Joaquin’s eyes scanned the street. He knew if Globe’s men found him, it would be his end. The way that Anne and Frank talked about the man, he was a genocidal maniac. A well-connected genocidal maniac. The FBI was in Globe’s pocket. They were his puppet army. The local police wouldn’t trust a young black man with a rap sheet as impressive as his. His only ally, Detective Frank Massey, seemed to only trust him with unimportant tasks. He only clutched the package to his chest because everything turned to shit today. Even if he were to get the proof to someone outside of Globe’s influence, he doubted that they would listen to him.
His enemies were everywhere. It was a hopeless situation. But, he reminded himself, Andy’s good people. Betty’s eyes softened when she looked at him. She didn’t see a thug; a carjacker; a purse-snatcher. She seemed to see beyond his past. She saw the same future that Peter saw. Joaquin sighed, remembering the firefight at the cabin in the Canadian wilderness. He cursed himself for running away from the team of mercenaries took down Peter and Kristof. He flinched as the crack of a handgun echoed in his memory.
Globe’s men took Peter alive. Anne told them as much. Frank and Andy worked to expose Globe for the villain that he was. Joaquin could only hope that everything would turn out the way Frank and Anne planned. But still, he would never forget her cackle and the blood smeared across her face as Anne murdered the Seventh Street Kings. He wondered if she was any better than Globe.
Joaquin took a deep breath and stepped off the curb. He would see his task completed. He had hope that some higher power would set things right. Joaquin allowed a smarmy grin. And if that power decided not to, well then, Joaquin would do his damnedest to do it instead. He squared his shoulders and walked confidently onto the seedy Seattle street. He had hope in the face of hopelessness. He had righteousness in the face of wickedness. He had to stop Globe at any cost.
He wondered if that was enough to make him a hero.
* * *
“It was somewhere near Whidbey Island, but I don’t know where. I don’t know if Joaquin even went there. Shit, detective… it was my idea. After we had found out Miles Jensen might be innocent, I suggested to Joaquin that we go and search for more proof. I told him it would be best we don’t call you right away.”
Massey pulled the blinds aside and squinted to see the traffic. He searched for black dots with flashing blue and red lights, but there were none. The bad guys would arrive incognito. Sighing, he pulled away from the window and sat on the chair beside Andy’s bed. “It’s alright Andy. You couldn’t have known things would go sideways so quickly.”
Andy nodded his good eye filling with tears. “Detective, are you sure this Anne can be trusted? I know what you said about the plan and all, but…” He blinked his eye several times to clear the moisture.
“I trust her. That’s all you need to know for now. You just focus on getting better.” Massey’s smile to Andy was sad. He dragged him into this. Andy would argue that he was involved long before Massey even understood how much the city and its people had changed. Frank, Anne, Joaquin, and Betty were the only ones who stood by his side, and they all gazed over a precipice of genocide and war. A necessary war that would prevent this insane extinction Globe was trying to unravel. Massey put a hand on Andy’s shoulder. “I hate to ask this, especially right now, but how long do you think it’ll take you to get SuperHub back up?”
Andy’s stare was calculating, his mind on the game even when his body was beaten and burned. Massey was torn between feeling sorry for the young man and feeling strange, almost frightened of how obsessed he was.
“I can call some people, get it running within a few days. It won’t be functioning at a hundred percent at first, but all the primary subjects… Er, sorry, supers will be in the data with names and locations. Do you have a burner on you? Mine got kind of… burned.” Andy tried a cheeky grin, and Frank didn’t have the heart to tell him that it was more of a strange leer.
Massey shook his head. “Not now. Now you need rest. We can talk more about this tomorrow.” He held up a placating hand when Andy tried to sit up to protest. “Listen, Andy, there’s something else. I’m pretty confident Globe has already figured out Joaquin was in that apartment with you.”
Ignoring the pain, Andy sat up, his eyes full of alarm. “What does that mean?”
“He’s been looking for Joaquin. Anne told me. And Joaquin in the wind, Globe’s men will try to get any information on Joaquin from you. You’re the last person who saw him. That’s why we need to get you out of here.”
Andy eased back onto the hospital bed. His sigh was that of exasperation and resignation. “How are you going to do that?”
Right on queue, Betty walked in with a red headed nurse.
Massey nodded at Betty and her companion with his chin. “Officer Patterson will take you to another wing and stay with you for the night. I’ll come for you in the morning.”
The nurse wheeled Andy away to the elevator. Every clunk and rattle had Andy’s eyes darting to the elevator walls and doors. It was as if he were a frightened animal. When they reached the floor above they stepped into an identical corridor covered by soft lights dispersing evenly across the avocado green walls. They darkened as Massey and Betty’s shadows chased Andy’s and the hospital bed. The squeak of the wheels was the only audible sound outside the gray hospital doors.
The nurse met Massey’s eyes. “At the end of this corridor, there’s an empty room. Your friend should be comfortable enough there, Detective.”
Massey thanked the nurse and gave Andy’s shoulder a squeeze before they crossed the threshold into the room. After the door had clicked closed, when he and Betty were alone, he sighed and rubbed his tired eyes.
Massey leaned against the avocado walls and met Betty’s stare. “I can’t thank you enough, Officer Patterson. You’ve been a life saver today and a good friend. It means a lot to me what you did. I just want you to know that.”
Betty blushed and turned her head aside, eyes pinned to the ground.
“Just don’t make it a habit Detective.”
As Massey walked down the corridor, Betty stood sentry in the middle of the hallway, the fingers of her right hand tapping on the leather holster on her hip. He was confident that she knew the old rules didn’t apply anymore. He was sure that Betty would do what was necessary to protect Andy. It made him proud to have her on his team.
Next: Noise Mirage