A/N: A teaser of what I hope will be my first original work. I hope you enjoy.

Chapter 21

Delgado and Mathews had been sent by Morrison to escort Shives back to the main group once he finished with the loading. It was pitch black, streaks of white from the flashlights giving off the positions of the two men. Morrision had a light of his own in his hand as did the rest of the guys. All they had to do was wait for the back-up generator to switch on. He decided to keep himself busy, "Hey, what's the word on the rookies?"

"Lightening nearly made them piss themselves," was the amused reply. "How are things back there? Sounded like something got hit."

"Just a power outage from the storm, everything's fine. We're waiting for the back-up to kick in. The shipments should have been loaded up by now, so guard duty's almost done. Keep the rooks busy until then."

"Got it." Morrison placed his radio back on his belt and leaned against one of the cargo containers, waiting to hear word on Delgado, Mathews, and Shives's return so he could inform Grant and they could all go home. He looked into the office Grant was currently occupying, a faint glow of golden light visible through the window. A candle, Morrison figured. The boss always did have a thing for horror movies.

At least he was keeping himself busy while they waited down here for the word that meant they could all go home. He knew to be especially patient. Three guys walking through a maze of cargo containers, didn't take a rocket scientist to figure it would take a while. But with all the flashlights shining through the dark, he was sure they could easily find their way back if they needed to. Though, not everyone involved in crime always had a great education, lest they be working in some fancy institution.

Though considering Parkson City's current state, that might not be an accurate statement, what with the high rate of unemployment. Sure, they had places built to make sure no one was homeless. But what was the point of an education if you couldn't capitalize on it? At least outside, in the rest of the country, a diploma meant something. You were more likely to get work depending your level of education out there, but in here you were lucky if you could work at the Farmer's Market.

So maybe that was why most of them chose to work for Grant's organization, because he created jobs for them. Sure they weren't legal jobs, but it put food on their families' tables and that's what mattered. Of course, Morrison had no wife or kids to worry about feeding. Why drag them into a life that would probably have ended up with multiple stints in prison with an eventual life sentence? Sure, he never imagined Grant would be able to dodge the cops for this long, but why get cozy now?

The more alert he was, the better he could respond if the situation went south.

He decided they should have been back by now, "Hey, Delgado, Mathews, what's the hold up? You two get lost or something?"

"No," Delgado answered. "We're at the container, all the stuff's accounted for but…"

"What is it?"

"Well," it was Mathews this time. "Shives isn't here."

"What do you mean? I told him to stay there and wait for you." Caution and annoyance crept into his voice; it wasn't like Shives to do something stupid, not on a night like tonight. If there was a problem, there weren't many who could stand up to a man of his appearance. Nearly six feet tall and built like freight truck, both arms sketched with tattoos. A shaved head and a thick beard only added to his intimidating stature.

"It's just that we don't see him," Delgado interrupted his thoughts. "We looked inside the container, nothing but the shipment in there." Morrison pinched the bridge of his nose trying to think of a reason why Shives would ignore his orders. When he couldn't think of one, he figured something might have caught his attention, but then why not call it in?

"Keep searching, he shouldn't have been able to get far," he replied. "And do a double take on the shipment, just in case he got any ideas." Once they gave their reply, he knew he had to report this to Grant, if he wasn't already listening in on their conversations. Still, he wanted to stay out here just in case they called back and told him the whole thing was a huge misunderstanding. He gestured for Travis to come over here.

"What is it?" he asked when he was close enough.

"Something's going on with Shives, might be nothing but I don't want to take the chance it's someone trying to mess with the op. You sure no one followed you?"

"Positive," he confirmed. "Besides, wouldn't your boys have found something by now? How do you it's not just Shives pulling some kind of joke?"

"Because he knows how important tonight is by the sheer fact the boss is here," Morrison hissed. "And he's never been one to risk an op by joking around. So either something's happened to him or he's trying to switch allegiances to whatever gangs are left in Parkson. Either way, I need to stay down here in case something happens, so I need you to report to Grant."

"Do I look like a messenger boy?" Travis raised a brow. "Why not get one of your other drones to do it?"

"Because we're not sure what's going on right now. What if it's the cops? You want Grant to think you tipped them off?" Travis was never one to be scared by threats, but the frown on his face told Morrison he'd comply. He sighed and turned to Grant's office, telling Rivera and Spivey to keep a look out. Meanwhile Morrison waited for anything on the radio, looking into the darkness, two white streaks of light cutting through to signal the position of Delgado and Mathews. He check with them again, "Anything?"

"Nothing yet," Delgado replied. "We checked the shipment again. From what we could tell, everything's there."

"Keep looking?"

"We're gonna be at this all night, aren't we?" Mathews groaned.

"If it bothers you, take it up with Grant."

Travis knocked on the door before entering to find Grant sitting in his office, a lone candle flickering through the darkness. It gave him an almost inhuman appearance and, judging from his hands forming a steeple and him leaning back in his chair, that was what he intended. If this had been a few years ago, Travis might have been frightened but today he was just amused.

"Read Stephen King, much?"

"Something to report, Officer Travis?" his sonorous voice cut through the darkness, face illuminated by the golden light of the candle.

"Morrison wanted you to know they're having a little trouble finding Shives."

Grant's dark eyes narrowed, "And the shipment?"

"They say it's all present and accounted for, but it's hard even with the flashlights. You think he might steal one and try to sell it?"

"Even if he did, it'd be useless for two reasons." Travis waited for Grant to explain the two reasons to him, but the man turned his chair toward the window. He could see the flashlights giving off his drones' positions. The two lights in the distance (Delgado and Mathews) searched through the maze of cargo containers.

"How do you want us to handle it?"

"Let's see if Mr. Shives hasn't merely misplaced himself before terminating his contract just yet." You could be Grant's most trusted employee, like Morrison, but if he thought for one second you'd double cross, he'd gut you like a fish. And he'd do it right in front of everyone. Travis could relate, he'd had to take care of some fellow officers whenever he got the suspicion they were either trying to make a name for themselves or sent by "Morality" Morales. At least he'd made sure their families were taken care of at the Policemen's Ball every year.

"You seem pretty calm tonight," he observed.

Grant smiled inwardly, "Even if the police have caught wind of my plans, their interference would only delay them. Besides, I intend to switch the materials as soon as we move them."

"Why not do it here?"

"I entertained the idea, until you brought those two rookie officers and the storm hit. No matter, I have all the time in the world."

"Speaking of the storm, shouldn't the emergency generator have kicked in by now?"

"Hmm…" Grant pondered the question. "It should have, perhaps the storm knocked it out as well but just to be safe…" He spoke into the radio, "One of you check out the back-up and find out why it hasn't kicked in yet. Delgado? Mathews? Anything yet?"

"No, sir," Delgado replied. "We've swept this whole maze and there's no sign of Shives!"

"The bastard must've have bailed on us," Mathews growled. "Probably took some of the stuff with him to!"

"Calm yourselves," Grant ordered. "Even if Mr. Shives has decided to part ways with our organization, he'll have trouble finding anyone who wishes to make an enemy out of me. And I doubt he'd go to police and risk having his visitation rights revoked. Get back to the rest of the group, we'll move the shipment in the morning as planned."

"Why not tonight?" Morrison asked. He was the only one Grant would let get away with questioning his instructions. He admired the man for his backbone.

"The storm's gotten too wild, so I doubt will be able to use the phones, and we can't risk the police listening in on cell phone conversations. For tonight, we're all stuck here." No one dared raise a complaint to Grant's statement and they all stayed put. He turned to Travis, "What do you want to do about your rookies?"

"Far as I'm concerned, a little wet work will do them some good," he shrugged. "Besides, the farther they are from this, the better, right?"

"Hmm," was the reply.

Delgado and Mathews retraced their steps as best they could, following the lights on the others side of the building. They were both in fearful anticipation of what would happen next when they returned empty handed. The boss hadn't sounded that mad, but there wasn't a man alive who'd seen Richard Grant when he exploded for real. And that was after Morrison had "spoken" with them about disappointing Mr. Grant. Delgado couldn't help but keep his pace slow.

He'd only been doing this for about a year now, working of earning enough money to get out of this city. It felt like the city was shrinking every day, he wanted to see buildings and not find a wall beyond them. Hell, he'd settle for a nice small town if it meant getting out of this almost-snow globe. He had some family on the outside that could get him a nice job and he could leave this all behind. Mathews' wasn't fairing any better.

He'd been a construction worker before the wall was built and his company moved on without him. With nothing that needed building in the city, he'd fallen into drinking up numerous tabs at bars. Grant's boys saved him from a beating one night and the man himself offered him a job. So it wasn't so much about money as he was paying debt to the man. He still had hard time believing Tommy was a turncoat.

He'd always been on the up and up, and despite looking a like big brute, he was pretty smart. Working against Richard Grant wasn't the smart things to do, not in his city. Besides he'd shared a few beers with the man. Alcohol could really make a guy spill his guts to you sometime. All he was trying to do was earn some money to send his kid to a good school outside this trap of a city.

That begged the question why he'd risked pissing off the boss and putting his kid in danger. Richard Grant was known to have an aversion to violence towards the young, but his other employees weren't. They'd do whatever was necessary to ensure compliance with them and while Tommy could hold his own, somehow they'd get to his kid. Mathews didn't waste any more time thinking about why Tommy had suddenly lost his mind when he realized he'd been left behind by Delgado. He cursed and pulled out his radio, "Hey, man, where'd you go?"

"What are you talking abou- Shit, how the hell did you get left behind?"

"I got lost in thought."

"Didn't your mother ever warn you against thinking for yourself?"

"Leave my momma outta this!"

"Whatever, just hurry up and get your ass over here, pronto!" He waved his light to signal where he was, a good ways ahead of him, and Mathews headed for the way. He hoped neither Morrison or Grant were listening in or they'd be in even more trouble than they were already in. He started into a jog, rounding every corner, while keeping an eye on the light. He turned another corner and almost tripped on something, stumbling for moment.

Cursing at the, apparently, invisible object, he looked back up to search for Delgado's light.

He couldn't see anything, "Hey, Delgado, where's the light?"

His only answer was silence. He tried again, "Hey man, what's wrong? Shine the light so I can find you."

There was still no answer, so he tried Morrison, "Hey, something's wrong, I can't find Delgado."

"What happened?" he snapped.

"I don't know! We got separated, he was shining his light so I could find him, I look away, and next thing I know, he's gone!"

"Hold on," Morrison seethed, frustration building. "Delgado? Can you hear me? Delgado!" He waited patiently for a reply, but none came. "Wait there and start flashing your light, I'll send someone to get you.

"Sure thing," he responded leaning, against a shipment container and flashing his light into the ceiling. Two lights departed from the group to join him. He couldn't shake the uneasy feeling from just sitting here while Shives and Delgado had up and disappeared. It made no sense. What in the world was going on?

Suddenly, he heard something, something that sounded like a distance tapping. More specifically, it sound like someone was running along the shipment crates. Heart beating, he flashed his light in the direction he heard the sound coming from. There was no one there, but he heard the sound again. He shined his light in the sound's direction again, but came up with the same result.

"Mathews?" Morrison sounded annoyed. "What are you doing?"

"I heard something," he answered. "It sounded like someone's on top of the crates."

Morrison scoffed, "You're letting your head play tricks on you. You're afraid to be alone in the dark so now you're hearing things."

"I don't know," he muttered, suddenly feeling like he should be very quiet. "I pretty sure it's not in my head." The sound grew louder until it stopped. Morrison looked to his right, squinting his eyes to make out some sort of figure. It was crouched on the shipment container. Its shape didn't seem… human.

Still, the words left before he realized it, "Shives? Delgado?" The figure turned its head to him, his breath catching. He could feel his heart beating against his chest as it rose to its full height. Mathews felt his body lock up, his mouth dry. He ignored Morrison's hails on the radio, gaze fixed on the figure before him.

Then, the lightning flashed, giving him a brief glimpse at what was before him before it went black again. Mathews' eyes widened as the figure disappeared with the lightning.