They had died when helping thwart a plan to undermine the government of the United States. Now Ben and Susan have returned from the dead and they must bring that government down. Standing in their way are Michael Black and Michelle Gray, the bodies of whom they now occupy.
-(The Story begins HERE)-
Despite taking back roads, the morning rush hour traffic found us getting nowhere fast. According to the radio reports a rash of accidents on the expressway and several main arteries had forced many of the commuters to seek alternate routes.
It was the gridlock caused by those desperate commuters that had left us in the middle of a line of vehicles stretching as far as the eyes could see in both directions. In the rear view mirror the distinctive skyline of downtown Boston was still visible despite the fact that we'd left there nearly an hour before.
It was was not a stretch for me to know what thoughts were running through Michelle's mind. Likewise, she knew that I was sharing those same thoughts. While our thoughts were centered upon the inexplicable disappearance of Rosie Gates from her nursing home room, we were both wrestling with the implications of that disappearance.
The events of the previous two years had steeled us, prepared us to face the inevitable. While our efforts and our sacrifices had appeared to derail the covert research, we'd known that setback would be short-lived.
Our thoughts were interrupted by the pulsing tones emanating from the car phone. From the passenger seat Michelle noted the caller ID display and announced, "It's Brock O'Day."
I depressed the speaker button and said, "Officer O'Day. I think I know why you are calling."
"Hello, Michael and Michelle," he responded. "Faye just called me from Franklin and told me what happened at the nursing home. She's quite upset."
"That's understandable," Michelle chimed in. "We're on our way there now, but the traffic is absolutely horrendous!"
"No shit. You won't believe all the accident reports I'm picking up on the radio. There's a gasoline tanker on its side at the North Quincy exit heading south. In Newton some knucklehead going the wrong way north on the Expressway has caused a seven car pileup. There's a burning car at the China Town ramp to the Turnpike. There's an upside down taxicab ..."
"Good grief!" I exclaimed. "What in the hell is going on, Brock?"
"You tell me," he quipped. "It's not even nine AM yet, so I think we can rule out a full moon." There was a moment of static before he spoke again, "Hold on, I'm getting another call."
"Michael," Michelle tapped my shoulder and whispered, "Doesn't it strike you as odd that all of these accidents are south of Boston?"
"...And in our path," I nodded.
"Jesus Christ!" O'Day's voice boomed over the speaker. "Now there's a bomb threat at the JFK Library!"
We looked at each other stone-faced but said nothing. Although we couldn't read each others minds, we found ourselves on the same wavelength. We were thinking the same thing. Was it possible that all of the accidents weren't coincidental? Could it be that they were staged accidents?
Anguished but not verbalizing her thoughts Michelle uttered, "Why is all this happening now?"
"I don't know," I replied shaking my head. "I'm not so sure I want to know, but I do know we have to find a way out of this traffic."
"Leave that to me," belched O'Day's voice from the speaker. I had forgotten that our call had not been disconnected. There was a sudden wail of a siren somewhere behind us. A quick glance in the passenger side mirror revealed a police cruiser racing our way in the emergency breakdown lane. "The exit to the JFK Library is just a mile and a half ahead. Fall in behind me and I'll clear us a path."
As I veered into the cleared lane behind him I said, "Lucky for us you happened to be on the same stretch of highway."
"No luck, Michael, just good detective work. I've been tracking you," he announced.
"Tracking us?" queried Michelle. "How?"
He laughed, "I pulled a few strings and had your Lojack system activated." His brake lights visible ahead of us, I slowed down as we turned onto the looping exit ramp. "As it turned out I was only about a dozen car lengths behind your location when I received Faye's call."
"Brock, as we speak Michelle is on her cell phone dispatching the corporate chopper to the Library. By air we should make it to the Nursing home in about, oh, twenty minutes. I'll call you from there when we know ... something."
We turned onto the library property and pulled into a spot at the far end of the parking lot. A phalanx of emergency vehicles, their lights flashing like beacons, were amassed near the library's main entrance. An army of emergency personnel were moving about in choreographed chaos.
O'Day sprinted across the lot and disappeared amidst the sea of the emergency crew members. Ten minutes later he reappeared and hurried to our location. He peered into the driver's side window, "It appears to be crank call. They have the situation under control, so I won't be needed." He glanced skyward in the direction of the approaching helicopter.
I grinned and said to him, "There's room for another passenger if you'd like to come along."
Once airborne I instructed the pilot to tune the radio onto the police and emergency bands. O'Day nodded, grateful to be listening to the reports coming over the airwaves. Michelle and I were no less interested to hear them. We kept our suspicions to ourselves however, not wanting to share them with our passenger until we were certain that the pattern of events were more than coincidental.
Our resolve for secrecy was put to the test when a policeman's voice squawked from the radio, "The driver of the tanker has been shot. Judging from a bullet hole in the windshield, we are operating under the assumption that we have a sniper."
"What the hell?" O'Day roared. I turned to face him and was greeted by a stunned look upon his face. "What in the hell is going on? Every one of these reports ... the accidents ... the bomb scare ... they all took place within a five minute time span."
I glanced at Michelle and then back at O'Day. He studied my grim countenance for a moment and said, "You're holding out on me, aren't you? You think these accidents have something to do with Rosie's disappearance."
With a slow nod of my head I replied, "The thought had occurred to us, yes."
"We didn't want to think it," Michelle jumped in, "but it would appear that someone has gone to extraordinary lengths to impede our arrival at the nursing home."
"You're suggesting that Rosie was taken ... kidnapped, aren't you?" O'Day queried.
Before another word could be uttered the twitter of Michelle's cell phone interrupted the awkward moment. "Hello?" she said into the device. "What's that? Wonderful! Give me a moment to transmit the address." She turned her attention to a laptop computer and as her fingers danced across the keys she announced, "It would appear that we have a computer geek at the nursing home."
Leaning forward O'Day said, "What's this geek have to offer?"
Michelle looked back at him and said, "How about a video feed from the security cameras at the nursing home?" She returned her attention to the computer and added, "I'm requesting a time frame of a half hour on either side of the time that she Rosie was reported missing."
Brock O'Day whistled in exasperation, "I'm glad someone understands all these technological things. I have enough trouble trying to program my alarm clock!"
Moments later the computer screen came to life with the transmitted video. The three of us grew quiet and watched the recorded images from the security cameras located in the hallways and parking lot of the nursing home.
Three minutes into the video stream three figures appeared in the hallway leaving Rosie Gate's room. A man and a woman were walking abreast of Rosie, each holding onto her arms.
"Michelle," I said, "Can you freeze the frame and zoom in on them?"
She complied and although the image was grainy, the features of the three individuals became discernible. In unison we gasped as we gazed upon the all too familiar faces.
"Impossible!" O'Day yelped. "It isn't possible!"
Our faces ashen, Michelle and I shuddered as we stared at the haunting visages looking back at us. It was if we were looking two ways into our very souls.
There was no denying it, but Rosie had been taken from the nursing home by none other than Benjamin Bering and Susan Parsons.
"The Dying Daylights" )