The Second Time Around

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It had been quite for a few minutes, and Dr. Mathis was beginning to grow worried. He could hear sirens in the distance growing louder and closer, but there wasn't a sound coming from the first floor of his home anymore. Dr. Mathis opened the door to his bedroom carefully stepped out onto the landing at the top of the stairs and his stomach lurched. The smell of blood was thick in the air, even at the top of the stairs, and the scene of carnage below was more than he'd ever encountered.

There was a muffled groan from the bottom of the stairs and Dr. Mathis saw Gregory writhing as if he were trying to stand. He rushed down and knelt by his former student's head and whispered to him. "Gregory, you're bleeding again. You have to lie still or you'll make it worse." Dr. Mathis wasn't sure if Gregory was conscious enough to understand him, or even to hear him, but he did settle down a bit.

The Professor ran to the kitchen and grabbed the rest of his dish towels, but when he burst through the door and into the foyer where Gregory lay, he froze. Three men in dark suits stood just inside the shattered doorway, somewhat quizzical expressions on their faces.

"Are you the weather man?" One of the men asked in a puzzled tone.

"I'm sorry?" Dr. Mathis answered.

"The weather man," the intruder repeated, as if it were significant, "Did you make the call about an umbrella? I see there's one more than counted."

"Oh, that," Dr. Mathis said, and he dropped to his knees beside Gregory. "This is the man who told me what to say. He saved my life."

The man in the middle who had spoken nodded and snapped his fingers. Two men dressed as EMT's came into the room and began working on Gregory with swift efficiency. They packed both sides of the wound with gauze, wrapped him tightly, then lifted him onto a stiff backboard stretcher. He cried out once as the straps were tightened down, then seemed to pass out again.

"You'll have to come with us now, Dr. Mathis," The man who'd spoken before said, taking the Professor by the elbow.

"Wait, I want to go with Gregory," Dr. Mathis said, then another thought occurred to him. "What about my wife! She can't come home to this and me not be here."

"She'll be intercepted at the airport, Dr. Mathis," The man replied firmly, "And you'll end up at the same place the Weatherman is headed. We just have to make sure he doesn't die first."

"Why do you keep calling him that?" Dr. Mathis asked, his head starting to spin. "He's a physicist, not a weather man."

One of the other two men stepped out from behind him and Dr. Mathis notice he had a small needle that he capped and tucked into his jacket pocket.

"Your friend," The man who had been speaking replied, "Activated a highly classified domestic intelligence program and called out a cleaning crew with code words he couldn't possibly know. Until we find out how he had them and who gave them to him, he stays the Weatherman to us. And you're all going to be spending some time as our guests."

As he was ushered out the door, Dr. Mathis found it was difficult to keep his brain focused on anything. There was a slight pinch in his left butt cheek where it felt like he had been stung, and he was beginning to think that he'd been drugged. Just before he faded completely out he overheard the other two men in suits talking. One said something about setting up a mob hit and the other mentioned accelerant and a fire.

Before Dr. Mathis could think too much on what they might be discussing, he drifted slowly into a happy and dream-filled stupor.

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