GM - Story #3

All Rights Reserved ©

Chapter 15

Greyson lost track of time as he lay motionless on his couch.

He turned on the television. Footage from the Iowa bombing occupied nearly every channel. The scene outside his New York apartment had yet to hit the headlines, but he sensed it coming like a hot summer rain.

The attention placed on the normally dull state of Iowa jolted the revelation that he should reach out to his sister. He selected her avatar through her Google Trinity account, which also paged her cell phone and sent a text message. She did not reply, and he didn’t want to break the news to her in writing without being able to explain what he had witnessed. So, he left a message that he needed to speak with her, but did not provide any further details.

His back arched and his neck craned upward over the couch. He tried to shut out the memories of the event he had just experienced and craved a drink or a smoke like the most hardened of addicts. He pictured Jai captured, beaten and tortured. He had no idea who would want to harm Ruben or Cael - or Jai for that matter, but his imagination, fueled by vivid images from movies and television shows, painted a gruesome picture of him chained to a chair in a dark warehouse with hooded captors surrounding him.

The TV produced a familiar beeping jingle and startled him. Gina’s sweet face, lying back on her plush bedding filled his 54-inch screen. Her smile brightened the room. She wore a skimpy red two piece with light feathery fluff all around her breasts. The pink and purple room blazed in contrast to the shady, shadowy apartment with his blinds half closed and all of his lights out.

“Hey honey,” Gina beamed. “I know it is a little off schedule, but I was thinking about you and thought you might like to chat. How are ya tonight?”

Immediately after greeting Greyson, she sensed his consternation and realized something was very wrong. She noticed the distinctive blue and red flashing hues that bounced around his room and illuminated the side of his face.

“Are you alright?” she asked, her concern wiping the gleam from her face.

Greyson did not respond. He didn’t even motion toward the screen to greet her gaze. He continued to stare upward in his trance.

“Hey, you are scaring me,” Gina’s expression dimmed. “You look like you are in some kind of trouble. Did you OD on something? What is with you?”

Greyson lowered his head and met Gina’s eyes. His gaze, though only feet from the camera embedded in his monitor seemed miles away. He didn’t smile. He just stared at her, almost as if he didn’t recognize her. Indeed, the juxtaposition of his on-line stripper friend pinging him to initiate a frivolous good time against the background of the death and disorientation he had just seen overloaded his senses and he dropped his head into his hands in despair.

Gina moved closer to her cam and pleaded with him to open up to her.

“I need a drink,” Greyson uttered. “I can’t sit here all alone. I need to get out of here.”

Gina flashed her eyes back and forth in a nervous motion and peered straight into Greyson’s.

“Where are you?” she asked. “I think you need someone right now.”

Jameis and Missy sprinted through Minneapolis-St. Paul airport to get from Terminal A to Terminal D in time for their connecting flight to Iowa. Images of enraged mobs and burning cars in Middle Eastern streets dominated the CNN broadcast on the monitors in every terminal they passed.

Missy scrolled through e-mails as they weaved around slower bodies on the people mover.

She checked other news providers on her iPhone, while Jameis made constant contact with the office to keep up. In a surreal succession of changing headlines, the incidents in Libya and the Middle East flipped and flopped with the bombing in Iowa, creating a sensation of total world chaos both abroad and domestically

They arrived at their gate with just enough time to flash their boarding passes and bolt through the door to the waiting aircraft. Jameis glanced back at the CNN newscast on a 20-inch screen in the terminal. His eyes bulged at the grainy image from the university video surveillance camera of the man driving Senator Johnson’s blue BMW which appeared in the center of the screen. A teaser headline below the picture read: “Iowa Bombing Accomplice Identified?

Jameis tried to go back, but the American Airlines staff sternly directed him to get on the plane. His last look at the TV through the small window to the gate area gave him no hint. Instead, a commercial for an Anderson Cooper special about the turmoil in the Mideast occupied the screen.

Henry Lucas had spent much of the 30-minute limo ride from Westchester County Airport to midtown Manhattan explaining to Olivia why they had exited the plane so abruptly without even flying in the air and why he had such a loud argument with the mean Flight Attendant when he wanted to get off.

In between his repeated explanations, he barked instructions by phone to his Research & Identification staff to find the address for the actor that had played Shiloh St. Jean on a show called the Family Act using any means available to them. He also instructed them not to let Lloyd know that he had skipped his flight to Minnesota and remained in New York.

As he crossed the Tri-Borough Bridge into Manhattan, he paused, relaxed his mind and tensed his muscles to hold as still as possible. The silence that filled the car like clear, fresh air deafened him. He had forgotten how peacefully quirky the little noises that Olivia made could be without the constant interruption of her hiccups.

Uncharacteristically, Henry did not have a plan. But he had to find out why, after all of the therapies and solutions he had researched and investigated, Olivia’s hiccups had suddenly disappeared following this chance brush with the burned-out actor and his mysterious guest.

He felt a sensation of deep relaxation sink into his body unlike any emotional release he had felt since the death of his wife. It lasted only until he turned the corner and faced the police lights dancing up the sides of the buildings between 54th and 7th.

Greyson stared out the window of his apartment at the scene below. His focus blurred from the crowd that filled the 54th street concrete canyon to his own reflection in the window four inches from his face. He debated in his mind whether or not his decision to reveal his address to Gina would lead to a connection with a comforting soul, a twisted fling or some compound horror to his already confounding day.

He refocused on the many tops of heads below, some in hats or hoods and some holding umbrellas to shield the light rain. The panic had subsided, and the crowd no longer moved frantically away, but rather ebbed slowly and curiously toward the carnage on 7th Ave. He wondered if he would spot Gina right away. Would she stand out from the crowd? Would she take one look at the scene and scare off like a baby deer in the street darting back into the woods at the first sign of the blinding headlights.

The dark, dull throng resembled a body of water, rippling and swirling. Greyson didn’t see the vivid image at first. Along the outermost edge of the sidewalk, practically pressed up against the façade of the Asian Fusion restaurant across the street, Greyson noticed a fleck of a bright colored garb. As he zoomed his eyes, his expectations mismatched the image. Instead, he recognized Jai’s distinctive frame and his light-colored robe or overcoat.

Like a swan cutting through the undercurrent, Jai weaved across the crowd and made it to the side of the street just below his window. Gazing straight down, Greyson could see that Jai had a second person with him. He had his arm around the individual and his robe flowed out and over his head and body like a shield.

As he passed below and made his way up the stairs, Greyson recognized the bulging neck muscles of the airport executive, Ruben Herrera. Jai had him covered and obscured from view. They looked like a pair of vagabonds seeking refuge from the commotion.

People in the street remained transfixed on the sounds and images emanating from the next block over and took no notice of Jai or the ailing Ruben, who seemed to be able to stumble along with Jai’s help and support.

“Christ,” Greyson muttered as he fumbled for his iPhone to call 911.

Jameis and Missy ascended into the grey clouds above the Mississippi River. Missy watched a giant barge inch its way past a port along the river bank. Jameis stared straight ahead in the aisle seat.

“Just that he’s a male, Caucasian, big muscular type, driving the senator’s BMW into the gate of the University seven minutes before the explosion.”

“Ok,” Jameis employed a career’s worth of deduction and investigative skills. “We have a series of loosely connected facts. Let’s try to connect the dots and make sense of it all.”

Missy sat quietly thinking. Few intelligible thoughts came to mind and she suddenly felt embarrassed sitting next to her mentor. Jameis picked up on her hesitancy and continued.

“If terrorists bombed the school, why? Who was their target? A VIP at the school? The speaker at the event?”

Missy continued to look blankly at him. She smiled awkwardly as she searched her mind for a contribution to the brainstorm.

“Let’s stretch the story and come up with theories,” Jameis challenged his companion. “Even if they are way out there. We have a possible suspect, this driver. Who is he?”

“Not likely,” said Jameis. “For one, the driver has to check in his vehicle, which means he doesn’t have a student badge or sticker. We also have this alleged hero – the guest speaker. No one seems to know who he was. He was already on campus and met up with the driver after the bombing. From the AP video, it looked like they knew each other. The driver ends up acting like a planned getaway driver.”

“Or a rescuer,” Missy added.

“That too,”

“Bus,” Missy blurted out. “I don’t have specific footage of the hero, but there is a city bus that comes and goes out of the campus four times a day. The hero could have come in by bus.”

Jameis raised his eyebrows and Missy continued before he could express his next thought process.

“Most bus companies maintain security video,” she blurted in excitement. “We could get a view of the hero just before the incident.”

Jameis looked at her in hopeful optimism. The Flight Attendant stopped by asking for their snack and beverage preferences. Thoughts, dilemmas and blurry images swirled through Jameis’ head. He realized that he had not eaten a sufficient amount to maintain his energy level and a mild headache had set in.

Missy ordered pretzels and a can of Cranberry juice. Jameis unhooked his safety belt and reached for his wallet. He kept the remainder of his theory to himself.

But even so, she struggled to formulate an image or an expectation of how this interaction would work. What was she trying to accomplish? She couldn’t crystallize the thoughts.

Like a moth to one of those blue lights,” she thought to herself. “I just hope I don’t get burned.”

Awash in the red and blue light of the surreal scene outside, Greyson had managed to log back into his phone and click the dialer icon. He got as far as dialing the “9” in “911”. He didn’t hear the subtle rattle of his bedroom window in the other room or the creak of the aged wood floor not 20 feet away. But when the booming voice unexpectedly hit his ears from inside his own apartment, he jolted, dropped the phone, whirled, lost his footing and fell straight back into the radiator cover that framed the bottom of the plate glass window.

He slumped to the floor. His back throbbed where the wood molding gouged into the side of his spine. And his chest tingled in adrenaline-laced fear. He looked up at the silhouette of a figure that loomed toward him.

“You need to let them in,” the deep voice commanded.

The words registered slowly as Greyson felt like a punch-drunk boxer floored in a late round.

The familiarity of the voice ebbed into his consciousness slowly and then jolted into place as Cael Block’s prominent chin and chiseled features crossed into the light and invaded his personal space. Moving too quickly for Greyson to have defended it or even seen it coming, a pair of hands yanked him off the ground to his feet. Cael’s urgency smacked him into mental sobriety.

“Unlock the door,” he barked. “Now. Move!”

Greyson clutched his iPhone, thumbing through his apps and executed the unlock function. Cael exited the apartment like a flash of lightning.

Within seconds, he reemerged hoisting a bloodied Ruben through the doorway with impressive efficiency. The bulging Ruben looked like a giant stuffed doll hanging off Cael’s left shoulder muttering something barely intelligible about the driver of the car betraying them and Jai dragging him from the scene just before the police appeared.

Cael eased Ruben into the spare bed and immediately used the sheets to apply pressure to the open wounds.

To Greyson it appeared as if Cael could somehow maintain two hands on Ruben’s chest while simultaneously ripping the sheets into long strips for wrapping wounds to his shoulder and thigh. Like a pit stop at a NASCAR race, Cael rolled his comrade left and peeled back a long Velcro strip from across his back, rolled him right and removed a thick black bulletproof vest with three indentations in one of the front panels.

Ruben gasped as Cael applied pressure. His voice gained some strength and Greyson could follow the conversation as Cael delivered the emergency care.

“He had our schedule,” Ruben tried to explain.

“I know,” Cael replied, making a shoosh sound.

“He had pass codes,” Ruben continued. “He knew our team and followed our protocols. When he made the call to bypass the apartment and move to the secondary location, he had all the details spot on.”

“I know, I know,” said Cael. “We were hacked. Mikey discovered it and shut it down. I had tactical from the roof and saw it unfold. We are working on new protocols. Don’t worry about it.”

Cael grimaced and the sheets started to soak through, converting from pale white to bright crimson.

It took Greyson several seconds to realize that a second set of hands applying pressure to the patient’s wounds belonged to someone other than his cousin.

The distinctive white jacket, the impeccable long, wavy hair, the lean, athletic frame, all struck a chord of clarity for Greyson as he watched the pair deliver their make-shift emergency care. The name of Cael’s companion – the full name - leapt into his mind and Greyson could not help but verbalize the revelation.

“Holy Shit,” he yelped. “It’s you. I can’t believe this. You’re the guy … from the internet. You’re Jaio … the holy man.”

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.