The Exile: Episode 22

Stunned that the man we had been running from now stood triumphantly facing me, my eyes nervously darted from Jackson to Carmen.

Feeling trapped, I quickly stood up and looked around the room for a way out.

“Might as well get comfortable. You’re not going anywhere,” Jackson said with a smug grin.

I glanced at Carmen, her eyes wide with panic, and slowly sat down.

“Mr. Graves, tracking you and bringing you in to speak with me has proved quite difficult and bothersome. Dear Dorothy was a paranoid creature. It’s just a shame she placed her trust in the wrong people. That misplaced trust ultimately got her killed.”

Jackson leaned back in his chair and threaded his fingers behind his head.

“So what brought you all the way out here?” he asked, after studying me for a moment.

My mind was racing. Fear had always shifted me into high gear.

“Mostly the desire to stay alive and the determination to find out who is behind this,” I said, trying to appear calm while I considered what to do. Funny how you can carry on a conversation while designing strategic plans.

“Why do you believe I’m the one who’s been trying to kill you?” Jackson asked.

I paused then answered,

“All right. If you’re not, then who?”

Jackson smiled and said,

“Oh my. You haven’t figured it out yet, have you?”

Sunlight poured through the large bay window behind him.

“It’s ironic, don’t you think?” Jackson said as he stood. “You have fought, defended, run, even hid to protect yourself, and in the end, the very person who got you involved in the first place has lured you back.”

“Dorothy,” I thought. She had become involved because she smelled a story. Curiosity had led her deep into an investigation that ended her life, here at the hands of this man who stood in front of the large window looking out at a garden thick with willows and flower beds.

“Why me?” I asked, stalling for time.

“Because Dorothy led us to you,” Jackson said as he turned to face me.

“I know that. But why did she lead you to me?” I asked.

“Because she loved and trusted you,” Jackson smirked, leaning over the desk and resting on his knuckles.

“Clearly, it wasn’t because of your quick wit and Sherlock like detective skills.”

I had no escape plan, and I knew that even if we escaped, the entire place was probably wired to alert if we tried to leave.

Glancing past Jackson to the window, I suddenly got an idea, one that Jackson immediately caught.

“Don’t even bother,” he said, waving his finger from side to side. “The garden is full of snipers and guards, each one waiting for a chance to kill you.”

Out of ideas, I let my shoulders sag in defeat.

“Okay. But let her go,” I said nodding toward Carmen.

“I’m not leaving you,” she protested.

“Fine,” Jackson said.

I was surprised to hear him agree to release her.

“Who is behind all this?” I asked, hoping Jackson hadn’t lost his generous mood.

“Won’t make any difference now,” Jackson said turning to face the window.

“Dorothy wasn’t even close to the head of this beast. She only scratched the surface. If she had kept digging, however, she would have discovered that— ”

Jackson’s head snapped back when a bullet exploded through the window, tearing through his skull and burying itself in the desk.

As he fell backward to the floor, commandos in black combat fatigues poured into the garden, dropping guards as they moved in.

“We’re saved.” Carmen exclaimed with delight.

When the gardening staff, arms raised, eased out of a nearby greenhouse, the advancing soldiers turned and opened fire, killing them.

As Carmen stared in disbelief, I noticed that the troopers were fast approaching the window.

“That ain’t the cavalry! We need to run now!” I shouted.

Published in: on November 15, 2011 at 9:35 am  Leave a Comment  

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