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  
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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  
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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  
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The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 26

Nathan and Elizabeth stayed out of the way as police questioned Martin Armstrong in the lobby of Pearson Plasma Technologies. Outside the building, officers and bomb squad swarmed across the parking lot working through the damage as medical personnel attended to the wounded.

“Any idea what happened?” Elizabeth asked.

“Another man was murdered by a bombing, same as Lincoln,” Nathan said.

“Who’s doing this?” Elizabeth asked.

“I’m not sure yet, but I have my suspicions,” Nathan answered.

“It was one of the people in Lincoln’s blackmail file, wasn’t it?” Elizabeth asked.

“That’s my theory,” Nathan replied.

“When are they going to question us? I’ve got things to do,” Elizabeth asked.

“Should be pretty soon,” Nathan said.

As they waited, Elizabeth let her eyes wander across the lobby until she saw a large glass display case. Inside was a red and black jumpsuit along with helmet, boots, gloves, and rocket pack, all in a matching color scheme. Elizabeth was at once enamored.

“I know that suit! It’s Knightlight!” she said excitedly.

As Nathan followed Elizabeth over to the display case, he said,

“This is the suit once worn by Milford Pearson when he was fighting crime as Knightlight. The boots and jetpack provide both propulsion and balance. The gloves can fire super-heated plasma from the plasma engine in the jet pack, and the helmet links everything together with a voice activation system that allows control of various functions of the suit simply by voice command. The jumpsuit is both waterproof and flame retardant and on hot days can bring the wearer dangerously close to dehydration. Pearson wore this suit for twenty years until his retirement when he opened Pearson Plasma Technologies and retired the suit, leaving the city’s safety to the police department, emergency services and the rising crop of new heroes.”

“Thanks,” Elizabeth said. “Actually, I knew some of that.”

“Pearson updated and maintained the suit well into his retirement, and upon his death he requested that the suit be kept up and maintained should the city ever need Knightlight again,” Nathan continued.

“Like I said, you sound like a tour guide,” Elizabeth teased. “I do have a question though.”

“Did Pearson have any help in creating the engine or was it entirely his brainchild?”

“Actually Pearson never took full credit for the plasma engine. He worked on its initial designs with inventor Foreman Frost who was a friend and mentor. Frost was going to join him in his own suit of armor using the name Professor Phantastic, but he just disappeared leaving Pearson to continue work on the plasma engine without him. Until his death, Pearson never stopped looking for Frost. Kind of sad,” Nathan said.

“Is this the original suit?” Elizabeth asked.

“No. This is just a model for display. They keep the real Knightlight suit safely locked away.”

Elizabeth seemed disappointed.

“I wanted to see the real one, not a duplicate,” she said.

“They have to keep the real one locked up. Can’t risk someone breaking in here and stealing it, can they?” Nathan asked.

“I guess not,” Elizabeth said.

Just then, Detective Cassandra Shields called out, “Nathan.”

Nathan turned toward her voice and saw her motion for him and Elizabeth to come over.

“Sorry for keeping you inside,” Shields apologized as she led them to a back corner of the parking lot. “EMT’s have been tending to injuries, and Dr. Makaw insisted Crime Scene have a look at the damage before you interrupt,” Shields said. “His words not mine.”

“This is where it went off,” Shields said as she pointed to a burning crater in the concrete.

“Any deaths?” Elizabeth asked.

“None other than our victim. Techs found parts of a body, including a finger,” Shields explained.

Just then Makaw, wearing a confident smile, marched up to them and said,

“That’s far enough, Prophet. So tell me what happened here.”

“Victim is River Hastings, an engineering professor at Crescent Bay University. Jessica Alexander is one of his students. He was in the back of a car here,” Nathan said glancing at the scene, “with the bomb strapped to him. The detonator was a cell phone triggered by someone nearby.”

Makaw cursed then said,

“Fascinating. I don’t suppose you can tell me what type of vehicle it was.”

Nathan closed his eyes and after a moment said,

“A 1986 van, blue with tan interior.”

“How could you possibly know that?” Detective French snapped.

“Jericho vouched for him. Don’t forget he works for us,” Shields said.

French threw up his hands and turned away, mumbling under his breath.

“Anything else, Doc?” Shields asked.

“He pretty much summed it up. River Hastings was the victim. He was tied up in the back of a van, and the bomb was triggered by a cell phone signal,” Makaw summarized.

Looking at Nathan, Shields asked, “Any idea who could have done this?”

“Nope,” Nathan lied, “although I do believe Graham Prescott and his men are involved somehow. Don’t have all the answers yet.”

Shields nodded and said,

“Well keep me informed. We’ll finish up here.”

As Nathan and Elizabeth walked away, she whispered,

“You told her you didn’t know who did it.”

“Right,” Nathan replied.

“But what about Armstrong? He was on the phone with his lawyer and you suddenly leapt at him. Why would you do that if you didn’t think he was involved?” Elizabeth asked.

Nathan told Elizabeth what he saw just before the bomb went off.

“Well then Armstrong is obviously the guy. He saw we were onto him, so he’s getting rid of loose ends,” Elizabeth said.

“Normally I would agree with you, but a few things don’t add up,” Nathan explained.

“If Armstrong is the killer, why kill anyone other than Lincoln? We had no clue what was going on until we found the blackmail.”

“And that’s why he had to cover up his affair. Because we found the blackmail. Someone at the bar must have told him,” Elizabeth suggested.

“That’s possible, but when the bomb went off, he was trying to reach his lawyer. When the phone wouldn’t pick up, he seemed genuinely confused,” Nathan reminded her.

“Well he’s just a good actor,” Elizabeth proposed.

“No, no. Something doesn’t feel right,” Nathan said.

“So you think he’s innocent?” Elizabeth asked exasperated.

“No he’s guilty of something. Just not murder. Besides, if this is about blackmail, there’s one more piece that doesn’t fit,” Nathan said.

“What’s that?” Elizabeth asked.

Nathan started to answer but suddenly stopped himself.

“What is it?” Elizabeth insisted.

When he didn’t answer, Elizabeth stepped in front of him and threatened,

“Tell me or I’ll fly up over the city and drop you.”

Nathan hesitated but finally said, “All right. All right. I had a vision before this started of Jericho in the park. He had a bomb strapped to his chest, a bomb just like the others. If this is all about blackmail, why try to kill him?”

“Why try at all?” Elizabeth asked. “Jericho is all but impervious to damage. A bomb like that would kill everyone else before it left a scratch on him.”

“That’s why I think this may be a setup, but for what reason?” Nathan wondered.

“Then we’d better find out,” Elizabeth asserted. “Before it’s too late!”


Unsettled: Episode 8

It was late evening when Ray and Rory pulled up outside the city capitol building. Work had just been completed to stabilize the building’s foundation and repair damage from the recent hurricane that had blown through town. The street lamps cast a soft glow onto the three-story red brick building as the wind stirred the towering pines that formed a border across the front.

As Ray and Rory climbed the front steps, Rory asked,

“Aren’t these places usually closed after five?”

“Some,” Ray said, testing the door.

When he found it unlocked, he smiled at Rory and added,

“But sometimes people work late.”

Rory followed Ray inside, stopping at a directory to find the listing of Councilman Parker’s office.

“Third floor, room 304,” Rory said.

At the lobby elevator, Ray tapped the button, and after a moment the doors opened.

“What if he’s not in?” Rory asked as he punched the button for the third floor.

“He’s in,” Ray assured him.

“What makes you so certain?” Rory asked.

“Oh just a feeling,” Ray replied.

“More like wishful thinking,” Rory commented as the elevator doors opened.

When they stepped off the elevator, the only sound was the tap of their shoes on the highly polished tile floor. The white sterile hallway was empty as they headed for Parker’s office.

At the door of 304, Rory turned the knob. The door was unlocked, so they stepped inside. The front office was empty.

“See,” Rory laughed. “No one here.”

Ray saw a second door just past the secretary’s desk. The gold lettering on the door’s frosted glass panel read Councilman Owen Parker. Ray listened for a few moments then knocked. He heard a loud thump and a man’s voice yelled,

“Just a moment.”

After the sound of muffled voices stopped, the door opened and a young woman came out of the office. She quickly smoothed her hair and began to close the three open buttons on her blouse.

“May I help you?” she smiled.

“Yes. I’d like to speak with Councilman Parker, please.”

“I’m afraid he’s busy right now,” the woman answered.

“I can see that,” Rory said. “But this is important.”

When Ray glanced past her, he saw Parker quickly throw on a pair of glasses then grab a gold wedding ring off the desk and jam it onto his finger. He was around middle age with graying hair and a slight paunch.

“Now is not a good time,” the woman insisted.

“That’s all right, ma’am. I’ll just go have a word with Mrs. Parker. This matter concerns both of them,” Ray returned.

“What matter?” Parker asked, walking to his office door.

“Nothing that can’t wait. I’ll speak with your wife first. Of course I do tend to share too much and may tell her what I saw here. Hope she doesn’t misunderstand,” Ray said.

“It’s okay, Veronica,” Parker said. “I can speak with them now.”

Ray sweetly smiled and excused himself as he walked past Parker’s secretary.

In a huff, Veronica marched toward her desk, loudly closing the councilman’s door behind Ray and Rory.

Parker offered Ray and Rory a chair and sat down behind his desk.

“Now what can I do for you gentlemen this evening?” he politely asked.

“I am a voter,” Ray said, “and I have a few questions.”

“Well I’m here to help. My door is always open,” Parker said.

“Excellent,” Ray replied. “My first question is what is the city council doing about the crime rate?”

“Crime is down,” Parker said, leaning back in his chair as he laced his fingers across his chest, “and City hall will continue to work with the police department to guarantee it stays down.”

“Next question,” Ray said. “Does the name Charles Heath mean anything to you?”

Suddenly Parker’s friendly expression changed to a scowl.

“Who are you?” he demanded.

“Name is Raymond Slats, and I was wondering why is it you hired Charles Heath to in his own words ‘burn the city to the ground?’ ” Ray asked.

Parker stared at Ray for a moment then said, “Wait a minute. Raymond Slats. I know that name. You’re from Whitelake not Coldwater. Why did you tell me you were a voter?”

“Well technically I am a voter, just not in your district,” Ray said.

“I don’t have anything more to say, Mr. Slats. You can find your way out. Bother me again, and you’ll need an attorney,” Parker threatened.

As Ray stood to leave, he said,

“This kind of thing usually doesn’t end well, Councilman. If I were you, I’d get help before things get away from you.”

“Out!” Parker barked.

Turning to leave, Ray noticed a photograph of Councilman Parker with three other men on a golf course. Three of the men were laughing as the fourth retrieved his golf ball from the hole.

When they reached the elevator, Rory asked,

“That’s it?’ We just walk out?”

“I already got all he was going to give. His reaction said enough. Plus, I saw a photo of Parker with the mayor, the police commissioner, and another guy I didn’t recognize. I’d bet my social security check that those men are on Heath’s hit list. We need to find Billy and the others,” Ray said.

As they stepped into the elevator and punched the button for the lobby, Rory asked,

“And by the others you mean?”

“Mavis and Kristina,” Ray replied.

“Good,” Rory said, relaxing a bit.

“And Billy’s other personalities,” Ray added.

Rolling his eyes, Rory groaned as the elevator doors closed.

* * *

As Ray and Rory pulled up outside the Coldwater Chronicle, a uniformed police officer stopped them and told them to stay behind the cordon tape. Squad cars filled the lot as officers and Crime Scene worked the area.

“What’s happened?” Rory asked.

“More importantly,” Ray said as Rory parked near the street, “where are Mavis, Billy and Kristina?”

“Hey, there they are, across the street,” Rory pointed out.

They got out of Rory’s Bronco and crossed the busy street.

“What happened here?” Rory asked.

“I have no idea,” Billy said.

Mavis looked around to see if anyone else could hear before she explained,

“When we got here, Lucas told us to stay outside while he went in. He told us to wait a bit, turn the power off and on, then get into our car, which we did. A few minutes later, we saw the lights of a helicopter as it lifted off the roof. Next thing we know, Billy’s walking out of the building and asking us what happened?”

Rory looked at Billy and inquired,

“What happened inside?”

Billy shrugged and said, “I honestly don’t know. Last I remember, we were at the diner.”

“Wait a minute,” Ray said with skepticism. “You mean to tell me you don’t remember anything?”

Mavis nodded and said, “I believe him, Ray. Sometimes the others block out Billy completely, like when they do something they don’t want him to remember. That way, he stays completely innocent.”

“In that case, I need to speak with the others,” Ray said. “How do I get one of them out here?”

“Won’t work,” Kristina said. “Afraid we already tried. They’ve gone into hiding, I’d guess until things calm down.”

Before Ray could continue his questioning, a slender young woman in a crisp suit, her brown hair pulled back in a bun, walked up to them, her eyes on Billy.

Removing a police badge from her suit, she introduced herself,

“Detective Joeslyn Márquez, Coldwater PD.”

As she slipped the badge back into her pocket, she watched Billy.

“I saw you at the police department earlier. You were there just before detective Ethan Snow was murdered.”

“Detective Snow is dead?” Billy asked in surprise.

Márquez studied Billy’s face as though the answers were there.

“You were there. You didn’t kill him, but you know something. First Snow’s murder, then this? You’re involved all right.”

“What happened in there, Detective,” Ray asked.

“Dale Tanner was murdered. We also found several armed men unconscious and tied up. You wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?” Márquez asked Billy.

“Tanner is dead?” Kristina asked, her hand covering her mouth.

Seeing her grief, Márquez said, “Yes, I’m afraid so.”

“I honestly have no clue what’s going on. Last I remember, I was at a diner with these guys,” Billy said, an innocent look on his face.

Márquez watched Billy for a moment then ordered, “Don’t leave town. I may have other questions.”

As Márquez returned to the crime scene, Jack suddenly spoke up.

“So much has happened. We need to get to safety and figure out Heath’s next move.”

“What happened in there?” Mavis asked.

“Not here, love,” Jack replied. “Later, where it’s safe.”

* * *

Irritated by Ray’s visit and threat to tell his wife, Parker gathered his papers, shut off the desk lamp and walked to the door. As he closed and locked it, he said,

“Veronica, I’m sorry, but I’m too upset right now. I’m heading home for the night.”

When he turned around, he froze. Veronica was face down on the floor in a pool of blood. Standing over here was Charles Heath with his bodyguard.

“Hello, Councilman,” Heath sneered. “It’s time for phase two.”

As Heath’s bodyguard pointed a pistol at Parker’s head, Heath asked,

“Won’t you join me for the rest of the evening?”


The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 25

In a blur of motion, Elizabeth spread her wings and withdrew her weapons. Closing her eyes to block visual distractions, she used her natural radar to move with grace and precision.

Four of Prescott’s men, their rifles raised, surrounded Elizabeth but just seconds before they fired, she dove for the two who were closest. Hooking one with her wing, she spun and hurled him across the bar and through a front window. Then tossing the other into the air, she raised her pistol and shot him before he hit the floor.

“The King?” Nathan asked as he circled Prescott.

“Stay out of my head!” Prescott ordered.

“Why? What are you afraid I’ll find?” Nathan asked.

When Prescott swung out, Nathan ducked and rolled. Then jumping to his feet, he asked,

“Who are you protecting?”

“Stay out of my head!” Prescott snapped.

As Prescott started to move forward, Nathan advised,

“I wouldn’t do that.”

Prescott sneered and just as he took a step closer, one of his men came flying across the room, crashing into Prescott and knocking him over the bar. When Nathan glanced over to check on Elizabeth, he saw she was lifting one of the men in the air by his throat.

“Don’t kill him,” Nathan said.

Elizabeth growled and dropped the man to the floor.

Prescott saw his chance and ran for the exit.

“No!” Elizabeth roared, running after him.

“Wait!” Nathan yelled as he followed her.

When Prescott reached the parking lot, he stopped behind one of his SUVs and struck the fender with his cane. A burst of blue energy flashed, and the SUV went flipping through the air towards Elizabeth.

Just before the vehicle crashed through the front wall of Eight Balls, Nathan grabbed Elizabeth and pulled them both to safety.

When they hurried outside through the gaping hole left by the SUV, they saw that Prescott had fled.

Police cruisers tore into the parking lot and Crescent Bay’s finest jumping out, weapons drawn.

“Freeze!” one officer yelled at Elizabeth. “Drop your weapons!”

Elizabeth, her adrenaline still pumping, tightened her grip on her weapon.

“Wait, Elizabeth,” Nathan said, placing his hand over hers.

“Get down on your knees and place your hands on your head!” Detective French demanded.

“They’re innocent,” Jericho said, stepping in front of Nathan and Elizabeth.

“Jericho, move out of the way,” French ordered.

“Are you okay, Jericho?” Nathan asked.

“My head’s going to be ringing for a while, but I’ll live,” Jericho said.

Just then, Detective Cassandra Shields arrived on the scene.

When she jumped out of the cruiser, she ordered the officers,

“Stand down! He’s with us.”

Shields walked over to Jericho and looked past him to Nathan.

“What happened?” she asked.

“They started it,” Nathan said with a sheepish smile.


*          *          *


After being questioned most of the night about the scene at Eight Balls, Nathan was finally sent home.

He spent the next eight hours trying to catch some z’s, but when dawn’s light peeked through the draperies of Elizabeth’s condo, Nathan gave up and hopped into the shower.

As he quickly dressed, he made a plan then left the building, hopped on his bike, and headed for Pearson Plasma Technologies.

Pearson Plasma stood tall and bright, its panels glistening in the morning sun. The long public pool that ran from the parking lot to the stairs leading up to the front door was filled with kids playing and splashing, their innocent laughter lifting Nathan’s spirits.

Nathan left his bike in the parking lot and headed for the front entrance. When he passed a placard posted near the pool, he stopped to read.

Pearson Plasma Technologies’ public pool and playground are dedicated to all the children of Crescent Bay. These facilities were built by Milford Pearson, Crescent Bay’s beloved hero known as Knightlight. Mr. Pearson loved children and said their laughter always gave him strength.

Nathan looked across the street at the playground, swarming with happy children, and breathed deeply, taking it all.

“So what is this place?” Elizabeth asked.

Nathan turned to face Elizabeth.

“Are you following me?”

“Yep,” Elizabeth replied. “Don’t trust you on your own.”

Nathan shook his head in mild exasperation.

“So tell me what this place is,” Elizabeth repeated.

“Started by one of Crescent Bay’s earliest superheroes, Milford Pearson, also known as Knightlight, Pearson Plasma Technologies uses an engine invented by Pearson that could generate super-heated plasma for use in weapons and engines. When he retired, Pearson put his engine designs to use in ridding Crescent Bay of its dependency on fossil fuels. His empire invests in hospitals, aeronautics, and shipping. Plus, over the years, it has secured a lot of government contracts. Today, Pearson’s company is worth $10 billion. When he died, sixty per cent of the company stock went to investors he had handpicked with the other forty per cent going to his son Brian Pearson.”

Elizabeth watched Nathan as he shared the information,

When he finished, she said,

“You know, you should be a tour guide.”

Ignoring her comment, Nathan added,

“This is where Martin Armstrong works. He’s chairman of the board of directors.”

“What about Brian Pearson?” Elizabeth asked.

“Retired a few years ago. His grandson Brian hasn’t fully assumed control. Right now he still answers to the board of directors,” Nathan explained.

Elizabeth followed Nathan past the pool and through the front doors. The inside of Pearson Plasma was clinical white with neutral tone back accents. Monitors throughout the main floor played videos advertising the company’s goals and current projects. As soon as Nathan and Elizabeth stepped forward, a young man approached with a smile of welcome.

“Hello. I’m Jeff. How may Pearson Plasma help you today?” Jeff asked.

“We’re here to see Mr. Armstrong,” Nathan answered.

“Do you have an appointment?” Jeff asked.

“No, we do not. Just tell Mr. Armstrong it’s regarding Daniel Lincoln,” Nathan said.

“One moment please,” Jeff responded.

Jeff moved away a few steps as he spoke into an earpiece. A minute later, he returned and said,

“I’m afraid Mr. Armstrong will not be able to speak with you at this time. But if you would like to make an appointment, I can help you with that.”

Nathan glanced at the large clock on the wall. It was almost 9:30 a.m. He looked back at Jeff and said,

“I’d like to make an appointment for 9:30.”

“I’m afraid that time is already filled,” Jeff apologized, after checking a tablet he held in his hand.

“That appointment is about to cancel,” Nathan informed.

“Really?” Jeff said in surprise. Then checking his tablet again, he said,

“I don’t see. . .,” Jeff began. After a pause, he said, “It would appear that Mr. Armstrong’s 9:30 just canceled. Let me fit you in.”

Jeff punched in something on the tablet before saying,

“All set. Mr. Armstrong will see you now.”

“Thanks,” Nathan said with a smile.

As Nathan and Elizabeth rode the elevator up to Mr. Armstrong’s office, Elizabeth said,

“I remember my dad telling me about Knightlight, but I never really knew much about him until now.”

“Milford Pearson was ahead of his time with the invention of his plasma engine. He named the hero he created Knightlight because a nightlight is used to comfort children. By using the word knight, he hoped to create a sense of bravery and chivalry that kids could aspire to. Pearson really loved kids. That’s why he had that pool and playground built in front of Pearson Plasma.”

When the elevator doors opened, Elizabeth followed Nathan through a series of busy hallways and crowded offices until they came to a large door. Just as they reached out for the handle, the door swung open and a man stormed out.

“I don’t care what you think! We’re doing it my way!” he shouted.

As the young man headed down the hall, Elizabeth asked,

“Who on earth was that?”

“Brian Pearson, grandson of Milford Pearson and heir to the family fortune.”

“He seems pretty angry,” Elizabeth said.

“Frustrated for sure. He’s not old enough yet to take control of the company, and right now the board is fighting his every decision,” Nathan explained.

When they stepped inside the office, Nathan and Elizabeth heard Martin Armstrong instruct his secretary,

“Nancy, cancel my 9:30. I’m going to be on the phone for a while.”

“That would be me, Mr. Armstrong,” Nathan called out.

Armstrong looked up and when he saw Nathan and Elizabeth, he said,

“No supers. I have nothing to say about the bombing. Talk to my attorney.”

“It’s about Daniel Lincoln,” Nathan explained. “I have just a few questions.”

“As I said, talk to my attorney,” Armstrong instructed.

“In fact,” Armstrong said, pulling out his cell phone and hitting the speed dial, “You can talk to him yourself.”

Nathan was close enough to hear ringing, but no one answered.

“Why isn’t he picking up?” Armstrong wondered.

Suddenly, Nathan got a flash of a man wearing a cardigan sweater jammed over a bomb vest. He was sweating profusely, and panic filled his eyes as the phone strapped to the bomb began to ring. Nathan snapped out of his vision and leapt at Armstrong’s phone.

“Wait!” Nathan yelled.

Surprised by the aggression, Armstrong pulled back the cell phone.

“What’s wrong with you?” Armstrong asked.

Before Nathan could answer the question, an explosion went off nearby, shaking the building and blowing out the windows.


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  
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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  
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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.”