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)-
Extraordinary measures were being taken to remind us that there others who knew of our secrets. If their efforts were intended to get our attention, they had succeeded.
Our complacency had left us vulnerable. We had not counted on their resolve to reassert their power. Our attempts to shut down their operations had been little more than a setback.
It was troubling that they had chosen to strike so close to home. Not only had they abducted Rosie, but it was possible they were also responsible for David's disappearance.
They, I thought, just who were they? The Feds? It was the Feds who'd absconded the security tapes from the nursing home. Perhaps it was the same nonexistent government agency we'd dealt with the year before, once again flexing their muscles.
I sighed in despair. The resurrection of our former bodies was no doubt an impressive display of flexed muscles. I had no doubt that forthcoming there would be direct contact with our tormentors. Only then would we know their intentions.
Ten minutes later as I pulled into the parking garage beneath the King Enterprises Tower I noticed that Michelle's parking space was empty. Curious, I thought. We were supposed to meet at the office after my meeting with Stu Jankowski. With all that had been happening, she would not have gone elsewhere without letting me know.
The elevator ascending to the penthouse offices, I checked my cell phone. It was possible she'd tried to reach me while I was with Stu at the Attic. In the noisy barroom I might not have heard the phone's ring tone. There were no messages.
When the elevator doors slid open and I stepped into the lobby of our offices Helen our receptionist looked up in apparent surprise. "Mr. Black? You're back so soon?"
Because it was the first time that day that I'd set foot in the office I raised my eyebrows and echoed, "Back so soon?"
"Uh ... yes, sir. You just left here ten minutes ago with Mrs. Black," she replied. "I saw the two of get into the elevator. But ... I could've sworn you were wearing a different suit."
Thinking fast I said, "Sorry, I didn't realize you'd seen me. Michelle forgot something and asked me to come back up for it. She's waiting for me in the garage. As for the suit, I ... er ... had a change of suit jackets in my car."
She nodded, swiveled in her chair and turned her attention to a report she had been typing. I crossed the lobby and entered our private office where I stood for several minutes looking upon the Boston skyline through the large window by Michelle's desk.
"It had to be him," I whispered to myself. "He disappeared after that incident at City Hall last year." I slammed my fist into the palm of my other hand. "What's he up to? And why now?"
Army Corporal Jeremy Baxter had been instrumental in helping us to prevent the theft of the mind of the President of the United States. His smoke bombs had created a diversion which had allowed me, in my former body of Ben Bering, to disrupt the mind transfer signal aimed at the brain of our Commander-in-Chief.
Baxter was also an indistinguishable double of Michael Black. It was understandable that our receptionist would have thought it was me who'd entered the elevator with Michelle. Surely, he hadn't fooled Michelle!
My thoughts were interrupted by the buzzing of the desk phone. I enabled the speaker, "Yes, Helen?"
"Sorry to disturb you, Mr. Black, but there's a Roberta Allen on the other line."
"Yes, Stu Jankowski's secretary. Put her through."
With a click the call was forwarded followed by the woman's nervous voice, "Mr. Black, is Mr. Jankowski with you?"
"Why, no. We parted company nearly an hour ago. I assumed he must have returned to the Globe," I answered.
"No, he hasn't returned. I'm looking out the window and his car is on the lot. It's not like him to be late for a meeting."
"No, it's not like Stu," I said. "He did ... ah ... seem to be rather occupied when he left me." I paused for a moment to avoid detailing our meeting. "I assume it was a staff meeting."
"No. It was a private meeting with an individual. He's been waiting outside ... that's odd? He's gone."
"Hmmm, I guess he got tired of waiting. May I ask who it was?" I asked as my years as an investigative reporter instinctively tweaked my curiosity.
"Yes, of course. Jordan ... a Professor Jordan from Northeastern University," she replied.
"I can't place the name," I responded although there was something vaguely familiar about it. "Look, Roberta, I have to run, but if I hear from Stu I'll have him call you ASAP. And if you hear from him, could you be so kind as to leave a message with my receptionist? Don't worry, I'm sure he's okay."
The call disconnected, I returned my gaze to the concrete and steel structures overlooking Boston Harbor. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that had I heard that name before. Was it a name from a trace memory of Michael Black or one belonging to Ben Bering? Perhaps both personae knew of it.
I was forced to save the mystery for another time. There were much larger and more pressing puzzles to solve. It wasn't lost on me that except for Brock O'Day and myself, nearly everyone involved with the events of last year were inexplicably missing. It was a different drama, but the players were the same.
Although alone in the office, I counted aloud the cast, in order of disappearance, "Rosie, Fay, David, Michelle and Stu ..." I squeezed my lips together and grew silent. The circumstances of how they all came to be missing were different, but there was no doubt in my mind that they were all somehow connected.
I drew in a deep breath and let it out in a series of exasperated puffs. There were other connections. Of course, there was the miraculous resurrection of the bodies of Ben and Susan. Then Baxter appeared on the scene. It was obvious that these were not coincidences. There had to be a common denominator in all of this madness!
Then the name hit me! Professor Jordan was the head of the Science department at Northeastern University. He had been employed in that capacity when the government had wrested control of the project that Michelle and Michael had been researching.
That research had been the bane of our existences ever since. It had led to our deaths and our subsequent reincarnations. Our former bodies, those of Ben Bering and Susan Parsons, had been interred with the dead souls of Michael Black and Michelle Gray. Yet, the souls of Ben and Susan were very much alive in the bodies of the latter pair.
Then on the nursing home security tape there was the appearance of the bodies of Ben and Susan, our former bodies, looking very much alive. Why and how had they been brought to life? And by whom? Whose minds did they house?
It seemed that the key connection had to be Professor Jordan. I told Helen to clean my schedule and left the office. I had to find the professor before he became the next person to be counted among the missing.
I had taken only two steps off the elevator into the garage when I spotted a dapper little man leaning against my car. He nodded as I approached.
I nodded in return, "Professor Jordan, I presume."
Jordan's Endgame )