Chapter 29: All I See is Red
A crippling pain shatters through my body as Dyson’s words ring through my mind. This has to be some kind of sick play, how can someone so public go missing. Maybe he’s just sulking, one into hiding within the confines of his home. Despite how much I hope that is the truth, the cynical part of me knows it’s not. Dyson isn’t lying. An ache throbs deep down in my bones. With shaky fingers, I clutch onto the large man for physical support. Blood rushes to my head and I blink rapidly as the room begins to spin. “Stop, p-please.” I stutter out, attempting to keep strength in my footing.
With my blurring vision, I’m still able to make out Dyson turning to face my direction. His much larger hands grip onto my upper arms, “fuck, don’t shut down, Julia!” He shakes my body, but my mouth simply parts wordlessly. “Come back to me.” He pleads, a frown crossing his features.
My mind works at triple the pace, I start to go over the events of the last couple of weeks in my head. Then it hits, “that man,” I breathe out.
“What man!?” Dyson’s voice is loud and rough in my ear. Shaking my head, I try to place all the pieces together, but all I’m left with is a jumbled mess. The grip on my arms tighten and Dyson gains my attention once more. “Come on, Julia. Who are you talking about?” He shakes me again.
I shift through the memories, “from the video.” In my head I find myself attempting to grab onto one specific occurrence, it’s at the tip of my skull. With anxiety settling in, I begin to jerk away from Dyson. I need to find Red, make sure he’s safe. The hold doesn’t loosen and I’m confident I’ll have bruises tomorrow. “The fucking video, Dyson!”
“What about it?” He seems at a loss.
I force myself to settle my almost hyperventilated breathing. This isn’t the time to be weak. “Let go of me.” That is a command. Immediately, I am released. “Sebastian.” The name finally coats my tongue.
“Sebastian?” Bemused beyond belief, Dyson seems to be on the edge of a cliff.
I find myself becoming highly irritated, how can he be so oblivious. “The man in the reflection. Sebastian.” I snap.
I go to move past Dyson, but he grabs my shoulder and stops me. “You mean Simon?”
“I’m sorry, who?” Pausing, I turn back to him. “I think I’d remember someone who helped me, Dyson.” I cross my arms, beyond agitated and in a dire need to go back to the city.
A series of emotions cross Dyson’s face. “Fucking hell, of course!” He grumbles. Confused, I shake my head. He returns the gesture. Taking hold of my hand, he tugs me out of the office. I quicken my step to keep up with the man clearly on a mission. It’s obvious something has clicked in his mind, but I’d rather question him once I know we’re on our way back to Red.
He directs me to the vehicle and we both strap up. Within minutes we’re speeding down the highway, back to the city. I leave a quick voicemail for my parents and brother. Finally, once I know I’ve sorted things back home, I turn to face Dyson. “Who’s Simon?” I question.
“Bastard was a rat; wiring money, sharing deals with outside parties. Corrupting our company. Red was quick in firing the runt… which is why I’m confused. How’d he get into the building and what the hell was he doing in your office?” The large man’s eyes remain rooted to the road in front, his form is tense and his jaw clicks in frustration.
I lean back in my seat and bind my fingers together, allowing his words to settle in. He is right, it doesn’t make sense for Sebas– no, Simon to be in my office. I never keep anything there, all the business files are on my laptop and at Red’s place.
The hours pass incredibly slowly, tapping my foot I count down the miles we cross. “We should contact the police,” I comment.
“My team can handle this, Julia. You just stay safe.” Dyson replies.
I glare at him, fuck that. His team lost Red. I bite my lower lip and keep my mouth shut. “Can you drop me off at the office,” it isn’t much of a question, but I couldn’t care less. I can feel his hesitation but he does nod. I begin to text Daryl, asking him to meet me at the company. I want to trust Dyson, believe that he’ll be able to manage the situation, but something in me demands I seek more help.
We arrive at the office and I quickly exit the vehicle before Dyson can utter anything else, I don’t bother with watching him drive away. Instead, I make my way towards the security situated up front and Daryl who accompanies the large man by pacing beside him. Showing him my identification badge I swipe through the massive doors.
“What’s going on, Jules?” Daryl questions, walking next to me.
I press the upwards arrow on the elevator and cross my arms, “Red’s missing. There’s nothing but a bit of security footage, I need you to help me clear the image and get in contact with your department at the station.” I ramble off as the doors open. We step inside and I press the top floor, the ride up has my adrenaline clawing to get out through my skin.
“Okay, that can be done. Do you know when Red disappeared?” We step out of the elevator and begin walking down the first hallway.
I shrug, “the call came in a few hours ago, maybe four…” He nods. I lead him to the security room and swipe us in, “think you can hack into these computers?” I question. Daryl gives me an ‘are you serious’ kind of look and I step aside to allow him to work his magic.
“Okay, I’m in. You said about four hours, huh. So after hours, seven o’clock.” I lean over him as he shifts through the videos until we find the one we’re after. At first, we have trouble locating the reflection, after several minutes of frustration we finally find it. “Him, right.” Daryl points to the light image of the man. I nod.
Just like Dyson, Daryl brings out the reflection until it’s almost clear. “He used to work here,” I mutter.
“Simon, right?” I nod. “Sweet, I just need his full name and then I can run it through my database, find out where the son-of-a-bitch was last seen.” Daryl’s fingers fly across the keyboards; he pulls up web page after page. Eventually, he has the man’s full name. Simon Clermont. “Bastard is a genius, look at his credentials!” Daryl then puts Simon’s name through his own system. “He doesn’t live at the address on your company’s records… just give me a sec and we can have his new location.”
I run a hand through my hair, annoyed. I can’t connect the dots, “what do you think he’s after?” I voice my concern.
“Beats me, but the man is a complete nut-job. Look at his medical history,” Daryl turns his screen towards me. I scan its contents…
Psychologically unstable, substance abuse, schizophrenia, personality disorder—
I don’t bother continuing. “Bloody hell, how is the guy still walking the streets…” I know how invasive this is, how incredibly illegal it is to go through someone’s history in the manner I am, but curiosity has the better of me and if it means I can find Red then fuck the law. “You said you can find his last seen location?”
“Yeah, just a sec, take down the registered number. He’s probably too smart to keep a traceable phone, but maybe he’s being foolish. After all, he did fuck up in the security footage.” Daryl waits for me to write down Simon’s number, once we have it he continues clicking away. “It’ll take a few moments, but we should have some record of him.”
I press the number into my phone, “should I try it?” I ask. Daryl nods. I dial the number and press my phone to my ear, it begins to ring and I feel my heart skip a beat, then it cuts off, ‘the number you are trying to reach is out of reception, please dial the number and try again.’ “Out of reception?” I speak out loud.
“Means the device is still in use just in a place without a pickup, either rural, high up or really fucking low,” Daryl explains.
Great, “well, that really narrows it down, huh.” He scoffs at my sarcastic tone.
“It just might…” He mumbles all of a sudden.
Instantly, I lean in closer to him. “What did you find?” He points to his screen and my eyes enlarge. The footage displays the exterior of Alfonsi International. Standing at the side, near the service exit is Simon. He plays around with the keypad on the door for a few moments, before breaking the lock and disappearing inside, I check the time and grind my teeth together. 6:45pm. “Can you see where else he’s been?”
“I can trace his steps,” Daryl does just that, it seems nothing is private these days.
My gaze adjusts to the flickering of images, “hold on!” I stop my friend. “Omg, that’s outside my apartment…” A chill runs down my spine and I step closer to Daryl.
A small screen pops up and Daryl puts in a code, “Julia, he’s been to your apartment many times, look.” Turning the screen once more, I’m faced with a disturbing reality. Releasing a breath, I grab onto the table. “As frightening as that is, the real problem is that there are no sightings of him leaving the company.” I tighten my hold, the hair on my arms stand and I feel my mouth dry. “The fucker’s been right under our noses, the entire time!”
Forcing myself to concentrate, I shuffle through the jumble in my head before forming coherent words, “why isn’t he up here? I mean, you can see everything from here,” it is a valid point.
“He’s smart enough to hack into the security camera’s, probably created the damn system being used. Question is, does he know we’re here?” I groan, looking around the room and spotting the camera in the corner, “I’m going to jam all the signals,” Daryl comments.
I grab his wrist, effectively halting him, “don’t. That’ll only alarm him.” I try to think about a battle strategy, a way to get this done with no casualties. “Okay, first the police, make them aware. Then shut off all fire escape security camera’s, and lock down the basement and any other exits. The only way in will be from the front and only for the police.” I drill off.
“Knew you had some brains in you,” Daryl attempts to joke.
I smile softly, “shut the camera off in here too. I need you to stay here; watch for the police and for Simon. Where do you think he is?”
“Wow, stay here. Julia, you aren’t going out there alone!” He exclaims.
I release my hold on the table, “I have too. Just trust me, text me if you see him move. My phone’s on vibrate.” Then two thoughts come to me, “I’m going to contact Dyson and I think I know where he is…” I pause, “can you check the footage for the basement?”
Daryl begins doing as I asked, “it’s jammed. Can’t get in.”
“Mother fucker’s down there. It’s the perfect place, untraceable and easy access!” It’s so obvious, I’ve just been wasting time. “Okay, I’m going to go down. Police will be here soon, make sure you keep watch and if possible cover my movements. You’ll need to block off the camera’s up here for at least twenty seconds, and the elevator until level two, from there I’ll take the service stairs down to the basement.” I mentally calculate my actions.
Daryl takes hold of my arm, “this is crazy, Julia! The man is a complete loon… Just wait for the cops,” he pleads.
“I need to find him, Daryl. Please… Just, have my back, yeah. Don’t forget the camera’s.” I squeeze his hand and he releases me reluctantly. I walk to the door and stop, “remember; twenty seconds to the elevator and then forty down, freeze the image. Text me when you’re good.” I don’t wait for his response.
Stepping outside the room, I remain out of the camera’s line of vision. My phone buzzes in my back pocket and I run towards the elevator. The doors are already open when I reach the shaft, I mentally thank Daryl for thinking in advance. Once I’m inside, I press the second floor. My phone buzzes once more, I pull it out and scan the screen.
[Police a few minutes away. All exits locked and stairwell camera’s frozen]— Daryl
I quickly shoot a text over to Dyson, while counting down the seconds. The metal cage opens and with moves so stealthy— even I’m in shock– I slip around and push into the fire escape. Breathing a sigh of relief, I take a moment to catch my breath. I look around for the camera and find the device switched off. Three flights of stairs and I should be down in the basement. My phone buzzes again and I quickly pull it out.
[Don’t move. He’s in the lobby.]— Daryl
Fuck. After a moment there’s another text.
[Get out of the fire escape, he’s coming up! Hide.]— Daryl
Automatically, I push through the large doors and enter the second floor, slipping into the closest office I hide behind the desk. Texting Daryl back, I ask him where Simon’s going.
[He’s coming up. Level 4 now.]— Daryl
Another one buzzes through just as I finish reading.
[He’s on to us! He’s coming up here, go down to the basement. The fucker’s in the elevator. I’m going to try and shut down the lifts.]— Daryl
I wait for one beat, before moving out from behind the desk and rushing back down to the service stairs. Racing down them, I block out everything, not at all mindful of the noise coming from my shoes. I pray Daryl is able to contain him just until the police arrive. Within minutes I find myself in front of the door to the basement. Without thinking, I push through.
The space is almost completely dark. Flickering lights, guide me towards a caged room towards the end of the basement parking space. My steps falter as I approach the metal. Shivers travel up and down my nerves, all I can hear is my breath and the sound of my heels. Fuck, fuck, fuck! Then my foot catches, as a reflex I reach out and grab onto the cage. Catching myself, I look down.
Choking back the scream in my throat, I look down at a tainted crowbar. My eyes zero in on the drops of blood leaking around it, following the path it creates, I realise I’ve walked into my own worst nightmare.
The smell hits me first. A metallic tinge coating the air. Then I see red. Everywhere. Dark, blood leads me to a slumped figure. My knees weaken as I drop to the ground and cup the unconscious man’s face.
Looking him over, I find several wounds. Taking off my jacket, I pull at my shirt. Scanning the room, I find rope and wire. Tearing my shirt into four pieces, I work to stop Red’s bleeding. Then I lay him down and tighten the pieces of clothing to his body with the rope and wire. Nervously, I bring my shaky hands up to his neck. Placing two fingers on his pulse, I beg for a heartbeat. At the same time, I lean down and listen.
Please be breathing…