Sample Chapter: Death Has No Dominion
retitled from, Death Shall Have No
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
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
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
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
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
Kate looked at the tiny, bird-like old woman
sitting across from her. She appeared to be in her nineties,
“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
“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
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
“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’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
Death Have No Dominion
“I like your outfit.”
Sarah Jenkins’ chatter interrupted Kate’s
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
“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
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
“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
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
No good. She could never escape from her
“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.