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In Too Deep

In Too Deep

Titel: In Too Deep
Autoren: Jayne Ann Krentz
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    Fallon Jones: three years earlier . . .

    Paranormal fire burned in the darkness. Auroras of psi splashed across the ether. The night sky above San Francisco was ablaze with light from across the spectrum. Fallon Jones gripped the condo balcony railing with both hands, fighting to anchor himself to reality. There were spectacular patterns wherever he looked: wondrous, astonishingly intricate webs of connections and links that illuminated the path back to the heart of the universe.
    The dazzling radiance of the midnight world was compelling beyond anything he had ever experienced. He was certain that if he only looked closely enough, he would be able to distinguish the light from the dawn of creation, perhaps even grasp a fistful of the raw power of chaos that fueled the forces of life and death.
    “Good night for a walk, isn’t it?” Tucker Austin said.
    Fallon turned to look at the figure silhouetted in the opening of the sliding-glass doorway. There was something wrong. Tucker looked as if he stood on the other side of a waterfall. It was impossible to focus on him. He held something in his hand but Fallon could not make it out.
    “What are you doing here?” Fallon asked. He was vaguely aware that he sounded drunk. But he was almost positive that he’d had only one glass of wine with dinner.
    “We both know why I’m here.” Tucker moved out of the doorway and went to stand at the railing a short distance away. He kept the object in his hand out of sight against his left leg. “The magic lantern really slammed your senses, didn’t it? That’s one of the interesting side effects of the device. The higher the level of talent, the greater the impact. You are literally off the charts on the Jones Scale. That makes the lantern the ideal weapon to destroy you without arousing any suspicions. By now you’re lost out there on the paranormal plane. There’s no coming back from this trip.”
    “You came here to kill me,” Fallon said. A simple statement of fact, nothing more or less. It was good to know he was still able to think logically.
    “I did warn you that one day your talent would be the death of you.” Tucker sounded amused. “I’m not alone in that opinion, as I’m sure you’re aware. Fortunately, a lot of people are convinced that a chaos theory-talent as powerful as you is doomed. And there have always been those rumors about the men in your family who inherit that aspect of the founder’s talent. Everyone knows that Sylvester Jones was a paranoid whack-job at the end.”
    “Sylvester died more than four hundred years ago,” Fallon said. “No one knows what really happened to him at the end. And rumors are, by definition, not facts.”
    “But as you have often pointed out, an interesting rumor always has more influence than a boring fact.”
    Fallon shook his head once and blinked a couple of times, trying to bring Tucker into focus. The small motion caused the universe to shift around him. The disorientation was so fierce now that he had to clench his hand around the balcony railing to stay on his feet.
    “Why?” he asked. It was a foolish question. He knew the answer. But for some reason he wanted to hear Tucker put it into words. Then again, that had been the problem all along. He had wanted to believe Tucker Austin.
    “I’m afraid there’s no other way out.” Tucker rested both elbows on the railing and contemplated the night. “It’s either you or me this time. Survival of the fittest and all that. The magic lantern has certain hypnotic effects. In addition to creating those fascinating hallucinations you’re currently viewing, it makes you vulnerable to suggestion. For example, you feel like taking a walk off this balcony, don’t you?”
    “No,” Fallon said again. He tried to move, but when he took a step he stumbled and went down to his knees.
    Tucker gestured toward the building across the street. “You know what you should do, Fallon? You should cross that crystal bridge. Halfway over, you’ll have a terrific view of the heart of the universe. How can you resist?”
    Fallon tightened his grip on the railing and hauled himself upright. He tried to focus, but the crashing waves of the auroras that lit up the night were too distracting.
    “What bridge?” he asked.
    “Right there.” Tucker pointed. “It leads from this balcony to the roof of the building across the street. Just step over the railing and you’ll be on your way.”
    Fallon looked down.
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