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Chapter or Story Chapter or Story
This chapter takes a turn or two...or three. Enjoy
Each character is written by a different author (well almost, some writers add on a second later in the story), so to help you readers keep it all straight, each character has a different color.
Writer / Character
Jacci - Mr Cox
KatieQ - Miss Parker
Manoline - Broots, Emily
Tinanaz - Jarod, Sam
TLM - Sydney
Whashaza - Lyle, Alex
A new chapter will be posted approximately twice a week, check end notes for when the next is scheduled to arrive
She was still leaning against the glass when she heard thumping sounds coming from outside the door. Alex, or his frilly-loving friend, was moving up the stairs, which meant it was time for her to return to the bed she had been left in. She steadied herself against the wall and walked as quickly and quietly as she could back to the bed. She sat down as the door opened.
Pocketing the key he had used to open her door, he watched her watch him. She was after all Jarod’s sister and even if she had only met her brother once – briefly – she was still blood. And that made her just as dangerous as Jarod. Even with the drugs running inside of her.
She could barely suppress a shiver as he stood beside the door. The last few days had been hell and it was all because of him. No wonder he and Jarod didn't get along. "Our first weekend get-away..." she began, venom penetrating her voice, "so where have you taken me, exactly?"
“White Cloud.” Not that he thought she’d know the place. But it didn’t matter anyway. In a few short hours Jarod would be here and she would be dead. A pity really. She was quite beautiful in her own way.
White Cloud, it sounded like somewhere you take your family on summer vacations. Somewhere you learn to fish and wim backstrokes. Not where you dispose of your latest kidnapping victim. She continued in the same annoyed tone, the drugs were giving her an enormous headache so it came more or less naturally, "And would you mind telling me why I am here?"
“You’ve already asked me that, Emily. I’m not going to repeat myself.” Distracted he took his phone from his pocket when a small alarm sounded. Someone was at the front door. Clicking on a link, he watched Sydney and Broots. Not who he had expected but they could only add to his plan and give more heartache for Jarod. He wondered briefly who Jarod would choose between the three to live and what that would do to the pretender to watch the other two die.
Personally she thought Alex repeated himself quite often and didn't really know why now should be any different. Besides, if he had said this before it was his fault she had to ask again, after all he was the one who drugged her. Not the other way around. But she knew better than to say that out loud and moved on to the next topic, "Fine. Then why are you here?"
Irritated by her intrusion into his thoughts about Jarod, he turned and growled at her, “I’m busy, sweetheart. Give me a few minutes and I’ll be right back.” Ignoring the annoyance he saw flash across her face, he opened her door, locked it and waited by the staircase for Sydney and Broots to make their appearance.
Jarod could feel the vibrations from a moving vehicle beneath him. Without opening his eyes, he explored his surroundings. He was stretched out flat on what appeared to be the back seat. He was alone on the seat and didn't seem to be restrained in any way. He could hear two voices from the front seat and seconds later he recognized them as Miss Parker and Sam's.
How did he get into their car? How far from the Centre were they? Did he have time to try to escape?
The questions swirled around his brain as he tried to remember how they found him. The last thing he remembered was Alex injecting him with some substance that cause fire to race through his blood. Oh my God,
"Miss Parker, I think he's waking up," Jarod heard Sam say.
He kept his eyes closed and hoped that they would think he was talking in his sleep. Maybe they would keep talking and he would be able to figure what was going on. He heard rustling from the front seat and then Sam's voice again.
"Go back to sleep, Rat, we're still an hour from White Cloud."
White Cloud? They were going to White Cloud and not the Centre? Nothing was making any sense. Where was Lyle and Alex? Where was his sister? He fell back asleep while pondering those questions.
Jarod looked around at the bizarre images surrounding him. Alex kept jabbing him with needles and Emily and Lyle were making out on the seat next to him. Sydney and his dad were playing poker with Raines and Mr. Parker while his mom and Mrs. Parker roasting marshmellows in the fireplace. Parker and Sam were dancing together in front of him and every once in a while looking over at him and telling him to go back to sleep. Jarod went to jump up from his seat, but couldn't move his legs. He looked down and saw that he was strapped onto a gurney.
"NO!" he protested as he was loaded into the cryogenics tube. "NO, please, Mom, Dad, Sydney, help MEEEEE!"
Sam looked into the back seat at the sleeping pretender. 'Poor little prince, sounds like he's having a nightmare.' Sam thought to himself gleefully. 'Gee, isn't it too bad I can't help him.' Sam's fist closed as he thought about all the different ways he could "help" the pretender.
“What do you mean they were released?” Lyle listened in disbelief while the idiot on the other side stumbles his way through the Centre bureaucratic paper work. He breathes hard as he hears the rustle of papers being riffled through before the sweeper clears his throat and starts to read from the release form.
“… to be released on order by the Tower immediately…”
It had to be Jarod. Somehow his possession has decided to rebel and undo all the good work his done. And he knew exactly who had instigated the Pretender to releasing the psychiatrist and the inept tech.
He’s damn sister.
If only he had killed her.
Closing the connection to the still babbling fool, he stares at the surrounding area. He doubted seriously that his ambush was going to work. Somehow he doesn’t see Parker bringing the Pretender back to the Centre and more importantly, back to him.
It was time for some more drastic action and maybe the threat to wonder boy’s sister will be enough for the Pretender to shake his shackles to Miss Parker and kill her. One life for another.
His sister or Miss Parker.
His only wish would be to be able to see Jarod’s face as he finally realizes that he’d have no choice.
Time to make another call. He’d hope that Alex had done as he’d been told and taken Emily to the safe house.
Broots felt like he'd been walking behind Sydney for months now outside the small cottage. And the backache he was getting from crouching down to keep any bullets that may be fired from hitting him, supported that believe. According to Sydney the "walking around and around"-thing was called "surveying the area" and was something Sydney had learned from watching the many sweepers that were sent ahead of them on field assignments. Their jobs were basically the equivalent of ducks in a shooting range and unlike other sweepers you rarely saw them twice. If somehow, god forbid you wounded up in a conversation with one of them you were usually left wondering how exactly they managed to dress themselves in the morning.So Broots wasn't entirely sure if they were the best people to be learning survival skills from.
Sydney was walking slowly, pointing his gun at every leaf that rustled a little too loudly in a way that was almost reminding him of a James Bond movie. Not the one with the blond one, but one with the guy before that, or was it the one with the Scottish accent...or did they all have Scottish accents?
Either way, the usually calm Sydney waving a gun around with the safety off was scaring him more than he liked to admit. He still couldn't figure out why they hadn't just stayed in the car, more specifically why he hadn't stayed in the car. After all, he wasn't the one with the gun. All he had was a semi-charged cellphone with a signal that seemed to only work when he stood on the porch, and if bullets started flying that wasn't exactly where he'd imagine to be standing.
As they walked around the cabbin for the fourth time he found himself wishing, as he so often did, that he'd never started working at the Centre. Or at least worn different shoes.
Parked glanced back at Jarod as the car slid to a gentle halt on the loose gravel driveway. Sydney’s cabin was barely visible in the dark shadows, but all she could focus on were the two cars in the driveway.
Perhaps Whitecloud was not the best move strategically, it was nothing but predictable. She would play this cautiously, as if she had any other choice.
“Syd, please tell me you have a housekeeper.” She muttered under her breath. Parker pressed redial on her cell phone for the umpteenth time, only to be directed straight to Sydney’s voicemail. She tossed the phone onto the driver’s seat in frustration, quickly trading it for her gun, unlocked and loaded.
Now what? Sydney had clearly pulled in here, along with someone else. Should she risk even entering the cabin? The long gravel driveway did nothing to help one approach the property with any amount of stealth. If anyone was still on the property, they had long ago been alerted that Parker was now on the premise.
Parker turned to observe Jarod in the backseat of the car. The pretender was lethargically coming back to reality, after spending most of the ride up transitioning between nightmares and what she could only hope was a drug-induced childish state.
“Sam,” she commanded, “Get Jarod.” They were sitting ducks out here in the open.
Parker stood back as the sweeper made his away around the car, and reached in to pull out the restrained Pretender. The last few weeks had been quite a journey, although nothing Centre related was ever straightforward and forthcoming. Logically she knew she should look around, leaving Jarod under Sam’s careful guardianship. However bad things always happened the second she let Jarod out of her sight, she wouldn’t make that mistake again.
Parker met Jarod’s semi-lucid eyes as he was pulled upright by Sam, “Why do I feel like I’m back where I started. No Sydney, No Broots, no answers, just a whole lot of nothing. Its hell and a half step away from the barren apartment you led us too at the beginning of this little odessey. ”
Jarod’s eyes travelled down to his hands briefly, before surveying the area just as Parker had done a few minutes earlier. “Too much of nothing, always mean something.”
“You’re telling me,” Parked replied dryly. “If you think for one minute I’m buying that we are the only ones here…” Parker trailed off, letting the cocking of her gun finish the sentence for her.
“That won’t be necessary.” A smooth voice commanded from the treeline behind the trio.
Parker grabbed Jarod with her free hand, and spun around, unprepared for who she saw emerging from the dark shadows.
Sydney nearly fainted with relief when he saw Miss Parker, Sam, and most importantly, Jarod getting out of the car. Sydney hoped he'd been putting on a sufficient show for Broots so that maybe he believed they were in control of the situation, but this old man wasn't stupid enough to think he could charge in and overpower whoever was waiting inside the cabin. His only priority was to keep his friend calm, and that was challenging enough.
But Miss Parker had arrived now and she could take control of the situation. After all, it's what she did best. Ever since she was a little girl, she'd had the world in the palm of her hand and nobody knew it better than she did.
Sydney clicked the safety and slipped his gun into the waistband of his pants. He ushered Broots to follow him and they stepped out of their hiding place in the trees just as Miss Parker was aiming her gun in their direction. “That won’t be necessary.”
He rushed toward Jarod and brushed away the hand Sam had gripped on the pretender's bicep. "Thank God you're okay," Sydney breathed, wrapping his arms around his former pupil, followed with a swift pat on the back. He stepped back and examined Jarod's tired, frustrated eyes, "Well almost okay."
He changed his focus to Miss Parker, "Broots and I are relieved you're here, Miss Parker. We haven't gone inside, but someone's certainly there."
"Oh Miss Parker thank god!" Broots rushed towards her and without thinking he embraced her in a tight hug, before he came to his senses and retreated a few weird looks later. Shaking off the embarrassment he continued in the same overly excited tone, "I'm so glad you're OK!" then he looked over at the somewhat pale looking droopy eyed man standing behind them, "well...mostly OK."
He caught another glance of the unknown car in the driveway and as if struck by lightning, or an overly eager sweeper, all of a sudden he found himself sitting on the ground and sobbing like a scared tech.
"There's just been a lot to deal with lately," he managed to squeeze out, "Being dragged into a T-Board...and out of a T-Board. Then going to a cabin where it's supposed to be safe only to find a car without license plates. And finding lair after lair completely empty. What's that all about anyway?" he blindly accepted a handkerchief that someone had left hanging in front of his face "And I ate too many funions. And my daughter doesn't love me anymore. I didn't even get to ask if she could stay away a few more days before she accepted she was so eager to get away. That's right I said it, Debbie's a teenager. She'll probably get married soon, move far away and forget all about me. That is if Mr. Cox hasn't killed her first as punishment because he somehow got it in his head that I'm embezzling the Centre. I mean it's the Centre for the Towers' sake! You don't embezzle the Centre! I don't even take candy from the boll at the desk at the entrance I'm so scared they're going to use it against me."
He took a deep breath and leaned against a tree, or at least he hoped it was a tree. "OK, I'm OK. " He tried to return the now completely soaked handkerchief by no one seemed interested in taking it back.
"So," he said, looking up at the crowd for the first time, "what do we do now?"
Alex swore softly. He didn’t need to be a genius to know that due to Lyle’s incompetence, things were moving south at a rapidly expanding space. He needed to find a neutral place, somewhere preferable under Jarod’s and the Centre’s radar. And then when things have settled, he’ll contact the Pretender so that he can complete his own little side project. He smiled. Having Jarod under his control….now that would be something.
Speaking of which, he needs to secure his insurance package.
Since he’d left her room a little over an hour ago she’d had plenty of time to go through the bedroom. She had carefully opened and closed every drawer and closet, hoping to find something that might assist her in getting out of her current predicament. But there was nothing to be found.
Literally nothing. Every place intended for storage was empty and the only things she had to work with were those left out in plain sight. And in plain sight there was a framed picture of a horse outside a barn. A glass frame.
She had heard the car arriving, leaned up against the window as it came to a full stop. And suddenly she’d found herself staring at her brother.
Her instinct told her to do anything to get his attention, but she knew that was a bad idea. Anything that might alert Jarod certainly would make Alex a little curious as well.
So she removed the glass from the frame, put it inside a duvet and broke it in three lager pieces as quietly as she could. Then she hung the painting back on the wall. At the end of the largest splinter she wrapped a tablecloth that had been lying on the nightstand, enabling her to hold it tightly without cutting herself more than her victim. She doubted the people who had arrived would still be in the woods if they had purposely alerted Alex of them presence. So somehow during all the commotion she was sure Jarod’s arrival would cause, there would hopefully be a moment of unawareness on Alex' part, and when there was she would be prepared.
By the time she heard the creaking of the stairs, she was already back in the bed. The homemade weapon safely underneath the covers. She was ready.
Alex entered the room, suspicion immediately sending up flares when Emily gave him the - I'v done nothing - look. Annoyed, he scanned the room. He had made sure that it was empty of anything that could be used as a weapon, but still, she was Jarod's sister and as such, not to be underestimated.
"Come on, let's go. And unless you want me to gag you, be quiet."
Acting like she was still deep under the influence of the drugs she moved slowly out of the bed, giving herself enough time to hide the glass under her shirt. When she finally got to her feet, she pretended to be struggling with her balance, hoping it would buy her some time to think. Perhaps also make Alex underestimate her just a little bit, an advantage she was going to need if she was to ever get out of this alive.
"Stop acting. The sedative I gave you would've worked out of your system. Now let's go." Alex stated, grabbing her by the arm, and for good measure planting his gun firmly in her ribs. He steered her down the stairs and out the back door until they were out of sight of the house and more importantly, out of sight of the whole idiotic Centre clan.
With the piece of glass having made a small incision on her left side and the gun forming a bruise on her right side, she began to wonder what her torso would look like in the morning, if she ever made it that far. She quickly pushed the thought away as she focused on the task at hand. And in one quick motion she pulled the glass from under her shirt and pointed it at his neck.
“Move and I’ll slit your throat."
Jarod looked around Sydney and glared at the house. Something told him that Alex was in there with his sister, but he was stuck out in the woods, handcuffed, with Parker and her posse. Jarod knew he could convince Sydney help him and that he could scare Broots into letting him go, but Parker and her goon were another story. And, unfortunately, his brain was still battling whatever the hell Alex had concocted and he was having trouble keeping a logical train of thought going, though it wasnt as bad as he was making it seem.
He gave a small private smirk at the reactions he had provoked with his act during the trip. He loved to aggravate Parker and nothing worked better for him than childish behavior. And the icing on the cake, man he loved that metaphor, was that he was drugged into acting that way by her "beloved" brother and his pet sociopath. He started mumbling the toad's foot rhyme, just to see her reaction, but stopped when Sydney grabbed his shoulders in concern.
He shook his head, as if to clear it, and looked at his mentor.
"I'm OK, Sydney. But I do need to get out of these things. And we have to figure out who's in the house."
He shook the handcuffs in Parker's directions and looked at her, hoping she wasnt gonna prove to be stubborn.
Parker glared at the pretender, “I have more faith in a rabid Chihuahua cooperating than you. They stay on.” She turned away before Jarod could shoot her a disapproving scowl. It seemed as if the first early signs of dawn were starting to sneak up, hopefully signaling the end to one of the longest nights of her life.
Thankful that Jarod had managed to remain silent, she turned back to the group, only to find all of them looking back at her expectantly. If Jarod was at his full capacity she had no doubt he would be smugly suggesting some hell bent scheme, but for now he was as useless as Raines was old.
It was up to her. Cue inspirational words.
‘Someone has obviously gone to a lot of trouble to let us know that they are, or at least were here. That requires a level of arrogance the few possess.” Parker remarked pointedly with a noticeable glare in Jarod’s direction, before continuing. “Whoever it is, it’s over. It takes two people to play a game, and I refuse to play his.”
She turned her back to the crowd, delivering her last words with an authority few would dare to argue with, “Sam, help Jarod back into the car. We are going home.”
She took a deep breath, waiting for the protests to begin from Jarod – but the pretender was never given a chance.
“And miss all the fun?” A sarcastic voice sang from behind the group.
It was apparent that this damned game was very much still on.