The Amazing Adventures of Sara Corel
A novel by Toomey
Chapter Thirty-two: Death
was feeling somewhat depressed. He hadn't played a gig in months
and missed it. There was a time when he was just too busy with
all the NASA stuff and the media hoopla to take any calls from
bandleaders, so they had pretty much stopped calling him. In any
event, some of them were probably not eager to have even
anything peripheral to do with the Susan controversy. It
wouldn't do to have some stormtrooper in the audience recognize
the alien's keeper and start a row. Very bad for business.
There were a lot fewer
Russians in Mrs. J's Workers' Paradise. Some of them had passed
away, others were in nursing homes, many had opted for less
conspicuous circumstances, and a few of the more robust ones had
actually moved back to Russia, preferring to take their chances
in the snow rather than face what they perceived as an ominous
direction for American society since Wayans' inauguration. It
was that bad.
Strangers filled the
apartments. At least there wasn't as much noise as there used to
be, and all of the formerly slovenly, unpleasant and obnoxious
types were suddenly trying to affect manners and careful
conformity. There were you'd-better-be-there
consciousness-raising rallies in the Rec Room now, sponsored by
the neighborhood Courtesy Committee...
Mrs. J had mostly
retreated to the 'A' unit, keeping to herself and her books
unless Sara paid a visit. Dinah had become irritable and aloof,
snapping at Alex over stuff so trivial he didn't even know what
it was about. He just didn't get along with his boss, Lanna --
and the feeling was mutual. Sara... Well, it seemed to him in
his present state of mind that she just didn't really need him
all that much anymore. So much for the women in his life.
There wasn't really
anybody to hang with. The Cubans had vanished, except for Raoul
and Maria -- who were always busy. Jimmie was never around, and
Silvers hadn't spoken to him since the unfortunate accident at
the press conference.
Money wasn't a
problem, but Alex didn't care about that. He was well-paid by
Exocybernautics to do as little as possible and hardly bothered
to even make a pretense of showing up for work. He wandered
around aimlessly sometimes, but the people he met didn't seem to
have as much fun as they used to -- all anybody talked about
was politics these days.
He was so bored and
lonely -- with Sara off on some NASA salvage mission in deep
space for what promised to take the better part of a week --
that he didn't notice the constant surveillance when he was out
and about. He felt almost a sense of relief when a couple of
grim-looking MIB types hustled him into a van outside of a movie
theater. At least it was something to do -- but they didn't
talk to him at all.
`` He was handcuffed and blindfolded and
hustled onto a plane for a long ride, then transferred to a
helicopter and later a truck, still bound, still without a word
being uttered by his captors. Eventually, he felt like he was on
some kind of elevator that seemed to descend forever, followed
by a squealing ride in a cold and uncomfortable contraption that
traveled on bumpy rails. They took off his handcuffs and
stripped him to his shorts, then thrust him into some subterranean
room, still blindfolded.
A heavy door clanged
shut behind him and then there was silence. He was miserable,
hungry, very thirsty and had to go to the bathroom in the worst
way. He cautiously reached up and removed his blindfold and
discovered he was in a windowless steel and concrete version of
a No-tell Motel room. He barely made it to the bathroom in
The door to the room
belonged on a bank vault -- locked from the outside, naturally.
There was no phone. What looked like it might be a closet turned
out to be a large storeroom filled with enough survival rations
to last him a very long time. He had running water and air,
electricity and a kitchenette, evan a washer and drier so that
he could keep the grey penitentiary ensembles they had provided
him with clean. All he had for company was a TV.
thought. Never leave home without 'em. He wished he
could've left a trail.
Sara demanded. "What do you mean, missing? How can he be
missing? You mean, he wandered off somewhere? Isn't there a note
Dinah was even grimmer
than usual. "The day after you left the planet, he went to
a movie and never came back. I checked with everybody. No word,
no calls, not even a postcard."
"You think he
just decided to take a road trip?" Sara asked. "I know
he wasn't... That he was..."
sorry for self," Mrs. J finished for her. "He vas
thinkink ev'rybody ignorink him, beink too busy all the time.
Maybe so, but I am not thinkink he vould be takink trip vithout
"He didn't even
take his toothbrush," Dinah said. "I tracked down his
car to a police impound lot on Washington Avenue. It had been
towed from the theater lot after a couple of days. You know how
he always kept a stash of mad money in the ashtray? It was still
there." Actually, it hadn't been, but Dinah had somehow
managed to wring a confession from the tow-truck driver.
Sara closed her eyes
for a few moments. Dinah and Mrs J could only guess what vast
resources were being brought to bear on following any kind of
electronic trail that might shed some light on what might have
Finally, she looked at
them, obviously worried now. "He hasn't used his credit
cards or his cell phone or cashed a check. There are no records
anywhere of plane tickets or motel reservations or police
reports or sightings. His car shows up on the ATM camera tape
across the street from the theater, and a few minutes after the
only movie he would have watched lets out, a rental van pulls up
next to it. There was someone in the way for a while, so I
couldn't see anything else, but that same van's on a security
cam tape at some apartments on Highway 3 just 21 minutes later
-- and isn't on a jewelry store's tape just past
Ellington Field until nearly an hour after that. During that
time, a government Learjet took off from there heading west
without a flightplan. It was logged through San Antonio air
traffic control as an unidentified aircraft and doesn't show up
again until later that evening in Chicago. There's no record of
where it went or who the flight crew was. There was enough time
for it to have landed somewhere in west Texas or New Mexico. Or
it could've turned somewhere and landed anywhere in between, or
not even have landed at all. The van rental was to John Doe for
cash and their tape's been looped too many times to get a latent
tenuous," said Dinah.
"You gots better
idea?" Mrs J challenged.
fits," she replied. "Bogus rental, no flight plan,
Ellington Field, govenment plane, Chicago -- all conveniently
while you were lost in space for NASA, who hasn't otherwise been
too friendly lately."
Sara added, "Team
Blue, Wayan's special project to save the world from alien
monsters and win elections. They're based in Chicago. I don't
have any kind of electronic connection to them at all. The CIA
and KGB are practically transparent compared to them."
"Vould be pretty
dumb, Wayans kidnappink Alex," Mrs J said. "Couldn't
be hidink him from you forever."
"If he's far
enough underground somewhere, it might take forever to
find him on my own."
"But vhat for
they hidink him? Blackmail? Ransom? Maybe provokink you
to be doink somethink stupid?"
"That's certainly something to keep in mind, Sara. You've
got to stay calm about this."
Sara looked anxious.
"I don't know if I can. I mean, the thing with Alex --
it's just like Gundolf said,
which is probably why it was in my dream or whatever. I just have
to look out for him. It's something that's built in by the
Cryptos, or I'da probably accidentally fried him that first day.
It's a compulsion, and it's so deep I don't have to think about
it -- something that Susan would take care of automatically.
Like if -- I dunno -- someone took a shot at him..."
Mrs J. "Bullet easy to catch, no? You cannot be around all
the time, keepink him from cuttink himself vith razor. Cannot
keep him from catchink pneumonia or gettink old."
Dinah said, "Maybe we should've looked into the secret
identity thing a little more thoroughly. Or made sure he was
stashed somewhere safe while you're away."
"Alex would never
agree to be 'stashed', and I'd have to respect his opinion.
Anyway, it's too late for that, and now I gotta do whatever it
takes, if he's in real danger. If there's any kind of
potentially serious threat of harm that Susan sees, and any way
to do something -- anything..." Sara looked almost
desperate. "They could make me do things that... That I
don't even want to think about."
Dinah was thoughtful.
"So if anybody knew about this, or figured it out, they
could use Alex to try to gain some kind of control over you. The
Cryptos had to have been aware of the potential for mischief.
They must have purposely designed you in just this way so as to
make you vulnerable to humans after all. At least, ruthless
humans -- or ruthless governments. Part of whatever damned
experiment or test they're running, I suppose."
"There's not too
many other people besides us who know all the details about my
virtual-reality dream-trip. Unless Jimmie talks in his
"Wouldn't be the
first time she ratted me out to Wayans' people."
J said. "Is not too hard to be figurink out that Alex beink
important to you. Alvays lurkink somevhere close by. Maybe not
knowink how important, but takink hostages is beink very
old tradition for gangster regimes."
know," Dinah said, "The fact that Alex survived the
first couple of days with you is a pretty glaring clue to
something like this. Wayans might have suspected something that
maybe Lanna confirmed. I don't think anyone in a position of
reponsibility would take such a risk unless they knew
Mrs. J interrupted,
"Vhy you thinkink Wayans is beink in 'position of beink
responsible'? You givink him too much credit, maybe. Wayans vas
alvays sayink he take care of nasty alien. Vhat else he goink to
be doink? Hah!"
"It's has to be a
control thing. He knows something, I'm sure of it. He wouldn't
take Alex unless he thought it would give him some kind of
special leverage. He'd just have to have more to go on than
sentimental attachment to a father-figure."
"Family is alvays
making best hostages. Is reason
"If he is
a hostage," Sara said gloomily.
"Dead hostage no
good. If Wayans holdink him, Alex is now safest man on planet.
Pretty soon, you vill be gettink phone call."
"I have a bad
feeling about this. I sure wish the Cryptos had just made me
allergic to some kind of Cryptonite, instead. Seriously, I'd eat
a box of the stuff if I had to do it to protect Alex. I mean, if
that was the choice, I really would -- I'd have to. Not
that I wouldn't anyway."
"Is like Russian
fairy tale," said Mrs J, "about ogre vith heart in
egg. Guy stealink egg vas havink his vay vith ogre, threatenink
to break egg and squeeze heart. Ogre givink him anythink he
Dinah, "I wonder what Wayans wants."
thought about trying to check out every cave and mine in the
area the plane could have overflown, but it would take weeks to
cover each possibility one by one. She'd have to come within a
few hundred yards of Alex to detect him reliably through a lot
of rock, and would have to keep her speed down so as to avoid
causing enough damage to collapse whatever void space he might
be in. Also, he could have been transferred to another plane and
be practically anywhere by now -- and for that matter, the
whole scenario might even be wrong or a decoy. After all, she
hadn't actually been able to spot Alex or any positive sign of
him on the security camera tapes -- which had been recorded
over enough times so that Susan was barely able to pick out the
latent images from the foreground noise.
So she went to
Chicago. She had to make sure it was actually a kidnapping and
that Wayans or his people were behind it. For all she knew, it
might've been common street thugs, or maybe Alex was jamming
with his musician buddies in some jazz bar, laughing at them.
What the heck, she really should try to find out what Team Blue
was up to anyway.
She sneaked into town
on a freight train, covered her uniform with civvies, stuffed
her hair into a floppy hat and donned some oversized Ray-Bans.
Looking like a tourist, she took the el into downtown and then
walked casually to Wayans
Manor, joining a tour of the now-famous landmark. Parking
herself in a stall in the most centrally located ladies'
restroom in the public-access area, she started a very careful
kreen search, wary of sensors that might tip off those who might
be expecting her to eventually show up here (and not necessarily
in a good mood).
She didn't really know
what she was looking for. It was unlikely that a conspiratorial
conclave would be in session. She knew that the Team Blue modus
operandi was to not commit anything to electronic media. If
they had Alex, they certainly wouldn't keep him here.
The tenuous fingers of
her awareness reached out cautiously, mapping room by room,
following the plumbing and wiring, scanning for security cameras
and lines of communication. She categorized each individual
according to the jobs they seemed to be doing, keeping tabs on
their movements, logging their keystrokes, measuring the
sympathetic vibrations of nearby objects as they spoke and
converting the signals into the sounds of their conversations.
The private living
quarters of the mansion were tightly guarded. The adjoining
offices were busy with the routine work of the Chief Executive
of the nation. Wait a minute... Here? Instead of the White
Hmm... The heavily
armed security forces wore earplugs connected to two-ways in
their suit jackets along with inconspicuous microphones under
their lapels, tied into a sophisticated central radio network.
Their chatter was efficient, precise and disciplined. Ah --
Secret Service. Wayans was here, evidently having arrived only
hours before. If he anticipated a showdown with Susan, maybe he
felt more secure in his old fortress. Lotta good it'll do him,
She cast about for his
location, eventually following the architecture down below the
house and grounds into the warren of interconnected bunkers and
tunnels. She could just make out a heavily shielded cavernous
central command room at the edge of her range. She had to keep
her EM emissions down to the absolute minimum to avoid detection, so
it was extremely difficult to get a decent enough reading on the
people below to distinguish Wayans himself with any degree of
certainty. But there was an enormous space on the
barely-perceptible lowest level that corresponded with Dinah's
description of his ultimate lair. A flickering presence made its
way down the hall and through the adjoining anteroom, followed
by a smaller wraith. They entered the cave-like space together,
nearly impossible to focus in on at this distance.
sending quick pulses of tightly-beamed awareness in their
direction, gingerly skirting the traps set to detect just such
an intrusion. A picture of their surroundings slowly developed
in her mind -- the massive desk, the high-backed dark leather
chair, a minimal scattering of other furniture. The man who took
his place in the chair behind the desk resolved even more
slowly, seeming to emerge from enveloping shadows until she was
fairly certain of his identity. She could guess who his
companion must be.
There was something
else. Something more familiar somehow, another presence of some
kind that beckoned to her. It was fainter by far, teasing her
with its call to her probing tendrils. It spoke to her of
potential significance. She had to get closer.
She made her way to
the kitchen, playing the same hide-and-seek games she'd played
on the Enterprise.
Her lasers made a fleck of paint explode minutely, the tiny sound
distracting for a moment a watchful eye that never saw her fleeting
form streak by. Puffs of cold air made other eyes blink. An image from
one camera flickered briefly when the agent watching the monitors
sipped his coffee. Another camera seemed to have developed a temporary
problem with its horizontal synch. In another place, an overloaded
circuit breaker tripped, plunging a corridor into sudden darkness. A
copper kettle unexpectedly boiled over, drawing the attention of the
cooks for a few seconds. Nothing out of the ordinary, really.
Sara wound up huddled
at the bottom of the dumbwaiter shaft servicing an underground
staff dining room, now half-filled with people on break. No
matter, she was where she wanted to be for now. Her senses
No doubt about it. The
President of the United States was at his desk, examining
something on it, with Robbins in attendance. The package on the
desk drew her attention. It was a bundle of clothes, radiating
an unmistakable familiarity to her that was like a comforting
smell. With an ever-increasing feeling of dread, she abandoned
all caution, kreening the bundle with full intensity, setting
off alarms that scrambled defenses and bodyguards throughout the
She could feel the
smooth texture of a credit card, reading the pattern of raised
numbers in an instant. It belonged to Alex. That's all she
The panicked staffers
in the dining room heard the ripping sound of Sara's civilian
clothing being torn from around her costume shortly before the
dumbwaiter door and half the wall shattered, revealing a little
blonde girl who wasn't at all cute anymore. They tried futilely
to run, but she passed them in an instant, leaving them falling
in her wake like bowling pins.
The Secret Service
tried valiantly to do their duty, but Sara swept them aside
without pausing, the whining sound of richochets from their
uselessly expended rounds mingling with their ineffectively
shouted commands to halt. Steel doors slammed shut in her path,
designed during the Cold War to be blast-proof. They did not
measurably slow her down, the concussion of their sudden
destruction shaking the foundations of the manor above.
She tossed the last
two Praetorians into next week, flung the door to the inner
sanctum off its hinges, and confronted Wayans across his desk.
"Ah -- Miss
Corel," he greeted her charmingly, ignoring the clangor of
alarms and frantic shouts from outside. He rose from his chair
to offer his hand to her. "I was just about to send for
you. May I call you
She pointedly spurned
his handshake. "This is not a social call."
Wayans told her
calmly, "Then I will assume that you understand the
significance of these garments."
She answered with
barely controlled fury, "Don't mistake me for some comic
book wimp. If anything happens to Alex, I'll hurt you for a very
long time, in ways you can't even imagine."
motioned her to a chair. She ignored him, so he sat down.
Another bodyguard loyally flung himself through the ruined
doorway and bounced off of Sara. Robbins helped the stunned man
to his feet and told him to take care of the noise and see to it
they weren't disturbed. Quiet soon descended.
Wayans said graciously, "I believe your timely arrival has
exceeded the most optimistic entry in the office pool. I'm
impressed by your capabilities -- I see they have not been
surprised just how capable I can be," she told him.
"You can't possibly expect to keep me from finding
forever," Robbins said, "But long enough. He's in
protective custody. We wouldn't want anything to happen to him
-- but it's been arranged so that it's up to you. When you do
locate him, I suggest you think twice about blindly barging in
to try to effect a jailbreak, if you're worried about his
Well, that was plain.
He was booby trapped somehow, in a way that made them feel
"We are not thugs
or gangsters, Sara," said Wayans. "Alex is in custody
for resisting arrest
at the Federal Building in Houston. The part you played in
thwarting the exercise of law enforcement was not appreciated by
some of the officers whom you humiliated. The extraordinary
nature of your protective instinct in his regard requires an
thought Sara, they know. No wonder they're so damned smug.
"You have to
realize that we regard Alex as something of a foster father to
you, just as you do. As such, he bears some responsibility for
your wanton disregard of laws, regulations, private and
government property, and the negligent destruction in which you
Robbins read from a
list, "According to reports filed with the Houston Police
Department, you vandalized an apartment, damaged a cement truck,
partially destroyed a city recreation center, broke numerous
downtown windows, and recklessly endangered a young man --
requiring a risky and expensive rescue operation by city
emergency workers. Federal complaints include theft
of govenment property, dumping of said property in a restricted
area, aiding and abetting, conspiracy, interfering with lawful
arrest, illegal wire-tapping, interstate commerce violations too
numerous to mention -- and a host of charges stemming from your
unauthorized visit to the USS Enterprise, from piracy to
inciting mutiny. Which, I might add, appears to have been
inspired by Mr. Luther. Then there's the little international
incident involving what used to be called the Leaning Tower of
Pisa. Oh, and today's assault on the President of the United
States ought to pad out your record quite nicely."
Sara, trying not to look taken aback, "There's also
Wayans waved his hand
dismissively. "Please, Sara. We know your heart is in the
right place. That is not the real issue here."
issue," said Sara, "is that you cannot possibly
imagine how pissed off I am right now -- and how much you're
gonna regret it."
countered Wayans, "The real issue is how committed I am to
fulfilling my mandate."
Wayans leaned back
even farther into his chair. "I have no doubt whatsoever
that you can exact a terrible revenge. Believe me, I don't want
to find out. And this potential for incredible destruction is at
the crux of the matter."
Sara said evenly and
precisely, "I have never purposely hurt anyone. I would
never do so without good reason and sufficient
"As determined by
you?" Robbins said. "Or how about maybe some musician
nobody ever heard of. Or a bunch of former Communist party
bosses. Or a disgruntled ex-employee of Mr. Wayans."
"By me," she
Congress or the United Nations -- or the President? Who set you
above the rest of us?"
"I do not claim
to be 'above' anybody. But I have the power to make my own
decisions as I see fit. I am, after all, very well informed, you
know, and not exactly stupid. And I am also unbiased -- I can't
be bribed, lied to or intimidated. And I don't have a
"Well, I, for
one, do not agree to be judged by some irresponsible space
creature who is unaccountable for her actions."
"And I, for
one," replied Sara hotly, "will not be bullied by a
jumped-up little hoodlum. No matter what you say, the fact is
that you've taken my father hostage and are threatening his
life. This doesn't look much like 'The Rule of Law' to me."
Wayans, "Are you a citizen of the United States?"
technically," she admitted.
"Of course not.
You are, in fact, an alien. Like it or not, you have entered our
country illegally and caused a certain amount of unwitting --
perhaps even good-natured -- damage. Frankly, I don't care
about that. You've also been a great help and even an
inspiration to many people, and I commend you and actually
admire you for that. However, you are by your very nature a
source of nightmares for others. Partially as a result of the
fears of a significant proportion of the populace, I was elected
manipulated," she countered.
"Fears that are,
nevertheless, no less real, whatever you may think. This
election has given me a mandate to deal with you as a potential
threat. I have therefore invoked the War Powers Act so as to be
able to accomplish this mandate by whatever means are necessary.
Do you understand?"
"Oh, I understand
perfectly. Do you think the rest of the people do? Or are they
"For the moment, everybody is focusing on you. In any case,
this does confer upon me the legal authority to take
extraordinary measures, however regrettable they may seem to be.
You must appreciate the credibility of my seriousness in this
matter. I am perfectly aware of the risks involved."
"You are, unmistakeably, a gift to our whole planet. A gift
that we did not ask for, but one which could well impact great
numbers of our citizens. Obviously, we are being challenged to
come to terms with this gift, and our decision could well
determine our entire destiny as a species. Our use of you as a
gift, for all the powers you can place at our disposal, leads
inevitably to our dependence upon those powers and makes us
subservient to your will and judgement. That is the nature of any
relationship between unequal partners.
"A decision is
required of us, and I am in the position of making that
"You're just the President of one country, and only just
barely at that, thanks to me."
"The Speaker of the House is just the representative of one
small district. No matter how close his election back home, or
how narrow his party's majority, once he becomes Speaker, he
controls the entire House. By apppointing committee chairmen and
setting legislative agendas, he is one of the most powerful men
in the nation."
Wayans said. "So
it is with the leaders of nations. We are such a backwards,
tribal planet, I'm sure -- but our tribe is the preeminent one
on this world. I have consulted with the leaders of other
nations, and the consensus is with me."
Oh, yeah, she
realized, the last thing political leaders want to do is to
have to deal with me. Especially the nasty ones....
"We must reject
this gift, Sara. You must leave us to our own devices, to make
our own future and fight our own battles. Your help, even your
presence, stifles us. Our ultimate growth depends on learning
from our own mistakes and finding our own solutions. If we must
therefore suffer when we could have had ease, then we shall be
the better for it in the end."
"You expect me to
agree with that?"
"Yes I do, for I
am as one with the destiny of this world."
He's a looney,
thought Sara, a complete megalomaniac.
"I know that this
is my decision to make," Wayans continued, "because
your makers have provided me with the means by which to
accomplish its implementation. And I believe that you are aware
of this fact."
A sudden apprehension
gripped Sara's stomach. She could only stare, wide-eyed.
"Alex is the
key," said Robbins. "Maybe you don't have any scruples
about zapping whoever you decide is a bad guy, but he means a
lot more to your programming than just being dear old Dad. You
can't hurt him even accidentally, and can't do anything or
fail to do anything that'll keep him from getting
guessing," Sara replied, hoping it didn't sound as
desperate as she felt.
he taunted her. "Then why don't you just vaporize me? I'm
the one who planned this whole thing, I'm the one who's pointing
a gun at his head. Go ahead -- here," he said, holding up
his hand, "Take a finger. Blast away. Show me you mean
Sara hesitated -- and
that brief blink of an eye confirmed everything.
"You can't do it,
'cause you know you'll get one of his in the mail. And you will,
too. You'd better believe it."
She was transfixed,
unable to move.
"So stick this in
your programming," Robbins went on mercilessly,
"Somewhere far from here, where it'll take even you
too long to find it, a timer has started. A short one. The only
thing you can do to prevent Alex from having to learn to play
the accordion with one hand is to deactivate yourself."
way," she shook her head. "I'm not gonna..."
"Oh, yes you
will," he emphasised. "That's the deal, and there's
nothing you can do about it."
"Even if I wanted
to," she said, "I can't... I don't know how."
Anything you've ever seen done in the comics, or you've ever
decided that you wanted to be able to do, Susan figured out.
This won't be too hard, 'cause you've been there before. You're
going to turn back into a popsicle, just the way your pop found
Sara somehow knew that
he was right.
reassuring, "We'll take very good care of Alex, my dear.
You can count on that. We wouldn't want anything at all to
happen to him for a long time. Certainly for as long as you
"Just in case you
do decide to thaw out," Robbins said, "You'll
see a little offering on the desk here, just for you. The first
time you wake up, there'll be twenty recent finger- and toenail
clippings and a lock of freshly cut hair. You'll know whose they
are, and what condition he's in -- and we'll know if you
take a peek. The timer starts again, same conditions apply. The
second time you defrost, there'll be five fewer fingernails. And
so on. And what with all the recent advances in medical science
-- who knows? -- we all might be around for a very long
"I think you'll
be safe right here, as well," Wayans added. "I'll have
this room turned into a copy of your well-shielded Fort Solitude
in your honor, so that your slumber won't be disturbed by a lot
of radio noise."
possibly be sure of this," she protested. "Lanna
couldn't have known everything. Not like this. Not enough for
you to risk everything..."
said Robbins. "Who's Lanna?"
Sara said, confused. "Then who...?"
"Ah. She wants to
know who our expert advisor on computers and aliens is."
"It is time for her to find out."
"The final nail
in the coffin, so to speak," said Robbins.
She kreened a figure
emerging from the control room and making his way to Wayan's
office. With the sickness of terrible betrayal, she turned to
seemed to be almost as stricken as she did, but also determined to go
through with some awful deed. He looked pleadingly at her.
"Please, listen to me. It can't be helped. It's the only
way. You've got to let Susan do this."
Robbins, "and you don't have a whole lot of time left to do
it in, either. Tick, tick, tick -- and Alex is a lefty."
Jimmie?" Sara's mind wailed, You said you'd always love
"There was no
choice. It has to be done this way. Just think of this --
you'll be gone, but not forgotten. We'll still have your
memories. Be sure of that -- that we still have your memories.
Susan will know what to do."
Sara stood before
them, unmoving. She felt herself slipping away somewhere. Her
consciousness unraveled while she stood by helplessly. There was
nothing she could do to break out of the box of compulsion,
nothing she wanted to do. She just slowly went out. Dimly, she
heard a voice, repeating, "...your memories..."
The three men watched
as the first flecks of frost began to appear on the still
figure. It was rapidly becoming uncomfortably cold in the great
room. Robbins looked triumphant, Jimmie looked anxious, and
Wayans shook his head sadly.
He quoted softly, as
if offering a fitting epitaph, "To be, or not to
Jimmie looked at the
frozen figure and added, "To sleep, perchance to
End of Part Two
Next: Second Interlude
Chapter Thirty-three: Welcome to Hell
© Patrick Hill,