Best known as the author of Logan’s Run (global bestseller, MGM movie, CBS television series, and—in the near future—a mega-film release from Warner Bros.), William F. Nolan has 90 books, 40 film/TV scripts, and over 700 magazine sales to his credit. His work has been selected for more than 330 anthologies and textbooks, and he is also a poet, artist, and playwright. Among many honors, Nolan won the “Silver Medal for Excellence” from the Independent Publishers of America, and is twice winner of the Edgar Allen Poe Special Award. He was cited by the American Library Association, has won two Golden Medallions in Europe, and (in 2002) was voted an official “Living Legend in Horror/Dark Fantasy” by the International Horror Guild. He was also voted “Author Emeritus for 2006” by the Science Fiction Writers of America, and won the Stoker “Life Achievement Award” from the Horror Writers of America in 2010. Nolan lives in Vancouver, WA with 4,000 of his favorite books and a stuffed gorilla.
I N T R O D U C T I O N
I TAKE SPECIAL DELIGHT in creating series characters: Logan the Sandman (Logan's Run), Sam Space, my wacky, Mars-based detective (Seven for Space), Bart Challis, my ultra-tough L.A. Eye (The White Cad Cross-Up), and as this collection demonstrates, paranormal investigator David Kincaid.
Although Kincaid made his printed debut in “Pirate’s Moon,” written in the spring of 1986, his roots extend back to the fall of 1972, when I drafted a teleplay for producer Dan Curtis featuring paranormal investigator David Norliss (The Norliss Tapes). Norliss was set to star in his own TV series, but the project was killed by a writer’s strike. However, I liked writing about a protagonist who delves in the paranormal. Thus, fourteen years later, David Norliss morphed into David Kincaid.
I may write about him again.
Or I may not.
Up to Fate, my mood of the moment, and how much I need the money.
For now —here’s Kincaid.
ALTHOUGH WE’D NEVER MET, Dwight Robert Lee and I shared the same beach. Separated by several miles of sand, but with the same blue-green Pacific waters washing over us both. Me, wind-surfi ng near the Santa Monica pier, trying to forget a rough day with my tax accountant, using the ocean as personal therapy—until it got too dark and cold to stay in the water. Him, a few miles farther up the coast, at Pirate’s Cove, doing nothing in particular, loose-limbed, just rolling with the waves, letting them take him where they would. Neither of us was in any hurry to go anywhere.
By the time the moon came out, riding clear of a massed cloud bank, I was home, wrestling a bachelor’s steak onto my backyard barbecue. Dwight Robert Lee was still at the beach. Stretched on the cool sand in the sudden wash of moonlight. He wasn’t going home that night. Not in his condition.
For one thing, his head was missing.
Naturally, I read about the discovery of his body in the L.A. Times the next morning. But I didn’t personally get involved with the case for another week. Not until the afternoon Mike Lucero decided that he needed my help.
Mike is a close friend, so I’d better tell you about him. He’s a homicide detective working out of the Malibu Sheriff ’s Station. Built like a weight lifter. Big, slab-muscled, with a wide grin that buries his eyes in sun wrinkles. Miguel Francisco Lucero. Oldest of nine children. He grew up on one of those
He lives in Woodland Hills, in the western San Fernando Valley, with his wife, Carla, and a loud pair of twin five-yearold daughters. He’s a good man and a good cop.
I met Mike three years ago, when he attended one of my psychic seminars. As a cop, he fi gured it would help if he could develop his psychic ability. We all have it, to one degree or another. Some more, some less. Just a matter of selfdevelopment. I’m into the world of the paranormal; it’s what I do for a living. I teach, write, investigate, conduct seminars, hold personal consultations—the works. I don’t expect everybody to believe in all the stuff I deal with (I’m still mentally struggling with a lot of it myself), but I do ask people to keep an open mind about our incredible universe and what might or might not be in it. In outer and inner space—the space inside our being. You, me, and the cosmic universe. A big package.
Anyhow, after listening to some of my ideas, Mike figured I was a certified nut case and we didn’t see each other again for a year. Until the body of a teenage girl was found in Topanga Canyon with her throat cut. No clues. No suspects.
Mike came to me, reluctantly, and asked if I could help him crack the case. Brought along a ring found on the body.“You’re the psychic,” he growled, “so tell me what happened.”
I couldn’t. My psychic powers are quite limited. I sent him to a woman named Brenner in Pasadena. She “read” the dead girl’s ring, and her mental visions eventually led Mike to the killer. Doesn’t always work that way, but this time it did. Lucero was impressed.
We talked. Had dinner together. By evening’s end, he gave me that slit-eyed grin of his and said, “Damn if I don’t think we’re friends. What do you think?”
Over the next two years I helped Mike on half a dozen cases. Not all of them were solved, but I gave each one my best shot. Which is why I am an offi cial Sheriff ’s Consultant— with a shiny badge to prove it.
So here was big Mike Lucero, on a foggy coastal afternoon in May, sprawled across my living-room couch, sipping from a can of Diet Pepsi, talking about the dead man found under a pirate’s moon.
“This guy was one bad dude,” Mike declared. “They called him Stomper. That’s because he enjoyed putting the boot to people he mugged.” Mike took a swig from his Pepsi. “Dwight Robert ‘Stomper’ Lee. A sadistic sicko. Believe me, he was no loss to society.”
I was across the room in a chair by the fireplace. Wasn’t fire weather; it’s just my best chair. “How come you know his name when the corpse was stripped and his head was missing? How’d you make the ID?”
“Body tattoo. Skull and crossbones on the right side of his chest. Which told us he belonged to the Henchmen.”
“That outlaw cycle gang?”
“Right. Every member of the Devil’s Henchmen has to carry a chest tattoo.”
“You bet. Anyhow, we figured he’d have a record and ran his prints. Bingo. Computer told us all we wanted to know about him.”
“Except who killed him.”
“Yeah.” Mike nodded. “Not that I personally give a damn. Whoever did it rated a medal—but I happen to be a cop and he happens to be a murder victim. So you play the game.” Mike shrugged his heavy shoulders.
“Why come to me on this one?” I asked him.
“Because we’re zip on it. Absolute dead end. And because it’s weird.” He gave me his slitted grin. “You know I always bring the weirdos to you, Dave.”
“So what’s so weird about finding a cycle freak with his head missing? Maybe he ripped off another Henchmen’s chick and they stomped the Stomper. Or it could be the work of a rival gang who took his head for a souvenir.”
“Whoever did it took more than his head,” said Mike.
I raised an eyebrow. “More?”
“The scumbag’s heart was missing. Cut right out of the
body.” Mike reached into his jacket and handed me an object
sealed in clear plastic—a beaded feather, with a complex
pattern of bright threads wound through it. We found this
at the beach near Lee’s corpse. You know something about
I told Mike a lot about my childhood—about my early years in Arizona on the Hopi Reservation. My parents worked there for the U.S. Bureau of Indian Aff airs. After they died—in a desert flash flood when I was six—I grew close to an old, half-blind Hopi medicine man who became a father figure to me. He gave me my first real taste of the spiritual world when he taught me the metaphysical Hopi view of life. Later at the University of Arizona, I expanded my knowledge by studying Indian lore from a wide variety of tribes.
So Mike was right. I know something about Indians. I carefully examined the feather, turning it slowly in the air.
“Well?” Mike growled impatiently. “What tribe is it from?”
“None,” I said.
“I mean it’s not from any Indian tribe in North America.”
“You got me. I’ve never seen one like it. How do you know this is connected with Lee’s murder?”
“I don’t,” Mike admitted. “It could have washed up on the beach the same way he did.”
“Have you tried a psychic?”
“Sure, a couple. The two you put me onto—the Brenner woman and that bearded guy in Santa Monica, Dorfman.”
“What did they tell you?”
“A lot of nothing is what they told me.” He scowled, scrubbing a hand along his cheek. “Claimed they couldn’t get any kind of clear reading on it.”
“Then maybe the feather’s not related to Lee’s death,” I said, handing it back. “Could have been tossed into the ocean by anybody.”
“Yeah.” Mike sighed. “Who the hell knows?”
He put his empty soda can on the coffee table and stood up. “Well, thanks anyhow.”
“Have to. Carla’s got dinner in the microwave. I promised her I’d be home early.”
“Tell her I said hi.”
“Sure.” When he reached the door he turned to level a hard look at me. “When you gonna get married again?”
“Whoa, pal! Give me some time. The divorce papers have barely cooled. Besides, I’d forgotten how nice a little solitude can—”
“Don’t give me the ‘contented bachelor’ bit,” growled Mike, cutting me off . “You need a woman. Living alone is no damn good.”
And he was gone before I could think of a snappy reply to that one.
A month later, in June, Lucero contacted me again. I’d been out of state, conducting a mind-expansion seminar outdoors in Arizona, and I got back to find Mike’s recorded growl on my answering machine. His message was brief and to the point: “Another murder. And another damn feather. Call me.”
When I reached him by phone at the station he seemed edgy. “’Bout time you got back. Where the hell were you?”
“In the Arizona desert earning my living,” I said tersely.
“You know, I’m not paid to be on call to the Malibu Sheriff ’s Department.”
His toned softened. “Okay, okay…I’m out of line. But this has been a crappy week.”
I eased back on the couch, the receiver cradled against my shoulder. “So tell me about the second feather.”
“I’d rather show it to you. Can you come down to the station?”
“I guess so.”
“Then I’ll be waiting.” And he rang off .
(C) William F. Nolan 2011
© Paul Kane 2003-2017. All rights reserved. Materials (including images) may not be reproduced without express permission from the author.