The Minotaur's Hit List (Doc Minus Two Book I), p.1Glenn Roug
taur's Hit List
Glenn I. Roug
Published by 2D River, NH
Copyright © 2014 Glenn I. Roug and 2D River
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner without the written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Map of the Labyrinth Cave in Gortyn, 1821, by Franz Sieber
I don't get into trouble. Never. I'm forty five years old and other than one speeding ticket and six parking tickets, the law has never bothered me much. My ex-wife Jane says I'm more likely to die of boredom than of any other cause. And so it came as a shock to me when two FBI agents jumped me one day in Boston when I got out of my car to go home, and pushed me into their Crown Victoria.
"Go," the FBI agent who was now sitting to the right of me in the back seat ordered the driver. He and his partner, who pushed against me from the left, slammed the car doors almost in unison.
"What did I do?" I protested.
"Who said you did anything?" the agent on the right said. "Did we say you did something?" He was chewing on a wooden toothpick, and he smelled of something fried.
"Then why did you force me into your car?"
"To save your life."
"Someone's planning to bump you off."
I was still too shocked from the suddenness of it all to be alarmed. "Who?" I said in a matter-of-fact tone, as if this was happening to someone else I read about in the paper.
The agent to the right shrugged. "I don't know yet."
"Then how do you know someone's planning to bump me off?"
"Because they got all the rest."
"Look," I said, "no disrespect, but I'm in no mood for riddles. They got all the rest of whom?"
Now the agent on the left spoke for the first time. He was short, with a slight Brooklyn accent and a broken nose. He handed me a piece of paper that said, AMERICAN AIRLINES 2251. He said, "You've been on that flight. Am I correct?"
I'm not good with numbers. Whether it is adding them, multiplying, or just recalling them from memory, I'm not your man. "I can't remember."
"Boston to Dallas, October 12th," he continued, somewhat impatiently. "Two years ago."
"Oh, yes. Yes I went down there on business."
"Congratulations," he said with a head nod. "You're the sole survivor of that flight."
"What do you mean? I don't get it. We landed safely. It was a perfectly ordinary flight."
"Yes it was," he conceded. "With sixty seven people on board, passengers and crew. Then two years go by and, lo and behold, you're the only one left. Everyone else on that flight was murdered."
I shook my head in disbelief. "Are you telling me someone just went and killed everyone who was on some ordinary commercial flight?"
"Everyone but you," the short agent said. "For now." His eyes, which had been focused on the piece of paper he had shown me, rose to meet mine. "Do you have any idea who they are?"
His question surprised me. "How should I know? You're the one who told me about them."
He sighed and scratched his nose. "We were hoping you could shed some light on this. To be honest, we don't have a clue."
After lowering my confidence in their ability with this admission, they refused to say any more except to tell me that I had to talk to their boss. We drove for a half an hour. It was raining hard. I did not have my umbrella on me. Now the only thing that bothered me was that I would get wet; as if nothing they had said stuck. That is human nature. We care more about immediate needs than theoretical dangers, no matter how great. A mosquito on your face is more annoying than a lion lurking a mile away.
It was getting dark now. They led me into an unassuming office building. For a moment I wondered why they put no handcuffs on me. Then I remembered that I was not under arrest. We climbed one flight up; there was no elevator. The taller agent knocked on a door, one of many in a narrow, windowless hallway. He went in, then came out a moment later. "She will see you now."
I walked in and they closed the door behind me and left me alone inside a tiny office with their boss. There was a narrow window in front of me as I entered, and to the right a small wooden desk, and on the opposite wall a few metal cabinets. The woman who sat at the other side of the desk was dressed in a business suit. She was in her fifties or sixties, hair carefully done. There was an air of calmness about her. She was typing something on her laptop slowly, then raised one hand without looking at me and motioned me to sit down on the only other chair in the room. I did as requested. After a few moments she raised her eyes from the screen and looked at me. "You are Albert DeSalvo I take it?"
"Yes," I said. I thought she had a pleasant voice.
She glimpsed at her computer screen. "Forty five years old. Lost your job in the Framingham Institute of Archaeology a year ago. Moved to Boston two years ago to be closer to your ex-wife and son."
"To be closer to my son."
"Are you still unemployed?"
"How's your job search coming along?"
"I had some interviews. In fact I was coming back from one today when your guys surprised me."
"Does it look promising?"
She tried to make a joke. "Maybe they don't like to hire people with the same name as the alleged Boston Strangler."
"Nobody knows who he was anymore. I'd have to change my name to Charles Manson if I wanted to be discriminated against."
She smiled, then assumed a more serious expression and leaned back in her chair. "I take it they told you on the way here why I wanted to talk to you?"
"Yes they did."
"That doesn't surprise me, considering that I strictly forbade them to do that. But you are an interesting case. As a junior agent, I too would have found it hard to pass up the opportunity to talk to you."
I spread my arms open in desperation. "Why do they want to kill me?"
"Don't get a swollen head. They want to kill everyone on that flight, not just you."
"If we knew that, we'd know who's behind it, and then we could arrest them. I'm afraid we know next to nothing at this point." She tapped on her laptop screen with her finger. "Until yesterday those were sixty six separate unsolved murder cases in our database without any seeming connection. Sixty six out of thousands. It was only yesterday that someone — one of the agents you met today — put two and two together and realized those sixty six had been on the same flight. He asked for the flight manifest and we got it this morning, only to find that you are the one person on that list still alive. I quickly sent three agents to pick you up, hoping we'd get to you before they did. If we hadn't, you'd have been just another file, lying there with the rest of them." She pointed to a stack of files that stood on the edge of the desk.
Now I began to feel some alarm. Not anxiety, just alarm, as if I found out that my car had a flat. It takes time for things of this magnitude to sink in. "So the flight manifest is now a hit list? Why would anyone want to do that?"
She sighed. "This is the strangest case I've ever handled. Serial killers, yes. But nothing of this scale, so focused and determined."
"I take it they're professionals."
"You bet they are." She picked up a piece of paper with names on it and ran her finger from top to bottom. "Each murder different." She began to read it to me. "Sally Hutchinson: shot by a sniper in a Los Angeles restaurant; Pete Mazurski: drank milk poisoned by someone who had stealthily broke into his Queens home the day before; Suleiman Naheja: a brick was dropped on his head from a library window in Seattle; Alice Lopez: thrown off a bridge in Switzerland when she went there on vacation. The list goes on and on. Sixty six people murdered in dozens of different ways in dozens of different locations — mostly in the US but some around the world. The assassins used different MO's, and sometimes struck twice in the same day on two different continents. Clearly not the work of a single person. Whoever did this, they have an army of hit men and a lot of spending cash. And no one was ever caught. Not once. This is the most professional criminal operation I've ever come across."
"Lucky me," I said dryly. "If someone is out to get me, they can't be some incompetent neighborhood hothead. No, they have to be the freakin' Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse." I don't smoke, but at that moment I had an urge to put a cigarette in my mouth. I placed a yellow pencil in it instead. It tasted funny, as if the wood was rotted.
She put the paper down and focused on my face. "Try to think back on that flight. Anything unusual?"
I shook my head. "I used to fly a lot on business two years ago, when I still had a job. I can barely remember. But that answers your question, I suppose. I'd
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