Nancy spoke barely any English. Paul was fine with that; he wasn’t much of a talker. He showed her proudly around the two storey farmhouse his great-grandfather had built on the prairie. Most of the livestock was gone. He’d given over the land to soybean production, paying for the heavy machinery with his cyber security business. People paid handsomely for his discretion and his ability to circumvent prying governmental eyes.
Although it was one of these clients who had led him to Nancy, Paul wasn’t a freak like that guy who stalked Asian women online. He had simply wanted someone who would appreciate the heritage and bounty of his ancestral home, and help him clean it. He hadn’t thought it through much, to be honest, but some problems just serve up a solution before you even know you need it.
Nancy was a country girl from the middle of China, someplace he couldn’t remember and had never learned to pronounce. He knew she would know how to care for the chickens, and keep house, and would probably have some good Chinese remedies for his problematic back.
When they got to the kitchen, she nodded politely at each appliance he pointed out to her. He was a little disappointed she didn’t seem more excited by his sub-zero refrigerator. Maybe they didn’t have those in China. She had a hard time opening it, and then when she shut it, didn’t know there was a timer on it that had to expire before you could open it again. He tried to explain, but she didn’t understand so he left her trying to pull on the door. She would need to bulk up a bit, he thought, eyeing her skinny arms. Not too much though.
Barney had been following them, wagging his tail and nosing her aggressively since she arrived. She didn’t seem afraid of him. That was good. He’d be her company when Paul was working. Also, the dog would keep her in line.
He figured it was time to show her now.
He pulled her by the elbow away from the fridge and beckoned her towards the door. She followed him obediently out and across the yard to the shed.
Barney pushed his way in front of her as she approached the door.
“Down,” Paul barked.
Barney lay down. Paul hooked his collar to a chain attached to the wall, took out his keys and opened the seven locks hidden behind a wooden panel on the shabby door. It swung open and he drew her inside. Her eyes widened as he pointed down the staircase.
He was proud of it. It had taken the workers two years to construct, and five months to dig the bunker six stories down. He’d shipped the stone from the concrete ruins of a Chicago skyscraper. They lined the room at the bottom, and made perfect, smooth steps that spiraled down, each an easy footstep apart.
He turned her toward him and bent down to look her hard in the eye.
“No!” he boomed in her face, then pointed down the stairs.
“Never.” He shook his head.
She vigorously nodded.
He held her a moment more, taking measure of her response before he let out a soft grunt and pushed her back outside, a little less roughly this time.
He locked the bolts and turned to find the barrel of a .40 caliber pistol aimed at his face.
“I’ll need you to unlock those bolts, Mr. Johnson,” Nancy said in perfect English.
“The police are on their way.”