Winter tried to shake herself awake. She was standing, barely, kept on her feet by two sets of meaty hands lodged under her armpits.
It took a moment to realize the roaring in her ears was coming from the Pacific Ocean.
She blinked the ocean into focus, and then turned her gaze to the semi-circle of people in front of her.
They were all tall. She counted ten of them in the dawn light, an even dozen counting the two holding her upright, all dressed in hooded police-issue rain gear. The cloth badges glued over their hearts were getting soaked with the mist and the steady, light downfall of rain.
The sound of rain hitting plastic filtered through her stunned brain, and she glanced down at herself.
She was also completely covered with her hooded rain gear.
What was going on?
She tried to make her mouth work, but it was dry and her vocal cords were tight, barely allowing air into her lungs, much less allowing her to speak.
One of the officers at the center of the pack stepped forward. As with the others, she could not see his face through the deep plastic hood.
He reached to his throat and flicked a switch on a VDB, a voice disguising box. “The drug we used to knock you out makes it impossible for you to speak. All you have to do during this little staff meeting is listen.”
Her hood was jerked off her head by the man on her left, and her eyes widened at the leader’s words.
She’d been drugged? Her heart thundered within her breast in panic. She struggled to assess if or how they had harmed her.
He laughed, the sound altered to a robot-like cackle, rather than a person; making it impossible to identify the speaker or even if be sure he was a man.
“No, not that drug.” He smirked. “We haven’t spent the night taking advantage of you. That would be unethical and we are all sworn to uphold the law.”
Was he serious, or was sarcasm lacing his words?
Her mind raced as the effects of the drug lessened by the moment.
Twelve men, police officers, if the speaker were to be believed, had drugged her and rendered her voiceless.
“There’s a small task we have decided only you can take care of for us.”
She frowned at him. The cold rain plastered her hair to her scalp and ran into her eyes and down her face, dripping from her chin. Her heart raced so fast she was surprised it didn’t beat out of her chest.
The metallic taste of fear filled her dry mouth and her stomach did a slow churn.
Her knees buckled and the hands holding her up tightened so she could not slip out of their hold.
She was going to have bruises the size of hams when this was over.
“There’s a reporter in town.”
Something in the cadence of his words seemed familiar. Did she know her attackers?
“He is doing some… shall we say investigating…, on our little band here.” The leader’s arm swept out to encompass the other officers. “Your task it to find out what he knows about us and make sure any incriminating information is destroyed, before you get rid of him.”
She frowned at him and shook her head, completely at a loss. Why would a reporter investigate a group of officers? What had they done to warrant the notice of the press?
She tried to ask, to make her vocal cords relax enough to get the questions through.
The hooded officer standing next to the leader reached to his throat and flicked a switch on his VDB. “She doesn’t have a clue what you’re talking about.”
The leader nodded. “Then perhaps we should spell it out for her.”
Five officers took three steps to the left and the other five men of the semi-circle took three steps to the right. There, on the sand, was the lifeless body of the creep who had come on to her last night. Eyes she had stared down in the bar mirror were now glazed with death and sightlessly fixed on her.
Download and read April 11 from Desert Breeze Publishing.