Finding Jack

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Chapter 7

After figuring out that the key was for a safety deposit box, it only made sense that “First and Devon” turned out to be the First National Bank in a small town called Devon. It was conveniently situated on First Street. Cao had been right – Google was a wonderful thing indeed. He was sure that it was the right place, seeing as how if he knew that he was going to lose his memories, he had to put the secrets to this universe somewhere a bit more secure than in the closet of a dry cleaning shop. In fact, he’d be a bit disappointed with himself if he weren’t at least a little bit careful with what he was doing. After all, he had people looking for him because of what he’d forgotten. If he was still a free man, it had to have been because of something a bit more tangible than just luck, even if that seemed to be what he was coasting by on.

And yeah, by this point he was pretty sure he’d caused himself to get amnesia. How...he wasn’t exactly sure, but it seemed far too convenient that he’d just forget his life in the middle of investigating a terrorist sect (potentially) without a shred of evidence about who he really was and somehow managed to leave himself clues. If he knew something and he wanted to keep it hidden, clearly he’d thought that this was the best way to do it. And if he’d been worried enough to think that he’d give up information unless he forgot...well, that didn’t bode well for Jack if anyone caught him. Sure, Rand and his friends had been easy enough to slip around, but they hadn’t expected him to fight his way out the way he had. He’d presented himself as a docile person looking for answers. He doubted that he’d be able to pull that again. It was more important than ever that he pull himself together and get down to Devon.

Devon was actually a nice little town. It seemed to have friendly people who were more than happy to help him with the two things he needed. The first was a hat. The idea that he’d been walking around where he could get picked up on any security camera with nothing to obscure his face had been a realization that hit him late in the night and left him almost retching in panic. It was an interesting sensation to know that you were terrified to the point of near illness, but you couldn’t recall why. Every day Jack was discovering something even more insane about himself, though, and that was just par for the course. What was he going to do if he got his memory back and he was some Russian sleeper agent hold over from the cold war? Or maybe he was just a very crafty covert agent like Rand said and he’d burned that bridge behind him with the dislocation of the man’s elbow? Who knew? In the end, he didn’t think it really mattered, seeing as how he didn’t feel like that person anymore. It was hard to explain, but he felt like his life started when he woke up in that tub. Finding out who Jack once was...well, it was more about survival at this point. He was starting to feel like his situation was a bad rip off from Total Recall – the Colin Farrell version, not the Arnold Schwarzenegger one with all the aliens – with a slight bit of Jason Bourne thrown in, seeing as how he was an amnesic with some super spy skills and the government on his ass. What he wouldn’t have given to be more of a John Cusack character in any of his movies. He just wanted to be some ordinary guy dealing with the fact that his love life was in the shitter and he was having some sort of an early mid-life existential crisis, but it wasn’t that kind of movie. That wasn’t his life.

Still, he felt a lot better when he had a ball cap pulled down firmly on his head. It had a neon pink rose on it with a navy background and white stripes running around the hat. It was the kind of flashy thing that people would remember instead of his face. He was tempted to throw on a polka dotted ascot to further the distractions, but he thought that might hinder him in the long run, seeing as how someone would remember a guy buying that kind of thing. Something in the back of his head coached him along and he wondered just how often he’d had to blend in and go unnoticed in the past. He was starting to feel like he had some form of a mental complex with how he was thinking of himself as two different people, neither of which were psychiatrists, though, so it was better not to over analyse if he could avoid it.

The second thing the locals had helped him with was directions to the bank. Honestly, he could have found it on his own, but it was faster just to ask. He didn’t want to spend a lot of time in Devon if he could help it. He couldn’t afford a repeat of his time outside Boston. The last thing he needed was Rand catching up to him and deciding he wouldn’t be able to run if there was a bullet in his leg. He was sure he didn’t need yet another scar added to the collection he was accumulating.

Walking into the bank, he gave the room a quick glance, counting the tellers, the number of windows, the placement of the cameras, and where the guard was. It was all done so quickly that he was sure no one thought of it more than a casual look and assumed he had training there, too. That was what he was going for – some guy just in for a quick visit. No one special, no one memorable, no one that they’d look at twice. Seeing as how no one even glanced his way, Jack made his way to the bank’s reception desk and took off his sunglasses, smiling charmingly at the woman behind the desk. He’d practiced in the mirror, but this woman was the first that he was trying it out on. She smiled back at him and twirled her hair a bit with her pen, something Jack hoped was a good sign.

“Welcome to First National Bank. And just what can I do for you?” she asked, leaning towards him and batting her lashes a bit.

Oh, the smile had definitely worked.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t have time to make an appointment or anything, but I was hoping to get into my safety deposit box,” Jack replied, pulling the keys out to show her.

“Oh! Well, don’t worry about that. We’re a pretty understanding about that. Could I get your name and box number, please?”

“Ken Swanson,” he replied, using the name off the documents he’d gotten in the same bag as the keys. “Box 112.”

He hoped that was the right number. He’d gotten it off the keys, but that didn’t necessarily mean that was the number of the box. It could have been the serial number of the key or something, but he was hopeful. When the woman...Trudy, her nameplate said, typed his information into the computer, she didn’t seem fazed at all. In fact, she beamed a bit while she was reading over his information.

“Thank you, Mr. Swanson. If you’ll wait one moment, I’ll get someone to take you back to view your box.”

“Thank you, Trudy,” he replied, turning that practiced grin on her again. She returned it as she picked up the phone and quietly spoke to someone on the other end.

It only took a minute before a short man with a bowtie made his way out of one of the offices behind the tellers. He was shuffling along as he made his way up to Jack, looking like he was having a hard time containing his excitement as he moved. He kind of reminded Jack of what The White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland would look like if he were human and dressed in a grey suit. He certainly had the rushed part down.

“Hello again, Mr. Swanson! I hadn’t expected you back so soon!”

Well, that was a good sign – someone there remembered Ken Swanson. He’d hoped that if he’d been there before that he’d actually remember something about the place, but so far nothing had sparked his memory since he’d walked into the bank.

“My business brought me back around earlier than I thought,” Jack replied easily, causing the other man to nod a bit.

“And our good fortune that it did. If you’ll come with me,” he gestured and Jack followed along, making his way back behind the tellers and the offices to where there was a barred door. The little man wasted no time opening it, continuing onto the next one before they were finally in the deposit box room. “Keys, please.”

Jack handed the keys over, watching as the man shuffled to the right and counted rows before stopping at one of the boxes and shoving the first key in the lock. It opened easily, revealing a sliding box inside. The man pulled it out, setting it down on the table in the middle of the room. He placed the second key in the lock on the box and backed away without opening it. It was all done very professionally and Jack couldn’t help but wonder if maybe this was the man’s only job.

“I’ll leave you to your privacy,” he offered, gesturing to the door. “It will lock behind me, but when you are ready to leave, please replace your box and exit the room. The door will lock again behind you and one of our associates will be waiting outside to escort you back to the bank floor.”

“Thank you,” Jack replied, making no move to act until he heard the door click behind the man.

Once he was alone, Jack unlocked the box and carefully lifted the lid. Inside was...disappointing. All he found was a white envelope. Picking it up, Jack noted that there was a bit of weight in the left corner, but it was still very light. Opening it, he frowned, spying another set of keys looking back at him. He shook them out onto his palm and was even more surprised to see that they were nearly identical to the keys he’d come in with. Turning them over in his hands he spied the number 345 stamped into the metal and looked around the room, finding the number across from the first box. Moving, he opened the lock and pulled out the second box. It was hefty and he was sure that there was something more in it than a set of keys. He was sure hoping so, at any rate. He hadn’t come this far just to play games.

Opening the second box was much more satisfying. Inside was another stack of money, yet another wallet, a set of car keys, and a voice recorder. The recorder seemed to be the most interesting thing in there and he greedily reached for it, finger only momentarily pausing before he hit play.

“Well, it looks like you made it this far.”

Jack felt his chest clench at the words. He knew that voice. This...he’d recorded this.

“I know things haven’t been easy. I am sorry that you probably woke up in some back alley with no memory, but it had to be done...Here’re the basics: your name is whatever it needs to be this week. You work for a division of the government that doesn’t exist on paper, and you’re one of their best agents. I’m sorry I can’t get into more detail, but if you’re here, you probably know about them already.”

Far too well, Jack thought, but what was the point in replying to a recording? He didn’t want to miss anything.

“Well, you know most of why you’re here already. About six months ago, you were inserted into a terrorist cell working out of New York City. They were looking to create a toxin originally, but then...well, things went sideways.”

The voice on the recorder sighed and Jack could tell the other man was feeling his age right then...however old that was. It seemed to change with every set of identification he came across.

“They stumbled upon the idea of a targeted weapon, killing someone with their own DNA and leaving no one else harmed...I know it all sounds like science fiction, but shit got real. It all works based off DNA markers in one’s blood and as out there as it seems, it’s a viable weapon. I saw it with my own eyes and it’s not something I wanted to mess around with. I called in reinforcements, but my superiors seemed more interested in acquiring the information than shutting down the cell, or worse – letting the act of terrorism happen so that they could claim they got the information after the fact. If you met Rand, you know they want it and they’re willing to do anything to get it, no matter how morally wrong their motives may be.”

Jack silently agreed. Rand was one determined bastard if there ever was one.

“Three weeks before this recording, the head mad scientist on the project had an...accident. He was the expert in all this, but I worked closely with him and I was the only one left who knew how to manipulate the serums for DNA targeting. Right then, I knew both myself and the information had to disappear. So I sabotaged the samples and made a break for it, but I know it’ll just be a matter of time before they recreate it and one group or the other tracks me down and gets the information out of me somehow. That’s why you’re in the position you’re in right now. I know it sounds pretty selfish, but...if they got this thing running, it would have taken out anyone you wanted in Manhattan within minutes. You could have taken out anyone male, anyone female, anyone black, white...I couldn’t let that happen.”

Jack may not have remembered who he was, but he knew he would have made the same choice. There was nothing that justified the needless deaths of millions of people. Living with that memory would have been worse than living without a memory at all.

“I can’t say much more, just in case someone does get their hands on this before you do. I know you’re probably sick of following breadcrumbs and I wish I could send you to some tropical island to spend the rest of your life on, but it’s not how I was wired and I know that if anything of myself survived, you’re not wired that way, either. As long as the cell and the information exist, you’re not done yet. Go to New York City. Find Danny Devine in Brooklyn. Just ask around. He has a kitchen set up, and I don’t mean food. You’ll know him when you smell it. Don’t worry about the money; the bag’s what’s important. Good luck.”

Jack listened as the recording stopped. That was it. He’d come all this way just to hear that he had to go to New York City and bully some man for a bag. Somehow, he thought it would have been simpler for all that to have been in the wallet he’d woken up with. At least then he’d have known to avoid Rand from the start. Sighing, he ran a hand over his face and wondered when it was his turn to have a bit of peace. He was sure it wouldn’t be anytime soon. He wasn’t going to be John Cusack in this one. Collin Farrell eat your heart out.

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