Symbiosis

Symbiosis

by Keith Barton

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Overview

Detective Mike Calvert returns to the Austin Police Department from his retirement two years ago to help his former partner, Frank Murphy, solve the case of a serial killer who has killed in three states. The psychotic murderer is a twin who harbors resentment towards his birth parents and proceeds to go on a killing spree that leaves four sets of twins dead. Other university students are terrorized and killed as Nathan Harrison, AKA The Silencer in this suspense thriller, terrorizes the university community in Austin, Texas. His MO includes slicing his victims' throats, running a metal stake through their chest cavities, and tying them up in a symbolic gesture of perpetual enmeshment. The deranged assassin eludes the APD, FBI, and Detectives Calvert and Murphy, continuing his senseless rampage. Mike's intelligent and beautiful wife, Kim, is abducted by Harrison and flown to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where she is held hostage. Follow Mike Calvert as he attempts to save his wife and bring the gunman to justice. The beautiful town of Cabo and its people serve as a backdrop for the last third of this suspense thriller that will leave the reader in shock.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780595184972
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 05/21/2001
Pages: 244
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.55(d)

First Chapter

Chapter 1

Her once brown eyes were closed as if to say kill me now and get it over with. The couple lay peacefully in crimson sheets once crisp and pristine. The man was turned to one side with a gaping wound, beginning just above his Adam's apple and stretching to below his left ear lobe. Blood had soaked the sheets, now a dark brown color. The six-foot frame was contorted, like a twig snapped at the center. A two-foot spike pinned the man's body to one of the slats beneath the king-size canopy bed in this plush Austin home in Westlake Hills far above the Colorado River trickling below the limestone cliff. Chest hairs were matted in corrugated rows against the bloodstained body. The once, black hairs were now a dark gray. The man's face shown horror at his assailant. His eyes, still open, spoke sentences of disbelief and betrayal. Pupils were dilated, and the serene blue eyes were now dark and glassy. His boxer shorts were pulled down to allow the cold steel to penetrate his once muscular body. The skin was cold and hardened. Rigor mortis had transformed the well-defined human form into a cold slab of meat.

The woman lying next to him was clothed only in panties. Her former graceful body was now a mirror image of her husband lying next to her. Her blond hair was matted into an auburn tangle of strands that stuck to her face like cement. A similar spike protruded from her stomach, and a gaping neck wound exuded the skill of a predator gone mad. Her slight frame was cracked in half by the blow of the spike as it crushed her lower lumbar region. Her hands had been tied to the spike with a slipknot that enjoined her to her husband.

Dr. and Mrs. Jack Langley had been the perfect couple, married thirty years since their high school days at Austin High. Deborah had been a cheerleader while Jack eschewed sports for politics, having been elected as class president and most like to succeed. Both were from "old Austin" money growing up in Tarrytown in elegant ranch-style homes made from limestone indigenous to central Texas. Deborah went on to U.T. and succumbed to the usual pressures of grades, sorority, sports, and community service. Jack continued his political career and was elected student president during his senior year. An MCAT score of forty-one assured him a place in a top medical school in the Northeast, but he preferred familiar surroundings, not to mention his high school and college sweetheart, and accepted the University of Texas at Galveston. The year was 1963 when the newlyweds placed their belongings in an Oldsmobile 442 and burned the two hundred-mile stretch to Galveston.

Medical school had been more demanding on the young couple, balancing studies and twins. Carol and Susan arrived on Christmas morning three minutes apart after a twenty-hour labor for a young, twenty-three-year old mother. Jack was finishing his final in biochemistry when the proctor tapped him on the shoulder and motioned him to follow to the university hospital. Running at breakneck speed, the rubber soles left black marks on the white linoleum-square floor. By the time he arrived, mother and twins were safely sedated by the earlier trauma of delivery. Deborah's breathing was almost imperceptible as she lay quietly on the hospital bed, still in her surgical gown. An IV drip slowly replenished her glucose levels. The twins lay quietly in the newborn nursery. They were identical with the same skin creases and color. Jack beamed at his girls who were unresponsive to his love and admiration. Life was just beginning for the Langleys.

The girls were inseparable; Carol, the older by three minutes, was Miss Personality; she was honor roll, cheerleader, homecoming queen, yearbook editor, and volleyball star. Susan, equally intelligent, was more taciturn, preferring to read and daydream. Birthday parties during elementary school were a source of pride for mom and dad. The twins were slowly losing their tomboy features and preferred dresses to bluejeans and T-shirts. Carol, the taller of the two by a half-inch, was bustier and more feminine and prided herself in terms of her figure and personal hygiene. Ever the socialite, Carol wanted status and prestige to accompany her academic awards that would promise her an ivy-league school after graduation. Susan avoided jewelry and makeup for books and daydreams. She refused to date, despite her stunning beauty; she had no time for boys because they served only to distract her from her desired goal of becoming a doctor like her father.

College was the defining variable for a demarcation that would portend a shift for the twins. Carol was accepted by Harvard University and would begin her studies in political science and a career that would open doors in the diplomatic corps. Susan attended MIT, majoring in biomedical engineering, defining a niche for herself in brain implantation research for seizure and Parkinsonian disorders. The young women chose different paths to demonstrate their intellect and creativity. Gone were the days of sibling rivalry-each was now entrenched in a lifelong battle of personal achievement. Family discussions took on an air of intensity and perseverance as the twins became further enmeshed in their careers. After graduation, Carol took a clerkship with an international banking firm in London, while Susan took a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering and began her research career with Clarion Technologies.

The wedding of Carol to Lance Nelson was celebrated with great fanfare. The young couple was married at Tarrytown Presbyterian Church with a reception to follow at the Driscoll Hotel in downtown Austin. Lance and Carol met at Harvard and maintained a long-distance relationship while Lance clerked for a Supreme Court Justice in D.C. and Carol interned in London. Lance had punched all the right tickets: Harvard Law Review, valedictorian, moot court moderator, and awards in constitutional law. No doubt that he would be sitting at the highest level, interpreting the law of the land of national jurisdiction. Family was not a factor for the next five years while both pursued careers.

Susan, the loner, chose a different path after her Ph.D., entering the world of mechanical plastic devices and electrical stimulation of the limbic areas of the brain. Susan chose to return to Austin after her graduation from Emory in Atlanta. She lived in a townhouse on Lake Austin, two blocks from the golf course that she traversed each evening after work to build up aerobic endurance. Evenings were spent listening to classical music and studying anatomy books and an atlas of neurochemical pathways.

Each daughter was exceedingly confident and proficient; yet one suffered from an inferiority complex. Susan could not compete socially with Carol and accepted her self-imposed isolation as a red badge of courage. Family functions were obligatory to Susan rather than opportunities for fun and relaxation. Carol and Lance returned to Austin during the Christmas holidays and the would-be grandparents were disappointed at no announcements. Susan remained in a corner chair while the others played cards and board games. Despite their protestations to join them, Susan preferred her thoughts to dialogue. Although conversations were strained between the twins, everyone understood and respected boundaries. Pleasantries were exchanged for intimacy, and each was content to keep it that way.

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