SHADOW OF DECEPTION (The Kazumi Chronicles #1)
by Sophia L. Johnson
Published on April 19th, 2015
2153, Toronto, United Nation of North America (UNNA)
A horrific plane crash kills all five hundred and forty-two passengers except one. Kazumi emerges from the wreckage physically unscathed but has lost all her memories. Her miraculous survival has the whole city buzzing but all she wants is to go home, wherever home is.
After waiting a month in the hospital with no one to claim her, Kazumi is deemed homeless. She is about to be sent to a nearby teenage shelter when the nurse she grew to trust ushers her down a mysterious path, one that promises safety and maybe even the chance to recover her memories. With no better options available, Kazumi takes her chance and finds herself in the headquarters of the Sarcomeres, a secret society of genetically advanced humans hidden deep inside the Rocky Mountains. The Sarc’s heightened physical abilities and high-tech gadgets are not the only things that fascinate Kazumi. Finnegan O’Riley, a fellow Sarc she meets along the way also gets her heart racing. When Kazumi discovers that she possesses the genetic potential of a Sarcomere, she jumps at the chance to train with them, not knowing the death defying tests that are involved.
Meanwhile, a centuries-old nemesis of the Sarcomeres begins to stir in the dark, setting their dark plans in motion. Just when Kazumi thinks she can help protect her new found home, past memories surface to threaten her new identity. She soon realizes that layers of deception run deep and everyone has a secret agenda, including herself.
Who can she trust when she can’t even trust herself? One wrong decision could bring forth consequences worse than death.
Excerpt from Shadow of Deception – The Kazumi Chronicles #1
Despite my slower pace, we manage to put a good distance between us and the pursuing soldiers. The ruin that was once the train station is far behind us now.
Just when I think we are out of harm’s way, four dark figures emerge from the trees fifty feet ahead, blocking our path. Their faces are hooded by their purple robes.
Finn stops abruptly and I stumble forward. He tightens his grip on me so I don’t trip and fall.
“What is it?” I gasp, feeling like a very large person is sitting on my chest.
“Neuronics,” Finn says under his breath. “Stay close to me, don’t look them in the eye, and don’t believe anything you see. Use this when you have the chance.” He hands me a gun.
I don’t remember if I ever held a gun before, but it’s heavier than I thought. The cool and smooth metal is somewhat soothing against my hot and sweaty palm. There are red markings infused into its gleaming surface, just like the blades I saw back in the training hall. The lines and curves of the characters remind me of ancient runes. And the red ink inside seems to be moving, like a mini river flowing through a maze. This is his gun, not a stolen one from the soldiers like I thought.
“Duck!” Finn pulls me to the ground as a massive tree trunk flies over our heads. I look up and see the four figures still standing at their original spot. Their hoods lowered, revealing their stern faces. All of them male.
I want to ask Finn where did that tree trunk come from but the blue soldiers have caught up to us from behind. Finn springs onto his feet and collides with the crowd of blue in a flash.
I hold up my gun with trembling hands, thinking I can help Finn clear out a few enemies. But the chaotic blur makes it difficult for me to aim. I shift my attention to the purple figures and they too have advanced closer.
Trying to steady my aim, I heedlessly stare into the eyes of one of the Neuronics and find myself immobilized by his intense gaze. No matter how hard I try to look away, my eyes will not comply. I begin to feel something invisible reaching into my mind, like tentacles creeping through my brain, scrutinizing my every brain cell.
Frantically, I drop the gun and clutch my head with both hands. I need to get these tentacles out of my head. But they are growing in number and are now in every orifice of my head.
AHH!. . . gross!
I can see their ends flailing from my nostrils. I grab onto one with my fingers and I pinch as hard as I can. But the damn thing won’t die. The feeling is horrible, like a sickening itch in my brain that I can never scratch.
The sensation intensifies. I drop to my knees with a piercing cry. “Get off me!” I scratch, squeeze, rake, and peel at every bit of tentacle that I can get my hands on. They are too slimy and quick. The terrible itch spreads down my neck, threatening to take over my whole body. I yank one tentacle out of my neck just before it creeps down to my chest, but three more take its place with a vengeance.
“AHHHH . . .”
My hands are furiously battling with the creatures when my knee bumps into something solid. Through the flailing limbs, I see the gun on the ground, the gun Finn told me to use when the time is right.
I grab the gun and press the cold barrel to my head. The agony is insufferable. I wrap a finger around the trigger, ready for my sweet relief.
All royalties made in the first year will go to a charity
called Covenant House, to help homeless youth.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
With a degree in International Business Management, Sophia has worked in a major marketing firm where she realized the corporate world isn’t one she wants to be in. She then made the switch into the healthcare industry as a Registered Massage Therapist by day and a writer by night. She is now a Massage Therapy instructor and a published author living with her husband and daughter in Toronto. Her go-to genres are science fiction, fantasy, and dystopian; or anything that sweeps her away into a foreign world that promises adventure.