SERIAL RITES

Atlanta X-Men Homicide Squad #3


Atlanta Homicide Sergeant Malcolm Hobbs’ strength: Acute intuition into human nature. His weakness: Loss of faith in God. Despite his immense ability, he’s on the edge and contemplates quitting. The mystery of Hobbs is his sanity. Will his spirit and soul unite in time to resolve his trauma or will they divide too late to stop him from experiencing the peace of God as they rage a live or die war?
 

In the psychological thriller, SERIAL RITES, a prequel to KREMLIN TIDE (2014) and COLD LICK (2015), Hobbs’ detective skills encounter one of the most compelling cases in his career, but there’s a big problem. A precarious Hobbs isn’t at full strength and he’s breaking in a new Detective to his team in former Columbus, Ohio hotshot, Shepard Cush.
 

When Hobbs and his elite team of investigators nicknamed, The X-Men, discover the catalyst to the murders, they must decipher the puzzling schematic from the cold heart of a psychopath known as, The Profiler.
 

Atlanta’s confidence in the high-profile detectives is on trial against this meticulous and motivated predator with a macabre M.O. The question is will The Profiler’s blood-lustful vision satisfy him enough not to include The X-Men themselves?

 

*FOUR STARS*
"A complex detective crime thriller, which captures the reader's curiosity, Serial Rites (Atlanta Homicide Squad Book 3) is a surprisingly good read..."

Paul Brandt
Indie Christian Book Reviews

*FIVE STARS*
"This book reminded me of James Patterson's books. Scenes go from the view of the killer then switch to the police point of view...Great story with a lot of tension."

Randy Tramp
Goodreads

*FIVE STARS*
"A compelling psychological thriller. What a page-turning read, will have you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end..." 

Vivienne Neal
One World Singles Blog

CHAPTER 1

 

Standing In The Gap Church

275 Fairburn Road

S.W. Atlanta, Georgia

Saturday, July 19, 2014

3:00 P.M.

 

Oh no, there it was:  Pressure. The weight of responsibility was upon Malcolm like the hot summer weather in Metro Atlanta. He watched the procession as it marched down an aisle in the double-decker blue carpeted amphitheater-like sanctuary that at capacity seated 8,500.

 

The house of well-wishers stood to their feet in unison. White, yellow, pink, and red ribbons and like colored flower arrangements decorated the portable gazebo settled upon the multi-stepped pulpit where he and the pastor waited. Lynette, his wife-to-be, who wore an elegant lace bridal gown with a train that filled up the main aisle spaces behind her, closed the distance to him. Though he stood some feet from her, he saw she smiled, and he returned it. Of course, her father and in a few official minutes, his father-in-law, Trent Warner, escorted her. He cried, and she tried her best to comfort him and still hold it together. One of the main reasons he loved his bride was her strength. Simultaneously, it was funny to see since Trent was such a macho father.

 

The estimated 1,000 supporters elicited heartfelt “Ah’s” as they witnessed the scene. After what felt like a shortened millennium on a long leash, she stood before him. They smiled, faced each other, and turned to their man of God, Pastor Elmer Brookins. A smile cracked the fifty-five-year-old cream complexion black man’s face who adorned a multi-colored robe before he commenced.

 

Malcolm’s consciousness faded in and out. The ceremony was dream-like, but the reality was that in a few precious moments before God, their families, the church members, and friends, Lynette’s welfare was in his hands; it was upon his shoulders. They agreed to do this only once in their lives.

 

In the next instant, something shattered. Again, as if in a dream state, he and Lynette viewed behind their stances at the pulpit. A Ford Explorer SUV drove through one of the stained-glass windows, which depicted a serene scene of heaven in majestic blues, purples, yellows, reds, greens, and oranges.

 

With caution, several men approached the damaged vehicle. A black man and black woman appeared unconscious in the front seats and leaned against the airbags on each side. 

 

“Call 9-1-1!” Pastor Brookins said.

 

“Got it!” a member yelled.

 

“You okay, baby?”

 

“Yes. Not on our wedding day, Malcolm.”

 

He hugged her when a couple of men on either side of the SUV checked the vitals on the pair. Then, both men shook as sounds sizzled in conjunction with their actions. In the next moment, the men slid down the SUV as the front seats jammed the occupants into the dashboard. As others now closed in on this latest movement, bullets ripped the air. The driver and passenger were dead.

 

Congregates ran from their pew spaces. Four persons dressed in all black armed with Uzis emerged from the back seats of the Explorer. Two of the attackers dropped Taser weapons into a black bag and then with the others aimed at the wedding party. 

 

Malcolm heard the hysterics and saw the shattered glass and Uzi shells that bounced off the blue sanctuary carpet like Raid sprayed roaches. He pushed her to the floor, and they crawled between rows of seats near the podium. He slid along the carpet and tried to reverse the situation.

 

Malcolm flung his vision back toward Lynette. She held her emotion with tight lips and nodded her okay. This scene was like an old grainy black and white home movie. He knew that day with ‘A.C.’ was the source of the reference, but anger blanked the memory. His neck sensed the heat from the fast projectiles that splintered the seats and walls. Bullet smoke trails crisscrossed like torpedoes in the water. The attendees’ screams filled the rafters as they ran over one another to escape. Same as a vapor, the assault, and ensuing chaos only took a couple of moments. Then, a blood-curdled scream erupted behind him from the throat—

 

“Lynette!”

 

Seconds later, a black double-breasted suit that hung off a man of dark chocolate pigmentation sprang into action. Orlando Queen II, a fit late thirties man who stood five feet ten inches tall, hightailed it after the assailants. Then stiletto heels softly clicked-clacked on the carpet beside him before their owners whipped them off. An early thirties black beauty of bronze named Pepper Love in a gorgeous white lace bride’s maid dress tossed her bouquet of flowers into the seats. Orlando flipped back his suit jacket, crossed his arms, jammed his hands into a pair of gun holsters along his waist, extracted a couple of Glock Gen4 Model 22 .40 calibers, tossed one to Pepper who caught it and aimed at the attackers through the broken windows and walls.

 

“Police! Freeze!” Pepper said.

 

Orlando thundered a two-bullet assault, and a couple of them fell. Pepper fired four rounds and dropped the two remaining attackers. The driver, whose dark blue sedan idled, saw his fallen comrades. He sped away as tires screeched and smoke plumed in the embroiled scene.

 

Before the car fled and cleared the church parking lot, an Atlanta police cruiser slammed into it and spun it 360. The patrol officers slung the squad car doors open and aimed their pistols. Then they shouted for the driver to exit the vehicle. Instead, the driver pointed a nine-millimeter and discharged through his windshield. The patrol cops returned fire. The driver died. 

 

Malcolm snatched off his tuxedo and eased it onto Lynette’s frame as she contorted her back in pain.

 

“I’m sorry, baby.”

 

He heard sirens in the distance. Lynette stroked his hand with the wedding band, lifted it to her mouth and kissed it. 

 

“I love you, husband.”

 

“Don’t talk. Sssh—”

 

“Don’t blame...God. I’m going...home.”

 

She smiled at him like it was any other day of their lives together. Her grip tightened then loosened. Moments later, her hand slumped and fell upon her torso and took his with it. Her head tilted toward his knee as she opened her eyes and looked up at him. Malcolm hung his head, Pepper froze, and Orlando cried.

 

Then, Malcolm laid her flat on the floor and started CPR with a vengeance.

 

“Come on, baby. Breathe, breathe, breathe. In the Name of Jesus, breathe.”

 

Pepper managed through tears, “Malcolm, she’s—”

 

“No, she’s not. You shut your mouth, or you can leave. Anyone lacking faith, get out.

 

Come on, baby. Breathe. Please breathe, Lynette.”

 

Malcolm refused to believe God sanctioned her death. He’s a good God all the time. They kept the faith, they stood their ground, and they were more than conquerors. Today started a new life together with His blessing. Pepper and Orlando grasped him on both sides.

 

“Back...off...now. Thanks.”

 

They complied as he continued his efforts for five more minutes when the paramedics arrived. He refused to relinquish his labor for the love of his life. Finally, he gave way after a few more minutes to the medical team who duplicated his actions and then some before they ceased. Malcolm jumped in and commenced once again for five more minutes until tears bathed his face, and his lips stammered for coherent speech. Pepper consoled him best she could when Malcolm snatched one of Orlando’s Glock Gen4 .40 cals from his two-sided holster. Everyone ducked, screamed, and ran for the splintered and bullet-ridden cover that was the formerly intact pews. He directed the gun at the ceiling with teeth bared, and anger etched on his countenance like a crazy man.

 

“So help me God—Why, God? Why?”

 

He screamed at the ceiling until his voice cracked then fired Orlando’s gun until the clip emptied. He maintained tension on the trigger with the weapon as it emitted its rapid-fire clicks. The roof spat its particles and dust atop animate and inanimate objects alike. He screamed again before he lost his breath and collapsed backward on bended knee. Some of the paramedics rushed in to help him while others sustained ministrations to Lynette. Orlando cracked in his emotions. Pepper, not sure who to attend to, dropped to her knees until she doubled over.

 

Cascade Park Apartments

80 Paschal Street

S.W. Atlanta

Saturday, September 20th

10:00 P.M.

 

Saturday, July 19th was a day that lived in infamy. His infamy. Malcolm’s semi-automatic Glock Gen4 Model 22 .40 cal glistened as the full moonlight cast sharp zebra shadows through the partly closed blinds upon the walls, bed, and his hands. Pictures of he and Lynette were everywhere. That hadn’t changed since the disaster.

 

Earlier he took the full clips out but left a single bullet in the chamber of the weapon to do the job. He packed an overnight bag full of his personal toiletries and police paraphernalia. If done here, it smelled of an attempted SOS albeit too late. No, he decided to travel far away and do it, so no one knew.

 

It was a few months later, and he believed the community was still too scared to notify the police of all the clues that it held. Not even for him. According to police interrogations backed up by the Atlanta Daily Post (ADP) newspaper report, what the community disclosed was the perps were members of the Gangsta 40 Posse or G-40 for short. Their new member initiation was to kill a high-profile cop. The gang’s kingpins denied any of the accusations. Their recollections entailed the kidnapped couple’s coercion to drive the SUV into the church to initiate the assassination attempt. The police pursued the SUV, but...That day was the perps’ Judgment Day. 

 

He felt a queasy stomach’s contents discomfort and moved to go to the bathroom, but as he stood, his legs quivered, and they collapsed the rest of him onto the bed’s edges. He gasped. Desperation gripped him. It dared him to live and dared him to die. It was a stalemate. Sure, he possessed wisdom, but now his sanity challenged him. Insanity said to live, and insanity said to die. So, wisdom said what, then? 

 

His face shook as his eyes flooded with tears of remembrance. His sight blurred, he slammed his eyes shut and exhaled. When he re-opened them, rational thoughts immersed in his mind: He saw his father, mother, brother, and the rest of the family. He thought of the school years, the sports, the dates, his friends, and work. He thought of the church, the house they wanted, her family and Lynette. As if that weren’t enough, he flashed back to 9/11 and the horrific sight of that second airplane as it crashed into New York’s World Trade Center building; thought of the one that crashed into Washington’s Pentagon and the brave passengers that fought the terrorists to their deaths in Pennsylvania.

 

He homed in on Police Chief Harriet Davis’ planned actions for him that included as much time off as he needed, psychiatric examinations, continued church attendance and medication not necessarily in that order. The time off threatened his headstrong belief that the Detectives Division needed his leadership for maximum effectiveness.

 

He glanced at the night stand. His gold shield that shone at him from the moonlight lay upon his Bible. He needed to discover the real reasons why the Gangsta 40 Posse tried to assassinate him but instead Tasered two and killed seven members of Standing In The Gap Church which included Pastor Elmer Brookins and Lynette. Any way he sliced it, It was back, and there was no way to deny It any longer. This situation was insanity.

 

Just then, he heard a voice in his head that said, ‘Do it.’ Wisdom said it was the devil. But he knew that God was a good God and not a God of death. Judgment from God that resulted in death was one thing, this was something else altogether. Nevertheless, this was the easiest way out that he knew even though it was a cowardly act from one of Atlanta’s finest. He dropped the gun onto his lap. He was a Christian, surely Jesus understood all this.

 

“I’d rather be with you and Jesus in heaven than down here without you in this sewer even if my wisdom’s ignorant.” 

 

So again, wisdom said what, then? He raised the Glock .40 cal in his right hand and pointed it at his mouth. The cold steel weapon of death wasn’t so anymore since he’d held it for the last five hours which was his daily ritual. It was as warm as Lynette’s hands that day.

 

He raised the gun to his forehead and placed his right index finger on the Glock .40 cal’s trigger. He squeezed his eyes closed, opened them, mashed them shut again, gritted his teeth, dropped his weapon to his side and huddled himself in a bawled out and heaped mass of humanity on his bed.

 

"...I have now a new Favourite author that I am going to make sure I read the rest of his books..." 

"...a marvelous insight into some intriguing characters and a horrific serial killer case that needs solving quickly before more victims die..." 

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