Supernatural Science Fiction posted March 23, 2011 Chapters: 1 2 -3- 4... 


Excellent
Not yet exceptional. When the exceptional rating is reached this is highlighted
'Tas and Henry plan a rescue with an inside man.

A chapter in the book Weapon

Courage Under Pressure

by SeLF

We parked the truck in front of the farmhouse. After Henry's knock, there was a pause and then a click as the door was unlocked. Patrick Entwistle opened it enough for us to see Mrs. Entwistle close behind his left shoulder. His mouth was bruised but no longer bleeding. Both their faces were set in stubborn resolve.

"Who are you?" he asked.

"Mr. and Mrs. Entwistle," I began, "we witnessed what happened just minutes ago. Please believe me when I say we are here to help. May we talk to both of you?"

"You didn't answer the question."

Henry took over. "We are part of a growing, national network whose aim is to stop human trafficking."

We saw the look of comprehension and faint hope flash across his face. His wife reached for his arm.

"We intend you no harm. This is Caritas, and I'm Henry. I think we can help you and your family. Are you expecting those two men back here soon?"

"Not right away, but they will be back."

"Then maybe we have time to run a plan by you about your wife, daughter, and you." At Entwistle's startled look he said, "Yes, sir, Caritas was able to hear the conversation.

"Do you know of a group called The Cadre? We have reason to believe that one of its members is the owner of this farm. Is that correct?"

Entwistle looked amazed as he nodded.

"Patrick, for heaven's sake let them in," said his wife.

"Thank you, ma'am," said Henry.

They gestured to chairs in the living room.

"Okay. In the interests of time, we'll give you the edited version," and then Henry, and I, told them about our group, the Citadel, and the network of dedicated people throughout the province who strove to assist the victims, and capture the traffickers.

There was a pause when Henry came to the end of his concise explanation, and the expression of relief on Mrs. Entwistle's pretty but worried face was unmistakeable. I took the opportunity to talk to her.

"Mrs. Entwistle, would you be able to reach your daughter by phone right now?"

"I think so. Why?"

I glanced for a moment at Mr. Entwistle, then said, "I would like you to call her and tell her to pack enough things to carry her through a couple of days. We know those men threatened her and you. We can take both of you to a safe place."

I turned to Mr. Entwistle. "Sir, would you be able to endure continuing on here for the next couple of days? We will get you out, too. And the workers."

They both looked flabbergasted. I was half expecting Mr. Entwistle to stand and throw the raving lunatics in his living room off the property. But he didn't.

"Where would my wife and daughter go?"

"Here's what I've been thinking. Henry, jump in with your input at any time. Your wife and daughter could drive to Haven Lake. Have any of you ever been there?"

Mrs. Entwistle nodded vigorously. "We've camped at the lake in years past. We are familiar with the town."

"That's excellent. I'm going to call a volunteer and good friend who will meet you in Haven Lake at the tourist information centre - you know where that is, right?"

Another vigorous nod.

"This gentleman will lead you ladies to a place outside of Haven Lake which we refer to as the Citadel. You both will be safe there."

I looked at Henry who added, "I'll call him now and arrange to have him meet you. His name is Ken Steward. The Citadel is about an hour's drive out of town. The property is owned by one of our group's principal organizers. She'll be back from the coast tomorrow, so you'll be able to meet her."

He gestured towards the kitchen. "I'd like to make the call on my cell phone in there, if I may."

They nodded their consent and I continued to lay out my plan. "You and your daughter will stay there until we get this business taken care of. It should take only a few days, maybe a week, maximum. Your daughter has a car, doesn't she?"

"Yes. And she has driven to Haven Lake before."

"That's another factor in our favour. We're also arranging right now for accommodations in a regional sanctuary for the workers. How many people are there?"

"Twenty-one," said Mr Entwistle, "Mostly female. They prefer women because they're easier to intimidate and control with the threat of physical violence."

Henry came back from the kitchen, still on his cell with Ken. "Ma'am," he said, "Ken would like to speak with you, if that's okay."

Mrs. Entwistle went to the kitchen with Henry to arrange an approximate rendezvous time. Then Henry asked Mrs. Entwistle to call her daughter to tell her about these developments. She was about to use the house phone when Henry gently took it out of her hand and handed her his cell.

"Please use mine. No doubt she'll have questions which either Caritas or I can address.

"Why your phone?" she asked.

"In case your land line is tapped."

A dismayed look crossed her face. "Yes, I'll do that right now."

She took the cell from Henry, hurried into the kitchen, and made the call.

We both looked at Entwistle. The man's face was careworn. He hadn't shaved in a couple of days and his hazel eyes were red rimmed with weariness. I could only try to imagine the stress he experienced when he realized what was really going on here.

"Sir, you haven't answered Caritas' question yet, about being able to do business as usual for the next couple of days. Could you bring yourself to play that role while we plan a rescue?"

"Stop calling me 'sir', young man. I'm Patrick. My wife is Faye. And, yes, I think I can, knowing that Faye and Elizabeth would be safe and away from here."

Faye returned to the living room, her eyes on me, and the cell in her outstretched hand. "She needs to talk to you."

"Hello, Elizabeth, my name is Caritas."

I took a few minutes to explain the precarious situation here and the necessity for her and her mother to leave for a few days. She was concerned about her dad staying behind so I put him on the phone to talk to her. He told her to pack and to stop at her bank to get some cash on the way out of Two Rivers. He reassured her he'd be fine. Now, he wasn't alone. Now, there were people who had a plan. He told her she and her mom might get to see the anti-trafficking hub in Haven Lake in action. Then he handed the cell back to me.

"You really are working against human trafficking?" Elizabeth asked.

"Really. I think you'll find the Citadel a very interesting place and you'll get to see how it all works."

"Well, I'm getting my things together as we speak."

"That's good. Henry and I will bring your mom to your place; she already knows your address, right?"

Elizabeth assured us that her mother knew where she lived and I gave her the make and colour of our truck. She said she'd be ready before we got there.

"Faye, pack a bag," said Patrick. I volunteered to help her while Henry and Patrick kept an eagle eye on the driveway, just in case the uber-robo twins returned before we could leave. Both Faye and I could hear their conversation.

Henry asked, "How many guards are here at night? And how often do they check on the workers?"

"There are four of them. They all carry shotguns. They do a head count at bedtime, and again first thing in the morning. They station themselves outside the locked doors of the big barn so no one can get out. Then at 5:30 a.m., they get them up, and by 6:00 a.m., herd them out to the fields or orchards. The two charmers you saw are the day staff who bring me instructions from the owner, and supposedly oversee things."

"What's the owner's name?"

"Leland Stromann. He's in big oil in Alberta. Got into trouble a couple of years ago by trying to use contracted migrant workers meant for farm work to work in the northern tar sands. The Mexican workers were doing dangerous work which they knew nothing about. They were supposed to be working here. Stromann thought he could get more money by subcontracting them and keeping the pay difference for himself. Consequently, he was banned from applying for workers through the Canada/Mexico agreement, under which the migrant workers get a decent wage for their hard work. Now, he's using trafficked people."

"Thank you, Patrick. This helps us to know the enemy. Now, here's what I have in mind. Tonight, I will need you to attempt to carry on as usual. Are there workers who seem to be leaders or who can speak English? What language do most of these people speak?"

"Hindi, and some Urdu, both of which belong to the Hindustani group. And we have a few people who can speak some English. They act as interpreters for me."

"I need you to talk to them tomorrow night and advise them to be ready to move in the morning. Can you do that while keeping them calm at the same time? The guards would notice if they were agitated."

"I'll sure try. I usually talk to the interpreters in the evening about the work for next day, anyway. They pass on the information to the others. Because of the mixture of languages that are heard at that time, the guards just disregard it as foreign gibberish. They know I'm giving work orders for next day, so they don't pay close attention. Hell, most of the hired muscle can't even speak English properly, never mind a foreign language"

"That's good. I'm always concerned about communicating effectively with frightened people in a stressful situation, whose language I can't speak, and who can't understand mine.

"Also, I'm giving you this. It's a pay-and-talk cell phone, like mine. It's untraceable. I've already programmed my number and the hub's number into it. Keep it close but concealed on your person and keep it set on vibration rather than ring. Use it if things start going sideways, okay? We will be here, asap. However, if things roll along as normal, then you can expect our small team to make their move just after 5:00 a.m. the day after tomorrow. That's Thursday morning.

"Our plan is simple. We grab the guards, immobilize them, and get these people on a bus, which will take them to a sanctuary at 500 Mile House north of here. You will need to make a statement to law enforcement about what you know while they do a thorough investigation of the place. Once that's done, we'll get you to the Citadel where you'll be protected until we know there is no longer a threat to the three of you.

"If I may ask, why did you stay once you discovered what was going on?"

"Well, I've not known for long; I just started in June. At first, I couldn't believe it. But then I truly believed it when they threatened us if I tried to contact the police. Struthers made it clear we would be killed. He said Faye and Elizabeth would suffer slow deaths while I was made to watch. Then, they would kill me. I do believe he is a monster capable of cold-blooded murder. So, I've been hanging on, trying to be a buffer between the workers and abuse from the guards. I tell them people can't harvest crops with broken limbs; it's counterproductive, and Stromann wouldn't like having his property damaged."

From the entrance to the main bedroom, I could see the look of admiration for Patrick's courage on Henry's face. Neither he nor Patrick, who was looking out the window, saw me. There was silence for a long moment.

"Do you have any idea where the personal documents for these people are kept?"

"Yes, I heard Struthers tell Bosworth they were kept in a safe that Stromann has at some big estate type mansion. Do you know the place?"

"Caritas and I took a look at it yesterday.

"Patrick, our team is arriving early this evening. They will watch the farm overnight from their surveillance vehicle. We might learn something else regarding nighttime habits of the four guards. Are there cameras in that big barn where the workers are kept?"

"A few. I got into trouble early on here for taking down the ones in the showers and toilets. After smacking me around, they put them back up."

"Well, we just might take the tapes from those cameras to use as evidence. I would like to deliver them, along with these sorry specimens of humanity, on a silver platter to the local gendarmes.

"Okay, is Faye ready? I'd like for us to be well on our way back to Two Rivers before the Mazda returns. We have work to do before the surveillance van gets into position later tonight."

Faye and I entered the living room with her bags. Patrick and Faye exchanged a sweet, goodbye kiss, and a long hug. Henry put the luggage in the back of the truck under a sturdy tarp to protect it from the weather and keep it out of sight. Then the three of us hurried down the verandah stairs and into the truck. Faye sat in the middle. Both Henry and I shook hands with Patrick. Henry reminded him about calling on the cell if he learned anything, or even if he suspected something.

Patrick told us he'd be fine and to get on the main road before the day muscle returned. His beat up Chevy truck was still in the driveway where it was when the muscle left. Everything about the farm looked normal.


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

Coming back to town on the highway, I spotted the Mazda approaching in the oncoming lane. Faye scrunched way down in her seat. I leaned over her as though I were putting a CD into the player. Both Henry and I were wearing sunglasses and hats. As the two vehicles passed each other, I took a good look into the car. The uber-robo twins didn't even look at us in all the highway traffic.

When we got to Elizabeth's small rental home, she had already been to the bank. All she and her mom had to do was get out of town. Ken, wearing a Stetson for recognition purposes, would call us when he met them at the information centre in Haven Lake, and then again when they were safe at the Citadel.

I hugged both women. Their genetic connection was clearly evident. Both women had large, lovely, dark eyes, like the actress Anne Hathaway, and long, dark hair, although Faye's had silver streaks at her temples. Henry shook Elizabeth's hand and when he reached to shake Faye's hand, she startled him with a heartfelt hug.

I heard her whisper, "Thank you for all of us, especially for Patrick. He's tried so hard to treat the people decently. Has the cuts and bruises to show for it, too."

Then we followed Elizabeth's white Toyota Corolla to the main highway before we turned around to return to the Traveller's Motel.


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

It was 5:20 p.m. when we got back. Adam, Matt, and Garth arrived at 5:45. Their units were side-by-side near the end of the long row of units. This meant that the techmobile and the grey van were not readily visible from the street. After dropping off their bags in their rooms, they joined us in ours because we had a kitchen. We ordered three large pizzas, one of which was vegetarian for me and anyone who wanted to try it. The others were loaded with everything. Henry went across the street to get milk, ginger ale, and orange juice from a corner store.

Over our dinner at the small kitchen table, we brought the guys up to speed and told them that because they were doing surveillance tonight, they should sleep for most of tomorrow. We hoped they might see or learn something by watching tonight. Or, maybe it would be a regular, routine night which would make them familiar with the farm schedule.

During our meal, Ken phoned to say he had met the ladies and they were on their way to the Citadel.

Adam and Garth had everything ready for tonight's vigil. On Wednesday night, they'd watch again and very early Thursday we would strike. There were four guards. We were five in strength. Garth, however, would stay in the surveillance van. Matt would drive the people to 500 Mile House, drop them off, and return with the bus, which we would use again at the modular housing plant. The bus was a rental from a local company, which supplies and services all buses for the local school board. He had secured private parking space for it and the grey van away from the motel. With the factory rescue still several days away, we put all our focus on the one at the farm.

The initial plan was I would shock the guards into unconsciousness and disable the padlocks on the warehouse/barn doors. Henry and I would secure the bad guys with duct tape and gather the video tapes from the cameras in the shower and bathroom areas of the building. We believed they might reveal truly incriminating evidence.

Matt and Adam would get the people onto the bus and tell the bilingual workers where they were going. Patrick would be a reassuring presence for the victims at that time.

Then, with Matt enroute, Garth would notify the safe house volunteers of his arrival time. He and Adam in the techmobile and Henry and I in the pickup would return to the motel. Matt would arrive back here a couple of hours later using the van after leaving the bus in its already reserved parking spot.

However, Adam and Garth's nighttime surveillance between now and Thursday morning would dictate any necessary changes. The rescue had to be choreographed for speed and efficiency. At this point, we were still figuring out what to do with Bosworth and Struthers because of the tight timeline between Matt's leaving with the workers, and the uber robo-twins arrival for their day shift.

Whit had found no evidence of anyone on the take at the Two Rivers detachment, nor any hint that an individual or group had ever made overtures to staff members.

Patrick would make the 911 call after Matt and the victims had a good head start on the bus. The secured night guards, and hopefully, Bosworth and Struthers, would be left in front of the house. Henry wanted to leave the video tapes with "Play Me" notes secured to their chests with duct tape.

Our stalwart inside man would have quite a story for the Mounties.


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

Adam and Garth napped for a couple of hours in their unit before going on surveillance of the farm at midnight. Matt had a unit to himself because he really needed to be well rested for all the driving he would be doing.

Henry and I shared a bath and during my daily ritual of applying soothing cream to Henry's scar tissue, Ken called to let us know Faye and Elizabeth were now safe in one of the second storey apartments at the Citadel. This small success boosted our confidence.

We crawled wearily into bed. It didn't take long for Henry to fall asleep. I was spooned against his back with my left hand over the starburst burn scar on his chest directly over his heart. The strong, steady rhythm soothed me and as I drifted off, my thoughts were filled with hope that from now until Thursday morning, Patrick could go about business as usual at the farm, and no harm would come to him.




Recognized


While there are towns in B.C. called 100 Mile House and 107 Mile House, there is no 500 Mile House. The two real towns got their names back in the days of the gold rush.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.


Save to Bookcase Promote This Share or Bookmark
Print It Print It View Reviews

You need to login or register to write reviews. It's quick! We only ask four questions to new members.


© Copyright 2017. SeLF All rights reserved.
SeLF has granted FanStory.com, its affiliates and its syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.