Wow, this roller coaster is taking quite a ride. It’s gone from an extremely bad business trip to a conspiracy theory. I’ve introduced this Ben Simpson character and he’s turned into someone interesting. If I had to pull a frame of reference for him, he would be similar to Gene Hackman’s character in the movie Enemy of the State.
I can’t wait to see where this goes next. I kind of know, but not really.
Please enjoy this installment. I look forward to your comments.
Road Kill – Part 6
It’s hard to explain, but my old shipmate, Ben Simpson, seemed both surprised and not surprised to see me. He let me in and then locked the doorknob, three deadbolts, and the tempered metal latch on his steel front door.
We were both in naval intelligence supporting special forces during the Global War on Terrorism that began after the attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001. We spent five years disseminating data and chatter. After leaving the Navy, both Ben and I were recruited for jobs working in the Mother Ship. I took the job, he didn’t.
Something about the agency spooked him. I saw it as a healthy salary, government benefits, and a job that used what I was trained to do. In light of recent event, maybe Ben was the smart one.
“What did you screw up?”
“What do you mean?”
“Okay, tell me if I’m wrong,” Ben started, “You did something wrong. Donovan called you in. You escaped from the Mother Ship somehow, ran through the woods, caught a ride in a semi, and showed up here. Am I close?”
“Um, you are. You just left out the part where I sat in the wrong airplane seat this morning and the guy who sat in my seat was murdered.”
“Ah, so you didn’t do it.”
“Didn’t do what?”
“Whatever they are accusing you of. You didn’t do it, and now someone is trying to frame you since they couldn’t kill you.”
I was a bit dumfounded. I had forgotten about Ben’s Sherlock Holmes-like deduction capabilities. I had to step into my Doctor Watson role.
“How do you know all of this?”
“Well, your clothes, although fashionable a few years ago, are wrinkled in a way that tells me you’ve been wearing them for almost 20 hours. Your shoes are scuffed and you have burdocks on the back of your pants which tells me you ran through the woods and must have taken a direct northerly route where there are no maintained trails. The only reason you would do that would be to head toward the highway. They only reason you would do that would be to hitch a ride. You showed up here because, given the situation, I’m the only friendly in the area.”
“But how do you know where I came from and why?”
“I realized long ago that working for a dark agency is a mistake. Now maybe you believe me. You got close to someone who didn’t want you close. They tried to kill you when you were most vulnerable. When that didn’t work, they did the next best thing, which may actually be worse. They made it look like you committed treason. You know that Donovan would make sure he got you to confess to whatever was compromised even if you didn’t do it. Then you would disappear in some dark, dank hole never to see the sunrise again.”
This did not make me feel any better so I said, “That doesn’t make me feel any better, Ben.”
“It’s a serious situation, my friend. If you are being framed, you either have to find out who is doing it, or make yourself disappear before they do. Of course, if you do find out who’s behind it, you have to get someone who matters to believe you.”
I hung my head. Not much encouragement here.
“It looks like my situation is pretty hopeless then.”
“Well, not totally,” Ben said while getting up from his chair.
“What do you mean, not totally?”
“You came here. Now I’m involved.”
“What do you mean, you’re involved?”
“Man, your skills have softened since you took this government job,” Simpson said as he grabbed two large duffel bags from a deep closet off of the sitting room. “You’ve led them to my place. I’m involved. Even if you leave, they’ll take me in to interrogate me. We are now officially partners and, oh, by the way, we have to leave right now,” he finished as he tossed me a pair of hiking shoes.
“What are these?”
“Um, shoes. 11 ½ if I remember correctly.”
“Why do I need these?”
“Let me see your left shoe.”
“Your left shoe. Now. We are running out of time.”
I took off both shoes and tossed him the left one. He unsheathed a large hunting knife and went to work on the heel. After he pried it off, he tossed me a one inch square with a blinking red light.
“A tracker. How the hell did this end up in my shoe?”
“Have you ever wondered why they have a complimentary shoeshine at the Mother Ship?”
“I just thought it was a quirky benefit. Donovan likes shiny shoes.”
“When you give up your shoes to be shined, they insert one of those bad boys with a five-year battery. I’ll bet there’s one in every pair of shoes you wear.”
“So that means…,” I started.
“That means they’ll be hear any minute. Follow me.”
My mind was swirling, but Ben’s instincts were always flawless. He was right about the tracker which meant I had put him in danger. That was the last thing I wanted to do. He almost seemed to be prepared for this. I had no choice but to follow him. He led me into the kitchen and to the back door. Before we exited, he opened a hidden panel in the wall and through up a switch.
“Turning off the power?”
“Not exactly. It turns off the lights, but also electrifies just about everything metal on the house. That won’t stop them, but it will slow them down. Unfortunately, it will also piss them off. We better go.”
I assumed we were heading to a vehicle so we could speed away to some alternate location. Instead, Ben led us to an equipment shed in the far back corner of his fenced in yard. It couldn’t have been more than 8 X 10 feet.
“Picking up more equipment?” I asked.
“Not exactly. We’re heading into a little something I had built a few years back.”
“A shed? We’re going to hide in a tool shed? Is it at least armored.”
“Just watch and learn.”
Ben moved a large chest in the middle of the floor. There was a rectangular section of the wooden floor that appeared to be removable. He grabbed a crowbar and lifted it. There was a stairwell underneath that appeared to lead to a subterranean area. Ben motioned for me to head down the stairs. He flipped a switch at the top of the stairs and a series of lights began to turn on. This wasn’t just a subterranean area, Ben had his own version of the Mother Ship under his own land.
“What is this?”
“Just a little getaway,” Ben said with a wry grin. “The contractors that built it for me thought I was nuts. That appears to be not true now.”
There appeared to be living quarters, a cooking area, shelves full of food and other essential supplies, and a row of refrigerators. There was also a large bank of computer monitors that appeared to display surveillance feeds from all over Ben’s property.
“I guess we can hang out here for a while, but then what?”
“Those guys aren’t going to give up. They will eventually find this place. We need to be long gone by then. We can’t just run off blindly, though. We need to come up with a place we can go where we can get some cover and find enough help to crack this thing.”
Just as Ben was finishing up his statement, we could see multiple vehicles approaching his property. Armored paramilitary personnel, with no branch designation, began circling the house. As one of the men unlatched the gate, we could see him jump back.
“Well that zapped him a bit,” Ben said with a laugh. “It’s not lethal, but it feels like he stuck a fork in a 110 outlet. He’ll think twice about touching metal on my property again.”
As the personnel moved closer to the house, Ben moved toward one of the keyboards in front of the computer monitors. When the perimeter of personnel closed to within 30 feet of the property, Ben keyed in a quick command.
Suddenly, the whole property lit up with extremely bright floodlights and, from nowhere, AC/DC’s Highway to Hell began playing at a volume so loud that we could feel the bass vibrating through the earth above. A low rumble followed and the house imploded upon itself. The personnel fell back and, when the smoke cleared, Ben’s house was a pile of rubble.
“I guess that got their attention. The game is now officially on,” Ben said with a cackling laugh.
The explosion seemed to instill an air of increased caution in whoever was tracking me down. They fell back to their vehicles to likely call in to the Mother Ship and bring some fresh form of hell to deal with finding me.