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Level Zero

 

Dan McDowell

ยฉ Copyright Dan McDowell 2021

Black Rose Writing | Texas

ยฉ 2021 by Dan McDowell

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publishers, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review to be printed in a newspaper, magazine or journal.

The final approval for this literary material is granted by the author.

First digital version

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Print ISBN: 978-1-68433-704-0

PUBLISHED BY BLACK ROSE WRITING

www.blackrosewriting.com

Print edition produced in the United States of America

Thank you so much for reading one of our Psychological Thrillers.

If you enjoyed our book, please check out our recommendation

for your next great read!

 

The Tracker by John Hunt

โ€œA dark thriller that draws the reader in.โ€

โ€“Morning Bulletin

โ€œI never want to hear mention of bolt-cutters, a live rat and a bucket in the same sentence again. EVER.โ€

โ€“Ginger Nuts Of Horror

 

Praise for

LEVEL

ZERO

CURATED BY EDITORS AT BOOKBUB as a

FEATURED NEW RELEASE FOR HORROR (2021).

HORROR FINALIST FOR MAXY AWARDS (2021)

BEST THRILLERS BOOK AWARD NOMINEE - HORROR (2021)

โ€œThe Shining meets Danteโ€™s Inferno. Level Zero is brimming with sinister surprises sure to keep horror fans up at night. Hellish hospitality awaits... McDowellโ€™s portrait of two self-absorbed, morally-challenged men -- and the price of living life without empathy - is hard-hitting and utterly believable.โ€ โ€“Best Thrillers

5/5 Stars.

โ€œA solid chilling horror. McDowell builds a world of betrayal, dark intrigue, decay, and uncanny in this tightly constructed horror. Dark and often bone-chilling, the novel generates both chills and thrills.โ€

โ€“The Prairies Book Review

5/5 Stars.

โ€œCreepy and bizarre; a combination of elements makes Level Zero an intriguing read for horror fans. Unreserved and disturbing, this is a gripping tale from Dan McDowell.โ€ โ€“Readerโ€™s Favorite

 

DEDICATION

 

 

FIRST:

 

To the one who took my breath away.

You always shoot straight, calling my bluff when I donโ€™t realize it, and motivating me every step of the way to be a better man.

I wouldnโ€™t have it any other way.

For my love, Tiffiny.

 

SECOND:

 

To my children and all that pick up this book:

Keep dreaming.

Keep believing.

Keep learning.

Keep creating.

Find your purpose and run like you never have before.

Itโ€™s all but temporary, our existence. Make it meaningful.

WARNINGS AGAINST FOLLY

 

PROVERBS 6:12-19

 

A troublemaker and a villain, who goes about with a corrupt mouth, who winks maliciously with his eye, signals with his feet and motions with his fingers, who plots evil with deceit in his heart โ€” he always stirs up conflict.

 

Therefore, disaster will overtake him in an instant; he will suddenly be destroyedโ€”without remedy.

 

There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

 

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright

Recommended Reading

Praise

Dedication

Warnings Against Folly

SUMMER 1982

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

FALL 1982

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

WINTER 1982-1983

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

CHAPTER NINETEEN

CHAPTER TWENTY

SPRING 1983

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

CHAPTER THIRTY

FALL 1983

CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE

CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO

CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE

CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR

CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE

CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX

CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN

CHAPTER THIRTY-EIGHT

CHAPTER THIRTY-NINE

CHAPTER FORTY

CHAPTER FORTY-ONE

CHAPTER FORTY-TWO

CHAPTER FORTY-THREE

CHAPTER FORTY-FOUR

CHAPTER FORTY-FIVE

CHAPTER FORTY-SIX

CHAPTER FORTY-SEVEN

CHAPTER FORTY-EIGHT

CHAPTER FORTY-NINE

CHAPTER FIFTY

CHAPTER FIFTY-ONE

CHAPTER FIFTY-TWO

CHAPTER FIFTY-THREE

CHAPTER FIFTY-FOUR

CHAPTER FIFTY-FIVE

CHAPTER FIFTY-SIX

CHAPTER FIFTY-SEVEN

CHAPTER FIFTY-EIGHT

CHAPTER FIFTY-NINE

CHAPTER SIXTY

CHAPTER SIXTY-ONE

CHAPTER SIXTY-TWO

CHAPTER SIXTY-THREE

CHAPTER SIXTY-FOUR

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR

BRW INFO

SUMMER 1982

CHAPTER ONE

The service was elegant, and the chosen photo was perfect, but the late Helena Reinhold remained dead. CHRIS WILKERSON stood fifteen feet from the casket next to his grieving spouse, Katrina, reflecting.

I donโ€™t know what to say. Eight words from Katrina since Helena passed, and they were something to the effect of โ€œchange those pants,โ€ and โ€œthatโ€™s the wrong colored belt.โ€ No way to a smoother landing, is there?

He stood tall, handsome, and well-dressed while Katrina donned a beautiful black dress with hints of lace and a matching head covering. With Helenaโ€™s death, the Reinhold legacy hung in the balance. Despite the continued support of her benefactors, the late Mrs. Reinhold was never likable, nor respected.

She lay motionless in the blue dress Katrina picked for her. Though bold in contrast to the mahogany box surrounding her body, the morticianโ€™s exceptionalism in prepping Helena to match up with her best photographs was admirable โ€” even working to choke the stench of formaldehyde from the room with hints of potpourri. The classic eye-makeup and lipstick matched her blushed cheeks while the diffused lighting illuminated her corpse in a natural color.

Her service went by with just the pomp and circumstance the elites of Riverton expected, and in a defining manner that only the prosperous could afford. With their hands separated, Chris and Katrina paid their final respects before giving a cue to the funeral director to close the lid. The pallbearers moved into position, and the rest of the room scattered. Exiting the rear of the facility, the funeral home staff escorted them toward the hearse.

He reached out to hold Katrinaโ€™s hand. She ignored him.

Iโ€™m searching for words, but I have nothing meaningful to contribute, he thought.

As they loaded into the back seat of the hearse, Katrina spoke to Chris, peering into his periwinkle eyes, โ€œI really canโ€™t believe this.โ€

Chris rolled the window down a notch and mumbled, โ€œA means to an end.โ€

โ€œYou donโ€™t need to say anything. Unless youโ€™re going to work for a greeting card company, you can stop with the generic remarks. They got old twelve years ago.โ€

โ€œYouโ€™re right. Iโ€™m sorry.โ€

The graveside service ended in a blur, leaving Chris in an unshakable haze as he and Katrina drifted further apart.

.     .     .     .     .

Time went on, the bereavement leave dried up, and CHRIS WILKERSON returned to work at WGBO 530 AM. Wayne Wallace and Ramblinโ€™ Ron sat in the studio

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