Susurrus

Episode II
A Necessary Journey

A Novel by Rory Tillitson


CHAPTER THREE

Deception


The morning light coming through the windows into the aft cabin finally woke Mitch up. He looked over at the woman lying beside him and thought, “You know something sport, another place and time, this could be the best thing that has happened to you yet. However we are where we are... here and now… We’re in the shit again, and seemingly nowhere to run.”

He was feeling the pressure from the past couple of day’s activities. There was a satellite looking down his neck. Some secret government ship full of spooks shadowing his movements. Bags full of cash in the hold, and then there was… Susan, well at least that’s what she claimed her name was. He didn’t have a clue as what to do next.

Hell for all he knew she really was a spy type playing him for all the marbles. He thought, “Maybe I should just put out to sea travel a few hundred kilometers toss her overboard, and just set on the money for a year or so… Who the hell are you kidding... you already know you’re in this till the end, even if she is playing you. This is the best time you’ve had in your miserable life for a while. The old adrenaline is back. Life isn’t the boring milk run it’s been for the past few years. Well old salt, get your ass going, times a wasting. We have spooks to lose before we can get to the end of this chapter in the ‘Life of Mitch.’” With that thought he doused water on his face, brushed his teeth and quietly went to the nav station.

He checked the satellite link for the latest image and saw a view of a freighter steaming through the sea. Then he realized he had seen this boat before. He thought,”It was the ship he had looked at with his camera… How can I tell which way she’s going?” Then he studied the picture closer by using the image program to zoom in and saw shadows from starboard to port. He thought,”She’s moving north… Wait.. slight angle to the shadows, north-northeast direction. OK... So why are they looking at this boat?” He quickly grabbed a new image saving the other one to a file. The newer image showed the same ship, but a closer view and some men were pushing something over the port handrail.

He thought, “Garbage? No... it was a crate about three feet by six feet was his best estimate... what could it be and why was the satellite watching this so close? OK... Grab another one.” In the next picture the camera had pulled back and revealed a series of several crates, trailing behind the ship. Mitch wondered out loud, “What in the hell could that be?”

Susan said, “Looks like coffins.” Startled, he turned and said, “You’re up!” She answered, “Yeah... I’m up and wondering... what you are doing out here?” He said, “The coffee is waiting, could you pour a couple of cups? I’ll be right back.” With that he went up on the deck to look around. He saw no one in the immediate area. He returned below to take a cup from the still naked woman who said, “So what did you see?”

He said, “Not much the sun is still behind the island so it’s early yet. We should get moving soon. That would be expected and I know we’re being watched.” He then sat at the terminal and typed. Boat system: status normal. Computer: Status normal. He said, “Sue.” The computer replied, “Yes, Captain.” He said, “Plot a course... six degrees forty-five minutes north latitude... one hundred fifty-eight degrees thirteen minutes east longitude... set sail... drop the anchor.” The computer spoke, “Aye... Aye, Captain, Plot a course... six degrees forty-five minutes north latitude... one hundred fifty-eight degrees thirteen minutes east longitude... set sail.... drop the anchor.”

With that they both could hear the sound of motors running, as the sails were being raised, along with the anchor winch pulling the boat forward till the bow tipped slightly, as the anchor lost connection with the sea floor and began to return to its raised place.

She spoke first, “Wow... that was quick, and we’re going just like that?” He said, “The program runs immediately. The bearing was ready before the sails began to unfurl. We will be heading out to sea any moment. Now I have to think how I’m gonna lose the tracking device so they can’t follow us…” Then he had an epiphany. Mitch said,”Why lose it just now. I am just going about my usual milk run here... they probably already know my next port of call anyway.”

With that thought, he pulled up the camera and looked for the ‘Searcher.’ It was gone from view. He then pulled up the hundred mile radar. Not a single blip, except for the island. The boat was gone.

Susan said,”What’s wrong. you look worried for the first time since I’ve known you?” He turned to her and noticing she was stark naked said, “You know something… I love looking at you. But you have to put on some clothing it’s too distracting like this... A little while ago, we were the center of attention... now it’s almost as if they were never here. Save for the fact there is a transponder up on the deck.”

Susan had gone into the aft cabin opened the bottom drawer. She returned wearing a short “Aloha” t-shirt and pair of white shorts. She said, “Is this better can you concentrate now?” He laughed,“Yes... better thank you, well we are under way not much to do now. It’ll be two more days till we get to Ponope. I suppose they would follow us via the transponder. Hell, the ‘Searcher’ is probably headed there as we speak. I feel that we haven’t seen the last of those boys.”

Susan said simply,“When can I go back up on deck with you? While this is pleasant, it can get a little stuffy down here. At least up there I can see something else.” He thought then said, “Not sure we’ll have to keep an eye on the satellite pics. They probably can’t keep it on us full-time. Like the latest ones probably looking for smugglers or worse. Those guys on that ship wouldn’t bother to put bodies in a crate. They would just toss them overboard and let the fish feed.”

He said,“Let’s take another look shall we?” With that he ‘grabbed’ the next image. The display showed the same ship. However it was now being boarded by what were probably Australian sailors not the US navy... the uniforms weren’t the same. Although they were wearing some form of camouflage so it was a little hard to say which service it was.

He pulled another image. It showed that there was probably minimal or no resistance as the crew was laying prone on the deck with their hands behind their heads. Mitch wondered what would be found in the large crates. Perhaps they were dumping them so they weren't caught with whatever was inside. He laughed as he thought, “Shit, they were afloat and not sinking that will be easy pickings for whoever the policing body was.”

Some time passed by. Occasionally he would go on deck then return to keep Susan company. Then the computer came alive, “Contact... bearing three one zero degrees... range one thousand meters... speed ten knots... closing.” Mitch said, “Sue... I got it.”

Then he heard, “Alert... Alert... incoming vessel... bearing three one zero degrees... range nine hundred meters... speed ten knots... closing.” He said, “Sue... I got it... thanks.”

Then he pulled up the camera. Once onscreen he swung it to three one zero degrees. He was looking at a powerboat about eighteen to twenty feet heading directly for him. There was one person aboard, looked like a local but he couldn’t remember anyone out here having a boat like this and it was coming from open water, not land. He exclaimed,“Shit!”

He went up on deck to “greet” the boat. There he noticed the forty-five. He had left it out the night before and he picked it up. He checked the chamber for a round and stuffed it in the waist of his shorts at his back. He stood there observing the boat as it grew closer. Then he breathed a sigh of relief as the local fisherman waved and sped by on his way to the island.

When he returned below he saw Susan was napping on the couch and a tone from the computer told him he had an email. He sat down and saw he had a reply to an email he had sent and forgotten about the night she came on board. It was from a friend in Honolulu. Who it just so happened was a Private Investigator.

The email opened with a picture of Susan a more flattering one and the text:

Here is a pic of Sally Runyon, daughter of Harry Runyon of Runyon Chemicals, can’t find out much more, apparently his company is primarily Government funded, any queries are all met with the dreaded NSA logo, and various forms of red “Get out!” signs, but I was able to find out that Mr. Runyon has been missing for over a week, and his daughter went missing three days ago, and before you ask I did not tell anyone about what you sent. I assume you are in the shit again, so good luck my friend, see you soon.

Tommy

He sat quietly for a few moments. Absorbing what he had just read contemplating his next move. Obviously there was a more twisted plot unfolding here. More than he could have guessed earlier. He looked at the time stamp of the email and saw it had only just been sent. He hit the delete key, after saving the pic to the hard drive. Whatever alphabet agency was watching him perhaps they aren’t constantly monitoring his email account. Although they may look at it from time to time. Then he also deleted Jerry’s emails, all of them. Then he thought, “That may have been too late. I sure hope not would really be bad, if this caused Jerry any grief.” He just hit choose all and hit the delete key emptying his incoming folder. Mitch thought,”Well if they want to know who my friends are. Hope you got it already you bastards.”

On the other side of the world, in a control room. An operator said, “I got it there is an email account with Google under the name of a Mike Torrance but it has to be him, it has a P.O.Box number in New Zealand, and a satellite phone number. We can trace that back to his boat easily if it’s turned on. I just looked at the account and he is probably the only person in the entire world with nothing in his in-box That is strange everyone has something in their in-box nobodies is ever empty. Here, I’ll send him a piece of spam and trace his IP address, which could let us know if we have the right guy.”

Mitch was still pondering what his next course of action was with “Susan Jones”. Now that he knew her as Sally Runyon. He thought,“She had used her real name then came up with some crap story. But the picture the CIA types showed him even made some sense of her story. Where did the unflattering picture come from?” Then he thought to himself, “This is becoming way too complicated here. I think I will just go along for this ride awhile longer and withhold my trump card till later.”

Just then he got a tone signaling an email. Huh? He looked and saw an email from some Forbes Travel Agent site in the header was “Free airline tickets to the South Pacific.” He laughed out loud. He thought, “What the fuck! Do they think I am totally ignorant or what. That is your government dollars at work boys and girls. Click delete and send your bloody location to the entire planet. No thanks Pal.”

He then hit “Mark for deletion in thirty days” and closed the program. He thought to himself, “They are looking for me and they don’t know my email address… not for sure anyway. Good. They can wait thirty days for the answer.”

Meanwhile back on the other side of the world. The Superior officer said, “Well did you get a hit?” The operator replied, “Not right away. I have to wait till he checks his email, he has to open it, or hit the delete key, before I get a ping back. Hell... it’ll just take time, everyone checks at least once a day, we just wait and we’ll get it sooner or later.”

Back on-board the Susurrus. “Susan” was waking up from her nap. She looked around and saw Mitch cooking something on the stove. She said,“So that is what woke me up... wonderful I’m starving. I believe we forgot breakfast.” He turned saying,”Yeah, we did actually but the morning was too hectic. I got hungry. I figured you would be as well.”

She sniffed the air, “What is that I smell?” He grinned, “Probably the bread in the oven, I’m making some long dinner rolls for some Mahi Mahi sandwiches. I have some sauce already in the refer, it’s kinda like a teriyaki, tartar sauce mixture. It works well on a bun, with some lettuce and tomatoes. We will have fresh fruit salad, as well as some potato chips to complement the meal.”

She looked at him in amazement, “You cruise around the South Pacific cooking gourmet food and no one else gets to enjoy this?” He laughed, “Well if you say so... I didn’t realize I had a food critic aboard, or is that another of your job skills that I’m not aware of?” She rose and walked over to him putting her arms around his sides, “Well I have had several positions in my short life... perhaps the next one is First Mate... what do you think about that?”

He stopped short of calling her Sally right there and said, “As much as I like you. I’ll have to answer with… I’ll wait judgment on that or was that a proposal of sorts?” She stepped back having just felt as though someone had walked over her grave. She sensed a change of sorts in him but couldn’t figure out just what gave her that feeling. She asked, “Did something come up on the screen while I was out, or maybe I snored too loud?” She laughed.

He then turned and gave her a kiss, “No worries sweetie the meal is almost done.” She relaxed and thought, “I guess it’s just... all that’s been happening, and everything between us is moving so much faster than any relationship I’ve ever been in. Hell we are either ducking bullets of one sort or another, or making mad passionate love. It’s been a crazy roller coaster of emotions ever since I got on this boat. Well maybe it’ll calm down some now till we make Manila.”

She went back closer to him, “So Chef... how can I help with dinner?” He turned as he took the rolls out of the oven. They weren't pretty due to the movement of the boat but they had risen. He said, “These have to cool down a bit. You can grab two plates and pour us something to drink.” She smiled, “You got it Boss!”

On the other side of the world. The operator was saying, “I have the satellite phone number from that email account, we can see if it aligns with the transponder on his boat.” His superior says, “Great get to it, and if it checks out, put a tap on the line as well.” Operator, “Sorry no can do. International agreement about satellite usage, because the phones go through several different countries satellites, traces are not allowed. That works in our interests as well though, no other countries can tap us either.” Superior, “Well… put a tap on any one that he knows and might call.” Operator, “Give me a list. Hell we don’t even know if he’s an American. There is no information on this guy, no record of a Mitch or Mitchell Torrance that even might be sailing a boat. He is a ghost. There are one thousand ninety-eight people who could be a Mitch Torrance, and every one of those are all accounted for including anyone with a passport even with those initials. He doesn’t exist or isn’t from the states.”

Superior saying, “Goddamn it! Our agents have talked to over two dozen people around the area that have known him as Mitch Torrance for the past eleven years. He can’t be a ghost. Doesn’t every place he goes check his passport?” Operator, “Probably not, unless he travels by common carrier. If someone comes in by sea that is like Homeland Security’s biggest headache or nightmare. It’s like not having a door on your home. They just sail up and leave happens all day long even here. Torrance probably hasn’t had a passport stamp in the last eleven years.”

Superior, “Well then, trace the damn boat, what about the registration on the boat?” Operator, “None, no record, there are no numbers on the boat other than the name painted on the stern and Susurrus isn’t a “documented” vessel either. We checked that already.”

Superior, “You’re telling me, that someone built a fifty-nine foot, steel hulled sailboat that is obviously afloat, and there is no record of this anywhere?” Operator,“Boss, we’ve contacted every boat maker anywhere that builds steel hulled sailboats, showed them pictures, and every one of them has no idea who could have built that boat. None of them are even familiar with the design and all of them want to know how he sails it alone.”

Superior, “Shit fire. We’ve got a goddamn ice cream vendor, slash ghost, aboard the Flying Dutchman in the south pacific. That “may” be carrying the person we are looking for... Damn it people, there must be something we can dig up on this guy and she probably isn’t even aboard. All we have to continue this wild goose chase on is one agent that says “He smelled flowers like Gardenias”, in a fucking storeroom on that boat. Crap.”

The two of them sat down to their dinner. After consuming the meal Susan said, “Wow that was great... and it was just a sandwich but what a sandwich... it was wonderful really.” He replied, “Great, I’m glad you liked that, however considering our new... ah… arrangement... perhaps you wouldn’t mind sharing the cooking duty once in a while. What do you think?” She laughed, “Wow, you have no idea what you just said, do you? I am a city apartment girl... who eats at a new restaurant every week so no one knows that I can’t cook water without burning it”.

She continued, “However, I’ll give a sandwich or two a shot... so long as you continue the wonderful main meals.” He said simply, “Deal!” She then got up and said, “I’ll do the dishes. Since there aren’t many to do... I have no idea how you can cook a meal and leave almost no trace of the action. Hell.... there is hardly any pots or pans dirty... ever, how do you do that?”

Then she was removing the plates and glasses to the sink. Mitch went up to the deck excusing himself. He said,“I’m going up to have a look about. I’ll be right back don’t go anywhere, OK?” She just nodded and kept busy at the sink. He entered the cool breeze above and as he always did checked the wake for signs of control issues. He glanced up at a thin cloud cover good sailing weather.

He spoke, “Sue.” The computer replies. “Yes, Captain.” He said, “Status.” The computer replies, “All systems normal... radar clear... sonar clear... no alerts.” He should have been happy to hear the usual reply coming from the computer, but he felt something was just too good to be true here. He said, “Sue.” The computer replies, “Yes, Captain.” Mitch says, “Radar maximum range, high scan rate, security condition orange.” The computer replies, “Aye... Aye, captain... radar maximum range... high scan rate... security condition orange.”

He stood there gazing out at the sea and thought, “I have to think this out thoroughly. Long before we make Manila I have to lose this transponder and disappear from the sea somehow. How in the hell am I going to pull that off?”

In life, as always... sometimes we just need a little luck.

After a long moment he went back below, and went straight to the nav station. Where he put in a search for satellite phone tap and trace and hit enter. It only took a moment to find an article about a National Geographic expedition that could not be found until they got their phone to work, because of an agreement that doesn’t allow governments to either trace or tap satellite phones using another countries satellite. “Interesting,” he thought then went to an instant messenger window and saw a friend in Sydney was online. Taking a chance that someone wasn’t watching him as he typed, he entered a chat with his friend Phillip in Sydney.

Mitch... Hi Phil.

Phillip… Hello Mitch, how have you been long time no see.

Mitch… I’m good how are things in Sydney?

Phillip… Not a lot… No wait… The damnedest thing happened the other day. Jerry Price was found beaten to death just after his boat burned to the waterline. Would you believe something like that could happen here?

Mitch paused before typing… What happened, did they catch the people who did this?

Phillip…That’s what was so weird. The cops said there was no trace of anyone at the scene no prints, nothing was there to trace them.

Mitch…Motive?

Phillip…Coppers feel it was some retaliation crapola

Mitch…Well I gotta go, I was just checking emails and saw you on, later maybe huh?

Phillip…Don’t be a stranger

He closed the chat and showed himself as invisible. Then he began to sob. Susan had just finished her chores. When she noticed Mitch lean over and begin to cry. She stepped over to him saying,“Oh my god… What’s wrong…? What happened? Why are you crying?” She rushed over to him and put her arms around him. Then he looked up and said, “I’m sorry it’s just… that… oh shit... they killed Jerry. God damn it!”

She fell to the deck in shock thinking,“Oh my god, because he gave me a ride on his boat he’s dead? Why would anybody do something like that and all he did was to give me a ride on his boat?”

Sometime passed with no words being spoken between the two. Each sitting contemplating their own thoughts. The two of them were still in the salon when Mitch his crying jag over said, “It may have been... because he gave you a lift... but it wasn’t you that killed him, so stop blaming yourself.” She just stared at him in disbelief, “How do you know? When did you find out? Are you sure about this?”

He looked at her, “I was in an online chat with a mutual friend in Sydney. He brought it up not me. I don’t think they can trace or tap chat as yet, at least I hope not. Well now we know this is an all or nothing end game and there are no rules.” Mitch got up and extended her his hand, “Let’s go to bed. Tomorrow is a new day and I’ll figure out a way for us to survive all of this. OK?” She took his hand and they went to the cabin.

The light was streaming into the cabin windows as Mitch was awakened by the computer, “Alert... contact... bearing two one zero degrees... range nine hundred meters... closing... speed nineteen knots.” He sat up and said, “Sue... I got it.” Then he got up splashed water in his face. He went up to the deck. Where he turned on the camera and brought up an image of a small pirogue style fishing boat headed towards him, but not quite directly. However it appeared that their paths would be very close to one another and soon. He thought for a moment, “Where am I. Are there any nearby islands. I don’t remember any and that boat doesn’t have long-range ability. So where did it come from… Check the radar,” He pulled up the long-range radar and saw the small boat blip moving towards him. Then he saw it, there was a land mass, small as it might be, but a land mass for sure. Then he pulled up the chart on the GPS screen and there it was a small as yet unnamed island, right where the radar said it was. He laughed ,”I’ve been by here a hundred times and didn’t know that rock was there much less have any people out here.”

Just about then he heard the engine as the boat neared. He retrieved the forty-five from the bench where he last put it. Stuffing it behind his back in his shorts he awaited the boat. Now it was less than fifty yards and slowing as it neared. The driver was holding up his arms apparently to show he was unarmed and shouting, “I just want to know... If I could perhaps buy some salt and flour... please.” The man added, “I am alone and have missed my supply ship.”

He seemed harmless enough. After reassuring himself that the guy was indeed unarmed. Mitch said, “You have cash?” The guy laughed and said, “I have some Australian dollars will that work?” Mitch smiled, “Yeah mate come along side.” Then he said in a lower voice, “Susan! Just stay out of sight, OK?” She answered, “No problem. I’m going in the aft cabin now.” She went in and got in the shower. She pulled the door closed behind her.

The young man pulled up behind the sailboat. Where Mitch said, “I don’t want to stop, so if you don’t mind tie off back here and come aboard.” He nodded and Mitch tossed him a line. After tying up to the still moving sailboat the young Aussie climbed up the steps from the swim deck as he was explaining his situation to Mitch, “Hi... I’m Jack Elliott. I am with Greenpeace. I am out here putting transponders on a group of Whales. They pass by here each year and my supply ship had some mechanical issues. They will be here next week but I saw your boat on the horizon and I figured maybe I could get a few items from you to tide me over till they come.”

Mitch said, “Mitch Torrance here... sure thing no problem. Hey... you want a glass of Pepsi?” The lad said, “That would be great, thanks.” Mitch said,“Wait here OK?” Then he went below and returned with two glasses of ice and Pepsi. Along with a five-pound bag of salt and a ten pound bag of flour. Mitch said,“This enough?” He handed the bags to Jack. Jack was busy drinking the soda. Then he said,“Yeah that’s great thank you. How can I repay you?” Mitch thought and said, “So... which direction are these whales moving?” Jack said, “This group always moves through here on their way just south of the Philippines towards Vietnam. Why do you ask... are you a friend or foe to Whales?”

Mitch laughed, “I happen to love ‘em except when they want to scratch their backs under the boat, been heaved up a couple of times not much fun.” Jack said, “I’ve heard of that behavior, but never experienced it myself. You are one of the lucky ones to have had that happen to you. They mean no harm, you know?” Mitch said, “Yeah I know that, but it’s still a bit unnerving when it happens. So let me ask a question... how do you attach the transponder by yourself? And just how is it done?”

Jack answered, “I have two associates over on the atoll, but today I was just out scouting. We use a small harpoon. Actually it does no harm to the whale, it just places a stainless hook with a small nylon bag containing the unit that a satellite follows and tracks. Why do you ask?”

Mitch said, “No harm ‘eh… OK... look, I suppose I’ll just have to trust you don’t say anything until I have finished speaking, OK? There are some bad guys after me from the CIA and I could use your help. You have only my word that I’m not a bad guy. Please believe me... OK... I’m not. It will cause neither you nor anyone else trouble. You see that transponder there?” Pointing at the small block by the bench.

Jack said, “Yes... it looks like one of ours actually.” Mitch paused then said, “Wonderful, look I’ll give you several bags, rice, flour, salt... hell... even a case of beer and say five hundred American... to add that to one of your tagging. Then the spooks will follow a whale instead of me across the ocean. What do you think?” Jack, “Why is the CIA after you?”

Mitch lied and said, “Actually I’m not sure, but I have reason to believe that they were behind a friends recent death in the Sydney harbor. They came aboard me while I was delivering goods on Tapiwa Island and they looked around. Then they left and later they snuck back and put that down on my hull before I left Tapiwa to come out here.”

Jack said,“Wow, we actually heard about that Sydney incident, it was on our radio and we had guessed then that it was some spy thing or other. I mean they beat someone to death and torched his boat in the harbor. You knew him?” Mitch said, “Yeah, his name was Jerry Price… Look you have to believe me. Neither Jerry... nor I are anything but hard-working guys. Somehow these CIA idiots feel that... They need to screw with us for some god awful reason and I have no clue why. I just want to lose that thing somewhere.”

Jack said, “Look I don’t care about that, but I have no love for the CIA and it won’t hurt the whale. So what the bloody hell consider it done. Your signal is on its way to the Philippines tomorrow my friend.” Then they shook hands. Mitch went below and carried several bags of rice, flour, salt and two cases of beer up on deck.

The two of them loaded the goods into his small boat along with the transponder. Mitch said, “Your friends will they have a problem with this?” Jack answered,“Really it looks just like ours, same color even. I’ll just put it on the next tagging mission in the morning the others need not even know.” Then he put the cash in his pocket and climbed back aboard his boat. Then he released the line from the still moving sailboat. Started his outboard motor then he was moving away.

Mitch watched him ride off into the distance before going below. She was waiting, “I hope you didn’t just sign his death warrant.” He said, “No, at least I certainly hope not. I honestly believe him... It’ll be moving in another direction by tomorrow. We will have made our last stop for deliveries and then we will headed the same direction. I wonder how fast a whale travels anyway.” On his way back to the atoll. Jack had sighted a whale, intercepted it and planted a small extra package along with his tracking device. In his log he placed an asterisk next to the number.

Aboard the Susurrus things had gotten somewhat back to normal. Mitch was checking the latest picture from the satellite. Sally/Susan came up behind him naked put her hands over his eyes and said, “Guess who?” This time he had heard her coming up behind him. “Sally?” He had spoken before thinking a habit that often got him in trouble. She jerked at the name,“Susan of course silly, why did you say Sally?” He paused,“Sorry just a little joke.”

He turned and getting up kissed the naked vision standing in front of him, a deep long kiss that began the burning fires of passion in them. Breaking the kiss she said, “What’s that?” He looked at her, then turned as she was staring at the Monitor. Then he saw it too. The image although a still picture was of a large sloop obviously moving quickly under sail across the blue ocean. It was the Susurrus in full view, but from space. They were being tracked again.

Mitch wondered aloud, “I wonder if they were watching when the Aussie came aboard and left with the transponder? Or if they can tell that the signal is no longer coming from here?”

One the other side of the globe, an operator said, “Well everything looks normal now that we have our time slot back. Now he’s just sailing towards the west as we figured.” His boss, “Let him go for now, I think that is a waste of time anyway. Try to find the other one, the… Oh yeah, the Searcher, see what they are up to and if they still have him on radar.” Operator, “OK, I didn’t have time to verify the tracking pulse, but whatever you say sending the command now.”

On board the Susurrus quite some time later. Mitch is drying off after getting out of the shower. He said, “Hey… I’m going on deck for a few then I’ll come down and cook us up some dinner, what do you think?” Sally in the shower, answered,“Whatever you wish, so long as afterwards. I get an encore performance.”

He chuckled and went up on deck. Where he went to the Monitor. He pulled the latest image from the satellite. When the image scanned on to the screen, he was a little surprised to see not the Susurrus, but a vessel that looked more like a navy ship, perhaps a mine sweeper. Then he saw it… the chopper on the aft platform, he recognized it and knew at once. He was seeing the Searcher.

He thought,“OK, so I am no longer their prime viewing material, but why that boat? Oh yeah... there is Mutt and Jeff on the deck, what are they doing?” He quickly sent a command and grabbed a new picture. Then he saw they must have gotten in the chopper, as the blades were slightly blurred, as if taking off. Mitch thought,“They were going to the chopper, wonder where they are going? I should try for some sort of live feed from this thing.”

Then he closed the console and went below to cook dinner. He prepared some chicken breasts over wild rice with a lemony vinaigrette sauce. This along with some asparagus. They ate dinner with very little conversation. She kept smiling at him. He kept thinking that somehow this was simply way too good to be true, but accepting life as it is he kept his mouth shut. Susan/Sally said, “Well master... you have done it again, that was absolutely wonderful… Where did you learn to cook?”

Mitch said, “In the woods. While I was hunting, fishing, all the things a normal country boy does you know…” She laughed, “Seriously I mean it. Every meal is as if you had a chef hidden away somewhere and he was slipping you plates. But I watch you cook and you not only cook great meals. You handle yourself as if you trained for the job. So were you?” After a pause he said, “Sorry, I wasn’t trained. I just love food... good food that is. I picked up some recipes and techniques from the web... some work well. The others I tossed overboard,”

She said bluntly,“Well I suppose I get dish duty again… Just kidding. I love doing it really, no price at all to pay for a meal. Such as you provide.” He just chuckled, “Actually it is my pleasure. I don’t get a chance to cook meals for someone else very often and I do appreciate your enjoyment of them. I mean that.”

He got up. Helped put the dishes on the counter gave her a kiss and went to the console. Where he searched for a few minutes before downloading a program that after installing he was able to successfully “pull” jpeg images in almost real-time from the satellite above them. When he had gotten it working he began viewing a simulated video image a little choppy, but a video of sorts on to the screen. He exclaimed, “HA, I got it.”

She had finished the dishes. She was contemplating getting naked and accosting him. When he shouted. So she stopped and went over to see what had him so excited. There she saw along with Mitch a “movie” of the ‘Searcher’ and as they looked the chopper was coming into view. Then it was landing on the rear platform, four men emerged along with another. They had to almost drag the man out of the chopper across the deck towards the front of the boat.

He was apparently either handcuffed or had his hands tied behind his back. Mitch strained his eyes at the small image, but was somewhat relieved that he had no idea who the man was. As he could make out just enough that he knew it wasn’t anyone that he had a memory of. She said, “What will they do to him?” Mitch replied, “I have no idea, but I’m sure he isn’t going to enjoy his stay aboard that ‘research’ vessel.”

It was then that he saw the numbers small though they were at the top right of the screen. Seven, zero, zero, five, eight, seven, nine, one, three, two, five, seven, three, eight. He wrote them down on a piece of paper. She said, “What is that? He said, “Latitude and Longitude it tells me where they are.”

Then he was looking at a chart of the area that he had pulled out of the shallow drawer below the keyboard. After swinging a pair of rulers across the chart he stuck a small pin in the middle of the sea. He didn’t bother to look up. He stated, “They are almost to the Philippines. Closer than we are. They must have run at full speed since we lost them. My best guess is that either they got new orders and they are after someone else, poor bastards or they are just going to lie in wait for us to show up. Hell... they have our location even without the transponder. It seems they can look at us when ever they want.”

He then shut down the feed. He had seen enough of the dark side of the world for a while. Tomorrow would be soon enough for more grief. He said, “Sue, status.” The computer replied, “All systems normal... security system condition orange.” He thought about going to red, then changed his mind. He slowly turned around to view a reclining nude named Sally that wanted to be a Susan.

Mitch rose from his chair dropping his shorts, he said, “Come my dear... please me and I shall return your actions tenfold in kind... or something like that.” They both laughed and fell entangled on the deck. This day is not yet quite finished, but soon…

Tomorrow is a day not yet unfolded for recording into our story, but it will be soon enough.



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