Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Butterfly Dreams (33)

(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)-
Le Chambre Noire

Le chambre noire ... the phrase reverberated in my brain. I was only too aware that I was being directed, drawn to some mysterious dark room.

There were no words forming in my mind. I could sense no remote presence. It was as if some knowledge of the room had been awakened from deep within my subconscious memories.

The same thing had happened when Michelle and I had visited the campus before. We had somehow navigated our way through a maze of secret passages and tunnels that we could not have known existed.

I shuddered when I recalled those revelations that Professor Jordan had laid upon us. He claimed that years ago certain memories had been implanted into our minds and that those memories were what guided us to his secret lab.

Moreover, it was the other part of his story that had troubled us the most. As it was, it had been traumatic enough for Susan and I to have had our minds transferred into the bodies of Michelle Grey and Michael Black. Then Jordan had broadsided us with the claim that we had actually had our minds transferred back into our original bodies!

It had taken the better part of a year for Susan and I to become Michelle and Michael. It was disconcerting to think that we really were Michelle and Michael. It just couldn't be, I thought. What about my lifetime of memories as Benjamin Bering? What about Susan's memories?

If all of that wasn't confounding enough, Ben and Susan were alive! Who were they? Whose minds were in their bodies? Were they mindless automatons functioning solely on mind-projected instructions?

I welcomed Agent Ferrara's sudden interruption, "Hold it right there, Black!"

When I turned to face him my attention was drawn to his service pistol which was aimed in my direction. "Wh-what?" I stammered, "What's with the gun?"

Landers stepped forth and placed his hand on the man's wrist, "Uh, partner, what do think you're doing?"

"Can't you see that he's leading us into a trap?" he snapped pushing the other man's hand aside.

"Get a hold of yourself, Ferrara," Landers shouted.

His gun still raised Ferrara snarled, "Why are we following him on this ... this dream walk? Can't you see they are in his head? Next they'll be in our heads!"

"Nonsense!" Landers countered. "Remember our assignment, agent. I don't need you becoming a loose cannon, not when we're this close to our objective."

I arched my eyebrows as his words registered. When they insisted on driving me there, they weren't interested in Susan. They wanted Professor Jordan! They were using me to lead them to him.

Their attention focused on one another, I began inch away from them. I saw that we were about ten feet away from the entrance of one of the campus buildings. I thought if I could make it to the door, I might be able to lose them.

I hadn't taken two steps when the roar of a gun rang out and the ground exploded next to my foot. I stumbled and fell onto the ground. "Damn!" I yelped.

I lie there stunned and watched as Landers tackled Ferrara to the ground. The two agents were wrestling in the grass. It was obvious that Landers was struggling to disarm his partner. The silence of early morning air was shattered by a loud crack. Ferrara rolled onto his knees and stared first at the pistol in his hand and then at the unmoving man next to him.

"My gun ... it didn't discharge!" he uttered. He grasped his partner's shoulder and shook him. "I didn't shoot you."

From the shadows of the building there was movement and another shot rang out. The kneeling agent cried out and clutched at his shoulder. Shaking his head he gazed at something in his hand and tried to rise to his feet. A gurgling sound escaped his lips and then he collapsed upon the other man's body.

I remained frozen where I stood, not daring to move. I was certain that I too was probably in the sniper's sights. I heard the footsteps before the shooter came into view.

"It's a good thing I followed you here. It's becoming a habit for me coming to your rescue," said an all too familiar voice. "Maybe you should hire me as your personal bodyguard."

"You just shot two FBI agents!" I muttered.

Sergeant Brock O'Day was grinning as he moved next to me. He raised the weapon he was carrying and announced, "Relax, Michael. They're not dead." He pulled something from his jacket pocket and placed it in my hand.

Recognizing the object I whispered, "Darts. You shot them with tranquilizer darts!"

He raised a thumb and replied, "Yep. Remember the incident at that Portland Street warehouse?" He waited for my nod of acknowledgment and added, "I confiscated a couple of the guns and a handful of the darts. I figured they might come in handy some day."

I glanced at the fallen agents and said, "And so they did. But ... shooting federal agents ... even with darts ..."

O'Day winked and said, "I don't see any witnesses. Do you?"

I grinned and shook my head. "Then we don't want to be here when they wake up."

"I'll take care of them. I'll carry them back to their car. When they come to, they won't know what the hell happened." He pulled a cellphone out his breast pocket and snorted, "First things first. There's something I have to verify."

A few moments after he pressed a few buttons, a chirping sound emanated from nearby. He stooped by the sleeping form of Agent Ferrara and began to fish through his pockets. Standing up he held aloft the man's cellphone.

My brow furrowed and I queried, "How did you get his cell phone number?"

He indicated the other cellphone and stated, "That's exactly what I want to ask Faye. This is her phone."

"It was Faye? I didn't want to believe it," I said. "She left an anonymous message that they should identify the bodies in Ben's and Susan's graves."

"Jesus. What did your ex-wife hope to accomplish?" he roared. He clenched and unclenched his fists several times before speaking again. "With Ben and Susan apparently very much alive, they must have known that they would find the graves empty." He studied my face for a moment and then asked, "They were empty, weren't they?"

I shook my head, "No. I'm afraid your current wife led them to two, as of yet, unidentified bodies." To add to his dismay I told him that the causes of death were identical as those of the woman at the nursing home.

He drew in a long gulp of air and exhaled. He faced me and said, "While you're taking care of whatever you were up to here, I'll take care of these two." He glanced at his watch, "It's almost six thirty. I'll meet you right here. Don't be too long, you've got a nine o'clock flight to catch."

I stood by the doorway and watched as he lifted Ferrara off of the other agent. Without a word he set off in the direction of the street where their car was parked.

Inside the building, I knew that I had to take the first hallway on the right. The third door in the hallway, underneath a sign labeled 'Photography Lab' was unlocked as I knew it would be. On the far side of the lab was a door bearing the lettering 'Dark Room.'

Once inside I blinked my eyes trying to adjust my vision to the utter darkness within the small room. I heard the swish of a panel opening somewhere above me. By the time I realized what a strange hissing sound might be, I found myself having trouble catching my breath.

On the floor, gasping for air, I thought of Ferrara's fear that it might be a trap. My last conscious thoughts were the words ... "Le chambre noire."

( To be continued

Whose Life Is It? )



Hale McKay said...

I don't know what the hell I had, but tonight is the best I've felt in almost a week.

A paragraph here and a paragraph or two there, it's taken me all this time just to put this installment together.

Hopefully, I can get back on track and get this story going.

Sandee said...

I just don't like Faye. At. All.

Hopefully O'Day is right about the two FBI agents not knowing what happened to themselves.

Who are the two unidentified bodies? I'd like to know that.

What happened in the dark room and why. Is it a trap? Or not.

Glad you are finally feeling better. Being on the mend is a good thing.

Have a terrific day. :)

Hale McKay said...


Something tells me that the FBI agent will still figure in the later story development.

When the bodies are ID'd - will they be characters already introduced? Perhaps - in a way ...