Bill followed Harold down the stairs while the ship gently rolled. The yacht began to make a slow turn to port. The teal waters dropped away, and the naval ship that had been racing in their direction now held a steady distance. The waters rose and fell gently at higher levels, and the breeze felt cool.
Harold stopped at the main deck. They found Frank preparing the dive deck for the craft’s arrival. Bill noticed a pistol stuck into the waistband in the small of his back.
“So, this is zone 2?”
Harold answered, “Welcome to the Atlantic. I’m sorry we didn’t have time to talk earlier. Captain Frank and I were busy getting things ready for Chuck’s arrival. Originally, he was supposed to come with us on the Kodiak. Once the Navy got involved, we went with their backup plan to move this to deeper waters.”
“I don’t understand. They have Chuck. Why didn’t the Navy take him to Cuba? It’s their base, after all.”
Frank stopped his work and turned to Bill. “This is still a CIA operation. Garcia has questions that he would like to ask without the prying eyes of the DOD.”
Bill’s eyes widened, “So, Maria was right about torture?”
Harold answered, “Don’t worry, bro. I wouldn’t let that happen on my ship. Personally, I’m not sure this scheme will work. I know Chuck, and he’s a pretty strong-willed guy.”
Bill walked over and sat on a nearby barstool. He propped his arm on the bar and began to drum his fingers for several seconds, and watched Frank get back to work.
“Do you know what the CIA wants? I mean, why go to all this trouble when you have the guy in custody?”
Frank muttered, “Classified.”
Harold interjected, “Relax, Frank. Bill, nothing’s changed. We still need to understand why Chuck has gone through all of this trouble. There could be more lives at stake other than our own.”
“Like we talked about with Alice?”
Bill continued, “But you don’t think Chuck will give up who’s directing him, or why?”
“Then why are you letting them use your yacht?”
Harold shrugged, “Maybe they can turn Chuck. I’ve been wrong before.”
The sound of a Kodiak caught Bill’s attention. Bill looked out towards the aft of the ship. Chuck stood up inside the bouncing craft, letting his legs absorb the shifting raft beneath him. Large handcuffs that appeared to be made from one piece of metal kept his wrists bound. Darla and Garcia sat with their submachine guns aimed at his back. A naval seaman navigated the craft, and another one sat at the bow facing the rest of the boat with a rifle pointed up in his hands.
Frank threw a rope to the seaman who quickly tied off the boat. Frank bounded up the stairs and put himself between Harold and the ladder. Darla stepped off next. She walked up the ladder and retrained her gun on Chuck. Chuck disembarked and stopped on the dive deck.
He looked up at Harold, “Permission to come aboard?”
Chuck responded, “Nice tub.”
There was a tense silence.
Chuck said, “Isn’t anyone going to help me up this ladder?”
Garcia left the Kodiak, and the craft departed. Garcia roughly pushed Chuck up the ladder.
Chuck looked towards Bill at the bar. “Hey, Billy. Come on over and join the party.”
Bill answered, “Thanks, I like the smell better over here.”
Chuck shrugged, “Suit yourself. Garcia’s had a hard day. He can’t help it if he sweats.”
Garcia grabbed Chuck’s arm, “Let’s go, funnyman. You can joke all you like in your cabin.”
Chuck looked over at Harold, “A cabin, just for me? You shouldn’t have. By the way, I like your style. I refurbished an old military vessel for my operation base. She isn’t nearly as beautiful on the outside, but she is all posh inside. We’ll see if your taste can measure up.”
Garcia yanked on Chuck’s arm, and Chuck stumbled. “Let’s go.”
Garcia gave Darla his gun, and she shouldered the weapon and fell in behind Chuck while Garcia led the way inside.
Bill turned to Harold, “I hope you know what you’re doing. Joshua is sure he’s a berserker, and I don’t think your ship can handle that kind of abuse.”
Harold waved him off, “Don’t worry. Garcia had a special room made just for Chuck in the hold of the ship.”
“How do you know it can hold him?”
“I tested it.”
Carol exited the interior, “What’s all the commotion?”
Bill answered, “Chuck’s onboard.”
Carol’s jawline drew tight, “What? I thought we left him behind for a reason.”
Harold sat down on the couch, and Carol walked over and sat next to Bill at the bar.
Bill asked, “Do you want a beer?”
“Definitely,” answered Carol.
“The good stuff is behind the bar in the fridge.” Offered Harold.
Bill went behind the bar and found the refrigerator underneath stocked with Olde Meck. He pulled up a bottle and pointed at Harold, but Harold shook his head no. Bill rejoined Carol after opening up her bottle.
Carol said, “So, somebody tried to kill Chuck, and you bring the guy on the yacht? You don’t think a lot for smart boys. Whoever is after Chuck will find this boat. It’s not like it’s hard to find a gleaming white yacht on the ocean.”
“First, she’s a ship.”
Carol interrupted, “She. Why are boats and cars always women with you men.”
Bill spoke up, “Because we love them.”
Carol rolled her eyes, “Ah, ain’t that sweet.” She turned to Harold, “Your girlfriend is gonna get blown up.”
Garcia and Darla reappeared.
Harold asked, “Is our guest happy with his accommodations?”
Darla answered, “Happy enough. He said it’s the first real bed he’s had to sleep on in weeks. I’m beginning to think we are going through a lot of trouble to turn somebody who’s already turned.
Garcia said, “We need to stay on our toes. This is still Chuck. He could be playing us as much as we’re playing him. I’m afraid Joshua and I will still need to have a heart to heart with Chuck to see if he’s had a true change of heart.”
Bill said, “The more you talk, the more this is sounding like torture.”
Garcia asked, “Who said anything about torture. Harold?”
Harold held up his hands, “Don’t look at me, I already told him that wasn’t happening on my ship.”
Darla looked Bill in the eyes as she spoke, “We would never torture Chuck. You can do a lot of things to someone mentally to break down their barriers. Some are pleasant, some aren’t. None of the techniques are meant to cause any permanent damage.”
Bill scowled, “That sounds like a polite way to say we’ll only torture him if he forces us.”
Garcia spoke up, “Were you ever afraid of the dark as a kid?”
Bill answered, “Sure, all kids are at some point.”
Garcia nodded, “Were you in any real danger?”
Bill said, “No.”
“That’s all we’re talking about here. We figure out Chuck’s fears and make him assume his fears are going to come true if he doesn’t cooperate.”
“What if he lies about his fears?”
Garcia said, “That’s why we have Joshua. Drugs can only work so well. Joshua can use hypnosis for diving deeper into his subconscious and finding out what Chuck is really after, and what he fears.”
Harold asked, “I thought hypnosis only worked on people who allowed themselves to be hypnotized.”
Darla responded, “The drugs will make Chuck more receptive to the idea.”
Carol asked, “Will I be able to speak to Chuck?”
Bill interjected, “Yea, I want a word with him too.”
Garcia said, “We’ll see. Now, I would like everyone to go get their swim trunks on. We are having a farewell party to Alice on the top deck in 30 minutes. Please, be on time.”
Bill looked at Harold and back at Garcia. “How can you be so cavalier? You didn’t even bother to tell us she died, just show up for a farewell party?”
Darla answered, “Bill, this is harder for us than you think. Please, let us deal with things our way.”
Harold asked, “What about Doc and Maria?”
Garcia answered, “I’ll let them know.”