Chapter Eight: Control Issues
by Jeffrey M. Mahr
©2000 Jeffrey M. Mahr -- all rights reserved
"Like the sands of an hourglass, these are the days of our lives." That thought kept running through my mind as I waited at the cottage for Paul. The quote, from the opening to a soap opera, seemed to sum up my life recently, although maybe not; no soap opera I'd ever seen was quite as bizarre as my life had been in the last year.
The gravel crunched from the sound of tires as a car pulled up to the cottage and I ran to greet Paul I was so happy to see him. I had been waiting almost two full days for him to get my message and come to me and the cabin had been lonely without his company. Throwing the door open, I reached out to hug him and stopped in my tracks. Instead of Paul, there was some huge, muscle-bound, pug-ugly.
"Where's Paul? What are you doing with his car?" I tried to look around him to see if anyone else was in the car, but couldn't really see around him. Without speaking, pug-ugly handed me a note.
I have reviewed your research notes and I concur with your attempts to stifle further human testing. Instead, I have decided to take this project under my personal attention and make it a special project, with only a few personally selected candidates. We need to talk of many things, including Virginia and Paul.
Dr. Carlton Waldorf Maldonado requests your presence to discuss your future and the future of your research. The gentleman bearing this invitation will escort you to our rendezvous.
I looked up at the man-mountain standing in front of me. He had heavy calluses on his knuckles. The only way I knew to get calluses like that was from punching something hard over and over again. Did I want to go anywhere, for any reason, with this guy? I didn't think so. "I'm waiting for a friend. Please advise Dr. Maldonado that I'll be happy to meet with him at a more convenient time."
He stood there with a mildly bemused expression on his face and then handed me a second note. I was beginning to wonder if he was mute, possibly from repeated blows to the head.
|Sammy is here to assure your attendance. He will do whatever is
necessary. I encourage you to allow him to make your time with
him as pleasant as possible. Oh, and as an incentive, Paul is
here, so waiting there for him will do little good.
This was rapidly beginning to have all the makings of a bad gangster movie. I knew Carlton was not to be trusted, but this smacked of criminal intimidation, as I was willing to bet Paul would not be with Carlton, at least not willingly. I opened my mouth to tell tall, wide, and silent to get lost, but he already had something else in his hand.
It was his law school graduation ring. Paul was very proud of that ring. In one of the few instances of self-indulgence I had ever seen from Paul, he had designed it himself to include an emblem noting that he had graduated summa cum laude. He also never removed it, even in the shower, which meant that this no longer just "smacked" of anything; it was forcible kidnap. My shoulders fell as I grasped for ways to stall until I could think of something, so I asked for a few moments to get changed into something "more appropriate." I had clearly been underestimating Maldonado and needed time to think.
Fifteen minutes later, as I slid into the back seat of the car, I wondered just how far my ex-mentor and ex-boss -- there was no chance that there could now be any other than an "ex-" relationship -- was willing to go to attain his goals, whatever they might be. The absence of a human finger inside the ring was a positive, but the thorough frisk, the metal and plastic protective shield between the driver's seat and the passenger compartment and the absence of door handles or locking knobs answered that question.
I spent the ride to wherever we ended up -- the windows were more than tinted, they were painted black -- planning and preparing. To ensure the best chance in the event of a fight, I enhanced my hearing, vision, speed and strength to the maximum while retaining the familiar Dr. Georgette LaPierre exterior to insure that I appeared friendly, harmless -- and yes, desirable too. I was hedging as many bets as I could. I modified my voice to make it as friendly and sensuous as possible, enlarged my bust to the maximum comfortable within my dress and thinned my waist a bit. I also increased pheromone production, and finally, I stretched my legs a couple of inches but shortened my spine by an equal amount in order to assure that I was not looking down at Carlton. I wanted him to feel as assured and in control as possible in hopes that he would overestimate me.
Even when the car finally stopped, I still wasn't certain where we were as it had pulled into a parking garage and the garage door closed before the car door opened, dashing any hopes I had of getting a clue to where I was by seeing the exterior of the building or the surrounding street.
Like most garages, this one was dimly light and I quickly increased the number of rods in my eyes to facilitate low-light vision to that approaching a cat's. This helped as I could see a sign reserving a parking space for Dr. Carlton W. Maldonado, Director of Research and knew I was at the main offices of BioLogInc. Somehow, I had been expecting to find I was being taken to an office with fifty-year old furniture in some rat-infested warehouse. The fact that we were in the corporate headquarters seemed to suggest that maybe Maldonado was not that much the villain and mobster I had been anticipating.
Once I had been thoroughly frisked a second time, we took the elevator directly up to the top floor and Maldonado's office. I remember commenting to Paul that it was designed to intimidate, twenty by forty feet wide with a step up to the area around Maldonado's desk and another step up to his desk, which spoke volumes about his vanity and a few other personality characteristics. Behind his desk, with the chair back, his feet up and his hands comfortably entwined behind his head, sat Maldonado. I idly noted that his desk was completely barren of any indications of office equipment, files or even a telephone and the rather large wall hanging behind his desk that seemed at odds with the otherwise sterile environment. In the pit area nearest the entrance was a conference table covered with material that looked suspiciously like it was from my lab. Also, in the pit area, by the window wall, was a conversational grouping with some soft lounge chairs, the kind that you start sinking into and just keep sinking. In one of those chairs was Paul, flanked by Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee. They were obviously close relatives of Sammy, the man-mountain, who nodded amiably at them and then took a position directly in front of the door we had just come through. Once he had settled in there was only a small segment of door visible around his calves.
"Good evening Dr. LaPierre. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to join us. And may I note that you're looking especially radiant tonight." I knew he was a sarcastic bastard, but until that moment, I had not realized exactly how smarmy he could be. The urge to shudder was strong.
"As we both have limited amounts of time, I'll be brief." He was again the crisp businessman as he stood up and gestured for me to sit in one of the other chairs in the conversational grouping. I followed his lead, but mostly because I wanted to look at Paul. He had not really moved or said a word since I had arrived and I was worried.
"Your friend will probably be fine." In cheap detective movies, this is where they would note that the villain seemed to be reading my mind, but it was quite evident what I was thinking as I approached Paul and folded myself so my face was inches from his. "For now."
My response was, of course, "What the hell have you done to him you slime."
His response, equally well scripted, was, "Oh, nothing much. I've provided him with a moderately large dose of one of the stronger sedatives. In a few minutes we should begin to see the first symptoms of respiratory and cardiac collapse. He will shortly die, unless we can come to a deal."
"Deal?" I couldn't believe this piece of slime was talking business as he watched someone die. "I gather you tend towards the reform view of the Ten Commandments, 'It's not murder if you don't get caught.' How the hell can you expect me to make any deal I'll keep under this kind of duress?"
"Sadly," he gave me a wry grin, "along with being an annoying wise-ass, you also have a rather intuitive mind. There is no guarantee I can actually expect from you. Have a seat and watch."
"I don't think so," I growled and prepared to leap.
"Oh, I do." He slid into a soft chair beside Paul and pointed to the Tweedle brother by the door. Sammy was pointing a gun at me. "He's quite a good shot, especially from less than fifteen feet like now.
"I too am armed," he noted while patting a lump in his chest, "but I'm quite sure you won't make it necessary for me to use my weapon, will you Georgette?
"Can you stop us all before one of us kills you and/or Paul? Please. I'm actually rather interested and would like to see a demonstration."
"What kind of demonstration would you like?" I asked as I stood and slid beside Paul. I made a show of putting one hand on his shoulder and rubbing it nervously. The move also put me next to, and barely touching, the Tweedle furthest from everyone. He glanced down and leered at me while I braced myself so I would not flinch or shudder -- tempted as I was -- when his hand furtively moved to rub against my buttocks. I had cranked up the pheromone production as high as I dared without making the room reek for weeks to come, so I would have been even more annoyed if he hadn't made any move at all.
"I mean, are you expecting me to turn into a gorilla or something? What?" I slid behind Paul's chair and leaned down a bit to rub Paul's shoulders with both hands. This served several purposes. It allowed me to shake my hair and let it flow appealingly over my shoulders and point at my breasts. It also allowed Sammy a better view of them and the lacy bra I was wearing. Finally, it allowed the second Tweedle guarding Paul to move his hand over to my rump. With luck, it was only going to be a matter of time before one Tweedle's roving hand found the other Tweedle's and they hopefully got mad at each other.
"No, I think something simple like a change of hair color, a breast enlargement or a height change would be sufficient."
The height change would have been the most obvious way to get on Carlton's good side, assuming there was one. He'd probably love the idea of beautiful woman who was shorter than him. It would make him feel all the more a man -- a big man. Unfortunately, that would have made it impossible to maintain all the hidden musculature I had created for myself on the ride over. Instead, I chose hair. I made it shorter and darker, almost a crew cut like the lady who was hawking her diet book a while back, but still styled in a feminine manner. When the fighting started, there would be less chance of getting it pulled.
The rubbing stopped. Shit. I hadn't thought they would be that observant. I cranked the pheromone levels up again, deciding it was more important that worrying about the room reeking. Actually, I was chastising myself for caring about the condition of Maldonado's office considering what I was planning. I also, added a bit more wiggle to my butt as I rubbed Paul, just enough to insure that it would make contact with their hands again. Thank god for short memories and overactive glands; they were rubbing again.
The increased pheromone production had another benefit. Sammy had wiped some drool of his chin and taken a silent, sliding step closer to us. I gave a silent cheer, as I needed him to be as close as possible for this to come off. Next, I pumped up my breasts just a bit more and moved the nipple a bit higher so that it was visible above the edge of my bra. By increasing the sped with which I rubbed Paul's back, I was able to increase the jiggle factor and he moved another two steps closer.
I had been ignoring Carlton the last few moments. Luckily, he was apparently caught up in his own thoughts, probably deciding how to make the most of my discovery. I wondered if he realized what I was trying to accomplish, but regardless, it was time for a distraction, "So what do I need to do to save Paul?"
"Why, merely walk over to the telephone by my desk and call 911, then provide CPR until they arrive."
"Since I assume you will not be allowing me to do that until you have something, why don't we stop playing these games? What do you want from me?"
"Actually, nothing any more. I have your research. I have your samples. Now I have the proof that it works thanks to you little demonstration." He stood up and strode decisively to the table with my life's work on it. He spoke with out turning back to me as he did something I could not quite make out, but the scent of lighter fluid suddenly became more overpowering then the combined body odor of three Tweedles. "I've already made copies of the relevant material and this job is no longer necessary to my plans. I will miss you LaPierre. You are a damned boy scout and you would surely interfere with my plans for a new world order, but as I have noted, you do have an intuitive mind. Oh well, qué sera, sera."
When he did turn around, he had a syringe in his hand. "I'm certain you can guess what this is, your wonderful formula." With that, he injected himself.
I knew I would not be getting a better chance. Carlton's hands were full and the Tweedle family was in deep lust. Feigning moral indignation for his too free hands, I screeched and spun on the middle Tweedle and yelled "Fresh!" as I slapped him -- hard enough to break his jaw. Continuing my spin, I grabbed the far Tweedle and kicked him in the family jewels hard enough to fracture his coccyx before hoisting him backwards over my shoulder and sending him flying over Paul's chair into Sammy with me flying right behind him.
Broken jaw was on the floor moaning behind Paul's chair, out of the action, at least for the moment. Mr. Crushed Cojónes was a dead weight on top of Sammy, who had not dropped his gun as I had hoped, but who was struggling to move Cojónes so he could get off a clean shot. I was on top of them both before he could get off any shot, clean or dirty. With a loud crunch of broken bone, the gun was in my hand and someone below me was screaming.
A fast roll and I had the gun aimed at Carlton, or at least where Carlton had been. Instead, I was nearly blinded by the brightness of the yellow flames engulfing my life's work. I was shocked into paralysis and that is when I heard it, the soft popping sound of a bullet. Maldonado was shooting at me.
It took precious microseconds to locate him, by his desk of all places, and he was able to get off a second shot before I emptied my pistol in his direction.
It would have been nice to be able to say that I was a crack shot, but I was not. I had been hunting with Paul and our fathers as a youngster and knew enough to point the damn thing and pull the trigger, hoping the safety was off. Nevertheless, I had not shot a gun in twenty years and I had not been that good even then. Besides, even veteran cops will tell you that in the heat of a firefight, aim is the last thing you are thinking about. When I opened my eyes, I could see a cluster of bullet holes in and around the desk, but no Carlton.
A quick glance back at the conference table with my research burning like some damn Boy Scout bonfire was enough to tell me that it was a lost cause. I knocked Sammy and his clone on the head just hard enough to make sure they would be sleeping for a while and turned to Paul and the last Tweedle. That is when I saw the blood.
Knowing that there is about the same amount of blood in the human body as the oil pan of a car does not prepare you for the shock of bright red flowing down the side of a white shirt. I followed the red upward as I traced it back to the source. There was a steady flow of blood gushing from a small hole in Paul's left eye.
With a smothered whimper, I leaped back to Paul, only to find what I suspected but prayed would not be. There was a large, gaping hole in the back of my best friend's head. No more would we trade barbs and think up jokes to tease each other. No more would we eat, or play, or study, or be sick together. No more would we be there to help each other. No more no more no more.
I knelt beside Paul's chair and cradled my best friend in my arms as the last of his blood dribbled out, mixing with my tears. Broken jaw groaned and tried to move so I kicked him, possibly too hard as he stopped moving altogether. The building's smoke detectors finally realized that something was burning and the sprinkler system released a deluge that covered us all, turning Paul's blood a pathetic pink. I do not know how long we stayed there. That is how security found us.