Camera Obscura

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Summary

Your memory is gone. Your have terrifying flashes of memory you can't explain. No one believes you. What do you do? With the drug wars heating up and the U.S./Mexican border awash with blood, Mexican Federales and U.S. law enforcement are losing to the drug traffickers; the U.S. Secretary of State has admitted America’s appetite for drugs fuels the escalation. Suffering from retrograde amnesia, photojournalist Lawrence Wheeler is tossed into this maelstrom. Memory flashes haunt Wheeler as he searches from San Francisco to Baja California for clues to his missing past. Sure of only one thing—he can trust no one—Wheeler must find answers to his past before he becomes the next victim of a conspiracy so big that it reaches into the private corridors of the United States government.

Genre:
Mystery / Action
Author:
Scribbler48
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
34
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
18+

Prologue

“How will you do it?” the distinguished man in the $3,000 suit asked.

A small Asian man with wisps of snowy white hair, carefully combed across his balding pate, stood beside him. A neat, white Van Dyke beard framed his smile.

“We have are many effective tools,” he replied. “Sleep deprivation, bright lights, music, many things.”

“Drugs?”

“Oh yes. Drugs. Of course.”

“How long will it take?”

The smaller man shrugged, “Well, Senator, these things do not happen quickly. It will take some time, several weeks perhaps.”

They watched through a one-way mirror as attendants rolled a man strapped to a gurney into to the room and fastened an odd looking device to his head, covering his face.

A blond man towered over the other two. He stared at them with hard, cold, blue eyes. “I still say we should kill him,” He stated equally coldly.

“Not just yet, Wulf,” expensive suit said with a smile. “ We always have

that option. Let’s see what the doctor can do first.”

From the desk in his new office, Lawrence Wheeler looked out of the window at the east end of the San Fernando Valley. The usual smog had been washed away on the previous night by the unexpected rainstorm. Now, the air was so clear above Burbank Village that the San Gabriel Mountains looked as if he could reach out and touch them.

He sighed. Life was good. Last week he had been moved from the bullpen into this office as a reward for being named Reporter of the Year for Southern California. His diploma of graduation from UCLA hung on the wall behind him and a picture of his family--beautiful wife, three year old son, and scruffy mongrel dog--hung on the wall directly across from it. His gaze shifted to the picture, his last Father’s Day present, and he remembered the day; Cara was tearing weeds from her flower garden while Kyle played with Jake the Dog in a sandbox on the far side of the yard. In his mind’s eye, Larry could see the boy’s lips move as he had a one-sided conversation with the dog, whose small tongue lolled out of his mouth as he devotedly watched his little master. Occasionally, the small mouth would open with a soundless “yap” as if in answer to the boy’s question.

Larry turned and looked into the bullpen with a quizzical look. He could swear he heard music; it was soft, comforting, but he couldn’t make out a melody. Strange. The newsroom was always busy, no one had time to listen to music, and soft music would never be heard over the constant drone of voices.

He shrugged and turned back to his desk. It was time to go home. He had promised Kyle that they would toss the ball around before dinner. Glancing gratefully at the sky, he was glad the storm had cleared and the roads were dry. His commute would be a boring forty-minute ride instead of an hour and a half had the rainstorm had continued.

Larry sighed contentedly. He was a lucky man!

The ride home was every bit as boring as he suspected. Bumper to bumper traffic was the rule rather than the exception. Rush hour, a deceptive description of something that usually lasted from around three o’clock till after seven or seven-thirty. Get into the Zen of it; that was the only way to do it, day after day after day. Music on the radio helped some.

Larry thought about Cara. She would have picked Kyle up from day-care, and he was undoubtedly playing with Jake the Dog. She was probably beginning dinner. It was her night to cook, thank god, and he knew it would be tasty. His nights too often were pizza or some kind of take out. He grinned happily.

Just as he turned the car into his street, the music suddenly changed to the ear-piercing squeal of a guitar, the pulse of vibrating rhythm, the pounding of drums; the volume was brutal. He instinctively covered an ear with his right hand. What happened? He hadn’t changed the station.

He quickly shifted his eyes to the radio and reached to change the station. When he looked up, he saw Jake the Dog scamper into the street to fetch a ball. Kyle was hot on his heels with Cara sprinting frantically after him. She barely had time to scoop the boy into her arms and turn when she heard the squeal of brakes and tires. Her last sight was the horrified face of her husband as he looked up from the radio and saw what was in front of him. Her scream and the following thud would live with him forever.

Behind the widow on the far side of the room, the men watched impassively as the man on the gurney struggled against the straps that held him and the equipment that encased his head. They listened without emotion to the agonized cry that rose from the depths of his soul.

“Did you give him enough?” the tall man with the ice blue eyes asked. “Will it take?” he continued when he got no answer.

The doctor smiled without humor. He shrugged, “Only time will tell.”

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