Part 24 of an original tale that delves into the unexplored realms of the human mind. Hired by her lover to find a raven haired beauty, Benjamin Bering must avoid the local police as well as the agents of a nonexistent government agency who are after him and the woman. There are just two problems. The woman is in a coma and her body has been stolen. (Part 1 can be found HERE.)
I stared at the blank television screen for some time trying to gather my wits, to fathom what I'd just seen. It made no sense at all. I didn't know if I should be angry or if I should be accepting it as just another strange twist to an already unbelievable chain of events.
I didn't realize at the time that I was shouting with a generous amount of expletives as I beat forcibly upon the door to Michelle's bedroom. My face was flushed with rage and the veins in my forehead were protruding when she opened the door. Her mouth was open to speak when my fist landed on her jaw. The male body in which she dwelt staggered backward.
Rubbing her chin she said, "I take it that means you've viewed the third disc?" With an almost apologetic bow of her head she declared, "I guess I should have prepared you for what was on that disc."
"No shit!" I snapped. "You wanted me and Susan to see that? What are you ... sadistic?"
"Would you have felt any better about it had I told you?" she asked. "Look Ben," she asserted, "You were going to have to see it eventually. Would you have preferred sooner or later?"
I didn't respond right away but turned to the bar and went about pouring myself a much needed strong drink. I downed the contents of the glass in two hurried gulps. I closed my eyes as the river of fire coursed its way down my throat. I raised my voice again, "I don't have that option now, do I?"
"Ben," she said still not looking at my face, "Michael and I had nothing to do with that disc. I mean, we had nothing directly to do with the experiments on it. We were victims too."
"Victims? Victims? That work was your project - your research!" I grew silent for a moment and studied her face. I sighed and offered, "The Feds and Mr. X..."
She nodded, "Those discs are a compendium of experiments that were conducted over four decades."
"That explains those scenes from Vietnam. I thought nothing would shock me after seeing the general, Brock O'Day and Jimmy. That is until ..." It was like a shot in the dark that I realized that one burning question had not been asked. "How is it that you just happen to have those three discs in your possession?"
She took a deep breath and exhaled as she spoke, "Before I answer that, Ben, I need for you to be careful what you say and when you say it in my presence."
"The personality shifts? You are definitely aware of them then?"
She nodded and replied, "Yes. I thought it was a possibility before, but when you showed me that diagram it confirmed my worst fears." She looked me in the eyes and continued, "When, if, the next time I light up a cigarette ... please, change the subject." She walked over to the bar and poured a drink before speaking, "As for your question about those discs, I received them about an hour after our first meeting the night you responded to my e-mail."
"You received them from ...?"
"I have a contact, a mole if you will," she replied after hesitating a couple of seconds. "I want to keep that person's identity out of my mind completely, so please don't ask me for it. I fear that contact might be the next to die."
"Fair enough," I responded in agreement to her request. "There's another matter that has my curiosity peaked, Michelle." She finished the drink and set the glass down and gave me her full attention. "Both Susan and I have observed you jotting notes on that pad of paper in that cabinet above the bar. They're not really chess moves, are they?"
She smiled faintly, "Well, yes and no. A few times when I felt other thoughts or someone else in my head, I think I was picking up some spillover, sort of like a feedback from that person's thoughts. When the "intruder" is my head, I think I am aware of who it is, but when they leave I don't remember."
I rubbed my chin and nodded, "I see. When you were writing the notes you were trying put it into a code of sorts, something the intruder wouldn't or couldn't solve. Clever."
She grinned, "Thanks, but it hasn't helped me one bit. I don't know what the code means once my head is clear. I do play chess, and I know that those opening moves all have names. They're usually named after some chess master who used those moves in tournament play. I've tried, but I haven't been able to connect those names to a possible identity..."
I began to play that stupid game with my thumbs while question after question formulated within my aching skull. It seemed that the more I learned, the more I needed to know. "Back to the discs, namely the third one," I said to her, "how many more surprises are there for me?"
"For you?" she replied. "Once more."
I shook my head in despair, "Great. Just great. First I see myself butt ass naked wearing one of those things on my head. ... And whose brain am I wired to, but you in your real naked body! To make matters worse, I have no memory of that ever happening." I began to pace; I couldn't sit or stand still.
She remained silent and watched my movements. "You know, when I have sex with a woman, especially a beautiful woman, I'd like to remember it," I said continuing my tirade. "Do you remember it? Tell me, was it good for you too?"
Michelle shook her head without looking at me, "No, I don't remember it. I learned about it from the disc. I was shocked as well." She forced a smile, "I'm sure it was good ... for both of us."
I ignored her remark and raised my voice, "If all that wasn't bad enough, you're telling me I'm on there screwing away in the name of science again? Who am I playing hide the wienie with next? Susan?"
She turned away and reached for a bottle from the bar. She didn't bother to pour the liquid into her glass but instead drank straight from the bottle. Her silence was the answer I didn't want to hear.
I took a deep breath to calm myself and said, "I was afraid of that. Look, for now, despite your advice, I don't want Susan to see that disc. I don't want Susan to know what's on that disc." I pointed my finger at her, "You got that?"
I almost jumped out of my skin when her soft voice spoke from behind me, "What am I not supposed to see or know about?"
(To be continued with part 25 on Friday 2/20, in I Don't Know What I Know.)