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Terror in Winnipeg

There was a stunning blast of sound as a bomb tore apart the gate at the entrance to the home of James Dorchester, one of Winnipeg's wealthiest industrialists.  Tom Austen stared unbelievingly as masked men with guns ran silently through the opening where the gate had once stood.  Before he could recover his wits, Tom found himself and Dianne, Dorchester's daughter, being dragged toward a waiting van.


Chapter 1


A savage dog lunged at Tom.


         'No!' he shouted, twisting away.


         With a clink of chain, the dog was stopped by its collar.  Praying the chain would hold, Tom moved nervously away to a clump of spruce trees, where his friend, Dianne, was sitting.


         She smiled.  'I heard the dog barking. I guess you failed again.'


         Tom shrugged.  'One day I'll beat your security system.'


         'I doubt it. Daddy has guards and dogs all over the estate now.  No one could get past them.'


         'I can do it!'


         Kneeling on the ground, Tom used a stick to sketch out a plan for a new assault on the security system.  As he worked, a man stepped silently from the trees.


         'You'll have to go inside now, Miss Dorchester.'


         Dianne sighed.  'Having a bodyguard is like being in prison.'


         'Maybe,' Tom said, 'but all the security here makes this an exciting place to visit!'


         Dianne shook her blond hair. 'I don't like having guards, Tom, but I guess they'll be around until the police catch those DEMON terrorists who threatened to kidnap me.'


         'DEMON only made that threat to try to force your father to shut down his industrial plants that they say are harming the environment.  Why doesn't he just agree to close them?'


         'Not a chance!  Daddy says the terrorists are trying to destroy Dorchester Industries, not protect the environment.  He says it's like a war, Tom, and he'll never give in!'


         They followed the bodyguard through the trees, then emerged on to a winding drive.  Nearby was a brick wall, and a guard protecting the heavy wooden gate of the estate.


         He motioned to Dianne's bodyguard to join him, then opened an observation panel in the gate.  As they looked out, the two men seemed worried, and Tom slipped closer to hear their conversation.


         'The city always warn us when they're going to send up workmen,' one said.


         The other nodded.  'When I reach the house, I'll phone downtown.  Something about this feels wrong.'


         From outside the gate came the sound of machines, and Tom glimpsed figures in work clothes digging up the road.


         'What's going on?' he asked, as Dianne's bodyguard started along the drive.


         'Nothing,' the man said, but his eyes were still worried.


         Around a bend was a massive house with stone walls.  As they approached, a TV camera scanned their faces, then a guard opened the door.


         Once inside the guards left them, and Tom turned to Dianne.  'Has your father added any new security since I was here last?'


         She nodded, and went to stand at the door of a large room.  'Can you figure it out?'


         Tom studied the room, but saw only antique furniture and oil paintings in gold-leaf frames.  ‘Beats me.'


         'It's an ultrasonic detector, filling the air with high-frequency sound waves.  Anyone entering the room would disturb the sound waves, and trigger an alarm.'


         'Fantastic!'  Tom said, jotting the details in his notebook.  'Your father is always one step ahead of the bad guys.'


         'Let's hope so.'


         They moved down the hall to the den where a snack was waiting for them; Dianne poured out two glasses of milk, while Tom concentrated his attention on a big piece of chocolate cake.


         'Listen, Dianne, I've decided to give your security system another test.'


         'What now?'


         Tom glanced at the walls of leather-bound books.  'Is this room bugged?'


         Dianne laughed.  'Maybe we've got termites, that's all!'


         Tom dropped his voice to a whisper.  'The guards are supposed to be watching when you're in the grounds.  Right?'


         Dianne nodded.


         'And a bodyguard must always be with you outside the estate?'


         'That's right.'


         'My plan is to get you through the grounds, and off the estate, without any guards noticing, just to prove that the security isn't as watertight as your Dad would like to think it is.'


         'What's your plan?'


         Tom smiled.  'One more piece of cake, for energy, and then I'll demonstrate the Tom Austen Security-Buster.'


         As Dianne cut the cake, Tom studied Mr Dorchester's collection of ancient swords.  'These must be worth a fortune.  No wonder DEMON calls your father a wealthy capitalist.'


         Dianne gave him an angry look.  'You want a face full of chocolate cake?'


         'Hey, take it easy.  I think your Dad is a neat guy.'


         'He's a terrific person.  Besides, Dorchester Industries provides jobs for people here in Winnipeg, and all over Manitoba. What's wrong with that?'


         Tom shrugged.  'Nothing I guess, but I heard a guy talking on TV who claimed people didn't want to work in the plants because they damage the environment.  That's why DEMON bombed the plant in White River, trying to force your father to close it.’


         'People in the plant were almost killed by that bomb!  Daddy says that proves the terrorists don't care about anything except ruining Dorchester Industries.'


         'I guess so.'  Tom carefully removed the cake's rich icing to eat first.  'Who's that in the picture?' he mumbled through a full mouth.


         Dianne looked at a portrait of a young man with blond hair and blue eyes.  'That's my step-brother, Powell.  My parents had a big argument over whether to display the picture, or hide it in a drawer.'


         'How come?'


         'Daddy is still mad at Powell for saying his plants should be shut down before they destroy Manitoba.  There were some terrible scenes, then Powell left home.'


         'Where's he living now?'


         'No one knows.  He's disappeared, but Daddy won't try to find him because of the tiger-skin rug.'




         'Daddy had a gorgeous tiger-skin rug in front of the fireplace.  He was so proud of it.  The night Powell left home, he cut the rug to pieces.'


         'Wow.  That's unfriendly.'


         Dianne stood up.  'Let's try your plan before I change my mind.  The security guards will freak if they catch us.'




         They left the den and went down the thickly-carpeted hallway to stand again outside the room with the antique furniture.  Small lights glowed above the oil paintings as Tom studied the room.


         'Is that door to the patio locked?'


         'Yes.  You can see the key in the lock.'


         ‘That’s how we’ll get out of the house.  It’s the only door that doesn’t need a security guard, because of the ultrasonic alarm.’


         ‘Wait a minute!  What about the alarm when it’s triggered?’


         ‘No sweat.  We’ll be gone long before the guards get here.’


         Dianne looked doubtful, but Tom was confident that his plan wouldn’t fail.  He checked the hallway for signs of guards.  Then, taking a deep breath, he grabbed Dianne’s hand and they dashed through the room.

         The house erupted in noise.

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TERROR IN WINNIPEG. Copyright 2012 by Eric Hamilton Wilson
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