Below is an excerpt from the Permuted Press book, "Down the Road: The Fall of Austin"
Wednesday April 13th
Disturbance Call, Riverside Apartments
“I’m still tired.”
“Well, I thought you had a Red Bull before we came in?” asked Mike, behind the wheel of his white and blue Austin Police Department cruiser.
“I did, but I’m still tired.”
Officer Mike Runyard and his partner Derek Tucker had just clocked in at five after their big bust the night before. The duo was in line for a commendation, as well as several other privileges from administration. The bust was a boost for the department, and the Austin American Statesman had interviewed them briefly before they hit the beat. They did not allow them to take pictures of them, though.
Mike turned the cruiser onto Riverside.
“Did you ask for nights?” asked Mike.
“We always work nights,” Derek replied.
“I could do for a day shift myself.”
“Nothing happens during the day but car wrecks.”
“People get murdered during the day, too.”
“You mean they find the murders during the day.”
Mike passed the Taqueria Vallarta #3. Derek licked his lips and said, “Hey, we should eat there for lunch.”
Mike didn’t answer. He was trying to make sense of the night and day shift differences.
“I mean, I guess those bank robberies count for something. But there’s no high speed chases at night.”
“There’s high speed chases at night. I saw a bunch last night on Fox’s World Craziest Car Crashes.”
“Well, I’ve never done one at night.”
“You’ve never been in a high speed chase ever,” jabbed Derek.
Runyard turned the cruiser onto Willow Lake Drive.
“Oh, Taco Bell,” said Runyard. “Let’s eat there instead.”
“You’d eat corporate Mexican food over authentic Mexican food?” challenged Derek.
“It can’t be authentic unless we’re in Mexico.”
“You don’t have to be in Mexico for it to be authentic.”
“People from Mexico making the food doesn’t make it authentic.”
“You’re a looney.”
“I’m just tired,” said Derek as they pulled into the apartment complex. “I swear, if these people, whoever the hell they are, if these people fuck around, I’m kicking their ass.”
“Don’t talk like that, man,” said Mike as he stepped out of the vehicle. He clicked the CB on his shoulder. “864 to dispatch. We’ve arrived at Riverside apartments. Over.”
The CB quickly buzzed its response. “10-4. Proceed with caution. Over.”
“I’m going to proceed with a boot up someone’s ass. That’s how I’m going to proceed,” said Derek with a grumpy anger.
“Would you cool it?” said Mike as they walked to the H building.
“I’m cool. I’m cool.”
The two walked past the F building. They were old buildings, probably built in the early eighties, and had seen better days. Off white paint was chipped off the stucco, and the roof tile was old and worn. Windows to apartments were covered in a thin white crust from years of spray washing.
In the distance, a small group of racially mixed people were gathered, both on the ground and on balconies.
“That’s the H building,” said Mike.
“Someone’s definitely going to get their ass whipped,” said Derek, lacing the comment with a sprinkle of bigotry.
Cautious that any wrong moves could cause a riot, Mike erred on the side of safety and wisdom. Mike called back to command. “864 to dispatch. Large gathering of people at address of disturbance. Request assistance.”
As they edged closer, screams became audible. Derek began to dash to the building.
Dispatch held Mike back a moment.
“Dispatch to 864. What’s your 20? Over.”
Mike skipped protocol. “1700 Willow Creek Drive. Building H. Over.” He ran to join Derek.
People had already started to scatter. Most were street smart enough to know that cops in the apartments meant trouble, and no one wanted to be accused or questioned for anything. The further away from the men in midnight blue, the better. Most stuck around and tried to share information with the officers.
“She’s a bitch.”
“Deb was sick last night.”
Neither Mike or Derek could hear any of the comments. Their concentration and uncertainty had already given them tunnel vision, and everything was peripheral to the apartment and the front door. Derek was knocking on the front door when Mike arrived. The screams were most certainly emanating from right behind the door. Adrenaline was beginning to course through Mike’s veins, charging him with energy.
The cry for help was loud and clear.
“I need you to open the door, ma’am,” yelled Derek.
“I can’t,” came the fearful reply. Within, an obvious struggle could be heard from within as furniture bumped and crashed from inside.
“Let that door have it,” said Mike as both armed themselves with their service pistols. The door splintered at the lock and the two cops entered. Neither of them expected what they saw.
A young girl, no more than fifteen and a hundred pounds, was holding off a snarling and bloody young boy. The girl was hysterical, but focused enough on her life to hold off the boy with shoves and primitive front kicks from the corner of the room she was trapped in. The desperation was so intense, she seemed moments from giving up.
“Down on the ground, now!” yelled Derek at the boy. “Get on the ground, now!”
The boy turned around and faced the two officers, having ignored the door being kicked open. The men’s eyes widened. The boys face was sunken. Blood dripped from his mouth onto his white Kenny Chesney t-shirt.
“On the ground, now!” yelled both Derek and Mike. Though the boy looked crazed and the men were in physical danger, the men were gun shy. Austin P.D. had a bit of a publicity problem after four shooting deaths at the hand of A.P.D. officers. Two of the victims were shot in the back in what was described as a “struggle”. And though all four were acquitted and not held responsible for the deaths, it left a black mark on the department that locals would not allow the cops to live down.
But Derek had a solution he was more than prepared to use as the boy advanced toward them. He holstered his gun and grabbed the alternate weapon.
“I need you to stop, now!”
“The boy advanced.
“Stop, or you will be tased!”
The boy advanced, and Derek did not hesitate to fire the taser. The metal hooks pierced the belly of the boy and Derek set loose a steady stream of intense electric voltage into the body of the boy. The boy wiggled in pain and growled, saliva and blood dripping from his mouth. He fell to the floor and was not released from the electric bondage for several more seconds.
Mike took the time to run to the girl, who was crouched and crying in the corner of the living room. Her hands, caked in blood, were covering her face. Mike saw a large section of her forearm had been removed by what appeared to be an obvious bite.
“864 to dispatch. At least one severely injured white female. Possible bite. Need an ambulance. Over.” Mike unclicked the C.B. and reached for his safety gloves. “Ma’am, everything’s is going to be alright. Is there anyone else in the house?”
Behind her hands, she nodded in the affirmative.
Dispatch buzzed near his ear. “Dispatch to 864. Ambulance en route. Over.”
Derek was still trying to control his suspect, who was shaking and recovering from the punishing electric onslaught.
“Put your hands behind your head!” yelled Derek at the subdued boy. The boy instead began to rise again. “On your back, son,” yelled Derek before zapping the boy again. “I can do this all day, boy.”
Mike tried to get more information from the girl.
“Where are the other people?”
The girl did not remove her hands, but whimpered, “Down the hall.”
Mike wanted to salve her wounds, soothe her in this time of traumatic horror, stop her tears. She couldn’t be more than fifteen, and was in intense shock. But he had to check the other room.
But something else was soon to distract the officers.
“That’s fuckin’ bullshit, you assholes!” yelled a random apartment tenant who had gathered with others at the open front door.
Derek let up on the taser long enough to give the man an earful. “Get the fuck out of here, asshole, or I’ll arrest you for interfering with police business!”
“Fuck you, bitch! I ain’t afraid of a pussy that tasers a twelve year old kid!”
“Get away, now!” Derek was tempted to pull his gun.
“Fuck you, bitch! You can’t even keep the kid down! Pussy ass bitch mother fucker!” The guy was a master of stringing colorful metaphors together.
The tenant pointed behind Derek. He turned to see the boy had risen again and was reaching out to grab him. A simple pull of the taser trigger sent the boy to the floor, convulsing again, breaking wind before soiling his pants with excrement.
Mike took the moment to run to the hallway. Every other door was open but the one at the end of the hallway. The white door was closed and stained with bloody handprints, as if someone was clawing to get in. Small puddles of blood were setting in the carpet.
The other rooms were informally secured by Mike before he advanced on the locked door. Swallowing his fear, Mike walked to the door and called out, “Who’s in this room?”
A moment passed before Mike heard a soft cry above the harsh words Derek and the tenant were sharing. “Help.”
Mike stood back and kicked open the door. The lights were off and the shades were drawn, casting a dark pall across the room. A human form was crouched in the corner. Mike flicked the light switch to no avail.
He moved to the blinds and allowed the sunlight to infiltrate the room. Long lines of dust floated in the soft rays of the solar magnificence.
The figure was revealed.
An older woman, arm bitten, was holding a baby in her arms.
“Help us,” she whispered. Her face was pale and her eyes sunken. She was sweating profusely. She had been using a shirt to wipe the blood off of her arm.
The taser crackled and cackled again in the living room.
The baby, an angel in the pit of hell, was sound asleep in the woman’s arms.
“Everything is going to be alright. Help is on the way.”
“Please, take my baby girl,” she whispered, breathless and without energy, before closing her eyes and exhaling a long, sustained breath.
“Ma’am?” said Mike in a panic.
The shoulder C.B. shouted in Mike’s ear. “826 to 864. What apartment number? Over.”
The baby seemed comfortable despite the passing of the mother, so Mike reached for the C.B. and tried to relax.
“864 to 826. Building H. You can’t miss it. Over.”
The body twitched. Mike grimaced in confusion. The shouting in the other room continued and the taser was triggered to life again.
Mike reached for the baby, but 826 called again.
“826 to 864. Building Adam or building Henry. Over.”
The woman’s eyes slowly opened and Mike breathed a sigh of relief.
But something was seriously wrong. The woman’s eyes were cloudy. Stricken. They were clearly like the boy’s eyes in the living room. The one that would not stay down from being tased.
Her grip on the child changed as well. The baby began to fall from her arms before she took notice. The woman looked at the sleeping child.
Mike immediately made a confused connection between the boy and the bite in both the girl and the woman as she gazed at the child. It was as if the woman was taking in the warmth of the child’s flesh, or perhaps smelling its aroma.
Sensing the danger, Mike made a choice. He reached for the baby and snatched it from the arms of the rising woman. He stumbled backwards, cradling the child and cushioning the fall. The baby wiggled in annoyance, trying to regain the previous comfort.
The CB buzzed to life again. “826 to 864. You there? Over?”
Runyard panicked. “H as in Henry. Get over her now!”
The woman was now on her feet and stomping toward Runyard. Lifting his right leg and chambering it, he sent a front kick to the belly of the beast. She flew into the sliding closet door, knocking down the barrier and various children’s clothes. Somewhere in the wreckage, a children’s music box came to life, chiming the familiar tune “London Bridge”.
Mike pulled out his taser, prepared for a possible return of the creature. He didn’t want to yell at the person in fear of waking the infant. He also knew from the repeated on-and-off cycles of the taser from the living room something was extremely wrong.
As the dulcet tones of London Bridge echoed from the closet, the woman rose again. Mike looked her in the eyes. They were cloudy. Vacant. Sad. She was reaching not for him, but for the baby.
Runyard could not let her get any closer. He pulled the trigger and released the barbs. In mere moments, they connected, and he released the electrical power of the taser. The woman shook helplessly before falling to the ground. And like his partner in the living room, he would repeat the same action for the net few minutes until help arrived.
In his arms, the baby nuzzled up against him as if seeking a breast to suckle. Finding a pacifier nearby, he placed it in the baby’s mouth, and though it was not providing nutrients, it was very comforting.
Pulling the trigger again, Mike wept.
/ / / / / /
Help arrived moments later, and the mother and boy were cuffed and gagged. The tasing didn’t stop, either. Before long, the two were so uncontrollable that they were hog tied and tossed into a patrol car. They never stopped rustling.
The medics from the ambulance treated the wounds of the young girl and placed her in a gurney. Runyard approached her.
“Thank you for saving me,” whispered the girl.
Runyard looked at the wrapped wound, then looked at the girl. She was now very pale and low on energy. She was sweating profusely from a fever.
Runyard moved to a medic. He had a suggestion to make that hurt his heart.
“Sir, I’m not sure what’s going on here, but I think you guys could be in danger. I need ya’ll to cuff the girl to her gurney. I also recommend you gag her.”
“I don’t know what’s going on or what happened in there, but I think it might have something to do with the bites. Like some kind of infection or something.”
The medic looked to the police car where the two suspects were bound and still fighting inside the vehicle in a relentless attempt to escape.
“Who’s going to tell her?” asked the medic.
Mike sighed, then approached the girl.
“What’s your name?”
“Hi Brandi. My name’s Mike. Nice to meet you.”
“Nice to meet you, too.”
She was so nice and polite. Mike feared for her life.
“Brandi. I’m afraid you’re in grave danger, and a danger to the people around you.”
Brandi, exhausted and dying, just nodded.
Mike worked the cuffs onto her wrists and onto the gurney. “I’m afraid you might get sick like your mom and your brother. Very sick.”
“She’s not my mom. She’s my stepmom.”
“Brandi, the medics are going to put something over your mouth in case you get sick like your family. Don’t be afraid. Everything is going to be alright.” Mike hated lying.
“Say a prayer for me and my family,” she whispered. “And thank you.”
“I will,” said Mike.
The medics began to gag Brandi with gauze, wrapping it around her head and mouth.
Mike walked away.
“I tased that little bastard at least fifteen times. He should be dead,” said Derek, approaching his partner. They watched as the Crime Scene Unit arrived and began yellow-taping the scene.
“I hit the mom at least ten times,” said Mike, lighting a cigarette at his car. A stack of paperwork awaited them at the car.
Derek asked what was on both of their minds. “What the fuck is going on here?”