By Noah West
Edited by R. Schroffel
Covers & Illustrations by Mar Ballesteros
Final-Copyright 2016 Noah West
All references to real locations or celebrities are intended humorously (or, possibly, for homage). This is a work of fiction, and any similarities to other bodies of work are coincidental or referential. All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced in any form without written permission of the publisher or author.
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Things that happened last time in the first SOUR CHERUB:
“So you two are going to steal Walt D.‘s skull for me,” Adam said to Tristan and Sebastian. Adam had been misleading them into thinking that he was the leader of the Liberty and Muskets, out for revenge, since they had once stolen all the skulls from their secret club’s skull collection in the past.
“We don’t steal skulls from the famous, Native Americans, witches, gypsies, children, circus acts or the plagued,” Sebastian explained to Adam.
Later, Sebastian was talking to his sister, famous actress, Jade Diamond. “Both Tristan and my bank accounts were depleted of all our money. We were put in a blackmail situation and could only get our savings back if we stole something.”
“Jade Diamond, the actress,” Adam said as he opened the van’s door in the parking lot of the Forest Lawn Cemetery; he then reached out his hand to Jade for a shake. Sebastian shoved him back in the van.
“What happened to you? You haven’t been in anything in a couple years since that TV interview where you were talking to the person sitting next to you but you were the only guest,” Adam said to Jade. She wasn’t sure how to respond.
Then, when things went wrong during the heist at Forest Lawn Cemetery, Sebastian and Tristan had to escape through the Great Mausoleum. When they made it to the locked chapel room called the Holy Terrace, Tristan aimed his flashlight at Michael Jackson’s casket, which was in a glass case.
“Is that sacrilegious?” Tristan asked, since above the casket was a gigantic Last Supper painting depicting Jackson seated at the table where Jesus should be. The disciples had been replaced by Elvis, Charlie Chaplin and others.
Eventually, the real Peter Caspian of the Liberty and Muskets would figure out who the thieves were after Tristan and Sebastian framed them for the Forest Lawn job. “He steals our skulls, he frames us, and then makes us hire a fumigator…” Peter had walked over to the stove in Sebastian’s boat and turned the gas on, but not the flame.
In the end, with our leads not able to get their money back from Adam, they ended up in the parking garage of the Walt D. theme park. Sebastian looked down at Adam’s red sports car. “I know how Adam is going to pay us back.”
“Does it freak you out that he’s just standing there?” Sebastian commented to Tristan as they sat on the back of an ambulance next to the large castle in the Walt D. theme park. Sebastian was talking about Peter Caspian, who was standing a few yards off in the shadows looking at them.
“Speaking of current circumstances, I’m fully on board for learning how to use a firearm now.” Tristan, the shaggy-haired Native American, felt the new sling around his shoulder where he’d been recently shot and tried not to move so his shoulder wouldn’t ache.
“I didn’t get specific details from him, but I think he’ll let us live till he recovers the skulls we re-buried in their graves.” Sebastian, who had long red hair in a ponytail and a goatee, tested his bandaged leg, where he’d also been shot. By dangling it back and forth as he sat on the edge of the ambulance.
Tristan and Sebastian turned their heads to see Jade rolling over to them in a wheelchair, coming from the front of the ambulance. She also had long red hair with white streaks down her bangs. She had her left leg propped up in a cast from breaking it when she was trying to avoid being shot.
“I’m looking at two, three months like this.” Jade tried to pop a wheelie but failed. “You guys owe me medical expenses and a hotel room. Well, I’ll just bill you,” Jade was saying when she looked over at the scary silhouette of Peter Caspian standing in the distance with his two Liberty and Muskets alumni members, Rebecca and Saul.
“We’re going to need to heal quick,” Sebastian said, worried.
Staring back at the injured three, Peter gave his hand a quick scratch while he talked. “Good thing it wasn’t cross-dressing night in the tunnels,” Peter said.
“Got a text from the EMT.” Saul, who is Asian and in his mid-twenties stood in a suit, took his phone out of his pocket and read it. “He said they’re taken care of.”
Peter gave a pleased smile. “I could use your two’s help in the recovery,” he said to Saul and Rebecca. Rebecca, also in her mid-twenties, was beautiful, with short blonde hair. She was wearing a tight-fitting suit.
“I’m engaged, so I personally would like to stop being contacted to do things like this,” Saul said, shaking his head to stay awake.
“Can you get me a car?” Rebecca asked. “Actually, if you could get me out of a DUI situation, that would be better.”
Peter let the breeze of the empty park blow over him. “I think in the end we’ll get back more than what was stolen from us.”
After a silent pause, Saul, about to fall asleep, spoke. “Can we go now?”
1 day later.
012:00:00 Hours, Phoenix, Arizona
“This is a flea market,” Sebastian said, pushing Jade in a wheelchair in a dumpier side of downtown. He had a little bit of a limp as he walked, and it was starting to annoy him that he wasn’t at full functionality.
“This is not the level of immorality we’re looking for,” Tristan said, seeing a table for escort information and a mature woman in a skimpy outfit who brushed her hair at him. “Maybe we could come back this way after.” He took one last look at her as the three made their way through the crowd and assorted tables set up with merchandise.
Jade looked down at her phone, which had an email open with directions. “We need to go past this flea market and through a gate,” Jade read. Sebastian, looking ahead, could see a tall wooden fence with a “no trespassing” sign on it. There were decrepit brick buildings behind it, with broken windows.
Tristan, passing an older woman reading tarot cards, tried not to make contact with her, since she was mumbling to herself.
Making it to the fence, the three looked around to see that nobody was paying any attention to them.
Jade, bundled up in a hoodie and jeans, pushed open the unlocked gate to get a view of the alleyway. Trash was piled up against the building, with graffiti and broken bottles. Sebastian, a little nervous about the run-down area, gripped the gun in the holster under his black tank top.
Tristan quickly shut the heavy gate behind him, but this view wasn’t much better. The three headed around the corner where they saw that the side of the building had a giant fiberglass Saturn coming out of it. The logo read Orion Records. Jade motioned Sebastian to roll her wheelchair over to a glass window with posters for bands, some records, and a deteriorating green animatronic alien wearing headphones and holding a guitar.
Jade pressed the red button under the glass, which had a speaker next to it. A garbled guitar riff played and the animatronic alien’s eyes lit up a green color. It slowly moved its hands back and forth to mimic strumming.
“This Tuesday, blow-out sale on cassettes,” an upbeat male voice said, and the alien’s mouth tried to lip sync, but was too stiff from rust to open all the way.
“Oh good,” Tristan replied.
“Get your tickets for The Cranberries ! in concert,” the animatronic alien continued as a Cranberries song played in the background: “In your head, Zombie, Zombie…”
“Jade, what are we doing?” Sebastian asked her. Just then the guitar riff turned to static and a male voice replied with, “Code?”
After the three were finished being startled, Jade looked down at her phone to read off a line of numbers and random letters.
“Accepted,” the voice said, and a side door that had been hidden by a painted alien flying saucer opened.
A muscular man wearing a suit and holding an assault rifle opened the door. He waved them in and shut the door.
The guard, wearing sunglasses, walked over to the elevator doors, which was the only other thing in this small room, and pressed the elevator button for down and motioned them to get into. In stark contrast to the run-down exterior, it had gold-plated walls and bright lights.
Sebastian reached under his shirt again so he could get a grip on his gun in case he needed it.
Once in the elevator, which was large enough to hold a car, they silently took in how much classier it was in here compared to the ruins outside.
“Thank you for visiting the Black Sun,” a female voice said as the elevator slowly descended. “Snipers are posted around the room for threats. If you are undercover law enforcement, we suggest you return to the surface as you may not leave alive.”
“What did you buy from here?” Sebastian asked Jade, concerned with the message.
“I told you—rare antiques,” Jade replied. Sebastian didn’t believe her.
Sebastian fingered for his gun as the doors opened, not knowing what would await them.
“Have a good time,” the female voice said and the three were overwhelmed by a gymnasium-sized room filled to the brim with booths stacked with everything from illegal guns and narcotics to stolen goods.
“There are way too many people here,” Sebastian said as he holstered his gun. He looked at the shady groups of people walking around or standing at booths. At one was a group of terrorist-looking men wearing headgear and robes strapped with bullet rounds and carrying a vial of something labeled radioactive.
Sebastian pushed Jade’s chair forward and they headed down the aisles.
“We should probably stop by there,” Tristan said as they passed a forgery booth. “There’s a special on an outlaw family package.”
“Mmm,” Sebastian grunted, intrigued.
“Then we need to get me my very first firearm.” Tristan pointed to a booth selling guns.
“Let’s get some money first,” Sebastian said to Tristan, and found a booth selling car parts.
“I’ll go find my friend while you do that,” Jade said, taking control of the wheelchair.
“We’re not going to be here too long,” Sebastian replied, concerned for her safety.
“Don’t worry,” Jade said showing him her mace can which was connected to her keychain.
A woman walked by with machine guns in both hands; it didn’t make him feel any better.
“Me worry?” Sebastian responded as he walked with Tristan over to the auto parts booth. A chubby guy in coveralls was lifting weights while he watched an older sitcom on TV. He got in one big pump before he looked at Tristan and Sebastian.
“What?” the man asked, with a slight Australian accent.
“Was not expecting the accent,” Tristan said.
“Do you buy…” Sebastian leaned in. “Hot cars?”
The man eyed Sebastian like he was a child. “Where is it?” The auto parts dealer lifted a weight again in a series of thrusts.
“Parking garage,” Sebastian said, and Tristan handed the man his phone, which had the photo app open with pictures of a red sports car owned by Adam.
“Fine.” The man barely looked at the photos and handed the phone back to Tristan quickly. “Let me get my guys.” He walked away, leaving them there.
“If it isn’t the Sour Cherub boys,” Tristan and Sebastian heard a female voice say. They turned to see a Latino woman, hair in one large ponytail, wearing tight jeans and a halter top.
“Harper,” Tristan and Sebastian said at the same time, not pleased with her presence.
“Of course you would be here,” Sebastian said mockingly.
“Speaking of you two, I just happened to notice someone familiar at the recent Forest Lawn break-in.” Harper held up her phone and displayed a photo of Sebastian in a suit standing next to Walt’s grave while a security guard was talking to Caleb.
“I’m not a suspect, right?” Sebastian took the phone, looking at it to read the article.
“No. Last I heard, the Caleb guy was seen at the Texas border.” Harper took the phone back. “But I couldn’t believe you two would have any part in it… unless you two have decided to lose your thief code and go for the bigger prizes,” Harper said, putting her phone back in her pocket.
“Actually, you don’t have to worry about competition since we’re retiring,” Tristan said.
“Oh,” Harper replied, surprised. “So that Forest Lawn job must have paid off?” Harper asked, giving them a wink.
“The opposite,” Sebastian said.
“Hey, we’re good to go.” The Australian auto dealer came back over. Tristan glanced over at the TV, since he thought it was the dad character yelling at his kids.
“I just want to thank you for staying out of the Florida cemeteries,” Harper said quickly.
“They had a homeless problem anyway,” Sebastian said.
“One tried to keep convincing me he was a ghost, and could only pass on if we gave him money,” Tristan complained.
Jade made her way over to a booth full of occult items: colorful crystals in a display case, creepy-looking antiques. Such as dolls, and what appeared to be supplies to make potions. A sign sat on the desk, reading, “Medium as seen on TV, once.” These things gave Jade a sick feeling, but she knocked on the glass case to get the attention of the clean-cut, silk-shirt-wearing man at a computer.
“Jeremy.” Jade greeted the man gleefully. He had whimsical waved hair and black-rimmed hipster glasses.
“You made it!” Jeremy hopped off his chair and went over to give Jade a hug. Sort of a limp hug, since Jeremy didn’t want to touch her because of his psychic ability. “I got your goods…” Jeremy slapped a bag of peyote onto the table.
“No, no. No, more of that.” Jade pushed it back to Jeremy slowly. Jade pulled it back a little bit, thinking about it, but then pushed it back.
"Okay, okay." Jeremy tossed it into a drawer. “Iodine 3% is better anyway.”
“Would you be able to take a look at this?” Jade pulled out a photograph of the mouse club group that she had found framed in Walt D. Park. “I believe the spirit of this person was trying to contact me.” Jade pointed to the little red-headed girl in the corner of the group next to the others wearing mouse-ear hats.
Jeremy moved the photo closer to look at it. He leaned over since he didn’t want to touch it. Then he took out some rubber gloves.
“You’re just a little magnet for these things, aren’t you?” Jeremy said, looking at the different faces of the children.
Inside a parking garage located across the street from the flea market, Tristan and Sebastian were on the highest level, standing on their tow truck’s ramp, taking the chains off Adam’s red sports car.
“That’s probably the guy,” Tristan said, seeing a tow truck with three men with long blond hair wearing coveralls driving towards them. They parked parallel to the truck and a tall man with blond dreadlocks stepped out. He was wearing sunglasses.
“Toby,” the man said in an Australian accent. He shook Sebastian and Tristan’s hands quickly. “A 1985 Ferrari 288.” He looked impressed as he stepped up onto the ramp and admired it.
“We don’t have the keys, but I got it hot wired,” Tristan said, feeling proud of his skills.
“Hood pop, please,” Toby requested, and Tristan flipped the switch so the hood could open. Sebastian looked at the two other Australians in the car and couldn’t tell if they were armed or not. Toby glanced at the engine.
“Okay, looking good, guys.” Toby sat down in the front seat to start it. Sebastian sat in the passenger seat, which he noticed made Toby anxious and sweaty.
The engine didn’t start, so Toby looked at the hot-wire job Tristan had done and fixed the wires.
“It’s been a while since we’ve done actual towing,” Tristan said, embarrassed. “I did get the door open, though.”
With the engine purring, Toby looked at Sebastian and said, “You can close the lid,”
Sebastian motioned for Tristan to close it. As soon as he did, the two Australians in their tow truck began to fire their guns at Tristan.
Before Sebastian could react, Toby slammed Sebastian’s head against the dashboard and reversed the car off the ramp.
Luckily, Tristan was able to leap off the ramp and duck as the bullets pinged against their truck.
Sebastian, shaking off the pain from the blow to the head, reached for his gun under his tank top. Toby was quicker, spinning the car and making Sebastian almost fall out, but he was able to grab on to the seatbelt, his legs hanging out the door. Sebastian bent them so they didn’t hit a parked car.
The Australians in the truck began to fire rounds at Sebastian. Sebastian let go of the seatbelt as the truck circled the corner, and he had to jump to hide behind a van.
Laying flat against the ground, he could see Adam’s car and the Australians in the tow truck speed down the ramp to the lower levels.
Tristan hurried over and Sebastian stood up.
“I’m putting ‘me getting a firearm’ as my number one priority,” Tristan said, checking to see if Sebastian was okay.
Sebastian cocked his gun. “Make sure our truck is okay,” Sebastian said, and took off running with a slight limp. He hurried down the stairs. He could see between the slits in the wall that Adam’s sports car and the Australian tow truck were getting closer to the first floor. Someone backing their car out almost hit them and honked loudly.
Running to the bottom of the parking garage and out onto the street, Sebastian made it just in time to see the Australians drive off with their red sports car down the road.
Sebastian noticed the flea market across the street. “Well, I know where your headquarters are,” he said to himself. Sebastian waited till a taxi drove by, then crossed the street. The taxi honked at him for no reason.
Once across the street, Sebastian pushed through the crowds. A man coughed loudly as Sebastian got up to the fence. The tarot card lady held up a card that read “Death” and then shuffled her cards.
“Come on.” Sebastian flung the gate open and hurried over to the Orion Records building without shutting the fence behind him. When he got up to the animatronic alien with the guitar, he got frustrated hearing the guitar riff.
“Sale on cassettes—”
Going to the source, he ran over to the double doors that were painted over with the spaceship, and gave two loud, pounding knocks.
There was no reply, so Sebastian pounded again. “Hey, I need to get back in!” Sebastian shouted, and backed up when the doors opened.
“This isn’t how we do it here,” the guard said as Sebastian brushed past him and repeatedly pressed the “down” button on the elevator.
“Hey!” the guard shouted at him. “I’m supposed to do that.”
Once the elevator descended and doors opened, Sebastian took off running through the aisles.
When he arrived where the auto parts booth should be, there was only an empty table.
Sebastian flung the table over and two guards with machine guns began to hurry over.
“You’re not the first they’ve conned,” Harper said, and Sebastian noticed that she had wandered over.
“Do you know when they’ll come back?” Sebastian asked, still fuming. He kept looking around in case he spotted one of them.
“It’s cool,” Harper said to the guards. They slowed to a walk and Harper gave them a thumbs-up to signify that everything was fine.
“Buddy, be respectful!” one of the guards yelled at Sebastian before they walked away.
“The Australians usually clear out for a few months when they get a hold of an expensive car… so you must have had a good one,” Harper said, trying not to laugh.
“You could have told me,” Sebastian said, giving a kick to the fallen table which was hard enough to crack the wood.
“To be fair, I didn’t know what you were doing,” Harper said.
Sebastian, completely frustrated walked away, leaving Harper to be alone. Harper began to feel bad as she watched him sulk.
Trying to shake it off, she decided it was not so much that it had happened to Sebastian, but what if it had happened to her? She walked into her booth, full of human skulls in display cases and with animal bones mounted in full skeletal poses.
She slumped down in her chair in front of her laptop, which was opened on her desk, and then looked at the people passing by. Some stopped to look at her collection for sale. Her eyes drifted towards a book under her desk that had “Client list” marked on it.
Sebastian, almost dazed by what he was going to do next, saw Jade at the medium booth.
Jeremy, touching Jade’s photograph, began to astral-see who the people in the photo were: one child was now a singer performing live. One was an actor rehearsing a script in his mansion, and another one was a dude taking a shower, which wasn’t the first thing to break Jeremy out of his concentration; instead, it was the mirror on the wall hung in the showering man’s bathroom.
Jeremy, shook his head to get the image of the guy showering out of it. “I don’t know who contacted you, but all the people in this photo are still alive.” Jeremy handed it back to Jade.
“How could not even one of them be dead? I think this photo was taken at least twenty-five to thirty years ago,” Jade asked. She was starting to wonder if Jeremy actually had some special psychic skills.
“I’ve run into many Marilyn Monroe ghosts. They always get the details wrong, like the mole placement. Sometimes ghosts are screwing with you. I personally never trust them.”
“We need to talk,” Sebastian said to Jade.
“Sure,” Jade said, feeling confused, but she put the photo back into her purse. “Thank you.” Jade gave Jeremy a hug.
“Just forget about it,” Jeremy said to Jade, watching as Sebastian escorted Jade aside to talk.
“We just got conned,” Sebastian said to Jade.
“Again?” Jade asked. “Your ratio of thievery to being conned is unbelievable.”
“Hey!” Harper hurried over and tried to get Sebastian’s attention. “Oh, you’re that actress… Jade Diamond,” Harper said, taking a breath.
“Yeah,” Jade replied, confused by this lady just interrupting them.
“My sister,” Sebastian added.
“Huh. Okay, I do a solo thing, and that’s been working out well for me profit-wise, but it’s been keeping me away from some of the big jobs. The close-my-store-and-retire-type jobs,” Harper explained. “I’ve got a gig that could use your help, but I have a feeling you won’t want to do it.”
“That guard got mad when I pressed the elevator button,” Tristan told Sebastian and Jade, who were hanging around Harper’s skull booth.
“She’s got a job for us,” Sebastian said, and opened the swinging door for Tristan to come inside of Harper’s booth.
“Why can’t you guys just tow cars?” Jade asked them.
“No one can contact us since the number on the truck is fake,” Tristan replied.
“We were hoping for the Adam’s car situation to come through,” Sebastian reminded her.
“We should have done animal bones,” Tristan said distracted. He was looking at the head of a tiger in one of the cases. Tristan had second thoughts when Sebastian pointed to the tusks of an elephant. “Oh, that’s why we don’t.”
“Let me start off by saying, I have a client who, in the past, I have sold some skulls to. Since we’ve built sort of a trusted relationship, they asked me to steal a skull that’s more of a prized nature. I passed, thinking it was impossible even with a team.” Harper leaned up against the counter.
“Wait, wait—we don’t do skulls of the famous?” Tristan asked, confused, because he remembered the thief code they had.
“The client was willing to pay $3.3 million,” Harper revealed.
“I was thinking we would steal it and then return it after,” Sebastian said.
“Don’t tell me that. I still might want to work with that client.” Harper pretended not to hear that before she continued. “I think my client may have contacted some other people with the offer, but obviously since I haven’t heard about any success, I think the job is still open.”
“Harper, who is it you want us to steal?” Sebastian asked, trying to speed things up.
Jade motioned Tristan and Sebastian to talk in a huddle for a moment. “Look, you guys owe me, but I might have to disown both of you if you do this,” Jade whispered.
“It could be a bad famous person,” Tristan said, starting to rethink the situation.
“Yeah, Jade,” Sebastian mocked playfully.
“Sorry to disappoint, but it’s not,” Harper interrupted.
“Well. who is it?” Jade asked Harper.
Harper slowly turned around her laptop screen to reveal who it was: Elvis
“That changes things,” Jade said.
“What?” Sebastian and Tristan asked at the same time, shocked by Jade’s response.
“The whole faked-his-death thing. Even more famous than the last guy you did. I would be personally curious,” Jade replied.
“Hmm,” Sebastian grunted.
“Don’t be that person,” Harper replied. “I wouldn’t want to put an investment into a job like this if there was a chance we were going to run into a big problem like that.”
“Can we fake it?” Tristan asked.
“She not only has a skull expert, who I’ve met before—and he’s, like, really good—but she has a life cast of his face from a movie, as well as DNA.”
“We have to do the huddle thing again,” Sebastian said, this time being the one to motion Tristan and Jade over. “So we’re doing this.” Sebastian heard a loud cough but couldn’t see where it came from.
“If we steal it back after we get paid, then I guess it’s okay,” Tristan reasoned.
“I’ll help you—mostly because I’m not doing anything for a couple months,” Jade said, looking at her cast. “But I want you to know this could be a disaster.”
“Yes, yes, prison and police.” Sebastian broke from the huddle to talk to Harper. “We’re going to need you to back us on supplies and travel, room costs and expenses.”
“Also food,” Tristan interjected.
“You could take that out of our final cut,” Sebastian said to Harper.
“If you’re serious… what do you need?” Harper asked.
Tristan and Sebastian looked around at all the illegal booths. Then they looked at each other, pleased.
After packing Harper’s windowless black van full of crates of her skulls and skeletons for sale, Sebastian squished in the back in between them.
Harper drove forward out of the large elevator in Orion Records and out into the alley near the flea market.
As Harper drove, Sebastian peeked into the boxes where he saw some old maps of cemetery locations. He noticed that in one of the boxes was a binder labeled, “Client List.”
Curious, Sebastian flipped through it to see that it included only first names and numbers. Sebastian looked to see that Harper was busy driving through the flea market, so he used his phone to take some photos of the pages. He had just enough time to finish, as Harper headed into the parking garage across the street.
At the top of the ramp, she parked in front of the Sour Cherub tow truck, where Jade and Tristan were patching bullet holes with putty. Sebastian’s heart began to beat rapidly when he noticed that one of the names in the book was Peter C..
“Peter Caspian?” Sebastian wondered fearfully.
Tristan hopped off the ramp so Harper could pull up onto the back to be hooked up. Once parked, Sebastian opened the back doors.
“We got the goods,” Sebastian said gleefully, pretending he hadn’t seen anything unusual. He was carrying a plastic tub over to the front seat of the truck.
Jade set her paintbrush down; she had been using it to paint black over the putty.
“Fake identities, ammo…” Sebastian announced, taking the lid off the tub. Tristan, immediately seeing a shiny handgun, pulled it out. Tristan waved it around and positioned like he was a secret agent in a movie. He noticed the wolves engraved on the handgrip, which had angles.
“Hey!” Sebastian pushed Tristan’s arm down so it couldn’t be seen if anyone else who was in the garage. “Emergency only, buddy.”
“You should have had them alter our faces a little,” Jade said worriedly, looking at the ID and seeing the photo of her with a fake name.
“Those are more for me and Tristan when we get out of the country,” Sebastian said, looking through the tub.
“Oh.” Jade put the ID in her purse. They hadn’t yet realized they would be leaving her behind.
“After this, we’ll probably get another boat. Do a little international sightseeing.”
“I’m in.” Tristan invited himself and tried to load his handgun, but kept dropping bullet rounds on the parking garage floor.
“And this is how we will get the skull of Elvis back after we sell it.” Sebastian picked up a box that said “tracking device” and showed it to Tristan.
“Nice,” Tristan replied. He opened the box. Inside was small blinking computer chip, about the size of a small toenail.
“We need to dump my stuff off at a storage place, and that will free up my van,” Harper said, watching the three go through the supplies Sebastian had packed in the tub.
“Can do,” Sebastian acknowledged while tossing a gun holster to Tristan.
“How do you…?” Tristan was having trouble; he fiddled with the straps.
“Ankle.” Sebastian placed it against his own as an example.
With a long journey to Graceland ahead of them, the Sour Cherub tow truck parked next to a pump at a gas station off the freeway in the middle of nowhere, Oklahoma. Tristan stepped out of the driver’s seat quietly so as to not wake Harper or Jade, who were sleeping in the back.
Sebastian, getting out as well, motioned Tristan to walk with him. He whispered as he led Tristan into the convenience store; the only other person inside was the cashier, who was on his cell phone.
“I found a client list book when I was in Harper’s van. Harper won’t tell us who we’re selling this too, but I figure we could get a clue in case Harper screws us.” Sebastian took out his phone to show Tristan a photo of a page from the book.
“I trust her so far,” Tristan said, grabbing multiple bags of chips off the shelf. “She is our meal-slash-everything ticket right now.”
Sebastian showed him specifically the page with Peter C. on it.
“I don’t know if that’s who you think it is. I thought Peter likes to steal his own skulls,” Tristan said, and the glare from the headlights of a black SUV pulling into the gas pump next to their truck blinded them.
“I don’t know. I was going to try and do some Internet searches and see if I can pull up who any of these numbers belong to,” said Sebastian.
Tristan placed the bags of chips into Sebastian’s hand. “Do your thing, but get me these,” Tristan requested.
“Fine.” Sebastian put his phone away and picked out some bottles of water while Tristan walked back over to the truck. He lifted the gas cap and put the pump’s nozzle into its hole.
At the pump, Tristan began to fill up the truck. He could see Harper and Jade still sleeping in the backseat. He looked over at the tinted-window SUV and noticed no was getting out.
“This weekend—” a female reporter popped up on the TV hooked up to the gas pump. Tristan, bored, watched her talk about some local event and noticed she kept glancing away from the camera. “Can she see me?” Tristan thought. It made him self-conscious, like there was some reason she wouldn’t look at him. Tristan itched his nose and watched as the reporter mimicked his movement.
“Whoa.” Tristan gasped aloud and saw Sebastian walking over. Tristan looked away and pretended like nothing had happened. Sebastian tossed Tristan a water bottle.
“Do you need me to drive?” Harper asked, half awake, as Sebastian got in the driver’s seat and started the engine. The built-in screen flashed on with their GPS coordinates brightening the inside of the cab.
“Maybe in an hour,” Sebastian said and Tristan got into the van.
Sebastian pulled out of the gas station and onto the empty road. He noticed the tinted window SUV had pulled out from the gas station, too.
“They never got out to gas or anything,” Tristan said to Sebastian, since he saw he’d noticed the SUV in his rear-view mirror.
Sebastian began to speed up a little bit, the truck’s brights aimed at the countryside fields around them. Since the SUV was keeping up with them, Sebastian panicked.
“I know this is dumb,” Sebastian whispered, and pulled over to the side of the road to let the SUV pass.
“That’s what we get for being paranoid,” Tristan said as the vehicle went by, when suddenly the SUV pulled over to the side of the road just a little bit ahead of them. Sebastian and Tristan almost released their bowels.
“What is going on?” sleepy Harper asked.
Sebastian reached for his handgun in his chest holster and pushed open his door. The SUV drove away immediately, leaving a dust cloud.
“That was weird,” Tristan commented afraid.
“I do not like whatever that was,” Sebastian said and turned down a different road than the one the GPS directed.
After a few more hours of driving, the group exited the tow truck at the Graceland parking area next to all the busy tourists.
“Tickets.” Harper walked up to Sebastian, who was helping Jade into her wheelchair, while Tristan was taking photos of the parking area with the two large jets that had been personally used by Elvis. Tristan watched as people headed to the visitor center building.
“There’s the shuttle bus,” Jade said, pointing to the bus filling up with guests. Sebastian quickly rolled Jade over, with Harper and Tristan following behind.
“If we have to take a bus over, how are we going to get over there on the day we need to?” Tristan asked before he handed his ticket to the tour guide, who cleared him to enter onto the bus.
“Just go with it,” Sebastian re-assured him, and helped Jade out of her wheelchair and up to a seat next to Tristan.
There were TVs above all the chairs and they began to turn on, showing the logo of Graceland and playing a tune by Elvis while the guests each took their seats till the bus was full.
Harper, sitting next to Sebastian, drank from her coffee cup.
“Welcome to Graceland,” a narrator’s voice said. “To your left are two private jets that were used by Elvis.” Old footage of Elvis and his daughter on the jets as the bus went around the planes on the screen. The footage switched to Elvis playing live concerts and late-night talk show interviews. Tristan got weirded out when Elvis looked like he was staring at him while he was talking to a reporter.
“Hey, doesn’t it look like he’s staring at us?” Tristan commented to Jade, who was in the aisle seat next to him. Elvis gave a wink at Tristan, which made Tristan turn away in horror.
“No, he’s just looking into the camera. I used to get in trouble for doing that all the time,” Jade replied. Tristan chuckled, realizing that it was just that this whole time.
The bus stopped in front of the mansion so the group could exit. When Sebastian got off the bus, his eyes drifted slowly around the building until he spotted a camera under the arch at the entrance.
“Hidden camera on,” Harper said into Sebastian’s ear, and she turned the diamond ring on her finger where the hidden camera was located.
“I can’t see any other cameras, unless they’re hidden,” Sebastian whispered to Tristan, who nodded in agreement.
A man behind Sebastian gave a loud cough, which startled Sebastian. Sebastian turned around; it was an older man wearing sunglasses and a Detroit Tigers baseball cap. He was shooting photos of the place with a cheap plastic film camera.
“You okay?” Jade asked Sebastian as Tristan pushed her.
“Yup.” Sebastian shook it off.
“Good morning everybody,” greeted the tour guide. She was a petite Southern woman named Amanda in an white employee dress shirt and skirt. She used a key to unlock the front doors and held them open for everyone to enter.
Sebastian looked across the street from the mansion, which was fenced off, with a parked car that said “Graceland Security” on the side.
Amanda closed the door after the last person entered; it was the man with the Tigers baseball cap and sunglasses.
With a view from the main lobby of the kitchen on the left and living room on the right, the group looked to the roped-off staircase directly ahead of them.
“Since Elvis’s death in the upstairs bedroom, it has been closed off to the public,” Amanda explained. “Very few people have ever been up there since then, including the staff.”
Jade set her hand on the velvet rope blocking the staircase. Curiosity ran through her mind. She longed to know if the spirit of the King lingered around here.
The tour group moved into the living room while Jade, Sebastian, and Tristan stayed behind. “Any chance we can also do a break-in to his room?” Jade asked in a hushed voice, already knowing the answer.
“Not going to happen.” Sebastian looked up at the corner of the wall where a surveillance cam was pointed at the staircase. “You two go ahead; I need a quick look,” Sebastian whispered to Tristan and Jade and waved them to catch up with the tour group. Jade took one last look up the staircase.
Sebastian tiptoed into the kitchen. His eyes spotted a surveillance camera tucked in between cabinets.
Now hurriedly, Sebastian moved to the back of the room by the oven, where windows had a view of the backyard and the small cemetery. Sebastian looked for more surveillance cameras but couldn’t see any around.
In the living room, tour guide Amanda led the group to the back of the living room, where a piano sat.
“Sir,” Amanda warned Tristan, whose hand was about to press a key. Harper and Jade gave him a glare.
“This is where Elvis would spend time practicing—” Amanda paused and placed her hand up to her ear to hear the earbud walkie-talkie better.
“A tour guest has left the group and is in the kitchen,” Amanda heard the male voice say.
“Thank you.” Amanda put her hand down from her earbud. “Everybody, feel free to keep looking around.” Amanda walked quickly into the adjoining room towards the kitchen and stopped to take a glance back, where she saw Tristan about to press a key on the piano. Tristan pretended like he wasn’t.
“Sir.” Amanda squinted her eyes at Sebastian, who was startled, since Amanda was pretty sneaky.
“Sorry, I just wanted to see the backyard,” Sebastian replied. He let his heartbeat settle.
“If you were patient, we were just about to head out there.” Amanda waved him back to the group.
“Right, sorry again,” Sebastian said, slipping right back in with the group.
“Everybody, let’s head outside,” Amanda said opening the door. She looked to make sure Sebastian was still following. The tour group could see the pool and then the small cemetery with a short iron fence around it.
“I’m going to take you over to Elvis’s grave first.” Amanda led the group past the pool to a small grassy plot with flat rectangle tombstones.
Sebastian looked past the long white barn where some expensive cars could be seen through the open doors. Behind it was a fence blocking off a back path in the woods to get here between the areas
“Here is the resting place of Elvis,” Amanda said, and the group began to take pictures.
Sebastian heard a loud cough again and noticed the man in the baseball cap touch his nose as if he was giving a signal.
This made Sebastian nervous; he wasn’t sure if that was Liberty and Muskets giving him a code, wanting him to know that they were there.
“Have you encountered anything paranormal because of Elvis’s death here?” Jade asked Amanda who widened her eyes in surprise.
“No… We even have a twenty-four-hour camera aimed at his grave to deter robbers, and security hasn’t seen anything.”
Sebastian looked for the camera, but couldn’t see any around.
“Let’s go to the garage, where we’ll see some of Elvis’s cars.” Amanda walked ahead leading the group over to a long white garage. Since the garage doors were open, they could see some old cars, motorcycles, car parts and tools inside. “Here we have a 1961 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz. It’s been in here since Elvis died, since we couldn’t find the keys,” Amanda said as she walked the group around the pink convertible. It sat dusty and unwashed.
Sebastian looked at the fence that blocked off entry through the woods. There was barbed wire at the top.
Tristan stopped lusting over the cars to look over at Sebastian, noticing what he was looking at.
In their two-bed hotel room, Jade, Sebastian, and Tristan sat around the table looking at the hidden camera footage from Harper’s ring. Jade fast-forwarded it a little bit, since for a stretch it was unintentionally aimed at Harper’s cleavage when she had folded her arms.
Harper opened the room’s door, bringing in the Indian take-out she’d gone to get.
“What do we got?” Harper asked and set the bag on the table, starting to unpack containers of food. Tristan and Sebastian looked away from the footage as Jade fast-forwarded, not wanting to be caught by Harper.
“They don’t like my idea of helicoptering over the backyard and roping down where we would encounter a possible gunfight with security,” Tristan said.
“Guns are emergency only,” Sebastian reprimanded as he took a container of food out of the take-out bag and placed it on the table.
“If we need disguises, which we should have be using, I used to get prosthetics put on me all the time when I used to do movies. I’m actually pretty good at doing it myself.” Jade opened a container of rice and put some on a paper plate. “If we can pick up a kit…?”
“Done,” Sebastian said, taking bite of some spicy halibut.
“You guys have considered that it will be Sebastian and I digging since, well… your shoulder?” Harper said to Tristan.
“Oh…” Tristan, mid-bite, became disappointed just realizing that.
“We’ve got kind of a routine where we know how long it’ll take us,” Sebastian said.
“I don’t even need the sling anymore,” Tristan said, and Harper grabbed Tristan’s shoulder where he was shot. Tristan cried out in pain.
“I guess it’s me and you then,” Sebastian mumbled. “Here’s what we’re looking at: cameras, guards, getting to backyard, getting out without getting arrested, and being able to get away safely.”
“I’ll be the driver, I guess,” Jade said.
“That works,” Sebastian agreed. “We also don’t need to get the cameras turned off, but we need to know where they are.”
“The security office is located near the visitor center; I would say that’s a good start.” Tristan turned the laptop on, minimizing the footage software to bring up a map of the visitor center of Graceland.
“I could also bring up a concern that Elvis casket is made completely out of copper,” Harper said.
“Well… what cuts through that?” Sebastian asked.
“Acid? We know it works,” Tristan suggested.
“Yeah, but that takes too long,” Sebastian said.
“Hang on.” Tristan did a quick Internet search. “I’m coming up with metal knives and shears-type stuff.”
“The casket isn’t a thin sheet. I’m sure it’s thick,” Sebastian said. “You can’t just stab it.”
The following day, Jade, wearing a brunette wig, glasses and a business suit, rolled through the tourists in the visitor center at Graceland. Jade passed the ticket booth and its long line, heading up to the security office.
Jade had a folder on her lap. She gave a knock at the door, which had a small window. Inside she could see a guard sitting at a desk with a computer monitor aimed at him, away from her view. The guard, noticing Jade, got up and walked over.
“Can I help you?” the curious guard, who was black and tall, gave a nice smile as he leaned against the door. He had thin-trimmed beard that lined up with his shaved head.
Jade, flustered at first from messing up, got back into her role. “I’m from Graceland corporate,” Jade said, and pointed at the fake ID connected to a lanyard around her neck.
“Oh, hi. Officer Roth.” said the guard as he sort of glanced at the ID quickly and gave Jade a loose handshake. He looked like he didn’t want to be here, with bored body language, but his British accent made it seem like everything was fine.
“I have paperwork; it’s routine, to make sure all the officers’ personal files are updated.” Jade took the papers out of the folder and handed them to Roth. “Your supervisor will be stopping by at the end of the week to pick them up, so just make sure you pass this down to the next guard coming in.” Jade pointed to the sheet.
“Okay.” Roth sighed, looking at paperwork, which he realized was just checking if there were any changes to address, social, or other personal file information.
“Thank you.” Jade was about to leave when she poked her head back into the office. “Hey, did the camera guys ever come to fix that camera that was down?” Jade asked.
“Which one?” Roth slapped the folder on the desk and slouched in his chair. He lazily looked at the monitor.
“Ah, I have to see.” Jade rolled over and Roth slowly turned the monitor, which squeaked against the desk as Roth rotated it slightly for her to see.
Jade looked as the monitor switched to different sections of the museum and the mansion. “It was the camera that was in the mansion’s backyard,” Jade said.
The guard clicked on a section that brought up the garage, with vintage cars and the pool area. Jade could see a tour group standing around Elvis’s grave.
“Well none, appear to be out. Just let your supervisor know if any do,” Jade rolled away.
“All right.” Roth kicked his feet up on the desk.
“Hey, feet.” Jade shook her head at Roth. Jade snapped her fingers at Roth, who slowly lifted them off the desk and back to the floor.
After getting away without drawing any suspicion, Jade made it out to the hallway and called her brother.
“How did it go?” Sebastian answered. He was back in the hotel room sitting at the table, looking at the hidden ring footage on the laptop.
“The camera angle is coming from the front of the tombstone. It’s up high enough that it’s visible up to people’s heads,” Jade said, remembering.
“Thanks.” Sebastian hung up and pulled up the ring footage of the backyard, and fast-forwarded to when they were at the grave area. He zoomed to see vines around the brick wall.
“Where is it?” Tristan asked, stepping out of the bathroom while brushing his teeth.
“If it gets people’s heads in view, it’s up a little higher.” Sebastian pulled up a different photo of the same area and saw a big tree hanging over the brick wall.
“Ninety percent chance it’s hidden in the tree,” Sebastian conjectured.
Jade, still in the visitor center, rolled over to the exit and saw a young girl who looked like the girl in the mouse club photo. Jade felt a deep sadness and reached into her purse to look at the photo again. “I think I need to find out who you are now.”
In their hotel room’s bathroom, Tristan propped his phone up on the sink so he could watch a gun instruction video.
“Put both your hands on the handle.” An instructor demonstrated and Tristan listened to the gun expert as he used his own gun and positioned himself. It hurt his recently shot shoulder to use both arms, so he just used one.
Tristan aimed his gun at the window, which had a view of the street. He could see the freeway and a billboard for the Elvis Sun Studio tower with a huge face of Elvis on it. Tristan aimed his gun at Elvis.
In the main hotel room, Sebastian held up a sack of sand while Harper punched it.
Tristan, still in the bathroom, clicked the trigger of the gun a few times, since it wasn’t loaded.
“Now Tristan, make sure your legs are spread apart,” the video instructor said, and Tristan freaked out. He clicked on the video and re-wound it. The instructor said the exact same thing again.
Sebastian knocked on the door and Tristan opened it. Sebastian aimed Tristan’s gun down at the floor so it wasn’t pointed at him.
Sebastian closed the door behind himself and the bathroom light flickered.
“What are you doing?”
“We should go to a gun range to get my skills up.”
“You shouldn’t miss up close, and if you have time to aim, you probably have time to run away.” Sebastian took the gun out of Tristan’s hand.
“So, uh, how are we going to pull this off?” Tristan asked.
“I don’t know,” Sebastian whispered. “Keep pretending like we’re on to something though. I think she had the right idea when she said it might be impossible.”
The hours went into the night and the gang went to sleep still without a full idea of how they were going to achieve their thievery.
Jade and Harper slept in their own beds in the hotel, while Tristan was on the couch and Sebastian was on the floor. Sebastian used his phone, since it was dark, as a light source to make it into the bathroom.
He turned on the fan after he closed the door, and scanned through the photos on his phone of Harper’s client book. He stopped on the photo of the page with Peter C.‘s number.
Sebastian stared at it, repeating the number in his head a few times before dialing it. His stomach ached with fear as he heard the number ring. The bathroom light flickered again, not helping him feel any better.
The ringing stopped and it came to complete silence. Sebastian listened, but quickly a voice mail ending beep came on and the line went to the dial tone.
“Huh.” Sebastian hung up. Sebastian quickly flipped through the other photos with numbers on them and ended up at the photos he took at Graceland.
As he saw the photo of the jet in the parking lot, which had the words “Lisa Marie” painted on the side, he got an idea.
At the same time, across states in Oxen Hill, Maryland, two Liberty Musket members wearing night-vision goggles crept around trees. It was Rebecca and Saul, wearing black robes and carrying duffel bags.
“This is stupid. Next time I’m getting some comfortable clothes.” Rebecca had to carefully pull her robe over the fence so it didn’t tear. “We only wear these if we get caught, but we don’t want to get caught,” Rebecca complained while Saul made it over next.
“Yeah, I don’t even think they wash these,” Saul agreed. The two could see a long driveway up to a colonial manor. The windows were lit up with those fake candle lights.
“It’s back here.” Saul led Rebecca through the trees that lined the driveway to the manor. They ran through a garden and past some tombstones with faded text. “This should be it.” Saul took out an old map that had labels showing what the tombstones used to read. He looked at the brick wall and positioned himself on the wet grass where “Tomb of John Hanson” was marked.
Rebecca and Saul each took two hand-held electrical devices out of their duffel bags and placed them in a square around the section the map indicated on the grass.
Saul stood back and, using a remote, turned on the four devices, which acted like an x-ray and showed what was under the dirt.
“It’s just a square,” said Rebecca.
“It was an underground crypt. The bastards must have cemented over this one too,” Saul said, and took out his cell phone.
Peter sat in his office at his house—the one with the clear floor showing the fish swimming underneath, and his desk made out of human and animal bones.
Peter took a blood cleansing supplement and then a bite of his salad as he watched his cell phone vibrating on his desk.
“Yes?” Peter pressed the speaker button and took another bite.
“They cemented it, like all the others so far,” Saul said, annoyed.
“The only upside I see to this is that they have been kept safe till we are able to reclaim them,” Peter said and scratched his hand.
When morning arose, exactly at six o’clock a.m., Sebastian pulled open the curtains of the hotel room, making the morning light shine brightly over the others while they slept.
“I didn’t know we were on a time schedule,” Jade complained as she used a pillow to cover her face. Next to her bed was an open box full of prosthetic pieces like fake noses, false cheeks, and wigs.
“I have the plan,” Sebastian said, and ripped the blanket off Tristan. Tristan tried to grasp at the blanket but was still too tired and let go.
Harper sat up and put on her glasses since she hadn’t put her contacts in yet. “What time is it?”
Sebastian sat down in a chair at the table and began to pull out bagels and cream cheese from a bag. Harper took one of the cups of coffee and removed the lid to add sugar.
Tristan lazily walked over to the table and laid his face on it.
“What’s your plan?” Harper asked.
“The only way we’re going to even get close to that grave is if we open the tomb next to Elvis’s,” Sebastian explained.
Tristan picked up his head out of confusion, but just put it back down.
“We’re going to fake the death of Lisa Marie.” Sebastian folded his arms, satisfied with himself.
Two hours later, Tristan and Sebastian found themselves at a local tombstone maker. They walked into the empty shop to see a pot-bellied man in a sweaty T-shirt as he used a drill that had been heated up to a molten red to engrave a tombstone which had a metal stencil of someone’s name on it.
“Hey, you do same-day engraving?” Sebastian inquired as he adjusted his suit. Tristan, also in a suit, followed Sebastian’s lead by lining up his tie correctly.
The engraver pointed to the sign that said they did, as he used a towel to wipe the sweat off his forehead from the heat coming off the engraving cutter.
“Before we tell you what we need, we have a non-disclosure agreement, since our client has recently passed and we don’t want it in the news.”
The engraver picked up the agreement and used his fingers to read each line slowly.
“Look, it’s just, you tell anyone before it hits the news and we sue you,” Sebastian said in a rush.
“Whatever to make a sale.” The engraver signed it quickly.
“Thank you.” Tristan took the form and Sebastian handed the man words they needed on a piece of paper
The engraver used a calculator to add up the word count costs. “I don’t even know who that, is by the way.” The engraver slid the calculator over to show Sebastian and Tristan the costs.
“Oh, this might be out of our budget.” Sebastian looked at Tristan and led him away from the desk.
The engraver took a look at the name and sneaked over to his phone to look up who it was.
“I bet Jade knows a good prop master. We could get them to make us one for a cheaper price,” Tristan reasoned.
“Call her,” Sebastian said.
“I didn’t know that the daughter of Elvis and ex-wife of Michael Jackson was on a budget.” The engraver leaned against his desk. “I would think money would be unlimited budget.”
“So now you know who she is.” Sebastian got an attitude.
“Technically, I didn’t have a witness see me sign that contract.”
“Oh,” Tristan said, realizing what he was doing.
“Tell you what, how much to buy or at least borrow a drill like that?” Sebastian looked again at the tool the man had been using to do the engraving.
“We can work it out,” the engraver said, and Sebastian sent a quick text to Jade, notifying her.
Jade, who was doing research on her laptop in the hotel room, saw her phone light up and notified Harper.
“They got it.” Jade, sitting on her bed, smiled at Harper at the table.
“I had the guy who did my stores website, make us a fake news webpage.” Harper turned her laptop to show the fake death article by Lisa Marie on CNN. “It’s just a photo, so you can’t click on anything.”
“Perfect, just put it on my phone.” Jade tossed it to her. She concentrated on looking for information on who the redheaded girl in the photo was. She tried pulling up old Walt D. mouse club members’ lists, but nothing was coming up past the nineties. Jade, frustrated, closed her laptop.
In the Graceland Visitor Center security office, Roth was playing online poker on the computer but still had the camera program open so he could look at it. The office phone rang and he picked it up. He used his shoulder to hold it while he chose his cards.
“Security,” he said.
“This is Graceland event coordinator Terry Wessels. Who am I speaking with?”
“This is Roth,” he replied with fake cheerfulness.
“Within a few minutes, an employee from Graceland corporate should be stopping by. She is going to give you very important information that is to remain confidential.”
“Sure.” Roth saw that he’d lost the round and slapped the mouse against the desk.
“If any information is found to come from you, it’s liable for dismissal.”
“What is going on?” Officer Roth got serious.
“Put out a word for every officer that is able to leave their post for a quick emergency meeting in the Lisa Marie jet.”
Roth quickly flipped through the staff booklet to see that Terry Wessels was indeed from corporate.
“I’m on it.” Roth, getting serious, hung up. On the other end was Harper, who was pretending to be the caller. She was in the backseat of the tow truck, parked at a gas station. Jade was applying facial appliances, making Harper’s face look a little different.
“Try not to run in these as much as possible, since the sweat might make the glue un-stick,” Jade instructed as she worked.
“Ready?” Tristan opened the door. He was wearing a suit, with his facial appliances giving him a thinner face and a wig that was more clean-cut-looking than his usual shaggy hairstyle.
Jade finished using concealer to match the appliance to Harper’s skin tone.
“Let’s do it,” Jade said, and Harper hopped out of the truck wearing a one-piece blue mechanic-type jump suit. She sat down in the passenger seat of her black van, which was parked right next to it.
Sebastian, in the driver’s seat, was also disguised; he had covered up his goatee and wore a moustache. He watched Tristan drive the tow truck out onto the road.
Once parked in the visitor center lot, Tristan rolled Jade over to the line waiting to get into the Lisa Marie jet. There was a small group of guards waiting who looked at Jade, in a business suit, brunette wig, and the fake corporate lanyard.
“Emergency meeting. We’ll be taking the space in here for a few minutes,” Jade said, holding up her fake badge. The staff member looked at the group of officers, which included Roth.
The staff member cleared out the guests inside and the officers sat down in the chairs. Tristan closed the door, leaving them alone inside.
“If you haven’t met me yet, I’m with corporate. Even if we haven’t met in person, your files and reports get sent back to me.” Jade handed a stack of papers to Tristan, who began to hand these out to the officers. “Supervisor Pierio will be here in a few hours.”
“Pierio?” one of the guards asked. “He only visits once a month.”
“Well, this is a big deal. Those papers are confidentiality forms, because what I’m about to tell you remains strictly between this department. If it’s found you release any information to the press, you will be let go, terminated” Jade explained. She reached into her purse to pull out a sheet and her coffee dripped a little bit, making a stain on the white seat. “Do we get pens?” the oldest officer of the bunch asked.
“Hey, you should always have a pen on you,” Jade scolded. Tristan had some pens, just in case, and handed one to the guard.
“I’m not going to sign this till what I know what this is,” Roth disputed.
“If you don’t sign it when you leave, you will be let go.” The guards remained quiet at this news. Some began to sign.
Tristan stood next to Jade after finishing handing out the sheets.
“Last night, Lisa Marie passed away from a heart attack,” Jade said, and some of the officers gasped. “It turned out she had some family genetics passed down. The news will be released in a few hours, but none of you are to report what is going to happen here today.”
“I’m also an event coordinator here, and we will be having a private funeral here in the backyard of the mansion around four p.m. today. The news will already be out, but we don’t want any uninvited guests showing up before then,” Tristan explained.
“Grave diggers will be here in twenty minutes, followed by catering and the decorator for setup,” Jade said.
“When is Supervisor Pierio getting here?” one of the muscular guards of the group asked.
“You can call him if you need to, but he probably won’t answer for at least an hour or so since he’s meeting with the Marsh family now,” Jade said.
Tristan, on his phone, showed the group of guards the CNN website. “It already broke,” Tristan said, pointing to the headline: “Lisa Marie Dead.”
“NO!” Jade said dramatically, which startled the guards. One that was sleeping woke up.
“Tone it down,” Tristan said in her ear.
Jade got control of herself. “I need you to sign those confidentiality sheets. If any guest or employee asks, you tell them you don’t know anything,” Jade said.
At the entrance of the gate, Sebastian drove the black van with Harper inside up to a guard, who was directing traffic to the parking lot.
“We’re here for the…” Harper looked down at a piece of paper. “Code word ‘hound dog.’”
“They’re expecting you at the entrance.” The guard waved Sebastian to drive forward and then used his walkie-talkie to notify the other guards of her arrival.
At the Lisa Marie jet, Tristan and Jade took the signed confidentiality sheets as the guards exited to the parking lot.
“I need one guard,” Jade was saying as the guards left. She looked at Roth, who was leaving. “I’m changing your post. You’re going to come with me to supervise the funeral setup.”
Tristan hurried at a fast pace over to their parked tow truck.
Tristan climbed inside and pulled his laptop out from under the seat. He looked at his phone as it vibrated on the dashboard; it was from a text from Sebastian saying, “We’re in.”
Sebastian, now at the entrance of the mansion, had parked next to the tour bus. With the help of Harper, he placed the tombstone on the dolly. Wearing a backpack, Sebastian pushed the dolly over to the gate where a guard was holding it open for them.
“Can you clear them out while we do this?” Sebastian asked the muscular guard. The guard had a smoker’s type of face. He looked over at the tour group coming out from the mansion. “We signed a confidentiality agreement and can’t answer any questions.”
“I can tell them you’re part of the lawn care, but you might want to cover that up,” the guard replied, looking down at the grave stone which had engraved on it Lisa Marie’s name, birth date, and death date of yesterday.
“Right.” Harper set her own backpack on top of the engraving and pulled out the collapsible shovels to carry while Sebastian pushed the dolly.
They passed the tour group, heading to the garage full of cars and around the pool.
Once at the grave of Elvis, Sebastian unclasped his shovel by pressing a button on the handle. Harper’s shovel opened with a latch that extended it.
“That’s cool,” she said, jealous of Sebastian’s.
“This is working out pretty good so far,” Sebastian said, and saw the guard was smoking and talking with the tour guide, instructing them to keep at a distance while the lawn care worked.
Harper was the first to drive her shovel into the dirt next to the plot of Elvis.
Tristan, in the truck in the parking lot, kept an eye out as cars entered the gates in case any authority figures arrived. He felt pretty useless and touched his still-sore shoulder, bummed he wouldn’t be there to carry this one out.
To pass the time, Tristan opened up his laptop and stared at the screen. “I wonder…,” Tristan said to himself and pulled up an adult cam website.
He wasn’t going to pay and he didn’t have a camera built into his laptop anyway, but was just curious to see if he would get the same reactions as he had with the TVs lately.
Tristan clicked on the first camera of a sexy model and noticed that as soon as he did, her cam was in private mode. Tristan clicked another cam, and the cam girl gave him a shocked look before also going to private.
Tristan, scared, clicked on another camera feed and a woman stared at Tristan as if she could see him. “Whoa,” Tristan said aloud as she began to undress. He closed his laptop screen, since some guests were walking by.
“I wonder…again…” Tristan opened back up his laptop again and brought up a website with live surveillance feeds around the world, of bars, personal, and other cameras.
“The catering and chairs people are coming soon,” Jade said, rolling to the backyard while Roth walked with her. Roth stared at Sebastian and Harper, who were making a large hole.
Jade rolled over to see how deep they were getting.
“I’m the funeral event coordinator. If you have any questions, let us know,” Jade said to Sebastian. He shook her hand pretending as if this was the first time he had met her.
“You shouldn’t be here in case something goes wrong.” Sebastian, using his sleeve to wipe dirt off his face, stepped out of the hole and spoke quietly to her.
“What am I supposed to do?” Jade asked quietly back. Sebastian saw Roth watching them.
“I don’t like the way that guy is watching us. Have him guard at the entrance.” Sebastian slipped her the keys. “Use the van if things go wrong.”
Everything was clear at the entrance, and it gave Tristan a moment to click through live bar cams. He stopped on one to watch a couple chatting in a booth. The man sitting in the booth looked directly into the camera, which frightened Tristan and made him click out of it.
Back at the main page of live cameras around the world, he noticed there was one of the Graceland mansion. He clicked on it, and saw the front of the mansion and there were fifty other viewers watching.
“Why would anyone watch this?” Tristan said to himself as he looked at Jade. Tristan wondered if she could see him, so he gave her a wave. Jade looked in the direction of the camera.
Finally, at least six feet deep, Harper brushed the side of the grave to feel the copper casket in the next plot over. A chill went through her body.
“This is real.” Sebastian was overwhelmed seeing the casket. Harper climbed out of the hole and took out a folded-up inflatable from her backpack. Quickly she connected it to an electrical pump, which began to blow up a large inflatable guitar.
Jade sat next to a pillar and watched a tour group head into the bus. Roth stood watching, bored. A teenage girl in the tour group looked at Jade, and Jade became worried that this person could see through her makeup and knew who she really was.
But nothing came of it, since the girl got onto the bus.
At the visitor center, Officer Stitch, a guard, walked into the security office and was surprised to see that no one was there.
He was the oldest of the guards, he was oblivious that everyone could tell he was dying his hair from gray to black.
He walked over to the schedule and saw that Roth was supposed to be working the surveillance duty.
Since no one was there, the guard opened a desk drawer and began to search through Roth’s snacks.
“Tilt it a little more,” Sebastian said, and Harper moved the inflatable guitar so it was covering up a spot in front of the tree. “That should cover the camera,” Sebastian said as he took a portable blow torch out of his backpack.
Stitch, still sitting at the desk eating chips, noticed the cameras flip over to cemetery section, and saw that the back of an inflatable was covering up the view of the graves. He continued to eat as he stared at it.
The inflatable successfully blocked the view as Sebastian began to light the sides of the casket with the same heat drill the engraver had used to make the tombstone. The drill turned bright red and sizzled as it touched the casket, dripping molten copper down the side.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Inside a little fifties-style cafe on the strip, Pierio sat at a booth in the shape of a classic car while he ate a burger.
He was balding. He had white hair on the sides of his head and goatee that went around his whole mouth. He was wearing a light colored striped suit that fit his broad shoulders. He had headphones on, drowning out the fifties music playing in the restaurant. He was watching an old episode of The Jeffersons on his phone.
A woman sitting at the table next to his booth tapped on his shoulder.
“What?” he asked as he pulled down his headphones. He could hear a beeping noise and he saw her pointing to the guitar keychain that was blinking on his key ring.
Shocked, he stood up, bumping the table.
He cursed and waved the waitress over to bring the check.
Across the country the phone began to ring at the security desk at Graceland and Stitch hesitated but picked it up. “Security.”
“What the hell is happening over there?” Pierio said, hurrying out of the restaurant and out onto the busy street. He could see the tall casinos above him.
“Excuse me?” Stitch asked.
“This is Pierio. I just had an alarm go off on the casket of Elvis.” Pierio flagged down a cab.
Stitch dropped his bag of chips in shock and switched to the camera with the inflatable covering up what was happening.
“Well, the grave diggers must have set off an alarm when they were digging the grave for Lisa Marie’s funeral today.”
“Lisa Marie is still alive as far as I know!” Pierio yelled as he stepped into the cab.
“There is no funeral! Code Devil in Disguise!” rang the voice of Stitch through the walkie-talkies.
Roth was stretching a little some distance from the mansion when he heard the alarm. He immediately took off running towards the backyard.
Jade, nervous of what that meant, took the keys out of her pocket and was about to head for the van. “I have to warn them,” Jade took off wheeling over the grass after Roth.
“Hey, what are you doing?” Roth yelled as he pulled out his gun and aimed it at the hole as he ran towards it. Harper turned off the propane tank to get Sebastian’s attention that Roth was coming, as well as the smoker’s-faced guard, who was also running from the garage with his handgun out.
“What did that mean?” Jade asked Roth and he turned slightly to look at her. Jade maced him in the face, which gave Sebastian a chance to pull out his gun. The smokey-faced guard took a shot and popped the inflatable guitar since he missed them. As the guitar deflated Sebastian flipped up Lisa Marie’s tombstone to block the next shot; it shattered parts of the marble which flew in several directions.
“Finish.” Sebastian tossed the drill gun to Harper and turned the propane tank back on. Sebastian began to fire his gun at the smokey-faced guard, who leaped into the pool to avoid being shot. His walkie-talkie, now wet, stopped working.
Tristan, still in the tow truck, saw a bunch of guards running toward the security squad cars.
“Ah…” Tristan fumbled to reach for his phone to text the three others about the reinforcements coming.
Jade tripped Roth and he rolled on the ground, trying to use his shirt to wipe the mace from his eyes. With blurred vision he went to pick up his gun.
Sebastian used his shovel to smack Roth’s hand and take hold of the gun.
Harper, finally making the hole big enough, took the buzz saw out of her backpack and began to cut the vertebrae of the skeleton next to the head.
“Security’s coming,” Jade said, looking at her phone and seeing Tristan’s text.
The smokey-faced guard in the pool swam over to the pool’s edge and aimed his gun.
Sebastian, seeing his head, began to fire at the lines of the pool, sending up chunks of cement as he shot.
Harper was finally able to detach the skull and held it in her hands.
She noticed some white liquid dripping off the bottom and felt it as it dried in her hands. It was wax like from a candle.
“Got it!” Harper said, slipping the skull into her backpack.
“Leave the supplies,” Sebastian said, giving a hand to Harper to help her out of the hole.
“Come on!” Sebastian, using Roth as a shield, walked closer to the guard in the pool.
“I don’t like him that much,” the smokey-faced guard said, lowering his gun.
The group could hear the sounds of sirens in the distance. Sebastian, his gun to Roth’s head, looked over past the garage at the fence that barred the way into the woods. Unfortunately, there was a string of barbed wire at the top.
“Keys!” Sebastian barked at the guard. Roth was crying from the mace. Jade picked up the keys the guard tossed up over.
“Follow.” Sebastian pushed Roth into the pool onto the smoker’s-faced guard and pushed Jade to the back door. Harper took her gun out; it had sugar skull designs on the handle, and she aimed it at the pool as she ran backwards.
Things were getting worse at the entrance as Tristan watched three police cars pull up to where a security guard was waiting for them. Tristan ducked down in the truck and sent another warning text to Jade.
Sebastian used the keys to get into the mansion and locked the door behind him and Harper. Now in the kitchen, Sebastian peeked around where the big table with chairs and fancy silver was set up. Seeing no one, Sebastian led the way to the front door.
“I don’t think we’re getting out that way.” Harper peeked through the window at all the security cars parked around their van, and the guards running over to the fence leading to the backyard.
Jade looked over at the roped-off staircase leading upstairs.
“Hey,” Jade said as Sebastian locked the front doors. “Remember a certain room that has been locked away from the public?” Jade pointed to the upstairs.
“Wait.” Sebastian motioned Harper to take off her shoes since they were covered in dirt. Both sticking the shoes into their backpacks, they hurried over the rope.
“Wait again.” Sebastian fired his gun, shattering the surveillance camera aimed at the stairs.
Just then they heard the back door trying to be opened. Sebastian picked Jade up out of her chair and quickly carried her up the stairs. Harper looked back, hearing sirens coming closer. They rounded the staircase to a hallway with some rooms.
“That’s it.” Jade pointed to the double doors with soundproof padding on them.
Sebastian rifled through the keys on the guard’s ring and tried to quietly open the door. He could hear the back door in the kitchen burst open and muffled shouting floated up the stairs.
“Come on,” Sebastian whispered, handing off the keys to Harper to figure it out while he set Jade down.
Sebastian peeked around the stairs with his gun in a defensive position and could see the shadows of the guards making it through the entrance.
Harper unlocked the door and opened it up to a mild scent of dust. They closed the door quietly behind them and Sebastian flipped on the light since the window blinds were shut.
It was a small room with a large bed in the middle against the wall near the door. Across from that was an older TV set with a tiger statue on top of it. Along the walls were leather soundproof padding. The room was completely silent, blocking out the noise of the police cars.
Sebastian dropped Jade down on the bed, since he had too much on his mind at the moment.
“Your appliances are starting to slip,” Harper said, seeing Sebastian’s fake cheeks and moustache migrating down his face.
“How long are we going to wait?” Harper asked, peeking out behind the blinds at the cop cars below.
“Until night at this point,” Sebastian said, as Jade repaired the appliances with a small back-up kit in her purse.
The toilet flushed on its own, and the three looked over at the blackened bathroom past the closets with the stained glass windows with angels on them.
“Is that the bathroom where Elvis was found dead?” Harper asked Jade, who nodded yes. Sebastian pulled out his handgun and stepped away from Jade.
“Shh.” Sebastian walked slowly over to the bathroom past the closet and took out his flashlight. He aimed it around to see a counter full of healthcare items, hair products, and toothpaste. A TV sat beside the shower.
Harper peeked in next and they both looked at the toilet bowl swirling around.
Jade picked up her phone, which was vibrating. She noticed she had a few missed calls from Tristan, and that this was Tristan calling now as well.
“Is somebody going to give me an update?” Tristan asked, peeking out the window of the tow truck. He watched as two more police cars entered and drove down the road towards the mansion.
Sebastian, overhearing since the phone was on speaker, walked back over.
“We’re in Elvis’s room,” Sebastian said.
“No way.” Tristan pulled back up his laptop to see all the police cars in front of the mansion on the live webcam feed. “Did you clear any connection to you on the van? Because they are going through it now,” Tristan asked, watching police surrounding it and trying to open the back doors.
“Yeah. It’s a rental, not in my real name,” Harper reassured him.
“Can you cause a distraction?” Sebastian asked Tristan, peeking out the window again.
“Like what?” Tristan asked.
“Let me think.” Sebastian got down on his knees trying to think, and rested his head on his arms from the stress.
The three heard a loud knock on the ceiling and all their eyes bugged out with fright of what that could have been.
Officer Roth, getting help from a police officer, was handed a towel by another security guard. He wiped the mace from his face. Looking over at the freshly dug grave, he walked over.
His eyes still had trouble opening so it made him walk off-balance, but he hopped down into the hole. He saw the hole in the casket and part of a skeletal arm. He reached in to feel for the head, but couldn’t feel it.
Furious, Roth stumbled away from the hole. He took out his cell and saw that it had water damage, but since it was a cheap plastic phone it was still working enough to dial a number. The number went straight to voicemail.
“Did you hire someone else? You couldn’t wait for me? I was close,” Roth said, angry, but not loud enough for anyone else to hear. “Because someone just robbed the grave of Elvis, and I’ve been trying to do that for a few months now!” Roth yelled into his phone. But no one heard or noticed him.
“Jones saw them go inside,” Stitch said, holding up a tablet with a live webcam talking to Pierio, who was on a private jet.
“I was too busy trying to get Roth off me,” the smokey-faced guard, Jones, interrupted while he used a towel to dry himself.
“Just show me around,” Pierio asked, furious. Stitch aimed the tablet around the room.
“Destroyed the camera,” Pierio mentioned, seeing the damaged camera hanging on the wall.
“That chick left her chair,” Jones said, pointing to it and seeing the coffee stain on it. “Maybe she could actually walk.”
“So they were in the house,” Pierio said. He had Stitch stop when he turned the tablet towards the stairs. “Or maybe she was carried. Did anybody check upstairs yet?” Pierio asked, looking at the steps.
In the visitor center, tourists fled to the doors to be let out as the building went into lockdown mode.
Tristan watched as a line of cars created a traffic jam trying to leave the parking lot. Hundreds of tourists ran around the truck to get to their vehicles. Tristan looked over at the Lisa Marie jet.
“That could work.” Tristan thought about stealing the jet. Multiple thoughts went through his head about it not having gas, and not having enough room to move. He looked into the rear-view mirror at the crowd and remembered the crane on the back of the truck.
All was quiet in the Elvis room. “We may need a change of clothes,” Harper said, seeing the open closets with Elvis-style jumpsuits.
“I’m not wearing that,” Sebastian replied.
Jade stared at the toilet and began to tear up. “Worth it,” Jade whispered to herself.
Tristan, honking to move the crowd, parked next to the jet. He quickly hopped out and removed the blocks holding the wheels in place before he peeked inside the jet to see no one was in there.
Looking around, he saw that the security personnel and the police were busy. Tristan grabbed the chain attached to the crane and wrapped it around the front wheel of the jet.
Roth entered in the mansion, fuming.
He felt around and remembered his gun was gone. He saw Stitch and Jones walking up the steps with their guns drawn.
Roth hurried over to the white cabinet in the living room and opened a drawer where there was a samurai sword in a black sheath.
Things ramped up in the chaos of the parking lot. Tristan crashed the truck through the fence and, with the chain on the tow truck, towing the jet forward with him. Cars on the street swerved out of the way as Tristan drove down it, taking up both lanes thanks to the size of the jet.
“You need to get out of there,” Tristan said into the loudspeaker of his phone to Jade.
Sebastian now changed into a red, flashy, leathery jumpsuit and looked at Harper, who was in a black jumpsuit. Harper gave him an Elvis thumbs-up impersonation.
“Guys,” Jade said. Sebastian and Harper looked out the window.
Sebastian could see police cars speeding away. “Thanks, buddy,” Sebastian said aloud so Tristan could hear.
“This is how I die,” Tristan said, looking into his rear-view mirror and seeing the huge trail of police behind him.
Sebastian, thanks to the wall padding, couldn’t hear the three guards patrolling the hallway and rooms quietly outside of his room.
“Bedrooms first,” Jones whispered, since the other guard was having trouble with the double doors of Elvis’s room. He jiggled the knob.
“Hide,” Sebastian said, seeing the handle shake. Jade slipped under the bed. Harper, along with Sebastian, went into the closet behind the other jumpsuits.
Jade noticed some items under the bed: there was a Celine Dion CD, which wasn’t made at least till the nineties, so she didn’t know how it had gotten there if the room had always been locked. Next to it was a VHS copy of Home Alone and car keys that said “Eldorado” on them.
Tristan, still driving down using the entire road and scaring traffic, pressed the truck’s touch screen button to release the chain.
The jet sprung off and gave the truck a boost of momentum as the jet came to a standstill. All the police cars had to slam on their brakes, trying not to crash into it.
The door of Elvis’s room was opened and the first thing that Officer Jones noticed was that the lights were on.
Stitch peered around the room with his gun. “I’ve never been in here,” Stitch said to Adams.
“Roth, you’re going to get in trouble for that,” Jones said as Roth held the samurai sword out in a ready position behind his head.
Sebastian hopped out of the closet and pressed the button to extend the shovel, punching Stitch in the face with it. Harper hopped out next and grabbed Jones’s wrist, twisting it and causing him to drop his gun. Then both Harper and Sebastian together pushed both of them into the closet, making their heads collide with the doorframe.
Roth swung the blade of his sword at Sebastian.
“Dude!” Sebastian ducked and the sword got stuck in the frame of the door. Harper kicked him in the chest and Roth was able to pull the blade out as he fell back onto the bed.
Roth went to swing again but both Sebastian and Harper held their guns out, aimed at him.
“Camille send you?” Roth smirked while he asked and lowered his sword.
“Shut your mouth, you,” Sebastian said, still aiming his gun at Roth while he helped Jade stand up.
“Let me help you, for a cut of the profit.” Roth leaned into whisper and Sebastian pushed him back. Jones and Stitch began to get up so Harper slammed the doors shut as soon as Sebastian, carrying Jade, made it out.
“Anybody got rope or something?” Sebastian asked, and he set Jade down so he could hold onto the door handles as the guards were trying to open the door.
“Here.” Jade handed Sebastian the lanyard that she had used with her fake ID. Sebastian wrapped it around the knobs tight.
In the closet, Jones used the weight of his body as he kept body slamming into the doors, but the lanyard was holding for the moment.
“You were willing to help them?” Stitch asked Roth. Roth didn’t respond but went to help Jones.
Harper, in the lead, went down the steps with Jade. She stopped at the rope to look through the windows at the door.
“Someone’s still out there,” Harper said, seeing a cop talking on his walkie-talkie as he stood next to Harper’s van.
“I found an alternative.” Jade held up the keys she had found under the bed. “It’s the lost keys to the Eldorado in the garage.”
“Yeah, it is.” Sebastian kicked the rope poles over, even though he could have just stepped over them.
Tristan pulled over on a side street in a dumpy suburban neighborhood. He was peeling off black stickers that made the truck look like it was painted black. Under the stickers, the truck was white.
Hearing the police cars coming, Tristan peeled the fake license plate sticker off. Revealing another license plate just as cars were coming into view.
He ran back into the truck and laid down in the backseat just as the police zoomed by.
Once they had passed, Tristan looked up and saw a black SUV parked ahead across the street. He noticed the license plate had the number combination “222” in it. As soon as he looked at the SUV, it drove off.
“They know,” Tristan said to himself. He was worried it was the Liberty and Muskets. Tristan started the truck and the radio automatically turned on. Randomly playing Michael Jackson’s song: “It feels like somebody’s watching me, and I have no privacy…” It’s chilling and eerie synthesizer beat startled Tristan so he turned off the radio. He then looked around the neighbourhood paranoid.
Making it to the garage, Sebastian looked back behind to see that the guards from Elvis’s room hadn’t followed yet.
Harper opened the garage door and Sebastian set Jade in the backseat of the Eldorado convertible while Sebastian looked for a gas can.
Jade inserted the key into the ignition. It fit perfectly. Harper flipped open the hood to look at the engine.
“I think we’ll have more than a gas problem,” she said. Harper motioned to Sebastian to look and see that there was no engine inside.
She looked over at the dark green Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
Moments later, Jade held onto Harper as they drove out of the garage on a motorcycle followed by Sebastian. Sebastian fired his gun at the guards trying to exit the back door. Adams, Roth and Stitch shut the door to avoid getting shot. Sebastian and Harper drove right through the opened gate.
The police officer standing next to Harper’s van noticed the motorcycles. He stood confused, till he saw the three guards running out of the entrance to the mansion shouting at him.
Seeing the traffic lineup of cars exiting, Sebastian became worried. The police car catching up behind him was not helping.
“Follow,” Harper yelled, and pointed to the large gap in the fence where Tristan had driven the jet through. Sebastian kept up behind, swerving around parked cars.
Once through the gap in the fence and out onto the street, they noticed the slew of police officers and fire trucks around the jet down the street.
Sebastian’s eyes widened at seeing all of the law enforcement. “We’ll go the opposite way!” Sebastian yelled over to Harper to follow him.
He looked back. The police officer that was at the mansion wasn’t following along because he’d gotten stuck behind the traffic of exiting guests.
A few hours later, the Sour Cherub tow truck parked in an abandoned town. Tristan, sitting in the front seat, had the headlights aimed at the crumbling structures of what was once a thriving small town off a small freeway heading west
A blinding light flashed through the windshield, waking Jade and Harper up, who were sitting in the backseat.
“About time,” Harper commented. Sebastian watched a limo drive slowly towards them. He held in his hands the backpack containing the skull of Elvis.
“Stay, for safety’s sake,” Sebastian sternly said to Jade. He handed the backpack to Tristan so he could get a grip on his handgun. Harper, Tristan, and Sebastian slowly stepped out onto the cracked cement road.
A man exited the limo. He had curly hair and was wearing a suit jacket; then a woman in casual dress got out behind him. Exiting from the driver’s side was a beefcake-looking bodyguard who carried an Uzi-type gun in his hand.
“Camille,” Harper said to the woman. Listening in, Jade recognized the woman.
“This is Ken. He’ll be checking out the skull,” Camille said, as she pulled out a laptop from her car. “If it’s good, we’ll make a transfer of money right here.”
Sebastian eyed over the security guard and showed him his gun. The guard raised an eyebrow.
Harper handed the skull to Ken.
“First we’ll check for chips, since I’ve noticed them in some other celebrity skulls,” Camille said. Ken took a round silver magnet out of a briefcase and waved it over the skull. A lower jaw tooth broke off and attached to the magnet.
Camille took it off to see the blinking chip. Sebastian looked at Harper, worried.
“This is new. You didn’t put a tracking device in here, did you?” Camille asked.
“Nope,” Harper replied calmly.
“Continue,” Camille said, and Ken took a life cast of Elvis’s face next and placed it up against the skull, trying to line it up.
“Well, it doesn’t fit,” Ken said.
“To be fair, there’s no skin,” Sebastian reasoned.
Ken turned over the skull. “Hmm, cavity. Multiple,” he said.
“Well, if it is him, it is a male skull, which would ruin our ‘he was a female transvestite’ theory,” Ken reminisced. “This is a little older than he was, age-wise.”
Camille took out a baggie with hair in it, and Ken began to pour liquid inside. He scraped some dead skin off the skull and put it in one vial. Both vials turned different colors.
“It’s not a match,” Ken said bluntly, and Camille closed her laptop.
“You think we replaced it?” Sebastian asked.
“No. I think we just confirmed he’s still alive,” Camille said, and sat in the backseat.
Sebastian stood, furious, as they drove away, leaving the skull in Harper’s hand.
“Don’t worry, I have other clients that may be interested,” Harper said, trying to look on the bright side.
“Willing to pay three million?” Sebastian began kicking at the sand like a child.
“What’s this transvestite theory?” Tristan asked, trying to block the car’s dust cloud from getting in his eyes.
Jade hopped over using a cane.
“Do you know who that was?” Jade asked, knowing the answer. She watched Sebastian punching the air.
“Camille Cameron,” Harper replied.
“I never took roles with her studio, because there were rumours that she murdered off her stars who starred in movies that bombed, causing her to lose money,” Jade said with intensity. “I’m pretty sure Camille murdered my actor friend Olivia.”
Sebastian was half listening. He moved closer to her and draped his arm on her shoulder. He was still angry but dropped his anger enough to comfort her. Mostly so she didn’t fall over as she was holding onto the hood.
“There’s one person who could authenticate that skull for us,” Tristan said, and the three others looked at him. “Peter Caspian.”
“You know who he is?” Harper said, shocked.
“Unfortunately.” Sebastian aimed his handgun at her. “We saw his name in your client book, which confirms that now. You been giving him tabs on where we are? I’ve seen his members giving us signals to know that they’re watching.”
“I would have no reason to. How did you know he was in my book?” Harper held the skull in the backpack and the other arm held up her gun, aiming at Sebastian.
“Because we changed our phones multiple times, checked the truck for bugs, and I’m still seeing random guys give me code signals.” Sebastian tugged on his ear as an example.
“Yeah, I saw a black SUV with the 222 in the combination when I was peeling off the temporary stickers,” Tristan added, looking at the white paint on the truck.
“He sometimes would pay me to scout out cemeteries, before he would have his members go in to rob it,” Harper explained. “What did you do to get on Peter’s bad side?”
Sebastian lowered his gun, having a feeling that she was telling the truth. “You know those guys who robbed his collection?” Sebastian asked. “That was us.”
“That was pretty dumb. I don’t know about the Camille rumours, but those guys would totally get rid of someone who screwed them over.” Harper said as she lowered her gun too.
“Call Peter to confirm. The longer you have that, the more we’re going to have police on us,” Jade said.
“Call him,” Sebastian directed Harper.
“He owes me,” Harper said, and took her phone out of her jeans pocket to dial.
Peter was in his hidden office, which was in a room in his Connecticut palace. He was sitting at his bone desk looking down at the fish swimming under the see-through floor of the lake below the house.
Peter saw his owl phone ringing on his desk. The mouth opened and closed and the tone made a hooting sound.
Peter picked up the phone.
“Hey, sorry to call late. This is Harper.”
“It’s cool. I’m a night guy.” Peter took a blood-cleansing supplement and a swig of water.
“You heard the news of what happened at Graceland?” Harper asked.
“Yeah.” Peter leaned forward in his chair. “I got a police visit, checking to see if my members had alibis.”
“The buyer we had stolen it for claims it’s fake. I figured you would have some secret knowledge to confirm if they were telling the truth.”
“Should have asked me before you started. I know for a fact that’s not him, because I’ve met him,” Peter said, and Sebastian kicked at the sand. “I’m pretty sure President Nixon forced him to be an assassin for a while since no one would suspect an icon like him would take out a target.”
“We’ll he did sing about the ghetto once,” Tristan commented finding it too crazy to be true.
“Did you steal it for Camille?” Peter asked.
“Yeah. How did you know?” Harper questioned.
“She had come to us years ago asking if we had it. I wouldn’t give her an answer unless she would let us see her collection, but she’s afraid we would try and rob her, which we would have.”
“That’s not what I wanted to hear,” Harper said, disappointed.
“I’ll give you a hundred bucks for it out of novelty.” Peter said as he swirled in his chair.
“Peter, this is Sebastian.” He took the phone from Harper.
“Deadman Sebastian? What are you doing with Harper?” Peter asked sounding really angry.
“Do you not already know?” Sebastian was confused since he and Tristan had seen the SUVs with the number combination and people giving them hand signals.
Peter quickly pulled up an Internet browser and looked at photos of the suspects. He could make out Tristan and Sebastian in disguise.
“Just so you know, we are at recovery skull thirteen out of twenty-six. Would have been faster if you didn’t cement all of them.”
“You want Camille’s collection added to that?” Sebastian asked, and Peter leaned forward in his chair.
“If we get it for you, you end the manhunt on us?”
Peter was silenced. “You have until we recover the skull you stole from us.” Peter hung up and looked at the news article. “That must be Jade.” Peter looked at the brunette suspect wearing a suit.
“I knew the rumours of her having secret collection are true,” Jade said, breaking the silence.
“Well, I’ll try and sell this. I can send you your cut.” Harper walked over to the motorcycles that were under a tarp strapped to the ramp on the tow truck.
“I wouldn’t drive around with that right now,” Tristan said.
“You were going to put a tracking device in Elvis’s skull so you could steal it back. We could do it again with another skull and get paid by someone who didn’t fake their death this time,” Sebastian said, and after hearing this Harper stopped taking the chain off the bike.
“Who would we steal?” Harper asked.
“Any of these people’s skulls she wants.” Harper held up her phone to the group still sitting in the truck located in the deserted and abandoned town. Dusty winds blew against the windows as the sun rose.
There was a photo on the screen of the phone which was a wall full of life-size face casts of various actors and actresses..
“What about Judy Garland?” Tristan pointed to the mask.
“I’ve been to that place, and it’s in a mausoleum. If you’re going to do this, there’s no reason to make more work. You should do it outside,” Jade said.
“Lucille Ball,” Sebastian suggested.
“Ah…” Jade stammered. “Can we not do someone who’s red-headed? Just personal.”
“We’re putting it back after we get the money and her collection,” Sebastian replied.
“No. We’ll do this one.” Tristan pointed to Marilyn Monroe.
“Her price for that one is $5 million,” Harper said, looking at a price chart on her phone.
“I’m down for that,” Jade said. “Don’t get me wrong, I love her, but her burial site has a lot of tourist visitors.” Jade opened her green laptop and set it on her lap. Her Internet connection was a little weak since they were in a rural area. The image search of the cemetery opened slowly. “It’s outside, which is what we want for an easy one.”
“Do we just hop a fence or something?” Tristan asked.
“I can’t remember, but she’s in this,” Jade pointed to a slab of cement crypt on the wall next to other rich and famous people.
“How public is it?” Harper asked, looking at the photos.
“It’s right out there,” Jade said.
“We might not have to sneak in at night,” Tristan said, and took Elvis’s skull out of the backpack, looking at it.
“Good, because the neighbourhood it’s located in is terrible,” Jade said, relieved. She reached into her purse and looked at the photo of the children in the mouse club photo. She folded it up and put it in the trash bag. “Maybe Jeremy was right and some spirit was just messing with me. But, I might get a chance to find out what happened to my friend. Was she murdered?” Jade thought.
At Love Moon Studios, a secretary walked with a package through the double doors of Camille’s office. Inside was a glass display case with props and wardrobe used in movies. One was dedicated to life casts of various actors and actresses.
“Urgent package just came.” The secretary handed the flat envelope to Camille before walking back out to her desk.
Camille took a pair of scissors out of a drawer and opened the envelope. Inside was a note: “You need to call me and make a cash deal, or tell the police you’re the one who has the skull of Elvis.” It was signed Knox Morgan and had a number on it.
Camille immediately pressed a button under her desk, and a big guard entered into the room. He had slicked-back hair with the sides shaved. He wore a suit and with a military-like posture walked up to her desk.
“Good morning, Alfie.” Camille handed him the letter and he read it.
“I’m not paying him, even if I did have it,” Camille explained. Alfie understood.
“Do you have a photo?” Alfie asked, and Camille typed into her computer the name Knox Morgan. The search came up with an arrest record, and news articles related to robbing skulls from graves in London.
“You remember him?” Camille asked.
“No, it’s just that I’m a… white guy…”
“This is a threat.” Camille waved the paper from Knox in Alfie’s face.
“I’ll just wear a mask in case anybody get’s the wrong idea…” Alfie said, taking the paper back from her.
Tristan parked the truck in the parking lot of Westwood Village Cemetery. It was not surprising to him that a large number of cars were already parked. They were near the entrance to the cemetery.
“So we’re here.” Sebastian looked at a map, scanning for the grave of Marilyn Monroe. “Over there.” Sebastian pointed to the back of a long cement block, which was the backside of a crypt. He looked to the corner end where the last crypt sat next to an abandoned construction site.
“Check out the front,” Sebastian asked Harper, who walked to the entrance.
Sebastian and Tristan walked like they were supposed to be there, over to the construction site, and hopped down to the dirt.
“So all the bodies are in there?” Tristan asked, and Sebastian felt the back of the cement wall quickly.
“We’re kind of out in the open here,” Sebastian said, looking at the parking lot.
“We could use a dumpster as cover,” Tristan suggested, since there was one nearby, filled with trash and construction material.
Harper walked over to Marilyn Monroe’s grave and saw a few guests already there taking photos. Harper tried to take a mental note of the distance. Her grave was just a square section on the marble wall with a plaque. Her casket lay just behind it.
Sebastian and Tristan walked back over to Jade, who was waiting in the truck.
“We’re going to need a big tarp and tent poles,” Sebastian said to Jade, who had her laptop open.
“Construction outfits too,” Tristan added, and Jade made a list while they talked. Harper, still at Marilyn Monroe’s grave, took a photo of the all of the square section graves in one shot.
Pierio was standing over the gravestone with Lisa Marie’s name on it. He was touching the bullet hole that had hit it when Officer Stitch walked up to him. A temporary tarp was over the grave hole, with police tape around it.
A pale person wearing a complete burka and sunglasses stood next to the tarp. They had a visitor’s pass and looked at Pierio. He gave them a head nod.
“They found the skull,” Ryan said, out of breath, hurrying over to Pierio.
“Where is it?” Pierio asked quickly.”
“It’s buried in the grave of Roy Orbison. Yeah, your motorcycles and suits are there too,” Ryan said.
“Suits?” Pierio first thought, then said, “Get the cemetery manager on the line to hold those. Tell him we’re coming over.”
011:11:00 Hours. Liberty and Musket’s Building.
Peter Caspian opened a package as he stepped into the secret ‘bell room’ in the basement of their lair. It was full of Nazi memorabilia, a pair of skeletons positioned to be dueling with swords. Mannequins were also displayed wearing robes of past members.
Passing the bar full of vintage alcohol, Peter stopped in front of the display case with a few human skulls inside. They had the name of the person and death year marked on the foreheads.
Peter opened the package in his hand to see the skull was “John Hanson“ from the marking on its forehead.
“Good to have the real first President of the United States back,” Peter said to himself as he kneeled down to place it in a glass vile and put it next to the other skulls in the display case.
Peter shut the case and felt an itch on his leg. He lifted his pants up to see that he had bumps on them.
“I’m getting them back as fast as I can!” Peter shouted. Referring to the skulls.
A classic looking radio with dials that sat on the bar counter, had a static sound coming out of it.
Peter walked over to the bar and poured himself a glass from a bottle of 1982 Yamazaki Malt. He looked at the display case to see his reflection. His head perfectly lined up next to the skulls as if he was in there with them.
“Fair enough Peter,” a deep male voice came from the radio.
“Thank Elder,” Peter replied.
Camille’s guard, Alfie, walked up to the receptionist at a hotel. He slapped down a photo of Roth, the Graceland guard that was British, black, and had the trimmed beard.
“Can I help you?” the clerk asked, confused.
“He still here?” Alfie pointed to the name scribbled under the photo: Knox Morgan. Alfie looked at the news on the TV on the clerk’s desk.
The news story was of the Elvis returned items at the Westwood Village Cemetery.
“Yeah, that just happened,” the clerk said.
Alfie walked away from the desk.
Jade watched as a small crowd stood around the grave of rock music legend Roy Orbison. There were the two stolen Elvis motorcycles, two jumpsuits, and a “do not touch” sign. A few TV stations were doing a segment on the recently discovered stolen items. A few police officers stood around trying to keep them at a distance from the grave as a TV station was doing a segment.
Jade, setting her wheelchair next to the grave of Peter Falk, texted Sebastian about the police and a black SUV with men in suits behind the police cruisers as they drove through the cemetery.
Sebastian stopped helping Harper and Tristan setting up a tarp tent behind the crypt in the construction site. He read the text from Jade and sighed. The three were in construction uniforms.
“Jade thinks the feds just arrived,” Sebastian said.
Harper, with the help of Tristan, threw the tarp over the poles, creating a shelter that went all the way down to the dirt.
“So we do it now,” Harper said, taking a drink from her water bottle and then setting it against the wall.
Jade, listening to music through headphones, decided to move to a grave over so as to not look suspicious. She didn’t notice that at the entrance, Knox was now wearing a hoodie covering his head and jeans. He walked into the cemetery and headed for the group around the grave.
“There’s no way Elvis’s skull is in there,” the cemetery caretaker complained to an FBI agent. “There are no markings anywhere.” The caretaker got down on his knees and showed that the grass had not been tampered with. Knox overheard them as he neared.
Sunlight reflected off Jade’s wheelchair and the momentary glare stopped Knox. He looked over to see Jade, but she was wearing a different wig this time. Knox, thinking it might be Jade, headed over to her. There was a blanket covering over the color of the chair.
“You’re not going to open the grave unless the family okays it,” the manager said.
Jade, with her headphones on, couldn’t hear the footsteps of Knox. She just moved slightly over to the next tombstone.
Sebastian quickly carried the drill gun into the tent and a car alarm went off, spooking Sebastian.
He tried to ignore it but it just kept going off, so he looked over to where the sound was coming from and when he saw the car, it went silent.
Knox, holding his gun in his pocket, lightly grabbed Jade’s shoulder and Jade, thinking it was Tristan messing with her, turned her head. She flinched when she recognized it was the security guard from Graceland.
Knox could recognize small details even through her disguise. “Gentlemen do prefer blondes,” he quipped, looking at her wig.
“Got this over there.” Tristan said as he set up a sign outside the tarp that read: “Caution, Men at Work.”
“Good,” Sebastian said, watching Harper set up a projector. After connecting to her phone, she enlarged the photo she took of the front of the crypt. She lined up the square sections to the cement wall so it looked exactly like the front.
“I think that it should be just a little bigger.” Sebastian said as he helped resize it so the projection lined up almost to be a perfect match.
Sebastian felt bad looking at the projection square of Marilyn Monroe’s grave marker.
Knox keeled down and whispered in Jade’s ear. “Are you staging this to get them to stop the investigation?” Knox asked.
“Can you talk in a lower tone?” Jade said, so no one nearby could hear.
“You’re going to have to give me a cut of what Camille gave you guys for Elvis skull, or I’ll notify them of your presence here.” Knox looked over at the police.
Jade, not sure what to do, reached into her purse. Knox stopped her.
“You will not mace me again,” he said.
“I need to make a call.” Jade reached for her phone.
“I’ll be back,” Sebastian shouted over the noise of Harper drilling into the wall since he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. Harper cut into the crypt, following the outline of the square of Marilyn Monroe’s grave marker.
Sebastian stepped outside of the tent to see the text. He looked at Tristan, who was throwing loose trash into the dumpster just to give an appearance of work being done here.
“Yeah?” Sebastian said, looking into the parking lot and seeing a few more tourists enter as he answered Jade.
“That Graceland guard with the samurai sword found us.” Jade spoke in a nervous tone.
Knox took the phone from her. “This is England’s greatest grave robber, Knox Morgan.”
“Who?” Sebastian ran over to the entrance and peeked inside, looking around till he spotted Jade sitting next to Knox.
“England’s greatest grave robber.”
“Self proclaimed?” Sebastian replied.
“I want a cut of what Camille will pay you. I’m not asking for the whole thing,” Knox said.
Sebastian was at the spot where actor John Cassavetes was buried. Sebastian waved his hand to catch Knox’s attention. “Come here,” he mouthed.
“I’m not going over there. I feel safe here,” Knox said, seeing him.
“I’ll call you back.” Sebastian hung up and ran over to Tristan.
Harper got through the first layer of cement and continued as sparks flew.
“We have a new problem.” Sebastian flagged Tristan over.
Now that she had cut through, Harper removed the projector’s image from on the wall. She pushed on the bottom of the square shape she had made in the wall and it collapsed, breaking into pieces as it hit the floor. She now had a hole where an elegant bronze casket used to be.
Tristan pulled Sebastian outside the tent. “We could give him the skull of Elvis, or another skull,” Tristan said.
“He’ll wonder why we’re just giving it to him,” Sebastian replied, thinking out loud. He noticed a car’s lights blinking and as soon as he looked over at it, it stopped.
“Help Harper,” Sebastian said. He handed his backpack to Tristan and took off running towards the crypts.
Jade looked at her phone to see a text. It said, “We’re getting the money, hang on.” Jade showed it to Knox.
Knox became relieved. “That’s what I’m saying.” Jade placed her headphones back on so she could ignore Knox.
With the help of Harper, Tristan reached in and pulled out the casket, setting it on the dirt. Harper used the stone cutter to break the locks.
Sebastian backed the truck up behind a crypt, and used the crane to help climb himself up onto the roof of the crypt. Hidden by tree branches, Sebastian peaked through them till he could see Knox pushing Jade’s chair.
“Dumbest thing I’ll ever do.” Sebastian lay in a crouching position and aimed his gun at the head of Knox. Sebastian then moved his aim to the grass around the police and FBI. Sebastian fired his gun three times at the grass. The crowd of people began to scream, and police fired their guns in the direction of Sebastian.
“Ah!” Sebastian let out a yelp and hopped on to the back of the truck’s ramp.
“Who was that?” Knox picked Jade up out of her chair and sprinted with her in the direction of the parking lot. Jade, slumped over the back of his shoulder and reached into her purse.
Tristan stood in awe as Harper slowly lifted the coffin lid. Tristan became nervous but relaxed, when he saw just the skeletal figure lying there, without clothes from decomposition, on the white fabric inlay.
“Your turn,” Harper said, and Tristan took the mini buzzsaw out of Sebastian’s backpack.
Sebastian sped the tow truck around the parking lot that surrounded the cemetery. He parked next to a street lamp, and watched as the crowd of people ran to their cars.
Pulling into the parking lot in a black SUV, Pierio saw the chaos of the crowds.
He watched them running and immediately noticed Knox, who he knew as Roth, since he was carrying Jade. Jade’s wig fell off, revealing her red hair and white streaks on her bangs.
Even though things were falling out of her purse, she took her lipstick and began to smear it over Knox’s face, all while trying to poke his eyes.
Knox bumped into a car, sending Jade smacking into its windshield.
“Ow,” Jade moaned, and saw the crack forming on the glass from the blow.
Sebastian sped the truck over, honking his horn to get the crowds out of the way.
Knox used his shirt to wipe off the lipstick. Jade hopped down off the car on one foot, seeing the truck coming.
Sebastian hit Knox with the front of the truck, sending him tumbling a few feet ahead. Jade limped as Sebastian opened the door to help her get in.
As he watched the scene play out, Pierio noticed the red hair and had a feeling he recognized the woman from somewhere. He began to flip through the photos of surveillance footage on his phone and, passing through the photos, he got to one of the truck towing the Lisa Marie jet. He compared the two photos and noticed they were the same, except for the white color and the license plate number.
“We need a pickup,” Tristan said into his phone as he peeked out from the tarp to see people running to their cars. Behind him, Harper held the skull of Marilyn Monroe in her hands.
With the coffin back in place, Harper was using a cement spray that shot cement over the walls. Tristan used a flat iron to smooth it out as she sprayed. Sebastian drove around the parking lot, following the circle back to the side with the construction area where the tent was set up. He didn’t notice Pierio’s SUV following close behind.
Tristan and Harper hopped up onto the ramp of the truck so Sebastian could keep moving.
Sebastian turned out onto the street and Jade opened the back window so Tristan could climb in.
Pierio began to follow from the side and pulled out his holstered handgun. He fired at them certain that they were the thieves.
“Is that Knox?” Sebastian asked, and had Tristan take over the wheel. Tristan turned down the shady street with homes that were a little run-down.
Sebastian got a good look at the face in the SUV; he saw the bald, goateed Pierio.
Harper held onto the crane so she wouldn’t fall off the ramp as Tristan took a sharp turn. Sebastian fired his gun out the window and Pierio slowed down to get behind the truck.
Harper was about to climb through the window when Pierio drove up onto the ramp and headed straight for Harper. Harper banged her head against the window with the impact of the car hitting the crane. Jade grabbed her arm and pulled her inside.
Sebastian fired his gun at the windshield of the SUV.
The bumpiness of the road caused the crane’s chain to fall down and slam into the windshield, shattering it. Pierio opened his door and got out while firing his gun at the rear window. Everybody in the truck ducked down as rear window glass fell on top of them.
“Give him the skull,” Harper said. “The one that was in Elvis’s grave.”
Tristan took another hard turn and the SUV disengaged off the truck, rolling down the road till it crashed into the side of convenience store.
“Hey!” Sebastian held up the skull that had been in Elvis’s grave, while Pierio held onto the tow truck’s chain so he wouldn’t fall off into the road.
“So you didn’t bury it in Roy Orbison’s grave?” Pierio asked to confirm.
“Is this what you want?” Sebastian asked.
“I assume that you already figured out it’s not Elvis?” Pierio said.
“Yeah. So are you going to take it?” Sebastian asked, holding the skull through the window. Pierio still holding onto the crane’s chain, grabbed it and then smashed it against the road. It broke into thousands of pieces as they traveled at an even higher speed.
“I just needed to make sure no one else figured it out,” Pierio said. He noticed Jade peeking out the window and instantly recognized her as the actress she was.
“We’re going to pay you back for your property damages,” Sebastian said, and Tristan pressed the button to release the crane’s chain. Pierio lost his balance with the new slack in the chain and fell off onto the street while letting go of the chain. The chain was now dragging behind the truck on the road as they drove, causing sparks to fly
Sebastian closed the window and sat in between Harper and Jade.
“Didn’t expect to get away with that,” Sebastian said, and looked back at Pierio as he brushed the dirt off himself as he stood up.
“You can cancel the dig,” Pierio told the caretaker of the Westwood Village Cemetery.
“Yeah, we are. Because we played back surveillance and at no time did it show someone disturbing the grave.”
Pierio looked over at some police, who were loading the motorcycles and jumpsuits into a trailer.
Knox was watching Pierio; he had been ducking behind his car. Pierio looked as two police officers snunk up and grabbed Knox by the shoulder.
“What? I can crouch behind an object!” Knox shouted as the police brought him up to Pierio.
“Heard you didn’t show up for your shift today,” Pierio said, as the police let go of Knox.
“Maybe I was going above and beyond my security duties,” Knox said as he brushed off his shoulders.
“All I know is I saw you fighting with the thieves. You weren’t working with them were you?” Pierio asked.
Knox, thinking of his next words, said, “Don’t you find it odd that they would just return everything? Could they have figured out that something wrong with the skull?” Knox asked.
“I don’t know,” Pierio was starting to understand what Knox was saying. He began to wonder if Knox already knew. “I think it was a distraction and something else went down here,” Knox said.
Pierio was relieved because that’s what he was thinking. “Flag over the caretaker,” he said.
The caretaker approached. “Is there any way we can take a closer look at what happened on surveillance?” Pierio asked.
Knox, about to take off running, felt another hand on his shoulder.
“Serious?” Knox turned around to see that it wasn’t a cop but Camille’s guard, Alfie. Alfie cracked his knuckles and smiled at him.
The gate at Camille’s Love Moon Studios opened, and Tristan drove the truck, which was now painted a purple color—towards the studio warehouses. It was only seven o’clock, but the place was deserted except for a few cars in the parking lot. Tristan looked at the water tower that loomed over the warehouses with the logo of a heart around a moon.
As Tristan was nearing a four-story glass building at the end of the warehouses, he saw that Alfie was waiting by the door for them.
Tristan parked. Then Sebastian checked his handgun, and Tristan handed him his own gun for Sebastian to check.
“I feel good about it this time,” Sebastian said, and Harper looked at the skull of Marilyn Monroe before she put it back in her backpack.
The three walked over to Alfie, who looked them over as they entered a large lobby with empty secretary desks and two elevators.
Alfie shut the door and closed the blinds. Sebastian looked up at a security camera; it moved till it was aimed away from them. The elevator doors opened and Camille stepped out with Ken, her authenticator.
“Can you only steal things if you have to also create a huge scene?” Camille asked, seeing the three. In her hands was a cleaned skull, which she set on the secretary’s desk.
“That’s what we do,” Sebastian said with a snarky attitude .
“Let’s see.” Camille motioned toward Harper, who opened the backpack to show her the skull.
“I’ll do the life-cast test first.” Ken, who was behind the desk, pulled out a life cast mask in the shape of Marilyn Monroe. He placed it over the skull. “Perfect fit,” Ken said, and Sebastian could tell Camille was pleased.
Ken then ran a magnet over the skull again. This time, since nothing popped out, he set it back down on the desk. “It is female and the age seems correct.”
“We videotaped it.” Harper held out her phone and played the footage, which showed Tristan and Harper breaking the locks on the casket and opening it up.
“Shall I do a DNA test?” Ken asked.
“I think we’re okay here,” Camille said, taking it from Ken. She felt the dead skin around the skull.
“It’s amazing,” Ken said, and Camille opened up her laptop.
“Just enter the bank account numbers and we’ll get the money transferred over.”
Both Tristan and Harper entered their account numbers and hit enter. The $5 million split into two accounts. Sebastian kept an eye on Alfie. Even though Alfie didn’t show it, Sebastian could see the gun’s muzzle peeking out from his leather jacket.
“Do you guys like this other one I got recently?” Camille held the skull up. She set the Marilyn Monroe one on the table next to it.
“Who is it?” Harper asked, not really caring.
“It was another skull hunter just like you people. I guess he had some notoriety in Europe. You might know him as Knox Morgan.” Camille said. Then, she suddenly smashed the skull against the floor. “But it all ended when he tried to blackmail me. I know Harper, who I trust, but I stress that you have been well paid and you will end up like Knox here if you return.”
Sebastian, Tristan, and Harper stood, mortified.
Camille walked in silence, carrying the skull of Marilyn Monroe with her. “Thanks for doing business,” Camille said. Alfie escorted them out.
Stunned, the three hurried back to the truck. Tristan started it up fast.
“Two skull smashes in one day,” Tristan said, starting the engine.
“I didn’t really think her collection was full of murdered people till now,” Harper said, buckling her seatbelt as fast as possible.
“Maybe those she’s been rumoured to have murdered are in her collection,” Sebastian said, seeing Alfie shut the door. A lamp connected to the building flickered, spooking Sebastian.
“I suggest you take the money. Are you just stealing it back for moral reasons?” Harper asked, and Tristan stepped on the gas to get to the gate exit as quickly as possible.
Bright lights flashed on the tarp against the crypt next to the construction site at Westwood Village Cemetery. Pierio, along with the police and the caretaker, walked over to the blue tarp.
“Yeah, we didn’t have any need for this. I don’t know why these people set it up,” a foreman wearing a construction worker’s outfit said, as he pulled back the tarp.
Pierio aimed a flashlight around the tented room and saw the tools the group had left behind.
“This yours?” a police officer asked the foremen, indicating the stone cutter and cement sprayer.
“I would have to check.” The foreman took out his cellphone.
“This looks new.” Seeing a half-filled bag of dry cement, Pierio looked at the wall of the crypt and noticed that it was a fresher-looking color than the rest, since it was less dirty than the majority of the back wall. “Who’s behind here?” Pierio asked.
In the parking lot of the old Roosevelt Hotel in downtown Hollywood, Sebastian set luggage into Harper’s rental car’s trunk. He looked up at the big flickering letters on the roof of the hotel which said ‘Roosevelt’.
“Thank you,” Harper said placing her back-pack in the front seat.
Standing on the ramp of the Sour Cherub tow truck parked next to Harper’s car, Tristan whined to Sebastian: “Now I need help.” He was leaning against a covered square shape object.
“You guys are going to really put your own safe into your room?” Harper asked closing the trunk.
“We had our bank accounts robbed last time, so… we’re just putting some money in here as back up,” Sebastian replied and pushed a wheeled cart over to trucks ramp.
Inside the hotel, Jade picked up a room key form the front lobby clerk.
“Hey, ah… where’s that mirror…” the hotel lobby clerk gave a sigh and replied before she could finish.
“The one that you see Monroe’s ghost in?” He asked.
“Next to the elevator on the lower level,” he replied.
Back in the parking lot, Tristan asked Harper: “What are you going to buy first?”
“Since I very much enjoyed those motorcycles we… borrowed from Graceland, I’ll be investing in one,” Harper said as Tristan secured the safe to the cart using a strap.
“How would you feel if we wanted to buy off your skull collection?” Sebastian asked Harper. He heard a loud horn in the distance and looked around only to see Jade coming out of the hotel towards them.
“I don’t know,” Harper replied, shocked.
“You’re set money-wise now. Do you really need them anymore? You’ll be free just to head off, and we’ll pick them up from the storage unit,” Sebastian said.
Harper thought about it.
“Hey, I got us a helicopter guy,” Jade said as she rolled up to Tristan. “I told him we’re filming for a movie. He’s not happy about doing it this late, but I said we’ll compensate him well.”
“Well done.” Tristan gave Jade a high-five.
Harper over hearing them said to Sebastian: “What you do to Camille better not come back on me.”
“It won’t,” Sebastian reassured.
Harper took the storage unit key off her key ring. “I’ll bill you for the skulls.” She smiled.
“Enjoy your retirement.” Sebastian shook Harper’s hand. She was overwhelmed by thoughts about what she was going to do next as she sat down in her car.
Sebastian’s saw a white SUV pull out of a parking space abruptly and slowly drive away. He began to feel anxiety and the SUV’s driver let out a loud honk as it drove away.
The next day, as the Walt D. Park in Anaheim opened, Pierio made his was to the ‘33 Restaurant.’
He inserted his key into the lock. He gave a nod of his head to the hostess at the desk and walked over to the elevator. Once inside, he inserted his key and the elevator descended. He kept calling Officer Roth’s number, not realizing he was really Knox Morgan. The number kept going to voice mail.
With no reply, Pierio walked out of the elevator and down to the tunnels, using his flashlight till he got to the country section. He could see empty rooms with paint covering up where the doors used to be. He used a key to open one door. Inside were a bunch of computer servers and one monitor sitting on a desk. He entered his credentials and a message popped up saying it would expire on January 14, 2016.
“I’m aware,” he said to himself. He entered the search file and a program popped up. BOL. He searched for Sarah Fall. A file came up with photos of a little redheaded girl from the eighties. He clicked on “find location,” and a live GPS map showed on the screen.
“What are you doing?” Thought Pierio. He saw that the location was Phoenix, Arizona.
Tristan kept ringing the doorbell of a dumpy home in a suburban area.
“We can come back.” Sebastian looked over at the driveway at the parked car.
The door swung open abruptly, and standing there they saw what appeared to be a man in his forties, which made his spiky hair and shiny purple dress shirt somewhat embarrassing.
“You the movie film crew?” he asked, while chewing gum. A little wiener dog ran around his legs wagging its tail. “Tucker,” He said as he reached out his hand for shakes.
“Tour guy?” Sebastian asked.
“I do tours,” he said cautiously looking over Sebastian and Tristan.
“We’ll take one please,” Tristan said and Trucker slowly opened the door to let them into the small house. Tristan petted the dog and saw an elderly woman watching a game show.
“You do private tours… so you choose the dress code…” Sebastian stopped talking and followed him into the kitchen. Tristan looked at the TV and heard the host give a loud cough. The host looked right at Tristan. Tristan was a little taken aback by that, since he’d usually had been having friendly encounters, but he hurried up to follow Sebastian anyway.
“It’s out here.” Tucker opened his back door and showed them the helicopter just sitting in his backyard next to his above-ground pool.
“We need to do this at night. Can you do that?” Sebastian asked.
“We probably also need to cover up the logo,” Tristan said, looking at the “Hollywood Private Tours” logo painted on the side of the chopper.
“I don’t know if I’m allowed,” Tucker replied. “I think there also are noise restrictions.”
Sebastian typed up a price number on his phone’s screen and lifted it up to show him.
“I’m sure I could get away with any citations if we fly off at seven p.m. Not my fault if it also gets dark by then,” Tucker reasoned.
And so it was. Seven p.m. came around, and Sunset Boulevard’s street lamps lit up as Tucker flew over the gigantic houses in gated communities.
“We’re coming up to your location, if you want to get your camera ready,” said Tucker. He looked out his window at the houses and spoke into his headset. It was loud inside the helicopter from the noise of the blades.
“Go.” Sebastian unbuckled his seatbelt and slid open the side door while holding onto a strap so he didn’t fall out. Tristan turned on his heavy-duty camera and switched on thermal imaging. Tucker flew over a large house with some interesting architectural choices; it had large glass windows and a pool with a fake waterfall in the backyard.
Camille was in her garage using a computer that was hooked up to an engraving kit. She was engraving the words “Marilyn Monroe” in a custom plaque.
“What is that?” Camille said aloud. Curious, she walked up the carpeted steps from her garage to her elaborate kitchen that had a Greco-Roman look with pillars to the ceiling and marble on the counters to the floor. She peeked out of the window to see a black helicopter circling overhead. There were no lights on except in the cockpit, so she couldn’t get any details.
“Am I up high enough?” Tucker asked Tristan. He could see Camille standing in the kitchen.
“Just keep circling around,” Sebastian said.
Camille, thinking it was just a routine police chopper, let it go.
Twenty miles away at the Roosevelt Hotel, Jade stepped out of the elevator on the lower level. She peaked down the hallway of closed hotel room doors, to see that nobody was around.
She got a frightened sense of excitement as she walked over to a mirror with a large wooden frame. There was no label on it marking it.
She double checked to look down the hallway to make sure no one was there since she felt she would be embarrassed if caught.
“Monroe are you there?” Jade asked.
A loud knock tapped on the ceiling causing Jade to look up. Not seeing anything she looked back at the mirror.
Before her in the mirror was Marilyn Monroe wearing a white dress. She was holding her cut off head in her arms. As she stood there her short white hair began to fall away. Monroe’s head quickly turned into a skull and her white dress and body began to rot.
Jade screamed and felt some one grab her shoulder.
“Don’t scream,” the man said as he turned Jade around to see that it was Pierio.
“Did you not see that?” Jade asked in shock as she looked back at the mirror to see no one there.
“No, but we need to talk,” Peirio said and held up a badge that read, “FBI Consulting.”
“Great,” Jade said and looked into the mirror only to see her own reflection.
In the sky across town, Tucker the pilot flew over Love Moon Studios. Tristan and Sebastian could see the Hollywood sign lit up in the distance.
“Scene two,” Tucker said, and Sebastian opened the door while holding on to a strap again. Tristan clicked “record” on his camera.
“Go a little closer,” Sebastian said, and Tucker lowered to get a better view of the warehouses while passing the water tower.
A guard posted at the security gate heard the sound of the chopper’s blades. He looked at the surveillance cameras on the computer monitor screen in front of him, but couldn’t see anything.
“We want to get a shot of the offices,” Sebastian said loudly to Tucker. The guard stepped out of the booth to look at the chopper flying over Camille’s office. He could only make out that the chopper was a black color.
“Something weird is going on,” the guard said into his walkie-talkie.
“That’s a wrap, Tucker, we’re good here,” Sebastian said. Tristan stopped recording.
“Did you find it?” Sebastian asked.
“I may have got something.” Tristan then tried to play back the footage.
As soon as they got back to the hotel room, Tristan and Sebastian quietly opened the door so as not to wake Jade. Turns out that wouldn’t be a problem since Jade was sitting awake on the couch watching TV.
“We got the footage,” Sebastian said, and walking out of the bathroom was Pierio.
“He knows everything,” Jade said, worried.
“Did you know where Marilyn Monroe’s skull is?” Pierio asked and held up his badge that read, “FBI Consulting.”
“Maybe, maybe not. We couldn’t put a tracking device on it since she checks for those things.” Sebastian opened up a laptop on the table and Tristan took out the memory card from the camera.
“We gave her the skull uncleaned. Assuming she has a collection, she probably has a stash of Dermestid beetles. They might be in the same area.”
Tristan put the memory card into an adapter, connected it to his laptop, and pulled up the footage. “We didn’t see anything at her house, but there were definitely some things at the studio.” Tristan began to look over the thermal imaging footage from an aerial perspective. He could see some images though the walls in the buildings, like the shape of the guard that was stationed at the entrance in the booth.
“That’s totally a hamster cage,” Sebastian said, looking at the footage as Tristan zoomed in on a section in the offices to see the heat signatures of three small heat shapes running around in a cage.
“You know what, let me take over,” Pierio said and then motioned for Sebastian to get up and he took a seat.
Pierio began to fast-forward the playback as the camera had been aimed around the studio buildings.
At a night club in downtown L.A., Harper took a big gulp of beer as she looked around at the crowd.
“You’re drinking like you’re celebrating,” a guy in a suit shouted over the music to her.
“I’m a tranny,” Harper said before she got a good look at him. She changed to excitement when she saw that he was the first attractive person to hit on her that night. He had short hair with stubble and a strong torso.
“What?” he said, not hearing her over the music.
“I am celebrating. Just got a new bike.” Harper took hold of the hand that he held out.
“I like bikes,” he replied, and Harper guided him to the dance floor.
She thought she recognized someone out of the corner of her eye in the crowd, but decided to let it go as the lights on the ceiling spun around, distorting faces.
Meanwhile, in their hotel room, Pierio gave a quick wave of his hand to Sebastian. Sebastian had been looking up boats for sale on his phone. “This is weird,” Pierio said, and Sebastian got up from the couch to see what Pierio was looking at on the laptop.
Tristan sitting on the couch was watching one of Jade’s movies the one she starred in as a space adventurer. He looked over at Sebastian getting up to go check the footage and then back at the TV screen since they didn’t need his help.Jade in the movie was wearing an astronaut’s costume, aimed her ray gun around a corner. Various slimy slug creatures began to climb onto her suit as she fired her gun at them.
Tristan noticed that in between Jade’s screaming, she looked right at him. She licked her lips. Tristan, flustered, looked over at Jade sleeping, then back at the screen.
Sebastian snapped his fingers at Tristan. “This is odd, right here.” Pierio pointed to the water tower. They could see that there was no heat around the water tower. “I think somebody is hiding something in there,” Pierio said, zooming into the footage. The walls were completely opaque and not see-through.
“Really, it’s kind of out in the open, though, for a collection like that.” Sebastian said squinting his eyes and thinking.
“The fence is electrified,” Tristan added.
“There’s also a control panel next to the wheel lock.” Pierio slowed the footage above the water tower for them to see a small computer screen.
“Did they confiscate our stone cutter?” Sebastian asked Pierio.
“I can get it back when I call my connections to check out the water tower.” Pierio took out his phone.
“No,” Sebastian said, and looked at Tristan.
“We can get you Marilyn Monroe back, but the collection we sort of already made plans for,” Sebastian said.
The dancing was getting a little hot as it began to include a bit more close contact in the club for Harper. She felt a hand on her shoulder and turned around; it was Peter Caspian. Harper jerked her shoulder away, not expecting him, and Peter pointed with his finger, meaning he wanted to talk away from here.
“You okay?” the guy Harper was dancing with asked her. He then pushed Peter Caspian back a little bit to give Harper space.
“I wouldn’t do that.” Peter smiled and shook off the push.
“I’ll be back.” Harper said as she followed Peter off the dance floor over to a table.
“What are you doing here?” Harper asked.
“The Cherub boys are about to get me Camille’s collection.” Peter then reached into his suit jacket.
Harper could see that a little distance away by the bar was Saul in a suit, and then even a little further down was Rebecca.
“They found it?” Harper slurred her words. “Hmm.” She took a drink from her beer.
“I came to you first, since I doubt these guys would have done any of this without you,” Peter explained.
“They robbed you,” Harper laughed and Peter didn’t look amused by that statement.
“We usually do these skull thefts as rituals for our club. However, there are some around the world we want, but would rather pay someone else to get,” Peter said, eyeing Harper to let her know that he was serious.
“No, I sold off my inventory, man. I’m out of the biz,” Harper said as she stood up, bored by the conversation, and Saul meanwhile walked over to sit back down.
“Hey,” Harper said, shaking him off, and Peter grabbed her jaw making her tense up from the unexpected aggressiveness.
“The choice has already been made for you,” Peter said as he stood up and motioned for Saul and Rebecca to follow him. “You’ll reconsider faster than you think.” Peter walked with Saul and Rebecca out of the club.
Harper, too far out of her frame of mind to care what he had gone on about, looked over at a table of people laughing. She became jealous of them because as she was now alone.
Tucker flew his chopper over the water tower at Love Moon studios stealthily with its lights turned off. Two ropes were dropped down to the platform and a third long one went almost all the way to parking lot next to the water tower.
“That’s not scary,” Jade commented to Sebastian while looking over the edge as he threw out ropes tied to the helicopter to the platform.
“Better not miss.” Sebastian laughed at Tristan, who looked nervous.
“If the collection’s not there, I’m calling in for a police search,” Pierio said to Tristan and Sebastian. “I care more about recovering a collection or Marilyn Monroe than your lives.” Pierio then took off his headset.
Sebastian held out a hand to seal the deal with Pierio. Pierio shook it.
“I got you, buddy.” Sebastian grabbed onto the longer rope and hung over the ledge, sliding down at a high speed. His gloves were starting to get a little hot from the friction.
The guard posted at the booth heard the blades of a helicopter in the distance. He looked at the surveillance cameras, but couldn’t see where it was. He quickly grabbed his flashlight and stepped out of the booth to the electrical box. He opened the case and flipped on all the lights that had been turned off.
Tristan and Pierio, wearing large backpacks, grabbed onto their ropes and slid down the platform.
Making it safely, Sebastian had to jump down the rest of the way, and landed in a crouching position. When the bright lights from the street lamps came on, Sebastian hid behind a car.
Spotlights on the water tower lit up, so Pierio and Tristan ducked down to lay flat against the wall of the water tower.
Jade attached another large backpack to a rope and it fell to the platform.
The booth guard saw what was happening and began to panic. He took out his walkie-talkie to call for backup.
Sebastian pulled his gun from its holster and looked up to see Jade pulling the ropes back up into the chopper as it flew away.
Pierio climbed up the ladder to the roof of the water tower quickly. Tristan took out the stone cutter and handed it to Pierio. Tristan set the propane tank on the platform and turned it on.
Pierio looked at the control panel that was next to the large wheel lock. He pressed the touch screen and the words on it read, “Insert code to turn off alarm.”
Pierio began to splice into the computer panel, damaging it, and then started to cut a circle around the wheel look.
Pierio finished cutting the circle, and he let the metal fall down into the water tower.
“Here.” Pierio handed the stone cutter back to Tristan. Pierio aimed his flashlight around inside the water tower and a look of horror came over his face.
“What do you see?” Tristan asked.
“I was right,” Pierio said.
There were only three parked cars in the lot, but Sebastian ran along the fence around the studio and hid, ducking behind each car. His goal was to get to the booth guard. He could see a security squad car coming this way. He couldn’t see how many, though.
Since the squad car was heading towards the electric fence around the water tower, Sebastian began to fire his gun at its side. The driving guard began to swerve and crashed into a parked car.
Sebastian took this diversion and ran over to the booth. He holstered his gun and looked inside, where he saw the booth guard talking on the phone.
The booth guard dropped the phone and Sebastian leaped up and held onto the doorframe. He swung and kicked the guard in the chest. The blow sent the man crashing into the computer monitor. Sparks flew as he damaged the screen.
Down below in the security booth: “Hey,” Sebastian said as he grabbed the booth guard before he could throw a stapler at him.
Sebastian slammed the guard’s head against the desk and the guard fell to the floor unconscious. Sebastian hearing the sound of gunfire, he then pulled back out his gun for protection.
Sebastian’s heart skipped a beat as Alfie opened the door. Sebastian threw the chair at him, causing Alfie to close the door and let it break as it hit. Alfie opened the door again and Sebastian was now missing. He noticed that the guard booth’s window was open.
Tristan leaned over the towers side, cutting the ladder to keep from reaching the top, when a guard nearby fired his gun up at Tristan.
“Screw it.” Tristan, not wanting to get shot, dropped the stone cutter and ran back over to the ladder.
Pierio felt a sadness as he climbed down the ladder. Tristan slid down next, watching Pierio aim his flashlight at all the skulls in the display cases that went around the water tower in a complete circle. There were plaques under each skull. It was a complete collection; there were skulls from the early days of silent film stars to screenplay writers and even directors.
“I don’t see Monroe,” Tristan said, looking around at the skulls.
“This one doesn’t have a plaque and it hasn’t been cleaned yet,” Tristan said, and took out his phone. He played the video footage he’d taken of Harper and him opening Marilyn Monroe’s grave. “It’s a match,” Tristan said, studying the details of the skull and looking at the teeth, eye holes, and nasal cavity.
Tucker, hovering the chopper in the air at a distance from the studio, looked at the fuel gauge. They were at half a tank.
“We might have to go back to get refuelled on gas,” Tucker said into his headset to Jade. Jade looked out the window at the studio. She felt her phone vibrate; it was a text from Tristan saying, “Found it.”
Jade texted back to ask if her friend Violet Lakes was there.
“Also, tell Peter he better hurry if he wants these,” Pierio said to Tristan. He was taking video footage of the skulls with his phone when he saw Jade’s text pop on the screen. He saved the video and sent it to Peter.
At the club, Harper began to notice strange things happening around her. She saw the other club members pulling on their earlobes, or touching their hair in a strange way. She stepped out of the bar and heard a loud cough from a man who was smoking a cigarette. Harper hurried over to her new motorcycle and started the engine.
Two street lamps went out across from her, and a car alarm sounded in the distance.
Harper took her phone out of her purse and called Jade.
“Hello?” Jade still in the chopper with Tucker saw that was getting a call from Harper.
Tucker in the pilot’s chair of the chopper, had been looking out over the city of Burbank, when noticed the gas tank was getting low.
“It’s a little hard to hear you,” Jade said answering.
“I think Peter put a curse on me or something,” Harper said, stopping at a red light to speak into the phone.
“I hear you, but we found the skulls,” Jade yelled, and Harper pulled over. “We’re waiting for the Liberty and Muskets to show up. I will call you back.” Jade couldn’t hear what Harper said so she hung up.
Harper clicked on the GPS built into her bike to see how far the Love Moon Studio was from here.
“I’m coming!” Harper thought as she sped down the street.
Sebastian hopped over the fence to get back into the studio, sneaking over. He fired his gun to get the attention of the guards that were trying to open the fence to get up to the water tower. He looked over at Alfie, who was helping the booth guard stand up.
Sebastian fired his gun while he ran in the direction of the warehouses till his gun made the “out of ammo” clicking noise. “Not good,” he said quietly. He sprinted into Warehouse 8 as bullets flew nearby at the door.
“Leave the gate open for the police,” Alfie said to the booth guard, and looked at Warehouse 8 since the door was open.
Back at the water tower, Tristan and Pierio hid their backpacks in the display case drawers and waited. Unbeknownst to them, the two guards that were climbing up the ladder were armed. The ladder shook a little from the weight, since Tristan had made a little bit of a cut into the ladder’s bar.
Jade, able to see them coming from her position in the chopper, texted Tristan.
“I didn’t cut the ladder,” Tristan said to Pierio, and showed him the text from Jade about the guards coming.
Pierio fired his gun through the wall and made a hole. He could see that there was a layer of cotton which had been blocking them from seeing in. He fired another hole so he could peek out.
Alfie slowly walked into Warehouse 8 through the open door to see all the lights turned off. He flipped the switch and the gigantic room full of film sets was illuminated. At the bar scene, Alfie looked over and Sebastian began to chuck glass bottles at Alfie.
Alfie, getting hit by them, let them fall as he ran towards the bar. “Those are supposed to break on purpose, idiot,” Alfie said, furious and unharmed by the safety glass as he hopped over the pool table and fired his gun at the bar counter.
Sebastian ducked down behind the counter and reloaded his gun after taking a few rounds out of his pocket.
Alfie reached his hand over the bar counter and fired randomly without looking. Feeling like there was no way Sebastian could survive that, Alfie peered over, expecting to see his opponent’s corpse.
Then he noticed the set background didn’t go all the way to the floor, so there was an opening for Sebastian to roll out.
Alfie ran behind the set and saw Sebastian sprinting down a large recreation of a New York street. The other guard from the booth, now with a bloody nose, caught up to Alfie.
Sebastian looked over the edge and noticed the booth guard had climbed into a vehicle that had a crane for filming high shots and was driving on the fake New York street in his direction.
Sebastian fired his gun at the vehicle’s windshield. The driver, who was the booth guard, swerved till Sebastian stopped firing to save some bullets.
Wind blew against the helicopter as it hovered, and Tucker got more nervous as he watched the gas meter drop some more.
Jade looking out the window saw two police cars and a fire truck speeding down the street towards the studio.
“We’re going to have to come back,” Tucker informed her, concerned.
“Just be quick,” Jade yelled, watching the studio in the distance as Tucker turned the chopper around. She could see a freckle-faced guard climbing up the ladder to the water tower. Pierio, peeking out of one of the holes he made, used the other hole to shoot a warning shot near his feet.
“All right, all right!” The freckle-faced guard waved his hands in the air and grabbed hold of the ladder to climb back down. He noticed the propane tank and had an idea as he was descending.
Pierio kept watch and felt secure enough to look away since the guard was down.
“Peter’s almost here,” Tristan said, looking down at his phone and seeing the text message. Pierio went to go look back through the hole when the freckled guard fired his gun at the propane tank.
He held onto the ladder as a small explosion erupted and blew up the section of the tower with the logo of the Love Moon. The shock wave destroyed a wall of skulls and sent Tristan and Pierio crashing into a display case.
Outside the water tower a few streets over flew a black chopper containing Peter Caspian, Saul and Rebecca. Peter saw the explosion.
“Should we still continue?” the pilot, looking back, said into his headset to Peter, who was buckled in next to Saul and Rebecca. A large crate was at their knees on the floor.
Peter looked at the police cars driving through the gate of the studio. He gripped the seat, thinking of his next plan. He reached into his jacket and took out his phone to re-watch the footage of the skulls in the text Tristan sent him. He looked over some of the big-name skulls.
“If we don’t get them now, they’ll get confiscated.” Peter said as he reached under the seat into a duffel bag and pulled out three black robes. “Hoods up.”
Sebastian climbed up the scaffolding connected to a fake office building in the fake New York inside the water tower. It had plastic windows and went three stories high. The back walls were removed and instead had a blue screen in place.
The booth guard fired his gun but kept hitting the poles in the scaffolding as Sebastian crashed through the plastic window into the fake office furnished with realistic cardboard cut-outs of office cubicles.
Sebastian looked back out the broken window to see the booth guard trying to climb up the scaffolding. During this, Alfie was missing.
“I’m over here!” Sebastian yelled as he pushed a cardboard plant in a vase out the window of the office building.
Sebastian heard a ding and noticed the elevator doors open. He ducked behind a cubical and was ready to fire his gun, but no one came out of the elevator.
“Alfie?” Sebastian called out and crept down the cubicles with his gun raised. Nearing the end of the set, which was a blue screen wall, Sebastian looked over and saw that there were steps all the way from the bottom to get up here.
Alfie, crouching down behind a cubical, grabbed Sebastian’s foot and pulled him to the ground. Sebastian lost his balance from the unexpected motion and dropped his gun.
Alfie stepped out from behind the cardboard cubical and Sebastian kicked him in the face, sending Alfie’s huge body weight slamming into the fake cubicles.
He smashed right threw the cubicle wall and the fake desk behind it.
The booth guard climbed through the broken window and fired his gun at Sebastian.
Sebastian hopped down over the edge of the set, leaping onto a staircase. He could see the next level of fake cubicles and ran until he then made it to the first floor, a fake lobby.
There were wooden supports holding up the sets on the right side, and Sebastian began to stomp on them.
With the wood breaking, the third floor began to lean, sending Alfie and the guard flying across the room and against the plastic windows. The windows began to lose their strength and bend as the cardboard set pieces began flying and piling up on Alfie and the booth guard in the process. Sebastian could see their faces squished against the plastic windows.
“Heh,” Sebastian murmured, and took off running back to the warehouse door.
Police cars circled around the electric fence at the water tower. The freckled guard hanging onto the ladder had to move down; the wind of the helicopter was too strong as it began to lower to the platform. The breeze it created also put out any lingering flames from the explosion.
Peter, along with Saul and Rebecca, wore the black robes with the hoods pulled up over their heads. They looked into the hole in the water tower.
“You couldn’t have packed them?” Peter asked in a rush.
He stepped off the chopper and over the railing around the water tower so he could get on the platform.
“Peter,” Pierio said, shaking the dust off his clothes from the explosion. “Oh, hey, Elvis,” Peter said seeing Pierio
“What? You’re Elvis?” Tristan asked Pierio, confused, as Saul lowered the crate to Rebecca. He hopped down and together they carried it through the hole.
“Let’s get going here,” Peter said and Elvis didn’t look pleased with Peter.
Down below the water tower, Sebastian shut the Warehouse 8 door. He looked to see the bright flashing red and blue lights coming off the police cars. He saw the helicopter and assumed it was Tucker’s.
Sebastian looked over as someone riding a sleek motorcycle with pink neon lights on the sides sped into the lot. It was Harper, and seeing Sebastian, she drove over to him.
“What are you doing here?” Sebastian asked Harper.
“I said I wouldn’t work for Peter, and some really weird things have started to happen to me,” Harper said. The light above Warehouse 8 went out in front of them.
“Like that,” said Harper.
“Really? That’s also been happening a lot to me recently.”
“It started right after I told Peter I wouldn’t do grave robbing for him.”
“That makes sense. For me it started after he found me in Walt D. Park.” Sebastian looked at Camille, who was driving over and getting out to talk to the police.
“We need to get the cops away from the water tower,” Sebastian said to Harper.
“Like what?” Harper asked.
“Hey, what’s happening here?” Camille, who was furious, got out of her car to ask a police officer she saw standing around.
“There was an explosion and—”
Camille interrupted the guard. “What are you going to do about that?” Camille pointed to the helicopter.
“Awaiting orders,” the officer said. He saw the other guard who had been on the ladder run through the fence to talk with a police officer waiting for him.
“This collection might be a little more impressive than ours,” Rebecca said picking up Monroe’s skull.
Saul and Peter, also taking skulls out of the case, placed them in the crate while Elvis and Tristan watched.
The freckled guard on the ladder began to fire at the bottom of the helicopter. The pilot, feeling the bullets pierce through the floor, swerved away from the water tower.
The freckled guard got in a shot that hit the blades and the helicopter began to spin out.
“Back up!” the head police officer on the scene shouted to the other police officers as the helicopter began to fly down towards the ground.
“NO!” Sebastian shouted, thinking that Jade was in the helicopter. Harper grabbed at him as Sebastian who was going to run over.
The freckled guard climbed up to the platform just as the helicopter hit the ground and exploded on impact.
A shockwave hit the side of the water tower, bending the structural support. Everybody in the water tower started to slide a little on a slant because the tower started to lean.
Peter saw the guard holding onto the railing so he wouldn’t slide into the hole. He took out his gun, which had human bones carved into the shape of a hilt.
“You killed my pilot, who I just met,” Peter said and shot the freckled guard in the head, causing him to lose balance and fall over the side to the flames below.
Aiming his bone gun at Pierio and Tristan, Peter said, “We’re going to need a new ride.” He then closed the crate.
“Let me… make a call.” Tristan took out his cell phone.
Harper held back Sebastian as he tried to run toward the scene.
“Camille will see you!” Harper said, trying to calm him down.
“Who’s that?” Sebastian stopped, seeing another black helicopter line up with the railing.
It was Tucker’s chopper and he kept steady.
Jade opened the door of the chopper to see the hole in the wall of the tower. Peter pulled down his hood so Jade could see it was him.
“Out you go.” Peter gave her a hand to help her get out. Jade lost her balance as her feet met the platform, since she was wearing her cast. She slid slowly on the tilt, and Tristan helped her up.
Sebastian could tell that it was Jade from the bright lights and was instantly relieved. They watched Saul and Rebecca carry the crate inside and place it onto the floor of the chopper.
Peter looked over the edge at the firemen using the first truck to put out the raging flames rising up to the water tower.
“Elvis first,” Peter said, giving him a hand up. Peter went to shut the door once he was inside, but Elvis stopped it from closing.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“This collection is pretty great, but we actually came for you,” Peter said, aiming his gun at Elvis. Elvis ducked from getting hit from the bullet and charged at Peter, slamming him against the wall making the weight change and shaking the chopper for a moment.
“They can’t leave us here,” Jade said to Tristan.
“I know.” Tristan thought frantically, trying to decide what to do. He pulled up his sock to reveal his gun, strapped to his ankle. He pulled out the gun and tried to aim it at Peter.
“Come on.” Tristan walked with the gun and helped Jade move towards the chopper.
“Go.” Saul aimed his gun directly at Tuckers head.
Rebecca fired her gun at Tristan and he ducked. Tristan fired his gun but ended up missing and hitting Elvis in the side of his chest.
Elvis let go of Peter and sat down in a seat. Tristan, in shock, dropped his gun and watched as Tucker flew the helicopter away.
Bullets from the police below began to ping against the platform, so Tristan slid with Jade back into the water tower.
“Almost forgot,” Tristan opened the cabinet to see the two large backpacks. “Put one on,” Tristan directed.
The chopper was now a mile or two away from the studio and Peter felt pity as he watched Elvis bleed. Elvis took off his suit jacket to try and stop it.
Peter saw Elvis lift up the sleeve of his jacket and could see the bumps on his arms.
He lowered his gun. Peter pulled up the sleeve of his robe and suit to show he had them as well.
“These are mostly scars, but you can see why I had to lay low.”
“I heard you were like an assassin,” Peter said, and Elvis laughed but didn’t say no. There was a knowing silence between them.
“I still get paid?” Tucker asked with the gun still up to his head.
The water tower was getting a little hot from the flames below, so Tristan helped Jade sit up on a case. Tristan noticed his shoes were starting to have the rubber melt, so he sat on the case next to her.
He zipped down the zipper on his backpack to show Jade the skulls inside.
“We actually brought more skulls than Camille had in her collection, but I don’t think they noticed.”
“Was Violet—?” Jade bit her lip and Tristan zipped up his backpack.
“Yeah,” he said with empathy. “She’s in mine or yours.”
“All these years chasing her ghost, and here she was…”
“Wasn’t that a line you said in a movie once?” Tristan asked.
“Yes, but it applies.”
At the base of the water tower, law enforcement and EMTs stood around as the firemen were finishing the job of putting out the flames.
Sebastian snuck over to Camille and held a gun that was hidden with the help of Harper blocking the view, up to Camille’s hip.
“You want your collection back?” Sebastian asked and Camille slowly turned.
“Was five million not enough?” Camille clenched her fist but stood still.
“We were forced to steal them. We’ll tell you how to get them back if you make sure our friends get down without being arrested.” Sebastian pushed the butt of the gun a little harder into Camille’s hip.
An EMT rescue helicopter flew past Tucker’s chopper in the direction of the studio.
Elvis sat bleeding and looked around for a weapon. He noticed the parachute on the wall. He looked away, pretending he hadn’t noticed it, but Peter noticed.
“You going to jump?” Peter asked, laughing.
Elvis reached for the string and pulled the tab. Before Peter could react, the blast of the suit covered Peter and blocked them from seeing him. Elvis wrapped Peter in the parachute and slammed him against the wall. Saul and Rebecca aimed their guns at Elvis.
Elvis opened the door. The movement of the helicopter made the wind velocity attack Saul and Rebecca, making their hair go out of control and into their eyes. Elvis pushed Peter out to the Burbank street below. Saul and Rebecca both lowered their guns.
“Hey, hey,” Saul said, raising his hands as Elvis lunged at him.
“Yeah, we don’t really care about doing this,” Rebecca said.
“Plus, I’m like a huge fan,” Saul said. “One of my uncles is an Asian Elvis performer.”
“Hospital.” Elvis said as he sat down in a chair.
Peter was accelerating towards the middle of the street when he began to untangle his parachute. His body tumbled and rotated in midair. He got a good look at the street as he pushed the chute apart.
The wind picked up and made an air bubble, allowing Peter to grab onto and loose his rope. It slowed his speed, but Peter hit the ground hard, breaking both his legs. His kneecaps shattered.
Peter watched the helicopter fly away. After giving out a scream of pain, he took a breath, thankful that he wasn’t dead.
“Almost went up to the great Pacman in the sky,” he said, and laid his head against the road since there were no cars around and all the stores were closed.
The EMT chopper landed in a clearing near the warehouses.
Sebastian and Harper watched as EMTs helped Jade and Tristan step out. They limped over to Sebastian and Harper.
Camille walked over with a bruised Alfie, who was not happy to see any of them.
“I told the police we were robbed of some rare props we had stored in the water tower. Your friends were employees trying to stop them and got caught up in the mess. I suggest they come up with a good story when they’re going to be questioned about what happened,” Camille said.
“You know Caspian’s been after your collection,” Sebastian said and Camille gave a sigh.
“Now it makes sense. I shouldn’t have put myself on his radar.”
“I’ve been where he has his collection. I can give you a detailed map of how to get to it,” Sebastian said as Tristan helped Jade limp over.
“I expect that,” Camille replied.
“Violet Lakes was in your collection. Would you tell me if you murdered her like you did Knox?” Jade asked.
“Violet Lake’s was one that I had dug up. I know for a fact it was suicide. Something about how she began to see people on the TV talking to her, seeing ghosts, lights flashing off and on. Pain in the ears, being followed. She wanted it to end,” Camille said.
Sebastian, Tristan, Harper, and Jade stood there, stunned at the news.
“Then what happened to Roth?” Harper asked.
“Alfie just gave him a beat down. The skull I showed you was James Dean’s.”
“We didn’t see that in your collection,” Tristan said.
“I keep that in my bed… by my bed.” Camille became flustered.
“Yeah, you know about her suicide note, right?” Camille asked Jade, changing the subject.
“I didn’t think it was true…,” Jade realized.
Sebastian took out his cell phone and called Tucker.
“Yo, this is Tucker. Private flights in the lower—” Sebastian interrupted him. “This is Sebastian. I need to talk to Peter.”
“Are one of you Peter? It’s Sebastian.” Tucker asked, holding out the phone to Saul and Rebecca who were sitting next to Elvis. They looked at each other.
“He’s the one who got pushed out,” Saul replied. He unbuckled his seatbelt to take the phone.
“What do you want, Sebastian?” Saul asked, rolling his eyes.
“Some of us have been experiencing some weird things—” But before Sebastian could start, Saul looked at Rebecca.
“Yeah. I’m going to tell you, because it happened to me and I had to join the Liberty and Muskets to make it stop…” Saul paused.
“All I can tell you is that it’s not real. I would compare it to an illusion or hallucination,”
“What did you do to us?” Sebastian said getting worried as he held the phone on speaker.
“You truly believing what you are experience is real, will make it continue. Silence your mind, do not fear what you see or hear… You didn’t harm anybody that acted weird around you did you?”
“No,” Sebastian said as he heard a honk come from a car. He looked ahead at a police car and saw the lights shut off.
“Forgive them for they don’t know what they do,” Saul said hanging up.
“Saul? What did you do to us?” Sebastian yelled as he heard the dial tone. Sebastian looked at Tristan, Harper, and Jade who were confused as he was.
Tristan quickly opened the door to their hotel room and Sebastian flipped on the lights.
“Your friend, this happened to her and she killed herself to make it stop.” Sebastian paced around the room.
Harper and Tristan set the backpacks full of skulls onto the table.
“It started right after we met with Peter at the park,” Tristan said.
Sebastian tried to remember. He looked down at his leg and pulled up the pants fabric to see the cloth bandage around it. He ripped it off to see the stitched up bullet wound.
“The EMT used a needle to numb the pain,” Sebastian remembered.
Tristan lifted up his shirt to look at the cloth bandage he had covering where he was shot.
“I don’t know; that didn’t happen to me.” Harper flashed backed to the nightclub. She remembered the bartender, She watched in her mind as he used a bottle opener to take the cap off the beer bottle. She flashed forward to the man she danced with. She remembered lightly kissing him. She remembered being touched on the shoulder by Peter then, when he touched her jaw. “I’m not sure what it means. Like some kind of hallucination infection?” Harper asked.
“Remember Camille used that magnet on that skull we found. She said sometimes celebrities are chipped? That’s the only way I could see these things not being real, some kind 3d illusion like Saul said,” Jade said, starting to wonder if a chip had also been put into her.
Tristan turned on the TV. He began to flip through the channels till he found a news station. He watched the news anchor carefully but he wasn’t reacting like they had been lately. Tristan hurried over to his laptop and turned it on.
“If he chipped us, that’s how he knew where we were.” Sebastian pulled the cloth off his leg to look at the red blotch of dried blood with stitches. He poked at it.
“It’s not working anymore,” Tristan thought flipping through webcam models. They didn’t seem to notice Tristan. Usually they clicked off right when he viewed their cams. “Maybe because I know it’s not real like Saul said. Totally going to ruin the fun I had with Kelly in the Morning show for me now.”
“Hey, where’s the bag of cash we had?” Jade asked, opening the safe and seeing it was empty.
“We were only gone for a couple hours!” Sebastian pushed her aside to look in.
“They didn’t take our other stuff.” Tristan picked up his laptop off the table.
Elvis opened the door to the computer room in the utilidors under Walt D. Park. He sat down in the chair in front of the computer monitor and groaned a little from the pain in his hip where Tristan had shot him.
He pulled up Jade’s file and could see her location was currently at the Dana Point Beach in California, according to the map.
He clicked on a folder that said “photos.” He quickly searched through them till he saw a young photo of Jade. She was standing next to Elvis in the utilidors with the mouse club hat in her small hands. He clicked out of it.
He moved the mouse over to the folder called “live thoughts recording.” He clicked “delete” and then hovered the mouse over the “deactivate chip” command for a moment before he clicked it. Her GPS location updated from the Roosevelt Hotel to read, “no signal.”
“Quiet thoughts come floating down and settle softly to ground…,” Elvis sang.
At this same time, all the way across town in the Roosevelt Hotel, Jade once again gazed into the haunted mirror to see if Monroe would return. Nothing appeared before her, but she did feel a little better as her mind went silent.
In Philadelphia, Alfie was with two other guards from Camille’s studio. They knocked on the door of the Liberty and Muskets building.
Alfie gripped the assault rifle he had hidden under his suit jacket.
Peter Caspian was in a wheelchair in the boardroom when he heard the doorbell ring. The plain room had chairs and a table, with photos of presidents on the wall.
“Did one of you mix up Clark Gable? I’m pretty sure this is a children’s skull,” Peter said to Saul and Rebecca as he looked over the skull. Rebecca and Saul heard the doorbell as they were setting up the skulls on the table to examine them.
Peter checked his phone which had a surveillance camera aimed at the porch of this building. He could see the men with guns and Camille. Horror came over his body.
“Yeah, somebody put a tiger skull in place of Vincent Price,” Rebecca replied.
“Did Jack forget his key again?” Saul joked.
“Heh. That guy,” Peter chuckled. “Rebecca, can you go check?” Peter said. Rebecca got up. Once she left, Peter closed the door. An idea came over him.
“I’m going to need you to get out of here,” Peter said to Saul in a serious tone.
“Why?” Saul asked, sitting still.
“I need to know that you’ll take over as leader of the Liberty and Muskets.” Peter took hold of Saul’s hand.
“That’s not really a thing I want,” Saul said, and Peter nodded.
“I’m going to Elvis myself,” Peter said and scratched his hand, hoping it would be the last time since he would fake his death as well.
Only a few states over in New Orleans, Knox, with bruises on his face and clothing covering the other ones all over his body, opened the door to his hotel room. Smiling, he pulled back the curtains to look out at busy Bourbon Street below, full of singing and parades.
He walked back over to his bed and opened the duffel bag sitting on the mattress, gazing at the stacks of hundred-dollar bills inside.
“That’s why I’m England’s number one Skull Thief,” Knox said to himself. The white car Sebastian had seen in the parking lot of the Roosevelt Hotel, when he was taking the safe off the ramp, its driver had been Knox. Knox with his bandaged arms and bruised face from being attacked by Alfie, had watched Sebastian load the safe onto the wheeled cart that day.
Finally, at Dana Point, Sebastian, Jade, Tristan, and Harper stood looking out at the boats tied to the docks.
“I want this one,” Sebastian said, looking at a boat with a towing connection on the back of it.
“Let’s divvy up the cut again before you go off spending,” Jade said, tapping her crutches, and they all looked at the boat.
“You guys mind if I help you return those famous skulls?” Harper asked, longing to have some new friends. “I’ve got no plans at the moment.
Sebastian was about to respond when he heard a van door slam. He looked over at the parking lot where a black SUV was driving into the lot. Sebastian’s heart raced again till he saw the driver was just an old lady who got out with a small dog on a leash.
“That’s going to traumatize me for life… I’m never going to know if it’s a real threat or not,” Sebastian said.
Sebastian scratched his ear. He did it in a tugging way, but not on purpose. I wonder how many times when I unintentionally did something like this, someone thought I was doing it on purpose, like what happened to me,” he thought.
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GET THE SHOVELS OUT AGAIN The skull thief boys are back! Their last encounter with the the Liberty and Muskets cult didn't go so well, so this time they decide to lay low. They were going to retire grave robbing, but with a competitor offering them a chance to steal the skull of the king of rock ‘n’ roll, Elvis, for $3.3 million, it’s hard to say no. In the meantime, the boys try to shake off the Liberty and Muskets members following them, and Tristan starts to think the people on TV can see him. Actress Jade Diamond is also back doing a side thing, but she's not doing too hot, since she broke her legs last time. Anyway, join in for the action/heist sequel! (Free download read expires: 1/15/17)