Since I have zero desire to deal with the strangest election ever, I’m offering a break from the nonsense that surrounds politics. Instead, the first Cain chapter, unedited, from Flawless Dreams:
After the fall of the FGN, I had spent nearly a month in the hospital. Another month in hearings for my conduct and the fact that Patterson had escaped. Three months on unpaid suspension for misconduct. One week before that had ended, I’d shown up at Nadine Daniels’ house and done my job, which had landed me another 4 week suspension for insubordination.
I had not protested any of this. The world had changed. The flaws in our security had been made evident. Everyone appeared to be terrified.
However, now we had proof. There was a conspiracy. There were more serial killers active within our borders than we had ever imagined. We’d even let some come into the country from other places, like Canada and the United Kingdom. Not to mention the three super psychopaths that had been converging on Nadine Daniels’ house as mob enforcers had been Russian. The authorities were still trying to figure out how they had gotten into the US, let alone all the way to Kansas City.
I was spending my suspensions putting my life back together. I had a new house that was filled with sleeping bags and camping chairs. My sister-in-law, Elle, had taken a job in Australia. Nyleena was on sabbatical after her rape and attempted murder by some coked up gang leader. She had gone with my mom to Australia to help Elle and the kids settle in. That had been three months ago and they weren’t sure when they would return.
Aside from the fact that I sort of needed, Nyleena, I thought it the best course of action. Someone was coming for us, all of us. The VCU had been demolished by the head of the FBI. Malachi and Caleb Green had been transferred to different divisions, but the US Marshals had come in and swooped them up. They were the basis for a second SCTU team that was still being assembled.
Kansas City had officially become a section of Hell. There were twenty active serial killers that we knew of. No telling how many we didn’t. It had made us the Murder Capital of the US and we were working our way towards being the Murder Capital of the world. My mother, Elle, Nyleena, none of them needed to be here for that. They were better off in Australia. Before leaving, they’d taught me to use Skype. So far, I hadn’t used it, but that was because up until two weeks ago, I had been living in one of Daniels’ Security’s safe houses. It wouldn’t have been prudent to Skype with Nyleena or anyone else for that matter.
There was no official news on Patterson. This didn’t bother me. I had a new dark angel by my side. There were still a few reservations about Apex’s loyalties, but not many. He had stopped by the safe house three times to see me, to check on me. He’d even covered me when I had gone to save Nadine from the Russian mob enforcers that were in fact serial killers in their spare time. He wanted answers as badly as the rest of us. Like the rest of us, he knew the only way this could happen was if someone was pulling strings from on high. He’d ruled out the governing body that controlled the SCTU and the head of the US Marshals. Everyone else was still suspect. For my own well being, we didn’t discuss how he eliminated suspects or who he actually suspected or what he was doing about it. There were things I didn’t need to know, it was something I had learned very fast after the fall of the FGN.
The last week, my life had felt empty. It was a new experience, that I couldn’t pinpoint as an emotion. I was attributing it to the fact that everyone I knew was either working or in Australia. Even Trevor was too busy to spend time with me as he decorated houses, one by one, for all the SCTU members.
When the FGN was overrun, they had targeted us. Malachi, Caleb, Lucas, and myself had our houses burnt to the ground. Xavier, Fiona, and Gabriel had theirs ransacked and trashed. They had busted through supporting walls, ensuring that the houses would eventually collapse. Fortunately, we had all been too busy to be home when the houses did finally give up and fall down. Trevor, Elle, the kids,and my mother had actually taken refuge with Ivan Daniels’ kids and his mother in his panic room. Melina Daniels was no slouch when it came to personal protection. The four adults could have held off a small garrison of psychopaths, if the bad guys had managed to get inside the panic room. For that, I was thankful.
I couldn’t even go to the newly built Fortress to see my brother. He’d been attacked four times while in Leavenworth. He’d survived all of them. The same couldn’t be said for his attackers, but that sort of attention had landed him in protective custody. Even I didn’t know his location. If anyone I knew did, they weren’t talking.
Even I had changed. I knew it. There was little I could do about it. Fighting alongside my brother had made me feel righteous. It surprised me to realize that I missed him. I had removed him from my memories as much as possible, but when the shit had hit the fan and he had been there to play the white knight, I had suddenly remembered exactly why I had thought so highly of my brother. He had always tried to be my white knight. His armor was a little blood spattered and tarnished, but that was fine by me.
It wasn’t just with regards to Eric that I had changed either. I had realized that I was a soldier in a war I wasn’t sure could be won if we always played by the rules. People like Eric, Apex, and Patterson were necessary to make any head way. Yes, they were murderers, who didn’t always do the right thing, but what we were fighting was much worse. Their body counts were more like resume bullet points than reasons they should be imprisoned.
In other words, my world no longer contained much black and white. Everything was shades of grey. We were prioritizing killers based on their victim preferences and body counts, not based on who called us when. Those days were gone, possibly never to return.
That was the one big change; we could now walk into any law enforcement agency in the country and demand they cooperate if there was a serial killer or mass murderer in their jurisdiction. We no longer needed them to ask us for help. We had the power to do it ourselves.
My time off had not been spent idly sitting in a room and sulking. At least, not all of it. The head guy needed to be found and like Apex, I had a vested interest in who it might be. I was going through my own thoughts on who it might be. However, much like Apex I wasn’t making much progress. I did have a lead on a guy and I was still suspended. My plane left tomorrow for Texas. Ciudad Juarez, Mexico was a city filled with frightened citizens, overbearing drug lords, and more than it’s fair share of serial killers. Of course, I couldn’t touch any of those serial killers, but I could see what tourism in El Paso offered.
My phone rang as I got up. I checked the caller ID and saw Gabriel’s name on it. I tried not to sneer, realizing someone had alerted him to my trip. Since only three people knew I was going, the list of who had ratted me out wasn’t exactly complicated.
“Cain,” I answered.
“I hear you’re going on vacation to El Paso. It seemed odd that you would go for a vacation in a city that was a hop, skip, and jump from Juarez. You cannot go into Mexico, Ace.”
“I have no intention of going into Mexico, especially not at Juarez. I attract serial killers like most people attract mosquitos. I’m crazy, not stupid. El Paso is the closest I will ever get to real Mexican food. You know how much I love it.”
“You expect me to believe you’re going to El Paso for Mexican food?”
“I do not expect you to believe anything. That is why I’m going. I have nothing to do here, might as well go to El Paso for Mexican food.”
“Yeah, I don’t want an international incident, so you aren’t going alone.”
“My mom, Nyleena, they are in Australia. You guys are on a case. It seems like now is a good time for a vacation and I do not have anyone to go with me.”
“I’ll have someone on the ground waiting for you.”
“I do not want to be in El Paso with someone who is out of their skull,” I was referring to Malachi. His new status as an SCTU leader-in-training was driving me nuts. He kept trying to give me orders.
“It won’t be Malachi.” Gabriel hung up on me. I considered telling him I wouldn’t be alone in El Paso, but that would make life complicated for him.