Chapter Thirty: The Armani Revelation.
Andy awoke in the Praeses Locus the next morning having only had about 20 minutes sleep. He rolled over and woke up his Papa who he had asked to sleep next to for comfort the night before.
“Morning son,” he smiled.
He was so proud of what his son had been able to put up with and live through during the past couple of days, but could tell that it was definitely wearing on him.
“So how much sleep did you get?”
“About twenty minutes,” Andy answered.
“Twenty minutes!” Micah replied shocked. “Son go back to sleep, I’ll get everyone ready.”
“No Papa, I need to get up. But tonight, I am not coming back here without Jay and I mean it.”
He was sick of everyone telling him to ignore his instincts and return to the hotel every night and today that ended.
“Good for you soon, what is it I always taught you? Keep hope alive.”
“No Papa,” Andy disagreed. “I mean it. If we don’t find Jay at the warehouse today I am sleeping there. I don’t care what anyone else says. I’m done walking away because it’s night time. Done.”
With that Andy gave his father a quick kiss on the cheek and raced off for a shower. While the water washed over him he thought long and hard about what would happen today and knew he would sit everyone down and tell them all everything. They would now have all hands on deck including Debbie, Carmita and Edward and no one would be leaving their post until they found Jay. Enough was enough.
Micah got up quickly and raced downstairs thrilled to see everyone in the dining room already.
“How is he?” Lauren asked fearing the worst.
“Ok everyone listen up,” Micah called out over the buzzing noise of everyone in the room. “A little warning, Andy is coming down in a moment and don’t underestimate it, he is pissed.”
He motioned for everyone to take a seat.
“Expect to go out there today every single one of you and expect to stay at the warehouse all night long if the job doesn’t finish. Ok,” he sighed. “At least you’ve been warned.”
And he took a seat.
“Can someone pass me some coffee? I think we’re all going to need it today.”
As Andy got out of the shower he heard his cell vibrate and instantly rushed over to check it. The number was the same one the anonymous person had used a few days ago and Andy prepared himself for the worst as he opened it up.
Fee fi fo fum, little by little you’ll be down to no one. Find him tonight because it’s the end. Fail to do so and it’s bye-bye boyfriend. I know that you know exactly where we are. Come on now, don’t lie, I’ve seen you from afar. Ben and Mel have seen what I can do but you better hope I never catch you.
Andy knew his tormentor meant to instill fear in him but if anything he had raised quite a huge amount of hope instead. If this message was indeed correct that Jay was still alive that was all that mattered. Finding him tonight, well that was for sure. There was no way Andy wouldn’t find Jay in the next 24 hours and if worse came to worse he would drive out and buy a bomb for Lauren to use. No matter what he was getting into that building today and he was coming out with his partner.
Moments later Andy raced into the dining area preparing to scream if he had to, to make his voice heard. But the moment he walked in a hush came over everyone. Every single person left was sitting around the table almost sitting at attention as he walked up to it. For a moment Andy considered thanking everyone for being so prompt and ready, but he also knew any time taken was more time wasted and so he plowed right into it.
“Ok guys first things first I know this sounds harsh, but anyone here who is not prepared to stay at that warehouse until we find all three of them leave now. I need everyone on board and if anyone thinks we’re going to come back again and sleep while they’re still out there I don’t want them on my team ok?”
No one made a noise nor a single movement.
“Ok,” Andy continued. “Today we are all going out there. Every single one of us. Carmita, Debbie, Edward this includes you guys too. We are greater in numbers then we are with just the 6 ok?”
Again no one said a word and Andy was really happy about that.
“Ok, so I’m going to divide everyone into pairs which will create four groups. Each group will have full responsibility for a co-ordinate of the warehouse field. One will be the north group, which will be myself and Rein.”
Instantly Rein got up out of her chair.
“I’ll pour coffees for everyone while you assign the rest of the groups,” she smiled glad that he was finally choosing her.
“Ok Team Two will be Jenny and Debbie. I know how fiercely you two work together ladies I’ve seen it. You’re taking the west co-ordinate.”
“No problems,” Debbie smiled and quickly got up out of her chair.
Jenny walked over to Rein and took two cups from her.
“Thank you dear,” she said.
“Ok,” Andy went on. “The third group will be Micah and Carmita; you guys will take the south co-ordinate.”
“On it,” Micah smiled racing over to get their coffees.
“On it,” Carmita imitated Micah.
Though she had no idea who she would have paired people up with to be honest she would have preferred almost anyone else. But at least she didn’t get Debbie.
Thank god, she thought to herself. God can only imagine her warehouse list. Carmita get a pine cone, Carmita get some leaves. Oh, Carmita…Bark!
“Which leaves,” Andy continued, pulling her out of that moment. “Lauren and Edward, you guys will take the west co-ordinate.”
“Happy to help,” Edward replied.
“No problems,” Lauren answered.
“Ok for the newbie’s,” Andy went on. “We keep our phones on vibrate as we don’t want to attract anyone we don’t need to. Also…” he started, but everyone else was too busy grabbing their phones and turning them to vibrate. When they were done they all looked back at him in turn.
“Well?” Carmita started. “What else?”
“Yeah honey you’re on a roll,” Debbie agreed. “Don’t stop now.”
“Thanks guys,” Andy acknowledged. “Ok now I’m going to give you all 5 minutes to grab whatever you think you may need to stay a few nights. But remember don’t grab anything that won’t fit in a back pack. Only the essentials, I’m talking…”
But everyone dispersed immediately to grab a luxury item or two.
“Towels! Blankets! Whatever y-” he yelled out following them, but stopped once he got into the foyer noticing customers either at the desk or sitting in chairs.
“Oh,” Andy stopped surprised. “Ah, hi. Good morning everyone.”
“Going on an exhibition today are we dear?” an elderly lady nearby asked.
“Something like that,” Andy smiled not daring to say much else.
Exactly five minutes later Edward was the last to return and everyone headed out to their cars.
“Ok guys, don’t wait for anyone,” Andy called out. “You have your co-ordinates so when you get there just get started and thank you all for doing this.”
A spatter or half-awake ‘you’re welcome’s’ later and everyone was seated in their pairs in cars and on their way back to the warehouse for what Andy sincerely hoped would be the last time.
Meanwhile Mel slowly woke up from a very weird dream that she’d been having. She’d dreamt that along with Andy she had gone to Salem the one place she thought B would never be able to follow them. But once there some weird woman in a diner they had stopped at started pointing at Andy and screaming ‘witch, wiiiitch!’ and Andy had been taken away in cuffs. At the time Mel had thought that it was an elaborate hoax and had followed the men outside only to find them attaching him to a pyre and preparing to set it alight. For all the screaming Mel had done to say it was the 21st century and that witches were no longer burned at the stake the pyre was lit and just as Andy started screaming Mel had woken up.
But where was she? She looked around uneasily noticing walls on either side of her that appeared to be green. As she made to move towards them she noticed two things. For one, she was standing which was weird as she had never recalled sleeping while she stood and for another.
“Ow!” she screamed out in pain as the rest of her body moved forward but her arms kept her back.
Looking upwards Mel noticed that her hands had been bound to chains that were linked to the ceiling. Then it all re-hit her.
Being captured and taken into the warehouse by someone though she couldn’t quite remember who. Then she remembered that Rein had been with her and frantically looked around.
“Rein! Rein are you here?!” she cried out desperately.
But there was no answer it seemed that no one else was in the room and that mel was completely alone.
Suddenly a blinding trickle of yellow light hit her eyes and she needed to take a few moments to adjust her vision.
“Who are you?!” she cried. “What do you want with me?”
But again there was no answer. Instead once her vision was righted, she noticed a screen monitor to the left of her with words on it that she could only just make out.
Mel – As a lawyer you understand just how critical our choices are and also the consequences that come with making them. I have removed you from everyone else because you were getting too close to working out who I was when you found a certain note in a certain pocket.
“So if I’d just left the damn thing in there you wouldn’t have done this to me?!” she yelled out hoping her captors could hear her.
“What about Jay huh? What about Ben? What did they do to deserve…whatever you’ve done to them?”
Mel thought for a moment and realized that there was someone else missing, someone that no one had realized.
“And what about Rick?!? You got him too didn’t you? Didn’t you?!?” she yelled, her words echoing around the vast room.
The words on the monitor vanished and were no replaced with new words, however unlike last time they didn’t all appear at once. Now she noticed they were appearing one letter at a time as though someone was listening to her and typing a response that she could read.
I wouldn’t worry so much about the others. I would be more concerned with your own life.
“Yeah? Well I’m not selfish like you bitch!” she retorted.
Instantly new words started forming on the screen.
Really? So you’ve never put your needs ahead of others huh? Does the name Rottmire mean anything to you?
It did. 15 years ago when Mel was first starting out as an attorney she had a client whose surname was Rottmire. Ms Rottmire had been an abuse victim to her former husband and had sued for sole custody of their two children. Her boss at the time, a very selfish man had heard word of Mr Rottmire offering the firm a six-figure donation to make this go away and the greedy man wanted the money. Mel had originally said no, however her boss sweetened the deal offering her a quarter of it to purposefully lose. Mel had struggled with her decision but then purposefully flunked the case for the cash. A choice she grew to regret to this very day.
But now she had not time to focus on that as new words scrolled onto the monitor.
I see I have your attention at last. Well Mel as a lawyer you should know that sometimes in life things work out the way we expect them to. Yet often times what happens to us comes down to a lot of good luck. Your luck will be tested within the next 24 hours. If you are lucky, you will be rescued. However if you are not rescued within the next 24 hours your life will be over.
“What?!” she yelled out. “I don’t get it, what do you mean?”
But there was no answer. The only change now was the screen going blank. No more writing, no more words, nothing.
“Answer me!” Mel demanded.
But only silence filled the room.
“Don’t worry Rein we will find them,” Andy said placing a comforting hand on her shoulder as she drove back towards the warehouse.
Despite the fact that it wasn’t a long drive in reality it had certainly felt like one. The chipper Rein from earlier seemed to have faded away by now and was replaced with one that seemed very worried.
“Thanks Andy,” Rein replied. “But it’s not that.”
Suddenly Rein swerved off the road and parked looking quite seriously at Andy. The brown haired man was quite surprised at this but noticing Rein was about to explode allowed her to continue.
“What is it?” he asked. “You know you can tell me anything Rein.”
“I know,” she replied. “And I will it’s just…hard to begin.”
If anything this worried Andy even more, but he impatiently waited for her to go on.
“I…saw…Mel’s captor,” she said very softly.
“You did?” Andy couldn’t help but reply shocked. “Who was it? Do we know them?”
“No,” Rein replied. “I mean, I don’t anyway I’ve never met him.”
“Him?” Andy questioned “Describe him to me Rein.”
“Ok,” she begun. “He was roughly 6ft1, skinny though toned…” she recalled trying to recall all the details.
“Oh!” she piped up after a moment. “He was wearing a suit!”
“A suit?” Andy questioned.
“Yeah,” Rein replied. “A really nice suit. I remember because it was really weird seeing this guy at the warehouse with a gun in a suit that looked really expensive. So expensive I was sure it was-”
“Armani,” Andy replied stiffly, his jaw locking as he looked out through the windshield.
“Yes!” Rein squealed. “Exactly! I think I remember seeing it in last fall’s…wait, how did you…?”
She didn’t need to go any further and feared doing so as she saw Andy’s eyes narrow to slits.
“Did he have short brown hair? Lightly tanned skin? Brown eyes and a look that screamed screw you I’ll always be superior?”
“Yes, yes, yes and yes!” Rein squealed. “Do you know him?”
“Know him?” Andy asked. “Rein, I loathe him! And as you know I don’t use that word often.”
“Oh my god,” Rein gasped clasping her hands over her mouth. “It’s him isn’t it? The one you ran from.”
“Rein, start the car,” Andy said stiffly.
“But Andy, don’t you think-” she started but Andy cut her off.
“Rein Now!” Andy growled.
Rein had never heard Andy raise his voice at her; frightened she turned the key in the ignition and got back onto the road.
“I knew I couldn’t trust anyone!” Andy spat as Rein sped off down the road.
Ben meanwhile was exhausted. The room he had entered after leaving the gas chamber had locked doors on each surrounding wall. There had been no way out and scream all he might there came no reply whatsoever. What had struck him once he had calmed down was just how nice this room was. Purple and gold carpeted floors and two beautifully white chaise lounges faced each other on either side of a black coffee table in the centre. On the table sat a bowl with a selection of fruit. After screaming himself hoarse Ben retired to one of the chaise lounges and had started consuming the fruit. He had begun to wonder how long he had been in this maze.
With no natural light coming in from the outside and no watch or phone on him he had no idea. Eventually tired out he had drifted off to sleep, but now something had woken him.
Sitting up with a start, Ben looked around. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, well not that he knew of anyway. Nothing had changed since he had first arrived had it?
But then he noticed it, up ahead the locked door in front of him had now opened. But then, so had the one to his left and his right. Ben whirled around for any sign of someone entering. With nothing else in the room aside from the chaise lounges there was absolutely no way anyone could have hidden in the room so he picked himself up and took a peek through the door to his left.
He couldn’t see anything it was pitch black. Not that Ben was surprised, actually nothing surprised him at this stage. He walked over to the door on the right and was heavily disappointed to see nothing there but a brick wall.
“Stupid idea,” Ben grumbled to himself. “What idiot would have a door that opens to a wall?”
He then proceeded to the open door infront of him. At last he spied something, a black curtain that seemed to part in the middle. Leaving the room Ben took a step towards the curtain. But before he could open it the door behind him slammed shut with a bang.
Ben jumped not expecting that to happen but steadied himself quickly and opened the curtain.
“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” came a scream from out of nowhere as three things happened at once.
A green light lit the room and unlike the last one this one looked like one straight out of a horror movie. The floors were damp with water and the sound of a huge chain saw could be heard. Then Ben’s heart went cold as he looked towards the sound of the chainsaw and saw a petrified woman standing underneath it her hands cuffed and chained to the ceiling.
But was it? Ben couldn’t quite tell if he was right and he hurried along before.
“Arrrghhhhhhhhh!” he screamed as his left foot stepped right into a bear trap.
The pain was absolutely excruciating and blood was now seeping out of his left calf. Without thinking Ben reached down and somehow, most likely through adrenaline wrenched the trap open and lifted his bloody leg out of it as the trap shut loudly though it seemed silent in comparison to the chainsaw and the screaming woman.
Ben hobbled over and true to his thoughts he realized who it was.
“Mel!” he screamed out.
“Whose that?!” she screamed back. “I can’t see you with the light!”
Indeed amidst the green light there seemed to be a single white spotlight pointed directly at Mel it was no wonder she couldn’t see him.
“It’s me, Ben!” he screamed back.
“Ben!” Mel cried. “You have to help me out of here!”
“I’m coming!” he yelled as he carefully hobbled over to her.
Once he reached her side as though activating a switch the chainsaw stopped leaving only the sound of Mel’s screaming which stopped shortly after.
“I don’t know what to do!” Ben unnecessarily yelled glancing around wildly for any sign of anything that would help her.
“Just keep looking!” she screamed back. “They said someone might come and rescue me, there’s got to be something here!”
Just then the monitor to Mel’s right started typing out words.
“Ben!” Mel screamed as he started hobbling back to where he was. “The monitor!”
She tried to point her entire arm momentarily forgetting that it was cuffed and simply settled for pointing to it. Ben hobbled back and by now was in so much pain that it took him a while to get there. When he finally got to Mel’s side he turned to read their torturer’s next set of instructions.
Congratulations on making it this far Ben.
But nothing else appeared.
“And?!?” he screamed. “I’m not going to take a bow, tell me how to save her damn it!”
Mel was taken a little aback it wasn’t often that she had heard him talk like this but she was extremely grateful.
Please await further instructions.
“What?!?” Ben screamed. “Fuck you, you fucking B-”
“Ben stop!” Mel said. “It won’t do any good. We both know that by now.”
As much as he wanted to keep screaming obscenities he knew she was right and so he stopped yelling and took a seat next to where she was standing to examine his leg.
“What’d you do there?” she asked horrified.
“Ran into a bear trap right over there,” he pointed to the other side of the room.
“And you managed to pry it open?” she asked shocked.
“Yeah why?” he asked taking of his tshirt and ripping off some of the material.
“Because they say it’s impossible for any human to do!” she replied.
“Maybe I’m not human then,” Ben replied shortly.
“Obviously if you’ve survived this hell hole this long,” Mel replied.
Ben couldn’t help but chuckle and Mel joined in.
“By the way,” she added. “I know who put me here.”
She glared off into space as though imagining her captor and giving off an if-looks–could-kill glare.
“Oh yeah?” Ben panted tightening the material from his tshirt around his leg. “Who?”
Not too far away from that room Micah and Carmita were still walking around. They had found absolutely nothing and were now onto looking for any signs of entry even having texted other to do the same.
“Anything?” Carmita asked as she approached a corner Micah had turned into.
“Not a thing!” Micah replied exasperated. “How the heck does this guy get in?”
Suddenly Carmita eyes filled with heavy tears.
“Oh Carmita,” Micah said giving her a hug. “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to yell at you.”
“What?” Carmita asked, still teary-eyed but pulling out of the hug. “You think I’m crying over what you said?!? Sweetheart I love you, but you’re a fly, you couldn’t hurt me if you tried.”
“Oh,” Micah replied, a tad offended by the ‘fly’ remark but happy nonetheless that it wasn’t he who caused the tears.
He lead Carmita over to some big sitting rocks that were conveniently located nearby. Gratefully Carmita sat.
“Carmita, what’s going on?” Micah asked lightly. “You can tell me, this fly is very good at keeping secrets.”
For a moment Carmita didn’t answer.
“Really, Buzz, buzz.” Micah tried, imitating a fly.
“Bees buzz,” Carmita said before chuckling slightly.
Micah, always the helpful one reached into his pocket and pulled out a fresh handkerchief handing it to the distressed Latina.
“Thank you,” she replied taking the cloth and wiping her eyes.
“It’s been a tough week as you know,” she started. “What with Jay going missing and running around the shops looking for such stupid items.”
She paused looking across at him squinting her eyes.
“I mean I ask you, who uses Jonkanoo Sauce and what the heck is Ketsup?”
Micah couldn’t help but laugh at her sudden change in tone. Skepticism looked good on Carmita.
“My mother,” he sighed. “Wearing you out is she?”
“S-she…th-th-that…” Carmita stuttered before putting on a fake tone “…lovely woman is your mother?”
“Yep,” Micah replied. “Believe me after all this time I can understand how you’d go crazy with her even just one day.”
Carmita chuckled again.
“No,” she continued. “It’s not Debbie, it’s just everything is getting to me and n-n-n-now…”
She couldn’t bear to say what she knew she had to.
“…now?” Micah questioned encouragingly.
“W-w-well…” she took a deep breath. “Um, Rick’s…”
But she couldn’t do it and a flood of tears streamed down her face once more. Through the crying she grabbed her phone and somehow through the haze of tears managed to find the text and showed Micah.
“Woah!” he replied noting the graphic content of the photo.
Then he realized who it was.
“Oh my god!” he screamed. “Carmita, are you kidding me? That’s Rick and Jay!”
But Carmita wasn’t fazed by his response and just kept crying.
“R-r-r-read the text below it,” she managed to say.
Micah did and his heart sunk.
“S-s-so, that’s it?” he asked going white as a sheet. “Rick’s dead?”
Then he too started crying.
What they didn’t know however was that 2 walls away inside the warehouse Rick was watching and listening to every word they said in a video surveillance room. As he saw Micah break down his face turned into a smile.
“You were right,” he said to someone behind him. “Evil does have more fun.”