"I Am Called Shaman represents indie publishing at its finest."

Michael Eich
The Worm Bookstore


 

Excerpts from "I Am Called Shaman"

The dog was a Heinz 57. His fur was matted with blood. He tried to stand, but he was too weak.
"Shh." I crawled to him. "It's okay, little one. I got you now."
I gently touched the dog and focused on his life force. When his heart signature pulsated in my ears, I shifted my awareness into that part of the brain where an artist first sees the intangible images their soul wants to draw, paint, or sculpt into form.
Billowing snow filled my vision, then, like adjusting a rabbit ears antenna on an old-fashioned television set, the dog's most prominent memories popped out of the static and played inside my head as if they were my own. The severity of the dog's distress was such that, once the connection was made, I couldn't let go. Vertigo swept through me. The visions, sharp freeze frames, snapped like a whip. 
Campfire glow. A young woman sang softly. She reached for a log, threw it on the fire. She smiled at me through the curtain of sparks. Her body froze.
I tried to pull away, to tug my mind back to myself, but it was like holding on to a live electrical line. I squeezed my eyes tighter, turned my head, but the pictures moved with me.
Her eyes wide with shock then horror. She convulsed as the second then third bullet struck her. Three shots. Three claps of thunder. Her battered body hit the ground. Her chest was destroyed. Her eyes stared with blankness.
The dog went limp with grief, and I fell back into myself, my heart a jackhammer in my chest. Bile climbed up my throat. My body heaved, struggling to expel the sight of her eyes and the horror they contained.
"It's okay. It's okay," I chanted, but it would never be okay. His girl had been murdered right in front of him.
I heard a keening cry and pulled the dog closer before realizing the sound was coming from me.
Three shots. Three claps of thunder.
My father's killer had claimed his fiftieth victim.

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The clearing around the truck was a madhouse of law enforcement personnel. The FBI agents were acclimated to a warmer climate. They all wore jackets and hats, but they kept their heads down and their arms crossed. Some bounced on their toes to generate heat.
    Agent Delaney wore a pricey, slate gray overcoat. It was a nice complement to his pigeon gray suit, or it would have been if he hadn't touched the burned truck then wiped his hands against his thighs. His ears and nose were cherry red, but he wouldn't muss up his hair by wearing a hat even if he were in the arctic.
"No way! Not today." Agent Delaney's finger became a dagger pointed at me.
I felt the first rumblings of my inner volcano.
Sundara stepped between us and growled. Delaney looked over his shoulder for help. Sheriff Herb Devlin and his son, Deputy Sheriff  David were on their way.
Herb rubbed his eyes with thumb and forefinger. "Agent Delaney, what's the problem now?"
"She has no business out here. Did you know?" Delaney demanded first of Herb then David. "Did you know she is the child of a victim?"
Six eyebrows rose up, asking the silent question, "And...?"
"And that's a conflict of interest," he spat. "I won't have a victim in the middle of my investigation."
"Hold up, buddy," David said. "When did this become your investigation?"
"We're on US Forest Service land," Delaney said. "That makes it mine."
"Only if the perp used the forest service fire to ignite the truck." David glanced at the charred F-150. "Which he did not."
They eyed each other for a moment then Delaney said, "She's still got a conflict of interest."
Twenty-four hours ago, I'd been weeping at my father's grave. I knew I was testy from sheer exhaustion, but for the love of God, I was the one who found the SK's hide, and the first piece of forensic evidence. I'd risked the lives of Gaagii and Fox to find the truck. All this little twerp had done was act important.
The top blew off my volcano. "My interest is in catching this killer. My only conflict is with you." I aimed my own finger dagger. "Every second you delay us lets him get that much further away. So if anyone has a conflict of interest---It's. You."
David's mouth formed the shape of the letter O. Herb's cheek twitched. The rest of Delaney's face reddened. He looked around to see if anyone else had overheard me.
Sundara had run off once David reached my side. The wolf now stood several feet away from the truck. She barked twice.
"Sundara's got a scent trail," I said.
"At least someone is still working this case," David said.
Delaney stalked off without a word.
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