The following is an excerpt of a short story from my book Shades of Gray: Strange Tales from the Old Dominion, now available exclusively on Amazon Kindle. Order it today for only $2.99.
FBI Agent Annetta Nixon stood with her cell phone pressed against her ear at the crest of a hill near an abandoned Baptist church just outside of Norfolk. A sprawling cemetery rested a few yards behind the white, clapboard church, and a large neo-classical mausoleum sat in the middle of the cemetery. The setting sun painted the sky orange.
“I’m here,” the agent said. “I don’t see any activity.” She ran her free hand through her short, brunette hair and scanned the area with her well-trained eyes. “I’m going to proceed to the church—will report back if I find anything.”
She slapped her phone closed, slid it into her pocket, and moved that hand over the grip of her pistol just in case. Cautiously, she headed toward the church doors. Before she could determine whether the rusted chain around the handles was locked, the sharp wail of a siren pierced the air and a searchlight fell against the dirty white walls of the tabernacle. She sighed in frustration.
Two squad cars, one blue and one white, pulled up the driveway to the summit of the hill. Virginia Beach Police Department was painted on the side of the blue cruiser, and Norfolk Police Department on the side of the other. They stopped just behind Agent Nixon’s car, blocking her exit, and two uniformed men got out. One of their doors struck her vehicle, but neither police officer seemed to notice.
“Good evening ma’am,” the lead officer, who wore a dark blue shirt, said as he approached the church. The officer that followed wore a tan shirt, but the pair were both noticeably overweight.
Agent Nixon readied her badge. “My name is Annetta Nixon, FBI,” she said with authority. “Can I help you gentlemen?”
“We got a call about some vandals up here,” Kipp Leet, the lead officer, informed her.
“No one is supposed to be up here after dark,” the other officer, Ron O’Dell, a local Norfolk policeman, added.
Agent Nixon glanced up at the sky, which was still illuminated by the last rays of sunlight. “I’d say it’s a little early for a trespassing charge, isn’t it?” she asked with a touch of sarcasm. There was no response from either of the two police officers, so she continued. “I’m here to investigate the possible site of a meth lab,” she said. “If either of you would like to assist me that would be fine, but otherwise please stay out of my way.”
“Excuse me, but who gave you the authorization?” Officer Leet demanded. “This is a city matter. You don’t have jurisdiction here.”
“Wait a minute, Kipp,” Officer O’Dell interrupted. “Neither do you. This falls under my jurisdiction.”
“Says who?” Officer Leet asked as he adjusted his thick glasses and turned his attention to the other policeman.
“The city council voted two years ago to extend the city limits out this far so they could turn this here church into a landmark.”
“That was repealed last summer,” Leet insisted with an edge to his voice.
“Gentlemen!” Agent Nixon interrupted. “The entire country is my jurisdiction. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to look in this church.” She brushed the pair aside and grasped the old chain, which she found to be unlocked. Quickly, before the two men could protest, she threw open the doors. They creaked and groaned from strain, and dust sprinkled down from the ceiling above.
Agent Nixon turned on her flashlight and pointed the beam into the dark interior. At first she saw nothing, but then the beam fell on a trail of footprints that had been freshly made in the layer of dust that was spread across the wooden floor. “This is the FBI!” she yelled. “If anyone is in here, I suggest you show yourself immediately!” With no answer, she pulled open the door completely, allowing what little twilight remained to pour in.
She strolled inside the small building, with the two local police officers trailing cautiously behind. Cobwebs lay thick in the corners and dust covered the red-upholstered pews. The footprints on the floor led the trio straight down the center aisle to the altar, and to a strange collection of artifacts laid out in a circle on the carpet. Nixon knelt down and examined them closely.
“Just as I suspected,” she said, turning the rusted buttons, buckles, and bullets around in her hand.
Ron and the other police officer positioned themselves so that they looked at the artifacts from over the agent’s shoulders. “What?” Ron asked, skeptically. He didn’t believe this FBI agent knew as much as she tried to let on. “Let me guess, we’ve uncovered a rogue posse of antique dealers.”
“We always find these where meth dealers reside,” Agent Nixon replied, ignoring the officer’s last comment. “They go out and look for this stuff at battlefields when they’re strung out because they can’t sleep, but I’ve never seen any in a circle like this before.”
“I’ll be damned,” Kip mumbled.
“You just might, if you disturb those stones,” a gravelly voice yelled from somewhere behind the altar.
Read the exciting conclusion to this story and more in Shades of Gray: Strange Tales from the Old Dominion, now available exclusively on Amazon Kindle. Order it today.