The Nineteenth Year by Jevic, The Tarheel Writer    The Nineteenth Year
by Jevic
The Tarheel Writer
Chapter Six
"Caribou Chicken"

Back to Chapter Five
"Agréant"
On to Chapter Seven
"Planes, Trains and Automobiles"
Chapter Index

Jevic's Story Page

The Nineteenth Year by Jevic, The Tarheel Writer

Action Adventure
Violence
Sexual Situations
Rated Teen 13+

Proudly presented by The Tarheel Writer - On the Web since 24 February 2003. Celebrating 20 Years on the Internet!
Tarheel Home Page

"DANIEL!" Teri screamed as she slung the bedroom door open. Daniel and Cody abruptly sat up in the bed. "Oh my God! You have to come downstairs," she said breathlessly.

"What the hell's going on?" asked Daniel.

"You've gotta see. Please hurry!" Cody looked at Daniel, eyebrows raised. Daniel shrugged his shoulders. "Come on, please," she said as she stood in the door waiting. Being closest to the door, Cody threw the covers back and started to get out of bed. Then it hit him they were naked. He immediately grabbed the blanket and covered himself.

"Can you give us a minute, please?" he asked, blushing a deep red. The boys' nakedness didn't faze Teri at all. She was obviously quite upset about whatever she wanted them to see.

"Now! I need you two now!" she screamed. Cody managed to grab his boxer briefs off the floor beside the bed and slid them on while keeping himself covered with the blanket. Then he walked over to the chair, grabbed the other pair of briefs and tossed them toward Daniel. Cody dressed quickly while Daniel casually stood up in all his naked glory and went about getting dressed. Teri stood in the doorway and anxiously waited.

"Teri, what's going on?" asked Daniel.

"Someone's been here. They left something on the front porch." Daniel looked up at her and frowned.

"What do you mean somebody's been here?"

"Just hurry up. You've gotta see it." Daniel pulled his shorts up and looked over at Cody, who had just finished pulling his tee shirt on. Cody nodded back at him.

"OK, let's go," said Daniel. The boys followed Teri down the stairs and toward the front porch. Teri pushed the door opened and stood back. Daniel stepped through the doorway cautiously. What was waiting on the porch caused him to stagger back, falling against Cody. There was a cardboard box sitting in the middle of the porch. On top of the box was a small TV/VCR combo. It was playing a movie. Cody looked over Daniel's shoulder.

"What the fuck?" Cody pushed Daniel to the side and walked over to the TV.

"Oh my God," stammered Daniel. Cody reached over and ripped the cord from the plug in the wall. The screen immediately went black. He turned and looked at Daniel.

"How?" Cody demanded. "Tell me HOW!" Daniel looked at Cody with tears in his eyes.

"I'm so sorry to get you mixed up in this."

"Somebody videotaped us making love last night! How the hell did they do that? Daniel! What the fuck is going on here?" Daniel slumped to the floor, sliding slowly down the wall. It had happened again. Someone he cared about had been hurt because of his insidious past. The realization was more than he could take, especially because it was Cody that had been affected. Daniel's insides churned. He was literally becoming sick to his stomach.

"How could this have happened, again? How many more people will be affected? When will it all stop?" he thought to himself. Cody was pissed and continued to rant and rave on the front porch.

"I don't fuckin' believe this! Somebody is outta control! I just can't believe it!" He walked over to Daniel and stared down at him. The anger flashed in Cody's eyes as he screamed at Daniel. "This is crazy!" Cody whirled around and faced the other way. His hands were clenched tight. He took several deep breaths then turned back to Daniel. "I just can't deal with this!" Cody ran to his Jeep and jerked the door open. He jumped inside and started it up. The tires squealed on the driveway as the Jeep roared away.

Daniel couldn't see the Jeep leave. His eyes were blurred with tears. Teri sat down on the porch beside her best friend and put her arm around him. Just as he always did, he leaned on her for support. She held him tight while his emotions ran down his face and dropped onto her shirt. Teri was still in shock. Not so much from the content of the video, but from the fact that someone had been in the house. If they really wanted to hurt one of them, it would have been easy. That thought sent shivers down her spine. Daniel straightened himself back up and looked at Teri.

"What?"

"Huh?"

"You shivered."

"Someone was in the house last night. It would have been very easy for that someone to hurt one of us."

"It was Stan. It had to be. He's the only one capable of something like this."

"I'm gonna kick his ass. Who does he think he is?"

"He's nuts, Teri. He's absolutely nuts."

"What's in the box?" Teri said pointing to the cardboard box the TV was sitting on.

"Dunno. Let's find out," Daniel said as he got up, wiping his eyes. Teri followed him. Together, they lifted the TV/VCR off the box and set it aside. Daniel plugged it back in and hit the eject button. When the tape popped out, Daniel grabbed it. He looked intently at the videotape. Teri watched as the anger mounted. Daniel's face reddened as his grip on the tape tightened. He took a deep breath and looked up at Teri.

"I wish this tape was Stan," he said calmly. Then, without warning, Daniel threw the tape down on the porch with all his might. The case shattered into hundreds of pieces. Then he calmly looked back at Teri. She gave him a lopsided grin. Then she jumped up and down on the smashed videotape a couple of times. She caught her breath and looked back at Daniel.

"Just making sure," she said. Daniel smiled.

"Let's see what's in the box," he said. Teri nodded in agreement. She opened the box and they looked inside. On the top was an envelope. It was addressed to Danny. Hesitantly, Daniel reached inside the box and took it out.

"It's from Stan. I just know it," he said gazing at the envelope.

"Well, let's see what he wants," said Teri. Daniel slowly opened it and started reading.

Hi there, Danny boy!

Hope you enjoyed performing as much as I enjoyed filming. It kinda reminded me of the old days. You sure have grown up. Quite a little show you guys put on! Thanks, that was fun!

Now, on to more important things. Inside this box are several small black metal boxes. You'll notice two network jacks on each box. Take one of the boxes to Java Joe's Café in Jacksonville. It's one of those Internet Cafes. You'll find it at the Landing down by the St. John's River. You need to be there this afternoon at two fifteen. Ask for one of Kyle's tables. Give one of the black boxes to Kyle. And, by the way, order one of their Caribou Chicken Sandwiches. They're great!

Why will you do this for me? Because people you care about will get hurt if you don't. That's not an idle threat. It's a promise.


"Who does this guy think he is?" asked Teri. Daniel looked up at her. He paused a moment as if in deep thought. He reached into the cardboard box and pulled out one of the small black boxes.

"Teri, I think the more important question is, 'what are these black boxes?' and 'what are they for?'"

"Good point, so what do we do?"

"We go see Kyle."

"Are you serious?"

"Yeah, and we'll see if he knows what's going on."

"I see only one problem with this plan, Daniel."

"What's what?"

"No transportation."

"I wouldn't say that," said Daniel as he nodded toward the driveway. Teri turned to see Cody's Jeep Cherokee coming down the drive. The vehicle slowly drove up to the front of the old plantation house and stopped. Cody sat in the driver's seat and didn't move. Teri looked at Daniel. Daniel's eyes were glued to the Jeep. Cody didn't look at the porch. He just sat there looking straight ahead at nothing in particular. Daniel stood up and walked down the steps. He paused at the passenger door then pulled it open and slid into the seat. Cody never moved. He continued to look straight ahead. Daniel did the same. Teri stood up from the rocker she was sitting in and moved into the house. The two boys sat in the Jeep and stared straight ahead. Neither spoke a word. As the minutes passed, Daniel kept a close eye on Cody through his peripheral vision, but he couldn't detect even the slightest hint of what was going on in Cody's mind.

The sound of the front door slamming shut got both of the boys' attention. They turned and looked. Teri was standing on the porch holding a tray. She sat it down on the table between two of the rockers, then turned back to the boys.

"Bacon, eggs, grits, sliced tomatoes, toast, orange juice, and coffee. Come eat while it's hot," she said. Neither one of the boys moved. "NOW! Damnit! I didn't slave over a hot stove for nothin'!" Cody opened his door and got out of the Jeep. Daniel followed him up the steps and they sat down to eat.

"I don't care for grits," said Cody softly. Teri glared at him.

"Young man. You are a guest at a southern plantation. You will eat your grits and enjoy them." Cody sheepishly pressed his fork into the grits and watched as they slid through the tines. He looked up at her. "Let them cool just a bit." Teri sat down across from the boys and sipped her coffee. She watched as they ate in silence. When Cody finished his last bite, including all the grits, he wiped his mouth with the linen napkin.

"So, what made you come back, Cody?" Teri asked. Cody's eyes dropped to his empty plate. Daniel looked over and watched as a single tear rolled down Cody's cheek.

"I got to the end of the driveway and realized something," Cody started. He looked up at Daniel. Their eyes met and locked. "I realized I was leaving someone that makes me feel like no one else has ever made me feel ... someone that, in just a few days, has been able to break down all my safety barriers ... someone that has ... touched my heart." Another stray tear rolled down his face.

"Cody, I," Daniel started, but was interrupted.

"Daniel, I don't know what all I'm getting myself into and to be honest, I don't really care ... not now. As long as I have the opportunity to get to know you better, to come to understand what makes you you and to have a chance at winning your love." Daniel put his plate down on the tray. He stood and walked slowly to the porch railing. Looking out on the expanse of the front lawn, he already knew what he wanted to say. He just didn't know how to say it. Ever since the first email from Stan, Daniel's world had been turned upside down. Life as he had known it had been completely changed. A world that once consisted of server problems and support questions had turned into a world of murder, car chases, pornography, guns, and confessions to a horrid past. What he didn't count on was falling in love. Daniel turned and looked at Teri. Her expression was one that looked hopeful. He smiled slightly to her. Then he turned to Cody who had now dropped his eyes back to his empty plate. Daniel walked over to him, took his empty plate and put it on the tray. Then he knelt down in front of Cody.

"I wish none of this was happening, but it is. It's out of my control. The only thing I do have control over is my heart. At least, I thought I had it under control." Cody lifted his head and looked into Daniel's eyes. "But I was wrong. It's not under control. Someone came into my life and took control of it. I never thought it was possible for someone to do that, especially in such a short period of time." Daniel took Cody's hands into his own and continued. "Cody, I can't make any promises about what will happen. I can't tell you that Stan won't videotape us again. I can't even tell you what Stan wants. But I can tell you that having you by my side and you believing in me has made all this worthwhile. Cody, I want you to know me better. I want you to know what makes me me. We've only known each other a few days, but I feel like I've known you a lifetime. And whether you know it or not, you've already won my heart." Daniel stood up. He was still holding Cody's hands. Daniel gently coaxed Cody to his feet. Their faces were mere inches apart. "To someone looking at this from the outside, they would say I'm moving way too fast, but I don't care. I love you, Cody. I need you in my life and I don't know what I'd do if you left."

"I love you too, Daniel. When I reached the end of the driveway, I realized that. I knew it before then, but I guess I never really admitted it to myself. I'm positively, one hundred percent sure now. I'll never run out on you again. I'm here for the long haul, Daniel. I want you in my life." Their lips met and crushed against one another as they wrapped themselves into a tight embrace. Teri stood to the side and beamed. She was happy for her best friend. Finally, he had someone to share his life with.

The three friends sat on the front porch and discussed the latest letter from Stan. They all agreed that asking the waiter at Java Joe's Café in Jacksonville what he knew about the black boxes and what he knew about Stan was the plan of action. At one o'clock they left St. Mary's and headed down I-95 for Jacksonville. As I-95 crossed over the St. John's River, Daniel looked out the left side windows.

"There it is. And the exit's right up here. It's one-sixteen I think," Daniel said.

"I know exactly where I'm going. I've been here dozens of times," said Cody.

"Fine. Get us lost. See if I care."

"It's not rocket science."

"And you're not a rocket scientist."

"OK you two," said Teri. Daniel and Cody snickered at each other. In less than ten minutes, Cody pulled the Jeep into a parking space.

"What time is it?" asked Daniel.

"Two o'clock," answered Teri.

"Perfect. Let's go." They got out of the Jeep and Cody locked the doors.

"A lot of good that will do," smirked Teri.

"Huh?" asked a confused Cody.

"Rear glass. Gone. Shot out. Duh." Cody blushed.

"Habit," he said and they headed for the mall. Teri carried the black box in her purse. After the hostess sat them at a table she told them their server would be Kyle and that he would be with them in a moment. All three of them were nervous. Kyle just might have the answers to what and more importantly, why everything had happened. Daniel fidgeted with his napkin. Cody found the ice in his water to be extremely interesting. Teri scanned the dining room for Kyle.

"Hi guys," the voice came from behind Teri and everybody jumped. "Sorry, didn't mean to surprise you. I'm Kyle and I'll be your server. Can I get you something to drink?"

"Tea," said Teri. Kyle turned his attention to Cody.

"This water's fine." Kyle nodded and turned to Daniel.

"I'll have a Coke and someone I know recommended your Caribou Chicken Sandwich." Kyle glanced down at his watch. It was exactly two-fifteen. He looked back at Daniel.

"Do you have something for me?"

"I might. Do you have something for me?" Kyle looked confused. "Look, I just want to know what's going on," explained Daniel.

"You are Danny, right?" Kyle asked. Daniel nodded. "Good. I was told you're gonna give me a small black box."

"I might give you the box if you can answer some questions."

"Questions?"

"Yeah, like who contacted you about this?"

"I don't know. Some guy called on the phone."

"What's this box do?" asked Daniel. Kyle glanced toward the bar.

"Look, I've gotta get moving. The boss is looking this way. I'll get your drinks and be right back." Kyle sped away from the table.

"Well we certainly did learn a lot," mused Teri.

"It's not over yet," exclaimed Cody. "That dude's gonna tell us something or I'm gonna take him out back."

"And do what, slap him with a limp wrist?" chuckled Teri. Cody's face grew red.

"I may be gay, but I'm also a Black Belt. And the only thing I like better than suckin' dick is kickin' ass. I guarantee the guy will get more than a slap." Teri grinned and started to make another comment, but Daniel cut them both off.

"OK you two. Quiet down," said Daniel. "Let's just wait and see what happens." The café was almost empty. Only four or five tables had customers. There were also several men at the bar. Daniel looked at each customer carefully. Of the twenty or so people in the café, he didn't recognize one. Nothing ... not even someone that looked familiar. Total strangers. Yet, Daniel felt as if he were being watched.

"It's creepy in here," said Teri.

"You feel it too?" asked Cody.

"We're being watched. I don't know how, but I can feel it," Daniel said quietly. Kyle sauntered out of the kitchen with a tray of drinks. He stopped at a table nearby and dropped off a bottle of beer. There were already several empties waiting to be picked up. Then Kyle stopped at their table.

"Here ya go ... tea for you and a coke for you, Danny. Have you decided on lunch?" Kyle asked getting out his pad.

"I've decided I need to know more about this black box deal," Daniel said flatly.

"What's there to know?" Kyle asked indifferently.

"Who contacted you? What's this black box do?"

"Look, ah, Danny, I got this phone call one day last week from this guy who sets all this up. I've never seen him. I've never even talked to him since. I don't know what he looks like and I don't really care. All I know is I take this black box you're gonna give me and leave it in a plastic bag in the trashcan in the men's room. When I get off work at five, there's supposed to be an envelope taped to the back of the trashcan with some money in it."

"What does the box do?

"I don't know, but it must be kinda important for this guy to go to all this trouble."

"You've got to know something else."

"Sorry, I don't know any more. I just put it in the trash and later I get a hundred bucks. That's all I know. Sorry. Now do you want to order?" Kyle asked, obviously getting impatient. Daniel took a deep breath to calm himself. He realized Stan had covered his tracks well and that Kyle really didn't know any more.

"Give us another minute, will ya?"

"Sure," Kyle said and he walked over to check on another table.

"This guy doesn't know anything," said a disgusted Cody.

"I'm thinking you're right, Cody. The question now is what do we do?"

"Let's stake out the restaurant," suggested Teri. "We can sit in the Jeep and watch who goes in."

"But we won't know who takes the box," argued Cody.

"He'll have to carry it out. We'd see that."

"I don't know. Sounds like a shaky plan at best." The three friends sat at the table and pondered their next move.

"So, what's for lunch?" said a smiling Kyle as he walked up to the table. "And I need to get the box," he said quietly to Daniel.

"I'm not really hungry," said Daniel. "What about you guys?"

"No, I'm good," said Cody.

"Gimme a large order of boiled shrimp, chilled, and bring some cocktail sauce too," said Teri as she looked down at the menu. "When she looked up she saw the expressions on Daniel and Cody's faces. "Oh, and two extra plates please." Kyle smiled. Daniel nodded toward Teri's purse. She reached inside and took out the black box. Kyle's eyes lit up.

"Thanks. I'll be right back with your shrimp. But first I've gotta go to the men's room," Kyle said with a wink. He was gone in a flash.

"How can you eat?" Daniel asked Teri.

"I'm hungry. Unlike you two, I didn't eat a great big southern breakfast. I just had coffee. Besides, where do you have to be?" She looked back and forth between Cody and Daniel. "We need to figure out how to get the NSA off your ass. We need to find out what Stan is doing with these black boxes. And, we need to know just exactly what he means with all these threats he's making. I don't like the man and I've never met him. And, we've gotta get the back glass fixed on the Jeep. That thing stands out like a sore thumb and you know those NSA geeks are still looking for us. Plus, we've got Sergeant Brown to deal with and none of us have talked with Javan. We don't even know if he's all right." Teri paused a moment and then continued. "Look, I'm the only one making suggestions here and all you two do is shoot them down. I'm about over all this bullshit. Now you two put on your thinking caps and let's make a plan." Teri abruptly stood up. "I'll be back. I've gotta pee," she said as she headed for the restroom.

"Wow, is she always like that?" asked Cody. Daniel grinned.

"Teri doesn't like to just sit around. She likes to get things done."

"Well, I'm glad she's on our team."

"Me too."

"So what are we gonna do?"

"You gents don't mind if I join ya, do ya?" said a big fat man as he stumbled up to the table.

"As a matter of fact," started Cody, but the man sat down anyway. Daniel looked around and noticed the man had come from the table with all the empty beer bottles.

"You two are an old man's wet dream, ya know that?" the fat man slurred. Cody looked at Daniel. Daniel shrugged.

"Look mister. I think you've got the wrong idea here," said Cody. "Maybe it would be best if you just went back to your table." The man looked at Cody then turned his glazed over eyes to Daniel.

"I've seen you. Hell, I've got some of your movies. You're one hot little shit."

"I think you've got me mixed up with somebody else."

"Nope. You're Danny all right. Stan said you'd be here. I've been waitin'. Boy you have no idea how many times I've watched your movies." The man suddenly slumped sideways. Daniel caught him by the shoulder and pushed him back into an upright position.

"So you know Stan, do ya?" said Daniel

"Oh yeah. Stan has really fixed me up in the past and it looks like he's fixed me up today too," the man slurred. Daniel looked at Cody and winked. Cody frowned.

"That's right. He sure has. By the way, I've had a hard time getting in touch with Stan. Did he say where he's staying?" The drunken fat man looked at Daniel through his bloodshot eyes. He giggled slightly.

"Boy, you really don't know Stan, do ya?"

"Of course I do."

"If you did, you'd never ask a question like that."

"Why don't you and me head off to the men's room? You'd like that, wouldn't you?" The man's eyes got real big and a grin crept across his unshaven face. A spot of drool spilled from his mouth as he pushed himself back from the table. Giggling, he staggered to his feet. Daniel and Cody stood up as well. The drunk glanced at Daniel, then turned and headed for the restroom.

"What the fuck are you doing?" whispered Cody. Daniel just smiled. Then he nodded toward Teri who was returning to the table.

"Tell Teri what's going on. I'm gonna see if I can learn anymore." Daniel reached into his pocket and pulled out a twenty. "Here, pay the tab and I'll meet you in the parking lot. This won't take long."

"Are you sure you don't want me to come with you?"

"I can handle this guy. Now, go on, he's gonna get suspicious," Daniel said as he saw the man turn to look back from the bathroom hallway. Cody turned to Teri and started filling her in. Daniel walked casually toward the bathroom.

As he pushed the bathroom door open and spotted the man standing at the urinal. Then he saw the trash can and thoughts of the black box filled his head. Daniel glanced around the bathroom. It was empty except for himself and the drunk.

"I never thought I'd ever get the chance to get my hands on you, Danny. Like I said, you're one hot little shit," the man slurred. Daniel moved around the man and walked over to the trashcan. He pulled it from the wall and saw an envelope taped to the back side. Grabbing it tightly, he ripped it loose.

"Stan said you'd play hard to get. That's why I brought this," he drunk said. Daniel, who had been looking at the envelope, turned and looked at the man. The metal of the pistol gleamed under the harsh lights of the restroom.

"That's not necessary," Daniel said in his most confident voice.

"Oh, I'm just making sure you don't change your mind," the man said as he slinked over to the door and locked it. "Now why don't you come over here and suck my dick. Then I'm gonna fuck that pretty little ass of yours." Daniel smiled a big smile and walked over to him. In less than two seconds, Daniel was holding the gun in one hand and the man's balls in his other. The hand not holding the gun squeezed hard, eliciting a whimper from the surprised man.

"Where is Stan?" Daniel demanded.

"I don't know." Daniel squeezed harder. "I don't know!" the man yelped.

"Then how did you know I'd be here?"

"Stan always calls me. I don't know where he is. I don't even know how to get in touch with him." Daniel squeezed really hard.

"You're lying!"

"No," the man squeaked. "I'm tellin' the truth." Daniel let the man go and took a step back. The quick knee to the groin left the man writhing in pain on the bathroom floor, clutching his aching manhood.

"You tell Stan not to fuck with me," Daniel said disgustedly. Daniel removed the clip from the pistol and ejected the bullets into the trashcan along with the pistol. Then he spat on the man's face and walked out of the bathroom.

Teri and Cody sat in the Jeep in total disbelief of the ear to ear smile on Daniel's face as he stepped from the door of the restaurant into the hot Florida sun. Daniel walked toward the Jeep with a bounce in his step. His anger had completely dissipated. Opening the door and climbing into the front passenger's seat, Daniel sighed a contented sigh.

"Man, that AC feels great!" he said as he closed the door.

"What are you so happy about?" asked Cody.

"Yeah, did you have a good time with that old drunk?" asked Teri.

"Oh yeah. I had a great time! There's just something about putting your knee into someone's groin that gives you a certain sense of satisfaction. I bet he's still on the floor holding his balls," Daniel said laughing. He was careful not to tell them about the gun.

"Did you find out anything?" asked Cody.

"Yeah. I found out that slob didn't know shit. Seems that Stan always calls him. He doesn't know where Stan is or how to get in touch with him. And, by the way, while we were distracted with the drunk, someone picked up the box."

"What?" both Teri and Cody exclaimed at the same time.

"Yep. And here's the envelope," Daniel said holding it up. He ripped it open and pulled out a hundred dollar bill. Daniel chuckled again. "There's a waiter we know that's gonna be quite upset when he doesn't find his money."

"What now?" asked Cody.

"Let's just head back to Samantha's," suggested Daniel. Cody put the Jeep in gear and started out of the parking lot.

"There's an auto glass shop right around the corner. Let's stop and see if they can replace the back glass before we head back," said Cody.

"Sounds good," said Daniel.

"Speaking of good, anybody want a shrimp?" said Teri as she tossed one in her mouth.

"I'll pass," said Cody.

"I'm good," added Daniel.

"Suit yourselves. There's nothing better than a shrimp cocktail," she said as she tossed another sauce covered shrimp into her mouth.

Cody pulled around the corner and stopped at the glass repair shop. In less than an hour and three hundred dollars later, they were back on the road headed for Agréant. An hour later, they found themselves driving down the long driveway to Samantha's home. Pulling around to the front door, all three of them couldn't help but notice a new brown cardboard box on the front porch.

"I see Stan has been busy again," said Daniel. They got out and walked up to inspect the package. Daniel bent down, ripped the box open and started pulling its contents out. Teri and Cody sat down in rocking chairs and watched.

"Looks like maps and, wait, yeah, more black boxes."

"What kind of maps?" asked Teri. Daniel studied the maps closely then held up each one as he called out its location.

"Berlin. London. Tokyo. Belfast. Helsinki. Reykjavik. Hey, isn't that Iceland?"

"Yep," said Teri. "Are there more?" Daniel held up more maps.

"Brussels. Prague. Zurich. Agra. Agra? Where the hell is Agra?"

"India. That's where the Taj Mahal is," said Cody.

"How'd you know that?"

"I had a four oh in world history, and that included a geographical study too."

"OK, smarty. Where's this one? Salzburg."

"Easy. That's in Austria. Any more?"

"Singapore, Sydney, and Zurich."

"Sounds like a trip around the world," said Teri.

"There's more," said Daniel quietly. "Here's a note from Stan."

"Well, let's see what he wants," said Teri. Daniel slowly opened it and started reading.

Pack your bags, Danny!

You're going on a trip. I've enclosed maps of each of your destinations. But, I'm not a travel agent, so you'll have to arrange the flights, transportation and places to stay. You have plenty of money in your account, but it's not growing on a tree, so spend it wisely. I'd hate for you to get stuck in some foreign county.

Your first stop is London. That should be easy enough for you. You're going to the Electric Camel, near Trafalgar Square. It's an Internet Café.

Now, here's the fun part. You'll need to find the Internet Server. The black box needs to go in-line between the router and the server. It's important that you install it correctly, so take some network cables with you too. Once it's in place, it should automatically come on line and I'll know if you did it correctly. And don't get caught!

Book a room at the Citadines Hotel. It's by the Chaning Cross Station and close to the Electric Camel. I'll send more instructions once you've got the box installed.

You need to be in London day after tomorrow, so I suggest you book a flight real soon.
This is your mission Danny. It isn't a game. This is the real thing. Don't fuck with me or people will get hurt. And don't get silly and go to the cops.

Just so you know I'm serious, check CNN Headline News.

"What the fuck?" said Teri as she jumped up and headed inside. Daniel and Cody followed her into the den where she had turned on the television. The three friends stood back and watched. It was just about six o'clock, so the top stories were next. The reporter came on and started the news. The lead story was about a freak power surge that burned a house down. They switched to an on-the-scene reporter in Charlotte, North Carolina.

"Oh my God. That's where Jevic lives," stammered Daniel. The reporter was standing in front of the burned down ruins of what was once a house. He told what happened.

"We've been told that a freak power surge from a substation was somehow directed to this house and this house only. All the other houses on the block were unharmed. The two thousand volt surge caused a fire that spread through the whole house in seconds. The homeowner was lucky to get out alive." They switched to a video with the reporter interviewing the homeowner.

"That's Jevic!" shouted Daniel.

"Can you tell us what happened?" the reporter asked.

"I've been told it was a power surge. All I know is that everything electrical in the house blew up. Fire was shooting out of the outlets. I guess the surge melted all the wires."

"Do they have any idea what caused it?"

"For what I understand, the transformer is controlled by computer and they think someone hacked into the power company system and set off the surge."

"Intentionally?"

"That's what it looks like."

"Any idea who or why?"

"You got me."

"Why did it just affect your house?"

"The transformer is one of the new computer controlled transformers. They enable the power company to better control their system and to be able to monitor its performance better. It also enables them to determine exactly where a problem is. Anyway, they tell me somebody sent the transformer a command to bypass itself. That command sent the neighborhood transmission voltage of two thousand volts directly into my house. Somebody had to know exactly what they were doing to make this happen. I was very lucky to get out."

"Thank you, sir. Fire officials are calling this fire arson. Federal officials from the National Security Agency are being called in to investigate the reported computer breach. That's the latest from Charlotte, North Carolina. Now back to you at the studio." Teri clicked the TV off and looked at Daniel.

"Did Stan do that?" asked Cody. Daniel bolted from the room. The screen door slammed against the house as he ran outside. Cody jumped up to follow, but Teri stopped him.

"He's upset!" complained Cody. "He needs me."

"You're right. He is upset and he does need you, but first he needs some time."

"But ..."

"I've known Daniel a long time. Let's just give him some space. In the meantime, let's check the kitchen and see what we can fix for supper."

"But ..."

"No buts. Now come on."

Daniel stood in the middle of the front lawn. He looked up into the late afternoon sky. His mind was racing as the questions bombarded him like stones.

"How many more people are going to be hurt because of me? Did Stan really burn down Jevic's house? He's capable of being mean, but does he have the knowledge to do it? And what's the deal with the little black boxes? What he hell do they do and why is he so intent on getting them taken everywhere? Now he's sending me to London and all those other cities? What kind of mission is Stan sending me on?"

"What the hell is going on?" he screamed to no one in particular. Despite his sore body, Daniel launched into his Katas. The moves were fast and furious, but at the same time, they allowed him to focus and regroup. As the minutes ticked away and the broiling hot sun caused his body to be drenched in sweat, the Katas movements slowed. Cody walked out on the front porch and watched. The once rapid violent movements had slowed to a thing of beauty. Cody watched in awe as Daniel slowly brought himself back under control.

"He's just about through," said Teri as she came out the door. Cody looked at her. "I've watched him do this thousands of times. He'll be fine in a minute and he'll need a shower."

"I've never seen anything like that," said Cody softly.

"If you want to be around Daniel, get used to it. It's a daily ritual."

"What are we gonna do, Teri?"

"I don't know, but supper should be ready in about a half hour. Let's eat first, then we'll figure it out." Daniel finally stopped. After resting a moment, he started toward the porch.

"I'm not letting him go on this so-called mission by himself," said Cody flatly.

"And neither am I."

"And neither are you what?" asked an exhausted Daniel.

"Letting you do this alone," said Cody.

"Entirely too many people have been hurt because of me. I'm not gonna let two more get hurt. So, forget it!"

"Daniel ..." started Teri.

"NO! Forget it!" Daniel yelled as he opened the screen door. The sound of the slamming door was an exclamation point that made them both cringe. They sat in the rockers for a moment staring out onto the vast front lawn. Somewhere deep inside the house they could hear a shower turn on. The aroma of the meatloaf in the oven wafted through the screen door. Dark clouds started to gather in the afternoon sky, perhaps a foreboding of things to come. The two friends finally turned to each other.

"I'm still going," said Cody.

"Me too," added Teri.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *


On to Chapter Seven
"Planes, Trains and Automobiles"

Back to Chapter Five
"Agreant"

Chapter Index

Jevic's Story Page


The Nineteenth Year is © 2008 by The Tarheel Writer.
    This work may not be duplicated in any form – physical, electronic, audio, or otherwise – without the author's written permission. All applicable copyright laws apply. All individuals depicted are fictional with any resemblance to real persons being purely coincidental.


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