By Lyn Townsend
Beta Read by Renegade and Wolf
Written for PetFly by:
Teleplay by: David Newman and Gail Morgan Hickman
Story by: Brad Markowitz
internal thought in italics
A thin plume of smoke rose lazily from the crushed metal of the prison
van. The blown out tire had sent it careening out of control until the trunk of a large
tree halted its trajectory. A hammering from within smashed open the back door and a thin
disheveled man with lank blond hair staggered out. He wore prison issue overalls and his
hands were shackled in front of him. A pain-filled voice echoed from within the confines
of the van.
“Weston, man, get me out of here. I think my leg is broke.”
“I’m going to see what the situation is,” Weston said as he crept carefully to the side of the van and risked a quick look around the corner. He smiled at the sight of the young guard slumped half out of the cab and hurried forward to remove keys, gun and cigarettes from the dead man’s pockets.
Pete Johnson, the prisoner still trapped in the van, continued to moan in pain as Weston paused to listen to the music still blasting from the radio.
“Hey man, I love this song,” Weston said. “You like Angie Ferris?”
“I don’t care about her,” Johnson said, fear beginning to merge with the pain in his voice. “Just get me out of here. Don’t you leave, Weston.”
Weston knelt to unlock the handcuffs restraining his wrists, continuing to reassure the other man that he would not leave him behind. “I’ve got Moseley’s phone. I’m going to call for help, man.”
“Weston? Man, I smell gas!" Pete Johnson began a futile struggle to free himself from his bonds.
“You smell gas?" Weston bent lower and eyed the slowly dripping fuel. “Sure you do.”
The imprisoned man was begging Weston for help now, his panic palpable. Ray Weston stood and lit a cigarette, then tossed the still burning match into the growing puddle of gas. Johnson seemed suddenly to realize his fate and screamed Weston’s name once more before his terror was swallowed up by the massive roar of an explosion. Weston walked away as the sky rained pieces of metal and bled a fiery haze.
Jim Ellison looked over at his companion and frowned. Blair was seated
next to him at his desk, his eyes fixed on the computer screen in front of him, earphones
firmly in place. The young man bounced up and down, nodded his head and occasionally sang
small snatches of song as his fingers flew over the keyboard.
“Do you mind?" Jim asked. When there was no reply except for a rather disturbing wail that Jim assumed was supposed to be a guitar solo, he leaned over and nudged the other man in the ribs. The response was instantaneous. Blair swung the chair toward him and popped the earphones out and rubbed his ribs, scowling at the other man.
“Ow! What did you do that for?”
“You wouldn’t answer me,” Jim replied. “Would you mind turning that…thing off while you’re working?”
“The Walkman?" Blair picked up the cassette player. “It helps me to concentrate.”
“Yeah? Well, I can’t concentrate with you bouncing all over the place like that,” Jim replied peevishly.
“Jim, you should try it some time. It really helps. Tell you what. Here, give it a shot." Sandburg offered the earplugs to the detective, then grinned. “Guess you don’t really need these, huh?”
“Exactly." Jim turned back to the report on his desk. “Now, can we get back to work here?”
“Ellison. Sandburg. My office.”
The two men pushed their chairs back at the captain’s summons and made their way across the room. Jim motioned for Blair to shut the door behind them and waited while Simon introduced a fourth man to them as Warden Nichols. The captain indicated a file on his desk.
“It’s the file on Ray Weston,” Warden Nichols explained. “One of our prison vans blew a tire and crashed on its way back from court yesterday. The two guards and another prisoner were killed. Weston made his way to a nearby farmhouse and stole himself a pickup truck.”
“What’s he in for?” Jim asked.
“Jewelry store robbery,” Simon answered. “He murdered the owner. Five years ago, right?" At the affirmative nod from the warden, he continued, “Life sentence.”
“He’s a major league psychotic,” the warden added.
Blair had wandered over to the table, and was leafing casually through the files. “Oh man, you are not kidding,” he said, picking up a defaced photo from the stack.
“What’s all this?” Jim asked, looking over his partner’s shoulder.
“Well, these were on Weston’s prison cell wall. There’s two more walls with the same. Floor to ceiling, all defaced,” Nichols answered.
“And who is she?” Jim asked, looking perplexed.
“It’s Angie Ferris. The singer. You’ve never heard of her?” Blair looked at Jim in surprise.
“As far as I’m concerned the last group worth listening to was Santana,” Jim replied, defensively.
“They’re okay, but Ferris has a good sound. She’s got a sort of pop-rock-gospel-classical thing going. Very socially conscious. Her last album did some really big numbers,” Simon put in. He warmed to his subject, seemingly unaware of the bemused expressions on the faces of his men. “She had this one hit was just slammin’. It had this bop-da-bop…." The captain illustrated his point by drumming his fingers on the desk, then stopped, looking embarrassed at his lapse. “My son listens to her, okay?” he offered lamely.
Blair grinned widely. “It’s all right. I really dig it, you know, when the older generation gets into new stuff.”
“So this Weston is a fan, I take it?” Jim asked, anxious to get back to the case.
The warden nodded. “He was obsessed. He once even stabbed another inmate over her picture on a magazine cover.”
As the warden spoke, the phone rang and Simon moved to take it. When he hung up, his face was grim. He passed on the information that the stolen truck had been found abandoned on the waterfront. At least they knew now that Weston was in Cascade. Jim mulled over the fact that an escaped prisoner would want to get out of the state as quickly as possible. Unless… “Is he obsessed enough with her to track her down to get close to her?” Jim looked at Nichols.
Nichols nodded. “He has the classic profile of a stalker according to the psychologist,” he answered.
Simon held out a slip of paper. “Here’s her address. I’ve spoken to her manager and after some argument, he’s agreed to tell her security people to back off from this one and let the PD handle it." The captain grinned. “He has, of course, offered us his total cooperation.”
“I bet he has,” Jim said. “Thank you. Come on, Chief." Jim led the way out of the office, aware that Blair was still grinning over Simon’s antics and now that they were out of the captain’s presence, he indulged in a snort of humor himself.
Angie Ferris’ apartment building was opulent and Blair was obviously
impressed as he followed Jim to the front door.
“Wow! I guess a few million albums these days buys a pretty nice lifestyle,” he said, looking around.
As they stopped outside the apartment door, he stilled Jim with a hand on his arm. Loud music with a heavy emphasis on bass and drums emanated from within. “Oh, wait. Do you hear that? That has got to be from her new album. We’re getting a sneak preview here, man. What do you think?” he asked Jim, already bouncing on his toes to the beat.
Jim grunted non-commitally. “She’s no Aretha Franklin." Shaking his head at Sandburg’s exuberant behavior, he rapped loudly at the door. The door opened wide enough to reveal a dark, young face. Jim grimaced at the volume of sound and raised his voice to be heard.
“I’m Detective Ellison and this is Blair Sandburg.”
Blair acknowledged the youngster with a wave of his hand; his body keeping time with the beat of the music. The girl looked apprehensive as she asked them what was wrong.
“Could you turn your music down, sweetheart?” Jim asked.
“Oh, sure. Come on in." The girl opened the door wider and ushered them into the spacious apartment, before turning to lower the volume on the sound system.
“Thank you,” Jim smiled. “My hearing’s a little sensitive." Before he could say anything further, an imperious voice rang out from the staircase behind them.
“Pam? I thought I told you never to let anyone in here without my permission.”
The girl grimaced at the two men, then faced her mother. “I’m sorry, Mom.”
Angie Ferris strode down the stairs and looked both men up and down, her arms folded in front of her. She was tall and thin, her clothes casual but obviously expensive, her shoulder length hair brushed back from her face. She glared at Jim. “I want you to leave right now before I call the police.”
Jim opened his wallet and flashed his badge at the singer. “I’m Detective Ellison, Cascade Police Department. This is Blair Sandburg.”
“Hi,” Blair said, smiling widely.
Angie looked doubtfully at the longhaired young man before her. “Are you a cop too?” she asked.
“Actually, I’m a consultant to the police." At the disbelief on her face, he pulled up his own ID and waved it at her. “Really.”
Jim did not want to frighten Pam and was relieved when Angie sent her daughter to her room. Once she had gone, he pulled Ray Weston’s mug shot from his pocket and held it up. “Mrs. Ferris, have you ever met a man named Ray Weston?”
Angie’s eyes flicked quickly over the photo. “No,” she said firmly.
Jim explained Weston’s history to her and the fact that the escapee had seemed to be obsessed with her, but Angie insisted she did not know him and would not have seen any mail from him, the latter being handled by her publicity department. The detective was convinced that Weston would appear and asked for her permission to leave an officer with them. Angie balked at the suggestion, insisting that they were safe enough with the security she already had. Jim argued further with her but Angie stood her ground, then interrupted him as her phone rang.
“Hello,” Angie looked suddenly nervous and Jim dialed his hearing up. The strains of one of the singer’s songs echoed from the receiver as Angie repeatedly asked the caller to identify himself.
Jim walked quickly out to the balcony and looked over the concrete wall. Finding the source of the music, he piggybacked his sight to his hearing and tracked down to a red truck parked at the curb. He wondered briefly where Weston had picked up this truck, knowing that the first vehicle had already been found abandoned. Focusing his sight into the cab in the hope of seeing Weston more clearly, Jim’s sight rested on the CD cover sitting on the dash and he recognized Angie’s face. Sensing Blair moving to his side, he straightened up.
“What’s going on?” Blair asked.
Jim pulled his cell phone from his pocket and pushed it into the observer’s hand. “Call for backup,” he instructed as he headed back inside. “He’s here.”
“What?" Blair said in surprise, but he automatically opened the phone and began to dial.
“How do I call the guard downstairs?” Jim said urgently.
Angie looked confused for a moment but hung up the phone and picked up a remote control. “There’s a video intercom in the lobby.”
She watched in horror as a grainy image appeared on the monitor and Weston brutally bashed the security guard before disappearing out of camera range.
“Oh my God,” she whispered, her voice now tight with fear.
Jim headed for the front door, turning to speak to Angie again. “All right, I want you to join your daughter in her bedroom and stay there, please." Angie headed for the stairs as Blair came back into the apartment. “Sandburg, lock the door behind me.”
Jim shook his head. “No arguments, Sandburg. Lock the door.”
Blair sighed and nodded. “All right,” he agreed.
Jim headed down the hallway to the elevator, grimacing as the doors opened to reveal the lifeless body of the security guard. The detective headed for the stairs and made his way down. Pausing at the ground level, Jim extended his hearing once more and soon zeroed in on the quiet snick of a gun being cocked. Carefully he crept around the corner and came up behind the prisoner, leveling his gun at Weston’s head.
“All right, drop your weapon. Nice and slow.”
Weston started at the voice but then bent slowly to drop his gun to the ground, not looking around. Jim relaxed slightly, relieved that the man was going quietly, then snapped back suddenly as Weston jumped up from his crouched position, whirling to knock the detective’s gun from his grasp.
Before Jim could react, Weston had his arm pulled around behind his back and then Jim’s head exploded in agony as the killer slammed him face first against the wall. Jim felt his knees buckle as Weston repeated the action then threw him to the ground. Jim had not had a chance to turn his senses down and every blow Weston struck felt magnified a thousand times.
With his vision beginning to gray out, Jim put all his energy into getting up off the floor, to at least have some chance at defending himself. He pushed himself up on shaking arms, and then the breath was driven from him as Weston delivered a brutal kick to his chest. Trying to ignore the pain coursing through his body, Jim managed to haul himself upright, only to stagger back as Weston attacked with a series of open handed slams and then a roundhouse kick that propelled Jim off his feet. He felt the impact of the window at his back and raised his arms to protect his head from the shower of glass that cascaded around him.
His training kicked in automatically despite his waning consciousness, and he managed to tuck himself into a ball as he hit the ground. He felt a boot touch his shoulder as Weston stepped over his prone body. Finally, the pain in his head overtook everything else and he gave in to the welcoming darkness.