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Publication date: June 5th 2023
Genres: Adult, Psychological Thriller
I didn’t kill my professor. But someone did…
It’s the dead of night when I regain consciousness in my psychology professor’s office. I don’t know what I’m doing here or why my favorite teacher is slumped over, dead at his computer with his head caved in.
When I stumble over to him on shaking legs, I bury my face in my sleeve to mute the smell of death. But as I lean in to see what he was working on when he was killed, the psych profile on his screen is what makes me wretch. The assessment is about one of his students–someone he describes as mentally ill, losing control, and capable of extreme violence. I scroll to the top of the document, and when I get there my stomach freezes because the name I see is my own.
I stagger away from my professor’s cold body, eyes filled with tears. He was my teacher and trying to help me. There’s no way I was the one who murdered him. But if it wasn’t me, who was it? And more importantly, why did the killer let me live?
The Control is a psychological thriller–a dark story of nightmares, deception, and love that will keep you guessing until its unforgettable, twisted ending.
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With two fingers, I lift Mooken’s icy hand from the keyboard, treating it like a disgusting bug I have to touch. I’ve watched enough television shows and read enough mysteries to know better than to disturb a dead body. But I need the letters on his screen to stop.
They remind me too much of how Mooken used to make his awkward hmmm sounds in the middle of his lectures when pondering a point his students weren’t getting.
Being this close to a dead person, my body revolts at the heavy cocktail of copper, feces, and urine in the room—a combination I’ve never encountered before.
Well, once before. But that was so long ago I sometimes wonder if it wasn’t another one of my nightmares.
But my stomach tells me the scene in front of me is real. My guts convulse and threaten to spew everything from inside of me, and I swallow hard, choking back my sickness…barely.
I bury my nose in my sleeve, breathing through my mouth. Other than the shallow in-and-out of my air, the room is quiet.
Inside my head, however, things are very loud.
Along with the loud buzzing, my father is telling me to run.
Leave now and save yourself, boy. Before they blame you for all of this.
I ignore him and stare down at Mooken.
After five minutes, his screen starts to fade to black, but I move the mouse, and the screen returns to full brightness.
I lean over my professor’s body like I’m showing a dead man something he might find interesting. I hold the mouse lightly in my hand and scroll up. There are so many pages of mmmms that the document appears to stand still as I scroll. I climb through a hundred pages of that single, lonely letter before I make it to the substance of the file and slow down to skim its contents. I scan blocks of Mooken’s text, reading snippets from the bottom up.
chronic sleep deprivation…
disruptions in personal affairs…
My head throbs as I continue further up the document.
auditory and visual hallucinations…
irrational anger and suspicion toward therapist…
potential for extreme violence…
formal evaluation recommended…
I speed to the very top of the document to see who Mooken was evaluating, and my stomach freezes when I read my name.
But this can’t be. I didn’t kill the professor. I know this for certain.
Professor Mooken was my teacher and trying to help me. That must be why I came here tonight—to get his help.
Not to kill him.
The delete key stares at me, cooing, tempting me to erase my name—to fix this.
But I can’t do that—not yet, at least.
I disable Mooken’s screen saver, stagger to the other side of his desk, and sink back into the leather chair.
When I check the clock on the wall, fifteen minutes have passed.
My phone vibrates in my pocket, and on reflex, I check it. As happens so often lately, it’s a missed call from my father, who suffers from dementia and calls and texts daily.
I love and miss my dad, but I can’t deal with him and his altered, severe personality right now.
My present situation is too dire, although there are still a few hours before other professors and students begin entering the building to start their days.
I squeeze my eyes shut to help me remember the events that led me here, but when I do, I hear my father giving me advice again, yelling at me, ordering me.
“Not yet,” I say through clenched teeth. “I need to remember what happened first.”
When Mike writes twisted psychological thrillers, urban fantasy, or stories with a darker bent, he publishes it under the pen name “M.W. Layne” to differentiate it from his other books written as Michael W. Layne. Both Michael and M.W. apologize for any confusion this may cause readers, but this makes it easier to decide which set of books you can let your kids read. Michael W. Layne, yes! Great for any age. M.W. Layne, maybe not until they’re in their teens…
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