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Writing Life

Mystery Monday

2nd week of Mystery Monday! Over the weekend, I was able to edit another chapter to have two versions of the teaser. I’m enjoying whipping this story into shape. Here it is

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As he turned off the engine, Daniel Tanner glanced around to make sure no one would spot his Crown Victoria, hidden in the alleyway. He was certain he’d picked a good spot. If not, it was raining too hard for anyone to describe a motionless car with its lights out.

Ten minutes passed, and Daniel frowned as he glanced at his watch again quenching the urge to tap his restless foot. He wished now that he had insisted they wear communication wires. Rick had argued the situation was dicey enough without a guard pointing out the tiny earpiece and microphone. Daniel hadn’t agreed but the word of a rookie was moot against his partner, a man who had spent over a decade on the force.

Still, he couldn’t shake the feeling that something was terribly wrong. In a fluid movement, he rose from the driver’s seat and glided away from the car like any other New York phantom of the alleyways.

Soundless, he sidled up alongside the apartment building. Removing the gun from his shoulder holster, he pointed the Browning .38 at the ground in front of him. “No use in shooting stray cats and tin cans,” as they jibed down at the station. He was hoping not to cause too many casualties – stray cats, tin cans, or otherwise.

Sighing out a curse, he inched toward the entrance muttering, “Damn you, Rick! What’s taking so long?”  

He didn’t like Rick but he was worried; after all, Rick was partner and to lose him on Daniel’s first assignment as a look out didn’t bode well.

Although he had already scouted the area, he peeked at the entrance again from around the alleyway corner and saw no one. He would have welcomed some security, even a sniper on the roof to ease the queasy feeling forming in his gut. The nausea was caused by nerves, but he half-wished it was the flu from being out in the cold rain all this time.

He shook off the numbing cold permeating through his drenched wet clothes and inhaled deeply as he knelt before the main door, checking over his shoulder out of habit. It was a furtive look; the perfect way to alert the bad guys if they were watching. Shoving back the hair dangling in front of his eyes, he returned his attention to the door, but more importantly, to the lock. He carefully extracted a lock pick from his pocket. Within seconds, the door swung inward and Daniel lifted his gun.

He moved past the elevator reflecting on the time it would save just to step in and hit the button to the fifth floor, and hope that he could pull the trigger faster than the bad guys would hear him coming.  Silently, he inched open the door into the emergency stairwell. He didn’t see or hear anyone. The only smell was the damp mildew odor that came with living in an apartment building like this one. All seemed clear. He ran in a crouched position into the stairwell staying close to the far wall. His gun held aloft, pointed at an angle towards the second flight of stairs, he inched upwards.

Nobody was there.

Daniel let out a breath he hadn’t known he was holding. He repeated his tumbling act several times, moving quickly up the stairs and throwing himself against the furthest wall, pointing his gun at the next level of stairs.

A bruise on his shin and a few false sightings later, he was on the fifth floor moving towards the room in the middle of the corridor. Keeping to the walls, he swiveled his head constantly to check his back. There was still no sign of security whatsoever. He was almost there. Ten steps and closing. He continued counting down.

Nine

Why was Rick still with the suspect in the room?

Eight

Had something happened?

Seven

He treaded softly on the ground.

Six.

Adrenaline raced through his system.

Five

And he took a calming breath

Four

The door flung open.

 

Backing into the shadowy corner, Daniel watched half in awe as two men walked out of the room and right past him. He marveled at his dumb luck that neither of the men suddenly whipped out a pistol and shot him on the spot.

He watched them, astonished by their lack of caution, for they hadn’t so much as glanced over their shoulder. If they had, they surely would have seen the tall, dark-haired, trench-coated man making a not-so-good wall ornament of his body behind the column to one side of the door. In the dark hallway, he could hardly see their faces and tried to pick up snippets of the men’s conversation.

“Are you sure no one suspects anything?”

 He didn’t need to think back on his briefings. From television alone, he knew the voice was Henry Wilhelm’s, the governor of New York who was making profits out of the pockets of degenerates with drug problems.

“Daniel doesn’t know a thing.” Rick’s voice echoed in the deserted hallway and Daniel felt a chill that had nothing to do with his wet clothes.

Wilhelm wasn’t supposed to know about him.

Before he could back away, down the corridor, he heard the gunshot. He watched Rick collapse into a boneless heap on the carpeted floor like a puppet whose strings had been cut. A gaping hole was at the back of his neck, where the bullet had severed the cerebral cord, instantly killing his partner. For a moment, Daniel felt relieved. Despite the betrayal, he did not wish Rick a painful death.

“I strongly discourage screwups,” remarked Henry Wilhelm, cocking his head towards the right where another man seemingly appeared out of the shadows.

The man moved towards Daniel, a gun in his hand. Wilhelm stood back.

“Knock him out, Leroy. He may be useful later.”

The hand of the giant came up towards him. White lights popped in front of his eyes and he blacked out.

 

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Daniel watched the rain drops rolling down the windshield. The drizzle had quickly become a downpour but  he couldn’t use the wipers not when the engine was turned off.  The car’s lights were out and the Crown Victoria was hidden in the alleyway where no one could spot it.

“Rick.”

He whispered instinctively, then remembered that this time they weren’t using the communication wires. Rick had argued the situation was dicey enough without a guard pointing out the tiny earpiece and microphone. Daniel shifted in his seat. He should have insisted. Not that it would have made a difference. He was a rookie on his first major assignment. Rick had been on the force for a decade.  Rick  made a decision and that was that. Daniel glanced at his watch again. Rick was ten minutes late which wasn’t very long in this weather but he couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong.

“Ah dammit,” before he changed his mind, he rushed out the door. He was drenched in an instant, the wet permeating through his clothes.  Removing the gun from his shoulder holster, he pointed the Browning .38 at the ground in front of him as he slid up alongside the apartment building. He and Rick had scouted the area earlier but he peeked at the entrance again from around the corner. He saw no one. He would have welcomed some security on the place, even a sniper on the roof, to ease the queasy feeling forming in his gut.   Kneeling in front of the main door, he checked over his shoulder. If someone was watching in the shadows, it was the perfect way to alert them, to get them to come out at him. Still nothing so he forced his fingers into his damp pants pocket pulling out the lock pick and turning his attention to the door. Within seconds, the door swung inward and Daniel lifted his gun. 

The mildew odor had his nostrils flaring, letting in the sweet smell of rotting garbage. He tasted bile at the back of his throat and his eyes cut past the grease-covered windows and rat-holes to the elevator.  If only his job were like the movies. He would step in the elevator, exit on the fifth floor and hope he could pull the trigger faster than the bad guys would hear him coming. His lips twitched as he crept past the elevator and inched open the door into the emergency stairwell.  He threw himself against the furthest wall. Crouching, he pointing his gun at the next level of stairs and ran up. By the time he got to the fifth floor, his shin was bruised and his hands were coiled too tight around his weapon. The lack of security was like a bad itch he couldn’t reach making the adrenaline race through his system. He kept looking over his shoulder even as he moved towards the room. Ten steps and closing.

Nine

Where was Rick?

Eight

Had he made the arrest?

Seven

Should have stayed in the car.

Six.

Should have called for backup.

Five

Daniel muttered a curse at his nerves forcing himself to take a deep breath when the door flung open. He backed into the corner. In the dark hallway, he couldn’t see the faces of the two men that walked out of the room and past him. Damn, he was lucky that neither of them had spotted him.

“Are you sure no one suspects anything?”

Daniel didn’t have to recall his briefings to make out that voice. From television alone, he knew it was Henry Wilhelm, the governor of New York, who was making profits from the pockets of degenerates with drug problems.

“Tanner doesn’t know a thing.” Rick’s voice echoed in the deserted hallway and Daniel felt a chill on hearing his last name that had nothing to do with his wet clothes.  What the hell was the procedure when faced with this? Before he could react, he heard a gunshot and watched as one of the men crumpled to the floor.  He hoped to God it was Wilhelm and Rick had been playing some sort of game but if Rick was on the floor-. Daniel shook his head. Either way, it was time to come out of hiding.

“Drop it.” 

He stepped out of the corner and aimed his gun at… Wilhelm. The man smiled, baring white teeth, showing no sign of fear. Daniel’s mouth went dry and he tightened his grip on the gun.  He knew he should have never left the car. He understood now, too late, why his actions would be called a rookie’s hero complex. Refusing to let Wilhelm’s smile faze him, he tried again.

“I said drop your-”

A sharp pain at the back of his head cut off his words and had him falling to his knees, his gun slipping from his fingers. He blinked hard, his vision blurring in front of him. What the hell? He struggled to his feet, touching what had to be a swelling knot at the back of his head, before he turned to face his attacker but the man, a black giant, was only waiting for him to regain his balance before lashing out again. His fist, not the butt of a gun this time, caught Daniel square in the jaw. Pain exploded on the side of his face, white lights popping in front of his eyes as he sank into unconsciousness.

 

 

 

 

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