Roy surveyed the remains of the burnt out warehouse with growing despair. The office end of it, where he had been when the blaze began, no longer existed. The fire which consumed it had generated multiple explosions, and he knew they would find evidence of accelerants before long. No structure went up that fast on its own.
He had been lucky to make it out alive. He wished he could remember how he did it. His memory ended with the flames appearing.
The fire fighters still poked and prodded at the debris, searching for hot spots. The arson investigators were arriving now, fighting their way through the traffic jam of firefighting vehicles and “on-the-scene” news streamers. The rest of Saint Louis would wake up in the morning to another big story, a new tragic tale to occupy them for the next few days or so.
He only became aware of Lieutenant Moore standing next to him when he heard a small cough. He looked over to discover the man offering him a cup of coffee. He accepted it, feeling a bit guilty. This man did not work the graveyard shift. He had come here out of bed at not quite four in the morning. He hadn’t come here to serve coffee.
“Mendez, you shouldn’t be here,” the lieutenant told him sternly. “I told you to go home and rest once the paramedics cleared you.”
Roy bit back the temptation to tell him what he could do with that order. The man was simply concerned for him, after all. He returned his gaze to the ruin, but decided he should state his reason for staying.
“They haven’t found Jack, yet.”
Moore nodded, and added, “Nor the subject, nor your spook girl. At this point, we don’t know anything about what happened to any of them.”
The memory of the spook, the tanned beauty with flowing black hair, clad in animal furs, feathers and beads, still troubled him. She’d appeared while they chased the subject through the warehouse, running parallel to him and Jack far faster than anyone had a right to run, and he had no good explanation for why she’d shown up or what her purpose had been.
He considered again a thought that had worried him several times already. “Do you think she could have done this? Blown up the whole building? Could a spook do that much?”
Moore did not respond immediately. Roy took that to mean he was giving the question honest consideration. While he did so, a crashing noise took Roy’s eyes to the side, to see ash rising where yet another section had fallen from the ruined warehouse roof. Firefighters called to each other, verifying everyone’s safety.
It wasn’t a fair question, of course. News media and scientific circles supplied an abundance of guesses about the origin and nature of spooks, but to the police who usually confronted the real article, the facts were simple. Regardless of whether they were aliens, supernatural beings, or something else, they were dangerous. That seemed to be all anyone could say for a fact.
The lieutenant shook his head. “I can’t say what a spook can or can’t do. Maybe she had the ability, but it wouldn’t add up. She figures to be a ‘white hat’, based on her actions.” He paused for a sip out of his coffee. “She was after the subject, and he was firing at her rather than you. That sounds to me like he thought she was on your side.”
Roy looked down at his own coffee. That’s what he had thought, too, but there was another possibility, after all. “Maybe he just figured she was a bigger threat to him than we were.”
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