Milt Edwards, survivor of an incident that almost took his life six months previously, is back. He and his girlfriend, Roberta (Robbie) Jones, both suffer from PTSD as a result of their ordeal, and they attend counseling sessions in order to help them work through their mental anguish.
Nothing helps, but then a friend of Milt’s is killed, ostensibly by the same person who designed the Undernet—Azrael. Galvanized into action, Milt once again joins forces with the FBI in order to find out who Azrael truly is, and he is paired with a rookie agent, Nasraana Shaksy, an American Muslim who has her own battles to fight.
Together, they stumble upon a child trafficking ring, and Milt comes face to face with monsters of the worst kind—those who walk around in everyday society. The mystery of who Azrael is deepens, and Milt desperately searches for the truth. The only question is, when he discovers who is behind it all, if he will survive it.
Disclaimer: This book contains adult material of child sexual abuse investigations and may not be suitable for anyone under the age of 18.
Lincoln, Nebraska, December sixth, early morning.
I sat up, sweat pouring down my face. With trembling hands, I felt around the area, and my fingers encountered damp sheets. I wasn’t in that basement torture chamber, after all. I was at my home in Lincoln, Nebraska, and the feeling of the material under me gave me a sense of surety. Heart hammering, limbs trembling, I felt myself all over, hoping not to find any injuries. Outside of my rapid breathing and overall feeling of crap-my-shorts dread, all seemed well.
No, it wasn’t well, and would never be. The door to my room opened, but instead of the Angel of Death, it was my mother, wearing a bathrobe and slippers. She shuffled inside, flicking the light switch on as she did so. The sudden influx of bright light to my retinas made me wince, and I put my hand up to shield my eyes. “Mom, do you mind?”
“Milt, you were shouting,” she responded in a worried tone. “It’s two in the morning, and I was concerned.”
If you were so concerned, you wouldn’t have spent so much time in San Diego. My mother worked in sales and often traveled. My father had died long ago, and since we didn’t have much money, she slaved away to get me what I needed.
All I’d ever needed, then as now, was someone to listen to me. She hadn’t been around, and only Robbie had been there for me. My girlfriend, Roberta Jones, my one and only, she and I had been through hell…and we had survived.
My mother came in and sat beside me. “Look at you. You’re sweating and shaking all over.” She patted the side of my face. “The dreams, they came again?”
Now, she was a mind reader, but since this had happened before…
“Well, there’s your counseling session tomorrow, er, today. Robbie’s going, and you can talk to Colin.”
Colin Muller was okay, but he was into games, and I was definitely not into them, not anymore. I used to be, but that was six months, an imprisonment, and a torture session ago, and I was not anxious to revisit those memories. The problem was, those memories loved to visit me, and they’d made my life hell.
“Try and get some rest,” my mother said, and gave me a hug. It wasn’t often that we hugged, and since I was on the latter side of eighteen, it made me feel like a little kid all over again. Nevertheless, I returned it. I needed some assurance that things would be okay.
My mother exited the room, and I went to the bathroom to wash my face off. Once done, I stared at myself in the mirror. My body hadn’t changed much in six months. Still five-nine and slender, same narrow face, same mop of brown hair, same brown eyes, but there was a smudge of black in them.
It was the black from seeing the horrid sins of mankind that I’d found in the Undernet. It was the black from seeing the stains of greed, rage, and violence in others. That black would never fade.
Tired from the horrors of the nightly visions, I made my way back to bed. It was still dark, and the damp sheets were uncomfortable, but after putting a thick towel over top of them, it was bearable. Even though the mattress was soft, it didn’t help to dispel the dreams that would most certainly come again. And with those dreams came damned memories…