Snatched…new writing, unedited, incomplete…

The Board of Alderman called an emergency meeting on Monday, to discuss the start of rebuilding the damage done to the city. Reverend Alf Williams was sentenced to fifteen years for cocaine possession and multiple cases of sexual relations with minors. 

Many minority- owned small businesses were burned to the ground during the riot for ‘justice.’ Residents and city officials alike promised to help rebuild. Someone had said that time would heal all wounds, but it’d take more than time to heal these wounds of racial strife. 

Those complicit in the divisiveness, from Rev. Alf to his cronies in the media, and the politicians hoping to take advantage of the situation to line their pockets, slinked back into the shadows from which they’d emerged. 

Evil never rests, but it’s proven time and time again that its sense of timing is uncanny and impeccable. It would lurk hidden in the hearts of lesser men, while it waited for another opportunity to reveal itself. 

Lake Bulgaria, a small man-made lake for the city of Fredericksburg, set on the outskirts of the town. It served as a prime picnic area, a concert site, and hosted many water events during the summer. 

Small cabins littered the area, hiking trails called to those who yielded to their sense of adventure, and a fully stocked commissary was open year around.

Jackson Titus knew the area like the back of his hand. His parents had inherited the small cabin from their parents, so forth and so on. 

“Bronowski sold me out,” he muttered as he shoved his belongings into the canvas backpack. “I’ve gotta get out here.”

A branch snapped outside of the cabin, and Titus stopped. He crept to the corner of the room and peeked out from the window.  No one stirred outside. A few sparrows flittered from branch to branch, and a gray squirrel held an acorn in its front paws, but nothing else moved.

Titus took the pack to his grandfather’s old car, a rusty 1968 Chevy Impala, and threw it on the backseat. He went back inside and picked up the pump shotgun and his bugout bag filled with ammunition. 

“Better safe than sorry,” Titus thought to himself. “If I can get to Gulfport tonight, I have options.”

He knew he was a man out of time, but the need to survive overwhelmed any sense of fear he harbored. If cornered, he planned to give as well as he got. 

There was only one way out of this mess, and nothing would stop him from leaving. 

As the long shadows of evening fell upon Lake Bulgaria, Thermopolis Konan and his fellow officers prepared to storm the cabin at the top of the ridgeline. 

A series of concrete gutters led from the cabin down to the base of the hill. Rankin and Manson carried M-4 carbines and a full combat load attached to their flak vests. Konan carried a Mossberg 590 and his usual sidearm. Unbeknownst to his officers, Chief Janko had served as a sniper during his days in the fabled First Cavalry Division. He took up a position on a hilltop across the lake from the cabin. All team members wore headsets that allowed them to stay in communication with each other. 

The Sheriff’s Department had set up blockades at every egress point and had deployed officers to secure the back of the house. Rankin and Manson walked over to me as I shoved a few rounds of buckshot into an empty pocket. 

“How are you feeling about this raid?”

“I don’t know, Rankin. I guess we’re about to find out.”

“Yeah. I reckon so.”

Rankin extended his hand to me, and I gripped it tightly. Rankin gave me a grin.

“Um, sorry I gave you such a hard time when you first showed up, Konan. You’re a good cop.”

“It ain’t no thing,” I said. “I appreciate it. Let’s go get this clown before I get hungry.”

Rankin chuckled and slapped me on the back. Night had fallen, it was time to go to work.

Manson and Rankin approached the cabin from the sides, I went straight up toward the door, staying low and moving quickly, I made it without a shot fired. All eyes were on the doors and windows. 

The pair took a position on either side of the door, and I blasted it off the hinges. We rushed in and cleared the home. It was empty. 

“What’s going on,” Janko snapped. “Is he gone?”

“Yeah,” I sighed. “It’s empty.”

“I’m sending forensics in. You guys stand by.”

“Roger, will do.”

A swarm of forensic techs entered the building. Rankin, Manson, and I walked out underneath the stars. I sat on top of a picnic table.  They joined me. 

“How did he know we were coming?”

Rankin was flustered, heck, we all were. Something was off. 

“Maybe he felt as if it was time to move on, or maybe he was paranoid,” Manson said. I nodded. 

“More likely the latter. And he knows our training. He knew how we’d approach and when we’d approach. Titus is many things, but he’s not stupid.”

Hidden from view on the far western hillside, Jackson Titus watched as Konan and the police swarmed his cabin. He grinned and eased back into the shadows. 

“That’ll keep them busy for a few hours,” he sighed as he climbed into the rusty Impala. “That’s all the time I need for a head start.”

He fired up the old car and eased across the pasture that led to an old moonshiner’s trail. In no time, he’d disappeared like a phantom over an ancient battlefield, leaving no sign of his whereabouts.

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