This week’s episode features Chapter Fourteen of Black Brick. Here is an excerpt from the show:
IT WAS THE FIRST warm day in months, and the students of Kingstone campus were taking advantage of it. A group of people on the grass in front of the Lincoln library were tossing around a Frisbee, and there were even a few ambitious girls sunbathing. It was warm, but it wasn’t warm enough for that.
Several women who walked by chatted animatedly. In the brief snippets of the conversation I overheard, it sounded like they were discussing a celebrity, but I didn’t hear enough to overhear who. Not that it would have mattered if I did, I didn’t know much about those sorts of things.
I marveled at their energy. To me, they looked like kids, but I knew they were the same age as me, if not older. How was it possible for me to feel like an old man when I was barely old enough to be in college? What would I have become if I hadn’t been raised by the government?
I headed into the library. I wasn’t sure if I intended to get anything done, but I had to get out of Black Brick. It had been two days since the train incident, and I was going stir crazy. Beltran hadn’t even made us attend class, which I’d been thankful for until I felt the walls start to close in.
When I passed the lobby, I noticed Thor sitting at a table near the librarian’s desk and decided to go to the second floor. I didn’t feel up to dealing with the man.
I found an empty table in a corner and pulled out my tablet computer and set it down without turning it on. It had been a long couple of days and I still couldn’t tell up from down. The last week had been intense. Explosions left and right, people connected to Diggon dropping like flies, and hidden agendas everywhere I turned.
Beltran could call it a test if he wanted, but that didn’t make it any better. When we’d been told that there would be a final test to become active, I’d expected a hard mission that tested my personal abilities and limits.
What Beltran was doing tested my faith in him and our organization. What else would Beltran be willing to do as a test? How far was he willing to go? Would he let people die?
I was certain about only one thing. Payne and Martinez needed to be brought to justice.
Turning on my tablet, I avoided the temptation to check the news because it would be focused on the train wreck. More than twenty-five people had died so far, with more deaths expected. My subconscious had somehow been able to accept the fact that the situation hadn’t been of my own making and that I’d done my best. This kept the guilt from overwhelming me.
Yawning, I looked around the library and saw I was alone. Shelves of books towered all around me, providing me with the refuge and solace I sought. Shifting, so that my back was facing a wall, I decided it was safe to open work related information and review it. I needed to do something to keep my mind off the madness. The only way out was through.
As a team, we had expressed interest in helping chase down Martinez and Payne. Beltran had refused our offer but given us Martinez’s file to review.
“Make no mistake, you’re not on this case,” Beltran had said, “But Martinez knows enough about us that it would be best if everybody kept an eye out for his meddling.”
I opened the Martinez file and began to sift through it. Snorting, I realized that much of the information had been redacted or password protected. Later, if I had time, I’d try to get around the encryption on the documents. For now, I sifted through what was available.
Martinez had been recruited when he was twelve after his mother had died in a car accident. That wasn’t a surprise; all of us came from similar backgrounds. We’d all lost parents at a young age and never been adopted afterward.
I guess Beltran had adopted us all.
Did that make him our father? The thought made me shift in my seat. I hoped Beltran didn’t think of me as his son, I would never think of him in that way.
I noticed a file called activity logs and tried to access it, but found that it too was password protected. I’d been hoping to learn what Martinez had been doing the night that Andrews was killed. If he’d been using Payne and Kurt to get at Diggon, that made him our best suspect for the Andrews murder. Had he killed Gina to keep her from ratting him out? He could have killed us, but that might have drawn too much attention from Beltran.
“You made a mistake with Peck the other day, you know that, right?”
The statement broke into my thoughts like a cannonball diver at the deep end of a pool.
I looked up into the face of the dark haired girl that had been staring at me all semester. The tight pink sweater and jeans complimented her dark hair and it was an effort for me to remember that I was already spoken for.
“Excuse me?” I asked.
The woman smiled and shifted her head to the side. She was holding several books which she set down on my table. Without asking, she slid out a chair and took a seat.
“Peck’s going to call on you more frequently, just to see if you’ve done your reading.” She smiled, her white teeth stood out against her brown complexion. “Should I just call you Mr. Chever or do you have a first name?”