I have decided not to use numbers for my chapter headings. This is my fifth chapter. If you haven't read the prelude or the previous chapters scroll down and real them first. Please let me know what you think.
SYNOPSIS: Jason Franco is an aspiring novelist stuck in a dead end job working for a newspaper in a small town where nothing exciting happens until someone rapes and murders a young woman only eighteen years old. All evidence points to the woman's boyfriend who confesses to the crime. Jason is assigned to write a follow-up story for the paper and soon suspects that the local police are covering up for one of their own. Jason enlists the help from a high school classmate who works at the state crime and the two soon fall in love. Jason and his girlfriend, Tina, follow the leads and Jason finds himself a target for the rapist turned murderer. An attempt on Jason's life puts him in the hospital as the alleged rapist commits suicide. An unexpected turn of events put Jason back in the cross hairs of a different killer.
Chief Kelly Tatum and Deputy Clint Gosling, Rosebud, Montana, Thirteen Years Earlier
Chief Kelly Tatum saw Naomi walk in and came out of his office. “Come into my office, officer Marini. You said that this might be a child abuse case, so I decided to stay and view the CDs. You were right. It’s pretty bad.” In his office, Chief Kelly introduced Naomi to his deputy, Clint Gosling. He pulled up a chair for Naomi and said, “It may be a long night, coffee?” He didn't wait for her answer. He poured a cup of coffee from a pot on his desk, handed it to Naomi and pointed to the cream and sugar.
Naomi thanked him. “Thanks. Your hand is shaking. Are you alright?”
“Clint and I’ve been looking at these CDs for the last couple of hours. It’s all porn. All kinds: pedophilia, torture, bondage, you name it. It’s bad. Clint and I recognize some of the girls in the videos. They’re locals, mostly underage. I think you have uncovered an underground porno production and distribution center. They specialize in pedophilia but they do all types of porn.”
Clint’s voice cracked when he spoke. “I recognized one of the girls. She’s my daughter’s age – twelve. She was in my daughter’s Sunday school class. Her parents will be devastated when they find out.”
“Assuming they don't know. They could be pedophiles too. We’ll start over for you. Clint, take some notes this time. Jot down any names if you recognize anyone. Start processing these CDs as evidence.”
The three officers sat in silence for the next few hours as they viewed the pornographic CDs. When they finished, it was nearly midnight.
Chief Kelly stood up and stretched his legs. “I’ve already alerted the FBI porno unit in Denver. They’re on their way but won’t arrive until tomorrow afternoon.”
Naomi frowned. “I don’t think we can we can wait that long. My brother’s life may be in danger.”
Kelly and Clint both said, “What?”
Naomi explained how John was her half-brother and how she found Emma, her biological mother.
After listening to Naomi, Kelly agreed. “You’re right, of course. We can’t wait. Your brother is at risk. I’ll call in some back up. There are just the two perps, so I think we can handle it. We’ll raid them first thing in the morning. Do they have any weapons?”
“I saw a shotgun near the door.”
Kelly outlined a plan to surround the house while Clint made a few phone calls to line up backup. They agreed to meet at the police station at six in the morning and to make the arrests at nine.
Naomi’s cell phone rang. There was a text from John with several photos attached. She showed them to the other officers. Most of them were taken after midnight. Naomi figured that John waited for his parents to go to bed. Most of the pictures showed a well equipped photo studio and lab. There were two or three beds surrounded by lights. The most disturbing pictures were of a room that looked like a torture chamber in a dungeon. There were chains, whips and ropes everywhere. In a rack on the wall were a variety of whips and other devices. Naomi could hardly look at the photographs. She kept picturing John being tied up and burned with cigarettes.
Several pictures were of computers. In one picture, Naomi saw two odd looking boxes with a large handle on each. “What are those?” she asked Clint while pointing.
Clint looked at the photos and said, “Those are large magnets. They use ‘em to erase everything on the hard drives. They could destroy the evidence very quickly.”
Naomi texted John to hide the magnets.
Clint interrupted her. “Ask him if they have any other weapons.”
Naomi texted the question to John. John texted back right away. We have a shotgun and Sage has a pistol.
Naomi texted John and told him to go to bed. She tried to nap in one of the holding cells, but couldn’t. Just before dawn, the backup officers started to arrive. Naomi fortified herself with coffee and some doughnuts someone brought. Clint offered her a shotgun, but she said she was a better shot with a pistol. Suddenly, her cellphone rang.
“It’s John!” she alerted everyone.
Everyone gathered around Naomi as she answered the call. She put it on speakerphone.
John’s voice was weak and barely above a whisper. “Help me. They hurt me. Get me outta here.”
Naomi was frantic. “John, where are you?”
“In my room.”
“Get out of there. Get out of the house. Go to our meeting place. I’m on my way.”
Naomi looked at Kelly. “John is in trouble. He sounded scared. He might be hurt. I’ve to go pick him up.”
“Naomi, not all the backup troops are here yet. Can we wait a few minutes?”
“No. He’s in danger. I’ve to go get him.”
“You’re right. Go! We’ll be ten minutes behind you with whoever is here. Go. Go. Get him to safety. No sirens. We don’t want to alert them. Just rescue the boy, don’t enter the property. Wait for backup.”
Naomi bolted out of the door to her car. Twenty minutes later, she stopped on the bridge above the dry stream bed. She rolled down the window and call for John. He was under the bridge and had trouble climbing up onto the road. He was holding his left arm with his right hand. Naomi opened the passenger side door for John to get in.
Naomi looked at his face. “What happened? Your face is all bruised.”
John kept his head down. He was crying. “They beat me up.’
“Who beat you?”
“Mom and Sage. They checked the internet and found out that you’re a cop. They thought I called you. First they smacked me around and then dad started breaking my fingers.”
“Let me see.”
John held out his left hand. The fingers were bent and broken. “They hurt.”
“It’s okay. It’ll be over soon. More police are on the way, and they’ll arrest your parents. Hang on for a little bit, and we’ll get you to a doctor.
“They were going to break my arm too, but mom checked my cellphone and saw that I didn’t call you.”
“Okay, honey. You’ll be okay.”
“I hid the magnets like you told me.”
By now, Naomi was mad. She was also frightened. She’d never fired her weapon in the field. She couldn’t stop her legs from shaking. “I want you to get into the back seat and lay down. No matter what you hear, don’t sit up or look out. An ambulance will be here to get you to a hospital. Do you understand?”
“Yes, but what are you going to do?”
“I can’t wait. I’m going to arrest your parents. If I wait, they’ll destroy the evidence.”
“Naomi, … please kill ‘em for me.”
Naomi didn’t answer. She helped John get in the backseat and covered him with her jacket. She grabbed her service revolver and badge from the glove compartment. She opened the trunk and put on her body armor. Then she called Chief Kelly. “I got the boy. He’s safe in my car, but he needs medical attention. Please call for an ambulance.”
Chief Kelly answered. “Roger. Ambulance is on the way. Don’t do anything stupid. Wait for us. I say again, wait for backup.”
Kelly's warning was wasted; Naomi dropped the handset before she heard Kelly’s transmission. She ran down the long driveway to the front gate. The gate was locked. Naomi saw the security camera move to focus on her face. “What’d you do to John? He’s your son for God’s sake.” There was no answer. Naomi climbed over the fence. She saw Emma ran out of the house toward her.
“Where’s my son?” shouted Emma. “If you have him, that’s kidnapping. We know you’re a cop.”
“He’s safe from you two. I’m going to arrest you both. Where’s Sage?”
“I know my rights. You can’t come on my property without a warrant. You need a warrant to arrest us. Get off my property. Where's my son? Where’s John?” Emma was becoming hysterical.
Naomi removed a pair of hand cuffs from her utility belt and started toward Emma. As she walked, she drew her weapon with the other hand.
Emma picked up a rock and threw it at Naomi, but it missed hitting her. “Get out! You can’t arrest us!” Emma picked up another rock and rushed at Naomi.
Naomi pointed her weapon at Emma and took up a good shooting stance, holding the pistol with two hands. “Stop! You’re under arrest.”
Emma didn't stop, and instead raised her hand to throw the rock. Naomi fired one shot center mass. The bullet caught Emma in the chest and knocked backwards. She was dead before she hit the ground.
Sage heard the gun shot and ran out of the house shouting. “What happened? What have you done?” As he approached, he saw Emma on the ground, her blood bleeding out onto the grass. “You killed her!”
Naomi aimed her weapon at Sage. “Freeze! You’re under arrest!”
“I will like hell. I’ll kill you.” Sage turned and started to run back toward the house.
Naomi took aim and fired one round center mass. The bullet struck Sage in the back and through his heart, killing him instantly.