Race To Mystery - Chapter 5

It seemed that just as they had gone up in the plane, they were descending again. Soon after they landed at Kuala Lumpur international airport. They collected their baggage and tried to locate the train terminal, whilst also exchanging some currency. They did two whole laps of the airport before deciding to ask the information booth. They were directed to the train station, which involved leaving the terminal and going into another building where the station was located. Even though it was nearly nine pm local time, it was unbearably hot.

“How do people live in these places? Seriously” said Chris, wiping his forehead.

“No idea. Probably why they are all so thin”

“Mate we need to set up a business selling water here. We would clean up. What was the station we need to get off at?”

“It's called Bandar Tasik Selatan. We get off there and get on another train, going towards Seramban, and get off at our station, Kajang. It's only a short walk to the hotel from there”

They sorted out their tickets and soon their train arrived. It was similar to the trains that they caught in Singapore, and they were relieved to find that it had air conditioning. The three men got off at Bandar station and asked which platform the Seramban train would depart from. One of the staff at the airport pointed them toward a platform, showing the number three with his fingers. The train arrived almost immediately and they got on board. They got off at the second station and had a look around. Dean was smiling, filming them.

“Mate this isn't right” said Brett.

“What do you mean”

“This station should be Kajang. Look it says Salak Selatan”

“Did we get off to early?”

“Nope, second station. I think we got on the wrong train. Shit Shit Shit”

“Not to worry. We will just catch one back to that Bandar place” replied Chris.

“Yeah. Dammit, what a waste of time”

“Not to worry. Hey look, there's a load of taxis just out here. It shouldn't cost us too much to get there from here should it?”

“You are right. There is no train for about twenty minutes. Let's go and ask”

They approached the first taxi in the rank and showed him the address of the hotel. “Yes, Yes, 15 ringgit”

“How much is that?” asked Chris.

“Around five dollars, maybe a bit less” said Brett. “Let's do it”

The three of them climbed in and soon they were on their way. The taxi driver didn't turn on the meter, obviously this fare was going straight into the pocket. Brett was totally disoriented, he wasn't sure which way they were going, he did notice however that the crowds were getting lighter and there were not as many street lights in this section of the city.

“This place looks a bit dead. Where are we staying, a farmhouse?” said Chris, laughing.

“Hey mate” said Brett to the taxi driver. “We want to go to Kajang. Is this the way to Kajang?”

“Kajang, yes” he said, pointing towards his left. He took a left turn at a set of lights and started to head down what looked like a semi rural road. They had been in the taxi a good twenty minutes now, they should have been there in less than ten, according to Brett's calculations. This was obviously the old run around to squeeze out some more money.

“Hey mate. 15 ringgit That's it, no more”

“Yes yes, 15 ringgit” said the taxi driver.

Dean had been quiet the whole time. “Ok, enough is enough. Hey mate” he tapped the driver on the shoulder. “Back to the train station. This is the wrong way”

“Kajang, this way” said the driver and turned off the road into a side street.

Dean went to grab the driver, but before he could he had turned into an open roller door in what looked like a factory. Chris jumped out of the front seat and opened his door, only to have it slammed shut by someone. “Stay in there”

The taxi driver got out and uttered a few words in Malay, and there were now at least half a dozen men outside of the taxi. The driver was talking to them in an animated fashion.

“Ok mate, here's what we do” Dean said to Brett. “I'm not sure what's going on, but I think they are going to rob us or something. Best we just give them whatever cash we got, most likely they will just drop us somewhere remote and piss off. I've been here before, just follow my lead”

“Nah, no way. I reckon we jump them” said Chris. “Six of them, three of us, not too bad”

“They may be armed” said Dean. “Not worth the risk mate”

“Yeah I agree with Dean” said Brett. Lets just give them what they want. It's not worth it”

“Just relax and follow my lead, like I said” said Dean in a low voice.

One of the men opened the front passenger door, and another the passenger side rear door. “This way” one of them said, with a heavy accent.

It was dark in the factory, and Brett thought he could smell sawdust or timber. There were two men leading the way, and three or four were behind them. They heard the taxi start it's engine and drive out. “Shit, our bags” said Chris.

“Don't worry about them. Just keep alert” said Dean.

They exited another roller door and were now into what looked like a stock yard. In the distance there was a small building, perhaps an office of sorts, and there was a dim light coming from behind one of the windows. The men leading them said nothing, and they were told to stop outside of the building. One of the men leading them entered the building, and returned shortly after with another man.

This one spoke better English. “In here. Please keep quiet so we don't have to shoot you”

They followed him into a corridor. There was a little light, and Brett could make out a desk and chairs in one of the rooms on his left, but it looked like it hadn't been used for a while. They stopped at the end of the corridor, and the man who spoke to them last said some words in Malay. “Your pockets. Empty them”

“Ok mate, take it easy” said Brett and took out his phone, wallet, and other odds and ends he had in his pocket. He had stashed some US dollars in the inner pocket of his jacket, but he let that go. If they got out of here they would need some money to get back to some sort of civilisation. One of the men took all of their possessions and disappeared back down the hallway. The man in front then opened the door and they walked into a room, maybe it was a meeting room or such as there was a large table in the middle of the room and chairs stacked in the corner and a television screen which was on but only showing a blank blue screen. The whole place looked pretty eerie, and Brett did not feel good about it at all. A couple of the minders started to put some chairs around the table and they were directed to sit down.

They sat down and the two men, who appeared to be leaders of the group, sat down across from them. The light switch was flicked and the fluorescent light slowly came to life. The men sitting across from them were both small in stature, one was clean shaven and was probably in his thirties and the other, the one who had spoken to them in English had a trimmed, light beard and would have been in his fifties. They both appeared to be of Malaysian descent. Dean put his head in his hands and shook his head.

“Nice to see you again Dean, it's been a long time”

Dean just looked at him and said nothing. The man with the beard turned to Brett and Chris. “So who are you gentleman?”

“I'm Brett. This is Chris. Mind telling us what is going on. You obviously know Dean. Dean do you want to tell us anything? Shit”

Again Dean remained quiet. The man in the beard continued. “My name is Izzat and this is my partner Atan. I am from the Malaysian Special Branch, and Atan here is from the Royal Malaysian Police”

“Police? What the hell have we done? Besides this is not a police station. I call bullshit” said Chris. He was getting visibly angry now.

“This is a police station of sorts” Izzat continued. “So do you want to tell us why you two” pointing at Brett and Chris “Are working with this guy” pointing at Dean.

“We are here on a television program, it's like a race across all of these different cities. Dean is our cameraman”

“Interesting” said Izzat. “And tell me Dean, you came walking into Malaysia after what you did last time? Are you stupid or do you take us for fools?”

Dean continued to remain silent, and looked forward, not making eye contact.

“This has nothing to do with us. Why are we here anyway?” said Chris.

“Be patient. We will have to check your story, how do we know you aren't working with this guy”

“I told you we were. He is our cameraman” said Brett.

“Do you want to tell them, or should I?” asked Izzat, looking at Dean. “Looks like he doesn't want to talk. Ok, your friend or cameraman or whatever you want to call him has been to Kuala Lumpur before. He was supposed to be a cameraman then too. Except he and his colleagues decided to steal money and jewellery from from a politician they were interviewing. On their way out they severely injured one of his personal bodyguards and killed the other one when they struck him with a car when trying to escape. He and his friends have been on our wanted list for over ten years now”

“You are kidding me. What the hell Dean?” asked Chris.

“That's not how it happened, but it makes little difference now hey” said Dean, finally deciding to speak. “We asked some questions about the recent student uprisings. The security guards tried to take our camera and threatened us with violence. We made a run for it and one of the reporters pushed the security guard. He fell over and hit his head on the balcony. We jumped in our car and tried to get away, but the other security guard drew his gun and jumped in front of the car. I had no option. We didn't steal anything”

“Highly unlikely” said Izzat. If that was the case you would have used your video footage to clear your name. Instead you went straight to Singapore and escaped from there”

“It seems you have your mind made up. I want a lawyer”

“Haha, what do you think this is? America? A hollywood movie? No lawyer. You will tell me where the others are, and we will stay here until you do. How is that for a lawyer?”

“Mate it's obvious you have an issue with this guy here” Brett said, nodding towards Dean. “What have we got to do with it?”

“We had to be sure you wern't involved with this. We will call this television station of yours tomorrow morning and make some enquiries. But for now you will be our guest, right here. Atan, take 'Dean' here to the other room for further questioning. Then go and get something to eat and drink for our other guests”

Atan nodded and escorted Dean out of the room. Brett and Chris were left sitting there, in disbelief. “Sorry for the trouble. You will get some food and once we confirm who you are, you will be free to go” said Izzat, and also left the room.

“Well I'll be buggered” said Chris. “I'm glad we didn't try anything”

“Yeah, how about Dean hey? I wonder what will happen to him? He did look a bit dodgy hey”

“He is in a world of trouble mate. I don't think he will leave Malaysia for a while. A Malaysian jail wouldn't be pleasant hey”

“Not wrong. So what happens to us? No cameraman, nothing. Are we out of the race?”

“No idea. I'm just glad these guys wern't religious fanatics or kidnappers. I guess we will find out more in the morning” said Brett.

They sat and waited, and it wasn't long until Atan returned with bottles of water and fruit juice along with some chicken and vegetable wraps of some kind and vegetable chips. They were both hungry and ate quickly. “Well at least that feed didn't cost us anything hey” said Chris jokingly.

Brett was also starting to get his sense of humour back. “Yup. We just need to get out of here before eight tonight”

The minutes passed like hours. It was now silent besides the hum from the fluorescent light above. Brett wondered what my have happened to Dean, but it wouldn't be pleasant either way. Maybe he told them what they needed to know and have already taken him elsewhere. So many questions, so few answers. His thoughts were shattered by Chris. “Surely they would tried to call someone at the network, it's open twenty four hours for god's sake”

“You would think so. They are probably trying to get to the bottom of it”

More minutes passed, and finally Izzat returned to the room. “Mr Dawson, Mr Stevens” he said, nodding. He put all of their personal effects on the table. “We have made contact with the television network and they have confirmed your story. The Malaysian Police Force would like to apologise for the inconvenience, and thank you for your cooperation”

“So we can go?” asked Chris. “What about or stuff?”

“All of your bags are here. We can take you to your hotel with one of our vehicles if you wish. Unfortunately your cameraman cannot join you”

“Yeah that would be great” said Brett, relieved. “But we need to speak to someone at the network, as this has changed everything for us”

“I will get you a telephone, give me a moment” said Izzat and left the room again.

“Everything there?” Brett asked Chris.

“Yeah mate, all the cash, passports, telephones”

“Sweet” said Brett and Izzat returned into the room with what looked like a satellite phone.

“Here you are. The car is waiting for you, and your bags are on board. Unfortunately we have to keep the camera for evidence purposes”

“No worries, thanks” said Brett.

He looked through his mobile phone and eventually found Rebecca's number. He dialled the number. “Hello, Rebecca speaking”

“Hi Rebecca, it's Brett here”

“Oh Brett, I was trying to call your number. Are you guys ok?” she sounded relieved.

“Ok I guess, for what it's worth”

“Good to hear. Look we are sorry, we had no idea”

“Nothing you could have done. So what now?”

“I will had a quick talk to Michael just now. He said he will sort it all out, you guys can choose to continue or come home. We can get you home today if you want”

“I'm not sure really. I will discuss it with Chris”

“Well don't worry, I have spoken to the lead officer there, they are taking you to the city to another hotel, somewhere nice apparently. He was happy that you guys cooperated and didn't cause them problems. Best thing to do now is go to the hotel and sleep. Give me a call when you wake up and Michael will be here all day, we can do a conference call with him and you guys can decide what you want to do”

“Ok, sure, thanks Rebecca, we will talk to you later then”

Brett handed the phone back to Izzat and followed him out of the room. It was now light, and they could now see that this was indeed some sort of abandoned factory, their were timber lathes and saws in the main factory and sawdust all over the ground. They turned left and walked down another corridor and went out into the street, where a dark coloured car was waiting for them, it looked like a Mercedes. Izzat shook each of their hands, apologised again and they got into the car. It was already hot and the air conditioning in the luxury car was pure heaven. Brett fell asleep almost immediately after they left, and only awoke when they came to a stop and Chris nudged him. “Mate, we're here”.

Brett found it difficult to open his eyes. They were outside of the lobby of a hotel. The driver took their bags out of the boot of the car and motioned for them to follow him. Brett had most of his faculties back and had a look around. The name of the hotel was the Shangri-La, and it oozed money and opulence. The lobby was paved in marble, and there were leather lounges with coffee tables, television screens and aquariums. They got to the counter and the driver spoke to the girl in Malay, then left. “Hi gentlemen, my name is Shaya, welcome to the Shangri-La” she said in almost perfect English.

“Hi” said Brett and Chris, almost in unison.

“Now I believe you will be here one night, maybe longer. We have got you each an executive room, you will be up in the twenty second floor”

“Wow, nice, thanks” said Brett.

“No problem. Someone will be down shortly to show you to your room and help with your bags. We have a choice of four restaurants, you can find lists and menus in your room. If you need help with anything, please give me a call”

A young man arrived and took both of their bags. “Please follow me” he said.

They went into the lift and soon after arrived on their floor. The porter opened up Chris's room first. “Mate I am going to crash. Just knock on my door if you don't hear from me”

“Yeah no worries mate. I will do the same I reckon”

Brett entered his room and it felt like he was in Buckingham Palace. The room was almost all white. Plush white carpets, white lounge and curtains. There was a separate living area, a huge plasma television, a desktop computer and a printer. There were one large curved window that gave him a panoramic view of the south side of Kuala Lumpur. He left the living area and walked into the bedroom, and was no less impressed. In the middle of the room there was the biggest bed he had ever seen, which was also decked out in white, another television, two double built in robes and a large full height window looking out over the city. Even though this was all great, all he wanted to do was go to bed and sleep. He decided to have a shower and then do so, and he fell asleep so quickly that he could not even remember his head hitting the pillow.

Brett woke up with a start, and for a moment did not remember where he was. He finally gathered his thoughts and checked the time, it was just before two pm. He got dressed and decided to go and see what Chris was up to. He knocked on his door and Chris answered. He too looked like he had just woken up.

“How did you sleep mate?” asked Brett.

“Mate that was unbelievable. How about these rooms hey”

“I know, unreal hey? What are you up to? Should we give Sydney a call?”

“Yeah it might be an idea. Are you still keen to keep going?”

“Absolutely. I mean it was pretty shit, but I can see why it happened. And they didn't treat us too badly”

“Yeah I agree. I reckon we keep going. We will just see what Michael has to say. We can do it from here hey, I will make us coffee”

Brett went inside and soon after found the paperwork which had the phone number for the network. Chris was back with coffee and Brett dialled the number and put it on speaker phone. He spoke to the receptionist and they soon connected them to Michael.

“Hello, Michael speaking”

“Hi Michael, it's Brett and Chris”

“Oh, hi boys” his voice sounded relieved. “I was beginning to worry. How are you guys? Are you ok?”

“We are all good mate” said Chris. “We just had a nap. Didn't really get to sleep last night. Some sort of Malaysian tradition apparently”

Michael chuckled “Yeah mate. All jokes aside, we would really like to apologise. We did all the checks but we weren't aware he had a warrant over there. Even the federal police weren't aware. So what happened? Do you want to make a complaint? I can get the consulate there to talk to you if you like”

“Nah mate, they didn't do us any harm. It was pretty understandable what went down really. So it all started when we got on the wrong train” Brett gave Michael blow by blow account of what happened, right down to when they arrived at the Shangri-La.

“Mate, that's unbelievable. Still lucky, it could have been much worse. So what do you guys want to do? We can work out a strategy so you can keep going, or we can get you home tonight if you like”

“Mate we had a chat, we are happy to keep going” said Chris.

“I thought you would. Ok, this is what I had planned. I got a text from Dean last night saying you landed at 8.15pm local time last night. I am not meant to tell you but you were two hours in front of anyone else at the time”

Chris looked at Brett and smiled.

Michael continued “So this is what I think. You guys are disadvantaged because you haven't been able to book your next flight yet. But on the flip side you have had free food and a free hotel while you have been there. So if you want to continue that works out fair, you probably end up in front. I can arrange for another cameraman to join you in Thailand tomorrow and we will get someone local from our sister station there for tonight and tomorrow morning. So what do you think?”

“Sounds good to me” said Brett. “What do you reckon Chris?”

“All good mate, I'm sweet with that”

“Excellent. You guys can go on with what you are doing then. I will arrange a new cameraman to come and meet you before you shoot off. If there are any problems, give me a call any time. Here is my mobile number”

“Well that worked out well” said Chris. “I will fire up the laptop, we can do out bookings. Then have a big feed at the restaurant while it's free. What do you reckon?”

“Sounds like a plan” said Brett, winking.

They started to search for flights, but with little luck. There were two flights out of KL that night, however both were expensive, one was around 350 Australian dollars each, and the other 380. There was a flight early in the morning for only 90 dollars.

“What do you reckon?” asked Brett.

“Hard one. We saved money for this hotel but we paid for the other one already. And I bet the others got these flights cheaper. Maybe check to see what flights there are tomorrow night from Bangkok to Tokyo. If there are no flights, we may as well just catch the morning one”

They checked, and there was only one flight from Bangkok to Tokyo late the next night, and that was almost bang on the 24 hour mark, so if the flight tonight was only a few minutes late it would be out of the equation.

“Looks like the morning flight with Malaysia Airlines mate” said Brett.

“Damn, does that mean we are stuck in this terrible, terrible hotel for another night? What a shame”

Brett laughed. “Mate you can go that one star place we had booked in Kajang if you like. Hot and cold running cockroaches and all. Maybe an abduction thrown in for free. How does this hotel look? It's not far from the airport?”

“I will stay, but only because you will be scared here by yourself. Yeah mate, sounds good. What's the landmark we need a photo in front of?”

“Wat Arun I think it is called. The temple of dawn. It's just on the other side of the city centre, across the river. We are staying at Bang Kapi, it will take about half an hour”

“Sweet, sounds good. Meet you for dinner around sixish then hey”

At that moment, there was a knock on the door. “This might be our new cameraman” said Brett.

Chris opened the door, and it was indeed their new cameraman. He introduced himself as Hamza, he was tall and skinny, and would have been around 25 years old. They had a quick chat and gave him the flight details and soon he was gone.

“I wonder who is after this guy?” laughed Chris.

“Mate, nothing would surprise me”

Thankfully for both Brett and Chris, the night went uneventfully. They had a nice seafood dinner down at one of the restaurants and were back in their rooms before eight o clock. They arranged to meet downstairs in the lobby at 5.30am, their flight was at 7.45am, so they had plenty of time to get to the airport.

Brett went downstairs at five am to have some breakfast and found Chris was already there. They both helped themselves to the buffet and ate as much possible. They went out to the lobby and Hamza was waiting for them. “Morning mate” said Chris.

“Good morning” said Hamza, and then walked outside.

“Cheerful bloke hey”

“A barrel of laughs” said Brett, shaking his head.

They walked outside and it was very warm, and the typical haze that they were now used to was already setting in. They found a taxi and headed for the airport. As they approached, the traffic started to get heavier and heavier, the sound of horns, trucks, buses. It was nearly 6.30 when they arrived at the airport. If they thought the traffic was bad, the airport was absolute pandemonium.

They headed to the terminal, and they could see people walking away, shaking their heads. It was so crowded they couldn't even get into the terminal, it was obvious something was amiss. There was a police officer outside of the terminal trying to dictate the traffic, but having no luck at all. Hamza walked up to him and had a few words, shook his head, and came back.

“The computers are down. No flights going anywhere since last night” he said in broken English.

“Shit. Shit, what do we do?” asked Chris.

“We try and push our way in and see how long it will take I guess”

They tried to do that, and after what seemed like forever, they got near the Malaysian Airlines customer service desk. All of the flight screens had delayed next to their name, nothing was moving. There were several people in uniform talking to travellers. There was a lot of arm waving and shoulder shrugging going on. Eventually Brett got hold of one of the men from the airline. “Hi mate, just wondering what is going on with flight MH220 to Bangkok”

“Sorry sir. Computer systems are down. It is delayed”

“I realised that. How long do you think?”

“The system went down at ten o clock last night. There are already over 80 flights delayed. Best case, six to eight hours”

“Yes, that is assuming we fix the computers now, so it will probably be a lot longer than that”

“Damn. So should we stay or go back to town?”

“Up to you. But I can't guarantee when your flight will leave”

“Fair enough, thanks anyway”

Brett found the others and told them the bad news. “So do you want to go back to town? Or wait here?”

“I reckon we wait mate. Once they get going it will probably be fast, lets not miss our flight. We can just find somewhere to sit and chill for a while”

They walked around the outer section of the terminal but it was jam packed. They finally found somewhere to sit down when a family of four had enough of the kids going crazy and decided to move on. They plonked their bags down and settled in for the long wait. Brett homed in on the airport's free wifi and decided to do some more research for the Tokyo leg. Periodically one of them would get up and walk around, checking for updates, finding none. They took turns to go and buy coffee and snacks and it was past two pm when the computer system was back up. Their flight had been rescheduled to 8.15pm, pretty much 12 hours delayed. There was not much else to do but wait.

Meanwhile at another part of the airport, another three men were sitting down waiting for flight MH220. They were not too worried about the delay, one could almost say they were actually quite pleased. “So you have talked to Naim, and also to the engineer, Rahul. All good right?” asked the shorter, bald man.

“Yes everything is fine” replied the younger man sitting on the far side of the bench. “Like clockwork”.

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