The Sixth 8
Into the Night
A motorcycle, mounted by two riders silhouetted in the dead of night, is winding down near a tall rock formation. The engine had been cut seconds ago for stealth purposes. The riders know they’re a good mile from the frenzy that has become the old four-four. This is as close as they are going to get if what they’ve seen is any indication.
Believe it or not, Gencor has been able to get one full square mile cordoned with federal agents at every driveable route, badges and guns flashing too. It would be far too risky to try and sneak closer than they are now. Anything the riders can see from here will have to do and they will have to be gone by sun-up or risk being seen, identified and captured or worse.
The riders will get filleted by oversight if worse happens to them so they will be gone before morning.
According to the federal agents they encountered; there have been some recent attacks so they aren’t letting anyone through, not even on the lower roads built for whichever locals use the area as a shortcut. The authorities haven’t caught any suspects so it is far too dangerous. Needless to say the agents were not authorized to divulge more than that to the public, especially two joy riders that could easily pass for reporters this late at night.
The agents had been handpicked for this mission so there would be no unknown source on any news report. The agents picked for the operation knew there would be more than jobs lost if they screwed up. The last agent who made that mistake had a current, mobile address in a beat up cardboard box with a removable window he used as a sign to beg for spare change during daytime.
The light on the cycle goes dark as it drifts forward slower and slower. Security lights in the distance give the night sky an orange hue. The riders will have to be careful because they are not in pitch black. If anyone takes a careful look they may be spotted.
Neither Simone nor Rory, clutching for dear life to Simone on the cycle, had been happy to hear they couldn’t get through the makeshift checkpoint. Being allowed to pass and get a good look at the remains of the caravan would have allowed them to pick up any trace of Cory. By now he would be out of his mind with worry and, they could find him easily.
Simone dreads to think of any other possibility than finding Cory alive. They had become such good friends since she met him that she can’t bear to think that Cory could be gone forever. There had been an explosion on the roads the federal agents are now guarding. The caravan carrying Cory had exploded, according to the reports Simone and Rory overheard. It came from reliable sources worth checking. Command thought otherwise, Simone didn’t.
Neither girl had been able to scan for Cory at the checkpoint because they were busy masking one another from sniffers while being questioned by federal agents. They still had to keep guarding one another this close to the site. It helped that the visors on the riding helmets were tinted black, even late at night. They were able to focus on guarding their minds and not worry so much about being recognized.
Simone lets the cycle drift to a complete stop directly behind the high rock formation. She had ridden for the boulders the moment the feds turned them around and Rory pointed it out. As the cycle comes to a stop, Simone supports the weight with her feet since Rory refuses to even drop her feet off the bike. The girl is scared out of her wits.
Rory immediately hops off the back and throws off her helmet and breathes in fresh air while Simone sets the kickstand. “Ro, get a grip or you’ll give us away.” Simone dismounts the motorcycle and removes her helmet, careful to do a full visual before taking her first breath of relief and setting the helmet onto a handlebar.
“I’m calm!” Rory says breathlessly. She’s anything but. She’s scared out of her wits, tired, sleepy, and would love to just go home. If she calculated correctly, the ride here and the time spent questioning the agents took about an hour and change. It will be well into three AM, coming on four. They have about two plus hours before they’re expected to be up and ready for class.
Today is going to suck. Rory is going to sleep extra early to catch up on every second of sleep she’s missed tonight – or last night – or whatever night just passed while they are out here looking for a burning bus or truck or vehicle carrying Cory. Dam boy had to go get himself caught at night.
There is, of course, the off chance that they would get a few extra hours of sleep with all that’s happening. Rory will not be counting on that before someone actually says it out loud.
“You’re not.” Simone says coolly while measuring the rock formation jutting precariously into the sky. It’s at an angle that makes it look like it had been falling and forgot to finish. Good thing the bike is parked on the other side, just in case the rock decides it’s going to finish falling. She would hate to be found smushed near the motorbike and start a debate about how long she’s been under it.
Rory catches what Simone is doing before she can respond. Height is the second worst thing Rory can imagine tackling. She’s already done the Bike. “You’re doing the climbing, right?”
Simone turns to her. Of course she would chicken out. Rory doesn’t like riding bikes and she doesn’t like going on anything over ten feet tall. But Simone needs a good laugh tonight. “You’re the one with the good night-eyes.”
Rory flinches and takes one step away from Simone. “The rock’s as tall as a house.”
If it weren’t for the fact that they could get caught and tortured, Simone would milk this game for all the laughs she could get. Simone chuckles. “Think you could at least lift me, Chicken?”
This girl is really pushing it tonight. Rory gives Simone a look she doesn’t seem to realize she’s getting. Much too dark for glares. Simone plays too much. “My telekinetic powers might not be able to help you over twenty feet.” Rory takes a mental measure of the rock’s height. “And with your weight, take about a foot and a half off before fatigue kicks in. The rock looks like it peaks about thirty feet or so.” She catches glimpses of stars even with the glow of lights on the clouds.
Simone looks at her. “Got it. Just get me as high as you can. I’ll climb the rest.”
“You know if you fall from th…”
“Focus on getting me up. Nothing else.” Simone says flatly.
“Ok.” Rory nods. She is only trying to warn Simone about the splat-factor, but up it will be. “Just say when.”
“When.” Simone tells her without hesitation. The quicker she’s up and done, the less they run the risk of getting caught. She turns to the rock ready to go, ready take over when Rory gets exhausted. Simone relaxes and waits till she feels the mental impression of Rory encasing her in a synergistic clasp and hoisting her off the ground. Gently, at first, and then up she floats toward the summit of the rock.
Simone can’t help counting the feet from the ground while paying attention to the smooth upward motion of Rory’s kinetic boost. Fifteen feet, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, and then the smoothness begins to sputter. Nineteen, twenty – Simone doesn’t try to start climbing yet, she lets Rory do as much as she can before she begins inching closer and closer to the rock face. The upward movement has all but ceased when she holds on and gets a grasp.
Footing check. Good grasp, check. Simone makes sure she has a good hold before sliding her legs on the rock. True to her word, Rory got her up about twenty feet or so before she gave out, no more. Simone finds the nooks she can and pulls upward. Rory had done most of the work now it is her turn.
Five feet above where Rory had been able to put her, voices fill the night around Simone. She pauses; feeling the tension in her arms from gripping the rock and spins her head, carefully in either direction. She doesn’t need to go any higher. What’s left of the caravan is about two miles southeast of the rock formation.
And, Rory was right about not trying to sneak any closer. Simone sees subtle movements in the areas surrounding the square near the caravan, where no federal agents are stationed. Those would be Gencor agents.
Simone nearly loses her grip on the rock when she flinches after realizing that there is a group of Gencor agents stationed about a quarter mile from the rock she’s clinging to. The smoke gray clothing was a good choice, Simone breaths slightly.
She’s even more thankful that Rory is afraid of heights and didn’t come up here in the clothes she’s wearing because she’d be spotted. Simone hangs loose trying to make sure no one is looking in her direction. She strains her eyes to see as much as she can out where the caravan remains is smoldering. Nothing there but smoke, ash, and a swarm of lights.
Simone grips the rock for dear life when one of Gencor agents closest to the rock walks in the direction of the rock and stops, eyeballing the rock with a hand over his eyes, as if to block out glare. What’s this guy seeing? Simone’s heart begins to thud. If they see her she would need to get down before they make it there.
If she moves her head or any part of her, she feels like she’d be noticed. Not even to warn Rory unless the Gencor agents move toward them. But the man is looking straight at her, she can almost say for certain. Simone wonders if he sees her.
“Something up?” Simone hears a man ask out near the peeper.
There is a brief delay before the peeper responds. “Nah, just that rock over there.”
“What about it?” The first man asks. Simone sees him standing not too far from the man spying at the rock. It seems like his eyes are squarely on the man staring at her rock.
“We should take up position there.” She thinks she hears the spying man say. “It goes by that trail that leads to the state park.”
Thunder explodes inside Simone. Her chest feels like it’s going to burst open, her heart is beating so hard. She sees the second man walk to where the spying man is. He takes a long scrutinizing glance at the rock.
“Nah,” he says. “ That’s a long ways off. I’m tired as hell and they ain’t paying overtime for this.” He whines.
The spying man turns and laughs when the second man walks way. “You’re a really lazy son of a bitch, you know that.”
“No.” He answers. “I’m out here guarding a blown out bus at four in the morning while normal people are sleeping. Did I mention, no overtime?”
There is a heated, lighthearted debate between the two men. When Simone sees that they are returning to whatever they were doing she casts her sight back to the smoldering caravan. The fire is out and there is barely any smoke coming from it at this point. They work fast. It hadn’t been more than two hours since they heard about it.
Gripping onto the rock with all her might, legs and arms, Simone lets her mind wander the distance between the rock and the caravan, careful not to check for any sign of sniffers. Her target is Gencor guards near the caravan since none of the feds are near the wreck.
Simone finds and nudges a normie. She gets the woman’s name. Gets the woman’s title. Simone then gingerly digs deeper into the psyche of the woman until it is as if she is seeing what the woman is seeing in real time. Then hearing.
“No sign of the subject, after the fire was put out.” Simone grasps onto the rock tightly. Tears threaten. “An attack” she feels. “Possible assassination.” Five minutes of feeling around in the agent’s head is all Simone needs.
They don’t know what happened to Cory. They haven’t recovered a body. Simone slides down the rock gingerly, having had enough. She is careful not make her movement too sudden or make any sounds as she descends.
Then, she feels it. The gentle impression of Rory’s kinetics holding at her, drawing her in until it begins to float her down. Simone only relaxes when she’s beneath visual of the quarter mile mark she knew the agents who’d been arguing could see. As she descends she wipes at her eyes, wetting from worry about Cory.
“They don’t know what happened to, Cory.” She tells Rory in near whisper.
“Ok.” Rory whispers back to her.
“Ok?” Simone turns, less than five feet off the ground and frustrated. She comes face to face with a dreadful sight. How could this be possible? They had checked everything. Too frightened to speak, Simone drifts down down down toward the horror.
“Don’t try anything!” A man is behind Rory, with one hand curling around her torso and the other holding a silver pistol to her head. “It won’t end well for you or her.” He nudges the pistol against Rory’s skull to make a point. “Now, set her down nice and easy.” He says to Rory, keeping his eyes on Simone.
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