Unsettled: Episode 4

“That barefoot guy stole my truck! He’s wearing a shirt with birds or something on it. I don’t know who he is. He was talking to you!” the truck driver yelled.

“Sir, please calm down,” Ray asked. “I promise we will see that he returns your truck. What’s your name?”

“Brian Hunter, and I’m going inside the police station right now to report this, pal.”

“No, please,” Mavis pleaded. “He didn’t mean to. He just got out of the hospital and he has impulse control problems. I’ll get him to bring back your truck.”

“We need to get after him,” Rory said. “If he’s chasing someone, he’s on his own.”

“I’ll get him. Don’t worry,” Kristina reassured them.

“If anyone leaves, I’m calling the cops!” Hunter threatened.

“Please don’t do that. I’ll contact him right now. Just don’t call the police,” Mavis begged Hunter.

“We’re wasting time,” Rory growled.

As Rory started moving towards the truck driver, Hunter raised his fists in self-defense.

“Rory, calm down. You’re not helping,” Ray scolded.

“Oh for crying out loud,” Kristina snapped in exasperation.

Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out a checkbook and quickly filled out a check. Then tearing it free, she said,

“If I don’t bring your truck back, you can keep this.”

As she slapped the check into Hunter’s hand, she announced,

“I’m going after him!”

Climbing on her motorcycle, she pulled on her helmet, started the engine and sped away.

Ray turned to see a slack-jawed Hunter, staring with amazement at the check he held.

What’s wrong?” Ray asked.

Hunter showed Ray the check made out for $50,000.

“That’s a lot of zeroes,” Ray said.

“My truck didn’t even cost that much,” Hunter gulped.

“Where did she get that kind of money?” Rory wondered aloud.

Mavis hesitated for a moment then said,

“When her stepfather died, he left her his entire estate worth about 15.6 billion dollars.”

Ray and Rory were stunned into silence.

* * *

“I can’t believe we stole that man’s truck right after we got out of jail,” Victoria said.

“I wasn’t going to let him get away, especially after killing that cop,” Lucas insisted.

“Technically, we didn’t steal the truck. Stealing is defined as the taking of another person’s property without permission or legal right with no intention of returning said property,” Jack explained. “We have every intention of returning it once we have detained Mr. Heath.”

“The only reason we were able to take this truck is because I’m amazing at sneaking around. That schmuck back there was so busy tying his shoes he didn’t even notice me,” Eddie laughed.

“So how do you plan to stop Heath if we catch him?” Dylan asked “Growl at him?”

As the semi gained speed, Lucas saw Heath’s car up ahead, turning right at a traffic light.

“There he is,” Lucas said. “Someone take the wheel! I’m going after him!”

“Take the wheel?” Dylan asked.

“What are you talking about? No one can take the wheel, Lucas. We may be five minds but Billy has only one body,” Jack explained.

“Then we’ll have to do things the old fashioned way,” Lucas said.

Pulling the semi up next to the car, Lucas clipped the back end, causing Heath’s vehicle to spin out of control.

* * *

Charles Heath braced himself as his driver struggled to regain control of the car.

“What happened?” Heath asked.

“That semi clipped us,” the driver explained.

Heath climbed out of the car and looked in the direction of the semi. It had slowed down and was turning around to come back at him.

He saw that the driver of the truck was the same man he had released from jail.

“Oh this one is going to pose quite a challenge,” Heath said smiling.

Climbing back into the car, he told his driver,

“Lose that semi or I’ll throw you under it.”

The driver quickly started the car, slipped it into drive and pulled away as fast as he could.

Glancing in the rearview mirror, he saw that the semi was coming up fast behind them.

“Things are not looking good for you,” Heath said, removing his pistol and pointing it at the driver.

Swallowing nervously, the driver pressed down hard on the gas in hopes that the engine had been holding back.

As the semi drew closer, Heath pressed the pistol against the driver’s throat.

“3. . .2. . .1,” he counted, pausing between each number. Just as he pulled back on the hammer, he spotted a motorcycle flying toward them. From what he could tell, the driver was a female.

“Saved at the last minute,” Heath said.

Lowering his window, Heath leaned out. As he squinted against the wind, he aimed and fired twice at the motorcycle. The first shot missed but the second one caused the driver to lose control.

“For your sake, I hope that works.”

* * *

“Oh dear. Someone has wrecked,” Victoria said.

“They’d better be okay because I’m not stopping,” Lucas growled.

“That is Kristina, Mavis’s friend,” Jack said.

“Please! We have to stop. She may be injured,” Victoria insisted.

“I’m not letting that guy get away!” Lucas roared.

Suddenly the brakes engaged.

Shocked by the sudden stop, Lucas yelled,

“Billy, wait! We can’t stop! He’s getting away!”

“Sorry, mate,” Jack said. “Kristina is Mavis’ friend, and Billy isn’t going to let her get hurt.”

As Heath’s car drove away, the truck pulled to a stop. Billy downshifted, cut off the engine and climbed out.

Kristina was sitting on the side of the road, holding her arm.

“Don’t move, dear,” Victoria said as Billy checked her for injuries.

* * *

In her fear, Mavis didn’t bother obeying the speed limit as she and Ray raced after Kristina.

“I lost her,” Mavis said. “Where is she?”

“Keep going this way. They couldn’t have gotten far,” Ray assured her.

Up ahead she spotted Kristina sitting in the grass on the side of the road with her arm in a makeshift sling. Billy was busy attending to her wounds.

Mavis pulled the Jeep to a stop and killed the engine. Climbing out, she ran over to Kristina.

“Everyone okay?” she asked.

“No!” Billy snapped.

Billy spun and stared past Mavis. Then in a British accent he argued,

“Now, Lucas, don’t be that way. It was not her fault.”

Still staring off at nothing, Billy said,

“Really? I was this close to catching him.”

As the other personalities continued the argument, Ray checked on Kristina.

“You all right?” he asked.

“I’m fine. When that guy shot at me, I overeacted and lost control, wrecking the bike. I just twisted my arm when I fell. Billy, no Victoria, checked my arm and said I should be okay provided I get plenty of rest and take it easy,” Kristina said.

“Victoria said that?” Ray asked.

“Yea,” Mavis replied. “Victoria has extensive medical experience.”

Ray looked over at Billy, still yelling at no one, and asked,

“So what’s going on there?”

“Looks like Lucas and Jack are arguing,” Mavis said.

“It’s my fault he got away. I shouldn’t have rushed in unprepared,” Kristina admitted.

“No, it’s not your fault. Heath sounds pretty dangerous. You’re just lucky he didnt hit you,” Ray pointed out. “Come on. Let’s take the truck back to the owner and get you properly checked out.”

Ray helped Kristina to the Jeep while Mavis tried to calm the personalities. Finally, she convinced Lucas to take the semi back.

“Come on, Lucas. You did your best. Let it go. We’ll get Heath another day.”

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Unsettled: Episode 3

On the way to the police station, Ray thought over Mavis’ story as he listened to the heavy rain pelting the Jeep.

“So that’s why you were available some times and not others?” Ray asked.

Mavis nodded as she concentrated on the wet road.

“I went to see Billy as much as I could. I’m sorry if my being gone caused a problem.”

“No problem at all,” Ray said. “I was just worried about you.”

Ray grew quiet for a moment then looked intently at Mavis.

“And Billy, you’re certain he’s the one, dear?”

Mavis nodded and bit her bottom lip.

“Don’t worry, sweetie. We’ll get him out,” Ray assured her as he reached over and patted her back.

Mavis quickly looked at Ray then back at the road.

“Thanks,” she said as a tear ran down her cheek.

“He’s still at the police department. A friend of mine who’s watching the place promised to phone me as soon as she sees him.”

“That’s fine,” Ray said.

When they reached the police department’s parking area, Ray noticed a woman across the street leaning against a motorcycle. As the wind whipped her short brown hair, she pulled a green army jacket tightly around her to keep out the rain.

“Is that your friend? The one watching for Billy?” Ray asked.

“That’s her,” Mavis said pulling into a parking space.

Reaching into the back seat, Mavis brought out a golf umbrella.

“Wait until I come around,” she said, climbing out of the Jeep.

As Mavis and Ray squeezed under the umbrella, Rory pulled his Bronco into the spot beside them and popped on a hat before stepping out. Just before they crossed the street to Mavis’ friend, the rain suddenly stopped.

The woman, standing 5 feet 7 inches, looked like she could take care of herself in a fight.

“He hasn’t left yet,” she said before they reached her.

“Raymond Slats, this is Kristina Kay,” Mavis said, closing the umbrella.

“Slats. Yeah. Mavis told me about you. You’re a regular Kojack. She’s always going on and on about the criminals you stopped and the lives you’ve saved.”

“Nice to meet you, Kristina. I’m afraid I haven’t heard much about you,” Ray said.

“No problem. May’s always been a live-in-the-moment kind of person. Other than you, she doesn’t talk much about her life in Whitelake,” Kristina explained.

“May?” Ray asked.

“Yea,” Kristina smiled. “When we were kids, I called her May, and she always called me Kris. That’s the one nickname I didn’t mind having.”

Suddenly Rory chimed in,

“Kristina Kay! I remember you!”

“Stop it!” Mavis snapped at Rory.

“What’s going on?” Ray asked.

“Nothing,” Mavis answered, a scowl on her face.

“It’s okay, May. Really. I don’t mind so much anymore,” Kristina said.

Kristina turned to Ray to explain.

“People around here consider me bad luck. Mavis was the only one who didn’t let that bother her. I was born on Friday the 13th at 1:13 p.m., and my mom’s hospital room number was 913.”

“I get Friday the 13th and of course 1:13 p.m. is 13:13 in military time, but what about the room number?” Ray asked.

“The room number has the number thirteen in it plus, if you add 9, 1 and 3, you get the number 13. People always avoided me like the plague because they just knew I would bring them bad luck.”

Mavis glanced past them to the police station door and spotted Billy leaving.

“There he is!” she exclaimed, pushing past them and running toward Billy.

Ray watched as Billy’s face lit up at the sight of Mavis. He dropped his shoes and caught her as she dove for him. Lifting her up, he brought her close as she enthusiastically hugged and kissed him.

After a moment, Ray saw Mavis whisper something in Billy’s ear. Reluctantly putting her down, he took Mavis’ hand and followed her over to her friends. Ray had never seen Mavis look so happy.

“Everyone,” Mavis said, “this is William Brannon.”

Billy released Mavis’ hand and stepped up to Ray.

“A pleasure to meet you, sir,” Billy said.

“Oh you can call me Ray, son. Everyone does,” Ray said with a smile.

“Yes. Raymond Slats,” Billy said with a British accent. “Retired cab driver responsible for bringing Bradford King to justice. Raymond Slats is the name you’re currently travelling under.”

“What?” Rory asked.

Billy turned to Rory and said,

“Gregory Tavish, formerly of Scotland Yard. Now retired freelance detective and muscle.”

Billy turned to Kristina and said,

“And you are Kristina Kay, stepdaughter of Oswald Zamoura and local expert on bad luck.”

“Mavis?” Ray asked hesitantly. “Is this one of them?”

“I’m terribly sorry. My name is Jack and to answer your question, yes I am one of the personalities residing within William’s fractured mind. I do appreciate everything you have done for Mavis, and I hope to have your continued support should I need it in future.”

“How come you know so much about us yet you’ve been locked away chasing butterflies?” Rory asked.

Mavis clenched her jaw and shot Rory a hostile glare as Jack said,

“Not to worry, my dear. When you were attempting to stop Captain Bonkers, I offered you help, did I not? But before I was ready to assist you, I had to learn as much as I could about you. After all, knowledge precedes victory.”

“Ignorance precedes defeat,” Kristina added. “Sun Tzu.”

“That is correct,” Jack said looking off to nowhere. “I like her.”

Suddenly Billy whipped his face in another direction and in a different voice said,

“We don’t have time for chit chat. That cop could already be dead.”

“Be right back, lads,” Jack said.

Billy’s face suddenly went blank and he stood perfectly still.

Mavis softly placed her hand on Billy’s shoulder.

“Billy?” she asked.

“Yea?” Billy replied, suddenly snapping to.

“Are you okay?” Mavis asked.

“I’m fine. Jack and Lucas are just having another argument,” Billy responded.

“Who are they?” Ray asked.

“Jack is the oldest and smartest. Lucas, he’s the physical one. Always on the lookout for threats. Always protecting me. Then there’s Eddie. He’s sneaky. Talks a lot about hunting. Victoria is the nice one. Whenever I get nervous, she always calms me down. And then there’s Dylan Desmond. He’s kind of what I imagine an older brother would be like,” Billy explained.

“Those are the other personalities I was telling you about,” Mavis said.

* * *

While Ray and Mavis watched with Rory and Kristina, the personalities began to engage in a full debate.

Angrily pacing back and forth, Lucas snapped, “We don’t have time to sit around yakking like old friends. That cop could be dead already.”

“Yea. You just said that. But listen. He’s not going to murder a police detective inside a police station. That would be stupid, suicidal,” Dylan pointed out.

“Technically, if there are no witnesses, he could get away with it,” Eddie suggested.

“Guys, we really should consider how this is making Billy look to Mavis and her friends,” Victoria said.

Ignoring Victoria’s concern, Jack replied,

“There’s not much we can do for the detective right now but keep an eye out. Once he leaves, he will be in grave danger.”

At that moment, an alarm went off and Ray saw police officers near the front entrance jump up from their desks and run toward the sound.

“Told you so,” Lucas said.

Just then Lucas spotted a vehicle pulling out of the police station parking lot. When he saw Charles Heath in the passenger seat, he yelled,

“That’s him!”

* * *

“What in the world is going on?” Ray asked.

“The detective is dead, and his murderer is driving away,” Billy exclaimed as he pointed to Heath’s vehicle.

“Quick. Somebody get the license plate,” Ray answered. “Rory, can you tail him?”

“I’m on it,” Rory said, heading for his Bronco.

“Too late. Someone’s already on it,” Kristina said, pointing past them to a semi in hot pursuit.

At that moment, a man ran up to them, red-faced and angry.

“That guy just stole my truck!” he shouted.

“What guy?” Ray asked.

“Where’s Billy?” Rory asked.

Published in: on September 17, 2017 at 2:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 18

It was about 8 o’clock in the morning when Ryan Hayes left the hospital. He would let Nathan into Elisabeth’s penthouse in Sandy Grotto then grab some of his daughter’s things before heading back to the hospital. The doctor had said she was on the mend, but right now she needed her dad.

“I know it’s a bit much,” Hayes said as he opened the penthouse door, “but it’s my little girl’s first place of her own. I admit I spoil her, but what can I say? She’s all I have left.”

When Hayes turned on the lights, Nathan was stunned. The place was amazing, better than anything he could have imagined.

“Polished wood floors in the living room, carpet in the bedrooms, and marble tile in the kitchen and bathrooms,” Hayes announced. “At 3400 square feet, my girl’s got lots of room. If she had asked, I’d probably have bought two. The main bedroom is Elisabeth’s, but there are two spare bedrooms. Choose whichever one you want. I have groceries delivered, and a cleaning service comes in every two weeks.”

“Impressive,” Nathan complimented.

“Oh let me show you this,” Hayes beamed.

Hayes hurried over to a large set of double glass doors, unlocked them, and pulled them open. A massive balcony looked out over the lake.

“It cost me a little more than I had planned, but an unobstructed view of Sapphire Lake was a must.”

Hayes turned to Nathan and asked, “Did you know that the people who settled Crescent Bay came up with the name Sapphire Lake because the water is as blue as a sapphire?”

“I did not know that,” Nathan said. “It is blue, isn’t it!”

“It is! Anyway, I’m talking your ear off. I’m going to throw a few things in a suitcase and get back to Elisabeth. Do you have anything to unpack?” Hayes asked.

“No sir. I didn’t bring anything with me, other than what I’m wearing,” Nathan said.

“Well tomorrow, I’m taking you out to pick up some things, and when Elisabeth is well, we’ll take you shopping for a proper wardrobe,” Hayes replied.

“No, really, sir. That’s not necessary,” Nathan protested.

“I insist! It’s the least I can do. Mind you if you refuse, I’ll just have to guess your size,” Hayes laughed.

Nathan paused then said, “Thank you, sir.”

“You look exhausted, Nathan. Go get some rest. I’m just going to jump in the shower then get back to the hospital. I’ll lock up behind me,” Hayes smiled, patting Nathan’s shoulder.

“Thank you again, son. My little girl means the world to me.”

While Hayes headed off for Elisabeth’s room, Nathan chose one of the spare bedrooms and collapsed on the bed without bothering to take off his shoes. Glancing at the clock, he saw the blue digital numbers change to 9:00 a.m. He was out before 9:01.

* * *

When Nathan came to, he was lying on the hood of a car looking up. The clouds were a mix of black and deep blue. His head ached, his joints were sore, and he felt as though a great weight were pressing down on him. Slowly he sat up and saw that he was dressed in combat fatigues and a gas mask with a rifle at his side.

Dead bodies and stalled cars filled the streets, and the pavement was buckled and cracked. Some buildings lay in piles of rubble while others stood undamaged. Nathan slid off the car, bracing himself against the hood as he struggled to stand under the weight of the gear. When he walked around to the side of the car, he glanced at his reflection in the glass. Lifting the gas mask, he was shocked to discover that the face staring back at him was not his own.

“What are you doing?” someone yelled. Running up to Nathan, a man yanked the gas mask down over Nathan’s face.

“This air is poisoned! Do you want to die here in the street?”

Nathan looked up to see a soldier frowning at him from behind his own gas mask. His name tag said he was Sergeant Braden Gold.

“Come on! Get inside before somebody sees you!” Gold instructed.

Nathan followed him inside an old grocery store.

“What’s going on?” he asked Gold.

“Don’t be stupid, rookie! You know what’s going on. Captain wants to brief us before we move out, and I was sent to find your dumb butt,” Gold complained as he lead Nathan through the store’s aisles past armed soldiers standing guard in pairs.

“Why do I get stuck with the idiots?” Gold grumbled as he walked through a pair of swinging back doors into the storage area. Standing before a large map facing a platoon of soldiers was Captain Stanley Dukes.

“Thanks for joining us,” Dukes said sarcastically. “Gold, what was West up to that just couldn’t wait?”

Nathan glanced down to see the name tag on his shirt. David West.

“West was out front patrolling. Thought he saw movement. False alarm,” Gold lied then glanced back at Nathan with a scowl.

“Well next time, don’t go alone, rookie,” Dukes ordered.

“Yes, sir,” Nathan replied.

Gold pulled Nathan into a chair and whispered,

“Keep your trap shut and your head in the game. I can’t babysit you and fight at the same time.”

“Sorry,” Nathan said.

While Nathan tried to figure out where he was, what was going on, Dukes continued his briefing.

“At 0100 hours, a scout returned with intel on more food and supplies. I don’t have to tell you how important this is. The enemy is heavily guarding this location, so we’re going to split into teams. Team Alpha will make a direct assault while Team Beta and Charlie will hit the flank. Team Delta will move in from the back and engage any targets guarding the supplies. We need this win, men, so stay focused and don’t be a hero. Follow orders and we will win this day.”

As the men cheered, a side door opened and a large figure walked in wearing a gas mask and long coat.

“What’s wrong?” Dukes asked.

Suddenly gunfire erupted outside. As the soldiers readied their weapons, the masked figure drew two pistols from the coat.

Just then a group of enemy soldiers poured into the room.

In the middle of the gunfire, the figure in the coat fired off the pistols then holstered them and began tossing the enemy around like rag dolls.

A door opened behind Nathan, and he felt himself move involuntarily as another enemy soldier charged in firing his weapon. Nathan spun then ducked, dodging a spray of automatic gunfire. Without looking, he reached out and fired his rifle at the soldier, killing him and two more who ran in behind him.

Minutes later, every enemy soldier was down.

Dukes’ men all turned to look at Nathan.

“What?” Nathan asked worried.

“That was amazing,” Gold said, “the way you avoided the bullets. I haven’t seen anyone move like that since the Prophet.”

At that remark, the figure in the coat whipped around, looked at Nathan then lumbered over. Grabbing Nathan by the collar, the figure lifted him into the air and demanded,

“What’s the name of the universe?”

“What?” Nathan asked, thinking he recognized the muffled voice.

The figure pulled Nathan closer and demanded, “What’s the name of the universe?”

Nathan hesitated then said,

“Starfall.”

The figure paused a moment. Suddenly two bat wings exploded from under the long coat and the figure flew out the open door, taking Nathan along.

Up into the sky the figure flew then dropped down onto the roof of a greenhouse. When a door opened, Nathan was dragged in. After a hiss of air, a second door opened and the figure tossed Nathan inside.

“Who is this?” a man asked. Nathan noticed he was wearing a pair of old Converse high tops with the laces untied.

When the figure slipped out of the coat, Nathan saw that it was a woman. Tossing the coat aside, she reached up and removed the gas mask.

“Elisabeth! Nathan thought. “Older, but Elisabeth!

Her face was scarred, and she wore a patch over one eye.

She reached out and pulled off Nathan’s gas mask.

“It’s him,” she said.

The man took a good look at Nathan then said,

“Nah. That’s not him.”

“Yes! It is,” Elisabeth insisted. “Remember he said he would return through the eyes of another.”

“What’s going on?” Nathan asked.

“No time for questions, Nathan. I have a message from you. This is not a dream; this is real. The butterfly was released and we’re fighting for our lives against Dr. Gishlain and his army. You made a terrible mistake, and now it’s time to wake up and fix it. Do you hear me, Nathan?” Elisabeth asked.

“Nathan,” Elizabeth shouted, slapping him across the face, “it’s time to wake up!”

* * *

Nathan snapped awake in bed at Elisabeth’s penthouse where he had fallen asleep. He looked at the clock. It was 9:30 a.m.

“Nathan?” Hayes called as he walked into the room. “I heard you thrashing about in here. “Did you have a nightmare, son? Is everything all right?”

Nathan looked around and said, “No. I don’t think so.”

The Train: Episode 71

 

As he raced down the street, Michael risked a quick look back. The police were in full pursuit.

“Very good,” he told himself. “Okay, what’s next?”

Step 3: Have a destination in mind.

Even though driving around in circles may seem like a good way to lose the cops in a chase, it’s not. Police officers spend a lot of time in the city and are in communication with other officers and districts. Law enforcement agencies will put out an All Points Bulletin, casting a citywide net if need be. Focus on a point and aim for it. Detour if necessary, but have a destination in mind. It will keep you from being turned around.

Michael raced down the street dodging cars and running lights. He knew that thousands of car chases ended in tragedy or capture, so he needed to lose the police officers quickly and ditch the car. Aiming for the outskirts of town, Michael kept driving east. Worst-case scenario, he would drive the car into the river and hopefully lose them in the bay.

Step 4: Exercise extreme caution at intersections.

Racing through an intersection during a police chase, narrowly avoiding the cross traffic, may seem dramatic, but intersections, especially high traffic ones, are the most likely place to be caught or killed. People tend to focus on their own plans, where they are going, what they will do. They fail to consider others, to be environmentally aware. It is best to drive as though no one can see you so you never expect someone to get out of your way. This driving style is far more defensive and will increase your chances of getting safely through traffic.

Up ahead Michael saw an intersection, so he slowed and planned his next move. A sign just under the traffic light pointed left indicating an upcoming tunnel to the airport. Michael cut the wheel hard and turned at the intersection, following the signs.

Step 5: Take Cover.

Driving faster and outmaneuvering the police isn’t always enough to keep from being caught. A resourceful officer might request that a police helicopter be brought into the chase, providing a law enforcement presence in the air. Air support is an overwhelming advantage for ground officers because the aircrew can keep you in sight. No matter where you drive, how fast, or how well, they will alert the ground force as to your location. To outsmart the helicopter crew, you will need to seek cover, places the helicopter cannot track you.

Michael flew into the tunnel, moving as quickly as traffic would allow. He turned on his low beams and tried not to get too close to the vehicle in front of him. He knew his speed was too fast for the confined space, but he had to exit the tunnel before the police could seal off the other end. Up ahead two cars were stopped, blocking off one of the lanes. The drivers were out of their cars, arguing over a fender bender. Michael slid to a stop, hopped out of the ’66 Chevelle SS, threw the keys to the nearest of the two drivers, and slid into the lead car, a red Volkswagen bug. As he pulled away, the driver yelled in surprise, chasing Michael for a few feet.

“Sorry, pal,” Michael yelled back.

When he drove out of the tunnel, he passed two police officers on the road. Heading for the airport, he knew he didn’t have much time before the cops discovered he was driving a red Volkswagen bug. If he could just get to the airport’s long-term parking lot, he would have plenty of vehicles to choose from.

After pulling in to airport parking, he drove past the front doors, catching the attention of an officer. When the officer yelled for him to stop, Michael stepped on the gas. As he flew past the rows of cars with the officer in pursuit, a van pulled out in front of him. Unable to stop in time, Michael struck the side of the van. He leapt out, made sure the driver was not injured, then ran into the airport.

He had to find a new car and get moving before the police spotted him. Trying not to draw attention to himself, he hurried through the airport looking for a safe exit.

Within minutes, airport security had joined the chase. Michael shot across the terminal but stopped halfway. By now, the airport was crawling with security and police, and Michael was getting desperate. He noticed a small door less than 5 feet to his right. Hoping it opened into a tunnel to the runway, he hurried over and pulled the door open. On the other side of the door was a small room, less than 30 square feet. When he stepped back out of the room, a gunshot rang out, forcing him to dart back inside. He closed the door and began a frantic search for another way out of the room. Any second now, the cops would pull open the door and arrest or shoot him. He felt like a trapped rat. Heart racing, Michael told himself not to panic. As he tried to decide what to do, suddenly the door opened.

 

 

*          *          *

 

 

Dr. Ricer and Nicole headed down the street to the pharmacy to get directions to the public records office. As she scribbled directions on a scrap of paper, the woman at the front cash register told them it was across the street from the public library. With Lucy in tow, they thanked the woman and stepped outside to hail a cab. Ten minutes later, they stood in front of the public records office. While Nicole worked her way through city records, Ricer headed for the library to research the history of the neighborhood. Although the library was full of patrons, Ricer stopped reading when he suddenly felt an uncomfortable presence nearby.

“I know who they are,” the man said.

When Ricer lifted his eyes from the pages, he heard the subtle click of a gun’s hammer behind him. The aisles of the library’s bookshelves were too narrow for someone to stand behind him, so Ricer figured the gunman must be one row over, pointing the gun through the shelved books.

Ricer looked around, hoping someone would see the weapon and bring help, but no one seemed to notice.

“But who are you?” the man asked.

Frightened for Lucy, Ricer glanced toward his granddaughter and saw that she had fallen asleep at a nearby table, her head resting on the pages of an open book.

“Don’t worry,” the man said. “She’s safe.”

“If you want her to stay that way, answer my question. Who. . .are. . .you?”

“Elijah Ricer, and that’s my granddaughter Lucy,” Ricer answered.

“What purpose do you serve?” the man asked.

“I don’t understand,” Ricer said.

“She’s the muscle. He’s the detective. What role do you play?” the man asked.

“How do you know—?” Ricer began.

Before he could finish, Ricer heard a woman’s voice in the same aisle as the gunman.

“Excuse me,” she said.

Ricer heard a scuffle then what sounded like a click before silence. He had a bad feeling that the woman was injured or dead, but he feared that if he moved, the man would hurt Lucy.

“Find anything, Doc?” Nicole asked, strolling over. “The public records’ search was a bust.”

Ricer met her eyes, and when she saw his fear, she drew her weapon. Squaring her shoulders, she raised her gun and turned. Suddenly the man bolted from his hiding place and ran for the exit. As Nicole chased after the gunman, Ricer hurried over to check on Lucy. When he looked into the aisle where the man had been hiding, he saw a woman lying on the floor in a pool of blood.

Published in: on April 18, 2017 at 3:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Train: Episode 69

Michael could see that the figure wrapped in shadows had a man’s build. Just as he ran toward the figure, Nicole drew her pistol. Seeing the gun, the man turned and headed farther back into the shadows. The round fired, cut through the air past Michael’s ear and struck the man in the shoulder. Twisting from the hit, the man kept running, gripping his wound. The back of the burned out rec center opened up to an alley. When he reached what was left of the back door, the man forced his way through and ran into the alley, hurdling a car and running in front of a truck. As the truck driver blared his horn, sliding to a stop, the fleeing man dodged the front bumper and disappeared. Michael stopped and searched the alley. The man was gone.

“What happened?” Nicole asked, catching up.

“He got away,” Michael said.

“How? I hit him,” Nicole questioned.

“You did, but if it slowed him down, I sure couldn’t tell. He’s fast,” Michael replied.

Michael told Nicole what had happened in the alley.

“He’s the killer, I assume?” Nicole asked.

Michael wasn’t listening. His attention had shifted to a cab parked at the mouth of the alley, the vehicle the killer had leapt over in his escape.

“Wait here,” Michael said, approaching the cab.

As he drew closer, everything slowed and his training kicked in.

 

How to investigate a crime scene:

Step 1: Approach and secure the area around the scene.

Before entering a crime scene, ingress and egress must be controlled to prevent contamination of any potential physical evidence. Make a mental note of what you see, hear and smell. Determine if anything looks out of place.

Except for the rantings of the angry truck driver as he drove away, the street was relatively quiet. A few cars passed by, and Michael noticed the smell of burnt fuel. He reasoned that the cab must have been parked in a hurry because it was blocking the alley, something a cabbie would avoid so as not to be ticketed or towed.

Step 2: Initiate preliminary survey.

Conduct a survey of the crime scene itself. Look for signs of entry such as open windows, damaged doors, ladders and the like. Note all sensory readings—the smells, sounds, sights—as before and once again determine if anything looks out of place.  Take plenty of photos of the scene.

Michael placed his hand on the hood of the cab and confirmed that the engine was warm. None of the windows were broken, and the keys were still in the ignition. As he circled the cab, he spotted a small piece of clothing sticking out from the closed trunk, and completing his lap around the car, he saw luggage in the back seat.

Step 3: Evaluate physical evidence.

Reconstruct the events of the crime. Use the physical evidence to answer questions such as: Did the crime take place here or somewhere else? Has the victim or anything in the scene been tampered with? How did the crime affect the scene (signs of a struggle, blood spatter, bullet holes)?

Michael tried the driver’s door and found it was locked. Removing a pair of lock pics from his pocket, he opened the door and carefully slipped the keys out of the ignition. As his eyes slid over the interior of the car, he saw two bullet holes in the driver’s seat and two in the seat behind the driver. Michael slipped out of the car, walked around to the back, and opened the trunk. Curled up on the floor mat, face upward, was a dead man. When he carefully turned the man over, he saw two bullet holes in his back.

Step 4: Prepare a narrative of the scene.

From the collected evidence, compose an account of what happened.

Michael stepped away and looked over at Nicole.

“Well, here’s the cab driver.”

“How do you know it’s him?” Nicole asked.

“The driver’s seat has two bullets holes entering the back of the seat and ejecting through the front with no damage to the dash or window. Plus, the driver has two bullet holes in his back, so he had to be driving when whoever was in the back seat shot him twice. There’s no blood spatter on the front seat or on the back seat. Looks like his killer hailed a cab, probably one at random, climbed in and shot the driver twice in the back with a small caliber pistol. Then he threw the body into the trunk and drove the cab to pick up James Nolan. After leaving the airport, I would guess pretty much after he pulled in here, he turned around and shot Nolan twice in the chest before dragging his body inside and hanging it from the rafter,” Michael explained.

“So he kills a random cab driver just so he can pick up a random guy and kill him in this place which someone, probably him, burned down?” Nicole asked.

“I know. I know. It doesn’t make sense, but there’s got to be a connection we’re missing,” Michael said. “We need to figure out what it is.”

“You know what this reminds me of?” Nicole asked.

“What’s that?” Michael questioned.

“The assignment before this one. Things kept changing. Remember?” Nicole said.

 

*          *          *

 

As they were leaving the scene, Michael realized he still had the car keys.

“Hold on. I’ve got to put everything back the way it was.”

Michael left Nicole and hurried back to the cab. He put the keys back in the ignition then locked and closed the door. Moving around to the trunk, he repositioned the body the way it was when he found it and was closing the trunk when he heard a woman’s voice ask,

“What are you doing?”

When Michael spun around, he saw a middle-aged woman staring at him in horror.

“It’s not what you think,” he quickly explained.

When he stepped closer, the woman let out an ear-piercing scream and ran off.

“Well that can’t be good,” he said.

Checking that the trunk was securely closed, Michael hurried back to Nicole.

“We need to get out of here!” he insisted.

“What happened? What was that scream?” she asked.

“Some woman. I don’t know. She spotted me with the body.”

When they reached Dr. Ricer, he was nervously pacing back and forth.

“What happened?” he demanded.

“What do you mean?” Nicole asked.

“According to history, what was a simple murder investigation is now a city-wide manhunt.”

Published in: on February 16, 2017 at 6:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Train: Episode 65

Nicole inwardly cursed herself for letting her guard down. She had known Lindsey was up here somewhere, but when she’d seen the boy, she’d lost her focus. As though oblivious to Lindsey’s weapon, Kenneth went back to coloring his picture.

Nicole worried that the boy was eerily calm, withdrawn from what was happening.

She heard Lindsey saying something, barking at her.

“I don’t know why you and your friend keep getting in my business, but it’s time to end this. Forget the ‘do as I say if you want to live’ crap. First I take care of you then the boy and his mother.”

“You’d kill an innocent child?” Nicole asked, trying to stall.

“You spend enough time in this town, you learn that nobody’s innocent. We’re all out for number one, and we don’t mind stepping into the darkness to get it,” Lindsey responded.

“You may believe that, but you can’t hurt him. He’s just a child,” Nicole pleaded.

“Your point?” Lindsey asked, stepping forward and closing the space between them.

As he pressed the gun into her back, Nicole knew this was the moment she had been waiting for. In a heartbeat, she turned and twisted the weapon out of Lindsey’s hand and tossed it aside. Then she jerked his arm around backward and threw him against the wall, striking his head.

“You will not harm this child,” she commanded, fire in her eyes.

Dazed from the impact, Lindsey hit the floor and was still for a moment. As he slowly recovered himself, his eyes began to dart back and forth like a cornered animal. Nicole’s instincts told her to move before Lindsey got up, but she stood in place, keeping herself between Lindsey and Kenneth.

Struggling, Lindsey got to his feet and jammed his hand into his jacket, pulling out a pocket pistol, probably his backup piece.

Nicole dashed toward him but he was too fast. He rolled over and shot.

The shot went wide missing Nicole and giving her time to move before the second shot. Grabbing Kenneth from the dining room chair, she fled from the room.

* * *

Two bullet holes in the seat later, and Michael had the boss’ name.

“Mr. Charles Clark, eh? So you’re the big cheese. And Lindsey’s bookie. Well well.”

“So let’s be certain everyone’s on the same page,” Michael said. “(A) you will. . .”

“Leave Cynthia Cooper alone,” Clark finished.

“and (B) Lindsey will. . .,” Michael replied.

“Give himself up and tell the complete truth about what happened that night.”

“Good boy!” Michael cheered.

Just then a gunshot went off in the building.

“Uh oh. That better not have been the last number for Ms. Cooper or I’ll send you to meet Armstrong,” Michael warned.

After listening for a few moments, Michael said,

“Open the door. Let’s go see what’s going on up there.”

* * *

Lindsey slowly walked through the apartment searching for the blonde and the boy. They were in here somewhere.

“Yoo hoo,” he called.

He was far too invested now not to finish this properly. Anything less would be the end of him.

“Look, lady, it’s nothing personal,” he said. “You two were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Suddenly a noise in the bedroom drew his attention. He crept toward the sound, and when he slowly opened the door, he saw two lumps under the covers.

“An old trick,” he thought but decided to be sure.

He stepped slowly up to the bed then reached out and jerked back the covers to find stacked pillows.

“Just as I thought,” he swore to himself.

“I am going to find you,” he called out. “There’s no running from me. Why not just come out and get this over with?”

Lindsey moved back out into the kitchen and checked the bathroom. Empty.

“Where are you?” he asked. “I’m losing my patience.”

When a cough sounded from the hallway, Lindsey smiled.

“Gotcha,” he sneered.

With no hesitation, he leapt into the hall and fired twice down the center.

His jaw dropped in horror when he saw Charles Clark standing in the hallway, blood trickling from two bullet holes in his chest.

“What?” Lindsey asked surprised.

“Peekaboo!” Michael said from behind Clark’s body as two blasts from a shotgun rang out. Lindsey felt the shots slam into his chest just before he dropped to the floor.

* * *

“Well that didn’t even come close to what I expected,” Michael said.

“At least everyone is alive and well,” Nicole pointed out.

Nicole reached for Kenneth and took his hand as they escorted him back to his apartment where his mother was waiting. When she saw them she screamed in fright. Once she calmed down, she asked,

“What are you doing here?”

Just bringing back your son. Apparently Officer Lindsey came here to kill both of you,” Michael said.

“You should call the police,” Nicole added.

Cynthia Cooper stood still with her hands over her mouth as Michael bent down to look Kenneth in the eyes.

“Never give up hope, Kenneth. When things are their darkest, that’s usually when help shows up.”

Just then he heard the train whistle.

Standing up, he reached out and ruffled Kenneth’s hair.

“We need to go, but you’ll be fine now.”

Michael and Nicole walked to the front door of the apartment, closed it, and then opened it again.

Kenneth’s eyes grew wide as he saw that on the other side of the door was a train station. When Michael and Nicole stepped through the door and closed it behind them, Kenneth ran to it and pulled it open only to find the same old hallway.

* * *

“They did it!” Dr. Ricer exclaimed.

Grabbing Lucy’s hand, he ran for the nearest door.

As they escaped to the train station on the other side, Elliot shook his head.

Just before he disappeared, he sighed, “I wish it were that simple.”

Published in: on October 16, 2016 at 10:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Train: Episode 63

Michael and Nicole raced back to the club only to find it closing for the night. Hurrying up to the front door, Michael tried to slip inside.

“We need to get back in there,” he told the manager.

“Sorry, buddy, we’re closed,” the man said, turning the key in the lock.

“But my friend is still in there,” Michael tried to explain.

“Place is empty, pal. I’m the last one out,” the man insisted, pushing past Michael.

“Where could Ricer have gone?” Nicole asked.

“I don’t know. He was supposed to keep an eye on Cynthia Cooper. She’s most likely headed home, so maybe the doc is tailing her,” Michael suggested.

Quickly they headed over to Cynthia’s place, hoping they were not too late.

Just down the street from her apartment, they stopped and ducked behind a car when they saw a black sedan pull up in front of her building. Four men got out followed by Morgan Lindsey.

“Hey, Michael. Hey, Nicole,” they suddenly heard Lucy say behind them.

Straightening up, they turned around.

“Hey, Lucy,” they both said.

When their eyes met Dr. Ricer’s he mouthed,

“They’re here to kill her.”

“You mean tonight?” Michael asked. “I thought we had another day.”

“The timeline has been in a complete shambles since Armstrong’s death,” Ricer explained.

“Sounds like someone can’t make up his mind,” Michael said rolling his eyes.

“It’s not my fault,” Ricer defended.

“I wasn’t talking to you,” Michael said.

Michael looked toward the building and grew silent, lost in thought.

“Michael,” Nicole called.

Turning back to Nicole and Ricer, he said,

“Nicole, go around back and check on Cynthia to make sure she’s okay. I’ll keep the crowd out front busy while you move into position. Doc, are there any changes I need to know about?”

Ricer shook his head no.

“Good. You two stay here,” Michael said, pointing to Ricer and Lucy.

Ricer took Lucy’s hand and moved her to safety, while Nicole headed towards the back of the building.

Thunder rumbled in the distance as the dark, black clouds overhead slowly began to empty themselves of rain.

“Oh great. A showdown in the rain. How film noir are we going to get?” Michael asked, walking toward the men lingering outside Cynthia Cooper’s apartment building.

As Ricer watched in surprise, Morgan Lindsey left the group and went inside.

“Lindsey is the killer now?” he asked. “How many times will we have to prevent her death?”

“Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results,” Elliot said as he approached.

Ricer turned and said,

“Herman Melville.”

Elliot scratched Samuel behind his ears then waited as the dog settled down at his feet.

“What is happening? Why is it so difficult to save one woman’s life? It seems as though no matter what we try, she still dies, just in another way,” Ricer asked.

With the hint of a smile, Elliot answered.

“Since the first man took his first steps, time has been composed of moments linked to critical junctures, moments in time that define how the next stretch will go. This moment in time, Dr. Ricer, is critical. What happens tonight decides what happens next.”

“What if we fail?” Ricer asked.

Elliot paused then said,

“It’s too late to change things now, so I will tell you this. As far as I can see, there are three possible outcomes. One will leave the next stretch of time quiet and peaceful. Two will cost several lives,” Elliot said.

When Elliot didn’t continue, Ricer asked,

“And the third?”

With a deep sigh, Elliot said,

“The third will take the lives of possibly hundreds.”

“Which outcome are we headed for now?” Ricer asked.

“Too soon to tell,” Elliot replied. “All we can do is wait and watch.”

 

 

*          *          *

 

 

Michael casually walked over to the four men who were shuffling back into the car.

Once they were seated inside, he reached out and tapped on the glass. The driver looked up at him then rolled down the window.

“Beat it, Mac, we’re busy,” the driver barked.

“I just need to talk to your boss,” Michael explained, leaning down.

The man reached into his jacket, pulled out a revolver, and shoved it into Michael’s face.

“Like I said, beat it!”

Michael stepped back and swiftly pulled the gun from the man’s hand.

As the angry driver flung open the car door and got out, Michael smoothly disassembled the revolver.

“Give me that back now!” he demanded.

“Which part?” Michael asked, opening his hands to reveal the weapon pieces.

Then he flung the broken weapon over his shoulder, scattering it on the street behind him.

As a taxi flew by, two of the men climbed out of the car and slipped weapons from their coats.

“You’re going to pay for that,” the driver protested.

Michael smiled and said,

“Pay close attention, now. Things are going to happen fast.”

Published in: on August 16, 2016 at 2:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 5

Nathan stood next to Jericho and Elisabeth, watching as the police handcuffed the suspects.

“Wait a minute,” Jericho said turning to Nathan. “I get that after Elisabeth was supposed to have died, I was to come here, but how is it I even knew about the theft? I don’t have any sort of extrasensory abilities.”

“I’m not sure I should say anything,” Nathan said. “Not clear on what’s safe to say and what’s not.”

“That’s the past,” Elisabeth reminded him. “It’s okay to share now.”

Nathan nodded and explained, “While you were giving your statement to the police about Elisabeth’s death, a report of the stolen truck would come across the police radio. After you finished up with the police, you would have rushed off to save the day.”

As Jericho nodded his understanding, one of the police officers walked over and asked Jericho,

“So what exactly happened here?”

Before he could answer, the officer gestured toward Nathan and Elisabeth, asking,

“And who are these two?”

“Well this is. . .,” Jericho trailed off, realizing he knew her name and not her title.

Elisabeth was just about to answer when Nathan said,

“Scorpio.”

“You really have to stop that,” Elisabeth said glaring at Nathan.

“Sorry,” Nathan apologized.

The officer scribbled something on his pad then pointed to Nathan and asked, “This one?”

Jericho paused then with a grin said,

“This is the Prophet.”

The officer studied Nathan then commented,

“You don’t look like much of a fortune teller to me.”

Nathan hitched his head to one side and said,

“Your name is Fredrick Sofia Stafford. You are the first responder on all crimes related to Supers. That’s not because you have a rapport with them but because you’re being punished by your captain. At the last Christmas party, you had a little too much to drink and accidentally hit on his wife. You claim you’re not the marrying type, but the truth is, you’re in love with that girl at the coffee shop but haven’t worked up the courage to ask her out. You dream about your life with her every night while you drink beer and watch reruns of Golden Girls.”

The officer’s face went pale, and he quickly looked away toward one of the other officers.

“O’Connor, what are you doing?” he said as he hurried off.

Jericho and Elisabeth stifled a laugh.

“That will never get old,” Jericho chuckled, shaking his head.

“Excuse me,” Ethan said materializing before them.

Elisabeth jumped at his sudden appearance.

“Don’t do that!” she barked.

Jericho laughed again and said,

“I’ll deal with the cops.”

As he walked over to the patrol cars, Nathan turned to Ethan.

“So how messed up is the timeline?” he asked.

“As far as I can tell, not much. It seems that Ms. Elisabeth’s salvation sent a small ripple out with little to no effect on the timeline,” Ethan explained.

“Well that makes me feel real special,” Elisabeth grumbled.

“There is another reason I came here,” Ethan said pulling a small bag out of his coat pocket.

Releasing his cane, which floated in place, he reached into the bag and removed a Colt 45 revolver with a twice-thick barrel and a wooden stock. On the side of the gun were three number dials, each set at 0.

“Since you will be adventuring through our world, Nathan, I wanted to give you something to help you keep in mind that everything you do has consequences. This is The General. Originally designed for Italian Commander Paulus, this revolver keeps track of every bullet fired. Paulus boasted that every shot he fired hit its target, and he wanted a record of how many men he had killed. Hopefully, the increasing number count will make you think before you act.”

Ethan slipped the revolver into its holster and handed it over to Nathan. Then he pulled out a small wristband made from strips of black and brown leather adorned with a small purple flower. He held it out to Elisabeth and said,

“This is Lavinia, the sightless flower. It has a special enchantment. When the band is on your wrist, your wings will become invisible to the human eye.”

Elisabeth took the wristband as Ethan added,

“It won’t remove your wings. You can still feel them, and they can be used as always. They just can’t be seen. I thought this may help, if you wish to establish a private identity.”

Ethan put his hand on Nathan’s shoulder and said,

“I must go now. I have other matters to attend to. Before I go, though, I ask that you consider the consequences of every future action. Sometimes the best intentions bear the most rotten fruit.”

Ethan faded out suddenly, leaving Nathan and Elisabeth alone.

“Okay. Got that settled,” Jericho said walking up to them.

“Officer Stafford back there has agreed to let us pursue this investigation provided we don’t tell anyone what you said about him.”

Jericho and Elisabeth exchanged a smile then Jericho looked at Nathan and posed the question,

“Where to next?”

Nathan stopped examining The General and asked,

“What do you think?”

Jericho thought for a moment

“How about we go talk with Thymatec and find out why they were transporting a chemical weapon.”

“Biological weapon,” Nathan corrected.

“Seriously, Nathan, you sound like a jerk when you do that,” Elisabeth scolded.

“Sorry,” Nathan again apologized.

 

*          *          *

 

Thymatec Laboratories was a large white building surrounded by well-manicured grounds and a tree lined drive divided by security checks placed at intervals along the way toward the front entrance. Jericho pulled up to the first gate and spoke to the security guard.

“I’d like to speak with someone regarding the attempted theft of one of your delivery trucks.”

The guard reached for his phone and after a few moments of listening to the voice on the other end of the line, he hung up and turned to Jericho.

“Sorry. No one’s allowed on the premises at this time. We are aware of the attempted theft and thank you for your concern. A formal statement will be issued at a later date.”

“We’re the ones who stopped the theft. We just want a few minutes of your boss’s time,” Elisabeth added.

“Ms. Reynolds knows who you are and of your involvement. She conveys her gratitude and assures you that this matter will be dealt with internally.”

The security guard leaned forward and added with a whisper,

“I’m sorry, sir. I’m a huge fan of yours, but I’ve got to follow orders. I can’t allow you to go through. I’m really sorry.”

Jericho nodded and assured him, “I understand.”

“Well now what?” Elisabeth complained as Jericho turned to face her.

When Jericho turned around in the seat and glanced behind him, a look of confusion appeared on his face.

“Where’s Nathan?” he asked.

 

*          *          *

 

Charlene Reynolds, CEO of Thymatec, sat at her desk looking over the records of the Butterfly shipment.

“I don’t understand how they knew it was going to be there.”

Suddenly her phone rang. Frustrated, she grabbed the receiver and barked,

“What!”

As she listened to the caller, she turned her chair toward the bay window behind her and stared out over the lush grounds, a sight that always calmed her.

“Look. I don’t care who he is. I don’t want Jericho or any other costumed hero on these facilities until further notice. Is that clear!” she snapped.

When she turned the chair to slam the phone down in its cradle, her hand stopped in midair. Sitting in a chair opposite her desk was a stranger, a young man, his arms folded across a leather jacket with one black boot resting on his knee. He wasn’t there a second ago. Without taking her eyes off him, Charlene Reynolds hung up the phone and asked,

“Who are you?”

“Nathan Nichols. They call me the Prophet and I need your help.”

The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 4

Puzzled by Jericho’s suggestion, Ethan studied Nathan’s face as though the answer were written there.

“You can see the future?” he asked.

As the last of the fog lifted from Nathan’s mind, he began to piece things together.

“If this is a dream, best to play it out to its conclusion and then wake up. Until then, I may be stuck here.”

“The immediate future. I saw them throwing Elisabeth off the building minutes before it happened, and just now I knew what you three were going to do before you did it,” Nathan explained.

“Have you ever seen something that did not come true?” Ethan asked.

“Yes, I have,” Nathan said. “Earlier I saw a man drawing his pistol, but when it actually happened, his associate stopped him. I didn’t do anything to prevent him drawing his gun at that moment.”

“Well it sounds as though what you see is the probable future. What is likely to happen. But the future is never decided until it becomes the present.”

“Wait a minute,” Elizabeth interrupted. “You said he may have come from another dimension and that would explain why he’s suddenly able to do so much without knowing how. What did you mean?”

“Long ago,” Ethan began, “magic was the dominate force of the universe. But with the advancement of technology, science became a driving force. The more powerful it became, the more it conflicted with magic. Science sought to explain everything whereas magic relied on faith. Like two growing siblings squabbling for room in a small bed, their struggle began to damage the fabric of the universe. They finally tore the universe into pieces, each taking half. Those pieces became what we call dimensions, some governed by science, others by magic. If Mr. Nichols comes from a world governed by science and enters our world governed by magic, he may find himself with abilities he did not have before.”

His brows furrowed, Jericho looked lost.

“What a minute. I only got parts of that. I’m no genius, but—”

“You have an IQ of 110,” Nathan interrupted.

Nathan shook his head and apologized,

“Sorry. It’s reflex.”

“I understood it,” Elisabeth said. “Basically, if he comes from a world with no magic to a world with magic, any dormant abilities may suddenly become active.”

“Oh,” Jericho said with a smile. “Gotcha.”

Ethan locked eyes with Nathan.

“Mr. Nichols. . .Nathan, it is vital that you not make any major changes to the timeline. To do so could create devastating consequences. Have you made any major changes since you arrived?”

Without a word, Nathan turned his eyes to Elisabeth.

“What?” Elisabeth asked just before her face went pale. She looked up at the top of Crescent Bay Hotel then back to Nathan.

“I was supposed to die, wasn’t I?”

Nathan slowly nodded.

“This could be bad,” Ethan said. “It’s too late to fix things now, but perhaps we can steer this car back onto the road. Do you know what was supposed to happen after she died?”

“Yes,” Nathan said without pausing, “a truck carrying waste for disposal from Thymatec Labs is going to be stolen while moving down Coastal Road 720. Jericho was supposed to go from here to there and stop the theft.”

“Good,” Ethan said. “Jericho, go make certain the theft is stopped. Perhaps then the time line will be put back after what I hope is a minor hiccup.”

“I’ll handle it,” Jericho said heading off for his bike.

“Nathan and Elisabeth, you two go with him,” Ethan instructed. “Until I’m certain the time line is back on track, you need to make certain things happen as they were supposed to.”

Ethan turned away, took two steps then disappeared.

“Meet you there,” Elisabeth told Nathan as she spread her wings and lifted into the air.

* * *

It was just after midnight as Nathan sped through the city streets headed for Coastal Road 720. His thoughts were focused on reaching the waste disposal truck in time for Jericho to stop the theft. Each event had to play out just as it was supposed to. Any failure might cause the entire scenario to unravel. He was afraid to find out what would happen to this dream if everything fell into chaos.

Once he left the city limits, he passed Jericho on a curve, but when he reached the staightaway, Jericho accelerated and easily caught up. A few more turns and Jericho stopped about a mile or two away from the truck. Nathan could hear the crash of the waves up ahead.

“I don’t see any problem,” Jericho said as the truck drove quietly along.

Nathan scoured the road then pointed,

“There.”

A maroon four door and a black truck were coming up fast behind the delivery truck, quickly gaining on it.

“Let’s go. I’ll handle the pick up,” Jericho said.

Suddenly the driver of the maroon car pulled out in front of the delivery truck and hit his brakes, blocking the road. Two men, each carrying an automatic rifle, jumped out of the car and yelled to the truck driver,

“Turn off the engine and step out.”

In a instant Elisabeth had landed atop the delivery truck, tucked in her wings, and drawn two pistols asserting,

“No!”

As Nathan drove up, two more armed men climbed out of the maroon car and raised pistols to fire on Elisabeth. Pulling his motorcycle to a stop, he started walking towards the car, his mind sharp, his senses focused.

When Boyce, the driver of the car, saw Nathan approaching, he turned to fire on him, but Nathan stepped to his left as a burst of gunfire tore up the ground where he had been standing. Just as Kevin, another of the gunmen, turned from the front passenger side to take aim on Nathan, Elizabeth shot him in the shoulder, bringing him down to the pavement.

Boyce again fired at Nathan, but a quick step to the right and the bullets hit the grass. Boyce panicked as Nathan drew closer with each step. The two men with weapons trained on Elisabeth opened fire, but Elisabeth quickly dropped down flat on the top of the truck, sending the bullets bouncing off the truck and into the windshield.

Suddenly the black pickup behind the delivery truck flew up into the air in a high arc. Seizing the moment, Elisabeth quickly stood and opened her wings, moving them in a circular motion for lift. With a rush of air, she shot upward, did a 180, and pushed off the truck as it passed over. Firing towards the passenger side of the car, she landed with a thump behind Ryan, the man from the rear passenger’s side of the car.

Boyce kept firing and missing Nathan until he finally yelled,

“Somebody shoot him!”

Before Ryan could react to Elisabeth, she had swept his legs out from under him and in one fluid motion had grabbed his shirt and thrown him into a nearby tree.

“Anybody?” Boyce yelled as his rifle clicked empty.

Caleb, on the rear driver’s side, turned his rifle to Elisabeth, who shot him before he could take aim.

Boyce threw down his rifle and pulled a pistol from inside his coat. Just inches from Boyce, Nathan reached out, twisted the weapon from Boyce’s hand then punched him in the face. When Boyce grabbed his bloody broken nose, Nathan struck him acros the head with the gun.

“What happened to Jericho?” Elisabeth asked moving up beside Nathan.

“He’s dealing with the others,” Nathan replied.

When all six men had been tied up, Jericho checked on the driver of the waste disposal truck while they waited for the police to arrive.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

“A little shook up but fine,” the frightened man responded.

Jericho looked at the delivery truck and a question formed in his mind. After a few moments, he asked the driver,

“Why would six well armed men want to steal a truck carrying chemical waste?”

The driver shrugged his shoulders as he wiped his forehead with a wrinkled hankerchief.

“I don’t know. I’m just the driver.”

As he walked over, Nathan asked the driver, “This truck isn’t carrying chemical waste, is it?”

The driver grew quiet and looked away.

“It’s carrying a biological weapon called the butterfly,” Nathan said.

The Exile: Episode 60

Heckle found an unlocked car at the edge of the park grounds and told me to get in.

“Whose car is this?” I asked.

“I haven’t the faintest idea,” he said as he searched for the keys.

“Nothing,” he said, reaching for the ignition wires.

A few seconds later, we were on the road, headed to the Dark Pleasures club.

We walked inside and sat down at the bar. Filled with despair, I folded my arms on the bar and cradled my aching head while Heckle ordered drinks for us.

Throwing back his drink, he stood up and began to pace.

“I can’t believe it was a set up.”

“Of course it was a set up,” I returned, rubbing my forehead. “I should’ve known better than to think things would go that easy.”

“Well we can’t go backward and do it over, so let’s move forward. We need to figure out what to do next,” Heckle said.

“I know what to do,” I said with resignation.

“You can’t turn yourself in, Wesley. They’ll just kill you and the others,” Heckle insisted.

“Nope, not that,” I replied.

Heckle stopped pacing and turned toward me, waiting for an explanation. Suddenly he grew pale and his eyebrows lifted with alarm.

“You can’t be considering running!”

“It’s worked before. I warned them off and ran. As far as I know, it worked,” I said.

“You can’t just ditch us!” Heckle snapped.

“I’m not ditching you. They’ll reduce the guard on your brother and friends to focus on me,” I explained.

Heckle just stared at me for a moment before saying,

“But you. . . ,” he trailed off. “You’ll be alone again, running with no one to help you.”

I shrugged and said, “I’m the exile. It’s what I do.”

Without waiting for a response, I stood up from the bar stool and walked out. It was still daylight as I crossed the parking lot, my hands jammed in my pockets. Pulling out a five-dollar bill, I walked to a gas station on the other side of the street. After paying for a bottle of water, I took a long drink, capped the bottle then found a seat outside on the curb.

Halfway through the bottle, a car pulled up in front of me, and three men in matching black suits climbed out.

“You guys really need to work on your blending in,” I said with a weak smile.

“You’re needed,” the man closest to me said.

“First you need to agree to let the others go. I’m the one she wants. If she refuses to turn them loose, I’ll go inside, call the cops, and shoot up the place. You’ll probably snatch me anyway, but I’ll make certain everyone sees my face.”

I looked up smiling, one eye closed against the glaring sun.

“Deal?”

One of the men reached up and put his hand to his earpiece. After listening for a moment, he said,

“She agrees to your terms. Please come with us,” he said, opening the car door.

I stood up and climbed into the back. One of the men sat down beside me as the other two sat up front. Resting my head against the seat, I closed my eyes and remembered everyone who had helped me get here.

“At least they’re safe.”