Paradise Hacked (First Circle Club Book 2)

BOOK: Paradise Hacked (First Circle Club Book 2)
2.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Paradise Hacked

Alex Siegel

Copyright 2015 by Alex Siegel

Kindle Edition

License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

For more information about this book and others by the same author, please visit

Paradise Hacked is the second in the First Circle Club series. The books are:

1. First Circle Club
2. Paradise Hacked

Seams in Reality is an earlier four book series by the same author. Those books are:

1. Seams in Reality
2. Cracks in Reality
3. Breaks in Reality
4. Shards of Reality

The Gray Spear Society is yet another earlier series by the same author. Those books are:

1. Apocalypse Cult
2. Carnival of Mayhem
3. Psychological Damage
4. Involuntary Control
5. Deadly Weakness
6. The Price of Disrespect
7. Tricks and Traps
8. Politics of Blood
9. Grim Reflections
10. Eyes of the World
11. Antisocial Media
12. Sharp Teeth and Bloody Claws
13. Teller of Lies
14. Faith Defiled

Revision 12/20/2015


No author works entirely alone. I have a small team of friends and fans who help me produce the high-quality novels my readers expect. They are Samantha DeCarlo (art), Haley Leboulanger (editing), V. Aleks Haecky (editing), Bruce Turrie (proofreading), and Tanya Johnson (proofreading). Thank you for helping me be great!

Chapter One

"This is an ugly one," a police sergeant said.

Detective Thomas Haymaker turned to the man. He was wearing a vest over a light blue shirt. He had a little mud on his black shoes. He wasn't wearing a jacket despite the chill in the air, and Haymaker saw goosebumps on his bare arms.

"I've seen plenty of ugly," Haymaker said.

"Not like this. A couple of guys lost their breakfast. Brace yourself."

Haymaker visually surveyed the crime scene. The corpse was lying in a public golf course on the putting green of the eighteenth hole, near the flag. Haymaker wondered if the murderer had tried for a "hole in one." Police officers had formed a perimeter to keep bystanders away from the body, but the precaution was barely necessary. The sun had just risen, and sparkling frost decorated the grass. Only a handful of civilians were around so early in the morning. He didn't see any reporters, but when word got out, they would come.

Haymaker took another look at the surroundings to see if he could draw any conclusions about the crime. Columbus Park was on the extreme western edge of Chicago where the suburbs began. The grass and trees were in better condition than one would expect considering the neighborhood was pretty rough. He could imagine a murder occurring during the day after a nasty game of golf, but this death had happened before dawn.

Haymaker walked up to the police line and showed his badge. The officers politely let him through. He was a lieutenant in the Chicago Police Department. He investigated the murders which the department deemed too bizarre or too sensitive for regular detectives.

A blue plastic tarp covered the body. He didn't see any blood on the grass, so he assumed the corpse hadn't been moved.

Haymaker lifted the tarp.

"Oh God," he said.

It took a moment for his brain to make sense of what he was seeing. The remains were a scrambled mess partially buried in the ground. It appeared an enormously powerful impact had crushed the corpse. The extreme force had actually stripped meat from bones, exposing clean, white ribs. Some clothing was mingled with the flesh.

"Do you think he fell out of the sky?" the sergeant said. "Maybe a skydiving accident?"

Haymaker frowned. "Even a fall from high altitude wouldn't create this kind of carnage. Terminal velocity is just 120 miles-per-hour. It looks like this guy was fired out of a cannon straight into the ground. His head ended up inside his pelvis. And there is something else..."


Haymaker steadied himself and leaned in for a closer look. The corpse wasn't nearly as bloody as expected, and the meat was more brown than red. An odor reminded him of beef stew.

"He was cooked," Haymaker said.


"I've eaten steaks that weren't as well done as this guy. He was baked all the way through. I don't see any charring though. It was a slow roast. I'm guessing he was already dead before he hit the ground."

The sergeant blanched and gulped.

Haymaker looked around but didn't see any forensics technicians. They were late. In cases like this one, evidence needed to be collected quickly before it became contaminated.

He grabbed his phone and took pictures of the body. It never hurt to have some extra photographic evidence just in case.

He also took pictures of the surrounding area. Many footprints marked the soft putting green, but he expected most were from the police. He didn't see any shell casings or other suspicious debris. There were no tire tracks.

Identifying the victim was the most important next step. Without touching anything, he studied the corpse. It was wearing a green flight suit, and it had an oxygen mask.
A fighter pilot?
Haymaker wondered.
Did he fall out of the sky?

A commotion made him look towards the parking lot. A dozen men and women in business suits were walking briskly towards the crime scene. They had the purposeful expressions of government officials on important business.

Haymaker already knew the newcomers would cause trouble. He stood up and straightened his clothes.

The man leading the group yelled, "This is a federal investigation. I need everybody to clear out right now! Nobody touch that body!"

Most of the police officers fell back, but Haymaker stood his ground. "Who are you?" he demanded.

"Tom Anderson," the leader said, "Federal Office of Experimental Aero-Physics."

He had a lean, tapered body which filled out his dark blue business suit nicely. A scar under his left eye had a hook shape. He stood with his arms crossed, glaring aggressively. A military-style haircut and a straight posture made Haymaker think he was more than just a typical federal agent.

"I'm Detective Haymaker, Chicago PD, and this is my crime scene."

"Not anymore," Anderson said.

His associates were efficiently moving everybody else out of the way, police and civilians alike. Two men were holding a stretcher, and two others began the gruesome process of transferring the corpse to the stretcher. They were wearing blue latex gloves.

"Hey!" Haymaker yelled. "Don't touch that! It's evidence."

The federal officials didn't stop. He noticed most had guns in holsters under their jackets.

"I'll make sure you get an official report as a courtesy," Anderson said.

"Not good enough." Haymaker looked to the police officers who were standing around. "Hey, guys! Protect that body! This is still our case."

The officers tried to move in, but federal agents blocked them. Everybody gave each other stubborn, hostile stares. In the meantime, the process of cleaning up the body continued at a hurried pace. The agents weren't bothering to treat the evidence gently.

Haymaker didn't know what to do. He couldn't order a gun battle with the feds. Putting aside the legal and ethical questions, they outnumbered the police. The resulting paperwork would be brutal besides.

"Cut the crap," he said bravely. "I've never heard of the Office of Experimental Aero-Physics. I need an explanation right now, and it had better be good."

"My office is part of the Department of Transportation. We test advanced technologies that might be used in future aircraft." Anderson pointed to the corpse. "He was a test pilot working for a top secret research program. Obviously, a high-energy experiment ended very badly."

Haymaker narrowed his eyes. The story appeared to fit the facts on the surface. The victim certainly hadn't died in a conventional manner.

"Let me see some ID."

Anderson calmly took out his wallet and flipped it open. Haymaker examined a federal identification card which appeared authentic, but it was hard to know. He had never seen a badge for the Office of Experimental Aero-Physics before. He took out a notepad and copied down some essential details.

"Satisfied?" Anderson said.

"Not really," Haymaker said. "I'd like to know more about this experiment. How did the body end up in a golf course?"

"That's classified information, but I assure you, no foul play was involved. The man heroically volunteered to test cutting-edge technology with the potential for revolutionizing air transportation. We did our best to save his life, but as you can see, our rescue attempts were in vain."

"The body was cooked. Roasted."

Anderson raised his eyebrows. "Really?" He sounded genuinely surprised. "We'll perform a full scientific analysis."

"Why don't we let the Cook County Medical Examiner do that analysis? That way I'll know the results can be trusted."

"Not possible."

The agents had finished transferring the corpse to the stretcher. They had even collected all the small scraps of bone and flesh. The result was a pile which looked like the leftovers from a drunken cannibal banquet. The agents threw a white bedsheet over the top and jogged away with the stretcher. Haymaker's hopes for solving the mystery went with it.

"I'm not done with this case," he said, "or with you. I want to see your office and talk to the people there. I want to know you're legitimate."

"That won't be a problem." Anderson smiled disarmingly. "Contact information is on our website. Feel free to make an appointment."

"Let's do that right now."

"You'll have to make the arrangements with our secretary. Thank you for being so cooperative. Good bye."

Anderson and the rest of his crew walked off. Haymaker watched them go with a helpless feeling. He already knew making appointments with secretaries would be an exercise in frustration. That was code for "don't call us, we'll call you."

He looked back at the spot where the body had struck the ground. The only evidence which remained was some disturbed dirt. He remembered the photographs in his phone.
I have that much at least,
he thought,
and forensics might be able to get some blood out of the soil.

Haymaker was pissed off. Even if Anderson had told the truth, Haymaker still didn't like being pushed aside. The feds had no right to simply swoop in and steal a suspicious corpse without even a court order.

Of course, it was more likely Anderson had lied. The feds had acted like criminals trying to eliminate evidence of a crime.

Haymaker decided to pursue the investigation despite the obstacles in his path. He couldn't walk away from something this dirty, but the usual channels probably wouldn't work. Fortunately, he knew some people who were the manifestation of the word "unusual." Nothing was above their pay grade.

He walked away from the crowd and kept walking until trees surrounded him. He couldn't let any bystanders overhear. The morning was cold, still, and silent.

He made a call.

"Hello?" a woman answered.

"Sara? This is Detective Haymaker."

"Oh, hi! It's been months. We were starting to wonder if you didn't like us anymore."

"I've been busy," Haymaker said, "and to be honest, you make me a little uncomfortable, especially Lisa."

"I suppose I can understand that. Is this a business call?"

"I'm afraid so. I have an unusual case on my hands. It might be murder or just a very bad accident, but either way, I want to know what happened. I have some pictures for you to look at."

"I'll be happy to help anyway I can," Sara said. "I'm in our headquarters in Chinatown. We can meet here."

"You're not busy?"

"I'm just reading the latest issue of the
Journal of Forensic Sciences.
Should I call in the rest of the club?"

"Sure," Haymaker said, "but I want your opinion most of all. I'll head over there right now."

"Great. I look forward to seeing you again."

* * *

An unusual cloud formation floated high above the Columbus Park Golf Course. Even though a breeze was blowing, the white clouds remained fixed in place. The shape was reminiscent of a face staring straight down at the eighteenth hole, but only a sharp observer would've noticed. The face was smiling.

More clouds gathered nearby to create a second, similar formation. These clouds were darker and much less pleased.

"You're an incorrigible troublemaker," the second face said in a voice that sounded like a breeze blowing through a long tunnel.

"I'm impatient," the whiter clouds replied.

"Our ability to hide our work from the eyes of Heaven and Hell has limits. Dropping a corpse onto a public golf course tests those limits."

BOOK: Paradise Hacked (First Circle Club Book 2)
2.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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