The Torus Project

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

Chapter 29 (v.1)

Submitted: February 15, 2011

Reads: 52

A A A | A A A

Submitted: February 15, 2011



Chapter 29
1:23 p.m., Tuesday
Along with Amber, Brian picked up Wilson from Jackie’s place and headed back to his own. Everyone was tense, including Wilson, who had tried to play with Amber and her new headgear but soon found out no one was in a joyful mood. Jackie had wanted to follow them to be sure everything was okay, but Brian cautioned her to stay home, doors locked.
“Maybe they’ll leave you alone, Jack, since Amber’s the one they want.”
Amber put a damper on the idea, her face sad and serious. “I think they want everyone, Brian. Eventually, Kevill wants the whole world.”
Later that evening, after Wil had gone to sleep, Brain questioned a tired Amber about her statement. 
“How could he hope to change the whole world?” They sat on the living room couch, but Brian kept getting up and pacing, often looking outside through the windows and door peephole to see if anyone was around. He was also cautious to have no TV, computer, or radio noise so they could listen for anyone coming up the landing outside. The electronics, too, could mess with Amber’s new gear, for all he knew.
“Simple. He hopes to create a massive chain reaction that spreads from person to person to person.” She looked beat, but Brian couldn’t help an inner smile every once in awhile, both at seeing her safe and at seeing her wearing that oversized black baseball cap.
“Doesn’t he have to control each person, monitor them, like he has with you?”
She shook her head. “I don’t think so. I don’t know. Once the implants take effect, people would pretty much be changed for good.”
A car engine revved in the parking lot. Brian got up and looked outside for a minute before talking again. “I don’t believe it. You don’t seem so transformed into a Kevill machine. How come you could fight it?”
“I’m not sure. Maybe because I was one of the first, still in the experimental stages.” She rubbed her eyes and looked at Brian with a smile. “Maybe it’s because I met you.”
Brian sat back down and gave Amber a soft kiss. “Maybe. I’m just glad you’re here with me now.”
“Are you?” Amber said, turning toward him to stare into his eyes.
He looked surprised. “Sure. Amber, I’ve found something with you. I don’t know how to explain it, but a piece of my life now seems complete.” He shifted his hands nervously and stared at the floor. So long since Rebecca. And now, so strong.
Amber tried to return the kiss but ended up hitting Brian on the forehead with her hat. They both laughed.
“I . . . I believe you,” she said. “I guess I just have a hard time trusting . . . ever since my father died and Kevill started controlling my life.”
Brian put his hand on hers. “How did he die, Amber? What happened?”
Her eyes grew damp, her face suddenly tense. “It was terrible, Brian. I . . . haven’t talked about it to anyone.”
“Just like me about Rebecca, huh?” He tried a soothing smile.
“He evidently experimented with some of the same things Kevill is using now,” she continued after Brian got her a tissue. “He was world-known in nanotechnology, Brian. He really was!”
“Ah, huh. I know. I came across his name a few times in my research on the subject.”
“And during my teenage years, he would share with me his ideas and experiments. I often accompanied him to seminars and lectures. I looked up to him and loved him.” She told Brian of her mother passing away of breast cancer when Amber was eleven years old.
“And then,” Brian prodded her.
“And then, all of a sudden he got secretive. I asked him about his work, but all he could say was that he had started a new project, a government project that was hush-hush.”
“Government again, eh?”
“Yeah.” Amber’s face flashed anger for a moment. “A government project. And it consumed him. I saw my father go from a happy, carefree man to someone obsessed, with little time for me anymore.”
“I bet that made you feel sad.”
“And angry,” Amber continued. She paused a moment to take a deep breath. “And Doctor Kevill started hanging around. Back then he seemed like a nice guy, Brian. Kind of shy and weird, but he was nice to me. Kevill and my dad were working on the project together, I found out.”
She paused again and wiped her eyes. “It was Doctor Kevill who told me the news . . . an accident, he said. My dad was working at the lab when some chemicals got loose, he said, and were fatal.”
“Well, I know better now. I think the nanites got loose, really, an early stage of the bugs, and they infected my dad’s brain so much, he shut down.”
“Oh, geez!” said Brian.
They held hands for a minute, and Brian got up to peer out the window again. He turned toward her quickly, his eyebrows raised. “Where was Kevill when your father was . . . infected?”
Amber blinked. “I don’t know really. He said he found him later.”
“Don’t you think that’s a little suspicious, especially from what we know of the man now?” Brian sat next to her.
“Are you saying Doctor Kevill killed my dad?” Amber’s voice rose. She sat up with a straight back.
“You have to admit, it’s a possibility, Amber,” Brian said. “I know he was nice to you and took you in and everything, but the guy’s ruthless at the core. I think we’ve discovered that out at least.”
“Yeah. He’s a liar.” Amber held a couch pillow tightly in her hands, squeezing it close and staring into space.
“Come on. Let’s get you to bed. You need the rest.” Brian took her hand and led her to the bedroom. “I’ll sleep on the couch and make sure no one tries to break in on us.”
“Don’t do that!” Amber had started changing into the pajamas she had worn at Kevill’s. Brian saw her body, and his own body felt tingly and tugged toward her. “Please stay here with me. I’m scared.”
“Ah. Okay.” He stood statue-like as she disrobed and put on her pajamas in front of him. He could tell she was sleepy. Her battened-down cap tilted to one side. “You think you’ll be able to sleep with that thing on?”
“I think so. It’s not too comfortable, but what choice do I have?”
Brian exited briefly to check again on Wilson, got into his own sleeping trunks, and crawled into bed next to Amber. Her eyes were already closed.
“I’m glad I met you,” he whispered. He lay on his back, looking up at the ceiling.
She opened her eyes a bit. “Me, too. I was sent after you at first. But it didn’t take long for me to actually have feelings.”
And she turned toward him, him toward her. And they kissed, acting more like lovers than ever before. Though both were tired and very wary, their desires overcame the needs to worry and sleep. At least for a while. At least for a while, Brian and Amber became one in the night.
Earlier that evening, Jackie received a phone call at about eight o’clock. She and Carol had been taking in some TV, trying to unwind from all the stress that had been thrown their way lately. Her cell’s caller ID showed Mike’s name.
“Don’t answer it, Jackie.” Carol stood up and away from Jackie’s call as if it might bite her.
“Let’s see what he wants.” She picked up the phone and answered it. Only Mike’s voice came through; he didn’t show any video.
“Yes, Mike . . . Right . . . How can I believe you? . . . A bike helmet?” She looked over at Carol with a knowing eye. “But Brian told me how weird you were, Mike . . . Just a minute.”
Jackie held a finger over the cell’s receiver and turned to Carol. “He wants to meet at Sam’s. Says he’s free of the control after accidentally putting on his bike helmet and finding out it blocked the transmission or something.”
“His bike helmet? Call Brian and see what he says,” Carol cautioned. “I don’t know Mike as well as you do, but it sounds kinda strange to me.”
“He doesn’t want to see Brian so soon after their . . . argument. Says he wants to convince us first it’s okay.” Jackie looked down at the phone and at Carol again. “He does sound different, Carol. And it is a public place.”
Carol rolled her eyes and nodded an okay. “If it wasn’t for the helmet thing being like Amber’s hat, I’d say no. And if he doesn’t have a helmet on when we meet him, I’m walking.”
“Sure. Sure.” Jackie got back on the phone. “Okay, Mike you have a deal. We don’t know whether to trust you or not, but we’ll give you a chance. If we see anything fishy, like that black guy, we’ll call the police. That’s all . . . thirty minutes. Okay.”
They got ready and carefully exited Jackie’s apartment on their way to her car.
Sam’s was only about five minutes away, so the two women got there early and found a booth near the front. The place was fairly empty since it was a Tuesday night, with a few couples having something to eat and some fraternity boys playing pool across the room. Sam himself had his eyes on a ball game over the main bar, and only one waitress patrolled the floor, which meant a steady visit to the guys playing pool.
Carol saw Mike first parking his bike outside the building. He wore his typical Hawaiian shirt and some jean shorts. A lightweight, black bicycle helmet adorned his head, and he smiled as he entered the bar. Both made sure he had nothing suspicious in his hands or if anyone had accompanied him.“Hey, ladies,” he said, planting himself beside Jackie in the booth and opposite Carol. His face was flushed from riding, a slight grin on his face. “What are we drinking?”
The ladies eyed each other and Mike, trying to feel him out.
“Just some soda.” Jackie went right to the point. “How exactly did you block the waves or whatever, Mike? You mean to tell us a simple helmet has freed you up?”
He kept his smile and chuckled, placing his hands alongside his head to adjust the helmet. “Well, not exactly.” His face got somber fast, his voice low and secretive. “You see, I’ve been feeling pretty . . . you know, down lately. Sick and tired and not myself.”
“Brian told us that much,” Carol piped in.
“Yeah . . . Well, I don’t know if Kevill had his computers pointing somewhere else, but for about an hour today I received some clarity. And, in that clarity, I remembered an experiment I helped out with once.”
“Uh, huh,” said Jackie, still unconvinced. She pulled her cell out and eyed it, like she was ready to make a call.
“We were working with the body’s natural electromagnetic fields and seeing how increases or decreases of the energies affect brain function.”
Carol’s eyebrows went up. The waitress came over, giving Mike a weird look with his helmet still on and all, and asked if he wanted anything.
“No, thanks,” he said waiting until she went away before he continued in hushed tones. “So I remembered what we used to affect those fields, and I thought, Hey, maybe this can work for me.”
“And?” said Jackie.
“And, hell, I’m here with you guys, aren’t I?” He knocked on the top of his helmet with a few knuckles. “I went to Montor and accessed the supply cabinet. Got a key, ya know. I lined this thing with some of the material we used in that experiment and—voila!—it made an instant success. You guys wouldn’t believe how much different I feel than before.”
Carol shot a look at Jackie. The ex-computing science major wasn’t sold so easily.  “So you blocked Kevill’s transmissions, but he’s already infected your mind, Mike, right? Are you saying he needs constant contact to keep you under his control?”
Mike took on another flashy smile. “I guess so. Before I really felt the need to submit, but now, this . . . this helmet has broken his link somehow. I’m able to fight things better.”
“Maybe we should show Brian, Mike. He’s got this guy in Computing Science who might be able to help you out, too.”
Carol shot Jackie a look as if to tell her to be quiet.
“What?” said Jackie, touching Carol on the arm across the table. “He does seem like his old self, Carol. Maybe he’s telling the truth.”
“Maybe.” Carol took a sip of her cola and stared at the smiling Mike. “So tell me, Mike. What’s Kevill’s plan anyway? Surely you know since you were tapped into his main system, huh?”
Mike looked sideways and out the window. “I don’t know what to think anymore. One day I was a regular student, minding my own business. The next, I had all these thoughts, you know. About the universe and people. I felt a new connection. But in that clarity I had today, I knew it wasn’t right. Something was controlling my mind . . .” His voice trailed off on those last words.
“He wants to control everyone’s mind? Is that it?” continued Carol.
“I guess,” said Mike, rubbing his red hair. “Whatever he put inside my head, it definitely had an impact.”
“And what kinda thoughts did he put there?” asked Jackie.
“Oh, wild stuff. New-agey stuff. Like we’re all connected. The universe is one.” He laughed again but emphasized the next words. “Thinking on it now—in my clarity—it’s like I was a member of a cult or something!”
“Don’t you think he’ll come after you now that you’re blocking his transmissions?” said Carol.
Mike looked around again and slouched in the booth. “Yeah, I worry about that. I thought maybe you guys could help.”
“Us?” said Jackie. She also looked out the bar’s window, making sure her car parked across the street wasn’t being cased by some mind-controlled stranger. “I don’t want to get near the guy!”
“No, you won’t have to.” He looked directly at Carol. “But, Carol, since you have some experience in computers, I thought maybe you could beef up this helmet a bit, maybe, I don’t know, computerize it a little . . . to trick Doctor Kevill’s computers.”
Carol tilted her head and scratched her neck. “I’m nothing compared to Kevill’s expertise, Mike. I don’t know what I could do. Brian’s contact in computing science can help, though, I’m sure.”
Mike smiled, ignoring the reference. “Again the Montor supply closet might have what we need. When I was there today, I found some computer material that maybe we could attach to this helmet.”
“Ah,” said Carol. “Jackie’s right. Again, I bet Brian has an idea where that goes.”
Mike’s face changed again to fear. He reached out and held both women’s hands. “But I’m scared, guys. I’m afraid they’ll catch on any minute and come for me tonight!”
The girls exchanged glances.
“And, hell, I even brought some of the stuff to my apartment. I just need your input for a minute or so, and then I’ll leave you alone and call Brian tomorrow.”
“I don’t know, Mike,” said Jackie. “If they’re after you, that sounds a little dangerous. How about you go get it and meet us at the library or something?”
“Yeah, but if one of my teachers or a fellow student see me with any of this, I’m toast!”
“Aren’t you already toast?” countered Carol. “Aren’t you already walking a line of being some robot person or not?” Her voice rose, catching Sam’s attention across the bar.
Mike stood up and looked around once again. His voice was a whisper. “Okay, okay. We’ll just be careful. I’ll gather the supplies and see you out front of the library in thirty minutes or so, all right?”
“Okay, Mike,” said Jackie. “Just for a few minutes. We want to help, but it’s crazy out there, you know.”
“Oh, I know.” And Mike left, hopping on his bike and racing back down the street.
“He seems weird somehow,” Carol said once Mike had left. “I don’t trust him.”
“Mike’s always been a little weird. And you know he’s been through a lot.” Jackie got up to leave. “Come on, we’ve got to help him if he’s telling the truth. Plus, it’s in a public place. What could happen there?”
They went to Jackie’s car again and headed down the street toward the campus library.
Riding his bike to library, Mike Reynolds received a call on his cell, voice only.
“Convince them?”
“Okay, Doctor. We’ll be there in a few minutes. Have Daka ready with the spray.”
“Good. Good. Kevill out.”

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