Bayou Foncé, Louisiana, 2010
“My name is Rachel Ackart,” she whispered, rocking
on the edge of her bed, furtively peering into the corners
of her cell to make sure no one was there to
But, as always, the corners were empty of anything
human. She was alone, as she had been for most of
the last year—eleven months, two weeks, four days,
to be exact, if she could trust the scratches she’d made
on the wall, one for each day she’d been incarcerated.
Not that military personnel didn’t spy on her via the
camera installed high in one corner of the room. Why
they needed to watch her 24/7 she didn’t know. They
already monitored her vital signs and brain waves
through implanted chips. Medical personnel were in
and out multiple times a day to inject her with meds
or take her blood. She even had a daily visit from a
“Rachel Ackart . . . My name is Rachel Ackart. . . .”
She kept saying her name over and over so she
would remember it. They’d pumped her up with so
many damn drugs that she could hardly see straight.
Let alone think.
Let alone remember.
She gazed at her reflection in the piece of medical
equipment that picked up her vitals and transmitted
them to some unknown lab. Her blond hair appeared
dull . . . her blue eyes unnaturally pale. . . . And
weren’t those tiny lines she saw forming in her heretofore
Heat flooded her, and she shoved the equipment
away so hard that it bounced off the wall.
She’d gotten by all these years on accomplishments
she’d been allowed because of her youthful beauty,
and now, despite all she’d done to keep her looks,
they were fading and the memories of her triumphs
were disjointed and incomplete.
Forget using her powers. . . .
Rachel sprang off her bed and began pacing the
perimeter of her cell. Undoubtedly her vital signs
were bordering on explosive, alarming someone somewhere.
They could descend on her at any moment
and do whatever they wanted to her.
For her own good, of course.
She deserved better than this. After all she’d done
for her country, for the military, for the government
cabal running the Black Ops scientific experiments
meant to strengthen the armed forces, she deserved to
be treated with the respect she’d earned. She’d given
up her life in service to that science, and look how
she’d been rewarded.
Betrayed by her own blood. Locked in an eight-byten
cell. No windows. No mirrors. No fresh air.
She clawed at her throat and gasped. If she didn’t
get some air, she was going to suffocate. . . .
They even buried their dead aboveground in this
part of Louisiana, but not their scientific rejects.
Where there was a will there was a way, and the military
always found it. She was sequestered in an underground
labyrinth that should have been impossible
to build on land that was below sea level. Only the
army had managed it somehow, and if the brass had
their way, she would never breathe that fresh air, never
see daylight again.
Escape was the only solution. Her thoughts
whirled. Escape and then revenge.
Realizing her head was actually clearer than it had
been in a long while, Rachel thought she must have
built up some immunity to the drugs. A little gene
splicing had turned her mind into a powerful weapon,
the reason they’d been pumping chemicals into her.
They wanted to control her. To further use her as a
guinea pig. Her pulse threaded unevenly as she realized
she had an opportunity to test her mental boundaries,
maybe find some way of getting out of this damn hole.
She closed her eyes and allowed her mind to touch
every inch of the room. But after several minutes of
searching, she found nothing she would consider a
Concentrating, she cast her net wider. She might
not be able to leave the room physically, but that
didn’t mean she couldn’t use her mind to search for a
way out. If she found someone susceptible to suggestion,
perhaps she could convince the person to open
her door. Using frequencies the damn lab machines
couldn’t detect, she sent tentacles of mental energy in
concentric circles that swept through the underground
complex and beyond.
Suddenly, a male voice saying “Rachel, I can help
you . . .”
made her jam her back to the wall.
She looked around wildly, but, as always, she was
alone in the room. The voice had filled her head before,
but why now? Why when the drugs were wearing
Because she really was insane as they claimed?
She rushed to the door, to the small opening, to see
who might be playing tricks on her. But the hallway
outside her cell was empty.
The doctors said she’d had a breakdown and
needed help. That was how they’d talked her into this
damn cell in the first place. A temporary setback,
they’d assured her. Now this. A bolt of terror rushed
through her as she considered she might be losing
what she had left of her mind.
Hot anger replaced fear. Rachel began searching
her cell. The voice wasn’t coming through the speaker
next to the camera overhead, but that didn’t mean
there weren’t others hidden in the room.
First she tore the medical equipment away from the
wall. Then the small dresser. Then her bed. Nothing.
She ripped away the mattress and threw it in a corner,
then searched the bed frame, and when she still found
nothing, picked up the thing as if it weighed no more
than a child’s toy and threw it against a wall.
“Where is the damn speaker?” she yelled, backing
into a corner.“If you close your eyes and concentrate, Rachel,
you can find me.”
Who the hell was screwing with her? The voice
sounded familiar . . . someone she knew once long
Almost against her will, she closed her eyes. A brilliant
flash and a thunderous noise like the blast of an
explosion filled her mind. She caught the sound of
aircraft overhead . . . then the wail of a siren. . . .
Heart thumping, she opened her eyes, pushing
away the splinters of memory that she recognized as
World War II. Time and drugs had suppressed the
past for so long, so how was she remembering now?
What was this horrible dark sensation spreading
through her, paralyzing her?“I know all about you, Rachel. And you know me.
All you have to do is open your mind. . . .”
The voice plunged her to new depths, to a place
that made her stomach knot and the breath catch hot
in her throat. Having faced evil many times in nine
decades, she recognized the depths of darkness the
voice promised. She was drowning in it.
With a gasp, Rachel fought back, more determined
than ever to escape.
Needing to get out of there and now, she opened
her mind again, though not in the way the voice had
suggested. Without moving from her corner, she mentally
felt her way around the room once more to the
most vulnerable spot—the door, of course—and focused
her mental energy on that. The rest of the room
disappeared until the only thing she could see was the
door itself, then only the hardware. The energy built
in her mind until the metal lever began to vibrate.
And then she let loose what she’d heard BB, the head
scientist, call a psychic blast. The door vibrated so
hard that it shook in its frame.
Still, it didn’t open.“If you ever want to get out of there, you need my
came the voice, as if to taunt her.
Terror warring with her need to be free, Rachel got
to her feet again and paced the small space like a
caged animal, one ready to attack.
There had to be a way to get out of this damn
place. She would do anything to breathe fresh air
again. Anything to walk unfettered. To regain her
power. To get revenge.
There had to be a way.
There was, of course. Darkness beckoned. She recognized
it. Sensed how dangerous it could be. To her.
Others had betrayed her. Others had kept her
locked up like an animal, had taken her mind away
from her for months. What did she owe anyone but
Rachel thought how she had given everything and
everything had been taken from her in return. She
had been betrayed. No matter the cost, it was time to
think of herself. She could survive any evil.
All she had to do was hurl herself into the darkness
of the voice to find the way out. . . .
Excerpted from The Vampire Agent by Patricia Rosemoor & Mark Paoletti. Copyright © 2008 by Patricia Rosemoor & Mark Paoletti. Excerpted by permission of Del Rey, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.