She strained her eyes against the darkness, struggling to make out the words on the side of the building. Downtown was filled with old abandoned factories and Brooke didn’t spend enough time down here to know which building was which- but she couldn’t afford to screw this up. Not when she was so close.

A loud clamor to her left startled her and Brooke whipped her head around, searching for shadows against the darkness. Her heart was pounding, her breathing heavy- would anyone hear her scream? This part of town wasn’t exactly safe- bodies that had been strangled, raped, or worse were discovered almost weekly by the vagabonds that slept in abandoned entryways. Brooke’s instructions however, had been to come alone and no harm should come to her. She’d left a note on her refrigerator just in case she disappeared. At least the cops would have a lead as to where she was- and they would know exactly why she’d come.

She closed her eyes and counted to ten while holding her breath, straining her ears against the breeze. Hearing nothing, she tentatively turned back towards the large brick edifice and flipped open her cell phone, hoping its light would provide her with some clarity. “Ford” she mumbled to no one in particular. This was the place. She slowly worked the weak light down the side of the building searching for broken glass or disintegrated brick- anything that she could use as a means to get inside and up to the rendezvous point on the fourth floor.

Without warning, the wind shifted and Brooke clutched at her jacket with her free hand, tightening it around her neck. Why hadn’t she brought a scarf? With a shiver, she wondered if subconsciously she hadn’t wanted to make herself easier to strangle.

A painfully low creaking sound caused her whole body to freeze and the hairs on her arms and neck to rise in anticipation. Someone was there- she felt it with ever fiber of her being. Adrenaline began coursing through her veins and every muscle tightened, then twitched in anticipation. Was it an ambush? Had she been tricked? Brooke would fight with every ounce of strength she had before she even thought about running- even if she was killed, the note she left behind would lead someone to her body and eventually to the truth. This was bigger than her- it was bigger than anything she’d ever imagined. Dead or alive, she was cracking this case wide open.


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