Dragon Fire: Episode 88

When the high priest Zephryses neared the castle of Ethion, he saw King Isembart strolling along the porch. Bending down to the young boy Zephryn, he said,

“There is the king. Stay by my side, bow your head in the presence of his majesty, and do not speak unless the king questions you. Do you understand?”

After Zephryn shyly nodded, the two began to climb the stone steps leading up to the porch.

King Isembart, a tall robust man with a beard reaching down to his stomach, saw the priest approach and with surprising exuberance and agility bounded down the steps toward him with the palace guards, the queen and the princess close behind.

“Zephryses, my dear friend. I knew sending you to the woods was a wise decision. There is no man I trust more,” Isembart said with a deep laugh.

Clapping the priest on the back, Isembart looked at Queen Calathene and asked,

“Did I not tell you?”

Turning back to Zephryses, he continued.

“She did not believe you would succeed. Why the news reached my ears that you moved the elements themselves!”

With a hearty laugh, the king said in jest, “Perhaps I should build a temple to you instead of the gods.”

Although Zephryses found himself somewhat uncomfortable at the idea, he could not help by remember that the captain of the king’s army had made a similar remark.

Suddenly King Isembart noticed the child standing next to the priest and asked,

“And who are you?”

“Al—,” the boy began but was interrupted when Zephryses corrected him.

“Zephryn. The boy’s name is Zephryn. He is my son now and shall be joining me in the church, taking the title of priest when he grows up.”

“Well it is a pleasure to meet you, little priest,” the king greeted. “You know my daughter Lillian is about your age.”

Turning to Princess Lillian, Isembart instructed,

“Lilly, show Zephryn around the castle while I speak with the high priest. Take care that you do not wander beyond the castle walls.”

“Yes, Father,” the princess answered.

As King Isembart continued his stroll along the castle porch, with Zephryses at his side, Princess Lillian walked up to Zephryn and introduced herself.

“I am Princess Lillian.”

“I am Al—Zephryn,” the boy said, still struggling with his strange new name.

Princess Lillian looked around to see if anyone was listening. Then she softly asked,

“What was your name?”

“Allaster,” Zephryn answered, “but the high priest said that I am to be called Zephryn from now on.”

“This change of names is a tradition here in Ethion started long ago by my great-great- grandfather King Estmon. When he was chosen to marry the princess and become king, he wanted to be seen as king and not the boy who grew up in the streets. So he made a law that all who take up the rank of royalty or a position in the church must adopt a new name so they will be seen as a new person for a new age.”

As Princess Lillian recited, she held her hands together and slightly raised her head as she had been taught.

With the sweet smile of innocence, she giggled then said,

“When I become queen, Father says I shall adopt the name Lachert, renouncing my birth name.”

Shyly, Zephryn softly said,

“I like the name Lillian better.”

Princess Lillian leaned in and whispered in Zephryn’s ear,

“I do too!”

As she reached out and took Zephryn’s hand, she said,

“The high priest spends a great while counseling with my father, so we have a lot of time to play games. My favorite is hide-and-seek. Do you want to see some of my favorite spots?”

“Yes,” Zephryn agreed.

With her best smile, Princess Lillian whirled around and hurried into the castle, pulling  Zephryn along with her.

 

*          *          *

15 years later

 

 

Valdis and Trystan raced across the field, the pouch of gold bouncing with each step.

“Why did you have to stab that man?” Valdis demanded.

“He saw you stealing his gold! You would have felt the blade of his knife! What choice did I have?” Trystan snapped.

“Not to stab him! Now we are running for our lives. Know this! I will crawl over you to survive!” Valdis warned.

“If we can just reach the others, we should be safe,” Trystan said, ignoring his threat.

They dove behind a fallen tree in their path to hide and catch their breath.

“Yes, if we can. But in truth, we will be fortunate if we live long enough to be arrested. Did you not see who is after us?” Valdis asked in exasperation.

“A creature?” Trystan answered.

“He is a man, a warrior called the Animal. There are tales of him prowling through the forest at night with a large wolf at his side. They say he never brings anyone to prison because he eats them instead,” Valdis claimed.

“Foolish tales,” Trystan insisted.

Suddenly a long howl came from the grove of trees behind them.

“You may wait and discover how foolish the tale is, but I will not!” Valdis said.

When Trystan tried to rise and flee, he found that his legs would not move.

Valdis jumped up, flew over the log, and tried to dash away, but before he could escape, a man with skin browned from the sun and red hair bright as fire leapt out from the trees and grabbed him, pulling him into the tree line.

Trystan listened in horror as Valdis pleaded for mercy. Then he heard a thump and silence.

From out of the woods, the brown man tramped, blood on his chest and pants. As he held a dagger dripping with blood, his wild eyes seemed to look through the terrified Trystan. With each breath, his great chest heaved. Then he slowly came toward Trystan, growling as he moved closer, his bare feet crushing the roots and rocks beneath them.

Published in: on August 17, 2017 at 1:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Unsettled: Episode 2

The rumble of thunder grew louder as Mavis sped past the Coldwater city limits sign and up to the first traffic light.

“You know, Mavis, there was always something about this town that made me uncomfortable,” Ray confessed.

“Tell me about it!” Mavis agreed. “When my family first moved here, it felt like Paradise. A beautiful new world filled with fantastic possibilities. But the more time we spent here, the more the veneer seemed to crack, letting the darkness beneath show through.”

“So let me get this straight,” Ray said. “William Brannon is a friend of yours who’s just been discharged from the hospital. He sees a man with a gun approaching two police detectives and decides to step in and help. He engages the armed man, takes him down before he can fire a shot at the detectives, and in the scuffle, the man’s gun falls to the pavement. Then the detectives arrest William and the armed man until they can sort things out. Is that about right?”

Mavis nodded.

“And you’re worried that the police may run William’s name through the system, discover he has priors, and assume he’s guilty?” Ray asked.

“Yes,” Mavis nodded.

Ray eyed her for a moment then said, “Mavis, I have a hunch there’s something you’re not sharing.”

“Nope,” Mavis said, keeping her eyes fixed on the road.

Ray wasn’t buying it. He sensed there was more to this story.

As the approaching storm moved closer, the wind picked up and the sky darkened with the great rolling clouds. When it began to sprinkle, Mavis was glad she had put up the top before leaving Richard and Deborah’s house.

“What aren’t you telling me?” Ray asked.

“We’re here,” Mavis said, changing the subject.

Coldwater was an island about thirty miles off the coast of Whitelake. The first thing newcomers saw when they hit the city limits was the city’s oldest restaurant. Its name a play on words, the Cold Waterfront was an icon to the town. Ray spotted Rory’s Bronco in the restaurant’s parking lot. Rory was leaning against it playing a game of fetch with Roddy.

Mavis pulled to a stop, killed the engine and climbed out of the Jeep.

“Glad you’re here,” Rory called. “Let’s get out of this rain.”

Taking the lead, Rory headed for the restaurant’s breezeway.

“How are things with you?” Ray asked.

“Could be better,” Rory answered. “Mavis fill you in?”

“Pretty much. Mavis’ friend William Brannon was arrested after saving a police detective from being shot. The detective arrested both William and the gunman until he can figure out what happened. Mavis wants to get William released before the detective discovers he has a record,” Ray summed up.

“So Mavis told you about the institute?” Rory said.

“You mean the hospital? She said he just got out, but that shouldn’t be a problem,” Ray said.

Rory had a look of confusion then turned his head and frowned at Mavis. When Mavis quickly averted her eyes, anger washed over Rory’s face.

“Mavis Marie Warner! You didn’t tell him did you?”

“I was afraid he wouldn’t help,” Mavis confessed.

“Tell him or I will!” Rory snapped.

“Tell me what?” Ray asked. “What’s going on?”

Mavis hesitated then agreed.

“Okay, here goes. I met William when you were in the hospital, Ray, when you had that mild heart attack. William was recovering from a severe car accident. He had to have extensive facial reconstructive surgery and physical therapy. But he was getting better, just not fully up and walking yet. The moment we met, we fell in love, pure and simple. He was in the hospital for six more months, and I visited him every day. All I knew about him was that he had been a soldier. Really, that’s all he knew, based on his admittance papers. The accident left Billy with severe amnesia, and the only thing he knew about himself was what they told him. The good news was a company called The Neverland Foundation was paying all of his medical bills because he had signed up for a harmless experimental procedure that might restore his memory.  The day he left the hospital was the saddest day of my life. I wasn’t going to see him again for years.  And because of the secrecy of the experiment, he couldn’t even call or write. I didn’t hear from him again until three years ago when I got a call from a doctor at the Morris Greystone Institute about a John Doe who had just been admitted. Whoever submitted the commitment papers had signed my name. When I drove to the institute, I saw that the patient was Billy. He had scars he hadn’t had before, and he was clean-shaven, even his eyebrows. But the worst part was he was catatonic.”

Mavis wiped at a tear running down her cheek before she continued.

“The doctors couldn’t get any sort of response. I started visiting him as often as I could get away, and a few weeks later, he began to show signs of life. The doctors said he started moving, even saying a few words. The only problem was he used a lot of different mannerisms and voices. The doctors concluded that whatever happened to Billy had left him with severe dissociative identity disorder. He showed other signs of the disorder, but the only one they could pinpoint was that he seemed to have five different personalities, not counting his own. The weird part was that while the doctors studied him, they noticed that the personalities seemed to coexist. When they tried to explain all this to me, they said that normally with dissociative identity disorder, one personality at a time is in control. But with Billy, the personalities seemed to be able to interact with each other, even control different parts of the body at one time. One doctor observed that Billy could watch television, read a book, play chess with one of the orderlies and solve a crossword puzzle all at the same time.”

Mavis stopped to catch her breath.

“And that’s what you’re afraid they’ll find out?” Ray asked.

“Yes,” Mavis said.

“No it’s not!” Rory corrected.

Mavis sighed and said,

“Technically, Billy left the hospital before he was cured. The others kind of tricked the doctors.”

“The others?” Ray asked.

“The other personalities. They decided the only way to uncover what happened to Billy was to start investigating, and they knew that wasn’t going to happen inside a cell,” Mavis explained.

Stunned by Mavis’ story, Ray tried to take it all in.

“Now you know,” Rory said, “the real reason why Mavis needs your help. She’s afraid the cops are going to find out her boyfriend is an escaped mental patient.”

“Fiancé,” Mavis corrected.

“What?!” Ray and Rory asked in unison.

Mavis held up her left hand to show her gold diamond ring.

“Before Billy left the hospital in Whitelake, he proposed and I said yes.”

 

*          *          *

 

Billy rose from the cot and walked over to the cell bars. With his forefinger, he traced the outline of the colorful parrots on his shirt. Just behind him, Lucas paced back and forth, growing more agitated with every step.

“We’re getting nowhere locked up like this,” Lucas growled.

“I already know how to get us out. Just say the word,” Eddie bragged.

“For the billionth time, we’re not breaking out!” Dylan said, brushing back his salt and pepper hair.

“I fear we may have to, if something doesn’t happen soon,” Jack pointed out.

“Oh yes!” Eddie exclaimed. “It’s go time!”

“Wait!” Victoria said. “Breaking out of jail right after getting him out of the hospital isn’t going to help Billy at all.”

“We may have no other choice, my dear,” Jack replied.

“Quiet! Someone’s coming,” Lucas whispered.

A medium build man, around 6.2 tall, dressed in a dark blue Italian silk suit with a grey pocket handkerchief, walked up to the cell and looked over Billy. The pomade on his crew cut had a faint vanilla scent.

“When I heard that someone had taken out one of my best men, I had to see this hero for myself. I have to admit, I thought I would be looking at a soldier stepped right off the pages of a magazine. But—.”

The man suddenly stopped talking when he saw Billy’s feet. Billy’s shoes were gone, and he stood in a pair of blue socks.

“Not this,” the man said.

“My shoes were too tight,” Billy said matter-of-factly.

Then his posture straightened as he spoke with a British accent,

“What can I do for you?”

“Nothing really. I just had to meet you. I’m Charles Heath, and I’ll be frank with you. It’s unusual for a man of my expertise to encounter a challenge, so for your sake, I’ll give you a head start.”

Heath paused, put his face close to the bars and said,

“I’m going to burn this city to the ground, and I’m going to give you a chance to stop me.”

The door at the end of the hallway opened and Detective Ethan Snow walked in, followed by the armed man who had attempted to kill him.

“I do hope you try to stop me. Not tonight, though. Tonight we’re just cleaning the board. Before we set up the next game, we need to reset the pieces,” Heath whispered as the detective approached.

“All right, I got him. What do you want?” Snow asked.

“Release this man,” Heath ordered gesturing toward Billy.

“I work for Councilman Parker, not you,” Snow protested.

“Now that is true. But you see, Parker works for me. So if A equals B and B equals C then,” Heath paused, “you work for me.”

Snow hesitated then turned and unlocked the cell.

“You should go,” Heath told Billy. “This next part isn’t for innocent eyes.”

Billy paused, wondering what he meant, then slowly left the cell with his shoes tucked under his arm.

After Billy was well out of sight, Snow faced Heath, turning his back to the failed assassin.

“Now what?” Snow growled.

“I gave you an order. I expect you to finish it,” Heath said.

“I did,” Snow grumbled.

Suddenly the man behind Snow slipped a garrote over the detective’s head then began to tighten it around his neck. Heath stared into Snow’s terrified eyes as he struggled to breath.

As the assassin lowered Snow’s dead body to the floor, Heath watched then said,

“You have your orders.”

“Yes, sir,” the man answered then walked into the nearest empty cell and closed the door behind him.

“Good boy,” Heath said. “Looks like I have a new toy.”

Charles Heath exited the holding cells, leaving behind Snow’s dead body, his eyes fixed on the ceiling.

Published in: on August 17, 2017 at 1:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Train: Episode 73

Without another word, Elliot turned to the station door and opened it. When he stepped through with Michael, they were in the library.

“Come on,” Elliot instructed.

He led Michael to a couch near the lobby where he saw Lucy, crying and distraught.

“What happened?” Michael asked, rushing to her.

“I woke up and. . .and Grandpa was gone,” she said between sobs.

Michael bent down and slipped his arms around Lucy, trying to comfort her.

Looking up at Elliot, he asked, “Is this what you meant by something costing dearly?”

Elliot just nodded.

“What happened, Lucy?” Michael asked.

“I don’t know. Grandpa went over there to use the phone and he told me to stay with him, but I got sleepy, so I came over here and lay down. Then when I woke up, he was gone. I looked and looked, but I couldn’t find him,” the words tumbled out.

“I’m sorry I fell asleep,” she cried.

Michael patted her back and said,

“It’s okay, Lucy. We’ll find him.”

When Michael stood, Elliot motioned for him to come closer.

“The killer took him,” Elliott whispered. “Don’t worry. He’s still alive.”

“Then let’s go get him,” Michael said.

“Not yet,” Elliot replied. “When Nicole gets back, I’m going after him. You still have a murder to stop.”

“Where is she anyway?” Michael asked.

At that moment, Nicole walked into the library. When she saw them, she came over.

“I lost him,” she said, trying to catch her breath. “Frustrating!”

Then looking around, she asked, “Where’s Ricer?”

“The killer took him,” Michael whispered.

“When? How?” Nicole asked.

“When you were away,” Michael snapped.

“Me?” Nicole defended.

Before either of them could say another word, Elliot barked impatiently,

“Silence!”

“You both did what you thought was right. Unfortunately, neither of you thought ahead. This killer is on to you. He knows all about you. That’s why this has been so difficult. How and why he knows, I can’t say. But now that Ricer’s been taken, it’s time for me to get involved. I’ll get Ricer back. You two deal with the others,” Elliot ordered.

“Others? What others?” Michael asked.

“I think there’s more than one killer,” Nicole explained. “I chased one out of the library but lost him in traffic. Then I saw another one atop a four-story building not seconds after losing him. I was supposed to think this was the work of one person, but no one could move that fast. There’s got to be at least two.”

“Given what’s happened, you’d better hope the killer and his helpers haven’t had the chance to regroup. Get back on this while I find Ricer,” Elliot ordered.

“Come on, Lucy. Let’s go find your grandpa,” Elliot said as he extended his hand to her.

He walked her over to the stairwell door, opened it, and just before they stepped through to the train station on the other side, he turned toward Michael and Nicole.

“Hurry!” he warned, closing the door behind them.

Michael looked at Nicole.

“We have to assume this killer has a fallback position for the other two, a place they would meet up,” he said.

“Why do we have to assume that?” Nicole asked.

“Because otherwise we have nothing,” Michael replied.

Nicole nodded then gazed out the window.

“Who is this person?” she asked.

“Someone who has had contact with us before. Otherwise, how would he know anything about us? Ever since we started this train thing, I’m been worried that one day we’d run into an old enemy or contact,” Michael confessed.

“I have to admit, I never thought about that,” Nicole returned.

“Take me to where he lost you, where the two tried to trick you,” Michael suggested.

* * *

A few minutes later they were out on the street. The sun had gone down and traffic was light. People headed home from work while night crews arrived to start their shifts and restaurants and clubs filled up with patrons ready for a night out on the town.

Michael stood on the curb and closed his eyes, listening to the city.

How to evade capture in a manhunt:

Step 1: Stay in a rural area.

Most manhunts start in the city or somewhere near the scene of the crime. Police may quickly set up roadblocks and establish checkpoints. In the city, you will have difficulty finding your way through the maze of streets without running into law enforcement, but since rural areas are too expansive for the police to search thoroughly, the country is a better place to hide out.

They were far away from the country, so Michael marked that possibility off the list.

Step 2: Seek help.

If you know someone you haven’t spoken to or contacted in a while, that person may be able to help you hide out, especially if they don’t know what you’re going through. You do well to leave your hiding place early in the morning and try to disappear in the morning traffic.

Since this killer was confident and probably domineering, insisting his followers stay loyal to him and keep their mouth shut, Michael knew it was unlikely his helpers would run to friends. He dismissed this possibility as well.

Step 3: Stay away from all motels within a fifty-mile radius of your escape.

Usually the first place the police will check is parking lots for stolen or out-of-state license plates. They will question the motel staff to find out if anyone matching your description has recently checked in. If you have no choice but to stay in a motel, avoid the low-rent ones and stay in expensive ones instead. Police are more likely to check low-rent motels, assuming you have little to no cash. Always pay in cash or use prepaid credit cards.

The killer and his crew weren’t running from the police, so they wouldn’t be concerned about the fifty-mile radius. But a hotel or motel would be a good place to go, especially if they needed somewhere safe to hide out.

When Michael opened his eyes, he looked around for the first available cab.

“Come on,” he said as he hurried over to catch a ride.

Climbing in the back seat, he waited until a confused Nicole slid in beside him. Then he asked the driver,

“Where’s the nearest expensive motel?”

The cabbie thought for only a moment before rattling off a name.

“Take us there,” Michael directed.

“Can’t wait, huh?” the cabbie laughed as he started the engine and pulled out into traffic.

Published in: on June 18, 2017 at 10:52 pm  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 72

As the gunman ran through the library, Nicole kept after him. She couldn’t get a good look at his face with the cap pulled down over his head. Like a gazelle, he bounded down the stairs taking three and four at a time. When he hit the first floor lobby, he ran through a large group of people without slowing then exploded through the front doors, flipping forward over the stairs and hitting the pavement in a full sprint. Nicole kept him in her sights, knowing he’d tire before she. Across an open courtyard and around a fountain the gunman ran without slowing. Nicole easily cleared the fountain and was just gaining ground when the killer entered a tunnel that ran from the courtyard to the street. The well-lit tunnel was empty except for a woman walking with her small child.

Nicole pushed herself, picking up speed. If the killer held the woman at gunpoint, Nicole knew she’d have him. She was a crack shot and never missed her target. Suddenly, the killer headed towards the mother, unaware of the danger, and dipped, scooping up the child in his arm and snatching her away.

“No! Stop!” the terrified mother screamed as the killer fled with the startled child.

Concerned for the child’s life, Nicole raised her pistol, aiming for the man’s shoulder.

But when he reached the street busy with traffic, he leapt over a parked car and dropped the crying child in the middle of the street. Nicole quickly cleared the parked car and grabbed the child before she could be hit.

After returning the child to her mother, Nicole patrolled the area, walking back and forth as she searched for the killer.

All of a sudden, she spotted him standing on the roof of a four-story apartment building across the street, shaded by the rays of the dying sun.

Nicole squinted against the light to get a better look.

“Same height, same clothes. That’s got to be him. But how did he get up there so fast?”

The killer stood perfectly still as he watched Nicole for a moment before turning and disappearing.

“Something’s not right. I wounded him. How is he moving so fast,” she wondered.

“Thank you,” the mother said as she came up to Nicole. “Who was that horrible man?”

“I wish I knew,” Nicole replied, her eyes scanning the area.

 

*          *          *

 

Out of time and nowhere to hide, Michael set his jaw and turned to face whoever was coming through the door. He didn’t want to hurt anyone, but this crazy plan of his to distract the cops had gone south quicker than he expected.

Light poured into the room and Michael saw the silhouette of a man standing in the doorway.

“Idiot!” muttered Elliot Tombs.

“You?” Michael asked.

“Yes, you imbecile. Hurry and get out here!” Elliot ordered.

Michael quickly slipped through the door into the train station.

“Thank you,” Michael said.

“Just doing my job,” Elliot replied as he closed the door.

“What now?” Michael asked.

“Well first,” Elliot said, “this.”

He reached out and smacked Michael upside the head.

“You never leave your team!” Elliot barked.

“But I needed to draw the cops away,” Michael defended.

“Noble causes aside, you can’t protect someone if you’re nowhere near them. Leaving them in a safe location instead of dragging them into a firefight may feel like the right thing, but when things go bad as they usually do, you’ll be nowhere near them to help. Now because I’m busy helping you, there’s no one watching out for the others,” Elliot argued.

“Nicole is with them. She’s more terrifying than anyone I’ve seen so far,” Michael joked.

“Enough!” Elliot snapped. “You’re not taking this seriously, and it’s going to cost you dearly.”

“Wait,” Michael said. “What do you mean?”

 

 

*          *          *

 

 

Dr. Ricer hurried over to the woman and checked her pulse. When he saw that she was dead, there was nothing he could do for her, he awoke Lucy and headed for the nearest phone.

“This doesn’t fit. No one was supposed to die here,” he thought.

Once he found a phone, he told Lucy to stay beside him while he made a call. He dialed 911 and waited for an operator to answer. When she came on the line, he told her about the woman’s body, what had happened, and explained that he only got a glimpse of the man as he fled the library. She told him to wait on the line, but he quickly ended the call.

Looking down at his side, he saw that Lucy was no longer there. He spun around and sighed in relief when he saw that she had crawled onto a nearby couch and fallen asleep again.

As he watched her sleeping, he couldn’t stop worrying about her.

“I wish I had just called your parents to pick you up. This is no place for a child,” he said softly.

At that moment, Ricer felt someone move up behind him. But before he could turn around, a man’s voice said,

“I could not agree more. This is a dangerous place for one so young.”

Ricer froze. He had heard this same voice in the bookshelves before the woman was shot.

“You know it’s quite noble calling the police like that,” the man said. “Shame they’ll be too late.”

Turning slowly, Ricer saw the man’s face, his eyes staring deeply into Ricer’s.

“You!” Ricer said in surprise.

“So that’s who you are,” the killer laughed. “You’re the smart one.”

“How did you—” Ricer began.

“Get here?” the man interrupted.

“Even an alpha wolf needs a pack,” the killer smirked.

Looking back toward the aisle where the dead woman lay, the man said,

“Sorry about her, but you know how rambunctious kids can get.”

As Ricer backed up to shield Lucy he said “If you hurt her,”

“Don’t worry. I’m not here for her,” the killer smiled as he reached out for Dr. Ricer.

 

Published in: on May 18, 2017 at 3:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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 Cadillac Diaries: Episode 84

It was early morning as Ray drove the Cadillac down a twisting gravel road. Rory had made himself comfortable in the passenger seat, and Pete was settled down beside Ray. In the back, Roddy pressed his nose against the glass of the lowered window, enjoying the wind on his face.

“What brings us all the way out here?” Rory asked.

“I don’t know yet,” Ray replied. “I got a call from Richard this morning telling me to drive out here as soon as possible.”

“Think it’s the clown?” Rory asked.

“Probably,” Ray answered.

After rounding a few more curves, throwing up dust and gravel, Ray spotted several police cars, a crime scene van, and the city coroner up ahead.

“I hope Calvin Nash is here. I have a few choice questions for him,” Ray said.

“The coroner? I thought you knew, Ray,” Rory said.

“Knew what?” Ray asked.

“Nash is dead. Found in one of the body drawers in the morgue with two bullets in him and a black pawn clasped in his hands,” Rory explained.

Ray sighed deeply. Nash had been up to his eyeballs in the cover-up of Bonkers’ murdered family. When Ray found out about it a few months ago, he figured Bonkers might come after Nash. He should have done something, said something. But at the time, he had been focused on other things. How many more people would die because of Captain Bonkers?

“This is getting out of hand!” Ray snapped.

“Getting?” Rory disagreed. “This was out of hand the moment Bonkers hung a body out a window.”

Pulling alongside Richard’s car, Ray shut off the engine and climbed out.

Richard spotted them and headed their way just as Pete hopped out of the car and sniffed the air. Suddenly he barked twice and started running.

“Pete, no!” Richard yelled, running after him.

When he got close enough, Richard scooped him up and carried him back to Ray.

“Hold him, Ray,” Richard said, handing over Pete. “Normally, his antics are amusing, but I know what he’s after and I can’t let him loose. This is a crime scene.”

“What’s going on?” Rory asked.

“Evelyn Caine is dead. Her remains were found this morning by a farmer who owns this property. He was out checking the fence when he found her.”

“How bad is it?” Ray asked.

“The coroner’s not finished yet but looks like she was shot twice, once with an arrow, then torn apart by dogs. Animal control’s still searching the property. So far, they’ve rounded up six of them.”

“Man!” Rory responded. “That is a deep level of hatred.”

“Looks like someone, I’d guess Bonkers, backed up a moving van, got Caine out, then make her record something before she died.”

“May I hear it?” Ray asked.

Richard pulled out the recorder, pressed the play button through the plastic evidence bag, and the three listened closely to Evelyn Caine’s words.

When the recording stopped, Ray asserted,

“He’s headed for King. There’s no one else left.”

“Are you certain about that?” Clive Morgan asked as he walked over.

“Positive,” Ray answered.

“Then let’s move!” directed Morgan.

 

*          *          *

 

Forty-five minutes later, they waited outside Bradford King’s office building. Police officers filled the parking lot as the SWAT moved forward, waiting for Clive Morgan’s orders. His brow furrowed, Ray looked at Richard and asked,

“Will King even let you in? He probably has his guards on high alert.”

“No doubt this place is like a fortress. Rumor has it his guards have orders to shoot anyone who doesn’t work here,” Rory added.

“That’s why I stopped and got a warrant on the way over,” Richard explained. “If King is guilty of everything he’s accused of, the last thing I want is for him to get off on a technicality.”

“Got it,” Ray said, slowly standing up.

“Not happening, Ray. You’re staying right here,” Richard ordered.

“What?” Ray objected.

“Sorry. I’m not just keeping a promise to Deborah. I can’t guarantee your safety inside. Stay here or I’ll have to arrest you,” Richard warned.

When Ray started to protest, Rory clapped a hand on his shoulder and said,

“We’ll stay here.”

Looking from one man to the other for confirmation, Richard finally said,

“Thank you.”

As Richard headed over to Morgan, Ray complained,

“I can’t believe you volunteered us to sit it out.”

“I didn’t. Come on. Let’s get inside,” Rory said.

“How do you propose to do that? Richard was our only way in,” Ray asked.

“I have a man inside,” Rory smiled. “Follow me.”

Rory lead Ray around to the side of the building then knocked on the first door.

“Who do you have on the inside?” Ray asked.

Just then the door opened and Tommy poked his head out.

“I really don’t think this is a good idea, mate,” he asserted.

“Well you picked out that shirt, so clearly you have a poor sense of judgment,” Rory said, pulling the door open.

“Sod!” Tommy spat as Rory slipped past him.

A few feet into the room, Ray saw a long hallway filled with boxes and double doors at each end. He stopped when he spotted Tyler Clay.

“Hello, Ray,” Tyler said.

“You shouldn’t be here,” Ray teased.

“Yea, my boy takes the law quite seriously, doesn’t he?” Tyler smiled.

“Morgan actually told Richard he wasn’t as good a cop as you,” Ray said.

“Forget Morgan. He always was a tosser,” Tyler laughed.

Then looking at Tommy, he asked,

“I get it right that time?”

Tommy gave him a thumbs up as he closed the door and locked it.

“All right now. What’s next?” Tyler asked Rory.

“I don’t know. My plan stopped at the door,” Rory said.

“You git. Only you would walk us into the lion’s den with no exit plan,” Tommy scolded.

“Guys, focus. We need to get to King before Bonkers does,” Ray pointed out, slipping through the double doors and entering the hallway.

As the men followed Ray, Tyler added,

“And we need to move before we’re arrested for interfering!”

“Or before King’s guards shoot us,” Tommy said.

“Okay. Okay. So maybe this wasn’t the best plan,” Rory admitted.

“Now you say that?” Tommy asked.

“Hey! I did my part,” Rory said. “I got us in.”

“That was my job, mate,” Tommy insisted.

“But it was my plan,” Rory defended.

“Fellows, please,” Ray said, trying to calm them down.

Suddenly the doors at the end of the hall opened and King’s security poured in.

“Take cover!” Tyler yelled.

Just as they all dove behind the boxes, the guards opened fire.

“I hope you survive this so if I die, I can haunt you!” Tommy yelled out.

Ignoring the remark, Rory asked, “What now? We’re pinned down.”

“Give me a second to think,” Ray demanded.

Pressed between the wall and a stack of boxes, Ray heard the double doors at the other end of the hall open. When he peeked around the containers, his heart jumped and his chest tightened as through the doors stepped Captain Bonkers, pistols raised.

The Train: Episode 70

“Oh great. A city-wide manhunt is going to make slipping around unnoticed very difficult,” Nicole said.

“I think that’s the idea,” Michael suggested.

Nicole furrowed her brow and said,

“What do you mean? You think he’s doing this on purpose?”

“Yep,” Michael said as he noticed passersby going out of their way to avoid them.

“How is that possible? We had just gotten here off the train when things started changing. How could he have known what we were up to?” Dr. Ricer asked.

Before Michael could answer, police sirens diverted their attention.

“Seriously?” Michael snapped. “Average police response time is 9-12 minutes, and I know we haven’t been standing here that long.”

“They must have been nearby,” Ricer said.

“Or on edge,” Michael suggested.

“Or the killer called them ahead of time,” Nicole added.

“Now what are we going to do?” Ricer asked.

“We have to lose them, or they’ll be after us the whole time we’re here, making our investigation pretty much impossible,” Nicole warned.

All of a sudden, two patrol cars came sliding around the corner, lights flashing, just as a ’66 Chevelle SS pulled to a stop in front of the pharmacy next door.

Everything seemed to slow and fade out as a plan began to form in Michael’s mind.

How to evade the police in a car chase:

Step 1: Choose your ride.

If you have the option, pick a vehicle that handles easily, given the terrain, but also blends well. A shiny sports car may help you escape, but if you stand out, you won’t be able to hide for long.

“I have an idea,” Michael said.

“Great. Tell us later. We need to move,” Nicole advised.

“That’s part of my plan,” Michael returned.

Michael saw that people were watching them, and he knew exactly what to do. Turning to Ricer he said,

“Sorry, Doc.”

He threw a weak right cross at Ricer, knocking him backwards, then turned and shoved Nicole. Quickly reaching into his bag, he pulled out his pistol and fired twice into the air.

While Ricer and Nicole tried to recover, Michael bolted for the Chevelle and jumped the hood just as the driver was getting out.

“Hey!” the guy yelled in protest. But when Michael shoved the pistol in his gut, the man went silent.

“Keys now!” Michael demanded.

When the driver handed over the keys, Michael shoved him out of the way and jumped into the driver’s seat. Turning over the engine, he threw it into gear, stepped on the gas, and peeled out of the parking space.

Step 2: Don’t get out and keep moving.

Although you may be tempted, ditching a car for the stealthy approach is a bad idea while the police are after you. Wait until you’ve lost them. The cops and environment may try to slow you down, but stopping is a certain death sentence. Slow down as necessary but avoid stopping at all costs. Keep moving and always have an exit plan.

Michael sped away with the police on his tail.

 

*          *          *

 

Dr. Ricer sat on the concrete, shaken by Michael’s behavior. While Nicole brushed the dirt off her slacks, a couple hurried over to Ricer and helped him up off the sidewalk.

“Are you two okay?” the woman asked, trying to comfort them.

“Yes, yes,” Ricer replied, rubbing his jaw.

“You two are so lucky,” the man said.

“Why do you say that?” Nicole asked, still fuming from Michael’s push.

“Oh my dear, that man!” the woman asked.

“The guy who punched you just murdered a cab driver!” the man explained.

Ricer and Nicole exchanged a glance as two more patrol cars shot by in pursuit of Michael.

“Do you need a doctor?” the woman asked.

“No thanks. We’re fine,” Nicole said, grabbing Michael’s bag. “Come on, Doc.”

Nicole and Ricer walked down the street and disappeared around a corner. When she was certain no one was watching, she threw down the bag and spat,

“That idiot!”

“What?” Ricer asked.

“Michael!” Nicole barked. “That imbecile just put himself in the crosshairs to keep us safe.”

“I think his plan was to distract the cops so we could keep investigating,” Ricer said.

“I know,” Nicole sighed, her voice suddenly softening. “It’s just that. . .”

“What?” Ricer asked.

“Oh nothing,” Nicole replied.

After a moment Ricer asked,

“So what should we do now?”

Nicole looked off in the distance as she thought before answering,

“This killer’s after something. Something is attracting him to these places.”

“I don’t know what it could be. One location didn’t even exist until two years ago,” Ricer informed.

“Maybe not, but there’s something there.  We need to check public records, anything that may lead us to what happened, what led the killer to target these places,” Nicole reasoned.

“Should we warn the police or the people who live there? One of the places is an apartment building,” Ricer said.

“If it’s necessary. But I don’t believe that’ll stop the killer. What is it about these places that’s drawing him?” Nicole wondered.

“Is Mr. Michael mad at you, Grandpa?” Lucy asked.

“No, dear. He’s just taking care of a problem so we don’t have to,” Ricer explained.

Ricer looked at Nicole and asked,

“Where to now?”

“The public records office. They may have something. Come on,” Nicole directed.

The Cadillac Diaries: Episode 83

Clive Morgan, head of the mayor’s task force, stood in the charred remains of the gentlemen’s club Apollo Fire pushing aside bits of debris with the toe of his shoe. Fire Rescue, still searching through the ruins, had already uncovered thirty bodies.

Morgan heard a car pull into the parking lot and turned to see Detective Richard Clay and Raymond Slats.

As they approached, Morgan greeted,

“Boys.”

“How many victims so far?” Richard asked.

“I stopped counting at thirty,” Morgan said with disgust. “Never seen anything like this.”

“He’s getting more violent, more aggressive,” Richard observed.

“Any idea what he’s after?” Morgan asked.

“Not really. I—,” Richard began.

“Bradford King,” Ray broke in.

“Bradford King,” Richard repeated.

Morgan studied the faces of both men for a moment then said,

“Richard, you’re a good cop. And a great detective. Course you’re not as good as your daddy, but you’re getting there. Everybody on the force respects you. That being said, some of us suspect that your recent success comes from this mysterious father-in-law of yours whose life apparently began when he started driving a cab for the city of Whitelake.”

Morgan looked straight at Ray and asked,

“So what were you doing before your cabbie days, Mr. Slats?”

“Dog groomer,” Ray replied.

“What’d I tell you?” Morgan said holding out a hand, “Mysterious.”

“No disrespect intended, but let’s just cut the charades. Instead of talking to the puppet, let’s hear what Geppetto has to say,” Morgan requested as he looked at Ray. “Spill it, old timer. What makes you think this clown is headed for King?”

“For the same reason you won’t find the body of Evelyn Caine. Captain Bonkers is acting out a plot of revenge to destroy the people who ruined him. Every person he’s killed has either worked directly for King or been associated with him in some way. Not only did Bonkers kill whoever answered to King but also he left behind a marker with each victim. A game piece from a chessboard. In his twisted mind, each of these people represents a piece of a figurative chessboard that protects King in some way. Bonkers has been slowly working his way up the line until he reaches the final piece on the board, the king.”

For a moment, Morgan considered what Ray had said then asked,

“If that’s true, then why isn’t Evelyn Caine’s body here? On display like all the other victims.”

“I think Caine ordered the hit on Bonkers’ family and King approved it. If my theory is correct and Bonkers is acting out his revenge, Evelyn Caine’s his next victim. She may still be alive but not for long,” Ray explained.

 

*          *          *

 

When Evelyn Caine regained consciousness, she was lying on a cold wooden floor. Her head throbbed, and as she reached up to touch the spot, she discovered that her hands were bound. A thick musty smell filled her nostrils, and she gagged at the stench. Except for a few pinpricks of light, the room was dark.

Struggling to her feet, she felt nauseous and her head began to spin. She reached out with her foot and hit what seemed to be a wall. Bracing herself against it, she let her eyes adjust to the dark while she waited for the nausea and dizziness to pass. When she strained against the dark to see where she was, she saw that she was in the back of a large truck.

Suddenly she heard the cab door slam shut and the handles of the rear cargo doors click as someone opened them.

There he stood, barely visible in the low light.

“I don’t know how you did it, but you will regret getting her involved,” Caine said angrily. “She will betray you the moment she no longer needs you.”

When Captain Bonkers pulled out his pistol and quickly fired a shot into the air, Caine jumped. Her ears still ringing, she looked up to see that Bonkers was motioning for her to come closer.

At first she hesitated, but then she realized that if she got closer, she might have a chance to get the gun away from him. Walking to the edge of the truck, she looked out. They were in the country in the middle of a field with no houses nearby.

Bonkers lowered the ramp and motioned for her to walk down onto the grass. She decided she would collapse, falling into him and grabbing the gun. But the second she came close, he backhanded her and pushed her down the ramp.

As she struggled to recover her balance, she saw that just behind Bonkers was a large box covered with a tarp.

Looking from the box into Bonkers’ cold eyes, she saw that he was holding up a tape recorder and a piece of paper. When she read what was on the paper, she protested,

“I’m not reading that!”

In response, Bonkers shot her in the foot.

Crying out in pain, Caine fell to the ground and Bonkers squatted down next to her, again holding out the piece of paper.

Reluctantly, she took the paper and began to read as Bonkers held the recorder to her mouth.

“My name is Evelyn Caine. Working with Bradford King, I have cost the lives of hundreds. Most of them I had killed because they were a threat to me. Others because they insulted me. I deserve no more than the same mercy I offered to others. Don’t bother burying me for like Jezebel, only the dogs will remember me.”

Bonkers turned off the recorder, tucking it into his pocket, and retrieved the paper.

As she slowly stood, Caine winced at the pain in her wounded foot.

“What now?” she asked. “Don’t you want revenge, you weak simpleton?”

Bonkers motioned with the gun toward the open field.

“I’m not going to run away so you can just shoot me in the back. If you want to kill me, you’ll have to shoot me in the face,” Caine yelled.

Bonkers turned to the box and removed the tarp. Caine saw that it was a large metal crate with holes along the top. When Bonkers pounded the crate three times, from inside came the sound of barking dogs.

Caine felt her chest tighten.

“What did you mean by only the dogs will remember me?” she asked in alarm.

Bonkers climbed up to the top of the crate and waited.

Now filled with terror, Caine began running as fast as she could with a wounded foot. As she hobbled away, she risked a glance backwards.

She saw Bonkers reach down and raise a bow and arrow. Placing the nock of the arrow into the bowstring, he pulled back, aiming at the fleeing Caine, and released. Looking ahead, she fought against the pain, trying to run faster.

Suddenly she heard the pop of the bow and felt a shooting pain in her side as the arrow pierced her right lung. Struggling to breath, she fell to the ground then watched in horror as Bonkers bent over and opened the crate.

Eight wild dogs tore from the open cage and headed straight for Caine. Too weak to rise, she covered her eyes as the dogs leapt on her.

Bonkers watched, his head tilted slightly to the side, and listened to Caine scream as the dogs tore at her. When her cries finally died down, Bonkers climbed down from the crate, removed the recorder from his pocket, and placed it on top the crate. Then from his other pocket, he pulled out a chess piece, the black queen, and centered it on top the recorder. Turning back to the truck, he slid the ramp back in place, climbed in the cab and drove away.

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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