Spychip

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 1 (v.1) - Chapter 1

Submitted: March 26, 2019

Reads: 3730

A A A | A A A

Submitted: March 26, 2019

A A A

A A A

Chapter 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Buddy.” The message on the machine sounded desperate. The quivering voice instantly grabbed my attention and the all too familiar prickles of fear accelerated from my hairline to the bottom of my spine at breakneck speed. “I...I think I’m in trouble,” the voice on the other end stuttered. I leaned forward and strained to hear the remainder of the increasingly garbled message. 

The day had begun cool, cloudy - like so many others that spring. Breakfast with Skye, and Laney was rather ordinary; scrambled eggs, toast, a slice of soggy melon, and a Green Mountain Dark Roast-milk, no sugar. Even work was a lot like Groundhog Day; one day melding into the next. 

Working fraud cases for Homeland Security wasn’t the glamorous job one might imagine. Mostly, my work required logging long hours in front of a computer screen searching names and verifying documents. Rarely did I get the opportunity to take part in real fieldwork, other than tightly controlled simulations. That’s why I recall May 17th so vividly - a day I received the phone message that sent my rather mundane existence spiraling out of control.

I had just returned home from an eight-hour shift at the government field office on that mid-May afternoon, quite oblivious to the blossoming lilac trees and the vibrant daffodils showing off their glorious colors intermittently through Skye’s spring flower gardens. 

“But, honey. They’ll be beautiful in the spring,” she pleaded with me while displaying that coyish, shy smile that never failed to melt my heart. I thought back to the previous fall as we slaved away digging up old flower beds and planting, one by one, what seemed like hundreds of new bulbs that she assured me would bloom brightly after the winter snows. 

Skye, my amazing wife of ten years, was an easy-on-the-eyes, petite, thirty something with a perfectly shaped, slightly oval face and a body to absolutely die for. Her shoulder-length, silky black hair, peachy-cream complexion, and piercing dark eyes were like bricks of charcoal, a gift from her Native American ancestors on her mother’s side. 

My wife’s rural upbringing on a large dairy farm located in the far northern reaches of the state provided her with an undying love for the outdoors and all living things, plants and animals alike. Her passion for life, as well as her snappy, firecracker personality were just two of the myriad of attributes that attracted me to her immediately on the day we met.

Ours was a chance encounter, one that changed my bachelor-driven days for good. Little did I know that the spunky beauty I literally ran into at the local coffee shop in town would blossom into the love of my life. Cliche, I realize, but altogether genuine. The chance encounter that began with me slopping a cup of freshly brewed Green Mountain Dark Roast all over the front of her modestly cut blouse, ended in a sincere marriage proposal a scant six months later, and the union blessed us with a now delightful, yet precocious eight-year-old daughter. 

Laney Marie LaPointe was the spitting image of her mother. In turns, cantankerous, sweet, shy, and stubborn, yet in her father’s eyes nothing short of perfection. Her mind whirred constantly, her questions ranging far afield, anything and everything from horses to dolphins, including the earth around her and the vastness of the universe. Together, my girl and my wife made me the happiest man alive.

Once inside my blue-gray, two-story colonial home, I tossed my black suede loafers into the closet next to the front door, tore off my boring, yet tasteful Stafford silk tie, grabbed a Corona from the fridge and plopped into my favorite beige, overstuffed chair in our spacious, family room. Before flicking on the TV to catch the Red Sox replay from the previous night, I noted the blinking red light on the Sony telephone recorder sitting passively on top of the maple, Ethan Allen coffee table just to the left of my chair. Sighing deeply and hoping desperately it wasn’t my boss, I tapped the play button.

DaQuan Nelson was not only my co-worker, he was my best friend. The clean-cut, straight-laced gentleman had moved to my northern Vermont field office just over a year before from a rather cushy desk job where he was immersed in the diversity of Washington, D.C. His smooth, light-brown skin, jacked up pecs, and polished appearance made him a real hit with the young ladies in the office. Unlike me, he was single and preferred it that way. His smoking hot trysts with several of our office’s most eligible female co-workers became typical water-cooler fodder, especially on Monday mornings after his active weekend shenanigans.

For a lot of black men living in an extremely white state, daily life might have had a tendency to be more than a little bit intimidating, but not for Quan. He was gregarious and funny, and he seemed to thrive on adversity. Racist comments and harsh stares were now part of his day-to-day existence in a state that bordered on ninety-eight percent Caucasian. However, he easily shrugged off most of the ignorance. 

 

 

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My attention returned to the telephone recorder as DaQuan’s trembling voice continued. “I stumbled upon a document at work last week... and... I’ve been researching its origin for the past couple of days. It was in my work email, but I don’t think it was meant for me. The sender was anonymous.” 

There was another pause followed by some painfully labored breathing. “You remember the beach house where we hung out last summer?” He paused again. “You can find it there. Just remember, it’s a great place for Monarchs.” More silence. “Gotta go, man. They’ve been watching me for over an hour and now someone’s at my door.” 

The message ended abruptly and for several minutes, I sat there, stunned into total paralysis. The seconds ticked by. Finally, I gathered my wits and dialed Quan’s number; it went to voicemailI called repeatedly over the next half hour, leaving several frantic messages. As I paced back and forth across the plush, tan family room carpet that compressed slightly under my size twelve stocking feet, I fell upon what I hoped was a cogent plan of action. My responsibilities as a fraud investigator required superior and timely decision making abilities and this skill set kicked in quite involuntarily.

 

 

 

 

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Skye and Laney were returning home from swimming lessons at the city pool as I pulled out of my roomy, partially finished, two car garage. We had our spacious colonial built three years earlier and the two-story abode was finally starting to feel homey; comfortable and familiar. The many hours I’d spent toiling in the yard, landscaping and preparing my wife’s flower beds, was definitely paying off. Our little half-acre “estate” was truly taking shape.

The neighborhood was made up of primarily middle-class families, much like mine, mostly professional types, nothing out of the ordinary. There were no hurriedly-built spec homes, In fact, most were architect-designed, making for a wide array of shapes, colors and styles. Our dead-street was the ideal location for settling down and raising a family.

“Hey, Hon. Something’s up with Quan. He’s not answering his phone,” I shouted over the hum of the car engines as Skye’s cobalt blue Honda pulled up in the driveway beside me. She nodded and smiled, conveying her understanding. I waved excitedly to my precious dark-eyed girl in the back seat, blew her a kiss and peeled out with short chirp from my brand new Hakkapeliitta tires, then sped off a little too fast, down the quiet, suburban street.

Quan’s condo was all the way across town; a good thirty-minute drive on most days. Not today, however. I made the trip in just over twenty. As my silver 2012 Hyundai Elantra glided into the courtyard in front of the two-story, ten-unit condominium complex my friend called home, I scanned the area for anything that seemed out of the ordinary. Maybe it was my days as an Army Ranger or possibly my recent Border Patrol training that made me overly cautious. Whatever it was, it proved to be a decision that I am quite certain saved my life.

 


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