Unsettled: Episode 9

“Where are we going exactly?” Rory asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Wintervale Manor,” Kristina said.

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

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

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

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

“You’d know!” Rory quipped.

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

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

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

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

“And Dale?” Kristina asked.

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

When Kristina lost it, Mavis scolded Victoria.

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

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

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

“What makes you think that?” Ray asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Anybody lost here?” Rory asked.

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

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

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

“What?” Mavis asked.

“A hostile takeover,” Jack replied.



*          *          *


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

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

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

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

“It’s ready,” the man said.

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

“You’re going to enjoy this!”

Turning back to face Coldwater, Heath asked,

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

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

After a moment, Heath turned toward Parker.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“. . .five!”

Published in: on March 19, 2018 at 2:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Unsettled: Episode 8

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

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

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

“Some,” Ray said, testing the door.

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

“But sometimes people work late.”

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

“Third floor, room 304,” Rory said.

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

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

“He’s in,” Ray assured him.

“What makes you so certain?” Rory asked.

“Oh just a feeling,” Ray replied.

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

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

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

“See,” Rory laughed. “No one here.”

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

“Just a moment.”

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

“May I help you?” she smiled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suddenly Parker’s friendly expression changed to a scowl.

“Who are you?” he demanded.

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

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

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

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

As Ray stood to leave, he said,

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

“Out!” Parker barked.

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

When they reached the elevator, Rory asked,

“That’s it?’ We just walk out?”

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

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

“And by the others you mean?”

“Mavis and Kristina,” Ray replied.

“Good,” Rory said, relaxing a bit.

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

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

* * *

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

“What’s happened?” Rory asked.

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

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

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

“What happened here?” Rory asked.

“I have no idea,” Billy said.

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

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

Rory looked at Billy and inquired,

“What happened inside?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Detective Joeslyn Márquez, Coldwater PD.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What happened in there?” Mavis asked.

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 25

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

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

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

“Stay out of my head!” Prescott ordered.

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

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

“Who are you protecting?”

“Stay out of my head!” Prescott snapped.

As Prescott started to move forward, Nathan advised,

“I wouldn’t do that.”

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

“Don’t kill him,” Nathan said.

Elizabeth growled and dropped the man to the floor.

Prescott saw his chance and ran for the exit.

“No!” Elizabeth roared, running after him.

“Wait!” Nathan yelled as he followed her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Are you okay, Jericho?” Nathan asked.

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

Just then, Detective Cassandra Shields arrived on the scene.

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

“Stand down! He’s with us.”

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

“What happened?” she asked.

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


*          *          *


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“So what is this place?” Elizabeth asked.

Nathan turned to face Elizabeth.

“Are you following me?”

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

Nathan shook his head in mild exasperation.

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

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

Elizabeth watched Nathan as he shared the information,

When he finished, she said,

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

Ignoring her comment, Nathan added,

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

“What about Brian Pearson?” Elizabeth asked.

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

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

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

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

“Do you have an appointment?” Jeff asked.

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

“One moment please,” Jeff responded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeff punched in something on the tablet before saying,

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

“Thanks,” Nathan said with a smile.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Who on earth was that?”

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

“He seems pretty angry,” Elizabeth said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Wait!” Nathan yelled.

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

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

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


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,


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.”


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



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.


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,


“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,


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!”


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.”