BYO Redemption – Part 1

Trudging along a dirt track long since turned to mud by the storm that had been raging for days Greg stopped under the cover of a massive pine tree and pulled the hood of his Army issue poncho back and wiped the moisture from his face.

He stared out at the rain and watched it turn to sleet as the temperature dropped a few degrees. He had been walking for hours and was certain this track would bring him to a main road and the possibility of shelter but he was growing weary.

As darkness descended he caught a glimpse of light out of the corner of his eye and turned to look. Yes, about 100 metres ahead and to his right. A house; maybe a hotel. He pulled his hood up and bent his head against the stinging sleet and ran for all he was worth.

He climbed up onto the tarmac that appeared out of nowhere and ran to the building. It was a pub. Salvation! He entered and looked around. No one but the barman who glanced at him and then went back to washing glasses.

He took off his poncho and tossed it out onto the porch. Shaking off the cold he walked to the bar and ordered a pint and then moved to a table next to a roaring fire in a great stone hearth at the far side of the room. The barman watched him for a bit and then promptly forgot about him.

Pulling his diary from his rucksack Greg began jotting down the minutiae of his day. He hand been in New Zealand for forty-three days and as part of his self-imposed therapy had been recording his every thought and action. When he was done he took out his map and pinpointed his location. He was on the west coast of the south island, headed for Fiordland. If his reckoning was correct he must be on the outskirts of Haast. He inquired of the barman who grunted in the affirmative.

Another three hundred kilometres to his destination then. Nothing compared to the distance he had travelled to get to the Land Of The Long White Cloud. He pulled his sleeve back and looked at the three vertical scars on the inside of his wrist. Would they ever fade?

He pushed his sleeve back down and chided himself for looking at them. He needed to move forward. Put the past behind him. Find himself, if such a thing were even possible. Of course it was. That’s what he was told anyway. He drained his glass and fumbled with the currency in his pocket as he went to order another. Nothing at all like American bills and the coins was even stranger.

He returned to his seat and got out his travel guide to see what he could expect to find in Haast. He needed a roof over his head. Not finding much useful information he went to ask the barman where he could find a bed. He was in luck. The barman had a spare room and would let him have for a nominal sum.

With that settled he went back to his beer and settled in to enjoy the warmth. He looked around at the stag’s heads and rugby posters that graced the walls. He soon felt the call of nature and headed for the loo to relieve himself. Returning to his seat he turned toward the fire to warm his hands. When he turned back he was startled to find a man sitting across the table from him with a benign smile on his face.

Part 2 Tomorrow

Unseen Tides – Part 9 – The End

Opening her eyes the next morning the first thing Jan thought of was checking the answering machine. She was a heavy sleeper and the phone was nowhere near her bedroom.

Wiping the sleep out of her eyes and shuffling into her fuzzy pink slippers she padded to the dining room and looked at the machine. Nothing. She made herself some coffee and sat down at the computer to catch up on her mail.

Her heart wasn’t really in going to Lee Ho Fooks but she resolved to go anyway on the off chance the stalker would show. She wanted the matter to be over. She was beginning to think this guy just got his kicks out of taunting her but whatever he was up to it had to end.

She lost herself in the web until she realized it was time to go. She thought about inviting Marsha but realized if he showed it might scare him away. She would have to go it alone. She took a shower and got herself ready and headed out.

Arriving at he garage she parked on her usual level and got out and locked the door. As she was walking to the elevator she had the sensation of being watched. She looked around but there was no one there. She was being silly again. It was just going to be another lunch. Maybe there would be something on the machine when she got home.

As she got to the elevator she saw a reflection in the smooth metal door coming toward her and she froze in fear. She willed herself to turn and run but before she could he was on her, one hand wrapped in her hair jerking her head back, the other holding a knife to her throat. She could feel his breath in her ear.

“I told you the tide was turning bitch. This is the endgame.”

She struggled to get her breath under control so she could speak.

“Who are you? Why are you doing this?”

“Doesn’t matter now. Once you’re dead life is going to be sweet.”

She could feel the edge of the knife sinking slowly into her skin and the light intensified as her mind went numb.

A sudden loud yell behind them made her attacker whirl around and as she collapsed onto the floor she saw a blur of motion and then a foot connected with the attacker’s head and he reeled to one side. Another yell and another spinning back kick connected with his face and blood spurted from his nose.

Jan sat on the floor staring in wide wonder as she realized her saviour was none other than Kenny who was now straddling the attacker and punching him in the face with vigour. He stopped when the attacker was rendered unconscious. He stood up and walked over to help Jan to her feet.

“Do you know this man?”

“What? No, I’ve never seen…wait a minute… maybe I have. In pictures.”

She stood there staring at him until it finally came to her.

“Oh my god! He’s my cousin’s husband. I’ve never met him but she sent me wedding pictures. It’s him, I’m sure of it. But why would he come here to kill me?”

Kenny shrugged and took out his phone and called the police.

Jan thought hard and it came to her.

“She’s my next of kin. If I died she would get everything because I haven’t had time to make a will. Oh my god…”

Kenny patted her on the shoulder in reassurance as sound of sirens rose in the distance.

“Kenny, how did you come to be here?”

“I knew you parked here. I thought if this man were going to harm you he wouldn’t go to your house, he would do it here in a public place. I waited outside and followed him when he came in. I couldn’t let you get hurt Miss Jan. I have studied Kung Fu for many years. It was time to put it to good use.”

Overcome by emotion Jan could do nothing but nod and hug the man who had saved her life as the police came out of the stairwell and surveyed the scene.

The End

Unseen Tides – Part 8

“Can you feel it coming? The tide is turning against you. Your time is up.”

That was it. He was taunting her. She was staring at the machine transfixed when the doorbell rang. So startled she let out a small scream she clamped her hand over her mouth and moved to the door.

“Who is it?”

“It’s me, George. Did I scare you? I’m sorry.”

She opened the door and let him in.

“No, it’s just, well, yes, I was scared. There’s a message on the machine. I just listened to it.”

George went over and listened to the message.

“This is one sick bastard. He seems be more interested in scaring you than actually doing anything. Still, he’ll probably call again. I’m going to put a tap in place now. I realized when I got to my car I had the gear in the trunk, that’s why I’m here sooner than I thought I would be.”

He set to work and when he was done he explained how it would work.

“I don’t need to be here. The apparatus will begin a trace whenever you pick up the phone. If it’s not him you can push this button and it will stop the trace. If it is him I need you to keep him on the line for at least two minutes, otherwise the trace won’t complete.”

“Okay, thanks. I doubt he’ll call again today. What about tomorrow? Should I go have lunch at Lee Ho Fooks?”

“Yes, I think you should. I won’t go, I think you’re right about him being on to me. If he does show go to the ladies room and call me. I’ll be there in no time. I’ll wait outside until he leaves and follow him. All you have to do is tell me what he’s wearing when you call.”

Across town the man arrived back at his motel room. His mind made up about the final move he decided to call his wife and let her know when he would be home.

“Hi honey, just checking in. I miss you.”

“I miss you too. Are you wrapping up there?”

“Sure am. I’ll be home tomorrow night.”

“Great. Is it going well?”

“Yeah, it is. Nothing to worry about. I’ll see you soon.”

He hung up and lay back on the bed to think. Too bad it had to come to this. There was no other way. It’s not that he had anything against his wife’s cousin but she had inherited all that money and the house and he was struggling to make ends meet. His wife was her next of kin and when she died it would all come to them and he could save his business and they’d be on easy street. It was only fair. Taunting her was just payback. Had she offered them anything? No; not a damn thing. This was how it had to be.

Jan did her best to remain calm after George left but she had the feeling if anything was going to happen it would happen soon. Maybe the bastard would call again and she could keep him on the phone long enough to get a trace.

Not very hungry when dinnertime came she got some leftovers out and sat down to watch her shows until she was tired enough to fall asleep. The phone did not ring again and she decided it was just as well.

When closing time came at Lee Ho Fooks Kenny went to the owner and asked if he could have a few hours off the next day as he had some business to attend to. When he got home he sat up for a while thinking and finally made up his mind. He turned in and slept peacefully.

Tomorrow – Part 9 – The End

Unseen Tides – Part 7

Arriving home Jan checked her message machine. There was only one. She hesitated before listening to it. She was in no condition to hear any vileness. She hit the button anyway and braced herself.

It was George from the detective agency checking up on her. Well, at least that was a positive. She dialled his number.

“Hi Jan. So he didn’t show. I wouldn’t worry about it. We can try again tomorrow. He’s bound to show up. I know this type.”

“I suppose so. I’m just worried about him showing up here. He knows where I live. If he has my phone number then he must have the address.”

“More than likely. I can have someone watch the house but it will be costly.”

“I’ll think about it. Can I reach you on your cell phone if he calls tonight?”

“Sure. Anytime. You take care. Be at the restaurant at your usual time tomorrow.”

The next day Jan drove to the parking garage, arriving earlier than usual. As she walked to the elevator she caught movement out the corner of her eye and felt her pulse begin to race. She looked in the direction she thought it had come from but there was nothing. She hit the elevator button and stood with her back to the doors until they opened.

Arriving at the restaurant and sitting in her usual seat she must have still looked alarmed because Kenny came over with a concerned look.

“Are you all right Miss Jan?”

“I’m fine Kenny. Just tired of this whole thing that’s happening.”

“The man you hired, he just came in.”

He motioned with his chin but did not look.

“I know, he’s supposed to be here. He will follow my stalker if he shows up today.”

“I don’t think he will come. I think he knows about the man you hired.”

Kenny took her order and left. Jan wondered if he was right. By the time she was half done with her lunch she decided it must be so. The stalker was a no show. She finished her lunch and went over to George’s table.

“I think he’s on to us. He knows about you. How, I don’t know, but this is two days in a row.”

“Well, you may be right. Since we have no other leads on him I’m not sure what we can do.” He thought for a moment. “He might call you again. I can put a trace on your line and try to get him that way.”

Jan sighed. “Okay let’s do that.”

“I’ll be over to your place in an hour. I have to get some gear.”

Kenny was clearing the table next to them and discreetly listening in. As they left he shook his head. He didn’t think much of this detective. Miss Jan was in danger. Something needed to be done.

Arriving back at the garage Jan felt trepidation. Maybe it was just nerves but she had a bad feeling. She looked all around as she walked to her car. Nothing. Not a soul in sight. She told herself she was being silly and started the car.

As she drove down the ramp to the next level a man stepped from behind a pillar and smiled with satisfaction. The time was nearly at hand and a plan was in place. He walked to his car and before starting the engine he got out his phone and made a call.

When Jan arrived home she hung up her coat and was about to get a drink out of the refrigerator when she noticed the message light blinking on the machine. She walked over and punched the button.

Part 8 Tomorrow

Unseen Tides – Part 6

Her mouth dry, her hands shaking she picked up the fortune cookie and then the paper and headed back in the house. She was about to open the cookie but decided not to. She put it aside and made herself some breakfast then got online to look for a private detective.

Finding a likely looking web site she picked up the phone and rang him.

“Burroughs Agency, how may I help?”

“Yes, hello. I’m in need of a detective. I’m being stalked by someone I don’t know.”

“Okay, I can help you with that. What’s your name?”

She gave him her details and he told her what his hourly charges would be along with charges for anything he might need to do the job. She agreed to everything and he told her he would be over in an hour to check out her place.

When he arrived he looked around the house and then asked her to tell him the whole story. She looked him over as she related everything that had happened. He was short and balding but well dressed and came across as very professional and calm. She decided she would trust him. She told him everything and then showed him the unopened cookie. He told her to open it. She read it and handed it to him.

“Wow. How dramatic. ‘Rip tides are deadly. Yours is coming.”

Jan felt sick to her stomach.

“Okay, well, I think you need to have lunch at this Chinese place today. Go alone. I’ll be there too. When you see this guy I want you to take a sip of tea and point in his direction with you little finger, you got that?”

She nodded and let out a big sigh.

“Don’t worry, I’ll be on to him. I’ll follow him and find out who he is and give you a call and we’ll take it from there. You can’t go to the police until we get something on him.”

He left reassuring her it would all be over soon. She took a shower and got dressed. It was time to go downtown. When she got there she parked in a garage not far from the restaurant and looked over her shoulder frequently as she made her way there.

She walked inside and couldn’t help looking around. Kenny saw her and waved her to her usual table.

“Hi Kenny. Has the man who looks at me been in yet?”

“No Miss Jan, I haven’t seen him. I’ll let you know if he comes in.”

He took her order and went away. As he brought her tea she glanced at the door and saw the detective come in and take a seat not far from her. He sat faceing the door and waited for a menu. He didn’t look at her once.

Kenny served Jan her lunch and she tried to behave normally as she ate. When she was done Kenny came over to clear her dishes.

“He didn’t come in today. Maybe he won’t bother you anymore.”

“I don’t know Kenny.”

“There is a man over there. Something about him makes me think he knows you.”

“It’s all right Kenny. I hired him.”

“Oh. Maybe that’s why the other man is not here.”

As she left she shrugged at the detective and headed for her car.

Across the street from the garage a man watched her. He was scowling and clenching his fists. So she’s hired a detective. She thought I wouldn’t notice he thought to himself. Does she really think that will stop me? He walked to his car and drove away with a grin on his face.

Part 7 Tomorrow

Unseen Tides – Part 5

“Hello, Jan speaking.”

Silence. She knew it had to be the caller from the night before. Anger overtook her in a flash.

“What’s the matter, can’t say it live? Need the answering machine to take over before you can be brave?”

“You have no idea what’s coming bitch.”

“Yeah? Well neither do you asshole. I know who you are and you’re in for a surprise.”

The line went dead. She stared at the phone in shock. What had come over her? This was more stressful than she had let herself realize. She felt good about standing up to him. Maybe that last bit would scare him off. Still, she would find a private detective and have the man at the restaurant followed. It had to be the same guy.

She concentrated on the sound of his voice. It was not familiar at all. How had he gotten her phone number? How did he know where she ate lunch most every day? She shuddered as realization washed over her. He must know where she lived. That’s how he was able to follow her.

She got up and went to the windows and drew the blinds after a quick look outside. There was no one on the street and the only cars parked there were ones she knew. She went back to the television. She was feeling hungry and had forgotten about ordering in. She picked up the phone and ordered a pizza and then lost herself in one of her favourite shows.

On the other side of town a man was sitting on the bed in his shabby motel room seething. The bitch was a lot stroppier then he had counted on. It didn’t matter. He would do what needed doing. He shook it off and decided to call home.

He took out his phone and hit the number on speed dial.

“Hi honey. Just wanted to check in before I grab some dinner. I miss you.”

“Oh, I miss you too darling. How are the business meetings going?”

“Not bad. I’ll be home soon, I promise.”

He hung up and dropped the phone in his pocket. He needed to wrap matters up soon. His business was on the edge of collapse and if he didn’t get some money coming in soon it would all be over. He looked at the clock and decided he would plan his next move over dinner. Grabbing his trench coat he headed out the door. Over dinner an idea came to him and he grinned.

When the doorbell rang Jan was startled but she knew it had to be her pizza. She went to the door.

“Who is it?”

“Pizza delivery for Jan.”

She opened the door a crack to make sure and then swung it wide.

“I’ll just get my purse.”

She paid and took the pie to the coffee table. Maybe a DVD would be in order. She had rented one a few days ago and hadn’t watched it yet. She got herself a glass of wine, put the movie in and settled back to forget about life for a while.

An hour and half later, sated and drowsy, she took herself off to bed. The next morning she got up and showered and went out to get the newspaper from the mailbox. When she opened it and reached in she jerked her hand back and then bent down to look in.

There was a fortune cookie sitting on top of the paper.

Part 6 Tomorrow

Unseen Tides – Part 4

Jan handed the paper to Kenny.

“That’s two similar fortunes two days in a row. Marsha gets the sort I used to get. Have you ever seen anything like this before Kenny?”

“No, this is most unusual. I don’t understand.”

Marsha was deep in thought. She looked up at Kenny.

“Kenny, could you bring us some more of these cookies please? I’ll pay for them.”

“No need Miss Marsha, I will bring them.”

She leaned over and fixed Jan with a look.

“Let’s see what else there is. Maybe we can get to the bottom of this.”

Kenny returned with a plate full of cookies. Putting it down he excused himself to tend to customers.

They dived in and began opening the cookies. Every last one of them was the sort of inane message usually found. Jan leaned back and sighed.

“Well, I guess we could ask him to bring more but I don’t suppose it will do any good.”

“You’re probably right. But how could it be that you get two ominous messages?”

Jan shook her head.

“I don’t know. I’m more concerned about the creep who might be stalking me and the vile message on the phone. Do you think the cookies and call are connected?”

“This is all very strange. I think it’s good to take it serious but I don’t know what else to say except maybe you should invest in a private detective to follow this stalker and find out who he is.”

“That might be a good idea. Do you know any?”

“Not me. Try the yellow pages. We know the guy comes here, it shouldn’t take more than a couple of days to find out who he is. Might solve the whole mystery.”

Jan nodded.

“I’ll see. Anyway I should go home, I’ve got some stuff to do. Thanks for coming out with me today.”

They parted ways and as Jan headed for the parking garage she was too distracted to notice the man following her at a discreet distance. She drove home and occupied herself with filling out the final papers for the probate on the house she had inherited from her mother. It had been nearly six months since the funeral and her grief was ebbing but dealing with matters related to the will still made her sad. She had lost her father several years before and as an only child she had inherited her parents considerable estate.

When she was done with the paper work it was nearly sundown. She poured herself a glass of wine and went out onto the balcony to enjoy the late afternoon light. Feeling melancholy she let her mind drift back over the last year of her life. She had terminated her relationship with her last boyfriend and had been disinclined to return to dating.

She had no more than gotten over him when her mother had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour. She had gone quickly and with little pain which was a blessing but Jan had felt at loose ends ever since. Her nearest family member was a first cousin who lived several states away. They had never been close, though the cousin had made it to the funeral and stayed a day with her after the burial. She hadn’t heard from her since.

She had Marsha and couple of other good friends but for the most part she was alone. She went in and poured herself another glass of wine and settled into the couch to watch some television. Feeling hungry a short time later she decided to order some food in.

She was reaching for the phone when it rang.

Part 5 Tomorrow