SMASHWORDS EDITION ***** PUBLISHED BY: Imagine Press Dark Visions Copyright © 2011 by Jonas Saul *****

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used ficticiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Other Books by Jonas Saul Suicide Notes and Other Stories Dark Visions Book 2: The Warning (Release date: March 2011) .

To my lovely wife and all that she does. .

She could hear vehicles crossing the bridge above her. It also showed Sarah the location of more hair . She lifted her wrist and checked the time. but she’d brought it. The sharp pain that crawled over her skin soothed her. calming her nerves. The snare was always set. Some of the remaining hair on her forearm stood. an expensive thought that cast a silky web around her. Next time she had to wait under a bridge for whatever was supposed to happen she would bring a pillow to sit on. Bring hammer. The grass on either side looked more comfortable. but the message had been specific. it was to follow it with absolute precision. The hammer sat beside her on the cement. Elizabeth Bridge. 10:18 Am. 10:17am. Sit directly in the middle. If there was anything Sarah knew. Her eyes closed. Within a minute something was going to happen. She had no idea why. she leaned back on the dirty cement. 10:15am. a moment of indecision. The piece of cement angled toward a small river at forty-five degrees. but would she be strong enough when the time came? Would she be able to save whomever it is she’s supposed to save? Sarah Roberts looked at her watch again. She reached back and found a few stray hairs above the nape of her neck. She massaged them until they were firmly in the grip of her fingers.Chapter 1 Life and death was the difference of a choice. gripping and pulling. This heightened state always made her hair rise in the anticipation of what was to come. Three minutes until the precognition came true. Then tugged them out. Bring hammer. under the St.

The water rushed by just below Sarah’s knees. Tires squealed again. Sarah hustled and reached the car in seconds. How come the precognition didn’t say anything about proper footwear for wading through water? Mom’s going to be pissed that I soaked my new shoes. She reached over and tried the back door. angled at a slight degree on the passenger side. It made her jump. A woman who looked to be in her twenties was trapped in the seat belt. She was inverted. Her pulse quickened. It was also stuck. A small line of blood was on her forehead. Cars cruised by above her. Her focus was on her breathing. her arms dangling toward the water that was slipping in where it could. The water made a soft curling. She looked down at her feet where a pile of cigarette butts were scattered from previous occupants who had loitered under the bridge too. But it was high enough to cover the head of the woman. It was upside down. She appeared to be unconscious. Something louder came and went. It didn’t move. A vehicle came into view at an impossible angle. She kneeled close and glanced in the window on the driver’s side. Keep it regular. The car’s roof took the impact in the water. A dead fish smell wafted up from the river. 10:18am. It fell towards the river. An odd thought struck her. Wait and see. A horn blared. She lowered her right hand and picked up the hammer.to be pulled at a later time. Any other time it would have been soothing. or locked. The sound of metal hitting metal was surreal. along with pieces of the guardrail. There were no passengers. Sarah grabbed the handle and tried to open the door. She glanced in . whooshing sound. The river was quite shallow in this area. A tire screeched.

buckling it a little. She used the hammer to remove stray pieces of glass still attached to the door frame.the window and looked across to the other side of the car. . She raised the hammer and whacked the pane. lying down in the water that rushed in faster now. She could hear people yelling from the bridge behind her. It would have to be the back door window. She looked at the hammer in her right hand. Sarah had to act and she had to do it now. she angled herself between the front seats. but it was cold on her arms and stomach when she dropped down on all fours. The water was tolerable when she stood in it. She brushed it aside while reaching for the woman. A book that must have been in the back seat floated by. Sarah guessed she had less than a minute before the woman’s nose started taking water on. She went as fast as she could while being careful to maneuver around the shards of glass. Someone was asking if everyone was all right. She was completely inside the back. If she bashed the driver’s side window it would shatter and could hurt the woman. She looked back at the woman. The hammer. Her stomach churned when she looked at the woman. That was the side that hit the river first. From the back. She brought everything she could muster to the next blow. She reached out and lifted the woman’s head just as water flirted with her nostrils. The water had risen to her hair line and was swirling around the top of her head. Water was touching the woman’s eyebrows. The doors on that side were bent inward. The back window shattered and blew inward. Her eyes were submerged now. Nothing happened. That was where she stopped.

in situations like these. Until help arrived. Did she see the accident? How was she involved? As before. which looked to be the cause of the accident. She never wanted to be identified as the girl with no eyebrows and hardly any hair on her head. She sat on the bumper of an ambulance. Sarah held the woman’s head above the water until firemen showed up. She knew without the bandana she would stand out a lot more. She removed the red bandana she wore to cover her missing hair. She had to get home before her mother began asking . They cut the seatbelt and then lifted the driver out. The water level inside the car matched the outside now. They asked her if she’d been a passenger. In the confusion of people. Especially since she couldn’t go through the driver’s side door. she had done all she could do. A Paramedic provided a blanket for her. She hated cops. She told a police officer she would answer his questions after she warmed up. she could hear sirens. Sarah dropped the blanket and disappeared behind the ambulance. How could she push or drag her from the car? Impossible for Sarah alone. some hurt. holding the woman’s head up against her shoulder. Another fireman reached in and helped Sarah out and up to the bridge. Even the sight of them. she was evasive. She would have to stay here leaning on her side.Sarah reasoned it would be difficult to undo the seatbelt that suspended the driver. A garbage truck had lost one of its wheels. The adrenaline rush was ebbing and the shivering had started. Another unknown reality had become known. The firemen went to work on the driver’s side door. Paramedics were attending to a minivan where a man in the driver’s seat was being fitted in a neck brace. some helping. It was over. She used her free hand to cling to the steering wheel. She started to run a little. she thought. Minutes later. With her strength diminishing. And not soon enough.

.questions of her whereabouts. She hated it when she had to lie to her.

she thought again. She couldn’t start asking if they were this guy Dolan. She remembered her mother flipping out when she discovered all the missing hair was Sarah’s fault. Frustration set in because her hands were tied. She realized this could be a failed effort. lost. Why did she have to get these messages anyway? A bell sounded somewhere in the building. Soft music. Men walked past her every few seconds. anxiety twisting her insides. People would stare and be horrified with all the hair she was missing. Dolan save yourself. She couldn’t have it get loose and fall off in public.Chapter 2 Sarah pushed the doors open after having paid her fee at the main desk and entered the Psychic Fair. Was this a reference to her or was she supposed to tell Dolan to save himself? Strange smells came to her. Why was she here? She clutched her notebook against her chest and held it tight. I am nothing like these people. Maybe it was her missing eyebrows drawing their attention. She despised weakness. What happens to me is not the same as what these people . Sarah adjusted and tightened her bandanna. On the back of the note it said to go to the psychic fair in town to find him. issued from small speakers on a table to her left. I’m different. She moved on. She was diagnosed with trichotillomania about six months ago. Her nose clogged with the smell of incense. I’m real. She didn’t want the attention. only purpose. why am I here. The part that scared her was save yourself. Within four strides she was around an aisle corner and hustling down through a throng of people. What next? Oh man. trancelike. She woke this morning and found a note on the floor with these three words. She felt people staring. The doctor said she was a puller as opposed to a cutter. with no direction. She moved on down the aisle.

I feel you act on. Sarah jumped and snapped around. “Before we talk I want to know how much you’ll charge when you invited me. I’ve got a message for you. This woman held her gaze as she talked. Before getting too far. “What do you write in that notebook?” “What are you talking about?” No one ever got to look at her notebook. “I know what you are and you have to stop. “I know what you are.” “Forget it.” An old woman stood before her. but not out of curiosity. I’m done with this place.” The woman raised her hand in protest. she turned back.” Sarah said and started to walk away. She followed her because it was a rare event when someone didn’t stare at her missing eyebrows.” “What am I?” “You write something in that notebook.are doing. Whatever it is. “Hold up there. The old woman shooed away a few people who huddled around her table and gestured for Sarah to sit down. Sarah followed out of respect. It was time to leave.” A message? Sarah nodded and followed her.” “What’s up?” she asked. young lady. “What did you mean when you said you know what I am?” “Come back to my booth. or . angry at being startled. “Come back to my booth where we can talk. She made it three steps before someone grabbed her arm.” “No charge. the classic look of a fortuneteller with a headband of her own and wrinkly skin.

If that were true. Sarah noticed how long the woman’s earrings were and wondered how her flesh still held them. This couldn’t be. just like every other time she blacked out. This woman sat across from her and talked about her notebook as if it’s homework and she needs to see the grade. a warning of danger. how could she just say it like announcing it was a sunny day? How could she help? “What danger?” Sarah asked.” It came out so easily. “Never. Her palms were sweaty. “No one sees what’s in here.” How could she know this unless she was psychic? Sarah bent forward as her stomach clenched. “What’re you talking about?” Sarah asked again. It’ll happen within twenty-four hours. I might be able to help. The fear involved in what she did when answering her precognitions was nothing compared to being found out. She didn’t come here to be found out. “You’re in danger. “Do you know a man named Dolan?” “Why did you say that name? Is it in your notebook? I need to see it because I’m one of the real ones and I can see you’re in a lot of danger. They were red dangling things that rested on her shoulders. I’ve seen people like .” She looked around. What about Dolan? How was he important? Was she still supposed to find this guy? “I want to see your notebook. Impossible.” She leaned back in her chair. She needed to get out of here. They’d long since made this woman’s lobe look like Sarah’s baby finger.” Sarah tightened her grip on it. The woman leaned forward on her chair and tried to rise.alter your routine because of it.

When you told me about danger.” “Why are you talking in circles? Why aren’t you telling me about the danger?” “You have a gift. or were you talking about my gift?” “Sarah. her face turning a shade of her earrings. lost her balance and hit the floor. I know what you are. That’s why I need to see what’s in your notebook. No one was following her. Breathing became an effort. She opened her eyes and immediately . Her hand twitched again. Not here. If what that woman said was true. then trouble was coming and it would be here soon. She stood. Oh no. just like me. She looked back. “You’re an Automatic Writer. hopped over the railing on her right and hustled down an aisle that led out through a crowded area to the main doors. Then I’ll be able to tell you about the danger you face because I wrote down that I’d meet you today. She bumped into them. It twitched a little. “Hold up. Someone was asking if she was okay. She felt very alone in a filled pavilion. were you threatening me. whatever message is in your notebook I think it’s a message for you. She felt the familiar signs of a full blackout as her vision closed down. I think you need to save yourself.your kind before. Sarah looked down at her hand.” The old woman was standing now. Two people were standing in her way. this time with more urgency.” How did this woman know her name? And how does she know the message or where they come from? Fear almost paralyzed her.” the woman said.

went for her notebook.” Sarah said as she bent to pick up her pen.” What did he have to look so mad for? It was an accident. If her notebook fell into the wrong hands. “Do you have my notebook?” “I saw you writing in it. Then you got up. A fleeting glare.” “I’m fine. a flame meant to express distaste. car accidents. a beating. Here he was. the kidnapping of Mary Bennet. I don’t see it anymore. . “I was asking if you were okay. He appeared quite upset. She regained her footing and along with that. She could see it in his eyes. It felt like the pavilion grew darker. Sarah was done for. smaller. My name is Dolan Ryan. It was gone. Some of her resolve came back. her eyes scanning the ground around her for the notebook. In the flesh. She made to get to her feet. She couldn’t believe it. Her pen rested on the floor beside her.” Dolan. You scribbled in your notebook and then…are you sure you’re okay?” The man glared at her. but her notebook was gone. It held information about the last six months of accidents and crimes she witnessed and stopped. “Where is my notebook?” “Let me introduce myself. I’m the president of the Psychic Fair. I was talking to my assistant Alex when you bumped into us. the man she was to see. His voice contradicted his eyes. “You appeared to blackout or something. some of her tenacity. The woman giving you a reading was Esmerelda. “I’m fine.” Sarah repeated.

So she had followed her from the booth. Speaking loud enough for Dolan to hear.” “What was that all about? Who was that man and the old woman who was staring bullets into you?” She ran from the building without her notebook. “I was sent here to give you a message: Save yourself. Her parents walked up. watching her. With a glance to her right. what’s wrong? Are you okay?” Sarah stepped away and moved back to Dolan. she saw the old woman. “Sarah. “I’ll tell you on the way home. Esmerelda. They left the Psychic Fair not knowing the message ‘save yourself’ was meant for Sarah.” Sarah said. . she said.Was this the danger she was in? Would the police get her notebook and want to talk to her? She backed away from Dolan. Are you done yet?” She turned toward them and almost hugged her mother. “Honey. her parents trailing behind. we’re here to pick you up. The tension in the air was palpable.

I had to give a name to the stragglers.” She jumped.Chapter 3 Someone like her should never be here. but I had to get rid of all the naggers. You know my rules on that. “I came over because I wanted to talk to you about a customer you had today.” “Who can resist you. “No. Not usual for you. If I had to guess. She leaned back against a steel post bordering her booth. she turned and set the ball back down on the table. Dolan. The last piece to stow away was her crystal ball. .” Esmerelda put her hands out in front of her.” She stepped back.” “Naggers? Is that what you call the public?” Esmerelda didn’t sit. “What do you want?” Real worry coursed through her. “Don’t try to use any psychic stuff on me. Why did Sarah have to come? The fair closed twenty minutes ago. not the public in general. without trying to sound too sarcastic. Why was that? Why would she be concerned about Dolan? “You look jittery. almost dropping her crystal ball. To have someone with her talents using such a prop seemed disrespectful. I would’ve come sooner. The one prop she hated the most because of how fake it was. I’d say something’s bothering you. Dolan walked around her booth table and sat in the customer’s chair. That was the way the public had to see it as per Dolan. “Esmerelda. There was just enough illumination for her to see which way to walk out to her trailer in the back. It was all for show.” she said.” “I’m not. Without speaking. Everything was for show. The area she stood in was dark except for a few random night lights. They remind me of the paparazzi.

Was the assistant listening in or coincidentally walking by? She lifted her nose and took in a deep breath to see if she could . She edged out of her booth and looked down the aisle just in time to see a suit jacket flutter past a booth about six down from hers. Did Dolan recognize Sarah for what she is? “I saw that. In the seconds of silence she heard someone walking nearby. “I bumped into her after she left your booth. Dolan. We’ve known each other for over twenty years. Why was she feeling disrupted? Maybe because she knew Sarah was so young and she was playing in a game unaware of its rules. Dolan was right. Esmerelda waited for him to continue. You’re right. She should have taken her by the arm and told her exactly how much danger she was in. Why do you ask?” She had no idea why Dolan would be interested in Sarah. A black jacket. “I’m sorry. It’s been a long day. I don’t keep personal records of the people I do readings for. Esmerelda. I didn’t even get the chance to do a reading for her. Why do I hear such bitterness in your voice?” Esmerelda looked away.“Esmerelda. She should have told her to stop listening to her messages in her notebook. The same one worn by Alex.” “Do you remember the young girl with the missing hair? Quite a distinguishing feature. She had a message in her notebook. I have no idea what it means. Besides. you’ve been with the fair for a long time. I’m not sure what it is myself. it’s too late. Dolan’s assistant earlier today. I felt some kind of a spark with that girl.” “I recall her.” Dolan lowered his head. But you already know this.” Esmerelda could feel his gaze on her. She should have stopped Sarah earlier. “Is there something you’re not telling me?” “Look.” Esmerelda turned and stared right at Dolan. but it’s quite unsettling. If you’re looking to apologize to her.

The problem with her is she is changing the future. “Hear what?” Esmerelda brushed it off with a motion of her hand and gestured for Dolan to continue.detect his cologne. you’re a celebrity. “She had a notebook with her. She’s getting precognitions about people in need of help and then attempting to help them. I recognized her from the news.” Esmerelda sat down. Then she snapped out of it. You’re the one that makes this Psychic Fair popular. Everyone comes to see you. When she fell to the floor it popped open. Elizabeth Bridge. In the darkened pavilion she hadn’t noticed how anxious he looked. “You said there was something else?” “Yes. “Did you hear that?” she asked. After all the help you’ve given the police with missing person cases. “Sarah is an Automatic Writer.” Dolan was shaking his head as if he was frustrated.” Esmerelda waited for Dolan to go on. This was more serious than she thought. the Anchorwoman who crashed over the edge when that garbage truck lost its wheel. She was almost two feet shorter than him.” He got up from the chair and looked down at Esmerelda.” “That was Sarah?” . I went to help her up but she fell into a trance and wrote something down. “By my name it said. ‘save yourself’. “I saw my name in her notebook.” “How do you know all this? You read that much?” “No. She saved a woman from drowning under the St.” “Having your name in her notebook shouldn’t be a mystery. She circled it numerous times before standing up. There were two words beside that.

within twenty-four hours Sarah will either be dead or a victim to her own precognition she’s trying to stop. She needs help. but I fear. but I couldn’t tell what. I wish I could help her.” .“Yes. she bolted. As soon as I told her. and she is in trouble. Something is coming.

It would only fuel their current arguments. Maybe that was it? Automatic Writer? Someone or something from the Other Side was using her as a tool. The pressure of the danger that’s supposedly coming started to mount. She couldn’t turn to her parents. she hadn’t moved out yet and there was no indication that she would anytime soon. She decided she would have to see Esmerelda again. She had no friends to speak of. She needed to get her notebook back. but no real friends she could trust.Chapter 4 Sarah couldn’t believe what was happening. She had no boyfriend. They always treated her like a child. The kind of explaining that got you locked up with a nice white jacket. She felt guilty enough for that. and then destroy it. She wanted to re-read all the entries. Was Dolan in trouble? Could she help? Should she help? . She lay on her bed. They wouldn’t listen anyway. She got up and sat on the edge of her bed. If the police ever got their hands on it. they still treated her like she was fourteen. Maybe it had to do with her notebook. Half of that was her fault. she would have some explaining to do. Her parents had argued most of the night about it. Yesterday she met Esmerelda at the Psychic Fair and all she got was a warning and something about being able to hear the Other Side. it was the last thing she wanted to add to her mixed up situation. She knew people from school. Even at eighteen. She could explain what Automatic Writing was. Who would want one anyway? With all the trouble relationships seemed to be. not sure what move to make.

probably a servant. Sarah stepped in and stopped it. This one felt more personal though. A moment later a female voice came on the line. Are you the girl with no eyebrows? The one who was by the trash bin that night?” “Yes. “Sarah? I don’t know any Sarah’s…Oh wait. After Mary was confirmed to be okay Sarah had tried to slink away undetected but she’d been grabbed by Mary who had written her phone number down and told Sarah to call if she needed anything. Sarah left her name. I’ll wait. On the third ring. who’s this?” Sarah recognized Mary’s voice. She grabbed her address book and opened it to an entry she’d made months ago about Mary Bennett. Moments later she heard the . After dialing information she was routed to the Psychic Fair’s number.” she whispered. I want to talk to you. Sarah could feel her hand shaking from the vibration the phone made against her ear. She asked for Esmerelda and was told that she was in a session and couldn’t be disturbed. Sarah dialed the number.” “Hold on. answered and told Sarah to hold while he went to find Mary. She’d never forget it. Anything at all. Mary had been her first save. a woman picked it up. telephone number and hung up. Now she had to try to save herself. “It’s Sarah. There had been an attempted kidnapping and at the right moment.” Sarah heard the phone drop and feet shuffling. A male. She was taken aback by this because she had been in situations in the last six months that should have scared her more. “Hello. You’ll wait?” “Yes. Let me put the phone down so I can go to my room. but not here.Sarah picked up her bedroom phone.

familiar click of a phone lifting and then Mary yelling that she got it. . Her parents were still out so she didn’t have to worry about them overhearing anything. “Why haven’t you called sooner? I’ve got so many questions. Only when…I’m supposed to. I didn’t call to talk about that.” “I like to stay anonymous. I don’t make it a practice to get to know the people I help. What I need you to do involves my father and a woman named Esmerelda.” “I need you to do two simple tasks for me. “Listen.” “Are you saying that I’m not the only one you’ve helped? Is this something you do regularly?” Mary sounded surprised. “Not regularly.” Sarah stood and walked to her bedroom window.” “Help? Whatever it is I’ll give it my best. I wanted to ask for your help. The other line was put down.

She wondered why she always felt the need to explain herself to Alex. No more clients. Do you feel Dolan will approve of his top psychic taking off early?” “I don’t care what Dolan approves of. no more brooding.” Yeah right. I’ll be back tomorrow. From where she was standing. like it seared the oxygen out of the air.” “Where are you going?” “It’s none of your business. “I’m leaving Alex. I was merely concerned about your well being. But if you must know.” “But it’s only the lunch hour. I do this because I want to. she thought. Intoxicating.” Esmerelda stood and edged her way around the booth’s table. Some of the lunch room talk was curiosity as to why Dolan kept him on. I wouldn’t be at my best for the clientele. she reached around and grabbed the closed sign. alright. Why did she even talk to him? Not many of the employees got along with him. I don’t work for you or Dolan. a girl she just met? Or was it what Dolan had said last night? Her booth was small. I’m going to my trailer for a siesta. . Could she be that concerned about Sarah. The closer she got to Alex the worse the cologne was. I’m not feeling well.Chapter 5 Esmerelda spent most of her day trying to figure out what was bothering her more. “Yes. She was done for the day. “Closing early?” The voice startled her. She looked up and saw Dolan’s assistant. you needn’t get so defensive.” “Alright. She should have sniffed him coming. She placed it in its holder on the table. I should’ve retired years ago. He was always doused in Fahrenheit cologne.

When she reached the back exit door she stopped dead in her tracks.” “Ah. so uncharacteristic.” This . his arms crossed.” She had no intention of going anywhere with him.” It was so unlike Dolan to act this way. Esmerelda?” “To my trailer.” He moved in front of the back door. Come with me.” “We need to talk. “Hey. Something was not right. You already know what I saw in her notebook. She walked away in silence. He led her away from the back door. “Alex and I were having a conversation yesterday when we bumped into Sarah. It was a slow day at the fair anyway. but I think you do. “Where’re you going.Within two steps she expected Alex to say something. She moved for the door when Dolan reached out and gripped her arm above the elbow. just before she leaves the pavilion she whispers that I need to save myself. I remember you said that Sarah could be dead or a victim of one of her own precognitions. She’d had a few people to read for this morning and as she walked through the pavilion she could see it was half empty. So what’s going on? Should I be worried? I mean. What are you doing? Let go of me. Dolan. I didn’t even get a chance to do a full reading.” “Again? We discussed her last night. But that works with save yourself. Is this about me or Sarah?” “I told you yesterday. I know nothing more. Minutes later they were under a steel staircase that led to the offices above. The closest booth or fair attendee was at least thirty feet away. Maybe her precognition of danger had come true and Sarah’s parents were here demanding answers. “I want to talk to you about that girl you did a reading for yesterday. Alex is also curious about it. but he didn’t.

marriage. Esmerelda. He took a step back and looked around.” . I need to know if it relates to me. helping people find love. “What is this all about? Why drag me over here to ask the same questions from last night? Besides.” Esmerelda turned to leave but Dolan’s stopped her. what do you have to worry about?” “Something’s got me freaked out.” She could see his surprise. Esmerelda. As the years have been getting tougher and tougher.” She saw something in Dolan’s eyes that didn’t seem right. all I want is to make a little more money and then get away from all this. I can’t tell you about the danger because I don’t know what it is. no one was close enough to hear them. I want obscurity. “Alex was standing by your booth when he overheard you say the girl was in danger. “What’s happening to you Dolan? I have never seen you like this. how long have we been at this together. tell me what’s going on? Was the ‘save yourself’ comment for her and not me?” “I have nothing to say about this. “Whatever Alex heard wasn’t meant for his ears or yours. Besides.” “I’m sorry Dolan. As far as I’m concerned.” She didn’t say a word. peace? You of all people know me. Esmerelda.” “I need to know why you won’t talk to me. I refuse to talk about it.was so unlike Dolan. it has nothing to do with you.” “Esmerelda. I’m done. The reading was for Sarah and Sarah alone. The fair was still quite empty. Are these girl’s problem’s related to me? Tell me. Alex listened a little more. You know it isn’t the practice of the Dolan Ryan’s Psychic Fair to do negative readings. Esmerelda stepped back. doing readings. I not only want to know what you were talking about. I didn’t get to see inside her notebook. “Esmerelda.

Their impromptu meeting was over. . On her way out the back door she saw Alex again. One thing she knew was that it did have something to do with the psychic fair and she wanted no part of that. his desperation. She felt his anger. The truth was she really didn’t know what form the danger would take. He was sitting on the table in her booth.She saw his jaw clench together when he said her name. She stepped back and walked away in a half jog. watching her.

After she talked to Mary. Sarah felt she’d made a mistake. They mutually felt a connection on the phone that made Sarah feel odd. It woke her from her reverie just in time. where Sarah’s life sounded exciting. Talk to Esmerelda first. seeing as they’d only talked once before. Trusting people had always been a big deal for her and now she realized she probably said too much to Mary. Sarah had quickly refused and got off the phone but not before securing Mary’s commitment to help in exactly the way Sarah needed her help. She wanted to get involved the next time Sarah went to stop a kidnapping. “I was wondering if you could get a message to Esmerelda for me. The familiar ding of a bus rider signaling their intent to exit the bus at the next stop made her jump. Not only had Sarah saved her from being kidnapped. “What would you like me to pass along?” “Could you tell her that Sarah Roberts is out front and that I would like to talk . She looked at the fee that was posted on the table and knew she didn’t have enough. Sarah wasn’t used to having people she had to rely on. The bus stopped in front of the fair and Sarah got off. The doors rattled shut and the bus lumbered forward. She thought about asking if a notebook had been returned to lost and found. She headed to the front entrance. but thought better of it. Mary said her life had become boring.Chapter 6 Sarah took a seat near the exit doors in the rear of the bus. It was empty but for a few teenagers. She was a block away from the pavilion where the Psychic Fair was being held. looked up at her. Mary said the reason she wanted to help was because of Sarah.” One of the women. When she got there she was confronted by a registration table with two women sitting behind it. she also intrigued her. with a smile that showed all her teeth and some of her gums.

she pulled on it.” “Thank you.to her? Tell her that it concerns the reading she did for me yesterday. It was locked from the inside. As she passed an emergency exit door. The guard’s head was still down. She backhanded sweat from her brow and started for the fence. It looked to Sarah that the psychics lived in the trailers while on the road. she adjusted her weight and began her descent down the other side. If they couldn’t get to see each other. at least Esmerelda could call her. chatting to each other. Both women still sat there. The back lot consisted of a fenced in yard with a security shack. At the last three feet. but I don’t think she’ll be able to drop what she’s doing to come out front. There appeared to be no way into the building unless she could get through the fenced in area. She decided to find another way in. With the . bouncing off the pavement in a wave of heat.” “I could. She looked at the guard shack. Neither one had gotten up to deliver her note. The security guard hadn’t seen a thing. The yard was filled with about a dozen trailers and rigs. she hopped off and looked at the guard shack again. She’s probably got a line at her booth right now. The security shack was manned. moving from pavilion to pavilion. The sun shone bright. She’s one of the most popular psychics we have here. She set the paper down on the table along with the pen. Straddling the bar. The guard had his head down. She tightened her bandanna. Sarah walked up to the fence. She started to climb. He appeared to be reading something. It took her less than ten seconds to reach the top. But I’ll make sure she gets the message.” Sarah said and grabbed a pen and paper from the table. Sarah stepped outside. She wrote down her home phone number. She headed along the edge of the building and turned the corner.

not now. The security guard yelled from his shack that the police were around the corner. Did she write anything? Her precognition was on the first page. You’re trespassing. The notepad popped out of the guys hands. It was what she banged against when she fell into a complete blackout. “All readings are done in the pavilion. She ripped out the paper and handed it back to the man standing over her. “The police?” Sarah asked. You can discuss it with the cops. She . What you have done is called a break and enter. The fence was still beside her.” Sarah saw a cruiser pulling up outside the fence and her stomach dropped. That’s why I’m here.” The guard looked past her to the man in the sport jacket. she started to walk toward the trailers. She felt light headed. “I need to speak to Esmerelda. But I’d be willing to drop the charges if you told me what you wrote in my notepad that you so rudely ripped from my jacket pocket as you fell to the ground.” Sarah slid the note in the back of her pants. Then her hand twitched. She came to. “Heh! You there?” Sarah swung to the right and saw a man in a sport jacket coming her way. “Yes. The front entrance is how you get access to the psychics. Sarah opened the pad. She looked away from the man without a word and walked toward the guard shack. twisting her body away for leverage.fence by her side. The man in the sport jacket knelt beside her. Oh no. She held tight. She looked back at the guard’s shack and saw the guard coming out now. He was trying to pry a notepad out of her hands. a scowl on his face.

She wondered what Esmerelda would think of her being taken away in a police car. her insides tingling with excitement. . There were two. When that was done she sat on her bed. Tonight. The rush was instant. The next time she was found inside the property of the pavilion without being a paying customer. When they got to her house. The gate was rolling open and sport jacket was talking to the police.couldn’t handle cops right now. Cooling her. What are they going to think when Dolan finds her note? This was the first time people’s names were coming through. Maybe this was the extent of the danger she foretold? The cops asked where she lived and headed in that direction. She nodded her understanding. Minutes later. They explained that this would be a warning. Sarah was put into the backseat of the cruiser. Sarah waved. Birk Street North Face. but Sarah ignored her and ran to her bedroom. She set about the task given to her regarding Dolan. The first one told her about Dolan’s involvement and what she needed to do. She found a few stray hairs on her forearm and yanked them out hard. The second entry read. She detested them. An understanding of what was happening dawned on her. She could see how furious her mother was. her mother came out to meet them. knowing Esmerelda could see her. Calming her. The police recited a quick rundown of what had happened and let Sarah out of the backseat. Kidnapping. she would be charged with trespassing and have a criminal record. 9:23pm. as they put it. She wanted little to do with these guys. She retrieved the note and read the entry. Sarah looked out the back window as they were exiting the lot and saw Esmerelda running to the gate. into the custody of her parents. Both officers got in the front after a five minute wait.

Especially when it involved crimes being committed. she thought. She just hoped she could count on Mary to come through for her. . What the police could do with information like this.

or what’s left of it. Sarah flinched away. arms crossed. I won’t ask you again. She kept her eyes on the carpet. She got it tucked into her back pocket just in time.Chapter 7 Her mother’s footsteps pounded down the hallway. “I’m sorry. What were you doing there today?” Sarah remained silent. anger contorting her face. that was uncalled for. “I said I want your notebook and I want it now.” Sarah looked away.” Sarah’s heart sank. She didn’t have it. She always felt her mother blamed her for something.” .” She marched towards the bed. That wasn’t fair. Sarah? You didn’t even want to go yesterday. What changed? She tried hard to keep her eyes downcast. Her mother wanted nothing to do with it before. “I don’t have it. Sarah fumbled with the note she’d written about the kidnapping. “I went to see Esmerelda—” “Why? Yesterday wasn’t enough? And where would you get the money? Don’t tell me this has anything to do with your blackouts because we all know how obsessive you can get. Just look at your hair. you don’t have it? You’re lying to me. There’s no way her mother would believe that. “What the hell was that all about? They found you trespassing at the Psychic Fair? What’s going on. She didn’t like confrontations with her mother. She never won them.” “What do you mean. “Sarah.” She looked up and saw her mother in the doorway. Already the conversation was turning into insults. I want your notebook. The edge of her bed was a good place to sit and wait for this ordeal to be over. Look. Her bedroom door flew open. Her mother read too much in them.

She opened drawers. “Get off that bed and get me your notebook. Now!” Sarah did as she was told by standing and going to her night table. The pain was quick and intense. looked under her pillow. “Find your notebook and we’ll discuss it. She hated it when her mother flew off the handle and right now she wasn’t sure what she was capable of. Her right hand reached up to the back of her neck and grabbed hair without her thinking of it. “You are going to give me your notebook. “What’s everything?” Sarah asked. Why would they talk? “She called me.” her mother said. She felt her face heating up.Sarah watched as her mother’s eyes narrowed. I hung up just before the police pulled in with you. That also confirmed how . Why do you want it anyway? You never showed interest before.” “I talked to Mary. “Everything. Comfort warmed her heart.” Her mother was being evasive for a reason.” Her mother did know more than she was letting on. “What’re you doing? Look for your notebook. coming to within a foot of Sarah’s face. turning red. Her mother was fishing. She pulled. This is not open for discussion. She leaned forward. Do you understand me?” Sarah nodded. I know you know where it is because it’s never out of your sight for long. This was bad. opened her closet and moved clothes around. find it. adrenaline filled her gut. I know that Mary will be in one of your entries. If you’ve lost it. She didn’t want to say anything more that might spin her mother into a tantrum. Sarah’s stomach dropped.” “What did she tell you?” Sarah asked. She spoke through clenched teeth. Sarah guessed she didn’t know much after all.” “I am.

looked under clothes. I was looking for it this morning and haven’t seen it since.” It was weak. a girl jumped in and saved the newswoman from drowning while she was still unconscious. Her car landed upside down in a river. There was another kidnap victim she could help tonight. She felt the pit in her stomach getting heavier. acting naive. Then the teenager disappeared. and even lifted the top mattress to look between the two.” “What television woman?” She asked. But how was she to handle her mom? She continued to pretend to be looking. There was no way she would give the notebook up to anyone even if she had it. The police were useless. “Tell me what Mary said to you. She remembered reading about Kim Wepps in the newspaper the day after she hadn’t helped her. “You know. her knees weak. She had never forgiven herself for letting Kim Wepps get taken after her kidnapping details were found in the notebook. Nothing would stop her from being there.” Sarah crossed her arms. that little book is never far from your grasp. “Come on Sarah.” . She realized the only way out of this would have to be physical. She asked if you were the one who saved that television woman. that accident where the famous Anchorwoman for NBC was hit by a truck and knocked off a bridge. After I talked to Mary. Apparently. “I’d give it to you if I could find it. It had to be Sarah. She opened more drawers. She wondered if her mother would know she was lying by the waver in her voice. I went down to your dad’s tool box and I couldn’t find his hammer. She felt lightheaded.” “She wanted to know where you were.much of a mistake it’d been to talk to Mary.

” Sarah tried to keep the conversation flowing. Sarah shook her head no. They have some questions that went unanswered. She followed her mother out of her bedroom and into her father’s den. I’ve never been involved in kidnappings or anything like that.” Sarah said as she reached for the phone again. she’s here. But she went on about your notebook and how you saved her from a kidnapping. All you need to know . even though she knew the answer. She silently hoped it wasn’t Mary again. That’s why I have to have your notebook. She felt so nervous at being found out even though she’d done nothing wrong. To tell you the truth. “Hello. Not only that. “Are you expecting a call?” Her mother asked.” The shrill ring from the phone made her jump. “How dare you? Who is this and how did this man get our number? And why is he calling for you?” “I have no idea. “Who I am isn’t important. “Hello?” She looked up at Sarah. Her mother pulled it away. “The news said the teenage girl broke out the back window of the woman’s car with a hammer. Hold on. The police are looking for this mysterious helper.” Putting her palm on the mouthpiece.” Sarah lunged for the phone. this time snatching it from her mother’s grasp. Her mother picked it up on the fourth ring. “It’s someone from the Psychic Fair. “That’s so strange. her pulse racing. I need to see the kinds of things you write in it. The last thing she wanted was her mother detecting how nervous she was.“Why would you look for dad’s hammer?” Sarah asked. she said you called her earlier. she whispered to Sarah. “Yes. Mary was surprised that I had no idea what she was talking about. I told Mary that it was impossible you were involved.” A man’s guttural voice said. please.

” “You can tell me who you’re going to meet and where. How about you come back to the fair and ask for…” Pain shot through her hand. starting at the elbow. “Because the caller asked for secrecy. “Sorry. You will tell me what’s going on. “You want to know what your problem is. I can meet with you. I’m going to meet Mary. Actually. She fumbled and almost dropped the phone.” Sarah replied. Her hand twitched. We are now in an adult to adult relationship. pointing close enough to cause Sarah’s eyes to cross. You will have to bring your notebook. “Good. “You still think you’re having a parent to child relationship with me and that has to change. Focus. I understand. “Listen to me. What have you been up to?” “I don’t think so.” Sarah walked towards the door and continued out of the room. yet not strong enough. you can tell me why too. But before I can do that. She didn’t get to hear his name. .” Sarah started shivering.” She hung up. “Yes. Now. mother?” She rarely talked to her mother with such a disrespecting tone. She couldn’t look her in the eye when she did. “What was that all about?” “I can’t tell you. I’ll meet you there.” Her mother’s finger was raised and poised in front of Sarah’s nose.is that I saw you today at the fair. she thought. trying to downplay the situation. I’m going to be nineteen soon. “Of course.” Sarah turned away. “What? Why not?” The look of surprise was genuine. I’m leaving. little girl. I need to meet with you.” was all that came out. It felt like the beginning of a blackout. this is between me and the Psychic Fair.” Sarah shrugged her shoulders. That would be no problem. I want to help. Goodbye. It was time to be defiant and take a stand.

Only the soft scent of pine assailed her nose. She couldn’t trust Mary. . and watched everyone that passed. She couldn’t trust her mother or she would have told her what’s happening.“I can’t believe this. and regretting the confrontation in advance. Are you taking lessons from your father? You listen to me. not even a breeze. But no confrontation came. She always knew she could trust no one. That would mean he knew where she lived. Now she had confirmation that a strange man had been watching her at the fair. While walking towards downtown she roamed her forearms for any remote hair she could pull out. she looked over her shoulder often. And he wanted her notebook. On the way to Birk Street. You will tell me what I want to know because I’m your mother—” Sarah ran down the stairs to the front door. After leaving the house she walked the length of the driveway as the sun faded beneath the tree line. knowing what would happen if her mother tried to stop her. He’d called her at home. There was no wind.

And what was that? Did the girl lose it because of some kind of condition or did she pull it out herself? When she looked at Sarah yesterday she actually thought she was looking at a younger Denise. except for the hair thing. John Hall had left everything to their daughter. If it was to be revealed that Esmerelda profited . It must have to do with all the unknowns. She cut herself preparing vegetables. Why was Sarah breaking into the Psychic Fair’s property? Why were Dolan and Alex so interested in her? After the police took Sarah home. It was uncanny how similar they were in appearance. Dolan said Sarah left a message at the admissions desk for her. The fear was causing her to be clumsy. Her forehead had a small goose egg from when she bumped a cupboard. A trust fund was set up for Denise once John’s company was dissolved. They’d called it a sin. Denise.Chapter 8 Esmerelda stubbed her foot and almost fell getting into her trailer. Dolan and his assistant questioned her for almost an hour. It broke her heart because she hadn’t talked to her daughter since her husband’s death. What she didn’t tell the others was how Sarah reminded her of her own daughter. It was proof Esmerelda was involved with this young girl in some way. She sipped raspberry tea as she tried to decide what to do. Her family had not approved of psychic readings. Not a penny was willed to Esmerelda. Her husband’s will was specific. They were convinced she knew more. Nothing she said satisfied them. Esmerelda eased her heavy frame onto the blanket covered chair that sat in a corner nook of her trailer. It broached on harassment.

She flipped through channels until she got to the news. She thought she was looking at Denise. She couldn’t count how many times he’d worked with the police. It was time for mother and daughter to talk. It wasn’t that he didn’t like helping children. The remote was on the table. They would stay after the fair closed. Then she stopped. She knew that sometimes Dolan helped locate missing people. set the phone down and leaned back in her chair. She picked it up and turned the television on. trying to get a chance to talk to Dolan. it was the notoriety it gave him that he complained about.from any of it. She could try tomorrow. The Psychic Fair would get busier after he was in the newspaper for finding a missing child. then why . Maybe it was too late. She didn’t attend her husband’s funeral and only talked to Denise when she called to ask why she wasn’t there. the trust fund was to be dispersed to charity. People would swarm him for help with lost loved ones. They’d separated and Esmerelda joined the Psychic Fair to travel with Dolan. That was almost twenty years ago. It was this callousness that drove Esmerelda out two years before her husband’s death. A story came on about a kidnapping a few months back and how a teenager had intervened there too. He hated it though. Something told her she would see her daughter again soon. hit end. An odd thought struck her. Meeting Sarah and seeing Denise in her face was more than a coincidence. When Sarah had walked into the fair yesterday she couldn’t help but stare. Her husband and daughter were a part of the past. The news anchor was pleading for the girl who pulled her from the river to come forward. Esmerelda picked up her cell phone and dialed information. If Dolan could locate kidnap victims.

she let her breath wheeze out. flicked off the lights. She edged away from the door with as much stealth as she could muster. Her hands shook to the point where she almost dropped the rolling pin. In her baking supply cabinet she found a rolling pin. A thump from the window behind her made her jump. She got up from her chair and went to the kitchen. chest pumping with the action of breathing. The light switch was near the door. She looked up at the brass knob as it stopped moving. her back against the door. To turn it off would expose her to the open window and whoever may still be out there. It would explain all the interest Dolan and Alex have in her. She sat there. With the light on she was too visible. After a few moments of silence. The doorknob rattled. Could it be that Sarah knows something about this? That’s why Dolan’s name was in her book. She sauntered across the hallway. She spun around in her chair just in time to see the edge of a face disappear. She had to talk to Sarah and evidently Sarah wanted to talk to her. listening for any sounds from the outside of the trailer.couldn’t he just tell the police where the culprits were? Esmerelda leaned forward and set her cup on the table before her twitching hands spilled it. Her free hand covered her mouth as a little squeak slipped out. . She had to risk being in the open to turn it off. She picked up her cell and dialed 911. and dropped down.

grabbed her coat and flicked off the lights. Just tell me if it’ll work or not. She looked up at the ceiling tiles of her office and gritted her teeth in an effort not to lose control.Chapter 9 The cigarette dropped into the ashtray where she butted it out. Once the subject is located here. He’d . The lock clicked as she turned the key. Documents lay before her on the desk in disarray. At least that’s what her father called the Psychic Fair. we can finish the reconstruction. Pausing long enough to control her breathing. She gathered them up and tossed them into a corner tray. eyes closed. Whatever happened to her? Where was she now? And what made her think about her mother? Maybe it was that stupid psychic stuff she always went on about. Her mother had left for the circus many years ago. She stood on the doorstep of her office.” “Call me with confirmation. she wasted no time. I think it’ll work. She’d held it too long. Ashes had fallen from the tip and now lay in her lap. When the phone was answered. Craziness. This means we can move within a day.” “Do whatever’s necessary. but I’m down at the motel sizing things up. He used to always ridicule her after she left.” “It looks like a fit. Maybe her mother planted a thought in her head? She laughed. She moved to brush them off.” She rubbed a palm against her throbbing forehead after hanging up. smearing their fragile nature into the red skirt that covered her thigh. We just need to punch out one wall and set up a secure perimeter. A brief image of her mother filled her head. she got up. She picked up the phone and hit speed dial. “Any word yet?” “No.

The alcohol had lost its grip on her months ago. had traveled in her glove box the past few days for just such a moment. Her cell phone started chirping. If only her mother knew that she made more money now than the trust fund ever gave her. Her long and trusted friend. One hundred percent. She reached over and opened the glove box. Send them in. Everything measures perfect. She recapped the flask and tossed it into the glove box. Her mother came to mind again.” “Good. Maybe some other time.” She hit the end button and tossed the phone on the passenger seat. she thought as she answered the phone. The rain sounded like a small machine gun as it pounded the roof. Mickey. it was ‘mother knows everything’. Understood?” “I’m on it.say that it wasn’t ‘mother knows best. After getting in. You know the drill. Today’s drink would be stronger than on most other days. shutting it hard. “Yeah?” “It’ll work. listening to the rhythm of it. She wondered if she was still alive. remembering she had read last week that rain fell at approximately twenty-seven kilometers an hour. Do it quietly. She watched it. Get it ready for the delivery. she opened the glove box and pulled out her Mickey. Water seeped down the back of her neck from her wet hair. . She found herself staring at the glove box. She lifted her small purse over her head and ran for the car. I want no one to even know you’re there.’ with Esmerelda. Imagine if her mother knew what she’d done with the trust fund left to her. She held the flask a moment. A small silver flask filled with ten year old scotch. Rain started to hit the pavement. She’d only recently started again.

so she did. Ever since the cop who used to babysit her years ago had done things to her. as she walked toward her appointment with another kidnapping. She shivered at the memory. For the last hour. Kidnapping. There was the danger Esmerelda talked about. That was their job anyway. The crumpled paper came out of her pocket with a little protest. She opened it to the entry. She stepped into the . Her bandanna was a red one tonight. Maybe it was the call that was spooking her? To top it all off. she was being watched. Let them handle it. The streets in this area were getting busier. but there was also a sense of foreboding she was feeling. she hadn’t noticed anyone paying extra attention to her.Chapter 10 People normally stare at her face or probe further to see if she had any hair. An earlier precognition had told her to use Mary. But she wasn’t comfortable about it. She was a few blocks from downtown. Tonight. The one she usually wore to do her notebook’s bidding. Mary couldn’t be trusted either. About a thirty minute walk to Birk Street She passed by a store front and stopped. Sarah was watching the passersby more than they watched her. Thinking about her ordeal only made her want to pull. Ever. Like somehow. Too bad she couldn’t just call the police and tell them what was going to happen. She slipped the paper into a large pocket below the knee area in her pants. She hated lying to her mom. She hated cops. She thought about her mother and felt remorse from their fight. She’d never be able to trust a cop. 9:23pm. Birk Street North Face. Her shirt sleeves dropped below the elbow. But she knew the answer to that. She needed to know the time and she’d left her watch at home in her hurry to leave.

Stray hairs tumbled out. Sitting in their cruiser earlier had been horrible. Sarah shook her head back and forth. they’d throw it in the garbage when she left. He’d told her that his fellow officers had his back. where her depression went unnoticed by her parents. depression. she took her time easing them from their roots. Most of her forearm hair was missing along with small amounts of pubic hair. checked the clock mounted on the wall and stepped back out to the sidewalk. trying to quell her nervousness. She rolled them around. He even nodded and waved to a fellow officer in her presence. She didn’t want the police in her life either. She could almost feel the exact moment when the follicles disengaged. She didn’t want this. nor did she ask for it. She reached up and pushed the red bandanna a little above her ear. loneliness. She was weak once. The hairs she’d claimed from her scalp were entwined through her fingers. It made her feel weak. There were a couple of dark years after that. She came up to a busy intersection. Despair. After the incident with the babysitter she remembered how she withdrew for a while. . She dropped her hand and stuffed it into her pants pocket.store she’d been standing in front of. If a cop ever took a statement about what happened between them. 8:30pm. And now her entire eyebrows and lashes were gone. but they were like some kind of memory tumor. Memories of those days always rattled her. They’d be watching her. Savoring the moment as she continued toward Birk Street. They only got juiced about the decline in her school report cards. This wasn’t the best time for that. crossed on the green and headed south.

This meant she was a “puller”. Within minutes she walked up to the corner of Birk and Acton Street. Other people were cutters. The doctor prescribed Zoloft. like swimming in a public pool. In the beginning she tried to only pull from the regions of her body that were less noticeable. Then her head was fair game. As hair thinned. starting above the nape of her neck where it wouldn’t be seen as much and it spread from there. A form of comfort. which she refused to take because she enjoyed being alone. it wasn’t like she wanted a lot of friends because she couldn’t do some of the basic things friends did. She didn’t want to be like everyone else. would her parents notice her then? Would they stop arguing about her? Sarah slowed up about a block and a half from Birk Street. A theatre on Birk was showing the new movie with Al Pacino. A few years back a new doctor diagnosed her with trichotillomania. Then they thought it was a fungal infection. intersecting with the entertainment district. She wondered if she pulled all her hair out. staying away from her head. Everyone would notice the hair loss and she wouldn’t fit in. get her thoughts back to the job at hand. The dark moods were something she didn’t want to discard. Besides. After a moment she started walking again.Her mother had taken her to the doctor to find out why Sarah was losing so much hair and they’d misdiagnosed it as Alopecia areata. happy and fake. She wiped a tear away and took a couple deep breaths. depressed. What did North Face mean? Was the victim going to face north or be on the north side of the street? Then she recalled Birk Street ran east and west. but Sarah was a puller. Sarah had never fit in. To the left she saw a . It was a relatively short street. She had to collect herself. it became harder to find quality strands. They’d become a companion.

Maybe North Face was meant for her to face north. She saw it was 9:10pm from a clock on the wall inside a closed barber shop. a hair color. A sneaking suspicion that the danger Esmerelda referred to only caused her to wonder what the hell she was doing here. She turned to her right and walked down about half a block. She’d have more credibility if she revealed who she really was. She didn’t want to be a public person and she had no trust and a lot of hate for . she reread the note about tonight. she couldn’t. People were milling around the pizza shop waiting for the late show. They could have the street surrounded at this very moment if she told them what was going to happen. but at least on other precognitions she was given an article of clothing. If this was the danger. They never were too clear. Sarah stepped up. Maybe the police should be the ones watching this street. or something specific to watch for. trying to quell her stomach. like Bring Hammer. From her vantage point she could almost see the whole north side of Birk Street. she could be in a lot of trouble. She could smell the pizzas cooking from where she stood. turned around and leaned against it. she thought to herself.convenience store and a Topper’s Pizza. How was she supposed to know who was going to be kidnapped and who was going to do the kidnapping with all these people hanging around? This precognition seemed to have more unknowns than the others. She may not like them or trust them. but not all cops were bad. Not this time. A door sat recessed in a way that it was hidden from the street in shadows. I’m as prepared as she could be. While she waited. including the entrance to the theatre and the pizza joint where it seemed most of the people were converging. She looked up and down Birk Street. So it seemed irrational for her to not involve the police. But yet. The television news anchor would broadcast her as a hero and the other people she saved would verify her story.

She leaned out and glanced in the barber shop window.cops. 9:20pm. but she doesn’t know where. In three minutes. . someone will be kidnapped on this street and not only does she not know who yet.

Enough is enough.Chapter 11 He sat in the passenger seat wondering why his brother was being such a dick. He almost got caught watching her house.” Gert shook his hands back and forth. He was the one barking the orders and he was the one who always got paid more money. You ask.” “Where’s the fun in just kidnapping them? Why can’t we have a little something on the side?” “I’ll tell ya what. Not me. following the girl. Could it be because of the additional charges if we’re ever caught?” “You mean arrested?” . waving that notion off. No way. waiting for their intended victim to show up. “So. The next time I’m talking to the boss. If she was old enough to bleed than she was old enough to breed. You know what the boss thinks of that stuff. He wanted to play around a little with the next girl they took. I don’t ask permission for that. He always obeyed commands because of the respect he had for his older brother. If it hadn’t been for Matt. “Forget it. I think there might be a reason you want permission. he wouldn’t be doing this at all. how about it? Why not?” “No way. But Matt was the one who handled the boss. I think the boss would have you taken out if you were too rough with any of the subjects. He’d done all the hard work on this one. I’ll hand you the phone. They have been staking out the theatre for about an hour. He’d probably be in jail by now. That’s like asking permission to get laid. He didn’t care how old she was.” “Since you’re asking me then. Gert wanted a little something. The subject of his discontent had come up again. only to have his brother knock it down. Personally. scouting the place out.

someone claims you as his bitch and rips you a new one for touching a little girl. Why couldn’t he kidnap these stupid rich teenagers on his own. Something like that. If you never touch the girls then they can only charge you with kidnapping. and now.” Gert looked down at the floor boards. or getting set up. It was time to talk about something else because he didn’t like where this was going. but they’ll have you on a whole slew of sex related charges. You keep the boyfriend off our back. Let’s do this and be quick about it. I'll handle the girl. He was practically doing all of it on his own as it is. we got the go-ahead to move the subject there after we pick her up. Matt smacked his arm and put the car in gear. One of these days he was going to do his own thing. I talked to the boss earlier and it looks like it’s all set up. Those are the ones where you do real time. not only do they get you on kidnapping. “Once we take the girl. dummy. set up the money arrangements and keep every penny for himself. “This is it. You fuck one of them.“Yeah.” “I still want to fuck her. And while you’re doing time.” Gert looked at the dash clock and saw it was 9:21pm. Either way.” . He could even have his way with the girl for a week or two while she was tied up in a basement or a cage. is the place ready for us?” “Yes.

It was a familiar brand.Chapter 12 The area was getting busy as a movie was let out. Both men were staring at the North Face girl as they eased along. She snapped her fingers. It consisted of two edges that looked like an “L” with each tip of the “L” connected by a half circle. as if it was struggling to break a rib. The North Face. Without looking at another clock Sarah was pretty sure it was 9:23pm. . The North Face. get away and hide. Something about the girl bothered Sarah. looked both ways and walked across to the north side. Sarah stared as the couple turned toward the street. She stepped onto the street and went to cross. Darkness covered her. A girl wearing a blue vest and what looked like her date hanging off her shoulder walked right by Sarah. So she did get an identifier for the intended victim and she missed it. Dozens of people were milling around. She had to warn the girl to take cover. Sarah stepped out from the recessed doorway. Her heart skipped and pounded out an extra beat. The streetlights gave off enough light to see the logo on her vest. The girl looked up and locked eyes with her. A dark colored Chrysler pulled away from the curb half a block down and started a slow advance toward the pizza joint. but not the name. but she couldn’t put her finger on the name. She had to get to the other side of Birk Street. Sarah stepped back into the recessed doorway again. That’s the name of the company with the logo on the girl’s vest. She caught her breath when she looked into the windshield of the Chrysler moving her way. The vest was too warm for a night like this. The girl had been right beside her not one minute ago and now she was across the street loitering in a small crowd in front of the pizza shop. waiting to get in for the late show.

Time stood still. Sarah assumed this was to get out of the area fast. She was lost. Mary had turned and ran back to her dad’s car after Sarah pleaded with her to run. They hadn’t spotted her yet. She was being given these messages for a reason. But what about the kidnap victim? Could she live with herself if she didn’t try to stop this? She put one foot in front of the other and started across the road. she’d been chosen. cooling her skin. What could she . This moment was akin to being in the zone. She looked back at the victim. She could make a run for it. ready to pull Mary in as the van trolled by. She had no idea what the reason was. The night air covered her. Somehow. It was the same guy from six months ago. She made it to the other side of Birk just as the two men came out of their car. They’d get there first. The girl was too far away. What she did know was she could do something about it. Sarah felt her call to duty. She would never forget his face. They had parked by the curb.What shocked her was the man sitting in the passenger seat of the car. She recognized him. The two men had pulled to a stop by the sidewalk fifteen feet from the girl and her boyfriend. That was the only reason she escaped his grasp. She couldn’t run and draw attention to herself. One of her most dangerous exploits to date. It had been her first and almost her last. The one who tried to kidnap Mary Bennett. The side door open. He’d ripped her bandanna off her head and then reeled back at the sight of her missing hair. This guy was in a van that night. Sarah remembered how he’d grabbed at her for interfering. Indecision wasn’t an option. She could still get away. The engine was still on.

Both men were watching her now. run. The man she recognized from six months ago looked right at her. There was nothing she could do. she turned and headed towards their idling vehicle. Before she turned away. While they were busy.do now? She had failed. shit. She had to think of something. they felt weak with the power of the adrenaline making them shaky. she saw him slap his partner’s arm. Footsteps pounded hard and fast . Everything seemed to slow down. The girl and her boyfriend had stepped away from a small crowd and were by themselves for a moment standing in front of the theatre doors. It looked rehearsed. She would never get to the car. He’d be on her before she got her hands on the keys. One look over her shoulder told her everything. Her feet faltered a little. So she decided to get rid of their getaway car. staying close to the wall of the building she was passing. She was only a dozen feet from the car. grab the keys. Both men reached into their inner suit jacket pockets in unison. Okay. She looked down at her legs. Their eyes locked. She bolted. turn and pull the keys out and escape in time. It was ruined. Maybe the best thing would be to snatch their car keys. She glanced sideways when she was halfway across the street. reach in. All hope wasn’t lost as long as she was there and the girl hadn’t been taken. Oh. No way. She could see both men were showing badges of some sort. The timing was perfect. Sarah was close enough to hear the two men from the Chrysler say they were police officers. She hustled anyway.

His fingers yanked out at the last second before Sarah closed and locked it. She would’ve normally . She had to take the car. When she looked through the windshield she saw the man’s partner standing in front of the car. they’d still catch her. Gasps of air came from her mouth. She threw her leg at the accelerator. She was an okay driver. They sounded close. Then her index finger felt a button on the underside of the stick. She looked up at him. In the second it took her to think it. but not good yet. Sarah grabbed the stick beside her leg and tried to push the car into drive. He was in. It never happens like this. His touch was coming at any moment. Her pursuer stuck his hand in to keep the door open. The guy was banging on the door’s window with one hand. It was just coming out of her mouth. His other hand was pulling keys out of his pocket. depressed the button and dropped the car into drive. She grabbed the driver’s side door and pulled hard. she was diving into the front seat. Spare keys.behind her. It wouldn’t move. “Get back here. you bitch!” The man’s hand found a small batch of hair sticking out from under the bandanna as the car thrust forward. The driver’s side door pulled away from her arm. Even if she ran up the street. Of all things to pull. The door’s clicked. She put her foot on the brake. Everything was going wrong. The only thing left was the car. They were unlocked She didn’t know when she started to scream. She didn’t waste any energy to look behind her again.

His interest in her died off for the moment. It was covered in blood from where the hair was missing. not kill them. stung hard. Her vision was blurred by the tears the pain was causing. She was supposed to help people. From the corner of her eye she saw someone materialize next to her. A man was now dead because of her actions. Sarah came around to the front of the car. The sudden pain from the loss of hair caused her to wince and reach a hand back to the injury in reflex. She saw the corner of the car clip the guy who’d been standing in front. Then he disappeared from Sarah’s view. A part of her reasoned she would be safe now. She . Pedestrians were coming off the sidewalks. His head bounced against the hood like a basketball. he was dead. His face was a mask of shock like he was dreaming in silence. She could feel something dripping on her shoulder. People had stopped their vehicles. Her stomach started to rebel. She’d killed him. Her eyes watered up. She pulled her hand away from her head. Sarah eased herself out of the car. She did it. That left one hand on the steering wheel. but that many hairs at once. still holding her head where her hair had come out. She couldn’t quell the shaking. As far as Sarah could tell.laughed at the guy for helping her along with what she’d started years ago. She doubled over. Not enough to complete a small turn. She felt faint. A dead man. The man she hit was on the ground. The guy she’d recognized walked past the open driver’s side door. No one would try to hurt her with all these witnesses. nausea coursing through her. She hit the brake pedal and stopped the car. His eyes were open wide. Someone yelled for someone else to call an ambulance.

Her feet felt rooted to the ground. He walked around his partner’s body. She wondered if this was what it felt like when shock set in. “Who are you?” he asked. “I wonder what you would look like with half your face missing.” His eyes were wide. She leaned on the car. but felt too weak. The loud report made her jump and blink. You just made Heaven’s most wanted list. She could faintly hear people screaming.” Sarah couldn’t move. The ‘whoosh’ where the air was torn to allow the bullet passage rang true in her ear. Someone ran past her so close they bumped her arm.” He stood up and stepped closer. Talk to God about it or get in the car. .turned to look at him.” Sarah went to move. move. knelt down and felt for a pulse. you will die for killing my brother. The gun was a foot from her face. Sarah couldn’t answer. the whole time keeping his gun trained on Sarah. swishing back and forth in their sockets. A small entry in your cheek. “I won’t waste another bullet. Now. She wondered if her legs could hold her any longer. half your brains on the street. “Where did you come from? Why did you show up again? Who the fuck are you?” He was shouting now. “Whoever you are. get in the car before these crowds get bigger. It moved a little to the right and discharged. “My gun is loaded with hollowed out bullets. The world had gone crazy. which causes the exit wound to be a gaping hole. He was holding a gun. Then darkness.

On the third ring. rolling pin in hand. to find out why she’d been so persistent in contacting her earlier. She reminded them of just how easy it was for someone to breach security. After ten minutes she could hear people talking outside. She also wanted to talk to Sarah. guarded by security. “Who’s this?” “My name is Esmerelda.Chapter 13 Esmerelda scrunched down against the kitchen cupboards while she waited for the police to arrive. She took a sip from her mug and wondered if she should call Sarah now or tomorrow. She relayed what happened and both officers walked around her trailer. She picked up the note with Sarah’s phone number on it. Tell her parents it was overzealous security or something. they told her they would swing by on an hourly basis for the rest of the night and reminded her that she was in a gated area. An hour passed. Esmerelda decided to call. it was answered. No doubt she would have gotten into trouble from her parents when she arrived home in a police cruiser. which meant the police had shown up. given to her earlier from Dolan who had grabbed it from the cashiers at the front and dialed. It sounded like the guard. Esmerelda fixed herself another cup of tea and scanned the windows to make sure all the curtains were pulled shut. inspecting it for signs of attempted entry or damage. I saw you yesterday at the Psychic Fair when you . The police had come and gone. “Hello?” “Could I speak to Sarah please?” Esmerelda hoped her voice didn’t betray her nervousness following the evening’s police visit and attempted break-in. She wanted to explain the incident to Sarah’s parents as a misunderstanding. such as the example provided earlier today. After finding nothing amiss.

right? You’re the one I saw at the fair.” “Did he say a name?” “No. As soon as he called. .” “Would you be able to describe his voice for me?” “What’s this all about? Why all the sudden interest in my daughter?” Esmerelda turned and switched the phone to her other ear.” “Yes.came to pick your daughter up.” “Trouble?” “How long has she been gone?” “All afternoon and evening. A man. Raspberry scents drifted from her mug beside her. It sounded like Sarah’s mother took a seat on a kitchen chair.” “Well I have no idea how to describe a voice to you. Are you suggesting that someone else called for my daughter and only said they were from the fair?” Esmerelda cleared her throat. She took a deep breath and tried to relax.” “Esmerelda? Why do you people keep calling for Sarah? I don’t want to be rude here. “I’m talking to her mother. Sarah ran out of the house. Esmerelda could hear something scrape on a tile floor. “I’m as puzzled as you are. I would know anyone’s voice over the phone if they were a representative of the fair. All I can say is that it was a man. “Wait a minute.” “Someone else called looking for Sarah?” Esmerelda asked. He said he wanted to talk to Sarah and that he was from the fair.” “What’re you talking about? What could you know to say such a thing?” Through the receiver. I’ve been a member of the Psychic Fair for many years.” “I think Sarah may be in trouble. but this is the second call in one day.” There was a pause. why?” “I think it best if you call the police and go on record that you want to report your daughter as a missing person. “Yes.

I can’t just ask questions and get clear answers. She thought she could help but she’d only done more harm. Esmerelda replaced the phone and stood up. She picked up the remote and turned her little 20 inch Hitachi on. the second one tells me she’s in trouble. I saw her gift and I saw its drawbacks. She expected another visit from the police after that phone call. I merely tried…” “I’m calling the police. today my daughter comes home in a police car accused of breaking into the fair. It was going to be a long night indeed. The line was dead. I’m not involved in any way. an intuition. but the reason I don’t know more is because my ability isn’t absolute. Yesterday Sarah goes to the Psychic Fair. What’s going on?” “Ma’am.” “Gift? Drawbacks? None of this is making sense. Maybe you’ll tell them what you know. Psychic ability is more of a feeling. You have to understand that this sounds crazy. I will call the police and I’ll tell them to pay you a visit.” “You’re kidding right? I saw you yesterday. Goodbye Esmerelda.” A click followed. You’re just like the rest of the false prophets and now you’re calling to tell me my daughter is missing. and then we get two phone calls from the fair looking for her. The news was covering a hit and run in front of a pizza place on Birk Street that just happened. The first one sends her out the door. I tried to warn her yesterday. it means you know something. What do you know about my daughter?” “When I met Sarah.” “I know how this must look. Crews were on sight and witnesses were being paraded in front of the . Since you won’t tell me what you know specifically.” “Okay. Are you talking about the news lady in the river? Do you know what’s happening to my daughter? Was she involved?” “All I know is she’s probably in trouble.“Because you’re telling me this. She walked over to her kitchen and got another pot of tea brewing.

She was definitely Sarah Roberts. A man about seventeen years old said he saw a young woman with a red bandanna driving a Chrysler when it hit and killed a man. .cameras. She knew the bandanna girl from high school a couple years ago. The bandanna girl and another man got in the car and sped off. The news capped the story by saying that the police are now looking for eighteen year old Sarah Roberts for the hit and run murder of an as of yet unidentified male Caucasian. One girl said she’d recognize that face anywhere.

“What do you mean. He walked over and stood in front of the coffee table. He turned and planted himself in the Lazy-Boy opposite the couch. “I got a call from that psychic woman Sarah talked about. missing?” “She left the house hours ago and hasn’t returned. It wasn’t going well. “What psychic woman? From the fair?” “The one from yesterday who Sarah said gave her a reading. They were like roommates who made a commitment to each other to stick it out until their other daughter grew up and moved on. Vivian.” She felt Caleb’s eyes on her.” She picked up her fork again. It’s not like her to come home after midnight. Is there more? Is there something else you want to tell me?” Caleb asked. “That doesn’t qualify as missing. Sometimes she wondered if Caleb did.Chapter 14 Amelia heard Caleb entering the house.” She put her fork down. Their relationship had become routine. What magic they had died years ago with her first born. Sarah’s missing. She said she warned Sarah about some kind of trouble she’d be in. “We need to talk. “You’re home late.” . He had removed his overcoat and was sorting through a pile of mail on the small stand by the front door.” Caleb dropped the envelopes that were in his hand onto the oak coffee table. There wasn’t a day gone by that Amelia didn’t think of her. She sat in the living room trying to work on a piece of apple pie.

” Caleb put his hand up for her to stop. And then you refer to Vivian as if she was your daughter.” “No.” Caleb said while he shook his head back and forth. “That has always bothered me. I saw the look in that woman’s eyes. “Sarah tried to break into the Psychic Fair grounds today. It’s all a crock.” Amelia was aware her voice was rising.” “Correction. we’ve lost one daughter. “You know why?” His eyes bulged. I’m not about to lose another. then why just warn us. “Because there are no psychics.“You’ve got to be kidding. She was mine too. Why not tell us when and where so we could prevent it?” He raised his hand in the air like he just discovered a lost secret. “She just went to the fair yesterday. Amelia. We all grieve in our own way. She turned and faced Caleb. “I’m sorry. A man called just before Sarah left. tell me you’re joking. How did she get our number?” “That’s not all. It’s a very personal thing for me. You feel I was less of a mother. Amelia got up from the couch and dropped her plate with the remainder of the apple pie on top of the mail. . If this is real and she knew about the danger. We picked her up.” “What’s going on? I knew that fair was a mistake from the beginning. Tell me what you mean Caleb. I’ve already lost one daughter. “She called here.” “She advised me to call the police. She touched her chest a couple of times with her hand. then it’s either a coincidence or that woman is involved in some way. If this psychic woman said Sarah was in danger and then something happened to Sarah.” Caleb put his hands on either side of his head and gripped his hair in frustration.” “You know what I mean. He said he was from the fair too. I know you blame me for losing Vivian that day. He didn’t give a name. I don’t. Security caught her and sent her home with the police and a stern warning.” Amelia said.

We need to figure out what’s going on with Sarah.” Caleb’s face dropped. I don’t think this is the best time to discuss our feelings. we have no pictures on the walls. “I never mean to exclude you. ‘I can’t lose two daughters’. there may be a point where we shouldn’t tell her. We could’ve told her about her sister. I can’t lose two daughters. like you’re the only parent.” Amelia walked back around and sat down on the couch.” Amelia used the back of her hand to wipe a tear away. but we can’t even talk about Vivian aloud because we have to keep it from Sarah. “Okay. so should we call the police?” Caleb looked like he was thinking. This is insane. which I don’t agree with anymore. Now look at the problems it’s presenting. “They may take it as jumpy since she’s only been gone a few hours.” He folded his hands behind his head. I know she’s eighteen. “There you go again. I think about her as my little girl. Since we decided to not tell Sarah about her sister until she was older. Over the years those memories became so personal. I’m beginning to wonder if we made the right choice in the first place. but kept his face aiming down. they became my memories alone. She’s got enough problems with that notebook and her hair pulling. but she acts fourteen.” Amelia stepped away from the couch. He raised his eyes to look at her.When I think of her. “I don’t want to tell her yet. I think we should wait a couple more years. She stood behind it and crossed her arms. The only memories are in a chest in the basement and in my head. He frowned. And now Sarah isn’t home at this late hour and we’re panicking. just not how she was killed.” “If we keep waiting.” . “We’ve gone over this before. She’ll wonder if she could trust us after keeping such a secret for so long. unclasped his hands and rubbed his chin. I think we argued enough last night about the fact that we let her go to that stupid fair. We only recently helped her out of her depression. Besides.

“I wonder who would text me at this hour?” he said. She watched as he grabbed his jacket and pulled his cell phone from the inside pocket. Right after that. Then he read it out loud. Caleb hopped up and jumped around the end table. Sarah said she was going to meet Mary. or something like that. The phone rang when we were in her bedroom looking for it. Then she goes out and saves people. “Hi dad.” “We can’t be this far out of the loop. when she ran out.” “I’m going to call her and straighten this out right now. It should be on call display.A familiar beeping started to come from his suit jacket by the front door. It was the guy from the fair. it’s Sarah. Love Sarah. She said Sarah writes prophecies in her notebook.” “Do you have Mary’s phone number?” “I think so. she left. Mom knows who she is. I thought I’d let you know that I’m staying at Mary’s house tonight.” “This is unbelievable. Are you talking about our Sarah?” Amelia nodded. She called before Sarah arrived home in a police car. Don’t worry.” “Who’s Mary?” Caleb asked. “We talked on the phone earlier today. Did you ask Sarah about what Mary said? Where’s her notebook?” “Sarah said she lost it. Apparently Mary is someone Sarah saved from being kidnapped six months ago.” “What did she want?” “She told me some interesting things. He pulled his iPhone out of its case and clicked the button to open the text messages section. “Come to think of it. See you in the morning.” .

She had to stay alert. She needed to get untied so she could . She could tell it wouldn’t be heard too well outside the trunk of a moving car. Then she opened her mouth to scream. Find some hair in a sensitive spot and drag it out slowly.Chapter 15 Sarah woke up to darkness. Her head pounded from the area where the hair was pulled out. She tried to swish her feet back and forth. What did I get myself into? The reality of the situation hit her like a head-on collision. she struggled harder and tried to scream again. “Help!” She yelled. Panting and gasping for air. she thought. She started to feel light headed. showing her where the taillights were. The car hit a bump in the road. Rapid breaths from her nose weren’t enough to sate her lungs. She was tied up in a trunk. He didn’t gag her. And she’d just killed someone. Her shoulder flared up in pain making her wince. Pain heightened around the area of her wrists when she moved them. Her captor was stupid. The weight of the situation felt too heavy to carry. but her ankles were bound and numb too. or worse. She tried to move her hands but couldn’t. Deeper breathing was keeping her awake. She realized quite fast she was in the trunk of a car. She also felt numbness. That would help to calm her down. Nothing much higher than a nasal screech came out. She wished she could pull. A soft red glow eased through the darkness. She started to feel her lungs starving. A victim of a kidnapper. When her head moved she felt the dried and crusty blood on the back of her neck.

painful ones. The man standing there flicked one on. It sounded like gravel crunching under the tires moments before it stopped. She struggled to hold her breath so she could listen to sounds from the outside. That’s one thing my brother taught me. instantly blinding her. She opened her eyes. She didn’t know what to expect. The car door opened. She clenched her eyelid closed and shook her head. Either he was approaching a traffic light or he was stopping the car. She felt the weight adjust as the driver got out. The other side of her face had bumped the bottom of the trunk when the force of whatever hit her drove it down. They still worked. The taste of blood. The engine started to wind down. She couldn’t suppress the moans that found their way out her . Would he shoot her in the trunk? What she didn’t expect was the flashlight. A mild headache flared. Her heart beat a rhythm in her ear canal. Her arms and legs screamed in protest.” Rough hands grabbed her shirt and lifted her up a little.” Then a flash of lightning flared in her head when she felt something like a brick hit her. The trunk lid popped open. She had never known such pain in all her eighteen years. Her whole face was on fire now. Things would look different if an eye socket or cheek bone were broken. It remained an inch above the lock until fingers slid through the crack and lifted it. She couldn’t help it.pull. She screamed in retaliation of the pain. “Never try to scream from the trunk again. A coppery taste was in her mouth. There are many ways to die. You don’t want the messy. Follow the rules. A bead of sweat rolled into her eye. “Rules. The pain was almost unbearable.

. I’ll teach you what screaming really is. So I expect you to follow the rules I set. but I got that girl from six months ago…I have no idea why she was there…this is so fucked up…what am I going to do without Matt. She curled into a ball and wept. She landed awkwardly on her arms.” Then a pause. You weren’t the intended target. Sarah cried in the darkness until she fell asleep. His face was less than a foot from hers now. He was moving away from her.” He shoved her backwards. “That’s just it…where do you want me to dump her body?” Then he was too far away. The pain took forever to let up. She waited. “I’ve broken a few rules for you already today. “Hello. She found the danger Esmerelda had warned her about. I’ve never done this alone. he’d shut the trunk lid. the adrenaline eased its way out of her system. twisting her left elbow. Her head smacked the back of the open trunk lid right where he’d removed the clump of hair. an odd thought struck her. The car door slammed shut moments later and they were moving again. straining to hear more.” She heard his voice decrease in volume. “Matt’s dead…I know.throat. with the pain coursing through every nerve. no screaming. Rule number one. By the time she could think to right herself. In that moment. what was rule number two? She could hear a cell phone ringing. The next time you scream for anybody. Through the thin metal of the trunk she heard him answer it.

no more than . If she wanted to sell to him she had to play along. Everyone in the State knew that. She didn’t have to like it. Why would this sale be any different? She also understood the routine. This one was going to be her biggest sale to her richest and most notorious contact. Ward on a number of other arrangements in the past. Something unidentifiable was burning on the stove in the back. The pub would be closing soon. She sat at the bar of an American version of a pub. two sentries guarding the inside of a restaurant. He was the kind of man who pitied the mob and they knew it. She took a deep swig of her drink. entered the pub. She was thirty minutes early for the meeting. Her stomach moved around at the smell of greasy food. She looked around at the half empty pub and thought about all the deals she had done in the past. Or maybe she was being too kind. He was short. just play along. Denise took another long sip and watched the men who had taken a position on either side of the door. She wanted her nerves rested for this meeting. Then they continued scanning the small restaurant. Good. This one reeked like the cook hadn’t cleaned a thing in months. She smirked at the thought of how nervous she was. She had dealt with Mr. Ward. It looked rather odd. The front door opened and two large men dressed in suits and matching crew cuts.Chapter 16 Denise Hall ordered a glass of brandy. she thought. She knew she was safe. They looked around until both pairs of eyes stopped on Denise. A waitress approached them only to be waved off. She lifted her sleeve back and read the time. You didn’t want to be late for Mr.

Ward’s car was not there. No surprise. One of the men reached under her arm. Single bulbs hung with strings attached. Either the walls were painted black and were decaying after years of moisture or they were covered in mold.” “Now.” the taller one grunted.five feet tall. with a large net worth. She wouldn’t let them take her dignity. . Another larger man stood in front of a back door of what looked like a Chinese restaurant. It was only a business transaction. If she hadn’t dealt with him before. Even so. just like before. she felt fear creep along her nerve endings. her drink in hand. He put it away and nodded to the other. watching her approach. she thought. So Hollywood. Nothing else to worry about. He was alone. “Let me finish my drink. And sometimes she wondered about people in India. half lifting her to her feet. Mr. Stand. She took another drink from her glass as one of the men at the door responded to a cell phone.” Again. It was too dim to see for sure. this would be quite intimidating. They entered a dank basement. She was hustled to the door and taken outside to the cool early July morning. It was always the same. Maybe that was why she didn’t talk to her mother anymore. Sometimes Denise wondered about the ethics of what she was doing. Mr. They broke from sentry duty and walked to Denise’s table. They hustled her in and down a dark set of stairs. The trio turned right and then into an alleyway. “Come with us. The kind that required better security than the President. Who cared about everyone else? Look out for number one and in the end you die. Ward sat behind a table near the far wall. She put the glass to her lips.

“Sit,” he said, gesturing with his hand to the wooden grade school chair in front of the table. The apes on each side of her fell away and she once again had full use of her feet. She set the brandy glass on the table. “Do you have the package?” Mr. Ward asked. He was one of those men who always talked with a smile. Like he was the only one who knew the inside joke. “I got confirmation earlier. That’s why I called to meet you.” He stared at her through sunglasses so dark she couldn’t see his eyes. Denise thought the tough guy thing was an act. He had to keep his employees remembering who the boss was. “How am I to expect delivery?” “I’m having a discrete location renovated to keep your package safe. The renovations will be done today and the package will be arriving there tomorrow. I’ll call then and set up the arrangements.” “The money will be wired to an account of your choice. When you call with the package location, tell my men where you want the money. Once I confirm possession of the package, the money will transfer, as usual.” Denise nodded. Same routine. She knew this meeting was a formality. She stood up to go. Anything to get off the hard wooden school chair. “May I go now?” she asked. Mr. Ward nodded. She turned and started to walk, this time unaided by the gorillas that helped her to the meeting. When she reached the stairs, she looked back at Mr. Ward. He hadn’t moved an inch. “I wanted to say that this package is different. It’s caused me a lot of trouble. This one is a real piece of work. I hope you’re going to be happy.” “I’ll worry about my emotions,” Mr. Ward said with his trademark smile.

Denise headed up the stairs, trailing the smell of chicken fried rice, her stomach in knots.

Chapter 17 The sound and rhythm of the car had a soothing quality. Every breath she took, every second that went by was another second she was alive. She knew the driver recognized her from Mary’s kidnapping. She also suspected that was the reason she wasn’t dead yet. He would want to find out why she had shown up twice. He would probably try to extract this information through violence, she thought. I don’t want to think about things like that though. I’ll deal with whatever comes as it happens. The engine slowed. She could feel the brakes being applied. The car turned onto a gravel road as her bladder was about to burst. Rocks careened off the wheel well by her head. The car turned again and came to a stop. Then silence. She had no idea where they were. He could very well open the trunk, pull her out, shoot her in the face and throw her body behind a tree. She squeezed her eyes shut. Can’t keep thinking like that, she chided herself. The trunk lid sprung open. With caution, she opened her eyes. It was dark outside. She could see a solitary light as high as one found on any city street. Rough hands gripped her under the shoulders. She was yanked from the trunk and dropped on the gravel. The sting was intense. Her arms and legs felt rubbery. She just wanted to lie there and rest with a morphine drip attached to her. She saw the glint of a blade. Before she realized he had a knife, its arc came swift. Her ankles fell apart. She twisted her head away as he came toward her face. She felt a slight tug and then her hands dropped apart. The driver walked away. She followed his footsteps with her gaze. He got to the front of a cabin, fidgeted with the door and opened it. He flicked a light on inside the building and turned to face her from the porch. “If you’re thinking about running, there’s no place to go. Scream if you like,

no one will hear you. Although, I wouldn’t because that would defy rule number one. We’re miles away from civilization.” Sarah got a feeling he was enjoying himself. Something had changed. He was grinning. “You should make yourself comfortable while you still can. There isn’t much time for you left.” If he wanted to kill her he would have done it right away. He would have dumped the body and been done with it. Keeping a hostage requires a lot more work. “I’ll give you one minute to get in here,” he said and then disappeared into the cabin. She looked around and saw trees surrounding the area. She eyed the road. It turned away from her and was lost in darkness. Off in the distance she could hear what sounded like transport trucks on a highway. She looked back at the cabin. He was watching her from a window to the right of the door. She tried to get to her feet. They worked, but with protest. She stood with the support of the car. The effort caused pain to flare up in her face where he had hit her. She knew she couldn’t outrun him. He was watching her and she was sure his minute deadline was looming. No point in testing him so early. She started for the cabin door. How could the precognition be so wrong? Why was she here? She knew she was eighteen, but she felt small and needy. After all the people she had saved, who was coming to save her?

She rubbed her hands together as if she was putting lotion on them. He looked at her and shook his head back and forth.” “Well. I forgot that it’s another cell phone. I’m sorry if I’ve disturbed you at such an hour. She jumped and swung her head to look at Caleb. Actually. but has snuck out of her . He motioned for her to answer it. No one’s picking up the phone. asking them to call us.” Amelia said as she replaced the receiver.Chapter 18 “I can’t get an answer. Whoever sent us that message used a cell that I can call. “There.” Caleb didn’t try to stop her.” Caleb felt his wife watching him as he lifted the phone to his ear.” Caleb’s thumb worked the tiny keys. “She’s out past her curfew. “I can’t sit around. Sarah isn’t home and its past midnight. I’m calling every number on my daughter’s phone to see if I can find her. “Machine”. He flipped open the cover and started pressing buttons. she was home. “Hello?” “My name is Jack Bennett. “Dead end. She shook her head and handed the phone to him. “What’re you doing?” “Why didn’t I think of it before? I don’t know how I missed it. They both waited. He dropped the phone from his ear.” Caleb got up and grabbed his cell. I don’t care what they’re going to say.” She stood up and grabbed the phone again. When we sent those replies to the phone where the text came from. what do we do now?” Amelia asked.” “You mean your daughter’s missing?” Caleb asked. got it. “It’s been an hour since we got the text. “I’m calling the police. The phone rang in her hand.

It was agreed that if one of the daughters contacted any of them. Caleb said goodbye and hung up. Caleb figured she wasn’t really tuning in to the retro game show blaring out how to win ten thousand dollars. She refused to go to sleep with her daughter still out. A half hour later he stepped into the living room to find her asleep sitting up. He forgot to ask why Jack hadn’t picked up the phone when they’d called his number over the last hour. It was assumed that both girls were probably together. Something all teenagers did. He’d been waiting for her to fall asleep. and dialed the number he had in his cell memory. Have you spoken to her? Do you have a daughter who would know where she is?” Caleb talked with Jack for a few minutes.bedroom. they would phone each other. Instead she turned on the television and sat staring at it. He had a phone call he wanted to make in private. and since the police told Mr. Caleb tried to talk Amelia into resting on the bed. . they all decided to wait until the morning. her head dangling to the side. A certain someone who would know where Sarah might be. I’m calling around to see if anyone who knows her would tell me where she may be. Bennett he couldn’t file a missing persons report yet.” “What’s your daughter’s name?” “Mary Bennett. He made his way to the basement.

” “Okay. It’s just.” “Sarah sent me. A man whispered her name. a knock or a bang of some kind. It read 3:14am.” The guard turned and Esmerelda could hear him ask what her name was again. “Are you aware of the hour?” “I know and I’m sorry to bother you. He had a teenage girl with him.” Esmerelda shook her head. She says it’s urgent. says that she has information for you about your daughter. She felt reasonably sure whoever was standing outside wouldn’t see her because she didn’t have any lights on. get me to let you into my trailer just to tell me where my daughter may be living or some other trivial piece of information. Who would be at her door at this hour? She walked down the hall until she reached a window. like what?” “Maybe we should talk in your trailer. I just have something to tell you about her. She was sure she heard something.Chapter 19 Esmerelda rolled off and knelt down beside her bed.” Esmerelda looked past the guard and into Mary’s eyes. here.” . Esmerelda walked to the door and opened it. your daughter. “How do you know my daughter?” “I don’t know her. She looked over at the digital alarm clock. Whatever you have to say. She glared along the narrow hallway of her trailer. She’s the one who told me to come to you about Denise Hall. A soft rapping on the trailer door. He knocked again. “You can’t come here at this hour. this girl. Then it came again. It was the security guard from the gate. “Mary. parted the curtains and looked out. you can say it out here.

“Wait a second. “How would she know about Denise? How could my daughter be involved with Sarah?” “I’m not exactly sure how it works.” Mary shook her head.Esmerelda stepped back. Like when I met her. It’s usually bad stuff. She said that Denise might get hurt too. Things she has a chance to avert. I tried to warn her when she came to see me. “Come in inside so we can talk. opposite Mary. The security guard turned to Mary. She saved me from being kidnapped. After their falling out when her husband died. It pained her too much to discuss the love of her life and how it had been destroyed. Esmerelda motioned for Mary to take a seat.” She edged past the guard and gripped Mary’s arm.” . “Can I get you anything?” “No. You don’t mean the same Sarah who broke in here this afternoon.” Before shutting the trailer door.” “It’s not just her though. she thanked the security guard and bade him good night. She flicked on a table lamp beside the couch and looked back at her guest. she stopped talking about Denise to anyone. Most of her current friends weren’t aware she even had a daughter. Esmerelda cut in.” Esmerelda sat back and raised a hand to her lips where she absently started nibbling on a nail.” Esmeralda tried to rub the sleep from her eyes. thank you. All I know is she gets told things about people.” Esmerelda came around and sat in her armchair. “I know that. Her fingers gripped the door frame. “Where do you want to start?” “I think Sarah is in trouble. No one even knew her daughter’s name. “It's okay. do you?” “I wouldn’t know anything about that.

” “Sarah said she wouldn’t be as effective if everyone knew who she was. no.Esmerelda sprung forward. She said she never really trusted anyone before. That could be risky. “Why? They’re already investigating a hit and run on Birk Street. She knew it would be late before she got home and wondered if I would text her parents saying she was sleeping over.” “Wait. Sarah asked explicitly to not get the police involved. “She saved you? Are you saying she gets these messages and changes the future? She actually does something about it. We’ve got to tell them what we know. She also told me to tell you that Denise is your daughter and she will be shot if not today. She said that helping people had given her purpose after a number of years of depression. Esmerelda got up and grabbed the hands free phone.” “Did you send the text?” Mary nodded her head. A witness said it was Sarah Roberts who drove the car.” Mary went on to tell her about how Sarah intervened six months ago and saved her from a certain kidnapping. “Sarah was on her way to stop another kidnapping tonight. she told you a lot. How she offered Sarah her phone number. She said you might be able to help.” Esmerelda’s thumb hovered. even dangerous. “We have to call the police. with a promise to repay her in any way. it’ll be tomorrow. That way she could return home after midnight and say to her mom that we fought so she decided not to stay out.” . She doesn’t want to stop. but recently felt nervous for her own safety. But Sarah didn’t use the number until yesterday when she called for help.” “How do you know that?” “It was on the news a few hours ago.” “She admitted that.” “Wow.

“That’s it. I’m calling the police.” .

She’d spent the night falling in and out of sleep on the hard wood floor. She looked to the left and saw fresh screws at the base of the wooden window. Then she understood. The door to her room banged open. She shifted and moved but couldn’t find a level of comfort. On top of the desk was a small stack of paperback books.Chapter 20 Sarah stirred to consciousness. she saw barren grass for about a hundred yards and then a wall of trees. In the corner by the window sat an old looking desk and a wooden chair. She needed to get her hands on that screwdriver. A couple of screws lay beside it. The cabin sat silent. Her wrists and ankles were shackled to a heavy iron bed frame in one of the two rooms of the cabin. She looked at the storm window. Outside. She saw the edge of a screwdriver. He hadn’t just nailed the windows shut. It looked like he was going through something internally that was driving . “What’re you doing?” Sarah looked up at him but didn’t speak. Her captor planned on keeping his intended victim here. She guessed the time to be around 6:00am. She dropped back to her knees and rolled onto her side. He was unshaven and had bloodshot eyes. he’d screwed them down. Sunlight streamed through the old storm window of the room. Everything ached. She leaned forward and slid the handcuffs up the iron rod to the top. Something sparkling in the sunlight on the window ledge caught her eye. The strain on her wrists was becoming more than she could bear. This allowed her to be in a kneeling position about waist high. blinding her. She pushed herself a little harder against her restraints to get a better look. She cocked an ear but heard nothing.

him mad. She also wanted to grab the screwdriver when he turned his back.” He said this last part while his arm pointed at the door. use the bathroom and eat. No chance to grab the screwdriver now. “You think you’re smart. dropped down and produced a key. Her captor watched her intently. Well. “What is the matter with you? Why are you missing all that hair? You got cancer or something?” Sarah shook her head. If you try to signal anyone. . In seconds. Ten minutes later after using the bathroom to clean the caked blood on the back of her neck and readjusting her bandanna. do I make myself clear?” Startled by his outburst. Then you’re tied up and in the trunk again. let me help you. Maybe he’d give her enough time to drive it into his back. It had become an unconscious activity. Sarah was free. It was almost like he was undressing her with his eyes. trying to get those restraints undone. One look at her fingers revealed hair as it fell from them. He walked over to her. and you’ll pay that debt in pain. don’t you? You’re in here moving around. She wanted to show fear. If you hear me tell you to stay quiet. She was pulling again. Last chance at a civilized rest stop. “Go to the bathroom. She would swear he looked rabid. He looked at her. trust me. you’ll cost them their life. He hadn’t taken his eyes off her the whole time. “I undid you so you can come out. Let’s go. “I said. She scampered on her butt up against the wall by the window.” He rushed over. she stuttered her compliance. she was eating sandwiches at a wooden dinner table. then you do it. We’re on the move. Do I make myself clear?” Sarah nodded. bewilderment creased his brow.

are you?” She looked over at him as he crossed the room and checked the integrity of the window. She had to get her breathing under control. leaning against the wall. She lunged forward and then stopped. “What’re you doing? Trying the windows. He yelled for her. and stopped in front of the window. “I said. He turned to her and placed his gun against the skin of her temple. She spun into a corner of the room and jammed the tool into her right front pocket of her jeans. Her hand tightened on the handle of the screwdriver and held it to her chest. grab the screwdriver. hide it somewhere and get back to the table before he noticed.He told her he was going to make a phone call and that he would be right outside the cabin door for a few minutes. they would be leaving. When he finished the call. “Get up. She brushed past the door to the room she’d been in. Before her hand came out. the screwdriver nicked the inside of her palm. Sarah ducked her head down.” . She knelt down. He jumped into the room. get up.” She remained on her knees. Where could she hide it? The cabin door banged open. He stepped out and secured the door behind him. No time to waste. She had to walk all the way to the back of the cabin. She jumped from her chair and bolted to the back of the cabin as her joints shot pain through her legs. his gun drawn. She didn’t want to stand in front of him for fear he’d see the impression the screwdriver was making on her jeans. whimpering. The screwdriver was still in her hand.

you do it or you get hurt.” With a struggle. She fell hard. Then his foot came out and knocked hers away from the floor. she got to her knees and then to her feet. When I say something. He rushed her. “Get up. Now walk. She had time to duck her head. Her wrists and ankles were free of restraint. The trunk lid came down fast. It appears you can learn a thing or two. He popped the trunk and motioned for Sarah to crawl in. Evidently her pain pleased him. He shoved her hard and fast. Then his hands were on her back. She tried angling herself to avoid the tool in her pocket doing any further damage. “Good. landing on her stomach before she could get her hands out in front to absorb most of the fall. Understood?” She nodded her head.” A minute later they were outside. but not before she saw him smiling. She was lifted by her shirt and shoved towards the door. . She maneuvered in a way to pull the screwdriver out and started working on her escape. “I can see you will need to be taught a few lessons. In the chaos of leaving the cabin he forgot to tie her up.She shook her head. She thought he must have lost his balance because he fell into her. but banged her right shoulder against the top of the trunk which caused a high pitched cry to escape her lips. A grunt escaped her lips as the tool in her pocket jabbed hard just below her hips. she thought to herself. Go to the car and stand in front of the trunk.

Sarah’s still not home. But maybe she should be let in on this? He turned around and headed for the living room. I’ve called the plant and told them I wouldn’t be in for a few days.” . her neck twisted on the arm rest. Do you have coffee on?” He looked at his watch. why don’t you wake up. “What time is it?” “Nine-thirty in the morning. It’s in the kitchen. have a shower and get dressed and I’ll be back before you know it. She had to do it her way. take these.Chapter 21 Caleb started for the door.” Amelia moved her head back and forth. He made his decision. Look. He stopped at the door.” “Give me a minute. He was losing time. If he told her what the caller said about Sarah this morning. She began massaging below her jaw as she winced. It’s nine-thirty in the morning. “I made some coffee. “I’ve got a splitting headache. he was going to do it his way. If he was going to get his daughter back. “Amelia. wake up. “Here. Can you get me some tablets?” Caleb was back a minute later with pills and water. Every minute was important.” She grunted a reply and turned to ease the pressure on her neck. His wife lay sprawled at a crooked angle on the couch. Have a shower and we’ll talk about what to do. He wasn’t sure if she was saying ‘no’ or trying to get the muscles moving again. The police didn’t help when Vivian was kidnapped and murdered years ago and he was convinced they wouldn’t this time either. Did he really want to do this without Amelia? Would she understand? Could he tell her about the phone calls? It was always a fight with Amelia. she would be hysterical.

“Are you Caleb Roberts?” Caleb nodded. They looked like cops. Clean cut. Can I help you?” Were they coming to tell him that Sarah was found dead? He shook his head to banish the thought. I’ll get it.” Caleb said. What had Sarah gotten herself into? Could she have actually killed a man? “Can we come in?” . “Stay here. He lifted his hand to ward off the rising sun from going directly into his eyes. Caleb opened the door and offered a greeting. Goatee flipped through a notepad and asked. “Yes. stunned. They identified themselves as police officers. Both wore suits. If you know where Sarah is. Is something wrong? Is there anything I can help you with?” Goatee looked at his partner and then back to Caleb. One man was watching the street. A man was killed in a hit and run. who watched this as best he could with the sun glaring at him. He rushed to the door. Maybe that’s why she didn’t come home.“Where’re you going?” The doorbell interrupted them.” Caleb felt his hand shaking as he held it up to block the sun. I’ve got the text to prove it on my cell phone. “There was an incident downtown in the Entertainment District. She was in a jail cell. there must be a mistake because my daughter slept at a friend’s house last night. There were witnesses who put your daughter at the scene. one sporting a goatee.” “A man was killed?” Caleb asked. But then these guys would know that. “Well. “Would your daughter Sarah be home?” “Not right now. it’s in her best interest to meet with us so we can straighten this out. the other was looking at the peephole. When he looked through the peephole he saw two men.

“I’m afraid that finding your daughter is a priority and we would rather do that with your cooperation.” He’d decided earlier there would be no police on this.Goatee took a step forward. I understand I may appear a little apprehensive. Caleb had checked him out.” “And why would that be Mr. If anything. This morning he got his return call. introverted girl that I can’t really believe all of your witnesses. Leave me a number where I can reach you and when we talk to our daughter. “It’s not that simple. What they said she’s done is extremely unlikely.” Goatee turned and put his hand out. he finds missing children and he has a good success rate. He’d recognize it anywhere. Caleb had other plans. Dolan wasn’t going to help with locating Sarah. So I need to ask. The other call told him not to involve the police. I’ll get to the bottom of this and then we’ll call you.” Goatee spoke first. It’s just. Roberts?” “It’s my wife. the police would not be a part of his daughter’s welfare. We’ll make some calls. or Sarah would die. she’s such a shy. are you hiding Sarah?” “Look. She’s not feeling well. I’ll talk to my wife. Especially not after the two phone calls he got this morning. There’s more to this than a car accident. His partner placed the notebook in his hand. Caleb had left a message for Dolan last night after Amelia had fallen asleep. . Today. even though that’s what he does. “Do you recognize this? Is it Sarah’s notebook?” Caleb nodded. Caleb blocked his way.” “What else is there?” “We found a notebook at the scene. they’d just bungle shit up. “Right now wouldn’t be the best time.

which we already knew.” Could Sarah be a part of something this diabolical? “Tell him the rest. We believe your daughter has some involvement in these kidnappings. Remember. Somehow. She says that her daughter is going to be shot in the next day or so. We are going to have to find Sarah quite fast to stop this. The odd thing was she was told that her daughter was in trouble too. It looks like Sarah’s planning something. A thought was stirring in the back of his mind.” Caleb couldn’t control the waver in his voice.“We scanned through it and found references to kidnappings. Caleb looked down and saw a word circled numerous times. before she does further damage. He also saw save yourself beside it. this whole thing has to do with the Psychic Fair. She’s either psychic or she plans the accidents and then tries to save people. based on the dated entries. We don’t know what to believe. she appears to know what’s going to happen and when. He also wanted to talk Dolan into helping. Mr. this notebook was found at a murder scene where witnesses put your daughter at and now we have confirmation from you that it is in fact Sarah Roberts’ notebook. Do you understand why we have to find her now. . “We got a call a couple of hours ago from a woman who claims she’s from the Psychic Fair in town. She told us that your daughter was in some kind of trouble. “What are you saying?” “There are references to Kim Wepps who was kidnapped and held for ten days.” Goatee’s partner said.” Goatee had opened the notebook to the last page of writing. accidents and crime scenes. In some cases. information that only people investigating those crime scenes would know. Roberts. He had wanted to corner that woman Esmerelda and make her fess up for her prophecy of danger. He lowered his head to block the sun and saw the name ‘Dolan’.

Dolan won’t even see him coming. .

loosening the bulb. With the little light coming into the trunk now she could work on the lock mechanism. The sound of the highway racing by under the car was a steady drone. Her tiny jail gained a small amount of sunshine from outside. Dead end. She guessed he’d wanted to make a phone call on his cell without her hearing anything.Chapter 22 Sarah held on to the screwdriver by the cold steel shaft as she shifted her position. “You awake back there?” She jumped and almost dropped the screwdriver when she heard his voice coming from the front of the car. she wondered? The next time her kidnapper went to let her out he’d stumble upon what she did to the brake light and the trunk cover unless she could replace everything . with nothing but sore hands. The red plastic brake light cover was all she could see. she looked through the small hole where the brake wire had previously been. All her efforts were useless. After what she thought was a minute or so she heard him talking. Besides. what could she do if she popped the trunk open while they were going sixty miles an hour on the open highway. exposing the back of the brake light assembly. She had no idea what difference it would make whether she was sleeping or not. She didn’t answer him. She removed all the thumb screws she could feel in the dark and then pulled the liner toward her. With the bulb in her hand. After at least five minutes. His quiet mumbling wasn’t coherent by the time it reached her in the trunk anyway. The hole was too small to accommodate her hand. A small hole to nothing. Her hands slid along the smooth velvety surface of the trunk liner until she came upon the plastic thumb screws directly behind the brake lights. she gave up. This helped her as she tugged on the brake wires.

From her limited view of the outside she could see they were on a two lane highway. and in the same instant she fumbled the screwdriver. The cop was pulling them over. Shit. “What’re you doing back there?” Her stomach did a flip. letting it go. the screwdriver was knocked from her hand. As much as she hated cops. she thought. that was my only weapon. The floor of the trunk was merciless. She took the end of the screwdriver and slid it through the hole where the brake light had been. Sarah dropped her head back to the hole she’d made and saw the police car had its lights on. this may be a chance to get away from a maniacal twist creep. Her right shoulder was on fire. Somehow. she was making this worse on herself. A corner popped loose. She couldn’t believe the sheer coincidence when her eyes spied upon a police cruiser following them. One was big enough to make her wince. More bumps hit the wheels. The brake cover gave way and was lost to gravity as they hit the bumps. Here was her chance. The car hit a couple small potholes adding pressure to her shoulders. She had thrust hard to dislodge the rest of the plastic. trying to get it to break off. She applied pressure to the top corners of the red cover. Gravel kicked the wheel wells as he pulled onto the shoulder. followed by another. the energy in her arm waning. She could only hope he pulled them over for a missing taillight. It clanged to the road and disappeared from view. She turned and looked at the underside of the trunk lid. The road was starting to get bumpier.exactly as it was. Sarah angled herself to get a better look outside. Maybe she could signal someone driving behind them. . They hit what felt like speed bumps in the road and at that exact moment. She rolled around for a better position and pushed harder. with little to no traffic.

” . She raised her hand to wipe it away. One of my errands in town was to get that fixed. I want to get a look at that bulb. I will teach you the definition of torture. Then Sarah felt her nerves vibrate her limbs when she heard the officer speak again. If you signal that cop. “I know you can hear me. Listen and believe me when I say that I can make you die slowly. I knew it was loose. Should she scream and take her chances? She barely breathed as she waited to see what would come next.This would all be over in minutes.” Sweat ran into Sarah’s eyes. I want to explore all of my sexual fantasies on you first.” Silence followed for a few seconds. “Open up your trunk.” She heard his car door open as he got out. “What can I do for you officer?” He was using a fake accent. “I saw your brake light cover fly off. That’s a long way to head into town up here in Alabama.” “Your plates say you’re from Florida. Thought I’d pull you over to let you know you also lost what looked like a screwdriver a little ways back there. “Yeah.

” Amelia shook her head. Two guys with all these questions about religion.” Amelia turned toward him. “Where’re you going to go?” “I’m not sure yet. I’m going to jump in the car and go find her.” “Why don’t you call hospitals? Maybe she was admitted somewhere last night. Your eyes are glancing left and .” Caleb lied. That’s the last place she’d be. Then he thought better of it. Caleb watched her as she turned the volume down low and searched for the local news. I’ll start with Mary’s dad and then work through the few friends Sarah has. I’ll be in the car driving around. Caleb? Let me rephrase that. Are we okay? Are we acting like parents with a daughter that didn’t come home last night?” “What do you think?” “I look at your hands and they’re shaking. Amelia picked up the remote control and flipped the television on. I guess. Why don’t you call the hospitals?” “Because.” “Is there anything new about Sarah? Has she called from Mary’s?” “Nothing yet.” “Are you okay. She used the back of the couch to get into a sitting position.” He looked away as Amelia glared at him. “I think I’ll give that Psychic Fair a visit.” “What are you going to do?” Caleb asked. “Who was at the door?” she asked. “Jehovah witnesses. It was hard to get them off the porch. “Get rid of this headache and start making some phone calls.Chapter 23 Amelia hadn’t moved when Caleb walked back into the living room. “Sarah wouldn’t be there. “You seem full of all the answers this morning.

” he shouted. For his daughter’s life.right. “You have to ask yourself what you’re doing as a parent to get your daughter back. How could she be so selfish? Sarah didn’t come home last night. we’ll get our Sarah back. I’m going to stop there first. he would keep the police out of this as long as he could. “You know that’s not the case.” “No! Don’t do that. He wanted to laugh at the craziness of it all.” Caleb couldn’t hold it in any longer.” “How can you be so sure? Are you aware of something I’m not?” Caleb asked. He didn’t want to attack her. She set the remote down. It’s only seven blocks away.” . Every second counted. What kind of commitment are you willing to make?” “What are you talking about now?” Amelia asked. The police were looking for her for crimes he was sure she didn’t have anything to do with.” Amelia said. “You know as well as I that I would do anything for Sarah.” “So get up and start doing something. moving around like you can’t stand still. “You’re not being yourself. her eyes not leaving the news channel. I just don’t want to overreact. How could he have two daughters and both are kidnapped? He also needed to leave as soon as he could. Besides. It’s okay. You’re fidgety. “I think the first phone call I make is to the police department to see if they heard anything about Sarah. you know. He wanted to weep at how unfair life was.” His voice was louder than he intended. He didn’t want to think about the other call he received earlier that told him not to involve the police. “Besides. I need the first hour of the day to be calm for the sake of this splitting headache. You and I both know the amount of paperwork to fill out on a missing person which is something you can’t do on the phone.

. You stay home. “No. Let me handle them for now. He stared into her eyes.” Amelia stopped. You remember how bad they bungled the case with Vivian. She started to rub her temples in circles. Caleb turned. “Promise me you won’t involve the police yet.” Caleb walked over to her and grabbed each arm above the elbow. grabbed his car keys and ran for the door without another word. Okay?” Amelia nodded.“Then I’ll join you. “Why’s that?” “In case Sarah calls or someone else. Just promise me one thing.” Amelia said as she rose from the couch.

She pushed the trunk lid all the way open and sat up. Too much light came too quick. he used the fob to open the trunk earlier. It was almost unbearable. A few moments later she could hear the pliers at work. “Wait for me here. She pushed herself to the back of the trunk and closed her eyes.” “Step aside. I’ve got pliers in my cruiser. Sarah felt a car whoosh by on the highway. man. The heat seemed to be rising. That’s funny.” Sarah could hear the agitation in her captor’s voice. She started to get out of the trunk. “You don’t have to get uptight. She braced herself as she heard a key slide into the lock.” Another car whooshed by. The key broke in the fuckin’ lock. Then she heard a soft thunk sound. She had to rub her eyes and squint. When I looked at that car go by I must’ve turned a little.Chapter 24 An uncomfortable silence filled the trunk. Metal protested as she listened to one of them working on the broken key. No one was there. Sarah instinctively ducked. Not ten seconds later a horizontal light creased what little darkness was left in the trunk. . It looked to Sarah like they were struggling for the gun that was now missing out of the cop’s holster. “Ah. She looked up. She heard sounds of a scuffle. A soft blast of cooler air brushed her cheeks as the trunk opened. The men were fighting on the shoulder of the highway. A shot rang out. Something was going to happen between these two soon. I just broke my key. Now she knew why he chose to use the key. From inside.” she heard the cop say.

Up and down the highway she saw only one car and it was traveling away from them. “No. A shotgun was bolted into the dash. you fuck.” She moved towards the car she’d been in. “Get out. Her captor still held the gun out in front of him.” She turned around and got in the back of the cop car. “The backseat of the cruiser. The door was unlocked. Sarah locked herself in the police car and started pushing the radio buttons. The guy who’d kidnapped her was standing in front of the car aiming the gun at her. “Or the next one goes in your head. She couldn’t see the officer from the backseat. Sarah jumped backwards and smacked her head on the headrest.” Sarah unlocked the door slowly and eased it open. There had to be a way out of this. . She decided the radio would be her best bet. She had been so close. She leaned back.She jumped out of the trunk and fell to the ground. Something hit the windshield. “Now get in the back seat. A laptop was on the passenger seat. She swung it open pushed herself up into the driver’s seat. She crouched behind the car. She looked around to see if she could get someone’s attention. waving the gun at her. Sarah hobbled and crawled to the cop car. It would have a radio. She could hear him ask the cop for his car keys. She got out and stood beside the cruiser on legs that still couldn’t be trusted. but was in no shape to do it.” he said. Maybe another weapon.” he shouted. She also didn’t want to die if that gun went off again. There was a hole where a bullet had passed through. She wanted to help the officer. Her legs weren’t quite ready for the weight. A small burst of energy hit her with the anticipation that this kidnapping was over. She thought about the police cruiser. The front door was still ajar.

“What about me?” “Wrong place at the wrong time. The gun went off. Twice. .She could barely hear the cop ask.” Sarah reached for the door handle. She had to make a run for it.

” Esmerelda looked at her companion. he began talking. I’d inform the police too. he was fuming. After he found a parking spot and stepped from the car. They turned away and started down the aisle heading away from him. He was sure neither one had seen him. . People gathered near the entrance doors. “Tell me what’s happened to Sarah. he bought a pass to allow entry. and swung open the doors to the Psychic Fair.” Caleb unfolded his arms and pointed a finger at her. “If I knew where your daughter was. he crossed his arms on his chest. She was standing by a booth he guessed was hers. You can start with your warning of danger and then tell me where she is. I wouldn’t just tell you. Dolan won’t be able to refuse him. He got in behind a small crowd and waited in line. Caleb turned to her and asked. Once he got to the ticket table. Without letting them know they were being followed. Halfway down the aisle he caught up. Of course he will.” “We don’t want the police involved. Esmerelda turned around. The fair looked busier today.” Not knowing what to do with his hands. To remain calm he’d been reciting a mantra. “Who are you?” “My name is Mary Bennett. He decided to follow them. no police. He wondered if he’d get to speak with Dolan. Not after he saw his name in Sarah’s notebook circled the way it was. he continued this mantra. He saw Esmerelda right away.Chapter 25 By the time Caleb made it to the Psychic Fair’s parking lot. A girl about Sarah’s age was talking to her. Then he smiled at such a thought. no police.

We can all talk about it there. “While this kidnapping took place.“Did you send me a text last night?” Mary looked at Esmerelda.” “I’m on your side. “Look. Hands touched his arms. just calm down.” Esmerelda said. “I’m sure there’s an explanation. then back to Caleb. Why would you send it?” he asked looking at Mary. I want to know where Sarah is now. pointing at Esmerelda.” He pointed at Mary.” “No. What is it? Money you want? Just tell me. “But they won’t tell me where she is. An audience gathered. “What have you people done? Who are you? Where do you have my daughter? You’re going to pay for this.” “Then explain the text I received. Esmerelda and Mary backed away a little. Esmerelda looked past him. over his shoulder. “My daughter was kidnapped last night.” he said. Everyone just stood and stared. No one was talking. and I don’t know where she is.” The guard stepped forward. Why don’t we go in the office and sit down. he shot out questions.” he said. People were everywhere. We were warned about it by her. I want my daughter. “Okay.” Spittle shot from his mouth as his agitation rose.” . “I’m not the enemy. I received a text from her. halfway between Caleb and the two girls.” the guard on his right said. It looked to Caleb that Esmerelda wanted to say something.” he said in a deep snarl. “Tell me where Sarah is. She nodded. I don’t know who took Sarah. “What is going on here?” Not worried about making a scene. Caleb spun around in time to see two security guards approaching. “Don’t touch me. mister. People were watching. He shook them violently to release the grip.

He pointed at Esmerelda.” “Why don’t we go to my office and talk this out. That’s why I’m here.” Both guards tried to manhandle him.” Caleb snapped at a tall man approaching from behind Esmerelda. “Your psychic here is somehow involved in the disappearance of my daughter and so are you.” Caleb looked around. He nodded his head. watching.Esmerelda stepped forward. okay. he whirled around and knocked the other guy off his feet.” “Then you’re the one I want to talk to. but he managed to get out of the vice grip of the guy on the left. People were everywhere. The same notebook the police have in their possession. mister. chest high. Just tell me where she is before I lose my fucking temper. They all filed into the small room. She wrote your name down in her notebook. “What seems to be all the fuss here?” “Who’re you. One of the two guards came inside and shut the . staying low.” Caleb said. planted his foot and used his shoulder to knock the guard on his right off balance. Caleb heard the wind rushing out of his mouth. listening. No one here does. I won’t sue. Don’t worry. I have no idea. He was nodding his head. He hit him square in the stomach. I came here to find my daughter. “Leave me the fuck alone. “Okay. He swung his weight. I run this fair. Dolan turned and walked away. standing. Caleb followed him to an office in the back. “I already told you. I will not lose another daughter. Caleb wasn’t as agile as he used to be.” “You sound like a lawyer.” The one guard was trying to catch his breath while the other had both hands in the air. take it easy.” he said. Then.” Caleb said. “My name is Dolan Ryan. “Okay. Let’s go.

He wondered if it had anything to do with Vivian. He realized he didn’t even know his daughter. He’d had no idea who Sarah was or had become. Caleb was dumbfounded. was going to be shot. but I stopped helping the police about a year ago. Caleb couldn’t help but think about where he was. my daughter.” While everyone talked.” “Why would you do that? It seems to me if you’ve got a God given talent. Esmerelda told them about Sarah being on the news and Mary explained why she sent the text and how she knew Sarah.” Esmerelda said. you . I saw my name in her book too.” “If my daughter writes down some kind of prophecies and then acts on them. it would make sense that you are involved in some way. “How do you explain your name in her notebook?” “We kind of bumped into each other. After everything was out. “I want to call and warn her but I don’t know where she lives. but we couldn’t come up with any reason why. There has to be a reason she wrote your name down so prominently. which motivated him even more to find her. Maybe he closed down emotionally after she was murdered and he hadn’t been available for Sarah. I asked Esmerelda about it. His daughter was missing and he was in a room with self-professed psychics. He turned to Dolan. “It’s not that simple. Caleb filled Dolan in on the warning from Esmerelda and the text he received from Mary. “Sarah sent Mary to tell me that Denise. I’m retired. Maybe it was a cry for help. He felt that he had let her down. “Why don’t you help? You’ve done this sort of thing before. I know it’s not what you want to hear. Besides. Your name was circled. Can’t you use some psychic power to conjure up an image of where Sarah might be?” Dolan was shaking his head.door behind him. He knew Amelia would have no idea that Sarah was out saving strangers from trouble. He told them about the police coming to his door this morning looking for Sarah.” Everyone was silent for a few heartbeats.

Everyone looked surprised. Caleb wanted to run. he raised his hands in supplication.” was all he could think of.” “They grabbed me. I’m sick of the notoriety. . He appeared to be well known.” “That’s ridiculous. The police will just have to find all their missing persons with real investigative work. Especially after it started here.” Caleb said. “Heh. The mantra came back to Caleb.” the cop said. Dolan spoke first. “Come with us. I’m old and I not only can’t handle the people anymore. No police.” Dolan stood. “I’m dealing with this amicably now. “Alex.” “Doesn’t matter. I don’t want to. The story isn’t so mixed up after all. his voice showing his exasperation. After the break in yesterday by his daughter. what’s this?” “Your security guard called them. look. “If you must know. Listen to yourself.” The guy was pointing at Caleb. “There’s the easy way or the hard way. The air seemed to thicken. One of the cops stepped in and nodded at Dolan. My daughter is missing and you’re saying you won’t help. hitting the guard who still stood in front of it. “No.” “What started here?” Dolan asked. You still assaulted the security guards. it would be all over. security thought it better to have the police deal with him.” he said to Caleb. If whoever had Sarah saw him with the police.should use it. He moved out of the way as a man walked in followed by two uniformed police officers. then the prowler at Esmerelda’s trailer last night.” Caleb said. The office door swung open.

” Caleb said for Sarah.“I pick the hard way. .

When she got to the door she straightened her shirt. One more hospital to call. Is Sarah hurt?” The officer made a strange facial gesture. A dark blue sedan was parked in her driveway. “Is everything okay. “Can I help you?” she asked. If you could just furnish me with a…” Amelia wavered. “I had two officers come by here earlier to explain what happened on Birk Street last night and to talk to your daughter. I’m the lead investigator in last night’s hit and run fatality. It had been thirty minutes and she’d gotten nowhere. pulled her shoulders back and opened it. This was fruitless. but would you be able to furnish us with a current picture of your daughter. ma’am?” the cop asked. She grabbed the door handle for support. Could this be news about Sarah? She walked to the door like a zombie. It looked like he was surprised. She wasn’t waiting any longer. Then she’d call the police. . She was as ready as she would ever be. I’m sorry to intrude. They met your husband but forgot to ask for a picture. “Are you Amelia Roberts?” Amelia nodded. Fatality? What was he talking about? “I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying about. the remnants of her headache an echo in her skull.Chapter 26 Amelia lifted the phone. It seems the witnesses’ descriptions are scattered.” Amelia stepped back and frowned. The doorbell rang. She could spot an undercover police car anywhere after living next door to a cop before moving here. She placed the phone in its cradle and stood. “My name is Sam Johnson. He stepped back and looked at the number on the house. feeling light on her feet.

Witnesses said the driver was your daughter. “Is there anything I can do? Would you like me to get you some water?” “No. from our point of view. On two separate occasions we’ve got photographs from reporters with what we believe was the person who .” “You said fatality. There’s no way Sarah’s involved in any sort of criminal activity. “Don’t then. “I wouldn’t know that. that notebook is pretty detailed and I don’t want to jump to conclusions. You have to understand.” “We can’t confirm that until we talk to your daughter.“Is Sarah dead?” The officer tilted his head to the side. Roberts. Just tell me what your men told my husband. it could be that she was helping people. Sarah is not involved in any crimes. She was quite secretive.” “I’m sorry to hear that. Amelia looked at him.” she said as she made her way to the couch. put her elbows on her knees and started to massage her temples. Why would he lie.” he left it hanging. Come in.” “A man was run down by a vehicle on Birk Street. We’re just not sure.” She leaned forward. “I just can’t believe this. We went over this with your husband. They even showed him your daughter’s notebook. Mrs. but.” She sat back and listened while the detective walked her through what he knew about last night. Mrs.” “First we need to locate her and then we’ll be able to ascertain what’s really going on. “No. He didn’t tell you?” “He said it was Jehovah Witnesses at the door. “I need to sit down. Can you tell me anything about this notebook? Was Sarah in and out at odd hours? Did she ever talk to you about it?” Amelia shook her head. Roberts?” “He didn’t say anything about police.” Amelia raised a hand to her forehead. Although. “And Caleb knows about this?” “Yes.

not knowing what to do next. Since Sarah had started losing her hair she refused to have any pictures taken. She ambled toward the kitchen for a glass of water. He said a missing person’s report would be easier to file in person. It had been replaced by a different ache. There’s a possibility it was Sarah. Sarah had only started pulling her forearm hair and eyebrows by that time.” He stood and pulled out a cell phone. Would you mind if I had a couple of technicians come in to set up a tap?” Amelia nodded. “Please do. That individual disappeared each time.” “Right.” Amelia’s thoughts were starting to scatter. She walked back to the living room and gave the picture to the cop.” Amelia went to her photo albums and withdrew a picture from a few years back. At least her headache was gone. “I thought my husband told me he was going to the police station. She wiped at them and sat on the couch. She was suddenly very thirsty. “A picture would really help.” “If she is in trouble and gets a chance to call. at least my guys may be able to trace the call. The detective studied the picture for a moment and then slipped it in his jacket pocket.saved a life. Tears were starting to crawl down her cheeks. She was wearing a bandanna. but wanting to do something. The cop was looking at her. Amelia snapped one of Sarah while they were on a four day mini vacation in Florida. Amelia heard him talking to someone about getting everything set up. “I’d like to monitor your phones in case your daughter calls in. And then that news anchor woman was saved by a girl about your daughter’s age. Where was Sarah? What happened to her? Could she really have been driving a car that killed a man? .” She stood up.

Amelia’s stomach did a flip. She wondered if she was going to be sick. Why did Caleb lie? There was a soft knock on the kitchen door. She told him to come in. “They should be here within a half hour. I’ll have a little paperwork for you to sign.” The phone rang. Amelia grabbed at it. She answered before she heard any of the muffled warnings coming from the cop. “Hello, hello, Sarah?” “No, I’m sorry. My name is Dolan Ryan. I’m with the Psychic Fair.” Amelia almost hung up. She even saw herself slamming the phone down. She’d had enough of these people from the fair. “This isn’t a good time.” “I understand. I’m aware of Sarah’s troubles.” “You are? How’s that?” She looked up at the cop standing a few feet away. “Your husband explained everything and I’m sorry to hear how it’s turned out. I thought the least I could do was give you a call to tell you that…” “Is my husband there with you?” “That’s why I’m calling. Your husband isn’t here. He was taken away by the police.”

Chapter 27 He tapped the steering wheel with his fingers. This wasn’t going to work. It’s not supposed to be this way. Every cop would be looking for this police car soon. His brother was dead. The bitch in the backseat did it. They were down to one or two more jobs and that would’ve been it. The boss had promised. But the bitch in the backseat went and fucked it all up. He would have to make her pay. Seriously pay. But she was too ugly to do anything fun with. He had committed to himself he’d have a little fun with the next girl they take, but he couldn’t with this one. He wouldn’t be able to get past all the missing hair. Whenever he looked at her body all he could think about was a nuclear bomb survivor. “What happened to you anyway?” She didn’t answer him. He looked in the mirror at her. “I asked you a question. What happened to your hair?” She continued to look out the window. “Fuck you then.” “It’s a disease. It’s contagious,” Sarah said. He shook his head. Yeah right. Another gas station went by. That was two within the last ten minutes. No cop cars in sight. He looked in his rear-view mirror. No one following him. He wondered if the cop had radioed in his position when he did the traffic stop. Could a broken taillight be important enough to call in the stop? He saw buildings coming up ahead. A small town soon became visible. The sign said population 11,000. It also said, ‘where daisies grow’. He chuckled; the bitch sitting behind him would be pushing some up soon. Doubt played with him. He realized that he probably wouldn’t be able to pull this thing off. His brother was the one who always handled the details. He didn’t

know what to do next. Where would he go? Where did he think any kind of ransom money was going to come from? A cop was dead and here he was driving through the town where the officer probably patrolled. People might recognize the car and wave, expecting the dead cop to be driving. He swore out loud, smashed his hand against the steering wheel and hunkered lower in the seat. He was making too many mistakes. The boss hated mistakes. He should have loaded the cop’s body in the trunk. It might delay things a little. Instead of looking for a cop killer, they’d need to find the cop first. Too late now. He needed to think things through better. Number one was ditch the cop car. He thought about killing the bitch, but decided to keep her alive for now. He may need her to get out of a sticky situation. Maybe he could use her against the boss. Blackmail the boss to pay him quiet money or the girl goes to the cops with all the information needed to put the boss away for a long time. There, a plan was forming. Maybe he could clean this mess up after all. He had to get out of this small town first. Everyone probably knew everyone else and they wouldn’t recognize him behind the wheel of a cop car. More witnesses to tell where they saw the car later on. He ducked down just enough so he could still see over the dash. Moments later he came to the edge of town and passed the last house. He looked in the mirror and spotted the girl in the backseat scrunched up, her knees drawn to her chest. “This is your fault. Things would have been easier if you had minded your own business. Who sent you anyway? How did you know about our plans two different times?” She didn’t respond.

“Did you hear me? When this is over, you die. You do know that?” He rounded a corner and saw what looked like an old motel. From what he could see, the place looked abandoned. He pulled off the two lane highway and stopped in front of the rundown building. A sign said the area was slated for demolition. That would explain some of the construction equipment and the small white trailer on the side. He pulled away from the front and drove around back, parking the police cruiser away from view of the highway. He had been in police cars before so he knew there was no need to worry about the bitch in the backseat. She could only get out when he opened the rear door from the outside. The back of the motel looked like it had some work done to it recently. That’s strange, he thought. Why renovate when they’re taking it down. He stepped out of the cruiser and scanned the gravel and mud driveway. No recent tracks. At least none since the last rainfall. The last place to look was the construction trailer. Having arrived in a cop car, he strode toward the trailer with authority. If someone saw him they’d have to assume he was under cover. The door to the trailer was locked. He looked in the window to the right of the door. No one was in sight. Perfect. He could use one of the abandoned rooms to keep the girl for a day or two. Since it was a Friday night he didn’t figure anyone would come back to work here until at least Monday. But he’d be gone by then. Long gone. He jogged back to the cruiser and then around it. Five meters from the cop car was the edge of a steep hill. It ended where a small lake started. Things were looking up. He turned, opened the rear door and pulled the girl out. She sat on the grass and stared off into space, her face blank. Her right hand was at the nape of her neck. He leaned over to see what she was doing. Her thumb and index finger were

Weird. Then it started a slow descent into the dark water. which turned out to be easier than he thought. On the way down it bottomed out a few times. . The vehicle crested the top of the hill and started its descent.yanking on a small clump of hair. Then he began to push. He reached in and shifted the cruiser into neutral. It hit the bottom of the hill with a huge splash. He shook his head. scraping against large stones and gouging small holes into the earth. hair dropping from them. Sarah’s fingers fluttered. She was gone. He stepped away from her. He turned back to the girl.

closing it behind them. “What’s going on here.Chapter 28 Amelia could hear the detective summoning her from the den. The sun shone through the blinds covering the front window. Amelia stared at the floor where the light made curious straight lines and wondered if she was ready to hear whatever the cop wanted her to listen to. I would prefer it if you called me Sam. Amelia looked up. Roberts?” The detective stood in the doorway. “How well do you know your husband?” “What do you mean?” The detective looked over at his technicians. Anyone could’ve called when you were asleep and left information that could help. She acknowledged him with a nod and started down the hall after him. They entered Caleb’s den where two plainclothes officers were setting up wires and what she thought were listening devices.” After talking to Dolan she needed a few minutes by herself before she told the cops that her husband was at their police station. Could she handle it if something happened to Sarah? Why did she feel so weak and helpless and yet so vulnerable? “Mrs.” Amelia took a step back and leaned against the wall. “When we noticed messages on the machine we decided to listen to them in case one of them was your daughter. made some kind of facial gesture and turned back to Amelia. “Mrs. I think you’d better listen to this. Detective?” “Sam. Roberts.” “Okay. Both men had been introduced to her earlier but she already forgot their names. We’re going to be spending a . Both men stood up and walked out the door.

I want five hundred thousand delivered to a location I will reveal in ten days. Just tell me. “How do I know you’ve got her?” “You’ve got ten days. Your husband took this call before my officers came to your door this morning. “I have your daughter. Where was Sarah now? Was she safe? What could be happening to her? Why would Caleb lie to her? “Mrs. A whispered response followed. And her husband knew about it.little time together so it would be easier if you’d use my first name.” Caleb said. It was confirmation Sarah had been kidnapped. I can handle it. or she dies. Questions riddled her mind. maybe she should be sitting down. Roberts? Do you need a moment?” Amelia shook her head back and forth. or at least I’ll try to. He wasn’t speaking from the phone in the den because the machine had picked up at the same time as Caleb did. Maybe you should be sitting down for this. She heard a button being pushed and the familiar click of a message about to start. Maybe that was why he told you it was .” Perhaps he was right. She let out a breath she had been holding and raised a hand to cover her open mouth.” “I’m not a baby. Amelia could identify her husband’s voice immediately. If the worst news was about to come out of the machines tiny speaker.” Amelia gasped. “What time was that call recorded?” “The machine time-stamped it 7:34am. No police.” Amelia heard a click and the answering machine stopped. “Hello. his voice rushed like he had run for the phone. She walked over to the couch. which recorded the conversation she was about to hear.” “What did you hear on the answering machine?” “I don’t want to alarm you. where she dropped to the cushions and put her face into her hands. Her baby had been taken. Why didn’t he tell her? Why hide this from her? “Who are you?” Caleb shouted.

It wouldn’t do Sarah any good to fall apart.” “What warning?” “When Sarah attended the fair. He probably went to see who was involved with Sarah’s kidnapping because of the warning Esmerelda gave her. It wouldn’t just be Sarah dying. She bent at the waist. what were you referring to?” She looked at the cop.” The possibility of never seeing Sarah alive again hit her. Why wouldn’t he tell me?” She drifted off with her thoughts. feeling physically wounded. We’ve argued over the past week about that fair. “The call came when I was still asleep. The caller said ‘no police. That’s why the police took him away. . a psychic named Esmerelda warned her that she was in danger. How did her life come to this? She hugged herself when the thought came to her that she may have to bury another child. He was probably pissed off after the ransom call and headed there straight away thinking they had something to do with this. He was standing by the phone. On the table beside the couch was a Kleenex box which she fumbled with until one came loose.” “What did you argue about?” the detective asked. “Mrs. He wouldn’t have wanted me to know he was going there because of how much he despised the place. She knew she’d lose her mind if Sarah was killed. Caleb doesn’t believe in psychics of any kind.’” She hoped Caleb’s lie was to protect Sarah. She blew her nose and tried to compose herself. when you said the police took him away. Roberts.Jehovah Witness’ at your door. “Maybe it was because he was headed to the Psychic Fair. “I wanted to take my daughter there and he didn’t.

I can’t save everybody. Changing fate is a dangerous game. They were walking through the back corridor. I shouldn’t save everybody.” Esmerelda said as she hurried to keep up.Chapter 29 “I’ve done all that I’m going to do. But you know as well as I do that. do you?” She wanted his attention so she decided a good way to get under his skin was to question his psychic power. Dolan? Just tell me why?” “I already did. there are people who should live the path they’re on without interference.” Dolan said as he walked away from Esmerelda. I’m not a hero. I’ve never seen you shrug off a kidnapping like this. and number two. She leaned against the hallway wall. “Which is not nearly enough. The pause gave her a chance to breathe.” she stopped to catch her breath. I feel my involvement adds to the level of danger. number one. “Esmerelda. You don’t really believe that.” He stopped talking for a moment to let other employees pass. panting with a hand on her chest. You of all people know that. Why. When Dolan got to his car he would be leaving. That gave her a minute to convince him to help Sarah. why do you question me like this? You’ve seen me help people for over twenty years. He looked back at Esmerelda. “We’ve known each other a long time. “and tell me you are absolutely certain your helping Sarah does more harm than good. “What I mean is. I think there’s a personal . Too many lives are at risk.” “I don’t believe philosophy is the reason behind this.” He stopped and turned to face her. “Look me in the eye. heading to the employee parking lot.” “That sounds ridiculous.

I don’t want to say this. this mystery person will live. you are being most difficult. listen to me. People will continue to treat you like a celebrity until you move to a remote cabin in the mountains and become a recluse. “Esmerelda. I will leave this fair. And I think you’re being selfish. this person dies if I get involved. I don’t know how or why. which emitted a wet burning smell. Do you hear me. I will quit. “Dolan.” He turned and started walking to the parking lot again. One more teenage girl won’t change your life. The sun bounced off something shiny on the pavement causing her to squint. The heat didn’t help with her rapid breathing. But it’ll change hers. A recent sun shower coated the cement. eleven inches. It’s just…” “What? What’s stopping you?” “I feel someone close to me is either directly or indirectly involved with this case. On the other hand. She followed close behind as they stepped out onto the asphalt.” He stopped again and turned around. “How popular you are with the public won’t change whether you help Sarah or not.” . I can’t aid in Sarah’s kidnapping case because I refuse to be a murderer. whether it’s inadvertent or not. All I do know is if I don’t help. or who this individual is.” She stood to her full height.reason. By my actions. I will be killing him or her. Trust me. but if you don’t at least try to help Sarah. all four feet. my interference isn’t personal.

A large shadow filled the door. Glass broke in a room next to the one she was in. head bobbing. She wondered why she had waited to ten. When the motel inhabitants had abandoned the building years ago. hiding under a window that looked out to the back of the motel where the police car had gone over the edge of the hill. So she had run in the open back door of the motel. The noise he made revealed his anger. Maybe she could find a way to get to the front and then run for the highway. He was in the building somewhere to her left. Her back hunched. but it was dead. too far to get unseen. she said the number in a whisper to herself and then got to her feet. Sarah couldn’t find anything to use as a weapon. Nine. but getting to them posed the same problem. He turned and ran to the edge of the building where he disappeared from her sight. She stayed low. The woods on either side would have given ample shelter. She had watched as the guy realized he was standing on the brown grass alone. maybe she could get below the edge of the hill and be gone. She decided to count to ten and then venture outside. Why not count to five? Ten.Chapter 30 Sarah crouched low. She even tried the dusty pay phone by the front counter. searching for her near the highway or in the woods. she ran for the opening that led outside. Just to be obsessive about it. If the guy stayed in the front of the building. She knew he would have seen her if she had gone for the highway. Sweat broke out on her neck and back. banging things around. they’d taken everything with them but a number of fixed pieces of furniture. Sarah came to an abrupt stop and stood up. a lone strip of moisture glided gently down . She counted up to eight before she heard him. It was too wide open.

He had some kind of automatic weapon in his hand. The world turned a soft green. but that wasn’t a relief. It lifted and dropped with her breathing. He yanked gray duct tape from a drawer. She couldn’t hear much of . Are you here to help?” The brute of a man reached in and grabbed her. followed by screaming. “Can I use your phone?” He was on her with speed she didn’t know someone his size could have. he guided her to the construction trailer. He came back and covered her with it. Breathing wasn’t an option. She heard more glass breaking behind her. He laid her down and worked on her ankles and wrists until she was secured with the tape. half lifting. he pulled off a small strip. Air rushed to her lungs when his hand left her face. “He kidnapped me. With his teeth. breathing rapidly from her nostrils. Eyes wide. she lifted her head and watched him grab a blanket. Seconds later they were inside. She wondered who he was and why he would be carrying a gun out in the open. His hand was clamped so hard on her mouth that it covered her nose too. He spun Sarah into him. but the blanket remained. The man took the strip of duct tape and covered her mouth. He nudged her hips with his foot to get her against a wall. her verbal protests quieted by his large hand. the door locked behind them.her spine. He angled her head down where she watched her chest heaving as much as felt it. Half dragging. She wasn’t with her captor anymore and this guy was huge. She struggled and twisted. The man in the doorway wasn’t her captor. Her small struggle was futile. He pulled her outside with him. Her eyes watched his free hand. At least this was an improvement. Maybe this was the end of her ordeal. almost enveloping her with his size.

Something hard hit her in the side of the head. She was thinking about dumb luck and how much of it she had. It was no use. sometimes soft. How could someone go from being kidnapped. the need to pull. making her moan and writhe. delicate. She started to pinch a small piece of skin on the back of her hand. Her mind started to slip. With the muscles in her arms straining. . other times desirable. imaging it was hair she was removing. Consciousness swam away. Her moans increased. There was freedom in the pain. cooling as it settled. she wrapped her fingers around. A dark urge grew inside her. One that she couldn’t answer. hoping to calm herself. But this urge was a demand. There were also tears. Her pulse was pounding in her head. She pinched harder. a pleasure. She felt a subtle kind of letting go. testing the bonds of tape on her wrists. which knocked her into the wall of the trailer. to being rescued by a kidnapper? It was insane. She would not get to pull any hair until someone undid her. The need to pull was always there.what he was doing. One rolled down her cheek and fell into the recess of her ear. It blossomed into something uncontrollable.

She hadn’t been paying attention anyway. The painting called ‘White Center’ by a guy named Rothko was rumored to fetch millions at Sotheby’s in New York if she wanted to auction it. looking to find out who would be in control of the small fortune. Denise sold it piecemeal. Was everything worked out? Did they have all the precautions in place? Would Mr. But they’d done it. Ward be a problem? She hated dealing with people like Mr. The same year they stopped talking. if not the last deal she made in this business. nothing worth listening to. Then she met Mr. a dated photo of her mother sat face up. She swiveled in her office chair and opened the bottom desk drawer. Various collectors snooped around after Denise’s father passed away. Thoughts about tomorrow kept running around in her head. seeing as it was going to be one of her last. It was completed in 1950. A couple generations of artwork left to Denise in her father’s will. He paid her top dollar for some of her father’s collection. less expensive items for the first five years. living off the smaller. And she wanted this deal. But he was the man with the money. living life as if he’s on stage. In the last fifteen years.Chapter 31 Denise flipped off the news. She wasn’t in the art business. It had been taken a year before her father died. Ward. and by the late fifties her father had bought it for under a hundred thousand dollars. Ward. Her mother had been quite upset with Denise’s decision to sell off the family heirlooms. guarded twenty four hours a day by armed security. she was only a seller. Denise had sold almost everything. Now it sat in the secured and renovated shell of the Sky Blue motel. Some of the best money could buy. So self important. A drama fixed for the audience of his employees. A large seven foot canvas wasn’t easy to transport without damages. There was a reason . In it.

Calm. Stay calm. She stood up and turned to look out her window. She wasn’t good at being discreet. Denise had her storage facilities broken into too. her ticket back to normalcy.” “He pulled in and dumped the car. “Yeah. “Esmerelda. she’d have nothing left for collector’s to hound her for. Once it was gone.” “A cop? What are the police doing there? No one knows where the painting is.” “We got a problem. one that would keep the painting out of an auction house. She ran into the motel. Ward had made her a generous offer. This was her last piece that held notoriety. Maybe when this was all over. Museums could take the rest. Half explanations were frustrating. she’d give her a call.” . I’ve got the girl. the recent break-ins at Sotheby’s and two serious art dealers who had sent men to threaten and intimidate Denise to secure this painting for their collections.for it. digesting the sound of it in her ears. she thought. but the cop is gone.” She said her mother’s name out loud. or security conscious.” “What problem?” “A cop was just here. Staring at her mother’s picture brought back a lot of memories. It was better for her to keep the higher priced stuff in warehouses and storage units. Jenkins and I scanned the perimeter. “What do you mean by ‘I’ve got the girl’? And why would a cop dump his car?” “The girl he was traveling with. She jumped when the phone rang. He just disappeared. It opened to a garden surrounded by trees. What did she care? Mr.” She wondered where these guys got their smarts. than just keeping it at home.

pressed the button and said hello in too gruff a voice. Someone’s calling me on the other line. What can I do for you?” “I was calling to make sure our meeting is still on for tomorrow morning.” “I can’t.” She pulled the phone from her ear. “He disappeared. This had horrible written all over it. “Hold for a second. Mr. but keep her out of the way until this is done. “Look. Whether it was a real cop or not. This was not good. I’ll have the account numbers for the wire transfers. I can’t be there until the transaction happens tomorrow morning. this could be bad.” Great. Can you do that?” A beep came through the line. thought Denise. I’ll see you in the morning. Ward wouldn’t do business with her if he knew the police were snooping around. Someone was calling her. I’ve tracked people before.” “Good.” “It is. .” he said. Mr.” “Why is she unconscious?” “I knocked her out to keep her quiet. The package will be ready for transport. Ward. She went back to the other line. “Why can’t you?” “She’s unconscious. “Is something wrong?” She collected herself immediately. Could it be he wasn’t a cop?” She put a hand on her forehead. Everything’s set. I would know if he was still here.“Disappeared? Cops don’t dump cars and disappear. Keep the girl safe.” Frustration hit new levels. “Not at all. and hung up.” “Then ask the girl who he was and why they came to the motel.

It was dead. .

An SUV passing him made it difficult to hear well. Why are you calling now?” “I got trouble. My brother was killed and I won’t let him die for nothing. He needed purpose. the boss would have to take his place. He hit redial and waited. He checked his phone again. He checked the signal on his cell phone. She got in the way.” “Because this girl fucked that up. but she hung up on me in mid sentence. She was trying to steal our car.” Gert stopped walking and turned from the shoulder of the highway.” Gert heard his boss swear under his breath. Two bars. Something his late brother would offer.Chapter 32 The edge of town was near. It was answered on the third ring. “You’re fuckin’ right you do. I thought it was the same girl you spoke about on the Bennett kidnapping. right?” “No.” He heard his boss moving. He needed to know what to do. He needed direction. Since he was dead. What the hell were you guys thinking? I still can’t get over the fact that you two didn’t take the girl we’d planned on. one bar. he wanted someone to tell him. Better yet. He dialed the boss’s cell number. She looked as outlandish as you described her with all that hair missing in clumps. two in the morning. It was the second time she’d been at a planned kidnapping in six months.” . There had better be a good signal soon. “I want the money for the kidnapping we were supposed to do. He got a machine after five rings. “What’s up? It’s like.” “You’re kidding. Gert. I called her house and tried to set up a meeting with her. Too coincidental. like he was getting out of bed. “I figured something was weird with her when I saw her at the Psychic Fair the other day.

I could give the police your name and location and they’d hunt you down. “She’s gone. I fell asleep until after midnight. . I’ve worked with a lot of psychic’s over the years and I know she’s an Automatic Writer. They’d assume it was my psychic abilities. Once you have her. She can identify you. His boss continued. What motel? Where’re you?” Gert didn’t know what to say.” “What?” “She’s gone. We know nothing about her parent’s financial status. “No way. She escaped. You don’t have the right girl.” He slowed his breathing. Better not lose control. write something?” “When I saw her at the Psychic Fair. I think she’s aware of the kidnappings because someone’s telling her about them through her pen. she dropped to the ground and started writing in her notebook. I’ve been walking back towards town ever since.” He shook his head even though he knew the boss couldn’t see him. Put the money in the account or I tell the parents who you are. They wouldn’t even ask me how I knew. Kill this girl and dump the body in a swamp before every cop in the country is after you. Too risky. I couldn’t find her.“Can you hear yourself? Do you know what you’re saying? We can’t do the ransom gig. He needed help here.” “What’re you talking about. not an enemy.” There was a pause before his boss spoke. What if the boss wanted him dead? He couldn’t tell him where he was. “So go back and get her. “You don’t want to threaten me.” “Are you for real?” Gert asked. I need a car. I looked for an hour and then hunkered down in one of the rooms to wait in this abandoned motel. get her to write something for you.” “You’re lying.

I may have to remove her too. He would have the girl and be back on the road before the sun came up. “You actually believe this Automatic Writer shit?” “You’re asking me if I believe in psychic stuff. because there’s no way she could have that kind of information. depending on how long it took to get a car.“We need her off the street for good. just do your fuckin’ job and stop killing people. I can’t help you if they launch a nationwide manhunt. I’ll try to give them something psychic. Just like that. Don’t make any more mistakes. The girl has to die.” “Are you sure you don’t want this one found safe like the other girls we’ve taken?” “She told Esmerelda something important. Believe me. It had been a two hour walk into town. We may need her for voice verification. I don’t believe in psychics. Go back to the motel and find her. She would write something for him or he would kill her. After this blows over. That’s why she has to die. Instead of walking back to the motel.” “I saw it. That could get him back to the motel by 5:00am or so.” Gert pressed end on his cell. Why did you have to take Sarah in the first place?” Gert gripped the cell phone tighter to his ear as a loud rig passed by. . Everything is getting out of hand. He looked at the time on his phone. You can keep her alive for at least one day. I’ll get close to the investigation on my side so I can keep on top of their progress. He swatted at it and turned towards town. She can identify us. Come on. He would need pen and paper to see if this Automatic Writing shit was real. he decided to steal a car and drive back. A fly buzzed his ear. Listen to you. He didn’t feel like just turning around and going back.” “Now I know you’re fucking with me. we’ll take a month off and hit another city.

Screw the voice verification shit. His step felt lighter with the knowledge that Sarah would die today. .

“For the record. I don’t want you here. “We were looking for a recent photo of your daughter. He walked in the front door and slammed it behind him. “If you know about the ransom call. “I already lost one daughter and I’m not going to lose Sarah.Chapter 33 Amelia heard the car and looked through the living room window as Caleb strode up. why are the police involved?” “We came because of the hit and run last night. panicked.” Amelia stepped back. but I won’t go so far as to tell you to leave yet. “Why are you people in my house?” “Why didn’t you tell me about the ransom call?” He glared at her. Then I was coming home to fill you in on everything. He nodded his head and turned away. You went through enough when we lost Vivian. The kidnapper told me to not involve the police. or get out.” Amelia saw Sam Johnson step into the foyer. They’d both lost a lot of respect for the way police did things when Vivian was taken from them. Vivian’s killer never got caught. I don’t like it.” Caleb said. “It’s well past midnight. Find my daughter soon.” Amelia knew the smile on Detective Johnson’s face wouldn’t win her husband over. “Why are the police here?” Caleb asked. we realized she didn’t know about our visit before that so she invited us in. leaving . Where’ve you been?” she asked even though she knew. Once your wife and I got talking. “I didn’t want to worry you. No cowboy stuff. Now we’re looking for your daughter the right way. I wanted to check something out first.” Amelia looked at the detective. “What’s all this?” His eyes seemed wild.

They looked at each other and turned from the room. He led her down the hallway and into their bedroom. Amelia shook her head.” Caleb nodded and looked at the carpet. I don’t know how many hours. I got a cab back to the fair’s parking lot to pick up our car. I’ve been driving around hoping to spot Sarah. That’s why I told you it was Jehovah Witnesses at the door. but I went to talk to Dolan Ryan. “Are they listening in?” he asked. That’s the guy who runs the Psychic Fair. Roberts?” . A week ago if I did the same thing you would have laughed at me. If he’s really some kind of psychic. Then the police took me downtown and said I had to stay away from the Psychic Fair. Then you were going to tell me about it. “I know. “I don’t believe in psychics. then why not help us find Sarah?” “You’ve changed. Amelia grabbed it on the fourth ring. Halfway up the hall Amelia saw detective Johnson coming toward them with a hands-free phone held out. “You said you wanted to check something out.” The phone rang. “Hello?” “Is this Mrs. I just thought maybe there was something to it. For the last. What was it?” Amelia asked. But after that fortune teller told Sarah about danger and now this.” “What did he say?” “He said he wouldn’t help us.them alone. Caleb reached out and took her arm. I didn’t want the police involved until I talked to Dolan.

Go on. but I think I know where Sarah is.” “Yes. She fumbled with it and then secured it at her ear. When your husband and I met. Let me work with the police and I’ll get your daughter back. “My name is Dolan Ryan. You may remember me from my earlier call about your husband.” “My husband just came home.“Yes. Who’s this?” She looked at the cop in the cramped hall. “What did you say? If you know where she is. I was letting personal reasons stop me from getting involved. I need to debrief the police. He nodded and rolled his hand in a gesture to keep going.” . tell me. The location is secluded.” “It’s not that easy. They will have to send in a tactical unit.” Amelia almost dropped the phone. It’s important I speak with you right away.” “I know about Sarah’s disappearance. He told me about your meeting today.” “Things have changed.

This complicated things. He crouched down and waited for the car to pass. He figured it was still too dark for anyone to see him easily and he wanted a good look at who was coming so he chanced a peek. which meant she would awaken with the sun and have more strength from a long rest. She could’ve hitched a ride. He made his way to a three story apartment building. He knew they would’ve found the dead cop back on the highway by now. Then he had an idea. . giving herself a good chance to make a clean break. He didn’t want to take any chances. Gert ran and dodged behind a row of trimmed bushes. The car was moving slow. No doubt there would be cops everywhere looking for the killer. or walked back to town. He felt stupid for leaving the motel. The sun would be up soon. The first thing he saw was the lights on the roof. Anyone found strolling the streets at this early hour would be questioned. Some car alarms these days were difficult to circumvent. Cars littered the parking lot. just like he did. Would going back be worth it? She couldn’t have gotten far. He had to go back to the motel as soon as he could get a car. She too had probably passed out in the motel somewhere. She was weak. Headlights cut through the early morning fog. He was hoping to find an SUV or van of some kind. tired and probably hungry. He wondered why he did it in the first place. drawing closer.Chapter 34 It was after five in the morning and he didn’t have a car yet. Older model preferred. The girl could be anywhere by now. A vehicle turned onto the street he was walking on.

I had no choice but to run.” He took a step towards the cruiser.” the cop said. He’d get more weapons. but they got my wife. These guys knocked on our door twenty minutes ago and invaded our home. “I said. I managed to get away. My wife was asleep. He ran onto the road in front of the cop car. It still held the fake police identification they used to grab the girl on Birk Street. It jolted to a stop. What was the name of the street he was just on? He racked his mind for a street name. “Where do you live?” Got me. I hadn’t undressed for bed yet. but remained standing behind his car door. acting the part of a distraught husband. “How is it you’re all dressed? You’re always dressed at five in the morning during a home invasion?” Gert managed to get a tear out. Perfect. Do it now.Why would he steal a random vehicle and have to hope he could get past the car alarms? Why not take another cop car. a police scanner so he could hear what other cops were up to and he’d look like he was transporting a criminal when he got the girl in the back seat. Gert acted surprised and out of breath. I got in late. He stayed behind the door. “Help! My wife is hurt. Come on. I need your help. He searched the pocket in his jeans. then stopped and looked back. To stall. “Put your hands on your head. They had weapons.” The driver’s side door opened and the officer got out.” He raised his hands. It slipped across the skin of his cheek. “I was traveling back from visiting family. The officer didn’t challenge him. “What? I just told you my wife is hurt. he thought. put your hands on your head. he cocked his ear and asked the cop to .” He turned away as if to go. Gert could feel he was still suspicious.

” The cop’s voice was stern. The officer’s hand brushed Gert’s gun on its pass over his belt in the rear of his pants. The cruiser was still idling. look. His hand was suspended over his holster. He did as he was told. Especially cops. “Two blocks over. Then he felt the cop’s hands on him. Gert spun around and threw his hand into the cop’s neck just below the jaw line.” “Are you serious?” “I said put your hands on the hood. The cop bounced off the car and dropped to the ground like a large fish fresh out of water. Of all the luck. still . A punch in the Adam’s apple is an awful feeling. Gert spun the cop around and withdrew his gun. The forward motion slammed the driver’s side door closed. But now I’m being treated like a suspect or something. Gert shook his head and gave the guy his best. He needed to be more careful about random killings. He knew it wasn’t a killing blow. you know that? My wife could be raped by now. Gert couldn’t let the cop frisk him at the waist. I run out to get help. He shook his head back and forth as he came to stand beside the car.” He was talking as the cop drew closer. The cop was rolling on the ground. I find a cop. I can’t believe you. But now both his hands clung to his throat as he gasped for air. pointing behind him. then shoved him against the hood of the cruiser. He looked in the rearview mirror. the cop will live. but unless the trachea collapses. Gert slipped behind the wheel and hit the gas. The officer moved around the door of the car. “You’re something else. With as much speed as he could muster.” Gert said. “Step up to the vehicle and put your hands on the hood.repeat his question. gasping for air. The cop almost had his gun out of its holster. He closed his eyes.

Dispatchers were sending officers to a domestic and another to a traffic violation for backup. He would find his girl and try for the state line. Then he looked in the mirror again. 5:30am.holding his throat. He wasn’t thinking fast enough. He increased the volume on the police radio. Shit. He looked at the time on the dash. From this distance it was hard to tell. He’d be back at the motel in twenty minutes or less. He should’ve ripped that off him. but it looked like the cop was talking into a handheld microphone that had been suspended on his lapel. . Gert dropped the accelerator and raced the cop car out of town.

Ward’s thugs. but suit yourself. She put on her signal and slowed to pull into the Sky Blue motel. No one was here. Denise would be free and clear in an hour and a half. Ward who was expected to show at 6:30am. nothing illegal. A car on the highway slowed.” she said out loud to comfort herself. They looked like Mr. This was a legitimate sale. As long as everything goes as planned. We’re here to make sure everything goes smooth. Then she would deal with the girl her guards had found. “I’m sure everything will. Hang around or do whatever you . She got out of the vehicle and sucked in a deep breath of the morning air. Yet she still felt like a criminal. “It’ll all be over soon. The smell of the pines made her think of being at a cottage. Ward was bringing and the deal would be done. Even though she only had a mile left. They would transfer the money. The wooden steps of the construction trailer creaked under her weight as she fumbled with the keys. Her stomach was in knots. load the painting onto a special truck Mr. Perfect. “Denise Hall?” “Who’re you?” “We’re the advance team for Mr. She stopped in front of the construction trailer and turned her SUV off. Ward.” The guy had a New York accent. she opened the console between the seats and pulled out her sunglasses. It looked like she’d arrive thirty minutes earlier than Mr. Two men got out. She turned around to see a dark colored Cadillac angling in to the abandoned motels parking lot. No cars were visible. The vehicle stopped behind hers.Chapter 35 The sun shone bright through her windshield.

a sizable one on her cheek. Denise walked by him and looked down.” The two men got in their car and backed away. She opened the door to the trailer and stepped in. She came like that.” The girl was missing a lot of hair.” “Early. He’s not expected for another hour. She didn’t expect that. I knocked her out by the temple. Denise watched as they drove around the side of the motel and disappeared behind it.” “I know.” . Patches appeared to’ve been torn out around her head. The highway was clear now.” The guard stepped sideways and motioned behind the partition. She had a couple of bruises. The partition allowed for the guards to use the trailer at any time without worrying if someone looked in through the trailer window. They were raw. mostly from the back. This had gone too far. In the silence of the morning she couldn’t hear any other vehicles.” Denise looked at the girls wrists. She fought an internal urge to look away. Ward’s men.want. Her forearms were bare. Her eyebrows were gone and in their place little dots of blood showed where the hair had been torn out. “Who are those guys in the Caddy?” “Mr. “Did you give her the bruise on the cheek?” “No. Where’s the girl?” “Over here. Bruce stepped out from behind a partition.” “You won’t even know we’re here. like someone had tied her up. Shit. “Tell me how she came to be here again. “What the hell is this? What have you done to her?” “Nothing.

. Someone was screaming. with the guard running for the door of the trailer. More gunfire followed.Gunfire cut the morning stillness. The girl woke up. They both ducked.

Then he opened the door with his left hand and used his right to pull his gun. This guy had his gun out in record time. Gert drew his and fired. He also had his safety . And now someone was there. he’d figured that the trailer would’ve been the ideal spot for her to stay hidden. A tiny hole formed on the guy’s cheek. His gun hand hesitated. These guys are stupid. “Morning. gentlemen. He had to hide the cruiser before whoever was in the trailer saw him. Then in slow motion. I’ll need to see your driver’s license and insurance. He didn’t get a shot off before he fell to his knees. They stared him down.Chapter 36 Things were bad and getting more complicated. His partner pulled a weapon. I’m driving a police car and they want to draw their weapons. He stopped the car safely out of view of the construction trailer and the highway. he collapsed face first into the dirt. where Gert guessed would be a weapon. Right away he could tell these men were professionals. He steered for the rear of the motel where just hours ago he’d dumped the first stolen police car over the hill. he thought. During the twenty minute drive to the Sky Blue.” The guy on the driver’s side of the Cadillac turned a little and looked like he was about to bend into the car. He’d pulled into the parking area of the motel and saw an SUV parked at the construction trailer. All this happened in the time it took Gert to turn towards the other guy and fire a second shot. their hands moving for their inner breast pocket. which he concealed behind his leg. There had been no time to dislodge the safety. When he came around to the back he was welcomed by two large guys in leather jackets standing beside a Cadillac.

No movement whatsoever. He should have felt heat. still no movement anywhere. Questions swirled around Gert’s head. The morning sun beat down on his back. He looked around for a way to approach the trailer. He almost bought it here and for what? Who were these guys? He wiped his face as he ran over to the bodies and hastily frisked them. No wallets. Then he stared at the windows of the motel. Staying out of the trailer’s line of sight. It took Gert three shots before he hit the guy in the chest. No time to waste pondering. Man this is fucked up. He hadn’t been shot at in years. his gun leveled. His shirt clung to him. He stood and walked over to the edge of the motel wall where he peaked around the corner. It all started to crash in on him. The trailer looked like it did before. Words like mobsters and made men went through his head. Just two guys in a Cadillac. both going wild. Still hunched down by the driver’s body. He scanned the bushes. From the back appeared to be the best route.off. Gert retreated to the woods in behind . pasted by sweat. who shoot at cops before pulling their driver’s license. no identification. His heart was racing now that the gunplay was over. The trees came up to it with five feet to spare. Gert heard the air beside his head make a buzzing sound as a bullet passed close by. The SUV was still there. Find the girl and get out. Gert looked around. but these guys acted like they were above the law. The driver of the Cadillac got off two. dressed well. but he started to shiver. He’d never known any. Nothing. He realized how lucky he was to still be alive.

“Police! Open up!” . He hoped that was the case. He reloaded his gun and made sure the safety was off. he knocked on the trailer door and stood to one side. With the fake police badge in hand. His finger slid inside the trigger guard as he stood and walked into the open. using a tree stump to remain unseen.the motel and started to make his way through them. He crossed a beaten down path that must have seen better days when the motel was in operation. Within minutes he was standing behind the construction trailer. It could be that he’d already killed the muscle out by the Cadillac and he’d find no resistance in the trailer.

She watched everyone head to the dining room.” Dolan said. Caleb placed a hand on Amelia’s leg. “I’m happy you’re here. but I still have difficulties with some things. She sat down and said. It felt like he could see into her thoughts. Conversation subsided around the table.” No one spoke. feeling wary. escorted by Detective Johnson. she was a jumble of nerves. “We’re all on the same page. She set the tray down beside the urn and looked up at Dolan. Caleb got up to answer it. She went to the kitchen where she poured a pot of coffee into an urn. She read it as a gesture to take it easy. Their eyes locked. She nodded and looked away. “Hello Mrs. “I understand completely. thankfully. but we haven’t got a lot of time. That’s first and foremost. The seat beside her husband was empty.” Dolan said. don’t forget that he’s here to help. “I want Sarah back. “I know how hard this must be for you. She wondered if mind-reading was one of his talents.” Greetings were made all around while Amelia stood back. Roberts. I’ve worked on a number of missing person cases over the years and. “I’m glad you could come. There was something about Dolan’s eyes. Dolan. Coffee would be needed. It was around seven in the morning.Chapter 37 Amelia jumped when the doorbell rang. . especially since you said on the phone that you have an idea of where Sarah is.” Dolan said. Whether it was the phone or the doorbell. Amelia told herself not to look away. I’d be happy to clear up any misunderstandings there may be.” She looked at him again. She grabbed the cream and sugar tray and made her way to the dining room.

her eyes glazing over. “I just need a minute or two. My people are all intuitive in some way and if one of them warns a customer about their future. Before she stood up. but there was something about him or his Psychic Fair that she didn’t trust. She didn’t want to come across as ungrateful. She lost her balance and sat on the floor where she jotted something down in her notebook.” she used her fingers for quotation marks. He was saying what she wanted to hear. We get phone calls from the fair the next day and then my daughter is kidnapped. Is there anything you can tell .” Her head swam a little. But not before she tries to break into the Psychic Fair grounds. We bumped into each other. One of your people. With the information I have. one day you’ll be in an accident. My family visits a Psychic Fair that you run. I think we’ve got a good chance of locating her today. She’d circled it and yet we’ve never met.” Dolan turned to the cops. rather quick actually. It was brief. if you’re going to continue driving like this. There’s got to be more to this than I know. It doesn’t make it my fault. I noticed she’d written my name.” Amelia looked away. “meets with my daughter and warns her of danger. it doesn’t make the psychic responsible for that person’s well-being. Would you know anything about this? You’re her parents. But we need to act soon. What I need to know is how the fair is tied into this?” “I wouldn’t say the fair is tied into it. then back to Caleb. She looked down at her coffee mug. “We’re all here because you said you knew where my daughter was. Try to understand something for me. I’m willing to look past a number of coincidences if I can get my daughter back. I say to you. She decided not to pursue her suspicions this way. Dolan shifted in his seat. “I met your daughter at the fair. Then two days later you have a car accident.they’ve all turned out well. It’s the same thing if you are driving me somewhere and I notice you’re a very erratic driver.

. feel the information trickle through my spirit guide. Dolan got up and left the room. “I think Sarah is being held at a cabin on Lake George.” “Then let’s get started. or is moving her as we speak. Caleb looked at her. At one point he looked at Amelia and Caleb when the detective asked what he was going to find there.me?” Amelia looked at Caleb for support.” “But you claim to be psychic.” she said. Was Sarah alive? Dolan answered that she was fine. “I want to go with them. I don’t have knowledge about everything and everyone. He felt that her kidnapper was going to move her to a new location. You have to concentrate and focus while doing a reading. have you got a tactical team on standby?” The detective nodded.” “Yes I do and I am. “When you bumped into Sarah at the fair. He shook his head and told everyone present that he had no idea what Dolan was talking about.” Amelia listened as Dolan gave directions. except they needed to hurry.” he whispered. He had a pen and pad in his hand waiting to write down whatever Dolan told him. “Sam. other than some bruising.” Dolan turned to Detective Johnson. Touch something the person owns. why didn’t you warn her of the danger coming?” Amelia asked. “Me too. Caleb reached for the urn that no one else had touched yet and poured himself a coffee. He said he wasn’t getting much more. Detective Johnson got on a phone and started ordering people to the site. Other officers made themselves busy with maps. “I didn’t do a reading for her. Amelia watched everyone spring into action.

Amelia could hear anger in Caleb’s voice. It just came up recently. The description of her captor resembles witness accounts of the guy who snatched your daughter on Birk Street. working on the kidnapper’s M.” Caleb said. and by what looks like the same guy. I’m not a big believer in psychic stuff and with all these girls kidnapped within six months of each other. There’s no way they’ll let us come along on police business. The cop closed the door behind them. they’d be worried about the state they find Sarah in. the girl who was abducted over six months ago and then found safe in a basement.O. “But I think we should follow them in our own car. “It’s too close to where he is all the time.Caleb leaned closer and lowered his voice.” “Are you saying Dolan may be masterminding the kidnappings.” Amelia and Caleb look at each other. “It involves Kim Wepps.” “Tell us. They were alone. We’ve . He looked around the room and then beckoned them to join him. Besides. We want all the information we can get.” Amelia prodded.” Amelia nodded. “I suspect Dolan is involved in some way.” “Why are you telling us this?” Amelia asked. Kim Wepps was taken to an abandoned farm where Dolan found her while utilizing his psychic powers. “We were running some scenario’s. “Go on. Out of the corner of her eye she saw one of the tech guys staring at them. The kidnappings look like they’re following a geographical pattern. Caleb and Amelia stood up and followed the tech guy into Caleb’s den. “What’s going on?” Amelia asked. “I think there’s something the two of you should know. just seems a little strange to me. She put her hand on his shoulder and rubbed back and forth to calm him. just to be able to locate the victims and look good so the Psychic Fair is profitable?” Caleb asked.

if Dolan is kept in the dark.been able to link over a dozen kidnappings to the same guy or group in the past five years. There are kidnappings happening all over the country.” Amelia stepped back and leaned against the wall.” “Okay. Sarah will come home safe like all the rest of the victims before her and then we can work on Dolan. But. Detective Johnson doesn’t want him knowing anything until Sarah is brought home. If we tip Dolan off.” . but Dolan finds the victims of just this one kidnapper with the same M. all of those kidnapper’s lose their victim to Dolan and his psychic abilities.O. Coincidentally.” Caleb said. “To Lake George to get our daughter. things could go south. “Where’re you going?” the cop asked. taking her hand from Caleb’s shoulder. let’s go. “Why are you telling us this? Does Dolan know he may be linked to these kidnappings in some way? Or that you guys suspect it?” “Not yet. Whether Dolan is involved in a crime or he’s really psychic doesn’t matter with Sarah still out there.

Chapter 38 Gert took a deep breath, steadied himself, and then knocked again. Rustling sounds came from inside the trailer. Someone was definitely inside. He turned and checked behind him. Nothing moved except the natural flow of foliage in the gentle morning breeze that cruised through the area. Even the highway was quiet. He turned his eyes back to the trailer. More sounds came to him from behind the door. He leaned closer, almost touching the wood with his ear. It sounded like two people were whispering an argument. He knocked on the door with the butt of the gun. “Police! Open up!” The lock clicked. Gert stepped back a little, his gun raised. The door opened and a woman stepped into view. “Come out slowly, with your hands up. Is there anyone else in there with you?” He winked one eye, batting at a drop of sweat. “I need to see a badge. I heard shots and now I’m being ordered out of the trailer at gun point. You don’t look like a cop.” Gert knew a gun could be trained on him right now. What the hell was this place? If security was tight enough to use goons like the two dead guys in the back, then these people were being extra cautious for some reason. He lowered his gun in a friendly gesture. “I’m spooked too, ma’am. I drove around back for a routine visit of these premises and I get shot at. I have back-up en-route. An officer went missing sometime last night. Witnesses reported seeing his patrol car heading out of town in this direction. We’re just checking everything out.” Gert loved it when he thought quickly. The trailer was here yesterday so it was safe to assume someone saw him dump the cop car. He lifted his fake badge high enough for the woman to see. She leaned

forward and squinted in the sun. Only an expert would be able to tell this badge was a fake. The woman stepped from the trailer. “Is it okay if I keep my hands at my side? I’m not armed.” Gert nodded. “Just no sudden movements. Who’re you and why are you here? What is this place?” “My name is Denise Hall. I own this property. We were going to renovate the motel, then sell it.” “So why the two goons in the back? Why would they start shooting at a cop without provocation?” He felt like he actually sounded official. She moved away from him, her head hung down like she was thinking. He heard a cell phone ringing. “Do you mind if I take this call?” It would look suspicious if he said no. “Go ahead.” He watched her reach into her pocket and slowly pull out a cell phone. She flipped it open and said hello. He took the opportunity to scan the area; no one in sight. He looked at the trailer and saw nothing. When he looked back at her she had a strange look on her face. He couldn’t quite read it. He guessed she looked shocked and afraid. She said she’d call the person back and put her phone away fast. “Everything okay? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” “That was my mother. After over fifteen years, she calls me on my cell to warn me.” Her face lost color. The woman started shaking her head. She took another couple of small steps away from him. Something was wrong. Something he didn’t understand. He adjusted his grip on the gun handle where sweat was cooling his palm. At

any moment he might have to drop and shoot. “Why did you knock on the trailer door?” What an odd question. She must be pretty stupid. “If you had two people shoot at you for no reason you’d check the area out too.” “Right. But why not wait for back-up. Who knows how many people could be in that trailer.” She continued to move around until she was on the highway side of him. Now he stood with his back to the trailer. He wasn’t an idiot. He knew there was someone else in the trailer and he figured it was the girl. She stared at him. He’d run out of time. She was stalling. Something was wrong. He drew his gun up, fired, and jumped to the right all in one motion. His bullet missed the woman. This isn’t something he’d practiced a lot. It made him feel like he was in the movies. The ground was hard, nearly winding him when he landed on his right shoulder. The landing didn’t quite go as planned. Dust plumed up in a small torrent about his face. Someone was shooting at him now. Small explosions erupted inches from him. He rolled toward the trailer. Within seconds he was under the shelter of the trailer’s wooden steps. The woman was running past the SUV parked in the lot. She was going for the highway. He pointed and fired three quick shots off. He saw at least one hit her. She fell and grabbed her lower right leg. Her wails reached him with unnerving accuracy. Gert knew he wouldn’t be able to hear anyone in the trailer now. He turned and crawled deeper under it, constantly scanning the grounds

around him for legs. Dust filled his nose. By the time he got to one end of the trailer and rolled onto his back he couldn’t breathe too well. He got his elbows braced in the dirt. He edged out from under the trailer and looked up the side. A solitary window sat directly above him. He took one more look left and right. The woman still screamed a nasty wail. He felt it resonate through his body with a kind of joy. He squirmed forward, clearing the edge of the trailer. There were a couple of bullets left in his weapon. He would have to do this right the first time. He stood and peeked around the edge to get a look at the main door. No one was visible. The shooter was still inside. He took a large step toward the door and threw his badge inside the unit. While the badge was still in flight, he was hustled back for the window at the end of the trailer. He popped his head up and looked in. A large man stood staring at the door with a gun strapped on his shoulder. Gert put his gun to the screen side of the window. He aimed as best he could and fired all the remaining ammunition into the trailer. After the noise of his gun, the area had an eerie quiet to it. The woman in the parking lot of the motel had quieted her screams a little. He ducked down and scurried around the back where he came to another window. He eased up and looked in. The big guy was on the floor with his hands clamped around his neck. Blood gushed past his fingers. Gert was surprised at how little he felt when snuffing a life out. There had been too much killing and he was growing numb to it. The sun beat down on his back. He agreed with it. This place was hot. It was time to go before people started showing up. He ran around to the front and jumped on the stairs. His gun was empty, but

She appeared dazed. She was acting lethargic. This was his last chance. “Keys. She pointed at the left pocket of her slacks. “Give them to me and I won’t kill you. His little Automatic Writer. He bent and fished inside where he found a set of car keys.” Gert turned to leave and then stopped. He wasn’t moving now. He opened the back door of the SUV and pushed the girl inside without too much resistance. “Good. She was sprawled out.he kept it raised in a firing position anyway. . He had to find the girl. sweating and pale. The SUV would be a much better vehicle than the cop car. He had to get out of this place fast. Gert knew his boss was lying to him. blood circled around his head. A new plan formed when he stepped outside. Three steps got him to the woman on the ground. cradling her head in her hands. Gert ran to the back and found nothing.” Her left hand moved. She whimpered and shook her head. After the cop was killed on the highway.” he said. He turned around and headed in the other direction. Tell everyone who asks that I’ve got the girl and I will kill her if I don’t get what I want. He kicked the door five times before it buckled and broke open. waving his hand in the air. A wall had been built to block this part of the trailer off from the rest. He looked at the steering column. The big guy lay in the doorway. There had been so many things wrong about this from the start. He aimed the gun at her. And there was his prize. You tell them the truth of what happened here. no keys. grabbed her by the wrist and started for the door. There was no way he’d be able to go back living a normal life of small time jobs.

He turned and looked down at the woman in the dirt. Good. a cell phone. no other kidnappings. She’d been applying constant pressure. trying to staunch the flow. maybe he’d talk. His boss would want him dead because if he was captured. She probably called for help.” . He knew it was over. The blood had slowed its exit from her ankle area.There would be no other city. The team was dead. He noticed the sun glint off something in her hand. “Whatever you say to the cops will be heard by the man I work for. Tell them that I’ve decided I will finish this my way.

” “What do you know?” Dolan turned and looked at him. “I’m a little confused on this one.” “Are you saying he’s gone?” “Yes. Dolan?” “Sure.” Sam said. “I wonder if the weather’s gonna hold off. There’s something different about this case. Dolan didn’t answer him.Chapter 39 Sam looked through the windshield of the unmarked cruiser at the passing clouds. “I don’t know much yet. “What if we get this guy right now? He’s supposed to be in the cabin. right?” “When I first mentioned the cabin. “You okay.” .” “Why would certain information be blocked from you. Something you want to talk about?” Dolan shook his head. I said we had to work fast because the perp was planning to leave or was leaving at that very moment. I think so. Sam set his coffee back.” “You seem tense. but I’m being blocked this time. others gray and dreary.” “Close to you emotionally or in proximity?” He smiled and then asked. but it’s coming to me. They’d been on the side of the highway for fifteen minutes waiting for the ETF to give them the go ahead to approach the cabin. but other snippets come through? Don’t you usually get enough of the picture to be more than fifty percent right?” “Usually.” “How’s that?” Sam grabbed his coffee from the holder in the dash and took a sip. Some were dark with rain. “I know someone close to me is going to get killed.

I’ll show you what we’ve got. Come inside.” Sam nodded and looked at Dolan. Sam turned the car on and drove down a gravel road. his expression said. Could it work like repelling magnets? He didn’t want his colleagues thinking he couldn’t produce results. He parked and then he and Dolan exited the vehicle. He was staring off at the trees. Looks like they were here recently though. who would have the talent to know how?” Dolan shook his head. A soft rain started to patter down around them. until he took the left hand turn onto the cabin’s private drive. Sam thought. He considered that maybe everything seemed different this time because the person he was trying to locate also had a psychic talent. He looked up as one of McKinley’s men waved them in. Dolan shook his head. no big deal. Get more hands-on so it would appear to everyone that he was trying to solve this thing too. Yet he knew there would be signs in the cabin to show that Sarah had been here. McKinley walked up to him. “Sam. Someone whistled outside. I’ve got some thinking to do. He shrugged his shoulders like he just lost a baseball game. Sam followed his gaze and saw nothing there. signs that would vindicate him as a psychic. .” Dolan stood under a tall pine tree watching McKinley’s men coming and going through the cabin. Well it was a big deal. He reasoned this would probably be a good time to get more involved in the investigation. “Just get it over with.“Blocked? How does that happen? And who would block you? Or better yet. “You coming in?” he asked. Oh well. we’re too late.

He stepped out from under the pine tree and into the light rain. The air held a faint wet wood smell which made him think of the Sky Blue motel. He stopped halfway to the cabin. Sky Blue? He looked up. Rain came from darkened clouds with no blue sky anywhere. Motel? Where did that come from? He trudged up the steps of the cabin. The kitchen area held minor details of residency; utensils in disarray, scraps and crumbs on the counter top, chairs left astride the table. He could hear McKinley talking about Sarah in one of the back rooms. He headed that way and peeked in. The men were standing by a small desk with books scattered on top. McKinley turned to him. “It looks like you are good at what you do. Fingerprints in this room at first glance appear to be Sarah’s. We’ll have confirmation shortly. Now, if you could just lead us to where she is and not where she was.” Dolan nodded at him, turned around and walked out of the cabin. The rain had subsided to a gentle mist. A soft breeze wafted through the trees causing them to serenade him with a billowing leaf hum. Someone shouting caught his attention. It looked like McKinley’s men had stopped a car from entering. Then he recognized Caleb’s voice. What was he doing here? Was Amelia with him? He would have to deal with this. They would want to know where their daughter was. Why wasn’t she where he said she would be? Was she still okay? It would all boil down to one thing, was there still any hope? He hurried up to the road. Sarah’s father was out of the car, using his arms to illustrate his frustration at being denied access to the cabin. Caleb saw him and called him over. “Did you find Sarah? Is she okay?”

His face looked desperate. Since Caleb hadn’t seen his daughter yet and he wasn’t allowed on the premises, Dolan figured Caleb was thinking the worst. “She’s gone. We missed her. I’m sorry.” Caleb gasped. A small yip came from inside the car. “I mean she’s not here. There is evidence she was, but we’re too late.” Caleb frowned, holding the open door of his car with both hands. “So she’s… whoever was here has left the area?” “Yes.” “I thought you’d done this before. I thought you were the best. What went wrong?” “Nothing went wrong. The information isn’t absolutely accurate all the time. I’m not a fax machine. I don’t receive a detailed list and then we all follow the instructions. Only God knows everything.” He realized his tone came across harsher than he intended, but everyone needed to take a step back. “What are you talking about? Either you see things or you don’t. These are people’s lives you’re dealing with. You can’t send everyone on wild goose chases.” “It’s not that simple. I wish it was, but it’s not. She was here, but she isn’t now.” One of McKinley’s men stepped up between Dolan and Caleb. He told Caleb he would have to clear the road. Get back in his car and move it to the highway. Caleb mumbled under his breath and leaned down to get in his car. He put it in gear and started to back out. Dolan turned towards the cabin to see Sam coming out the front door. He was talking on his cell phone. A moment later he flipped it shut and beckoned Dolan over. “A woman by the name of Denise Hall is being rushed to Liberty Memorial Hospital with a gunshot wound to her ankle. Emergency crews found her alive

along with three dead bodies at an abandoned motel called the Sky Blue.” Dolan stared at him. Sky Blue Motel. “What’s up? You look surprised.” Dolan realized his mouth was open. “I’m not used to having information given to me this way.” “What way?” Sam mocked exaggeration. “The name of the motel came to me ten to fifteen minutes ago, but that’s all I got. Nothing else. Now you come up and tell me things I should’ve known. It seems to be happening too fast.” Sam flipped open his notebook and scanned down some of the notes he’d made. “Apparently she owns the building and was recently renovating it. The three dead men were security, although word is they were heavily armed and two of the dead may be attached to the Ward family. The bad news is yet to come.” Dolan nodded for Sam to go on. “It looks like the FBI has an interest in the Ward family. One of the two dead was an informant. He was one of theirs. And get this. Denise says a teenage girl with missing hair was taken by the guy who shot her ankle.” Dolan was struck with a thought. “What was the woman’s name again?” “Denise Hall.” Dolan snapped his fingers. “That’s Esmerelda’s daughter. Sarah said something to Mary Bennett about Esmerelda’s daughter; something about her getting hurt. So she is psychic.” He said this last part to himself. “Here’s why they called us. They found a cop car at the back of the motel. It was stolen earlier in the morning. Local police knew that we’re looking for the guy who killed the cop on the side of the highway and stole his car. They wanted to give us the head’s up. But they also had a message from this woman. She said the perp told her to tell the police that he was going to finish things his way now.

She said the guy told her whatever she tells the police, his boss would hear it too.” Dolan watched Sam as he wiped the edge of his mouth twice. He looked disturbed, bothered. “What’s got me is the message from the kidnapper. If his boss will hear whatever Denise tells the cops, then that would lead us to believe that his boss is in our ranks. The media is concentrating on the cop killer case. There hasn’t been media frenzy on the kidnapping so the only people who would be privy to Denise’s comments would be everyone working directly on the kidnapping of Sarah Roberts. I’m also concerned about the dead informant, not to mention the Ward family connection. This case is becoming something much bigger than it already is.” Dolan looked away, thinking about Esmerelda. The rain started again. He heard Sam’s cell ring. He felt Sam stepping away from him to get out of the rain. Dolan walked over to a large pine to find a moment’s shelter. The whole time he felt Sam’s eyes on him. Things were going wrong fast. And now everyone on this case was going to be suspicious of each other. Dolan wondered how he’d get out of this and keep his hands clean.

she found it too difficult to pry in her .Chapter 40 Sarah opened her eyes and then snapped them shut. She turned her head to the wall behind her and saw the leather strap was tied with rope to a pipe that protruded from the wall. she used both hands to yank on the strap. Her tongue lolled around in her mouth like a foreign snake. untied. Her head still pounded. Heat from the sun bathed her skin. making her shut her eyes hard. bits of the wall falling loose. The sun hit her face full on. She lowered her head closer to her hand so she could massage the right temple. Coiled as it was. More drywall crumbled away. Through half closed eyes she could see her only company was garbage. it was bolted to the pipe. When she tugged with her left wrist. She rolled onto her back. She managed to get her eyes open past slits. A gentle breeze pushed a newspaper past chunks of broken glass. She looked around. even as the light from the sun hammered at her head. She looked at her hands and found only her left wrist had a leather strap tied to it and bolted. She was in what looked like a rundown building that appeared to be abandoned. No one in sight. Like her wrist. Candy wrappers littered an area that looked like a trash bag had been upturned. but some things were more important. She examined the knot and the thick lock it was bolted with. It made her think she was lying in the desert. it caught in mid air. but the pipe stood firm. In a sitting position. She moved both legs back and forth and was elated to find them free. She yanked harder causing the pipe to shake more. Graffiti covered the walls. The windows were gaping holes where glass used to be. She tugged again and watched the pipe waver where it was connected.

“Do you fear death?” he asked. “You’re awake. A feeling of ease came over her. That nervous pang. Could she get an ulcer from being nervous? “This will all be over within days. . When was the last time she had anything to eat? Her tongue moved through an arid existence. She could handle this. She picked up the water bottle and drank from it again. enjoyed the cold feeling in her throat. sticking to the inner edges of her mouth. A smaller lock kept the leather strap on her wrist. With both feet placed against the wall she yanked again. unscrewed the white cap and guzzled almost half the bottle. She touched the back of her neck where she found some hair. Sarah didn’t respond. spilling some down her chin.weakened state. She wondered if her stomach would ever be the same. Nothing. She heard footsteps. She lashed out. Someone was coming. He was here again. It made her think of some kind of bondage apparatus.” Her captor walked over to her and sat two bottles of water by her feet. using resources she didn’t know she still had. She turned around and leaned back. A cooling breeze from the nearest window sailed across her face. but she could handle this.” Did that mean he was going to let her go? She didn’t think so. The constant butterflies. The water was cool. She felt it hit her stomach. Everything was right back where they left off at the motel when she’d given him the slip. The pipe remained fixed to something behind the wall. sitting up. She hadn’t gotten away. He sat down on the floor across from her.

” Sarah watched him from the corner of her eye.” She jerked her head around causing her headache to flare. Then we’ll be even. “I’ve decided I need to kill someone from your family. Some things are scarier than just losing your life. She got in a defensive stance. “After you’re dead. Her mother would be worried about her and her father was probably pacing back and forth trying to figure out what to do. In that moment she could see the craziness behind those eyes. “Why are you pulling your hair?” After she didn’t answer. It looked like . It made perfect contact with his cheek.She didn’t know when she’d get another chance. he shrugged his shoulders and sat back. I will kill your mother. Her voice surprised her with its sandy grate. I guess some girls take longer than others. I’ll use a car to run her down in the road like you did to my brother. matching the throbbing in her head.” He did an exaggerated nod of his head.” She wondered if he was serious or just taunting her. He pulled out his cell phone and held it up. “You think you’re tough? Is that it?” He got his feet under him and stood up. his eyes wide. leaning on his outstretched arms.” she said. What do you think? Would that be fair?” “You can’t be serious. her hand tightening on the water bottle. “I see now I’ve got your attention. Her fingers seized and pulled hard on the hair nestled in the most sensitive spot at the top of her neck. She eased back against the wall as he walked away from her. “I’m surprised you haven’t broken yet. you know. He’d already done so much damage to her family. before bouncing off and sliding away on the floor. Sarah used all the leverage she had to swing the water bottle. “I think I will execute your mother. Her breath came out in pants.

After clenching his fist a couple of times. population control. let me tell you about murder. That’s why we have World Wars. A moment later he rounded the corner at the end of the room and left her alone. If people only died from old age. rubbed an eyebrow and turned in a half circle. “Believe it or not. She watched as he frowned. “What’s up?” “Tell me how close the police are.” She understood that he was gone. She tried to tune him out. He lifted his arm. but he kept on going. Humans are at the top of the food chain. What’s my next move?” . especially after what this guy told the woman when he stole her SUV at the motel. In the meantime. Trust me when I say. That’s what murder does. completely out to lunch. I’m doing something for the greater good when I kill people. Were they close? Would the police rescue her? She didn’t have much faith in them. *** Gert hit redial and put the phone to his ear.he was checking for signal strength. “I’m waiting for a call. She wondered what her parents were doing right now. It rang three times before his employer picked it up. She grabbed the rope and started to pull with renewed fervor. It was looking more and more like she was going to have to get out of this on her own. I will kill you and we’ll all be better off. She opened the other water bottle and drank from it. We aren’t hunted by anything or anyone other than ourselves. “Everyone who dies is making room for the rest of us.” Sarah slinked back down against the wall. the world would be over populated way before now. he flipped open his cell phone and walked away. checked the watch on his wrist and then swore to himself.” He turned back to her.

You’ve gone too far this time. Don’t forget. You should keep her alive until you get somewhere safe. and then see if you can use it to your advantage. but he kept it up. everyone will be more cautious.” Gert’s forehead was hurting now. Life was so frustrating. You killed three more people at the motel. He turned towards it and started to tap his forehead back and forth against the chipped paint.“There is no next move. This is the kind of thing you escape by leaving the country. your brother and I have been doing this?” “I don’t know. As it stands. I go down. Not to mention the cop you almost killed when you hit him in the throat.” “Why do you do that?” “Because I like the feeling when I stop. Maybe two?” “Right.” Gert flipped his phone shut. That’s all I can offer you. You’re on your own. fuck head.” “I’ve got proof of your involvement. “Are you banging your head against the wall again?” “Yes. And don’t call me again. They won’t hesitate to shoot you if you’re alone. you go down too.” “Wait! What’re you talking about?” “How many people have we murdered in the years you. I’m hanging up and burning this cell phone.” Gert listened to all this while he leaned against one of the buildings walls. I’m thinking the FBI will be getting involved soon. You will never be able to reach me again. but if they know you have the girl. “My advice is to find out what this girl can do psychically. they might be organizing some kind of manhunt. no one will believe you if you tell them I was involved.” “You’re fucked. That would’ve been two cops dead. .

Besides. That would have to be a last resort. he wanted to see his brother again. his brother would be there waiting. He realized more than ever this was past saving. The pipe she was attached to was bent and sticking halfway out of the wall. Although. She was startled by his shout. He was sure. . “Write something. But what was he going to do about the girl? He cursed under his breath. Fumbling with the pad. A minute later he walked back into the room that housed his prisoner. Cuba. blood all over her while he put the gun under his chin. Sarah splayed out. tossing the implements at her. Now he was getting angry. He bent down and used a key from his pocket to undo her leather strap. Kill as many as he could get before they took him. It was time to start thinking about what country he was going to live in. As long as he didn’t get arrested for anything or fingerprinted. wherever he was going. He headed to the SUV for a pen and paper. she opened it and got her pen ready. If she hadn’t meddled in their affairs. the police wouldn’t stop looking for a cop killer. Mexico. He could choose death by cop. There was always a way out. It took him a long frustrating minute maneuvering the rope to get it undone. He had to think. He knew the public never really had any idea how many unsolved murders and missing persons were out there.He moved away from the wall. His brother would still be alive.” he said. everything would be fine. “What do you want me to write?” she asked in a whisper. She had been busy. he was pretty safe. “What?” “WRITE SOMETHING!” He saw her jump back. after death. somewhere in South America? An image of murder/suicide crossed his mind. There would be no going back to the old way of life.

If you’ll let me keep this pen and paper. Sarah. He tightened his grip enough to close her windpipe. “Make me happy. holding her neck. but nothing came out.” He let go of her neck and yanked his gun from his waistband. sometimes more.” “It doesn’t work like that.” “Today it does. Sometimes once a week. gasping for air.” He smiled as he thought most people escape their nightmares by waking up.” she stammered. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. He reached out and forced her back down. “The blackouts come and go. “Only…when I…blackout…” “I can help that along.“Whatever your informer gets you to write. “What’d you say?” He released her enough to talk. She was trying to speak. I never know when until I look in my notebook and see a message there.” Gert lunged forward and grabbed her neck.” He stood up and looked around.” She struggled to sit upright.” “I’m not going to give you much time. She slumped down. . “Not knocked unconscious…involuntary blackouts. Sarah escaped hers by going to sleep. I’ll be able to write something when the next blackout comes. “No.

The letter had been from Sarah. I guess we thought this would come together quicker than it has. “We probably put too much stock in Dolan coming up with this location so fast. She said she knew something dangerous was working its way towards her.Chapter 41 Sam pulled his car alongside Sarah’s parents.” Caleb said. She had to try to stop a kidnapping. “that you’ve jumped on the investigation. Mr. “We just want our daughter back safely. “You guys hanging in?” Sam asked. Ryan. Dolan watched as Sam and Caleb rolled their respective windows down at the same time. but got . averting his eyes around Sam. He said it as if they were high school chums years ago and this was a routine 'how are ya?' “I don’t want to give you a hard time detective. I mean. she felt she’d make it because the one who writes through her wouldn’t send her to death after all the good she’d done. Sarah had written a line twice and Dolan wasn’t sure if she was trying to convince him or herself. He’d pulled it out and saw his name on the outside.” he said this. Dolan had folded the note up intending to share it with everyone. When he was touching things in Sarah’s bedroom he came across an envelope under her pillow. The line said that whatever trouble came her way. so he pulled the paper out and unfolded it. It’s just hard for us to not see Sarah here. something to cue his gift into action. And I appreciate Dolan. I’ve heard about some of your successes. She had no choice as she was pulled by her conscience.” Dolan flashed back to the note he found when he was wandering the Roberts’ house looking for something to attach himself to. but it was unavoidable.” Dolan nodded. He caught a glimpse of Amelia wiping a tear from her cheek. It wasn’t sealed.

We will catch this guy. The rain had subsided when they were still at the cabin. His cell phone rang.distracted.” “What can you tell for certain?” Dolan detected an edge of hostility in Sam’s voice. I’d lose my badge. this may come together faster than you think. If not today. Dolan turned around to see Caleb reversing onto the shoulder of the highway and stop there. “Well. this would probably be over by tomorrow. We’re on our way to talk to a woman who saw your daughter and her kidnapper just a few hours ago.” Caleb said. It was Alex. “We’re all doing our best. We also know the vehicle and plate number the perp is driving.” Dolan read persistence on Caleb’s face. Hang in there. “She gonna make it Dolan?” He looked over at Sam. That’s up to you. He figured now wasn’t the best time to bring it up.” Sam dropped the cruiser into gear. “If this woman was the last known person to see my daughter then Amelia and I want to talk to her too. Sam flipped the wipers on as they came behind a tractor trailer. “Can’t tell for certain. you can’t come with us. Not with people putting less faith in him as it is. but it’s a free country.” Caleb said. I’m not able to stop you if you were to go to Liberty Memorial to see Denise Hall. We’ve got a description and which direction they were headed in. his assistant. Dolan updated him on the situation and when he’d get back to the fair. but the road was wet.” “We’re following you to this woman. “I can’t let you do that. . he told him.

. It would mean she was destined to get out of this alive. she would be quite upset about being sent precognitions regarding murder. For the last hour he sat up front. and herself feeling honor bound because of what happened to her sister to do something about it. How come the message giver didn’t tell her how things were supposed to be? It’s unfair to play with her like this. Sarah leaned back and stared at the note. Sarah looked away and tried to focus on the note in the dark backseat. It came in three parts with one of the parts fading away. They had been traveling all day.Chapter 42 This was the first time the message was prophesying murder. she never expected them to get personal. Reading the note in her hand. after months of getting cryptic messages about people in peril. She worried as his actions grew increasingly harried. Could this be a test? Maybe she was being elevated to handle bigger and more serious tasks when this was all over. If she wasn’t being held against her will at this very moment. He was coming undone. Sarah found two things peculiar. Sarah sat in the backseat of the SUV. That thought offered hope. The sun had gone down. the message on the paper in front of her was the most serious one yet. Although she knew there was always a possibility things could get scary. she was sent out like a fly that has now gotten caught in this web. How much trauma could she take? Especially since she’s prone to depression. One. Two. listening to the radio and talking to himself. He’d pulled over to grab food and twice to let her go pee in the bushes. the clock on the dash said it was after one in the morning. They were going the speed limit. She’d fallen asleep for a while and now when she looked over the seat.

When she did that. How could she know where to be when people were in trouble? How could she know to bring a hammer that day? Unless she was . she maneuvered around and leaned on her left. She reached down to retrieve it and noticed something written on the backside. The “c” was half written and the “e” on police was not there. Maybe seen as a package it would lend more credence to the message. Gert’s boss will kill him. She knew she had to show him something. Vivian Roberts. They held a random existence. Could this process be a part of her and because she knew she needed something. It was a name. The second part was the murder prophecy. Gert’s boss works with police. trying to burrow into her arm. With her right side feeling the effects of sleep. Sarah rubbed at the leather strap wrapped around her wrist. The skin was red and itching. This was the first message that pertained to the here and now. Messages couldn’t be relied upon. He’d ordered something written and now he will get it. One that was relative to the situation she was facing. Sarah considered how much of this she wanted to give Gert. the paper left her grasp.Don’t thump. the messenger came through? Or was Sarah the messenger through some subconscious place? The part of her that wakes up when her conscious mind passes out? She dismissed that idea. to undermine him? It’s better to show him all of it so he could see the mystery of the first riddle. And the third line was the one that ran out. but what? What if he thinks she just made it up. It coincided with Gert’s warning and timeframe. It almost felt at times like little critters were crawling around. better to be savage. rip and tear.

She would either have to rely on the Other Side for directions. A sheen of sweat covered her body. but she didn’t think so. . drive cars. and even commit murder while remaining asleep. She just hoped she wouldn’t have to kill again. or handle it herself. Could she be sleepwalking. People have used somnambulism as a defense in court and won. She had to get away from Gert. She recalled reading somewhere that sleepwalkers could open doors.psychic and in the infancy of the gift. just with a different method to it? She brought her legs up under her and hugged them. The floor was cold.

She was missing a certain amount of hair. Amelia and Caleb only got a minute out of her before she fell into a drug induced sleep. They walked up and entered their house which didn’t seem like it was theirs anymore. she thought. Amelia stepped away from Caleb. The mirror reminded her she hadn’t applied make-up since the morning of the Psychic Fair. flipped off the headlights and sat back.” She saw him nod and turn for the kitchen. She was okay. When they finally got to talk to Denise Hall. a few bruises. Caleb put the car in park. sipping coffee. One very closed to the world.Chapter 43 Amelia thought the house looked different as they approached. She wondered how she could stand to lose another child. She would certainly become a different person. . She left the bathroom only to collapse on her bed. the house felt empty. “I need to be alone for a little while. She got up and walked into the bathroom. Amelia flopped on the bed and looked up at the ceiling. like her soul was burdened by the weight of grief. Amelia sat and went over what this stranger had said about her daughter. When she entered the bedroom. She looked tired. Something about it at night made it look sad. Caleb did the same. turned off. She took the stairs slow. There was nothing she could do but wait for other people to do things. She felt so helpless and exhausted. she was being sedated for the pain. For as many people that were there. It had been an exhausting day. The relentless interview schedule with different police agencies had worn her out. It was starting to drive her crazy. She opened the car door and stepped out. tears streaming down her cheeks. It felt foreign with the police officers milling around.

This was the second time a daughter of hers was kidnapped. She fell asleep crying into her bed sheets at the chaos her life had become. She would do whatever’s necessary to make sure this won’t be the second time a daughter of hers gets killed. . She wept because she couldn’t put it back together again.

He didn’t want Amelia to hear. Not loud enough to bother anyone. “I need some answers. An officer stood flipping pages back and forth on a clipboard. Things will go downhill fast if we were to leave and then the call that saves your daughter comes in with no one here to monitor it. He was beside a temporary workstation set up by the kitchen phone line. He raised the stakes. I don’t want to be told that we’re sitting on our fucking asses waiting for some kidnapper to call. so there’d be no way we could abandon this post knowing that the one person he has with him.” “I understand that you guys are the experts and that you’ve done all this before. we get a call with a list of demands.” The officer set the clipboard down on the table behind him.” “Most of the time.” Caleb figured these guys deal with angry people for a living.Chapter 44 Caleb walked through the main floor of the house and stopped in the kitchen where he grabbed a small glass and opened a bottle of brandy. Most of the time. “It would be better if we stayed. lives here.” Caleb said. Caleb was just another upset father. The kidnapper is more aggressive. He turned it on to the local rock station and turned up the volume. So why don’t you all just leave. but high enough to drown out what he was going to do. in cases like this one.” . he left the kitchen and approached the stereo in the living room. To him.” Caleb mocked. “This isn’t most of the time because there’s been no call. but it’s different this time. “We’re here in the hopes that we intercept a call. There are no demands. “I need to know what we’re doing here. He’s got my daughter and he’s out there killing people.” “Every cop in the country is looking for him. After two quick shots. He shot one of ours.

“FBI. Caleb stood a little off center. were you?” Caleb mouthed the word ‘no’. “You weren’t expecting anyone. with the officer putting himself against the wall behind it. “Your Task Force is being dismantled. They started for the door.” The cop reached past Caleb and looked out through the small window beside the door. but the cop grabbed his arm. He spun and started for it.” . but he couldn’t stop talking.” she was talking to the cop. Open up. Special Agent Fergus Mant. so I practically begged – ” A knock on the door silenced him. “Who is it?” he shouted in a stern voice.He didn’t want to hear anything more the cop was saying. We’re in charge now. I’ll have my own people handle things from here. Then he unlocked and opened it. Caleb watched as they showed identification and stepped in. “My name is Special Agent Jill Hanover and this is my partner. Everyone pack up and leave. “What about Dolan? I thought he could help.

“FBI is taking over the case.” Sam raised his free hand to his forehead.” “I am the FBI. He wants everyone out. It had to be Dolan.Chapter 45 Sam jolted awake.” “We’ve got a problem. His cell phone rang. He bent down. You better get here fast before this Roberts guy gets arrested.” Sam slammed his phone on the bed and looked across the room at the door that stood between his and Dolan’s room.” “It is. Something woke him up but he wasn’t sure what. “Detective Sam Johnson here. “Why are you doing that?” He swung his legs off the bed and sat up. The Special Agent in charge is trying to calm him down. His hand found the light switch of the bedside lamp on the third ring. The task force was commissioned by the FBI.” Sam was wide awake now. The cell was on the floor. And he knew that difference lay with Dolan. Whatever the problem was he was sure Dolan was at the root of it. This can’t be happening. Why was the FBI sending a team to take over a kidnapping case from the multi-jurisdictional task force set up to handle the kidnapping cases? “I’m on my way.” “What’s the problem?” “It’s Mike. He knew there was something different about this case. We’re dismantling all our equipment and leaving the Roberts’ house. He fumbled in the dark trying to remember where he’d placed it in this shoddy motel room. . snatched and flipped it open in one movement.

He called over his shoulder to meet him in the coffee shop in the lobby when Sam was ready. “I’m ready to go.” “I was.” Dolan said. stretched.He got up.” Dolan stepped away from the door and grabbed his duffel bag. His hand was in mid air. thinking about the questions Dolan was going to have to answer soon. “It’s four-thirty in the morning. I thought you’d be sleeping. I got up and dressed. and walked over to the door. but when I found out the FBI was taking the case from you. how long have we been doing this? You know I have my ways. about to knock when the door unlocked and flipped open from the other side. . Sam shut the adjoining door and started getting dressed. He heard nothing coming from Dolan’s room.” “How did you find out?” “Come on Sam.

She rolled her head to the side and got her eyes open enough to guess the time as early morning. Within minutes they were on the highway. She was surprised with his strength and equally aware of the loss of strength in her legs. its side door slid open. the air cool. She looked at her feet as they hustled along but lost her balance and fell head first to the dirty wooden floor. maybe she was supposed to be taken so her actions would get these guys caught. The sun was up. He pushed her in the back and slammed the door shut. With both hands he yanked her up and started her walking again. The message giver from the Other Side wouldn’t send her into this knowing so many people’s lives were in danger. She could barely hold herself up. Birds flitted past the open windows of the building she sat in. The driver’s side door opened and Gert got in. Her hands fell free of restraint. A hand wrapped around her arm and lifted her. She was the one in charge usually. around a corner and out of the building through an old loading dock.Chapter 46 Sarah felt something tugging on her wrists. not the person who needed the help. Sarah looked behind her and saw a . Sarah leaned up on an elbow and started to massage her right wrist. She was the one helping people. They went down a flight of stairs. But it probably wasn’t the case. A black van sat idling. How many days had it been? How long before it was all over? She couldn’t continue this way. Pain shot from her ankles. Was all this part of the process? Was this the plan? Instead of stopping the kidnapping from taking place. because too many people have been killed. She wondered if her message giver knew what was going to happen to her when she sent her to stop the kidnapping on Birk Street.

“That’s why you’re not tied up right now. She opened it and flipped through a few of . She could see him watching her from the rearview mirror. “You were right. Although it made sense because she hadn’t eaten in at least three days. She was zapped of any energy and she knew he wasn’t afraid of her. It worried her to be so out of it. by the way.small wooden bench along the backdoor of the van. He turned and faced her. not sure how to respond yet.” Gert drove down an exit ramp and pulled up to a red light. I’ve provided a pen and paper by the bench there. I want your hands free to write if you go into another trance of some kind.” Sarah picked up the paper and pen. He almost looked happy today. “I saw what you wrote. She looked away. The last day or so was a blur. You might make it. She edged over and sat up on it. He hadn’t set any restraints on her wrists or ankles. I already figured that out for myself. then an SUV. and then another building. I should tell you though. “My boss does work with the police. Maybe something will be useful to me.” “About what?” Sarah asked. Like how can I get out of this?” “You don’t need me for that.” he pointed to her left. She was in a building. I have to thank you for the inside tip about him wanting to kill me.” Sarah realized the message had calmed him.” he said. Let me go here and run for Mexico. Anything else you want to write for me would be useful. “The only reason I’m talking to you is because of this talent you have. Sarah was sure he didn’t forget.” “Cute. There was a reason. “Write as much as you can in the time we have left together.

After all. “If you try any funny business of any kind. the note said Gert’s boss works with the police. But could he be the guy that was Gert’s boss. Get the circulation in her hands and legs going so she could run. She thought about Dolan. She thought about a plan. coupled by the numbness in her left arm warned a blackout was coming. She’d left a note for him.” Sarah whispered. .the wire bound pages. you die. The light had changed to green. She slid to the floor and grabbed the pen just as she lost consciousness. Who else works with the police? The familiar stirrings in her vision. Are we clear?” “Yes. Gert spun back around and started the van forward. It didn’t say the boss was a cop.

“On what grounds are you here? My task force was put together years ago. She was looking at Mrs. A member of the Ward family has been shot. It felt disrespectful. Roberts.” she said and walked away from Sam and Dolan. He looked over at Dolan who seemed to have a resigned look on his face. It pissed him off. The dash clock said 6:30am. A woman Sam didn’t recognize appeared to be consoling her. “An officer has been killed and another officer assaulted. I asked?” He didn’t want to get angry. You must be Detective Sam Johnson.” “On what grounds. The wind had picked up. introductions made.Chapter 47 Sam could see the FBI cars parked out front as he pulled into the Roberts’ driveway. At the front door someone pulled a curtain back and then opened it. “We will continue this conversation on the back deck. “I’m Special Agent Jill Hanover.” she stopped talking and turned away.” “Not anymore. Roberts sitting on a couch. Sam gritted his teeth and followed her. Sam saw Mrs. Both of them just sat there. Do you know how many agents are involved with the Ward family? An eighteen year old is out there. watching the sky get lighter and brighter the closer they got to the Roberts’ house.” Hands were shook. He could see she’d been crying. nor have a confrontation with a fellow officer of the law. He stepped out onto the back deck. but he was so close to finishing this that he didn’t want to let it go. They all stepped inside. The sun was rising when they got there. We’re handling this case. This was the first time he’d ever been removed from a case. Sam followed Jill’s eyes. It was tossing . a Kleenex in hand. They didn’t talk much on the way from the motel. A woman stepped onto the front porch with her hand out.

All the paperwork you need from us is at the front for you to sign. She had to keep brushing it aside. Relinquish all your files to my partner agent Fergus Mant and don’t think about any Lone Ranger stuff or you’ll be dealing with obstruction charges. Within a couple of days. we’ve got an eighteen year old girl out there with this maniac and you still think this is just a kidnapping. He heard Dolan close behind as he walked through the kitchen and down the hall to the front door. his tech guy.” Sam turned around and stormed off the wooden deck.” “It doesn’t matter anymore. Roberts. We don’t need you.” “I am quite aware of what’s happening. Sam paused for in the living room area and nodded at Mrs.agent Hanover’s long blond hair into her face. When he started this case he promised to do whatever he could to bring Sarah home safe. He wasn’t about to give up. Since they wouldn’t need him at the Roberts house anymore. this will be wrapped up. “Leave him out of this.” “It’s wrapped up now. there were some girls who may not have made it home. he told Mike to ride with him and Dolan. I’ll need everything you have so far. Without Dolan. Are you aware what the other officers are saying about you and your little psychic friend here?” Sam looked over at Dolan where he leaned against the railing of the wooden deck. The strong eastern wind was having its way with his short hair too. He may need him for something else. . He bumped into Mike. He would keep his promise. Mike said he’d meet them out front. “As I was saying. I asked him to be here because he’s helped us tremendously in the past. You’re both off this case. I’ve been at this long enough to know what I’m doing.

Our house. Thinking about Sarah only led to negative dark thoughts. She wondered where Sarah was right now. She got up and moved to the window. She hoped this would . But how couldn’t she? A part of her really felt she knew nothing about her daughter. the trees only bending slightly. Apparently it would be better for the parents to be here than in their own home while the police did their jobs.Chapter 48 Amelia sat alone on the edge of a bed in a room at a Holiday Inn. Caleb told her Sarah had saved Mary from a kidnapping. After her diagnosis of depression and subsequent prescription of Zoloft. she thought. In the distance she could see a highway. What was that all about? Mary was asked to lie for Sarah the night she was taken. that new female FBI agent wasn’t going to have him moping around the house. Amelia stepped away from the window and went back to the bed where she flopped down. After his little performance last night. Caleb had gone to have lunch by himself and Tracy had gone to her own room next door. What had her daughter been up to? Amelia used both hands to run through her hair and tighten her grip in frustration as she realized that she was thinking about Sarah again. trucks and cars racing by. Amelia didn’t know how much she’d be able to handle. Amelia knew this was only to help control Caleb. getting in the way. Evidently her daughter hadn’t. The wind had died down a little. Then she stopped herself. The FBI psychologist had insisted on adjoining rooms. Yet she always thought she did. Amelia felt a deeper connection with Sarah.

No one knew she was here but Caleb and the FBI and Tracy was in the next room. How is a parent supposed to lose both her girls to kidnappers? Wasn’t one enough? She didn’t think she’d be able to handle losing Sarah. “Who is this?” “Vivian. she’s alive. Her heart beat a pulse through her. “Hello. The knocking on the motel room door was a . It sounded like the wind at the end of a tunnel. but unseeing. “No. Why would Caleb call her? He was just down the hall in the restaurant. Amelia wiped a tear away. The phone rang.” At first she heard nothing. A young female voice whispered. “I’m okay. “Who is this?” she shouted. Life had to get back to some sort of reasonable control. “I’m okay. she shivered as goose bumps roamed her arms.” The voice faded away.be all over soon. The incessant ring came a third time. She could hear someone knocking on the motel room door. I’m with Sarah. Amelia picked it up. “Hi. She switched the phone to her left hand and pressed it hard against her left ear. breath coming in gasps. mommy. It rang again.” “Is Sarah dead?” She wondered why she was playing along with this.” That couldn’t be. She looked at it.” the soft female voice whispered. Her eyes were wide. What a cruel trick. Then a distant sound came to her. This was the worst trick someone could play on her.” The hairs on her neck rose.

my baby. Whether he believed it or not. She wasn’t going to talk to Caleb with the psychologist hanging around. . “What happened? Why were you screaming?” He kneeled down and placed his arms around her.hammering now. “A note will be left for you in a van.” Amelia collapsed on the floor between the beds. Amelia knew she’d talked to her daughter. She felt Caleb move his hand. They held each other. If the line between sanity and insanity had been crossed then she knew exactly what side of the line she was on. She knew it with the maternal instinct God gave her. subtly asking Tracy to leave them alone. Amelia heard the soft hush of the door shutting. “Vivian! Vivian! Oh. She looked up at her husband and told him everything. And now she was determined to get out of this motel room and find a van with a note in it.” The line went dead. Caleb rushed up. Amelia could feel Tracy in the room. The motel room door flew open.

she’d have to take it. The currency of hope was almost paid out. It made her pull a little more. She’d gone way too far in the years past with her hair. She didn’t know how she could still be going after all the people she’d seen killed. who probably had a family. injuries and near death situations for the last six months had changed her. She cared. Getting those prophetic messages and then acting on them. Everything always felt better with the pulling. It was like she was jaded now. She’d felt hunger in the past. Two days? Or could it be longer than that? Four days? She leaned back and stretched out across the wooden bench. Only stray patches remained on her head. he’d never know the difference. she actually thought she was doing something good. But no else does. Try to ignore the pain. She could handle this. she placed them together on her stomach and shut her eyes. but not like this. Yet this situation had changed her too. She didn’t want to be the one to let go. The cop on the highway. but what else was there? If there ever was a chance to run. This game of ruining lives he played was ending. she reached up and yanked hair inside the bandana line. She imagined this was how she’d look in her coffin. Who cared anyway? It didn’t matter what she looked like. With her eyes closed. The only reason she had the ability to get through this was because of the Automatic Writing. Think of better times. She thought of what she’d written down during the last blackout. “You asleep back there or are you having a blackout?” She didn’t answer him.Chapter 49 The cramps doubled her over. give up. Out of habit. Look at the mess she was in now. She once heard that the only thing that separated humans from animals was our capacity to hope and she wasn’t sure she possessed any of . didn’t have to die. With her hands out of her hair. Seeing violence. She couldn’t even remember how long she’d been with this sadist.

Her heart rate spiked along with her breathing. A knock on the window made her jump. The door opened and she felt the vehicle move a little under Gert’s weight. She left a small corner sticking out. The interior of the van became silent. I’ll pick up some take-out at this restaurant up ahead?” She felt the speed decrease.it. She couldn’t be with Gert any longer. A Volkswagen van was parked up ahead getting gas by a young brown haired guy. This ended now. She listened as he got out of his seat and made his way back towards her. She folded the rest of the pad and slipped it in her pocket. but not enough for the driver to notice. The transmission was shifted into park and the engine died. A slot between the bench and the side of the van was a perfect fit. She kept her eyes . She couldn’t handle more people dying. “I’ve got to get gas. Did he notice her movement? She wouldn’t risk opening her eyes yet. In a crouched position she made her way towards the front. This was her best chance. She grabbed the pad of paper Gert had given her and removed the note she’d written for her mother a half-hour ago. She was untied and unwatched. She kept her eyes closed and didn’t move. There was a moment of silence. He had stepped out. She opened her eyes and got up. An attendant wanted to know if he could fill the van with regular or super. It was just enough for someone to see if they were in the back. No hope. She wanted to open her eyes to see what he was doing. nothing to lose. Then she heard him shuffling to the front of the van. Then the gentle turn onto a gravel surface. He wore what looked like a gas station uniform with his name sewn into the left breast pocket. She tried hard to remain still.

” This isn’t working. He was gone. She told him to call the police discreetly as soon as he . You go hide behind a car at the back of the building or something. She had no time to be concerned with appearances though. He killed a cop on the highway. He won’t do anything crazy in public. I only saw the cover of today’s newspaper in the box over there. or he’ll kill me. “Please help.” “No. It wasn’t until she reached the passenger seat that she saw him. No you can’t. I’ll just pick up a phone and tell him I’m calling the police. gaunt. “What can I do for you?” he asked. She could tell he was staring at her eyebrows. My name is Sarah Roberts. She waved her hand for him to come over.” He pointed.” “Hold on. The attendant smiled and nodded his head as he lifted the nozzle out of the Volkswagen.” “Okay. looking for any sign of Gert. What a horrible time to start crying. Just stay hidden.” She tugged on his sleeve. Her clothes were in disarray and she probably looked dirty. Call the police. her legs wobbly. “He doesn’t care. Her eyes watered as she fought back tears. I have to be gone. He was inside the restaurant at the counter. The makeup she used to paint them on would have faded by now. She opened the driver’s side door and jumped down.” She darted a glance at the counter where she saw him moments before. Don’t you understand? He has nothing to lose. That man who asked you to fill up the van is a murderer.” Then she thought of something that would explain how she looked. He’s torturing me by slowly pulling all my hair out. “I’ve been kidnapped. “He’ll be coming back any minute. I do recall they were looking for a guy who kidnapped a girl. slow down. but strong enough to sustain her. You’ve got to help me. He won’t hesitate to kill you too.peeled on the windshield. “Look what he’s already done to me. she thought.

which amounted to this ordeal ending. Maybe until the cover of dark or when the police arrive. Gert came into view. Twenty more steps. She’d either make the cover of the trees or be shot. If he'd seen her making a break for it then he’d give chase or shoot her. Panic set in. Exposed. She stumbled on her weak limbs. She made it. like food.could. Something about death seemed desirable. Being blind was worse. She couldn’t see Gert either. The trees drew close. Cars raced by on the highway. The tree line would provide cover. Then she turned and started to hobble away. her mouth chewing. She felt eyes on her. While catching her breath she tried to hear if someone was pursuing her. Could this really be done? She’d wait in the trees for a few hours. He looked her way once before walking around to the front and heading for the restaurant. she gave it her all. Leaves and branches brushed her arms as she dropped down a small three foot rise. She peeked through the branches by pulling one down. out in the open. She ducked down. The gas attendant was out of sight. but managed to maintain her balance. She anticipated a bullet in the back at any moment. People in their own world. A flush came over her. She looked to her right. The cover of trees swallowed her. Her breathing hitched in her throat. She didn’t waste time to look over her shoulder. completely unaware an eighteen year old was running for her life. Then the gas attendant appeared at the side of the van pulling the nozzle out and replacing the gas cap. She was so hungry she could taste the smell coming from the gas station’s restaurant. She stopped about ten feet in. She pulled on a branch and raised . She could feel it. She’d escaped.

She was determined to put as much geography between her and Gert as she could.” Gert studied the guy. Maybe the kid noticed the bulge of the gun under Gert’s shirt and recognized it for what it was. . He spun around. He rubbed his hands together and looked down at them like the grease stains were suddenly very interesting. Was that male or female? She stopped running. But could she trust the police? Gert’s boss worked with the police? Her priority had to be her mother. A high pitched scream followed. She could see Gert and the attendant talking. He looked to be around seventeen. He looked past Gert’s shoulder. Could this kid have talked to the girl? He kept his eyes on the nervous kid while he stepped backwards to look in the vans windows. Gert was shaking his head. But something was wrong because the kid’s eyes couldn’t hold still. *** A loud crack in the air told Sarah that a gun had been fired. She stood trying to get her breathing under control.herself a little to look across the parking lot. then over to the pumps and on to a car going by on the highway. She turned around and started deeper into the thicket. Her breath came out in waves. He cupped his hands around his eyes to see all the way to the back. It came to fifty-eight dollars. The gas jockey was running. dropped the paper bag of greasy burgers and pulled his gun. Somehow contact her mother. Her thoughts started running into themselves. Someone was probably calling the police by now. then back. Gert guessed they were about six feet from the van. No Sarah. He almost made it to the safety of the restaurant. This was over for her. *** “You’re all filled up sir.

He’d lost her again. “SARAH! Come out. She saw blood pooling below his waist. He responded with only grunts and groans. She peeked through branches and saw Gert standing halfway between the van and the restaurant. Gert gritted his teeth. This can’t be happening. Small rivers of blood seeped through his fingers. his gun extended in front of him. The gas guy was on the ground.She decided she had to see what was going on. come out. Gert let go of him and stood up. Gert got down on his knees and pulled the kid’s face close to his. That’s who Sarah was now. He pressed the gun to the underside of the Steve’s jaw line. He noticed the kid’s name tag said Steve. A car squealed out of the station parking lot behind him. wherever you are. When he got close to the kid he saw what looked like a flesh wound on the calf muscle of his right leg. *** Gert walked towards the attendant. She saved people. “Where is she?” Steve lay there with both hands on his wounded leg. Someone was yelling inside the restaurant. He raised the gun in the air and fired. Without that. No sign of Sarah. . He wasn’t moving. she was better off dead. “I won’t ask again. How many people have to die for you?” *** Sarah ducked at the sound of gunfire. People were running for cover. Where is she?” Steve’s eyes rolled in his head as he fainted. She was close enough to hear Gert hollering.

dropped her face into her hands and lost the last bit of control she had. She sat in the dead leaf covered ground. She had nothing in her stomach to throw up. He fired into the roof of the restaurant. weakness in her stomach and legs. He pivoted around and saw Sarah making a break for the highway. and a heart which seemed out of rhythm. but it felt like something was coming. Sarah broke down with a deep feeling of despair. She leaned sideways against a small tree. . He was getting sloppy.” he yelled. He didn’t want to be known as a mass murderer. *** Gert raised his gun and fired through one of the front windows of the restaurant.Not again. Was this what absolute hopelessness felt like. “And yet another one bites the dust. ragged breath. Gert watched as she rolled directly in front of a large oil tanker. she asked herself. She had no idea what to do next. His brother would be proud with his restraint. How many people have to be shot for your freedom. The Sarah of fearless rescues was in over her head. The truck swerved. “That’s another one dead. Her body was reacting to the stress in ways she wasn’t familiar with. The boss hated mistakes. She let go of the branch and looked down at her hairless forearms. She could never let Gert have her again. How could he leave her untied and alone in the van? That was a huge mistake. Sarah?” Gert heard running footsteps behind him. As she hit the shoulder of the road she lost her balance and tumbled forward. He was careful to aim at the top of the main window.

The vehicle wasn’t slowing down. She touched the tender area of her shoulder. Brake lights came on. Her shoulder felt aflame now. Her hand came away with blood on it. one from either direction. It felt like the pebbles imbedded in her flesh were digging deeper. Please take me to a hospital. A large black car approached. Looks like Sarah wants to get run over. She looked back at the gas station and saw Gert walking towards her. She opened her eyes and used her left hand to ward off the sun. Gert dropped the gun to his side.” . she thought as she got up and put one foot in front of the other. “Are you okay?” It wasn’t Gert’s voice. Never again.Its horn blared as the driver got his vehicle back under control. He started walking to the highway. They’ve tortured me…pulled my hair out. not just because the sun was in her face but also because of the pain. *** Sarah’s right shoulder screamed. In her delirious condition Sarah guessed the driver thought she was a hitch-hiker. The oil tanker was stopping. This ought to be amusing. the gravel dug in. Gert still hadn’t fired. Only two cars were coming. When she lost her footing and fell. Gert was getting closer to the highway’s shoulder. Why wasn’t Gert trying to shoot her? Maybe he thought she threw herself in front of the truck. She scanned the road both ways.” “What? Hold on. She could hear the car slowing fast. “Help me. She stepped into the middle of the highway. pulling over. It was a mass of black gravel and red with blood. She closed her eyes tight.

Gert was close enough now to see the guy’s hand pull the transmission down. He fired again as the driver slammed his door shut. It took Gert precious seconds to get back to the van. . From fifty yards away he could hear Sarah yelling for the guy to get in and drive. The tall black guy turned and looked at him. By the time he’d started it and got turned toward the highway. She was completely inside someone else’s car now. He couldn’t allow a stranger to take Sarah away. Some guy had stopped his car and was talking to her. The bullet missed the guy. A large black man opened the door and stepped out. “Hey!” Gert shouted. the black car was gone. Gert saw Sarah throw herself into the backseat. “What’s your name?” *** Gert couldn’t believe it. He raised his gun and fired. away from Gert and the gas station. The car lurched forward. He broke into a run. A hole formed beside him in the window of the open driver’s door.The car stopped. That was enough to get the guy moving.

” “Is that the guy they’re searching for? A manhunt the newspapers called it. “You okay. open empty fields by the windows. Sarah turned around. You need to go faster. The driver started mumbling to himself. The scattered dirt and small pebbles were easily brushed off. “He kidnapped me a few days ago. They’ll let you use their phone .” The driver kept darting his eyes between the road ahead and his mirrors. This would never be over until she was home and Gert was either locked up or dead. She looked at the back of the driver’s head. He won’t let me get away. “You’re safe now. Every mile counted.” “But he killed a cop and apparently two members of a crime family out of New York. then leave. “Don’t worry. This is where you get out. “What was with that guy? Why would he shoot at us?” Sarah could detect a slight southern accent. She took a quick look out the back window. Please. “He’ll be coming after me. girl?” he asked.” Sarah nodded. No sign of the black van in pursuit. just get me to a phone. The driver swung into a small convenience store on the right. The bleeding was minimal. but it hurt like a bitch. You won’t be mixed up in this if you just get me to a phone and take off. They crested a rise and saw a small town coming up. Asphalt raced by under the car. Still no sign of the van. She turned around and looked at the driver’s eyes in the rearview mirror. The edge of town came quick.” She looked down at her shoulder.Chapter 50 Sarah scrambled around and got into a crouched position careful to avoid her shoulder touching anything. This morning’s paper said armed and dangerous.

. “The black van is coming. A vehicle pulled into the parking lot out front. followed by shattered glass. “You too.” The driver turned around and flipped the interior thumb lock on the front door. “Get away from the windows. She mumbled thanks as she stepped from the car. Gert would know she was leaving through the back door and be on them in no time. They’d set off an alarm. With the driver behind her she ran for the back of the store. By this time she had stuffed one full Twinkie in her mouth.” the driver told her.” he said to the clerk. A gun went off. She pushed down on the bar and yanked open the door. She knew she probably looked like she just came out of an explosion in the sewer system. She could hear it sliding to a stop on the gravel. where’s your phone?” The door swung open behind her. A loud buzzer sounded. The first door she came to opened into a stock room. “Open it. The driver stood by the door leaving it ajar as Sarah walked to the back loading area and quietly got it unlocked without opening it.” Sarah said. open it. They stepped through it. “I need to use a phone.” the driver said. It tasted like a gourmet meal. It was the driver who brought her here. “Please. She saw his smile fade and then die.” he said. taking in her appearance. On the way she grabbed a handful of Twinkies and a Red Bull from a corner display. He stayed in the parking lot and watched her until she got into the store. The driver shut the door he was peeking through and ran for Sarah. He was staring at her. An Asian man was standing behind the counter.inside. Sarah could hear the Asian man behind the counter protesting.

the black van and the car that brought her here. being proactive. Her second wind had kicked in. Saving herself. The driver freaked and started running. “No. He headed for the open field behind the store. She grabbed the open lid and swung it shut with a loud bang. She saw his eyes darting back and forth. She didn’t trust the cops even more. She pushed away from her hiding place and ran for the car.Back in the sunlight there was no time for indecision. He was clearly panicking.” she called after him. Then she turned and ran around the building. It was now or never. In seconds Sarah was on the highway. saving someone. Two vehicles sat out front. The store owner must have hit a buzzer or called them. She dropped the transmission into drive and hit the gas pedal. heart beating in harmony with the pounding of her feet. she could hear a police siren in the distance. open space on the right. Scrunching herself against the wall of the building she brushed sweat from her eyes as she looked around the corner. She started eating another Twinkie and popped open the Red Bull. Sarah bolted for the dumpster. Which way to go? Already precious seconds were lost. The car was idling. The tables had turned. wind caressing her face . She couldn’t believe her luck. She was back in charge. A dumpster sat twenty feet away on her left. She hoped Gert would waste precious time talking to an empty dumpster thinking she or the driver was in it. With Gert in the back of the building looking for her. She hadn’t felt this alive in days. One of them was Gert’s boss. The vehicle was an automatic. he’ll see you. The driver grabbed her arm. The Twinkies were at work.

She tried to keep the car steady but wasn’t too successful. . She had almost no experience behind the wheel yet she carefully maneuvered her way into the little town. narrowly missing a station wagon going the other way. No bullets pursued her.through the open driver’s side window as she finished the Red Bull.

” he said to himself. lights blazing. The cops were coming. he noticed the car was gone. The guy who picked Sarah up in front of the gas station had left. Even the clerk had bolted. It was time to go. “Fuck. It was coming closer. He rushed back in. Minutes later he drove past the gas station. Nothing but open field.Chapter 51 Gert had had enough. giving a description of him and the vehicle he was in. He’d lost Sarah. They’d be at the police station in no time. It was empty. When he got in and started it up. He knew he’d pass the gas station again. before he lost the convenience store from sight in his rearview mirror. Sarah had finally gotten away. She was probably with him. Maybe he missed them in the store after all. He did a complete turn looking all around. Besides. A quick but thorough search told him the store was completely empty. He ran for the van. He heard a siren in the distance. shit. He held his gun up and opened the top of the garbage dumpster. He wasn’t going to die in a stupid convenience store on the side of the highway. but no one ever expected the bad guy to come back to the scene of the crime. He heard the siren. Police cars were already there. “Fuck. he saw a lone cruiser pull into its parking lot. it was better than driving into the small town behind him and possibly getting trapped by some local cops. .” he swore again. After less than a minute. It was over. That bitch. Gert pounded the steering wheel as he did a U-turn and raced up the highway the way he’d come.

He didn’t have any idea where he was going. His brother would know what to do. That was something he would have to do. Someone was talking to a uniformed officer and pointing down the road the way Gert had just come from. There was nothing left but running. but his brother was dead. He had a head start. There was no plan. Change vehicles.with cops standing around talking to people from the restaurant. . Unless he could get another hostage. No one looked at him as he passed.

Sam didn’t want to go up against the FBI. “Dolan. He needed to find out how this perp always seemed to get away. Tangling with this further could only spell trouble. So why not her own? Then there was Dolan.Chapter 52 Sam Johnson looked over at Dolan as they heard about the shooting at the gas station. I mean. The perp was as good as caught. Why was he one step ahead? As Mary Bennett said.” He looked over at Dolan. Not until it had happened. Now you know the perp is involved in the gas station fracas. “How do you mean different?” “This is the first time I’ve seen you come up short. They’d been discussing their next move. But Sam needed closure. Sarah had even stopped a kidnapping in the past. He was rubbing his forehead. you didn’t get us to the cabin on time. Dolan nodded to confirm it was the guy they were looking for. The guy who had Sarah. but with how close they were and what they already knew of the case. looking out at the . Dolan was advising him to move on. Obstructing justice was a serious charge.” “What?” “Why do you think this case is different?” Sam could feel Dolan watching him as he drove. tell me something. Sam just hoped Sarah would get out of this alive. He’d been the head of the task force for long enough to handle this. They would cordon off the area. Pack up and do something else. it was too late to change things now. but you didn’t mention it beforehand. The dispatcher was calling for all units in the area to attend. He threw his coffee out the window and started the unmarked cruiser.

” “Just drive Sam. “It might be different because I’m involved. It sounds like this is coming to an end soon anyway. It’s closed down now for two weeks until we get to the next city and set up. He has nothing to do so I told him we’d be at the gas station crime scene so he could come and get me. maybe you’ll have more information yourself since you won’t be directly involved anymore. “I don’t know. Sam watched for the exit to take him east on interstate 29 while Dolan mumbled into his phone where he was going.” “What do you mean? You’re always involved.” Sam could detect a little sarcasm in Dolan’s voice. I’d be able to pick the next winning lottery numbers.” Sam said. Since he’s not directly involved or helping on this case.” Dolan’s cell rang.passing countryside.” “I mean I’m physically in this cruiser and I went to the cabin.” “That was my assistant at the fair. “Who was that? You told the caller about the gas station.” “Speculate then. maybe he’ll have some information for you. If I did. “If you’re saying your physical presence might stop you from being psychic. We’ve worked together too long to fight. When he flipped it shut Sam looked over. I can only speculate. . He wasn’t sure if it was intentional or not. Alex has a certain talent himself. A psychic can’t read their own future.

Gert pulled out his weapon. No time to waste.” The woman turned around and saw the gun. It was a perfect hit. Most people just call it luck. A lone female. but Gert was grabbing her lapel. My foot slipped. Chance favors the prepared mind.” she said. I went to tap the brake but hit the accelerator instead. Using a debit card or credit card right now would alert anyone looking for him.” “Well it doesn’t look as bad as I thought. “I’m sorry. Then. not all cops would know Sarah isn’t with him anymore. unsteady on high heels.Chapter 53 He had to change vehicles or dump this one and hold up somewhere safe. Gert saw his luck up ahead in the form of a BMW SUV stopped at a railway crossing. She tried to step back. He pulled up behind the SUV. The driver was getting out at the same time Gert did. the gun now pressed into her . He dragged her close to him. he shot the van forward and slammed the brake hard. At least for the next hour or so they might not shoot on sight. He couldn’t call the boss for help. just enough to bump the BMW SUV. but not enough to leave a broken bumper or worse. with a quick foot. Handson cash was running low. mid-forties. “What happened? You couldn’t see I was stopped?” she asked. If he was quick there’d be enough time to do what he needed. His cell battery had died hours ago. long brown hair. He had a new plan that would be better than taking a hostage. The train was moving slow arcing over the two-lane highway. The woman bent to inspect the damage. He reminded himself at this precise moment. “Step away from the vehicle.

abdomen. . She turned the van around and started away from him. He knew she’d be watching him in the mirrors so he raised the gun and fired a warning shot into the back window of the van on the passenger side. I’ll give you a two minute head start. “I chase you. don’t let me catch you.” “Why are you doing this?” “Because I can. She stumbled to the door of the van. I’ll give you a two minute head start and then the chase begins. If I catch you.” he said. Gert knew he’d never get sick of how people reacted to him. She’d dropped the pedal all the way down. “I’ll take your BMW and you drive my van. It’s that simple.” “What…what chase?” Her voice cracked. Gert hopped into the BMW and did a three point turn to aim after her. Now get in the van. When the van was lost to sight and the train had cleared the tracks. He loved her quivering weakness.” Gert pushed her away from him. Don’t stop for anyone. Don’t slow down. you die. “We’re going to play a little game. “Go that way.” Gert said. so drive fast. I left it running. pointing the way he’d just come.” He kept the gun pointed at her as she got in the van. When she looked at him through the windshield. He heard the transmission go into drive. he made a display of looking at his wrist to remind her of the time limit. “Don’t let me catch you. Whatever you do. he turned the BMW back around and floored it heading west in the opposite direction. The vehicle skidded back and forth a little and then shot forward.

She must’ve blacked out. Her mother would be worried sick. savoring every swallow of gum juice. She examined why she choose to head back into the fray and realized she had no other choice. She finally won her freedom. She found a pack of gum in the glove box. She chewed with fervor. She headed out of town as fast as she could without speeding. She looked down and saw a small stash of coins in the ashtray. Did she write something? She looked around for anything she would’ve been able to write on. The taste was incredible.Chapter 54 It took Sarah a moment to realize she was alone in the front seat of a car and not with her kidnapper. She’d pulled into a gas station parking area after a cop car passed her with its lights and siren on. . The note said twenty minutes was left to stop another kill. What she saw was the black van drive away unnoticed by the police. The familiar numbness was there. …drive after van…twenty minutes left to stop another kill…only you can stop Gert’s boss… Sarah started the car and got back on the highway. She looked at her right arm while rubbing it. She had wanted to stick around to see Gert get arrested. Just turn the car around and call home. Sketched in her handwriting on the side white area was a note. Did Vivian have a choice? She asked herself. A newspaper sat folded beside her. Who knew what her father was doing to find her. which she unwrapped and tossed in her mouth.

That made her feel powerful. After that incident Sarah stopped throwing the notes away. which is something she’s gotten used to.She’s the one who gets the messages. The next day she heard a fifteen year old girl got beat up by her father on their front lawn. she learned later. and a raving alcoholic. . Apparently the teenage girl was dating a guy much older and since she wouldn’t stop seeing him. She couldn’t remember the exact words because after reading the note she crumpled it up and threw it away. It also gave her purpose like she had never felt before. If she was the only one who could stop Gert then she had to try. Call police on her father. The messages had never been wrong before. She swore to herself that she would act on any message as best as she could after Mary Bennett wasn’t kidnapped because of her intervention. She’ll never forget the first few notes she found after coming out of an episode almost seven months ago. It was like she an arrangement with God. He’d protect her. which she later figured out was her own doing. She started carrying paper with her everywhere and eventually used a notebook. This was His deal. she would at least try. her dad thought he’d mess her up a little. sat on the floor beside her. A note that someone had written. It said something about a teenager a block away needed help. They live a block away. Sarah asked around the neighborhood to learn more of what had happened. If it was in her power to help someone. Her arm had been numb. Sarah could’ve intervened with a phone call. At this moment she was wide awake. She’d bumped her head on her dresser when her first blackout hit her. The father is known to police. still breathing and feeling strong after the burst of sugar and caffeine. He’d take care of her. She toyed with the idea that she’d been chosen for this.

she saw long hair.The gas station passed on her right and then it was gone. When the van got close enough. Multiple police vehicles. Maybe it’s just another black van. ambulances and dark colored sedans littered the parking lot. coming towards her. But then what vehicle was Gert in now? How would she ever know with around ten minutes left in her recent prophecy? She hit the gas and pushed the car as fast as she dared without losing control. . She checked her mirror. Sarah could see the woman was doing at least eighty miles an hour. She eased up a little more. She saw a small hole surrounded by concentric lines in the windshield as the driver raced by her. Why would Gert be driving like that? It would attract too much attention. she thought. The driver was female. Why would he be coming back to the gas station area where countless people could identify him and the vehicle he was driving? Unless it wasn’t Gert. Half a mile away and closing fast. No one paid enough attention to stop what they were doing so they could give out a speeding ticket. She was doing over sixty five miles an hour. Sarah let off the accelerator a little. Sarah slowed down and steered the car as far right as she could go without driving on the shoulder. That might catch someone’s attention at the gas station. A bullet hole. The black van popped up about a mile ahead. but no one was coming after her. From this distance she could see the van was moving fast.

“I know. the more visitors at the fair the better. You agree with Sarah’s father to help. even though Dolan had proven to be a big help in the past. He adjusted his sunglasses and looked back up. “Sam. I’m not showing up at the gas station crime scene with you. It was too hot to lean on as the sun beat down relentlessly. Those people who read about my successes with the police department and then swamp the Psychic Fair. When the car came to a complete stop he opened his door and got out.” A soft breeze moved his hair. His jacket rustled in its wake. I don’t have to be psychic to know you’re acting different on this case. I know. but I have to be up front with you. it could harm Sam’s ability to be taken seriously. “Dolan. The last thing Sam wanted for his career was to show up at the gas station crime scene and have the psychic with him. I know we’ve gone over this.” Dolan hesitated. isn’t that what I want. “I don’t know what it is either. but you don’t want to do it. They looked at each other over the roof.Chapter 55 Sam signaled and pulled over onto the shoulder. The way FBI Agent Jill Hanover talked about Dolan. palms out. “What’re you doing?” Dolan asked. you’re not leveling with me. “So let me get this straight. I can’t handle the naggers. Call Alex and get him to pick you up. everyone wants me to do their reading. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to do this anymore. Perhaps I’m psychically not as available as I used to be.” Dolan rested his forearms on the open car door and lowered his head. “Get out. Then while you’re supposedly helping to find a kidnapped .” He raised his hands.” Sam waited for a small sports car to pass behind him. There’s something you’re not telling me. then opened his door and stepped from the car. The problem is.

” Sam took the note and flipped it over. I give it my best. “But you know as well as I do. she may be the one blocking me. but not intentionally. But after thinking it over and talking to Esmerelda. A cop was killed and another assaulted. I don’t want to do this anymore. when I agree to take on something.” Sam looked at the note in his hand. In my opinion. Sam refused to believe that Sarah somehow would have prior knowledge of some events and not others. It was from Sarah. Not until I talk to her. trying for the . My inability to help this time has nothing to do with personal feelings.” “Saying it that way makes me look like a letch. “What’s this? How long have you had it?” “Since I first got to the Roberts’ house. That’s how she saved Mary Bennett and others over the last six months. I decided I would help you guys one more time.” Sam looked over his shoulder as a rig passed by. “Here. Sarah has a gift too. you’re interpreting it wrong. People were dead.teenager. I didn’t want to help when Sarah’s father came and asked me. “Are you trying to tell me that an eighteen year old girl is talking to someone on the Other Side and then going out and saving strangers from trouble? All the while putting herself in very risky situations where she could be killed? This is the version you believe?” “I don’t know what Sarah is yet. This is her gig.” He reached into his back pocket and pulled out a piece of paper. If she was in fact helping to stop kidnappings. then how did she get taken? He believed it went deeper than what her notebook revealed. look at this. Sam. you’re allowing your personal wants and needs to get in the way.” Sam stepped back from him. She knew I’d search her room. He jolted and ducked his head out of reflex as Dolan screamed the word ‘gun’. It’s true. Sam jumped onto the hood of the cruiser without thinking. Dolan walked around the back of the car and stepped closer to Sam.

“Get out of the vehicle.” . The intensity of the moment. I guess I got here just in time. The man who tried to shoot you was my kidnapper. his internal radar afire. The driver of the BMW took another wild shot but hit nothing as he passed them. his heart beating to a soldier’s stomp. A thin. The door opened. hands where I can see them. Sam looked at the road as he slid off the other side of the hood. a gun cradled in it. The bullet meant for Sam lodged in the windshield an inch above the wiper. The BMW raced away from them while the Impala slowed down and stopped on the opposite shoulder. driver’s side window down. He saw Dolan making his way around the trunk. The bump knocked the shooter’s arm. Sam approached with caution. a four door Impala bumped the BMW from behind. A lone hand stuck out about a foot. but I received a message that you would be killed. Sam saw the gun hand withdraw into the driver’s side window. The gun went off. “I’m Sarah Roberts. As it was about to pass them. A BMW SUV was aimed at where they were standing. Sam drew his gun and stepped toward the Impala. frail looking girl turned in the driver’s seat and tried to stand.” he shouted. I would’ve called after I got away from him.safety of the other side.

Chapter 56 Special Agent Jill Hanover pulled into one of the last Texaco gas stations in America. I especially want everyone who’s still here to give a statement before they leave. If the guy bought gas.” “Did they nab the guy? Is Sarah with him?” “The perp has switched vehicles.” Angus nodded and skirted away. “Agent Hanover. “Fergus. She headed for the entrance of the restaurant where she saw Fergus arguing with a uniformed officer. Two ambulances and five marked police cars littered the Texaco parking lot. every finger print.” Angus interrupted her. “I want every shell casing. Jill overheard him promptly tell someone that the FBI had arrived and was taking over the crime scene. She hustled over and told Angus Tran to make sure nothing got missed. make sure nothing is missed. She parked her Crown Victoria under the old weathered sign that had seen more summer sun than a beach. State troopers spotted it easily because of the van’s speed. It matches the description of the one reported stolen yesterday and the one people here said they saw. The immediate area was filled with people contaminating evidence. Nothing gets missed. The woman said he was chasing her in her .” “Understood. A moment later Jill’s Forensics van pulled in behind her and parked up by the restaurant doors. I want to know about it. Get prints from the counter where he would have paid. Fergus Mant jumped out of the passenger seat and asked who was in charge. Find out who showed up on the scene first and get everything you can from them. If they have any kind of cameras in this joint I want the footage. we just got a call that a black van was pulled over a couple miles from here.

It was some kind of game he set up to chase her. Last I heard. The car-jacker was alone.” “Hit me with it. She looked back at Angus. put out a call to every law enforcement agency in the State to be on the lookout for this woman’s BMW. It was addressed to Amelia Roberts. It appears to be from her daughter.” “Did this woman get a good look at the perp?” “Up close.” “Okay. She spun around and started after her partner when Angus came running up behind her.” “What’d it say?” “Usual endearment stuff.” “Sam Johnson is in pursuit of the perp as we speak. The girl ran onto the highway and was picked up by a guy driving an Impala. “I need you to radio our Hostage Rescue Team and the negotiator.” Angus turned and went back to the gas pump area. Jill wanted to get in her car and go look for this BMW herself but the amount of work here kept her from it. We’re going to have to keep them mobile until we get a lock on the victim and the perp.” Angus looked down at the paper in his hand he’d been reading from. “Is the helicopter up yet?” “Yes. One of the officer’s who pulled the van over found a piece of paper by a bench in the back.” .” Angus was nodding. That jives with what a few of the witnesses are saying here. it would be in the area in fifteen minutes. “There’s one more thing.” Jill turned to Fergus.BMW. Inform the helicopter pilot to maintain air support at fifteen hundred feet and wait for our call about the location of the perp. “You’re not going to like what just came through the radio. He didn’t have a girl with him. Bring them up to speed on what’s happening. Sarah may have gotten away. “But here’s the good part.

Let’s move. Update the helicopter pilot too.” “On it. . They’re meeting with his assistant and then coming here. I’ll leave Fergus in charge here. Dolan has Sarah Roberts. You come with me to navigate. We leave in one minute. but listen.” Angus said as he turned and ran.” “Okay. Find out where Sam is so we can help him stop this lunatic. Get someone to call Tracy at the Holiday Inn and tell her to get Sarah’s parents out here.” “The same one. Well. this is wrapping up quick. We have to go.“You don’t mean the same Sam Johnson who ran the kidnapping task force. let’s move. it gets better.” Angus looked at his watch. They’re gonna want to meet up with their daughter. that’s good news. do you? The one I told was off this case? Tell me you don’t mean him. “They should be here in fifteen minutes.

A helicopter should be on your ass within a couple minutes. Tell me where you are so I can come and get you.” Gert pulled the phone away from his ear. It would’ve been one dead cop on the side of the highway and me long gone. . I gotta take care of Sarah. Now they’ve got her and she knows about us. Every cop in a hundred miles wants to put a bullet in you.Chapter 57 Gert pushed power on the car phone built into the dash of the BMW. He could hear a slight engine sound of a car. a position of bargaining. She gave you power. Little lights illuminated as he dialed his boss. The boss was driving. “Where’re you? Is anyone in the car with you?” “I’m alone and I’m in your vicinity. The phone was answered on the first ring. Your only way out of this is to get into my car. Sarah still has to be removed and it looks like you will too. “You hear that? That’s what it’ll sound like when I’m smacking your head. They are not looking for my car.” “What are you doing out here?” “You’ve got a tail. I came to help but I don’t know how just yet. “You don’t have Sarah anymore.” Gert yelled into the phone. but without my help. “Where’re you?” his boss asked. The police are looking for the BMW you’re in. “How do I get out of this? You tell me what to do. “Why did you let this get so out of hand? Do you know how many law enforcement agencies are looking for you?” “Look. I would’ve never shot those guys behind the motel if you hadn’t told me to go back and secure my hostage.” Gert gunned the BMW to pass a rig doing the speed limit. It’s your fault that I’m in this. But no. He smacked it on the dash three times. His suspicion was right.” Gert pressed the phone into his ear.

With the phone at his ear he hadn’t noticed the distant sound of a helicopter approaching from behind him. He would try to find something within a couple of miles from the ramp on the right side to hold up in. .” Gert clicked off the cell. Tell me where you are and I’ll bring them to you. The famed psychic has her and he called in his location for pick up.” Gert relayed the highway number he was on and the name of an exit ramp. listen to me and listen carefully. See you soon. He took the ramp and told his boss to look for a building of some kind with a BMW SUV parked out front. “Take care of yourself and don’t get caught.” “Okay. I will be with Sarah shortly.You have no idea how frustrated I am right now. I’ll handle the girl and the psychic. We can do this right.

not just yet. “We’re not taking her to safety?” Alex asked. “No. Alex was actually shaking. “That should be good until we can get you to a hospital. Alex’s silver Honda slowed and stopped a few feet from them. but he hadn’t seen this edge to him.” Sarah said. I’ve just never been this close to the action. How’re you feeling? It must’ve been hard. Sarah has information about the kidnapper’s boss. Dolan opened the back door for Sarah and helped her in.” Alex almost jumped.” “I’m okay. understandably I’m a little out of my element.Chapter 58 Dolan looked up at the sound of a vehicle. It felt like a cleansing. A dismal cloud cover had made its way above them over the last ten minutes. Dolan had worked with Alex for years. A soft drizzle started to fall leaving a film of wetness on their skin. “And what’s that smell? Cologne of some kind?” Dolan and Alex looked at each other. Then he jumped in the front and slammed the door. a cool break from the sun. I’m fine. Looking closer. Not until we catch up with the asshole that snatched me. So. We need to be near the apprehension of the kidnapper. To cover it.” . no. followed by two bottles of water. I brought some food and a drink for Sarah.” “No problem. “Thanks for coming to get us.” Sarah tore open the lunch bag. “You okay Alex? Is this too much for you?” “No. “Don’t take me to a hospital just yet. he looked in the rearview mirror. A big truck passed them causing the little Honda to shake.” He lifted a lunch bag over the seat and handed it to her. You’re the one who works with the police out in the field while I’m at the fair.

But she’d made a commitment with blind faith. She said it was all written in the note. The cop who responded to the car that flipped over the bridge and into the river was the same officer who showed up on the scene of a beating at a baseball diamond. Dolan had asked Sarah how she knew what and when to do in the beating incident. she’s the only one who can stop him. He remembered reading about her a couple of times in the newspaper because the police had linked her with two different incidences. Dolan pondered all this while still trying to figure out why he agreed to let her continue this dangerous search for a boss. but didn’t believe him. . All she had to do was be on Meadowvale Street before 9:00pm and stand by the baseball diamond with an aluminum bat. Someone out there was a boss of the perp and according to Sarah. He would’ve gotten away if it hadn’t been for her. Sarah told Dolan that this venture into the night with a baseball bat had scared her more than any of the others. Dolan needed to think about what Sarah told him when they were waiting on the side of the highway. She had spoken about her powers and how the information came to her.Dolan nodded his assent. as long as she did exactly what the note said. He’d claimed to recognize the girl because of her appearance and the bandanna on her head. Something else was on his assistant’s mind. but when her watch clicked over to 9:02pm she did just that. The police were twenty paces behind the guy she knocked the wind out of. It was already dark. Step from the dug-out area on the home team side at 9:02pm and swing the bat with all her strength in the midsection area. Dolan gave him directions to the Texaco station where the police were converging. knowing the message giver wasn’t putting her in harm’s way. She’d told him details regarding the people she’d saved so far. Alex put the vehicle in gear and merged back onto the two lane highway.

“It’s been a long time coming.” “Sarah dead? How do you intend to do that?” . I guess we’re about five minutes from there. “Looks like he followed the guy to an abandoned farmhouse off…” Dolan stopped talking when he saw the gun. I thought you’d think I had great psychic powers myself. you’d say. Too many people want readings. I don’t think this is the right time to be going through an employment issue. You even have a name for them. Wait until everyone hears that your Psychic Fair has been involved with all the kidnappings just so you’ll look psychic. I could’ve participated more. They talked briefly and then he hung up.” Alex paused to clear his throat.” “What’re you doing?” Dolan asked. But you’ve always put me down. Treated me like second class. Dolan didn’t want to play the role of a hero and he hoped Sarah wouldn’t either. you get all the fame and then you whine about it. Dolan kept his eyes on the gun.” Dolan lowered his hands to the dash instead of holding them in the air. then you really are a fucking head case. looked up to you. Dolan pulled out his cell and speed dialed Sam. I only need to remove you. Alex. The Texaco passed by without incident. I could’ve helped the police too.” “Employment issue? Employment issue? Is that what you think this is all about? Wow. With Sarah dead and the FBI about to kill Gert. “I know where it is. “Are you saying you’re the boss of this asshole that kidnapped Sarah?” “You’re getting it now. I envied you. but no. but you never did. “For the past few years I fed you information on the whereabouts of kidnap victim’s because I knew where they were.Alex said they were coming up to the gas station soon.” “Look. You just told the authorities where the girl was and took the credit.

“Pull out your cell phone. He knew he needed to apply pressure. Then something hit his shoulder and he landed on the gravel lining the side of the highway. numb feeling was oozing across his midsection. When he looked up.” Dolan folded his arms and looked straight out the windshield.Real nervousness settled into his marrow. Sarah. The next bullet will be head. I’ve always wanted to say that. Do it slowly. trying to portray an image of defiance. don’t you move. Alex checked his mirror and then applied the brake. Blood was on his hands now. Sarah’s scream accompanied the loud report of the gun. Now his eyes held a cool resolve. “Head or gut. It was insanity. Now get out. He wanted to snatch a look back at Sarah. Dolan realized the look he saw in Alex’s eyes earlier wasn’t fear. but I didn’t.” Dolan did as he was told while Alex tried to keep his eyes on the road and watch him at the same time. He looked down and saw a red dot on his left side. For a second he thought he’d been shot again but it had only been Alex pushing him out of the car. he saw Sarah watching him .” Alex lunged across him and opened the passenger door. A warm.” Alex brought the Honda to a complete stop. “Now toss it out the window.” Dolan complied.” “I’m not leaving Sarah alone with you. but didn’t risk it. I just decided gut this time. The dot was spreading fast. He looked up at Alex. “What’re you doing now?” Dolan asked. “Letting you out. Dolan felt like he’d been punched in the side by a sledgehammer. I will shoot to kill if you try anything. “You don’t have a choice.

from the backseat window. her pale face askew with concern and fear. . Darkness fell early as he went under. His breathing became ragged. Another shot rang out. Dolan felt it in the ribs.

Caleb sat beside her. . The FBI department psychologist sat across from them in a seat that swiveled 180 degrees. eyes closed. what was there to talk about? Tracey had gotten the call that Sarah was safe. They were on their way to pick up Sarah. She had it turned around to face them. Nor did she want to hear what Tracy was thinking. Amelia didn’t respond right away. can we talk. like she was talking to a china doll.” Tracy said. After the phone incident in the motel room Tracy had been handling her differently. She wasn’t in the mood for conversation. Amelia and Caleb were immediately whisked into the Chevy Suburban they were in now which was taking them to rendezvous with their daughter. Caleb had helped her to the vehicle. “Before we get there. Trees whipped by the Suburban’s tinted windows. She was curious how all this would change Sarah. Amelia wanted to avoid Tracy’s stare so she looked out the window at the landscape. She didn’t want to talk about the mysterious phone incident.Chapter 59 Amelia wore large sunglasses to cover her swollen eyes. She tightened her grip to reassure him she was still with it. They were mere minutes from meeting with their daughter which meant no more department psychologist. She was with Dolan and they were on their way to meet the FBI. She felt Caleb’s hand creep into hers. No more questions. Amelia turned her head and looked at Tracey. She remembered how Sarah always called them Mickey Mouse glasses because they were the size of his ears. his head back. she thought. Everyone would be changed in some way. her voice so soft it came out whisper.

I just wanted to see if what Sarah writes was somehow connected. A month of sorrow. guilt and worry. It didn’t make sense to her. Amelia looked back out the window. “Does Sarah know about Vivian?” “What’s this got to do with anything?” Caleb asked. Then. She’d been raped and murdered. We get our daughter back. The killer was never caught. Just her Vivian dead and no killer. What else would there be to talk about?” Tracy looked from Caleb’s face to Amelia’s and back to Caleb. Back to the day she was shopping with Vivian. Cameras in the mall were scanned. I’m sorry. Tracy leaned back in her seat. FBI coming in on the case when there were sightings of Vivian crossing state lines. Vivian was found on a dirt road twenty-two miles from the mall where she was taken. “Vivian.” Hearing her daughter’s name from someone else caused her to recoil with a flood of memories. you’re right.“Go ahead. .” “It isn’t. Nothing. Thirty four days after she was kidnapped. Holding baby Sarah in her arms and swearing it would never happen to her. No idle talk in a prison somewhere. Vivian said on the phone she was with Sarah. She wanted Vivian to call again.” Caleb said. Police involvement. There’s never been a DNA match.” “Okay. not being able to find her. “We’re about to pick Sarah up. No confession from a guilty heart. But Sarah wasn’t dead and Vivian was. She would have to ask Sarah if she knew anything about Vivian. This is a great day.

He wanted to make it more difficult for pursuers to enter. He heard the helicopter buzz by outside.Chapter 60 Gert drove up a cracked and broken driveway that was surrounded by dry baked earth that hadn’t seen farm equipment in years. Gert sat under the window. He entered a room that looked like a kitchen at one time. The abuse of an unrelenting summer sun had peeled the dirty white paint on the door. Gert forced it back enough for him to enter the darkened interior but not enough to break it. Two entrances to the kitchen and a pile of debris about three feet high in the center of the room made it a great spot for an ambush. He looked across the room and saw an archway that opened to another hall. his back against the wall and listened to the helicopter make its passes. too many cops to hide from. He could see well because the only window was in the south wall allowing the sun access. As his eyes adjusted he could make out old pieces of furniture. The rotors were so loud it was all he could hear for a moment. There was no way he’d be able to make it on the run. It looked like an antique shop that hadn’t been dusted since the items were set out. Dust surrounded the BMW as he slammed on the brakes. Now it just had a pile of wood in the center of it with outlines of where the cupboards and counter used to cover the walls. Paint was chipped and peeled all over the room. Soon the cops would storm the place. held to the frame by the bottom hinge. It sat askew. The interior of the farm house was dark at first. He couldn’t do the time. Languishing in prison would kill him. . He stopped on an angle in front of the steps that led to the broken front door. He thought of himself as a control freak and being an inmate was a surrender of control. The only one who ever controlled him had been his brother.

along with the remaining ammunition and waited. . resolved to the end that was before him.He pulled his gun out.

whereby he comes running out of the farmhouse shooting. This one man was headed for trouble and Sam would be his only chance. He checked his watch as he approached the broken building from the rear. And some sit it out until the FBI storm the building. because it marked the end of the task force. Sam knew. An arrest like this could win Sam some much needed credibility. Usually by a self-inflicted shot after a few hours of fruitless negotiation. His peripheral vision caught movement to his right. What the hell would they need a negotiator for? He thought. After radioing in his position.Chapter 61 Sam didn’t want to be a hero. With a one quick motion. A small copse of trees planted on the north side gave him shelter as he ran up to the wall. With both hands applying pressure on the sill. Backup was on the way. But he was the only one at the farmhouse and the perp didn’t know it. he was told to stand down. If he could get him in handcuffs in the next five minutes. Or some idiots choose death by cop. An FBI negotiator and the HRT were minutes away. This criminal had done a lot of damage. About three to four minutes was all he could hope for. Sam began to lift himself into the room. This was also personal. Sam knew they’d be glad to return fire because this asshole steals little girls and kills cops. At the back of the house a shell of a window long since broken revealed a barren room. Sam had seen this kind of situation a thousand times and almost every time the perp died. then he could live to pay for his crimes. Sarah’s safe and no one is talking this asshole out of this farmhouse. He’d gotten a pretty good look at the place when he passed it after watching the BMW pull in. In this case. caused a lot of pain and even Sam wouldn’t escape some consequences. .

He didn’t see fear which made him wonder if she knew something neither one of them did. The possibilities were quite thin for who would be standing beside him near the back wall of an abandoned farm house. “What’s this?” he whispered. holding her by the back of the neck. When his eyes met Sarah’s he was surprised to see a cool confidence there.he released the sill.” “I’m not leaving Sarah alone with you. not walk. We all don’t need another dead cop on our hands. Why was Alex here? He thought they were with Dolan on their way to meet the FBI.” Alex said. bending slowly to place his gun in the foot long grass. The FBI will be in the area within a minute or so. With no one around for miles. Sam started walking backwards. was standing behind Sarah. “This is a problem.” “Then you’ll die where you stand while you foolishly try to be the good guy against all odds. but he did what he was told. but we’re running out of time. Why would you bring Sarah here? And why are you holding on to her that way?” “Drop your gun. She smiled and nodded at him. After about five seconds of silence. “Okay Sam.” “I’m here to arrest her kidnapper. but his eyes told him different. so I want you to run. Sam. Sam had no idea how Dolan’s assistant was involved in any of this. He . here’s how it has to work.” Alex moved sideways a little. Turn around and get going. Alex.” Alex moved the pistol away from Sarah and aimed it at Sam. He looked at Sarah again. Sam kept his gun raised. it had to be the perp. Dolan’s assistant. “You are a problem. dropped his body to the ground and pulled his gun. exposing a weapon that he held pointed into the small of Sarah’s back. I need you to leave us alone.

He wasn’t even supposed to be here. He jumped at the sound of a gun being discharged. . Sam turned and ran for cover. He heard Sarah screaming as he lost consciousness.couldn’t think of another way to handle this. Alex had fired at him. The next bullet knocked him off his feet.

Then we’re going to find Gert and he will be killed with Sam’s gun.” Alex stood back and waited as Sarah sized up the window. here’s what is about to happen.” “Just get in before I kill you here. If Gert returns fire. It could end right now.” “What’s that?” “I’m not going to die today. If he misses. “Climb in. He looked back at Sarah. Ignoring his question. It was an old dull blue pickup truck loaded with hay. Get it?” “There’s only one catch. you’ll be in front of me. “Tell me. We’re going through that window. “But Gert shot the cop while he was running away in the field and then shot you before I got the chance to get to him.” Alex turned at the sound of a vehicle approaching. Everyone who knows of my involvement is gone and I take over where Dolan left off.Chapter 62 Alex turned and pushed Sarah towards the open window. With the cavalry coming any second she’d have a better chance of getting out of this outside the building than inside.” He knew what she was doing. Sarah stumbled and then righted herself. “I asked you why. “I can see threats aren’t really intimidating to you. You’re willing to test me. I like that in an adversary. Sarah folded her arms.” Anger rose in him with such power he punched the wooden wall of the . stalling for time.” he said as he reached down and picked up the cops gun. “Everyone will see that I tried to save you. “Why are you doing this?” she asked. “You don’t have to. then the cop’s gun will be needed for you. what happened to your hair? You’re one ugly fucker. I walk out of here the hero.” Alex shook the gun back and forth for emphasis as he looked her up and down. In a few words. You are.” he said in a voice that sounded contrived.

rip and tear. he thought as he followed Sarah and landed on the broken wooden floor of what was once a bedroom. You’re going through that window. He grabbed Sarah’s arm and began looking for Gert. I almost shot you right here for that comment. It cooled his brow where a sweat broke out as he anticipated the FBI’s arrival.” Wind buffeted his hair. While she hopped up and through the window he took one final glance at the road and saw FBI vehicles converging in a small dust cloud. It’s better to be savage.” Alex didn’t ask what she was talking about. They headed for the kitchen area of the farmhouse. . Just in time.farmhouse. You’ve got one second to decide. “I’ll go in because I know that all I’ve got to do is remember to not thump. “You’ve got some balls kid.

It looks like he’s been shot more than once. License plates identified it as belonging to an Alex Stuart. her negotiator started bellowing on a bullhorn. The stolen BMW SUV was visible in front of the farmhouse and a silver Honda was parked in the rear. She saw no movement at the farm house.” “We’ve got a problem. His team was taking up positions around the perimeter of the farmhouse.” “Dolan was just picked up by a traveling businessman five miles from here.” She recognized Angus Tran’s voice. I need to know Sarah’s safe before we enter the farm house. behind a weathered barn. “Speak.” She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Jill grabbed her cell phone as it vibrated on her waist. There was no sign of Sam Johnson but his vehicle was found parked twenty yards behind a small thicket of bush and trees.” Jill turned to her partner. Barricaded by the front of a Crown Victoria. And get me Dolan on the phone. Her tactical team radioed in. “Go ahead. She was interrupted as her earpiece buzzed that Sarah’s parents were waiting one hundred yards back on the country road with the department psychologist. He’s on the way to the hospital. He told the business man . He continued his plea for a peaceful surrender. “Where’s Sarah then?” “Apparently he’s been in and out of consciousness.Chapter 63 The temporary command post was coming together fast as Jill organized and briefed the Hostage Rescue Team leader. “Fergus. She told the driver to wait for her signal to approach the command post because they hadn’t located Dolan and Sarah yet.” Her HRT commander called in that all his men were in position. “find out who Alex Stuart is.

Fergus spoke to her through her ear piece. If Alex Stuart’s Honda was parked in the rear of the farmhouse that also meant Sarah was in there with two men. He was alive but shot multiple times. Her radio crackled as the HRT reported an emergency. That’s how Dolan knew where the victims were.” Special Agent Jill Hanover turned around and saw a panting Caleb Roberts walk past one of the Crown Vic’s parked a stone’s throw from her. but no perps get arrested. . What were they waiting for? Thoughts assailed her at a rapid pace.who picked him up to call us and tell us that Sarah was taken by the guy who shot him. The psychic can pinpoint victims but not the criminals. It would seem likely he’s involved. This operation was falling apart fast. but there’d been no response from anyone in the building. But how did he get shot? How important was this Alex Stuart? She would have to treat him as a hostile. Caleb walked a little from the Suburban and then bolted across the grass. The girl always comes home. “I thought I ordered them held back for now. The negotiator had tried. She lifted her wrist to talk into the cuff. Could they be working together? The HRT was calling in her ear piece looking for the go-ahead. She turned to greet Caleb while she ordered Fergus to get an ambulance here yesterday. He wasn’t seen until…well. he should be right behind you. She listened as one of the men said he found Sam. It was his assistant. Sarah’s parents were on the move. A couple of guys kidnapping for hire. An ambulance was needed immediately.” “They stepped from the vehicle to stretch their legs. Alex Stuart. she thought. That meant Sarah was a hostage again. All that she read while debriefing on this case was coming together.” Jill lowered her phone and looked at the farmhouse.

Shots rang out from inside the farmhouse behind her. .

How could she ever know something like that? He could be in the attic. The man standing beside her checking his gun was probably more dangerous than Gert. yet she didn’t feel any fear. Alex had jumped through the window behind her. the worn out boards beneath their feet left a creaking telltale sign of their arrival. She felt it was a delayed stress reaction. The hallway opened up on the left. She remembered him watching her at the fair. She’d have to think fast. She’d have to watch herself. lurking around. Not the kind of anxiety that would accompany a situation like this. Alex stopped fiddling with his weapon and grabbed her arm above the elbow. She wrinkled her nose at the smell of mold and the thickness in the air caused by the beating afternoon sun. She needed to figure out what door Gert was most likely behind so she could duck Alex’s grasp. With no measure of stealth. Or was she getting cocky? Mistakes could happen if she got over confident. She knew he was using her to draw fire from Gert. the basement. stay alert and be proactive. The room was spacious and bright as the . She couldn’t let that happen. That task felt impossible. Alex pushed her into the hallway and then stopped. but she couldn’t stop shaking. Even though they inched along the hallway. or the next room.Chapter 64 Sarah couldn’t control her shaking. She’d felt something strange about him then. Keep a clear mind and seize any opportunity to escape if one revealed itself. but it wasn’t fear. They were in a small room which probably served as a bedroom when this house was in use. He pushed her silently toward the gaping doorway. Or maybe her body was finally giving out after days of malnourishment on the run. but at the moment she felt powerless to stop it. It had to be at least a hundred degrees where she stood.

Gert had blood circling in two areas of his chest. she threw herself forward and half stumbled half dove for the inside wall on the other side of the doorway. When she crossed the threshold of the kitchen. She questioned briefly why she was even here. bleeding from a wound in his lower belly area. She felt disoriented. both of whom wanted her dead. She knew Alex was running out of time. She crawled to the pile and grabbed a two-by-four with a long nail protruding from the end of it. She got to her knees when the guns quieted. A breeze floated through the broken living room window. got her moving. Studs and pieces of drywall piled three feet high. Her sheer will to survive in a room with two men firing weapons. One foot in front of her on the right was another opening. The speaker outside talked about coming out of the building with their hands raised or they would have to come in.sun shone through the broken glass of what was once the living room window. It hit her then that the kitchen would be ideal for an ambush. To her right was a mound of broken wood. She saw Gert with his back against the wall under the kitchen window. keeping low. Accessible from two sides. cooling her. He motioned for her to continue with a nudge of her arm. The fatal sign that death was . It probably led to the kitchen. Her mind thought wildly that this wasn’t something eighteen year olds were supposed to be a part of. Alex was standing now. She could hear someone outside announcing through a loudspeaker that they were looking for a peaceful solution to this situation. The heart of the building. It all became a blur of noise as she was deafened by the blasts. Alex tightened his grip on her arm to the point where she knew circulation was cut off.

She realized in the same thought that she was helping. Alex was quicker.close could be the dazed look on his face as blood gurgled from the corners of his mouth. She was saving herself. She wanted to help people. She was an arm’s length from Alex now. better to be savage… She pulled hard to get the nail out of his flesh. Not while Sarah had the use of one arm still. Alex was on his knees now. She knew she should get out of this place. fumbling with Gert’s hand to get his gun. Her mind raced back to what she wrote. She didn’t like this role. Not today. Alex screamed and started to raise the gun again. He turned toward her and a flash of lightning erupted from his hand as the nail was embedded in his shoulder. She could see the gun in Alex’s hand. With the nail jutting out on the side. Here was her chance. He sputtered and coughed. No pain accompanied the impact immediately. It must have hit bone because it was stuck. As Alex stepped closer to Gert. She caught herself smiling at the finality of it. the effort all but knocking him closer to the ground like he wanted to lie down. She jerked and . But could she get out that window and around the corner before he was on her? She lifted the wood not sure what would happen. The boss walks out of here alive and all evidence dies in this farmhouse. It would look like Gert had killed her and shot Alex too. Sarah felt something punch her on the left side of the chest so hard she spun on her feet and fell to her knees. Something about this scene pleased Sarah. Sarah swung with everything she had left in her. …don’t thump. rip and tear. Sarah got to her feet and edged around the pile of debris. He was reaching for Gert’s gun. Alex took the cops gun in his hand and tossed it over his shoulder.

She wondered if she’d been too cocky today. She saw blood everywhere. With a smaller arc. She saw men in shiny black helmets and black suits carrying what looked like assault rifles. Her chest was on fire now. spilling over both his hands as he struggled to keep it in. The nail pulled itself through the flesh of his cheek. Then she blacked out minus the pen and paper.pulled. She fell to the floor with his screams piercing her consciousness. Before he could. He screamed again and dropped the gun just as it had leveled with her head. This was it. Sarah turned her body away from him. . His hand found the business end of the wood and tried to pull it out. dislodging the weapon. ripping it wide open on a trail to his lips. She opened her eyes. The scene became surreal as voices assailed her from all over. holding the stud in an iron grip. one last try. Her breathing became shallow as pain started echoing through her. Sarah imbedded the nail in Alex’s neck behind his lower ear about where the jaw pivots. It was such a struggle.

“You’re awake.Chapter 65 Sarah felt thirst accompanied with such dryness that her mouth ached when she moved her tongue. Sarah took in her surroundings. Something was in her nose. The light was coming from a small lamp on a table beside the bed she lay in. She felt her mouth was open. It was almost too bright to keep her eyes open. She opened her eyes with a start. The paperback dropped to the ground as she jumped from her seat. how do you feel?” “Thirsty. Hospital room. Her mouth was so dry it felt like she was massaging sand around her tongue. She turned a little left to avoid its direct rays. Her mother was asleep in a padded chair. When the pain subsided to a dull ache. Someone had to be told how thirsty she was. She got her eyes open to small slits. Her body felt foreign to her as it rebelled with aches and pains. Sarah was asleep again. swimming deep. “Mom?” she tried again.” she stammered.” . Maybe that’s why it was as dry as dust. Light could be detected through her eyelids. breathing became a little more difficult. *** Rising out of a storm. Sun beaming in through the blinds. She kept her eyes shut as she listened. flowers filling a table by the window.” she moaned. Sarah fought her way up. searching for the surface. a book in her lap. A nurse was just leaving the room. “Mom. A small stab of pain went with each attempt to swallow. “Oh baby. but stopped when sharp pain shot through her shoulder. When she pressed her lips together. Her mother turned her head and woke up.

More flowers arriving daily.” Sarah nodded and looked down at the mound of bandages covering her gunshot wound.Her mother grabbed a water bottle and a straw from beside the bed and carefully placed it to Sarah’s lips. Two plastic tubes were in her nose. “Me too. Dolan came in a wheelchair. “First I’d like you to tell me about my sister. It didn’t help that she covered for Sarah the night she was taken. The pain was still there when she swallowed but now she knew why. Kim Wepps did a surprise visit. This visitor spoke through Sarah’s pen. The most unusual visitor came at random times and spoke of societal decay. Everything does seem kind of dangerous seeing the position you’re in now. It seems you’ve been up to some kind of hero business.” Sarah pulled on the straw a little more. but I’d like to hear it. then laid her head back. I don’t know the whole story.” “We’ve got a lot to talk about. Sarah was kidnapped and had to endure what she spared Mary from yet Mary felt responsible. Your father met Mary Bennett. “What are the…tubes for?” “The doctor said something about nourishment.” *** The next couple of days were a blur. They worked their way around and down the back of the throat. Previous mistakes would be avoided. She also talked about the future and how it would be safer. . Esmerelda wouldn’t stop hugging her. Visits from the FBI for statements. The woman from the trailer who got shot in the foot came by to see how she was doing. You’ve been asleep for over two days. I’m so happy you’re back. Mary Bennett was one of the most emotional visits. They go to your stomach. Both bullets missed vital organs and didn’t even nick a bone.

she’d even tell Sarah who killed her.Her sister Vivian said when the time was right. .

He approached the driver. With his car in the shop and his wife Carol working downtown today he had no choice but to use the public transit system. He was about to ask her why she was staring when she signaled the driver that she wanted off the bus. causing him to peel his eyes away. The bus pulled up and the accordion doors slid open. paid his due and walked to the back. . He tried to read his newspaper. Then Aaron’s eyes were caught in her stare. His peripheral vision caught her after a few moments. There was no way he knew this girl. What did buses charge nowadays anyway? He hadn’t ridden a bus since he was a teenager. So he lowered it and glanced outside.Chapter 66 Four years later… Aaron Beck lowered his newspaper at the sound of the bus rounding the corner. Then she walked over and dropped the notepad into Aaron’s lap. Less than a second later he found himself drawn into her fierce stare. He looked up and saw a pad of paper nestled in her right hand with her left hand scrawling on it. He folded it under his arm and fished for the proper change in his pocket. She was a young woman of about twenty-two. Her intensity startled him. So absorbed in his perusal of the news he didn’t notice the girl staring at him. unable to pull away. where it was relatively empty. He opened his paper and commenced reading. but couldn’t focus. with close cropped blondish hair. It was an unsettling feeling. Three passengers stepped on before him.

Landing on the sidewalk. What was she talking about? This has got to be a joke. okay. “Hold it! I need off here too.” The bus slowed to a stop and the young girl headed for the door. She was still alive. Aaron watched her leave. I’m with a few of my girlfriends. The girl was nowhere in sight.” Aaron shouted. On the fifth ring Aaron heard the music of his wife’s voice.” “Okay. He looked down at the notepad. She and three of her friends are about to cross Front Street. Carol.” She glanced at her watch. You’ve got less than six minutes to save your wife’s life. We’ve decided to go for a coffee at this Danish pastry shop Marge is always talking about. Don’t tell me you left your cell phone in the office. mouth agape. This stranger just told him that his wife was going to die. Aaron could hear his wife’s phone ringing on the other end. . Aaron looked both ways.” “What street are you on?” Aaron asked. In seconds he scanned the top page and was pulling his cell phone out of his pocket. please pick up. He could hear his voice cracking. downtown. is everything all right?” “Yes! Just tell me where you are. He wondered how much time remained of the six-minute prophecy. The words stunned him. We’re walking downtown. Pick up. “Call Carol now. He looked down at the pad in his hand again. There’s only five and a half minutes left. “Where’re you?” “Aaron.“You don’t know me and have no reason to believe me. The worker’s truck is without a driver and your wife won’t make it.

She could see that no one had noticed the truck coming down Front Street .” Carol sounded agitated. no one could’ve known those things. middle name and the year your parents died in that head-on collision when you were still a baby. on the bus. “This girl. We’re supposed to cross now. why?” “STOP! Don’t go any further. “She wrote things on a piece of paper and told me you’d be dead in six minutes. “Aaron. “What was that part about me dying?” she asked. About how you and I met.” Aaron grew hysterical.” “I’ve never met this girl. road crews were repairing the asphalt. I’m supposed to stop you from crossing Front Street. tell me what’s going on. She wrote about my surgery when I was twelve.” “Can you see Front Street ahead? Are you going to pass Front Street?” “Yes. The sun is shining.” “She told me to stop you from crossing Front Street.” he was panting now.” Aaron could hear her pull the phone away from her ear and ask one of her companions what street they were walking on. “Dwight Street. Half a block up. That’s when she noticed the dump truck.” *** Carol saw that her girlfriends had started without her. “You aren’t pulling my leg are you? The lights ahead have changed to green. I’m close enough now to read the sign. you’ll die. If you do. actually.“Aaron? You sound…” “What street?” “I don’t know. but she knows us. Carol.” “What girl? What’s this about? I’m standing here with my friends. She jotted down your birth date. like he’d run a race. She dropped the phone from her ear and looked from side to side. Everything’s fine. as he continued to scan the area for any sign of the girl.” Aaron thought he heard her footsteps halting. his heart beating fast.

It was already gaining speed. It reported two people were seriously injured. who had held back just enough. seven critical. ### . Carol started screaming for people to get out of the way.with no driver. Her sister’s killer was still out there. She picked up her gun. Only six people of the twenty or so in the intersection heard her. barreling towards the throng of pedestrians in the middle. or chose to pay attention. He didn’t know she was meeting him in seven hours. She made sure it was loaded. None of the injured were Carol’s friends. *** Sarah read the newspaper the next day. She also knew that she had to be ready. Accidents like yesterday’s might have been avoided if she’d stuck around and talked to Carol herself. Sarah realized that she always needed to work harder if she was going to help people.

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