1K Serials: Legacy Of Death, Ch. 2

LEGACY OF DEATH: 

THE DYSON’S COMET KILLER

By Richard Paolinelli

© 2019 Richard Paolinelli . All Rights Reserved. No copying or any other reproduction of this story is permitted with written permission.

 

TWO

 

One week earlier…

“Look out you damn fool,” Inspector Steve Foster shouted as the driver of the sedan, totally oblivious to the flashing lights and blaring police siren of the car he was in, nearly slammed into his side of the car.

“Relax,” Bolton said from behind the wheel of the car he and Foster were in. “He missed us by a mile.”

“Wasn’t talking to him,” Foster shot back. “I ought to give you a ticket right here.

“And I ought to arrest you for obstruction while I’m at it too,” Foster added for good measure, looking back at the offending car as it slowed to let the police car pass.

“I’ll settle for getting the guy we’re after right now,” Inspector MacKenzie Bolton said chuckling at his partner while weaving his way through the traffic-snarled streets of San Francisco in pursuit of an armed robber making his escape on a Harley Davison bike.

The two Inspectors had been working the case for weeks, trying to nail a suspect who’d been terrorizing ATM customers across the city. Unsuspecting customers, always in the late evening, would find themselves accosted at gunpoint by a man on a motorcycle just seconds after withdrawing cash.

The assailant, sporting a ponytail and dressed all in black leather and riding boots, would swiftly ride up; relieve his victims of their money and other valuables, then zoom off into the night. The crafty crook always used the heavy traffic to full advantage, easily making his escape into the night.

After the first few nights had resulted in five successful jobs, and several thousand lost in money and jewelry, with each ending with police pursuit snarled in traffic, a sting had been set up to catch the bandit. Based on a pattern spotted by the department’s psychologist, several Inspectors and plainclothes cops had laid siege to an ATM near the Embarcadero only to have the thief strike an ATM on the other side of the city.

More traps were laid by the now-chagrined police, only to have their quarry find another unguarded ATM time after time. The press started calling the suspect the Easy Rider Bandit and the brass was breathing hard down the necks of the Inspectors to get this guy and quick.

The frustration was felt department-wide and increased with each successful heist, but just when it seemed like the Easy Rider was invincible he finally made a mistake and it proved to be the only break the police needed to put an end to his run of luck.

As he was holding up an elderly woman at a machine on Market an off-duty patrolman drove by, spotted the bandit and raised the alarm as he pursued the motorcycle and its rider into the early-evening traffic.

A quick turn into a tight alley shook off the cop but when the Bandit emerged onto Van Ness he ran right into the path of Bolton and Foster.

Try as he might, the Bandit couldn’t shake off Bolton. He’d even tried his alley trick twice only to find that Bolton had guessed right and was staying close behind. In desperation, the thief had even gone the wrong-way against one-way traffic, but Bolton kept the unmarked, but modified, Ford Crown Victoria on the suspect’s tail.

Zooming through the city streets at the speeds they were reaching it was only going to be a matter of time before one of them ran into, or over, something. An ill-timed glance in the rear-view mirror at his pursuer and splash of oil from a leaky car engine that had passed hours before proved to be the bandit’s ultimate undoing.

Both wheels simultaneously lost traction and the motorcycle slammed to the pavement, sliding across the road and into a pile of garbage cans and plastic bags stacked up on the sidewalk

Bolton slammed on the brakes, skidding to a halt a few feet away. The two Inspectors leaped out of the car, with Foster reaching the man just as he was getting to his feet. Even though he had to have been injured in the crash, the man quickly picked up one of the cans, spun around and smashed it into the oncoming Foster, who crumpled to the ground.

Bolton jumped the man from behind, intending to drive the man down to the ground and cuff him. But his opponent proved to be somewhat slippery, breaking out of Bolton’s bear hug and slamming a hard, bony knee to Bolton’s groin before turning away to make a run for freedom.

Bolton, grunting in pain and trying to suck in all of the oxygen the kick had pushed out of his lungs, made a desperate grab at the only part of the thief he could reach. Latching on to the ponytail sticking out from underneath the dark-visored helmet, Bolton swung the man back around and slammed him headfirst into a nearby light post.

Shards of the visor flew in all directions as the man crumpled to the ground again, this time staying down. A shaky Foster dropped on top of the man, rolled him over and cuffed both wrists and ankles.

“Have you lost your damn mind,” Foster growled at the semi-conscious man. “You okay, Mac?”

“I’ll live,” Bolton replied as he slowly stood up and tried very hard not to rub the injured area. As he straightened up his attention was drawn to a small object lying among the pieces of the broken visor. Foster saw a strange look appear on his partner’s face.

“What?”

Bolton shook his head and reached down to pick up the object, lifting it up so Foster could get a better look at what appeared to be the upper plate of a set of dentures.

Both men looked down at the suspect, whose face was still covered by the ruined helmet and its visor, and took notice of the color of the ponytail that Bolton had grabbed.

It was gray. Very gray.

Foster, cursing under his breath, pulled the helmet off its owner’s head to reveal the weathered face of a man in his early sixties. Bolton couldn’t help but chuckle and he was hard-pressed not to laugh out loud at the expression on Foster’s face.

“We almost got our butts kicked by the Geritol Kid,” Bolton said, clapping Foster on the shoulder as several patrol cars arrived on the scene.

“Old man,” Foster asked as Bolton helped the recovering man sit up. “What are you robbing folks for? You should be home with your grandkids.”

The old robber waited until Bolton rinsed off the plate with bottled water from their car before answering.

“You try living on Social Security these days,” he said, wincing at the pain from his broken nose.

Both Foster and Bolton laughed aloud then. Foster gently lifted the man up and helped him into the back of the car. Just then the radio sprang to life with the voice of the Chief of Inspectors.

“Central to Inspector 17.”

“17,  go-ahead,” Bolton replied, after leaning into the front of the car and grabbing the mike.

“Mac, I’m at Golden Gate Park,” the Chief said tersely. “You and Foster drop whatever you’re doing and get down here now.”

Bolton shot a look at Foster before replying.

“We just collared our ATM guy,” he explained. “Can it wait?”

“Hand him off to whoever is there,” the Chief replied. “They can put him in holding until you get in to process him. I need you two here.”

“What’s up?” Bolton asked.

“A patrolman found a body in the park,” the Chief said. “It’s a bad one Mac.”

*     *     *     *     *

Next Week: Chapter 3 – The First Victim

Previous Chapters:

ONE 

*     *     *     *     *

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Like what you’ve read so far? Be sure and sign up for Richard’s newsletter, “Postcards From Infinity“, and if you’d like to become a patron you can do so right here. Any amount you choose will be appreciated and will help keep this blog, these weekly serials and Richard’s podcast, “A Scribe’s Journey” up and running. Thank you for reading and for your support.

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1K Serials: Legacy Of Death, Ch. 1

LEGACY OF DEATH: 

THE DYSON’S COMET KILLER

By Richard Paolinelli

© 2019 Richard Paolinelli . All Rights Reserved. No copying or any other reproduction of this story is permitted with written permission.

 

ONE

 

It was a typical morning in the Bay Area. The fog had rolled in on schedule just before sunset the day before, leaving the air chilly and damp.

With just an hour of darkness left before the first dawning light of a new day, only a few people were going through their Sunday morning routine. Others were sleeping in late while many were out-of-town and not due back until later in the day.

Of those precious few who had ventured outside, hardly any had taken notice of the fire engine red Mustang as it passed them by. They would not have thought twice about the convertible’s top being down, this was California after all and they’d seen stranger things here, nor would the sleeping woman in the passenger seat covered by a large overcoat, have caught their eye either.

If anything, only the wooden expression on the face of the car’s driver would have caught their attention. His eyes looked hollow, staring straight ahead out into space, never seeming to look to either side. He’d been that way for hours now, weaving his way through city streets, crisscrossing all of the area bridges at least once throughout the night as if lost, looking for something that could never again be found.

He started across the Golden Gate Bridge toward Marin County for the second time as the fog unexpectedly started to lift. As he neared the midway point of the decades-old span, he pulled over to one side and turned off the engine.

A slight breeze was blowing away the fog, ruffling the folded-up newspaper lying between the car seats. Glancing down, he saw the huge headline above the pictures of himself and the woman next to him. His whole world gone to dust in one tragic night and less than six hours later it was on display for the entire world to see. He could imagine what the talking heads on television would be saying and he was glad he wouldn’t be around to see what the next day’s papers were going to look like.

Getting out of the car, he walked around to the passenger side and looked at his traveling companion. She was a lovely woman, just barely into her thirties, with strawberry-blonde hair that lightly brushed her shoulders

He removed the old tan overcoat that covered her and tossed it into the back seat. Anyone who’d seen them pass by would assume it was being used for warmth, but it had only served to cover the gaping wound in her chest. The wound had been caused by the passage of a large-caliber bullet, a bullet fired by him with the gun she had bought for him as a present less than a year ago. He was too stricken by grief to appreciate any irony he might have normally felt about that.

He took out his wallet and tossed it on to the driver’s seat along with the keys to the car, neither noticing nor caring that the wallet fell open to reveal the badge and identification of a San Francisco City Police Inspector.

As far as he was concerned, MacKenzie Bolton had ceased being a cop the instant he’d fired that fatal bullet. He drew his gun from its holster, then leaned over and gently lifted his victim out of the car. He quickly stepped over the barrier and leaned back against it as he glanced out toward the East Bay, waiting for the first rays of the sun to peek over the Oakland Hills as gentle waves of water from the Pacific Ocean splashed against the supports below.

* * * * *

Old Roscoe had been fishing in the same spot in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge for years. He found it peaceful and surprisingly quiet no matter what time or day he came. Every once in awhile he’d actually catch a fish, but as far as he was concerned that wasn’t the point of being out here at all.

Here he could sit and enjoy an up-close view of the bridge his father had helped to build and, when the weather was right, he could enjoy one of the best panoramas in the world, watching the ships passing by and not worrying about the daily grind of life.

This past week or so had been especially nice. Up until the day before, the fog had stayed away and he was able to come to his favorite spot and watch Dyson’s Comet setting in the east just before the sunrise.

The last time the comet had passed Earth was the same year that Roscoe’s mother had delivered him to this world. It was, to him, very much like an old friend dropping by to say hello and catch up on the past.

Roscoe had been disappointed to see the fog come back since the comet was fading away and would soon be out of sight again, but he’d come out anyway to fish and to just enjoy the day.

When the wind picked up and the fog started to thin, he was surprised and happy. He was overjoyed when the fog broke to the east just enough to reveal the dim light of the comet just before the sun broke over the hills.

“Hello, old friend,” Roscoe said aloud, grinning from ear to ear.

But before he could sit back and enjoy the last few moments of the heavenly view, his attention was drawn to motion on the bridge where there shouldn’t be any motion at all.

Roscoe squinted up toward the middle of the bridge and was able to make out what looked like the figure of a man, holding some type of bundle in his arms, standing on the edge of the bridge.

Before he could shout out a warning or call for help, the figure suddenly tumbled forward and plummeted down toward the water below. Roscoe could only watch in speechless horror as the bundle he’d seen in the man’s arms separated from the man’s grasp and Roscoe realized that the bundle was, in fact, another body.

An instant before the pair struck the water, the popping sound of a gunshot reached Roscoe’s ears and the old man knew he’d never again find any peace in his favorite fishing spot again.

* * * * *

This was the first chapter of a 10-chapter weekly series. Come back next Saturday for Chapter Two.

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 Like what you’ve read so far? Be sure and sign up for Richard’s newsletter, “Postcards From Infinity“, and if you’d like to become a patron you can do so right here. Any amount you choose will be appreciated and will help keep this blog, these weekly serials and Richard’s podcast, “A Scribe’s Journey” up and running. Thank you for reading and for your support.

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1K Serials: Death On The Range

DEATH ON THE RANGE

By Richard Paolinelli
(* – All Rights Reserved. May not be copied or republished in any form without author’s written consent)

 

 

Slim Jenkins swore softly as his buckskin dun topped the ridge and saw what he’d been hoping he wouldn’t see again for a long time. Another dead cow, the sixth in the last two weeks. Even as he rode up to the carcass he knew exactly what he’d find.

The animal would be dead, drained of every drop of blood, and no sign of the wound that caused the loss save for two small holes near the head. Even more puzzling to the lean, aptly-named cowboy, there would not be a spot of the animal’s blood to be found on the ground nearby.

He’d been riding for the Slash- S-Slash brand in the Wyoming Territory for six years now, ever since the War Between the States wound down, and for other brands most of his life before the war. He’d seen his share of dead cattle, but nothing before like this.

“Curly,” Slim shouted back over his shoulder as he heard the rider behind him top the ridge, “come on down here. We’ve got another one.”

“Damn,” Curly exclaimed as he rode up. “The boss ain’t gonna like this.”

“I reckon,” Slim replied as he studied the carcass. “You know what I don’t figure? I saw this very cow alive and well not a mile from here just yesterday. So how the hell does it wind up looking dead and dried out like it’s been out here for a month less than 24 hours later? And with all the coyotes and mountain lions we got crawling around here, why ain’t none of them come down and fed on any of this meat? None of the six cows we’ve found dead have been touched.”

Curly took off his hat, revealing a mop of hair that had earned him his nickname as a young boy. The running joke was that you could tell if it was about to rain by looking at the top of Curly’s head. The more moisture in the air, the more his hair would curl up.

“It just ain’t natural,” Curly said as he looked down on the animal. “Lots of unnatural things going on around these here parts lately, too. Why, I was down at Fort Laramie last month and them soldier boys was talking about a ranch south of there they’d come on, all abandoned. All the hands, all the stock, just up and gone.”

“Indians,” Slim replied. “Or maybe they just packed up and left? This is a hard country on folks, they might have had enough.”

“That’s just it,” Curly replied. “That family has been at that ranch for generations. Besides, all their belongings, saddles and tools were still sitting there. Indians would have taken some of the stuff and burned the rest.  It was like every living thing at that ranch had been scooped up and carried away. And what about them lights right here in the valley?”

“What lights?” Slim asked. Riding the line cabin watch in the hills above the ranch, Slim rarely came in aside from a trip in for supplies and to pick up his pay every other month.

“The last week or so we’ve been seeing lights where no light should be shining,” Curly explained. “It ain’t a campfire. Ain’t no lantern neither. A couple of times we’ve ridden out toward them but they blink out before we can get to ’em. It just ain’t natural I tell you.”

“Well,” said Slim as he turned his attention back to the dead cow, Curly could carry on like a gossipy old woman once you let him get started. “People leaving a ranch and strange lights ain’t got much to do with our dead cows I reckon. I can’t figure out what’s killing them. These two holes are smaller than even a derringer bullet would leave, no arrow or knife made these either, and they damn sure didn’t do enough damage inside to kill a cow. This just don’t figure.”

Ever since Slim had hired on, cattle losses for the ranch had dropped dramatically. While the loss of six cows wouldn’t be considered a huge loss to a ranch running well over three thousand head, Curly knew Slim took it personally if even a single cow was lost on his watch. Once he figured out the how and who of it, Curly mused, Slim would no doubt be ready to read scripture to the culprit, two or four-legged. Still, Curly had to admit, it just didn’t figure.

“No, it just ain’t natural,” Curly said again. “Like that gent that came to visit the ranch. He’s been there a couple of weeks now. Some royalty from Europe, he says, and came in by way of Denver on his way to Seattle.  The womenfolk seem to cotton to him right off, but he just don’t seem human to me. All pale and cold like.”

Slim, who had been trying to tune out Curly carrying on about trivial matters, had caught the undertone in Curly’s voice when he’d mentioned the women taking a liking to the visitor.

“So what does Doris think of him,” Slim said, unable to keep a slight smirk of his face as he looked up. Curly’s face flushed red.

“Now you got no call to go disparaging my Doris that way,” Curly blustered. “She’s jest being polite like the good girl she is. And that don’t change the fact that there’s something not right about him either.”

Slim chuckled as he stood up and stepped away from the carcass. Normally, he’d butcher the cow so the meat would not be wasted. But, like the coyotes and the mountain lions, he was strangely reluctant to touch the remains. As if there was something unclean about it.

With an irritated shake of his head, he dismissed the thought. Keep it up, he thought to himself, and you’re going to end up sounding like Curly. Slim glanced to the west; the sun was just starting to sink below the horizon.

“Well,” he said as he turned toward his horse, “not much more we can do out here. It’ll be dark long before I can get back to the cabin. Might as well head in to the ranch and stock up, let the boss know what’s going on out here. He may want to start moving the stock in closer to the ranch house until we figure this out.

“Besides,” Slim continued as he pulled himself up into the saddle, “it’ll give me a chance to see this feller that’s got you all riled up. Say, what’s this European prince’s name anyway?”

“He ain’t no prince,” Curly retorted as he swung his horse around to follow Slim back to the ranch. “He’s a count. Count Dracula of Transylvania, wherever the hell that is.”

*     *     *     *

If you liked this short western story check out my full-length western novel, The Last Lonely Trail, co-written with acclaimed western author Jim Christina. Available in print and on Kindle.

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Hitting The Reset Button

Not too long ago I decided to open up a Patreon account and try to do some crowd-funding through it. Then YouTube zapped Steven Crowder – because some internet dolt who fancies himself a journalist got his feelz hurt. This was followed with Patreon starting to play games with my account.

So I deleted it and decided to wait until I had returned from vacation to rethink my approach. To the best of my knowledge, WordPress and PayPal, haven’t been playing these games with me. So, we’ll try this instead.

I’ll be posting here more regularly. I’ll also be running what I call the “1K Weekly Serials” – think the old serials that ran in the movie theaters back in the days before every house had a TV.

Each week – every Saturday morning – the next chapter of the story will be posted. It will be no less – and often more – than 1,000 words in length. To give you a taste of things to come, this Sat., Aug. 3rd, I will run a 1,300-word short story called “Death On The Range” a nice little western/sci-fi/horror appetizer for your consumption.

On Aug. 10th, the first chapter of “Legacy of Death” will post. Once all of the chapters (10-12) have posted, then comes “The Invited”. Once it is done, a new story will begin. One chapter, 1,000 words or more, every Saturday. This in addition to any posts commenting on news and issues, updates on pending releases, etc.

And what will it cost? Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. It’s free to read.

Now, if you decide there is value here, I do have a PayPal.Me account and you can send whatever amount you want. It can be a one-time payment, or you can set it up for X amount per month. That amount is completely up to you. And even if you chose not to make a payment, that’s fine too.

Here’s the link to my PayPal.Me account.

If you’d like to be added to my e-mail list, just drop me a line here: Richard’s E-mail List with “Add me to the list” in the subject line and you are all set.

Later down the line I’ll be releasing some “swag” – pins, buttons, etc. – that you can purchase through my PayPayMe account too. Stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, enjoy the posts and the stories.