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,


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,


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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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,


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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Dragon Fire: Episode 94

As Allaster rose from the ashes, the villagers who had lingered until the fire burned itself out began to scream, fleeing in their terror. For just a moment, Allaster stood then collapsed to the charred ground.

“Authrax gives him power,” one hysterical woman cried out.

When King Isembart turned toward the chaos, he saw Allaster and commanded, “Seize him.”

Weak and confused, Allaster struggled to stand but was hindered when the strong arm of the guards restrained him.

While they held him, Allaster watched as King Isembart approached.

“I do not understand this power you hold,” Isembart roared, “but know this. I will see you locked away for the rest of your days. In the deepest, darkest dungeon, you will remain until the world has long forgotten you.”

“Father, please,” Lillian pleaded. “Have you no mercy?”

Exhausted and bewildered, Allaster cast his eyes upon the suffering princess, and his heart broke.

But when King Isembart saw the glance, he shouted,

“Do not look upon her! You will never see her nor daylight again!”

“My liege, if I may put forth a proposal,” High Priest Zephryses said as he came closer.

“What do you suggest?” King Isembart asked.

“I think it unwise to keep the prisoner here in Ethion. There may be those who would seek to free him. Perhaps, if your majesty agrees, I could take him to Copperhead Camp where he will be safely locked away, under the watchful eyes of my most trusted guards, while I discover how to reverse this power Authrax has given him.”

King Isembart considered for a moment then said,

“I do not favor this plan, but I must keep my people safe.”

King Isembart looked at Princess Lillian, her hands trembling as she covered her tearful eyes.

“Do so at once. Get him out of here!”

“But, Father, you—,” Lillian began.

“I will hear no more!”

“Take her back to her room!” the king ordered as he turned and headed to the palace.

As the king’s guards escorted Princess Lillian away, High Priest Zephryses turned to Allaster and said,

“Now you will stay locked away where no one can help you.”

With a nod of the priest’s head, Allaster lost consciousness.

* * *

When Allaster awoke, he found himself in a carriage, his hands and feet bound tightly with ropes. On either side of him sat a guard, staring straight ahead as the carriage rumbled down the winding dusty road. In the distance on a small island in the middle of a lake rested Copperhead Camp. Once a large towering castle, its true name had been lost in time long ago and it became known as Copperhead Camp. The lower levels of the castle had been sealed to constrain the countless nests of snakes that covered the dungeon floors, offering no hope of escape.

When the driver reached the lake’s shore, he brought the carriage to a rolling stop. The two guards slipped out of the carriage and waited as Allaster slowly worked himself to the ground. Positioning themselves at Allaster’s sides, the guards led him to the boat then tied his ropes to a great iron ring just before the boatman steered the craft to the island. When they reached the shore, the guards took Allaster through the castle’s two large doors and into a courtyard.

Allaster noticed that none of the soldiers in formation wore the uniforms of the Kingdom of Ethion. As they walked through the courtyard toward a door in the wall ahead, a voice from atop the wall called out,


Allaster looked up and saw High Priest Zephryses.

“Bring him to me,” the priest ordered.

At that, the guards turned and took Allaster toward a flight of stairs leading up to where the High Priest Zephryses waited.

“My boy,” Zephryses said, taking in a deep breath.

“You will not escape the penalty for what you have done,” Allaster warned.

“Then tell them,” Zephryses sneered. “But you must realize that no one here cares what I have done. Every man is loyal to me.”

Zephryses put his arm around Allaster and said,

“Now if you were willing to keep what you saw to yourself and swear loyalty to me, I might be able to arrange for circumstances to work in your favor. I know of your love for the princess, and I know that she professes her love in return. I could quite easily arrange for the two of you to be together.”

Zephryses turned Allaster around and looked into his eyes.

“Even now, King Isembart arranges the wedding of Princess Lillian to Prince Lanidus, the son of King Stephanus.”

Zephryses laughed and said,

“But that is of no consequence for I can easily remove Lanidus and put you in his place. Sadly the change will not be permanent, so you will have to return to me to reestablish your mask, shall we say. Getting the princess to fall in love with you will not be difficult. After all, she loves you.”

“No!” Allaster refused.

Zephryses quickly removed his hands from Allaster and stepped back in surprise.

“Really? No? I just offered you everything you desire, and you slap my hand away?”

“I will not do this to Lillian no matter what you offer me. You are wicked, vile. I will never give you what you want,” Allaster insisted.

“You seem to forget that you do not have any power here. That trick that brought you back from death worked only once. Give me what I want or stay dead,” Zephryses demanded.

“No!” Allaster shouted, straightening up as he glared at the priest.

“You always were a stubborn child. I see nothing has changed. No matter. I will still get what I want. You cannot stop me. No one can stop me.”

Suddenly, Zephryses slipped one of the guard’s swords from its sheath. Turning to Allaster, he said,

“You cheated death once, but now you will stay dead.”

As Zephryses drew back the blade, Allaster closed his eyes.

“Goodbye, Allaster,” Zephryses said as he ran him through.

When Allaster fell to his knees, Zephryses raised the sword and with one clean pass, removed Allaster’s head. Then he pushed Allaster over the side of the wall, his body and head smashing to the ground below.

“Let the animals have their fill of his flesh. I will be in my chambers.”

Zephryses handed the bloodied sword to the guard and walked away.

When one of the guards peered over the wall, he called out,

“Sir? The body is gone.”

“What?” Zephryses replied.

Storming to the edge of the castle wall, Zephryses looked to see that Allaster’s body had vanished.

“The predators of this place must be quite bold. Find what is left,” he ordered.

But before the guard could respond, Zephryses noticed movement in the soil where Allaster’s body had fallen.

“Impossible!” Zephryses responded. “The potion was to have worked only once.”

All of a sudden, the ground began to shake and swell as something pushed through its surface.

“No!” Zephryses roared.

In an instant, a hand had emerged from the ground and Allaster had pulled himself out of the earth just as he had at his execution.

Horrified Zephryses screamed,

“Seize him!”


The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 26

Nathan and Elizabeth stayed out of the way as police questioned Martin Armstrong in the lobby of Pearson Plasma Technologies. Outside the building, officers and bomb squad swarmed across the parking lot working through the damage as medical personnel attended to the wounded.

“Any idea what happened?” Elizabeth asked.

“Another man was murdered by a bombing, same as Lincoln,” Nathan said.

“Who’s doing this?” Elizabeth asked.

“I’m not sure yet, but I have my suspicions,” Nathan answered.

“It was one of the people in Lincoln’s blackmail file, wasn’t it?” Elizabeth asked.

“That’s my theory,” Nathan replied.

“When are they going to question us? I’ve got things to do,” Elizabeth asked.

“Should be pretty soon,” Nathan said.

As they waited, Elizabeth let her eyes wander across the lobby until she saw a large glass display case. Inside was a red and black jumpsuit along with helmet, boots, gloves, and rocket pack, all in a matching color scheme. Elizabeth was at once enamored.

“I know that suit! It’s Knightlight!” she said excitedly.

As Nathan followed Elizabeth over to the display case, he said,

“This is the suit once worn by Milford Pearson when he was fighting crime as Knightlight. The boots and jetpack provide both propulsion and balance. The gloves can fire super-heated plasma from the plasma engine in the jet pack, and the helmet links everything together with a voice activation system that allows control of various functions of the suit simply by voice command. The jumpsuit is both waterproof and flame retardant and on hot days can bring the wearer dangerously close to dehydration. Pearson wore this suit for twenty years until his retirement when he opened Pearson Plasma Technologies and retired the suit, leaving the city’s safety to the police department, emergency services and the rising crop of new heroes.”

“Thanks,” Elizabeth said. “Actually, I knew some of that.”

“Pearson updated and maintained the suit well into his retirement, and upon his death he requested that the suit be kept up and maintained should the city ever need Knightlight again,” Nathan continued.

“Like I said, you sound like a tour guide,” Elizabeth teased. “I do have a question though.”

“Did Pearson have any help in creating the engine or was it entirely his brainchild?”

“Actually Pearson never took full credit for the plasma engine. He worked on its initial designs with inventor Foreman Frost who was a friend and mentor. Frost was going to join him in his own suit of armor using the name Professor Phantastic, but he just disappeared leaving Pearson to continue work on the plasma engine without him. Until his death, Pearson never stopped looking for Frost. Kind of sad,” Nathan said.

“Is this the original suit?” Elizabeth asked.

“No. This is just a model for display. They keep the real Knightlight suit safely locked away.”

Elizabeth seemed disappointed.

“I wanted to see the real one, not a duplicate,” she said.

“They have to keep the real one locked up. Can’t risk someone breaking in here and stealing it, can they?” Nathan asked.

“I guess not,” Elizabeth said.

Just then, Detective Cassandra Shields called out, “Nathan.”

Nathan turned toward her voice and saw her motion for him and Elizabeth to come over.

“Sorry for keeping you inside,” Shields apologized as she led them to a back corner of the parking lot. “EMT’s have been tending to injuries, and Dr. Makaw insisted Crime Scene have a look at the damage before you interrupt,” Shields said. “His words not mine.”

“This is where it went off,” Shields said as she pointed to a burning crater in the concrete.

“Any deaths?” Elizabeth asked.

“None other than our victim. Techs found parts of a body, including a finger,” Shields explained.

Just then Makaw, wearing a confident smile, marched up to them and said,

“That’s far enough, Prophet. So tell me what happened here.”

“Victim is River Hastings, an engineering professor at Crescent Bay University. Jessica Alexander is one of his students. He was in the back of a car here,” Nathan said glancing at the scene, “with the bomb strapped to him. The detonator was a cell phone triggered by someone nearby.”

Makaw cursed then said,

“Fascinating. I don’t suppose you can tell me what type of vehicle it was.”

Nathan closed his eyes and after a moment said,

“A 1986 van, blue with tan interior.”

“How could you possibly know that?” Detective French snapped.

“Jericho vouched for him. Don’t forget he works for us,” Shields said.

French threw up his hands and turned away, mumbling under his breath.

“Anything else, Doc?” Shields asked.

“He pretty much summed it up. River Hastings was the victim. He was tied up in the back of a van, and the bomb was triggered by a cell phone signal,” Makaw summarized.

Looking at Nathan, Shields asked, “Any idea who could have done this?”

“Nope,” Nathan lied, “although I do believe Graham Prescott and his men are involved somehow. Don’t have all the answers yet.”

Shields nodded and said,

“Well keep me informed. We’ll finish up here.”

As Nathan and Elizabeth walked away, she whispered,

“You told her you didn’t know who did it.”

“Right,” Nathan replied.

“But what about Armstrong? He was on the phone with his lawyer and you suddenly leapt at him. Why would you do that if you didn’t think he was involved?” Elizabeth asked.

Nathan told Elizabeth what he saw just before the bomb went off.

“Well then Armstrong is obviously the guy. He saw we were onto him, so he’s getting rid of loose ends,” Elizabeth said.

“Normally I would agree with you, but a few things don’t add up,” Nathan explained.

“If Armstrong is the killer, why kill anyone other than Lincoln? We had no clue what was going on until we found the blackmail.”

“And that’s why he had to cover up his affair. Because we found the blackmail. Someone at the bar must have told him,” Elizabeth suggested.

“That’s possible, but when the bomb went off, he was trying to reach his lawyer. When the phone wouldn’t pick up, he seemed genuinely confused,” Nathan reminded her.

“Well he’s just a good actor,” Elizabeth proposed.

“No, no. Something doesn’t feel right,” Nathan said.

“So you think he’s innocent?” Elizabeth asked exasperated.

“No he’s guilty of something. Just not murder. Besides, if this is about blackmail, there’s one more piece that doesn’t fit,” Nathan said.

“What’s that?” Elizabeth asked.

Nathan started to answer but suddenly stopped himself.

“What is it?” Elizabeth insisted.

When he didn’t answer, Elizabeth stepped in front of him and threatened,

“Tell me or I’ll fly up over the city and drop you.”

Nathan hesitated but finally said, “All right. All right. I had a vision before this started of Jericho in the park. He had a bomb strapped to his chest, a bomb just like the others. If this is all about blackmail, why try to kill him?”

“Why try at all?” Elizabeth asked. “Jericho is all but impervious to damage. A bomb like that would kill everyone else before it left a scratch on him.”

“That’s why I think this may be a setup, but for what reason?” Nathan wondered.

“Then we’d better find out,” Elizabeth asserted. “Before it’s too late!”


Unsettled: Episode 8

It was late evening when Ray and Rory pulled up outside the city capitol building. Work had just been completed to stabilize the building’s foundation and repair damage from the recent hurricane that had blown through town. The street lamps cast a soft glow onto the three-story red brick building as the wind stirred the towering pines that formed a border across the front.

As Ray and Rory climbed the front steps, Rory asked,

“Aren’t these places usually closed after five?”

“Some,” Ray said, testing the door.

When he found it unlocked, he smiled at Rory and added,

“But sometimes people work late.”

Rory followed Ray inside, stopping at a directory to find the listing of Councilman Parker’s office.

“Third floor, room 304,” Rory said.

At the lobby elevator, Ray tapped the button, and after a moment the doors opened.

“What if he’s not in?” Rory asked as he punched the button for the third floor.

“He’s in,” Ray assured him.

“What makes you so certain?” Rory asked.

“Oh just a feeling,” Ray replied.

“More like wishful thinking,” Rory commented as the elevator doors opened.

When they stepped off the elevator, the only sound was the tap of their shoes on the highly polished tile floor. The white sterile hallway was empty as they headed for Parker’s office.

At the door of 304, Rory turned the knob. The door was unlocked, so they stepped inside. The front office was empty.

“See,” Rory laughed. “No one here.”

Ray saw a second door just past the secretary’s desk. The gold lettering on the door’s frosted glass panel read Councilman Owen Parker. Ray listened for a few moments then knocked. He heard a loud thump and a man’s voice yelled,

“Just a moment.”

After the sound of muffled voices stopped, the door opened and a young woman came out of the office. She quickly smoothed her hair and began to close the three open buttons on her blouse.

“May I help you?” she smiled.

“Yes. I’d like to speak with Councilman Parker, please.”

“I’m afraid he’s busy right now,” the woman answered.

“I can see that,” Rory said. “But this is important.”

When Ray glanced past her, he saw Parker quickly throw on a pair of glasses then grab a gold wedding ring off the desk and jam it onto his finger. He was around middle age with graying hair and a slight paunch.

“Now is not a good time,” the woman insisted.

“That’s all right, ma’am. I’ll just go have a word with Mrs. Parker. This matter concerns both of them,” Ray returned.

“What matter?” Parker asked, walking to his office door.

“Nothing that can’t wait. I’ll speak with your wife first. Of course I do tend to share too much and may tell her what I saw here. Hope she doesn’t misunderstand,” Ray said.

“It’s okay, Veronica,” Parker said. “I can speak with them now.”

Ray sweetly smiled and excused himself as he walked past Parker’s secretary.

In a huff, Veronica marched toward her desk, loudly closing the councilman’s door behind Ray and Rory.

Parker offered Ray and Rory a chair and sat down behind his desk.

“Now what can I do for you gentlemen this evening?” he politely asked.

“I am a voter,” Ray said, “and I have a few questions.”

“Well I’m here to help. My door is always open,” Parker said.

“Excellent,” Ray replied. “My first question is what is the city council doing about the crime rate?”

“Crime is down,” Parker said, leaning back in his chair as he laced his fingers across his chest, “and City hall will continue to work with the police department to guarantee it stays down.”

“Next question,” Ray said. “Does the name Charles Heath mean anything to you?”

Suddenly Parker’s friendly expression changed to a scowl.

“Who are you?” he demanded.

“Name is Raymond Slats, and I was wondering why is it you hired Charles Heath to in his own words ‘burn the city to the ground?’ ” Ray asked.

Parker stared at Ray for a moment then said, “Wait a minute. Raymond Slats. I know that name. You’re from Whitelake not Coldwater. Why did you tell me you were a voter?”

“Well technically I am a voter, just not in your district,” Ray said.

“I don’t have anything more to say, Mr. Slats. You can find your way out. Bother me again, and you’ll need an attorney,” Parker threatened.

As Ray stood to leave, he said,

“This kind of thing usually doesn’t end well, Councilman. If I were you, I’d get help before things get away from you.”

“Out!” Parker barked.

Turning to leave, Ray noticed a photograph of Councilman Parker with three other men on a golf course. Three of the men were laughing as the fourth retrieved his golf ball from the hole.

When they reached the elevator, Rory asked,

“That’s it?’ We just walk out?”

“I already got all he was going to give. His reaction said enough. Plus, I saw a photo of Parker with the mayor, the police commissioner, and another guy I didn’t recognize. I’d bet my social security check that those men are on Heath’s hit list. We need to find Billy and the others,” Ray said.

As they stepped into the elevator and punched the button for the lobby, Rory asked,

“And by the others you mean?”

“Mavis and Kristina,” Ray replied.

“Good,” Rory said, relaxing a bit.

“And Billy’s other personalities,” Ray added.

Rolling his eyes, Rory groaned as the elevator doors closed.

* * *

As Ray and Rory pulled up outside the Coldwater Chronicle, a uniformed police officer stopped them and told them to stay behind the cordon tape. Squad cars filled the lot as officers and Crime Scene worked the area.

“What’s happened?” Rory asked.

“More importantly,” Ray said as Rory parked near the street, “where are Mavis, Billy and Kristina?”

“Hey, there they are, across the street,” Rory pointed out.

They got out of Rory’s Bronco and crossed the busy street.

“What happened here?” Rory asked.

“I have no idea,” Billy said.

Mavis looked around to see if anyone else could hear before she explained,

“When we got here, Lucas told us to stay outside while he went in. He told us to wait a bit, turn the power off and on, then get into our car, which we did. A few minutes later, we saw the lights of a helicopter as it lifted off the roof. Next thing we know, Billy’s walking out of the building and asking us what happened?”

Rory looked at Billy and inquired,

“What happened inside?”

Billy shrugged and said, “I honestly don’t know. Last I remember, we were at the diner.”

“Wait a minute,” Ray said with skepticism. “You mean to tell me you don’t remember anything?”

Mavis nodded and said, “I believe him, Ray. Sometimes the others block out Billy completely, like when they do something they don’t want him to remember. That way, he stays completely innocent.”

“In that case, I need to speak with the others,” Ray said. “How do I get one of them out here?”

“Won’t work,” Kristina said. “Afraid we already tried. They’ve gone into hiding, I’d guess until things calm down.”

Before Ray could continue his questioning, a slender young woman in a crisp suit, her brown hair pulled back in a bun, walked up to them, her eyes on Billy.

Removing a police badge from her suit, she introduced herself,

“Detective Joeslyn Márquez, Coldwater PD.”

As she slipped the badge back into her pocket, she watched Billy.

“I saw you at the police department earlier. You were there just before detective Ethan Snow was murdered.”

“Detective Snow is dead?” Billy asked in surprise.

Márquez studied Billy’s face as though the answers were there.

“You were there. You didn’t kill him, but you know something. First Snow’s murder, then this? You’re involved all right.”

“What happened in there, Detective,” Ray asked.

“Dale Tanner was murdered. We also found several armed men unconscious and tied up. You wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?” Márquez asked Billy.

“Tanner is dead?” Kristina asked, her hand covering her mouth.

Seeing her grief, Márquez said, “Yes, I’m afraid so.”

“I honestly have no clue what’s going on. Last I remember, I was at a diner with these guys,” Billy said, an innocent look on his face.

Márquez watched Billy for a moment then ordered, “Don’t leave town. I may have other questions.”

As Márquez returned to the crime scene, Jack suddenly spoke up.

“So much has happened. We need to get to safety and figure out Heath’s next move.”

“What happened in there?” Mavis asked.

“Not here, love,” Jack replied. “Later, where it’s safe.”

* * *

Irritated by Ray’s visit and threat to tell his wife, Parker gathered his papers, shut off the desk lamp and walked to the door. As he closed and locked it, he said,

“Veronica, I’m sorry, but I’m too upset right now. I’m heading home for the night.”

When he turned around, he froze. Veronica was face down on the floor in a pool of blood. Standing over here was Charles Heath with his bodyguard.

“Hello, Councilman,” Heath sneered. “It’s time for phase two.”

As Heath’s bodyguard pointed a pistol at Parker’s head, Heath asked,

“Won’t you join me for the rest of the evening?”


The Train: Episode 80

As Michael shielded Dr. Ricer and Lucy, Nicole slipped her pistol out of its holster and took aim. When the doorknob completed its rotation and the door slowly opened to reveal Serena, Michael relaxed and Nicole quickly put away her pistol.

Wearing a soft smile, Serena said,

“Sorry I had to lie about your place here, but I did not want the staff asking too many questions. If they feel we are the ones who made the mistake, they will treat you like four-star members.”

“No problem,” Michael said. “We’re used to thinking on our feet.”

Once Serena closed the door behind her, Michael continued,

“I spoke with some of the guests, but they didn’t say much about Morgan or Saint Suriel.”

“That is because most of the guests are new. Morgan adopted the name Suriel weeks ago,” Serena explained.

“If he is hiding Salvatore,” Nicole said, “we’ll need access to both his quarters and his office if we want to find out what he knows.”

“That should not be a problem,” Serena said. “Under the guise of a making new friends event, I have arranged a night of games under the stars. The staff as well as Morgan will be there,” Serena said.

“Great idea. That should provide us with the opportunity to search his place,” Michael said.

“I need to get back. Come find me if you have a problem,” Serena said.

“Will you be safe?” Nicole asked. “What about the people who tried to hurt you?’

“I will take care of them. I have already convinced the others that I was stricken with a high fever at the time and did not know what I was saying,” Serena said.

Once Serena had left, closing the door behind her, Michael turned to Nicole.

“You mind checking Morgan’s place by yourself? I don’t think taking my eyes off that bag of crazy,” Michael said, pointing in the direction of Serena’s exit, “is such a good idea.”

“No problem,” Nicole assured him. “Keep your eyes open.”

Michael smiled and replied, “I always do.”


*          *          *


The event under the stars gave Michael the perfect chance to meet with the staff. He soon discovered that they all had the same answers to the same questions. Over and over, he introduced himself and apologized for asking the same questions, claiming that he suffered from a faulty memory. Most of what he learned about Morgan and Salvatore was the same thing Serena had said. After a while, he excused himself and headed over to Ricer and Lucy.

“It’s probably just me, but these people seem awfully friendly,” Michael said.

“Oh I imagine that’s just so the guests will feel welcome,” Ricer offered.

“Not the staff. I mean the guests,” Michael clarified. “I’ve had the same two girls try to pick me up, first separately then together. Hey, I’d be flattered if this place didn’t have that let’s all drink the Kool-Aid vibe.”

“I haven’t received any new information about this place since we first arrived. I don’t know anything more about Suriel than you do at this point. I just hope we aren’t too late,” Ricer said.

After a few minutes, Nicole showed up.

“I didn’t find anything,” she replied.

“Nothing?” Michael asked.

Nicole nodded, “Whoever this guy is, he’s doing a good job of hiding it. No info in Salvatore’s room about his location, and his office is locked up tight. We may have to interrogate the employees.”

“I’ve got a couple of ideas we can try before drawing weapons and doing things the hard way,” Michael said.

Just then Marvin Clark walked up wearing a smile that stretched from ear to ear. Right behind him was his wife Susan with the same grin plastered across her face.

“Having fun?” Marvin asked.

“I certainly am,” Michael said mimicking Marvin’s enthusiastic smile.

“You never told us what you did for a living?” Susan said.

“Yes, they did, sweetie,” Marvin corrected.

“I did?” Michael asked, a little confused. “I don’t recall saying anything.”

Marvin let out a chuckle and said,

“I’m sorry. I meant to say Serena told us. She told us you worked in law enforcement as a detective.”

“That’s correct,” Michael quickly responded.

“She also said that you have a wonderful singing voice,” Susan shared, pointing to Nicole.

Nicole smiled but said nothing.

“Now I don’t quite recall what she said you do,” Marvin admitted to Ricer. “I know you’re retired, but I want to say it had something to do with books.”

Ricer smiled and said,

“I used to be a college professor.”

“Really?” Marvin responded. “What college? I may need help getting my little boy Gordon into college one of these days. He’s got a big heart, but he’s not that bright.”

“Marvin!” Susan snapped.

“Oh they know I’m just teasing,” Marvin laughed.

Suddenly there was a loud explosion from one of the cabins, shattering the windows and sending flames shooting up the walls.

“Oh dear,” Susan said. “I hope no one was in there.”

“It’s okay, sweetie. Remember that cabin’s empty. Thank goodness they haven’t filled it yet!” Marvin said.

Then looking around he added, “We probably better get back and let them deal with this. Most likely it’s just a gas leak or something. Look at it this way. We have a bonfire to go with this wonderful night out,” Marvin said with a laugh.

“Marvin!” Susan fussed.

“Am I right?” Marvin asked, slapping Michael’s back.

Michael didn’t respond. His full attention was on Ricer’s face.

“What is it, doc?” Michael asked.

“I can’t find Lucy!” Richer said in a panic.

“It’s okay, doc. She probably just ran off with the other kids. We’ll find her,” Michael assured him.

“No! She never runs off!” Ricer said.

As he stared at the burning cabin, he felt a shiver run down his spine.

Suddenly Ricer started running toward the fire, calling Lucy’s name. Michael raced after him, catching him before he could open the cabin door.

“Doc, wait! She wouldn’t have gone inside there. Just let me look while you go back and check the crowd,” Michael suggested.

“We have to find her!” Ricer said, looking at Michael with fear in his eyes.

All at once the door opened to reveal a man standing just inside the burning cabin. Michael saw by his silhouette that he was tall and wore a long coat and straw hat.

“Doc,” Michael warned. Something about the man made the hairs on Michael’s neck stand up.

Suddenly the man lashed out, grabbing Ricer’s coat and pulling him into the cabin. Before Michael could react, the door slammed shut.

“Doc!” Michael yelled as he kicked at the door, trying to force it open.

Published in: on January 22, 2018 at 6:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Dragon Fire: Episode 93

Late that night in the palace dungeon, Allaster sat on the floor of his cell, chained to the wall as he watched the rats scurry back and forth across the cold stone patiently waiting for the prisoner to surrender to death. Allaster considered all he had lost as he thought back over his life. First, wolves killed his mother as she gathered firewood at the edge of the forest. Then his father died on the battlefield of Ethion. The only light in his dismal childhood was Princess Lillian, and in a matter of hours, he would lose her as well. His father used to tell him there was a time and place for everything. Soldiers did not cry on the battlefield, and Allaster knew he was in a fight for his life. He had fixed his heart on hope, determined not to yield to despair, but as the hours passed, his resolve weakened and he broke down and wept until his tears were spent and he slipped into a troubled sleep.


*          *          *


Allaster woke suddenly to a rapping on his cell door. When he lifted his head, he saw through the bars of the cell door High Priest Zephryses flanked by two of his personal guards.

“You were having a nightmare it seems,” Zephryses said.

“Oh sir, have you come to help?” Allaster asked, knowing the answer the moment the question escaped his lips.

Zephryses laughed, “Dear me no. I have come for another reason.”

With a wave of his hand, the cell door unlocked and opened.

Giving orders for his men to stand guard, Zephryses stepped inside the cell and stood over Allaster.

“The king is convinced of your heresy. Easily done. However, not everyone is convinced. Tomorrow when you die, I fear the princess will use her influence to plead your innocence. So to guarantee my legacy, you must appear guilty.”

“What do you mean?” Allaster asked.

“I will simply see to it that your alliance with Authrax manifests itself,” Zephryses said.

Zephryses took a step back and from his robe removed a small vial. Black flecks whirled through the deep purple liquid.

“What is that?” Allaster asked recoiling.

“A potion I have been working on. It is not as yet perfected, but its power will serve my purpose,” Zephryses boasted.

Allaster drew back against the wall in fear, struggling to distance himself from the mysterious liquid. But with a wave of his hand and snap of his fingers, Zephryses lifted the helpless Allaster into the air then opened his mouth.

He uncorked the vial, releasing a strange, unpleasant odor, then drew near Allaster and poured the foul mixture down his throat.

“Do not worry, my boy. Tomorrow you will die, but it will not be the last time.”

Allaster choked as the purple liquid made its way down his throat. When the vial was emptied, Zephryses stepped back and Allaster fell to the floor.

Slipping the bottle back into the folds of his robe, Zephryses turned to leave but stopped when he heard Allaster cry out in pain. Looking over his shoulder, he watched as the young man he had once called his son clawed at his stomach and writhed in agony.

“Oh yes. I neglected to tell you about the painful effects of the potion. But have no fear. The pain will soon subside and then you will die,” Zephryses smiled.

As Allaster’s cries grew louder, Zephryses moved his hand in a circle then closed his fingers, sending Allaster into a deep sleep.

“Much better,” Zephryses said. “We must not have your cries disturbing the palace guards.”

Zephryses stepped out of the cell and ordered his guards,

“Stay here until dawn. No one is to see him, especially a wayward princess with illusions of liberation.”


*          *          *



Princess Lillian begged her father to show mercy to Allaster.

“He is innocent, Father. He did not do this!”

At last the king shouted,


Her heart broken, Princess Lillian fled to her chambers. All through the night, she paced the floor, planning how she would free Allaster. She would summon help with the reward of a rich purse. Her mother’s jewelry should buy some loyalty. Once Allaster was free, they would leave the country forever. But Allaster had been accused of joining the Children of Dusk. Would anyone dare to help him? Would they oppose the High Priest? As the sun’s crimson light appeared on the horizon, Lillian knew she had no choice but to charge the pyre and free Allaster herself. She cared not what happened to her nor what her father wished. She would gladly die to save her true love.

She quickly dressed in her hunting clothes and waited in the shadows until she saw the guards leading Allaster out of the dungeon. His hands were bound and his eyes wore a look of hopelessness. With bowed shoulders, he stumbled along, turning his head away as the villagers cursed and threw rotten food at him. Lillian steeled herself as they tied him to the stake. As the guards poured oil over the pyre, King Isembart rose and said,

“On this day, it is with great sorrow that I put to death Allaster—.”

Overcome with grief, the king suddenly stopped to compose himself.

“As a boy, he was like a son to me, but when he grew into a man, he joined the Children of Dusk, lost to the darkness that once poisoned this kingdom. I will not let my people suffer that evil again, so by the law set down by Tobias Ashblood the Great, I decree that Allaster a priest of Authrax will be burned at the stake until dead.”

Turning to Allaster, the king said,

“If you wish forgiveness, now is the time to ask for it.”

Overcome by sorrow, Lillian watched as Allaster struggled to speak, to lift his head and once again plead his innocence.

“You have nothing to say?” King Isembart asked. “No defense to offer?”

When Allaster remained silent, the king nodded toward the executioner then walked away, his chin pressed against his chest.

“This is my chance!” Lillian thought.

But when she tried to race forward, she found that her body was frozen. As though bound with rope, her arms and legs would not move.

One by one, the guards lit the torches then turned toward the pyre and lit the wood.

Lillian tried to scream but found she could not speak.

The only sound that filled the air were the cries for mercy as the fire consumed the helpless Allaster.

Suddenly the mysterious hold on her disappeared and Lillian fell to the ground unconscious.

The fire climbed higher and raged until it had finished its work. As the flames died and smoke filled the air, the satisfied villagers began to return to their homes. Lillian slowly awoke but had no will to rise. She heard footsteps approaching her and a man’s voice say,

“Your Majesty.”

“What do you want?” Princess Lillian asked.

“My name is Genfyre, and I believe he was innocent.”

Lillian looked up to see Genfyre extending a hand of help.

Reaching up, she took his hand and fought to stand on her trembling legs.

“You do?” the princess asked.

“He was my friend, ma’am,” Genfyre said.

“Look!” someone screamed. “Something stirs!”

Lillian and Genfyre whirled around and saw movement in the ashes of Allaster’s death.

“What sort of magic is this?” Genfyre asked, his eyes widened.

Suddenly a hand covered in soot exploded out of the remains and the form of a man stepped forth from the ashes.

“Who is that?” Genfyre asked

“It is he!” Lillian said, her heart overjoyed. “My one true love!”

Published in: on January 22, 2018 at 6:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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