This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
Anger, fear, and regret. Those were the emotions running through Matthew Benson as he watched his sister being tied up; her limp body looked like a rag doll. He had mistakenly trusted a man with a badge and pulled over to help him.Now he was bound and gagged, watching the same thing happen to his sister. They had been on their way to their parent’s home from a late dinner with their friends when they came upon a stranded car with flares all around it.
“What are you doing?” Madison had asked as he slowed down to pull onto the shoulder.
Their father had always taught them to help people in need. “You know I’m good with cars Sis and I want to see if I can help.” He shrugged and smiled.“Besides, he’s a cop, it’ll be ok.”
It felt all wrong to her for some reason so she grabbed his arm as he opened the door. “Matt, please don’t go. I think this is a really bad idea.”
He should have listened to her but the man had a badge and he was a detective he’d seen before. He was greeted with a relieved smile. “Thank you so much for stopping. I’ve been here for about thirty minutes and I was starting to think I wouldn’t see anyone. It died with no warning and of course my cell phone is dead too.”
“It’s your lucky day.” Matthew assured him that he could help and bent over to look under the open hood. “Try to start it up.”The man did as he was asked and nothing happened.
The man had joined him again when it was clear the engine wouldn’t turn over. That was when he realized much too late that he should’ve listened to his sister as his mouth and nose were covered with a rag. He tried to fight back but whatever chemical was on the rag was strong and working fast, he quickly slipped into unconsciousness.
The man looked around the hood of the car to make sure the young girl hadn’t seen anything. She seemed to be preoccupied by her cell phone if the white glow he saw from the car meant anything.
He ran over quickly, calling out so he didn’t scare her. “Hey! Excuse me! Hey! Something is wrong with your brother! He just collapsed!”
Madison jumped and screamed at the sudden interruption. She was hesitant about opening the door but if Matt was in trouble she had to help him. “What’s wrong? What do you mean he collapsed?” She asked through the crack in the window.
He tried to make himself look as frantic but friendly as possible. “I don’t know what happened. One minute he was talking and the next he just fell to the ground.”
Her first thought was to call their dad or 911 but she needed to see him before she could tell them what was wrong. She cautiously opened the door and when he didn’t make a move for her she thought maybe she was just being too paranoid. She followed him back to his car and found her brother on the ground like the man had said he was.
She dropped down beside him and gently shook him. “Matt! Matt, wake up!” When he didn’t move she pulled her phone out of her pocket and started dialing 911. “How did you know he was my brother?”
She felt a sharp pain in the back of her head as he laughed and said. “I’ve been following you.” She cried out but knew no one would hear her. Not out where they were.
He didn’t know how long he’d been out but when he came out of the fog of whatever was used on him he could hear the man talking as he paced around them. “If your father and the others had just done their jobs all those years ago we wouldn’t be here right now. All they had to do was convict the man.” It wasn’t making much sense to Matthew as the man continued to yell and rant. “My father was murdered and now your father and the others will know the pain my family went through.” Matthew watched as he pulled out a revolver and walked over to him. His instinct of course was to fight so he kicked and thrashed as much as he could until the man kicked him in the ribs several times. “Fighting won’t save you or your sister.” As much hatred as he had for their father he wouldn’t let one watch the other die.Madison was still knocked out so he struck Matthew on the head and watched him collapse. He shot them, left a few things behind, climbed into his car, and drove away.
A phone ringing and a hand gently shaking her were followed by a familiar voice which is what made her stir. “Babe.” The hand gently shook her again. “Kris wake up. Come on babe.”
“What?” She mumbled sleepily as she rolled over. “What’s wrong?” She could hear him speaking to someone.
His deep but soft voice said. “We’ve got a case and Jonas is on his way.” This news confused her since they weren’t partners. She sat up and looked into his deep brown eyes. “Shower’s running. I’ll make the coffee while you get ready.”
She nodded groggily as he kissed her and headed for their bedroom door. “What time is it?” She managed to ask before he disappeared.
“Just after three.” He called out as he walked out of their room. She smiled at the thought of it being their room. That was a fairly new development that she didn’t have time to think about right then.
She groaned and forced herself out of bed. Just after three meant they’d only been asleep about four hours. She and her partner had finally closed a Homicide case that they had been working on for the last two months. As she climbed in the shower and stood under the hot stream of water she briefly contemplated a new career. Less than ten minutes later she was walking back into their room. A hot steaming cup of coffee was sitting on her night stand, her clothes were lying on their bed, and her boyfriend was sitting on the corner of the bed putting his shoes on.
“Thank you.” She murmured as she inhaled the wonderful sent before taking a big sip. “You’re the best.” She sighed as contently as she could for a 3 a.m. wake up call.
Quinn flashed a smile, taking the compliments while he could since her mood would soon change drastically. “I kind of like you too.” He said and ducked as a pillow inevitably came flying his way.
They were dressed within minutes and out the door as her partner pulled up. They all exchanged good mornings as they got settled and Jonas drove away.
“What exactly do we have?” Kris asked her partner as she rubbed her eyes trying to ease the burn from lack of sleep.
He shrugged as he pulled out of her driveway. “I don’t really know.”Quinn passed him a travel mug of coffee.“Thanks man.”He took a long sip then said. “The call I got was to come to a scene at Bass Road and Highway 41.”
“Ours was the same.” Quinn said from the back seat.
Kris processed this as Jonas also said. “The strangest part is that there is absolutely no radio traffic about whatever this is.”
They were let through a small road block and all Kris could think was that it was going to be really bad. She was proven right when they pulled up to the scene a quarter of a mile away and took in the scene. “Holy shit.” Quinn said from the back seat. “Is that Elliot with the Mayor and the Chief of Detective’s?”
There were at least a dozen cars around the area none of them had their lights on. This made the dread settle in Kris’s stomach.There were very few, and none of them good, reasons why no one would use their lights.She looked in the direction of the small crowd and in fact found Mayor Stroud with their Lieutenant and the Chief of Detectives.
“This can’t be good.” She said what the others were thinking. The Chief of Detective’s never made it to a crime scene unless it was an officer involved shooting and even then it was very rare.
They climbed out of their car and made their way towards the small crowd watching them. Kris had never felt more scrutinized in her life. Their Lieutenant, Elliot Davies, met them halfway.
“Thanks for coming.” He said as they all shook hands. “I know you guys just finished a case and I’m sorry but the Mayor requested you guys specifically.”
“The Mayor?” Kris asked, a little skeptically and Elliot nodded. “Okay. Well what exactly do we have here?” She asked as she looked around the scene again.
He looked over his shoulder and said. “Double Homicide.” He nodded towards a uniformed officer they all recognized, Greg Henry. “A 911 call was received around 1:30 a.m. about an abandoned car near the intersection of Highway 41 and Bass Road. Greg was in the area and responded. When he arrived there were two bodies on the ground, he approached and recognized them so he called the Desk Sergeant. Nathan Banks was on the desk and called me.” He waved his hand around at the scene. When he looked back at his three best detective’s he looked pale. “I kept it off the radio and personally called everyone I thought we’d need.” He took a deep breath before he said. “It’s Matthew and Madison Benson.”
“What?” They all said in disbelief as their boss dry scrubbed his face and nodded. No wonder he looked so pale.
Everyone in the city knew the Benson family. The father, Clayton Benson was the District Attorney for the city of Macon and his wife Elizabeth had spent 15 years as the head nurse in the ER at the Medical Center of Central Georgia until she retired a few years back. “Has anyone notified them yet?” Kris asked and Elliott shook his head. “Ok. Once we take a look around we’ll go see them.”
“Just out of curiosity why did the mayor request us?” Quinn asked the question that they were all wondering.
Elliott motioned towards the group behind them. “Mayor Stroud is very close to the Benson’s and she asked for you guys.She said she’s been watching your close rates and felt like you guys were the best for the job. Quinn, I don’t know where your partner is but you can brief him when and if he decides to show up.”
He wasn’t surprised at all that his partner couldn’t be reached. “Yes sir.”
They spoke to the Mayor and the Chief briefly before going to take a look around. Quinn went to talk to the responding officer while Jonas caught up with the Crime Scene Unit. Kris made her way over to talk to the Medical Examiner, Dr. Sophia Cross. She was kneeling beside the bodies when Kris walked up. “I’d say good morning Doc but considering.”
Dr. Cross looked up with a frown. “Morning Detective and no it’s most definitely not good.”
“What can you tell me so far?” The Homicide Detective asked as she knelt beside the doctor.
She’d been an M.E. for 8 years and had seen some of the worst cases. Many were even worse than this but this one was personal. “There’s a hint of a chemical around Matthew’s nose and mouth. Erik took a swab of that. Both were bound and gagged and both suffered Blunt Force Trauma and Gun Shot Wounds to the head.” She was quiet for a few seconds. “Kris, you guys have to find who did this.”
“We will.” She squeezed her friend’s shoulder before she stood and walked over to where Jonas was talking to the Crime Scene Tech. “What do you guys have?”
Quinn joined them after getting the responding officers statement as the tech began to fill them in. Erik James, the head CSU Tech, was thankfully in charge of the scene. “Hey guys. Jonas and I were just talking about how odd this is.” He passed Kris an evidence bag. “A revolver was left beside the bodies.”
Kris looked it over as thoroughly as she could through the plastic then passed it to Quinn. “If you’re going to shoot someone this is forensically the best way to go since it doesn’t leave shell casings behind. This looks like an old police issue.”
Jonas nodded in agreement. “That’s what I thought too and I think it’s from my dad’s time. That was the model that was issued back then.”
Erik motioned for them to follow him. “See these burns?” He pointed to different areas on the ground and they nodded. “I’m pretty sure those are from flares.I took samples so I’ll know for sure when I run them. Because of the burns and the fact that an abandoned car was called in, I think it’s safe to assume that the Benson’s probably pulled over to help what they thought was a stranded motorist.” He stepped a few feet over next to the furthest burn mark and pointed to a dark spot on the ground. “Blood here and tire tracks in the mud just a few feet over there. We’ll run tests to see whose blood but from the wound on Matthew’s head and its proximity to where he was I think it’s safe to say it’s probably his. As for the tire tracks, we’ll run them through the database.”
Erik handed her another bag. “There was also this and it was lying on the ground between the bodies.”
It was three words written on a small plain white piece of paper. It’s his fault.Of course the note couldn’t be more cryptic.
“The Doc said there was something around Matthew’s nose and mouth?” Kris asked as she watched the M.E.
Erik nodded and held up another evidence bag. “It smells like chloroform to me but of course I won’t know for certain until I run it.”
Kris looked around at the scene, although it was twenty yards from a church and a traffic light it was a pretty secluded area this time of night. It was a great place for a murder, if there was such a thing. She sighed as she watched Sophie load the bodies of the Benson children into the back of her van. They walked back over to where the Mayor and their Lieutenant stood, the Chief having left after they spoke.
“We need to go make the notification.” She said to her boss then looked to the Mayor. “Ma’am, I understand you have history with them?” She asked the woman that ran their city.
Evelyn Stroud was a favorite among the emergency services departments. She was always very supportive of every aspect and constantly pushed for newer equipment and support for every department. “I do.” Her voice cracked as she nodded and wiped her eyes. “Clayton and I went to law school together at Mercer. My mother worked for Elizabeth’s family. We grew up together and I introduced him to Elizabeth.”
Kris put her hand on the Mayor’s shoulder. “We’ll find who did this ma’am. I promise.”
She nodded and took a deep breath. “That’s why I requested the four of you, although there seems to be only three.” She shrugged it off and said. “You have the best clearance rates in Homicide. I would like to go with you when you make the notification.” Kris opened her mouth to suggest something else but the mayor said. “I promise to let you do your job. I just want to be there as support for them.”
“Ok.” Kris reluctantly agreed but it was the Mayor and she felt like she didn’t have much of a choice. “Let me talk to the guys for a minute and then we’ll go.” Mayor Stroud nodded and Kris walked a few feet away to talk to Jonas and Quinn. “Stroud wants to go with us as support, she has history with both of them. I told her it was ok.” There was no way to argue with that request. “This is the part I hate the most.”
No one liked the notification part of their job. It was heart breaking and you never knew how the person was going to react. Quinn looked at his phone and sighed. “Still no word from Jesse.” Jesse Taylor was his partner but not by choice. They had transferred to the City of Macon Police Department at the same time, a little over a year ago and Homicide had the only open spots so they had been partnered together. “He is going to end up getting fired.”
Kris wasn’t a fan of the guy regardless of her relationship with Quinn. He was far too good of a detective to be partnered with someone who seemed to care so little about his job. “He can take care of himself. We’ll go make the notification and then go check their place out. Then we’ll go talk to their friends to see if they know anything.”
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