TITLE: LAB RAT
AUTHOR: NEPHY HART
GENRE / KEYWORDS: Contemporary Romance, Mystery Suspense, Paranormal, Psychic, Scientific Experiment, Angst, Intense, Suitable for Adult and New Adult
At thirteen, Gabriel was subjected to experimentation designed to awaken latent psychic abilities.
He’s been locked in a downward spiral of self-destruction ever since.
Then one night he meets Laurie, who is the antithesis of everything Gabriel’s become: cheerful, optimistic, and comfortable in his own skin.
Laurie pursues Gabriel. But Gabriel no longer believes in love. With a dark past and a history of disastrous relationships, he’s promised himself ‘no more’. Laurie, however, won’t let go, no matter how many obstacles Gabriel places in his way.
When Gabriel starts hearing voices in his head, he realizes they belong to the scientists who experimented on him. Worse, they’re trying to track him down.
With the past nipping at his heels, Gabriel and Laurie flee together.
Can they outrun the enemy? Can they save Gabriel before either his life or his sanity are forfeit?
And is Gabriel as helpless as he, or Laurie, thinks he is?
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LIFE SUCKS. I mean really sucks. I’m a good person, so why do bad things keep happening to me? While I’m not really the type to help old ladies across the road—I’d probably scare them into a heart attack—I don’t go out of my way to hurt people either. And yet….
My family has pretty much disowned me, and I don’t blame them. They can’t cope with me, never could. Hell, I can’t cope with myself. They tried for a while, in their own way. The thing is—it wasn’t my way. It wasn’t a good way. It wasn’t the right way.
When I was thirteen, something bad happened to me—really bad. They never got over it. Neither did I, but that didn’t matter. I got into drugs and alcohol in a big way. I became dark. Then, when I was fifteen it all got to be too much. I couldn’t hold it in anymore: the memories, the pressure, the… problems it left me with.
They say I had a breakdown. I don’t really know what that is, but I know I ended up in hospital. I don’t know how long I was there or what happened to me. I only know that I felt safe. For the first time since it happened, I felt safe. I didn’t want to come out. I wasn’t ready to come out, but they pronounced me “cured” because I could string sentences together and go for days without screaming or hiding under the bed.
My parents knew though. They knew I wasn’t “cured”, that I never would be. They tried for a while, but they couldn’t cope. Not with the screaming in the night. Or the staggering in at three in the morning, either high or pissed, to stop the screaming in the night. They couldn’t cope with the physical conditions, the mental problems, the attitude, the violence. They couldn’t cope with watching the child they loved change into a monster.
When I was sixteen, I moved out and really went off the rails. Surprisingly, I still managed to go to school now and again, and I got decent results in my exams. This led to the headmaster persuading me to go back for my A-levels, and even more surprisingly, given what I was doing to my body by that time, I got three A-levels in one year. And thus ended my academic career.
There was talk about going on to university but, to be honest, I couldn’t be bothered. I still had the nightmares and I was afraid to go out into the world. I felt vulnerable and exposed in unfamiliar places and situations. I guess I was—I am—a complete nut job.
At the moment, I’m living in a grotty room, in a grotty house, in a nondescript street, in a second rate town that is… nowhere. I have two housemates who are used to me and know when it is and isn’t safe to talk to me, and who ignore the screams.
Tonight, I’m going out. It’s Saturday night. I always go out on Saturday nights. I go to the same place, see the same people, and do the same things. You’d think I’d get bored, but it’s safe.
I give myself a last look in the mirror and am reasonably satisfied with what I see. I need a haircut and I’m way too pale, but at least the shadows around my eyes are camouflaged by the kohl, and where I’m going the vampire look is par for the course. The black lips in the mirror smile at me, but there isn’t any humour in them, or in the piercing blue eyes that stare coldly at me when I allow myself to catch their gaze.
Ah well. This is the best it’s going to get tonight. I haven’t had a good day. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I don’t really feel up to going out. I’m not myself at the moment, mentally or physically. But then, today hasn’t been a good day. If my head’s anything to go by, it’s not going to be a good night either, so what’s the point in being good? What’s the point in trying to look after myself? Fuck it.
NEPHY HART was born into a poor mining family in the South Wales Valleys. Until she was 16, the toilet was at the bottom of the garden and the bath hung on the wall. Her refrigerator was a stone slab in the pantry and there was a black lead fireplace in the kitchen. They look lovely in a museum but aren’t so much fun to clean.
Nephy has always been a storyteller. As a child, she’d make up stories for her nieces, nephews and cousin and they’d explore the imaginary worlds she created, in play.
Later in life, Nephy became the storyteller for a re-enactment group who travelled widely, giving a taste of life in the Iron Age. As well as having an opportunity to run around hitting people with a sword, she had an opportunity to tell stories of all kinds, sometimes of her own making, to all kinds of people. The criticism was sometimes harsh, especially from the children, but the reward enormous.
It was here she began to appreciate the power of stories and the primal need to hear them. In ancient times, the wandering bard was the only source of news, and the storyteller the heart of the village, keeping the lore and the magic alive. Although much of the magic has been lost, the stories still provide a link to the part of us that still wants to believe that it’s still there, somewhere.
In present times, Nephy lives in a terraced house in the valleys with her son and her two cats. Her daughter has deserted her for the big city, but they’re still close. The part of her that needs to earn money is a lawyer, but the deepest, and most important part of her is a storyteller and artist, and always will be.
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