Friday, April 15, 2011

Butterfly Dreams (55)

(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)-
A Deadly Digital Dilemma

Michelle's eyes darted from Rosie, to Professor Jordan, to Jeremy Baxter and back to Rosie again. When no explanation was tendered she gulped and asked, "What do mean it's time for your dreams to end?"

"My dreams, your dreams," she waved her arm to encompass everyone present, "our butterfly dreams must come to end. The entire network and all the records must be shut down ... destroyed once and for all."

"But, Rosie," I muttered, "you said you were irreversibly linked with the program. What happens to you?"

Her stoic remark was chilling, "I will die."

Professor Jordan stood behind her and rested his hands on her shoulders and spoke with the same fatalistic tone, "...As will I, along with Bishop King." He saw the question forming on their faces and addressed the matter, "Yes, Julius Gates will suffer the same fate."

"What about President Addams? Will he die also?" asked Baxter.

Jordan cleared his throat, "I don't think anyone present wants responsibility of the death of our President on their conscience. You can belay your fears, we don't have to worry about that. Addams will survive and except for some lost memories, he'll be none the worse for wear."

"That's all well and good, Professor," I said, "but how is that he will survive and not Gates? For that matter, why must you and Rosie die?"

"I'm afraid you can blame ... or thank Gates himself for that. You see, it all comes down to all of those neural implants. There are literally hundreds of those devices out there, all of them located at the bases of the skulls of unsuspecting puppets waiting for a programmed command to send them on some mission of Gates' bidding."

O'Day shivered, "We saw first hand at the nursing home what those things can do to someone. It's not a pretty sight when one of those things is detonated."

"I don't understand," Michelle said, "what about the implants? What do they have to do with who survives?"

"As nefarious as those things are," Jordan began, "the implants will actually protect those who have them. In addition to President Addams, everyone one of you in this room have them ... everyone but myself and ... Rosie."

"Perhaps," Rosie chimed in, "since I am attuned to the programs, I can explain it in simpler terms. When I ... when we shut down the entire network, there will be a signal surge throughout Gates' system. The implants will receive two instantaneous commands, one to completely erase the memories of every facet of the mind research and another for them to become inert. Professor Jordan and myself are in agreement that it is very likely the surge will also cause some minor irritation which will in turn trigger the immune system to release leukocytes to the infected area."

I began to feel a familiar twinge in the center of my forehead and a quick glance to Michelle confirmed she was feeling the same sensation. Rosie was looking at us and winked.

"Michelle and Michael, only the two of you will receive my thoughts. With young David's help there will also be a subroutine that will be sent only to your implants. Once the system and all of the programs are shut down, we will need to have someone with their memories intact. A well known quote comes to mind, 'Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.' We cannot be blind to the possibility, no matter how remote, that Gates may have had backups to all of his programs."

"Mother," Michelle minded, "is there no other way? There must be a way to save you."

"No, I will die either way. Even now I'm becoming more and more the program and less and less Rosie Gates. My physical body is failing ... without my human brain to control my bodily functions I will expire soon enough. It is a deadly digital dilemma, but one I am prepared for ... it will be my legacy."

In an abrupt tilt of her head she announced vocally, "The time is near. Gates is on his way. He has commandeered a jeep and is holding David hostage. He is planning on using him as a bargaining chip."

"He's alone?" queried Baxter. "Wingate, the FBI agents and his secret service attachment aren't with him?"

"As you predicted, Mr. Baxter," she replied, "he's acting on his one glaring weakness. The arrogance of his ego and the threat to his authority is driving him."

"I'm sensing a showdown," I opined. "Just how is Gates' presence going to help with shutting down everything? Surely you don't think he'll just stand by and allow that to happen."

"That's the tricky part, Michael," Jordan responded. "We have to convince him that in order to save his program and to salvage his plans he will have to link directly with network. Of course, he has to think that his actions are his own."

I motioned my head to where Ben and Susan were quietly seated, almost oblivious to the proceedings. "What of them? What's to happen to them? It seems to me that they've been nothing more than pawns in the whole thing."

"Ah," Jordan winked, "our two friends here have been as perplexing to Gates as well as to you and Michelle. Of course, by now I think it is abundantly clear to all present that they are not Ben Bering and Susan Parsons."

The conversation in the hidden laboratory at the university that Michelle and I had had with Bishop King's interactive holographic image came to mind. "Persephone!" I espoused. I swallowed hard and tried to separate my psyche from the body of Michael black. "Then they really are the twins ... of Ben and Susan."

"Yes," he nodded. He glanced at them with sad eyes and continued, "They've been living a rather unremarkable but comfortable life in a small Midwestern town. I'm afraid it was I who disrupted their lives and brought them into the center of this whole mess."

"Ahem, you can't take the entire blame, Professor ... Bishop," interjected Stu. He made eye contact with Michelle and I and elaborated, "Michael ... Ben ... damn it's so confusing even for me. Your brother, Ben's brother ... is Jonathan Jankowski ... my nephew."

"Nephew?" I stuttered. "Are you trying to tell me ... that would make you ... my uncle?"

"My sister died forty-six years ago giving birth to Jonathan and ... to Thomas. My wife, God rest her soul, and I took them in as their legal guardians. We tried to raise them ..."

"Wait a minute," Susan yelped. She lowered her head in an apologetic gesture for the interruption and said, "Please, can't you fill Michael in later? What about me? What's the story with me and my twin?"

Jordan moved toward her and frowned, "I'm afraid that the lives of you and your twin sister are a little more complicated. Under the circumstances that story is also a very delicate matter."

"What? All of my life has been a lie! You know the truth and you're not going to tell me!" she pleaded.

The professor attempted to place his hands on her shoulders but she moved away. "Michelle, I will reveal the truth ... in time." He spread his open palms before her and with his voice barely perceptible whispered, "You see, there is the matter of another set of twins."

"Professor Jordan, don't patronize me. We know all about Michael's twin brother Jeremy. What does that have to do with me?"

"Michelle," he said, "and I'm deliberately speaking to you as Michelle ... I'm referring to the twin sister of Michelle Gray!"

( To be continued

You Can't Choose Your Relations)


1 comment:

Hale McKay said...

Dear Readers,

Sorry for the delay in getting this installment up and available.

First of all, I was laid for 4 days with some nasty virus. It took another 2 days for me to regain my strength and appetite.

Secondly, as you may have guessed already, this story is winding down to a near future completion.

Beginning with this post, a lot of unanswered questions have been left hanging over the cast (and readers).

While sick, I took the opportunity to go back and re-reread the first story, "The Strange Story of Mr. Black and Ms Gray." The I re-read this story to date. I did this to make sure I had no egregious mistakes to the story lines of the two tales.

In short, it's time to find out just who the characters are ...