Once the phones synched and they were talking on a secure line, Roger began.
“Darian Spencer is missing. It seems he packed a bag and left without saying goodbye to his wife or family. We have our resources tracking him, but he didn’t leave many clues. We suspect he left at 06:03 GMT today. That was the last time his code was used to exit his estate. I went to the Spencer estate, arriving at 08:40 and I questioned his wife. She seemed genuinely surprised that he was gone. They had a day trip planned for today and they were to depart at 10:15 by taxi. Naturally, Mrs. Spencer called off the trip after she was unable to contact him on his mobile. I thought you would be interested in knowing this.”
“Roger, let me get the rest of my team in here. I’ll be back in just a moment.”
Pete stuck his head out the door and asked his secretary to page the Berghoffs and Gil Iverson. Then he closed the door and returned to the secure phone. Turning on the speaker, he told Roger that the team would be here in a moment. They talked about sports until the team came in. Soon Gil, Frieda and Rolf entered and they were ready to begin. Pete began by having Roger repeat what he had said and then Pete took over.
“Roger, are the rest of the family still there?”
“No. His son and daughter are at school. Registration is 09:00. They should be released at 15:40, that’s about an hour from now. I have two of my team members there watching over them. I can pull them out at any time, but I didn’t think the children’s schedules should be interrupted without reason.”
“Roger, this is Rolf. Do you know yet how Mr. Spencer left the area? Is he driving or did he take a taxi or bus? Did anyone pick him up?”
“Spencer’s auto is still there, so we know that wasn’t how he got away. None of the family or staff remember hearing a car pull up, so we are led to believe that he walked away from the building at least. He might have taken a bus, but the underground is two streets away, so that is a possibility as well.”
“Roger, this is Gil. Do you know if he has his mobile with him?”
“If he has it with him, it’s switched off. There is no cell activity with his mobile. Of course, he might have another phone that we’re unaware of.”
Then Gil asked, “Has anyone checked to see if a mobile was active anywhere near Spencer’s home between 05:00 and 07:00 today?”
“There was nothing unexpected. There were normal road traffic with mobiles; there were texts coming from buses in the area, but nothing that seemed suspicious.”
While this was going on, Frieda was typing on her iPad. “Roger, Mr. Spencer is still in the area. I just emailed you a tracker program. It is set to Mr. Spencer’s subdermal implant. Run it on your iPad.”
Pete and Gil were confused and Rolf looked a bit embarrassed. “Oh mein Gott! I forgot all about the implant. Thank you, Frieda.”
“Frieda, this is a marvelous app! I see it attaches to Google Earth. How clever.”
“OK, Roger, we know where he is; now we have to find out where he was going and who was helping him,” Pete said.
“I didn’t think Spencer was brave enough to do something like this. I’ll have my men use caution. If he’s not alone, we’ll have to contact MI5 or MI6, depending on who has him,” Roger said.
“Roger, if this has to do with Umbrella Corporation, MI6 is the more likely candidate. Do you need any more from us now?”
“No, Pete, I think this will get us started. I’ll share what we find. Oh yes… thanks for the app, Frieda.”
“I’m glad we could assist. Good afternoon, Roger.”
= = =
Once the call was ended, Pete, Gil, and especially Rolf, thanked Frieda for remembering Spencer’s implant.
“Since we’re all here, what, if anything, has been coming in about Wesker or Umbrella Corporation?” Pete asked.
“So far, nothing active is showing up. We’ve had hundreds of hits, but they still end no later than the end event at Raccoon City,” Gill answered.
“Rolf and I are still trying facial and other recognition runs on the graphics that Dave was able to download. As with Gil’s findings, none of these are later than Raccoon City’s last day. We have some memories of Mr. Wesker attempting to duplicate the PG67A/W, but it doesn’t seem to have been successful. We’re certain that is why Mr. Wesker died. He wasn’t able to create an exact match and he was unable to halt the mutation. Of course, being here for three days and not having the serum available is what caused his demise. Had he told us about it, we possibly could have helped him, at least enough to keep him alive.”
“Yeah, and Pete, you and I sent the antidote for the T-virus out to our global partners. Of course, since the end of the Hive and Raccoon City, zombie sightings have been nonexistent. We still have several bots running and checking for new occurrences, but so far it appears that they’re all gone.”
“Thanks, Frieda and Gil. Are there any urgent or unaddressed matters concerning our core business?”
No one spoke.
“OK. Gil, we need a few bots to look for reports of people with unusual ‘powers’. You know, like mind reading, levitation, flying, telekinesis and so on. Anything out of the ordinary. Dave Taylor has been finding a lot of these types in the western United States, but he doesn’t have the resources, or the money, to cover the rest of the country. We have access to all of the U.S. and Canada now, so let’s see if we can help him out.”
“What’s Dave doing with them?” Gil asks.
“He’s setting up teams of psychics in different cities.”
“You gotta be kidding me! He has a nation-wide network of ‘Miss Cleos’?”
“Haha! No, Gil! You saw what Dave can do when he downloaded Wesker’s memories. That is hardly what Miss Cleo claimed to do. He finds them by looking for news stories from reputable sources about strange occurrences. He found a kid a couple of years ago who has powers similar to his own. About a year ago he found another kid who survived a nasty bus rollover accident that killed all the other passengers on the bus. The second kid was able to levitate and center himself in the bus as it was rolling. When the kid was brought to the hospital, he was covered in blood, but none of it was his. He didn’t have a scratch on him. When the EMTs found him, he was in some sort of a trance. Dave thinks that was what allowed the kid to be the only survivor.”
“Oh yeah… I remember reading about that. That happened in Tucson, didn’t it?”
“That’s the one. So all you have to do is get a few bots to search for these occurrences and work out a factual probability curve so we can get them to Dave. Knowing Dave, he’ll most likely check out all the reports, but at least we can help him to locate the targets.”
“It sounds crazy, but so did zombies… until I saw them in Raccoon City. OK, I’ll get on it.”
= = =
At lunch, Tim, Jerry, Ed and I were eating and discussing some of the things that were going on in the GSA meetings. Ed was hanging on our every word. He still hasn’t attended a meeting, but we understood. His dad was such a homophobe that Ed would be out on his butt if daddy dearest ever found out.
“Ed, the next meeting is tomorrow. We’re supposed to give our ideas for a GSA Dance,” I told him.
“Will it be billed as a GSA Dance?” he asked.
“I suppose it would. Why do you ask?”
“Well, if Dad finds out, I can’t attend. And if Mom finds out, she’ll tell Dad.”
“It sucks to be us, doesn’t it?”
“It’s not really that bad, Mike. Even if it was a GSA dance and my folks didn’t find out about it, I still couldn’t dance with you at it. That would out us and, somehow, word would get back to my parents.”
“Well, if you want to dance with me, we could always go to my house after school. What do you say?” I asked, with a broad smile on my face.
Ed’s eyes lit up and his smile mirrored mine. “Let’s do that, Mike. When?”
“Is tonight too soon? Tomorrow and Thursday I have GSA meetings, so those two days are out.”
“Tonight would be perfect,” he told me.
= = =
By 20:00 GMT, Roger had tracked Damian Spencer to an unused factory in London. Although he had a squad of four men, he wasn’t sure how many people were in the factory with Spencer. He had his assistant Simon scan the entire scene with an infrared heat-seeking monitor. They saw only four heat signatures, including Spencer, who appeared to be tied to a chair just outside of the main office of the factory. The other three were sitting around a table in the office. It looked like they were playing cards.
After using simple hand gestures to direct the team, they quietly entered the building. They were hoping to take the kidnappers unaware and without a fight. However, all of his men had drawn firearms from HQ for this mission, just in case. Once the men were in place, Simon was sent to check on Spencer before announcing their presence. Spencer seemed to be unconscious; he was also bloody from a beating. Simon checked his vital signs, and once satisfied that he was alive, he cut the tie-wraps that were binding Spencer to his chair. Simon lifted him and moved him to a safe corner of the room before keying and releasing his shoulder microphone. This signaled Roger that the hostage was secured.
Another one of Roger’s team members tossed a small metal part towards the end of the building, away from Spencer, to draw the kidnappers’ attention. When one of the kidnappers called out, “Who’s there?” Roger sprung the trap and the three men were captured without a fight. By 20:30 Spencer was being checked out by EMTs and the three kidnappers had confessed, including giving up the ‘inside man’, the estate gardener. He was arrested within the hour.
At 21:48 GMT Roger sent an email:
Pete and Crew,
Thanks for the assist. The device is still implanted. This was a simple kidnapping for monetary reasons. Perpetrators are in jail. Target is back home. More next time we speak.
= = =
Before they left school for the day, Ed called his mom and told her that he was going to my house to work on a school project. This wasn’t a total fabrication; we did have a History project that Ed, Tim and I were collaborating on, but it wasn’t due for another two weeks, so it lacked the urgency that Ed claimed. He said he’d be home in time for supper, so all was good.
When we arrived home, Tim put his laptop on the kitchen table and fired it up. He was leaving the bedroom open for me, I guess. What a great guy! But I didn’t expect that anything would happen. Ed and I walked into the living room and I turned on the sound system and programmed it to play slow songs.
Soon the dulcet, albeit pained, sound of Adele singing ‘Someone Like You’ filled the room. I took Ed in my arms and hugged him as we began to shuffle around the room. Ed sighed and put his head on my shoulder as we glided back and forth on the floor.
“I wish we could dance like this at school dances, Mike.”
“Well, we can always come here,” I responded, never missing a step of the dance.
“It’s not the same. I want to show people who I really am. But heck, I don’t even dare to go to a GSA meeting for fear of my parents finding out.”
“Ed, in two more years you’ll graduate. When you get to college, you’ll have the freedom to show who you really are.”
Ed sighed again. “That’s not going to happen. Dad doesn’t have the money to send me to college, so that means I’ll have to go to College of DuPage for a couple of years, unless I qualify for a scholarship to pay my way at an Illinois college or university. My math grades are dragging me down too much for that to happen anytime soon.”
I hugged him tighter. “Tim and I are good in math; I know we could help you with it. But let’s talk later. Right now I want to dance with you.” And I raised my head from his shoulder and kissed his cheek. I saw him smile as he raised his head and kissed me on my lips. It was just a peck, but soon he came back for more. Before the end of the song, we could feel each other’s arousal as we ground our hips together. By the end of the fourth song, I led Ed to my bedroom and silently thanked Tim for leaving that as an option. Once inside, we closed the door.
= = =
Tim was busy in the kitchen checking his email and starting supper. Tonight it was to be baked chicken breasts, Tater-Tots and French-cut string beans almandine. The chicken would take the longest at forty-five minutes to bake, so it didn’t have to go in the oven until about 5:15 or 5:20. He fixed the salad and put it back in the refrigerator.
Tim has his laptop set to log into Skype when he powers up. At 4:30, he got a call from Matt Spencer. He turned on his camera and answered.
“Dude! My dad was kidnapped! It happened before I woke up this morning, but my sister and I didn’t find out about it until the police brought him home a little while ago!”
“Wow! Is he OK, Matt?”
“He’s got some bruises from a beating they gave him, but other than that, he seems to be doing OK. He took a hot bath and then went to bed.”
“That’s great! How did the police find him?”
“Our gardener was in on it and I guess he broke down under questioning. I like being back in the UK. There were no shootouts, no fighting, the guys just gave up when the cops broke into their hideout. If this would have happened back in the States, I’m sure it would have ended badly for Dad.”
Tim sighed. “Yeah. The Second Amendment would have gotten more people killed than it would have protected. How hard is it to get a permanent visa to live in the UK, Matt?”
“Oh? You want to come back to Mother England, do you? Hehe.”
“Sometimes I do. But I’m glad your dad is OK.”
“Tim, where’s Mike?”
“He’s with a friend. He should be back by supper time. I’ve never known him to miss a meal,” Tim said, before smiling at his friend.
“Yeah, I’m the same way. It’s good to be back home in England for other reasons, too. For instance, people here know how to spell and speak properly.”
“Wachu talkin’ ‘bout? We talk good here. And I keep telling you, the superfluous letter ‘u’ should be gotten rid of. It’s as useful as tits on a boar… or in your case, a bore: b-o-r-e.”
“Haha! Tim, it’s so great to talk with you and Mike. You’re the only ones who treat me as an equal and have never asked me for money. You never blinked when I mentioned having a gardener and you’re so sincere with your concern for Dad.
“Wait a minute! You have money? I wish I would have known this sooner… like before you moved back to England. Haha. But seriously, Matt, we like you for you, not for your family’s money. And you’ve never acted in any way that would change our minds about that, either.”
“I wish everyone felt that way. Now Mum wants us to have security hovering about. I think my days of walking to school have ended. Mum is hiring tutors for Meg and me. That’s going to suck. At least we can have friends over, but I doubt she’ll let us go anywhere without a bodyguard. I don’t think things could possibly get any worse.”
“This is because of your dad being kidnapped? That really does suck, but what if they didn’t and you were kidnapped?”
“Tim, if this happens, the criminals have won and all my family’s money has become a burden. I’m a social person, and not being allowed to go to school or visit friends might as well be the end of all of my freedoms. It’s as though I’m being put on house arrest like a criminal… maybe worse, since I haven’t broken any laws.”
“Have you talked to your dad about it yet? Maybe you could get him to see your side of the situation and advocate for you and Meg.”
“I think that might be my only chance to get out of this. I’m sorry I’m dumping my problems on you. Tim, it’s eleven pm. I have to get to bed now. I’ll let you know what happens.”
“OK, Matt. I wish you the best. I’ll let Mike know you called. Sleep well.”
They ended the call and Tim started preparing the chicken for baking. Then he remembered that Ed has to be home for supper, so he walked down the hall and knocked on the bedroom door. Mike called out, “C’mon in, Tim.”
= = =
I think Tim was a bit surprised to see that Ed and I were dressed. If he would have been five minutes sooner, it might have been embarrassing. “Yeah, Ed has to be going,” I said.
“That’s why I was checking on you guys. Mmmm… I smell strawberries! I love strawberries!”
Ed’s face turned beet red. I threw a shoe at Tim, and he started laughing. “Ed,” I said, “let’s go wash up before you leave. It would be hard to explain strawberries to your mom.”
“Don’t forget to brush your teeth,” Tim added. We pushed Tim out of the way and went into the bathroom and closed to door. I heard Tim giggle as he walked back to the kitchen.
“Ed, brushing your teeth might not be a bad idea. Here, use my brush; it’s not like we haven’t explored the inside of each other’s mouths with our tongues.”
Reluctantly, Ed took my toothbrush and brushed his teeth. While he was brushing, I lowered his jeans and his boxers and washed his crotch. When Ed was finished, he decided to wash my crotch as well. Naturally, I let him. Hehe. When we finished, we washed and dried our hands and crotches before pulling our jeans back up and leaving the bathroom.
When we got back to the kitchen, Tim started giggling and Ed turned red again. “Ed, when a puppy is bad, you have to gently punish him to get him to stop.” And I walked over to Tim and slapped him in the back of his head. Now Ed was giggling. I walked him to the door and he kissed me goodbye and waved to Tim.
I walked back into the kitchen and Tim and I started laughing. I called him an asshole and he just nodded. It was 5:15 and Tim had the oven preheated to 425°F (~219°C). He put the three chicken breasts in the oven. I asked why they were wrapped in foil and Tim explained that they were skinless and boneless. Without the skin, the chicken would dry out and possibly burn, so the foil keeps the juices in and prevents burning.
“Matt called at 4:30. He sends his best. He called because his dad was kidnapped today.”
“Oh shit! Have they found him yet?”
“Yeah, and he’s home…” Tim went on to tell me the rest of the story, including Matt and Meg getting tutors and not being able to go anywhere.
“That really sucks. Matt was right; it sounds like they’re on house arrest. I hope Mr. Spencer is less paranoid than Mrs. Spencer. Did he say when he’d call again?”
“Not exactly, but he said he’d let us know what happens. We can call him tomorrow and see if anything has changed.”
I started to clear the table and get it set for supper. I thanked Tim for setting up his laptop in the kitchen and leaving the bedroom for Ed and me. He just told me to remember that when he shows up with Monica someday. I groaned at the thought of girl cooties on my bed and Tim laughed when I told him why I groaned. The bum! Hehe.
= = =
Uncle Pete got home at the regular time and we talked about our days. When Tim told him about the Skype call from Matt, Uncle Pete surprised us; he already knew about it. He said he monitors news feeds from around the world as part of his core business.
“Mike, the security services we provide have to do with large corporations, so keeping up on what they’re doing is important to us. Now let’s eat.”