CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED and TWENTY-NINE
“Ooh look,” Nash said. “It’s started!”
The gang leaned toward the laptop to watch. Two police cruisers on each side of I-70 had shut down the highway. A score of uniformed police officers appeared from under the I-70 overpass. With their hands on their weapons, they ran down the embankment to the path. An all terrain vehicle with SWAT personnel drove past the running officers. Jumping from their vehicle, the SWAT team launched themselves up into the trees surrounding the right bank of Sand Creek.
“Wow,” Charlie said. “Did you see…?”
He pointed as another SWAT vehicle flew down the embankment from the direction of Smith Road.
“Look,” Nash said.
He pointed to at least twenty uniformed police officers skulking through the old and rusted aircraft in the salvage above the left bank of Sand Creek. Pete arrived with two bowls of popcorn. He gave a bowl to Charlie and another to Teddy before going upstairs to make more. Teddy pointed to the rusting planes.
“I’ve been there,” Teddy said. “We played in all the old planes with Dad. It was a blast. The place is under that?”
“Some old military or airport thing,” Charlie said. “I think people just forgot it was there.”
“Until now,” Noelle said.
Monday evening — 8:45 P.M. Middle of Denver, CO
“Whatcha doing?” Alex asked.
Her partner, Arthur ‘Raz’ Rasmussen was sitting at the main dining room table peering at his laptop. He glanced up at her, gave her a quizzical look, and turned his gaze back to the screen. Alex looked over his shoulder.
“What’s that?” Alex asked.
“I have no idea,” Raz said. “I wanted to review that satellite and heat imaging before I went to bed. When I logged in, the system said I was already connected. This is what came up.”
He turned the laptop so that she had a clear view of the beginning of a police action somewhere near I-70 and the Stapleton housing development on the old airport property.
“That’s Sand Creek Greenway,” Alex said. “We’ve trained there.”
“I remember,” Raz said.
“Who took your password?” Alex asked.
“I don’t know,” Raz said.
“You didn’t check their webcam?” Alex asked.
“What?” Raz looked up at her.
“There’s a program on every computer. Some kind of parental control.” Alex opened a browser to the US Military Intelligence Center. “If the computer has a webcam…”
“Which most do,” he said.
“New ones,” Alex continued typing. Voice security came up and she said, “Fey.” She turned to Raz, “You have to have some security clearance to do it on a random computer.”
“Do I have the clearance?” Raz asked.
“Sure,” she said.
She continued typing and clicking. The image of Nash, Teddy, Noelle and Charlie peering at the computer came on the laptop monitor.
“There are your password stealers,” Alex said.
“Little shit,” Raz said.
“Who?” Max Hargreaves, Alex’s identical twin, asked as he entered the room.
“Nash,” Raz said. “He asked me to show him how satellites work. He wanted me to do it on his computer to prove that it worked on any computer.”
“Must have had a keystroke collector,” Alex said.
“I’m going to wring his neck,” Raz said.
“Sounds like you were showing off,” Max said.
“We just received a memo about Senior Homeland Security Agents using governmental resources to show off,” Alex said. “Strictly forbidden.”
“I showed him how the satellites work,” Raz said. “It’s not like I did a DNA test on my partner’s childhood nemesis.”
“That was international security, my friend,” Alex laughed. “The PIRA are a registered terrorist group!”
“Yes, we’d hate to have another one of those evil PIRA terrorists living in the house,” he laughed. “We’re running out of space.”
“What are we going to do to the kids?” he asked.
“Nothing nice,” Alex said.
“Should I make the popcorn?” he asked.
“If you make it, everyone will come to get some,” Alex said.
“Do we care?” Raz said.
The friends gave each other a long look.
“I’ll make the popcorn,” he said.
“Oh look,” Alex pointed to a SWAT team member in a tree. “I know that guy. And that guy too. This is going to be fun.”
Alex sat down in his chair. Max pulled a chair next to hers.
“Take notes!” Raz yelled from the kitchen.
“Hurry up!” Alex yelled.
Monday evening — 8:45 P.M. Near the Sand Creek Greenway
Seth and Delphie waited at the light on Quebec to turn on to south Sand Creek Road. Neither had said much since they left Noelle and the kids at Sandy’s salon.
“I don’t like the feel of this,” Delphie said.
“I don’t like it either,” Seth said. “But a child’s life is at stake. We can’t take any chances.”
“I know how badly you feel about Jeffy. You couldn’t have saved him, Seth,” Delphie said. “Even if you’d found him sooner, sent the Brighton Police, brought a mess of Denver police or whatever else, Jeffy would have still died. When the coroner gets her results back, she’ll see that he was poisoned.”
“What are you telling me?” Seth asked.
Seth turned on to south Sand Creek Road and immediately turned onto Forty-Seventh Avenue Drive. Dodging a police cruiser, he stopped at the barricade on Quebec Street. The uniformed police officer looked at his badge. Waving to Delphie, the policeman moved the barricade and they drove through. Seth pulled up along the curb next to the Sand Creek Trail.
“What are you telling me?” Seth repeated.
“Razor is dying or already dead,” Delphie said.
“How is that possible?” Seth asked. “It’s only been a few minutes!”
“What’s wrong with you?” Seth’s voice rose with anxiety and frustration. “Usually you’re all talk. Blah, spirits, blah, universe, blah. We’re in the middle of all of this with a child’s life is on the line and now you clam up?”
Delphie put her hand on Seth’s forearm.
“I’ve told you this entity blocks my vision,” Delphie said. “I can’t get a clear picture. I only know what I’ve said. I don’t think Razor is alive because I can’t see him. I can’t be sure and…”
“And?” Seth asked.
“I feel this growing menace toward you,” Delphie said.
“The entity is mad at me?” Seth gave an indignant laugh. “The feeling’s mutual.”
“No, the killer is mad at you,” Delphie said. “I’m sorry Seth. I wish I could help you more. My connection and experience with this entity blocks me. And…”
Delphie looked out at the night. The uniformed police moved like waves around them. There was a city of black uniformed men and women preparing to do what they do best.
“And?” Seth asked.
“I’m afraid for you,” Delphie said. “This man is furious. You stole his trophies. You took his safe haven, the barn. You’re now going to take away another one of his hideouts. He wants to get back at you. Like he did…”
Delphie’s clamped her mouth closed. Her lips formed a tight line. If Seth didn’t know her better, he’d swear she’d sealed her lips in a zipper like a twelve year old child. He pushed a piece of her red hair behind her ear.
“You can tell me anything,” Seth said. “But you have to tell me fast. We’re moving in… uh… eight minutes. Action at 9:30 p.m.”
“Were you working on this case when Bonita died?” Delphie asked.
“I don’t really remember. Everything is a blur from that time in my life,” Seth said. “We’d just gotten our first case which was…”
“The bones found at Coors Field?” Delphie asked.
“He killed Bonita and the kids,” Seth whispered. His face went completely blank. “Oh.”
They sat in silence while Seth digested the information.
“I can’t think about this right now,” Seth said.
“That’s why I didn’t want to say anything,” Delphie said. “Just put it away, sweet Seth. We’ll deal with this later.”
Delphie’s hand stroked Seth’s forehead.
“What did you just do?” Seth asked.
“I helped you put it away,” Delphie said.
Seth nodded to her.
“You’ll tell me everything,” Seth said. “No matter how ugly. Don’t protect me Delphie.”
“I protect you because I love you.”
“I know,” Seth said. “You love me like a brother. I love you like a sister. I’ve been meaning to ask… Are we?”
“We have been in many, many lifetimes,” Delphie said.
“Huh,” Seth said.
Delphie hugged him.
“I’m going with you,” Delphie said. “I wore my hiking boots.”
Delphie held out her feet.
“Deep inside, I know I can’t stop you,” Seth said. “But you really shouldn’t go.”
Delphie patted his arm and got out of the car. A police officer brought over two Kevlar vests. He helped Delphie with her vest. When Delphie looked up, Seth was surrounded by the head of the police units on scene. The officers updated him on the status of the situation. Walking over, Delphie stood just behind him. When Seth looked up to find her, he was ready to go. Delphie nodded.
They jogged down the Sand Creek trail.
Monday evening — 9:15 P.M. Middle of Denver, CO
“The sound’s off,” Alex said.
Munching on a handful of popcorn, Alex stood up so Raz could sit down in front of his laptop. Raz clicked a button and the sound came on.
“Got it,” Troy Olivas yelled from the other room.
The picture from the laptop came on the large flat screen television in the living room.
“That’s perfect!” Cian Kelly clapped. “Look at those buggers go!”
Raz picked up his laptop and went into the living room. He kicked at a pajama clad John Drayson’s legs. John vacated a chair at the small table so Raz could sit down.
“They’re starting to move,” Alex said. She plopped down on the couch next to Max.
“Do we know where they’re going?” Max asked.
“Looks like they’re moving toward that pile of cement,” Matthew said as he came into the room.
“How did you..?” Alex started.
“Troy texted,” Matthew said. “Didn’t want to miss out.”
As an ex-New York City police officer, Raz couldn’t resist explaining the scene.
“These are SWAT shooters,” Raz pointed to the men in the trees. “This is a bomb team. Look! The dogs…”
Raz stepped back to look at the picture. He shook his head.
“They don’t know what they’re getting into,” Raz said.
“We should help them out,” Alex said.
“Why?” Cian said.
Alex scowled at her brother-in-law.
“Just got the text,” Colin Hargreaves walked into the room.
“I want radar and heat imaging now,” Alex said. “What else can we get off this satellite?”
“We can call NORAD,” Matthew said.
“I’ll call Denver PD,” Raz said. “We can’t help if we don’t know what this action entails.”
“Do it,” Alex said. “I don’t want sit here eating popcorn while these guys go down in flames.”
Monday evening — 9:15 P.M. In Sandy’s Salon on Colfax Blvd, Denver, CO
“Hey the sound came on,” Teddy said.
“Oh shit,” Nash said.
“Oh shoot what?” Noelle asked.
“They know we’re on the satellite,” Nash said. “We should stop watching.”
“Now?” Teddy asked. “They already know we’re on. It’s not like we can get in more trouble.”
“We really should turn it off,” Noelle said.
“I bet we’ve broken about a billion laws,” Nash said.
“I’ll call my Dad,” Teddy said. “He gets away with murder from Mrs. Alex. Forges her signature all the time.”
Nash and Noelle looked at each other. They both looked up at Charlie.
“You don’t have anything to say?” Nash asked.
“If I tell you to do it, you’ll just say that the low life scumbag made you do it,” Charlie said. “Uh huh, no way. I’m not getting kicked out because you stole a satellite code.”
“It’s your friend!” Nash said.
“No way,” Charlie said. “You make your own decision.”
“You’re our brother now,” Noelle said. “No one’s going to kick you out.”
“You say that…” Charlie started.
“Look, they activated the heat imaging,” Teddy said.
The kids eyes riveted on the screen again.
Monday evening — 9:25 P.M.| Middle of Denver, CO
“They have information that a young man is being held prisoner in a bunker under the salvage yard,” Raz said.
“Information from whom?” Matthew asked.
“That kid Charlie,” Raz said. “You know the one they took in off the streets?”
“If there’s a hostage, this entire action is under our prevue,” Alex said.
“Let’s use this as training,” Matthew said. “We need as much practice as we can get with exactly this kind of thing.”
“I’m in my PJs!” Troy said. “I don’t want to go scrabble in the dirt.”
“Oh waa,” Max said.
“Charlie’s a good kid. I’m in,” Colin said.
“We’ll stay here,” Alex said. “Assess all the information and pass it along to the Denver PD. They probably don’t need our help…”
“They said they’d love our help,” Raz said.
“There you go,” Matthew said. “Olivas, get your computer. We need to run scenarios.”
“I want to hear that phone conversation,” Alex said.
“On it,” Raz said.
“Max, can you help with the audio?” Alex asked.
“How much time to do we have?” Troy asked.
“Four minutes,” Raz said. “They move in four minutes.”
Monday evening — 9:25 P.M. Sand Creek Greenway
“I’ve gone from not liking this to really not liking this,” Delphie said.
Seth raised an eyebrow in her direction then turned back to watch the entrance. There was a two foot by two foot hole where the pieces of stacked concrete created a tunnel. The dogs had indicated there were explosives in or around the tunnel. No one had seen movement in or out of the chamber. The SWAT Commander in charge forbad them from moving in on the location.
But Seth was stubborn. This was his case. Like it or not, he was going in.
“The heat readings indicate a person inside,” the SWAT commander said.
“The boy is there?” Seth asked.
“We have no way of knowing until we go in,” the SWAT commander said. “We can only tell you what we see. There’s a body in there. The dogs hit on explosives. We would send a rover but it can’t get up the steep river embankment. I’d have to send one of our guys to the entrance.”
“But sir, I have to tell you,” the SWAT commander said. “This has every hallmark of a trap. Ma’am?”
“It’s a trap,” Delphie said. “Yes, that’s correct.”
Still nodding, Seth put the night vision binoculars to his eyes.
Monday evening — 9:28 P.M. Middle of Denver, CO
“Heat?” Alex asked.
Alex, Raz and Matthew leaned over the satellite’s heat reading for the area.
“Warm body,” Matthew said.
“But dead,” Raz said.
“Not asleep or medicated?” Colin asked.
“Dead,” Raz said. “Just barely though. Within the hour.”
“Radar?” Alex asked.
The computer’s screen switched to a radar reading.
“There’s a small room under the airplane salvage yard,” Matthew said. “It was probably a part of the old airport. Built in the 1920s.”
“Old bootleg storage?” Max asked.
“Maybe,” Matthew said. “But probably not. There’s no indication of a secure entrance or exit. More likely it was used in building the Stapleton airport.”
“NORAD?” Alex asked.
“They concur,” Raz said. “Sonar confirms findings.”
“Body is?” Alex asked.
“Hanging,” Raz cleared his throat.
“Scenarios?” Alex asked.
“None,” Troy said. “The kidnapper has the upper hand in every scenario.”
“What did you determine from the phone call?” Raz asked.
“Taped earlier and played back,” Alex said.
“You can hear the clicks of a recording device,” Max said.
“I doubt Charlie could tell over his crappy disposable phone,” Alex said.
“This is a trap,” Troy said.
“Make the call,” Alex said.
Monday evening — 9:32 P.M. Sand Creek Greenway
“It’s my case, God damn it,” Seth said. “I’m going. And it’s time to move.”
Seth glared at the SWAT Team Commander and began walking toward the river.
Monday evening — 9:30 P.M. In Sandy’s Salon on Colfax Blvd, Denver, CO
The children’s eyes were riveted to the laptop screen. With the SWAT team backup, Seth began to hike toward the river. Three SWAT team members followed in a semi-circle behind him. They reached the river and the SWAT Team Commander ran forward. They could hear Seth and the Commander argue.
“I don’t like this,” Noelle said.
“I don’t either,” Nash said.
“This is a trap, isn’t it?” Charlie asked.
“It’s a trap,” Teddy said.
Just then Seth screamed, “Get the fuck out of my way.” He appeared to push the SWAT Team Commander away from him and stepped into the river.
“No Seth!” the children yelled. “Stop!”
Denver Cereal continues next week…
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