Authors: Raen Smith
“Who would want revenge on you?”
“I don’t know,” I whispered, my
foot now tapping against the planks. What if Jeremy was right? What if Sister
Josephine’s kidnapper was still out there? I shot my eyes out into the fields
in front of me. I had never thought of the possibility that the murder of Fred
Sullivan and the kidnapping of Sister Josephine were done by separate suspects.
It had always been one person.
“Go back to the beginning,” Jeremy
said. “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
Before I could respond, footsteps
echoed near the window. They were followed by a man’s voice other than
Jeremy’s. “You’re up.”
I scrambled to see Jeremy stand up
and be escorted out of the living room by Officer Hobart. My fingertips curled
around the edges of the sill and my legs twitched as Jeremy’s words sang
through my head.
June 20, 9:35 p.m
I did what I do best. I ran.
I sprinted through the grass and
swung to the other side of James’s SUV. I pulled out the phone as I ducked down
and leaned against the front tire to find Delaney in the contacts.
“Thank God you called. Are you
okay?” Delaney answered, her voice filled with relief. “Please tell me you got
the asshole and found Sister Josephine.”
“I’m fine. That bastard who bought
Holston’s house in Appleton, you know, Kevin Carpenter, confessed to killing
Fred Sullivan, but he claims he doesn’t know anything about Sister Josephine.”
“Oh my God,” Delaney whispered.
“But I think I might have an idea
where Sister Josephine is. Does the officer there know you’re on the phone? One
word answers,” I ordered.
“Does he know it’s me?”
I needed the name and address fast
without the officer knowing. I hoped like hell Delaney had found it. I couldn’t
have Sanchez tailing me and ruining my chances of finding Sister Josephine
alive. “Did you find any orphanages?” I started.
There was silence on the other end.
“Delaney,” I said again. I was
expecting an earful from her about how I shouldn’t do this alone and how
dangerous it was.
That I should trust the police department
to do their jobs.
“Got it covered,” Delaney
whispered. “I did a little investigative work when you left.”
“Good,” I said, feeling my lips
twitch upward into a smile full of pride. “I’m smiling, just so you know.”
“I like hearing that,” she said,
her voice forcefully loud and clear. I imagined Delaney nodding her head as she
looked at the officer. I couldn’t have her on the phone for long, although she
was mastering the art of digging up information, she was still a terrible liar.
The art of debauchery had only gotten so far.
“Before I give you the name and
address, I think you should know that he called,” Delaney whispered. “Ryan.
About an hour ago.
I don’t know how the hell he got my number.
“Ryan?” I said his name aloud. In a
second, my voice was gone and his name vanished into the wind. He called
despite the fact that he said he couldn’t do this anymore. He said he wasn’t
going to risk his life for me, yet here he was, doing it all again. He knew
that Delaney’s phone would be monitored, but he called anyway.
“He said that the American Cowboy
was arrested,” Delaney whispered. “Is that code for something?”
“No,” I said as I wrapped my mind
around Delaney’s words.
The Cowboy had
“Ryan said something about him
getting arrested after trying to sexually assault someone,” Delaney added. “He
just said he thought you should know.”
Suddenly I was torn with the impossibility
of calling Sanchez and his crew to go to scope out the orphanage instead. I
could walk away from this and trust Sanchez to finish the job. I could go back
to Ryan and Norway, eventually. Move on, like everyone was telling me to do.
But I had done so well on my own for so long.
I closed my eyes to see the face of
Sister Josephine staring back at me with her silver-streaked hair and amber
glowing eyes. She smiled at me before I opened my eyes, her face disappearing
into the night.
I had to do this.
“So glad to hear that everything is
going well,” Delaney said in her fake voice again.
“What’s the address?” I asked.
“It’s Cooper Orphanage. It closed
in 1968. The building was then converted into a small warehousing facility and
looking at these pictures, it hasn’t been used in a while. The owners are both
deceased, so I couldn’t find out any more information. W4253 Palmer Road. About
twenty minutes south of where you are,” Delaney whispered. “Just take the
highway for about ten miles and then take a left on Palmer. It should be about
a mile or so down the road on your right.”
“Did you find an aerial view of the
“Is it surrounded by trees?”
My heart fluttered. This was it.
“Give me a twenty minute lead and
then call Sanchez with the address,” I said as I pulled open the door and
crawled into the driver’s seat. I held the key in the ignition and paused
before turning it over.
“If he doesn’t already know by then.”
“There’s a knife in the glove
compartment,” she whispered. “From Mark’s kitchen, but it still should do the
“How did you?” I stopped in awe,
thinking how Delaney had saved me more than once. I was beginning to think we
weren’t so different after all. We were
“It was so great to hear from you.
Keep me posted and be safe,” Delaney said in her put-on voice. I rolled my eyes
and hit the end button before I turned the key to let the engine split the
silence of the night.
I rolled the SUV to a stop along
the road fifty feet outside the building and shut the lights off well before
the quarter mile mark. I was in the middle of nowhere on an old country road
with little sign of life or human footprints. It was the perfect place. A patch
of dense trees was far off to the right of the building.
video of Sister Josephine.
He had to have taken her outside to shoot the
The dilapidated orphanage turned
warehouse stood quiet in the pale moonlight. A single lamp post flooded a small
area in the front of the building. I scanned the surroundings, but I didn’t see
any light or cars in the driveway. There was no sign of anyone. I leaned across
the seat and opened the glove compartment. My hand fumbled around until I
gripped the handle of the knife. I pulled it out and felt the length and width
of the blade.
A butcher knife.
Delaney had wanted me
to go for the kill instead of my quick jabs with my usual short blade. I felt
my lips turn up into a smile.
I slid the key out of the ignition
and turned off the interior lights before exiting the SUV in silence. I crept
through the ditch until I moved to the edge of the trees on the right side.
There was nothing standing between Sister Josephine and me except a building
and a man that wanted me. I was ready to give him what he wanted.
One, two, three,
I sprinted across the dusty and
overgrown driveway of the warehouse. I stood against the wall, feeling the
small pants of my lungs press against the hard surface of the brick. With the
knife gripped tight in my hand, I crept forward to the nearest window. I
huddled next to it and listened, waiting for any sound from inside. Instead, I
heard the rustling of trees and an owl hooting somewhere deep in the woods. I
poked my head above the window and peered into the dark warehouse.
I could barely see anything except
for the faint outlines of large machines that sprung up throughout the wide
open space. The smell of mold and must assaulted my senses as I held my head
there for a few more breaths. I finally pulled my head down below the window
and turned so my back was against the wall once more. I sunk down to the ground
and let my knife rest in between my legs.
Maybe this wasn’t it. Maybe this
wasn’t where he was keeping Sister Josephine. Maybe I was completely wrong. I
had been wrong about Kevin Carpenter and now this urge to come here was
swirling in my head like a fog I couldn’t get rid of. Why this place? Why would
he want me to come here? I closed my eyes, envisioning the man in the video. I
didn’t know who he was. I was getting this all wrong.
I sat in the dust a moment longer
and listened to the silence of the warehouse and the faint sounds of nature.
Sanchez would be here soon with a fleet, just fifteen more minutes. I could
wait it out here until they came just to be safe. We wouldn’t find anything
here, and then we would be back to the drawing board in the morning with only
hours to find Sister Josephine. She deserved better than this. She deserved
better than the butcher knife from Mark’s kitchen. I twisted the point of the
blade in the dust, spinning the knife until it was buried almost an inch. And
that’s when I heard it.
The sound of the calling from a
The soft pull of chains clanked
from inside the warehouse. I closed my eyes to see her in the video, her arms
and legs bound with heavy, rusted out chains. The sound of the chains triggered
a shot that coursed through my body with adrenaline. Sister Josephine was
I whipped up my knife, tucked it
close to my body, and crept along the wall to where I heard the sound. I poked
my head in the next window. The opening had just a few glass shards left on it,
thrusting from the bottom of the sill. I looked through the shards and searched
for any signs of movement.
I listened and
waited for another clank from the chains.
I moved further down the wall and
spotted an industrial metal door just twenty feet ahead. If he was here, he
would hear me go through that door. That meant that the there was only one way
in; the last remaining window before the door. I shuffled against the wall
until I was next to the window, which thankfully had only a few small shards
left protruding from its frame. I lifted my head until my eyes were right above
the sill and looked down to see the outline of a lump covered in wool blankets
against the wall. I squinted to see if the lump was moving, but I couldn’t make
any movement out. I had to go in.
My heart thrashed as I leaned up
against the sill and kicked my legs over. The glass shards sunk into my rubber
boots as I huddled on the sill for a second before I dropped one leg down. My
boot hit the concrete in silence and my other leg quickly followed. I held the
knife in front of me, trying to adjust to the darkness in vain, and crept
toward the lump of blankets. I reached out my shaking hand, about to touch the
blanket when a clash of chains crashed to the floor behind me.
I whipped my head around to the
noise, but didn’t see anything. I turned back to the lump and pulled the
blanket away from the wall. I touched the lump, expecting to feel Sister
Josephine’s body, but instead my hand sunk into the pile as coarse fabric
scratched against my skin.
I heard a clap echo in the
warehouse. I spun around and squinted to make out the outlines of the machines.
I crept toward them, running along the edge of the machine and the outside wall
until I got to the end of the metal. I squatted and listened, waiting for any
sound, but all I heard were the quick pants of my breath.
As I attempted to calm my
breathing, a soft sound of movement seemed to be just a few feet nearby. I
narrowed my eyes again, desperate to make out the layout of the machines, but
the warehouse was too dark and the moonlight not bright enough.
The drag of chains against the
concrete sounded ahead of me, so I crept back the way I came and moved along
the machines when I felt my foot suddenly slip. I kept moving though, feeling
the footsteps behind me close in.
I looked back at the window where I
had come in. It was the opening away from the monster in the shadows that had
Sister Josephine. I moved one step closer to it when I heard another clap. This
one was louder, close behind me. I spun and jabbed the knife, but I connected
with nothing except the air. I cursed myself and pulled the knife tighter,
knowing that he was watching me.
The sound of chains echoed again,
but this time it moved away from me.
I was trapped like a rat. He
clearly saw me, but I had nothing on him. He was choosing to walk away from me.
The burn coursed through my body. I was merely a pawn in his little game.
A loud clap echoed again.
I gripped my knife tighter, huddled
now against the outer wall just beneath the window. Finally, a light shone
about forty feet from me in the middle of the warehouse. I shielded my eyes
with my hand as the beam moved to my face. Another clap sounded. And then
And then one last one before he spoke.
“Well, if it isn’t the devil
Parker,” a man’s voice called from
the shadows. “You’ve found me.”
“Where is she?” I asked, now
standing. This was it. I came here to find Sister Josephine, and I wasn’t
backing down now. I edged toward the light. “I’m here now. Isn’t this what you
“Yes, it is what I wanted. You’re alone,
just as I anticipated. You know, once your father began to trust
other people, that’s
when it went all downhill for him.
There were too many people involved. He was in too deep. Lie after lie after
lie. You can’t trust anyone but yourself,” he said as he walked into the light.
He stood next to a small pile of chains. I narrowed my eyes at the man in blue
jeans and a white t-shirt, only twenty feet away from me. Sister Josephine’s
rosary hung from his neck, swaying with each movement as he stepped closer to