The Blue Ridge Project
Genre: Dark Suspense/Paranormal
Date of Publication: May 6 2016
Number of pages: 260
Word Count: 65,500
Cover Artist: ebooklaunch.com
Conspiracy. Murder. Secret experiments. Mind control. A detective, a journalist and a rich deviant struggle with their pasts as their actions set them on a collision course with each other and The Project.
Detective Andrea Nox has been asked to quietly investigate a bizarre and violent murder-suicide that could have consequences for Beacon City and the people in charge. Dead ends and odd clues are hindering her efforts, and when another similar murder occurs, she has to juggle the investigation and her own troubled past with the Beacon City Police Department.
Journalist Robert Duncan is visiting home after a personal crisis when the unthinkable happens, and secrets are unearthed about his family and his place in it. His involvement in a dangerous and far-reaching conspiracy grows as he uncovers information that implicates powerful people in horrible crimes.
Frank Mortimer, disturbed son of a wealthy and influential family, is taking part in an experimental program that has promised to make him better. However, with the shadowy and powerful group known only as The Project behind the program, what he is getting better at could prove disastrous for everyone else, as a dangerous power is unlocked inside him…
Their paths will converge in a shocking story of murder, conspiracy and clandestine experiments taking place that could change the world.
The Dirty Dozen Interview
If I came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare?
That depends on the day that you come over. If I managed to make it down to the store and get that week’s worth of stuff, you’d get one of my famous curries with heaps of vegetables and I’d stand over you to make sure you ate them all. If it’s one of the other days, something with eggs. Maybe a sandwich. Some water with dust in it. We’ll see when you get here.
If you were a box of cereal, what kind would you be, and why?
That’s a tough one. I’d probably go with some kind of knock-off, store brand bran flakes with the sugary dried fruits. I’m not a color-in-between-the-lines type so the well-known brands wouldn’t reflect me. The bran would be the part of me that’s into healthy eating and exercise as well as trying to practice good mental health, and the sugary fruit is the part that completely negates all that just for that nice taste in your mouth.
What would I find in your refrigerator right now?
As of today, about 3 kilos of chicken, a 6-month old bottle of white wine and some Spanish hot sauce. I think there might be a few onions buried somewhere in the bottom drawer too.
What song best describes you and why?
Keep On Running by The Spencer Davis Group. I spent a lot of my late teens and early twenties running around from group to group, place to place, country to country, looking for all the wrong things and lucking out on finding a few of the right ones. Then, one fine day, I understood.
If you could have any two celebrities as your parents, who would they be and why?
Morgan Freeman, because the man exudes class and sense, two great characteristics for a role model. Also, could you imagine how cool the bedtime stories would have sounded? For the other, I’d have Judi Dench, for similar reasons. On top of that she looks like she could be strict and fun in equal measure.
What is your favorite movie, and why?
It’s a tossup between Highlander and Fight Club. Highlander, because it’s a fantastic hero story with one of the best ever soundtracks for a movie (Queen!). Fight Club, because it’s a very stylish and cool study of going nuts in a modern setting that rewards the viewer on subsequent rewatches.
What is your least favourite movie, and why?
I’m a fan of crappy movies, so this is a difficult question. Maybe Nightmare On Elm Street, because it was so hyped up for me before I saw it for the first time. Freddy Kreuger was supposed to be the ultimate badass and the movie itself was supposed to be scary, but it was laughably, disappointingly bad.
Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?
In my opinion, gatherers are just hunters who hunt stationary prey. I guess I’d be a hunter, because I like to lay back in the tall grass and wait for the best time to strike, and I’m not great at identifying plants and shrubs, which would probably lead to me going back to the tall grass for a completely different reason.
Do you believe in Bigfoot? The Loch Ness Monster? What about aliens?
Not really, no, and I’m not sure. I write for a conspiracy-centric website (the fantastic podcast ThoseConspiracyGuys.com) so I like to investigate and learn about this kind of stuff. Aliens seem to me to be the most feasible. There’s only so much forest in North America for Bigfoot to hide, and a finite amount of water in Loch Ness for Nessie to swim in, but the universe is infinite in scope, so there is no way we can definitively say one way or the other whether intelligent extraterrestrial life exists. Are other civilizations crossing galaxies to visit us and probe hillbilly butts? That’s maybe easier to dismiss…
What would be a fitting epitaph for your tombstone (assuming you don’t want to be cremated)?
Push Button To Talk.
Picking one universe, Star Trek or Star Wars (and knowing that the interviewer leans heavily in the direction of the Star Trek universe), which character do you most relate to and why?
Even though DS9 is not the greatest of the lot, I think the character that I would relate to is Odo, the shapeshifter. He is a man of many faces and talents, but none of them are his true nature. In fact, he is limited by his very lack of solid substance and stability, and needs time to anchor himself. I feel like that sometimes. With a varied work history and a decent but incomplete grasp of a few different languages, I never really felt that I mastered any one thing. Hopefully writing will be the thing I can continue and bring to a level I can be completely confident in.
What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you?
I have a thousand funny stories, most of them lost to blackout drunken nights or age, but the one that comes to mind happened fairly recently. I teach English to young Spanish kids part-time, and one day I had a group of three, a boy and twin girls. The boy is a funny little guy, very hyper and chatty.
Now, this bit is important: Molestar in Spanish means to bother or annoy, and one of the girls had been teasing the boy a little. He shouts out in the middle of the class “Hey, stop molesting me!” Holding back nervous laughter, I try to explain that he’s using the wrong word, trying to avoid some potential scandal, when he shouts at me even louder “Now you’re molesting me!” I’m just thankful we weren’t out in public, or I might be typing this on a prison computer.
Tell us your favorite joke.
A man goes to the doctor. The doctor tells him he has six months to live and gives him the bill for the consultation. The man said “I don’t have enough money to pay that right now,” so the doctor gave him another six months.
Can you fit your whole fist in your mouth?
No. Other people have tried too, but they do it too fast and always end up getting me in the jaw instead.
The car that had followed Frank’s van out of the city rolled down the same route Frank had taken, belching exhaust occasionally. It was a gray sedan, with a bumper sticker that said ‘If You’re Reading This, You’re Too Close!’ As with Frank’s van, the driver had chosen a car that wouldn’t draw attention or stick in a memory. It was as if the owner had used the word “nondescript” when the salesperson asked what type of car he wanted.
Said owner was Graham Turner, a self-made journalist according to him, a bottom-feeding paparazzo according to almost everybody else. His purview was the lifestyles of the rich, the famous, and the mentionables, especially their bad habits and indiscretions. The most money was to be made in the latter and Turner had made his meager living through catching people of note with their pants down, figuratively or otherwise.
His mission today was to catch a Mortimer doing something he wasn’t supposed to be doing. A picture of the son, Frank, doing something untoward could pay out massively. Turner didn’t care if it was through sale of the picture or blackmail, just as long as he got his payday.
He was sure the squeaky-clean bachelor was up to no good, driving out here in the middle of nowhere in a busted-up van when his family was rich enough to have a foundation in their name. Turner parked a good distance from the van, reached around to the back seat to grab his camera with the long-distance lens, and stepped out onto the tarmac.
He began to feel ill immediately. He broke out in a sweat and his stomach churned like a washing machine at the start of a spin cycle. He stood leaning against the front of the car for a second, a headache thumping behind his eyeballs, and a loud ringing in his ears. He wiped his soaked forehead with the sleeve of his shirt and started to make his way through the grass, searching for a decent vantage point.
Around forty paces in, close to the warehouse, his headache intensified massively. The pain shot up and down his body, and he felt a pop inside his skull. His left leg went dead and useless beneath him, and he groaned as he fell to his knees. The camera fell and smashed apart on the ground. He heard another pop, like a tiny balloon being pricked with a needle inside his ears, then he fell forward onto the remains of his equipment.
The man with ‘SECURITY’ written across his cap came sauntering over the grass toward Turner’s body. He rolled it over with one boot-clad foot and saw the burst capillaries in Turner’s eyes: They were as red as the eyes of a B-movie vampire, and just as dead.
Hell of a tune they play, the man thought as he went through Turner’s pockets for the keys to the gray sedan. As he stood up, he double-checked his earplugs, as he often did after finding someone who had come too close, and strolled over to the car to put it out of sight. The body could wait. He couldn’t even see it from the car, the grass deep enough to hide it. He saw a small flock of birds flying overhead, wheeling to make a wide detour around the building nearby.
Birds are smarter than people. He chuckled, proud of his philosophical revelation, and got into the driver’s seat of the almost unnoticeable car.
About the Author
Neil Rochford is a freelance writer who loves fiction where bad things happen. After more than
five years traveling from continent to continent and a few short stories, he finally got to work on his first book, and hopes to continue writing as many as he can. Originally from Ireland, he speaks three languages and has lived in Estonia, Brazil, France and Spain. He is a staff writer for the popular Irish podcast and website Those Conspiracy Guys.