Mystery, Thriller, Crime
Date Published: 08/11/2016
Danny Lahti had it all: fame, fortune, friends, love – and an obsessed stalker.
Obsession can be a powerful curse. What happens when you think your world is perfect, but someone behind the scenes is determined to test you in every way possible? As the clock ticks toward the year 2000, Danny’s world starts unraveling without explanation. An unknown hacker unleashes a digital attach on his Internet company just months before its public debut. A prowler attempts to break into his historic mansion which houses, according to Hollywood rumor, secret vaults. A long-time friend goes missing. Is it all coincidence, or are these just the first feats by a crazed admirer determined to force the truth from Danny?
And what is the truth? The complicated days that follow force Danny to have another look at his own relationships, misdeeds, and damaged past. But will he ever learn the lesson that will satisfy the devil who taunts him?
C H A P T E R O N E
Twenty minutes to midnight, and the ice on the frozen lake outside cracked. The loud reverberations of winter echoed through the night and invaded Danny Lahti’s peace.
Danny was prepared to let time move forward in whatever incremental way it chose. At that moment . . . sitting on a sofa in an enormous room near midnight . . . huddled within a century-old hunting lodge of a long-dead lumber tycoon . . . on the shoreline of a lake nearly forgotten in the isolated woods of northern Wisconsin, Danny Lahti was not concerned about the potential for a technological apocalypse as time turned to the year 2000.
But he did feel on the brink. Something was about to happen. Things should change; they needed to change. He couldn’t really say why. Danny never felt he was the introspective type. But he had always felt connected to a larger universe, one in which he received premonitions of what was to come.
The end of the century. Or maybe the start of a new millennium. It depended on the pundit. But computers only knew what they were programmed to know, and they weren’t programmed to deal with changing from 1999 to 2000. Maybe early computer scientists never thought about a century starting anew. December 31, 1999 could prove an existential threat. They called it “Y2K.” Who knows, maybe every generation deserved its opportunity to restart the clock.
For Danny, his past was too painful, but the future felt too uncertain. In a way, his life could be the snowdrift-covered lawns that surrounded this house. On the surface, the drifts were unblemished and glistening in the weak moonlight. But beneath their surface, under the shapeless accumulated flakes, were the remains of years of living. If Danny had the time and the tools and the energy, he could shovel his way into discovering the dead flowerbeds, the abandoned lawn furniture, and the century’s worth of trails across the grounds. But who could be bothered? Eventually, the warm sun of spring would surely melt the snow. Just wait. The past would be exposed.
Danny had always been the kind of person willing to wait. When he was only twelve, his mother committed suicide and he found her dead body. He waited then, always expecting someone would eventually arrive to explain what had happened and why. When his father withdrew into a hermit-like life that barely acknowledged his adolescent son’s existence, Danny still waited. Someone would surely make his father forget his dead wife and remember his child. He was still waiting.
And when Josh came into his life, promising an escape from these cold woods into the warm, loving life of the Los Angeles sun, Danny followed and waited for Josh’s direction.
He waited. He always had. Perhaps he always would. It was his nature not to rebel and not to question, to try to be good and not rock the boat. A new year, a new century, a new millennium, not even “Y2K” could change that. Because Danny Lahti had never been able to find the energy to grab the reins of his own life. And he didn’t intend to start now. And yet something was changing. He felt it.
The ice cracked again. Nineteen minutes to midnight.
Dennis Frahmann is a former journalist and marketer,who now resides in Cambria, CA. He is the author of two other novels: Tales from the Loon Town Cafe and The Finnish Girl.