SERENA BENT OVER TO KISS her father good night. He barely moved, his eyes glued to his iPad, reviewing his notes from his consular meetings that day.
“Good night, Father.”
He mumbled something that resembled “Good night,” kissed the top of her head, and returned to his notes. She straightened herself, turned, and walked out of the sitting room. Ever since the riot that devastated downtown Manila and the reports of hundreds of people who went missing a few weeks ago, her father had stayed past office hours at the consulate every night.
Her thoughts raced as she walked down the long dark corridor. Due to the blackouts in the city, everyone had to conserve electricity by keeping the lights off as much as possible. The huge three-story house was intimidating in the daytime but even spookier at nighttime. Built in 1926, the maids said that the house was one of the oldest in Quezon City, which, according to legend, the ghosts of the Filipino prisoners who were tortured and killed in the rooms throughout the house during the Japanese occupation, still wandered the hallways.
Suddenly, Serena felt a hand on her left shoulder. Parts of her wanted to start running, but instead, she froze in her tracks. The spicy scent of “Gucci pour Homme” cologne enveloped her nostrils. She must have sprayed that scent on thousands of male customers last summer at her part-time job during the “Shangri-la Plaza’s Back to School” promotion. Definitely, not a ghost.
“Don’t be scared, Serena. We need to talk,” a deep, strong voice whispered in her ear.
This clown was about to learn he was messing with the wrong girl. All she needed was an opening and her training would kick in. She continued walking down the hall. The stranger pressed his hand into the small of her back.
She squinted to see her reflection in the twenty-foot mirror at the end of the hallway. Her short, dirty blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail, revealed her pale white skin. Her pink cotton pajamas made her look like a bewildered child and not the confident twenty-two-year-old she was known to be among her circle of friends.
As they walked closer towards the mirror, she could faintly see the outline of her captor; his hooded jacket hid his facial features. Possibly six feet tall, his frame overshadowed her mere five-foot-two inches of height. She made mental notes, so if he got away after she disabled him, she’d have all the details to give to the police.
“Let’s go inside your room.”
It was more of a request than a command.
Why did he sound so familiar? Who was this person? She opened the door into the darkness of the room. Her hand reached out for the light switch, an automatic reaction. He grabbed her hand and held it tight.
“Keep the lights down for now.”
The streaks of pale moonlight streamed through the open window onto her bed.
Serena tried to think. She could have easily caught her captor by surprise and kneed him in the groin or better yet, gouged his eyes out if she wanted to. Having taught self-defense classes at Global Nation for the past two years, she was not about to lose her advantage of her hidden talent until she ascertained what kind of weapon he carried.
“Have a seat on the bed.”
Unsure of what his intentions were and yet as equally curious, she sat down on the corner of her bed, obeying his request. Her gaze moved up his dark pants and up his jacket until it reached his face. He raised his arm. She held her breath anticipating a blow, but realized he was only removing his hoodie from his head.
Before she could react, he sat down beside her and removed the backpack from his shoulder and lowered it onto the bed, keeping it close to him. He fumbled for a minute and brought out a square object. He placed it onto his lap and then opened it. The bright light from the laptop caught her by surprise and forced her to rule out robbery, rape, or kidnapping as a motive. He had to be the lamest intruder on the planet.
Unable to contain herself, she jumped up and said in a loud voice, “What is this? Who the hell are you?”
He turned to her, his blue eyes piercing into hers. His lips curled into a smile, like a child who had a secret to share.
“Harry…Harry Doubt. Nice to finally meet you in person, Serena, or should I say, Lioness? I have a mission for you. Many Philippine citizens have ‘disappeared’ or have gone missing in the last year.”
“Are you nuts?” Serena sputtered. “You don’t break into peoples’ houses and say, ‘Hi, I have a mission for you.’ I want you to leave.”
Serena stood, pointing at the door.
“Perhaps I went about this the wrong way,” Harry said with a sigh.
Harry reached out to shake her hand in an attempt to introduce himself. Serena grabbed it and made a swift classic “ippon seoinage” judo move, disabling Harry with a one-arm shoulder throw to the ground. She pinned her foot over his throat and twisted his arm. That teaches you a lesson.
“So talk to me. What’s this about?” she asked.
“Manila, Global Nation,” Harry managed to choke out. “Disappearances.”
“So? Tell me something I don’t know. Global Nation has been offering help to the local police and army to investigate the disappearances.”
She pushed her foot even more firmly on his throat.
“In my front pocket of my shirt, there’s a flash card. Take it.”
She reached for the flash card while keeping an eye on him.
“We need you to find out what is on your father’s computer. We have information that GN is involved.”
Do you love shows like J.J. Abrams’ Fringe and read books like Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones?
“Doubt” mashes fringe science, corporate espionage and paranormal encounters to catapult you into an out-of-this-world experience.
At 21 years old, Harry and Cristal are fresh out of university with their PhD’s. Labeled all their lives as being ‘weird’ and ‘geeky’, they find true friendships with other outcasts by playing online virtual reality games.
Harry Doubt, a genius programmer and creator of the popular online game ‘Truth Seekers’, has a personal mission of his own; to find his mother who went mysteriously missing while volunteering on a peacekeeping mission in Palestine. His gaming friends and followers inadvertently join in helping him find her; believing that they are on missions to find out what has happened to their own missing loved ones. During Harry’s missions, Cristal and the team of ‘Truth Seekers’ stumble upon things that make them doubt the reality of their own lives. As they get closer to the truth, they realize that there are spiritual forces among them both good and evil, but in learning this, they activate a chain of events that start the beginning of the ‘end of the world’ as they know it.
Doubt is Book 1 of the Among Us Trilogy. Among Us is a book series which delves into the world of the supernatural and how it intersects with the everyday lives of seemingly ordinary young people as catastrophic events on earth lead to the end of times. Among Us weaves the theme of a young man and woman, who while not fully understanding their ‘abilities’, are drawn together in their desire to find out the truth about the world they live in which is similar to themes used in J.J. Abrams’ TV shows Fringe and Lost.
What readers have to say…
As a big fan of the show Fringe, this book appealed to me tremendously. The writing was well done, and the way the “supernatural” forces were introduced was great.
A good, clean read for any age.
It was an excellent story that I’m sure both adult and teen urban fantasy fans will enjoy. You don’t have to be a gamer or know one to identify with the characters. They’re very well developed and definitely feel like people. I would definitely recommend it to a friend and I’m really looking forward to the second book.
…the novel is written in such a languid style, it moves on effortlessly and absorbs the reader into the story completely. Although the story itself revolves around the online gaming industry, one does not have to have an in depth knowledge as it is ably explained and discussed within the plot line.
OMGosh! I just finished reading “Doubt” INCREDIBLE! I couldn’t put it down.
˃˃˃ >>> Depth and Substance mashed up with Fringe Science. Will entertain young and old alike.
This book is intended for mature young adults and new adults. Ages 16 to 45 +
˃˃˃ >>Inspired by real Truth Seekers Aaron Swartz and Harry Fear
The main character Harry Doubt was inspired by Aaron Swartz, internet prodigy and activist, co-founder of the Creative Commons and Reddit, and Harry Fear, journalist, documentary filmmaker and activist whose coverage of the conflict in the Middle East was seen on UStream by millions of viewers.
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Genre – Young Adult, Paranormal, Science Fiction, Thriller
Rating – G
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