Scorpion's Reach 'The Burning'
First an apology
Sorry for missing an episode last week, some things took priority and I had to do them, having said that I'm glad you folks are back, and for anyone who missed I'll be putting links in to the last episode as well as the start of the story for those who want to follow it all the way through.
The book is out on Amazon and is doing well, it's also an entrant into the 'Ngaio Marsh New Zealand Crime novel of the year 2018' and I'll be keeping people informed as to how it's doing.
From the previous (sort of)
This wasn’t the ‘insecure officer’ she’d expected from the reports, and the way he was behaving about the station said something wasn’t quite right, she just didn’t know what yet.
“Besides” he continued, “It’ll be best if I actually take you to the scene after we’ve eaten, that way you’ll see what we talk about!”
“That sounds like a plan” Sam replied as she grabbed her bag off the floor, “lead the way”
They exited the station and headed across the street to a small cafe, this early in the morning there was a brisk trade, mostly tourists eating a quick breakfast before making the drive either up to Colville township, further up the peninsular, or towards Auckland, there were a couple of things worth seeing in Thames which was about an hour south of them,, but nothing that’d take more than a day.
"By the way, the name's Hene" the young officer turned to Sam, "want a coffee?" He took a piece of carrot cake from the cabinet; she was a little surprised as he'd said he was hungry.
"Cappuccino, with chocolate topping please" she turned and headed for a table.
A few moments later Hene joined her at the table, "I thought you were hungry?" She asked.
"Yeah, right" Hene was slightly hesitant with his reply, "sort of, but talking in the station's not always a good idea" he sat down, "you sure you don't want some? Kind of makes me feel guilty eating on my own!"
"Thanks but the coffee's enough" she replied. "Anyway I wanted to talk about the guy killed in the accident last week."
Missed an episode? Here's the previous one
- Scorpion's Reach, 'Bad to the Bone'
What do you do, when you work at a place you can't even tell your family about, and it puts them into mortal danger?
"Got my backside kicked for doing my job!"
"There were two men killed in the accident" Hene reminded her, "which one?"
"Yeah right" she shifted slightly, the waitress arrived with the coffee, she put the chocolate top in front of Sam, and Hene had mocha.
"I'm talking the car driver" Sam replied, "what can you tell me?"
Hene took a packet of sugar, ripped the top open and poured it into the mocha, "Cavell I think his name was," he thought for a moment, then went on "some banker I think, killed on impact, I took witness statements, so I didn't actually see the deceased!"
"Witness statements?" Sam asked, "the reports said they weren't reliable enough, and none were taken" she sounded quizzical, "am I right"
"Right about the report" Hene replied, "Total BS about reliability though! These two were totally coherent, hell the guy saved one person's life doing CPR!"
“But you wrote that in YOUR report didn’t you?” Sam replied pointing out that it was Hene's name on the report.
“I didn’t write it!” Hene replied ‘matter of factly’ he took the mocha, took a sip and put it down, he went back to eating the carrot cake!
“But your name’s on the report, so to all intents and purposes you wrote it!” Sam replied, she looked into his eyes, he wasn’t lying, but there was a hint of frustration there, was it the questioning, or something else?
“Yeah, I know” he slowly, almost reluctantly replied, “I submitted a report, textbook with all the details, but Murray hit the roof with me!” he replied.
“Why?” The more she heard about this situation the more confused she became, why would a copper criticise another for doing his job properly? “What was wrong with it?”
“Nothing as far as I’m aware” Hene replied, he took a spoonful of the carrot cake, “I had all the details, all the information from the witnesses, including the detail about the mysterious character seen leaving the crash scene just after the impact.”
“What? This wasn’t in the report!” she replied taking her notebook out, Hene reached over and placing his hand on hers stopped her, “There’s no need for taking notes,” he said, then taking out a small flash drive he gave it to her, “It’s all on here, the original report that I wrote before Murray had me take it down!”
“Are you telling me?” She began
“All I’m saying is I got my arse kicked for filing the report before Murray had a chance to sanitize it” Hene replied, “we had a huge argument over it, and I’m pretty sure he’s looking for the first chance to ‘can’ me if you know what I mean” he gave a steely stare back, “I’ve been waiting until I went to Hamilton in a couple of days to talk to someone about this as I don’t really trust anyone here! It’s a pretty small station and most of ‘em are Murray’s mates”
“You realize what you’re saying don’t you?” Sam was concerned; it wasn’t everyday you found stuff like this going on.
“I’m the ‘newbie’ here” he replied, stretching out and returning the cup back to the saucer, “maybe no one will listen, but I do have a duty to report it, I know that, meanwhile I’m the one who looks a total incompetent with a report like that one filed in my name!” Hene was angry, “anyway I wanted to take you to the scene so you could see for yourself, you’ll see what I mention in the real report!”
Sandy couldn't sleep, something, she had no idea what but something was bothering her, "was it just that it's too quiet?" She was trying to sleep, but it was eluding her.
It would have been good, just to have Joey to snuggle up to, but with her parents in the same house, but it just didn't feel right, hence he was in one room and she was in the other.
Unable to sleep, she decided to get up and check on things, coming out of her room she went to turn the light in, nothing happened, she tried again, then a familiar voice spoke quietly.
"I took the bulbs out" it was Joey, he was sat in a corner, the curtains were open, he was silently watching the outside, on his knee was a shotgun.
"Joey" Sandy pointed to the gun, "something you're not telling me?" He was just sitting there watching the silhouettes on the outside, a couple of windows were open.
"It's from Jack's gun cabinet" he replied, "and yes, it was locked, but that wasn't much of a problem"
"Did you break the lock?" She asked, Joey wasn't known for being gentle.
"Give me some credit" Joey sounded slightly offended, "I HAVE BEEN WATCHING you know!" He paused, she was going to say something but he held his hand up, he was concentrating on the outside.
Sandy found a chair and sat down, it was totally silent, Joey had the windows open, but they were actually sat just inside the ranch slider which was closed, there were no lights, not even from street lights, the view was sensational, with the wide belt if the milky way stretching overhead meeting the darker silhouette of the forest, but even there shapes could be seen, something was moving, you could just see the movement in the shadow.
Things were just too quiet, that was when she noticed she couldn't hear the birds, at first she'd thought it was the windows closed, but Joey had two or three open, there wasn't a bird making any noise, it seemed almost eerie.
"So quiet" Sandy whispered, "Almost too quiet"
She reached out for a chair, her night vision was coming back slowly, she was beginning to see differences in the shades rather than just the silhouettes, she thought she saw things moving outside.
"You're right there!" Joey whispered, "sorry to say but I think things are about to 'turn to shit, and very quickly" he opened the gun chamber and started feeding cartridges in, the gun, a Remington 870 tactical wasn't quite the Bushmaster he was used to, but she was a good weapon in a tight spot, the seven cartridge magazine was slightly more than the average pump action, and she was real easy to reload! "Best get the folks up and to safety"
"The garage?" She asked.
"Yep, in the car, get ready to drive like a maniac!" he replied, then turned to her, she could see a slight smile, “Oh, and by the way, Sir Mike was slightly ahead of us, help’s waiting at the end of the track” he said pointing to the second exit.
Won more TT races
A 1956 Norton commando isn't just a bike; it's a statement, one that says, "I'm king of the road, and you, GET OUT OF MY WAY!" But then a ‘Commando’ isn’t a ‘big bike’ but she’s fast, built for the Isle of Man TT races, she’s a bikers dream in many ways, and his nightmare in others, but once you’ve owned one, you’ll never go back to the modern ’crap’
The ‘commando’ was leading the pack, then came two Harleys, bigger machines but nowhere near the same statement, the last guy was riding a Triumph Bonneville, all the bikes were fifties vintage, and all paid for dealing the hard stuff.
"That the place?" One of the Harley riders asked", pointing to the letterbox at the head of the drive, the drive itself looked pretty dark with trees lining the roadway, there was a left hand curve in the road up the drive that kept them hidden from the house.
"From the info we got it is!" 'Norton' replied, they had their mobiles wired into headsets and were using them like radios with the difference they could all talk at once. Norton continued on, "He said only to scare 'em, but if anyone gets hurt it's their problem not ours!"
There no lights on at the house, that was good, it meant the occupants were asleep, they were about to get a rude awakening!
Back to the beginning. (if you want the whole story)
- "Scorpion's Reach". Part one.
Recuperating from the operation in Iran, Joey and Sandy are forced to 'take a holiday' with Sandy's family when tragedy strikes. A freak accident takes a life, but is it really an accident?
Hunter and the hunted
"Mum, Dad" Sandy whispered through the slightly open door of their room, "We've got a bit of an issue; we need to leave, NOW!"
"Okay" Peter replied, "We couldn't sleep anyway" he sort of propped himself up and reached for the light, he flicked the switch, nothing happened. "Damn, light must have blown" he began fumbling about.
"Fuses removed" Sandy replied, not adding much more." Look, we've got to move, and no lights okay?" The last part was a 'don't argue ' kind of statement.
Peter was out of bed now, and getting dressed, Sandy's mum was also up and moving, "Where's my blouse? How the hell am I supposed to get dressed when I can't find my bloody clothes?" She was tired and grumpy, and everyone was going to know about it.
"Sorry mum" was all Sandy could think of, "but it's for your own safety!" She began.
"And if I trip over a bloody cord and break a leg, how's that safer than using the sodding lights?"
"At least you'll be alive to do it!" Sandy retorted giving more information than she intended.
"What's that meant to mean?" Both had found clothes and were getting dressed, not liking their daughter's tone.
"What I flaming well said!" Sandy was frustrated, "there's some people here meaning to do us some serious harm, now get a bloody move on and quit moaning!" She felt awful talking to her parents this way, but they needed to realize the danger they were in.
"Not the ‘friends’ you and Joey were talking about before are they?" Peter's voice reminded her of the way he used to speak when scolding her and Helen as kids, there was also a huge dollop of worry in the voice.
“Yep” She replied, “Haven’t met them personally, but I don’t want to either, now come one!”
Jack and his wife were already in the garage, Joey had woken them, they were whispering to each other.
They say you can smell fear, but what they never tell you is You can taste it too! It's the vile taste you get just before you want to vomit, that's what fear tastes like, the sickening sweet yet burning sensation you can taste in the back of the throat that's telling the stomach to leap out through whatever orifice will open!
She could feel the fear in the air, the dark hid some of it but she was sure the other two women were shaking they were so afraid.
Joey seemed not to be affected by it that was on the surface of things, "guy's got bloody ice for blood!" She heard her father say, she daren't say anything, she'd learned Joey's trick of 'channelling the fear.
"Hell, he even searched the house for weapons!" She thought, he had, and it turned up an old pump action shotgun (the Remington) with a broken trigger spring and a Ball Bearing gun, both of which were repaired, cleaned, oiled and in better working order than they'd ever been, even when new they didn't work as well as they do now.
Sandy had learned too, she'd spent the last few days mapping out the property and the escape routes, they'd called them 'bug routes' after the military term 'bug out' meaning 'run like hell, but in an orderly way!' They had 'bug one's through the main gate, 'bug two' down a disused and overgrown track at the back of the property, and 'bug three' was for if the shit really hit the fan, that one was really treacherous as it involved crossing open ground!
"They've come down 'bug one' " Joey whispered to Sandy, "take bug two" he turned to the rest of the group, "right folks, back of the Land Rover please, lie down in the back, that'll give more protection"
The Landrover was an old Mk1 that Kevin had restored, she was old, but as well as being the first ever four wheel drive they were still regarded as being among the best, if somewhat temperamental. Sandy slid into the driver’s seat and checked everything, she turned the key and all the dash lights came on telling her the 'lannie' was ready as soon as she pushed the button.
Joey handed her the Remington, "last resort!" He said, "Five in the mag, one in the chamber, also there's bad news and good news!"
What can be worse than knowing there's people out there wanting to do you or your family some serious harm? "Give me the bad first!" Sandy replied.
"Apparently there's more showed up, a couple more at the head of bug one as we speak!"
"How'd you know?" Sandy asked hoping it was just a guess.
"That's the good news," Joey replied. "Jacko and Mac are waiting for you at the end of bug two, Smithy is watching the rest!"
She felt like launching herself at him, flinging her arms around his neck and kissing in such a way it'd make her parents blush, but that'd have to wait. How?" Was all that would come out. “How the hell did they get here?”
“As I said before” Joey whispered back. “Sir Mike was ahead of us on this one, but then again, who cares! They’re here and waiting at the end of ‘bug two’ they’ve got orders not to interfere”
That was understandable, you don’t just walk in on a position when all hell's about to break loose, the danger of friendly fire is just too great, and with Joey here they knew everything would be covered, traps would be everywhere and they’d be guaranteed to walk into one! “They’ll take care of protecting the family” Joey was saying, she wasn’t fully hearing. “Smithy’s going to take care of any ‘late arrivals’ and make sure they don’t interfere!”
“And make sure the others have no chance” she wanted to add, but didn’t “What about you?” was all she could think to ask.
“I’ve got the four legged friends, and a few surprises set up” Joey replied, he began lifting the garage door slowly, they could see some movement in the distance as the bikes approached, they were still a couple of hundred yards away, trying in their own way to be quiet, but to be honest it was comical. “They’ve got no sodding idea, these clowns, look” he pointed to the headlights that were still on, they had no idea that Joey’d seen them a good kilometre and a half away.
From the author
We'll have to leave things there this week folks, but things are getting 'interesting' to say the least!
Will Joey and Sandy get help in time, and what about the cops, will they find out what's going on?
It'll all come together soon, but in the meantime I'll leave it here and ask, if you enjoyed the story, then let me know in the comments below.