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)-
His mouth agape, O'Day could manage only a few guttural sounds. Unblinking and wide in disbelief, his eyes darted from the laptop to us and back again. A finger extended from his trembling fist grazed the surface of the screen.
The grizzled policeman may have thought he was seeing ghosts, but as for Michelle and myself, we knew we were not looking upon an image of evanescent spirits. They were of flesh and blood and as real as the woman they'd taken from the nursing home.
All Brock O'Day knew was that he was looking upon the faces of his deceased friend Ben Bering and his young paramour Susan Parsons, the wakes and subsequent burials of whom he'd attended the previous year. What he didn't know was that Michelle and I were looking upon the bodies in which our souls had once resided.
The image on the screen suddenly vanished. "Damn!" Michelle exclaimed, "We've lost the connection."
It was obvious that O'Day was taken aback by our insouciant demeanor when he barked, "What's the matter with you two? How can you be so calm? Didn't you see their faces? It was Ben and Susan!"
Occupied by her laptop Michelle offered me a cursory nod, thus throwing the ball into my court. "Brock," I replied in admonishment, "Ben and Susan are dead. You saw their bodies."
Michelle looked up from the keyboard to make eye contact with him. Before turning away she spoke but one word, "Doppelgangers."
"Doubles?" he uttered. "Who would go to all that trouble to find doubles for two dead people? And why abduct Rosie? I don't get it ..." The contorted features of his face relaxed somewhat as a measure of realization struck him.
"Hold that thought," I said as I reached for the vibrating cell phone at my hip. I glanced at the screen and read a brief text message on the small screen. After showing the display to Michelle I turned the device toward O'Day.
3 suits. Made copy. Gotta run. - T.T."Suits?" the officer gasped. "The Feds? We shut down their operation ... didn't we?" He groaned in exasperation when there was no response forthcoming from Michelle or myself.
Five minutes later the helicopter touched down upon an empty lot next to the nursing home. Ducking to avoid the rotor blades we scrambled across the lot toward the main entrance of the building.
While O'Day questioned the two nurses at the front desk Michelle and I made our way to Rosie's room. Along the way we were joined by the young man who'd transmitted the security footage to the laptop.
"David, good work," I said patting him on the back. "Are the Feds still here?"
He shook his head, "No. They slipped out the back when they heard your chopper approaching. They drove off in a black SUV while you were landing."
Michelle moved next to him and said, "We lost the transmission. From the security tape were you able to see where they ... those two took my ... uh ... where they took Rosie?"
"Yeah, they left through the service door in the basement next to the loading dock. I think that's how they got inside the building. No one saw them."
The echoes of O'Day's footfalls on the corridor floors signaled his approach. "Damn it," he shouted, "where are those Feds? The bastards confiscated the security tapes." Spotting David at our side he grinned, "David? Well I'll be. I presume it was you who sent that video to Michelle's computer."
David, who'd also sent the cryptic text message using the initials of his screen name Tsunami Tommy, nodded and shook O'Day's extended hand. "Yes, Sergeant O'Day, it was I."
The formal amenities aside and with his dutiful police mentality taking over, he queried, "Besides the security tape, is there anything you can tell us about what happened here? Did you see or hear anything?"
Lowering his head he replied, "No, sir. Nothing." He turned to face me and uttered, "I'm ... I'm sorry, Mr. Black. I've let you down."
Placing her hand on his shoulder Michelle said, "No, David, you didn't let us down. There was nothing you could have done."
Flipping the page of the small notebook in his hand O'Day addressed the man, "I've spoken to everyone on duty this morning except for ... Clara Mason. In all the confusion, no one can remember seeing her since the morning rounds. Miss Ames at the main nursing station said she was in charge of material disposal ..."
"Oh, no," David uttered in alarm. "The haz-mat storage facility ... that's how they got in!" With the three of us close behind he began to sprint toward the east wing of the building.
"Haz-mat?" O'Day mumbled. "What hazardous materials would they have here?"
"Come on, Brock. This is a nursing home," Michelle chided. "You know, things like needles, bandages, soiled and bloodied wrappings and linens ..."
"Yeah, yeah," he retorted, "I wasn't thinking."
David led us through a door and into a dark dank stairwell. "Once a week a contracted outfit picks up our hazardous waste," David declared. "They usually arrive in the afternoon. Clara must have let them in."
"Except, they weren't who she thought they were," Brock reasoned aloud.
At the foot of the stairs the young man hurriedly punched in a series of numbers on an electronic key pad. With a click of the release mechanism the door swung open to reveal the massive expanse beneath the nursing home.
As we made our away to the far end of the basement David turned to us and said, "When I saw their faces on the security tape I couldn't believe my eyes. Frankly it scared the living daylights out of me!"
"Hold it," Brock warned raising his hand to stop us in our tracks. He unsnapped his holster and gripped the butt of his service revolver. "Don't move."
He knelt beside the unmoving form lying prone on the cold concrete floor. His finger against the woman's lifeless neck he uttered, "It would appear that Clara Mason has had the dying daylights scared out of her."
The Mind of the Matter)