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Gunfire. The noise startled Annie. She froze and cautiously looked around. She had left the room with the imprisoned girl. She was outside and there was a commotion. Nearby there were two police vehicles by a tree about ten yards away, both units were empty. There was an ambulance parked beyond the police cars. Annie found herself standing next to a building with grey wooden slats, some kind of shack or barn. The morning sun was just rising and the sky above still looked inky like a storm moving in. She stepped closer to the building looking for cover even knowing the bullets couldn’t harm her.

Annie watched as a man running from the back porch fell right after another shot sounded. He was sprawled motionless on the ground between the tree and the house he had been running away from. The sun flashed off of an object that flew from his hand as he fell. An officer ran to the motionless body. He touched the man’s neck to check for a carotid pulse, and then he looked up at another officer and shook his head. Using a latex glove he pulled from his pocket, the officer picked up the shiny object, a large butcher’s cleaver with brown stains on the sharp edge. Another officer brought over a bag and the cleaver was dropped into it. They turned the dead man onto his back and patted down his body looking for ID.

“There’s nothing.” One of the officers called out to another member of their law enforcement team.

Someone said a curse word behind her. It came from somewhere around the corner of the shed.

“We have no clue where the girl is. Or why he took her.” Dave was coming around the shed and shouting the information to the other officers.

Annie tucked herself even tighter against the wall of a weathered shed. She looked at the face of the man lying on the ground. “That’s not him.” She said aloud and shook her head as she stood next the wooden structure.

“What did you say?” Dave stopped short when he saw her. He cleared the corner of the shed just in time to hear her words. Dave looked puzzled.

Annie looked at him terrified. He was looking directly at her.

“Who are you? How did you get in here?” He pointed the handgun he pulled from his side holster at her. “What are you doing here?”

Annie stared back at him. Her eyes were wide.

“I asked you a question.” His words were curt.

She paused and looked at the gun in his hand. “You can see me?” She sounded surprised.

He frowned. “Of course I can see you. What the hell?” Dave raised his handgun. “Where is the girl?”

“I don’t understand…” Annie shook her head. “How can you see me?”

“Don’t play games. I asked you a question.” He paused deliberately between each word wondering who this girl was. He only knew from Gayle’s driver’s license that it wasn’t her.

“Hey Boss, there’s no one in the house.” One of the police officers ran from the back door of the house to Dave. Dave’s partner, Tim, followed. They looked at his raised handgun curiously. “Everything okay, Boss?”

Dave realized that neither man acknowledged the woman he was speaking to. “Yeah.” He slowly lowered the handgun. “Any sign of the girl?”

They both shook their heads.

He was puzzled that no one else questioned how she got past their cars without anyone seeing. He was skeptical but it seemed as if no one else could see her.

“There… there’s another guy.” Annie said the words out loud.

Dave heard her, the others didn’t. “Look for another guy.” Dave felt compelled to repeat her words.

“In here.” Annie motioned to the shed they were standing next to. “There’s a secret room.”

Dave hesitated. Then he turned to the other officers. “Check the shed out. Look for a hidden door or something.” He looked at his partner, “Make sure there’s no other way out.” He looked back at Annie.

Dave and the other officer stood on both sides of the front shed door, both of them drew their guns in anticipation of danger. Dave nodded and his partner went to kick the door in. Before he could touch it, the door exploded outwards in splinters and the man with the dirty T-shirt that Annie had seen berating the girl burst out and attacked the two lawmen.

The three men scuffled. Dave quickly had the man pinned face down. He yanked his hands behind his back and cuffed him. “Where is the girl?”

Tim ran back around the shed when he heard the commotion, but stood back when he saw that Dave had everything under control.

“Fuck you.” Angry man spoke into the dirt.

“No, fuck you, dirt bag.” Dave pushed the suspect’s face into the ground. Dave spoke to his partner. “Look for some kind of a secret room,” he glanced back at Annie.

She remembered the musty odor; it reminded her of the root cellar at her uncle’s farm. “It’s underneath the shed.”

Dave sighed, he felt like he was losing his mind and then he repeated her words again, “Check underneath the shed. Look for a trap door in the floor.”

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