Part 26 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.)
Poor Susan, I thought, she was about to have her mettle tested. It had been unnerving enough to watch herself and me having sex while hooked up to those headpieces and not having any memory of it. I reasoned that the blow had been softened because I was her partner and not some stranger.
However, Michelle had warned her that she had been recorded on the disc twice. She was sitting on the edge of the sofa as the disc was being read by the DVD player. Her lips pursed and her mouth twisted to one side of her face, she was showing no other emotions. I sensed that she was more concerned with whom she was connected as opposed to the fact that the coupling took place without her knowledge or complicity.
Her image appeared on the left of the screen fully clothed. From the sofa Susan noted, "At least this is more up to date. My hair is light brown and of the length I now have." She turned to Michelle and asked, "When was this recorded?"
"It was this past summer, July I believe," she answered.
She watched herself begin to methodically disrobe. She spoke again to no certain ear, "You know, it's one thing to be filmed naked, but it's quite another to be filmed undressing. Maybe it's me, but I prefer to dress and undress in privacy."
"Is that so?" I jibed.
She cast a furtive glance at me and turned her attention back to the screen. On screen Susan had stepped out of her panties and was approaching the table where a man was lying already naked on his back. It was Michael Black and he was in a state of readiness.
Susan blurted out to Michelle, "You? I did it with you?"
Michelle shook her head, "No. Not me. This body, yes. It's Michael - in his own body."
Susan nodded and muttered, "Sorry. Of course. It's so damned confusing!"
"You should try it first hand," Michelle returned. "You have no idea."
I have to admit that I'd felt a twinge of jealousy as I watched Susan and Michael engaged in the act of intimate sex before my eyes. In my minds eye I tried to superimpose myself onto the screen in Michael's stead. Having failed at that, I concentrated on Susan's breasts as they bounced to the thrusts of their bodies.
Ten minutes after the television set had been shut down the three of us sat in silence. I was fighting tumultuous emotions within my head. I felt violated, not only because I'd been filmed having sex with Michelle and Susan, but that I'd been placed in that situation without my knowledge or approval. Yet, my actions on the film belied the possibility that it had occurred against my will.
Susan was leaning back in the sofa with her arms folded across her chest and her legs were crossed. It was as if she were shielding her private parts from any unwanted assault. From the position of her lower lip, I gathered that she too was dealing with a mixed bag of emotions.
Michelle I couldn't read. How could I judge her ... him ... them? It would have been easy enough to label Michelle and Michael as a couple of sex-crazed perverts, but I knew that not to be the case. Their intentions were noble enough, indeed they were on the thresh hold of a medical breakthrough.
It was evident that they had had the misfortune to have a made a discovery that had already been discovered. Of course, they couldn't have known. The original discovery and subsequent research had been in play before they were even born! I myself would have been no more than an infant.
Somewhere along the line the military and some covert government entity had gotten into bed together to refine the project to fit their needs. I shuddered to think how many clandestine operations might have been successfully carried out because of their power to read and perhaps manipulate the human mind.
I visualized the reaction within that secret agency and the red flags that must have been raised when news of Michael's and Michelle's work reached them. They must have been waiting in the shadows, watching them to see how far their research would take them. Perhaps they wanted to see if the two post grads would make any discoveries or advancements that they had not.
In any event they decided to swoop in and to take over the research, or at least end it by virtue of having it in their control. The shit must have hit the fan when they learned that Michael and Michelle decided to go public by contacting me with an exclusive story.
Were they sending a messages to us? Were they responsible when Susan's friend Billy was killed? How about Stu my editor getting beaten half to death? Then there was Jimmy's death. Was it a coincidence that two of the newspaper's board of directors died in a plane crash?
Of course, there was still the matter of Michelle's missing body in which the mind of Michael Black was trapped. If we were able to retrieve the body, and I believed that to be a long shot, would they be able to switch their minds back into their proper bodies?
I'd made up my mind what the next course of action had to be. The decision was made because I was greatly troubled by the scenes on one of those discs. What part in all of this did the general, Jimmy and Brock O'Day play? What happened to those Vietnamese women? And what in the hell was the story with those damned butterfly tattoos? It was inevitable. Brock O'Day and I were going to have a head-to-head.
While it was puzzling, I felt we might as well keep taking advantage of the fact that the feds were letting us move about. They could have captured us at any time they so chose. They could have even taken us out if they so desired. The ones at the warehouse had been armed with tranquilizer guns. I was thankful Susan had recovered, but I was certain that that dart had been intended for me. Another warning? Were we close to something in that warehouse? Maybe that attack had been for show only and those plans had been planted for us to find.
I was convinced that they wanted something else. Perhaps something was lost and they wanted us to lead them to it? Quite possibly they wanted those discs we had been viewing.
I stood up and faced Michelle and said to her, "They know about the mind reading and sending and receiving thoughts from one person to another, but I want your opinion on a thought I've been banging around in this gelatinous mass that used to be my brain."
"What's that, Ben?"
"Do you think they know that you and Michael actually switched bodies?"
A stunned look came over her countenance. "Why, I never thought about that," she replied with hesitation. Then she smiled and said, "No. I'm sure they don't know!"
I nodded in approval and said, "I was thinking the same thing. This just might give us a slight advantage when the time comes."
Susan moved next to me and declared, "It's about time we got a break."
I pulled the cell phone out my pocket and punched in Rosie's number at the diner. When she answered I spoke, "Rosie, Ben. I don't have time to talk. Contact Brock and tell him to meet me at Jimmy's apartment as soon as possible. We can talk later." I returned the phone to my pocket.
"That was short and to the point," Susan said.
I placed my arm around her shoulder and said, "After what happened at the warehouse, I'll understand if you want to stay here."
"What, and let you have all the fun? No way!" she declared.
Since Jimmy's apartment was in the same building as mine and it was within walking distance, we decided to take advantage of the fresh evening air. She took a firm grip on my hand as we strolled up the street. If Susan had been harboring any anger over the contents of the discs, especially the scenes featuring her, it was not apparent in her demeanor. After we had walked about a block and a half she stopped and pulled me back.
"Ben, there's something I have to tell you," she said in a worried manner. "It's about Michelle. There's something not right about her."
I looked at her and raised my eyebrows, "Of course there is. She's not in her own body."
"It's more than that, Ben," she said her words faltering. "She's not in Michael's body!"
(To be continued in part 27, on Friday 2/27, with The Scum Also Rises.)