Chapter 18: Cairo
Almost another full day passed. Drake Sarkassian had been encased in lock-up for almost forty-eight hours. He had almost no contact with the outside world. Meals we’re brought to him, and the officer ignored him when he asked when he would be able to speak with a lawyer.
Unfortunately, he did have one companion. For the last forty-eight hours or so, Drake had only a bearded man with a monkey to chat with. Why did he have a monkey? The officer fed him a separate prisoner, though. “Have you ever heard of a band called Vanilla Sky?” the bearded man asked him. This was the fourth time since Drake’s arrival that the man had asked it. The first time, Drake answer no, which was the truth. The bearded man said nothing else. When Drake said yes the second time, the bearded man smiled, but still said nothing. Drake asked the third time who they were, but the man did not reply. Now, Drake was determined to find the answer.
“Of course I do, but the question is, do you?”
“No,” he replied. “Wouldn’t you like to pet my monkey, though?”
“I really need to get out of here.”
Like a sign from heaven, the doors against the wall opened up. Jamie Reese stood at the forefront with Doug Danson and Gary Derceto coming up behind. “What exactly did you guys get into?” Doug asked. Drake gave him a look that meant, “Isn’t it obvious?” It wasn’t that obvious, especially with the monkey man.
“Please tell me that I’m going to be getting out of here sometime soon.”
“Not quite,” Gary explained. “You know how Doug and Chief of Police Charles Embry are good friends?” Drake nodded, even though he just learned it then. “Well, Embry is even better acquainted with Robert Talsteed, so he just laughed with Doug and I tried to get in there and discuss your release. He laughed at my broken hand, too!”
“Joe’s hands are tied, too,” Doug explained. “He’s tired of having to deal with so many legal problems at one time, anyway.”
“This one’s important!”
“I agree,” Jamie added, “but I don’t think it’s going to happen. You’ll be safe in here. I promise. I’ll make sure you’re released as soon as possible. As for right now, Talsteed is our biggest priority. The coma guy is being transferred tomorrow. This could be our first chance to catch Scarlet for a change, and maybe even find out where the CATS base of operations is. I promise we’ll be back as soon as possible.”
Drake had a sullen and shocked look on his face. Only Jamie was empathetic, but the officer at the door was already ordering them to leave. Drake once again had only the bearded man to talk to. “You’re not Miss Scarlet, are you?”
Cairo, Egypt is a six-hour time difference in relation to Hyde’s Park. Just as Drake was getting his bare bones breakfast the investigation group was landing in Egypt at around 3:00. Chuck eyes were burning with passion and fury as his personal feud with the mysterious private investigator was going to come to a boil in the near future. Michael Ross held Meredith’s arm tightly as they came to meet the Westin brothers down in the baggage claim area.
Much to the group’s relief, the signs were written in English as well as Arabic. Just to test Meredith’s loyalty, Miles pointed at a sign in Arabic without pointing out its English translation on the opposite wall. Surprisingly, she translated it correctly for the team. It was just a restroom sign, though.
“Are you ready to lead us to Colonel Mustard?” Miles asked.
“And Donna,” Chuck felt the need to add.
“I don’t know why you guys want to go look for him,” Meredith opined. “He has the label of colonel for a reason. He’s a genius who stays away from the action. If you try to take the action to him, he’s going to make sure you pay for that. I’m sorry if any of that disappoints you, but it’s the truth. Actually, you know what, I’m not sorry!”
“Mazal Tov,” Miles quipped. “I’ll repeat the question. You seem to be in the habit of needing interrogation questions more than once, so I might just do that from now on. Are you ready to lead us to Mustard?”
“I don’t know where he is,” she admitted.
“ I don’t believe it,” Miles retorted. “That’s okay though. I didn’t expect you to be helpful.” Miles waved his hand slightly so Michael would pull Meredith over to a young woman walking in the opposite direction. “Ask here, in these exact words, ‘Where is the nearest hotel?’”
Meredith took a sincere deep breath before turning to face the Egyptian woman. Meredith said something in Arabic, and the lady replied in the same language. “About five miles south,” she replied enthusiastically.
“Liar,” Miles condemned. Michael had a straight look on his face, but Chuck seemed truly surprised. He believed Meredith. The others looked at him, waiting for some kind of explanation, but Miles wasn’t giving one. “We’ll ask someone in English on the way out. In the meantime, your trust is in serious doubt, so the only thing you’re good for is leverage at this point. If you do anything to make us lose that, you become expendable.”
Allison Dreary was in the principal’s office on her own accord, which was not like her. Drake Sarkassian was in jail, so his testimony could no longer be trust as being the expert witness. Mary Ling was literally the only other person with knowledge of the polar shift who had credentials, Doctorate Degree from an accredited University, and years of experience and trust. The jury needed someone to trust, and they needed it fast.
“Why do you insist on pestering me in my office?” Mary question. “Why can’t you find some other witness to testify on your behalf? Tony Cortez has a Master’s Degree in Education, which is not so different than my doctorate. He may be new to the job, but it’s all the same to the jury.”
“He’s already said he’s going to be there,” Allison explained. Besides, he’s in Providence with his mom right now. It’s too far of a drive and it is not worth it. Robert Talsteed is unknowingly working with CATS. We don’t have much else to go on.”
“What can you offer me insomuch that my presence will be beneficial for me? And when I say me, I mean me. Not just the school—although something that helps the school could extend to me—but me specifically. What can you offer me specifically?”
“It’ll be a chance for you to let off some steam,” Allison offered. “You said that the shift has caused you so much strife. Actually, it was the investigation into the shift that caused you strife. Yet, you never impeded us because you knew what we were doing was right. A woman with your credentials and experience has decided that all of her hardships were worth because you knew that we would bring the world back in order. You’d feel a little bit better, and the investigation would be put back on track.”
“The answer is still a resounding no,” Mary replied. “But it was a good endeavor. I like to see my students strive for excellence.” The bell rang. “You have a class to get to. Leave my office.”
Night was coming down on Cairo. Just like Meredith told them, the nearest hotel was five miles south. Miles took that is even more suspicious. Egypt was more than just Mustard’s hiding place. All of the CATS agents were acquainted with it.
The hotel was nice, considering it was one of the cheapest in the city. (Cairo is an especially expensive city to live in.) The walls were painted a vibrant and cheery shade of tan, with freshly painted shutters adorning all of the windows. Anything made of glass was pristine and shiny. The sidewalk was free of any human contamination. There was no way the entire city was like this. The bane of the tourists’ section was that it was not representative of the rest of the city.
“Donna Murphy is just as lazy as she is sneaky,” Miles explained to the group as they came in through the double doors of the hotel whose name was unpronounceable to all but one of the group members. “If she is staying at a hotel, she’ll be staying at the closest, cheapest one she can find. We find Donna Murphy, and we find Colonel Mustard. God knows Meredith isn’t going to.”
Chuck took the lead, fully enraged, and came up the front desk clerk. “Has a woman named Donna Murphy check in?” The young man mumbled a few words in Arabic to himself. He kept shifting his eyes from Chuck to some of his coworkers.
Michael came up and took the lead. “Go find someone who speaks English now!” he yelled forcefully. The man nodded and went over to of his coworkers, who were at a computer. A young lady around the same age as the desk clerk was pulled from her station over to when the group was standing.
“Donna Murphy,” Chuck repeated. “Has anyone by that name checked in?”
“I am sorry,” the lady replied. Her accent was thick, and her control over pronunciation was fairly weak. “We cannot give out guest information.”
“We are here on very important business!” Michael yelled. “You need to tell us if a woman named Donna Murphy has checked in here or not! You life could very well depend on it.”
“I am sorry. We cannot give out guest information.” It was clear that her grasp of the language was not all that stronger than her timid coworker. She didn’t understand a word Michael yelled.
Chuck suddenly jolted his head up as if he had an epiphany. He walked out the double doors. Everyone else followed him out into the parking lot. He was shaking his head in disappointment. Partially, his disappointment was geared towards himself for not thinking of it sooner, but most if it was derisively pointed at Donna Murphy, who was sleeping in her car in the parking lot. “There,” Meredith spoke up. “You found her. Ask her where Mustard is.”
“That would be too easy and fruitless,” Miles explain. “Donna likely does not know where he is. Once again, we have to draw him out. I know. You’re going to ask me how exactly I’m going to do that. I’d tell you, but that would ruin the fun.”
The next day, Robert Talsteed came out of the hospital with ire in his eyes. The entire morning, Jamie Reese was leaning against her car. Gary and Ashley were with her. Ashley’s reason for being with them was questioned, considering that she gave the camera to Ross, and she had no prior interaction with Talsteed. Still, maybe she’d surprise them all and do something.
“You’re trespassing,” Talsteed yelled before he even reached the three standing by the car. “Give me one good reason why I should stop calling the police right now. I’ve already pressed two numbers.”
“You’ll have to press more than that,” Jamie said aloud, “If you dial 911, all you’ll get that is rude answering machine message. Of course you already knew that, since you’ve already called the Providence Police Department. You just said that as a threat, which makes me believe that it’s an empty threat, which means that I shouldn’t be scared of it.”
“The psychology major, right?” he inquired? “Well, do you want to test that hypothesis?”
“We’re not trespassing,” Gary pointed out. He showed Talsteed exactly what he meant as he pointed to the hospital parking lot, where Talsteed stood, and the edge of the road where the car was legally parked and the other three stood. Then he stuck his tongue out at him. “We’re not on hospital property. Therefore, we have every legal right to be spectators of this momentous occasion.”
Talsteed took his time giving each of them glaring looks before marching back to the hospital. Ashley was really kicking herself for giving the camera to Ross. This was the perfect time to use it, especially since the transport ambulance had arrived and the coma guy was being pulled out on a gurney and placed into the ambulance.”
“It’s hard to see him,” Ashley said. “Are you sure that’s him?”
“Alley’s tracker says it’s him,” Jamie replied. “Come on. We’re following, but we have to stay way behind to make sure Scarlet doesn’t see us.” Jamie and Gary got into the car just as the transport ambulance began to pull out of the parking lot. They saw that the driver was a man, but that did not dissuade anyone. Ashley was still not in the car. The ambulance was now out of the parking lot, but Ashley instead began to run into opposite direction. Jamie and Gary ignored her and pulled out behind the ambulance.
Ashley, meanwhile, dashed around the building to the side entrance. There was the other ambulance that she had managed to catch out of the corner of her eyes. This one had the coma guy being lifted into it, bringing into question just who exactly was in the other ambulance, and why did he have Alley’s tracker?
Two orderlies where lifting the stretcher inside the ambulance. A woman, a dark brunette with sunglasses and heavy red lipstick, sat in the driver’s seat. Scarlet, no doubt. Ashley inched closer as the orderlies closed the door. Ashley did not see anyone climb into the back with him, and Ashley took the opportunity when the orderlies had returned to the hospital to sneak over to the ambulance and slide into the back. It was just she and the coma guy, with Scarlet in the driver’s seat. Ashley hid herself amongst the equipment in the corner as Scarlet turned the vehicle on and began to drive.
The group in Egypt was sitting in a rental car as they watched Donna Murphy do absolutely nothing in her own car for almost three hours. Miles was beginning to suspect that she might have noticed their presence. His eyes were getting heavy and all he wanted to do was catch up on sleep, of which he had not been getting in recent days. Finally, the lights on her car flipped on, and she began to drive out onto the streets of Cairo. Fully enraged, Chuck followed suit.
The driving seemed endless. She didn’t appear to be going anywhere in particular, and Chuck didn’t seem to notice. He had his hands wrapped tightly around the steering wheel, just waiting for Donna to stop and do something. This time, Miles really did nod of to sleep.
He didn’t wake up until Chuck brought the car to a top. He didn’t know how long he was asleep, but he didn’t feel any better rested. Miles looked out to see Donna on the street corner talking on her cell phone. She was wearing a brand-new black jacket, with her trusty red jacket nowhere to be seen. Chuck was approaching her. His eyes were feeling heavy again and fell back to sleep.
Chuck was standing almost directly behind her, without hr noticing. He listened to her conversation for a while; “Colonel, I was wondering what you thought about Mr. Boddy’s warning. The Westins know you’re in Egypt, because they captured one of the other agents.” Pause. “I know, but I warned you not to underestimate them. Chuck Westin is a smart man. I can only assume that the younger brother is the same. They’re not normal.” Pause. “If you want my opinion, I think we need to get out of Egypt before they come here and get us.”
It seemed like a good time to interrupt, so Chuck grabbed the cell phone and forcibly hung up the phone. “Hi Donna,” Chuck growled.
“I know what this appears to be,” Donna replied, back to her dreary, monotone emotionless manner of talking, “but I can assure you that everything I have done is for good, and not for some kind of malcontent. Colonel Mustard has assured me, Paige, and Doug safe haven after the Polar Shift has occurred and in the meantime, I’ve been getting a good steady paycheck.”
“All you care about is the money?”
“The money is for Paige, too,” she defended. “The reason that she is under Doug’s custody is because the court deemed that he is better off to support her. If I can prove to the court that I am more financially stable than he is, I will be given custody rights.”
“What about Doug?”
“What about him?”
“I seem to recall a time when I met a screw-loose private investigator whose only plan for the future was to prove to her ex-boyfriend Doug Danson that she could hold down a job, support herself, and help others. What happened to her? What did Colonel Mustard say that made you change your perspective?”
“All he did was open my eyes,” she replied. Chuck had enough of the conversation. He took Donna by the hand and led her back to the car. There, he saw his brother asleep in the passenger seat and the backseat completely empty.
Back in Hyde’s Park, Drake Sarkassian could feel his sanity slowly slipping away. The monkey man had not asked about Vanilla Sky for a few minutes, in which Drake was both relieved and worried. What did he have on his mind? What was he planning? What did Drake care about what the monkey man was thinking? Drake leaned against the bars in desperation until the man moved closer to him again. He didn’t want to hear what he was going to say, so he tried to shove him back.
Drake had a vision of the monkey man. He was playing with a lighter that he apparently had hidden on him. Drake let go of the man and the vision ended. Drake eyed him. Now, it was the monkey man’s time worry as Drake went and began to search through his clothing for the lighter. Upon finding it, Drake took the bench and began to move it over to the bars. He stood up on it, and reached through the bars as far as he could.
“I’m going to activate the fire alarm,” Drake told him. “When the officer comes in to inspect it, have the monkey go through the bars and steal the keys from his pocket, and don’t try to tell me that he can’t because the only reason he’s being treated as a separate criminal is because you two are some sort of street performer/thief duo. Okay?”
He nodded understandingly. Maybe, it appeared that they were on the same page, which worried Drake. He outstretched his hands as far as he could and put the flame as close as he could to the alarm. It wasn’t working at first, and Drake could feel his hand lose strength. Finally, it went off. Drake jumped back and began to pull the bench back to where it was before anyone came it to investigate it.
The arresting officer came in about a minute after it had gone off, plenty of time for both of the inmate to die had there actually been a fire. He didn’t even look at them as he pulled up a chair to reach the fire alarm on the roof. He sent the money, who easily slipped the through the door and grabbed the key without the officer realizing it. He left, still not having looked at either of the inmates.
They waited a few minutes until they believed it was safe. Drake opened the door and kept his back against the wall. There were two officers in the next room. Both of them were watching television. They waited until a commercial with some hot chicks came on, and made their way behind them and into a hallway. The bolted through and came into a break room, luckily empty. Drake opened the window and helped the monkey man climb out first before following. They ran down the street before they felt safe enough that no one had followed them.
“Thank you,” the monkey man said. “I don’t know how to thank you, but thank you.”
“I don’t know where to go myself,” Drake admitted, “but you’re welcome monkey man.”
“My name is Dennis,” he said before leaving him on the street corner alone.
Michael Ross couldn’t help but consider that he had an artistic side as he dashed through the darkened streets of Cairo with his hand grasping tightly the wrist of Meredith Doherty. He looked at the sky as he ran, realizing that the sky in Hyde’s Park was much more vibrant and full of starts, but the sky in Cairo beat that of Providence (which is where his house is) by a long shot.
Michael Ross wasn’t just out a jog. He saw Colonel Mustard, and now he was chasing him down on the streets of Cairo, and it appeared that he kept disappearing just as Michael was getting close. Peacock was slowing him down, but he couldn’t just leave her alone. They’d never find her again.
Mustard appeared again. He was just standing on a street corner. He was clearly taunting him, since Mustard had no one to drag along. He had the ability to stab and relax on the street corner before picking up the run again. He was the upper hand, and Michael Ross wasn’t going to let himself get defeated because of an unwanted teammate.
“You speak Arabic,” Michael correctly pointed out. “Find your own way home.” With that, he let go of Meredith and picked up the pace. Mustard no longer saw the need to taunt and began to run again. He wasn’t taunting him anymore. Now he was really running to get away, and Michael Ross’ football conditioning gave him the upper hand in the chase.
Mustard made numerous twists and turn in an attempt to lose Ross, but they all came to no avail. Finally, he made a quick turn right, left, and into an old, decrepit building. Ross walked in casually and flipped on the lights, which surprised him in that they were operational. Inside was the lobby of what appeared to be an old law office. “You led me to your lair?”
“I have no fear that you’ll reveal my hideout,” Mustard said, “because you are not going to leave here alive.”
“You don’t scare me,” Ross said as he picked up a pipe that laid on the floor next to him. “I ruled Central High School with an iron fist and I’m doing the same to Hyde’s Park.”
“I ruled Russia with the same hand,” he replied, forgoing the pipe that lay next to him, and instead picking up his fists as if taking on a metal pipe with his own hands was a good idea. Ross held the pipe firmly as his inched closer. Mustard had this expression on his face as if he was doing the same, but he was actually inching backwards. He was retreating. Ross took it as a sign of weakness and moved in for the attack. The man dropped his hands and began to cower in fear.
“Stop!” someone else called. It was an adolescent voice with a French accent. Michael Ross looked over to see that it belonged, obviously, to an adolescent French boy. He was somewhat shorter than Michael Ross, with a small mustache growing in. He didn’t appear to be only than 16.
He turned his attention the man who was still cowering. “Ivan, you are an idiot. I have never met a worse actor than you, and I go to Cannes every year. You are not even worthy of being my pawn, and certainly not worthy of a paycheck. You are fired.”
He turned his attention to Michael Ross. “Hello Michael Ross. I’ve been watching you carefully and have taken a keen interest in you above all others. In case you haven’t already deduced it, I am Colonel Mustard. The real one.”