Chapter 1

Moment of Truth

Chapter 1

Chapter 1

October 22, 2010, Starling, Michigan

This was it. Her moment of truth. Something stirred inside her. Today was the day she’d finally set the record straight about one of the world’s dirtiest companies. Would anyone believe her? Her heart thundered in her chest. Her palms started to sweat. Not. Now. No.
Jennifer Long crouched herself between some bushes that still had leaves on them. It was a warm balmy sixty-two degrees for Fall. The day before her thirtieth birthday was usually never this warm. Sometimes she hated having her birthday near the end of October because it was always cold. But today, nothing like that was going to bother her. No way!
This big moment would finally get her lifelong dream achieved. That was winning a Pulitzer. This story about KCI Corporation and the Vice-President-Elect in a closed meeting, here in Starling, Michigan’s main Metro Park, without the Secret Service, would definitely make it so! She hoped. What were the odds of that? She thought.
Her phone recorded the video and audio of the meeting taking place. She always believed KCI Corporation was dirty. She compared the company to the Umbrella corporation from her one of her favorite movie franchises, Resident Evil. But unable to prove it ever since she was held there for thirty days, she knew then they were dirty. But trying to prove that had been growing tiresome for her.
When she was there, they were telling her and Brian that they were running tests. These test were to try to find out if she was a medium. And after thirty-days, she was released with results that were not satisfactory to them.
Unable to prove any of this, Jen tried other ways. Of course, those who inquired about her stay there were met with nothing but lies. Just that they were testing her, and the thirty-day stay was of her own will to see if she was a good fit for their “special programs” outside the company. Jen did agree to this. Being the Investigative Reporter she was at the time, she believed this was the greatest opportunity to prove her thoughts.
When she didn’t fit their needs, she was then released. And she came away with nothing. Due to the fact she was on tight lockdown during the entire time, she wasn’t able to get the info she came looking for. They kept a tight lid on this side of the corporation. However, she promised that one day, one day, she’d expose them all.
She watched the Vice-President-Elect meet with James Roberts, CEO of KCI on a blacktop path a few feet away from her. Now was it. Now had to be it!
“James, I had to ditch my secret service detail and sneak out of the hotel to meet with you here,” Vice-President-Elect, Joe Pharos said.
“I appreciate that, Joe.”
“Look, here’s half of what you need.” Joe handed him a white letter sized envelope. “And you’ll get more once I’m president. Once I’m president, your company will not only get hefty military contracts, but you will also get to be on my staff as my first Deputy Chief.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“I need to be elected first.”
“You will be president sir. That, I have no doubt! Even if we have to buy it!”
“How is that portal? Have you found it yet?” Joe asked. “I’ve poured tons of money into that. Have you found him yet?”
“Him who?”
“You know, Azazel?” Joe mentioned.
“I got someone working on that right now. Plus, we are close to finding the portal. I’m working with Siondome’s, CEO, Mark Harrington. I’ve got mediums lined up to help us. But sir, I think we have a serious problem.”
“Problem? There should be no problems for the amount of money I’m throwing away on this James!”
“A couple of my employees might be onto us.”
“And who is that?”
“Two of my secretaries.”
“Then have them taken care of and anyone else they’ve told.”
“Sir, they are valuable to me. They are all like family.”
“I told you not to get too close James.”
Jen gasped. Her eyes widened. They were talking about her and her mother. She knew that for fact. It had to be her and her mother they were talking about. Mother fucker! She swore. But who else worked with her mother?
“I’ll handle it sir,” James assured him.
“You better. I’m losing my patience with you James.”
“Sir, believe me, I got this!”
She watched them break from each other. However, nature was never so kind. As a squirrel chirped and a raven crowed at her, she closed her eyes, turned off her phone, and checked back to James and Joe.
“I thought you said this place would be clean?” Joe stated. “What was that? Someone’s watching us.”
Joe checked all the bushes, trees, and brush around the path they stood on. He checked further at the bushes to his left. But Jen was far enough away from the blacktopped path and knew they couldn’t spot her with how buried by the trees, bushes, and brush she was hidden by. But she held her breath.
“There! Someone is in there James.” Joe turned to his right-hand man he always brought with him. “Mack, go check it out.”
“It’s a park. Nature. People. I can’t close it down, you nim-wit,” James snorted.
“Mack will check it out.”
“Paranoid much, Joe?” James laughed.
Mack was built tall and skinny but was armed with a mack-10. He walked closer to where Joe pointed. Jen laid down on the ground and rolled under the bushes. Hoping this was enough to make Mack walk past her. When he walked by, she held her breath. As Mack inspected the area, she continued to hold her breath. He walked by her on the way back and didn’t detect her.
A squirrel ran out of where Jen was hiding. She blew out a breath as lightly as she could. She watched him leave.
“Nothing over here, Mr. Pharos. Just a squirrel.”
“Good. Get back here Mack.”
When Mack was gone, Jen finally took a sigh of relief.
“I’ll be in touch Joe and let you know of our progress in a few days.”
“Thanks James.”
They shook hands and began to walk away toward the parking lot. She was unable to see how far they were away from her due her facing the south-east. James, Joe, and Mack walked to the north-east. She rolled out of the bushes; she saw they were in front of her a few feet away, with their backs turned to her.
Jen rose, dusted herself off and walked the path casually to the south-east parking lot. However, as she walked, she heard Mack talking to Joe.
“Who the fuck is that?” Mack asked Joe.
“I don’t know. Their back is to us. Go after them! Now!” Joe ordered.
Mack knew not to fire his weapon as he gave chase after Jen. She turned around and saw the tall, but athletic build in the man chasing her. As she zig-zagged through the park, she checked over her shoulder again. Mack was truly having a hard time keeping up with her.
After finally arriving at her truck in the parking lot, she climbed in, put her key in the ignition, and thrust the shifter into reverse and peeled out of there. Her heart pounded hard in her chest. Thankfully, her home was close by, and nobody was giving chase. Her stomach growled and she needed something to eat.
What a time to be so hungry, she growled at herself.

She pulled into the parking of the nearby Speedway gas station. Jen climbed out of her truck and surveyed the entire parking lot to make sure she wasn’t followed. She walked in the store and went right to the grill, hoping they had her favorite polish sausage hot dog. And they did. She grabbed a bun, a container, and the tongs. They all looked well done and her mouth was watering.
“Enie, meanie, miny, moe,” she giggled as she picked the second to last dog.
The door flew open and in walked a bulky man with a black ski mask on and waving a gun. Jen shook her head. Really? She questioned.
“Everyone, hit the floor. You, behind the counter.” He tossed a beige money bag to the bulky man behind the register. “Fill it! Now!”
Everyone hit floor. Jen stayed near the grills and put her dog in the bun. She wasn’t about to let this jackass ruin her soon to be enjoyment.
He noticed her continuing what she was doing. He walked over to her. “You, you have a problem with authority?”
She laughed while tossing a five-dollar bill to the counter and took a huge bite into her hot dog. She smiled at the gunman.
“One in every crowd,” he said.
He smacked her across the face with the barrel of the Baretta and the hot dog fell out of her hands and to the floor. Jen wiped her mouth and when she saw blood on her hand, she narrowed her eyes and pursed her lips.
“I said, hit the floor!” he placed his hand on her shoulder.
She glared and growled at him as he attempted to force her to the floor. Jen stood like a sheet of immovable ice.
“What are you, like Supergirl or something?” he laughed.
He put all his two-hundred-pound frame into his hand and tried to force her to the floor once again. She still didn’t budge, and she stood there while he faced her with rage in his eyes. He smacked the side of her face near her chin once again with the barrel of the gun. She stomped the heel of her foot to his foot, and he screamed. The gun fell out of his hand. When she thrust the palm of her hand directly to his nose, she heard it crack, loud. Jen punched him in the solar plexus next.
“It’s not exactly sing, but it does the trick,” she chuckled.
She kneed him the groin for good measure. He howled as he grabbed his nose and his groin. His eyes teared and she smiled wide.
“What the fuck is sing, you fucking bitch!?” he squealed like a girl.
She huffed out a few breaths and rolled her eyes. “Um, hello.” She knocked on his head a few times with her fist as he tried to move it out of the way. “Miss Congeniality? You know, with Sandra Bullock?”
“A goddamn chick flick. I’ve been taken down by a goddamn chick flick?”
She smacked him across the face again. “That was for your choice of words, sir!” She was not religious, but she figured for this guy to be one of those guys who were against everything women. And that was one of her pet peeves. Those guys who believe women only belong in the kitchen.
His hands trembled at the sight of his own blood. Jen grabbed her Glock nine from her purse. She smiled and bent down to pick up the Baretta.
The bulky man who was putting money into a money bag from the register, called 9-1-1. Jen had the gunman right where she wanted him while they waited for police to show. A few harrowing moments later, the police and paramedics arrived. They attended to Jen’s face and the police arrested the gunman. As he was being walked out by officers, the gunman growled at Jen.
“Watch your back hero, you’re gonna pay for this!” he snarled.
“Officer Landen, add threatening Miss?”
“Mrs. Jennifer Long,” she replied.
“Add threatening Jennifer Long to the list of charges.” The middle-aged woman turned to Jen. “I’m Lieutenant, Dawn Hudson.” She handed Jen her business card. “If you need anything, anything at all, don’t hesitate to call.”
Jen took the card and smiled. “Thank you.”
“Thank you, Jennifer.”
“You can call me Jen; it was no problem.”
She felt the instant stabbing pain just under cheek bone as the male paramedic began to stich the wound that ended being just a few centimeters long. She winced and shook her head. The paramedic attending to her smiled. She was only able to give a half smile back at the young skinny man who wore his bleach blond hair short and those light blue eyes with caring passion told her that it possibly wasn’t as bad as she thought.
“How is it?” she asked.
“It’s about as long from the base of your thumb to your nail,” he said.
Jen winced again. “Man. Is there only the one, cause he smacked me twice.”
“Yup, two, the one I’m stitching now and there’s another a bit longer just above it.”
Jen fumed in her mind. After about a half hour, he was finished. “I’m Eric Lang, here’s my card.” He handed her his card. “If you need any other assistance for this, you can follow up with your regular doctor, if you have one.”
“Thanks.”
He finished and they let Jen go after everyone thanked her for her bravery. She left the store and headed home.
“Fuck! How am I gonna explain this to Brian?”
She also knew there was a possibility of this going viral. Being everyone had smart phones these days and access to the internet, she feared that her actions may just be noticed by James Roberts and Joe Pharos now. But she couldn’t worry about that. All she needed now, was Michael Turner’s, approval to run the story. And there would be another dirty corporation she had helped take down.