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)-
There was no getting around it, we were allowing them to call the shots, and therein lie the dilemma. Just who were the ubiquitous them? That Federal agents of an unnamed covert agency and a free-lancing rogue unit of the military were working together by all accounts seemed absurd.
Yet, it was obvious to me that they were after the same thing. Both wanted exclusivity to a weapon of unimaginable power - the human mind. To that end, with seemingly unlimited resources, they had orchestrated a massive rush hour gridlock and had kidnapped Rosie, and possibly Stu Jankowski and David as well.
Then a thought, a terrible thought struck me like a ton of bricks. I tightened my grip on the steering wheel until my knuckles began to whiten. Once again, we had played into their hands! I let loose with a low but audible groan.
"Is something wrong, Michael?" Susan asked breaking our mutual silence.
I glanced at her and replied, "Yes, there is something wrong. The whole thing reeks of wrong."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean we should not have allowed ourselves to be separated. Michelle and I are miles apart now. In a word, we are blind."
A confused look on her face she uttered, "But I thought that was why we paired up this way, I with you and Ben with Michelle. We would be able to pass along anything said by the guardian's thoughts in our heads."
I nodded and issued biting words, "...And when was the last time you heard anything from this so-called guardian?"
"Well," she replied becoming pensive, "it was the instructions for us to go to the airport ... for a flight to Las Vegas."
"That was several miles back there," I said thrusting my hand with an extended thumb over my shoulder. "There's been nothing since?"
"No, nothing. I guess the instructions were clear enough and there is no need for further contact."
"A reasonable assumption, but there is just one problem," I asserted, "we don't know if Ben received those instructions to pass on to Michelle."
"Oh ..." she whispered and then she lapsed into silence.
"Consider this, Susan," I said raising my voice, "if he did receive instructions, how do we know they were the same? What if different instructions were given him?"
"I don't know what he hears in his head," she shrugged. "All I know is that you were supposed to be the only ones who could help us."
"Help you? Michelle and I, help you?" I muttered with stinging sarcasm. "Enlighten me if you will, by whom were you led to believe this?"
She shook her head and turned her eyes to the passenger side window. Her sudden silence, whether deliberate or forced upon her by the mind of the unknown guardian, was troubling. Was she a willing partner in an undetermined allegiance, or a helpless pawn being manipulated by our enemies?
Who was she, or more precisely, I thought, what was she? Glancing at her I mused that for someone who only two days ago had been resurrected from the grave, she was very well preserved.
I grimaced and cursed myself in silent admonishment for my moment of morbid satire. It was not at all a joking matter. She was sitting there beside me - and very much alive. And very much Susan Parsons ... ?
I knew that Susan Parsons, the woman with whom I'd fallen in love, was no longer in that body. Yet, the young woman next to me possessed all of the attributes of the woman that had captured my heart over a year ago. My thoughts, rife with memories of the sexual tensions Susan and I had experienced then, were beginning to manifest themselves into a verboten desire for this woman.
I hadn't really noticed her attire until that moment. My eyes traced a path from the belt of her hip-hugging jeans to the expanse of her bare midriff. Her shirt tail was tied high above her navel beneath her breasts.
My eyes were on her décolletage when I realized she was looking in my direction. Diverting my eyes to the road ahead, the blush on my cheeks was undeniable. From the corner of my eye I could see a smile forming on her lips. She then looked down at her ample cleavage, shifted in the seat and methodically arched her back.
For the next fifteen miles we spoke not a word but kept our eyes on the road ahead. It was only when I began to veer to the right that I announced, "This exit will connect us to the airport."
One hour later, both frustrated and outraged, I stormed out of the terminal with Susan in tow. Our efforts had been for naught. So wrapped up in our rash plans to escape the soldiers and the Feds, Michelle and I had not given any thought to the flight schedules. The reservations I had made were for a three o'clock flight on the only direct flight to Vegas that day. It had lifted off three hours earlier.
"We'll have to wait until tomorrow morning and catch the nine a.m. flight," I growled.
"What are we going to do in the meantime?" Susan moaned.
"We're taking a taxi home," I said without thinking, but quickly elaborated, "My home, the home where I live with my wife Michelle."
Showing no reaction to the inference of my statement she asked, "What about the truck we came in?"
"Do you know know how hard it'll be trying to hide a HumVee in Boston? I'll let the military worry about retrieving it."
I hustled the woman into the back of the first cab in line and gave the driver the address to my apartment building in downtown Boston. Sensing my desire to refrain from idle conversation she settled back and watched the scenery as it passed by.
My thoughts were of Michelle and of her possible whereabouts. I could only hope that she was dealing with the presence of Ben with more dignity than I had displayed being in the company of Susan. Moreover, I was hoping that when she learned of the flight status, she too would proceed to our apartment.
Once we were in the apartment I wasted no time in showing her to the guest room. I turned on the light and familiarized her with the layout. "If you wish to freshen up, you'll find towels in that closet. In the closet over there you'll find some clothes ... pants ... blouses. You're just about Michelle's size."
I couldn't close the door to the guest room fast enough. I didn't want to talk to her. I didn't want to see her ... to look upon her. I tried to let go of the door knob but my grip tightened.
A sensuous voice in my head was calling out to me. "Ben, come to me. I need you. I want you."
I thrust open the door and stepped into the room. I gasped as I saw her standing naked by the window. I closed and locked the door and began unbuttoning my shirt. A guttural moan escaped my lips, "I want you too, Susan."
The Artifice )