Tuesday, March 6, 2012

WRITE THE NEXT CHAPTER - SURGERY -

“We'll be making the first incision just above the kneecap.” The man wearing a crisp white lab coat leaned over his patent, his bulbous eyes monstrously magnified behind thick, square lenses. Plump lips stretched into a grin. Bedside manner, after all, remained the best anesthetic. A calm patient bled back serenity to her surgeon. This was particularly important here, since he couldn't avail himself of an anesthesiologist. Insurance would never pay for it. After all, he wasn't working from a licensed hospital. In fact, he wasn't really a doctor.
Using a latex-covered index finger, he smoothed the undulating duct tape over the woman's mouth. Through the thin, protective glove he felt her rapid exhalations from her flared nostrils. He heard a thin whistling sound, too. He wondered if she might be coming down with a cold. In that case, he was thankful he wore latex gloves and a face-mask. The last thing he needed was to get the sniffles.
“This will be over before you realize anything has happened, I promise.” He fixed his stare on her craning neck, then his eyes traveled down her collarbone to her naked shoulder. Her muscles rippled beneath her milky skin.

28 comments:

  1. Emma Myers prayed for death to be swift. Help certainly wasn’t.

    As the man had dragged her from her car along that notorious stretch of remote highway locals called Dead Man’s Alley, she’d yelled, kicked, screamed. She’d done everything her mom had always taught her to do should a shadow manifest itself as flesh and blood and reach for her in the dark.

    But it had all been to no avail. No one had come to her rescue. She’d been utterly alone.

    Now she peered up into the man's face as his bulbous black eyes, enormous behind the glasses, lingered on her neck, her collarbone, her shoulder. And downward.

    She shuddered and turned her face away, panting through her nose because of the tape, unable to bear his lingering gaze. Tears leaked, drawing a wet line to the cold, hard table beneath her.

    Go ahead. Rape me. That’s what you really want, isn’t it?

    Anything would be better than this silent threat that he was going to cut her open. He’d said something about starting with an incision above the kneecap, but so far he’d revealed no scalpel. She tried to slow her breathing, made worse by the metallic-tasting tape over her mouth. She tried to keep panic at bay so she could think clearly.

    But it wasn’t working because none of this made sense.

    Was he really a doctor? Nothing was wrong with her knee. She would have told him so if she had some way to communicate.

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  2. Meanwhile, at the police department in the midst of downtown, Samuel Grady, a tall, fairly muscular brown haired officer slash detective sat at his desk, goin over the week's reports. Not that there was ever much to go over. Which was of course good, but in a sense bad for him.

    He sighed and placed the papers back on his desk, rubbing his eyes and placing his elbows on the table so he could rest his chin in his palm. Suddenly he saw his supervisor, Dan Flynn, walking straight towards his desk. He sat up immediately and peered back over his papers as if deep in thought over their contents.

    "Don't pretend Grady, we both know there's nothing to go over in there anyways," the short, balding, yet strong man said, arriving at his desk.

    Sam looked up and gave him an exaggerated smile, "Anything else new?"

    "Actually, yes. An anonymous observer reported seeing a passing glance at what appeared to be a possible kidnapping earlier today. I'm putting you on it."

    Sam leaned back in his chair, now fully alert, "Do we have any details?"

    Dan shrugged, "Possible kidnapper appeared to be a man and victim was a girl. Went off in a car. Other than that, we don't have much. Here's that address the observant gave us, it's a place to start."

    Sam already had his jacket on as Dan Flynn handed him the small white piece of paper, address scribbled in the middle, "On it."

    He walked out the door to the stairs and out into the cool air.

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  3. Come on, Emma, pick up...pick up! Don't do this to me again.

    Matt Ryder frowned as a quasi-cultured computer voice droned in his ear. "You've reached area code five-six-one, nine-two-six--"

    Before the message even finished, he spun and hurled his cell phone against the wall, shattering the device into a thousand jagged pieces...just like his relationship with Emma.

    Just like his life.

    A punch to the kidney would've been kinder than this. A raw laugh grazed his throat, leaving him dead and dry. He crossed the living room of the tiny apartment and pressed his forehead against the cool window. A fine mist covered the gray streets of Seattle. He never should have come here.

    But Emma was an addiction he was helpless to break, no matter how many times she cheated on him.

    "You promised," he whispered. His words fogged a blot on the glass. "I never should have believed you."

    Sucking in a breath, he straightened. That's it. That's exactly what he'd do.

    He'd never believe her again.

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  4. Samuel drove to the address scratched on the paper, passing by the various neighborhoods and businesses along the way. In reality, he wasn't the greatest detective. As good be seen by his lack of activity. In fact, Dan had probably just given him the job because he figured it was a false alarm.

    However, Sam did have one thing that separated him from the rest - the simple determination for truth and the completion of a case. He was not in it for the business and could not be easily swayed with offers. That had got him in enough trouble in his past life and he had learned from it. Not saying that his past didn't sometimes come back and haunt him at times.

    He sighed and pushed the thought quickly out of his mind, like he always did. No need dwelling on it anymore, he had chosen a new, better path. Even if it meant he got the leftovers and a lousy case list.

    He pulled to a stop just outside Dead Man's Alley, which was scrawled on the sheet, and stepped out of his car, surveying the area around him before walking forward. He methodically searched the ground, walls, and everything in between for any hints. He saw tire tracks initially and stored it in the back of his mind. He turned his attention to above and to the sides, mentally marking all the possible places their anonymous tipper could have observed from. Once he was done with this simple inspection, he grabbed his camera from the passenger side of his vehicle and walked deeper into the alley, ready to uncover any traces of evidence left in what appeared to be a false case.

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  5. Had he been the best detective in his department, searching for such faint evidences in a such untidy alley would have still taken him the whole day, to say the least; it was almost impossible telling the difference between the traces of this (false?) kidnapping and the signs of other old crimes, whether a perpetrator was either found or not. Like a surgeon wore his gloves, the slum was strewn with its own grime, a grunge plaster preventing any contact with the hypocrite city outside, a city mostly made of people that found extremely easy seating on their sofas, pointing their fingers at all the down-and-outers and the prostitutes and the drunks and the thieves in that 'hood and find them guilty of everything. Even of their own faults, of their own mistakes, of their own selfishness for the dream of wealth's sake the TV ads fobbed them off every night of every day. "The speck and the log", Samuel chuckled to himself. He wasn't a church kind of guy anymore but he could still quote some keyword from the Bible here and there - he had the big picture clear enough but the details were jagged and the memories fogged.

    He soon figured that a thorough inspection of the whole alley would have led nowhere, and the low rumbling coming from the inside out of a non-well definite spot up his belt encouraged him to get back to the car. He abruptly stopped and let the right sole spun him over his left heel in a way that clearly revealed the time he spent in the service, yet the soldier displayed here was just a tired version of the old one, the picture of a man who seemed to have lived twice the years he actually had. He was about to start marching back to his car when the street phone at his right rung. One, two, three, four, five, six rings. Pause, then one, two, three, four, five, six rings again. Someone was definitely trying to talk to him. He frantically looked all around trying to spot who was peeking at him and where from. One, two, three, four -- Samuel picked up and brought the handset at his left ear with a slow, doubtful move.
    "Hello?"
    Silence.
    "Hello?"
    Silence.
    "Who's there?"
    Silence.
    Samuel started getting nervous "Hey, listen, if this is a prank I must inform you that you've just chose the wrong person. This is S.P.D.!". Then he saw something and crouched a bit to have a closer look at it.

    In that very moment, once being sure the detective had found it, the woman at the other end hung up.

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  6. Samuel Grady closed the phone hesitantly and picked up a tiny brown envelope half hidden under a trash can. He looked around nervously once more for a possible face in any onlooking window, but, finding no one, he turned back to the envelope. Using plastic gloves, he gently ripped the licked seal and poured the contents into one hand. A bobby pin was all that came out. In it was one piece of long, light colored hair.

    As he placed the bobby pin back in the envelope, however, he saw something else inside of the envelope. Something written inside but with some sort of residue that was see through. The only way he had even noticed it was by the sunlight reflecting off the slightly raised letters.

    He decided not to rip it apart right then and there, instead quickly walking back to his vehicle and driving back to the police department. The whole way he kept glancing over to the passenger seat where the envelope was sitting securely. Why would someone randomly call him and give him an envelope with a hidden message instead of simply talking to him?

    Back at the department, he quickly ran inside and up the stairs. Arriving at Miranda Byrne's office, he adjusted his shirt, knocked twice, and strode in, hoping she could make something of the hair, mysterious message, and hopefully, fingerprints that had been given to him by the mysterious caller.

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  7. "Oh, there you are..." said Lieutenant Stan Kowerlitz, purposely raising his eyebrows in a contemptuous look at him, whom he considered being the sloppiest detective ever. Actually, he had his own definition for "sloppy" and it was something like "one who doesn't just simply do what I order him or her to do - no questions asked", and from his point of view, Samuel's determination for truth didn't fit quite well. Last thing Samuel has been expecting was the Deputy Chief of Operations standing still right in front of Miranda's desk, which was right in front of the door and right before a narrow window showing always the same mirrored-windows wall from the same eight-stories office building. That irregular reflection of herself and the endless motion surrounding that vision helped Miranda many times, either solving a case or just getting her lost in her own thoughts. Stan's head slightly turned towards a point at Samuel's right, "We were just talking about you" he said while uncrossing his arms and letting a manila folder appear from his back in the same way a man surprises his loved one letting flowers suddenly appear from his back. Actually, this seemed more like a robber taking a gun out of his belt, threatening a sweet old lady. He turned right, and there were Dan, Miranda and some guy in a black suit, a white shirt, a grey, black-striped tie and an inexpressive face. "A fed," he thought, “these guys really like to fit in the stereotype!”. Kowerlitz introduced the guest. “This is agent Jim Nagan, FBI. They’re tailing ‘The Surgeon’, a man who’s responsible for the death of at least a dozen women in the country”. The federal officer had just nodded, when Samuel remembered seeing some highlights from the news cast about this creepy serial killer and how he used to torture his victims. It was right that kind of morbid, hair-lifting story full of uncanny details people gave the impression to love speaking about, totally sure something similar would have never happened in their life. “They had a sort of a tip we could have known something about a kidnapping happened in the Dead Man’s Alley, so they sent their man here to know what we’ve figured out”. “A sort of a tip, huh? And who’s this sort of a tipper?”. Samuel’s comeback had a sarcastic aftertaste. “Detective Grady, do I have to remind you there’s a hierarchy running here? I ask, you answer. Period.”
    “Sir, I must object you really didn’t ask any question.”
    “You think you’re funny?”.
    “So is this the question I have to answer to?”.
    “GRADY!” Kowerlitz angrily yelled, in a flush of angry. “I’m in no mood for jokes! Did you find anything over there? Or were you just twiddling your thumbs as usual?”.
    “There are two question marks in this sentence, sir. The answer to the second one is ‘no’ – I wasn’t there twiddling my thumbs”. Then he put his hand in the left pocket of his coat, but there was something restraining him from giving that envelope away to the feds. There had been three anonymous tip in the same day for the same case, and that alone was really odd. Plus, the first two calls wanted the local police department to be involved – him, in particular – but the third call looked like someone wanted the feds to snatch it out of his own hands. He wouldn’t let it happen. “And the answer to the first question is ‘no’ – I didn’t find anything unusual”. His left hand stood steady, hidden.
    Kowerlitz snorted. “Why am I not surprised? I’m just wondering how on earth you’re not on traffic already. Now just get the heck out of here, will you? We have a serious matter to discuss”.
    “Yes, sir”.
    He turned and the last thing he saw before closing the door behind him was Miranda sympathetically looking at him. He knew he could trust her as he had trusted her many times before, even when their relationship was already over. He just had to find the right time and place to speak to her privately. In the while, he just sat back to his desk, pretending nothing worth mentioning happened.

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  8. Miranda, the first chance she got, went down to the basement where Sam's desk was placed. She took a detoured route, stopping every so often to talk to someone or appear to be in need of something else. Kowerlitz was a good lieutenant, but an annoyed person. She knew that even though he was thoroughly convinced Sam was a failure, he would be keeping a close eye not only on him, but on her and Dan as well.

    She arrived in the basement via one of the four elevators and casually walked to Sam's desk from behind, "So what's up?"

    Samuel spun around in his chair, and seeing it was her, smiled thankfully, "Thanks for coming down."

    He pulled out a small envelope and handed it to her.

    "So I'm guessing the answer to that second question was actually a yes."

    Sam smiled, "I found it in the alley. After I got a mysterious call from someone who wouldn't talk but clearly wanted me to find it. There's some kind of message inside written in residue and a bobby pin with a hair."

    "And I'm guessing you don't want the Feds involved and switching the story to their needs," she said, looking down at the envelope in her hands.

    Samuel got serious, "Please Miri, do it for me."

    She hesitated, then nodded at him, "It'll be hard to avoid Kowerlitz, but I'll get on it and let you know what I find."

    Sam sighed gratefully, "Thanks Miri."

    Miranda smiled and turned to walk back upstairs to her lab area. From several rows of desks away, Dan Flynn watched and frowned, letting out a troubled sigh before turning away and walking to his own office.

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  9. 10 bodies in 11 months. Same M.O. Woman in her early 30s disappears. Every time an estranged boyfriend picked up outside her apartment wondering where she is. Person of interest material right there. Then the photos. Mutilations.

    The news stories had no information about a note in any of the cases. No cryptic envelopes filled with bobby pins, hair or coded messages. But that's just the thing the Feds wouldn't release, right?

    Sam's fingertips felt sweaty and his insides gurgled. What was he getting himself, not to mention Miranda, into?

    The surgeon. More like the butcher! Why would they call him the surgeon? Not exactly a logical name for this guy.

    Just then, Dan shuffled up to his desk, his face grim.

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  10. "Sam, we need to talk."

    Sam looked up to see Dan right by his desk and immediately stood up, knowing by the quiet tone in Flynn's voice that he was serious.

    Dan leaned in close to Sam, "Now listen to me, you a good guy Sam, and I don't want to see you get hurt, so this is what's going down. Kowerlitz doesn't believe you. He wants me to spy on you. Now, I don't wanna do that but after seeing you hand over evidence to Ms. Byrne, well that's serious."

    Sam looked down and was about to talk when Dan cut him off, "Just listen. That was damn risky of you, but I'm proud. And I want to trust you but before I throw myself out there in disobeying the lieutenant I need to know you can do this. Solve this. Can you guarantee me that Grady?"

    Sam looked up at him, shocked, and hesitated before answering.

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  11. Worn down by the inexplicable amount of fear that suddenly covered her world in a veil of darkness, tears of helplessness ran down her face like a well giving up its one last drop of water when it is finally drying up... of hope and life. She now could feel the fangs of death slowly and painfully sinking in her skin and her whole being. In an act of surrender, she wept silently and finally prayed like she's never prayed before, for a miracle to come... for rescue to rescue her from the cliff of doom that is just an inch closer to take her one last breath.

    Will help ever come to save Emma Myers from the dark pangs and gnawing and gnashing of death?

    Or ...

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  12. Matt Ryder froze when the doorbell rang. The insistent, loud knocking that followed jangled his nerves and sent wet tendrils down to his fingers and palms. Mouth dry, guts wrenching, he looked through the peephole. A man wearing a dark suit and red tie stood in the hall like a boxer ready for the bell, switching from foot to foot.

    What could this be? He thought. "Who is it?" he said.

    A badge filled the narrow peephole showing a distorted image of the man's picture and the letters FBI.

    "We need to have a word with you, sir. Please open the door."

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  13. Sam looked up at Dan, "Yes. I will."

    He felt almost queasy saying it, he honestly wasn't sure an definitely didn't want to get Dan in trouble, but this case had produced a steely determination in him that even he hadn't felt before.

    Dan looked at him for another full minute before backing off, "Well I'd get on it then. The FBI have already found the boyfriend, Matt Ryder, or so I've heard from Kowerlitz. He never said who the girls name is though."

    "Emma Myers," Miranda said, walking up behind them with a thin stack of papers, which she handed to Flynn, "Her name is Emma Myers, as confirmed by the hair and bobby pin. As for the message, it was a license plate number."

    "So the observant must have been the one to leave the envelope and wrote the license plate number for us to find. But why on earth would it be written in a strange see-through substance?"

    "The substance appears to be nothing more than glue from a hot glue gun. However, when I tried to run a scan, nothing came up. So that one is still a mystery."

    Dan Flynn inspected the pages, a twist of focus on his face, before handing them to Sam, "Well it's a good start. I'll try and keep the lieutenant out of your guys' hair for as long as possible. Don't let me down."

    With that, Dan walked back to his office and Sam grabbed his coat, "Thank you Miri. This is big."

    Miranda nodded, "Hopefully big enough to catch the Surgeon. You've got a lot riding on it."

    "Don't I ever," Sam replied with a sigh, lightly squeezing Miranda's shoulder in a thanks before rushing by her and out to his car, papers in hand.

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  15. Still dazed from and traumatized by the brunt of harrowing pain and insurmountable feeling of fear and helplessness that engulfed her being in the hands of a maniacal serial killer and now trying to make sense of what's going on with the sudden turn of tide, Emma Myers realized that the miracle she had fervently prayed for has finally come to set her free from the dungeons of death. She's terribly shaking, screaming, sobbing, terrified..

    But the grim fear and physical, emotional and mental anguish that she had experienced during her traumatic ordeal with the devil is now overcome with hope.

    "Oh God, Oh God..." she wept uncontrollably as one of the officers untie her from the restraints. And, as soon as she's free from the bondage of doom, she hugged him so tightly, still shaken, but somewhat relieved.

    Though still feeling weak from the atrocity, she slowly mustered her strength. Everything still seemed so surreal to Emma but, nonetheless, happy that she's finally saved from yet another gruesome murder by a savage, mentally-deranged individual who finds joy in the number of women he brutally kills.

    She started walking slowly towards the door, paused for a moment, drew a smile on her face, feeling so lucky and thankful to be alive.

    Everything that unfolded finally made sense to her. "Thank you, oh God, thank you" she wailed.

    As medic assisted her towards the ambulance, she saw the serial killer, seated on the back of police car, being whisked away from the scene of a crime.


    Is Emma Myers, really, finally free?

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  16. Sam frowned as he read over the papers Miranda had given him. Something didn't make sense. The license plate number looked oddly familiar and the vehicle, when he looked at a picture, looked much too nice for a serial killer to hide out in.

    Suddenly it clicked and he opened up his laptop, hoping he was wrong. He was not. The vehicle was the lieutenant's. Kowerlitz'. He found this as he looked at an older picture of him and Miranda that they had taken in a level in the police department's underground parking lot.

    That would explain why Miranda had found no match for the car in the criminal car check. But what still didn't fit was why he had been given Kowerlitz' number as he certainly could not be this Surgeon that had been all over the country.

    Another thought popped into his mind; that maybe the observant had been observing another observant of the crime. That maybe Kowerlitz had been watching all along.

    Sam's phone buzzed and he answered it, "Ya."

    "Might as well come back, Grady," Dan said through the speaker, "Feds found the Surgeon. The girl is being taken back to her boyfriends I was told."

    "Was Kowerlitz supposed to be with them? Do you know who is taking her back?"

    "No to both questions, and what does he or whoever takes the girl home have to do with anything?"

    "Is he there right now?"

    There was a pause as Dan checked, "No, Tim says he went out for lunch. Sam, what is going on?"

    Sam put the car into drive, "I think we just found the second witness to the initial crime and a suspect of a possible second one."

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  17. Dan hung up the phone, staring at a blinking light indicating a call on hold. After a short pause, he switched to that line and listened.

    Then he said, "Yeah, I let him know. You were right, Miranda's helping him. I think he may be onto you."

    Another pause.

    "He'll be heading out right away. I'll let you know if he tells me anything else."

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  18. Six months later...

    Emma Myers finds herself basking in the Caribbean sun. The pristine, white sand shore and emerald green ocean of idyllic Grandiosa, a small island paradise 30 miles off the coast of scenic Belize, is her quiet respite from the maddening crowd of Manhattan, New York where she moved, at the insistence of her cousin who is a prominent physician there, to help her recover from the traumatic ordeal she had gone through in Seattle. It was a very tough decision she had to make. At first, she felt so sad whenever the thought of uprooting herself from a place she called home for a very long time came to mind, and considering so many beautiful things and memories she had to give up and will miss the most. For sure, despite the one hellish moment in her life, she lived comfortably there with a high paying executive day job and a professional writing career on the side, the people she loved so dearly and the easy commute to Vancouver and Alaska where she spent the last three summers with her boyfriend were some of the reasons she vehemently hesitated at first.

    But after that horrific incident where she almost lost her life, followed by a falling out with her lover, she finally felt compelled that it was impeccable time to leave Seattle. She reasoned "well, it's always dreary and raining there all the time. And the city has a high suicide rate anyway." She enjoyed, as much as loved, the glorious skyline of Seattle especially the Space Needle where she frequently had lunch -on top of the world- with her clients and select few friends.

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  19. She left...

    Once settled in New York, and enjoying the same high-heeled lifestyle that she's accustomed to and held for most of her life, recovery seemed like a breeze for Emma.

    She'd while away time shopping in Lower Manhattan, spend the weekends in East Hampton where her cousin resides, or drive to nearby Connecticut or Newport, Rhode Island each time she'd find the late Springtime afternoon in New York boring.

    But she'd always come back with a more positive rejuvenated outlook probably brought about by the invigorating Atlantic breeze. "What's not to love about New York?" she'd ask herself, she had completely made a 360 degree turn around sometimes pinching herself just to make sure everything is real and she's totally recovered from the doldrums of a dark past that cloaked her happiness for a brief moment in time.

    But Emma realized that her occasional morning escape to Central Park wasn't helping her enough the much conducive atmosphere she needed to finish the book she started writing about a few weeks after she finally found out that she had managed to overcome the trauma that beset her life, she decided to embark on a trip to Grandiosa. At first, she didn't know much about this tranquil Caribbean island so she did some research and inquired travel agents for some details about this perfect getaway - so far away from the city that never sleeps.

    One of the most remarkable and stunning feature of Grandiosa is its majestic sunrise. The view from her balcony is so spectacular she could see all the bliss of life away from stress and the serenity it provides its dwellers is one of utmost tranquility and peace of mind. A perfect location for a soul wanting nature to unveil itself so eloquently where words flow endlessly... silently.

    Emma Myers was getting ready for the day. Her maid walked towards her "Good Morning Madam" the usual polite voice greeted her. And with a glad smile on her face, told her that breakfast was ready at the same time handing her her favorite newspaper "The Scintilla" which is flown in everyday by a small plane from Miami.

    As much as possible, she tries to avoid reading the news as she felt it was just a distraction from what she had originally intended coming here for - to be away from the humdrum of big city life and just enjoy the peace and quiet and the grandeur of paradise.

    As she was going through the pages, one particular news item, struck her attention, the expression on her face suddenly turned from one that's eagerly inspired by the soft murmuring of the morning breeze and invigorating sunshine to that of as if the world quickly plummeted in an ocean of doom. The piquant smile on her face that cheered the day when she woke up been replaced with a tremor of fear.

    What could have possibly, suddenly changed Emma's mood? And why's she in a state of panic?

    She grabbed her phone, ran to her room leaving the newspaper on the table.

    The curious maid, left wondering why Emma suddenly felt agitated,
    picked the paper, the headline in big bold letters read :

    "SEATTLE SERIAL KILLER ESCAPES MENTAL FACILITY. MANHUNT IS OUT"

    Emma Myers is certainly not out of the woods. Yet!

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  20. However, to fully understand Emma's dilemma, what actually transpired and what caused her to become so scared, one must go back and look at what occured after the Surgeon was caught and Sam found out the truth behind Kowerlitz.

    Therefore, back in the "present", now nearly six months ago, Sam began to follow not the throng of police cars heading back to the station, but rather the road in the opposite direction, hoping to find Kowerlitz' vehicle. He pulled up to a stop after only ten blocks, however, suddenly realizing what he was doing was completely pointless. He needed to go back to Miri; hopefully she knew someone that could activate the city cameras and track the vehicle to its location. He spun a quick U-turn and drove off to the department.

    Dan parked outside and quickly ran up the steps, running through the lobby only to be stopped by none other than Kowerlitz, glaring right at him in the middle of the hallway to the basement stairs.

    Sam gulped, yet stood his ground, shoulders square, "Yes?"

    "Let's put this simply, Grady. You're fired. I found evidence that you failed to give me from the kidnapping scene in your desk. A hair is crucial evidence."

    Sam said nothing, only glaring back.

    "I'll get someone to pack your things and send them to your apartment. Leave now."

    Sam held his ground for a full five seconds before slowly turning around and stalking off, heading to the back doors. As he did he fingered the brown envelope, still in his pocket.

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  21. Meanwhile, in Southern Ohio --- where a sprawling maze of maize (which is more like the summertime economic epitome of this buckeye country)and century old trees with their branches arching over them provide a stunning backdrop to a homeward bound antiquated horse-drawn carriage traversing a solitary dirt road under a vast sunset sky --- a man posing as a wealthy shipping tycoon from Scandinavia mysteriously showed up there claiming to be in search of a vast farmland to buy.

    But his flawless American tongue, boisterous and lavish way with words and threatening corporate get up didn't go unnoticed from the prying eyes of the locals -these are folks who know everybody in the neighborhood and are somewhat reserved, conservative and very territorial when it comes to strangers (his mere sudden, unannounced presence made them very uncomfortable and nervous) let alone welcome a shady businessman ready to take their livelihood away from them.

    Apparently, the "gossipy" locals didn't appreciate this complete stranger's presence; reason enough for them to gather and seek each other's opinions.

    One townsfolk, a bit threatened more than irritated, wondered "it's quite suspect and ironic for someone who is heavily involved in the shipping industry to come all the way here from halfway across the globe to venture into farming? Highly doubtful!"

    Another angry resident followed up heckling "if he intends to bring all the ships here, he's making a big mistake. Even the nearby lake is not deep enough to host them."

    Who is this man that got this quiet Southern Ohio community so all riled up?

    And, why, of all the places did he choose to come here?

    What connects the dots?

    Will they, finally, call the cops?

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  22. Sam now knew that either Miranda or Dan had betrayed him, and he also knew it could never be Miranda. The hair was still safe in the envelope and no one else knew about it, let alone the details of what was found. And he also had the only copy of paperwork in his car.

    Sam stormed through the back doors and immediately stopped dead in his tracks. Across the road, parked wide out in the open, was Kowerlitz' car. It was fancy, black, and sleek. The trunk seemed to roar out at him, his eyes set on it as it seemed to amplify in size.

    He looked around quickly and ran over to the car, grabbing for his keys as he did so. He pulled out one key that he had gotten specifically for things such as this that might occur on the job. He jammed it in to the trunk's keyhole and the various point on the key turned, adjusting to the unique pattern required. He turned it and the trunk popped open.

    He paused for a slight minute before taking a breath and throwing the trunk wide open.

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  23. Not wanting to alarm the local authorities and stir the quiet atmosphere of Grandiosa, Emma, being the lone survivor and primary witness to a failed crime, decided to contact Seattle police instead. She wanted to know what steps does she have to take in order to protect herself from any eventuality that might happen in the light of the Surgeon's escape from the mental institution that housed him prior to trial. She knew exactly that she can be called any moment to testify in court to prosecute her captor.

    But...


    The authorities in Seattle assured her that they are doing their best to track, and hopefully, capture the Surgeon and bring him to justice. They advised her to stay where she is at the moment. "We'll keep you posted Ms Myers and should you need a 24/7 protection in Grandiosa, we will gladly provide it to you" said the reassuring, calm voice on the line.

    "I'll think about it" Emma hesitated.

    She thought that with the manhunt out now all over the USA for the serial killer it would be difficult for him to clear immigration if he really knows where she is and hell bent on taking that risk of getting caught while pursuing her, unless he undergoes a total faceoff, uses fake documents, or knows someone at the immigration to conspire with him which could also be a possibility.

    Thoughts that put unease on Emma's. But being her usual stubborn, opinionated self sometimes, and although worried but cautious, she just quelled the idea as she would dust off a lint on her cloth. "I have a bright, full life ahead of me to live for and no one can ever stop me from doing that" she reasoned.

    Or so she thought...

    Meanwhile, in Southern Ohio, the esoteric calm of dusk was awakened by the insistent crowing of roosters which is a familiar sound that greet the residents there everyday. It may be a quaint musical repertoire usher in the morning to visitors or strangers but to the inhabitants there, it is a signal to start the day.

    As the dwellers - who, the night before, were very wary of a stranger that suddenly showed up there and rubbed their elbows in a very obstinate way - began to tread on their daily rural activities found out that the mysterious man had left in hurry and, strangely for a close-knit community as theirs, no one even saw him departing.

    They alerted the cops...

    But it was too late.

    As mysterious as his coming, the man's nowhere to be found...

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  24. It should have read .... "the esoteric calm of dawn" instead of dusk. Sorry for the mix up.

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  25. Sam looked in the trunk and turned his head. The girl wasn't in there, but there was blood. He closed it and started pacing, trying to think. He had been following Kowerlitz by only probably 5 to 10 minutes, so it was unlikely he could have dropped her off anywhere. The only place he could have travelled in that time was here, to the station. So was he wrong? Did Kowerlitz not do it after all?

    Suddenly he had a thought. And as much as he hated that thought, he needed to know. He ran around to the small parking lot out front. Dan Flynn never parked anywhere else. And his car, a trusty blue Chevy, was no where to be found.

    Sam let out a small yell, throwing his arms up in frustration. This was all too much; he felt like he was going crazy! He couldn't back out now though. He jumped in his car, which was parked at the very front, and called Miranda.

    "Miri, I know this may seem bad, and believe me, I'm hoping I'm wrong, but could you please trace Flynn's cellphone signal for me?"

    There was a long pause on the other end and Sam thought Miranda might have simply left, but finally there was a small sigh, "Okay."

    "Thank you so much," Sam breathed.

    "He's heading towards Queens I think, nearing the turnoff."

    Sam gunned it down the street.

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  26. The scorching summer heat in Charleston, South Carolina started to intensify even more with the day progressing into full bloom. But even when the air is so thin, it doesn't stop a throng of visitors all too giddy to explore the city and wander along its picturesque harbor. The glittering Victorian houses are a sure fire attraction and with Charleston's strategic location on the Atlantic coast, rich culture and peculiar landscape, it, definitely, is like no other city on the coast where history lives and blends harmoniously with time and tide maintaining a perfect balance between old traditions and modern way of life.

    A black mercedes pulls in the parking lot of an old train station that's been turned, in recent years, into a museum. The man, dressed in semi casual clothing, steps out of the car and heads towards the payphone. Using a prepaid card, he dials a number within the United States of America. He grabs a pen and paper from his pocket and starts to write down all the informations he needed from the person on the other end of the line.

    He hangs up the phone and walks back to his car.

    He drives the car closer to the harbor, parks on the side of the street, gets out of his sleek mercedes and slowly heads to a boat waiting on the harbor. Once inside the boat, he picks a prepaid cellular phone and the prepaid card he used at the payphone out of his pockets and dials a number with a country code 501. As he hears the phone rings, a smirk draws on his face...

    Is this the same man who had mysteriously showed up and surreptitiously disappeared after stirring the quiet rustic ambiance of Southern Ohio?

    Where is he headed to?

    Will his trail, finally, get tracked?

    Who could be the person this man called at the payphone? Is someone conspiring with this man providing him all the resources that he needs?

    Who did he call, and what (or who) is he after, exactly?

    The mystery continues...

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  27. Summer season tourist arrivals seem to be picking up so exceptionally well in Grandiosa. Being blessed with good weather that provides a sunny sky all day long, a sparkling, beautiful white sand coastline that is so invigorating for a morning walk of gaiety, its inviting turquoise ocean and all the lavish attractions and features of this spectacular, serene island paradise along with its dynamic and full scale tourism marketing and reciprocity campaigns with neighboring Caribbean isles are drawing a lot of visitors attention. Reasons, too, why Emma preferred to stay here. Temporarily.

    But how she's nonchalantly taking recent developments - such as the mysterious escape of the Surgeon from the mental institution and his disappearance from the Seattle local police and Federal agents' radar - remains a big puzzle and 64 million dollar question.

    Earlier, her cousin from Long Island called to tell her that she's coming for a week-long vacation.

    "Emma, how's Grandiosa?" Kimberly queried.

    "A gem like no other..."

    By the tone of her reply, her cousin figured how satisfied Emma is with her stay in paradise.

    "Everything that a tourist wants to see and experience is all right here Kim. And if the word paradise is an understatement, then I must say this is a priceless pearl. My one and only oyster." paradise-stricken and content Emma added.

    And Kim was quick to dance with her cousin's tune "I know I could always count on your exquisite taste my dear cousin and you've quite convinced me enough. I'm so excited to be with you and see your lavish oyster soon. I love you cuz"

    "Right back at you cuz" were Emma's parting words.

    With the considerable length of time or number of days she had stayed in beyond beautiful Grandiosa and a flawless gift of glib and friendliness when interacting with the locals and tourists alike afforded Emma to make some new friends.

    Sailing is one of Emma's favorite pasttime activities which she does here quite oftenly with newfound girl friends. Diane is a striking blonde from Boston, Anna is more of a coy personality - she tells them that mostly women from Ecuador are more of a conservative type, while Rose, who's from New Zealand, and Nina, from Italy, are more of the outgoing personas. Emma enjoys genuinely the company of her multicultural friends. She finds spending time with them sailing, dining out, or just strolling along the majestic shoreline is more of a positive distraction than an annoyance.

    Emma spent a full day with them today. Good tired as she calls it.

    She just got back to her lovely villa and ready to call it a night but not long after she had gone to the shower and had a glass of red wine which are a regular nighttime repertoir for her. The blinking light on her answering machine quickly caught her attention. Other than the feds and the police officers she's in constant contact with, only a very few close friends and family know her number in Grandiosa. "Hmm...What could've possibly Kim forgotten to tell me?" crossed her mind, murmuring as she approached the phone and ready to press the message button.

    "You have one new message!"

    "Having a lovely time in Grandiosa, Emma?"

    It was not her cousin Kim's voice that greeted her.

    The voice sounded so raspy, a bit vague with the winds on the background overlapping the caller's voice. Emma is a very smart and observant woman and she could tell that her caller made the call on a boat somewhere at sea.

    It didn't take a few seconds to distinguish the caller's voice. And Emma shivered in fear.

    Who called Emma? How did the caller know her number?

    We'll find out soon!

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  28. Sam drove through downtown 10 oer what he should have been. He had little hope he would ever even glimpse Dan's car. He felt as if it were all over and there was nothing left for him to do but aimlessly drive around. He wasn't going to give up, however.
    Just as he decided this the most incredible, yet gut clenching thing occurred. He saw Dan's car turn a corner. His mind froze for a second, then he quickly caught himself and swerved into the right lane. He followed for only a few minutes before Dan turned into an old parking lot outside of a warehouse. Sam gunned it into the lot and jumped out of the car nearly before remembering to put it in park.
    He stood behind his door, providing protection. His gun was out and he had it pinned on Dan, who was standing beside the closed trunk, in shock.
    "Dan, what the heck are you doing? Tell me this isn't what it looks like."
    Dan stuttered before letting out an audible sentence, "This is over your head, Grady."
    "Is it? Because I figured it all out. Everything except why you would help someone kidnap a girl!"
    Dan slowly reached behind him, hand trembling.
    "Don't do it, Dan."
    Dan contined to move, Sam's grip tightened on his gun, confusion etched in the fearful determination on his face.

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