Hours before the grand opening ceremony for Mystic Magill’s Big Top Carnival, undercover officer A.J. Sands, disappeared from his post. His partner radioed it in after Sands hadn’t checked in and a foot search came up empty.
“He was right here,” Officer Bauer insisted, pointing to the exact spot for his supervisor’s benefit. “I only turned my head for a minute and he was gone. Some preacher-guy came up and tried to offer me a booklet full of scripture verses. I shooed him off as quick as I could but Sands was gone when I finally got free of him.”
“Hmm, I wonder if that was deliberate. Maybe they’d already planned to grab Sands and they didn’t want any witnesses. After all, Sands a good bit smaller than you, Bauer. If I was planning to abduct a homeless guy, I’d be inclined to grab the smallest one I could find.”
Within minutes, Jenny’s uncle, better known as Officer Mike Higgins, was showing Sam how to use the tracking devices they’d sewn in the clothing of their undercover officers. We’re coming for you, Maven, you sick, demented twist and when we do; you’d better pray that Sands is alive and well, Sam thought to himself. Nothing short of an act of God would spare you if you hurt or kill a cop. As the tracker zeroed in on the chip’s location, Mike drummed his fingers impatiently.
“This doesn’t make any sense.” Mike muttered. “He’s nowhere near the carnival site. According to this, he’s in Jersey.”
Phone calls were made to the appropriate departments in New Jersey and a dispatch sent to the exact coordinates.
Officer A.J. Sands woke to a thumping head and scrambled brains. His throat felt raw and scratchy while the inside of his mouth was Sahara-dry. Attempts to open his eyes had resulted in blinding white stars bursting on sight. He groaned, and tried to stretch. That’s when he noticed the binds on his hands and feet. The dryness in his mouth, no doubt stemmed from the filthy rag someone had rudely stuffed halfway down his throat. The chill on his feet told him his shoes, and the department’s tracking device, were gone. For the first time in his career, A.J. feared for his life. Pull it together, man, Officer Sands' inner voice insisted. You’ll never get out of here if you lose your cool.