ZZZ (The Triple Zed Project); Our Amplified Earth, Episode 3

By Inejiro Koizumi

Sci-Fi, Thriller, Crime & mystery

Paperback, eBook

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394
3 mins

 

Lloyd parked with the engine running and dashed inside, feeling his legs react like he was a young man again. Once inside, he passed a mirror and paused to do what he was accustomed to each time he passed the reflecting glass: look at the lines in his face. Slowly, but most definitely, they were disappearing. His face looked more youthful now than it had this morning. Continuing on to his bedroom, Lloyd grabbed a fresh change of clothes. Just as he headed out the door, his phone rang. His hand on the knob, Lloyd looked at the other two waiting in the truck and made a phone gesture with his hand. They nodded and he bounded back to answer the phone.

Lloyd added a bit of gravel to his voice and cautiously answered.

“Hello?”

“Lloyd! You’re home!”

“Ainsworth? Is that you?”

“Yeah, Lloyd, I didn’t know who else to call. It’s Thompson.”

“What about him?”

“He’s dead.”

“What?!” Lloyd was stunned.

“Yeah, looks like there was a struggle. I heard him screaming and ran over and when I got inside I heard the back door slam shut. I started calling for Thompson, then I went into the kitchen…” Ainsworth now started sobbing. “…We were partnered in the war Lloyd!” his voice shook with each word. “I mean sure, he put everyone off when he started wearing dresses and taking the hormones, but c’mon! No one deserves this!”

“All right, just keep calm Ainsworth, we’ll be right over. Have you called Caldwell?”

“I rang him, but there was no answer. How soon till you get here?”

“Be there in five,” Lloyd rang off.

Lloyd now exited his house and locked up. Hopping into the driver’s seat he announced, “So, there’s been a development.” He put the running truck in gear and took off.

“What’s the problem?” Liz asked.

“That was Ainsworth on the phone.”

“Ainsworth?” Stanley said, keenly aware of the friction between him and Lloyd.

“Yeah, Ainsworth. He says Thompson’s been murdered.” The others gasped.

“We gotta head over now, Caldwell isn’t answering.”

“Did he say anything else?”

“Only that he heard Thompson screaming and ran over. Once inside, he heard the back door slam shut and he found him in the kitchen. He was really torn up about it.”

“Then it must be more serious than he expressed, more than just a body,” Stanley concluded.

The truck’s tires squealed as Lloyd took the turn onto Ashe Road. At last the truck came to a stop outside Thompson’s home.

“The front door’s wide open.” Lloyd said.

The trio got out and ran inside the house. Stanley was first into the kitchen.

“Oh my god…” Stanley let out.

There, on the gray and yellow speckled linoleum, were the pieces that once comprised Thompson. Blood and entrails were strewn about the entire space. Stanley gagged and ran out of the kitchen. Ainsworth was in a heap sitting at the kitchen table, next to several key pieces of Thompson. Lloyd walked over to him and put a hand on his shoulder.

“It’s ok, pal. We’ll find out why this happened. Stan? You ok?”

Wiping his mouth with a hand towel, the increasingly youthful-looking Stanley emerged from the bathroom, a toilet flush echoing behind him. “Yeah, I’m ok.”

“Good. Let’s check the backyard.” The two men walked out through the back door. Thompson kept an elegant English-style garden. Lloyd turned on the porch light and noticed the bloody trail cutting through the white roses and then onto the hedges and over the fence.

“Grab that ladder.” Lloyd told Stanley. Lloyd placed the ladder on the fence and climbed to the top. Looking over into Ainsworth’s yard, Lloyd saw the trail lead into Ainsworth’s broken back door. “He’s next door!”

Lloyd dove over the fence into a tuck-and-roll and bolted for the door. Stanley cut back inside and alerted Ainsworth and Liz to the development. The trio of Liz, Stanley, and Ainsworth bailed out the front door and headed for Ainsworth’s.

Sounds of a struggle could be heard.

The trio charged through the front door toward to the back of the house and into Ainsworth’s study. Chief Nathan Alistair Caldwell, covered in blood, reached for a bust of Eisenhower on the shelf and hurled it at Lloyd, who managed to duck just in time. Stanley dove at Caldwell, spearing him into the bookcase. The bookcase rocked and fell forward.

Stanley rolled, holding Caldwell up as a shield. Lloyd and Ainsworth ran over and tossed the now empty bookshelf off of the two men, pinning Caldwell to the ground in the process. Ainsworth disappeared and returned with an old set of handcuffs. Binding Caldwell, they dragged him, still struggling into the kitchen.

“Get some rope and hog-tie him.” Stanley said, out of breath from the struggle.
Ainsworth ran to his garage and returned with some hemp rope. Caldwell wriggled free from Lloyd’s grip and stomped his boot on the ground, causing a knife to spring forward from the tip. Caldwell jumped and swung his cuffed hands underneath him, taking them from behind his back to his front by tucking his legs, and began a series of threatening kicks in the direction of the front door. Liz reached into her purse and drew out a derringer, aimed at Caldwell’s legs and fired. The weak, single shot was enough to bring him to the ground, where the three other men descended on him with a torrential downpour of punches and kicks until he stopped resisting.



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