Peyton Beauchamp was not having a good night.
The time was creeping to one in the morning, it was raining, she was in the middle of nowhere, and she was being chased.
It all started about two weeks ago when Peyton accepted a job she found on the Helping Hand app. All it involved was completing some odd jobs for an old man staying in a hotel uptown. At first, she was just picking up dry cleaning, doing some grocery shopping, taking the occasional letters across town. It was a nice job and paid $75 for each errand, not bad for a starving student. It was perfect really, at least until this last job.
Peyton received a call from her employer, Anton Green, for one last delivery before he left town, and needed to meet him outside the coffee shop across the street from his fancy hotel uptown at nine pm so he could tell her the details. She arrived ten minutes early, so she could grab a coffee while she waited. It was starting to get a little colder out, fall well and truly asserting itself, so she decided to forgo her usual iced coffee in favor of one of the shop's new seasonal hot drinks, something with way too much sugar in to be considered coffee really, and headed out the front to wait. But as Peyton came out of the shop a hulk of a man dressed in an expensive-looking business suit grabbed her arm causing her to drop her coffee.
“Hey!” she tried unsuccessfully to pull her arm back. “That was expensive.”
“You’re Late” he grumbled.
“Let me go,” she tugged her arm again managing to get free. “Who the hell are you?”
The man looked around seeing that they were starting to get an audience, “Mr. Green sent me. You are Miss Beauchamp, yes?”
“Mr. Green didn’t say anyone else was coming,” she had only ever dealt with Anton and assumed he was here by himself.
“He has already left town. This is for you” He removed a thick padded envelope from his jacket pocket and handed it over to her. It was about the size of a pad of paper and way heavier than it looked like it should have been.
“The address is on the back. You're to deliver it at ten-thirty pm sharp.” he started to walk away.
She was still staring at the envelope when she realized what he had just said “Wait, what?” But the man turned back leveling her a stare that could probably make a child cry. Peyton checked the address to find it was across town, in the warehouse district, which was fine, but it was nowhere near any of her previous deliveries. “Sorry, I don’t know where this is.” she managed to mumble.
“Use your phone. Just take to package to the location by 10 pm and don't. Be. Late.”
Three buses later and after stopping several “workers” for directions she managed to get to the delivery location, outside a defunct Chinese restaurant, at 10:25 pm exactly. Where she waited. And waited. And waited. At one point it had started to rain so she took shelter under the doorway, the weather hadn’t forecasted rain so all she was wearing was an anthracite crew-neck and jeans. “I’ll leave at midnight. I will leave at midnight,” she muttered to herself every few minutes under her makeshift shelter. Finally, sick of the dampness she could feel seeping through her clothes she checked her watch one last time and made up her mind. She was not going to stay any longer. She would go home and send Mr. Green a message, take a shower and go to bed. Who cares if her rating on the app goes down, it’s just one guy, she thought to herself as she prepared to dash into the rain.
Hurrying back the way she came, a man, with a hood pulled close around their face, came out from around a corner and stopped in front of her blocking the way. She tried to move around him he mirrored her movements preventing her from moving forward.
“Excuse me,” Peyton asked taking a step back, a little freaked out. The man lifted his head up enough for her to see a smirk poking from under the hood. She took another step back. She stepped on something as she did. Turning to see what she discovered another man standing there, similarly dressed.
In that split second, she decided to run across the street as fast as she could. One of the men grabbed at her as she ran, managing to snatch her bag and she let them have it, unclipping the strap as she went. She ran hard as she could turning randomly down corners, praying that she wouldn’t hit a dead end. She rounded her seventh when she spotted a person across the street.
“Help!” she shouted closing the distance to the stranger “Two men are chasing me, can you help?” She looked at the stranger pleadingly.
The stranger, another man, was dressed in mechanic overalls, holding a newspaper over his head. He looked at Peyton and smiled.
“Only two?” he said, lifting his other arm to show her messenger bag in his hand. Peyton backed away in horror as the two hooded guys just appeared, almost out of thin air, behind the mechanic.
“You know it's rude to say you will do a job and not finish it.” The mechanic started to go through her bag, pulling out the package she was supposed to deliver. She was just about to start running again when one of the hoods grabbed her shoulder.
“Not this time” he hissed in her ear. The mechanic opened the package looked inside and made a low whistle sound.
“Today is not your lucky day Miss Beauchamp,” the mechanic said removing the contents of the envelope. Peyton gasped shocked that he knew her name and at the contents of her delivery, a wicked-looking knife with a gap in the blade.
In a surge of clarity, she regained enough of her senses to remember a move from the self-defense course she took in the spring. Slamming the heel of her foot into the guy holding her , she followed up with an elbow to his stomach, startling him just enough that his grip released and his hood fell to his shoulders, revealing strange tattoos all over his face. Payton started to run again not daring to look behind her as she heard the mechanic yell something, muffled by the rain.
After running for what seemed like an eternity, she was starting to give up hope that she would get out of this alive. Until finally she spotted a diner, through the now torrential rain, neon lights flickering at end of a road filled with packing warehouses. Hearing her pursuers gaining, she willed herself to give one final push and raced for the doors with everything she had left.
She barged through the doors jingling an electronic bell, looking for another person or anything that could help. It was empty. All she could see was an open laptop on one counter and a payphone in the far corner. The door shut behind her as she hobbled to the phone, too winded to even shout for help. Halfway there a mountain man popped his head up from behind the counter wearing an apron and little chef's hat. He gave her a kind smile, then took in her be dragged appearance. He held up both his hands in a peaceful gesture then moved his gaze to the door, just as the three pursuers entered. Peyton not sure what to do shifted her gaze between the men in the diner. The chef started to quickly motion for Peyton to come behind the counter as the mechanic and his goons started to fan out blocking the doors.
“You made a mistake girl, and now two people are going to get hurt,” the mechanic flashed the knife and started to move toward Peyton as she dashed behind the counter hoping the big chef would be able to help her.
The chef started to motion something with his hands at the three men causing one of the hoods the straighten up. “Er boss, maybe we should leave,” he said feebly.
“Quite!” the other hood snapped, “Don’t let her escape you three times!”
The mechanic paid no attention to this exchange only interested in approaching his prey in a slow deliberate motion. He made a leap and landed squarely on the countertop. Raising his knife to slash down. The chef put a protective arm out blocking the mechanic from Peyton while herding her back a step. The mechanic smiled and was just about to jump down when the kitchen door swung open with a squeak, freezing everyone in their tracks.
“You really need to market your pie better Lysander,” An accented voice called as a woman stepped over the threshold into the main dining area. The previously scared hood took one look and disappeared out the door quicker than anything Peyton and ever seen before. The other hood muttered something out at him before turning to look at the newcomer himself. The next thing Peyton knew the hood had rushed forward, grabbing the mechanic off the counter and whisking him out the doors before he had a chance to get any words out.
Peyton had barely even time to blink the whole event that took place so quickly. Shaking out of her stupor she looked at the newcomer, a beautiful woman dressed as though she were attending a ball not eating a slice of pie in a diner in the middle of nowhere. She tucked her auburn hair over her shoulder and looked from the chef to Peyton.
Fatigue hit Peyton like a sledgehammer and the ridiculousness of the situation was just too much. She collapsed to the floor behind the Chef, Lysander.
“Well, that was strange.” The mystery woman casually sat in front of the laptop on the counter, and took a bite of the pie “But seriously Lysander this is a good pecan pie.”