Darkness surrounded Sheriff Jenna Alton as she pressed her back against the cold brick wall. Heart pounding, she reached for her weapon to find nothing at her side, no Glock, no flashlight or phone. Empty pockets lay flat and the thin material was no barrier to the cold seeping into her flesh. Heart hammering, she edged along the alleyway. The stink of garbage from the overflowing dumpsters caught in her throat like sour milk. Terror claimed her, closing her airways and making it hard to breathe, but she must move on. Legs heavy, she dragged them, step by step to the dumpster, and climbing onto an upturned trash can, peered inside. A young girl, eyes fixed in death, her neck a bloody smile, lay tossed out with the garbage. Horrified, Jenna jumped down and pressed her fist to her mouth to contain the threatening sob. She would be next if she didn’t get to safety. Keeping to the shadows, she reached the end of the alleyway, and peered at the empty blacktop. Stores lined the road and their glass façades stared back at her like the unforgiving blackened sockets in a skull.
Grasping at the moss-covered red brick wall, she edged forward. Ahead, shadows crept toward her. The black fingers seemed to grow longer and more threatening with each step. The unfamiliar straight road vanished into a thick mist. Nothing seemed right. Where was she? What was this place? She had to keep moving. An obvious threat loomed like an entity menacing her in the darkness. Close by, running footsteps echoed down the sidewalk. They were coming for her and she couldn’t suck in enough air to breathe, let alone run. She glanced down at her sticky hands and gasped at the blood dripping from her fingers. What had happened?
One thing was for sure, she had to run. Lifting her knees, she made it across the blacktop. Gunshots rang out. Bullets slammed into the wall beside her head, sending slithers of brick deep into her tender flesh. Running past the storefronts, she turned to see a figure soaked in blood. She swallowed hard. The reflection in the window wasn’t her. Blonde hair framed a once familiar face and panic gripped her. This couldn’t be happening. The face staring back at her was the woman she’d left behind a lifetime ago: DEA Agent Avril Parker.
Jenna screamed and her throat unclogged. The next moment, someone had her by the arms, shaking her. She screamed again. It was her time to die.
“Jenna. Open your eyes.”
The familiar voice dragged her from the horror. She blinked, immediately recognizing the person beside her. Her close friend and second in command, Deputy David Kane. “Dave?”
“Yeah.” He rubbed her arms. “You had another nightmare.” He glanced at the clock. “It’s almost five. I’ll make coffee. Was it the same dream again?”
Jenna pushed her raven hair from her face and nodded. “Yeah. I need to see a shrink. I’m losing my mind.”
“You know that’s not an option.” Kane stood and stretched. “I figure it’s time to tell me the truth about what happened during your last assignment. What exactly made the US Marshals change your face and hide you here in plain sight? Once you have it off your chest, the nightmares will end or I’ll be in the dream with you, and you know darn well I’ll never allow anything to happen to you.”
Jenna chewed on her fingers and then nodded. She trusted him implicitly. “Okay, but this is going to take some time, and you’re not going to like what I have to tell you.”