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It was freezing again. The crazy weather had transformed back into chilly winds and nasty, drizzling rain. I stayed in my car, parked on J. Rose 35, and stared at the long white wall, which was stretching along the street on my right. Inside, I felt just the same way—it was drizzling in my soul and my guilt was biting. I couldn’t stop thinking about Jill and I knew that she was right to hate me.

I glanced at my cellphone. It was almost three in the afternoon and there had been no movement in the area for more than two hours. Some time around noon, I had gone to Napasoq Island to collect my car from the Evidence Department and then I had come right here—to the house of this Menelaus guy, hoping to find out anything that might connect him to the Chinese. The property seemed deserted, however. I was starting to grow impatient already.

Incidentally, the mansion surprised me a lot. I had expected the access to be restricted and a bunch of guards to patrol around with grim faces, earpieces, and huge bulges under their armpits. I had expected some traffic in and out of there but I saw nothing of the sort and there was absolutely no one on the sidewalk. The wall was too high and I couldn’t see what was inside, but what I saw outside was weird enough. The only whiff of security was a dozen or so cameras on top of the wall, pointing in different directions.

Since I had nothing else to do but wait, my thoughts kept turning back to the events of the last few days. I couldn’t imagine why my so-called “clients” were trying to make a mess of my life and why they considered me the right person to take part in their sick plans. My intuition was saying that Bobby and Sharon were kind of rivals in something but, unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out what the rivalry was. Most of all, I couldn’t figure out why they kept stuffing my pockets with money!

By the way, despite her lying, I believed Bobby to a point. She was consistent in her actions, and so far, her demands had been nothing that I wouldn’t do for any of my other clients. Sharon, on the other hand, was something different—she was clearly plotting against me. I was so furious that I felt I would strangle her with my bare hands if saw her again! Unfortunately, the bitch was rejecting my calls and I had completely lost the initiative there. I was afraid that eventually, I might end up in prison because of her.

Nevertheless, she seemed to be an amateur too. The set up with the cars and stealing the cameras afterwards seemed rather improvised. I didn’t know what these things could bring them, but maybe she and her helper had found out about Bobby and they simply wanted to counteract. They couldn’t be sure what exactly I was doing for Bjornson and it was one possible reason for the theft. Unfortunately, amateurs or not, they had managed to mess me up with the Chinese and that was my main concern now. I really hoped the Asians would never find out my true identity because if they did, I was a dead man!

I wearily reached into the glovebox and took a flask of whiskey out. I sipped at the drink and kept thinking. There probably wasn’t much point in my hanging around here all day. In the morning, I had looked up Menelaus on the Internet and realized that there was something rotten about his business. He was the owner of the richest company in Europe and one of the biggest in the world—Global Transportation Service—but a very significant part of his deals was veiled in secrecy. “So this place might be simply a decoy,” I thought, “a house just for people to think there was a trillionaire inside.” In this case, my waiting here would’ve been totally in vain.

“Yet another ‘global’ thing in this stupid case of mine!” I yawned and took another small sip, after which I put the flask away. “But maybe that’s how it goes with such bigshots! Money distort people’s thinking, you know.”

His story, by the way, was like a fairytale. It was the perfect illustration for the idea of Greenland being the land of infinite possibilities. Some twenty-five years ago, he started as a pizza boy: first, he bought a bike, then a van, then the pizzeria itself. Afterwards, he bought some trucks and gradually acquired the entire business of delivering things in Godthab. His firm grew bigger and eventually, the island became too small for him so he bought a ship, then two other ships, then a whole fleet, and began transporting things around the globe.

Then the aliens came. Upon coming, they brought new technologies to Earth, which they wanted to share with us even though we didn’t actually have much to give in return. The newcomers turned out to be a life form based on ammonia, and although they had no problem surviving in our atmosphere, they didn’t feel quite comfortable in it. That’s why they built the CSS—the Couloongs Space Station, and while building it, they “accidentally” knocked our own International Space Station down. The latter fell on Earth in the area of the South Pacific and we never built another one again. Since then, the trade and our other relations with the aliens started happening on the CSS.

Incidentally, we didn’t need the station itself to carry on trade. The Couloongs brought to Earth a new transport technology and they showed us how to assemble docking stations. These are electromagnetic tubes, which shoot entire railway compositions throughout the atmosphere. Up there, in low orbit, there are platforms from which small cargo ships make rounds to the CSS or other platforms. All the confederations on Earth have docking stations now and the new technology effectively sent our old shuttles and rockets into history.

This was actually the moment when Menelaus Henry DuPont stepped up and started thinking big scale. He bought a space fleet and began doing these rounds commercially. Soon his firm grew so much that it virtually monopolized the trade between Earth and the Couloongs. All the while, however, the guy’s name was quite regularly associated with scandals involving exporting forbidden goods to the aliens. That’s probably what all the secrecy was about. He needed it to keep his business away from public attention and retain full control over the trade.

I tiredly checked the time on my cellphone. It was close to three-thirty and I was almost falling asleep. I lifted the flask again but then I restrained myself from having a sip because I had the car. Instead, I just looked thoughtfully at the bottle. It was an original flask of White Bear whiskey. There was a beast on a floating piece of ice on the logo—both being ghosts from the past now. When I was a child, there were many white bears on the island but presently, there were none. The last one died in the Quaanaaq zoo almost ten years ago and arctic foxes, hares, and reindeers followed soon. The climate rapidly changed and Greenland suddenly filled with weird animals like minks, squirrels, silver rats, and others. They came as if out of nowhere, and many of these species had no natural enemies here—the rats in particular. Very soon, they conquered our island entirely.

“Too many things have changed so fast; we didn’t even have time to adapt!” I thought, yawning, and I raised my eyes just in the right moment to follow one of these creatures out on the street. A small rat squeezed out through a hole in the base of the white wall, and after a short hesitation, trotted down the sidewalk. The street was empty and quiet so it stayed at the curb for a while and sniffed at something. Its fur was shining gray with a hint of green at the end of its tail and paws. It looked disgusting!

The rodent lingered for a minute near the storm drain, wondering which way to go; it waved its whiskers; sniffed at the cover; turned around a couple of times to lick the fur on its hip; and then it sharply raised its head to look back and forth, alarmed. Then it suddenly beat it. It vanished in a split second as if dissolving into thin air. Just a moment later, the main gate of Menelaus’ mansion started to slowly open.

I jumped up in my seat, surprised. At first, I impulsively put my left hand on the wheel and reached my right one to ignite the engine, but then I drew back and slid down behind the dashboard. It took almost a minute for the huge gate to open completely and the nose of a black Corvic to crawl out of the yard. The car went slowly ahead but when its back bumper passed the gate line, it suddenly stopped. The driver thrust his head out the side window and looked back at someone who had obviously shouted something to him from behind. This was actually the moment when I almost screamed. The guy was the same one who had set me up and stolen my car at the Red Dragon. I couldn’t believe my eyes! The bastard probably paid regular visits to the house or maybe he even worked there because they clearly knew him inside.

Seconds later, the jerk waved his hand, pulled his head back, and sharply stepped on the gas, leaving the gate to close behind him. I hardly managed to restrain myself from doing just the same thing—revving up my Beijing and pushing it ahead with a hideous screech of tires. Instead, I peacefully started the engine and drove down the street slowly, gaining speed in a gradual manner. Inside my chest, my heart was booming wildly.

I caught up with the bastard after a few blocks without it being too obvious. He headed east on Carpatine Road and then turned north on Langedoc and Rocketeer Bridge. After half an hour, we went out on the First Ring Road and then we turned east along Aqeenaaq Fjord. The man had a pretty nervous style of driving, jumping on the brakes and the gas every other minute, so I had to follow him from far behind. After another half an hour, we stopped by a filthy motel at the end of a small bay in the outskirts of Nuuk, not far away from the Second Ring Road. It was almost five and the light in the sky was already fading away.

I slowly drove by the Corvic, putting on a pair of sunglasses as I did so, and then I tucked the Beijing in the shadow of an old willow a little further down the road. After that, I turned my head to look back. The bastard didn’t even look around to see if he was being tailed. He slowly got out of his car, crossed the road, and stopped at the motel’s office to light a cigarette. Then he simply passed by it and turned the corner toward the back yard.

I jumped out of my car and ran to the place, and then I approached the opposite corner, which was closer to me. By that time, it had completely stopped raining. There was a short alley between the office wall and the motel fence, and when I went through it, a vast open space revealed itself behind. It was a large back yard, where I saw about twenty small bungalows arranged in a chessboard manner. Narrow paths connected them to the main building and the grass between them was trimmed low. There were also a few trees here and there. I was just in time to see the door of one of the bungalows quietly shutting.

I cautiously sneaked along the backside of the office and moved to the other end of the yard, while trying to keep the mentioned bungalow out of my visual contact. After a minute, I warily got closer to the place from behind. The light in the sky was already too scarce for anyone to notice me. A man and a woman were quietly talking inside but their voices were too muffled and I couldn’t grasp a single word.

I nervously wondered what to do. Obviously, there wasn’t much point in me staying here and waiting for the jerk to come out. I knew where he would most probably go—back to Menelaus’ house. In a few seconds, I cautiously sneaked around the corner and moved to the front door, ready to jump back at the slightest noise inside that sounded suspicious. The blinds were down and just a gentle light trickled out along the windows’ edges. I pressed my ear to the window frame and listened tensely. In that moment, the suspicion had already started eating inside me because the woman’s voice sounded so familiar. It was Sharon!

My heart skipped a beat and I pressed my ear harder. I just couldn’t believe my luck! Both the guys I pursued were in there. I kept listening to their conversation, trying to keep an eye on the yard at the same time. In a few minutes, it went completely dark.

“I just don’t know. We should do something about him,” I heard the woman in the bungalow saying.

“I’ll take care of it, don’t worry!” the man replied. “He won’t suspect anything!”

“It must happen discreetly,” she went on, making me wonder who they were talking about. I was afraid it was me.

“I’ll take care of everything. Then I’ll make the…get the dickhead…” I couldn’t grasp these lines very well.

There was a short silence in the bungalow for maybe two or three minutes after the last phrase. I could hear only a quiet rattling.

Then, Sharon’s voice went on again. “You have to be very careful, you know, because the hound dog may eventually get away with it.”

“He won’t,” the man said.

“Well, he did the last time!” Sharon replied, irritated.

“Don’t you worry! He may not even survive until then. The Chinese will probably get him first!”

This time there was a longer silence, accompanied by the strange rattling. I wondered what they were doing in there. After a couple of minutes, the sound became sharper and quicker and I heard Sharon moaning. In the end, the man quietly growled and I heard his voice again.

“Is everything ready with the trip? You got the tickets?”

“Everything’s fine,” Sharon tried to comfort him.

“But you got them, right? We’ll need to disappear right away!”

“I said everything’s fine! Don’t worry! The real problem will be getting from Orfu to Olosega.”

I stirred uneasily at the window because I hadn’t heard of such places. Their voices were so faint—almost impossible for me to hear—and I was afraid I had heard wrong. Or maybe they just meant Corfu in Greece?!

“We’ll come up with something when we get there,” the man mumbled.

“Okay, be careful! This bastard is getting very annoying now!”

“Leave him to me!” I heard something that resembled a kiss and then all of a sudden, a highly stressful noise sounded too close to my ear. The door started to open!

I wildly threw myself back behind the corner at the very last moment. I pressed my back against the sidewall with my heart booming, and then I quietly knelt down to grab a piece of rock from the garden. I had my Glock with me but, unfortunately, I had left it in the glovebox back in the car because I had been afraid I was going to lose the jerk when he vanished into the yard here. It was a very stupid oversight of mine!

I had just stood up, when I heard the door closing again. My body shook with adrenaline, but nothing happened. For about fifteen seconds, which seemed to me like fifteen years, no one came around the corner to shoot me. Eventually, I stepped forward and cautiously peeked out from behind the edge of the bungalow. In the light of the office building, I saw the man turning the corner. He was oblivious to my presence here.

Yet again, I wondered what to do. I waited for almost four minutes for the bitch to come out but she didn’t. There was no sound coming from inside the bungalow and it seemed as if it was deserted. Nevertheless, I knew it wasn’t. I dropped the piece of rock in the garden and took off my jacket and my shirt, put the jacket back on over my t-shirt, and wrapped the shirt around my right hand. Then I sneaked behind the left edge of the doorframe. The light inside was still on. I gave two short knocks on the door with my left hand and listened tensely.

At first, nothing happened. Nothing changed at all and for a brief moment, I thought somehow, I had lost the bitch after all. A few seconds later, however, I heard quiet steps inside and the door slowly opened. I promptly jumped out from behind the edge and grabbed Sharon behind her neck with my left hand, while gagging her mouth with the shirt in my right one. She was so surprised she didn’t even try to scream.

I pushed her inside violently, and just when I was thinking everything was alright and I had begun to wonder how to make her talk, it all suddenly turned upside down. I felt someone sneak up behind me and the situation reminded me very much of the moment when I had lost my cameras. Now, just as then, I didn’t manage to react at all. I heard a brief zipping sound by my right ear and then the world around me sharply went black. Before losing my consciousness, I had enough time only to think that lately, the events in my life had started repeating themselves in a very annoying manner.

©2016 S.T. Fargo

Eurasian Gambit—Chapter 12 | a science-fiction crime novel by S.T. Fargo

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