Unsettled: Episode 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘he Amazin Oswal Zamora.’

“What’s it say?” Billy asked.

“The Amazing Oswald Zamora,” Kristina explained.

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

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

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

Turning to Billy, she asked,

“Does one of you know how to drive?”

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

“Groovy,” Kristina returned.

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

“Hold on,” Kristina said.

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

“Try it now.”

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

Kristina laughed as she climbed back into the van.

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

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

 

*          *          *

 

 

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

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

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

Heath turned and walked toward Parker.

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

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

“You interrupted me,” he scolded.

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

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

“Blood stain,” the Australian man suggested.

Heath considered this and said,

“That could work.”

“Why am I tied up?” Parker asked.

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

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

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

“Who?” Parker asked.

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

“Who are you talking about?” Parker pressed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*          *          *

 

“What happened?” Detective Marquez yelled.

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

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

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

Officer Lawton nodded and hurried away.

“What is going on?” Marquez asked herself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Detective Marquez.”

After a few minutes, she ended the call.

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

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

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

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

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

The Cadillac Diaries: Episode 84

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

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

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

“Think it’s the clown?” Rory asked.

“Probably,” Ray answered.

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

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

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

“Knew what?” Ray asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What’s going on?” Rory asked.

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

“How bad is it?” Ray asked.

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

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

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

“May I hear it?” Ray asked.

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

When the recording stopped, Ray asserted,

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

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

“Positive,” Ray answered.

“Then let’s move!” directed Morgan.

 

*          *          *

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What?” Ray objected.

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

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

“We’ll stay here.”

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

“Thank you.”

As Richard headed over to Morgan, Ray complained,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hello, Ray,” Tyler said.

“You shouldn’t be here,” Ray teased.

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

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

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

Then looking at Tommy, he asked,

“I get it right that time?”

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

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

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

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

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

As the men followed Ray, Tyler added,

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

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

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

“Now you say that?” Tommy asked.

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

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

“But it was my plan,” Rory defended.

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

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

“Take cover!” Tyler yelled.

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

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

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

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

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

The Train: Episode 70

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

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

Nicole furrowed her brow and said,

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

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

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

Before Michael could answer, police sirens diverted their attention.

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

“They must have been nearby,” Ricer said.

“Or on edge,” Michael suggested.

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

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

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

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

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

How to evade the police in a car chase:

Step 1: Choose your ride.

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

“I have an idea,” Michael said.

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

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

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

“Sorry, Doc.”

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

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

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

“Keys now!” Michael demanded.

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

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

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

Michael sped away with the police on his tail.

 

*          *          *

 

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

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

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

“You two are so lucky,” the man said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That idiot!”

“What?” Ricer asked.

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

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

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

“What?” Ricer asked.

“Oh nothing,” Nicole replied.

After a moment Ricer asked,

“So what should we do now?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ricer looked at Nicole and asked,

“Where to now?”

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