Copyright© 2021 by Lumpy
When they finally tracked down Agent Cole and got him on the phone, the man sounded particularly annoyed to hear from them.
“We’re busy here, Agent Whitaker,” he said.
Taylor couldn’t help but notice how he usually addressed Whitaker first. It made sense. Even though she wasn’t in the Secret Service, she was still traditional Law Enforcement. Taylor was a wild card that people like Cole had trouble getting a handle on. He was fine with that, since keeping them off balance worked in his favor.
“We’ve identified your suspect,” Taylor said.
“We followed leads in the letter.”
Taylor’s tone made it clear he was saying ‘I told you so,’ since that was exactly what he said the Secret Service needed to do.
“Who is he?”
“Peter Hubbard,” Whitaker said. “Former Special Forces and EOD, kicked out of the military on a psych discharge. We believe he’s schizophrenic from people we’ve talked to, but we’re waiting to get records on him now. He’s bought into the beliefs of an ancient Christian sect from the first century, and thinks that Senator Caldwell is some kind of religious antichrist figure and he’s the only person who can stop her.”
“We’ll get his picture out, now. If he’s that crazy, it won’t be that hard to find him.”
“Cole, he’s...” Taylor started but stopped when Whitaker gripped his forearm, silencing him.
“We saw him today,” Whitaker said instead.
“You saw him? Why is he not in custody?”
“He was ready, set up a pipe bomb,” Taylor said.
“So you let him get away? We’ll get men headed that way now. Where are you?”
Taylor knew that Cole was just taking a cheap shot, probably in response to Taylor’s ‘I told you so.’
“Rochester, New York. He was here to talk to a professor he knew when he studied theology before joining the service in two-thousand one. We’ve already interviewed her, and she doesn’t know where he lives. I think he was only here to talk to her, since she was the one who originally introduced him to the Christian sect that he believes in. I don’t think he’ll stick around here.”
“We’ll still need to interview her as well. I’ll have agents there in a few hours.”
“We might not be here,” Taylor warned. “I think he’s going to head back to Washington, since that’s where Caldwell is.”
“You do what you need to do; we’re still going to send agents up there. Have you bothered to put out a BOLO on him and get him boxed in?”
“Yes,” Whitaker said, ignoring the implied insult. “Both local and highway patrol are on the lookout for him. We don’t know what he was driving and he has nothing registered in his name. He has no known current address and hasn’t filed for either taxes or unemployment since he left the military. He’s completely off the grid.”
“No one is completely off the grid, Agent Whitaker. Good job finding out who he is, we’ll take it from here.”
With that, Cole disconnected the line.
“We’ll take it from here? He didn’t want us going this far, and if we’d listened to him, we still wouldn’t know who Hubbard was.”
“They’re just territorial,” Whitaker said.
“All of you are. It’s one of the biggest things that keep all of you from being as effective as you could be. Each agency has its own specialty; they don’t need anyone else with a different specialty.”
“Either way, that’s what we have to deal with, so what’s next?”
“I think we should head back to D.C., Caldwell is his target, so ultimately he’s going to be wherever she is. I’m positive the only reason he was here was to talk to Professor Wood. We won’t know till we start backtracking his life, but I’m betting she’s one of the few people he talks to about his delusion, since she was there at the beginning. He won’t stay here though. He’s going to go back to Washington, and we need to be where he is.”
“You don’t think we’re going to get him in between here and there?”
“No. Guys who get picked up like that make mistakes. Hubbard hasn’t made any yet. Besides, the Secret Service is going to have people here in a few hours. We don’t need to duplicate what they’re doing; we need to do what they aren’t doing. Let them do the legwork here.”
They were both startled when the conference room door opened and a small dark-haired woman stuck her head inside the room.
“Agent Taylor?” she asked.
“You have a phone call on line three,” She said before stepping back into the hall, closing the door behind her.
Taylor looked at Whitaker, confused. Nearly all of the calls he received were on his cell phone, and other than the Secret Service and the FBI agents Whitaker had requested out of Buffalo, he couldn’t think of anyone who knew they working out of the Rochester federal building. The Secret Service wasn’t likely calling him back and the FBI would have called looking for Whitaker, not Taylor.
Picking up the phone Taylor said, “This is Taylor.”
“Hello, John. I was impressed that you managed to get out of the way of my diversion. You’ve got pretty good reflexes.”
Taylor snapped at Whitaker, pointing at the phone, mouthing ‘it’s him.’
As Whitaker pulled out her cell phone, Taylor said, “I try to keep sharp. How’d you manage to track me down?”
“It wasn’t hard. You’re not based out of Rochester and would have needed somewhere to work out of, hoping to catch me. This was the most logical first option for me to check.”
“Impressive, although I’m a little surprised that you know who I am, let alone where I work out of.”
“You’re her warrior, John, how could I not know who you are. We were always warned that she would work through servants. While the beast has many who serve her, most of them are lackeys, playing at being important. I recognized you for what you were, however. You might have given speeches for her, but that wasn’t who you are. You and I aren’t all that different, aside from serving different masters.”
“Who do you serve, Peter?”
“God, of course, and the Archangel Michael. He has shown me the truth and tasked me to be the latest to stop her machinations. I am Agamemnon, leading armies to stop Helen at the walls of Troy. I am John Fitzalan on the fields of Compiegne, putting Joan of Arc in irons. I am Suetonius Paulinus ending the rampage of Boudica.”
“Why do you think Senator Caldwell’s this person you’re fighting?”
“I don’t think she is,” Hubbard said, his voice finally breaking from its calm cadence into anger. “I know she is. I’ve watched for the signs. I will stop her before she is in place to break the final seal.”
Taylor had clearly hit a nerve, although he wasn’t clear on what all the insane ramblings actually meant.
“You could come in and talk to me. You’re right, we aren’t that different. I joined the 10th right before you got out. I’ve been to a lot of the same places as you. The army kicked me out on a section eight too. I promise I’ll hear you out and do right by you. Come in and talk to me.”
Hubbard laughed. It was a strange, cackling laugh that sent shivers down Taylors back.
“I appreciate the offer, but I don’t think so. To serve the beast is to sell your soul. You may have been like me once, but we chose different paths. While I was recruited by Michael, you took your silver. There is no coming back from that degradation.”
Whitaker waved at Taylor to get his attention. Once he made eye contact with her, she made a ‘keep going’ gesture with her hand, pointed at her phone, and then held up two fingers. Taylor gave her a nod. If he kept Hubbard on the phone long enough they might be able to work out where Hubbard was. While it would have meant that Taylor was wrong when he predicted Hubbard wouldn’t hang around, he’d accept that if it meant catching the man.
Whitaker had been working on both her and his cell phones while he talked to Hubbard. Whitakers FBI agents were already in town and Taylor assumed she’d already alerted them to be ready to move as soon as they had his location.
“If you don’t want to come in and talk to me, why did you track me down?”
“I wanted to get a sense of you. While everyone else runs around like ants, you found me. I’ll be honest; I was surprised when I saw you walk through the door. I do hope you don’t hold my actions against Professor Wood. She’s a good woman, but she’s not part of this fight. She deserves to live her life, but I can’t allow her to remain in captivity. Better to be dead than in the beast’s chains. You may serve the beast, but that doesn’t mean you’re without honor. If you promise me she will be spared my actions, I’ll believe you.”
“I promise nothing will happen to the professor,” Taylor said, scribbling a note down for Whitaker to have someone placed on the professor. “Why’d you come see her then?”
“The Word isn’t always easy to understand. I’d hoped she’d be able to help me interpret some of the visions God has given me, but you interrupted before that happened. Honestly, I’m impressed you managed to get that close. Had you been a little faster, you might have the victory the beast has wanted. I won’t underestimate you again, now that I know you’re in the fight.”
“Hubbard, you don’t need to kill anyone else. You need to stop, now.”
“I haven’t killed anyone. The beast’s minions aren’t people, John. I know you look like people and you even probably think you are, but you’re not. Not really. Of course, if I have to kill a real person to get to the beast, I will. God will recognize their sacrifice and lift them into heaven. I have to go now John, before you can get your minions here to find me. I think we will be seeing each other again, though.”
“Wait. Hubbard...” Taylor said, but the line clicked off. “That guy is bat-shit crazy.”
“Is he going after Professor Wood?” Whitaker asked, her cell phone still to her ear.
“He made a threat against her. Apparently, he likes her, which means if she’s in custody he has to kill her for her own good.”
“The locals said they’d put a car outside her office and home, but I don’t think she’s in trouble. We have a trace on Hubbard, and people are on their way there now, but it’s a ways out. He’s at a rest stop an hour south of here.”
“Headed back to D.C.?”
“That direction, yeah.”
“We won’t get him. He’ll have been back on the road the minute he hung up on me. By the time you get someone there, he’ll be miles away.”
“Yeah, I assumed; but it’s a major gas station, so I’m hoping they have video of the parking lot. If we can get him on security footage we might see his car. Even if we don’t get the license plate, knowing what he’s driving will help find him.”