Slater Mill: Berkley Street Series Book 7
Slater Mill: Berkley Street Series Book 7
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A deadly race, where time is the enemy...
A soul weary Shane Ryan has physical and emotional scars—souvenirs of his gruesome occupation. His latest job is in Nashua, a sleepy little upstate New Hampshire town that’s been awakened by a rampage of murders in Slater Mill. The body count is escalating at an alarming rate. The police have no motive or suspects regarding the grisly killings and the residents are scared!
As he prepares to leave for Slater Mill, Shane is visited by an old acquaintance whose timing couldn’t be worse. Shane’s personal demons are driving him to the edge and he’s running out of time to save himself and stop the slaughter at the mill. Finally, armed and ready, he heads to Nashua to take down the ghost behind the killings, Pierre Gustav, who is just as brutal in death as he was in life!
The minute Shane reaches the old abandoned building, his senses are jangling. The mill is deathly silent as a ghost crew mans the machines. Shane focuses on Pierre, knowing the merciless specter must not win this battle. Shane isn’t afraid to die; at one time, he would have welcomed death. But it’s not in him to quit. Now facing the deadliest fight of his life, Shane only has one goal: destroy Pierre Gustav or die trying…
Chapter 1: Slater Mill, Nashua, NH
Miguel had crept into the decrepit mill building shortly after midnight. A sharp chill had sprung up in the April air, and he needed a place to sleep. He had managed to hitch-hike from Lawrence to Nashua, but his uncle hadn’t been home.
No one had even answered any of the doors in his uncle’s building.
And Miguel had been wearing the wrong colors for Vine Street. His blue hoodie, representing his ties to the ‘Muerto Brotherhood’ had been met with hostile expressions from other young men and women. Most of those he saw were clad in dark green, the color representing the Vaqueros.
Sleeping in the hallway outside of his uncle’s apartment hadn’t been an option, not if he wanted to avoid a beat down.
The mill had been a decent option. A hole in the wire fence had let him slip away from the ones who had followed him. And he had been pleased that they hadn’t pursued him into the building itself.
Miguel knew it meant the place was probably patrolled, but he figured he could outrun any fat security guard who might have the job.
Miguel eased the door behind him shut and waited for a moment while his eyes adjusted to the dim light. The glow of the street lamps was filtered through windows grimy with decades of dust and grit. When he could finally see, Miguel noticed that the worn wooden floorboards were covered with the same.
Tracks of various small animals crisscrossed through the film on the floor.
There weren’t any footprints.
He glanced back at the door he had entered, then he moved deeper into the wide passage. Stairs, worn down in the center, led up to a second floor, and he decided to follow them. Staying too close to the door might be risking exposure.
Especially if he had triggered some sort of silent alarm.
Frowning at the idea, Miguel hurried up the stairs. He took them two at a time until he reached the second floor.
Miguel stumbled to a stop, surprised at what he saw.
A cavernous room stretched out before him, one that looked to be the entire second floor. Dark pillars reached from floor to ceiling, and windows ran along the brick walls. Like the glass on the first floor, these windows were filthy.
And while the first floor had seemed warmer than the outside, the second floor felt colder.
Shivering, Miguel took a few cautious steps into the room. He looked from left to right, trying to see if any of the windows were broken.
But the fact that none of them were, brought him to a stop.
All of the windows should have shattered. There shouldn’t have been a shard of glass left in the frames.
Miguel had seen plenty of empty buildings in Lawrence, and if they were abandoned, it meant the windows were the targets of any kid who thought he could pitch in the major leagues. Miguel knew this because he had broken his share of windows as well.
The dust at his feet spiraled up, whipped around the bottom of his jeans, and then dissipated. Another one arose a short distance away, then it died down as well. A third appeared at the left wall, but instead of dropping back to the floor as the others had, it stretched towards the ceiling. Soon it was as tall as Miguel, and a heartbeat later, it towered over him. He took a nervous step back, trying to see where the air creating the twisting spiral was coming from.
Yet as he did so, the dust exploded in his face, blinding him.
Miguel retched, trying to catch his breath. The filth invaded his nose and tried to plunge into his open mouth. He wanted to shut it out, but he couldn’t, the vomit forcing him to keep his lips separated.
Something struck him in the stomach, doubling him over, and a powerful force struck him on the back of the neck, knocking him to his knees.
An angry, male voice asked him a question Miguel couldn’t understand. The language wasn’t Spanish or English.
The man repeated his question, and when Miguel failed to answer, he was struck on the side of the head. Miguel whimpered as the blow drove him to the floor. His head throbbed, and he couldn’t move, he tried to open his eyes, but his eyelids refused to respond.
The man muttered in his unintelligible language, and Miguel felt him grab hold of his sweatshirt’s hood. Miguel made an effort to get to his knees, but a boot caught him in the stomach and sent a fresh spike of pain through him.
Miguel found himself being dragged across the floor, the boards rough and harsh against his hands. Splinters drove deep into his flesh, and he whimpered.
The stranger paused, struck Miguel in the head again, and then continued on.
For a moment longer, Miguel was dragged along, and then the man stopped. Hands grasped his left leg and left arm, a brutal cold penetrating his clothes. A sharp, jerking motion brought Miguel up off the floor, and he managed to force his eyes open.
Miguel was in the air, suspended above the stairwell.
Desperate, Miguel twisted in the grip of his attacker and looked down.
But there was nothing to see.
Miguel was held aloft by nothing.
The unseen man asked a single question.
Miguel still couldn’t answer because he didn’t understand.
The man sneered and threw Miguel.
The stairs, Miguel discovered, were hard and unyielding.
Chapter 2: Myrtle Street Patrol
Kurt Warner and Bill Waters both responded to the call about a break-in at the Slater Mill off Myrtle Street. It was a first for both of them.
No one, in all of Kurt’s time with the Nashua Police Department, had ever broken into Slater Mill. Bill, who had five years more on the force than Kurt, hadn’t heard of it either. The place was almost a no-go zone for the local kids. Nobody knew why, and no one in the department had ever asked. The Mill was one less place to worry about, and that was fine with Kurt.
Bill parked the cruiser at the front gate, which wasn’t even chained or locked.
Kurt took out his flashlight, held it up, and scanned beyond the fence. “Which door was it?”
“Pine Street side,” Bill answered.
“Great,” Kurt grumbled.
“Yeah,” Bill said. “Ready?”
“Sure,” Kurt sighed. “Let’s do this. Probably a squatter.”
Bill nodded and pushed the gate open. They went in together, and Kurt took the lead. The Pine Street Entrance was an easy hundred yards up the right side of the building. As they went, Kurt noticed the lack of trash on the inside of the fence. In the light of the halogen street lamps, he saw that there were no cigarette butts, no signs of any sort of human passage.
It was as if everyone in the area paid attention to the ‘No Trespassing’ signs zip-tied to the fence every twenty or thirty feet.
When they approached the Pine Street door, Kurt saw it was ajar, a sliver of darkness apparent. The sight of it made him uncomfortable, and he slipped the catch off of his holster, freeing his pistol.
“That’s not good,” Bill said, his voice low.
“No,” Kurt agreed.
Bill called in their status on the radio, as well as the fact that the door was open. He finished with, “Proceeding inside.”
Kurt took a deep breath, settled his suddenly anxious nerves, and stepped forward. He pushed the door open, shined his light into the Mill and called out, “Nashua Police!”
No one answered as Kurt moved the flashlight’s beam from left to right, then he stopped. Beyond a set of wide stairs, he saw several fingers.
“I’ve got somebody,” Kurt said. He stepped into the building, Bill following behind him.
“Hello,” Kurt said, directing his voice toward the stairs. “Are you hurt?”
A finger twitched.
Bill saw it too, and in a heartbeat, he was calling for an ambulance.
Still proceeding with caution, Kurt advanced towards the person beyond the stairs. When he reached them, Kurt stopped and dropped to a knee.
A young Hispanic male lay on the floor, his body contorted and broken. His neck was twisted awkwardly, his brown eyes rolling in his head, the pupils pulsing without any sense. How the kid was still alive, Kurt couldn’t understand, but he knew it wouldn’t be for much longer.
“Hey,” Kurt said, reaching out and taking the hand he had seen. In Spanish, he asked, “Are you a Catholic?”
Somehow, the boy squeezed his hand.
“Do you want a priest?” Kurt asked.
Again, the boy responded with a weak grasp of Kurt’s hand.
Leaning forward Kurt said, “Do you ask God for forgiveness, and repent for your transgressions against Him?”
Again, the boy answered.
“Do you know who did this to you?” Kurt asked.
The boy didn’t respond.
“Was it a stranger?”
The boy gripped Kurt’s hand, squeezing it with surprising strength.
“Are they still here?” Kurt asked.
The boy didn’t answer.
He couldn’t. His brown eyes had rolled up to reveal only the whites, and he had breathed his last breath in the filth of the old mill building.
Kurt sat down, took his radio, and called dispatch. In the distance, he heard an ambulance’s siren wail, and he asked the dispatcher to send along the priest who was on call.
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