The Torus Project

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 17 (v.1)

Submitted: February 10, 2011

Reads: 65

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Submitted: February 10, 2011

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Chapter 17
10:04 p.m., Saturday
“Damn! What cued him off?” said Kevill, who sat up, knocking the wine he was drinking onto the black leather couch.
“Not sure,” said Josh in surprise. He pushed some laptop buttons as if that would bring back their prey. “I give him credit. Something must have tipped him.”
“But what?” said Kevill. “Now we have a live wire on the loose. It’s unacceptable!”
Daka stood cross-armed by the couch. “I’ll break in his apartment tonight and do the job that Amber couldn’t.” He had recently returned to the group after Rachel George awoke and was released on her own cognizance. The lady felt woozy, but Daka had driven her home, instead of Kevill’s house, telling her to drink, rest, and call Mary Baker in the morning.
“Too risky. What if campus security saw you?” eyed Kevill. Daka returned the look with a glare that read, “I’m much too professional to slip up like that.”
“I can inoculate,” said Madalene. “He doesn’t know me, right?”
“She has a point,” said Josh. “The man has seen all of us but her.”
Standing up from the sofa to allow Madalene to dab up the spilled wine, pacing back forth and forth, Kevill thought the situation over. A close watch would definitely have to be made on Brian Minor, a second attempt to inoculate coming soon. “What about his friend, Mike? That might be the easiest way since Amber now has somehow tipped him off. Get her on direct, will you, Josh?”
“Sure.” The German activated her link through his computer. “You’re up.”
“Amber?” Kevill shouted into the computer on Josh’s lap. “Amber, what happened?”
A few high-pitched rings came over the living room speakers through which the connection was patched, followed by a heavy sigh. “What do you mean happened? You were listening in the whole time?”
Kevill commandeered the laptop from Josh with a firm grip on both sides. “Yes. It’s an important venture. We needed a first-hand view.”
“Why not use my eyes as cameras, too?”
“We’re working on that,” said Kevill. He sat next to Josh and spoke in careful tones. “Now, tell me, what freaked your boyfriend like that?”
Another sigh. “Hell if I know. I had the box and was just about to give it to him. Then he cuts out, rushes to his car, and speeds away.”
“Okay, okay. No idea why he did that, though?”
“No idea. One moment we were having a close thing, you know. The next moment he has wild eyes and is darting away.”
“Okay, okay. Kevill out.” He dropped the laptop back on Josh’s legs.
“Josh, get the Reynolds boy. We’ll prep him for another shot tomorrow. This Brian has got to come to our side. No question about it.”
#
Mary Baker sat with Wilson on his bed, a book out ready to go.
“Let’s skip the book tonight, Wilson. I have better story for you.”
“What?” The little boy had allowed Mary to brush his thick, brown hair and now sat content under the covers. A bedside lamp surrounded them with an island of light.
“It’s about the world and the people in it.”
“That’s boring.” Wilson started picking his nose.
“It’s about things we do together.”
“Like what?”
“Like loving each other for who we are as individuals.”
“Uh, huh.”
“Wilson, do you love your dad?”
Wilson looked down at his bed sheets and twisted his small fingers around them.
“Yes.” He paused. “And my mom, too.”
Mary hugged him. “Yes, dear. And mom, too. I know. And they love you. And what if everyone loved each other?”
“I don’t know.” He looked back up at Mary, confusion on his face.
“If we all loved each other, just think—we wouldn’t have any fights.” Her tone soothed Wilson, all monotone and warm like he remembered a little about his mother. “People could do things they liked to do and not have to worry about money or if another person hates them for what they think or believe.”
“Uh, huh. I want a story!”
“Okay. Look at my necklace here. Do you see the squished circle, kind of like the number eight?”
“Yeah.” He reached out and touched it.
The nanites inside her head caused Mary to envision a larger purpose for her life, a clear purpose to teach children what she saw, to give them in turn the gift of the Torus. 
She saw a destination and improvised a story for little Wilson. “Once there was a man who saw a circle and placed it in his hands. He saw the world as a circle, with everyone connected together, everyone living together in peace.” She moved her hands to shape a circle in front of Wilson’s face, cupping them under his chin.
“The idea was not a new one, but he also read the newest books in science and decided to take the circle in his hands and twist it like my necklace here. He called his creation a Torus. The word came from another word meaning ‘getting bigger.’ And the Torus was a new idea and an old idea. And it took shape in everyone’s mind to be together.
“No one fought for money. No country warred with another one. Peace was all over the world, and the Torus connected them all.”
“But what about the animals?” asked Wilson with a yawn. “Did they think about the . . . the Toe . . . rus, too?”
“That’s a good question, Wilson!” Mary clapped her hands and put them on Wilson’s leg for a second. “The animals, you see—the birds and the elephants, the cats and the dogs—they all already knew about the Torus. Only humans had to relearn about it.”
“Why didn’t the animals teach the humans?”
“They tried. In everything the animals did—flying and jumping and eating and crawling and swimming—” Mary acted out the verbs she described. “But people didn’t know how to listen, really. They were too busy working and talking—and fighting—to notice.
“Most of them, though. The man who created the Torus, he knew. He knew about the animals and the earth. He knew how to listen to the animals and learn from them.”
“Really?” said Wilson. “What about the dolphins? Did the dolphins talk to him, too?”
“Oh, yes. The dolphins were very smart, just like they are today, and they talked to him a lot. They told him about oceans, about the creatures that swim in the water.”
“Uh, huh. What about the squirrels?”
“The squirrels? They told the man about the trees. They told him about eating seeds and nuts and looking for food.”
“Uh, huh. And what about the lion?”
“Oh. The lion was very brave. The lion would come right up next to the man and tell him about many things—like hunting and living under trees and running very fast on the ground.”
“Uh, huh. And what about the fish?”
“The fish, Wilson, the fish were like the dolphins. Everything is connected under the Torus, don’t you see?”
Wilson sat there in silence for a few seconds and then said, “I want a necklace like yours. I want a Toe . . . rus.”
“Well, if you’re a good boy, maybe the next time I come over we can see about that.” Mary felt a quiver in her stomach, more than the flu-like illness that had come over her today. She felt an excitement, something new and wonderful in her soul. “Now, let’s go to sleep.” She patted Wilson’s head and tucked him in. “Your daddy should be home pretty soon.”
And Mary left Wilson to think about his animals and dream of a man who held the world in his hand. Mary herself believed that man to be Dr. Andrew Kevill, someone who had given her a gift, albeit without asking first, but a gift nonetheless. She sat in the living room, in darkness, and breathed deeply, letting the day soak in. She felt tired and achy, but the thoughts that ran through her mind were really quite wondrous! She fully believed this day was the first in a brand new life.
 
#
 
Brian raced home through the clear night, barely stopping at lights and signs, his mind focused on Wilson. Things were a blur, but stuck in his mind, too, were Ms. Baker, Mike, even Amber having that same necklace, that same twisted figure eight. It had to be! And Ms. Baker was there with Wilson. Who knows? Maybe she’s doing something to Wilson right now!
His speed, though, soon caught the attention of the campus police, and one of them pulled him over.
“Officer,” Brian practically yelled at the man as he approached the driver’s door. He clenched his wheel, sweat running down forehead and cheeks. “You have to let me off! My son is in trouble!”
The sturdy-faced cop squeezed his brow together. “Just hold it there, sir. You say your son is in trouble. How old is your boy?”
“Five. Five! Can’t this wait, sir?” Brian remembered some of his respect for authority even in the midst of panic. “I’ve got to get home to my son!”
The policeman wasn’t following Brian into his frantic state, though. He continued in measured words. “And what exactly is wrong with your son?”
“Huh?” Brian’s blood boiled. He just couldn’t wait through these inane questions! “Nothing. I mean someone’s hurting him possibly. The babysitter!”
“The babysitter!” The cop placed a hand on Brian’s door and shined his flashlight into Brian’s eyes, checking if they were drunk blood-shot. “You mean you left your son with a bad babysitter! Won’t you step out of the car for a moment, sir?”
Brian’s eyes shifted. He paused. “N . . . No. I can’t! My son!” And with that, Brian ignited the engine and pressed the gas pedal, leaving the officer standing in the road, though only for an instant until he saw the flashing lights and heard sirens wailing not too far behind.
Thankfully, he thought, he was only a few blocks from student housing, so, once in his lot, Brian dashed out of his car and headed toward his apartment before the police car could stop him. However, just before he had made it to the wrought-iron stairs that led up to his apartment, he heard the word “Freeze!” from off to his side.
“I said ‘Freeze,’ Mister! Hands where I can see them!” A different policeman who had been patrolling the area by bicycle stood beside his vehicle about 20 meters from Brian, his slick black firearm raised in both hands.
Brian was surprised by the flanking move, thinking he could at least check on Wilson before the other cop located him. Where did he come from? Pinned, hands raised instinctively, he spread legs apart as the original police car that had pulled him over screeched into the lot, sirens blaring.
“Down on the ground! Face down! Down, down!” The second policeman slowly approached Brian, unbuckling cuffs from behind his back as he continued to aim the gun. Inhaling a thick smell of grass and gravel, Brian glimpsed neighbors starting to gather about the fringes of the parking lot as he lay on his stomach, hands out, legs apart.
The next moments hurt while the cops frisked him, cuffed him, and turned him over to a sitting position on the rough concrete.
“What the hell were you thinking, son?” the first cop said, an older man with dark hair. “You’re in a whole lot of trouble now. More than just speeding.”
Brian craned his neck to look up toward his apartment landing and see Ms. Baker looking down, with the smaller head of his son Wilson beside her. The vision hurt much worse than his cuffing, for his son now had an image of his father being captured by police. Could he ever erase that?
“I had to see about my son,” he mumbled and looked down again at his crotch. By this time two other patrol units had convened on the parking lot, the officers trying to disperse the crowd.
“He mentioned that before,” said the first cop. “Where’s your son? We’ll send an officer to check on him.”
“Up there.” Brian motioned with his head. “Apartment 1542.”
Great, he thought. I try to save my son, and now I just put him in worse danger! Plus, I’ve let him down! What will Wilson think seeing his dad placed in cuffs and put in jail!
An officer went up to Brian’s apartment as Brian himself was escorted into the back of the patrol car from which he had originally sped away. Brian saw Ms. Baker come out and talk to the officer, Wilson in tow, both appearing very worried. The officer broke away from the pair and headed down to the car, conversing a bit with his fellow patrolmen.
Wilson seemed okay, thought Brian, but was he really? He couldn’t know for sure until he actually spoke with his son. An officer got in the front seat, staring back at Brian suspiciously through the rear-view window. “Looks like your son—Wilson, is it?—is okay with . . . ah . . . Ms. Baker.” He turned to face Brian through the protective glass. “What’s got into you, guy? Both vouch that you are who you say you are. You can tell me. Bad drugs? You can’t tell me that old lady is any threat to anyone.”
Brian sighed. He thought about spilling everything. The nanotechnology. The pendants. The way his friend Mike had acted weird. But he knew it wouldn’t stick. He knew all he had were suspicions, hunches. Nothing concrete to hand over to the police. Nothing even close to counter a government project. “No, no drugs, officer. Just worried about my son,” he mumbled. The car felt alien and cramped. He knew he had made a big mistake . . . or did he? Looking back and up at Mary and Wilson, he could have sworn she wore a necklace that shimmered in the soft light of the apartment landing.
 
#
 
With his one call, Brian phoned Jackie, who somehow came up with the money to bail him out.
“Thanks, Jack. I owe you one.”
“What is going on, Bri? Why’d you take off from the police like that? You’ve got Ms. Baker worried sick!”
“I’ll tell you in the car. I just need to see if Wilson’s okay, all right?”
The two exited the campus police station and hopped into Jackie’s white Corolla. Brian read the clock at 1:30 a.m.“Wilson’s okay, Brian. I talked to him myself, just like you asked.” Jackie wore shorts, sandals, and a purple t-shirt that read “Girl power”. She looked like Brian had taken her out of bed and didn’t have that made-up shine he usually saw her with. “What happened with you and Amber? Weren’t you two going out?”
“That’s just it!” he spurted, his animation clicking in with hand gestures and quick words. “That’s just it! You remember that necklace she had on the first night we met her?”“Necklace?” Jackie shot Brian a surprised look. “What are you talking about? . . . I guess.”
“The necklace, with the weird figure-eight pendant? Amber had it on again tonight!”
“So?” They pulled into the city streets towards Brian’s apartment.
“So? And so did Ms. Baker. And so did Mike!”
“So did what?” Jackie was giving Brian a look like he had gone off the deep end for sure.
“They all had on the same fucking necklace, Jack!” 
She had never seen Brian so charged up. “What does that have to do with you playing criminal tonight?”
He slapped his thighs in frustration. “I was over at Amber’s. We had had a good time. I was relaxed, enjoying myself, when she brings out this box, this present to give me.”
“And?”
“And that’s when it all clicked. I saw her necklace, and I remembered they both had the same necklace when I met them at Sam’s.”
“Who?”
“Amber and Mike! Mike’s been acting strange, and along comes this necklace on him. And he says he’s being followed, and Carol and I see the guy at the nano lab! You saw him, too! And then even Ms. Baker has the damn thing on!”
“You mean you think it’s some kinda of conspiracy? Like . . . like the body snatchers or something?” she said, her face wrinkled.
“Hell, I don’t know, Jack. But I don’t want Wil to be a part of it!” He paused, eyes growing wide. “Kevill’s in on a government project! He must know I know!” He paused again. “That’s why I sped so much to see Wil. If anything happened to my son, I don’t know what I would do! He’s all I got!”
Jackie sped more toward Brian’s apartment, her look turning from surprise to worry.


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