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Mysterios Bood Relatives: Hard-boiled and Noir-esque

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COPYRIGHT

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the author.

© 2016 Christopher Leonidas. All rights reserved.

Editor: C. A. Morgan.

Cover Designer: Boris Dechovski.

Published by Christopher Leonidas.

ISBN: 9781310591884

Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author, and the author hereby claims any responsibility for them.

  • Table of Contents *

Title Page

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Epilogue

Review Request

Published Books

Upcoming Books

Social Media Platforms

About the Author

Chapter One

The bullet piercing Lucinda’s head was the last thing Detective Octa remembered before he passed out.

It had been a month now and pain, both physical and emotional, resonated through his chest in the place where Juan had shot him. He adjusted himself against the wall in the same room where his wife had died. The moonlight shone in through the open window.

I shot him. I shot my brother.” Octa thought he had heard Juan say those words before he had fallen down from the pain. He couldn’t remember hearing Lucinda screaming, but the moment the bullet came out of Juan’s gun and disappeared into her head had been carved into his memory forever. He had passed out with the last blurry glimpse of Lucinda’s slack face dropping to the side as the blood trickled down from the penny-sized bullet wound in her forehead.

Octa raised a hand and ran it through his hair, his eyes not straying away from the spot where he had been shot. Although the blood had been cleaned and all the ruined furniture from the room was taken away, the place still gave off the same deathly glow as it had that night. But, Octa reveled in it. Sitting in the empty room was doing him a world of good. At this point, he had lost everyone he cared about, everyone who had helped him find out exactly why his mother had been killed.

His partner, Bob, had been taken care of, but that was only because of Bob’s own mistakes. He had shown up at Octa’s home and taken advantage of his hospitality. Trying to kill his wife, Octa drown him.

Octa’s hand drifted to the wound site and massaged the skin around it absent mindedly as he took a still-painful, deep breath. Getting up, he took another deep breath and tried to calm himself. So much had happened, but he was still nowhere near solving the case of the missing children. Sure, it had been given to the FBI, but did the chief really think that he’d keep his hands off it? Especially with the teapots of blood present in every crime scene.

Octa didn’t want to stop. That man who had told him that night to get in through the window had saved him, but who was he? While leaving an Italian restaurant, II Gabbiono, someone came up behind him in a sudden motion and muttered, “Do not turn around.” The man was very close to Octa’s back. He pushed the muzzle of a gun into Octa’s spine, warning him, “When you go home tonight, use the windows to access your house.” Octa felt a surge of frustration go through him. Grabbing the nearest thing, Octa threw it against the wall. The glass and metal smashed and fell. Octa realized it was a photo frame of him and Lucinda he had just thrown.

“Damn it,” he muttered. He wanted to pick it up. Instead, he turned and left the room.

“Everything in this damn place reminds me of you.” He mumbled as he walked down the stairs and into the kitchen to look for something to eat. There wasn’t much left in the kitchen either. Everything had either been taken away as evidence, or had gone rotten. Giving up, Octa opened the fridge and took out a can of beer. Popping it open, he was chugging it down when something moved in the corner of his eye. Slowly turning, Octa’s eyes widened.

A person stood just outside of the open front door of his home, shrouded by darkness, as Octa had stopped using any of the lights in his house. Octa lowered the beer can as his other hand subconsciously moved for the gun on his belt.

Oh, my God! Octa thought.

The person had a heavy build and stood stock-still in front of the door.

Hand resting on the gun’s hilt, Octa raised his voice. “Who are you?”

The person didn’t say anything. Just stood there looking in as Octa’s mind raced.

Octa drew his gun and he pointed it at the stranger, ignoring the pain in his chest. “Who. Are. You?” he asked, menacingly.

Finally, the person’s shoulders drooped as if with a sigh. Turning, the stranger left the house, apparently unfazed by the gun pointed in his face.

Octa was bewildered. “What the hell was that?”

Keeping his gun steady in hand, Octa followed and saw the person walking slowly away from the house. Octa hurried after him, not wanting him to get out of his sight. It was as if the man didn’t care about being followed as he kept on walking a steady pace. Octa kept an eagle-eye out. There had been so many attempts made on his life that he didn’t want to take any chances.

The man vanished around a corner and Octa panicked, quickening his pace. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a fist whooshed out and whacked him straight on his wound. Octa doubled over, but not before he took a swing at the invisible force that had hit him. He didn’t hit anything. The pain was too much. He gasped as his lungs struggled to breathe.

A voice snarled in his ear. “I tried to help you. I let you live. I told you what to do and this is how you repay me?”

Another fist made contact with Octa’s jaw and blood rushed into his mouth.

“I took a real risk coming out and saving your ass. And this is what you do? What the hell is wrong with your family? Your father’s a killer, your mother was a whore, your wife was a slut, and you’re nothing but a failure that couldn’t even control his retarded brother? I should’ve known. And now look at what has happened. You’ve let your brother loose and it’s all your fault. Forget about the three-day rule! Had your relative not told me to not kill you tonight, I would have chopped your head off and put it on a spike in your front yard. I am tired of taking care of your messes.”

The man suddenly grabbed Octa’s hair and slammed his head against the ground. Octa tasted the sidewalk.

“Solve this. I’ll give your regards to you loved one,” the voice growled. A rough hand grabbed Octa by the hair and slammed his head on the ground again. A moment later, footsteps faded away.

Octa stayed on the ground a long time. His chest throbbed, and now his head hurt so bad he felt dizzy even laying on the ground. He wondered why no one had seen anything from around the neighborhood.

Slowly Octa got to his feet and realized that he had followed the man to the corner of a playground near his home. He was partially hidden beneath a tree and as it was God knows what time at night, it was highly unlikely that anyone would have seen anything. Octa searched for his gun. The man who had helped him before was now angry, presumably, because he hadn’t controlled Juan.

A month ago, the situation with Juan had gone horrendously wrong. Because of the noise, the neighbors had called the police, who had broken down the front door and gotten to Octa just in time to save his life. Juan was gone by then with the money he had collected from the house. It had been stolen by his greedy, gambling, useless brother. But Octa hadn’t told anyone anything. He hadn’t reported how he had heard Juan ask his bound wife for a ‘last roll in the hay’ before he had attacked Juan. For all the chief knew, this was a home invasion which had gone terribly wrong. As for Octa, it didn’t matter now whether his wife had cheated on him with his brother or not. She was dead.

He ambled home dazedly, trying to make sense of what had just happened. When Octa arrived home, he saw the front door was still wide open just as he had left it. He stumbled in, looking for the light switch, he realized that someone was standing in his darkened kitchen, holding his discarded beer can.

Octa froze. This was the last thing he needed tonight, another person who wanted to kill him or wanted to threaten him. But then the person shifted as if sensing that someone was standing behind them, and turned. Octa took in the image of a slightly older woman dressed in a conservative pantsuit. He stepped closer. The light from the neighbor’s porch was shining through the window. With fair skin, darkish hair and a lithe figure, she cast quite an impression, but then Octa noticed something, green eyes.

“Hello, Octa. You probably don’t know me,” said the woman. She had a raspy voice, the product of too many cigarettes, perhaps.

Octa shook his head. “I know you.”

The woman reached forward and extended her hand stiffly. “I’m Chelsea Cracker. I was your mother’s sister. I died two years after she was murdered.”

Octa had a headache. “But here you are.”

Chelsea Cracker slowly dropped her hand and smiled a sad smile. “But here I am.”

Chapter Two

Octa stared at the woman as his head started to clear. Something snapped in him.

“You died from cancer. How did you fake your death?” he demanded.

Chelsea Cracker sighed. “Perhaps we should sit down.”

Octa gestured to the seats near the island in the middle of the kitchen. Chelsea went over and sat stiffly, waiting for Octa to join her, with her hands clenched together in her lap.

Octa didn’t sit, but grabbed his leftover beer in the can and leaned against the island for support. He ignored the piercing pain in his chest.

“Go on. Tell me,” Octa said, taking a swig of his lukewarm beer.

Chelsea spoke. “Octa, you know why this was happening. You know what your father has gotten into. I had to get out before they got me too. My sister was dead. Her husband had vanished. You were just a child then, and so was Juan.” She didn’t notice Octa stiffen at the mention of Juan’s name.

“Your father and I didn’t quite get along, so you didn’t even know much about me. It was quite easy for me to vanish forever. I had my own sources, and I used them wisely. It took me those two years to finally wrap things up, and my plan went flawlessly. A friend covered for me and told everyone that I died a painful death from cancer and I was cremated.” Chelsea took a deep breath. “Octa, I did this for my safety. And you know that no one looks for you once you’re dead.” She said, looking down at her hands.

Octa observed her dryly. “Then why come back from the dead now?”

His once-dead aunt shivered. “Because I’ve been seeing and hearing about those dead children, and the connection with the stupid teapot filled with blood. I remembered what had happened with your mother, Molly. It’s not like I could forget. I knew about all the other detectives as well. I know that they all died within days of taking over this case, and now you’re taking it over as well. I had to come and stop you. I can’t let you die.”

Octa snorted. “Like your not wanting me to die is gonna stop that.” He crushed the now empty beer can with his hand and threw it away.

Straightening up from the island, Octa glared at Chelsea. “I’ve been hunted down far too many times. You being here isn’t going to make any difference to those who are out to get me. I know someone wants to kill me. I don’t know who, but I’ll find out. I know a lot more than I did before. I know how many people on the force are actually on the wrong side, and I’m not going to stop until I finish this thing.”

Chelsea stared at Octa.

Octa continued. “As for your concern for me, I was doing fine without it. I lost my wife a month ago, for Pete’s sake. I’m still standing, and I’m a lot stronger than you think, so you can get out of my life and die again for all I care.”

Chelsea remained silent as Octa’s breath rose heavily. He was frustrated now.

About fifteen days ago, Octa had tracked down Juan in a mental institution and had talked to him for only a few seconds on the phone. Octa had only said two words, “Get ready,” and after that he hadn’t contacted Juan. He already had a lot on his plate. Juan was placed there for mental evaluation after he murdered Lucinda.

His aunt stared at him, but he recognized pity when he saw it. Before he could say anything else, his aunt asked him. “Do you realize how much of an idiot you are?”

Octa made a face at her.

“You’re so angry over everything. You want to solve this case and yet you don’t realize that the biggest lead in this case is sitting right in front of you!” she exclaimed angrily. Getting up from the chair, Chelsea came close to Octa.

“You’re missing the other reason why I’m here. I looked at all the details in the newspapers. I read how the children were murdered, and now I want to stop this, because I know why these children are being killed. I don’t want any more of this,” she said passionately.

Octa cooled down quickly. She was right. He didn’t know the reason behind these murders. A serial killer was out there. Could it be his own father, who apparently suffered no guilt over killing people, as he had already done with to his mother. But even that case was so complex that he couldn’t make head or tail of it.

Taking a deep breath, Octa nodded. “You’re right. I’m sorry.” He looked down at his feet.

His aunt backed down, but he could still hear the sound of her rapid breathing.

“You want to tell me all about this, so tell me. I’m here,” he said, looking back into his aunt’s green eyes. The intensity in them softened at his words.

“Not here, Octa. I took quite a big risk coming here to talk to you. For all we know, you might be under surveillance, and by now, they already might even know that I’m not actually dead. We need to meet some place safe,” Chelsea said, looking over her shoulder at the same door through which Octa had spotted his mystery guy.

“You’re probably right. How about I find a place? Somewhere where it’s safe?” Octa offered.

Chelsea dismissed that with a wave of her hand. “No. You don’t know the safest places. I’ll contact you and tell you the details. I’ll find a way,” she said resolutely.

Octa nodded in agreement. They stood silently, looking at each other. Octa’s head spun with all these new revelations, but he still wanted to know what the mystery man meant when he mentioned Juan.

Chelsea suddenly raised her hand and slowly put it on her nephew’s cheek. “You know, you don’t look like either of them. Molly always wondered who you took after. It’s just a good thing that you got your father’s hair color and his stubbornness, otherwise we might have been in danger of him accusing Molly of adultery.”

Octa raised his eyebrows. Not the best of compliments, but it was a start. Removing her hand from his cheek, Chelsea cleared her throat and stepped away, making her way to the back door in the kitchen, which led out into the garage. She stopped at the door, with her hand at the knob.

Turning, she spoke softly. “I’m sorry about your wife, Lucinda. It can’t ever be easy to get over the death of a loved one.”

Octa shrugged. “It’s not.”

“At least you have me. So we both understand the nightmares the other has about the person who died so violently,” she said.

Octa was silent. Chelsea nodded her goodbye and gestured toward the still-open front door. “You have a visitor.” And with that, she was gone.

Octa turned just in time to see a police officer enter slowly, his hand on his pistol. He spoke loudly. “Detective Octa.”

Octa called back, “It’s alright, officer. I’m here.”

The officer visibly relaxed and Octa recognized him as the same officer he had spoken to when his childhood home had caught on fire.

Walking from the dining room into the living room, Octa looked back at the now-closed kitchen door.

The officer reached down, unsnapped his walkie-talkie, and said something in hushed tones. Placing it back, the officer spoke anxiously. “Sir, we need you on scene. The station tried contacting you, but you weren’t picking up, so they sent me over to check on you.”

Octa blinked. “But I’m on leave. The chief knows that, he said, annoyed.

The officer nodded quickly. “We know, sir, but it’s Chief Albany who wants you on the scene. She said that you’re the only one who would get any semblance of what’s going on over there.”

Octa paused. “How bad is it?”

The officer grimaced. “Let’s just say that with the serial killer whose butchering children for fun, we all thought we had seen everything. But apparently, we were wrong.”

Octa was curious. “Are we looking at a serial killer?”

The officer’s expression said it all.

Chapter Three

By the time Octa arrived at the crime scene, the whole incident had already become the subject of a media frenzy. Vans from numerous media outlets stood near the barricades as the reporters spoke above one another, reporting the scene as ‘a brutal bloodbath’.

Fighting his way in, he spotted the chief standing next to a member of a forensics team near the entrance of the home where the murder had taken place. The house was in a typical suburban neighborhood, which was why many were shocked that a murder had occurred there. He caught snips of conversation. “…How could no one hear anything?” “There had to have been someone—I mean, look at the state of that place. They must have screamed.”

Octa had had only take two or three step inside, when the chief spotted him. “I know you’re on medical leave, but this case requires your expertise, so thanks for coming.” Octa nodded as the chief motioned him to her, and where, at first glance, Octa balked.

For a second, the place was completely normal. Simple household furniture set modestly, a woman and a man sitting on the couch facing the television, but then the whole scene came into play. Firstly, the woman’s hair was completely stiff with dried blood. He spotted the blond tips of the woman’s hair, which hung down past her shoulders, but other than that, it looked as though someone had taken a comb and brushed the blood through it. Dressed in a white frock, the woman sat ramrod straight with her bruised hands in her lap, and all the blood apparently drained out of her.

The man, on the other hand, looked the worse for wear. Sitting beside the woman, he also faced the television, eyes swollen closed. His face was badly bashed in and blood caked around his wounds. Red-rimmed tears on his shirt indicated multiple knife wounds to the chest. His hands hung by his sides and lay limply against the couch cushions. He had borne the brunt of it all.

Octa realized that he had been holding his breath as he took the scene in, but then he noticed something missing. He turned to the chief. “The officer wasn’t kidding when he said that this was unlike what they seen, but the crime scene looks very clean of blood. Was the murder committed elsewhere?”

The chief grimaced and gestured toward the kitchen with her head. Octa’s eyes followed her direction and he spied the complete bloodbath in the room.

“So the woman was tortured here?” he asked.

The chief reluctantly took her eyes away from the kitchen and turned to face him. “Noticed the bruised hands, didn’t you? Yes, she was tortured here. From what we can gather, the couple was caught unaware. The back door was jimmied open. The woman was tortured first. Forensics thinks she died a few hours before the husband. He took most of the beating. Apart from the stab wounds, the actual cause of his death will be determined in the autopsy, because if you look at his neck, you can see the ligature marks. He was likely strangled before he was stabbed. I tell you, whoever did this is just sick.”

Chief Albany shook her head.

Octa agreed. This was scary, because the murderer actually took the time to place the bodies in a way that if a person were to walk by the house and happened to glance in, they wouldn’t notice a thing.

“But there is even worse news.” the chief continued.

That caught Octa’s attention. “What is it?”

The chief grimaced. “They have a child. A little boy. Caucasian, blue eyes, blond hair, eight years old. He’s missing.”

***

Octa ran his hand through his hair. He had been staring at the computer screen for twenty minutes and he still hadn’t written a single word for this case. Even though it had now become an FBI case because of the missing child, Octa still had to log in all the related details, but he just couldn’t bring his thoughts together. So much had happened in the past 24 hours. Hell, the past month, but he still felt like he was on a roller coaster ride that was starting and stopping after every little while. Sometimes, days would fly past so quickly, and now…

Octa took a deep breath, shook his head to clear his mind, and started typing. There was just something about this case that he couldn’t put his finger on, something familiar. The woman looked almost angelic in her white dress, but the bloody, sleek hair was unnerving. Octa looked down at his fingers and realized they were shaking. He stood suddenly and announced, “I’m going for a smoke.”

Hardly anyone looked up from their own files, but Mark, the officer who sat beside him, nodded absent-mindedly. Octa made his way to the staircase, opened the door, and started climbing. The staircase led to the rooftop and soon he was out in the fresh air. Taking the crumbled packet of cigarettes out of his pants pocket, Octa lit one up. He heard the door behind him open and a voice said, “You’ve started smoking?”

Octa turned and saw Chief Scarlet Albany standing in the shadows. Octa grunted.

The chief stepped forward slightly, taking care to stay away from the plume of smoke.

“I know you shouldn’t be here, but you always take care of the weird cases and this one was definitely right up your alley,” she said.

Octa looked away from the chief and out at the urban scenery. “It’s okay, chief. You needed me and I’m here. It’s my job.”

The chief raised her eyebrows slightly. “Good, because I want your full attention on this case. I know this year has been hard for you with what had happened with your mother’s case, Bob, and now your wife, but you need to do your job properly. I don’t want to hear any excuses or see any dodgy police work in this. We are cooperating with the FBI in both cases, so you know we have to maintain that as well.”

Octa threw the cigarette butt on the ground and ground it with his foot. “I know, chief. You don’t need to tell me.”

Walking away from the chief, Octa went back downstairs, grinding his teeth. I don’t need anyone telling me how to do my job. And I don’t need anyone’s pity so much that they try to justify why they need me to do it. Sometimes I just wish… Octa stopped in his tracks.

Memories flashed in his mind. He suddenly realized why the whole crime scene seemed so familiar. The woman sitting in white, her blond hair streaked with blood. His mind raced back to the moment Juan killed Lucinda. How her hair was brushed, pulled back. How her white nightdress made her look. Octa felt like someone had punched him in the gut. His chest tightened and he reached out to the wall to steady himself. Could it be?

Shoving people out of the way, Octa ran back to his desk, grabbed the photographs from the crime scene, and scanned through them. The autopsy report wasn’t in, but he knew she had been bound. Octa stared hard at the woman’s appearance. Her dress was frilly, her face slack. She didn’t look like Lucinda in any way, but with the hair and dress, this was exactly the scene that Octa had engraved in his mind. But this whole blood drain… what was it?

No, it can’t be. My mind is playing tricks. Octa threw down the photos and sat down, opening the case file, which had all the rudimentary details from the crime scene. Okay, so the man and woman murdered, kid gone, bloodbath in the kitchen… what else? His eyes zeroed in on the items missing. Apparently, the couple kept some savings hidden in a small safe under the bed. It was too early to know exactly how much money it was, but it seemed like a hefty amount. The money had been stolen.

His phone rang. Octa answered with his eyes still on the file. “Detective Octa speaking.”

“We’ve got a witness. Says he saw someone escape through an open window around midnight last night. He gave us a description of the suspect,” said the voice at the other end.

Octa nodded, “All right, good. What is it?”

Octa heard shuffling sounds on the officer’s end as if he was opening something up. “Ah, here it is. Well, according to the witness, our suspect might be in his early thirties, Caucasian, dark hair, lean build. The witness said that the man had a very rough face and there were even some scars. We didn’t get any specifics, but this is as good a start as any.”

Octa blinked hard. Scars? Dark hair?

The officer, oblivious to Octa’s panic, continued. “The witness saw the man around midnight, but the lights on the side of the house were on, so he got a good look. He said the man looked a bit freaked out. He had a bag with him, so I’m assuming he took the money. No word yet about the kid. The suspect also had, get this, red eyes, according to our witness. This probably means the suspect is a junkie who took too much substance and lost his mind. We’ll know more once we’ve finished the sweep, but this is a really lucky lead.”

“Yeah, real lucky,” Octa murmured, dazed.

A while later, after getting the news that the crime scene had been scrubbed and closed down, Octa decided he needed to know the identity of the suspect once and for all. What had that man said who had punched him senseless? “You’ve let your brother loose and it’s all your fault?”

Now he needed to know if this was exactly what that man had been talking about. Grabbing the case file, Octa hurried home so he could get a presentable picture of Juan in hand. Finally, after some searching, he was able to find one that was fairly recent. Octa noted down the name of the witness and went to see him.

The witness was a man named Henry, who lived only a couple of houses away from the house where the murder had taken place. As Octa drove, he noticed how deserted the whole neighborhood looked. The road, which had been crowded this morning with news vans, was empty now. The only indicator that something horrendous had taken place here was that of the yellow tape stretched across the main door of the house, along with a squad car posted there for surveillance.

He nodded in recognition of the officers in the car as he drove past.

Henry opened the door of his home as soon as Octa knocked, obviously anxious to speak to him.

“Detective, hello. Come in, please. Would you like something to eat or drink?” Henry asked as Octa sat down on the couch in the living room.

After declining all offers, Octa asked questions about the whole scene and Henry recounted his tale energetically, apparently thrilled that he was a part of such a big case.

“I tell you, detective, this is really horrible. I just can’t get the whole thing out of my mind. Had I not seen that person dive out of the window, I would not have known that something was wrong,” Henry said, looking a bit anxious. “I just hope I can help. Are there suspects you’re looking at?”

Octa snapped out of the funk he was in and nodded, reaching for the picture in his wallet. “We have a few leads,” he lied. Hardly any leads came up at the beginning of any case, but Henry didn’t need to know that. Handing the picture of Juan to Henry, Octa stared hard at the man for any signs of recognition. “This man might become a person of interest in this case, though. I need you to tell me if he resembles with the man you saw coming out of the window that night.”

Looking down at the picture, Henry’s eyes lit up. “Oh my God, yes. This is him. This is the man I saw.”

Octa’s breath left his lungs. “Are you sure? Look closely, are you absolutely sure?” he asked, moving closer to Henry.

Henry didn’t notice, as his eyes were still on Juan. “Yes, yes. This is him. Who is he?” Looking up, Henry startled when he saw the look on Octa’s face. “What’s wrong, detective? Who is this man?”

Octa didn’t say anything. Snatching the picture from Henry, Octa shoved it in his pocket and stood up. “Thank you for your help, Henry. We’ll be in touch shortly.”

Dumbfounded, Henry stood up as well. “Detective, how dangerous is this man? I mean, am I in danger?”

The detective turned, trying to calm himself down. “At the moment, he’s just a person of interest, but this case is a lot more complex than we thought. He didn’t see you, so I’m sure you’re not in any danger. However, I would advise you to keep this conversation to yourself. I don’t want any of this getting out there. Let me remind you, there’s no talking to the press, your friends, or even your family and wife, if you have one. Do you understand me?”

Henry nodded repeatedly. “I understand, detective.”

Taking his leave, Octa ambled off to his car, still in a daze. So it was true. Juan was the killer.

Chapter Four

Octa ran at breakneck speed, as the hail of bullets followed him, inching closer to him with every running step he took. The first bullet entered his back and the pain exploded, taking the power from his lungs, his heart, his bones. More bullets entered his back, thighs and shoulders as he fell forward, watching in a daze as his blood puddle around him and soaked into the ground he was lying on. The pain was too much, it was too excruciating…

Octa woke up, gasping for air. He was all right. He was still here. Rubbing his eyes, Octa straightened in his seat as he took in his surroundings. He was still by the warehouse on the east end of town and it was still night. His nightmares were still there, and the fact that his brother had now committed double murders was still certain.

Shaking his head like he was trying to shake the water out of his ears, Octa wondered why he was at this certain location, but then he remembered. He had just gotten back to the station, his mind racing with new information, when he had gotten a call from his aunt telling him where to meet her. He had tried tracking the number to see where she had called from, but it was untraceable. She probably had a burner phone.

Octa stretched and yawned, wincing as his wound pinched. It was one in the morning, according to the clock in his van. He had dozed off waiting for his aunt who had yet to show up. Now by the looks of things, maybe she had forgotten that her nephew was waiting for her by the warehouse, or maybe she simply didn’t want to come. Octa felt hugely betrayed.

Did his whole family need to be insane? Did they all need to go around killing people? Oh, he knew that his own actions hadn’t been so pure of late, but at least when he killed someone, it was either because he was provoked, or because they didn’t deserve to live. But what was his family doing? His father was a serial killer, who had now probably murdered countless people. Juan was out doing God knows what for whatever reason his mind was giving him, and his once-dead aunt was making him wait by an abandoned warehouse.

Octa noticed another change in circumstances around him. It had been a month since Lucinda’s death and no one had come to kill him. There had been so many attempts on his life before that he wasn’t able to sleep, but was now starting to feel tired. For more than a month, his life had been hitman-free.

“Not for long if my aunt keeps me here like a sitting duck.” Octa mumbled. Adjusting his seat, he wondered about leaving when he saw a faint light come on in the first floor window of the warehouse. Octa froze. The light shimmered through the dull window panes of the warehouse, and as Octa watched, he saw a shadow move against it.

Slowly opening the van’s door, Octa reached for his gun and pulled it out. Taking small steps, he made his way to the broken door of the building. Had he spoken too soon about the hitmen?

It was dark inside the warehouse, but Octa could still make out his surroundings, thanks to the small light on the first floor.

With soft steps, Octa found the stairs and climbed up, keeping his eye on the landing. He could see two shadows in the room, but it was hard to figure out whom they belonged. Finally reaching the landing, Octa stopped and observed the peculiar scene. Two people were standing near the light, talking to each other softly. Octa’s mouth fell open when he realized that it was his aunt and Detective John Intel.

***

Octa stared, trying to make sense of what was going on.

John Intel! What is he doing here? Octa wondered. John and his aunt still hadn’t noticed Octa standing at the top of the stairs, staring at them with disbelief. He couldn’t make out what they were saying, so he knew there was no point in creeping back down so he could listen to their conversation. Octa coughed, trying to make them aware of his presence.

His aunt turned, her expressions unchanged, as if she knew he had been there the whole time but simply chose to ignore him. “Ah, Octa. You’re here.”

Octa stowed his gun away. “You could have told me you’d arrived. I was about to shoot.”

John Intel, who had been busy searching his own pockets for something, grunted, “And we all know how much you like to do that.”

Octa grimaced. He didn’t have time for this. “What’s going on, aunt? What’s he doing here?” Octa nodded toward John. Okay, so he didn’t have anything against the old detective, but this peculiar scene had knocked him for six. He didn’t have time for polite chit-chat.

His aunt went to the small, propane lantern that was sitting on a table near the window and looked out. “John was the one who got me out of this mess.”

Octa snorted, And are you going to tell me what ‘this mess’ is?”

John grumbled, “So you’re going to tell him?”

Chelsea shrugged. “I have to, don’t I? After all, we were a part of it for so long.”

Octa folded his arms and waited. By now, John had gotten was he was looking for from his pockets, and pulled out a packet of cigarettes with a lighter. Lighting up a Marlboro Light, John leaned back against an old desk that was left after the warehouse was shut down.

Octa waited. His patience grew thin with every passing minute.

“Well?” he asked, feeling exasperated as he waited for one of them to say something.

His aunt took a deep breath. “What I am about to tell you won’t make much sense to you, but you have to remember that every step we took at the time was because we were too silly to realize what we were doing. We were… enlightened with this new world, all this new information and even though deep down, we knew what we were doing was wrong. We still went with it because it was expected from us.”

Octa held his breath. “Alright. Tell me what it was.”

Chelsea turned. “You might not know this, but your mother and I were very close. We were thick as thieves and everything we did, we did together, because that’s how we kept one another out of trouble.” She smiled a little. “It was around the time she met your father. He was a quiet man so it seemed very weird that your mother would go for someone like that. She was always talkative, always looking for ways to have fun and make others feel like they could cut loose and let their hair down. She was always that type of person.”

Octa noticed John intently looking at Chelsea, his eyes alert.

Oblivious to John’s glare, Chelsea continued, “It was around that time, when we met someone else as well. We were at a bar, all complaining about how getting a job was so difficult and I guess he heard us, because he came to us with a proposition which was too good to refuse. His name was Don Swanson and he had a job for your mother and I if we wanted it. All we had to do was take some envelopes from his office and deliver them to different addresses. Now, you have to understand, this was the 70s. We were still reeling from the energy crisis, and the budget was tight. Like always, those in the middle and lower classes were beginning to unravel because of the effects of the economic crisis. It seemed easy enough. Your mother was dubious, but I really needed money for rent, so I jumped at the task.”

“After a few months of delivering those envelopes, Don called me to his office. It was on the other side of town.” Chelsea noted Octa’s confusion. “So anyway, Don asked me out. Now, Don wasn’t even that old, maybe only 7-9 years older, so I said okay. I was twenty-one at the time.” Octa noticed the faraway look in Chelsea’s eyes and turned to John who simply shrugged.

Chelsea continued, “It was only after two months of being together that things started going wrong.”

Octa bristled. “Why? Did he abuse you?”

Chelsea waved a hand dismissively. “Nothing of the sort! You see, Don hadn’t told me what he did for a living, but he was well-spoken and very charismatic. He could get people to do whatever he wanted. We could get into the best restaurants, the best hotels and the best concerts. All he had to do was talk. But then I started noticing that at his office, a lot of people didn’t do anything. I mean sure, it seemed as busy as any other office, there were a lot of people coming and going, but there was never any actual work. A business name wasn’t even registered or mentioned.”

Octa gritted his teeth. She’s taking too long. What does she think she’s doing, reciting a novel?

“I started asking around for his name, his company. There wasn’t any internet back then, not the way it is now, so I couldn’t just log onto a search engine and find whatever I needed. I couldn’t find anything. So one day, I tailed him. I wanted to see where he’d go. I followed him to a place very close to this warehouse, in fact.” She looked around, as if realizing this now.

“It was an old house. Far off the main road. I parked in a hidden place and used my binoculars. I followed him there and that’s when I saw it.” Chelsea looked down, not meeting Octa’s eye. Octa felt his curiosity meeting its breaking point. Chelsea took a deep breath.

“The whole house, Octa, was like a fortress, or more like a safe house. There were people with guns everywhere. The fences were all made of barbed wire, which I’m sure were electric. And inside, there were people actually swarming toward him like he was a god or something. People were all around him, kissing his hands, staring at him with the same level of adoration I had seen in his employees’ eyes, and that’s when I noticed what seemed so odd. There weren’t any men there. Sure, there were the guards, but even half of those were women. Apart from that, all those who were roaming around them, they were all women. It was a cult.”

Octa didn’t realize that his mouth was hanging open. “You ended up dating a member of the cult?”

Chelsea shook her head. “The leader of the cult.”

“Then I saw where all the men were. They were standing near the entrance of the house, probably waiting to welcome him in, and that’s when I recognized the faces. Popular faces, political faces, people who probably had a lot of power and knew it. They were all part of the cult.” Chelsea looked nervously toward John.

Octa looked at them both. “So after that, you hightailed it outta there, contacted John and then he helped you vanish? Then this Don guy came after you, tortured my father, killed mother and ran?”

Chelsea looked at him sadly. “I was caught before I could run. I told you, it was all high security. But they didn’t hurt me though. They recognized me as Don’s girlfriend.”

Octa was wobbly. He ambled his way to the chair beside John and sat. For a second, he felt like he had heard the sound of scuffle downstairs, but spying a little rat tail disappearing from view, he relaxed, his eyes glazed.

“What happened then? Did he dare ask?”

“I was taken to Don. He was in the house, surrounded by all his merry men and women. There were even children there. They took me right behind him and that’s when I saw a man tied to a chair, and a woman standing behind him. She was torturing him. I only could hear a few of the things she said,” Chelsea said.

“And what was she saying?” Octa said, his voice echoing.

“Let go of your sins,” Chelsea answered. Octa looked up. Her expressions were unrecognizable, but she had a look in her eyes that reminded him of a memory passed.

The next second, all hell broke loose.

Chapter Five

John was the first to react as soon as the stun grenade hit the floor. Leaping toward Chelsea, he knocked her off her feet, taking her down just as the grenade exploded. Octa wasn’t so lucky. He had been thinking too much to even notice the grenade, and felt the full effect as his vision blanked out. He heard the trumping of booted feet coming up the stairs, and out of habit, he reached for his gun and aimed in the general direction of the sound. At the first sound of the gunshot, Octa dived down, trying to bring his thoughts together. He hauled the table the lantern was on and pushed, breaking the lantern and extinguishing the light. He could hear gunshots above his head, the assailants not making a sound, just firing.

He felt a hand on his neck as John hauled him up. “What use are you if you can’t shoot?”

That kicked Octa into high gear. Blinking fast, he tried to see who was in front of him in the darkness and saw three men, completely dressed in black with masks on, aiming their guns blindly. John aimed at the man closest to him and fired. The man crumpled as the bullet hit him in the face. The other two zeroed in on their location and the one nearest to the stairs raised his hand, speaking into a small mic on his wrist.

“We have them,” the man said calmly.

Octa felt stupid. They were hiding behind a table, for Pete’s sake, he had to do something. Grabbing the legs of the table, Octa lifted it and charged at the two assailants. Good thing it was dark, because even if they had night vision, they wouldn’t have expected Octa to react in this weird way. Charging at them, Octa pushed the table into them, sending them careening down the stairs. The table went with them as they bounced down.

“Come on!” he yelled to John and his aunt.

Rushing down the stairs, Octa felt something whiz past his ear and realized it was a bullet. “Get down,” he shouted as more men in black swarmed the old warehouse. Octa saw one of the shooters from upstairs stir and kicked him squarely in the jaw. Taking the man’s gun, Octa aimed for the shooters and started firing. So did John.

John then pulled Chelsea away from Octa. “There’s a back way! Octa!”

Octa fired into the corner where he knew some shooters had taken cover, and then turned, running for his life. He didn’t know if his aim had killed any of them, but he wasn’t going to wait around to find out. Suddenly, he realized something.

He stopped his aunt just before she could open the back door. “Wait. They’ll be expecting us to come out through the back door.”

Dragging her and John to a side window on the other side of the building, he opened it up and pushed her out. He could hear the shooters getting closer. Even the softest of their steps echoed throughout the warehouse. Octa fired in their direction again, keeping them at bay as his aunt ran for her car, followed by John.

Finally, Octa jumped through as the shooters started firing near his location, and together they ran. They ran for a long time, not looking back and finally John pointed to a hedge near the road. “There! My car is over there.”

Nearing the hedge, Octa spotted an old De Tomaso Pantera hidden behind the branches. Once a gorgeous ride, it hadn’t lost its appeal, but it hardly had any space for three people. Octa knew he’d have to run. He pulled open the door and pushed his aunt into the passenger seat.

“Get her to safety,” he instructed John.

John pulled the driver’s side door open and paused, “What about you?”

Octa looked back at the warehouse. He knew shooters were still hunting them, but he had to stop and see who they were.

“I’ll be fine, I’ll be safe. Just get her somewhere safe,” he said forcibly as John grimaced. Leaning down, he said to his aunt. “I know the story doesn’t just end here. This has something to do with that Don Swanson guy and I’m going to find out what. Don’t run away.” He said the last words menacingly.

His aunt glared at him, her eyes wide. “I wouldn’t dream of it.”

Slamming the door shut, he stepped back as John shut his door, started the car and swerved onto a dusty path off the main road.

As soon as the car was out of sight, Octa checked the gun to see if it had any rounds left. It did. He turned and crept back to the warehouse, keeping close to the shadows. Although they had run fast, he didn’t understand why the assailants hadn’t run after them. He was just nearing the warehouse, when he saw an unmarked van outside, it’s sliding door open. Hiding behind a large oak tree, Octa watched as several men walked in and out of the warehouse. They were pulling what seemed to be bodies into the van, not speaking a word. He could spy his van on the other side of the run-down building, untouched.

He counted a total of five bodies as the men piled them up in the van. So I did manage to hit some of them, Octa thought, feeling a little self-satisfied. With nothing more to do, the other men trooped out, and closed the building’s door behind them. He wondered how they’d found out that they were going to be there, but he needed to know who was sending them. Problem was, he knew he couldn’t get close to them. Closing the van doors, the men got in the vehicle and drove off, leaving two men behind.

Octa held his breath as the van raced past.

He followed carefully as they ambled off into the direction of his van. Not my van, Octa thought.

Pulling out his Glock, Octa gently placed the shooter’s gun on the ground and tread softly toward the men. The gun had no serial number. They had their guns slung on their shoulders and were speaking softly to one another.

Octa raised his weapon, making sure he didn’t make too much noise as they kept talking. One of them had pulled his mask up to his forehead so Octa could see his face. He couldn’t have been any older than his mid-twenties.

“I tell you, tonight was a close call. That guy was crazy.” Octa heard him saying.

The other masked man nodded. “Whatever. He’s not our problem now. We did what we were told to do.”

“I just wish we had gotten some backup. Henry wouldn’t have died if we’d had more backup.” The unmasked man insisted.

“Look, it doesn’t matter now. His sins are washed. He’s in a better place now.” The masked guy scratched his chin, “Besides, he should’ve known this would happen, him barging in like that. He should’ve expected getting shot with police in the room.”

“Father’s not going to like this.” The unmasked man looked up at the night sky.

The other man grumbled, “As if he likes anything these days. The reopening of that case has him rattled. He doesn’t like eyes on him, but the idiot is going around killing kids and all, and leaving those teapots. And for what? So he can give father a lesson?”

Octa froze. The case? How do they know about the kids and the teapots?

The two men had reached the van and were trying to open it. Octa stepped back, hiding in the shadow of the warehouse.

The unmasked man looked anxious. “You shouldn’t speak this way.”

The other man snapped. “It’s not like father can hear us. Stop being so afraid!”

The unmasked man rattled the passenger door, but it didn’t budge. “We won’t be able to move this van.”

The masked man stepped back. “Give me a rock. I’m going to break the window.”

Octa raised his gun at the man and stepped forward. “I don’t think so.”

Both men froze. Octa could see the unmasked man shaking. Hmm, must be a newbie in the cult, he thought.

Coming forward, Octa rested his gun against the back of the newbie’s head and grabbing his gun, relieved him of it.

“Now, gentlemen. I think it’ll be best if you don’t move. Otherwise, I’ll kill both of you,” he said, slowly patting the newbie down for any other hidden guns. Taking three from him, and tossing them out of reach, Octa moved to the masked man.

The masked man didn’t move, but kept his eyes on the unmasked assailant at all times. Octa noticed this, and growled at him. “Turn around and get down on the ground.” Obligingly, the man turned and knelt, his hands behind his head.

Going over to the other man, Octa gestured for him to raise his hand so that Octa could pull the gun from his shoulder. After relieving him of all his weapons, Octa made both men march to the side of the warehouse, their backs against the wall. He pointed two guns at them.

“Now, I will ask questions and you will both give me the answers I’m looking for. If I don’t like the answer, I’ll shoot you. If I do like it, I’ll shoot you. So either way, you’re going die. Better that you tell me why you’re trying to kill me so that I end up giving you an easy death instead of a slow and excruciating one,” Octa said firmly.

The young man nodded eagerly, while the other just stared at him. Octa gestured at the masked man. “Take that off. I want to see your face.”

The man raised a hand and took off his mask. He didn’t seem familiar to Octa. Just another face from the numerous faces he saw every day. Older looking, brown hair, blue eyes, common features, as if he had been made in a factory.

Octa asked. “Who is father?”

The young man raised his eyes. “He is father. We don’t know his name, but that’s what he’s always been to us.”

Octa turned to the older man. “Is he your father too?” Octa sneered.

“Unfortunately,” the man grumbled. Octa narrowed his eyes.

“Tell me,” he ordered.

The young man pursed his lips, staying silent. The wind whistled through the trees as the silence extended.

Octa shouted, “Tell me.”

The older man sighed. “Look, don’t blow your head up, okay? The guy’s name is Don, but we call him father because he is married to our mother. I’m not his biological kid, but he is,” he said, nodding toward the younger man.

“Father is very angry,” the younger man piped up.

“Yeah, I sensed that,” Octa said drily.

“Anyway, he sent us here to scare you. He doesn’t want you investigating this case. It will only open a plethora of other cases which are better off closed and cold,” the older man said.

Octa nodded. “And what did you say about the idiot? The man murdering children? And the teapot full of blood? What did you mean he was sending your father a message?”

The blood drained from the young man’s face and he gulped, looking at the older man hesitantly, who snorted. “What do you think? Your idiot father is killing everyone in sight, because he is sending our father a message.”

“And what message is that?”

The older man looked at Octa like he was insane. “The message, as in ‘look at me. I am trying to make you proud’.”

Octa felt puzzled. “My father is trying to make this Don proud? Why?”

The man looked away toward the road. “Why else do you think your father killed your mother? For fun? He did it because he had to prove that he wanted to be a part of the family, and for that, he had to kill someone who he knew had sinned.”

Octa shook his head. “Sinned? Wait, how do you know all this?”

This time the young man answered. “Oh, everyone knows this story back home. Your father killed your mother, because he thought she had sinned. He said that one of his sons didn’t look anything like him, and he knew that his wife had cheated on him. So he killed her for it. He proved that he wanted to be a part of our family by cleansing her of her sins.”

Octa gulped. This was ridiculous. How could any of this be true? he thought.

“Your father had to kill, because he wanted to live. This had nothing to do with becoming a part of your family. It was all about his cowardice.”

The older man interrupted. “Look, you may think we’re insane, but we’re part of a huge family. We look out for each other. Whatever father did, he looked out for his own. But your dad? He’s just a new kind of sick! Going around killing kids, and for what, to show father that he’s spreading the message forward? Father tried to help him. He had all those detectives killed! It would only take an idiot to note that so many detectives had died on the job, but father kept the FBI quiet. Had some twenty detectives killed for your father, and what does he do in return? Causes more trouble! If you ask me, father should have killed your rat-faced dad before—” His words ceased as out of nowhere a bullet whizzed right through his brain, killing him.

Octa stepped back in shock as another whizzed past and straight through the young man’s forehead. He dove behind the van. His gun raised, Octa stayed alert, looking for wherever the shot had come from, but there was a thicket of trees behind him, so he couldn’t see through with just the moonlight for assistance.

Octa breathed hard, his brain working in overdrive. He shouted, “This is Detective Octa. Come out with your hands up.”

He didn’t hear anything, neither was there any movement. The two bodies behind him bled, his shoes becoming drenched in their blood. “Come out with your hands up or I’ll shoot.”

Nothing happened. He waited in that position for ten minutes. Waited for another bullet to come whizzing by. Whoever it was, they were still out there. Octa tried to stabilize his breathing. And then he heard it. A tiny clink, as if someone had inserted a bullet into a rifle. Octa waited for his world to end.

Chapter Six

The time came and went. Octa’s mind had gone from dread to curiosity. He should be dead by now and yet here he was, with two bodies behind him and their blood under his shoes. It had been ten minutes since they were killed and now Octa was getting impatient. What was the shooter waiting for? he thought.

Cautiously, Octa moved forward. The bramble beneath the trees was too thick to make out much of anything and the moonlight wasn’t bright. Octa reached the edge of the road and looked around, his weapon at the ready. The shooter couldn’t have just disappeared into thin air. The shot had to have come from a height and no one could’ve come down from the tree branches without making some sort of noise. Taking a deep breath, Octa dived in, his brain alert.

It was still summer so even the leaves on the ground didn’t make much of a noise as Octa stepped forward. Whoever it was, Octa couldn’t even hear them breathe, and since this wasn’t much of a place that catered to different animals for shelter, Octa heard his fair share of silence. It was of no use, searching around in the darkness. If the shooter had wanted him dead, he would have died by now.

Octa needed to think quickly. Well, I didn’t shoot them. Their bodies can stay. Ballistics won’t match my gun. But my fingerprints on the one I put on the ground could be problematic, he thought.

Stepping back out of the trees, Octa retreated. He had to get away, but he couldn’t leave the bodies here. Suddenly, an idea came to his mind. A few months ago, there had been a case where a murder had been tipped off by a payphone by the side of the road not far from the warehouse, and they hadn’t been able to ID the anonymous tipper, because there was no surveillance on that strip of the road. Bingo!

Taking his car keys out of his pockets, Octa fumbled with the keyhole of the passenger side door, and finally managed to get the door open. Walking to the forest pretty much made him an easy target, but Octa still scrambled in while keeping the trees within sight, and when he was in his seat, he turned on the ignition and sped out of there.

Octa didn’t realize he had been holding his breath the entire time. Breathing out, Octa made his way to the payphone, and after making a tip that there had been some suspicious activity near a certain warehouse, he drove home.

***

Octa got out of the shower, rubbing an old towel against his hair to soak away the moisture. The tip was good. He had gotten a call from Mark, the officer who sat beside him, telling him about how the warehouse had been riddled with bullets from the inside but there were no shell casings, and that there was a lot of blood but no bodies.

Probably cleaned up after I was gone, Octa thought as his mind went back to the shooter. He had been there.

Octa needed to think straight. This entire incident had rattled him, but at least he now knew why there were so many people after him. And on top of that, there was the case of his brother. Now that was something he couldn’t understand at all. After Lucinda’s death, Octa had at least been happy when he had found out that Juan was in a mental institution, but now he needed to know all the details. It had been some time since he had last contacted Juan. Octa needed to know how his brother had escaped.

Going to his bedroom, Octa pulled out a t-shirt and clean jeans from the almost-bare wardrobe, all marks of Lucinda gone. He had given away all of her belongings to a charity after she had died.

He couldn’t wait for morning. He just needed to get to the institute and find Juan before he committed another atrocity, but right now Octa needed to rest. God only knew how long it had been since he had had a good nights’ sleep. But as he was too tired, maybe he could rest his eyes without thinking about all his nightmares.

Octa didn’t sleep in his room anymore, so taking his pillow, he ambled downstairs to the living room, where he finally flopped on the couch and laid down.

Just for a while… Octa thought, closing his eyes.

The next second he opened his eyes, it was daybreak. He had slept the whole night without even really dreaming. Maybe I should try this more often. Who knew near-death experiences could be so therapeutic when it came to fixing your sleep schedule, Octa thought as he rubbed his face in his pillow. Just then, his mind zipped back to his aunt and John. He had completely forgotten about them. He didn’t even know if they had reached home safely. That woke Octa right up.

His morning routine only took him a few minutes and soon he was on his way to office with a buttered slice of toast in his hand. Reaching the station’s parking lot, Octa searched for John’s car and sure enough, there it was in the far corner, neat and clean. Octa breathed a sigh of relief.

He was just getting out of the car, when suddenly he heard a noise from the station entrance.

“Back in the car! They are in pursuit of the suspect!”

Octa looked up to see Chief Albany running down the stairs with officers behind her.

Octa stood bewildered. “Which one?” he asked as the officers raced passed him to their own squad cars.

“The couple’s case. The one who killed that couple in the east neighborhood. He was working on killing another couple when someone looked in through the window. He ran out and took the couple’s car. We’re in pursuit on the freeway. He’s taken a hostage. Their child is with him. Go now,” Chief Albany all but screamed.

Hopping back in his car, Octa sped off after the other cars as they turned on the sirens and raced to the scene.

Octa gritted his teeth, “Damn it, Juan,” he yelled.

Some of the fleet was shortly on the freeway and soon, Octa saw the other police cars in pursuit of the Red Nissan Altima roaring down the road. Hell, there was even a chopper in the air. The chatter on the radio was going crazy; they were all trying to nab the driver without hurting the hostage, which meant they couldn’t use the usual tactics for stopping the suspect. The car hit 80MPH and was still accelerating.

Octa yelled as he swerved through traffic, trying to get to the front. His car was careening down the freeway with no regard to anyone else’s safety. The radio chatter noted down the car’s license plate, but they had no clue as to the identity of the suspect. Octa’s brain was going haywire. What would happen if they finally stop Juan? The chief would know everything and would then probably connect Juan to Lucinda’s murder.

With the car in sight, Octa stared in horror as the red Altima swerved, performing a 180-degree turn into the other lane and raced head-on into oncoming traffic. The cars veered off to avoid collision, but Octa knew with the speeds the car was travelling, he was soon going to hit someone. Then something happened. The suspect’s car slowed down.

Octa heard someone yell over the radio. “What’s the top speed on the Altima?”

Stopping by the side of the road, the passenger door opened as the squad cars swung to the other lane and slowed down. Suddenly, a child no more than eight, popped out, slammed the car door shut, and starting running away. The Altima took off and pulled back into Octa’s lane, speed rapidly increasing. One squad car remained so that the officers could get the child to safety, but the others mounted a rapid pursuit. Now they could stop the suspect without hesitation.

The chopper whizzed past the Altima. This was getting serious. They had been in pursuit for a chunk of time, and the whole freeway would be at a stand-still if they didn’t take care of this soon enough. Suddenly, Octa’s worst fears came true as he heard someone on the radio confirm the order to shoot the driver. The chopper sped forward and turned.

Although later Octa understood that there had been nothing slow about the chase, at the moment, he saw it all unravel in slow motion. He saw the side door of the chopper slide open as the squad cars backed off a safe distance. The man in the chopper readied his M16A4 rifle and aimed at the tires. He fired at the front, hitting the left tire. The rubber instantly shredded.

“Damn it, Juan! Stop running!” Octa yelled as the car only slowed down a little, but didn’t stop.

The driver was panicking and Octa knew it as the car swerved again, got into other lane and headed toward him. The chopper zoomed toward the squad cars, which were veering to the sides to avoid collision. Already the people in the civilian cars behind them were looking scared. Other people were swearing and milling around in confusion. The sniper in the chopper aimed and was just about to shoot again when it happened.

The shredded tires finally gave out, the car skidded, and flipped by the front. It rolled over violently, parts of the car flying into the air before coming to rest upside down and catching fire. Octa screeched to a stop and got out of the car. He ran toward the wreckage, his hand reaching for his gun. He was aware that other officers were running up with their own weapons drawn, along with a few carrying fire extinguishers.

Smoke rose up in the afternoon sky as flames engulfed the car. Octa couldn’t see anything inside, but he had to try to save Juan so he could kill him himself later. The officers approached cautiously as the flames increased. The driver’s side wasn’t visible, but Octa could see someone’s silhouette. He heard someone radio for the fire department, but paid little attention. All his concentration was on Juan.

The smoke and fire were too much. No one could survive in that. A couple of officers hesitantly moved ahead, spraying the car with the fire extinguisher. The driver’s side flames reduced a little and taking the chance, the other officer’s reached in and grabbed the body.

The man inside struggled and even with the noise, Octa heard his labored breath. His face was unrecognizable, but not unlike many of the other burn victims the detective had seen in his life. The man turned, grabbing Octa’s shirt and Octa saw his brother’s dark, bloodshot eyes stare back at him. His face was burnt too badly to be recognizable, but his eyes reminded Octa of his mother’s, even if they were bloodshot.

“My son! It was my son. Please tell me he’s safe,” Juan whispered hoarsely.

Octa’s chest constricted. “That wasn’t your son. You took him from his parents. You never had a son.”

Juan’s grip somehow tightened on Octa’s shirt. “All I did was for him.”

“You killed Lucinda,” he whispered.

Juan blinked. “I don’t regret it. I did that to try and save my son.”

Octa felt like someone had just shot him. Lucinda’s loss had been too much for him, especially as he had lost his daughter some time before, and now Juan saying that he didn’t even regret killing his sister-in-law.

Shoving Juan away from him, the other officers carried him off. Octa looked back at the car, now completely engulfed in flames.

Should’ve let him burn in there, Octa thought bitterly. Even with all the hatred Octa had for his brother, he was still his blood. Deep down, in a weird way, Octa had waited all this time for Juan to come to him, because he had wanted Juan to apologize for what he had done. At least then, Juan would have died by Octa’s hands with a clear conscience.

Suddenly, an officer called out, “We’re losing him.”

Octa rushed to the site where the officers were rendering what aid they could to him. Juan’s clothes were completely burnt and stuck to him, and Octa saw the agony on his brother’s face. His whole body shuddered, and with one last exhale, Juan stopped breathing.

Chapter Seven

“Octa?”

Octa startled, his train of thought broken by the Chief’s voice. He stared up at Chief Albany, who nodded toward her office and went away.

Rubbing his eyes, Octa stood up, grabbed his coffee cup, and walked off to the chief’s office. The chief was sitting behind her desk, her chin resting over her entwined hands.

“Sit!” she ordered.

Octa obliged. He wasn’t in the mood to talk. The image of his brother’s empty eyes remained as the highlight of the whole disaster. Because Octa couldn’t tell anyone that the man who was driving the car was his brother, he couldn’t get away and after processing it for over four hours, he was sick to his stomach. First, the fire department couldn’t get through, because of the backed-up traffic, which meant that as Juan lay there on the ground, dead, Octa had to divert traffic so the fire truck could get there.

As he was the lead investigator on the case, he had the job of writing the report on this latest development. An obvious victory as the murderer was now dead. The last victims were still alive and their son was with them, although all thoroughly in need of serious counseling.

I still need to go there and talk to them, Octa thought as he blinked hard, trying to clear his head. He noticed the chief gazing silently at him.

“Yes, chief?” he asked.

The chief lowered her hands to a file on her desk and pushed it toward him. Hesitantly, Octa took it and opened it. It was a report on DNA results.

“This DNA was taken from the crime scene of your wife’s murder.” she said bluntly. “It was difficult to get, though. This DNA was on the knob of the back door and matches a sample of semen that we took from the bed cover in your spare room.”

Octa looked down at the result. It was a Y chromosome test.

“We got this report after a month. You know the drill.” The chief shrugged. “Imagine my surprise when I found out that this DNA is a direct match to someone we already had in our system.” She raised her eyebrows. “Someone related to you.”

Snapping the file shut, Octa flipped the folder back on the desk. “Yeah, so? My brother jacked off in the spare bedroom and was around the house. Not really a big deal. After all, he’s my brother,” he said defensively.

The chief pursed her lips. Reaching back, she took another file and handed it to him. Octa’s heart beat hard against his ribcage. He opened the file and in it, there was a DNA match between the samples taken at his house and the samples of DNA taken from the scene where the couple had been murdered. It was a match of 99.996%.

“Detective, I will ask you one question and you better give me a straight answer,” the chief said, her voice low. Octa swallowed hard.

“The man who died on the freeway today was your brother,” she stated. Octa didn’t move, just stared at the file in his hand. “The man who killed your wife, who murdered two other people, kidnapped their son, whose whereabouts we don’t even know as of yet, and was about to do the same to another family, that was your brother. Did you know all along?”

Octa remained silent.

The chief reached over to her computer and clacked on the keyboard. “I went through the whole report, detective, and I couldn’t find anything about him in your statement. You didn’t tell anyone that your brother had been staying with you for the past month, that he had a gambling habit, or that he was a paranoid schizophrenic, who was going under treatment at the Adult Medical Health Services Hospital for violent episodes.”

The detective fumed. He hadn’t known about the last part until a while back and then it had been too late.

“Detective, were you covering for this man?” the chief asked, her voice still menacingly low. Octa couldn’t tell her that he had planned his own revenge before his depression over losing Lucinda had taken him on a dark road.

The chief closed her eyes and spoke, “Detective, I need an answer.”

Octa raised his head. “I…” He couldn’t speak. His head swirled.

The chief gritted her teeth and shook her head.

“The DA knows, Octa. He wants me to have you arrested for obstruction of justice, hiding a suspect and God knows how many other charges,” the chief growled.

Octa couldn’t say anything. His brain was still in shock over what had happened. The chief sighed sadly. She stood up and extended a hand. “Badge and gun, now.”

Octa stood up and reached for his badge and gun and handed both to her. He couldn’t meet her eyes.

“Detective Octa, as of this moment, you are suspended from the police department,” the chief announced.

***

Octa took a sip of his tea and looked out the window. He tried remembering how Lucinda had loved this house so much, probably because they could see the train tracks from their bedroom window. Many a time, Octa would wake up from his slumber to see Lucinda staring out as the train trundled past, and he’d wonder what she was thinking.

Did she think of running? Did she want to hop on that train and never see him again? After their daughter’s death, he often found her staring out the window, her eyes following the train as it passed by. Now he couldn’t even have that. The track was recently decommissioned, his daughter was gone, Lucinda had been cruelly taken away from him and now even his job was in jeopardy.

He wanted to take revenge on Juan for taking Lucinda away from him, but with him now dead, Octa was stuck in turmoil.

Well, at least I have my mother’s case to look into, he thought.

The warm tea provided little comfort against the troubles he’d had the whole day, but Octa drank on anyway. He needed something to provide him with some strength at the moment.

After the chief had taken his badge and gun away, Octa felt naked under the gaze of his fellow officers. He knew they didn’t know anything about what had happened, but with the case being so high profile, he knew it was only a matter of time before they’d find out. Afterwards, he’d gone to find John, but the man had been testifying in court all morning about a case, so with nothing to do, Octa had no choice but to go home.

He felt the familiar headache returning, but the tea helped keep it at bay. He put his cup down. He needed to find Juan’s belongings. He needed to find out the whole story. How much of Juan’s past life had been a lie? What else had he done that Octa now had to pay for?

Octa stumbled as he trudged up the stairs and without even thinking, he went straight to his room. Flopping down on Lucinda’s side of the bed, Octa passed out.

***

Lucinda snuggled in the crook of Octa’s arm as the morning sunlight streamed in through their bedroom window, her hair on his shoulder and her hand on his bare chest, lazily tracing his ribs. They’d been in bed all day yesterday, only getting up to get something to eat or drink, or go to the bathroom. Octa was content as he breathed in Lucinda’s flowery scent and bending down, he kissed her on the head. He heard Lucinda’s giggle.

“Well, I’ll be. I think someone is becoming a bit of a romantic. This is the first time you’ve kissed me without me making you,” she said, her nails dancing on his skin.

Snaking his arm around her waist, Octa pulled her against him, pushing her up so that they were face-to-face. “I’m never a romantic, Luce. But for you, I can try.”

Smiling, Lucinda kissed him.

“And besides, with the little one preparing to make an entrance into our lives, I need to cherish all the time I can get with you,” Octa carried on, placing his hand on her belly. She wasn’t showing yet, but Octa knew it was only a matter of time.

Lucinda giggled again. He loved that sound.

“I thought I was supposed to be the horny one,” she said, entwining her leg around his waist.

Octa smirked. “Oh, this is just sympathy horniness. I’m trying to feel the same way you would be at the moment.” He slipped a hand in hers and pulled her against him, kissing her. He felt her warm body languidly stretch as the kiss deepened and at that moment, even with all the things that had happened in his life, Octa knew that this was the moment where everything was going to be fine.

***

Octa woke with a start. He’d never had this dream before. He slapped his hands against his eyes and took a deep breath. He could almost felt Lucinda’s body against him as in the dream. He’d felt her skin under his as she’d stretched across him, but now he was awake, and she wasn’t here. It wasn’t just a dream though. This had been seven months before Christina was born. Her face flashed before his eyes. He had pushed all the memories of his beloved daughter down after she had been killed, but now with Lucinda gone too, he felt his mind starting to go haywire. Reaching for the clock on the nightstand, Octa blinked hard, trying to see what the time was. It read ten past one in the morning.

He had been asleep for quite a long time. Taking a deep breath, Octa got up. He went down to the kitchen and opening the refrigerator, pulled out some mac and cheese he had made a few days ago. Octa shook his head. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, he thought as he dropped onto the couch in the living room and ate. As he contemplated showing up at the precinct in the morning and to talk to John, his train of thought was interrupted by a knock on the front door.

Octa got up, opened the door, and John entered, looking the worse for wear. In the night light’s faint glow, John’s face looked even older than he actually was, the pale light enhancing all the stress lines. The man who had probably solved more homicides and seen more blood and madness than Octa ever would.

They both walked to the living room. Octa then finished his bowl of week-old, cold mac and cheese.

“So this is the life of the glamorous?” John asked gruffly, sitting down in an armchair beside Octa.

Octa smiled lightly. “In all its glory.”

“Your aunt’s worried about yo,” John said as he looked around the dim living room.

“How is she? Seems like you guys got out okay.”

“We did,” John said, turning to Octa. “I also know you went back to the warehouse and had some fun of your own. Oh, don’t look at me like that. You can’t think that I wouldn’t find out about it. This might have been a regular case had the bodies not been disposed of.”

Octa felt a lump in his throat. “I didn’t do it.”

John glared. “What?”

Octa felt the familiar anger rising up in his belly. “I didn’t kill anyone. Well, at least not after you guys were gone. I went back, but I knew I was outnumbered.”

John’s glare remained steady. “So what exactly happened?”

“I went back and waited for them to leave so I could get my car. After they left, there were only two of them who stayed back to bring my car along, but they couldn’t open it. That’s when I disarmed them. I wanted to hear their side of the story, why they wanted to kill me. I knew they’d be able to tell me about Don,” Octa emphasized. “I was interrogating them about him when they were shot. I didn’t shoot them. I didn’t do it.” Octa repeated. He had still not been able to register properly how exactly the other night had transpired, but whoever had shot the two men obviously wanted to keep Octa out of trouble while making sure that Don was safe as well.

“After they were shot, I stayed for a while, trying to see where the shot had come from but I couldn’t find anything. I thought that the person had probably left,” Octa continued as John snorted. “This whole situation is getting too confusing, John. If the shooter killed those two men, then why not kill me? I easily could have been shot too.”

John leaned back, resting his head against the cushion, “Whoever it was, was probably trying to save your ass while keeping Don safe too.”

“That’s what I thought. But why? With me dead, Don wouldn’t have to worry about a thing,” Octa said.

“Maybe Don wants to kill you himself. Or maybe you have a guardian angel,” John chuckled.

“Wielding a sniper rifle? I don’t think so.” Octa frowned and reached for his cold bowl of pasta, not caring what John thought.

“So what are you gonna do now?” John asked, raising his eyebrows.

Octa shrugged. “I’ll find Don and take him into custody.”

“That’s easier said than done,” John grumbled. “If I were you, I’d remember to follow procedure unless you want to spend eternity in jail.”

“I know, but John…” Octa’s mind jumbled for the right words. “I need to do this. This man took everything from me. He ruined my family. He took my father, my mother.”

“And what about Juan?” John asked unexpectedly.

Octa paused.

“From what I had in mind, I thought you and Juan were going to kill each other. After all, he did kill your wife,” John stated.

“So you know about the case?” Octa asked quietly.

“It was a high-profile murder investigation that evolved in a high-speed car chase down a busy freeway which then ended up with a fiery crash with Juan burnt to a crisp. I think it’s safe to say that the whole district knows about this case,” John snapped.

“Yeah, but does everyone know that it was my brother?” Octa persisted.

The older detective’s face softened by a fraction. “Well, since it’s related to a member of the precinct, the chief is keeping the information on the down-low for a while before the statement is released to the press. For now, you’re safe, but you need to realize that because you kept all of this information a secret, you’re headed for a real shit storm.”

Octa sighed and nodded. In hindsight, he should have known that all the secrecy was going to catch up with him.

“So, what’s going to happen now?” John asked.

Octa closed his eyes. “I’m going to do what I was originally going to do. Juan is dead so I can’t do any more for him, but I will search for the child he kept talking about, his son. Then I’m going to search for Don and then I’ll kill him. Expose his whole messed up methods to the world.”

John rolled his eyes. “I don’t think you’ll have time for that. Besides, with so much attention on you, the press will dig up your relatively exciting history of bloodshed itself.”

Octa stiffened. “What does that mean?

“Your folks, your family and your partner, Bob. They’re all either dead or missing, and the only thing they have in common is you,” John said, pointing a finger at Octa.

Octa was outraged. “But I was the one who lost all of them!”

“Like the press will care about your loss. To them, you will only be another trigger-happy, anti-social loner who’s surrounded by death. They’ll want to have a deeper look at you, and I’m sure that when the DA hears about you keeping information regarding a case, he’ll be more than happy to throw the book at you to get some extra publicity points for his future political career,” John said bluntly.

Octa stood up and slammed the bowl back on the table. He would not be insulted this way in his own house. “John, why are you telling me all this?” he asked irritably. “Why are you here?”

John sighed. “Because, I want you to be cautious. You’re a good egg, but you’re just going into a deeper hole.”

“It’s not like I dug it,” Octa almost shouted.

“Didn’t you?” John asked simply.

Octa stared. “Why did you help my aunt escape? You can’t just be doing this now. You can’t just be sitting here, wasting my time and telling me my future, if you don’t have a reason. Why?”

John sighed and stood up. “I was the first person on-scene when your mother was murdered. Your aunt saw me as someone who could help. I kept her name out of the files. I helped her in every way I could. Same as I am doing for you now.”

John made his way to the foyer as Octa fumed.

“Don’t kill yourself, Octa. You’ve made a home on the dark path and now you’re happy staying there, but you need to remember that you shouldn’t be. Sometimes, when you’re faced with troubles, you feel like you have no other option. You make choices, none of which are really good, but you do so because you think they might help you, or someone else. You need to understand that you will lose yourself if you carry on. You’ve already crossed the line when it comes to knowing who’s right and who’s wrong, but with this, you’ll just dive into a much darker place, one where you can’t escape.”

John looked down. “This guy, Don, this is what he does. He knows how to manipulate a person’s weakness and turn it into a weapon for himself. He thinks of himself as a Messiah who will push people to a more enlightened future. He makes people think that the choices they are making are right. Even though they’re horrible, and he takes them to a point where they lose their own balance. They stay weak. And Octa, you might not think it this way, but this man has shaped you into who you are now. Your whole life is the way it is because of him, and I see it. That’s why I want to help you, because I want you to get out of the darkness. You won’t fully come back, but at least, in the end, you won’t feel like a puppet whose strings are tightly held in Don’s hands. This is what I did for your aunt. I did the right thing to help her in any way I could, and she’s still alive. I want to be able to say the same for you in ten years’ time.”

Octa felt his lungs screaming and he realized that he was holding his breath.

“I’ve seen a lot of stuff over the years so the line between right and wrong has kind of blurred for me. But I don’t want the same to happen to you. Whatever you do, remember that you can get away, that even though this may seem like an end-game, it isn’t.” John shoved his hands into his coat pockets and looked up. “Food for thought.”

He smiled gently, and opening the front door, he disappeared down the steps.

Octa stepped back and leaned with his hands against the back of the couch, his head spinning.

Chapter Eight

Octa closed the car door quietly and started edging toward the police precinct. There probably weren’t going to be a lot of detectives on the night shift, but Octa had to be careful. After John left, Octa got to work on finding this Don Swanson.

A simple Google search had revealed quite a bit about the man, but it had nothing on his supposed cult-leader alter ego. According to the internet, he was a quiet businessman who worked in product merchandising. He was well-educated and rich now, but was actually a self-made man as he’d had a poor childhood. He didn’t have a family, though. His mother had died when he was a boy and his father was out of the picture even before Don was born. The man didn’t have wife, kids or even friends. He was a quiet person who liked to do business without creating too much fuss. To the normal eye, Don Swanson was just a normal businessman, but Octa could see beyond it.

Google had also supplied him with a picture of Don. Although not the best shot of him, the picture had given Octa all he needed. The shot was of Don talking with the mayor at some gala or benefit. The mayor leaned toward Don, his body language submissive and his eyes down. To a normal eye, the picture would have seemed like the mayor was only listening to the businessman intently, but Octa saw the way Don towered over the mayor. He enjoyed the position of being in control of some of the most powerful people in the city.

Octa took a deep breath entered the station. The place was quiet and for the few who were still at their desks, the detectives looked haggard and didn’t even notice as Octa slipped past them to his desk. Octa quickly slid into his chair and fired up his computer to search for Don Swanson’s address and possible associations with any crime.

The database did have an entry for Don Swanson, but it was short. He had done a year in jail for assault with a deadly weapon. The man who had lodged the complaint had stated that Don had assaulted his son with a knife on Halloween, even though it wasn’t real. Don was let go after eight months in jail after his son had come out and stated that he’d known the knife was fake and he just wanted to teach Don a lesson for trying to talk to his girlfriend.

Bad enough to make that kid get a severe beating, but it wasn’t bad enough to turn Don into a psychopath, Octa thought as he scrolled down for Don’s address. Noting the location for both his business and home, Octa quickly shut down his computer and sneaked out the front door. He was sure no one had seen him, and since it was four in the morning, it wasn’t likely that anyone would even be paying attention.

Octa hopped in his car and drove off, straight to Don’s office. It was on the other side of town so it took a while for Octa to spot the four-story, grey building at the corner that said “Swansons & Co.” Octa was surprised to see the top floor of the building dimly lit. He slowed down and parked a bit further away so that he wasn’t in direct view of the building.

“Burning the midnight oil, are we?” he whispered as the shadows of a few homeless people loomed in and out of sight. Octa reached back and felt for the gun stashed on his side. Octa had bought this gun for emergencies, but with the situation completely out of hand, he didn’t care if the bullets would later match up to his personal weapon, as he was going to make sure that Don Swanson would die from his bullets.

Octa got out of the car and made his way to the back of the building, making sure to stay low and out of sight if someone was to look out. He got to the back door and slowly tried the backdoor lock, but it didn’t budge.

Of course it wouldn’t, you idiot, Octa thought as he searched for another way in and espied a small, basement window. Pressing his fingers into the grooves, Octa pulled and it popped open. The window frame was snug fit, but Octa managed to slide through. The basement was dark, damp and humid, but he could see well enough. He soon found the stairs and opening the door, he peeked out. Weird that the window didn’t have an alarm attached to it, he thought.

He didn’t see any guards in his line of site, and pushed the door open a bit more. He looked in the other direction, but there was no one at the guards’ station. Maybe the guard is in the bathroom, Octa thought as he sneaked into the hallway, closing the basement door gently behind him. Drawing his gun, he cocked it to make sure he was ready in case there was a surprise around the corner for him.

There were no sounds–absolutely nothing, not even the sound of a clock. It creeped Octa out. It felt like climbing the steps to the fourth floor took ages, but finally Octa reached the top step and looked out cautiously. There was an office at the end of the room. There was a light on inside, but the door was closed. This is weird, he thought. Usually this office exits onto a hallway, not a room. Rows of desks lined the room, each decked with different memorabilia belonging to Don’s different employees. Octa took a deep breath. It was now or never.

Marching up to the office, Octa was just about to open the door when he stopped. He noticed a small window, and approached it cautiously. He counted the shadows from the outside. Four people, all walking around. He felt for his other guns at the back of his jeans and patted the extra bullets and magazines he had in his back pockets. Still there.

Gripping the door knob, he twisted it and raised his gun at the first person he saw.

His aunt stared back at him. Her gun was aimed at his passed-out father’s temple. The old man sat in a chair, bloodied, his head dropping forward. John Intel held the man by the shoulders to make sure he didn’t fall off the chair, and Don Swanson, the man himself, sat in his chair behind his large desk, shrouded by darkness.

Octa felt all the blood drain out of him. “What the hell?”

“Now is that really necessary?” his aunt said with disapproval.

Chapter Nine

Octa couldn’t believe it. What the hell was this? His eyes whizzed from his aunt to John to his father, who wasn’t moving. John looked pained, but he didn’t move as Chelsea huffed.

“Octa, put the gun down. There’s no need for this. We’re just taking care of business,” she said, having the audacity to seem angry at him. That snapped Octa back to reality.

“What the is this? What the hell are you two doing?” Octa growled with a low voice. He felt his arm shiver as his chest contracted, but he forced himself to stay steady. A deep voice broke the tension.

“Octa, I believe I should explain this. It’s the least I can do.”

Don Swanson stood up, came around his desk, and walked up to Octa. He extended his hand as if Octa was a business buddy, and not someone who was hell bent on killing him. Octa took in the man’s appearance. Octa was tall enough, but this man towered over him. He didn’t look like a man who had lived off the streets during his childhood, and age had been kind to him. His salt-and-pepper hair, grey eyes and laugh lines around his eyes and mouth made him look like a kind dad, when in reality he was a monster who just knew how to dress well.

Don paused and pulled back, sighing as leaned his back against his desk. “Octa, if you could put that gun down, I’d be really grateful.”

Octa stared menacingly. “Grateful? I’d be grateful if you’d allow me to put a bullet in your head. Then I’ll gladly put down my gun.”

His aunt shook his head. She still had her gun aimed at his father’s temple. “Octa, calm down. All can be explained.”

Octa turned to look at her. “Alright. I’m all ears.”

Chelsea looked back at Don, who shrugged.

“Octa, you know your father was making trouble. We found him two days ago, after we had gotten away from the warehouse,” she stated.

“Yeah, where he tried to kill us all by sending his goons. Or is that something you don’t remember?” he spat at Don, who remained passive, his arms crossed across his chest.

Chelsea looked ashamed. “That was my fault. I should have told Don I was going to meet you. If I had died, it would have been the right thing. I shouldn’t have gone behind his back.”

Octa stared at her unbelievably. Was she for real?

“Octa, you need to know that I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt. I wanted you to know that you could become a part of us if you wanted. That night, Don sent those men after us so he could get rid of you. He didn’t want any more trouble, but I pleaded with him to give you a second chance, that’s why you’re here. That’s why you’re still alive.” she said, her eyes pleading for him to understand.

Octa yelled, “You told me the story. You told me how horrible it was.”

But his aunt shook her head. “No Octa. I told you a story. You thought it was horrible, but I was just stating facts. I was telling you what happened. You were the one who thought it was terrible, whereas I was trying to make you see things from my side.”

Octa’s confidence wavered. This was wrong, completely wrong. His aunt had been with Don all along and was trying to recruit him into this cult?

“Now, Octa, you need to understand that we’re not into any satanic rituals or twisted verses. We simply use normal understanding of the facts,” Chelsea said gently. “You see, we all know how bad the world is getting, and this, she said, and gently stroked the barrel of her gun against his father’s forehead, which was covered in blood. “This is a way we can let go.”

“This isn’t some phase which over-emotional teenagers go through. We know that the release of blood from the body can cause all sorts of changes. It’s been a medical practice for centuries now. Letting go of the bad blood inside of us can make us let go of the toxins, the bad things,” she said matter-of-factly.

“And, so letting go of your sins is by letting yourself bleed,” Octa said slowly. “Like that man you told me about who was being tortured.”

“He wasn’t brave, so we did the job for him.” she shrugged.

Octa could almost feel his brain frizzing. “And what about my parents?”

For this, Don stood up. “Well, that was where we went really wrong.”

Octa had almost forgotten the man was there.

“We wanted to bring your father in, but he was a coward. He was already abusing your mother. Chelsea wanted to make a good person out of him, but the man just wouldn’t give. Anything that went wrong, he would blame and abuse your mother as if it was her fault. Chelsea wanted to make sure that he wouldn’t do so again, so…” He turned to Chelsea who continued.

“So I tortured him. I made him see the error of his ways. My sister was a sweet girl, but she was too passive, but even for the most submissive people, they still have their limits. She let me torture him. I asked him if he knew anyone who had sinned and he said yes. I wanted him to kill himself for all he did to her. I wanted him to suffer. I wanted him to die,” Chelsea said vehemently and turned to face Octa’s father. “I had wanted him to bleed to death, but he had other things on his mind. He attacked your mother instead.”

Tears welled up in Chelsea’s eyes. “He was a monster. Did you know that he starved Molly when she was pregnant with Juan? He starved her almost to death. How do you think Juan got his schizophrenia? He got it because the pregnancy almost killed him.” She turned back to Octa, “I didn’t even get the chance to save her. He killed her because he thought she had cheated on him before you were born. He always thought that. He would always say that you didn’t look like him, even though we both know you took after your grandfather. But he always felt like she had been unfaithful, so he killed her.”

“It was too late by the time I could do anything. I had only managed to take him out of the house when you showed up. I couldn’t even move your mother’s body. After that, everything that happened was so you could be safe, so your mother’s memory wouldn’t be tarnished.”

Octa’s mind was reeling. His throat was dry as he tried to make the words. He turned to John, “And you?”

John stiffened. “I was always a part of this family. I was a part of Don’s from my early cop days. I knew it was my duty to save her. I didn’t whisk her away to a far off location, but I made sure that you’d never see her. You already didn’t know what she looked like, so it wasn’t like you would be able to recognize her on the street.”

Octa looked at his father. Still short and thin, but his gauntness made him look more like he had been pulled out of his grave.

Chelsea continued. “The reason your father committed these murders is because he wanted to get back at Don. To him, Don had ruined his life. Don had made him kill Molly and Don was the one who was responsible for all the bad things in his life. He just didn’t think that he was the monster all along. He started killing, because he wanted to show Don that he,” she gestured to Don, who was looking at Octa intently, “was the one who should suffer, because of what he had apparently made of him. He was going insane, which is why he attacked you that day too. I’ve been following him for a long time, so when he attacked you, I took the chance. I knocked you out and dragged him out.”

Octa stayed still for a long time. No one moved as thoughts jumbled around in his head. He muttered, “I’ve always wondered if a father and son can hunt each other,” he said.

Don frowned. “Yes, Chelsea told me he’d said that. I think he must have meant me.”

“Octa,” Chelsea said in a low voice, “Your father came after you, because in his eyes, you didn’t belong to him. You weren’t his son, so you were disposable.”

Octa suddenly felt very cold.

“Octa?” Octa heard Chelsea and looked up at her tear-streaked face.

“Do you think your father should live?” she asked gently.

Octa gulped. She could see his answer in his eyes. She smiled. “Do you?” she repeated.

Octa shook his head. “No.”

Her smile grew broader. In that moment, a memory flashed in his mind, his mother’s smile.

“That’s all I needed to know,” she said and fired.

Chapter Ten

The bullet went straight through his father’s temple and out the other side, spraying the floor with blood. John let go and he slumped down. Chelsea reeled back as the gun smoked, shock apparent on her face as she realized what she had done.

Octa pulled out his other gun from the back of his jeans and pointed both at her. “Put your gun down.”

Chelsea looked startled. John cursed, shaking the blood off of his hands. Don stood up when he saw Octa’s hands shake.

“Now, Octa, we need to stay calm. This is a good thing. Please, you know that this was the only way,” Don reasoned.

A fury rushed through Octa’s veins. He wasn’t angry because he had wanted to kill his father; he was furious because he had wanted to kill all of them, with his father dying by his hands in the end. He had wanted to do his mother justice. He had wanted to finish off all of them.

Octa pointed a gun at Don. “You, shut up! I don’t need your talk right now. Get down on your knees! Now!”

Don sighed “Octa, you’re being unreasonable. I’m not the bad guy here, your father was. And now he’s not alive anymore. Problem solved. You should be thanking us.”

Octa fired at Don, narrowly missing his head by an inch. Don jumped back and in an instant, his gun was out, pointing at Octa. Chelsea reacted and raised her gun at her nephew, her hand shaking.

“I don’t think so.” Octa heard John say and saw him pull out his own two guns and aim at Chelsea and Don who recoiled. Chelsea switched the gun between Octa and John, not understanding who to shoot. “John!” she exclaimed with horror.

Don smiled as he took in the situation. “Well, lady and gents, it seems we have come to an impasse.”

Octa couldn’t believe the man was actually smiling at a moment like this.

They all stood silent, waiting for the other to make a move. Octa breathed slowly, trying to understand his chances of survival. His father’s blood drenched the carpet around his feet. Don’s smile didn’t waver. He turned his head gently to the side and spoke.

“Such fire…,” he said, “You are so much like your father than you probably care to be. You could have been great in our little family.”

Octa felt a growl in the back of his throat. This man was more than a monster. He was a man who knew he was one and reveled in it.

Octa knew it needed to be done, and pulled the trigger. Multiple shots rang out through the dusky morning, each hitting a target. John was hit in the left shoulder, while Don fell to the floor with blood gushing out of his mouth. He had a chest wound. Octa stared at Chelsea’s corpse for a few seconds and walked toward Don. He re-holstered his gun behind his back and pulled out a knife. Don’s eyes opened wide. Octa’s teeth ground against each other.

“Octa, what are you gonna do?” John asked. “Octa, I got hit. Put that knife back.”

Octa ignored the voice as tears rolled down his cheeks. Then, he kneeled next to Don, held him by his collar, and stabbed him multiple times in different parts of the body.

Epilogue

At first, after John shot him in the right shoulder, Octa thought he was going to be a dead man, but then he realized John just wanted to stop him. As Octa lay there on his back, John pointed his gun at him.

 

“So, you’re my enemy too?” Octa said.

 

He stared at Octa for a few seconds and replied, “I just wanted to stop you from taking that psychopath’s life, Octa.”

 

John bent down and wiped Don’s blood off Octa’s face and hands, then took the knife away from Octa, bagged it, and hid it inside his boxers. Blood was still coming out of John’s mouth. Octa wasn’t sure how John managed to do all this with the chest wound he had, just that he was exceptionally strong.

 

[_ ]Octa watched him, thinking.[ Did I really want to kill John, or just threaten him, to try cover my want for revenge for Lucinda’s death?] Octa frowned, watching John. [_I wonder if John’s actually a good person or if he’s just trying to hide something from me.]

 

John continued. “I can help you get away with murder and earn your badge back, but only if you want to change. If not, I’ll turn you in.”

 

“It was a lot easier to kill people in Haiti than it is in the United States,” Octa said.

 

Without a word of warning, John stepped hard on Octa’s wound. “I understand why you love killing. You think killing someone who has done wrong is the fastest way to resolve an issue.”

 

I have to admit, he’s right, Octa thought. But more blood can either lead to justice or the truth. Is he trying to brainwash me already? Hell no…I can’t let this happen.

 

After John called for the bodies to be disposed of and phoned HQ to report the incident, he called in an ambulance for themselves.

 

A week later, Octa reached for the ringing phone. The man on the other end of the line didn’t give his name, just said, “I know you’ll be looking for Juan’s son, but when you find him, you’ll be walking into the valley of your own death.”

 

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Published Books

Memories of Broken Souls (non-fiction poetry)

Obscure Blood

The Heart of Blood (Part II of Obscure Blood)

Upcoming Books

Bad Blood (Part IV of Obscure Blood)

Innocent Blood

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[ABOUT THE AUTHOR
**]

Leonidas Christopher, born December 27, 1992, hails from Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He is an active US Marine. He lives his life practicing the adage that life should not be about how it is but about how we can make it. He spent his childhood aloof from his family, spent his time wandering around dangerous and poor zones learning, as he did, about life. He met strangers who later became his friends, and he discovered that they too had their own secrets buried within. As he grew up, his own tragedies were added to the awful memories and stories of his friends. Using these, he hopes now to make a difference for the better in other people’s lives. Visit his website at http://www.christopherleonidas.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Mysterios Bood Relatives: Hard-boiled and Noir-esque

Detective Octa is supposed to hunt down criminals to face justice. Instead, he has embarked on a quest to take justice into his own hands by finding and killing his own brother, Juan. Ever since Juan murdered Octa’s wife and disappeared, Octa has been in the grips of a deadly obsession with revenge. As Octa hunts for Juan, mystery after mystery is revealed—but the more he discovers, the more violent and disturbed he becomes. When the stakes are this high, everything is personal, and Octa has every intention of getting away with murder.

  • Author: ChristopherLeonidas
  • Published: 2016-02-11 15:20:12
  • Words: 19091
Mysterios Bood Relatives: Hard-boiled and Noir-esque Mysterios Bood Relatives: Hard-boiled and Noir-esque