This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
The last thing he remembered was lying down in bed with his wife, Corey, who was also his boss. They had made love just prior to her falling asleep. Their two children were spending the night at the home of her uncle and aunt in Shrewsbury, so there had been no worries of being disturbed. When she fell asleep, he had gone downstairs to fix himself a warm glass of milk.
He thought he heard a noise behind him. Simultaneously he heard a woman’s urgent voice. The voice was familiar; one he had learned to trust over the years. But it wasn’t the voice of his beloved wife. Behind you!
He swiftly turned around, prepared to defend himself and his family. And then....
“And then...” what? What happened?
He had been here for days. He knew that much. He was naked except for the tattered remnants of a robe and a pair of briefs. At least his captors allowed him the dignity of being partially covered.
The throbbing of the many bruises all over him beat a counterpoint to that of his head. He was dirty and had more than a few days’ worth of growth on his face.
He was also sweaty. The room felt muggy and stuffy. The air almost stale. He could feel his sweat seep into the many unhealed cuts he had received. Stinging. Some of the cuts, he knew, were just short of being fatal. But not by much.
His captors wanted him alive for some reason. He thought he knew, but in his muddled brain he could not remember why. It was obvious, he was being tortured for some kind of information. He wondered what.
He looked at his surroundings. He was in a basement of some kind. It almost seemed familiar. The little light that barely lit the room, came from a small window above his head.
He went to adjust himself into a more comfortable position when he discovered he could not move his arms. That’s when he noticed his arms were secured above his head. Each wrist bound by a separate chain coming out of the wall. In vain, he tried to jerk free until his wrists started to bleed. Adding to the days old dried up blood already running down his arms.
Where’s Jasmine? he thought. Jasmine? Who’s Jasmine? He didn’t know. The name somehow seemed familiar. Important.
An image of a woman came unbidden to his mind. She was Indian. Not the Native American Indian, but from the sub-continent of India. She was a beautiful woman dressed in the style of the Victorian-era. He wasn’t sure, but he thought it was natural for her to be dressed in such an antiquated manner.
Just as he thought he remembered who the strangely dressed woman was, the thought drifted out of his reach. It lost itself in the currents of his swirling mind of half remembered thoughts.
His mind drifted that way for countless minutes. Each time he thought he recognized something, he reached out eagerly for it; as if he were a man in the desert searching for a way to slake his thirst. As before, the memories flitted away from his grasp. A butterfly flitting away on a gentle summer’s breeze to disappear from view.
He was able to grasp at one such memory, and hold on to it. It seemed important. At that moment it was the most important thing in his life. A life preserver in the torrential sea of swirling memories that threatened to pull away with each angry surge.
It was a memory of a woman. Different from that of the other woman. What other woman? He wasn’t sure. For a moment he thought he remembered another woman. But his addled brain could barely hold on to the one he now grasped.
In the memory he desperately clung to, the woman was five feet, nine inches tall. She had military length dark brown hair, short enough to fit under a flying helmet, brown eyes, medium brown tanned skin, and very fit while weighing around one hundred forty-five lbs. She appeared to be younger than him. Somehow, he knew that she was only a few years older. How do I know that? How old am I? Who am I? Who is she?
As if in answer another memory floated by. He snatched at it and held onto it, just as he did with the first. Once again, he nearly lost hold of the original memory of the woman. The new memory was of the same woman. She was in an office of some kind. She was dressed crisply in a military style uniform. In her hands, she held towards him a worn book. “Sign it ’To Corey’--,” the woman said in an almost familiar voice.
He reached for the memory of the book, eagerly. It would give him a clue as to who he was. Just as his hand touched the book, however, the memory faded. He let out a scream of frustration.
He came across another memory involving this woman. For some reason, it involved an old plane set in the middle of a field. Then he lost it.
Corey. That was her name. Somehow, he knew Corey was the name of the woman whose memory he still clutched.
He had to get back to her. Had to get back to Corey.
The man had been searching for days. Standing six feet, one-inch-tall, his normally immaculate dark hair, with the beginnings of grey showing at the temples, was disheveled and needed the hand of a barber. And he needed a shave. His plain suit, showing evidence of long use and travel wear, was expensive in cut. Slim of build, but well-toned, the man checked into the hotel provided for him by his employer, and went up to his room.
He carelessly tossed his valise and briefcase onto the four-poster, king-sized bed. His only other luggage was the nondescript case which contained his laptop. This he set carefully on the polished oak table that was surrounded by four matching chairs.
He had spent most of the day searching for the whereabouts of his missing quarry. As before, he had found no signs of him. But then again, the city was large and he had not really expected to find his missing person right away. He had hoped to put an end to his long search.
He glanced at his watch. Time to check in, he thought as he absently lit up a cigarette. He pulled out his cell phone and hit the speed dial as he sat down on the bed.
“Yes?” a melodic female British voice answered immediately.
“It’s me,” he said in his low, fairly deep, very cultured voice, with an accent that clearly showed he was British Upper Class.
“Have you found him?”
“No, Ma’am,” he replied for what seemed like the umpteenth time since he began this assignment.
“How close are you to finding him?”
“I’m not sure,” he answered reluctantly. “This is the last place left that we know of, that he has been to.”
“Are you certain?”
“Yes, Ma’am. I am. I’ve already been to the other places.”
The silence on the other end lasted so long, he thought he might have lost the signal.
“Ma’am?” he asked. “Are you still there?”
“Yes,” the voice replied in what sounded to his ears like a sob. “I’m here. I was just thinking, is all.”
Another brief pause.
“You must find him,” she continued. “You know how important he is to m… to all of us.”
“I understand, Ma’am,” he said his voice catching. “He’s important to me as well.”
“Thank you, Commander,” she said in a not quite shaky voice. “Was there anything else?”
“Just one thing,” he said reluctantly. “Is there a possibility he might have gone rogue?”
He got up and began pacing. He already knew the answer before he gave the question. He just needed to hear it from her.
“I refuse to believe that, Commander,” she replied, the cold, iron hardness in her voice coming through clearly. “Not of him. I was there the day he took the Oath. In fact, I’m the one who administered it.
“You didn’t see his face,” she went on more quietly in remembrance, “nor hear his voice as he swore. There was this look and feel about him; it was a feeling of confidence, strength of purpose, and what could only be described as reverence, exuding from him with each word. By the time he had finished, I wanted to break down and cry; I had never been so moved before in my entire life. It made me proud to know there were people like him still in the world after all that had happened; and I felt a shame within me knowing I didn’t share the qualities he possessed that day. It still shames me to admit that I feel I still don’t; even after all this time.
“So, in answer to your question, Commander,” she went on with quiet conviction. “No, I do not think he, of all people, would turn rogue. The day I believe it, will be the day I resign, find a secluded convent somewhere and become a nun.
“Does that answer your question, Commander?” she asked in a more normal voice.
“What about you? Do you believe he went rogue?”
“No, ma’am,” he answered with a combination of shock and insult in his voice.
“I know you don’t,” she said calmly. “And I know you asked me because you were doing your job thoroughly. It’s the reason why I assigned you and your team for this job. All of you are trustworthy and know him best. I have the utmost confidence in you, Commander.”
“Thank you, Ma’am.”
She must have sensed the hesitation in his voice.
“What is it Commander?”
“Does anyone suspect anything about his disappearance?”
“No,” she answered with a wry chuckle. “Everyone here is under the impression he is on one of those missions that will add to his already huge, living legend status.”
The man chuckled, “Well, he is a legend.”
“I know,” she replied, a hint of a smile in her voice. “He’s also one of our best, if not the best, operatives we have on staff. All the more reason he has to be found.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll find him. One way or another.”
“I know you will, Commander,” she said with a sigh. “When you do find him, please pass a message on to him for me.”
“Of course, Ma’am.”
“Tell him his family loves him and needs him to come home.”
“I’ll make sure to pass that on, ma’am.”
“There is one other thing you must tell him, if nothing else, Commander.”
“Yes, Ma’am?” the man asked after a slight pause when she didn’t go on. “What would the message be?”
“‘Uxbridge’,” she said finally, almost faintly.
“Yes, Commander,” she said more strongly and clearly. “‘Uxbridge’.”
“Got it, ‘Uxbridge’,” the man confirmed. “I’ll make sure he gets that message above all.”
“Right, then Commander,” she said briskly. “Check back with me in twelve hours. Sooner if you find him. Good luck.”
Just like that, she ended the conversation and the man heard the distinct click of the call being terminated.
He held the now silent phone in his hand, contemplating the phone conversation for a moment before he placed it back on his belt. He, then, went back to the bed and sat down, pushing aside the valise. He sat considering the briefcase for a moment before pulling it to him. He had been given strict orders to give the contents of the briefcase to his quarry, once it was determined he was alive and well.
With a sigh, he worked the built in combination lock, providing the proper sequence and opened the briefcase. Inside was a hardback book, several composition book-sized journals and a simple jewelry box that fit in the palm of his hand.
He pulled out the box first and examined it before opening it. Inside was a necklace. The necklace, itself, was simply made. The simple, plain beads, once shiny in their various colors, were now dull and lifeless in appearance. They were placed to emphasize the tiger claw, also dull. Its luster having long since faded with time. The necklace was an antique and a prized family heirloom. The man, as he held it, almost thought he heard a female’s voice. One filled with worry and loss.
Setting the necklace carefully aside, he pulled out the hardback book. It was much battered and obviously well read. He could just make out the title of the book and its author. “The Adventures of Sir Roger and Lady Jasmine Bixby, by William Anthony Nall”. On the back jacket of the book was a head shot of the author. It showed the face of a man of Anglo-Indian descent, roughly twenty-five years of age. The eyes in the picture were almost piercing as they gazed at the viewer, but also showed an intelligence that few could match. He opened the front cover and read the simple note scribbled on the first blank page. “To Corey” and it was signed simply with the initials “RBP”.
Closing the book, he placed it back inside the briefcase and carefully set the necklace on top of the book. He then reached for the journals. He had been through them several times already, since the start of this assignment, looking for clues as to the possible whereabouts of the owner of these items.
The journals, for the past several days, had been his guide, taking him, step-by-step, to each place named, hoping to find his elusive prey. Now, he was in the last place mentioned. Well at least in the same city.
He glanced at his watch again. The remaining three members, with an additional possible fourth, of his team wouldn’t be arriving for another six hours. They had orders to meet him here if they hadn’t heard of his success before then. He was going to need their help again. All of them.
All of the absent team members had gone through Basic with the missing person, who was the team’s true leader. The three members, the man was positive would arrive, had been with the missing man in their early days of training, gaining well deserved attention when the training assignment they had been given had gone terribly wrong.
Each in their own way gained the admiration of their peers and superiors. But it was their leader’s star who shone the brightest. The others were seen as the support mechanism behind much of the subject’s success. Not one to stand in the limelight by himself, the missing team leader always shared his success with his teammates. In fact, he was quite reluctant to be seen in said limelight. But knowing he had become a symbol personified throughout the Organization, he graciously and humbly accepted the laurels offered him. It was his way. A way that has added to his legendary status.
Knowing he had plenty of time, the man closed the briefcase, leaving the journals on the bed. He set the valise and briefcase on the floor, kicked off his shoes and picked up the first journal.
Inside of the journal, as he opened it, were several folded sheets of paper, carefully attached to the inside cover. He unfolded the papers. The topmost was dated June 12, 1999. Reading over the papers he saw, once again, the now familiar brief sketch of the missing man, his lineage and some comments about him. All of which he had long since committed to memory.
After reading the pages, he carefully folded them back into place and turned over the first page of the journal.He began to read from the beginning, again.
Usagi Kita: This story is emotional from beginning to end. You get to watch the characters struggle and grow, maturing in different ways so that they come to be the people they are meant to be. Inea is insanely adorable, and his antics made me laugh more than once, and Kaedon is perfect for him in so many wa...
Lauren Suzmeyan-Raine: I'm so glad you found a place to post your stories. I was horrified when I saw yours had been taken down, they are definitely the best 'reading' stories I've ever read. And I've made it my business to read every one I can. Well done.Lauren
Hawkebat: Playing both Kotor I & II and Swtor I found the story line interesting and it held me until chapter 35 Very good story and plot flow until then, very few technical errors. I felt that the main character was a bit under and over powered, as it fought for balance. The last few chapters felt too f...
ernbelle: When I first started this story I was a little unsettled by all of the information that appears in the prologue, and wasn't sure if I would continue. However, I am very glad I did. The plot was very well thought out and really interesting. There were not any page breaks or markers to acknowledge ...
Alex Rushmer: This was not what I expected, but I enjoyed it a lot Malfoy was always one of the characters that I liked a lot, so I like that a lot of this happens between him and Colette. I read the first couple chapters, and I enjoyed your writing style and am excited to see where you take this story. My com...
PaulSenkel: If you like Arthur C. Clarke's Odyssey, especially The Final Odyssey, then you will probably also enjoy this book. I definitely did.It does, however, address a more adolescent public than the above-mentioned book.I enjoyed the story and finished it in a few days. The overall situation on earth an...
CookieMonster911: The story overall was an adventure that is appealing to any age. The way the characters develop adds a more human characteristic to the novel. The writing style itself is amazing because you can learn every character's thoughts and emotions. The awkward love triangle and jerk moments adds to the ...
FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"
Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."