Thursday, September 30, 2010

Friday Fiction for October 1, 2010

Welcome! Friday Fiction is hosted right here this week, and you’ll find the Linky Tool at the end of this post. Please feel free to enter your own link for your Fiction submission, and enjoy the offerings from our other talented writers this weekend.

With the arrival of October, it’s time for me to start getting ready for NaNoWriMo 2010. This will be my fifth year of participating in NaNoWriMo, and I hope to have as much fun with it as I have in the previous four years. My first WriMo story, back in 2006, was the third book in the Pod series, “The Daedalus Child.” I set my goal to not just finish in November, but to finish by my birthday on the 22nd. Meeting that goal set a tone and a confidence for the following three NaNoWriMo’s. It wasn’t just a wild idea to write a complete novel in less than a month; it was a realistic objective, and one that I could also be happy with the results thereof. For October, my plan is to highlight my NaNoWriMo novels, and hopefully to encourage others to take the daring plunge into literary abandon. This week, the Prologue from “The Daedalus Child.”


Daryl Malach answered the phone with a pleasant greeting. His wife and research associate Geneva sat in the kitchen, feeding strained yams to their infant son. Smiling at her as she wiped orange residue from the child’s chin, he turned his attention to the caller, one of their lab assistants. “It’s over, Daryl,” the assistant said.

“What are you talking about? What’s over?”

“Project Tyldak; the company; everything. I got a call from a friend this morning who works as an administrative assistant for the FBI, and they’re going for a warrant today. The plan is to seize all the records and materials as evidence, and any of us that do not cooperate voluntarily will be placed under arrest.”

“What else did your friend tell you?”

“Not much; she could get in big trouble for telling me even as little as she did, but I imagine they’re going to prosecute you and Gen especially. I’ve already called a lawyer to negotiate a deal for me, Daryl. They’re going to learn everything anyway, so I might as well try and keep my tuchas out of prison. I didn’t put all those years in school just to end up as somebody’s playmate in the shower.” He paused as though waiting for a reply. “I’m sorry, man; I figured I’d warn you, but if push comes to shove I’m going to have to testify against you. You two should probably get a lawyer and start negotiating, too.”

He mouthed an expletive and rubbed his forehead. “It’s okay, Steve; you need to take care of yourself, and I appreciate the warning.”

“What are you guys going to do?”

“I don’t know, and it’s probably better if you don’t know either. That way, you won’t have to wrestle with whether to tell the investigators or not. Look; I’ve got to go. Whatever happens, thanks for everything; you’re a great assistant, and I think you’ll go far someday.”



“Don’t do anything stupid or crazy, okay? This isn’t the end of the world, you know.”

“I know; don’t worry. We’ll be fine.” He terminated the call and turned to his wife. “The government knows; they’re moving on the lab today.”

“No,” she said. “Oh, no, no, no. I’d hoped we’d have more time than this, or at least more warning.” She wiped the baby’s face and took the remains of the jar to the trash. “Get our emergency bags and the money; we’ll drop Bobby with your mother and head south.”

“Leave Bobby? Gen, he’s our son.”

“I don’t like the idea of leaving him behind, either, but Helen will take care of him and make sure he’s protected. You know as well as I do, though, that there’s no way we’re going to get out of the country with him along.”

“I know; it’s just-”

“We don’t have time to waste, Daryl. Either way, we’re going to be separated from Bobby. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be together with you in South America, than apart in prison here. One way or the other, Bobby won’t be with us.”

“You’re right; I’d just hoped we’d be there for him as he grew up, so we could help him with everything he’s going to face.”

She turned to look at the infant, and the concern was clear on her face. “That’s what I wanted, too, but Helen did a fine job with you. She’ll make sure that no one hurts him because of what we’ve done.” The veneer of her resolve faded for a moment. “I just hope to God that he’ll forgive us someday.”

“That who forgives us? God, or Bobby?”

“Now that you mention it; both.”

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Friday Fiction for September 24, 2010

Welcome, reader, and if you did not enter through My Back Door, Vonnie’s lovely down-home blog, then make sure you get over there for the Linky Tool and the host of Friday Fiction this week. Huzzah, Vonnie!

This is a bit of a long chapter from “Precocious by Consent” this week, but one that I really liked how it got me more into Katya’s mind. I hope you enjoy it.

Chapter 25

Wednesday late night

The bedroom was dimly lit by the glow of the neighbor’s backyard security light shining through the sheer curtains. The house was quiet, save for the normal sounds of the house cooling and settling. From time to time, Katya heard one or the other of the Adamsons cough, or snort in their sleep, and she wondered if such sounds would be comforting for a real child. When she had been young, she had shared a small room, little more than a cell, with her mother. They had one bed, barely large enough for the two of them, so the security of knowing her mother was near had always been a given.

The Fancie doll sat atop her dresser, visible as an almost fairy-like shape in the subdued lighting. She imagined what it would have been like to have been a normal girl, quietly getting out of bed in the night to play with her dolls some more before finally getting sleepy. Would I have enjoyed innocent fantasies about growing up and falling in love? I could have dreamed of being asked to the dance, and spinning around the floor with the most handsome boy in school. Mama would have helped make me beautiful, and Daddy would have taught me how to dance, and showed me how the right kind of man treats a woman, by treating Mama that way.

I should have had a Daddy that would have chased away the wrong kinds of boys, instead of being hired out to men who were even worse. I should have had the opportunity to know who my father was. She considered that, and a chill ran down her spine. What if my father was one of the men who trained us and hired us out as prostitutes?

She slipped from the bed and tiptoed to the window, pushing the curtain aside to look out across the backyard. Lord, is this some kind of cruel trick? Did You set this up just to show me what I missed? God, I already knew that my childhood was wrong. I didn’t need a chance to live like this, just to remind me all the more that I wasn’t given a chance to just be a kid.

A cat walked along the top of the wall separating the Adamson’s yard from the utility easement behind them. Partway across, the cat stopped and looked lazily around, before licking its paw and washing its face.

I could have grown up with a cat, or a dog, or both. I could have had real friends like Rikki, and we could have dressed up my pet and had pretend tea parties and sleepovers and all the other things that little girls do. She sniffed. Father, I want to go home. I want to quit pretending to be something I’ve never been, and never will be, and go back to being who I am. I want to crawl into my own bed with my husband, and feel his arms around me and his lips on mine. I want to forget that this kind of charade was ever part of my life.

She went to the desk and turned the speakers off on the computer, before booting it up. She first checked the e-mail account she had signed up for as Cathy Adamson, and considered sending Gary a note.

If you slip out of character, Powell’s instructions echoed in her memory, there is a real risk that this killer will spot it. His favorite way of letting us know we slipped up, is by killing someone. No matter how tempting it is, stay in character.

She had left notes for Gary all over the house, hidden in different places so he would find them over a period of time. If it worked the way she’d planned, he would get regular, unexpected reminders of her love during her absence, but there wasn’t a way for him to have done something similar for her. The luggage that had flown with her to Russia had been shipped back to Powell, to be stored until her undercover work was finished. She had traveled from Romania with only what would be normal for any child orphaned by the disaster. Gary had never seen any of it, let alone had a chance to stash surprises for her to find.

Though reluctant to do so, she logged out of her Cathy e-mail, and stayed away from her Katya account. Instead, she logged into Facenet, and found several friend requests pending. Most were from classmates and church kids that Rikki also knew, and she approved those without a second thought. Two others, though, were from people she’d never heard of, and listing no common friends. Play along, Powell had said. This guy will want to establish some kind of connection with you – he wants to get you to trust him, so that you’ll either go with him willingly, or else reveal enough information that he can abduct you at an opportune time. We’ll have discreet monitors on your account page, and will be working to track anything suspicious.

Play along, huh? She thought. Are there really that many girls foolish enough to blindly accept requests from guys they don’t know? Rather than following her gut instinct, which said to flat decline such requests, she opted for a middle ground, and sent a message back to both requests, asking where she might know them from.

Her door opened slightly. “Cathy, sweetheart? Are you all right?” Mom asked though the gap. “I thought I heard something, and saw some light beneath your door.”

“I’m okay,” she replied. “I just couldn’t sleep.” She closed her browser window.

Mom came into the room, wearing a plain-looking nightgown. She walked up behind the desk chair, and brushed at Katya’s hair. “You’re not doing something you shouldn’t on the internet, are you?”

Katya shook her head. “I was just checking for messages from my friends.”

“We raised four sons, and hosted grandsons,” Mom said. “You’ll have to forgive me if I get a little suspicious when I walk in to find you’ve cleared your internet from the screen. When the boys were teen-agers, they hid magazines in their rooms. The grandsons had to scramble to clear the porn site from the computer when we walked in.”

“I have no interest in porn,” Katya said. I know more about it than any woman should already.

“There are different risks for girls on the internet. Predators are always looking for young girls to trick into shameful things; you have to be careful.”

I know, Mom. What would you say if I told you that I’m here as bait for the worst kind of predator? What would you think of me if you knew just how much experience I have with other predators? “I know, Mom. I’m careful. I was taught about those kind of men, and I won’t be easily fooled by one.”

Mom knelt down behind the chair, and wrapped her arms around Katya. “I’m sorry if I seem a bit too worried, sweetheart. I know we haven’t known each other all that long, but already God has put you on my heart as if you had always been my daughter. There are so many bad people in the world, and I just want to keep you safe.”

“My real mother said something similar once.” Tears welled in her eyes. “Then she apologized, because she knew she wouldn’t be able to keep me safe from all the evil after all.” She was just as much a prisoner of the evil as I was – what could she do to protect me?

“Did something happen to you, Cathy?”

From the very moment I was conceived, but how could I tell you that? “That life is over, and I’d rather not talk about it or think about it now.” Tears dripped from her cheeks.

“Who hurt you, Cathy?”

Play the role. “Life hurt me.”

“Is this about your parents, and what happened to them?”

“My mother, yes, and the other girls I used to know.”

“It was a horrible tragedy over there, sweetheart, but we have to trust that God is in control.”

She nodded. Do you know how much of my tragedy happened within a short distance of your lovely home, or not far from this neighborhood where people can live with the illusion that such things don’t happen here?

“You can talk to me about it anytime you want, sweetheart. I don’t care what time it is, or what I might be busy doing – if you need to talk, I’ll listen.”

So, Lord, You’re going to remind me of one other thing I’m missing – a mother that I can go to when I need to talk about all that has happened. Where is she, Father? Why hasn’t she come looking for me, now that we’re all free? I need her, Lord – I need my mother in my life again. She wiped her cheeks with her hands. “I can’t talk about it right now,” she said. “Maybe someday, but for now, I just – can’t.”

“I understand, sweetheart.”

How could you understand, when I can’t completely understand it myself?

Mom stood up, and gently nudged her. “Why don’t you go back to bed, sweetheart? If you’d like, I’ll make you a glass of warm milk to make you sleepy, and sit with you until you fall asleep. Would you like that?”

She closed her eyes for a moment, and worked on composing herself again, before nodding.

“You shut down your computer, then, and crawl back into bed. I’ll be back up in a couple of minutes with some warm milk.”

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Friday Fiction for September 17, 2010

Christina is hosting the Linky tool for Friday Fiction this week, over at With Pen In Hand. If you haven’t been there already, please be sure to click over and check out the other wonderful stories for your weekend reading pleasure.

It’s tough sometimes, with a story such as Precocious by Consent, to shine some light in the middle of a series of dark events. This week’s chapter takes the reader back to small town USA, and those that have to wait while others work in harm’s way.

Chapter 24

Wednesday night

Gary Duddeck carried the guitar through the nearly deserted parking lot, and loaded it into the back seat of his car. On the surface, the Wednesday evening service had gone fine, but he couldn’t escape a feeling of misgiving about the gathering. Folks in the congregation kept asking about Katya, and despite knowing how vital it was to maintain the cover story, it felt wrong to lie to them about where she was and what she was doing. Most accepted the explanation that her grandmother lived in a very rural area of Russia, and did not have internet or a phone line, but a few people were starting to get suspicious. Asher and Gosia had already squelched a couple of rumors that had started, but more such speculation was certain to happen the longer she was gone.

He closed the passenger side door and leaned against the car, folding his arms on the roof and resting his forehead on his arms. He wanted to tell the church the truth - that Katya was acting as bait for a serial killer, and needed their prayers for her safety. He’d been assured by many of their friends that prayers were being said for her safety in Russia, but those prayers didn’t carry the same feeling of urgency his own did. She was teasing a predator, and that was a far more dangerous game than a simple journey to visit family.

A hand alighted on his shoulder and gave a gentle squeeze. “Are you all right, Gary?” Asher asked.

For most people, he would have simply said ‘yes.’ “No, not really,” he said, without lifting his head.

“You want to go inside and talk about it? Normally, I’d ask if you wanted to go get some coffee, but I’m guessing this won’t be something you’d want to discuss in a public place.”

He nodded, and followed the minister back inside the building, to one of the small counseling rooms off the side of the sanctuary.

Asher held the door open for him, and slid the “Occupied” sign into place before following him inside and closing the door.

Gary sat down in one of the padded chairs, and leaned forward. With his elbows on his knees, he held his head in his hands, looking at the floor.

The pastor pulled another chair to closely face his, and sat down. “Has there been any word?” he asked.

“Not from Katya,” Gary replied. “I’m not sure what’s worse, though – the news I don’t get, or the news I do hear. Lloyd was hurt this week.”

“Your detective friend? What happened?”

“Yeah, the detective. I don’t know what happened. I only know he was injured in the course of the investigation, and they’re not releasing any details.”

“Maybe it was just a simple accident.”

“No; if it had been just some routine accident or fall, I doubt there would have been any hesitation to say what had happened. This has something to do with the killer, and if he can get to someone like Lloyd, how are they going to keep him from getting to Katya?”

Asher considered the question for a moment, and then opened his Bible. “Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place,” he read. “No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot. Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation.” He turned the Bible around for Gary to see, and pointed to the passage in Psalm 91. “Human authorities and methods can only do so much. You have to trust that God is watching over Katya, and to get to her, the killer has to get past God first.”

He glanced at the text, and then looked away. “He got past God to get to Lloyd.”

“No, Gary, he didn’t. We don’t get past God that way. We can’t feint our way by Him, and we certainly can’t muscle our way through Him. I don’t know why God allowed whatever happened to Lloyd to happen, but this I do know – it didn’t just slip by Him. He wasn’t tricked or caught by surprise. Whatever it was, happened because God allowed it to happen, for His purpose.”

“What if He allows something to happen to Katya?”

“I know it’s not easy to accept, but if He does, then He has a reason for it, and we have to trust that He knows what He’s doing.”

“I wish it were that easy to trust.”

The gentle hand was on his shoulder again. “Gary, just remember that, as much as you love Katya, God loves her even more. You know that, don’t you?”

He nodded. “Yeah, I know that.”

“And He has everything under control.”

“Yeah, I know that, too.”

“Now, how are you holding up in her absence otherwise? I know when Gosia is away, the nights can seem awfully lonely, and it gets very tempting to surf the internet for some kind of diversion.”

“I never figured you for having a problem with that, Asher.”

“I’m a man, just like you are, Gary. The ease of access on the internet, coupled with the illusion of secrecy, has resulted in an almost epidemic number of ministers who admit to either indulging in, or struggling against, viewing porn. The temptation can be strong any time, but when we’re alone, it’s worse. It can be so easy to think of it as a harmless outlet, because no one ever has to know, and then we won’t share the struggle with anyone else because we’re ashamed to admit we might have a weakness, and need help.”

“That’s the way my life was before – horrible desires that I was terrified someone might discover about me. If you’re an alcoholic or drug addict, and join a support group, people applaud your efforts to overcome the problem, but who would want to admit they belonged to something like Pedophiles Anonymous?”

“Is it still a struggle for you?”

He covered his eyes with his hands and sighed. “I think it will always be there, Asher. It doesn’t have the hold on me that it had before, but you’re right. With Katya gone, it’s worse at night. We have software on the computer that blocks the porn sites, but I know how to defeat it if I want to. When she’s home, I can tell her when I’m having a difficult time, and she can help me through it, but right now, I can’t even send her a text message or call her.”

“I understand, Gary, and I want you to promise me something. Promise to call me when you’re struggling, no matter what time it is. Give me the chance to encourage you and to pray with you, instead of thinking you have to face this alone. Will you do that?”

He closed his eyes and considered the request for a few moments, before slowly nodding. “I will, Asher, and thank you.”

“Would you like to take some time to pray now, before you go home?”

“Would I like to? No,” he said. “Do I need to? Very much so right now.”

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Friday Fiction for September 10, 2010 - Deleted Scene Week!

You’ll find Friday Fiction hosted this week by Joanne, over at An Open Book. Drop in, say ‘hi’ to Joanne, and look for the other Friday Fiction participants in the Linky tool.

This week is a break from the seriousness of “Precocious by Consent” (no, that doesn’t mean I’ve posted as much as I have), with this very special “Deleted Scene” episode. If movie makers can include deleted scenes on the DVD, then why not include one here on Pod Tales?

This scene appeared in Chapter 39 of the original draft of “Marta’s Pod.” I really enjoyed this scene, both for the light-hearted feel of it, and for the portrayal of the Pod it gives. I’ve often seen the Pod as having a rather unusual blending of innocence and worldliness, and it comes through in a few double-entendres in this scene.

The reason it was deleted, though is two-fold. One, while amusing, it didn’t advance the story, nor did it really help develop any of the characters. The second, and more important, is that most editors advise very strongly against including even snippets of copyrighted song lyrics in a book. Securing the permission to use said lyrics can be tricky, and “fair use” rules tend to be rather muddy in such cases.

Since the lyrics for this song can be found several places on the web, including on Leonard Cohen’s webpage, and since this excerpt is not-for-profit, I don’t think I’ll have much problem using it here. If you’ve never heard the song before, you can listen to it on Youtube.

Leading up to this scene in the story was a confrontation between Suzanne and her biological father, Emilio. She ends up knocking him into the pool, where she keeps dunking him until he capitulates (okay, in this case, "dunking" means she nearly drowns him).


Mark played his guitar for a small but appreciative audience. Not only were his calluses back, but playing with his coworkers had stretched his skill and helped him polish some of his techniques. Daniel and Suzanne were among those who listened, the young couple resting close beside each other with their tails overlapping.

“Hey, Mark,” Daniel said during one break. “Do you know any songs about Suzanne?”

“I believe I do,” Mark replied, starting to run through a few chords. “As I recall, it was Leonard Cohen who wrote this one titled ‘Suzanne’.” He searched his memory and found the proper chord progression and lyrics. “Man, how do I remember this stuff?” He wondered out loud.

Suzanne takes you down to her place by the river,

You can hear the boats go by

You can spend the night beside her

And you know that she’s half crazy

“That’s her, all right!” Robert laughed. Suzanne stuck her tongue at him in reply.

But that’s why you want to be there

And she feeds you tea and oranges that come all the way from China

“Oranges? Are you holding out on me?” Daniel asked.

And just when you mean to tell her

That you have no love to give her

She gets you on her wavelength

And she lets the river answer that you’ve always been her lover

And you want to travel with her

And you want to travel blind

And you know that she will trust you

For you’ve touched her perfect body with your mind.”

“Oh? Is that what you’re calling it now?” Gretchen teased. “I guess that explains why you say you like having her on your mind!”

Mark paused his singing, too busy laughing at the comments to continue right away.

“Hey, I’ve got a mind you can be on!” Andrew suggested to Gretchen.

“Seems to me I remember you telling Jonathon you had half a mind to chase after Rachel. Maybe she’d be happy with only half a mind, but not me,” Gretchen shot back.

“Okay, let Mark sing,” Eva said, stifling her own laugh at the comments.

And Jesus was a sailor when He walked upon the water,

And He spent a long time watching

From His lonely wooden tower

And when He knew for certain

Only drowning men could see Him

“Josh didn’t; he saw Marta.”


He said ‘All men will be sailors then

Until the sea shall free them!’

But He Himself was broken

Long before the sky would open

Forsaken, almost human

He sank beneath your wisdom like a stone.

And you want to travel with Him,

And you want to travel blind,

And you think maybe you’ll trust Him

For He’s touched your perfect body with His mind.”

“Oooh, that’s sick!”


“Hey, I bet Emilio saw Jesus this morning! He certainly kept yelling out His name!”


Now Suzanne takes your hand and she leads you to the river,

She is wearing rags and feathers

From Salvation Army counters

And the Sun pours down like honey

On our Lady of the Harbor

And she shows you where to look

Among the garbage and the flowers

There are heroes in the seaweed

There are children in the morning

They are leaning out for love

And they will lean that way forever

While Suzanne holds the mirror

And you want to travel with her

And you want to travel blind

And you know that you can trust her

For she’s touched your perfect body with her mind.”

“No comments on the last line?” Mark said.

Heroes in the seaweed,” Kelli quoted, barely above a whisper. Children in the morning leaning out for love? He was really writing about us, wasn’t he?”

“Considering Cohen wrote this song back in the nineteen-sixties, I doubt it.”

“But Marta saved Josh’s life, so wouldn’t that make her a hero in the seaweed?”

“Well, yeah, but-”

“And when Eva takes you for a swim, aren’t you traveling blind? Your eyes aren’t made to handle the seawater like ours are.”

“Well, I guess the song fits the Pod in a lot of ways. I still don’t think that’s what Mr. Cohen had in mind when he wrote it, but maybe he was just ahead of his time.”

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Friday Fiction for September 3, 2010

This week, I verified we really do have a host for Friday Fiction. Karlene at Homespun Expressions has the helm and the Linky tool. Check out the excerpt from her WIP, and the other submissions for your holiday weekend reading pleasure.

This week’s chapter from “Precocious by Consent” is short, but essential in that it’s the first time in the story that we get the POV of a key player in this drama.

Chapter 23

Wednesday evening

The car sat in the guest parking area of the condominium complex, unnoticed by the few residents that happened to drive down the cul-de-sac street. When first built, the neighborhood had been a “gated community,” and residents had needed to either show identification to a guard, or enter a security code onto a keypad, to gain access. As the property values decreased in comparison to similar sized domiciles, and the economy took its toll on the net wealth of the various homeowners, the guard had been laid off, and the keypad fallen into disrepair. The gates remained open constantly, allowing guests to come and go at whim.

The neighborhood was not without its attractions, though, and the solitary occupant of the parked car reclined in the passenger seat, with a laptop computer resting on his thighs. The owners of the unsecured home wireless network were out for the evening, and he perused profiles on Facenet through the piggybacked connection.

Where’s your shill, Powell? The man thought. The Feds were not likely to give up, and particularly not with a new set of victims to add to their list of charges against him. Worse, it wouldn’t be nearly as exciting without the side challenge of keeping the FBI guessing as to who he was, and when he’d grab his next victim.

Refining his search criteria, several names appeared on the screen, most of which he’d seen before. Hello… what’s this? Yesfir Petrova – is this your new shill, Powell? A girl that happens to fit all my likes that you know of, shows up shortly after Lara Moore disappears. Only one picture so far, and supposedly a recent immigrant from Romania. If this is one of your agents, Powell, you’re slipping. Surely you could have come up with more than one photo, and a better cover story for a lack of history than that. Well, let’s see what happens. He marked her profile page, and then brought up his network map.

The Walfords were not a very careful family, he noted. Not only was their wireless network unsecured, but one computer was also unsecured and fully accessible. He explored through a few file folders, shaking his head at the foolishness of some people. There was enough information on the drive for him to accomplish an effective identity theft, and by the time the Walfords realized what was happening, he could have thousands of dollars worth of purchases on their accounts, and their credit in a shambles.

Thievery, however, did not excite him.

Instead, he opened an obscure file folder on the computer, created a new folder within it labeled, “Private pictures,” and copied dozens of photos from his laptop into the folder. Most people never explored the various folders on their computers, and this new folder could remain undetected forever, if a repair tech or law enforcement official didn’t find it somehow.

He closed the connection to the other computer, and brought back up Yesfir Petrova’s Facenet profile. Using the new alias he’d created, he sent her a friend request, and then logged out. He shut the laptop and slid it into its carrying bag, and then walked around to the driver’s seat of the car.

If Yesfir Petrova were Powell’s latest shill, they’d likely track the friend request to the Walford’s IP address. Since Chet Walford was a Middle-School teacher, with nearly daily access to hundreds of children within the Facenet Killer’s target age bracket, the FBI would tend to be overzealous in their investigation. They would find the photos he’d copied to Walford’s home computer, and a Middle School teacher caught with child porn would make the news. Powell would tell him who his new shill was, if that was the case.

He could decide from there how to make the FBI pay for their clumsiness.

Driving away, he chuckled as he imagined the living hell the Walfords would go through, if the FBI did seize the computer. After all, no one ever believed a middle-aged man’s protestations that he knew nothing of how dirty pictures of little girls got on his computer. Once the stigma was attached, it would stick, even if the man were completely exonerated.