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The Darkest Hour - Reckoning Pt. 6

The Reckoning

Charlie looked down at his cell phone ringing his favorite song “Sweet home Alabama” he saw the name Susan. He hesitated and answered “Hello Susan, it has been a long time.” “Charlie, I am sorry to even call you but I didn’t know what else to do. Jeff is in mortal danger and so is our daughter. I am not sure what he has done or what he is involved in but I know they have captured them both. I was contacted by someone and told to meet at the park near our home. Is there any way that you can come help me? I don’t know what exactly to do. I just know I don’t want either of them harmed.” Susan waited to hear a response on the phone. She could hear things in the background. “Charlie?” Charlie responded “Look I owe Jeff a huge favor, hell he saved my life in the war. I owe him as much as I can give. What is he into now? Still doing some under the radar work?” Susan took a breath, “Charlie we separated a few months back. I just don’t know what happened to him, he started sneaking off, not coming home, and his PTSD was at an all-time high. I just didn’t know what to do so I packed our daughter up and left. We went to my mom’s and he stayed at our house.”

“I am sorry to hear that, I know that Jeff loved you very much. You were what got him through the war, I am convinced of that. But that is an entirely different matter. Tell me everything the person said to you on the phone. Leave no details out.” Charlie pulled his pencil and pad from his inner jacket pocket and began to scribble notes onto a blank page. He could hear Susan start to break down emotionally. “I know it’s hard, but you have to focus. Everything is important right now. The voice, male or female, background noises, anything even a crackle in the phone line.” He could hear her sniffle and then she began talking again. Charlie received this type of training during his time in the Marines with Jeff. Jeff was his commanding officer. He knew that Jeff was working as a mercenary for different individuals, but this sounded like he had tripped and landed in a huge pile of horse manure. The damn Russians were no joke. They had no issues with killing anyone, including children. After Susan gave him all that she could recall, Charlie assured her that he would do anything and everything to make sure both were safe. He hung up the phone and walked over to his bookshelf. He pulled a three ring binder from the shelf and flipped to the first few pages and started writing and translating information from the notepad into the notebook.

Jeff felt himself becoming dehydrated. His stomach was nauseas from not having anything to eat in a few days. “Man can I at least have some water? I am going to die.” The man standing guard next to him smirked and mumbled something in Russian. It was bad enough that he hasn’t been let out of the chair in four days. He had soiled his clothes and could smell the reek of putrid waste. His eyes were heavy and he felt disgusted with himself. He honestly had no idea on how he would be able to work his way out of this, but he continued to try to find a way. The Russian guard’s cell phone began ringing. He answered it speaking in quick, slang Russian so Jeff was unable to comprehend most of it. The man hung up, and uncuffed Jeff. “Start anything funny and you will die.” The Russian said with a cold stare at Jeff. “You follow.” Jeff began following the man, he could see several others around the area watching him all were heavily armed so he knew not to try any funny business with that much firepower against him. They reached a door and Jeff could see the outside. The man unlocked the door and held it open for Jeff. He motioned for Jeff to step to the fenced in area similar to a large dog kennel. Jeff walked in and heard the cage close behind him and a locked being engaged. “Take off your clothes you filthy bastard.” The Russian guard barked at Jeff. “For what? You think I stink now? What the hell do you expect you piece of shit?” Jeff began to feel himself more aware as his adrenaline surged. The Russian guard pulled a handgun out of his belt line and aimed it at Jeff’s head. “Now!” the guard ordered again. Jeff smirked. He wanted to continue to push the guards buttons, but wasn’t sure exactly what the end game was. He undressed and tossed his soiled clothes near the guard. He could see some of the feces fly through the gate and onto the guard. “Ooops I didn’t mean to get you into a shitty situation!” Jeff laughed at himself. The guard just smiled and holstered the firearm. He walked over to a large fire hose. He pulled it loose from the hanger and turned the water on. It began shooting a high pressure stream out of the nozzle. Jeff knew what was coming next, been there bought the t-shirt. The guard hit Jeff with the water stream. It was freezing. Jeff knew that they wouldn’t keep him in the water long because he would develop hypothermia, or was this the plan? Jeff took the opportunity to drink as much of the frigid water as possible, he wasn’t sure when he might get another chance to drink anything, even if it felt like the water the Titanic sank in. He was washing the filth from his body as best he could when the water turned off. Jeff was standing stark naked and freezing at the moment. The guard turned to another door. The door opened and Jim walked in. “well hello, what have we here? Did you decide to clean your filthy ass? Looks like your chilly, you will be ok your heart is cold too, matches you perfectly. Now here is what is going to happen. I am going to keep you here like the dog that you are until you die of old age or make me kill you. Kapish?”

Jeff closed his arms around his chest to savor the last bit of warmth inside his body. “Why not just let me die now?” Jeff turned and faced Jim. “Ahh that would be to easy!” Jim smiled displaying his perfect row of veneer teeth. “I am going to give you one way out of this Jeff. Just one. No highway option. You are going to kill Cassandra, and her whole entire team. Shut her operation down. You already cut the head off the snake by killing her sister, but she has others that operate and develop for her. I want them stopped. You have one week. If you haven’t completed the task by then.” Jim snapped his fingers. Jeff could see his daughter step from behind Jim. She had tape over her mouth and her hands were bound but she appeared to be in far better shape than him. Only a glimpse and she was pulled back into the building. “You fucking bastard. I will kill you if you touch a single.” He was cut off by Jim. “Shut the fuck up, you’re going to do exactly as I say or I will take pleasure in mailing you parts of your daughter for the next six months. Now when they bring you the clothes put them on. They are going to blindfold you and take you and drop you off. Figure it the fuck out and do it quick.” With that final statement he turned and walked back into the building. The guard handed Jeff a bag containing clothes. He dressed and stood waiting. The lion, the warrior part of his spirit told him to attack the guard, take the gun and rescue his daughter leaving a bloody path of bodies and chaos behind. But he knew he was outgunned and definitely outnumbered. The guard unlocked the padlock on the cage and let Jeff step out. He followed the guard down the corridor. The guard pulled out a black fabric bag and told Jeff to bend over. He placed the bag over Jeff’s head and the two continued to walk. Jeff began counting the steps he took and listening to the sounds as they walked. Soon they arrived at a doorway. Jeff could hear the doors unlocking. He felt the cold wind blowing so he knew they were outside once again. He heard a motor running in a vehicle and the door being opened. Jeff was shoved into the vehicle. The vehicle sped off immediately. It traveled a short distance before it came to an abrupt halt. The door opened and Jeff was pulled from the vehicle and thrown to the ground. “Don’t take it off until you can’t hear the engine anymore.” This was a voice he hasn’t heard before. It wasn’t Russian. Jeff simply nodded that he understood. The vehicle left and Jeff sat up and pulled the bag off.

“Charlie Hallthrop, man I haven’t heard from you in years!” Winslow Arnold was sitting behind his big cherry wood desk in his office. “What can I do for you?” Charlie went on to explain the situation with Jeff. Winslow listened intently. “You don’t think he has gone off the deep end do you?” Winslow inquired. “No he just has been walking on the edge of the cliff for some time and it sounds like he has finally stumbled over the edge. But Susan called me. They have their kid.” Winslow nodded and told Charlie to hold on. He reached over and clicked on the telephone sitting on his desk. A woman answered and asked what Winslow needed. “Cancel my appointments for the rest of the week. Something has come up.” The woman simply stated yes sir and clicked the phone off. “Look Charlie do you think this is something we need to get involved in. I mean you know this shit could come back to bite us in the ass if we get involved with the Russians.” Charlie replied “If it was Jeff, then I’d say hell no. But you and I both know he saved our asses on more than one occasion and you can’t argue that. So meet me at the spot at 8. We will discuss a course of action.” Charlie hung up the phone and walked over to his bookshelf. He pulled two books down and activated the switch. The lower part of the book shelf swung open displaying a vault. He dialed in the number and the vault door unlocked. He reached inside and pulled two boxes out. One containing a smith and Wesson 45 caliber handgun and the other a set of very sharp knives. He sat them down on the table in front of the couch and rested his fists on the sides of his head. He knew that digging back into this sort of thing was not good. Not good at all for anyone. But yet his friend needed help and he was in debt. He opened the first box and pulled the clean gun out and racked the slide back. He ejected the empty magazine and sat it on the table.

Jeff got to his feet, removed the bag and started absorbing his surroundings. He was completely unsure of where he was. It was obviously a warehouse district. He started walking down the street where the vehicle left towards. His body felt weak and tired. He needed food and warmth. He traveled on a short distance and saw a small Italian restaurant on the corner of the street. He walked in and sat in the booth closest to the back with his back against the wall so that he could face the door. The waitress walked over and took his drink order. Jeff knew he looked bad because she grimaced when she looked him in the face. He ordered a coke. He needed the caffeine. He got up and walked to the bathroom after ordering spaghetti. He looked in the mirror. His cheek bone was a high purple color, his right eye was swollen and badly bruised and his eyeball was bloody. His bottom lip was split and dried blood caked his entire mouth and teeth. He ran some warm water in the sink and cleaned up as best he could. He dried off and went back to the booth and sat down. The waitress brought him his food and smiled. “Well that is an improvement. Rough night” Jeff nodded “Something like that.” Jeff consumed his meal with the ravenous speed of a starving mongrel dog. He waited for the waitress to walk in the back and he jumped up and ran out of the restaurant. He knew he did not have the money to pay, but knew that he would return as soon as he could and settle the bill. He was about two blocks away when he heard the jingle of the door knocker on the restaurant. He cut down the next alley. The road he ended up on was Singletary St. He knew that street. His daughter had a friend that lived on that road.

Susan’s phone rang. It was Charlie. “Charlie please tell me you found them already.” Susan covered her mouth with her hand to stifle the cry that was trying to escape her throat. “We haven’t found him or her yet. We don’t even know where we are looking yet and for who. But we know that Jeff was involved in a murder of some sort. My contact at the police department tells me that a girl was killed, not raped, not robbed, but killed. There was a witness and they described Jeff.”

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