted his head like a dog trying to understand a new command. That’s weird.

Yeah, it was weird. “My name is Xander Stone, and just so you know for your insult planning, I’m not a cop. Never been a cop. Never wanted to be a cop. Don’t even like cops. They’re all pricks. And these guys”—Xander jabbed his thumb over his shoulder at the mirrored glass of the interrogation room—“are some of the biggest pricks of all.”

No one could accuse him of lying. It was no secret he didn’t do well with authority. The only reason the BCI put up with him was because they needed him and his unique style of interrogation.

A smile padded with self-satisfied smugness hitched up the kid’s mouth. We’re back to Good Cop.

“What is he doing in there?” The superintendent’s words came to Xander from beyond the mirrored glass. With his supercharged hearing, the soundproofing separating the rooms was little more than a cotton swab on a spurting artery.

He turned in his seat to face the mirror. Everyone knew about his rule of absolute quiet if they were going to observe. “Silence. I need complete silence. Or I’m out of here and you can let the kid walk.” He glared at the mirror, daring someone to speak.

This dude is certifiable cray-cray.

Xander faced the kid. “I think you might be on to something with that cray-cray bit.”

The kid jerked upright like someone had goosed his gonads. How’d he know what I was thinking? His attention bull’s-eyed on Xander. The kid was just starting to realize Xander had changed the game from checkers to chess.