[Mysteriousheartland.com] The warehouse was dark, stuffy, and filled with stained boxes and machine parts. The only light penetrating the gloomy interior came from a few narrow windows near the ceiling. Davin could not move. Ropes bound his chest and his legs to an old plastic and metal chair. His captors had not bound his mouth, partly because they knew he would not scream, and partly because it would not do any good if he had. For all Davin knew, he was in the Arizona desert. When they took him, his captors covered his head with a black hood and drove for what seemed like an eternity.
Two men stood in the warehouse; both stocky and of average height. They kept their backs to him and their faces covered by ski masks. One sipped café mocha from a Starbucks cup. Every few hours, they splashed water on Davin’s face to keep him from passing out in the heat.
“Will you guys please just kill me already?” Davin pleaded. “It’s been days. I told you my friends aren’t going to come for me. They could care less.”
“Shut up!” the mocha drinker yelled.
“Seriously, you guys are the worst kidnappers ever,” Davin snapped. “Aren’t you even going to torture me a little? Look, I could help you out. Find some rusted metal and pliers.”
“What the hell is wrong with you?” the other guard replied.
Suddenly, a hollow paint can tumbled to the cement floor with a crash, startling everyone. The sound of footsteps followed briefly and then tapered off.
“What was that?” the guard hissed.
His companion gently lowered his café mocha and pulled a long, black flashlight from his belt.
* * *
Hours passed. Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Illinois was quiet apart from the chorus of insects and a dog barking in the distance. Mike, Aurelia, Greg, Emmet, and Misa stole through the darkness, past broken park benches and empty windows. Misa led the way. Her eyes pierced the hazy shadows cast by the glow of street lamps hitting the thick, brick buildings. Her ears heard the blood pounding in the Fallen’s veins.
“Now might be a good time to discuss how we have no idea where they are holding Davin,” Emmet whispered.
“He probably hasn’t showered in over a week,” Misa replied. “When we’re close, I’ll smell him.”
“There’s nothing unusual about that,” Greg chuckled.
Suddenly, a police cruiser turned onto the nearby street and shined a spotlight into the yard. Mike, Greg, and Emmet ducked, but Misa and Aurelia were close enough to the nearest building to disappear against the wall. The squad car passed slowly, conducting its nightly rounds.
The former Air Force base looked like a baseball field, with the administrative and classroom buildings in the diamond, the hangars and warehouses in the infield, and the airstrips in the outfield. The Fallen were between what would be home plate and first base, not far from a majestic metal sculpture of a falcon taking flight. Mike, Greg, and Emmet waited for the policemen to disappear before they joined Aurelia and Misa behind the building.
“You know,” Greg wheezed from shortness of breath, “I misjudged you, Misa. You’ve changed a lot from that awkward, insecure dhampyr I met years ago. I think you and me ought to get together sometime.”
“Please,” Misa hissed. “What do you think this is, Twilight? Humans make me sick. You’re like a cheeseburger to me.”
“Uh oh, call the Anti-Defamation League,” Emmet said. “We’ve got weird, nerdy interracial harassment going on here.”
“Put your tongue back in your mouth, Greg,” Mike ordered with feigned seriousness.
Misa tucked her thick, black hair behind her gangly ears and peered into the distance. “I think we’re close,” she said. “We just have to get past that building.” She pointed to a large, four story hall that formerly held classrooms. It curved along the base’s west side and hid all but one hangar. Directly south, in a former warehouse, sat the Chanute Air Museum. The Fallen were sure their friend’s captors were not holding him there. Only a handful of alternatives remained.
The group stealthily crossed the yard in front of White Hall and made their way north. This time, they pressed themselves against the dirty, brick wall as the police cruiser passed, heading in the opposite direction. “I don’t like these close calls,” Emmet whispered. “If we’re caught out here, we’ll never find Davin.”
“That would be a shame,” Greg mumbled under his breath.
“Keep it down,” Mike whispered.
The group crept along the building’s face, past the front door, until they came to the northernmost corner. A handful of bats scattered from the windowsill. Greg playfully shoved Misa and pointed toward the creatures, but she did not appreciate the joke.
“I sense something,” Aurelia said suddenly. “I’m feeling an intense sense of duty. Like there is a soldier or officer nearby.”
Emmet rolled his eyes. “Like that cop that keeps driving past?”
“No, jerk,” Aurelia replied. “It’s a ghost.”
Mike stroked his prominent chin and leaned forward. It was difficult to tell, but it looked like the old airplane hangars were over twenty yards away. The Fallen had to cross an open road, and the patrolling police cruiser might return at any moment.
“We’re getting close,” Misa replied to Mike’s unspoken question. “I think Davin is in one of those hangars. The air is thick with perspiration… and cheap aftershave.”
Mike looked around, embarrassed. “I think that’s me,” he whispered.
“Man, I’m so glad I’m out here and not at home, drinking beer and listening to Opeth,” Emmet grumbled.
Then, just as Mike expected, the police car rolled by again, this time at an agonizingly slow pace. It seemed like the officer inside was looking for someone. He shined his spotlight into the windows of a long, white building across the street.
“Do you think he’s looking for us?” Greg whispered.
“I hope not,” Mike replied.
The group waited for the car to pass before they snuck across the road’s cracked pavement. It was hard for five people not to make a sound, but they managed despite Aurelia’s tendency to throw caution to the wind. Just before they reached a few yards from the nearest warehouse, a loud rumble echoed from somewhere to their left.
Mike, Greg, and Emmet turned toward Aurelia, waiting for her to state the obvious, but Misa spoke first.
“Something happened,” she hissed. Aurelia shot her the evil eye, and Greg suppressed a burst of laughter.
Another clatter pierced the air. This time, the Fallen knew the noise came from the last building to their left. It sounded like empty canisters hitting and scraping across the floor. The quintet raced over to the warehouse, no longer concerned with keeping their presence a secret.
They were too late. Two masked men burst from the warehouse entrance and took off down the street in the opposite direction. The glass door slammed shut on the person behind them, and he or she fell backwards with a crash. Mike and Greg rushed forward and flung open the door. Davin lay on the other side, still tied to the chair. His two captors had left in such a hurry they had not bothered to free him.
“Get me the hell out of here!” Davin shouted frantically.
Mike pulled a pocket knife from his cargo shorts and cut the rope that tied his friend to the chair. Greg grabbed Davin’s arm and pulled him to his feet. The group raced across the street and gathered in the shadow of a building.
“Something was in there with us,” Davin gasped. “It scared the hell out of us.”
“What, a ghost scared off the guys who abducted you?” Mike asked. “These are the worst evil acolytes ever.”
“They were just goons,” Misa explained. “Do you think the acolytes would get their hands dirty with something like this? They were just trying to send a message.”
“I’d say they failed miserably,” Aurelia said.
Davin, having regained some of his composure, stared at Misa. “Who is she?” he asked.
Mike looked up and down the darkened roadway. “We gotta run before that cop comes back,” he said. “I’ll explain everything to you when we get home.”
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