The Runners: Chapter 38

Chapter 38

With a warrant to search Haney’s apartment secured in his hands, David drove northward on LSD as he headed to Haney’s apartment building.  At this juncture, he had no doubt that Haney was somehow involved with Lahey’s murder although the motivation behind the killing needs to be investigated further.  After all, Lahey did not have anything valuable to offer.  Yet, he was professionally taken out.  Remembering the unique wound on Lahey’s body and the first conversation that he had with Ms. Jensen, David believed that it was part of a much bigger case.  He simply did not know how big of a case it would become.

“Connect mobile communications.  Initiate security protocol: Omega8-7371775!” David ordered.

“Protocol: Omega…775 initiated.  Connection complete,” came the reply.

“Open Rick Haney’s file, read travel log!” David followed with the next instruction.

“Travel log, Rick Haney: Chicago, Rio, Chicago, Paris…, Chicago, Lake Geneva, Chicago and Lake Geneva.”  The on-board vehicle’s computer read off all the cities that Haney has been to for the past 5 years.  “Chicago and Lake Geneva,” David repeated as the computer finished. 

“Lake Geneva…,” David murmured to himself.

“Yes, VTT—, he said…, he had just come back from there when I interviewed him.  Has he gone on another vacation?”  David was puzzled once again as to how a simple apartment custodian could take such expensive trips so often.  David was wondering where the funds were coming from.

“Open Robin Kumar, Bio-Chip-ID, read travel log!” David accessed Robin’s file using her derived biochip ID with since he did not have time to read them back at the office.

“Travel log, Robin Kumar: Paris, Berkeley, Paris, Berkeley, Chicago, Paris, Chicago, Paris … Chicago, Lake Geneva,” came a long list of cities that Robin has visited.

“That’s odd.  Lake Geneva?” Strangely, Robin’s travel log showed Lake Geneva.  However, the last time he saw Robin was in Naperville which was still the jurisdiction of Chicago as far as the travel log was concerned. 

Also, when David accessed Robin’s record from his office without the explicit biochip ID, Lake Geneva did not show up.  It was strange to David, but at the same time, it was becoming clearer to David’s suspicion about Det. Woodson was beginning to show some merits.  Further, Jacob believed that Woodson has taken Robin to Lake Geneva.

The Exit 31 which led to Haney’s apartment complex came up ahead.  However, David purposefully increased the vehicle’s speed to 120 mph as he kept going straight past the exit, continuing on north bound towards Wisconsin.  Since Haney was in Lake Geneva according to his travel log, David decided to pay VTT a visit.

“The warrant can wait,” David told himself.

“Go off grid!” David ordered his vehicle to activate cloaking capability so that his vehicle could not be tracked by remote monitoring system. 

“Pinging disabled!”  His computer responded.

“Excellent!” said David as he continued his drive on to the Illinois-Wisconsin border.


“No log records exist!”  Woodson was back in his office, engaged in a conversation with a female voice.  Woodson paced back and forth with his arms crossed intimidated by the fact that he could not access the log records of David’s activities from few minutes ago.  Even attempting to use his high UNBI security level, the system came back with nothing.

“Collect file access counts for Danielle Simpson, Jane Sanchez, Charlene, Rick Haney, Woodson!” He took a different approach to ensure that the security of these files has not been compromised.  He had created these files and secretly buried deep within the UNBI Citizen Database, which gave them the phantom legitimacy, so that his plans could be carried out.  The female voice interrupted his pacing as he attuned to the reply.

“File access counts: Woodson 0; Danielle Simpson, 3; Jane Sanchez, 6; Rick Haney, 35.” The computer read off in response to Woodson’s query.

“Extract last 2 DOAs!” Woodson ordered.

“Woodson, August 17, 2181 and August 18, 2182.  Simpson, May 10, 2182 and April 10 2190.   Haney, April 10, 2190, April 12, 2190.”  The computer responded.

“Reconfirm DOA Haney’s record!” Perturbed by the information, Woodson wanted to confirm the date when the file was accessed most recently.

“Haney, April 12, 2190.”  The female voice repeated in the usual manner.

“S.O.B.!”  Woodson pounded the top of his desk repeatedly with the bottom of his fists, ‘Bang’ ‘Bang’ ‘Bang’.  Then, he swept his arms across the surface of the desk, which instantly cleared all the litter off his desk.  A coffee mug and a coaster, water bottle, and morning breakfast food went flying all over the office.  The coffee mug hit the wall of windows in his office, causing the warm coffee to splash and drip down while the mug was shattered into 100 small pieces.  The water bottle that was left uncapped dispensed water all over the cluttered office space as it hit the floor.  Woodson was sure that David had accessed Haney’s file when his calls to David’s office were repeatedly getting rejected earlier.

It was highly uncharacteristic of Woodson to react with such anger.  His usual calm and callous demeanor couldn’t be traced this time around.  He was over irritated as to how this rookie discovered Haney’s trail.  But, he was more enraged at the incompetency of his people for not being able to dispose of him.  However, he took solace at the fact that Danielle, Jane rather, has not been compromised.

Achieving his objective was the only thing that Woodson put up with this work at the Chicago Office.  He couldn’t let a rookie, a simpleton get in his way.  He put his hands on the window with his head resting on the glass.  Then, he looked out the window as he slowly settled down as the position of the sun indicated an early afternoon hour.

Through the reflection in the window, Woodson saw a light signal that he has been tracking suddenly disappear from above his desk.  He turned and walked over to investigate what had happened to David’s vehicle.

“Sir, subject vehicle is near the Wisconsin border!”  The passenger in the silver vehicle that’s been trailing David reported to Woodson.

“I know,” said Det. Woodson in calm, but uneasy manner.  He has been tracking both vehicles when David’s vehicle suddenly disappeared from his surveillance system leaving only the trace of his men’s vehicle.  The vehicle’s movement and whereabouts have already told Woodson that they were near the northern border.

“Stay with him!  He is not to make contact with Haney at all cost!” Woodson instructed his subordinates as he sat back in his seat behind the desk.  He put his feet on top of the desk and reclined his chair back.  Bringing his hands together on the top of his abdomen, he interlocked his fingers then began twirling his thumbs.  Bringing his hands to his chin, Woodson fell into deep thoughts as he paused to weigh the pros and cons in his mind.

Woodson contemplated over and over whether or not the plan-X should be initiated.  If it was initiated too soon, the very last and the most critical mission of all which he had tasked Jane with could be jeopardized.  It would devastate his hard work of the past several years.  He was so close to the finish line and he needed this mission completed.  He was then going to tie up all the loose ends, Jane, Haney, Chandler, and Gretzky.  He read out the names, “yes, Gretzky,” repeating this name with contempt.  He paused for a minute and made a call then whispered several instructions into the microphone.

“Team-1, copy that sir!”  “Team-2, confirm that sir!”  After affirmations from the other side, Woodson proceeded to put on his fedora, the trench coat before resolutely exiting his office.


“This is a lifestyle that I can get used to!”  Lying on her back with dark shades, Cathy exclaimed.

“Readily!” said Jason quietly, still feeling flushed from the embarrassing dive earlier. 

“You know what?  If possible, I am going to work for VTT.  Maybe they will offer trips like this as employee benefits.”  Cathy said.

“That’s a thought.  You will also save a lot of money.  This trip put a big hole in my finances, you know.”  Jason encouraged.

“Exactly, I will have to watch my expenses real carefully after we return to the real world!” Cathy responded, rather cheerfully since she wasn’t really concerned about her finances.

Coming from a well off family that owned several AM dealerships, her father had set aside enough funds for Cathy to live on comfortably for two life times over.  The only thing was that she had to finish school and be married before she could tap into her trust funds.  It was one of the conditions that her father had placed on the trust.  Until then, her father made a promise to give whatever was necessary to her daughter.  But, that wasn’t the only reason that she was in a cheerful mood.  The fact that she was able to spend some time alone with Jason made her happy.

“Your family has money.  You’re covered,” said Jason, knowing of Cathy’s background.

“Well, that‘s a matter of perspective.  Anyway,” trying to change the topic, Cathy asked, “how is your drink?”

Jason had ordered a Crest Dry which became one of the longest lasting beer brands on Earth.  He enjoyed the beer that had the formula that allowed instant absorption of alcohol through buccal cavity.  Although, the name was Dry, it was in fact more potent than the traditionally brewed beers as a single glass would be enough to get him a good buzz.

“Oh yeah,” grabbing the glass of beer that he had set aside earlier, he took a large gulp, “it’s great!”  He said smiling and immediately feeling the effect of the alcohol.

“Let me try!”  Extending her hand towards Jason, Cathy asked for the glass.  She took a large gulp and set the glass down.  Soon, it began to give her a feel-good buzz.

“I need some sun tan lotion!”  Cathy said as she moved to put on the sun protection cream.  Then, she lied on her abdomen and tried to apply the lotion onto her back.  Not being able to reach all the areas, she handed the cream to Jason and asked for his help,

“Here, can you apply some on my back?”

“Sure!” Jason took the bottle and squeezed it with much more force than needed, emptying almost half the content all over Cathy.  He was little buzzed, but also felt a bit nervous for the first time seeing Cathy’s bare curves, up close.

“Ooops!  Didn’t mean to do that,” said Jason, quickly using his hands to rub the crème on her back while removing the excess with a towel.  Unintentionally, he applied too much pressure while using the towel and caused uncomfortable pain to Cathy from the friction.

“Ouch!” Cathy exclaimed putting her hands around her back so that Jason wouldn’t scrub her back so roughly.

“… There, done.  How do you feel?”  Jason asked peevishly.

“Perfect.  It will last me through the whole vacation!” Cathy said as she gave him an assuring smile.

Cathy and Jason exchanged silly chit-chats and laughed and smiled at each other.  They were taking full advantage of their friends not being around.  Then, out of the corner of her eyes, Cathy saw Jane supporting Jacob’s arm over her shoulders while they were walking back slowly towards the hotel.  She turned her head to get a better look.  There were women covering their mouths gasping and blankly staring at them as Cathy found Jacob wrapped in blood soaked cloth.

“Jane!  Jacob!”  Cathy called out waiving at them with one hand while shaking Jason’s arm with the other, trying to get Jason’s attention to them.

“What the heck?” Jason rose up then ran towards Jacob with Cathy following him right behind.

“What happened?  Here, let me help!”  Jason grabbed a hold of Jacob’s right arm, placing it onto his left shoulder to relieve the weight off of Jane.  Jacob kept the pressure on his wound with his left hand as the bleeding subsided inside the thick patch.

“Just a little accident,” replied Jacob.  As Cathy arrived, she bent low to examine Jacob’s wound, but did not see active bleeding.

“Careful, he is hurt,” Jane said as Jacob struggled to balance himself.

“What’s going on?”  Turning to Jane, Cathy asked hyperventilating with tears filling her eyes.

“It’s nothing.  Just an accident,” Jacob replied before Jane could respond.

“With a few stitches, I will be fine!  Not serious at all!”

Jacob knew well that he was telling the truth.  He had gone thru much worse injuries.  Knowing his physical limitations, he was reassuring his friends.  If it wasn’t for Jane’s insistence, Jacob would have been perfectly fine to walk on his own accord.  But, Jane wanted to be helpful under the circumstances.

Unfortunately, Jacob’s assurance still did not calm Cathy who was in near tears as she was walking along side of Jane, who was now, comforting Cathy, “it’s OK.  He will be fine!”  Jane said trying to soothe her friend. 

Jason helped Jacob for a couple of steps.  Then, Jacob waived at him telling Jason that he could move on his own.  Soon, Jacob stood up free of Jason’s support with his back slightly bent while continuing to apply pressure on his wound.

“I am good.  Thanks for the help!” Jacob said as he slowly walked towards the hotel entrance and comforted Cathy who was sobbing and worriedly walking a half step ahead of him.

As they came to a few steps of the hotel’s entrance, “I am fine, see,” showing the makeshift bandage on his abdomen, Jacob showed Cathy that there wasn’t any active bleeding.  At the same time, he put his right arm around Cathy’s shoulders and gently patted her back to put her at ease. 


David turned left onto Lakeview drive, off Main St in Lake Geneva.  Driving at 100 to 125 MPH on the average, it took him quick 30 minutes from his downtown office.  The drive wasn’t scenic at all for his taste.  Having been up in this direction before, he was readily reminded of the wild car chase.  The only difference was that he was now at the other end of the chase as opposed to the previous incidence.  Two dozen cars were in front of him as were another two dozen behind him.  He searched for the silver vehicle and located it about a half mile behind him as the view of the VTT building came and filled the entire front windshield of his vehicle.

Immediately, its grandeur awed him even though the haze and the fog of dust that blew over the ground had occasionally hid the outlines of the building.  As he approached closer, he couldn’t stop being astonished by what lied in front of him, “WOW,” “WOW,” he exhaled repeatedly.

David reduced the speed of his car as he approached a cross way.  To the right was a sign that read VTT HQ with a guard station and to the left was the VTT travel agency that had an arrow pointing left with the words ‘All Travelers’.  He turned left at the intersection.  He couldn’t help, but peek at the right side where he saw a couple of security checkpoints in the distance and a bridge that connected the HQ to a tall structure.  Immediately, he thought of the VTT HQ as being a mighty fortress that was constructed to be isolated from any influences of those who did not belong.  Seeing the moat of deep valleys surrounding the concrete, steel, and glass covered VTT HQ, “even the UNBI HQ isn’t heavily protected like this,” said David to himself.

David’s car headed towards the main entrance of the VTT as lines of cars slowed it to near halt.  One by one, the vehicles ahead of him stopped at the main gate of the travel agency.  After dropping off some travelers, the same vehicles pulled away to the designated parking locations.

Directly above the main gate, there were two overpasses that were large tubular shapes.  The exterior was galvanized high pressurized glass.  The bottom of the overpass was 40 ft above the ground, and at its highest point, it added another 15 ft to the roof of the tube.  The parking structure was a three story concrete cement building about 100 yards away, facing the side of the agency.  The automated moving walkways within the tubes busily transported people from the parking structure to the agency and vice versa.  The tubes fed directly into the VTT agency and the parking structures such that no passenger would have to face the harsh elements of the outside at any time.

David noticed that not all the vehicles that had entered the enclosed passenger unloading area would come out at the other end of the encasement.  When his vehicle entered the entrance, he immediately realized what a great set up the VTT had with respect to parking protocol.  For those that preferred to exit the vehicle here would be issued a ticket for autonomous parking service where the driver gets a receipt that identifies his vehicle.  The parking system would then automatically guide the vehicle to its designated, purchased space within the parking structure.

Some people, it turned out, preferred to drive just to experience the rides which the transport tube provided.  Apparently, it afforded them a great view of the VTT and its barren surroundings of the deep valleys of the moat.  That was a unique site to see for many.  Either way, passengers were not exposed to the unpleasant environment.  And, at the rates the travelers were paying to be on these VTT trips, David thought that such considerations were at minimally appropriate.

David exited his vehicle and authorized the parking system to do its magic.  Soon, his car disappeared below the surface level, creating a gap in the ground.  Then, a new 15×20 piece of metallic concrete slowly appeared, rising up to fill the gap as if to place a missing piece of the puzzle to a picture.  Impressed by observing this parking system in action, David entered the building thru the main entrance.

“Welcome to VTT Mr. Owens!”  “Welcome to VTT Ms. Davis!”  David heard individualized welcoming announcement after announcement as people entered the building.  Noticeably, his name wasn’t called out due to the fact that he did not have an itinerary or a purchased ticket, he assumed.  As people waited in line to enter the check-in area, they were given exotic looking head gears to preview and hear about their own destinations.  Although, David wanted to learn more about how these trips worked, he unfortunately had other urgent matters to tend to.

“Excuse me, sir…ma’am!” David apologized to those around him as he squeezed thru the long lines in the walkway.  When he got to the front of the line, a few yards prior to entering the main hall area, he took out his badge from his belt buckle and flashed it to one of the attendants.

“Sir, my name is Chan with the UNBI Chicago Office.  David Chan.  May I talk to someone who might be able to help me locate a certain traveler?”  David asked one of the security personnel that was performing the first line screening of the passengers and guests at the main entrance.

“OK… Would you mind waiting for a few?” After briefly studying David’s badge, a rather bloated looking guard said with a surprised tone at this unexpected visitor’s inquiry.  Then, he walked several steps away from David to pick up his communications device.  After a brief conversation over the device, he walked back towards David as he waived at someone.

“Diane!”  He called one of his colleagues and motioned her to approach him.

“Yes, Kevin?” a young girl, small in stature and looking very much happy to oblige to her calling, came running and asked, “what can I do for you?”

“Could you, please take Mr. Chan over here, to Ms. Diaz’s office?”  Pointing at David, Kevin requested.

“Sure thing!” Replied the girl in a perky manner, she said, “please, come this way, Mr. Chan” as she motioned her hand asking David to follow her.

“Ms. Diaz’s office is located on the ground floor to our left.  It will be just a short walk!”  Diane was excited because she had something other than repeatedly informing the passengers “to move on to the next security check point and remove all communications devices.”  It was mundane work and she was more than happy to have a bit of escape from the monotonous routine.

“Thank you, Ms…,”

“McArthur, Diane McArthur!” Diane said as she continued to lead the way.

“Ms. McArthur,” David said as he followed her.

They entered the main lobby of the travel agency, where Diane led David to a large door at the far left end of the lobby.  The door was marked, ‘Employees Only’.  As Diane approached, her identification was immediately scanned and verified by the security system.  The door slid open from the middle, each half disappearing into its respective side of the walls.  Without hesitation, Diane entered, followed by David.  Just before entering, David looked up and found a glass enclosed opening at 30 ft directly above the door.  He also noticed similar openings throughout the walls resembling a honeycomb.

“This way, please!” Diane turned and urged David to enter.

“Sure!” David took several quick steps to catch up with Diane.  As soon as David entered the hallway, the door closed behind them.  The corridor was about 250 ft long with ceiling clearance height of 14 ft.  The walls, the ceiling, and the floor were finished with shiny material, giving them a sterling silver look and feel.  The floor had large tiles of which were hexagonal shapes while the walls were finished with even larger elongated hexagonal tiles about four times the size of an individual floor tile.  The entire height of the wall was covered by one tile lying on top of the second one.  The next column was one full tile in the middle with two half sized tiles placed one above and one below.  The pattern continued repeating on up and down the entire length of the walls.

The ceiling was filled with large panels of shiny metal.  They were connected by 3×15 light sources at 10 ft apart, which provided ample amount of light to the hallway.  Because the floor and the walls reflected the lights coming from the ceiling very well, the hallway was as bright as it could be.  David walked behind Diane.  As the same patterns repeated over and over, David felt a bit queasy and didn’t feel like he was moving at all.  Along the way, however, several doors camouflaged in the same shaped pattern, flashed by him on either side.

Diane stopped near the middle of the hallway and faced right.

‘Ms. Paula Diaz’, read the name above the 8 ft hexagonal shaped door when David looked up. 

“Hexagon seems to be the theme of the architecture…,” quietly, said David to himself.  Upon verification of Diane’s ID, the door once again seemed to open by itself.

“Ms. Diaz, this is Mr. Chan.  I was asked to bring him to you.”  Diane said politely introducing David.

“Yes, of course.  You may leave now, Diane.”  Ms. Diaz said in an authoritative manner.

“Yes ma’am!”  Diane replied then motioned to David to take a seat before leaving the room.

Ms. Diaz sported black hair which was tightly combed back by bringing the end of her hair in a full bloomed flower shape to the back of her head.  She used a large designer red hair pin to pierce thru it in order to hold it together at the back.  She wore bright purple lipstick and fashioned long purple eyelashes which were prominently being displayed on her egg shaped face.  David’s attention was immediately drawn to her eyes as she was blinking them.  She wore tight red leather two piece business suits that complimented her physique extremely well.  She was wearing a pair of red high hills to match her suit.

She was sitting upright with her arms crossed, her right leg over her left knee behind an all glass desk.  There was an aura of no nonsense about her.  She wasn’t afraid to show all of herself.  Everything about her indicated complete transparency.   David felt that this was a very confident woman who took great pride in whatever it was, she did.

“How may I help you, Mr. Chan?”  Ms. Diaz asked politely, but highly business like.

“Yes, let me just say thank you, first of all, for making time to see me.  I won’t take very much of your time.” David courteously returned her in like manner with professionalism.  Showing his badge to Ms. Diaz, he continued, “I am with the UNBI Chicago Office and am currently investigating a homicide.  In the course of my investigation, my leads have brought me here and I am searching for an individual and some information on that person who maybe on one of your vacations at the moment.”  Immediately, David got to the subject of his interest, “his name is Rick Haney.”

“What sort of information are you looking to obtain from us about this individual?”  She said looking at David curious as to how she could help.

“I would like to know or confirm first if indeed he is here.  If so, where he is and when he will return, and possibly, will I be able to see him today?”  David wanted to find Haney and question him as soon as possible.

“We have a strict policy that protects our customers’ privacies and we can’t divulge any information about our travelers.  However, with a proper authorization, I may be able to help you on the first 3 things.  But, you won’t be able to see him today as it will disturb everyone who is on the same trip.  That part is impossible even if we were able to locate him today!”  Looking into David’s eyes, Ms. Diaz explained the company policy.

“What sort of authorization do you require?”

“Well, I need to first clear it with our legal.  Then, we’ll go from there.”

“Sure.  Is there anything that I can do to help with that process?”  David was eager to help.  Perhaps, he could leverage his UNBI association to help Diane move it quicker, he thought.

“I’ll ask you if it becomes necessary.  It may take some time to obtain the proper authorization.  Would you mind waiting for a few minutes?  You can take a seat on that chair over there.  You will find it highly comfortable while you are waiting.”  She pointed to a lounging area to the left of the door where a black leather sofa was placed along with a round glass coffee table.

“Thank you.  Ma’am,” said David as he moved to take a seat on the cushy sofa to the left of him.

“Would you like a cup of tea while you wait?”

“Yes, if you don’t mind…”

Ms. Diaz called up her assistant first and instructed to bring in a cup of hot barley tea with honey and sugar on the side.  Barley tea was a rarity and David was looking forward to tasting it when he heard Ms Diaz instructing her assistant.  Then, she tapped her fingers on the glass desk and got busy interacting with the computer system.  Finally, sending an authorization request for her to provide Haney’s itinerary for the purpose of David’s investigation, she turned to David and said, “OK, a request has been sent to our legal.  Let’s see what they say, Mr. Chan.”

“Thank you, Ms. Diaz,” David said and he waited eagerly to not only for the opportunity to question Haney, but also to taste the rare barley tea as well.


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