Sunday, July 8, 2018
****Another note from the author: Sorry gang, I know I said this would be the final installment, but the story is just too big. Next time will bring about the end of this saga from Nathan's long life, with a possible epilogue installment from Nathan's point of view. In the meantime, enjoy.****
“You four okay?” my boss asked as he helped us to our feet.
I was glad to see he'd finally climbed out of the pond and had not been seriously injured, but the same couldn't be said for his equipment.
“My radio didn't like taking a dip,” he told me gesturing at his shoulder, “But I saw which direction he was headed in. So I need to you get a hold of the patrol cars on the south side of the park. Tell them to intercept if possible and to use force if necessary. I don't know what he's on but that guy is more dangerous than we ever suspected.”
As I did so, Nadine suddenly grabbed my arm and snapped, “Cancel the last part of that order. Tell them to pursue but not engage!” Then she quickly turned to my boss and added, “He's got another girl stashed away somewhere. No doubt that's where he's headed. If he we follow he'll lead us right to her, and right now with him all pumped up we're her only hope.”
I could see my boss' expression was about to turn ugly when a greenish mist snaked its way from behind his neck and into his nostrils. In the blink of an eye, he face softened and he nodded. “You heard the lady, Rhodes. Give the order.”
Obediently I relayed the message, then checked on the two deputies who'd been thrown at me and Nadine. Aside from being bruised and a little shaken, both were ready to rejoin the pursuit. Just then my radio came to life as two of the patrol cars had caught a glimpse of a figure in fatigues racing down Maple Street and had started to follow.
“We've got him in our sights,” one of the driver's reported, “But damn the guy is fast. Every time we start to close in he pours it on and starts pulling away and... HOLY SHIT, he just vaulted over the ten foot fence around the high school basketball courts.”
“That's seven blocks from here...,” Sheriff Parkes began then stopped. “Wait...Jenkins repeat what you just said about the fence!”
“They guy just jumped over it like runner in the middle of a hurdle race,” came the incredulous reply. “What the hell is he on, Crystal Meth/steroid combo or something?”
I stole a quick glance at Nadine who was now standing unusually silent with her arms clutching each other across her chest. She seemed to be breathing rather heavily, as if she herself was there in the middle of the chase. Then it hit me. She was still in touch with the Sangui-Sapio! That was how she knew about the other girl the guy was already holding. And now she was trying to see inside the Cannibal's head and figure out where he was holding her.
Just then the other patrol car called in saying, “This is Unit 3 we've just finished circling around to the front of the school. But there's no sight of our perp.”
“He's either hiding somewhere inside the building, or he he's laying low somewhere on the grounds,” my boss surmised, then snapped, “Rhodes, Collins, you're with me.
“Boiler Room,” muttered Nadine suddenly as her eyes snapped open.
All eyes turned towards her.
“What was that, Collins?”
“He's got her hidden away in the boiler room,” she replied darkly.
One of my brothers in brown began to protest. “There's no way he could keep a girl hidden down there, that's where the janitors hang out. I should know, a bunch of us used to visit with them in between classes.”
“You're thinking the senior high school,” Parkes pointed out, “What about the old junior high building on the far side of the campus? It was closed down about seven years ago due to structural issues and was fenced off from the rest of the grounds to keep the kids out, while they decided whether or not to salvage the place.”
“I remember seeing something about that. They decided last year to tear it down and a construction company put up a portable office so they could have someone there at all times to keep an eye on the equipment they were moving in and...” suddenly I stopped myself. If our boy was part of the advanced crew who was getting things ready for the demolition project he'd have had time to explore every part of the building including the old boiler room down in the basement.
Sheriff Parkes seemed to be thinking the same thing, as he turned to one of the deputies, “Have the patrol cars surround the construction zone and begin casing the area. He may not have gotten inside yet. Tell them to enter the building only if they spot him going in. Otherwise they're to wait for my arrival. You two with me.” This was directed at our assistance. Then turning to me he baredk, “Rhodes, you get Collins seen to at the hospital. Her back and shoulder aren't looking too good.”
I began to protest, but Nadine stopped me with a glance.
“I'll get her checked out,” I told him.
Nodding he took off with the other two deputies.
“Now what?” I hissed in case they were in earshot.
“You're getting on my back and directing me to that school,” she replied and hunched down.
Obediently, I did as she instructed and in a flash the scenery around us turned into a blur, only occasionally snapping back into focus as Nadine waited for where to turn next. In the distance I could hear my boss' siren blaring telling me we were still way ahead. After one last blur, the abandoned junior high building stood before us.
We'd approached from the back, so the patrol cars already on site had no hint of our presence. “I really should alert them...” I began.
“And possibly give our position away to the Cannibal?” Nadine cut in abruptly. “He's not here yet, but he is close.”
I frowned. “He had a huge head start, especially with the speed he was moving at.”
“Yeah, but now he and the part he stole from me he are having a disagreement,” she replied looking around.
“How do you mean?” I asked, eyeing her shoulder again. In spite of having finally closed up, it looked like it might re-open at any time, and I began to worry about the one in her back as well.
Nadine didn't answer right away. Instead she closed her eyes for a moment before answering. “The Sangui-Sapio is all about preserving life and our friend the Cannibal...”
“Is all about torturing and killing,” I finished, as my mind flashed back to a moment in the park. “So when you were saying all that stuff about being frightened you were talking to the Sangui-Sapio, trying to coax it out of him.”
She nodded. “It's found itself trapped inside a mind that's full of rage and a desire to end life. And it's realized that it cannot get him to change. It wants to reject him, but because of all the repair work it's done on his body, he was too quick and got away. It needs me to be nearby so it has somewhere to go. Otherwise, it won't survive for very long on its own. That's what happened when it found me all those years ago. It had just been driven out of another host and was desperately trying to find a life form to merge with.”
This time she cut me off by asking, “How well do you know the layout of this building?”
“Like the back of my hand, I spent three years in this place,” I replied, studying the structure. “And as you already surmised the boiler room is in the basement, just below the gym.”
Nodding we headed towards the nearest broken window and carefully climbed inside.
As my eyes adjusted to the gloom I could make out the rows of empty desks all facing a big desk at the front of the room. There were old posters and even a few old homework assignments still attached to the bulletin boards that were parked next to the blackboards. I could barely make out an old faded chalk message on one of the blackboards that simply read “Goodbye”. Apparently, during the time the school board was deciding whether or not to save the old place, they'd never bothered having anyone clean out the rooms. There were even stacks of old textbooks piled up in a corner.
If it was like this on the main floor, God only knew what the basement level must be like. I'd gone down there once looking for the janitor and had gotten lost. There had been so many doors and hallways leading to all kinds of storage rooms along with the heat, electrical, and water systems down there. There was no telling where the Cannibal might have stashed his latest victim.
“Hey, wait a minute,” I whispered as we reached the door that led out of the classroom. “You said earlier that the Cannibal already has a girl captive down in the boiler room. Why did he try to grab another girl tonight if he already has one still alive?”
Nadine didn't look at me as she answered, “The last couple he killed weren't quite as 'satisfying' as the earlier ones. So he decided to increase the level of excitement. The more terrified they are the more fun it is for him. And what's more terrifying than seeing what someone has in store for you, by watching it happen to another?”
Quietly I reloaded my gun. The nightmare had to end, tonight.
Sunday, June 17, 2018
*Authors' Note: Sorry for the delay between posts. We work for the county and are currently winding down the fiscal year which runs from July 2017-June 2018, so we've been run off our feet. But things will be calming down in another few weeks so please bear with us. In the meantime, here is a lengthy entry to help make up for the lack of posts. We hope to get back on our more regular posting schedule before July is out. Thank you for you patience - Allan and Helen Krummenacker
“Nadine!” I screamed and rushed to her side, while my boss and our back up started moving slowly towards our suspect. The Cannibal Killer was still on the ground having spasms, and seemed to be completely unaware of our presence.
I carefully rolled Nadine on her side and studied the knife handle which was all I could see. The bastard and really rammed it in deep. Luckily, I knew from past experiences that it would take more than a knife in the back to stop Nadine. Even if the guy had struck where her heart should be it would've failed, because her body would've moved the vital organ or created another to keep her going. For all the similarities between her and the vampires of legend, she was something more.
Still something wasn't right. Even though her eyes were open and staring right at me, she didn't speak. And the look on her face... what was happening?
That's when I noticed her bare shoulder and nearly threw up. It took me a moment to get myself under control. I've seen a lot of injuries in my line of work, including what our perp had done to his other victims... but none of them had still been alive at the time. The bastard had literally taken a bite out of her.
But the thing that was getting me was the fact that the wound was... doing things. The ragged edges of the wound kept moving, as if they knew they should be reaching across to their counterparts to seal the injury but couldn't. Instead, they simply kept waving about likes streamers attached to a fan... only bloodier.
I was almost grateful when I heard the sounds of a struggle breaking out behind me... almost. Before I could turn, one of my fellow deputies landed hard beside me and Nadine and rolled.
Whirling I saw I saw our perp was back on his feet tossing both my boss and another deputy aside as if they were a couple of five year olds. Then instead of fleeing the scene, the guy just stood there... laughing.
“Oh... Joanie,” he called and turned in my direction, only his eyes were fixed on the prone form of Nadine in my arms. “I'm not finished with you, not by a long shot!”
Before he could take a single step I raised my gun and fired.
I saw the pocket covering his heart explode as the bullet hit. The impact knocked him back yet he managed to keep standing. For a moment he stared at the hole in his jacket dumbly, as the cloth slowly turned dark then stopped. Then to his shock, and mine, the stain slowly began to shrink.
Immediately the true horror of our situation hit. The guy had eaten and swallowed of not only a piece of Nadine but the Sangui-Sapio life form from that Para-Earth she'd landed up in back in 1862. And just as it had changed Nadine from a simple human into a pseudo-vampire in order to save her life, it was now doing the same to the maniac standing a few yards away from me. But the change was only beginning.
Our psycho staggered and fell to his knees. His eyes were glassy-looking and he seemed confused.
This was our chance! I started to get to my feet when Sheriff Parkes waived me off as he and three more officers, who had materialized out of the darkness, descended on the Cannibal. They were able to grab his arms and cuff them behind his back without the slightest bit of effort. In fact, they well into the process of removing other weapons he had secreted about his person before he seemed to realize what was happening.
Then he laughed.
Something about that sound made all of us back up and draw our weapons. “On the ground! Or you will be shot!” my boss warned.
For a second no one spoke or moved.
Then the killer began to murmur and giggle, “Now I get it... you were right, Joanie. I wasn't man enough for you before. How could I be... you had a secret but wouldn't share it with me. But now I know it...”
“I said don't move!” my boss repeated cocking his weapon.
But the Cannibal didn't listen, instead he turned towards where Nadine lay and whispered almost sweetly, “...Because I taken from you. But it's not enough, I want it ALL!”
In flash he was on his feet, snapping the handcuffs behind his back in the process.But we were faster and opened fire.
At point blank range, every one of our shots struck home and I watched as the Cannibal jerked with each impact. But he never went down. Instead, he lashed out with superhuman strength and speed. His first blow sent Sheriff Parkes sailing over Nadine and into the pond beyond her, while another sent our backup rolling a good twenty yards in opposite directions.
Instinctively, I started to turn towards the pond, but my superior was already getting back to his feet, bellowing, “Stay where you are, protect Collins!”
He was right. At this point I was the only one left to keep the super-powered Cannibal from reaching his target.
Weapon raised, I wracked my brain for ideas as our perp started towards me. Bullets weren't going to stop this guy, but maybe one in each of his eyes would at least buy us time to regroup...
Suddenly, Nadine appeared between us. Arms outstretched she stood protectively in front of me.
I could see her shoulder was finally healing, but it was doing so slowly, as was the spot in her back where the knife had been. Her entire frame trembled for a moment and I feared she might collapse, but she held her ground and spoke.
“You're scared... confused. This isn't what you expected,” she said gently.
The Cannibal Killer chuckled, “No I'm not, Joanie. I'm seeing things clearer than ever before. This is how come you never stayed dead. You kept coming back over and over again, taunting me, laughing at me. But now I know how you did it. And now you can't stop me. No one can! I'm like you... only better.”
Now he started moving towards us, yet Nadine didn't move. Instead she gently reached out a hand and said gently, “We both know what you really want.”
That made him stop as he stared at her stupidly at her for a moment.
Behind him, the two deputies he'd thrown were getting to their feet and regrouping so silently, if I hadn't seen them I'd have never known. Still I kept a poker face, so as not to give anything away.
Yet, without looking away from us the Cannibal Killer pointed at them saying, “And don't expect them to stop me Joanie... because they're going to be the warm up act. Once I'm done with them and the one behind you, I'm going to start on you and not stop...”
“You're in pain,” Nadine cut in, “Don't let it hold you back, let go.”
“YOU'RE GOING TO BE THE ONE IN PAIN JOA... UNGH!” Suddenly, the killer froze and began to jerk uncontrollably like a marionette whose strings had gotten tangled.
“I wasn't talking to you,” Nadine smiled and took a step toward him.
The look in the Cannibal's eyes changed from hungry rage to horror as she drew closer.
Just then the other two deputies rushed forward and tried to tackle him from behind. At the last second the killer spun, grabbed each of them and threw the pair directly at us.
Unfortunately, Nadine was not fully recovered. In spite of her attempt to catch my fellow deputies, their combined mass and speed knocked her back into me and the four of us went down in a sprawl. By the time any of us were able to get up, the Cannibal was already gone.
TO BE CONCLUDED....
Sunday, April 29, 2018
****NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: A quick reminder that this story is darker and more graphic than most previous entries as it deals with violence against women, as well as a very deranged mind. There will be fewer images in this entry than usual as I do not wish to cause 'triggers' in readers. If you feel just reading about violence will trouble you, I recommend possibly taking a pass on this one. The story will hopefully be concluded in two more installments - Thank you.****
I’ve seen inside peoples minds before, especially when I take a blood “donation” straight from them. And if I’m putting some of myself into them, I see it ALL. Which is why I usually prefer my intake to be from bags, or in a rare case a transfusion. Still, it’s not always a bad thing to get a donation directly from someone close. I get to know them more intimately in ways others don’t. And considering my long existence I can keep their memories alive and share those treasures with the donor’s descendants for many years to come, so they are never forgotten.
However, there have been occasions where I’ve been inside the minds of certain people and am forced to carry their memories with me, because I cannot forget… anything! Oh, I may have a hard time recalling the information at will, but it’s all there, hidden behind doors and piles of other recollections. And try as I might, I can only bury those darker items so deep.
I only pray I can bury the things I saw tonight so deep that they will never plague my slumbering moments…
As I said, I normally I only see inside another person’s mind when I take from them, but tonight I learned it could happen when someone took from ME!
Thanks to the mist I’d released earlier I knew the assault was taking place near the pond in the center of the park which meant I had to move fast. Normally I don’t show off my inhuman speed, but I figured I’d be able to alter the Sheriff’s memory afterwards. As the scenery blurred past me, I sent the mist I’d released into the park earlier into the killer’s nostrils hoping to gain some control over him after he breathed me in, which he did. But it didn’t work. The guy was so on an adrenaline rush from the excitement of having captured another victim, that nothing I did was even slowing him down.
But I could see through his eyes and saw he was straddling the girl, one hand clamped firmly over her mouth while the other held a wicked looking military blade. A second later, I burst onto the scene.
Sure enough he was on top of her and was in the process of slicing open her blouse to expose her chest.
Without slowing I allowed my arm to stretch a couple of feet longer than normal in order to grab his hand with the knife and pull it away from the girl. Unfortunately, this gave him time to look up and see me coming just before the rest of me slammed into his solid six foot frame. The creep actually started to smile until our bodies collided. He certainly had not expected someone so much smaller than himself to have enough force to knock him off the girl, much less send him sprawling several feet. By the same token, I never expected him to grab my “overly-extended” arm with the hand he had clamped over the girl's mouth to pull me with him.
The two of us rolled across the ground each struggling for the advantage. Normally, my inhuman strength should have given me the advantage, but the guy knew what he was doing. I quickly realized Michael was right about the killer having had military training. I got a close-up look at the blade as we struggled and recognized it as an LMF II ASEK, with a foliage colored handle to match his camouflage make-up and attire. But it was his fighting style that really told the story and was giving me a tough time of it. At first I couldn't get any decent leverage to pin him, but then I realized I was fighting like a normal person and not using my full talents.
At last I let him pin me, as I did so the smell of tree sap and fresh leaves reached my nostrils. So that's how he'd gotten past the patrols. He'd hidden himself up in one of the trees during the daytime, probably when the park was busy, and had stayed there. No doubt he'd put on his camouflage make-up and changed his shirt, while waiting for night to come. Then he'd just waited for the right moment and...
“Am I man enough for you now... Joanie,” he panted excitedly.
'Joanie?' I thought briefly before he head-butted me, which hurt! Yes, I can feel pain just like anyone else, but I can take more abuse than most. But it still hurt and I saw stars briefly. In that moment I realized MY suspicion, that our friend was someone who had either killed or wanted to kill a certain type of woman over and over again, had been right. Not that I felt like patting myself on the back at that point. Especially when he started wriggling on top of me and I could FEEL how excited he was (shudder). Now I could really appreciate the things Penny had told me in private on more than one occasion. How many women had known terror as they suffered at his hands?
His head rocked back, to deliver another blow to my skull but I was quicker. My left leg shrank while a fist shot up from between my cleavage connecting with his chin on its way down. I felt the impact throughout my chest as Mr. Psycho's eyes rolled up into his head. For a moment I thought for sure he'd knocked himself out, but his grip on my regular hands barely loosened. Once more I unleashed a third fist, this time into his rather abdomen and I felt the air rush out of his mouth and into my face. Someone seriously needed a breath mint. This time, I was the one to deliver the head-but which seemingly ended our fight. Mr. Norman-Bates-wannabe, fell off of me and lay still.
Immediately, I got up and turned to his original target who was crouched nearby, holding up a large rock. Apparently, she had been hoping for an opening to clock the bastard while he was dealing with me. I gave her a reassuring smile as I studied her. Sure enough, she was blonde, about my current size and shape, and dressed like someone who full of self-confidence. Though at the moment she was looking more vulnerable and shaken, as she stared at me with eyes full of amazement.
“Easy, you and I are okay...” I started to tell her, then I saw her eyes widen in pure horror.
“BEHIND YOU!” she screamed, just as I felt the blade of the knife rip through my back and out my middle.
I remember cursing myself for making such a rookie mistake. The guy was ex-military, of course he'd play 'possum' to get me to turn my back on him. Still, I'm not normal, and it would take more than a knife in the back to finish me off. Unfortunately, before I could swallow the pain to retaliate, that's when he sank his teeth and took a bite OUT of my shoulder and I got a look inside a world of madness!
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
For a moment I didn't know what to do. I was certain Nadine could take care of herself, but then I realized her 'attacker' was wearing the same uniform I went to work in.
Rushing forward I explained in a hushed voice, “Hold up, she's with me!”
“Rhodes?” the officer turned and I saw it was my boss, Sheriff Jim Parkes, looking none-to-pleased. “What the hell...”
“Not so loud, we don't want to give away our position,” I hissed and gestured that the three of us move out of the park.
Nodding, he let Nadine go, but gestured that she was to lead the way.
Once we were a safe distance Parkes growled, “Okay, this should be far enough. Now what the hell are you playin' at? And you'd better not tell me you were going to try another decoy routine.”
“Would you believe...” Nadine began, but I cut her off.
“Actually we were, Chief. This Detective Nadine Collins from Maine. She and her people dealt with a similar set of murders but never caught the killer. She thinks our boy may be the same guy...”
“And you came to try and help us catch him,” my boss finished with a nod. “You know there are procedures to be followed like introducing yourself at the station.”
“You were already gone and Deputy Rhodes thought we might find you here,” Nadine supplied smoothly, while I gave him a rather believable account of what had supposedly happened up in Maine. As I spoke I noticed a faint greenish haze slowly building around us at ground level. I had an idea what that Nadine planned on letting my boss breathe her in so she could influence him, but I gave her the faintest head shake. You don't work with a man for years without getting to know his mannerisms and way of thinking. And I could already tell he was buying my story because he trusted me. Hell the man had recruited me himself as soon as I had come back from the army He didn't even bother to ask to see her credentials, instead he gave us the full rundown on the situation.
He'd managed to pull in some extra help from the state. Several troopers were hidden throughout the park, while others were quietly patrolling the streets in unmarked vehicles. If our perp struck, we were going to run him to ground tonight.
As we spoke I noticed the mist Nadine had created earlier was drifting off towards the park entrance and spread out until no trace of it could be seen. 'Trying to do some recon, good plan,' I thought to myself as Parkes continued to fill us in on the situation.
Once he'd finished, Nadine and I shared what we had figured out about our Killer's targets. Like me at first he seemed unimpressed until we got to the part about the women having an air of confidence which impressed him as much as it had me.
“That would explain why he's so violent with them,” he breathed after a moment. “Probably trying to kill the same woman over and over in his mind, but what about the cannibalism?”
“We're dealing with a sick mind, Chief,” I shook my head, “There could a be dozen demented reasons why he's eating them... sort a souvenir? A way of keeping them close to him? I don't know...”?
At this point we both turned to my companion saying, “You got any...” and then stopped. She had started moving back towards the park, following the same path her mist had taken moments before. “Detective Collins? What is it?” Parkes shouted as the two of us started towards her.
But just as we were about to reach her, she shouted over her shoulder, “He's here! And so is someone else... a girl!” A second later, she was gone. Normally, Nate... I mean Nadine wouldn't have let anyone see her inhuman speed in action, but a life was in danger and this was no time for being subtle.
Not that I had any reason to worry, Parkes was busy barking orders into his radio alerting the rest of the team of the situation. He'd barely gotten the order out when a scream erupted from the darkness. The killer had struck.
Without pausing we both raced into the park trying to figure out what direction the scream had come from when it erupted again, this time calling for help repeatedly. Following the sound we veered off the path and into the trees and bushes off to our left. The cries were getting louder when suddenly a young woman burst out of the darkness and into our arms, tears streaming down her dirt covered cheeks.
“He's near the lake and he's got her...” she blubbed, still shaking. “He jumped me and had me on the ground when she came out of nowhere and threw him off me... She'd just helped me up when he jumped her from behind and stabbed her in the back... she just stared at me and told me to run...”
As she spoke two of my fellow deputies appeared on the scene.
Grabbing his shoulder radio Parkes barked, “Suspect sited near lake attacking a female detective, all boots on the ground converge on that area and engage. Patrol cars are to surround the park and form a perimeter, pursue anyone seen fleeing from the area.” Then turning to the new arrivals he ordered, “Take her to safety and call for a medical assistance and more back up. Rhodes you're with me!”
Weapons drawn we raced towards the lake. I could hear the sounds of a struggle up ahead, which suddenly stopped, sending a chill down my spine. Had Nadine already finished the guy?
Still rushing forward we burst out of the trees and the sight that greeted us was more than a little unnerving. Both Nadine and the Cannibal Killer were on the ground, several feet from each other. The latter was rolling around clutching his head and like he was having convulsions. Whereas Nadine, was simply lying on the ground unmoving, eyes wide as if she were staring into the pits of Hell itself...
Sunday, March 25, 2018
For the record, I've always admired Uncle Nate but after tonight my respect for him has gone through the roof. When I got his e-mail last night telling me he was on the way to help deal with the monster who's been terrorizing our town, I was relieved. But when he showed up... no, wait. I need to take a few steps back. I've got to tell this story right.
Besides telling me he was on the way, the e-mail listed a time and place for us to meet tonight. It's an out of the way pub here in town called “Draughts“, which is where we normally get together. It's a nice little place run by a father and son who, like me, are part of Nate's extended family. Big Frank and Frank Jr. are good people and they know just about everyone here in town. They also know what you like to drink, so when I walked in a glass of my favorite brew appeared on the bar before I finished settling my ass down on the stool.
I started to pull out my wallet and Big Frank shook his head, “Nate's already got you covered tonight,” he told me with a knowing smile and wandered off to take care of some other patrons.
Glancing around the room I saw a number of familiar faces and a couple of others I didn't, like the pretty blonde down at the end of the bar. I knew she wasn't from around here, a face like that everyone would know and remember, but by the same token I could also tell she wasn't a 'working' girl either. For one thing she seemed absorbed in reading her Kindle, for another no one was hitting on her. A few of the guys I went to high school were looking her way and shaking their heads. Clearly they'd been shot down and were still trying to figure her out, but I had other things on my mind. Like where was Nate?
After about thirty minutes there was still no sign of Nate anywhere. So I pulled out my phone and dialed the number I had for him, but after four rings it went to voicemail. Looking over at Big Frank who was talking to the blonde at the end of the bar, I caught his eye and gestured to him. After sharing a laugh with the girl, he came over and asked, “Need a refill?”
Shaking my head I replied, “Nah, I'm good right now. You told me earlier Nate's covering my drinks, so that means you've seen him. Do you know where he is? He was supposed to meet me here I've been waiting and waiting, but there's no sign of him.”
“That's what you think,” he replied mysteriously.
For a moment I started to get annoyed and then I remembered, Nate can take many forms and might be keeping a low profile for reasons of his own. Immediately, I scanned the room again for anything unusual.
One or two people had left, and a young couple had appeared and were enjoying a quiet drink in one corner, but otherwise everything seemed the same. Then I started to take in the smaller details like was there any kind of hazy film in the air, or a “Red Mouse” (he loves to use those to spy on people or place), but there was nothing. Not even a black dog hanging around underneath the pool table, which he used one time which helped me and the team bust some drug dealers. But there was no joy in Mudville, once more it seemed I'd struck out.
Shaking my head, I turned back to talk to Frank only to find the pretty blonde from the end of the bar was now on the other side of the bar slipping the flash drive I'd brought for Nate into not a Kindle but a tablet.
I stared at her for a second and was about to protest when my eyes caught my reflection in the mirror of the bar behind her. I could see myself perfectly, but even though she was right in front of me there was no sign of blondie. Blinking I shook my head and muttered aloud, “Na...”
“-Dine,” he cut in without taking his/her eyes off the screen. In the mirror's reflection I could see he was flipping through the pages I'd scanned of the case at an incredible pace. It was like watching the character Quicksilver, from Marvel comics, going through a volume of “War and Peace”.
After my initial surprise passed I leaned in closer and hissed, “I know you're busy reading those files I scanned for you, but we might want to relocate to another area where there's not a mirror where everyone CANNOT see your reflection in!”
That got Nate. He/she... aw hell I'm going to call Nate her for the rest of this entry. It just makes things easier.
Nadine's eyes finally locked with mine and she muttered, “I thought we had that mirror replaced...” and quickly got out from behind the bar. We paused to retrieve her jacket and bag from the end of the bar. As we passed my old buddies shooting pool, I saw the looks of disbelief they were shooting me. I hung back briefly and leaned in to tell them, “Turns out she digs guys who wear uniforms.”
As they shook their heads I followed Nadine to a secluded booth in the corner. But as I did, I found myself checking 'her' out. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Now I'd known for years that my 'uncle' could change form, but what I was seeing before me was beyond words. The way her hair fell, how she walked, every little gesture... I could swear I was in the company of a real woman.
After we got settled in, she finished looking over the files and her face took on a troubled expression much like the ones I'd seen at work. “Now you know why I called you in,” I told her breaking the silence..
She nodded. “Yeah, this one's a real bastard.” Looking up at me she continued, “I think you're right about the military training. I don't know if he actually served or if the guy has been part of a para-military group, but he definitely knows what he's doing.”
“We've been thinking the same thing, much as everyone hates to admit it,” I told her. “The idea that someone we might know has been doing all this is just...”
“Sickening,” she finished, “I know. I've been down this road before. When I was a kid, before I 'changed' we had a psycho running loose back in Pointer. Turned out to be someone we all knew and thought the world of... but that's another story. From what I've seen in your files, this guy likes to abduct his victims and keep them alive for a few days before he's done with them. Tell me, is there anyone missing right now that you know of?”
“Not at the moment, which is why Terri tried acting as a decoy,” I explained. “We were hoping to lure him out. Our boss had people positioned all over the park, yet he still got to her and KNEW who she was!”
“Which is why he tried killing her right there on the spot instead of kidnapping her,” Nadine nodded. “And yet he still got past everyone... which makes me think he's a local. He must've known ways in and out of there to get away.”
“We're not that big a force,” I pointed out, “And things got chaotic when we saw how bad Terri had been hurt...” then stopped as she shook her head.
“Plus, someone was burning rubber leaving the area, which threw you all off.”
I nodded, “Turned out to be someone who'd heard her screams and instead of coming to help her, they took off while phoning it in. They had no idea we were already on the scene.”
My face must've betrayed something because Nadine reached over and gave my hand a reassuring squeeze. “We'll get this guy and put a stop to him once and for all, I promise.”
I smiled back at her. “I know you will.”
“WE will!” she corrected me and stood up. “Shall we get started? He's out there and I came all this way looking my best just for him.”
Standing up I followed her out of the bar and didn't say anything until we were outside and out of earshot. “Do you really think your 'disguise' is going to lure him out?”
“He has one type of girl he's been going after. Blonde, young, good-looking, and with a lot of self-confidence.”
I paused in mid-step. “Okay... we knew about the first three but what about that last part?”
Turning she replied, “A cheerleader, a local actress, two 'working' girls, all of them exude confidence and self-assurance. And so did your partner Terri.”
It suddenly dawned on me, “So you're thinking our boy has a thing against women who remind him of someone in particular. Who may be alive or already dead for all we know. And if she's dead, he might have even done it himself, but once wasn't enough.”
“Exactly,” Nadine agreed and gestured, “Now let's start with the park. He's struck there a few times including the other night. If nothing happens I'll spread myself out by mist or bat to see where else someone might be lurking. You keep your distance while I take the lead.”
“And how am I going to know if you find the bastard?”
She smiled and held up a closed hand. After a few seconds she opened it and there was a red mouse looking up at me expectantly. “Take him, he's our link.”
As I held out my hand, she transferred the critter into it and that's when I noticed she was missing a finger. Then I remembered, she couldn't make more of herself than there actually was. Her mass never changed when shape-shifting, so all she had a limited amount to work with.
She must've noticed the look on my face for a moment later a new finger grew.
As I put her little companion in my chest pocket, I gave her a questioning look.
“I took a little off the waist and thighs,” she told me.
Smiling I nodded and I let her lead the way. Of course I remembered to keep a good distance between us like she'd said. After all, we wanted our prey to come after her. And if he did, boy would he be in for a rude awakening. Nadine could handle herself and twenty of him even on a bad day. Still, we had to be careful. Even the best laid plans could go wrong.
She reached the park without incident which made me suspect if anything was going to happen, it would be in there. As it turned out I was right.
For she got no more than forty feet in before a figure leapt out of the shadows...