Gone at Zero Hundred 00:00

BOOK: Gone at Zero Hundred 00:00
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GONE

AT

ZERO HUNDRED
00:00

 

 

McSwain & Beck, the reluctant sleuths

 

 

 

 

CR HIATT

 

 

No part of this book may be
reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,
including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval
system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

 

AMB

C & C

 

 

Massachusetts

 

Copyright
©
by CR Hiatt

 

 

 

Printed in the United States of
America

Author’s
Note

 

Sutter Beach and Tesoro Island are fictional locations
fabricated in the author’s imagination, and used for this series, only.
Military bases, military ships and submarine museums—used in stated locales—are
also fabricated for purposes of the series, only. Any names, characters,
places, and incidents, or other locations depicted are also products of the
author’s imagination or used factiously, and any resemblance to actual persons
living or dead, events, or locales is coincidental.

 

Contents

Author’s
Note
. 3

ONE
.. 6

TWO
.. 2

THREE
.. 4

FOUR
.. 6

FIVE
.. 8

SIX
.. 10

SEVEN
.. 12

EIGHT
.. 14

NINE
.. 16

TEN
.. 18

ELEVEN
.. 20

TWELVE
.. 22

THIRTEEN
.. 24

THIRTEEN
.. 26

FIFTEEN
.. 28

SIXTEEN
.. 30

SEVENTEEN
.. 31

EIGHTEEN
.. 33

NINETEEN
.. 34

TWENTY
.. 35

TWENTY-ONE
.. 37

TWENTY-TWO
.. 38

TWENTY-THREE
.. 39

TWENTY-FOUR
.. 41

TWENTY-FIVE
.. 42

TWENTY-SIX
.. 43

TWENTY-SEVEN
.. 44

TWENTY-EIGHT
.. 47

TWENTY-NINE
.. 49

THIRTY
.. 50

THIRTY-ONE
.. 52

THIRTY-TWO
.. 53

THIRTY-THREE
.. 54

THIRTY-FOUR
.. 56

THIRTY-FIVE
.. 57

THIRTY-SIX
.. 58

THIRTY-SEVEN
.. 59

THIRTY-EIGHT
.. 61

THIRTY-NINE
.. 62

FORTY
.. 64

FORTY-ONE
.. 65

FORTY-TWO
.. 67

FORTY-THREE
.. 69

FORTY-FOUR
.. 69

FORTY-FIVE
.. 71

FORTY-SIX
.. 73

FORTY-SEVEN
.. 75

FORTY-EIGHT
.. 76

FORTY-NINE
.. 78

FIFTY
. 80

FIFTY-ONE
.. 82

FIFTY-TWO
.. 83

FIFTY-THREE
.. 84

FIFTY-FOUR
.. 86

FIFTY-FIVE
.. 88

FIFTY-SIX
.. 90

FIFTY-SEVEN
.. 92

FIFTY-EIGHT
.. 94

FIFTY-NINE
.. 95

SIXTY
.. 97

SIXTY-TWO
.. 99

FIREWORKS ON
THE 4TH
.. 103

First Two Chapters
. 103

ONE
.. 103

TWO
.. 105

 

 

PROLOGUE

 

Amber Cutter

 

 

 

THE MAN was out hunting for a new victim. He scoured the
streets of Hollywood, California, in search of the runaways that wouldn’t be missed.
He noticed eighteen-year-old, Amber Cutter, the minute she stepped off the bus
from Sweetwater, Tennessee. He didn’t know if she ran away from a troubled
home, or if she was just another wannabe actress vying for a spot on a reality
show,
American Idol
, or one of the many talent shows, hoping for her
fifteen minutes of fame? They all came to hang out near the
Hollywood Walk
of Fame
hoping to get their big break.

He smirked. He didn’t care. She was the one he wanted.

He continued to watch her.

Follow her.

Stalk her.

She was a tall and thin brunette beauty with sparkling amber
eyes, and a look of innocence that summoned his attention. She was new to the
streets, so she was feisty, but that would change. After a few days, he was
familiar with her routine, where she hid her stash of money, which alleys and
doorways she chose to sleep.

On the seventh night when she fell asleep, he paid a vagrant
to steal her money. On the tenth he paid someone to steal her belongings. On
the fifteenth he paid someone to rough her up, but avoid leaving any visible
marks.

Soon, she wouldn’t have food, or money to buy more. Soon, she
wouldn’t be able to sleep, for fear of what might happen when she did. He could
take her now, but she still had a fire in her. He’d wait until desperation set
in. Desperation made them hunger for anything other than the streets.

After a few weeks, he knew it was time. She had been hungry
for days, rifling through dumpsters for scraps, sleeping in parks during
daylight hours. At dusk, he made his move. She was walking aimlessly about,
looking in the doorways of the shops for a place to feel safe, to close her
eyes for just a moment. The wop - wop - wop - wop sound of an LAPD chopper
hovered overhead drowning out the sounds on the street.

The man retrieved a handkerchief, with an acrid-smelling
substance on it. When there wasn’t anyone around to care, he approached Amber
from behind, wrapped an arm around her slender frame and placed the rag over
her mouth.

Shocked, but not beaten, she struggled to fight him off. She
kicked and punched, but he was too strong, the smell overpowering. When she was
limp as a rag doll, he tossed her over his shoulders and carried her to the
white Cadillac Escalade ESV, with a driver waiting nearby.

To the vagrants on the street who might have noticed the
expensive white car, or the occupants who looked like models off the cover of a
popular magazine, it was just another person picking up a runaway sibling.

There wouldn’t be anyone out looking for Amber.

There wasn’t anyone who cared.

Soon, she would be long forgotten.

Now, she belonged to The Privileged Ones.

 

 

ONE

 

 

 

 

AN ARMED mercenary shoved Ace Carter
face-down on the floor of a decrepit cell in a run-down prison somewhere in Mexico.
Ace did a quick recon of the hell hole looking for a way to escape. All he saw
were concrete floors of ash and walls without any windows. It looked like the
place had been burned to a crisp, but was still left standing. Rats and
cockroaches scurried into the hall at the prospect of new roommates.

“Nice joint,” Ace said sarcastically.

I wasn’t too far behind. “Get your
filthy hands off me, you brute,” I yelled at the other merc who held me over
his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. I kicked, screamed, pulled at his
thick-greasy hair, dug my nails into his neck and finally, bit a chunk out of
his ear.

The merc dropped me to the ground,
and yelled out in pain.

I spit the chunk of skin out onto the
pavement, and was threatened by the barrel of a rifle from another merc.

“Slava, she bit off my ear!” the merc
whined. He grabbed his ear to stop the blood and scrounged around like a madman
looking for the missing section.

That’s when the meanest looking dude
I had ever seen stepped into view. Slava’s bulging muscles were so huge he
could have been a member of the WWE Wrestler’s Association. His black hair was
pulled back into a pony-tail, revealing a tattoo on his right temple: Live
Fast, Die Young. The pupils of his eyes were black and looked like shiny, glass
marbles.

“You can’t abduct innocent people off
the street,” I hissed at him. Pretty brazen for an eighteen-year-old girl, or
pretty stupid, some might say.

Slava gave me an amused look and
waived his hands around, motioning toward the dismal surroundings I was now in.
“My dear, it appears I can.”

Ace said, “Let me handle this, Syd.”
He glared at Slava, while continuing to size up the situation out of the corner
of his eyes. I’ve seen him do that before. It amazes me, the uncanny way he can
see the area around him, while he appears to be focused on what is directly in
front of him.

 “Couldn’t you have handled it
before we landed in here?” I countered.

Slava snorted. “She doesn’t know,
does she?”

I glanced at Slava; then back at Ace
with a look of confusion on my face. “What? What don’t I know?”

Slava roared with laughter.
“Priceless. You Americans…”

“Ace…?”

Ace helped me to my feet. “Syd,
there’s no easy way to tell you this. I - I’m a spy… and …. I’m your father.”

I stared at him for what felt like an
eternity, but was probably only a matter of seconds. “Y - you’re what?” I spat
out at him with a mixture of confusion and curiosity at the same time. I
clenched my fists at my side, trying to control my anger. Ace Carter my dad?

Slava watched the exchange with
amusement. The other mercs chuckled.

“I just turned eighteen, and this is
the first I’m hearing of it?”

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