Sunday, January 14, 2007

Perchance To Dream (7)

( This is the seventh and final installment of a story which begins here. )

Chapter 7: Do You Dream When You Die?

"What in the hell?" Herbie sat upright in his knapsack. His cell phone was ringing, but it wasn't the normal ring tone he had been using. He glanced at the screen and saw that someone had sent him a text message.
....He read the few lines of text and saved it. Moving to the edge of the roof, he let his eyes follow the path of the road leading to the waterfront warehouse. No one could approach the structure without him first seeing them.
....He rubbed his palms together and sneered. "They will be here soon. After all these years all of us will finally be in same place at the same time. I've been planning this little get together for a long time. It ends here - tonight."

Rhonda scanned the text message and saved it. She nodded to Mae Lee who had been mimicking her actions. "It is done. It's time to keep our appointment," she said calmly.
...."I sure hope he's right." Mae Lee said, "If this doesn't work..."
...."Hush! It will. I'm sure of it," Rhonda winked. "Remember, there's safety in numbers."
....They began to walk once again. They hurried to their car parked around the corner.

He laughed as he saved the message. "So, they thought they could trap me, did they? They aren't as smart as they think."
....He'd expected them to use an alternate pre-programmed frequency. Anticipating such a plan, he'd kept his phone open to Rhonda's phone. Anything sent to her phone would result in the simultaneous transmission to his. He mused a moment and realized that they would probably be able to track the use of his phone also. It turned out he hadn't given them enough credit after all.
....Returning the cell phone to his pocket, he turned his attention to the women. Grabbing the briefcase he climbed out of his car and hurried across the street after them. He was undaunted by the sudden rain that began to fall.
....They had just reached the car when they heard footsteps rushing in their direction. Frozen, Mae Lee was struck by the man's first shot. She fell in a heap onto the sidewalk.
...."Mae Lee!" Rhonda cried out. A second shot rung out and she felt the air shattered near her ear as the bullet passed by. She turned and began to run toward any alley not ten yards away.
....He paused a moment and regarded the fallen figure before him. He nudged the body with his foot. There was no movement. His face was grim, for until that moment he'd managed to keep his hands clean. In his mind he thought he could hear "Eye Of The Tiger." He suddenly felt an adrenalin rush from his first hands on kill.
....He set the briefcase down next to the body and said, "Mind keeping an eye on this for me, honey?" Laughing aloud he ran to the entrance of the alley.
....The rain had increased in intensity making visibility difficult at best. Rhonda had hidden behind a row of trash cans. The tears streaming down her cheeks were discernible in the deluge of driven rain. A chill had run up her spine when she'd heard his malicious laughing. That he was now stalking her could only mean one thing, that Mae Lee was dead.
....A sudden gust of wind toppled the barricade of trash receptacles onto her. The clamor of aluminum cans and their lids caught his attention. He moved furtively in the direction of the noise. He grinned in satisfaction as he made out the facade of a building. The woman had run into a blind alley. There was only one way out.

Herbie had been sprinting in the direction of the gun shot for several minutes. None of them had made it to the warehouse. Something had gone wrong. He estimated that he had to be about six blocks away from where the shot had originated. He prayed he was in time.

"Damn!" Milton moaned. He cursed the rain as he ran as fast as his feet and legs could carry him. The sudden weather front must have been affecting the signal. His only hope was that the closer he got to where the shot had been fired, the program could be activated.
....He could only assume that they had received his text message to switch their phones to speaker mode, and under no circumstances were they to answer their phones! He had nothing to go on but faith that they would believe his warning that their stalker was none other than Rheinberg.

Herbie knew the last part of the message was a lie. Other than he, none of them knew that Rheinberg was dead, except for his killer. There was a reason that they were instructed to switch to speaker. He was going to transmit a message to cloud their minds. He had no way to warn them. What was Milton up to?

She hated Shakespeare! Why was that damned soliloquy popping up in her mind? She felt a sudden tingling coursing through her body. There were voices, many voices calling out to her. It was as if they were lying next to her in the rising water of the alley. No, not next to her, but within her head. Their thoughts and his were merging with her own thoughts.
....They were next to her! They were crawling over her legs. Rats! Tears in her eyes, she fought the screams welling in her throat.
....Before her everything was shimmering. An image seemed to be projecting from somewhere beyond into her mind. She was naked upon a stone altar, a living sacrifice to the stalking great cats. The leaping fish ...The floating gun ... All so familiar.
....The realization brought to her a sense of new found-hope. The image, the picture was a painting prominently displayed in Dr. Rheinberg's office. The hope faded as quickly as it had entered her mind, replaced with more frightening images.
....She was naked upon a desk, that painting on the wall behind him. Ten years ago the face hovering above her had belonged to Milton. It wasn't Milton who'd been thrusting himself into her. Her subconscious mind was purging itself, removing the veils that Dream Lover had painted in her mind. Rheinberg had been raping her and probably Mae Lee too. It angered her to wonder how many times the son of a bitch may have been violating their minds and bodies.
....Suddenly, she saw herself in a surreal dreamlike image, not from her own senses, but as a projected and shared thought from another. She had been found. Then, as if from the perspective of the onlooker, the barrel of a pistol appeared. It was aimed at her prone body. She could feel the pressure on the trigger in her own fingers.

Herbie could see Milton a few yards ahead of him. In the driving rain he somehow found renewed stamina to run even faster. He caught up to him at the entrance to the alley. Just before he could grab onto him he saw that he had pressed something in his hand.
....Herbie dropped to his knees succumbing to a high pitched scream of hypersonic waves of energy particles. He lay writhing cupping his ears to no avail. So intense the pain he didn't feel the killing blow that crushed his skull.
....On the lam from Federal drug charges, it had been easy enough to "convince" Herbert that he was in fact a secret agent. His perceived mission had been to stop a covert operation designed to overthrow the government. He almost felt sorry for the man.

Even as she fought the pain in her head caused by the intense frequency, she felt compelled to watch the flight of the bullet. She was mesmerized, watching in fascination as it seemed to move in slow motion at her. She was able to watch it appear to grow larger as it drew near. She had but a trice to feel the projectile tear into her forehead.

The shooter had squeezed the trigger at the same instant that his brain felt like it was on fire. He collapsed face first into the rising water next to Rhonda's body. The blood pouring from his ears, the result of a massive aneurysm, mixed with that of the woman and turned the water into a crimson pool.

Milton shut off the power to the PDA. He walked over to the car and picked up the briefcase. He looked over to see Mae Lee sitting against the car, a broad smile on her face. He offered his hand and pulled her to her feet.
...."I see you followed my message to turn your phone off," he said to her.
....She threw her arms around his shoulders and planted a kiss upon his cheek. She backed away and looked up at him, "What took you so long?"
...."This damned rain was interfering with the signal. It took me a while to run here. What can I say? I'm out of shape."
....She pointed to the stalker's body. "Say, who was he anyway?"
...."Who was he? My lawyer," he replied. "When he found out about Dream Lover and its potential, he got greedy. He wanted it all."
...."You're so clever. You played him. You let him think he was in control of the situation?"
....Milton nodded, "Yep! In the end he made things a lot easier than I had planned."
....Giggling she opened her blouse and cupped her breasts. "What do think of these babies, honey?"
....His PDA began to vibrate. He grinned as he read the brief message from his partner.
Mission accomplished. Fifty/fifty? - Milton Sinclair
....He help up the PDA and pressed a key, "Nice! But they aren't yours."
....Before her eyes Milton's face shimmered and morphed into that of her boyfriend, Jimmy. He watched bemused as the same shimmering effect transformed Mae Lee's face to her true one. "It's so good to see you again, my beautiful Misty."
....As they kissed long and hard he thought only briefly of the real Mae Lee. It was ironic that just like Misty, she too had been deathly afraid of snakes.
....He bent to pick up the briefcase. "There's five hundred grand in here, what do you say we go buy you that boob job?"
...."You mean it? You really mean it, Jimmy?"
...."Sure," he grinned. "Then we're going to one of those islands and sip on some of those drinks with the funny little umbrellas."
....She looked around at the three bodies. A serious look on her face she asked, "Do you dream when you die?"
....He extended his arm and they walked away from the alley. He answered her question only to himself, "Who knows? Maybe you'll find out sooner than you think."

Smiling, he patted the PDA in his pocket and then Rheinberg thought, "So what if she thinks I'm Jimmy?"

"To die, to sleep; to sleep! Perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub."


Jack K. said...

Well, I'll be. I never thought of that outcome.

O'Henry has nothing on you.

Great tale.

I suspect there will be another one sometime.

Thanks for sharing your art.

I look forward to your next endeavor.

Peter said...

There were enough twists and deviations in there to keep everyone (including you) guessing right up to the end.
Well written Mike.

Hale McKay said...

Jack - I was wrestling with with about 5 or six possible endings - who survived and who didn't ? - whether the whole thing was a dream or not ? - alternate realities ? - happy ending or tragic ending ? - I typed and deleted and retyped and deleted again the last half of the final chapter several times.

In fact, there were three more paragraphs which would have resulted in another ending - that were deleted not five minutes before I finally clicked "publish."

Jack K. said...

That addition did add to the story.

Thanks for letting me know.

Scary Monster said...

Fun stuff. Me had a great time reading it! Will have to go back from the beginning and do it again in one sitting.


Serena Joy said...

One heck of a good story, Mike, with a genuine O Henry ending. Bravo!

Raggedy said...

Well done!
Great story and thank you for sharing it with us.

Have a wonderful day!
(=':'=) hugs
(")_ (")Š from
the Cool Raggedy one

Hale McKay said...

O'Henry? Wow. Two comparisons to O'Henry! Now that's lofty praise.

Heck, I would have settled for Rod Serling.

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