Seth frantically tried to re-contact the office and reach Melissa on her cell phone, which he knew almost never had a full charge due to the fact that she was a compulsive text-messenger.
It took over an hour but he finally got through to his assistant/Secretary (oops…Administrative assistant, Seth chided himself)/ Receptionist.
“Boss, you won’t believe this…but the whole office…files, computers, everything, it’s all burned, cooked, and roasted” Melissa managed to blurt out between fits of sobbing.
Seth stunned into silence as he thought back to his shabby “office”, a near-forgotten building at the end of an industrial park that was home to Construction Estimators, spice importers, a couple of sleazy .com’s, and Seth Cote’s under worked and overstaffed Agency.
None of the other businesses handled anything volatile or flammable, what could have happened?
“OK, just listen!” Seth blurted out, a little too strongly. “Get to my house, open the safe and grab all the petty cash, then fly out here now…tonight! I’m going to need your help as soon as possible.”
“B…But there’s firemen and police all over the place asking me questions? Can I do that?”
“Just leave them one of my cards, if there’s any questions they can contact me. They should be talking to that rat-hole’s landlords anyway. Call me when you get your flight and I’ll meet you at the airport….got it?”
“OK Boss, I’ll get out there as soon as I can.” Melissa said, here voice now sounding steadier as she attached herself to a new task.
“Seth, what do you think is going on?” Melissa asked, nervously.
“We’ll find out soon enough, I’m as confused as you.” Seth admitted.
“Oh, and Mel…”
The electronic lock was only the first hurdle for entry to the trophy room; the 5 digit number was entered as Damon Ryche heard the well-oiled mechanism slide back inside the door.
He then reached into his pocket and pulled out an ancient skeleton key, cut in a bizarre variety of angles, an odd but effective contrary to the modern electronic locking apparatus.
With great effort, the key turned in the equally malformed and ancient keyhole, releasing another lock with a far less quiet and polished action than the five-digit gadget lock.
The door swung open under its own power as Damon walked into the cluttered room.
Damon found himself spending more and more time in this large closet of memories, it was always that way when he was nearing another end, or as he preferred to think of it, another beginning.
His fingers lightly touched each picture in the collection, every trophy, of every shape and size seemed to give off a reassuring vibration through his fingers, reverberating in what he called his “heart”. A long teak case held the only objects he dared not even touch.
It was only when he arrived at the end of the collection that his mood changed significantly. He removed this picture from its hook to inspect it closer, grimacing in anger as he looked at one of the more recent photos in the collection.
Less than fifty miles away, a near-crippled hand was holding another print of the very same photo.
His was a look of neither pain or happiness, but one of very grave concern.
He was working at his night job as janitor at the hospital when he caught a glimpse of the beast as he powered his way into Troy Compton’s hospital room. George had slipped as rapidly as he could behind a corner as his heart raced with fear.
The Devil himself was in town, and he needed to feed again.
George new that time must be running short for the creature that was once his friend and George also knew what he had to do.
With great effort, George maneuvered his cane and useless leg down the treacherous flight of stairs, leading to his tiny basement woodworking shop. He started pulling dusty covers off the collection of well-worn but meticulously maintained lathes, sanders, drills and clamping tables.
He only hoped that he had enough time to do what needed to be done.
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