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.

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Published in: on December 16, 2017 at 8:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 24

Not sure what to do, the bartender at Eight Ball’s looked nervously from Nathan to Elizabeth.

“Look, Jacob,” Nathan said. “May I call you Jacob?”

“My name’s Bam Bam,” the bartender growled.

“Jacob, I don’t want any trouble. I j—.”

Nathan suddenly stopped and asked,

“Bam Bam? Really?”

The bartender responded with a scowl, keeping his eyes fixed on Elizabeth as she picked up a knife off the bar, slowly bent the blade into a circle, dropped it then checked her nails.

“Look, Jacob, what I need is a package left here by Daniel Lincoln. I know he frequented this place,” Nathan insisted.

When the bartender didn’t budge, Nathan sighed,

“C’mon, Jacob. His name is scribbled by the dartboard on the list of scores to beat, and the initials DL are carved into this bar right there,” Nathan said pointing. “Besides, you have his picture on the wall behind you with ‘Pay first. No credit’ written across it.”

Then he leaned over and whispered,

“Listen, Jacob. Daniel’s dead. Somebody blew him up, and the package you’re hiding for him might give me a clue as to who killed him.”

“Lincoln’s dead?” Jacob asked.

Nathan held up both fists then expanded his fingers while mouthing the word boom.

“Hey!” someone yelled from across the bar.

Nathan slowly turned to see a giant of a man standing well over six feet, his arms like tree branches as he flexed his thick muscles. Shoving aside the bar patrons in his path, he slowly made his way through the crowd and stopped just short of the bar.

“Meta or not, no one comes into my bar and throws my boys around,” he barked.

“And who are you?” Elizabeth asked.

“Let me introduce you to Hank,” Nathan explained, “or as his friends call him, Jackal. He owns this place.”

“That’s right, pal, and no two-bit supers are going to come in here and threaten me or my boys. We don’t bend to The Shadows, and we won’t bend to you,” Hank asserted.

“Now this should be fun,” Elizabeth smiled. “I skipped the gym this morning, so I’ve been looking for something to balance that out.”

“You may be tough, lady, but you ain’t bulletproof!” Hank sneered.

“Let’s go,” Elizabeth challenged, taking a step forward.

“Wait,” Nathan said, reaching out to stop Elizabeth.

“What?” Elizabeth asked.

“Our buddy Hank is right. You’re not bulletproof,” Nathan pointed out.

“What?” Elizabeth asked in surprise.

Just then front doors swung open and Jericho stepped in.

“But he is,” Nathan smiled.

Suddenly the bar went quiet and Hank took a step back as Jericho walked through the crowd to Nathan and Elizabeth.

“What are you doing here?” Elizabeth asked him.

“He’s been tracking us,” Nathan said.

Outraged, Elizabeth snapped, “What?”

“Now don’t be upset, Elizabeth. I know Nathan can be a bad influence on you,” Jericho teased.

Then he turned to face Hank. Although Hank stood a full three inches taller than Jericho, he slowly backed down.

“They attacked two of my patrons,” Hank said, his voice a bit softer.

“Well I’m sure they didn’t want to, and I’m certain they’re sorry,” Jericho said.

Turning to Nathan and Elizabeth, Jericho asked, “Aren’t you?”

Elizabeth rolled her eyes, paused then nodded reluctantly.

“See? No problem,” Jericho said.

Nathan turned back around to Jacob and asked,

“Now, Jacob, what about that package?”

Without a word, Jacob left the bar and disappeared into a back room.

“It’s a good thing my meeting with the mayor ended early. What are you two doing here in Sandy Grotto anyway?” asked Jericho.

“The victim Daniel Lincoln lived just up the street from here,” Nathan said.

“And you’re investigating his murder alongside the police?” Jericho asked.

“Sure we are,” Nathan answered, turning away from Jericho.

“Nathan, what’s going on? I don’t mind helping out, but I don’t like getting involved with a murder investigation outside police jurisdiction.”

“Oh we’re not,” Elizabeth assured him. “Detective Shields knows we’re involved.”

Jericho’s eyes grew wide as he asked,

“Cassandra’s involved in this?”

Then he paused and relaxed.

“Well if she knows, I guess you’re okay.”

Jericho turned away trying to hide the blush that crept up his cheeks.

Before Nathan could make any snide remarks, the door behind the bar opened and Jacob came out carrying a thick envelope.

When he dropped it on the bar, he said,

“Daniel told me to hold onto this in case anything happened to him. Look, he was a good guy and we all want whoever killed him to pay.”

Inside the envelope, Nathan found photos of an older man with a younger woman. Pulling some of the pictures free, he spread them out onto the bar.

“Any idea who these people are?” Elizabeth asked.

“Nope,” Jericho said.

Nathan studied the pictures for a moment then said,

“The man is Martin Armstrong, chairman of the board for Pearson Plasma Technologies. The girl is Jessica Alexander, an engineering student at Crescent Bay University.”

The photos seemed innocent enough until Nathan emptied out the rest of the envelope’s contents and saw shots of Armstrong and Alexander in a nightclub, embracing at their table, kissing on the dance floor.

“Armstrong is married but not to Alexander,” Nathan explained.

“You think Lincoln was blackmailing Armstrong and got killed for it?” Elizabeth suggested.

“Good chance,” Jericho replied.

Stuffing the photos back into the envelope, Nathan said,

“We’ll have to question Armstrong and find out.”

“No you won’t,” a voice behind them said.

Turning toward the doorway, Nathan saw Graham Prescott followed by four men. He wore the same dark blue suit from earlier in the day.

“Did I not tell you to stay out of this?” Prescott asked.

“Technically, you threatened me,” Nathan replied.

“You say potato; I say tomato. Point is, you’re still involved. Now I’ve got to rectify that,” Prescott said as he unbuttoned his jacket.

“None of you are cops, so get out, every one of you,” Hank demanded. “I’m not having any metas throwing down in here, messing up my bar. Get out!”

Suddenly a shot rang out and Hank fell backwards dead. Prescott returned the pistol to one of his men then retrieved his cane.

“I wasn’t asking his opinion. Does anyone else here wish to share their thoughts?”

“You’re going to pay for that,” Jericho said, stomping forward.

Slowly, Prescott turned sideways, flipped his cane upside down, and held it like a golf club. When Jericho drew closer, Prescott swung the cane up. As it made contact with Jericho, a flash of blue energy shot out, sending Jericho flying backwards, crashing through the back wall.

Then with a flip of his wrist, Prescott turned the cane right side up and suggested to the crowd,

“Unless you want to die, I’d leave if I were you.”

As bikers stumbled over each other scrambling for the exit, Prescott’s men poured into Eight Ball’s.

“Do what you want with the girl,” Prescott told his men. “Makes no difference to me.”

Then looking towards Nathan he said,

“Since the king’s off limits, I guess I’ll have to settle for the Prophet.”

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  
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The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 23

Daniel Lincoln had leased an apartment on the fourth floor of Medallion Heights, a rundown building in the low rent part of Sandy Grotto.  Nathan maneuvered his bike around the potholes and pulled to a stop. Trash piled up in the alleys outside the long neglected and overlooked buildings. It was a place of gray despair. Nathan let his eyes wander over the boarded up broken windows, graffiti, and filth of Medallion Heights. This was what Lincoln had called home.

Sandy Grotto was an island just off the coast of Crescent Bay. The poor part of town, it was a thorn in the side of Crescent Bay’s city fathers, one they would like to remove, especially the wealthy who lived in Blackstone, the jewel in the city’s crown. To that end, the small, humble housing for low-income residents was gradually being converted to upscale lofts for young professionals, housing far beyond the reach of the poor.

Nathan heard the sound of children and turned to see three kids playing ball in the grass of an empty lot while another child played alone, chasing a plastic bag that danced through the air just out of her reach. Watching Nathan were three men sitting on the steps leading into Medallion Heights. They wore matching colors, the uniform of The Shadows, and Nathan had dropped himself right into their territory. One of them stood, the leader Nathan figured, and started walking toward the bike, followed by the other two men. His head was cocked to one side, and he wore an arrogant smile.

“Marco Collazo,” Nathan thought. “Overcompensates for his lack of esteem. Afraid of the dark and snakes.”

“Nice bike. You lost?” Collazo asked.

Just then Elizabeth landed behind Nathan with a thud. When she kept her wings extended, the men hesitated and stepped back.

“Is there a problem?” Elizabeth asked.

“Not anymore, chica,” Collazo said. “You know who I am?”

“Should I?” Elizabeth returned.

“Mr. Collazo, I need your help,” Nathan interrupted. “I want to take a look inside the apartment of one of the tenants, Daniel Lincoln.”

“Why would I help you?” Collazo asked. “What’s in it for me?”

“I know who keeps breaking into your mom’s house,” Nathan said.

Collazo went white with rage and took a step toward Nathan.

“You?” Collazo demanded.

“No, not me. But I can give you the name of the guy. And if that isn’t enough, I can always inform Shadow Leader why your crew came up short two weeks ago,” Nathan explained.

“You threatening me?” Collazo barked.

“Nope. I don’t threaten. . .,” Nathan paused to point to Elizabeth.

“She does.”

Taking Nathan’s cue, Elizabeth walked over and picked up a discarded water pipe then bent it into a circle. She held it up for a moment, bent it back to its original shape then tossed it aside.

Collazo’s eyes grew wide with amazement.

 

Nathan slipped his hand into his pocket and removed a small notepad. He scribbled something then tore the sheet free.

“I need for you to run interference for me while I check out Lincoln’s apartment. Here is the name of the individual who has broken into your mother’s place twice. He’s caused people a lot of pain, and in two days he’s going to murder someone. Don’t be gentle.”

Nathan handed the paper to Collazo then stepped around him.

As he watched Elizabeth walk away with Nathan, one of Collazo’s associates said,

“Esa chica está bien, pero ella es peligrosa.”

The other man smiled, “Estoy enamorado”

As they stepped inside the shabby lobby of Medallion Heights, closing the door behind them, Elizabeth asked,

“They’re with The Shadows?”

“Yep,” Nathan replied. Sensing her next question, he added, “The Shadows don’t discriminate based on race, nationality, gender or even living status. Anyone can join.”

“Oh,” Elizabeth said. “Wait! What?”

“Julian Sharpe, or Shadow Leader, is a meta with the ability to summon and control the dead. He formed the gang and because he can manipulate shadows, his gang took the name The Shadows and he became known as Shadow Leader.”

Nathan and Elizabeth walked up four flights to Lincoln’s apartment. Trying the door, he found it was locked.

“The manager has a spare key. Let me go find him. I’ll be right back.”

“You certain it’s locked?” Elizabeth asked, hitting the door with her open palm. Under the force, the lock splintered and the door swung open.

“Oh look,” Elizabeth said coyly. “It’s unlocked.”

“That’s against the rules,” Nathan chided.

“What rules? I didn’t sign any special employment contract. I can do whatever I want,” Elizabeth said, sashaying into the apartment.

Lincoln’s place had a musty smell. In several spots, the wallpaper was peeling, exposing patches of mildew from leaky pipes in the walls. The carpet, once a plush rich tan, was now flattened by years of footsteps and covered with brown and black stains. Opposite the door sat an old couch, its bright, vibrant colors faded into dull weary reminders scattered across the torn fabric and misshapen cushions.

The moment he walked through the door, Nathan was flooded with the apartment’s secrets down through the years.

Lincoln’s sister had slept on the couch during a bad snowstorm that kept her from flying home after her visit. It was the same couch where Lincoln suffered a bad reaction to drugs bought from money he’d stolen from his sister’s purse. At his feet, Nathan could feel the memory of the wet carpet from the many times Lincoln had walked home in a rainstorm drunk and crashed to sleep off hangovers. One large window to the right of the couch was stained brown from the mud and paint that had been thrown at it during a riot that took place years ago.

Nathan closed his eyes and concentrated on blocking out the flood of foul memories.

“Are you okay?” Elizabeth asked.

“I will be,” Nathan responded.

“This place is absolutely filthy!” Elizabeth said, curling her lip in disgust.

“You have no idea how filthy,” Nathan said as another memory made him gag.

“Any idea where Lincoln would keep his blackmail file?” Elizabeth asked.

“None. If I open my mind, I’ll be inundated with every revolting thing that happened here, so let’s try doing this the old fashioned way,” Nathan insisted.

“Okay. We can start by looking around,” Elizabeth suggested.

“Right. Just be careful not to touch anything. The cops haven’t searched this place yet,” Nathan advised.

“Of course,” Elizabeth replied.

After searching for five minutes, Elizabeth called out from the bedroom,

“You find anything?”

“No blackmail file but a lot more than I wanted to know,” Nathan frowned.

Joining Nathan in the living room, she saw him looking intently at something out the window.

“What are you looking at?” she asked, coming alongside him.

“That bar across the street with graffiti and bars on the windows. Coltrane’s. Looks like it might be the watering hole for the locals.”

“Can we go now? I don’t think Lincoln ever cleaned up! This place is littered with trash and matchbooks from some bar called Eight Ball’s.”

Nathan turned away from the window and looked at Elizabeth.

“What was the name of the bar?” he asked.

“Eight Ball’s,” Elizabeth repeated. “Why? Is that important?”

Nathan took a second look at Coltrane’s and said,

“Let’s go find this bar Eight Ball’s. See what it has to offer in the way of information. What’s the address?”

 

 

*          *          *

 

Eight Ball’s turned out to be a biker bar less than five miles down the street from Lincoln’s apartment. Out front, motorcycles were lined up like horses outside a saloon. Nathan got a few side-glances while Elizabeth was welcomed by a chorus of catcalls.

The wood porch thumped under the weight of Nathan’s boots. When they stepped inside the bar, they were hit with thick smoke, suspicious glares, and excessively loud music.

Elizabeth followed Nathan as he headed over to the bar. The bartender, a short man sporting a Mohawk, stopped wiping a glass long enough to ask,

“What’ll it be?”

“I’m looking for information a friend of mine may have left here. His name’s Daniel Lincoln.”

“I might be able to help you,” a man’s voice said behind them.

He walked straight to Elizabeth, winked at her, and said,

“Name’s Gordon, little lady. What’s your name?”

“Just tell me what you know,” Elizabeth ordered.

“Not here,” Gordon said. “Follow me.”

“I wouldn’t do that,” Nathan advised.

“I’ll be fine,” Elizabeth assured him.

As they walked away, Nathan said,

“I was talking to him.”

“What’s keeping me from having you thrown out?” the bartender asked.

“Wait a minute and you’ll see,” Nathan said.

A few moments after Elizabeth disappeared into a back room with Gordon, there was a loud thump and the door splintered as Gordon crashed through it, flew across the bar and smashed through a window. Elizabeth stepped out of the room, brushing herself off. The bar patrons quickly backed up as she walked over to Nathan.

“That’s why,” Nathan told the bartender.

Turning to Elizabeth, he asked, “Did he know anything?”

Elizabeth carefully smoothed her hair, returning loose strands to their place, then said,

“No, except where not to put his hands.”

“That was my boy!” one of the bikers growled as he stormed up to Elizabeth.

With one of her wings, she grabbed the man by his shirt, slammed his head into the bar and threw him backwards across the room.

When he crashed into the jukebox, the bar went silent.

“Sorry about your jukebox,” Nathan said nonchalantly. “Now what can you tell me about Daniel Lincoln?”

When the bartender hesitated, Elizabeth glared at him and Nathan asked,

“Please?”

Published in: on November 17, 2017 at 6:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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.”

The Train: Episode 77

In the wake of Kenneth Cooper’s death in 1970, Dr. Ricer quietly listened as everyone tried to figure out what had happened.

“So because we saved Cynthia Cooper, she turned her little boy into that?” Nicole asked.

“Kenneth said we should have let his mom die. According to him, she ruined his life and things only got worse after that,” Michael explained.

By now, Lucy was sleeping peacefully, her head resting on Ricer’s lap as he stroked his granddaughter’s long blonde hair. Had he know what taking the train that night would do to their lives, he never would have climbed aboard. He would have taken her straight home or at least put her in a cab. Anything but have her see what she’d seen. Ricer hoped in time her young mind would gloss over the memories and she wouldn’t need therapy.

“According to recorded history,” Ricer explained, “Cynthia Cooper was a drug addict who had men pay her bills in exchange for favors. Some of those men were also interested in Cynthia’s little boy. Although we don’t have any information about what specifically happened to Kenneth, we know that he suffered at the hands of his mother. At worst, she abused him. At best, she left him outside on the fire escape while she entertained her visitors. After her death from a drug overdose, Kenneth was too old to enter foster care, so he ended up on the street. He’s lost to history after that. I don’t know what drove him to become who he was.”

“A need for vengeance and a desire to fix his life,” Elliot said, patting the head of his gray and white husky.

“Obviously his anger towards his mother and the abuse he suffered at her hands led him to hate her. He knew the train existed—”

“How is that even possible?” Nicole interrupted. “I thought the train existed outside time and space, where there are no witnesses.”

Elliot continued, “The people you encounter out there in the real world start to forget about you soon after you leave. After a while, even the people you saved have only faint memories of you, and before too long, their imaginations have filled in the details. However, some of the more obsessive minds can latch onto the details and run over them again and again. This leads to stories being told that eventually grow from legends into myths. Kenneth Cooper knew the train existed because he saw it back in 1943.”

“And when he saw us the same age we were when we saved his mother, he knew,” Michael reasoned.

Elliot nodded, “Yep.”

“That was the moment he knew what he saw was real and how he could finally fix his life,” Michael added.

“That’s why he wanted on the train,” Nicole replied. “He wanted to stop us from saving his mother.”

“I’m sorry we couldn’t save him,” Ricer said.

The face of little Kenneth Cooper floated through Nicole’s mind. She remembered him staring at her, devoid of any expression.

Suddenly the whistle sounded and the train began to slow.

“Next stop,” Roscoe called out, walking through the cabin.

“May Lucy stay here?” Ricer asked.

“Sorry, Dr. Ricer, but she’s part of the team. She has to go with you,” Roscoe apologized.

“But she hasn’t done anything, really,” Ricer pleaded. “I know she’ll be safe here.”

As Michael stood up and grabbed his bag, he tried to sound reassuring.

“We’ll keep an eye on her, Doc. Don’t worry about Kenneth Cooper. He’s dead. It’s over now.”

Reluctantly, Ricer scooped up the sleeping Lucy and carried her off the train.

* * *

“Ripples: The Saint”

Alaska

October 2008

Michael and Nicole pushed against the rotting cabin door and stepped out into a forest of trees heavy with moss. The thick clouds overhead draped the woods in twilight. Dr. Ricer maneuvered his way through the narrow opening as he carried his sleeping grandchild. When he came alongside Nicole, the door closed behind them.

Straight ahead was a narrow path covered with autumn leaves in shades of brilliant golds, oranges, and reds. As Michael started down the path, the dying leaves crunched underfoot and the woods grew thicker until they could no longer see the sky.

“Where are we?” Michael asked. “It’s getting dark up ahead.”

Ricer looked around and said,

“Hard to tell. This place isn’t on any maps. I can tell you, though, that its late October 2008, and we’re in Alaska.”

A slight chill in the air heralded the coming winter. Nicole shivered and pulled her coat tightly around her. Farther down the path, they came upon a sign.

“Tearmann River Spa and Resort,” Michael read, struggling to see in the fading light. “Well, I guess this must be where they need us.”

“Something about this place feels wrong,” Nicole said uneasily. “Weird.”

“Probably just the weather and the lack of a day or night cycle. That’s Alaska. You’ll get used to it,” Michael assured her.

“Why doesn’t it bother you?” Nicole asked.

“The way I was raised. My father always kept the lights on in the house with the windows blacked out. He didn’t want me to develop sleep patterns dependent upon the cycle of night and day,” Michael explained.

“Are you aware that what your father did could be considered child abuse?” Ricer pointed out.

“I know,” Michael admitted. “But my father used to say that the hottest fires make the strongest swords.”

“Of course he did,” Nicole said, rolling her eyes.

The path turned up ahead and as the trees opened, light poured into an idyllic scene. Ten buildings encircled one large one whose gardens ran along a peaceful river bubbling over rocks. Near the main building, a pool was filled with laughing children and couples splashing and swimming as a small band played cheerful music in the background. Warmth radiated from the captivating scene of welcome.

“So where are we again, Doc?” Michael asked, feeling himself relax a little.

“Tearmann River Spa and Resort,” Ricer answered.

“Why are we here?” Nicole asked.

“A week from now, a truck carrying supplies will make its usual delivery here. But when the driver gets out of his truck, he will discover twenty members of staff and sixty guests dead,” Ricer said.

“How do they die?” Nicole asked.

“Most of them are poisoned. Others are killed in more brutal ways, and some are hanged. Those are just the ones the authorities find,” Ricer explained.

“What do you mean, find?” Michael asked.

“The resort currently has over ninety-seven guests and twenty-seven on staff,” Ricer said.

“One hundred twenty-four people total,” Nicole said, “and only eighty-seven were found. That means. . .”

Nicole trailed off, wrapping her coat more tightly.

“Eighty-seven people will be killed, and thirty-seven will never be found,” Nicole finished. “I told you there was something off here.”

“What is this place?” Michael asked with growing uneasiness.

Published in: on October 14, 2017 at 12:54 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 22

“A public spectacle?” Elizabeth repeated.

“Yes, Ms. Hayes. It has been proven that when meta humans get involved, the situation tends to escalate,” Prescott explained.

“What if I am unable to leave this alone? I tend to get singularly focused on things, almost to the point of obsession,” Nathan asked although he already knew the answer.

“Then my company will be forced to intercede on behalf of my client and his request to keep this investigation out of the public eye,” Prescott replied.

“Is that a threat?” Elizabeth asked as she stepped forward, her hand moving towards her pistol.

“No, no. If all goes as I hope, this will be the last time we speak. I’m simply giving you a word of advice. Your. . .,” Prescott paused searching for the words, “. . .red sky in the morning, if you will.”

“Pleasure,” he added before turning and walking to a waiting car.

“The nerve of that guy making threats!” Elizabeth growled.

Nathan paused and said, “Maybe he’s right.”

“What?” Elizabeth snapped. “You’re just going to roll over?”

“My interference could drastically affect the outcome of this investigation. Perhaps it would be wise just to go back home and leave this to the police,” Nathan suggested.

Elizabeth stared at Nathan for a moment then asked,

“You’re serious?”

“Yep,” Nathan replied. “Lately, I haven’t been feeling well, and maybe I’m just chasing ghosts. I think I need to go lie down. A nice long nap will do me good.”

For a moment, Elizabeth eyed Nathan suspiciously then said,

“All right. If that’s the way you want to go, I’ll leave you to it. But, listen. Jericho asked me to keep an eye on you, so let’s meet up later.”

“I’ll call you,” Nathan said.

Elizabeth spread her wings and shot into the air. When she was well out of sight, Nathan climbed aboard his motorcycle and headed for Crescent Bay University, home of the Fighting Stingray’s and the last place Daniel Lincoln was seen alive.

* * *

The campus of Crescent Bay University was buzzing with students, running to class or sprawled out under the spreading oaks in groups, talking and laughing. Near the corner where Nathan parked his bike, some beefy guys were throwing a football while a tall, lean man grilled up hamburgers.

Nathan stood still, taking it all in. The smell of the sizzling meat was enticing. He never had the chance to go to college, and from what he saw around him, he had really missed out.

“You look like you could use a beer,” the man cooking the meat said. He reached toward Nathan with a cold beer, water droplets slowly working their way down the metal.

“No, thank you,” Nathan said with a smile.

“What about you, Miss?” the man asked, offering the beverage to someone behind Nathan.

“Thanks, but no,” Elizabeth said as Nathan turned around to meet her eyes.

“Liar,” Elizabeth accused.

Nathan noticed that her gun belt was gone and her wings were tucked behind her.

“I wanted to speak with a psychologist about my insomnia,” Nathan lied.

“Can it, Nathan! You wanted me to go home where it was safe and. . . what? Do my nails? Truth is you’re far more fragile than I am, so if anyone needs to go home, it’s you!” Elizabeth argued.

“I’ll be fine,” Nathan said heading towards the main building.

“Fine?” Elizabeth asked, walking alongside him. “Compared to me, buddy, you’re a porcelain doll.”

As they crossed the campus, the guys with the football stopped the game to whistle at Elizabeth.

“I understand you ditched the gun belt because this is a university campus, but it’s going to be hard to blend in with you wearing that skintight body suit,” Nathan said.

“What? It reduces wind resistance,” Elizabeth explained. “It’s not my fault I look amazing in it.”

“Well at least I know they won’t be looking at me,” Nathan said.

Elizabeth couldn’t help but laugh.

* * *

Once inside the main building, Nathan didn’t hesitate. He walked past teachers and students as if he’d been there many times before. Turning left, he headed down a long hallway then paused just as a student came out of a classroom, his arms loaded with books.

“Excuse me,” the student said as he struggled to keep a grip on the small library he was carrying.

A few more turns and Nathan came to a door locked with a key pad. He punched in six digits, opened the door and turned on the lights. The large room was filled with sinks, workbenches, and garbage cans and had a wide drain in the floor. A shelf opposite the door held stacks of chemicals and beakers. Nathan stopped in the doorway and slowly looked around.

“Are we going in?” Elizabeth asked.

“No need,” Nathan said. “The police will be here soon, and I don’t want to disturb anything.”

“You think the killer was here?” Elizabeth asked.

Nathan closed his eyes for a moment then opened them.

“Nope. Just Lincoln and the other members of the custodial staff. One of them is having an affair with a teacher,” he said.

When Nathan flipped off the light, Elizabeth glanced over the darkened room then asked,

“In there? Yuck!”

She let the automatic door close and followed Nathan through the maze of hallways to the building’s front entrance.

Campus walking traffic was still heavy as people crossed the grounds from every direction. A group of students had settled down at one of the stone tables under an oak and was eating lunch. Suddenly a teacher approached the group and began scolding one of the students.

“What teacher is having the affair?” Elizabeth asked.

“That one,” Nathan said pointing to the angry teacher.

“Not only is she sleeping with Harris, one of the janitors, but she’s also having an affair with one of her students,” Nathan explained.

“Wow!” Elizabeth reacted.

“Imagine how her husband will feel when he finds out in two weeks,” Nathan sighed.

Elizabeth frowned and shook her head in sorrow as they walked back to the bike.

“What about we—.”

Nathan stopped when he realized Elizabeth was no longer beside him. He turned around and saw her a few yards back watching a group of students gathered in a circle.

Elizabeth was clenching and unclenching her fists as Nathan walked up.

“What is it?” he asked.

“That guy in the middle. He’s tormenting that student we saw in the hallway a few minutes ago, and everybody’s just standing around laughing.”

“It’s not our place to interfere,” Nathan pointed out as he tried to keep his mind focused on the mystery.

“Fine! I’ll just break him in half!” Elizabeth said.

“Wait,” Nathan advised, “I’ll handle it.”

He and Elizabeth walked over to the crowd. The young student’s books were strewn across the grass, and every time he picked up one of the books, the bully mocked him and knocked it out of his hands.

Nathan stood watching until the bully noticed him.

“What’s your problem?” the bully asked.

“Nothing, Trevor,” Nathan said.

“I know you?” Trevor asked.

Nathan shook his head no.

“Wait a minute. I know that guy,” one of Trevor’s friends said, pointing to Nathan. “He’s been on TV. And the chick with him, she’s one too.”

“Chick?” Elizabeth snapped and started towards them.

Nathan held up his hand, holding Elizabeth at bay.

“See now the lady here would very much like to snap you into pieces, but I told her you could be spoken to rationally, like an adult,” Nathan said. “Isn’t that right,. . .Bunny.”

Trevor froze and his skin went pale.

“Who told you about that name?” Trevor asked.

“No one. I just know a lot. Like what happened when you were doing squats in the gym, or what you’re deathly afraid of, or what show is your guilty pleasure.”

Nathan leaned in and whispered,

“Or why your uncle called you Bunny.”

Trevor’s face suddenly went from white panic to flush with anger.

He threw a wild punch at Nathan only to have Elizabeth catch his fist. Trevor winched in pain as Elizabeth slowly tightened her grip.

Nathan heard Trevor’s hand begin to crack and said,

“Now do me a favor. Leave Mr. Price here alone. Would you?”

Trevor nodded and cried out, “Okay. Okay”

When Elizabeth released his hand, Nathan advised,

“You really should take that hand to the hospital.”

As Trevor and his friends ran off and the crowd dissipated, Nathan turned to help Price collect his books.

“Thank you,” Price said.

“No problem, Ethan,” Nathan said.

“Maybe you should get a bag for those,” Elizabeth suggested.

“I will. I just can’t afford one right now,” Ethan explained.

“Ask Susan in your American Lit class. She’ll be more than willing to help you,” Nathan winked.

“Really?” Ethan asked with excitement.

“Really,” Nathan replied.

As they left behind the smiling boy, Elizabeth asked,

“Who’s Susan?”

“Susan Frost is a girl from Ethan’s high school who currently shares several classes with him. She’s been crazy about him for years, but he’s always thought she didn’t know he existed.”

“That’s nice,” Elizabeth said. “Good job, Nathan. Where to now?”

“Lincoln’s home,” Nathan replied.

Published in: on October 14, 2017 at 12:50 am  Leave a Comment  
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Unsettled: Episode 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We’re wasting time,” Rory growled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m going after him!”

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

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

What’s wrong?” Ray asked.

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

“That’s a lot of zeroes,” Ray said.

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

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

Mavis hesitated for a moment then said,

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

Ray and Rory were stunned into silence.

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Take the wheel?” Dylan asked.

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

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

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

* * *

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

“What happened?” Heath asked.

“That semi clipped us,” the driver explained.

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

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

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

Climbing back into the car, he told his driver,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Saved at the last minute,” Heath said.

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

“For your sake, I hope that works.”

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

Suddenly the brakes engaged.

Shocked by the sudden stop, Lucas yelled,

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

“Everyone okay?” she asked.

“No!” Billy snapped.

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

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

Still staring off at nothing, Billy said,

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

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

“You all right?” he asked.

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

“Victoria said that?” Ray asked.

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

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

“So what’s going on there?”

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

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

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

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

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

The Train: Episode 76

They were less than twenty seconds through the door when a frightened cat bolted, knocking over a potted plant balanced on an antique pedestal table just inside the entrance to the old house where Roscoe had brought them before he returned to the train. Michael looked at Nicole and whispered,

“Well, there goes our advantage. Be careful.”

Indignant that he felt the need to say that, Nicole glared at him and tilted her head.

The smell in the old house was overpowering. Michael’s eyes slowly began to water at the stench, but Nicole didn’t seem to notice. With revolver in hand, Michael pointed at the stairs then crept past toward the back of the house.

Nicole nodded and headed for the staircase, leading with her silenced pistol. Ready to fire, she kept her body low and slowly ascended the stairs, stopping to listen between steps. On the landing at the top were two closed doors. She followed the smell to the first and cautiously opened it. Inside the room, she discovered the rotting corpse of an old woman resting in a chair. After a cursory scan of the room, she saw no obvious hiding places and silently closed the door. Turning away, she moved to the other door opposite the hall. When she slowly opened that door, she saw Dr. Ricer tied to a chair with a gag in his mouth and a grenade taped to his chest. Quickly she pulled out her knife and sliced through a string tied to the grenade pin at one end and at the other to a door leading out.

As soon as she pulled away the gag and began to untie him, Ricer warned,

“We must hurry! He has Elliot!”

“Who does?” Nicole asked.

“The killer!” Ricer responded.

“I deduced that much. I meant who is he?” Nicole replied.

“Forgive me. I am quite frazzled,” Ricer said.

“The killer is Kenneth Cooper.”

“Who?” Nicole asked.

“Do you remember the little boy from our last stop when we saved Cynthia Cooper?” Ricer asked.

Nicole took a second to think as she pulled off the last of the tape.

“The little boy. Her little boy? Yes, I remember him now. Why is he the killer?”

“First, let’s save Elliot, and then I will tell you everything I know,” Ricer returned.

“Okay. Where did they go?” Nicole asked.

“Through there,” Ricer said, pointing to the door with the string still attached.

When Nicole tried the door, she found it was locked.

“Come on. We need to go help Michael!” she ordered, grabbing Ricer and pulling him from the room.

* * *

Michael cleared the living room and what looked like a spare bedroom. As he entered the kitchen, he saw over the sink a large window that gave a full view of the backyard. At the edge of the yard was an old split rail fence with a drop off on the other side leading down to the ocean. Through the open door, Michael could hear the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks below.

Suddenly he spotted movement in the yard. A man, his back toward the house, was leading Elliot at gunpoint towards the split rail fence.

Michael crept up to the open door and quietly slipped outside. Inching his way through the grass, he moved closer until the same cat bolted past with a loud yowl. Michael mentally cursed the creature for given away his position twice.

The man grabbed Elliot’s arm and spun around, putting Elliot between him and Michael as he pressed the gun to Elliot’s throat. Michael kept coming closer.

“Stop or I will kill him. I know you don’t want that to happen. And don’t try and bluff me.”

Michael recognized the man holding Elliot.

“You!” Michael said.

“You remember me. I am flattered,” the man said with a smirk.

“Lincoln,” Michael said. “Why are you doing this?”

“My name is Kenneth!” the man snapped.

Suddenly it clicked where Michael had first seen Lincoln. It was right after they had arrived here. He had helped Michael stop a purse thief. At the time, he had thought the man looked familiar but until now, he hadn’t placed him.

“Kenneth Cooper,” Michael said. “We saved your mother.”

“You should have let her die when she was supposed to. She made my life a nightmare that only got worse after she finally died. All you had to do was stay out of it, but no, you had to get involved,” Kenneth snapped.

Michael moved a few steps closer.

“Stop moving or I will shoot him!” Kenneth barked. “I don’t need all of you to be alive to get what I want. I just need one of you.”

“What is it you want, Kenneth?” Michael asked.

“He wants on the train,” Elliot said.

“Shut up!” Kenneth shouted. “Now toss your gun away.”

Michael hesitated for a moment, but knowing Nicole wasn’t far behind, he decided to comply.

When he tossed his gun towards Elliot, it bounced and landed on Elliot’s right boot.

“I don’t know what you did with my servants, and I really don’t care. I want on the train so I can go back and fix things, clean up your mess. Now tell me where the door is that gets us out of here,” Kenneth ordered.

“What door?” Michael asked.

“Stop stalling,” Kenneth growled, his teeth clenched, as he turned the gun on Michael.

Elliot saw his chance and grabbed Kenneth’s right wrist, twisting it as he kicked Michael’s weapon off his right boot and dove out of the way.

When Kenneth cried out in pain and dropped his gun, Michael turned and flipped through the air towards him then dove for the revolver and caught it as he slid on the wet grass.

Pulling back on the trigger, Michael’s revolver bucked as a bullet fired from the chamber and struck Kenneth in the chest. Recoiling from the shot, Kenneth crashed into the split rail fence and stumbled toward the drop off. As he fell, he grabbed the fence with his left hand.

His grip was weak, and his hand started to slip just as Michael scrambled to his feet.

When his eyes met Michael’s, he smiled then began to cackle hysterically as he fell to the waves and rocks below.

Elliot came alongside Michael at the edge and looked down at the water. There was no sign of Kenneth.

“Where’s Kenneth Cooper?” Ricer asked as he and Nicole burst from the house.

“Down there,” Michael said.

“Come on. It’s time,” Elliot responded as the train whistle blew.

He walked over to the back door of the house and closed it. Waiting until the whistle sounded again, he opened the door to the station on the other side.

“Are you certain he’s dead?” Nicole asked.

“I sure hope so,” Michael replied as they stepped inside the station and closed the door behind them.

Published in: on September 17, 2017 at 2:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 21

Officer Sawyer was clearly taken aback by what Nathan told him. Without leaving his post, he turned toward the scene behind him and called out,

“Hey Detective!”

A slender man with clipped black hair, a thick black mustache and dark skin strolled over to Sawyer.

“Yeah? Whatcha got?” he asked.

“This guy says victim’s Daniel Lincoln,” Sawyer said.

The detective looked at Nathan as he considered the information, but when he saw Elizabeth, his expression twisted into a scowl.

“No supers right now!”

“Detective William French,” Nathan began. “Your mother is from Iran, your father from Boston. Your father was killed by a meta human, and since then you have had no use for them, especially after they stuck you with Detective Cassandra Shields.”

“Who is this guy?” French asked Sawyer. Then looking back at Nathan, he demanded,

“How do you know so much about me, pal?”

“Because he is Nathan Nichols, the Prophet of Crescent Bay,” a young attractive woman said, the curls bouncing in her long brown hair as she walked over.

“Detective Shields,” Nathan said with a nod.

“You know this guy?” French asked with a full measure of contempt.

“Yep. Commissioner Robbins called ahead about him,” Shields explained.

“He can’t enter, Shields,” French insisted. “He’s one of them.”

“One of them?” Shields repeated with a hint of disapproval.

“Relax, French. He’s signed the V.E.C. Let him pass,” Shields instructed.

“Fine! But if we don’t have her signature, she stays on the other side of the tape!” French snapped, pointing to Elizabeth.

“She’s with me,” Nathan said.

As Shields lifted the police tape, Nathan and Elizabeth slipped under. After glaring at them for a moment, French rolled his eyes and walked away.

“Well, prophet,” Shields said, “I know you didn’t murder these people because I just heard you on the radio. But why should I believe you’re not involved?”

“Because I’m willing to pinky swear that I’m innocent?” Nathan teased.

“I don’t think that’ll hold up in court, but okay,” Shields responded with a smile. “Now what can you tell me about the victims?”

“Victim. Singular,” Nathan corrected.

Shields smiled.

“All right you pass. Come with me. You’ll need to speak to the head of Crime Scene.”

As Shields led them onto the scene, Elizabeth asked,

“What’s a vec?”

“The Vigilante Employment Contract, V.E.C. for short, is an agreement every super has to sign. Both the mayor and police commissioner have made it mandatory. Basically, it says that if the hero promises to behave, to cause no unnecessary death or destruction of property, then the city will treat the hero as an employee, covering any lawsuits, injury, or property damage as a result of the hero’s combat. In my case, they added psychological invasion which means that I can’t read someone unless they give me permission or it’s necessary to an investigation.”

“I haven’t signed one,” Elizabeth confessed.

“Don’t worry. You will soon,” Shields assured her.

Turning her profile to them, Shields called out,

“Doc.”

A tall thin balding man rose to his feet and slowly walked over. Removing a pair of large, black goggles, his soft brown eyes twinkled when he smiled.

“Nathan Nichols, this is our head of Crime Scene Dr. Miles Makaw.”

Dr. Makaw extended his hand and when Nathan took it, he saw a flash of a charging rhino and a laughing man.

Pushing aside the vision, Nathan shook his hand and greeted,

“A pleasure, Dr. Makaw.”

Makaw released Nathan’s hand then reached for Elizabeth’s with a smile.

“My dear.”

Turning to Shields, he said,

“I really must be getting back to work. We have debris scattered everywhere, and it will take a while before I can piece together enough of our victim to get a positive id.”

“That’s why I called you over, Doc. Nathan Nichols here is kind of a psychic. He can help with that,” Shields explained.

“Psychic visions and psychometry will not tell me who this man was. Now, please, I must get back to work,” Makaw insisted.

“His name was Daniel Lincoln,” Nathan said.

Makaw looked at Nathan skeptically and responded,

“If you say so.”

As Makaw turned and walked away, Shields apologized.

“I’m sorry. He’s very dedicated to the procedure.”

“Don’t worry about it. Just wait a minute,” Nathan said.

Shields turned and looked around then asked,

“So what are we waiting for? He’s not going to change his mind in a snap.”

“We’re not waiting on him.” Nathan corrected.

A moment later, one of the crime scene techs stood up and started running toward Makaw.

“We’re waiting on him,” Nathan said.

“Sir, I found a wallet,” the tech said.

Makaw took the wallet, opened it and flipped through the contents. When he found a driver’s license, he dropped his head. Slowly he turned and looked at Nathan.

Walking over, Makaw took a deep breath and said,

“All right. I’m listening. What can you tell me about the victim?”

“His name was Daniel Lincoln. He was the only victim in this explosion, but others will die. He worked as a custodial engineer at Crescent Bay University,” Nathan said.

“Anything else?” Makaw asked.

“He was a blackmailer,” Nathan answered.

“Who was he blackmailing?” Shields interrupted.

“That information isn’t clear. I can’t tell. Sorry,” Nathan apologized.

“Well at least you got us closer than we were,” Shields admitted. “Anything else you’d like to share?”

“Detective Shields,” Officer Sawyer called as he approached with a middle-aged woman at his side.

“This lady says she saw the killer.”

“There is one more thing,” Nathan added.

Nodding toward the middle-aged woman, Nathan said, “She’s lying. She didn’t see anything.”

Then he turned and headed back to his bike with Elizabeth following closely behind.

* * *

“That’s it?” Elizabeth asked when she came alongside Nathan.

“Yep,” he said. “I’ve learned all I can from here. Time to go find out more about Daniel Lincoln.”

Nathan slipped under the police tape and was headed back to his bike when he looked up and saw someone standing close to his motorcycle. The man was dressed in a dark blue business suit with matching tie over a black shirt. Nathan watched as he ran his fingers through his short hair then removed his sunglasses to clean them before slipping them back onto his face. In his right hand, he held a black cane encircled with blue stripes.

“May I help you?” Nathan asked as he resisted the urge to read him.

“Yes,” the man said in a silky smooth voice.

Reaching into an inside pocket, he removed a card from his jacket and passed it to Nathan. On the white card in basic black print was a picture of a pit bull over the company name Street Dog Security and a phone number.

“My name is Graham Prescott, and I would like to make a formal request.”

“What can I do for you?” Nathan asked.

“I need for you to leave this case alone. I represent interested parties who don’t want this tragedy to be turned into a circus, and the involvement of meta humans promises to make it. . .,” he paused, “. . .a public spectacle.”