“What is it?” The Conductor inquired.
Tommy scrutinized the object in his hands. It couldn’t have weighed any more than a remote controller or one of his parent’s cellular phones. Whatever it was, the paper was obviously meant to conceal it, so Tommy turned the mysterious object over in his hands until he found an exposed edge where the paper stopped. Carefully, he began to unwrap whatever it was that was hidden beneath.
As he unwound the paper, Tommy started to see black, slanted lines as a handwritten note unfolded. An odd exhilaration curdled in his chest. His mind flew to all of the Hardy Boys books he and Sam read over the years. Sam always joked that he was Joe and that Tommy was Frank because Joe was the brains and Frank was the athletic one. Now, that distinction didn’t seem too far off. So many of those young detective stories had some sort of secret message handwritten in cramped cursive much like this one in his hands. He felt like he was part of something exciting and adventurous.
The sensation faded, though, as The Legacy lurched a little and he was reminded that Pit River Bridge was fast approaching. As he continued to unwrap the item his suspicions were confirmed as the handwriting took the form of a letter. With the last bit of paper that he unfurled, something noticeably heavy fell to the floor with a dull thud. Tommy immediately stooped down and pulled the item up into the light to inspect it. The mysterious object was indeed a long barrel which swam with a green liquid, with a plunger attached at the very top. The other end glinted madly in the sunlight as the long, dreadful needle emerged out of the darkness.
It was a syringe.
A feeling plummeted in Tommy’s gut. Was he holding the murder weapon?
“What do we have here?” The Conductor interrogated. Tommy quickly thrust it in the man’s direction, hoping that he wasn’t about to inject himself.
“A needle!” Tommy hissed.
“I see,” the Conductor said contemplatively.
“You don’t think it’s what the bad guy used to kill the Doctor, right?” Tommy said with fear quavering in his voice.
“Unlikely, Harold. The…bad guy would’ve used all of the contents of the needle. This one,” he said as he pointed at the barrel of the syringe, “hasn’t yet been utilized.” The reverberating fear cascading through every chamber of Tommy’s heart started to ease out of his chest. Yes, the Conductor was right. If this was the murder weapon, it would be empty. This syringe, however, was full of a vibrant green liquid—like the color of paint from paintballs splattered on his chest.
“What does the letter say? Perhaps that will give us a clue,” the Conductor suggested. Tommy looked down at the letter in his hands and brought it under the light from the window. Tommy wished Sam was back. Where had he gone? Did he just abandon Tommy because of what he’d done to Sam? Tommy wouldn’t blame him. The Conductor drew closer to Tommy, and Tommy could feel the warmth of his nearness as his eyes fell upon the words.
“Allan,” Tommy started as he read the minute cursive out loud. “I appreciate you confiding in me about your grievances concerning everything that has been transpiring since the discovery. I understand your desire to leave. I myself have had serious misgivings about the company’s present course of action and have serious inclinations to join you in your departure, but I know my courage would not avail as much as my scruples. I applaud you, my friend. You are made of more gumption than I. I believe you understand the serious nature of your departure, and how it will certainly raise suspicions from the present management. I extol you for your decisive actions and your commitment to doing the honorary course of action.” Tommy looked up at the Conductor who was listening intently. He continued as his eyes went back to the paper.
“I myself, my friend, and more afraid of my life than I am willing to admit. Did you hear about Matthew? He suggested going to the press about the discovery, and now we no longer see of him. Some say he was shuffled down to the mailroom, but I am most certain he has disappeared in a more permanent manner. Ever since the discovery, the management at Morpheus has cracked down hard on dissention of any type. Why just the other day, I was forced to sign a document stating that I would hold the goings on of Morpheus under strictest confidentiality and would not share it with anyone—not even my mother! I am flabbergasted. How could they hold such sway over our most basic freedoms? It is easy, it seems, when they threaten more than just one’s employment.” Tommy listened to the words he was speaking with rapt attention. His eyebrow was raised in an aggressive arch as he mulled on the note.
“When I heard of your parting, I knew exactly what you were planning. You aim to stop Morpheus from unleashing their schemes. I hope with earnest that you’re successful. By the time this letter reaches you, you may very well be on your way to San Francisco. If so, then this will be an act of no avail. But, I could not sit idly by and not do something that demanded some sort of sacrifice. Not while knowing that your actions are of the most ultimate sacrifice—which I know you are aware. I fear that if you never read this letter, we may not be granted another opportunity to correspond.” Tommy felt the writer’s remorse in his words. He was nearing the end of the letter as he pushed forward.
“Enclosed in this envelope is something of great benefit to you, I hope. It is the antidote. Do not ask me how I procured the item—that does not matter. There were so few at our facility, that even now I know they are hunting for the whereabouts of my thievery. But, it is the least I could do. I know you will want to save it so that it can be studied, but I implore you, my dearest friend, to use it upon yourself. They know what you are doing. Save your life so that others may likewise be saved. Your dearest friend.” Tommy looked down at the bottom of the page to a single letter.