Minnesota Undercover – Part Five
Tim D. McConnaughy Jr.
Just then Jacob reached his arm over my head toward my chest. I saw his hand was open as if he wanted me to shake it again but then I realized he was trying to help me up. I grabbed Jacob’s hand.
“That was quite a fall,” Jacob said as he pulled me up. Jacob pointed toward the other man wearing the Fedora. “I think someone pushed him.” he said. “We should find Russell and see if we can get out of here before things get out of hand.”
Things might have been already out of hand. A large scale uproar was now beginning to erupt in the far side of the lobby. I heard a few of the people hollering and talking loudly. Some security officers rushed by us toward the commotion. Many of the hotel guests were growing increasingly agitated by the minute so I began to look around for our cab driver. Where was Russell? I had lost track of him after we had gone inside the hotel. He seemed to be on a mission.
“Over there,” I heard Natalie say.
I turned to look at her. She was pointing toward a computer kiosk in the lobby a few yards away from where we were standing. Russell was standing behind a small group of people already gathered around the computer. Apparently the computer was working so I hoped he was learning about what we could do next. It didn’t seem like an option to stay the night at this hotel.
“I think we should stay together for the time being since Russell has a car.” I said aloud.
Jacob nodded in agreement. We all three slowly pressed our way toward where Russell was standing. As if we were a needle and thread we began weaving ourselves around the many people gathered in the hotel lobby.
“Find anything out?” Jacob asked Russell once we were next to him. I glanced toward the computer screen and noticed a website was open. Oh good I thought, feeling only slightly relieved, at least the Internet is working. I tried to make out the website through the many heads of people in front of me, who had apparently the same idea. The website page on the computer screen began to move up. Then up a little more. I saw a picture with words underneath. The words appeared to be divided up into smaller paragraphs broken up by pictures and stacked one on top of another. I glanced toward the top of the page and noticed a familiar blue bar. Facebook? I thought. Just grand. My thoughts suddenly turned sarcastic. At least one person here knows what’s going on.
Russell turned his body slightly to look at us as we stood behind him. “I have the cab,” he said. “if you all agree, let’s see if we can try to find a less prominent place that will be less crowded.”
There were a lot of people here and I wondered where they had all come from. I wanted to check the time since I figured it was well after 11 p.m. I reached into my pocket for my phone and I felt a piece of paper I had found and had pocketed earlier after being knocked down my the man with the Fedora hat. I pulled out the now partially crumpled piece of paper along with my phone. The now crumpled paper looked to have been folded into a square about the size of a small post-it note. I glanced at the time on my phone. It was 11.18 p.m. I quickly unfolded the paper to see what was on it. I noticed there were three lines of text:
في الوقت المحدد
Perhaps a foreign message or code of some sort? Then I remembered the man who had fallen on me. The man with little Fedora hat! I wondered if he had something to do with the paper. I felt I needed to find him again, or someone in authority who might know what it meant. I raised my head from looking down at the paper in time to see Russell, Jacob and Natalie standing next to me in a semi circle. Russell was the first to notice the paper. I showed him the paper revealing the mysterious text. He took it then showed Jacob and Natalie. The muscles in Russell’s face stiffened as he appeared suddenly concerned about something. Then without a word, he quickly summoned us back to the front of the hotel lobby entrance. We followed him as we hustled past a couple hotel security officers standing on both sides of the hotel’s closed double-doorway.
Looking through the lobby’s glass doors outside, I noticed more police gathering in front of the hotel. Russell motioned for us to follow him outside. Together we exited the hotel in a hurry. I felt my heart rate increase as adrenaline began to build inside me. What was happening? I wondered.
Once outside, Russell suddenly pulled us aside away from the many people now gathering around the hotel entrance. It was increasingly clear he had something tell us ASAP. He quickly pulled out a leather wallet revealing an ID card and a silver badge attached.
“I am a special agent for the Minnesota anti-terrorism division. Tonight I have been working undercover as a cab driver but this work here,” Russell said, pointing to his badge, “is my bread and butter.”
Russell looked down at the piece of paper I had given him. He held it up slightly and pointed to it.
“I will need to confirm it, but I believe this to be an encoded schedule. The first line of text appears to be written in the Arabic language and the numbers written are definitely times. We haven’t much time now.” He said.
I wasn’t sure what to make of Russell’s unexpected revelation to us. Should we be more afraid? Surprised? Confused? I think we were a little of each. Surely Russell’s ID and badge had convinced me he was a legitimate undercover agent but why a cab? And what did our involvement mean now that we knew he was an undercover agent?
I watched the reactions of both Natalie and Jacob to what Russell had just revealed. Jacob appeared unmoved by the news of Russell’s identity and revelation to us. He simply replied with a quick “Okay.” However, Natalie’s eyes appeared to be growing bigger and bigger as Russell gave us a quick rundown on what we were to do next.
Russell folded the paper in half and put it in his back pocket. Then he told us to follow him back to the cab. The sober tone of his voice told me this was serious business we were now engaged in.
Back at the cab we buckled in and Russell pulled the cab forward driving past the lobby parking area. My eyes caught a short glimpse at the hotel entrance again. Masses of people were now streaming out the front door. Some appeared to be running toward waiting taxis and buses parked in front. But they were not alone. I also saw law enforcement officers and emergency vehicles with their flashing lights as they were gathering around the front of the hotel. Law enforcement officers appeared to be escorting many of the people toward the waiting buses and taxis. Then I lost track of what was happening as Russell drove our car around the side of the hotel. Then we turned toward the rear parking area of the Ritz hotel.
Although it was dark, the parking area behind the hotel sat next to what appeared to be an open grass covered field. I noticed a cluster of lights and more law enforcement vehicles gathered near a helicopter on the ground. The lights on the helicopter were flashing and it looked as if it was preparing to take-off. Russell pulled the cab car just short of the chopper and told us to exit the car and follow him to the chopper. As we approached it, it was clear this was not just any helicopter but a law enforcement one. Was I surprised? Sure a little but then I realized now wasn’t probably the best the time to ask questions. Instead I ran after him with the others.
Natalie was just ahead of me and Jacob was close on my heels as we ran toward the law enforcement helicopter. As we all four neared dark colored chopper, I could see the side door was open and just to the right of the door was a blue and gold police star emblem. The area around the chopper was lit up and I could see the words State Police just under the front rotor. The helicopter’s rotors grew louder as we approached, and the blades made a clapping sound that seemed to bounce off the back of the Ritz hotel only a couple hundred feet away. I figured the chopper was nearly ready to take-off now as the grass around it began to blow and I noticed dirt kick up from underneath. There was a man with a flashlight dressed in tactical military style gear standing next to the open door on the side. He motioned to us with his light to climb aboard—so we did. Russell got in just behind the three of us, then he closed the door. He pulled a lever down on the door from the inside then gave a quick thumbs up to the pilot. The whole process happened not a moment too soon because almost immediately it felt as if we were lighter than air—we were airborne.
To Be Continued…..Find out what happens next in Minnesota Undercover – Part Six
Missed Part One of the story? Start at the beginning.
Minnesota Undercover is a work of fiction. With the exception of well-known historical figures and events, all names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents contained in this story are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.