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Authors: RB Stutz

Masked (31 page)

BOOK: Masked
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Epilogue

 

“Mrs. Conner, your 10:00 is
here,” a woman’s voice said over the intercom.

“Thanks Maggie, send him on in,”
Laura said.

Her 10:00 was a meeting with a
representative of the Langston Group, a Company that manufactured a certain synthetic
alloy she needed for an upcoming contract ready to begin production. Langston
held the patent for the alloy and from what she understood, quantity was in
limited supply. She’d use the negotiation skills that had served her so well
before to negotiate a supply contract at the meeting.

The representative she’d be
meeting with was Kyle Jaspers, one of the Co-founders of Langston and she’d tried
for weeks to get the meeting set. Since the amount of material her Company
would ultimately need was relatively small compared to the needs of other
manufacturers and the price she was willing to pay much more, she felt
confident a contract would be signed by the end of day.

Laura stood as a man in a dark
suit, light blue shirt and red tie walked in. He was a tall, solid built man
with a pale sculpted face and dark brown hair peppered with some grey. She’d
never met Kyle before, but she knew he wasn’t Kyle. She knew this man. She knew
him very well.

The tall man closed the door
behind him and Laura stood rigid where she was.

“I hope you don’t mind. I
rescheduled your appointment with Kyle Jaspers for tomorrow afternoon. Your
calendar was open and he was considerate enough to give me the meeting slot today,”
the man said conversationally, with a polite smile.

Laura wasn’t smiling.

“What do you want?” she asked
with tight lips and gritted teeth. “How did you find me?”

“You underestimate me. Did you
really think you could stay hidden when you are living a life so open here? All
I needed was something to grab ahold of. You did a fair job at masking the
ownership trail of the house at the lake, but did you really think I wouldn’t
be able to find you?”

He motioned around the office
with his hands. “You look like you’ve done well for yourself, living
comfortably.”

“I’ve done alright. What is it
you want? I haven’t changed my mind and you know you can’t touch me.”

She wasn’t completely convinced of
this, recent events had proven she wasn’t as untouchable as she’d once thought.

The man put an expression of hurt
on his face. “I didn’t go through all of the trouble to meet you here just to
try and kill you. I have come to talk. Anyway, it is you who broke our
agreement.”

Laura spat. “So what is it exactly
you want from me? I’m not going to turn them back over to you.”

“Please. Let’s have a seat and
talk about this in a more civil manner,” the man suggested.

“There is nothing civil about
what you do. I prefer to stand.”

Laura stayed standing, but the
man had a seat on one of the chairs at the front of her desk. “I hope you don’t
mind if I sit.”

Once settled in the chair, he continued.
“Due to recent events I thought we should meet to ensure we both understand the
agreement I thought we had. I’m willing to look past your little indiscretions
over the past year and the setbacks you have caused to my operation if you can
convince me you will stay out of my business. You stay away from mine and I
will stay out of yours.”

“I did what I had to do,” Laura said.

“I know you think so, but it
won’t
happen again
.” The conversational tone and smile were gone, replaced with a
cold anger.

Laura didn’t comment on the
threat, but met his gaze in silence.

“I know you think you are
untouchable, but no one is invincible as we have proven to you. If you get in
the way again, I will destroy you. You can keep your little pets for now. We
now know where we made our mistakes before. They won’t be made again. The time
is almost here for us to finally collect the reward for years of work. Once, I
had hoped you would return to us, to me, at my side, but that hope is gone.”

The man paused for a moment. “That
hope vanished when you sacrificed one of your own kind, your family, your
people, to protect your little pets. You have cost me much and I will not allow
it again.”

Laura stayed silent. The anger
and hurt in her eyes matched that of the man across the desk. She knew she
wouldn’t be able go back to sitting by as people, many of whom she now
considered friends, even family were hurt. She knew a debate would get her nowhere
though, not with him.

The man stood and began to walk
towards the door. Halfway across the room, he turned to face her once more. “One
day you will regret your betrayal to your family, your people, but by then it
will be too late. It’s already too late. I regret my daughter won’t be at my
side when we take this planet and I bring hope and glory back to our people.
Goodbye, Lairia.”

At that, her father, the man her
friends knew as Col. Caldwell, turned his back and walked out of the office.
Laura moved towards the open door and closed it. The emotional flood gates she’d
been holding tightly closed burst. She staggered away from the door and was able
to stay on her feet for only a few seconds before dropping to the floor
sobbing.

She didn’t know how long she was on
the floor but, after some time, the phone on her desk began to ring. She rose, took
a few seconds to compose herself and picked up the ringing phone, her personal
phone.

“Hello,” she said weakly.

“Laura?”

She cleared her throat. “What is
it Evan?”

“It’s the prisoner, Peter. He’s
gone.”

Coldness moved over Laura at the
thought of that monster once again on the loose. “Gone? What do you mean gone?”

“Rachael was on duty last night.
When I came in this morning, both she and Peter were gone.”

“Did you look at the security
footage?”

“There is none. At 4:16 the tape
goes blank and doesn’t return until 4:25. Peter was no longer in his holding
room when the tape returned. I also checked the system to see when his room was
last accessed. According to the system log, it wasn’t.”

“What about the other prisoners?

“They’re both still here.”

Laura was silent for several
seconds. What did it mean? Rachael was missing too?

“Laura?”

“Sorry. Please call the others. I’ll
be there shortly.” She disconnected.

 

***

Sixteen years earlier…

Jeff tried his best to clear head
as he ran down the dark suburban streets with a cool breeze at his back. He wanted
to get the image of those two beautiful babies out of his head. They were his
for so short a time. He knew they were better off with parents who were older
and could actually take care of them. How could he have taken care of two
babies while trying to finish high school? Any amount of rational reasoning
didn’t numb the pain.

Every few minutes or so, a car
passed. Other than that, it was a peaceful evening. He’d been out for twenty
minutes already and was singing a fast paced punk song in his head as he ran. It
was the Ramones, but he couldn’t remember the title. He always had trouble
remembering the names of songs, people and places.

A bright light started to come up
behind him. There was no sidewalk on the stretch of street he was on, but it
was wide and he was all the way to the side for a passing car.

The light got closer as Jeff ran.
It got even brighter and he realized it should have passed him already. There
was the constant hum of an engine and he recognized the vehicle was keeping
pace with him. He turned his head to make sure he was out of the vehicle’s path
when he was blinded by the light, much brighter than any car headlight. A sharp
pain coursed through his body for a few seconds before he was rendered
unconscious and dropped to the ground.

The dark truck parked behind Jeff’s
motionless body and turned off its bright lamps. Both doors opened and two
people stepped out, a young man and woman. Quickly, they moved to the
motionless Jeff and the woman kneeled down to check his vitals using a hand
held device.

“He’s stable,” Lairia said as she
stood.

The man lifted Jeff by the shoulders with no
apparent effort and quickly loaded him into the back of the truck. Once the
truck was back in motion, Lairia pulled out another small hand held device and
held it near her mouth. “We have number 9752 and are moving to the Dallas
secure site.”

“Understood,” a deep male voice responded.

Lairia put the device away and
sighed.

The man driving the truck turned
to her. “What is it?”

She shook her head. “Nothing. That’s
three. Let’s call it a night.”

BOOK: Masked
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