Author's Official Booksite PINKIE PARANYA

Sample Chapter: Death Has No Dominion
retitled from, Death Shall Have No Dominion

Death Shall Have No Dominion~ Chapter 1 ~

Kate Macklin stared at the grotesque body of a woman in the water. She is down there. The voice whispered into her ear, stiffening hairs on the back of her neck. No! She put her hands over her ears, as if she heard the words out loud. She slammed the lid on the laptop computer, knowing it wouldn’t help. That was where the picture had come from.

Out of the window of the Amtrak car, Kate glanced down into a deep gorge alongside the train tracks. The river crashed over the rocks, exploding in spumes of white, high into the air. The Colorado countryside in the fall appeared brilliantly clear and sharp. A sudden stab of unreality pierced Kate, and she closed her eyes.

In the past, she had seldom ventured out of her house. Now, here she was, Katharine Macklin, speeding through another state, toward a destination she hadn’t yet determined and enjoying moment. Until now.

Without warning, Kate’s fingers grew cold on the edge of the laptop and a sinking feeling settled in the pit of her stomach. Her skin was as clammy and damp as if the spume sprayed over her from the water below. Slowly, cautiously, she opened the computer, expecting—hoping to see the familiar spreadsheet with figures from one of her bookkeeping jobs.

Slowly, in horrifying detail, pixel by pixel, the contorted body of a woman sprawled in death appeared in the center of the screen. Kate opened her lips. A low moan escaped her clenched teeth. She wanted to slam the computer lid down again but shock from what she had just seen paralyzed her.

 

Death Have No Dominion

The woman lay on her back underwater, her eyes wide, with long dark hair floating like seaweed about her head. It was her mouth, open in a silent scream that Kate focused on, feeling the woman’s terror as she died.

The picture zoomed in closer, forcing Kate to view the wound on the woman’s neck. She saw a wire noose, embedded deep in flesh, and twisted behind the head by small wooden pegs.

With shaking hands, she folded up the laptop. She’d get no work done now.

It had started again.

“Are you all right, Miss?”

A quavering voice came from the other side of the aisle.

Kate looked at the tiny, bird-like old woman sitting across from her. She appeared to be in her nineties, at least.

“Thank you. I’m fine.”

The elderly woman gripped her worn brocade bag and stood up. Kate felt her tenseness slowly evaporate, and the chills leave her body. It was good to have a distraction.

“My name is Sarah. Sarah Jenkins.” The woman stood waiting in the aisle for Kate to remove the laptop from the vacant seat.

Despite her reluctance to touch the machine again, Kate picked it up and leaned it against the wall, on the floor by her leg.

As soon as Sarah Jenkins nestled in the seat, she turned her bright black-eyed gaze on Kate, waiting.

“Oh, sorry. I’m Katharine Macklin. Friends call me Kate.” She didn’t have that many friends, but it made her feel agreeably ordinary to say the words.

 

Death Have No Dominion

Sarah reached into her bag and drew out two granola bars, handing one to Kate.

Good. Maybe the woman wouldn’t be able to talk around a mouth full of nuts and caramel. No such luck.

“This is my thirty-second train ride. I dearly love the rhythm of the moving train. It’s addictive. Don’t you think?”

Kate’s noncommittal nods seemed to spur Sarah Jenkins on. “Where are you going? I don’t mean to be nosy, but when I reached ninety, I figured I was allowed certain liberties.”

She smiled, and touched the frail hand holding tight to her handbag. “I don’t blame you. When I reach the age of ninety, I’ll surely remember your words.”

Sarah’s laughter reminded Kate of glass wind chimes in a gentle breeze.

“To tell the truth, I’m not sure where I’m going. This is my first vacation ever and I was just going to stay on the train until I saw something I liked, but…”

“Are you a writer?” Sarah pointed to the laptop on the floor.

Thinking back to her daughter Annie, Kate recalled the last, tragic connection through the computer. She never wanted the gift, as her mother had called it. But her psychic ability came from a dark Scottish heritage. Using a computer worked like a crystal ball might have, but why did her psychic abilities always bring pictures of death?

“No. I’m not a writer. I do bookkeeping at home.” Kate glared at the offending machine.

“And you brought work with you on vacation?” The beady little eyes crinkled at the corners. “Shame on you.”

“You’re right. It was a dumb thing to do.”

She would never have brought it with her if it hadn’t been a shiny new toy, a gift from Captain Murphy’s precinct for her help on the Shoe Man case.

Kate turned to stare outside in a desperate attempt at calmness. The window reflected a thin-faced woman with frightened eyes. Sgt. Slater had told her she was beautiful. How absurd that had been, but for a while, she’d believed him.

 

Death Have No Dominion

“I like your outfit.”

Sarah Jenkins’ chatter interrupted Kate’s gloomy thoughts.

She smoothed out the long skirt of her embroidered denim dress. First new dress she’d bought in years. It seemed especially appropriate to wear through Colorado. “Thanks. I picked this up a couple of stops ago, when the train had a long layover.”

The effect of Sarah’s talking on forced Kate to return to a sense of reality. Something she deeply needed.

“When does the next stop come up?” Kate interrupted the monologue.

“Soon. Very soon. That will be Plenitude, my home. Lived here all my life. Used to be just a ranching community, but it’s a nice little town now.”

“You must be happy and satisfied, living here that long.”

Sarah smiled. “How would I know? Never been anywhere but on those little train excursions I take now and again. Like I said, the town is nice. People complain about not getting cell phones to work here with all the mountains and trees, but I wouldn’t have one of those things anyway.”

Kate didn’t own a cell phone either. Who would be calling her? Before she could say anything in answer, the frail-looking woman scrabbled up with surprising agility from the enveloping seat to gather her purse and luggage.

“I think I shall go to the little girl’s room before getting off. Sometimes Jasper stops only long enough to throw down a bag of mail, but he knows I’m riding today. It was a pleasure visiting with you, my dear. Excuse me?”

Kate watched as she made her way down the aisle toward the back of the train.

A voice came from somewhere in her head. There she is. She is down there.

Not wanting to look through the window again, but unable to turn away, she peered over the trees into the swiftly running river. As they passed one point, the river widened and grew calm.

 

Death Have No Dominion

The water was deepest there and Kate remembered seeing in the computer, where the woman lay at the bottom of the deep water. Could be the woman wasn’t in the river at this moment. Was she dead already, or was Kate seeing the future, an event she might be able to stop from happening?

She turned away from the window, willing serenity to return. The voice continued to whisper.

She is down there.

Her throat felt dry, making it hard to swallow, but she couldn’t help picking up the laptop again. Maybe it had been a momentary aberration, stress from being in an unfamiliar situation.

When she touched her fingers to the switch of the computer, the keys hummed beneath her hand. It was supposed to turn itself off when the hinged top closed. A sense of urgency made her hands tremble and her heart palpitate beneath her sweater. She had two choices. One choice would be to go up on the observation platform and fling the laptop as far as she could over the side of the gorge or…

No good. She could never escape from her visions.

“The next stop is Plenitude.” The conductor moved down the aisle with his announcement.

Kate gathered her belongings in frantic haste, fearful that if she missed the stop the woman in the water might be lost forever. Twice she dropped her purse, her fingers cold and numb. She pushed past a slow-moving passenger in the aisle, her concentration so strong she barely mumbled an apology when the train began to brake for a stop. Sarah Jenkins had mentioned the conductor was quick with his stops. She ran toward an exit.

Something—someone cried out to her for help. She hoped this time it wasn’t the killer summoning her.