Joe Stanton is in agony: out of his mind over the death of his young daughter.
Unable to contain his grief, Joe loses control in public, screaming his daughter’s name and causing a huge scene at a hotel on San Juan Island in Washington State. Thing is, Joe Stanton doesn’t have a daughter. Never did. And when the authorities arrive they blame the 28-year-old’s outburst on drugs.
What they don’t yet know is that others up and down the Pacific coast — from the Bering Sea to the Puget Sound — are suffering identical, always fatal mental breakdowns.
With the help of his girlfriend, Joe struggles to unravel the meaning of the hallucination destroying his mind. The couple begins to perceive its significance — and Joe’s role in a looming global calamity.
Exclusive excerpt from Exodus 2022 by Kenneth G. Bennett
From Chapter 21
He opened his eyes again and his attackers were gone. Simply gone.
I blacked out, Joe thought.
He lay there: coughing, bleeding, eyes burning—nearly swollen shut—limbs strewn about the coil of yellow rope.
How long have I been here? he wondered.
And then all of his thoughts turned to Ella.
She must be frantic.
He got to his knees — clawing against the uneven pile of rope — and brushed his eyes with his sleeves. He had to get to water, to a restroom. The burning in his eyes was the worst. Far worse than the other wounds to his face. He lurched to a standing position and the car deck morphed and undulated before him, seesawing, tilting sharply, so that it seemed to Joe as if all those silent, driverless cars might just start rolling backward and plunge into the icy sound.
Panting, Joe steadied himself against a Ford Explorer and tried again to brush his eyes. No good. His right eye was swollen completely shut now, and his left felt like it had been coated with sticky cobwebs.
He swayed, contemplating his next step. The car deck was a graveyard. No activity except his own tentative movements. No sound except the relentless low-frequency roar of the motors.
Got to find Ella.
He took a wobbly old-man step. One step.
That’s when the hallucination came back.
Help me, said a voice, clear and bright in Joe’s mind.
Not now, he replied, clutching his head. He stumbled forward, swerved. We’ll talk later. My eyes are on fire.
The voice rang out again, clear and more present—like a radio signal that’s finally been isolated and perfectly tuned. Stan-ton. Please. Can you help?
“Who are you?” Joe cried, choking on the words and weaving like a drunk across the rear of the deck. For a moment he even forgot the acid burn in his eyes. “Are you real?”
Flesh and blood, replied the voice. Muscle and bone. Like you.
The rush of the MV Elwha’s wake suddenly became a roar in Joe’s ears. “Wrong way!” he screamed, pawing stupidly at his eyes and shivering with terror. “I’m going the wrong way!”
The deck had become a gray-green blur that blended with the water, which in turn blended with the sky. He couldn’t tell what was moving and what was still, what was solid and what was infirm.
By chance or misfortune, he stepped over the lowest section of the burly safety chain, the last line of defense between the cars and the water.
Lorna Gwin has passed, said the voice, but countless others may be saved.
I need to save myself right now, Joe replied.
I need your help! cried the voice. It was a voice laden with anguish—the same horrible, all-consuming grief Joe had felt in the Breakwater parking lot.
I need your help!
The pain hit Joe like a fist and he swooned, teetered, and fell, clawing at the air as he plunged headlong into the Elwha’s wake, a raging, roaring geyser of white foam.