A Simple Twist of Faith
After what felt like hours of driving, the car stopped with a jerk and Carter was hauled out of the seat and pushed into what looked like an abandoned house. The air was musty and cool, and the squeaking of the floor boards was the only thing to be heard. It was so dark ‘Mike’ had to use a flashlight to navigate.
"Where are you taking me?" Carter softly asked.
"You’ll see. I don’t want anyone finding you. Lets just say you’ll be ‘stashed away’ until I need you again." Mike chuckled again at his own bad joke.
With his hands still bound behind his back, he was roughly pushed into a dark room with enough force to cause him to lose his footing and fall. Carter suppressed the urge to yelp as he landed on his sore ribs, but wasn’t going to give this guy the satisfaction.
Without another word, Mike slammed the door shut, plunging him into darkness. There were no windows, and he didn’t see a light before the door was shut.
Carter felt his way over to the wall, and leaned against it, wondering if he’d ever see anyone again.
Peter Benton was furious. He was going to call Andersen to get answers, and wild horses couldn’t stop him. Mark had told him he was over reacting. That Officer Rudy had been out of it and didn’t know what he was saying.
He made his way to the lounge, and was grateful to see it was empty. Going over to the phone, he picked it up and dialed the number Andersen had gave him. After only two rings the detective answered.
"Andersen," he said, sounding rather stressed.
"What the hell’s going on?" Peter demanded. The stress in Andersen’s voice not getting past him. "Where’s Carter?"
"Dr. Benton? That you?"
"I want you to tell me where Carter is. I...." Peter was rudely interrupted by a suddenly angry Andersen.
"Everything is fine!" he snapped. "I don’t know why the hell you think I’d tell you where John Carter is, but..."
"Officer Rudy was more than happy to tell me the whereabouts of Carter, plus a little extra. What the hell do you think you’re doing! I think your boss would be interested in this tidbit of information," Peter threatened.
Craig was suspiciously quiet on the other line for a minute, weighing his options.
"I’ll tell you, but you can’t tell anyone else, this is very sensitive information."
Peter bit back the rude comment he was about to make. Suddenly Andersen seemed less like a detective, and more like a snitch trying to weasel his way out of trouble.
"What did Rudy tell you?" his voice had seemed to calm a little.
"That you’re in way over your heads. Now what happened to Carter?"
"I know what happened, I just don’t know where he is. The safe house was found and Dr. Carter was taken."
"What!?" Peter thundered. "You’re telling me you guys couldn’t get your head out of your asses long enough to do your jobs!"
"Hey!" Craig yelled, then suddenly lowered his voice. "You’re stepping over the line, Dr. Benton. We’re going to get Dr. Carter. We have leads."
"They won’t be worth much if he’s dead! Why should I trust you. You’ve done nothing but bullshit me..."
"And I will be the one to find John Carter!" Craig shouted.
"What makes you so sure! You don’t..." Peter suddenly stopped his outburst as it clicked. Suddenly it all made sense, and he got a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. "You...you arranged this so Carter would be taken and you’d be the one to find him! I swear to..."
"You are _so_ wrong, Dr. Benton." Craig hung up before Benton could get out another word.
Peter hung up the phone and remained in the lounge, stunned. If Andersen wouldn’t tell him what he wanted to hear, he’d find someone who would.
Carter was jerked awake by the thud of something hitting the ground at his feet. Mike approached him and hauled him up. Before Carter could react he saw the glint of a knife and expected the worst. He closed his eyes, but quickly opened them when he felt the rope around his hands give. Mike pocketed the knife and left, slamming the door again. This time though, Carter was not plunged into darkness. There was light coming in from under the door, and from holes in the wall. He guessed it must be day already.
Picking up the object at his feet, he discovered it was a bottle of water. He quickly opened it and greedily drank. He had been worried Mike was going to leave him here to die, but if he was getting water, obviously Mike had plans for him.
Half an hour later, Mike came back in and handed him a pail of water, a cloth, and a set of clothes.
"Get cleaned up. We’re going on a field trip."
"Wait!" Carter yelled. "What do you want from me?"
Mike laughed as he shut the door.
Carter stood up and made his way over to the bucket and clothes. He was really dirty after spending the night on the dusty floor, and decided it would feel good to be clean.
As he wiped off his face, his thoughts strayed to what had happened last night. The image of that cop lying in the street had been imprinted into his mind. Was he dead? What happened to the other cop? And who was this lunatic calling himself Mike? He must know Michael Benton. But what did he want from him?
Carter quickly changed into the clothes Mike had left him. The khakis he’d left were a size too big, but he had a belt he could use. A groan slipped out as he pulled his dirty t-shirt over his head. At least Mike had given him a button-up shirt.
The door opened one more time, and Mike ‘escorted’ him out to the car. Mike once again bound his hands behind his back and thrust him into the back seat.
"Where are we going?" Carter wanted answers from this guy.
"Oh, to the bank," Mike replied like it was the most normal thing in the world.
Carter wasn’t surprised. He knew this guy wanted money, he just wasn’t sure how he was planning on collecting it.
"What makes you think I’m going to give you any money.?" Carter demanded.
"I know a lot more about you than you might think, Dr. Carter. I’ll bet you’re still wondering what happened to those cops that were supposed to be guarding you last night. Worried they might have died trying to protect you? Do you think you could live with yourself if more people die because they were told to protect you, or because you screw up?" Carter remained silent. "Didn’t think so."
"Why did Michael owe you so much money? Were you his bookie?" Carter wanted to know who he was dealing with.
"Not exactly. His job was so simple. Find buyers, get the merchandise from me, switch merchandise with money from the buyer, and return the money to me. It takes no thought. Of course always being in debt, temptation had to take control sometime."
"So you’re a drug dealer, and Michael was your errand boy. He did the actual dealing so that if caught, he’d take the fall, not you. Of course you raked in all the money while Michael did all the work."
"Hey, I paid him. I paid him a lot. Stupid bastard couldn’t stop gambling is what happened."
"He stole from you and you killed him?" Carter incredulously asked. "Before he could pay you back? Sounds like Michael wasn’t the only stupid..."
A heavy hand snaked into the back seat and grabbed him by the shirt collar.
"Don’t you ever say that again! I’m getting my money whether Michael’s dead or not!"