Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Donovan Pike and The City of the Gods--Chapter 16

In less than an hour, they were back at Jiminez’s compound, in the big room with the football memorabilia.

Jimmy Swift sat in one of the leather chairs, drinking from a mug of hot coffee. He winced with every sip.

“Got a cut on the inside of my lip,” he said.

“I’ll cry myself to sleep,” Pike said. He sat on the couch across from Swift.

The house was quiet. Elizabeth was nearly hysterical. Jiminez had given her some kind of pill and she was lying down in one of the many bedrooms in the massive house. Somewhere else in the mansion, Smith was being treated by Nugget’s personal physician–quite against his wishes. His boss had insisted.

Drake was in another room, using the satellite phone to make travel arrangements with the Ravenscroft people. When they got a line on Gemma, Pike wanted to be free to take off as soon as possible.

“Where is she?”

“I already told you I don’t know,” Swift said.

“I don’t believe you, Jimmy.”

“Christ, Pike. I’m not lying.”

“Smith wants to kill you. You get that, right?”

“The guy I shot?” Swift smiled.

“I might be able to talk him out of it. Or talk his boss out of it. Jiminez owes me.”

“Whatever. He wants to kill me. You want to kill me. The Brotherhood will definitely kill me when they found out I brought the chick to you. What difference does it make?”

“I don’t get you, Jimmy. You told me you were getting out.”

Smith shrugged. “I was, but something came up. It included a nice bonus and I, ah, owe some money to a certain pushy guy.”

“What was the job?” Pike said.

“Muscle, like always. The Brotherhood has a warehouse on Isla Mujeres, right off the coast. I was supposed to guard the place. I waited around by myself for a day or so, then all these choppers landed, with a couple of prisoners.”

“Gemma?”

“I guess,” Swift said, “but I didn’t see her. The guy in charge was a real asshole named Gustav.”

“We’ve met,” Pike said.

Swift nodded. “So you know. That’s why I keep my distance. They put somebody in a little room at the back of the warehouse. I know one of the chopper pilots. He filled me in on what happened. That’s how I knew about you. In less than an hour, the choppers took off again, leaving me alone. I busted the lock on the room and took a look around. That’s when I found the other broad.”

“Elizabeth.”

“Whatever. I was bringing her back to you, buddy. Maybe she overheard something that will help.”

“You did it out of the goodness of your heart, huh?”

“Hey, I’m tired of all the secrets and weird shit. It’s like being in a cult or something. I thought if I helped out, you could put a good word in for me with Ravenscroft and maybe I could get my old job back.”

Pike stared at Swift for a moment before he replied.

“Back in Florida you mentioned some kind of weapon the Brotherhood had. Was it the black light gizmo?”

Swift grinned. “You saw that?”

“Twice,” Pike said.

“Ain’t that crazy? Like some kinda Martian ray gun.”

“So that was the secret weapon?”

“No way, man. That’s like a tinker toy compared to some of the other stuff they have.”

Icy tendrils seemed to crawl over Pike’s scalp. “Like what?”

“Nope.” Jimmy Swift crossed his arms over his chest. “I can’t give you everything, man. Then you’ll just let that Smith dude shoot me.”

“I won’t let him shoot you, Jimmy.”

“You won’t?”

“No,” Pike said. “I think he wants to beat you to death.”

“Nice. So that’s it?”

“Maybe not, if you get me to this warehouse.”

Swift shook his head. “Waste of time, man. The Brotherhood won’t be there. They’ve got, like, a million of those places. And they’re the most paranoid bunch I’ve ever seen. They’re always moving around, sending out coded instructions, secret passwords, the whole deal.”

“How?” Pike said.

“How what?”

“The coded instruction. How do they get them to you?”

Swift nodded to coffee table. His pockets had been cleaned out. The only thing he had carried was a couple of hundred dollars in a money clip and a Blackberry. Both were on the table.

“Text message.”

Drake came through the door, his usual smirk plastered across his face. “Talked to Florida.”

“The state?” Pike said. “Did you tell them I said hi?”

Drake ignored him. “A jet will be at Cancun in four hours.”

Pike considered that. It would be good to have a destination in mind. He turned to Swift.

“Last chance, Jimmy. I need a location. Someplace to get a line on the Brotherhood.”

Swift shook his head. “I don’t know, man. I hear stuff. There’s supposed to be a lab in the Rockies somewhere. And the head dude has a castle or something in Europe.”

“What about the London headquarters?”

“That place? It’s for the tourists. They hand out brochures and stuff. Other than the place in Florida, I’m not sure–”

Pike stopped him. “What place?”

“It’s a lab, where they work out the bugs in the stuff they find. Two big buildings. The other is a barracks and training facility for their foot soldiers.”

“Where is it?”

“On Sanibel Island.”

One of Jiminez’s men opened the door and gestured to Pike. “Senor, you have a call. Someone named Pug. He said it was muy importante .”

“Drake, don’t let him leave.” Pike pointed at Swift.

He followed the Mexican down the hall, to a small alcove with an old fashioned rotary phone. Why the hell wouldn’t Pug call him on the satellite phone? He lifted the receiver.

“Yeah?”

He heard only a hum and the crackle of static.

“Pug?”

When there was no answer, he hung up and turned around. Jiminez’s man was gone. Pike headed back to what he thought of as the football room.

“Okay, Jimmy, you’re going with us.”

He paused. Drake was gone. Swift’s wrist was handcuffed to the leg of a heavy table next to the leather chair. But whoever handcuffed him needn’t have bothered. Swift wasn’t going anywhere.

Jimmy Swift gazed sightlessly in Pike’s direction. His skin had the look and consistency of gray stone. He wasn’t moving. He wasn’t breathing.

Jimmy Swift was a statue.

To Be Continued

© Mark Justice 2011

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