The Train: Episode 83

Through the manhole cover, Michael and the others climbed down a long ladder until they reached the bottom. As his eyes adjusted to the dim light, Michael saw that they were in a musty sewer of putrid waste. Searching through his bag, he pulled out a heavy flashlight and swept the beam along the walls and floor. On the surface of the foot deep water, he spotted traces of blood.

“This way,” he directed.

Bugs crawled along the slimy brick walls as an occasional rat scurried off into the darkness.

“Why would Saint Suriel bring Father Salvatore down here?” Serena asked.

“No idea,” Nicole answered, the barrel of her pistol aimed just over Michael’s shoulder.

A few yards down, the sewer opened up into an empty room with a flight of iron stairs.

Michael slowly swept the flashlight’s beam across the water’s surface, and when he found no signs of blood, he pointed to the stairs.

“He must have gone this way. It’s the only way up.”

A faint light poured down the steps.

Keeping a wary eye out, Michael slowly ascended the stairs, pausing to listen for voices. At the top of the steps was a heavy wooden door. Slowly he turned the knob and pushed the door open with his shotgun.

When he stepped through the door into a long filthy hallway, its tile floor cracked and stained, he was certain he heard a faint cry. At the end of the hall, a pale green light cast a glow onto the floor beneath a closed door, and up and down the hallway, the weak light of open rooms cast shadows on the walls.

“Where are we?” Michael asked Serena.

“I do not know,” Serena said.

Stay close,” Nicole advised, her gun raised.

Leading with his shotgun, Michael crept down the hall toward the first room.

When he reached the doorway, he took a step back and froze.

“Why did you stop?” Nicole asked.

When Michael failed to answer, Nicole took her eyes off the hallway and looked inside the room.

Hanging from the ceiling were twelve cloth bags, each six feet long. The cloth had been tightly wound to form a sort of cocoon.

“What are those things?” Serena asked.

Michael cautiously stepped closer and slowly reached out to touch one of the bags.

When the tips of his fingers brushed against the damp cloth, something inside the bag began to move and make a soft noise.

“What is that sound?” Michael asked, struggling to identify it.

“Sounds like moaning to me,” Nicole said. “Somebody’s inside that thing.”

With her free hand, Nicole removed her knife from its sheath and took a step toward the bag.

When Michael heard a low rustling sound, he looked around the room and saw that each of the bags had begun to move.

Suddenly Michael spotted a man standing at the other side of the room. He wore a gas mask and was dressed in a long white lab coat splattered with mud and dark patches of blood.

As he turned around and looked at Michael through the mask, his black rubber boots squeaked. Then with a black rubber gloved hand, he reached out and stopped one of the bags from moving.

His eyes focused on the tall man, Michael put his arm out to keep Nicole from cutting into the bag.

“What?” she asked.

When Michael pointed to the man standing motionless as he watched them, Nicole slipped her knife back in its sheath and aimed her pistol.

Michael’s instincts told him to shoot, but the unarmed man didn’t seem aggressive as he kept staring at them.

“He’s not in here. Please. Let’s keep moving,” Serena pleaded, pulling on Michael’s sleeve.

Michael hesitated but then said,

“We’ll be back for them.”

He stepped out of the room and slowly continued down the hallway, uneasy at turning his back on the man in the gas mask and dirty coat.

Nicole took a quick glance backward but the man didn’t seem to be following them. A few feet farther down the hall, she glanced back again and saw that now the man was standing still in the hall watching them.

“That room must be for those guests who need extra help relaxing,” Michael joked, trying to calm his nerves.

“I do not know what purpose this place serves,” Serena insisted.

When Nicole looked back and saw that the man was standing even closer, she insisted,

“Michael, we need to find a way out of here!”

Turning away for just a moment, she looked back and saw that he was closer still.

As they approached another room, Michael could feel cold air wafting from inside. A pale white light poured out from the room as he turned slowly into the doorway, afraid of what he might see.

For a moment, Michael felt as though his heart would stop. The room was filled with gurneys, each gurney holding a sheet-draped body. Crates marked with different numbers had been stacked at the back of the room, and blood dripped from some of the crates. Fluorescent lights flickered overhead as a man entered the room wearing black rubber gloves and boots, welding goggles and a breath mask. Carrying a saw caked in blood, he stopped and wiped it across his blood soaked apron then looked at Michael in silence.

“Michael, we need to get out of here now! Every time I take my eyes off that man back there, he moves closer,” Nicole informed.

“Not much better in here,” Michael said, staring at the man with the saw.

“Either we get out of here or I start shooting,” Nicole warned.

“Please don’t,” Serena begged. “If Saint Suriel knows we are here, he might kill Father Salvatore.”

Michael saw another door less than 15 feet away. Glancing back into the room with the bodies, he saw that the goggled man had exchanged his saw for a large hammer and was coming closer.

“Okay. Run for that door up ahead,” Michael motioned. “I’ll keep an eye on these two.”

Nicole took Serena’s sleeve and hurried her toward the door while Michael shifted his gaze from one man to the other. Each man came closer every time Michael looked at the other.

“Come on!” Nicole snapped.

Michael turned and bolted for the door. When he reached the door, he spun around to watch the hallway. Reaching behind him, he pulled the door open and slipped through, leaving the two men standing in the hall watching.

As he quickly pulled the door closed, he looked for a bolt to lock it. There was none.

Turning around to Nicole and Serena, he saw that they were in a hallway twice as long as the one they had just left. The hall was dark except for the faint light that streamed from each of the open rooms. Michael quickly flipped on his flashlight and was searching the hallway when suddenly he heard the door behind him begin to open.

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Dragon Fire: Episode 96

As the carriage of Prince Lanidus neared the kingdom of Ethion, two of Riscio’s men lay in wait. Drilli, the more adventurous of the two, rested his arms on his knees as he leaned against the stone wall of the narrow passageway and looked up, watching the wind sweep the clouds. Riscio’s orders had been clear. Drilli and his comrade Brakor were to stay hidden in one of the many alleys branching off the main road of Ethion and watch for a sign of the carriage bringing Prince Lanidus to King Isembart and his daughter the princess Lillian.

“My head aches from a night of too much ale, and I grow weary of waiting in this dank place of fish bones and rotten fruit!” Drilli complained as Brakor kept his eyes on the road.

“Last night you merrily embraced dank, rotten things,” Brakor pointed out.

“What do you mean?” Drilli asked.

“The wench in the tavern,” Brakor laughed.

“Why she was as beautiful as the morning sun,” Drilli insisted.

“She was not a she,” Brakor teased.

“What?” Drilli roared.

“Be still! Remember why we are here,” Brakor fussed. “I only spoke in jest.”
“No,” he continued. “Your morning sun was a woman, although at one point you praised the beauty of the tavern owner’s mongrel.”

Deciding not to respond, Drilli closed his eyes and remembered the previous night. It had been a night of drinking and laughter.

“Ah. We filled our bellies with good ale, did we not? It was a fine celebration,” Drilli smiled.

“It was ill advised,” Brakor scolded.

“Ill advised? Our brothers will soon be free,” Drilli said.

“Perhaps,” Brakor answered with uncertainty.

“Do you doubt Riscio’s plan?” Drilli asked.

“The plan seems sound enough, but we must not strike too soon,” Brakor explained. “Why kidnap Prince Lanidus before he is king? Once he has taken the throne, we will have so much more to bargain with.”

“Riscio said that our brothers must be freed at once. Then we will have our revenge on the son of the man who imprisoned them,” Drilli said.

“I too wish for our brothers’ freedom, but we shall have a greater advantage if we wait until Lanidus sits on the throne,” Brakor insisted.

“You do not trust Riscio. For that he will surely hang you,” Drilli warned.

“Disclose this and I shall tell everyone that you kissed the tavern owner’s dog last night,” said Brakor.

Surprised by the threat, Drilli’s eyes grew wide as he protested,

“They will know it is but folly!”

“Perhaps some, but those who have seen you swill your ale will believe my account,” Brakor maintained.

“Last night I—,” Drilli began.

“Peace! A carriage approaches,” Brakor interrupted.

The clop of horses and rumble of wooden wheels grew louder as Drilli struggled to his feet. When Brakor cautiously peered into the street, he saw a carriage with the distinct markings of King Stephanus’ court. The driver pulled to a stop and Derali, captain of the royal guard, climbed out followed by Prince Lanidus.

“Why this pretense whenever we meet someone new?” Derali asked.

“Because no one will be at ease if they recognize me,” Prince Lanidus explained, removing an old dusty cloak from the carriage.

“But they will suffer no discomfort with me?” Derali asked.

“Not if they see you as a simple messenger. They will merely look down upon you and treat you as a servant. With this cloak, I may discover with whom I shall be shackled until I breathe my last,” Lanidus said.

“Word of your deception will one day spread across this land and you shall have to lay it aside,” Derali pointed out.

“No, my friend. My fate has been written. I shall marry the king’s swinish daughter and run the kingdom for my father while she produces a beastly heir. And for the rest of my days, I shall proclaim my love for her until sweet death releases me,” Lanidus sighed.

“Let me tell her you said this, and I will go along with your ridiculous plan,” Derali laughed.

“Please do. I shall be spared the untruth of loving her,” Lanidus said.

As Lanidus slipped on the large worn cloak and covered himself, he added,

“And remember that I am your servant, and you are but a messenger sent ahead to announce that the arrival of Prince Lanidus has been detained.”

“Yes, yes,” Derali said. “I remember what to say from the last time you did this.”

As the two men climbed back into the carriage, Brakor told Drilli,

“We must go at once to tell that the prince has arrived and has disguised himself.”

Quickly the two men slipped away to bring Riscio the news.

 

 

*          *          *

 

That same day as King Isembart sat on his throne, he raised his hand to his face and lowered his head in weariness. The High Priest Zephryses had just brought news of the prisoner Alaster’s escape.

“Why does this happen on the very day I am to receive the man who will wed my daughter?” Isembart sighed, looking toward the princess Lillian. At his glance, she quickly turned her head away, refusing to meet his gaze.

“Forgive me, my liege, but it would appear that the burned priest has followers. My men were beset upon, mortally wounding many in the escape. But I pledge to send my best men after him. I will not rest until he is ended,” the high priest assured the king.

“Grant that this is not an omen of things to come,” the king groaned. Then pointing to the priest Zephryses, he commanded,

“You will remain here in the castle while your men search the countryside. They are not to return until Alaster, this burned priest, and his followers are captured! While you are here, you will protect me as well as my daughter, and you will take measures to insure that her marriage suffers neither interruption nor ruin.”

“As you wish, my liege,” High Priest Zephryses answered.

“It is enough that he has infected my daughter’s mind. Now I must suffer the threat of his return to avenge his punishment. I fear for the lives of this court and my people.”

At that moment, a herald appeared in the doorway.

Bowing low, he said,

“Sire, a messenger has arrived from Acimeth.”

“Very well,” Isembart said as he forced a smile on his face.

Once the king bade him enter the throne room, the messenger stepped forward, followed by a second man who wore the robes of a servant. When they bowed subserviently and waited, the king commanded,

“You may approach.”

As the men came nearer, the messenger said,

“I am Derali of Acimeth. I bring word from Prince Lanidus.”

“Yes, yes. What is your news?” King Isembart asked.

“Prince Lanidus has been detained and will not arrive until tomorrow,” Derali said.

“He is well, I hope,” the king responded.

“Yes, your majesty. Affairs of state delay his arrival,” Derali explained.

Looking at the high priest Zephryses, King Isembart said,

“It appears that you have been given one more day to set things in order.”

“Also, your majesty, I have a message for Princess Lillian,” Derali said.

When Princess Lillian rose and drew near to Derali, he realized that the paintings of her had not done her justice. Stepping slightly to one side, he made certain that Lanidus could see her. Suddenly, Prince Lanidus loudly snorted and began coughing. Derali, understanding the prince’s reaction, smiled at the princess and said,

“Prince Lanidus offers his most sincere apologies for his late arrival. He wishes me to tell you that although word of your beauty has reached the Kingdom of Acimeth, he is certain that it far surpasses the hand of even the most skilled of poets and artists.”

Princess Lillian politely offered a quick smile, bowed then returned to her father’s side. Derali noticed that her countenance was woeful as she turned her face away from King Isembart.

The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 28

In a panel van parked a good distance away, Graham Prescott watched four monitors, each with a clear view of the courtyard outside Crescent Bay University’s Anderson Hill Dormitory. Each monitor was being fed video from a different drone circling the courtyard.

“Sir,” one of Prescott’s men said.

“What?” Prescott snapped imperiously.

“Why is such an elaborate plan necessary? Why not just walk up to him and kill him?” the man asked.

Prescott slowly turned to the man and glared, quickly looking at his nametag.

“Marc, is it? Look, Marc, I would love nothing more than to walk right up to Nathan Nichols and nuke him till he looked like an overcooked burrito, but unfortunately I can’t. Our employer insists on secrecy, so we have to keep our distance and do things the hard way,” Prescott explained.

After a pause to consider, Marc asked,

“But why, sir?”

With a low growl, Prescott ran the fingers of his left hand over his cane that rested on the seat.

“Do you know what people have started calling Nathan Nichols?” he asked.

Seeing the growing anger in Prescott’s eyes, Marc decided to drop the subject.

“Never mind, sir,” Marc answered.

“No!” Prescott barked. “You started this, now let’s see where it goes. Answer the question!”

Marc hesitated for a moment then mumbled, “The prophet?”

“And do you know why?” Prescott asked.

Marc started to step back but Prescott snarled,

“Why?”

“Rumor has he knows things. That he can tell you anything about a person,” Marc replied.

“Just by being around them. Correct?” Prescott added.

Growing increasingly nervous, Marc merely shook his head.

“Which means?” Prescott continued.

Marc gulped, sweat beginning to form on his brow.

“He would know who hired you if you got too close?” Marc softly answered.

“That’s right!” Prescott said with mock glee.

Then with a sudden blast of blue energy from the cane, Prescott reduced Marc to a pile of ashes. Turning his attention back to the monitors, he grumbled,

“Idiot.”

“Nichols and the girl are exiting the building,” a voice said over the speaker.

“Good,” Prescott responded into a walkie. “Let them get to the parking lot. Too many obstructions in the courtyard.”

Prescott turned to the pile of ashes that was once Marc and sarcastically explained,

“Now by obstruction, I mean trees and fountains and people. Stuff they can hide behind.”

Just then the wind picked up, blowing the ashes away.

Prescott adjusted one of the drones to get a better view of Nathan and Elizabeth as they crossed the courtyard. Nathan led the way with Elizabeth a few steps behind.

“Wait till they get to the parking lot. Sniper 1, you ready?” Prescott asked.

“Check,” sniper 1 replied.

“Sniper 2 ready?” Prescott asked.

“Sniper 2, check,” the other sniper replied.

“Truck ready?” Prescott asked.

“Yeah, boss,” came a response.

“Bruiser ready?” Prescott asked.

“I have a name,” a voice returned.

Prescott rolled his eyes and corrected,

“Coil ready?”

“Ready,” the same voice replied.

As Prescott kept his eyes on the monitors, suddenly sniper 1 said,

“They’ve stopped.”

“You got a clear shot?” Prescott asked.

“It’s a go,” sniper 1 answered.

“Then take the shot,” Prescott ordered.

“Goodnight,” sniper 1 said.

Just as the rifle fired, Nathan moved to the side, sending the bullet into the concrete. He instantly pulled out his revolver and returned fire in the direction the bullet had traveled.

“Sniper 1, report,” Prescott ordered.

“Sniper 1 down, sir,” sniper 2 said.

“Sniper 2, fire,” Prescott barked.

“Yes, sir.”

As the rifle fired again, Nathan spun on his heel, once again dodging the bullet then returning fire.

“How is he dodging the bullets?” Prescott yelled.

“He’s not dodging the bullets, sir. He’s moving out of the way just as the bullet is fired,” a voice explained.

“Who said that?” Prescott snapped.

There was a pause before the man came back with,

“Addams, sir.”

“That wasn’t me, sir. It was Marley,” a second man said.

Prescott dropped the walkie and rested his head in his hands.

“Why do I surround myself with idiots,” he moaned.

Then looking through his fingers at Nathan, Prescott grabbed the walkie and ordered,

“Send in the truck.”

 

*          *          *

 

“What was that?” Elizabeth asked, scanning the area with both of her pistols out.

“An ambush,” Nathan replied. “Remember what I told you just before we stepped outside the dorm back there?”

“What?” Elizabeth asked.

Before Nathan could refresh her memory, Elizabeth spotted a large out-of-control truck barreling down on them. Quickly stepping in front of Nathan, Elizabeth firmly planted her feet and bent her knees.

When the truck jumped the curb, its front end lifted just enough for Elizabeth to catch it by the grill.

“Throw it!” Nathan shouted.

With all her strength, Elizabeth tossed the truck high into the air. It flipped over end-to-end then exploded, destroying two remote drones nearby.

Stepping back to Nathan’s side, she asked,

“Are you okay, Nathan?”

“I’m fine but hold on. This isn’t over yet,” Nathan warned. “Look at that.”

The ground began to rumble as a giant of a man ran toward them, roaring like a beast.

“I’ll get him,” Elizabeth said, popping her knuckles and neck. “I’ve been looking for a good brawl all day.”

Estimating that the running man was around 7 feet tall, Elizabeth calmly walked toward him.

Stopping to bend her knees, she settled her weight on her back foot and watched as the man raised his giant fists over his head. When he was close enough, Elizabeth struck him in the chest with her open palm.

The sound of the impact was so loud it echoed off the concrete. Doubling over with pain, the man clutched at his chest and gasped for air. Elizabeth grabbed him, lifting him as easily as she would a basketball, and threw him across the parking lot into a line of trees.

“Where are the rest of them?” Elizabeth asked, her blood pumping.

“Retreating,” Nathan said.

“Seriously? After one punch?” Elizabeth complained. “I think I may have to crack a few ribs before I can go home.”

“They aren’t retreating because of you,” Nathan said.

“What?” Elizabeth asked in confusion.

Nathan pointed toward the sky, and when Elizabeth looked up, she saw 4 21 hovering overhead. He floated down, landing next to them, and said,

“Ms. Hayes. Prophet.”

Nathan nodded his greeting and 4 21 said,

“When Jericho convinced me and the other heroes in Crescent Bay to give you opportunity to come into your own, I assumed he meant that you would be handling matters such as solving murders or preventing future disasters in your own way, dealing with problems I did not have time for. Every hero in Crescent Bay has a special skill, a strength to bring these problems to a solution, but I am afraid I must interfere when your solutions involve shooting into crowds or throwing lethal exploding devices into the air, especially this close to a college campus.”

“Those were not problem solvers,” Nathan corrected. “We were simply defending ourselves.”

“Explain,” 4 21 said.

Once Nathan had recounted Prescott’s attempted ambush, 4 21 said,

“I understand that you are new to this. You must be careful. A soldier does not fire on innocents nor does he act without regard to the safety of others.”

“Sorry,” Nathan said.

“It seems you had no choice,” 4 21 admitted. “Just be careful.”

Without another word, 4 21 lifted into the air and flew off.

“I don’t like being scolded,” Elizabeth said. “Not one little bit!”

Deciding to ignore her comment, Nathan proposed,

“Let’s go find Detective Shields and tell her about Jessica.”

Unsettled: Episode 10

Muttering to himself, Billy paced the floor, his shoes clicking on polished wood. Ray sat at Kristina’s laptop searching for a name to go with the face he had seen in the picture at Councilman Parker’s office.

“Do you need the little boys’ room or something?” Rory complained to Billy. “Stop that infernal pacing!”

“Just standing around here while some madman tears Coldwater apart is insane and cowardly!” Lucas snapped.

Billy straightened up and looked off in a different direction as Jack spoke.

“We cannot just go running off blindly. We need to know exactly who we are after. Wisdom dictates ‘Knowledge proceeds victory; ignorance—”

In mid-sentence, Billy’s head snapped to the right. With his right index finger pointing to no one, Lucas finished,

“Proceeds defeat. I know, I know. Don’t quote that tired old line to me again.”

“We must be patient,” Victoria pointed out as Billy’s demeanor softened.

“You know, I think he missed his calling,” Rory said. “With this routine of his, he should be an entertainer. He’d be the top act in the ward.”

When Mavis, tired and nervous, stormed at Rory, Kristina stepped in between them.

“Ray’s trying to find out who the fourth guy is in the picture, okay? Cool it,” she insisted. Then turning to Ray, she asked,

“You said the other three were Councilman Parker, the police commissioner and the mayor, right?”

“Uh huh,” Ray mumbled, keeping his eyes on the computer screen.

“Well then why don’t we go and warn the ones we know?” Kristina asked.

“May not be a smart move. If the mayor and the commish are loyal to Parker, all we’d be doing is letting them in on what we know,” Eddie pointed out.

“On the other hand, if Heath is killing everyone connected to Parker and they’re not in on it, they may be willing to turn on Parker to save themselves.”

“It would be tricky getting either of them to turn, but since the mayor has a public image to protect, we might have a better chance with him,” Dylan suggested.

“Then let’s go talk to the mayor,” Kristina suggested.

“Count me out. I need to stay here and find out who the fourth guy is,” Ray replied. “You two go.”

“All right,” Kristina said as she turned to Mavis. When she saw that Mavis had fallen asleep on one of the couches, she stopped.

“She needs her rest. I’ll stay here with her,” Rory said. “You know that when she wakes up, she’s going to be upset you left her behind.”

“I can deal with it.” After grabbing her jacket, Kristina looked at Billy and said,. “Come on,. . .all of you.”

Kristina led Billy through the house to the garage and opened the door. After she grabbed a set of keys off the wall, she passed her bike and headed deeper into the garage.

“We’re not taking your bike?” Billy asked.

“Nah. It’s not really two person friendly. Besides, we need something a little less conspicuous,” Kristina said.

She walked past several cars before stopping at a 1950 blue panel van, its paint scared and peeling. On the side written in white just above a pale yellow stripe were the faded letters,

‘he Amazin Oswal Zamora.’

“What’s it say?” Billy asked.

“The Amazing Oswald Zamora,” Kristina explained.

“This was my stepfather’s van that he used in all his performances. I never had a reason to drive it, but I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of it,” Kristina said.

“Why didn’t you fix it up?” Victoria asked.

“It looked like this when he married my mother. She loved its charm, so I left it just the way it was,” Kristina said brushing away a tear.

Turning to Billy, she asked,

“Does one of you know how to drive?”

“We have the knowledge and a basic understanding of how the process works,” Jack replied.

“Groovy,” Kristina returned.

The musty scent of gin and sugar filled the air as Billy opened the door and climbed inside. Kristina slid into the passenger seat and buckled up. When Billy put the key in the ignition and turned it over, it wouldn’t start.

“Hold on,” Kristina said.

She climbed out and walked around to the hood. Sliding her hand across its surface, she stopped when she felt a small dent. Then she raised her hand and whacked the dent as hard as she could. After a moment, something under the hood thumped and she said,

“Try it now.”

Billy turned the key again and the engine roared to life like a confident beast that had been asleep for too long.

Kristina laughed as she climbed back into the van.

“Oswald taught me that. This old van is full of little tricks.”

As Kristina used the remote to open the garage door, Billy backed out the van and headed for the mayor’s office.

 

*          *          *

 

 

Councilman Parker watched in horror at the blackened sky over Coldwater’s burning buildings. The day had just started, and already it had been marred by tragedy.

Staring out over the city Charles Heath said, “You know, there’s nothing better than watching the sun rise next to a warm fire.”

“Are you insane?” Parker snapped. “You were supposed to protect me from corruption charges, not burn down the city and murder people.”

Heath turned and walked toward Parker.

“You say insane, I say free rein. May cause you pain, but I can’t abstain. May hurt your brain, but there’s something to gain.”

When the door behind Parker suddenly opened, Heath looked up as the smile disappeared from his face.

“You interrupted me,” he scolded.

“My apologies, sir,” a man said with an Australian accent.

“Never mind. I couldn’t think of anything else to rhyme with gain anyway.”

“Blood stain,” the Australian man suggested.

Heath considered this and said,

“That could work.”

“Why am I tied up?” Parker asked.

“Why I couldn’t leave you out. You’re part of the plan,” Heath said, patting the chair. “I need you right here until it’s your turn on stage,”

“This was not part of the plan. None of this,” Parker protested.

“I know, but I tossed out your plan when I met him,” Heath said.

“Who?” Parker asked.

“That enigma wrapped in a puzzle, deep fried and smothered in a riddle,” Heath said jubilantly.

“Who are you talking about?” Parker pressed.

“The man who stopped my assassin,” Heath answered. “Come to think of it, I’ve never been stopped before. Is this what admiration feels like? Or is it just indigestion.”

“What was wrong with my plan? It was perfect,” Parker argued.

“Oh it was hardly perfect. When I met him, I saw a real challenge. A good game needs a clean slate, a fresh board on which to set the pieces.”

“So you started murdering people and burning down buildings? My buildings?” Parker barked.

“Just for starters,” Heath snickered. Then looking at someone behind Parker, he said,

“You two go and get the rest of our guests. It’s almost time for the show to start. Oh this is so exciting, isn’t it?”

“Right, boss,” the Australian said then added, “Come on, Gord.”

After they closed the door behind them, Heath looked down at Parker and said,

“Oh I really wish I hadn’t said the show is about to start. That expression is such a cliché.”

“You know you’re demented, don’t you?” Parker remarked.

“That term is acceptable,” Heath replied then smiled as he turned away to stare out over the city.

*          *          *

 

“What happened?” Detective Marquez yelled.

“Looks like five separate buildings were rigged to explode,” Officer Lawton answered. “Emergency services are still putting out the fires. We got dead and injured, no count yet on the number.”

Marquez slowly ran her fingers through her hair. After being up all night in the rain and mist, she longed for a hot shower and a few hours of sleep.

“Call in backup, and secure the scene,” she ordered.

Officer Lawton nodded and hurried away.

“What is going on?” Marquez asked herself.

“No idea. I’m still new here,” an officer answered as he walked up behind her.

Standing the allowable minimum height at 5 feet 7 inches, Detective Miles Stavros had recently transferred in from Beech Bay Homicide on the west coast. Rumor was he made up for his short stature with both charm and a volcanic temper.

“What brings you out tonight, Detective,” Marquez asked.

“I transferred to Coldwater Homicide a week ago, and already this city is trying to eat itself,” Stavros said.

“Beech Bay may be where college kids go for spring break, but Coldwater is where the rich play footsie with the homicidal,” Marquez responded.

“That’s exactly why I transferred here,” Stavros said. “Got tired of chasing drug addicts and oiled up gym jockeys. I wanted something more, a challenge.”

“Well you picked a great time to join us. Apparently a new breed of madman has burrowed under the city’s skin,” Marquez said.

“Maybe what we need is our own madman to root him out,” Stavros suggested.

Before Marquez could respond, her phone went off. Lifting it out of her coat pocket, she answered,

“Detective Marquez.”

After a few minutes, she ended the call.

“Got to go. That was the mayor. He needs to speak with me now.”

“Go. I’ll keep things running here,” Stavros said.

“Thanks,” Marquez answered as she turned and headed for her car.

“What could be so important he would call me to his office now, in the middle of this chaos?” Marquez asked herself as she got in her car and started the engine.

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The Train: Episode 82

With Michael and Nicole at her heels, Serena slipped through the crowd that had gathered to watch the blazing cabin. Stopping at Scott Morgan’s office, she tried the door and found it locked.

“Sister Serena,” a spa employee called as he walked up the hall. Nicole noticed that his name badge said George.

“What are you doing?”

“I was looking for Saint Suriel. I need advice in this dark time. Do you know where he might be?” Serena asked.

“I have not seen him since he and Father Salvatore left to meditate,” George answered.

“Where did they go?” Serena asked. “It is important that I speak with him. Some of the guests are missing, and one of the cabins is on fire.”

“You know I cannot give you that information, Sister Serena,” George answered.

“It’s an emergency,” Nicole explained, giving him a stern look.

Surprised by Nicole’s remark, George’s eyes jumped from Nicole to Serena.

“Sister Serena, you have brought outsiders to see Saint Suriel and Father Salvatore without their blessing? This is against our rules. You must be brought up on charges at once!”

Out of patience, Michael dropped his bag and pulled out his shotgun. Stepping up to George, Michael jammed the gun in his face and growled,

“I’m really sick of this, you know? Now, you’re going to tell me where they are or I’m going to shoot you in the face. Capisce?”

Startled and frightened, George could only stammer. But when Michael pressed the barrel against his cheek, George squeaked,

“I don’t know. Honest! No one knows where they went. Everyone is afraid, and we have no one to guide us.”

Rolling his eyes in disgust, Michael snarled,

“Fine. Then tell us what you know about Abraham.”

Suddenly, George grew faint and reached out to the wall for support.

“I cannot say anything. Father Salvatore made us swear never to speak of him or mention his name.”

Michael withdrew the barrel from George’s cheek and said,

“Look. I’m not in the best of moods right now, so my negotiating skills are a little off. But because I’m a nice guy, I’m going to try my best to make you see things my way.”

As he stared into George’s eyes, he said,

“I have enough ammo in this bag to shoot off each and every appendage of your body. One. . .at. . .a time. See here’s my plan. I’m going to see how many I can shoot off before you pass out. Want to guess where I’m going to start?”

Trembling with fear George said,

“Father Salvatore has a file on him in his office. That’s all I know. Please!”

After a moment, Michael said,

“Good boy. Now show me.”

 

*          *          *

 

When they reached Father Salvatore’s office, George withdrew a ring of keys and fumbled to get the key in the lock. He kept looking back at Michael’s shotgun.

“Please don’t kill me,” George pleaded when he finally opened the door and let them in.

“Stay there and I might not,” Michael said.

George waited in the doorway while Michael and Nicole searched the office.

“Sister Serena, this is highly unorthodox. Why are you helping these people?”

“Because I believe Father Salvatore is in trouble,” Serena explained.

“That is not possible. He and Saint Suriel are blessed,” George said. “Divine.”

Michael was about to make a wisecrack when Nicole stopped him.

“Found something.”

She pulled an old manila envelope out of the file drawer and broke the seal, spilling the contents onto the top of the desk.

Michael and Nicole worked their way through the photographs and newspaper articles until he said,

“Looks like at one time this land belonged to Summerhill Medical Center. About four years ago, a patient woke from his coma and attacked the staff, killing fifteen people before he set the building on fire. The fire didn’t consume the place, but it was closed down and condemned because of the structural damage. The groundskeeper Abraham Carver stayed behind to guard the place. Eventually the woods grew up around the gutted building, blocking it out of sight and mind.”

Michael put the paper down and said,

“So Abraham is the groundskeeper of a hospital where fifteen people were brutally murdered. And for four years he’s been wandering around the grounds guarding a hospital that’s said to be haunted.”

Michael rolled his eyes and sighed,

“Great. Never had to deal with a haunting before.”

“You know there’s a rational explanation for this, Michael,” Nicole said.

“See why we must find Father Salvatore?” Serena said. “Saint Suriel has taken control of Abraham, and now he uses him to kill anyone who crosses his path.”

George looked shocked.

“Sister Serena, how can you say such a thing about Saint Suriel? Has he not been loyal and faithful to you and all his children?”

“Where is he?” Michael snapped, once again raising the shotgun.

“No! Shoot me if you must, but I will not betray—”

George was cut off when a long blade exploded from his stomach. Standing behind him in the doorway was Abraham, a black cloth covering his face. Quickly, Nicole grabbed Serena and pulled her back as Michael stepped forward with the shotgun.

George gasped for breath as Abraham lifted him into the air and walked backwards towards a door.

Michael looked for a clear shot, but Abraham kept his large frame hidden behind George’s dying body. When he reached the door, he opened it and stepped backwards through it. Closing the door on his knife, Abraham left George on the other side. As he pulled the blade free and slammed the door shut, George’s bleeding body dropped to the floor.

“I’m going after him!” Michael said.

“Why?” Serena asked.

“Because he can lead us to our friends, if not Salvatore,” Nicole answered.

Michael stepped over George’s body and slowly opened the door to a long flight of stairs. Following the trail of blood from the knife, they slowly descended the stairs into what looked like the basement. There were no signs of Abraham, but when Nicole spotted an open manhole cover, she pointed it out to Michael.

“Great,” Michael grumbled. “This is just getting better and better.”

Afraid to go into the opening, Serena hesitated as tears came to her eyes, but when Nicole assured her she would be right behind her, she finally followed Michael into the sewer.

Published in: on March 19, 2018 at 2:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Dragon Fire: Episode 95

As High Priest Zephryses quickly descended the stairs, two of his guards stepped forward and slipped a chain around the stunned Allaster.

“I do not understand. The potion was to have worked only once,” Zephryses cursed, pacing across the courtyard as the wind lifted his robes.

“What shall we do, sir?” one of Zephryses’s trusted priests asked.

“As yet, I have no answer. I could spend the rest of my life killing him, but he will keep rising from the earth,” Zephryses complained.

“King Isembart expects a report on the prisoner,” the loyal priest said.

“Precisely. I was to find a way to kill him and send a report to the king. Now, that is not possible. I cannot leave him alive in the dungeon for fear someone might free him or listen to his account of what happened. He must die once and for all!” the High Priest fumed.

As Zephryses continued to pace, a giant of a man bearing dual swords at his sides and another strapped to his back strode through the doorframe.

“How have you ever tasted victory?” the man asked.

The towering man was known as Riscio, the leader of the mercenary group Zephryses had engaged to compliment his small army of loyal soldiers. An outlaw in his own land, he moved freely in the kingdom of Ethion, safe from all but the bounty hunters.

“What is this you say?” Zephryses asked enraged.

“You have been given the perfect opportunity to win the king’s favor yet you waste time whining like a woman. Lock the prisoner away in a deep dark hole—,” Riscio began.

“I cannot do this for the king will want proof of death,” Zephryses interrupted.

“Then you must tell the king that the prisoner has escaped and assure him that you will faithfully search to the ends of the earth until he is found,” Riscio answered with a dramatic wave of his arm.

“But of course I cannot make this adventurous journey but must remain in Ethion to protect the kingdom,” Zephryses responded, considering the plan. “Perfect.”

“Of course,” Riscio said with great self-satisfaction.

High Priest Zephryses leaned toward Allaster and peered into his eyes.

“These men will take you to a place where no one will find you,” Zephryses explained, smiling as his eyes grew wide with delight, “and there I want you to stay. Never forget that I will always be within reach of the princess. If I hear of your escape or attempted escape, she will be dead long before you can save her. Do you understand?”

Weakened by his helplessness, Allastar bent his head and slowly nodded.

As Zephryses turned, he gave instructions to Riscio.

“Far out in the sea is an island where no one goes. Legend has that it is haunted. Take him to the prison there and lock him away. Once you have secured his chains, you and your men are free to go. If I have need of you, I will send word.”

“What of my people? I have men locked in the dungeons of Acimeth, imprisoned by King Stephanus,” Riscio said.

“After the marriage ceremony of King Isembart’s daughter, I will see to it that your men are released. Until then, stay out of my way,” Zephryses said turning.

“You are in error. We will take this prisoner to the island after my men have been released. They will not be freed at your pleasure.”

 

 

*          *          *

 

As the horses pulled the wood and iron carriage down the narrow, well-worn road that cut through the king’s forest, Prince Lanidus rested his throbbing head against the soft cushions. The fragrance of wild flowers filled the air as the birds greeted the new day.

“You know, your majesty, if you had slept last night instead of gambling and drinking, you would be in better spirits,” Derali the Captain of the Guard pointed out.

“I am to wed soon,” Lanidus reminded him, “so why not have fun before then?”

“Marriage is not something you should resign yourself to. It represents the union of two souls, two travelers who will forever journey together,” Derali said.

“What would you know of this?” Lanidus remarked.

Derali’s expression grew somber and he lowered his eyes, aimlessly adjusting the ring on his finger. As soon as Lanidus realized what he had said, his heart sank.

“I am sorry, my friend. How long as it been since she passed?”

“The last full moon,” Derali said.

“I forgot. I was not thinking of your loss. I am just concerned about my upcoming marriage. How can I be joyful?” Lanidus asked. “This marriage is merely a union of the kingdoms Acimeth and Ethion. I wish to wed for love.”

“I hear the Princess Lillian is quite beautiful,” Derali said, trying to encourage him.

“Surely you know that the bride of an arranged marriage is never beautiful,” Lanidus said, “only convenient.”

Derali shook his head in laughter. “I wish to be there when you meet her so that I can see your surprise and delight.”

“I have heard that until recently the kingdom of Ethion was beset upon by a demon of some sort,” Lanidus said.

“Not a demon,” Derali corrected. “A priest of Authrax who was immune to death. They burned him alive yet he rose from the ashes. The townsfolk call him the burned priest. But truly such things are but legend.”

Lanidus laughed and said, “And I suppose it is also legend that giant plants grow in Ethion that can consume a full grown man? My favorite story is the one about a large pantherlike creature with the wings of a bat.”

“All legends,” Derali assured him. “Ethion has been thriving since Tobias Ashblood drove out the Children of Dusk.”

“I was taught about Valkovians in my youth,” Lanidus said, “but I never saw one. My teacher said some of them were kind and honorable.”

“That may be so, but many who have been seen have tried to kill anyone who is not a Valkovian,” Derali informed.

“So I am to be king of a perilous land,” Lanidus said. “Wonderful.”

Prince Lanidus did not realize the truth of his words for unbeknownst to him, Riscio and his soldiers were hiding in Ethion, and Riscio would do anything to free his men locked away as prisoners of the kingdom. Hearing of this threat, King Stephanus had commanded Derali to accompany his son the prince.

“Well I am not a weak man,” Lanidus continued. “I was one of the greatest soldiers in the last war. I can defend myself and no demon priest will stop me. I will marry King Isembart’s hideous daughter and make this cursed land my own!”

Derali could not help but laugh at the prince’s words for he had seen drawings of Princess Lillian and knew Lanidus would be at a loss for words when he saw her beauty.

The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 27

Once again Nathan and Elizabeth found themselves on the campus of Crescent Bay University. As they crossed the brick courtyard encircled by live oak trees and headed for Anderson Hill, the dorm of Jessica Alexander, the sweet smell of freshly cut grass and flower blossoms created a happy, relaxing atmosphere. Near the stairs leading into the dorm, a stone fountain’s bubbling water welcomed them.

“Okay so tell me again. We came here instead of finding out why someone would try to kill Jericho because. . .?” Elizabeth asked.

“Two people are dead by the same type of bomb someone will use on Jericho, and those two people were connected to a blackmailing ring. Daniel Lincoln was blackmailing Martin Armstrong who is having an affair with Jessica Alexander. Somehow, River Hastings was involved. The cops think Armstrong’s the killer, so there’s a good chance Alexander either knows who did it or she’s the killer’s next target,” Nathan said.

“Or she’s the killer,” Elizabeth added.

Nathan hesitated then acknowledged, “That’s also possible.”

“So what room is Jessica’s?” Elizabeth asked.

“She’s not in her room right now,” Nathan said.

When he opened the door to the common area, cold air hit Elizabeth as she stepped into a large room filled with boisterous laughter and the clack of billiard balls.

“She’s in here somewhere,” Nathan said.

While Nathan scanned the room looking for Jessica, Elizabeth walked over to the nearest pool table and asked the two guys playing,

“Where is Jessica Alexander?”

Instead of answering her question, they responded by ogling her chest. Elizabeth grabbed the eight ball from the table and barked,

“Hey!”

When both students looked up, Elizabeth crushed the eight ball into a powder.

“I found her,” Nathan said, getting Elizabeth’s attention.

“Are you sure cause I think these two are ready to talk,” Elizabeth snarled.

Nathan glanced at the young men and saw that their faces were drained of color.

“You’re lucky they’re still conscious.”

Elizabeth followed Nathan across the crowded room to a leather couch filled with giggling coeds. The girl seated in the middle, clearly the alpha, had pink hair and was wearing too much eye shadow.

“Jessica Alexander?” Nathan asked.

The girls stopped laughing long enough for the one with the pink hair to say,

“Sorry. She’s not here right now.”

Nathan let out a sigh and under his breath asked, “Why must it always be this way?”

“Jessica Ellen Alexander. Bites her nails when she’s nervous, collects unicorns, and when she was twelve years old, she saw—”

“I’m Jessica!” the girl with the pink hair shouted as she sprang up off the couch.

“Are you certain?” Nathan whispered. “I have more. . .like how you passed your chemistry final.”

“No need,” Jessica assured him. “Let’s go over here where we can talk.”

Jessica led Nathan and Elizabeth to a quiet corner and asked,

“Okay what do you want?”

“We want to ask you about Martin Armstrong,” Nathan explained.

Jessica considered her words for a moment then said,

“Martin Armstrong is a horrible man. He forced Professor Hastings to fail me if I didn’t go out with him, and when Lincoln tried to help me, he killed him. Now Hastings is dead, and I’m scared I’m next.”

“How do you know Hastings is dead?” Elizabeth asked.

“It’s all over campus. They said there was an explosion at Pearson Plasma. They’ve already got a sub for his classes. Anybody can do the math,” Jessica said.

“I think Armstrong is being framed,” Nathan said.

“Framed?” Jessica said, rolling her eyes. “He did it. Everybody knows that. If I were you, I’d disappear before he gets you. I’m going to the cops.”

As she started to walk away, Nathan extended his hand and said,

“Thank you for your time.”

“Whatever,” Jessica said, taking Nathan’s hand and quickly shaking it.

In the few seconds that Nathan held her hand, he had a vision. Everything went white for a moment and when it cleared, he was in a girl’s dorm room.

He looked around for a clue as to whose room it was. Suddenly there was a knock on the door, and when he turned toward it, someone slid an envelope under the door. He heard the sound of the bathroom door opening and looked to see Jessica Alexander step out. She was dressed in a bathrobe with her hair tucked inside a towel. She turned off the bathroom light and crossed the room to the door to open it. When she saw no one was there, she was about to close the door when she spotted the envelope.

Bending over, she picked it up and tore it open to find a folded piece of paper stuffed inside.

Tucked in the fold were three photographs. One was of Daniel Lincoln with the bomb vest wrapped around him. The other was of River Hastings also wearing a bomb vest. But the third was of an empty bomb vest that had her name written on it. With trembling hands, she read the note.

“If anyone asks, Armstrong is responsible.”

Jessica stepped out into the hall and looked both ways before quickly retreating into her room and closing the door.

As she fought back tears, she quickly put the note away and disappeared into the bathroom.

Suddenly Nathan snapped out of his vision and saw Jessica staring at him with a look of confusion.

“You okay?” she asked.

Nathan took a second to clear his head then answered,

“Yea. Fine.”

While Jessica returned to her friends, Elizabeth spun Nathan around and demanded,

“What did you see?”

When Nathan hesitated, she warned,

“Tell me or I’ll pick you up by your underwear and fly you over the city!”

“No need,” Nathan said. “Whoever is doing this threatened Jessica that unless she names Armstrong as the killer, she’ll be the next victim.”

“Then let’s hide her someplace safe,” Elizabeth suggested.

“That won’t do any good,” Nathan said.

“Why not?” Elizabeth asked.

“Because she’s already gone,” Nathan replied.

Elizabeth looked past Nathan and saw that Jessica was nowhere in sight.

“Where’d she go?” Elizabeth asked.

“To the police station. Don’t worry. She’ll make it there safely,” Nathan said then added, “I think.”

“What do you mean you think?” Elizabeth asked.

“I mean the future is not certain yet, but there’s a good chance she’ll make it,” Nathan explained.

Growing angry, Elizabeth glared at him.

“That’s not good enough! I don’t know how things are where you come from, but here we take life and death seriously.”

“It’s the same where I come from, Elizabeth,” Nathan assured her. “It’s just that I’m still having difficulty adjusting to this place. Everything still feels like a dream.”

In frustration Elizabeth pushed past him and stormed towards the door.

The two boys Elizabeth had threatened still stood at the pool table gaping in awe.

When she reached for the door handle, Nathan suddenly grabbed her hand and said,

“Elizabeth, wait.”

“What?” Elizabeth asked irritated.

“I need to go first. And remember above all else, don’t just catch it. You have to throw it as high as you can,” Nathan said.

Elizabeth looked at Nathan confused,

“What are you talking about?”

“Please,” Nathan said, “just trust me.”

When she saw the pleading look in his eyes, she calmly answered,

“Okay.”

Removing her hand from the door handle, she stepped back as Nathan quietly thanked her, opened the door and stepped out in the courtyard.

Unsettled: Episode 9

“Where are we going exactly?” Rory asked.

“I don’t know. I’m not leading this parade,” Ray replied.

After Detective Márquez returned to the crime scene and Jack announced they needed a safe place to talk, Kristina had offered to take them to the perfect place. Climbing on her bike, she pulled into the street and headed north.

“So we’re just going to follow her to this mysterious location?” Rory asked.

“It would appear so,” Ray replied. “Based on the amount of time we’ve been on the road, I figure we must be on the other side of the island by now.”

The farther north they drove, the higher the elevation. At the top of the next hill, Ray looked back and saw the expansive bridge that connected Coldwater to Whitelake. When the sun’s rays hit it just right, it looked golden. Up ahead, Kristina slowed to a stop in front of two large black iron gates. She waited while the gates opened then drove her bike through with Mavis right behind. When Rory pulled through in his Bronco, Ray noticed the sign on the gates.

“Wintervale,” he read. “Wintervale. Where have I heard that name?”

After a few curves in the road, a massive red brick mansion came into view. The three-storied structure stretched out over rolling hills with oaks and dogwoods lining the drive. Kristina pulled up to the main entrance and killed her engine as Mavis and Rory parked alongside her bike.

“Where are we?” Mavis asked as she climbed out of the Jeep and twirled around, taking it all in.

“Wintervale Manor,” Kristina said.

“Mathias Wintervale built this place along with a mental hospital in Blackrock. The hospital’s been closed down for years, but at the time it was a top-notch place for the patients,” Kristina said.

“That’s nice and all, but why are we here?” Rory asked.

“I live here,” Kristina said with a smile. “My mom was the granddaughter of Mathias Wintervale. After my dad died, she married Oswald Zamora, a stage magician. He was my step-dad. The week before I graduated from high school, my mom died. Right after the ceremony, he disappeared, leaving all his possessions to me. I haven’t seen or heard from him since.”

“Man, this place is insane,” Billy said, taking it all in.

“You’d know!” Rory quipped.

Mavis quickly bent over, grabbed a rock from the driveway, and threw it at Rory.

“It’s okay, love,” Jack said. “We have more pressing matters to attend to.”

“Now that we’re someplace safe, tell us what happened back there,” Ray requested.

“When I got inside the building,” Lucas said, “Heath had left, probably in that helicopter lifting off.”

“And Dale?” Kristina asked.

“Upstairs in his office. Dead, the poor thing,” Victoria answered. “Beaten near to death with a hammer.”

When Kristina lost it, Mavis scolded Victoria.

“Do you have to be so graphic?” she snapped as Kristina walked away to compose herself.

“He didn’t go there just to kill Tanner,” Dylan interrupted. “This was more aggressive, angrier.”

“It is possible he was venting some pent up aggression,” Jack said. “On the other hand, maybe it was some sort of sick game to him.”

“What makes you think that?” Ray asked.

“A gunshot wound was what killed Tanner. Heath could have easily killed him with the hammer, but it looks like he struck him in such a way as to inflict the most damage yet leave him alive. Long enough to kill him anyway,” Jack explained.

“This is more than a killing spree or a cleanup,” Dylan insisted. “Heath is after something. Otherwise he’d be more focused or at least have a cool down period. He’s ramping up to a finale, and my gut tells me he’s just getting starting.”

“Somehow Parker is connected to Heath,” Ray said. “You should have seen his reaction when we mentioned him.”

“You hit a nerve. Aggression at a sensitive subject,” Jack said.

“Rookie mistake,” Eddie said. “Gave himself away. But he’s new at this. Probably the first time he’s ever worked with a cleaner.”

“Sounds like the fire’s jumped out of the firebox onto the curtains,” Jack replied.

“Anybody lost here?” Rory asked.

“It does,” Ray replied, ignoring Rory’s comment. “I have a suspicion where he might be headed next. When we were in Parker’s office, I saw a picture of him with three other men. The mayor, the police commissioner, and one other guy I didn’t recognize.”

“It could be he’s planning to completely wipe out the city’s infrastructure, leaving it in chaos,” Mavis proposed.

“There is one other possible answer,” Jack suggested.

“What?” Mavis asked.

“A hostile takeover,” Jack replied.

 

 

*          *          *

 

Gagged and tied to a chair facing French doors that opened onto a balcony of one of Coldwater’s tallest hotels, Councilman Owen Parker tried to calm his nerves. A short while ago, he had found his secretary Veronica dead in his outer office and Charles Heath standing over her body, along with one of his goons. At gunpoint, he had forced Parker to the top floor of the hotel.

Heath walked over and stood next to Parker, placing his hand on the nervous councilman’s shoulder. He slipped past Parker and opened the french doors, stepping outside to enjoy the view of the city and feel the soft breeze ruffle his hair. Taking a deep breath to draw in the fresh air, he said,

“You know, I really love this city. Not because of the people but because of the ambiance. On the surface, it feels warm and inviting. Underneath? Underneath there’s a hidden malice lingering just below the surface. Like the archetypal deformed cousin everyone keeps hidden in the basement,” Heath paused then laughed at his clever simile. “It’s there reminding us that we aren’t as perfect as we pretend to be.”

Just then one of Heath’s men walked onto the balcony and handed him a small cellphone.

“It’s ready,” the man said.

“Oh good,” Heath replied. Then taking a quick look outside, he turned to Parker and said,

“You’re going to enjoy this!”

Turning back to face Coldwater, Heath asked,

“Did you know that in ancient times when a city or kingdom was overthrown, the new monarchy would kill anyone loyal to the old king then destroy any buildings or statues built in his name?”

As Parker looked up at Heath, beads of sweat trickled down his face.

After a moment, Heath turned toward Parker.

“Well at least that’s what I believe they did. I couldn’t find any solid references to make my point resonate more, but you get the idea.”

When Parker began to glare at his captor, Heath complained,

“Now don’t look at me that way. I thought if anyone would enjoy this, you would.”

“Do you know what is so great about our emergency services?” Heath asked. “It’s their reaction time. In the city of Coldwater, most fire department and emergency services are on the scene within 3-4 minutes.”

“Aside from a mass disaster, there isn’t a single challenge the fire department could not handle,” Heath said, a wide smile on his face.

“Now I know you must wondering what that has to do with anything. Well I’ll tell you.”

Heath stepped off the balcony and knelt down in front of Parker, placing his hand on the councilman’s knee and addressing him like a small child.

“That kind of timing is perfect for when Mommy accidentally burns the rolls and the drapes catch fire. But for someone like me? Well it makes burning a few strategic buildings to the ground a bit difficult.”

Heath stood up and turned to look out over Coldwater. As he pressed a few buttons in the cell phone, he said,

“So a man like me has to plan ahead, and the best way to deal with quick response fire departments is to overwhelm them.”

Heath paused as he turned from the city and smiled at Parker.

“And the best way to overwhelm emergency services is not to give them one problem to deal with but. . .”

When Heath pressed another button on the cell phone, five separate explosions went off across town, one after another. As fire lit up the sky, Heath held up his hand, fingers spread wide, and mouthed the word.

“. . .five!”

Published in: on March 19, 2018 at 2:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Medical Delay

The updates will be here soon but due to a minor medical emergency there will be a delay. My most sincere apologies and thank you for you devotion and patience.

Published in: on March 15, 2018 at 6:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Train: Episode 81

After three solid kicks, the door finally came open. Michael recoiled at the heat pouring from the burning cabin.

“You can’t go in there!” Marvin Clark warned.

“I have no choice! My friend is in there!” Michael yelled back.

Shielding his eyes from the heat, Michael took a step into the burning cabin but was pulled back when a strong hand grabbed his collar. As he struggled to keep his balance, he looked up and saw a figure, silhouetted by the light from the fire, close the door and turn to face him.

“What kind of idiot goes running into a burning building?” Elliot barked.

“Ricer’s in there!” Michael snapped.

“And Lucy is missing,” Nicole added.

“First off, the doc ain’t in there. I’d have gotten him out if he were. And secondly, Lucy tends to go missing a lot. You just never noticed it before. It’s what she’s good at,” Elliot pointed out.

“Well somebody grabbed Ricer. I saw it,” Michael insisted.

“I know. That’s why I’m here,” Elliot said.

When Michael saw Serena running toward them, he reached out and grabbed her by the shoulders.

“Who was that? Who took Ricer?” he demanded.

Serena’s eyes were wide with fear as Michael refused to release her.

“Tell me!” Michael growled, losing patience.

“I can’t say his name out loud,” Serena said. “Legend has it he’ll come for you if you misbehave or call his name.”

“I don’t give a squat about legend! Tell me or you’ll have bigger things to worry about than that!” Michael snapped.

Elliot placed his hand on Michael’s shoulder and moved him away.

“Easy, son,” Elliot said. “You’re scaring her.”

Elliot turned to face Serena and asked,

“Who was the man that grabbed the doc?”

“It was Abraham,” Marvin Clark’s youngest boy yelled.

“Quiet, Gordon!” Susan Clark warned.

“Who is Abraham?” Michael asked.

“He used to be the groundskeeper for Summerhill Medical Center,” Serena said.

“Where is that?” Michael asked.

Serena clamped her mouth shut, her eyes full of fear as a bead of sweat ran down her forehead.

Michael remembered Serena being dragged away when they had first arrived.

“Wait a minute,” Michael whispered. “Was that where they were taking you when we showed up?”

Serena nodded.

“I know where to go,” Michael said.

“Good,” Elliot replied. “Stay here and figure out what’s going on. I’ll find Ricer and Lucy.”

“I’m going with you!” Michael insisted.

“No, you’re not. Stay here where you’re safe and let me do my job,” Elliot ordered.

Michael was reluctant but saw that Elliot meant business.

“Last thing I need is more missing people to worry about,” Elliot grumbled as he walked away.

When Elliot was out of earshot, Michael turned to Serena and glared,

“Take us to Suriel now! I’m not asking anymore.”

* * *

Elliot made his way through the woods to Summerhill Medical Center. Across the grounds, the brown grass lay in patches and the dying trees dropped their limbs in great number. With revolver in hand, Elliot walked toward the rotting front door, sagging on its rusty hinges. As he stepped inside the building, he was assaulted by the sour stench of mold and decay. Gingerly stepping across the creaking wooden floor, he peered into every dark corner.

“Why don’t people just tear these places down instead of letting them fall into ruin?” Elliot asked aloud.

Suddenly the wind picked up, its blast slamming the splintered door.

Elliot whirled around then shook his head.

“All right, Doc, where are you?”

He headed for what had been the main hallway and looked inside the first room. It was empty except for a pile of mildewed rags in one corner. He covered his nose against the smell. As he moved to the next room, he heard movement behind him, footsteps across the floor and a door closing.

When he turned toward the noise, he saw no one but decided to follow the sound. At the door, he reached out and kicked it open, his weapon raised to fire.

“I’m not much for playing games. Never have been,” he called out. “Why don’t you step out here and let’s get this over with?”

Silence hung in the air.

“Come on, Abraham,” Elliot said. “Show yourself.”

When he heard the sound of heavy boots on the creaky old wood, Elliot slowly turned.

Opposite him stood a tall man in a long woolen coat, his face obscured by an old brown hat, its brittle straw frayed at the edges. His left hand gripped the handle of a long eaves knife.

“Now that’s something I haven’t seen in a while,” Elliot said, pointing to the knife.

“Abraham?” Elliot asked.

The eaves knife had a straightened scythe blade attached to a three-foot long wooden handle.

“You planning on killing me with that thing?” Elliot asked, aiming his pistol at Abraham’s heart. “You’d better be faster than me.”

From behind him, Elliot heard a weak voice whimper,

“Elliot?”

In a momentary lapse of judgment, Elliot turned toward the voice, taking his eyes off the man. When he turned back, he saw the eaves knife coming straight at him.

Published in: on February 19, 2018 at 12:38 am  Leave a Comment  
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