Emily Heart Time Jumper Series
Jay J. Falconer
Genre: Sci-Fi / Fantasy / Paranormal / Young Adult
Publisher: Bear Down Publishing
Date of Publication: 4-10-2015
Number of pages: 430
Teleportation. Telepathy. Superior strength and speed. Abilities she never wanted. Abilities she must learn to control.
Emily Heart used to have a normal life. A life filled with family, friends, and a warm bed to sleep in. But that was before the night of The Taking. The night when she was abducted and genetically transformed against her will.
Now she's lost everything and living on the streets of Glassford Park, struggling to stay alive one more day. But it won’t be easy. Not when a gang wants to kill her, cops want to arrest her, and a reporter wants to expose her.
However, Emily’s problems don’t end there. Any uncontrolled burst of emotion can send her jumping randomly across time and space, arriving naked and alone. If she's not careful, she could travel to infinity and beyond, never to be heard from again.
Emily doesn't quite know what she is, or what she's capable of, but she knows what she can't afford to do -- feel anything.
And she can’t afford to make any mistakes.
Available at Amazon
Jay J. Falconer is an independent author, publisher, blogger, editor, engineer and Sci-Fi junkie who lives in the mountains of northern Arizona where the brisk, clean air and stunning mountain views inspire his workday. He makes his online home at: www.JayFalconer.com and is an active member author with BookBreeze.com.
Mr. Falconer is the author of the critically acclaimed Narrows of Time Series and The Emily Heart Time Jumper Series, and is currently developing an all new apocalyptic Sci-Fi series called Redfall, The Flames of Tomorrow, due to be released in 2015.
Be sure to watch the video trailer for the Author's Narrows of Time book series by cutting and pasting this link: http://youtu.be/QXic3vkwC1U
1: What inspires your work?
I’m an active reader and a lifelong science fiction fan, so it’s difficult to pin down a single source of inspiration. Ideas tend to enter my consciousness from multiple angles, whether it be from a recent science article, a fascinating novel by a fellow author, something engrossing on TV, or when I escape to the theater for a weekend flick. Sometimes, it’s a combination of stimuli that generates a new scene or plot idea. That’s the best part of being an author. You never know what your mind will think up next. Often times, I have no idea how a scene will unfold until it leaves my fingertips, making the writing experience a journey of discovery right along with the reader. I don’t sketch out my plots or scenes, and I usually just start with a general idea and let it fly from there. What happens next is up to my characters to decide, keeping everything fresh and unexpected. Readers can see a stale plot coming from a mile away, so I prefer to let the ideas flow from that special place where ideas bubble to the surface on their own.
2. Who is your favourite author?
No doubt, it’s Michael Crichton, but I’d have to nominate BV Larson for second place. His writing style and literary voice are very similar to mine. In fact, when I’m reading BV’s work, it often feels like my words, making the read that much more enjoyable. If you haven’t read his books, check them out. Great stuff.
3. How many hour a day do you write?
I shoot for four hours minimum per day, but sometimes the energy just isn’t there. I know if I’m not having fun, it shows in the scene I’m working on. However, when I do get in the zone, I can jam on the keyboard literally all day (or, until my brain oozes out of my ears.)
Keep in mind, I’m not always working on new content. At the end of every week, I go back and reread and rewrite everything that was produced since the last refresh. A scene’s first draft is never complete or satisfactory, requiring another two or three passes before it’s ready to be seen by anyone else. I’m a bit of a perfectionist. It takes time to get the pacing, flow, and words just the way I want them.
One thing I should mention, I do have a full time software engineering job that takes priority, but I usually find the time to get my writing done each day. It’s all about time management and diligence, and lack of sleep.
4. Do you write to a soundrack?
Not in a musical sense. I live in the rural mountains of Arizona, so the melody of nature takes care of that for me.
5. Action or romance?
I write paranormal action thrillers with some sci-fi and romance elements mixed in. It’s a rousing blend of genre’s, giving me tremendous latitude for what comes next in the story.
Emily Heart pushed through the burning pain in her chest and thigh muscles, convincing her legs to run faster. She dodged a park bench before jumping over a homeless man lying under a pile of cardboard.
Her mind’s eye could see the gunman aiming his sights at the back of her head and squeezing the trigger, sending the bullet out of the barrel and downrange with supersonic intent. She leaned to the left, letting the round whiz past her fifteen-year-old body. It took out the headlight of a cement truck parked across the street near the alley behind Glassford Street.
The flickering specks of blue light were fading in her vision. It wouldn’t be long before she turned normal again. She would then be unable to see through the gunman’s eyes, or sense the cold blackness of hate she could sense in his heart.
She bent forward at the waist, using a low-profile running pattern, hoping she’d make it safely to the alley. She ran through the grass at the edge of the park, over the sidewalk and hit the asphalt, racing across the empty lanes of the street.
More gunshots rang out, one after another in quick succession. She couldn’t see where the bullets were headed, telling her the link with the shooter was broken. Bricks and mortar exploded all around her as the hailstorm of rounds missed her. They hit the side wall of an old warehouse covered in spray paint and gang signs. She turned right, just before the cement truck, and ran down the alley.
“Don’t lose me!” she yelled at Junie, who was sprinting in front of her, a book bag bouncing on the back of her rail-thin body. Emily was falling behind, unable to keep up with the speed and endurance of her twelve-year-old friend from the homeless shelter.
A minute later, she heard another round of weapons fire erupt as she was nearing the far end of the block-long corridor, plinking and ricocheting off the walls around her. She felt the wisp of a bullet fly through strands of her flowing red hair. It took out the painted window on the wall ahead of her, shattering it into a million shards of colored glass.
She looked back and saw the gang leader standing at the entrance to the alley, changing the magazine in his weapon. His crew came running into view, just catching up to him.
She made the corner and ran further down the passageway, which stank of garbage and sewage. She hurdled a pothole, then flew over a garbage can laying on its side, almost losing her balance in the process. But she managed to keep her feet under her while her shoes pounded the pavement ahead.
Faster, she told herself, faster! She pushed her feet to their tripping point, trying to draw more blood and oxygen than her teenage body could deliver. Her legs wanted to quit—so did her lungs—but she wouldn’t let them.
She pressed on, looking ahead, trying to spot Junie, but she couldn’t see her anymore. She turned another corner and saw a scrawny, dirt-covered leg sticking out from behind a pile of stained mattresses leaning against the wall. She ducked in and grabbed her friend by the shoulder, dragging her eighty-pound frame forward.
“Run, baby, run! Don’t stop! One more corner and we’re there! It’s on the left!”
Emily had learned over the past two years of living on the streets of Phoenix that the blistering summers were endless and miserable, and so were the nights, keeping most of the normal people indoors. She knew that nobody was watching, and nobody cared. There would be no rescue. Not at this time of night, and not in this part of town. It was up to her to get Junie to safety before the shooter and his crew killed her.
She felt a familiar tingle start to grow at the base of her spine when she turned the last corner. “Oh, no! Not now! Not again!” she cried, trying to steady her nerves as she caught up to Junie, who was squeezing her skinny body behind the dumpster.
She couldn’t let it happen. Not so soon. She’d barely recovered from the last time. She needed to focus all her attention on Junie, and let the balance of her emotions run dry. It had only been four days since she’d met her fiery companion in the homeless shelter, but she felt a strong connection with this girl, even though she barely knew her. She didn’t know why, but something inside of her told her to protect Junie. She was important somehow, not just another homeless girl with a deadbeat mother nobody cared about.
She followed Junie behind the garbage bin and into the hidden doorway; darkness engulfed them. “Down the stairs. And stay quiet,” she told Junie in a whisper, locking the door behind her.
“But I can’t see.”
“Go slow and use the handrails. There are twelve steps. Count ‘em as you go.”
They made it down the steps and through another doorway that led into a basement storeroom. It was piled high with junk and old restaurant equipment that had been mothballed by the owner. Emily knew this place well, spending at least one night a week there in recent months. It was her secret hiding place where she could escape the insanity of the city.
An emergency exit sign hung over the inside of the door that she’d just entered, showering an eerie redness over the scene. On the wall to the left stood another door. It led to a flight of stairs that rose up to the kitchen of a high-end Italian restaurant. Emily had made friends with the eighteen-year-old busboy, Parker, who was also a volunteer at one of the local shelters. When he was the last one to leave for the night, he’d push the red dumpster close to the door as a signal to Emily that the door was unlocked and she was welcome. She’d swoop in around midnight, and lock the door behind her.
“Over here,” Emily said, gesturing to a huge metal cabinet with rusty hinges that was standing next to a stack of Styrofoam coolers. “I think we lost them.”
Junie’s chest heaved in and out as it worked to recharge her lungs after the long run. “How do you know?”
“I can’t feel them anymore,” Emily replied, equally as winded.
Emily quickly opened the white cooler sitting on top and put her hand inside, pulling out a cellophane-wrapped peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a banana. As usual, Parker had left the food for her in the top cooler with a chilled Pepsi acting as ice to keep the contents from spoiling until she arrived. She tore the cellophane off, split the bread down the middle, and gave half of it to Junie.
“Here, eat while you can,” she said, before stuffing the sandwich into her mouth, chewing it with abandon.
Junie did the same, smiling, with peanut butter stuck to her teeth. “Sea food,” she said with her mouth full.
Emily laughed. “We have a banana for dessert.”
She popped the Pepsi open and waited to see if the contents would bubble up. It did. She sucked the cola off the top of the can until the carbonation settled down, then gave the soda to her friend.
Junie guzzled several swigs before giving it back to her. Emily swished the can around in a circle to test its volume—only a quarter of the liquid remained. Emily finished her half of the sandwich, then washed it down with the last bit of Pepsi.
They plopped down against the wall beside the cabinet. Junie wrapped her arms around her knees, keeping the dual-strap backpack sandwiched between her thighs and flat chest.
“Junie, that’s not yours. Where did you get it?”
“I—” Junie hesitated. “I took it.”
Emily sighed, feeling disappointment spread across her body. “What’s in it?”
She shrugged. “I snatched it from those boys right before you showed up.”
Junie gave her the backpack.
Emily unzipped it and peered inside. “Uh-oh,” Emily groaned. “We’re in big trouble.”
She tipped it to the side and opened it wide so Junie could see the money inside. Lots of it. Bundles and bundles of wrinkled $100 bills, each wrapped with a blue rubber band and slip of notepaper with a four-digit number written on it.
* * *
Outside, the group of West Side Locos that had been pursuing the two street girls were becoming agitated. Their leader, Flaco, was more than agitated: he was pissed. The chase had taken them several blocks outside of their home turf and into enemy territory. He knew it was only a matter of time before a member of the Glassford Gatos noticed their trespass. His crew was light, no match for a full-out fight with a two-dozen-strong gang.
The crew stood in a loose bunch on the sidewalk at the far end of the alley where the girls had disappeared. Flaco was sure that the girls couldn’t have made it all the way to the end before his crew rounded the corner. They must be hiding in the alley somewhere.
“Where’d they go?” he yelled at his lieutenant, Nesto, shoving him against the wall, his gun pointed up under his chin. “El stupido! You let that street chica snatch the buy money?”
Nesto shoved him back, hard.
“Get the fuck off me!” he yelled. “I didn’t do anything. She was already there. It was your dumb-ass idea to set up the buy at the rec center. Back the fuck up.”
Flaco backed away, lowering his gun. He looked down the alley, the way they had come.
“Okay. They have to be in this alley somewhere. No way they made it all the way through here before us. Split up. You two, this side; you two, that side,” he said, gesturing down the alley. “Search everywhere. Garbage cans, dumpsters, everything. We gotta get it back. Nesto, go back to the other end and keep eyes. I got this side.”
The crew split up, following his orders.
Flaco knew that if they didn’t find the money, he was a dead man. His uncle would kill him without a second’s remorse. He’d trusted him to make this drop with the Russians—the first really big one since he’d decided to quit high school and join the family business. He paced back and forth, trying to find a way out of the situation. He was about to give up on the search when one of his crew whistled from down the alley. It was the new kid, barely 14 years old. What was his name? Derek? Kid didn’t look Latino, but he swore he’d grown up in Hope Gardens on the West Side. Not that it mattered. His uncle told him to take him along and break him in, so he did. “Do as you’re told, and don’t ask questions” was a phrase that he knew all too well.
The new kid was waving at him to come take a look at something.
Flaco ran down the alley at full speed. “What you got?”
“Doorway,” Derek replied, pushing the dumpster away from the wall. He pointed at the doorframe where a torn shred of clothing was hanging on a nail. “Check it out. Wasn’t the older girl wearing a blue T-shirt?”
Flaco smiled. “We got ‘em. Good eyes, new boot.”
Flaco heard a cry from Nesto, who was running toward them in a full gallop. “Policía! Policía!”
A police cruiser came screeching to a halt, blocking the alley at the end where they’d originally entered. The cop gave the siren a quick double blast and then called over the loudspeaker.
“You there! Stop where you are! On the ground! Hands behind your head!”
Flaco and his crew took off running in the opposite direction, but another police cruiser with lights flashing and engine roaring skidded into the mouth of the alley, trapping them.
“This way!” Flaco yelled, instantly reversing direction. He ran a few feet, then veered and kicked in the door that the new kid had found. He ran into darkness, not expecting the ground to disappear from under his feet. He yelled as he fell down the void face-first. He bounced and flipped, cracking his head on one of the steps on the way to the bottom.
* * *
Emily’s spine tingled again, deep down at the base, but the tingle was stronger than before. She knew it was coming, and she wasn’t going to be able to stop it this time. The gunshots must have started the countdown. Guns always sent her mind into a blur and her heart racing, charging her body with a rush of uncontrolled emotions that seemed to act as the trigger for the blue light. Gunfire and gangs were two things that she had fought hard to avoid during her time on the streets.
The jump was coming, but she couldn’t leave Junie to fend for herself. She needed to think of something. She usually had seventeen minutes from the first tingle until the blue light consumed her and she’d vanish. The pre-jump process used to proceed like clockwork, but lately it had been different. The lead time was now ten minutes, tops, from the first indicator to the last moment. Barely enough time to find seclusion before it happened. She didn’t understand why the timer suddenly decided to change, it just had.
Now that she had a friend in tow, she couldn’t slip away into the shadows and let it take her. Not with Junie depending on her. This is why you never break the rules, she scolded herself, as she reviewed the list in her head. Her mind highlighted rule number seven in bold—never get involved; nothing good ever comes from it.
Junie was babbling on and on, trying to explain what she was doing on the playground next to the shelter in the middle of the night, and why she’d stolen a backpack from a bunch of West Side Locos.
“I was sitting in my secret place under that little arbor thing, ya know, in the corner by the bathrooms. I was waiting for some drunk to finish his dump and leave so I could wash up. I heard the Locos coming up the walkway through the trees by the picnic tables so I hid. I knew the bag was important because they were arguing about it. Then they all turned their backs and kept yelling at each other. English mostly, but some Spanish sprinkled in. They just left it sitting there on the picnic table. I thought I could sneak up and grab it and get away, then sell whatever was in it. I hate living in that shelter, Em. Too much touching. I don’t like all those hugs, and people wanting to give me a bath all the time. They think they have to help me just because Mom leaves me alone for an hour to go out and get high. Plus it smells like vomit all the time.”
The tingle in Emily’s spine crept up to her shoulder blades, confirming what she already knew—the countdown had started.
“Shhhhh,” she said, covering Junie’s mouth with her hand. “I hear voices outside.”
“Are they coming in?”
“I don’t know. I can’t sense them. The walls must be blocking.”
They listened. There were muffled voices just outside the door, at the top of the stairs where the dumpster had hid their escape route. Emily’s pulse started to pound even more, thumping in her eardrums. The tingly feeling shot up to her neck. She took a deep breath, trying to focus her thoughts away from the ticking bomb inside of her. She had to do something with Junie, and fast. She only had minutes.
“We have to get out of here,” she whispered. “We can sneak out through the upstairs—it’s a restaurant, and they close early. I doubt anyone is there this late, but we’ll probably set off the alarm when we leave.”
“Do you remember my friend Parker that I told you about? The busboy?”
“He disabled the sensors on the back door so I can sleep here whenever it’s raining, or when he leaves food out for me. Nobody ever comes down here except him when he takes the trash out, so he leaves food for me whenever his boss leaves early. I never go beyond this basement. That’s our deal. But we don’t have a choice this time. Just stick close and we’ll be fine. If I run, you run. Got it?”
Junie’s eyes widened. She looked scared, but she nodded.
They got up and made their way across the room as shouting rang out from the alley above. They froze. Emily heard a police siren chirp twice, then an amplified voice that sounded like it was coming over a loudspeaker. Shit. Cops. Definitely cops.
Thump! Thump! Thump!
“The Locos are trying to kick the door in!” Junie said.
Thump! Thump! Crack! The door at the top of the stairs to the alley slammed open, and one of the West Siders came tumbling down head over heels. He fell through the door at the bottom and landed on his side in a heap, just inside the entrance of the storeroom. His eyes were closed and his head was bloody. He started to moan.
Emily covered her mouth.
“Flaco?” a Latino voice called out from the top of the stairs. “Flaco? You okay?
Emily held a finger to her mouth, reminding Junie to be quiet.
The same voice spoke again. “Send Derek down to check.” A few moments later, footsteps pounded the wooden steps, getting louder with each beat.
“Run!” Emily whispered in Junie’s ear, shoving Junie across the room toward the door that led to the kitchen upstairs. Junie opened the door and ran up the steps. Emily was about to follow her friend, but stopped when she heard another person breathing heavily behind her. Something told her to turn and look at him. It felt like curiosity, but it was more than that.
He was young—too young. Maybe a little younger than she. The red glow of the exit sign made it difficult to be sure, but his spiked hair looked to be jet-black, with triangle sections cut down to the scalp above his ears. His eyes were either blue or green. She hoped blue. Tattoos covered both of his forearms like a sleeve, and a single gold earring hung down below his left ear. She didn’t recognize its unique shape—maybe it was a symbol, or something that he’d made. He was two inches taller than she, with high cheekbones that perfectly offset his narrow, aquiline nose and full lips.
Emily couldn’t help herself. She stared into the eyes of the pretty boy. A thought came unbidden into her mind: he’s way too cute to be part of this.
“Damn girl, you’re smokin’,” he said, with a voice much lower than she had expected. His eyes moved down across her figure, then back up.
She smiled when he made eye contact with her again, sensing that he wasn’t going to shoot. He was calm and quiet on the inside. There was no malice in his thoughts, just a growing feeling of desire that excited her.
He lowered his gun.
Then a voice came flooding down the stairs, as did more footsteps, breaking the calm. “Derek?”
Derek bolted across the room at her. Emily came to her senses and lashed out with her right foot, just like Master Liu had taught her. The lightning-fast front kick struck him in the groin and he fell back to the doorway and landed on top of Flaco, temporarily blocking access for the rest of their crew.
Emily ran upstairs and shut the door behind her, jamming a metal garbage can under the doorknob to slow the gang down.
Junie stepped out of the shadows in the dimly lit kitchen. She was holding a stainless steel skillet cocked by her ear, ready to brain whoever came up the steps.
“It’s me!” Emily hissed, taking the weapon from her friend. She put it on the counter next to the prep station. “Hurry, out the front. This way.”
She ran past Junie through the double swing doors where the dining room of the elegant restaurant was waiting. Lights from the street cast shadows across the empty chairs, wooden tables, and the bubbling lobster tank. The tables were covered with white tablecloths and folded linen napkins, wineglasses, and elegant cutlery. The floor was spotless and shiny, and there was a fresh scent of pine in the air.
Emily felt a tremor rise up through her body. What had begun as a tingle in her spine was now an overwhelming, full-body sensation. She felt electrified and alive, like she always did right before a jump, meaning that her senses had now been supercharged, allowing her to have visions of the immediate future. Normally, she would use this ability to know where to hide until the jump came and she could disappear. But this time, she couldn’t just use her abilities to protect herself. She had to make sure Junie would be okay before she vanished.
She knew that another thug was about to start kicking at the door to the kitchen behind her, and then bolt through it and find his way into the dining area, where he’d start shooting his machine gun. She could sense his plans, and felt the anger boiling inside his chest. It wasn’t the pretty boy that she’d kicked in the basement. This one was itching to kill.
She waited a few seconds for what she knew would come next. It did—the extra strength that hard-charged her muscles, allowing her to become stronger and faster, but only for a short time. It would fade from her body the moment time began to slow down, which was the last step in the process right before the jump.
She scooped Junie in her arms like a rag doll, ran across the dining room in a flash, and dove over a low wall that separated the foyer from the dining room. Junie sat in a ball, clutching the backpack to her chest, holding onto it for dear life.
“You know they don’t serve peanut butter in a place like this,” Junie mumbled.
“My mom used to be a hostess, so I know. Your friend must have brought it from home. I think he likes you.”
She took Junie’s head in her hands and looked her in the eyes. “Listen to me. We don’t have much time. As soon as I’m gone, wait for the glass to break on the front window. Then go through it and run outside. Hide the backpack somewhere safe and go find the cops.”
“Cops? We don’t like cops!”
“This time we do. They’ll protect you. They’re holding back now, but they’ll be here in a few minutes.”
“When do I run, again?”
“After I’m gone, you’ll hear gunfire, but don’t be afraid. The bullets won’t be coming at you. A man will scream, and then glass will break. That’s when you run. After the glass breaks. Got it?”
Junie gulped as tears began to flow, but she seemed to pull it together. She sniffed and nodded. “Thank you, Em.”
“You should use a tablecloth so you don’t get cut,” she said, helping Junie put her backpack on.
“When will I see you again?”
“It might take me a while, but I’ll find you. Now cover your ears, and don’t scream when you hear gunshots. He won’t be aiming at you. Just wait for the glass.”
Emily heard the double doors swing open and smash against the walls on either side of them.
Emily took a breath and steadied herself for what she was about to do. The closer she got to a jump, the more it happened: time got slow and she got fast, but only for about fifteen seconds of her time immediately preceding a jump.
She felt the blue energy rise up through her body, telling her that it was time to act.
She sprang over the wall and ran at the gunman in a cloud of blue. She could see three bullets just leaving his gun, hanging in midair, with smoke trails behind them. She touched the bottom of each bullet with her finger as she zipped past them, then grabbed the wrist on the man’s gun hand and added a twisting force to it.
She turned her attention to the second villain who had been frozen in time, stepping through the double swing doors. There was another man in the kitchen behind him, but she didn’t see the pretty boy, Derek, anywhere. She grabbed the second man’s shoulders and spun him around so that his gun was facing the third man, who was not far behind. She gently touched the trigger finger of the second gunman, then moved to the third Loco and did the same with his trigger finger.
She dashed out of the kitchen and into the dining room, where she applied pressure to the underside of a table built to seat eight people, calculating the trajectory of its flight in her head.
She knelt on the ground, then curled herself into the fetal position and waited for the last second of the countdown to tick by. It did.
The jump pain hit as her body began to sizzle with blue lines of energy, like tiny lightning bolts crisscrossing her skin. A searing bolt of agony shot from the back of her skull to the center of her forehead, just as she was consumed by the blue fire and vanished.
* * *
Junie heard things happen just as Emily had described: first there were three shots of gunfire that tore through the ceiling panels above her, then a man screaming in pain, then more gunshots, then more screaming, then glass breaking, and a second after that, the alarm system began to wail.
She took a deep breath and ran to the front window, seeing a man on his knees holding his wrist, and two bodies a little further back lying on the floor, bleeding from their chests. She snatched a tablecloth, stepped on the wooden chair closest to the broken window, spread the tablecloth over the bottom of the frame, and climbed out. She heard sirens coming from the right, but she decided to go left instead, running as fast as her feet could take her.