Overview: Cari Porter has just woken up in a motel room. She doesn’t remember anything about her past, how she got there, where she’s going, or even who she is. But she does have a list of names that she has a burning desire to kill.
But those aren’t her only problems. There are also people after her. She doesn’t know them, either. But they’re coming… and they plan to kill her.

 

The Porter Complication by Mike Ryan Book Chapter One

 

She had to kill them. That’s all she knew. She didn’t know why. She didn’t know the circumstances. Hell, she didn’t even know her own name. But as she held the list in her hand, with three handwritten names on it, she knew they had to die. It was such an overwhelming feeling that she knew it had to be true.

She was a pretty woman, average height, with dirty blonde hair and a slim figure. But she couldn’t figure out what she was doing there. She put her hands inside the pockets of her jeans, but nothing was there. As she looked around at her surroundings, it looked like she was in a pretty trashy place. The floor was dirty, the bed was basically just a cot, the lighting was bad with only a single lamp in the room, and she could smell the stench coming from the bathroom, looking like it had not been cleaned in weeks. She put the list down on the bed and walked over to the window and looked out, seeing the motel’s name lit up brightly along the side of the road.

Her head was cloudy and she had a migraine. She sat down on a rickety old chair that looked like it was about to fall apart. It creaked and rocked as she held her head with both hands. She struggled to remember why she was there. Or even how long she’d been there. Nothing was coming back to her. She couldn’t even remember where she was yesterday. As she held both sides of her head, panic started setting in. Why couldn’t she remember anything?

After a few more minutes went by, the pain in her head slowly started to subside. She got out of her chair and started looking around the room, searching for anything that would tell her anything about herself. She looked under the bed for a suitcase, but there was only dust. She rushed into the bathroom, but there wasn’t a single item there that might have been hers. There wasn’t even a bar of soap in the shower stall. She came back out to the nightstand and saw the room key on top of it. She opened the drawer, finding only a pad and pen inside. She double-checked the sheets that were messily thrown around the bed, but there was no other clothing that might have belonged to her.

She glanced back down at the paper that had the three names written on it and picked it up, analyzing it. She then opened the nightstand drawer and grabbed the pen. Leaning on the nightstand, she rewrote the three names on the open lines at the bottom of the four-by-six-inch piece of paper. She compared the handwriting. It wasn’t hers. Whoever originally wrote the names of the three people she knew she had to kill, it wasn’t her. The signatures weren’t even close.

How could this happen to her? How could she not remember a single detail about her life? Her name, her family, her job, what she was even doing there. She couldn’t even remember where she was, other than a seedy hotel room. She looked at the alarm clock on the nightstand, seeing that it was just a few minutes before midnight. Then she thought about the front desk. They must have had a record for when she arrived. A name.

She grabbed her key and walked out the door of her first-floor unit. She glanced around at some of the parked cars, wondering if one of them was hers. None of them looked familiar, though. She saw the light was still on at the management office and walked over to it. She entered the small office, seeing an elderly gentleman sitting behind a desk. She was instantly struck by how dirty and messy the office seemed. Not much different than the rooms they offered.

“Can I help you, ma’am?” the man asked in a thick accent that gave away English wasn’t his native language.

“Uh, yes, can you tell me what time I checked in here?”

The man turned around an opened registry book that was on the desk in front of him and looked through it. It only took a few seconds as he remembered the woman completely.

“Yes, ma’am. You checked in at nine o’clock last night.”

“Nine?” she asked. Fear rushed through her body, wondering where she’d been for the past twenty-four hours. Had she been asleep all that time? Was she in some kind of trouble?

“Are you all right, ma’am?”

“Uh, yes, yes, I’m fine. Do you mind if I take a look?”

The elderly man smiled and spun the book around for her. She immediately found the entry for nine o’clock the previous night. She put her finger on the book and ran it across the line until she got to her name. Cari Porter.

“Cari Porter,” she barely whispered. “My name’s Cari Porter.”

“Are you OK, ma’am?” the man asked, getting a little worried about her condition.

She looked up and smiled at him, nodding that she was. “Uh, I don’t remember, did I call for room service or anything since I’ve been here?”

The man chuckled to himself. “We don’t have room service here, ma’am.”

She rubbed the left side of her head. “Oh, I forgot. I’m sorry.”

“That’s OK, ma’am.”

“Do I still owe you for the room?”

The man shook his head. “No, ma’am. You paid for the room already.”

“How much longer do I have?”

“Until tomorrow.”

“Oh, yes. Thank you. Do you remember if I paid with a card?”

“No, you used cash.”

“Did I have any luggage?”

“Not that I saw, ma’am. Are you sure you’re all right?”

“Yes, I’m fine,” she replied, still rubbing her head. “I just have this nasty headache. I must have drank too much or something.”

The man smiled again, having heard that more times than he could count over the years that he’d owned the place. Cari patted her pockets, pretending to have been looking for something.

“I seemed to have misplaced the key for my car. I didn’t happen to leave it here, did I?”

“You didn’t have a car, ma’am. A taxi dropped you off.”

“Oh, that’s right. How silly of me to forget. Well, thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

After exiting the office, she walked back to her room, muttering her name over and over again, hoping it would feel familiar. “Cari Porter. Cari Porter. My name is Cari Porter.” But it didn’t matter. No matter how many times she said her name, it was no different than hearing the name of a stranger. Her name didn’t jar her mind back to normal or make her remember any memories she had long forgotten. Everything was still a blank slate.

Just before going inside her motel room, she looked back toward the parked cars. A strange feeling had come over her that she was being watched. She looked at each of the cars, but didn’t notice anyone in any of them. She looked back at the road, but there was no traffic. There wasn’t a single sign of life anywhere that she could see. But yet the feeling persisted. It just felt like something was out there, watching her.

Shrugging it off to her paranoia based on her present state, Porter entered her room and turned off the light. Once inside, she immediately went back to the window and looked out for any signs of trouble, not that she really knew what she was looking for. Still, there was nothing. Finally, after thinking she was just going crazy, she went back to the bed and sat down on the edge of it. She wondered what she was going to do next. Where was she going to go? What was she going to do? She had no money, no identification, no destination in mind.

She was about to break down and cry when her head suddenly snapped back toward the door. She thought she heard something. Something was out there. She just sensed it. With her eyes fixated on the door, she saw a small shadow emerge from under the crack of the door. Then her eyes glanced to the window, thinking she saw something pass by the curtain.

Porter then looked around the room in case she needed a weapon to defend herself. There was nothing there, though. Not wanting to be out in the open, she sprinted into the bathroom, getting into the bathtub, hiding behind an old, moldy shower curtain. She stayed still for a few minutes as she waited for what she thought was out there.

After about ten minutes of waiting, nothing happened. Porter let out a deep sigh, relieved and alarmed at the same time. While thankful that no one was out there, she was worried about why she was so afraid that there was. Why would someone be after her? She was a nobody who couldn’t remember a thing about herself.

She reached her hand up and was about to throw back the shower curtain to get out of the tub when she thought she heard the front door opening. Her ears perked up, trying to pick up even the faintest sound. Although whoever it was was being very quiet, Porter thought she detected the sounds of footsteps. Maybe several. It was an old place, and the floorboards weren’t very steady. It would be hard to sneak up on anybody with the creaking of the floor.

After what seemed like a lifetime, but was actually only a couple of minutes, Porter continued waiting in the darkened bathroom. She had intentionally closed the bathroom door so she could hear it open if someone entered. Only a minute later, her worst fears had come true. The bathroom door, like everything else in the room, creaked as it opened. Porter leaned back as her back hit the shower wall. Her eyes opened wide as she waited for the curtains to be peeled back, exposing her to the intruder.

Just as she predicted, the curtains were thrust to the side, exposing a well-built man in a suit. Porter instantly went on the attack. She jumped from the stall on top of him, sending him crashing to the ground. Using moves she didn’t even know she had, she continued whaling away on him. Using a mix of punches, kicks, karate, martial arts, and wrestling, she’d have made any wrestler or MMA combatant proud of her performance.

After assaulting the man for well over a minute, Porter was able to get the man to his feet, then drove him into the porcelain sink with all her might. The man immediately dropped to the floor, out of it before he even knew he was in a fight. Before Porter could even reach the door, she saw another dark figure in the frame of the door. He, too, was dressed in a suit. And before she knew it, she was in another scrap. This guy had the benefit of knowing Porter could fight, not that it made much difference. Much like the first guy she battled, this one would also fall by the wayside. Only a couple minutes into their contest, Porter was finally able to outlast him, dropping the man in the shower stall.

With both men out of commission, Porter stood there in the middle of the bathroom, expecting someone else to appear. After waiting about thirty seconds without another contestant, Porter stuck her head out of the bathroom to survey the main room. It was dark, but she didn’t see anyone else. She stepped out of the bathroom and grabbed the list off the nightstand, then headed for the door.

About halfway to the door, though, she was grabbed from behind. It was the third man of the team. He put his arm around her neck, trying to squeeze the life out of her. Porter struggled for a minute, trying desperately to break free of the man’s grasp. She wasn’t able to do it, though. Just before she was about to be put to sleep permanently, Porter stopped flailing away and let her body fall limp. It was just enough to make the man lighten up on his grip of her. Feeling him lessen the load, Porter did a back kick under the man’s legs, sending him down to one knee in excruciating pain.

Porter quickly got her breath back and returned a few kicks the man’s way, sending him completely to the ground. She jumped on top of him, pounding away at his face with all the might her punches would carry. After another minute, the man wasn’t responding as she continued punching the knocked-out man. Porter hopped up to her feet, looking around, waiting, expecting someone else to challenge her. There was no one else coming, though.

She had a little blood on her face, which she wiped off with her sleeve, then Porter reached down to the third man and started frisking him. She removed the gun that he had stuck in a shoulder holster, thinking it might come in handy for her. With the gun in her hand, she hurried out of the room. Not knowing if anyone else was outside waiting for her, she stuck to the wall, in case a shot rang out in her direction.

Porter stayed motionless for a second, knowing she had to move soon. Those guys inside would get up soon enough. And she had to go. She didn’t know where, she just had to move. Right now, anywhere would suffice.

She ran around the end of the motel, running into a large clump of trees located just behind it. Porter kept turning her head around the entire time she was running, hoping not to see anyone following her. Although she didn’t know who these guys were, she had a feeling it wasn’t the last she would see of them. Whoever they were, or whoever sent them, they would come again. She was sure of that.