Here is chapter two of Tracker. Give it a read and let me know what you think! Thanks :)
My partner, senior detective Dan Carstens, was walking ahead of me as I approached the precinct where we worked. I caught up with him and we stood talking about the paperwork we had to do on a case we’d just finished up. It was a beautiful day, and we were both hesitant to go indoors to write up reports. We had a couple minutes before we had to be at our desks, so we took advantage.
It was a good thing, as it turned out. I looked past Dan when I noticed something moving on the ground in one of the flowerbeds. When I looked closer, I realized the dirt was actually forming into letters. I managed to mask my reaction of surprise and worry enough to finish talking to Dan, and he headed into the building. I told him I’d be in shortly. “Cover me for the first couple minutes?” I asked him sweetly.
He grunted, narrowing his eyes at me. “What’s in it for me, partner?”
“I’ll get you a donut on our lunch break,” I said with a straight face.
Dan growled. “Dang it! You know the wife won’t let me eat those any more. Says they’re bad for me.”
“I won’t tell your wife. One donut won’t hurt. Maybe we’ll just have to make it a small one.”
His blue eyes rolled, the motion exaggerated. “Fine. I’ll cover ya. Don’t be too long. I know you’re just trying to get out of that paperwork.”
I laughed. “Right. That’s what I do. See you in a bit.” I said, waving him away.
He finally went to the building, but I guessed that he suspected there was more to my request than just spending a couple minutes in the sunshine. My partner had about ten years on me when it came to being a detective, so I glanced around before heading back to where I’d seen the message. No one else reacted to it, so I assumed that the dirt suddenly coming alive had not been noticed. Jason was usually more careful, so he’d never sent me a message this close to work before. He was paranoid about his powers being discovered, and being captured for scientific study. That he had risked it today scared me.
The fact that his message had reached me meant he was within about a two mile radius of the station and it could have taken anywhere from less than a minute to about fifteen minutes to get to me. I bent down, pretending to smell one of the flowers. “Oh, no.” I said, my hand coming up to my mouth in dismay as I read what he’d been able to send. I suspected immediately that something had happened to him because of the case he was helping me on.
Jason was trying to help me catch a man who had his finger in nearly every major crime that happened in this city, including murder and kidnapping. Unfortunately we’d had no luck pinning anything on him, so I had asked Jason to attempt to find and memorize footsteps and people involved with some of the activities. I had hoped that with Jason’s ability to blend in and the fact that most people ignore street kids, that he’d be safe. But the message he’d sent had dashed that hope. It was a very short message that simply read: SOS.
I chewed on my lower lip, a nervous habit I’d had since childhood when I’d had to give my first oral report in school, as I tried to figure out how to get backup to help my informant when there was no logical way for me to know he was in trouble. My indecision was brief as I realized I could claim the knowledge had come from one of the street kids.
With my plan in place, I rushed into the building to grab my partner. “Dan!” I called as I neared his desk, passing other officers without a glance as I hurried through the building.
“What’s up, Alice?” he asked, sounding confused. I hadn’t been worked up outside, so he was probably wondering what could have happened in the one minute since he’d left to upset me.
“One of Jason’s kids just contacted me,” I said. “He’s in trouble.” Dan knew Jason’s kids wouldn’t contact a police officer unless he was in serious trouble, so I hoped that would give him more motivation to help.
Dan had mixed feelings about Jason. On one hand, the kid had helped us locate several people over the years. On the other hand, he looked at most cops as if they were the enemy, and Dan was among the worst. When I’d tried to introduce the two, Jason had taken one look at the older man and took off. He still refused to talk to me if Dan was with me.
Despite his mixed feelings, Dan was my partner and knew that I cared about Jason. He would help me and hope that Jason would look at him with less suspicion if he helped to rescue the kid. Dan had a soft spot for street kids- at least the ones with legitimate reasons for being on the streets. Jason had never been into drugs or theft, so Dan wanted to be able to help him.
“What kind of trouble?” he asked as he grabbed his gun and badge from the drawer where he’d just finished putting them.
I shrugged. “The kid didn’t know, he just said we needed to help him.”
Dan nodded and followed me as I walked back out onto the parking lot. “We’ll start at his normal alley,” I said. “We might be better able to follow his tracks from there.” The irony of that statement struck me and I realized that without more help from Jason, we might not find him. Not knowing anything about Jason’s abilities, Dan simply followed me to the car, the irony lost on him.
The trip to Jason’s alley was short and I immediately saw two of the kids Jason watched over sitting on an old mattress at the back of the dead end alley, a second mattress was leaned against the brick wall, making it more comfortable for sitting. Both seemed upset. “Erin, Ginny, what happened?” I asked, rushing to them. Dan stayed near the car, but we were parked close enough that he could hear everything.
“Sam’s gone!” Ginny exclaimed, tears streaming down her face.
“So is Jason,” Erin said more calmly than her friend. Erin, at fourteen, was older than Ginny by about a year, and sometimes took on the role of big sister. Both were too young for life on the street.
My partner approached slowly, crouching down a few feet away from the two frightened girls. “Do you have any idea where they are?” Dan asked gently. He was aware that the girls, like Jason, distrusted most authority figures. Only Jason’s trust in me allowed them to come to me for help.
The two exchanged a glance then looked at me. “I think it’s something to do with whatever Jase is helping you with,” Erin said, her brown eyes narrowing.
I accepted the mild rebuke and tried to hide my anxiety. “Mason?” I asked quietly, afraid to know the answer.
Both girls nodded, clinging to each other tightly. Erin’s light brown hair mingling with Ginny’s blond as they leaned their heads together. Their hair was long and dirty, but kept combed. “Jase told us all to stick together, but Sammy wandered off. The other boys went to look for him. Paul sent Jeffrey back to tell us that they saw Sam get grabbed.”
“Where are the boys now?” I asked, trying to keep the edge out of my voice.
“I told Jeff to get them and come back here,” Erin said, sounding like more of a mother than any fourteen-year-old had the right to. She and Paul were the oldest of the children Jason protected. All had horror stories from home and Jason helped to keep them away from the bad stuff that often plagued kids on the street. Paul was a couple months older than Erin, and the two of them helped Jason look after the younger kids. Sam was the youngest and all of them were very protective of him.
“He left a little while before you got here,” Ginny piped up, her blue eyes shining with tears. “They should be back soon.”
“Alright. Thank you Ginny.” I turned to my partner. “Dan, we should wait here and see if the boys can add anything helpful.”
“No problem,” He answered. His expression showed his concern. Trevor Mason was a dangerous man, and now it seemed he had both Jason and Sam in his grasp.