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Jivaja: Chapter Seven, Part Two

Welcome to Free Fiction Friday! Every week, I’ll be posting a scene or two (in order, of course!) from my book, Jivaja. If you want to read along, just come on back every Friday!

Some scenes will be shorter, several hundred words. Some will be a thousand or more. Read them in order though, otherwise none of this will make sense!

Follow along as Mecca, a young woman with a Gift for manipulating human life force, runs head-first into a shadowy vampire-like society that discovers her power and wants to use her.

If you missed any parts, head over to the Jivaja Table of Contents to get caught up!

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Chapter Seven – David, Part Two

 

He spent a tense and nervous night, his jacket pulled tight around him, beneath the highway overpass in a questionable part of town he didn’t recognize. Jim’s words had made him hesitant about wanting to go home.

He’d tried to sleep, off and on, but the expectation of crashing glass and the gleam of fangs at any moment kept any meaningful sleep away. Why he kept seeing fangs, he didn’t know. He hadn’t seen fangs on either of his kidnappers.

When the first morning rays penetrated the van’s gloom, he breathed a long sigh.

He didn’t dare use the GPS on his phone — he kept his phone off altogether — so he stopped at a gas station and bought a paper map. It’d taken him ten minutes to find the rack in the back corner of the store. He plotted his route to the address printed on the business card.

The warehouse district encompassed at least twenty-five city blocks, but he’d had no trouble locating the building belonging to Emilia Laos among eight warehouses of varying sizes.

He parked the van several bays away from the one he wanted. It seemed to be the only warehouse on the street with no activity. As he walked by its neighbor, he stopped one of the gruff-looking men working there.

“Hey, why’s that one dark?”

The worker, who looked well into his fifties, narrowed his eyes. A scar on his cheek twitched as he took David’s measure.

“I’m looking for new space for my auto parts,” David said. “If that one’s vacant, I just might move my business over here.”

The other man brushed his hands over dirty jeans and eyed him. His suspicions were not allayed, David knew, but the man replied anyway.

“Nah, it ain’t vacant. Whoever’s there don’t get stuff in often. We see some guys working out there every couple a weeks.”

“Huh. Any idea what they’re bringing in? I can’t tell from here how much space they’ve got. If they’re just bringing in little shit, I don’t think that space will be big enough for me.”

The man shrugged and waved a callused hand in that direction. “They bring in a lot, they just don’t bring it often. They always got big shipments. Big boxes. Lots of men.”

“Thanks, brother. Ever see the owner? He look like a reasonable guy?”

“Seen an old guy come in and out of the office a lot at the end of my shift. And a young broad. Chinese. She ain’t here as often. Guess she only comes in for under the desk work, hey?” He cackled, blowing stale, garlic-laced breath.

Who eats garlic for breakfast?

“Thanks again. Maybe I’ll go over and check it out. At least look in the windows to see how much space is there. If no one’s around to let me have a look-see.” He got a nod in return and let the man get back to his work.

David’s boots crunched on the gravel of the yard as he approached. The building didn’t look very sinister by light of day. All the same, a knot of anxiety and perhaps a small bit of fear gathered in his belly. Leftover from last night, he guessed. His nerves tingled as he got closer.

The area looked abandoned, save for some tire tracks along the drive. Trash gathered against the walls: beer bottles, old rags, a rusted crowbar, and an ancient Coca Cola sign. That was probably worth something somewhere. Old newspapers in various states of decay lay scattered at the bases of the straggly bushes in front. David circled around to the side and found blacked out windows.

Locked. Damn. Not surprising though.

The morning sunlight glinted off the glass door as he came around to the front. Tint made the interior look gloomy and desolate. Inside, file cabinets leaned against walls and computers perched on desks.

Beneath the inky-black windows on the east wall sat a number of short file cabinets, along with a printer on a stand. Rather sparse, the office contained only the bare bones necessary to run a business.

He checked the door on the off chance it might be unlocked. It wasn’t.

What next? He had no moves beyond this office. The only clues that might lead him to Mecca hid in there.

He returned to the side of the building and looked at the windows.

Could he break one of them without drawing too much attention to himself? He glanced at the small hedge shading this side of the building from its neighbor a good three hundred yards away. Maybe the sound wouldn’t carry.

He pulled off his jacket, goose bumps creeping up on his skin in the cool morning air. He wrapped the fleece around his fist and forearm. Breaking the window shouldn’t be too hard. Then he’d be able to pull himself in through the window, onto the file cabinets, and down to the floor. He stood beside the window and slammed his forearm against it with controlled strength.

Electric pain shot up his forearm as it bounced off the window with a loud thump. The glass rattled, but didn’t move otherwise.

“Goddammit!” He held his arm to his belly, grinding his teeth until the pain faded to a low thrum. That’s the last time I do shit like they do in the movies.

He needed something harder than his arm to break that window. He circled the building as he pulled the jacket back on, taking care not to jostle his arm too much. Trash against the side of the building caught his eye.

The crowbar.

He snatched the rusty piece of metal from a pile of debris against the wall. The sign beside it told him to have a Coke and a smile. And that sounded good to him right now. The Coke anyway. He wasn’t much in a smiling mood.

David stalked over to the window. “Fuck subtle.” He swung and the crowbar crashed against the corner of the glass. It shattered. Some pieces fell to the ground, but most clung to wire embedded in the window. He stared at it for a second.

Fucking mesh in the window.

He swore under his breath and looked around, sure that someone must be calling the cops by now. The men in the yard next door continued to haul crates off a trailer. The thudding in his chest slowed.

He smashed the window again and more glass skittered to the ground. He’d cleared the lower left corner now, except for the wire. The rest of the pane was shattered but glass held fast like a gossamer web of crystal.

The mesh remained tucked into the window frame. David hooked the crowbar into the wire and heaved. The metal pulled free of the frame with a grinding sound. More glass sprinkled to the ground.

When he’d pulled up enough of the corner to slip inside, he tossed the crow bar to the ground. He eased himself through the opening and skidded across the top of a file cabinet, head first. Too late, he realized that the inside floor was at least a foot lower than the outside ground.

He landed on his head with a grunt.

After he got his feet back under him, David brushed himself off and scanned the office.

A tall counter with a formica top bisected the room, separating the work space from a small waiting area in the front. A computer monitor, keyboard and mouse, as well as a small hanging file system sat on top of the counter.

Two desks crowded the work area, both with their own computers and phones. A small stand with a combination fax and printer took up one corner at the end of the file cabinets.

No decorations brightened the desks. No personal pictures, no silly office toys. Nothing suggested that people with personalities worked here.

A door stood ajar on the far side of the room, and David found a large office behind it. Spartan, like the outer area, it contained only a desk, chair, computer, phone and a row of grey, metal file cabinets against the wall. They obviously hadn’t converted to cloud storage yet.

He flipped the computer on and looked through the cabinet drawers while the machine booted.

Shipping manifests, invoices, customs documentation; had he really expected to find more? Emilia Laos apparently imported all manner of things from artwork to horticulture. When the computer beeped behind him, he slammed the drawer closed.

The screen prompted him for a password.

Last year, he’d bought cracking software, partly out of boredom and partly out of curiosity. He wished he had it right now. Picking random words didn’t seem to work. He knew it wouldn’t. He found nothing in the desk to clue him in to what the password might be. After fifteen minutes, he growled and turned the computer off.

How to find Mecca now? Everything led to a dead end. Maybe he should go back and lean on Jim some more. Just how deep did his friend’s involvement go? His loyalty didn’t seem to lie with Emilia Laos or her group. David considered the phone call Jim received while he was still there and his own gaze wandered to the phone in front of him. He sat up straight.

The phone had an LCD display along the top. The receiver felt heavy in his hand, though he knew it was made of the same plastic as other office phones. His nerves tingled again as he touched the redial button. Numbers appeared on the display. The line rang in his ear as he grabbed a pen and wrote the number across the top of his hand.

“Hello?” A male voice. His mind raced.

“Is Ms. Laos available?” The long pause made him jumpy. “She has something that I want.”

“Who’s calling, please?”

“My name is David Trenow.”

No response came, but he still heard sound on the other side. The line remained open.

A female voice in the background said, “I need to use the bathroom.”

David’s heart jumped.

The man’s voice finally answered. “Hold the line please.”

The other voice had been Mecca’s.

David waited, listening to the open line, hoping to hear her again. A knot grew in his stomach.

Mecca was alive.

He heard murmuring on the other end of the phone, then a cultured, female voice spoke. “Mr. Trenow?”

“Is this Emilia Laos?” Everything in him wanted to go through the phone at her.

“Yes, it is. It’s a pleasure to speak with you.” She spoke with a faint accent he couldn’t place, though it sounded Asian.

“I can’t say the same. You have my daughter.” He stood from the leather chair and paced as far as the corded phone would allow.

“I understand your position. Mecca has not been harmed, nor will she be, so please try not to fear for her safety.”

“I want her back.”

“That isn’t possible at this time. However, I welcome a chance to speak with you about the current situation.”

What the hell? She was talking like she was conducting a business deal, not about the freedom of his daughter. “How much do you want?”

“Excuse me?”

“What’s your price? Let’s get this all on the table.”

“There is no price, Mr. Trenow. I am not ransoming her.”

'What's your price? Let's get this all on the table.' ~~ 'There is no price, Mr. Trenow. I am not ransoming her.' Read #Jivaja now for free! #amreading Click To Tweet

“Then what do you want?”

“Are you free tomorrow? I have engagements for the rest of today, but am free in the morning. Perhaps breakfast?”

“I want my daughter.”

She let a quiet pause sit in the air. “Then meet with me.”

Anger sent little pinpricks of heat along his cheeks. “All right, but on my terms,” he said. “Tomorrow morning. I will call you at this number. Be ready.”

The line went silent for a very long moment.

“Very well,” she finally said. “I will wait for your call.” The line clicked and she’d gone.


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