Read The Victim Online

Authors: Jonas Saul

Tags: #Mystery, #Thriller

The Victim (8 page)

 

“Sarah, I don’t see any other play, here. Sure it’ll take a while to work everything out, but at least you’ll be protected while inside. Whoever did this couldn’t have been after you. Everyone thought you were dead. Think about it, you’re the dead girl. Whatever happened at that mall was about Hank or Rod or someone else, not you. Meet with Waller, tell him everything, and I mean everything. You’ll be home by next weekend. Worst case scenario, your parents and I will get a good lawyer up there to bring you home.”

 

Sarah considered what Dolan was saying. He was right. Everyone had thought she was dead. But why did that man beckon to her through the sporting goods window? It felt like they were after her.

 

“You know, Dolan, I never thought I’d say this with how I feel about cops in general, but what you’re saying actually sounds comforting. You’re right, it couldn’t be about me. How could it? I was dead as far as anyone knew. Even if it took a couple of weeks to work out, mall security cameras would have pictures of the men in overcoats. They’ll be able to see that I was running for my life just like the cops were.”

 

“Exactly. Don’t live on the run. This is too big. I’ll marshal everyone from this side of the border to help. Don’t attempt this on your own.”

 

“I wouldn’t be alone. I have Vivian.”

 

“Yeah, but Vivian is there as a conduit to help people in need, not for you to evade the law.”

 


I’m
in need here.”

 

“Call Waller. Arrange a meeting. Don’t have all of Toronto after you.”

 

After a few moments, she sat on the edge of the bed, relieved with her decision.

 

“I will. Hey, did you read any newspaper articles on me this past week?”

 

“You don’t want to hear about that.”

 

“Why not?” she asked, a bit too loud. “Is it going to piss me off?”

 

“They glamorized you, made you look like a gift from God himself, saving people from certain death, kidnappings, and human trafficking, all at the personal expense of being shot, bones broken and nearly dying numerous times. You’re a national hero right now. Don’t sully that by running.”

 

“Shit, I won’t. Don’t worry. I’ll call him right now.”

 

Someone knocked on the door.

 

“Food’s here. Gotta go. Hey, thanks for helping a girl out. I really appreciate it.”

 

“Anytime, Sarah. You’re the daughter I never had.”

 

“Ahh, that’s sweet. You’re one of a kind, Dolan. Gotta run, take care. Life goes on, doesn’t it?”

 

“Yes, Sarah, life goes on.”

 

She clicked off. Another knock at the door, along with a man announcing room service.

 

She tied her wet hair back and peeked through the peephole. It was the guy from the front counter.

 

Sarah unlocked the door, opened it a crack and stuck her hand around the edge. “I just came out of the shower. Can you hand me the plates this way?”

 

“Yes, ma’am.”

 

A warm plate was placed gently into her hand. She squeezed it through the door, set it on the carpeted floor by her feet and reached out again. After all the plates were transferred to her, the hotel clerk asked if she needed salt and pepper. She declined and went to shut the door.

 

“Excuse me, ma’am?”

 

She stopped the door at the last second. “What is it? And stop calling me ma’am.”

 

“You have to sign for the food, ma—” he caught himself, cleared his throat and said, “please.”

 

She shook her hand. “Give it to me.”

 

After being handed the receipt and a pen, she signed for the food and handed it back.

 

“Thank you,” he said from behind the door. “Have a good night.”

 

After he left, she locked the door. Then she picked up the three plates and the bottle of red wine off the carpet, carried it to the bed and dug in.

 

After a couple of bites of chicken breast and a few large sips of the Australian Shiraz, she grabbed the remote and turned on the TV. Two clicks of the channel and it landed CP24. They were talking to a woman live at the Allandale Centre. Sarah stopped chewing as this mother of two recalled what had happened.

 

She lost her appetite when CP24 played the amateur clips from someone’s cell phone.

 

The video captured the men in overcoats, but it also showed Sarah running and the window being shot out of the sporting goods store as Sarah dove to the ground.

 

The news anchor explained that was when the police discovered that Sarah Roberts, previously thought to be dead, was trying to escape and after repeated warnings, had no option but to shoot at her.

 

The amateur video continued. They had caught her shoving a man to the ground in the sporting goods store then running away. The video stopped there, and the news anchor said they couldn’t show anymore to keep the man’s identity confidential until the police notified next of kin. The man died from whatever Sarah had touched him with, the anchor reported.

 

“I was defending myself,” Sarah said to the empty hotel room, her stomach churning. She was no longer hungry. “He was trying to kill me,” she whispered. “Shit, you guys have that wrong.”

 

She took another bite of her chicken because she had to eat. She had no idea when she would eat such good food again. Detective Waller came on camera and explained that Sarah Roberts is a person of interest and that she is armed and dangerous. He warned anyone who saw Sarah—a picture from the mall cameras came on the screen—to call the police.

 

“Do not approach her,” he said, his face close to the camera. He strained to compose himself. “I repeat, do not approach her.”

 

Sarah had to call him. They needed to talk, make this kind of propaganda go away. She would be marked for the rest of her life if she didn’t make it all go away.

 

She grabbed the phone, but her finger hesitated over the numbers.

 

“Shit,” she said out loud. “The receipt for the food. I signed my real name. Damn.” She swiped the half-full plates off the bed where they clattered unbroken to the floor.
 

 

Then she set the phone down and decided to call him after a short nap. She needed to talk to Waller as soon as possible, but didn’t know when she’d get another chance to sleep.

 

This was going to hurt, having to work with the police, deal with them, let them charge her if that’s what they wanted, and then try to get out from under the umbrella of suspicion.

 

It was all because of those white-faced assholes. When this was all over, she would exact justice on them.

 

She needed to live up to the reputation the newspapers had given her.

 

She didn’t play the role of the victim too well.

 

Chapter 10

Simon Peter picked up a piece of paper from the floor. He read the note over a couple of times. He needed to be clear, make sure the instructions were right in his head. He was their leader and needed to always appear confident and sure of himself and his brother. A unified front.

 

When he met Andrew at the Pentecostal church, Matthew had told him that Andrew would be pivotal in reforming the others. Matthew and Simon didn’t have a lot of friends growing up because of their ectodermal dysplasia. Andrew had been popular and had many friends, four of whom were in the church. Men who had stuck by him and were devout Christians.

 

Simon remembered the day he read a note from his brother about Andrew, similar to the one in his hand. Brother Andrew had a skydiving trip planned for later that day with Brother James and Brother Philip. The note had explained that they would all die that day as the Cessna would crash on the runway before takeoff. It would explode as the fuel lines were ruptured, killing everyone on board instantly.

 

After Simon persuaded Andrew with his prophecy, Andrew had cancelled and convinced Brother James and Philip to cancel as well. They went to the small airport to persuade the pilot to stay grounded, but all he did was perform an extra safety check of his equipment and announce his plane was sound. They packed three first-timers onto the plane for tandem jumps and took off as planned.

 

The plane encountered trouble at just over fifty feet. By one hundred feet, the pilot tried to turn around, but it was too late. Simon and his new friends watched as the plane hit hard, exploding upon impact. There were no survivors.

 

They had only told the pilot of their concerns. Since no one else knew about the prophecy, no one asked any questions. It was assumed they were lucky as they had cancelled due to the jitters.

 

From that day on, Brothers Andrew, Philip and James had watched Matthew’s messages come true. They were all convinced that the messages were divine, and if God had chosen them for this path, then nothing could tempt them from it.

 

And now the time had come. The Mayans had predicted it, the Bible talked about it, and now the chosen few were standing up and aiding in the Rapture.

 

Brother John, recently deceased, and Brother Thomas both came aboard with little convincing from Andrew.

 

The Rapturites had formed and were about to embark on their greatest mission yet: to send home as many righteous people as they could touch before they had to go home themselves.

 

However, Simon hadn’t informed them that the last batch of syringes were for the Rapturites. They thought they were gifted, protected, and would continue working for God for quite some time. The truth was, as soon as Sarah Roberts was dispatched, the Rapturites would be no more.

 

For Simon, it was all about Sarah. She couldn’t be allowed to use her automatic writing abilities anymore. Her reign was over, and Simon intended to be the one who ended it.

 

He collected himself, adjusted his robe, and stepped into the living room. His remaining four brothers sat in various states of prayer—Andrew by the balcony door, Philip near the kitchen, James and Thomas side by side on the living room floor.

 

“Brothers,” Simon whispered so as not to jar them out of their moment with God. One by one, they roused and turned to him. He reveled in the power, the recognition. He’d been an afterthought his whole life. His parents were lower educated slobs living on the system who did nothing with themselves. Health care in the States required money, something his parents drank away or shot in their veins. Growing up with their condition, Simon and his brother had hidden from the world until the day they killed their parents in their drunken sleep and got away with it. Now they were free to do God’s bidding.

 

“Everyone, gather around. I have heard from my brother.”

 

He leaned his back against the eggshell white wall and lifted the note.

 

“A man named Dolan Ryan has come to Sarah’s aid. I’m going to need you, Thomas, to drive down to the States and offer Dolan Ryan a pass homeward. If he is helping Sarah, then he’s one of the good ones and God will need him. I have his address as well as an address for a woman named Esmerelda. Matthew didn’t explain her connection, only that she is to go home as well.”

 

Brother Thomas nodded. “It shall be done, praise the Lord.”

 

“That’s not it,” Simon cautioned. “There’s more.”

 

“I’m listening,” Thomas said.

 

“While we remain here and help Sarah on her way, not only will you attend to Dolan and Esmerelda, we need you to go to Sarah’s hometown and send her parents heavenward. Having raised such a good person, we can’t leave Sarah’s parents behind to face the coming Armageddon. Are you able to handle this task?”

 

Thomas nodded. “Willing and able. I will do as instructed by the good Lord, hallelujah.”

 

“You will be provided with all the pertinent addresses, a car, five syringes and enough money to make it south, one way.”

 

“Five syringes?” Thomas asked.

 

Simon smiled, making sure to keep his lips sealed. “Brother Thomas, we’re counting on you to handle Dolan, Esmerelda and then both of Sarah’s parents with the first four syringes. After that, the last one will be to send you home. God is awaiting you, personally.”

 

“But, Brother Simon, I thought we would be acting for God for some time to come …”

 

Simon stepped closer to him. To Thomas’ credit he didn’t move. “Don’t let your flesh and blood rank higher than your divinity.”

 

“I’m sorry—”

 

“Self-preservation is for the weak, the sinners. The Kingdom of God is glorious. We are directly serving Him, working for Him. When your employer calls you home, and it’s the almighty Lord Himself, you answer the call.” He waved his arm in a sweeping motion. “All of you have been chosen. You are the elite, trusted with His mission, His goals.” Simon turned back to face Thomas. “While you take a day or two to complete your final mission,” he shook the paper in his hand, “we’ll be completing ours. By the time you are Raptured, we will be, too. Do not,” he raised his voice as if on the pulpit, “I repeat, do not be sent home by the bullet of the evildoers. There won’t be time to bless you. Entering the Kingdom will become a hardship one wouldn’t care to burden oneself with. Go your own way. Inject at the end.” He slapped his hands together. “We all must inject at the end.”

 

Brother Thomas stepped forward until he was no more than one foot from Simon.

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