Hidden Dangers

I. Hate. Clowns.

There, I said it. This was not my opinion a couple weeks ago. As a matter of fact, I’d been looking forward to laughing at the Ringling Bros. clowns while waiting to meet with my informant within the circus family. My continued survival requires information. But, seeing as the UGA tracked my travels from Dallas and back in May, I’ve been forced to find outside contacts to bring me information from across the country.

This exposure to new, potentially unreliable sources is what got me in a heap of trouble. And on my birthday of all days!

My contact, an unnamed performer who has been missing since that day, sent me a ticket to the circus along with instructions on where to meet him afterwards. He’d found something while traveling through Colorado he swore was essential for the ZSC to know. However, this something was so sensitive he didn’t trust the phone or Internet to pass it along. His messages, coded of course, made me wary, but I agreed to meet with him face-to-face for the first time. Yeah, yeah… meeting a strange man you’ve only ever talked to via email, not my brightest moment. He’d only ever given me good information, though. I had to take a calculated risk.

Half way through the show I realized that my contact wasn’t performing. No one matching the description he’d emailed made an appearance in any of the three rings on the convention center floor.

By the end of the show, I wanted nothing more than to figure out why he wasn’t out there. I’d adopted him as part of my team and I don’t leave team members behind. So, despite the warning in the back of my head, I made my way to the meet spot. The massive crowd masked my movement and, I hoped, confused anyone trailing me.

It was a trap. The meeting location, tucked between two semi trucks, had been compromised. Instead of my contact, a group of clowns milled around. Some carried lengths of rope. One toyed with a knife, flipping it in the air over and over. When I went to back away from where I’d been spying, someone caught me from behind. They had the element of surprise and far superior numbers. There was no way I’d fight. Not if I wanted to live.

See? Sometimes your commander uses her brain.

They tied me up and shoved me inside one of the trailers hiding us from public view. If you’ve never been locked inside a trailer, it is really dark. Sure, there’s plenty of space and air, but that doesn’t mean a dang thing when you’re bound. Nor does all that air help when the darkness is dense. I may as well have been in a coffin. And that was the point. My captors were trying to rattle me. It only worked for a moment before I kicked myself for being weak.

The next day the circus rolled out of town… with me tagging along. Wasn’t like I had much of a choice. No one came into the trailer aside from those who’d captured me. One of them rode with me to the next city. Occasionally he would try to interrogate me and I feigned deafness from the sound of asphalt racing by under the truck’s tires. From the gist of the conversation, they thought I was responsible for my informant’s disappearance.

Things went from bad to worse when we got to the next city.

Since subtle attempts at interrogation didn’t work, my captors got really inventive with their techniques. Won’t go into what all happened, you all saw the damage in my PSA. But know this: I. Did. Not. Break. The secrets I’ve collected for the ZSC are safe. All I told them was the truth; I don’t know where their comrade went off to. If he is dead, he died with the information he’d gathered for me. The guilt of knowing this eats at me, even now after being dumped in the middle of the desert and forced to find my way back home. If he is alive and set me up to be kidnapped, may the gods help him…

Don’t worry about me. Just need to lick my wounds, then I’m back in action.