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Disclaimer: So Weird and The Pretender don't belong to me, they belong to their respective companies.

Pretender

By RaajmdTMP

Part 1

Have you ever wished you were smarter than you are? I mean really smart; a genius. People like that can do some pretty amazing things. Like this one man, Ferdinand Waldo Demara, who actually was able to read a book about heart surgery in the morning and perform a flawless bypass in the afternoon.

Intelligence like that can really get you attention, hopefully from the right people. But what if there's this secret corporation tracking your every move in hopes of capturing you and exploiting your genius for their profit? That sounds like it comes straight from the realms of science fiction. That kind of stuff could never happen in real life or could it?

Demons come from every side
In the darkness is the light
Out of the shadows of my life
In the darkness is the light
In the darkness is the light
Surrender will win the fight
This girl's walked on fire and ice
But I come out on the other side of paradise
Paradise

Close to Dover, DE

The Molly Phillips tour bus rolled down the streets on the outskirts of Dover. They had just finished a gig and were heading to a hotel right outside of the city.

"So what's the next stop on the tour, Mom?" asked Jack.

"Well, Jack, according to Irene's itinerary we need to be in Baltimore, Maryland next week."

"It doesn't take a week to get to Baltimore," said Fiona suspiciously.

"No it doesn't. Irene and Ned have planned a little surprise vacation for us."

"Cool, Mrs. P. Hey Dad, since we're on vacation, that history report…"

"Is still due on Tuesday," interrupted Ned.

"Nice try, Clu," teased Carey, always ready to pick on his little brother.

There was a screeching sound that grew increasingly louder coming from the engine. Smoke started to fill the air outside the bus. Ned pulled over.

"Oh, not again! Mr. B, I thought you checked the engine before we left," Fi moaned. Ned went out to take a look.

"Fiona!" Molly warned.

"Don't worry, Mom. Fi's just going through withdrawal because she didn't have any close encounters this week," he said sarcastically.

"Shut up, Jack!"

"What did I..?"

"Jack. Shut. Up."

"Okay, that's enough. Jack, go to your room and leave your sister alone. Fiona, go outside and see if Ned needs any help."

"But…"

"Now!"

Outside the Bus

"I'm sorry, Mr. B."

"That's okay, Fiona. I know what you mean. If we make it another month without something happening to the bus, I'm sure it will break some sort of record for us."

Fiona laughed at his joke. She suddenly had the feeling that someone was watching her. When she turned around, she saw nothing but a very large, ominous building towering over her. The building, which was made out of tan colored bricks, stretched as far as the eye could see.

"Um, Ned? Do you know what that place is?"

Ned looked up from the engine.

"You got me, Fiona. You'd think a place that big would have some sort of publicity, but I don't remember seeing it on any maps. It's kind of weird if you ask me."

"Yeah, weird," Fi mumbled absently, her attention now on a car that pulled up in front of the mysterious building.

The car door opened revealing a balding man in his late thirties or early forties. He was about average height and seemed too clumsy and nervous for his own good. There was a girl in the backseat who resembled the man. She was obviously his daughter. She looked like she was Fi's age but could have been younger.

"Thanks, Joe," the man said. "When my car wouldn't start, I was afraid I would have to take my bike again."

"It's no trouble, Broots. Hey, if I obey the speed limits, I might actually get Debbie to school on time."

Broots chuckled.

"Yeah, make sure you do. See you later."

He waved goodbye and headed up to the large, dark doors of the odd looking building. One of the many containers he was holding slipped from his grasp spread its contents on the ground upon impact. Fiona seized the opportunity and walked over to give the stranger some much-needed help. It took Broots a few seconds to realize she was there.

"Oh, thanks. You're a lifesaver. If I was late one more time, Miss Parker would kill me."

"Miss Parker?" She always considered it strange when people talk to strangers as if they knew who their own acquaintances were by name.

"She's my boss, kind of."

"Oh. It's no trouble. I'm Fiona Phillips," Fi said holding out her hand.

"Mr. Broots," he replied shaking her hand after stuffing some papers back in the box.

"Nice to meet you, Mr. Broots."

A man in a dark suit walked up to Broots.

"Mr. Broots, Mr. Lyle wants to see you as soon as possible."

All the color drained from his face. If Fiona didn't know any better, she would have sworn he was trembling. He gulped loudly.

"M…Mr. Lyle? I'll, ah, I'll be right there. Thanks, Sam."

Broots hurried off through the doors, leaving the rest of his papers on the ground. Fi gathered them together slowly, stealing glances at what was written on them. She found out the name of the corporation (The Centre), but not much else. The papers were mostly interoffice memos dating back to the late fifties. She had absolutely no idea if they were still relevant to the work done there today, but there had to be some reason why Broots had been carrying them. They had to be of some use to him and he would know they were missing.

She ran back to the bus and into her room. She searched through her desk drawers for a folder to put the papers in. She found a light blue file folder and stuffed the papers inside. On her way back outside, Molly stopped her.

"Hey, where are you going in such a hurry?"

"Um, I saw a man drop these papers outside that building," she said pointing out the window. "I just thought that I would drop them off with the secretary. They look important."

"Well, okay, but see if you can get Carey or Clu to go with you."

Clu and Carey were playing with the radio in the cab when Fi walked through.

"Hey, Carey? You mind coming with me to go give these papers back to the guy that dropped them?"

"Sure, Fi," he said sarcastically.

"What?"

"I just find it hard to believe that's all you're doing."

"Oh, I'm hurt! How dare you suggest such a thing?" Fi said, just as sarcastically as he had.

Carey jogged down the stairs ahead of her.

"Hey! Wait up!"

The second they walked through the door of the building, they could feel a change in the atmosphere.

"Is it just me, or does it feel… different in here?" Carey whispered looking around. Everyone in the lobby seemed to be watching them. You would have thought they had just dropped from the ceiling, judging by the looks on everyone's faces.

"You could hear a pin drop in here," Fi whispered back.

The silence was suddenly shattered by the squeaking wheels of a tricycle. A small child rode the tricycle at top speed down the otherwise still hallway.

"Ashley, come back here!"

A young man in a lab coat chased after the girl. Both Fiona and Carey turned and watched them disappear down the end of the hall. They turned back around and almost bumped into a man who seemed to appear out of nowhere.

"Oh, we're sorry. We didn't know you were there."

"That's quite all right. Are you looking for someone?" the man asked. His soft accent was comforting and his brown eyes warm. His persona sharply contrasted the cold, sterile environment of the hall they were standing in.

"Yeah, we were looking for a man that dropped these papers on his way in the building earlier today."

The man chuckled, "Did he seem to be loosing his hair, by any chance?"

Fi nodded.

"You must mean Broots. I have a meeting with him in a few minutes. I'll be sure to give them to him." He was just about to leave when someone called him from the entrance.

"Sydney! Where's Broots? I think I found something."

"About what?"

"Not here. You of all people, Sydney," she added in a hushed whisper.

"I'm sorry, Miss Parker. My mind has been elsewhere today."

"Well you better pick it up at the bus stop, Syd. You're needed here, in the present. Find Broots while you're at it."

"But Parker, today is…"

"I know what today is, Sydney. We'll talk about that later. For now, let's pretend that the past is the past and not dwell on it," she said. She noticed Fi and Carey. "Who are they?"

"These people were kind enough to bring back some papers that Broots dropped." She grabbed the folder from his hand and skimmed through the documents inside.

"Thank you," she said looking at Fiona. "You might have just saved a life."

Miss Parker and Sydney walked down one of the corridors together leaving Fi and Carey in the lobby. The people, who had stopped staring at them when Miss Parker came in, were watching them again.

"Let's get out of here," Carey whispered. "I feel like I'm in a fish bowl."

Once they were outside, they felt relieved that there were no longer people inspecting them.

"No wonder Broots was in a hurry this morning. I'd be afraid of Miss Parker, too," Carey said.

"When she thanked us, it seemed like she knew that I was the one who picked up the papers."

"Yeah, that's right. She looked right at you. Maybe she's psychic," Carey teased.

"Carey! That's not what I mean. It felt like she knew it was me, even though she couldn't have, but I don't think she noticed."

"You don't think she noticed that she knew it was you?"

"I don't think she noticed that nobody told her it was."

"Oh. What's with the kid on the tricycle?" he said changing the subject.

"How about the guy in the lab coat chasing her? I wonder what kind of work those people do there. It's like they never saw a stranger walk in before."

"I don't even want to think about what goes on there. It felt weird just to walk through the door."

"Fiona! Carey! Where have you been? I've been looking all over for you," Jack said as he ran over to them.

"We went to return something to a man in there. Jack, there's something weird going on in that building."

"Isn't there always?"

"Come on, Jack."

"Fiona, it's just a very large building with a lot of security cameras." He pointed up to a row of cameras along the wall. "There's nothing strange going on here."

"If you went in that building you'd know what she's talking about, man. She's not making it up. It's creepy in there."

Jack shook his head, "Whatever you say. Ned got the bus working again. We have to go."

The three of them walked back to the bus. Fi kept looking back at the building as she walked. She got in the bus and watched it out the window until it could no longer be seen.

~*****~

The events of earlier that day were being played in black and white on a small screen. The viewer was a sickly man of about sixty or older. He was breathing regularly thanks to the help of an oxygen tank and his left thumb was missing. He was completely bald and, like so many others at the Centre, had cool blue eyes.

"Willie?" he wheezed into a cell phone. "Find out… who she is. Report… only to me." He hung up. He stared at the still capture of Fiona on the screen. "You ask too many questions, my young friend, and you may not like the answers."

~*****~

Fiona sat at the desk in the hotel room she shared with her mother. Her laptop was sitting on the desk. She was looking in all of the search engines she could find for any information on the Centre. Ned had been right. When she entered the Centre's address into an address finder, it said that it didn't exist. The more times her searches came up empty, the more frustrated she became.

"Oh, give me a break!" she exclaimed after her latest try showed no matches. "Okay, I give up."

She shut off her computer and went out to find the guys.

"Let's see, if I was Clu, where would I go?"

She heard cheering coming from a room off of the lobby.

"The arcade."

Fi followed the cheering to the arcade. She found Carey, Clu and Jack excitedly watching a man playing pinball.

"Hey Fi, check this out! He's been playing this one ball for, like, a half hour. He's got over a million points. This is so cool!" Clu shouted.

"Clu, I'm right here. You don't have to yell." She started to watch the game, "He is really good."

"Thank you," the man said. He stepped away from the game.

"Do you mind if I?" Carey asked the stranger while pointing at the machine.

"No, go ahead."

"How'd you get so good at that? You must have had to practice for hours."

"You could say that. My name's Jarod."

"I'm Fi Phillips. Nice to meet you."

"Nice to meet you, too." He looked at his watch. "Um, could I ask you all a favor?"

"Sure, what?"

"I'm was going to see someone here in about five minutes, but I just remembered that I was supposed to be at a meeting almost ten minutes ago. Could you give my friend this when she comes?" he asked holding out a red notebook.

"Yeah, of course. What's her name?"

"Uh, Miss Parker. I really have to go."

"Miss Parker?" Fi asked, thinking that the name had to be some strange coincidence. He was gone before she could question him about her.

"Where was he going in such a hurry?" Jack asked, looking up from the game he was playing with Clu.

"I have no idea."













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