Turn the Souls (Coming this fall.)

Rules of a Hostage Negotiator 

  1. Prolong the situation.
  2. Ensure safety of hostages.
  3. Keep things calm.
  4. Develop a relationship with hostage-taker. 

And when the time is right…Turn the Souls



 The worst part about any hostage situation is that there’s a one hundred percent chance it all started with some sort of violent act.

            The length of brutality all depends on how long it took the hostage-takers to subdue the victims. When this phase is completed, the hostage-takers will reveal their demands.

            Lieutenant Marcus Cane thought about the people waiting for him, as he sped down the streets of Hillsboro, Oregon. He went through the same process as his other thirty-seven hostage situations. While driving, Marcus thought about the violent phase, picturing the hostages as they were forcefully moved to a location, bound, and threatened.

            Marcus had a routine to review his training. This habit put his mind and emotions in a place where he felt in control.

            “Prolong the situation,” he whispered. The siren blared as he swerved through rush hour traffic. “The longer I can prolong the hostage situation, the better chance it will end peacefully. Force the HT to give details. Do not ask questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no.

            “Next, insure the safety of the hostages.” Marcus never liked that the safety of kidnapped people were second to prolonging the situation. Nevertheless, every minute spent wearing down the HT, would keep the focus off the hostages.

“Convince the hostage-takers to allow medical treatment, food, and water. Simplify the situation as much as possible. Ask for the release of hostages and even negotiate the release of a few weapons.” Marcus had once talked an HT into giving up four of his six shotguns, rather than releasing a hostage. This approach can limit the tactical risk while saving all of the hostages, rather than just a few. It comes down to a question: ‘What is more important; the guns or the hostages?’

            “Keep things calm,” Marcus said to himself. He was now three minutes away. “HT’s are volatile, with their adrenaline pumping. They will take out their aggression on the hostages. Whomever I speak with, I must seem credible. I will pretend to understand the reasons why this had to happen. My voice will come across with authority. I’ll appreciate the HT’s position, but I must be stern and not eager to please. At some point, I need to make sure the HT forms a relationship with the hostages. I will send food in bulk, so it has to be passed out. Same with medical supplies, blankets, and water.”

            Marcus arrived, parked, and hurried under the yellow tape that was lifted by an officer. While making his way through the chaos, he gazed at the fifteen-story building where the hostage crisis was taking place. A helicopter thundered from above. All eyes of the fifty or so officers were on him.

            In quick fashion, he made it to the Command Trailer. Marcus signed into the logbook, turned off his cell phone and placed it in the tray. Meanwhile, he listened as the Situation Commander, Daniel Fletcher, say on the radio, “Negotiator Marcus Cane has arrived and now has the ball.”

            Also inside the trailer was the Senior Tactical Operations Commander, Kevin Harlan. The Psychologist and Tactical Intelligence Advisor was Lindi Amerson, ready with her report.

            Marcus sat down at a small table that seated four. A yellow notepad and pen was ready for him. Fletcher and Harlan also sat down, but kept quiet. The window of opportunity to speak with the hostage-taker was narrow. Marcus had yet to make contact, which meant the HT’s were still in charge.

            Lindi joined them at the table with her laptop. “Okay Marcus, fire away.”

            Marcus picked up the pen and focused. The standard questions popped in his head. “What has occurred?” he asked, ready to take notes.

            “Seventy-two employees at Bradburn Industries have been taken captive. There are about ten hostage-takers, but that is not confirmed.”

            “Who initiated the call?”

            “An unidentified male called 911 from the building and claimed that he had taken all the employees at Bradburn Industries hostage and that no one should try to enter.”

            “What time?”

            “4:36 p.m.”

            “Have any police officers been injured?” Marcus knew that no officers had been injured, but he liked to ask this question right away, so that Fletcher and Harlan would understand that the officer’s safety was a priority. Everything was a mind game. It was Marcus versus the hostage-taker. Marcus versus the Situation Commander. Marcus versus the Tactical Commander. Marcus versus the media. And so on.

            “No police have been injured,” Lindi assured him.

            “Any hostages injured?”

            Harlan blew out a frustrated grunt. “Do we have time for this? Maybe we should work on getting those people out.”

            Marcus was surprised it took Harlan this long to become impatient. “You know the drill. I need to fully understand the circumstances before any decisions are made.” Harlan never seemed satisfied with this answer. Marcus had worked about fifteen hostage situations with him and they had the same conversation every time. Marcus glanced at Lindi and repeated the question. “Any hostages injured?”

            “We don’t know,” she replied.

            “Any suspects injuries?”

            “We don’t know.”

            “Any injuries outside the building?”

            “A lawn care worker twisted his ankle when the police arrived.”

            Marcus rolled his eyes up. “Really? How did that happen?”

            “He panicked and began running.”

            “Was he questioned?”


            Marcus focused on his notes. “Other than the 911 call, has any other contact been made with the HT?”


            Marcus looked at Harlan. “Is your team all in place?”

            “Yes. We are ready to enter the building and-”

            “Where are the suspects located,” Marcus interrupted.

            Lindi answered the question, while Harlan sprung from his chair. “We believe all the hostages have been taken to a large supply room in the basement. There are a few vents that the HT’s have blocked. There is a set of stairs leading down, but that is the only entrance. A tactical nightmare.”

            The secured phone rang.

            “Here we go,” Marcus said. “Let’s see what they want.”

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