Friday, February 1, 2019

L. J. Sellers Presents The Other - A Psychological Suspense Thriller!

Chapter 1
Monday, October 8, 2:15 p.m., Mt. Angel Psychiatric Hospital
Logan stared through the caged fence. Like a prison yard, the tall metal barrier curved inward at the top, discouraging anyone from leaving. Today, he had permission—and an escort, of course.
His attendant Bruno unlocked the narrow iron door and held it open. “Let’s make this fast, okay? I’ve got an electro therapy to escort soon.”
Logan cringed. He’d had shock treatments, and they’d left him shaky, confused, and anxious. Instead of curing his depression, they made him doubt himself.
He eased toward the opening, eager to see the oak-filled meadow and hear the birds clustered in the trees. Dread filled his stomach too, and he wished he’d worn his comfort hoodie. Beyond the wall, anything could happen. The world was a chaotic, dangerous place filled with selfish unpredictable people. Yet he longed to be free of the walls. Free of the medications. Free of the doctors who thought he was crazy.
“Move it, Lowgie.” Bruno waved him on as though he were a recalcitrant pet. Recalcitrant. The sounds pleased him, and he repeated it a few times under his breath. Another great word he’d learned recently and hoped to use in his writing. Even thought he hated Bruno’s nickname for him, he ignored it. He’d learned that bullies got bored with taunts if they didn’t seem to cause harm.
Outside the fence, Logan blinked at the vastness of the sky and open space. What if he ran? Bruno would taser him, then he’d get moved to the high-security side of the institution and never see the outside world again. Logan started down the path toward the oak trees, inhaling the crisp fall air as though he’d been deprived of oxygen.
Behind him, a cell phone rang and Bruno answered, his voice fading as he slowed to argue with the caller. Logan picked up his pace, delighted by his moment alone, surrounded by the lovely quiet of the park-like setting.
Out of the corner of his eye, he caught movement and spun toward it. For a moment, stillness. Then someone rushed between two trees. A boy, about thirteen. His face—glimpsed briefly—was hauntingly familiar. The intruder darted out again and Logan gasped. He was back! The boy with a face just like his own, only younger.
The Other, as Logan had come to think of him, disappeared behind a big oak.
A heavy silence pressed on his chest and he struggled to breathe. It was just another hallucination, he told himself. He’d had them before. But why now? And what did it mean? He couldn’t tell his counselor. She’d been alarmed the last time he mentioned the boy, and he didn’t want her to think he was insane.
Logan laughed bitterly. Dr. Carlson already did. That’s why he was here. No, he was here because his mother wanted him locked away. Recently, he’d heard attendants complain about losing their jobs when the hospital closed. The thought terrified him. Where would he end up? Would it be even worse?
Things could always get worse. His aunt’s expression echoed in his head. She’d tried to be a mother to him, but her negativity had shaded his perception of everything.
Logan turned back, his nature walk ruined. Depression hit him hard. Who knew when he would get another outing? The medication they kept shoving down his throat was obviously making him worse. But if he complained, Dr. Carlson would chide him for not adapting. She might even increase his dose.
How would he ever escape the vicious cycle and the walls that confined him?

Chapter 2
 Tuesday, October 9, 1:17 p.m., Portland, Oregon

Rox MacFarlane touched the left side of her forehead. “The pain is right here, and it’s so consistent I worry that I have a tumor.”
Her neurologist, an older woman with a silver-haired bun, shook her head. “That’s unlikely. No one has ever developed cancer from these treatments.”
The therapy, called transcranial magnetic stimulation, was over, thank goodness, but the side effects were getting worse. “My hearing loss isn’t improving either, and I think I had a mild seizure last week.”
The doctor’s eyes widened. “Tell me exactly what happened.”
The episode had been weird, and she still had trouble describing it. “My head suddenly felt strange, kind of tight and loose at the same time. So I sat down, feeling sort of paralyzed for a moment. Then I was fine. Except my head was fuzzy, as though I might have lost some time.”
“Oh boy.” Dr. Benton pulled her rolling computer over and began typing notes. “What were you doing at the time?”
“Changing a light bulb.”
“That sounds like a seizure. I’ll write you a prescription for medication that will prevent another one.” The neurologist squeezed her arm. “I’m sorry this is happening. Side effects from this treatment are rare. But I assure you, they’re temporary.”
“What about the headache?”
“Let’s give it another week and see if it goes away. If not, we’ll do a CT scan.”
Not good enough. Rox’s jaw tensed, but she let it go and stood to leave. “You’ll call in the prescription?”
“Of course.” The doctor looked as worried as she felt.
Rox headed out, wishing she’d never heard of the damn treatment. What had made her think sending hundreds of magnetic pulses into her brain was a good idea? Oh right, she’d wanted to know what it felt like to be normal.

She drove straight home, knowing the pharmacy would take hours to process her medication—which she might not even take. She hated new prescriptions, especially those that crossed the blood-brain barrier, because she never knew how her chemistry would react. As she pulled into the driveway of the duplex she shared with her stepdad, her work phone rang. Rox pulled it from her shoulder bag and glanced at the number. A landline and not one she’d seen before, so it was probably a new client. Good news. She was bored and ready to work again. “Karina Jones, how can I help you?” Rox shut off the engine and climbed from her car.
“You’re the extractor?” The woman’s voice was pleasant, but a little timid.
“Yes.” Rox headed toward her door, and Marty rushed from his side of the house. “What did the doc say?” Shorter than her six-foot frame by several inches, her stepdad wore his gray hair buzzed and his eyebrows bushy.
She gestured at Marty to be quiet, and he followed her inside. Rox put the new client on speaker and turned up the volume. “Who gave you my number?” Her work occasionally straddled the lines of legality, so she had to be careful. She ran her investigations under an assumed name and paid cash for the anonymous burner phone she used to conduct business.
“A friend named Sam Fenton,” the woman said. “He’s a sergeant with the Portland police.” Most of their clients were referred by officers she and Marty used to work with. Law enforcement people understood that sometimes citizens needed specialized help that cops couldn’t provide.
“What’s your name and situation?” Rox took the phone into the kitchen and set it on the table. Marty went to the fridge for a couple of microbrews.
“Shay Wilmont.” The woman sounded steadier now. “I’m worried about my nephew. He’s in a mental institution, and I need you to get him out.”
Rox glanced at Marty, who rolled his eyes.
She didn’t blame him. The idea seemed wild, even for her. “I’m sorry, but that’s not in the scope of what I do.”
“Why not?” A little defensive now. “I thought you rescued young people from oppressive or dangerous situations.”
“I do. But a mental institution—” Rox stopped. Some facilities were fine, but others were horrible, depending on who was in charge. “If your nephew is being abused, then report it to state authorities. I don’t think I can help you with this.”
“He shouldn’t be in there!” Shay Wilmont raised her voice, her timidity gone. “Logan’s not mentally ill, just autistic.”
The label slammed into her gut. She hated the term, preferring to think of herself and others with the condition as having non-typical neurological responses. Her heart went out to the boy. If her own quirks had been worse as a child, she could have suffered the same fate. “How does his condition manifest?”
“He gets stuck on certain words and repeats them, sometimes for minutes. And he’s obsessed with LED flashlights.”
Both seemed harmless enough, so something didn’t add up. “How did he get committed?”
A pause. “His mother claims he’s both violent and suicidal.”
A few people with spectrum disorder needed antipsychotic meds to keep them under control, but those cases were rare. Rox started to decline again, but the woman cut her off.
“I’ve never seen Logan hurt anyone, and until recently, I never heard him mention suicide. He’s spent way more time with me than with his mother, so I would know.”
Marty handed Rox a bottle of dark beer, shook his head, and mouthed Say no.
Rox was torn. A mental institution would be difficult, if not impossible, to extract someone from. But she wanted to help the poor boy. It was shameful to lock him up just because he made people uncomfortable. She’d made her own mother so jittery, Georgia had abandoned her family. The call of fame and fortune on Broadway had done its part too. “His mother has custody?”
“Yes, but Logan has lived with me since he was three.”
That was a little weird. “What age is Logan now?”
Old enough to speak for himself about where and how he wanted to live. “His full name?”
“Logan James Wilmont.”
That didn’t ring any bells, so the kid’s behavior had not likely made the news. But she would check him out anyway. “Where is he institutionalized?” The word tasted bitter in her mouth.
“The Mt. Angel campus of the state hospital.”
The old facility was thirty miles south and had been controversial off and on since its inception. Why couldn’t the kid have been in a small private hospital instead of a concrete fortress? But at least Mt. Angel wasn’t a new building with modern security. Still, Rox knew she had to decline. Instead, she heard herself say, “I’ll consider your case, but first I’d like to meet with you in person to get more information.” She never took a case over the phone. She needed to visually assess who she was dealing with.
Across from her, Marty shuddered and made aggressive hand gestures indicating she should backtrack. Rox ignored him. “Can you meet me today?”

The Other

The Extractor Series

By L. J. Sellers

No matter how many books I read or movies I see, when it involves being in a psychiatric hospital, I immediately remember the song, Going Home, from the historical movie, Snake Pit. I always felt such sympathy for those who were there because they could not deal with the reality of their lives, yet still wanting and needing to go home as soon as possible. How much worse it would be, I thought, if they were there when they shouldn't have been!

Sellers presents a psychological thriller that is not only a page-turner, but a revelatory statement of the cultural view of somebody who may be different...

Rox knew that she shouldn't take this request for extraction...But she had heard what she could not accept-- Logan, 15, was in a psychiatric hospital, but was not mentally ill--he was autistic... Rox didn't even like the word, she preferred  non-typical neurological responses. And she quickly realized that she could have been in the same situation as Logan if things had not been different for her. Logan's situation hit her in the gut and she knew she would not refuse, even though Marty was there waving and mouthing "No...!"

Rox stalled by asking for her routine first meeting so that she could "meet" Logan's aunt, Shay Wilmont. Marty pointed out how difficult it would be to enter a supervised facility with guards and staff. Rox agreed but, she needed to do this. Her own efforts to "be normal" were over but had resulted in severe headaches and even a seizure...Marty even used that to question whether she could be prepared to handle something happening to her within the facility while trying to get Logan out... (which did happen!) Rox knew. however, she would never forgive herself if she didn't at least try...

Sellers presents a much more complicated Extraction in this third novel, which results in Rox being left and placed as a patient in the Hospital. But, even that, does not include the underlying secretive and psychological actions that are revealed in the final part of the book. This storyline is obviously the best of the three books as it expands into the psychological aspects of the characters beyond the young boy who is to be extracted...

It's the most dangerous, unpredictable and unforgettable... And the surprises continue to roll out up through and including the final ending! Quite an achievement that twists an ongoing series into an entirely different genre that is shocking to the reader. I was totally floored by this journey into another plot that is almost, if not more so, as compelling as the Extraction. Sellers writes she is excited about this book. I can certainly understand why! It is tantalizing, fascinating, and yet utterly within the realm of possibility--and that's why it's extraordinary... 

I'm certainly happy to have officially "read" this author, with a outstanding series that included brilliant ongoing characters, as well as minor characters that evolved as each book continued. What a delightful way to meet and become a fan for a new unread author! Sellers is like all great don't think about their writing because it becomes secondary to the storyline and characters... Let's just say, this writer became a personal favorite in just three books... So, do check out The Extractor Series and start with the first. You'll be happy to have a chance to get to know the characters before you meet The Other...  


I was born in Santa Rosa, California—the third of six kids—but I’ve spent most of my life in Oregon. I grew up in Cave Junction, a small town in Southern Oregon. The day I turned 18, I packed my VW bug and moved to Eugene. Five years later, I graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in journalism.
I’ve always loved to write. I was one of those nerdy kids in school who liked to write reports—about Peru, ocean life, pollution, whatever—I loved researching and writing about everything. I also wrote some fiction as a kid and some short stories in college, but never took it seriously then.
After graduating, I moved to Phoenix (needing a dose of sunshine). The country was in recession too, and I knew people in Eugene with journalism degrees who were flipping burgers, so I had to leave to find work in my field. My first career position was with Arizona Senior World, and I loved it. My favorite assignments were the people profiles—old people doing amazing things. (I hope to be one of those people in 40 years or so). I’ve also written several profiles for Oregon Quarterly as a freelancer.
me-travis-closeupMy stay in Phoenix was fairly short. I got married and had a baby, then felt compelled to move back to Eugene, Oregon where my family was. I’ve been here since, raising all kinds of kids and working full time, first as a food server, then as an writer/editor.
But one day long ago, I was reading a particularly bad novel and tossed it to the floor, thinking I could write a better story than that. I had never considered writing fiction until that moment, but I felt challenged to see if I could actually do it. On August 7, 1989, I sat down to write my first novel. I used a Commodore computer, and it took about three months. The story was called Personal Justice, and it was about a woman who tracks down the pedophile who murders her child. (Jeffrey Dahmer was in the news then.)
It wasn’t a great story (because it lacked complexity) but I discovered I loved writing novels. I got absolutely hooked on the process and immediately started another. When I finished it, I sent the first three chapters to an agent, Al Zuckerman, president of Writers House. (What audacity!) Three months later he called me and said he couldn’t sell that story but that I had talent and that I should send him an outline of what I was working on then. And incredible moment of validation. He eventually represented that book (now The Baby Thief), but didn’t manage to sell it.
Still, his encouragement and faith is why I never gave up submitting my work, even though it took nearly 20 years to break through. (Lots of agents, novels, screenplays, close calls, and bad publishing experiences along the way.)
Meanwhile, I landed an editorial job at Pharmaceutical Executive magazine, where I learned more about drugs than I ever thought I would. It was a great job, and I learned to be an editor (as well as a writer). After seven years, they closed the Eugene office. While I looked for a new job, I wrote The Sex Club, the first in the Detective Jackson series. me-at-deskI feel very passionately about the subject matter, so it was a story I had to write, even knowing that it might never be published. At the time, I wasn’t sure if the Jackson character would end up being a series, but I made him likable, so I could bring him back if needed.
Then I spent two and a half years with an educational publisher. During that time, my job used up all my mental energy, and I didn’t write any new fiction. I discovered that I’m not really happy if I’m not writing a new story. But during that time, I self-published The Sex Club, which earned great reviews and reader support.
I was laid off again in March of 2008, one of the early casualties of the recession, and decided to make the most of the situation. I expanded my freelancing efforts, committed to putting my fiction career first, and finished writing Secrets to Die For, the second story featuring Detective Jackson. In October 2010, with four Jackson books and two standalones on the market, I quit freelancing to write full-time. In May 2012, Thomas & Mercer bought all nine of my backlist titles and two frontlist Jackson books. I now have twelve Jackson novels, five standalones, and three Agent Dallas stories featuring a young, female FBI agent who specializes in undercover work and infiltrating criminal groups.
Last year, I wrote three books in a new series about an ex-CIA agent called The Extractor, who rescues young people from oppressive situations. I also conducted my own real-life extraction in Costa Rica when I rescued my sick grandchildren from their mentally ill mother. I’m currently working on a movie script for that 18-day harrowing experience … and writing a new Jackson story.

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