The people of Supinity prepare for a peaceful holiday season, but the feds just won’t leave them alone. Chad Brooks knows they’re planning something, but he can’t figure out what and the powers that be aren’t telling him anything. But in the fight against invisible threats, help comes from unexpected sources.
“I don’t care how you do it, but get me enough fresh meat to populate the plane! I need at least forty or more bodies!” Simon Worley slammed the phone down and paced the floor of his spacious office. It was furnished with top of the line futuristic furniture, ultra-modern, and exactly how he’d wanted it, in shades of white, black and gray. Right now, though he glanced around the office, gazed at the wall of computers, the office he loved so much and practically lived in, the décor hardly phased on him. His mind was on other things, namely that his main project wasn’t going as planned. He still had no shapeshifters for his scientists to experiment on, to find out what made them tick and how they could use them to the country’s advantage. Labyrinth was top of the line in futuristic technology, investigations of unexplained phenomena, alternate realities, mysteries of the universe, and the best in finding cures. They also dabbled in germ warfare. He and his team of scientists had developed the world’s best bio weapon, one that made Ebola look like a walk in the park. They were basically the best in everything. The government relied on him and his laboratories, depended on his ability to make things happen. They had given him the property and financial means to build this facility. What a pity he soon had to leave it and move to the most secret base of all, the one he’d supervised the building of from his computer.
Simon was determined he’d succeed where others had failed. The captured shifters had escaped twice in the past and so far they hadn’t caught any. But since the project had been put into his hands after the last shifter fiasco, he had come up with what he thought a foolproof plan, one that he felt sure would draw out the beasts.
It hadn’t been that hard to obtain a plane. There were aviation graveyards in several different areas with grounded planes that with a bit of TLC could still fly. He’d found a Bombardier that could seat about fifty passengers and it was still in good working order. A team of mechanics had gone over the plane with a fine-tooth comb, repaired where needed, oiled, gotten it ready to make its final flight. All he needed now were a crew and unidentified bodies, enough of them to make it look like the plane had authentic passengers aboard. The only problem was they had to be fresh. Decomposing bodies, or ones that had been in deep freeze for a while, weren’t good enough.
There was a knock on the door. Irritated, Simon pushed the button of the intercom. “Who is it?”
“Robert Forrest, sir.”
Letting out a deep sigh, Simon pushed the button that allowed the doors to open. “What do you want? You’d better have some good news for me.”
“Sir, we’re having a problem finding a pilot and copilot. None of the pilots and stewardesses we’ve approached and can trust are willing to risk their lives.”
“I’m offering a handsome sum of money. What’s the problem?” Simon demanded. “This operation has to seem authentic.”
“There’s the risk of the plane catching fire, exploding, never mind being attacked by the shifters. And crashing a plane on purpose isn’t a simple task,” Robert told him. “Especially in that area. They’re also fearful of flying a plane that was discarded as scrap.”
“I told you I don’t want it catching fire. That would defeat the whole purpose. It’s been thoroughly inspected and certified to be flyable. Surely you can find a pilot who can do a belly landing and a small crew to make it seem realistic? With a bit of luck it’ll snow. They’re predicting a cold winter. Okay, up the reward by fifty thousand.”
Robert shook his head. “I doubt that will do it.”
Exasperated, Simon ran a hand through his blond, thinning hair. “Make it a hundred thousand. That should get me a pilot willing to take on the job.”
“What about the copilot, the guy with the camera, and the stewardesses?”
“Offer them more, too. I’ll handle it. This has to mimic an authentic movie production.”
“I’ll try, sir, but so far no one wants to risk their lives, for no amount of money.”
Robert left the office and Simon sat in the suspended chair behind the glass-topped desk. He’d offered a hundred thousand for a pilot already plus the rewards for the other crew. Increasing it by that much was cutting into his funding for the project. How the hell could he ever get this mission off the ground? It had taken far too much planning already. Bodies were difficult to find, especially that many fresh bodies all at once. He sighed. The fake passengers all had to be dressed, carry purses, wear jewelry and watches, have carry-on luggage just like regular travelers.
Only fresh blood could draw out the shifters. He felt sure of that. At times he questioned himself about coming up with such a project, especially with his backers declaring him insane. Coordinating it all had given him high blood pressure, anxiety attacks, and driven him to drinking too much. Thinking about alcohol, he spoke aloud. “Open bar.”