"The Greensboro Aquatic Center," the caller answered.
"And the problem?" the 911 operator asked.
"The pools are filled with blood," the caller answered.
"Would you repeat that?" the operator asked.
"The swimming pools are all filled with blood," the caller repeated, "and the showers, sinks and toilets are all filled with blood too."
"Stay on the line," the operator requested. "I have officers on the way, they should be there in 3 minutes or less."
It didn't take long for investigators to figure out the water had simply been dyed but practice and swim meets would be cancelled until further notice as everything had to be drained, scrubbed, flushed and refilled.
It was assumed that the dye in the showers, sinks and toilets was delivered by way of a tap installed somewhere between the water meter and the facility itself so X-ray equipment and utility locating experts were brought in to try and pinpoint where that might be before digging up the entire water service. But the pools were another mystery altogether as the water in the pools isn't replaced very often.
It had become apparent these incidents were the work of more than one person.
"Tell me they know how he stopped the buses?" Mayor Vaughan asked. "It's been a week since we ran a bus and the east side of town is up in arms. People need to get to their jobs."
"I wish I knew," Chief Scott answered. "Our mechanics, the dealership mechanics and even independent garages have been all over them and nobody has found any reason why they should have stopped. All we know is what the drivers told us, the air pressure suddenly leaked down and the Stopmasters locked the breaks down."
"What are Stopmasters?" Mayor Vaughan asked.
"They're a sort of emergency brake installed on buses and heavy trucks that automatically sets the breaks in the event of low air pressure." Chief Scott explained.
"And the buses can't be driven without them?" Mayor Vaughan asked.
"The shop foreman tells us it's technically possible, highly illegal and very dangerous," Chief Scott replied. "He said that without Stopmasters the buses would have no brakes at all when they lose air pressure."
"Well I guess he knows more about bus brakes than I do," the Mayor said.
"Me too," Chief Scott agreed, "Before this happened I'd never heard of a Stopmaster."
"Are the buses safe to drive?" the Mayor asked.
"Well they've all be swept for bombs with dogs and every device known to us, the FBI and Homeland Security and all of them have come up clean," Chief Scott answered. "We've had drivers doing test runs and all of them are running just fine. As long as this madman doesn't stop them again I think they'll be fine."
"Then I don't know what else to do but call Donnie Turlington and tell him to issue a press release that the buses will be back on their normal schedules tomorrow morning." Mayor Vaughan said. "Thank you Wayne."
"Just doing what I can," Wayne Scott replied.
Detective Mark Steed was getting nowhere. Just like the FBI and Homeland Security his efforts to chase down IP addresses always went nowhere. Every IP address he followed was faked or simply disappeared after having been bounced off of server after server. He decided to leave his office and take a walk in the hopes that stretching his legs might clear his head.
Mark walked a few blocks to the Green Bean Coffee Shop on South Elm just two blocks down from the Cone Denim Entertainment Center where the smoke bombs had filled the building creating a panic and causing people to trample one another almost to death. What is it this guy wants? Mark thought to himself. What's his end game?
Two cups of coffee and Mark was on his feet again walking towards City Center Park and Center Pointe. He was almost to the park when he saw the abandoned Burton's Pharmacy building explode scattering debris in every direction and knocking down part of the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce building on North Elm Street!
Mark ran as fast as he could. People were running out of the building when he got there screaming, glass and debris everywhere. He could hear sirens in the distance as he ran inside doing what he could to get people out and render first aid. I don't know what his end game is, Mark thought, but right now he wants blood.
Please continue reading Chapter VI. December Skies