Daniel Spencer lives a charmed life in his hometown of Broken Hill, Australia. He enjoys the support and friendship of his large extended family, the satisfaction of a high-paying job, and the love of Amy, his wonderful girlfriend. As he prepares to propose, he knows that his life will change in ways he could never imagine. He has no idea how right he is.
At a family gathering, Daniel proposes, and Amy says yes-only to watch his world shatter as masked gunmen murder every member of his family in front of him, including his new fiancée. Even though he alone escapes with his life, something else has died in him-and something else is born in its place.
Now Daniel must decide just how far he will go to avenge his lost family, his lost future, his lost love. In Broken Hill, things are no longer as they seem. The night hides darker secrets than most can imagine. When night drowns the city, hell comes out to play. What will emerge from the cracks in the earth to drag the light and life from the residents of this once-peaceful town?
Welcome to Broken Hill.
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DRAG THEM DOWNThe Falling of an Angel
By SARAH KNIPE
BALBOA PRESSCopyright © 2013 Sarah Knipe
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe sunlight frayed between the blinds in their bedroom. The radio on the nightstand clicked over to seven o'clock in the morning. "In news, Broken Hill's mayor, Stacy Lee, made comments on the drug ring in the inner city—"
"I'm sick of the government," said Amy as she reached back from the radio.
"That's only 'cos you're smarter than them," said Daniel, slowly waking up.
Amy chuckled. "And don't you forget." She grabbed her pillow and hit him with it.
After the second hit, Daniel sat up and took it off her. Amy couldn't help but laugh. Daniel pulled Amy into his arms. Daniel smiled and kissed her. "I love you," he said as he pulled back.
"I know," she said softly. Daniel fell back down into bed like a bag of bricks. Amy raised an eyebrow and then leaned into his ear. "I'm going to have a shower now," she whispered. She got up and started to undress on her way to the bathroom. Daniel popped his head up from the pillow, watching her. She turned back as he jumped out of bed and both rushed to the shower.
After their shower, Amy got dressed and went to make breakfast as Daniel stayed in the bathroom to shave.
A bit later, he came out of the bedroom while buttoning up his white shirt. He could smell eggs and onions frying in a pan. Amy was at the kitchen bench cutting up chives for her omelette. Daniel walked up to Amy and wrapped his arm around her.
"You do know I'm holding a knife," she said as she chuckled.
"You wouldn't know what to do with it," he said with a sigh.
"Oh yeah?" She dropped the knife on the cutting board and turned to him. His blue eyes met with her green eyes as she ran her hand through his short, black hair. He leaned in closer and kissed her. I could stay like this forever, she thought.
As they started to get into it a bit more, a buzzing noise from Daniel's pocket pulled him away for her.
"Well, that was quick," she said jokingly.
Daniel sighed as he pulled his phone out and looked at the caller ID. "Chris," he said with a sigh. "Hi, man. What's up? ... Uh huh ... Uh huh. But it's Saturday, man ... Fine, I'll see you soon."
Daniel sighed and looked at Amy with puppy dog eyes.
"Oh just go." She waved him off.
"You're the best," he said as he kissed her on the cheek and left.
It was a half-hour drive to Chris's house. It was located on the other side of Broken Hill, just on the edge of the inner city. The inner city was full of towering buildings that watched over the cold, concrete land. The outer city, where Daniel lived, was all housing: small, old, bricked shops and heavy, gated schools. It surrounded the inner city most of the way and then cut off at a lake that ran up to Sydney.
Broken Hill was known for only one thing everywhere else: its prison. Gated between Broken Hill to the rest of the state was a prison that stretched along most of the south and west part of the city. It was the biggest prison in the world. It was also the most high-tech prison around. Its light-grey stone walls housed the most dangerous people in Australia. No one had ever escaped, and Broken Hill's people were told that no one ever would.
Daniel was born here and had only known this place alone. In a strange way, he always felt safe seeing the prison's peaks—it felt like no one could get to him.
As he got to the halfway point of the drive, he passed his work. Linkin Tower stood between Broken Hill Bank and Basewood Tower (owned by some rich bastard). Linkin was a healthcare company that the government bought for the city to use as its main healthcare system. Daniel worked as a computer programmer for Linkin. He started work here just after he finished uni and had been working for five years now.
Beside him as he worked sat Chris Nortan. Chris was also a computer programmer and had started working at Linkin around the same time as Daniel. Over the time, they became good friends, but Chris never really went out with him. Being work friends is where it stayed. Chris was a very enclosed person and didn't really talk to many people, unless he had to.
Daniel pulled into Chris's driveway, behind Chris's sedan, and got out of the car. The house looked clean and opened on the outside. It had a tall, green hedge at the very front, gating the house off until the driveway and a carport that led to the back.
Daniel walked through the front door; there was no need to knock since Chris never really cared for that kind of thing. The front door led into a wide-open room. A long desk sat straight in front, and a sofa and TV on top of a wooden cabinet were to the right of him. To Daniel's left was a hallway going off the lines of rooms, and just past the sofa was a kitchen. At the desk were three computers lined up along it. The dim glow lit up the top of a man's forehead and then his glasses. Daniel could hear typing from behind it and muttering.
As he moved up closer, the typing stopped, and a chair with a man on it pulled out from behind it. The man had a straight face and his glasses just hung from the very end of his nose. His whole body was very skinny; the bones were pushing along the revealed skin. "About time," he said.
Daniel shrugged and folded his arms. "You said you needed me to see something." The man just stared at him. "Earth to Chris." Daniel waved his hand in front of Chris's face.
Chris raised an eyebrow and pointed to his computer. "I've done it," Chris said smugly.
"Finished it ... the AI."
"Really, really. Come on then, you have to try it." Chris moved out of the way so Daniel could grab a chair from the kitchen and sit down in front of the computer.
Chris had a very high IQ and loved computers; Daniel always thought Chris slept embraced with one. For the last three years, Chris has worked on making an AI search system that could find anyone in the world with a click of a button. It would use various information from other computers to find someone. Even if that person had tried to hide from the world, this AI could find them, said Chris.
Daniel looked at the black box in the centre of the screen.
"Go on then, type in a name," said Chris.
Daniel could tell he was jumping up and down inside.
Daniel put his hands over the keyboard and stopped to think of a name. He gave up and typed his own: "Daniel Johnathan Spencer." And then he pressed enter.
The screen blinked up with all the possible names to match that it found. There was only him and one other name that said, "John Daniel Spencer." He clicked on his name and a load of his personal information came up: where he lived, his parents' contact details, info on Amy, where he went to school, what injuries he had had through his life ... It was endless. Daniel was amazed.
"I got almost every computer in Broken Hill hooked up, even the ones at the hospital and police station," Chris said.
"I know, right. Amazing."
Daniel shook his head. "No, illegal," he said with a chuckle. "If work finds out what you're doing, you could lose your job."
"They won't find out, not yet at least."
"So what if I did decide to run away one day? You could find me?" Daniel started to become more curious.
Chris looked overjoyed as he explained. "Basically, if you left and I wanted to find you, I'd type your name in and I'd get all the info about your life. Then I would go into advanced search. This brings your life in even more detail, so your bank account details, credit cards, passwords you've used over the years to access accounts, blah blah blah. And then what that does is it helps me to pinpoint your location. Say if you needed to start a new bank account with a new alias. If the alias, account number, or name is similar to the original one, I've got you. Even if you just rented out a room and paid in cash, I would use the time of your disappearance and the time estimated to reach anything around. I could pinpoint the areas you could be in."
Chris released a big breath.
"So yes is your answer then?" Daniel said, smirking.
Chris just stared.
Daniel moved away from the computer. "Well, I need to get back home. I got a party tonight."
Chris looked strangely at him. "I wasn't invited."
Daniel waved him off. "It's a family party. Unless you have some way of finding out that we're related, you're not going."
Chris just kept staring without a word. "I'll see you Monday."
Daniel patted Chris on the shoulder and walked out to his car.
Chapter TwoAmy was in the kitchen, prepping for the BBQ tonight. She looked outside to see Daniel on the patio, where he was trying to get the BBQ started. Daniel was throwing a fit and started to kick the barbecue and curse. Amy smiled with amusement and continued prepping.
She caught a tune in her mind and started to hum it. It was a song that her grandmother had taught her when she was six. The song was a Christian prayer that many believed would help lead a person's loved ones to God.
Amy was raised Christian. She always had strong memories of her childhood in churches. She found the churches breathtakingly beautiful and peaceful. She would wake up at four in the morning and ride her pushbike to the church. She would stand right in the centre of the aisle way and watch the sun warm the Lord's face. She could swear that she'd seen him smile as the light walked along his face.
Daniel didn't believe in a higher power, which saddened Amy, knowing that he may not be there with her in the afterlife. It was a little too much for her to bear.
She had fallen head over heels for him in the last year of high school. Amy had just moved to Broken Hill and didn't really think she would fit in, until two weeks later, when she thought it was the best thing her mother ever did for them. She was an only child and was raised by her mother. Her father died in the Iran war when she was two. She never really knew him. All she had was a photo of him holding her when she was born.
Her mother had passed away almost two years ago. She had never really gotten over it, but having Daniel at her side helped. She prayed every day so when she left this world, she would be at peace with her family. She was reminded of her mother every day by the necklace she gave to her when she was thirteen. The necklace dangled from her neck in front of her. It was a full pearl cross. She could remember her mother wearing it through her memories, but they were just flashes of thoughts. She didn't know if they were real or not.
Amy grabbed the plate of prepped food and walked outside.
"Come on. Damn you, work." Daniel kicked the BBQ.
Amy laughed. "I can't believe you'd be so mean to it. It hasn't done anything to you."
"That's the problem."
Amy walked up to him and kissed him. She pulled back to the sound of a knock at the front door. Daniel grabbed her and kissed her again. "Let's not answer it," he said while kissing her neck.
"But where's the fun in that?" She pulled him away again and went to the door.
She opened it up to about twenty smiling faces.
"Hello, love," said Daniel's mother at the very front of the pack.
Amy said hi as she gave her a hug. "Please come in."
An hour passed before the last of the family members turned up and before any of the food was done. Daniel's family members were spread all outside: around the pool, at the table on the patio, and around the backyard.
Daniel's father, Bill, finally got the BBQ started and finished cooking half of the meat.
"I wish you'd let me do that, Dad."
"Nonsense. You have to go and save Amy from your aunt before she goes insane."
"But then she wouldn't know how I've felt for the last twenty-five years."
Bill chuckled. "You're not wrong about that. You seem really chirpy."
"I guess I just got something really ... really great that I'm going to do."
"Oh, and what is it?"
"You'll have to wait and see now, won't you?" Daniel patted Bill on the back and walked into the crowd of family.
After dinner, Daniel grabbed his glass and a fork and stood up on his chair. "Everyone," he said loudly. "Everyone, can I have your attention please?" Everyone turned to look at him. "Amy, could you join me for a sec?"
She looked at him perplexed and walked up to him.
He jumped down from the chair and held Amy's hand. "I would just like to say thank you for coming. It's great seeing you all again."
"Not for us," said one of his uncles.
Daniel smiled and continued. "I would also like to thank Amy. If it weren't for her, then I don't think I could live anymore." Some of the crowd gave off a sigh. Daniel cleared his throat. "Amy, you're everything and more to me." He paused and took a deep breath. "I love you, and I want you to be happy with me." He put a hand in his pocket and pulled out a sliver ring with three blue rocks aligned along it.
Her jaw dropped and she became speechless.
He looked into her eyes. "Marry me?"
She started to nod slowly and then said a big, "Yes."
The crowd cheered as they kissed. He put the ring on her finger and kissed her again.
A bit latter on, Amy was walking around showing off her ring as Daniel stood talking to one of his cousins by the pool. She made her way inside where Daniel's parents and grandmother sat in the kitchen talking. They all turned to face her as she hugged and kissed them and sat down among her soon-to-be mother- and father-in-law. She started to chat with them as a knock at the front door stopped her mid sentence. She sighed and got up.
She walked to the door and answered it with a hello. A musky-voiced man said hi as a loud pop and flash struck her in the stomach.
Daniel heard five loud bangs from inside the house. Before he could move a step, the glass doors to the patio shattered. Four men with black ski masks and shotguns stepped out and started shooting everyone in sight. He felt his cousin grab him by his shirt and drag him down into the pool. The gunshots and screams became muffled in the water. His cousin's body became lifeless as blood trailed out of him into the water.
Daniel's eyes began to sting from the water. All he could see was the sky becoming a darker and darker red and his cousin floating peacefully above him.
He noticed the screaming and shooting had stopped, and he heard muffled noises near him. He pushed his cousin's body away from him and moved up to the water's surface, just slowly enough to get air through his nose. He could start to hear the voices more clearly now.
"Did you get them all?" said one.
"Yep, I can check the bodies," said the second one.
"No, let's just get out of here before the pigs show up," said the first one.
"Hey, man, this place seems loaded. We should grab some stuff before we go," said the third one.
"You're fucking joking, right?" said the first one.
"The boss said in and out, that's it. Now let's go!"
"One quick look, I swear. Two minutes."
"Fine. You get two minutes. A second over, and we're gone. You got it?"
Footsteps travelled away from him.
Daniel waited a minute before getting out of the pool. His mind was hazy. He could not think. He could just stare. A ticking noise started in the back of his head. It was soft but noticeable. Bodies swam in pools of blood everywhere. His family was all gone. Men, women, and children—gone.
He walked through the carnage and into the house. There right in front of him was his father, motionless. Daniel led his gazed to his mother and grandmother, both still in their seats. It was hard to tell who they were with their blood-soaked half faces—their other halves splattered around the kitchen.
Daniel had nothing; there were no tears, no sadness, no sorrow, just the ticking getting slightly louder. He heard movement in the room off the kitchen. He walked to it to find one of the masked men looking at items around the lounge room and throwing them aside or holding on to them. Daniel stared at the man, enraged.
The ticking in his head had popped. Something inside of him was gone and replaced with something else. He couldn't tell what it was. It felt dark, heartless, soulless, but mostly cold and alone. Daniel looked to his left to see his small statue of a woman praying, which Amy had given him for one of his birthdays. He grabbed it.
He walked towards the man from behind. The man turned with shock as he got close. Daniel hit the man across the face with the statue. The man fell down as Daniel stood over him. "Why? Why me?" said Daniel.
The man held up his hands in pleading. "Please ... please don't kill me."
"Why did you do this?"
"I was hired to. Please, I have a kid on the way. I needed the money."
"Who hired you?" The rage in Daniel was becoming overwhelming.
"I don't know."
Daniel raised the statue. The man shook his head. "Wait! Wait! I think they said something about Victor Romaze. I think he hired us."
"Please have mercy."
The man nodded his head.
Daniel's body tensed up, and he started to hit the man over and over again with the statue. When he finally stopped, the man's blood was dripping down Daniel's face.
Daniel got up from the man's body and walked back to the kitchen. He stopped at a bloody drag mark on the floor leading to the bedroom. He didn't want to follow it, but he did anyway.
As he got to the door of the bedroom, his heart sank to the bottom of his soul. Amy lay blood-soaked on the floor in front of him. He dropped down to his knees at her side. He stroked her blonde, blood-soaked hair away from her eyes. His emotions fell down on him all at once. Everything he had was gone, just like that. He sat there in a swamp of his tears and her blood, cradling the one person that he needed to get through it all.
Excerpted from DRAG THEM DOWN by SARAH KNIPE Copyright © 2013 by Sarah Knipe. Excerpted by permission of BALBOA PRESS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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