Wednesday, December 14, 2011

MIMIC THE DEVIL

Welcome to the release of Mimic the Devil
Click anywhere you see the title to get your copy and start reading today with the Kindle version.  If you're the paper-book kinda person, below you will find the entire preface of Mimic the Devil as well as a few other related things to read and look at while you anxiously wait for it to arrive.
A warning to parents and younger readers:  Mimic the Devil is Adult Fiction.  It contains graphic violence, adult language and adult situations.  It was not written for children.  If you are not of the age to be reading books with these subjects, please navigate to Scarlet and the Keepers of the Light and the world of Satorium.  The Scarlet series was written especially for you...
Mimic the Devil Cover

So what's it about?  Well, I'm glad you asked.  Mimic the Devil is a revenge thriller that follows two young men, Sean and Charlie, and their decent in vigilantism and the toll it takes on their humanity, psyche and place within society.  At times you will be challenged as to whether they cross the line and even who the good guys actually are.  But the heinous crimes they avenge will push your own boundaries as you struggle along with their plight.
At its heart, Mimic the Devil is also a love story.  The tragic loss of love and the promise of love anew.  Sean must face a world in which the love of his life was violently torn from him while Charlie, who has lived a life without even the love of his mother, has to come to terms with the violent life he has chosen and the unexpected romance that finds him.  One can't let go and the other doesn't know how to grab hold.
Meanwhile a veteran detective, Markus, is on their trail and with each act of violence is getting closer to finding them.  But he too is challenged by the moral implications of Sean and Charlie's actions and they are not his only prey.  A vicious killer is stalking Virginia Beach and that case too, falls on Markus's desk.  Before long, they are all hunting the same evil and all must make a decision on how justice is really defined.
A serial killer, a weathered policeman, political intrigue, violence, vigilantes, vengeance, moral controversy and two damaged, lost young men...all collide in a relentless thrill ride that doesn't let up until the final page and will stick with you long after its over.
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For continued information on Mimic the Devil, myself and the rest of my books, please join me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/fortoldon or on twitter @fortoldon.  Remember: Starting at 8:00 pm I will be online at www.facebook.com/fortoldon answering comments, posts, updates, tweets and questions.  So please come over and engage me however you would prefer and fire away.  I hope you enjoy the new book and I look forward to hearing from you.

Brandon Charles West




Preface: Genesis
JUDGE

February 1995, Virginia Beach, VA




The snow was finally falling heavy and even, breaking the tension that had loomed from the dark skies all morning.  Excited children flocked to the windows in complete disregard of their teachers’ warnings to return to their seats.  The city of Virginia Beach saw little snow and the layers of white powder filled the children with the wild anticipation of liberty.  The small amount of light that managed to break through the fertile clouds was cradled by the growing blanket of snow, adding a warm glow to the winter wonderland.  As was the custom in the city, traffic would progressively get worse, people would panic and the roads would shut down until the disaster had melted away.  In the eyes of the children, however, there was nothing but the warm glow, frozen little noses, snowmen, and the chance to delay the responsibilities of budding adulthood and celebrate being a child without the encumbrance of school.
Judge smiled uneasily as he looked out of his office window, thinking of the children.  He and his wife had not had any of their own, but Shelly had been a teacher and he could picture the children from her classes perfectly in his mind.  Shelly had loved children so much.  He would always regret the decision to wait to start a family.  There had always been a reason.  They wanted to wait until they were ready.  They wanted to wait until they could support their kids in ways they both had lacked growing up.  They wanted to wait until they could be the perfect parents. You spend a lifetime waiting for the moment you can say its too late, he thought.  The smile quickly faded from his lips.
Judge returned his thoughts to the snow outside and to the school children whose anticipation he could feel in the air.  He imagined the children having a sense of carpe diem engrained liked instinct; aware of how precious life was at each and every moment.  He brightened again when he thought about their smiling faces; anxious to pounce out of the school doors the moment the cancellation was announced.  A knock at his door pulled him out of his trance.
"Come in," Judge said, with the deep baritone voice he was so proud of.  In his youth, Judge had despised his high nasal tone and had taken voice lessons to change it.  Now, almost thirty years later, the 55-year-old judge had a commanding, soothing tone.  It was deep and forceful, but carried a grandfatherly air.  From his seat on the bench he had conveyed many pearls of wisdom to the condemned and had brought many to tears with his speeches, due in no small part to the affecting presence of his tone.
His clerk, a rather plump, aging woman with a wonderful smile, stuck her head though the door.  "Judge Ross, the jury has a verdict."  She gave one of her trademark smiles.
Judge did not return the gesture, but nodded his affirmation.
"Are you okay?" she asked.  While Judge was five years her elder, the clerk had raised four boys and tended to take on a motherly concern with all men. 
"I'm fine Gladys," Judge said, adding a weak smile.  "Tell them I'll be there in a minute."
Gladys lingered for a minute looking closely at the judge.  He was normally an attractive man; tall with broad, dark features.  He carried a distinguished air that seemed effortless.  Today it looked as if everything took effort.  His eyes were tired and sullen, and his broad shoulders slouched as if he was carrying the weight of the world.  Gladys had not seen the man look like this since his wife had died fifteen years ago.
"You look tired," she said dotingly.  "I'll get you a cup of coffee."  Gladys meekly turned and left the room.
Judge turned back to the window, his mind drifting again to his wife, this time to the future they had planned.  When they retired they had planned to move to Italy, where they had first met.  Judge had often teased his wife that it was only proper that they move back to the old country since he insisted it was the romantic grandeur of the location that had wooed her and not his charms.  She had been so beautiful.  Judge had spent almost his entire life in awe that such a women could want and love him.  Instead of goodbye, each morning he whispered “thank you.”  She always smiled and gave him a firm “you’re welcome.”  Neither tired of the routine, which meant, “I love you” to both of them in ways those three words could never truly express. 
 He remembered that trip to Italy.  He had taken a year off college before he entered law school at Duke University, and he and a friend were on a two-week backpacking trip through Europe.  A week into his trip he met his wife on the steps of the Duomo in Florence.  She was in Italy on tour with her college choir.  Judge noticed her sitting beneath the magnificent cathedral, her nose in a guide book, eyes sparkling with excitement each time she looked up from the page to match what she was reading to the buildings around her. 
In what turned out to be less of an answer to his friend’s dare than a nudge from fate, Judge had walked right up to her and, in horrible Italian, asked her if she spoke English.  It was the smile right before she meekly said yes that would never fade from his memory.  He fumbled through a poor attempt to hit on her and she forgave him.  They had hardly been apart from that moment on.  Judge had followed the choir for the remainder of his trip, watched her sing, laughed and walked with her.  On the last night of the week, they made love for the first time in a hotel in Venice.  He thought of her lying naked on the bed luring him to her.   
Judge suddenly cringed, pulling quickly from the memory.  He refocused on the snow outside his window and began to cry.  He wept for several minutes, the grief tearing through his body.  As he began to shudder, the sun again broke through the clouds, gleaming onto the ground below.  Judge squinted as the glare reflecting off the snow shone through his window.  He turned away; the glare was too bright.  As his eyes focused to the darkness of the room, he remembered what was waiting for him in the courtroom. 
Judge walked into the courtroom from a door at the back.  He looked around courtroom number six.  All the courtrooms in the circuit court of the relatively new Virginia Beach Municipal Center looked basically the same.  Judges were assigned different courtrooms on different days depending on their dockets.  Number six was larger than the others with more pews for onlookers to the courtroom drama, but it had the same layout, the same light wood and modern feel.  Judge liked the older courtrooms better, the ones with darker wood and an ominous presence.  The new courtrooms felt more like classrooms, and while they were built intelligently, with functionality in mind, they didn’t carry the ominous presence of a respected institution in which the fate of people was determined.  Judge’s thoughts wandered through what would be the next few minutes.  Yes, he would much rather be in the old courtrooms.      
Judge sat down and looked at the defendant.  The bright orange jump suits worn by the prisoners, normally humbled and embarrassed them.  The Virginia legislature had argued that having the defendants brought in wearing the loud garments might actually bias a jury toward their guilt.  No proof to this effect had been offered and incarcerated defendants still entered the courtroom wearing iridescent orange.  The defendant now before the judge was neither humbled nor embarrassed by his garments.  He looked about with the same arrogant air he had maintained throughout the entire trial.  Even now, as the jury was about to be let in, and his fate announced, this defendant showed no fear. 
Judge felt his heart race.  Not yet, he thought to himself.  Hold on.  Gladys was studying him with concern from her seat to his left.  He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.  Suddenly, he had the feeling that everyone in the courtroom knew his secret.  Again he breathed to calm himself.  Judge opened his eyes and cast them on the defendant.   
The defendant looked up at the judge defiantly.  They were close to the same age, but that’s where their similarities ended.  Everything distinguished and noble in Judge’s eyes and demeanor seemed in stark contrast to this tall, heavy man.  The defendant was haggard and mean, with piercing cold eyes that showed no compassion or feeling of any kind.  He stood before the court on two counts of first-degree murder. 
The bodies of the two little girls who had become his victims were far too decomposed to determine what other horrors they had faced before their deaths.  The man was a rapist and a child molester, unbeknownst to the family living next door.  He had served a term in prison out of state for his previous crimes which had occurred before the passage of Megan’s Law would have required he go into a database of known sex offenders.  The family of the two girls had waited years for this man to be found and brought to justice.  Judge had waited even longer.
Finally the jury was led back into the courtroom by the bailiff.  As they took their seats a strange calm suddenly came over Judge.  There would be no more waiting.  Judge felt for the cross beneath his robes.  A deep breath, then a smile as he began to speak.
“James Price you will rise,” Judge commanded, his voice almost thundering in the courtroom.  Confused, the defendant’s attorney motioned for his client to quickly get up.  A hushed whisper circulated throughout the courtroom.  Judge ignored it as did the jury who waited for him to call on them for their sentence.  The Judge himself rose, furthering the confusion.  
“James Price, you are a rapist and a murderer,” the baritone condemned.  “With every life you have taken, you have destroyed countless others in your wake.  Families grieving.  Women and children haunted with nightmares.”  Judge, who had looked down, again fixed his gaze on the defendant.  James Price smiled as if Judge’s words were praise for a life’s work.
Curiosity gnawed at the judge as he watched the man smile.  He looked down at the verdict the bailiff had handed him for review.  “You’ve been found guilty in a court of law.  The sentence from the jury is in.  You can’t change those things now.  What do you have to say for yourself?”  It wasn’t uncommon for Judge to let the defendants speak before he finalized their sentence, but something was uneasy and strange about this moment, something wrong and misplaced.  As if the air was forewarning something dangerous that played at everyone’s subconscious.
The defendant chuckled.  His lawyer began to protest but was waved off.  “Well sir,” James Price mocked, “I’d first like to say that I’m sorry for what I done.  I’d also like to take this opportunity to say fuck you and that I thoroughly enjoyed those two little pieces—”
“Silence!” this time Judge’s voice actually thundered.  The audience started.  Judge had to know for sure, from the man himself.  He had to know whether any remorse from the man him might stay the hand of a higher judgment and ruin his plan.
“I have no doubt that a jury will sentence you to a lifetime in prison, but I will not let your final suffering be delayed.” 
The bailiff felt something coming but was frozen in awe, helpless but to watch. 
“You raped and killed those little girls. You raped my wife.  You murdered her.  And after you spend my lifetime in hell, I will meet you there and continue your suffering myself.” 
From under Judge’s robes he pulled a gun, leveling it with the defendant. 

No one could remember which events came in what order.  There was a shriek from the back of the room.  Gladys screamed, “Oh my God!”  At some point the bailiff pulled his gun, pointing it first at the defendant out of habit, then turning it to Judge.  People ran screaming from the courtroom.  Members of the sheriff’s office poured through the secured doors.  The defense attorney fainted, covered in another man’s blood.  No one, however, could forget what had happened first; Judge had fired two shots from a 45-caliber pistol.  The first ripped through James Price’s crotch, twisting the man in earthly pain.  The second blew his head apart in an explosion of red and grey.  In the chaos that followed, Judge had looked to the little girls’ father and they shared a momentary release of hatred and pain; they even shared a smile.




CHARLIE
March 1999, Alexandria, VA



Charlie had long ago learned to contain and even eliminate emotion on the rare occasion it welled up inside him.  As he looked around the padded room, trying to ignore the acrid smell of stale urine that seemed to be soaked into the walls, he felt a twinge of heartache.  His mother sat in a wheelchair in the center of the room, staring blankly at the wall.  The decision to place her in what was to him no more than an insane asylum had not ultimately been his.  However, the powers that be had made it seem so, placing just enough responsibility on his 21-year-old shoulders for him to carry a certain degree of guilt with him the rest of his life.  In truth, there was nothing else that could be done.  He was an only child; he had no other family and no money.  More importantly, money or not, his mother was truly gone.  She had always been troubled, in and out of depression, enraged and docile within the same minute, but the sickness in her brain had now gotten a hold of her completely and she had become catatonic. 
Charlie was no stranger to guilt.  It was the one emotion his mother had allowed him to experience freely and would never let him forget.  Twenty-two years ago, Charlie’s mother had been raped.  Nine months later Charlie was born.  And for twenty-one years he had innocently helped her remember the pain of that night over and over again.  What made it all the more difficult, for both Charlie and his mother, was that she truly loved him.  And so was born with him a codependence to the tragedy which would eventually take her mind and Charlie’s childhood.
“I know how hard this must be for you,” the doctor said matter-of-factly.  He too had long ago put away his emotions, no longer allowing himself to get involved with the lives of the tortured patients he would never be able to cure. 
“Do you?” Charlie asked apathetically.
“I’ll be straight with you son.  Your mother’s probably not ever going to get better and while I know this may seem cold­-this is the only thing that can be done.”  Charlie often wondered why men constantly seemed to refer to him as son.  Did they instinctively know he had grown up without a father, or was he just sensitive to it?  “She needs constant care.  The kind of care you can’t provide and frankly shouldn’t.  You’re a young man, and this is not your fault.”
“I know,” Charlie responded.
Charlie left the small room and entered the hall.  The smell of urine was complemented by added smells of human waste.  Charlie looked down the hall and saw a man sitting on the floor playing in his own feces.
“Damn it,” an orderly yelled running down the hall toward the man.  “Can I get some help? Mr. Herman’s shit himself again.”
Charlie shook his head.  The doctor came out of the room.  He placed his hand on Charlie’s shoulder.  “I truly am sorry son.”
“Me too,” Charlie said.



SEAN
May 1999, Virginia Beach, VA



As Sean drove the small compact down the road, he couldn’t help stealing glances at the two documents that lay in the passenger’s seat.  Both signified life-changing events that would shape his future and happiness.  The first, safely tucked away in a leather folder, represented the culmination of eighteen years of schooling that had dominated much of his life.  Sean had graduated from high school at sixteen, finished his pre-med degree promptly and with honors, and had recently graduated at the top of his class from medical school at the University of Virginia.  The second document was a marriage license.  And even as they were currently calling out his name in absentia on this Sunday morning at the University’s commencement ceremonies, it was this second document that commanded the majority of Sean’s thoughts.
Sean’s mind drifted from the documents and the happiness that awaited him, to the fear and uneasiness that consumed him as he maneuvered the car through the afternoon traffic.  He was not unsure or uneasy about his upcoming marriage; he had loved his bride to be from the moment he saw her.  It was the tears he could still feel against his chest as he had held her softly while she cried.  It was the pain she had endured over the course of her childhood, and his helplessness to ease that pain.  It was the connection all of this had to the place he now drove, the place where she had convinced him it would be all right to leave her alone to gather her things and say a final goodbye.  Her strength and rightful need for closure did not ease his troubled thoughts.  The sooner he could feel the safety of her in his arms, the sooner he could let go of the frustration, anger, and fear.
  Sean put on his blinker and pulled into a left turn lane.  The light turned green, allowing only two cars to pass before changing.  Sean sighed in frustration; he was still eight cars from the light.  He tried to relax remembering her words of assurance. 
“You’re being paranoid,” she had said.  “My mother is the only one home.  He’s out of town until Tuesday.”
“I just don’t see why you need to go back to that house.  What things could possibly still be there that you want or need?”  This was a last ditch effort.  He had long ago lost the battle.
“I need to tell my Mom how she hurt me.  It wasn’t just him who did it.  She betrayed me and she needs to hear that from me.  I want her to see that I am strong enough to put it behind me and say goodbye.”
Her words had sounded so true and strong.  In reality, Sean wasn’t responsible for the majority of her healing.  He had held her when she cried.  He had listened to the horrible memories.  He had been her friend and he had given his love the best he knew how, completely.  But in truth, it was Madison whose strength had brought her through her pain and anguish to a place of peace and health.  That was the reason he had agreed to let her see her mother at her parent’s house.  One last act of closure before beginning a new life together.
The light turned green again and Sean’s car inched closer to the light.  He took deep breaths to ward off the frustration.  He closed his eyes and pictured Madison, lying next to him as the warm sun sent lighter hues dancing across her long golden hair.  Sean allowed himself a smile.  In the five years they had been together, he must have watched her sleeping in the early morning hundreds of times, though each morning he woke silently and watched as mesmerized and in love as the first.  Madison was the most beautiful woman Sean had ever known.  She radiated it as if her beauty sprung from her soul and was reflected in her every movement.  Sean was 25-years-old and could honestly no longer remember a time when he hadn’t loved her.
The horn from the car behind him startled Sean and he came out of his daze in just enough time to pass through the yellow light, leaving behind angry horns and obscenities from the cars behind him.  He turned the car down a side street and headed into an upper-middle income neighborhood with manicured lawns and large homes.  It made Sean angry to know that people like Madison’s father lived in such comfort.  He wondered how many of the homes he passed held similar secrets.
Sean shook the thoughts from his head.  When he let himself think about the abuse and the pain children went through he often became consumed with anger; a feeling which he needed to let go.  The past was just that and his beloved Madison was a strong, healthy person.  She had survived and he needed to let her move on.  He needed to let their life be filled with the happiness that awaited them and let his own anger go.
. . .
“Do you love me?” Madison said, looking behind her to meet Sean’s eyes as she wrapped herself in his arms.  They were sitting in the sand, both facing the ocean that was lapping softly against the moonlit beach.  Madison lay against Sean’s chest, nestling herself in his embrace. 
 “Do ya want me to?” he asked, facetiously, giving her a squeeze.
“I’m serious.”  She again looked at him, this time with a frown.
Sean stared at her for a moment, letting the silence settle her.
. . .
Sean rounded the corner onto the street where Madison’s parents lived.  The police cars and ambulances all seemed fixed in time.  They were in silent suspension as he rounded the corner and fear consumed every part of him.  He couldn’t hear himself breathe, nor could he hear his tires squeal as he downshifted and raced toward the house.  Then all at once it hit him.  The flashing lights. The screams and buzz of people.  The piercing sirens.
. . .
“Listen to me,” Sean whispered, never breaking his gaze.  “I love you more than anything in the entire world.  You’re everything to me.”
Madison smiled, but looked away.  “I know that I’m a pain.  I put you through so much.”
Sean held her shoulders and turned her body to face him.  “You have taught me what it means to love something with everything I can give.  You’re a gift.  The greatest blessing I could ever get.”
Madison smiled again and shifted into his lap.  “You’re my favorite person.”
. . .
Sean careened the car into a curb and jumped out, racing toward the house.  A policeman grabbed hold of him before he reached the stoop.
“You can’t go in there,” the officer shouted, struggling to hold Sean. 
“My­­­­­­-She’s in there.  She’s in there.”  Tears were pushing at Sean’s eyes as he broke free from the policeman. 
Sean ran up the stoop and into the house.  He pushed his way through two detectives before reaching the living room.  The sight before him stole his breath; the pain and heartache furthered their outward climb.
. . .
Sean pulled her close and kissed her cheek.  He looked at the ring on her finger and felt his heart leap.  It did every time he looked at the diamond and realized that it was true.
“Madison,” he asked with enough seriousness that she looked up at him inquisitively.  “I need to ask you something.”
“Anything, darling.”
“I want to spend the rest of my life with you.  I’ve known that since about five minutes after I met you.  I honestly can’t imagine a moment of my life with out you in it.”
“You’ll never have to,” she interrupted, again pulling him close.
. . .
Sean took a few steps toward the center of the room, his movements slow and methodical.  No one moved to stop him.  No one intervened.  They just watched, fixated on the young man who had entered the room.  Sean knelt down beside Madison, who lay in a pool of blood at the center of the room.  Sean removed the knife from the center of her chest and lifted her off the ground.  He held her to him and began to sob, soft and quiet.  Grief had wrenched away his voice.
In the office off of the living room, Madison’s father was slumped over in his chair, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  Under his hand was a suicide note.  Scrawled out in black ink were simply the words:

If I can’t have her,
No one will.

            One of the detectives moved to speak to Sean, but his partner held him back.  “Let him be.”
Sean slowly began to rock Madison’s body back and forth.  “We’re going to be so happy,” he whispered.  “I’m going to make you so happy.”
The tears and sobs had so overtaken Sean that he began to shudder.  He was soaked in her blood and his tears were etching through the smeared red on his face.  “I love you,” he cried.  “Please.  Oh God, please.”  Sean held her to him, continuously rocking.  His words faded to a whisper as he begged and prayed.  Madison lay lifeless in his arms.
Finally the detective knelt down beside Sean.  “Come on Son,” he said compassionately.  “Come on.”
Sean looked up for the first time, his line of vision meeting with the officer’s.  In a whirlwind that had been delayed by his grief, Sean put the events together.  He lay Madison down onto the carpet, managing to stay calm for one last moment.  Then, in a fit of rage, he grabbed the knife by the blade and leapt toward the office.  The knife dug deeply into Sean’s hand, mixing his blood with Madison’s as he reached the office.  An officer tackled him to the ground as Sean threw the knife at Madison’s dead father.  The two detectives rushed to the officer’s aid, attempting to hold Sean down.  Hatred and anger consumed him as he lunged continuously at the dead body. 
The larger of the two detectives pinned Sean’s head forcibly to the ground, cutting off his airflow.  The lack of air immediately weakened him and he began to still. 
“He’s already dead son,” the detective whispered to Sean.  “God will punish him now.”  The words rang in Sean’s ears, as a calm began to come over him. 
The officers felt the young man’s muscles relax and they partially released their hold, helping him to his feet.  Sean’s hand was bleeding profusely. 
“We need to get that looked at,” the detective said, placing a handkerchief in Sean’s hand and squeezing tightly.
Sean looked around as if he had just woken in a strange place.  He stared at the detective, a large black man who was nearly a foot taller.  The detective’s soft brown eyes were moist with compassion; he too was now covered in Madison’s blood.  “Come on son,” he said, leading Sean toward the door. 
Sean blindly obeyed, still in a tranquil, eerie trance.  There was conversation all around him.  Police scanners and radios, neighbors and bystanders.  It all mixed together in blend of noise, rhythmic and methodical in Sean’s mind.
At the edge of the yard, Madison’s mother was explaining to the police officers how her husband had asked her to leave him alone with their daughter.  “He said he just wanted to talk to her.”  “When did he get back into town?”  “Yesterday.  My daughter didn’t know he was back yet, but I thought they should talk.  I told her he was still gone.”
Sean was still in his trance as they passed Madison’s mother.  She began to scream hysterically when she saw Sean, pallid, covered in her daughter’s blood.  Sean turned his head toward the woman, his eyes silencing her screams with fear.  What she could see of Sean’s skin was stark white; red covered most of his face.  His green eyes were in such contrast to the crimson mask they seemed to glow.  “You’re first,” Sean’s voice carried, as if from nowhere, chilling and deep.
“He’s going into shock,” the detective shouted to the ambulance, as Sean legs gave out.  They lay Sean on the grass as the medics rushed with the stretcher.  Darkness began to close in as Sean slipped from consciousness.
. . .
“I was hoping you’d say that.”  Sean kissed her deeply.  When he pulled away she still had her eyes closed, longing for him to return. 
She opened her eyes and smiled.  “Why did you say that?”
“Because I want you to marry me.”  Sean had asked her everyday since she had said yes, and they had played this game happily every time.
Madison smiled coyly and slipped her arms around him.  Madison flicked her ring with her thumb so it jiggled on her ring finger.  “Perfect fit,” he smiled.
“We always were.”  Madison was beaming.  “You couldn’t make me happier if you tried.”
“That’s just what I plan to do. For the rest of our lives.” 
Madison looked at him longingly, absorbing the moment.  She then nudged him until he was on his back in the sand, and they made love, the waves lapping against the shore, rhythmic and methodical.
 

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