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Cotton FBI - Episode 04

Contents

  1. Cover
  2. What is COTTON FBI?
  3. The Author
  4. Title
  5. Copyright
  6. Witness Protection
  7. 1
  8. 2
  9. 3
  10. 4
  11. 5
  12. Next on Cotton FBI

What is COTTON FBI?

Your name is Jeremiah Cotton. You are a small-time cop in the NYPD, a rookie that no one takes seriously. But you want more. You have a score to settle with the world. And anyone who calls you “Jerry” will be sorry.

A new time. A new hero. A new mission. Experience the birth of a digital cult-series: Cotton FBI is the remake of JERRY COTTON, the most successful series of German novels with more than one billion copies sold, and it tells an entirely new story in e-book form.

Cotton FBI is published twice a month, with each episode a self-contained story.

The Author

Alexander Lohmann was born in 1968 in Munich. He studied computer science, German philology, and history, and has worked as a magazine editor. Reading The Lord of the Rings early on awoke his love of fantasy, which he has employed in several different novels. His penchant for tension-filled conflict led him to COTTON RELOADED. Alexander Lohmann is a freelance author, editor, and translator based in Leichlingen.

 

It was dark on the docks of the Upper Bay. A few isolated lamps were lit at the edge of the run-down pier and in front of the red brick buildings on the adjacent property. The smell of the sea, exhaust fumes, and decaying seaweed wafted in from the harbor.

As he had promised, the gate was open, and Laura Robinski hurried inside, crouching down low between the rusty containers.

Mira, she reminded herself. Her name was now Mira Anthony and her old life was history. After all these years, she had still never gotten used to it.

A noise made her flinch. A shadowy figure was hiding beside a pile of pallets. Mira’s free hand went to her bag.

The stranger in the shadows turned away and shuffled further into the gloomy darkness. Mira heard a muffled clatter and could vaguely make out the edges of the bulging bags in the man’s hands. It was just a homeless person looking for trash along the unsecured areas of the docks that he could use toward cheap booze.

Mira relaxed … as much as she could.

Noise drifted over to the harbor from the busier parts of Brooklyn. There was still activity there at this hour. Floodlights lingered on the rooftops.

The seedy warehouses that Mira was moving between were in an area that was dodgy and unsafe even by day. The cracks in the brittle concrete were filled with weeds. A few sparse containers stood amid the junk and old construction vehicles, which might have been simply parked there or perhaps were waiting to be transported as scrap. Now, at night, everything was deserted although Mira imagine smugglers and other gangsters lurking behind every corner.

But she trusted the man who had asked her to come. She owed him everything, and if he wanted to talk to her in this secluded location, he must have a good reason for it. She looked around. Come to the edge of the water, he had said.

Mira went to the end of the broad pier. A particularly dilapidated brick building with empty windows stood to her left. In front of it lay the remains of a collapsed metal shack — an even more hazardous mess of metal leading from the pier further out onto the water. The shadows between the supports and structures there were impenetrable.

Mira pressed her bag close to her body with her left hand as her right hand reached inside.

“Hello?” she whispered into the blackness.

A sound answered her from the shadows. She stepped back.

“Is that you?” Mira felt a lump in her throat.

“Yes, it’s me, Ms. Anthony.”

The familiar voice calmed her down. “What’s going on?” she asked. “Is something wrong?”

“Shhh!” the man hissed. “Come over here. I don’t want anyone to listen in.”

Mira hesitantly stepped closer. Her eyes became accustomed to the darkness and she saw the outline of the man between the rusty steel beams — a small man, barely larger than herself.

“What’s going on?” she asked again.

He pulled her into a dark corner under the steel beams. Her jacket grazed the sharp edge of a weathered metal plate.

“Do you have a weapon with you?” he asked.

Mira nodded. “Yes,” she then said aloud, realizing that it was impossible for him to see the gesture.

“Show me! Quickly!”

Mira fumbled for the pistol in her bag. Even though she had been holding onto the gun for a few minutes, she barely managed to get the weapon out. “Why?” she stammered. “Did they track us down? Oh, god! You promised me you’d take care of everything.”

“That’s what I’m doing. Give it to me!”

He took the gun from her hand. “A .25,” he said. “How cute!” He pushed back the slide, grunted, and looked in the chamber. “The safety is still on.”

“Anyway, there are …” Mira began.

He abruptly held up the gun and aimed it at her chest.

She fell silent.

“Sorry!” he said. “I am ending our working relationship.”

He pulled the trigger. The shot rang out in the narrow gap between the steel structures, thundered between the high sheet-metal walls, and reverberated away into the sky.

Mira spun around. Her heart was beating wildly.

The man behind her swore. She heard two more shots as she fled from the dark corner, scurrying between the beams, sheet metal, and various structures and around the corner.

She had always been afraid of firearms, and today she thanked god that she had only loaded blanks. It was as if she had foreseen that someday someone could use her own weapon against her …

The man was gaining on her. Mira had worn sturdy shoes for her trip to the docks, but the man chasing her was wiry and in much better shape. He would catch up before she even reached the street. She needed a place to hide!

Mira ran to the warehouse with the empty windows. Obstructing her path was the collapsed shack, which was essentially a pile of sheet metal that had partially slipped into the water.

“Mira!” the man called out after her.

As if she would stop now!

She stepped over the debris. The wind from the bay whipped against her face. She felt cold moisture on her skin. Her feet slipped on the metal, which was rough from rust and slippery from the water at the same time.

Then she felt a piercing pain between her shoulders. She tripped. Something clattered over the pieces of metal and slid into the water. For a second, her mind went blank. When she realized what had happened, it seemed so unreal, as if she were watching the events unfold from above.

The man had actually thrown the gun at her, like they were in some kind of second-rate movie!

And he had almost taken her down.

“Got you, bitch,” he choked out, panting.

She heard his footsteps on the metal. His hand reached for the hem of her jacket. Mira jumped to the side — and into the harbor.

She knocked against the metal that lay just beneath the water’s surface. The impact drove the air from her lungs. Mira slid further. The ground disappeared beneath her feet and the water flooded over her head. The cold hit her like a blow from a hammer. One wave after another enveloped her in the murky harbor water as she struggled to get back to the surface. The water tasted bitter and reeked of oil.

She gasped. She struggled. She choked for breath as she felt the wind and sea spray on her cheeks. A current took hold of her.

The lightweight boots on her feet dragged her down like lead weights on her legs. Again and again, her head was pulled under water, and when she came back up, the salt burned her eyes.

Mira lost her orientation. She spat out water and tried to identify anything she could in the dark. Desperately, she struggled toward the lights and sounds of the busier docks. She had no more strength or breath and couldn’t waste energy worrying about the man chasing her. Had he given up? Hopefully he had, because she couldn’t stay in the water any longer.

Mira reached a pier. She didn’t even know whether it was the same one that she had jumped from. Smooth concrete projected into the water, slimy wooden bollards stood along the edge, but a ladder was nowhere to be found.

She went under again. Struggled up once more, coughed, and sank again before she could even take a breath. Her clothes seemed to want to grab hold of her and pull her back under.

Her fingers slid over the concrete. By now, it didn’t matter to her whether the killer was still lurking around up there. She had to get out of the water. But in the darkness shrouding the river, she saw no way out.

Her cries for help were drowned out by the water that sloshed down her throat.

1

“A woman drowned in the harbor,” Jeremiah Cotton said. “This is hardly a case for the FBI, sir.”

He sat together with Philippa Decker in the office of his superior, John D. High. The head of the G-Team had called the two agents in to assign them their newest case.

Philippa Decker grabbed the papers on the table and flipped open the file. Meanwhile, Cotton enjoyed the view of the team’s control center from the boss’s perspective. The wide space beyond the glass partition was bathed in bright artificial light — a high-tech headquarters rife with huge monitors and technology that Cotton had only dreamt of during his time with the NYPD.

Mr. High looked over at him disapprovingly. “Would you do me the favor of listening to me, Special Agent Cotton? That would be the fastest way for you to find out why this case has landed with us.”

Cotton tore himself away from the view of the headquarters and cleared his throat. “Certainly, sir. Excuse me! It’s just that, for a boy from the boonies, this is all still pretty impressive, sir.”

John D. High scowled. “The death in the harbor was only the beginning,” he continued. “At first, it looked like a routine case for the police. The dead woman even had her purse on her, with all her ID.”

“I see, sir. Of course, that shouldn’t be taken for granted.” As a former cop, Cotton knew: A body found with papers allowing it to easily be identified was a godsend.

“The driver’s license and credit cards identify the woman as Mira Anthony,” Decker said. She had been listening while she flipped through the documents. “But it doesn’t end there.”

“Certainly not,” John D. High continued. “First of all, the police couldn’t find out what this Mira Anthony was doing in New York. Her last known residence, based on her documentation, was the friendly town of Collinsville, Alabama.” He looked at Cotton. “As a boy from the boonies, you know about such places, Special Agent Cotton, don’t you?”

Cotton, who came from a hick town in Iowa, felt a little deflated. “You could say that, sir,” he replied. “New York can be a dangerous place if you’re dropping in for the first time.”

A slight smile showed in the corners of Mr. High’s mouth. “I think it would be pretty hard to upset a woman like Ms. Mira Anthony from Collinsville, considering that the NYPD found out from their colleagues there that she died six years ago. Since then, she’s been resting peacefully and undisturbed in the cemetery of her hometown, which she never even left while she was alive.”

“The woman’s papers were forged,” Decker asserted. “She was living under the dead woman’s name.”

“Okay,” Cotton said. “This is a case for the FBI, but since when does the G-Team deal with fake IDs?”

Mr. High gestured dismissively. “We’re beyond that. Your former associates at the NYPD, Special Agent Cotton, found out even more before we took the case out of their hands. For example, our deceased woman was actually Laura Robinski — a freelance accountant and financial expert who used to work here in New York. She disappeared from the picture three years ago. It’s suspected that she was involved in money-laundering operations for the Mafia and had cheated one of her clients out of several million dollars.”

“I think I remember the case,” Philippa Decker said in a contemplative voice. “At the time, there was the question of whether Laura Robinski might have gone into hiding or whether the people she had cheated made her disappear.”

“Now,” said High, “it seems this question has been answered. Ms. Robinski was classified as a missing person at the time. We have a DNA profile for her. Assuming that the deceased didn’t also manage to falsify her genetic make-up, then we now know that Laura Robinski lived under a false name for three years.”

“But her previous employers got to her in the end,” Decker concluded.

“It was particularly stupid of this woman,” Cotton said, “to cheat the Mafia in New York and then remain in the city.”

“Stupid, yes,” John D. High remarked, “but professionally stupid. She didn’t just have false papers, she had a completely false identity. Along with everything that that entails. And when I say everything, I mean everything.”

“What’s included in everything?” Cotton grinned. “Please pardon the question, but it could be useful to me if I ever want to quit and you don’t want to let me go.”

“Not to worry,” Mr. High sighed. “I will make myself personally responsible for your early retirement if you continue to be as much of a nuisance as you were on your first cases here.

“Concerning this Laura Robinski aka Mira Anthony: Her new papers were all registered with the proper authorities, along with the associated photographs. Mira Anthony’s Social Security records make it seem as though she’d never died. She’s even still registered with the IRS.

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