Rated M for strong language, drug and alcohol use, violence, sexual themes and situations, blood, gore, and psychological horror.
The rental car meandered down the one-lane gravel road, throwing up the occasional cloud of dirt and stone where it hit the ruts and bumps left by a decade or more of ill repair. If the county had ever spent the money to maintain it, they'd long since stopped That might have had something to do with the....eccentric, at best, reputation of the people living in the house at the end of it. Carrow knew next to nothing about the people he was supposed to be meeting, but the looks he'd gotten from the locals when he'd asked for directions, after the GPS had cut out unexpectedly, suggested a less-than-encouraging reputation.
Despite the rough, jolting ride, Kasimir seemed dead asleep in the passenger seat, slumped over with his face buried in his digicam duffel-bag, the shapeless lump of his bright crimson turban his only visible feature. Carrow wasn't surprised. As a marine, the Sikh had probably slept in rougher conditions before, and they'd been on the road for nearly a week straight since he'd picked him up in Chicago. First all the way down to Berkley to pick up their third passenger, and then now meandering north and east to their final destination. Whoever these people were, they clearly valued their privacy...this road wasn't on any of the maps, and led to the absolute middle of nowhere.
His other passenger was awake, though, curled up in a technicolor nest of baggage, blankets, and, of course, the half-stuffed animals that suppoedly counted as 'essentials' when she was packing up her dorm room. Sometimes, Carrow couldn't tell he wasn't babysitting a twelve year old rather than a college sophomore, at least until she opened her mouth. And, speaking of which...
"Are we there yet? It's been houuuurrrrssss, I gotta pee, and there is absolutely NO reception out here. Do you even know where we're going? Every road we've turned on looks the same, corn and cows as far the eye can see. We head any deeper into redneckistan and I'm scared we'll start hearing banjos....." She rattled off in an interminable series of complaints, most of them repeats. She'd been in high spirits when they'd first picked her up. Still a chatterbox, but at least a cheerful one...that had lasted until about the morning of day two when she'd asked all the questions her traveling companions were willing to answer about their experiences and started getting antsy for the excitement that didn't seem to be coming. Both of the others had tried to convince her that she should be careful what she wished for, having both had brushes with death by less-than-natural causes, but the blonde was undissuaded.
Almost on cue, they saw it, cornrows opening up to reveal the farmhouse. Hopefully, inside, they'd find answers...all the agency had given them to go on was the address and a warning to tread lightly when it came to their new associates. Whoever these people were, even their mysterious benefactors with the almost unlimited resources seemed to keep them at arms-length, which suggested they weren't entirely to be trusted. But Marcus Carrow didn't really have much of a choice, he'd already signed over what little he knew was left of his life on the dotted line for a chance to protect people, and if that meant working with strangers, he just hoped they knew what they were doing.
The second the car rattled to a stop, Singh snapped straight up as if he'd never been asleep, his amber eyes open and alert. Having that man at his back gave The Agent a little more confidence in this endeavor, and their superiors, only for all that to go out the window when the next person they'd have him bring in was, rather than a competent professional with skill and experience, a bratty know-it-all straight out of high school. Who were these people, that they were willing to throw a kid, and for all her protests, that was all he thought of Brooklyn as, headfirst into this line of work.