Unsettled: Episode 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘he Amazin Oswal Zamora.’

“What’s it say?” Billy asked.

“The Amazing Oswald Zamora,” Kristina explained.

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

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

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

Turning to Billy, she asked,

“Does one of you know how to drive?”

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

“Groovy,” Kristina returned.

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

“Hold on,” Kristina said.

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

“Try it now.”

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

Kristina laughed as she climbed back into the van.

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

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

 

*          *          *

 

 

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

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

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

Heath turned and walked toward Parker.

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

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

“You interrupted me,” he scolded.

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

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

“Blood stain,” the Australian man suggested.

Heath considered this and said,

“That could work.”

“Why am I tied up?” Parker asked.

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

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

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

“Who?” Parker asked.

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

“Who are you talking about?” Parker pressed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*          *          *

 

“What happened?” Detective Marquez yelled.

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

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

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

Officer Lawton nodded and hurried away.

“What is going on?” Marquez asked herself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Detective Marquez.”

After a few minutes, she ended the call.

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

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

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

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

Advertisements
Published in: on April 17, 2018 at 1:27 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Train: Episode 81

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

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

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

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

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

“Ricer’s in there!” Michael snapped.

“And Lucy is missing,” Nicole added.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Tell me!” Michael growled, losing patience.

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

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

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

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

Elliot turned to face Serena and asked,

“Who was the man that grabbed the doc?”

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

“Quiet, Gordon!” Susan Clark warned.

“Who is Abraham?” Michael asked.

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

“Where is that?” Michael asked.

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

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

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

Serena nodded.

“I know where to go,” Michael said.

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

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

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

Michael was reluctant but saw that Elliot meant business.

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

Elliot whirled around then shook his head.

“All right, Doc, where are you?”

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

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

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

Silence hung in the air.

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

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

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

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

“Abraham?” Elliot asked.

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

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

From behind him, Elliot heard a weak voice whimper,

“Elliot?”

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

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

Dragon Fire: Episode 79

“Please,” Aric pleaded with the captain, “let us sheathe our swords.”

“We are under orders from the king to arrest you for the murder of Prince Alidus,” the captain barked.

Just then the wind picked up as raindrops bounced off the iron blades of the swords, splashing onto the water-worn cobblestones. Aric knew well the fighting skill of these men. Alone, he had little hope of victory. Prince Alidus was now doubtless engaged in battle with the creature for he had not followed Aric up the shaft.

“Prince Alidus is alive, trapped just below our feet in the cave as he fights the creature beneath us. If you will but help me clear the shaft, you will see.”

“Enough!” the captain yelled as he swung his blade down toward Aric.

Aric blocked the strike and parried it out of the way. Gripping a sword in each hand, he told himself to keep moving. The guards must not overcome him. Quickly turning, Aric leapt up, landing on the fountain, then climbed to the top, a cowardly move that would give him only a few seconds. He hoped it would be enough time to search for a narrow passageway and force the guards to attack one at a time.

Aric sprang from the fountain’s spire and fled to the opposite end of the courtyard, hoping to draw the soldiers away from the fountain.

When the front guard swung out with his blade, Aric turned to ward off the blow, striking the soldier across the face. The guard stumbled backwards and fell into the advancing men, knocking them backwards.

Another guard rushed forward, striking down with his sword. Aric lowered his body, narrowly missing the blade, then whirled the soldier around and quickly raised his sword blade to the guard’s throat.

Instantly the other guards stopped their advance.

“I do not wish to harm any man, but I will in the name of the true king. There is a passage that runs under this city. The entrance is just beyond the fountain. This passage must be cleared so that Prince Alidus may rise and reclaim his throne,” Aric insisted.

The captain of the guard studied Aric for a moment as he considered. Then he gave the order.

“Two of you go and search for this passage. We shall soon see if he speaks a fool’s tale.”

Two guards broke away from the group and moved back towards the fountain.

“If nothing is there, you will release him and go willingly?” the captain asked.

“On my honor,” Aric answered.

* * *

As Alidus sent out a burst of fire, the monster Hannable retreated into the cavern.

“You must kill him, my son,” Genfyre announced.

“I cannot do this. He is a man and a father,” Alidus insisted.

“Long ago, he was. But now, he lies prisoner in his own body. Like me, he is tormented by mistakes of the past.”

When Alidus heard a low growl, he looked up to see the creature once again approaching the den entrance. But with another burst of fire, Alidus drove him back into the darkness of the deep cavern.

“He will not return soon,” Alidus said.

“Neither will he retreat,” Genfyre informed. “The animal never yields.”

“Is he not yielding now?” Alidus asked.

“No, my son. He will not stop charging until you are destroyed,” Genfyre said.

Alidus knew how to stop the creature, but Genfyre would not survive the burst of flames.

Sensing his apprehension, Genfyre said,

“I have lived a long life, my son. Committed many faults. Do not lay the burden of your soul as well on my shoulders. Like Hannable, I seek peace, and you have the power to give it.”

“But—,” Alidus began.

“There is no time. Your friend needs your help. If you do not act quickly, you will fail him as I have failed Hannable.”

After a moment’s hesitation, Alidus closed his eyes filling his mind with tranquility. He could sense the air around him begin to heat up.

“Tell Cerros,” Genfyre said, “that Hannable has finally found peace.”

As Alidus opened his eyes and burst into flames, he saw the creature running toward him at full speed. When he looked down at Genfyre one last time, the old man lifted his face and with a weak smile said,

“I shall tell your mother all about her son the hero.”

Alidus then turned his head away and closed his eyes.

* * *

When the guards reached the fountain, they abruptly stopped, peering into the water.

“Sir,” one called out.

“What is it?” the captain answered, keeping his eyes on Aric.

“The fountain, sir. The water is. . . ,” the guard trailed off.

“Is what?” the captain demanded.

“It is boiling, sir,” the guard said.

Annoyed, the captain turned away from Aric to face the fountain. Before he could take a step forward to see for himself, a tendril of black smoke-like energy struck him in the back, causing him to convulse for a moment. When he looked back at Aric, his eyes were lifeless and he sneered,

“That is of no matter. Kill him.”

The other guards hesitated, questioning what they had heard.

“Kill him!” the captain snapped. “At once!”

Amazed by the boiling water, one of the guards at the fountain said,

“Sir, the stones are beginning to crack, and they are as though on fire.”

“I do not care!” the devilish captain said. “I will kill him myself.”

As the captain stamped over to Aric, the fountain was suddenly engulfed in a column of flame that shot upwards above the castle walls.

Aric held up his hand to shield his eyes from the blinding light, but for a brief moment, he saw a man floating up inside the column of flame.

Through his fingers, Aric watched as the captain and guards turned to face the column of fire. He saw that the man floating in the flames was Prince Alidus.

Like a wisp of smoke, Alidus touched down lightly on the cobblestones. His eyes still burning embers, he commanded Aric to release the guard.

When Aric removed his blade and pushed the guard away, Alidus turned to the captain and guards.

“Drop your weapons,” he ordered.

The courtyard was filled with the ring of iron hitting stone as many of the guards obeyed.

“I will not ask again,” Alidus said to those who hesitated.

The rest of the guards dropped their swords, but the crazed captain held his and turned to face Alidus.

“I refuse to obey the orders from some hedge-born son of a devil,” he spat.

“You will,” Alidus returned.

Instantly, a column of fire exploded upwards from beneath the defiant captain, transforming him into a pile of ash.

Published in: on November 19, 2016 at 9:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,