The Train: Episode 82

With Michael and Nicole at her heels, Serena slipped through the crowd that had gathered to watch the blazing cabin. Stopping at Scott Morgan’s office, she tried the door and found it locked.

“Sister Serena,” a spa employee called as he walked up the hall. Nicole noticed that his name badge said George.

“What are you doing?”

“I was looking for Saint Suriel. I need advice in this dark time. Do you know where he might be?” Serena asked.

“I have not seen him since he and Father Salvatore left to meditate,” George answered.

“Where did they go?” Serena asked. “It is important that I speak with him. Some of the guests are missing, and one of the cabins is on fire.”

“You know I cannot give you that information, Sister Serena,” George answered.

“It’s an emergency,” Nicole explained, giving him a stern look.

Surprised by Nicole’s remark, George’s eyes jumped from Nicole to Serena.

“Sister Serena, you have brought outsiders to see Saint Suriel and Father Salvatore without their blessing? This is against our rules. You must be brought up on charges at once!”

Out of patience, Michael dropped his bag and pulled out his shotgun. Stepping up to George, Michael jammed the gun in his face and growled,

“I’m really sick of this, you know? Now, you’re going to tell me where they are or I’m going to shoot you in the face. Capisce?”

Startled and frightened, George could only stammer. But when Michael pressed the barrel against his cheek, George squeaked,

“I don’t know. Honest! No one knows where they went. Everyone is afraid, and we have no one to guide us.”

Rolling his eyes in disgust, Michael snarled,

“Fine. Then tell us what you know about Abraham.”

Suddenly, George grew faint and reached out to the wall for support.

“I cannot say anything. Father Salvatore made us swear never to speak of him or mention his name.”

Michael withdrew the barrel from George’s cheek and said,

“Look. I’m not in the best of moods right now, so my negotiating skills are a little off. But because I’m a nice guy, I’m going to try my best to make you see things my way.”

As he stared into George’s eyes, he said,

“I have enough ammo in this bag to shoot off each and every appendage of your body. One. . .at. . .a time. See here’s my plan. I’m going to see how many I can shoot off before you pass out. Want to guess where I’m going to start?”

Trembling with fear George said,

“Father Salvatore has a file on him in his office. That’s all I know. Please!”

After a moment, Michael said,

“Good boy. Now show me.”


*          *          *


When they reached Father Salvatore’s office, George withdrew a ring of keys and fumbled to get the key in the lock. He kept looking back at Michael’s shotgun.

“Please don’t kill me,” George pleaded when he finally opened the door and let them in.

“Stay there and I might not,” Michael said.

George waited in the doorway while Michael and Nicole searched the office.

“Sister Serena, this is highly unorthodox. Why are you helping these people?”

“Because I believe Father Salvatore is in trouble,” Serena explained.

“That is not possible. He and Saint Suriel are blessed,” George said. “Divine.”

Michael was about to make a wisecrack when Nicole stopped him.

“Found something.”

She pulled an old manila envelope out of the file drawer and broke the seal, spilling the contents onto the top of the desk.

Michael and Nicole worked their way through the photographs and newspaper articles until he said,

“Looks like at one time this land belonged to Summerhill Medical Center. About four years ago, a patient woke from his coma and attacked the staff, killing fifteen people before he set the building on fire. The fire didn’t consume the place, but it was closed down and condemned because of the structural damage. The groundskeeper Abraham Carver stayed behind to guard the place. Eventually the woods grew up around the gutted building, blocking it out of sight and mind.”

Michael put the paper down and said,

“So Abraham is the groundskeeper of a hospital where fifteen people were brutally murdered. And for four years he’s been wandering around the grounds guarding a hospital that’s said to be haunted.”

Michael rolled his eyes and sighed,

“Great. Never had to deal with a haunting before.”

“You know there’s a rational explanation for this, Michael,” Nicole said.

“See why we must find Father Salvatore?” Serena said. “Saint Suriel has taken control of Abraham, and now he uses him to kill anyone who crosses his path.”

George looked shocked.

“Sister Serena, how can you say such a thing about Saint Suriel? Has he not been loyal and faithful to you and all his children?”

“Where is he?” Michael snapped, once again raising the shotgun.

“No! Shoot me if you must, but I will not betray—”

George was cut off when a long blade exploded from his stomach. Standing behind him in the doorway was Abraham, a black cloth covering his face. Quickly, Nicole grabbed Serena and pulled her back as Michael stepped forward with the shotgun.

George gasped for breath as Abraham lifted him into the air and walked backwards towards a door.

Michael looked for a clear shot, but Abraham kept his large frame hidden behind George’s dying body. When he reached the door, he opened it and stepped backwards through it. Closing the door on his knife, Abraham left George on the other side. As he pulled the blade free and slammed the door shut, George’s bleeding body dropped to the floor.

“I’m going after him!” Michael said.

“Why?” Serena asked.

“Because he can lead us to our friends, if not Salvatore,” Nicole answered.

Michael stepped over George’s body and slowly opened the door to a long flight of stairs. Following the trail of blood from the knife, they slowly descended the stairs into what looked like the basement. There were no signs of Abraham, but when Nicole spotted an open manhole cover, she pointed it out to Michael.

“Great,” Michael grumbled. “This is just getting better and better.”

Afraid to go into the opening, Serena hesitated as tears came to her eyes, but when Nicole assured her she would be right behind her, she finally followed Michael into the sewer.

Published in: on March 19, 2018 at 2:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 27

Once again Nathan and Elizabeth found themselves on the campus of Crescent Bay University. As they crossed the brick courtyard encircled by live oak trees and headed for Anderson Hill, the dorm of Jessica Alexander, the sweet smell of freshly cut grass and flower blossoms created a happy, relaxing atmosphere. Near the stairs leading into the dorm, a stone fountain’s bubbling water welcomed them.

“Okay so tell me again. We came here instead of finding out why someone would try to kill Jericho because. . .?” Elizabeth asked.

“Two people are dead by the same type of bomb someone will use on Jericho, and those two people were connected to a blackmailing ring. Daniel Lincoln was blackmailing Martin Armstrong who is having an affair with Jessica Alexander. Somehow, River Hastings was involved. The cops think Armstrong’s the killer, so there’s a good chance Alexander either knows who did it or she’s the killer’s next target,” Nathan said.

“Or she’s the killer,” Elizabeth added.

Nathan hesitated then acknowledged, “That’s also possible.”

“So what room is Jessica’s?” Elizabeth asked.

“She’s not in her room right now,” Nathan said.

When he opened the door to the common area, cold air hit Elizabeth as she stepped into a large room filled with boisterous laughter and the clack of billiard balls.

“She’s in here somewhere,” Nathan said.

While Nathan scanned the room looking for Jessica, Elizabeth walked over to the nearest pool table and asked the two guys playing,

“Where is Jessica Alexander?”

Instead of answering her question, they responded by ogling her chest. Elizabeth grabbed the eight ball from the table and barked,


When both students looked up, Elizabeth crushed the eight ball into a powder.

“I found her,” Nathan said, getting Elizabeth’s attention.

“Are you sure cause I think these two are ready to talk,” Elizabeth snarled.

Nathan glanced at the young men and saw that their faces were drained of color.

“You’re lucky they’re still conscious.”

Elizabeth followed Nathan across the crowded room to a leather couch filled with giggling coeds. The girl seated in the middle, clearly the alpha, had pink hair and was wearing too much eye shadow.

“Jessica Alexander?” Nathan asked.

The girls stopped laughing long enough for the one with the pink hair to say,

“Sorry. She’s not here right now.”

Nathan let out a sigh and under his breath asked, “Why must it always be this way?”

“Jessica Ellen Alexander. Bites her nails when she’s nervous, collects unicorns, and when she was twelve years old, she saw—”

“I’m Jessica!” the girl with the pink hair shouted as she sprang up off the couch.

“Are you certain?” Nathan whispered. “I have more. . .like how you passed your chemistry final.”

“No need,” Jessica assured him. “Let’s go over here where we can talk.”

Jessica led Nathan and Elizabeth to a quiet corner and asked,

“Okay what do you want?”

“We want to ask you about Martin Armstrong,” Nathan explained.

Jessica considered her words for a moment then said,

“Martin Armstrong is a horrible man. He forced Professor Hastings to fail me if I didn’t go out with him, and when Lincoln tried to help me, he killed him. Now Hastings is dead, and I’m scared I’m next.”

“How do you know Hastings is dead?” Elizabeth asked.

“It’s all over campus. They said there was an explosion at Pearson Plasma. They’ve already got a sub for his classes. Anybody can do the math,” Jessica said.

“I think Armstrong is being framed,” Nathan said.

“Framed?” Jessica said, rolling her eyes. “He did it. Everybody knows that. If I were you, I’d disappear before he gets you. I’m going to the cops.”

As she started to walk away, Nathan extended his hand and said,

“Thank you for your time.”

“Whatever,” Jessica said, taking Nathan’s hand and quickly shaking it.

In the few seconds that Nathan held her hand, he had a vision. Everything went white for a moment and when it cleared, he was in a girl’s dorm room.

He looked around for a clue as to whose room it was. Suddenly there was a knock on the door, and when he turned toward it, someone slid an envelope under the door. He heard the sound of the bathroom door opening and looked to see Jessica Alexander step out. She was dressed in a bathrobe with her hair tucked inside a towel. She turned off the bathroom light and crossed the room to the door to open it. When she saw no one was there, she was about to close the door when she spotted the envelope.

Bending over, she picked it up and tore it open to find a folded piece of paper stuffed inside.

Tucked in the fold were three photographs. One was of Daniel Lincoln with the bomb vest wrapped around him. The other was of River Hastings also wearing a bomb vest. But the third was of an empty bomb vest that had her name written on it. With trembling hands, she read the note.

“If anyone asks, Armstrong is responsible.”

Jessica stepped out into the hall and looked both ways before quickly retreating into her room and closing the door.

As she fought back tears, she quickly put the note away and disappeared into the bathroom.

Suddenly Nathan snapped out of his vision and saw Jessica staring at him with a look of confusion.

“You okay?” she asked.

Nathan took a second to clear his head then answered,

“Yea. Fine.”

While Jessica returned to her friends, Elizabeth spun Nathan around and demanded,

“What did you see?”

When Nathan hesitated, she warned,

“Tell me or I’ll pick you up by your underwear and fly you over the city!”

“No need,” Nathan said. “Whoever is doing this threatened Jessica that unless she names Armstrong as the killer, she’ll be the next victim.”

“Then let’s hide her someplace safe,” Elizabeth suggested.

“That won’t do any good,” Nathan said.

“Why not?” Elizabeth asked.

“Because she’s already gone,” Nathan replied.

Elizabeth looked past Nathan and saw that Jessica was nowhere in sight.

“Where’d she go?” Elizabeth asked.

“To the police station. Don’t worry. She’ll make it there safely,” Nathan said then added, “I think.”

“What do you mean you think?” Elizabeth asked.

“I mean the future is not certain yet, but there’s a good chance she’ll make it,” Nathan explained.

Growing angry, Elizabeth glared at him.

“That’s not good enough! I don’t know how things are where you come from, but here we take life and death seriously.”

“It’s the same where I come from, Elizabeth,” Nathan assured her. “It’s just that I’m still having difficulty adjusting to this place. Everything still feels like a dream.”

In frustration Elizabeth pushed past him and stormed towards the door.

The two boys Elizabeth had threatened still stood at the pool table gaping in awe.

When she reached for the door handle, Nathan suddenly grabbed her hand and said,

“Elizabeth, wait.”

“What?” Elizabeth asked irritated.

“I need to go first. And remember above all else, don’t just catch it. You have to throw it as high as you can,” Nathan said.

Elizabeth looked at Nathan confused,

“What are you talking about?”

“Please,” Nathan said, “just trust me.”

When she saw the pleading look in his eyes, she calmly answered,


Removing her hand from the door handle, she stepped back as Nathan quietly thanked her, opened the door and stepped out in the courtyard.

Unsettled: Episode 9

“Where are we going exactly?” Rory asked.

“I don’t know. I’m not leading this parade,” Ray replied.

After Detective Márquez returned to the crime scene and Jack announced they needed a safe place to talk, Kristina had offered to take them to the perfect place. Climbing on her bike, she pulled into the street and headed north.

“So we’re just going to follow her to this mysterious location?” Rory asked.

“It would appear so,” Ray replied. “Based on the amount of time we’ve been on the road, I figure we must be on the other side of the island by now.”

The farther north they drove, the higher the elevation. At the top of the next hill, Ray looked back and saw the expansive bridge that connected Coldwater to Whitelake. When the sun’s rays hit it just right, it looked golden. Up ahead, Kristina slowed to a stop in front of two large black iron gates. She waited while the gates opened then drove her bike through with Mavis right behind. When Rory pulled through in his Bronco, Ray noticed the sign on the gates.

“Wintervale,” he read. “Wintervale. Where have I heard that name?”

After a few curves in the road, a massive red brick mansion came into view. The three-storied structure stretched out over rolling hills with oaks and dogwoods lining the drive. Kristina pulled up to the main entrance and killed her engine as Mavis and Rory parked alongside her bike.

“Where are we?” Mavis asked as she climbed out of the Jeep and twirled around, taking it all in.

“Wintervale Manor,” Kristina said.

“Mathias Wintervale built this place along with a mental hospital in Blackrock. The hospital’s been closed down for years, but at the time it was a top-notch place for the patients,” Kristina said.

“That’s nice and all, but why are we here?” Rory asked.

“I live here,” Kristina said with a smile. “My mom was the granddaughter of Mathias Wintervale. After my dad died, she married Oswald Zamora, a stage magician. He was my step-dad. The week before I graduated from high school, my mom died. Right after the ceremony, he disappeared, leaving all his possessions to me. I haven’t seen or heard from him since.”

“Man, this place is insane,” Billy said, taking it all in.

“You’d know!” Rory quipped.

Mavis quickly bent over, grabbed a rock from the driveway, and threw it at Rory.

“It’s okay, love,” Jack said. “We have more pressing matters to attend to.”

“Now that we’re someplace safe, tell us what happened back there,” Ray requested.

“When I got inside the building,” Lucas said, “Heath had left, probably in that helicopter lifting off.”

“And Dale?” Kristina asked.

“Upstairs in his office. Dead, the poor thing,” Victoria answered. “Beaten near to death with a hammer.”

When Kristina lost it, Mavis scolded Victoria.

“Do you have to be so graphic?” she snapped as Kristina walked away to compose herself.

“He didn’t go there just to kill Tanner,” Dylan interrupted. “This was more aggressive, angrier.”

“It is possible he was venting some pent up aggression,” Jack said. “On the other hand, maybe it was some sort of sick game to him.”

“What makes you think that?” Ray asked.

“A gunshot wound was what killed Tanner. Heath could have easily killed him with the hammer, but it looks like he struck him in such a way as to inflict the most damage yet leave him alive. Long enough to kill him anyway,” Jack explained.

“This is more than a killing spree or a cleanup,” Dylan insisted. “Heath is after something. Otherwise he’d be more focused or at least have a cool down period. He’s ramping up to a finale, and my gut tells me he’s just getting starting.”

“Somehow Parker is connected to Heath,” Ray said. “You should have seen his reaction when we mentioned him.”

“You hit a nerve. Aggression at a sensitive subject,” Jack said.

“Rookie mistake,” Eddie said. “Gave himself away. But he’s new at this. Probably the first time he’s ever worked with a cleaner.”

“Sounds like the fire’s jumped out of the firebox onto the curtains,” Jack replied.

“Anybody lost here?” Rory asked.

“It does,” Ray replied, ignoring Rory’s comment. “I have a suspicion where he might be headed next. When we were in Parker’s office, I saw a picture of him with three other men. The mayor, the police commissioner, and one other guy I didn’t recognize.”

“It could be he’s planning to completely wipe out the city’s infrastructure, leaving it in chaos,” Mavis proposed.

“There is one other possible answer,” Jack suggested.

“What?” Mavis asked.

“A hostile takeover,” Jack replied.



*          *          *


Gagged and tied to a chair facing French doors that opened onto a balcony of one of Coldwater’s tallest hotels, Councilman Owen Parker tried to calm his nerves. A short while ago, he had found his secretary Veronica dead in his outer office and Charles Heath standing over her body, along with one of his goons. At gunpoint, he had forced Parker to the top floor of the hotel.

Heath walked over and stood next to Parker, placing his hand on the nervous councilman’s shoulder. He slipped past Parker and opened the french doors, stepping outside to enjoy the view of the city and feel the soft breeze ruffle his hair. Taking a deep breath to draw in the fresh air, he said,

“You know, I really love this city. Not because of the people but because of the ambiance. On the surface, it feels warm and inviting. Underneath? Underneath there’s a hidden malice lingering just below the surface. Like the archetypal deformed cousin everyone keeps hidden in the basement,” Heath paused then laughed at his clever simile. “It’s there reminding us that we aren’t as perfect as we pretend to be.”

Just then one of Heath’s men walked onto the balcony and handed him a small cellphone.

“It’s ready,” the man said.

“Oh good,” Heath replied. Then taking a quick look outside, he turned to Parker and said,

“You’re going to enjoy this!”

Turning back to face Coldwater, Heath asked,

“Did you know that in ancient times when a city or kingdom was overthrown, the new monarchy would kill anyone loyal to the old king then destroy any buildings or statues built in his name?”

As Parker looked up at Heath, beads of sweat trickled down his face.

After a moment, Heath turned toward Parker.

“Well at least that’s what I believe they did. I couldn’t find any solid references to make my point resonate more, but you get the idea.”

When Parker began to glare at his captor, Heath complained,

“Now don’t look at me that way. I thought if anyone would enjoy this, you would.”

“Do you know what is so great about our emergency services?” Heath asked. “It’s their reaction time. In the city of Coldwater, most fire department and emergency services are on the scene within 3-4 minutes.”

“Aside from a mass disaster, there isn’t a single challenge the fire department could not handle,” Heath said, a wide smile on his face.

“Now I know you must wondering what that has to do with anything. Well I’ll tell you.”

Heath stepped off the balcony and knelt down in front of Parker, placing his hand on the councilman’s knee and addressing him like a small child.

“That kind of timing is perfect for when Mommy accidentally burns the rolls and the drapes catch fire. But for someone like me? Well it makes burning a few strategic buildings to the ground a bit difficult.”

Heath stood up and turned to look out over Coldwater. As he pressed a few buttons in the cell phone, he said,

“So a man like me has to plan ahead, and the best way to deal with quick response fire departments is to overwhelm them.”

Heath paused as he turned from the city and smiled at Parker.

“And the best way to overwhelm emergency services is not to give them one problem to deal with but. . .”

When Heath pressed another button on the cell phone, five separate explosions went off across town, one after another. As fire lit up the sky, Heath held up his hand, fingers spread wide, and mouthed the word.

“. . .five!”

Published in: on March 19, 2018 at 2:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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,


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: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Train: Episode 80

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

Wearing a soft smile, Serena said,

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

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

Once Serena closed the door behind her, Michael continued,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael smiled and replied, “I always do.”


*          *          *


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

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

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

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

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

After a few minutes, Nicole showed up.

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

“Nothing?” Michael asked.

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

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

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

“Having fun?” Marvin asked.

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

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

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

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

Marvin let out a chuckle and said,

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

“That’s correct,” Michael quickly responded.

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

Nicole smiled but said nothing.

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

Ricer smiled and said,

“I used to be a college professor.”

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

“Marvin!” Susan snapped.

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

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

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

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

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

“Marvin!” Susan fussed.

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

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

“What is it, doc?” Michael asked.

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

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

“No! She never runs off!” Ricer said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in: on January 22, 2018 at 6:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Unsettled: Episode 7

His hand gripping the bloody hammer, Charles Heath looked down at what remained of Dale Tanner. He watched as Tanner struggled to draw his last breath. Heath had to admit this attack had been just the stress relief he needed after William Brannon almost ruined his escape. From the look of Tanner, a couple more strikes was all he could hope for. Just as he raised the hammer, the lights went out.

Heath froze then looked up toward the ceiling.

“What is it, sir?” Heath’s security guard asked.

“Brannon’s here,” Heath said.

“In that case, sir, I recommend we leave at once,” the guard advised. “There’s a helicopter waiting on the roof to take you to safety.”

“I’m not afraid of him,” Heath said. Then after a pause he added,

“I’m done here.”

Heath handed the claw hammer to the security guard, exchanging it for his pistol. Then turning to Tanner, he smiled,

“Thank you. This was just what I needed.”

Tanner looked at Heath through his swollen bloody eye. He saw Heath raise the pistol and heard the shot just before he slipped into eternity.

After holstering the pistol, Tanner removed his gloves and stuffed them into his pockets. Running his fingers through his short hair, he said,

“Now we can go.”

Exiting Tanner’s office, they headed for the stairs leading up to the roof and the helicopter.


*          *          *



When the lights cut out, Rowan felt his heart race. With trembling hands, he reached out and switched on his tactical flashlight, at the same time ordering the men to follow suit. A surge of panic ran up his spine when he saw that Brannon had disappeared.

“Sweep the room,” he ordered. “Keep your radios on. Target is in the area.”

After searching the room twice, Rowan called out to his men,

“Anyone see anything? Check in.”

Four of the five men gave an all clear. After a moment, Rowan called to the man who had not responded.

“Alexander, check in.”

“Sorry, sir. Thought I saw something. All clear,” Alexander answered.

Rowan ordered the men,

“Keep your eyes open. He’s here somewhere.”

Suddenly Alexander’s tactical light went out.

“Alexander!” Rowan called out.

When no answer came, Clark, the man nearest Alexander, said,

“I’ll check, sir.”

Rowan watched as Clark’s tactical light turned in the direction Alexander had last been seen. Clark did a quick sweep and came back on the radio,

“There’s no sign of him, sir.”

“Keep at it. He has to be there somewhere,” Rowan replied.

Before Clark could respond, another tactical light on the opposite side of the room went out.

“Carter, turn your light back on,” Rowan ordered.

When Carter did not answer, Rowan knew he was losing control of the situation.

“Someone check on Carter.”

Before anyone could respond, Clark’s tactical light went off.

With three men missing, Rowan slowly backed up towards the wall. There were only two men left.

“What are you?” Rowan asked into the darkness.

“There’s no sign of Carter, sir,” Briggs replied.

“Keep looking!” Rowan snapped.

Before Briggs could answer, his light went out.

In a panic, Rowan began frantically to sweep the room.

“Please don’t kill me,” he whispered.

“Forget this,” Granger said. “I’m out of here!”

Rowan watched as Granger’s tactical light moved toward the front door. Suddenly it stopped. Rowan tried to shine his light toward Granger but was terrified of what he might see. Then he heard a slow click that echoed off the walls as Granger’s light went out.

Rowan could hear his heartbeat in his ears as he slowly stepped toward the front door. The only light in the room was his tactical light and a low glow from the streetlamp outside. He figured that if he could just make it to the front door, he could escape with his life. The other men were on their own. His knees shaking, he inched his way toward the front door of the lobby, moving his light from left to right as he went. When he was about halfway to the door, the lights suddenly came on, blinding Rowan for a moment before he adjusted his eyes to the light. The room was empty. No sign of his men. No blood. No equipment.

As a chill ran up his spine, Rowan did what he’d seen every stupid teenager do in every horror movie he’d ever watched. Instead of running for his life, he slowly turned around, sensing something was behind him.

Standing just a couple of feet behind him with one fist clenched and the other open was William Brannon.

“Please don’t hurt me,” Rowan whimpered.

Then he screamed as the last thing he saw was Brannon diving for him.


*          *          *



Leo Walker and Chad Burns, two of Heath’s men, were stationed in the second floor hall leading to the editor’s office. Both were under orders to stay behind and cover Mr. Heath’s escape. A few moments after the lights came back on, they heard someone downstairs crying for help.

“What is that racket down there? Sounds like a bunch of little girls,” Walker sneered.

“With Rowan in charge, could be anything,” Burns said.

“In charge? That guy is useless!” Walker said.

“All they have to do is deal with one guy while the boss escapes,” Burns said.

“Leave it to Rowan to make a mess. No telling what he’s up to,” Walker said.

At the entrance to the hallway, a man suddenly appeared. Taking a few purposeful strides, he stopped in full view of Walker and Burns.

“Hey! Isn’t that the Brannon guy Mr. Heath warned us about?” Walker asked.

“Well he’s not one of our idiots,” Burns replied.

“That’s far enough. We’ll shoot if you come any closer,” Walker ordered Brannon.

“Heath said not to kill him,” Burns whispered.

“If it’s down to my life or his, I’m shooting the guy,” Walker said.

“Turn around now!” Burns yelled.

Keeping a steady eye on the two men, Brannon did not move.

“Who is this guy?” Walker asked.

“I don’t know. Mr. Heath didn’t say much about him. Just said he’s important and not to kill him,” Burns replied.

All of a sudden, Brannon began walking forward.

“Stop right there! Don’t come any closer!” Burns demanded.

Brannon ignored the warning and kept walking.

“Forget this! I’m shooting him!” Walker said, taking aim.

Suddenly the lights went out, plunging the hallway into darkness.

Published in: on January 22, 2018 at 5:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The Train: Episode 79

“I’m sorry, a demon in the form of a man?” Nicole asked, looking highly skeptical.

“Let me start at the beginning,” Serena said.

“Father Salvatore came to us three years ago and turned this place around. Please walk with me,” Serena asked.

While she explained, she led them to the main building and the pool. All the guests seemed to be getting along well, laughing and playing in the water, visiting by the pool.

“What was this place before?” Michael asked.

“Before Father Salvatore, it was pretty much empty except for a few bikers and drug addicts. But Father Salvatore changed everything, made this into a resort and spa, a place of peace and relaxation.”

“What about Morgan?” Nicole asked.

With an intense glare, Serena turned to face Nicole.

“Do not let anyone hear you call him by that name. No one here except those loyal to Father Salvatore calls him by his given name. They must call him Saint Suriel.”

“So he’s Saint Suriel unless you say otherwise,” Michael said. “Got it.”

Serena’s glare melted into a sweet smile, and she beckoned them to follow her.

“Come. Let us go meet the guests.”

She whipped her hair around in the breeze for a moment then headed for the pool.

“Did we have to get one of the inmates to show us around this asylum?” Michael laughed.

“I’m afraid for now, she’s all we have,” Nicole said.

“Just once I’d like to get help from someone who’s actually helpful,” Michael sighed.

As they approached the pool, an older man, his black hair thinning on top, slipped out of the water and walked over to them. He wore a rosy smile as he shifted a little girl from his right arm to his left.

Extending his right hand, he greeted,

“Hello. I’m Marvin Clark and this little angel is my daughter Judy. That’s my wife Susan with our boys Gordon and Paul.”

Marvin pointed to a redheaded woman in the pool, the length of her bright hair floating in the water as she played with two small boys.

“So what’s your name, or do I get to make up one for you?” Marvin asked.

“Pete Shepherd,” Michael said smiling.

“This is my sister Erika,” Michael said, pointing to Nicole.

As Marvin shook Nicole’s hand, Michael pointed to Dr. Ricer and added,

“And that’s my dad David and my niece Marie.”

“A pleasure to meet you all,” Marvin said. “Please, let me introduce you to everyone here.”

As they followed Marvin around the pool greeting people and shaking hands, Nicole watched the windows and scanned the open areas of Tearmann River Spa & Resort. Everything seemed normal, nothing out of the ordinary.

“My name’s Brad. Let me show you to your rooms,” a young man said as he approached them.

“We don’t have rooms,” Nicole answered.

Cursing herself for speaking without thinking, she realized she had become so wrapped up in the calm of the resort that for a moment she’d forgotten why they were there.

“Yes you do,” the attendant said.

“Serena told me your rooms were assigned late due to a mix-up on our part, but she’s sorted out everything. You’ll be staying in Maple. We’ve put you in adjoining rooms with a beautiful view of the gardens.”

Brad pointed to one of the larger buildings close to the main building.

“We apologize for the loss of your bags. Serena said they arrived but were misplaced. Entirely our fault. We’ll bring them to your rooms as soon as we find them. In the meantime, we will provide clothes for you and anything else you need. If you’ll follow me, I’ll show you to your rooms,” Brad cheerfully said.

“Thank you,” Nicole smiled.

“Oh Pete,” she called to Michael who was talking to a young couple. “We’re going to see our rooms.”

* * *

The Maple building was decorated with polished wood paneling and soft grey carpet. Soothing music played over invisible speakers as a fountain’s streams of water cascaded over polished rocks creating a restful, tranquil atmosphere.

“Here we are,” Brad said, stopping just down the hall from the fountain.

“The dining room serves breakfast from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., and of course you may have meals delivered to your room if you’d prefer,” he said while opening the door. “Each of the rooms has an itinerary of events. Everything is included in your admission fee. No hidden charges. Our goal here at Tearmann River Spa & Resort is to make certain your stay is happy and peaceful.”

When Brad finished with the information, he handed Michael three room keys.

“We can arrange for a wakeup call over the phone or in person. Might I suggest you start your stay here with a relaxing massage? I find its the best way to unwind and fully enjoy your day.”

“Sounds great,” Michael responded.

“One last thing, the gates will close after midnight, but the grounds are always open to any of our guests who wish to enjoy the stars, the fireflies, or maybe a romantic tryst in the moonlight,” Brad informed.

With a slight bow, he said,

“I shall leave you to relax and settle in. Thank you for choosing Tearmann River Spa & Resort.”

Then he clasped his palms together, and pressing them against his chest, he sighed,

“Have a blessed day.”

Michael waited until Brad was gone and said,

“Well that was creepy.”

“He seemed nice,” Ricer said.

“I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m not used to the whole smile and wave happy family thing. Always puts me off,” Michael replied.

“Most likely the knowledge of the impending mass murder has you off about this place,” Ricer suggested.

“No, Doc, it’s this place,” Nicole said. “I’ve been to plenty of places like this, but this one is different. Something about it makes me feel like I’m being hunted.”

“I didn’t get that impression, but I do agree with you that this place is an 11 on the creepy scale,” Michael said.

“What about the people you talked to?” Ricer asked Michael.

“Okay. I met five couples and several singles. Most of the singles were just doing what single people do. I had two girls hit on me, which is odd because girls never hit on me. Let’s see. What else? Oh yeah. Marvin and his wife Susan aren’t the only ones with kids. Another couple Thomas and Charlotte are expecting their first child. Charlotte’s two months pregnant, so they came here to enjoy one last romp before their child is born.”

“Any word on Scott Morgan?” Nicole asked.

“Now, now. Remember it’s Saint Suriel,” Michael corrected.

Nicole rolled her eyes and began to check the room.

“Nothing yet, but I did notice one thing. The staff is always close by, always within earshot and always watching the guests. It’s almost like we’re being guarded, not tended to,” Michael pointed out.

Suddenly the doorknob of the adjoining room, Michael’s room, began to turn. Michael moved Ricer and Lucy out of the way as Nicole reached for her pistol.

Published in: on December 16, 2017 at 8:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Unsettled: Episode 6

The building that housed the Coldwater Chronicle had once been a proscenium theater whose doors were closed after the leading lady died on the opening night of the theater’s first major production. It sat empty for years until it was sold and converted into an office building. Shortly thereafter, the owner of the Chronicle, the city’s largest newspaper, had leased the entire upper floor for his staff’s offices. Seated in the largest of the suites was Dale Tanner, the Chronicle’s chief editor. On his desk, papers lay in great stacks, spilling onto the floor, as he scribbled some notes to pass off to one of reporters in the morning. Tanner gave the best of himself to his mistress the Chronicle, and after two failed marriages, he had settled for meaningless affairs with more lovers than he could remember. In his 40 years at the Chronicle, the only thing that remained constant was his paper.

A light rain rolled down the windowpanes as Tanner removed his glasses, resting them on his notes, and stood to stretch his back muscles. He knew he spent too many hours hunched over his desk or staring at the computer screen, but the Chronicle was his baby. Turning to face the window, he watched as the drops splashed against the glass. He remembered when he took the job as editor. He was a handsome young man who could have landed a modeling contract. Now his reflection reminded him that he had more hair over his ears than on his head. Over the years, he had put on so many pounds that he started wearing loafers so he wouldn’t have to reach over his gut to tie his shoes. It had been a long day and was turning into an even longer night. Except for a murder downtown at the police station, the day had been quiet so he couldn’t complain.

His tie felt like a noose, so he loosened the knot and rubbed his temples. Spent and past ready to go home, he sighed,

“I’ll just finish the notes in the morning. I can’t think straight anymore.”

When he turned away from the window, he saw a stranger standing by the door with another man beside him.

“Can I help you?” Tanner asked.

“Yes. I do believe you can,” the man said.

Tanner had been in this business long enough to recognize a dangerous man.

“What can I do for you?” he asked.

“My name is Charles Heath, and I believe we work for the same gentleman,” Heath said walking into the room. “Councilman Parker sent me.”

Tanner knew where this was going and he had to stop it at once.

“Look, you can tell Parker that just because I helped him one time doesn’t mean he owns me. I only buried that story because his daughter was fresh out of rehab. I’m not burying anything else for him,” Tanner clarified.

“Oh something will be buried this night,” Heath said, “but it won’t be a story.”

In his right hand, sheathed in a black leather glove, Heath held an old claw hammer with a wooden handle. In his left hand, a nickel-plated revolver.

“You will die tonight. No way around that. Only question is, how would you like to die?” Heath asked.

“What?” Tanner said. “You’re insane! I’m calling the cops!”

As Tanner reached for his cell phone, Heath took two steps forward, closing the gap between them, and struck Tanner across the knee with the hammer.

Screaming in pain, Tanner grabbed his leg and fell to the floor.

“I will ask one more time before I choose for you,” Heath shouted over Tanner’s cries.

Holding up the hammer and revolver, he asked again, “How would you like to die? The hammer or the gun? The choice is really quite simple.”

Terrified and helpless, Tanner managed to answer, “The gun, I guess.”

Heath shrugged then handing the gun to the man behind him replied,

“Personally, I would have gone with the hammer.”

As Heath raised the hammer, Tanner instinctively lifted his hands in defense.

“This will hurt you more than me, but to each his own I guess,” Heath added.

Then with the coldness of a machine, he swung down with the hammer.

* * *

The rain was just beginning to slow as Mavis and Billy pulled up out front at the Coldwater Chronicle. Admiring the building’s decorative stonework, Mavis noticed that the lights seemed to have an ominous glow in the cold rain. As Kristina shut off her motorcycle, Mavis and Billy climbed out of the Jeep.

“This is the place,” she said. “Dale is a good guy. He kind of looks like a troll, but he’s a good man, always working late and coming in early. He practically lives here.”

“You think he’ll know anything about Parker?” Mavis said.

“If anyone does, he will,” Kristina assured her.

“Okay. Then let’s go talk to him,” Mavis said.

Suddenly Billy clamped his hand on Mavis’ arm and Lucas said,

“Wait. It’s not safe. Someone else is here.”

“What makes you say that?” Mavis asked.

Billy released her hand and Jack explained,

“That car up ahead matches the one we were chasing earlier. Based on the amount of water under the car versus on the street and the amount of rain coming down, I would estimate it’s been here for at least five to seven minutes.”

“Heath is here?” Kristina asked.

“It would appear so,” Jack said.

“Everyone stay by the car,” Lucas ordered.

“Wait a minute. You can’t go in there alone,” Mavis pleaded.

“We have to,” Lucas explained. “There are two more vehicles around the side of the building that have been here as long as the one carrying Heath.”

“So?” Kristina asked confused.

“He brought backup,” Dylan said.

“I’d guess eight to ten men, based on how many would fit comfortably in each car,” Jack estimated.

“And they’re probably armed, so you can’t go in alone! Let’s just call the police or at least Ray,” Mavis insisted.

“No, we have to go in now,” Dylan said, “and you’ve got to stay here. It’s not safe for you. Besides, Billy would be distracted.”

“But you can help,” Lucas pointed out.

“How?” Kristina asked before Mavis could protest.

“Wait five minutes then turn off the power. Then wait two minutes and turn the power back on. Then after one minute, turn the power back off and run. I’ll attend to the rest,” Lucas instructed.

When Mavis started to protest, Kristina grabbed her.

“Let’s go!” she said.

* * *

Rowan, one of Heath’s men, stood in the lobby of the Coldwater Chronicle. He and five others guarded the bottom floor while two more men secured upstairs. His job was simple. Watch the front doors. Suddenly he saw a man cross the street and head directly toward the building, his hands balled into fists.

“We’ve got company!” he warned.

The other five men entered the lobby, each armed with a pistol and machine gun with a mounted tactical light.

As the man drew closer, Rowan saw who it was. Mr. Heath had given orders to watch out for him.

“It’s that guy Mr. Heath released from prison,” he said, raising his weapon. “The boss wants him alive, but shoot to kill if necessary.”

A few seconds later, the lobby doors opened and Billy stepped inside.

“Mr. Brannon, Mr. Heath asked you to stay away until he calls for you. I will shoot you, if I have to.”

The look on Billy’s face made Rowan nervous. He took a deep breath to calm his rattled nerves.

“Please leave the building at once or we will open fire,” Rowan warned.

Without a word, Billy stood still, his eyes unblinking.

“Please leave now!” Rowan insisted.

Billy slowly tilted his head to one side, holding Rowan’s gaze.

Suddenly the lights went out, draping the lobby in darkness.

Published in: on December 16, 2017 at 8:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The Train: Episode 78

“I’m not happy about being here, I can tell you that,” Michael said, growing increasingly uneasy.

“I wish I could say something that would reassure you, but unfortunately, I have nothing beyond what I’ve already told you,” Dr. Ricer said, keeping a tight hold on Lucy.

“There’s a killer here somewhere, like every other mission we’ve dealt with,” Nicole said, “but there is something else, something darker.”

“A malice that sits in the air and blows on the back of your neck,” Michael responded with a shiver.

“We’ve got to be alert, eyes and ears open,” Nicole warned. “Don’t trust anyone!”

“Why don’t we start by establishing our cover then gather some information about this place, who here might be a threat,” Michael suggested.

“Are we certain it’s just one person?” Ricer asked.

“It could be a team,” Nicole said.

“With such a high body count, it follows that there has to be more than one,” Ricer explained.

“Great! Multiple killers,” Michael sighed.

“You said that thirty-seven people were never found. So what if we aren’t dealing with a lone killer or a group but a cult?” Nicole asked.

Then thinking aloud, she added,

“It could still be led by one person, though, with a group of mindless followers.”

“So we have to smash the head of the serpent and the rest should fall,” Michael reasoned.

“That should be easy enough,” Nicole said.

“I agree, but separating him may prove difficult,” Ricer pointed out, “if his followers are willing to die for him.”

“We need to find an informant, someone who can show us around,” Nicole proposed.

“Look, Grandpa,” Lucy said, pointing toward the tree line.

A woman was struggling against two men who were dragging her into the woods. Her hair flew back and forth as she fought against their strength.

“We may have found one,” Michael said.

“Hurry! We have to help her!” Ricer insisted.

Michael ran ahead of the others, and when he was near the woman, he asked,

“What seems to be the problem here?”

He noticed that the two men were dressed in identical light brown cotton clothes, roughly cut.

“No problem, sir. Please return to the main building. We will soon start the grilling for supper, and there will be lively music and dancing in the moonlight for you and your spouse,” one of the men said, displaying a smile with joyless eyes as he tried to distract them. His attention shifted from Michael to Nicole.

“I am not his spouse!” Nicole corrected.

“Yeah, that wouldn’t work out for me,” Michael replied.

Michael could see panic in the woman’s eyes and a plea for help that countered the smooth assurances of the man’s claims.

“Well then might I suggest our singles’ night filled with music and dancing,” the man offered, keeping a tight grip on the woman.

“Now that does sound like fun, but I have a problem,” Michael said, lowering his bag to the ground and opening the flap.

“I just arrived with my friends here, and I can’t seem to locate my cabin. I was hoping you could point me in the right direction?”

“Of course, sir. What room were you assigned?” the man asked.

“Hold up. It’s in here somewhere. Where did I put. . .,” Michael said trailing off.

“He’s always losing stuff,” Nicole smiled as she played along.

After a few seconds of shuffling, Michael finally said,

“Here it is!”

Quickly he pulled out his shotgun and fired one round into each man, throwing them backwards.

Nicole flew at the two men, knocking them out before they could say anything.

Michael pulled some rope out of his bag and tossed a piece to Ricer.

“Quick, Doc. Let’s tie them up and get her to safety,” Michael ordered.

As they secured the two men with the ropes, Ricer noticed that there was no blood.

When he started to ask, Michael said, “Beanbag rounds. Doesn’t kill but it hurts like the devil.”

As Michael and Ricer dragged both men behind a nearby tool shed, Nicole comforted the woman.

Michael stacked one of the men on top the other then headed over to Nicole. When Ricer turned to follow, he glanced back toward the trees where the men had been dragging the woman. For a moment, he thought he saw a tall man wearing an old straw hat and overalls standing just inside the tree line. But when he looked back, the man was gone.

Dismissing it as his imagination, he hurried to Lucy and the others.

“Are you hurt?” Ricer asked the woman.

Holding tightly to Nicole’s arm, she took a deep breath to calm her nerves then let go. Once she smoothed the front of her plain cotton dress, the same color and cut as the clothes of the two men who had held her, she looked up and her eyes met Ricer’s.

“Thank you for rescuing me. My name is Serena, and I usually greet the new guests. I would have remembered you.”

“We just arrived,” Michael said, “and w—.”

“Why were those men trying to carry you off?” Nicole interrupted.

“Because they have been brainwashed,” the woman said with deep sadness.

“Brainwashed? By whom?” Ricer asked.

“Scott Morgan,” Serena said, contempt in her voice.

“Who’s that?” Michael asked.

“Scott Morgan used to work here at the resort. He was my friend, that is until he almost drowned in the river. Father Salvatore saved him, but since that moment, Scott believes he has been chosen, brought back to life to enlighten those who do not share his vision. He took the name Saint Suriel and declared himself a god. Because I refused to worship at his feet, I was to be removed. I know what he did, and I will not be silenced.”

“What did he do?” Nicole asked.

Serena looked at everyone then settled her gaze on Nicole.

“He killed our leader, our patriarch, Father Salvatore, and anyone who refuses to kneel before him is dragged off into the woods never to be seen again.”

“Why the woods? What’s in the woods?” Ricer asked.

“A monster. A demon that has taken the form of a man.”

Published in: on November 17, 2017 at 6:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Unsettled: Episode 5

It was getting late when Billy, Mavis, Ray, Kristina and Rory crowded into a booth at the all night diner Seaside Sunset. Rory grumbled in between every sip of his third cup of coffee as Billy polished off a hamburger and plateful of ketchup soaked fries.

“First he escapes the nut house then he breaks out of jail and steals a car,” Rory complained, ignoring Mavis’ glare.

“Technically, it was a truck,” Jack clarified.

“Somebody explain to me why we haven’t turned him in yet,” Rory asked.

“Because I will kill you if you try,” Mavis threatened.

“Easy, May,” Kristina said. “Why don’t you calm down, Rory, and have a slice of pie with that coffee?”

“What about we make a plan? Heath is still out there, and right now he seems focused on Billy,” Ray pointed out.

“Not interested in me yet,” Billy said before shoving a handful of fries into his mouth and washing it down with a swig of soda.

“Explain,” Ray asked.

“Back in the jail, Heath told Jack that he wants me and the others to try and stop him but not yet. Said first he wants to take care of things.”

“What things?” Ray asked.

“And what others?” Rory asked.

“Sorry,” Billy said. “The other personalities.”

“Oh them,” Rory said with a snort.

“He’s aware of them?” Kristina asked.

“It comes and goes. Right now the others aren’t in control. They sometimes go into a state of sleep, leaving Billy’s higher brain functions free. That’s why he acts clueless sometimes and other times he’s rational. It depends on how much space they’re using,” Mavis said. “That’s the way the doctor explained it.”

“Clueless is right,” Rory sneered.

“Please, Rory, you’re not helping,” Ray criticized.

“Billy,” Ray asked. “Where are the others right now?”

Billy stuck out his thumb, pointing over his right shoulder to an empty table and said,

“Over there discussing something.”

“What did you mean when you said Heath wants to take care of things first?” Kristina interrupted.

“Heath mentioned Councilman Parker and said that Parker worked for him,” Billy said.

“Councilman Parker has been under investigation recently for suspicion of corruption,” Kristina said. “I’m friends with the editor of the Coldwater Chronicle. I’m pretty sure I could get him to talk.”

“The councilman is certainly involved, but I believe his motives may be self-preservation rather than power, love, or money,” Billy said with a British accent.

Mavis removed her arm from around Billy’s shoulder and sighed,

“Hello, Jack.”

“Sorry, my dear,” Jack said. “Heath is working with or for Parker. Based on what we heard and recent public events, I believe Parker is trying to protect himself by getting rid of any loose ends.”

“That makes a lot of sense,” Kristina thought aloud.

“But why wait till the last minute and why hire someone like Heath? There has to be a bigger reason,” Ray said.

“There is, and I believe I know what that reason might be,” Jack said with a wink.

Jack paused for effect then said,

“Captain Bonkers.”

“The killer clown?” Rory asked. “Now I know you’re off your rocker. He’s dead.”

“No, he isn’t. The police killed an imposter, and Parker knows that. Bonkers is the reason Parker’s rushing to clean things up. He sat back and watched as Bradford King’s empire was cut down piece by piece and King was shot in his prison cell. Parker was afraid his small web of corruption would be dismantled like King’s was. I believe Heath is a cleaner, someone Parker hired to get rid of any hint of corruption,” Jack said.

“If that’s true, then why threaten to burn down the city?” Ray asked.

“Because much like when you’re using fire to clean up debris from your yard, if you are not careful, it can get away from you,” Jack explained.

“So we need to get to Parker before Heath can go too far,” Kristina said.

“That’s what I propose,” Jack said. “However, I think it best if we speak to your editor friend first. He may be able to provide us with a list of Parker’s known associates.”

“All right. Now we have a plan,” Ray said. “Rory and I will go pay a visit to Parker. Mavis, you and Billy go with Kristina to talk to the editor.”

“One problem,” Lucas chimed in.

Billy motioned to the parking lot as Lucas said,

“A black four-door town car has been parked out there since we got here. The two people inside haven’t moved. They’ve just been sitting there waiting.”

“They’re here for us?” Mavis asked.

“Most likely a warning,” Dylan said. “Someone like Charles Heath wouldn’t go through the trouble of releasing us just to turn around and kill us.”

“Unless he enjoys the chase,” Eddie replied.

“It doesn’t matter,” Lucas said. “You guys wait here. I’m going out to have a little talk with our friends.”

When Billy stood up, Rory stood as well.

“No chance, cowboy! I’m not letting you go out there alone.”

“Billy, please!” Mavis pleaded.

“Don’t worry, love. We’ll keep him safe,” Jack said as Billy left the diner with Rory.

“He’ll be okay. Just wait here a minute while I pay the tab,” Ray insisted.

“Hey! Billy took the saltshaker,” Kristina said.


*          *          *


The front door of the diner closed behind them as Billy and Rory stepped out into the parking lot. When they approached the town car, the two men inside climbed out.

Turning toward Billy, one of the men said,

“Mr. Heath wants you to stay out of this. He is not yet ready for your part—”

Before he could finish, Billy, his hand wrapped around the saltshaker, struck him across the face, knocking him to the pavement. Then he threw the shaker like a fast-pitch softball at the man standing by the passenger door, smashing his nose. Before the driver could recover from the blow, Billy pulled the pistol from his holster, struck him across the jaw, and then took aim at the passenger as he reached for his weapon.

Rory, making his way around the trunk, stopped and watched as Billy looked down the pistol sights at the passenger.

“Tell your boss I won’t stand on the sidelines while he commits murder,” Lucas ordered. “If he wants to play a game, he needs to understand that the game has already started.”

As the passenger cupped his bleeding nose, Eddie spoke up.

“If I were he, I’d just wait till your back was turned then shoot you. Who’s to say he’s not already planning his next move?”

“We have him cold,” said Dylan. “He’s too stupid to try anything.”

As the other personalities chimed in, the man on the ground shook his head and slowly reached for his back up pistol.

“Watch out!” Eddie yelled.

Before Rory could react, Billy, his eyes still trained on the passenger, switched the pistol to his left hand and shot the driver in the shoulder.

“Now go tell your boss what happened here,” Lucas said.

“But you may first go to a hospital. That wound doesn’t look good,” Victoria instructed.

Billy turned to Rory, ejected the pistol’s clip, and then threw the pistol into a nearby trash can.

“We should get back to the others,” Jack said.

After a moment, Billy shook his head and said,

“Wonder what they have for dessert.”