#SampleSunday Immerse Yourself in the Burial Chambers - ELEVEN #thriller
Eleven Rooms. Ten Bodies. One Empty Grave.
Brandon Fisher never expected this when he signed up as a Special Agent for the FBI. Working in the shadow of Supervisory Special Agent Jack Harper of the Behavioral Analysis Unit his career seemed set. But when the team is called to a small rural town where the remains of ten victims are found in an underground bunker, buried in an unusual way, Brandon knows he'll never return to his normal life.
With one empty grave, and the case touching close to home, he fears he's become the target of a psychotic serial killer who wants to make him number eleven. Only thing is, everything Brandon thinks he knows is far from the truth.
Excerpt taken Eleven (Brandon Fisher FBI Series), Chapter 1
Nothing in the twenty weeks at
prepared me for
A Crime Scene Investigator, who had identified himself as Earl Royster when we first arrived, came out of a room and addressed FBI Supervisory Special Agent Jack Harper. “All of the victims were buried—” He held up a finger, his eyes squeezed shut, and he sneezed. “Sorry ’bout that. My allergies don’t like it down here. They were all buried the same way.”
This was my first case with the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit, and it took us to Salt Lick,
. The discovery was made this morning, and we
were briefed and flown out from Quantico to the Louisville field office where
we picked up a couple of SUVs. We drove
from there and got here about four in the afternoon. Kentucky
We were in a bunker illuminated by portable lights brought in by the local investigative team. A series of four tunnels spread out as a root system beneath a house the size of a mobile trailer and extended under an abandoned cornfield.
A doorway in the cellar of the house led down eleven feet to a main hub from which the tunnels fed off. The walls were packed dirt and an electrical cord ran along the ceiling with pigtail fixtures attached every few feet.
We were standing in the hub which was fifteen and a quarter feet wide and arched out to a depth of seven and half feet. The tunnels were only about three feet wide, and the height clearance was about the same as here, six and a half feet. The bulbs dangled down from the fixtures another eight inches.
I pulled out on the collar of my shirt wishing for a smaller frame than my six foot two. As it was, the three of us could have reached out and touched each other if we were inclined.
“It’s believed each victim had the same cuts inflicted,” Royster said. “Although most of the remains are skeletal so it’s not as easy to know for sure, but based on burial method this guy obviously had a ritual. The most recent victim is only a few years old and was preserved by the soil. The oldest remains are estimated to date back twenty-five to thirty years. Bingham moved in twenty-six years ago.”
Lance Bingham was the property owner, age sixty-two, and was currently serving three to five years in a correctional facility for killing two cows and assaulting a neighbor. If he moved in twenty-six years ago, that would put Bingham at thirty-six. The statistical age for a serial killer to start out is early to mid-thirties.
The CSI continued to relay more information about how the tunnels branched out in various directions and the ends came to a bulbous tip.
“There’s eleven rooms and only ten bodies.” Jack rushed the briefing along as he pulled a cigarette out of a shirt pocket. He didn’t light up, but his lips suctioned around it as if it was a life supply.
Royster’s eyes went from the cigarette to Jack’s face. “Yes. There’s one tunnel that leads to a dead end and there’s one empty grave.”
“What do you make of it?” Jack spoke with the cigarette bobbing in his mouth and turned to me.
“Of the empty grave?”
Jack’s smile slanted higher on the right, his eyes pinched, and he removed the cigarette from his mouth. “That and the latest victim.”
Bingham had been in prison for the last three years. The elaborate tunnel system he had going would have taken years to plan and dig, and it would have taken strength, leaning towards Bingham not working alone. “He had help. Someone followed behind him.”
Jack perched the unlit smoke back in his lips. “Hmm.”
“Anyway, you’ll want to see it for yourself. I haven’t seen anything like it,” Royster continued.
Jack’s eyes narrowed, and his brows compressed.
“Come—” The back of a wrist came to his nose in an instant. The spray of sneeze only somewhat diverted. More sniffles. “Sorry ’bout that. Anyway, this way.”
Jack motioned for me to go ahead of him.
My thoughts were on the width of the tunnel. I took a deep breath, careful to stagger it so that he wouldn’t notice.
I pulled out on my collar again. Sweat dripped down my back.
“Go ahead, Kid.”
Both Jack and the CSI were watching me.
The CSI said, “We’ll look at the most recent victim first. Now as you know the victims alternated male and female. The tenth victim was female so we believe the next is going to be—”
“Let me guess, male,” Jack interrupted him.
“Yeah.” Royster took off down the third tunnel that fed from the bottom right of the hub.
I followed behind him, tracing the walls with my hands. My heart palpitated. I ducked to miss the bulbs just as I knew I’d have to and worked at focusing on the positive. Above ground the humidity sucked air from the lungs; down here the air was cool.
Another heart palpitation.
I counted my paces—five, six. The further we went the heavier my chest became, making the next breath even more expectant and less taken for granted.
But, this was my first case. I had to be strong. The rumor was you either survived Jack and the two years of probationary service and became a certified Special Agent, or your new job would be security detail at a mall.
Five more paces, and we entered an offshoot from the main tunnel. According to Royster, three burial chambers came off this tunnel. He described these as branches on a tree. Each branch came off the main trunk for the length of about ten feet and ended in a circular space of about eleven feet in diameter. The idea of more space seemed welcoming until we reached it.
A circular grave took up most of the space and was a couple of feet deep. Chicken wire rimmed the grave to help retain its shape. With her wrists and feet tied to metal stakes, her arms and legs formed the human equivalence of a star. As her body had dried from decomposition, the constraints had kept her positioned in the manner the killer had intended.
“And what made them dig?” Jack asked the CSI.
Jack was searching for specifics. We knew Bingham had entrusted his financials to his sister, but when she passed away a year ago, the back taxes built up to the point the county had come to reclaim the property.
Royster answered, “X marked the spot.” Neither Jack nor I displayed any amusement. The CSI continued, “He etched into the dirt, probably with a stick.”
“Why assume a stick?” Jack asked the question, and it resulted in an awkward silence.
My eyes settled on the body of the female who was estimated to be in her early twenties. It’s not that I had an aversion to a dead body, but looking at her made my stomach toss. She still had flesh on her bones. As the CSI had said, preserved by the soil.
Her torso had eleven incisions. They were marked like the linear way to keep count. Two sets of four vertical cuts with one horizontal slashed on an angle through each of them. The eleventh cut was the largest and was above the belly button.
“You realize the number eleven is believed to be a sign of purity?”
My chest compressed further knowing another person was going to share the limited space. Zachery Miles was a member of our team, but unlike Jack’s his reputation hadn’t preceded him. I had read his file and he had a flawless service record and the IQ of a genius. He was eight years older than I was.
Jack stuck the cigarette he had been sucking on back into his shirt pocket. “Purity, huh?”
I looked down at the body of the woman in the shallow grave beside me. Nothing looked too pure about any of this.
“I’m going to go.” Royster excused himself.
“Without getting into the numerology and spiritualistic element,” Zachery continued, not acknowledging the CSI.
Jack stretched his neck side to side and looked at me. “I hate it when he gets into that shit.” He pointed a bony index finger at me. “Don’t let me catch you talking about it either.”
I just nodded. I guess I had been told, not that he needed to treat me like a child. I possessed no interest in things I had no reason to know about. I believed in God and angels despite the evil in the world, but beyond that I had no desire for more insight into the spiritualistic realm.
“The primary understanding is the number one is that of new beginnings and purity.”
My eyes scanned Zachery. While his intelligence scoring revealed a genius, physically, he was just an average guy. If anything, he was slightly taller than Jack and I, probably coming in at about six-four. His hair was dark and trimmed short. He had a high brow line.
“Zachery here reads something once—” Jack tapped his head. “—It’s there.”
Would you like to read more? Eleven is available on Amazon for Kindle and in Print.