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Authors: D.L. Jackson

Slipping the Past

BOOK: Slipping the Past
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The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement (including infringement without monetary gain) is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

 

Please purchase only authorized electronic editions and do not participate in, or encourage, the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

Slipping the Past

Copyright © 2014 by D.L. Jackson

ISBN: 978-1-61333-717-2

Cover art by Syneca Featherstone

 

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.

 

Published by Decadent Publishing Company, LLC

Look for us online at:

www.decadentpublishing.com

 

 

 

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Also by D.L. Jackson

 

Carnal Desires

Carnal Attraction

Carnal Denial

Cinderella Wore Combat Boots

Seducing Liberty

This Endris Night

Her Boogie Woogie Bugle Guy

Being Prince Charming

Beauty and the Brigadier

Rebel Souls

Last Flight of the Ark

Courtesan Boot Camp

Prepper Romance

Finding Mercy

Shockwave

 

 

 

Slipping the Past

 

By

 

D.L. Jackson

 

 

 

Prologue

 

 

He leaned back against the building, panting hard. His heart pounded against rising and falling ribs, almost too painful to bear. His day had just gone from bad to worse. How did one stay ahead of them?

No birthday cheers for him. Today would be his funeral—if the reapers found him. Determined to see another year, he looked left, then right, pushing off the building and into the dim glow from overhead hovering lamps. Maybe he’d lost them. He could only hope. He started down the alley, his tentative steps the only sound.

The damned off-world visitors had forever changed his fate. The alien technology, the bane of his existence since birth, had brought with it an eternal sentence from the moment he’d drawn his first breath. Judged and found guilty when only hours old, on his eighteenth birthday, he’d had no choice but to cut out the tracker inserted in his shoulder and run. The alternative—stick around and wait for them to come for him—was unthinkable. Then he’d find his soul crammed into a spectral cell and forever shelved, becoming another energy source to power the cities.

Clang
!

He spun around, staring down the narrow corridor, not seeing anything that could have made the noise. It sounded as though something had banged against the incinerating trash Dumpster. He narrowed his eyes and ducked back into the shadow of the eaves.

“Morgan Pierson. You have been found guilty of the past-life crime of murder under the Galactic Codex, removing your tracking chip, and evading arrest. As per your warrant, you are to be contained on your eighteenth birthday. You cannot escape.”

Right. I’m damn sure gonna try
. He whipped back toward where the voice had boomed to find an Enforcer blocking the exit to the alley.

The tall reaper cocked his head and lifted a blue, glowing sphere, holding it before him. “Are we doing this the easy way or the hard way?”

Glancing around for anything to protect himself, he spotted some construction debris. He stomped on the end of a three-foot pipe, sending it into the air, where he caught it. His mother had ensured he’d trained for this day. Underground classes, which included street fighting and survival camps, with evasion techniques and methods to become untraceable. “I didn’t do it.”

“That’s what they all say. You going to use that pipe?” The Enforcer yanked his staff free from the harness on his back. “Or are you going to lay it down and make this easier on yourself.”

“Fucking genetic freak. What do you think? I’m going to just let you take my soul? Recycle my body to some asshole who has more credit in his pockets than I do? Not going to happen. You want my soul, you’re going to have to come and get it.”
Peace, my ass. Order in disorder? Bullshit
. He hadn’t so much as shoplifted in the past and didn’t deserve this.

Bread and circus
. The alien visitors had done this for one reason and one reason only: a distraction from what they were really doing, and he wasn’t about to become a casualty of it.

The reaper grinned. “As you wish.” Blue light exploded from the staff as he advanced.

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

A storm’s a coming. It hides the sun.

Here come the reapers,

Run child, run.

Jump once to save your life,

Twice to save your soul,

Thrice to find some rest and four to stay whole.

Five they’re gonna get you,

Six you’ll get away

Seven is for your freedom and eight to live another day.

 

—Post-Apocalyptic Child’s Jump-Rope Rhyme

 

 

New Stratus City, New York

2059

 

“Stuff this in your jacket.”

Jocelyn’s fingers closed before she realized what Nate had crammed into her hand. She shoved the gun back at her brother. “I don’t want that and I’m not going in there to help you do whatever you’re planning to do with that thing.”

“Do you want to eat?”

“We can ask for spare credit.” Everyone had chips with a few credits left on them. Not enough on any particular one to amount to a meal, but several would give them all they needed, and it wasn’t like they hadn’t begged for them before.

“Too cold,” Nate said. “Nobody’s out tonight. I’m not planning anything violent. It’s backup. Besides, I don’t have any bullets.”

“Do you know what they’ll do to you if they catch you in possession of that—bullets or not?”

“They won’t.”

Jocelyn swallowed her words before she regretted them. Whatever she said, he’d do the opposite. Pride often drove him to make foolish choices. He knew they could go to the train station or a multitude of other places within the city, yet robbing a store seemed more appealing than asking for assistance. Using the handgun had been on his mind since he’d latched onto it. She’d told him to leave it. Obviously, he listened well.

When laws made guns illegal to possess, many people had dumped their collections for fear of drawing attention of the reapers and losing their souls. The pistol’s carved grip seemed too fancy for the revolver to be anything more than a display piece. It definitely hadn’t been used in a crime. She’d have known the moment she touched it. Violence left a psychic residue, an icy scum that clung to items handled in rage, making them things she could barely stand to be near, let alone have physical contact with.

She crossed her arms and shivered, pulling her hands back into the sleeves of her jacket. They’d lived on the streets for the last two months, ever since an Enforcer had discovered their location in an abandoned warehouse near the docks. Jocelyn never imagined it would come to this, hiding between garbage cans, trying to stay warm and alive while her brother committed armed robbery. Energy swelled around him. He’d solidified his resolve.

Crap
. “Damn it, Nate. It’s not worth it. I’m not that hungry.” Her stomach contradicted her and rumbled so loudly it sounded like an armored division moved down the block. She slid her hand over her belly, willing it to be silent. It didn’t work.

Nate snorted. “You’re a terrible liar.”

Yeah, but she wasn’t about to admit it. Her stomach ached. Most of the credit they’d made in the last week had gone to purchase a seat on the solar train, where they could be warm. But that ride only went so far. Eventually security would catch them and insist it was one circuit per ticket. They always did. As for the food…tomorrow, the community kitchen would have hot chow. “I can wait.”

“You haven’t eaten anything substantial in three days.” Nate sighed. “I promised Mom I’d take care of you. I don’t go back on my word.”

“She’s gone. She’ll never know. I’ll be okay.” A rush of dizziness hit and Jocelyn sank to sit on her heels. Nate’s energy flared like a starburst, so intense she could feel it buzz against her aura.

“Nate—don’t.” The longer they were on the streets, the more chances he took to keep her safe. The Enforcers were already after her. He didn’t need to become a fugitive, too. If it weren’t for her, Nate would be home, sleeping in a real bed, not picking meals out of the trash or committing crimes, and their mother would be alive.

She should’ve left him before it had come to this, but she worried about the trouble he’d get into on his own. At least, this way, she could try to keep him from doing something stupid. Which, at the moment, she seemed to be failing at miserably.

“I’m going in there to take what we need. We can’t help being hungry,” he said.

“Sit with me and stay warm. I’ll be fine.” She reached up and grabbed his hand.

“No.” He pulled away. “Stay here, out of sight.”

“Don’t go in there. Something doesn’t feel right.” That wasn’t a lie. Whatever was triggering the unease gnawed at the corners of her consciousness. It was there, flashing danger alerts through her brain, waiting for an opportunity to strike, and the last person she wanted the reapers to target wouldn’t listen to her.

“I’ll be okay. I’m only going to nick some food and credit. Small stuff.” Nate tucked a loose strand of hair into her hood. “I'll be right back. Nobody’s going to get hurt.” He turned. His boots crunched on the snow as he walked away, stringing her nerves tighter.

Jocelyn leaned against the brick, closed her eyes, and blew out a breath.
Idiot
. What did he think he’d accomplish? He’d get her one meal and lose his soul over it.
Stubborn, stubborn, stubborn
. Why wouldn’t he listen? She’d be okay. She’d come out of worse situations than this. She opened her eyes and dared to call out to him. “Nate.”

The signature blue glow of his aura was gone, along with the heat from the energy he projected. He didn’t hear her, or, if he had, he wasn’t listening.

Bells jangled from across the street as he entered the store, confirming her suspicions. Jocelyn’s stomach twisted into knots. A train rumbled under her and heat blew up from the grate where she sat on her heels, but it didn’t help the foreboding chill that blanketed her body. She raised her wrist to her mouth and chewed on her jacket’s frozen cuff.

“Be safe. Be safe. Be safe.” She rocked and focused. Nothing. Only that feeling as it grew stronger. “Get out, Nate,” she whispered, mentally reaching for him, hating that she couldn’t see him and was too far away to read his energy.

Nate, listen to me
. Jocelyn reached for his mind, but found a wall blocking her entrance.
Nate! I know you can hear me
.

The wind whistled between the buildings, breaking the silence. Nate held his ground. “Damn.” She’d have to do it. She couldn’t let him take the chance. A distant vehicle alarm screeched, but Jocelyn ignored the sound and intensified her focus. This time, she directed her push at the store clerk and a less resistant mind. “You won’t see a gun. You’re going to give him the credit as change for a purchase.”

BOOK: Slipping the Past
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