Near the door to the interrogation room, Michael Penrick read the report the police chief gave him. ‘Bodies dismembered and scattered around the cave. Investigators discovered a bloody knife in the area. A patrol officer arrested the blood-covered suspect on Gladys Avenue. He offered no resistance when taken into custody. Suspect asked for cigarettes.’
A uniformed officer nodded to him, turning to open the door. Detective Penrick entered the room bearing a notepad, bottle of water, and two candy bars. Two chairs faced each other across the table, one occupied by the suspect. Michael sat in the other back to the door.
“I see they let you get cleaned up.” He placed the items down, studying the young man’s face. Splashes of blood were in his hair and on his forehead. At least he got most of it off. “Help yourself. I know you asked for cigarettes, but the chief said no.”
Brian Kelly stared at the unblinking red light of the camera over the door; hands resting on the table. “I’m in big trouble, aren’t I?”
“Maybe. Why don’t you tell me what happened at the cave with Jimmy and Franklin? You three know that area is off-limits due to frequent cave-ins.” The detective positioned the notepad in front of him and picked up the pen. “Why did the three of you go there in the first place?”
“Jimmy told us he passed the cave three nights ago on his way home from the party spot. You know that clearing in Byler’s Wood? Jimmy usually takes the fastest way home, but he smoked pot and wanted to get home after his mom went to bed.” Brian picked up one of the candy bars and took a huge bite. He opened the bottle to drink. “Jimmy’s mom has a temper when he doesn’t get all his chores done before going out with his friends.”
“I know Ms. Carson.” He made a note. “Continue, please.”
“Anyway, Jimmy said when he reached the entrance to the cave, he saw a faint glow coming from inside and there was a weird humming sound. He said he felt the hum in his bones. He was going to go in and look around, but when he checked his watch, he had to hurry.” The young man started eating the second candy bar. “He called me and Franklin the next day and asked if we wanted to check out the cave.”
“When did you three head to the cave?”
“Right after lunch.” Hand trembling, Brian lifted the bottle, water splashing on his shirt when he drank. “We brought flashlights with us and Jimmy had his Bowie Knife. Jimmy went in first, then me, then Franklin. The humming got louder the further we went. It’s like the hum from high tension wires. You felt it more than heard it. Makes your head hurt.” He rubbed his temples, eyes closed. “My head still hurts.”
Detective Penrick rubbed his ears. A faint hum, on the extreme edge of his hearing made him look around the room. Glancing at the young man something struck him as strange. Faint shadows gathered around Brian’s head and shoulders. A reddish glow suffused his face. “I know how the layout of the cave, did you go all the way to central cavern?”
Brian nodded. “That’s where the glow was coming from. Sort of reddish, but no heat. There was a small pile of rocks in the center and the glow came from the inside the pile.” He rubbed his face with his hands. “We surrounded the pile and Jimmy started pulling the rocks away, Franklin helped him. I remember moving back a few steps when the glow increased with each rock removed.”
Distant sounds of shouting and breaking glass distracted the detective for a moment. Wonder what’s going on? An uncooperative perp? He returned his attention to Brian. “What was inside the pile of rocks?”
“It looked like something you would find in a museum. A piece of stone with carving on it. The glow came from it.” Brian drank some water. “Franklin picked it up and the humming got louder. It made Jimmy throw-up, but it made me feel dizzy.” He ran his fingers through his hair. “When the glow got brighter, shadows floated around the cave. A lot of them gathered around Franklin, making it hard to see him. Jimmy took the rest of the pile apart, but there was nothing else there.”
A shot rang out and the door to the interrogation room flew open. “Penrick! Something’s happening in the evidence room.”
He glanced at Brian, who stared at him, a reddish glow filling his eyes. “Officer Johnson, we have trouble here.”
Brian leapt from his chair and across the table. They drew their weapons, opening fire. The young man’s body hit the floor, blood pooling; red glow faded from his eyes. A shadowy form coalesced nearby. Michael emptied his clip, the bullets ricocheting off the walls, shards of cement flying. Johnson cried out when one of the bullets grazed his arm.
The shadow moved towards the two, briefly brushed against Michael, and then darted out the door. Johnson ran after the shadow, one hand pressed Against the wound on his arm. Michael knelt beside the body of Brian, reached out, and closed his eyes. He stood, a touch of dizziness made his mind swirl. Shaking his head, he placed a full clip in his Glock and ran from the room. I should have stayed in bed this morning.
Chaos reigned in the squad room as handcuffed prisoners and officers attempted to stay away from Raymond Cranston, the head lab technician. Glowing red eyes, matched the glow from the piece of stone he held. Three officers shot him, emptying their clips, but the bullets passed through him. Three officers and two civilians were on the floor, eyes wide, faces a mask of fear even in death.
Michael ducked behind a desk to take stock of the situation. “Fine, bullets don’t hurt him, but what about the crystal he’s holding?” He rested his arms on the desk before him, taking careful aim. “I hope all that time spent on the range pays off.” Taking a breath, he released half, then held it, and squeezed the trigger.
Time slowed down in his eyes and sounds in the room muffled. He could see the bullet leave the barrel, the shell ejecting from the weapon. Unerringly the projectile flew, striking the stone. Time resumed normal flow as did the noise in the room.
For a moment, nothing happened, and then the stone shattered into pieces, flying from Raymond’s hands. He stood for a moment, the glow fading, body succumbing to gravity and crumpled to the ground. Blood spread beneath his body, mingling with the pieces of shattered stone nearby.
Michael stood, hands trembling. “Son of a bitch! How are we going to explain this mess?”
An officer near the chief’s office door used his cell phone to record what happened. Michael stalked over and grabbed the item. “I don’t think so, Officer Bates. This is not going up on the internet.” He shut off the phone and shoved it in his pocket. “Where’s the chief?”
Officer Bates pointed at the door. “He went in there when Ray entered the squad room. I heard something being pushed across the floor. I bet his desk is against the door now.”
“Bastard. Call EMS and start processing the scene. No one leaves until I say so. Lock the front. I’ll deal with the chief.”
“Yes, sir.” He hurried away.
He raised his hand to knock on the door when he heard scraping sounds coming from the other side. The knob turned and the door slowly opened. “Is it safe to come out?” Chief Clemson poked his head out, eyes wide.
Michael shoved him back in the room, shutting the door after he entered. “You’re a sorry excuse for police chief! Hiding in here while good cops died! Who the hell did you bribe on the council to get this job?”
“Please, Michael. I did what I could. I called the Mayor, and he said he’ll take care of everything.” The chief moved to a chair and sat down, head in hands. “Maybe I’ll retire today.”
An unlocked weapons’ cabinet to his right caught Michael’s eye. A .22 caliber handgun with a silencer attached brought a faint smile to his face and a reddish glow to his eyes. This was the pride of the chief’s collection and he kept it cleaned and loaded. Michael picked it up and walked over to where the chief sat, placing the barrel against the side of the man’s head. “Let me help.”
He pulled the trigger.