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December 12, 2000
Snake hung up the phone slowly, staring at it thoughtfully for several moments before turning to face the women again.
“My contact thinks she is holed up in a little town close to the Norwegian border…a place called Luostari.”
“Is that close to
Murmansk?” Raven questioned quietly while
holding May’s hand beside her.
Snake shrugged, “He thought it was around a hundred miles…a lot closer than we are.”
May had been quietly contemplating everything when she suddenly looked up at Raven.
“We need to go there.”
“May,” Raven replied worriedly, shaking her head, “Patrick McGruder is on this…he knows what he is doing…we don’t.”
May’s eyes lit up with determination. “We didn’t know what we were doing in
either, remember? But we did it because we believed in the cause…we believed in
Gabe. This is the man we’re talking about here…not to mention Abby and Preacher!
Any of them would do the same for
us…you know that!”
Raven stared at her friend, worried about both May as well as the others. Still…she hesitated.
“I think we should go too,” Snake finally uttered from across the room.
May and Raven turned toward him as one as he looked down to the floor. “If we’re not needed, what’s it hurt? I’d just hate to think that we could have made a difference and chose to sit here on our duffs instead.”
As Raven closed her eyes and shook her head in resignation, she finally relented.
“You’d better call Josh then Snake; we’ll need him in on this.” Turning toward May again with a small smile, “He’s been pacing around for two days anyway…waiting to hear from Abby.”
Snake called out from the phone as he dialed, “You have a world atlas or any kind of maps around here May?”
“I think so,” May replied with a smile, the confidence building in her with the decision to go. “If we don’t I’ll go out and find some!”
“I’ll make coffee,” Raven stated as she turned toward the counter. Truth be known, she was secretly glad they were going, having shared the feeling of helplessness since May had called earlier.
Even if they hadn’t known each other in the past, the mission they had shared the year before had bonded everyone to each other in ways that were hard to describe to someone that hadn’t been there. This amazingly diverse group of people was now her family…and it was the first time in her life that she could ever call anyone family…much less feel the love and acceptance that she now treasured.
Snake’s arms were suddenly around her at the waist, his face nuzzled next to hers.
“I think we’re doing the right thing,” he whispered as he kissed her cheek.
Raven sighed; the now familiar closeness of the man making her heart beat wildly in her chest.
“We are most certainly doing the right thing,” she replied as she turned and wrapped her arms around his neck. “I shouldn’t have hesitated before…it’s just…”
Snake nodded as he kissed her lips tenderly. “I know kid, I know what you had to deal with in your previous life, and I know it can’t always be easy to blindly accept what your heart is trying to tell you is right.”
Grinning now, “I’m just glad that it is me you’re with now.”
Pulling him to her, she once again thanked God for bringing Snake into her life…for bringing them all into her life.
She just hoped that they were all still in her life a week from now.
December 12, 2000
The chartered jet taxied off of the runway, heading toward a specified hangar on the west side of the airport. The area around the hangar was darkened more than the others…it was the last in line and the farthest away from anything else.
The pilot gave a moment’s thought to the eeriness of the place before looking back down at his console and continuing the shutdown procedure.
His copilot was at the wheel, the younger man overly nervous…afraid of hitting something unseen in the darkened area.
“I don’t know about you, but I could use a beer or two when we get done here,” the copilot mumbled as he eased the nose of the plane further to the right to miss an unlit ground light.
The pilot checked his watch. “No time on this one Larry,” he replied before going back to work on the clipboard in his hand. “They have the plane chartered for
Chicago tomorrow night. We’re to unload,
refuel and head back within the hour.”
“Well ain’t that just the shits,” the copilot mumbled. “Eighteen hours to here and then turn around and eighteen hours back. They sure don’t give you much time to enjoy yourself in this outfit.”
“Welcome to the world of private charter service,” the pilot mumbled while checking some gauges overhead. Glancing up, he noticed the doors of the hangar sliding open. “At least it looks like they are ready for us,” he continued, pointing toward the widening strip of light casting a glow in front of the hangar. “Head on in there and let’s get this over with.”
The copilot sighed as he turned the wheel to enter the hangar. “This whole trip is a waste anyway Phil…I mean who in their right mind…”
“Ours is not to reason why,” Phil interrupted, “But only to do and not die.”
Larry looked at Phil incredulously. “Oh that’s funny…you’re a funny man Phil…you just make that up?”
“Yeah,” Phil responded while stowing the clipboard, “I missed my true calling. I always wanted to do standup.”
Squinting his eyes, he made out two men waiting for them in the brightly-lit hangar. “There’s our receiving customers,” he stated while unbuckling his seat restraints.
“Typical Russian mafia if you ask me,” Larry observed as he applied the brakes and pulled back on the throttles, “Leather coats and greasy hair? Does it get any more predictable than that?”
“Yeah,” Phil replied while standing up, “They may want us to give them a bribe to take what we are already delivering to them.”
Pulling on his uniform coat, he spent a few second buttoning it before continuing. “You sit tight Larry, I’ll do the meet and greet and then we need to hightail it to the fuel station.”
“Roger that,” Larry replied with fake enthusiasm, “Sitting on my ass and sitting tightly sir.”
Phil grinned as he turned and made his way to the front hatch. Gripping the handle in both hands, he pushed down until he felt the seal on the opening release. Hitting the button beside it, he watched as the hatch lowered itself to the ground, the built-in stairway extending as it moved. Watching it intently to make sure it deployed correctly, he hadn’t paid much attention to the two men outside the plane until the hatch had completely deployed.
That changed however when his eyes moved up to find both of the men holding a gun in front of them…aimed at him!
The bigger of the two made his way to the stairs and proceeded up them, raising the gun at the top of the stairs and resting it on the pilot’s forehead.
“Welcumm to Wrussia.”
December 12, 2000
Abby pushed herself deeper into the darkened doorway while a couple passed her location. Thankfully they were both quite drunk and didn’t notice her.
After they were gone, Abby moved out away from the door behind her and stared across the street at a dilapidated hotel.
She didn’t know who would be after her…couldn’t know! It was quite apparent to her now that the note supposedly from Gabe had been a trick…but to what end? And where were Gabe and Preacher? If they had been captured along with her, why had they been separated?
Had they been killed?
Were they being tortured?
But for what? She couldn’t fathom why they had been taken, or even who would want to.
She closed her eyes and went over everything she knew again in her mind.
They had been sent to
Murmansk…to deliver a
In exchange, they were to pick up the hostage…a little girl…and bring her home with them.
What had gone wrong?
She could barely remember anything past their plane taking off!
“Shit!” She breathed when her mind once again stopped at that point.
Why couldn’t she remember?
Feeling exhausted, she once again leaned back against the door.
She had to get some sleep! What with working two long days at the bar with hardly any sleep…and then…the other thing…
She shivered involuntarily at the thought as the bile threatened to move up into her throat again.
She had heard the sirens soon after she had left the bar, but had kept up her pace to get as far away from the fire as possible.
Someone had put her in the bar…so she had to assume that same someone would be looking for her. Maybe not yet…but soon!
It would help if she knew who she was running from, or how powerful they were. Without knowing anything, she could be sealing her fate the first time she showed her face anywhere!
She glanced at the hotel across the street once again. By her reckoning, she was at least several miles from the incinerated bar. Surely she would be safe to hide out here for a single night!
Sighing, she pulled out the wad of bills she had liberated from Gregor. She had counted it earlier…22,500 rubles more or less. From her extensive research before the trip, she knew that should equal about $380.
Having no idea what a hotel room rented for, she would hope that it was no more than the equivalent of $50 a night…or less than 3000 rubles.
Sighing quietly, she closed her eyes again, letting her thoughts go momentarily to her family and friends…Gabe and May…Preacher…Josh….Ya Su…
Biting back a sob, she wiped at her eyes that had suddenly moistened before taking a deep breath and stepping out into the street.
“What the hell,” she whispered as she continued to put one foot in front of the other toward the hotel. “Killing me would probably be a relief.”
Copyright 2015 J.T. Lewis
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