RESTLESS : The Hunt For Peace Episode 279



** Orien, Bethanna

07:20 AM

“Hold on, Sarah, don’t go…” Henry whispered under his breath. “Sarah, Sarah…”

He gasped noisily as his eyes popped open. He found himself sweating in the bed, even with the air conditioner on. He rolled away the blanket, closed his eyes, and took in a deep breath.

In his dream, he had seen Sarah, who had come to tell him that Kellar was gone forever. He was asking her why they’ll never see Kellar again when Sarah’s body began to evaporate right before his eyes. He rushed to her but couldn’t do anything as his hands only caught thin air when he tried to grasp her. He raised his eyes to watch where her body was going and saw Kellar in the sky with other faces. Cole, Hannah, Jennifer, Maxwell, Paul Edwards, and Steve were staring down at him.

He woke up with mixed feelings, heavy with anxiety, guilt, and determination. So many people had been lost in the war. Hutton Ryker escaping alive would mean that the war never ended and there were possibilities for the battles to continue in the future.

It took him a while before he realized that Rex who had slept beside him in the bed was no longer there. He got up and walked into the bathroom first, to wash his mouth and face, before stepping out to the living room in the hotel suite. Coincidentally, Rex entered through the main door at the same time.

“Hey, did you sleep at all?” Henry questioned on seeing Rex. He was holding a rolled sheet with him.

“Yeah, I couldn’t sleep much. I got up by 5 and began to wonder where Hutton Ryker could have escaped to. I concluded that he must still be in this town,” Rex replied as he dropped the rolled sheet on the sofa and began to move the center glass table.

They had lodged into that hotel by 2 AM during the night, after hours of driving around separately in search of Hutton Ryker. They got no clue where Hutton had gone and even the FOX saw no signs of him.

“What made you conclude that he’s still in this town?” Henry questioned as he walked to pick up the sheet on the sofa.

“There was no way he would have gone out of town,” Rex replied. “He was traveling solo and we had the FOX watching him every possible way. Maria also ensured that several FOX officers were watching through the CCTV.”

“What’s this?” Henry asked as he rolled open the sheet to see a map.

“That’s the map of the Orien area. I asked Maria to send it and I had to look for somewhere to print it. The day is still young, so it took a while to find somewhere,” Rex explained as he took the map from the guy and spread it on the ground from where he moved the center table.

Henry also joined him on the ground. “Why didn’t you wake me when you were leaving?”

“Wake you?” Rex took in a deep breath and then stared at his friend’s face. “You need a lot of rest, man. You lost your family within the last three days and have barely slept since then. It may take you some time to be able to function maximally and I’m not forcing you to do anything,” Rex paused and placed a hand on Henry’s shoulder. “So, you should get as much rest as you can. I’ll make sure I handle this and we find Hutton Ryker.”

“I wish I could rest well,” Henry gasped. “There’s no time I close my eyes and I don’t see everyone that has died in my team, not just Sarah and Kellar only. Doesn’t look like I’m going to be able to rest well until we’re done with everything.”

“At least, you get to close your eyes. While I’ll love both your body and mind to rest, I’m okay with your body alone resting than none of them. You’re still gonna be able to hold and sh00t a gun,” Rex chuckled.

Henry took in a deep breath and stayed for some seconds without saying anything. He exhaled and then shook his head. “I think we should start looking at this now,” he said, referring to the map. “We can’t afford to let Hutton get away.”

For more than ten minutes, they both analyzed the map in silence.

“Good morning,” Florence greeted as she walked into the living room. “Where the f**k are we heading to this morning?”

Henry and Rex paused to look at her. She had taken her bath and looked ready to go out.

“We’re studying the area right now,” Rex answered her. “We need to narrow down where to search for him.”

She moved closer to them and kneeled on one side of the map. “You two seem to know Hutton Ryker more than I do and you were all in the FOX together, so you should be able to tell where he would go at such a time as this.”

“Hutton Ryker has been declared wanted. His pictures have circulated the nation and beyond. He’s gonna be staying somewhere very few people or security agents can see him. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of such places in Orien,” Rex explained.

“We need to look at it differently,” Henry put in. “Maybe change our focus.”

“Change our focus to?” Rex questioned.

“Instead of looking for where he could be hiding, we should be looking at how he’s gonna plan to escape,” Henry explained. “If we can correctly predict his escape plan, it could lead us to where he’s hiding or help us get him to the point of escape. And we gotta do that quickly now that we still got the FOX with us.”

“You’re right,” Rex shook his head in agreement. He was about to say something else when Florence’s phone began to ring.

She took it out immediately and looked at the screen. “Xavier is calling. I asked him to get something for us to eat,” she said to them before answering the call.

“Hope what he’s getting is something we can eat while working,” Rex enquired.

She nodded in affirmation while she spoke with Xavier. After a minute, she ended the call and returned it to her pocket. “He says there’s a heavier presence of policemen on the streets right now.”

“When did he step out?” Rex questioned, remembering he had not seen Xavier that morning.

“About twenty minutes ago,” Florence replied.

“Okay, that’s just before I returned.”

“Did you notice the police presence too?” Henry asked Rex.

“No, I went out before the sun was out. Naturally, only a few security personnel would be patrolling at that time since there were fewer people on the roads,” Rex replied. “However, the security presence is going to drop soon, as long as they don’t find any threat,” he paused and looked at the wall clock. “By 12 PM, things may have returned to normal.”

“And then, it would be easy for Hutton Ryker to get out if he hasn’t yet,” Florence put in. “I’m sure he’s gonna wait till the roads are clearer and then have a free passage. There are so many routes he could take out of the town and we can’t cover everything without the FOX.”

Rex sighed and looked at Henry’s face. “That’s why we need to find where he’s hiding right now before he has enough time to escape.”

“We don’t know which car he took, what direction he went, or who he spoke to,” Henry scoffed. “Here on this map, there are over 100 places he could have gone to. There’s no way we can search for Hutton in 100 places before 12.”

Rex heaved a sigh of frustration. He shifted close to one of the sofas to rest his back against it.

“We’ll miss this if we let it go beyond 12, we don’t have a choice but to find where the heck he’s hiding, whether there are a hundred possibilities or more,” Florence countered. “There is no way we’re going to find out how he plans to escape, but even if we do, he’s got more than 100 routes to take out of Orien. This sounds f**king harder than searching for where he’s hiding.”

“How are you gonna search for him with just the three of us? Or four with Xavier? How’s 4 of us gonna cover more than a hundred possible hideouts? It’s a crazy plan to share with the FOX. No security agency will join us to raid people’s establishments and buildings without any valid proof of threat,” Henry fired back at Florence.

“This is impossible, man,” Florence scoffed. “We could probably just let him go.”

“Carl,” Rex stared at his friend. “Do you have a plan for deciding how he’s escaping?”

“No,” Carl shook his head. “But we can force him to come up with a plan that won’t be too hard for us to guess.”

“What are you saying?” Florence huffed.

Henry turned to stare at her. “As you said, it’s gonna be difficult to guess what his plans are, especially once the roads are free after 12 PM. So, we gotta put him in a tight spot and give him fewer options than he has now…”

“You’re still sounding ambiguous, Carl,” Rex complained.

“Yeah, because I’m still thinking about it,” Henry took in a deep breath and crossed his legs to sit upright. He placed both hands on each other and squinted blankly at the wall for a moment.

“Looks like none of this is gonna work,” Florence scoffed and got up.

“Florence…” Henry called her.

She stopped just before the hallway and turned to stare at him.

“I’ve got an idea.”


11:35 AM

** Somewhere in Orien

Hutton got up from the mattress on which he laid as he heard the knock at the door. He kept the phone in his pocket and walked to the door slowly, trying not to make any noise.

The knock came again but was followed up by a voice. Hutton recognized the owner of the voice. He wasted no time in opening the door.

“You should have just spoken,” Hutton said as he opened the door for the guy to step in. He peeped outside to see if anyone was looking before he closed it. “I thought it was one of your guys that were here.”

He was in the boss’ resting room of a farm building. It was a small one, with a standing fan in the left corner and a small refrigerator in the right corner.

The guy who got into the room handed a new android phone to Hutton. “It’s charged already and has never been used. The sim card in it is not registered in a real person’s name.”

“Thank you, Grayson,” Hutton replied. “How’s the situation with traffic now?”

“Well, I don’t understand,” Grayson replied. “I heard that the FOX officials began to leave the checkpoints at some point, but they’re back now…”

“Back now?” Hutton squinted at him in shock. “What do you mean by they’re back now?”

“That’s what it means, man. There are still FOX officials manning the roads,” Grayson reiterated. “We’ve got your car and everything else you asked for. You can start to get dressed if you’re ready.”

“Get dressed?” Hutton huffed. “I have to wait until everywhere is clear to go.”

“No problem, then. There’s no need to hurry,” Grayson replied. He opened his hand to demand the phone and Hutton handed it to him. He opened the call dialer and typed in a number. “You can reach me if you need anything. I’ve also saved Wyatt’s number there.”

“Thank you,” Hutton replied as he collected the phone.


01:30 PM

“We have a total of fifty-one locations now,” Rex got up from the floor with an A4 paper and walked to Henry where he was sitting with a laptop. He handed the paper to Henry. “I’ve also included the distance of each location to the nearest Orien exit.”

“Can’t you narrow it down further?” Henry questioned, taking a look at the list of fifty-one locations Rex had written on the paper from the map.

“That’s the farthest I can go,” Rex sighed. “If I take out some more names, we might lose accuracy.”

“It’s cool then,” Henry put the A4 paper under the laptop and continued with the footage he was watching.

“Have you seen anything yet from the footage?” Rex asked Henry, also looking into the laptop screen.

“Not yet, they’ve picked out more than 100 likely vehicles with no solid proof that Hutton Ryker was in any.”

Florence scoffed from where she was sitting and listening to them. “Am I the only one who thinks we’re wasting our time by waiting? How long do we think it’s going to take Hutton Ryker to make a move? Now that we’ve got the FOX to stay longer, we should strike immediately. And maybe use the FOX to search these 51 locations that Rex has listed.”

“No, Florence,” Henry answered her. “Once we start searching, he’s going to find out somehow and it could make things more difficult for us. The only way searching would work is if we’re able to narrow the locations down to 3 to 5 places. We had more than a hundred locations and the best we can narrow it down to is fifty-one.”

“If we can’t narrow it down beyond fifty-one, what’s the essence of getting the FOX to stay? How is it going to make you find his escape plan?” Florence questioned.

“As I said before, we’ve got to give him fewer options to work with. Before now, he had several ways to escape and we couldn’t predict what he’ll do. Right now, we’ve reduced his possible ways of escaping and put him in a tight corner where he can only choose one or two ways.”

“I don’t see how he is in a tight corner. For all I care, he could decide to keep hiding for several days since we’re not searching around. He’s just gonna have to wait until the FOX gets tired enough to leave the roads and then he’ll leave quietly.”

“How have we put him in a tight corner?” Rex questioned after listening to Florence, his arms folded across his chest as he stared at his friend.

Henry got up from his seat and walked to the window. He opened the curtains and stared out for a few seconds before returning to the center of the living room.

“Guys, let’s think like Hutton. We all know he’s going to be getting feedback from multiple sources about the condition of the town exits. He’s been in hiding since yesterday, expecting the checkpoints to be cleared by this morning. However, the checkpoints have not been cleared. Instead, security has been increased across all exits. His sources would have told him this,” Henry paused to clear his throat. “Right now, he’ll be very worried, wondering what we’re up to and why the roads have not been opened. He’s gonna be confused and he’ll demand information from his sources. His sources are going to give him the answer. They’ll tell him how it happened, but it’s gonna get him more confused because he won’t know our next steps. He’s gonna try to guess our next steps but he’ll get more confused. And what do you think happens after that?” Henry stopped and stared at Florence’s face with a cocky smile.  She didn’t seem to have an answer, so he turned to Rex.

“He’ll be desperate and start panicking?” Rex raised a brow.

“Yes, he’s gonna get desperate!” Henry exclaimed and then turned to Florence. “You might wonder how someone like Hutton would start to panic. But this isn’t just Hutton, it’s Hutton on the run, without enough information. He doesn’t know how close we are and why we’re doing what we are doing. He doesn’t know how long the exits will be manned by security officials. All these will run him crazy and he’ll start looking for a quick solution to get out of whatever hole he’s hiding. And if it were you, what would you do in this circumstance?” He turned to Rex for an answer again.

“Find a way to get through the heavy security?” Rex answered again.


“That’s gonna be an almost impossible task for him, he’s traveling alone, remember?” Florence put in.

“He was traveling alone,” Henry stated. “But remember he made a call before discarding his phone. There are two options; he’s met up with the person he was calling here in Orien or the person is waiting somewhere outside Orien for him. The probability of the latter being true is higher. Either way, he’s gonna get help in trying to escape.”

“So, they’re going to try to sneak him out?” Rex put in again. He had a light smile on his face now as he was finally beginning to understand Henry’s idea.

“Yes, he can’t drive out himself, not even with a disguise, so they’ll try another way to make sure he’s not seen when they take him out through the town exits,” Henry added.

Rex took out his phone and dialed a number immediately. “Hey, we need the FOX to increase search activity at the checkpoints henceforth. Search every exiting vehicle thoroughly, no matter what it’s transporting.”

“So, Hutton is going to be caught at the checkpoints now?” Florence questioned after Rex’s call. “What if he’s got an army to face the security officials at the checkpoints moving with him?”

“Hutton escaped us from the hideout narrowly, he’s got no army in Orien. As I said, there’s a higher probability that he’s got people waiting for him outside Orien. We stopped him from moving when the FOX manned the exits,” Henry answered her.

“Isn’t he capable of sneaking in soldiers to escort him out?” Florence questioned. “After all, the search emphasis is placed on exiting vehicles and not the ones entering. If he does that, he’s gonna start a war at the exit and probably escape.”

“Hutton has no damn time to think about war. He’s under pressure and he doesn’t know what we have planned. All he’s going to be thinking is how to get out quietly but he doesn’t know we’re thinking the same thing,” Henry bent closer to Florence and stared ferociously into her eyes.

“So you’re confident that he’s not going to try to fight if he’s caught at the checkpoints, trying to escape?” Florence asked.

“Of course, he would try to fight if he gets to the checkpoint, but our goal should be to ensure he doesn’t get to the checkpoints. We’ll catch him before he does,” Henry replied and walked back to where he kept the laptop. He took the A4 paper Rex gave him and walked to the spot where the map was spread on the floor.

He put the paper on the floor and went through the list. Rex moved closer and joined him after seeing what he was trying to do. Florence also came closer when they both were silent for a long.

“We’re in a good location,” Henry finally spoke. “We have good chances of intercepting the fifty-one locations before they get to any of the exits. But that’s only in the worse scenarios. The best case will be to get them before they move.”

“How do we do that?” Florence asked again.

Henry was quiet for a while. He then suddenly looked up as a thought came to his mind. He got up quickly and reached for his phone to dial Sheila’s number. It didn’t take much time to connect with her.

“You have to reach that FOX lady now. We need the FOX CCTV surveillance team to focus on big vehicles coming into Orien. Trucks, trailers, ambulances, vans, and even airplanes,” Henry said to Sheila before ending the call.

Florence stared into his eyes intently. “So we wait now?”

“Yeah, we wait…” Henry answered. “Hutton is going to make a move soon.”

“I still think we can do better,” Rex put in, not entirely satisfied with the plan.

Henry looked at him. “What do you think we should do?”

“The options are still too much,” Rex replied. “We need to cut them down more. Except for airplanes which will be easy to spot, there are probably tens of those types of vehicles that will try to move out of Orien. It’s a damn big town.”

“There’s no way to cut down his options further, Rex. He could be hiding anywhere in those fifty-one locations and where he’s hiding determines what vehicle he’ll think of escaping with.”

“Yes, but we can still do something. Maybe not to reduce his options, but to reduce the number of those vehicles that could be on the road,” Rex argued. He stayed quiet for a moment, while the others stared at him. His face finally lit up after he got an idea.


02:45 PM 

Hutton hurried to open the door immediately after he heard the knock.

“What the heck is happening?” He asked Grayson after closing the door.

Grayson sighed. “The situation is even more difficult right now. There are still security agents manning the exit points.”

Hutton already knew that, as he was following the traffic situation with his device. What he wanted to understand was why it was happening.

“Did something happen in Orien?” Hutton questioned. “I mean, was there an attack somewhere?”

“There’s none that could warrant the FOX’s actions,” Grayson replied. “I’m sorry, I’ve made inquiries and still do not understand what’s happening.”

“Okay,” Hutton gasped. He was still thinking of what to do when his mobile phone began to ring. He walked back to where he was previously sitting to answer the call. “Hey, Wyatt.”

“Hutton, I think I found out why the FOX has not left Orien yet,” Wyatt replied from the other end.

“Spill it out, man.”

“One of the trending news around town today has been the death of Elvis Kahn and the murder of the Zambian businessman, Chanda. The FOX has somehow linked them to the Red Wolves and you…”

“I know that, Wyatt,” Hutton interrupted him. “Just get straight to the point.”

“My police sources tell me that the instructions came directly from the FOX Chairman,” Wyatt responded. “He says before he was out, he was already trying to trace a Red Wolves base in Orien. So, the armed forces believed that you may have escaped with other Red Wolves soldiers into Orien to hide at the base.”

“What the f**k!” Hutton exclaimed in horror. “There’s no damn base here.”

“Well, that’s the information I got from my FOX.”

“And which f**king Chairman gave that order?”

“Chairman Mark,” Wyatt replied. “It has not been revealed to the public yet but Chairman Mark survived the explosion. He woke up yesterday.”

“Ah, sh*t!” Hutton ran his fingers through his hair in frustration. He began to pace about the place.

“What will you do?” Wyatt asked.

“I don’t f**king know!” Hutton yelled, unable to hold in his frustration. “I’m gonna need you to get me out of here someway.”

“That’ll be pretty difficult, the security officers are searching every vehicle exiting Orien.”

Hutton huffed. “We’ll find a way!”

He ended the call and squeezed the phone in his hands in anger.

“Ermm… I’ll be a call away if you need me,” Grayson cleared his throat and bowed slightly before walking out of the room.

Hutton continued to pace about the room. Of course, there was no base in Orien. That was only a story Mark made up to have a valid reason to keep the FOX active in Orien and not break the organization’s laws.

What Hutton couldn’t understand now was what was next for Carl and Rex. Now that they had gotten the FOX to keep him trapped in Orien, what would be their next move?

Could they be searching around the town for him? If that were the case, that would mean they intend to keep the exits manned for up to 3 days or more. If he stayed in town and they deployed FOX officials to join them in search, there was no way he wouldn’t be discovered eventually.

He sighed and shook his head vigorously as he thought of the options available to him. Trying to change his hideouts was definitely not a solution. The only solution he could see was getting out of Orien and the longer he stayed, the harder it may become, he thought.

After a few minutes of pacing about, he decided to relax his mind briefly. He settled on a chair and took a cup of water. Then he shut his eyes and rested his back, trying to clear his mind to give room for new thoughts. He was still in the process when his phone rang and disrupted it. Wyatt was calling back.

“Hey, Wyatt. Tell me you’ve got a solution…”

“Sir, I’m afraid things have gotten a bit more complicated.”

“What the f**k are you talking about?”

“The breaking news right now is that the FOX Chairman is alive, I don’t know how it got to the public.”

“That’s a big mess!” Hutton exclaimed.

“That’s not all… I think you should read the news update on the pobsonline blog,” Wyatt advised.

“I’ll call you right back,” Hutton gasped and ended the call.

He immediately launched the mobile browser and typed in the URL. The headline was the first thing he saw on the page: BREAKING: FOX CHAIRMAN RETURNS TO LIFE, LEADS CHASE IN ORIEN. The news article was posted five minutes before then. He clicked on the headline to open the article.

According to new reports, FOX Chairman Mark who was one of the victims of the explosion is now conscious and has been discharged from the FOX hospital. The time at which he became conscious is unclear right now. But what we know is that the chairman has taken charge of the organization once again and is now leading the chase of the Red Wolves members hiding in Orien. According to our anonymous source in the FOX, the agency believes that the Red Wolves members are currently trying to escape Orien. The joint security agencies are considering declaring a curfew in the town to prevent innocent civilians from getting cut up in a clash with the Red Wolves. We have tried to reach the FOX for official information but they have declined at the moment. We will update you with more information as we get them.

“Arghh…Shi*t!” He cursed under his breath.

Things were getting worse with every minute. Wyatt had told him that the Chairman became conscious the previous day but the news said he was already leading the FOX mission in Orien, which was strange. He knew the extent of damage the explosion had caused to Mark, so it was not possible for him to get conscious and be discharged the next day. But why did the news say he was leading the chase?

What could Carl and Rex be up to? He thought. With the news, they made the Red Wolves’ situation in Orien look more serious and that would spread fear among people. They had even mentioned that the joint security agencies were considering declaring a curfew. Hutton was sure that most people will prefer to lock themselves in even before the curfew was declared.

“No, no, no…” he gasped and sprang up from his seat as he realized what was about to happen. If the curfew is declared, that will keep him trapped in Orien. And now that the FOX chairman has lied that there is a Red Wolves base in Orien, he had all the legal right to ransack the whole city with not just FOX agents but with police officers and other security agents. That was Carl and Rex’s plan, to keep him trapped and catch him in Orien.

He began to pace the floor again unconsciously but stopped when he realized he was up again. He inhaled and exhaled calmly for a few seconds. His eyes landed on the empty cup of water and he remembered that he was previously trying to clear his thoughts so he could decide properly. He hurried to get the cup and went for water in the dispenser.

Then he returned to his seat once again, to clear his mind. Three minutes after being able to calm himself, his mind flashed back to how he got to the farm the previous night.

After his encounter with the woman who told him the reason for the slow traffic, he changed direction immediately. He stopped by a busy shopping mall where he was able to pick a phone from someone’s pocket. With the phone, he contacted Wyatt and explained the situation, who then directed him to Grayson. The phone was discarded before he met up with Grayson.

It was already dark when he got to the Gray Farm but he still noticed how large the place was. Grayson bred different kinds of domesticated animals on the farm. Goats, chickens, cows, and pigs were available in abundance at different sections. He had hundreds of people working for him there.

An idea suddenly struck his mind as he remembered something from the last night. He had overheard some of Grayson’s workers in the admin section discussing how they were going to transport some chickens out of town the next day. He reached for his phone and quickly dialed Grayson’s number.

“Hey, man. Last night, I heard your men saying a company was coming to get some of the chickens today. Has that been done yet?”

“No, their vehicles have yet to arrive,” Grayson replied. “They’re on their way to Orien and should be here in less than an hour.”

“Good!” Hutton heaved a sigh of relief. “You need to tell me more about those vehicles.”


03:48 PM

“I think our plan is working. The roads are gradually becoming empty,” Henry remarked as Rex walked back into the living room. He was laying on the three-seater sofa and the laptop was on a footstool close beside where he rested his head.

Rex moved closer to see the footage being shown on the laptop. “Hutton must be getting more frustrated wherever he is now. Do you have updates on vehicles coming in yet?”

Henry sat up and picked up his phone to check the time. “Our FOX agent, Maria is collating and sending updates every fifteen minutes, I should receive the next one in a few seconds,” he replied before dropping his phone.

Rex sat on the sofa opposite him and took out two packs of chips from the nylon bag in his hand. He threw one of the packs to Henry. “Isn’t there anything to work with from the past updates?”

“None,” Henry replied, catching the pack at the same time. “The officers search all the incoming vehicles at the checkpoints. All of them were making return trips.”

“You see, we made the right choice by letting out the information about the FOX Chairman. It’s having the effect we’re hoping for,” Rex crunched the chips as he spoke.

“Yeah, but we still have to be careful. The vehicle we’re looking for could be in Orien right now.”

“You said the probability of that is low.”

“Yeah, it’s low, let’s say around 20 percent,” Henry replied. “That’s not negligible.”

“Have any of our targeted vehicles been spotted driving out of Orien in the last hour?”

“No, I haven’t gotten any report on that,” Henry shook his head.

“If the roads remain less crowdy than they’re now, it will be easy for the FOX men to spot any of such vehicles. They’re enough agents monitoring the situation, aren’t there.”

“Yeah, Maria has the entire department working. Twenty-five agents are monitoring the exits, thirty are monitoring inside Orien.”

Henry’s phone beeped and he reached for it quickly. He pulled down the notification bar and opened the message.

“The updates are in,” he said as he connected the laptop to the phone with the USB chord.

“Any suspicious vehicles spotted?”

“Looks like there are some,” Henry replied.

Rex got up immediately to join Henry on the sofa.

“Five entered the town in the last fifteen minutes,” Henry stated as he opened the file. There were five pictures in the folder. “Three of them claim they would be returning,” he began to open the pictures one after the other. “Two trucks, an ambulance, and two vans.”

“Which ones are returning?” Rex asked.

Henry picked up his phone to check the message again. “The ambulance, one of the trucks, and one van.”

“Did the FOX question their reason for traveling?”

“The ambulance is going to get some medical equipment from the Orien Central Hospital, the truck is heading for Gray farm, and the van is going to move soft drinks from a Coca-Cola depot,” Henry answered, still reading from his phone.

Rex sighed and rested his back on the sofa. “He could be trying to move in any of these or none of these.”

Henry dropped his phone to look at the pictures of the truck, ambulance, and van again. “They’re all big enough to hide him,” he remarked as he stared at them intently one after the other. “You should call Sheila to check up on their movement before they entered Orien. They’re just three of them, she should be able to track them alone.”

“Shouldn’t we be tracking them on the road ourselves?” Rex asked. “We should follow these vehicles to their destinations and watch. I, Florence, and Xavier can do that while you stay here.”

“And what happens when there are more suspicious vehicles in the next fifteen minutes?” Henry asked calmly.

“You’re right,” Rex sighed resignedly and reached for his phone to call Sheila. “Hey, Carl will be forwarding some details to your email. We need you to check where those three vehicles are coming from and let us know if there’s anything suspicious about them.”

He ended the call after getting a response from Sheila and returned the phone to his pocket.

“Now that Sheila is tracking those three vehicles, what do we do if there are more vehicles in the next fifteen minutes?”

“We’ve got the whole FOX surveillance team working for us,” Henry replied. “I’m sure Maria can assign the tasks to capable hands.”

“Okay, seems like a good plan. We have people checking their past movements, those watching their current movements, and those who will search them before they leave town.”

Thirteen Minutes Later

Henry was already lying flat on the sofa when another update entered. He took out his phone to check the message while still lying down.

“Oops!” He exclaimed and sat up immediately. “Looks like we’ve got some more suspicious movements. Two more trucks are in.”

“Then you have to ask Maria to set up a monitoring team,” Rex remarked. He was about to add something else when his phone began to ring. He answered immediately. “Sheila…”

“The truck seems to be a bit suspicious. It was coming from Benuit and made a stop for fifteen minutes at a construction company. It’s supposed to be a vehicle for moving poultry, so I thought the stop at the construction company was suspicious. However, I have no footage of what happened during the stop.”

“Thank you, Sheila. Please, check for the others as well,” Rex ended the call and sprang up to his feet. “I think we might have something,” he said as he walked to Henry’s sofa.

“What did Sheila say?” Henry asked, giving him space to sit in front of the laptop.

“The truck is suspicious,” Rex replied. He opened the previous file to check the pictures of the truck. “Where did you say it was headed for?”

“Gray farms,” Henry answered after checking his phone again.

“I think this might just be it,” Rex remarked after thinking deeply. “This truck is going to move chickens and it’s going to be one of the most difficult vehicles to search. It’s a perfect place for Hutton to hide in.”

Henry spent a few seconds considering it too and let out a smile. “So, you think that guy’s gonna hide with the chickens?”

“It’s his best chance of escaping,” Rex replied and got up again. “I think I have to move now, I gotta check it out. You stay and watch for the others. I’ll text you the new number to reach Sheila directly.”

“Wait,” Henry stopped Rex who was hurrying back towards the hallway. “There’s a high chance that this is Hutton’s plan. You should go with Florence and also take your fake FOX ID.”

“Okay,” Rex nodded and proceeded.


* 10 Minutes later

Location: Gray Farms

Hutton got up and hurried to the door as soon as he heard the knock.

“Grayson,” he called the name to confirm the person behind the door.

“It’s me,” another voice replied.

Hutton recognized the voice and opened the door immediately.

“Mr. Hutton,” Wyatt hailed as he saw Hutton standing behind the door.

“Wyatt,” Hutton heaved a sigh of relief. He had never been so relieved to see someone. “Please, come in,” he left the door and walked back in. “How’s it going?”

Wyatt entered the room and locked the door from behind.

“We just got here. The workers are still putting the chickens in the crates,” Wyatt replied and waited for Hutton to turn before he continued. “Are you sure you’re going to be comfortable sitting among those chickens?”

“You’ve got another plan?” Hutton questioned.

Wyatt shook his head. “It’s a good plan. I was just wondering how you’ll feel being among them.”

“Do you guys have a good position to put me in?”

“Yes, in one of the feed boxes, it’s going to be at the far back, where it’s difficult to reach. But we’re also making sure that there are enough holes for you to breathe properly,” Wyatt replied.

“You should have your seat,” Hutton offered Wyatt the plastic chair opposite him while he sat on the mattress. “If I’m going to be at the far back, I need to be out there now so that they can start loading the vehicle.

“No, you don’t have to hurry. You’ll be at the center back, flange by crates. There’ll be many crates of chickens before yours on the line,” Wyatt explained.

“Okay, sounds good. But I still got to go out soon, once the loading begins.”

“Yes,” Wyatt nodded.

Hutton closed his eyes for a minute and took in a deep breath. He imagined how it will be sitting in the box, with chickens messing up all around him. He imagined how bad the place will smell.

How bad art the mighty fallen? He thought. All his life, he’d never imagined he would have to be in such a situation. It was terrible and humiliating, but it seemed like the only way out of Orien without having to fight Carl, Rex, and the FOX.

“You don’t have to worry about anything, Mr. Hutton. Once we go past the checkpoints, we’ll get you out into a different vehicle,” Wyatt said as if he could read Hutton’s thoughts.

Hutton breathed in deeply again. “How tight is the security at the checkpoints? Are they searching thoroughly?

“Well, it’s not so thorough for those coming in. But I saw them searching those exiting, it was tougher,” Wyatt answered.

“What if they decide to search the whole truck?”

“That’ll be impossible for them,” Wyatt replied. “It’s not going to be easy taking down all of the crates. I believe you made a good choice with this method of escape.”

“I think we should take some more measures,” Hutton said thoughtfully, squinting at the wall. He widened his eyes and then turned his gaze to Wyatt again. “Tell them to leave three to five crates unlocked.”

“What? Why?”

“None of those unlocked crates will be placed at the edge or the top,” Hutton continued to explain. “If the security officials ever try to search, they’ll open at least three crates mistakenly, letting the chickens fly out. That’s going to create a mess and will be enough to put them off.”

Wyatt heaved a sigh of relief and stared at Hutton’s face in awe. “That’s crazy, Mr. Hutton. Very brilliant idea,” he said and sprang up to his feet. “I think I’ll go right away to let them know.”


A knock sounded at the door before Wyatt could take a step. The two of them exchanged glances. The knock came the second time. Hutton got up and walked to the door. Wyatt followed slowly.

“Grayson?” Hutton called as he approached the door.

“Yes, Grayson.”

The door was opened to let Grayson in. He closed the door and stared at their faces for a while. It looked like something had gone wrong.

“Two FOX officials just arrived at the farm.”

Hutton and Wyatt glanced at each other.

“What do they want?” Hutton asked.

“They want to ask some questions.”

“What questions?”

“I didn’t go out to them. I heard them from the admin office, they were in the reception.”

Hutton let out a sigh.

Wyatt looked at Grayson. “They’re not going to come in here, right?”

“I don’t think so. I could just lock it up from outside with an old padlock and claim that it is an abandoned place and we lost the key. We can lock two other rooms around with other padlocks too, to make sure they’re not suspicious of this.”

Wyatt glanced at Hutton who nodded to show his approval of the idea.

“We’ll take care of this, Mr. Hutton. Just stay hidden here.”

To be continued