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)-
As appalling as the thought of exhuming the bodies of Benjamin Bering and Susan Parsons was, the three of us nodded in silent acquiescence. It was obvious to David that the decision was a painful one for Michelle and myself as he watched us embrace.
We needed not to have looked any further than the haunting images on the computer screen to have arrived at that decision. Although he was aware of our secret, David could not fully imagine the turmoil raging within our minds.
Our traumatic awakening the year before in bodies other than our own had continued to resonate within us to the present day. We had experienced the throes of death, had felt our lives slipping away and had lapsed into dark nothingness. We were clinically dead. Then there were the blinding lights of rebirth.
For two weeks we had been isolated in separate small sterile rooms. Immobilized in our beds by straps about our bodies, we were only aware of the tubes and wires that were keeping us alive and monitoring our vital signs. That there was an outside world was apparent only when the masked faces of doctors and nurses were hovering over us.There, on the computer monitor our former bodies were very much alive. They had somehow returned from the dead and had abducted Rosie Gates.
Then one day the straps were removed and the tubes and wires were disconnected from our bodies. What followed was several days of intensive but painful therapy and exercise. Although we had been declared healthy, the doctors had offered no explanation as to why we were having such difficulty getting our limbs to respond. It was if our minds and bodies were not synchronized.
Through it all, we had been keenly aware of one another. I could sense that Susan was somewhere nearby. She could sense Ben's presence. Yet, we were not prepared for the day we were reunited, for the moment we came face to face.
Michael and Michelle, their bodies rejecting the alien minds within them, were dying. Their minds, in the body of the other, were deteriorating to the point that would soon reduce them to vegetated states until their brains would finally cease to function. They had sacrificed themselves, bequeathing their bodies to us so that we might live.
David cleared his throat and said, "Do you think that Michael and Michelle are still alive and in ... your bodies?"
"What?" I answered with a blank stare in his direction.
"I mean," he stammered, "did someone figure out a way to save them and then ... ah ... reanimate the corpses?" He paused while we exchanged glances and added, "Or have some other minds been transferred into the bodies?"
"Let's not jump to conclusions," Michelle said. "It's possible that they have cosmetically altered those two to look like us ... like Ben and Susan."
David's fingers dancing on the keyboard he said, "I think someone wanted you to see this tape." After freezing the looping video he zoomed in on the faces of the three figures. "See? Both the man and the woman are deliberately looking up at the camera. They made no attempt to disguise themselves."
"Yes," I nodded and grimaced, "Someone must know who we are."
David pushed himself away from the computer and handed a disc to Michelle. "I burned a copy of the video for you. I think I'd better get over to the off-site and run a complete diagnostic on the network." He shrugged and opined, "Maybe someone has tried to hack into the system."
For several minutes after David closed the door behind him, we stood staring at the computer screen. We were gazing into what were once our own eyes, wondering whose souls were behind them.
Our ubiquitous someone had gone to great lengths to get our attention. The series of scattered accidents on the city's major arteries had been a statement to accentuate the strength of their organization. Rosie's abduction boasted of their ability to strike at us where we were most vulnerable. Then, there was the appearance of the deceased Ben Bering and Susan Parsons!
"Ben," Michelle whispered into my ear, "I just have to be me for a few moments while we are alone. I don't know, maybe I just need to remind myself ... who I am ... who we are ... that I'm Susan and that you are Ben."
I kissed her on the forehead and responded, "My darling Susan, I have the same need."
Our tender moment was interrupted by the telephone. Michelle glanced at the digital display and sighed, "It's Brock O'Day."
Placing the call on speaker I said, "Sergeant, I assume your investigation has turned up something."
His voice boomed from the speaker, "You can spare the formalities, Michael. I'm alone."
"Sorry," I said. "It's just that with the delicate nature of all of this ..."
"Tell me about it!" he barked. "Look, I'm having a background check run on the deceased, but I did learn something that might interest you."
"...And that is?" Michelle quipped.
"Today was her first day at the nursing home. She was hired only yesterday."
"That is interesting," Michelle mused.
"You think that's interesting?" he snapped with undertones of anger. "She was hired on the strength of a glowing reference by someone near and dear."
"Uh oh," I uttered. "I don't think I want to hear this."
"Let's just say that it looks like I'll be having a heated discussion at the dinner table tonight," he growled.
"Brock, good luck with your domestic interrogation of your wife Faye", I said. "In the meantime, Michelle and I have to plan some discreet arrangements with the cemetery regarding a certain pair of graves."
They Walk Among Us )