NaNoWriMo, Day Seventeen

While I normally put in a lot of  internal links to previous, related posts here, I won’t be doing that for what I hope will be thirty NaNoWriMo posts. If you have jumped into or stumbled onto this story in mid-adventure, there are plenty of other ways to navigate around the site to find previous installments. Actually doing so is left as an exercise to the student.

And on the seventeenth day, God said, “Take a little break, because you’re already at 45,000 words and Real Life is going to continue to kick your ass for the next couple of days”. Who am I to argue with God? (Boy, the discussions we could have on that question! Some other time, perhaps.)

Some of the Conflicting Priorities (aka, “excuses to not write”) were involuntary (the usual Sunday groceries and housework, but more importantly, I have a critical job interview tomorrow and need to be ready for it) while some were completely voluntary (my beloved Chiefs were playing on national television in the “game of the year” and I wasn’t going to miss it). Yeah, no doubt I could have squeezed just a few more minutes to work on this if my life depended on it — but it doesn’t.

2013-11-17 NaNoWriMo Scoreboard


It occurred to Margaret that it was her turn for some judicious paranoia. On the one hand, if her opponents in this battle had almost unlimited resources and were acting above and beyond the law, she was screwed and there was nothing she could do that would change the outcome. If that was the case, it didn’t matter if she acted or not. Therefore she should just go ahead and act anyway. Right?

On the other hand, there had to be limitations to what they were capable of, or else they wouldn’t have asked Tom anything and they wouldn’t have ignored her. Both she and Tom would be gone. So it wasn’t like she was taking on the whole US government or some international drug cartel. Therefore she should act because there was a chance that she could prevail. Right?

Her head was spinning. Fly the plane. Okay, assume she was being watched and monitored in some way. Act normal. Find a way to contact Jason without tipping off the bad guys. Which was a great plan, except that she had no way to contact Jason at all, either with or without letting anyone else find out about it.

Act normal. Fly the plane. Getting out of Tom’s hotel room with Tom’s key and backpack would be a great first step. Breaking and entering. Trespassing. Burglary. Theft. Grand theft auto if they wanted since his car keys were in her pocket. She didn’t think the threatening lawyers would have a tough time making her life a living hell if someone walked in her right now.

Don’t draw attention to yourself. Fly the plane. Margaret left all of Tom’s clothes and luggage just as they were, but took his backpack. She went through the room once with a washcloth and tried to wipe off anything that she might have touched so that there weren’t any fingerprints. Isn’t that what they always did in the movies? She checked to make sure the hallway was clear, wiped off the door handle, and then left, acutely conscious of the presence of security cameras in every hallway and stairwell.

Once outside, she made sure that Tom’s rental car was locked before she put the car keys and hotel key back into the backpack, along with the notes and picture of Dahlia. If she was stopped or questioned, she could still at least try to use the story that she was trying to return a customer’s lost belongings. It wasn’t much of a story, but it was at least a little bit true and all she had.

Margaret drove back to her office at the hanger and tried to think. How could she contact this Jason guy? She didn’t have Tom’s phone or pad to use, she didn’t know his last name, where he lived, where he worked, what he did, or anything else.

After an hour of thinking it over she had gotten nowhere. No matter how she went over it, there was only one fact she knew about Jason, his first name. That wasn’t sufficient. Period.

Between this morning’s adrenaline in dealing with the surprise visit by the lawyers, then the confrontation with Tom, then watching him get kidnapped, then dealing with what she had to do, Margaret finally realized that she was starving. It was way past lunch time. If she was going to act normal, she should eat.

Before she left, she took a quick walk around the hanger to make sure that all of the doors were locked. As she got to the exit, she started to key in the arming code on the security system, but stopped halfway through the process as she was hit by a stunning revelation. Her racing thoughts were interrupted only by the alarm’s warning countdown as it reacted to the incomplete arming sequence. Before the alarm could go off, she entered the security code to disarm the system. All she would need right now is a visit from the police over a false alarm.

She now realized that she knew two more key things about Jason. She knew that he had been somehow monitoring Tom’s location as well as the location of Ellen’s car. But now he would have lost Tom’s beacon and he would be monitoring Margaret’s jeep, even though he didn’t know about the switch in cars. Plus, Tom had told her that Jason had been getting updates on what Tom was doing, including information about her and the balloon flight that she had taken Tom on.

She had been looking at it all wrong. She didn’t have to contact Jason. She just had to get his attention in some way and have him contact her. Best of all, she had a good idea how to do that.

But for that to work, lunch was still the first priority for the moment. Margaret locked up the last door and activated the security system, before getting in her jeep. She drove through a fast food place that she frequented often and got lunch to go. Then she hit the road heading south out of town, back toward Santa Fe. Anywhere out of town except back toward that compound out at the bottom of the mesa.

(Chapter Sixteen to be continued)

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