Table of Contents [Report This]
Printer Chapter or Story Microsoft Word Chapter or Story

- Text Size +

Last Requests
Part 2

A private courier had delivered the package several hours earlier, and now Miss Parker sat on her sofa with the contents strewed on the coffee table before her.

It was now two days since her 'abduction' and she had heard nothing more. Neither Sydney nor Broots had reappeared at the Centre, and Raines had set up a pursuit team. Both homes had been deserted when they had been searched, with some clothes and all personal papers gone. Raines had demanded that she be a member of the pursuit team, with Lyle heading it, but she had not yet given a response to what had been phrased as a request. She would do that in the morning.

Interestingly, there had also been no sign of Angelo since she had turned up at work the previous day. Of course, she didn't see or hear from him every day, but instinct, or perhaps her Inner Sense, told her that he had been taken somewhere safe, possibly with Sydney.

Her eyes roved over the objects in front of her: a cream envelope that she had not yet opened, a ticket for an airplane, a videocassette, wrapped in plain paper, and a sheet of details for a new identity that she could adopt, including an address for a house.

Beside these lay the photograph of Jarod that she had carried around with her for so many years, ever since his initial escape. She had been haunted by her final images of the dying man since her visit to the hospital; the thin, gaunt features and deep lines that marred his face a constant feature of her nightmares, in which she had again been a young girl in the Centre hallway in which her mother had faked her own death, running from that frightful scene into the arms of a young man with Jarod's features as she had last seen them.

She had already memorized the details for her possible future life, but whether she could take any advantage of the set-up Jarod had carefully arranged for her was unknown. She had her own plans for the following day and had little control over the outcome. If she lived, she said to herself, then she would open Jarod's envelope and listen to whatever he had put onto the video for her, but only then. If she lost her life, became just another Centre statistic, perhaps she would see him and he could tell her himself. Whatever happened, she hoped that Sydney, Broots and Debbie would remain safe from those who were mercilessly hunting them down.

Collecting the items, she took them into her bedroom and tucked them under her pillow before she lay down for her last night in her own bed. Somehow, now that the moment was drawing near, she was no longer afraid of her possible forthcoming death, wondering at the fear that had haunted her for so many years.


The note summoning her to the morgue was on her desk when Miss Parker arrived at the Centre the following day. She knew what it meant. Jarod's body had been brought here, perhaps by one of the sweeper teams who had finally found the hospital, or else by Marcus and his friends. But she understood his reasoning at having his body brought back here and the hope it would prevent any further pursuit of those Jarod had loved.

Maybe, she thought as she headed for the elevator, he had always planned that it would happen this way. That might have been the reason Jarod had had her brought to the hospital: so that she would have a chance to prepare herself for this sight instead of being forced to confront it at the place where every emotion she displayed was scrutinized. She schooled herself to appear at first surprised and then satisfied, knowing how hard it would be, but that it would endanger her life and those of Sydney and the others if she did anything else.

Raines was already waiting for her in the large, cool room with Jarod's body on the table between them when she entered.

"Well, Miss Parker," he rasped hoarsely, "it seems that part of your work here is done."

"My work," she responded, "was to chase Jarod."

She looked down at the body, seeing that the closed eyes appeared sunken into the skull, in which the bones were more prominent than she remembered from the hospital, but that otherwise he looked little different. The typical black clothes hung loosely from his obviously skeletal frame. On the floor beside the table, she saw a silver Haliburton case, which, she knew, would contain the DSA player and DSAs that Jarod had stolen from Sydney's house, apparently only hours after his initial escape, and had carried with him for more than five years.

"You were offered a new job," Lyle's voice stated from her right, and she looked over to find her twin perched on a stool against the wall. "What do you say, sis? Want to team up to find the rest of his family?"

"I'm still thinking about it," she snapped. "And I'll need to finish up Jarod's pursuit so that it can be filed away."

"Come to my office in an hour," the older man offered. "I'll hear your decision then."

Raines wrapped his fingers around the handle of his oxygen tank. Miss Parker's eyes briefly rested on the scar around the base of his thumb as she moved aside to let him leave the room, seeing Lyle follow with a parting wink.

When they were gone, she approached the high steel surface, allowing her eyes to roam over the Pretender's face.

"It's about time," she stated flatly, knowing that the words would be picked up the microphone that would doubtless be somewhere in the room.

Her meaning, however, would not be what Raines might assume: her thankfulness that the chase was finally over. She was pitying this man, who must have suffered so terribly during the last days and hours of his life. After being returned to her house, she had found details of the virus that had killed him, and knew how terrible it would have been.

Miss Parker's heart swelled with pity for what Jarod and those around him would have suffered as the last few hours of his tortured life drew to a close. She had become certain, during the long, silent ride back to her house, that Jarod's sister, and possibly also his mother, father, the clone, and perhaps even Ethan had been at that hospital with him. Even Sydney could conceivably have been there. It wouldn't have surprised her if he had refused to leave, particularly if he had been taken there in circumstances similar to hers. She knew how strong his love for Jarod was, and also how determined he could be to get his own way.

A note lay on the table next to the body and she picked it up. It was in a strange script, but the signature was familiar, albeit in a somewhat shaky hand.

I have won, it said. I am free. And nobody else will have to die as I am dying. Jarod.

She knew what it meant. He had been able to cure the virus that was presumably administered to his clone and to Ethan. Miss Parker only wished, as she put the note back and left the room, that he had been as successful with his own treatment.

In her office again, she gathered the last few red notebooks and details that remained in her files and slid them into an envelope that had been clipped to the note requesting her presence in the morgue. Taking out the sheet of paper that the envelope had contained when it was delivered to her office, she wrote in the approximate date of his death and a note to have the autopsy report added to the file before scribbling one last comment about the length and success of the pursuit before signing and dating it and adding it to the large manila envelope.

Standing, she walked over to the large cupboard in her office and unlocked the door, taking out a large gray box and opening it to reveal the gun with the circle of fire on the handle. She knew it was loaded and able to be fired. It seemed symbolic that it should be used in this situation. In all of her planning, this had been the only unquestionable step. It was something she owed to her mother, and to Jarod's father, considering how it had been used against them. It was convenient that the silencer from her gun fitted just as neatly on this one, and she attached it quickly, with only the faintest squeak.

Replacing the gun in her holster with the one in her hand was performed in such a smooth move that she doubted it would have been much noticed by anyone watching her on the camera in the corner of her office.

Calmly she went over to her desk, picking up the folder and pocketing her purse, which contained money, but no credit or identification cards, all of which were lying in the drawer of the table next to her front door. She had prepared for either possibility and found herself going over the details of her possible future home and identity that she had memorized the previous night. She cast a final glance at the photograph of her mother on her desk, knowing that the only other copy was in the glove compartment of her car, along with the remains of the package from Jarod, minus any details that might have allowed Centre personnel to locate the runaways, before turning to the door.

The next moments seemed unreal as she arrived at the door of the man who had turned out to be her father, pushing the heavy door open and seeing Lyle and Raines look up at she appeared.

"You've reached a decision?" Lyle suggested.

"I prefer to discuss it alone," she said coolly.

The two men exchanged glances before Raines nodded slightly and Lyle rose to his feet, leaving the office with barely a backward glance.

"What are you going to do?" the man demanded.

"Tell me exactly what my role would be if I accepted," Miss Parker responded.

Raines stifled a sigh before rising from the chair and strolling over to the large windows of what had once been Mr. Parker's office. Through the glass, the Atlantic Ocean spread out like a gray sheet, reflecting the sky.

As he turned his back, Parker reached for the gun, silently drawing and cocking it, holding it in her right hand. She knew that the office was soundproofed and that there were no cameras - so much Broots had once told her. Now she could use that information to her advantage.

Raines droned on for several minutes before turning to look at her expectantly.


"No," she said flatly.

He arched an eyebrow. "Perhaps I should remind you what happens to people who refuse in this place," he growled, taking a step towards the desk, but she raised the gun, aiming it at his chest, and he stopped short.

"Perhaps I need to make myself clear," she told him in a slightly mocking tone. "I said no, and that is exactly what I meant."

"You won't pull that trigger," he rasped. "You'll never get out of the Centre alive."

"Death used to frighten me," she replied evenly. "It doesn't anymore, now that almost everyone I ever cared about is dead. You made a mistake when you decided to inject Jarod with that virus. By killing him, you set up your own murder." She smiled. "And it's so poetic that this happens to be same gun, not only that you took from Jarod's father and supposedly used to kill my mother in the elevator, but that you really used to kill her after Ethan was born. Now, it will kill you. And I don't care what happens to me. If this office was lined with sweepers, I'd still do it."

"Yes." He met her gaze steadily. "I believe you would."

Her index finger tightened around the trigger and she felt the slight recoil as the bullet silently left the chamber, only a fraction of a second before she saw Raines take an involuntary step back, a red mark staining his shirt. A second and third bullet followed, before the bald ghoul dropped to his knees and fell on his face. Two bullets were embedded in his chest and the third had passed through his back and somehow managed to avoid smashing the window, sinking into the wooden paneling below it as blood poured out of the hole and onto the floor.

Still numb, she wheeled around, heading for the door. Her hand rested on the cool metal for a moment before she pushed it open and walked out into the hallway, uncaring what happened next.

You must login (register) to review.