Thomas rushed into the room, slamming the door. He quickly ran over to the windows and pulled the blinds down. With his back pressed firmly against the wall he used his pinky finger to ever so gently create a looking hole. He glanced up and down the street.
I lost him.
His breathing was fast and heavy. His mind was racing a mile a minute. Beads of sweat were rolling down the side of his face. He slowly slid down the wall and sat on of the floor with his head tilted back and eyes closed.
“That was too close,” he whispered.
Thomas looked around the room. It looked different from the last time he’d used this hideaway. New paint and new furniture, and what’s this, throw pillows? Charlie, his controller, was becoming quite the decorator.
He suddenly snapped to attention. His body stiffened and his eyes grew wide as if he’d just heard a balloon pop. He frantically started to pat his body feeling each pocket.
Where is it? Where is it?
Thomas expelled a sigh of relief when he remembered his socks. He kicked off his shoes and carefully removed his left sock. There it was. A bit stinky but still good.
He needed to find the decoder. His eyes darted across the room scanning everything, the bed, the dresser, the desk, the kitchenette, the closet and the three wall mounted paintings.
Where is it, Charlie? Talk to me?
Thomas remembered Charlie’s riddle: “Inside out and upside down, split a snow man in half and your answer will be found.”
He quickly went to the desk. Grabbing a marker and a piece of paper, Thomas drew his best Frosty the Snowman, hat and all. He turned the paper upside down and the snowman was still the same. There was no change in Frosty when he flipped the paper around where the marker had bled through.
What the heck does your riddle mean, Charlie?
He sat back and stared at the snowman. It looked a lot like the number 8, he thought. Thomas began to search the room for something that resembled an eight – there were only six dresser drawers, four cups in the kitchen and two throw pillows. The paintings didn’t have anything either.
He started again, this time with the number 8. He wrote the number eight on a new piece of paper and then drew a vertical line through the center of it. Thomas found the answer. It was 3.
He made a beeline for the dresser. Thomas yanked open the third drawer and tossed out all the clothes filling the air like confetti at the end of the Super Bowl.
Nothing. The drawer was empty.
He pulled the drawer out and flipped it over. There was the decoder securely taped to the underside of the drawer. Thomas smiled. Good ole’ Charlie.
He was consciously aware of his heart rate increasing. It wasn’t because the microchip would reveal the answer to finding Ginger, but because he knew in order to rescue Ginger, he would have to come to face to face with his nemesis, Mr. K.
Thomas placed the microchip in the decoder and shone the image against the back wall. It was the blue print of a warehouse located at the edge of town. He studied the entrances, the venting system and then his eyes locked in on a specific room in the center of the building.
That’s where she is.
He remembered the first time he’d met Ginger at the academy. Ginger stood a foot above everyone else. She was so tall her legs seemed to go up to her armpits. Despite her being long and lanky, Ginger was quite graceful when she moved. You couldn’t help notice but her.
Ginger was a legend at the ISA Academy. She could out run anyone, short and long distances. To this day, she held every record for running at the academy.
Everyone always enjoyed when a new batch of recruits arrived, because inevitably there would be one cocky kid who would challenge her to a race. No matter how many times they were told, they believed they were different from the other losers.
Everyone would gather around, even the instructors, to watch the humiliation ensue. It seemed each race was the same. The young recruit and his cronies taunting Ginger with verbal attacks and mockery. And Ginger not saying a word while she got limber by stretching her spaghetti-like legs.
They lined up. BANG! They were off. It was always one of the most graceful displays of running. Ginger would cross the finished line on average 4.82 seconds ahead of her challenger. It was awesome.
The poor challenger thought the embarrassment was over when he got annihilated in the race but the best was still to come. As they would sheepishly make their way over to Ginger to congratulate her on the victory and apologize for their earlier rude remarks, Ginger would smile and give the kid a wink.
“No problem”, she would say. “Up top”.
Ginger would raise her arm above her head signaling for a high five. They would jump and swat at her hand looking like toddlers trying to strike a piñata. She was that tall.
Thomas was jolted back to reality. He ran to the window and cautiously peered out to the street. He could see a banana-coloured 1968 Stingray Corvette parked outside and Mr. K was running into the building.
Thomas always found it comical that such an ape of man drove such a small car. His smile quickly faded away when he heard the pounding feet of Mr. K coming down the hallway.
The door flew open and there he stood. A beast of a man. Big and ugly. He had thick black hair everywhere. It covered his arms. It was escaping over his shirt from his chest. It even seemed his eyebrows connected to his hairline. He was one giant hairball.
“We meet again,” said Thomas.
Mr. K grunted.
“The way I see it, we have two options,” Thomas said. “We can do this the easy way or the hard way”.
Letting out a huge roar, Mr. K charged. The impact threw Thomas back four feet and he landed hard on the floor. He shook the cobwebs out of his head and got back to his feet.
“You never make things easy, Mr. K. The hard way it is.”
Thomas launched himself like a torpedo towards the hairy beast, sending them both to the ground in thunderous heap. A melee of punches followed as they rolled from one end of the room to the other. Mr. K jumped up, pulling Thomas with him. Before Thomas knew it, he found himself being hurtled through the air like a toilet bowl being tossed into a dumpster on one of those home renovation shows.
He landed with a whimper. Mr. K stomped towards Thomas, intending to finish him off for once and for all. Thomas slew-footed the big animal bringing him down like a giant redwood. Boom! The ground shook.
Thomas jumped on Mr. K’s back and put him in a chokehold.
“Toooommmmmy. Where arrrrrrre you?”
The door opened and Mrs. MacDonald scanned Tommy’s bedroom. Blinds closed. Missing dresser drawer. Clothes everywhere. Sally’s giraffe, Ginger, stuffed in a large cardboard box. And Tommy had Koko the gorilla in his famous chokehold.
“Did Mr. K capture Ginger again?” she asked.
“He did! And he was just about to take me to her. Isn’t that right, Mr. K?”
Tommy’s mom smiled with pride at her son’s imagination.
“Maybe he can take you there later, Agent Thomas, because right now it’s lunchtime.”
“Grilled cheese and pea soup?” Tommy asked.
She smiled and nodded.
At the doorway Tommy turned, glaring with Client Eastwood eyes. “Until we meet again, Mr. K.”
Sean Hubbard left the corporate world after 14 years to start his own business as a Leadership Coach. He is passionate about people realizing their full potential and he has discovered there are common themes that hold everyone back. His goal is to take these relatable experiences and write stories that inspire people to overcome their specific barrier. He believes with all the cast of characters he has met and the varying business predicaments he found himself in, there is a business fable somewhere inside him. Sean wound up in Brian’s class because he was inspired by his creative kids, Sam and Sarah, and encouraged by his partner Donna.
See Brian Henry’s schedule here, including writing workshops, writing retreats, and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Alton, Barrie, Bracebridge, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Ingersoll, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, St. John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Halton, Ingersoll, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.