Scooter, River, Midnight | Inspired by: The Inkwell Prompt | 2021
Image by Rhiannon from Pixabay
I can feel the bullets zinging all around as I passed Quiapo Church and turned right towards Carriedo Street to avoid the thugs following me. With my helmet nicked a couple of times, I'm certain that it's not a freak coincidence.
Racing through the streets of Manila in a "borrowed" scooter, my mind is racing to find answers.
"How did they find me?", I thought to myself.
After a couple of hours, I think I finally lost them. The cover of darkness and the never-ending side streets might have done the trick. The ocean of people going home from work will give me cover.
"Excuse me, ma'am, can I get a Yummyburger Meal with large fries? For take-out, please. Thanks!". The young lady smiled as she took my order.
The fast-food had many customers late at night for a quick bite before going home; the rest are still waiting for their orders to arrive.
It's now half-past midnight and the store is closed. I'm the last one to leave.
"Thank you, Sir!". The guard spoke slowly while holding the door open; his uniform on the table as his sweaty face managed a wry smile.
Hoping that my pursuers gave up or looked somewhere else, I felt safe going out. I pulled out the shabby cloth I used to cover the scooter and kicked on the starter immediately.
My plan is to head south to the rural areas where I'm most comfortable. I will be invisible there until arrangements for my escape push through.
I've crossed the Quezon bridge a hundred times, but this might be the last one. If things go well in the next few hours, I will be in Malaysia by noon tomorrow. Away from Niko's men. The Pasig River looked tranquil under the soft gaze of the moonlight. I will miss this view.
The driver of the Suzuki delivery van looked off. It's too early for tomorrow's paper to be delivered, yet he seems legit.
"Click." The distinct sound of a gun cocking behind me. The motorcycle guy snuck up on me.
"Don't move!". Said the thug, as his companions arrived. I was distracted by the newspaper delivery van long enough to get into this nasty situation. Now, I don't have a choice.
Get off the scooter and stand on the sidewalk." Said the man with the gun.
I stepped on the kickstand and gently got off. A couple of men on motorcycles arrived.
Now that they've managed to corner me, the choices of me leaving without a fight are slim to none. My mind was racing and my eyes looking for an opening. Breathing slowly, I began to see things in slow motion.
Swoosh! Ugh! The air around us, and the goons, caught my kick.
Swoosh! Ugh! Three more kicks; and then there was one guy left.
"I think you know what happens next, Paulo. Put down your gun and give me your phone."
The head of Niko's security team put down his gun and gave me his phone. I motioned for him to drop on his knees, hands behind his head.
Pitter-patter, pitter-patter... The sound of rain on the sidewalk got louder as I walked towards the scooter. I had made up my mind.
Image by Dylan Gonzales from Pixabay
The beautiful horizon changed color from blue to red-orange in front of my eyes, as I contemplated my next move parked in Roxas Boulevard. Jeannie had to wait a little longer.
Beep, beep, beep... Ringgg... Ringgg...
"Hello, Andrew. I have a proposition for you. Let's meet."
Niko's voice was calm.
"Starbucks, Lasalle Taft in 30 minutes. Be there or you will never see me again." I pressed the end call button.
My heart is pumping but I feel relaxed. This moment of clarity; I can see every little detail in the store: the stains of coffee on the floor, the man getting four sachets of brown sugar, the long line to the bathroom. Everything is still in slow motion.
Face-to-face with Niko in a moment of silence, I opened the conversation. "What's your proposal?", I asked.
"Give me the keys and password to the cold wallets and I will let you go.", said Niko.
"Let go of Jeannie first, and I will give all of it back. I countered.
Boom! A loud sound came from outside the street. And the store turned pitch black.
Niko's bodyguards could not find me anywhere. The emergency lights turned on after a second, but I was gone. Carrying their boss on my shoulder.
"Hello, boss. He has Niko." Gavin called the big boss to report what happened.
You fools, why did you let him escape! Find them, now!" Big boss could be heard on the speakerphone.
Yes, boss. We will search the streets now. Gavin hung up and ordered the rest of the men to circle nearby streets and alleys.
Niko's eyes opened but he squinted at the bright lights from the vehicles opposite of the road.
"Where are we?" Niko asked.
"We are in Roxas Boulevard. On the way to the airport." I replied.
"I think our plan will work. Jeannie is already there waiting for us."
Leaving the roundabout to enter the airport entrance, months of research and planning finally paid off. The perfect confluence of timing and situation made it easy for us to escape the syndicate.
Image by Igor Ovsyannykov from Pixabay
Leaving my beloved scooter behind was difficult, but it had to be done. All we have to do now is board the plane and we are free.
"Hello, guys! I'm so glad you're both alright. I was so worried." Jeannie was waiting for us at the entrance.
I felt relieved seeing our best friend, Jeannie. Now I know we will make it out.
"Leaving without saying goodbye!" A loud, familiar voice rang through the crowd. It was Gavin.
My blood froze and my breathing started to slow down again.
"Relax, man. Gavin helped us escape by pointing the search party to the north of the city." Jeannie's voice calmed me down. "Gavin knows about our plan and he is coming with us., said Jeannie.
"We've been together for a year now and we're already looking for a way out when you two asked me to join your plan to escape." Jeannie added.
We kept our relationship secret for fear of being found out by the Big Boss, even to you guys, until the very end. And, he was the insurance in case we get caught trying to escape."
"Flight Number 507 bound for Kuala Lumpur now boarding at Gate Number 1. Flight Number 507 bound for Kuala Lumpur now boarding at Gate Number 1." The announcement sounded like I won the lottery.
"That's our flight. Shall we..." Niko interjected.
As the flight attendant instructed us to prepare for landing after the 3 hours and 55-minute flight, tears ran down my face. Tears of joy and relief, no doubt, from the hardships and dangers that my childhood friends and I had to go through to get here.
It's midnight in Kuala Lumpur. I am now looking forward to a new day and a new life with three of the best people on the planet.
*I've been meaning to write more fiction for the longest time... hope you all liked it. Thanks and have a good one. :)