“I see you’re awake,” she said.
The man dropped his façade and looked up at his captor, his jaw set.
She knocked on the glass door to the balcony, “Hey, big guy, he’s up.”
The Czech took one more glance at the sunrise and sighed tiredly. He phased through the glass into the room. “That’s fine,” he replied, “but we’ll wait for The Messenger to return with the materials.”
“Fair,” Anya said. “I would rather not waste time pummelling him. Besides, I might break a nail.”
The Czech was uncertain whether her nail worries were serious or a joke, but nonetheless, it was an irritating statement. He was not easily annoyed, but after being on assignment with this woman for the last month, his thick exterior was starting to wear thin. She always talked, even when it was entirely unnecessary, adding phrases and quips when it would have been perfectly efficient to remain silent.
He flopped down on the bed at the opposite corner from the prisoner. “I’m going to sleep, tell me when that black menace returns.”
“Black menace?” the Messenger said, appearing at the foot of the Czech’s bed.
The bald man sat up in surprise. And Anya smiled nervously.
“That’sss a new one.” The hooded, hunched figure replied in a fake, cheerful tone.
The Czech stood up and asked, “Did you pick up the materials?”
“Yessss,” it replied, “Who do you think I am?” It placed a small suitcase on the bed beside the man. “Your name isss Dermott, correct?” the Messenger turned his concealed face to the prisoner. “Pleased to meet you.” he said amicably, save for the wheezing and hissing. He pulled out a syringe with a black gloved hand and extracted a clear fluid from a small container as he spoke. “Yessss, very pleased, especially since you are about to tell us who and where your boss is, how much your people know, and in what way you are personally involved. The best part? You’re going to have very little control over what you say. No pain, no suffering, just pure honesty.”
The man’s eyes widened. “Truth serum? That’s a little cliché.” he said nervously, his bravado failing.
The Messenger pushed his sleeve up and rubbed an antiseptic wipe on the arm. Then he changed the needles, and injected the fluid. “That’s where you’re wrong. It’s a wonderful thing when one’s organization has pharmaceutical development as one of its covers. It allows us to invent our own little cocktails.”
Painlessly the fluid entered the man’s veins.
“You sssee, thisss version of the ‘truth ssserum’ isss ssso potent, that if I don’t give the antidote to you afterwardsss, you’ll die a very painful death in about four hoursss. So let’sss get talking, the clock, tickssss.”
As the Messenger continued its interrogation, the door to the hotel roomed opened and the sound of a pair of squeaky wet shoes entered. Anya leaned back to look down the hallway, “Oh, you have breakfast!” she cheered excitedly.
The blond, soaked, and very irritated youth walked past her and laid two bags down on the table.
“So how was the trip, Vladdy?” she queried, her wide satirical eyes mocking curiosity.
The enraged youth’s eyebrow twitched.
“Oh, and how did you get all wet? Did you fall?” she asked in feigned concern.
Finally he spoke, barely containing his level voice. “I was splashed by a passing lorry on the first of the fifteen kilometres I had to go to get the Thai food that you insisted on.”
“No wonder it took you such a long time, I hope the food didn’t get cold,” she said, looking into one of the containers. She sighed in relief when steam rose from under the Styrofoam lid.
“I could heat it up if it’s not hot enough.” Vladimir offered through gritted teeth, raising a vibrating cupped hand in front of him.
“Uh, no, this is fine.” she said cheerfully. “However that does seem like a very practical application in the future. Ha! We won’t need a room with a microwave next time! How useful of you Vladdy.”
'There she goes, using that horrible nickname again…' he thought in agony as he carefully heated the air around him, his clothes steaming dry within moments.
The Czech came over for his meal. “Finally, I was about ready to go to the hotel dining room.”
'If you had,' Vladimir thought, 'I would have seared your face off.'
“Has he said anything important yet?” Anya asked, gesturing to the yammering Dermott.
“A little bit,” The Czech nodded, “at least we know that they don’t have the slightest idea where the third Jinn is, save that he is somewhere in Great Briton.”
She nodded, “Well that’s a comfort. Hopefully we’ll get to him first, keep the boss happy.”
“How long?” Vlad asked, looking down at his damp pants.
“What?” Anya’s face could have been the poster child of naivety.
“How long until I stop being everyone’s little caddy?” he demanded angrily.
To his surprise Anya laughed, not in a mocking way, but just laughed with a pretty, nostalgic laugh. “Vlad, I was everyone’s maid for the first two years. It‘s a rite of passage, embrace it!”
Vlad glared, but inwardly he was banging his head against the wall and saying, 'Why me? Two years! Niet, niet, niet! Two years of this torment!'
“Then, of course, we have to watch out for that power of his.” Dermott said loudly in his drug induced rant.
“What ability?” The Messenger asked, eagerly moving the recording device closer and writing down important notes.
“You don’t know?" Dermott laughed cheerily, "My boss knows quite well, that jerk, but he only told a few of us, I was going to get the memo next week. I would have thought you lads might be more prepared! Seems our competition isn't that great.” He laughed cheerfully.
Suddenly the man’s face fell, “It’s a real shame we have to kill the lad, er Jinn as you call him. But those things sure are dangerous, you just can’t have those type of people running around.”
“Is there anything else we should get out of him?” The Czech asked.
“I think we have enough.” the Messenger replied, looking over his notes. “He gave usss a rossster of all hisss friendsss, there’sss about twenty of them, not counting the four Anya took out. He alssso told me who to watch out for.”
“Yeah,” Dermott interjected, “you watch out for that guy and the other lass. Don’t underestimate them!”
“We’ll keep that in mind.” Anya replied dryly. “You going to give him the antidote?”
The Messenger nodded.
He administered another injection into the man’s arm. Within moments Dermott fell unconscious.
“Wouldn’t it be troublesome letting him go just to have to deal with him later?” Vladimir asked.
“We are going on the move again.” The Messenger explained. “They didn’t find the Jinn here and already they are preparing to move elsssewhere. Sssso we likewissse will be leaving. It’sss not like he can tell them where we are.”
“But he’s still going to just wake up and we are going to have to kill him later.” Vlad reasoned. “It would be easier to take care of him now.”
The Messenger walked over to his food which he took with him towards the bathroom. He turned at the door and replied, “Unlike the bald man who taught you, I see no reason in excess bodies. Besides, a body would get the local law enforcement after us. Murder is far higher up on the authorities’ priority list than, say, assault. And lastly, he is going to be suffering side-affects for at least a couple of weeks. He’s no longer our concern.”
Vlad rolled his eyes. In his opinion there were two types of people, those he would kill, and those he would not. There was no point to temporary mercy.
“Sorry Evan!” Aleksei cried.
“Please don’t drop stuff. It’s not helpful,” Evan replied patiently as he fastened one final bolt into place for the pipe.
Aleksei waited in place, ready to pass his friend the next needed tool. He could feel his body ready to cramp up from being trapped in the awkwardly small engine access area of the fishing skiff Brigita. He shifted positions for what felt like the twentieth time and asked, “Are you done?”
“I think so…” clank, “that should be all--,” clang, “Start it and we’ll see what happens.” Evan scooted out from where he had been lying down underneath the engine. Aleksei went to the front of the boat and turned the ignition. The engine roared beautifully.
“Yay!” they exclaimed, “We did it…” their voices died with the motor. They moaned in unison.
“Right then, back to the drawing board,” Evan sighed, “Nikita, you go see if Jake needs any help, I’m going to be on this for a while.”
Hopping off of the boat, Aleksei stretched, making pops sound from his spin eliciting a gasp of relief. Now limber, he made his way up the dock to the boardwalk. He recalled that Jake had mentioned earlier in the morning he was working on the Bellamarie.
He hurried down the boardwalk, looking at the various colours of the small boats and yachts crammed into their section of the harbour. Further down the dock, larger barges and tankers stopped in for maintenance and refuelling.
Something buzzed in his pocket causing him to jump. “Oh the cell!” he pulled it out from within his coveralls and answered as he walked, “Privet, Tatiana?”
“Da,” Mashka replied, speaking in Russian, “I was wondering when you both would be home tonight. You’re not going to be working late, right?”
“Niet, I will call you if we do, but I doubt it.”
“Oh, well, I’m going to be out with Rebecca, so you two will be having leftovers tonight.”
“If it’s last night’s casserole, I think we’ll be fine.” Aleksei replied cheerfully.
“Atlichna! I’ll be home late then. We are going down to Edinburg.”
“Ok, I’ll tell Evan. Be careful.”
“I will, Da svidanya!” He flipped the phone closed and placed it in an inner chest pocket.
The Bellamarie was at the very end of the small ship docking. Just beyond it, there was a large shipping barge ported. His company’s port mechanics never worked on those. Usually the big ships already had their own engineers aboard.
He turned down the dock and was only a few metres away from the Bellamarie when he heard a loud splash behind him. He looked back to see what seemed like baggage floating in the water. He walked back towards it curiously, hoping to retrieve it for the owner of the barge. It was not until he was just a couple metres away that he was able to see what it was; a body. He heard a commotion from above and looked up just in time to see a dark head disappear behind the railing of the barge.
It donned on him, 'Di-did I just witness a murder?'
Two sable-skinned men appeared at the foot of the dock and charged towards him.
He opened his mouth to declare what he had seen, thinking they were dock workers, but be soon recognised that he was their target, so he ran the opposite way to the boat where he desperately hoped Jake was working.
“Help! Help! Jake!”
Just as he stepped onto the boarding ramp, he felt two strong arms grab his waist and yank him back. He tried to make a backwards kick to trip his assailant, but his leg was grabbed by the second man. He was about to bring up his other foot but felt something sharp against his neck.
The man holding his leg signalled for him to be quiet, he figured that he probably should stop resisting if he did not want a slit throat. They hurriedly led him towards their ship. Unfortunately no one passed by, and the next thing he knew he was walking up a ramp to the barge. Aleksei’s eyes roved around desperately trying to think of a way to escape, however no brilliant idea was forthcoming. His day had taken a turn for the worse.
He stepped up onto the empty deck, there was only a handful of shipping containers. Obviously they had not picked up their next cargo, or had just finished offloading. He looked up at the flag-mast to see the Nigerian colours flying.
A few more men approached, one of which he guessed to be the captain. They yammered on in a language he had never heard before. It seemed to be an argument over what to do with him.
'Well, they are either going to kill me, lock me up, or lock me up and then kill me once they are out to sea.' Aleksei did not like the options.
One of them approached with a rope. Aleksei tried to struggle but another one of the men raised a fist to knock him out. Aleksei dodged just in time. His unexpected movement threw the guy holding him off balance and he was free. Following the inertia of the dodge, he made a back kick, knocking one man atop the other. He was about to flee when he felt a hard thump on the back of his skull. He fell face down to the deck, dazed.
A rope was tied to his wrists and he was lifted to his feet and pushed along below deck. Finally he was pulled through the galley, shoved into an empty closet, and tied to a ring bolted to the wall. Slowly his eyes closed as silence numbed his mind.