The Train: Episode 73

Without another word, Elliot turned to the station door and opened it. When he stepped through with Michael, they were in the library.

“Come on,” Elliot instructed.

He led Michael to a couch near the lobby where he saw Lucy, crying and distraught.

“What happened?” Michael asked, rushing to her.

“I woke up and. . .and Grandpa was gone,” she said between sobs.

Michael bent down and slipped his arms around Lucy, trying to comfort her.

Looking up at Elliot, he asked, “Is this what you meant by something costing dearly?”

Elliot just nodded.

“What happened, Lucy?” Michael asked.

“I don’t know. Grandpa went over there to use the phone and he told me to stay with him, but I got sleepy, so I came over here and lay down. Then when I woke up, he was gone. I looked and looked, but I couldn’t find him,” the words tumbled out.

“I’m sorry I fell asleep,” she cried.

Michael patted her back and said,

“It’s okay, Lucy. We’ll find him.”

When Michael stood, Elliot motioned for him to come closer.

“The killer took him,” Elliott whispered. “Don’t worry. He’s still alive.”

“Then let’s go get him,” Michael said.

“Not yet,” Elliot replied. “When Nicole gets back, I’m going after him. You still have a murder to stop.”

“Where is she anyway?” Michael asked.

At that moment, Nicole walked into the library. When she saw them, she came over.

“I lost him,” she said, trying to catch her breath. “Frustrating!”

Then looking around, she asked, “Where’s Ricer?”

“The killer took him,” Michael whispered.

“When? How?” Nicole asked.

“When you were away,” Michael snapped.

“Me?” Nicole defended.

Before either of them could say another word, Elliot barked impatiently,

“Silence!”

“You both did what you thought was right. Unfortunately, neither of you thought ahead. This killer is on to you. He knows all about you. That’s why this has been so difficult. How and why he knows, I can’t say. But now that Ricer’s been taken, it’s time for me to get involved. I’ll get Ricer back. You two deal with the others,” Elliot ordered.

“Others? What others?” Michael asked.

“I think there’s more than one killer,” Nicole explained. “I chased one out of the library but lost him in traffic. Then I saw another one atop a four-story building not seconds after losing him. I was supposed to think this was the work of one person, but no one could move that fast. There’s got to be at least two.”

“Given what’s happened, you’d better hope the killer and his helpers haven’t had the chance to regroup. Get back on this while I find Ricer,” Elliot ordered.

“Come on, Lucy. Let’s go find your grandpa,” Elliot said as he extended his hand to her.

He walked her over to the stairwell door, opened it, and just before they stepped through to the train station on the other side, he turned toward Michael and Nicole.

“Hurry!” he warned, closing the door behind them.

Michael looked at Nicole.

“We have to assume this killer has a fallback position for the other two, a place they would meet up,” he said.

“Why do we have to assume that?” Nicole asked.

“Because otherwise we have nothing,” Michael replied.

Nicole nodded then gazed out the window.

“Who is this person?” she asked.

“Someone who has had contact with us before. Otherwise, how would he know anything about us? Ever since we started this train thing, I’m been worried that one day we’d run into an old enemy or contact,” Michael confessed.

“I have to admit, I never thought about that,” Nicole returned.

“Take me to where he lost you, where the two tried to trick you,” Michael suggested.

* * *

A few minutes later they were out on the street. The sun had gone down and traffic was light. People headed home from work while night crews arrived to start their shifts and restaurants and clubs filled up with patrons ready for a night out on the town.

Michael stood on the curb and closed his eyes, listening to the city.

How to evade capture in a manhunt:

Step 1: Stay in a rural area.

Most manhunts start in the city or somewhere near the scene of the crime. Police may quickly set up roadblocks and establish checkpoints. In the city, you will have difficulty finding your way through the maze of streets without running into law enforcement, but since rural areas are too expansive for the police to search thoroughly, the country is a better place to hide out.

They were far away from the country, so Michael marked that possibility off the list.

Step 2: Seek help.

If you know someone you haven’t spoken to or contacted in a while, that person may be able to help you hide out, especially if they don’t know what you’re going through. You do well to leave your hiding place early in the morning and try to disappear in the morning traffic.

Since this killer was confident and probably domineering, insisting his followers stay loyal to him and keep their mouth shut, Michael knew it was unlikely his helpers would run to friends. He dismissed this possibility as well.

Step 3: Stay away from all motels within a fifty-mile radius of your escape.

Usually the first place the police will check is parking lots for stolen or out-of-state license plates. They will question the motel staff to find out if anyone matching your description has recently checked in. If you have no choice but to stay in a motel, avoid the low-rent ones and stay in expensive ones instead. Police are more likely to check low-rent motels, assuming you have little to no cash. Always pay in cash or use prepaid credit cards.

The killer and his crew weren’t running from the police, so they wouldn’t be concerned about the fifty-mile radius. But a hotel or motel would be a good place to go, especially if they needed somewhere safe to hide out.

When Michael opened his eyes, he looked around for the first available cab.

“Come on,” he said as he hurried over to catch a ride.

Climbing in the back seat, he waited until a confused Nicole slid in beside him. Then he asked the driver,

“Where’s the nearest expensive motel?”

The cabbie thought for only a moment before rattling off a name.

“Take us there,” Michael directed.

“Can’t wait, huh?” the cabbie laughed as he started the engine and pulled out into traffic.

Published in: on June 18, 2017 at 10:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Train: Episode 72

As the gunman ran through the library, Nicole kept after him. She couldn’t get a good look at his face with the cap pulled down over his head. Like a gazelle, he bounded down the stairs taking three and four at a time. When he hit the first floor lobby, he ran through a large group of people without slowing then exploded through the front doors, flipping forward over the stairs and hitting the pavement in a full sprint. Nicole kept him in her sights, knowing he’d tire before she. Across an open courtyard and around a fountain the gunman ran without slowing. Nicole easily cleared the fountain and was just gaining ground when the killer entered a tunnel that ran from the courtyard to the street. The well-lit tunnel was empty except for a woman walking with her small child.

Nicole pushed herself, picking up speed. If the killer held the woman at gunpoint, Nicole knew she’d have him. She was a crack shot and never missed her target. Suddenly, the killer headed towards the mother, unaware of the danger, and dipped, scooping up the child in his arm and snatching her away.

“No! Stop!” the terrified mother screamed as the killer fled with the startled child.

Concerned for the child’s life, Nicole raised her pistol, aiming for the man’s shoulder.

But when he reached the street busy with traffic, he leapt over a parked car and dropped the crying child in the middle of the street. Nicole quickly cleared the parked car and grabbed the child before she could be hit.

After returning the child to her mother, Nicole patrolled the area, walking back and forth as she searched for the killer.

All of a sudden, she spotted him standing on the roof of a four-story apartment building across the street, shaded by the rays of the dying sun.

Nicole squinted against the light to get a better look.

“Same height, same clothes. That’s got to be him. But how did he get up there so fast?”

The killer stood perfectly still as he watched Nicole for a moment before turning and disappearing.

“Something’s not right. I wounded him. How is he moving so fast,” she wondered.

“Thank you,” the mother said as she came up to Nicole. “Who was that horrible man?”

“I wish I knew,” Nicole replied, her eyes scanning the area.

 

*          *          *

 

Out of time and nowhere to hide, Michael set his jaw and turned to face whoever was coming through the door. He didn’t want to hurt anyone, but this crazy plan of his to distract the cops had gone south quicker than he expected.

Light poured into the room and Michael saw the silhouette of a man standing in the doorway.

“Idiot!” muttered Elliot Tombs.

“You?” Michael asked.

“Yes, you imbecile. Hurry and get out here!” Elliot ordered.

Michael quickly slipped through the door into the train station.

“Thank you,” Michael said.

“Just doing my job,” Elliot replied as he closed the door.

“What now?” Michael asked.

“Well first,” Elliot said, “this.”

He reached out and smacked Michael upside the head.

“You never leave your team!” Elliot barked.

“But I needed to draw the cops away,” Michael defended.

“Noble causes aside, you can’t protect someone if you’re nowhere near them. Leaving them in a safe location instead of dragging them into a firefight may feel like the right thing, but when things go bad as they usually do, you’ll be nowhere near them to help. Now because I’m busy helping you, there’s no one watching out for the others,” Elliot argued.

“Nicole is with them. She’s more terrifying than anyone I’ve seen so far,” Michael joked.

“Enough!” Elliot snapped. “You’re not taking this seriously, and it’s going to cost you dearly.”

“Wait,” Michael said. “What do you mean?”

 

 

*          *          *

 

 

Dr. Ricer hurried over to the woman and checked her pulse. When he saw that she was dead, there was nothing he could do for her, he awoke Lucy and headed for the nearest phone.

“This doesn’t fit. No one was supposed to die here,” he thought.

Once he found a phone, he told Lucy to stay beside him while he made a call. He dialed 911 and waited for an operator to answer. When she came on the line, he told her about the woman’s body, what had happened, and explained that he only got a glimpse of the man as he fled the library. She told him to wait on the line, but he quickly ended the call.

Looking down at his side, he saw that Lucy was no longer there. He spun around and sighed in relief when he saw that she had crawled onto a nearby couch and fallen asleep again.

As he watched her sleeping, he couldn’t stop worrying about her.

“I wish I had just called your parents to pick you up. This is no place for a child,” he said softly.

At that moment, Ricer felt someone move up behind him. But before he could turn around, a man’s voice said,

“I could not agree more. This is a dangerous place for one so young.”

Ricer froze. He had heard this same voice in the bookshelves before the woman was shot.

“You know it’s quite noble calling the police like that,” the man said. “Shame they’ll be too late.”

Turning slowly, Ricer saw the man’s face, his eyes staring deeply into Ricer’s.

“You!” Ricer said in surprise.

“So that’s who you are,” the killer laughed. “You’re the smart one.”

“How did you—” Ricer began.

“Get here?” the man interrupted.

“Even an alpha wolf needs a pack,” the killer smirked.

Looking back toward the aisle where the dead woman lay, the man said,

“Sorry about her, but you know how rambunctious kids can get.”

As Ricer backed up to shield Lucy he said “If you hurt her,”

“Don’t worry. I’m not here for her,” the killer smiled as he reached out for Dr. Ricer.

 

Published in: on May 18, 2017 at 3:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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 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.

The Train: Episode 69

Michael could see that the figure wrapped in shadows had a man’s build. Just as he ran toward the figure, Nicole drew her pistol. Seeing the gun, the man turned and headed farther back into the shadows. The round fired, cut through the air past Michael’s ear and struck the man in the shoulder. Twisting from the hit, the man kept running, gripping his wound. The back of the burned out rec center opened up to an alley. When he reached what was left of the back door, the man forced his way through and ran into the alley, hurdling a car and running in front of a truck. As the truck driver blared his horn, sliding to a stop, the fleeing man dodged the front bumper and disappeared. Michael stopped and searched the alley. The man was gone.

“What happened?” Nicole asked, catching up.

“He got away,” Michael said.

“How? I hit him,” Nicole questioned.

“You did, but if it slowed him down, I sure couldn’t tell. He’s fast,” Michael replied.

Michael told Nicole what had happened in the alley.

“He’s the killer, I assume?” Nicole asked.

Michael wasn’t listening. His attention had shifted to a cab parked at the mouth of the alley, the vehicle the killer had leapt over in his escape.

“Wait here,” Michael said, approaching the cab.

As he drew closer, everything slowed and his training kicked in.

 

How to investigate a crime scene:

Step 1: Approach and secure the area around the scene.

Before entering a crime scene, ingress and egress must be controlled to prevent contamination of any potential physical evidence. Make a mental note of what you see, hear and smell. Determine if anything looks out of place.

Except for the rantings of the angry truck driver as he drove away, the street was relatively quiet. A few cars passed by, and Michael noticed the smell of burnt fuel. He reasoned that the cab must have been parked in a hurry because it was blocking the alley, something a cabbie would avoid so as not to be ticketed or towed.

Step 2: Initiate preliminary survey.

Conduct a survey of the crime scene itself. Look for signs of entry such as open windows, damaged doors, ladders and the like. Note all sensory readings—the smells, sounds, sights—as before and once again determine if anything looks out of place.  Take plenty of photos of the scene.

Michael placed his hand on the hood of the cab and confirmed that the engine was warm. None of the windows were broken, and the keys were still in the ignition. As he circled the cab, he spotted a small piece of clothing sticking out from the closed trunk, and completing his lap around the car, he saw luggage in the back seat.

Step 3: Evaluate physical evidence.

Reconstruct the events of the crime. Use the physical evidence to answer questions such as: Did the crime take place here or somewhere else? Has the victim or anything in the scene been tampered with? How did the crime affect the scene (signs of a struggle, blood spatter, bullet holes)?

Michael tried the driver’s door and found it was locked. Removing a pair of lock pics from his pocket, he opened the door and carefully slipped the keys out of the ignition. As his eyes slid over the interior of the car, he saw two bullet holes in the driver’s seat and two in the seat behind the driver. Michael slipped out of the car, walked around to the back, and opened the trunk. Curled up on the floor mat, face upward, was a dead man. When he carefully turned the man over, he saw two bullet holes in his back.

Step 4: Prepare a narrative of the scene.

From the collected evidence, compose an account of what happened.

Michael stepped away and looked over at Nicole.

“Well, here’s the cab driver.”

“How do you know it’s him?” Nicole asked.

“The driver’s seat has two bullets holes entering the back of the seat and ejecting through the front with no damage to the dash or window. Plus, the driver has two bullet holes in his back, so he had to be driving when whoever was in the back seat shot him twice. There’s no blood spatter on the front seat or on the back seat. Looks like his killer hailed a cab, probably one at random, climbed in and shot the driver twice in the back with a small caliber pistol. Then he threw the body into the trunk and drove the cab to pick up James Nolan. After leaving the airport, I would guess pretty much after he pulled in here, he turned around and shot Nolan twice in the chest before dragging his body inside and hanging it from the rafter,” Michael explained.

“So he kills a random cab driver just so he can pick up a random guy and kill him in this place which someone, probably him, burned down?” Nicole asked.

“I know. I know. It doesn’t make sense, but there’s got to be a connection we’re missing,” Michael said. “We need to figure out what it is.”

“You know what this reminds me of?” Nicole asked.

“What’s that?” Michael questioned.

“The assignment before this one. Things kept changing. Remember?” Nicole said.

 

*          *          *

 

As they were leaving the scene, Michael realized he still had the car keys.

“Hold on. I’ve got to put everything back the way it was.”

Michael left Nicole and hurried back to the cab. He put the keys back in the ignition then locked and closed the door. Moving around to the trunk, he repositioned the body the way it was when he found it and was closing the trunk when he heard a woman’s voice ask,

“What are you doing?”

When Michael spun around, he saw a middle-aged woman staring at him in horror.

“It’s not what you think,” he quickly explained.

When he stepped closer, the woman let out an ear-piercing scream and ran off.

“Well that can’t be good,” he said.

Checking that the trunk was securely closed, Michael hurried back to Nicole.

“We need to get out of here!” he insisted.

“What happened? What was that scream?” she asked.

“Some woman. I don’t know. She spotted me with the body.”

When they reached Dr. Ricer, he was nervously pacing back and forth.

“What happened?” he demanded.

“What do you mean?” Nicole asked.

“According to history, what was a simple murder investigation is now a city-wide manhunt.”

Published in: on February 16, 2017 at 6:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Train: Episode 68

When Michael and Dr. Ricer finally joined Nicole, they found her sitting on a bench across the street from a burning building.

“Is that the rec center?” Michael asked, looking at the scene.

“Yep,” Nicole sighed.

“What happened?” Ricer asked.

“I know my ideas can be bad sometimes, but I don’t think burning down the building is going to stop a killer,” Michael said. Then looking at Ricer, he asked, “It didn’t, did it?”

Ricer shook his head but before he could say anything, Nicole said,

“No. By the time I got here, the building was already on fire. I don’t know what happened.”

“Let me get this straight. The building burned down, but James Nolan is still murdered?” Michael asked.

Ricer nodded.

“Well then we need to find him or at least stake out the place where he’s found,” Michael suggested.

“Where is he found this time?” Nicole asked.

“Still here,” Ricer said.

“What?” Michael and Nicole asked in unison.

Ricer just nodded.

“That doesn’t make any sense,” Michael complained.

“Why would the killer bring him here in the first place?” Nicole asked. “There must be some significance to this building. Does Nolan volunteer here on weekends or did he maybe work here in his youth?”

Ricer shook his head and said,

“No. In fact, James Nolan didn’t move to New York until three months ago.”

“So it’s not Nolan himself but maybe something he did recently,” Michael suggested. “What do you think we should do, Nicole?”

Her brows furrowed, Nicole looked off in the distance then up at Michael and Ricer.

“All right, first we need to go and find James Nolan. Maybe we can warn him of what’s about to happen,” she proposed.

“That won’t do,” Ricer said, shaking his head. “James Nolan doesn’t come back into town until tonight. The estimated time of death is right after his arrival.”

“Then we’ll just catch him when he shows up,” Nicole said.

 

*          *          *

 

Later that night in the airport parking lot, they waited for Nolan’s plane to land.

“According to the original report, he leaves the airport and gets into a cab. That’s the last time he’s seen alive,” Ricer explained.

“Okay, so we wait. His plane should be coming in any minute now,” Nicole said.

Keeping their eyes on the airport doors, they watched for anyone matching the description Ricer had given them earlier.

Suddenly they heard a commotion a few parking spaces away. They turned their attention toward the noise and saw that a car two spaces down was on fire.

“What in the world?” Michael said.

Just then they heard the siren of approaching fire trucks.

Climbing out of the car, they watched as the emergency vehicles pulled up into the lot and fire fighters went to work, spraying the fire and moving everyone away.

“How did they get here so fast? It looks like the car just started burning,” Nicole asked.

“Perhaps they were already in the area,” Ricer suggested.

Michael looked back toward the airport doors and slowly scanned the crowd.

“There he is!” he exclaimed.

A man fitting James Nolan’s description came through the airport doors.

Michael struggled to reach Nolan but was blocked by the crowd of people who had gathered to watch the fire fighters.

By the time he pushed his way through, Nolan was already in a cab pulling away.

“We’re too late,” Ricer said.

“I don’t think this was an accident,” Nicole speculated. “This fire was clearly a distraction, but the fire department? What are the odds they would be in the area? That is unless someone called them ahead of time.”

Michael nodded. “I agree. Someone is changing things, and it’s not us.”

“You think Brody may have returned?” Ricer asked.

“Nope,” Elliot said, suddenly walking up behind them.

Ricer jumped in surprise.

“I can promise you Brody won’t be bothering you anymore,” Elliot informed.

“What’s going on?” Nicole asked.

“I can’t tell you. Against the rules. I’m only allowed to get involved if you’re in danger,” Elliot reminded them.

Michael threw up his hands.

“Is someone else from the train here?” Nicole asked.

“Nope,” Elliot replied.

“Wait what?” Michael asked.

“Tell you later,” Nicole said.

“I can say this much. If you’re going to make a difference, you had better hurry up and find a new ride,” Elliot said.

“We have a car,” Michael said.

“That car’s not going anywhere, not on those tires,” Elliot pointed out.

Looking back at the car they had borrowed, Michael saw that both rear tires were flat.

“Seriously? What do—” he began.

But when he turned, he saw that Elliot had disappeared.

“We have to find Nolan now!” Nicole announced.

“Well at least we know where he’s going to be. Maybe we can get there before it’s too late,” Michael said.

 

*          *          *

 

After they found another car, Michael drove them back to the burned-out rec center.

“You and Lucy wait here,” Nicole told Ricer as she and Michael hurried into the remains of the building.

Their hopes were dashed when they found the bloody body of James Nolan hanging from one of the blackened rafters. Nicole reached up and checked for a pulse.

“He’s dead,” she said.

Nicole saw that Michael was frozen in place, staring at something. She was about to ask him what was wrong but then she felt it too.

As she turned and followed Michael’s gaze, she saw at the back of the building someone in the shadows watching them.

Published in: on January 17, 2017 at 3:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Train: Episode 67

“Me?” Michael asked.

Stunned by Dr. Ricer’s revelation, Michael stared at the professor waiting for an explanation. When Ricer said nothing, Michael asked,

“Would you please elaborate on that?”

“I don’t know what to tell you, Michael,” Ricer said, shaking his head. “Remember, I only see what history records, and according to history, the killer was an unidentified male found dead from an apparent suicide. The police released a facial composite of him to the public hoping someone would come forward to identify him. The drawing is you, Michael.”

“That’s impossible,” Michael argued. “It’s 1970! I won’t be born for another 8 years!”

“Something must have changed,” Nicole suggested.

“How is that even possible?” Michael snapped.

“Do NOT bark at me!” Nicole warned.

“Sorry,” Michael said as he recoiled. “It’s just a lot to take in. I’m not even born yet and already I’m accused of murdering five people.”

“Who was the original killer?” Nicole asked.

“Ronald Gibson. A forty-two-year-old police officer. No known family. He lives alone in an apartment about three blocks from here,” Ricer answered.

“And what about the first body?” Nicole asked.

“The first victim was James Nolan. He was a father of two. Worked as an aircraft mechanic. His body will be found tomorrow morning in a rec center six miles south of here,” Ricer said.

“All right then,” Michael said. Then taking a deep breath he added,

“Let’s go find James Nolan.”

“No,” Nicole interrupted. “I’ll follow up on Nolan while you and Ricer go learn more about Gibson.”

“What about me?” Lucy asked. “What can I do?”

Nicole bent down and smoothed Lucy’s soft blonde hair.

“I need you to keep an eye on him,” Nicole said, pointing to Michael. “Make sure he behaves. Can you do that for me?”

Lucy smiled up at her and nodded. Then she reached out and took Michael’s hand.

Through a forced smile, Michael asked,

“So why are you suddenly ordering everyone around?”

“Because you’ve already somehow changed history, and not only has it gotten worse, but you’ve gotten yourself involved. Maybe if we do things my way for a change, they’ll play out differently,” Nicole explained then turned her attention to Ricer.

“Doc, don’t inform me of the changes unless it’s dramatic or I ask for an update.”

As Ricer nodded, Nicole met Michael’s eyes.

“Problem?” she asked.

“Nope,” Michael responded.

Nicole turned on her heels and walked away.

As he watched her head down the sidewalk, Michael asked,

“Doc, you know I’ve always been the leader of this group. Why am I taking orders from her?”

“Because she could easily kill you,” Ricer replied.

Michael shook his head that he understood and said,

“Scary when you think about how fast it would be.”

* * *

Officer Ronald Gibson lived on the second floor of a brownstone in Brooklyn.

Michael and Dr. Ricer walked the three blocks there with Michael carrying Lucy most of the way. Just outside the building, they stopped. A set of stone stairs led up to the front door.

“How many of the murders take place in Brooklyn?” Michael asked.

“All of them so far,” Ricer answered. “And all within the same grouping of neighborhoods.”

“That’s odd,” Michael said.

“What is?” Ricer asked.

“The last stop before this, the one where we saved Cynthia Cooper and her son, wasn’t that in Brooklyn?” Michael asked.

Before Ricer could respond, the front door opened and a middle-aged man with light brown hair going gray around the temples stepped out and closed the front door of the brownstone behind him. He was dressed in a policeman’s uniform, so Michael assumed he was Ronald Gibson.

As the officer made his way down the steps, Michael raised his hand to catch his attention.

“Excuse me, Officer Gibson? I’m Vincent Chase with the New York Post,” Michael said, slipping into one of the many random backgrounds he had created.

“What can I do for you?” Gibson smiled.

“I was hoping for a moment of your time to answer a few questions. I’m doing a story on depression among civil servants, and I was told you’d be a good source,” Michael explained.

“Of course,” Gibson said. Then noticing Ricer and Lucy, he asked, “Why—”

“Oh never mind them,” Michael laughed, cutting him off. “They’re my father and my niece. They just wanted to see what a day at work was like for me.”

“Pleasure,” Gibson said, touching the brim of his hat.

“Okay. Here we go. First question,” Michael said. “How happy are you right now with your job?”

The wheels in Michael’s head started turning as he watched for signs of Gibson lying or hiding something.

How to tell if someone is lying:

Step 1: Look for a pause or delay in speech or response.

Most people are not good at lying on the spot. When asking a question, allow the person time to answer the question without interruption. The length of time between your question and their answer dictates whether the subject is pausing or coming up with a lie.

“Couldn’t be happier,” Gibson said without pause. “Everyone in my department has said that I need to make detective if I want to make any decent money, but I like being on the street helping people. I’m not in this job for the money. I’m in it to help people.”

Step 2: Look for a disassociation between what they say and what they do.

Most responses come from thought and consideration. Therefore, when some people respond with a yes, they subconsciously nod. Lying goes against the subconscious and forces the mind voluntarily to control what is normally an involuntary response. A look, body language and head movement don’t sync up with what is being said.

“I was wondering if you have ever felt frustration or anger towards the people you encounter. I know you don’t always receive a positive response, and I wondered if you ever feel anger or frustration at that,” Michael said.

“Oh heavens no. My father used to say that a true hero does the right thing, not for the glory but because it’s the right thing to do,” Gibson said, his head shaking no.

Step 3: Look for tells.

In poker a person’s behavior will change in response to a hidden agenda or mindset. The same is true for lying. A subject telling a lie, especially an elaborate one, will usually look away, trying to hide their mouth or eyes. They may even clear their throat or find some way to cover their face in an attempt to hide the guilt they feel from lying.

“Have you ever felt angry or frustrated towards your fellow officers who might not take the job as seriously as you?” Michael asked.

Gibson crossed his arms and his smile cracked a little.

“No, I do not. Despite what people may think, we are not perfect. I know that every one of my fellow officers struggles, and I do everything I can to help them in the challenges they face every single day.”

Reading Gibson’s posture, Michael said, “Sorry if I offended you.”

“You didn’t offend me, Mr. Chase, but if all you’re going to write is a story bashing the NYPD, then the interview is over,” Gibson said indignantly.

Step 4: Look for personal grooming.

When the subject is lying, they tend to focus on personal grooming which looks like they’re fidgeting. What the subject may be doing is trying to cover the guilty signs of a lie by making everything else perfect. This can also double as a tell, giving the liar something else to look at in lieu of eye contact.

“No, sir. That’s not the kind of story I’m writing. I apologize if I came across that way. On behalf of the people of New York, thank you for all you do,” Michael said, reaching out his hand.

Gibson’s hard stare melted into a smile and he shook Michael’s hand.

“I appreciate your support. You have a good day,” Gibson said.

Stepping out of the way, Michael let Gibson pass then waited until the officer crossed the street.

“Well he’s not guilty,” Michael announced.

“Even I can see that,” Ricer said.

“Doesn’t make any sense. At first I thought maybe someone framed him for the murders, but now I can’t think of any reason why anyone would want to harm him. He’s one of those people everybody seems to like,” Michael said.

“Not the type who would murder five women,” Ricer said.

“I hope Nicole has better luck.”

* * *

Nicole was within a few blocks of the rec center when she saw the smoke. Fire trucks screamed past her, escalating her dread. She began running, hoping she was not too late, but when she reached the center, her fears were confirmed. As the flames engulfed the building, fire fighters fought to get the fire under control.

Published in: on December 18, 2016 at 6:57 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Train: Episode 66

Ever since they returned to the train, they had been filling up on quiet time, relaxing and recovering from the difficult rescue of Cynthia and Kenneth Cooper.

Dr. Ricer sat in the dining car, trying to get lost in a book he’d found in one of the empty rooms, but he struggled to concentrate. What Elliot had said outside Cooper’s apartment building kept coming back to him.

“The third will take the lives of possibly hundreds.”

Even though Cynthia and Kenneth were safe, each free to live a normal life, something wasn’t sitting right with Ricer.

“Something wrong, Doc?” Nicole asked as she walked over to him.

Ricer jumped at the sound of her voice. He had been so lost in thought that he hadn’t noticed her approach. On the other hand, Nicole was very good at moving by stealth.

“I-I-I’m not sure,” he stammered.

“Want to talk about it?” Nicole asked, taking the seat across from him.

“Will you promise me something?” Ricer asked.

“Of course,” Nicole replied.

“Should something happen to me. . . ,” Ricer paused, looking over at Lucy sound asleep on the couch, “promise me you will take care of her.”

“Sure, Doc, but nothing’s going to happen to you. I promise,” Nicole assured him. “I won’t allow it.”

“I know. I know. I’m just being foolish,” he smiled.

“Why don’t you tell me what’s on your mind?” Nicole suggested.

His brow furrowed, Ricer laced his fingers and brought them up to his lips.

“It’s just that something about that last mission is bothering me.”

“Do you think we missed something?” Nicole asked.

Before Ricer could answer, Michael entered the car with his bag slung over his shoulder.

“The train’s coming to a stop. It’s time.”

Ricer nodded and started to rise from his seat.

Nicole grabbed his arm, stopping him, and leaned in.

“We need to come back to this,” she insisted.

Ricer patted her arm and said,

“Just keep your promise.”

She released his arm and waited while he woke Lucy. Then she stood up and stepped behind him as they followed Michael off the train and into the station.

Heading for the train station door, Lucy yawned and rubbed her eyes, holding tightly to her grandfather’s hand. Once they reached the door, Ricer stopped and turned around. He saw Elliot watching from the train, a deep sadness in his eyes.

Nicole looked first at Ricer then Elliot.

“Would somebody tell me what’s going on?” she asked in exasperation.

“I don’t know. Just remember your promise,” Ricer said then stepped through the station doors.

“Ripples: The Wolf”

New York

July 1970

The train station door opened onto a busy New York City street. The rumble of the subway and blare of horns as cars rushed by made Michael feel alive, electrified. When Dr. Ricer and Lucy followed Michael, Ricer looked back and saw that they had come through the door of a brownstone apartment building. Nicole stepped out of the door and paused, letting the breeze lift her soft blonde hair.

“So what brings us here, Doc?” Michael asked.

Ricer looked up at the sky for a moment, watching the clouds drift across the pale blue. Then he turned to Michael and said,

“In the next week, five women will be killed. Then two days after that, Officer Ronald Gibson will be discovered in his apartment, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. When the cops break in, they’ll find evidence scattered all over his place, evidence that links him to the five murders.”

“So I’m going to say he’s innocent, and our job is to find the real murderer. Right?” Michael asked.

Ricer nodded.

“No problem,” Michael said.

Suddenly a scream came from down the street. When they turned, they saw a woman at a bus stop struggling to hold onto her purse as a man tried to tear it out of her hands. Finally, he ripped the purse free and started running down the street.

“He stole my purse!” she wailed.

Instantly, Michael gave chase to the thief. As he ran, he remembered his father’s teaching.

How to chase down someone:

Step 1: Determine if the person is armed.

When someone trying to escape is in possession of a gun, it is not unusual for them to fire back in an attempt to stop or slow the person in pursuit. Exercise extreme caution.

Step 2: Keep them in sight.

The main idea behind chasing a person is to wear them down. Keeping them in sight is key. The person will run as long as they think they are a target. Keeping the person in sight forces them to keep running and hopefully wear them down.

Step 3: Try to predict where the runner will go.

Successfully predicting which way a runner will turn allows you to take shortcuts or cut corners to get ahead of the runner.

Step 4: Tackle or corner the runner.

If you can maneuver the runner into a dead-end alley or some other contained space where they can’t escape without doubling back, you will be able to confront the target. Be warned! A cornered target is scared and may lash out violently.

Running as fast as he could, Michael kept his eyes on the thief. When the man headed towards a crowd, in hopes of blending in, Michael yelled out,

“Stop that thief!”

Not wanting to get involved, the bystanders turned and quickly moved out of the way, all except for one young man. At the last minute, he sidestepped, tripping the thief and sending him to the pavement. When Michael caught up, he struggled with the thief, grabbing him and knocking his head against the sidewalk until he released his hold on the woman’s purse.

Hurrying up to Michael, the woman said, “Thank you so much! I don’t know what I would have done. All my grocery money is in my purse!”

Returning the purse, Michael pointed to the man who had tripped the thief.

“Thank him,” he said.

The woman smiled at the young man and patted his arm. “Thank you, son.”

As the woman walked back to the bus stop, Michael said,

“That was very brave.”

“Oh I didn’t do anything. You chased the guy. I don’t think I could have done that. I was so scared my hands were shaking. Look,” he said, holding his hands out.

When he saw that his hands were steady, he laughed,

“Well it felt like they were shaking.”

“My name’s Michael, by the way,” Michael said, extending a hand.

The young man looked at Michael for a moment then took his hand.

“Lincoln. It’s a pleasure.”

“Michael,” Lucy called out.

Michael looked around and saw Nicole, Ricer and Lucy headed toward him, but when he turned back to the young man, he had disappeared.

As he explained what had happened, he noticed that Ricer wore a strange look.

“What is it, Doc?” he asked.

“Everything has changed,” Ricer said.

“I assume not for the better. Otherwise, we’d be leaving,” Michael sighed.

“No,” Ricer said, shaking his head as he looked down at the pavement. “Not good. Not good at all.”

“Okay. Give it to me straight, Doc. I can take it,” Michael wisecracked.

Ricer looked up at Michael and took a deep breath before saying,

“Now, instead of five women dying, it’s five men, and the killer is. . . you.”

Published in: on November 19, 2016 at 9:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Train: Episode 65

Nicole inwardly cursed herself for letting her guard down. She had known Lindsey was up here somewhere, but when she’d seen the boy, she’d lost her focus. As though oblivious to Lindsey’s weapon, Kenneth went back to coloring his picture.

Nicole worried that the boy was eerily calm, withdrawn from what was happening.

She heard Lindsey saying something, barking at her.

“I don’t know why you and your friend keep getting in my business, but it’s time to end this. Forget the ‘do as I say if you want to live’ crap. First I take care of you then the boy and his mother.”

“You’d kill an innocent child?” Nicole asked, trying to stall.

“You spend enough time in this town, you learn that nobody’s innocent. We’re all out for number one, and we don’t mind stepping into the darkness to get it,” Lindsey responded.

“You may believe that, but you can’t hurt him. He’s just a child,” Nicole pleaded.

“Your point?” Lindsey asked, stepping forward and closing the space between them.

As he pressed the gun into her back, Nicole knew this was the moment she had been waiting for. In a heartbeat, she turned and twisted the weapon out of Lindsey’s hand and tossed it aside. Then she jerked his arm around backward and threw him against the wall, striking his head.

“You will not harm this child,” she commanded, fire in her eyes.

Dazed from the impact, Lindsey hit the floor and was still for a moment. As he slowly recovered himself, his eyes began to dart back and forth like a cornered animal. Nicole’s instincts told her to move before Lindsey got up, but she stood in place, keeping herself between Lindsey and Kenneth.

Struggling, Lindsey got to his feet and jammed his hand into his jacket, pulling out a pocket pistol, probably his backup piece.

Nicole dashed toward him but he was too fast. He rolled over and shot.

The shot went wide missing Nicole and giving her time to move before the second shot. Grabbing Kenneth from the dining room chair, she fled from the room.

* * *

Two bullet holes in the seat later, and Michael had the boss’ name.

“Mr. Charles Clark, eh? So you’re the big cheese. And Lindsey’s bookie. Well well.”

“So let’s be certain everyone’s on the same page,” Michael said. “(A) you will. . .”

“Leave Cynthia Cooper alone,” Clark finished.

“and (B) Lindsey will. . .,” Michael replied.

“Give himself up and tell the complete truth about what happened that night.”

“Good boy!” Michael cheered.

Just then a gunshot went off in the building.

“Uh oh. That better not have been the last number for Ms. Cooper or I’ll send you to meet Armstrong,” Michael warned.

After listening for a few moments, Michael said,

“Open the door. Let’s go see what’s going on up there.”

* * *

Lindsey slowly walked through the apartment searching for the blonde and the boy. They were in here somewhere.

“Yoo hoo,” he called.

He was far too invested now not to finish this properly. Anything less would be the end of him.

“Look, lady, it’s nothing personal,” he said. “You two were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Suddenly a noise in the bedroom drew his attention. He crept toward the sound, and when he slowly opened the door, he saw two lumps under the covers.

“An old trick,” he thought but decided to be sure.

He stepped slowly up to the bed then reached out and jerked back the covers to find stacked pillows.

“Just as I thought,” he swore to himself.

“I am going to find you,” he called out. “There’s no running from me. Why not just come out and get this over with?”

Lindsey moved back out into the kitchen and checked the bathroom. Empty.

“Where are you?” he asked. “I’m losing my patience.”

When a cough sounded from the hallway, Lindsey smiled.

“Gotcha,” he sneered.

With no hesitation, he leapt into the hall and fired twice down the center.

His jaw dropped in horror when he saw Charles Clark standing in the hallway, blood trickling from two bullet holes in his chest.

“What?” Lindsey asked surprised.

“Peekaboo!” Michael said from behind Clark’s body as two blasts from a shotgun rang out. Lindsey felt the shots slam into his chest just before he dropped to the floor.

* * *

“Well that didn’t even come close to what I expected,” Michael said.

“At least everyone is alive and well,” Nicole pointed out.

Nicole reached for Kenneth and took his hand as they escorted him back to his apartment where his mother was waiting. When she saw them she screamed in fright. Once she calmed down, she asked,

“What are you doing here?”

Just bringing back your son. Apparently Officer Lindsey came here to kill both of you,” Michael said.

“You should call the police,” Nicole added.

Cynthia Cooper stood still with her hands over her mouth as Michael bent down to look Kenneth in the eyes.

“Never give up hope, Kenneth. When things are their darkest, that’s usually when help shows up.”

Just then he heard the train whistle.

Standing up, he reached out and ruffled Kenneth’s hair.

“We need to go, but you’ll be fine now.”

Michael and Nicole walked to the front door of the apartment, closed it, and then opened it again.

Kenneth’s eyes grew wide as he saw that on the other side of the door was a train station. When Michael and Nicole stepped through the door and closed it behind them, Kenneth ran to it and pulled it open only to find the same old hallway.

* * *

“They did it!” Dr. Ricer exclaimed.

Grabbing Lucy’s hand, he ran for the nearest door.

As they escaped to the train station on the other side, Elliot shook his head.

Just before he disappeared, he sighed, “I wish it were that simple.”

Published in: on October 16, 2016 at 10:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Train: Episode 64

The average human mind can process 5,000 pictures in the five seconds it takes to inhale. For someone with Michael’s training and skill, five seconds was a long time. While the three men circled around the car to confront Michael, their boss stayed in the back seat watching what he figured would be a quick fight. Michael’s mind moved with lightning speed as within seconds he recalled years of training.

How to defend against multiple attackers:

Step 1: Focus on the leader.

Packs are led by an alpha. Take out the alpha and most of the pack will retreat.

This wasn’t an option for Michael since the leader was staying out of this fight.

Step 2: Know your surroundings.

The best way to lose a fight is to rush in blindly. Take note of obstacles, blind alleys. At all times, keep an eye on the position of your subjects as well as weapons or objects that might be used to protect you.

The driver of the car swung out at Michael with a sluggish obvious outside punch. Michael easily ducked the punch, struck the man in the gut then came up with an uppercut that knocked him backwards.

Step 3: Keep moving and stay on the offensive.

Remaining in one place allows your opponent to regroup, plan and eventually surround

you. Constant or aggressive movement will keep your opponent off balance, forcing him to make rash decisions.

Michael moved quickly onto the next man coming around from behind the car, his pistol raised. Michael stepped in, punched the man in the nose, causing his eyes to water, then twisted the gun from his hand and struck him across the jaw with the butt.

Step 4: Plan each impact to do the most damage.

Most fights are not about honor but about destruction or protection. Never flail

wildly. Be certain your opponent feels every strike, and fight dirty if you have to. If your opponent doesn’t fight with honor, you shouldn’t either.

With two men down, Michael took a couple of steps toward the last guy as he passed across the front of the sedan. The first step put his right foot on the running board. A second step, and his left foot was on the driver’s side fender. Before the thug could raise his pistol, Michael brought his fist down hard and struck him across the temple, knocking him unconscious to the pavement.

With the three men out of the fight, Michael collected all their weapons, tucked one inside his coat, and climbed into the back seat of the sedan with the boss.

“What do you want?” the little man sneered.

“Just a talk,” Michael said.

“Not interested,” the man spat.

“All right then I’ll talk and you listen. I want a promise from you that you’ll leave Cynthia Cooper alone, at least for the foreseeable future,” Michael said.

When the man started to speak, Michael raised a hand saying,

“Before you turn me down, let’s be clear on one thing. It would be easy to kill you right now. But since I’d rather not do that, how about we play a little game. I call it the “Do what I say or I’ll shoot off parts of your body till you do” game.”

The little man’s face showed a mixture of fear, surprise, and anger.

“Won’t this be fun?” Michael said with a grin.

* * *

Nicole crept through the narrow dark hallways of Cynthia Cooper’s apartment house. She could hear the rhythm of the rain beating against the windowpanes. The wooden floors creaked under her feet, and the air was filled with the sound of crying babies and television sets on high volume. A door opened a crack and a small child peered out. The hopeless expression on the small face stirred Nicole’s heart. When the child caught sight of Nicole, she quickly shut the door.

Once Nicole reached the stairwell, she pulled the door open and was hit with the stench of ripe garbage and moldy drywall. As she climbed the stairs, she couldn’t get the child out of her mind. From the moment she had seen Lucy, she knew she had a weakness for children. It was always her fear that one day a child would be her downfall. At one time, she had had a little sister whom she loved with her whole heart. They spent hours together reading books and imagining. But all that ended when she lost her to the first man she killed. After that, killing was easy for her. Stalking her prey became second nature. But she always kept a special place in her heart for children.

Reaching Cynthia Cooper’s floor, Nicole turned the corner and saw a young boy standing at the far end of the hall. A single lightbulb flickered overhead. She watched the small boy for a moment before stepping forward.

“Hello,” she quietly called.

The child gave no response.

“Kenneth?” she said.

At the sound of his name, the child took a step backwards, disappearing into the apartment.

Wait,” Nicole called.

Nicole hurried down the hall after the boy, worried he would fall into the hands of Morgan Lindsey. When she reached the door, she stepped into the apartment.

“Kenneth?” she called.

Cautiously she entered the kitchen but found it empty. Just to the left was what looked like the dining room. Nicole saw Kenneth seated at the table busy with crayons and paper as he worked on his picture.

“What are you drawing there, Kenneth?” Nicole asked. “Where’s your mother?”

“Mother is busy preparing for a visitor,” Kenneth said woodenly.

“A visitor?” Nicole asked.

“Mother has lots of visitors over when she isn’t at the club,” he said without looking up.

Nicole was beginning to form an image of the woman they had been trying to save.

“I wait on the fire escape when she has someone over, but it’s raining, so she put me out in the hall. The McPherson’s are out of town till Monday, so I used the key they gave me to sleep here tonight,” he explained.

“So this is the McPherson’s apartment,” Nicole said, moving closer to the child.

“Are you safe here?” she asked.

Kenneth nodded then looked up from his picture.

“Hi, Officer Lindsey.”

Nicole spun around to see Lindsey standing in the doorway pointing a gun at her.

“I don’t know who you are or why you’re here, but I’m running out of options. If you want to live, you’ll do exactly what I say.”

Published in: on September 18, 2016 at 1:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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