Flight of the Tarantula Hawk – A Lance Underphal Mystery –
Flight of the Tarantula Hawk, the next of the mystery books featuring that reluctant psychic, Lance Underphal, is back from my Alpha Readers and about ready to go to the publisher.
A Big Bad Black Bitch –
Tarantula Hawk: The largest of the wasps, bluish-black with Halloween orange wings. The female wasp’s stinger is typically 1/3 of an inch long and next to the bullet ant, it has the most painful sting of ANY insect.
A native of the southwestern desert, the tarantula hawk stalks, captures and paralyzes tarantula spiders in order to reproduce. An egg is laid on the paralyzed tarantula; the spider is buried alive with the larva, which hatches within a few days and eats the paralyzed spider. A hard way to go if you are a tarantula.
How the tarantula hawk fits into a paranormal mystery story, you’ll have to read to find out. After all, it’s a mystery.
A Taste of What’s to Come –
I shoulder my way through the news crews. The perimeter is cordoned off with crime scene tape. I hold up my news badge as I duck under the yellow plastic tape. A squat, middle-aged male, dressed in Phoenix Police blues, stops me with an outstretched hand.
“Where do you think you’re going?” He says.
“Detective Salmon’s expecting me.”
Eyeing me skeptically, he calls to check. After a terse exchange, he lets me go, pointing me in Salmon’s general direction.
I climb the flagstone steps to the open entry, crossing the threshold onto dusty hardwood planking. It’s painfully obvious this place hasn’t been lived in for months, maybe longer. The dead air hangs like a pall, death permeating everything. I grit my teeth.
Lacey appears from around the corner, lips tight and a grim set to her jaw. Eyes downcast, she suddenly glances up and sees me.
“Oh, Lance, good. I need you to get pictures of all this. Creepy, huh?”
I can’t resist. “I find murder scenes generally trend toward the creepy side.”
She’s not amused by my weak-ass attempt at levity. She turns to lead me deeper into the empty house. “ Let me show you where she died.”
“Where who died?”
“She was Carla Simon, a Realtor, early thirties, married with one kid. Her husband Howard, reported her missing five days ago. When she didn’t come home from a showing, he called the cops and filed a missing persons report the next day. Frank can tell you more.”
We round the corner into a large vacant living area. A small section of wall is brightly lit with high-intensity floods on tripods, the better for Forensics to examine the death scene. Up against the wall, a crude outline of a crumpled body is taped to the floor. A thick film of dust blankets the room, disturbed only by the night’s emergency response traffic. Void of furniture, the floor’s expanse of hardwood stretches to three cream-colored walls and a large sliding glass door. The slider is open to allow ventilation—the heavy stench of rotting flesh still lingering persistently. Beyond the halogens’ bright glare, pale moonlight cuts through the backyard trees in harsh rays, further exposing the emptiness.
I feel Carla Simon’s cool essence, as though the house breathes, alive with her bewildered presence. She’s standing, back against the brightly lit wall, gazing out through the far side of the room’s glass expanse, detached, watching expectantly, unaware of the commotion around her.
I don’t know what to say.
An icy shiver runs up my spine, standing all the little hairs on gooseflesh. I stop to watch Carla’s vaporous image shimmer, not realizing that I’m holding my breath.
Lacey’s face wrinkles with concern. “You okay?”
Locked on, I dare not shift focus from Mrs. Simon. Need to keep her in front of me where I can keep an eye on her. “Yeah, just give me a minute.”
The entity that is Carla Simon seems oblivious to my presence and I intend to keep it that way.
Lacey’s antsy without knowing why and I don’t have the courage to explain it—not that she’d believe me.
With one eye glued on the apparition that is Carla Simon, I slip my Canon off my shoulder. I fire away in short bursts of three frames per second, working my way around the body’s imprint. Moving in a widening spiral, I capture the rest of the scene with dozens of digital images. I take a cursory tour through the rest of the dark empty rooms, quickly committing them to megapixels. Need to get out of here.
That’s it for now. Enjoy.
Flight of the Tarantula Hawk, the next book in the paranormal mystery series will be available on Amazon soon, probably around Thanksgiving.
For more in the paranormal mystery vein, check out the book trailer for Dark Side of Sunset Pointe.
As always, my blatant self-promotion as a mystery writer follows:
For more on Michael Allan Scott and my work, go to michaelallanscott.com
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