Part 53 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.)
"What?" Michelle gasped. "Someone else? And they want to kill us?"
My head began to pound. I'd thought that I had pretty much figured out who all the players were and what their roles were. There were, of course, some questions still in need of answers, but I was unprepared for King to throw another player into the mix.
"You know who this someone is, right?" I said addressing King.
He shook his head, "I'm afraid I have no clue, Mr. Bering." He sighed deeply looking every bit the epitome of a beaten man. "At times I've felt another in my head, probing me, and usurping information. At other times, it felt like information was being placed in my brain. Always, the presence was cold and emotionless."
"I too have felt someone in my head," Michelle concurred with King. "I've assumed that it was Micheal reaching out to his former body." She looked at me and said, "Ben, those dreams and images you and Susan experienced ... perhaps it's the same one ... this someone has been visiting all of our heads."
Bishop King arose from the chair and said, "I came here today convinced I was going to shut down this operation. Now I'm wondering if that idea was planted in my head, as if it was my own decision."
I suggested, "It could well be your own decision, and instead a thought was planted to cast doubt." I looked about at the faces of the others present and added, "Have any of our thoughts and actions been entirely our own? Have we been put into a position to drive ourselves crazy second guessing everything we've done and might yet do?"
"Good grief!" bellowed Brock O'Day. "How can someone be that powerful? Don't we have to be hooked up to those damned head things for someone to get into our heads?" He looked around and glared at the rest of us, "What's next? Are going to be suspecting the person next to us is messing with our heads?"
"Enough!" King shouted. When he had our undivided attention he cleared his throat and said, "There were a few instances during our research over the years that we found a few ... ah ... extraordinary individuals."
"Uh oh," I muttered, "some new information we haven't been privy to. Just how extraordinary?"
"A few individuals, after having received a neural transplant, had shown the ability to communicate with and to read the minds of the other subjects. They were able to do this without the aid of a headpiece! Fortunately we were able to disable their transplants, effectively turning off the enhanced portions of their brains," King professed.
"But some individuals," Michelle voiced, "were not turned off?"
"Yes. To make matters worse, they were deleted from our main frame files, per Julius Gates. The names and locations of these individuals were locked away somewhere by Gates," he replied.
I let out a low whistle and uttered, "Gates' silent army."
King turned to me and said, "Oh, you know about the satellite up-link capability? It's a military application that I fought against and lost. Myself and two other board members argued against its installation."
"The same two who opposed the move to keep my story off the front page? The same two who died when their plane crashed on the return trip to Chicago?" I watched his face turn pale as he nodded.
"It appears that someone has no problem with using violence to make their point," said Dave the intern.
"Make their point? Oh, they've been making their point all along." I began to count on my fingers, "Two executives, Susan's friend Billy, Jimmy Coleman ... dead! There was the assault on Michelle and Michael, and then there was the attack on me and Susan ... both by the same two thugs who were being paid. Those assaults were sandwiched around the beating Stu suffered in his own office! Oh, by the way, a bomb was detonated in my apartment and Susan and I barely escaped."
Stu was shaking his head when he asserted, "If all that wasn't enough, we arrive here and someone tampers with poison gas, a receptionist shoots Susan in the lobby of this building, and somewhere in the basement there is a bomb set to blow this place to smithereens!" He turned to Dave and asked, "Say, how much time is left before it goes off?"
The intern looked at his watch and announced, "Forty-five minutes."
King spoke with slow nervous words, "This bomb, it was set by the General?" When Dave nodded to affirm, he moved toward the control pod which continued Gates' body. He shouted over his shoulder, "Somebody, anybody, give me a hand with him. I have to see if I can get into his computer programs."
I remembered the copy of the general's speech and pulled it out of my shirt pocket. While Brock and King struggled to remove Gates' body from the oval-shaped control center I unfolded the crumpled document. "Mr. King, I think I know what Gates was up to."
He settled into the seat behind the controls and studied the myriad of dials and gauges before him. "What is that?" he asked.
I replied, "This paper is a speech to be given by the President later this evening in Boston's Government Center. Except these words are the general's words. I think he was planning to get into the President's head and have him recite the general's version."
"Damn!" King swore. "I've talked and argued with Gates on many an occasion. He thinks that the U.S. should invade the entire Middle East. He feels we should annex all of the oil producing countries as territories of our country."
"Whew!" I muttered. "That's almost verbatim of what's written on this paper."
"The bloody fool!" King shouted. "That's exactly what the son of a bitch was up to! He wasn't settling for influencing the President's thoughts. He wanted to become the President!"
Michelle cried out, "My God! He was going to swap minds with our President?"
"Not only that, Michelle. He intended for the mind swap to occur before that gas was released! He would be alive in our Commander-in-Chief's body while the President's mind would die in his body!" King was quiet for a moment with his thoughts and muttered, "When thoughts kill ..."
Michelle cried out again, "Please tell me that he failed! Tell me that he didn't complete the swap!"
King was trembling at the controls, "I ... I don't know. The command to transmit was enabled, but I cannot determine if it was actually transmitted."
Brock O'Day approached King and said, "We'll have to wait until the President gives his speech, won't we? In the meantime, Mr. King, I think you should get out of that chair and let the programs run."
I stepped forth and said, "Brock? What are you doing? Who knows what else he's got running in there? We have to shut that computer and those programs down!"
O'Day produced his police revolver and said, "I'm afraid that's not going to happen, Ben."
"Brock have you gone mad?" I shouted.
He abruptly shoved me backward and declared, "That's no way to talk to the Vice President of the United States!"
(To be continued in Part 54 on Monday, 6/1, with The Key.)