“I can dress myself. Thank you!”
Quipped Maatu half seated on the paramedic cot poolside at the Jumeirah Al Naseem Southeby hotel, while an over-attentive Paramedic insisted that he change out of his wet clothes from his almost deadly dip into the hotel’s sumptuous newly installed infinity pool.
Maatu stood and paused his stride thinking the better of his ungentlemanly behavior a moment ago.
He then bowed in thanks to the Paramedic as he clutched the reusable bag brimming with fresh clothing and a heated bathrobe courtesy of the hotel lobby’s spa.
Suddenly, screams erupted from bystanders around the paramedic scene poolside…
“Look, look!” A male voice shouted.
Meanwhile, a woman standing next to the man, screamed brandishing her fingers, upward pointing at Isabella’s firey exit from the fifth-floor window.
…in the sky plummeting out of the paisley Persian rug as it unrolled, was Isabella orienting her long limbs to dive into the infinity pool, still dressed in the shredded remains of her one-of-a-kind Vera Wang evening gown.
Leaving Maatu to tend to his own self-care, the Paramedic dove into the infinity pool at the precise moment that Isabella plunged into the water from above with a great splash.
“Let me help you, Madam,” said the Paramedic swimming alongside Isabella as she gasped for air and swam haphazardly making her way poolside.
Greeted by several helping hands, Isabella was lifted from the infinity pool.
Suddenly, parting the concerned crowd, Isabella flipped her soaking wet body upright, and landed on her feet, tossing her wet tresses from her eyes.
She said (addressing Maatu still hugging the brimming reusable bag of fresh clothing):
“Huh, great timing—I could use some dry clothes.”
Before Maatu could respond, Isabella grabbed from his hands the reusable bag with its warm and dry clothing, and rushed shivering to the poolside ladies’ change room a few meters away.
Maatu smiled inside and walked off, his wet feet making squishing sounds as he plodded on the hotel lobby’s pink-marbled floor. He wondered into the Hotel Spa for another go at some dry clothes, shaking his head, he whispered:
“Glad to see you are still alive Ms. Navigator. Perhaps we now have a common enemy. And you know what they say…’The enemy of my enemy…'”
Half an hour later…
”So, what’s our plan, Mr. Assassin?”
Asked Isabella, inviting herself to the seat across from Maatu in the hotel lobby cafe and sitting down abruptly. The two of them were now dressed exactly alike in a pair of sweatpants, a tee shirt, one of the hotel spa’s heated bathrobes, and a pair of slippers.
“Excuse me!” Maatu muttered, sipping his coffee, pretending he was not interested in her “proposal.”
“I figure we could first share what we know about who wants me incapacitated. And go from there.”
Said Isabella as she waved to a passing server, requesting a cup of the freshly brewed house blend Arabica coffee, its aroma enveloped the ambiance like a warm blanket in mid-winter.
And, mingling in between the aromas of coffee was the faintest hint of a few casually placed sticks of the delicately opulent Bakoor incense. Their tiny puffs drifted aimlessly around the cafe tables.
In all, the cafe’s ambiance was a much-needed respite to the senses for these two battle-weary warriors on opposite sides of the law.
While they waited for her coffee to arrive, neither of them spoke.
Waiting for the server to depart out of earshot and sipping her coffee, Isabella spoke:
“Thanks for the clothes and the coffee. I owe you at least a bit of information for your generosity, Mr…uh.”
“For now, I am just a tracer. Ms. Navigator.
“Pleased to meet you Mr. Tracer. Tracer as in illegal DNA, or criminal dark web tech tracing?”
Ignoring Isabella’s prying question Maatu changed the subject:
“Okay, what do you know about this sordid sequence of events in which we now find ourselves, Ms. Navigator?”
Before Isabella could answer…
She lunged over the table and grabbed Maatu who immediately figured out their predicament and rolled with Isabella to the cafe floor under the table as a spray of suppressor-silenced .22 caliber bullets from a concealed Colt SCAMP, laced the chairs where the two sat moments earlier.
Maatu lifted his head briefly to see if he could identify their attacker—against Isabella’s strong advice to the contrary.
It was the same room service attendant who had served up explosives for breakfast earlier in Maatu’s room.
Shouted Maatu, “…let us get after him. He might know something to help us.”
Isabella and Maatu raced across the hotel lobby. Their spa robes flowed behind them like wings as the two picked up speed.
Isabella slid deliberately on the pink marble lobby floor using her spa robe like a toboggan. She made contact with the assailant’s feet tripping him.
Meanwhile, Maatu lunged at the assailant who had miraculously found his footing and was trying to make good his escape. Maatu took him down with a body slam, Hulk Hogan style, and held him down on the lobby floor.
Before Isabella and Maatu could rise to their feet with the assailant in hand, the assailant spoke in Arabic:
“You have no idea what is going on. And I will never tell you anything” (pointing his chin with disdain at Isabella, as he spoke).
Then, the assailant vanished. No theatrics of any kind. He was between them on the floor one minute and gone in the next…
“Oh, God…The Door!” Said, Isabella.
“It has all been one extended distraction. The man or being we just encountered, the headless one calling himself Legion in my room earlier, the fake Old Sisyphus, the supposed attempt on my life. These past few hours since last night had been orchestrated to force me to believe that I had no choice but to open The Door.”
Her voice trembling— frustrated with herself for not seeing the whole picture, Isabella continued:
“Setho Zang had been waiting on the other side of The Door for who knows how many hundred years, waiting to bait someone with half-angel, half-human blood to speak that incantation. Bugger…I played into her hands.”
“Well, that’s enough feeling sorry for yourself, Ms. Navigator. I suggest that you or uh… we, do something about it, right now!” Whispered Maatu speaking in hushed tones as he led Isabella to the hotel’s Emergency Exit door.
For, their recent chase in the hotel lobby had caused a stir, as concerned guests now eyed the two, apparently displeased with their lack of decorum, prancing around undignified, in the upscale hotel’s lobby.
“Wait, wait, wait, I need some salt!” Isabella said looking back at the cafe tables as Maatu tugged her arm attempting to usher her to the Emergency Exit doors.
“This is no time to look for condiments! What do you need salt for…?”
Meanwhile far far away from Dubai…
An invisible army of ten thousand strong assembled in the dark realm. They were a rag-tag group of ghouls, gargoyles, harpies, banished warlocks, and spell-witchers (the worst of the undead kept alive for millennia, by the incantations of ancient wizards).
These are another class of evil, of the likes that this world has never seen (for they are invisible.) They battle with humans by influencing thoughts. And then they feed on the energy human mayhem has the potential to create. They have been locked away behind The Door, by God himself, since the great deluge written about in The Nag Hammadi Library.
Their self-appointed Commander, Setho Zang queen of the harpies, spoke to the assailant who had just disappeared from Maatu and Isabella’s grip in the hotel lobby:
“Everything is ready, Commander Zang.”
“Is The Door still open?”
“You are sure?”
“Where are the four horsemen?”
“They will follow you into Earth’s atmosphere once your squadrons get through The Door, Commander Zang…”
****To Be Continued Next Sunday****