A charred, smoking ruin was all that remained of the beautiful gentrified home. The propane tank was a hollow, burned-out metal shell. Members of the North American Police Special Investigation Unit sifted through the remains in a desperate search for clues. Other troopers had cordoned off the area. Armored units and helicopters spanned out across the city looking for yet-unidentified suspects.
Frank Carragher pulled up to the curb on the street in front of the home. Major Toombs and Lt. Colonel Mullen stood back watching the investigators ply their trade. Carragher was appalled at the sight.
“Major, any idea how they managed to blow up the house?”
“They attached some sort of explosive device to the propane tank outside,” Toombs responded.
Carragher seethed angrily.
“I can only speculate as to who is to blame for this mass murder. I do find it incredibly hard to believe that somebody could simply sneak past the security perimeter surrounding Kamloops without being spotted, carry out this blatant act of terrorism and sneak out like the proverbial thief in the night.”
“This isn’t exactly a small town,” Mullen said. “There are many residents, mainly ex-service personnel, who are capable of inflicting such damage.”
Toombs glanced over at Carragher.
“Sir, perhaps now you will heed my advice. The amount of personnel both Colonel Mullen and I command in this district is simply not adequate enough to police it effectively. As you’re well aware, a small, committed band of insurgents can be more of a threat than an entire professional army. The only way we are going to find these terrorists and instill enough fear into the hearts of the populace is by cordoning off the city neighborhood by neighborhood and going door-to-door. Search every single home top-to-bottom. Any resident found in the unlawful possession of any type of weapon will automatically forfeit his or her life.”
“Public executions. Now there’s an idea worth exploring,” Carragher said. “Colonel Mullen, do you know a General Nilsson? He’s with the United Nations base in Edmonton.”
“Name rings a bell, Sir,” Mullen said. “If you had any idea how many UN troops are stationed in North America…let’s just say we’re many.”
“I had a Skype conversation with General Nilsson a couple of days ago. He is just waiting for the green light to send three hundred Norwegian peacekeepers to Kamloops. They are expected to arrive within the next day or so.”
The three looked on in horror at the ghastly sight of four bodies being carried out of the house on stretchers. The bodies were scorched beyond recognition. Two had been half-carbonized.
Toombs and Mullen lowered their heads forlornly.
“I’d known Gerald Cairns for decades,” Toombs said. “John Richardson had just been promoted to lieutenant. I didn’t know the two women. One had spent twenty years in the RCMP. She was a staff sergeant.”
At that moment, an NAP corporal who’d been talking on his radio put it away and approached Toombs.
“Sir, there’s been another murder.”
“Where at Corporal?” Toombs asked. “My God, this just keeps on getting better,” he said sarcastically.
“All I know is that it happened in some neighborhood close to the downtown area.”
“One of ours?” Toombs asked in horror.
“Not exactly, Sir. Victim’s name is Ron Storey,” the corporal affirmed.
“Isn’t that the commandant of the re-education facility?” Mullen asked Toombs.
Toombs nodded as he cringed in anger. He shouted out to an NAP sergeant who was talking with a couple of the investigators.
“Sergeant Geraldton, we have to get down to that murder scene right away.”
Geraldton walked over to him.
“No problem, Major. A couple of the special investigations guys are coming with us.”