Para-Gen

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Chapter 2: Rio

Rio pretended to be asleep as she listened to Michael give instructions to someone. There’s no way Michael’s serious about the conversation, she thought, did he say that the man across the aisle is a vampire?

She remembered that she and Michael had been enjoying a nice candlelit dinner at LaRounge, the most sophisticated restaurant she had ever been to. Michael said he had something to talk to her about. They had been dating for six months, and she hoped that the thing he wanted to talk about was taking their relationship further. She was really beginning to like him. He was sweet and considerate; always buying her things and taking her places.

They had met at a conference for paranormal enthusiasts. She went to find a new muse for her story. She hadn’t discovered the inspiration she was looking for, but she did find the motivation to edit her current novel. According to her editor, it was on track for being a best-seller. She believed in all things paranormal, and Michael claimed he did as well. When he asked her about her interests, she shied away from the conversation. Then he dropped the bombshell that he seriously thought that werewolves and werebears and the like, indeed existed. So, she told him that she felt that there was some truth to the vampire legends. She honestly thought that such mythical creatures lived at one time; even if there wasn’t any evidence of their existence today.

Michael Delacourt was a handsome man, with a straight-line nose, that turned up a little at the tip. He said he was thirty though he looked a little older. His inky black hair was cut militarily, close to his scalp and sheared away from his neck and ears. He claimed it was something he couldn’t get passed since his military days. His slim but muscular build was attractive though she liked men who were a bit bigger in the chest. He had long legs like her, but his height of five foot nine dwarfed her five feet six.

“Do you think you have any latent abilities? Can you sense when things are about to happen? Do you how something is going to turn out before the end? Can you sense what others are thinking?” he’d asked.

She denied having any psychic abilities. She was just your average ordinary creative fiction writer, with a fantastic imagination to create her stories. She wouldn’t admit to her psychic abilities, especially since she didn’t know him well. He claimed to believe in the paranormal, but honestly, there was no way to judge the honesty of his statements.

Then last night or she thought it was last night, she had been working on her story about star-crossed kidnapped lovers when he called and invited her to dinner. She agreed to go because her editing process was almost finished and she needed a break. When he took her to the swanky eatery, she was so surprised and enthralled that she didn’t think much about the men who surrounded them as they entered.

They spoke of neutral things until the waiter appeared. Michael ordered the steak and lobster dinner for them both, though he knew she didn’t eat meat. She was about to contradict his order when the waiter left abruptly.

I’ll only eat the lobster and forgo the steak, she thought.

Michael drew her back into the conversation from before the waiter took their order. She dismissed the niggling thought that Michael was acting out of character. When the waiter placed the platter on the table, Rio purposely ignored the steak and ate the grilled lobster and asparagus. She was so focused on her meal that she almost didn’t hear Michael’s next comment.

Why aren’t you eating the steak? It’s cooked to a perfect medium-rare,” he said with a sneer. He placed his fork on the plate before him and told her in a cold voice, “it’s insulting to refuse to eat what I so graciously ordered for you. Now eat the steak.

The tone of his voice raised her sense of awareness and nervous response to imminent danger. She had a friend who had been in an abusive relationship. Rio knew that the emergence of his controlling behavior would only be the beginning if she didn’t put a stop to it immediately. Placing her fork on the table beside her own plate, looking him straight in the eye, she assessed her situation. Allowing her psychic side to emerge, Rio discovered that Michael had been hiding a deep secret. She hadn’t wanted to read him or his intentions because doing so always made things difficult for her. Now she wished she had, it would have saved her the headache she found herself experiencing now.

“Rio, I know you’re awake, sit up and face me,” a strange voice said.

Doing as the voice instructed, she found herself face to face with Michael or the man who claimed to be Michael Delacourt. The small bulge that he had in his throat was missing. And though he was in one of his many suits, the jacket was open, exposing the butt of a sidearm.

“How are you feeling?” he asked.

“Why do you care? You had me injected with some drug, and now I’m in a cell somewhere. And when I finally wake up, I see your despicable face. What’s up with the voice thing? It’s different than when you were dating me,” she bit out acerbically.

“My voice was modulated to disguise it. We couldn’t have people being able to identify me by my voice, now could we? The drug you were injected with was only to prevent you from trying to escape while we secreted you away from the restaurant.

You shouldn’t have lied to us about your abilities. If you hadn’t, we wouldn’t have used such a strong sedative on you. We don’t want to harm you. We need your help with a few things, and when we’re done, you can go back to your boring little life.”

“What’s to stop me from reporting you once you do?” she asked, knowing the answer already. They had no intention of letting her go and every intention of killing her. Not caring if Michael discovered her ability, she openly read his intent now.

“Why don’t you tell me about whatever abilities you have, that way we can accommodate you better. It will be much easier for you if you do,” he said, not bothering to hide the sneer.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t have any special abilities, other than a fantastic imagination that can create stories on a whim,” Rio replied smoothly.

“Now you see, I know you’re lying. The drug we gave you has an adverse side effect on those who have paranormal abilities. Our scientists were cautious about its development. So, I will ask you one more time, what is your story?”

“I told you once, and I’ll tell you again I don’t have any special talents.”

“I gave you a chance to come clean you freak,” Michael said, rising from the chair.

He crossed the small ten-by-twelve-foot cell and stood before the gate. As he opened it, a jolt of electricity struck Rio causing a convulsion so strong she hit her head on the cinder block wall behind her; rendering her unconscious.

“I gave her a chance, and she continued to deny the fact that she is a freak of nature,” Michael hissed into a receiver near his ear. “Fine! Get in here and make sure she didn’t kill herself with the ridiculous overly exaggerated convulsion.”

Ten minutes later a stooped elderly gentleman with snow white hair and faded brown eyes made his way into the cell. He looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders as he skirted past Michael and approached the cot. “Cheer up Schlichman, she’s still alive.”

Ignoring Michael, the doctor reached to check her pulse. Then he examined her head and discovered a bleeding wound on the back.

“You do realize that she isn’t overacting. The electrical jolt caused her convulsion, she really did hit her head that hard. She’s unconscious, and this time she may not wake up. I begged you not to increase the current on her implant. I told you it could kill her, she’s human,” the doctor said.

“Look you’re the doctor, not her handler. Now fix the problem, or I’ll remove you from the equation,” Michael said through gritted teeth.

“I told you, she needs to go to the infirmary. Are you going to carry her or do we call for the gurney?”

“Get the damn gurney. You fix the issues immediately and remember, your granddaughter is counting on you follow orders,” Michael said, leaving the doctor to take care of Rio.

Three hours later, Dr. Joseph Schlichman was rechecking Rio’s vital signs. As he lay his fingers on her wrist, he felt it twitch. Then he checked her pupils and found them reacting to the light.

“What the hell happened to me and why do I feel like I got run over by a truck?” Rio asked.

“A disciplinary action, per Mr. Delacourt. Now enough questions from you. Answer the following questions. What is your name?”

“Rio Townsend.”

“Age?”

“Twenty-eight.”

“Address?”

“Where ever I currently am. I am sorry I don’t have the address here,” Rio retorted.

“Where do you make your primary residence?”

“950 Lexington Way.”

“What city?”

“La Belle.”

“State?”

“Washington.”

“What type of special talents do you have?”

“I don’t have any special talents if I did, don’t you think I would have used them already to get out of this mess?”

“Well, Mr. Delacourt is under the impression that you do possess some type of talent.”

“Yes, well, I have a word or two for his misconceptions,” she said hotly.

“Take this, and then I will have you escorted back to your cell,” he said, handing her two white pills and a small paper cup with a liquid that looked like water.

“What is it?”

“A pain reliever for your headache, and water to swallow the pills.”

“What’s your name?” she asked.

“I’m not important enough for you to know my name. Take the pills and go back to your cell. A piece of advice. If you continue to piss him off, you’ll have a permanent bed here or be incinerated. You were electrocuted with 500 volts but minimal current. And unless you want to spend the rest of your natural life being electrocuted, I suggest you do as you’re told,” the grandfatherly man said to her.

A few minutes later, a man appeared dressed in fatigues and wearing a sidearm. In his right hand, he carried a stun baton, and when he placed the end of it to his leg, the tip lit up like a Roman candle. It was a Taser designed to reach without the wielder getting too close to the intended subject.

“She good to go?” the man asked gruffly.

“Yes, take her back to her cell. Try not to electrocute her, another charge could kill her.”

With those parting words, the guard escorted Rio back to her cell. When she arrived, she found a tray holding a steak cooked rare, milk, and a medley of vegetables waiting for her. She was about to refuse to eat the steak but remembered the baton the guard carried. Sullenly, she sat at the table and waited for the guard to leave. When he was gone, she ate the vegetables and drank the milk but flushed the steak down the toilet.

Twenty minutes later when a guard returned to reclaim the tray, he smiled thinking she had eaten the meat. The look he displayed said, so much for not being a red meat eater.

The guard left, and Rio returned to her bunk, just as Michael entered the cell. “I see you are willing to eat red meat if you haven’t eaten in a couple of days. Good to know. Now we will begin with our questioning again. What are your paranormal abilities?”

“I don’t know why you think I have any abilities. If I did, don’t you think I would use those abilities to save myself a whole lot of trouble and obvious pain? And if you mention that your drug only works on those with paranormal abilities, did it ever occur to you or your scientists that some people might be sensitive to some of the components? I’m no science geek, but even I know you can’t say that at least one person won’t be sensitive to some part of your cocktail,” she said, trying to keep the acid out of her voice.

“We happen to know that you have no known allergies. If you have an allergy, we need to know so that we can prevent a potential reaction. What are your allergies?” Michael smirked, thinking she was lying.

“I’m allergic to opioids. If any part of your drug cocktail had an opioid in it, you could have killed me. It was just my luck I suppose that it didn’t, considering my current accommodations.”

“You’re allergic to all opioids?”

“Yes, all opioids. If it’s used as a sedative or a prescribed painkiller, I can’t take it. I guess your investigators didn’t realize that I wear a medic alert pendant on a chain around my neck. Oh, let me guess, they didn’t check, did they? That’s some crack investigative team you have there.”

Michael stood so suddenly that if the chair hadn’t been bolted to the floor, it would have gone flying across the room. He left in a rush, slamming the gate closed. After he was gone, Rio curled up on the cot facing the wall and prayed that whatever they were going to do to her, they would just get it over with. She knew they had no intention of letting her go, not now that she had been kidnapped and drugged and then punished. She fell into a fitful sleep waiting for the other shoe to drop.

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