Warm Death

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Chapter 12: Epiphany and Mobilization

Chapter 12: Mobilization

In the next hour after Victor left, Alex was still furiously scanned leads and police reports, while recruiting some of his hacker friends to chase IP addresses and phone calls. Presently, Frank resumed ranting, “The ghosts are watching our every move. God is watching us masturbate! Cheating on our taxes, scratching our balls…”

“But we are detached …” Randall had apparently appeared straight out of the wall. “… But we are detached. We watch. It was our first achievement. But we do not judge. We yearn to be able to masturbate again. You are police, you see raw human behavior every day and become cynical. We celebrate life and are working out how to return.”

Frank leapt out of his skin, but quickly gathered himself, “It is polite to knock first.”

We’ve been looking into you. You guys have been up to a lot more than your visits, haven’t you?”

“I came as soon as I could. Dr. Fenster typed an S.O.S. into my nerve endings.”

“What is going to be done about Hernandez and Hudson?”

“We cannot reach consensus. Banishment is not possible. The vote was 40 to 12.”

“So now you’re a democracy? Are you saying you need us to execute the sentence?”

“… I don’t know what I’m saying, except I am not in full control of the situation. I promised you that if you kept our secret, I would help you police them.”

Looking at his screen, Alex jumped in, “You said that Hudson would not be allowed to return, but he has. What is he planning?”

“I did not know that. We lose our full connection to the Bridge when we visit. People have been making transits in private, unknown to the group at large, though people gossip…”

Collins pressed his fingers into his temples and paced the room in circles, “Fuck, fuck, fuck.”

Alex scanned the police wires, “Oh God! Frank… your sister, Susan, was in a car accident yesterday. Her neck was broken… and she is at the Institute.”

Alex pulled his gun on Randall, more out of instinct, than anything else. He was aware that he probably couldn’t kill the projection of a dead man. “What have you done?”

Randall genuinely looked surprised at the news, but how much of his facial expressions were real?

Randall stated earnestly, “I cannot help you from here. I must go back. I can make it to the Institute faster than you, but I promise you this is not my doing, and I will be there for you. If I fail, tell Victor thank you for the extra years and that I’m sorry.” Then he simply melted into the floor.

They called Dr. Fenster, “Victor, is it true? Has my sister been connected with the bus?”

Shaken, Victor pulled up his registry. “Oh, Frank! I don’t know. Do you think…?” Noises and shuffles could be heard. “I see a Susan Collins checked in this morning, but I have not been in the Meat Locker yet, due to the security upgrade.”

“Upgrades?”

“Orders from the Board. They want all power systems to be made triply redundant. And they are re-running background checks on all employees.”

“So, they don’t trust you, either?”

“I am afraid my children are growing up fast.”

“Don’t say anything else on the phone! They have been listening to you – to us - all along. For all we know, they are listening to me now. We are on our way over. We will meet you out front.”

Dr. Fenster paused and gulped. “Yes, I am looking at her monitor. The transfer has been a success. Congratulations, Frank! Your sister will be with us for a while longer…. Yes. You are most welcome.”

“I want to talk to her.”

“I told you we have tried that…”

“Victor, isn’t it clear yet? They have heard everything you have said for 3 years! They were not letting on. Just answer, ‘Yes. We can try’.”

Victor hesitated briefly and responded, “Yes, of course! I’ve always believed even patients in comas can hear their loved ones. …. You are welcome, Detective. I will see you soon.”

Victor hung up. His body slumped over the weight of the revelations. Shaking, he surveyed his laboratory, then stared into the portal window of the Meat Locker at the Phase 3 clusters. Chills ran up his spine. He looked both ways in fear of would-be attackers or shadows, gathered his tablet and notebooks, and ran for the exit.

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