Supernatural Science Fiction posted March 19, 2011 Chapters: Prologue 1 -2- 3... 


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'Tas and Henry learn time is of the essence.

A chapter in the book Weapon

Events Begin To Unfold

by SeLF

We were awakened at 7:45 a.m. by a call from Arthur. In his desire to help us with our investigation, he had located the nearest sanctuary for trafficking victims. It is in a community about the size of Two Rivers another hundred kilometres north of here. The local Salvation Army and United Church of Five Hundred Mile House look after it, along with a shelter for the homeless in the area. The two facilities, however, are in different parts of town and the sanctuary's location is known only by key people in the churches, and to the team of dedicated volunteers who maintain it. Always ready, the only thing they need to know is how many guests they should expect. Even though the Citadel would contact the people in 500 Hundred Mile House, Arthur gave the contact names and numbers to Henry, just in case things got really hairy.

He put the phone on speaker. "You've saved us some work. Thanks. We'll be taking a look today at the two businesses Adam found."

"Well, he'll be here soon. And Matt will be joining him this afternoon, after he gives me his thorough version of a road test as a dress rehearsal for tomorrow."

"Are you nervous ?" I asked.

"A little, but only because I haven't practised as much as I should have. But, thanks to the months of Matt's patient instruction and training, and his high standards, I think I'll do well. The man is a consummate pro."

"We know you'll ace it. And thank you for shortening our 'to do' list."

"It's the least I can do, 'Tas."

"One more thing," Henry added. "When you see Matt, tell him we need the grey van as well as the newly equipped tech surveillance truck. Does he know the nearest sanctuary is at 500 Mile House?"

"No, because I just checked it out, but I will tell him and leave post-it notes on both their computers as backup." He paused and we heard him take a sharp breath. "You think there are trafficked people in Two Rivers, and you're already planning a rescue."

"Only if our suspicions are confirmed. If they are, we'll need Matt to drive the van, Adam to be with us for rescue raids, and Garth to man the surveillance truck."

"I think I heard Adam talking to Garth yesterday about that. He anticipated you might need him, Matt, and Garth. I'll have him call as soon as he gets here. He's been jogging to-and-from work for months, making sure his wounded leg is ready. I expect him in the next half hour."

"Good. In the meantime, we'll shower and don our tourists' apparel. We're going to do some low key surveillance ourselves, even if we don't get to meet either Entwistle or Grier."

"You two be careful."

"We will. Thanks for sweating the details."

Henry locked the contact names and numbers into his eidetic memory, burned the piece of paper in an ash tray, and gave me a knowing look.

"You feel it too, don't you?" I asked.

"You mean like something is in the offing?"

I nodded.

"Not directly. What I do feel rolling off you is an intense energy vibe from what Lee likes to call your 'spidey sense'." He was totally serious.

"I'd better get my shorts, T-shirt, and sandals," he added. "What are you wearing?"

"The same. Except I'll be wearing my hemp running shoes instead of sandals or flip-flops."

We took turns showering so one of us would be available to answer Adam's call. I went first, then Henry. He had just turned on the shower when I caught the phone on the second ring.

"Thanks for getting back to us so quickly. Arthur has briefed you, right?"

"Yes. We can drive up there this afternoon. Whit will look after things here with Arthur. Ken will help out, too. He's been doing more with us anyway since Jeremy took over much of the animal husbandry tasks around here. Can you get us a couple of units at The Traveller's?"

"I'll check it out and call you right back."

I connected with the motel manager. Check-out time was 2:00 p.m. She had a few units that would be available later today. Two of them were single units, which meant no kitchen or living room areas, but each had two double beds. She said they would be ready by 4:00 p.m. at the latest. I told her we'd stop by the office to make deposits on two of them, and requested she reserve them for Adam Holdrich, Matt Worth, and Garth Fox. Our friends would arrive around five, maybe later, depending on highway traffic.

By the time Henry emerged from the bathroom dressed and ready to roll, I had given Adam the info about the accommodations. If our hunches proved correct, Whit would contact the volunteers at Five Hundred Mile House and give them a heads-up about the distinct possibility of having company in the next twenty-four to forty-eight hours. How many we couldn't say. Not yet.

Henry really did look like a tourist. He wore green and yellow patterned walking shorts, a plain, green short-sleeved shirt and baseball cap, and green runner's socks inside his comfortable running shoes. The shade of green complemented his auburn hair and really made the startling, piercing green of his eyes pop. Neither the shirt nor the cap had any logos on them. That was on purpose. If he wore, say, a shirt or hat from the Haven Lake Summer Festival, with its distinctive and conspicuous lake serpent logo, it could be something our adversaries might use to track him down.

"No sandals?"

"No. You're right. Sensible shoes are much better in case of a foot chase."

I filled him in about the units and Matt's bringing the grey van as we walked to the manager's office to make the deposits. After breakfast at the little restaurant across the street, we took a drive to the manufacturing plant in the industrial park.

Because there were a number of trucks and cars in the area, the little pickup blended in nicely. Henry got as close as possible to the site and pulled to the side of the road. We both had binoculars and cameras.

The large, main building was nothing extraordinary, with its long, rectangular, high windows along its length, and the office located at the end of the building facing the street. To its left was what we guessed to be a storage shed for raw materials for the modular houses.

What caught my eye was the smallest of the buildings at the back of the property. It was square-shaped, and just one storey. Small windows were located high on the walls close to the roof. From our parking spot, we could see only a single door at the front of the building. There was a twelve-foot, heavy duty, metal fence which surrounded the entire lot. What was really extraordinary was another fence which went around the small structure with the tiny windows. As I stared intently at it, the hair on the nape of my neck stood up. Then it felt as though ice water was suddenly poured down the central canal of my spinal cord. Henry saw my involuntary, convulsive shivers and put his right hand reassuringly on my shoulder.

"Even I can feel something unpleasant here," he said.

"I'm sure it's where they keep the workers. Drive past the place, turn around and come back this way, because the other lane might give us a better view of the layout."

He did, and I took pictures. No cars were parked anywhere near the small, crouched building. An industrial dumpster was to the right of it, and both were surrounded by extra fencing. A metal gate in front was secured with a padlock.

"I can see we'll be doing night work with this one,"said Henry. "I don't see electronic surveillance on the interior fence. Let's cruise by again and see where they have cameras on the outer fence."

The big, main gate was closed and electronically locked. We both saw the keyboard, and the cameras high on either side of the gate. There was also an intercom, probably for the use of business contacts and deliveries, or customers meeting with the manager/foreman. Cameras were located every ten feet along the top of the fence. This was not a place where one could just walk in off the street and inquire about job openings, or the cost of a modular home.

I squirmed around in my seat and craned my neck to see where the power box was located.

"It's on that pole at the corner where the fence goes behind the building," said Henry. "There's also a panel box at the back of the factory. I figured you'd want to check that out," he teased.

I grinned and gave him a light, good-natured punch on his right arm. I really liked the synchronicity of our thinking patterns when we worked.

"Well, I don't think we should try cruising by one more time. Even though there's no one in sight right here, the cameras probably caught the truck. Maybe we should stop in at one of these shops and make an alibi purchase so we will look like two out-of-towners trying to find a widget for the truck"

He nodded in agreement. "I saw an automotive place just a little farther down the road. We'll stop there and buy a tire iron."

He sighed and added, "I'm certain now that Adam and Garth will have to do nighttime surveillance over a few nights here. Let's see which businesses on either side of "Green Homes", or the ones across the street, have open parking lots."

A couple of them did, including the automotive place where we stopped to make our purchase, but we found something even better; a small, open space on the opposite side of the street where two properties met. As Henry drove by the spot, I quickly looked back to the plant property. It would be an excellent vantage point.

"Okay, then. Let's go check out the farm," said Henry.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

We made a necessary pit stop at a Tim Hortons to use the restrooms and get a couple of iced coffees.

It was a lovely day for a drive, sunny and warm, but not sticky and sweltering. The farm was located just beyond the eastern outskirts of the urban sprawl of Two Rivers near the one river that flowed from the east. The property of several hundred acres was divided into two sections. One contained fruit trees both soft, such as cherries, apricots and peaches, and hard, such as pears, plums, and apples. The other was for ground crops of vegetables and berries. The land looked very well maintained. Henry stopped the truck a few times so we could take pictures as we drove around the wood fenced property with its numerous No Trespassing signs. We could see people, mostly women, picking vegetables and berries while others in the orchards were harvesting peaches. Soon, the apple crop would be ready.

Between the two areas were two buildings. The very large one was a combination of barn and warehouse; it probably stored equipment, and flats of harvested crops. The smaller one was a house. It's probably where Patrick Entwistle stayed.

We stopped on the roadside where the land made a little downhill dip and got out to take more photos. I was looking through my viewfinder when I saw three men emerge from a side door of the storage building.

"Henry, look at the small entrance to the barn."

I snapped a shot of the three. They were walking very fast, and having a very animated discussion. Two of the guys looked like hired muscle in business suits. The third, wiry built man was dressed in a work shirt and overalls. I looked through my viewfinder again. The guy dressed in work clothes looked agitated. Angry and distraught at the same time. The expressions of the other two were stony. Implacable.

I homed in with my paranormal hearing to try and catch what they were saying. The guy in the overalls said . . . "is so wrong! You can't be serious! You've already taken their passports and other identification. They're working their butts off already. Who or what makes you think you can treat people this way?"

"What way is that, Entwistle?" came from the guy in a dark grey suit.

"Like you owned them. As though they were slave labour." I could hear the disbelief and fear mixed with horror in his voice.

"Oh, but they are, Entwistle," came from the guy in a navy blue suit. "They belong to our bosses."

"Oh, yeah?" he yelled. "Just like you belong to your bosses, too, right?"

That remark struck a nerve. Navy suit hit Entwistle with a hard right. He collapsed to the ground. Even from where I was, I could see blood coming from the corner of his mouth.

"You need to have more respect for management, Entwistle. Our boss wants these crops harvested in a timely manner. If that means the pickers work eighteen hour days, seven days a week, then you'd better see to it that they comply."

Grey suit's tone was perfectly calm and devoid of feeling. Just stating the hard facts, he was.

"Or what?" muttered Entwistle as he staggered to his feet.

Navy suit slugged him to the ground again.

"Just do as you're told. You don't want any harm to come to your wife, do you? Or your lovely daughter? I understand she's an elementary school teacher, respected by other teachers, and liked by students. Maybe Bosworth and I could pay her a visit, introduce ourselves, be friendly, persuade her to be very friendly to us, if you get my drift."

Grey suit's tone this time was creepily soft and skin-crawlingly threatening.

Entwistle, who staggered to his feet again, looked as though someone had just sucked the air and energy out of him. He looked angry, frightened, exhausted, and trapped. I could feel his anguish from where I stood.

I told Henry what I had heard of the conversation. He could see I was very upset but, before he could respond, I said, "I think this situation requires our intervention, the sooner the better.

"We must talk to Entwistle. Get him, his wife and daughter. Then we have to get the workers. It could take, what, two or three buses? We're going to have to contact the Mounties through the hub back at the Citadel. Get Whit to phone the Two Rivers detachment, say they've learned through their network contacts that trafficked people are being used as slave labour at Good Health Fruit And Produce. Might someone from The Cadre be paying off members of the Two Rivers detachment?"

Henry turned me to face him and cupped my hot, red, angry face in his hands. Eye-to eye, he calmly said, "'Tas, slow down. We'll deal with this. That's why we're here. You need to hold onto that powerful energy because we will need it. You must be at maximum strength, okay?"

His concerned, hypnotic eyes tracked back and forth between mine. When I nodded, he gently kissed my forehead, let go of me, and got on the phone to the Citadel.

"Whit, it's me. Can you check into the local detachment here to see if there are rumours of impropriety regarding anyone being on the take, specifically regarding transient or migrant workers?"

He waited for a couple of minutes while Whit searched. It was long enough for Entwistle to limp back to the small farmhouse and the two suits to get into a Mazda and drive down the driveway to get to the main road where they turned away from us to head towards town. Because we were in the dip in the road, they never saw the pickup.

"Okay. Yes. Right. I know. I know. If they don't have any evidence, they don't have grounds to get a warrant. It could take a day or two to get the buses and drivers, and additional shelter with another hub in this area or at the Citadel, in place. We have to plan guerilla raids for both locations to get the people. We'll tackle the farm first because I think we can talk Entwistle into helping. He just had a confrontation with muscle thugs over their tactics. Make inquiries through the main anti-trafficking office at the coast about his getting into the witness protection service, along with his wife and daughter. If he agrees to help us, we must protect them. The Cadre, no doubt, will exact harsh revenge on whistle blowers. Even if he's too frightened to agree, we still need to protect them.

"We'll approach Entwistle right now and get back to you."

Henry looked at me. "If we talk to him while he's still feeling alone and helpless, I think we can convince him of our good intentions, and persuade him to come on board, especially if we can get his wife and daughter to safety."

I was already back in the truck with my seatbelt fastened. "Let's do this before the uber-robo-twins return."





Recognized


The anti-trafficking hub at the Citadel, with limited manpower, do everything they can to help 'Tas and Henry with the large, dangerous challenge they find in Two Rivers.

Tim Hortons, for those who don't know, is a coffee and donut shop started years ago by a former NHL Canadian player. Now, decades later, the Tim Hortons restaurants are part of the Canadian landscape, and identity. :D

Eidetic memory: a recollected mental image having unusual vividness and detail, as if actually visible. (Canadian
Oxford Dictionary). Colloquially, photographic memory.

Thank you to CammyCards for the use of "Plums" on FanArtReview.com to create atmoshphere for this book chapter.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by CammyCards at FanArtReview.com

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