Art Adkins
Author & Leadership Instructor
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Mindwalkers- Chapter 33

Chapter 33

“He’s leaving.  My source tells me he’s jumping a plane for South America in less than two hours.  If you’re gonna talk to him you better move quick, Big Man.  He’s not gonna sit around and wait on you.”  Bobby Leak looked at his ex-boss with urgency in his eyes.  He had worked for Dustin Zane when they were guarding a Saudi Arabian Sheik.  What he had learned about dignitary protection and security protocols, he had learned under the watchful eye of Dustin Zane.

“Do we have an eye on him?” asked Dustin Zane.

“You taught me better than that.  Of course.  I have the triangle triple safe method in place.  All points on the compass covered.”  Bobby was already walking to the door.

“Let’s go.” 

Dustin Zane and June followed Bobby down to a Land Rover that was parked around the corner.  A thick layer of dust concealed whatever the true color of the original paint was.  It resembled a moving sand dune more than a motorized vehicle.  The windshield wipers had peeled away some dirt so they could see.

Bobby followed some winding roads out of town, until they reached the outskirts.  A series of small adobe buildings lined both sides of the street. 

“Not the best section of town.”  Bobby pulled over to a curb.  “He’s on the second floor of the third building from the end.  He’s by himself.”

“Any possibility he’ll be alerted to our presence?” asked June.

“No.  He feels secure here.  He’s eluded INTERPOL and Morocco doesn’t ask too many questions.  Other people’s problems are just that – other people’s problems.  It’s a don’t ask, don’t tell philosophy.”  Bobby turned the vehicle off.  “Look under the seat and grab the weapons.  We may need them.”

June pulled a small canvas bag from beneath the seat and started rummaging through the sack.  They had elected to leave their guns on the Tross, since they had to clear Customs when they entered the city.

“This must be for you.”  June handed Dustin Zane a .45 revolver with a six inch barrel.  A shoulder holster with two speed loaders were also passed forward.

“Figured you would like familiar hardware.”  Bobby smiled over at Dustin Zane.

“Thanks.  Kinda like comfort food – makes you feel better.”

June slipped a Glock .40 into the back of his waistband. 

“Time to move.”  Bobby was the first out of the vehicle.

The three men split up and drifted to the front of the building.  June walked in and went immediately to the rear.  The three men Bobby had stationed on the perimeter remained in place, in case Terry Taylor managed to get by them.  Dustin Zane and Bobby took the stairs and quickly covered the distance to the second floor.

Dustin Zane moved to outside the door of Taylor’s room and tested the handle.  It was locked.  Stepping back, he lashed out with his foot and sent the door spinning into the room and quickly spun back to the side of the wall and about four feet from the opening.  A series of quick spits were heard and holes were punched into the wall opposite Taylor’s room.  Bullets kicked pieces of wood off the wall next to either side of the door.  Taylor was a professional and he knew whoever kicked the door had moved away from the opening. 

Dustin Zane and Bobby nodded to each other and they both assaulted the door at the same time.  Dustin Zane was the first through and he saw the back of Taylor climbing out the window and moving to the fire escape.  Taylor started down until he saw June.  They exchanged gun shots and Taylor headed for the roof.

“Stay here.  I’ll cut him off on the roof top,” said Dustin Zane, sprinting for the door and running to the inside stairwell.  Reaching the roof simultaneously, Dustin Zane called out for Taylor to stop.  The fugitive turned and fired several quick rounds before jumping from one roof top to another in a headlong flight to escape.  Dustin Zane took off in quick pursuit. 

Reaching the edge of the roof he could see Taylor running across the top of the opposite building.  Jumping onto the next building, he gave chase.  Glancing down he could see that June and Bobby were paralleling his course on the ground.  Focusing on Taylor, Dustin Zane saw him jump onto the next rooftop in his effort to put some distance between him and his pursuers.  Dustin Zane did not hesitate but stayed after him.

Moving onto the third rooftop, Dustin Zane froze and moved to cover.  There were huge storage ceramic jars on the rooftop, probably to catch rain.  Each one was over nine feet high and capable of concealing a man.  Brightly colored, each was decorated with an ornate pattern and seemed to tell a story.  Unfortunately he did not have time to appreciate the effort of the artist.  Somewhere within the maze of water jugs was Taylor lying in ambush. 

Dustin Zane moved forward slowly, listening for any sound and alert to catch any movement.  Stepping back from the water jug in front of him, he stopped to see what position the sun was in.  Shadows would work in his favor.  Sounds to his left. A boot scraping.  It could be a trap, a purposeful move to draw him in.

Dustin Zane moved in the opposite direction and carefully circled around to his right.  Being careful to keep the edge of the roof at his back, he was able to focus on the hiding places in front of him.  No one could get behind him, because there was not room.  This allowed him to deal with any threat directly in front of him.  An age-old tactic of using the environment as a back-up – eliminate the possible hiding places allowed you to focus on the possible threat directly in front of you.

Moving past a water jug he saw Taylor.  The killer was facing away from Dustin Zane and occasionally the assassin would drag his boot slightly across the rooftop to make the sound he had heard earlier.  Most people would have rushed to the sound thinking Taylor was getting away.  They would have been killed immediately.

Moving up behind Taylor, Dustin Zane cocked his forty-five and placed it behind his head. 

“Don’t move or I’ll kill you.” 

Dustin Zane was rewarded with seeing the assassin freeze and he slowly dropped his gun to the rooftop. 

“What do you want?  I know you’re not a cop, because you didn’t shoot back at me.  Most cops would’ve used the chance to fire a couple of rounds since they spend so much time on the range.” 

Dustin Zane shoved Taylor forward and pinned him against the water jug directly in front of him. Running his hands over the man’s clothing, he was convinced the killer did not have any more weapons.

“I need some information.”

“Don’t we all.”  Taylor turned around to face Dustin Zane.  “I know you.  You’re a long way from home.  Not many friends out here.” 

“I have enough.  Now about that information.”  Dustin Zane holstered his gun and tensed for what he knew was coming next.  He did not have long to wait.

Seizing what he thought was an opening, Taylor shot a quick left jab at Dustin Zane’s chest.  Deflecting the blow, Dustin Zane slammed a right hand to the side of Taylor’s head, sending him crashing to the rooftop.  Immediately the fugitive was on his feet, shuffling his feet and dropping into a combat stance.

“Not bad for a man of your size.  You’re quicker than I anticipated.  But your height and weight will slow you down.  You’re not as fast as I am and that will prove to be your undoing.”

“I’ve heard that before.”

Dustin Zane advanced slowly.  The way Taylor was moving indicated he had some form of martial arts training.  The way he slid his feet along the rooftop was a telltale clue he was as quick with his feet as he was his hands.  Stepping closer, Taylor proved his assumption correct.  Taylor spun to his left and tried to deliver a round house kick to his head.  Dustin Zane parried the blow and delivered a front kick to Taylor’s chest when he came out of his spin, which sent the man flying across the deck.

Stepping forward, Dustin Zane heaved him to his feet and two quick punches to the man’s upper torso drained the fight out of him.  Gasping for air, Taylor was raising his arms in submission.

Dustin Zane dragged Taylor to the edge of the rooftop, gripped his wrists and dangled him over the edge.  June and Bobby were on the ground looking up.

“Why is Gunter amassing mercenaries?  What’s the target and where are they going?”

“You want drop me.  You play by the rules.”  There was some doubt in Taylor’s eyes as he glanced down.  Two stories was a long way to fall.

“You don’t know me.”

Without another word Dustin Zane turned Taylor loose.  The man screamed as he fell and the thud striking the ground was sickening.  The impact probably broke one of his legs. 

Taking his time, Dustin Zane retrieved Taylor’s gun.  It was a Glock specially fabricated to fit Taylor’s specifications.  The weapon was extremely balanced and the slide had been polished.  Working the slide, Dustin Zane was amazed at how smooth the gun was.

Walking down the stairs, Dustin Zane strode up next to June and Bobby who were staring down at Taylor.  Taylor was laying on the street, suffering from a compound fracture to his right leg.  The killer was in obvious pain and trying to find some position of comfort. 

“Now.  Let’s try this again.  Why is Gunter hiring mercenaries and where are they going?”  Dustin Zane had moved up next Taylor.

“Why should I tell you?”

“Because if you don’t, I’ll take you back up to the rooftop and throw you off again and I’ll keep repeating the procedure until you tell me what I want to know.  For you it makes sense for you to tell me what I want to know.”  Dustin Zane smiled at Taylor.

“If I tell you, will you let me go?”

“You’re in no position to make deals.  I make the rules, you play by them.”  Dustin Zane stepped forward and placed his boot on Taylor’s fractured leg, applying pressure.  Taylor screamed in pain.  “I need answers.”

“Stop!  Stop!  I’ll tell you what you want to know.”

Terri Taylor was very talkative and intent on avoiding any more bodily harm.  Like most killers he was adept at administering pain and suffering, but could not stand the thought of it being applied to him.

“Why is Gunter hiring mercenaries?” asked June.

“For a job in Colombia.  A research lab deep in the jungle,” answered Taylor, squirming to free his injured leg from under Dustin Zane’s boot.

“Where in the jungle?” asked June, kneeling down.

“Near a tributary that leads to the Amazon River.  It’s very remote and accessible by one road.  Please get off my leg,” pleaded Taylor.

“Why does Gunter want the research lab?” asked Bobby.

“Because they have an antennae array he wants.  I don’t understand everything he’s talking about, but I know he wants some equipment they have.”

“Equipment for what?” June was becoming irritated.

“For mind research.  I don’t know a whole lot about it.”

“When are they due to arrive in Colombia?” asked Dustin Zane.

“They’re probably already there.  I was supposed to meet up with them before the assault, but had some things I had to finish here.  That’s all I know.”

“I need the coordinates and where you were going to meet them.”  June reached out and started searching Taylor’s pockets.

“We were meeting in Bogata.  Here, here is the longitude and latitude.”  Taylor removed a small piece of paper from his shirt pocket and gave it to June.

“Do you know where Slade Lockwood is?” asked June.

“No.”

June stood up and shrugged to Dustin Zane.

“Are the coordinates good?”

“They appear to be.  I’ll check them when we get back to the Tross.” 

Dustin Zane grabbed Taylor and helped him to a standing position.  “Time to go for a ride.”    

Stopping in front of the local police station, Dustin Zane walked around to the back of the SUV and opened the back hatch.  Taylor was bound and had been thrown into the rear. 

“I thought you were gonna let me go.  You can’t turn me in.”

“I never said that.”  Dustin Zane reached in and pulled Taylor out, letting him fall to the ground.  The impact caused him to cry out in pain again and Taylor rolled around in the dirt.

Grabbing Taylor by the collar, he dragged him inside and dropped him near the front desk.  Two uniformed policeman warily moved forward. 

“This man is a fugitive, wanted by INTERPOL and a host of other countries.  His name is Terri Taylor.”  Dustin Zane scribbled it down on a piece of paper and handed it to one of them.  Turning toward the door, Dustin Zane had taken several steps before he was stopped by the nearest officer.

“Wait.  You cannot leave.  We need to get your name and information.”  The officer spoke with a clipped English accent.

“Why?  Your bosses would look favorable upon the officers who captured this man.  He is wanted for murder in several countries.  How about an anonymous tip led to his arrest?  You will probably be promoted.”  Dustin Zane smiled at the two men and could see the realization of his words sinking in.

“Good day to you.  May your journey be safe and prosperous.”  The two policemen moved to Taylor and snatched him to his feet.  “It’s a shame you resisted us and had to be harmed.  Perhaps next time you’ll come peacefully.”

Dustin Zane left the police officers as they were tossing Taylor into a cell.  His cries for help could be heard all the way out the door. 

“We need to contact Slade.”  June had spoken the second Dustin Zane was seated in the SUV.

“Agreed. 

The flight had been long and tiring.  Ralph had been kept busy with his origami.  Several of the passengers next to him had been impressed with his creations and he had given the figures to them as gifts.  Rachel was ecstatic Ralph entertained himself during the trip and was thankful the other passengers had shown an interest. 

Rachel stared at her son as he folded the pieces of paper, his head occasionally lolling from side to side.  He was so different, but so much like other young men his age.  He wanted to be loved and told he was special, to feel others cared for him and feel respected.  Rachel knew he would never be able to live on his own and would always be dependent on Ben and her.  It was a responsibility she embraced.  Ralph was special and a gift. She would be there for him.

The landing in Washington D.C. went without mishap and Rachel had to continuously calm Ralph down while they were checking into their hotel.  He wanted to go immediately to the White House.  Raph practically ran out of the lobby to the cab when Rachel told him they would go to the White House.  Ralph constantly clapped his hands and patted Rachel on the shoulder.

The cab driver dropped them off near a small shop that sold popcorn and Rachel bought two bags, giving one to Ralph.  She followed him as he tossed the kernels into his mouth.  His pace was brisk and once they arrived at the White House, Ralph stood and stared at the building for minutes, not moving or speaking.  His popcorn was held in his left hand and occasionally he would reach out and put a piece in his mouth. 

“What do we do now?” asked Rachel, walking up behind her son and placing a hand on his shoulder.

“We…wait….wait.”  Ralph smiled at his mother and looked around.  Spotting a bench down the road, Ralph strode over to it and plopped down, motioning for his mother to do the same. 

Rachel seated herself next to Ralph and watched him out of the corner of her eye.  Never before had she seen him so consumed, so preoccupied with a single event.  He stared at the White House, eating his popcorn and sipping from a soda she had bought him.  His eyes never deviated from the structure, but he sat silently, vigilantly watching.  But for what? 

During the course of the afternoon, Ralph never left the bench.  Rachel had amused herself by watching people hurrying past.  Ralph was oblivious to everything but the White House, intently studying people coming and going.  He never complained or fidgeted, but was totally immersed in observing everything around the building.

When the sun started to descend, Ralph stood up and looked over at this mother.

“Can…we….eat….now?”

“You’re ready to leave?”

“Yes…yes.” 

“Do you want to come back later?”

“Not…..later….tomorrow…”  Ralph stared at the White House as he spoke.

“Why tomorrow?”

“Ralph Mind Walker not….not needed…..now….maybe tomorrow…..next day….don’t know….can’t say…..” 

“Okay.  How about steak?  You like steak.”  Rachel looped her arm through her son’s as she started walking to a cab stand.

“Okay…..good…..steak good….”

Rachel rubbed Ralph’s shoulder as she walked with him.  The change that had come over him was so obvious and finally she was able to understand the difference.  Ralph had a purpose, a direction.  She did not know how long he would want to remain in Washington D.C., but she was committed to staying there with him.  The aura surrounding him was positive and influencing him in a meaningful way. 

Rachel smiled to herself and patted Ralph on the shoulder again.

“Okay…steak it is.”

Chapter 34