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,


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,


“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,


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,


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,


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.


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.”

The Train: Episode 47

“Jake, you and Greg take care of that,” Robert Carpenter ordered the two men.

Dumbstruck, Tommy stared slack-jawed as one of the men, his muscled arms covered with a myriad of tattoos, motioned toward the tall lanky man. The two hunched over and lifted Ronald Brewer’s dead body, blood streaming from the open wound. They carried him out the door to the wharf and tossed him into the water.

“That should give the fish something to feed their young,” Carpenter laughed.

Looking down at Tommy, he said, “It does my heart good to give back to mother nature. After all she’s done looking after us, the least we can do is give back. Jake, go wash off my axe.”         Jake took the ax from Carpenter, walked back out to the wharf, and swished the blade in the bay. Pulling a rag from his back pocket, he wrapped it around the blade and wiped off the dripping water.

When Jake returned the ax, Carpenter hiked it over his shoulder then studied Tommy’s face.

“Now, lad, I know this is a lot to take in, but I need some answers.”

His mouth still hanging open, Tommy looked up at his uncle.

“Seems like the poor lad wasn’t gifted with the power of speech,” Carpenter said.

“I’ll loosen his tongue, Daddy,” Bobbi said, smiling as she slinked over to Tommy and straddled his lap.

“Bobbi, get off that boy! He’s your cousin!” Carpenter ordered.

Bobbi smiled and said, “I won’t tell no one if you won’t.”

Carpenter grabbed her by the collar and pulled her off Tommy’s lap.

Bringing his face level with Tommy’s eyes, he said,


Overwhelmed by his situation, Tommy remained silent, his gaze now fixed on Bobbi.

“Bobbi, you went and broke him,” Carpenter accused.

The young woman only giggled and turned her back to Tommy, running her hand over her backside.

Suddenly Carpenter gave Tommy a hard slap, bringing him back to his senses.

“Where’s the blonde lass who killed my little brother?” he demanded.

Rubbing his burning cheek, Tommy began to think clearly again.

“The hospital,” he said. “Everything started happening right after I hit that guy with my car. She may not be with him, but he’s connected to her somehow.”

“Good boy,” Carpenter said, giving him a pat.

Carpenter straightened up and turned to Bobbi.

“First, let me wrap this thing up. Then I don’t care what you do to him, but leave him in one piece!” Carpenter instructed.

When her smile turned into a pout, Carpenter said,

“I mean it. He’s your cousin for crying out loud. Have some self control.”

Carpenter stepped past her and called,

“Jake, Greg get your gear. We’re going hunting.”



*          *          *



Nicole waited in the elevator as it slowly rose to the floor Michael was on. A good deal of time had passed since she’d left Brewer with Tommy. She kept thinking about what Sherwood had said,

“This is why Michael is so important. He can balance the players and keep everything organized.”

She had always seen Michael as just someone who got in her way, a kind of chaperone. Not once had she considered that he was there to make sure things ran smoothly. She shook her head clear of doubts. She knew her place now and what she was capable of doing. A good warrior slays all who stand before him, but a great warrior slays only his enemy.

The elevator dinged and the doors opened. As she stepped out onto the floor, she saw Dr. Ricer, a look of concern in his eyes. He paused and moved in to give her a hug. Then he stepped back and offered an apology.

“I’m sorry, Nicole. I was just worried about you.”

“How’s Michael?” she asked.

“No change.”

Nicole followed Ricer to the waiting room just down the hall and took a seat where she could watch the elevator.

“Is everything okay?” Ricer asked.

“Yes,” Nicole answered. “I’m just keeping an eye on things. I left Tommy in police custody, but until the train whistle blows, we’re not safe.”

“Well if he’s been arrested and everyone else is dead, I think we should be fine.”


Just then two pickup trucks pulled up into the parking lot outside the hospital. One of the doors opened, and Tommy Carpenter stepped out. When he looked up at the hospital, Robert Carpenter asked,

“Is this the place, lad?”

Tommy and his brothers had kept a close eye on the hospital since all this started.

“This is it,” he said.

“Good. Jake, Greg, Bobbi, you remember I want the blonde and the man Tommy hit with his car. After that, I don’t care what you do.”

“Can we burn it down?” Greg asked, snickering.

“Not while we’re inside,” Carpenter said. “Wait till we leave.”

Greg nodded though his disappointment was obvious.

“Crazy lad’s been obsessed with fire since he saw a sheriff’s deputy lit up,” Carpenter laughed, elbowing Tommy’s ribs.

“Let’s go,” Carpenter suddenly ordered.

Jake, Greg, and Bobbi whooped and climbed out of the truck.

“Bobbi, I don’t want you leaving for the morgue till we’re finished,” Carpenter instructed.

“But, Daddy,” Bobbi protested.

“I mean it, lass,” Carpenter snapped.

“You’ll like this, Tommy,” Robert said as they approached the hospital.



*          *          *



Elliot leaned against the bathroom door in Michael’s room and waited. Nicole and Ricer were seated in the waiting room talking while Lucy went about straightening the magazines on the tables.

A glance up at the wall clock, and Elliot reached into his pocket for his watch. Quickly putting it away, he walked over to Michael and shook him awake.

“What?” Michael asked, sitting bolt upright.

“Michael,” Elliot called.

Michael rubbed his eyes then turned to face Elliot.

“It’s time,” Elliot said. “They’ve just arrived.”

Published in: on April 17, 2015 at 5:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Train: Episode 46

Tommy Carpenter had struck a deal to save his neck from the blonde assassin. He would confess to the hit and run and then say he had murdered his entire family. Ronald Brewer, the spineless traitor, had taken his statement, cuffed him, and now was talking to the two cops in the front seat of the squad car while Tommy sat in the back waiting to be driven to jail. It burned him up knowing that the woman who killed his family was getting away. Taking the deal might seem like the coward’s way out, but Tommy knew he wasn’t finished with her. This would buy him time to work out a plan. Then when he got out, he’d hunt her down and kill her.

A few hours later, the sun was just coming up as the patrol car passed the city limits sign. At this time of day, there wasn’t much traffic on the roads, and the streets were quiet and still. The patrol car pulled to a stop at a traffic light right before a pedestrian bridge crossover.

“You’re going down for a long time, Tommy my boy,” one of the cops laughed.

Joining in, the other cop said, “Yeah. Long time Tommy. I like that. That’s what we’ll call you.”

As the two cops waited for the light to change, a young woman stepped off the sidewalk and passed in front of the patrol car. She wore shorts that barely covered her smooth, golden skin, and as she hurried across the street, she looked up at the officers and offered them a warm smile.

“H-e-l-l-o!” one of the cops said as he leered at her.

Tommy managed to pull his eyes away from the woman long enough to see a truck barreling towards them.

“Look out!” Tommy yelled, bracing himself.

Before the driver of the patrol car could take evasive action, the truck slammed into them head on, pushing them backwards.

The impact threw Tommy into the security screen, and he tasted blood. Stunned from the hit, he struggled to breathe as smoke poured in the car.

In a daze, he watched as two men hopped out of the truck and approached the vehicle. The lead guy headed straight for the car while the other held back, gripping a crowbar in his fist.

“Dead,” the lead guy said after examining both cops.

At that, the man with the crowbar walked over to Tommy’s door and began prying it open while the other man pulled at it.

“No time for this,” one of the men said.

Smashing the window with the crowbar, the two men reached in and began pulling Tommy from the car.

“Careful. He wants him alive,” the lead guy said.

Tommy tried to struggle but he was too weak to do much. As the two men lifted him up, he felt nauseous and then passed out.

*          *          *

As Tommy began to come to, he heard the steady rhythm of dripping water and the scream of seagulls nearby. The pungent smell of sea air and old motor oil invaded his nostrils.

“Wake up, lad,” a man’s voice instructed.

“Yea. This isn’t any fun if you’re asleep,” another voice said.

“Shut up, Greg. That’s my nephew,” the first man said.

Tommy’s eyelids fluttered, and when he opened his eyes, he discovered that he was strapped to a chair in what looked like a warehouse. Through the open front door, he could see several boats being circled by seagulls.

Tommy slowly lifted his throbbing head and saw that standing in front of him was a tall bearded man with thick leathery arms. He looked like an angry lumberjack.

“Listen, lad, I’m only going to ask this once,” the man warned, pointing at Tommy with a doubled-sided ax.

“Did you murder your daddy and brothers?” the man demanded.

“What do you care?” Tommy asked.

Swinging the ax in a wide arc, the man stepped in closer. Tommy could feel the stir of air then the blade’s edge pressed against his cheek.

He screamed then began to pant in terror.

“Answer me, son. Did you murder your daddy and brothers?” the man repeated.

“No! No, I didn’t do it. Some blonde woman did. I think she’s a professional assassin or something. I just agreed to take the fall for it if she wouldn’t kill me. But, believe me, it’s all a ruse.”

The man held the ax pressed against Tommy’s cheek as he studied the frightened boy.

Then he pulled the ax away and took a step back saying,

“I believe you, lad.”

Nodding to one of the other men, he slipped his right hand from the ax handle and extended it to Tommy.

A tall lean man walked over to Tommy and removed the handcuffs.

Tommy rubbed his sore wrists, and when he reached out to take the man’s hand, the large man pulled him in and hugged him.

“I knew no nephew of mine could kill his own kin.”

“Bobbi, you and Jake bring him in,” the man told the girl wearing the tiny shorts.

The two left the room and quickly returned dragging behind a bloody Ronald Brewer.

“Sit down and stay put,” the man told Tommy then looked over his shoulder at Brewer.

Turning around, the large man walked slowly toward the battered detective and asked,

“Is it true that a hired assassin killed my little brother and his boys?”

Brewer looked up through one swollen eye and nodded.

“Is it also true that you let my only surviving nephew take the blame for it?”

Again Brewer nodded.

“Then why shouldn’t you pay for what you let happen?” the man asked.

Before Brewer could answer, the ax came down and its blade disappeared into Brewer’s head. As the detective fell over dead, Bobbi giggled with pleasure and the man said,

“Never mind. Not interested in your answer.”

As he walked back over to Tommy, a smile spread across his face. Lowering himself down to look Tommy in the eyes, he said,

“Tommy, my boy, I’m your Uncle Robert. Your father Russell was my little brother. I’ve been away for a long time, but when I heard about my brother’s death, I knew I had to come back and fix things. Now tell me. Where can I find this blonde woman who killed my little brother?”