A Cold Summer Sky
Author: John Charles
Series: By The Numbers
Genre: Mystery / Detective

Sawyer Wahlstrom, CEO of Fidelity Independent Research Group (FIRG) rarely opened email from someone he didn’t know.  This one was different.

The subject line read Stop the NuHygen project or the next one will die.  The attached video showed a car being sideswiped, run off the road, and crashing into a line of parked cars at the school bus stop.  Children were screaming and it was apparent the driver of the sideswiped car was badly injured.

Asher Radman, special Investigations Unit of The FBI was tasked with finding answers, but he immediately hit a brick wall.  Everyone in the rural town of Thompsonville was hiding something.  What is NuHygen and why would someone go to extremes to stop its development.

Simple questions, or so he thought, until his search for answers puts his own life in jeopardy.

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Excerpt:

Sunny and cool, exactly what Todd appreciated about spring mornings in this rural community.  Ever since he was recruited to work at FIRG, his outlook on life turned bright again.  He had moved from a city environment where he worked a job he hated and now, well everything was different.  He loved his job, adored the country house he and his wife purchased with the relocation package he was given, and he was enjoying a peaceful drive to headquarters.

Working at Fidelity Independent Research Group was so different from any job he had in the past.  At FIRG, he was tasked with research projects that had merit and value to the public.  Recently, he was placed in charge of a new project that had his staff as excited as a group of teens who were given early dismissal from school.  Though daunting and extremely sensitive, the research and investigation process was destined to show the client’s ideas had merit and should be followed through.

Though his car was not new, it was his baby.  He had always wanted a Mustang and saved for years to buy one.  His favorite color was maroon, not red but the deep rich color of maroon.  Ordering it new meant he had to wait almost three months for delivery, but it was well worth the wait.

He kept it clean, waxed it so he could see his face in the deep maroon metallic finish, and kept it garaged since it was new.  The elaborate sound system he had installed played songs from his tethered phone as the wind blew in from the open windows.  Entering the town of Thompsonville, Todd turned down the volume and slowed to the posted speed.  He knew there was a speed trap not far ahead and had no interest in conversing with a trooper.  As he passed the speed trap, he noticed a red van sitting on the side.  The driver looked to be fuming.  He felt bad for the people who didn’t pay attention to the speed limit and got caught.  The troopers who sat in wait rarely gave warnings.  Tickets, high priced tickets were the norm.

He drove past the van and continued along the road into a more residential area.  An old blue Chevy turned onto the street from his left.  The car was too close for comfort so Todd tapped his brakes to warn the tailgater.  Instead of backing off, the car sped up and hit his rear bumper.  Slowing down slightly, then speeding up, the Chevy hit his rear bumper again, this time with considerable force, jolting Todd’s car causing him to grasp the wheel with two hands.  “What the fuck?” he screamed.

Before he had a chance to pull over to inspect the damage, the old Chevy crossed into the oncoming lane and began to pass Todd’s car.  As he pulled alongside, the driver turned his steering wheel hard slamming into Todd, driving him off the road and into several parked cars.

The Chevy sped away.  Several people with their school aged children in tow pulled them to the front yard of a nearby house.  One woman was screaming into her phone, others were taking videos and photos of the accident.

Within two minutes, the trooper who had the red van pulled over was parked alongside Todd’s car, lights flashing.  He ran to the car to find the driver unconscious, air bags deflating, and music still playing.  Though the driver had a pulse, he was unresponsive.  He radioed for an ambulance and EMTs.

While waiting, he looked around and asked if anyone witnessed the accident.  Several people nodded.  One woman extended her phone and showed the trooper the video.  “I saw the car speed up and hit him, and then he pulled into the other lane and slammed into his side.  He rammed the car not caring that there were children at the bus stop or that he could have killed the driver.  How could anyone be so cruel?”

One father was trying to soothe his young daughter who had just witnessed this act of violence.  Her sobbing was contagious.  Soon most of the young children who were playing games while waiting for their bus, were crying.  The scene was turning very bad for all involved.

A moan brought the trooper’s attention back to the driver.  “You have to stay still.  An ambulance is on the way.”

“Did I hurt anyone?”  Todd knew he hit several cars before he blacked out.  He saw the children’s frightened faces as he careened into the parked cars near their bus stop.  “Please tell me.  Are they okay?”

“Other than scared out of their young minds, they’re fine.  Can you remember what happened?”  The trooper had both hands on Todd’s head, holding him in place.  “Don’t move your head.”

“Oh my god, I can’t feel my arms or my legs.”  The trooper looked down and saw that Todd’s legs were trapped in the mangled car.  Blood was oozing from numerous wounds.  Todd was in trouble and could bleed out if not helped soon.  Between the Chevy ramming into him and the impact of Todd smashing into the parked cars, his car became a vice trapping his body.

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