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Thriller
(Fic)
Pins and Needles
by Barry B. Wright

Edward Slocum, vice-president of Kemkor Pharmaceuticals, becomes suspicious of the possibility of illegal activity by his present employer. As his suspicion mounts, he finds himself mired in events that may change both his life and the community he lives in. Unable to trust his co-workers and local authorities, he comes to learn much more than he ever wanted—about his wife’s death, Kemkor’s real agenda and the strength of his own moral resolve. "Sounds interesting!

Chapter 1
Building 3C

Pins and Needles

Billy Talent

 

Never understood how she could,

Mean so little to so many

Why does she mean everything to me?

Is it worth the pain, with no one to blame?

For all of m...





Chapter 2
"The Chronicle"

EDWARD SURVEYED THE STREET below his office as he chewed over the previous night’s disquieting events around Building 3C. For a moment his gaze drifted along the main street and lingered at the intersection where his wife, Karen, had died two years ago. After ...





Chapter 3
Memories

EDWARD ROLLED HIS CHAIR out from behind his desk and over to the pile of binders and folders that Nadia had left earlier. On top of the folders was a large plastic envelope, and he wondered how he’d missed it earlier. Only his name and KemKor’s address w...





Chapter 4
Coming to Terms

AFTER THE BOARD MEETING as he mingled among KemKor’s representatives and government officials—Premier Bolsover having already left—Edward couldn’t help thinking that the accolades being showered on him were somewhat premature; the efficacy of...





Chapter 5
"Body and Soul"

EDWARD WALKED ACROSS THE parking lot trying to juggle the rolled-up Chronicle and flowers in one arm, and his briefcase and a package of baby bottles in the other. He smelled the medley of flowers that Nadia had ordered for him from the boutique and was pleased with...





Chapter 6
Camilo and Andres

AN HOUR LATER EDWARD TURNED into his drive, passing the Pine Meadows sign he and Karen had made shortly after they had bought this property. The wooden sign showed an unusual rate of weathering; paint had blistered like tiny teardrops across its surface. Rail fencin...





Chapter 7
The Rendezvous

CHRIS STEDMAN CAREFULLY MANOEUVRED his Silverado along the Valley River Gorge Road far enough behind Edward so as not to be detected. After glancing at his watch, he swore under his breath and wished that he was home enjoying dinner and watching a movie on Moviepix ...





Chapter 8
Hunter and Hunted

EDWARD PLOUGHED THROUGH THE pungent fragrance of humus, rotten vegetation, sodden logs and moss-covered rocks on a pathway that was deceivingly simple and straightforward at first. The footpath challenged his mettle as it snaked, twisted and turned, rising sharply o...





Chapter 9
No Swimming

JANET THOMPSON DRAGGED HER canoe through stinky blooms of algae to the shoreline by the Epping Road. She couldn’t remember when this part of the Beaver River appeared like this. When she glanced up, she saw Charlotte Bradley waiting for her on the shore, a sig...





Chapter 10
Premier Bolsover

PREMIER BOLSOVER’S DARK BLUE limousine pulled into the circular driveway of William Wardlaw Rattray’s property and came to a stop in front of the white portico adorning the front of the house.

Rattray’s 19th-century, two-and-half-story house ...





Chapter 11
The Search

SWEAT DRIPPING FROM THEIR foreheads, Ken and Doug searched the edge of the embankment. Hawthorn branches and snarled cedar twigs scratched their faces and inhibited their frenzied quest to find Edward’s body.

“I nailed him, I know I did! But where ...





Chapter 12
A Close Call

ON HER WAY HOME Charlotte, who was worried about Janet, decided to detour via the Barr Head Road and swing over to the Valley River Gorge Road. Not wanting to make a mountain out of molehill, she decided against the 911 call, convinced that if Janet had thought that...





Chapter 13
Out of the Rabbit Hole

EDWARD FELT CLAUSTROPHOBIC. A surge of panic rippled through him as he attempted to focus his eyes. The stale air made him nauseous. The side of his face felt wet, and the tip of his tongue tasted like salty mixture of perspiration and blood. His head felt terrible....





Chapter 14
The Trip to Kimberley

THE SUN HAD ALREADY begun to cross to the western horizon as Bolsover’s limo sped along County Road 13 to his cabinet meeting. He slid the opaque divider that separated him from the front seat open and surveyed the road ahead through the windshield. Vibrating ...





Chapter 15
The Incident on North Line Road

CONSTABLE PAUL DICKENSON PARKED his police van beside Charlotte’s Prius at the entrance to the Valley River Gorge Road. After the usual cordiality, Constable Malone went to get their search dog, Rusty, from the back of the van while Paul went over Charlotte&rs...





Chapter 16
Camouflage Uncovered

“EDWARD, ARE YOU ALRIGHT? Can you walk?” Paul asked, kneeling beside him.

When Edward finally opened his eyes, he felt relief to see Paul’s friendly face. “Yes...no…I don’t know.” Edward’s reply was garbled; his mout...





Chapter 17
The Break-in

EDWARD HAD BEEN IN and out of Markdale’s Emergency Department within two hours. The wound above his ear had been cleaned and a new bandage applied. He also had been given enough Tylenol tablets with codeine and antibiotics to tie him over until he got his pres...





Chapter 18
San Vicente del Calguan

ANDRES CLUNG TIGHTLY TO Camilo’s waist as they cantered along the road to their house. He knew Camilo would want to gallop the rest of the distance, and he wanted no part of it. Camilo ignored his entreaties to stop. Jagged pain radiated outward from Andres&rs...





Chapter 19
El Zorro!

ANDRES TRUNDLED DOWN THE laneway to his house. He felt a welcoming warmth of reassurance when he saw the soft glow of light spilling onto the front veranda from the windows at the front. Wedges of light streamed from the doddy haus built at the side of house. He was...





Chapter 20
The Egg-Packaging Facility

ANDRES ENTERED THE EGG-PACKAGING facility with Chris. Slightly ahead of them, Doug, Ken and Camilo followed Garcia. Lingering behind, Andres watched as women worked at the egg processors while a handful of men, on forklift trucks, either brought skids of empty egg c...





Chapter 21
Equations on the Ground

IT WAS ABOUT 5:30 Thursday morning when Edward was jerked out of a deep sleep. Groggy, disoriented and in his recliner—sitting upright—he waited for his eyes to focus.

Scattered across the surface of the coffee table were two large pizza boxes stre...





Chapter 22
Edward Visits "The Chronicle"

EDWARD PICKED UP THE sheet of paper from the kitchen table that had fallen on the ground earlier. Folding it he put it in his pocket. He hoped that Urquiza hadn’t had a good look at the contents of the sheet while it lay on the ground, because if he had, Urqui...





Chapter 23
Entry to Building 3C

EDWARD PARKED IN FRONT of Shoppers Drug Mart and got out. He still hadn’t heard back from Nadia about which security guard would be at the front desk. Taking his cell phone from his pocket, he was about to phone her when he received a call from Charlotte.

<...





Chapter 24
Sherlock, Mycroft and Watson

WORKING FROM HOME WAS a luxury Edward had rarely afforded himself, and he wished that he had done it more often. He put his pen down. The picture of Karen on the shelf above his desk forced him to reflect. “Would it have made a difference if I’d stayed h...





Chapter 25
Blackwell Steps into the Arena

THE SAUNA-LIKE CONDITIONS had not dampened the crowd’s enthusiasm as Charles “Chuck” Blackwell, a tall, slender man, rose to thundering applause after Edward had introduced him as the next premier of Ontario. Relinquishing his dress jacket and tie ...





Chapter 26
The Package from Hobbs

EDWARD SLIPPED OUT OF the VIP tent searching for Charlotte and Janet and found them schmoozing with another couple at the barbecue buffet table. Standing off to one side, he perused the long table. His eyes fixed on the dessert trays. In the process of making a beel...





Chapter 27
Rahim's Unfortunate Decision

Rahim’s Unfortunate Decision

WILLIAM RATTRAY SAT ALONE in the back corner of the VIP tent. It was the only table that had not been cleared. While swirling the contents in his champagne flute, he watched the catering personnel as they packed the silverware, fine china ...





Chapter 28
Bandeja Paisa

THE DOCUMENT COMMISSIONED BY Rattray weighed heavily on Urquiza’s mind as he journeyed along the path to the egg factory. At the entrance to the facility, he stopped, tapping the rolled document against his open palm. An approaching vehicle captured his attent...





Chapter 29
A Call from Leonard Palladin

THE PHONE BESIDE HIS bed rang five times before Edward finally climbed out of a deep sleep to answer it. “Yes?” he said over a long yawn.

“I thought you’d be awake by now.”

Edward sat up in bed trying to shake off the sleep....





Chapter 30
Parker Bridge

“WHAT ON EARTH ARE you doing there?” Janet asked, nodding toward Charlotte’s cell phone as she parked her Camaro at the entrance to the Valley River Gorge Road.

“I’m texting.” Charlotte replied, preoccupied.

Janet roll...





Chapter 31
The Fire

GRYNBERG LABORATORY WAS LOCATED on the top floor of a ten-story red-brick building on Hurontario Street, in the City of Brampton. When the elevators doors opened, Edward turned right and followed the hallway to its end. He knocked several times on the door before Ir...





Chapter 32
Edward Wakes Up in Hospital

EDWARD WOKE UP ON a gurney in a curtained-off area in the emergency ward of Brampton Civic Hospital. The nasal cannula connection to the oxygen source on the wall, the IV, and vital signs monitor leads hampered his movement. Except for the hospital gown, he was nake...





Chapter 33
The Meeting at Blackwell's House

NORTH OF CALEDON, EDWARD pulled to the side of the road and phoned Dickenson. When he began to relate to Paul what had transpired in Brampton, Paul abruptly interrupted him to tell him that Peel Regional Police had already contacted him, and he was aware of the inci...





Chapter 34
Antonio's Late Night Visit

MATTHEW BOLSOVER, THE SOON to be ex-Premier of Ontario, sat in his air-conditioned home office. On his desk was an open binder of documents that needed to be read and signed before he reentered the Legislature later that day. He glanced at the wall clock. It was 3 a...





Chapter 35
The Red and White Kangaroos

THE APPLE TREE’S BRANCHES swayed leisurely scratching gently against Andres’s window pane. Crimson, pink and purple were pasted on a thin ribbon across the horizon as the veil between night and day slowly lifted.

Andres punched at his feathered pil...





Chapter 36
A Decision is Made

CAMILO WAS SURPRISED TO see his brother up and about so early in the morning, and it garnered suspicion on his part. He couldn’t remember a time when he didn’t feel contempt for Andres. He never understood where it came from, when it began, how it starte...





Chapter 37
Girl Stuff

Girl Stuff

IT WAS SEVEN A.M Monday. The sauna-like conditions heralded another scorcher for the week. Dressed in a white short-sleeved dress shirt, red tie, dark brown pants, matching socks and slip-ons, Edward climbed into the Equinox and flung his sports jacket along with...





Chapter 38
Where Did She Go?

EDWARD’S MORNING STARTED BADLY. Not only had Chris Stedman, head of security, gone on holiday for two weeks, but no one, including Doug Irwin, Chris’s assistant, knew diddly squat about what Edward was talking about.

Edward gritted his teeth in ang...





Chapter 39
Questions Unanswered, Truths Unfolding

JOHN ELKHART HAD A spacious corner office. The expansive array of windows provided a stunning view of the Beaver Valley and the seasonal ebb and flow of nature. The door to his office was wide open. Located just outside his office was Lola Albright, his administrati...





Chapter 40
The Meeting with James

AT FIVE O’CLOCK EDWARD stood outside the reception area to John Elkhart’s office. Lola Albright's demeanor was anything but comfortable when she saw him. From Edward's point of view, she appeared to be searching for a location to hide when she saw him.





Chapter 41
Their Snooping on Green's Farm Begins

“SLOW DOWN, I CAN’T see a thing out here!” complained Charlotte, attempting to keep her voice down to a whisper. Janet barreled ahead of her through the tall grass. “Damn mosquitoes!” Barely five minutes had passed since she and Janet h...





Chapter 42
A Perilous Journey

“HO-HO HOO-HOO.” HUDDLING IN the bushes, Janet emulated the call of the Great Horned Owl again. “Ho-ho hoo-hoo.” No reply. In the distance, she could make out several beams of light moving through the field that she and Charlotte had come thr...





Chapter 43
The Old Root-Cellar

CHARLOTTE REACHED THE EDGE of the egg factory and disappeared into the darkness alongside it as the floodlights came on at the front. Startled, she lost her footing and stumbled into a shallow stony culvert used for rain run-off that ran the length of the building. ...





Chapter 44
Juarez Acts Decisively

THE TWO MEN AT the top of the stairs remained motionless, their faces cloaked in shadow. The heavyset man turned to the leaner one. “I told you they weren’t the proper zip-ties. We should have kept someone in here to keep an eye on them.” Charlotte...





Chapter 45
Their Escape Begins

“HURRY! THERE'S SO LITTLE TIME!" Juarez insisted. "Janet, are you able to move? Good! That’s your job, Charlotte, to take care of her. Andres, help me move Stedman over there.” He pointed to the far corner. “No one should see him until they&r...





Chapter 46
Backing Out is Hard to Do

ANDRES STEPPED AWAY FROM the truck and cautiously began to walk toward his brother. Juarez gently grabbed Andres's forearm and whispered: “I’ll take care of this.” For a moment Andres resisted. Though the brothers were not close, Juarez could see t...





Chapter 47
Exposed

PANIC SURGED THROUGH ANDRE'S body. The maple tree ahead of him made an exit barely possible. Juarez and Antonio were already greeting the new arrivals when he decided to shift the transmission into drive. Slowly easing forward, he felt relief when he passed the mapl...





Chapter 48
Carmella Returns

JANET AND CHARLOTTE WERE trying to administer a sedative to a very reluctant Carmella when Jennifer alerted them that the truck was slowing down. When the truck came to a full stop, a cacophony of men's voices surrounded them. Charlotte immediately placed her hand o...





Chapter 49
A Wet and Stormy Night

TWO DAYS AFTER THE raid, Edward and Charlotte drove to the hospital with the hope that they would learn more about Andres’s condition. But, four hours later, they left without so much as an encouraging word. After he dropped her off at Janet's, he returned hom...





Chapter 50
John Makes His Point

CHARLOTTE EXITED THE BEDROOM in an oversized cotton red tracksuit with a double white line running down both the arms and legs. She wore floppies on her feet. Her hair, normally in a ponytail, hung loose to let it dry. “Have you got something I can hold these ...





Chapter 51
Joining the Dots

JOHN PULLED OUT A stapled document from the folder. “You’ve heard of San Vicente del Caguan?” He scrutinized the faces staring at him. “I bet you didn’t know that Camilo’s and Andres’s dad was the head of the Revolutionary A...





Chapter 52
On Pins and Needles

BARELY FIVE MINUTES HAD passed since John had left through the window in Edward’s office. And it was as if the fury of wind and rain had been mysteriously taken away with his departure. Distant sirens, once undulating through moisture-soaked atmosphere, had no...





Chapter 53
The Missing Piece of the Puzzle

HIS GUN TRAINED ON Edward and Charlotte, Paul backed into the living room and pulled out his cell phone.

“Stop where you are and put the phone down.” John Elkhart commanded from the office entrance.

“Somehow I knew you weren’t far...





Chapter 54
The Unlikely Visitor

BY THE TIME EDWARD had arrived at the hospital, both Charlotte and John were in the operating room. Another three hours passed before he learned that Charlotte’s operation had gone well and that she was in post-operative care. Unfortunately, there was no word ...





Chapter 55
More Tubes than an Octopus has Tentacles

“JAMES? DESCRIBE CHARLOTTE’S SO-CALLED mother,” Edward asked. He listened intently to James’s quick description of the woman, then began to snigger.

“What’s so funny?” James inquired, appearing somewhat peeved by his r...





Chapter 56
A Welcomed Distraction

EDWARD SWIRLED THE ICE in his scotch glass; he felt emotionally exhausted. Most of his day had been spent with Janet, sitting at Charlotte’s bedside. Unlike his earlier visit with Charlotte, and this troubled him deeply, she lapsed in and out of consciousness....





Chapter 57
New Beginnings

EDWARD HELPED CHARLOTTE OFF with her coat and knitted hat and hung them on the clothes tree by the front door. “Not a bad day for October. Bit of a chill in the air, though. How do you feel?"

“Tired. I’m surprised with how long it's taking f...






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