Wake the Dead by Victoria Buck

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About the Book

What if the first man reborn of an evolutionary leap doesn’t like his new life? Is escape even possible?

The time is right for introducing the world to the marvels of techno-medical advancements. An influential man, one loved and adored, is needed for the job, and who better than celebrity Chase Sterling? After suffering injuries no one could survive Chase is rebuilt like no one has ever seen before.

In the not-too-distant future a man-–if he can still be called a man–-breaks away from the forces taking over his life and finds new purpose in the secret world of hiding believers.

Book Excerpt

In the near future…

Chase Sterling, with great pride and sentiment, announced the unmatched prizes awarded by his primetime unreality program, Change Your Life. “A hundred million in a world exchange account and a ninety-foot yacht to take you to the Caribbean island mansion built for you and your family, Judy Bamber.”

The five thousand fans lucky enough to hold tickets to the show that night applauded in wild astonishment.

Chase lifted his hand, and the cheers fell to a low roar. “That’s not all, Judy. You’ll have the best surgeons we can find to turn you into a goddess, and you’re the new owner of a WR Selfdrive dealership sure to gross millions every year.”

The cries of the throng rose louder. But without the glint of a tear or a single word of gratitude, Judy Bamber dropped to her knees and her portly middle-aged mug slapped the golden stage.

Chase pored over his shocked and simmering congregation. He had to sustain the momentum. The fans had just witnessed the biggest win in the show’s history. And the most dramatic reaction—Judy’s face hit hard. Not that a broken nose mattered now. She’d soon have a new one.

Electric blue beams coursed through the auditorium and the music reached its peak, but the crowd hushed. Along with them, millions, maybe a billion, likely held a collective gasp in front of their GrapheVisions.

Chase had to deliver, to pull yet another miserable soul from the ranks of the poor, the sick, and the unattractive. His mission, his destiny, was to make winners out of losers. That’s what he planned to do for the rest of his life. No one could stop him.

The glorious anthem that accompanied every win ebbed to the melodic equivalent of bated breath. Nice touch. The director played the situation well. But he’d better not flood the stage with medics. Chase could get this dumpling off the floor.

He knelt on one knee next to the show’s newest chosen one and turned to the crowd. “People, help me out. Judy is missing the moment.‛ He hoped it worked. “Scream loud enough to wake the dead!”

The hum escalated to a roar and the walls seemed to shake. Within seconds, Judy rose to her feet as though a hand had come through the stage to thrust her upright. Or else, from somewhere among the brilliant lights overhead, a puppeteer had tugged a string and lifted her.

Chase stood and clasped her hand. She smiled, having survived the greatest moment of her life with no visible damage. No broken teeth. No swollen nose.

A reverberation of awe, decibels lower than the dead-awakening shriek, swept through the assembly. Chase kept his eyes on the risen Judy Bamber, but he knew from where he stood that some in the audience dropped to their seats or to the floor of the narrow aisles. No one seemed concerned about this contagion of fainting. Those still on their feet held their stare on the newest victor.

Chase swallowed hard. It felt like the first time he’d announced a big win. What a privilege to bestow such a blessing. The network supplied the goods—by means of the advertisers, of course—but Chase bestowed the bounty on this floating, glowing gazillionaire. He was Judy Bamber’s savior. She was the star, at least for the moment. He was the endless sky.

“Judy, are you all right? You gave us a scare hitting the floor like that.”

She scarcely giggled as she nodded. “Forgive me.”

“You are our biggest winner ever. How does it feel?”

She lifted her hands to the lights. “It feels like air, Chase. Like I couldn’t breathe before, but now I can.”

“Do you hear that, people? Resuscitation. This woman will never have to worry again. She has entered the world of the wealthy, the universe of the unrestricted. Thanks to SynVue, our generous global network, Judy Bamber is now one of the richest women in the Western Republic. Her prize is beyond anything our wondrous program has awarded to date.”

Chase spread his arms wide. “And as you all know, the bigger the winner’s prize…”

The crowd let loose with a frenzied shout.

“Judy, you know what to say.” He faced her to wait with the fans.

“Yes, Chase, my prize is big. My fortune is their fortune.” She turned her avid expression to him. “What will they receive?”

“Here’s what I’m going to give them, Judy. Every one of them.” He turned again to the crowd. “You’re all going home with a brand new…” He paused until he thought a few eyeballs would pop out and roll down the aisles. “Autonomous fuel cell car, complete with front and rear reality shield.”

The thunderous reaction brought a buzz to Chase’s eardrums. Judy clapped her plump hands and smiled as she turned her gaze upward to the rear of the massive auditorium. A foretelling quiet descended on the fans, and then the soft voice called from above.

“Judy Bamber, come claim your prize and begin your new life.” This invitation from the show’s mystifying producer brought another ovation from the spectators. They knew the voice and turned as one to the blackened portal high against the far wall. From there, the illustrious Kerstin Bennett called forth the new winner. “I’m waiting for you Judy, with all that you will receive.”

Judy blasted off the stage and took the center aisle like a nimble twenty-year-old. The fans reached for her as she passed by. They cheered as she climbed the golden stairs, and sighed as she vanished into the passageway between the lower level and the tiered balcony.

Chase took his usual spot—the center platform edged with shafts of white light. But this remarkable episode called for something different. He stepped onto the illuminated ramp and went down into the crowd. A spotlight followed him. The people cried out in delight as the nearest ones reached for him.

“And so we’ve sent another lucky soul to begin her new life. Remember, our aim is to change your life. Good night.” He touched a few outstretched hands before racing up the incline. The musical finale resonated through the auditorium as he reached the backstage egress.

Chase retreated, knowing thousands stampeded the exits to form lines to the prize arena. Dozens of SynVue employees would spend the rest of the night handing out vouchers for the cars. Kerstin’s team would devote the next several hours to Judy Bamber. They’d go over the regulations, sign documents, and schedule appearances.

But Chase’s part, at least for tonight, was done.

“Nice job out there, boss.” His right-hand girl thrust a bottle of cold water into his outstretched hand.

“Thanks, Mel. Can you handle the press?”

“Me? I don’t think the queen would like that.”

“Watch what you say, Mel.”

“Sorry, Ms. Bennett wouldn’t like it. Besides, you love the post-show interview, especially after a big win. And this—”

“Is the biggest win ever, I know,” Chase said. “I’ll be tempted to say too much.”

Mel stepped close, her brown eyes growing wide. “About what?”

“Never mind. Don’t worry about Kerstin. I’ll take care of her.” He put his hands on Mel’s shoulders and turned her toward the approaching crowd. “Just handle it.”

“You got it.” She stepped toward the gathering of media reps. “This way to the press room. You know the routine.”

“Chase, how’s our favorite game show host? You’ve got to be running out of ideas. And money,” one of the herd called.

Chase couldn’t let this go without a response. “Change Your Life is no game. Unreality programming remakes the real world of helpless individuals. As for your other insinuations, ideas and money are limitless, my friend. SynVue knows no boundaries. And soon…”He forced his warmest smile before giving them just enough to rouse their curiosity. “Greater things are coming. Thank you all for being here. My assistant will answer any questions about our winner and her wonderful new life.”

Chase left them and took the rear hallway. With his pulse racing and his ears still buzzing, he considered his show’s future.

After this, they’d bring in a couple of contestants destined for smaller victories. Then, something big. Bigger than the massive fortune just awarded to Judy Bamber. Lucky lady. But her luck would soon be forgotten.

On to other projects. New contestants. Bigger prizes.

Something unforgettable.

photo (7)About the Author

Victoria Buck is a lifelong resident of Central Florida. She clings to the Gospel, serves in the local church, relishes time spent writing, and curiously contemplates the future. Wake the Dead is her first novel.

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