A Gifted Father and Son Must Band Together to Save the World From a Deadly Attack

In the finale of Richard Bard’s Brainrush series, Jake Bronson and his family face their greatest threat yet.

brainrush series

Years ago, Jake Bronson’s life was forever changed when he slid into an MRI machine as a man with terminal cancer and came a man gifted with uncanny mental abilities. But everything comes with a price; and Jake has been wanted by terrorist organizations ever since. 

Now, with a family to think of, Jake and his eight-year-old son Alex, to whom he passed on his abilities, must face up against their biggest challenge yet. But it’s not just a deadly terrorist attack threatening to destroy America that holds the family’s attention in Against All Odds, the seventh and final book in the Brainrush series. Through a series of visions, father and son begin to see a global, otherworldly plot take form…something more deadly than they’ve ever encountered before.

Read on for an excerpt from Against All Odds, and then download the book. 




Against All Odds

By Richard Bard

Jake was scared as hell. Not so much for himself, because he’d been in more situations like this in the past several years than he wanted to count. A part of him believed danger would be his constant companion in life, like it or not, and that he’d had it coming to him after he cheated death eight years earlier. But Alex deserved far better, and concern for his son’s safety had Jake tuned up and ready for anything.

Not that his son couldn’t handle himself. Hell, Alex had proved it several times over in the past few days alone. Still, having the weight of responsibility for his son’s life literally riding on his back was enough to make any father throw out the rule book. So, if protecting Alex meant following a thirteen-year-old girl into the unexplored depths of the rainforest to avoid a bunch of blood-hungry mercenaries, then so be it. 

He caught up easily with Lucy. The sleep, the food, and the mini’s energy made him feel stronger than ever, and a minute later they broke into the clearing that enveloped the second dock. The pier looked solid, and the aluminum warehouses on both sides of it were well lit. There was nobody in sight, and he suspected Frank’s thugs had all rushed to the man’s aid at the bar. A covered water garage protruded partway into the river. Lucy scampered onto the pier and into the entrance. After Jake lowered Alex to the ground, they followed her inside to see a gleaming speedboat. It was a twenty footer with a closed bow, two rows of seats, and twin Yamaha 225 outboards. 

Lucy untied the lead rope, motioning as she did so toward a row of five-gallon gas cans along the wall. “We need two of them.”

There were ten cans in all. Jake grabbed the first two. “They’re empty.”

“It’s the two on the other end. I filled them earlier.” She tossed the rope into the boat and stepped inside.

Jake retrieved the full cans and lugged them beside the boat. Alex had untied the stern, and held the line taut while Jake shuffled the cans into the stern well. 

Lucy inserted the key. “It’s going to be loud so I’ve got to move us out fast. This may not be the most practical boat for where we’re going, and it gulps fuel like crazy, but it’s definitely the fastest of the lot. So nobody’s going to catch us anytime soon. Are you ready?”

“Wait. Fastest of the lot? There are others? Where are they?”

“In the warehouse on the other side of the pier.”

Jake grabbed one of the gas cans and stepped out of the boat. “I’ll be right back.”

“But we need that.”

“If anyone shows up, clear out of here and head downriver. I’ll catch up.” 

“But we need to go upriver!”

“Trust me,” he shouted over his shoulder. 

Jake ran out of the garage to the warehouse. Two roll-up doors fronted the river. They were closed, but the side door for foot traffic stood wide open. He stepped inside, skirted around a double-stacked pallet of eight fifty-gallon drums of gasoline, and surveyed the warehouse. Besides a well-stocked reloader station with three different presses and a variety of ammo, the space housed three power boats on wheeled trailers that could be winched in and out of the water, plus a variety of related gear and equipment. Jake guessed it had all been salvaged from previous guests of Frank’s who’d never made it out of the rainforest alive. He still regretted not killing the man, and hoped the failure wouldn’t haunt him later.

He grabbed rags from a workbench, unscrewed the gas caps on the boats, and stuffed the rags partway inside. He uncapped the fuel can and began dousing the rags and the boats. He was leaning into the stern of the third boat when a man’s voice stopped him cold.

“Drop the jerry and raise your hands.” 

The man was behind him, likely with the gunsight trained on the back of Jake’s head. Jake let the can slip from his fingers. It toppled to the cement floor, and the remaining contents gurgled out in a stream that followed the sloping floor toward the roll-up doors. He raised his hands.

“Nice move, you bleedin’ wanker,” the man said, referring to the dumped gasoline. He spoke with a cockney accent thicker than Frank’s. “I oughta end you where you stand, but that wouldn’t please Frank none, would it now? But mind your manners, mate. Because I’m holdin’ an AA-12, and one squeeze of the trigger will blast you to kingdom come whether Frank likes it or not, and then he and I will have to mourn the lost opportunity to slice your head off over a pint or two. Now that would be a damn shame indeed.”

The AA-12 was one of the few weapons Jake hadn’t come across back in the day when he was flash reading anything he could get his hands on. He only knew it was a fully automatic twelve-gauge shotgun that could fire ammunition ranging from buckshot to high-explosive rounds. Whatever it was loaded with now, a pull of the trigger would obliterate him.

“Very slowly now. Turn around.”

He was about to move when another vision invaded his mind. It was more abrupt than the previous ones, and he was once again transported to the cavern. He sensed Alex’s presence beside him, and for an instant he saw his son in the boat with Lucy. But that image vanished as quickly as it appeared, and suddenly he and his son stood alone in the cavern facing the entity who’d called them. The man’s image—if he was a man—was clearer now. He wore a long, green robe. His hair was white, and his sallow cheeks were spotted and wrinkled. He was old and looked worn out, but there remained a faint sparkle in his blue eyes. “It won’t stay closed much longer.” His voice was frail and desperate—and foreboding. The man took wheezing breaths as he continued. “You are close, but you must hurry. I have lowered the shield. Use the lake. Tell the girl to bring you to the mist. She will know.” The man’s image was replaced by an overhead view of a wide waterfall spilling hundreds of feet to a massive valley shrouded in fog. “Everything is at stake,” the man said, his voice trailing off. 

And then the vision was gone.

against all odds brainrush series

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“Last chance, mate. Turn around or face your maker.”

Jake moved slowly, his mind reeling. There was no time to waste, and getting there before the clock stopped ticking meant a change in plans. 

A big change.

He stared at the surly man holding the shotgun. With weathered skin, yellow teeth, and a bald head wrapped in a spiderweb tattoo, the man looked like a mangy pirate from a Pirates of the Caribbean flick. A gold ring dangled from an earlobe. That he was a killer like his pal Frank, there was no doubt. 

Jake raised an eyebrow. “You’re an ugly bastard, aren’t you?” 

The man stepped closer and raised the shotgun. His finger was inside the trigger guard. “And you’re a dead man walking.”

Jake kept his hands up but relaxed his posture, willing the man to move closer. The man took another step and stopped. Still not close enough. 

“Ah, I see,” the man said. “You’re getting ready to make a move, right? Trust me, you’ll never make it, mate.” His finger seemed to tighten around the trigger. “And speaking of ugly, what the hell happened to your face? ’Course, as bad as it is, it’s going to look even worse when it’s no longer attached to your neck.” He chuckled.

Even with full use of the mini, Jake couldn’t outrun a shotgun blast. If he tried to send a surge of energy into the man’s skull, it would likely make the pirate squeeze the trigger.

“Hey, mister,” Alex’s voice sounded from behind the pallet of drums. The pirate spun, while keeping the shotgun trained on Jake.

Jake sensed his opening—just as an arrow whistled across the space to embed itself in the pirate’s neck. The man’s mouth went wide, his body stiffened, and he went down like a statue. He still gripped the shotgun, but his paralyzed system couldn’t signal his finger to squeeze the trigger. 

Jake was on him in a beat. He peeled the man’s fingers back and took the gun. The man’s eyes darted back and forth, but he had only a few breaths left, so Jake ignored him.

Alex and Lucy stepped into the open. Alex said, “Lucy doesn’t use a blowgun so she dips her arrows in the frog potion.”

“Nice shot, Lucy.”

She nodded.

Alex took her hand. “Are you okay?” 

She frowned, as if wondering why she wouldn’t be. “Death is part of life. It was time for him to move on.”

Alex turned to Jake. “I saw you in the vision. Came to help. I guess you know we need a new plan.”

Jake smiled. Putting two and two together was never a problem for his son. “Already on it. Here’s what we’re going to do.”

Want to keep reading? Download Against All Odds now. 

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Featured image: Mohamed Nohassi / Unsplash; Other image: Ravi Pinisetti / Unsplash