Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C15-4

Brielle immediately recognized Brenda’s voice.

“The kids!” She gasped to herself before answering, “Relax, sweetie! It’s Brielle! I’ve come to get you all out of here!”

“Holy shit! Ms. Brielle!” Bruce cried.

All the kids jumped up and ran to the bars of their cells.

As Brielle unlocked the first cell, Bruce’s cell, she stopped and put a finger to her lips.

“Shhhhhhhhhhh! Not so loud! Somebody will hear us and then we’re all screwed!” she said in a loud, gruff whisper.

When she got to Olivia’s cell and unlocked it, Olivia ran to her and threw her arms around her as her back heaved in quiet sobs.

Finally Finding the Teens

“Mom! Oh, God! I’m so glad you’re here!” Olivia tried to whisper.

“Shhhhh! Sweetie, we have to be real quiet! Okay?” Brielle told her.

“Don’t forget Nanda! She’s at the very last cell on the end of the block!” Olivia told her.

After Brielle unlocked all the cells and all the kids were free, she looked at each of them.

“Stay behind me and be quiet. I’m going get you out of here.”

“Ms. Brielle, I’m Kelsey McGregor! Have they notified my mom?” Kelsey asked.

“Your mother is here, Kelsey. She, Chris, Miles, Alex- they’re all here,” Brielle assured.

Olivia took the hand of the scared silent Nanda and took her to Brielle.

“Mom, this is Nanda. She’s the missing girl Popeye told us about,” Olivia told her.

“Okay. Just be quiet and follow me,” Brielle whispered in a gruff voice.

They all crept down the cellblock, through the double doors and into the main tunnel, where they met Big Bruce, who was carrying an injured Raina. They crept single file- Brielle led the way with Olivia directly behind her, then Nanda, Roxie, Kelsey, Brenda, Andy, and Bruce. Brielle looked at Olivia.

Sneaking Through the Tunnels

“Where are Jane and Kennedy?” She asked.

“They came and took Jane, Mom. I don’t know where they took her. They took the baby too and I don’t know where they took her either,” Olivia whispered with tears in her eyes.

“We’ll find them both! Don’t worry. Just stay calm and stay quiet,” Brielle said as she led them down the road in the main tunnel. Across the road was a row of arches in the stoned wall.

Remembering which way Sheriff Bobby, Deputy Ashton, and Misty had brought her in, Brielle began to lead the kids down the same route when suddenly, they heard the drone of a vehicle as it approached.

“Quick! We got to hide!” Brielle said in a loud whisper as they all scattered and hid inside the arches.

The dark van came to a screeching halt and dark, hooded figures with automatic weapons exited the van and approached the dark archways where Brielle and the kids were hidden.

Hooded Figures

Meanwhile, in the field across from Opaque Lake, Popeye and the rest of his group watched closely. They noticed two pairs of headlights approaching the dirt road that led to the lake. The two vehicles slowed to a lurch, then turned onto the road.

Popeye spoke into the mic of his earpiece.

“Chris, it’s Popeye! We’re in position, come back,” he said.

“Hey, Popeye. Sorry we lost you there for a while,” Chris responded.

“I see two vehicles. They just turned onto the road to Opaque Lake,” Miles said.

“Gotcha, Miles. That’s just us. I’m driving the first van and Atticus is driving the second. We’re headed to the elevator in the road- the one Jane spoke of. We’re driving vans we found parked in the tunnels,” Chris told them.

Popeye sighed with relief, as did the rest of his group.

As Popeye and his group watched, they could see the two vehicles parking side by side to one another. Finally, the vehicles slowly disappeared as they were lowered into the ground via the secret elevator.

“Here we go, guys,” Chris said over the earpieces quietly.

“Good luck Chris, Atticus. For God’s sake be careful,” Miles told them.

Getting Closer

Meanwhile, below, as Brielle, Big Bruce, Raina, and the kids were being escorted by six heavily armed, hooded people down a dark, dimly lit corridor, they began to hear distant chants and an organ playing an eerie tone.

“You’ll never get away with this! Never!” Roxie shouted angrily.

The hooded person behind her shoved her forward.

“Shut your mouth, bitch!” the hooded person shouted in a female voice. Brielle instantly recognized the voice- the voice of Rita.

“Up yours!” Roxie fired back.

“Keep talking bitch! Because it’s the last time you’re going to use that sharp tongue of yours!”

“Gee, I’d know that voice anywhere,” Brielle quipped, “Nice to see you again…Rita!”

“Shut up and keep walking!” the second hooded man ordered in a voice that sounded like Bobby. As they continued to walk, the chants grew louder still.

“So, where are you taking us? Sounds like some kind of freak show!” Kelsey said in a smart-alicky tone.

“You won’t be so cavalier for long, Miss Smartass!” Misty growled from underneath her hood.

Chants

“I swear, you’ll rue this day, Bobby! You’re all going to fry for this!” Brielle growled with a voice dripping with bitterness.

“Oh, how naïve thou still art!” Bobby sneered, “You see, Brielle? There’s fantasy world and then there’s the real world. Now, we live in the real world. And in the real world, there’s a hierarchy. And in the hierarchy exists three categories of people. There are The Desirables- the highly sought after and envied, who are at the top- where everyone else wishes they could be. Then, there are those in the middle- they’re the majority. Now, these people aren’t necessarily sought-after and not as desirable as The Desirables, but they do our bidding and stay in line, so they’ll do. We call those people, The Acceptables. Then, at the very bottom of the hierarchy, are The Undesirables- people like you, your little daughters, and the rest of you losers, for instance. Now, The Undesirables get the shit-end of the stick…always. They are the slugs we Desirables love more than anything else, to step on. ‘You see? The Desirables- those at the top decide who bodes well in this world and who doesn’t. We keep track of The Undesirables. We know where they live, when they get a job, when they marry, have babies- oh yeah! We keep track of those things. We flag people like you. We keep a very close eye on you, that way, we can keep you down and out. Because we decide who enjoys success and who endures failure. We decide who we favor and who we oppose. Also, we decide who gets what privileges, perks, and resources and when they get them. In short, we decide who we deem worthy and who we deem unworthy of life and all it’s pleasures. You might say, we have our very own local Social Credit System,” Bobby explained in a tone of evil and glee.

Local Social Credit System 

“You don’t get to decide what I do or how I live. And you don’t get to decide what I get out of life. Only I can decide that. So, fuck you, your little hierarchy, and your Social Credit System!” Brielle bit back.

Bobby only chuckled at Brielle’s last rebellious clap back.

“Oh, if it were only that easy, Brielle. You know how the system is. It’s fucking us all anyway. Hell, I’m just a small-town, country sheriff. So, the system fucks me too, but at least, I have a little bit of power. And shit always rolls downhill. The good thing about having even a little, tiny bit of power is that it keeps you off the bottom, where it lands. The shit that rolls downhill may roll on you and get you a little stinky, but it rolls on past you. But when it lands on the bottom, it stays on the bottom because there’s nowhere else for it to go. It just sits there and rots until the next turd comes rolling down. ‘You see? Not only does shit land on the bottom, it piles up at the bottom,” Bobby continued.

“Maybe. But there’s always a pooper-scooper lying around somewhere,” Brielle quipped.

“I don’t understand you, Brielle. How do you do it? How do you stay so positive? And against such odds!”

Brielle’s Strong Will and Determination 

“Hell, you don’t know, Bobby? People like you only strengthen my resolve. ‘You see? There’s something you don’t know about the- oh, now, what did you just referred to us as? ‘The Undesirables?’ There’s something about people like us that you don’t understand- couldn’t even comprehend. And that is that we ‘Undesirables’ have a strength and spirit that people like you could only hope to have. We’re not only survivors but overcomers. We have the will and the grit to rise above people like you. Because we have determination that eventually supersedes your power. You see, we’re the real badasses. And I guarantee that if you lost your power and ended up on the bottom, you couldn’t handle it. In fact, your little world would be turned upside down and you’d probably blow your brains out because you couldn’t survive the fall. Because the higher up you are, the further you fall, the faster you fall, and the harder you hit when you land at the bottom. It’s not the fall that kills you, it’s that sudden stop at the bottom. Just ask Big Brother Johnny, Bobby. He could tell you all about that, now, couldn’t he?” Brielle fired back in a calm and cool manner before flashing a smirk.

“Shut the fuck up, bitch! Shut the fuck up!” Bobby screamed. But Brielle only continued.

“Shit Rolls Downhill…”

“Damn! All that effort to take Shannon down! And what did it accomplish? Where did it get him? Where, did it get him, Bobby? It got him sent off to federal prison for the rest of his miserable life! In trying to destroy Shannon Crooke McGregor, he ended up destroying himself in the process. So, shit may indeed land at the bottom. But it also has ways of coming full circle.”

With that, Bobby grabbed Brielle and slung her into the wall.

Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C15-3

Popeye put his earpiece back in as he drove.

Miles took his phone out and pulled up his homing app. A map of Thomasville appeared on the screen. He then zoomed in on the red pointer on the map and six homing beacons appeared, representing Chris and the rest of his group. When Miles zoomed back out, he saw two more homing beacons on the other side of the screen, representing Cindy and Shannon, who were still waiting in Atticus’s SUV, parked in an alley across from the courthouse.

“Well, I can see all the homing beacons and so far, there’s no distress signal,” Miles assured.

Alvin put his hand on his chest, letting out a sigh of relief.

Good Signs

Just then, they came to a small clearing. Sitting in the passenger seat, Alvin looked across the field to see that it was dotted with hey bales. Beyond the field, he could see a thin line of trees and the lake beyond them.

“We’re here,” Alvin said, “Chris, if you can hear me, we’ve passing the Elysian Fields now.”

Chris’ voice sounded over everyone’s earpieces amid the crackling static.

“Alvin, did you say Elysian Fields? Alvin, can you hear me? Alvin!”

“Yes, Chris! We’re here! We’re gonna find a place to hide where we can still watch the entrance to Opaque Lake!” Popeye answered

“I can’t hear you, Popeye, Alvin. Shit! You’re breaking up!”

Miles’ eyes grew wide as he looked back at his screen.

“Shit, those homing beacons are moving a lot faster now. Either they’ve been captured, or they may have found a couple of vehicles down there somewhere and took off in them. I sure hope they didn’t get caught.” He said in a tone of concern.

“Are there any distress signals?” Jo asked.

Signals

“No distress signals, they’re just moving a lot faster than they were a while ago and they’re divided into two groups of three, one behind the other, and moving in the same direction. They’re moving west so they’re headed for the bluff.

“Let’s just find a place to hide this car. We’ll worry about it when we’re in place,” Popeye said.

Popeye turned onto a long gravel road across from the Elysian Fields and the Lake. He drove about a quarter mile before finding a thicket of tall bushes about a mile away. He drove the dark blue Escalade behind the bushes, then backed up and pointed the nose directly between two bushes in the thicket, where he could see the Elysian fields and the lakeshore beyond it.

After shutting off the engine, Popeye reached over and opened his glove compartment. He then pulled out a pair of small binoculars and pulled out the eye cups. Next, Popeye switched to night-vision and placed them up to his eyes, adjusting the diopter to get a clearer image and better focus.

Keeping a Lookout

With the binoculars that were hung around his neck, Alvin also watched the field. Miles and Alexandra quietly climbed out of the vehicle, each having their own pair. They got down on the ground, on their bellies, then did an Army crawl under the bushes before beginning their watch. Oliver and Jo just sat there, squinting while watching with their naked eyes.

Back in town, in the alley across from the courthouse, Shannon and Cindy sat parked and with the engine off. Shannon in the driver’s seat and Cindy in the passenger, they listened carefully as the static grew in their earpieces and the voices faded out.

“Damn it!” Shannon said as she took her earpiece out in frustration, “We didn’t think about the bottoms being pretty much a dead zone!”

“Yeah, I just hope and pray they’ll be alright,” Cindy added with a sigh.

All was quiet except for a multitude of sirens in the distance. The streets were pitch dark as the power outage had taken out all the street lights, leaving the whole of Glover County in the middle of an unprecedented blackout.

Spied

Suddenly, the two women heard the distant drone of a car getting louder and louder. Shannon and Cindy looked at each other, then Shannon looked through the rearview mirror and noticed the entrance of the alley behind them. They could see outside the alley and the beam of head lights getting brighter until what looked like a cop car stopped just outside the alley with its spotlight shinning right on the vehicle they sat in.

“Ooooh, shit!” Shannon said in a loud but low voice.

“Holy fuck!” Cindy cried.

“What are we gonna do now?” Shannon asked in a warning tone.

The ladies watched through the side mirrors as the dark figure of an officer got out of the cruiser and the sounds of footsteps clicked in the quiet.

They immediately took off their masks and caps then quickly tossed them under the seats before ruffling their hair with both hands. One of Atticus’s huge flannel shirts and a small blanket lay in the floorboard. Shannon reached back and grabbed them both.

A Clever Cover

“Put this flannel shirt on over that black turtleneck and your ammo belt! I’ll use this blue throw as a shawl!” She advised. Cindy did as Shannon suggested.

The footsteps grew louder, and the officer clicked on his flashlight and shone it on the vehicle as he came walking down the alley toward them.

Cindy looked at Shannon.

“I’ve got an idea! Don’t say anything, just go along!” Cindy whispered loudly as she leaned toward Shannon, grabbed her by the back of her neck, then pulled her toward her. Shannon’s eyes widened, nearly popping out of her head and she just froze as Cindy put her in a lip lock and put a hand on one of her breasts, caressing it.

Cindy still had Shannon in the lip lock when the mystery officer, who turned out to be a rookie deputy, shone his flashlight in the window. His eyes widened face turned red as he stifled a grin. Shannon spun around and lower the window.

“Can we help you, officer?” she asked with a fake but genuine looking smile.

“Um, uh, ladies, we have several inmates on the loose,” The young deputy stammered, unable to contain his shock and embarrassment, “There’s a huge manhunt and it’s covering all of west Tennessee. You need to get home right away.”

A Huge Shock 

“Oh, shoot!” Shannon said, acting surprised, “Thank you so much, officer, we’ll be on our way.”

“Have fun. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do,” the deputy quipped with a grin before turning and walking back toward his car.

Shannon cranked the ignition as she watched the officer get into his vehicle and pull away. She then began frantically wiping her mouth with the back of her wrist and forearm.

Ptu-Ptu-Ptui!” Shannon spat as she pulled a wrinkled up napkin out of her pants pocket and spat into it. “Blechhh! Shit, Cindy! What in the blue blazes was that!” Shannon retorted.

“Well, I kept us from looking suspicious and going to jail, didn’t I!” Cindy shot back.

Shannon looked at Cindy and Cindy returned the look. They both then chortled, then gave a little chuckle. Suddenly, they burst into loud cackles before Cindy spoke.

“Boy, we’re going to have a hell of a story to tell when this is over!” Cindy giggled as Shannon pulled the vehicle out of the alley.

As Shannon drove, Cindy looked at her. Shannon looked at the dashboard clock. It was a quarter after nine.

A Change in Plans

“Chris and Atticus told us to stay put. You know that, right?” she said.

“Yep. But they didn’t count on us being spied by the cop. So, there’s been a slight change in plans,” Shannon replied.

“So, where are we headed?” Cindy asked.

“To the bottoms. I figure that if we go there, we’re least likely to be seen.”

“I just don’t want to do anything to blow our cover or Popeye’s. And what if Chris and the rest need to come back in a hurry and find that we’re gone?”

“I don’t think they will. We lost contact with them so they’re probably in the bottoms too by now.”

Finding Raina

In the dungeon, Brielle awoke to check on Raina. She too was asleep and breathing normally. Brielle checked Raina’s wounds and raised the cover over her to make sure she was warm. Suddenly, she heard the doors slam shut and the sounds of jingling keys and approaching footsteps.

Brielle remained crouched beside Raina and continued to listen carefully until one of the deputies, a short, rail-thin young man, appeared outside the bars.

“Looks like I’m gonna need to leave y’all here by yourselves. There’s been a prison break in Sugar Village and the sheriff needs every warm body he can get. Don’t worry. You’ll be just fine and we don’t have to worry about you pus-bags going anywhere. You’ll never make it out of these caves,” The deputy sneered.

“Well, before you go, you need to check on my cellmate in here. She doesn’t look like she’s doing too well. She may need medical attention,” Brielle told him.

Tricked

The deputy unclipped a huge ring of keys off his belt loop and took about thirty seconds to search for the right key. He then unlocked the cell and came inside. As he stood over Raina and smirked, Brielle suddenly and swiftly made her move.

Without warning, she swept the deputy’s legs and feet out with one foot, then scissored the deputy’s neck between her legs, rendering him unconscious. Next, she stripped him of his uniform, keys, and gun belt. Brielle changed out of her clothes, into the uniform and cap, being sure to tuck her long, blonde ponytail inside the cap. She then grabbed the keys, put on the belt and holstered the gun. Finally, she unlocked her cell.

Brielle looked back at Raina.

“Hang on, girl! I’m coming back for you!” she promised before running to Big Bruce’s cell and unlocking it.

Big Bruce awoke and sat up.

“What the…!” He grunted.

“Relax, Mr. McCauley! It’s me, Brielle!” she whispered, “Raina’s hurt! Get her and carry her out of here! I’ve got to go find the kids!”

Big Bruce Free

And she unlocked the second set of doors and crept out of the cell block. Now she was in the main tunnel, on the access road. She remembered passing another set of double doors on her way to the cellblock when Bobby, Misty, and Ashton had brought her to her cell, so, she ran about fifty years up the access road.

When Brielle came upon another set of steel double doors, she grabbed the ring of keys. It took her about a minute to try about ten keys before she fumbled and accidentally dropped the ring of keys.

Shit!” She swore as she knelt and swiped the keys off the dirt floor.

Because the corridor was so dimly lit, it was difficult to see the keys in her hand as she had to start over and try each key. It took her about five minutes but she finally found the key that fit the lock, which happened to be the very last key on the ring.

An exhaled sigh of relief blew out of her lungs as she turned the key, the lock clicked and gave way, and the door opened.

Another Setbof Double Doors

As Brielle hurried down the cell block, a voice cried out,

“Who is that! Who is it!”

Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C15-2

“Okay, Shannon and Cindy, stay with the vehicle. The rest of you, it’s time to boogie!”

With that, Chris, Atticus, Jesse, Malcolm, Daniel, and Jane quietly jumped out of the vehicle and crept across the dark street to the courthouse.

Meanwhile, Popeye and the second group were driving west on County Route 16. They topped a hill and began passing deep gullies that were covered in kudzu.

“We’re almost to Sinai,” he announced as he turned his headlights off and allowed the light of the full moon to guide him.

Atticus whispered back over the group comms.

“The drawbridge is down and we’re storming the Castle!” he said.

Going in.

Back at the Courthouse, Jane quietly pointed out a rectangular hole along the side of the courthouse. The hole had stairs that led to the walkout basement. Chris led the group down the stairs to the door. He carefully twisted the handle on the door and slowly pulled it. Sure enough, it clicked open. As the five of them crept inside, Atticus, who was the last person inside and guarding the rear, pulled down the shade over the door window before easing the door closed. They pulled out their flashlights and began searching for the trapdoor.

“That’s it!” Jane whispered loudly as Atticus pulled back a huge area rug in the middle of the wooden floor and found the secret entrance in the floor.

He then knelt and worked to wedge his fingers into the crack and pulled it up. Surprisingly, it was heavy, and Chris jumped in to help. Daniel then shone his flashlight down it.

Going Underground

A flight of wooden stairs led into an underground room. They each crept down the stairs and Atticus and Malcolm closed the doors behind them. The wooden stairs creaked with each step, causing Jane to flinch.

“If somebody’s down here they’ll hear us and that’ll be it,” Jane whispered frantically and gruffly.

“It’s just one of the risks,” Chris said quietly, “You guys be sure and watch out for cameras, infrared trip wires, anything that might alert those bastards that we’re here. Daniel, do you have a hidden spy camera detector app on your phone?”

“I’m already using it, so far, the app hasn’t detected any,” Daniel answered in a quiet voice.

“How good is the app?” Malcolm asked.

“It’s a damn good app, Malcolm. I’ve used it before, and it detected every spy camera in the place.”

“Do you have a cloaking device that could possibly make us invisible to spy cams?” Chris asked.

Taking Precautions 

“Nope. But if I detect a spy cam, I can jam it,” Daniel assured.

“That’s good enough.”

“Honestly, they may not have any down here. If no one but a few VIPs know about these tunnels, and as arrogant as the few people who do know about them are, they might have figured that cameras wouldn’t be necessary.”

“Still. Keep scanning just in case you’re wrong, Daniel.”

When they got to the bottom of the stairs, the room was just as Jane had described, arched entrances of tunnels all around them, each entrance had a burning torch on the stone-built wall beside it. And the arched, brick ceilings of each tunnel were lined with hanging 40-watt bulbs.

Slowly and steadily, they all crept down the tunnel with Daniel in the lead, scanning for spy cameras. Atticus took up the rear with his machine gun held firmly.

They approached a section of the tunnel where the bulbs were blown and pulled out their tactical flashlights to navigate the darkness. Suddenly, tiny squeaks peppered the quiet.

Squeaks in the Dark

“What the hell is that?” Jesse asked in a gruff whisper.

Just then, they all looked up and, by the light of the flashlight, saw a multitude of rats scampering toward them. Just as Jane started screaming, Atticus grabbed her and clapped his head over her mouth, then mouthed, “shhhhhh.”

Chris took a mini blow torch that hung from his belt and aimed it at the approaching rat colony. A stream of fire roasted many of the rats as Chris waved it back and forth. The surviving rats turned and scurried away.

It was about a thirty-minute walk until they came to the underground across road.

“We’re here! This is the access road. And there are the vans they took us in. But there were two more when we were here.” Jane told them.

On the other side of the access road was another archway with two dark vans parked underneath.

“Well, my heat sensor doesn’t detect anyone inside those vans. And I still haven’t detected any spy cams anywhere so far,” Daniel whispered.

“Good! Let’s check out the vans,” Chris said.

The Underground Highway

Chris, Daniel, and Jesse shone their flashlights in the windows of the first van and peered inside. Although the windows were heavily tinted, he could see see inside with the flashlight. Atticus, Malcolm, and Jane peeped in the second van. Chris, peeping from the passenger side of the vehicle, shone his flashlight on the ignition to see that the keys were still in it.

“Hey! Psssst! The keys are still in the ignition!” He whispered loudly.

“Boy, these are some real dumbasses!” Jesse said with a derisive chuckle.

“Not really. Remember, hardly anyone knows about these underground tunnels. So, they know it’s a lot safer down here than it is on the surface,” Chris told them.

“Not in this car! I don’t see any keys,” Malcolm whispered back.

“I can hotwire it if I have to,” Daniel said as he approached the keyless vehicle.

Transportation 

He leaned into the vehicle and quickly searched under the visors and floormats. Daniel then searched the middle console and the glove compartment. No keys. Finally, he reached under the steering wheel, grabbed the wires and fiddled with them. Sure enough, the engine roared to life.

“Okay, everyone. Let’s take the vans and find out where this road goes. Jane, which way to the exit you were telling us about?” Chris said.

“That way,” Jane said as she pointed to their left.

And they all jumped into the vans, three per van, with Chris, Daniel, and Jesse taking the first van and Atticus, Malcolm, and Jane taking the second.

Chris cranked the ignition and pulled out, with Atticus driving the second van behind him.

As Popeye topped the bluff and began to drive down it, Alexandra looked off to the west and, by the light of the full moon above, it seemed that you could see the entire world from the top of the bluff. One could see a section of the mighty Mississippi River and it ran along next to the horizon and disappeared among the trees as it took a curve around an island. On the horizon, beyond the river, you could see the lights of a small Arkansas, town.

Popeye and His Group Reach Sinai

As they reached the foot of the bluff and proceeded down County Route 16 through the bottoms with the headlights still off, using only the light of the moon to see the road ahead, Popeye touched his earpiece as the voices of Chris, Daniel and the rest of who was underground began to break up.

“Chris! Atticus! Can you hear me! It’s Popeye! Chris!” Popeye said louder as a crackling sound slowly grew louder and distorted the voices of those in the tunnel, “Damn it!”

“Shit!” Miles said as he tapped his earpiece with one finger, “We’re out of range!”

“Not only that, but there’s hardly any towers down here so the signal’s gonna be pretty fucked up!” Alvin said.

“Too bad we didn’t think about that before we left!” Oliver said as he shook his head.

“Shhhhit! I can’t hear them either!” Alexandra said in frustration.

Losing Signal

“Than we just better hope and pray they don’t run into something in these catacombs!” Jo said.

Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C15

Chapter 15

The Big Raid

Later that afternoon, the Bennett’s, the Carpenters, the Bledsoe’s, and Popeye and his partners Alvin and Oliver all gathered in the living room. Daniel spoke up.

“Okay. I’ve got a neat little plan that will keep that sheriff and all the sheriff’s deputies busy while we go in and find Brielle, Raina, Big Bruce, and the kids,” he told them, “In fact, it’ll keep most of the locals busy and out of the way.”

“Sounds like you’re going to pull off something huge, Daniel,” Chris said.

“You’ll know when it happens. I promise you. And I’ll let you know when it’s taken care of. And it’s tomorrow night. If we’re going to bust this cult and the child trafficking ring, we’re going to have to catch them in the act and, at the same time, keep the local establishment off our ass. So, we have to create a diversion, and this one’s going to be a doozy!” Daniel told them.

The Time is Now

When Halloween night finally arrived, they all sat at the kitchen table at just after five o’clock that evening.

“Okay, we need to come up with code names for the places we have to hit,” Atticus advised, “Code for the courthouse will be ‘The Castle,’ code name for Opaque Lake and the posted area near the shore will be ‘The Coastline’, and the field you go through to get to the lake will be ‘The Elysian Fields,’ and code name for the catacombs will be ‘The Pit.’ The bluff will be ‘Sinai’ and the bottoms will be ‘The Badlands.’ And the code name for the Sheriff and his ilk will be “Bogey or Bogies.”

Daniel then moved to the living room and sat on the sofa, typing feverishly on his laptop. All the men dressed in all black, even gloves, masks, and caps, then put their earpieces with microphones intact.

“Daniel, switch over to the speaker,” Chris told him.

Daniel had three other monitors set up on the coffee table in front of him, connection to another keyboard. He set his laptop aside and pecked a few keys on the keyboard that was connection to the three monitors. On the third monitor, showed a media-player type application with a sound system.

Code Names

“Got it,” he said.

Chris began to speak.

“Testing, testing, one, two, three. Testing,” he said as his voice came through clear on the speakers and the green line on the screen began to distort as the sound came through.

“Sounds coming in clear on my end,” Atticus said as he touched his earpiece.

“Clear,” Alvin said.

“Clear,” Cindy said.

After everyone gave the all-clear, Daniel clapped both hands together one time in excitement.

“Perfect, Atticus. Malcolm, one at a time, everyone else test your mics, and if the sound comes through clear, say ‘clear,’” Daniel told them.

Each of the other men did as they were told.

“Great. All the mics are in great working order. All the sounds are coming through on the monitor and your earpieces, equipment is set!” Daniel told them, “Now, let’s check our body spy cameras, then we’ll do a weapons check. And be sure to screw in your silencers.”

Testing!

After everyone tested their body cams and ensure they were all in working order, Atticus took a magazine and put it in his old Army-issue M16A2, then took it back out and put it in a pouch on his belt. Jesse checked the chamber of his shotgun to see two new shells firmly in place he then attached his Salvo suppressor to it. Finally, he tucked a nine-millimeter pistol in his belt. Everyone checked their weapons and attached their silencers. They were all in working order.

Miles tossed a couple of grenades to Atticus. Atticus attached the grenades to two of the loops on his belt. He then checked his ammo pouch to see that it had two magazines inside. Finally, they each attached their silencers to the barrels of their guns.

“Okay, weapons a go, now let’s test our homing beacons.”

Miles looked at his phone to see that each person’s homing beacon was working perfectly.

Daniel grabbed his laptop and sat it in his lap. He then began typing as fast as he could. After fifteen minutes of typing, he stopped and looked up at Chris.

Daniel Sets up a Distraction

“Virus is in. Now, we wait,” Daniel assured, “The county-mounties and local cops will be so busy, they won’t even think about us. Even the locals will be scared shitless, but this is a gun-rich area, so I think they’ll be able to take care of themselves.”

“Whoa! What did you just do, Daniel?” Chris asked suspiciously.

About fifteen miles away, just outside of Sugar Village, a large state maximum security prison sat in the middle of a field. The guards at the first checkpoint sat, looking at the monitors when the system went down. One by one, the monitors went dark.

“What the hell?” The head guard shouted as he jumped up.

Monitors and cameras all over the prison went dark. Next, every locked door made a loud click, then opened. Then, the gates began unlocking and opening. Finally, droves of inmates began overpowering the guards and escaping their confines before running out into the fields that surrounded the prison.

Convicts on the Lose!

“Holy shit!” Shouted the second prison guard.

Back at the Carpenter estate, Daniel pulled up the Glover County Tea forum and waited. Atticus and Grandma sat in the kitchen, listening to the police scanner. Sure enough, the alert sounded.

“Calling all state, county and city personal! There has been a massive prison break at the state maximum security prison in Sugar Village! Assume all escaped inmates to be armed and dangerous! The number of escapees is believed to be in the hundreds. Please advise!” Said an older male voice over the scanner.

Suddenly, Bobby’s voice sounded over the scanner.

“This is Sheriff Bobby James Crabtree; I’ve just put every deputy in my department on alert! The reservists and those off duty have been placed on emergency duty. We will be out in full force! Alert the news medias in Memphis, Jackson, Nashville, Little Rock, and Paducah. Get all the trick-or-treaters off the streets and send out an internet bulletin instructing everyone to stay in their homes. Halloween just got cancelled!”

Halloween Emergency

Daniel perked up.

“That’s our cue! We got to move now because they’re going to be setting up checkpoints and we don’t want to get caught in the dragnet.” he announced.

” Suddenly, the lights went out, then Atticus’s generator kicked in and the lights flickered back on.”

“Daniel, was that you?” Atticus asked.

“Yep. As an added cover, I cracked into the Glover County electric company and caused a power outage,” Daniel answered.

After they took Grandma Bennett and Kim to the bunker for safety, everyone piled into two dark-colored SUV’s, Atticus’s black Denali and Popeye’s black Escalade. In Atticus’s black Denali were Atticus, Chris, Malcolm, Jesse, Daniel, Shannon, Jane, and Cindy. In Popeye’s dark blue Escalade were Popeye, Miles, Alvin, Oliver, Alexandra, and Jo.

As Chris sat in the passenger seat of Atticus’s SUV, he spoke.

Let’s Ride

“Okay everybody, you know what to do. We’ll head to the Castle and Popeye; your group will head to the Badlands and watch the Elysian Fields! You gotta get down there before they set up the western checkpoint. When you get there, find a place for cover but where you can see the lake and keep watch. Take plenty of photos and don’t move until I give the signal. In the meantime, Daniel, you need to find a way to crack and override the system that monitors the courthouse cameras and doors so we can get in.

“I’m already on it,” Daniel said as he sat in the backseat of Popeye’s SUV, laptop computer in lap, typing vigorously, “Shit, Chris this van is packed. I hardly have any elbow room.”

“We all have inconveniences, Daniel,” Chris told him.

As they drove toward town, the intro to the song, Kid Rock’s “Let’s Ride” played on Atticus’s car stereo.

“Used as a scapegoat and taped to the wall, Bruised and abused on some foreign soil,      Trained to kill baby that’s what we do,      Programmed to bleed red white and blue

C’mon and grab your guns, let’s ride,                        And may your conscience be your guide,                   I’ll say a prayer for you to make it through to the other side,                                                                          Tonight’s the night we fight or die…”

As the song continued to play, they passed businesses where people were outside standing guard with machine guns, shotguns, or rifles held against their chests. They also passed private homes and properties with large men sitting in their yards, armed to the teeth with their weapons. They even spied a silver-haired grandmother sitting on her porch, in a rocking chair, with a shotgun laid across her lap, sipping on a large mug of coffee. A large golden retriever sat on the porch beside her. A pickup truck with a bed full of heavily armed farmers sat off in between rows of bushes.

Armed Citizens

“Boy, these people aren’t playin’!” Jane said, viewing all the armed citizens as they drove.

“Hundreds of escaped convicts on the loose? I wouldn’t be either,” said Jesse, “If I know my wife, she’s probably sitting on the living room sofa holding our shotgun and got my kids hiding in the closets upstairs.”

“I sure don’t blame any of them,” Chris added.

“I probably won’t have a job after tonight,” Malcolm mentioned, “My Lieutenant’s been trying to call me ever since the prison break.”

“You’ve had the last two days off. When you talk to them, just tell them you went to Alabama to see your family and couldn’t get back in time,” Atticus advised, “A story like that should stick like superglue.”

Shannon looked skyward through the windshield.

“There’s a full moon tonight. So, we still need to be careful,” she said.

Atticus kept a police scanner in his vehicle as well. A split second of static sounded, then Bobby’s voice as Chris quickly turned the stereo off.

Bobby’s Arrogance Makes Him Stupid

“We’re setting up checkpoints north, south, and east. We won’t worry about a western checkpoint because the cons will be trying to get out of the state. They know that if they go west, they’ll only run into the river and they won’t make it to Arkansas if they swim across it,” he announced.

Atticus chortled and looked at Chris in amazement.

“Can you believe this moron?” he said.

“For real!” Jesse agreed, “That’s one stupid motherfucker! Because if I was a convict, the bottoms is exactly where I’d be, least likely to be seen!”

“At least we know Popeye and his bunch have a much better chance of getting to the bottoms without running into any checkpoints. So, it bodes well for us,” Chris said.

When Chris pulled onto the town square, about a block away from the old courthouse, everything was deserted and looked like a ghost town. He pulled to a stop in a dark alley across the street from the courthouse.

Preparations 

“Hey, Daniel, what’s the status on that override?” Chris asked.

“I’m uploading the virus now,” Daniel said, “I’ll let you know when it’s uploaded and does its thing.”

“Well, we don’t have a lot of time,” Chris told him.

“Chris, I can’t make this upload go any faster.”

In Popeye’s SUV, Miles spoke.

“Daniel is uploading the virus. It’s taking a minute though,” he said in a low voice.

“Yeah, we heard him,” Oliver said.

As soon as the upload was complete, Daniel sounded over all the group’s earpieces.

“Okay, guys! It’s showtime!” he announced.

Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C14-4

Ashton unlocked the set of steel double-doors and opened them. Brielle was led into what looked to be an underground cellblock. She looked into each cell as she passed. Suddenly, Big Bruce McCauley, who was imprisoned in one of the cells, jumped up from his raggedy bunk and ran to the bars, gripping them.

“Brielle! Oh, my God, Brielle! Have you seen Little Bruce!” He cried.

“Mr. McCauley!” Brielle cried out.

Suddenly, Ashton drew his nightstick back and smashed Big Bruce in the face through the bars.

“Shut the fuck up!”

Big Bruce let out a loud grunt as he fell backwards.

“Nooo!” Brielle screamed before Ashton came running out and backhanded Brielle across the face so hard, it nearly spun her head.

Another Prisoner in the Underground Dungeon

Out of reflex, Brielle delivered a fast front kick to Ashton’s crotch, causing him to scream in pain, grab his manly area, and fall over sideways. Misty then shoved Brielle to the ground from behind and Bobby came across Brielle’s back with his nightstick. He continued to hit her until she passed out. With that, Bobby and Misty grabbed each of Brielle’s arms and drug her limp body into the cell before slamming the door and locking it.

Later that morning, at Atticus’ house, Grandma Bennett was the first to wake up at after nine, which was late compared to her usual wake up time, which was at about five a.m. She filled the coffee maker with water and ground coffee, than pressed the brew button. The house was full of people. With Shannon and Chris in one upstairs bedroom, Miles and Cindy in the other, Daniel and Jesse in the third upstairs bedroom, and Alexandra and Jo in the other. Grandma Bennett had slept in the sofa’s hide-a-bed and Popeye, Alvin and Oliver had gone home for the night.

Grandma Bennett the first to awaken

When Grandma heard a knock at the door, she looked through the peep hole to see Popeye, then opened the door to let him, Alvin, and Oliver in.

“Most everyone is still asleep. They should be waking up anytime. I’ve got coffee brewing. Do you want me to fix you each a cup?” Grandma asked.

“Oh, yes! I need something to warm me up!” Alvin answered.

“Absolutely you can,” Popeye said.

“I sure ain’t gonna turn down no coffee!” Oliver said before Grandma and the other two chuckled.

One by one, others in the house awoke and came downstairs one by one. Grandma Bennett cooked a huge breakfast and they all sat down to eat.

Underground, Brielle woke on the floor, she sat up. She looked around to see another woman in the bed, stirring. The woman looked injured. Brielle crawled over to her and immediately recognized her.

Raina is Brielle’s Cellmate

“Raina?” She cried.

Raina opened her eyes and looked over at Brielle.

“Brielle?” she woozily uttered.

“Don’t talk, Raina. Just rest, okay?”

“Brielle, how did you get down here?”

“Those crooked cops brought me here.”

“How’s Paul and the kids? How’s Kim?”

“They’re fine, Raina. But they’re so worried about you, sweetie. But I’m doing to do my damnedest to get us both out of here and find those kids! You can take that to the bank!” Brielle swore.

Brielle tore off the sleave of her shirt and cared for Raina’s scrapes, bruises, and abrasions about her face. She then looked down and notice a huge blood spot on Raina’s crotch area.

“Oh, God. The baby!” She said under her breath.

Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C14-3

Back at the Carpenter estate, Atticus, Grandma Bennett, and the rest gathered in the living room after Jane cried herself to sleep.

“We’ve got to find Brielle!” Grandma said in an urgent tone.

“What if they’ve found her first?” Kim asked.

“We’ll check the jail first thing,” Chris suggested, “If she’s not there, then we’ll know.”

“Maybe not. Those tunnels that Jane was talking about, what if they took her there?” Shannon asked.

“Well, at least we know where to start from- the courthouse basement. We follow the underground highway to where it ends- at the foot of the bluff, in the bottoms. Now Jane said that they were near the shore of a huge Lake,” Chris said.

“Opaque Lake. It’s got to be,” Grandma Bennett said.

The Secret of Opaque Lake

“Yep,” Atticus agreed, “That place is posted- deemed private property. ‘Has been for about thirty years. Now that you mention it, there have been rumors that there’s a Luciferian cult down there and that’s why they’ve blocked it off. The place is heavily secured. Outsiders are strictly forbidden to trespass there.”

“Atticus is telling the truth,” Popeye confirmed.

“Then that’s got to be the place,” Daniel concluded.

“And this underground road is the only way you can get there?” Miles asked.

“Nope. There’s another way. Take County Route 16 West, toward the river. Go down the bluff to the bottoms, then drive about three to four miles and you’ll see the Lake off to your right. You’ll look across a clearing then see trees and little glimpses of the lake beyond them. There will be a gravel road that will take you to the shore of the lake and there will be lake houses high on stilts there because it’s a very flood-prone area. But, like Atticus said, the place is off limits to outsiders,” Shannon told them.

Private Property 

Suddenly, Alexandra and Jo came through the back door.

“Whew!” she said as she took off her hoodie to reveal a white tee shirt.

Everyone turned around to see her.

“Well, Alex? Did you and Jo hear anything?” Chris asked.

“Oh, we heard a lot. But not a peep about where the kids are. But I did see a couple of deputies in one of the restaurants I sat in. One of them got a call and when he hung up, I heard him say, ‘They got her! They finally found the bitch,’” Alex informed them.

“My gut tells me they were referring to Brielle,” Jo added.

“Oh, they had to have been talking about Brielle!” Kim said.

“So, how are we going to get inside the jail to see if she’s there?” Shannon asked.

Another Plan

“I’ll go there,” Popeye volunteered, “I have several cousins and friends that have been in and out of there. In fact, a cousin of mine was just released the day before yesterday. And most of the jailers are young rookies and they know me, so they trust me. I can take a change of clothes, some food, something in there and make them think I’m there to deliver it to a relative of mine. They usually have a list of inmate names on a huge whiteboard on the wall just behind the desk where you leave stuff for the inmates- one list for males and the second for females. They have you wait there while they check your stuff for contraband. And, even if he’s not there, I’ll still have time to see if Brielle’s name is on the inmate list.”

“That doesn’t sound like the jail I spent time in six years ago when I was here,” Shannon recalled.

“They’ve revamped everything in the county jail since you were there, Shannon.” Grandma Bennett said, “After Johnny went to prison, Sheriff Crawford did an overhaul of the jail inside the sheriff’s department. He fired most of the jailers there and replaced them with new blood. Yeah, Bobby’s got it now, but it still isn’t quite as bad as it was when Johnny had it.”

Shannon Remembers her Stint in Jail

“Awesome! Popeye, you and I go to the jail. I’ll wait in the car while you go inside and do your thing,” Chris said.

Grandma Bennett brought a big basket of freshly baked blueberry muffins to Popeye.

“Take this. I brought these from home when I got here. They were for everyone to eat here. But they’re the perfect food to take to the jail and will be the perfect cover,” she said.

“It’s awful late. You can’t go there this time of night. Hell, it’s after midnight!” Atticus told them.

“There’s people dropping stuff off at that jail at all hours,” Popeye said.

“Even after midnight?” Miles asked, barely able to believe it.

“It’s a small Podunk town and a small, Podunk jail! It’s not like the big city. Some things, they let fly around here,” Popeye replied.

“Oooo-kay,” Chris said, “’You ready to boogie?”

“Let’s boogie,” Popeye answered.

Getting the Information 

Two hours later, Chris and Popeye returned. Popeye handed the basket of muffins back to Grandma Bennett. Jane had awoken, hardly able to sleep.

“Is she there?” Grandma asked.

“Nope. Her name wasn’t on the inmate list,” Chris answered solemnly.

“Believe me, I looked that list up, down, and sideways. Her name wasn’t there,” Popeye swore.

“Then where could they have taken her?” Kim asked, worried.

“Do you think that maybe they might have taken her through the underground tunnels too?” Cindy asked.

“It’s likely,” Chris said.

“I just thought of something, y’all.” Popeye said, “Halloween’s tomorrow night.”

“Yep, the cult will be doing their annual Halloween Rituals. We’ve got to find Brielle and Raina, and we’ve got to find those kids!” Kim said.

“Well, let’s get some sleep. After we wake up, we formulate a strategy. After dark tonight, we do some snooping. Maybe they can send more people to help us out. Then at five tomorrow night, we move out,” Chris said.

Daniel’s Government Connections

“In the meantime, I’ll see if I can’t contact a few politicians and old CIA buddies, a few of the good ones left who I know are fighting against child trafficking. This is a pretty big job, Chris. We still don’t know how many local big shots are involved in this and they may have connections to even bigger people.” Daniel added.

“That might not be a bad idea,” Atticus agreed.

“Jane! Come here for a sec!” Chris called.

“Yes?” Jane responded as she approached.

“Do you remember the route the sheriff took to get to the dungeon where you and the rest of the kids were held?”

Jane Describes the Layout of the Secret Tunnels

“We took the underground access road. There were tunnels but they loaded us all into a van and took us to an exit via the access road. We didn’t take any of the tunnels,” Jane told them. The access road only took us to a set of double doors. When the doors opened, we were outside and the area around us was flat. I look back and we’d come out of a huge bluff from what I could tell and the doors were covered with trees and bushes. The untrained eye wouldn’t even know those doors were there. We pulled onto a dirt road, drove about, I’d say 50 yards, then turned until a two-lane highway. I remember passing a highway sign with a shield and a number 16 on it. We crossed a bunch of bridges over creeks and streams, then came to a field and pulled onto a gravel road. I noticed that the field had a bunch of hey bails in it. And there was a pile of hey on that gravel road. The front of the van we were in was pointed toward the lake. One of the deputies got out and cleared the hey off the road. He uncovered some sort of platform. After he cleared the hey, we pulled onto the platform and stopped. That’s when we were lowered underground to another access road. Once we got going again, I noticed that we were driving downward, like going down a steep hill. I could feel the gravity pull. And we didn’t make any turns nor go around any sharp curves, so I think we were actually driving under the floor of the lake,” Jane explained, “It was somewhat lit down there until we got to the dungeon. The dungeon was dimly lit with torches and hanging dim bulbs, and it gave me the creeps!”

Bobby and Misty Take Brielle Down into the Catacombs

Brielle sat in the van as Bobby, Ashton, and Misty drove her through the tunnels. She looked outside the window at the eerily lit tunnel. Her stomach lurched and felt as if it would drop through the floorboard. Where exactly were they taking her? She remembered being escorted into the courthouse and down into its basement. She then recalled being forcibly led through a trapdoor in the courthouse basement floor and down into this dim, dank place. And during the entire time Brielle had grown up in this town, she had never heard any mention of any catacombs or tunnels underneath Thomasville until she finally saw it for herself just minutes before.

Brielle did not have a good feeling about this little trip. She feared the worst. They would kill her, and nobody would ever find her.

Finally, Misty turned around and ended the eerie silence.

“You wouldn’t happen to know where Jane ran off to, would you, Brielle?” she asked.

“If you do, you’d better speak up!” Bobby demanded loudly.

Brielle Gets Welcome News

“No! I don’t! That’s the gospel truth! But if I did, I’d never in this lifetime tell you! Sounds like she got away if you’re looking for her! And you know what? I’m damn glad she did! I always knew my baby had a good head on her shoulders and could take care of herself! And I’m damn proud of her!” Brielle shot back as tears flooded her eyes.

“Well, she may have escaped, but that doesn’t do you any good. Because now, we got you. But we will find that child. Don’t think we won’t find your sweet Jane.” Bobby growled, “Hell, we’ve already got Olivia and that sweet little baby Kennedy! So, we’re hoping Jane comes looking for you. And we think she will. She may not be much but she’s a headstrong little firecracker. Willful as hell! And it will be her undoing. You see, Brielle. Willfulness and so-called independence are dangerous characteristics to have when you live in this county. Here, it’s in your best interest to go along- just roll over and play dead. And I don’t know what you taught that child nor how you raised her, but you may have unwittingly facilitated her demise. And we already know you’ve been a troublemaker since you were knee high to a grasshopper!”

Brielle Continues to Stand Up to her Captors

“Better than being a Devil worshipper and living in an open marriage!” Brielle quipped.

Misty flinched before spinning around to look back at Brielle.

“Really! So, you think I’m a Devil worshipper, huh? And you would know about my open marriage, wouldn’t you, you little slut, who’s screwing my husband!” Misty shot back.

“Hey! Newsflash, Misty! Not every female in this town wants your ugly-assed husband! He isn’t all you hype him up to be! Of course, with the way you and all your buddies twisted minds work, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if every one of you were devil worshippers. And Devil worship is the worst thing you can do!” Brielle fired back.

“Hey, sweetheart! In case you’ve forgotten, sin is a sin to God! It doesn’t matter what it is! No sin is worse than another to Him! But everyone has their pet sins, now don’t they! And now, we know what your pet sin is!” Misty fired off.

“You’re absolutely right! And your pet sins are worshipping the devil and killing innocent people and animals!” Brielle jibbed.

“No one is innocent, honey! We’re all born in sin and shaped in iniquity.”

Even the Devil Believes in God 

“Oh, that’s right! I almost forgot! Even the Devil believes in God and knows the Scriptures! Gee! Thanks for the reminder, Misty!”

When they finally got Brielle to the entrance of the holding cells, Bobby took her by the arm and violently pulled her out of the van. Next, Misty and Ashton got out.

Misty got nose to nose with Brielle, sneering at her.

“You’ve been away from Thomasville for way too long, girl. ‘Move off to California, then come back here with an uppity attitude and an overinflated opinion of yourself! But you know what? I’m going to enjoy killing you and your little spawn!” Misty growled.

“That doesn’t surprise me in the least! You’re sadistic! You’re evil! You always had been, you just grew bigger.” Brielle bit back.

“Oh-ho-ho-ho!” Misty sarcastically laughed, “It’s gonna give me great pleasure to silence that smart mouth of yours once and for all! You should’ve stayed your ass in California! Because, to come back to Thomasville with that smug, overconfident attitude was your worst mistake! And it’ll damn sure be your last!”

Bobby looked at both Misty and Ashton and grinned.

“She’s definitely gotten smarter over the years; I’ll give her that.” He said sarcastically. Ashton was unmoved. Bobby turned back to Brielle.

Uppity Brielle

“You know, Brielle? You’re in no position to be so brainy. You’re in a lot of danger.”

Brielle looked at Bobby with contempt.

“Around you? No shit,” she quipped.

Bobby looked at Aston again.

“Let’s dumb her down a little- teach her some respect.”

Brielle ignored the threat.

“Where are my kids, I know you three have got them somewhere and you know where they are,” Brielle asked in a defiant tone.

“Oh, don’t worry, Brielle. They’ll be well taken care of. Especially sweet Jane when we find her.”

Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C14-2

Back at the Lindsay residence, Brielle was now tied to a chair in their basement. Bound and gagged, the only thing she could do to fight back was to fight with her eyes. She looked up at Bobby and Misty with eyes that blazed with justified anger.

Sheriff Bobby reached down and tore the duct tape gag off Brielle’s mouth. The pain was such that Brielle thought for sure that he’d ripped her lips off along with the gag.

“Ow! You sadistic sonofabitch!” Brielle shouted, flinching in her chair. The binding zipties were taut around her wrists, preventing her from grabbing her mouth out of reflex.

Sheriff Bobby looked down at Brielle and sneered.

“I just want to let you know that there’ll be some charges coming.” He warned her.

“What kind of charges?” Brielle asked.

“Escape from legal custody is one of them. The rest, I don’t know yet.” Bobby answered.

Misty’s Revelation

“What do you mean you don’t know? What are you going to do, go back to your office and trump them up? Look, you either know what charges you’re going to file or there are no charges. You make me aware that I’ll be charged but don’t know all of what I’ll be changed with? Well, then the law must not exist. How much sense does that make?”

Just then, Misty knelt in front of Brielle, getting level with her. She then grabbed a hold of Brielle’s chin and jaws with one hand, squeezing the lower part of her face so hard that the grip contorted Brielle’s lips and forcing Brielle to look at her.

Years of Stalking and Spying

“I want to let you in on a little secret, Brielle. Something you never thought was happening all those years you were away in sunny California,” she sneered, “We’ve had our eyes on you all this time- all these years. Oh, yeah, even after you moved, we found out where you’d moved to, and we kept track of you. ‘You see, we believe in the old saying, ‘keep your friends close but your enemies closer.’ And, for the last 20 years, we’ve kept your ass reeeeal close, sweetheart. We knew when you got married, we knew when you had each of your kids, we know that you got your online college degree shortly before you separated from your husband. We also know where you got it from. Oh yeah, we knew all of it. Because, you see? Births? Marriages? Deaths? Graduations? All that’s public record, darlin’, and damn easy to…um…dig up. Hell, it was easy to find back when we graduated, only it’s gotten a lot easier to do since.” Misty sneered before letting go of Brielle’s face with a hard shove that threw her head backwards.

Brielle glared evilly at Misty.

Misty Unknowingly Reveals Much About Herself and the Thomasville Elites.

“So, you’ve spent all this time being so obsessed with me and what I was doing? How sick is that, Misty? Did you ever have a life?” Brielle said with sarcasm dripping from ever word.

“It’s not about having a life, Brielle. It’s about power. You see, Brielle, our god is the prince of the air. And he is not your god.”

“(Scoff) I’ll say! And I’m glad!” Brielle shot back.

Misty continued.

“Well, you shouldn’t be. ‘You see? Your God is a God of love. Of peace. Of mercy. But our god, he’s a god of power! Pure, raw power! Your God gives free will and freedom to choose. Our god is a god that demands and expects total obedience and absolute loyalty! He shows no mercy because mercy is for the weak and timid.”

“Then you underestimate the True Living God, Misty! You don’t know Him at all! And in return, He…doesn’t…know…you! And I sincerely hope you change your ways before it’s too late!” Brielle growled back.

Misty’s Satanic Connections

“I don’t think so, Brielle. Our god is a god of blood and sacrifice. And soon you will witness the full power of his might and the pain of his wrath against you and your spawn, sweetheart. And you will witness it through us!”

“You know, Misty! I don’t doubt that you serve the devil! And I’m certainly not surprised, because you are the devil- in human form,” Brielle said in a low, gravelly, and taunting voice.

Misty sneered at Brielle.

“You know what we’re going to do to you eventually, don’t you, Brielle?” she said plainly

“I have pretty good idea. But you won’t get away with it,” Brielle told her.

Misty’s Veiled Threat

“Oh, we won’t do it right away.  ‘You see, Brielle? We can’t just kill you right off the bat. No. That would be too obvious and would cause more trouble for us in the long run. So, we laid the groundwork years ago. We had to get rid of your support system first- make everybody hate your guts. We had to make you trash in the eyes of everyone else in this town. You see? Killing must be done delicately- carefully- slowly. It must be done subtly and step by step. There are channels you must go through- little bitty steps you have to take- gradually and in itty-bitty bites! You have to make it a slow kill. ‘You see? It’s like this. To prepare a good roast, you have to bake it on lower temperatures and get that slow burn. That’s what this is and has been. And now that you’ve lost everything and everyone- now, we can kill you and your sweet little daughters because nobody will give a damn. Therefore, they won’t care to even look for you because they won’t care less what happened to you. They’ll just be so glad you’re gone. So, why would they even investigate it? You’re just another missing person= another needle in a stack of needles!”

The Sinless

Misty got eye to eye with Brielle.

“In this county, we don’t have to follow any rules because we’re sinless! In other words, the rules don’t apply to us because we can do no wrong. Therefore, we’re untouchable. That’s why no one fucks with us! They knew better than to fuck with us in high school and they damn sure don’t fuck with us now! You see, Brielle? There are certain people in this town- in this county- that you just don’t fuck with! Certain people here can do whatever they want to you and anybody! And what are you going to do about it? Nothing! Not a damn thing! The only thing you’re going to do is keep your mouth shut and take it or we make it worse on you! And not only will we come for you, but we’ll also come for your family! We’ll come for your kids, your spouse, your parents, your whole fucking family!”

Bobby Gets a Call

“Oh, no! I haven’t lost everyone, dear heart. And speaking of my kids, where are they, Misty? I know they were brought here. But it’s awful quiet in this house so I can only assume that they’ve been taken somewhere else,” Brielle said in a stern voice.

“Let’s just say that they were taken to a very secret and secure location,” Misty said with a smirk on her face.

Suddenly, Sheriff Bobby’s cellphone rang, and he removed it from his beltloop case. He then looked at Brielle, shook his head, and put his index finger to his lips before answering.

“Hello?”

Suddenly, Bobby’s eyes widened, and all the color seemed to drain from his face.

What!!! Okay! You hang out at the office until I get there! I’ve got some personal business to take care of, but I’ll be at the office as soon as I can get there!” he shouted before he hung up.

He then gave Misty a serious look.

“We’ve got big problems!” he told her, “Let’s haul this bitch on to jail!”

Suspicious Detour

Misty and Bobby untied Brielle from the chair but left her hands tied in the zip ties. They pulled her to a standing position, then took her upstairs, out of the basement.

Minutes later, Brielle sat zip tied in the back of the sheriff’s car as Bobby drove and Misty sat in the passenger seat.

“Ashton and Aaron will meet me at the station. You stay with Brielle,” The sheriff said.

Brielle cocked her head.

“What’s the hell?”

Suddenly, she noticed that they drove right passed the jail.

“Hey! I thought you were taking me to jail!” Brielle shouted from the back seat.

“Nah! We’re taking you to a special kind of jail. One where there are no visitors and that hardly no one knows about,” Bobby said giddily.

Misty only giggled maniacally.

Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C14

Chapter 14

Another Secret Revealed

Grandma Bennett held Jane in her arms. She then let go. Atticus put his arm around Jane and led her over to the sofa.

“Have a seat, sweetie. And we need you to tell us everything. Okay?” Atticus gently told her.

Jane looked at Kim, then at Popeye.

“I know where they’re holding Olivia and Bruce, and the rest! And maybe Kennedy!” she cried, “And they’ve got Kelsey McGregor too! I saw her! I met her! She talked to me and told me who she was!”

Shannon gasped and rushed over to Jane before taking her by the shoulders.

“Is Kelsey, okay? Oh, please tell me they didn’t hurt her!” she pleaded as tears flooded her eyes.

Shannon Receives Welcome News

“I don’t know. I think she’s okay. She didn’t seem like she was hurt. She was just scared to death,” Jane anxiously told her. As Jane spoke, she shook like a leaf.

Chris knelt in front of her.

“Jane, this is Shannon Crooke McGregor- now Bledsoe.” Chris said.

“Oh, my God! The writer?” Jane asked, shocked.

Daniel and Miles knelt beside Chris. Chris placed his hand over Jane’s.

“Yes. I’m Chris Bledsoe and these are my brothers, Miles, and Daniel. This lady over here is Mile’s wife, Cindy. Now, listen, Jane. Do you know where these kids are and how we can get to them?”

Atticus, Popeye, and Malcolm knelt down as did Kim, getting level with Jane. Grandma Bennett sat on one side of Jane and Jesse, the other. Cindy sat on the arm of the sofa.

Jane looked at each of them.

Jane Speaks of Abuse at the Hands of the Lindsay’s

“After court, they put us in a holding cell. I didn’t know where they took Bruce and the rest. But aftervthe holding cell, they took me and my sisters to the Lindsay’s house. They were to be our foster family. They made me and Olivia do all the household chores- cooking, cleaning, mopping, sweeping, all the laundry. They even made us wash all the windows and scrub the baseboards with old toothbrushes. They worked the hell out of us- like slaves! We had to go without supper because Olivia accidently spilled bleach all over their clothes! She was so nervous she was shaking! She shook so bad she kept dropping and spilling stuff! Oh, God! They were horrible people! And Breanna and their other kid- their son, Mason is his name, I think!”

As Jane continued, she began to calm down.

More Secrets of Abuse

“They never missed a chance to needle and poke at Olivia and me. This past week has been hell living there! Then the other night, I was doing laundry and Mr. Grant Lindsay snuck up behind me and grabbed me. He put his hand over my mouth and started to fondle me. That’s when I used my training and fought him off! Then I grabbed Kennedy and me and Olivia got out of there. I ran deeper and deeper into the woods, and oh God! It was cold! I’d been in the woods for a while and ran into Bruce- he had escaped from the Crabtree’s. Me and my sisters stuck with him until the sheriff found us. They then took us to the courthouse, where more deputies had gathered with Andy, Brenda, and Roxie. They took us down to the basement, then through a trapdoor in the floor. I couldn’t believe it! They took us to some kind of underground room with tunnels everywhere! There are underground tunnels under the courthouse- under Thomasville, period!” Jane informed them.

“Underground tunnels?” Grandma Bennett cried.

The Number One Town Secret Revealed

“Yes!” Jane cried, “There’s also an underground road. They led us into one of the tunnels to the underground road. Then, they loaded us all into vans and drove until we came out of some kind of cave in the side of a huge bluff. It was dark, but I could tell that we were in the bottoms. Next, we were near a huge lake. The vans pulled on a steel platform in the ground. It was some kind of elevator. We were lowered underground again, and they drove us through another tunnel. I think it’s under the lake. When they stopped again, we were all put in underground jail cells. Then, the sheriff took me back out of my cell. He told me that someone wanted to ‘make my acquaintance.’ They drove me to a hotel just outside of town and the sheriff took me inside. I could hear someone showering in the bathroom. When the water was turned off and the door opened, there was Grant Lindsay…in a bathrobe! Dripping wet! I thought I was going to puke- the creepy way he looked at me! I thought my skin would crawl right off my bones! Then the sheriff pulled out his gun and aimed it at me while Grant Lindsay forcibly stripped me down to my underwear. Finally, the sheriff left us alone. That’s when I saw my chance to get out of the situation that I was in. So, I put that creep in a sleeper hold and he went out like a light. Then I went into the bathroom, jumped into my clothes, and crawled out the window! I got the hell out of there!”

The Bennetts and Bledsoes Learn about the Secret Tunnels

“Way to go, Jane!” Cindy cheered.

“You did so good, honey!” Grandma Bennett gushed.

“Such a brave girl!” Atticus shouted with pride.

“That was badass!” Popeye told her.

“Maybe that’s where they took Elizabeth when they had her,” Elsa said somberly.

Just then, Jane looked around suspiciously, then looked back at the people before her.

“Guys? Where’s my mom?” she asked.

Everyone exchanged uncomfortable glances and Jane noticed it right away.

“Okay! What happened to my mom?” She asked, her voice shaking.

“Your Mom is out trying to find you and your sisters. She left without us even knowing, Jane,” Daniel told her.

“What??? You mean she’s out there somewhere? She’s going to get nabbed by that creepy sheriff?” Jane cried.

Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C13-6

Bobby soon arrived at the Lindsay home. He entered into the house to see Brielle sitting on the sofa, with Misty standing over her as was Ashton, with his gun trained on her.

“Well, where have you been, Brielle? We’ve been looking everywhere for you, sweetheart,” he said as he drew back and backhanded Brielle across the face, causing her to fall over on the sofa sideways.

Brielle shot back up with blood dripping from her lip and gave Bobby a look of utter hatred.

“Oooh, I guarantee you wouldn’t have had the balls to do that if this creep over here didn’t have a gun aimed at me, now would you, Bobby?” Brielle growled.

“Maybe not, but as it stands, you’re shit out of luck.” Misty said before she threw her hand back and began laughing maniacally.

Bobby Attempts to Violate Brielle

Bobby looked down at Brielle, smiling evilly as Misty stood behind him, laughing like a hyena. As he stood threateningly over her, Bobby slowly unbuttoned his pants, then unzipped.

“Alright, you little strip-whore! I’m undoing my fly and you’re gonna take what I’m about to give you! And you’re gonna take all of it, girl! Then, for dessert, I’m going to pound you like you’ve never been pounded before!” He said with a mixture of glee and contempt.

Brielle only looked up at Sheriff Bobby defiantly.

“Anything you put in my mouth, you’re gonna lose!” She growled, gritting her teeth, “Go ahead! I’ll bite it off and spit it out!”

“I’ll kill you if you do!” the crooked sheriff warned.

“You may kill me, but you won’t grow another dick, you son of a bitch! And when I bite it off, I’ll chew it up before I spit it out! I’ll make Lorena Bobbitt look like a softie! You’ll be a eunuch by the time I’m done with you!” Brielle bit, gritting her teeth.

Brielle’s Threat

“Well, I’ll just skip that part then and move on to the next level,”

“You’ll be raping my dead body, you douche nozzle!”

Ashton burst out laughing. Bobby paused and slowly turned his head, looking at Ashton as an angry look crept across his face.

“Shut the fuck up!” He yelled.

Ashton clammed up.

“Don’t you ever laugh at me, boy! Especially on the count of this bitch!”

“I’m sorry, Bobby!” Ashton said sheepishly.

“Goddam right, you’re sorry!”

Bobby then looked at Misty.

“Misty, take my zip ties. Tie her up and gag her! I don’t want to hear anymore of her smart-assed mouth!” he growled.

Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C13-5

When the men arrived back at Atticus’s estate, they came in the door.

Shannon jumped up and hugged Chris.

“Oh, I’m so glad you’re back safe!” She gushed.

“We found something!” Chris told her, “Jane was in the hotel room. But she escaped!”

“Oh, thank God!” Grandma said as she looked up and clasped her hands together.

Chris and the rest noticed that another elderly woman sat beside Grandma Bennett. Grandma stood up. The strange elderly woman followed suit.

“Chris, this is Elsa, she’s Elizabeth’s grandmother and she has something for you,” Grandma told them.

Elsa reached into her oversized purse and pulled out a book with a lock on it.

“My granddaughter’s diary. If it’ll help you find the creeps that had their way with her, you can have it! But please, keep it safe! Lot’s of people are looking for it because it implicates so many big wheels in what happened to her while she was in CPS custody and the foster program,” Elsa pleaded with tears in her eyes, “I want you to avenge my granddaughter! Please, avenge her! Avenge her!”

The Diary

Grandma Bennett put her arms around Elsa.

“Come on, let’s go upstairs and I’ll introduce you to my granddaughter, Brielle,” she told her. And she led Elsa up to the second floor of the house.

Chris passed the diary to Daniel and Daniel opened it and began reading and taking pictures of each page with his phone. Suddenly, Grandma Bennett rushed back downstairs with a piece of paper in her hands.

“Brielle’s gone. She’s gone looking for the girls!” Grandma said as she burst into tears and waved the piece of paper..

Daniel paused from what he was doing.

“What!!!” Chris, Popeye, Miles, Atticus, Jesse, and Malcolm all cried aloud.

Alvin went over and looked over Grandma Bennett’s shoulder at the note.

“She just slipped out!” he told them.

“She left a note! It’s all right here!” Grandma Bennett sobbed.

The Note

Chris took the note from Grandma Bennett and he and Shannon read it. It said,

“To my family, friends, and especially the Bledsoe’s, This may not be the smart thing to do, but I’m terrified! I just can’t sit on my hands while my children are God knows where. I must find them, and soon. I love you all. Please forgive me.

Brielle”

“Damn it!” Chris shouted as he threw a punch in the air, “Stupid, stupid, stupid!”

“Jiminy Christmas!” Jesse yelled. He then grabbed his head with both hands and run his hands back over his hair, pressing it down against his scalp. He then began pacing the floor.

Popeye just shook his head, plopped down on Atticus’s sofa, and put his face in his hands.

“Oh, Lord! What do we do now?” Kim cried.

Meanwhile, Brielle crept across the roof of the office building of the Glover County Child Protection Services until she found a trapdoor in the roof. When she twisted the knob and pulled on it, she was surprised when it opened to reveal a flight of stairs.

A Change in Plan

Quickly but carefully, Brielle climbed into the trapdoor, took a few steps down, closed the door behind her.  She then pulled a small, tactical flashlight and proceeded to creep down the stairs until she found herself in a hallway.  After passing through another door, she finally began making her way around the dark office.

Brielle walked slowly, passing a row of cubicles, then another row. When she came to the last cubicle nearest the director’s office, she sat down behind the desk and noticed a key card lying on top of it. She grabbed it and put it in the fanny pack she wore. She then grabbed a stack of papers out of the four-tier paper letter organizer and began sifting through them. When she was done sifting, she began reading by the light of her flashlight.

Sure enough, she came to a page with two column of lists, the first column was a list of children whose names were in the system. The second column was a list of the foster homes each child had been placed in.

Brielle Does Her Own Investigation 

The list of children was in alphabetical order and Brielle went down the list to the M section. There, she found the names of her girls and Bruce’s name. She then ran her finger across the page to the list of foster homes and bingo! She found where her children had been taken.

“Markowitz, Jane Elizabeth,”

Markowitz, Kennedy Cecelia”

Markowitz, Olivia Dominique”

And in the column beside their names was, “Grant and Misty Lindsay, 431 Marianne Cove, Thomasville, TN.”

Brielle jumped up, folded the paper and tucked it into the outside pocket of her fanny pack. She then turned around and started back toward the stairway.

An hour later, Brielle arrived at Grant’s and Misty’s address. It was just after one in the morning as she crept across the lawn to the side of the house.

Suddenly she heard the cocking of a gun next to the side of her head and stopped suddenly. Ashton Childers smiled devilishly as he aimed the gun right at her head.

“Well! Fancy seeing you here. We’ve been looking all over for you,” he taunted as he took her by the arm, “Let’s go.”

Recaptured 

Ashton took Brielle around to the front porch of the house. Holding her at gunpoint, he rang the doorbell before Misty answered the door.

“Greetings, Misty! Look who I found snooping around your house,” he told her, “Mind if we come in?”

“Not at all,” Misty said, eyeing Brielle with the most contemptuous of glares.

Ashton gave Brielle a hard shove, forcing her into the house. Misty closed the door.

Ashton took his gun-free hand drug her over to the living room sofa.

“Sit down!” He barked as he violently slung her down on the sofa.

Brielle only sat there, glaring at Misty, then back at Ashton.

Misty took her cell phone, pressed a button, and placed it to her ear. After about a five-second pause, she spoke.

“Bobby! You need to get over here right away! I have someone here you’re going to be happy to see!” she said before hanging up.

Back at Atticus’s estate, a state of panic had engulfed most of the occupants upon finding Brielle’s letter. Shannon spoke up.

Shannon’s Empathy for Brielle

“Now, look, everybody! You can’t blame Brielle! I would’ve done the same thing in this situation!” she scolded, “I know firsthand the terror she feels for her kids! Six years ago, I was right where she is now! And, at that time, we didn’t know there was any cult or human trafficking operation here. And the fact that there is only makes things a hell of a lot scarier for her! What I dealt with is nothing compared to what Brielle’s dealing with! I can’t even imagine the level of terror she’s feeling right now!”

“Well, what if the sheriff or his posse finds her before she finds the kids, Shannon?” Chris asked anxiously, “If they find her, they’re likely to kill her!”

“We know that Chris,” Cindy said.

Unexpected Arrival

“No, I don’t think any of you realize the severity of it!” Chris shot back, “These people- they’re Satanists, and human traffickers- mainly child traffickers, we’re dealing with! And like Daniel mentioned earlier, it’s big business and a lot of big wheels are either in on it, or they’re on the take! By exposing this shit and trying to get Brielle’s kids back, we’re screwing with their money machine- their very livelihoods! And if they find out about it, which they may eventually, they will kill Brielle and very single one of us! You think the Vita-Youth ordeal was bad? That’s tiddlywinks compared to this! We have got to lay low and go about this very carefully and very strategically, or it will all blow up in our faces!”

Grandma Bennett continued crying.

Suddenly, someone rushed through the backdoor! Everyone in the house jumped, spun around, and aimed their guns.

Jane screamed as she put her hands up.

“It’s me! It’s only me!” she shrieked.

“Jane!” Grandma Bennett and Kim cried as everyone lowered their guns. They ran over to her. Grandma Bennett and Kim hugged her tight and cried.