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December 13, 2000
“They’re all gone?” the voice on the phone questioned.
“Correct,” the man said while watching the dark house through the front window. “The man, Gabriel, his daughter, and the other one they call Preacher left a few days ago. It appears that they are now missing…the rest of them left on a rescue mission.”
“Interesting,” the voice replied thoughtfully, “Any other particulars that you have been able to ascertain?”
“Only that it apparently went down somewhere in
and they think someone named Noon Byrk is behind it all.”
“I’ve never come across that name,” the voice uttered while computer keys clicked in the background. Several moments of silence passed before the voice spoke again.
“Looks like she was an art thief that graduated to kidnapping…emphasis on the word kid. Seems unusual that she would move up to adults.”
More clicking in the background, “Continue to keep an eye on the house and keep me apprised on who returns. Depending on who is still there, we’ll make a determination at that time whether to maintain the surveillance.”
“Roger that,” the man said before clicking off the call. Pulling the blinds back, he stared once again at the dark house across the street.
“Continue the surveillance my ass,” he mumbled while letting the curtain drop and turning to get his coat, “Time for some pizza…and beer!”
December 13, 2000
Abby was only half listening to the plump woman at the front of the bus. She had to give the woman credit though, even as she rolled off her memorized spiel, she was still able to inject a fair amount of emotion to something she had probably done a thousand times.
Slumped down in her seat, Abby turned once again to the window and watched the city drop away behind her.
She hadn’t believed her good fortune when she had happened across the tour.
Meet The Saami of Russian
The sign had literally screamed at her when she had first read it! Glancing at the details of the tour, she had immediately latched onto the idea as a means of escaping the city.
A two-hour drive to get there.
A bus full of tourists.
And hopefully only the smallest likelihood that anyone would be watching tour buses!
Heading in immediately to buy a ticket, she was deterred only by the price…11,000 rubles…
The trip would take most of what she had left, but she hesitated only a moment before slapping the cash on the counter. It was her best option for getting out of town unobserved, and the bus was scheduled to leave right then!
Moving her eyes forward again, she pulled out her remaining bills and counted them…500 rubles…around ten dollars.
Sighing, she folded the money and slipped it back into her pocket. She would have to deal with her lack of cash when the time came. For now however, she concentrated on the next step in her plan…finding a phone and hopefully getting in touch with someone.
Even with the lucky break of finding the tour and moving forward with her plan, the bus ride gave her too much time for the painful thoughts she had been trying to avoid:
Ya Su…smiling at her over the edge of her crib on the morning they had left.
Gabe and Preacher, who knows where they were…or in what condition…or if even alive…
And poor May…stuck at home and worried sick…
Pushing back the sadness that threatened to overwhelm her, she sat up in her seat and tried to focus her thoughts on something else.
The lady at the front of the bus had finally sat down, her droning voice now replaced by a local radio station. Closing her eyes, she tried to concentrate on the music coming out of the speakers, a mix of English and Russian songs popular in the eighties.
Gabe would like these, she mused, even though she knew he preferred the oldies of the sixties and seventies. As she started dozing off in her seat, images of her and Gabe standing on a stage singing the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night entered her thoughts. The one time she had been able to convince him to try karaoke; she had actually been surprised at how well he could sing when he tried.
It had earned them a rousing round of applause, especially since the bar had been full of friends of his that had never heard him utter a tune in key.
Roused from sleep by the bus bouncing through a pothole, Abby awoke with a smile on her face. Settling back into her seat once again, she noticed that the music had stopped, replaced by a series of commercials. Closing her eyes again, she was only half listened to the droning Russian voices as she waited for the music to help her drift back to sleep.
She didn’t immediately recognize the change in language when one of the commercials came on with a man shouting a message in English. Half way to sleep again, her mind suddenly seized on one of the phrases of the ad, a familiar word in a phrase that she hadn’t been expecting to hear.
Timepiece can help!
December 13, 2000
“I must say Patrick,” Michael Montana uttered while pulling in behind Joe and Beth’s car, “That may have been the most unusual way I’ve ever seen to try and find a lost operative.”
McGruder allowed himself a small smile. “We’ll have to wait and see if it garners us any results…although I’m hopeful.”
Buying a large block of advertizing from a local agency, Patrick McGruder had insisted on immediate release of the ad on all of the local radio stations, also insisting on a boisterous, irritating voice for the announcer when he delivered the English message:
Are you lost? Can’t find your way home?
Timepiece can help!
Although willing to spend much more in the effort to get his people back, McGruder had been surprised how inexpensive the advertisements had actually been.
He could only hope that his unusual idea would be effective.
Glancing back up at Michael, he found his old friend staring at him apprehensively.
“What’s bothering you old friend?” McGruder asked finally, “You look like you are hesitant about something. I do hope you are not overly concerned about me.”
Michael nodded, “Not so much concerned as a bit confused I guess.”
Patrick shook his head, “I’ve never known you to be confused about anything
Michael grinned while shrugging his shoulders. “You just haven’t been around me enough.”
Moving toward serious again, “Something about this whole mess just doesn’t add up…in my mind anyway. For one thing…this Noon Byrk is pulling out all of the stops to get to you. She kidnaps a girl just to get you involved, and then overpowers your operatives when they bring the ransom. She has apparently separated her prisoners, as well as put out a bounty on the girl’s head. We don’t even know where your two men are, and we can’t be sure that they are even still alive.”
Michael turned in his seat to face McGruder. “I know that you tried to kill her once and all, but this just seems a little over the top for mere retribution. I mean…getting shot at is part of her job! She should expect to get at least wounded once in awhile!”
Shaking his head in frustration, “I hate to say this Patrick, but I think you’re withholding something from me. There has to be something else!”
McGruder looked down at his hands, giving serious thought to his next words.
Montana, I tend to compartmentalize my
thoughts too much I guess. It’s funny, but that very thing was also recently
brought up to me by Gabriel Celtic.”
Looking back over at Michael, he realized he was digressing.
Sighing heavily, “Point of fact
Montana, I didn’t think
it was pertinent to your part in all of this. In reality, I’m not even sure
what part this plays in this whole mess.”
“You don’t know how what plays into this Patrick?”
“This,” McGruder mumbled as he reached into the courier bag at his feet. Sitting up again, he handed an old, leather-bound book over to Michael.
“I’m remiss to say that I’ve yet to delve into it. It is one of many mysteries to solve that I put away to work on in my retirement.”
Despite the seriousness in the car, Michael grinned at McGruder’s statement. “Like that would ever happen!”
McGruder smiled before continuing. “When I shot her that day, she dropped a pouch as she fell. Retrieving it later, I found nothing of value but this, although what actual value it contains I have no idea. Nevertheless, the Rune script inside and on the cover piqued my interest enough to keep it.”
Michael looked over the book as he held it in his hands. Around six or seven inches wide and ten tall, it was a good three inches thick. Running his hand over the cover, he observed the roughly drawn symbol engraved into the thick leather.
“It looks very old,” Michael observed while opening the book, “Well made, high quality paper or maybe some kind of skin…very old.”
Michael looked back up at McGruder, “She mentioned this…In her message?”
McGruder nodded, “She was ardent in her wording…Bring the book.”
“It would appear,” McGruder continued after a few moments, “That the book in your hands may indeed factor into the whole scheme of things to a greater degree than I anticipated.”
Michael shook his head. “I certainly don’t know what it would have to do with this whole mess, but we need to get this decoded ASAP. Maybe it will give us a clue about what’s pissed her off so bad.”
Michael glanced back at McGruder again, annoyance showing plainly on his face. “I can’t believe you withheld this Patrick,” he uttered while closing the book. “You of all people know how sometimes the tiniest things make all of the difference.”
Sighing in resignation, he apologized for snapping at McGruder. “Sorry I lost my cool Patrick, but this mission has just seemed to go off canter for me.”
“No need to apologize my friend…simply put…I messed up.”
Michael pulled the book into his arm as he readied to leave the car.
“I’m going to see if Beth thinks she can do anything with this,” he said thoughtfully. “If not, we may need to find somebody local we can hire, although I don’t know how easy that will be.”
Stepping out of the car, Michael leaned back in as another thought struck him. “We may need to fly the book somewhere to get it translated if it comes down to it. I can’t help but think that what’s in this book may be nothing…but it could be everything!”
Copyright 2015 J.T. Lewis
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