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The Journey of Rick Heiden

All Rights Reserved © 2018, Rick Haydn Horst

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.


Activating Plan B required the retrieval of Amaré’s sword and Cadmar’s personal effects. We passed through several junctions and corridors as fast as we dared, considering people were working and going about their duties –no sense making anyone suspicious. We arrived at the lab, startling Aiden into spilling his tea.

“Hello, Aiden,” I said, “sorry we spooked you.”

“My recent actions have caused me to feel on edge all morning,” he said. “I’m not very good at being bad. Have you seen the body?”

“No,” said David, “the body is gone. Therefore, we are taking what is not government property.” He picked up Amaré’s sword and handed it to me. He looked for Cadmar’s sword and ring on the other table, but they were gone. “What happened to them?” Frantic to find them, he searched every surface. “Aiden, what happened to Cadmar’s sword and the ring?”

“I don’t know. I hadn’t seen them this morning. Did you say the body is gone?”

“Damn, she must have taken those too,” David said. “Let’s go, Rick. We haven’t the time to search for something that isn’t here.”

“If you’re leaving,” said Aiden, “and I mean leaving leaving. Will you need help?”

David thought about it for a moment. “Maybe.” He motioned for Aiden to join us.

The three of us left to release Amaré, at which point we would need to leave the facility. We made a glance around the corner to the observation room; the two guards flanking the door stood rigid like they guarded the vault at the Bank of England. David could have stunned them, but I should speak to Amaré first. I had no clue how we could get Amaré out without anyone noticing on the CCTV and alerting someone.

“I hope you have a plan for this,” I said. “You know this place better than I do.”

“Indeed, I do. We will walk to the door; I’ll get you past the guards; then, you go in and explain to Amaré what’s happened. Don’t worry about the CCTV; they don’t monitor it in real-time. Just don’t give them anything we wouldn’t want them to know. Signal me when you’ve finished. I’ll take care of my part.”

“What do you need me to do?” Aiden said.

“Something vital,” said David. “The guards don’t have to stand at attention like that; they aren’t guarding Buckingham Palace. We have minimum security here, so the job’s a dawdle. I’ve even seen the guards have tea. I would like you to offer them some, get it, and give it to them.”

“You’re joking,” he said. “You’re fobbing me off with some ridiculous errand.”

“Aiden, I don’t know why he wants the tea,” I said, “but David says he needs it. Please, just do it. I’m willing to trade jobs with you.”

Aiden’s eyes grew wide. “Me…in the same room with Amaré?” He shook his head in panic. “No. No. I’ll go get the tea.”

“Calm down, you don’t speak Japanese anyway,” David said. “This plan begins with you, so go ahead. Just tell them you’re making a round and thought they would like some tea. Then when they say yes, bring a whole tray, tea, sugar, milk, lemon, the works, and set it on the console across from them. Once that’s done, I want you to take some to the guards at the tunnel entrance.”

“What if they don’t want tea?” he asked.

“Trust me; they will. Go,” David shoved him around the corner.

We watched as best we could from our location.

“Do you need the tea?” I asked, skeptical of the whole idea. I used my foot to slide the sword beneath the console table behind us.

“Tea will make an excellent distraction. I don’t know what we’ll do about Aiden since Amaré scares him. What happens when we release him? We have our cue.”

They accepted the invitation for tea, and we walked around the corner as Aiden was leaving to pass him on the way. Upon reaching the guards, David said, “I see Aiden leaving, did he offer to get you chaps tea as well? He got us a round earlier. Thoughtful of him, wasn’t it, Rick?”

I could do nothing but smile and close my eyes in embarrassment; David would have made a pathetic liar.

“May we help you?” one guard asked.

“Indeed, you may.” David retrieved his identification from the right inside jacket pocket, presenting it. “It’s urgent that my friend speaks with Amaré. It shouldn’t take long.”

“Oh, you’re Mr. Levitt,” the guard said. “Hey Rob, this is David Levitt.” He said to his fellow guard.

“I’m sorry,” Rob said, “he doesn’t sound familiar, Freddy. No disrespect intended, Sir.”

“That’s quite alright,” David said, a bit confused.

“You know Rob, David Levitt…the bloke whose name is all over the internet this morning,” Freddy said.

“Why is my name all over the internet?” asked David.

“An American senator named Scott resigned this istanbul travesti morning, and he mentioned your name. Somehow the media found out he was talking about you.”

And with that, David made an uncharacteristic burst of laughter. I hadn’t known what to say, but I knew I needed to speak with Amaré, so I went through the door. The instant the door shut, David’s laughter vanished, leaving the silence of the observation room.

Amaré heard the sound when the door opened. He shot to his feet in his room of steel and glass. He stood as he often did, feet together, hands clasped behind his back with his head held high and spine straight. He had dressed, and his scarlet tunic covered in gold vine presented a fitting complement to his regal manner. Jiyū may not have royalty, but Amaré must be its most august denizen, for who could meet him and not feel a sense of awe. In counterbalance to his enormity, his real strength emanated from within, expressing itself in his quiet presence.

I stood before him and made a low bow. He did likewise. He looked pleased to see me, and I wondered if he would remain that way after I informed him of the situation. I began with a sincere apology for his having to endure the confinement. At this, he spoke, which I thought unusual as we had yet to fulfill several customs before getting to business. He told me in Japanese, “I am over a thousand jears old, believe me, my time in this cell has been short.”

I told him of what had transpired. He said it concerned him that something had happened and that we did the right thing. We should leave and not risk making matters worse if we could avoid it.

I decided to ask an impertinent question for such a curious thing to say, “At the risk of sounding impertinent, is coming here not risky? Is having the portal not risky?”

“They are,” he said.

“If they are,” I said, “then why risk making matters worse by doing and having these things?”

He seemed somewhat amused. “All things have an element of risk, but we keep the portal not because we seek peril, we seek greater connection. Humans are not islands, and we cannot separate ourselves from one another any more than we can separate ourselves from our past. I would enjoy continuing this conversation with you, but we do not have the time. Do you have a plan for our escape?”

I relayed the plan, but he found what I knew of it lacking in detail, and I agreed. I then told of Aiden and his terror of him, asking if he had seen Aiden. He said that he had, many times.

“He seems a rather curious fellow, both drawn to me and terrified. I do not understand the reason.”

In the corridor, Aiden had returned with the tea, and as I noted later, he had the presence of mind to bring two of everything, as he had stacked the trays together. David tapped on the window, telling me to wrap it up. I signaled to him our readiness. After a few minutes, I heard faint but familiar, short, sharp chirps. David entered the room, reset the controls of his pistol, and fired upon the camera on the wall. He then imitated my bow to Amaré.

Amaré smiled at me before he bowed in return, and I think I knew why. I had the feeling that somehow the people of Jiyū had stopped the courtesy of traditional bowing.

David went to the door of the cell. He aimed it at the magnetic lock and fired upon it, destroying the mechanism inside.

“A directed electromagnetic pulse,” David said to me and swung the door open.

The three of us left the observation room to find the two guards lying on the floor next to two cups of spilled tea. “They look dead,” I said in alarm.

“They’ll be unconscious for a while,” he said, resetting his pistol back to its previous stun setting.

Once I retrieved the sword from beneath the console table, we began our expeditious trek through the labyrinth. It pleased Amaré to have his sword back.

Unconscious on arrival, Amaré saw none of that area when they brought him to the facility. He awoke in the observation room. Not knowing what to expect, he held his sword ready for a fight should the need arise. I assured him that the people working there wouldn’t present that sort of danger. We also wouldn’t want to alarm them further when his presence was alarming enough. He did as I requested.

“Always defer to the one with the greater knowledge,” whispered Amaré in Japanese as he scabbarded his sword.

“I’m curious, why the tea?” I asked David with Amaré trailing behind.

“I figured having a teacup in their hand would slow their ability to pull their sidearm, and I needed all the help I could get. I kept this weapon in storage during my stay here. Firing an energy weapon is different than a projectile weapon; I’ve not practiced with this one in years –a fact for which Aiden should be grateful. I shot at him Saturday night and missed. If I had greater proficiency, he would be dead.”

“Well, it was dark,” I said.

With a rapid sweep of his arm, Amaré drew us back before entering the last junction near the istanbul travestileri lift into an empty room where he whispered to me.

“What is it? What’s wrong?” David asked.

“He says that the relief guards are coming to replace the ones outside the observation room. We need to speed this up, David.”

“Right,” he said.

Once they had passed us, we exited the room, crossed the front of the lift, and came upon the tunnel to the underground entrance. We had our choice of two electric carts used to transport people the distance. The corridor looked like all the others, but the walls had no doors, and it dipped as if it were avoiding something closer to the surface. It felt like we had ridden a half-mile when in the distance, the door appeared. It looked exactly like the one at the garage entrance, so I surmised that the other side had a white room with guards. As a more utilized entrance, they hadn’t left this white room as empty as the one at the garage. It had places to hang coats, and an umbrella stand with several umbrellas inside. We burst through the door, and David stunned the two guards making tea brought to them by Aiden, who had gotten out of the way. When he saw Amaré, he began screaming in terror. I went to him, turned his back to Amaré, and slapped him to make him stop. That’s when the phone on the desk rang.

“We don’t have time to deal with your irrational fears,” I said. “I will ask you once and only once. Do you want to come with us?” The phone continued to ring.

“I would regret saying no,” said Aiden, “so yes, please.”

“Let us go,” said David. “That call could have warned them about us.”

We kept Aiden in front to prevent problems. Exiting, we found ourselves in a narrow hallway attached to the London Underground. I should have guessed where it led.

David had put his pistol away, and Amaré had no choice but to bend down inside the corridor due to the low ceiling. When the door closed behind him, the flat surface blended into the wall.

“What station is this?” I asked.

“It’s Canada Water.” Aiden pointed to the sign through the pedestrian traffic.

“I’m unfamiliar with this one,” I replied.

“The tunnel passed under the Thames,” David said. “We must leave here; there’s CCTV everywhere.”

David had parked a small van in a nearby parking garage during the first week of Amaré’s capture. We had a tight fit as he hadn’t planned on taking an extra passenger, but fit we did. Aiden sat in the front with David. The cramped space in the back, lit only by tiny windows on the rear of the vehicle, forced Amaré to fold himself a bit, but otherwise, he seemed okay. It concerned me that we left without hindrance.

“You are worried,” Amaré said to me in Japanese.

“It shows?” I asked, and Amaré nodded. “Someone is watching us, I think.”

“How?” he asked.

“I don’t know, there are many possibilities, but we escaped too easily,” I began rubbing my stubbled hair.

“Should you be correct,” he said, “without knowing how in time, we can only act as events unfold.” He looked at me in curiosity. “I noticed that your hair is growing now. How long have you known Mr. Levitt?”

“About two months. Do you think that we’re moving too fast?”

“No one, but you, should judge your life,” he said. “The question is, do you think you are moving too fast?”

“It’s unusual for me, and I know what people might expect of me by my upbringing, but no, David’s amazing. I want nothing more than to be with him.”

“Then you have answered your question,” he said, “but even if you change your mind later, let the decision be yours. It isn’t for others to decide what is best for you, pressuring you into living the life they would choose for you.”

“Does Jiyū have marriage?” I asked.

“Not as you would understand it. We have no government to recognize marriages, and without that, it is just a promise made. So, you either keep your promises or you do not. People of honor and integrity need no witnesses or ceremonies for such things. However, most couples on Jiyū do not bother with such promises. Life is complex, and future circumstances, too difficult to predict. Most couples live without judgment or expectation. Because of this, we have couples who have stayed together hundreds of jears.”

“From what David told me,” I said, “Jiyū uses the honor system. How does that work?”

“We have a few simple rules,” said Amaré. “Please, understand –regardless of how it sounds– we make no unreasonable expectations of anyone. We always try to consider circumstances and intentions. However, our culture expects you to say what you mean, and mean what you say, and to treat others how they want you to treat them. But what you do reflects on your standing in the community. When someone willfully demonstrates that they do not keep their word, tells lies, doesn’t apologize, and treats people poorly, others will feel less inclined to embrace them. Given the level of interdependence integral to our culture, the community not travesti istanbul embracing you makes life difficult. For clarity, this happens not as punishment; it’s a natural result of acting unkind, dishonorable, and without integrity.”

“David feels sure that the failure to retrieve Cadmar’s body will result in a stain upon his honor,” I said. “Is that true?”

“If we have any failures as a culture,” said Amaré, “it’s that we have an overzealousness in ensuring our children grow with a sense of integrity and the understanding that they must protect their honor. Under normal circumstances, it would be a good thing. But I believe some parents do not balance these concepts well enough with reason, understanding, and compassion –not for others, as their parents will certainly teach that, but rather compassion for themselves. The inability to forgive oneself for perceived failure is damaging to the individual. It causes them to expect unrealistic and unreasonable things of themselves, and that is no way to live a good life. As mate to Mr. Levitt, please remember that for him. He will need you.”

The trip tossed us about in the back of the van for 90 minutes before we came to a stop. The front doors of the vehicle opened and slammed shut. If we had reached the end of the road, I was grateful. The warm, muggy air in the back caused profuse sweating. The rear doors opened, and a cool breeze refreshed my senses.

David grew alarmed to see us in such a state, “I’m sorry, we should have arrived long ago. Construction forced us to take a secondary road, and that delayed us. Are you okay?” David asked, pulling me to him.

Once I was breathing fresh air, I felt fine. Amaré, who could straighten himself once again, seemed well. Aiden, rudely but prudently, stood with his back to us to not induce panic.

“I feel okay now that it’s over,” I said. “Where are we?” We had parked in the lot of a café, and I saw a path through a walled brick enclosure.

“We’re at the park at Painshill, and in case you don’t know, that’s southwest of London near Cobham, and yes, I know you don’t know where Cobham is either,” he said, smiling. “That’s quite alright; it doesn’t matter in the slightest.” He gave me a quick kiss.

I saw that Amaré had a little smile on his face. It made me wonder if Amaré had a mate. Whoever that might be, they would make an intriguing match.

“So,” I said, “where do we go from here, and what should we do with the van?”

“We go into the park, and we’ll abandon the van. It’s unimportant.” David stared at the back of Aiden’s head. “Are you okay, Aiden?”

“If I don’t think about it, I’m fine,” he said with a quake in his voice.

With Aiden leading the way, guided by David, we marched into the park beneath the gateway of the brick perimeter wall. The park had well-manicured grass that had gone dormant for the winter. It had many trees and vast open spaces divided by pathways, as most of the parks in London did. We took a shortcut through a stand of hardwoods that during summer would have a lush green canopy. We came upon an oval-shaped clearing.

David gestured to the center of the space, and Amaré came forward. When he stood within thirty feet of the spot, something faded into appearance before him. Aiden hadn’t noticed Amaré stood by him, too enthralled by the object.

I witnessed a wondrous, round, dark metal structure. It stood 4 feet high and 20 feet wide and reminded me of round podium steps. There were four steps to the top, and the top had a walkway surrounding a deep concave recess, inside which emanated a strange blue light that moved about in swirls like an electrical fluid. Centrally, near the crevice and level with the walkway, floated a thin, round, semi-transparent platform. Smaller than the pathway, it left a gap of a few inches. Alien-looking, silvery filigree covered the three lower risers, and writing unlike anything I had ever seen, wrapped the riser at the top. A thin blue light wrapped the device in the center of every tread.

That’s when a female voice interrupted the silence behind us. “My goodness, what an interesting piece of machinery.”

We all turned. Katheryn Elliot had followed us, and she held a pistol. David shielded me, and Aiden stood near Amaré behind us.

“I thought someone was watching us,” I said. “How did you do it?”

“I placed a GPS tracking device into the lining of Amaré’s jacket,” she said. “I’m not much of a seamstress, so imagine my astonishment when the cut I made in the jacket sealed itself. How thoughtful.”

“You could have just watched and waited until we left,” said David. “What’s this about?”

“I had that plan too,” she said, “but I knew Aiden came with you. I have a little score to settle with you. You managed to block my appointment to the council for two years. I have hated you for that, Aiden, but when Cadmar fell into our laps, I saw it as an opportunity. I went to the appropriate people, told them what I knew, made a deal or two, and they offered me everything I could have wanted, but Cadmar wasn’t enough. I had to find the portal on my own because they wouldn’t believe it existed. So, I tracked you all down only to find you, Aiden, after all the things that you did to me. Oh, I won’t kill you; I want to hurt you. Considerate it a bon voyage gift.” She pulled the trigger.

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