Monday, October 11, 2010

Butterfly Dreams (34)

(A sequel to The Strange Story of Mr. Black and Ms Gray.)

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)-
Whose Life Is It?

I stirred from the sudden rush of air gushing into my lungs. Hungry for the oxygen I took several long gulps. Breathing restored, I opened my eyes.

"Not again!" I moaned.

I was sitting upright in a chair, my arms and legs restrained. I shook my head, relieved that at least I was fully clothed. As the other incident had turned out to be a drug induced delusion, I had my doubts that the results would be the same the second time around.

Though I was still somewhat groggy, I recognized the stern voice which addressed me. "Mr. Black, what am I going to do with you?"

"Colonel Wingate, you're a pain in my neck!" I snarled at my unseen tormentor.

"Cute," he said stepping into view. "Perhaps the next time I should increase the dosage."

"Ah yes, your Butterfly Nectar. What is it, a truth serum or a hallucinogen?"

He grabbed a chair, positioned its back until it was facing me and straddled it. He rested his chin on his arms which were crossed on the chair back and peered into my eyes. "Neither. It is actually a harmless liquid containing a special tracer element."

Arching my eyebrows I responded, "A tracer element? What pray tell is this element supposed to trace? Me and my whereabouts at all times?"

He cocked his head to the right and rubbed his chin, "Interesting. If such an element existed, it could prove to be quite practical." He shook his head, "No, it's nothing as exotic as that. Besides, we have our own ways of keeping track of people."

"I'm sure you do," I said glaring at the man. "I take it that because it is classified, you're not going to reveal to me what this element is designed to trace?"

There was slight grimace of his lips, "Only that what it traces is also classified."

I could see that he was baiting me to see what I might know. I could see no reason not to bite. "Implants, yes? Like nano-bombs?"

He looked away and sighed, "They were one of Julius' nasty toys. We were led to believe that the implants were miniaturized radios if you will, which could serve as both transceivers and transponders."

I shook my head at the mention of his name. "So, it would appear that General Gates left a few mementos behind. He took King's technology to the next level. He wasn't satisfied with the possibility of telepathy. My God, the field experiments in Viet Nam and the dating services gave him a virtually unlimited supply of test subjects."

Wingate's face remained stoic. I would have guessed that his many years in the Army had left him devoid of compassion. His voice, however, seemed to suggest that there was at least a small measure of human decency within the man. "...And he took full advantage of that supply! Not only was he able to send commands to those unwitting people, but when they no longer served his purpose he could ... terminate them."

"Not exactly a glowing legacy, is it?" I muttered in disgust.

"Gates would have looked upon their sacrifice as collateral damage," he professed.

I stared at Wingate for a moment before asking, "Why are you telling me all of this?"

"Wake up, Black! Are you in denial? You must know that the research you and your wife were conducting opened a Pandora's Box for Gates!"

"Now hold on," I said angered by his insinuation, "The research Michelle and I were working on was in the name of medicine." I struggled to maintain the persona of Michael Black, willing the mind of Ben Bering to remain hidden. "We discovered a way to diagnose patients by tapping into their brain synapses."

He folded his arms across his chest and grinned, "A commendable discovery to say the least. Gates however, was not interested that you'd found a way to eliminate risky and invasive surgery. He didn't care that your discovery could save lives. He was fascinated with the modifications you'd made to the headpieces and the software that made the transmission and the reception of thoughts possible."

It was all I could do not to show shock on my face. Neither Michelle Gray nor Michael Black had ever mentioned that they'd modified the headpieces. They'd never said anything about any software.

A chill ran up my spine as I remembered the recent exchanges with Professor Jordan. He said that he'd been responsible that the minds of Michael and Michelle had been transferred. Was it he who had modified the headpieces and created the software? More unsettling was his declaration that Susan and I had been restored to our original bodies.

The sense of identity crisis crept once again into my thoughts. Who was I? I was Ben Bering! I was Ben Bering occupying the body where Michael Black had once existed. I was living a lie! How could I be certain just who I was? Whose life was it? Whose life is it?

I could sense that Wingate was studying me. Was he aware that human minds could be transferred into other bodies? Was he aware that Michelle and I were living proof of such a transfer?

"Relax," Wingate said interrupting my moments of silence. "I don't believe you foresaw where your research would lead. I do believe that your benefactor, Bishop King recognized its potential. I know that he tried and failed keep the government from taking over the research."

"It goes without saying, of course, that the opportunistic General Julius Gates saw its potential," I offered.

He nodded, "But he went too far. He felt that our armed forces should invade the Middle East, not only to squash the Muslim threat, but to also seize control of the oil reserves there."

"I know," I moaned. "He tried to get into the President's head. Gates was trying to impose his will on the one man with the power he craved."

"Exactly," he replied. "There was one snag he had to overcome, and that was the security in place at Government Center where the President was to speak. His proto-type neuro-headsets had limited range. He need a way to boost the signal ..."

"They tampered with the radio tower on the roof of a nearby building," I said cutting his words short. There was a bad taste in my mouth as I recalled that day, a day that I had experienced in my former body. "Ben Bering, with help of a police officer, was able to use a hand-held device to block Gates' transmitted thoughts."

Wingate's eyes widened and he shook his head. "No, I'm afraid you have the facts somewhat misconstrued."

"Misconstrued? How so?"

"Bering was there to redirect the signal from the tower to its target, the President."

"That ... that can't be," I sputtered. "He was there to prevent Gates' signal from getting into the President's mind."

He took a deep breath and asserted, "That's what he was led to believe. You see, Gates had gotten into his mind. Gates sent him there. Gates needed Bering to activate the device in close proximity to the President. Mr. Bering died before he could activate the device."

His story didn't fit my all too vivid memories of that day. I couldn't refute his facts without admitting that I was in fact Ben Bering. I couldn't tell him that I'd felt the fatal bullet that had entered the body of Ben Bering. I couldn't tell him that our minds had been transferred into the bodies of one another.

The irony of the two conflicting versions of what happened that day were not lost on me. I knew that Ben had died after activating the device, but not before blocking the signal. In Wingate's version, Ben had died failing to activate the device and therefore foiling Gates' takeover of the President's mind.

I stared down at the floor, "The Feds thought the device was a weapon. They had no choice but to shoot him."

"What? You think The Feds shot him? No, it was that Police officer whom you thought was helping him. It was Sergeant Brock O'Day who fired the shot."

( To be continued

Who Shot Ben Bering? )

2049

4 comments:

kidz_pets said...

Well that puts an interesting twist to the story!! Great job as usual.

Sandee said...

Oh this is a nice twist. We are thinking one thing about the president and now he really may have been programed to think what they wanted him to think. React how they wanted him to react. Oh my this is indeed excellent.

Have a terrific day. :)

Hale McKay said...

Kidz,

Don't think that there won't be anymore twists ....

Hale McKay said...

Sandee,

It's ironic to think that Ben may have actually played into their plans. Or has he?