Read The Victim Online

Authors: Jonas Saul

Tags: #Mystery, #Thriller

The Victim (9 page)

 

“I accept this divine mission and will complete it at all costs.”

 

“Praise the Lord,” Simon said, raising his hands above his head. “We will pray for you, Brother Thomas.”

 

“Then I will see all of you in the home of our Lord.”

 

Simon turned his attention to the other three brothers. “Our next meeting will be at His table. We are invited to a feast, but first, we have business here in Toronto. Sarah is downtown in a hotel. I don’t have the exact hotel. Some of Matthew’s information is being blocked, but I do have the information we need to successfully send her home. We need to plan this together and then leave at once. A Detective Waller will be visiting her shortly. We’re to report to the corner of Yonge and Bloor Streets. There’s supposed to be an accident there after nine p.m. this evening, and Sarah will be present, as will we.”

 

Andrew raised a hand. “Can you tell us why Matthew is being blocked?”

 

Simon shook his head. “It’s unprecedented. I can’t explain it. All I know is that we have all the information we need to execute God’s plan. Are we ready to finish this?”

 

The apostles nodded in unison.

 

“Good. Now, Brother Thomas, let’s get you ready and send you off first. Then the rest of us can head downtown. It’s time to send Sarah Roberts home and finish this. The end is near. The Rapture is upon us and we’re the chosen few. Isn’t it a glorious day?”

 

Simon saw the doubt in James’ eyes, but he knew James wouldn’t last the night. Matthew had explained that James would be killed during tonight’s accident.

 

Oh, it’s going to be a glorious evening.

 

Chapter 11

Sarah slept into the early evening, woke and grabbed the phone. She had to call Waller and set up a meeting.

 

She dialed and got transferred through to Detective Waller’s cell phone after five minutes of struggling to get past the gatekeepers. They said he was too busy to take personal calls. Then she was told he was simply too busy, even though Sarah explained that she was the one Waller was looking for. Finally, the last woman she talked to wanted to check the veracity of her statement. Sarah told the woman to ask Waller what food stand he had stood inside to ward off the men in overcoats. Once her facts were verified, Waller answered.

 

“Sarah Roberts?” he asked, his voice as deep as she remembered.

 

“Detective Waller. You’ve pissed me off.”

 

“How’s that?”

 

Sarah got up off the bed to scrounge up the rest of her clothes. The police would trace the call and be on their way. If this conversation didn’t go her way, she wouldn’t be here when they arrived.

 

“You announced to the world that I’m a person of interest. You let them show a clip of me defending myself from those murderers, but made it look like I was the aggressor. You were there. You saw as well as I did what happened. I had nothing to do with it. In fact, the only reason I’m not in custody is because I ran for my life, as you did.”

 

“I was informed by Hank Frommer and his team that we were there to apprehend a sex offender. When those men entered the scene … well, let’s just say you were a prisoner of Hank Frommer’s and now you’re free. It all adds up. Come on in so we can talk about it.”

 

“I wasn’t a prisoner. Hank had snatched me, kidnapped me. I have proof. Ask Drake Bellamy. We were having dinner together a week ago at the Old Spaghetti Factory on the Esplanade when Hank stormed in and took me. There was a scuffle—”

 

Waller cleared his throat. “Can’t do that.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“If we’re talking about the same Drake Bellamy, he was found face up in Lake Ontario yesterday morning.”

 

Sarah sat heavily on the edge of the bed. “What? No way. He was a fighter.”

 

“A fellow cop did the ID.”

 

“Spencer?” she guessed.

 

“Yeah, how did you know?”

 

After all Drake had been through in the past two months—the Hungarian murderer and then Elmore Ackerman …

 

“Sarah?” Waller broke through.

 

“What?”

 

“We have to meet.”

 

Her head cleared for a moment. She would grieve later. Even though she didn’t really know him, she still felt a certain loss. “Why the campaign against me? I ran. You saw that. Those men came after me, too. I pricked one with whatever they had in their hands in the sporting goods store. A female employee saw the whole thing. I’m clean of this. Everything I did was in self-defense.”

 

Outside noise like a car going past him made his voice unintelligible.

 

“What did you say?” Sarah asked, heading for the bathroom.

 

“I have a lot of good men who died today. It’s a fucking zoo around here when a cop is killed in the line of duty, but when this many are killed, the force goes nuclear looking for answers. I’m your only hope. Come in, sit down, tell me everything. Let me keep you for a couple of days to guarantee your safety and then you can head home, providing you actually have nothing to do with those guys.”

 

“And if I don’t come in?”

 

“There are thousands of cops who will hunt you down for a long time just to get the answers I’m looking for. There would be an accident …” he trailed off. “Look, Sarah, if you leave, it looks bad. You know how this works. What the media showed tonight on camera makes you look guilty. Meet with me. Then I can clear your name and you’re free to go.”

 

She stared at herself in the mirror. She hated cops and how they operated. If they could only trust her for a change. That she would have anything to do with what happened at the mall was preposterous.

 

“Do I need a lawyer?”

 

“Only if you want one. I won’t advise against it, but you’re not being charged with anything at this time.”

 

“Do you know if Officer Parkman is still in Toronto? He was helping Spencer, Drake and me last month on the Elmore Ackerman thing.”

 

“I looked him up yesterday when Hank called to tell us about the Allandale Centre meeting. Hank said you would be there, even though you were supposed to be dead. I had questions no one could answer. Parkman had just gone to your funeral and was headed back to Toronto to look into what had happened. All I know is that he’s hanging around somewhere, supposedly looking for you.”

 

She had no choice. She had to meet Waller. She would be safe in the police station. Running in this situation would not work.

 

“Okay. Find Parkman for me and I’ll come in.”

 

“No, you need to come in now. We can find Parkman later, when you’re secure.”

 

She thought about it for a second and realized it would be better to get this over with.

 

“Fine, but I only meet with you. You do the pickup alone.”

 

“Why? I was coming alone anyway.”

 

“I don’t trust cops. If I see uniforms, I’m gone.”

 

“It’s safer this way. Tell me where you are and I’ll come get you.”

 

“I’m at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel on Yonge, just north of the Allandale Centre. How long before you can get here?”

 

“On my way. Be there in ten minutes, say around ten minutes to nine.”

 

“I’m warning you, Waller. No surprises.” As an afterthought, she added, “And no handcuffs. Sick of those things.”

 

“Fair enough.”

 

He clicked off.

 

What have I done?

 

Chapter 12

Simon sent Brother Thomas on his way in Brother Andrew’s car. He would be at Dolan’s before the next morning. By tomorrow evening, Esmerelda and Sarah’s parents would be sent home. Everything was coming together better than he thought.

 

They ordered a taxi an hour ago and now walked around the Toronto Public Library, a block up from Yonge and Bloor. Simon’s watch said 8:47 p.m.

 

“It’s almost time. Does everyone have their needles ready?”

 

Philip, Andrew and James all nodded.

 

“Good. Tonight will be a glorious night.”

 

“I have a question,” James asked.

 

“Go ahead, my brother.”

 

“When Sarah has been sent home, are we going to, you know?”

 

“I have no further instructions from Matthew. That tells me our mission is over. Unless he contacts me within the next,” he made an exaggerated pull on his sleeve to check his watch, “ten minutes or so, we use the final syringes on ourselves. Gentlemen, tonight we dine with the Lord.”

 

“Hallelujah,” Andrew and Philip said in unison.

 

“Hallelujah,” James chimed in a moment later.

 

“Okay, let’s go inside the library and use the washroom to get ready. If anyone tries to stop us, use the extra syringes in your pockets. This mission cannot be a failure. Sarah Roberts is our target, and we have foreknowledge of where she’ll be in fifteen minutes, praise the Lord. Let’s do this right.”

 

The apostles followed Simon into the library where they applied the rice powder paste, donned their toupees and contact lenses, and prepared for their last battle on earth.

 

Chapter 13

Sarah was dressed and ready to go within minutes. She stood by the hotel room window, looking down at Toronto at night. Too bad she couldn’t explore the city, tour it like regular folk. Too bad she couldn’t tour it with Drake.

 

Her eyes glazed over. She had felt something for Drake, considered getting more serious with him. She wondered if his death had anything to do with her. Could it have been the men from the mall? Did all those cops die because some rogue band of hit men was hunting her? She was leaning toward that assumption after the ugly one had motioned for her to come to him.

 

She shuddered, knowing she couldn’t begin to believe that, though. Too many dead to be on her conscience. She wouldn’t shoulder that weight.

 

Her hand went numb for a moment.

 

“What’s does that mean?” she said to the empty room. “Why keep making my hand numb, Vivian?”

 

Then she passed out.

 

A moment later, Sarah awoke, her hand sore. The hotel stationery and pen sat on the floor beside her. She flipped the thin pad over and examined the message from Vivian.

 
 

After the accident, stand in the middle of the intersection. Shut your eyes. Do not waver. Do not move. Do not use the gun. Kill no one. Be the victim. Do this or you will die. I can’t save you otherwise. There is no other choice. I’m sorry.

 
 

Sarah let the note slip from her hand.

 

After the accident … stand in the middle of the intersection?

 

“Suicidal much? How am I supposed to do that? And for what?”

 

Don’t use gun? Kill no one?

 

“What gun? Kill who?”

 

She looked around the room as if Vivian was there with her.

 

“I have no play here, do I? Just offer myself up. Stand in the middle of a busy intersection … fuck!”

 

She fixed her shirt, straightened her pants and left the hotel room. The stairs would be faster. At the first floor, she looked out the side exit, saw no one waiting, and then headed down the long hallway of the first floor.

 

Near the lobby, she slowed. If Waller was showing up with a bunch of cops, it would only mean he couldn’t be trusted, and Sarah would not go with him.

 

A woman sat on one of the couches with her son, who looked to be about six or seven years old. The woman checked her watch and then stared at the windows.

 

Sarah moved into the lobby.

 

“Can I help you with anything?” the same clerk asked.

 

“No, I’m fine. Just meeting friends for a drink.” Then she added to the story set in place by Dolan. “Before my father arrives.”

 

“Well, if you need anything, Sarah Roberts …” he paused to let her name sink in. “Just let me know.”

 

She stared at him. With every cop for a thousand blocks wanting to get his hands on her, she wondered if the clerk did something stupid and called them.

 

“Yeah, I know,” he said. “Surprised, eh? Read about you last week in our Toronto paper. Congratulations on all that you’ve done for everyone.” He clapped his hands softly. “You’re quite the hero around here. It’s an honor to meet you.” He leaned in and looked around conspiratorially, a hand half covering his mouth. “I don’t believe their version of events at the mall, either. You’re too good for that.”

 

He stood back to his full height and adjusted his jacket, smiling, proud of himself for figuring it all out.

 

She had no idea how to handle adoration. She wanted to slap him for exposing her. She wanted to scream at him because he had no idea how dangerous her life had been, how many people have died in her past and how many times she had been shot and almost killed.

 

But most of all she felt sick. The media glamorized the violence she lived with everyday. It was her choice. Vivian worked with her. She felt duty bound to help, but she wanted obscurity, not popularity.

 

When this was all done, she would have to go on the road. She would travel to places where no one knew her. It would be better. For everyone.

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