FLASH FICTION FRIDAY
EXCERPT FROM THE JANUS JOURNALS
If you are reading this note, I must be dead. I am so sorry that events from my distant past have brought this trouble to you. I fear that I have endangered you, Allie. You must trust no one except the Jamison family. There are one or more deep-cover agents, either in the DOD, the FBI, or both. Do not seek help from anyone associated with either group, except Tom Jamison.
I know you have many questions, but you will understand more fully when you read my journals. After you read them, I pray you will forgive me. I will always love you, Allie, and I hope to see you again one day.
Hope to see you again? He's dead. Papa's talking like a religious person, like someone who believes the myth about a resurrection and an afterlife.
Do not go home, to the police, or to anyone else. Go to the Jamisons. When you are in a safe place, read everything here, especially the journals.
I love you, my beautiful Allie.
Disturbing thoughts assaulted her. Papa had changed, and Alisa Petrenko did not like changes. He had defected to another worldview, a delusion-driven worldview Allie could never accept.
Her tears flowed freely as she rummaged through the contents of the box. US savings bonds and the journals. What other surprises lurked among their pages?
Allie opened the topmost journal, then closed it. Papa had said go straight to the Jamisons. He knew they were moving to the Pacific Northwest. If there really was danger to her, she should go now. But with only the clothes on her back? No. She needed to make a quick stop at home to pack some clothes and other necessities.
When she pulled the last journal from the box, a color photograph lay underneath it.
Mama. So frail looking, but still so beautiful. The picture must have been taken shortly before she died, when Allie was five, the year Allie’s phobia began.
Mama, you would be proud of Papa. He tried so hard to be both—
A tear splattered on the photo. Allie opened the cover of one of the journals and slid the picture inside.
Allie left the bank and drove west, headed toward home. But it was already half past nine o’clock. The Jamisons might have left town. She needed to call Grady Jamison, now.
A block ahead, on her right, a tall supermarket sign towered over shorter signs.
Allie turned in and stopped in a parking space near the street. She pulled Grady's card from her pocket, keyed his number into her cell, and pushed the call icon.
What should she say to explain her situation to Grady? Whatever she said would sound insane.
The phone rang once, twice … after three rings it went to voice mail. She hung up.
What if all the Jamisons had left? Allie would try to call again, but first, she needed to drive home and pack.
* * *
Grady Jamison stopped his mother's RAV4 beside a pump at an Exxon station along the Jefferson Davis Highway. After he gassed up the little SUV, it would be goodbye Alexandria and hello Chelan, Washington. Well, after four days of driving he could say hello to Chelan.
He had only one regret about leaving. Grady would have really liked to know Alisa better.
For Boston, the BC fight song, sounded above the noise of the traffic and the gas pump. Grady pulled his cell from the phone pocket of his cargo shorts. Had Mom or Dad forgotten something?
His cell said half past nine. It couldn’t be his parents. They were already in the air. Grady answered the call.
The person on the other end panted as if trying to catch their breath. “Is this Grady?”
“Yeah.” The voice sounded like … “Alisa?”
“Yes. I'm sorry for bothering you. I know you're leaving today for Washington State, but I have … I mean … Grady, I called because this is an emergency. A serious one.” Her voice sounded like she was on the verge of crying.
“It's okay, Alisa. Is there something I can do to help?” He hoped so.
“Yes. Grady … my father was murdered this morning.”
Ed Petrenko murdered? When Grady tried to wrap his mind around that, an accusing finger pointed at another killer, Grady Jamison. He couldn’t let his mind go there. Not now. Alisa needed him. “Oh, man. Alisa … I'm so sorry. I—where are you? Are you okay? What can I—”
“Listen for a moment. Please. Then you can tell me what you think. This is going to sound crazy.”
The tension in Alisa’s voice would have grabbed his attention even without the news of her father's murder. “I don't think you're crazy and I'm listening.”
“After our dinner last night, when we got home, Papa gave me a key to a safe deposit box. He said if anything ever happened to him, I should get the contents of the box and read it. And I must trust no one but your family and … to contact you because whoever killed him might be coming after me.”
It didn’t all compute. Regardless, this was beyond a mere emergency, and her safety was paramount. “Alisa, the police—”
“No. We can’t go to them. There are deep-cover plants—I think they call them sleepers in the movies—in the FBI, DOD, and Papa wasn't sure where else. Look, I don't understand what's going on yet, but my father is dead, and I might be next. I have nowhere else to turn but to—” Her voice broke.
The FBI? DOD? Espionage was a constant concern for Grady’s dad who worked at the Pentagon. “Listen, Alisa. If someone might be after you, somebody associated with a foreign government or involved in espionage, we have to be very careful.”
Grady's brain had shifted into high gear. The opponent’s offense was attacking in the red zone. At strong safety, he was the last line of defense. And no spy, or foreign agent, or wide receiver with 4.2 speed was going to burn him.
Grady dropped the football analogy. The stakes here were much higher than an NCAA Division I football game. Alisa's life was on the line and possibly his. “We need to meet without anyone knowing you're with me. If someone is tailing you, I've got an idea about how we can lose them. So, Alisa, are you up for this?”
ABOUT THE JANUS JOURNALS
For recent college graduate, Alisa (Allie) Petrenko, the Cold War never ended, and events set in m
otion years ago have endangered her. Will probing the past, through her father’s secret journals, save her future?
The dual timeline will take you on an epic journey through the twilight years of the Cold War that reshaped one man’s destiny while creating deadly tentacles, reaching into the present, threatening an innocent young woman.
ABOUT H. L. WEGLEY
H. L. Wegley served as an Air Force Intelligence Analyst and a Weather Officer. In civilian life, he worked as a research scientist at a national lab, publishing in the scientific literature, then developed Boeing computing systems for twenty years before he and his wife retired near Seattle where they enjoy grandchildren, the rugged coast in the Olympic National Park, and where he crafts his stories. He is an award-winning author of inspirational thrillers and high-action, romantic-suspense novels.
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