Excerpt from High Ground, copyright 2017 by Richard Authier Lee
A month ago, Margaret Haart’s husband left her for a college girl. A week ago, her beloved father died in a car crash near his summer home in Maine, where he had lived since his marriage fell apart. She has come to retrieve his dog and belongings, before deciding what to do with his house. The only person she has met in this strange little town is the brassy little school teacher who, curiously, was the only local who drove to Massachusetts for her father’s wake.
In the morning light, Margaret is drawn to a looming structure nearby: the Brandt mansion. She remembers her father telling her that Brandts and Haarts once owned and managed the mills that employed most of the town. She finds Esther, the last surviving Brandt, frightened and alone inside the cavernous, decrepit building.
Terrorized by local children who throw rocks at her windows, Esther believes she hears dead family members walking the halls at night. She lives without lights, phone, radio or television because she believes herself to be an EMF hypersensitive, one who suffers pain in the presence of electromagnetic fields. And, she tells Margaret, she is under nightly attack by searing radiation of an unknown source.
Horrified with Esther’s mental state and plight, Margaret turns for help to the townspeople, only to find they have been ground to dust by her long-dead father and his long-closed mill. They are not rushing to her aid.
Esther is crazed, but not crazy. Atop the hill behind the Brandt estate, a 21st century robber-baron has begun flights from a retired World War II airfield. Shrouded in secrecy, High Ground Technologies is attempting to perfect an airborne anti-satellite laser weapon.