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 The Profit Prophet

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Anthony van

PostSubject: The Profit Prophet   Sun Aug 20, 2017 4:52 pm

Chapter 13


At Richard’s insistence his son and travelling companion became mission guests for the night. Naomi stayed in a spare room at Ellen and Joel’s residence and likewise Daniel stayed with his father.

On his way to bed Daniel noticed that John Stockton’s notebook had been left on a sideboard. He picked it up and took it for some bedtime reading.

Soon after, lying in bed, he was totally engrossed in the personal commentary of Naomi’s father. The first portion of the text was made up of observations about his faith and preparations for his fateful trip into Somalia. Some thoughts caught Daniel’s attention and he reread them.


…Had a new insight into faith today. The idea that ‘faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen’ was reinforced by a passage from 2Cor4 – ‘So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal’. It’s a paradox; to fix my eyes on something unseen… to focus on the invisible eternal. I know an unknowable, I see an unseeable… Your Spirit Lord stirs within me an awareness of something more real than this physical universe.

It’s something to remember as we finalise our packing for the journey. We’ve had some warnings that Mogadishu is becoming unstable again. But if we have to wait till peace is guaranteed we may never go. There are UN peacekeepers there, so it should be safe.


Daniel sighed. He had heard of the civil war in Somalia in the early 1990s. The notes had suggestions of pathos as it described his path into the storm of war. Here was a man anticipating eternity, not aware that it would be his reality sooner than he could know. He paged through the transitory revelations of Stockton’s appreciation of the human condition as he took on board the task of providing humanitarian aid while sharing the gospel at every opportunity.

Because Daniel was so tired he paged to the end of the notebook. The last pages were tragic.

The shooting is getting closer. It’s all been worth it. I still remember sitting in the church. I was struck dumb with his opening words: ‘You may not realise it, but God has brought you here for a purpose.’ He then proceeded to speak about two ways people go. One way is selfish, self-gratifying and evil and leads to destruction. You have to turn away from that path if you want life. The other Way is Jesus. It’s narrow; you can’t take anything with you. If you love riches leave your money otherwise rich people won’t fit through. If you’re proud, leave your pride, your ego—God opposes the proud… you can’t get through, but he gives grace to the humble. He said to cast your worries on Jesus, leave them at the cross.

The Jesus way is truth and it leads to life. All you have to do is choose.

He said many more things describing the contrasts between a way that seems ‘right to man’ and The Way. But I remember choosing the narrow way that night, with tears in my eyes.


Gayle and I were married a few months later and after two years at Bible College, I brought my girls to Kenya. Naomi if you ever read this I pray that faith finds you rejoicing that ultimately we stored up treasure in heaven.  Hope to write more soon…


Daniel had moist eyes as he read the last hastily written phrase. He recalled his own less spectacular entry through the narrow gate. Only now did he consider how everything seemed to make more sense. An eternal purpose put life into perspective. It was weird how, now, he understood John Stockton and his own father. Their lives weren’t about gaining the world, they were choosing life.

He closed the notepad and slipped it into a pocket of his computer bag. He lay down in bed, wondering whether Naomi had had a chance to read her father’s last message to her.

Then, he breathed a prayer of thankfulness that God had been patient with him. He also resolved that this talking to God would have to become a more sustained habit if he was going to be really serious about faith.

That was his last thought before a wave of weariness overtook him and he sank into the contented sleep of the forgiven.



Booming thuds invaded his mind as he attempted to rationalise the noises into his dreaming. The avalanche of sound finally penetrated into his consciousness and his eyelids sprung open. His father was just bursting through the doorway and flooding the room with a brightness that made him squint involuntarily. Behind him staggered Joel, his nose bloodied and his right eye closing from an angry looking welt.

“Get up!” yelled his dad. “They’ve taken Naomi.”

A leaden churn twisted in his stomach. “Who? … Where?” His sleep inhibited response was almost incoherent as he dragged himself to a standing position.

“Whoever was after you… whoever was incited to want your process; looks like they’ve made their move.”

Daniel threw some clothes on as Joel sat on the bed and groaned.

“Are you all right?” Daniel paused, arms through his pullover. “What happened?”

Joel looked groggily up at the young man. “I heard some noise, like thumping; and I thought I heard a muffled cry; and so I walked out of our bedroom… It felt like he hit me with a sledge hammer.”

Just then a call from outside the room indicated Ellen had arrived. “Joel, are you all right?”

He got up and staggered unsteadily to the door. Her gasp was quickly lost in the hustle of an efficient triage nurse. While leading him to the first aid kit she asked, “Is anyone else hurt?”

“No, but they’ve taken Naomi,” was his fading reply.

“Oh, no!...” The rest of the conversation was lost behind closed doors.

“I’ve got to go after them,” Daniel stated with a determined edge as he tied his shoe laces. His father, who was standing at the door, gave an agitated reply.

“Daniel, wait till we’ve contacted Devon. This is what he does.”

“I’ve got to go.”

“Just give Devon a call. He’ll know what to do.” Richard was almost pleading.

“You contact Devon,” he barked hotly. “Tell him I’ve gone after them.”

“But you’ve no idea where they’ve gone,” his father reasoned as he followed Daniel to the door.

He turned. “I’ve a pretty good idea. They’ll want to get out of here as soon as possible. And, there’s only one road to Berbera.” He looked into Richard’s face and saw his own angst reflected back. “Can I take the truck?” he asked, grabbing the keys from the shelf.

The doctor clenched his jaw and gave a curt nod. He knew there was nothing he could say to stop his son. In a moment of clear thinking he grabbed his backpack which contained his travel documents and money.

Even as he vaulted off the veranda toward the four wheel drive his father tried another tack. “What about I call Hissein and Abu to go with you?”

“No time… thanks Dad,” Daniel waved hastily as he got into the car and gunned the engine. Just as he was searching for reverse gear the passenger door flew open and Rashid clambered onto the seat. His eyes were wide open. “I see van. I hear Miss Naomi scream. I help.”

Daniel was in no mood to argue. The tyres spun and the truck lurched back before he stomped on the brakes and slammed into first gear in one motion causing it to skid and slide sideways.

Under his breath he was cursing himself. The words ‘idiot, idiot, idiot’ jarred within him. How could he blithely entangle Naomi in his web of intrigue? Rashid’s cries were clashing with the chaos of his thoughts.

Eventually, interminably to Rashid though only a matter of seconds, his shouts penetrated. The vehicle shuddered to a halt.

“Mister Daneel, that way… they go that way.” He pointed to the left when Daniel was halfway through turning right.

“Why would they go that way?” he demanded.

“They not go through city.”

Daniel hauled the wheel around and accelerated the way Rashid indicated. “You’ll have to show me,” he instructed loudly. Rashid just nodded. Then he pointed left again. Daniel had a sinking feeling because this was the opposite direction to what, he was sure, he should be heading.

“You sure?” he almost yelled, His chest felt tight with anxiety and his head throbbed. Rashid just nodded vigorously.

Within sixty seconds or so the Somali youth gestured for a right turn and Daniel had them careering around at a dangerous speed.

Suddenly the dirt road gave way to a broader paved surface. It was the Hargeisa version of a main perimeter route. They hurtled along the broad bypass for about two miles before turning off the tarmac down an unpaved road on the right. This felt better to Daniel. At least they were heading back toward the city to link to the Berbera road.

It was about two miles along this road that they came across Road Number 1, on the outskirts of Hargeisa. This was the main road to Berbera and their high speed departure had avoided the muddle of the central city.

It suddenly occurred to Daniel that he had no idea how close he was to the van they were chasing.

“Rashid, how far behind are we?”

The boy looked confused. Daniel tried again. “How long ago did they take Miss Naomi?”

That drew an immediate reaction. “Many minutes… I see them go… I put clothes on… I run to Mr Joel’s… I see him go to Doctor Rick’s house… then you come out after...” 

Daniel was rapidly estimating the duration of the actions that Rashid had described as taking maybe fifteen to twenty minutes. Especially since the time of the attack on Joel meant he’d been incapacitated for a few minutes; added to the time from Joel’s arrival in his room till when he left in the truck, could have been as much as ten minutes.

And what was he going to do if he caught up with them? He had no weapons, and he probably didn’t have the stomach to use them anyway. Even as his heart ached he furiously petitioned God. All sorts of pacts crossed his mind, but ultimately he begged for Naomi’s safety. He prayed for wisdom, for some deliverance from the calamity he had somehow managed to precipitate.

Apart from an occasional truck, the road was nearly deserted. Still in the very early hours of the morning, the black, moonless night provided stark contrast to the wash of his headlights, the distant pinpoint of tail lights and even the unnoticed spray of stars above.

The four wheel drive was heaving over ruts in the road and juddering over corrugations on the decaying surface. His tenacious grip prevented the wheel being wrenched away by the demanding road. His constant battle was to avoid pot holes or slewing sideways off the shoulder of the sandy road. Many miles had been negotiated before Daniel felt he was getting into a rhythm with the road.


Then, unexpectedly, there was a whine as the engine was urged up a short, steep grade, before a cough and jerking stagger shook the car to a standstill.

Daniel stared blankly at Rashid before vainly trying the starter. He wanted to lash out. How could they be stranded out here when Naomi’s life was in danger? He thumped the steering wheel after another failed whinge from the starter motor.

Again, it was Rashid who brought some sanity to his frantic foray. He sat there pointing stoically at the fuel gauge. Empty… empty! How mindless, how incompetent was his rescue attempt. His head leant against the steering wheel, disconsolate. The ache of helplessness welling up in nauseating constrictions of his stomach and teaming up with the dull pressure in his head made him misery personified.

Rashid, however, was scrambling into the back of the truck. He retrieved a five gallon jerry can of fuel, lugging it along the ground to the gas intake. He had a silly grin on his face as Daniel tumbled out, shamefaced, to take on the refuelling.

It took precious minutes to decant the gas into the tank. He was despairing of catching up to the kidnappers, aware that more gas would have to be bought at the next depot.

The remainder of the journey to Berbera was a blur of rattling, bone shaking vibrations in their wild race against time. A hasty fuel stop, shadows of small settlements, piercing lights of oncoming trucks, blasts of dust and gravel from the lumbering beasts rushing past, were all hazy silhouettes in Daniel’s charge for redemption. How could he right this wrong? His mind in turmoil, he felt as if part of him had been ripped out of his side. Was it merely guilt, or had his love for Naomi finally crystallised in this cruel realisation—that this love which drew him to her, had led her into jeopardy at the same time, and may ultimately destroy her!    

A salmon pink dawn went unnoticed as Daniel barrelled down the last stretch of the main road before drifting into a left hand turn and tearing up the two mile long airport road and around a sweeping bend. The barrier near the terminal entry was manned and he was given a brief lecture about his reckless approach to the gate before he was allowed to pass.

Rashid gripped the car door as they swung violently right towards the terminus. It took only a minute of vigilant scanning to determine that the van Rashid had described was not there. A second pass up and back confirmed that the van was not to be found.  

Pulling up as near to the main entrance as possible he leapt out of the car, instructing the boy to wait for his return.

Irritably, he barged into the white plaster and sandstone building and confronted the desk clerk.

“Have some men and a girl come in or boarded a plane recently,” he burst out brusquely.

The man at the desk slowly raised his eyes. Phlegmatically, he examined the rude interruption to his newspaper break.

“What is it you want sir?” he asked placidly in refined english, obviously hardened to unruly or demanding passengers. His icy calm, dark eyed stare unnerved Daniel. He steadied himself and tried to be as dispassionate as possible.

“I’m wondering if you can help me. I am looking for two or three men and a young woman. They may have come in in the last two hours.”

The clerk gave a tight smile. He prided his ability to cow the irascible clientele.

“You could check the Departure Room sir, but I doubt if they are here. Our only flight for the day leaves in three and a half hours.”

Daniel thanked him and withdrew as casually as he could. He inspected the large waiting area. Rows of hard cinema like seats were neatly arranged across the space. A few sleeping backpackers were lying prone on several at a time. Another few were reading. Some were playing cards. In all there were about twenty five, mostly young, travellers. Their arrival suggested that they wanted to guarantee they didn’t miss their flight and get stranded for another day in this backwater.


There was no sign of Naomi. A second’s stunned hesitation, suddenly morphed into purposeful striding. Berbera was a port. There must be a ship! He desperately hoped he hadn’t missed it.



Before the attack, Naomi had been writing notes in a diary about what she’d heard about her father and about the first few pages she’d read earlier from his notebook before putting it down to join in on their evening socialisation. Her notes referred to the things he had done in setting up the Somali mission and the precarious path he walked daily just keeping out of trouble.

She then read her bible, struggling to keep her eyes open. Barely had she turned the light off when sleep devoured her.

An hour later the small residence was silent when two men crept up to the door. Access was not inhibited by locks of any sort. They padded softly into the house, bypassed the first room and cracked open the door of the second. A beam of torchlight about the room confirmed their prey. A quick nod and they hustled inside, grabbed the sleeping girl and dragged her out of bed.

Shocked out of her sleep, Naomi at first struggled as if in some encumbering nightmare. Then she squealed in protest. Rough hands restrained her arms and clamped down on her mouth. She bit and yelled. A swatting fist knocked her senseless as they hauled her out of the room. Joel, blearily emerging from his room, got belted with fist and torch simultaneously. The crashing blow caught him flush on the cheek and glanced off his nose sending him crumbling to the floor.

In a well-planned manoeuvre, the van roared up just outside as the two kidnappers wrestled the rapidly reviving captive. A cry of alarm from the house was just audible as the van accelerated away. Another swipe at Naomi’s head caught her a glancing blow and had her slumping forward. A vicious sneer from the driver, told of the victorious mood inside the vehicle.

“That’ll keep her quiet,” he chortled harshly. But it was a ruse from Naomi who was not about to be the helpless victim. She launched herself to the open window and screamed and wailed, gesticulating wildly as they neared the orphanage.

A sharp prick in her thigh stopped her short. Looking down, confused, she saw the hypodermic. Fog filled her mind as the drug seeped through her system. The wooziness palled into a black cloud of unconsciousness.



As the mind numbing shroud of drug induced oblivion lifted, Naomi tried to take in her surroundings.  Opposite where she lay was a narrow bunk covered in a grey blanket. It was the same as the bed she was on. A small table was beside the bed. The metallic rounded window, the economic features of the room and, mostly, the pervasive salty tang told her she was in a ship’s cabin.

Almost fully awake and becoming more alert, she staggered to the door. The handle moved but the door remained securely shut. She shivered, more from insecurity than cold, feeling vulnerable because she was still in her pyjamas. Then, making her way with steadier steps to the squarish porthole, Naomi squinted to peer through the hazy glass.

Alongside the ship was a broad docking area littered with loosely arranged groups of containers. Toward the other end there were some warehouses and beyond them, tanks for refuelling. At least two roads crossed the intervening water to the shore and she supposed that another at the far end also connected with the shore.

 She sat on the bed wondering. How was it that she could be brought on board without the authorities questioning. Naomi had no knowledge of the box carried on board, in which she had been stowed; no idea of money changing hands to expedite any formalities and of the cursory nature of vessel examination after its initial arrival.

The cabin had a small bathroom attached. Her examination of it and the cabin itself revealed a distinct lack of anything but the basic furniture. It may as well have been a prison cell for all the amenity it offered.

Sitting back down and wrapping a blanket around herself she audibly berated herself; because only now she decided to pray.

The puncture area from the hypodermic was tender and her head throbbed from the after effects of the tranquiliser and a couple of whacks to the head.

It was a struggle to believe and hope and she mumbled desperate pleas for deliverance and strength. Between snatches of coherent prayer a storm of doubts invaded her mind. To what end were all these trials? If she were to die what was the greater purpose? Was she ready to die?



Daniel had driven furiously to the docks only to discover that each of the entry points had a check point. Rashid suggested that they speak to a truck driver that was heading onto the docks and hitch a lift. When Daniel remarked that he made it sound like an easy thing to do, Rashid assured him that it would involve an exchange of money for services rendered; a bribe.

They waited about fifteen minutes at the eastern entry point when two trucks turned up. Daniel and Rashid approached the second driver and after a brief haggling over what was a fair price they parted with a stack of notes. Daniel climbed up and sat with the driver in the truck cabin. Passing the entry gate was a mere formality and he wondered whether he could have just as easily driven himself onto the dock.

Travelling the five hundred yards onto the dock allowed him a brief moment to survey the vessels moored along the length of the pier. Two large cargo ships were at the near end while a mixture of small and medium sized ships were tied up parallel to the remaining length of pier. The truck carried its container to the receiving station.

Daniel slipped out of the cabin and stared at the ships. He had no idea which one she was on. Should he just start searching on the larger vessels? How could he avoid detection while checking out all the cabins and possible concealments?

Even as he was skirting the building to get a better view of the largest freighter a feeling of despair welled within him. There was no way he could examine them all and his only hope was to, somehow, board unseen, find and release Naomi and escape before they knew what was happening. That would be impossible if he had to wander through every ship opening every door.

A touch behind him made him jump with fright. A quick glance behind showed a broadly grinning boy very amused at his reaction. Rashid moved his fingers to his mouth.

“Daneel, I go to speak to the man.” He pointed to one of the shipping offices. “He say they on that shi-ip.” He stood pointing to the very large freighter backed to its mooring. It had a drive on ramp that allowed it to ferry numerous vans and trucks.

Daniel was somewhat doubtful and inquisitive at the same time. “How did you get here? How did you find out?”

“The truck.” He pointed to the one Daniel bribed himself onto. Rashid could have said ‘of course’ and it wouldn’t have added any more clarity to the obvious answer. He’d hitched a ride behind the prime mover.

Daniel pulled a face to indicate how dull-witted he felt.

“Okay, how do you know it’s that ship?”

“I say friend come to go on a shi-ip but not know the one. He say people go today are on that shi-ip.” Again he said the word as two syllables and pointed.


Daniel placed his hand on Rashid’s head and looked him in the eyes, “Thank you,” he whispered.

“You wait here and I’ll see what I can find.” Saying it sounded so simple but his mind was battling furiously trying to formulate some plan. As he scanned the surrounds he noted that three trucks were lining up to drive onto the vessel. Without hesitating he walked purposefully along the fringe of containers, placed less haphazardly than they first appeared. He studied the codes on each as if he were looking for something in particular; all the while making his way aligned to the queue position of the vehicles. He walked to the back of the line, hidden from the rear view mirrors. Scampering behind the last truck he crawled underneath the second trailer, panicking when he heard the diesel cough into life.

The vehicle was shaking as he hoisted himself up onto the front half of the articulated transport. Daniel then managed to shimmy behind a taut canvas tarpaulin.

In the dimness he could make out his surroundings. Stacked underneath were numerous pallets with tightly strapped cardboard boxes covered in indecipherable script. By forcing his arms and legs away from his body he managed to create a reasonable space.

The whole trailer vibrated as the engine roared and the driver put it into first gear. The jolting gear change almost made him lose his purchase on the edge of the tray. The throaty growl of the engines rose in pitch as the truck mounted the ramp and the ramp metal grated on the concrete pier.

It suddenly darkened even more and multiple motors echoed inside the immense hull. From his obscured position he had no idea what was happening. The throbbing diesels resonated all about him as the truck eased to a stop.

One by one the engines shut down. His ride was the last. Silence…eerie, momentary, hollow, silence, finally shattered by a slamming door, then others and shouts of greeting. Daniel waited fretfully.

When things had quietened down he lowered himself to his knees and squeezed out from under the tarpaulin.

Inside the huge storage hold he discovered that the cargo was mainly containers, with just five trucks using the roll on roll off facility for the purpose it was initially designed. A multi trailer rig pulled by a small tractor was parked to the side next to a mobile crane. Three rows of containers extended all the way to the end of the metal chasm near the middle of the freighter. The ship had obviously been adapted to move containers as well, rather than transporting just rolling stock.

Furtively, Daniel moved from behind the truck to a metal stairway. It led to a mezzanine area with further storage for individual pallets. His intention was to get to the cabins toward the bow. Noiselessly, he climbed the steps and then quickly darted between several piles of goods as three sailors walked past. Their conversation, though totally foreign to Daniel, sounded subdued and routine. One stood nearby and operated a control panel that resulted in the ramp being slowly raised to close off the rear door. Another could be seen through the floor mesh securing chocks behind the truck wheels. The third was out of sight but his voice indicated that he was near the lifting ramp. Daniel imagined there was some way to fasten the door so that it was locked in position.

Only then did a wave of panic rise within him. They were preparing to leave! In the distance he heard the anchor being hauled in. The ship hummed to life as its large engines were revved up.

 Daniel could do nothing. He was trapped until the men had finished their tasks. A clunking sound signalled that the rear was shut. His crouching position became increasingly uncomfortable as he waited. Eventually the other two stomped up the metal steps and the three exited the way they came in.


Carefully, he moved forward. Daniel could see corridors on either side of the mezzanine heading toward the bow. The nearer one was the exit the three sailors had taken. He chose the farther one, hoping that, if he was seen, no one would stop to question him.

Creeping warily along the metal grid, Daniel’s heart skipped a beat as the ship began to move. Though gradual, the increasing speed was bad news for any intended escape. Every minute meant a hundred yards farther out to sea. And once the ship left the main channel to the port its speed would more than double.

The corridor skirted more bulk cargo holds amidships—where on board cranes were positioned to lower and raise containers— and emerged some distance along the ship. Toward the bow Daniel could see the elevated decks of the crew quarters, amenities and probably any passenger quarters. Beyond that, right toward the bow, he guessed, were the wheelhouse, navigation and communications centres.

He clambered up steps and turned into the first doorway. He walked into the dining area. A couple sets of eyes looked up and then down, back to consuming a meal. Assumed to be just one of the passengers, he supposed, so he sat down and considered his next move.

He didn’t know if the ship’s crew or captain were aware of the kidnapping so he didn’t know if he could trust them. His plan evolved as he noticed two more crew wander in. He would wait in a corner and watch to see if he could recognise any other passengers. Following them to their cabin would be the next task.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

After half an hour he had second thoughts. They were now a fair distance out to sea and no one other than obvious crew had come in. Daniel decided that if nothing happened in the next five minutes he would hazard a search of the sleeping quarters.

One of the galley crew came and looked at him suspiciously. There was a moment when he was running explanations for his presence through his mind, but the cook called him back into the galley.

There was no hesitation to see what would happen. He didn’t want to be there if anything did. Daniel slowly got up and strolled out.

At the first door he paused and listened for a moment. No sounds were discernible. He strolled to the next door and was about to listen when the galley hand entered the corridor carrying a tray. That was incentive enough to hasten toward the other end.

About three quarter of the way along he heard the man knock on a cabin. He turned and watched. A blond man appeared at the door and accepted the tray. The man had to have been the same tall, Germanic, blond man that he and Rashid had spotted trying to abduct his father; the same one Ellen had seen.  

Daniel was too slow to turn from the hallway as the man gave a quick look in his direction. He tried to casually walk away along the corridor, but a guttural shout from behind caused him to dart out the door; his feet thudded on the metal decking, past some common rooms, past the dining area and kitchen and into the communications hub of the ship. A driving urge to get as far away as possible diverted him right down steeply inclined stairs. His mind screamed at him to think. Criminals run. Escapees run. Stowaways run. Stop running!

Reining in his desire to rush, he mimicked an ambling sailor. All his effort was focussed on restraining his breathing. The darkened room had glowing radar screens, several banks of dials and a number of computers and screens. He sat down at a vacant console in a row of three, away from the others, and put his head down. His heart was thumping madly.  He gazed steadfastly ahead, pretending to be involved in some task.


A minute went by. It seemed like an age. Another minute; Daniel was starting to convince himself that he’d misconstrued the situation. Maybe the shout had nothing to do with him.

In the dim light he made out one other man typing at a computer, and at the far end someone was monitoring some dials and talking into miked headphones.  A set of headphones he noticed next to the computer were quickly placed on his head. There was some muttering in the stair well. He lowered his head again. Beads of perspiration collected on his forehead. To the side he saw a jacket hanging on a wall hook near to where he sat. Quickly he reached across and grabbed it. Despite the warmth in the room, a change of appearance seemed the better option.

Daniel had barely regained his seat, wearing the dark, tight fitting jacket, when footsteps clunked down the stairs. He imagined he could feel eyes boring into the back of his head. There was some more muttering; then something about ‘working our way to the back’ expressed with a slight German accent. This was followed by their slow departure out the opposite doorway and an additional insistence, ‘I’m sure it was Treloar.’

Several minutes later, when it was clear that the two searchers had gone, Daniel dispensed with the headphones and stuffy, constricting jacket, rose quietly from his seat and retraced his steps up the stairs. His shirt was soaked with sweat.

Adjacent to the entry to the dining room was a chart of the ship’s layout. He studied the various decks. Apart from the multiple decks near the bow of the freighter most of the ship was used for container cargo, both in the hold and on the upper deck. He looked with interest at the diagram. A laundry was two levels below where he was. It was an opportunity to dress to merge with the crew.

A wave of emotion flooded through him as concern for Naomi’s well-being stirred the pit of his stomach. Was she in the room he’d seen the German thug exit? What had they done to her?

Preoccupied by his fears for his beautiful friend, Daniel almost stumbled onto the belligerent searchers. Going down the steps he heard voices and the telling foreign accent of his pursuers ascending to the landing below.  

Instantly he about turned and strode, three steps at a time, back up and quickly to the door next to the dining room. It turned out to be the kitchen with adjoining food storage areas.

A growling voice accosted him. “Passengers are not allowed in the galley.”

“Oh sorry, I must have made a wrong turn.” Daniel looked around to locate the source of the voice then put on his best befuddled, simpleton face. He wanted to delay his inevitable expulsion for as long as possible. “I say, so this is where all the great food is prepared. It’s quite impressive.” The grizzly faced cook he had discovered behind a door labelled ‘Coolroom’ was slightly assuaged by the compliment of his kitchen. ‘Though how anyone could be impressed by the basic, serviceable kitchen was a stretch’, thought Daniel.

“Yes, it is a good galley, but, I’m sorry, you must leave.” The cook spoke with quite a strong Scandinavian accent. There was a loud clatter from the adjoining scullery and his head disappeared behind the open cool room door again. “Jonick, be careful! You’ll have to wash that again.”

Daniel took the opportunity to get out of there. By the time the cook had closed the door behind him the intruder had left and a squinty, pouty expression indicated his puzzlement.

Retracing his recent attempt down the stairs, Daniel was more circumspect about remaining alert. He would be no help to Naomi if he were caught as well.

Two levels down Daniel became confused and wandered erratically before backtracking to the stairs. There he saw immediately the passage to the left that he should have taken. The stairwell had taken a dogleg to the right and he had been disoriented because the map showed the laundry directly ahead of the stairs.

Upon entering Daniel saw only one person that was actually doing laundry. Methodically he checked the nearest drying machines and found two filled with clothes that had finished their cycle.

Surreptitiously, he checked for items to ‘borrow’. He found a black tee shirt that seemed adequate and stood behind the end machine, near the doorway, to put it on. A little snugger than he was accustomed to, the shirt actually produced the guise of a healthy deckhand. It made him sweat all the more though, since he’d just put it over his looser fitting white tee shirt. After rummaging through both tubs he came across a woollen beanie. Wearing these items did make Daniel appear quite different from the person his adversaries were searching for. Nevertheless he was still wary and skulked about this lower deck trying to get clear in his mind what he intended to do.

Even though he wasn’t actually captive, he was virtually a prisoner aboard the ship. There was nowhere else he could go. If he freed Naomi, somehow he would have to send a mayday to inform authorities about the kidnapping. He would also have to find a place to hide.

It occurred to him that the truck he had hitched a ride on might provide the best opportunity of concealment. He was sure he could manoeuver the cardboard boxes sufficiently to make room for them both. Maybe if he snuck some food and water into the trailer they could remain hidden for a couple of days.

Daniel felt more confident now that he had a plan of sorts. He would secrete some foodstuffs away for them. He would send a mayday from the communications room, since his phone had no reception. And then he would visit the passenger quarters and watch for an opportunity to free her.

 His current thought was to set off the fire alarm and wait nearby with a cudgel of some kind, quickly incapacitate Naomi’s minders and escape with her to the truck. It sounded uncomplicated to Daniel in his desperation. A little careful consideration would have highlighted numerous holes in the plan.
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The Profit Prophet
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