(This is a rough draft--Grammar/Spelling may be off because I haven't had a chance to proofread or edit very much.)
When I walked into my bedroom, something felt off. Maybe it had been the fact that I’d been chasing down Greg Casey for days on no sleep, and hardly any food. Right now I was too tired and upset to be anything but pissed at the fact that Connelly had sent me home to sleep it off. They got all the glory for capturing Casey. Sure, he wasn’t in custody, yet, but it was close. They had a BOLO out, and all of Metro and Baltimore were on the look-out, and for now, I was going to sleep.
But when I stepped foot in my room it felt so…weird. Everything looked the same, it was just the atmosphere. Fear swelled in my gut.
I yelled as my phone rang, rousing me from the irrational sense of fear. “Dern.”
“Shannon! We were wrong! We were so wrong!”
“Cassidy? Why are you yelling?”
“I’m on my way to your place. Stay put. Lock your door. Don’t answer the door for anyone!”
The panic rose again and I ran for my front door, skidding past my little kitchen and sliding the lock in place. “What’s going on?”
“We were wrong. It’s not Casey. Those aren’t his fingerprints in blood.”
I sprinted back to my room and grabbed one of my many guns from my side table. I cocked it and shut the bedroom door, locking that firmly as well. “Then who was it and why am I keeping myself locked up?”
“It was Andy Bishop, aka: Paul Mann.”
In that moment, I couldn’t breathe. A headache pounded at my head and I slid down the wall my back was on, landing on the floor. My pained head rested against the frame of my door. The heart in my chest was in danger of stopping. Lips, tongue, voice—nothing was working. I couldn’t make myself talk. Shock was settling in.
For years, I’d searched for the only Mann that I was sure was still alive, until I’d figure he’d died. I’d needed to find him. Mann was the thing that kept me up at night, the thing that gave me nightmares. If I’d found his son, I’d have real insight to Mann’s real life. My only hope was that Paul wasn’t as screwed up as his dad, especially after Alan had killed his other son and daughter.
I moaned, the little mew of sound letting him know I was still alive.
“I’m on my way. You can expect me in five minutes, Shannon!”
Without another word, I flipped my phone closed. When I forced myself to stand again, I noticed it. The playing card. On my pillow. The King of Hearts.
Cassidy raced, breaking multiple traffic laws at once in his pursuit to make it to Shannon’s apartment. Paul could very likely be there when he arrived, but Cassidy wasn’t letting him take her. Sam Morris was sitting in the seat next to him, head in his hands, his thoughts caught in a tailspin. In the place when Sam had just been, the woman he cared so much for was in danger. And all he could do was wait until he got there…
They raced up the stairs, not willing to waste time in the elevator. Her door was closed. Sam reached forward and turned the knob. It opened.
“Damn. I told her to lock it…” Cassidy whispered.
They entered, guns held at the ready.
Her apartment looked utterly untouched. Soft jazz was playing her study. It looked normal, and felt oh-so wrong.
Sam ran through the hallway and tried opening her bedroom door. It gave it, letting Sam step in.
Blood on the walls and the window. A piece of black T-shirt fabric on the ground, soaked in the sticky red stuff. Other than that, the rest of her bedroom looked just fine. And then, the final thing Sam noticed before running out to grab Cassidy, was the little card on Shannon’s pillow and the note right next to it that said, “She’s not coming back and you’ll never find her.”
Two Days Later:
He was standing three yards away from me, clothes looking fresh, hair clean. We were in what appeared to be his cabin—the site where he took his victims. He must’ve had another building or section for them, because the living room of the warm house was perfectly untouched. A small couch was supporting his leaning weight and I was sitting on a mattress in the center of the room, between the couch and the windowed, but curtained, wall.
My head was swimming as I stood from the small mattress. I felt unbelievably weak. He had made me weak—starving me for two days, giving me those shots to keep me unconscious, kicking and beating me whenever I awoke… But only once did he ever speak to me. The end of the first day, the moment he first sliced me with his deadly sharp combat knife, he told me, “This is for my father.”
I took a deep breath and stared at him. He looked just like him. He looked exactly like his father. His eyes were the same dark brown. His jaw was the same square shape. He was taller, though. And much younger looking.
“Shannon Dern…” he hissed.
My heart was pounding in my chest. Only once had I faced a man and a situation like this before: when I was trapped in that warehouse with Alan Mann. I was alone for three days before I killed him, using the gun he’d taken from me before everything that happened there had happened.
“My father is dead because of you.”
“The world is safer because of me. You’re father wasn’t well, Bishop. And neither are you.”
He shrugged, blowing off my comment. “Safe is such a strong word.”
My ripped up shirt and jeans were clinging tightly to me with sweat. Blood dripped from my cheek, my leg, my neck, and multiple places on my torso. Not only was my wrist likely broken, but I felt ribs poking places that were not meant to be poked. Probably a couple of those were broken as well.
“Why are you here, Dern?”
“You’re a criminal.” He noticeably winced, the hand that held the gun tensing. “You’ve raped, murdered, and tortured so many people.”
“Criminal?” He chuckled and then suddenly, without warning, his expression became somber and sad. “I’m nothing of the sort.” The arm that held the gun fell to his side and I felt myself relax. Apparently this subject made him slightly emotional. When he spoke again, his voice was shaking, as if he was trying to hold back tears.
“You’re a murderer.”
“Murder? Is that what they’re calling justice, now?!” he screamed. “That bitch stabbed me! So I blew her away!”
I felt another wave of lightheadedness crash over me and I stumbled. But Bishop didn’t seem to notice.
“And that man, Esposito? He betrayed you, you know. He gave me secrets about you! Why do you think I even found you in the first place? Because of him. He gave me the map to you. And I don’t like people that’ll betray their friends.”
“I didn’t even know him, Andy. He looked me up with his connections, didn’t he? You would’ve killed him even if he hadn’t told you where I was. You convinced yourself he was trying to betray me. And that gave you a reason to kill him.” My patience was running out as I calmly talked to Bishop, trying so hard to work at his rational side—the side that told him how unworthy he was of living.
He shook his head, his eyes tightly shut. “No! I’m not a killer! I’m bringing justice! He…” A sob came from his chest as he looked straight at me, again.
Splotches of blood decorated my eye sight and I brushed away the redness falling from my forehead. Andy Bishop’s subconscious was attacking him. I could see his brain whirling, his thoughts fighting. My knees were buckling. I shouldn’t have tried to stand.
“Damn,” I whispered to myself as I collapsed onto the floor. My head crashed onto the wood floor, landing in a pool of my own blood. My eyes were blotching out and I groaned as I tried to roll over.
The demons of my imagination swarmed around me. Exhaustion landed by my head. Pain and Suffering hovered. But then there was that little thing in the back of my mind that was pushing me forward, making me want to fight back against him. I needed to fight back.
A groan came from my lips as I tried hard to stand.
A sharp pain hit my stomach and my efforts were wasted as I fell back again. My throat suddenly ached and I realized I’d been screaming. Another blow to my stomach. I spit blood.
He screamed cusses at me while I refused to stop moaning and groaning and whining…
I’d been blind for the past two minutes. Even when I knew my eyes were open, all I saw was red and black. I felt myself dying. I felt my senses floating away and numbness settling comfortably over me. A couple nudges and slaps were found aware on my skin, but soon those were fading too.
It all started and ended with a gunshot. A scream of bloody murder filled my ears, but I couldn’t tell who it was from. My throat ached with it; a sharp pain pierced my shoulder; another prick of pain, this time in my knee. A kick attacked my neck. Another gunshot. One more shaky breath, hardly reaching my lungs…
A sharp sound met my ears. And I died.
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So much love,