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Disclaimer: The characters Miss Parker, Sydney, Jarod, Broots etc. and the fictional Centre, are all property of MTM and NBC Productions and used without permission. I'm not making any money out of this and no infringement is intended.


Blue Skies
part 1
by 23






Wilton Alley
McAllen, TX

Jarod placed his hands in the pockets of his jacket as the bus came to a stop on the opposite street. As he was making his way to the bus, he saw a woman run out of the nearby apartment building. A man with an angry glare in his eyes appeared in the doorway, searching for her. After he had begun to run after her, Jarod followed from a safe distance. He eventually found himself in an alley. A very aggressive assault ensued and Jarod was temporarily unable to move in bafflement. As his mind came into focus, he let out a gasp and dived on the attacker.

Jarod practicedly caused the man to fall in unconsciousness. "Are you okay?", he asked, but the woman had vanished. Largely annoyed at the fact he had not been able to make contact with the victim, Jarod looked around for a department in which to register. The nearest building was a McDonald’s with a sign "Help Wanted" in the window next to the "No Shoes-No Socks-No Service" sign.

Jarod walked into the building. He walked up to a man with hair dyed blue behind the counter. "I saw your sign. Is the business not doing well?" he asked. The man laughed. "Man, it’s a fast food restaurant. We’re always hiring," was the reply. "I’d like to apply, then."

****

The Centre
Blue Cove, DE

"Well, apparently Jarod couldn’t afford first class express packaging," came Miss Parker’s voice as she entered the room, Broots and Sydney both awaiting her. "Tell me Syd, what does a golden arch represent to our boy?" she asked. "Well, Arches represent doorways, new beginnings or old endings. It’s hard to tell," said Sydney, "but Jarod may feel as though a great burden has been lifted."

"So Atlas’ resigned," she said. "Broots, trace this package to its source," she said, "and be quick about it." Broots said "Yes Miss Parker," and left immediately, package in hand. Miss Parker noticed a figure on Sydney’s desk of a king on a throne. "From a friend of yours?" she asked. With little trepidation, Sydney replied "More like...a colleague." Miss Parker took the throne and pushed the arch through it, binding the king’s neck to the throne. "So, something Jarod gives me is useful," she said placing the figure back in it’s original spot.

****

Blue Street McDonald’s
McAllen, TX

"Dan," Jarod said to the worker he’d met first, "what’s a ‘happy meal’?" Dan laughed. "Jarod, don’t tell me you don’t know what that is. It’s a child’s meal with a toy inside. You’ve never heard of a happy meal? Where did you grow up?" "Nowhere anybody would have wanted to grow up," he said, picking up a plastic chicken nugget. "A plastic based food item with a face! How funny!"

A mother and her daughter walked in. Jarod recognized her instantly. She was the woman who had been chased yesterday. He smiled at them as he said "Hi, may I help you?"

The mother blinked her eyes a few times, then stopped. "Yes, I’d like 2 cheeseburgers, a medium Coke and a happy meal with chicken nuggets and a Sprite," she responded. "Okay, your bill is $6.23," Jarod replied, while Dan gathered the meal. The mother and daughter sat down at a booth nearby. Watching them, Jarod saw the playground in the back of the building. "Dan...do you mind if I go over there..." For some reason, Dan said it was okay, and Jarod followed the little girl to the playground.

The girl seemed to be having some trouble climbing to the top of the slide, so Jarod went over to give her a boost. When he was there, he turned to his left and saw a man with a gun aimed at the girl. He jumped up reflexively and the bullet pierce his arm. The girl burst into tears and her mother rushed into the playground. Dan withdrew a gun from behind the register and headed outside, ready to arrest the shooter. By the time he got there, the shooter was gone.

*****

The Centre
Blue Cove, DE

"Syd, I think Atlas didn’t resign actually. He just got a second job," said Miss Parker, taking a red stand with four holes, a second golden arch and a plastic chicken nugget from a newly arrived package. She took the arch from the figure and put both in the red stand. "Broots, I want the report on that package pronto!" she said. "Would you like fries with that, Miss Parker?" came a wheezing voice. Broots handed her the report. "McAllen, Texas. Well, I’m in the mood for fast food. Right Broots?" she asked. "Yes Miss Parker, but couldn’t we get pizza?" "Broots!"

"I’ve decided to come with you this time. It’s highly important that we capture Jarod and apparently the sweepers seem...inefficient..." said Mr. Raines. "So, Raines has a new project not to be compromised?" she asked. "Any, Syd, now what do you make of it?" "The easy job at a fast food restaurant...it’s almost always symbolic of one’s needing a break from exhaustion. So, maybe Atlas did resign...temporarily." "Sure, Syd. Let’s just go."

****

Woodwurd Hotel
McAllen, TX

Jarod turned on his laptop. Quickly, he accessed the latest Centre project: BLUE. Unsurprisingly, Raines was the initiator and lone member of the project. It read: HGP:25%
Estimate: 100% in one week
Operation Base: Classified

Annoyed, Jarod click the "Classified" tag. He the overrode the classification, but now the moniter had "None" listed as the operation base. He then headed over to the restaurant because it would soon be his work shift.

****

Blue Street McDonald’s
McAllen, TX

Jarod rushed up to the door, literally crashing into Parker. She turned around and withdrew her gun. "Well, Jarod. I’d like a Big Mac, large fries, and a Sprite," said Miss Parker, holding Jarod with one arm, pointing the gun at Dan with the other, "think you can handle that, big boy?"

****

The Centre
Blue Cove, DE

"Sydney you’re not going to believe this," Broots said, chewing on his thumbnail and looking at the moniter. "Raines is working on a new project...BLUE...something about H-G-P," he said. "The Human Genome Project," said Sydney. "You...know about it?" "I’ve heard a lot about it. They’re trying to sequence DNA. Adenine, Cystosine, Guanine, and the other one I always forget..."

"Thymine," came a voice.

Broots and Sydney both turned around to face a handcuffed Jarod, escorted by Miss Parker. "He’s not escaping this time. The lock on the hand-cuffs was melted into a solid iron bar."

*****

Jarod’s Sim Lab
Blue Cove, DE

"Jarod, you’ve done this simulation before. Please, do it again," said Sydney, from outside the clear-bubble. "No, Sydney. I...I...I...can’t." "Jarod...Please. If the Centre no longer has a use for you...they’ll dispose of you." "I don’t care. What’s the point of living if you’re forced into everything you do?"

Sydney stood silent. Jarod glanced at his mentor, confused. "Syd...are you okay?" "Jarod...I’ve lived here..in the Centre...for much too long. I try to fight it...but you can only fight in small ways here. I can’t help you anymore."

"No...Sydney...you can! Please! Please help me. I have to find my family. You know what that’s like."

"I know all to well what that’s like. The Centre has Michelle and Nicholas. I’m sorry Jarod. I can’t help you anymore."

Sydney left the room, and Jarod sat there, stunned.





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