KILLER ON THE LOOSE
Chapter 2 – Emily Stone
Emily Stone deliberately slid down the rocky hillside and cautiously approached the house. The heat and humidity of the summer bore down on her. The dense trees on the large 200-acre homestead made for a convenient camouflage as she approached the first building.
She checked to make sure that her Glock and Beretta were still secured in her hip and ankle holsters.
Adjusting the listening device, she whispered, “Rick, you read me?”
“What took so long?” he replied.
Ignoring his irritated response she stated, “I’m at the first storage building on the west side of the property.”
“I don’t need to remind you of our protocol?” he pushed.
“Of course not.”
“And?” he curtly interrupted.
Emily could hear the growing tension in his voice, and could imagine his usual dark stare and clenched jaw. “Just locate and observe,” she sighed.
Of course, she knew the protocol. They had tracked serial killers and abductors on many occasions, all with covert anonymity and shadowing of law enforcement.
Their search and investigation brought them to the rural location near Mason City, Iowa to find the three missing girls taken from a suburban neighborhood in California.
“10-3,” Emily whispered, alerting Rick to radio silence.
She moved stealthily away from the building, deeper into the wooded area.
Voices ensued and the words became clearer.
Emily strained to hear the conversation, but realized that they were speaking another language – nothing that she had heard before.
She crouched low and tucked herself completely out of view.
Retrieving her cell phone from her pocket, she pressed the recording app and held it in the direction of the unknown men, hoping to catch some of their dialogue for later translation.
The two men talked excitedly in their foreign dialect with a few interjected English words. They stopped at the front of building.
A cigarette butt landed on the ground near Emily, still smoldering before it eventually extinguished.
Emily leaned forward and craned her neck to get a look at the men. They were dark-haired, one with a beard, and both were dressed in casual dark khakis and t-shirts. One man carried an automatic rifle, while the other had a large hunting knife sheathed on his right hip.
Several times Emily heard the English letters “DC” and word “train” or “trainer”.
The shorter man unlocked the large doors, swung them open, and disappeared inside for a couple of minutes.
It remained quiet. No conversation, no movement, it was as if everything had stopped.
When the man finally returned, he seemed agitated swinging his weapon erratically as he spoke. After engaging the padlock, both men left.
Emily waited for a few more minutes until she could not hear the conversation between the men anymore.
She updated her partner, “Two suspects, one AK-47, one hunting knife, heading east in your direction toward the main house.”
“I can see them. Two suspects,” responded Rick.
“I’m checking the building now.”
“Copy that,” he replied.
Emily emerged from her hiding place, taking a moment to survey her surroundings for traps or possibly another suspect. She eased forward and noted there were no windows located anywhere on the building, nothing to give her an idea what was inside.
The small padlock was secured, but not impossible to break.
Emily searched around the area and found wooden boards from an old fence discarded in a neat pile. She dug deeper, but kept alert.
“Em,” her earpiece crackled.
There were nails and pieces of wire hiding beneath the old fencing.
“Em?” Rick said again.
She had almost given up her search when she spotted a piece of steel resembling some type of rebar.
“What?” she whispered.
“I’m getting ready to break the lock and look inside, out.”
She knew that Rick worried about her safety, and he had told her on countless occasions that she took too many risks.
The risks during the search for missing children were necessary.
She took the metal bar and inserted it into the lock at an angle, taking the extra precaution to make it as quiet as possible. Leveraging the bar, Emily used all of her strength to break the lock, but it wouldn’t budge.
She took a step back. It would have been much easier to shoot the lock off, but she would have had only seconds to escape the barrage of bullets. The men’s firepower was no match for her.
With determination, she sucked in a breath and forced the bar downward.
The padlock finally snapped, released, and fell to the ground.
Emily stood still, body rigid, listening, and half expecting an alarm to sound.
She then carefully opened the door barely wide enough to slip inside.
Large weathered tarps covered the majority of the area, the shapes underneath appeared symmetrical and about six feet high. Emily’s eyes adjusted to the dim lighting as she grabbed one of the corners of a white tarp and flipped it up.
Her skin prickled turning icy despite the muggy air.
Approximately twenty-five large wooden crates along with several heavy black plastic suitcases were exposed.
Emily had never seen anything like it in any of her searches, but the symbols on the sides of the crates were unmistakable. The containers held military weapons and explosives…
LATEST VIGILANTE DETECTIVE EMILY STONE THRILLER
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