Like the rest of you, our productivity plummets during the holidays. We hope that they haven’t been too stressful for you, and that you were able to keep Krampus at bay over Xmas. Anyone suffering listless coal-giftees: drop us a line. We’ve got a good reversal spell that we’re itching to use.
Please enjoy an excerpt from our latest CAI! winner, THE HARVEST KILLINGS. And start reading again, for heaven’s sake! Family squatters or no, you’ve no excuse. Fiction goes perfectly well with eggnog.
Becker ran into the house soaked in dirt and water and flipped the light switch to “off.”
“Turn everything off now.”
Piper jumped out of her chair and followed him through the house. “What’s wrong?”
Becker caught her up on what had happened.
“Did they see you?”
“I don’t think so. We need to secure the perimeter. Did you bring the box of alarms and cameras?”
“It’s right there,” she said pointing.
Becker ripped open the box and was counting the inventory when Piper and Henry returned to the living room. “Henry, you stay here.” Becker pulled out a 9mm pistol and handed it to him. “You know how to use this, right?”
Henry took it, disengaged the safety, and pulled the slide back to load a bullet into the chamber. He flipped the safety back on and tucked the pistol in the small of his back. “I got it. What’s the plan?”
“Piper and I will attach these cameras to as many trees around the farm as we can. I’ll set up the sensor for the driveway, so if anyone tries to come in unannounced, we’ll know. Henry, sit on the porch and watch the driveway. Fire one shot if someone comes, two if you’re in trouble.”
Becker flung the black box onto his shoulder and they left. They started on the property’s outside perimeter and worked their way back to the house.
Becker dropped the box on the floor and started getting undressed. “Piper, check the camera frequencies. Henry and I will get the flat screen from the den.”
He put on dry clothes and retrieved the TV with Henry, attached its mounting plate to the wall, and connected the TV to it. Piper could now see everything from her desk.
Becker sat down, wiped his face with a towel, and lit a cigarette. “We’re going to need help.”
Piper waved the smoke away. “Can you smoke outside?”
“The windows are open and there’s a cross breeze in here,” he said, waving his hands. “So it’s the same as being outside.”
“I don’t follow your logic.”
“Hand me another flat monitor.” Becker and Henry mounted the monitor on a porch post and connected the Wi-Fi. The video popped up. “Happy?”
They each took a seat in one of the old rocking chairs facing the driveway. “The infrared cameras will pick up anything at night up to a hundred feet. During the day, clear as a bell. We sleep in shifts. I’ll take the first watch.”
“What about asking the chief for help?” Henry said.
Becker drew hard on his cigarette, “We might be forced to do that.”
Piper filled them in on the ambassador, and Becker told them about the water treatment plant. “I’ve left word at the station for the chief to call me to discuss the ambassador.”
“That’s a good way in with the chief. So this Frank Boone guy that we saw at the airport is somehow involved in this mountain ordeal? I need to get closer to it and take a look inside. Sounds like we might have a dirty ambassador.”
“We need to see if the chief knows anything. He oversees outside security companies in Uganda, so perhaps he can get us close to that mountain. Maybe they’re drilling for water for the plant, like a spring or something. It’s possible.”
“Could be. Did you find out the ambassador’s schedule tomorrow?”
Piper handed Becker a piece of paper. “He’s playing golf at the Windham Country Club with a Drake Wilson, nine o’clock tee time.”
“I’ll be there. You all should get some sleep. I’ll get you if there’s trouble.”
Piper and Henry left him alone on the porch. He sat in silence and fell into a meditative state, eyes moving between the monitor and the ground. Twenty minutes into his shift, they arrived.
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