Sunday, January 27, 2013

#SampleSunday An Inside Look at Eleven, an FBI Novel



Detailed book overview:

Eleven Rooms. Ten Bodies. One Empty Grave.

Nothing in the twenty weeks at Quantico prepared Brandon Fisher for this.  His first case as an FBI agent with the BAU takes him and his team to the small rural town of Kentucky where there’s been a startling discovery.

Buried beneath a house is an elaborate underground bunker with eleven rooms and ten bodies.  Stranger still is the one empty grave that taunts for an eleventh victim.

With the remains dating back a couple decades and the most recent being within the last few years, they know there is more than one killer at work.  The property owner was already serving a prison sentence on a fluke charge of slaughtering cows.  Now their main concern is the killer who roams free, making it necessary to negotiate with one killer to catch another. 

Yet when the course of the investigation touches close to home, threatening the lives of those he loves, Brandon fears he's become the target of a psychotic serial killer who wants to make him number eleven.


Chapter 2
Salt Lick, Kentucky was right in the middle of nowhere and had a population shy of three-fifty.  And just as the name implied, underground mineral deposits were the craving of livestock, and due to this it attracted farmers to the area.  Honestly, I was surprised the village was large enough to boast a Journey’s End Lodge and a Frosty Freeze.
I stepped into the main hub to see Jack in a heated conversation with Sheriff Harris.  From an earlier meeting with him I knew he covered all of Bath County, which included three municipalities and a combined population of about twelve thousand.
“Ah, I’m doing the best I can agent.  But, um, we’ve never seen the likes of this before.”  A born and raised Kentucky man, the Sheriff was in his mid-fifties, had a bald head and carried about an extra sixty pounds that came to rest on his front.  Both of his hands were braced on his hips, a stance of confidence, but the flicking up and down of his right index finger gave his insecurities away.
“It has nothing to do with what you’ve seen before, Sheriff.  What matters is catching the unsub.”
“Well, the property owner is in p-pri, prison,” the Kentucky accent broke through.
“The bodies date back two to three decades with the newest one being within the last few years.”
Harris’s face brightened a reddish hue as he took a deep breath and exhaled loud enough to hear.
I’m thinking Jack had the ability to make a lot of people nervous.  His dark hair, which was dusted with silver at the sideburns, gave him the look of distinction, but deeply etched creases in his facial features exposed his difficult past.
Harris shook his head.  “So much violence.  And it’s tourist season ’round here.”  Harris paused.  His eyes read, you city folks wouldn’t understand.  “Cave Run Lake is manmade but set in the middle of nature.  People love coming here to get away.  The word gets out about this, there goes the tourists.”
“Ten people have been murdered and you’re worried about tourists?”
“Course not, but—”
“It sounds like you were.”
“Then you misunderstood agent.  Besides the counties around here are peaceful, law-abidin’ citizens.”
“Church goers?”  Zachery came up from a tunnel.
“Well, ah, I wouldn’t necessarily say that.  There’s probably about thirty churches or so throughout the county, and right here in Salt Lick there’s three.”
“That’s quite a few considering the population here.”
“S’pose so.”
“Sheriff.”  A deputy came up to the group of them and pulled up on his pants.
“Yes, White.”
The deputy’s face was the shade of his name.  “The in-investigators found somethin’ you should see.”  He passed glances among all of us.
Jack held out a hand as if to say, by all means.
We followed the deputy up the ramp that led to the cellar.  With each step taking me closer to the surface, my chest expanded allowing for more satisfying breaths.  Jack glanced over at me.  I guessed he was wondering if I was going to make it.
“Tis’ way, sir.”
I could hear the deputy speaking from the front of the line, as he kept moving.  His boots hit the wooden stairs that led above ground from the cellar.
I took a deep inhale as I came through the opening into the confined space Bingham had at one time called home.  Sunlight made its way through tattered sheets that served as curtains even though the time of day was now seven, and the sun would be sinking in the sky.
The deputy led us to Bingham’s bedroom where there were two CSIs.  I heard footsteps behind me.  Paige.  She smiled at me, but it quickly faded.
“They found it in the closet,” the deputy said, pointing our focus in its direction.
The investigators moved aside, exposing an empty space.  A shelf that ran the width of the closet sat perched on a forty-five degree angle.  The inside had been painted white at one time but now resembled an antiqued paint pattern the modern age went for.  It was what I saw when my eyes followed the walls to the floor that held more interest.
Jack stepped in front of me; Zachery came up behind him and gave me a look that said, pull up the rear Pending.
“We found it when we noticed the loose floorboard,” one of the CSIs said.  He held a clipboard wedged between an arm and his chest.  The other hand held a pen, which he clicked the top of repeatedly.  Jack looked at it, and the man stopped.  “Really it’s what’s inside that’s, well, what nightmares are made of.”
I didn’t know the man.  In fact, I never saw him before, but the reflection in his eyes told me he had witnessed something that even paled the gruesome find in the bunkers.
“You first, Kid.”  Jack stepped back.
Floorboards were hinged back and exposed a hole about two and a half feet square.  My stomach tossed thinking of the CSI’s words, what nightmares are made of.
“Come on, Brandon.  I’ll follow behind you.”  Paige’s soft voice of encouragement was followed by a strategically placed hand on my right shoulder.
I glanced over at her.  I could do this.  God, I hated small spaces.  But I had wanted to be an FBI Special Agent and, well, that wish had been granted.  Maybe the saying held merit, be careful what you wish for, it might come true.
I hunched over and looked into the hole.  A wooden ladder went down at least twenty feet.  The space below was lit.
Maybe if I just took it one step at a time.
“What are you waiting for, Pending?”  Zachery taunted me.  I didn’t look at him but picked up on the amusement in his voice.
I took a deep breath and lowered myself down.  My feet got a firm hold on the ladder rung and I worked on getting my torso the rest of the way into the space.
Jack never said a word, but I could feel his energy.  He didn’t think I was ready for this, but I would prove him wrong—somehow.  The claustrophobia I had experienced in the underground passageways was nothing compared to the anxiety easing in on my chest now.  At least the tunnels were the width of three feet.  Here four sides of packed earth hugged me.  It felt as if a solid inhale would expand me to the confines of the space.
“I’m coming.”  Again, Paige’s soft voice had a way of soothing me despite the tight quarters threatening to take my last breath and smother me alive.
I looked up.  Paige’s face filled the aperture, and her red wavy hair framed her face.  It was replaced by the bottom of her shoes.
I kept moving, one rung at a time, slowly, methodically.  I tried to place myself somewhere else but no images came despite my best efforts to conjure them.  And what did I have waiting for me at the bottom?  Only what nightmares are made of.
Minutes passed before my shoes reached the soil.  I took a deep breath and looked around.  The confines on my chest eased as I realized the height down here was about seven feet.  The room was about five by five, and there was a doorway at the backside.
One pigtail fixture with a light bulb dangled from an electrical wire.  It must have fed to the same circuit as the underground passageways and been connected to the power generator as it cast dim light, creating darkened shadows in the corners.
I looked up the ladder.  Paige was about halfway down.  There was movement beyond her, and it was likely Jack and Zachery following behind her.
“You’re almost there,” I coached them.
By the time the rest of the team made it to the bottom, and the deputy along with a CSI, I had caught my breath.
Paige was the first to head around the bend in the wall.
“The Sheriff is going to stay up there an’ take care of things.”  The deputy pointed in the direction Paige went.  “What they found is in here.”
Jack and Zachery had already headed around the bend.  I followed behind.
Inside the room Paige’s hand was raised over her mouth.  It dropped when she noticed us.
A stainless steel table about the length of ten feet and three feet wide was placed against the back wall.  A commercial meat grinder sat on the table.  Everything was pristine and light from a bulb refracted off the surfaces.
To the left of the table was a freezer, plain white, one owned by the average consumer.  I had one similar, but it was the smaller version because it was only Deb and me.
My stomach tossed thinking about the contents of this one.  Paige’s feet were planted to where she first entered the room.  Zachery’s eyes fixed on Jack who moved toward the freezer and with a gloved hand opened the lid.
Paige gasped, and Jack turned to face her.  Disappointment was manifested in the way his eyes narrowed.  “It’s empty.”  Jack padded his shirt pocket again.
“If you’re thinking we found people’s remains in there, we haven’t,” the CSI said.  “But tests have shown positive for human blood.”
“So he chopped up his victim’s intestines?  Put them in the freezer?  But where are they?”  Paige wrapped her arms around her torso and bent over to look into the opening of the grinder.
“There are many cultures, The Korowai tribe of Papua New Guinea for example, who have been reported to practice cannibalism even in this modern day,” Zachery said.  “It can also be involved in religious rituals.”
Maybe my eyes should have been fixed on the freezer, on the horror that transpired underground in Salt Lick of Bath County, Kentucky.  Instead I found my training allowing me to focus, analyze, and be objective.  In order to benefit the investigation it would demand these three things, and I wouldn’t disappoint.  My attention was on the size of the table, the size of the meat grinder, and the size of the freezer.  “Anyone think to ask how this all got down here in the first place?”
All five of them faced me.
“The opening down here is only, what, two feet square at the most?  Now maybe the meat grinder would fit down, hoisted on a rope, but the table and the freezer?  No way.”
“What are you saying, Slingshot?”
My eyes darted to Jack’s.  “I’m saying there has to be another way in.”  I addressed the CSI, “Did you look for any other hidden passageways?  I mean the guy obviously had a thing for them.”
“We didn’t find anything.”
“Well, that doesn’t make sense.  Where are the burial sites in relation to here?”
“It would be that way.”  Zachery pointed towards the freezer.
We matched eyes, and both of us moved towards it.  It slid easily.  As we shoved it to the side, it revealed an opening behind it.  I looked down into it.  Another light bulb spawned eerie shadows.  I rose to full height.  This find should at least garner some praise from Jack Harper.
“Nothing like Hogan’s Alley is it, Kid?”

Would you like to read more?  Eleven is available on Amazon for Kindle and in Print.