Chapter 3: Nick
I lost my journal, again. My inability to keep track of my person possessions is a bit worrying, maybe when I get back to LA I should talk to my shrink about it. Poor memory can be the warning sign of a very serious mental illness, such as Dissociative Identity Disorder. Though I doubt that I suffer from DID, but I digress.
My day began in a crappy motel in Farmington, New Mexico. Nice enough town, Matthias just didn't want to splurge on lodging. His excuse was a vague mutter about how we couldn't draw attention to ourselves after the stunt in Las Vegas, and he left it at that. We ate breakfast at a local IHOP, gassed up at a gas station in the same shopping center, and hit the road. Around midday, we stopped at a Mexican restaurant in Santa Fe. Halfway through the meal though, Natasha and Matthias were called by their employer. Apparently, he had some business for them to take care of locally. I suppose it makes sense, after all, Santa Fe is fairly sizable city, still it struck me as a bit odd. Matthias paid the bill and told us to meet him at the train station in Glorieta, and that was that, we didn't see either of them again until evening.
"This seems a little too convenient," said Smith, a few moments after they had left.
"And why is that?" I asked.
"Both of them leaving us unexpectedly and allowing us to have free reign of the car?"
"Sorry, Katie. I'm just saying, they don't even know us that well. We could easily steal Katie for ourselves and sell her for about as much money as we'd make if we delivered her this Midas character. No, I think they're up to something. I think they want to test our character, see if we do anything we shouldn't with Katie while they're away."
"Things like trying to break into her trunk."
"Exactly, I think we should still try to take this opportunity, but do so cautiously, y'know? We just need to make it far enough out into the middle of nowhere that we'll be able to tell if we're being followed."
"Agreed, though we have to make sure that we don't disturb whatever is in Katie's trunk, or really leave any evidence of breaking into it. If they are suspicious enough to pull this, they'll be suspicious enough to thoroughly examine Katie as soon as we're out of sight."
"You know," Jones smiled bemusedly, "I find it interesting how quickly we jump to paranoid assumptions like this... We don't trust Matthias or Natasha that much, do we?"
"They aren't very trustworthy people," I shrugged. We finished our lunches, idly chatting, and walked out to Katie. Matthias had told us that we shouldn't expect to meet up with them again until around seven, which meant we had about five and a half hours to kill. Still, Smith and I decide that rather than shop around Santa Fe and waste time, we would just head straight for Glorieta.
After about two and a half hours of driving, we pulled over on the highway and parked. The desert stretched on for miles in all directions, flecked with green brush. Smith went around back and was about to open up Katie's trunk when we both remembered, the lock on the trunk required a different key.
"Well hell, that basically throws a wrench into this doesn't it," Jones muttered, leaning dejectedly against Katie.
"Hold on, toss the keys up here, I'm going to look around the glove compartment. There might be something in there we can use to open up the back," I said. He complied, and after a few seconds of rummaging, I found a wire clothes hanger.
"Hey, yeah, that'll work nicely," Smith said upon seeing it, and I handed it back to him. He was in the process of bending it into a usable shape when we were approached by a hitchhiker. He snuck up on us, making virtually no noise as he approached, so both Jones and I were startled when he spoke.
"Car trouble?" he asked, seeing Smith kneeling at the back of the car.
"Uh, yeah, but I managed to fix it so we're all good," Jones answered, and he tossed the clothes hanger into the backseat.
"Where are you two headed?" he asked.
"Glorieta," I said, jumping into the conversation.
"Well how about that, so am I! Mind giving a stranger a lift?" he grinned eagerly, and Smith shot me a look.
"I suppose... Alright, fine. Hop in," he said reluctantly.
"Thanks mate, I really appreciate it," the hitchhiker said, somehow maintaining a grin while speaking. I swapped to the driver's seat, and Jones got in on the passenger's side. As we drove, the hitchhiker shot his mouth off at an incredible pace, allowing very few opportunities for me or Smith to interject. Not that I had anything to say really, still, conversation etiquette dictates that you must allow conversations to be dialogues, not monologues. I could tell Jones was annoyed, he sat perfectly still, arms folded and eyes straight ahead. He was most likely frustrated that our attempt to break into Katie's trunk had been foiled. Eventually, the hitchhiker ran out of things to say and turned the conversation over to us.
"So, Smith, where are you two coming from?"
"Vegas," I responded, as I could tell Jones wasn't in the mood to humor our uninvited guest.
"Nice, I love Vegas. Where did you stay?"
"Get out! The Wynn? You two must be loaded."
"Well, we have a few connections."
"So how much did you win?"
"Eh, a bit. To be honest we did more losing than..." I trailed off mid-lie, "I'm sorry, I don't believe we've introduced ourselves yet."
"Hey, yeah! You're right, I cannot believe my manners. I'm-"
"More specifically, Smith didn't introduce himself."
"I... Ah, I see..." the hitchhiker cleared his throat, and I pulled over.
"No, you know, I don't think I did," Jones said, and turned around in his seat, "So would you care to explain how you know my name?"
"Listen, you wouldn't believe me if I told you."
"Try me," I said.
"I... Alright, fine. I know this sounds crazy, but you asked... I, I kind of, uh... know things."
"You 'know things?' Brilliant, get out of the car," Smith ordered.
"Hey, no listen to me alright! I know things I shouldn't, things that have happened, things that are going to happen."
"Alright, no, I don't have time for this crap. Get out right now, or I will end you," Jones growled, showing a vicious streak I haven't seen in him before.
"Matthias and Natasha! I know where they are! Smith, I know about S!" That was a bad idea, Smith grabbed the hitchhiker, tossed him out of the car, threw him to the ground and delivered a swift kick to his stomach.
"Kid, you best start talking or I will send you to a world of pain so terrible that your only desire will be the cold embrace of death, and in the mood I'm in right now, I'd be more than willing to oblige."
"Alright, alright look, it doesn't matter if you believe me, I just need to warn you about something. Scylla, alright, remember that! Scylla! As soon as you hear that name you need to bolt okay? And six, three, six, avoid that like the plague! You have no idea what you're getting into with Oktober!" Jones kicked him again, spat, and got back in the car, and we drove off.
For quite a while, we drove in total silence, eventually I tried to break the ice by mentioning that we were getting close to Glorieta, but Smith didn't respond. His reaction was... interesting. I'll admit, the hitchhiker's seemingly extensive knowledge of us was disturbing, but it was nothing that would make me resort to physical violence. Something he said must of struck an extremely negative chord with Jones, I'm thinking it was that thing about 'S'. Smith was the one person I thought I could trust in Oktober, now it looks like he's keeping secrets too.
Matthias called me as we were driving into Glorieta to tell us that the meeting spot had changed. We were to come and pick him at some place in the middle of the desert about a half-hour away. I relayed all this information to Jones, who was starting to calm down, and we drove to the designated area. It involved a bit of an off-road detour, but surprisingly Katie handled it well. The new meeting spot was near a railroad, and when we arrived there we were greeted with the sight of Natasha and Matthias sitting atop the abandoned caboose of a train.
"Care to explain what all this is?" I asked as Smith and I pulled up.
"Just business. There's some cargo here in the caboose, we need to wait until some other associates of Midas show up to take it away."
"How, ah... legal have the events of your day been?"
"Everything I've done today has been perfectly within the bounds of US law."
"What you don't know can't hurt you, Nick."
"See no evil, hear no evil," I said. As the sun was just disappearing over the horizon, three, black Escalades pulled up, and various men in suits got out and started unloading a variety of boxes from the caboose. A very well dress brunette pulled Matthias aside and talked to him for a bit. Natasha made conversation with the men and helped unload the caboose, and Jones and I sat in Katie feeling equal parts awkward and paranoid.
I keep going back to what the hitchhiker said, there are three main things of interest to me. One, his warning about Scylla. Scylla was a mythical, six-headed beast from Homer's Odyssey, I fail to see how it would in any way endanger myself or Smith. The second point of interest was what he said about six, three, six. Katie's license plate is "VB-636", and a few days ago I'm pretty sure Jones or Matthias brought it up. And the last thing is this "S" Smith got so upset about. I have absolutely no idea what to make of any of those things, but one thing is for sure, Oktober certainly seems to breed secrets, and no one seems to want to let me in on them.
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