Kidnapped Miss Parker
“Just can’t find it Mister Parker,” the security camera man said, pointing to the doors that were involved in the break in with the offspring potential pretenders. “The intruder was there during their last meeting, but nothing was broken in.” A person in rags was going through all the security without anything needed. “It’s still the same thing. Nothing new has been found.”
“She had the codes,” Raines said, staring at the video footage. Nothing new. No new developments. Nothing had changed. Same video! All they knew was from the slim looking hand, it was most likely a woman breaking in. Most likely, Miss Parker. “How could someone have all the codes?”
“How could someone survive? There were even lasers she had somehow passed, knowing the sequence to break it.” The security camera man scratched his head.
Raines stared at the figure on the footage again. “It has to be her. She’s been missing six months.” He watched Lyle finally stroll in. “What took you? I called you earlier. You should have been here.”
“Sorry, Mister Parker,” Lyle said honorably. “Just going through the steps of my own cases. Anything helpful?”
“Nothing anymore helpful. Potentials are gone.”
“Still think it was Miss Parker?” Lyle adjusted his tie. “Our mom was a big believer in rescuing children. Maybe she came down with the same disease?”
“Now?” Raines answered. “She gives a damn now?” He watched the videos once again. “She wouldn’t just give a damn now.” Hmm. He didn’t want to believe it. Not her. Not like this. I hate to do it but progress won’t stop to keep my top soldiers. I can’t provide any more time.“Did you look into the other incident more carefully?”
“Sure did.” Lyle gave Raines a folder. “Thorough search. I couldn’t find a thing about my sister trying to break out the clone from The Centre back when Jarod took him. Everything was done on Jarod and Major Charles’ end. No involvement.” Lyle looked back at the footage too. “You really think she was secretly trying to rescue the clone?”
“No. She didn’t lift a finger.” He looked back at Lyle and rubbed his mouth. If Parker’s will started being traitorous, it would have started beforehand. Get it over with. “Send out an official statement to the Triumvirate, signed by Mister Parker.” Him. “Upon further investigations, The Centre believes five potential pretenders were taken along with my daughter, possibly by Jarod or Major Charles.”
“Wait, we are saying she was taken now?” Lyle asked confused. “I thought we were pegging this all on her? So far all the evidence points to-”
“I don’t pay you to think, Boy,” Raines said, putting him back into his place. “This is bigger than you know. Just do your job.”
Broots Office Space
Sydney entered the office. “Good morning, Broots.”
“Six months.” Broots sat down. “Morning, Sydney.” He got behind the computer. “Man, finding houses for cats is hard. I thought tracking Jarod down was tough.” As he dug into his computer though? “Sydney? Do you think Miss Parker is with Jarod? And?”
Sydney scooted toward the computer to read what Broots received. “They think either Jarod or Major Charles took Miss Parker and five potential pretenders?” He feigned ignorance. “Odd indeed.”
“The Centre sent it straight to the Triumvirate not long ago.” Broots glanced at Sydney. “The ages of the potential pretenders?” He shook his head. “Man, there’s no way Miss Parker would survive hanging out with four kids.”
“She does fine with Debbie,” Sydney pointed out.
“Debbie’s one kid and mature for her age. That would be four, and at those ages?” Broots stared at the computer. “Still? More pretenders? I can’t believe more were hiding in here and Jarod didn’t know about it. Especially kids. Ugh. Anyway. Why would anyone steal Miss Parker with a bunch of kids? Did they find footage of her being kidnapped?” He fidgeted. “This isn’t good, Sydney. Why did they wait six months to reach this conclusion?”
Sydney shrugged. “We won’t know the truth of anything until she comes back. Until then, Broots. Just do your job.”
The Centre Playroom
Raines moved toward a special room in The Centre and slipped in his card. He opened the door and went in, seeing the others there. Lucas. Ronald. Lucy. Stephanie. While it was good to have backups, it wasn’t as good as the originals. At least they were all still too young to carry on their inner sense yet. He looked down to look at the kids. “Enjoying The Centre’s toys?”
Ronald smiled. “Yes!”
“Where’s my mom?” Stephanie asked Raines. “My mom and dad should have been here by now.”
“The Centre’s been working out arrangements with them,” Raines answered. “They’ll come soon, Sweetie.” He took a deep breath while the kids all stared at him. Not used to seeing oxygen tanks in their suburban life. If I don’t get the others back, then they’ll have to remain backups. Destroying The Centre’s research. He looked toward Lucas, staring at him. He still had the same kind of cold eyes his twin brother had. Still great potential. “Lucas. Why don’t you come for a walk with me? We’ll get to know each other better.”
“Only if you stop the song in the background,” Lucas said as he grabbed Raines hand. “That damn Kangaroo song is driving me crazy.”
“I like the Kangaroo song,” Lucy piped up. “I wish I could see Kangaroos.”
Raines went over to the small tape recorder and turned it off. “There we go. Now let’s go enjoy a nice walk, Lucas. You can tell me what your dad does for a living.”
“Listen to mom,” Lucas answered.
Raines smirked. Yes. He’d be a good one to try. Smart alecs were the easiest to break.
June 6, 2002. The Centre. 5:30 AM
Raines approached the office Broots and Lyle were working in, tracking Jarod. “Broots. Lyle. Where’s Sydney?”
“No idea,” Lyle said.
“Uh? I don’t know,” Broots said weakly. He didn’t. It was earlier than usual. “I was told to come in at 5:00. I don’t know if Sydney had been.” For some reason, that seemed to please Mister Raines instead.
“What are you finding for data on our lost Miss Parker, Lyle?” Mister Raines asked. “The Centre needs her. She needs to be found.”
Lyle was just staring at Raines. Broots ignored the tension and went back to his work. No doubt he’d find out what that was about soon. Sibling rivalry at massacre levels again?
Lyle got up from the office and went down the hallway, leaving Broots behind. “Lots of calls coming in from our sources. I don’t know how we got this many this fast, for one technically lost person?”
Ah. “Some bitterness in your voice?” Raines asked. “Better reel it in. Feel fortunate you were taken care of.”
“What do we do with all these reports?” Lyle asked him.
“Go the deepest you can,” Raines insisted. “How far do you have?”
Lyle still seemed to have a slight bitter edge as he brought the folders. “This far.”
“Yeah. That’d be about right,” Raines said. “How many?”
“That’s good. Tell the sources it’s feeding time,” Raines said to Lyle. “As I am sure you are guessing? We are eliminating them.”
“Elimination? All of them?” It seemed like such a waste and a hassle.
“Hm. We were going to bring them in, cool them down and get answers about which one had the kids,” Raines said. “Change of plans. More than one confidential source has claimed they are awakening memories without instruction to do so. Experiments don’t run themselves. Something went wrong. We’ll take care of this and then lay low awhile. Besides. This project is old, it’s not needed anymore.”
Soon, they’d have a much better group to watch. They learned all they could from those clones, and he’d have one on reserve if he needed them again anyhow. They’d have to stay below the radar for a little while, but the kids were still small. The only shame was The Centre would be on an extreme lockdown of all their usual Centre business for quite some time. “Tell them there’s five million on the table. Send all data you’ve accumulated out to each source. Collect one object per kill, no bystanders shot or no payment. It will all be divided like a Sunday potluck dinner.” Lyle seemed almost frozen. “You have a problem with that?”
“No.” Lyle looked at the folder again. “There’s no way Broots will do that without question.”
“Everyone has a price for their soul,” Raines said. “Some are more expensive than others. Some are cheap. Yours is cheaper. Get it done.”
“Yes, Mister Raines. I know where it hurts,” Lyle said. “This is still a bad idea.”
“Cold feet?” Raines asked. “Never got rid of this many so fast?” It was the Parkers. It had to be swift and quick or they’d be on guard.
“No, I’ll do it, Mister Raines.”
“One more thing.” Raines smirked. “There’s also a pool on who’ll live longest. If you want in, you’ve got thirty minutes.”
Oh? “Not like shooting fish in a barrel?”
“Not all of them are the same. Memories or not.”
Lyle came into the office room behind Broots again. “Possible places she could be hiding.” He kept the top identifiers on the top. He had given Broots only the basics of a standard missing person job so he wasn’t any wiser.
Broots had been doing fine, his Centre computer skills sewing the destruction of Miss Parker with each click, unknowingly. File after file, the computer kept lighting up his visage. Click by click by click. Then, he started to slow down lightly. Getting a little suspicious of Lyle. Meanwhile, Lyle kept his phone handy. They met each other’s eyes briefly, before Broots looked back at the paper. He looked back toward Lyle.
“There a problem, Broots?” Lyle questioned. “Clickety clack it up.”
Broots picked up the file and started to look at it closer. “I don’t think she’d ever be there. Would she?”
“I don’t know? She did steal kids,” Lyle said. “I mean, the Pretender probably stole her with the kids. Seems reasonable. Back to work.”
“Jarod wouldn’t put them into a public school.” Broots was hesitating. “Who saw her?” He looked at another file.
Lyle knew that would happen. “We are The Centre, Broots. We cover all possible ways of escape.” He shrugged. “Probably a long shot, but it’s still a shot. Especially if it’s a short time. Hell, Jarod fakes surgeon papers like nothing, that shouldn’t be a big deal. I mean? Was it tough for you when you put your daughter, Debbie Broots, into public school? Trusting place, isn’t it?” Yeah. Broots was starting to eye him more. “Lots of friends. Open area. I believe it actually is, what, your daughter’s lunch time soon?” He had a small calendar on him. “Ooh, yes. Chicken nuggets today. That sounds great. Lunch time, yet. In about fifteen minutes. Hm.”
Yeah. Broots looked back at the computer slowly, looked toward the folder and started typing again.
That’s right. Don’t question The Centre. He had no chance to rebel, and with every keystroke? Wow. Amazing how exciting, how exhilarating the sounds of clacks on a keyboard sounded when you knew what would happen because of them.
Jarod had planned on getting up and preparing some decent breakfast for the kids, but he woke up instead to bad news. Miss Parker?
Was not Miss Parker. When he went to talk to her, she was frightened. Scared. She wanted to fight him, but the kids talked her out of believing he was bad. She said her name was Rene Grossberg, she was married with three kids, and was from Peyton, Colorado.
Internet access was not as strong so far away, so Jarod called Sydney to check it out. When he checked on the information, Sydney found her and called Jarod back.
The real deal. Rene Grossberg looked just like Miss Parker and had been missing for seven months.”I don’t believe it, how could she know so much about Miss Parker?” Jarod questioned Sydney. “She knew everything. She knew about you. She knew about Broots.”
“Jarod, I am on my way to you already,” Sydney revealed. “I will be there in one hour.”
Sydney was coming there? “How?”
“Because. I was on my way before I even looked this up for you,” Sydney admitted. “I left late last night.”
“In the middle of the night.” What was going on?
“Someone wants to rendezvous. It’s not going to be done over the internet, and it’s not going to be done over the phone either,” Sydney revealed.
Sydney was meeting someone, out there, with him, at the private hiding spot of Miss Parker and the potential pretender kids? “You better be damn sure about this, Sydney.”
“I am very sure, Jarod. She has forbidden me to say her name over any communications device.”
Top secret. Could it be?
Sydney arrived soon after. He came inside the house and helped to settle Rene Grossberg down as well. When he arrived, he finally told Jarod face to face who would be coming.
Catherine. Parker. “How did she even know?” Jarod questioned.
“She only contacted me once, but I got a good enough look to know she is not lying. It is her,” Sydney answered. “Be ready for anything, Jarod. If she has willingly been hiding away for all this time, and just now intercepts after all these years? I fear nothing good will happen.”
Jarod warned the kids to be quiet, trying to stay polite and nice. He was trying to keep Rene Grossberg calm. He was trying to watch out for a car coming up the road, and making sure it was Catherine Parker’s car. He was trying to do all of this while inside he felt panicked, worried, dread, and desperation.
Catherine Parker had been in hiding. Deeply. This was so bad, she was coming out of hiding to meet them. Even Sydney was now right beside him.
When she arrived, she was in a low key cheap car. She opened the door. Her clothes were low in status, but her expression was still the same. She was more mature looking than her seventies self he had last seen. Alive and well. “Catherine Parker.”
“Jarod,” she responded in kind.
He had a million questions his mind wanted her to answer, but his heart was set on one. “Where is your daughter, Miss Parker?”
“Straight and to the point. She meant a great deal to you,” Catherine said. “Hello, Sydney.”
Meant? “Is she . . .?”
“She is and she isn’t,” Catherine said. “Just like I am, and I am not.”
No. “I don’t have time for games right now,” Jarod said desperately. He glanced at Rene. “Is Rene Grossberg, Miss Parker?” He should have that answer, but he needed to hear it from Catherine Parker.
“None of them are Miss Parker, Jarod, and all of them are. Give me a few minutes to share my story, and you’ll understand.”