Read The Victim Online

Authors: Jonas Saul

Tags: #Mystery, #Thriller

The Victim (2 page)

“Give you what?”

 

“Don’t make me take it by force. I may not be able to control my men. Some of them have urges, working down here night and day.”

 

Sarah smiled. “I have urges too. I see one cock, I break it and kill the man who showed it to me. I get touched inappropriately, I break the hand that touched me. Those are my urges. So, let’s see whose urges are stronger, shall we?”

 

“Hold up,” Hank said. “We aren’t here to see who has bigger balls. We all know what you can do. I was there the night we picked you up, remember? All I want is the note in your pocket.”

 

Sarah checked the corners and upper ceiling. She couldn’t see any cameras.

 

How did he know?

 

“The cameras are hidden,” Hank said. “We’ve been watching you the whole time.”

 

That meant they’d seen her sleep, bathe and use the toilet.

 

“You sick bastard.”

 

“Sarah, come on, don’t be foolish. There’s no way we couldn’t watch you. You’ve been on suicide watch since you came in here.”

 

She pushed her back up the wall to stand. “Why would you have me on suicide watch? I’m not going to kill myself.”

 

“Do you know how many psychics we lose down here after they realize they’re never going to the surface or back home. More than half of them do it for us. But you, no, I want you to last a while longer.”

 

“Fuck you, Hank. I mean that. Really, fuck you.”

 

“Poetic. Sweet. Sincere. Now, give me the note or I will take it.”

 

Four men broke from their rigid positions and moved within a foot of her. Two of the men were sweating as if they were afraid. One of them had a cold stare, and the other looked dead behind his eyes, like he’d shut down years before.

 

Sarah reached for her pocket. A couple of guards flinched, their hands sliding up their weapons.

 

“Take it easy,” Sarah said. “I’m just getting the note.”

 

She reached into her pocket slowly so she didn’t get shot by a nervous trigger finger. When the paper was in her grasp, she pulled it out and rolled it into the palm of her hand.

 

“Hank, I have to warn you about this one.”

 

“Just give it to me.”

 

“No, on this one, you need me.”

 

“Yeah, sure, nice try. Hand it over.”

 

“Hank, listen. Remember what you said earlier about not changing the future? About not altering fate? We’re not God. Remember you said that? Well, I think you’ll need to reconsider.”

 

“Hand it over or it will be taken from you. You’re out of options, Sarah.”

 

“It’s about your wife.”

 

That stopped him. It was subtle. His head rose a notch, eyes widened, and his nostrils flared, then it was gone. “Is this a joke? Did you write it, or Vivian?”

 

“Check the cameras. You saw me write the note. That means you can reference the last five days and see what state I was in when writing the notes that came true. In my automatic writing state, I black out. I can’t fake what I don’t know how to do.”

 

He extended his palm. “The note.”

 

Sarah handed it to the man closest to her. He walked over to Hank and passed it off without looking at it.

 

Hank unfolded the paper and scanned the writing. He looked up, his eyes glazed.

 

“Are you saying this is real?” Hank asked.

 

Sarah nodded.

 

“And to fix this, I need to take you with me? Just like it says here?”

 

She nodded again.

 

“No,” he said. “No, it won’t go down like that. Because if something happens to my wife, then I will kill you, Sarah Roberts. You will cease to be of use to me.” His voice cracked with emotion, but he collected himself fast, afraid or unwilling to show emotion in front of the troops. He backed out of the door, his men following one by one.

 

A moment later, alone, Sarah realized she had touched the one thing that got inside Hank. He did have the capacity to love. He did love. When it came to his job, like most men, he compartmentalized it. Hurting and killing people was what he was paid to do. At his job, people were
something
that had to be dealt with. Anywhere else, people were
someone
. When he was at home, that
someone
was
special,
which was entirely different.

 

Was it enough to get Sarah out of her prison? Would he reconsider taking her along?

 

Something inside told her he wouldn’t and that she would never see the sun again.

 

Or anyone she loved.

 

Chapter 3

An alarm sounded in the complex somewhere down the corridor. With no clock in her cell, the only concept of time Sarah had was lights out, which happened every evening. In the mornings, her cell lights would flicker to life. Currently, her cell had been dark for at least most of the night. The alarm resounding throughout the complex startled her awake.

 

Footsteps pounded down the hall outside her door. Someone shouted. Another alarm, closer, chimed in, adding to the cacophony.

 

If it was a fire, would they release her or let her burn in her prison?

 

She stretched to awaken her muscles and got to her feet. After feeling her way to the door in the dark, she waited. She would use the chaos to her advantage and make a break for it if they opened her door.

 

Someone ran by outside her door. Another man shouted. Her stomach clenched. Every passing second meant they weren’t coming for her.

 

Would Hank let his prized psychic go that easily? Sadly, she realized he probably would. It would save him from having to kill her himself.

 

The door buzzed. It opened slightly, letting in light from the corridor.

 

The tip of a gun entered first. Sarah waited. She needed to see the hand, the arm of her visitor, something she could break.

 

The door slowed, and then stopped. Sarah got ready, but she wasn’t prepared for the door slamming inward. It happened so fast it caught her unawares, banged her arm and shoved her off balance. She dropped to one knee, spun around and quickly recovered, getting back to her feet.

 

Two men stood in the open door. Hank and one of his guards. The guard held the gun.

 

“What’s this?” Sarah shouted over the noise of the alarm in the hallway outside the open door. “Gonna use a bullet instead of cyanide? Coward!”

 

There was enough light to see the look on Hank’s face. He was surprised she knew about the cyanide. He tapped the guard on the shoulder and stepped around him.

 

“Come with us, Sarah,” he shouted as he reached out his hand.

 

“Fuck you,” she yelled back.

 

“Sarah, I need your help. I’ll explain on the way. There’s a helicopter waiting for us. Now, please, we’re running out of time.”

 

He edged closer. She ran through her options. Whether he was taking her to be killed or not, she was dead anyway. If he was telling her the truth and there really was a helicopter, this was her best chance at escape.

 

“Tell dick head over there to put his gun away and I’ll come peacefully.”

 

“The gun isn’t for you,” Hank yelled, his hand still extended.

 

“What?”

 

“The gun is for anyone who gets in our way. Now, come on.”

 

Hank turned for the door and checked the hall. He looked back at her and gestured for her to follow, then left, not waiting to see if she was coming.

 

It hit her like a slap in the face. Hank was breaking her out.

 

Sarah moved. She followed the two men down a couple of corridors and toward an elevator. Hank swiped a card in the reader by the elevator door and a little light flashed green.

 

Wet spots had formed under Hank’s armpits. He brushed aside the wet hair resting on his brow.

 

“What happened?” Sarah asked. “The alarms catch you in the shower?”

 

Hank studied the corridor behind them. His eyes flickered to her and then away again.

 

“There’s a fire in another section. It’s hot down that way.” He glanced at her and shrugged. “I sweat in heat like any other man.”

 

“A complex like this,” Sarah said, waving her arms around, “you’d think they would have safety measures for little fires.”

 

Hank glared at her. “This isn’t a little fire.”

 

The elevator pinged.

 

“You sure we should be taking an elevator during a fire?” Sarah asked. “Don’t they always caution people not to do that?”

 

The elevator doors opened. Hank and his guard stepped inside.

 

“C’mon, Sarah. We aren’t climbing fifty flights of stairs to the tarmac. The fire is contained in another area of the complex.”

 

Sarah stepped inside the elevator. The door closed behind her, cutting off most of the drilling alarm noise. She leaned back into the wall as the elevator ascended. Dozens of questions raced through her mind, but she kept her mouth shut. Whatever was happening, she was being taken to the surface. The way Hank had been talking, she didn’t expect that to ever happen.

 

The guard looked worried. Other than being wet and looking exhausted, Hank appeared relieved.

 

“What’s really going on here?” Sarah finally asked, not able to help herself any longer. She needed to know what to expect on the surface. It had been a week since they had lowered her into the underground complex. Within minutes, she would be outside again in what she guessed was morning.

 

“You’re going to help me save Joan.”

 

“Why? You changed your mind about not altering the future?”

 

“No, I haven’t.”

 

“You’re blubbering.”

 

“I’m what?” Hank asked.

 

“You’re not making sense. Earlier, you said your mandate was to stop people like me. ‘We aren’t Gods,’ you said. What’s changed?”

 

“Nothing’s changed.”

 

“Oh, for fuck’s sake. You’re such an idiot. Do you even know how to talk, how to have a conversation?”

 


I’m
not going to change the future,” Hank said. “You are.”

 

“Me?”

 

“Yes, you.”

 

“How?”

 

“You’re going to approach my wife, threaten her with harm and make her run away before she’s mugged and killed, as your note predicts. That’s you changing the future, not me.”

 

“Is that why you set the fire? To find a way to get me out?”

 

Hank stared at the elevator’s panel without responding. She understood. He couldn’t admit arson in front of a loyal guard.

 

The elevator slowed. The guard moved closer to the door and raised his weapon in preparation of what might meet them on the other side.

 

Hank pulled a pair of sunglasses from his shirt pocket and handed them to Sarah.

 

“Here, put these on. You haven’t seen the sun in almost a week. It might blind you.”

 

Sarah slipped them on.

 

As the door opened, the rotors of a helicopter revved up. Hank grabbed her arm and led her along a tunnel toward the surface, the guard a few paces ahead.

 

The helicopter came into view, a pilot at the controls behind the front bubble window. Sarah examined the area, taking it all in. For every second they were on the surface, she was determined to escape Hank’s clutches. He would never take her down into the bowels of the complex again. There would be no going back.

 

The guard ran ahead toward the helicopter, Hank and Sarah following. The fire alarms were silent out here, but the rotors were too loud to talk over.

 

They hopped in and Hank shut the door.

 

“Go, go,” he ordered the pilot as he tapped him on the shoulder.

 

Sarah sat facing Hank and his guard, who still held his weapon.

 

She grabbed the headset that dangled beside her and placed it over her ears. Seconds later, they lifted off. Sarah glanced out the window and watched the ground move away. The city of North Bay sprawled out toward the lake from the hill where the complex was built.

 

“Why?” Sarah spoke into the microphone that wrapped around her face from the headphones. “Why all the commotion? Just to break me out?”

 

Hank adjusted his headset. “I’d never get authorization to let you leave. Not until you’re either dead or being transferred to the States for testing.”

 

His voice came through metallic, tinny.

 

“Testing?” she asked.

 

He nodded. “We don’t meet many like you, Sarah. There’s been a few, but they’re hard to find. When they’re as good as you, the higher-ups like to examine your brain, you know, find out why you’re able to do what you do.”

 

“This little foray to save Joan … nothing’s changed, has it? When we’re done, you’re taking me back, right?”

 

He nodded.

 

She looked out the window to think. The sun hung low, still before noon. They were flying low over a large lake to her right, southbound.

 

“Let me ask you something.”

 

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