9.1: Part Two
Slowly and deliberately,
Atkins raised his hands up. “Hey guys, you’re
making a big mistake here.” He narrowed his eyes
suggestively. “We’re here on official business.
Hadn’t you heard my friend here just saved the shuttle
The guards edgily
glanced at one another. They’d obviously heard
want to put a hole in a national hero now would you?”
Seeley continued, raising a brow.
There was more
hesitation from the security men – enough distraction,
in fact for MacGyver to slide a ruler across the table
and over the edge with one end, and under an empty mainframe
spool the other. With a quick look over to Seeley, he
slammed his hand down on the edge over the table, bouncing
the spool up at the still shaking guard.
The man flinched
as the spool clattered against his weapon, and he fell
back slightly in surprise. Mac used the moment to jump
from his seat and land a punch to the guard’s jaw.
The guard dropped back unconscious, and Mac winced at
the sight, and at the skin it had taken from his knuckles
The second security
man whirled, trying to aim at MacGyver. As he instinctively
moved his gaze from Atkins, it gave Seeley the opportunity
to pounce. The ex-fed grabbed the guard around the neck,
squeezing just enough for the man to fall lifelessly at
the side of his companion.
Seeley let out
a puff of air. “Jeez, I’m getting old and
slow…” He grabbed a phone cable that was protruding
from the end of his desk and tied up the man.
a full mainframe spool and did much the same with the
guard he’d knocked out, wrapping the tape over and
over to bind the man’s hands behind his back.
am I sensing this part of the mission didn’t go
Seeley both looked up to see Pete standing in the doorway
with his cane, one brow cocked at them as if they were
naughty school kids. “Nikki’s ready,”
he informed, moving sideways slightly so his two colleagues
could exit the room and join him in the hallway.
the job done,” MacGyver sighed. “With just
a little collateral damage.”
a few Tylenol won’t fix, though, Mr. Thornton,”
Seeley assured, straightening his tie again.
but didn’t ask what they’d just done as they
headed for the exit.
worried Pete.” MacGyver stopped moving and ran a
hand across his mouth. “Nikki might be ready, but
what happens once she’s got Zito outside the institution
worry, Mac, I’ve told Nikki to ditch Zito once they’re
at a safe distance from the guards. She’s been given
a microdot-sized tracker to slip on him; we can follow
that to find Sam.”
Mac shook his
head, the concern in his eyes flashing like lighting on
a stormy night. “Zito isn’t dumb enough to
fall for that kinda plan, Pete. He’ll know.”
can we do?” Seeley looked frustrated, and his hand
kept wandering to the side of his jacket where he kept
his weapon. Atkins wanted action, he wanted to be able
to take charge of the situation rather than the bad guys
– MacGyver knew just how he felt – minus the
now?” Pete queried. “You can both get yourselves
on the Phoenix jet and get to Alameda! I told the pilot
to go get lunch so you better get over there and “steal”
fast. Nikki should be waiting the other end by the time
you arrive, complete with the tracking gear to get after
Zito and his henchmen.”
to MacGyver. “Are we gonna argue who is gonna fly
managed a smile.
* * *
Oakland International Airport
3hrs 20mins later…
down the Learjet steps as soon as they hit the asphalt,
with Seeley not far behind looking ever-so-slightly dishevelled.
Their footsteps echoed ominously across the private bay
as they raced across it to the exit area where Nikki would
The area was
unusually quiet and MacGyver’s stomach back-flipped
when he realized a man dressed much like Seeley began
beckoning them over. Atkins confirmed Mac’s fears
when he held a hand up to the unknown individual, suggesting
he recognized him. If Nikki wasn’t here, and someone
Seeley knew was, that had to be bad.
Max Sterling from the Alameda office.” Max held
out a hand, his face as dour as the Grim Reaper’s.
“I’m a friend of Mr. Thornton.” His
expression said that meant he knew how to keep quiet.
gone wrong, badly wrong. It had to have, didn’t
hard, but it was Seeley that spoke first. “Zito
got Nikki, didn’t he?”
down a breath. “She never returned from the state
hospital and the police just issued a release saying Zito
has escaped. The only upside is, the tracking device is
active.” He passed a small receiver box to MacGyver
that bleeped cheerily. “There’s a car outside,
a red Ford Crown Vic.” Max squeezed a set of keys
into Mac’s hand. “Go find Nikki and your kid.”
but he felt like the wind had been knocked clean out of
him. Sam being involved changed everything, and now Nikki
too. Apart from Pete and Jack, they were pretty much all
of his “family” and it was his responsibility
to fix. He turned to Atkins. “You don’t need
to get involved in this any more. It might get messy and…”
don’t want another death on your conscience?”
Seeley interrupted, putting a hand on his side as if he
was suddenly annoyed. “Look, MacGyver, firstly I
don’t plan on dying any time soon, and second you
don’t get rid of me that easy. Over a year ago I
stood outside Sam’s hospital room guarding him from
Mariotte and his goons. As far as I’m concerned,
nobody fired me, that’s still my job.”
Mac felt a relief
inside he couldn’t explain. The burden of what he
was up against somehow seemed halved now that Seeley was
helping because he wanted to, not because he’d been
ordered to, and MacGyver realized he might have to some
day add another name to that list of “family”
he’d just been thinking about.
him on the back, waking him from the sentimental and emotional
haze he’d slipped into.
let’s go get us a couple of madmen!” Atkins
slid the car keys from Mac’s loose grip and began
jogging across the private terminal, his black jacket
billowing in the breeze that seemed to have whipped up
as they spoke.
himself and followed.
* * * *
device burbled in MacGyver’s hand as Seeley avoided
a pothole in the road, the Ford rocking and bucking as
the highway turned into nothing more than a short dirt
like this,” Atkins said quietly as they approached
what looked like an abandoned motel. “It’s
perfect for an ambush…”
Mac shook his
head. “Zito doesn’t work that way. He’ll
want to play some kind of mind game before the kill. It’s
how he operates.” The tracking device’s beep
turned into an incessant whine, signaling they had arrived,
and yet somehow MacGyver already knew they weren’t
going to find Sam, Nikki, Zito, or Mariotte here. This
was just the beginning.
He opened the
car door tentatively and stepped out; Seeley did much
the same, except he drew his gun lithely from its holster
as he approached the rotting building.
Seeley took point,
nodding to MacGyver to take the opposite side of the main
door as they approached. The screen hung limp, its frame
smashed and inner mesh holed.
I’m thinking Bates motel and then some,” Seeley
whispered, his trigger finger ticking as he licked his
lips in anticipation.
The gun was making him nervous, not the reference, but
he did suddenly have images of a bloodied shower curtain
in his mind, and it made him shiver.
Not wanting to
see any blood for real, MacGyver took the initiative and
moved first, kicking at the damaged screen until it fell
away and they could enter through the already half-open
The door led
to what would have been an office. A dusty counter still
sat in the corner of the room, an ancient telephone waiting
for a call that would never come. The pale blue paint
was peeling from the walls as moss and slime took over.
Attached to the
space behind the counter where the usual obligatory calendar
hung, was a map – a new map, that contrasted starkly
against the rest of the décor. The chart was of
the whole of the U.S. and spanned half the wall –
and there was writing on it in bold red marker.
“A map to
the sun or a map to your doom?
Figure it out, or Sam dies soon.
A piece here, a piece there, you’ll find him along
A holy house in the desert, a storm on a hill, a token
you’ll find when you get to the mill.”
shoulders slumped. It was a very corny rhyme concocted
as both a joke, and a riddle by Zito. And Zito was good
at this kind of thing.
around the room with his weapon, and when he was sure
it was clear, holstered it and joined Mac, a scowl on
his face as he read the riddle. “Just what is that
supposed to mean?”
Mac tapped the
map with his finger as his mind already began working.
“It’s our job to find out,” he explained,
biting his lip in concentration. “But it suggests
there’s a time limit, or Sam dies…”
I hate to say it, but Zito and Mariotte will kill Sam
anyway – if they haven’t already. And why
no mention of Nikki?” Seeley’s tone was apologetic,
but he didn’t pull any punches with the facts. It
was his way.
know,” MacGyver admitted, picking up an old pencil
from the counter and twiddling it through his fingers
as if it would speed up his thought process. “But
it worries me…” What if she’s already
dead? He shook himself. “First thing we need
to do is look at the map. It’s a puzzle meant for
us to solve. I’m guessing “a map to the sun”
simply means Sam, and a map to your doom implies there’s
on the wall and put a hand to his side as he concentrated
on the phrase, his brow creased in thought. “You
know this is Zito laughing at us because trap or not,
he knows we’re going to have to follow his game?
And I really don’t like the “piece here, a
piece there” part. I don’t have to tell you
what that implies?”
“No, you don’t,” he said softly. “So
we need to stop that happening.” He stared at the
end of the riddle until the words began to blur before
his eyes and jumble in his brain.
holy house in the desert, a storm on a hill, a token you’ll
find when you get to the mill.”
ran a hand through the front of his hair and whirled around
away from the map to clear his head. “So what place
on the map has a holy house in the desert, a mill, and
is stormy? It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack!”
win this war…” Atkins pinched the bridge of
his nose, and then whirled abruptly, slamming his fist
into the decaying wall so hard it bloodied the knuckles
of his right hand. The move surprised MacGyver. Until
now, Seeley had always come across as the perfect, emotionless
fed you saw in movies. But apparently, he had another
side. He was about to comment, when the desk phone began
The motel hadn’t
been used in decades, yet it had a working telephone?
There could be only one answer, and Mac didn’t like
it. He snatched up the receiver anyway, and before he
had chance to speak, Zito’s smooth, serpentine tones
filled the crackling line.
so good to be working with you again…” Zito
was his usual sardonic, malevolent self.
to be calm, emotion now was a show of weakness, and yet
he still couldn’t help the crack in his voice as
he spoke. “I didn’t think “good”
was a word in your vocabulary?”
“Why MacGyver, was that a hint of fear in your voice?
Tut tut, you should never let emotion cloud your judgement.
That was always Kate’s weakness…”
speak to Sam, or there won’t be any mind games.”
Mac’s hand shook has he held the phone, and he was
glad his adversary couldn’t see his trembling limb.
You hope he can’t see. This is Zito, he could
love to oblige,” Zito oozed fake charm. “But
I really haven’t had the pleasure of meeting your
dear boy – yet. But don’t worry, MacGyver,
Sam will get his just dessert, or should that be, desert?”
Quiet laughter filled the line, just before it went dead.
the receiver fall back in the cradle and was silent.
Zito, huh?” Seeley probed. “What’d he
Mac snapped from
his deep thought. “He said Sam will get his just
dessert, or should that be desert, then hung up. It’s
a word game – part of the puzzle we have to solve.”
desert? How the heck can that help us?” Atkins wasn’t
him and moved back to the map. “We have to be looking
for a desert, it’s played a part in the riddle more
than once now. There are so many, though, how do we find
the right one?”
It was Atkins
time for quiet contemplation, his eyes narrowed as he
obviously wracked his brains for answers. “You know,
I vacationed in Arizona a couple of years back, took my
kid to Cathedral Rock, could the “holy house”
part be that simple?”
dark expression brightened just a touch. “Isn’t
Thunder Mountain in that area too?”
“Yeah, but that’s got nothing to do with…”
And then the penny appeared to drop. “Wait, I get
it! Storm on a hill equals Thunder Mountain! We’ve
forefinger traced across the map and then paused. “They’re
both in the Sedona area, but I don’t recall, or
see any kind of monument, attraction, or place with the
word “mill,” and that’s got to be part
of the equation or Zito wouldn’t have used it in
the riddle.” He took out the two pins holding the
map to the wall and rolled it up. “There’s
a phone in the car, let’s go call Pete.”
* * *
The Ford was
still sitting innocently waiting for them in the abandoned
motel lot. Balls of tumbleweed danced around it playfully
in the breeze, and the sky grew dark with raven black
clouds that signaled a storm. Even the weather was against
it and climbed into the Crown Victoria, grabbing the car
phone from the center console. It was a Phoenix vehicle,
and had a direct line to the central office. He quickly
asked to be patched through to Thornton, who was still
in Houston at mission control.
can you get one of those N.A.S.A. guys to look something
up for me?” The line was buzzing and crackling,
but Mac hoped it wouldn’t die. “I need you
to do a cross reference of the words Sedona and mill.
Zito left us a riddle and I don’t like the implications
for Sam if we don’t solve it.”
give me two seconds…” Pete’s voice sounded
distant, but then it was. He returned after just five
minutes. “We’ve got nothing, Mac.”
giving in, although he gripped the phone that bit tighter
as he spoke. “Can you get them to widen the parameters
until Thornton returned a second time. “I think
we’ve got something,” he said triumphantly.
“There’s a seedy motel off the I-40 called
The Mill House on the way into Sedona. Does that sound
what you’re after?”
lit up, even though Pete couldn’t see it. “It
sure does,” he confirmed and then added. “I’ll
be in touch,” as he put down phone.
you got it?” Seeley raised a brow.
it.” Mac nodded as he climbed into the Ford. “We
need to get back to the airport and fast.”
* * *
Mill House Motel
Off the I-40
Two Hours Later…
was small, in fact, it only had one runway, but even so
it had gotten Mac and Seeley to their target faster than
any car could. With the help of a hire vehicle, they’d
made good time to the motel.
lobby was tiny, and a scrawny looking man smoking a cigarette
sat behind a table watching daytime TV. He looked up as
they entered, scratching at one arm like he had fleas.
The vest he wore was stained, like he hadn’t changed
in a few days, and would have looked good on John McClane.
the manager’s attire and pulled out two photos –
one of Mariotte, and one of Zito. He sat them down on
the desk, along with twenty bucks. “Excuse me, have
you seen either of these guys recently?”
The manager flicked
ash onto the floor, scrunched up his nose, and then viewed
the pictures. “Nope, nobody like that’s been
around.” He belched noisily. “Your name wouldn’t
be Angus though?”
widened in surprise and slight annoyance. “Why do
some short dude with long hair came in and paid me two
hundred bucks for a room. He told me what you looked like,
said I should give you the keys when you arrived.”
The manager tossed a grimy key across the table and turned
back to his TV, apparently finished with the conversation.
over and took the key before MacGyver could touch it.
He smiled wanly. “I think I should go in first on
Mac knew it was
an attempt to shield him from whatever horrors the room
was hiding, but it didn’t change a thing. He wanted
to be first inside, first to see if there was anything
of Sam in there.
wait for a complaint and jogged from the office, his free
hand reaching and extracting his weapon.
The room was
just three doors down from reception.
Mac looked through
the window. It appeared to be empty, apart from a small
box on the bedside table. He nodded to Seeley, who didn’t
bother using the key. Turning it in the lock meant making
a noise and for-warning any possible enemy. Instead, the
ex-fed launched at the door with his perfectly polished
The door yelped
in wooden agony as it was torn from the top hinge and
burst inwards. Seeley followed behind it, scanning the
room back and forth with his automatic. He moved to the
bathroom, but that too was empty.
straight to the box. It was beckoning him like it belonged
to Pandora. Next to it was another handwritten note.
Mac wanted to
check for explosives, every sinew in his body screamed
that this could be a bomb, or a trap of some variety.
And yet, concern for Sam outweighed any concern he had
Mac tore at the
box lid, hearing Zito’s riddle over and over in
his mind about finding Sam piece by piece.
He stopped dead
as the cardboard flaps moved out of the way to reveal
what was within.
A raggedly cut
human finger sat innocently on a small scrap of cloth
that was soaked through with blood.