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Thursday, November 15, 2012

It's Thursday already and our story continues...











Chapter Twenty-One ~

    Jacob Walsh sat in his hotel room watching the video his thug sent him. He would memorize every feature of every person on the video, and then he would delete it. His thug hadn't been able to keep up with them, he’d lost them somewhere near Provo.

     Jacob shot the imbecile where he stood and took his camcorder and phone. He would have to take care of this himself. He would get that flash drive back, and what was on it would provide him with the ability to infect whole cities with a virus able to wipe-out every living soul within a few days. He laughed gleefully and shoved the camcorder into his front pocket. His last thought before walking out the door was how nice it would be if Jackson brought it to him himself. He closed the door and walked out of his office at the Special Forces Unit.

                                              ***

    Otis Anderson woke-up out of a dead sleep, his wrinkled hand automatically clutching his Sig-Saur pistol. He heard someone moving stealthily around in his kitchen, and they were getting closer with each breath he took. Although he wasn't as agile as he used to be, he still managed to be out of the bed and hiding behind the door when it slammed open. He stifled the urge to grunt in pain, and stood motionless as several psft, psft noises hissed toward the bed he’d just vacated. Twin holes appeared in his covers as the man advanced into the room toward the empty bed. He reached down and pulled the covers back, seeing it was empty.

    Otis walked quietly up behind him and pecked him on the shoulder. When he turned around in surprise, Otis stood there with his pistol pointed toward the mask-covered head of the intruder. "Very slowly, throw the gun down, son. You don't want me to end you here and now, do you?"

    "Who are you? I thought you were just some nosy old man."

    "I'm just about your worst nightmare, excepting God that is." He'd managed his objective, which was to hear the man's voice.

     He raised the butt of his gun and wacked the guy on the head. He trussed him up like a Christmas turkey and shoved him into the same pantry Amy Petersen had vacated just hours before.

     He searched the man's pockets and found his phone. He flipped it open and went to the text messages. The last one was his address. Otis sent one back that said, 'objective complete' and shut the phone before shoving it into his baggy pajama pants and heading out the door. He pulled a device out of his pocket and looked at the little red flashing dot on the screen. He knew exactly where she was.

                                             ***

    The next morning Jude got up early and went out back to pray. He spent an amazing hour alone with God, pouring out his heart and soul to the only one who really knew him.

    Jackson Masters came out just as Jude stood up. "What in the world are you doing out here on your knees?"

    "I was praying, man. I do this every morning. It makes my day go by so much better if I start and end it with God, especially when He's everywhere in between, too."

    Jackson stopped him with his simple question. "How do you know who you're praying to is actually God?"

    "God puts it in every person's heart to know who He is, man. If God calls you, you'll know it without a doubt. You know it here." He thumped his chest. "Do you have a Bible, man?"

    "No, my mother would’ve had ten cows and a horse if I brought one in her house, and Victoria was an atheist. She didn't believe in God at all."

    Jude shook his head in sympathy and walked out to hid car. He opened the trunk and poked around for a minute before pulling out a thick, black leather-bound book wrapped in plastic. He handed to Jackson without a word.

    Jackson took it in his hands and turned it over and over, trying to get a feel for it.

Jude said, "Man, you gotta open it and read it, you ain't gonna find out anything by osmosis."

    "This is a really big book, Jude. Can't you just tell me the gist of it?" He sounded like a little boy.

    Jude threw his head back and laughed. "I never took you for a lazy person, Jack. Open that book and read it, man. Everything you need to know about God and life is in between the covers." He pulled the trunk lid down and slapped his hands on his suit pants. When he looked up, he was face-to-face with the old man from yesterday who had helped hide Amy.

    "Otis, what are you doing here?" He was trying to stay calm. "And how did you know where we were?"

    "You two need to go on in the house right now." He gestured with his gun toward the front door.

    "You've got to be kidding me." Jackson said in exasperation. "Can this whole thing get any kookier?"

    "Actually, yes it can, and it's fixing to, now go on back in the house. Where are Amy and the kids?"
    Jackson breathed easier at the note of concern in the old man's voice. "Otis, before I take another step I need to know if you're with us, or against us." He planted his feet firmly to the ground.

    "I'm with Amy. That's who I'm here to protect. That's my order." He walked up the steps to the door and went in like he owned the place.

    Jackson and Jude looked at each other questioningly, and did the only thing they could; they followed him in the door.

    Amy was carrying a plate of bacon to the table and just about dropped it when she looked up and saw who was standing there. "Otis, why in the world are you here? Is everything okay? How did you know where I was?"

    "There'll be time for questions later on. Right now I need to talk." He took a seat at the table and pulled a piece of bacon off the stack and popped it in his mouth.

    "The main thing you two men should be focused on right now is that I was able to find you, and if I can find you, so can they."

    "How did you find us?" Amy asked curiously.

    "He probably put a tracker on you before you left his house." Jackson said in disgust. "I guess I was so exhausted yesterday it didn't even occur to me he would try to track us."

    "It’s a good thing I'm not the bad guys, Mr. Masters." Otis retorted.

    Jackson felt duly chastised, and his face colored with embarrassment. "Of course you're right. It wouldn't have happened if I hadn't been shot. I'm in a weakened state."

    "Man, it doesn’t matter whether we're hurt or not. It's our job to keep Amy safe, and we both failed." Jude put in.

    "You guys couldn't have known Otis wasn't on the up and up, even I trusted him." She gave him a dirty look.

    "Don’t get upset, little lady." He reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet. He unfolded it and showed her his ID. See, I really am Otis, just like I said. You didn't exactly ask me what my line of work was. You probably took one look at me and decided I was living on Social Security. I just didn't correct your misconception. That doesn't make me a bad person. It just means I'm cautious."

    Jude snickered again and Jackson gave him a dirty look.

    "So who are you, and why is it your responsibility to keep Amy safe?" Jackson asked.

    "I work for a government agency, and my boss has made it my goal in life this week."

    "Are you CIA? If so, why is it their business what happens to Amy?" Jackson asked.

    "Gee thanks Jackson, I appreciate your concern." Amy said sarcastically.

    "I didn't mean that the way it sounded. I'd just like to know why they're involved in this."

    "The man Amy over-powered and got away from happens to be the most wanted terrorist in the United States." Otis told Jackson.

    Amy gasped and paled at the old man’s news. "You're kidding, right?"

    "I wish I was. The thing is, whatever he's after must be bad, or he wouldn't even be bothering with it. That brings up my second assignment." Otis told them.

    "What is your second assignment?" Jackson asked warily.

    "I'm to collect your thumb drive and bring it in to headquarters."

    "Now I know you're kidding. That’s not going to happen. You don’t even know what’s on it. There isn't a person on this earth I would trust with what's on there, and I'm going to destroy it the first chance I get. I absolutely refuse to give it to somebody I don't know, especially the CIA." Jackson said forcefully.

    "Did I say I was with the CIA son?" Otis asked in a reasonable tone.

    "No, but you didn't deny it either." Jude cut in. "Why does your 'agency,' whatever it is, want the thumb drive, and what do they plan on doing with it?"

    "You know, I haven't the slightest clue what they want with it, and I don't really care. My concern is the welfare of the girl and the retrieval of the drive. I intend to complete both those objectives." There was a hint of steel in his tone.

    "I can assure you your objective of keeping Amy safe will be complete if Jude and I have any say in the matter, but the other objective will not be met. It would only happen over my dead body." Jackson said with just as much steel.

    "Okay you two. Let's not start a war here.” Jude said.

    Amy sat at the table absentmindedly eating her breakfast. She was trying to figure out what she had to do with any of this. "So why is my safety a concern? I don't understand what’s going on, and I'd appreciate it if someone would explain it to me." 

    All three men turned and looked at her. Even though she was the main subject of their discussion, they'd apparently forgotten she was there.

    Otis Anderson looked at her for a long moment. "Amy, your brother isn't who you think he is." He continued to stare at her intently." He’s a very important operative in the CIA. He’s made many enemies along the way, and the man with the scar is one of his worst enemies. He came after you so he could use you to draw your brother out. It was just a fluke you happened to be the nanny of the man who stole his flash drive."

    Amy stared at him in incredulity. "You can get real any time now. My brother is a no-good lazy bum who sits at home playing video games and getting high with his friends. He wouldn't even give me a place to stay for a few days when I was homeless." Her voice rose in anger. "He sent me out to live in the streets. He doesn't care about me. If I hadn't found this nanny job I'd still be out there." She shook her head at the man's ridiculousness.

    Otis looked at her for a minute longer, then pulled his phone out and dialed a number. "Scott, come on in. It's time you talk to her."

    "You mean to tell me you were homeless when you applied for this job? I didn't know." Jackson said.

    "It's fine, I didn't want you to know." She said.

The front door opened and her brother walked in, and she gasped in surprise. "Scott! What are you doing here?"

  "Amy, I know you've thought all these years I was a drug addict who played video games, and that I didn't care about you one way or the other, but the truth is I did all that to keep you safe. I have a very dangerous job, and the people I deal with would use you to get to me."

    "When Hami Ibraham found out you were my sister and Jackson's nanny, he knew he'd hit the jackpot. We have no idea how he found out. I've been so careful not to invite you over, or give you a reason to pop in, because I didn't want you hurt." Amy could see the sincerity in his eyes, and she propelled herself at him, practically knocking him over in her haste to get a hug.

    "It may seem crazy, but I’m happy you really had a reason to reject me." Tears ran down her face.

    "So you know the guy who took Amy?" Jude asked, wanting to get into the conversation.

    "Unfortunately I do. I've been working with him undercover for over two years. He's got the chemical compound to a really nasty virus on that flash drive, sis. We need to get it back so our government can make a cure." He told her urgently, giving Jackson a look as he did.

    "I think it should just be destroyed." She shuddered. "What kind of virus is it?"

    "It's a flesh-eating virus mixed with a chemical agent that causes tremendous pain and suffering before the victim actually dies. First it causes nausea and vomiting, accompanied by blurred vision. The second stage causes vertigo and loss of equilibrium. The third stage causes internal bleeding that seeps out of every orifice, and the fourth stage is death. This is a twenty-four to forty-eight hour virus, and it’s airborne. The victim's skin will putrefy and slough off as the disease advances. It's a very inhumane way to die." He finished on a somber note.

    The children chose that moment to walk into the kitchen. Angie walked over to the table and hopped up into a chair. She said, "I'm hungry Mamie."

    Benji toddled up right after her, hopped up into his chair and said, "I hungry Mamie."

    All five adults laughed while Amy filled their plates with food. She excused herself to check on the baby.

    When she got to her room she hurried over to the crib. Teenie lay on her back, her feet held by her tiny little fingers as she gurgled in her cute little-baby voice. Tenderness washed over her as she watched the precious child. She changed her and washed her up before carrying her downstairs to the table.

     Jackson smiled and walked over to the baby. He bent over and planted a gentle kiss on her cheek, and Teenie squealed in delight. "How's Daddy's little girl?"

Amy finished her breakfast, all the while mulling over everything that had happened. It was like something out of a whodunit mystery movie, and she didn’t like it, not one bit.





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