Race the Darkness (Fatal Dreams Book 1)(2)

By: Abbie Roads

“I know what you’re thinking because I’m the guy the BCI calls in when they’ve got a difficult case.” Referring to gang rape as merely a difficult case was like painting a pile of shit just to make it look better. It was still shit. It still stank.

The kid laughed a blatantly fake laugh, the kind that was code for “fuck you.” He’s trying to mess with me. Ain’t gonna work.

“I’m not trying to mess with you.” Well, maybe just a little. Disbelief in his ability was a universal rule. Hell, he barely believed in it himself. “I just want to get this done so I can get out of here. Like I said, I hate cops. And I’ve got a headache.” The vision in his right eye pulsed with each thump inside his brain. He wanted to press his palm against the pounding, but didn’t. Show no pain. Show no weakness. Show no emotion.

No more dicking around with the kid. Xander needed to get answers to the questions he’d been sent to ask and then get the fuck out of here. Funny how he could remember the questions, but not the kid’s name. “How many guys are in the Bangers Club?”

Six plus nine. Sixty-nine. Six plus nine. Sixty-nine. The kid’s thoughts were a perverted chant. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Xander picked up his notepad, tilted it so the kid couldn’t see, and scribbled 6 + 9 = 15 onto the paper. “I need the names of all fifteen members.”

Fifteen? How’d he come up with that number? He’s guessing. “I’ll tell you the same thing I told Good Cop and Bad Cop. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“The names of all fifteen members.”

Michael Blevins. Blake Johnson…

Xander listed the names until he lost the frequency. Five to ten seconds of silence in the conversation, and the connection severed. He stared down at the paper and cherished the absence of pain, then sucked in a few deep breaths, pumping himself up to reestablish the connection and restore the basketball thumping inside his head. “I need the rest of the names.”

Bang! He jerked from the force of the blow inside his brain. God, that first hit—

Aiden Stacey. Trey Mitchell…

Xander listed all the names.

“What are you writing?” The kid half stood, trying to see across the table to Xander’s notes.

“Names.” Xander angled the notepad so the kid couldn’t see his writing.

“I didn’t say anything.”

“Yeah, you did. Just not out loud.”

What is he talking about? They sent in some mind-game expert? This shit isn’t going to work on me. Just keep quiet and don’t react.

“You’re already reacting. I can hear it. You’re breathing faster, shallower. Your pulse has picked up. You’re not quite panicking yet, but eventually you’re going to.”

What the hell? What the hell? What. The. Hell. The kid did a stellar job of retaining his outward expression of entitlement. No one would ever guess he was on the cusp of an implosion.

“Between the fifteen of you, how many girls have you banged?” The word—the Bangers Club’s word—tasted insectile on Xander’s tongue, like if he didn’t spit it out, it would burrow a hole through the roof of his mouth and have babies in his brain.

Fifty-seven. Twelve away from our goal—sixty-nine.

Jesus. The kid needed to be neutered.

There was no reason to ask for the girls’ names. From what he’d been told, the Bangers Club didn’t bother learning the names of their victims. “You ever been diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder?”

No. The kid’s brows rose and his head swiveled on his neck in a good imitation of a white-trash ho about to show her sass.

“Just asking because you seem awfully obsessed with the number sixty-nine.”

The kid’s jaw unhinged and nearly clattered onto the table. Not possible. He can’t really read my mind. He’s guessing somehow. Or…did someone talk? No one would dare—

“You’re right. I’m not reading your mind. I’m listening to the things you aren’t saying.” As if the kid would believe that. Only one more question and Xander could walk out of the room, out the building, and be alone.

The last question was the most critical. From the dumbed-down version Xander understood, the kid had created a nearly impenetrable computer system that streamed all the Bangers Club bangs—for a monthly fee. The only way to shut it down was to access the original computer and enter the password—no mistakes, no guessing—or the entire system would go viral and start broadcasting live on all the local channels, even the small-town church TV station. Kids today were dangerously clever. “What’s the password?”