Hope is Dead
Published by: Red Shirt Publishing
Release Date: June 16, 2022
Former Marine Aviator and war hero Zack Goodson is a fish out of water. He regrets promising his wife he would give up his life of thrills and action to move to her sleepy backwater hometown in rural Missouri. Though overqualified, he has accepted a position as a deputy with the St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department despite his misgivings. After ten years in the Corps, the adjustment from warrior to small town cop his harder than he could have ever imagined.
Unfortunately for him, his predicament is about to become worse. The peace in his little part of the world is about to be broken. On his first day on the job, he and his training officer, Mark Langford, find a young woman face down in a secluded creek. An unknown predator is on the prowl. The disfigured body is identified by local billionaire Nick Pagano as his daughter. The pressure mounts as Pagano demands action and threatens to have the whole department fired. The next day, Mark and Zack find the sheriff’s only detective murdered in a burned-out trailer. Out of options, the sheriff assigns them to the case. They must stop this vicious killer before more of their neighbors die.
Day 1, Friday night, June 5
He leaned over and held her head up by a handful of dark blonde hair. The bare dim bulb over them cast shadows on the cracked linoleum floor. His trembling voice broke as he spoke, “Hope! Hope! Wake…wake up, dammit! Don’t fuck me over, again! … Shit!” He raised her eyelid with his thumb and saw her cornea had rolled back in her head. He slapped her hard on her bloody cheek a couple of times, but she didn’t respond. When he let go of her hair, her head slumped forward again. She wasn’t breathing. His mind raced. This wasn’t what he’d wanted. He wanted to teach her a lesson, not kill her. Fuckin’ stuck-up bitch! She thought she was too good for him. He stood back and ran his hands through his grimy hair. Think, dammit! Think! He looked down at her limp body tied to the cheap dinette chair. Blood from her battered face had pooled under the chair and mixed with her urine. A red shop towel was duct-taped in her mouth. He didn’t realize how angry he had been, but her defiance in the beginning and her whimpering at the end drove him crazy. He regretted being so rough with her now. There was no way to explain this away. They would lock him up forever—if her father didn’t have him killed first.
Fuck it! Her boyfriend could explain what happened to her. This was his trailer, after all. He pulled the syringe from her arm, put the cap back on, and stuck it in his pocket. He grabbed his duct tape and electrical cord off the table. He slammed the flimsy trailer door and leapt from the steps. He fell several times in the darkness as he ran back through the dense woods to where he had hidden his truck. He never looked back. He climbed into the truck cab and started the engine. He saw her blood on his hands and sweaty forearms. He grabbed one of his red shop towels off the passenger seat. He wiped the blood off and threw the towel behind the seat. He drove away as fast as he could. When he got to Highway JJ, he threw the dirty syringe into the ditch. By the time he turned onto southbound Highway 67, he had a cigarette lit and was starting to calm down. Every second that passed, the further he was from the trailer, the more convinced he became that he would get away with his crime. He was rumbling along down the highway on his oversized mud tires a couple of miles south of Highway Y at a steady 80 miles per hour when red and blue lights appeared in his rearview mirror. “Fuck me!” he shouted as he slammed his hand on top of the dashboard.