The Secret of Excalibur
His superpowers made him invincible.
Or so he thought.
Ever since his head injury, Arthur has become fearless – arrogant even.
The CIA? FBI?
He laughed in their faces and teleported half-way around the world. To England, of all places. The Institute of Psychic Research, to be exact. One of the doctors there sets his heart throbbing.
Ruth Burns is a feisty red head who wants nothing to do with the obnoxious American. However, her boss, and his colleague, Commander Dobie, have other ideas. They devise a plan to use her to control Arthur and his abilities.
Tired of Dobie’s bureaucratic nonsense, Arthur teleports to the countryside with Ruth by his side. They end up at Lake George. A place where Ruth previously had a horrifying encounter with The Lady of Lake and the legendary sword, Excalibur.
When Arthur gets mentally scanned by something Metal, Alive, Not Moving, he is compelled to hunt for the infamous pair. Suddenly, their trip turns into a military expedition and they realize there are more secrets hidden beneath the dark waters than anyone imagined. And to top it off, unknown forces are causing Arthur’s powers to go wonky. He’s losing control. Fear has become the order of the day.
Will Arthur be able to recover his abilities in time to prevent WWIII? His next move may determine the fate of the world.
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The Institute for Psychic Research, London, England – 1987
“Why do you get so adamant about this, Dr. Tober?” asks a tall, thin woman. She’s wearing a white lab coat and a conservative, gray, pinstriped skirt with matching expensive pumps. Arms loosely crossed, lips pursed, she’s peering down at a man who has large, soft brown eyes, made bigger by the coke-bottle lenses of his glasses.
“As I’ve told you before, Dr. Burns,” the older doctor explains, scowling up at the woman, “having several psychic abilities is theoretical. We’ve never found clinical evidence a person can have more than one paranormal ability, and the few people we’ve found with only one ability are sad specimens indeed.”
“Commander Dobie seems perfectly satisfied with the results from Williams and Halvorson,” the lady says with a trace of annoyance in her soft, cultured voice. She’s toying with a man’s gold wedding band threaded on a gold necklace around her neck, “and after all, he’s in charge of the Institute, sir.”
“Yes, quite, Doctor, as he’s so fond of reminding me.” He adjusts his glasses, then picks up some reports and heads towards a door. “Should anyone need me, I’ll be in my office.”
With a shake of her head, Ruth strides to her workstation and sits, crossing her long, thoroughbred legs. Picking up a gold-plated pen with well-manicured, soft pink fingernails, she starts doodling on a yellow legal pad.
Another voice quietly reprimands her from the far corner of the room. “Ruth, you shouldn’t keep reminding Dr. Tober about Commander Dobie. You know how upset he becomes over bureaucrats and their paperwork.” This man is short and round, also wearing a white lab coat that makes him resemble a giant cotton ball. He has curly blond hair and sparkling, periwinkle eyes. Waddling to her workstation, he continues, “I can understand your problem here. The pressure of trying to find the perfect specimen when we very well know if such people truly were alive, we’d never know of their existence.”
“Yes, Gordy,” she agrees with a soft, dejected sigh. “Any person we did find would have so much psychic power, he couldn’t possibly be controlled. Not by us, anyway.”
For the past half hour, I’ve been hanging around, invisible, eavesdropping on the doctors. I call this trick my ‘Almost Mode.’ Learning this ability took weeks of practice and resulted in some embarrassing moments. It’s surprising what happens when a person materializes among a group of people. I’ve caused every reaction from ear screeching screams to drop-dead faints and, a few times, even mild coronaries. Let’s not forget the people who wet themselves at the least provocation.
“Do you ever feel as though we’re wasting our time here?” She’s still doodling on the yellow legal pad, looking as if she’d lost her best friend.
“If I did, I would’ve resigned from the Institute years ago,” Dr. Gordy replies, leaning one round buttock against her table top. “Think of the specimens we have found so far. Not just Williams and Halverson, but the others who showed one type of the phenomenon or another.”
“I know, but each year it’s harder to obtain funding, and after twelve years, all I have to show for our research is several hundred miles of computer tapes.” With a slight, elegant shrug, she adds, “Oh, and a few tons of paperwork in boxes no one cares about. Our lack of results is rather depressing sometimes.”
Her lab partner toddles to a cabinet and pulls out a folder. “I remember, a few years ago, a young woman who was very excited about this man.” He plops the manila binder on the table in front of her.
“But I was only twenty-two,” she explains, ignoring the closed folder, “and Uri was my first contact with the phenomenon.”
“Yes, but certainly not the last,” he replies, laying a comforting hand on her shoulder.
Ruth glances up at Dr. Gordy with a thoughtful frown. “Do you think it’s possible for a person to have more than one psychic ability?”
Picking up the ignored file with stubby fingers, he slides it back into the drawer. “Do you remember Mrs. Holmquist?”
Twirling the wedding band on her necklace and rolling her eyes, his unhappy coworker nods.
“Then for a brief span, you ought to remember how many psychic tendencies she exhibited.”
With a sigh of exasperation, Ruth rises from her chair, and glides gracefully to a hot-plate with a tea kettle. She pours steaming water into a monogrammed mug, then adds a tea bag and sugar. Talking over her shoulder, she disputes, “Yes, Gordy, but she was a fluke, and you know it.”
“Call her what you will, Ruth, but for three weeks, we had our hands full with that woman,” Dr. Gordy reminds her, following her to the hot-plate.
“I remember. The paperwork is still around here, somewhere.” She takes her steaming mug and returns to her workstation, a faint scent of herbal tea trailing behind her. “But if it weren’t for the automobile accident, she never would’ve shown any of them,” Ruth points out.
“Aha, but we don’t know that for certain. Mrs. Holmquist may have done some of her tricks for years, and never even noticed.” He pours hot water into a bright-yellow mug.
“How can someone do everything Mrs. Holmquist did and never notice?” She gives a slight shrug as she swirls the tea bag in her cup.
Dr. Gordy pours a generous amount of sugar into his hot water and stirs, but adds no tea bag. “The same way you aren’t noticing what you’re doing with your spoon.” He nods toward her mug.
Moving over a few paces to see what the doctor’s doing, she glances directly at where I stand, a funny look on her face. She has the spoon balanced on the edge of her mug.
“Oh, this is nothing,” she dismisses with an elegant wave of her hand. “It’s only an idle habit of mine.”
“Precisely Ruth, just as Mrs. Holmquist was telekinetically opening and closing doors for years, never paying any attention to what she was doing. A habit that feels natural is taken for granted more often than not.”
“Yes, I understand what you’re saying,” Ruth argues, “but, that doesn’t explain how she could move things, start fires, even go to sleep in one place and awake in another. Sometimes, she found herself so far away, the journey would’ve been physically impossible to make in the time allowed.” She removes the tea bag, dropping it into the wastebasket next to her workstation.
“Yes, but all Mrs. Holmquist’s other psychic abilities occurred after her auto accident, when she received that concussion,” Dr. Gordy patiently reminds her, “and then, after three weeks, completely stopped.” He waddles back to his corner with his steaming mug of sugar-water.
“So, what are you saying, as if I didn’t already know?” Ruth asks, running her finger around the rim of her cup.
“I’m afraid I side with Dr. Tober on this subject. I think there are latent tendencies in us, maybe not every person, but many of us, and with the right stimulation, they manifest themselves.”
With pressed lips, Ruth toys with her spoon.
Dr. Gordy continues. “And I feel strongly, as Dr. Tober does, that somewhere there’s at least one person who has these and other traits of the phenomena. Some abilities we may not be aware of yet.”
Right on, doctor, I think. My psychic abilities are part of the reason I’m here. I can do so many things, and this is the place to show off my talents: The Institute for Psychic Research, London, England.
I concentrate on Dr. Tober’s office, and BLIP! I teleport to the location.
He’s reading some reports, papers strewn across his desk, unaware of my presence, though I’m no longer in my ‘Almost Mode.’ He finally glances up at me, his eyes growing bigger, and then, in an instant, he’s under control. I guess working at the Institute conditioned him to handle the unexpected.
Dr. Tober clears his throat. “Ahem, uh, who are you, and why are you in my office?” He peers past me, probably trying to see whether one of the doctors had ushered me into his office.
“Excuse me for dropping in, Doctor, but I’m the man who called you the other day.”
“The American, uh, Mr. Merlin?” he politely inquires. “That’s right, Doctor. Arthur Merlin, late of the US of A,” I announce with a flourish and a bow.
He stares at me, not at all impressed, then waves to a nearby chair. “Please, sir, be seated.”
I sit in a chair designed to get a person up and out of the room as quickly as possible. Apparently, lollygagging isn’t allowed in Dr. Tober’s office.
He shuffles up the scattered papers, places them in a file folder, and slides it to the right side of his desk. Leaning forward with clasped hands, he asks, “I have the standard tests to arrange, but what abilities do you have that you think I might be interested in?”
“Okay, Doctor, it’s been called the Geller Effect, but what he plays with, I do quite well,” I boast. “And there are other tricks I do that he can’t even pretend to do.”
Leaning back in his chair, Dr. Tober removes his glasses and rubs his big, round eyes. “Uh, exactly what do you do, Arthur?” Stifling a yawn, he replaces his glasses.
I sit flummoxed. Why isn’t he impressed? I’m exactly the person the doctors were discussing in the lab, but he doesn’t seem at all interested. True, there can’t be that many people, if any, who have all my abilities. I suppose, in his position, Dr. Tober would have to be leery. Who knows what kind of nutcases wander in off the street? I’ll have to prove my uniqueness.
“Telekinesis, teleportation, pyrokinesis, astral projection, levitation in any form,” I elaborate, ticking them off on my fingers, “and, a kind of matter transference I doubt you’ve had any experience with.”
“Uh, yes, Arthur, well, perhaps you’d consent to a small, uh, demonstration for me?” With an impatient frown, he starts fiddling with a pen on his desk.
“Certainly, Doctor.” Eager to flaunt my talents, I shift in that unwelcoming chair, glancing around his office. Filing cabinets, a few pictures, and several framed diplomas. Not much else. Ah, the wastebasket, full of crumpled-up papers. I focus my pyrokinetic ability on the wastebasket, and the discarded bits of paper burst into orange flames.
Springing from his chair, Dr. Tober yells, “My God, man.”
“Relax, Doctor,” I assure him, “I can control it.” I mentally shut down the fire, and it fizzles out with a small WHUMP.
Simple, if you remove all the oxygen from that spot. There’d been some exciting trial-and-error episodes while mastering the trick. Once, I almost suffocated a roomful of government scientists. I always get a chuckle over that one.
The good doctor is plastered against his filing cabinet, eyes as round as the frame of his glasses, mouth hanging open. He doesn’t look nearly as disinterested or skeptical now. Thick, gray smoke drifts through his office, causing him to lean over coughing.
“I’ll open a window, Dr. Tober,” I offer, nodding toward the window.
From his rumpled, brown suit jacket’s breast pocket, he removes a white handkerchief, and covers his nose and mouth. Big eyes blinking, he mumbles, “Uh, the windows don’t open past the second floor, and we’re on the fifth floor.”
I mentally focus on the window set into the wall behind his desk; thick, wire-reinforced glass. The window begins to dissolve, allowing a stream of fresh air to flow inside.
Jerking his head towards the window, Dr. Tober demands, “What did you just do?”
“Relax. I dissolved the window into a screen. Don’t worry, I’ll change it back.” With a self-satisfied smirk, I lean back, resting my left ankle on my right knee, trying to get comfortable in that torture-device-of-a-chair.
Still staring bug-eyed at the window-turned-to-screen, he picks up his phone, keeping his distance from me. “Doctor Burns, grab Gordy and get in here.”
Judging by his reaction to my demonstration, he might not be as immune to the unexpected as I thought. Returning the handkerchief to his pocket, he gives me the look most people do when I’ve used abilities they don’t have. Like I’m a cockroach crawling across his hand.
The door bursts open and the tall woman from the lab rushes in, followed by the short, round man, now puffing with exertion. She shoots me the same funny look she did earlier.
With his underlings at hand, Dr. Tober returns to his chair, introducing us around. He gives a brief description of my demonstration. Dr. Gordy peers quizzically into the trashcan at the smoldering embers, while Ruth strolls to the window and gently touches the screen. She turns, staring at me with creased brows, fingering her necklace.
Telepathically, I say to her, *No, Ruth, no hoax.*
She takes a step backward, rubbing her forehead. “Was that telepathy?” she asks in amazement.
“Yes,” I answer, gazing back into her enchanting jade-green orbs.
With eyes narrowed at Ruth, Tober says, “But I heard nothing. Gordy?”
“No, sir, not a word,” Dr. Gordy confirms, also staring at Ruth.
“Well, I did,” she states, hands on hips.
“Of course, Ruth,” I tell her with a smirk. “I was only speaking to you.”
She starts toying with her necklace again, glancing from Dr. Tober to Dr. Gordy; looking like a deer ready to bolt.
“And I read your mind, Doctor,” I say with a smug smile, “and now, I know everything about you, down to your smallest, little secret.” Telepathically, I add, *Don’t worry, Ruth, I won’t discuss your sex life.* I give her a lewd wink.
Her hand flies to her mouth, a bright blush spreading across her pale cheeks.
“Dr. Burns, are you all right?” Dr. Tober asks with concern.
“Yes, Dr. Tober, I’m fine,” Ruth hisses through clenched teeth, trembling with indignation.
Tober’s analytical expression and Dr. Gordy’s puzzled one, bounce back and forth from me to Ruth.
By her mannerisms and speech, I can tell she’s from an affluent background. She’s fighting to maintain her composure. Aloud, I say, “Relax, Doctor, calm down.”
Dr. Tober clears his throat as he adjusts his glasses. “Mr. Merlin has come to the Institute so we can conduct some tests.”
Periwinkle eyes sparkling with teenage boy exuberance, Dr. Gordy says, “I’d like to see the pyrotechnic demonstration again, sir. I’ll gather more paper.”
“No need, Doctor. I can burn the ashes for you.” The trashcan bursts into a ball of yellow flames. Creating intense heat takes so little of my concentration.
The doctors stare transfixed at the smokeless fire, as I lean back with a satisfied smile.
“Hypnosis?” Dr. Gordy asks with wrinkled brows. He holds his hand toward the fire. “I can feel the heat,” he exclaims. Suddenly, the flames intensify, the fire growing to twice its size. Too close, Dr. Gordy’s jacket catches fire, flames rising quickly. “Ahhh!,” he screams, staring in shock at his flaming arm.
My foot thumping to the floor, I jerk upright, mentally shutting down the fire with a WHOMP! Dr. Gordy’s skin is severely burned, the pain beginning to register. Telekinetically, I focus on his pain receptors, blocking them, while telling Dr. Tober, “Better get him to the hospital; he sustained a second-degree burn.”
Dr. Tober is already on the phone, and seconds later, two men in lab coats rush through the door and to Dr. Gordy.
“He’ll be pain-free for several hours,” I tell the two men, “which should give you time to get him treated.” Trying not to cause more harm to his injured arm, they slowly guide the frightened man out of the office.
Stunned, I rub my forehead, trying to figure out what happened. I didn’t mean to hurt Dr. Gordon. Maybe I was showing off, but the fire shouldn’t have leaped up like that. Now that I’ve mastered my abilities, I have no trouble controlling them. Why did I lose control now?
In the doorway appear two men in uniforms, wearing guns. They’re guards, or more likely, soldiers. They march to Dr. Tober’s desk and stand at attention.
The Doctor rises to his feet and stares down at me. “I’m sorry, Arthur, but I’m afraid we’ll have to detain you.”
With military precision and steely eyes, the guards draw their weapons, pointing them at me. One guard holds a pair of handcuffs.
“We are primarily funded by our government, and I’m sure they’ll want to question you, at length. You’re just the man we’ve been searching for.” Dr. Tober gives a brief nod toward the two guards.
I stare into the dark barrels of the guards’ weapons, a wolfish grin on my face. Slowly rising from the non-lollygagging chair, I focus on the guards. Their ‘at attention’ stances melt to loose-limbed positions. With idiotic smiles, the two guards amble over, handing me their weapons and the cuffs.
I holster their guns back on their belts, and order them, “Go take a break, men. Nice of you to stop by.”
“Yes, sir,” the soldiers respond in unison. They salute and do an about-face, marching out the door. Dr. Tober yells at them to return, to no avail.
With that deer-in-the-headlights look again, Ruth asks in a quivering voice, “Was that a form of hypnosis?”
A bit peeved, I give her a curt nod and an icy glare. Realization dawns on Dr. Tober and Ruth. It would’ve been just as easy to have the guards turn their weapons on themselves or the doctors. Dr. Tober pales and plops bonelessly in his plush office chair.
Gathering his wits, Dr. Tober stammers, “You must realize, Arthur, I meant you no harm. You’re a very valuable speci-, er, I mean, an asset to us in our research.”
With indignity, I glower down at him. “Doctor, I came to your Institute for several reasons. First, I thought your team would treat me differently, and take my abilities seriously. You can’t detain me, or hold me one second longer than I want.” Shaking my head at his stupidity, I continue, “Don’t you realize how I arrived in your office? After listening to your conversation in the lab, I teleported here.”
“But, there were only Dr. Burns and Dr. Gordon when I left,” Dr. Tober blusters, fumbling for his handkerchief.
“There were three people, Doctor,” I taunt, wagging my finger at him. “You just couldn’t see me.”
Nervously shifting from foot to foot, twisting a woman’s wedding band on her right hand, Ruth sends me that peculiar look again.
Peering down my nose with an angry scowl, I say, “Yes, Dr. Burns, you must’ve felt my presence.”
With handkerchief in hand, Dr. Tober removes his glasses, wiping his enlarged eyes.
I continue my lecture, “If I work for, or with, any Institution or government, it’s because I want to. No one can force me to do a damn thing.” This is the type of treatment I’d expected, but it is still disappointing they want to use me as a lab rat. So much for believing in the humanity of man.
Dr. Tober studies me for several seconds, calculating, then asks, “Uh, Arthur, could you please excuse us for a few minutes? I must discuss this with Dr. Burns, in private. Uh, we have a cafeteria on the second floor. Perhaps you could have a spot of tea while you wait?”
I study them for a few seconds before sighing heavily. I must give them a second chance. “Where at on the second floor?”
“Uh, the whole east side of the building.”
Trying to impress on the doctors their inability to detain me, I give them one last piercing glare, then teleport to the second floor. I reappear in the stairwell outside the cafeteria.
As I enter the cafeteria, I see my two guards sharing a table. They give me the same idiotic smiles and wave. I acknowledge them with a nod before I order a cup of awful looking coffee and sit alone, waiting.
The legend of King Arthur has been given a modern twist as the folk-tale is transmuted into an urban fantasy setting, giving the story a whole new edge
Self-Publishing Review (SPR)
“The Secret of Excalibur is a fantasy novel by Sahara Foley. Arthur Merlin is a typical, normal human being. But after a freak accident happens to him, things change quite abnormally. He develops certain abilities: telekinesis, telepathy, pyrokinesis and even teleportation; and that’s not even all that he can do. It’s not often that one develops multiple abilities – most of the time, only one manifests. The US government wants him for their own gains, but with teleportation he is hard to keep under control. So he teleports to an institution he thinks he can work with better – to the Institute of Psychic Research in London. He shows his abilities to doctors at the Institute and they are stunned, eager to include him in their research. Eventually a kind of force from Lake George calls out to him. With Dr. Burns and Commander Dobie from the Institute, he learns some disturbing truths about the lake, and it may be up to him to save the world from it.
If you come to think of it, Sahara Foley, author of The Secret of Excalibur, is a literary magician. It’s a wonderful page turner right from the beginning: when a cocky yet endearing Arthur Merlin exhibits his superpowers, it makes us want to read more. She writes a very compelling narrative, tickling the fancy of adult readers – it almost feels like she brings back the magical air of childhood stories in The Secret of Excalibur. It’s an adventure readers will not want to miss out on. The characters in this book are well defined and the main protagonist is easy to empathize with, that is, many of us would like to be transformed from an average human being into one with special abilities who can save the world. Extremely consistent with a clear theme, this book is certainly an enjoyable read!“