Fool's Ride (The Jenkins Cycle Book 2)

By: John L. Monk

Book Two Of The Jenkins Cycle

Chapter One

Sitting in a chair in a glassed-off room, newly arrived from my exile in the Great Wherever, I contemplated the patio party going on outside. Not a wild party. No drinking games or Jell-O wrestling. No togas or double secret probation. This was one of those hold your drink and chat parties.

There were two large men in the room with me: one white, one black, both dressed in suits. A slender blonde in a tight red dress stood nearby, alternating between watching me, the two men, and a skinny man in jeans and a checkered shirt standing by the door to the patio. The man had a book tucked under his arm, and he watched me as if waiting for something.

I smiled.

He smiled.

Behind him, on the other side of the door, a line of people stretched about twenty feet.

“You ready, Ernest?” the black guy said. He had a friendly voice and a patient expression.

The white guy didn’t look at me—he was watching the man with the book. The woman cocked her head at me but didn’t speak. Her face was triangular, like a praying mantis. Thin lips, and a spiky Tinkerbelle haircut.

Looking from her to the guy who’d asked if I was ready, I shrugged and said, “Sure.”

“Okay,” he said to the skinny man. “You’re first.”

The man whipped out his book and sprang forward as if jerked by invisible strings.

“Mr. Prescott, sir,” he said when he got to me, his voice shaking. “What an honor. I’ve read all your books. Oh my god, I can’t believe this is real. Sir, I’m a writer too—not like you—you’re so good, inspiring, I just want to thank you. I read Terror Calls before Terror Stalks, but it was fine. Everyone said to read Terror Calls second, but I remember what you said in that New York Times interview about how you thought Terror Calls made more sense to read first, even though it was the second in the series, so I waited and then … Wow, it’s just so nice to meet you.”

He placed the book he was carrying onto the table with the cover facing up.

The book had a picture of a skull taped with electrodes. A translucent image of a woman’s face was molded over the skull, her expression a mask of agony and terror. Across the top, in jagged blue-and-white lightning letters, blazed the title: Electro-Cute. Some kind of horror book.

I swept my gaze from the breathless man with so much to say, to the book, and back again.

“Good,” I said. “That sounds great.”

When he just stood there and didn’t go away or start talking again I said, “Thank you?”

The man nodded, still smiling, gazing at me in adoration, and that’s when I noticed the pens on the table. There was also a big stack of Electro-Cute books off to my right.

“Ah,” I said, finally getting it.

The Great Whomever was getting bored again.

Knowing I was lucky to be alive, I picked up one of the pens, opened the book to the title page, and then paused. I couldn’t sign my ride’s name, not believably.

The name on the book was “Ernest Prescott.” I checked in the back to see if he’d inserted an afterword or something that would show me his signature. It had an afterword, but no signature. Only initials.

“One second,” I said, and fished out my ride’s wallet.

Using Ernest’s New York driver’s license as a guide, I did my best to scrawl his signature onto the title page of the man’s book.

“What’s your name?” I said to him.

He’d given me a funny look when I pulled out the license, but here I was ready to sign and everything was okay again.

“Richard,” he said, beaming at me.

Keep writing, Richard! I wrote underneath the signature, then slid the book back across the table to him.

“Thank you so much, sir,” he said. “I’m just so honored. Wow. Thank you!”

Richard trundled off, clutching his signed copy like a treasure chest overflowing with chocolate bunnies.

A young woman, all in black, wearing black lipstick and black eyeliner made up to look like she was weeping, approached and said, “Sign my books please?”

She looked like something from one of the Hellraiser movies, with cleavage. I happen to be a fan of cleavage. I wondered how long it took to get her hair, makeup, and cleavage to the perfect balance of cadaver and Elvira sexy, and if she ever went out normal or was she always like that.

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