The Immortal Beside Me, Book II

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Chapter 9

Lynch awoke much later, logy and out of sorts. This wasn’t unusual for him, but it seemed to be more so now that Jenna was sharing his bed. She was wrapped around him in an intricate fashion that could only be described as a python looped about its prey. It was almost funny. He could still breathe fine; moving, however, would be another thing altogether. He decided it was okay. For a moment more, he wanted to forget the battle ahead of them. Any distraction would do, especially this one. He could manage enough movement to kiss the top of her head. She stirred only a few millimeters. A quiet laugh escaped him, and he would have covered his mouth if he had access to his limbs. He didn’t, which made him laugh even louder. Lynch bit his lip, quieting the laughs before the noise actually forced her eyes to open. Jenna was the kind of sleeper who became pissed when suddenly, and rudely, awakened.

He didn’t have the opportunity to wake her. Her slumber was crudely disturbed by the chirp of his work phone. Her body came untwined from his in a slow crawl, one that was sexy as hell. If it weren’t for the urgency of the matter, he would make love to her again. Instead, she turned to her back, reached for the cell phone lying innocently on a small table by the bed, and handed it to him in one fluid motion. He looked at the number. As he feared, it was from Central Dispatch. He was paged so rarely, this could mean only one thing. A murder. Deep, aching pain attacked the pit of his stomach. He knew nothing about the crime, yet he was certain of the suspect.

“Lynch? It’s Clark, isn’t it?” Jenna asked, as if reading his mind. Hell, she most assuredly did.

Carefully, he placed the phone between them. “Probably.”

He grabbed the phone and called dispatch. Without a word, she took it off the charger and gave it to him. He dialed Central Dispatch by memory and listened to the burring rings until the line was picked up by one of the female dispatchers. He was certain it was the brunette, whose name he thought was Stephanie. Lynch noticed Jenna watched him carefully as if waiting to hear what the hell was going on. For once, he wished she would leave the room. At this juncture, there was no way he was getting rid of her now.

“Both you and Hugh are needed immediately,” Stephanie said as soon as Lynch announced who he was. “Hikers found a body in Martin Park.”

Martin Park was close to where he took his jog every other day. That fact alone bothered him even more. Why didn’t I anticipate this? “I’ll be there in ten minutes. Have you contacted Hugh yet?”

“Yes, but he has not called in.”

Lynch thought nothing of it. He hit the ‘end’ button and tossed the phone carelessly on the floor. Quietly, Jenna watched as he rose from the bed and began putting himself together, wearing jeans instead of slacks and a tee-shirt rather than his usual button-down. He grabbed his badge, which still hung on the lanyard and threw it over his head. In the all years she had lived with him, he wore casual clothing and his badge on a lanyard for rare occasions. One of those, of course, was when he would be in the field for an extended period of time. There was definitely a murder, she could read it from the light sweat emitting from his pores.

“I know I don’t have to tell you this,” she began, “but be careful, mindful, and watch your back.”

He looked at her, noticing how vulnerable she seemed sitting up in bed, her body covered by a thin white sheet. He remembered the little girl she had been when she came to live with him, Andy, and her mother. Dear God. Why was this happening to them now? He slowly approached the bed and sat facing her. He kissed her tenderly, his hand caressing her cheek gently.

“All of the above,” he said. “I promise.”

Lynch arrived at the PD as promised, checking in with the dispatchers and then heading to the captain’s office to await further orders. When he arrived, Hugh was already sitting in his usual chair. Lynch sat beside his partner and faced their captain. His name was Mick Belmont, a thirty-five year veteran, planning to retire within the next two years. Lynch knew Belmont was already grooming Hugh to take over for him. He was sixty, just under five feet eight inches tall, and balding. What hair he had left was jet black.

“We’ve sent the CSIs to the park already. The victim was a young woman, probably a jogger. Her name was Rebecca Moore. I suggest the two of you get out to the scene ASAP. The last time I spoke to one of the CSIs, they’re waiting.”

LeVale was a small town, so when Belmont mentioned a CSI team, he was talking about two people, Marge Devlin and Brian Flynn. When Belmont finished speaking, neither Hugh nor Lynch waited for another word. They wanted to get a jump on the scene and speak to the witnesses before area TV crews arrived. All they needed was a bunch of news guys fouling up the scene.

After arriving at the remote location near Martin Park, the two detectives flashed their badges and were allowed entrance to the scene. Two individuals were huddled together a few feet away. Lynch assumed they were the ones who found the body. In step ahead of Hugh, Lynch made it to the victim first. Before he did anything, he asked one of the CSIs for a pair of rubber gloves so as to cause as little cross contamination as possible. While Flynn took photos, Devlin collected what evidence she could. Since the area was frequented by hikers and numerous joggers, who knew what was out here?

Lynch crouched low to take a look at the young woman. The condition of her body was shameful, low, and cruel. There were marks about her neck where it appeared as if she had been chewed. There was blood present, but not as much as would have been expected otherwise. How would a normal police investigation explain where the blood had gone? Although he was tempted to touch her, he resisted the urge. If he could lay one finger on her, he might be able to see who did this to her. Of course, that wasn’t really necessary, was it? Deeply within himself, he already knew. It was a simple matter of finding the bastard first. For a moment, Lynch closed his eyes and concentrated as hard as he could. He saw glossy black hair. Before anyone else could notice, he opened them quickly. Glossy black hair was enough. If he needed any more evidence, it was there, for the asking.

“Whoever did this should fry like a chicken leg,” Hugh said, whistling sympathetically.

Leave it to Hugh to dishonor a life in such fashion. Sometimes, Lynch didn’t know how the two of them remained partners and friends. “It’s definitely a sick son of a bitch,” he said to no one in particular.

“Find anything useful?” Hugh asked Devlin.

“A few hairs, some fibers, but we’re not sure they weren’t already here,” Devlin said. “However, the hairs may be more credible than anything we’ve seen since we arrived. There are tons of footprints around. Again, those may or may not belong to the killer. There are no drag marks or tire tracks. So above flying the body over here, we’re unsure how she got here.”

Lynch nodded and stood up. “I’ll take care of the witnesses.”

Hugh didn’t argue as Lynch approached the two hikers. They were both men of about twenty or so, probably from the college out looking for something for a project. He dug a notebook out of his jeans pocket as he approached. Lynch stuck out his hand, the two men each took a turn shaking it.

“I’m Detective Tackett with the LeVale Police Department,” he said almost absently. The introduction was programmed in him, automatic. “I understand you found the victim?”

The younger of the two hikers shook his head. “I’m Jason Daws,” he said. “I saw her first.”

Lynch scribbled down the name of the young man and the few words he said. “You saw nothing else? No one else?”

“No sir,” he said, swallowing hard. “Nothing out of the ordinary.”

He totally understood what the kid was going through. He knew from simply being around him that this was the first dead person he had ever seen outside a funeral home. He looked to the other hiker. “And you?”

The other man shook his head. “No. Nothing, just…her.”

This gentleman was the stronger of the two, the one who might have been able to remember seeing anyone. He didn’t. It was all over him. “And your name?”

“Lucian Daniels.”

Lynch jotted down what he could before handing both men business cards. He knew patrol cops had initially interviewed them, so he would go back to the PD and compare notes. “If you think of anything you might have forgotten, do not hesitate to call.”

For a few minutes, Lynch stayed with the two shaken witnesses, watching Hugh as he stayed with the body. He was examining a bit of evidence that Devlin had collected before they arrived. He was scrutinizing it carefully, as if he recognized it. It tweaked him in a way that wasn’t altogether pleasant.

Somewhere, hidden, Lynch knew Clark Honsterott was laughing.

After Lynch had gone to work, Callie and Jenna were left with Andy, working on what they could do without getting themselves or Lynch killed. It sounded more factitious than it should have, but they didn’t know what to do with their minds. Shutting them down and going to sleep was definitely one thing they could not do.

Jenna detached herself from the other two for a few moments, allowing herself to stare out of the window. She didn’t know what she was trying to see, if perhaps an image of Lynch coming home, although it would probably be hours. She was angry with him for not calling about the murder. She wasn’t stupid. She knew he couldn’t share information with her. It was different this time. She was his family, he had to tell someone. After five minutes or so, she turned back around and noticed that both of her roomies were watching her curiously.

“I know he isn’t coming home for a long time,” Jenna admitted, knowing this was on their minds. “I wish he would call.”

“He isn’t, you know,” Callie said.

Jenna’s arms were already crossed before her, her hands occasionally caressing them as if she had a deep chill. Callie’s comment sounded quite catty. Was it meant to be? “If he doesn’t call, he will let us know something.”

The other woman laughed sardonically. “Don’t be so sure about that, Jenna. Lynch is a cop. I should know, I grew up with one, I know how they act.”

“That may be true,” Jenna retorted. “You forget that I lived with one as well.”

Andy shook his head and brought his body slowly to his feet. “I think that is my cue to exit.”

He expected a confrontation to occur between the two women. He just didn’t expect it so soon. The funny part of it was that they both loved him in different ways. Jenna’s, of course, was more pure, focused, and centered, as it always had been. Callie was still a kid inside, looking for a good time, believing that she had found the love of her life, when that wasn’t close to being the truth.

As soon as Andy disappeared upstairs, Jenna focused her eyes on Callie. “Let’s do this and get past it. We need to work together, Callie, and both of us are too old for this preschool shit.”

Callie crossed her arms before her, intentionally mocking Jenna. She stared at the other woman from her seat on the couch. “I agree that we’re too old to be playing grade school games, but I have one thought for you. You are only with him because you have the home team advantage.”

“You know what we’re facing,” Jenna said incredulously. “I cannot believe you want to talk about who has the rights to Lynch. I may have been living with him for almost twenty years, Callie. Think about this. How long did it take for us to come together? We’re together, Callie, and there’s not a damned thing you can do about it now. We need to put this childish shit aside and figure out what we’re going to do.”

Jenna slowly approached the couch and sat at the opposite end. She stared at the other woman for a very long time, sizing her up, reading her mind, and what she saw there was constant hurt. Every relationship for her was the one. When it didn’t turn out that way, she had a breakdown. It was sad, it was a miserable life, but she couldn’t pine away for a man who did not love her.

She folded her hands and placed them in her lap. “Whether you believe me or not, Callie, I consider you an ally. We need each other, and I don’t think there should be room for jealousy or anger. I’ve had errant, childish thoughts run through my head, and I realize it was very wrong.”

Callie uncrossed her arms, left them dangling at her sides. She was so tired she wanted to scream if it would do any good. “I have too,” she said. “I’m sorry. I don’t need to tell you my life history, but I don’t have the best track record when it comes to men, especially if you have been around Clark as much as I think.”

Jenna had indeed read Callie’s mind, knew about her men, her screwed up sense of love. She hadn’t wanted to invade her privacy; it was much too easy to read. When someone was hurt or in peril, those feelings came to the surface almost immediately. “Callie, I’m sorry for what you’ve gone through, for what Clark has done to you. If Lynch had known of him, he would not be walking amongst us now.”

She shook her head, feeling the bitter sting of tears behind her eyes. “You still don’t get it, Jenna. Clark is different.”

Andy came downstairs suddenly, carrying a large dusty book. “I apologize for interrupting you. I’ve found something.”

He placed the heavy volume on the coffee table and implored the women to join him. They huddled in a group and read the Old English words with some difficulty. Clark was most likely an immortal known as a hardros. It was a mixture of two Dutch words that translated into nothing more than gibberish. However, Andy figured the creature was a hybrid of possibly a snake and another unidentified immortal, possibly a demon. Since Clark could shift, the old word might have meant ‘shifter.’ It was something similar to what Wit Hoff had described to Lynch quite some time ago. It was the way Clark moved that brought Andy’s attention to this description. When Callie read it, she thought something about it sounded familiar, something she had sensed when Clark changed her. He was something of a shape shifter, an immortal that could erase a person’s memory with the slightest touch. Jenna noticed how excited Andy was at this find. It explained how he didn’t remember the basement incident.

“I haven’t read anything about how to defeat it,” Jenna said suddenly.

“I think I know,” Callie said slowly, dazedly. Both Andy and Jenna looked to her, prodding her along with their concern. “The left wrist must be chewed or cut into.”

“Holy shit,” Jenna whispered.

All the way back to the PD, Hugh didn’t speak much about what he and Lynch had investigated. They stayed with the witnesses and long after the body was taken away. Lynch sensed a strange vibe from Hugh. It was one he hadn’t sensed ever, not in his entire career: mistrust. Lynch let it ride for a very long time without bringing it out into the open.

The two men entered the department and went to the cubicles which served as their offices. Hugh’s was right across from Lynch’s. The only person who had a private office was the captain. When they arrived, his door was closed. He was probably taking in a load of shit from the murder. It was a rare occurrence here, so when it happened, the captain was mostly unreachable unless one of them needed an ass reaming.

Although Lynch had a pretty damned good idea what happened to the woman, he found himself drumming his fingers against the blotter before him. “What do you think we have?” He asked Hugh.

His partner wasn’t making much noise. He had brought his computer out of its sleep mode and quietly began to type up his report. “Hard to say,” Hugh finally said. “A lot of people use Martin Park as a hiking trail.”

“Agreed,” Lynch said suddenly. “It’s going to be hard to finger one person.”

There was a long burst of keystrokes for about five minutes before Hugh stopped again. Perhaps he was thinking about the next line of words he wanted to type, perhaps he wanted a beer or a woman, or perhaps, just perhaps, he was thinking things he shouldn’t think. Whatever it was, he couldn’t keep his mouth shut. “You jog out there, don’t you, Lynch?”

Lynch sighed. There it was. Out in the open. There was the hint of mistrust he had sensed the instant they got into the cruiser to head back in. Hugh saw something, a hair perhaps, that looked similar to Lynch’s. Suddenly, he understood what type of game Clark wanted to play. “Sure, I do,” he said calmly. “So does your sister, so does a league of other people. What are you getting at?”

Hugh stood up and leaned over the top of the cubicle wall. “Nothing, Lynch. I just don’t like it when murders occur on my watch.”

“You think I do,” Lynch said. “Something else is going on, man. What is it? What are you really trying to say?”

“I’m just trying to add two and two, my friend,” he explained. “That’s my job.”

It was both their jobs. Suddenly, Hugh didn’t trust him anymore. Before he left for home, he needed to make a visit to the evidence room, examine what was collected, what made Hugh such a bastard so suddenly.

Lynch typed up his report at a slower pace than Hugh. He did on purpose so he could find time to examine the evidence. When he finally typed the last word, he stood up and pretended to stretch. Hugh was not in sight. Not knowing where he was, and not caring at the moment, either, he saved his report and walked away from his desk.

The evidence room in LeVale was located in the back only feet away from the main part of the PD. There were two lockers, from floor to ceiling. Then there were five rows of stainless steel shelves covered with manila envelopes. The lockers held cold storage as well as other items. The items collected during a murder were normally kept in the shelves. Knowing that most of the physical evidence wasn’t the type to be held in cold storage, he dug out his key ring. Every detective had access to the cabinets. Going purely by instinct now, he picked the third shelf from the top. In order to get to it, he would need a ladder. He rolled one over and climbed up.

Putting on a pair of rubber gloves and inserting the key into the lock, he opened the cabinet shelf and peered inside. There were a series of envelopes in different sizes. His sense of what he was looking for became stronger as he fingered each envelope. He picked up the one he wanted. Devlin had written the time, date, and location of where she found this particular item. To any other person, it would look like 3p, aug9, left finger. Deciphering Devlin’s code, it was found on today’s date at three on the woman’s left hand. He opened the envelope, peered inside, and shook his head angrily. It was a simple strand of hair, something that might fall out of a person’s head during a struggle, or while they washed their hair, or from simple shedding. What made it worse was that he was almost completely certain the hair belonged to him. Hugh had noticed. It was why he had gone quiet. He believed his partner had gone rogue on them.

In essence, he was being framed for this murder by Clark Honsterott. He hadn’t wanted much when he entered Lynch’s home, just a few pieces of biological evidence to plant on innocent victims. Knowing this room was both videotaped and guarded, there was no way he could take the evidence without tampering with every piece of equipment in the building. It was time for another strategy, another way to deal with this. He needed to get home.

Lynch entered the house unexpectedly early. Andy, Jenna, and Callie were still reading through the book. By the look on Lynch’s face, Jenna knew something was wrong. He wanted to first speak with Jenna alone, but realized they were all a part of this now.

“Lynch, we have more information on what we’re dealing with,” Andy announced.

He nodded vaguely, not caring right now. Right now, he was in another world, one that required a silver bullet. “Good. I have something to tell you all.” He watched as they looked up at him expectantly. The only way to handle this was to simply spit it out. “When Clark broke into the house, he took biological evidence from us. Hair, fibers, possibly even blood.”

“Why the hell would he do that?” Callie asked, her voice sounding wondrously horrid.

“Oh dear God,” Jenna breathed. “He’s trying to frame you.”

Lynch was torn in more ways than he wanted to be right now. “I can’t tamper with the evidence without ripping through their surveillance equipment and destroying their security team. Hugh already knows it was my hair found on the victim’s body. It’s only a matter of days before they arrest me.” He gazed into Jenna’s eyes. “There’s no other way.”

Andy understood. Jenna understood. Callie did not. It was Jenna, however, who promptly jumped to her feet and stared down her lover. “No. Lynch. I will not.”

“This is the very reason I wanted no entanglements,” he said quietly.

“What are we talking about here?” Callie asked. “I don’t understand.”

“No,” Andy said. “You wouldn’t. It’s Lynch’s express wish to die if he were to ever harm a human or harm one under a different guise such as this.”

“I’m with Jenna on this one,” she said. “It’s stupid, Lynch.” She pointed at the book. “We know how to get him. We just need to figure out when.”

Lynch shook his head. “It’s too late for that. The three of you will need to continue to work together and promise to stop him.”

Jenna was all but forgotten in this moment. She wasn’t about to have that for any reason. She approached Lynch and took hold of his shoulders. With all her strength, she shook him. Considering lycan blood ran through her veins, her movement packed quite a wallop. He flopped back and forth like a rag doll. Steadying himself against her, he was able to resist her actions, not by much.

“Quit it,” Lynch demanded.

Jenna held up her head queenly, as if she were the most important person in the world. “In anticipation of your demands, Andy and I have been planning an alternate method.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Lynch barked.

“Tell him, Andy,” she said smugly.

Callie out of the loop again, sat back and awaited the next step. Andy looked away from the thick volume upon the table and settled his eyes on his friend. “I have a nephew who lives in North County, up in the mountains. He has a huge estate that his family has offered us for many years. We have an escape route.”

“Don’t you understand that we’re still vulnerable to Clark?” Callie asked.

“While that may be true, we can focus our efforts and defeat him,” Andy said calmly. “We can leave at any time. One hair cannot convict you, Lynch. One hair cannot get you arrested, can it? Especially since you jog in that area?”

“It can,” Lynch began, “as soon as they put it together.”

“What do you say, Lynch,” Jenna whispered. “Give this a chance to work.”

Resigned, Lynch sighed heavily. What other options did they have other than ending his life? As he thought many times before since allowing Jenna inside his heart, he couldn’t think of another way. Death didn’t seem so attractive any longer. “My leaving will look suspicious as hell,” he said. “I don’t see any other choice.”

As Lynch had figured, Hugh realized whose hair Devlin had collected off the body. He was about to do something he never did in his entire twenty-five year career with the police department. Hugh Norwood was going to tamper with evidence. He waited until the third shift arrived for business. The entire PD was virtually deserted at this time with the exception of dispatch staff, and those responsible for the evidence room. There was a team on standby for any homicides that might crop up in the middle of the night. Hugh distracted the guys sitting in the area of the evidence room. It was easy enough. He directed their attention toward some fabulous joke taped up on the wall near his cubicle. While they were reading it and laughing heartily, Hugh fiddled with the cameras.

Working quickly now, he went to the evidence room, opened the drawer, and found what he was looking for. Without a moment’s hesitation, he slid the envelope into the breast pocket of his jacket. He knew it was Lynch’s hair, but he wasn’t about to let a good cop go down for a bad rap. It was time for him to pay Lynch a visit, to find out who would want to frame him for murder.

Hugh drove out to Lynch’s house and immediately noticed one thing totally out of place. The property lights were out. He had never seen them off unless there was a power outage. Not thinking anything out of the ordinary just yet, Hugh left his car’s ignition on, turned his lights on bright, and slowly approached the front door. He saw there were no cars or lights on inside. This made Hugh’s cop’s instincts begin to kick in. His hand went immediately to the butt of his gun.

He didn’t believe his friend was a killer. At the same time, if nothing was wrong, why in the hell would the whole bunch of them leave? It was too late to turn back to the PD, return the evidence, and go on with his life. Although this scene was very out of place, he still didn’t believe Lynch was guilty of anything. He took the envelope out of his breast pocket, dug out his lighter, and set it on fire. Once the flames came to life, he threw it on the ground and watched it burn.

“Burning evidence is not a great idea, Detective.”

Hugh jumped at the words. He was facing a young man he had never seen, but who was the infamous Clark Honsterott, the man who allegedly had beaten his sister to a pulp more than once. Even in the dark, Hugh could tell he had glossy black hair and very shiny eyes, so much so that it made him uncomfortable.

“Who are you?” Hugh demanded with his fingers within millimeters of his revolver.

The young man smiled without showing his teeth. It was a good thing. His canine teeth had already grown into the fangs he normally used on prey items. “Calvin Hopkins,” he said, the lie coming easily to him. “FBI.”

Hugh immediately took notice that the supposed federal agent didn’t bother flashing a badge. Playing along for now, Hugh asked, “Do you know anything about what happened to this family?”

Clark stuffed his hands into his pockets, paced about, trying to look official, and then came to stop again. “I’m not certain,” he began. “However, I think they hit the road a few hours ago in the company of one Callie Norwood. Isn’t she your sister?”

At the mention of his sister’s name, Hugh lost most of his professionalism. Callie was supposed to be at the university. Why would she be in the company of Lynch Tackett and his hangers on friends? He slowly took his gun out of its holster and aimed it at the other man’s stomach. “How would you know that if you weren’t involved?”

Clark laughed uneasily, it was becoming harder and harder to hide his teeth. He didn’t want to use them until he was ready. “Come on now, Detective. I didn’t say I was involved. I told you, I’m with the FBI and I have been investigating one Keagan ‘Lynch’ Tackett for quite some time. We have reason to believe he is a serial killer, wanted in five states.”

It was another lie in a series Hugh didn’t believe. If any of them had been under investigation at the PD, the captain would have said something. If another agency played in their backyard, someone would have been informed. “Sorry, kid. I don’t believe your story.” He watched as the guy shrugged his shoulders, the gesture saying ‘so what?’ “Turn around slowly, take your hands out of your pockets, walk forward to my car, put your hands on the hood, and spread your legs apart.”

None of it meant much to Clark. He had been in these positions before. It was how he found more than one prey item. He did as he was instructed. Keeping his piece aimed at the back of Clark’s head, Hugh approached the young man cautiously. He inserted his foot between Clark’s legs and dug the butt of his gun into the man’s back, which allowed Hugh time to rustle round for a set of cuffs. He managed to get one of the bracelets clasped tightly around Clark’s wrist. He managed the same on his other wrist.

Hugh grabbed Clark’s arm. To Hugh’s total surprise, Clark turned toward him with a huge smile on his face. It had to be the lack of light playing tricks on his eyes, because he was certain the other guy had a set of fucking fangs in his mouth. The cuffed man began taking steps toward Hugh, who stood only a few feet away.

“Take another step, and you will know what a bullet in the gut feels like,” Hugh warned.

“Go ahead, you pathetic piece of human excrement,” Clark hissed.

Hugh took the shot. The bullet struck Clark’s chest dead center, which should have brought the man to his knees. It did nothing of the sort. Instead, he only slightly staggered, laughed, and wiggled his hands. Like a magic trick, Clark was out of his cuffs like a crazed magician. Hugh shot again, then again, and kept on shooting until he ran out of bullets. If he had brought an extra clip with him, he would have loaded it, and pumped even more into the lunatic. He didn’t understand why the son of a bitch hadn’t died.

In horror, Hugh watched as the bullets fell out of Clark, one at a time, smoking as if they had been burned out. He did the only other thing he could, he ran. It didn’t matter. Clark caught him after a few feet. Hugh screamed in agony when he felt teeth, fangs, enter his neck. He was brought down as a hawk brings down a woodchuck.

Clark always enjoyed unexpected prey items. When he was finished with the cop, he dragged his body back over to the house. He stared at the crumbling plantation mansion, trying to get a feel for the humans inside. They had left hours ago, but for some reason, he couldn’t sense where they had gone. Angered, he bit his own lip, drawing blood. He spat it out, as he didn’t like tasting his own. When he found them all, he would teach them a lesson, oh he would teach them such a lesson.

He left Hugh’s body lying outside on the grass as if he were no more than a dead sparrow. He went around to the side of the house where he knew the basement was located. It didn’t surprise him that the window had been fixed. However, that was of no consequence to him. He took his fist and pushed it easily through the glass. Like a hot knife through butter. Clark climbed inside, flicked on the light, and looked around the room. Outside the equipment, they had enough forethought to take everything with them. Of course they would. He was stupid enough to think they would leave their compounds behind at the house.

Annoyed, he went up the basement stairs, found the door unlocked, and entered the house. He made his way toward the front door and kicked it out. Hugh’s body was still where he left it. And why shouldn’t it be, he thought. It wasn’t as if Hugh had nine lives supporting him. Sighing, he dragged the cop’s body inside. When that task was complete, he primly closed the door behind him. He stood back approximately twenty feet from the house.

He had an idea, but wasn’t certain all the parts would be available to him. However, he was always up for a challenge. He went around to the back of the house and found a shed. Rummaging around inside, he found several cans of gasoline. When one had a property this size, it took a lot of gasoline to power the equipment to maintain the upkeep. He spent an hour or more dousing the house with gasoline. After lighting a humungous cloth wick and stuffing it down a glass bottle he found, he crashed it through the front window and set the house ablaze. Wow. Molotov cocktails really work!

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