Ethan Cross’ novel I Am The Night will be published by Aries Fiction on 20 August 2020.
Today I have an extract from the book.
The killer shot Tom an uninterested glance and said, “You should show me a little more respect. After all, I am a bit of a celebrity. My name is Ackerman.”
Jim felt his breath stripped away once again. When he had first laid eyes upon the man, he had noticed a vague familiarity. Now, his synapses fired, and he made the connection. He had seen the man’s face on television, a two-hour special presented by one of those network news shows. He tried to remember the name of the special. It was something along the lines of An Experiment in Madness, but he couldn’t remember the exact title. He did, however, remember the description of the man and his hideous crimes. The program had described the kind of monster that was only supposed to exist in the minds of Hollywood’s most creative—not a person of flesh and blood who found substance in the real world.
Tom repeated his ultimatum, but this time he spoke the words in a soft voice, as if beseeching the madman to submit and end the confrontation without a fight. “Put your hands where I can see them. I’m going to count to three, and then—”
“I wouldn’t do anything rash, officer. If you’re not careful, my pretty little hostage might get her pretty little face blown off.”
Ackerman redirected his gaze from Tom to Jim. “The one under this counter with the sawed-off shotgun strapped against her right temple. It’ll make a real mess of her, believe me on that. I’ve seen it before. It’s not pretty. And I know exactly what you’re thinking. You think I’m bluffing.” He turned back to Tom. “And you’re thinking that even if I am telling the truth, you can probably put one between my eyes before I could get my shot off. You’d be wrong, though. My finger’s resting right on that trigger and, as soon as your bullet struck, my muscles would clench and her head would be blown out the other side of this counter. So, gentlemen, it appears that what we have here is a Mexican stand-off.”
Ackerman took a deep breath and continued in his honeyed tone. “Isn’t this fun? You both began your day like any other. You kissed your loved ones good-bye, enjoyed a cup of coffee, maybe read the morning paper, but little did you know that this would be the most significant day of your lives. Today is a day that makes or breaks everything you’ve ever said or done, everything you’ve stood for or believed in. At some point, we all come to a place where we have to choose whether to be the hero, the villain, or to walk away and remain one of the sheep. This is one of those moments, gentlemen.
“I’m going to give you both a choice. You can walk away now and continue on with your lives. Maybe I have a hostage under this counter that I’m going to carve up the second you walk out that door, and maybe I don’t. Maybe you can catch me and make a name for yourselves, or maybe you’ll die trying. There’s no way you can know for sure, but that’s the beauty of it, isn’t it? There’s no meaning. Good doesn’t triumph over evil. There’s just random chance and death. You were the unlucky ones who got the call tonight. The gentleman down the aisle was the unlucky one who was working the station tonight. We like to walk around and think of ourselves as being so damn evolved, so much better and more intelligent than all of the other wildlife. But you know what?”
Ackerman looked at the two men as if he was a hungry animal and they were his next meal. He lowered his voice. “In the end, no matter how many delusions of grandeur we blind ourselves with, we are all either hunters or the hunted, predators or prey. Life is just one big game, gentlemen. The winners survive and the losers rot. The choices we make determine our fate. So . . . make your choice.”
About the Book
The night is dark. My soul is darker.
Marcus Williams and Francis Ackerman Jr. are both killers. But while Williams is tortured by the deaths he has caused, Ackerman takes pleasure in his murders.
Williams is a former New York City homicide detective.
Ackerman is a serial killer.
And both men are about to become unwilling pawns in a conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of US government. They will be plunged deep into a hellish underworld of murderers and killers. They will find that there is more that connects them than divides them… and that their lives depend on it.
About the Author
Ethan Cross’s Shepherd thrillers are international bestsellers. Before becoming a full time writer, he was a computer programmer, a Chief Technology Officer and a Marketing Director for a New York publisher. He lives in Illinois with his wife, three kids, and two Shih Tzus.