The threat is deadly in Megan’s Cure. The Authors Collection.

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(Megan’s Cure is the latest Enzo Lee mystery thriller. In part, it is about what happens when a medical wonder drug and its discoverer become a threat to Big Pharma. Here is a chapter. 

Chapter 22

MEGAN FINALLY BROKE out of her trance and resumed her quick walk to the end of the railroad yard and the farmhouse. Then the 10-year-old girl heard the crunch of footsteps far behind her.   She knew they were coming for her and Megan picked up her pace.

She reached the last train car and stopped. The farmhouse was in the distance. She saw lights shining through the windows. But it seemed so far away. She could hear the footsteps behind her running now, closing fast. He would see or hear her in the open field and catch her before she could make it even half way across.

Megan imagined being run down out there. In her imagination, she saw a baby deer being pulled down and torn to shreds by a wolf. Instead of going into the field, she circled around the end of the last train car to the other side of the tracks and started doubling back.

Robert B. Lowe
Robert B. Lowe

She tried to be quiet. She could hear him in the gravel on the other side of the car as the man ran to the end of the train cars. Then he stopped. Silence. He was looking and listening for her.

Megan froze. She was at the end of one of the cars. She moved as quietly as she could, taking the four or five steps until she was deep in the shadowy space between the huge cars. She moved backward until she felt the metal of the undercarriage touch her shoulders. It was cold and solid, like part of a building or a huge rock. Then, she squatted and scrabbled backward slowly until she was underneath the car. She got down on her knees in the dark, stifled her wince as the sharp gravel dug through her pants and into her skin. She waited.

She heard him walking toward the end of the cars and then crossing over to the other side as she had done. He moved slowly up along the side of the cars in her direction, retracing her route. He was patient and unhurried now. Megan heard his steady breathing. He stopped every few paces. Maybe he paused to see if he could hear her. Perhaps he was dropping down to peer under the cars. It was pitch black underneath in the shadows away from the light of the stars. Megan held her hand directly in front of her face. She couldn’t see a thing.

She suddenly was shivering uncontrollably. She clamped her jaws together so her teeth wouldn’t clatter. She was so scared she could hardly breathe. She fought to control herself. Surely, he could hear her gasps.

Megan tried to relax. She closed her eyes and thought of something else. She pictured herself wading in the bay at home. The sun reflecting bright and hot off the water. Her feet sinking into the fine mud, raising underwater puffs of silt with each step in the warm ocean.

She heard him walk past her hiding place and then continue on several paces until he stopped again. Silence.

 

* * *

The hand that suddenly grabbed Megan’s arm felt to her as if it was made of metal, it was so strong. There was no resisting as it jerked her from underneath the train. It was all she could do to keep from slamming her head against the undercarriage and limit the damage to a glancing blow.

He pulled her roughly away from the car as if she was a bag of potatoes dragging on the ground.

“Got you, you squirt,” he said as she pulled away from him. He held her in that iron grip as he used his other hand to feel around his own waist.

“Dammit, dammit, dammit,” he swore under his breath as he reached the holster strapped on the left side of his belt. His Smith & Wesson was gone. It must have fallen out in the collision. In the confusion, with the airbag smashing him in the face, he hadn’t checked to make sure he had it.

He held the girl by the upper arm. She was fighting him. He squeezed her arm until she winced in pain. Then he gave her a hard shake. She was his. It was over now.

Murphy grabbed her at the throat with his free hand. The girl stopped moving completely now and stared at him, eyes bulging. He could strangle her like this. It would be over in five minutes. But Christ. She was just a kid. He had nieces about the same age. Hell. Thank God there was no one else around to witness his squeamishness. He was alone. He could do what he wanted. He’d get the gun. Finish her that way. Fast. He didn’t need to feel her death throes. Hauling her back to the car would be easy enough.

Murphy hoisted Megan above his right shoulder and carried her with his arm pinning her around her middle. She wasn’t heavy. He’d carried bags of fertilizer around his yard that were heavier.

He slapped her hard on the side of her face with his free hand. He held it poised for another blow.

“Stop moving,” he said. “Or I will make you stop moving. I’m not kidding.”

Megan was still and let herself hang from his shoulder as Murphy walked back to the two damaged cars. Murphy could feel her silent sobs.

His arm ached a little by the time he reached the cars. He was ready to set the girl down. When he drew even with the front bumper of the Navigator he glanced back at the wrecked Escape. It was empty. Novak was gone.

“Oh shit,” he said. It was his last thought before Novak stepped out behind him from the opened door of the Navigator and swung the SUV’s tire iron with both hands as hard as he could. It smacked into the side of Murphy’s head.

If Megan hadn’t hit the asphalt and lain alongside Murphy, Novak might have immediately swung the tire iron a second time probably permanently rearranging Murphy’s face. But the girl was too close. It gave Novak a moment to see that Murphy was completely still. His first blow had caught him perfectly. In fact, Murphy would see double for the next two weeks and would never regain his sense of smell.

Novak threw the tire iron as far as he could into the darkness. Then he picked up a stunned Megan. He held her as he set out toward the distant farmhouse. Novak started to concoct the story he would tell in order to borrow a phone to call his cousin. And as the adrenaline left he began to hyperventilate. He had to stop, catch his breath and force himself to relax. Still he was trembling. He held Megan a little tighter to his chest and hoped she didn’t notice.

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