Natural Design by Almondie Shampine
The Final Book in The Modules Series
Last Day to Get the Entire Series for FREE
It was a completely secured military barracks, with million-dollar homes, that we touched down on. We were instantly surrounded by a dozen armed military guards.
Everyone, but myself, was dressed in the uniform of the Military Mods. John had taught everyone how to stand, salute, and even hold their weapons, as he’d been former Military that had joined the C-team after his parents had been imprisoned for attempting to keep his little sister from being taken by the Recruiters.
“Stand down,” one of their guards told the others. “We were not advised that any more men would be joining us,” was spoken to John.
“We’ve brought someone the new President has been expecting.”
That was my cue. I pulled off my piloting gear, shook my hair out, and smiled big. “Me.”
“Catina Salsbury,” the Officer guard said with reverence. “So the reports are true. You’re alive.”
“Obviously,” I said dryly. “I wouldn’t be standing here if I wasn’t.”
“I don’t understand. Why would he have you come here? This location has been kept under lock and key.”
“I found the key,” I said simply. “Let’s just say he’s been expecting me, but not expecting me here. I had hoped to surprise him. Will you be ruining my surprise?” I teased, all the while continuing to grin at him.
They looked at one another. I saw momentary misery on their faces. Then the military guard pointed at a house. “Only you. You’ve got a one-minute head start,” and then he winked at me.
I recalled my conversation with Garrett when I’d been questioning why our own military would willingly bomb our own citizens, and he’d said at that time, “They’re not doing it willingly, I assure you.”
“30 seconds too many,” I said, taking off at a run.
I quickly peered through the windows of the massive home and saw his silhouette on the second floor. I could have tried the front door, being as how in this secure facility it was probably unlocked, but what would be the fun in that?
Instead, I used one of my new toys. State of the art, top tech glass cutter. Not intended for use on breaking into others’ homes, but the Commanding Officer of High Intelligence always spoke of technology developed, even with the best intentions, could be used as a weapon if placed in the wrong person’s hands. My hands.
And just like that, I was in, leaving me with plenty of time to look around, get the layout of things, and plant what needed to be planted.
Their phone rang. It was sitting, unsupervised, on the coffee table.
I answered it. “You looking to speak with George?” I said to the guard.
“Catina,” he said in shock.
“One moment, please. I’ll go get him.”
“George?” I heard a weary female voice.
I turned toward the voice. “Ah, you must be Mrs. Wilson. Is your husband here? The phone’s for him.”
George showed up next, wearing only a towel.
“Catina. What a – Did you let her in?” he turned to his wife. She shook her head.
“You should probably take this.” I handed him the phone.
He took it wearily. “Yeah … I know, she’s already in the house. Anyone else I should know about? … Don’t let anyone else out of your sight. … No, it’s fine. I was just caught off guard. … 15 minutes.”
“So, I hear there’s a medal you’d like to give me?” I said.
“Garrett said that he – He was supposed to call me around this time to arrange our meeting with the media. How – how did you locate me?” he demanded, still shaken or perturbed over my unexpected presence.
“If I didn’t know better by your proud press release, I’d say you’re not very happy to see me? Aren’t I supposed to be the hero that you were going on and on about, my service to our country, blah blah blah?”
“Oh, of-of course,” he stumbled. “I’m just surprised, but it’s a pleasant surprise. Do you – do you mind if I compose myself?” He gestured toward just-the-towel he was wearing.
“Go ahead. I’m sorry if I startled you. I was under the impression that the government had an open-door policy. Your door was open, so I walked right in.”
He scrunched his eyes at me. “I’ll – uh – I’ll be right back. Can you answer this if he calls?” He handed the phone to his wife.
The wife stared at me. I stared at her. She was pretty in that false-regal-I’m-the-President’s-wife way.
“Not much of a sense of humor on that guy, is there? It’s probably just a politician thing. I’m sure he’s hilarious in private,” I maintained conversation.
She cleared her throat, “Ah, can I get you a drink?”
“Yes. I would love a drink. I’ll take your most expensive bottle of water. Charge it to the taxpayers, please.”
I followed her into the kitchen, which was bigger than most hotel suites, where she placed the phone on the marble island.
I snatched it.
“Hello, Garrett. What did I tell you about not calling me while
“Cuh – cuh – Cat,” he sputtered. “What’re you doing -?”
“George is indisposed at the moment, but he should be right down.”
“Do you mind?” George’s wife said all snooty-like, putting her hand out for the phone.
“Do you? I’m trying to have a conversation with my husband.” I turned my back on her.
She left the room. Probably to tattle to her hubby.
“How did you find him? I told you to stay put and I’d arrange a meeting, where you’d be safe, and nothing would happen. I thought we were going to start working side-by-side. I tell you my suspicions that it’s a trap, so you find him at his home?”
“Exactly. He wasn’t going to trap me at his hidden hideout, because then he would have compromised the anonymity of everyone else. So, instead of letting him surprise me, I surprised him. Duh. It’s not rocket science. Why you gotta be such a nag? You mad I found it first? Huh? Is this about your ego again, Garrett? It’s okay, baby, don’t cry. It’s not your fault I’m better than you.”
“Do you have protection?”
“I’m not going to sleep with him,” I feigned insult.
“You know what I mean.”
“Would I come any other way?”
He chuckled, “No, I guess you wouldn’t. I know I’m supposed
to be respecting that you know what you’re doing, and let you do it,
but I still worry.”
“Well, Gare Bare, as much as I’m enjoying our lovely chat, George is looking none-too-pleased at me for using up the battery life on his phone. And he looks like he wants to talk to you very much. X O X O. Kiss the kids for me.”
I handed the phone to the President. “What is this, Garrett? I’m not one for surprises. I thought the arrangement was for the three of us and the media to meet in Washington. … You can’t control your wife? That’s your excuse? I don’t find any of this funny. … I do appreciate everything’s she’s done, and I’m well aware of the fact that I would not be President, if not for the two of you, and I’m deeply indebted to you, but this is not only unacceptable, it’s highly inappropriate. … I’m having a hard time believing that you didn’t know anything about this.”
“No, it’s true,” I said. “He hardly ever knows where I am or what I’m doing. I believe in the principle that absence makes the heart grow fonder, so I stay away from him and like to play hide and seek. He’s it.”
“Excuse me. What?” he said in irritation.
“It. As in, tag, you’re it. It’s another game we like to play. You should try it,” I looked at his wife. “Men like the hunt much more than they do the catch. If you want him to be faithful, you’re going to have to make him think he hasn’t caught you.”
This time, her eyebrows spiked on her face, and she looked at
He shook his head at her rapidly. “Garrett, the whole purpose of our meeting was to give her the award and have her make a speech over live television. What’re we supposed to do now? … Talk to her about it? Fine. I’m putting you on speakerphone. … Catina, in order for you to receive your award, which is the most honorable medal you can get, we have to do it with public exposure. That’s the whole purpose of it is to honor you and prove to the people of America that you’re alive, so that they’ll trust that I’ve got this situation under control and that we’re on the same side.”
“I know that. I took care of it,” I said.
“What do you mean you took care of it? You arranged a press conference for us?”
“Well, yeah, the government doesn’t own all the media, you know. How do you turn this thing on?” I pointed at the TV with the remote.
His eyes opened-wide, but not as wide as his mouth.
“Oh, nevermind, I figured it out.”
And it was that priceless expression on his face that stared back at him from the TV.
Too many seconds too long, he recovered from his shock, and plastered a big smile on his face.
“What channel, sweetheart?” Garrett asked over the phone.
“Every channel, Garry Barry.”
“Easy,” he snickered.
George composed himself from his shock and scowl and that look that full-grown adults get when they suddenly want to start throwing a tantrum like a little kid, along the lines of, ‘No, no, no, this isn’t what I wanted.’
“Excellent. Then I am proud to honor you.” He gestured toward his wife, and she took off. “America, Citizens of the United States. As promised, I bring to you Catina Salsbury, our country’s hero, alive and obviously very, very healthy. I will be presenting her the highest congressional honorable medal for her heroic efforts of removing tyranny from our democracy. Tyranny, in the name of William Burrell, who no longer poses a threat to our government or our country.”
My face entered the screen as I focused the button toward me. “A country I will continue fighting for until all those responsible are brought to rightful justice. Catina Salsbury. Peace out.”
I snatched the medal from his wife’s hand when she returned and was out the door before he could even recover his speechlessness and rifled pride.
When I returned to the Chopper, everyone was laughing, and Toby was looking at me with awe-struck eyes.
“Stop drooling, Toby. I don’t look like Angelina Jolene anymore, thank God.”
“I thought you looked like Cindy Crawford,” John stated.
“I saw Nicole Kidman,” Tony added.
“I’m not – I’m not drooling. I’m … amazed. You not only
pulled it off, but you pulled it off with … with …”
“Purple Pizazz,” Tony finished for him.
“I don’t know where you were these past few months after the explosion of the President’s plane, but … you’re different. You’ve changed. It’s like you’re confident that you know exactly what you’re doing,” he commented.
“I do know exactly what I’m doing. When have I ever not known what I was doing? Nevermind, don’t answer that.”
“Did you plant the tracer mic?”
“Sure did,” I grinned. “Here, check this for bugs,” I handed him the medal.
“Wow, this is impressive. … Nope, app’s not detecting anything. You used his phone, though. What if he checks it or tosses it?”
“He can do with his phone whatever he would like. It’s not where I planted it. Officer. Military Guard people. A pleasure,” I saluted them. They returned the salute. And Toby returned to his barf bag.
This time, instead of listening to the radio, we listened intently to the new President’s reaction to my intrusion. “How much of it was aired?” He spoke on the phone. “You mean to say that me wearing a towel was broadcast live to the entire nation? … She can’t get away with this. America was supposed to see that we’re on the same side so that they’d stop with this revolution, in order for us to rebuild. Instead, she blatantly disrespected and undermined me in my own
“… Obviously, I underestimated her. Tell me how I am going to fix this. … How are we supposed to get her on our side? You think we haven’t tried? … We did offer her something she wouldn’t be able refuse. We gave her the congressional medal of honor. What else could we possibly offer her? … Alex – er – Mr. Bartley, I do greatly respect your standing. I meant no disrespect by questioning you. I’m just upset right now. Listen, our base has been compromised. How quickly can you get us relocated?
“… Yes, as much as I don’t want any further delays, there’s no way we can have the meeting here, now. I’ll tell the others. We’ll be ready by 3:00 am sharp.”
“Toby,” I called.
“On it,” he said weakly, typing in the Bartley name. “Oh boy, nearly a million hits on that name, spelled three different ways. Looks like I have my work cut out for me. I’ll run it through category filters, restricted sites, etc., to see if I can pinpoint the one we’re looking for. What meeting do you think they were talking about?”
“We’ll soon find out. 3 am they’ll be moving out, so as soon as we find out their new location, we’ll stay in the area until we can get a lead.”
Suddenly, the low fuel light was blinking fiercely red.
“Uh oh,” I said. I knew there was something I’d forgotten.
“What is it?” Tony asked.
“Oh, it’s nothing.”
Then at that moment, the automated voice began to sound, “Warning. Low Fuel. You have 20 minutes to land. Warning. Low Fuel. You have 19 minutes to land.”
And the Chopper turned to screaming, shouting chaos.
Click on this link to get the entire Modules Series for Free July 4th, 5th, 6th, 2018. Or go to www.amazon.com/author/almondieshampine
Next Up: TBD -no, that’s not an STD. It means To Be Determined