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Chapter 27

“Have we really travelled this far only to watch the night sky? Which we could back at the motel too,” grumbled Quincy.

“It’s been barely thirty minutes and you suggested that you wanted to stay the night, Quincy? Hush, man,” whispered Haruhi, comfortably lying down, her hands supporting her head, cool breeze whistling through her hair. “You should join me. I think it’s better if we leave the comet watching to the aspiring professionals,” she said, glaring at Fyre who feigned being interested in the celestial bodies that the night had to disclose.

“Seems fair,” he said, lying next to her, eyes closed.

“Why did you guys even want to come?” Fyre asked.

“As much as I’m regretting it, you are in no place to ask that question, Mr. Planner the Great,” said Haruhi.

“Planner the Great actually sounds lame, Haruhi,”objected Quincy as a swat land on his mouth swiftly.

“If you guys are on this stargazing trip does that mean that you’ve finished plotting the next novel?” asked Bastian, still cradling Fleur in his arms who was now fast asleep.

“Yep,” Erska said, fist bumping with Fyre.

“Does that mean you only need to start with your novel?” he asked.

“Actually around thirty percent is done. I’m progressing steadily. By this month, I think I’ll complete it,” she replied thoughtfully.

“Within this month?! Really??”

“Yea. It’s going to be more of a novella, shorter than a novel.”

“Do you know what you are going to do after you’ve finished writing?” Bastian asked.

She pondered for a while.“ I’ll probably try to find a publisher... I don’t know. I might have to think about the costs for production, marketing-”

“Erska, I’m asking about your mother. After writing, you just go back home? Do you have a plan of any sort?” he asked.

“Well, for now, I’m just really thinking about how I’m going to get a reader base. If I’m successful, maybe I can act all haughty with my nose up in the air but if I fail, I’ll probably just be a scapegoat. After all, it is not like I can keep living at the motel for the rest of my life,” ranted Erska as she paused for a minute. “Wow. I can’t really do that at all,”

“You really have to think about a lot things then,” stated Bastian.

“Man, let her live a bit. Why do have to always get this worked up everytime?” commented Fyre.

“That was just my suggestion,” he responded back, trying to hold his tongue.

“Fyre is right though. I’ll probably figure it out when the time comes. For now, I’ll look into the thing that I want to do now,” she replied as turned her back towards Fyre. “Can I lean, man? It is starting to hurt.”

“Maybe I’ll turn my back too. I guess we could support each other that way,” he said, sitting back-to-back.

“Di-Did I miss the comet?” mumbled Fleur as she got up, switching her position as she placed her head on Bastian’s lap. Bastian whose arms had been aching for a while started stretching it.

“Nope,” he said. “By the way, don’t you have a long shift tomorrow also? Isn’t today going to exhaust you tomorrow?”

“Bastian, sometimes you act too much like my grandma. I can skip work. It’s no biggie-”

“Skip? Absolutely not! Then you’ll start whining about how if had missed it work, I could have gotten employee of the month award-” Bastian stopped speaking as soon as Fleur’s demeanour started changing.

“Whining?? I’m sorry did you say whining? I don’t whine! Maybe I do get very overemotional but that’s too much! I need some air. Geez,” spit Fleur, getting up in a hurry and walking away from them.

“Run behind the love of your life, Bastian,” joked Fyre as Bastian glared, preparing to chase her already.

“Are we actually going to see this comet or not?” dragged Erska, boredom hitting her after an hour’s watch of the empty sky.

“I’m not sure if we could do that,” Haruhi said as she got up with a jerk, looking at her Draphacon. “Get those two idiots. We might have to rush back. The sensor at the store has been tripped. Someone’s inside.”

“I still don’t understand what the hell are we doing here now. Aren’t we supposed to get the girl, Max?” whispered one of the guys to the next one, carefully walking through Solitarie, his pocket flashlight on.

“Melvin said it’s better we dig some dirt on them, get some documents and stuff before we make that move,” replied the other one while adjusting his Bluetooth earpiece. “Be sure to remove our traces, Jo. You’re going through their CCTV, right?”

Two blocks away, their getaway van shadowing as a food truck had their technician Jo tapping into Solitarie’s cameras and voice recorders. “I have your back. It seems like no one is home. Probably they’ve gone on a trip or something,” the techie suggested, simultaneously looking at the mini cameras fitted at Franklin’s Motel. “If you guys get nothing at the store, go to the motel. The store owner’s room number is five while the other one’s at six. Currently, there are ten occupants at the motel including the owner. I’ve run background checks on all of them. I don’t think anyone can hurt you. Just make sure that you are light on your feet.”

“This is not fair at all. Why the hell are we the only ones snooping around? What the hell are the other people doing at the company?” complained Bill as he went through the cash registers.

“Don’t worry. There’ll be reinforcements soon. I’ve requested Melvin to overlook your shoddiness from last time,” said Jo, rubbing salt on his wounds while he slurped a mouthful of ramen, seated in the comforts of the van.

“Can you both shut up??” barked Max. “Bill. Find anything useful?”

“Just some stuff related to the store. Nothing suspicious.”

“I don’t know what the hell is going on Melvin’s head. If these people have no records anywhere, isn’t it giving off red flags? We might require more people on this thing for all that I know..” insisted Max.

“And why aren’t we even going according to the client’s wishes? I have a bad feeling about this whole thing,” said Bill, sitting in one of the chairs.

“What kind of shop keeper is this secretive about her identity?” wondered Max.

“Honestly, we’ve never had anything more uncrackable than this,” affirmed Bill.

“I hope the two of you can stop yapping and take your jobs seriously. If you find nothing at the store, check the motel. Let’s get going,” grumbled Jo through their earpieces.

“Alright. Alright. Let’s go,” said Bill as he reached for the door handle but backed away instantly as soon as he saw four figures getting out of the car that had parked right in front of Solitarie. There was no time to hide their presence, the street lights had given away their forms. Haruhi barged in furiously, switching on the lights as Quincy, Bastian and Fyre followed her.

“I saw two people. There’s no way they could have left this place,” growled Haruhi, furiously tapping her toes as she looked at the cameras. While Quincy checked the CCTV footage in the computer present at the cash register right next to the door, Bastian and Fyre had gone into the storage room, tipping over every last useless thing.

“I’ve gone through the whole thing over and over again and I see no movement, no figure, nothing. Are you sure the sensor didn’t glitch or something?” asked Quincy, frantically scrolling through the footage.

“If it just a store bought one, I’d agree but for precaution’s sake I got stuff from the HQ too and it is foolproof. No way is this a glitch,” persisted Haruhi as she paced back and forth, suddenly stopping in her tracks. “Or the cameras were tapped…” She rushed towards the computer, running through the footage which had been previously viewed by Quincy.

While both of them perused through it, Bill and Max had been hiding behind the counters opposite to the cash register. With no real obstacle blocking the entrance, they took this as a chance to make their escape. As they emerged from their hiding area, they plunged towards the entrance in full force only to be waylaid by Haruhi as she rushed towards them, punching one in the chest while kicking the other. The two teamed up, trying to strangle Haruhi so that she would give up but since they did not pay much attention to Quincy who knocked down one by driving his knee into his gut, Haruhi was able to take care of the other by herself, by stamping him real hard and punching his face. She brought the two to their feet, kicking them two more times to make sure they stayed down.

“Why are you kicking them unnecessarily?!” Quincy asked.

“No one messes with my store,” she snarled, her eyes fired up. “Now, let me look at your face.” Ripping off the black masks that covered their faces, she was confused, having not seen them anywhere. “Who the hell are you guys?”

Bill and Max looked at each other, nervously. It was obvious Jo was watching them through the cameras but the question was how they were going to get out of this mess.

“Aww look what they have..earpieces…” Haruhi mocked, taking it off Bill’s ear. “If you don’t tell me, I could have y’all booked for violation, right? Trespassing private property, spying…let’s see if I can book you for more charges.”

“Haruhi, we did not find anyone in- Ohhh..” dragged Bastian.

“Late, man. Let’s tie these idiots up. I’m not leaving you both till you speak,” instructed Haruhi. “Get some ropes from the storage room.”

“This whole day has taken a three-sixty degree turn,” sighed Quincy as he slightly loosened his hold over Max who was, suddenly, up on his feet as he performed a roundhouse kick, damaging Quincy’s face as he went down. Fortunately, due to Bastian and Fyre’s presence, they tackled Max onto the ground and tied both of them to prevent further crisis.

“You okay?” Haruhi asked, making Quincy sit up.

“My pretty face just got damaged. I’m not sure if that’s the question you ought to be asking,” he said, trying to feel his bruised left cheek, slightly howling. His arms trembled, unable to support himself.

“I need some help over here,” Haruhi said as she held onto one of Quincy’s arms while Fyre rushed over to the other side. They lifted him. He walked slowly on his feet and sat on the nearest chair.

“If it’s okay, can I look at the mirror?” Quincy asked.

“I’m not in the mood for ridiculousness right now,” Haruhi stated, rolling her eyes as she went back to taunting the goats in their midst.

Quincy turned towards Fyre, making his best puppy face. “C’mon Fyre. Help a brother out. I’m sure Haruhi has got one of those hand mirrors lying somewhere in the store..”

Fyre stared at him, eyes blinking as he searched for a mirror and produced one before him. Quincy leaned forward, looking at the scar encircling his left eye.

“Wow. This looks real bad…” he murmured.

“You should..perhaps..apply some medicine..” suggested Fyre, taking the first aid kit from one of the cabinets.

But Quincy had other ideas as he began rattling. “Nah. Maybe I could go around saying that I got this from saving a person. I should take care of this after some time. I could use this to go around to make people feel bad, get some freebies-”

Fyre took no heed and began applying the ointment without warning. The slightest touch produced a yelp from Quincy and he stood up, staggering.

“Dude! A warning, please!” exclaimed Quincy, astounded.

Fyre pushed him back onto the seat, leaning all the way over the counter, holding onto his right shoulder a little too tight and he proceeded to apply the medicine.

“I often forget that you are stronger than me,” jested Quincy, his fingers clenching onto his thighs, trying not to seem like a wimp.

Seeing this, Fyre loosened his grip and patted his wound lighter than before. “Does it hurt now?”

“Much better,” Quincy replied.

“Have you always had violet contacts?” Fyre asked, unable to take his eyes off its unnatural nature, moving back and forth between the bruise and his berry shaded irises.

“Yup. Like that’s my shade, you know?” bragged Quincy, his hands moving like the ones in beauty pageants.

“Well…it kinda suits you,” he replied as he screwed back the lid of the ointment, slightly smiling.

“Fyre complimenting? That’s a day I never thought would come…by the way, are the girls still in the car?” Quincy asked.

“I guess,” he said as he went out to call both of them in.

“It was kinda scary. Seeing it from outside,” mumbled Fleur, cautiously walking into Solitarie.

“We’ve got it under control, miss,” said Quincy, heartily.

“Your face says it all, Quincy,” commented Erska at its irony as she walked closer to have a look at the culprits who were currently being investigated.

“Are you guys really not going to open your mouth?” barked Haruhi as her hands readied to throw a punch which was prevented by Bastian.

“We aren’t gangsters, Haruhi! Can’t we hand them over to the police or something?” he suggested.

“Not until I get something out of them!”

“Umm guys..” Erska said, pulling Haruhi’s sleeve. “I think I may know who might be behind this.”

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