Author's note: This action-adventure novel was written to explore the far reaches of moral ambiguity and power of corruption.
Letters to MyselfI studied the man seated across from me very carefully. Large aviator sunglasses hid most of his face from view, and he was dressed somewhere between formal and casual. He wore khaki slacks with a button down shirt and tie, but his sleeves were rolled up and he looked disheveled. His sandy brown hair hung over his sunglasses and scruffy five o’clock shadow completed his image.
“Who are y—” I started before being cut off.
“I’m sure you have plenty of questions as to who I am and how I know about Project NOVA and its individual operatives; everything will be revealed in due time,” my captor said as he opened a briefcase facing away from me. It’s always ‘in due time’ with these kidnappers, isn’t it? Nothing can ever just be laid out for their victims.
As I watched him crack open the case I instinctively went towards my briefcase, which he had stowed just out of my reach. The man watched my futile efforts and laughed callously before he produced three sheets of paper from his own briefcase.
“You thought I was going to pull a gun on you, didn’t you?” He laughed once more before handing me the sheets of paper. “These belong to you, John. I hope they serve you well. I’ll be in touch.”
I hadn’t realized, but in the time we’d been talking the van’s driver had pulled out of its parking spot and began driving, the streets having been cleared for the convention. The sandy haired man opened the back doors to the van and tossed my briefcase out of the moving vehicle, and I cringed as it collided with the pavement.
“I suggest you follow your briefcase. Goodbye, John,” said my captor. With that, the driver pulled the van over and I was thrown onto the sidewalk.
Slowly, I stood up and tried to regain my bearings. When I could see straight, I realized that the van had already sped off. Swearing, I dashed after my briefcase. As I neared the case, I could hear the static in my earpiece fade away. The van had jammed my signal somehow, but something told me I shouldn’t give away all the details of my strange encounter too quickly.
“Westfield, Morty, do you read me? This is John, I…” I stammered, trying to explain my absence from the squad’s communications link. “I made a wrong turn, sorry. Where are you?”
“On the subway, John,” Morty buzzed in. “We’ll be stopping at your location in a few minutes. Get your ass down here or you’re going to be in some deep shit!”
A few grueling minutes later, I was catching my breath on the subway, having been reunited with my partner. Samuel hadn’t seen the “two-briefcase man” we were told to wait for, so I was in the clear. Morty and I felt uncomfortable being the only two calm passengers on a train packed with panicking lost souls. From what I knew of modern history, New Yorkers tended to be resilient towards terrorist attacks, and those not within the immediate radius of the assassination only heard whispers of Luther Jameson’s untimely death.
In the rush of passengers getting on and off the subway, I almost failed to notice the thin man who had boarded the train carrying two briefcases. The man was an albino, his pale skin and red eyes were alarming. His gaunt eyes sank so deep into his face that he looked skeletal as he strode towards us. I nudged Mortimer, and we both nodded towards the man. He acknowledged us and handed us the briefcase in his left hand.
“Please place this under your seat, John Lange. When we exit the subway, you will forget this briefcase,” he instructed in an accent I assumed was Russian.
I did as I was told, and waited patiently for the order to exit the subway. I wasn’t sure what was in the suitcase, but the day’s events had taught me to always expect extreme measures.
Since our lanky guest had arrived, Morty had fallen suspiciously silent. The look in his eyes showed a very distinct emotion; fear. I dared to catch his eye, and he looked as if he had seen a ghost. I shuddered as a chill ran up my spine; would I really leave my life in this man’s hands?
Before I could contemplate our options, the man indicated it was time to leave. I grabbed the briefcase containing my sidearms and, as instructed, forgot the other one. Morty remained deathly silent; only nodding to the skeletal man. After a few minutes of walking briskly through street corners and alleyways, I saw the familiar sight of three black sedans waiting for us.
The albino opened his remaining briefcase and removed a small, black device, reminiscent of a Rubix cube. After a few rotations, he pressed the center square in like a button, and then stopped. In the distance, a small series of explosions erupted.
“Did you just blow up the subway?” I whispered harshly, not wanting to be overheard.
“No, John Lange, you did. It was you, as you recall, who planted the explosives. Well done,” he laughed. His laughs had a strange wheezing aspect to them, but it was not quite the same as a chronic smoker or someone who suffered from asthma. No, this man’s ragged breathing was almost more mechanical. Without another word, he entered his sedan and it drove off.
“Morty, who is that guy?” I asked my partner. Morty, still horrified at whatever had happened, simply shook his head and entered his own sedan. Reluctantly, I followed suit and entered my own sedan. I took advantage of the long return trip to the airstrip to peruse the sheets of paper that the mysterious man in the van had said were my property.
The sheets were diary entries, and from what I could tell they were unaltered from their original forms, except for the dates, which had been cut out with scissors. I immediately recognized the handwriting used in the entries, for it was my own. With renewed curiosity, I skimmed the diary pages for hints of my past. While two of the pages merely described everyday life and problems with coworkers, a passage on the third page stuck out from the rest.
Tonight, I proposed to Fiona, and she said yes. The scene was perfect, we had a romantic candlelit dinner and I proposed to her during a late night stroll on the beach. It took a while to find an empty stretch of beach, but damn, was it worth it. Spending the rest of my life with her is the best decision I’ve ever made. Fiona, Paul, Emily and I, we were finally going to be a family. I know Mom and Dad are looking down on Paul and me, prouder than ever.
Not the best way to find out that your parents are dead, and you have a brother you never knew about.