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Murmansk is part of The Adventures Of Gabriel Celtic
December 15, 2000
My heart was breaking as I looked upon the burned-out husk of the building.
We had found Gregor’s, and now I wished we hadn’t.
“She wasn’t in there,” Preacher mumbled beside me, “I feel it in my bones.”
I could only nod in response as I was too choked up to speak. I’d only known Abby for a couple of years…only known of her for a couple of years. And yet, it now seemed that we had been together forever.
Since she had come into my life, I had worked hard to never regret finding my daughter so late in life.
Now I wished we had met earlier…that we had had more time.
“Did you hear me?” Preacher asked quietly, clasping my arm in his powerful grip. “She made it out Gabe, she made it out!”
“I want to believe you Preacher,” I croaked, my voice husky with emotion.
Turning to face him, “What the hell kind of father am I anyway Preacher? Putting her in harm’s way like this…in fact I’m always putting her in harm’s way!”
“She’s an adult Gabe…she makes her own decisions. But right now she needs us buddy…she needs us bad…and she needs the best of us!”
I nodded as I tried to pull myself together. “You’re right of course Preacher; I’ll save my self-loathing for…”
“Shit!” Preacher hissed, pulling on my arm suddenly and turning us away from the building.
“Don’t look back,” Preacher spoke through gritted teeth as we started walking down the sidewalk, “Just walk natural.”
“What the hell’s going on?” I questioned quietly as we walked.
“Nothing special really,” Preacher replied through a tight smile, “Except I think I just saw the guy that shot me!”
Ivan exited his UAZ SUV and made his way toward the bar. His hand involuntarily went to his side as he walked, his cracked ribs reminding him of his near miss the day before…when the little bitch shot him!
Luckily the bulletproof vest had saved his life, but he now had yet another motivation to find the girl again.
Standing in front of the burned-out building, he glanced up and down the street to make sure he was unobserved. There were two men to his right, moving away from him before rounding the next corner…no one in sight the other way.
Smiling to himself, he stepped over the caution tape and made his way inside, pulling out a flashlight and clicking it on as he went.
Making his way through the bar area, he then ducked through the doorway leading to the office, where he stopped in his tracks.
Staring at the eerie, unburned outline on the floor where Gregor had lain, a chill ran through him. It was the only place in the whole room that wasn’t blackened by the fire.
“Glupyy ublyudok,” he mumbled before moving past the image. (Stupid bastard)
Moving toward the charred frame of the bed, he set the flashlight on the sink on the opposite wall and aimed it toward the bed. Grasping the frame, he pulled it to the center of the room before reclaiming the flashlight and aiming it at the floor.
Smiling at the concealed metal door, he kneeled next to it and twisted the handle, lifting the door on its hinges.
The sight of green in the beam of his flashlight brought a smile to his face.
“Ah Gregor, you always did like the American dollars.”
Stacked in the concealed safe were bundles and bundles of the currency, a smug-looking Benjamin Franklin staring up at Ivan expectantly.
Grunting with pleasure, Ivan pulled a folded, nylon rucksack out of his coat’s pocket. Shaking it open, he started filling it with the $100 bills.
“Thank you Gregor,” he whispered as he worked. “Your retirement will now be my retirement!”
Filling the sack, he then started filling his pockets with the remaining bundles until he found he had no place left for the final one.
“You I will carry with me,” he spoke to the stack of Benjamin’s in his hand. “You and I will celebrate our good fortune together, da?”
Standing, he tightened the cord on the sack and flung it over his shoulder before making his way back toward the entrance. Glancing both ways when he reached the doorway, he was relieved that the street was once again clear. Stepping out onto the sidewalk, he then made his way to his car. Opening the door, he threw the bag into the passenger seat before sliding into the car.
Smiling, he then set the bundle of money in his hand on the small ledge below the speedometer, winking at Ben as he started the car and pulled the shifter into drive.
“It is too bad I have work to do before our celebration,” he sighed as he pulled out into the street. “Perhaps this will be the last day that I work for the bitch, da?”
Accelerating down the street, his mind was lost on thoughts of wealth and celebration.
So much so, that he failed to take note of the dirty-white taxi discretely following him a block back.
December 15, 2000
Preacher pulled away from the corner and faced me again.
“He just entered the bar.”
I nodded thoughtfully, an idea forming in my head. “What do you think about following him?”
Preacher sneered at the idea. “You have a hidden talent for stealing cars I don’t know about? Other than that, I don’t see that we have a lot of options for acquiring a vehicle.”
I glanced up and down the street, giving a thought to Preacher’s suggestion of stealing a car before rejecting it outright. Preacher knew much more about cars than I did…if he wasn’t offering to hotwire one, I had no chance in hell of accomplishing such a feat myself.
“What about a taxi?” I offered as I saw one purr past us.
Shaking his head in disbelief, he squared off in front of me. “How we gonna pay for it…with our good looks?”
Lifting his eye patch, I stared at the large scar across his eye. “I’ve already used up any prettiness that I ever had, but be my guest.”
Shaking his head again, he turned toward the corner and glanced around it, leaving me to puzzle over our predicament.
Looking up the street, I noticed a dirty-looking taxi turning toward us. My mind was suddenly humming, working through the extreme lack of options available to us.
As my mind worked, my eyes followed the taxi as it rapidly approached.
Finally, lacking any other options I stepped out into the street in front of it, the air filling with the sound of screeching tires.
“Gabe! What the hell?” I heard Preacher call out to me while the taxi driver stuck his head out the window and cursed me in Russian.
Though I was definitely pushing my luck, I plastered a confident smile on my face and moved toward the driver’s window.
“You speak English?” I asked over the stream of unintelligible expletives.
This seemed to catch him by surprise and he stopped speaking for a few moments.
“I speak English good!” he exclaimed suddenly with a smile, my previous faux pas apparently now forgotten.
Knowing our time was short, I leaned in and rested my elbows on the window, my face now only inches from his.
“There is a man on the next street that has kidnapped my daughter,” I started in earnest, “He is a very bad man, and we want to follow him.”
It took a few seconds for the translation to gel in his head, but when it did his smile grew to a wide grin.
“You want to make like spy? Yes?”
“Yes!” I replied, grinning, “Like spy!”
A wary look crossed his face then.
“I have wife at home…daughter too. Such a thing you ask could take many hours. It would cost much money…”
I sighed inwardly as I stood up again. My mind had come up with a viable option for paying for the taxi, but it all depended on if my new friend would accept my unique form of payment.
Tugging up my sleeve, I unstrapped the leather band of my watch before holding it up before him.
“This is worth $1,500 American.”
The driver looked at it suspiciously. “I know not about watches…it look very old…might be junk.”
“It was my grandfather’s,” I jumped into my sales pitch, “It’s a 1914 Elgin Trench Watch, he wore it in WWI. I assure you it is very valuable. And if it helps…once we find my daughter and our other friends, I will buy it back from you for $2,000 dollars American.”
Suspicion still loomed in his eyes.
“I don’t know…”
“How would you feel if someone kidnapped your own daughter?”
I was pushing hard on his emotions now…pulling out all of the stops.
“I would find him and run him over with Inga here,” he answered, pointing to his car.
“You named your car?” I asked then with a grin, hoping I was winning him over.
“Yes! Inga is the name of my daughter…I name car after her.”
I nodded in understanding.
“So you would find the man that took your Inga…and nothing would keep you from it?”
“I would hunt him to the ends of the world.”
I leaned back into the window. “I too would hunt the man down with my life…but I need help.”
Holding up the watch, “A fifteen-hundred dollar watch I will buy back for two-thousand, my eternal gratitude for helping me find my daughter…and you get to be a spy for a day.”
This brought another grin to his face.
“I make good spy!” he said as he snatched the watch out of my hand. Offering his free hand to me, “My name is Nicolai…but you can call me Nick!”
“Gabe,” I replied with a grin, “And this is Preacher…my partner.”
Unsure of what he had walked into, Preacher nevertheless offered his hand to the driver.
“You too spy Preach-er?” Nick gushed while shaking his hand.
Glancing at me suspiciously, I placed my hand on his shoulder.
“Preacher, this is Nick…he’s going to help us find Abby.”
Turning toward the driver again, “Hi Nick…yes…we are all sort of spies today.”
A huge smile crossed Nick’s face. “Please…get in…show me who we are to follow.”
For the second time that week, we had made a friend in this country that could help us.
All in all…it wasn’t the worst place I’d ever visited.
December 15, 2000
Father Jerome and the Pope backed away slowly as the two demon nuns suddenly grew. Hearing the commotion behind them, May and Raven had turned around and made their way closer to the demons.
“You two get behind us!” May shouted to the priests as she started firing off rounds. Raven stood beside her, also firing at the habit-wearing demons.
As the demon nuns grew to eight feet, their skin took on a ghastly gray tone. Straining at the cloth of their robes, they ripped at the fabric around their neck. The combined effect of the short habits, exposed gray cleavage and the now-dirty winged cornettes made for a ghastly image beyond what even Hollywood could have imagined.
They both snarled as the bullets started hitting them, the lead slowing them some but not stopping them. It did seem to keep them busy however as they swatted at the bullets.
“We’ll run out of ammo before we ever take these bitches down,” Raven screamed to May over the roaring of the guns. May acknowledged Raven’s concern with a nod, although she had no idea what they could do about it.
Suddenly, the eye of the demon nun on the left exploded, filling the room with even more wailing. May and Raven glanced at each other before looking behind them, where they found that Abby had set up at an overturned pew with a sniper rifle.
Picking up the rifle, Abby started walking quickly toward the fight, May and Raven falling in beside her as they moved to within five feet of the melee.
As one they stopped, bringing their weapons to their shoulders as they took aim on the demons…a firing squad of three human nuns in yellow lineman’s boots…
May awoke with a start, the image in her mind bringing a small smile at the memory. Although their battle a year ago had almost killed them all, she had never felt so alive…had never felt that she had such purpose…
These last few days with Gabe and the others missing however had left her feeling defeated despite her best efforts at mustering courage. The fear of losing Gabe…of losing Abby and Preacher…of flying to a huge, foreign country to rescue them…all of it had left her more of a quaking mess than someone useful to their salvation.
The remembered dream had changed that now.
Her heart filled with hope, and a longing to see this mission through to the end…no matter the outcome. Although she would never want to lose any of them, Gabe had instilled a power in her since they had reunited. He had forever changed her…and she couldn’t fathom letting that gift flounder in her own fear and insecurity.
Jumping up from the chair where she had been napping, she saw that everyone else but Snake was still asleep. Crossing Anton’s small workshop, she smiled at Snake as she came beside him at a workbench.
Glancing up, Snake was taken aback at the apparent change in her.
“This is a surprise,” Snake grinned, “You look ready for anything.”
May nodded, grinning at his statement.
“What do you need me to do?”
Sliding two of the Makarovs across the bench, Snake then handed her a soft cloth. “If you wouldn’t mind cleaning and oiling these, it would be a big help.”
Showing her how to disassemble the weapons, May then set about taking one of the pistols apart.
“I must admit I was a little worried about you before,” Snake confided once they had started working, looking back over his shoulder before continuing. “I wasn’t sure that you were really…up for this.”
“I probably wasn’t,” May admitted, “I let my fears overtake me.”
Nodding, Snake finished reassembling one of the Makarovs, sliding a clip into it before handing it to May.
“This one’s for you.”
Grinning, May took the weapon…familiarizing herself with the safety and clip release before sliding it into the waistband at the small of her back.
Looking over his shoulder again, Snake eased closer to May before whispering the next sentence.
“Now, if you would be so kind as to quietly wake everyone up, we need to overpower Anton and steal one of his trucks.”
Copyright 2015 J.T. Lewis
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