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The vampyric Isaiah Tempest, from SatanWorld, has returned and fomented a gang war in West Miami. What is his real plan?
GangWay is book two of the Tempest Trilogy. Tempest is still after the same thing, turning the innocents to evil, in order to enhance his powers. But this time he may have a secondary agenda.
Just as SatanWorld had an intertwining of the Spanish Inquisition and the modern day, GangWay wraps the Salem Witchcraft Trials (exactly 200 years later) with the present.
West Miami, Florida. The present.
Spiders mated quietly in a dusty corner of the hospital’s windowsill. Legs twining about each other, they stepped carefully among the web strands; their soundless bouncing barely noticeable.
Two feet away, Miami-Dade County Police Captain Dennis Coulter gripped the rail of the hospital bed and leaned down into the face of his battered detective. “He bit off his own tongue?”
“My hand to God, Captain.”
Coulter watched his investigator’s eye twitch behind its bandage. The man’s face appeared razor scarred, the emergency room’s rough stitch job nothing more than temporary relief before the many reconstructive operations to follow. One arm received antibiotics from an IV hung above the bed. Another tube drained urine into a pouch below. But it was the eye, twitching beneath its cover, that kept Coulter’s attention.
“Tell it to me again, Bryce. I need to hear it again. All of it.”
Undercover police detective Bryce Holt sighed deeply, his breath wet and filled with tears. “Please, Captain.”
Coulter’s grip tightened on the bed rail. “Once more, Bryce. We’ve got to get it all while it’s still fresh in your mind.” He looked across the hospital bed at the police stenographer seated on the other side. “You ready?”
“Okay, Bryce. Come on. No interruptions, no questions. First we get it down. We get it right. Then we go and get them.”
A fly hit the outside of the web, tangling in its sticky fibers. Legs danced and wings hummed with speed, but the fly remained trapped.
The detective took a deep breath and released it slowly. The hidden eye continued to move. “Just like you wanted, Captain, I had Rampage under surveillance for the past three weeks. Got inside. Watched them real good, you know? Watched them gather; went where they went. Saw who they hung with. Who was a friend. Who wasn’t. I didn’t miss anything, Captain. You know that. Not a thing.
“I started hanging with them right off. Just bs-ing, nothing special. Then I showed them the Glock. Made up a story how I got it off a cop in the 1-9. I think that’s what got me in real close.” He paused and the good eye rolled toward Coulter. “But I was careful, Captain. You know I was. Went by the book. Always by the book. Checked in daily. Remember? Only with you. No one ever noticed. No one ever saw.
“Then, one afternoon, Vincent — one of the Rampage juvies — he comes for me and says tonight’s the night and I should follow him. I ask tonight’s what night and he just smiles and says I’ll see.”
The female spider moved quickly along the strands, knowing where to step to avoid the traps. She glided smoothly toward the fly, standing aside, as if taking pleasure in his futile struggles.
“We get to Sylvania Heights — the elementary school on 16th — and the whole gang’s there, dressed out. School yard’s got those sodium vapor lights, you know, to prevent crime?”
Holt laughed and the effort made him choke. Coulter pulled a hand free from the bed rail and placed it gently on his detective’s arm. “You all right?”
“Yeah. Anyway, that light makes everything look nasty. And I’m freaked that someone made me and this is it. But wasn’t anything like that.” Holt coughed and motioned toward the water glass on the bedside night stand. “Captain, could you?”
Coulter positioned the straw for his detective. When Holt didn’t continue he prodded. “You were saying? The school?”
“Yeah. I was in. It was, I don’t know, initiation night. Combat came forward, holding a red-and-black bandanna out to me.”
“Combat?” It was the first word the police stenographer uttered.
Coulter spoke to her without turning away from Holt. “Charlie Combat. Rampage’s leader. Go on, Bryce.”
“Yeah. Well, I reach for the scarf and he pulls it away. He’s grinning at me and his damn hearing aid’s buzzing and crackling like he’s got it tuned for the static. ‘Uh, uh,’ he says, ‘You don’t just get colors. You earn them.’ He’s smiling big and he steps aside and, I don’t know, maybe a half dozen of his guys are holding these two kids. Ones an Ocho...”
“Ocho?” The stenographer.
Coulter kept his eyes on his detective as he explained to the stenographer, “O-c-h-o. You know, like eight in Spanish. Nickname for the Cuban gang on Calle Ocho, Eighth Street.”
“Yeah, an Ocho,” Holt continued. “He’s wearing his yellow and green and he’s beat up pretty bad. The other’s this Ocho chick, maybe fifteen, maybe less. I know she’s Ocho because she’s wearing their tattoo on her ankle. Anyway, Combat smiles and waves the scarf in their direction and tells me I have a choice. I can slay or play. Either one’ll get me into Rampage.”
Coulter removed his hand from Holt’s arm. “Either kill the boy...?”
“Or screw the girl.”
The spider knew where to insert her fangs. The fly’s shiny carapace cracked beneath her puncturing bite and he twisted and flapped his wings until the paralysis took effect. The spider waited for her mate to join her. Together, they drained the fly’s living body of its nutrients, then left its dry husk as they moved to an uncluttered corner of their web.
Bryce Holt paused for a moment, his chest rising and falling in silent sobs. Coulter watched the gauze over the detective’s eye darken as it absorbed his tears.
“I had no choice, Captain. I couldn’t blow my cover. And I couldn’t kill that boy.”
“So, you did the girl.” Coulter took a step away from the bed.