sc_ban.gif (7151 bytes)


grn_bt.jpg (687 bytes) April 9, 1995 - Sunday
grn_bt.jpg (687 bytes) The Aftermath

It was approaching one in the morning.

The showdown at Geoffrey Thomas's ranch in Pennsylvania was over.

Jarrod Mayfield, legally know as John Myers Jr., was dead.

Western Maryland College was sleeping peacefully underneath a sky of a million shining stars. A quiet wind blew briskly over the town of Westminster.

The area known as western Maryland would discover on the morning news that the serial killer stalking them for nearly two weeks was dead.

A sense of peace would fall among the people. Although nothing would ever be the same for quite some time. And even though the threat of death was no longer upon them, Ryan and the rest of the group still had much work to do.

There were still unanswered questions that needed answers for any of this to make even a small modicum of sense.

 

Ryan Thomas burst through the door of his dorm room, angry. Alan followed him in.

"Ryan, this can wait till tomorrow." Alan said almost as a plea.

"No. I need answers now!" He barked sitting down on Jarrod's bed and pulling open one of Jarrod's desk drawers. "How could I have been so blind Alan?"

"He fooled us all Ryan."

"I don't think it's over. Jarrod may be dead, but I still think he has another plan in action."

"How is that possible? He's dead. He can't initiate anything."

"Things aren't always as they appear Alan. That's what he said right before he blew his brains out." Ryan reasoned. "There's a 'Plan B' somewhere, just as Ron suggested. We need to find it!"

"Ryan, your acting paranoid." Alan said. "We should go home and try to get SOME sleep. We can do this tomorrow."

"You go then. I'm staying here to see what I can find. Jarrod managed to be in two places at once every time! I know Alan! I know deep down that something is still not right." Ryan explained. "Jarrod got sloppy. He actually fell for the fact that Adam was at my dad's ranch in Pennsylvania, while all the time it was us there waiting for him to strike. He never knew Adam was safely tucked away at your house."

"Yes, he got sloppy." Alan agreed. "What are you trying to say?"

"I'm saying there's still more here than meets the eye. We can only assume he bought the motorcycle in Ohio after he whacked Oscar. Then there was that disk at the warehouse." Ryan stopped to bury his head in his hands and laugh. "Oh, wasn't that a good one. Jarrod kidnapped himself and hid. What better way to get to Ohio unnoticed if you aren't even in the picture. If he had a computer there, while this one was here..." Ryan patted his hand on Jarrod's laptop. "...then I believe there are some more surprises in store. I don't know how that would be possible, but I think if we let our guard down to early, we could still be in trouble. Remember, there is still another photo fragment, maybe two or three out there somewhere."

Alan didn't argue. Ryan may have been right. He picked up Jarrod's laptop, opened it up, and turned it on. The hard drive booted and the screen flickered to life. A cheesy picture for Microsoft Windows appeared for a few seconds then disappeared leaving an empty screen waiting for instructions from its user. Ryan knew enough about Windows to figure his way through the various files. Alan watched over his shoulder.

There was nothing there to find with the exception of a file labeled JMJ. It was password protected.

There was however, in a file marked games a challenging program for the learned card shark entitled Harvey's Blackjack.

Alan chuckled. "There's your buzzing sound Ryan. Jarrod was playing games while he had us believed he was being tortured."

"Jesus he was a hell of an actor." Ryan mused. "I can't believe he would go to the extremes of beating the shit out of himself to make it appear he had been kidnapped."

Alan shrugged his shoulders. "Who knows?"

Ryan stared off into space in pure wonder. "Do you realize that Jarrod crashed his own car with him in it to make himself look like a victim."

"Ryan, the kid was sincerely fucked up." Alan said. "He went to the length of killing himself to avenge his father."

"So you think that's it? Jarrod was avenging his father?"

"Yeah, I do." Alan said softly. "Beth must have been pregnant when John was killed. I can only wonder in disgust what Beth must have been telling Jarrod all these years to drive him to murdering all these people. In that light, I actually have pity for the boy. However, we can only speculate."

"So Beth changed her maiden name to Myers in the years following John's death." Ryan figured. "That would explain why we didn't find her maiden name on the death certificate."

Alan chuckled again. "I have a feeling if you look up the name Beth Mayfield in the school's computer, you might find something."

"It really doesn't matter now, does it?"

"No, I don't think so."

In the back of Ryan's mind, he had the sick revelation that it had been Jarrod who kidnapped Tiffany. Who raped Tiffany.

Who killed Tiffany.

And his father, Geoffrey Thomas.

"You realize of course that we have to turn Adam Jones in for John Myers' murder." Ryan said with regret. "And we have to exhume John's body."

"Yeah, the thought crossed my mind."

"Just because Adam had repented, it doesn't clear him of what he did twenty five years ago. The fucker is lucky to be alive."

"I know." Alan agreed. "Perri is going to investigate the matter once he's out of the hospital. That should be sometime tomorrow. The wound was not serious." Alan paused, looking at Ryan. "We were lucky tonight Ryan. This could have turned out a lot worse."

"Yeah, maybe." Ryan responded. "Did you call Adam yet?"

"No."

"Good, we don't want to give him the opportunity to run." Ryan advised.

"I don't think he will." Alan said. "I think after all these years, Adam is tired, and through with running. C'mon Ryan, lets get out of here. We can do this another time."

"Yeah, I guess your right."

Ryan stood up and started to follow Adam out the door. He turned around right before he turned off the light and looked back at Jarrod's bed.

"I can't believe it was you." Ryan whispered. "I loved you like a brother. Wherever you are in hell, I hope you can hear me. I don't think I have ever felt this betrayed.

"May God have mercy on your soul brother."

Ryan turned out the light and closed the door.

 

Adam Jones had been crying when Alan and Ryan returned to Alan's house. Ron Blake was already there, and had given Adam the news of the killer's identity and demise. They had been tears of relief. A great weight had been lifted from Adam Jones' chest. He had nothing more to fear from the killer.

Adam wanted details of everything that had gone down in Pennsylvania.

Ron, still dressed in black, smiled and answered Adam's inquiry. "It was a clever plan to fool Jarrod. He fell right into our trap."

Adam looked disturbed. "You mean to tell me ALL of you knew it was the Mayfield kid the whole time?"

"We found out this morning, quite by accident." Ryan replied. "After I took you to my dad's house in Woodbine, I returned to the newsroom here at the college. Mike Wagner had returned from his trip to his parent's house. Perri was grilling him in regards to his whereabouts. It actually appeared that Mike had something to hide, and I think Perri suspected him. In haste, Perri whisked him off to the city barracks for further interrogation. It was obvious that Perri was out to catch anybody at that point."

Ron added. "He was shaken up something fierce by Miller's demise, although he kept it hidden pretty well."

"Perri wasn't thinking straight anymore." Ryan explained. "It's one of the reason's we didn't let him in on our little secret. He could have blown the entire cover by accident acting on impulse. Which is what we thought he might have done under the circumstances."

"What secret?" Adam asked.

Ryan shook his head, running a hand through his hair. "Sorry, I'm getting ahead of myself. After Perri took Mike to the barracks, we discovered a wallet underneath the chair he had been sitting in. Naturally, we assumed it was Mike's and that he had dropped it or something. Alan peeked inside to discover it was not Mike's wallet at all. He showed me the driver's license in the wallet, and that's when we knew. The license and wallet belonged to John Myers Jr., and had a picture of Jarrod on the license.

"For whatever reason, Jarrod excused himself, acting all shook up that Mike might have been the person that kidnapped him."

Adam interrupted. "You mean Jarrod kidnapped HIMSELF?"

"Yes." Alan replied. "What better way to take himself out of the picture so he could operate more freely. After all, one of the remaining 'scarecrow' members was living in Ohio. Jarrod needed a way to get there without being questioned why."

"That would have been Oscar Quincy living in Ohio." Adam whispered.

Ron added, "It was just pure coincidence that Oscar had been living in the same state that Jarrod had been raised in by his mother. Why Stewart was there? I think he was just mentally falling apart. He knew he was being stalked and probably couldn't deal with it."

Ryan asked. "I wonder how he knew Beth was living in Ohio?"

"I knew." Adam admitted. "Another secret I've kept closely guarded for a couple of years. When I became dean of the college, not only did I have John's grave site sealed off, I also hired a P.I. to find Beth. I didn't want what happened back in '70 to come back and bite me when I was supervising the very college it happened at. I needed to know Beth was keeping quiet and well out of the way. I passed the information on to Stewart sometime last year when we had caught up with each other. He expressed the same concerns I did about skeletons from the closet emerging with a vengeance. I told him he had nothing to worry about and that Beth was living quietly in Ohio under a different last name. That of her would be husband, John Myers."

Alan's eyes lit up with attention. "So Beth's last name was Mayfield."

"No." Adam replied. "It was Brown. Mayfield was her mother's maiden name.

According to the P.I. who researched the whole thing for me."

"It makes sense." Ron said. "Jarrod using his mothers maiden name, or name she used before she had it changed to Myers would have been too obvious."

Adam asked. "So what happened after you found out Jarrod was the killer?"

Ron looked at Ryan to finish. "We never deviated the same plan we originally laid out." Ryan explained. "The only difference was we knew who the players were now. We were going to catch Jarrod in the act. Jarrod had excused himself from the room and nobody knew where he went. We would have told him to his face about where you were gonna be, only it wouldn't have been true. We would have been there instead. We left Jarrod a note, detailing the false locations."

"I don't follow." Adam said.

"Okay." Alan trailed in. "You were here at my house, okay?"

Adam looked un-impressed with Alan's condescending tone. "Yes." He said harshly.

"And the whole time we were waiting at the ranch in Pennsylvania, okay?"

"Yes." Adam uttered.

Alan finished. "The note we left Jarrod said you were at the ranch hiding, and that we told the public you were at Geoffrey’s house in Woodbine. So, with the knowledge that Jarrod was the killer, we knew he would come to Pennsylvania looking for you, and not Woodbine. We hid you at my house as an extra safety measure, just in case Jarrod figured out we were on to him."

"And you didn't tell Perri?" Adam snapped.

"No." Ryan said regretfully. "And I'm sure he'll be plenty pissed when we explain the whole thing to him. We had to take into account that Perri probably would have gone after Jarrod the second he found out. It would have given Jarrod an out if he knew we were onto him. Jarrod would have taken off and we probably would have never seen him again."

Ron interjected. "This was all pure assumption you understand. Perri may have actually cooperated, but it was not a chance we could take. Ryan and Alan came to me after the initial meeting with Perri about the set-up. The story Perri heard was that you were really being stashed here at Alan's house while the word leaked you were at the ranch in Pennsylvania."

Ryan chuckled. "Actually, once we knew Jarrod was doing it all, no word was leaked at all. We fed Jarrod the misinformation and waited. He thought we were hiding out in Woodbine while we were really in Pennsylvania, waiting for him, as he thought you, Adam, were really in Pennsylvania. Do you get it now?"

"Sort of." Adam said.

"I was at the ranch before Perri, Ryan and Alan showed up." Ron explained. "It was an extra measure taken in case something went wrong, in case Jarrod had help."

"So you were hiding out?" Adam asked.

"Yeah, something like that." Ron replied. "It wasn't likely for Jarrod to have others helping him, but I wasn't willing to take that chance."

Adam: "And Perri didn't know?"

"No." Ron replied. "As Ryan pointed out, we'll catch hell. But Perri wasn't thinking clearly. Deep down, he wanted blood, and he wanted it now. That can be a sticky situation for a cop to be in. It crosses the line of professionalism, and we couldn't take that chance either. Fortunately, with a little blessing from a higher source, and Todd Matheny, everything worked out okay."

"Todd Matheny?" Adam asked.

Ryan shook his head not wanting to think about his close brush with death. "Another time Adam."

"It's truly over then?" Adam asked.

"Almost." Ryan jumped in before Ron could say yes.

Adam looked surprised. "What do you mean 'almost'?"

Ryan replied, "There's still a small matter of the motive. A twenty five year old murder that can't be kept secret any longer."

Adam said nothing. He glared at Ryan, knowing what had to be done. "I saw this coming." Adam said, matter of fact like.

"The press is going to eat this up." Ryan figured. "They are going to want to know why the lives of an entire town, the entire area stretching from Dayton, Ohio to Westminster, Maryland, were turned upside down. Plus the Feds are involved now. Adam, 'scarecrow' is going to come out, like it or not. And you, being the only surviving member, are going to have to account for the whole thing."

"I'm in trouble, aren't I" Adam asked Ron.

"I don't know." Ron replied. "First, John's body is going to have to be exhumed and examined. What happens after that? Who can say. What I do know is that your going to end up in the middle of a very big investigation into what really happened twenty five years ago."

"I told them what happened!" Adam declared motioning towards Ryan and Alan. "Jesus, I even told the story to Jarrod. John Myers' son. I told the whole horrid, graphic story of his father's murder and cover up right to his face!"

"Frightening, isn't it?" Alan asked, enjoying the irony a bit.

Adam bowed his head and spoke. "Now that everything is out in the open, I don't mind saying what a burden it's been all these years keeping this story to myself. In a way, I'm glad it's out. It's been eating away at me for a long time now. John's death was an accident. There was never supposed to be any physical violence. I never meant for that gun to go off and kill someone. I was trying to stop a murder from taking place, and in the process, one happened."

Alan stepped forward. "We know Adam. We know you didn't mean to kill John Myers, or anybody for that matter. But it was covered up, and you did contribute to that. You could have turned yourself in."

"I know." He admitted. "There are so many 'what ifs' tied to what happened back in '70, and the years to follow. Pondering them doesn't do any good now. I have to do what is right now. If that means being tried for the murder of John Myers to clear up this whole mess, then so be it."

"Stay here tonight Adam." Alan offered. "It's been a long day. And an even longer night. We'll work out things in the morning."

"I'm not going to run Alan." Adam declared with sincerity.

"I believe you." Alan assured. "But stay anyway. I think it might be best if we still had each other for company, until we know for sure." Alan was looking at Ryan.

"Know what?" Adam asked.

Alan was still looking at Ryan when he said. "Things, are not always as they appear."

 

Derek Garvin was awoke by the obnoxious sound of his alarm clock. It was two in the morning. Derek looked around the room in a sleep haze. His roommate, Gary stirred a bit, but continued to sleep

Initially, he did not remember why on Earth he would set his alarm clock to wake him up at two in the morning. The answer started to seep slowly back to him.

Jarrod.

He was supposed to receive a call from Jarrod.

The message light on the phone machine was not blinking. Jarrod had not called yet. Derek had explicit instructions form Jarrod about what he needed him to do.

First, there would be a call. Everything would be fine and Jarrod would stop by and collect his belongings. Actually it was a package and a letter.

If there was no call by two o'five, there was trouble.

Derek struggled to recall the exact conversation he had with Jarrod earlier that evening.

 

Jarrod had burst into Derek's dorm about five thirty or so saying he had an important favor to ask. It had to do with the serial killings.

Derek had gotten immediately nervous.

"Why do you insist on participating in that vigilant little posse?" Derek asked. "They are never going to catch Webb's killer."

"They might." Jarrod said. He needed to tell Derek a convincing lie. "They got some new information that might wrap this whole thing up tonight. I need to be there to help."

"Jarrod, you should let the police handle this." Derek insisted.

"Look, I know what I'm doing." Jarrod insisted. "But just in case something goes wrong. I need you to do me a favor."

"What do you mean if something goes wrong?"

"Don't worry about it Derek." Jarrod insisted. "I'm sure everything will turn out fine. This is just in case, well, something happens."

"Don't talk like that!" Derek said annoyed.

"Will you do me the favor or not?" Jarrod asked growing impatient. He considered Derek a good friend and a valuable advisory. But in lieu of what needed to be done, Jarrod didn't have time for Derek's wimpy attitude.

"Okay, what is it?" Derek asked, giving in.

Jarrod handed Derek a box and a letter. The box was sealed tightly with several layers of duct tape. The letter was in a business envelope that could not be seen through if one held it up to a light. "If I don't call you by two o'five, something has happened. In that case, I want you to take this package to dean Jones in the administration building. Then take this letter to my roommate Ryan. If he's not there, slip it under his door."

"What's in the package?" Derek asked curiously.

"Personal objects I want put in the school safe for safekeeping, in case something happens to me and people come looking for these things." Jarrod explained.

"What people?" Derek asked concerned.

"Don't worry about it. As long as you don't look inside, your not in any danger."

"Why, what's in there?"

"I can't tell you. If you knew, you would be put in a very compromising position. I'll tell you when I get back tomorrow." Jarrod instructed.

Derek agreed, with reluctance.

 

Derek watched the hands on his clock turn past two o'five.

No call from Jarrod.

Derek waited an extra ten minutes just to be sure.

Still no call from Jarrod.

"Damn!" Derek swore. He slipped into some clothes and carried the package to the student lounge building. There would be a security guard there.

The guard looked at Derek as he walked into the lounge. Derek was looking dejected and tired. Plus his clothes didn't even remotely match. It drew curiosity from the guard.

"May I help you?" The guard asked. Derek flipped him his student ID and set the package down on the counter.

"Yeah, can you make sure dean Jones gets this. It's from Jarrod Mayfield."

"I guess so." The guard asked. "Is something wrong?"

"I don't know." Derek answered impatiently. "And to be honest, I don't care right now. Jarrod said he had something to do, and if he didn't come back tonight, to make sure dean Jones got this package. He said there were some personal things in here we wanted put in safe keeping till he got back, or something like that."

"Oh, I see."

The security guard had actually been the same guy who let Tiffany into the building where Webb's office was located, Bob, the rent-a-cop. The name Jarrod Mayfield did not mean a thing to him. The word that Jarrod was the serial killer had not yet spread across the land yet, and nobody knew.

Bob took the package into his custody and Derek sauntered to Jarrod and Ryan's dorm room to deliver the letter. Derek didn't even bother to knock. He simply slipped the letter underneath the door and left to go back to his own dorm.

Bob delivered the package to the administrations building around four in the morning when he made rounds across the campus.

The package itself, addressed to Adam Jones, now sat on Grace's desk. Grace would not be in till Monday.

At the same time Bob the rent-a-cop was placing the package on Grace's desk, Alan Kittridge was on the phone with his in-laws who were in Florida with Alan's kids. Ryan and Adam were asleep.

Alan was planning an impromptu vacation to Florida for a couple of days. He needed to get away and spend some time alone. He considered asking Ryan if he wanted to go to. The plans were cleared with the Gordon's. Alan and Ryan would be welcome at the winter home in Florida.

Alan would ask Ryan about it in the morning.

 

None of then slept in too late. It was in the ten o'clock hour that the three of them woke up. Adam had slept soundly. Ryan had nightmare's about Jarrod, although he could not remember them in great detail when he awoke.

Alan pitched his idea about the short vacation to Florida. Ryan liked the idea, but wanted to mull it over. In less than a half hour, he decided he would go with Alan after all.

Perri showed up at Alan's house close to noon, and he was pissed. His right arm was in a sling from the bullet wound and he was on leave from the force to recover.

Ryan and Alan, with Adam looking on explained to Perri the decisions they made and why.

In the end, Perri agreed that they had done the right thing, and that he probably would have gone after Jarrod the second he realized it was him who mercilessly slaughtered Norman Miller.

Perri also advised that the Feds would come soon asking about the episode at the ranch in Pennsylvania.

Alan replied. "That's fine. But they're going to have to wait. Ryan and I are going to Florida for a couple of days to see my kids and get away from all of this."

"Understandable." Perri agreed. "I don't have to ask if your coming back do I?"

"No, you don't" Alan assured. "We'll be back before the week is over. A new kind of hell is about to break lose here with the Feds investigating now. Plus John's body is going to be exhumed and 'scarecrow' exposed. I just want to see my kids and mourn my wife before I get caught up in all of that. As I'm sure Ryan would like to also."

"Okay." Perri said. "When they come looking for you, I'll explain what's happened and tell them you'll be back by Friday. I'll give them my personal guarantee that you'll be back."

"Thank you Ian." Alan said. "We will be back, I promise."

Perri was satisfied and left to return to his own life. Ryan and Alan returned to the college so Ryan could gather some clothes personal belongings. In the process, they discovered the letter that had been slipped underneath the door to Ryan's dorm.

The envelope simply read, 'RYAN'.

"This is Jarrod's handwriting." Ryan said nervously, peering through the envelope in the sunlight, then shaking it. "It wasn't here last night."

"Ryan, it can't be from Jarrod. We saw him kill himself."

"Trust me, this IS Jarrod's handwriting!" Ryan insisted. Cautiously, he opened the letter. The remaining two photo fragments fell out of the envelope as Ryan withdrew the letter. Alan picked then up and held them so they could both see. They were the missing faces from the picture. One was that of a white man, the other of a black woman.

"John and Beth Myers." Alan mused. "In living color. Pardon the pun Ryan."

"No apology necessary." Ryan whispered looking at the faces of people they knew so much about. Beth, whom they had never actually seen, was a very attractive black woman. The two of them smiled like they had not a care in the world. "They look so happy." Ryan said softly.

"Love knows no boundaries Ryan." Alan said. "Not color, not race, not anything. It really is sort of a tragic love story."

"I know." Ryan said thinking of Tiffany. "Tragic love stories are abound these days."

"What does the letter say?" Alan asked. Ryan opened the letter as they read to themselves, silently.

 

Ryan,

If your reading this letter, then I'm more than likely dead. Don't concern yourself with how this letter got here. As Ron was so fond of pointing out in our many meetings, serial killers, if that’s what you want to call me, always have a plan B. This is part of my plan B that I am directing from my grave, or from jail, whichever may have occurred.

Things are not always as they appear my friend. Although I am sure by now, you are not calling me friend anymore. It was no accident I killed your father in retaliation for my own fathers death. However, you should know I never had intentions of killing Tiffany. I know you don't believe me, but that was purely accidental. Take that rage you feel now about Tiffany's death. You would like to kill me for it. That is how I feel about the ten people who murdered my father and scarred my mother for the rest of her life. Maybe now you understand.

If you are reading this, then chances are Adam is still alive, when he should be dead. These last two pieces of the picture you are looking at, one is for you, and one is for Adam. I hope to see him in hell very shortly.

If I am still alive as you read this, I will be dead before to long, so don't even bother trying to race to whatever cell I'm being held at and ask me about it.

On a personal note Ryan, it was a pleasure knowing you.

Perhaps we shall meet again in another life, where we can be true friends.

 

Jarrod

 

Ryan looked up at Alan with fear in his eyes. "My God, where's Adam now?"

"I don't know." Alan said sharing Ryan's concern. "I think he might have either gone home or stopped back at his office."

"We need to find him, now!" Ryan instructed.

 

Adam Jones had indeed returned to the college also, not to far behind Alan and Ryan. There were papers and other work he needed from his office. Just because he had been pushed into the middle of a twenty five year old murder investigation, didn't mean he didn't have other work to do regarding the college. He had fallen behind due to his impromptu little trip out of town to save his ass.

Simply put, Adam was going to take some of the work home with him to complete.

Upon entry to the office, Adam immediately noticed the large package on Grace's desk. It was tightly wrapped in duct tape and addressed to him. On the side, in big black letters read the word, 'CONFIDENTIAL'.

There was no return address.

Adam picked the box up and carried it into his office.

 

Ryan and Alan started to run across campus to get to the administration building to see if Adam was there. Halfway across the quad, Derek called out to Ryan. They stopped running to see what Derek wanted.

"Where's Jarrod?" Derek demanded.

"You haven't heard yet?" Ryan asked in surprise.

"Heard what?"

"Nevermind."

"No wait." Derek insisted. "Jarrod was acting real funny last night. He said if he didn't come back that I was supposed to deliver you a letter and a package to dean Jones' office."

Ryan and Alan looked at each other with deep concern.

 

Adam didn't suspect the package was from Jarrod, or even that he was in any danger. He took a letter opener from the desk drawer and proceeded to cut through the duct tape on the top of the package.

He stopped halfway through, with a wave of concern. He picked up the package and shook it. It sounded like it was full of books.

With a sense of relief, he finished opening the package. Adam opened the lids of the box to see a laptop computer sitting on top of another book.

"What the hell is this?" Adam asked himself.

 

"What was in the box?" Ryan demanded.

"Hell if I know." Derek retorted. "Jarrod said it was some personal things of his he wanted dean Jones to lock in the school safe. He said people would come looking for them."

Alan said. "That doesn't make any sense."

"No shit?" Derek asked sarcastically. "What was in that letter he had me give you anyway?"

Ryan didn't know how to answer. Derek obviously didn't know about Jarrod yet. He was just another pawn in Jarrod's sick little game.

 

Adam lifted the laptop out of the box and set it on his desk. What had been underneath the laptop in the box was a college yearbook. Adam picked up the yearbook and looked at the front. It was dated 1971 for W.M.C.

Then a beep.

Adam looked down into the box to see a complicated arrangement of wires. A small card was attached to one of them. It was the same kind of card used in the previous killings. Adam glanced at the card as a wave of fear swept over him.

 

NOW ITS OVER, MURDERER

 

Adam switched his glance to a small red numbered display. It was counting backwards.

Four, three, two...

"Oh, shit." Adam whispered.

...one...

 

Ryan looked at Derek with an odd blank expression. As if Ryan were trying to hide something.

"What is it?" Derek asked impatiently.

Ryan opened his mouth to speak when the world shook for a second time.

The explosion of the bomb in Adam's office was not as strong as the one the killed Stewart and left a crater in the 140 Village. It was however, just as destructive. It blew a giant hole in the side of the administration building and sent various forms of debris in various directions.

Ryan, Alan, and Derek looked in the direction of the administration building to see the huge cloud of smoke rising above the tree line.

Screams could be heard from all over that side of the campus.

The three men ran across the other side of the campus to investigate. The administration building was on fire.

Reports from the scene placed Adam Jones inside the building at the time of the explosion.

"There's Plan B." Ryan whispered to Alan. "Jarrod succeeded after all."

Alan shook his head as the fire consumed the building.

They both knew Adam Jones was dead. He had opened Jarrod's mysterious package, which was obviously a bomb.

"Things are not always as they appear." Alan quoted, turning away from the fire. "Let's get out of here before things get sticky."

Derek, who was fascinated by the destruction of the administration building didn't even see Ryan and Alan leave.

On the way out of the college, Ryan and Alan stopped in front of Alumni Hall. They simply stood there and stared at it, knowing that the body of John Myers was still resting uneasy underneath the huge structure.

"It is haunted after all." Ryan mused.

Alan nodded. "All these years he’s been here. This should be a hell of a story for you to write Ryan. ‘Scarecrow’ tying into the haunting of Alumni Hall. In the end, it all makes perfect sense."

"Todd was fascinated by the whole thing." Ryan said. "He’s always been obsessed with the ghost in this building, now he knows." Ryan suddenly realized what Alan had suggested. "You want me to write the scarecrow story for the paper?"

Alan smiled. "I think you’ve earned it."

"I think we both have."

"Maybe, but I want you to do it."

Ryan looked at Alan and smiled. "Thanks Alan. I don’t mind sharing a by-line with you, really."

"Hey, if our biggest worry these days is worrying about who gets what by-line, as opposed to who is going to get murdered next, then that’s all the comfort I need."

Ryan nodded as the two men continued to stare at Alumni Hall in awe. Before they left, they shared a moment of silence out of respect for the deceased John Myers, for the tortured spirit who lived there. Who may now finally have some peace.

 

Against Alan's wishes, Ryan retrieved Jarrod's laptop computer along with his other personal items. Also included in that package was the mystery disk that Jarrod was supposedly trying to break. Ryan wondered what he was really doing the whole time he as trying to break through the password screen.

It must have been a sixth sense on Ryan's part to take the disk, for Ron had left a message on Alan's phone machine when they got back to Alan's house.

Apparently, somebody in the police department broke through the code on the mystery disk.

"Guys, its Ron. I hope you get this message before you leave for Florida. Perri told me you were going on a short hiatus. Somebody in the police department broke into the program on the disk found in the warehouse. I think you should take a look at what's on the disk. It would take too long to explain over the phone. The used id is 'four, four, asterisk, nine'. The password, 'raptor'. See you guys in a few days. Have fun and take care."

Ryan booted the laptop while Alan scurried around the house, packing. He called out to Ryan. "Are we taking my car or yours?"

"Let's take the Lexus." Ryan answered. "It's an incredibly comfortable car to drive in."

"Okay."

The laptop displayed the brief symbol of Microsoft Windows and then the blank screen for different options. Ryan knew, after watching Jarrod on several occasions, how to load a disk onto a computer. When he had the mystery disk loaded, the message, 'Things are not always as they appear' flashed across the screen. Then the picture of the photo fragment.

Ryan broke into the keystroke program for the disk, after watching Jarrod do it several times and scrolled to the end, at which time the user ID screen appeared.

"Here goes nothing." Ryan whispered. At the user ID prompt, he typed '44*9'. The prompt fell to the password box and flashed. Ryan typed the word 'raptor'.

The screen went blank.

A miniature hourglass appeared where the prompt was on the screen and started to spin in a circular fashion. Then it disappeared.

Ryan knew this meant the disk was loading.

A window appeared on the screen asking the user if he wanted to view, add, or delete from the personal journal of John R. Myers Jr.

"View!" Ryan said to himself excited. He moved the cursor to the VIEW box on the screen and clicked once. The screen went blank again as the spinning hourglass reappeared. A box appeared in the middle of the screen asking for a specific date to view. "ALAN! Come take a look at this!"

Alan ran into the kitchen. Ryan sounded as if he had just struck gold.

"WHAT? What is it?"

"The mystery disk? It's Jarrod's journal."

"Son of a bitch." Alan whispered. He was taking in everything he saw on the screen. "What date do we want to look at?"

"I want to look at them all."

"Wait." Alan instructed. "We'll look at them on the way to Florida. I want to get going as soon as possible. I think if you look in Jarrod's laptop bag, you'll find a power adapter for a cigarette lighter."

Sure enough, Ryan found one there.

Alan wanted to leave before there was to much action at the college from the explosion. If they hung around, the Feds would be all over the place before nightfall.

Twenty minutes later, they were on the road. And would not stop until they reached Clearwater, Florida.

Ryan scrolled through every entry in Jarrod's journal, reading as Alan drove the Lexus onto Interstate 95 South, towards Florida.

It was a twenty two hour drive to Clearwater, Florida. When they arrived at the beach house, Don and Selma Gordon were there to meet them. Alan's kids were ecstatic to see their father again.

It was then that Alan began to mourn Nora.

And Ryan began to accept his father's death.

Now that they knew. Jarrod's journal had filled in the gaps for them. One sorted detail after another.

They knew.

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Scarecrow   Copyright 1995 - 1999  C. Kevin Provance.   All Rights Reserved
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Copyright 1995 - 1999  C. Kevin Provance / TPA Software.  All Rights Reserved.