After Dark: Chicago Fire (Science Fiction Anthalogies Book 2)

BOOK: After Dark: Chicago Fire (Science Fiction Anthalogies Book 2)
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After Dark

Chicago Fire

 

By
Mark Lee Ryan

 

 

Copyright

Copyright
© 2016 by Mark Lee Ryan

Cover and internal design © Mark Lee
Ryan

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form
or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and
retrieval systems – except in the case of brief quotations in articles or
reviews – without the permission in writing from its publisher, Mark Lee Ryan.

All brand names and product names used in this book are trademarks,
registered trademarks, or trade names of their respective holders. We are not
associated with any product or vendor in this book.

 

Preface

Jeremy Patten discovers that he has a
very unusual and unique skill. When Jeremy falls asleep he enters a world, a
dream world where those around him are like him – asleep, but the stark
difference is that Jeremy is conscious of the world he enters and unlike
everyone else is able to bring realism to the dream world he has entered.

When Jeremy enters a dream he is able
to play out whatever role he wants almost as if he is carrying out his day time
life by two; one life by day and one life at night, where in the latter, his
body and mind transcends to a new world. Jeremy starts to understand the power
he possesses, and in turn learns to manipulate his powers to bring justice and
correction in people’s life.

‘Chicago Fire’, is the second book in
the After Dark series and follows on from, ‘The Story Begins’. Chicago Fire
continues the romance between the main character Jeremy Patten and Tara Shield,
and sees Jeremy uncover and help solve a number of interwoven mysteries, many
years after the great Chicago fire. Utilising his unique skill the story twists
and turns until Jeremy eventually helps bring justice to those haunted by the
tragedy.

 

Chapter
1

Jeremy doesn’t know why he is
wandering down Chancery Lane, but having cleared his thoughts he has been
summoned and faces the red front door of No. 23. Before he has time to think
about knocking, the door opens and he is greeted with, ‘Hello Jeremy. Thank you
for meeting me.’ An upbeat and broadly smiling Julie Nancarrow introduces
herself and shakes Jeremy’s hand before inviting him into her large apartment,
located in the upper market area of Bridgeport.

‘Hello Julie. It’s nice to meet you. I
gather you have something you wish to share with me? Jeremy adds. ‘Yes, yes I
do. My family and I are haunted by a mystery, and whilst we concede that our
father Thomas Stevens decided to leave, it still hurts, when we have had no
contact from Dad in over 36 years.’ Jeremy can see that Julie is saddened by
the circumstances but needs to know more. ‘Julie, let’s start from the
beginning and tell me everything’, Jeremy diplomatically asks.

‘Jeremy have you ever heard of the
great Chicago fire that occurred in June 1980 in Lincoln Square?’ Julie asks.
Jeremy thinks for a moment and then adds, ‘No. That was before I moved to
Chicago. In fact Julie, I can’t say I’ve even heard it mentioned.’ Julie looks
into Jeremy’s eyes and with little emotion she replies, ‘I think Chicago has
had that many crimes and events of significance that some just don’t get
brought up. In any event it is a long time ago now and well, time moves on.’
She continues and adds, ‘My Dad was one of three land owners within the large
industrial estate, and all three ran large businesses within that land holding.
Dad owned a steel manufacturing company and it was big. Really big! Neither
Dad, nor his two partners wanted to sell. So it’s hard to understand really,
but the story goes that the three of them burnt the property down, collected
the insurance monies and then all three left town. Dad had separated from Mum,
but to this day I have never heard from him and neither have my brother and sister.
Its gut wrenching, not knowing why he would choose to desert us and move on.’
Jeremy could see the pain in Julie’s eyes.

Julie explains that her parents had a
messy and bitter separation so her mother doesn’t really care about her father,
and has since remarried. Julie adds that with two young children she would love
them to know their grandfather who Julie says would now be in his late sixties,
and she too never really had time to get to know him. His partners were similar
age and the three were very close, so in some ways it would make sense that if
they decided to leave Chicago they would all do the same, she adds. Jeremy
leaves Julie, but he knows that they will meet again and he is keen to help.
She walks him to the door, thanks him and the pair say their good-byes as
Jeremy slowly wanders the dimly lit street.

Keen to get answers Jeremy focuses his
attention. He focuses on Thomas Stevens. No sooner has he focused on Thomas and
he looks around surprised to be back in his apartment. Jeremy looks around and
shakes his head. This is a first he thinks to himself. Normally when I focus, I
end up walking a street, facing a door, meeting in a park? Jeremy shakes his
head again, sits at his kitchen bench and ponders what has gone wrong. He again
focuses on Thomas Stevens. He really focuses. He looks around but still remains
in his own living room. Jeremy cannot understand what’s wrong. He decides to
focus on Thomas Stevens, partner Richard Walker and goes through the same
routine focusing and clearing his mind, shutting his eyes. He expects to open
his eyes and be walking a street, a road that is new but again he simply
remains in his apartment. Jeremy is dumb founded. What is wrong he wonders?
Jeremy starts to think that the power he had has been lost. Lost and he is now
a mere mortal again!

He sits and stares around the room, pondering
and assessing the situation. He decides to focus on the third partner Tony
Sunderland. He concentrates and clears his mind but again opens his eyes only
to look around at the familiar surroundings of his own apartment. Jeremy starts
to think that what was a unique skill, has been lost. He is back to plain
Jeremy! He sits in his lounge room and starts to convince himself that the
power he controlled is lost. Jeremy starts feeling sorry for himself. He feels
that whatever grasp of power he possessed was short lived…..and it hurts to
think that it has gone.   

He sits back and his mind clears.
Jeremy gives some thought briefly to Julie Nancarrow, and  resigned to the fact
that his powers have deserted him, sighs and clears his mind. He stares at the
ceiling, thinking of nothing, he just stares. Then Jeremy is jolted as he finds
himself walking, he looks up at the street sign that reads Third Street. Third
Street he thinks. Where am I? He walks toward a block of apartments and is soon
facing Unit 3, and before he can contemplate where he is, the door opens. A
woman looks at Jeremy and says, ‘Hello Jeremy, I have been expecting you. How
are you?’ Jeremy is dumb founded and whilst pleased that his powers have
returned is miffed as to who this woman is. ‘I am Lauren. Lauren Wilks,’ the
woman introduces herself as.

Jeremy is polite, but still confused
and adds, ‘Hello. Sorry, but can you please explain who you are and why you
have summoned me? ‘I’m Lauren Wilks but before I changed my name I was Lauren
Sunderland.’ Jeremy is still confused, and looking Lauren in the eye asks,
‘Lauren, I don’t understand. Then he ponders and adds, ‘Lauren Sunderland? Are
you Tony Sunderland’s wife?’ Lauren looks at Jeremy and then after a long pause
adds, ‘Yes, I was married to Tony Sunderland. Well, until he was murdered.’
‘Murdered, murdered, what on earth are you saying Lauren? I mean wow, where,
what….I mean what are you saying?’ Jeremy stumbles and seizing upon Lauren’s
words is now shocked at what he is hearing.

Lauren composes herself and allows
enough time for Jeremy to similarly get a grip of the situation. ‘My husband
was murdered. I know that and hence the reason I moved here to Elmwood Park,
changed my name and started a new life in the hope that those who pursued Tony
would not know where to find me.’ Jeremy was still in shock. Whoa, he thought.
‘So why do you think this Lauren?’ ‘Think. Think this? Lauren laughs, but is
clearly upset. ‘Jeremy, I know that my husband’s life was taken because he
would not sell his business, and he spoke of being pressured. I know that he
was scared and I believe strongly that Richard and Thomas too may have been
murdered, because none of them wanted to sell. I don’t know exactly what happened.
Tony and I had gone through some rough times but I moved here in fear that
those who pressured Tony, Richard and Thomas may want to harm me.    

Jeremy feels for Lauren but after some
time advises her that it is time for him to be off. She thanks him and he
slowly heads down the street, trying to piece things together.

 

Chapter 2

As Jeremy enters the Old Coffee Stop
sitting directly in from the door is Tara and Mrs. Dooley. ‘Good morning’, Jeremy
brightly declares. Tara and Mrs. Dooley smile and invite him to join them.
‘Well you two look as though you are getting along,’ he adds. Jeremy notices
that Mrs. Dooley looks sprite and Tara too is clearly pleased to be in the
company of the old lady. The trio chat for a half hour before Jeremy announces
that he must head off to the office of Carter Gibson. Tara looks at her watch,
gives Mrs. Dooley a quick hug and a kiss and stands to leave also.

As Jeremy and Tara leave Mrs. Dooley
and slowly walk to work, he asks if she would like to join him for dinner this
evening. ‘Sure,’ she replies quickly, ‘Let’s go to D’Angelo’s Café that seems a
nice venue?’ Jeremy smiles, ‘That sounds perfect. Can we meet around 6.30?’ Tara
smiles and says, ‘I will look forward to it.’ She gives Jeremy a quick peck on
the cheek, and turns to head in her direction to work. Jeremy can barely hide
his delight and cannot wait to meet at the end of the day.

Jeremy has a reasonably busy day
ahead. He has a meeting to plan with his boss Matthew Warren and later in the
day has to visit the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. Jeremy’s boss Matthew was
recently promoted to partner following his investigative work that helped solve
the Big Diamond Jewellery heist. And as a partner Matthew is now involved in
bigger cases and that means that Jeremy too is being exposed to more
interesting assignments. This morning the pair is planning for a presentation
by the Superintendent of Chicago police, Ryan Golding which is scheduled for the
following day. Matthew and Jeremy have been planning for weeks and all partners
and lawyers will be present, so Matthew is keen to impress and wants to ensure
that all angles are covered. The two go over seating arrangements, double check
what electronic and technological equipment will be needed and more.

‘Jeremy I am excited about tomorrow
and need you to ensure that the Superintendent is made welcome. The firm hasn’t
had a senior police officer present to the firm on matters impacting the city
for nearly two years, so Senior Partner Brian Topping is very keen to ensure
that everything goes smoothly,’ Matthew tells him. Jeremy has heard the same
little speech several times over in the past few days, but knows that Matthew
is nervous and clearly out to impress given that it his first assignment as a
new partner.     

The meeting labours and Jeremy considers
that every possible issue and arrangement has been considered and catered for.
He has some property transactions he needs to attend to on behalf of Carter
Gibson so he decides to use his time wisely at the Cook County Recorder of
Deeds and researches the land ownership for the Lincoln Square industrial site.
The transactions by nature are messy but Jeremy soon discovers that all of Tony
Sunderland, Richard Walker and Thomas Stevens had leases for the respective
businesses that they operated. The land is over several titles as it is a large
holding and is currently registered to SD Properties private company, a company
owned principally by Scott Dawson. The land has since been developed and
comprises a large Shopping Centre and park, which borders a Retirement Village
and substantial up market residential area.   

Jeremy makes some brief notes and
walking back to the office contemplates where he can gather more information.
He is puzzled by the events, but senses that the trio of Walker, Sunderland and
Stevens had their own reasons for moving on. He decides that this evening he
will focus a meeting with John Mason, the retired Police Sergeant who conducted
the investigation and also Larry Charlesworth the Insurance assessor.

The day has been busy but the
afternoon drags for Jeremy. His mind is focused on the great Chicago fire and
those that he had met with, but he is keen to meet Tara. Since she has been
introduced to her grandmother Mrs. Dooley, Jeremy has seen less of her as
grandmother and granddaughter are keen to make up for lost time. He is pleased
that they have been united and knows that Tara is particularly excited every
time she mentions she is catching up with her grandmother. But for Jeremy the
evening is their first dinner date and he is very keen to see her and spend
time alone.

D’Angelo’s Café is the perfect venue.
The café is intimate with its separate dining booths and the dimly lit room gives
it a romantic feel. Jeremy is early, and waits patiently for Tara to make an
entrance, and that she does dressed immaculately, and with a broad beaming
smile she soon spots him and sits down. The couple chat for ages and Tara is
happy to share that she is enjoying her time with Mrs. Dooley, which Jeremy
already knows, but he listens on intently and nods where appropriate. He is
slowly starting to see Tara open up to him more, confide in him and generally
trust him.

Tonight she speaks about her father
for the first time. ‘Jeremy, you know that having found my grandmother I also
found out about my real father? Well, I have contemplated whether I should
visit him. What do you think? She speaks in a softly spoken and enquiring voice
that genuinely begs Jeremy’s input. Jeremy weighs up the situation before
offering his opinion. He pauses. He knows that it is a delicate topic. Tony
Draper has only recently been jailed for his role in a jewellery heist after he
had spent ten years of freedom. At around that time Tara’s mother decided to
share with her that Tony was in fact her father following an affair, and Mrs.
Dooley Tony’s mother. ‘I think you should do whatever your heart tells you.’ He
finally adds.

The discussion went back and forth
most of the evening and by the time their main meals had come and almost gone,
Tara realises that she had allowed the subject to dominate the evening. ‘I’m
sorry Jeremy. I have most likely bored you being so self-absorbed.’ ‘Not at
all!’ he replies in a comforting tone. ‘I am happy to discuss anything Tara,
really anything. I am just delighted to be with you.’ Tara smiles and gently
rubs Jeremy’s arm acknowledging his support and he is flattered that he has
been able to help.

The evening is a success and the
conversation flows. Tara decides to change the conversation mindful of what she
has just said and they banter back and forth before deciding to retire for the
evening. It is a warm evening and Jeremy walks slowly with Tara escorting her
back to her apartment. The two are slowly starting to get to know each other
and Tara gives Jeremy a big kiss and hug before saying good night and leaving
Jeremy as she enters her apartment block. 

 

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