Parallel Man 8 – The Interchange II

Parallel Man 8
By. Richard Rester
Copyright March 20, 2015

The Interchange II

The part of town Kay was now in used to be the old industrial quarter on the north side. When industry moved further away from the city center this older district just stopped. Many of the buildings that were used as warehouse space, factories, even a building that housed the city morgue, were abandoned and left to degrade and crumble over time.

Where the hell is he going, Kay thought, after nearly thirty minutes of following the man. He finally entered a second hand book store, cliche in every way including the over-hanging, rusted sign; a green, cartoon worm lounging on top of, black, old English script that read the Bookworm, over a field of white. The sign hung so low that one was compelled to stoop a little while stepping to the door, made of a heavy wood, with faded glass inset. The glass was so old Kay could see the red and white open sign distorted due to the ripples. Pushing it open caused a small, brass bell to be touched by the door. Quickly, she shot her hand up and muffled the dinging sound. Kay stepped inside and paused a moment, assessing the room inside with a sweeping gaze. She eased the bell into a stable position after closing the door.

As dawn slowly lit the city, light filtered in through the old glass windows and lit dust that hung in the air near the front windows, as bare incandescent light bulbs provided enough artificial light to see the interior. Tall, old oak book shelves lined the walls. Each shelf was full of old books, many with titles so faded they were unreadable. A steel rolling stair was available at the far back wall so the proprietor could reach the publications too high for the outstretched hand. A short, glass countertop held up an older 1980’s style cash register over to Kay’s right; a number of classic books were encased within, some with price tags in the hundreds of dollars range.

A shuffling noise issued from the back of the shop. As Kay silently advanced through the isles of shorter, waist-high shelves she noticed an old, dark brown door, slightly ajar. A soft yellow light emanated from within. More shuffling noises were heard from inside the room, but seemed further away, as if coming from around a few corners. Kay reached out and grabbed the old door knob. Pushing down hard on the knob she slowly eased the door open, hoping that the pressure on the old hinges would avoid them from squeaking and announcing that she was there. It worked.

More shuffling noises were heard, but even further away this time. She peeked around the door and noticed no one was on the other side. Quickly she scanned the hallway within. The first, and most overwhelming impression was books. Books stacked on books and stacks of books swarming every corner, surface, nook, cranny and crevice, all precariously balanced. A one-foot path in the floor was all there was to allow passage of people, such that it was easy to envision a river at the bottom of a valley of book mountains. The walls were of unfinished plywood, as if hastily constructed. At the back of the hallway was a heavy, metal frame, crash bar door. Kay wondered how valuable books really were in an age of smartphones and digital media, but shrugged the question out of her head, as more pressing matters were at hand.

As the hitwoman advanced, a secondary hallway hove into view from behind a particularly mountainous stack of books. Careful not to touch any of them, she peeked into the second hallway, while not silhouetting herself in the entrance. It was dimly lit by secondary light, yet, she was still able to determine that there were no obstacles here. The end of the hall was lit by another bare bulb in the ceiling. A light switch on the far wall was one of the old, brown, round ones from the 1940’s, with a power line running up the wall and across the ceiling to the light. A right angle in the hall was clearly visible.

Kay stealthily walked the length to the end and, again, peek around to the right. This time was a flight of about twenty-five steps down and into a basement. At the bottom of the stairs was a wall, a left angle and more light from a source currently out of sight. The girl could barely hear fumbling, shuffling and grunting, distorted by the echoes of an empty room.

Slowly, step by step, she descended into the basement. A loud thump echoed, as if from a heavy box. Kay took the opportunity to take a couple quick steps, masking them. More thumping noises were heard, and on each one she quickened her progress until she was at the bottom.

When she looked around the corner and into the basement what she saw was completely expected, a relatively empty basement. Dagle was sorting through boxes, searching for something it seemed. She casually stepped into the open and leaned against the frame of the stairwell. She cleared her throat, startling the man. He spun around, noticed her, then relaxed. “Kaylyn… you scared the shit outa me.”

Without hesitation she retorted. “I was gonna do a lot more than startle you, Dagle.” She crossed her arms. “So, you own this dump?”

He sighed and rested an arm on a stack of boxes. “You know I do, Lyn… look I don’t have time for your sick jokes right now.”

“I’m not here to joke.”

“Fine, whatever it is you are here for, it’ll have to wait. I’m very busy right now.” He pulled the top box off of the stack on which he was leaning, dropped it on the floor and opened the flaps.

“What are you looking for?” She asked in suspicious humour.

Irritation flashed across his face. “None of your business! Shit…” he appeared apologetic, as if he felt guilty for losing his patience. “Just leave, we’ll talk later.”

Kay pushed herself off of the frame and walked slowly toward him. “Could you possibly be looking for what is on this flash drive?” She poised the evidence, her Dagle hired her to secure, in front of her between thumb and index finger.

Fear suddenly crossed his features. “How did you find that… I mean… how could you know!?”

Kay honestly didn’t know what it was that was on the drive, but it was obviously something that both Dagles had in common. Something so horribly incriminating that it would produce the same look of trepidation on both of them. Her gamble had paid off. However, the girl wasn’t going to let on that she didn’t know what it was. “It doesn’t matter. The fact is, I have it… and you want it. My question is, what are you willing to give me for it?”

“Give you… why… I mean…” suddenly, he lurched forward at her.

With a quick crescent kick she stopped him from his attempted grasp of the drive she held. He sprawled on the floor a moment before gaining his knees. Kay giggled to herself, not because of the blood that now flowed from his mouth, but that he had no idea that there were two identical drives, and his was still in the box he searched for.

The man was very confused. Kaylyn would never just hurt him like that. Of course, he wouldn’t normally lunge at her as he did. The information on the drive she held could put him in prison for twenty to life… and all because of a mistake. When the girl called about killing Anders he knew she found something out, he just didn’t know it was everything. “Why are you doing this?” He spoke rapidly, as if trapped. “You and I are good friends. I’ve never done anything to you.” Blood dripped onto his thighs.

Kay decided to play the cards a little with the man before killing him. She was sporty like that. “Except lie to me all this time.”

He stammered again. “I didn’t lie to you! Surely you understand why I never told you!?”

“No, I don’t. I thought we were friends, that we told eachother everything.” She was guessing that it was just that type of relationship her alternate self had with this Dagle. She was right.

“B-but, I wanted to… it’s just so…”

Because she had not yet had access to a computer, to see for herself the evidence that was on the drive, she decided to get that information before she put an end to him. “Tell you what… I’ll consider forgiving you for this if you tell me yourself exactly what you did.”

“But you already kno…”

“Pretend I don’t!” She snapped, acting it out, making it look like she was this other Kaylyn. If she could find out what her Dagle was hiding, and if she ever managed to get back to her reality, she could then use her knowledge to renegotiate her payout, which suddenly seemed a pittance compared to how important the information was to him. “You want to make amends or not!?”

“Okay!” Dagle grunted as he shifted to a sitting position with his elbows on his knees. After a sigh he began.