KILLER ON THE LOOSE
Chapter 8 – Emily Stone
Emily and Rick secured the two men inside the storage building. Their wrists and ankles were fastened with zip ties and then affixed through metal rings on the wall. The men weren’t going anywhere before cops arrived. They remained quiet and rarely looked at the couple.
Emily thought it was strange that they complied so easily and did not protest.
“You good?” Emily asked Rick. She was anxious to leave the property.
“I’m going to search the house for anything about the girls,” she checked her ammunition out of habit rather than necessity. “Give me a few minutes before contacting the cops and FBI.”
She hurried toward the door.
“Okay,” Rick slowly replied, still staring at the two men. “Em?” he said and shrugged.
Emily stopped and turned.
“Be careful,” he warned.
She thought it was out of character for Rick to express that sentiment in the middle of their investigation.
Emily forced a smile and then jogged to the main house.
It was actually a manufactured home, which had been set up on property in several pieces. It was more of a rectangle box that had uneven connections at the outer corners. It appeared to have been assembled recently. There were stickers still attached to the trim areas and windows.
Emily slowed her pace on approach.
She stood for a moment and surveyed the house.
Taking a moment to jog around the structure, Emily made sure that there weren’t any type of cameras, booby traps, or security devices.
It seemed staged.
Automatically she retrieved her Glock and took the safety off.
Emily stood at the front door, grasped the doorknob with her left hand, and turned it. Pushing the door slowly open, the interior was dim and stuffy. None of the windows were open and no air conditioning flowed.
A light flickered in the corner from a muted television.
Emily cautiously entered the house and quickly cleared the living room, kitchen, and the two bedrooms. There was no sign of the missing girls, or any incriminating evidence that they were ever at the location.
How could their information have been so wrong?
Dishes in the sink, cigarettes in an ashtray, sparse thrift store furniture, and empty liquor bottles were the only remnants of anyone living in the house. Closets and cupboards were empty. The beds did not look slept in recently.
Who did these guys work for?
These thoughts plagued Emily as she moved closer to the TV. The regular program was interrupted by a news report.
It read across the bottom of the screen in bold letters: Breaking News from Washington DC as FBI Bomb Squad searches a local city bus.
The story unfolding caught Emily’s immediate attention. She watched as video clips showed different angles of the bus, bomb squad techs, bystanders, a young anxious teenager, and an agitated FBI Agent talking with another agent.
Emily holstered her weapon. She saw the TV remote on the coffee table, snatched it up, and quickly activated the sound.
A field reporter interrupted the chaos and narrated with a cheerful voice, “As you can see behind me that the DC Bomb Squad has been called in to investigate an allegedly suspicious briefcase that had been left on the city bus, but we have been informed that there was no bomb and no indication of a terrorist threat.”
The young dark-haired reporter pressed her earpiece firmly with her fingers and listened for a moment, her eyes wide. She continued, “Our news station has just received an update from an anonymous source that the briefcase has possibly a connection to two teenage girls that went missing from San Jose, California three days ago. We do not have the girl’s names at this time, nor do we know if they are connected in any way to the briefcase on the bus. We will keep you informed as new information becomes available.”
Emily’s heart pounded as she listened to the reporter.
It had to be a mistake or a joke.
She and Rick had been covertly searching for Maya Reynolds, 15, and Sydney Atherton, 14, who disappeared from a mall in San Jose, California three days ago. Their investigation and solid leads brought them to this property in Iowa where there was no sign of the girls.
Emily felt anxiety rise from her core and it made it difficult to breathe—the restriction made her slightly dizzy.
She tossed the remote and retreated from the house to meet Rick. They had to leave the property as soon as possible.
It wasn’t just a dead end in the investigation—it was a possible trap and they walked right into the middle of it.