The abandoned warehouses stood as a silent witness, along with the full moon that hung precariously in the sky, as two black Chevrolet pickups pulled into an overgrown parking lot. Fifteen minutes ticked by before another black Tahoe joined them. Tia Mathers, Chief of Police for the town of Fredericksburg, stepped out. Mayor Tim Smith and Khalid Mohammed joined her.
“Has he made it?” Tia questioned her compatriots. Both men shook their head no.
“I haven’t seen him.” Khalid said. “But he said midnight.” Mayor Smith looked at his watch, the luminous dial read 11:52 p.m.
“He has a few minutes,” Smith said.
Until recently, none of them had known the name of the person they waited for. The man had remained secretive. Tia Mathers had released Detective Thermopolis Konan from his suspension, at which time the man introduced himself to the chief. He said his name was Billy, and he worked for an unnamed organization that had ties to the highest levels of government. He claimed he could make their dreams come true.
All they needed was for him to show up.
Detective Thermopolis Konan tossed and turned on the couch. From time to time, he swatted his cheeks, or rubbed his head, and tried to crack his neck. He sat up and put his feet on the floor. Thermopolis picked up Ender’s Game and yawned. The red digital numbers on his desk clock read 12:34 a.m. He still wore his Wrangler jeans, a grey Carhartt shirt, and his boots. “That may have something to do with me not sleeping.”
He couldn’t shake the feeling something bad was coming his way. He walked into his kitchen and turned on his coffee pot. While the pot warmed up, he checked his phone. He had no messages or notifications. Things had slowed down since his last case. It always made Konan happy when there was a decrease in murder. Of course, when there were murders, it ensured he would have work to do. “Job stability,” Konan called it. The lull wouldn’t last forever. Nothing ever did.
Friday evening, 2300:
Tiffany Louise Watkins, one of the law clerks for Judge Patty Traylor, wobbled unsteadily to the bathroom. She giggled as she touched up her makeup, making a kissee face in the mirror. “Whoohoo,” she slurred to her reflection. “Tiffy needs another drink!” People crammed around the bar, and the band played Keep Your Hands to Yourself by the Georgia Satellites.
“That’s my jam,” she squealed as she ran onto the dance floor. She made it halfway across the floor before she puked. People shouted in disgust as Tiffy’s vomit erupted from her mouth. “God! Do something with this drunken broad,” someone shouted. Others with weaker constitutions joined her in vomiting.
“Oh God,” she cried, as rough hands grabbed her by the wrists. A bouncer half-dragged her from the club, and she stumbled out into the parking lot. Tiffany Watkins leaned against a multi-colored van. A wave of nausea went over her. She leaned over and vomited again.
A black gloved hand pulled her hair back from her face. “Thank you,” she muttered. She turned to face the kind person when a solid fist crashed into her jaw. Tiffany slumped to the ground, unconscious.
Tiffany Watkins woke chained to a damp wall. The room was dimly lit, and it reeked of mildew. Someone chained her arms above her head. Scurrying footfalls sounded in the darkness. A blindfold blocked her vision, and her lack of sight compounded her fear.
“Oh God,” she whimpered. Heavy footsteps approached her; a clanging, metallic sound echoed throughout the building. She couldn’t tell if the person was dragging a chair or a pipe. Fear clutched her throat and refused to loosen its grip.
“Ms. Watkins, I have some questions for you,” her captor said as they removed the blindfold from her blue eyes. Tiffany whimpered.
A brilliant light filled the room and blinded her. Tiffany closed her eyes tight and tried to duck her head. Sharp prongs jabbed into her skin. Whoever had taken her had placed a spiked dog collar on her. Any hope she could escape dissipated like the steam from the pipes in her prison.