Richard Bard is offering a special promotion. He will send you 2 best-selling novels from a list on his website when you purchase BRAINRUSH. It's a win-win situation. You get 3 books for the price of 1. Click here for all the details: http://richardbard.com/promo/
When terminally ill combat pilot Jake Bronson emerges from an MRI with extraordinary cognitive powers, everyone wants a piece of his talent—including Battista, one of the world’s most dangerous terrorists. To save his love and her autistic child, Jake is thrust into a deadly chase that leads from the canals of Venice through Monte Carlo and finally to an ancient cavern in the Hindu Kush Mountains of Afghanistan—where Jake discovers that his newfound talents carry a hidden price that threatens the entire human race.
An all-out, unrelenting thrill ride that will leave you breathless, Richard Bard’s debut novel is a spine tingling adventure marrying the political thriller with science fiction to extraordinary effect. An original weave of current events bound by colorful locations and cutting-edge technology, it is a must-read for fans of Michael Crichton, James Rollins, Clive Cussler, and Brad Thor. The dynamic mix of fast-paced action and thought provoking soul challenges the reader to keep pace with every sharp turn and shocking twist. Acclaimed by fans of action, sci-fi, and political thrillers alike, Brainrush is one of the most innovative and entertaining books of the year.
“Brainrush explores the bonds of friendship while pushing the boundaries of science, creating a compelling, action-packed thriller with a climax that’s a knock-out!” –CJ Lyons, New York Times bestselling author
“A terrifically entertaining thriller with three finely executed set pieces strung together with nice characterization and a story that culminates in a particularly outrageous and fitting conclusion. Especially successful is Bronson, an amiable, low-key tough guy able to rescue his princess, survive brutality, and retain a sense of humor.” – Publishers Weekly
“If this startling debut doesn’t have you turning pages at breakneck speed, then you’re not paying attention. Rich characters, crackling dialogue, and a climactic sequence that is stunning, enervating, and innovative all at once, Richard Bard is a voice to be reckoned with.” – Rebecca Forster, USA Today bestselling author
"An inventive and compelling hybrid of science fiction, adventure, and political thriller. Rather than end the novel with a simple rescue operation, however, this author provides a far more intriguing and unexpected conclusion." – Publishers Weekly (Second Review)
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Author Bio:As a young Air Force pilot, Richard was diagnosed with cancer and learned that he had only a few months to live. But he beat the odds. He earned a management degree from the University of Notre Dame and after leaving the Air Force he ran three successful companies involving advanced security products and hi-tech displays used by US embassies and government facilities worldwide. He was an active member of the California Crime Prevention Officer’s Association and has been published with cover stories in Security magazine and ASIS Security Management magazine.
Cancer killed Richard Bard’s career as a USAF pilot. But it didn’t kill him. Thirty-six years later he’s still going strong. Now he writes about second chances in the BRAINRUSH thriller series. When asked what he hopes to achieve as a writer, he said, “The dream for me is to be walking through an airport and notice someone with her head buried in the book. Many readers have said they found it impossible to put down. For me, that's the ultimate compliment.” Bard currently resides with his wonderful wife in Redondo Beach, California, where he remains in excellent health. Book Two of the series is scheduled for release in December, 2011.
Chapter 1: Veterans Administration Medical Center
Santa Monica, California
Jake Bronson spent the past two weeks preparing to die. He just didn’t want to do it today trapped in this MRI scanner.
The table jiggled beneath him. He was on his way into the narrow tube like a nineteenth-century artillery round being shoved into a cannon. The glassy-eyed gaze of the bored VA medical technician hovered over him, a yellow mustard stain on the sleeve of his lab coat.
“Keep your head perfectly still,” the tech said.
Yeah, right, like he had any choice with the two-inch-wide strap they had cinched over his forehead. Another wiggle and the lip of the tunnel passed into view above him. Jake squeezed his eyes closed, anxious to ignore the curved walls sliding by just an inch from his nose. Three deep breaths and the table jerked to a stop. He was in, cocooned head to toe. He heard the soft whir of the ventilation fan turn on at his feet. The breeze chilled the beads of sweat gathering on his forehead.
The tech’s scratchy-sounding voice came over the speakers in the chamber. “Mr. Bronson, if you can hear me press the button.”
A panic switch. Hadn’t he been in a constant state of panic ever since the doctors told him his disease was terminal? He’d agreed to this final test so he’d know how many months he had left to live, to make at least one positive difference in the world. After today, no more doctors. After today, he’d focus on living. Jake pressed the thumb switch gripped in his hand.
“Got it,” the tech said. “If it gets too confining for you in there, just press it again and I’ll pull you out. But remember, we’ll have to start all over again if that happens, so let’s try to get it right the first time, okay? We only need thirty minutes. Here we go.”
Jake’s thumb twitched over the panic button. Crap. He already wanted to push it. He should have accepted the sedative that they offered him in the waiting room. But his friend Marshall had been standing right there, chuckling under his breath when the tech suggested it.
Too late now.
Why the hell was this happening to him again? Cancer once in a lifetime was more than enough for anyone. But twice? It wasn’t right. He wanted to lash out, but at what? Or whom? This morning he’d smashed the small TV in his bedroom over a movie trailer for Top Gun 2. “Coming next fall.” He hated that he was going to miss that one.
The chamber felt like it was closing in on him. A claustrophobic panic sparked in his gut, a churning that grew with each pound of his heart, a hollow reminder of the crushing confines of the collapsible torture box he’d spent so many hours in during the Air Force’s simulated POW training camp.
Come on, Jake, man-up!
Thirty minutes. That was only eighteen hundred seconds. He clenched his teeth and started counting. One, one thousand, two, one thousand, three—
The machine started up with a loud clanking noise. The sound startled him and his body twitched.
“Please don’t move, Mr. Bronson.” The tech was irritated.
The tapping noise sounded different than he remembered from the MRI he had ten years ago. “Lymphoma,” the flight surgeon had said. “Sorry, but you’re grounded.” And just like that, his childhood dreams of flying the F-16 were cut short on the day before his first combat mission. The chemo and radiation treatments had sucked. But they worked. The cancer was forced into remission—until two weeks ago, when it reappeared in the form of a tumor in his brain.
The annoying rattle settled into a pattern. Jake let out a deep breath, trying to relax.
Eight, one thousand, nine, one thousand—
Suddenly, the entire chamber jolted violently to the right, as if the machine had been T-boned by a dump truck. Jake’s body twisted hard to one side, but his strapped head couldn’t follow. He felt a sharp pain in his neck and the fingers on his left hand went numb. The fan stopped blowing, the lights went out, and the chamber started shaking like a gallon can in a paint-store agitator.
A keening whistle from deep within the machine sent shooting pains into Jake’s rattling skull. A warm wetness pooled in his ears and muffled his hearing.
He squeezed down hard on the panic button, shouting into the darkness, each word trembling with the quake’s vibration. “Get—me—out—of—here!”
No one answered.
He wedged his palms against the sidewalls to brace himself. The surface was warm, getting hotter.
The air felt charged with electricity. His skin tingled. Sparks skittered along the wall in front of his face, the first sign in the complete darkness that his eyes were still functioning. The acrid scent of electrical smoke filled his nostrils.
Jake’s fists pounded the thick walls of the chamber. He howled, “Somebody—”
His body went rigid. His arms and legs jerked spasmodically in seizure, his head thrown back. He bit deep into his tongue and his mouth filled with the coppery taste of blood. Sharp, burning needles of blinding pain blossomed in the hollow at the back of his skull, wriggling through his brain. His head felt like it was ready to burst.
The earthquake ended as abruptly as it started.
So did the seizure.
Jake sagged into the table, his thumping heart threatening to break through his chest.
Faint voices. His mind lunged for them. He peered down toward his toes. A light flickered on in the outer room. Shadows shifted.
The table jerked beneath him, rolling out into the room. When Jake’s head cleared the outer rim of the machine, two pairs of anxious eyes stared down at him. It was the tech and Jake’s buddy, Marshall.
“You okay?” Marshall asked, concern pinching his features.
But an odd, sporadic buzzing in Jake’s head told him something was very different.