Final Shadows (A Bishop Files Novel)

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9780515153354: Final Shadows (A Bishop Files Novel)
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A desperate underground war with the survival of millions at stake looms in the electrifying conclusion of the New York Times bestselling Bishop Files Trilogy.

Tasha Solomon's world turned upside-down when the psychic abilities she had tried so hard to live with in secret suddenly made her a target stalked by unseen enemies.

John Brodie is by nature, by training, and by instinct a Guardian. He is a member of an intricate and secretive network of individuals who have devoted their lives to the deadly struggle of saving psychics in danger of being taken or being killed. It is a war very few other people even know exists, and yet its tentacles stretch deeply and dangerously into every aspect of society.

Tasha has abilities not even she is aware of, abilities that the other side would give virtually all they possess to destroy. And if being hunted like an animal were not bad enough she has to learn how to become a warrior in a battle she did not choose, to save people she does not know, and possibly even the very world around her.

If John Brodie can keep her alive long enough.

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About the Author:

Kay Hooper, who has more than thirteen million copies of her books in print worldwide, has won numerous awards and high praise for her novels. She lives in North Carolina.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected copy proof***

Copyright © 2018 Kay Hooper

 

The Bishop Files

Final Report

August 31st

To Whom It May Concern:

I hardly know how to begin this report. There are many reasons, not the least among them being that I myself got much more deeply involved in the situation than I had any idea of becoming when I first became aware of what was happening in the then loosely organized, almost entirely underground psychic “community” I was only peripherally aware of at that time.

I believed that not only could I remain on that periphery, observant and seeking to understand without interfering with what was happening, I believed it would be best for me to do so. Best for their struggle. Best for my own growing teams of psychic agents and investigators, the SCU and Haven. Best for these “civilian” psychics, living their desperate, secret lives alone for so long by necessity even as external events and a growing threat pushed them to reach out, to form connections between themselves and others like them in a response that was, I believe, entirely organic rather than in any way planned.

At least in the beginning.

I have come to understand that in ways I never understood before, I myself am a part of that psychic community, connected to it, linked in a way I had not believed was possible. It is something apart from the connections I feel for my teams within the SCU, a different sort of bond formed for a very, very different reason. But another organic, naturally evolving link that quite literally became necessary for the continued existence of psychics and even, perhaps, of our human species.

And the more specific links, links between myself and Miranda, between John Brodie and Tasha Solomon, between Sarah and Tucker Mackenzie, between a ten-year-old orphan child named Annabel and her unusual constant companion, and last but not by any means least the link all of us have with a remarkable woman named Murphy—those connections and others began to assemble, finally, the puzzle of what was really happening here, and why.

Even the “bad” actors in all this had their parts to play, and often very highly unexpected and even positive ones. Though I have often found a clear line of demarcation between good and evil, black and white, it more often seems there are many shades of gray, many complex combinations of both good and, arguably, evil.

Evil acts do not necessarily mean that all involved are evil. And seemingly benevolent acts are not always what they seem. Lessons hard-learned.

And perhaps it is simply a universal truth that if, between the goal and the reaching of it, too many years pass, too much distance exists, too many events occur, too much “new” history is built and old history lost, then those once obsessive goals begin to be questioned at least by some, previously ruthless methods begin to be questioned, then that, too, is another piece of the puzzle, and a vital one.

Understanding that puzzle and what it meant had finally come, but also understanding the part each of us had to play in order to triumph. And we had to triumph. There was so very much at stake in this battle. This war. Far more than most people will ever be aware.

Few of us are able to go through our lives feeling certain of why we’re here, of what part we’re destined to play in our lives, let alone in our world, our history. Few of us are ever granted the certainty of knowing that our actions have true meaning, not only for ourselves but for others, even for the whole of humankind, and perhaps even its destiny.

But if any mortal can know the truth, or at least part of the truth, an unexpected and wholly remarkable part of our history and our future, a small group of very special humans knows it now. I know it now. If any mortal can look at his or her world and be certain that their own acts matter in the existence of that world, even the continuance of it, that group of people and I know it now. If any mortal can be certain of his or her place, or his or her part, in defending the very existence of our own species . . . it is something of which we are utterly certain now.

The story is incredible. Some would never believe it. If I had not been a part of it, I am not sure that even I—with so much knowledge of the capabilities of the human mind, both “normal” and paranormal—would have, could have, believed it. But I was a part of it, I bore witness to what happened and why, and I am very much a believer.

I will set down as much of this knowledge and understanding as I feel I may as we agreed, here in these private reports, which may or may not be opened and read one day, depending on your decision and those who come after you. After us both.

Perhaps not would be better. But I will leave that call to you or to someone who comes after us to make. There will always, I fear, be the threat of some outside enemy determined to destroy us, and should that happen in the future, then perhaps our world will need to know that we are capable of fighting back. Even quietly, secretly, and without fanfare. Capable of fighting back, and of winning.

Despite even my own doubts as to the wisdom of revealing what lies herein my report, I only hope that one day the truth can be known.

I believe we owe that much to the warriors, to the fallen, to the silent, unnamed, unacknowledged, and largely unknown watchmen on the walls of our civilization who have guarded us, the most vulnerable among us, and even our society, without our awareness. As dangerous as the truth may prove to some, as unbelievable, as frightening, it is a truth all of humanity should know.

Respectfully submitted.

Noah Bishop, Unit Chief

Special Crimes Unit, FBI

 


 

The darkness drops again; but now I know

That twenty centuries of stony sleep

Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

—W. B. Yeats

 


 

One

Wake up.

You need to wake up.

Henry, you have to wake up.

They’re going to kill you.

Henry McCord had a lifetime of practice in hiding the fact that he saw dead people. A medium, that’s what it was called. He’d been a medium for thirty-six years, more or less. He could actually remember the first time he had seen the dead and understood just what he was seeing. At his grandfather’s funeral. The old man had stood on the other side of the casket and winked at him.

Henry had been six.

So, thirty years, really, of learning to cope in whatever way he could. Realizing early on that grown-ups didn’t want him to talk about the dead people, that it made them really uncomfortable. Which had puzzled a childish Henry, since it seemed to him they would have liked to know that they didn’t just go into the ground in a box and get covered with dirt, that there was something more than that. It had reassured Henry, at least then.

Now . . . he didn’t even know if he still believed that. And despite his several conversations with Bishop, he was still unconvinced that he could ever learn to control his abilities well enough to make some kind of better use of them.

He still didn’t get how seeing dead people could be put to any real use at all, far less some larger, more important use. Not even in investigating crime, since Bishop had told him somewhat ruefully that the dead, especially the murdered dead, seldom showed up to help in any way at all, far less to tell those investigating the crime who had killed them.

So what was the use in that?

What made that a larger, more important use of his abilities?

Having some sort of control over what he could do had appealed to him, if only when he’d thought he might be able to control it. He had tried. When he was alone. When he could try without fearing somebody would come along with a giant butterfly net and scoop him up and take him away to a mental hospital where his “gift” would be medicated away . . .

They took you. Not doctors. The others.

Others. The others. The others?

What the hell?

Henry had thought he was asleep and dreaming, but . . . it didn’t feel like it was a dream, that voice in his head. It didn’t feel like his soft bed beneath him. It felt like something cold and hard, something not a mattress. Something that was maybe metal.

And . . . he was almost sure he couldn’t move. Almost sure his wrists were tied down. His ankles. Something tight around his head holding it still.

They’ve got you, Henry.

Who’s got me? He wanted to ask it out loud, but something told him he should remain silent. And he wasn’t sure he could have said anything out loud anyway. His mouth felt like it was full of cotton and his entire face felt like he’d been shot up with Novocaine.

Them.

It meant nothing to him, and yet . . . and yet it did. It frightened him on a level so deep it was primal. It meant coldness and darkness and . . . and shadows. It meant shadows moving all around him, implacable and remorseless, bent on doing . . . whatever it was they meant to do to him. It meant something cold and slimy that had slithered into his life, into his mind.

Maybe into his soul.

Not spirits? Not the dead? He asked not knowing if there would be someone, anyone, to answer him. Not knowing if the voice inside his head might not be his own.

No, Henry. The dead aren’t curious to know how you’re able to see them. The dead don’t want to turn you inside out to learn what makes your ability work.

Henry felt an even deeper, icy jolt of terror.

Unlike what he’d seen in various movies and TV shows about ghosts and hauntings, Henry had never had to face a negative experience because of his ability. No angry or malevolent spirits, no spirits that looked disfigured or deformed or even showed the causes of their deaths. None who had made any attempt at all to frighten him.

Just helpful spirits dressed in period costume who led the way through basements and attics and storage buildings to things that belonged in whatever building he was restoring. That was all.

Henry had never been afraid of them.

He was afraid now.

They’ll use your fear. You have to—

Who are you?

Henry—

Who are you? How do I know you’re even on my side?

What is your side, Henry?

It’s— I want to live. I want to go back to that house I was restoring near Charleston. I want to go back to my life.

Then you need to listen to me.

Why?

Because I survived what you’re about to go through. Because I didn’t let them break me. And you can’t let them break you.

But—

Listen to me. You have to answer them when they ask you questions. You have to be helpful. Because if they can’t get any answers from asking, then they’ll start cutting. And burning. And . . . putting things inside you.

Things?

Things to . . . examine you. Things to help them get answers. So you have to answer them. You have to try as hard as you can to keep them talking.

But I don’t know much. About how it works, what I can do.

Don’t tell them that, Henry. Not until you have no other choice. Because when you tell them that, they’ll want to find out if you’re lying. They’ll hurt you. They’ll try to break you.

How?

Just . . . don’t let them do that. Do you hear me, Henry? Cooperate. Answer their questions. Don’t make them hurt you.

Who are you? he demanded insistently.

A friend. Please, Henry, just . . . hang on.

* * *

Juno Hicks leaned against the hard wall, trying not to pant out loud because she’d been tired to begin with and the effort had been so great. To reach through walls, over an unknown distance, and touch another mind, a mind not hardwired as hers was to communicate like this.

Not another telepath.

Still leaning back against the wall, she looked around at the tiny cell that had become her world. Eight feet by twelve feet.

She had paced it off.

That was her world, and had been for God only knew how long. A narrow cot. The kind of stainless steel toilet-with-sink arrangement found in prison cells, right out in the open with no privacy. One chair, bolted to the floor.

One chair.

She had never sat in it, avoided it instinctively for some reason she didn’t question. And none of them had ever sat in it. None of them ever came into this room, except to drag her out of it.

She knew they watched her, even though there was no observation window or port or camera she could see. But they watched her.

She knew they watched.

And maybe she’d taken a chance reaching out to Henry, talking to him, when all she’d intended was yet another desperate telepathic exploration of whatever lay beyond these walls, beyond the short hallway and the other . . . The Room . . . that was all she knew of this place, all they’d allowed her to see, at least with her eyes.

So she reached out, hoping to sense something that might help her. If she got the chance. If she could run. Silent, hoping none of the psychics who had sold their souls to them were nearby, or if they were that they were unable to detect her efforts.

She was very careful.

But today she had touched Henry’s mind. And recognized him as another prisoner, another . . . subject. New, frightened, bewildered. In no shape to answer the questions she had wanted so desperately to ask him.

Do they know about us?

Will anyone come for us?

Does anyone care what’s happening to us?

No, Henry could not have answered those questions, not today. Maybe . . . maybe later. She hoped. She hoped so bad. For some kind of news.

For some kind of hope.

But for now he was another victim. Someone she had to try to help, to try to warn. So maybe he would know just enough to escape their punishments.

She held up one hand and stared at it, at the bandage that made her hand a fist because it covered the stumps of what had been her fingers.

“Hold on, Henry,” she whispered. “Hold on as long as you can.”

* * *

“Report.”

Sebring stood before the group of her superiors, more relaxed than many might have been because she was a highly capable and confident woman.

Some would have said arrogant. Had said, in fact.

Brisk and impersonal, she said, “There have been increasing signs that the resistance movement is gaining strength. Their numbers grow almost daily, and it’s clear they have hidden assets providing them with important resources.”

“What kind of resources?” the man at the head of the table asked.

“High-tech equipment and access to information, contacts within various branches of law enforcement and the government, fast travel when needed, possibly weapons. Plenty of money.”

“How high up in law enforcement?”

“FBI.”

He didn’t quite flinch. Not quite. “Bishop?”

“I believe he’s made contact with them, something we antic...

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