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"Hello!" He said as he sat on the side of the bed. "Yes, that's me," he explained to the unknown voice on the other end. After listening for a few minutes, he gazed out the window as he said, "Thanks, Clarence for letting me know, I didn't recognize your voice at first. I'll call you back as soon as I can get a flight plan and let you know when to expect me."
He hung up and stared outside as the rain pelted the side of his house. It had been raining for the four days he had been back in Key West and he was getting tired of sitting around doing nothing. It had been exactly one month since he had left his friends in New York. Now one of them was missing and he was going to have to make a lot of phone calls to find the others and explain what he needed from them. Of course none of them were obligated to come at his bidding, but he knew that most of them would respond. He couldn't believe what had happened to one of his favorite lady friends. He prayed that wherever she was she was safe from harm and he would locate her soon. Maybe it was just a misunderstood communication and the person who took the call had got the message wrong. He would wait until it was dawn before he started calling since three a.m. was way too early to wake people up. He hoped Clarence would be able to give him some more answers when he got back to D.C.
"Yeah, glad to see you too, Clarence. Wish it was a happier reunion. What have you found out so far?"
"Nyki and Michele were due to arrive in Colorado yesterday for the concert with Reddog. When he went to the airport to pick them up Michele was standing at the baggage section crying. She told Jeff that Nyki had called her two hours before their plane was to depart and said something had delayed her so she would catch the next flight out. When that plane landed she wasn't on it. The manifest had her name on it, but nobody showed up to claim the seat. The airline presumed she was a no show and left without her. Jeff called the Pittsburgh police department and reported her missing after trying to reach her by cell phone. They sent a car to her house and found the place ransacked and lots of destruction. While searching her bedroom they found my card on the table next to the phone so they called me. After that I called you."
"Thanks for doing that! I wonder if her family knows anything."
"Her sister told the police that she talked with her at three o' clock yesterday and she seemed fine and couldn't wait to get to Colorado for the show."
"Hmm! Yeah last week she told me it would be great to see everyone again. She even said that Mel was flying over for the show and had lots of new things to tell her about her new job."
"Mel, God I miss her, she should be working for me and not running around London creating havoc as the newest Chef extraordinaire." They both laughed thinking of Mel cooking full time; she had really gotten a great position at the number one tourist hotel, The Grand Carousel. She was even writing musical numbers to go along with her one of a kind meal.
After a moment Dr. Bluesman turned serious again, "Any ideas about what might have happened at Nyki's house?"
"None! The police asked all the neighbors and the couple across the street said they saw her as she ran by doing her early morning run. She looked the same as always."
"I wonder if someone followed her back to her house and this was just an ordinary robbery gone wrong."
"If that was the case how was she able to call Michele and tell her she was just running late?"
"You're right if someone was just robbing her that wouldn't have happened it must be a person or persons trying to keep her from attending this concert. What was the reason for the concert?"
"It was dedicated too helping the newly returning soldiers find jobs after their discharge from the military. Pretty up and up organization, I don't see them as causing any problems."
"No, but there are some of these fanatic groups out there, who say the returning military are getting the best jobs and with unemployment at the highest level in years maybe they are trying to upset the employment cart."
"Hey you may have something with that. You remember my friend Catherine? She called me and told me that she was looking into a bunch of terror threats down in Charleston aimed at the returning navy men and women. Someone even threw a firebomb at one of the guys as he was walking down the street. The papers are playing it down, however I talked to a friend of mine down there and he said there was more to the story and it was being kept quiet because of that congressman who is ranting about our military taking the jobs away from the locals."
"I remember reading something about that. He is a real left-winger with possible ties with some of the groups who want to abolish the laws of unity and quit our nation."
"Yeah, he definitely is in favor of withdrawing from the union. Wants to start his nation of states and get rid of the presidency and congress. Maybe I should talk to Catherine and see if she knows of any of these characters in the Pennsylvania area?"
"She will be in my office tomorrow with an update about some work she is doing for me so why don't I have her meet with you!" That said, they climbed into the Captain's car and he drove Dr. Bluesman to his own office just off the White House loop. As Dr. Bluesman looked out on the frost covered streets he thought about Nyki and prayed she was unharmed....
"Good, you are awake!" I hope you have rested some and I apologize for the way my people treated you earlier. He was about six feet tall and looked to be in his early forties with brown hair and matching beard.
Nyki stared at him for a couple of minutes and then said: "You look familiar have we met?"
He smiled, "Not officially, my name is Thomas Willoughby, congressman of the great state of South Carolina at your service. I had you brought here for several reasons. Most of them will remain secret for the time being. I will tell you that I plan to use you too help convince some friends of yours to provide me with some material to help my people take over this country."
Nyki looked dumbfounded as she spoke to him, "What do you mean take over this country? Who the hell are you to be talking this way? Are you some kind of lunatic?"
"Ha! Ha! You sure are pretty when you get angry. No, I'm not a lunatic. I mean to stop this country from ruining itself by preventing the idiots in Washington from giving all of our assets away. I'm sick of all these other countries getting our money and food while people, citizens, right here in this country need help."
"Well how are my friends going to help you?"
"They are going to do a concert for my causes and start an awareness program to get people united in fighting for their own rights. We are tired of others taking our jobs and monies and exploiting us with their substandard products." He turned and left the room without further comment and just when Nyki thought she was alone a woman appeared at the door and told her to stand up. She got to her feet and stood quietly while the woman and two others came into the room and shut the door. The first woman, who must have been at least in her sixties told the two younger women to strip Nyki's clothes off and tie her hands behind her back. As they advanced to do her bidding Nyki yelled out and kicked her left foot out in a front snap kick knocking the smaller woman down. Before she could turn her attention to the other one an awful pain hit her in the chest. Moments later she came too lying on the floor with only her panties and bra to wear. A bright red area on her chest was slowly receding.
She had been tasered by the older woman, who stood above her smiling. "I should have known you were trained in karate after reading that you were a friend of that Dr. Bluesman. I guess we will have to be more careful next time. Take her out to the boat and tie her to the bunk in the lower berth." The two women grabbed her and locked her arms behind her back with handcuffs. They half carried and dragged her out of the room and through a sliding glass door to a yard. She looked down the hill and saw a huge boat moored to a steel dock about fifty feet from her. She was pushed and dragged towards it while some men in uniform whistled and yelled obscene remarks at her. Where in God's earth was she? She wondered as she tripped along between the two women....
He laughed and held her at arms length. "You haven't changed at all. When did you get to town?"
"This morning as soon as Clarence called me and told me about your friend Nyki, I think she might have been kidnapped by the group I've been investigating."
"Why do you say that?"
"Two of the members were followed to Pennsylvania by my partners and seen boarding a private jet last evening with a young woman being carried between them. She looked like she was drunk, but I bet she had been sedated with some drugs."
"Do you think they will bodily harm her?"
"Not unless she causes a scene or refuses to obey them. These people don't want any problems with the authorities at this time."
"Who are they? What do they want?"
"They are part of an extremist group, who want to take over this country's leadership and stop all foreign aid too our allies. Their leader is a congressman from South Carolina, who has quite a following around the country. His main wish is to become the leader of our nation. Not the President, but the Ruler."
"Oh great another nutcase, I thought I got rid of the last of those when we captured that crazy Winterspoon. No rest for the weary!"
"Yeah well that isn't all he's doing. He has started some kind of crazy commune off the coast of Mexico and he is holding people against their will; mostly women a few men. I think he is trying to start a super race of warriors and plans to use them to attack our government interests in other countries."
"Sounds like some kind of far out sci-fi story."
"I know, but it is for real I've been there. The women are run by his older sister, a former physician before she lost her license for using experimental drugs on children."
"What do these drugs do?"
"They speed up the hormones so rapidly it will cause the patients to mature earlier and make them capable of conceiving a child at an earlier age." "And she is using this on the women with their permission?"
"No, she is forcing the drugs on them through deception. She adds it to their food and water without them knowing. They are having a lot of children on this island and I believe the women are kidnap victims. This program has been going on for over ten years."
"Ten years?" How could they get away with taking people for that long without being caught?"
"Well, I've been undercover with these people for five years and it is being done right under the noses of local government and police personnel. Most of the people are being kept on a drug to keep them half stoned so they act like they are happy all the time."
"Can we bring in a group of Marines or Special Forces and take over this island?"
"Not unless you want an international incident."
"What do you think we should do?"
"I'm going back there in the morning and I'll try to see where they are keeping Nyki and why they took her. They usually don't kidnap people her age and especially not from their homes. Most of their women are taken from vacation areas in the islands while they are relaxed and don't expect trouble."
"Okay, keep me informed and if you think of some way to get her out let me know." Catherine got up hugged her good friend and left him contemplating Nyki's fate ...
"Are you awake lady?" She rolled over and squinted her eyes open trying to make out the face of the person. She knew it was a male as he reached down and touched her shoulder with rough hands. "Come on I don't have much time, here's some water for you and a little food. If I get caught in here we'll both be punished."
"Who are you and where are we?"
"I'm nobody and you are on an island about one hundred miles off the coast of Mexico. You were brought here by boat last evening and from the looks of you they were pretty rough with their care. I over heard one of them saying that you were worth a lot of money to the congressman." "I don't have any money! I'm a musician in a band and was suppose to play a charity show in Denver, Colorado last night. Two men took me from my house yesterday and drugged me. Yes I did get roughed up after I kicked one of those women who brought me here."
"Ha! Ha! Serves her right! They are quite vicious around here and think they can run roughshod on all of the captives."
"Captives? You mean there are more people here being held against their will?"
"Oh Yeah, there are over two hundred women and about fifty men here that were abducted over the past ten years. Most of them have given up on being rescued."
"What about you?"
"Me? I live on this island; have for the past twenty years. I'm a fisherman. They leave me alone most of the time, but I have had some run-ins with them lately so maybe it is time for me to get out of here."
"Take me with you, I have friends who will pay you and give you anything you want."
"Can't do that, they would shoot us before we got fifty feet from here. Look I'll try to sneak in here tomorrow night and get you some more food. Eat that sandwich and drink the water so I can go."
Nyki did what he wanted; wolfing down the food and used the water to wash her mouth and eyes out. When she was done he took the bottle with him and left her alone. She laid there thinking about all he had told her and wondered why a congressman would be kidnapping women and men and also why she was being treated so harsh after he had told her she wouldn't be harmed. Maybe the women had hurt her for spite. She wished her friends were with her and wondered what they were doing. Surely someone had gone to her house by now and seen the mess those two ruffians had caused. Just before they had left she had dropped Commander Blake's card beside her bed. Oh God, she prayed please help me to get out of here.....
Excerpted from A FRIEND GOES MISSING by Mike Houston Copyright © 2009 by Mike Houston. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted March 1, 2010
When his friend and fellow musician, Nyki, is kidnapped, Dr. Mike Bluesman soon discovers that Thomas Willoughby, a U.S. congressman from South Carolina, intends to use her abduction as a means to entice him and his band to perform a series of concerts. The purpose of the coerced entertainment? To serve as a recruiting measure for Willoughby to solicit support for his ultimate goal: launching a civil war within the U.S. in order to overthrow the existing power structure. Little does Willoughby know, though, neither Bluesman nor his band mates plan to go along with the sinister plot without a fight, and - joined by no less than the U.S. Navy - the unsuspecting hero soon pulls out all the stops in order to save his friend and prevent the crazed congressman from getting his ultimate wish...
Rife with action and intrigue, A Friend Goes Missing is an entertaining read. In the solid follow up to his debut effort, A.O.G's Are Here, author Mike Houston intermingles a rich cast of characters with a compelling central plotline to create an engaging tale that doesn't have to work too hard to captivate even the most tepid of imaginations. In the modern era of pervasive anti-government rhetoric, the more jaded readers will no doubt sympathize with the passion behind Willoughby's madness - even if they ultimately disagree with the methods that he uses to express it. As such, through his impassioned (though somewhat misguided) ultra-patriot, Houston successfully injects his tale with enough political moxie to lend it a particularly populist appeal.
A page-turning pleaser from beginning to end, A Friend Goes Missing will no doubt have readers looking forward to future installments in the ongoing serial exploits of Dr. Mike Bluesman.