Read The Victim Online

Authors: Jonas Saul

Tags: #Mystery, #Thriller

The Victim (6 page)

 

Mr. Howley had been easy. Rod made the calls to the man holding Sarah as requested. They had to hold onto Joan Frommer for a couple of days to authenticate Rod’s claims, otherwise, according to Simon’s brother, they wouldn’t be able to get to Sarah. It had even been Matthew’s idea to inject Joan with a slightly diluted mix so she would take a few minutes to succumb, thereby giving her a chance to see her husband before she died.

 

Simon went over the plans in his head. Everything Matthew instructed had been done. Praise the Lord. But Sarah had gotten away.

 

Next time, they would be more prepared. Next time, they would swoop down like angels, all of them landing on her at the same time. It didn’t matter whether she had multiple injections. Their purpose was divine, their goal heavenly.

 

Sarah Roberts only had days left to live, and Simon Peter planned on helping her to leave this place, or he would die trying.

 

Chapter 7

Sarah walked north on Yonge Street, mixing with the crowds on the sidewalk. She kept herself together until she was far enough away that the sirens faded. She made a quick turn onto Wellesley Street and another into an alley beside a city parking lot, where she found relative privacy.

 

She sat on a wooden bench, brought her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around herself. She had to get it together for the next step. Who were those men with white faces? What did they want and how could they kill so many people so easily, so quickly? All those police officers …

 

She shuddered. With all she had been through in her short twenty-five years, she had grown accustomed to seeing people die, but not that many in such a public venue. She had an issue with cops, even hated them at times, but not enough to wish this on them.

 

Dolan. She had to contact Dolan. Maybe Esmerelda. They could help, offer insight. She would try them before going to her parents, because they would be consumed with grief after having attended her funeral. It would take them too long to come around and start being productive in any way.

 

If Dolan and Esmerelda couldn’t help, the least they could do would be offer shelter until she could locate Parkman. He would help her no matter what. Being a cop, Parkman could possibly pull security footage from the mall or contact the Toronto police and find out who the attackers were.

 

Hank Frommer had died in the mall. She’d seen it with her own eyes. Rod Howley was dead. Was there anyone left in the Sophia Project to come after her? Could that chapter in her life finally be over?

 

A beat-up Mazda pulled into a spot six feet away. The driver watched her too long. She wiped her face and nose, got off the bench and walked the other way.

 

Hank hadn’t given her any money. She still wore the clothes from a week ago when she went to dinner with Drake. She hadn’t eaten since yesterday, and the adrenaline had weakened her.

 

She had to call Dolan. She needed food, otherwise she thought she would collapse. And she needed a coffee, hardcore.

 

She walked back to Yonge Street among the hundreds of people. Her shirt hadn’t been laundered in over a week. Sliding on the mall floor had left streaks of dirt. She shook out her hair, layered it over the side of her face and sat down against the wall of the Scotia Bank at Yonge and Wellesley.

 

After a moment, she rested her hand on her knee, palm up, head down, and waited. Her hand shook uncontrollably. It added to the overall effect of begging.

 

It didn’t take long. A man in a suit walked by and dropped a dollar coin into her hand. Then a young couple placed two quarters there. When they were out of sight, she shoved all the money in her pocket except for a quarter, which she set on the cement in front of her. Then she waited for more.

 

In twenty minutes of resting on the pavement in front of the bank, Sarah accrued seven dollars. She collected the coins, slipped them into her pocket and walked across the street to the Starbucks where she bought a tall dark roast and a banana bread. Then she located a pay phone by the parking lot where she had rested earlier.

 

She downed the banana bread in three bites before she dialed Dolan’s number from memory.

 

After accepting the charges, Dolan’s familiar voice said, “Hello?”

 

“It’s so good to hear your voice,” Sarah said.

 

“Who is this … wait, Sarah?”

 

He sounded incredulous.

 

“The one and only,” she said.

 

“You’re alive!”

 

She pulled the phone away from her ear. “As far as I know. Hey, you’re supposed to be psychic. How come you didn’t know?”

 

“A million questions are running through my head,” he said, ignoring her question. “What happened? You died in a car accident. I was at your funeral. It was horrible. We thought we had lost you.”

 

“Let me guess, closed casket, right?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

She kept an eye on the other side of the street. The last thing she needed was for more white-faced assassins to come up behind her.

 

“It was all a ruse,” she said. “The American government, my own people, snatched me in Toronto a week ago. They flew me up to some compound in North Bay. I got out today.”

 

“Sarah, that doesn’t add up. Why would they
bury
you and then just let you go a week later?”

 

“They didn’t plan on letting me out.”

 

“Oh …”

 

“It’s a long story. I need help. I have no ID, no money and nowhere to go.” She sipped her coffee. It tasted heavenly after a week with only water. “Is Drake still in Toronto? Parkman? I need someone to bring me in, help me get home. I think it’s better if I see my parents and tell them face-to-face what happened instead of telling them over the phone.”

 

“Yeah, yeah, I understand. Look, I’ll make some calls.” He paused. “I heard you sip something. You got a drink without money?”

 

“I panhandled for the money.”

 

He didn’t say anything for another moment.

 

“Sarah, Sarah, Sarah …”

 

“What?” She could see him shaking his head.

 

“Nothing. Are you in danger right now?” Dolan asked.

 

She scanned the street in both directions.

 

“Probably, but I’m not sure.”

 

“Okay, look, I’ll call and book a room for you in a hotel. Put dinner and other expenses you need on the room. My card will cover it. In the meantime, I’ll get Drake or Parkman or someone familiar to come meet you.”

 

“Sounds good.”

 

She told him where she was, and after searching the Internet, Dolan suggested she stay at the Courtyard by Marriott just south on Yonge. By the time she walked there, he would have the room booked.

 

“Oh, and Dolan, book it in your name for two people. Tell them that your daughter is checking in before you arrive. Remember, I have no ID on me.”

 

“Okay, and call me back when you’re in the room, safe.”

 

“Done.” Sarah hung up.

 

She walked away from the pay phone and sipped hard on her coffee, already feeling more alive.

 

Things would work out. The government wouldn’t be after her anymore. She could rest easy. Hank and Rod were dead and with the world thinking she was also dead, there would be no more adversaries. She could slip back into her old life and start helping people again … anonymously.

 

Something Hank said earlier entered her mind. He had called her a ‘victim.’ Was she? Would it always be about her trying to stay alive? Or could she put together something of a normal life?

 

She filled her mouth with coffee, swished it around slowly and let it warm her insides on the way down.

 

Everything would work out. She would leave Toronto, go home and start over.

 

But first she had to find out who those guys with the white faces were. That kind of slaughter couldn’t go unanswered.

 

And Vivian had some explaining to do.

 

Chapter 8

Simon Peter entered the apartment first. He removed the eviction notice on the door. They were behind in the rent, but where they were going, it wouldn’t matter. There were no credit checks in heaven.

 

After removing his jacket, he opened the red wine to give it time to breathe before his apostles joined him for communion.

 

He performed the meticulous task of setting the bread and wine glasses out so when they all showed up, he would be ready for their meeting.

 

He undressed, slipped into a brown robe and sat cross-legged in the middle of the living room to pray. After ten minutes, he was so wrapped up in prayer, he didn’t notice Philip and Andrew enter, followed by Thomas and, a few minutes later, James.

 

Movement in the kitchen disturbed him. He summed up his final words and asked God to see him through his mission of sending His children home. Then he asked for his brother Matthew to be more forthcoming, offer more information during their sessions and allow them to continue their mission unimpeded.

 

“In Jesus’ name, amen.”

 

Simon opened his eyes. The apostles stepped into the living room and sat in a circle around him. James held a silver tray with the wine already poured into tiny shot glasses, and the bread. As Simon joined the circle, James handed the bread and wine to each of the men. Once everyone was in position and held their bread and wine, Simon was ready.

 

He held up the bread. “This is the body of Jesus that was broken for you. Take this bread in remembrance of him.” Everyone touched the bread and closed their eyes as Simon had instructed them. They chewed it and swallowed.

 

He could see the strained look on all their faces. He would have to answer for the death of two of their own soon to maintain control and order.

 

He held up his wine. “This is the blood of Jesus that was spilled for your sins. Take this wine and drink it in remembrance of him. Let the wine absolve you of sin and allow you free entry into the Kingdom of God.”

 

His apostles tilted their heads back, closed their eyes again and drank the wine. Their glasses empty, James collected the refuse and discarded it in the kitchen before returning to the circle.

 

They had no use for furniture. Simon ordered everyone to sleep on blankets as Jesus once did. The apartment was rented as a meeting place. Once the lease was signed, they hadn’t paid any rent after the first month. They were due to be evicted within a few weeks, but Simon didn’t care. Their mission for God would be over by then.

 

He examined their eyes, moving along the circle, one by one. It was good to see they had all removed their hairpieces and contact lenses as he’d instructed. They couldn’t allow the forces of evil to spot them near this apartment after being seen at the mall.

 

Philip appeared content, eager to listen to more of Simon’s words. Andrew seemed calm, as well as Thomas. After what they had just been through at the Allandale Centre, Simon was elated to see they weren’t allowing it to affect them in a negative way. After all, they worked on divine tasks. No human judgment could render that less powerful. Simon had been quite clear in the weeks leading up to today’s outing.

 

It was James who appeared the most out of sorts. Discontent tensed the lines of his face. Simon allowed James the time to work through his emotions as they discussed what had happened and what they were going to do to right the wrongs that had been brought upon them.

 

“My fellow men,” Simon started, “we are gathered here today minus two. Our beloved brother, John, has departed for the great hereafter. We mustn’t be selfish and mourn his loss. We need to rejoice in the knowledge that he’s home, in a better place. He has been taken in the Rapture.” Simon scanned their faces slowly as he talked. “We have lost Brother Michael, too. We are further blessed for having worked side-by-side with such loving, caring men and I thank the Lord for having known them. Please pray for their wonderful reception in the Kingdom.”

 

Simon lowered his head and whispered a pray for John and Michael. Soft whispers emanated from his fellow brothers. A chorus of amens filled the room as they finished.

 

“Simon?” Philip asked. “Permission to speak.”

 

“All of you,” Simon said, his hands raised, “have permission to speak. Let it out. Tell all. What’s on your minds?”

 

Philip cleared his throat. “Have you heard from your brother Matthew?”

 

Simon shook his head. “Not yet. But rest assured, Brother Philip, I will.”

 

“Can you tell us went wrong?” Andrew asked.

 

“Circumstance.” Simon got to his feet. He needed to show them confidence and power. He needed to instill the right words to keep them rooted in faith and he couldn’t do that sitting cross-legged in their circle. “Circumstance halted our mission.”

 

“Circumstance?” James asked, his voice wavering.

 

“Yes, Brother James. It is unfortunate that Sarah fought back. We didn’t expect that much resistance.” He was careful not to say
he
didn’t expect it, showing weakness in solidarity. Including them in the expectation made them part of the collapse of the mission. “However, we did expect Sarah to run. We’ve all read about Ms. Sarah Roberts’ good deeds.” He talked with his hands, moving them with his words, his Italian blood showing through. “We all know that she is truly one of the good ones. That is why she needs to be taken home to be with our Lord.”

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