The rage Within

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Chapter 53

The meeting was organized as Rieger had suggested. Theo had contacted everyone I had met at the warehouse, and a few others he could trust. Theo even rented a log cabin, through a third party of course, that would accommodate a large number of us comfortably. It was in a country setting, but very close to the city making it convenient for everyone. To say this meeting was important was an understatement.

If this meeting went as planned there was good chance the combined efforts of the group could turn the tide. The truth needed to get out there to combat the constant barrage of fictitious propaganda. If left unchecked much longer Theo predicted that it may lead to centuries of war.

Theo, Bili and I drove to the warehouse to pick up Steve and Jacques. We were already running late because Steve said he needed a little extra time to work on something. He said it was important. Theo said he was vague about the details, but he had made some progress on the whereabouts of the enemy.

We walked in to find Jacques gathering up a few things and putting on his jacket.

“Well?” Theo asked.

“Found the bitch.” Jacques said. “And seven of her associates.

“You’re kidding?” I said instinctively.

Jacques, Bili and Theo all looked at me at the same time with the same blank stare. Apparently Jacques was not one to kid. Thankfully Theo spoke and mercifully diverting the attention from me.

“If we can get everyone on board do you think we will have enough bodies to take them down?” Theo asked Jacques.

“If the General and his men come on board this should be as easy a mission we have ever taken on.” Jacques said.

This was a huge break and the excitement shown on Theo’s face. It had been awhile since we had some really good news. The possibility of ending the feud, as well as catching those responsible for the senseless violence and killings, was indeed a positive. This meeting was going to be bigger than originally expected.

“Where’s Steve?” Bili said.

“He left just before you got here. He uncovered something else that he wanted to look into. He will meet us there.” Jacques said.

“We got to get going. We are running late as it is and Rieger is not overloaded with patience.” Theo said.

Jacques followed the three of us on his motorcycle, as he did most trips. I got the feeling he liked his solitude. The mood among the three of us in car was upbeat for a change. We talked easily about work and once this was over maybe taking a vacation. It was one of those times when you felt good about being alive.

It was the first time I had seen Bili and Theo together in what I guessed was their usual behavior in a relaxed atmosphere. Since my change everyone had been on edge most of the time, waiting for another attack, or more bad news. Now things seemed different.

Theo and Bili bantered back and forth with a sharp wit and sense of humor I enjoyed. Theo was always a pleasure to be around, but seeing this side of him was a special treat. Not to mention the affect he had on Bili. She smiled easier and laughed quicker when he was around. They had a bond that was a rare thing in this world. It was times like this that made me miss my mom terribly.

We were almost at the meet location when I caught an odd scent I didn’t like. When I looked at Theo and Bili I knew I wasn’t the only one. No one said anything, hoping there was a good explanation.

After breaching the thick forest we came to a clearing. My heart sank.

“No, no, no, no.” Theo said as we approached.

The entire cabin was fully engulfed in flames, as well as several vehicles parked in the driveway. The fact that no one was outside was alarming, but not near as alarming as the smell.


That and the fact that two large box-van’s were parked in the front and rear of the cabin. They were big enough to block the two doors as well as the only two windows big enough to escape through.

Theo was the first to spring into action, and we followed his lead. He ran around looking for a way inside, but the flames were just too hot, even for us. The cabin was built like a tiny fortress, good for keeping people out. Unfortunately it was good at keeping them in as well. I noticed a few small holes in the side that looked as though someone was able to start a hole in the wall, but unable to finish.

Jacques tried to pull one of the trucks from the door and was making progress. He was pulling from the rear bumper, as it was the only place he could get a hold of without burning himself. Just as the truck started to move it exploded into flame throwing Jacques backward as if it were a bomb.

There was absolutely nothing any of us could do. The acrid smell of burning flesh was thick in the air as the plumes of heavy smoke began to billow above the small structure.

We circling the cabin several times looking for a solution that just wasn’t there. The fire was so intense and hot that just being within ten feet of it created blisters on our skin. Though they would heal quickly when we backed off I knew instinctively that if burned to badly there would be no recovery.

After a frantically searching for a way to help for what seemed like an eternity we eventually congregated back to the front and looked on helplessly.

The lack of noise other than the crackling sound of the wood and embers said no one was alive.

I recognized most of the cars from the warehouse meeting awhile back, but there were a couple I didn’t.

There was one car that was suspiciously absent.

The four of us stood there, mesmerized by the dancing fire, looking like we had just crawled out of a dirty chimney.

Theo had streaks of ash and tears down his cheeks as he stared into the fire with a fury the flames were no match for. He was squinting and grinding his teeth, using every ounce of strength not to scream in rage. It was clear he was at his breaking point.

Bili and I shared a concerned glance toward each other as we were on either side of Theo. I thought he may actually jump into the fire to try to save his friends. If there was any opening into the cabin I think he would have tried. He had set the place and time and somehow the enemy was able to get that information. I know he would forever feel responsible.

“We need to get out of here.” Jacques said as the sirens were getting closer by the minute.

Not knowing for sure who was inside was unsettling, but time was up. We had to go.

It was a somber trip back and the once jovial mood only moments earlier was long gone. We rode in silence and as we passed the fire trucks it only added to the helpless feeling. They would put out the fire and find the remains of friends, all of whom had died what had to be a most horrible death. Other than pure torture there are few deaths I could think of that would be worse than being burned alive.

We drove with the windows down and the whipping wind helped relieve the pungent smell from the fire. I looked off into the distance and contemplated numerous questions simultaneously, as I was sure we all were.

How could the enemy get the drop on all of them? How could they even know where and when the meeting was taking place? Was there anything I could have done to prevent this? Did I do something that inadvertently tipped them off as to our plans?

I know Theo was feeling the same, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I may be responsible for the lives of our friends. It’s not an easy thing to consider.

Theo had been trying to call Steve, as well as all the others, in the off chance they were not inside. Steve’s mysterious absence left me wondering. Had he changed his allegiance? Did the enemy offer him something he couldn’t refuse? He was privy to all the information we had, and probably much more. I didn’t want to believe it, but you would be a fool not to consider all possibilities.

We had split up to look for Steve. Theo, Bili and I checked several places including the POH, Theo’s house, the warehouse and even Bili’s apartment. Jacques was going to check a few spots on his own as this was his specialty.

Theo got a call from Jacques, who told Theo that he found Steve. He didn’t go into it on the phone, only that we should meet him Miah’s home.

Miah and Lucinda live in the city of Wixom, which is only thirty minutes from Ann Arbor, and have a large plot of land for the area. Their driveway was almost a quarter mile itself making the house well out of sight from the neighbors.

When we reached the end of the driveway near the house I saw Steve’s car and I was filled with a sense of relief. I started feeling guilty for thinking that he had betrayed us in some manner. Jacques was standing outside in the middle of the driveway in front of Steve’s car, but Steve wasn’t with him.

Theo parked behind Jacques cycle and we all got out simultaneously and walked over next to Jacques.

“Where is that..?” Bili started to say, but bit off the rest as we got closer to Jacques.

Jacques didn’t answer and when we reached his side I saw why.

Steve’s disheveled and lifeless body lay on the gravel next to his car. The rocks that surrounded Steve’s head were such a dark red they almost appeared black.

I watched Jacques as he stood over Steve’s body in silence. Though he wasn’t saying anything his body language was screaming. I think it was the first time I had seen a look of raw emotion from him. Even at the fire he seemed unaffected and detached, but not now.

There was an anger in his eyes that chilled me through, as well as a subtle sadness that was heart breaking. I had a feeling from the way they talked to each other that they may have been close, but it wasn’t until that very moment that I understood.

I may have been a little surprised by Jacques reaction, but it was Bili’s that really shocked me.

Bili slowly brushed past Jacques and knelt down beside Steve’s body. He had been shot in both eyes, but his face was otherwise the same. The damage to the rear of his head was another story and obviously why he was unable to recover. Like Theo had told me before. Massive trauma to the head or heart and it is all over.

Bili reached down and grabbed Steve’s hand. I thought she was going to move him at first, but she just held his hand gently as a kitten.

“You idiot.” Bili said, almost with contempt. “Why didn’t you just come with us? You never did do anything right.”

The tears started and began to flow harder as Bili continued.

“Your stupid flowers, your moronic text messages with hearts in them. Why did you waste your time with me? I treated you horrible.”

My heart wept as I saw Bili do something I never thought I would see her do. She bared a piece of soul, and that is not an easy thing for anyone, especially her. She went on.

“I never told you, but I loved the flowers, and the text messages.” She said in a softer voice now. “You never gave up on trying to get me to go out with you when you should have. I wanted to go, I did. I just...”

She was sobbing now and the rest of us could only look on as this poor girl dealt with her own regrets and feelings. I was crying as well. Some for Steve, but more for the pain I knew Bili was going through as Viki was still fresh in my memory. To this day it remains one of saddest things I ever witnessed.

My sadness was now turning to anger. If my mom, Viki, and the cabin wasn’t enough, this seemed to be the proverbial last straw. I know I wasn’t the only one thinking this either.

This nice, considerate, and friendly person did not deserve this, nor did any of the others. So much loss and for what?

Bili set Steve’s hand down very gently and stood up.

“How do we get these sons of bitches?” She said, whipping he face with the palms of her hands.

It was only a few seconds later when it came to me.

“I know how.” I said.

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