Written by Nada Hemida
Previously: Long Live the King: Episode 9 – Bleeding Out
I wasn’t tracking just Karim and Sarwat this whole time. I’ve been looking for their supposed thief, Shehab, too. I’m not foolish enough to waste so much time. And for the past two days, ever since the night down in the tunnels, I’ve been looking for him with complete focus, finally pinpointing an address where he might be.
First, I broke into ‘Science and Tech’ to know when Shehab had last checked into work, and to know if I could actually breach their security. I needed a boost of confidence.
Second, I found the database of the employees who left the city that night or the day after – for Shehab would have wanted to go as far away as he could, as fast as he could. Through software a dear friend of mine had introduced me to, I went through each name and their records to know if it was an actual person or just an alias.
Finally, I found the person whose name had no previous records, no credit cards, no passports, and no ID. That was Shehab. And I knew where he was now.
Fadel comes into my room, just as I was putting on my shoes. The image of his worried eyes is still stuck in my head. At first, he argued that it would be best to stay the hell away from this case. He even proposed that we run away to somewhere far. Still, I knew he wasn’t serious, wasn’t thinking straight. He was just afraid, not for himself but for me. I had come home to him with bloodied hands and a destroyed mind. He wanted me to heal, but we both knew we had no time to waste. There is no chance for me to sulk about days long gone, wounds that never healed. It was time to make a move now, or we’d all perish.
“Your hair is in a braid,” Fadel says, eyeing me. “Something’s about to go down, isn’t it?”
“You know me so well,” I say with a slight smile.
He sighs, crossing his arms and leaning on the door. “Anything I can help with?”
“No,” I say, “It’s fine. I want you to do the same as yesterday. Go back to the slums. Talk to them. Reach out to as many people as you can.”
He nods, his task noted and ready to be dispatched.
We head down the stairs together, talking over the plan. We had such little time. On New Year’s Eve, everything would be put in motion. We’d already have too many loose ends to be done with by that time.
“Nour –“ we both hear it at once, and draw our weapons out.
It’s revealed to be Faris, a friend I had hired to keep an eye on the man he was holding by the elbow – Seif Wael. He looks rattled and distraught, but unharmed as far as I can see.
“Put down the gun, Fadel,”
I, too, sheath my knife into my boot.
“Nour?” Seif puts his eyebrows together in confusion. “What… how? What is going on?”
My smile to Faris is tight. If he brought Seif here, then something wrong must have happened. Worse, it’s happening quicker than I thought. “Thank you very much. You can put him down now.”
“Who’s this?” Fadel asks.
“Seif,” I answer simply.
“Oh, the Seif?”
“WHAT IS GOING ON?” Seif finally yells in frustration.
I sigh and jog down the final steps. “Seif, I’ll tell you everything. Now, I just want you to calm down. Fadel, help him to a drink of water while I talk to Faris, please.”
Seif looks from me to Fadel to Faris, his head positively spinning, and then goes to the kitchen as Fadel guides him. Meanwhile, I take Faris outside.
I had called Faris right after I had left Seif’s house the other night. I knew Seif was on borrowed time; being caught or seen as suspicious was only inevitable. Faris had owed me a favor, so I asked him to keep an eye on Seif for me, making sure he wasn’t followed or harmed. In case of any great mishaps, I requested Faris to bring me Seif right away.
I ask him if they were followed. No, they were very careful. I ask if he’d taken the passageway through the city and into my garden like I’d told him. Yes, and they were quiet about it.
“Now,” I say, “What happened?”