Chapter One

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Kita tapped her black painted nail against her tablet as she flipped through a stack of greasy fingerprinted papers counting them. The tablet said she should have fifteen vehicles, but there were only twelve intake slips from her mechanic Mickey. How do you lose three vehicles?

Kita went back to the delivery manifest on her tablet. According to the driver, who had signed off on the delivery, she had delivered all the vehicles. Somewhere between the drop-off area and the mechanics shed, they'd been lost.

Kita leaned back in her chair, and her head hit the ancient faux wood paneling that made her office dark and dirty. I don't need this tonight. I want to go home and sleep. The clock on the wall said it was after ten. A pile of orders and receipts sat on her desk needing to be processed. They'll have to wait. I don't make any money if I don't have any vehicles. Kita pushed off the wall with her head and gathered up her tablet and phone.

She navigated the boxes of papers that hid the filing cabinets and shelves full of parts to the door. The lobby contained a counter that was missing pieces of the 70s style countertop, a wall of cubbyholes for parts, and a tablet attached to the counter so customers could browse her inventory. The double glass doors led to the dirt parking lot. A side door led to the yard.

After locking her office, Kita left via the side door. An overhead cover protected several benches where customers could clean up the parts they pulled. She went around the corner, unlocked an electrical box, and flipped a switch. Two dozen lights lit revealing the rows of vehicles.

Kita walked down the central row. One side was all motorcycles. They made her most of her money. The rest of the yard was cars, SUVs, and light trucks. She specialized in older vehicles. Over half her inventory was built before she was born.

She kept her eyes open for her missing Indian motorcycle. Maybe Ralph thought the vehicles were finished and put them on the line. I hope not. I'll be here all night looking. She reached the end of the motorcycle line without finding her missing motorcycle. As she walked, she looked for a Dodge ambulance, which should be easy to spot, and a VW bug.

At the mechanic's shed, Kita didn't see her missing vehicles. She checked Mickey's desk to see if the slips were there, but all she found were fast food wrappers, soda cans, and muscle car magazines. Kita picked up one of the magazines. The girl's hot. Sigh. Like I'll ever have time for that.

Not seeing the vehicles, Kita resigned herself to her fate of having to walk the yard. Someone is getting an ass chewing in the morning. She just hadn't decided who.

As she walked along the back fence, a light shown over the fence and through the slating in the chain link. By the Crushing Depths, now what? Kita jumped on the hood of a car so she could look over the fence. A light was moving back and forth in the old auto parts plant next door. I don't have time for kids wanting to explore. She owned the plant. The goal was to someday expand her parts business into it. I can't have kids in there. If they get hurt, their parents will sue.

Kita jumped off the car and hurried to the back gate. She undid the lock and pulled the gate open. There wasn't much space between the plant and the fence, maybe twelve feet. The asphalt was cracked, crumbling, and weedy. The light had been in the parts loading area, but the door to the plant was in the opposite direction.

She reached the door and after fighting with the lock, was able to open the door. An old hallway with faded linoleum tiles led into darkness. Kita pulled out her phone and turned on the flashlight scaring a rat. Perfect.

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