Chapter Ten

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According to the information on ViaMaps, 147 Summer Street was located in the Season District in South London—just a few blocks away from the Metro Station. As Martin rode the train to South London, he carefully read the directions displayed o...

According to the information on ViaMaps, 147 Summer Street was located in the Season District in South London—just a few blocks away from the Metro Station.

As Martin rode the train to South London, he carefully read the directions displayed on his phone screen, practically studying them. The F.I.T.E. member called Stepchild01 who had emailed him the day before had instructed him to look for ‘the fire engine red house with orange trim at the end of the walk—the one that can’t be missed.’ He made sure to download the email onto his phone before it deleted itself.

“Read the words long enough, you’ll bleed your eyes out.”

Martin looked up from his phone and shifted his attention to Chess, who was sitting across from him. “Just trying to make sure we’re going to the right place, is all,” he explained.

“You’ve been looking at the damn thing for about ten minutes now,” his friend observed with a light chuckle. “Nothing changed, Marty. Plus, you know Lightning like the back of your hand.”

“So?”

“So put your phone away and breathe! Christ, you’re making me twitchy.”

Martin sighed and slipped his phone into his messenger bag. Chess was right. He didn’t have to look at the email for as long as he did. He traveled to Lambeth frequently to do home computer repairs for Gencore Inc. clients, so he was familiar with the Season District.

If anything, it was the meeting with F.I.T.E. that put him on edge. He watched all the videos on their website, read all the information on the exotic pet shops—Stewart’s shop especially. A year’s worth of evidence on that place alone, with every blog entry featuring footage of his business and accusations of him shaking hands with criminals. Whether it was accurate or not, it was enough to make him wonder—and even suspect — that this whole mess with Lianna was much more substantial than he originally thought.

“Sorry, Mate. I’m a bit on edge.”

“No shit. Even a blind man can see that.”

“I don’t understand how you can just sit there and not want to go out of your fucking mind.”

“I am actually. But panicking isn’t gonna do either of us any good.” Chess sighed. “Anyhoo, how’s Lianna doing with all this?”

“She’s doing the best she can, I suppose. Considering the situation she’s in. I told her what we were doing—at least tried to anyway.”

“And?”

“And she didn’t say very much. But—I can see it on her face, Chess. She wasn’t too keen on the idea. I’m surprised she’s even looking at me.” Truth was that Lianna’s demeanor towards him was still a little dodgy. She didn’t exactly revert back to giving him the silent treatment, but besides muttering typical English words she was learning or nodding her head towards him when he walked into his room, she tended to avoid interacting with him. In fact, she tended to isolate herself in the tree house he ordered for her, more likely sitting in there for hours on end while he either worked at his desk or went out to do a home visit.

When Martin told Lianna about his meeting with F.I.T.E., she silently nodded her head but he sensed her discomfort of yet another ‘hoonii’ knowing about her. At the same time, neither of them saw any other alternative if she wanted to ever return to her planet. And even the slightest hope was better than none.

“Well, she didn’t try to shank you like she did the first time. So I say it’s a step in the right direction, yeah?”

Martin scoffed, shaking his head. “You can shut it,” he joked as he smiled tiredly.

“Next stop—the Season District terminal,” the male automated voice announced as the train began to ease slowly into a complete stop. Suddenly the doors slid open and the two men rose from their seats, gripping tightly onto the railings above them while waiting for other passengers to pass. When the train was nearly empty, Martin and Chess then walked through the sliding door and onto the platform, avoiding all eye contact with the horde of passersby.

“Look, Marty,” Chess began as the two men hurried up the concrete stairs that led to the main street. “Maybe this whole thing isn’t as drastic as we think. I mean, it ‘as been about a week or so since you found Lianna.”

“But that’s just it, Chess,” Martin countered, glancing behind him occasionally. “It’s been an entire week and three days, at least. Yet, no one’s reported her missing.”

“I say luck’s on our side, Marty. And you did web block all our info, so maybe that had something to do with it.”

The moment he and his mate reached the top stairs, Martin’s ears caught the familiar sound and sight of moving vehicles, buses and the hordes of passersby crossing streets, most likely oblivious to their surroundings.

Martin stopped and looked at Chess. “I don’t know,” he said thoughtfully. “This whole thing reeks of odd. I can’t put my finger on it, but I can’t shake this feeling that shit’s gonna hit the fan.”

“Well, John Edward,” Chess replied, shrugging his broad shoulders, “before you have a full on premonition, let’s see what the F.I.T.E. folks and Naomi say, alright?”

“I’m glad you’re taking all of this seriously,” Martin bantered with playful sarcasm. He then nodded his head towards a narrow side street that led to the Season District. “Let’s get going. I don’t want us to be late.”

Without hesitation, Martin and Chess headed towards the street belonging to the area known for streets named after seasons—Summer Street, Spring Boulevard, Winter Pass Avenue and so on. Most of the District—hell, nearly the entire District — was a bit chaotic years ago before the Neighborhood Improvement Act of 2027 made enough initiatives to attract the well-to-do and young university students with Kerouacian visions of city life.

The F.I.T.E. House was tucked away in one of the semi-improved working class neighborhoods on Summer Street and Martin had told StepChild01 that they’d be there by six-thirty at the latest. Martin and Chess trailed past Autumn Way, leaving behind the menagerie of renovated shops and street musicians with electronic tip jars.

They turned right on the corner of Autumn Way and Fall Road before crossing the narrow brick street to get to the alleyway leading to Summer Street. As they approached the alleyway, Martin noticed that segments of Fall Road were soundless and empty. Some of the homes were either being renovated or were boarded up, leaving the area devoid of life.

The security cameras didn’t exactly ease his encroaching anxiety—especially after the Green Street Riot that took place in Lambeth. What began as a peaceful protest about workers’ rights eventually turned into a night of disorder when the SWAT team arrived. Martin read about the toppled cop cars and how demonstrators protected themselves from clouds of tear gas that the officers unlawfully sprayed at them.

In response, the government decided it was a brilliant idea to install security cameras throughout South London. Within two years, cameras were perched at every traffic light in the area—the Season District in particular. The initiative was so successful that cameras soon began showing up in Martin’s part of London, recording him and others throughout the day.

According to the media, they were installed to alert the proper authorities of any future discord and ensure the protection of the public. But others believed that the cameras were used to eavesdrop on demonstrators, to monitor them so when the former marched into the city, the cops could counteract by provoking an unnecessary riot.

Whatever the reason behind their installation, Martin hated the damn things. They resembled mechanical hawks inspecting everyone’s every move, their hard drives collecting faces and profiles, only to report their data to fuck knows who, hoping to catch what the government considered wrongdoing. That most likely explained why some of F.I.T.E. members only used code names. While researching their website, Martin noticed that a handful of them displayed online titles like ShadowBoxer and StepChild01. Made sense, though, considering the organization’s line of work.

This whole mess with Lianna was the reason why he web blocked his information and pushed Chess into doing the same. Granted, they were not affluent capitalists or demonstrators, but they were criminals in the eyes of the law and those of Stewart. He was fully aware of the chance he was taking of appearing suspicious, but the less people knew of their whereabouts, the better.

Especially for Lianna’s sake.

“Hey, Marty,” Chess called, bringing Martin back to reality. “Is this the place we’re looking for?”

Martin’s eyes followed his mate’s thumb, which was pointing towards a house on the corner of Summer Street. Unlike the tan building attached to it, the F.I.T.E. house had a steep gable-shaped roof with circular white shingles. Beneath the roof stood the three-story terrace house constructed with bricks painted a vibrant scarlet complimented with burnt orange trim. The short brick wall near the walkway matched the house, its shade made even more vibrant by the sunlight shining on it.

Martin released a calming sigh. “This is definitely it,” he replied, “Stepchild01 was right when he said it couldn’t be missed.”

“Indeed,” Chess chuckled. “Well, I say let’s get this party started, yeah?”

Martin swallowed the dryness out of his throat as he followed Chess up the walk that led to the wooden door. His eyes shifted to the window on the right hand side and he noticed two members—the red haired guy and the older grey haired woman—sitting at a computer desk, their conversation inaudible as their eyes stared at the PC.

“I wonder which one of them is StepChild01,” Martin spoke softly when he steadily approached the door. Attached to the entrance was a beautifully hand-crafted sign that read:

Freedom and Independence for Targeted Extraterrestrials

“Well…here goes everything,” Martin muttered to himself with a sigh. He pressed his finger against the glowing circle that was the doorbell, hoping that Lianna was doing something to ease her mind during his absence.

 

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