Friday, August 9, 2013

The Granite Key by NS Wikarski

Chapter 8 – Digesting The Information

Much later that same evening, a familiar group of four people gathered together in Faye’s kitchen. The mood was somewhat less grim than that of their last meeting as the old woman bustled about fixing them a midnight repast.

“Despite the lateness of the hour, I’m glad you were all able to join me to discuss Erik’s latest findings,” she said as she passed out platters of cold cuts and bread.

The Security Coordinator started building himself a three-decker club sandwich. He didn’t need any further encouragement from Faye to launch into his report to the group. “You were right, Maddie, it was them.”

“And you’re surprised that they were behind it all along?” The red-haired woman blew a smoke ring into the air. She rose to help Faye bring a tray of cups and saucers to the table.

“At first I wasn’t sure. It didn’t fit how they’ve operated in the past.” Erik bit into his sandwich. “Besides, they aren’t where we expected them to be.”

“Don’t talk with your mouth full, dear,” Faye corrected gently as she poured coffee.

Griffin passed the cups around the table. “Where we expected them to be? It isn’t as though we encounter these people everyday. When was the last time our path crossed theirs, Faye?”

“Long before you came to join us. About ten years ago, I think.” Faye sat down and stirred cream into her coffee. “Much can change in a decade.”

“Then I suppose it’s to be expected. Why shouldn’t they have relocated their headquarters?” Griffin directed his question to Erik.

Erik dutifully swallowed his bite of sandwich before speaking. “Because they don’t exactly travel light, that’s why. You should have seen this place. It looked like they’re starting to build their own city.”

Maddie scowled. “Bad news for our side.”

Faye moved on to a more urgent topic. “What about this fellow who broke into Sybil’s apartment? You said you don’t think he’s one of theirs.”

“Not likely,” Erik laughed. “He was wearing a cowboy hat.”

“Did you get a good look at him?” asked Maddie.

“Not great. It was dark and he was getting into his truck but I saw enough to put together a sketch. And I got his license plate number.”

“Well, that’s a start.” Maddie walked over to the counter for a bag of chocolate chip cookies. She brought them back to the table. “Did you have a chance to check out the plates before we got here?”

“Yeah,” Erik hesitated. “It was a rental. I found out it was leased to a guy named Matt Dillon.”

Maddie and Faye both laughed. “Our villain has a sense of humor,” the old woman observed.

Griffin looked confused. “I’m sorry?”

“Never mind, old chap,” Erik said in an exaggerated British accent. “I guess you lot didn’t get Gunsmoke over the pond.”

“Gunsmoke over the pond?” Now Griffin looked completely lost. “What on earth is he talking about?”

Maddie patted Griffin reassuringly on the back. “Nothing important. It’s just an old TV series. What we Yanks would call a horse opera. You know, shoot ‘em up stuff. Cowboys and Indians.”

“How very extraordinary,” Griffin remarked, helping himself to a cookie.

“And what about Cassie?” Faye asked.

Erik decided to skip the cookies and dipped into a bag of potato chips instead. “Today I trailed her from her dorm to Sybil’s apartment. It was already dark when she got there. I waited for her to go up in the elevator before I followed.  I was just getting off on the fourth floor when I saw this guy come tearing out of Sybil’s place and head straight for the stairwell. He didn’t see me. I ran inside the apartment to check that Cassie was OK. That he hadn’t hurt her.” Erik looked around the table at the others. Their faces were troubled. He continued. “But she was just shook up. Lucky for us, she actually saw what he took.”

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Genre – Archaeology / Thriller

Rating – PG

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