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strongest_start_competition **360 Degrees**

Novel By: Roxanne Sackville
Mystery and crime



Chicago PD Detective Ben Marke has had nothing but bad luck, death and longing throughout his life however when those closest to him begin to die he must fight harder than before to find their killer, unfortunately the answer will leave him fighting for his own life. View table of contents...


Chapters:

1

Submitted:Mar 28, 2007    Reads: 166    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   


360 Degrees

By Roxanne Sackville

Prologue

Darkness was quickly setting in as the sun moved beyond the horizon. She carefully looked around the room and noticed that the light in the kitchen which was once luminescent was fading and the darkness outside was creeping in. There was a faint light coming from her stove now, and every shadow lurking in her home sent fear throughout her body.

In her trembling left hand was a semi-automatic pistol. Slowly she reached her right hand towards the door handle that lay in front of her and with great trepidation she placed it on the handle. Gradually she began to turn the knob when out of nowhere a man's face appeared in the window of the kitchen door. Jumping back she screamed and dropped her pistol on the kitchen floor. Petrified for her life, she scrambled to find her gun that lay in the darkness on the floor. Fear began to take hold of her as she fell to the floor stumbling to find the gun.

The kitchen door slowly crept open.

In a last minute effort to save her life she found the pistol in the shadows and laid on the kitchen floor with the gun pointing towards the small opening. With panic flowing through her body she waited for the intruder to come in. Each minute that passed felt like hours as she lay on the floor waiting for the intruder to attack. Sweat began to form on her forehead and her body shook with fright as she stared out the door and into the darkness of the backyard. Laying on the floor her thoughts trailed to Richard. She knew that her husband was out there in the darkness and with no sign of him she began to fear for herself and her missing husband. Her thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a loud groaning that seemed to be coming from the darkness outside. Quivering with fear she held tight to her pistol and attempted to steady her hand as the frightening shadow emerged again in the window.

"Richard?" she hollered out, hoping the figure in front of her was Richard and no one else.

"Richard, answer me right now! Is that you? Oh god, help me, please," she cried.

No answer came from the dark shadow. The figure limped closer, slowly pushing the door open. She made one last attempt to call out to her husband.

"Richard, if that's you please answer me before I shoot!"

Still no answer came from the figure in the doorway.

The door was then thrust open as the form started to come closer. With the unknown person now dangerously close to her she knew she had no other choice. Time was running out. Closing her eyes she held her breath and pulled the trigger.

BANG!

Within moments Lily got herself up off the kitchen floor, her body still shaking tremendously with fear and she slowly walked over to the intruder that was lying motionlessly on the kitchen floor. It was then that the intruders face became visible to her.

In a moment's time, Lily realized that she had shot her husband Richard.

One year had passed since the tragic accident had happened. Lily had not been the same since shooting her beloved husband Richard. Every day of her life Lily has thought about all the ways the tragic mistake could have been prevented. And yet there was no answer to cure her pain. That disastrous night kept playing through her mind, the reality was that she had no other choice but to shoot the intruder as her life was in jeopardy. It was self defense, and she truly needed to believe that both in her mind and in her heart.

My partner Dave Sharpton and I were called to the scene of the accident moments after her hysterical 911 call. When we first came into the house, we saw Lily Ronin rocking herself back and forth on a chair in the far corner of the kitchen. My heart felt Lily's pain at that moment. At the time we did not realize how this woman would change our lives forever. How one woman, Lily Ronin, could change the way we lived and loved. I fell in love with her the moment I laid eyes on her, I wanted nothing more than to protect her and love her for the rest of our lives.

Since we met Lily and worked on her case, we have hunted for a deranged murderer that happened to be Richard's long lost daughter. Her mind had been warped by her mother; Richard's ex wife. Dave was in a terrible accident that could have left him paralyzed indefinitely. His new woman--Nicole was kidnapped and tortured by none other than his ex wife, Cindy, who was hell bent on revenge. But nothing could have prepared me for what happened when Dave's ex wife Cindy met up with him in the hospital, her anger uncontainable and her retribution unimaginable.

"Yeah, that's right; you are a murdered, a kidnapper and a bitch," Dave hollered at Cindy. Months of built up frustration had changed Cindy, she had lost control of herself and no one was safe from her wrath.

Cindy flew into a fury, kicking and punching as she screamed at Dave. Before he could do anything to stop her, she ripped her arm from his tight grasp and reached into her pocket, withdrawing a 9mm pistol and pointed it directly at his face.

"Now who's the bitch, bitch?"

"Cindy, calm down, lower the gun," he said as he raised his hands in the air.

"Why? So you can take it and kill me? I don't think so."

"You know I could never do that, I'm a Detective."

"So what, that never stopped anyone from breaking the law before, why would it stop you? Are you some kind of fucking saint?" she asked as she began to laugh maniacally.

She was crazy, uncontrollable and unstoppable; she needed help and many years of it.

Knowing that Cindy was a loose cannon, ready to explode at any moment, he swiftly pulled himself from her and sat on the ground directly beside her. With her eyes still on him and the gun held out in front of her, she edged herself onto her feet. Hovering over him, she stepped closer and pushed the gun to his forehead as he looked up at her; his life now in her hands.

"Don't do this."

"Why not, David?"

"Because you would never forgive yourself."

Throwing her head back, she laughed before turning her infuriated eyes back on him.

"Why would I regret blowing the head off a pathetic low life like you?" she asked as she cocked the gun and pressed it tighter against his forehead.

"You mean nothing to me now," she spat out at him.

"What is that supposed to mean Cindy? Please just put the gun down." he asked as he tried to calm her down. It was then that he realized that she might actually pull the trigger. Up until that moment he thought she wanted to threaten him, just to show him that she was a force to be reckoned with. The reality was clear to him now; he knew that Cindy was capable of anything, including murder.

"If I pulled this trigger right now I could blow your head to pieces and have you out of my life forever. You have ruined my life! You left me for some whore! You left me with nothing and I could never forgive you for that. That is why I don't feel bad for what I am going to do to you!" She screamed at him.

"Cindy, don't do this," he pleaded, "you'll ruin the rest of your life if you kill me."

"You have already ruined my life and now you will pay with your's," she mumbled as she placed her finger on the trigger and tightened it to his forehead.

BANG! BANG!

And that was it, the end. The end of a life I had known so well, one that I had been used to. I was used to hardships and loneliness, but nothing could have prepared me for what was still to come.

Chapter 1: Death Becomes Me

I could not help but feel that nothing in my life ever seemed to go right. I was standing outside the precinct and could not help but reflect on my life. It had been a four long months since I had stepped foot inside the precinct, or even spoken with any of my colleagues. The 'Heart Broken Killer' case, as it has been referred to, had changed my life forever. After that awful day in the hospital, I have not found the courage to walk up the steps and through those big red doors.

With spring quickly approaching, the crisp March air was a relief to me considering the cold and lonely winter that had already come and gone. Leaves were beginning to show on the trees and the birds were back in full chorus. Time never stood still, but time in my heart and mind had stopped that early morning in November. Still staring towards the massive precinct building, I remembered that fateful day like it was just yesterday. We discovered that the killer who slaughtered three innocent women and kidnapped and tortured another was none other than Dave's ex-wife, Cindy. She had gone on a rampage, slaughtering innocent women in her hunt for Nicole; Dave's new love. She thought Dave would love her again once he saw what was left of Nicole; she had thought that all of the wrongs in her life would be made right once she was back with Dave. However quite the opposite had happened.

Cindy had died instantly from the shot she administered to herself and Dave did not make it to the O.R, his facial wounds were his demise, taking him not long after Doctor Zimbell rushed in to save him. Remembering his funeral, I shifted my position as I stood still on the sidewalk directly in front of the precinct.

Rain poured down as if the heavens themselves released their agony over the deaths. Endless dark clouds covered he sky, moving slowly above our heads. The smell in the air was of death and solitude; the solitude I felt coursing through my body. Unable to look directly at the two coffins before me, I stared down towards the white covered ground. The minister spoke of the victims as if he knew them personally, speaking of their lives and their tragic ends.

"Today we stand before God and His Angels releasing these two souls into His loving grasp. Detective David Sharpton, a man of many talents and a decorated Detective left this earth trying to save the lives of those he cared for." The minister then paused, and I turned my empty gaze from the ground to him. Standing tall in front of the two coffins, he smiled warmly as our eyes met. His arms outstretched, he turned his head to the dark and cloudy sky, closing his eyes as he continued. "Lily Villner Ronin, a bright and shining woman, a woman of strength and determination. She will always be remembered as such and goes to you God to be with her late husband Richard. Together these souls will stand before your gate, awaiting their final destination and their ultimate places in Heaven."

As the minister finished his prayers, my gaze turned back towards the ground, my tears unstoppable, my heart broken in two. I could not look at the resting places of those I cared for. Before the coffins were lowered into the ground, I turned away from the minister and on lookers, solemnly walking through the cemetery towards the awaiting vehicles. Looking towards the long line of cars my mood became more somber. Atop each car's antenna was a purple and silver flag with the word 'funeral' written across it. The flag symbolized the union of all those within the cars, a union none of them had hoped they would be a part of. Standing in front of my car, I touched the flag with my right hand and lowered my head in time for one lone tear to trickle quickly out of my eye and down my face. My mind turned to the last few moments before Lily died. What I thought was shock and exhaustion causing her collapse ended up being quite the opposite. Slowly the door to Dave's room opened and I turned my eyes to the figure emerging from the room. Doctor Zimbell turned to me, his eyes saying everything his mouth did not want escaping. Closing his eyes, he dropped his head briefly before meeting my eyes.

"I'm sorry...."

And that was it, that was all he needed to say. Nothing could have prepared me for those words. Turning my gaze from the Doctor to Lily, I cleared my throat trying to hold back the tears I felt welling up behind my eyes.

"She's....she's unconscious."

Quickly the Doctor walked to my side and knelt down, placing his hands on Lily's throat.

"Her pulse is weak," he stated as he turned his eyes from her to me. "What happened?"

Pausing, I replied, my voice still weak and filled with sorrow.

"When everyone ran into the room for Dave, she just...she just dropped to the floor behind me," Pausing again, I turned my pleading eyes on him, "Can you help her? Will she be alright?"

Without a word of acknowledgement to me, he pulled Lily from my arms, holding her in his grasp before standing up and running towards a spare room. Expeditiously, I jumped up from the ground and followed behind him. Inside the room, the Doctor placed Lily limply down on the bed and began to examine her.

"Her pulse is getting weaker; we need to do something now," he said as he turned from her body and ran to the door of the room.

"I need a nurse asap," he hollered into the hallway to no one in particular before running back to her side. Shock and disbelief filled me as I stood in the corner looking towards the Doctor as he feverishly worked on her. Within seconds two nurses ran into the room to the Doctors side only for one to turn and run back out of the room yelling for equipment. Before she returned to the room, Doctor Zimbell turned to me, grasping my shoulders.

"Now listen Detective, you need to leave the room, let us do what we can for her."

Nodding my head, I agreed and walked vacuously from the room, only turning momentarily to see the Doctor and nurse hovered over Lily's body. From behind me the other nurse ran past, pushing a cart full of instruments into the room, closing the door behind her.

Yet again I stood in the hallway watching through the window, unable to help, unable to think. Only moments ago Dave had succumbed to his injuries, the injuries that Cindy had inflicted on him. There had not been any time to deal with Dave's death and yet still I waited outside in the hallway for news on Lily. My heart ached and throbbed for her, for the love I felt for her and the sorrow I felt deep in my soul. Life had always been rough for me, nothing ever came handed on a silver platter but I always held out hope that there would be a 'happily ever after' in store for me. That day I realized there could never be a happy ending. I am not sure how long I stood staring through the window before the Doctor re-emerged from the room, his look the same as before; a look of defeat, a look of remorse. She was gone, I knew it. Shaking my head from side to side my face took on the weight that I felt in my heart.

"Detective? I'm not sure how to say this...," he paused and then continued, "She is gone. Her heart gave out. Were you aware of any heart conditions she had?" He asked.

Nothing he said after 'she is gone' did I hear, nothing but buzzing sounded in my head as I turned away from him and walked down the hallway towards the lone water fountain next to the nurse's station. I did not know what to think or what to say, but I knew I had to get out of the hospital, away from the essence of death that lingered all around me. God was cruel, I remember thinking. He handed the Ronin case to Dave and I so long ago and made me fall in love with her. He had made her leave to New Orleans and then back to me where we learned of our mutual attraction. We kissed and I loved her, then God came and took her from me just as quickly as she had been given to me. Turning my eyes from the fountain I had not drank from, I peered up at the ceiling before letting loose a scream I did not know I had in me. My anger fizzled and God was to feel my wrath.

"You bastard, you took her from me, why? Why did you send her into my life only to take her from me before I could be with her, before we could live happily ever after? WHY? What have I ever done to deserve this? You took my partner and then you took HER. So help me God, I will never, ever forgive you for ruining my life."

Instantly I dropped to my knees, throwing my head into my hands. That day I cried, I admit it, I sobbed uncontrollably until my eyes dried up. Before I raised my head from my hands I felt a change in me, a change that would affect who I was and what I stood for. Never would I be the same Ben Marke as I had been hours before.

Doctor Zimbell turned from the door and walked away, he had witnessed my soul's demise, the end of Ben and the beginning of someone I am not even sure I knew. As if nothing had happened, I wiped the tears from my eyes and stood up; a look of resentment cloaked my usual bright eyes. Slowly I turned to the room Lily's body lay. Pausing at the door to the room I stared towards her as the nurse carefully lifted a white sheet and covered her with it. As the sheet covered her face my heart fell to the ground and smashed into millions of tiny fragments. Like a piece of fine china, it would never be put back together and look the same, there would always be something missing-one piece that just would not look right again. That was how I felt at that moment, like damaged china. The nurse turned and caught my gaze, without saying a word to me she lowered her head and raced past me out of the room. With no one left in the room, I took a step towards Lily's lifeless body. Memories of our times together flowed through my mind like the time she asked me if I cared for her.

"Ben?" she began, "You have feelings for me, is this true?"

Startled by her question, I took a few moments to contemplate my answer before responding.

"Yes."

Smiling up at me, she placed her hands onto mine.

"Me too."

Shocked and bewildered at her response I looked into her brown eyes. For several moments we both stood still in the center of the kitchen, unsure of what to do or what to say. Tenderly I placed my hands onto her shoulders pulling her closer before I leaned down and with my eyes closed I softly touched her lips with mine.

The many times I held her in my arms, touched her small hands and basked myself in her bright aura. She was not only a woman of great strength, endurance and understanding, but she was warm, kind and loving. She was the only woman I had let into my life, into my heart. Shaking my head, I stepped closer to her body. Hovering over the sheet that concealed her, I stared with disbelief. With unsteady hands, I touched the white sheet before withdrawing my hands. Turning abruptly around, I stared at the walls of the room. As much as I wanted to believe this was all some horrible nightmare, I knew it was real, the smell of the room, the bland look of the walls and corridors-it was all real. Taking a deep breath, I closed my eyes and turned back around. Cautiously I opened my lids and stared back at the white sheet before me. With as much strength as I could summon I reached my shaking hand to the sheet and pulled it back exposing her face. In my line of work all faces of the dead looked the same-pale and cold, but when the face was of a loved one it made things really fall into perspective. Looking into her closed eyes and pale face made me feel as if I had lost more than just the woman I loved, but myself as well. I felt as dead as she was at that moment and wished I could be lying on that slab instead of her. Moving my hand from the sheet, I touched her cold, taught cheek.

"Oh Lily," I sighed as I lowered my head, "why? Why didn't you tell me? I could have done something....anything to help you." Then it came to me, maybe she knew as little of her condition as I did.

Reaching for the sheet one last time, I grabbed it in my grasp and whispered one last thing before covering her face.

"I love you."

Now months later, I stood before the precinct with dead, angry eyes onto the building I used to work in. Running my hands through my uncombed hair, I took a deep breath and spat on the sidewalk, before turning and walking away. I hated that place, I hated the world and I hated people. Since Lily and Dave's death, I stopped caring about myself. My hair was rarely clean or combed, my clothes were stained with yesterdays Kraft Dinner feast and I had not shaved in so long I had forgotten how to even start. I looked awful, but that was how I felt and I did not care who liked it. Walking down the street, people turned to stare at my unkempt appearance which I returned a glare of hatred back at them. Mothers grabbed their children closer as I passed by and dogs barked angrily at me. I wanted to turn and snap their little necks, but I resisted the urge as I continued walking down the street, a small smile eased onto my lips with my thoughts. The longer I walked, the more people stared and even though I had no idea where I was going, I kept walking. Just then something on the light post caught the corner of my eye. A picture of a stunning young woman dressed in a red sweater and jeans adorned a flyer. The words 'Have you seen this woman? If so, please call 555-9845. REWARD: $15,000' blared from the leaflet. Staring at the woman in the flyer, I became angry. Reaching for it I swiftly tore it from the post and crumpled it in my hand.

"I'll never help another soul for the rest of my life, as God is my witness," I mumbled, turning my head to the sky before looking back down at my feet and walking away.

With distance growing between the flyer and I, my mind could not stop racing with thoughts of that poor girl. Her family was out there, torn apart by her disappearance and her abductor was still at large on the streets of Chicago. I wanted to help, but I felt I could not. Memories of everything that had happened to me since the Ronin case first hit our desk began to flash through my mind while the stores passed beside me. The first time we met Lily, then there was Butch, the hand, and then ultimately her husband. Last but not least, the night that had changed my life forever; Dave and Lily's death. After losing my mother, I felt I had learned how to handle death, to find a way to move on. Now I knew that I had not. I lost not only my partner and good friend, but also the woman I loved. A woman I had not gotten the chance to truly love. My heart felt broken in two. In the last four months I felt a loss unlike any other and nothing had been able to break it, nothing was bringing me out of my slump. Feeling overwhelmed I stopped walking and stood still, unmoving on the sidewalk. Each person that passed slowed down, wondering if I was inebriated or just crazy. With the flyer still in my hand, I turned around in place and headed back for my car, my expression like stone. Walking past the precinct once more; I gave it one last glance and then walked away, crossing the street to my car. Once I sat inside the car and closed the door, I placed the key in the ignition but hesitated to turn it. Pulling my left hand up, I unclenched my fist and stared down at the crumpled flyer in my hand.

Her face was soft and kind, her smile wide. She sat delicately on a bench in front of a home dressed in a tight fitting red sweater and blue jeans with the knees torn out. Her eyes a dark blue and her shoulder length straight brown hair had a hint of blond streaks. She seemed no more than 25. Looking into her blue eyes, my heart ached for her but more for the love I lost. Moments must have passed by while I eyed the flyer, my mind debating what I should do, if anything, to help this woman and her family. Dropping the paper on the floor, I lowered my head in defeat. Life had finally gotten the better of me; all its death and destruction had broken me down. Months ago I would have jumped for this case because I wanted to help people but now I was different, now I was uncaring of others. No one had cared about my feelings when Lily was taken from me. No one had cared for me, no one but her. A small tear fell from the corner of my eye.

HONK! HONK!

The sound of a car horn disrupted my thoughts. Without much emphasis, I turned my head to the noise. Parked directly beside my car, in the middle of the road was a black Ford Mustang, its windows tinted dark enough for me to only make out a figure behind the wheel. Silently, I stared towards the unknown vehicle wondering what this person was doing. As if on cue, the window began to lower, its occupant revealed. Shaking my head, I closed my eyes. What the hell does he want? I wondered as I opened my eyes again.

"Ben, is that you?" The voice bellowed from inside the parked car.

Wanting to say 'no', I paused and then nodded.

"So," Bruce began, his words vindictive, "How the hell have you been? Me, you ask? Well, I've just been peachy. I have no job, the Chief won't return my calls and no precinct in this city will hire me. And all of that is your fault."

Each word that spilt forth from his mouth angered me, his tone sarcastic. The last time I saw Barnes ran through my head.

Pushing the door to my office inwards in a hurry I found Detective Barnes lying atop Lily, his hand covering her mouth as he had her pinned down on the desk. Without thinking I ran into the room, grabbed Barnes by his shirt, ripped him off her and threw him into the wall. Within moments I began to pummel him, each fist I threw at him hitting him with the force of a semi truck.

"Screw off Barnes before I jump out of this car and finish what I started months ago," I stated as I began to roll my window up, turning my attention away from him.

Just then I heard a car door slam making me turn my head back to Barnes' car. Without warning his fist slammed through my closed window sending glass flying towards me. Immediately my uncontrollable temper sprang forth. Pushing the door open, I slammed it hard into his side, knocking him off his feet and onto the unforgiving concrete road, giving me the perfect opportunity. Before I knew it I was on top of him, my fists taking over. Each hit, knocked his face from side to side, relieving the pent up anger I felt gushing through my body. I wanted him dead, I wanted him to pay for what he did to Lily and I wanted God to see my vengeance. Between the cars, unbeknownst to passerby's I took out months of hatred on his face. My mind played over and over the sight of Lily lying in my arms, slowly dieing.

"Ben...please don't Ben. Don't kill him. You are better than that," her voice resonated in my head.

My fists paused in mid air as I looked up from Bruce, turning left and right.

"Lily? Lily?" I called but no one answered. People walked down the sidewalk and cars zoomed past, but there was no Lily. So eager to see her alive, my heart beat quickly as I scanned the street only to be let down once I saw she was nowhere to be found.

Turning my attention back to Barnes as I still sat atop him, I scanned the damage I had done to him. Beneath me, Barnes lay unconscious. Blood dripped down the sides of his face onto the ground. His eyes were swollen shut, his nose broken and his lips cracked and bleeding. Smiling, I nodded.

"Now that will teach you not to fuck with me," I hollered as I got up and walked back to my car. Sitting inside the car, I took a deep breath and turned the key in the ignition, speeding away from my victim.

"Forgive and forget, Ben," her voice resounded in my head.

Slamming my foot down harder on the gas, I shook my head trying to remove her voice.

"You're not alive," I cried as I turned the corner and sped down the street. "Please stop talking to me," I hollered, ripping my hands from the wheel, covering my ears as I shook my head. "STOP!" With my foot still on the accelerator, I closed my eyes and continued to shake my head, "STOP! STOP! STOP!"





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