The Haunter and the Haunted #2

The Haunter and the Haunted #4

Read Also: The Haunter and the Haunted #1

Chapter 2: The Man Behind the Scene

The sky was like a dome of sparkles as chorused howls of thunder echoed from the dark clouds. Tiny splatters dropped to the ground announcing the impending storm. It was midday but the county was unusually quiet. The recent murders had stirred up fear in the hearts of the residents and caused a paralytic sense of caution. A stone’s throw from the sheriff’s office, a black truck came to a screeching halt and Max alighted. A tall handsome man with boyish features but a tinge of toughness to his aura. Maxwell Oliver called Max by his associates, was an ex-CIA agent. Although, a trained field operative, his analytical and investigative skills were unrivalled. When the Agency needed to carry out a stealth operation, Max was the man to call. Thus, he was nicknamed “the man behind the scene”. Despite his service to his country and being a highly decorated agent, his career ended quite early for unknown reasons. Gracefully, Max took giant strides down the sidewalk. Inhaling the air, he lamented, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this already… It feels like déjà vu.”

Today, the sheriff’s office was a beehive of activities as members of the press and other security agencies pervaded the premises. About an hour after his arrival, Max was seen relaxing in the restaurant opposite the office, donning a black baseball cap and a pair of dark shades, watching the influx of people. Few minutes later, officer Graham dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, joined him. Snickering, he started, “hello son, how long has it been?! A year!?” Max managed a smirk but said nothing and Graham continued, “you look terrible though. Not getting enough sleep as usual?” Ignoring the question completely, Max spat, “you refused to tell me anything over the phone. You know I don’t work like that. I’m here because we go way back. So why am I here? Start talking.” Letting out a dry titter, Graham said, “it’s always work with you and more work. You’re too young to live that way…” Notwithstanding, he spent the next twenty minutes explaining the details of the job and the recent happenings in the county. After listening patiently, Max said, “I need to see the pictures of the victims and crime scenes tonight. I’ll come to the station to pick them up later.” “That won’t be necessary! We have a clandestine meeting with the mayor tonight. The mayor wants to see you too. I’ll pick you up and drop the pictures with you then. Everything you need is in the envelope. You know the drill”, Graham said handing him a large brown envelope. Max nodded in satisfaction as he perused its contents. On his way out, he cast a glance at Graham and mocked, “I’m guessing the sheriff will be there, so I better get prepared for one of his tantrums…”

The streetlights shone brightly tonight like a gathering of ethereal beings. The streets were however deserted due to the 8pm curfew. Cop cars and the sheriff patrol swarmed the county, a couple on every street. The mayor’s residence stood at the end of the county, a kilometre from the woods. Inside the brownstone building, in the baronial living room were seated Sheriff Matt, Officer Graham, Max and the Mayor, Mrs. Dorothy Andrews. The Mayor seemed pleased to see Max as she spoke kindly to him, “I’ve heard a lot of good things about you from Graham.” Sheriff Matt scoffed loudly. The Mayor shot him a disapproving glance and continued,” and Matt too. You are the one they call the man behind the scene. Honestly, I’m amazed. You look like a grown boy. I mean, too young to have such a background. Well, I guess that’s why you are highly recommended. Welcome to Green County.” Feigning shyness, “thanks ma’am!” Max breathed. Switching to a more serious tone, the Mayor stated, “I’ve been briefed on your methods. I’ve got no problem with them. I’m told people asked questions about you today. Well, since the killings started, people have become uneasy and quite wary of strangers. However, don’t worry about your identity, the occupants of this room are the only ones in knowledge of that and your purpose here also. We’re at your complete disposal, so are we good?” “Yes ma’am!”, he replied coolly.

Half an hour later, as the men approached the mayor’s parking lot, a Cadillac pulled in and a young lady in her early twenties stepped out. She quickly exchanged pleasantries with the men and trudged away. Max stared at her without saying anything and she smiled back as someone who was used to the stares. “She is beautiful but there’s something familiar about her. Her eyes remind me of someone”, he thought. Back in the car, he asked,” who is the lady?” Laughing hysterically, Sheriff Matt responded, “that’s Bridget Andrews, the Mayor’s daughter. A party animal and the talk of the town. And young man, get your head out of the clouds. She’s way out of your league, so don’t think about it.” “Funny old man!”, Max fired back. “Bridget, hmm… Charming!”, He whispered as the car sped through the darkness.

A short distance away, in a dark basement was the silhouette of a person, framed against the wall and lost in thought, “So that’s him, so they’ve brought in an expert. Hmm… He looks dangerous and a lot like that monster. I’ve got a bad feeling about this one.” Picking up a 9mm pistol, the clock struck midnight and the shady figure drawled, “Nevertheless, the hunt must continue. Hahaha.”

 

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