Title of Story: Sacrifices to a Worthy Cause

Author: Joel T. Kant

Date Written: August 2000, heavily modified March 2, 2019

Chapter Title: Fire

Chapter Number: Ten

Copyright: (c) March 2, 2019


As Fritz reached the front door of the motel, he saw the yellow sedan pulling out of its spot. Jason drove while Joyce sat in the passenger seat and Iris in back. Fritz waited so they couldn't see him exit the building, then hurried out.

Fritz straddled the motorcycle. This was John's, which was a different make from his own. He had the key, but had to look for the key slot for a couple seconds since not where he was used to it being. He found it and turned the key. Fritz pushed the electric starter button. The engine roared to life.

Fritz hurried down the road. He passed several cars, but didn't see the yellow one. He was about to give up when a full block ahead, he saw it turning left. Rather than wait to drive up to that block, Fritz turned in the same direction on his block.

He thought about how tricky it was doing this kind of trailing. He and John had been trained to use multiple nondescript cars when trailing somebody, switching continually the car doing the actual following. That made it very hard for the person being trailed to realize it was happening. Being a lone rider on a motorcycle was very much worse. At the next intersection, he glanced down the road. He saw the yellow car continuing on straight. He continued straight on his block. At the next block, he didn't see them. He turned and came up toward their block. He saw the car at an auto parts store. As he watched, three figures returned to the car. They carried red gas cans. The figures got in the car. The car headed back in the road. Fritz stayed where he was. The car went only a short distance, then pulled into a gas station. Soon, Jason was filling the cans.

Back in the hotel room, John had gingerly and slowly made his way out of bed. He grabbed his cell phone and dialed Dr. Ruby.

Dr. Ruby asked, "What's up? Keep it short, I'm in a meeting."

John explained, "Jason, Joyce, and Iris left and aren't coming back. They heard the television news with a description and license number of their car. They're going to torch it."

"Torching their car should wipe out their fingerprints," Dr. Ruby admitted. "That they are going to some other location is a big problem."

"Fritz followed them on my motorcycle, since I'm not in condition to ride today."

"A motorcycle is a terrible vehicle for tailing somebody. Besides, I ordered you two not to go out in public!"

"I know, but we can't afford to lose them."

Dr. Ruby said, "We should have put a radio locator on their car."

John remembered seeing the yellow car in the lot when they came in as dawn had just started to break. Dr. Ruby, Fritz, and himself had spent hours with Officer McCormick and Chief Clymer arranging things at the Falkowsky house and discussing what would be deliberately leaked to the press. John's head had been buzzing with so many details about that that he'd never thought of placing a radio locator. Then again, he didn't have any.

"Our locators were destroyed with the SUV. Did you have any?"

"No. The point will be moot after the car gets torched anyway. I just hope Fritz manages to follow them without getting spotted. Under the circumstances, he's doing the right thing. To be honest, I'm tired and upset. I just got a lab report on the gas in the canister from your house. It's deadly!"

"How bad?"

"If the Obliterators have enough of this to fill a large car trunk, it might have a range of up to two miles! Even more in a strong wind. Stay in the hotel room. Monitor your cell phone and the motel number. Got a computer?"

"Laptop. As cheap as this hotel it, it does have internet access," John said.

"We'll treat that motel room as an information hub. You stay put."

John gingerly touched his back and winced, "I don't think I could go anywhere today if I wanted to. My back is killing me! I'm paying for overdoing it yesterday."

Dr. Ruby said, "That might keep you from disobeying orders and wandering off. I'm with representatives of another agency to try to get the President's event moved from Port City. Now that I've got a sample of this gas and a report on what it is, they might do it."

Dr. Ruby said goodbye and broke the connection.

John managed to get dressed, but it was a difficult undertaking getting his pants on. Once dressed, he got to work surfing the internet on the laptop. He went through some encryption protocols, then got to an Entangle database. He found out Jason was known to have expertise in explosives, but not in electronics, although he often claimed to be an electronics expert. The most sophisticated electronics Jason was reported as using to date was an electronic garage door opener modified to set off a fuse for an explosive. However, that had had deadly effectiveness. John thought that sounded suspiciously like what was used at the house and easily disarmed.

In contrast, Joyce was not reported to have any expertise in explosives or electronics, but was an expert in karate. She'd killed at least one man in unarmed combat. She and another woman named Karen were recruited by the Obliterators during their senior year of high school in Las Vegas, Nevada. Around the same time, Jason had been the same age and also recruited from high school, but that was a high school in Dallas, Texas.

John looked under the record for Karen. Nothing at all indicated that her real identity was Iris Morrow. There were images from surveillance cameras. These were in color, and the garish red hair coloring was obvious. To him, her face looked in these images a lot older than the three years since he and she had graduated high school, four years for John and Christine, could account for.

John then went to put a bunch of search terms and applied to an algorithm that scanned current media reports. His back had a muscle twitch from the exertion of moving around the room. He could hear various sounds in the hotel. Water ran in a pipe somewhere. He faintly heard a vacuum cleaner. He glanced where the electronic stethoscope lay on the desk. No point in using it now. He felt trapped and wanted to do something, anything, more than using this laptop computer.

On John's motorcycle, Fritz could see the yellow car far ahead. Tailing had become difficult, as this was a desolate part of town. The run-down condition of the buildings made Fritz think of the possibility of all of Port City becoming a ghost city. This thought reminded him of his nightmare and he shuddered. He wished he could call Christine and tell her to get out of town immediately, so at least she would survive.

Few honest people came to this part of town. Fritz worried about that making him easy to spot, so he let the yellow car have a longer lead. He saw the car pull into an alley. He pulled over some distance away and waited. He had been around here before, and was fairly sure that this alley dead ended against a chain link fence. He thought he might have been spotted, and they were setting a trap for him. He waited some more, but neither the car nor pedestrians came out. He smelled smoke before he saw it pouring out from the alley. He pulled his motorcycle up. The yellow sedan was covered in flames at the alley's far end, right up against the chain link fence. He didn't see Jason, Joyce, or Iris. He'd been overly cautious and lost them!

Chapter Eleven--The Prey Escapes

Back to Joel Kant Home Page: Joel Kant Home Page.