The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 21

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

“Hey Detective!”

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

“Yeah? Whatcha got?” he asked.

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

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

“No supers right now!”

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

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

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

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

“Detective Shields,” Nathan said with a nod.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“She’s with me,” Nathan said.

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

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

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

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

“Victim. Singular,” Nathan corrected.

Shields smiled.

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

As Shields led them onto the scene, Elizabeth asked,

“What’s a vec?”

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

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

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

Turning her profile to them, Shields called out,

“Doc.”

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

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

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

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

“A pleasure, Dr. Makaw.”

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

“My dear.”

Turning to Shields, he said,

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

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

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

“His name was Daniel Lincoln,” Nathan said.

Makaw looked at Nathan skeptically and responded,

“If you say so.”

As Makaw turned and walked away, Shields apologized.

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

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

Shields turned and looked around then asked,

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

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

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

“We’re waiting on him,” Nathan said.

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

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

Walking over, Makaw took a deep breath and said,

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

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

“Anything else?” Makaw asked.

“He was a blackmailer,” Nathan answered.

“Who was he blackmailing?” Shields interrupted.

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

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

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

“This lady says she saw the killer.”

“There is one more thing,” Nathan added.

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Unsettled: Episode 3

On the way to the police station, Ray thought over Mavis’ story as he listened to the heavy rain pelting the Jeep.

“So that’s why you were available some times and not others?” Ray asked.

Mavis nodded as she concentrated on the wet road.

“I went to see Billy as much as I could. I’m sorry if my being gone caused a problem.”

“No problem at all,” Ray said. “I was just worried about you.”

Ray grew quiet for a moment then looked intently at Mavis.

“And Billy, you’re certain he’s the one, dear?”

Mavis nodded and bit her bottom lip.

“Don’t worry, sweetie. We’ll get him out,” Ray assured her as he reached over and patted her back.

Mavis quickly looked at Ray then back at the road.

“Thanks,” she said as a tear ran down her cheek.

“He’s still at the police department. A friend of mine who’s watching the place promised to phone me as soon as she sees him.”

“That’s fine,” Ray said.

When they reached the police department’s parking area, Ray noticed a woman across the street leaning against a motorcycle. As the wind whipped her short brown hair, she pulled a green army jacket tightly around her to keep out the rain.

“Is that your friend? The one watching for Billy?” Ray asked.

“That’s her,” Mavis said pulling into a parking space.

Reaching into the back seat, Mavis brought out a golf umbrella.

“Wait until I come around,” she said, climbing out of the Jeep.

As Mavis and Ray squeezed under the umbrella, Rory pulled his Bronco into the spot beside them and popped on a hat before stepping out. Just before they crossed the street to Mavis’ friend, the rain suddenly stopped.

The woman, standing 5 feet 7 inches, looked like she could take care of herself in a fight.

“He hasn’t left yet,” she said before they reached her.

“Raymond Slats, this is Kristina Kay,” Mavis said, closing the umbrella.

“Slats. Yeah. Mavis told me about you. You’re a regular Kojack. She’s always going on and on about the criminals you stopped and the lives you’ve saved.”

“Nice to meet you, Kristina. I’m afraid I haven’t heard much about you,” Ray said.

“No problem. May’s always been a live-in-the-moment kind of person. Other than you, she doesn’t talk much about her life in Whitelake,” Kristina explained.

“May?” Ray asked.

“Yea,” Kristina smiled. “When we were kids, I called her May, and she always called me Kris. That’s the one nickname I didn’t mind having.”

Suddenly Rory chimed in,

“Kristina Kay! I remember you!”

“Stop it!” Mavis snapped at Rory.

“What’s going on?” Ray asked.

“Nothing,” Mavis answered, a scowl on her face.

“It’s okay, May. Really. I don’t mind so much anymore,” Kristina said.

Kristina turned to Ray to explain.

“People around here consider me bad luck. Mavis was the only one who didn’t let that bother her. I was born on Friday the 13th at 1:13 p.m., and my mom’s hospital room number was 913.”

“I get Friday the 13th and of course 1:13 p.m. is 13:13 in military time, but what about the room number?” Ray asked.

“The room number has the number thirteen in it plus, if you add 9, 1 and 3, you get the number 13. People always avoided me like the plague because they just knew I would bring them bad luck.”

Mavis glanced past them to the police station door and spotted Billy leaving.

“There he is!” she exclaimed, pushing past them and running toward Billy.

Ray watched as Billy’s face lit up at the sight of Mavis. He dropped his shoes and caught her as she dove for him. Lifting her up, he brought her close as she enthusiastically hugged and kissed him.

After a moment, Ray saw Mavis whisper something in Billy’s ear. Reluctantly putting her down, he took Mavis’ hand and followed her over to her friends. Ray had never seen Mavis look so happy.

“Everyone,” Mavis said, “this is William Brannon.”

Billy released Mavis’ hand and stepped up to Ray.

“A pleasure to meet you, sir,” Billy said.

“Oh you can call me Ray, son. Everyone does,” Ray said with a smile.

“Yes. Raymond Slats,” Billy said with a British accent. “Retired cab driver responsible for bringing Bradford King to justice. Raymond Slats is the name you’re currently travelling under.”

“What?” Rory asked.

Billy turned to Rory and said,

“Gregory Tavish, formerly of Scotland Yard. Now retired freelance detective and muscle.”

Billy turned to Kristina and said,

“And you are Kristina Kay, stepdaughter of Oswald Zamoura and local expert on bad luck.”

“Mavis?” Ray asked hesitantly. “Is this one of them?”

“I’m terribly sorry. My name is Jack and to answer your question, yes I am one of the personalities residing within William’s fractured mind. I do appreciate everything you have done for Mavis, and I hope to have your continued support should I need it in future.”

“How come you know so much about us yet you’ve been locked away chasing butterflies?” Rory asked.

Mavis clenched her jaw and shot Rory a hostile glare as Jack said,

“Not to worry, my dear. When you were attempting to stop Captain Bonkers, I offered you help, did I not? But before I was ready to assist you, I had to learn as much as I could about you. After all, knowledge precedes victory.”

“Ignorance precedes defeat,” Kristina added. “Sun Tzu.”

“That is correct,” Jack said looking off to nowhere. “I like her.”

Suddenly Billy whipped his face in another direction and in a different voice said,

“We don’t have time for chit chat. That cop could already be dead.”

“Be right back, lads,” Jack said.

Billy’s face suddenly went blank and he stood perfectly still.

Mavis softly placed her hand on Billy’s shoulder.

“Billy?” she asked.

“Yea?” Billy replied, suddenly snapping to.

“Are you okay?” Mavis asked.

“I’m fine. Jack and Lucas are just having another argument,” Billy responded.

“Who are they?” Ray asked.

“Jack is the oldest and smartest. Lucas, he’s the physical one. Always on the lookout for threats. Always protecting me. Then there’s Eddie. He’s sneaky. Talks a lot about hunting. Victoria is the nice one. Whenever I get nervous, she always calms me down. And then there’s Dylan Desmond. He’s kind of what I imagine an older brother would be like,” Billy explained.

“Those are the other personalities I was telling you about,” Mavis said.

* * *

While Ray and Mavis watched with Rory and Kristina, the personalities began to engage in a full debate.

Angrily pacing back and forth, Lucas snapped, “We don’t have time to sit around yakking like old friends. That cop could be dead already.”

“Yea. You just said that. But listen. He’s not going to murder a police detective inside a police station. That would be stupid, suicidal,” Dylan pointed out.

“Technically, if there are no witnesses, he could get away with it,” Eddie suggested.

“Guys, we really should consider how this is making Billy look to Mavis and her friends,” Victoria said.

Ignoring Victoria’s concern, Jack replied,

“There’s not much we can do for the detective right now but keep an eye out. Once he leaves, he will be in grave danger.”

At that moment, an alarm went off and Ray saw police officers near the front entrance jump up from their desks and run toward the sound.

“Told you so,” Lucas said.

Just then Lucas spotted a vehicle pulling out of the police station parking lot. When he saw Charles Heath in the passenger seat, he yelled,

“That’s him!”

* * *

“What in the world is going on?” Ray asked.

“The detective is dead, and his murderer is driving away,” Billy exclaimed as he pointed to Heath’s vehicle.

“Quick. Somebody get the license plate,” Ray answered. “Rory, can you tail him?”

“I’m on it,” Rory said, heading for his Bronco.

“Too late. Someone’s already on it,” Kristina said, pointing past them to a semi in hot pursuit.

At that moment, a man ran up to them, red-faced and angry.

“That guy just stole my truck!” he shouted.

“What guy?” Ray asked.

“Where’s Billy?” Rory asked.

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The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 20

Thirty minutes later, the interview concluded and Brian and Bonnie went into a commercial break while Nathan and Jericho slipped out of the studio.

“I’ll be right back,” Nathan told Jericho as he headed for the bathroom.

While Nathan splashed cold water on his face, Jericho went outside to make a call.

The cool water helped revive his weary muscles and give him a bit of an energy boost. Grabbing a few paper towels, Nathan stepped out of the bathroom and looked around to find Jericho. As he patted his wet face with the coarse paper towels, Brian White walked over.

“Hey, man, thanks again for your help with my sister. That was amazing!”

When Brian extended his hand, Nathan gladly accepted it.

Having just seen Nathan exit the bathroom, Brian looked down at the wet handshake with an expression that tried to hide his disgust.

In a rare mischievous moment, Nathan took the opportunity and said,

“Oh sorry. Haven’t had a chance to wash my hands yet.”

As Nathan released Brian’s hand and walked away, drying the water off his hands, he imagined the look on Brian’s face and chuckled when he heard the bathroom door open behind him. Seeing Jericho outside on the phone, he headed for the exit, tossing the wad of paper towels in a waste receptacle.

When Nathan stepped outside, the warm breeze tousled his hair and lifted his spirits. For just a moment, he forgot about what he had seen in the latest vision.

“Today is the kind of day when family and friends should get together and cook out, play ball,” he thought.

Jericho saw the smile on Nathan’s face and asked,

“What’s so funny?”

“Oh nothing. I was just enjoying the weather,” Nathan said, crossing to his motorcycle.

“Hold up a minute,” Jericho called.

“What is it?” Nathan asked, looking back.

“I’m waiting for somebody,” Jericho explained. “How about you wait with me?”

Putting aside his thoughts of cookouts and ballgames, Nathan turned away from his bike, sat on the bench with Jericho and closed his eyes while they waited.

A few minutes later, Jericho saw the shadow of Elizabeth cast across the sidewalk as she flew in and landed. She was dressed in full gear, a yellow and black body suit, a gun belt, and a pair of tinted flight goggles.  As she walked over to Jericho, she lifted the goggles to her forehead and folded in her wings.

“Hi. What’s up?” Elizabeth asked. Then she added,

“How’s Nathan? He looks a bit rough.”

“He says he’s okay, but I’m not so sure. According to him, he hasn’t had a full night’s rest since he got here,” Jericho replied.

“Seriously?” Elizabeth exclaimed. “But that was four weeks ago. How is he even able to function?”

“I have no idea,” Jericho admitted. “That’s why I called you.”

Suddenly Nathan snapped awake with a snorting sound. After he blinked a few times to clear his eyes, he spotted Elizabeth.

“Hey, you. Good to see you up and about,” he smiled.

“Thanks. Are you feeling all right?” Elizabeth asked.

“Yes ma’am,” he yawned.

Nathan stood, stretched his muscles, and wiped his weary eyes.

“May I go now?”

“You seem to be in a hurry,” Jericho pointed out. “What did you see back there in the studio?”

“What are you talking about?” Nathan asked.

“You know what I’m talking about. After the interview in there. I know you saw something, Nathan. You got that look. Your face goes blank and, I don’t know if you know this or not, but your eyes go white like all the color drains out. When I first saw it, to tell you the truth, it was a little creepy,” Jericho explained.

“Is that what that was?” Elizabeth asked.

Jericho nodded then asked again, “What’d you see?”

“Nothing,” Nathan lied.

“Please, Nathan, tell us what it was,” Elizabeth pressed.

“I saw Jericho in the park playing with puppies,” Nathan replied.

“Fine. Keep it to yourself,” Jericho said.

“Look I’ve got to meet with the mayor about clean up after the Thymatec incident. He wants to discuss options to prevent future robbery attempts. While I’m gone, Nathan, Elizabeth’s going to keep an eye on you.”

“She is?” Nathan asked.

“I am?” Elizabeth asked.

“If you don’t mind. It’s just until he can get some rest,” Jericho clarified.

“Cool,” Elizabeth said. “We had fun last time.”

“Got to go. You two be careful,” Jericho said as he left.

Elizabeth turned to Nathan and asked,

“So what’s up with the insomnia?”

“It’s nothing really,” Nathan said.

“Tell me or I’ll body slam you from a thousand feet,” Elizabeth demanded, hands on her hips.

Finally, Nathan relented.

“I can’t say too much. It’s just that every time I close my eyes, I only get a few minutes sleep before a vision of the future shocks me awake.”

“How bad is it?” Elizabeth asked. “Must be pretty bad to keep you awake.”

“I can’t say, Elizabeth. But believe me, it’s important. Save the world important.”

“How so?” Elizabeth pressed.

“Right now the future is undecided, and any hasty decision I make may change things for the worse,” Nathan said.

“Nathan, you can’t carry this burden by yourself,” Elizabeth protested.

“Hopefully, I won’t have to for long,” Nathan said.

“What do you mean?” Elizabeth asked.

Before Nathan could answer, they heard an explosion in the distance.

When Elizabeth whirled around to pinpoint the area, she heard Nathan’s motorcycle start up. She turned just in time to see him pull away.

With a deep sigh, she slipped the goggles over her eyes, spread her wings, and lifted into the air.

 

*          *          *

 

Elizabeth flew over the city toward the area of the explosion, following Nathan below as he masterfully maneuvered the motorcycle in and out of the stream of traffic. She couldn’t help but worry about him.

“I’m afraid this sleepless night business will eventually catch up to him,” she thought.

Up ahead she saw a billowing tower of black smoke and slowed her speed. They were right above the train yard where police were busy cordoning off the blast area and moving people back behind the yellow tape. Firetrucks screamed through the streets on their way to contain the blaze, and ambulances pulled up from every direction to tend to the wounded and dead.

Nathan parked the motorcycle a safe distance away and shut off the engine just as Elizabeth swooped down and landed beside him. Nathan figured that with her skill, she could probably land on a dime.

“You can’t end a discussion by driving away you know,” she scolded, removing her goggles.

“True, but right now, this is more important,” Nathan pointed out.

“What happened?” Elizabeth asked.

“Someone was murdered,” Nathan told her.

Moving through the crowd of gawkers, Nathan made his way up to the barricade tape and got the attention of the nearest police officer.

“I need to speak with Detective Shields.”

“No supers right now,” the officer said. “Not until Crime Scene has finished up.”

“She’ll want to speak to me,” Nathan assured him.

“And why is that?” the officer asked.

“The victim’s name is Daniel Lincoln,” Nathan said, “and he was murdered.”

The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 19

A light wind swept away the clouds, and sunlight broke through as a flock of birds passed overhead. Sirens, gunfire, and cries of the wounded interlaced into an urban fugue. As Nathan fell backwards away from the building, he looked into the face of the man who murdered him, and time seemed to slow.

“When I first landed in Crescent Bay, the city of heroes in the universe of Starfall, everything felt like a wonderful dream. Fighting alongside my favorite heroes, saving lives, bringing evil doers to justice. Looking back, it sounds corny, but isn’t that how dreams seem when you wake up? Sadly, this dream turned into a nightmare, as clichéd as that sounds. Now here I am, after having single-handedly started a war, falling to my death, failing once again. If I’m right and this is all just a dream, I sure hope I wake up before I hit the ground!”

 

The Fall of Jericho

Previously

 

It was Monday, 6:00 a.m., and Jericho waited on a bench outside the WLIM radio station. In the studio, “Brian and Bonnie In the Morning” had just come on the air. The show was slotted for 6-10 every morning and featured Brian White and Bonnie Baxter. Today’s special guests were Crescent Bay’s heroes Jericho and the Prophet. In the days following the failed heist at Thymatec, reporters were scrambling to get an interview with Jericho who had once again saved the city. This hero was no glory hound, though, for he took every opportunity to remind people that the victory had been a team effort with exile alien soldier 4 21, Scorpio and the Prophet doing their part. In order to protect their identities, Jericho never referred to Elizabeth and Nathan by their real names. Nathan didn’t care if people knew his name, but things were different for Elizabeth. She had her father to think of. Whenever she wasn’t saving the day, she attended community events with him, wearing the leather band Lavinia that Ethan Evermore had given her to conceal her wings. Nathan had grown distant over the past weeks, disconnected as though he had bigger things on his mind. Jericho felt sorry for the weight Nathan carried, the burden of always knowing what was going to happen. He wondered how anyone could live like that.

Jericho shook the daydream away as Nathan pulled into the parking lot on his motorcycle. Wearing a new outfit, thanks to Elizabeth’s father, Nathan retied the laces on his sneakers, brushed some dirt from his jeans, and loosened the top button on the blue dress shirt. After adjusting his leather jacket, he slipped off the Yankees cap and ran his fingers through his hair.

“Morning,” he said with a smile as he walked up to Jericho.

Jericho noticed the stubble on Nathan’s chin and the bags under his eyes.

“Did you sleep last night? Man, you look drained.”

Nathan shook his head and said,

“Nope. Haven’t slept well in a while. That’s why I’m late. Come on. They must be waiting for us.”

“When is the last time you slept?” Jericho asked.

Without responding, Nathan walked up to the front door security pad, punched in the code, and opened the door when it clicked.

“How did you know the. . .,” Jericho began. “Never mind.”

Nathan stopped in the lobby and looked back at Jericho.

“Sorry,” he said. “Was I supposed to wait for them to buzz me in?”

“Don’t worry about that,” Jericho said. “When was the last time you slept?”

Nathan thought for a moment then asked,

“How long since I landed in the middle of the street?”

“Two weeks, give or take,” Jericho answered.

“About that long,” Nathan said.

He turned and started walking toward the confused and awestruck receptionist.

“That way?” Nathan asked, pointing past the receptionist to a closed studio door. “They don’t have a commercial break for another three minutes. I promise I’ll be quiet.”

The receptionist, a young girl with round apple face, just nodded without a word.

“It’s okay,” Jericho said, trailing behind Nathan. “He’s with me.”

Nathan opened the studio door and he and Jericho slipped inside. At a large desk in the center of the room, each wearing headphones and speaking into mics, sat the morning show hosts Brian White and Bonnie Baxter. They motioned for Nathan and Jericho to sit across from them and put on the earphones.

“Well everyone can officially be jealous of me,” Brian said. “Our city’s savior Jericho has just entered the studio with who I can only assume is the Prophet. Am I right?”

Jericho pulled the microphone in front of him closer and said,

“Yes, Brian. He is definitely the Prophet of Crescent Bay.”

“Wow!” Bonnie exclaimed.

Brian laughed and said,

“She’s sitting next to Jericho and gives you a wow. I’d say someone has a crush.”

Brian, the older of the radio hosts by a couple of years, exuded charm. He smiled even though no one could see him but the guests and director. Scratching his scraggly dark blonde beard, he looked at Bonnie for a retort.

“That’s not what I meant, Brian,” Bonnie laughed. “I’m just surprised that he’s sitting next to Jericho yet looks so unassuming.”

“Well, my director’s telling me it’s time for a commercial break, so I guess we’ll see you guys when we come back. This is Brian White,” Brian said.

“And Bonnie Baxter,” Bonnie responded.

“We’ll be right back with “Brian and Bonnie In the Morning” on WLIM 572.2 FM,” Brian finished.

When the director gave them the all clear, Brian and Bonnie removed their earphones and Brian said,

“Wow, guys! Thanks for coming!”

Just then, Brian felt his phone vibrate and excused himself to answer it.

“Hey, sis. I’m on the air right now. What’s wrong?”

While Brian continued his conversation, Bonnie looked at Nathan and asked,

“So what type of prophet are you? Can you see the future or are you more of the tarot cards and lucky numbers kind of psychic?”

“I can’t really see the future. I only see the immediate and certain future. Anything beyond that is still undecided. It’s kind of like when you’re driving through a fog, you can’t really see anything far ahead of you unless it’s something big,” Nathan explained.

“So you can see big events like natural disasters?” Bonnie asked.

“So far catastrophic events,” Nathan said.

“Cool!” Bonnie responded.

Brian reminded Nathan of an upbeat game show host whereas Bonnie seemed a serious, ambitious woman willing to work for what she wanted. A little one-dimensional though. Nathan thought them an odd pair for a radio show.

“Don’t let him fool you. He can also tell you almost anything about someone,” Jericho bragged.

“Really?” Bonnie asked.

“Yep,” Jericho said. “To tell you the truth, I was a little creeped out at first. But now? I just think it’s neat.”

“I can imagine,” Bonnie smiled.

Brian’s phone call drifted back in to the conversation.

“No, sis. I don’t know where your keys are,” he assured her. “Sorry, Janine, but I really don’t know.”

Nathan reached into his pocket and pulled out a folded piece of paper. He slid it across the table to Brian and tapped it, indicating for him to open it.

“No, I’m not teasing. If I knew where they are, I would tell you,” he said, opening the note.

When he paused to read the note, he looked up at Nathan confused.

Nathan just nodded his head.

“Janine, listen. Try looking in the guest bedroom under the bed,” Brian instructed.

“I don’t why they’d be in there. Just look.”

After a few moments, Brian’s face showed an expression of surprise.

“Excellent! I’m glad you found them. No, Janine. I didn’t hide them there,” he sighed.

As Brian tried to end the call, Bonnie’s face lit up.

“Amazing!” she said.

“Told you,” Jericho said, reaching out and slapping Nathan on the back.

The second Jericho’s hand touched Nathan’s back, his vision went white.

 

*          *          *

 

It was a bright sunny day with dense beautiful clouds floating across the blue sky. Balloons of every color filled the air at Sapphire City Park. On the ground, people who had come to celebrate Crescent Bay’s Founder’s Day Picnic were screaming in panic, running in every direction. Police officers had surrounded a man standing on the park’s small stone bridge. He wore a large, polished breastplate with an elaborate bomb fused to it, far more sophisticated than a typical explosive made with C4. As the digital time on the bomb ticked down from 5, the man looked up with tears in his eyes. It was Jericho.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

The bomb exploded, jerking Nathan back to the studio.

Brian and Bonnie looked confused and a little uneasy. Jericho moved his hand from Nathan’s back and looked into his eyes with concern.

“Are you okay, buddy?”

Nathan, struggling to make sense of what he had seen, murmured,

“No. No I’m not.”

The Cadillac Diaries: Episode 86

It was dark by the time they reached the Woodland Hotel where David Crandall waited.

“This isn’t a good idea, Ray,” Richard warned.

“I know,” Ray said, “but I have to try.”

Richard signaled one of the officers to bring a bulletproof vest for Ray.

“Thanks, but I can’t breathe in those things. Besides, I’m trained to work without one,” Ray said as he headed for the hotel’s front entrance.

“Wait. What?” Richard asked, but Ray was already inside.

He kept close behind the police officers, following them up to the fourth floor. At the end of the hall, the lead officer cautioned,

“We’ve been ordered to stand down and let you try an approach alone. Remember that Crandall is armed and he’s already fired at officers. There’s no safe way to do this.”

Ray nodded his understanding then walked down the hall toward Crandall’s room. The last five years were weighing on him, and he was worn out.

When he reached Crandall’s door, he knocked twice and called out,

“David, it’s Raymond Slats.”

When no answer came, Ray knocked again.

“David?”

Finally, he announced, “I’m coming in.”

He turned the knob slowly and pushed the door open, pausing for a few moments. Then he walked in and closed the door behind him.

Crandall stood at the window, looking out. Ray saw that he gripped a pistol in his hand. When he looked around the room, Ray spotted a 2008 calendar on the wall.

“That was the last thing my daughter gave me. She circled my birthday with a heart,” David said, slowly turning to face Ray.

Downstairs in the parking lot, police officers were still arriving. The red and blue lights danced across the walls in time to the sirens as Ray moved slowly into the room.

“Isn’t this what you wanted, Detective? You wanted me. Well here I am.”
Shadowed from the police lights outside, Crandall stepped away from the window. All Ray could make out was the pistol and part of Crandall’s shirt.

“Why me?” Ray asked.

“Don’t play games. You know exactly why. First, there was the church and then your actions in the play,” Crandall said.

Ray moved closer, trying to close the distance between them.

“By that time, you were just an annoyance that should have been paid off, even though you thought you were too good for that. But what you did at the carnival, I’ll never forgive. She was mine. How could you have done such a thing?”

“I didn’t mean to,” Ray pleaded. “I tried to—”

“I don’t care! It’s too late now!” Crandall yelled.

“But—” Ray began.

“No more excuses!” Crandall said. “That heart attack should have killed you. You’ve escaped death too many times. But no more.”

Crandall raised his pistol and fired.

The bullet sliced through the air and slammed into Ray’s chest, throwing him backwards.

* * *

As Ray went down, Crandall felt a pang of relief. He knew the cops would be breaking down the door any moment, but he didn’t care. When movement from the bathroom caught his eye, he whirled around to see Captain Bonkers step out.

“You!” Crandall snapped.

But before he could fire, Bonkers raised his pistol and shot Crandall squarely in the heart. He was dead before he hit the floor.

* * *

When Ray came to, he was in a hospital bed, an IV in his arm and bandages covering his chest. Asleep in a chair near him was Deborah.

Ray loudly coughed then moaned at the pain, snapping Deborah awake. Joy filled her tired eyes as she looked at him.

“Daddy!” she cried, moving to his bedside.

Ray weakly smiled, “Hey, pumpkin.”

Deborah leaned over and gently hugged him.

“What’d I miss?” Ray asked.

“You’ve been out for a couple of days. The doctor said the bullet didn’t hit any vital organs. He said you’re lucky to be alive, especially given your advanced age,” Deborah replied.

“That’s a nice way of saying I’m old,” Ray joked.

“Daddy, he’s right. You shouldn’t have gone in there, let alone without protection,” Deborah scolded.

“I know, I know,” Ray confessed, patting her hand. “It’s just that—”

“I know you were bored, Daddy,” Deborah interrupted, “but you can’t keep risking your life like this. I’m all worn out from worrying.”

Before Ray could respond, the door opened and in walked Richard and Tommy.

“Great! I wake up after being shot, and the first thing I have to look at is you!” Ray teased.

“I’d say that gunshot improved your looks, old woman,” Tommy returned.

Ray laughed, wincing at the pain.

“What about King?”

“He’s going to be tried on so many counts, I’d need a note pad to remember them all,” Richard smiled.

“How’s my boy Pete?” Ray asked.

“Going nuts!” Deborah replied. “A friend of mine who’s watching him while I’m at work says he keeps trying to escape.”

Richard laughed and added, “He’s gotten pretty good at it too.”

Just then the door opened and Mavis stepped into the room. Her auburn hair fell forward, covering her red eyes and splotched face. When she looked at Ray, fresh tears washed down her cheeks.

“Don’t worry, sweetie,” Ray comforted. “I’m okay.”

Mavis weakly laughed then said, “I’m glad. I was worried about you. . .a lot. But there’s something else.”

“What’s wrong?” Ray asked.

Mavis worked to stop crying and get control of herself. Finally, she said,

“I’m leaving.”

“What?” Ray asked.

“Why?” Tommy asked.

Struggling to appear lighthearted, Mavis smiled and explained.

“I got a call from my father in Coldwater. He wants to retire, and he’s asked me to move home so he can teach me the business.”

“Business?” Deborah asked confused.

“The bar is his, of course, but he also has three other bars as well as two nightclubs and a restaurant. His plan is for me to manage all of them so he can retire in the next year or two,” Mavis answered.

“I’m sorry. Doesn’t seem like you’re too happy about that,” Ray pointed out.

Mavis started crying again and said,

“He’s my daddy, and he’s getting old. It’s just that I’m really going to miss you guys.”

Mavis moved in closer and bent over to hug Ray, crying into his gown.

* * *

3 Months Later

Bradford King sat in the dingy cell scowling at his reflection in the polished metal mirror.

“Considering my net worth, these buffoons should have at least given me suitable clothes.”

Frank Granger, one of the guards, walked up to the cell and banged on the door.

“King, you have a visitor,” he announced.

“My attorney?” King asked.

“I’m not your secretary,” Granger complained.

Then as the cell door opened, he added,

“Your daughter. Let’s go.”

Magdalene was King’s only daughter. Shortly after his wife died in a plane crash, he had enrolled Magdalene in a private school in Switzerland. With King’s promise of a sizeable donation to the school, the headmaster had promised to keep a close eye on her. King made a note to punish the man for not telling him she had left. He followed Granger to a private visitor’s cell. When Granger opened the door, King saw that another guard had been posted inside the waiting room. The black stubble on his face made him look dark and angry. As though frozen in place, his arms were crossed as his cold black eyes stared straight ahead. Although he stood at an angle behind one of the chairs, King could see part of his name tag. His first name looked like it was Joseph.

“That’s not my daughter,” King said sarcastically.

“Sit down! He’ll be watching you while you visit,” Granger explained.

As he took a seat behind the new guard, King protested,

“I don’t even get a private visit with my daughter?”

“You’re lucky you’re getting this much,” Granger retorted.

When Granger turned and left the room, Magdalene walked in, closing the door behind her.

“Maggie,” King greeted, pleased to see his daughter.

“Hello, Father,” Magdalene said, sitting down across from him.

Magdalene brushed her red hair out of her face and removed her sunglasses, revealing her different colored eyes, one blue and one green just like her mother.

King smiled and asked,

“Sweetheart, what are you doing out of school?”

“I heard you were in trouble,” she answered.

“It’s nothing my lawyers can’t handle. Just trumped up charges to get me out of the way so they can stop some deranged clown-faced killer,” King explained.

Magdalene smiled.

“Oh good. I was worried, afraid I was going to lose you like I lost mom.”

“That was a tragic accident that killed your mother. But don’t worry, Maggie. I’m not going anywhere,” King assured her.

Magdalene gazed into her father’s eyes then corrected,

“Murdered.”

“What?” King asked.

“Mom was murdered,” Magdalene said.

“Why would you think something like that?” King asked.

“Because she called me before she got on that plane,” Magdalene said, keeping her eyes fixed on King.

“She told me what she found out about you. About your business. Then the next thing you know, the plane she’s on goes down suddenly. Engine trouble they said.”

With a look of astonishment, King said, “You can’t think I did that!”

“You started this, Father,” Magdalene said, “and now we’re going to finish it.”

“We?” King asked nervously.

Magdalene’s eyes shifted from her father’s face to past him. King hesitantly turned around and saw that the guard who had been standing behind him was now Captain Bonkers.

Suddenly everything fell into place as he nervously swiped at his sweat-beaded forehead.

“You didn’t think we’d let you escape, did you?” Magdalene asked.

“Huh?” King responded, his thoughts muddled.

He watched as Magdalene slowly stood and walked over to the door. When she tapped on the glass, Granger opened the door and stepped forward.

“In a few moments, my father is going to kill himself. Please wait until I’ve left the property to call it in,” she instructed.

“Yes ma’am,” Granger answered.

As though in a daze, King stared speechlessly at his daughter while she walked back to him and kissed his forehead, placing a chess piece, the king, in front of him.

“Goodbye, Father,” she said without looking back.

When the door closed behind her, Magdalene walked away in peace, her eyes straight ahead. This was finally over. The guards nodded as she passed by moving down the hallway toward the exit. Suddenly from the room where she had left her father, she heard him yell,

“NO!”

When a gunshot rang out, the guards didn’t flinch and Magdalene kept on walking, a smile slowly spreading across her face.

* * *

Late in the middle of the night in a condemned, burned out house, the front door slowly opened. Roaches scurried across the floor, disappearing under the baseboard. The floor creaked beneath his feet as Captain Bonkers stepped into the room. He walked through the house and out to the back porch where he started up a small generator. Reaching down to grab the attached extension cord, he pulled it inside the house and lay it on the floor next to an old chair, its stuffing spilling out through the scorched fabric. Years earlier, the house had caught fire and suffered extensive damage before firefighters arrived on the scene.

Bonkers headed toward a nearby closet then pulled an old TV VCR off the top shelf. Centering it on a stool next to the chair, he plugged it in and sat down.

As he watched the screen, the white light danced across his cold dead eyes beneath the clown mask. He pressed the play button and a video started, a video of his boy surrounded by friends celebrating his birthday at a pool party. The boy looked up at the camera with a big smile and said,

“Watch this, Daddy!”

The boy turned away and ran towards the pool leaping off the side and splashing into the water. Just as the child’s head bobbed to the surface and he began swimming toward the pool’s edge, a young woman came on camera and said,

“Joseph, will you put that camera away for once? You’re missing your son’s birthday party.”

Bonkers watched without movement, without expression, as the tape played on.

* * *

It had the makings of a perfect day as Ray eased back onto the cushioned rocking chair. Across the room, Deborah rested on the couch, a pillow at the small of her back, with Pete her protector curled up beside her. Tommy whistled in the kitchen as he made tea and sandwiches for everyone. Just then the key turned in the lock and Richard walked in.

“Hey, sweetheart,” he greeted, bending over to kiss Deborah.

“Hey, babe,” she returned.

When Deborah started to get up, Richard stopped her with,

“You shouldn’t walk in your condition.”

“What condition?” Ray asked,

With a look of surprise, Richard asked,

“You didn’t tell him, hon?”

“I was waiting for you to get home,” Deborah responded.

“What condition?” Ray repeated. “What’s going on?”

“Deborah’s pregnant,” Tommy said matter-of-factly as he brought in the tea and sandwiches.

“Tommy!” Deborah said. “How did you know?”

“What? I thought everyone knew?” Tommy answered.

“You’re pregnant?” Ray asked, obviously elated.

“Almost a month now,” Tommy said.

“Tommy!” Deborah scolded, leaning over to pop Tommy.

“What?” Tommy asked confused.

“How did you know?” Richard asked.

“It’s what I do,” Tommy replied.

“That explains why Pete has been keeping so close to you lately. I thought he had abandoned me,” Ray laughed.

“Well, congratulations you two. I am de—”

Just then a frantic knock sounded at the door.

Richard quickly got up and answered it. Leaning against the doorpost, trying to catch her breath, was Mavis. She was disheveled, as though she had dressed in a great hurry and neglected to brush her hair.

“Mavis? What’s wrong?” Richard inquired.

“I need to talk to Ray,” she said, a frantic look on her face.

“Sure. Come on in.”

Mavis hurried into the room and crossed to Ray.

“Ray! I need your help!”

THE END?

To be continued in Unsettled

The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 17

Nathan bent down to check Stafford’s pulse. He was dead.

“I’m so sorry, John,” he said with remorse. He had stopped Stafford from releasing the virus but couldn’t save his life. Without looking back, Charlene Reynolds walked out of the room, yelling at someone on her phone as she left. Nathan saw no point in stopping her. Besides, he was far too focused on Elisabeth, her injuries. He stood up and walked over to the ladder that would take him down to her. At the last step, he paused then slowly moved past Horton’s dead body and an unconscious Morton, slumped against the wall where Elisabeth had flung him.

“You had no choice, Nathan,” Elisabeth insisted. “You had to shoot Horton.”

“I know,” Nathan said walking over to where Elisabeth was sitting against a wall.

When he extended a hand, Elisabeth took it and pulled him down beside her.

“I was really hoping I could make it through this without anyone dying,” Nathan said.

“I’m afraid that was a bit unrealistic,” Elisabeth pointed out. “If you’re going to keep doing this, sometimes you’ll have to play by their rules to win.”

“I know,” he nodded his agreement.

Exhausted, Elisabeth let her headrest on Nathan’s shoulder.

“What’s Starfall?” she asked.

“What?” Nathan responded with surprise.

“Back there when I was talking you up to face Stafford, you said ‘before I came to Starfall.’ So what’s Starfall?” Elisabeth asked again.

Nathan took a deep breath and leaned against the wall.

 

“Where I come from, they have a name for this world, this universe.”

“It’s not Crescent Bay?” Elisabeth asked.

“Crescent Bay is the name of the city. Where I come from, the universe is called Starfall,” Nathan answered.

Elisabeth let this sink in then said,

“Well wherever you come from, your people are weird.”

“How’s that?”

“For one thing, we don’t name everything here.”

Nathan laughed and said,

“You’ve been injured. We need to get you some help.”

“Just five more minutes, Daddy,” Elisabeth wearily laughed.

“Come on, young lady,” Nathan insisted.

He stood, scooped up Elisabeth in his arms, and slowly carried her toward the building’s exit.

By the time he got her outside, she was unconscious.

When Jericho spotted them, he hurried over.

“She’s been shot,” Nathan said.

Jericho took Elisabeth from Nathan’s arms and ran over to the nearest waiting ambulance.

Just then 4 21 appeared and walked over to Nathan.

“Thank you for your help, Prophet,” he said.

4 21 watched as the police arrested Garrison and his goons, clearing the way for the EMT’s to move forward and tend to the injured.

“Stafford was the guilty party after all. Perhaps I was mistaken about Ms. Reynolds,” 4 21 added.

Suddenly Nathan’s vision blurred and in a flash of white, he was standing in Reynolds’ office the next morning. A knock sounded at the door, and without waiting for an invitation, someone walked in.

“I don’t wish to be disturbed,” Reynolds ordered, her back to the door.

“Your wishes are of no concern to me,” an older man with a German accent said.

Reynolds spun around and when she saw who it was, she immediately lowered her head in respect.

“Sir, I am sorry for what happened,” Reynolds apologized.

“Your repentance is as worthless as you. You would be dead if I had no further use for you,” Dr. Heinrich Ghislain sneered.

Ghislian’s tone and coldness gave Reynolds no hint as to what was next.

“I had to sacrifice a pawn to clean up your mess. It would have been easier to replace you!” Ghislain pointed out.

“I am so sorry, sir,” Reynolds repeated.

“If you fail me again, you will discover that the dead have no remorse,” Ghislain warned as he turned and left the office.

Once the door closed behind him, Reynolds fell to her knees and began to sob.

 

*          *          *

 

When Nathan’s vision cleared, 4 21’s remarks came back to him.

“Stafford was a lost man,” Nathan said. “Shame we didn’t get to him sooner.”

“Take care, Prophet,” 4 21 said as he lifted into the air.

Nathan watched 4 21 disappear into the clouds then he closed his eyes and shook his head clear.

He saw Jericho standing by one of the ambulances waving to him. Before he could respond, Ethan Evermore walked up behind him and said,

“You must be careful, Nathan.”

Nathan turned around to face him.

“How so?” he asked.

“The timeline seems to be secure after the changes you made, but death is a sore loser,” Ethan explained. “Elisabeth was supposed to die this night, but you saved her. Death is not pleased by your interference. He may seek to reclaim Elisabeth or whoever was near her at the appointed time of her death. Either you or Jericho may die.”

“Why us?” Nathan asked.

“Life here is about balance,” Ethan explained. “Saving a life may cause another life to be lost.”

“John Stafford and Joseph Horton died,” Nathan explained.

“Hopefully, their lives will be enough,” Ethan said. “But if death is dissatisfied, you must be on your guard. Your fight may not be over.”

“Well if it helps, I’ll probably be leaving soon,” Nathan announced.

“You’re going back?” Ethan asked.

“I think so,” Nathan said. “This all started when I was struck by lightning. I figure this is all just an elaborate dream. I’m probably lying in a hospital bed somewhere.”

“If that is true, then I wish you safe passage,” Ethan said.

“Thanks,” Nathan replied.

When he heard approaching footsteps, he turned to see Jericho running up to him.

By the time he reached Nathan, Ethan was gone.

“They’re taking Elisabeth to Evergreen Medical,” Jericho informed. “We need to take your motorcycle back to its owner and get over to the hospital.”

“It’s my bike,” Nathan said absently, his mind turning over and over what Ethan had said.

“I’m not sure how things work where you come from, but here you can’t just take something and claim it’s yours,” Jericho laughed.

“I know,” Nathan said, giving Jericho his full attention. “What I mean is, it really is mine. Whatever force brought me here apparently felt I needed transportation.”

Jericho considered Nathan for a moment then shrugged his shoulders and said,

“Okay. If you say so.”

 

*          *          *

 

In the waiting room of Evergreen Medical Hospital, the first rays of the sun were just peeking through the mini blinds of the frosted windows. Nathan had been up all night, drinking hospital coffee as he struggled to stay awake. He waited with Jericho and Elisabeth’s father Ryan Hayes for news of Elisabeth.

Finally, the doctor came out with an update.

“She’ll be fine,” he reassured.

“Thank you, doctor,” Mr. Hayes said.

“The bullet to her right wing went straight through. She’s already on the mend and should be able to use the wing again within a few days. Other than some minor bruising, she will be good as new in no time,” the surgeon said.

With a big smile, Mr. Hayes looked at Nathan and Jericho.

“She’s always been a fast healer.”

“Thanks again, doctor. May we see her now?” Mr. Hayes asked.

“Yes but better not to stay too long. She needs rest,” the surgeon said.

 

*          *          *

 

Still groggy from the anesthesia, Elisabeth weakly smiled when her father entered the room.

“Hi, Daddy,” she mumbled.

“Hey, Princess. How you feeling?” Mr. Hayes asked.

Nathan and Jericho stood back by the door while Elisabeth and her father talked.

“So where are you going to stay?” Jericho asked.

“I don’t know,” Nathan said. “I haven’t given it much thought.”

“I know some people who would be willing to put you up till you find your own place,” Jericho offered.

“That won’t be necessary. But thanks anyway,” Nathan said.

“You sure?” Jericho asked.

“You can sleep at my place,” Elisabeth broke in.

“Nah,” Nathan responded.

“I insist,” Mr. Hayes said, walking up and hugging Nathan.

“It’s the least I can do for the man who saved my little girl’s life.”

With his arm still around Nathan, Hayes turned back to Elisabeth and said,

“Since Elisabeth will be staying with me till she’s completely healed, you’ll have her apartment in Sandy Grotto all to yourself until you find your own place.”

Sandy Grotto was an island just off the coast of Crescent Bay. It was part of the crescent shaped coastline that gave Crescent Bay its name.

“Daddy, I’ll need to get my stuff,” Elisabeth said.

“Of course, dear,” Mr. Hayes said, releasing Nathan and moving closer to Elisabeth’s side.

“That’s fast work,” Jericho whispered. “Just got here and already you’re crashing at her place.”

“Shut it!” Nathan returned as Jericho stifled a laugh.

Mr. Hayes looked back at Nathan and said, “Let me finish up here, and I’ll show you how to get to my Lizzie’s apartment.”

“No need,” Jericho said.

“Why not?” Mr. Hayes asked in confusion.

“Because he already knows. After all,” Jericho smiled, “he is the Prophet.”

The Cadillac Diaries: Episode 85

Captain Bonkers strode past Ray, taking out one guard after another before they could react, while Ray along with Tyler, Tommy, and Rory kept out of sight. Ray knew they would be safe as long as they stayed out of the way. After a few minutes, the gunfire stopped and a sickening hush fell over the hallway. Gathering courage, Ray and Rory risked a peek from behind the boxes.

Surrounded by King’s dead men, Bonkers brought down his weapons as his chest heaved.

Blood splattered across his mask, he turned to Ray and pointed to a nearby stairwell. Then he dropped his guns, grabbed two pistols and a couple of clips off the floor, and left through the door opposite the stairwell.

“He’s telling us to leave,” Rory said.

“Splendid idea,” Tommy replied.

“What should we do, Ray?” Tyler asked.

Ray thought for a moment then said,

“Tyler, you and Tommy head back outside and keep me informed as to where the cops are. Rory and I are going after King,” Ray said.

“You sure about that, Ray?” Tyler asked.

“Yes. Go,” Ray answered.

After Tyler hesitated a moment, he said,

“Okay, Ray. Whatever you say. Just keep your phone on.”

Tommy was the first out the door with Tyler close behind. Ray took a deep breath and stared intently at Rory.

“Rory, I need your help with this. I think Bonkers was letting us in on his plan. He’s going to distract the guards while you and I go after King.”

“Why would he send us after King?” Rory asked.

“I’m not exactly sure, but once I figure it out, I’ll let you know,” Ray assured him.

Just then Ray’s phone went off.

“Yeah,” he answered. “Got it.”

“Come on. Tyler told me where King’s office is,” Ray said.

The two men hurried to the stairwell then safely navigated the building until they reached the floor of King’s office.

“So now what?” Rory asked.

“You keep an eye out for security, okay? Warn me if they show and don’t get shot,” Ray instructed.

“I’ll be careful, but if they start something. . .” Rory joked, raising his fists.

“I know. I know,” Ray replied. “Come on, buddy.”

Pete’s ears shot forward and his body stiffened as he ran alongside Ray.

 

*          *          *

 

Up in his office, Bradford King grabbed a couple of bags and started filling them with cash. The cops were crawling all over the place, and Bonkers was probably in the building. Everything was falling apart and he had only a few minutes to get out before he was dragged under.

With ninety per cent of his funds deposited in offshore accounts, he had packed enough cash for two weeks. Hurrying over to his laptop, he inserted the flash drive that would wipe it clean, leaving the computer worthless against him.

He finished up, cut off the lights, and shut the door behind him. As he turned the key in the lock, he stopped when he felt someone nearby.

Slowly reaching for his concealed pistol, King heard,

“Bradford King, my name is Raymond Slats, and I’m here to help you.”

King left the pistol in its holster then pulled his hand back and slipped the key from the lock. He knew the name Raymond Slats. Slats was a retiree whose personal hobby was pestering King’s associates.

“Mr. Slats, this is not a good time. I’m on my way out,” King said, shifting his weight. “I’d ask how you got up here, but at this point, it doesn’t matter.”

“Mr. King, I’m here to save your life,” Ray said.

“I don’t need saving, old man,” King growled, picking up his bags.

“Yes. You do,” Ray pressed.  “I believe if you tell your men to stand down and you walk out with me to the police. . .”

By this time, King was close enough to Ray to see past him. A few feet back, weapons drawn, stood Captain Bonkers. Next to him lay an unconscious man, one of King’s bodyguards.

“. . .he might let you live,” Ray continued.

King held Bonker’s stare for a moment then said,

“You have more tricks up your sleeve than I have given you credit for. And to think this was all your doing. I didn’t know you were involved in mass murder.”

King paused for a moment staring at Ray in amazement.

“I knew someone was guiding him,” he said, nodding toward Bonkers, “but I never suspected it was you.”

Ignoring King’s accusations, Ray turned to face Captain Bonkers.

“If King agrees to be arrested and stand trial, will you spare him?” Ray asked.

Bonkers held his position for a long moment then slowly lowered one of his weapons to indicate his agreement to the terms.

“It’s up to you now, King,” Ray pointed out. “If you refuse, I don’t think I’ll be able to stop him.”

Bradford King stood very still as he considered his options then slowly put down his bags.

“I’m just getting my cell phone,” he explained before he slipped his hand into his pocket.

Dialing the number, he waited for an answer. When it came, King said,

“Tell everyone to stand down. Let the police through.”

He ended the call and announced that he was returning the phone to his pocket.

After what seemed like the longest wait of Ray’s life, the elevator doors opened and Bonkers fled just as the cops poured in.

Before the police reached him, King sneered,

“Any charges leveled against me won’t keep. You know that. I’ll have to make some hefty donations, but they’ll send me to some comfy resort with bars while I think about the error of my ways.”

As the police arrested King and his men, Ray and Rory had to explain what they were doing in the building. Rory pretended that the bump on his head where Bonkers struck him was causing a great deal of pain and anguish, so the EMTs escorted him out to one of the ambulances.

With an exasperated look on his face, Richard walked up to Ray and said,

“I should have you arrested, you know. What if you had been shot?”

“Sorry, son. I had to risk it,” Ray said.

“What about Deborah!” Richard barked. “You know how she worries about you!”

Suddenly one of the police officers shouted,

“Detective, they have Bonkers cornered on the roof! He’s on the ledge!”

“Stay here, Ray!” Richard ordered then ran toward the stairs.

As soon as Richard was out of sight, Ray followed him.

Up on the roof, Bonkers balanced himself on the ledge as officers tried to talk him down. Ray noticed that Bonkers seemed a little woozy. Suddenly, Bonkers raised his pistol.

“Wait!” Ray yelled.

But he was too late. Police officers opened fire and Captain Bonkers took twenty rounds to the chest before falling backwards, tumbling end over end sixteen floors to the pavement.

 

*          *          *

 

On the street below, police officers put Bradford King and his security staff in patrol cars and drove away while EMT’s and fire fighters counted the victims. Richard and Ray stood over the dead body of Captain Bonkers as Rory, Tyler, and Tommy walked over.

After slipping his hands in latex gloves, Richard reached down and pulled off Bonkers’ clown mask. Although he didn’t recognize the face, Tommy quickly solved the mystery.

“That’s Alexander Kinsky. He was King’s right hand man and personal guard.”

“I guess that explains a lot,” Rory replied.

“He’s been missing for quite a while,” Tyler pointed out. “Now we know why.”

Ray wasn’t convinced but decided to keep quiet for now.

Placing a hand on Ray’s shoulder, Richard said,

“Come on, Ray. Let’s go home.”

Staring down into the face of Kinsky, Ray stood for a moment then said,

“I really didn’t want things to end this way.”

“I know. But they rarely end the way you want them to,” Richard comforted.

“Sir,” an officer called out as he approached. “We found David Crandall. He’s hold up in a motel room. Swears he’ll shoot anybody who tries to enter except. . .”

The officer trailed off.

“Who?” Richard asked.

The officer looked at Ray then back and said,

“He’ll only speak to Mr. Slats.”

“Let’s go,” Ray responded.

“No!” Richard protested.

“There’s no other way, Richard. I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time,” Ray sighed. “It’s time to end it.”

The Train: Episode 71

 

As he raced down the street, Michael risked a quick look back. The police were in full pursuit.

“Very good,” he told himself. “Okay, what’s next?”

Step 3: Have a destination in mind.

Even though driving around in circles may seem like a good way to lose the cops in a chase, it’s not. Police officers spend a lot of time in the city and are in communication with other officers and districts. Law enforcement agencies will put out an All Points Bulletin, casting a citywide net if need be. Focus on a point and aim for it. Detour if necessary, but have a destination in mind. It will keep you from being turned around.

Michael raced down the street dodging cars and running lights. He knew that thousands of car chases ended in tragedy or capture, so he needed to lose the police officers quickly and ditch the car. Aiming for the outskirts of town, Michael kept driving east. Worst-case scenario, he would drive the car into the river and hopefully lose them in the bay.

Step 4: Exercise extreme caution at intersections.

Racing through an intersection during a police chase, narrowly avoiding the cross traffic, may seem dramatic, but intersections, especially high traffic ones, are the most likely place to be caught or killed. People tend to focus on their own plans, where they are going, what they will do. They fail to consider others, to be environmentally aware. It is best to drive as though no one can see you so you never expect someone to get out of your way. This driving style is far more defensive and will increase your chances of getting safely through traffic.

Up ahead Michael saw an intersection, so he slowed and planned his next move. A sign just under the traffic light pointed left indicating an upcoming tunnel to the airport. Michael cut the wheel hard and turned at the intersection, following the signs.

Step 5: Take Cover.

Driving faster and outmaneuvering the police isn’t always enough to keep from being caught. A resourceful officer might request that a police helicopter be brought into the chase, providing a law enforcement presence in the air. Air support is an overwhelming advantage for ground officers because the aircrew can keep you in sight. No matter where you drive, how fast, or how well, they will alert the ground force as to your location. To outsmart the helicopter crew, you will need to seek cover, places the helicopter cannot track you.

Michael flew into the tunnel, moving as quickly as traffic would allow. He turned on his low beams and tried not to get too close to the vehicle in front of him. He knew his speed was too fast for the confined space, but he had to exit the tunnel before the police could seal off the other end. Up ahead two cars were stopped, blocking off one of the lanes. The drivers were out of their cars, arguing over a fender bender. Michael slid to a stop, hopped out of the ’66 Chevelle SS, threw the keys to the nearest of the two drivers, and slid into the lead car, a red Volkswagen bug. As he pulled away, the driver yelled in surprise, chasing Michael for a few feet.

“Sorry, pal,” Michael yelled back.

When he drove out of the tunnel, he passed two police officers on the road. Heading for the airport, he knew he didn’t have much time before the cops discovered he was driving a red Volkswagen bug. If he could just get to the airport’s long-term parking lot, he would have plenty of vehicles to choose from.

After pulling in to airport parking, he drove past the front doors, catching the attention of an officer. When the officer yelled for him to stop, Michael stepped on the gas. As he flew past the rows of cars with the officer in pursuit, a van pulled out in front of him. Unable to stop in time, Michael struck the side of the van. He leapt out, made sure the driver was not injured, then ran into the airport.

He had to find a new car and get moving before the police spotted him. Trying not to draw attention to himself, he hurried through the airport looking for a safe exit.

Within minutes, airport security had joined the chase. Michael shot across the terminal but stopped halfway. By now, the airport was crawling with security and police, and Michael was getting desperate. He noticed a small door less than 5 feet to his right. Hoping it opened into a tunnel to the runway, he hurried over and pulled the door open. On the other side of the door was a small room, less than 30 square feet. When he stepped back out of the room, a gunshot rang out, forcing him to dart back inside. He closed the door and began a frantic search for another way out of the room. Any second now, the cops would pull open the door and arrest or shoot him. He felt like a trapped rat. Heart racing, Michael told himself not to panic. As he tried to decide what to do, suddenly the door opened.

 

 

*          *          *

 

 

Dr. Ricer and Nicole headed down the street to the pharmacy to get directions to the public records office. As she scribbled directions on a scrap of paper, the woman at the front cash register told them it was across the street from the public library. With Lucy in tow, they thanked the woman and stepped outside to hail a cab. Ten minutes later, they stood in front of the public records office. While Nicole worked her way through city records, Ricer headed for the library to research the history of the neighborhood. Although the library was full of patrons, Ricer stopped reading when he suddenly felt an uncomfortable presence nearby.

“I know who they are,” the man said.

When Ricer lifted his eyes from the pages, he heard the subtle click of a gun’s hammer behind him. The aisles of the library’s bookshelves were too narrow for someone to stand behind him, so Ricer figured the gunman must be one row over, pointing the gun through the shelved books.

Ricer looked around, hoping someone would see the weapon and bring help, but no one seemed to notice.

“But who are you?” the man asked.

Frightened for Lucy, Ricer glanced toward his granddaughter and saw that she had fallen asleep at a nearby table, her head resting on the pages of an open book.

“Don’t worry,” the man said. “She’s safe.”

“If you want her to stay that way, answer my question. Who. . .are. . .you?”

“Elijah Ricer, and that’s my granddaughter Lucy,” Ricer answered.

“What purpose do you serve?” the man asked.

“I don’t understand,” Ricer said.

“She’s the muscle. He’s the detective. What role do you play?” the man asked.

“How do you know—?” Ricer began.

Before he could finish, Ricer heard a woman’s voice in the same aisle as the gunman.

“Excuse me,” she said.

Ricer heard a scuffle then what sounded like a click before silence. He had a bad feeling that the woman was injured or dead, but he feared that if he moved, the man would hurt Lucy.

“Find anything, Doc?” Nicole asked, strolling over. “The public records’ search was a bust.”

Ricer met her eyes, and when she saw his fear, she drew her weapon. Squaring her shoulders, she raised her gun and turned. Suddenly the man bolted from his hiding place and ran for the exit. As Nicole chased after the gunman, Ricer hurried over to check on Lucy. When he looked into the aisle where the man had been hiding, he saw a woman lying on the floor in a pool of blood.

Published in: on April 18, 2017 at 3:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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.