My Grandson's Odd Family
Greggory Quill had waited thirty years to find his grandson. And even now, two weeks after he'd arrived back ("for a visit," he kept reminding Greggory), Greggory still found it to be far more than he could handle.
Rocket, the raccoon, had tried talking to some actual raccoons in the yard one night, only for Peter to run out after him before pest control arrived.
Groot had a limited vocabulary. But apparently, everyone understood him. Greggory just let that slide. Everything was weird enough already.
Gamora, the green woman, said she wanted to explore Peter's world. But that caused a problem.
"Green people don't generally walk around on Earth," Peter had tried explaining, "so…Rocket, could you get out of the garage?"
Then he had looked back at Gamora and asked, "Are you sure you want to go out?"
"I am." Gamora had answered.
Greggory then asked, "Well, are you sure you'll fit in?"
Gamora nodded. "I always wanted to know what Peter's world looks like. He says such fascinating things about it."
Greggory had sighed. "Well, Peter has been gone thirty years. You haven't even met the family yet. Maybe you should do that first."
When Greggory had gone down the stairs, he heard Peter and Gamora arguing.
"Look, people don't react well to seeing…green people. Why do you think we came on Halloween?"
"That is not my fault. You say all these great things about Terra, and you never let me out! It's stuffy in here and I want to see the place. We had to do something while Drax and Mantis are honeymooning on the moon."
"Look, erm, how about a few options. You could say it's a costume party. OK, no. How about we –"
"Peter, if you don't let me go out soon, I'm going to go insane."
Eventually, Greggory came up with an idea.
Peter's original idea had been to use a burka, but Gamora had said she felt uncomfortable. Then they'd got a lot of face-paint. After all, Greggory had thought she'd been using make-up when he met her.
He'd gone down to a costume shop and brought some. Gamora spent two hours having copper face-paint plastered over her face and arms. But then, when they'd finished, she looked like any other girl from Belgrade.
They'd left in Greggory's car to go around the next town, Caledonia. They'd brought Rocket and Groot along. This had proved to be a harder problem than Gamora. Eventually, they'd pretended they were kids in costume. Groot was roughly the size of a five-year-old now and as long as no-one looked too closely at Rocket, they wouldn't assume he was anything other than a child in a really good costume.
Even so, Greggory had no idea what to do.
Peter said Earth was now too advanced to call 'home', but at the same time it was too primitive, since he'd been to all sorts of places. He was amazed at the car phones and had trouble understanding slang. Oddly enough, it seemed just like Greggory himself had been when his other grandchildren had taken him out.
When they reached a grocery store, Gamora, Rocket and Groot had all jumped several times through the automatic doors. Then Groot had climbed inside the frozen food section and Rocket swore at a child. He also bared his teeth at any dogs. Soon, Gamora had followed Peter and Greggory to the till, her arms filled with…
" – the most delicious Earth delicacy I've ever seen! It takes just like Betlebee Moon cows' cream!" she cried out loud.
Peter raised an eyebrow and looked down at what she was holding. "It's chocolate mousse." He muttered, just as a poor girl in an employee uniform ran down the sandwich aisle holding a mop, with Rocket shouting after her.
The startled girl was followed by Rocket, now soaking wet. "What does that girl put in there?" he asked, scowling. Peter tried not to laugh at Rocket covered in bubbles.
Gamora had gone back to the frozen food section, where she and Groot (now covered in frost) had avoided the cross-looking cashier and sneaked out through the front, as Peter was talking to the cleaner.
"Listen," he said, "my son's just a bit hyperactive. We just got back from Woodland Camp and he's had too much sugar…"
"What did you call me?" Rocket asked, angrily.
Greggory just wanted them out of here before someone called the police.
Soon, they were driving back in silence, the back filled with chocolate mousse, fish fingers and fizzy pop. It could be a lot worse, Peter considered. The employees had to clean up bark and loose hair.
When they returned, Peter picked up a DVD from his old room. He'd been staying in here and Gamora had taken the guest room, with Rocket and Groot just staying awake or falling asleep on the futon. Peter opened the case and his heart skipped a beat.
In Ella and Greggory's handwriting were several different, but equally unsettling titles. America's Most Wanted Collection. Huckleberry Killer: Missouri Monster. Disappeared From a Hospital: The Search for Peter Quill.
He held back tears as he looked through the dates. 2005. 2008. 2016. These were all searches for him.
He turned the downstairs TV on once Greggory had gone to bed. Disappeared From a Hospital lasted ninety minutes. The whole time, Peter just kept staring. Staring at Greggory and Ella, sobbing at the camera. Pictures of him and Meredith when he was growing up.
A family video of Peter from August the year he vanished. Running into Meredith's hospice room, hugging her and then showing her a drawing he'd made of the two of them in a yellow star. Peter didn't remember that drawing. But he guessed it was somewhere in his room.
The first mention of R.J Rogers was nearly an hour in. Peter paused the video and looked at the man. His sideways glance, his thin eyebrows that made his eyes seem huge, his pierced ear with dark green teardrop earring.
He looked completely pathetic.
There weren't any proper video clips of the hospice, due to it having been in the 'Missouri Blob Area'. But a view from above had been visible.
The video ended with clips from police saying how much the case haunted them. Then an epilogue.
Ella Quill passed away during production. Greggory still lives in Park Hills and still looks for his grandson.
Richard Rogers has never been charged with Peter Quill's murder, but still remains a person of interest.
Over 60 John Does across America have been ruled out as being Peter. 15 are still unidentified.
If anyone watching this program has information on Peter's whereabouts, please call any of the hotlines below.
Peter had always known the police would be looking for him. But he'd never expected it to be this serious.
When he'd been taught stranger danger at school, he had never known why people took children. He knew they never saw their families again, but that was all.
He certainly knew what happened now.
When he'd grown up, Yondu had told him what some strangers did to children, on every planet. He said that if Peter was going to start flying, he might as well know.
But getting stranger danger from an alien, and not only that but one who'd abducted him in the first place, was not a precise way of learning.
Peter watched another of the videos. It was a documentary on Rogers.
This was what Ella believed had happened to him.
His grandmother had died thinking that a psychopath had killed him. She had spent twenty-five years waiting and hoping he would come home, only to die believing that a criminal on Death Row had murdered him.
Out of curiosity, Peter decided to flick through it. It started up with a narration on Rogers' early life.
"Denied justice. His friend dead. Richard James Rogers was only nine years old when he was first molested. Two years later, after his friend was gone forever, the hate, anger and despair began to boil up inside. This is the story of Richard James Rogers, the Huckleberry Killer, the terror of central Missouri and the bogeyman of many little kids, who desperately wanted their friends back."
Peter lay back on the chair as he watched in rapt fascination. He'd see what the investigation into his disappearance looked like, at last.
Fifteen minutes in. It had now gone onto the disappearances. Newspaper articles, old, grainy news footage. The same type of headline each time.
"A nine-year-old has disappeared from outside the White Hawthorn Blossom Hotel in Creve Coeur…"
"Six-year-old Derek Robinson was last seen in the waiting room, after seeing his dying grandma…"
"The body of missing Sullivan boy Terry Nelson has been discovered outside an unincorporated community in Reynolds County, nearly fifty miles from his home…"
"Police say there could be a serial killer in Missouri preying on preteen boys. Five boys have vanished in the Franklin County, St Francois County and Washington County area…"
Peter paused the video. The five black-and-white faces looked back at him from behind the anchorman. His was the fourth.
He had lived. He had had an amazing life. These boys hadn't. They were all struck down before they even reached high school. Two of them had been younger than him, for crying out loud!
Then a clip dated 12-08-89. It was an anchorman showing a map and talking. Three dots, labelled Derek Brent Robinson, Brandon Bradley and Peter Quill made a triangle, before it panned out and another dot labelled Nathan Wilde hovered on Park Hills. As the anchorman carried on talking, the camera panned out again from the map (the graphics had not aged well) to show Terry Nelson over Sullivan, making a very odd-looking saucepan shape.
Then two anchorpeople were talking.
"…it's just astonishing. Five little boys in five years, all – vanished. Vanished from hospitals, where our kids are supposed to feel safe. If we can't trust our kids in the hands of professionals, who can we trust? Are these perverts just walking around? Is the killer really a medical professional? It's baffling that our children would willingly walk off with a stranger."
"The fact is that children have been taught to trust people in authority. Doctors, teachers, priests, police, children all obey them and go with them. We tell our children to go to a police officer if they are lost. But security footage from some of these places clearly show a man dressed as a doctor walking away with these boys."
Then a few re-enactments. Peter watched a clip of Terry Nelson, labelled 09-17-84. A little boy with floppy blonde hair walking along a street.
"Terry Nelson disappeared further to the north than the other boys, but was found on farmland in Black, south-west of the other sites. Due to this, the FBI connected his murder to the disappearances of the other boys, despite the fact their bodies had not been found yet."
One of Derek Brent Robinson, a small boy with blonde hair and wonky teeth (although the actor playing him seemed to have perfect teeth, Peter noted) sitting on a chair in a waiting room. An ominous voice and the back of someone in a doctor's uniform, talking to him. A close-up on the boy holding the man's hand, walking off further down the hall.
"Derek Robinson was just two months away from turning seven years old when he disappeared on New Year's Eve. There is speculation that the kidnapper might have used the busy time to take advantage of the abduction, but this has not been confirmed."
Brandon Bradley, an older boy lying back on a wheelchair in a winter garden. He had reddish-blonde hair and freckles and was laughing with a girl with soft, dark brown hair and a fringe, in the style of the late eighties among little girls.
A man approaching and the ominous voice again. He started wheeling away the boy, with the girl calling after them, leaning forward in her chair.
"Brandon's abductor used the name 'Dr. Rogers' and was described as being aged between twenty-five and thirty-six years old, with wavy blonde hair and an earring in his left ear. Brandon's wheelchair would later be found on a lonely road off of Webster Road, the road between Caledonia and Belgrade."
Peter paused it again.
If that was true, it was found only two miles from where he vanished. With no turns in the road that went anywhere other than farmhouses, until you reached the fork that either went west or up to the hospice. No wonder his case was connected to Brandon's abduction.
Then it was a clip of his disappearance.
He smirked a little when he saw what the actor playing him looked like. He was too short, his hair was a different length and his nose was too small. Even so, he felt a lump in his throat when he saw the boy playing him scream and run out.
He put his head in his hands and squeezed his eyes tight. He couldn't hear the next few minutes of the video. Peter just kept thinking of what he'd lost.
Of who he'd lost.
Mom. Then Yondu. The last thirty years, his childhood, his teens, his twenties and thirties, the future he could have had an Earth, an ordinary life on Earth, his mom's life…
All because of Ego.
Peter didn't notice Gamora come in, until he felt the mattress sag beneath him and he looked up.
She silently squeezed his hand and looked into his eyes.
They both knew what the other was thinking.
The next day would be the day Peter met his family again. Greggory had invited his son and daughter, Peter's Uncle Lenny and Aunt Debra, over, with their children, all of whom were now grown up.
Greggory had shown Peter the photo album in the kitchen over breakfast, pointing out everyone.
"OK, this is Uncle Lenny's wife Patricia, do you remember her?"
"I think," Peter murmured.
"And this," Greggory pointed, "is Aunt Debra and her husband Jeff, she married him in 1991, with her first husband's daughter Heather, remember her?"
"The girl who pushed me over during the Fourth of July barbecue?" Peter asked, squinting at the picture.
"Yeah," Greggory told him, "Aunt Debra got a divorce in 1989, they were in the process of doing it when you disappeared, but it really took its toll and they got divorced much sooner than they'd thought. Anyway, these are Aunt Debra's two other children, who were both born after you disappeared. This is Cousin Joshua, who was born in 1992 and this is Cousin Jessica, who was born the year after. They're both staying at home with Jeff today, because they need to help out at a church donation drive."
"So, which of Peter's relatives are coming?" Gamora asked from the downstairs bathroom, still applying some make-up on her forehead.
Greggory replied, "Uncle Lenny and his wife, Aunt Debra and Cousin Heather. Lenny's kids live too far away to come today."
Peter sat down on the couch. "I'm really nervous," he admitted, as Rocket came into the room, holding a bag of chips and a blowtorch, "I feel like when I skydived over the waterfall of Zen-Whoberis. It's nearly as tall as Washington Monument."
Rocket scoffed. "Well, you would be. You're seeing them after thirty years. You barely remember this planet. It'll be like talking to strangers."
Peter scowled back at him and resisted the urge to slap him in the face. "Yeah, thanks." He murmured.
Rocket and Groot had to stay upstairs in Peter's room and avoid any mishaps that would involve anybody calling the emergency services or the FBI.
Uncle Lenny, Patty, Aunt Debra and Cousin Heather arrived at half past two. Greggory had told them that he was holding a dinner party. Peter held Gamora's hand as they sat on the couch, waiting. Soon, they heard the sounds of Peter's relatives entering. Greggory took hats and coats and began saying that the other guests were in the living room.
Gamora whispered to Peter, "You'll be all right. Just be yourself."
Peter felt as if thousands of Perbie butterflies were in his stomach.
Cousin Heather entered the room.
She was much different from the little girl Peter remembered. A tired-looking woman in her mid-thirties, with flat dark brown hair and a fringe, in a blue shirt and light gray trousers. She had paint all over her trousers and her t-shirt appeared unwashed. She looked slightly scatterbrained and Peter remembered Greggory telling him that Heather was a decorator.
She smiled at him and asked, "Oh hello, who are you?"
Peter swallowed and Gamora turned back to look at him. Uncle Lenny, Aunt Debra and Patricia all followed Heather into the living room.
Uncle Lenny was aged about sixty, with white hair and bristles on his chin. He wore a pair of dungarees and boots, all the same shade of dark gray. Patty was about ten years younger, with thick, blonde curls and a long face. She also wore dungarees, but this pair was dark green. Aunt Debra was fifty-five, with the same hair as her daughter. She also had a light blue corduroy top and dark blue trousers.
Greggory entered the room and then sighed, running his hands down his face. "Lenny, Patty, Debra, Heather, this is Peter. Meredith's son."
They all looked at Peter with a mixture of confusion and horror. Then Uncle Lenny walked up to Peter, still sitting down.
He then punched him across the face.
Peter flew to the side, stretched across Gamora's lap, his jaw aching.
As he sat up, Gamora leapt up and pushed Uncle Lenny into the wall, her eyes glaring at him. "Don't you dare." She hissed at him.
Patty shouted, "Get off my husband!" she tried pulling Gamora away, but the younger female was too strong.
Then Greggory shouted, "Stop it! Everyone!"
Gamora let go of Uncle Lenny and ran back over to Peter, asking, "Are you OK?"
Peter held his jaw and grimaced in pain. "I'm fine. I'm fine." He managed to say, before squeezing his eyes shut, taking in the pain.
Uncle Lenny pointed at Peter, shouting, "That man is not my nephew! Peter is dead, Dad! What on Earth were you thinking, letting this guy trick you?"
Aunt Debra looked at Peter as if he were gunk on the bottom of her shoe. "He's a fraud, Dad," she tried saying, "He's like that Anastasia person. Peter's dead, remember? Rogers killed him."
Peter argued, "I am Peter, Aunt Debra."
"Don't call me that!" she spat at him, furiously.
Then Heather asked Peter, walking up to him, "Where did Granddad find you, then? The rehab, the jail, the homeless shelter? Just who do you think you are?"
Peter felt in much pain emotionally as he was in his jaw. He never believed that seeing his relatives again after so long would be like this.
But Greggory was trying to calm everyone down. "Please, this is Peter. You need to believe me."
Lenny's face was the same color as a beetroot. "Dad, this can't be Peter. Even if Rogers didn't murder him, the chances of him being alive after thirty years are minimal."
Heather poked Peter. "Well, if you are Peter, what did I say to you after I pushed you over at the Fourth of July party in 1987?"
Peter blurted out, "How can I remember that?"
Heather scoffed, turning to Greggory, still gesturing towards Peter. "See?"
Debra pushed Greggory out of the room to talk to him privately, while Lenny, Patty and Heather all looked cautiously at Peter. They knew they wouldn't dare hurt Peter again, because Gamora was guarding him like a dog.
They all stared at each other in silence, while Greggory argued with Debra next door.
"Debra, it really is Peter. I can't tell you how, but he is."
"We've examined every angle. Every time I get a call that a John Doe's been found and needs identification, I worry so much. Looking at adult Does are harder, since we don't want to think about someone doing who knows what to him for twenty-five years."
"Dad, just listen. I know you want Peter to be found as much as we do, but this can't be Peter. It's just like Kansas City."
"That kid was locked in a basement by his dad for twenty-one years. He kept the poor kid drugged up with stuff from his pharmacy. The only people he saw were his stepsiblings. It's no wonder he thought he was our Peter."
"I felt sorry for that boy too, believe me. But this has no excuse. Look, just trust me. I'll buy a DNA test. Then we can prove it."
"And why haven't you told the FBI yet? They need to know."
Peter then stood up. Patty stepped backward a bit, ready for any fighting. Gamora then pulled something from her pocket. It looked like a cross between a large sweetener dispenser and an inhaler.
"I didn't want to show this straight away, Peter," she told him without looking at him, "but it might make them believe you."
She held it out towards Heather. "Breathe into this."
Heather made a face. "What is that?" she asked, shocked.
"Do it." Gamora ordered.
Nobody dared anger her. So Heather gingerly took it and breathed into it. Then she took it from her mouth. Gamora read the inscription that was starting to appear on the small screen.
"Heather Laura Hunter. Born 23rd May 1982, mother Debra Louise Quill, father Stanley Benedict Hunter. Last meal consists of cheese and onion pasty." she looked up, "I'd assume that's correct?"
Heather looked back at Uncle Lenny and Patty, all three of them sharing the same bewildered look.
Heather stammered, "T-That's right, ma'am."
Gamora then held the machine towards Peter and he took it, breathing into the hole.
Gamora took it back and handed it to Heather.
Heather read aloud, "Peter Jason Quill, born 25th July 1980, mother Meredith Quill, father Ego the Living Planet. Last meal consists of chili corn carne."
Lenny, Patty and Heather all looked at each other in astonishment.
"Peter…" Heather managed to ask.
Instantly, Heather held her arms around him, sobbing loudly.
The next several minutes were spent mostly of Peter's relatives staring at him from a couch opposite. Gamora held Peter's hand throughout the afternoon, as his family asked questions.
All Peter mumbled was that he was from the stars. Gamora mostly filled in the details, but they listened in horror and amazement.
Gamora had rubbed some of the make-up off of her face, one side of her face showing a bright green hue. The relatives all stared wide-eyed, but the surprise soon wore off when Peter and Gamora explained all they could.
They didn't mention Ego. They couldn't.
But Greggory had told them that the FBI couldn't know yet. Not until there was confirmation from the Avengers.
After they'd left, Peter curled up on his bed, holding his legs close to his chest.
"I didn't think they'd act like that," he whispered, more to himself than Gamora.
Gamora asked, "What did you think they'd do?"
Peter just answered, "I don't know. Not that. Did you see the way Uncle Lenny looked at me? And Heather…she seemed disgusted. I don't blame them. But…I knew seeing them was a bad idea."
Gamora shook her head, her hand resting on his arm. "You weren't to know." She comforted him.
Peter went on the computer later. He'd been curious about what Greggory had said, about some guy who'd claimed he was him. Peter had read something in the information Stark had given him when Peter had been flying over to Belgrade, but it had been vague.
He read in absolute horror on the 'Wolf Boy of Kansas City'.
'Peter Underwood, born 8th September 1982, was kidnapped by his father, Jerry Hodges (1960 -2010) in their hometown of Norway, Michigan on 27th November 1989. His mother, Rhonda Underwood, twenty-five, was murdered and her body left in a farmer's field by the Wisconsin border, where she was found two years later and finally identified in 2007. She took so long to be identified due to her family breaking contact with her several years prior to her murder.
'Jerry Hodges, who suffered from a god complex, locked his son in his basement in Kansas City, close to Interstate 435. Jerry worked at a pharmacy and gave Peter cough medicine regularly, to stop neighbors hearing him. Peter spent twenty years locked in a twenty-one foot by ten foot room with an adjacent toilet.
'In 1992, Jerry met Casey Bone, a twenty-six-year-old loner, and her six-year-old daughter Darlene. They lived in the house for two years without knowing that Jerry was keeping a child downstairs. Meanwhile, Jerry went downstairs early in the morning or before he went to bed, to give his son his meals. He also supplied Underwood with a television and a video player, later a DVD player. On 12th February 1994, Jerry killed Casey in a rage. Psychiatrists suggest he let Darlene live due to 'vile reasons.'
'According to Underwood, he brought Darlene down to the basement and said, "Peter, this is your sister. Be good." Darlene asked him what his name was and he replied, "I think it's Peter." He also was unsure of his age, saying he thought he was twelve. Darlene lived in the room with him for fifteen months, before Hodges gave her the old rec room, which he'd fixed up with his tools. His excuse was that Peter was a growing boy. Darlene only saw him roughly once every few days after that.
'Eight years later, Hodges killed his third lover, Ruby Wilcox, a previously homeless woman, and locked her seven-year-old son Austin in the basement. Underwood said that Hodges made it clear that the only reason he let Austin live was because there was a witness in the house. That witness was later framed for Ruby and Austin's murders. Eighteen months after his mother's murder, Austin was moved to another bedroom, next to Darlene's. By this point, Hodges allowed Darlene to roam the house.
'Hodges was killed in a shootout with police after he attacked high school graduates at a nearby prom in May 2010, killing twenty people. As he was holed up with hostages, he said he had a son at home and asked for police to look after him. Peter Underwood was rescued with Darlene and Austin, who had spent sixteen and eight years locked up, respectively.
'Psychologists originally believed that Underwood was aged fourteen to eighteen years old and possibly autistic, due to the awful condition he was found in. He had developed a whole new language that he had used with Austin, his hair was longer than most women's and he screamed when he went outside inside the sunlight. Austin and Darlene told police that they believed Peter had been at the house since around 1990.
'Underwood was ruled out as being thirty-eight missing boys, all of which had vanished between 1981 and 1992, most with their mothers in custody battles. In September 2010, Underwood was finally identified and currently resides in Michigan with his family.'
And he'd thought Ego was bad.
Ego was undeniably worse, but this guy had been a human. And Greggory had actually believed this was what befell his grandson.
Was that better or worse than the alternative?
Peter clicked through the photos of the rooms. The walls had crayon scribbles everywhere, there wasn't a sheet on the mattress, the floors were littered with books, children's toys and video boxes, and the bathroom was brown and grimy.
Peter lay back and thought. Granddad truly thought that it had been his grandson that had been locked up in there for twenty years.
Peter himself had flown out in the vastness of space. The kids right here, the ones missing, were locked up or murdered. He'd been lucky.
He decided to look up Barnes and Rogers.
The two men couldn't have been more different. Rogers grew up as a ward of the state, was abused as a child and worked at a golf course for minimum wage. Barnes was a businessman who helped out at children's parties and public events, as well as having his own patch in an orange grove where ten of his victims were found, and was comfortably off.
They also had different types of victim and modus operandi. Rogers drove up to pre-pubescent boys on the road or went into hospitals or hospices dressed as a doctor, distracting the child before striking. Barnes invited young men back to his house to help work, sometimes while coming back from a public event or from work in East St. Louis. Rogers took children who made headlines; Barnes stole young men who'd be written off as runaways, especially the minority teenagers.
Barnes had gone to the chair last year. He'd still kept silent about how many he'd taken, although he did talk about those that were found, as well as any victims from unsolved cases whose bodies had been found by the roadside. His last meal had been Burger King (he used to work there in his younger days) and some raspberry ice cream.
Rogers was still alive, in prison, still saying he'd killed Peter and other boys and kept quiet about it.
Peter didn't sleep that night. He was far too scared that he'd get a nightmare.
As the dawn entered in and shone onto the wall that Peter was staring at, he knew what he could do.
He could talk to Rogers.
It wasn't hard to find him. Rogers was at a high-security jail some miles north of here. Peter had the plan sorted out quickly. He would have fake credentials, and then he and Gamora would ask Rogers. And they'd make Rogers tell him.
He and Gamora left at just past nine the next morning, after Gamora had put on the make-up and they both dressed in respectable clothes.
When they'd arrived at the prison, Peter gulped. This would be harder than he thought it would be. Of course it would be; they were going to talk to a child murderer, a pervert who only thought of himself, who spread lies and made the authorities go round in circles.
Gamora told him as they approached the front desk, "You'll be fine. Just let me do the talking."
"That's what I'm worried about," Peter murmured, before she glared at him.
They passed all of the jail cells on the way to the interrogation room. Peter felt sick inside when he glimpsed all the lowlifes in here. True, he'd been in the Ravagers, but the majority of these men had killed defenseless victims, stole for their habits or even killed the very people they were supposed to care for. The Ravagers never did any of that and if they did, they'd be severely punished.
"Richard James Rogers," a guard told the two of them as he opened a door and they went inside. As it shut, Peter stared at the man in the orange jumpsuit sitting at the table in front of them.
This man had killed a bunch of children? He was shorter than Peter! He wasn't a monster; he was a five foot four friendly-looking guy with a pierced ear. Then again, Peter suspected, that's what made him so wicked.
He swallowed as he introduced themselves, "Agents Lord and Gamora. We're here to ask about some of the murders you claim to have committed."
Rogers smirked. "So the FBI finally gets some losers to question me. I thought they were tired of that. 'Doesn't matter what he did, we can't prove it, he's getting injected anyway.' Is that it?"
Gamora was about to lunge forward when Peter put his arm out. Then he leaned forward and asked, "We're here about some that they claim to have committed, ones that we are certain you may have taken part in."
He threw some photographs down onto the table, saying their names. "Cameron Cox, twelve, 1982. Jeffrey McCauley, ten, 1989. Matthew Tucker, ten, 1986." His voice quivered. "Peter Quill, eight, 1988."
Rogers didn't even glance at the photos. "What makes you think I killed them?" he asked, cockily.
Gamora shouted at him, "Because you said you'd killed them! They never found Cameron and Peter."
Rogers looked up to the ceiling and replied, "So what? Maybe I did, maybe I didn't. I said a bunch of stuff. Doesn't mean I killed them."
Gamora carried on, holding up a picture of a happy-looking boy in a hospice bed. "Cameron Cox, vanished on 25th November 1982 from St. James, on the same Interstate that Herman and Terry disappeared on. Right age, right circumstance, dying of bone cancer. Sounds your sort, doesn't he?"
Rogers just shrugged. Gamora frowned as she looked at another.
"Matthew Tucker, disappeared as he went to school in Steelville on 15th September 1986."
"Just four months after you took little James Porter," Peter interrupted, "he's still missing, isn't he? His t-shirt was found in your basement."
Gamora carried on, "For twenty-five years, his death was blamed on some local priests, because the witness saw their van nearby. But there was no proof. The FBI just wanted to blame the church for a quarter of a century."
"So you made a mistake," Rogers sounded bored, "you always want a scapegoat. So you blame people like me for everything."
Gamora wanted to punch him.
"His body was found in Wesco, south of Steelville. His family spent four months in agony and now they've spent thirty years waiting for somebody like you to say what happened," she snarled, "and if you drive from Virburnum to Steelville, it only takes half an hour. Go to Wesco and you can cut through country lanes to Cherryville, the town just above Virburnum. The FBI were just too certain they knew who was responsible to look at you."
Rogers just lay back. He was obviously fed up and was playing mind games.
Peter held up another picture. "You said you took a kid on Halloween, but never said who he was. Well, how about here?"
He held the picture in both hands as it stood upright on the table. A little boy with a shaved head and a hospice gown sat in a bed, holding a brown teddy as he smiled.
"Jeffrey McCauley, just ten years old when he vanished on Halloween 1989. He was in a hospice in Arcadia, dying of kidney failure. Sure, he could have survived a transplant if he'd had one within five days of his abduction. But you never even let them have a chance.
"Someone said they saw a doctor in his room before he vanished. But everyone's whereabouts had been accounted for. It was your twenty-eighth birthday that night wasn't it? Arcadia's directly south of Ironton, just four minutes' drive of East Madison Street, where you abducted Justin Cook fifteen months earlier."
Peter was on a roll. "Your big mistake. You took him to Enough and tried to play, but he said he was only fifteen. You got angry and strangled him then and there. Jeffrey, however, was young and sweet, your ideal victim. The dates would put him as your final victim, wouldn't they?"
But Rogers didn't say anything.
Peter's hand was shaking as he picked up the final photo – the picture of him taken at his eighth birthday party. But Gamora spoke before Peter could.
"Peter Quill," she explained, "disappeared just over a year earlier, from Belgrade. Just down the road from where Brandon Bradley disappeared, isn't it? He'd just lost his mother. He'd just lost his mother and then he gets…" her voice trailed off, "abducted."
Rogers sniggered. "I liked Peter, little miss. He was a screamer."
He leapt over the table, grabbed Rogers by the throat and fell down onto the ground. The murderer's eyes were wide open in fright, puzzlement and fury.
Peter shouted, "Look at me, you filthy piece of garbage! LOOK AT ME!" Rogers trembled as he obeyed. Then Peter hissed the sentence that Rogers would never expect.
"I'm Peter Quill."
Rogers sweated in fear as he managed to stammer, through Peter's hands around his neck, "You?"
Peter let go and demanded, "Where are the others? We know you took others. Are they at the golf course?"
Rogers shuffled away and held a hand at his – now red – throat, his eyes fixed on Peter.
Gamora stood by them and wiped the side of her face, the green skin showing. Rogers looked as if he would either scream, faint or both.
"I took thirteen," he mumbled, as Peter asked, "Is that the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Have I said that right, Gamora, because I don't really recall –"
"It's the truth!" Rogers spat.
Then he sat up, his legs still splayed on the ground.
"Thirteen. Scott Lewis. Cameron Cox. Herman Wright-Garcia. Eric Chad. Terry Nelson. Derek Brent Robinson. James Porter. Matthew Tucker. Justin Cook. Brandon Bradley. Jose Gomez. Nathan Wilde. Jeffrey McCauley. I'll tell, please!"
Then he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.
"I saw – Cameron – when I was in St. James for a new set of tires. I saw the hospice nearby and when I got the tires, I drove into their parking lot. I went inside to get some antibiotics and I saw Cameron in his bed. I told him that he was needed for a check-up and I injected him with some stuff from the pharmacy. He's near the Moonlight Patio in the golf course. I promise!"
"And the other boys?" Gamora demanded, "Where are they?"
Rogers looked close to tears. But he kept eye contact as he explained.
"James – he's under Hole 54. It's on a big hill. That's because I put so much – dirt – when I buried him." He smiled, "James cried so much."
"What else do you expect from a six-and-a-half-year-old?" Gamora bellowed at him, but Peter put a hand up.
He asked, slowly and firmly, "What about Matthew Tucker? What happened?"
Rogers tried to think. "I know one thing the newspapers never revealed. Matthew had his watch with him, one with a light blue strap. It was found with him, but the police didn't say there was a crack on the underside of the watch. It looks lightning-shaped. If you check the records, you'll find that."
Gamora looked at Peter and asked, "You want to get more from him?"
Peter nodded. This animal deserved everything he got.
"Jeffrey McCauley?" he asked.
Rogers looked down at the floor as he spoke. It wasn't as if he was ashamed to look Peter in the eye, it was that he was a coward. Peter knew that all bullies were cowards.
He'd seen them.
"I took Jeffrey from the hospice on Halloween. There were decorations everywhere and I had gone to get painkillers. I noticed a little boy sitting upright in bed. Jeffrey asked me, 'Who are you?' and I told him, 'I'm Dr. Rogers and I'm here to do some bloodwork.' He told me, 'I've had some,' but I just replied, 'I need some more tests. This won't be a minute.' And I injected him with painkillers to make him sleepy."
Peter swallowed, hard. This disgusting animal was spilling the beans now he knew his life was in danger. But he'd shown no humanity when he'd done the very same to his young victims.
"I took Jeffrey to my basement. I don't know exactly when I killed him – I think it was just after midnight on 1st November. I hid his body under some garbage sacks in my trunk and drove to East End, only fifteen minutes' from my home. I left his body on a dirt path leading to a lake. I remember the newspaper saying he'd been found, twenty months after he'd vanished, when I was in police custody."
Gamora asked, "How can you prove you did it?"
Rogers sighed, "Look in my trophies. I took a pumpkin decoration from his room. It's got the name of another patient written on the bottom. Ask through the hospice records and they can show you. Just don't hurt me!"
Peter stood up.
"I'm not going to hurt you," he responded, "I'm going to show you the mercy you never gave those boys. Come on, Gamora."
Three days later, Greggory picked up a newspaper from a stand outside the local shop and took it home.
He knew because soon the FBI would come round to talk to him. And he had a suspicion that Peter was behind it.
THREE BODIES FOUND ON VIRBURNUM GOLF COURSE – THE HUCKLEBERRY KILLER REVALS EVERYTHING
The bodies of three children have been found on the Morrison Clear Golf Club in the Mark Twain National Forest, following a confession by Richard James Rogers, 55, 'The Huckleberry Killer', we can reveal.
Rogers said that he had buried two more bodies on the course, along with two more murders, all committed between 1982 and 1989. The golf club had been shut since September 1990, after searches had brought up nothing. The twenty-five acre course has since been abandoned.
It went on slightly more, giving possible hints as to who the bodies might be.
Cameron Cox. James Porter. And Peter Quill.
Greggory had asked Peter, "Do you have anything to do with this?" but his grandson had just smiled.
Then Greggory had asked, curious, "But they won't find you, will they?"
Peter nodded, his lips pursed. "It's some technology we gathered. It takes some time, but it replicates a body from a picture and then we – Gamora, Rocket and I – adjusted it so that it would decay, just as it would underground. The FBI are going to look for me forever, and I think it would be a lot easier on everyone if they think the case is closed."
Greggory just sighed. He knew Peter was doing what he thought was best, but Greggory couldn't help thinking that this meant Peter wouldn't stay.
You can't make him, Greggory told himself, he can fly away and do what he wants. Just as long as he promises to you know he's all right…
The FBI came around later that day. The agents sat on the couch opposite him, as Peter and his friends hid upstairs.
"Greggory, as you may have heard, there were three bodies found on the course," one explained, slowly and firmly, "and we have decided to check your DNA against them. I hope you understand that we may find Peter there."
Greggory nodded, pretending to seem at ease.
After they left, he flicked through the large section in the newspaper about Rogers. It disgusted him, but he still thought about the fact that these families wouldn't be so lucky. Peter has risen from the grave. All these families had were thirty years of pain.
There was some paragraphs about the original trial and the information that had come to light. There was a section about Rogers' second trial in 2010, about how he'd been sentenced for the murders of Eric Chad, James Porter and Jose Gomez.
About how he'd seen ten-year-old Eric in the Hope Hospice in Cedar Hill in 1984, where the boy had been recovering from heart disease. Taken from the garden, just like Peter. Witnessed by another patient, just like Bradley. Found just a hundred yards north of the golf course, two years later.
A picture of Eric's aged, grieving parents emerging from the courthouse.
Jose Gomez had appeared younger than his fourteen years when he was snatched from outside a vacation lodge at Lac Capri Lake, taking a smoke break during his summer job in the August of 1988. He was found only three days later in Middlebrook, by a young Scout troop. Jose had been dead just thirty-six hours.
Jose's cigarette packet had been found in Rogers' possessions, with one of his fingerprints inside.
Then there was a paragraph on Peter. The picture of Peter and Meredith that the news had craved, the 'double tragedy of Belgrade' and how hopefully his family would lay his body next to his mother.
As Greggory expected, the DNA test came back positive. Everybody gave their condolences, everyone said they'd help him however they could. Greggory lost count of the amount of people who came up to him.
He pushed most reporters out of the door, but only until he knew that Peter was going.
Peter actually attended his own funeral.
He and Gamora were dressed as reporters (Gamora said she was getting sick of this itchy make-up) and he'd actually seen everything.
In fiction, it rained at funerals, but today was bright and clear. Peter still had to hold Gamora's hand as the tiny coffin was lowered into the ground and flowers were laid down.
He'd said goodbye to Greggory as he left that night, with Greggory staring back up at their spaceship as they set off. Peter promised he'd visit and would try to do so at least every six months. But other, more powerful aliens were always watching the Earth, he said, so he'd have to be careful.
As Peter left, Greggory couldn't help thinking, Meredith, watch over him. He's made you proud.
A/N: Sorry that I had to submit this again, but I was fixing some grammatical errors. I would love to hear your opinion on this story though. I really hope that you enjoyed it.