Chapter 24

Rachel was eventually satisfied with her Friday kit. The dress she would wear wasn’t her usual sleek body hugging style because she couldn’t have the outline of her weapons be visible. It looked frumpy, but it would have to do. It had no waistline and silly pockets, completely out of character, it made her think of a 40-year-old virgin wallflower. Wendy Wallflower became the name. She tore out the pocket liners so she could draw her guns and knives.

She quickly changed into black leather motorcycle gear and fussed about the cut and fit of her riding pants while getting more and more excited. She had something to do that evening that was very risky but she had been thinking about it for days. The problem with motorcycle gear is that no matter how good it looks or how nicely it fits in the store, once you get on a bike it is usually a major pain. You don’t need to be able to move around much on a bike, mostly just freedom of motion of the head and neck is needed, but most motorcycle jackets and helmets do their level best to impede that as much as possible. A good fit was critical though, she once bought a helmet that was half a size too big and when she turned her head at speed on the bike, the wind would catch the helmet and swivel it around on her head enough to be quite dangerous.

It was finally getting dark and Rachel was very sweaty waiting in the tight-fitting thick clothing. She was so excited she nearly peed herself. She had done covert ops before, for the CIA, so she knew about the tension and adrenaline, but this was an op she was doing for herself. No one else was involved. It was irrational, stupid, unwise to say the least, but she was under compulsion and was eager to get started.

At the designated time she changed TV station, adjusted the radio, logged into Facebook on the computer and dialled a phone number. The other end was a dummy number, so she just left the phone on the couch with an open phone line and went into the little alcove that led to the bathroom on the right and laundry room on the left. There was an air return duct that she took the cover off, The next part she had practised several times to be able to do it quickly. She donned her motorcycle helmet which was annoying, but she wouldn’t be able to carry it. Rachel had to get herself into the air return duct and replace the cover from the inside, then climb up and exit the duct into the plenum space between two floors of her building, make her way to the elevator shaft then get to the roof. All in motorcycle gear with her helmet on.

By the time she got to the roof she was very sweaty but there was nothing she could do about it. Her helmet was pretty scratched from several bumps on the way. Her heart was pounding now, and she could feel the pulse in her neck and temples. She rested for a moment in a crouch on the roof behind some duct work.

Her next move was a Pole vault across the alley to the roof of the next building, and she suddenly realized that this wasn’t so much a plan, as a ridiculous dare she had made for herself for some reason that was eluding her at the moment. Seriously? Pole vault across an alley, 7 stories up in the air wearing motorcycle gear and helmet?

“What the hell was I thinking?”

There was the pole, where she had requested, lying along a gutter in the flat roof. And aligned with the pole was the route she would run before planting the pole in a drain hole she had blocked off. She also had to keep hold of the pole on the other side and make sure to not drop it.

She contemplated abandoning the mission and going downstairs to crawl into bed. That wouldn’t be so bad. She really liked the bed here.

Then she remembered the point of the exercise and without another moments hesitation she took up the pole, steadied it, aimed, then took off across the roof in a sprint. Pow, whoosh, thud and she was over, bringing the pole with her, holding it long enough so that it would not fall into the alley then dropping it so that she could roll on the other roof to absorb her momentum. Her helmet thumped on the ground and the leathers absorbed a lot of impact too. In retrospect there were pluses and minuses to doing the stunt in motorcycle gear.

She quickly stowed the pole and made her way to ground level on the fire escape. She made her way from shadow to cover to shadow until she got to the garage where she kept her motorcycle. Dilli D. That was what she called it: Dilli the “Double D,” Ducati, which made her laugh since it was the only thing she owned that was Double D. A Ducati 748 with as no black box, GPS, driver assist or Google maps capability. This was as bare bones a bike as could be made.

Everything had been building up to this part of her little escapade. As nervous as she had been to climb through ducts and Pole vault roofs it was the anticipation of riding her bike, a.k.a. Drusilla when she was feeling sophisticated, that was the most exciting. Her pulse was pounding in her head and she had a sheen of sweat under her clothes, but both would go away once she was on the bike and riding.

She gave the bike a cursory check but was too keyed up to do the whole procedure, got on and cranked it. She revved it a couple of times and began to relax immediately.

She lived and kept the bike strategically close to a highway interchange so it was just a matter of a minute before she was flying up the on-ramp and screaming towards the desert. By the time she was up to 140 mph she began to relax a little, weaving among the light traffic. She tore past a State Trooper who turned his blue lights on and gave chase until he evidently gave up because she couldn’t see blue lights any more. Shortly she passed the city limits and was out into the flat windy expanse of the salty desert. It was a clear bright night and the moon was big so she killed the lights with a special switch she had added, and dialled the bike back to 100 mph. This was relaxing, and she felt dry now too.

It didn’t take long to get to the interchange that led to Salt City. Not the main route that went via the old US Magnesium plant, but the secondary route that ran over Stansbury Island. This would put her in the back lot by the tradesman’s entrance where the next part of her plan would start.

By the time she pulled up next to a couple of beat up old sedans Rachel was relaxed and composed. She took off the helmet and shook out her hair, stowed the helmet and grabbed a small pouch from the bike. There was a couple of Porta-Jons at the lot and one of them contained a secret stash she had made for her disguise. There was no one around and she slipped into the Porta-Jon unobserved.

The person who emerged looked like a middle-aged employee of the Custodial Services Department. She had lank greasy hair, stained baggy clothes that hung from her skinny body, a limp that spoke of a bad hip, and wore crooked glasses on a crooked nose. The nose had wide nostrils that told the story of hard partying, her eye watered from a permanent cigarette, and she spoke with a drawl that could flay a man at 20 paces. This was Hard Life Hannah, one of Rachel’s least favourite alter egos. Perfect, however, to infiltrate Salt City because they already knew her here and she had the documentation to back up he story. She waved amiably to the security guard who let her in without a second thought.

She joked around with the other custodians that were either coming or going, but rather than punch the clock she went to the bathroom and left via an air return duct in the wall. With great care and precision she made her way to the top of the fire escape at the library building and let herself in.

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