Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2274196-Excessive-Force-Chapter-One
by Piper
Rated: E · Novella · Action/Adventure · #2274196
A simple trip to help out the owner of an amusement park turns dangerous.
Chapter One

“So, we’re not going to have to share, are we?”
Casi MacKensey closed her eyes. He’d been quiet for all of forty-five minutes, a rarity. One would have thought with them older, it wouldn’t be such a problem. “Why? You share at home.”
“That’s bad enough. I thought the carbon copies were moving out at some point.”
Casi sighed, and shared a look with her husband. “Catherine says we should have added rooms.”
Joe shook his head. “I’m no carpenter and house additions are costly. They can handle it until the girls move to their apartment.”
“So how come you left Rielle?”
Casi turned around to see Jason playing a game on his iPad, earphones secure in his ears. He’d been quiet the entire four hours to Agawam. This was the one part she didn’t like and was the main reason she wasn’t going to let Ethan and Joe take all four boys alone. “Because this is a working trip.”
Jason’s head jerked up and she wondered how much he’d heard. “Working?”
Casi looked first past the boys’ seats to the brown minivan following them. “We ought to just leave you and Ethan here and go home.”
Chris yelped, sounding more kidlike than his age warranted. “That’s four more hours.”
Jason pulled out his earphones. “Working?”
“I’ll explain at the hotel.”
They pulled off the highway and stopped at a five-story hotel. The sign read Comfort Inn & Suites Springfield. It was another thirty minutes before Joe said anything since they had to check-in and head to their rooms. Chris saw immediately it was a double, with two queen-sized beds. “Oh, lovely. Not only are we sharing, we’re sharing.” He turned to his parents. “You two still don’t snore, do you?”
“I was thinking the same thing, but the only other option would be…” Ethan shook his head. “Well, if we got another room, it would be expensive.”
“We’re not getting another room. You’ve been on how many whatevers with Joe. You never shared?”
“That might be considered a loaded question.”
Catherine slapped his arm. “Well, I shared a bed with Casi often. We can always make you two share a bed.”
“That would be intolerable cruelty,” said Ethan.
Chris opened his mouth but one look from his mother stopped him. She cleared her throat. “We were thinking that all four boys would share the other room.”
Chris’ cousins, the same age as the carbon copies and twins as well, shared a grin.
“Jake,” warned their mother. “We will rethink it if it’s a bad idea. And no influencing your younger cousins.”
“Mom,” said Josh, rolling his hazel eyes. “Really?”
Ethan started to say something, and stepped completely out of Catherine’s reach. “Well, it’s been said I influenced your uncle…”
Joe promptly slapped his partner’s shoulder. “Shut up.”
“You said working trip,” said Jason.
Joe took a breath. “Two Rivers Amusement Park is just up the road. There’ve been some issues there.”
Chris shook his head. “Oh, no, I saw this in…” He had to think a minute. “CSI. I know what happens, the biggest roller coaster will malfunction and boom.”
“Nothing that drastic has happened.”
“Yet,” Casi muttered, still not looking happy.
“What has happened?” asked Jake Ashworth. Like his twin, he had hazel eyes and light brown hair. Sometimes he was the more serious of the two.
Ethan cleared his throat. “The newest ride is an accelerator coaster. It punches out of the start faster than most coasters. When they were testing it, without anyone mind you, they noticed it exceeded safety regulations.”
“Well, it’s new,” said Catherine. “Bugs in the system.”
“That might be true if it was just set up but it’s been up for seven months and they’ve been working on it non-stop. Quinlan says he’s had countless people pester him in person and online for not opening up Explosion.”
Casi made a face. “Who comes up with these names?”
Chris turned to his mother. “Well, there’s this game you can play, be your own roller coaster tycoon.”
“I’ll throw something at you.”
Chris sighed. “Fine.”
“The park is situated between the Westfield River and the Connecticut River, hence the name,” said Joe. “John Quinlan’s worried this might be the end. The amusement park has been family-owned for five generations. He’s been fighting to keep it as entertaining as Six Flags which is only a stone’s throw from Two Rivers.”
Chris perked up. “They have that new ride, Superman. I’ve seen it online. It’s a rush.”
“Which is why John Quinlan fears if these mishaps keep occurring he won’t be able to stay open. He’s an Agawam native and contributes to the town with his revenue. It gives the hotels clients and for the people who don’t want to do the amusement park, there are plenty of options. Granted, things might stay the same if he closes down, but he doesn’t want to risk it.”
Casi nodded slowly and looked at her sister. “We came here as kids. None of the new fancy stuff like inverted or virtual coasters. They had the old out and backs, most of them wooden. Remember Cyclone Express?”
“How could I forget? My hip still hurts.”
Casi rolled her eyes and saw the curious expressions. “Cyclone Express was a wooden out and back and had wooden partitions between the seats. It jerked so hard on the curves, we’d hit the partition.
“Does it still have the old Ocean View on the north side?”
Joe nodded and set down a pamphlet. “Here’s a map of the park. John told me they were one of the first ones to incorporate a water park.”
Casi was closer so she unfolded the map. It had a detailed full-color map with a legend at the bottom. “Cat, they still have Racer. Remember that one?”
“Is that the one with the really long slow ride up at the beginning? Then…” She looked at the four younger people in the room and smiled. “And then…well, you’ll just have to find out.”
Joshua frowned. “That’s just evil, Mom.”
Their mother laughed low in her throat. “Why ruin the surprise?”
“Can we go?”
“We’re all going,” said Joe. “Quinlan has already set it up. We have passes for the week.” He watched all four boys head for the door. “One thing, though. The working part is Ethan and me. Not you. Any of you,” he emphasized, giving his sons hard looks.
Chris frowned. “It’s not like I’m going to break my leg again. And it wasn’t my fault.”
“You’d better not break anything. You were the grumpiest son of a gun all eight weeks,” ordered Casi.
“Well…Rielle put it a bit more colorfully…but I don’t want to get her in trouble…I’m shutting up now.”
Joe pushed past the boys to the door. “Let’s go.”
Chris waited for a heartbeat. “So, did we decide on who is sharing with who? Or is that whom?”
Casi slapped his shoulder in passing. “Behave.”
It was lunchtime now and traffic was heavy. What should have taken only ten minutes from the hotel to Two Rivers took more than thirty. They finally reached one of the two parking lots and saw that both areas and been recovered and re-striped, looking brand-new. Joe parked and went to talk to a man standing next to the multi-gated entrance. Cars filled the parking lots but there were only a few going in.
Joe motioned to them and they all headed in, through the gate marked season pass. Their hands were stamped and they stood on a wide paved street named Central Avenue. Shops and restaurants lined Central Avenue which fed into what was called Central Plaza. A huge brass fountain in the shape of a life-size mermaid holding a shell that spewed water was in the center and Chris could see paths radiating off the circular plaza heading off in various directions. He was itching to explore.
Joe didn’t let them loose yet. “I want to keep an eye out. John Quinlan is fairly certain it’s not his staff, even the recent hires. He thinks it might be someone who’s a regular and comes often. He admits there are spots along the perimeter that aren’t completely secure and he’s working on that. Keep your eyes open, listen and observe. You have your phones, text me or Ethan if you see anything odd or wrong.”
The four younger men nodded. Casi watched them head off. “And us?”
Joe almost said no. But he knew she’d do it anyway. “Same thing. I hope I don’t have to mention you’re not working either.”
Casi snorted. “I just want to ride Cyclone Express again.”
“Hmm, maybe a good thing I have some extra padding now.”
“In all the right places,” said Ethan, only to have his wife slap his arm. “What? Oh, said that out loud?”
She slapped him again. “Ethan. Behave. Better than you did in Hawaii and with that Sci-Fi convention.”
“That was like thirty years ago.”
Joe sighed. “Valley Girl doesn’t suit you.”
“Neither does that shirt.”
Joe didn’t answer, he was watching his wife and her sister walk away. “Speaking of Hawaii…” said Ethan, in an odd tone.
Joe shook his head. “Don’t.”
Ethan sighed. “Stop it. Let’s go find Quinlan.”


Chris looked at everything. The walkways were swept and free of debris. There were trash cans everywhere and it seemed the visitors made sure to dispose of their garbage the right way. The path they were walking had kiddie rides on their right, and huge roller coasters on their right. One looked like the traditional out and back, the framework wooden. “Want to ride it?”
Jason looked up at it. “It’s built of wood.”
“Well, you’re not Jonny Storm, so I wouldn’t worry.”
The line moved quickly and soon they were in the car right behind the first one. A red-haired girl was riding in the first car and she looked excited like she couldn’t wait. Chris thought about his aunt. “What was the name of this one?”
“I didn’t catch it.”
Chris shifted in his seat and saw the wooden partition separating him from his brother. “I think I know. Look.”
Jason didn’t bother. “Look.” He was pointing at the line.
Chris twisted around and saw his mom and his aunt in line. “That’s just weird.”
“Why? Mom was our age once. Why wouldn’t she like roller coasters? Or anything else?”
“I can’t explain it. The scary thing is I can see her at our age, looking just like the carbon copies. But Ashlan doesn’t do roller coasters. Remember that little one we rode at that carnival? She threw up the second she was off and Courtney had her eyes closed the whole time. What’s the point of riding if your eyes are closed?”
“You can imagine you’re flying.”
“Whatever. You think when this is done, we can go to Six Flags, check out their coasters?”
Jason rolled his eyes as the ride took off. It was jerky and he could smell the oil on the rails. Every time, they went downhill, the girl in the front car with her auburn hair flying would throw both hands up in the air and scream but it wasn’t a scream of terror, it was joy.
Finally, the cars pulled into the loading zone. “Well, she had fun,” said Chris as they left the out and back roller coaster. “Look. Hypercoaster. Come on.” He noticed the girl was headed in the same direction. “Man, to live this close to a theme park. What fun.”
Jason sighed and got on the coaster with his brother. This one was fast with two complete loops that had his head swimming before it was done but he wasn’t complaining. He didn’t complain until their feet were once again both on the ground. “I’m hungry.”
“That’s usually my line. Look, there’s Chaos. We’ve got to ride that one.”
“And food?”
“What about it?”
“We’re going to ride all the coasters before we eat something? Breakfast was like nine hours ago.”
“Seven, but who’s counting. Okay, we’ll go find something after Chaos.”
Jason thought about it and sighed. “If it’s as topsy-turvy as the last one, maybe it’s better than those Pop-tarts were a long time ago.”
“Feeling a little queasy?”
“Oh shut up.”
They found the end of the line for Chaos, a floorless roller coaster, and Chris noticed the girl was in the line in front of them. “She must really like coasters.”
“Why sound so surprised? Mom likes them.”
“That’s just…not right. I mean she’s like twice my age or is it thrice since…” His voice trailed off as this guy walked up in baggy jeans that were ragged at the hems, an oversized New England Patriots jersey, and a cap worn backward. He was wearing sunglasses and striding along slowly like he was thinking of cutting in line. Chris muttered something under his breath.
Jason frowned. “Did you just say ‘ice, ice, baby’?”
“White boy trying to be gangsta, what else could it be?” Chris watched the man slip between two girls on their phones, his right hand moved and suddenly he took off running, Chris immediately set off after him.
Jason frowned as the red-haired girl let out a shout and started running too. Then Jason saw the cross-body bag he’d noticed her wearing was gone. He took off after her. At Central Plaza, she spun around. “What?”
“My brother and I saw what happened. He took off after the guy.”
She slowly turned around but the park was crowded. “Where?”
Jason sighed. “I don’t know.”
The girl shook her head. “I have to talk to my uncle. Come on.”
“I have to find my brother.”
“This is a big park, I know. You’ll never find him on your own. He could literally be anywhere.”
Jason took a breath. That’s what bothered him. “I have to find him.”
“Uncle John can help.” She pointed to the tall light pole nearest them. “They have cameras, we can track them.”
Jason remembered his father calling the owner John Quinlan. “John Quinlan is your uncle?”
“How do you know him?”
Jason sighed. “My dad and my uncle came here to help figure out the sabotage. We came along for the ride…” He gestured around the park. “And the rides.”
She didn’t even smile. “It’s getting worse. I’m Bree Quinlan.”
“Jason MacKensey.”
“Come on.”
“I really need to find Chris…”
Bree tossed back her auburn hair and looked like she wanted to argue but she didn’t. “Is he a trouble magnet?” she asked hesitantly.
“You have no idea.”
Several screams echoed through the air coming from behind Bree. She twisted around and looked. “That’s the water park.” She and Jason took off running to find several people hauling their kids out of a large pool that was called Rip Tides.
Jason saw no one who even remotely resembled his brother or the Boston Celtics T-shirt he’d been wearing. Then he saw the blood in the water.

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