April opened the drawer quietly. She pawed through the papers looking for anything suspicious that she could use as evidence. The flashlight slipped from her hand, and she reacted quickly. She managed to grab it again before it hit the floor, but the flashlight smacked into the edge of the drawer making a loud hollow sound.
She paused what she was doing and ducked down for a minute, waiting to see if anyone would come to see what was going on. April held her breath in the dark office. It was a large room with a few steps that led down into another larger open area overlooking the city. Two large couches filled a part of the space closest to the window with a coffee table between them.
April had never been in this room during the day. She wondered if Tony ever had. Did he sit in the couch overlooking the city with that beautiful view casually discussing the terrible things they were doing with his partners? She could imagine him there casually sipping his coffee as if this were just another one of his multi-million dollar business deals.
How could he be so heartless? This was the man she had fallen in love with. The man she had married and promised to spend her life with. The man whose children she bore. This was a betrayal of trust far beyond anything she had ever imagined possible. How could he do this to her?
She was furious. If she found what she was looking for and could prove what she suspected to be true, nothing would keep her from exacting her revenge on the man she had once loved.
Sure, she would confront him and give him a chance to prove himself innocent. There was always the possibility that she could be wrong. But only a very tiny chance. All the mounting evidence seemed to be pointing in one direction.
Her husband was guilty.
A gleam of light flashed through the window as the guard came walking on his round. The light glowed softly off the wall. She wondered if he would enter the room as she squeezed in under the desk and pulled the chair back in after her.
She held her breath again and closed her eyes as the guard stopped at the door. He shined the light in and flashed it around a few times before continuing on to check on the rest of the rooms on the forty-seventh floor.
This was the only floor that had its own guard on duty twenty-four-seven. The rest of the building had its own security team with cameras and the whole nine yards. But they did things differently up here on this floor. They had their own security team. It was a completely different company that ran things up here. They had all the same toys as the boys below. The same top-of-the-line security equipment. But they also liked to do things the old-fashioned way.
Tony always said that there some things you just couldn’t depend on technology to do for you. That some things just needed to be done by hand.
April shuddered and tried not to imagine what all that involved. She still didn’t know much. She never had probed into what it was that Tony actually did here at LocTech. Sure, she knew they were a technology company that derived most of their profits from medical research and development that they licensed out to other companies for a share of participation and profits. They also had some top-secret government contracts.
But she never would have guessed that Tony could actually be involved in something so gruesome. Nor that he would have involved his own family members in this mess.
In hindsight, it was pretty obvious. She should have seen the handwriting on the wall. She didn’t know how she had managed to ignore it all this time. I mean, it had been staring her right in the face.
Maybe she just didn’t want to admit it. She felt guilty almost for not having noticing and taking action before. Not that it was her fault, but that she was guilty by association. Guilty for her negligence in asking questions sooner. Now, it was too late, and she had no one else to blame. But that was no longer the case. She was going to get to the bottom of this if that was the last thing she did.
Even if it killed her.
The guard had left already, and the flashlight’s glow continued receding down the hall. She pawed through the remaining drawers but still didn’t find anything useful. Hamilton was organized and obviously believed in minimalism. There wasn’t much in his drawers for her to even go through.
It was completely unlike Tony’s office down the hall. She had been in there lots of times, and it was always a mess. She looked out the window through the door to head back. The guard had stopped to check his phone. He was just standing there in the middle of the hall as he leaned up against the wall. If she ratted on him, she could have him fired because she knew it was against company policy. The guards were supposed to remain alert and avoid distractions. They weren’t even allowed to have a television on at night up here on floor forty-seven.
April knew because she had looked into it when she was researching how to break into these offices. She had known it would make her task more difficult. There wouldn’t just be some fat, lazy dude chugging down coffee and doughnuts engrossed in some old horror flick to block out the noise of her intrusion.
So, here she was now with this guard standing outside her door on his cell phone. Not that she could rat him out even she was concerned about the security of her husband’s company because that would raise questions about what she was doing in Hamilton’s office at three a.m.
He didn’t budge for several minutes, so she sighed and went back into the other room to sit down on the couch. She was tired. It had been a long night. She had been sneaking in and out of offices for the past several hours. She had already visited seven of the twelve director’s offices. And so far, hadn’t turned up anything interesting.
She laid down on the couch to stay out of sight if the guard should happen to come back by and look through the window. It was so comfortable here. She snuggled her head in deeper into the pillows. They smelled nice. Like flowers and lilies. Must have been a woman that sat here last.
April looked out over the city. This was her city. She had been born and raised here among Brimhill’s elite. Her father had been a powerful businessman and even been mayor for a term. He was a well-respected man in town even though he had long retired and didn’t leave his estate much. She loved him and tried to imagine leaving him and this city behind.
If things were as bad as she thought they were, there was no way she could stay here. Even if she was innocent, people would still consider her guilty by association.
If she exposed them.
Maybe she didn’t have to. Maybe she could just let things go. Keep on living the good life. Bad things happened. It wasn’t her fault. She wasn’t responsible for what they were doing.
She could just put her head down and act like she didn’t know anything at all. It was better than having her head shot off which was very likely to happen. She had heard the horror stories about Hamilton back in his younger days.
That was how he had built up his wealth and founded the company as senior partner. He was like a godfather from the old mafia organizations, only he wasn’t Italian. Actually, she didn’t know where he was from. He was pretty secretive about it, and no one ever would tell her anything. Even Tony brushed her off by saying he was from down south somewhere.
Really. Like no one would ever want to know where you were from and brush it off like that. At the very least, he could have made something up. Or even just stuck his finger on the map and mentioned a name. Or maybe that was just part persona he wanted to portray. The mysterious mobster.
April snickered at the thought and sat up carefully. She checked to make sure the guard wasn’t at the door before standing up. It was too dangerous staying on the couch. The last thing she wanted to do was fall asleep there and wake up with Hamilton standing over her wanting to know why she was asleep on the couch in his office.
She walked back to the door and peeked through the window. The guard was gone. She sighed in relief. April opened the door slowly to avoid making any noise and tiptoed down to the next office. Just as she got there though and started to open the door, someone yelled out at her.
“Hey! What are you doing? Stop right there.”
Continue Reading Chapter 2 – Kung Fu Fighting >>>
April didn’t stop to look back. She threw herself into the room and slammed the door shut behind her. She twisted the lock and pressed herself up against the wall so the guard couldn’t see her when he looked in. He turned the handle a few times, but it didn’t open. She could hear him fumbling around with keys while swearing softly. April looked around the room trying to think of somewhere to hide.
Crowley’s office was smaller than the other offices she had visited this evening. He only had a small, single room for an office but not the second one that looked out over the city. “Strange,” she thought. “The space between the rooms was equal, so why did this one have less interior space.”
April stayed up against the wall so the guard couldn’t see her, but moved along it down to the far end of the office. She knocked on the far wall, and it sounded hollow. The room was beside Hamilton’s so they should have been connected, but intuitively she knew that the spacing wasn’t right. Something was definitely off.
By this time the guard had managed to get the door open and burst in after her.
“Freeze,” he yelled out. “Put your hands up where I can see them.”
April raised her arms slowly into the air. The guard stepped forward and moved slowly in her direction.
“Take off your mask,” he ordered referring to an old stocking that she had pulled over her face to keep any cameras from recognizing her.
April didn’t budge. She just stared at the guard unblinkingly. He moved a bit closer still pointing the gun at her.
“How did you get in here?” he asked.
She still didn’t reply. April recognized him now and remembered that he was the new guard that had just joined the team recently. That’s why it had taken him so long to find the key to open the door and enter the room.
“Turn around,” he ordered. “And keep your hands up.”
April had started to put them down but dutifully raised them again. Well, this was going to be awkward. Trying to explain to her husband and his partners what she was doing in their offices at three in the morning.
She didn’t think anyone suspected that she knew what they were up. But this would be pretty obvious. They would realize that she was onto them and want to know how much she knew.
Could she take this guard on? He was pretty tough looking, and not at all like the doughnut eating creep she had hoped would be on duty tonight.
The other guard would have been a piece of cake to take down. Her dad had been a fifth-degree black belt. He had given her a kimono when she was just six years old and enrolled her in Brimhill’s finest dojo.
April never had cared much for karate and wouldn’t have said that she had applied herself as well as she knew she could have. April just did the minimum to get by and quit as soon as she received her black belt because that had been her father’s requirement. The old man tried to convince her to keep practicing, but she wasn’t interested. She had other more interesting things to do. Besides, that was why she had bodyguards around to protect her. Right?
So, now April knew she would be rusty, but this was her only chance to get out of here. She waited until she heard him rattling his handcuffs as he pulled them out of his belt. He reached out his hand and put it on her shoulder. She spun around using her raised arm to knock his hand away and continued to follow through with a wicked punch across the face with her other fist.
He didn’t fall over but did take a few steps backward. She didn’t wait for him to recuperate but immediately continued with a full-scale attack. April rained blows down on his exposed abdomen since he was holding his face with his hands from her first punch.
The guard fell down this time. He doubled up in pain and rolled around gasping for air. April continued to hold her karate stance with one foot in front of the other. She felt pretty good and proud for so effortlessly defending herself. Her father would have been proud. She would have to tell him about it someday.
Now, she had to figure out what to do with the guard. She spotted the handcuffs and reached over to pick them up. She felt terrible for the poor guy. This would probably get him fired in the morning. But he deserved it for flirting around on the job with his girlfriend when he should have been working.
She reached down and slapped the cuffs on one of his arms and then reached over for his other wrist. He flipped himself over and wrapped his legs around her slamming April to the ground. It knocked the breath out of her, and she lay gasping for a second. Her right elbow stung where it had hit the floor.
The guard sat up and got to his knees while pressing his weight against her to keep her from moving. April squirmed and wiggled to try and get free. She wished she had taken those stupid Brazilian jiu-jitsu courses her father always insisted she try out because he claimed it would make her a better, more well-rounded fighter so she could defend herself at close quarters when down.
Now, she wished she had actually listened to him. April always laughed at him and told him that she wouldn’t let anyone ever get that close because she’d beat them off with a barrage of karate chops and kicks. She tried to remember how do one of those grapple holds that the old man had tried to teach her when they sparred.
She grabbed the guard’s thumb and pulled down hard as she twisted away from herself. April flipped her leg up and over his arm to lock it in place as she applied pressure. April could tell immediately that she wasn’t doing something quite right because she couldn’t pull him down completely.
The guard reached over with his other hand to punch her in the face. It was an awkward overhand blow that didn’t hurt too badly. She continued twisting and pushing her legs farther up his arm to get a lock on him. He kept moving around with her, grabbing at her face and hair that was covered by the stocking.
He locked his fingers in the stocking and tried to twist it off. She brought her legs up as high as he could and pulled down with all of her strength. This time she felt something pop. The guard screamed through his gritted teeth but didn’t let go of her hair. He loosened enough to get his fingers into the netting and pulled down. The stocking popped off over her head.
The guard looked up at her in shock. “Mrs. Blanchet,” he managed to stammer out. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize it was you. I thought you were a thief.”
He let go of her hair and stopped trying to struggle to get free. But she didn’t relax her grip. This was a real mess. Now, how was she going to get out of this? She’d have to kill him to keep him from talking. But with the mask off her head, the cameras might be filming her. She couldn’t remember where the security cameras were in the room.
“It’s a personal thing.” she managed to say. “I thought my husband might be cheating on me and I was looking for proof.”
That was the only thing that came to mind. April couldn’t think of any other excuses off the top of her head.
“In this room,” he asked incredulously. “This isn’t his office.”
“Yes, I know. But I checked Tony’s office and didn’t find anything. So, I thought the other boys might know something.”
She looked him in the eye and could tell that he didn’t quite believe her.
“Well, look. Why don’t you let go of my arm? I’ll let you leave the building just like this never happened. Okay. It’s not like you’re a thief, and I have to arrest you. You’re just a jealous, I mean, a suspicious wife who is concerned about the welfare of her husband.” the guard said.
“And you’ll let me continue my search,” she asked. “All you have to do is stay down at the other end of the building till I’m done.”
“I can’t let you do that. You will have to leave,” the guard replied.
“I’ll tell them that I got in here because you were on your cell phone and not paying attention,” she said.
He laughed. “Sure, everybody does it. Just because it’s in the handbook doesn’t mean anyone actually abides by it. Besides, I have a good excuse. My sister is sick and was just checking in to make sure he was okay.”
“I will tell them that I was just in the building to get something from Tony’s office and that you attacked me and dragged me in here. I was just a helpless woman trying to defend herself.” she shot back.
“The video footage will prove otherwise,” he answered angrily with his eyes flashing at her threat.
“I avoided the cameras,” she said. “I know where they are and won’t appear on any of them. And I had some outside help to wipe the system if any picked me up.”
Continue Reading Chapter 3 – Secret Door >>>
That was a lie, but he didn’t know it. At least not yet. April might not have enough proof at the moment, but it was time to leave tonight regardless. She just needed enough time to get to her car and drive off into the darkness. She didn’t know where she would go yet, but the ‘Blue Wolf’ already had a place lined up.
Blue Wolf. That was his code name. She didn’t know what his real name was. His team had approached her three weeks ago. Made some extreme accusations and asked some very unnerving questions. It was intense, and April thought the man was going to kill her on the spot. She felt like they were putting her on trial. They left when they realized April really didn’t know anything, and the group slipped quietly off into the darkness. But not before giving her some things to look into and some questions to ask her husband.
Tony brushed them off like it was no big deal. He finally realized someone had put her up to this and demanded to know who it was, but she honestly didn’t know any of their names at the time. Her husband told her that it was probably just some angry, vindictive employee who had gotten sacked. He tried to laugh it off like it was no big deal, but she could tell that her questions had clearly unnerved him.
The Blue Wolf had returned a few more times over the next few days and weeks, asking more questions and requesting her help to get more information. At first, she did it out of curiosity. April wanted to find out what her husband was really up to. But as she discovered more about the horrible things her husband’s company was involved in, she felt compelled to dig deeper and get to the bottom of this situation.
Ultimately, everything led up to this night and where she was now at this moment. The Blue Wolf promised to help her escape no matter what. Whether she found the evidence she needed or not. That was the only reason April went through with this endeavor. She hadn’t known initially if she would really turn the evidence over to him even if she did find anything. But after all April had seen and heard and discovered, now there was no doubt in her mind that it was necessary to expose what LocTech was doing. She only needed to find a way to prove it to others.
Now, here she was. So close, and yet so far. In the lion’s dene, but still no concrete evidence. She looked over at the wall that wasn’t where it was supposed to be. She just wanted to check it out. It would make perfect sense. They had a hidden room where they kept all their secrets. That would explain why she hadn’t found anything in the drawers.
“Put your other hand over here and cuff it,” she ordered. “I just want to check one thing, and then I’ll let you go. That way you have an excuse for not having caught me.”
“No, please, Mrs. Blanchet. I have a son. He’s sick. I can’t afford to lose my job.” he begged.
“A son? A minute ago you said it was your sister. We’ll see about that. But for now, put your hand over here and cuff it,” April ordered.
The security man put his hands together and pressed the cuff around his other hand using his body for support.
“Okay,” he said. “You can let go now.”
April relaxed her grip. “Not bad for an old lady, huh?” she asked with a grin.
He smiled weakly and looked away in embarrassment at having been beaten and subdued by his boss’ wife. He would never hear the end of this.
She turned and walked over to the wall. April knocked on it and definitely sounded hollow. The only thing on the wall was a single picture. She walked over to it and tried to take it off, but it was screwed on tight somehow. Strange, she was sure that there would be some kind of opening behind it based on the lines in the wall.
“I can tell you how to open it if you let me go.” the guard said.
April looked at him.
“I thought you weren’t going to help me by just walking away down the other hall. And now you want me to believe that you’re gonna help me get into a secret room?” she asked.
He shrugged. “I don’t have much of a choice now. I’m screwed either way. You’ve got me here. The least I can do is negotiate with you to make the best of the situation.”
“Nah! Uh huh,” she said. “Too late for that. I don’t believe you. You’ve recuperated, and you want another shot at me.”
“Fine,” he retorted. “You don’t have to let me go now. Just after you find what you need. I won’t tell anyone you were here if you don’t get me in trouble for this.”
“How do you know the entrance?” she asked curiously. She didn’t really think the guard knew anything about it. April assumed that he was just stalling for time.
“I see things,” he said. “I’m the night guard around here. I know what goes on after they close up shop.”
“Okay then, Houdini. Show me the secret door into the magical room,” she replied.
“Well, you gotta pull that frame there up and then out about one inch. Then you pull it to the right a little and push it back into the wall. At least that’s what they seem to do.”
April looked at him for a moment and decided to give it a shot. She gave it a few tugs, but it didn’t budge.
“Nothing happened here, big boy,” she said. “What’s your name by the way?”
“Bill,” he said. “Bill Redfern, ma’am. And I believe you need to get the frame up before you pull it out. There’s a trick to it.”
April gave a push from the bottom, and it slid up a little.
“Don’t go too far,” Bill warned. “There’s a trick to it. Just keep going up and tug it to the right.”
She managed to find the groove and slid it over to the side. Then she pushed in on it. The picture slid out and flipped up almost nailing her in the face. She dodged and jumped back. The walls slid open silently revealing a completely blank room.
April stepped forward and banged into a glass wall.
“Ouch! What’s this,” she asked turning to look at Bill.
“I’m not sure ma’am,” he said starting to get up off of the ground. “But I don’t think it’s very good. And I don’t think you should be here.”
“Well, what do you see when you’re in here, and they open this thing?” she asked.
“They just step inside and then the door closes. I keep guard and wait till the doors open again. They come out. That’s all I really know, but if I had to guess, I would say that it’s some kind of elevator.”
Continue Reading Chapter 4 – Sector Seven >>>
“How do I open the glass?” she asked. “There doesn’t seem to be any opening.”
Bill shrugged helplessly. “Maybe there is something else you need to do, or maybe they have a passkey to get it open. But the glass always opens for the men. I’ve never seen it stay closed like that before. Close the wall and try again,” he suggested with a gesture that indicated that she should pull the frame down.
She did, and the walls closed back into position. April stepped aside as Bill came toward her. He had a little trouble initially because of the cuffs and his sore arm where April had twisted it. But he managed to get the frame up and slide it over. The guard pressed in harder than she had. She also noticed that he seemed to pull it down farther than she had.
This time the wall slid open along with the glass. April stepped inside and indicated for Bill to follow her.
“Oh, no, ma’am. I should stay here and keep watch,” he said half-heartedly.
“Yeah, right. So, you can run away and rat me out. Get in here, or I’ll drag you in by your sore arm.” she said defiantly.
He grinned and whispered in her ear as he stepped forward. “I always did want to know what was going on down here. I just have to play my role as a good guard and make sure I don’t look too enthusiastic about coming along. April smiled at him. He seemed like a nice guy just trying to do his job.
April realized that he was bigger than she first imagined now that he was standing right in front of her. And he didn’t look like he sat around eating doughnuts. Bill seemed pretty strong and muscular under his suit. And he’d make better lifeguard than security guard she thought as she checked him out. He turned around after the doors slid shut and smiled at her. She averted her gaze quickly and pretended to be interested in looking around the room.
“Welcome,” a soft, pleasant female voice said after the doors closed. “Please, sit down. We’ll reach our destination in two minutes and thirty seconds.”
April looked around and saw some seats along the sides of the room. She walked over and sat down as she felt their descent begin. She looked at Bill, but he ignored her. He was busy reading some text on the far wall.
“What does it say?” she asked.
“Nothing much,” he replied. “Just standard safety information when riding on an elevator. How much weight it can safely carry. That sort of thing. What’s interesting about it though is that there doesn’t seem to be any information about where we’re going. And it says what the room is airlocked, and not to open it under any circumstances when we arrive due to airborne safety hazards.”
“Sector Seven,” she muttered under her breath. “So, it’s true. We’ve found it.”
“What’s Sector Zen?” he asked. “A place the directors go to relax?”
April shook her head quietly but didn’t say anything else. Bill came over and sat on the chair beside her. He held up his hands for her to take off the cuffs. She looked him in the eyes and shook her head.
“C’mon, Mrs. Blanchet. I can tell your scared. I can see it in your face. It scares me. Let me go so I can fight too if we get attacked.”
“Sector Seven,” she repeated again. “It’s their secret lab where they perform all their unorthodox experiments.
Experiments that are technically illegal and would get them in trouble if they were found out.”
She finished removing the handcuffs from him. Bill rubbed his wrists gently.
“We aren’t looking for evidence of a secret lover for a jilted wife. Are we? You lied to me. How could you? I trusted you with my life to come down here,” he said in a mocking voice that expressed his fake deception.
April smiled at him and shook her head. “No, we aren’t. But I couldn’t tell you that.”
“So, what do you intend to do exactly?” he asked.
She shook her head sadly, “I don’t know,” she said. But April knew exactly what she was going to do. She just wasn’t going to give Bill any information that she could pass on to Tony. But as she got out of this place, she was going to tell Blue Wolf the truth and then get as far away from here as she could until it all blew over. If it ever did.
If this was as bad as she thought it was, she ran the risk of being killed by Tony and his creepy partners. She never did like them. Tony had eight when they first met. They had added on a few more over the years. She never did hear where they came from. Tony never gave her any straight answers. It frustrated her to no end.
The elevator came to a halt, and the doors slid open. The glass remained sealed though. April stepped forward and reached out her hands, but the voice over the speaker commanded her not to touch the windows.
“It’s for your own safety,” the voice said reassuringly.
April looked out past the glass. They were in a large room with people on all sides. Some seemed to be lying on the ground sleeping. Others stood around in small groups. But there didn’t seem to be much interaction between them. They didn’t seem to be smiling or laughing. As she watched these people, it didn’t even look like they were speaking to each other. She felt sorry for them.
“Hey, look!” Bill exclaimed excitedly. “There’s Alpha Four’s brother.”
“Where?” she asked. She knew Alpha Four was one of Tony’s bodyguards. She reached out and placed her hand on the glass.
“Please remove your hand from the sides of the elevator. Refrain from touching as it will draw unwanted attention from the subjects.”
April let go of the glass and pulled back.
“What’s he doing down here?” she asked.
“I’m not sure. I heard he was really sick though and the doctors didn’t give him much hope. Actually, I heard that he had already died. Maybe they faked his death just to bring him down here and run some experimental tests on him.” Bill suggested.
“So, that way no one would suspect anything if he didn’t return,” April finished.
Bill shrugged and cocked his head to the side as if she could be right.
“This is pretty creepy. I think we should get out of here,” he said.
“No!” April said sharply. “We have to help them. Look at these people. They’re all suffering down here. We have to help them get free.”
Continue Reading Chapter 5 – Mob >>>
Bill shifted uncomfortably in his spot. “I really don’t think that’s a good idea, ma’am. I’m sure they have these folks down here for a reason. We should probably go get the proper authorities and let them handle this.”
The man that Bill had identified as Alpha Four’s brother came shuffling over to their elevator.
“Warning. Warning.” the elevator voice started up. “Strange element approaching. Be careful. Would you like the elevator to head back up to Forty-Seven?”
“No!”, April said.
Bill started to say yes, but April reached out and punched him in the gut hard enough to make him keel over.
“Shut up!” she said. “We’re gonna do this whether you like it or not. We’re gonna get them out of here.”
Bill rolled his eyes and sighed. “Why me?” he asked pleadingly.
She watched expectantly, but nothing happened. The doors remained closed. Alpha Four’s brother reached out to touch the glass. He mouthed something at them, but April couldn’t understand what he was saying. No sound entered the elevator from the outside, and even if it did, the blare of the siren inside of the elevator would have drowned it out.”Protocol three breach. Warning. You have attracted the attention of the insidious. Protocol three recommends we head back to floor forty-seven. Permission to leave.”
“No,” April replied. “Turn off the sirens. Sirens off. Stop the alarm.”
The blaring alarm finally shut off, but the yellow warning lights continued to flash around them.
“Open the door,” April commanded, but nothing happened. “Let us out. Release us. Open sesame.”
“I’m sorry, but protocol does not allow for opening of the exits in this sector. Viewing room is only for observation. It is to protect viewers from contamination.”
“Contamination from what?” April asked.
“I’m sorry, but that is classified information. Please state your ID and the password for further information.”
“Oh, you stupid robot,” April yelled in exasperation and kicked at the glass.
“Please refrain from touching the glass as you will attract unwanted attention from the subjects.”
April looked around from something to smash the glass. She tried yanking one of the seats from the wall, but it didn’t budge. She gave up quickly because she realized they were made of plastic and foam. Even if she could remove one from the wall, she wouldn’t be able to do much damage.
“Calm down,” Bill said. “The glass is bulletproof. You couldn’t break through if you shot straight at it and this thing obviously isn’t going to let you out. Besides, it’s probably for the best because the system may be protecting you from some insidious, fast-spreading virus or contagious disease that they are trying to treat.”
As soon as he said the words bulletproof, April looked at his holster. “Where’s your gun,” she demanded.
He felt down towards his waist and realized it wasn’t there. “It must have fallen off in our scuffle,” he said. “But even if I had one, I wouldn’t let you go firing it off in here. You’re nuts. The bullets would ricochet this small room and hurt one of us.”
April grabbed at his belt and started tugging at his waist to unbuckle it.
“Whoa, there momma! What in the world are you doing?”
“Shut up and give me your belt,” she demanded.
Bill sighed and finished unbuckling it. He handed it to her with a scowl. “Please be careful with this thing. That belt buckle cost me a pretty penny.”
April turned back to the glass where Alpha Four’s brother was still leaning against the glass. His glassy eyes looked blankly in their direction like he couldn’t even see them. He drooled, and his saliva ran down the glass.
So, she backed up to get away from where he leaning against the elevator. April flipped the belt over her shoulder and whipped it back around to try and crack the window with the metal tip of the buckle. But it didn’t even scratch the glass and barely even made a sound when it hit.
After four or five fruitless attempts, she gave up and sat back down in one of the seats to catch her breath. She stood back up and started to hit the glass again.
It was obvious that he was trying to be quiet and not attract the attention of the others around him. When he got close, he waved his arms at them as if ordering them to calm down.
“Open the door,” April yelled. She waved and motioned with her hands for the man to let them out.
The man outside made a signal like she was crazy with his finger to his head. Then he pointed up as if telling them to leave.
By now, Alpha Four’s brother had noticed the man and started to shuffle his way around to the other side. He got to the man and kept trying to grab on to him, but the man easily pushed him away. He pointed the gun at Alpha Four’s brother who acted like he had never seen one before in his life. He kept grabbing at the gun and trying to poke his finger down the barrel.
The guard kept pointing up for them to leave and became exasperated when they didn’t go. Not that April even knew how to operate the machine. The man outside pulled out his walkie-talkie and started talking excitedly to someone while waving his arms. More of the other people in the room began shuffling over to him.
He pointed back up defiantly one more time and then turned to leave. He half-walked and half-ran as he tried to avoid the oncoming mob. April could tell that he was furious.
“What do we do now?” she asked Bill.
He shrugged and sat down. “I’m gonna be in so much trouble. They’re gonna kill me.”
The elevator’s voice came back on and said, “Remote control protocol initiated. Elevator will now return to floor forty-seven. Please hold on till we reach our destination.”
“Let us off at floor twenty-two,” April said.
“I’m sorry. Exit at floor twenty-two not permitted. Exits only at fifteen, twenty-eight, and thirty-three.”
“Let us off on fifteen, please,” April said.
“Impossible to stop on fifteen. Manual override has been engaged via remote control by someone with a higher level of access. Please state your ID and password to override manual control.” the elevator said.
“C’mon,” she said tapping Bill on the shoulder. “What’s your ID and password?”
“I don’t have one yet for the elevator,” he replied.
“Well, use what you do have. Maybe it will work.”
“Elevator, my ID is Bill Redford. Gamma Eight. My passcode is papa Romeo-Four-Zulu-Delta-Two.”
“ID and password confirmed,” the elevator said.
“See,” April said with a grin. “Now, tell it to let us off on the fifteenth floor.”
Bill repeated the command, but the elevator denied his request.
“Your level of access is not sufficient to override the controls. Someone higher in command has control of the remote access. Please stand by until the elevator comes to a complete stop.”
The doors opened, and there were several men in the room waiting for them.
Continue Reading Chapter 6 – Judge, Jury, & Executioner >>>
“Tony,” April said trying to smile cheerfully. She could see Hamilton and Crowley scowling at her. Johnny stood in front of Tony beside the elevator doors.
“What are you doing, baby?” Tony asked. “You’ve got a lot of explaining to do. Come over here and sit on the couch.”
He took her by the shoulder and led her over to a couch close to the desk. She sat down. Tony turned back to chew out the guard.
“What were you thinking, Bill. How did you let this lady get the best of you?” he asked furiously.
Johnny stepped forward and came to his defense, “I’m sure he didn’t want to harm Mrs. Blanchet. He probably didn’t realize how tough your wife was and she nailed him before he could get the situation under control. Right, Bill.”
He started to steer Bill towards the door.
“Don’t worry about this Tony. I’ve got it under control, and I’ll deal with him tomorrow. But give him a break. I’m sure he didn’t mean to let her through. I saw the surveillance tapes before you got here. She nailed him good. You’ve got to admit this is an extreme situation because he wasn’t dealing with a regular thief. I mean this is family we’re dealing with here. Right?”
“Okay, sure. You handle it, Johnny. But don’t be long.” Tony said.
Hamilton and Crowley were talking among themselves off in the corner. Tony came back over to the couch and sat down beside April.
“What’s going on, baby? What are you doing in here at this unearthly time of the night for?”
April knew this didn’t look good, and she didn’t want Tony to get in trouble with the board, so she decided to stick to her jealous wife routine.
“I’m sorry, Tony. I thought you were cheating on me. I’ve just been jealous because you haven’t been paying much attention to me. And I wanted to know what was going on.”
“Uh, huh,” Tony muttered in indignation. “Are you accusing me of two-timing on you? Is that what you’re saying?”
“Calm down, Tony.” Hamilton butted in to help him keep his cool. “So, if that’s true April, what were you doing here in Crowley’s office?”
She shook her head and tried to conjure up a few tears to make herself look sincere. It wasn’t too hard because she really was scared. She had always been scared of Hamilton. There was just something creepy about the guy. The way he walked and talked. It was just all off. The way he waltzed into partnership and practically taken over most of the company.
“And why did you get on the elevator, April?” Crowley added. “Did you think you would find more proof there?”
“I didn’t know it was an elevator. I thought it was just a secret room. How did I know it would go down to Sector Seven?”
“Sector Seven,” Tony asked in surprise. “What do you know about Sector Seven?”
“Bill must have told me,” she stammered nervously.
“No, April. Bill doesn’t know about Sector Seven. He doesn’t have clearance for Sector Seven. He thinks this is a meeting room.” Hamilton thundered. “I know because I’m the one who gives people clearance to go down there.”
“Well, maybe he heard about it through the company grapevine,” she said to cover for herself.
Hamilton smirked. “I don’t think so, April. He’s just arrived recently and is only here at night. There aren’t many people around for him to chat with about company gossip. I’m gonna ask you one more time. How do you know about Sector Seven?”
“Nothing, I swear. I don’t know nothing. Honest. Please, I’ll forget all about it and never mention it to anyone ever again.”
Hamilton pulled up a chair close to her with the back facing towards her. He threw his legs around the sides and sat down in front of her. He took his time rolling up his sleeves while he gathered his thoughts.
“I’m only gonna ask you this once, April. You answer me straight and give me the right answer, or I will kill you myself. I don’t care if you are Tony’s wife. Have you been in touch with the Blue Wolf?”
A chill ran down April’s spine, and the hairs stood up on the back of her neck. If they suspected that she had talked to him, she knew Hamilton would make good on his threat.
“Of course not,” she replied as calmly as she could. “Why would I talk to somebody named the Blue Wolf.”
But it was too late, she could see in Hamilton’s eyes that he already knew the truth. He was just setting her up in front of Tony.
“Tony, you gotta believe me. Please. I’m your wife. The mother of your children. I love you, Tony. I would never do anything to harm you or your company.”
Tony refused to look at her. He stood up and walked away from the couch. He slid the glass doors open and stepped out onto the veranda outside. He stood silently at the edge looking out over the city.
Hamilton and Crowley were off in the corner conferring among themselves.
April started to cry. Her hands shook, and her legs trembled. She threw her face in her hands and tried to muffle her sobs.
Johnny came back in and walked over to where Crowley and Hamilton were still huddled near the desk.
“Tony,” Hamilton called him and motioned with his hand for the man to step from the veranda to join them.
Tony walked past April without looking her in the eye. She thought she could see that his eyes were shiny from tears.
“What’s going on, Tony?” she asked as he went by. She reached out to touch him, but he moved his hand away from her.
The men spoke briefly, and all nodded. April watched them through tears in her eyes. It looked like they were taking a vote. Then they all broke up.
“I’m sorry, baby,” Tony said. “We knew the Blue Wolf had contacted you. But I thought you were going to stay true to me. To us. To the company. But the men don’t trust you. They think you’re going to believe the Blue Wolf’s lies and they’re going to use you to turn us in.”
On the one hand, she wanted to beg and plead for her life, but at the same time, she knew it was useless. The die had been cast, and the men had made their decision.
Judge, jury, and executioners.
This was it, and she had to know what was going on down there before her end came. What were these men doing down there?
“Okay, Tony. I understand,” she took a deep breath and stood up. “I always let you run things your way even though I didn’t agree with your methods. But I didn’t ever think it would come to this.”
“I’m sorry, baby. I wish it didn’t have to be this way. But you’re playing for the wrong team. If you had been honest with me from the start and told me about this when they first contacted you, I think we could have worked things out. But it’s out of my hands now.”
Tony sighed and shrugged as he looked at the other guys. That gesture infuriated April. He always used it when he was trying to weasel his way out of something. She was spitting nails now.
“C’mon, Tony. Don’t throw the blame on others. Man up for yourself just once and admit that you’ll be glad to be rid of me. I bet you don’t have the guts to do the job yourself. You’ll have one of your nameless thugs pull the trigger. It’s probably just as well because you’d probably botch it and make me suffer. I’d rather it be handled by a pro anyway. I bet none of you have the guts to do me in,” she screamed at them with her voice rising in crescendo till she was literally screeching at the end.
April’s face was livid, and her whole body shook with anger and fury at this final betrayal. She wanted to weep and sob, but she refused to give them the satisfaction of watching her beg for her life. She shoved her way past the men towards the door.
“C’mon. Let’s get it over with,” she shouted. “Where is my executioner?”
She continued walking towards the door and wanted to snicker at the look of shock on their faces. This was not the reaction they had expected from her at all.
“Wait,” April said as she spun around. “I do have one question. Do me the honor of telling me what I saw down there in that elevator.”
The men remained silent and looked at Tony.
“They’re clones, baby. We’ve been trying to develop a cloning process. But we haven’t quite been successful yet. So, each of those people that you saw down there was a clone of someone that has already died.”
April nodded and smiled. “So, you’re going to kill me to keep this Blue Wolf guy from knowing what you’re up to and learning all your secrets. You know he’ll just keep coming until he finds someone who does know something and is willing to talk.”
The men shrugged. Hamilton was the one who finally replied. “Yeah, we keep close tabs on most everybody and know who he’s talking to already. Hopefully, they’ll be smart and not break our trust by sneaking around like you did.”
“Get it over with, Johnny,” Crowley ordered.
“Hmm, Johnny’s gonna do me in. Huh?” April said. “I remember when he started working for you all as a boy. This is what you had him doing.”
“He’s a good, trustworthy employee that always does what he’s told,” Crowley replied. “A good man we can trust with our lives. That’s what’s important to us. Trust.”
“Yeah, whatever! Blah, blah, blah. Go sweet-talk yourself to sleep, old man. Your day of judgment is coming too. You’ll get yours soon enough.” April said arrogantly as she snubbed her nose at them.
Continue Reading Chapter 7 – Float Like An Angel >>>
She could hardly believe the way she was acting herself. This was totally unlike the sweet lady-like persona she always tried to exude. But it felt so freeing to finally just let go and be herself even if it was only for a few minutes longer.
“Well, come along, Johnny. Let’s get this over with. You boys run along and get your story straight to tell the cops when they come around.”
Hamilton nodded at Johnny who swallowed hard and nodded back at him. He looked at April and held out his arm like a real gentleman. At least he had the courtesy to treat her like a lady even in the end. They started to walk out the door, but Hamilton yelled after them.
“Hey! Where are you going? We said to make it look like an accident.” he indicated with his head toward the balcony.
“Well, if you want the cops to think she jumped off to commit suicide, why would you have her jump from Crowley’s office. Let me handle it from Tony’s balcony. When you hear her scream, you send Tony over to wait in there. He can say they had an argument.” Johnny retorted sullenly as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
“Oh, right! Good thinking, son.” Hamilton replied.
He waved them on out the door.
“We’ll be right behind you, but we don’t want poor Tony to see nothing. So, be quick about it.”
“Sure,” Johnny said.
April continued to walk with her head held high holding tightly to Johnny’s arm. She was grateful for the support, even he was going to kill her in a moment. She couldn’t believe that Tony was just going to go along with this thing. And since he was, at the very least, her husband could have the decency to be with her at the end. But she refused to allow herself to look back at him or even acknowledge him.
As they continued to walk down the hall, April realized that the only thing that kept her going right now and allowed her to place one foot in front of the other was the pure, unadulterated rage that flowed from her heart. She was so hot with rage that she could feel her heart pounding throughout her body. Her thinking was crystal clear and razor sharp.
She noticed every detail of the environment around her as she walked down the hall. The tiniest detail right down to the sweat mixed in with Johnny’s cologne. The buzz of the fluorescent lamps overhead as they walked under each one. As she entered Tony’s office for the last time, she didn’t even feel like she was walking but rather just floating along beside Johnny.
When they reached the edge of the balcony, she grabbed on to him and wrapped her arms around his neck. “Make it quick, Johnny.”
‘Here, put your legs through these,” he said.
April complied obediently. It felt like a strange way to make it look like she was going to commit suicide.
“Is this gonna make it look like I had a bungee jumping accident instead of committing suicide. Oh, thank you, Johnny.
I don’t want people to think that of me. Especially not my father.”
Johnny pushed her away and tried to tighten it around her waist.
“Quickly, before they get here,” he said in a hushed whisper. “Scream as loud as you can when I push you over the edge.”
You don’t have to push me, Johnny,” she said.
“Don’t jump out. Just a take a short step off the ledge,” he said.
She took a deep breath and forced herself to step onto the ledge without looking down. April didn’t want to wait for Johnny to push her. She didn’t want to give herself time to grieve and mourn. She had lived a long and happy life. She could truly say that she had lived a good one. The best that money could buy.
April had no regrets, except for loving Tony. That sleazy scumbag of an old man. He had been almost twice her age when they had gotten married. She was his second wife. People said she had married him for his money, but that wasn’t true at all. She had her mother’s inheritance and had started making good money straight out of college. She really had loved him. All these years. Been faithful and true. And this is how he treated her. Oh, poor Tony, if she came across him in the afterlife wherever that happened to be. If she recognized him, she would make him pay.
She felt Johnny’s hand pressing on the back of her calves. “Hurry,” he said. She closed her eyes and stepped off the ledge.
April felt the wind blowing up through her hair in the free fall. Her hair whipping around her face. Her arms raised above her head. But she didn’t scream. She refused to scream. She wouldn’t give those dirty old men the satisfaction of listening to her scream as she fell to her death.
She waited for the impact. And waited. And waited. After a few moments, April opened her eyes and realized that she was still descending quickly, but she wasn’t in a deadly free fall. Whatever Johnny had tied around her waist was lowering her speedily but safely.
As she saw the ground coming up quickly, several men dressed in black reached up to grab her and pull her free. They carried her around the corner of the building and towards a waiting van.
April saw a body lying on the ground near where they met her. She looked back to try and understand what was going on.
Was she dead?
Were these her angels coming to drive her away into the afterlife?
When they got to the van, one of the men pulled off his mask and helped her enter. It was the Blue Wolf. Suddenly, everything made sense. This was part of his escape plan.
“That woman?” she asked.
He nodded. “Yes, your clone. Tony had some made a while back. We kept one of the extras that didn’t make it.”
“And Johnny?” she asked.
“Yes. He’s started to see the light as well. When he knew that Tony was onto you, he contacted me and told me to be ready to do whatever it took to save you. We had no idea that it would be tonight, so we had to improvise,” the Blue Wolf answered.
“So, how did you set it up so fast?”
“We had several contingency plans in place. This was Jonny’s idea. If they caught you in the building, he would suggest that they make it look like suicide from Tony’s office.”
April felt wave after wave of relief washing over her. Relief mixed with anger and fury at Tony. Gratefulness to Johnny and Blue Wolf for protecting her.
Blue Wolf put his arm around her. She cradled her head in his shoulder and let the sobs take over. Huge heaving sobs. She couldn’t contain the fear and the rage any longer. She began to wail and cry loudly while Blue Wolf held her tightly.
“I’m sorry, my angel. I didn’t mean for it to come to this.” Blue Wolf whispered softly over and over again to calm her down.
After a bit, April managed to compose herself. The same calm that she had felt before returned once again. She knew it would take her time to get over this grief. She would cry many times again before she got it all out of her system. But for now, she was alive. And that was all that mattered.
“Blue Wolf,” she said.
“Yes,” he answered quietly in the darkness just loud enough to be heard over the hum of the wheels on the asphalt and the blowing of the air conditioner.
“Promise me that we are going to do whatever it takes to bring LocTech down, but I don’t want anyone to kill Tony until he’s seen us destroy everything he has built.”
“Hmm,” was his reply in the darkness. April couldn’t see his expression.
“Promise me,” she whispered pleadingly. The rage screamed vengeance in her ears as her heart pounded her blood furiously through her trembling body.
“Don’t worry, my dear. We will make sure to let you do the honors when the time comes. Tony will know it is his little angel who has returned to exact her revenge.”
April smiled. She liked the sound of that. There was a lot to do over the coming days and months. The first thing she was going to do was pick back up on her martial art training.
“We’re almost home,” he whispered tenderly in her ear. “You can sleep. Tomorrow we will decide what to do from here on out. What do you want to do first?”
“Release the clones,” she said immediately without even thinking. “We’re going to release all those ‘insidious’ in Sector Seven.”
“Hmm,” he said sleepily. “I like the sound of that. Come, Juanita will show you to your room. Breakfast is normally served at six thirty, but don’t worry. You must get your rest. Tomorrow we will serve you breakfast whenever you get up.”
“Thank you, Blue Wolf,” she said as she hugged him. “Good night.”
April followed the small girl to the room she was shown. She didn’t bother taking off her clothes. She threw herself on the bed and fell into a deep and dreamless sleep willing herself not to feel anything until the next day. It would come with its own troubles and challenges.
But for now, she was alive. She was safe. And she would sleep.
April’s story continues in Rise! (Book 1 of the Edge of the Universe series) that you can download free at various book retailers or from my blog at DaveBailey.me