Day 34: 04 Sep 2010
My time on watch started out boring enough, sure. Three hours of staring at the empty desert at night. Not a hell of a lot to see there. No, the interesting part came around 3:15 in the morning, when my BlackBerry rang.
That was odd. Usually, a phone ringing would be about the most normal thing in the world, but in my case, it was strange -- my phone was off. We'd all shut our phones down when we left Las Vegas. Well, Vince shut mine down for me, as I was kind of unconscious at the time. When I woke for my first watch, he let me know my phone was off and told me that even if we didn't use them, they could be tracked. If the phone was powered on, he said, someone who really knew what he was doing could pull our location from the GPS chip.
There was no way my phone could turn itself on. Hell, its battery should have been dead by now, anyway. But it wasn't. Obviously.
I didn't recognize the number. There wasn't one -- it just read "PRIVATE." That made me think of the creepy phone call weeks before. That guy Mr. William, with the eerily calm voice and the fucked-up word order.
I didn't answer it, of course. I'm not an idiot. As soon as it stopped ringing, I pulled the battery out and chucked it across the room.
Vince was a light sleeper, it turns out. No sooner had the battery left my hand than he rushed into the room.
"I heard a phone. Did you turn your phone back on?" he said.
"No. It came on by itself, and rang. I yanked the battery as soon as I heard it."
"You did the right thing. Remote power-on? Never heard of that happening before."
"As near as I know, it should be impossible," I said.
"Go wake Cassie," Vince told me. "I'll try to rouse Dane. We need all hands on deck -- I think we're going to have company very soon."
I went to Cassie's room. Her lights were out, and she was out cold. I shook her shoulder gently, but no luck. I shook harder -- nothing.
"Cassie," I said.
She bolted up in bed immediately.
"What? What is it?"
"Someone broke through to my cell line. Vince thinks they're coming.
"No idea. Didn't answer the phone."
"The Chinese," Vince said, passing by the door, Dane following behind.
"How do you know that?" I asked.
"Just makes sense. Most of your phone was made in China. The Triads have their fingers in. . ."
"Pretty much everything," Cassie finished his sentence. "He's probably right. Vince? You got guns?"
Vince just laughed.
"Cass, I got more guns here than most National Guard bases."
We waited. And waited some more. Waited all day, actually. Nothing. The same empty desert we'd all been staring at for three days.
Then, at two minutes to midnight, Vince suddenly froze.
"Quiet!" Vince hissed, his hand going up in the air, interrupting a low-level argument between Cassie and Dane about some restaurant they both frequented in Vegas.
Everyone froze, just like Vince, and no one made a sound. I heard a low, droning noise, but just barely. Vince put his hand down.
"Chopper," he whispered, "and it's big."