Under the Desert Sun (C2)

Chapter 2 – Breadcrumbs…

It’s been two weeks since Diane’s disappeared with no trace, just before their engagement dinner. No signs of her anywhere… Nathan could not stop thinking of her, he needed closure. He deserved to know who she really was… and he decided to find out. He turned for help to one old buddy of him, from the Marines…

“-Hey my man! How are you? How is the family business going on? Already got bored of that?” As Nathan enters his friend’s office, his friend Danny seemed pleased and surprised to see him.

“-Hey Danny! Nothing like that. I need your help. And… it has to stay between you and me..” said Nathan with a severe voice.

“-Yes of course, anything you wan’ man.., just don’t make me do anything illegal..”

“-I need you to analyse this photograph and tell me whatever you can find on it. Use your resource but keep it quiet.”

“-Hell man who is this chick? Is that an M-240 she is holding? Damn, a big gun for a woman…  You know that if we found out something we can’t keep it secret..” Danny expressed his concern of the picture he was just handed.

“-Danny, just trust me! If we find anything showing that this picture poses a threat to anyone, we will report it. Until then, please trust me and help find out as much as you can.”

“-Ok. Got some connections there and there, give me a couple of days and I’ll get back to you.”

Nathan left his friend’s office and headed with heavy steps through the exit. While holding the door knob ready to walk out, he saw a glance of what he believed at that moment was a woman that looked familiar.

“-Nancy, Nancy wait!” He screamed at the lady he just saw right after she past the corner office. ” No answer, it wasn’t her. What would a kinder garden teacher do here?” He was indeed mistaken…

He didn’t know what hurt more, the sorrow he felt after she left? The anger that shaken the core of his body? Or the love he still had for her that could not be faded away. He poured a glass of his favorite Green Spot whiskey and sat on his desk watching the bookshelf … the only thing he could think of, was her… She always liked to arrange the books in a certain order, by color, size, title, edition, author… but as he was looking at them, he realized that he never actually understood the pattern she arranged them. The books were not aligned by color, nor alphabetically. Then he went closer and started analyzing the order of the books. There was no order indeed, there were actually pretty mixed. None of the arrangements of the books made any sense. “Ok.. let’s see, what are the criteria of arranging book? By color? Nope. No color arrangement. Should it be by type? Hm, Romance, Science… War… all the books that involve War are in one row. ” Nathan started studying the arrangements of the books. He felt there is something there… “There is no pattern between all these books with the exception of they type. Let’s see their details”. Nathan started reading their names out out loud and the year of publication. He took a pen and a paper and he started writing down each book from the shelf. The books were in the second column from the left, third 3 row down. Having gaps in between the books of the first and second row.

“Dispatches, Rome, Armageddon, Generation Kill, One Bullet away, Outlaw of Platoon… no.. this is not going anywhere. Again there is no pattern… ” He sat as his desk drinking his whiskey while starring in void at the notes. He began unconsciously reading the names of the books again, when realized that there might be an order after all. But it still didn’t make sense. He began writing the initials of each book’s title. “D, R, A, G, O.. this could mean dragon but there are two Os.. there must be something I missed.” He looked again at the book shelf when he saw the rest of the books. ” So we have 3 left books on this row, Notes of a Sniper, Shadows Enemies and The Regiment. That makes us… DRAGOON REGIMENT! Oh my God. This is not possible. It cannot be true. The Dragoon Regiment was terminated back in 1861…” Nathan was shocked by his discovery.

Nevertheless, he then also figured out the gaps in the bookshelf. “2 from second column … 2, two gaps down, that makes us 0 0 and third row where the books were… 3, 2003! ”

He stood looking at the books, still wondering, when the phone ranged:

“-Hello?”

“-Hey its me, Danny. I got some news for you. Meet me at the coffee shops at the Stan’s and Wellford’s intersection in one hour.”

“-Right, I’ll be there. What did you find out? ”

“-Man, I can’t talk to you on the phone. Meet me there.”

 

Arriving at the coffee shop, Nathan saw a sweaty hard breathing Danny. He passed by him like he didn’t recognized him as he went upstairs towards the men’s room. The coffee shop was crowded and Nathan thought maybe he didn’t see him well. He sat at a table decided to wait for Danny to return from the men’s room. While waiting, the waitress brought him coffee.

“I didn’t order anything yet. I am waiting for someone.”

“It says here on my note that you did. ” She puts the coffee on the table with a coaster. He spotted on her wrist a small dragon tattoo. He didn’t give too much attention. He picked the mug up and noticed it was hot. “Since when they put coasters for hot drinks?” he thought. He picked up the coaster and noticed on the back of it, what appeared to be the ISBN number of a book. He puts the coaster in his pocket and looked around for the waitress. She was nowhere. He asked the barrister where the waitress was. The barrister looked at him in a funny way, saying:

“This is a self serve coffee shop. We don’t serve tables. We do not have any waitresses.”

His body felt an electroshock of feelings when he understood something was not ok. He ran up to the men’s room, only to find his buddy on the floor. His throat had been cut and the blood was pumping from his neck though, he was still alive. He looked quickly to see who attacked Danny but there was no one there. He called 911 immediately and nailed near Danny, trying to press the wound and stop the bleeding. Danny was trying so badly to speak but he couldn’t make a sound.

“-Hang on in there buddy, I called 911, they will be here any minute. Hang in there!”

Danny was trying to draw Nathan’s attention to the toilet behind him. He kept showing with his finger. All he could hardly manage to say was “usb” . Nathan looked in the toilet and he saw nothing. He then pulled the basin’s cover and saw sticked to the wall of the basin, just about the water level, a USB stick. He pulled it and put it his pocket. As the ambulance was taking Danny away, Nathan headed back home. He needed to think, understand and realize what just happened. He’s seen dead people before, he was in the Marines but this, this seems too much. He didn’t expect any mystery. He didn’t want to draw any attention since he didn’t know what he was in.

Nathan was looking to find the book matching the ISBN on the coaster while searching through every single book in the bookshelf by throwing them on the floor. The world around him was collapsing and he couldn’t stop his anger. His frustration grew higher and stronger with every book that was not matching the ISBN code. All books were on the floor. None of them matched the number. He nailed on the floor holding his head in his fists. He didn’t know what to do. He knew he was missing something, when it strike him… the book on Diane’s dresser, “Before I dye”.  That must be it. He run up to check the book and the ISBN was indeed matching. There was nothing written in it though, only blank pages. He looked up the ISBN online and found out that this book has been registered but was never open for public nor sale. It was just there. As if someone wanted it to be secret. He started to check the book page by page when he found one only page written somewhere in the middle, something that seemed to be from the Holy Bible:

Be merciful to me, my God, for my enemies are in hot pursuit; all day long they press their attack. My adversaries pursue me all day long; in their pride many are attacking me. When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?
All day long they twist my words; all their schemes are for my ruin. They conspire, they lurk, they watch my steps, hoping to take my life. Because of their wickedness do not let them escape; in your anger, God, bring the nations down. Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll — are they not in your record?
Then my enemies will turn back when I call for help. By this I will know that God is for me.
O God, do not remain silent; do not turn a deaf ear, do not stand aloof, O God. See how your enemies growl, how your foes rear their heads. With cunning they conspire against your people; they plot against those you cherish.“Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation, so that their name is remembered no more.” With one mind they plot together; they form an alliance against you.
 His mind was blown by the discovery, and there was more…
With shaking sweaty hands inserted the USB into the PC that Danny almost gave his life to deliver it to him. The discovery was about to become even more shocking when he accessed the file within. The confidential information that he was about to see, would change his life forever.
It almost felt like Diane had left breadcrumbs for him to follow…
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