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Chapter 28 – Season of Darkness

Within hours, the forest was besieged by officers and choppers flying above. The preparation resembled that of an army who were entering a battlefield. Police helicopters with scanners, hoping to spot something amongst the thick green covering of the forest. Their operation was to be swift and deadly, the police department did not anticipate this manhunt to last longer than 24 hours, which was hope rather than an informed estimation. The search was for one man and two hostages, and it was believed from where Reginald Cunningham’s and Emily Cunningham’s vehicles were found that he had to have taken them into the forest. Whether they were still alive, was a question lurking in the back of everyone’s mind but ‘Michael Martyn’ was already dubbed a dangerous psychopath who had murdered Hugh Charles, Jennifer Charles and Ray Del Toro. That was all surpassed by the brutal torturous execution of ‘Kevin Cunningham’. The ‘Federal Bureau of Investigation’ had already sent its officers to lead the manhunt given the seriousness of the situation and the inexperience of the small town sheriff department. As before, the FBI involvement in the search was unwelcomed but accepted. Ethel had gone with Amy to see Rebecca, knowing that her son or sons were the subject of a major manhunt and she had left everything in the hands of the Greater Power. Her only family now was Rebecca who will need her assistance for the rest of her life.

Kay started her car as the evening broke through, she turned her car round and suddenly braked as a car pulled out in front of her. ‘Fuck’, Kay felt her mind wasn’t even there. She didn’t even see it. Her mind was still in the motel room reading the words of that self-styled saviour. Kay noticed an object under the seat, it had slid out when she braked hard. It was hard for her to see what it was, Kay leaned over to the passenger side, touching the object as though it would explode in her car. She had thought of that many times, Vincent planting something in her car to ensure this was her last assignment. It did explode but not in her car, it exploded in her mind! It was a gun, sticky and stained. She picked it up and held it, the first thought that came into her mind was that someone planted it on purpose. Was someone trying to implicate her in a crime? Given the history of this place and the lack of accountability of the officers in this town, implicating her and getting rid of her would be far too easy. Then she remembered, like someone had whispered in her ear reminding her of what she forgot. The night, which began this season of darkness, the night of the abyss, the forest and the blood. A brutal reminder that what is happening today and what happened yesterday all began on that night. What happened to the murder weapon? No-one knew, no-one had any idea! It disappeared, and that was the one thing that saved Michael.

The night had come around again, Emily sat watching her captor as Reginald seemed to be drifting in and out of consciousness. He sat not far from her, occasionally looking up and then his eyes would close. They had spent the entire day walking through this unforgiving forest, without even a word as to their destination or ultimate end. Emily had scanned her past life during the hours that passed as though she was reading a book about herself, and about Gabriel. He barely slept and ate even less, kept his eyes focused on Reginald Cunningham in the manner in which a predator keeps his prey in sight. Yet this journey was not about an act of vengeance or some misguided search for salvation, it was about annihilation. He looked at her as she was in deep thought, ‘The night is falling and we do not have long left’. He spoke once again in a strong Texan accent, like he had read her mind and was answering some of her questions. Maybe he even knew that she was looking for something that would save them, anything that might have happened years ago that might turn them away from this doomed journey. ‘Before you do whatever you are about to do, don’t you want to meet your sister. She isn’t well’?

‘The only people I need to be with are right here’. He looked across at Reginald and then back at Emily, ‘I don’t need to see anyone else before the night is over’.

‘We been hearing those helicopters all day, the police are here and none of us will survive’. ‘Survive’? He stood up, as he walked around the small fire he had made. ‘I survived before, when those dogs came after me, hunting me like I was an animal. Let’em come after me again, they can’t stop what I bring with me now’.

‘Let it go, I love you and I lost you. I don’t want to lose you again’. He knelt down close to her, and his eyes were like steel. There was a lifeless colour in them, where everything seemed to be distant but deep. ’Em, what I am and what we once were, is not the same. You never lost me because I was always here but you gave up on me’. His words had become whispers, sharp whispers that pierced this cold night. He touched Emily’s face gently and smoothly using the back of his fingers. ‘I gave you something, and that will never be lost. Whatever we have can only live in the state in which it remains. But I have no state. Not anymore, not anymore’.

Kay drove up to the library, where Hans was waiting for her outside. She had put Michael’s gun back, intending to dispose of it later. He had killed Hugh, whether it was murder or self-defence didn’t matter anymore. Michael was already being hunted for many more crimes and there may be more to come. Hans sat in the passenger side, ‘Miss Winters, the Feds have taken over the operation. They are going to try to bring Martyn in, Reginald Cunningham too’. ‘Reginald’? Hans looked at Kay, he spoke in a victorious tone, one that was also solemn. ‘Six men have been arrested today, all of them were involved in the killings committed by officers seventeen years ago. Unlawful killings’. Kay looked in dis-belief, not quite understanding what Hans was telling her. None of this was about what happened seventeen years ago, not directly anyway so why the arrests? ‘I ….. I don’t get it’.

‘The case has been re-opened, this is partly the reason why the Feds took over the operation. This police department is going down’.

‘How about Vincent’? ‘He’s fled. No-one knows where he is, he’s a fugitive now’. Kay smiled for a moment before she once again attempted to piece together what had happened. Then something startled her, much like the car outside the motel or that sticky blood stained weapon had done thirty minutes ago. ‘Mr Mansell, you never got rid of that evidence, did you’?

‘No. I couldn’t. I wanted to many times but Ray trusted me to keep it safe’. ‘So what made you hand it in’? Han stared into the dark night for a long moment, ‘That night Miss Winters, when you lashed out at me. That wasn’t you, but it was me. A part of me stood in my house and woke me up’.

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