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SITTING BEFORE HER in the cozy, well-lit home a few minutes later while the milieu persisted out on the street and the respective officials worked the murder scene for clues, Davies looked Samantha squarely in the face.

“A lot of crazy shit has been going on lately, Mrs. Prince, and it really beats men,” he began, kicking off the conversation.

Samantha paused, idly tipped the cup of water she was holding in hand back and forth with her eyes intent on the window, then said, “What you mean is that a lot of these so-called shit happened mostly around me, right, Detective?”

“Not all,” replied the detective. “But yes, you could say that. And it’s worrisome.”

“How so?”

“Well, for starters, I’d feel worried if I were you,” offered Davies, playing it to his advantage. “People close to me turn up dead in a matter of days. It’s scary, don’t you think?” Then he paused, looking at her.

She sighed gently. “I must admit; it’s quite unsettling.”

Davies continued quietly: “People have died in the most vicious manner in the last few days alone, all somehow linked to either you and to your son, even if remotely. Now two officers are dead on your street, virtually outside your door.”

She looked at him. “You’re saying I had something to do with that, Officer?”

“No, that’s not what I’m saying, Mrs. Prince.”

“But why not?” she asked him, shrugging slightly. “Why do you think I couldn’t have committed all those heinous murders in the first place?”

“Because I’m not an idiot,” he answered pointedly. “In fact, I’ll wager that you’re in danger yourself, Mrs. Prince. It’s only a hunch for now, but it would appear to be that whoever is carrying out these atrocious killings is coming for you, trying to edge you into a corner before murdering you like the others. It’s like a hunting game and you’re the prime target.”

Samantha Prince stared at Detective Lee Davies with unspoken dread. He could be right, and she marveled that she hadn’t seen it that way before. Sooner or later, she was going to fall victim to the evil that was lurking about in the shadows.

“And when I took you to see that dead officer,” said Davies, subtler now, “I saw the horrible look in your eyes when you saw how he looked. So please, help me solve this bizarre puzzle. Help me catch the asshole behind these killings.”

Samantha scoffed lightly, shook her head and eyed him. “For that I can’t help you, Detective,” she returned. Then she eyed him. “You really think you can stop what’s going on, don’t you?”

“I’m hoping that I can.”

“Well, you can’t; take it from me. I know.”

“Tell me what you know,” Davies said, sitting forward.


He continued, “Do you know what those two officers were doing out on your street?”

She shook her head, got up and walked over to the window, pulled the blinds back a little and contemplated the crowd of onlookers on the street and the building gridlock.

Taking in the sickening scene, noting the look of consternation on the faces of the people, Samantha imagined what the headlines would read like on the evening news that day:

HORROR IN TEMPEST: Cops gruesomely murdered, Citizens Petrified!

“I put them out there to keep an eye on you because I suspected you were the key to all the murders, that you were somehow connected to what’s going on,” he said from behind her. “And see what happened to them. Before that, I had watched you myself for a while; I saw you with those weird worshippers. The Sisters or whatever they call themselves.”

Samantha turned and looked at him. The color had left her face, and she seemed pale, bored, uninterested with life itself. “They’re not responsible for what’s happening, Detective.”

“Of course.”

“They’re only trying to help me.”

“Help you?”

She nodded. “It’s crazy shit, like you put it. But I don’t think you know the half of it.”

Davies grinned. Then he sat back gently, crossed his hands on his chest and stared at her. “Go on.”

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