cover artwork 2008 Ural Akyuz.
A scientist whose family is killed by illegal immigrants decides to use his research on autistic idiot-savants to discover a solution to the problem. Before long, he finds himself inextricably involved in a conspiracy to not only solve the illegal immigrant crisis, but almost every other ill besetting America.
The Focus FactorSF suspense
Darrell Bain and
He finished his drink, had another, then paced. She should have been home more than an hour ago, even if she got stuck at the railroad crossing. Where can she be? Twice on the comphone and no answer, but it could be the satellite reception. Maybe it's down for updates, repairs. Maybe it's
maybe they're maneuvering it. The possibilities were borderline ridiculous. Come on, Murray. Cool it. She's a big girl. Look at the news or something.
He did, but that was no good either. Back to pacing.
How about the comphone extension? Maybe it had failed and the damned thing was out of charge. Nope, it was okay. Where the hell was she? Almost by habit he started walking down the quarter mile graveled driveway toward the gate, something he'd always done when the newspaper had been delivered rather than coming by satellite. As long as he was going to pace, he might as well be out in the air. He was nearing the midpoint of the drive when his comphone spoke up: Gate. Unknown visitor.
He activated video. When the handscreen brightened, his heart missed a beat. That was a state patrol car at the gate, and behind it one belonging to the county sheriff's office. A quick pan to the insignia confirmed it. They looked real enough, even though there was a slim chance they weren't. Fake officials' cars and uniforms were occasionally used to gain entrance at security gates, a technique brought into the country from the murderous Gulf Wars.
He focused in on the driver of the county vehicle. Alfredo Gomez! Alfredo was one of the sheriff's deputies. With a sinking heart he told the gate to open, then stepped away from the ruts of the driveway and waited. Moments later the two cars pulled to a halt. Ignoring the state patrol car, he went to the passenger's side of the deputy's vehicle, one of the newer sedans sporting composite armor and bulletproof glass. You could tell at a glance--it was built like a Brink's truck with rounded corners.
The door clicked open and he slid inside. Al's hand was sweaty, just like the young man's dark brown face. "Hello Al. I take it you're not bringing good news, not with the state tagging along. What is it?"
"Murray, it's bad. Why don't we go on up to the house. We need to talk to you, and--"
"Just go ahead and tell me, Al. Was it Keith? Or Connie? What happened? How bad is it? Are they
" He couldn't go on.
Al glanced over to be sure he was seated , then started up the drive. He pulled into the circular turnaround before answering. "Murray, God knows I hate to have to tell you this, but it was a wreck on the interstate. Some stupid wetbacks hit them head-on in an old pickup. They were going the wrong way on that bad curve right before you get into town; you know the one. A couple of the bunch survived and I guess they'll be prosecuted, for all the good it'll do you now. I'm sorry, Murray."
Alfredo was a third generation immigrant, and talked like one. Hardly anyone in the area had much use for political correctness when it came to illegals, and a wetback would always be a wetback. Murray looked away and pounded his fist on his knee, saying nothing for a long moment. Finally he turned and let Alfredo continue.
well, he was going to notify you, but I said I'd do it since I knew you. Murray, I hate that you have to go though this, but he's going to ask you to come in and identify the bodies."
The words arrived as through a long tunnel, echoing over and over. Bodies. Bodies. Bodies.
Murray forced himself to concentrate. Get a grip. You can't let down until it's over. You have to go through it. You've imagined such things a dozen times in your worst nightmares, but this time you can't switch your thoughts to something else. It's real. They're gone, Murray, gone.
But the mention of bodies made getting a grip impossible. There was all that carnage he'd seen on the operation in Venezuela, from the time when the Marines and an army brigade had been sent in to rescue American citizens. For a lot of them, it had been too late. Dead bodies everywhere. Destroyed, eviscerated, burned--no longer people, just things--with expressions of pain or agony, if they still had faces. Would Connie look like
like them? A head-on collision
ah, no, no!
He shook his head, feeling his vision blur. "I can't do it
not that. I can't do that. I can't--"
"You have to, Murray. They need the identification."
"It can't all end
not like this. Damn
A hand was placed on his arm. "Murray, I'm sorry. You can do it. Just take a look, that's all. Take a deep breath, calm yourself, say it's them and it's over. That's all you have to do. The trooper's waiting. Go talk to him."
"Not my own family, Al. Someone else can do it." He abruptly shouldered open the heavy door and staggered out. There's no way in hell they can force me to view the
they'll have to get someone else, someone from town, someone from the agency that cared for
Keith. They've got the DNA on both of them, so let 'em use that.
But when the trooper's window rolled down, nothing came together, no coherent argument, just protest. The trooper stared straight ahead all through the outburst. He finally looked up. "Sir," he said gently, "we recovered some personal identification. If you could just look at one of the victims, we'll take that as conclusive for both. Or if you have some other close family member, that would do as well."
"There's no one nearby. They're in
okay, I'll go in and look at
at my son. Only him. Not
not my wife. I can't
not her." I'll remember you as you were, Connie, my beautiful, vibrant, loving companion. I'll always remember your smile when you said you'd be back in a few minutes. Your freckles. They were you.
It was the last thing he remembered clearly that day.
The Focus Factor Copyright © 2006. Darrell Bain and Gerald Mills. All rights reserved by the authors. Please do not copy without permission.
Darrell Bain is the author of more than three dozen books, in many genres, running the gamut from humor to mystery and science fiction to humorous non-fiction. For the last several years he has concentrated on humor and science fiction, both short fiction, and suspense thrillers.
Darrell served thirteen years in the military as a medic and his two years in Vietnam formed the basis for his first published novel, Medics Wild. Darrell has been writing off and on all his life but really got serious about it only after the advent of computers. He purchased his first one in 1989 and has been writing furiously ever since.
While Darrell was working as a lab manager at a hospital in Texas, he met his wife Betty. He trapped her under a mistletoe sprig and they were married a year later. Darrell and Betty owned and operated a Christmas tree farm in East Texas for many years. It became the subject and backdrop for some of his humorous stories and books.
Hotline to Heaven
Life on Santa Claus Lane
Shadow Worlds with Barbara M. Hodges
Tales from a Christmas Tree Farm
The Melanin Apocalypse
Human By Choice with Travis 'Doc' Taylor. Book 1 Cresperian series.
The Y Factor with Stephanie Osborn. Book 2 Cresperian series
The Cresperian Alliance with Stephanie Osborn. Book 3 Cresperian series.
Author web site.
Gerry spent most of his first sixteen years studying the piano, reading everything in print and ruining as many staged events as possible just by appearing in them. His promising career as a concert pianist came to an end when he found it involved hard work. Instead he entered Northeastern University. In return for his promise never to return there, he was handed a degree in electrical engineering. Misreading that as encouragement, he began a career in avionics engineering. When the engineering industry learned his true value, he wisely switched to sales, but divorce unhappily followed. He later met and married Lori, continued in sales, then launched his own business, selling it ten years later.
The high-speed automation and robotics industry kept him occupied until 1990, when he took a brief sabbatical with Lori, his bride of twenty-eight years by then. They set out on a 45 foot ocean-sailing yacht, managing to terrorize most of the Canadian Maritimes and eastern seaboard for over a year before ending up in the Bahamas, where fortunes ran out. Not one to fret, he immediately wrote his first novel, Then Is The Power, typing furiously to see how the story ended, while Lori plotted a course for Florida.
While in Florida, he worked in automation and learned to herd nine cats.
Shying away from the purely technical, he enjoys writing character-driven stories dealing with human shortcomings, a topic in which he has a great degree of personal expertise. His latest hobbies are gardening and remembering the cats' names. He no longer sails, and the world is a safer place for it.
There are those who believe he should give up writing for the same reason, but so far no one has come forward with an acceptable bribe.
Magic for Your Writing
James Foster Adventures series
No Place for Gods book 1.
The Mudslinger Sanction book 2.
Fire Owl book 3.
The Eden Prophecy book 4.
The Focus Factor with Darrell Bain
Author web site
"In this near future world money is tight, medical costs are skyrocketing, gas prices are still climbing, the government is broke and corruption is everywhere...
"Bain and Mills have written an impressive novel of the not too distant future that will make people think about the state of American politics and how it can be changed to create a better place for us all. Many of the ideas are not new but they are very reasonable and workable. This is another of those books I've read lately that should be required reading for everyone of voting age. Kudos to all for a job well done."
Reviewed by Barry R. Hunter for Baryon.
"A great blend of sci-fi, suspense and politics that will hold any reader's attention and have them pondering the future as Murray Blake tries to decide what to do with his research once the corporation closes the project down. A tragedy of the most personal kind makes the decision for him.
At a time when the country is in the throes of the most severe drought ever known, illegal immigrants are pouring across the border and the government seems unable to do anything about anything, Murray decides to use his research to find the answer to the problem that caused him so much pain.
Using himself as a guinea pig, Murray seeks the answer that will bring about resolution of this particular situation. The answer is a shock and raises the question of what comes next.
This is a tale with roots based on a premise not considered before, a story I am pleased to be able to highly recommend to any sci-fi fan. It will set you to thinking about the present state of affairs and what the future may hold. You'll be looking for other books by these talented authors, Darrell Bain and Gerald Mills. Enjoy. I sure did."
Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, author of "The Last to Fall."
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