“The Christmas Mission”: Excerpt from MIND KILLER (Underground)


When MIND KILLER was first published (in 2005, by a different publisher than it currently has), this scene was dramatically shortened “for length” — the book was deemed too long, and at the time, my editor didn’t see the significance of this scene, even though I assured her it would be important, later on. The version of this scene you find here is how it reads today, from Under The Moon.

Pay special attention to the phone call at the end of the scene. Who is this mystery man who was cut from the original publication of MIND KILLER, and what is the major, significant role he plays to the Commandos?  Ah… but you’ll just have to wait and see! 😉


“The Christmas Mission” : Excerpt from MIND KILLER (Underground #2) —

Rick Carinson let his eyes scan the snowy storefronts as he went, and watched the people bustle in and out with armloads of packages.  Two weeks until Christmas.  The stores along Park and Forty-ninth were done up like whores in heavy make-up, flaunting their merchandise in bold red-and-green signs and lights, and in bright, festive displays.  Rick sighed heavily.  He didn’t feel like Christmas.  The hard, heavy lump in his jacket hung over him like Scrooge over Cratchett, blocking out all thoughts of celebration or festivity.

“Merry Christmas,” he muttered in wry, bitter humor.  Christmas would probably find the team on a stakeout, crouched in some godforsaken place, waiting tensely to see who would get hurt next.  Who might die.


Why was he still doing this?  He could disband the entire team, settle down, and have a family.  But something in him was crying out for justice, for vengeance.  They were the voices of his own Christmases past; friends who died in his fucked-up Christmas raids.  They were the reason why he rescued Matt from Cabrini; the reason he kept such a tight rein on the brash black man.  He saw in Matt Clipper the man he was himself, once, and hoped to save another from repeating his mistakes.  And, speaking of mistakes…

Rick winced as he recalled his argument with Tamia from last night.  He was a selfish bastard.  What right did he have to ask her to marry him?  What had she done to deserve that kind of life?  What in her past was so horrible to deserve him as a husband?  She should be happily married, with the children she wanted so badly.

Instead, she was stuck in a “might-as-well-be-military” unit, deprived of children, or even the assurance that her lover would always be there.  He worried for her if he would ever die.  He wondered, for an instant, if proposing to her was smart, after all.  But he couldn’t live with anything less, now.  He had to offer her what security he could.

Security…Damn.  His mind went to the disc in his pocket, again.  He still couldn’t believe he’d accepted the damned assignment.  What the hell was he thinking?

Not that he would have ever questioned the mission, before.  Orders were orders.  But now, he couldn’t help wondering if they’d all bitten off more than they could handle.  He wasn’t satisfied with the information Tolson gave him.  There wasn’t much – just a list of names and numbers that probably wouldn’t amount to squat in the end.

Rick’s cell phone rang, pulling his attention away from the uneasy roiling in his gut.  Withdrawing the phone from his pocket, he answered, “Carinson.”

“You’re a hard man to get a hold of, young man.”

Rick grinned at the subtle chiding in that mild, Boston-accented voice.   “I’m a busy man.  You have all the numbers.  If you want to reach me, you know how.”

“Testy.  God, you sound more like your mother every day.”  This statement was followed by a wistful chuckle.  “So, I saw there’s been some trouble in New York.  Anything we need to discuss?”

Rick’s first reaction was to deny it.  He wasn’t so great at outside chains of command – even when they were need-to-know.  But if there was one person out there who could be counted on to keep his mouth shut, it was this man.

copyright 1994 by Esther Mitchell


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