This week’s episode features Chapter Six of Black Brick. Here is an excerpt from the show:  

I REMAINED IN MY seat on the airplane when the seatbelt sign turned off and the pilot announced we could get up.

Those around us stood and began to remove luggage from overhead bins. Beside me, Shannon was flipping through emails. She hadn’t waited for the plane to stop moving before she had turned on her phone.

I checked my watch, it was almost seven in the evening, it had been an eventful day and we'd still need to brief Beltran once we returned to Black Brick.

We’d waited for clearance from Black Brick before heading to the airport. It turned out that the video that we’d been panicking about had been too grainy to give the cops anything useful. I hadn’t seen it yet, but it showed us approaching the alley, taking out our weapons and then heading in.

Despite the assurances from Black Brick that we were safe to return, I was a little nervous that we’d find police waiting for us at the airport.

“I’m starved,” Shannon said. “Think we have time to grab a bite before heading back to Black Brick?” As she spoke, her phone rang. She listened for a moment and answered affirmatively before hanging up. “Beltran wants us back immediately. He just learned that we took a later flight. Apparently, we’re late for a meeting.” Shannon stood and pushed past me, almost running over an elderly man in the process.

I apologized to the man before following Shannon off the plane and into the airport. When Shannon decided on a course of action, heaven help anybody who stood in her way, even an old man with a cane.

00:0000:00

This week’s episode features Chapter Five of Black Brick. Here is an excerpt from the show:  

I WAS WAITING FOR Jason Kurt’s last computer to power down when there was a sound at the doorway to Kurt’s bedroom. I turned from the bank of computer screens expecting to find Shannon but instead recognized Lisa, Jason Kurt’s younger sister. Somehow we’d missed the fact she was still here when we’d broken into the home.

“Hey mister,” Lisa said in a small voice. “Whatcha doing?”

The little girl stood in the doorway, her hair in pigtails and a smudge of something on her cheek. Grape jelly? She wore a shirt that sported cartoon characters I didn’t recognize and clutched an ugly orange stuffed animal that looked like the progeny of a horse and a dolphin.

I covered up my surprise. Shannon and I had already been in the home for half an hour and had gone through every room. How had we missed her?

Cherry and Tom must have assumed Lisa had left with Kurt’s mother. I should have confirmed that they’d seen Lisa leave as well.

“Oh, I’m just helping your brother out with a few things.” I smiled at the girl, wondering why she wasn’t afraid of me. Lisa twisted around and disappeared into a room down the hall. I thought about pulling the plug on our mission as I watched her go.

She didn’t appear bothered by our presence, but I was uncomfortable having her here. Innocents were supposed to be left out of things like this. Shannon would have overheard the exchange through the earpieces that both of us wore. Her silence was telling. That meant she’d found Lisa and hadn’t told me.

I had already removed several cameras that Kurt had set up in his bedroom and Lisa had seen us. If we didn’t snag the hard drives now, we might not get a second chance. Things would be okay, Lisa was too young to give a reliable description of us, and we’d be gone soon.

I looked back at the computer monitor; I still had a few minutes before it shut down. I shifted, brushing more garbage from the desk onto the floor. How could somebody live like this? Candy wrappers and empty soda cans littered the desk and a nearby bookcase. The floor was barely visible and covered with clothes, books, a half-eaten bag of chips, and loose paper. How could Kurt’s parents tolerate an adult child who chose to live in squalor?

My mother would never have put up with this, I was sure. Unbidden, my focus shattered and the memories came rushing back. I could see every event vividly as if watching a movie, but more real. The smell of fresh vomit, the feel of my father’s cold, stiff body when I tripped and fell on top of him, the shrill screams of my mother, the loud explosion of the revolver and the acrid smell of gunpowder. The man’s laugh still echoed in my mind.

00:0000:00

This week’s episode features Chapter Four of Black Brick. Here is an excerpt from the show: 

THE FROTHY WATER REACHED out to lick the tip of my shoe, but my foot wasn’t down on the sand long enough for it to matter. The pounding of my legs on the beach seemed to be in harmony with those of Bill Martinez and Tom Vandyke who ran to the side of me. The crashing waves kept time with our gait and the sunny day was a welcome change to the cold back home.

When we'd arrived at the airport the previous day, I'd been surprised to see Martinez, Tom, and Cherry Mann waiting for us. Beltran's email hadn't mentioned anything about them. Like Shannon and I, Cherry and Tom were still on temporary status.

Martinez wasn't part of our usual team, but I'd worked with him in the past. I wasn't happy to have him along because I didn’t like the way that he operated. The last time we’d been on an assignment together, he had broken a man’s kneecap to get him to talk. I could still hear the man’s screams whenever Martinez was nearby.

The flight had been uneventful, and we'd spent the evening before doing surveillance and research on our target, Jason Kurt. This morning, Kurt was still sleeping, and we'd all agreed that we could afford some time at the beach before he woke up.

I allowed myself to relax so that I could take it all in and was glad I didn't have to attend class today. A run on the beach was a much better substitute.

The breeze was slight, the air warm, and the sun was out. It had been months since I’d experienced pleasant weather.  

One day I wanted to retire and live in a place like this. I took a deep breath and let it out.

I closed my eyes and was a kid again, running through the desert sun of Texas, the beating sun cleansing my soul. That brought with it the disapproving face of Sister Bautista. I pushed it away and allowed my focus to return.

Beside me, there was a swift movement as Tom kicked out and connected with my shin. I shifted my weight to compensate and was barely able to keep from toppling into the surf and got my foot wet in the process. So much for dry feet.

00:0000:00

This week’s episode features Chapter Three of Black Brick. Here is an excerpt from the show:

THE SUN PEEKED OUT of the clouds as Shannon and I walked onto Kingstone Campus; it was nice to have a brief moment of heat to temper the cold of the early spring. As the sun disappeared again, I dug my hands deeper into the pockets of my coat and tried to clear my head from the morning’s research. Everything I’d read was starting to jumble together, and I was glad for the exercise.

“Why can’t the news sites get anything right?” Shannon asked as she walked with her phone in hand, eyes glued to the screen while she flipped through stories. “Here’s one that claims you and I were Latino men. I just finished another that said it was a fight between three rival gangs.”  

I was glad the media didn’t have their facts straight. It made it harder for the incident to be linked back to us.

“Any word on the ID of the victims?” I asked, wishing that we would have had time to snap a few photos of Andrews’ assailants. At least then we would have had something more to look into.

Shannon shook her head without looking up. I took her arm and guided her to one side of the sidewalk so that a cluster of approaching girls could pass on the other side.

Jeff Beltran’s contact with the police hadn’t got back to him yet, so we didn't know what evidence they'd been able to collect. Depending on what came back, Beltran might use his connections to obfuscate anything that led to us.

00:0000:00

This week’s episode features Chapters One and Two of Black Brick. Here is an excerpt from the show:

I COULDN’T SILENCE THE alarm bells ringing in my head as Bruce Andrews and his date walked out of the restaurant. They were heading to the ballet but weren’t going to make it.

With a glance towards my partner Shannon, I dropped enough cash on the table to cover the bill.

Shannon was staring after Andrews, and I almost reminded her to not break cover, but I thought better of it when I saw the silent snarl on her lips. I headed towards the door instead.

I was nervous now that Andrews was out of our sight. He had just made a lewd comment to his date, and she had giggled. Shannon growled, and I shook my head.

Our surveillance team had planted a bug on Andrews earlier in the day and I was beginning to wish that they hadn’t. Ignorance would have been useful. We couldn’t be expected to stop something if we didn’t know about it. When Andrews made his next comment, I almost removed my Bluetooth ear bud altogether.

“I’m gonna let her kill him,” Shannon said as she darted past me and waited for me to open the restaurant door, I zipped up my coat before grabbing it. “I swear I will. I don’t care if he thinks she’s an escort, nobody should have to put up with that kind of abuse. I hope she tortures him too. I’m gonna watch and enjoy every minute. This smelly city will be better without a scumbag like him.”

00:0000:00

This week’s episode features Chapter Thirty Two and the Epilogue of War of the Fathers. Click here to download it or press play below. Here is an excerpt from the show: 

After exiting the Arches, they found themselves emerging from the rock face of another mountain and Jorad looked up when he felt the rising sun on his face. An overgrown trail led from the arch down the mountain and the majority of the leaves on the trees were orange and yellow. He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. The hardest task that he ever faced was now only a couple of days away, but the scent of nearby flowers filled him with a feeling of hope that he might succeed. It was not going to be an easy path, but the fact that he had fought and killed Hunwei multiple times provided him with the confidence that he was ready.

Soret had cried through the night, and Jorad hadn’t been able to comfort her or do anything to ease her mind. After a sufficient amount of time had gone by to allow the Hunwei to lose interest, Karn and the others had tried in vain to reopen the Zecarani arch. After they had given up, despite the fact that Jorad could barely stand, he had tried as well. He didn't know how long he had stood there, leaning against the wall while touching his thumb to the top of the arch, but it finally got to the point where he had to sink down to the floor or fall over from exhaustion. Whatever it was that had made it work before, it wasn’t working now. Xarda had ventured a guess that the Hunwei had somehow done something to damage it and that had become the prevailing theory as to why it wasn’t working.

Even as Jorad’s heart now went out to Soret, that didn’t dampen his mood much. They’d saved almost two hundred people from Zecarani. He smiled. It was his first real smile in quite some time, and it felt good.

00:0000:00

This week’s episode features Chapter Thirty One of War of the Fathers. Click here to download it or press play below. Here is an excerpt from the show: 

Adar gripped his blaster as he peeked his head over the windowsill and watched the street below him fill with Hunwei. It could have been five minutes, or it could have been two hours since Tere had jumped out the window, he didn't know. After several more calming breaths, he felt like he had a better handle on his anger. He would hunt down Tere and probably kill him, but he wouldn't be a madman running amok. No, he'd be careful. He would search out Tere and take him when he was off his guard. The man didn't deserve the honor of a fair fight.

He snorted. That would only happen if something went wrong with the tower and it didn’t work, and he somehow was able to escape the Hunwei’s annihilation of those in the city. The grim reality of his situation began to settle down onto him and he sunk back down to the floor. Why did he have to learn the truth now? Why couldn’t he have learned it years ago before he’d left Rarbon? Everything would have been different. Adar would have been Ghar and Jorad would have grown up without the pressure of having to get into the Portal because Adar would have already done that. They would have had a fifteen-year edge and possibly have been able to build tools to defend themselves with knowledge from the Portal rather than pinning all their hopes on ancient technology that might do as much harm as good. He wouldn’t have found himself here today, without an inch of visibility into the future, surrounded by Hunwei and waiting for an ancient piece of technology to start working.

He set his jaw, he’d escaped from a doomed town once before, he could do it again, last time he hadn’t even had a blaster. Now I can take my pick of which one I want to use, he thought, as he looked around the room.

The truth was, he didn’t know what to hope for. If the tower worked, it would strike a blow to the Hunwei, but it would likely be the only significant loss they would suffer unless Jorad was able to get into the Rarbon Portal and find other weapons to use against them. On the other hand, Adar wasn’t ready to die yet either and didn’t want to take a bunch of other people with him, especially now that he knew who had killed Nelion. He wouldn’t be able to rest until he had found Tere and punished him.

00:0000:00

This week’s episode features Chapter Thirty of War of the Fathers. Click here to download it or press play below. Here is an excerpt from the show:

Jorad tried to ignore his pain as the rain pelted his bruised face but it wasn’t working very well. He stifled a grunt as he looked out from behind the overturned cart at the thirteen Hunwei that were congregated around the alley that led to the Arches. Two of the monsters were snarling at one another and had been for the last several minutes. If there had been one or two, Jorad would have taken his chances and used the blaster, but not with thirteen. As he studied the Hunwei, racking his brain for a plan, he wondered how Adar was doing. Had he gotten to the tablet before the invasion had started? Jorad wished Adar was here. He could have used a measure of his father’s confidence to handle the situation before him.

Unfortunately, from his vantage point, he was unable to tell if the arch was still open. If Xarda hadn't been able to close it in time. . . . He didn't dwell on the thought. She had most likely closed it, but not before the Hunwei saw something that made them want to investigate further. This was probably the reason that there was a group of them arguing. Perhaps one had seen Xarda and the others as the arch had closed and was having trouble convincing the other Hunwei about what had happened.

As he ran his hand through his hair, he grimaced when he realized he’d just smeared blood from his hair onto his hand. He tried wiping it on his pants, but his hand seemed more bloody afterward. That effect was hopefully caused by the pouring rain and not because his pants were soaked with blood. If it was the latter, it wasn’t his own blood on his pants. The look on Thon’s face as Jorad had stabbed the man came to mind and he was almost overcome with paralysis. Maybe Thon would survive; perhaps Jorad had missed the vital organs.

00:0000:00

This week’s episode features Chapter Twenty Nine of War of the Fathers. Click here to download it or press play below. Here is an excerpt from the show:

It had taken Adar and Tere the better part of half an hour to get to the archive on the second floor. During that time, they still hadn't been able to find Karn, and they'd managed to kill another group of Hunwei. During his years in exile, Adar had sometimes wondered what it would be like when the Hunwei came back. He'd never once thought that the person at his back would end up being Tere. He’d expected that it would be Jorad and had spent countless hours training Jorad on what he would need to do when the time came. As much as Adar hated to admit it, he could have been stuck with a worse person. At least he knew how Tere fought and what he could expect.

After the first battle downstairs, they’d settled into a sort of rhythm that they’d used in the years past. Adar would take the lead while Tere watched the rear and then after they advanced for a bit, they would switch. It had been their habit to keep them both alert to their surroundings by constantly changing up their role. They’d settled right down into it again, without even a spoken word between them. Working together with Tere reminded Adar of what it had been like when they had still been in training. Back then, they had been inseparable. As much as Adar wanted to let Tere back into his life, he knew that it would be a mistake.

Now, as Adar constantly watched for an attack from Tere, he couldn’t help but wonder what he would have thought back then if he’d known that more than twenty years later they’d be just a hair away from killing one another. He shook his head and pushed away the sentimental feelings, there was no going back.

He’d been wrong to trust Tere before, and it would be wrong to do it again. During his time in Rarbon, Adar had never been able to find out for certain, but he’d come to believe that Tere had been Abel’s man from the beginning, specifically assigned to befriend Adar and become his confidante. Every time that Adar had thought that he was closing in on the truth about Tere’s allegiances, he’d been unable to prove the connection; something had always obfuscated the truth. It was only now, in the face of the knowledge that Tere had been looking for him all these years at the behest of Abel that Adar had finally decided that he could deny the truth no longer. Tere was sworn to Abel and always had been.

00:0000:00

This week’s episode features Chapter Twenty Eight of War of the Fathers. Click here to download it or press play below. Here is an excerpt from the show:

As the sizzle of lightning flashed across the sky, thunder filled the air. Jorad looked up at the sky expecting that the invasion had already begun, but he only saw flashes of lightning with more accompanying thunder. It was hard to tell the difference between the thunder and explosions that accompanied a Hunwei invasion. Resisting the urge to look up again with the next flash of lightning, he stepped out into the street that connected to the alley with the arch.

It was mostly empty. Several people turned a corner and disappeared from view. Jorad called out to the nearest man who was hurrying past, anxious to get home before the storm. The man turned and looked at Jorad but didn't stop. It was a pity that the man hadn't stopped, but Jorad wasn't going to waste time chasing him down.

It had turned out that everyone wanted to help warn Zecarani. Jorad tried without success to convince at least Soret to stay at the arch, but she was the most adamant of any of them. He couldn’t blame her. She’d lost so much. After they’d dumped their packs in the Arches, they'd entered Zecarani. Jorad had suggested that they keep the arch open, focus first on the closest buildings, and work from there. Nobody had disagreed.

Xarda and Wes went one direction while Tarner and Leron went the other. After they had worked this street, they would meet at the Arch with the people they’d collected. Anybody that could help they would enlist and everybody else would go into the Arches.

Jorad went across the street to the closest shop, which turned out to be a bakery. As he walked up the wooden stairs to the door, the smell of bread fresh out of the oven greeted them. He could see the baker at the counter on the far side of the wall through the two small windows. Upon entering, the first thing he noticed was a large cake that sat out on the counter, it was decorated with strawberries. He’d forgotten the other day that he wanted to introduce Soret to real cake. No time for that now.

The baker greeted them. He was a rather large man wearing an apron that looked like it hadn't been washed in years. Underneath the fresh cover of white flour, there were dark stains. The sight made Jorad's desire for the cake vanish. The door to the kitchen was opposite the entrance. It was open, and Jorad could make out the back of a woman as she stirred something in a large wooden bowl. Beside her was a small girl sitting on the floor playing with several dolls.

“The Hunwei are about to attack,” Jorad said. “You don’t have time to grab much, gather your family and have them meet us out here in the street. I know a safe way out of the city.” As he spoke, the baker’s face had shown several different emotions, starting with a smile—clearly expecting a joke—but now he was frowning.

“Hunwei? How stupid do you think I am? I follow you out into the street, and your friends come in from the back and rob me. I wasn’t born yesterday, son.”

Jorad reached into the bag, pulled out the Hunwei head, and set it on the counter beside the cake. “Ok. You tell me what this is then.”

00:0000:00

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »