Nightmares are also dreams Part 40-Interlude

The room looks like any other office meeting room. Faux wood table, large monitor on the wall for presentation or telepresence, an untouched carafe of water in the center.

Perfectly normal except for the men who sit around the table. They discuss the business human trafficking without remorse or emotion. Its just units acquired. Where they are trained, quality of product, profits from sales and new markets.

It is the economics of evil. Discussed as calmly as and quarterly earnings meeting is.

A chiseled jaw classically good looking man looks up and interrupts the well-worn flow of figures and growth.

“If I may interject?” He asks.

A salt and pepper faded copy of the man looks up and states, “The chair acknowledges the Head of Procurement.”

The young looking man pulls out a sheet of paper from the stack next to him. A prop really as he’s memorized what he needs to say.

“The central hub of procurement for the southwest sector has gone dark. We heard an initial report that there was trouble but the window for the follow on report is late. We sent a team to investigate and have heard from a few of the procurers through that channel that there was a possible takeover initiated. They think that we will have to negotiate with a new consortium shortly.”

The board members look nonplussed until the Head of Finance grins and says, “Maybe this is a opportunity to argue more favorable terms. This outfit sounds professional, which is a good thing. The southwest team was always so vulgar.”

The rest of the board smiles and shakes their heads. Business as usual then.

There is a sharp knock on the conference room door and a scared dough faced young man enters, “Sirs, there is a package here. It is in a cold box and marked perishable.”

The businessmen get up and file out, ready to take a look at this gift. Maybe it’s lobster. Or caviar, the Russian consortium has been trying to make nice….

The box is a 5 ft cubed metal box with a handprint reader on the side.

The young man nervously says to the elder gentleman, “Sir, it says that your handprint will open it.”

The man looks around, clearly suspecting one of them of currying favor. Smiling he places his hand on the panel. There is a brief moment then lid lifts with a soft hiss of escaping air and chill.

The lid is mounted on an arm and it slides easily to the side leaving the interior of frost and 1 ft^3 wooden boxes which fills the it. 80 boxes in total with the remainder of the space taken up by frost and electronics. On top sits a bulging stuffed manilla envelope. The procurement head grabs the envelope and opens it. One of the other men takes the included pry bar and swearing about the cold, opens one of the boxes.

The young man says “Listen to this. It says that this is a order of evacuation. That we are to cease and desist all activity within the southwest area and that we have 48 hours to wrap up all non trafficking related business before other sanctions will be met out.” The young man is smiling at the audacity and looks up, wondering what has the board so silent.

The men are clustered around the crate and are peering inside.

The procurement head looks over and sees what’s inside….it’s heads. The chopped off stumps of the consortium…some of them show signs of torture.

The elder statesmen of the group looks up. The shock bleeds to cold rage. He says, “Gentlemen, it would seem we are at war.”

Nightmares are also dreams Part 28-Interlude

I look around at the small group of men. Disheveled, dirt and other offal staining our clothes and faces. I’ve never met them, but apparently they are with the Circle, which led them to my door earlier this afternoon. Apparently, I’m on some list somewhere as a safe house. Nevermind that I just do the accounts.

I’m watching them watch me as I code in, just as protocol was drilled into me.

I hang up and wait for the callback on the secure phone. I smile and ask, “Can I get you gentlemen anything? Juice or an apple?”

They just stare at me like I’m not even here.
Ugh, save me from the knuckle draggers.
The phone rings and I punch in the last code. So paranoid but most of these criminal types are. Except the cartel guys. They are mostly cheap swagger in bodies mommy didn’t hug enough.
But, the jobs the job.

I hand over the phone to their de facto leader and exit the room. It doesn’t pay to overhear these conversations…well, it doesn’t pay to be Seen to overhear. But I can hear quite well through the bugs planted around the office.

“Sir, they took the transhipment point down. A half dozen of us only made it out because they were paying more attention to the product rather than looking for hidey holes,” Mr tough guy says.

I can hear some response but nothing specific.

Mr Tough guy’s starts yelling, “No sir. NO! These guys were military, it wasn’t cops. They didn’t ask for surrender, they just started killing us. NO! This Was the only option. The last two safe houses had ambush teams waiting. We barely made it out alive. We lost half the survivors just making it here.”

I look over to the ambush team waiting at the other entrance and raise my glass of chilled peach juice to them. It’s so nice to work with professionals. People who know that it’s just business and are willing to accept the realities. Plus, who turns down half a million dollars for 10 minutes work?

“Yes, Sir. Yeah, all good. We’ll be at hanger 12 in 2 hours.”

As soon as he hangs up, the ambush team busts down my mahogany doors and swarms my ex-employers.

The CKD(Chief Knuckle Dragger) looks at me like I shot his puppy. I just smile and shrug. And he smiles back.

What’s that ringing? I look at my new employer and they are holding a silenced pistol on me, why?!

“No one who ever profits from this. Orders are orders.”

I seem to be sitting down. How did I get here?
My juice has spilled….that’s gonna stain…
I don’t remember adding strawberries to the mix….