Authors: Alexander Dregon
Tags: #Science Fiction
Urges, impulses, deja vu. First contact is not what it used to be.
Terry Bridger is a unique individual. A former Army Ranger, CIA operative, cop and private detective, he now works as a consultant for the FBI. His specialty? Catching the most vicious, most dangerous serial killers. And he has a hidden advantage. He calls him Charlie.
Charlie is an alien.
Not a little green man or anything as mundane as that. No, Charlie is a non-corporeal being known as a Chrliti. He is simply energy. And he is not alone. Others of his race are scattered among humanity, living quietly, and silently in most cases.
But when Terry goes to Chicago to investigate a series of brutal murders of cabbies, he finds out not only what his friend can do, but that others of Charlie's race have some rather special abilities as well, along with some very human tendencies. The trouble is that not all of them have humanity's best interests at heart.
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The Primal Connection
Copyright © 2013 Alexander Dregon
Cover art by Latrisha Waters
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.
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The Primal Connection
To my girl Angela who inspires me, challenges me and, who helped me name this book.
It was dark in the canyon. The moon was full, but in the shadow of the mountains, it was no help. The sky was clear, and given the lack of city lights, it looked like millions of stars came just to hang around in the Montana sky.
It would have been a beautiful sight if he had time to enjoy it. He didn’t. Or rather, the kid in the back of the van he had followed from the little town of Lester didn’t have the time to.
The man looked down at the van pulling in and grimaced. It didn't look good.
He shook his head as he thought about the little town he had trailed this guy from.
He wasn't a huge man. Six two and around two hundred pounds. His body leaned towards the power of a tiger, not a bulldozer. If his face could have been seen in the darkness, he wouldn't have been anything really special. Brown eyes, thick bushy black hair and a strong chin being his only claims to masculine beauty. He was at best a rugged looking individual, not unlike the town that dominated his thoughts at the moment.
Population three thousand, Lester was the quintessential small town—one bank, a gas station, two hardware stores and a Wal-Mart. Its police force consisted of three cars and one motorcycle donated by a nearby Harley Davidson factory. Until recently, the biggest crime they had ever seen was a stolen tractor and the theft of a truckload of turnips.
That was until about two months ago, when a girl reported her friend missing after a night of partying and a sleepover. They had all gone to bed to find her gone in the morning. No one even knew she was missing until that evening when she was supposed to be home and her mother had called to ask where she was. Everyone had assumed she had already left and no one had thought to call and check.
And why should they have? Most people around this area had known everybody else going back two or three generations. People were born there, moved away and came back. If quiet was your thing, this was your Nirvana.
Terry Bridger stood next to the car and stared through the binoculars at the dark custom van as it rolled to a stop, settling heavily on its springs. Nondescript, it looked like any other old customized van, too big to be fast or maneuverable; it looked like a rolling bachelor pad. Terry would have bet it even had a bed in the back instead of a rear seat.
“That’d explain how he gets away with it,”
“Once they see that, they figure it’s too gaudy for anybody to use for a kidnap vehicle.”
Terry nodded. “Yeah.
he’s our boy. Whatever he stopped for, we got to make sure he has this missing girl. We have to prove he’s the right guy before we can call in the cavalry. If we’re wrong, Benin will try to have me run out of town on a rail. Especially after we were so sure over at Billings.“
Charlie had no such lack of assurance about their quarry.
“Oh, there is one of my people there all right. And I can guarantee that this is a sick puppy, as your people say. Probably infected by the fantasies of one of you. How do your people manage to create such evil?”
“Luck of the draw. You make enough combinations and some of them are gonna be bad ones.”
“Hmm. There might be something to that old Roman thing about not letting certain people procreate.”
Terry smiled underneath the binoculars. “Yeah,” he quipped, “but without guys like this son of a bitch, I’d be out of a job.”
“And this is a bad thing how?”
“It would mean I had to spend all day listening to you for one thing.”
“The bad part about that being you might learn something.”
Terry frowned. “Careful. I just remembered the theme to Oklahoma.” He could feel Charlie coil and release.
“Arrgh! You don’t fight fair.”
“No, but I win,” he quipped as the smile returned.
That was it in a nutshell how things worked between Terry and Charlie. Always a constant bickering, an uneasy truce and more often than not, a stalemate. If not for Charlie’s insane dislike for whistled show tunes and Terry’s discovery of same, it could have developed into a very different relationship. One probably more to Charlie’s liking and Terry’s displeasure. In reality though, there was every chance they might have ended up the same. They both had the same inflated sense of logic and fair play, and though Charlie would never admit it, he had always had a secret desire to help the people he had observed for so long.
At this point, it is worth mentioning that Charlie is an alien.
As they waited to see if their quarry was resting, hiding or about to have whatever he passed off as fun, both Terry’s and Charlie’s minds drifted back to when they first met. The memory in one often triggered the same in the other, as they were, in effect, two minds in one body, so as one began thinking about their meeting, it invariably drew the other in.
About ten years ago, Terry Bridger was an army ranger. He was as tough as nails, strong as a bull and as dumb as a post. He wasn’t stupid by any means, just naive. To him back then, the world was black and white. No in between, just what you did and what the other guy did, if the other guy was a heathen with no morals, principles or ethics. He wasn’t the kind to beat bibles or preach at you, but he did think he knew what was right and what was wrong and that, as far as he was concerned, was that.
Then, he met Charlie.
Charlie is, for lack of a better explanation, a non-corporeal being. In other words, as Terry first referred to him, a ghost. Only he’s not the spirit of some long-dead guy who didn’t finish something or got cursed by gypsies. He belongs to a race of non-corporeal beings that call themselves the Chrliti, hence the name Charlie. His real name is Tanoak, but Terry hated that name for some reason and decided to call him Charlie. What they are basically is an energy that’s sentient. Size is relative in any case and unimportant in this one. They don’t really take up space. And in pretty much every other case, they have no interaction with humans. They simply take up residence in a person, draw off a little of their biological energy and watch what that person does.
As they can’t interact with the person, and the person can’t interact with them, they become just another benign organism living in the human body. And as payment for their room and board, so to speak, they can and usually do great things for that body. Like internal repair work and helping along the healing when it becomes necessary. If you have a friend that seems to never get sick and always seems to be in great health or recovers so quickly from injuries that doctors make appointments with him just to watch, chances are he’s one of the, as Charlie calls them,
Terry had been in the army for about two years back then. And without a twist of fate that brought them together, would, in all likelihood, never have been occupied. At least not by Charlie. His last experience in the new world, as he called it, hadn’t been a pleasant one, and he had no desire ever to see the Atlantic again. Terry had never understood it completely. Something about a lot of bad choices on the Titanic.
You must understand here that Charlie’s people have one weakness. Without a source of energy, their lifespan is measured in minutes. Once their host was dying, they had to
more or less, and find a new one. In some cases, when a suitable one cannot be found, they would take one on like a temp. They would still give them the benefits of their abilities; they just didn’t stay around as long. Or in some cases, a client could be too far gone for them to help.
The trouble was that when they made this change, it was the only time that the Chrliti were visible. Just for a second and just as a spark of what looked like electricity passing quickly between two people. It was barely visible at best, but they had learned to keep sightings of it to a minimum. In the old days, it could lead to being tried as a witch or condemned as a demon. And repairing that much damage, while it was sometimes possible, was never pleasant.
Charlie had decided fairly recently, to him, that he enjoyed the desert climate. So for the last fifty years, give or take, he had traveled around the Middle East. He got used to the vicious nature of some of his hosts, but lately, it got harder and harder to find ones that were not totally outside of his range, ones who were not cruel or sadistic. He would stay with one until he proved himself unworthy of the boons he could give and then move on at the first opportunity.
The last one he had before Terry was not as bad as some, far better than others. True, he had killed many times but never out of simple anger or malice. He was a soldier. In the course of his job, he had sent many to the next life, which Charlie did not mind in most cases after seeing some of the things that his victims did in this one. Unlike humanity, Charlie’s people were not evil per se but some were subject to the excitement that humans felt during what they called the
And some, like humans, some became addicted. In some of those cases, when the conditions were right, they would do all they could to repeat the experience.
The years, or centuries rather, had given Charlie a kind of wish list though. He dearly wished that he could, in some way, help the ones like his latest host balance the scales. To hunt down the ones that were the truly evil that infested the world and made life for many a sentence rather than a state of being.
Perhaps he wished too hard.
One day, his host had hunted down several bandits that had been raiding villages along a highway of sorts that ran through Iraq. Trying to find the ones that were in charge, he had offered them his services and infiltrated the bandits, slowly earning their trust in skirmishes with other gangs by happily killing as many of them as he could. His plan had been to find the leaders and lead a group of his own like-minded friends back to them, with murder on their minds.
All had gone well until one of their raids the night before had lead a group of army rangers back to their hideout. Being among them when the rangers attacked, he had no way to convince them he was not what he seemed. In the well-choreographed attack, Charlie’s host had been one of the first to die.
Knowing he had minutes of life left, Charlie had wanted to grab the first one he could see and occupy him, but feared the telltale spark that would give him away. Though they were way past the demonic possession or witchcraft stories, he knew enough to know that there were other stories that had replaced them. Some of them a lot closer to the truth.