By sticking to the backstreets Susan and I had managed to slip underground into the subway system. From there we were able to make it to South Station without seeing another police officer. I handed her a fifty dollar bill and sent her to the ticket window to purchase two one-way tickets to the town of Franklin. In the meantime, I visited a gift shop and purchased one of those pay-as-you-go cell phones which was fully charged and included sixty minutes of air time.
Once we were on the train I plopped down into one of the bench-like leather seats and motioned to Susan to take the other one so that we would be facing each other. I handed her the plastic bag containing the phone I'd purchased and asked, "Would you mind setting this up? I'm not too tech savvy, if you know what I mean."
"I don't mind," she replied, a faint smile appearing at the corners of her mouth. "Mr. Bering ... Ben ... why Franklin? What's down there?"
"A friend's house," I answered. "I stay there sometimes when I want to get away. The house is empty Monday through Thursday. My friend only works at a diner on the weekends. We've had that arrangement for years. Then there's the added bonus that I can keep an eye on the property for her."
"Her?" she asked. "I see ..."
"No! It's nothing like that all," I asserted. "Rosie is my ex-wife's sister. I'll call her when we get to the house and let her know we are there." I was relieved that she seemed to accept it, although I wasn't sure why I felt I needed to defend myself.
I picked up my feet and put them on the seat next to her and pressed my head against the headrest. "Look, I haven't had any sleep in almost thirty hours. This might be the only chance I have to catch a few Z's for a while. Wake me when we arrive at the Franklin station." I glanced in her direction and whispered, "Please?"
As I was drifting off and before sleep set in I tried to reconstruct what had been happening to me ever since I had opened that e-mail. It seemed so long ago. Perhaps there was something I was forgetting, something that may have seemed unimportant. My thoughts drifted to my meeting with Mr. Black at his apartment. There were his and Michelle's research ... The government's interest ... The steamy videos ...
I paced the floor in front of my enigmatic host, Mr. Black. By his own confession Michael Black, however, was not Michael Black. I glanced at him on one of my passes and decided that his true identity wasn't really important at that moment. I'd come to the conclusion that the less I knew, the less I had to worry about my continued good health.I opened my eyes with a start. My eyes came into focus on the green eyes of Susan who was tapping my shoulder. "The next stop is Franklin, Ben."
"Tell me," I said standing still, my arms crossed against my chest, "Besides your true identity, what else are you not telling me? What are you holding back?"
"Nothing," he responded. "Well,...Except for what's on the final disc."
I nodded, "I figured that if you disregarded Mr. X's directives, kept some of the discs and are discussing your work with me, then you must have also conducted some more tests, if for no other reason than to pick up where you left off when the Professor buzzed your door."
"Yes," he nodded, "there was a continuation of our tests. There were several more tests. We had to be certain that our findings were substantiated. We also wanted copies for proof of our work as well as the results. We didn't want the government, or whoever they were, to take our work and leave us with nothing."
"...Therefore underwriting your own life insurance policies, eh?" I directed at him.
"What? What do you mean?" he implored wide eyed.
"Don't play the naive undergrad with me, Michael. You must have realized that if they knew you'd made copies, or even suspected that you had, they would want them! Leave us face it, without the possibility of you having copies of those files ... both of you are expendable." I began pacing before him again while I continued, "Of course, they wouldn't want word of your research being made public, would they? If I were to agree to write up your story, would I not be placing myself in their cross hairs?"
"Ben, aren't you being a little dramatic? You don't really think the government would kill innocent people? Do you?" He produced a cigarette from his shirt pocket, lit it and asked again, "Well, do you?"
"Let me put it this way," I answered, "I believe that our government should be seen and not heard." I returned to the sofa and glanced back at him and said, "You said there was another disc?"
The video began as the previous one had, with the naked couple outfitting each other with the sensory device upon their heads. They checked and double checked all the connections and then positioned themselves on the cot. As before, he lie on his back and she straddled him. It took only a few minutes for their actions to reach a frenzied state.
The woman paused for a moment and stared down at the supine man beneath her. "Yes. Yes it does feel good, Michael."
Stunned, he looked up at her. "You ... you heard ... read what I was thinking? Just exactly what did I say ... er, think?"
She relaxed atop him and leaned forward until her lips touched his. "You said ... You were thinking ... 'Damn, Michelle. That feels so good!' ... Your words ... were loud in my head as if you actually spoke them."
She slowly raised her hips and then lowered them. She giggled and repeated the process several more times. She whispered, "What am I thinking right now?"
He looked up at her and grinning replied, "Why, thank you. You said in your thoughts, 'What a nice penis he has.' A man always like to hear that."
Her face became flushed and she said to him, "I didn't think the word penis. Now shut up and think dirty to me."
The couple on the screen froze. Michael smiled as he looked upon the puzzled look on my face. "You must have a comment. Ben?"
"You don't expect me to believe that you and she were actually 'hearing' or reading the thoughts of the other? It's not possible," I uttered before lapsing into troubling thoughts. "I was skeptical, as it was, about your claims that you were able to sense or to feel emotions. Now, I'm faced with the possibility of ... telepathy?"
"I assure you, Ben, that is exactly what happened to us," he said spreading his arms before me. "...And it wasn't an isolated effect. We repeated the experiment several times that evening. The more intense the emotional signals within our brains, the easier it was for us to communicate to the other ... without speaking!"
I tapped into the troubling thoughts that had been bouncing around in my head, "This research in the government's hands ... under military control ..." I rose and began to pace again. "The possibilities, the ramifications of all this ... It's very ... unsettling."
He raised the remote and said, "The next scene is our final test. It was after this, that we decided to contact you. You will see what happens when our equipment is calibrated too fine. You might say we that we nearly overdosed on the heightened emotional impulses."
"You can OD on a sexual climax? Whew. Didn't you see that coming."
He ignored my misguided pun. "By the time we were engaged in this test, we found that we were able to carry on a lengthy 'conversation.' In fact, we were discussing how we could stop Mr. X from usurping our work and all traces of it."
The couple on the video began to exhibit the expected spasms of simultaneous climax. The two of them cried out during what must been one incredible mutual release. There was a sudden flicker of the lights within the lab. The diodes on their headpieces were racing at a dizzying pace. The faces of both the man and woman seemed to be contorted as if they were in great pain. Somewhere off camera there was the crackling sound of overloaded circuitry. In the next moment Michelle fell backward, still linked with him. Their sweat drenched bodies lie still, their genitalia partially still engaged and their chests were rising and falling with labored breathing as they rested in spent exhaustion.
The TV screen went blank. Michael inhaled deeply on another cigarette and then cleared his throat. "Ben, Michelle and I remained in that position for over fifteen minutes," he said after pausing for my reactions. "You see, we were knocked unconscious. Our calibrations were too fine, apparently creating an intense feedback. We were out cold."
"Wow!" I exclaimed. "That sure does give credence to that old cliche', doesn't it?"
He looked at me his brow furrowed, "I'm almost afraid to ask. What cliche' might that be, Ben?"
"Well, it looked to me like you and Michelle were f**king each others' brains out!"
I sat up straight and stretched my arms. Despite the cobwebs of sleep I felt somewhat rejuvenated, fresh and alert. I nodded to her as she handed the cell phone to me. I studied her for a moment and thought how I would like to be about fifteen years younger. Susan was a very attractive woman. I panicked for a moment as I felt a strain in the front of my pants. In a self-conscious but defensive move I crossed my legs and diverted my eyes from her to the window.
If it wasn't enough that I'd become aroused by the videos I'd seen at Michael Black's apartment, I was more embarrassed to think that Susan might have seen me in that state while I was sleeping seated across from her. The train was slowing down as it neared the station. A short stay at Rosie's house would allow me some time to think about my next move. Once I had a plan, then and only then would it be time to pay a visit to Mr. Black.
(To be continued 12/26 with part 9, Where Is Ms Gray?)