I’m happy to feature a short book extract from WECU Inc. (we see you) by author Rick Stevens, with his permission.
It was the weekend before Kieran decided to cruise the halls again. If he could find a
pattern in the girl’s comings and goings, he might be able to orchestrate what seemed like an
accidental meeting, bump into the reader of the dangerous visions in the lobby or something.
He walked casually through the lobby a couple of times. On the way out of the lobby the second
time, he stopped by an unmanned kiosk full of local travel destination brochures. He was
unobtrusively scanning the room with his head tilted slightly downward, looking over the top of
a museum brochure, when a soft but distinct tap on his shoulder startled him, causing him to
make an embarrassing little yelp, almost dropping the brochure. When he turned around, he
was looking at the girl from the hallway, another small, dark-haired person. She could have
been his sister.
She started off calmly. “I could tell that you were watching us because you were at an
angle to the glass where you could see our reflection. I thought about waving.”
Kieran was still speechless, so she went on. “I’ve seen you acting normal in places where
you don’t usually go. Most people didn’t notice. My name is Malaya, which means free and
independent, by the way.” The burst of adrenalin was over, and it was obvious that he was caught. “Uh, hi. I’m Kieran. I… am glad to meet you? I was just…”
Malaya gave him kind of a Mona Lisa smile, “Looking for me?”
“Sort of, well, ok. But it’s not creepy. You have been reading the Dangerous Visions book,
right? I am too. I thought that maybe we could talk about it.”The Mona Lisa smile faded into something else. “Talking about a book, not creepy. But how did you know that I was reading it? It came in the mail and hasn’t been out of my room.” “I heard your mother or someone ask if it was a cult book.” Seeing the deepening frown, he continued. “I can’t hear a lot, and I just happened to hear that as I was… passing by.”
“You are saying that you can hear a conversation in my room out in the hall? I find that
hard to believe.”
He had never told anyone but Charles about his excursions through the basement
hallways and apartment service shafts, but he saw no other options. Glancing around the lobby,
he said, “Ok. Let’s go over to that corner table by those plants and talk.” He continued in
hushed tones when they sat down. “I’ve been exploring the basement. It’s huge. It’s a maze of
hallways and maintenance areas. Conditions were just right when a woman said the book’s
name pretty loud. I could only partly hear what you said. Sound comes through the vents a little
bit. I thought that the name of the book was interesting.”
“Ok, talking about a book, not creepy. Listening to people from weird basement areas,
that’s the definition of creepy. I bet it’s dark. Are there spiders down there?”
Leaning over the table and speaking even more softly, “First, now I’m going to have to
watch for spiders. Second, the weird basement areas are kind of fun to check out, hallways,
weird little rooms, tunnels full of pipes and wires that run all over and even into other buildings.
Please, don’t tell anyone. My family doesn’t know how often I leave my basement bedroom and
wander around.” Kieran tried to read the expression on Malaya’s face. When he failed, he just
said, “Wanna see?” The physical changes in Malaya’s shift to a smile again were subtle, but the message was clear. “Of course. By the way, I like spiders.”
Here’s the Vella link to the book.