Part 30 of an original tale that delves into the unexplored realms of the human mind. Hired by her lover to find a raven haired beauty, Benjamin Bering must avoid the local police as well as the agents of a nonexistent government agency who are after him and the woman. There are just two problems. The woman is in a coma and her body has been stolen. (Part 1 can be found HERE.)
"Damn it!" Susan yelped. "Why must everyone leave me hanging?"
She cast a cold glance in my direction. I skirted the barb left understood in her words. "I'd say that the five women spared had those butterfly tattoos. Think about it, you and Michelle have them and no one has tried to ... do away with either of you."
She nodded and muttered, "For now. They must need us. What happens when we are no longer of any use to them?"
"Aw, don't go there, Susan," I said. I moved to place my arm around her but she moved away and positioned herself in the chair in front of Jimmy's computer.
"Ben, please don't try to patronize me. I don't wish to be coddled like a helpless baby," she barked. She stared at the blank computer screen for a moment and turned to face me, "You know, for as long as I can remember it seems like I was being manipulated. It was as if my decisions weren't really mine. Doors that I never knocked upon were opened for me. I never even applied at Northeastern University, yet I was awarded a full scholarship there."
"You have to give yourself some credit. You earned what came your way, and you deserved the recognition given you. Someone saw potential in you," I offered in an attempt to raise her spirits.
"What, as a sex slave?" she gushed. "Potential? Did they see in me the potential to be a subject in their perverted experiments in mind control? Did they see me on campus one day and decide that I would be perfect to fuck strange men while hooked up to their gadgetry?" She was on the verge of tears, tears brought about by the weighty facts that had been thrust upon her.
"Yes, you were a victim," I responded. "We both were. The two of us were surely somebody's puppets. I don't know, but maybe someone is still pulling our strings!" I paused to let my cliched words sink in before continuing, "We need to be strong and work together to sever those strings."
She managed a weak smile, "You're right, of course." Her smile faded and stretched into a somber line of doubt, "But there is something else, and it's eating at my insides even now!"
"What is that?" I asked kneeling next to the chair in which she was seated.
"What if my attraction to you came about because of ... and only because of those experiments?" She turned away to avoid looking at me and said almost in a whisper, "Wouldn't that mean that I had no part and no say when I found myself falling in love with you?"
I placed my fingers under her chin to turn her head but she resisted and tried to stand. Although she tried to free herself I pulled her against me and tightened my grasp about her waist. "Susan," I said softly, "I don't know about the physical attraction part of your concerns. Frankly, I don't care about that." When she turned to face me our noses brushed as she looked into my eyes. Our lips were barely touching as I continued, "Those machines and those experiments were not controlling my heart."
She relaxed and succumbed to my embrace, "You mean ...?"
I nodded but she didn't give me a chance to respond. Our lips met forcibly and her tongue prompted me to allow my lips to part. Our kiss was long, passionate and hungry. She pulled away and glanced in the direction of the bed across the room and my eyes followed suit.
I pushed her back a bit and said, "As I was trying to say before I was so pleasantly interrupted, "I've fallen in love with you too."
She released a deep sigh and said, "It's probably not the right time..."
I declared on cue, "And it's definitely not the right place ..."
We spoke in chorused union, "Why not?"
Susan's hand inadvertently came in contact with the computer keyboard and lights on the CPU began blinking and a start up whir could be heard from within the unit. Lines of data were scrolling by on the screen at a dizzying pace that no human eye could possibly follow.
Initially we were not aware of the electronic activity, so wrapped up were we in the passion and wanton desires that had overcome us. In heated frenzy we had in mere moments divested one another of our uppermost garments. Naked to the waist we were locked in embrace, primal instincts driving us.
The sudden movement of its carriage startled us when the printer sprang to life, the herky-jerky vibrations shaking the device and the table on which it rested. In the next moment there was a series of resonating screeches as the laser jet fired line after line upon the sheets of paper as they were being fed through the printer.
I tried to ignore the disturbance, turning my attention back to the woman in my arms. It was Susan who broke our embrace. The spell had been broken once again. She shrugged her shoulders and moved across the room leaving me to follow in her wake.
She picked up one the ejected sheets and studied if for a moment. Her eyebrows arched and she conveyed to me, "It's an alphabetized list of names and they are all appear to be women!"
I was peering at the screen of the terminal paying particular attention to the command line at the 'C' prompt. The data must have been in cue waiting for the 'print' command to be entered. I thought of Jimmy and realized that the list must have been what he was working on ... before he was killed.
"Twenty pages ... thirty-five names on each. Good grief! That's seven hundred names, Ben!" Susan noted.
"Seven hundred, eh?" I muttered. "Wait until you hear the name of the file that just printed."
"Don't keep me in suspense," she voiced. "What is it?"
My eyebrows were raised when I replied, "My Butterfly Collection!"
An audible gasp escaped her lips. I too was in awe of the number and the ramifications of what the numbers must have represented. Was it possible that there were seven hundred women out there somewhere who had been subjected to those experiments? Were there seven hundred women, who in that very intimate private part of their bodies were also tagged with tattoos of butterflies?
Susan's face was flushed with anger. "My Butterfly Collection? The audacity!" she exclaimed. She motioned with her hand to indicate the apartment and to whom it belonged before asking, "Do you think that was Jimmy's list?"
"I can't say for certain, but I don't think so. More likely than not ... I'd say he hacked it from somewhere." I looked away and suggested, "He may have been detected and that's why he was ... killed."
I studied the computer equipment on the desk and then tilted the CPU tower. I removed the small packet of index cards hidden there and powered down the equipment. I was about to place the cards into the pocket of my shirt when I remembered it was lying on the floor next to the bed ... next to Susan's top.
I leaned against the desk and watched her moving about. I was mesmerized by each jiggle and bounce of her breasts. At that moment I wanted nothing more than to scoop her into my arms and to carry her over to that bed.
She must have felt my intense interest in her, for she turned and faced me. "Just what are you staring at, Ben Bering?" she posed to admonish me. She then made her way with deliberate but sensual strides to our discarded clothing on the floor. Tossing my shirt to me she playfully stuck out her tongue and said, "For a reporter, you sure can get easily distracted."
She was right of course, but I decided to add to her playful banter. "You can be one annoying little tease, you know that? I have a mind to turn you over my knee ..." I paused as she was donning her top before continuing, "...but then, you'd probably like it."
She approached me and on tiptoe touched her lips against mine. "You're so cute when you're horny." She backed out my reach and grew serious, "So, where do we go from here, Ben?"
I tucked my shirt in my pants and said, "For now, let's keep that list to ourselves. I can think of no reason for anyone else to know about it." I patted the index cards as I dropped them into my shirt pocket, "These are Jimmy's passwords, file names and contacts. There just might be some clues and answers hidden in that computer. That job will be too time consuming. We can dig around in those files later."
She nodded in agreement. "That brings us back to Michelle, doesn't it? You must know that I have to know about a certain discrepancy. You know, that extra skin or lack thereof?"
I struggled with an uncomfortable grin, "Yes, that too. There's also the matter of her notes in the cabinet. I believe I've solved that one."
"Me too," said Susan. "The notes are a clue to the location of her body and Michael's mind. Yes?"
"Possibly," I replied, "Not to burst your bubble, but I'm more inclined to think that they are a clue to the identity of ... Mr. X."
(To be continued in part 31 on Friday, 3/13/09, with Things That Go Boom in the Night.)