Today on the author blog, I’m going to do something different. What follows is the first page of a short story that will be released as part of an anthology this summer. Hel’s Fury is set in Fairbanks, Alaska, in a dystopian near future. And yes, the spelling is deliberate.
A Taste of Things to Come: Hel’s Fury
As Fairbanks Police Captain Nathan Spencer waded through the soggy snow toward the crime scene, a growing sense of dread supplanted his annoyance at being called out first thing on a Monday morning. Dozens of other pairs of boots had already made the same journey, clearing a wide path from the parking area to the underside of the nearby Steese Highway bridge.
To his right the Chatanika River rushed by, muddied by year-round mining operations upstream. A forest of scraggly black spruce marched off into the pre-dawn dimness on the far bank. To his left, a handful of Alaska State Trooper SUVs and several Fairbanks Police cars sat in the parking lot of an abandoned campground. Ravens circled overhead.
The crime scene was thirty-some miles northeast of Fairbanks, and fell under the Troopers’ jurisdiction. Spencer silently cursed whatever circumstance had connected the scene to one of the FPD’s many open cases.
A FPD detective named Henriksen met him at the edge of the highway overpass, expression grim.
“This had better be good,” Spencer snapped. “I’m going to be pissed if you called me all the way out here just because someone strung up a couple more drunks.”
The detective grimaced. “These weren’t drunks. That’s why I called you. These are some of ours.”
“Informants are a dime a dozen. Did we lose anyone import?”
“Not informants; our boys. The blue brotherhood lost a few members last night. It’s ugly.”
Five shadows swung from the steel girders, each suspended by their bound wrists and a length of cable. A forensics team worked around them, their lights illuminating bare dirt and river stones speckled with frozen blood. A pile of tools and the remains of a small fire sat nestled against the embankment at the back of the bridge.
Spencer forced himself to look at the line of mutilated corpses swaying in the cold river breeze. “Are their ID chips intact? Do we have names?”
“Maddock, Townley, Gunther, and Jacal. The one on the far end is the big cheese’s kid himself – the latest up-and-coming Gearhill Jr.”
The headache behind the captain’s eyes grew, a dull pounding that signaled his blood pressure was getting out of control. He fought down an uncharacteristic wave of nausea. These were good boys, solid members of the force. And Gearhill…. the kid’s father would have his hide.
“Any idea why, detective? Did the murderer leave a note? Has anyone checked YouBook yet?”
“No note, but social media is next on my list. Whoever did this was making a statement. Look.” The detective pointed out deep slices on the chest of the nearest corpse. They spelled out the word “mutt,” and below it, “murderer.”
“What did the killer think he was getting at?” Spencer demanded. “Maddock is – was – white.”
“It might be linked to the homeless inebriates we’ve been finding strung up under the bridges. The last one was carved up too.”
Spencer snorted. “Meth is rampant in the villages. He was hopped up, got a little too far into DIY body modification, and had a fatal case of regret. The investigation concluded it was a suicide. Drop it.”
The detective’s jaw clenched, but the expression of anger was gone before Spencer could reprimand him for it.
“We’ve found a portable welding torch, box cutter, hammer and several pairs of pliers, and there are footprints all over the place. Whoever did this was sloppy. Forensics should have a full profile for us by the end of the day.”
“Good. When we pull him in, tell the boys not to be gentle. He doesn’t need to survive to stand trial.”
If you’ve enjoyed this taste of things to come, stay tuned! I’ll post regular updates as the anthology moves closer to publication and the title and list of contributing authors are officially revealed. I’m also going to make A Taste of Things to Come a regular feature, so you can look forward to more snippets of my works in progress down the road. Thanks for reading!