Chapter 1

Leo Carper

Detective Leo Carper watched the man through the thick, one-way glass, the blinds blocking thin lines on his body.

The missing ski mask left his dark hair disheveled, his black clothes another reminder of his guilty deeds.

After months, Detective Carper found his break.

He drummed his fingers on the sill of the window, mulling over in his mind what to say. He had to be careful; he knew he couldn’t loose the one lead he had on this case. This was by far the toughest case of his career so far.

Seven people in a coma and no evidence left behind. He was starting to think this was the act of a ghost.

At first, Detective Carper thought this was the result of a sickness.

All seven were found and had the same medical diagnosis—a severe seizure shut off a portion of their brain, leaving them half-dead and in severe condition by the time they were found. It was only when Leo started looking at the victims closely when he realized the connection and knew this wasn’t just a random act of violence.

All seven individuals had just been convicted of serious crimes and were found innocent in the courts. Just a couple days from being let free, they were found in a coma in their house. There was no sign of a struggle or forced entry, just the swift hand of karma.

But when Detective Carper was called just before he was going home, he could hardly believe his luck.

Someone was found trying to break into the crime scene and he knew this was the opportunity to finally push this case further.

Detective Carper took a couple more minutes to gather his thoughts before slipping out of the observation and resting his palm on the handle leading to the interrogation room. He would get his answers.

He took a deep breath and pushed the heavy door, letting it slam behind him as he slithered in the dark room.

The room was bland and dark. The only furniture consisted of the small, brown desk that looks like it was stolen from a classroom and cushioned chairs covered in a deep maroon.

Detective Carper noticed the man swallow as he approached, his adam's apple springing on his throat.

He was a thin man but looked to be in his thirties or forties. His dark, long-sleeved jacket was now rolled up his arms, exposing some thin, scarred arms. He had a distracting scar right on the side of his left nostril, making him look a little older than he probably was.

Detective Carper pulled out the chair and turned it around, placing a leg on either side of the chair and straddling it.

He could feel the fear pouring out of his suspect, suffocating the thin air. But his suspect only clenched his jaw and rose his chin, his gaze resting on the man.

“Glaring at me is not going to get you out of here. You messed up and you got caught. There is no way out.” Detective Carper pulled his chair closer to the table. “I can help you cut your losses and your time. Either you help me or rot in jail for as long as I can make you.”

That finally elicited a response from the suspect and Detective Carper smiled, watching the words lull around in his head.

Detective Carper’s heart lurched as his suspect suddenly leaned forward, resting his thin arms on the small table resting between them.

“The problem is, detective, I am more afraid of my employer than I am your justice department.”


Terra Reyes

The bus’s brakes slammed and Terra’s head flew forward, smacking against the seat in front of her.

Noah rolled from his laying position and his head slipped from her lap. Terra quickly grabbed his waist just before he landed on the hard carpet covering the bus floor.

Worried, Terra pushed herself from her position with her hand, fighting the residue momentum from the breaks. She rolled Noah from his hanging position and pulled him back onto the seat next to her.

Terra moved both his hands out against the seat in front of them, making sure he was steady before she stood and tried to see what was happening.

The squealing of brakes were overwhelmingly loud as she looked ahead, squinting in the dark. But before Terra could see anything, the brakes did their job and the train jerked to a stop, sending her hips into the seat in front of her.

She settled back into her seat, keeping an eye out for something to tell her what’s going on, but Terra still couldn’t see anything.

Noah looked up at her, silently asking her what’s happening. Terra looked back towards the front of the bus with all the other passengers, searching for answers.

“Sorry for the technical difficulties, they should be fixed soon then we will be on our way again,” A voice sounding a lot like the bus driver called through the darkness.

A chorus of voices floated around the confined space, asking for details of the current event or a further explanation. A couple of dim lights came on in the front dash, illuminating the bus driver and the worry on his face.

Terra heard the man try to quiet the crowd and spoke again. “Please, everyone settle down. It should be no—”

A loud pop echoed through the darkness.

Terra’s heart jumped at the loud sound and she quickly searched for her brother’s hand. Noah let out a surprised squeal at the sound and stood, his own curiosity taking over.

The round man speaking to them just moments before stumbled forward, eyes glossed over as his body slammed to the ground.

They all watched in horror as the black hole in the back of his head bubbled red and all voluntary movement from his body ceased.

The light diminished and a chorus of screams erupted. Terra pulled Noah to her and covered his eyes, trying to blind him from the scene already permanently distilled in his mind.

He hiccuped and Terra could feel wetness soaking her hand while the voices in the train once again flared, this time mixed with screams and tears.

“Terra, what’s happening?” Noah asked between cries, shaking in her grasp.

Terra tried to encircle her arms around Noah to shield the ten year old, but his tremors showed her that it was no use now.

Her own fear make her hands shake and her throat close, but she swallowed hard and stayed still for him. She didn’t know what to say, so she stayed silent.

Another loud noise echoed through the bus, but it wasn’t as loud and seemed swallowed with the overwhelming sound of voices.

The moonlight came out and it became a little easier to distinguish shapes and sizes. A large swarm of shadows was buzzing by the front door, blocking the exit.

“Shut up!” A commanding voice thundered over the space, halting all motion and noise coming from the terrorized passengers. “Listen and you won’t get hurt. I’m not feeling particularly patient today, so any disobeying or goofing off will just make you like your bus driver.”

The black shadow spread across the body on the ground and heavy boots thundered against the carpeted bus ground.

Terra suppressed the surprised squeal at the sudden alert that there were more people here than she hoped for. Her fear instantly picked up the pace of her heartbeat.

Terra could hear rhythmical stomps like soldiers walking towards them and their aisle and Terra pulled her hand from Noah’s eyes.

Every instinct and thought she had was working on how to protect him.

Terra motioned with a single finger to her lips for him to be silent and pointed to the old carpet covering the floor. Slowly, they lowered to the ground.

Small crumbs covered the hard floor and Terra brushed her back against the bottom of their seat to hide from view.

Noah followed, hiding under the seat in front of them. Terra heard the boots coming closer and held her breath.

They just escaped from their abusive father’s hold. There was no way they were going to be dragged into some human trafficking ordeal on their ticket out.

This was not the life Terra had planned for Noah.

She may only be nineteen, but she was determined to not only escape their abusive father, but to give her brother the best life possible.

A pair of boots stilled right at her nose. “Now, we are going to count off and leave in the order of your number. Understand?”

The cab remained silent and the fear was nearly palpable.

“Do you understand?!” He hollered again.

A chorus of ‘yes’ replied instantly; the voices hushed immediately after their salute.

Stealthily, Terra reached out with her hand, gripping the backpack handles and bringing them close to her body.

“Now count off!” The man yelled immediately and the first terrifying voice squeaked out a ‘one’.

Terra could hardly hear it through the fear strangulating her senses. The next individual said two, a little louder and more confident, but she could still hear the fear in their voice.

The next number was called and Terra rolled herself like a log under the rear bench, going to the back of the bus.

Terra had forgotten Jamie was there until she locked eyes with her as she rolled under her bench. Terra silently cursed and stilled under her bench.

Jamie was one year older than Terra and talked to her on occasion while they were still in High School. She hadn’t seen her in two years, but she now happened to see her on the bus to Pennsylvania from New York that offered Terra and her brother their freedom.

Jamie had come in right before the bus was going to leave and took the last row on the bus. Terra had completely forgotten she was there until now.

Terra’s feet were pulled onto the bench, giving her the illusion nobody was there. Terra may have just made a mistake that cost her and Noah their freedom.

Comments (1)
goodnovel comment avatar
Gosh! I love your writing. :) It's very pretty to look at. (If you get that.) The characters really come alive, which is nice.

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