Jarod meets a new Pretender, whose impact on his life will be greater than he could imagine.
Timeline: After Bloodlines
Categories: Season 2 Characters:
Broots, Jarod, Kyle, Miss Parker, Original Character, Other Centre Character, Sydney
1. Part 1 by KB
2. Part 2: Shadows of the Past by KB
3. Part 3: The Final Say by KB
Although the individual story ideas are mine, the characters are not and nor is the central concept of The Pretender. They belong to TNT, MTM and NBC productions, as well as the fertile imaginations of Craig Mitchell and Steven Van Sickle. A New Pretender
Original characters are mine and I would beg you not to use them without my permission.
Open to hear Jarod's computer alerting him to the fact that he has e-mail. The screen reads as follows:
"Refuge. More secrets about your past. Ticket in the mail. Sydney. PS. Don't get in touch just now. Too dangerous."
Cut to Sydney's office where we can see him working on a computer. A message comes up alerting him to the new message that he, too, has just receive. The screen reads as follows:
"Refuge. I have to meet you. Ticket in the mail. Jarod. PS. Don't get in touch right now. Too busy"
We see Jarod at an airport with a ticket in his hand and a puzzled expression on his face. He looks down, reads notes on a piece of paper and follows a sign which directs him to a taxi rank. Panning back, we see another sign, reading "Welcome to Australia". At the taxi rank we see him enter a cab and give directions to the driver (we cannot hear where he is going).
As the taxi drives away, we see a girl in her early thirties, with dark brown hair and brown eyes. She looks down at a photo in her hand and follows the taxi with her eyes before giving a satisfied nod. She tears the photo in two and, dropping the two halves onto the ground, gets into another taxi which appears to have been waiting for her because it takes off without us having noticed her saying anything. We zoom in on the photo, which turns out to be one of Jarod sitting at a table, obviously in the middle of a SIM. Along the bottom of the photo are the words "For Centre Use Only."
The Next Day.
We see Sydney in exactly the same situation. Same expressions, same sign, same taxi and same girl except that this time she stays well away from the taxi rank and, instead of also getting into a taxi, she actually gets into a car and drives off.
The same day, Jarod's hotel room.
We see Jarod in his room with a package in his hands. He opens it eagerly but, in his eagerness, drops it
onto the floor. A photo falls out. It is that of Margaret, his mother. Jarod sits, shocked, before eagerly scooping the package up off the floor and dumping its contents on his bed.
Jarod is arriving at his new job as a night watchman at a factory. Jarod is introduced by his supervisor, David, to Michael, his co-worker.
David: [mock seriously] Guys, I want to know if anyone so much as dreams about walking into this place, got it?!
Jarod: [confused] Are we night watchmen or psychics?
David: [laughing but still serious] She never said that you were amusing as well.
David leaves, yawning widely.
Michael: First thing's first. Let's have a drink.
Jarod: [worried] Shouldn't we look around and check first?
Michael: [laughing] Calm down mate. We've got all night...
In Sydney's hotel room
Sydney: [aloud] Well, if Jarod didn't send me here, then who on earth did?
Sydney's mobile phone rings
Sydney: This is Sydney
Miss Parker: [sharply] Syd, I just got your message. What in hell is going on?
Sydney: [softly] I wish I knew...
Miss Parker: What do you mean? I get a message saying that you've heard from Jarod, that he asked you to come wherever...that reminds me, where are you, exactly?
Sydney: [calmly confident that for the first time in her life, Miss Parker is actually going to feel something, if only shock] Australia!
Miss Parker: [who has nearly fallen off her chair, which we can tell from the strained tone in her voice] Australia???
Sydney: [patiently] Yes, you know. The country where kangaroos and koala bears come from...You do know what a kangaroo is, don't you Parker?
Miss Parker: [sarcastically] Oh, ha ha! [rapidly recovering from her shock] So have you located Boy Wonder yet, or are you training these kangaroos of yours to become Pretenders too?
Sydney: [ignoring what he rightly perceives to be a rhetorical question] Actually, Jarod wasn't the one who sent me here at all...
Miss Parker: What!!!
Sydney: No. So that means he could be anywhere....
Miss Parker: [following his train of thought] Even here...
Somewhere else, not far away actually
Michael: So what do want to do now?
Jarod: Well, I haven't seen any of your beaches yet and I've heard they're pretty famous.
Michael: OK, let's go...
In a car, driving along a coast road
Michael: [shouting above the noise of his convertible] So, what do you reckon?
Jarod: [as the car pulls into a side street] It's beautiful! [indicating the calm waters of the bay] Is that where people surf?
Michael: Dave was right, you are funny. [They walk from the car down onto the sand] No mate, you wouldn't even get a board moving out there without a sail attached. Hey, there's Kat [spotting a dark-haired girl sitting on the sand with her back to the camera]. Come on over and be introduced! Hey, Kat!!
As she turns, we see that it is the girl from the airport but, looking at Jarod, we realise that he does not appear to recognise her.
Katrina: Michael, hi. Come down to catch some rays? [her voice dripping with sarcasm] That's so unlike you!!!
Michael: [grinning] Very funny. Meet a friend of mine. Jarod, this is Katrina McCarthy, Kat, this is a new workmate, Jarod Torche. He's keeping me safe on the night shift. [We see that Jarod is somewhat attracted to this new female acquaintance]
Katrina: [laughing] You mean, he keeps his eyes open while you take a break that lasts all night! I don't know how Dave hasn't cottoned onto you yet. Maybe I should slip a hint to him when I see him tonight! [We see Jarod's face fall slightly at this, but neither Katrina or Michael seem to notice] We're discussing employee prospects at the board get-together.
Michael: [turning to Jarod] This is the person you have to grovel to if you want a raise. She's good friends with the boss's wife and has a permanent place on the board. [Jarod looks immensely relieved]
Katrina: [brightly] I was just about to head home. Want to come? It's actually tidy right now!
Michael: [laughing] When isn't it? You're about the tidiest person I know!!
The three of them head up the street and go into a house about fifty metres from the beach. Katrina pours them drinks and they laugh and joke around on the patio at the rear of the house, which looks out onto a small inground pool. After what we assume to be several hours of conversation and laughing Katrina begins to look a little tired and Michael suggests they leave. Katrina goes out with them and we see that his car is parked just outside her house. They both get into the car and Katrina goes back inside.
Sydney's room [at a different hotel from Jarod's]
Sydney has received a package in the mail. Opening it, he finds it contains photos of him and his family, shortly before they were sent to concentration camp. There is also one of Sydney and Jacob just prior to the accident. There are standing with their arms around each other and grinning at the camera.
In Michael's car
They drive to Jarod's hotel and Jarod, who wants to know more about this person in whom he's becoming very interested, invites Michael in. They sit down on a couch in one of the three rooms - bedroom, sitting room and bathroom - that constitute Jarod's apartment and pour themselves drinks from bottles sitting on the table.
Jarod: [attempting to speak casually] So, how do you know Katrina?
Michael: Who? Oh, sorry, it's just that it's been so long since I heard anyone refer to her as Kat, except in introductions, that I've forgotten what it sounds like. We went to school together and we've been friends for years.
Jarod: Does she live on her own?
Michael: [who's beginning to realise that Jarod is vaguely interested in Katrina] Yeah, her parents were killed about six years ago, when she was 27. Right now, she's battling cancer, which is why she looked so tired. Before that she was...actually, I don't know exactly what she did. She spent a few years in the US, a few in Europe. I think she works in various Australian embassies around the world giving out visas and stuff, but I'm not sure. Anyway, now she just runs around doing what she can for people, like their washing and stuff. Work that doesn't have a definite deadline, in case she gets sick and can't finish it. [looking at his watch] Look mate, I'm sorry but I've got to go. I've got to pick up the kids from school [we see a clock in the background - its 3:30pm]. Anyway, I'll see you at work tonight. Bye.
Jarod waits until he drives away and then gets his keys and gets into a lift. We see it going down to the basement.
She is curled up in front of the television. If possible, she looks worse than she did before. When the doorbell rings, she heaves a huge sigh before turning the t.v. off and going to the door. Looking through the security hole, we see Jarod standing awkwardly on the doorstep. Katrina straightens up, forces a smile and opens the door.
Katrina: [brightly] Hi! Jarod, isn't it?
Jarod: Yeah, sorry to disturb you but I seem to have left my wallet here. Can I come in?
Katrina: Sure. [lets him in and then shuts the door] This way.
They come into the room where Katrina had been watching t.v. and we see Jarod's wallet lying on the table.
Katrina: [laughing] I wondered if you were coming back for it. Can I get you a drink?
Jarod: [slowly] Well, I only came to get my wallet [he can't resist] but, sure. OK
Katrina goes to the kitchen brings over a tray with a can of Dr Pepper and one of Diet Coke, as well as two glasses
Katrina: Here, pick.
Jarod: [taking the Dr Pepper] How did you guess?
Katrina: [smiling] I didn't have much choice. It's all I've got. Michael loves Dr Pepper too. I think all his friends have stocks of it in their fridges. I personally can't stand the stuff, but there you go...
Jarod: [smiling back] Lucky I like it then.
Katrina: Oh, it's not far to the fridge [but in her present state of agony we see that she thinks it would be a very long way indeed] and I could have swapped it for something else.
Sydney's hotel room
Sydney: [on the cordless phone in his room] Parker, I still have no idea who sent that mail. Has Broots run a trace yet?
Miss Parker: [impatiently] Three, but they’re all going through about thirty stations, including mine, Raines' and Broots'. It'll take hours to work it out properly and even then it could be from a library or a school!
Sydney: [worriedly] I think you guys should get here as soon as possible. Jarod’s had something to do with this, I can just feel it!!
Katrina's house about an hour later
Jarod is going down the hall when he hears a thud from behind him. He spins around and races back to the room he had just left, only to find Katrina lying, unconscious, on the floor. He checks that she is breathing and tries to make her more comfortable before picking up the phone and calling the paramedics.
Outside Katrina's house, about a quarter of an hour later.
A stretcher is being lifted out of the house and down the stairs, with Katrina on it and Jarod walking beside her. He locks the house and puts the key into his pocket, before getting into the ambulance, beside the driver.
At the hospital
Katrina is being settled into a bed by two of the nurses who seem to know her very well. They tease her as she settles against the pillows.
Julia: [laughing] So, bored at home again huh?
Michelle: [smiling] Or was it just that you missed our smiling faces?
Katrina: [smiling back] Oh, both, naturally! Actually, I just missed the taste of the wonderfully nutritious and tasty stuff that they call hospital food. It was a toss up between that and plane food and, well, this was just so much more effective way of gaining entry...
Her teasing comments are interrupted by a burst of coughing and the nurse grabs a bowl which she holds under Katrina's chin. A dribble of blood appears.
Julia: I'll call Dr Harrison!
Both nurses leave.
Katrina: [softly] Jarod?
Jarod comes and sits beside the bed. He takes her hand.
Jarod: [quietly] What caused that? Apart from the attention-seeking bit, I mean.
Katrina: [curiously] How much did Michael tell you about me? Did he tell you what's wrong with me?
Jarod: [softly] Vaguely...
Katrina: [looking out the window] I don't tell people even half of what I'm about to tell you. Even Michael doesn't know half of this. About eight years ago, when I was working an the Australian Embassy in Bonn, Germany, I got sick. On the insistence of my boss I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with leukemia. I started chemotherapy but, just as they thought I was about to achieve remission, they discovered cancerous cells in my bone marrow as well. To cut a very long story very short, I flew back to Australia and, by the time I got home and had sorted out various problems that appeared at the time, they began to find tumours in my lungs and on my brain. That's probably what caused the fainting fit. Either that [a teasing note entered her voice] or I was just devastated that you were leaving. Seriously, I wouldn't tell people that but, considering what you've done, I think you deserve to know something. However I'd rather you didn't tell anyone, not even Michael, at this stage.
Jarod: [solemnly] You have my word.
The door opens and a tall, graying man comes in, wearing a worried expression and carrying a folder of x-rays and test results.
Harrison: Well Katrina, here again.
Katrina: [smiling] Not really by choice but I figured that it was almost time for the next round of tests and thought I could get in ahead of you again. Dr Harrison, this is Jarod, a friend of mine. [Jarod smiles slightly]
Harrison: I've got the results of the tests we just did. I hurried them through because they're pretty serious. Katrina, we're running out of time.
Katrina: [looking out of the window, with a sigh] I know. But where on earth are we supposed to find one man, who isn't even on this continent?!
Jarod: [looking somewhat, understandably, confused] I hate to interrupt but too late for what? And who?
Katrina: [explaining to him] The tumors, both on my brain and in my lungs are pretty far advanced. However, there was one doctor that we heard about that had had miraculous success at removing these sorts of things.
Harrison: [patiently] He was an American surgeon and his name was Jarod Morrison. But he suddenly disappeared, just as we were on the verge of getting him to fly over here. There were, at that time, several other people in Katrina's position. Unfortunately all except Katrina have since died, however we can continue live in hope that he will one day reappear and that we can get him here.
We see Jarod's face as he relives the time when, as Jarod Morrison, he had had such wonderful success with that very thing and we see his face work as he struggles with the difficulty - does he reveal himself now, operate on Katrina and then be discovered by the Centre and taken back? His rule had always been never to repeat a Pretend - it made him too easy to catch! Or did he simply sit and watch Katrina die because of his cowardice? A third option, to simply finish the problem which was developing at the hospital where he and Michael worked and then walk away was simply unthinkable. He was too closely involved.
Dr Harrison puts up chart after chart, showing the growth of the tumours in Katrina's lungs and also the development of some on various parts of her brain.
Harrison: [Explaining to Jarod] None are big enough yet to cause more than brief blackouts, but, given time, would eventually destroy her brain functions, provided the lung tumors, or other tumors which haven't yet developed, such as some in her heart or liver, don't kill her first.
As Dr Harrison is preparing to leave, Katrina notices the time and warns Jarod that he has very little time to get to work. When he leaves, she gives Dr Harrison a phone number and asks him to telephone the person at that number and ask him to come and visit her. The name on the paper is only just legible - SYDNEY.
The hospital about two hours later
Sydney walks along the hallway, stopping to check room numbers with that written on a piece of paper which he holds in his hand. Stopping at a door he taps gently on it and enters.
Katrina: [pleased that he came] Sydney!
Sydney: [shocked] Katrina! What are you doing here? Are you the one who wanted to see me?
Katrina: [smiling] Yeah. I heard that you were in Australia and now, with heaps of time on my hands, I thought I'd get in touch.
Sydney: I haven't seen you since you were working with us! It would be about seven years ago now, I suppose.
Katrina: [indicating a chair] Seven, almost to the day, since I started. Have a seat.
At the same time, in Jarod's hotel room
Jarod paces up and down, trying to decide what to do. Should he operate? The moment he declared his identity, he knew that the news must reach the Centre. If Australia had found out about him then it must be relatively simple for the Centre to do so. They, after all, had more to go on. But if he didn't operate, then she would die. That thought was as impossible to him as that of being returned to the Centre. And yet, could he watch her die, knowing that he could have saved her life? He could stay with her and watch her die or be torn from her, knowing that she would live, perhaps longer than himself. After several hours he has finally decided. His head goes up and he nods slightly. Yes, he has to, for her sake...
Several hours later, outside Katrina's room
Jarod stood in the hall, still determined. Dr Harrison was examining her and he must wait, but, while he does so, he looks around the wing in which they had put her. So many people that he could help, whose lives he could turn around, if he was given the chance and time. He comes out of his reverie to find the nurse called Julia standing at his elbow.
Julia: Dr Harrison is finished now. You can go in.
Jarod stands in the doorway, with a determined light in his eye which Katrina picks up on immediately.
Katrina: Hi...what on earth is wrong with you? You look like you just won Lotto! Sit down, for goodness sake, before you fall down!
Jarod: [as he sits] This is something money can't buy. Katrina, last time I was here you mentioned Dr Jarod Morrison. Well, that's me! [he sits back, waiting for her reaction]
Katrina: [quietly] I know...
Katrina: Dr Harrison just showed me the photos. We were hoping you would admit to it before this!
Jarod: But, I can do the operation...today! As of tomorrow, you'll have everything, your whole... [she puts a finger on his lips to stop him, knowing what he is going to say]
Katrina: You can't...
Jarod: [bouncing to his feet] Try and stop me!
Katrina: [shaking her head] No, I don't mean can't, I mean that it's too late now, it wouldn't do any good and I probably wouldn't survive the op. When Dr Harrison and I said that time was running out, we meant that. There was only a matter of hours left and, now, its too late. When Dr Harrison met you yesterday, he recognized you pretty quickly but he wouldn't say anything, knowing that there must have been a reason for you to disappear like you did; knowing that to push you into doing the op was the quickest way of having you disappear again. He would never push somebody to do something they didn't want to. But he brought the photo of you today to show me. [there is a short pause. Jarod is beyond speaking and Katrina is nervous about what she wants to say] Jarod, I have a lot to thank you for. If you hadn't been there before, I may well not have survived. You remember the things they had to do to bring me back in the ambulance. But I would like, and I think this is kind of natural, to know something about you. You don't have to tell me if you don't want to, but I would like to know...[she trails off, wondering what his reaction will be]
Jarod: [after fighting within himself for a moment] You probably won't believe me, but here goes...
In Sydney's hotel room
Miss Parker: Well, do we think he's here or not?
Sydney: I don't know about him but someone knows our code and the only people who do are myself, Jarod...
Miss Parker: Lyle too. Remember when he got Jarod into the Arizona desert and tried to kill him?
Sydney: [finishing what he was saying]...and Angelo. Lyle is definitely dead, we know that!
Miss Parker: Can we be certain this time?
Sydney: [ignoring this] So who did send it? If only Pretenders know that - and we know they do - then...
Miss Parker: [understanding his train of thought] We've got a new Pretender on our hands...
Harrison: [shaking her hand] Well, Katrina, I think we can let you go this time.
Katrina: Thanks Doctor Harrison. I suppose I'll be seeing you fairly soon?
Harrison: [sadly] Well, you know as well as I do that we can't control these faints. It's only a matter of time... [seeing Jarod appear in the doorway] And now here's you taxi driver.
Jarod strides to the bed and picks up Katrina, who is fully dressed, and places her in the wheelchair which is standing beside the bed.
Katrina: [somewhat annoyed and embarrassed] I could have done that myself!
Jarod: [in tones of open amusement] Well, Miss Independence, and I suppose you're also capable of walking down the six flights of stairs to the car?
Katrina: [laughing but well aware that she is capable of no such thing] Well...maybe not...
She gives him a look, as she settles herself into the chair, which shows just how material a change her feelings towards him have undergone in the previous few days.
Several days later - Sydney's hotel room
Miss Parker: [brightly] Syd, we've got him!
Sydney: Who? Jarod??
Miss Parker: [in heavily sarcastic tones] No! Raines, despite the fact that he's dead! -- Of course Jarod. Willie spotted him driving into the parking lot of an apartment building a few blocks from here, wearing the uniform of a security guard.
Sydney: That means he'll have a gun...
Miss Parker: He won't be the only one...[producing one]
Sydney: [puzzled] How on earth did you get that through customs?
Katrina's room with Jarod's voice as VO
Jarod: Come on, darn you. Answer. [Katrina picks up the phone] Kat, I've got a problem. Can you get...[the phone goes dead]
Katrina quickly presses a button on the phone which keeps the call connected, as well as plugging it into the modem which is attached to her laptop computer. She is able to rapidly connect to the hotel's security system and access the room she wants. On the screen we see Jarod confronted by Miss Parker, holding a gun at his head as Willie puts him in handcuffs. The handcuffs cause a small cut on Jarod's ankle to begin bleeding. Willie, obeying Miss Parker's unspoken order, leaves the room, disgustedly wiping the blood from his hands onto his pants. On another of the four pictures on the screen and show vantage points of various areas of the hotel, we see him taking up a position in the hall.
Katrina, meanwhile is donning a security guard uniform similar to the one Jarod is wearing, except that a badge on the front shows that it is for the hotel where Jarod is staying. She checks that the two guns in the holsters are loaded and then she leaves the room. We hear a car start. We continue to view the action through the computer screen and we can hear what is going on through the phone.
Jarod's hotel, hallway.
Katrina, aware that Jarod's room in soundproof and that the occupants cannot hear what is going on in the hallway, has collected the other members of the security group, all of whom treat Katrina as their chief. She gradually arrests the various sweepers that are surrounding the hotel, seemingly aware of their actions and able to beat them at their own game. Meanwhile, in Jarod's room, we see Miss Parker filling a syringe with fluid. Sydney, concerned, asks what she is doing and Miss Parker tells him that this will keep "Boy Wonder" quiet on the flight home. But not to worry, as she has Tower authorization to do this.
As she finishes injecting Jarod, who rapidly slumps back onto the couch, we see dark shadows behind the curtains of several windows, particularly those of the bedroom and bathroom. One opens a window, which creaks loudly. Sydney, Miss Parker and Broots turn towards the door, Miss Parker aiming her gun into the room. Behind her the door to the apartment slowly and silently swings open and a figure in uniform enters, however the person stays in the shadows. The first that Miss Parker knows of this new intruder is when she feels the barrel of a gun against her neck. Sydney and Broots turn in shock as a female voice demands that she drop her weapon.
Miss Parker: [without loosening her hold on her gun] I hate to mention this but you're sort of outnumbered
The figure holding Miss Parker gives a shrill whistle and instantly the room is full of security guards, all with weapons drawn. The first figure moves slowly into the light.
Katrina: [vindictively] I'd say we just about evened the score, wouldn't you?
Sydney: [shocked] Katrina?!
Katrina: [mock seriously] Sorry Sydney, but this is what I do! Oh, by the way, I was released from hospital yesterday. [Sydney begins to look somewhat amused]
Miss Parker is handcuffed, her gun is snatched away and she is held by three men. Broots and Sydney are also held. Katrina turns immediately to Jarod, who has appeared to notice nothing and is still half-slumped in the corner of the couch. Katrina notices the small vial on the table where Miss Parker had dropped it when the sound of the window distracted her, and snatches it up. She reads the name and turns, with a bitter smile curling her lips.
Katrina: I hate to tell you Miss Parker, but this is a banned substance in Australia, as is the weapon you aimed at Jarod just now. You're under arrest, as is the younger man. [she turns to him and he gasps in recognition] Mr...Broots, isn't it?! Let the older man go. I'll need his help and he isn't as dangerous as the other two. [Sydney is released and Broots is handcuffed]
Miss Parker: I don't think you have the authorization to do that! Aren't you a psychologist?
Katrina: [with open contempt in her voice] Oh no, I think you're mistaking me for someone else! Take them away!
Sydney hurries to Katrina's side as the others are led out of the building and into waiting police cars.
Sydney: What are you? And who are you?
Katrina: I'll tell you later. Right now, help me get him into my car. We'll take him to my place
Sydney looks at her with a queer smile on his lips
Sydney: [sarcastically] So now you're a doctor...
Katrina: [absent-mindedly] I am today...
Katrina's house in a guest bedroom with an ensuite.
Jarod, now fully unconscious, is laid on a bed and Katrina dismisses the men who have helped get him there. One protests,
Jamie: [concerned] But, Miss Robinson, shouldn't we take him to a doctor? [Sydney looks mystified at the strange surname]
Katrina: [firmly] No, he'll be fine here. Thank you for your help.
Sydney's eyes widen as they salute her and march out of the room. We hear a car start up and drive off.
Katrina: [on her knees beside Jarod's bed and rapidly assessing his condition; without looking around] Syd, open the second drawer and bring me the vial and syringe you'll find there. I also need one of the tablets from the blue box and a glass of water.
Sydney fetches what she asks for, places it on the table beside the bed and watches. In the meantime Katrina has loosened Jarod's collar and takes off his shoes, socks and belt. She unwraps one of the tablets and drops it into the glass of water, where it fizzes and dissolves rapidly. She then fills the syringe from the vial and injects Jarod with the contents.
Katrina: [still without looking up] Stand somewhere he can't see you. His heart wouldn't be able to stand a shock like that and I don't have the equipment here to help him with a cardiac problem. [Sydney moves to a place where he can see everything but not be seen]
Within a few seconds Jarod groggily opens his eyes. While he is looking at her, she puts the glass (which has stopped fizzing and looks exactly like water) to his lips, supporting his head with her other hand. He smiles at her as he drains the glass. His eyelids fall and he relaxes. She gently lowers his head and covers him with the blankets which lie, folded, on the end of the bed. She then rises from her knees and dusts herself off.
Sydney: [rushing in concern to Jarod] What have you done?!?!
Katrina: [patiently] Tried to reverse the drug Miss Parker gave him. It's banned here in Australia because it's been found to cause the heart to become very stressed and even a short period of being exposed to it can cause permanent damage. My treatment is the only one to have been found to be even vaguely helpful. I had to wake him from the stupor and then sedate him to try and relax the heart. [allowing a teasing tone to creep into her voice] After all, you wouldn't want to hear that your prize Pretender had died of an aneurysm, now, would you?
Sydney: [looking at her] Come on now, tell me who you are!
Katrina: [smiling] OK, we can leave Sleeping Beauty here for a few hours before he needs the next dose. [leaving the room]
Sydney: [curiously] How long does he need to stay like that?
Katrina: [over her shoulder as she enters the kitchen] At least a few days...
Sydney: So, if you're not really a psychologist, nor a doctor or a security guard, then what are you?
Katrina: [laughing] Surely Syd, you're the one to tell me that!
Sydney: [amazed] You're a Pretender?
Katrina: [smiling at him] Of course.
Sydney: [curiously] So you're the one...
Katrina: [she nodded] I'm the one who sent you that email, yes. I couldn't take the risk of coming back to Delaware. I've seen what happens when a person tries to escape the Centre. I was there when Jarod almost met his parents. And I was there when Kyle was killed. I had to find other people who were the same as me and, when I came to the Centre, I knew I'd found the place. So I got a job working under Raines and quickly got myself allocated to the Pretender program and the search for Jarod and Kyle. That's how I met you, Miss Parker and Broots. I'm also the reason that Jarod is here, but I didn't send for Miss Parker and Broots or the rest of the sweeper gang. That, of course, you did but never mind - they won't be here long.
Sydney: [looking concerned] What are you going to do to them?
Katrina: Well, not kill them so you can take the worried look off your face. Not, I'll simply get them extradited. That'll keep them out of the way for a while. Just long enough, anyway, for you to learn why I want you here and say goodbye.
Sydney: What...? Say goodbye...?
Katrina: Here, read these [handing him four pieces of paper]. Two are birth certificates, one is an adoption certificate and one is a medical certificate.
Sydney: [looking at the first birth certificate] But, these are my parents! Who is this person? Why haven't I heard of him before?
Katrina: [looking at him] That's your older brother. He was born before your parents got married and was, of necessity, put up for adoption. Perhaps the subject was too painful for you parents to tell you, or maybe they were too embarrassed. I don't know. But, as the second certificate shows, this person is also my father. Consequently...
Sydney: I'm your uncle?
Katrina: Bingo! As for the other, that's just to let you know for how long you'll have a niece and why I wanted you here now. [Sydney is silent] I wanted to get to know you before I died. Jarod, too, because he is so like me!
Sydney: But if you're a Pretender too, does that mean...
Katrina: That Jarod is a blood relation of yours? No, I explored that alley.
Sydney: [sadly] I wish Jacob could have known this...
Katrina: [quietly] He did. I found a note after he died that said he had always known who I was and he wished he could have got in touch with me. He wrote it just prior to the accident and sent it to my father. I found it just after my father was killed. Just a minute... [Katrina goes and gets her laptop, which is beeping. She disconnects the phone and taps into the criminal records account at the prison where the police are holding the Centre personnel. She adds a few more small, drug-related offences to their accounts as Sydney watches, open-mouthed. She then puts in an official suggestion that the seven people be extradited, with no chance of return for at least two years]
Sydney: [confused] Can you do that?
Katrina: [laughing] I can do anything I want. [teasingly] I'm a Pretender, remember?! Can you stay for a while? I want to get to know you as my uncle, not just my boss!
Miss Parker has just been strip-searched and several more vials of the drug have been found and confiscated. Fuming at what has been done to her, Miss Parker is led to a cell. We see the process repeated on several of the sweepers, however Broots is spared the embarrassment.
Two days later at Katrina's house
Jarod is now propped up against several pillows and is dressed in plain pajamas. He is still unconscious but, as Katrina approaches the bed with a glass in her hand, he stirs. His eyes flicker open and come to rest on her. However so blurred is his vision that, instead of seeing Katrina, he sees
Jarod: Kyle! [he struggles against the sedation which has left him too weak to move properly]
Katrina: [as she puts the glass down on the bedside table, sits on the edge of the bed and prevents him from moving] No, Jarod. It's not Kyle. It's me, Katrina. I'm sorry.
As he relaxes, having realized that it is not Kyle, she puts the glass to his lips. As he drinks the liquid, we watch her face, full of concern and affection. Slowly the sedative takes effect. She rises from beside the bed and, bending, gently kisses him once on the forehead and again on the mouth. Then, without looking back, she leaves the room.
A court room
We see Miss Parker, Broots and the others brought in. They are handcuffed and have to be jerked to their feet by several of the guards when the judge enters. As she sits, we look around the courtroom. Slowly we focus in on one face at the back. It is Katrina...
A week later, Katrina's house
We see a small article, circled in red, which announces the extradition of Miss Parker, Broots and the others. We see Katrina sitting on the edge of Jarod's bed. He is still unconscious. An empty glass sits beside his bed and Katrina is monitoring his pulse. Sydney enter, carrying a tray which contains another glass full of water. The room is only dimly lit and contains many of the possessions which had been in Jarod's hotel room. We can recognise the suitcases from the airport.
Katrina: Syd, stay out of sight for a few minutes. He's slowly coming round. Keep an ear open, though. I want him to see you before he can jump up and escape.
Sydney: Will he remember any of this?
Katrina: God I hope not - for his sake...
Sydney withdraws, just as Jarod's eyelids flutter and he moves his head slightly on the pillow. He moans.
Katrina: [quietly] Jarod? [more insistently] Jarod, come on. Time to wake up now. [She shakes him gently] Come on Jarod, open your eyes.
Jarod moans again and slowly complies. His eyes rove around the room before coming to rest on Katrina. Recognition gradually dawns and he slowly smiles. He swallows and licks his lips. Katrina holds the water to his mouth and he slowly gulps it down, keeping his eyes trained on her.
Jarod: [beginning to wake up] What's going on? [stronger and trying to sit up] What on earth am I doing here?
Katrina: [gently, calmly] Shh, it's all right. You're quite safe. [she gently pushes him back onto the pillow] Just lie still. [he relaxes against the pillow]
Jarod: What's going on?
Katrina: [quietly] You just had a little accident.
Sydney slowly enters the room, but Jarod doesn't notice
Sydney: [smiling] She saved your life.
Jarod stares up at him for a moment before struggling to get out of bed and escape.
Katrina: [exasperated] Oh for goodness sake! [She pushes him back against the pillow again but he struggles to get away] Jarod, stop! [He complies] Sydney is here alone. No one else associated with the Centre is here and, as I said before, you're quite safe. Syd is not going to take you anywhere. He is here for a totally different reason. Now lie still or I'll have to sedate you again!
Jarod stops and stares up at her as she gets up to refill the glass, but she doesn't notice. He turns to Sydney and sees that he is leaning against the doorway and smiling gently at him.
Sydney: [laughing] She's right, you know. I have no intention right now of returning you to the Centre. In fact I've promised not to for the rest of my niece's life!
Jarod: [confused] Your...niece?
Sydney: [lightly] So it appears!
Katrina returns with a full glass and makes Jarod drain it. Then she leans him forward and takes away several of the pillows from behind his head so that he is lying down.
Katrina: [patiently] You need to rest now [we can see that Jarod is becoming gradually drowsy as the shocks he has received begin to take their toll]. Have to obey doctors orders, you know! Syd, grab the glasses and lets leave the patient alone.
Sydney and Katrina leave the room, turning off the light and shutting the door behind them. Looking at Jarod, we can see that he is already asleep.
The Centre, Blue Cove, Delaware
Miss Parker: [angrily] Damn it, Broots. Override the damned order or something! There's two Pretenders in that hole of a country and I want both of them here!
Broots: [patiently] I've already told you several times, there is no way I can override that order...
Miss Parker: Then book us new tickets, under different names
Broots: [shaking his head] That won't work either. They won't allow the passport photos through. I've tried.
Miss Parker: [slamming both fists on the consul] Then call Sydney and find out what the hell is going on! I want to know everything - now!
Broots: Another no-no. Our calls are blocked to both Syd's phone and the one at the hotel. In fact, calls from anywhere - and that includes my house - are all being blocked somehow. The only person I know who could manage that would have to be Jarod - unless Katrina succeeded in learning the tricks of the trade too.
Miss Parker: [impatiently] Oh for God's sake Broots. She's a Pretender too. She has to be. Of course she knows how to do all that stuff. I just hate the fact that the bitch "pretended" to be psychiatrist here. Why, she'd know everything about the set-up of the Centre better that our Boy Wonder himself...
Several weeks later at Katrina's house
Jarod is looking decidedly better than he had been previously. Katrina, on the other hand, has gradually begun to look worse and has been in and out of hospital several times. However her condition is worsening so gradually that those who care for her most - Jarod and Sydney - have not fully realized what it meant. Sydney is much the same. They are sitting in the garden of Katrina's house, reveling in the sunshine.
Jarod: [amazed] Do you know, I still find it amazing actually to be able to relax and not be pursued by anyone. It lovely just to be able to relax. Even more amazing to find one of my own kind!
Katrina: [chuckling softly] Well, it's nice to finally get a chance to talk to you instead of just sending cryptic email!
Jarod: [finally understanding] So it was you that got me to come here in the first place! [a short pause] Kat, can I ask you something?
Sydney: [taking the hint] I've...I've got some work to do.
Jarod: [ignoring the beseeching look he is receiving] Kat, I want to say something but I am going to find it really hard, so can you wait until I'm through? I love you, in fact I think I'm in love with you. What I want to know is, will you marry me? [he produces a ring box and opens it to show a band of gold supporting a single solitaire diamond]
Katrina: [heaves a huge sigh - it is not one of pleasure] Jarod, I was really hoping you wouldn't ask me that! It's not that I don't feel anything for you - quite the opposite!...
Katrina: No wait, let me finish. [Jarod become mutinously silent] I gave you your chance, now give me mine! I love you very dearly - otherwise I would never have done all of the things I have for you. But I can't marry you for one simple reason. Jarod, we ran the final tests today. It is virtually impossible that I will live for another three months. I'm not saying this because I want sympathy - God knows, I get enough and to spare of that as it is! But I can't marry you! Even if I was to live until the day of the wedding, and even supposing I had the energy to go down the aisle with you, I would have virtually no time left. Even now, I'm living purely on borrowed time! [pausing to collect her thoughts before continuing] I feel that there is a big difference from being in love with someone outside wedlock and the feelings which develop after marriage. I can't possibly ask you to marry me, only to lose me just after, or even perhaps during the honeymoon!
Jarod: But you've lived so long already...
Katrina: And I just don't have the energy to fight on any longer. I want to, believe me. I want to so much. I have so much more to go on for now, but...I couldn't stand it if I said yes and didn't even live to see us married. And...I'm scared that you might resent me for "giving in" or for "leaving you" even more than is natural. [Jarod is upset and confused] I can't explain this well enough to make you understand me, I know. It's not that I don't want to, it's that I can't!!!
At this point the tears that have been in Katrina’s eyes slowly slide down her cheeks. Jarod, too, is silent, not knowing what to say.
Jarod: [slowly] Why didn't you tell me that you were worse?
Katrina: [almost angrily] What good would it have done? All it would have done was to make you torment yourself more for what you didn't do. I don't blame you for that. I would rather have you here with me now - for a short time - than have to see you dragged off by Miss Parker and her goons. Please believe that and never, ever doubt that I do love you and would marry you if it were possible. But it isn't...
Katrina suddenly gets up and walks out of the garden and down towards the beach. Jarod is left staring after her.
Miss Parker receives an email
"Having a nice time visiting relatives. Wish you were here. The weather is fantastic. I'll be back when I can. Sydney."
Miss Parker sent a return message.
"Syd. We need you here and now. I don't give a damn about the weather - I give a damn about that experiment of yours that's running around loose out there acting like an overgrown Boy Scout! Get back here NOW!!"
Two weeks later in Australia
Each day is a reproach to Katrina as she tries to act normally - and fails dismally! Jarod, too, is finding the situation very difficult and tries to bury himself in the Pretends which he creates for himself. Unfortunately he solves them all far too rapidly to divert his thoughts from the real problem. Sydney, too, tries to be away from home as much as possible, realising that Katrina needs to resolve the situation for herself. One evening Sydney and Jarod come together to discuss the situation in the apartment Sydney took for himself when he realized that he would be in Australia for a while.
Jarod: [pacing the room] Syd, I don't think I can stand this any more. I have to get away. This is driving me crazy.
Sydney: [shocked] Do you mean you'd just disappear? Jarod, that would kill her!!
Jarod: [through clenched teeth] But she is driving me crazy. She might have said that she had only three months but we're only two weeks away from the end of that time now!
Sydney: [patiently] All right, supposing you did go - where would you go?
Jarod: [firmly] Home
Sydney: [shocked] The Centre?
Jarod: [angrily] Oh, please Syd. Give me a break. No, I just mean the US. I need to escape, to forget her - and to get her out of my life - forever.
Sydney: [drily] If you did leave, you’d have no concern of her ever reappearing!! The only female you would have to worry about ruining your life would be Miss Parker, but of course you've considered that!! [serious again] Why don't you talk to her first?
The next day - Katrina's house
Jarod and Katrina are sitting having a cold drink in the kitchen
Jarod: [slowly] Look, I know that this is a painful subject [now it is he who is preventing her from speaking] but I need to know...Are you sure?
Katrina: [firmly] Yes, Jarod. I am. I can understand if you feel the need to get away. [Jarod looks slightly stunned but remains silent] If it's too hard, then don't stay around for my sake. [She gets up and takes her glass to the sink so that he can't see the tears in her eyes]
The airport that evening
Jarod is sitting in a chair with his ticket in his hand and his suitcases around him, and alternating looks between the ticket and the check-in desks in front of him
Katrina house several hours later
Katrina, in an attempt to escape from her loneliness, turns on the radio.
"The QAN20531 flight to Los Angeles has crashed into the sea. There are no survivors. Those who wish to inquire about family members should call..." but Katrina hears nothing else as she collapses on the floor.
At the hospital, five hours later
Katrina is on life support now and we hear a constant beeping as the machines fight to keep death away. Sydney is talking to Dr Harrison.
Harrison: [sadly] I don't think we can pull her through this time. She went downhill so fast - it's like she lost the most important thing in her life...[his voice trails off as he looks as his papers and walks away down the corridor]
Sydney: [echoing softly]: The most important thing in her life...
The hospital, two hour later
Sydney is idly looking through the Katrina's possessions, which are laid out on the tray at the end of her bed. Among them he finds a scrap of paper and a large envelope addressed to Jarod. We see the name become blurred as Sydney's tears fall on it. Turning the scrap of paper over, however, he glances at it and bolts from the room, overturning his chair as he leaves. We focus in on Katrina's face, which has not moved.
The hospital, an hour later
Sydney is sitting beside Katrina and holding her hand
Sydney: [begging] Please hold on. I found the note you wrote and I called him. Please just wait until he gets here. He wasn't on that plane...please believe me. I've spoken to him and he's on the way...please just hold on until he gets here...please...[He is interrupted by a voice in the doorway]
Jarod: [softly] Syd...?
Sydney leaps out of his chair and is in front of Jarod with a bound. He is so busy scolding Jarod [as he did when Jarod was a child] for his stupidity in leaving that neither notice Katrina's eyes slowly flicker open. When she sees who it is, she struggles to sit up. The increase in speed of her heart rate causes the alarm attached to the heart monitor to sound and several nurses rush in. Immediately an announcement can be heard paging Dr Harrison. However Katrina has only eyes for Jarod, and they are full of tears as she is pushed back onto her pillows in a way reminiscent of her treatment of Jarod while he was ill.
When Dr Harrison appears in the doorway, he realizes that it is not what he feared and relaxes somewhat. However he is quick to note Katrina's flushed cheeks and bright eyes and peremptorily orders all people out. When they are gone,
Harrison: Katrina, I know you can't talk but answer one blink for yes and two for no, ok? [one blink] Well, you've managed to scare us all nicely. Hey, none of that [as Katrina reaches to tear out the tube in her throat] I doubt you're strong enough to do that yet...[several rapid and furious blinks. Dr Harrison laughs] OK, we'll take it out for a while. Who do you want to speak to - Jarod? [one blink] Sydney? [one blink] Together? [one blink] Okay, then let's get this tube out and see what we can do...
He eventually succeeds in getting it out so that she can talk relatively clearly, if only for a short time. He then goes over to the two men standing in the doorway and speaks quietly for a moment.
Harrison: Don't make her do or say anything too violent - she's not strong enough yet.
Sydney: [reluctantly] Will she pull through this?
Harrison: [even more reluctantly] I wish I could say yes - but I doubt it. She's undergone too much and her heart's too weak. She's still very energetic, though, and she may surprise us yet.
Jarod and Sydney gingerly approach the bed, where Katrina is resting before getting involved in what she knows will be a very emotional situation.
Jarod: [quietly] Kat? [her eyes fly open] Hey, you know you shouldn't have done this! I'm not that important!
Katrina: [softly but with meaning] Wanna bet? Hey, Syd. Pass me that envelope on the table.
Sydney: [holding up the one with Jarod's name on it] This one?
Katrina: [trying to nod] Yes. Can I have it?
She stretches out a bruised arm, with several IV's attached and turns to Jarod with a serious face
Katrina: [softly] I was really hoping that I could give you this in person. [there is a long pause] Jarod, this is who you are...
Jarod snatches the envelope from her and Katrina closes her eyes and takes several deep breaths. Sydney, deeply interested, waits in the doorway. Jarod opens the envelope and drops the contents on the bed. Inside are several more photos of himself with his parents, two pages with birth certificates, two envelopes addressed to him in different hand-writing styles, and a diary. He seizes the first birth certificate
Jarod: This...this is Kyle! "Kyle Michael McCarthy" [he looks in amazement at Katrina] And this one - me! "Jarod Charles McCarthy - born September 20, 1959. Mother: Margaret McCarthy; Father: -" But...why is there a gap? Who is it? What does this mean?
Katrina: [softly and without opening her eyes] Jarod, your father, and Kyle's, was a donor at the Centre's donor bank. I couldn't find out who. Their records aren't perfect. I also had to leave before I could figure it all out. But there's your other reason why I wouldn't marry you...Because...
Jarod: [whispering] You're my sister...
Sydney, too, looks as shocked as either of the others. There is several moments silence and then Jarod looks down at the other photos. Sydney is watching Katrina and sees her appear to sink further into the pillow. Her colour fades and, gradually, her heart rate begins to slow until, for the second time, the alarm sounds. Jarod looks up in terror and sweeps all the information off the bed and back into the envelope. Faster this time, the nurses come running into the room and Sydney and Jarod are swept out. The two men stand outside the glass of the window and watch them work on Katrina. The rooms are soundproof and so they cannot hear what is going on inside.
Tentatively Sydney lays his hand on Jarod's shoulder and Jarod turns to him for protection, both instinctively avoiding looking in the window. Sydney embraces Jarod, in a way he has not done for years, and Jarod does not pull away. After several minutes Doctor Morrison moves out into the hall.
Morrison: Well, we saved her this time but it will have to be the last. If we shock her too many more times we could do permanent damage to the brain or heart. Jarod, she's been asking for you but we need you to stay calm. She won't be able to cope with much excitement. She hasn't lost her stubbornness, however.
Looking through the window, the two men see how true this is, as they watch Katrina struggle against the use of the breathing apparatus. It appears that she wins, however, as a disgruntled-looking nurse eventually puts down the mouthpiece and takes up an oxygen mask. Again, words appear to flow, although the men can hear nothing. The nurse, taking one mask in each hand, appears to give her the option and it is now Katrina who looks disgruntled as she indicates the oxygen mask. It is rapidly put on.
Sydney: [smiling slightly] Obstinacy must run in the family! [Jarod ignores him as he moves towards the door. A nurse opens it and lets him in. She then leaves]
Jarod: [in a voice full of tears] I thought you were leaving me...
Katrina: [who is exhausted by the effort of talking; softly in a half-whisper but with her eyes focused clearly on him] Not hardly, big brother.
The hospital, the next day
Katrina is definitely worse now and it is obvious that Jarod and Sydney have both spent the night beside her. Jarod is sitting in a chair at Katrina's left hand and Sydney is standing behind him. There is also a nurse sitting in the corner of the room. Surrounding the camera are various people including Michael, Julia, Michelle, Dr Harrison, David and his wife, and others we have seen but not met.
Katrina is doing most of the talking and both Sydney and Jarod are often seen to have tears in their eyes. Eventually Katrina stops talking and, slowly, her eyes cloud over and gently close. No alarms sound but the nurse rises from her seat and turns the monitors off. She then opens the door, leaves the room and closes it behind her. Gradually the crowd around the window melt away, most of them also in tears. The camera takes one last look through the window to see Sydney with his hand on Jarod's shoulder and both men openly crying. The camera moves off down the hallway and out of the hospital to the end of the street where the beach stretches out before the viewer. Slowly the screen fades to black.
A New Pretender
Part 2: Shadows of the Past by KB
Part 2: Shadows of the Past
Katrina's room, night
Jarod stands bedside the bed and stares down on the bear leaning against Katrina's pillow. The moonlight streams in at the window, illuminating the bed and Jarod but leaving most of the room in shadow. The light reflects off the red satin heart held between the bear's paws. The words "I love you" in white felt are just legible.
Jarod: [thinking but we can hear his thoughts] She's dead. She's finally gone. She was right. I guess I do feel as though she left me. [he picks up the bear and holds it in one hand]
Suddenly Jarod's attention is caught by something glinting on the pillow. Staring, open-mouthed, he picks it up. It glitters in the light as he moves it around and we can see that it is the diamond ring he had offered her when he proposed. He looks in amazement around the darkened room. As the camera draws back we can see two figures in the shadows - Katrina and Kyle. They have been watching him the whole time, however he cannot see them.
Kyle: [tenderly] It was nice of you to let him know you're still around!
Katrina: [laughing] Appreciate my genius. It doesn't happen often.
Kyle: [turning to leave] Coming?
Katrina: Soon. I've got some things to do first.
As Kyle leaves, she continues to watch as Jarod drops onto the bed and begins to cry silently. She kneels at his feet and rests her head in his lap as he sobs. The moonlight shining on her face shows her as she weeps with him. Around the neck of the bear we can see a card, held by a length of red ribbon. As Jarod lays the bear again on the bed beside him we can see the card. It, too, has the words "I love you" written on the cover and has just one word written inside. Jarod.
At the airport
For the second time in as many weeks Jarod stands at the check-in desk. He holds a ticket in his hands and his baggage is a little bit heavier than when he originally come to Australia, because it now includes that all-important package. That information is carefully stowed in his hand-luggage. He wouldn't want it to 'disappear'.
The Centre, Blue Cove, Delaware, the same day
Miss Parker: [angrily] Broots, I don't care how many security barriers you have to jump - I want full information about anyone called 'Jarod' who tries to board a plane from Australia to here. Damn it, we were so close and to be stopped by that...that...[Miss Parker twirls and storms out of the room]
Broots: [softly and to himself] And if he flies somewhere else first...?
Rome airport, Italy
Jarod still has a few hours until his flight to LA. The fact that his flight had been organized and paid for was a sign of how, even when she was dying, Katrina had still thought about him. He remembered the discussion they had had in the garden.
Jarod: [amazed] But why shouldn't I fly direct?
Katrina: [scornfully] Your brain's gone soft with your weeks on holiday. [seriously] Considering how humiliated Miss Parker and the others have to be right now, there is no way they’ll let you get unhindered off that plane. Trust me. I know that area of the Centre even better than you. Parker will be checking for anyone named Jarod on any plane between here and there - passengers or crew, so don't think you'll get away with flying it by yourself. It's much safer to fly via Europe. They'll see you as consumed with grief and unable to think straight - which is exactly what we want them to think.
And so he had found the ticket which would send him back (first class, paid by the Centre) eventually to the US - in the name of Jarod McCarthy. Amazingly she had even got the date on the ticket right. Somehow she had known...
He opens his computer and, types quickly, smiling gently at the screen...
The Centre, that day.
An email arrives for Miss Parker.
"So the chase resumes. Catch me if you can. Jarod"
On the plane to the US
After settling himself in his seat, Jarod glances around at his fellow passengers. An elderly lady is sitting next to him, against the window. Among the other passengers is a young lady with long, dark hair. Not paying much attention to her, Jarod sorts out his bags, however his eye is caught by a movement from the girl which shows him a very familiar profile. However, before he can rise and go to her, the lady next to him commands his attention. Never before has his accustomed tact seemed so hard to maintain as he politely answers her questions. At the first opportunity he turns his attention back to the seat where the girl had been sitting, only to find that it is now occupied by an elderly gentleman. Jarod shakes his head slightly and looks again. The man is still there. Jarod rises from his seat and walks through the whole first-class section of the plane. She is not there. Jarod sits back in his sat with a defeated sigh and, to distract himself, begins looking through the letters he had received in the parcel. Jarod cannot recognize the writing on either of the letters before him. He opens that which looks older. As he reads it we can hear a woman's voice read the contents aloud.
You probably don't remember me but I could never forget you or your brother. I am Margaret. I am your mother. I am writing this in the hope that you will one day read it and try to find me. I can only hope that you will escape from the people who have captured you and now want to capture and kill us too. My purpose in writing this was to inform you of the life you would have had with us.
Charles McCarthy and I were married in 1950 and, after many years of trying, were told that we could never have children naturally. However we were told that they had a donor who looked very similar to Charles, even with the same blood type. Within a year of being on the program I had you and, four years later, your brother Kyle. These are the names we gave you, being Charles' and my favorite boys names.
By the time you were eighteen months old we noticed a difference in you. Other children in the neighborhood only played at being firemen or doctors however you seemed to actually become one. Of course, you could know nothing of the real profession but we were always stunned at how involved you would become in your games. In our amazement and pride we took you to a doctor at the Delaware centre - Dr Jacob McCarthy, although at that time he was using the name Green. He was your father's step-brother, although we didn't find that out until later. He wasn't able to find out anything but told us to keep in touch. In hindsight it was the worst decision we ever made. One night, before Kyle's first birthday, you both disappeared.
We received a tip that we were in danger - from someone who signed themselves CP - and, because your step-father was Australian, although he did serve in the American Air Force and won a Flying Cross, we went there. Within eighteen months I was pregnant - although to Charles this time. In 1965 we had a little girl - Katrina Margaret. When she was two years old I heard from an old friend - Harriet Tashman. She said that it was possible for us to at least see you two again. However we had a dilemma - what to do with Katrina... Eventually, to keep her safe, we left her with Charles' parents and flew back to the States, expecting to stay only a short time. However when we couldn't see you and tried to fly home, we found that the Centre (as we then knew it was called) had kept a watch for us and we couldn't buy tickets. And so we stayed in a barn on Harriet's farm until, finally, under different names, we escaped back to Australia and Katrina. Harriet said that she would let us know what was happening through information she received from Catherine Jameson-Parker. She was able to do that until 1970, when Catherine was killed, Since then we have heard nothing.
In 1969, when you would have been ten, I gave birth again, to another little girl - Emily Louise. Both of your sisters are very similar to you, particularly when playing together. One day, when they had finally met each other, I heard them playing doctors and nurses together. Katrina's groans were so real that I almost thought she had really hurt herself.
My darling boy, you would now be twenty-one years old and I would like to think that you are happy and safe. However, knowing what I know of the Centre, I don't know how possible that is. Always remember, though, that no matter what you become I will always love you because you are my own son. Please don't forget me. I will try to get this letter to you through Harriet. Try to contact me, as I will try to contact you, and I will always hold the memory of you in my heart.
Your ever loving mother
The Centre, two weeks later
Sydney is back and the recent events have aged him dramatically. Miss Parker did not know that he was returning and is shocked by his appearance.
Miss Parker: [standing in the doorway of his office] Syd, what on earth are you doing here? I thought you were still in Australia, looking after that relation of yours!
Sydney: [in a hard tone, being on the verge of tears] Parker, that 'relation of mine' was my niece. She died three weeks ago. It was her affairs that I had to put in order. [his voice hardens further] And now, if you don't mind, we have a Pretender to catch...[he turns to his computer and Miss Parker, with a worried glance over her should, leaves the room]
When she is gone, Sydney reaches into the drawer of his desk and pulls out an envelope. In it is a picture of the three of them. His 'family'. Jarod, Katrina and himself sitting on the beach and smiling at the camera. With a sigh, he replaces the photo in the envelope and pushes it back into the drawer. He turns to his computer where an email is waiting for him.
"To my 'uncle'. The chase resumes. Love Jarod McCarthy.
Jarod's latest lair
Jarod is rereading the other letter he received in the envelope - from Katrina. He opens it and, as he reads, we can hear Katrina's voice.
My dearest Jarod,
I know the contents of the letter you received from Mum because she read it to me just after she wrote it. I really hope that I have the chance to tell you all of this in person but, as I told you a few days ago, I don't know that I have the energy to keep going for much longer. Having put myself in your position, if only briefly, I'm getting a pretty good idea of what you are going through. If I was in your position I would probably be very tempted to just leave and get away. I hope that you won't do that but somehow I suspect that that is exactly what you will do. So, this is the rest of our family's history as of the end of Mum's letter.
By the time she finished writing it (and believe me, it took a very long time - the date on it is when she finished it, not when she started it), she was considering going back to the US to try and find you both. Our connections with the Centre had been totally dissolved and Harriet wrote only spasmodically because she was fearful of being pursued by the Centre herself. However, because both Emily and I were both still under eighteen, she delayed it, not wanting to leave us without a mother. By 1996 I was working in an Australian Embassy in Germany and had been for several years. I had had a year in Europe on exchange after I finished school and so was comfortable with the language - not that it would have been a problem to pick up, for any of us! Emily was completing a course in Medicine - unlike me she had always denied her 'gift' as a Pretender and wanted to live a normal life.
In 1996 we heard from Harriet that both you and Kyle had escaped. Mum would have come looking for you herself but there would have been little she could have done. Instead it was decided that I would try and integrate myself into the Centre - Emily was offered the opportunity but declined - and try to find you. Of course I had only been there a short time when I found out what the situation was. Syd, I knew, was in fairly spasmodic contact with you and, by keeping an eye on the newspapers for the type of situation in which you would integrate yourself, I was able to warn you in time of some of the Centre's attempts. Angelo was also very helpful in that respect and we became firm friends. Don't worry about him - his 'gift' means that the Centre will always take good care of him and he is unlikely to try and escape!
So, in 1996 I joined the Centre, first as a psychologist working with children under Sydney's care and then with Sydney, Broots and Miss Parker in an effort to find the two of you! Although you probably don't remember, I was there when you had Miss Parker strip-searched at the Casino, when Miss Parker almost exposed you for what you are, and also when you nearly met our parents. The story behind that is pretty simple. Having been there when the van exploded (and, incidentally, I helped Kyle to get away from the fire - that's when he found out who I was and I gave him his letter from Mum at the same time. It was on my insistence that he didn't tell you about me), I contacted Harriet and organised the meeting. Both Emily and I were supposed to come up from behind you - I as a Centre representative and Emily as a member of the public, should the Centre discover what was going on and try to capture you, as they did! This was because we were not sure if the Centre knew of Emily's and my existence and Mum wanted us to have a chance of escaping. Unfortunately Emily had sprained her ankle that morning and couldn't walk on it and so that is why she was in the car and not with me. I tried to meet up with you afterwards but you left too quickly. I was then forced to meet with the other Centre representatives, much as I wanted to contact you.
I stayed around the Centre for about another nine months, just in time to see Kyle die. And then I left. By this time, of course, I was already very sick with cancer, which had actually been diagnosed while I was still in Germany, and so, being very tired with what I had undergone, I returned to Australia. I got home to find the house a shambles and the body of my father lying in his bedroom. Both Emily and Mum were gone. It was obviously recent and the autopsy revealed that I had missed the intruders by less that forty-eight hours. I know that Emily and Mum made it back to Australia with Dad because I received a letter from them shortly after the failed meeting. Unfortunately I still haven't managed to contact them. Somehow I know that the Centre is involved in this and I can only hope that Mum and Emily managed to escape before they arrived. Of course, not being home, I still doubt that the Centre has any knowledge of my existence. It doesn't, obviously, matter to me any more. What you or Syd tell them is up to the two of you.
My darling brother, I hope that you stay free. Of course, the untimely deaths of Raines, Mr Lyle and Bridget - which, I may as well admit now, I did have something to do with - will make staying free easier for you with just the Tower in charge (the Tower, by the way, is so easily infiltrated that you could get a job working on it!), and I suspect it has already. Mr Parker's death, in case you were wondering, had nothing to do with me! Good luck with all of the professions that you will, I am sure, adopt in the future! I am certain that both Kyle and I will be able to watch over you from wherever we are.
Good luck. I love you.
Your sister Katrina.
In silence, as tears roll down his cheeks, Jarod folds up the letter and gently, almost lovingly, replaces it in the envelope. He takes up a photo, which Katrina had created in her computer, of the six members of his family - Charles, Margaret, Kyle, Emily, Katrina and himself. Slowly he places it on top of the envelope and lies back against the pillows scattered on the double bed. The open windows allow the curtains to move slowly back and forth and also let a cool breeze flow through the room.
Gradually he remembers the events that have shaped his life. One of his earliest memories is his abduction in February 1963. He recalls his first meetings with Miss Parker and Kyle, and her giving him his first kiss. He recalls the time when he accidentally spilt acid on Kyle's hand and also watching helplessly as they took Kyle away. He relives hearing Catherine Parker murdered and the first time he saw snow. He remembers the Father's Day card he gave Sydney and the flat-lining experiments performed on him by Raines and Lyle. And then he remembers his escape.
Gradually he can visualize all of the Pretends he has performed since his escape - doctor, pilot, lawyer, coast guard, forest ranger, hit-man, fashion photographer, plastic surgeon, gigolo, child psychologist and teacher. Slowly his minds fogs as exhaustion sweeps over him...
Jarod is nervously standing at the altar, in his tuxedo
Jarod: Do you think she's coming?
Kyle: [as best man] Jarod, relax. It's traditional for brides to be late. Just be patient. [Jarod gives him an incredulous look]
Outside the church
A limousine pulls up and Sydney steps out, also resplendent in a tuxedo. He holds out his hand to assist the bridesmaid out of the car and we see that it is Miss Parker. She is dressed in a pale violet, very flattering gown. The next person to exit the vehicle is dressed in a white wedding gown. She clutches a bouquet of white and pink roses and her veil is held in place by a wreath of the same flowers. As Miss Parker settles the veil firmly, we can see that the bride is Katrina. The doors of the anteroom to the church are opened for them to enter and, as they stand in the foyer, it is possible to see that the church is full. Many of the guests are recognisable as having been in Jarod's Pretends, as well as Katrina's. As Miss Parker begins her journey down the aisle ahead of Katrina, we see the priest who is to perform the ceremony. It is Mr Parker.
As Katrina walks down the aisle, music prevents us from hearing any of the ceremony. As Katrina reaches the altar, we see Jarod's face. It is full of pride and love. Kyle, too, looks pleased for his brother. Although we cannot actually hear what is being said, we are able to understand the words spoken by the various people. We flash rapidly from one face to another, including various guests as well as members of the wedding party, until the point where the rings are exchanged. We understand the words "I do" to have been spoken, although we cannot see Katrina's face clearly through the veil.
While we watch the exchange of rings we focus on Katrina's and Jarod's hands before moving up to their faces as Jarod lifts Katrina's veil and they exchange kisses. Although we cannot hear the guests cheering, we can certainly see their reaction. Once her veil has been moved away from her face, we can see that under the flowers and the veil a golden tiara has been placed on her hair. We see it glittering and shining under the lights of the church as Katrina moves her head. We are witness to the two signing the marriage registry as many of the guests move out to wait near the car. Finally the newlyweds, holding hands, emerge from the church and are showered with rice and confetti from every side, as well as appearing to hear shouted congratulations from many people, before getting into the limousine. We see them drive off, smiling.
Next we cut to the two newlyweds dancing at the reception. Katrina is leaning against Jarod's chest and he rests his head on hers. They continue this way for several minutes, lit by various spotlights, as the other guests watch. Then we see them cutting into a three-tiered wedding cake. They smile broadly as a camera flash illuminates them and we see that many people at the reception are applauding and even whistling. The scene quickly dissolves to the two of them standing quietly in a corner. We close in on them, blocking out the views of gaiety which surround them, as their faces move closer together and, as they kiss again, the screen gradually fades to black and sound returns to normal.
Jarod's latest lair
We see a close-up of Jarod lying on his bed. His eyes are still closed but tears stream from beneath the lids as he tries to ignore reality and live in the dream he had created for himself. Finding himself unable to do so, he opens his eyes, trying to adjust to what he must now deal with as actuality. He slowly pulls himself up into a sitting position, with his legs crossed on the bed. He rests his elbows on his knees and buries his face in his hands. However, as the curtains cause light to flicker across the bed, his eye is caught by a glitter of gold on the bed beside him.
In shock he automatically picks it up and we can see, as the camera zooms slowly out, that it is Katrina's tiara and the bouquet he remembers from his dream. Looking frantically from side to side he also rapidly notices the picture in a frame standing on the bedside table, on top of the photos and letter. With a face full of shock he picks it up and we can see that it is a photo of Katrina and Jarod, in their wedding clothes, cutting the wedding cake and smiling at the camera. Sydney, Kyle and Miss Parker are apparent in the background.
As the camera pans back further we can see what Jarod cannot - Katrina, standing at the foot of the bed and smiling at Jarod, even as tears stream down her cheeks.
Miss Parker's house, that night
Miss Parker's mobile phone rings, waking her. She sits up and reaches for the phone.
Miss Parker: [irritated] What?
Jarod: [sadly] Have you ever thought about marriage
Miss Parker: [annoyed that he woke her to ask trivial questions] What do you want Jarod?
Jarod: [impatiently] Just answer the question!
Miss Parker: [sighing] For me or for someone else?
Jarod: [softly] You...or me...
Miss Parker: You? Who'd marry you? [sarcastically] An anti-social weirdo who's on the run from the Centre? A person whose whole family- and love-life would have to be fulfilled on the run? Somehow I can't see that as being a particularly inviting prospect for any woman! Although [even more sarcastically] you could start a trend...
Jarod: [sadly] I suppose asking you to be serious just this once would be expecting too much...[preparing to hang up]
Miss Parker: [repentant] No...Jarod...wait. Look, I'm sorry. I didn't realize you were serious. To be honest, I don't know. I really don't know whether a woman would want what you have to offer.
Jarod: [quickly] Would you?
Miss Parker: [slowly] Is that a proposal?
Jarod: No, not really. I just wanted to gauge your reaction. Thanks for your honesty.
He hangs up. Miss Parker looks at the phone in her hand for a moment before heaving a huge sigh and lying down again. But sleep won't come...
Sydney's house, the same night
Sydney's phone rings and Sydney, who is still up and looking at photos of himself and Jacob given to him by Katrina several days before her death, immediately answers it.
Sydney: This is Sydney.
Jarod: How're you coping?
Sydney: Jarod, hi. Oh, all right I suppose. To be honest I can't tell whether I wish I'd never gotten involved at all or if I'm glad I actually did meet her.
Jarod: You too? I thought that was just something I was feeling...
Sydney: [softly] Jarod, that’s a normal reaction to death. Almost everyone feels that way.
Jarod: [after a pause] I keep dreaming about her. [we see that he is dressed only in jeans and is lying against the pillows on his bed, staring at the photo of himself and Katrina cutting the wedding cake] I even dream we were married. How normal's that?
Sydney: [firmly] What's normal?
Jarod: Exactly what I was wondering. Except...This whole thing has made me hate the Centre more, you know. If it wasn't for that I could have had my whole life with her. [becoming excited] If it wasn't for that, Kyle wouldn't be dead. If it wasn't for that...
Sydney: [softly] You wouldn't exist. It's only because of the program started by the Centre in the early 1950's that you actually exist at all...
Jarod: If we hadn't been related, would she have married me?
Sydney: [sadly] Jarod, all of the other reasons she had for not marrying you were just as important as the family relationship. In that case, I think the answer to your question is no, she wouldn't have done so. However had she been healthy...I really don't know.
Jarod: [softly] Will anyone ever want to marry me?
Sydney: [wondering where these questions are leading but shaken out of his own depression by them] I'm not sure. Your lifestyle isn't exactly normal, you know.
Jarod: My parents lived it!
Sydney: [reluctantly] That wasn't by choice...
Jarod: [angrily] Neither is my life!
Sydney: [eagerly] You could come back to the Centre and...
Jarod: And what? Be exploited all over again? I don't think so!
Sydney: [quietly] You know, if the US government ever found out about you, then you'd have a lot more to worry about that just the Centre...Have you ever considered how much worse your life would be if you had to be an international spy, in any country the US wanted to send you to?
Jarod: At least I'd have a life! [he slams down the phone in anger]
Jarod has tears streaming down his face again, but this time they are tears of rage as well as sadness. He stares blankly at a wall in front of him. As the camera pans back, we see Katrina standing behind him, with her hands on his shoulders as they heave. As though directed by a silent signal, he rises and moves towards the bed. Katrina follows him and, when he is lying down on his back on the right-hand side of the bed, she sits next to him. Gently stroking his face, we see her lips moving as though she is speaking to him. It is a scene reminiscent of the time when he was ill and she was taking care of him. Slowly his eyes close and he relaxes until we can tell he is asleep. His right arm is flung out across the bed and the other lies across his chest. When he is asleep, Katrina rises and walks around the bed. She lies next to him and rests her head on his chest with her right hand beside her face. Then she, too, appears to fall asleep. We see Jarod's left arm move to rest on her and the right arm to curl itself around her shoulders.
The Centre, the next afternoon.
Sydney is sitting at his desk, with his head in his hand, and is trying to get the previous night's phone call out of his mind. Miss Parker and Broots have gone to follow a lead that appeared that morning in the post, but Sydney remained at the Centre on the pretence of catching up on his work. As he thinks of the trail which had emptied the Centre of most of its personnel and sent them almost to the Mexican border, he smiles slightly. This is not one of Jarod's tricks. He knows that. After all, there is no way that Jarod could have accessed the small stock of purple notebooks, which he, Sydney, had kept to pass on to the next Pretender. No. He knows that this was a small diversion, created by Katrina, who had presumably taken several of the books before she left the Centre and, knowing her, had probably asked friends to fill them and keep them hidden - only to produce them as the Centre got too close to capturing Jarod. Sydney had to admire her. Even in death she could remind him of her and he could see many of the characteristics that the siblings - Kyle as well as Katrina and Jarod - shared.
Hearing a sound in the shadows Sydney spins around in his chair and waits until his eyes adjust before he can see the figure of Jarod standing in the corner. Unlike the first time this occurred, both men appear truly glad to see each other, although the environment makes the meeting occur under somewhat restrained circumstances.
Jarod: Where is everyone? I've never known the Centre to be this quiet...
Sydney: Angelo stumbled on a purple notebook, which he handed over to me during a meeting. Miss Parker and Broots, certain that it came from you [Jarod chuckles softly] immediately set off for the town mentioned in one of the articles - Matamoros, I think. So, that's where they are. They took the Centre helicopter so, once they find out it isn't you they're after, they'll probably come straight back.
Jarod: [soberly] It's amazing, isn't it, that she managed to help me - us - even after her death
Sydney: You probably would have done the same thing in her situation...
Jarod: As she said to me once - I don't have a female mind capable of creating situations like that. Don't forget - she's had years more experience of being a Pretender in the outside world that I have. I would expect her to be more adept at those sort of things. She's also got all of those little toys - like her phone - which helped her in difficult situations, such as the scene in the hotel.
Sydney: [cautiously] How much do you remember of that?
Jarod: [startled] Why?
Sydney: Katrina said to me after we got you back to her house that she hoped you wouldn't remember anything. I'm just interested to see if you do!
Jarod: [turning a high-backed chair around and sitting on it, resting his chin on the back] I remember making the phone call and then having someone come up to me and take the phone out of my hand. Then Miss Parker was sticking her gun in my neck. She told me to sit down and I did. Willie put those darned handcuffs on and then I saw Parker fill that syringe of hers. I felt a hot flush go through me, like when we were doing that heat SIM in 1971, remember? [Sydney looks pained] After that I could hear what was going on but it just became too much effort to try to open my eyes and focus on what was happening, so I just lay there. But I could hear what was being said quite clearly. I can remember that my heart was thudding in my ears and I also remember thinking it was beating too fast. After that I was picked up and the rush of heat to my head meant that I suppose I fainted. The next thing I know I was waking up to see her...and you...a few weeks afterwards, although it only felt like the next minute.
Sydney: Miss Parker was absolutely furious when she found out that she had been captured by another female, not to mention strip-searched!
Jarod: [reminiscently] ...Seems to make a habit of it!
Sydney: [laughing] She'll never forgive you for that And she still thinks that it was your father who killed her mother.
Jarod: [curiously] Could my father really have been Raines?
Sydney: Actually, no. I ran some tests just prior to the autopsy and found out that he wasn't. Somehow, though, he managed to convince Fenigor that it was your father that did it.
Jarod: It's easy to convince someone in his position of anything you like! All you have to do is repeat it a number of times of times until the person you are trying to convince is repeating it too. When Miss Parker mentioned the name Catherine to him, Fenigor's drugged mind would instantly make the connection Raines wanted him to make and - voila! Fenigor says my father kills Miss Parker's mother, she chases me down to SL27 and your bomb goes off, sending me off my head! [he shoots a sly look at Sydney]
Sydney: [in open amusement] That was a very impressive act you put on!
Jarod: [as he rises and slides back into the shadows] Aren't they all?!
Sydney's office, within the next few minutes
Miss Parker bursts in, furiously angry. Broots trails disconsolately behind her. Just from her face we can tell that she has realized that Jarod wasn't involved.
Miss Parker: [angrily] It wasn't him!
Sydney: [attempting to act surprised and succeeding admirably] How could it not have been?
Miss Parker: How the hell should I know? But it wasn't him! [she throws herself into a chair, forgetting it is on castors, and it takes her quickly and silently into the opposite corner from where Jarod is hiding. She runs it back to the desk with her feet while Sydney and Broots try to hide their smiles]
Sydney: Are you saying there could be another Pretender out there?
Miss Parker: [standing up and pacing in front of the desk] God, no! I think we know about all the others. But, somehow, I think that bitch in Australia could have had something to do with it - except for the fact that she's dead! [we see a pained look cross Sydney's face and Miss Parker immediately notices it] Sorry Syd, I forget. [there is a moment of heavy silence as Miss Parker stands in front of the same chair. Forgetful in the seriousness of the moment, she throws herself into it again - with the same result as before. She shoots a black look at the chair as she rises] God, that thing must hate me!
We notice that Broots has hurriedly left the room and we can hear the echo of laughter down the corridor. Sydney blows his nose to disguise his own amusement and Miss Parker, throwing him a look of disgust, goes out of the room. Sydney turns to the corner where Jarod was hiding, but all we hear is the creak of an air-duct cover and laughter faintly filtering into the room.
Miss Parker's house, that evening
Miss Parker is lying on her bed, thinking over the day's failure. Naturally enough, she is somewhat irritated. Her phone rings.
Miss Parker: What?
Jarod: No, that's wrong. You should say "Hello". I'll hang up and ring again. Talk to you soon.
Miss Parker: Oh, for God's sake Jarod...[she realizes that she is talking to a dial tone and, with a frustrated sigh, hangs up. The phone rings again] Wha...[with gritted teeth] Hello.
Jarod: [amused] See, that wasn't so hard, was it?
Miss Parker: [really frustrated] What do you want Jarod?
Jarod: [cheerfully] Wrong again. Your next question should be "How are you?" but that's probably enough for this time We'll practice again later.
Miss Parker: [angrily] Did you really call me just to try and change my phone manner?
Jarod: [sweetly] Well, personally I would have said 'improve' you phone manner, but, now you mention it, no.
Miss Parker: [so frustrated that she is ready to hang up on him but doesn't] God, do I have to spoon-feed you every step of the way?
Jarod: [seriously] No-one else did.
Miss Parker: [aggressively] You'll regret this!
Jarod: [teasingly] Are you really in a position to make those threats? Stress caused by unfulfilled threats and pent-up energy are some of the major causes of high blood pressure, leading to heart problems and some...
Miss Parker: Stow it!
Jarod: [sweetly] That is very rude of you and something I did not expect from someone of your upbringing.
Miss Parker: [furiously] WHAT DO YOU WANT?
Jarod: [as though to a child] Do you know...I'm not sure I can remember now. It must be all of the shouting that's been going on! Did you hear it? It was very loud!
Miss Parker: Oh, for God's sake!
Jarod: You know, you really shouldn't take God's name in vain. It's enough to get you sent into hell!
Miss Parker: [sarcastically] Play-acting a priest this week are we? Or had some deep, religious experience that shook you to your foundations?
Jarod: [soberly] Death is really good like that...
Miss Parker: So I suppose you were deeply involved with little Miss Pretender in the land Down Under too, huh?
Jarod: [softly] Actually, yes. She was my sister...
Miss Parker: [after a pause] I'm sorry...
Jarod: [brightening up] But that's not why I called!
Miss Parker: [to herself but aloud] Here we go again...
Jarod: Aren't you going to ask why I called?
Miss Parker: OK. [sighing] Why did you call?
Jarod: [rapidly and teasingly] Are you trying to get rid of me? Are you busy 'cos I can call back later if you're doing something important - like washing you hair.
Miss Parker: [rolling her eyes] Do we have to go through this all over again?
Jarod: [sweetly] I only called to see if you had a nice trip...
Miss Parker: Which one? To which hell-hole? The one on the same continent or on a different one?
Jarod: Actually, more like the one you took in Syd's office this afternoon. Hope you enjoyed it. Bye.
Miss Parker: Jarod...no...wait...How do you know about...Hello? Hello? [the volume of the dial-tone increases so we can hear it as Miss Parker slams down the phone in disgust]
Jarod is asleep on the bed and we see Katrina and Kyle sitting on opposite sides of the room. Kyle is curled up in a basket chair, wearing only jeans, and Katrina is stretched out on a couch, fully dressed. Both look incredibly relaxed.
Kyle: Miss Parker hates you now. Even more than before.
Katrina: Do I look worried? What can she do to me now?
Kyle: To you? Nothing. But to Sydney...or Jarod?
Katrina: Did you see Syd this afternoon? I'm pretty confident that he can take care of himself. Jarod too. [casting a tender look at the bed]
Kyle: How did you come up with the idea?
Katrina: [stretching herself out further on the couch] I had to think of something - actually I thought of it while I was still working there - that would keep them away from Jarod and, during the time I was working there, give me time to contact him without the pressure of the Centre's hired goons breathing down my neck. Now, it's just a fun game that will be played out over a few months!
Kyle: But how did they know to produce it now?
Katrina: It would have appeared regardless of what was happening otherwise. The timing was just better than I could have anticipated, that's all. [Kyle reaches out to a table and we see him fill a glass from a can of Dr Pepper] Jarod is going to freak when he realizes that's missing tomorrow. He knows I don't drink it!
Kyle: Does he still believe you're around?
Katrina: He's more likely to believe that than a chance of you hanging around for the last however many months. Besides, to take his last can is really low. In fact it's downright mean!
Kyle: [grinning and changing the subject] I decide...
Katrina: [hurriedly, to shut him up] I know, I know. Can we drop that stuff now that Raines isn't around to shove it down your throat?
Kyle: [still grinning] I still can't believe you had the gall to strip the Centre of its head honchos!
Katrina: [reflecting his grin] Do you mean you never wanted to?
Kyle: Of course, but to actually do it...
Katrina: What, don't I fit your image of a typical assassin? Sorry! Anyway, I didn't do it! I don't get my hands dirty! I leave that to someone else.
Kyle: How did you get the three of them in a straight line anyway?
Katrina: [surprised] Weren't you watching? [with a wicked smile on her face and in mock-serious tones, ticking points off on her fingers] The fire escape really should have been cleared more regularly! In fact, I would have recommended a starvation diet to clear it of all the junk which blocked it up! At least then the Three Stooges could have died - I mean escaped - in a more orderly fashion. Oh, and if I had been in charge of maintenance, I would have made sure that those bullet-shaped pieces of metal were removed from the building! [shaking her head in pretend sorrow] Really, it was a death-trap!
Kyle: [grinning] And the coroner? Was he a friend of yours?
Katrina: [sadly] Either that or only Pretending to be! [shaking her head while Kyle laughs] Some people will do anything for money!
Kyle: [chortling] Raines' money?
Katrina: Do you think I'd waste my own money on an autopsy? Or a funeral? Ugh! [shuddering]
Kyle: [laughing] That was really cruel!
Katrina: You tell me for what, precisely, you need money in hell?
Kyle: [curiously] Is he definitely there?
Katrina: Do you see him here?
Kyle: [with a killing attempt at sarcasm] Maybe he's in the other place!
Katrina: And maybe we'll find him waiting for us when we get there. Better get into practice - only not here, okay? I think I'll go nnuts if I have to hear the stupid mantra ever again. And, in this situation, 'ever' is a pretty long time!
Kyle: [grinning] I decide who lives or dies...I decide who lives or dies...I decide...
Katrina: [rising and pushing him out of the room - through the wall] Oh, go play in the traffic!
She settles back comfortably on the couch and picks up her drink. As she refills the glass, we see that it is a can of Diet Coke.
Katrina: [aloud, to a supposedly empty room] Well, at least I buy my own drinks!
Kyle: [materializing through the wall] With whose money?
Katrina: [with a smile] Miss Parker's. Nothing like adding insult to injury - and I make it my business to do that on every occasion!
Kyle: [laughing] You certainly do! I wonder if Miss Parker’s found the purple notebook in her desk yet...
Katrina: [reminiscently] I just hope she can remember where it came from...
Kyle: [suspiciously] What's that supposed to mean?
Katrina: [surprised] Don't you know?
Kyle: Enlighten me...
Katrina: [seriously] The day after Raines and the other died, I had Angelo come with me into Raines' rooms, after I had disengaged the security systems. I knew that everyone would be at home in 'mourning' - or otherwise - and so I did a search. We found a whole stack of the purple notebooks - and a few DSAs which had been deleted from the mainframe. They all showed Miss Parker doing SIMs as a small girl. In the pile was a notebook - a diary of the SIMs done. Miss Parker was under Raines' care but [she plucks the notebook out of the air and opens it to the last page] "The subject was found to be unable to carry out basic SIMs. It therefore appears as though blood-type is not the only consideration when developing these highly skilled people. The Parker subject will be required to undergo several sessions of re-education so that she can learn about the 'real' events of the past few months. It may, however, be possible later to utilize the extreme aggression and determination that these experiments have developed in her. [we see Kyle's eyebrows go up] Of necessity, she must gradually be introduced to the world outside the Centre and subsequently kept away from the other, successful subjects - Subject Jarod, Subject Kyle, Subject Timmy, Subject Dannie and the others, regardless of their success levels. It may be possible for her to renew her communications with them at some later date." Along the bottom of the page is a black stamp - "Experiment Terminated". Otherwise there are only details about what SIMs were performed and their external possible uses. None of them were completed successfully enough to be offered externally - that goodness.
Kyle: Why didn't I found out about this?
Katrina: [sweetly] As I said to Jarod one day, you, and he, are male.
Kyle: [sitting up indignantly] Your point being...?
Katrina: [even more sweetly] You don't have the feminine instinct that allows you to...[her following words are muffled by a cushion thrown with deadly aim by Kyle] Oh, grow up!
Kyle: [sarcastically] I can Pretend to do many things but I think I need a planning permit from somewhere to grow up now!
Katrina: [warningly] Watch it, or that cushion's coming back to where it came from - in its constituent parts and original form!
Kyle: I'd like to see that! [he is then forced to avoid a duck which is flying straight at his head. It disappears through the wall] Okay, okay! I suppose that cushion couldn't have been stuffed with feather and down, could it?
Katrina: [who hasn't moved and is smiling sweetly (smirking) at him] I suppose it could be possible. [menacingly] Now, do you want the rest or will you behave?
Kyle: [childishly] I'll be good, I'll be good! [suddenly sarcastic] But, one question. Shouldn't younger sisters be nice to older brothers and respect them and...
Katrina: [as she pours his drink over his head] Oh, get a life. How am I supposed to threat you with respect when you act like a six-year-old?
Kyle: Look at the mess you made! Oh, and that was Jarod's last Dr Pepper!
Katrina: So go and buy him another one, like the good younger brother that you are! [as she surveys the mess] It's lucky that only we can see that! Well, get licking and you could clean it up in a matter of minutes! I'll actually go to the effort of buying him the drink, if you'll do that.
Kyle, grumbling, gets down on his knees. Katrina checks that there is enough money in her purse before heading out of the door. We zoom in on Jarod's face and see that he is smiling slightly.
Sydney's office, the next morning
Sydney is working at his desk when Miss Parker bounces indignantly into the room.
Miss Parker: [straight to the point, as usual] Syd, I received a call from your darling protégé last night!
Sydney: [politely] Good morning, Miss Parker. Yes thank you, I'm very well. I hope you are the same. [he resumes his work]
Miss Parker: [with a groan] Oh, God, not you too!
Sydney: [virtuously] I have no idea what you're talking about.
Miss Parker: [aggressively] So it's just coincidence that you try to change my manner of speech the morning after your overgrown Boy Scout tries to change my phone manner?
Sydney: [sweetly] Personally, I would have said improve rather than change but, I suppose...
Miss Parker: [snarling] Oh, drop it. So, if you've already spoken to him this morning, then enlighten me as to the truth regarding his sister.
Sydney: [innocently] What on earth would make you think that Jarod and I have had a discussion this morning?
Miss Parker: Oh, this and that. Now [leaning forward threateningly] tell me what you discussed...
Jarod's lair that morning
Jarod comes out from the bathroom in shorts and with a towel draped around his shoulders. The sun is visible through the bathroom window as he opens the door and his wet hair glistens in the orange light. The room becomes dark as he closes the door behind him. He heads towards the kitchen and we see him open the fridge. He takes a can of Dr Pepper out and is about to absent-mindedly close the fridge door again when he stops and takes a second look. The camera zooms in over his shoulder and we can see that the entire fridge is stocked with cans of Dr Pepper - except for one spot at the front which is filled by a can of Diet Coke. There is an elastic band holding a note to the Diet Coke can with his name written on the front of it. Jarod takes the can of Dr Pepper, the can of Diet Coke and a glass and sits on the couch. He opens the Dr Pepper and fills his glass. Then he takes the note off the Diet Coke can and reads it. We can hear Katrina's voice.
"Should you really drink any of this stuff at this ungodly hour of the morning?"
In shock, Jarod checks his digital watch. We see that it is only 06:30. Jarod looks at the note again and then suspiciously around the room. Grinning, he then raises the glass in mock salute to an invisible person, only to have the smile wiped off his face as the can of Dr Pepper lifts itself off the table and spills onto a plastic sheet which has mysteriously appeared on the floor. Written in the spilled drink appear the words:
"No, I didn't think so!"
Sydney's office, later that day.
Sydney has left for the day but Miss Parker, having received permission to check around, has used her skeleton key to enter and, with Broots, is looking through the desk. They have already found the photos which Katrina gave Sydney. This has cooled even Miss Parker's ardor. However she is still determined to know why he will not betray Jarod. Finally, amid a pile of notes on various subjects, they find a letter. Miss Parker begins to read it aloud but it is quickly possible to hear Katrina's voice take over the narration.
I am writing this to you having just written a long letter to Jarod, so I hope you will forgive me if my strength runs out before I finish it. I know now that I will not have the inner strength or the courage to ask you this for myself and so my memory must speak for me.
I know that you have so far kept the promise I asked you to make regarding Jarod's safety while he is here in Australia. I must apologize for having virtually tricked you into making it by giving you the option of that or instant arrest, although perhaps you did not realize that there was another option at the time...
However I trust that you will respect the family connection and not betray your nephew, even though there is only a connection by distant marriage and not a blood relation, as you are to me. I apologize also for not telling you the truth many times while I was working at the Centre, but, knowing and understanding your devotion, both to the Centre and to your work there, you must realize that such information would have been a complete betrayal, both of my family and of myself. The Centre, of course, has my true address and, had I told you what I wanted to, it is possible that others may have gone to my home and taken the other members of my family. I know that little is sacred within the Centre itself, except what Raines and the others chose was to be kept that way.
It is perhaps time for me to admit to you that I was partly responsible for what happened to Raines, Mr Lyle and Bridget. If you chose to pass this information onto Miss Parker or any other person whom you trust, I beg you to tell them that my own investigation showed that it was Mr Raines who was responsible for the death of Catherine Jameson-Parker. However, as I think you yourself have discovered, he was not Jarod's father. It was Raines who persuaded and blackmailed Mr Fenigor into lying to Miss Parker that day. Having been a witness to Raines' murder of Catherine Parker he was so terrified that he would perform any dirty work Raines wanted him for. A hefty pay-out each week helped to ensure that Raines could control him in any way he wished.
I only wish that my action against Raines could have saved Fenigor's life but, sadly, that was not possible. However I wished to stop the crimes he had been perpetrating against so many - Jarod, Kyle, Angelo, Dannie, Miss Parker and the rest. I did not perform the act myself but there are many people who will do anything for money and they are not difficult to find - just ask Jarod. He became a hit-man for a time and I heard about it from the person who actually pulled the trigger which robbed the Centre of its leaders. Mr Parker's death, unfortunately, was an act of nature, when the stress became too much. He, you may have understood, was blamed by the Tower for the death of Raines and the others.
Syd, I wish that it was possible for me to have time enough to get to know you as my uncle. As everything you have done for Jarod and the others shows, you would have made a fantastic great-uncle to any children I may have been destined to have. I only hope that, one day, Jarod may find a person willing to make him truly happy and that you may get the chance to exhibit your skills in that direction. Should Miss Parker perhaps be witness to this letter at some stage, I hope that she will forgive me for the unpleasant events, instigated by myself, which happened to her in her search, both for Jarod and myself. I hope that she will also understand that the only people who have really caused her harm are now deceased, viz. Mr Raines, Mr Parker and also her brother, Mr Lyle. Jarod, I can assure her, is in no way responsible for the crimes she believes him capable of. I do not know if she will believe me, without proof, when I say that I know she was just as much a victim of the Centre's activities as Jarod was.
My dear uncle, I am sorry that I do not have the strength to continue. I suspect that Jarod will not be able to remain in the current environment and, although I doubt he realizes it, I am not sure I would survive if I knew that anything serious had happened to him before I went. That is the reason behind the extradition order which has kept the other Centre operatives out of Australia. I can only hope that you, too, will remain safe and happy.
I am honored to have met, worked with and been related to you, Sydney. I love you.
The two in the office stand silent for a moment before a noise in the doorway makes them spin around. Sydney is standing there with tears streaming down his cheeks. Miss Parker makes a small sound in his throat before going to him and putting her arms around him. In an almost automatic reaction, he hugs her back before gently releasing himself and sitting in the chair behind the desk. He rapidly clears the desk of its papers, by which time Miss Parker and Broots are seated in chairs on the other side of the desk.
Sydney: [gently] Are you happy now? Now you know what I've been hiding ever since I got back?
Miss Parker: [haltingly] Syd, I didn't realize...I mean...I...
Sydney: [interrupting] She was the daughter of a brother of mine who was born before my parent got married and was adopted out to an Australian family. To cut a long story short, Katrina and Jarod's mother married my brother.
Broots: [curiously] Does this mean that Jarod is...
Sydney: [finishing for him] My nephew? No. Not biologically. His father was an anonymous donor from the Centre. However Katrina was born to my brother and his wife.
Miss Parker: [understanding] And so she worked here...?
Sydney: [nodding] To try and find her brothers. Yes. Unfortunately she did not succeed and so my brother never got to know his step-son before he was killed by the Centre people who were sent to Australia in 1997, remember?
Miss Parker: [who has been trying to understand what she read in the letter about her mother] Is she right? About Raines and my mother, I mean.
Sydney: [gently] Yes. I looked through some of the DSAs in Raines' room after he died and there was proof there that Raines killed your mother. She found out while she was still working here and, I suppose, was the one who left the anonymous tip suggesting that I go through Raines' room. She's also right about the fact that Raines is not Jarod's father. I ran some tests during the autopsy and proved that, just as she must have...
Miss Parker: [softly] She's right, you would have made a fantastic great-uncle to any of her kids.
Sydney: [ignoring this] Somehow she also knew exactly what Jarod was going to do and what was going to happen. After Jarod became upset and left, there was a report on the radio that the plane he would logically have been on had crashed into the ocean. She must have been in the kitchen when the report came over the radio because a neighbor, who went to borrow something, found her there several hours later. [Sydney takes a long, shaky breath] She died the next day.
Miss Parker: [softly] Did he ask Katrina to marry him?
Sydney: [sadly] Yes, but she always said no. Of course, she knew about the family connection and, at that point, he didn't, but she also knew that, with so little time left, it would not be fair on either of them to marry.
Miss Parker: [curiously] Is that why he asked me so many questions about marriage?
Sydney: [firmly] Probably. You’re the only 'normal' female he knows well enough to ask questions like that - always providing you give him a sensible answer.
Miss Parker blushes red and turns her head away. Sydney opens a drawer and takes out the photo Katrina had left for him after her death. He lies the photo in front of him on the desk
Miss Parker: [softly] She looks a little like you - they both do.
Sydney: [not hearing this] Jarod, for the first time, was truly and deeply in love with someone that could understand him totally. He could imagine settling down with this person to a proper life, in a place where they wouldn't be bothered by the Centre, particularly as Katrina worked in Australian embassies all over the world before she got sick. They would have both been perpetually on the move, a situation perfect for them both. His heart broke when she died and I doubt if he will ever get over that.
We see the scene in Sydney's office, looking closely at each person and their reactions. Sydney is weeping again as he remembers his niece. Broots looks awkward as he glances from Sydney to Miss Parker. And Miss Parker herself looks from the letter she still holds in her hand to the photo lying on the desk in front of Sydney. As the song progresses we cut to Jarod, sitting in the basket chair in his room. His head is resting on the back of the chair, his eyes are open, staring at the ceiling, and his lap is full of the things that Katrina had given him. Katrina, we can see, is again stretched out on the couch and smiling gently at him. Gradually the two scenes are superimposed, cutting out Miss Parker and Broots, until it appears that the three people are again together in one room, before fading to black
A New Pretender
Part 3: The Final Say by KB
Part 3: The Final Say
Jarod is sitting in the same position that he was at the end of the last story. However, Katrina does not appear to be around as far as we can see.
Jarod: [aloud] I don't know if you can hear me or not, but I really want you to know this. I never had the nerve to tell you this but you were right. About everything. I did blame you for going - for 'leaving me alone'. I can appreciate that you didn't do it deliberately but, until I talked properly to Syd, I couldn't understand that. I...[a tear slides down his cheek] I do love you. I think you know that. But, now, I understand that why you couldn't do that...
Katrina: [appearing suddenly on the couch, although Jarod cannot see her and we then understand that we have been seeing the room from Jarod's perspective] I know, Jarod...I know. [she then disappears]
Miss Parker's office, the next morning
Miss Parker enters her office and sits down in her chair, careful not to let it slide across the room. She opens the first drawer in her desk and prepares to slam it shut again, but she stops. We see her pick something out of the drawer and flip through it. She drops it on the floor and races out of the room. We hear her calling for Broots as she runs down the corridor. We focus in on the book and see that it is a purple notebook with "M. Parker" written in a childish hand on the front cover. Out of the shadows Katrina appears and, scooping up the book, makes a hasty retreat, although we can see that she is still in the room.
Miss Parker and Broots come into the room, Miss Parker with her gun drawn and looking closely around. Her first action is to go around and collect the notebook. She is stunned when it is not there to be collected. As Miss Parker questions Broots as to its possible location, we see Katrina standing with her arms folded and the purple notebook dangling from her fingers, a grim smile on her face.
Miss Parker: [worriedly] Syd, I'm telling you, that book was there. It had my name on it, in my handwriting...
Sydney: [firmly] Parker, there is no possible was for that book to have disappeared. It must be still there - if you actually saw it...
Miss Parker: I saw it, touched it...
Sydney: [with a wry smile] Tasted it, smelled it and heard it too, I suppose?
Miss Parker: [angrily] It's not funny!
Sydney: [thoughtfully] Maybe Angelo took it. He likes hoarding things.
Miss Parker: [looking relieved at such a simple solution as she leaves] Maybe he did...
Sydney: [to himself] And maybe he didn't...[aloud] Jarod, I wish I knew what you were playing at...
Jarod: [emerging from a corner under the window] I know nothing about this!
Sydney: [who is visibly shaken at the sound of his voice] I didn't know you were there! I was only talking to myself! You should warn me before you do that!
Jarod: So, who do you suppose is responsible?
Sydney: The only possibility is Angelo...
Hearing voices, Jarod withdraws into the shadows. Miss Parker appears, dragging Angelo after her. Broots trails behind. As the sun comes out from behind a cloud, the light falls on a previously dark corner of the room. The purple notebook is on the floor and we can see that it is at Katrina's feet. Angelo ambles over and picks it up.
Angelo: [picking up vibes from the book] I decide who lives or dies...I decide...[we see Katrina shaking her head in frustration as Sydney, Broots and Miss Parker look at each other in amazement]
Miss Parker, Sydney and Broots: [simultaneously] Kyle?!?!
Angelo: [murmuring] Big brother...big brother...[Katrina looks relieved]
Sydney: [turning pale] Oh my God! Katrina!
Miss Parker and Broots look at Sydney in amazement. Suddenly Miss Parker dives forward and snatches the notebook from Angelo. She flips through it and then tosses it aside.
Miss Parker: [relieved] It's more of Jarod's experiments!
Sydney: [abruptly] We never used books of that color!
Miss Parker is sitting on the couch, staring out of the window. Broots is sitting on a chair with his head in his hands and Sydney is looking at the photo on his desk. Katrina steps forward - still invisible to everyone in the room - and silently flips the pages of the book, which is lying on the floor, until the last page is showing. Then she moves across the room to where Jarod is hiding and silently opens the vent for him. He draws back momentarily before hoisting himself into it and disappears. Katrina reaches into the vent and draws out a package, which, being slightly open, reveal themselves as a pile of video cassettes. She then eases the vent door shut and stands in the corner, leaning against the wall with her arms folded.
Miss Parker: [walking slowly over and picking up the notebook, reading aloud] "The Parker subject..." "Parker subject"? Me...or Lyle?
Sydney: [rising and reading over her shoulder] "The Parker subject will be required to undergo several sessions of re-education so that she can learn about the 'real' events of the past few months." She? Well, it's certainly not Lyle! It has to be you!
Miss Parker: But, I was never a subject! I was only here because of my parents! I never did SIMs! Ever! My father would never have allowed me to be submitted to it!!
Broots: [reading over Miss Parker's other shoulder] "Of necessity, she must gradually be introduced to the world outside the Centre...It may be possible for her to renew her communications..." Well, if it wasn't you then whoever it was is very like you - must even have been here at the same time! There must be some records, somewhere. After all, there's proof of all the others so there must be something about you...[catching Miss Parker's eye]...her!
Sydney: Broots, go and make a complete search, now. We have to find out about this!
Broots leaves and, as Sydney and Miss Parker examine the notebook, we see Katrina move across to the video monitor in the room and put in the first of the cassettes. She starts up both it and the monitor. Sydney and Miss Parker spin around in shock as the first sounds emanate from the monitor.
On the screen, which, in a similar layout to those in Jarod's possession, shows a date and the message "For Centre Use Only", we see a young Miss Parker, sitting at a table, with a series of blocks in front of her. A man, with his back to the camera, is leaning over the desk and gives her a series of instructions. He then spins on his heel and walks out. As we view his face, we see that he is William Raines. The young Miss Parker stares blankly at the blocks for a moment before burying her face in her hands. For several minutes we see her cry and we can see the adult Miss Parker's face work with emotion as she looks at the younger version of herself. Sydney, too, is emotionally affected but we see his face change as the young Miss Parker on the screen straightens herself up and begins to build a house from the blocks. However she only has a few minutes for this before Raines returns and, slamming his fists on the table, obviously in a rage, destroys the fragile structure. As both Miss Parker's sob, the video is suddenly terminated by an unseen hand. In the silence, Miss Parker's gasps are painfully audible. Katrina is once more visible, standing next to the machine with the next tape in her hand. Her grim expression has now been replaced by a softer one. As Sydney comforts Miss Parker, Katrina changes the tapes and plays the one in her hand, which is unlike the others. The scene is as follows.
A black screen changes to a series of words: "Life of a Pretender". A figure appears, sitting at a desk similar to Sydney's. As the camera zooms in, we can see that it is Katrina.
Katrina: [firmly] Miss Parker. [the adult Miss Parker spins around in shock, as does Sydney] You will, by now, have viewed several hours of what, I must assure you, is genuine footage. Unfortunately those who could have proved the truth of this footage are now deceased. They are Mr William Raines and Mr Bobby Bowman, a.k.a. Mr Lyle. I must clarify a possible confusion here. Lyle is, after all, the same age as you, however his associations with the Centre and, above all, his close connection with Raines, means that the two of them have attempted, on several occasions to make use of the SIMs which you have not successfully completed. Mr Parker and your father, indeed, knew nothing of these experiments and your mother only became aware of them during the last hours of her life. No proof of your participation in the Pretender program exists outside theses tapes and the purple notebooks which were hidden together with these tapes. Searching in any way for such information would be futile. Raines knew the Centre computer system too well to allow for anything of this sort to be accessible. [Sydney has seated Miss Parker in a chair by this time and is standing behind her. Both stare, open-mouthed, at the screen] During my time at the Centre I was taken into the confidence of not only Mr Raines but also Tower executives and learnt a great deal about the workings of the Centre. I can only assure you that Mr Parker knew nothing about any of the activities in which you participated, believing that you were in the child-care centre in the next block. His daily routine was to bring you with him every morning and hand you over to Raines' henchman. It was his belief that you spent all day there, however they have no record of your existence. None of the "children" you believed were friends of yours at that time actually lived to see their first birthday, all dying of natural causes, and their names were used to convince you of an alternate life. Should you have searched for the names of these children, record of their birth exists but death records have all been completely destroyed. Many of those children were also products of NuGenesis.
Miss Parker, there is no reason for you to reproach Jarod, Sydney, Broots or any others who have been friendly to you for what has occurred. Through close questioning, I have been able to ascertain that neither Sydney nor any of the others knew nothing of what took place. Within the package containing the video cassettes I have enclosed all paperwork necessary to prove these facts to you. I know that you, Jarod, and many others associated with the Centre have all learnt that everything you were told was a lie, however I hope that you will realise that I was never really associated with the Centre and always had an alternative reason for my connection with it. I am not imbued with the common usage of deceit that was habit with those now deceased. I lack the courage to tell you this to your face, particularly because with such a medium as this, you are not able to interrupt. Equally, I was nervous of the possibility of you exposing me for what I am - one of those you seek - a Pretender.
The voice finishes speaking and, almost immediately, the screen fades to black and there is a subdued hum as the tape rewinds itself. Miss Parker sits in the chair where Sydney had placed her, her face pale with shock. She turns to Sydney but her eyes are distracted by a parcel that lies on his desk. Leaping at it, she tears off the brown paper wrapping, disclosing about a dozen videocassettes as well as several sheets of paper. She snatches up the first and reads it aloud.
Miss Parker: "Mmm Parker, Mother: Catherine Jameson, Father: Ben Miller - " [softly] So Jarod was right. Mr Parker [spitting the word] never was my father.
Miss Parker moves to a chair and slowly sinks into it. Sydney remains at the side of the desk. Slowly he extends his hand towards the machine and removes the cassette. We see him mouth the words "Thank you". He places the cassette on top of the existing pile before taking up the original purple notebook and glancing through it.
Sydney: What now?
Miss Parker: [coming out of her reverie] What do you mean "What now"?
Sydney: What are you waiting for? You made the comment after your fa...Mr Parker died that you only needed to know about your mother and you "wouldn't be seen for the dust". What are you waiting for now? [indicating] There's the door...
Miss Parker: I can't leave yet. There's still Jarod...
Sydney: Why are you worrying about him? You know he had nothing to do with anything, and there's your proof. [indicating the papers which Miss Parker has laid on his desk again]
Miss Parker: I have to keep up my end of the deal...
Sydney: Which deal? The one you made with the person who isn't your father and who never told you anything that wasn't a lie? That deal? To be honest, I think you've more than fulfilled your part of the bargain, Parker.
Miss Parker: [as she rises and walks distractedly towards the door, in muted tones] I have to finish the job my mother started...
Sydney: [as he turns away] For goodness sake...
Sydney's house, that evening
Sydney is talking to Jarod on the phone. As the conversation progresses, a split screen shows us the two men in their separate places. Sydney is sitting alone on a love seat on the porch of his house, looking at the stars. Jarod is sitting in front of his computer standing on a table near his bed.
Sydney: She's not leaving.
Jarod: [angrily] Why in God's name not? She's got all the answers she wants or needs! Why can't I have the chance of a normal life now that she knows what hers was like?
Sydney: [quietly] I think that's probably why...
Jarod: What do you mean?
Sydney: [softly] I mean that she probably wants to find out why she was exposed to those situations! You know, she never went into Raines' office after his death and it wasn't out of respect! She's using this idea of misguided loyalty to her mother's husband and using the memory of her mother to protect herself from the idea that she had a role similar to yours.
Jarod: [abruptly] How do you know all this?
Sydney: [reminiscently] Actually, it was something Katrina told me. Of course, she knew all this by the time she was talking to me about it but she made a lot of sense, even without me having the 'inside story', as such.
Jarod: [sadly] She always did make a lot of sense! Is it still all right for me to miss her Sydney? Is that okay?
Sydney: [gently] Jarod, I very much doubt if you will ever stop missing her and there's no harm in that. I miss her too.
Jarod: [abruptly changing the subject] So, what did she say to you about Miss Parker?
Sydney: She said that Miss Parker would never stop resenting you for having done what she couldn't and didn't do. She said that Miss Parker had suppressed those feelings so much that, even when she had the opportunity to leave, she probably wouldn't take it. She would have to make sure first that you have the opportunity to feel what she has been feeling for so long. Katrina also said that Miss Parker would never fully understand what you had gone through unless she could go through it as well. She also talked about the possibility that Miss Parker was jealous of what she would perceive as 'games' that you were always playing...
Jarod: [with a snort] Some games!
Sydney: [quietly] But that's what someone her age would have seen them as. As far as any of us, including herself, knew, she had never had the experience of what you went through. Of course, she could never be involved to the level that you or any of the others were. Raines' notes show us that!
Jarod: [after a pause] I met Miss Parker for the first time when I was ten years old. How long had she been at the Centre?
Sydney: [slowly] Longer than you. She must have been in and around the Centre her whole life. She's only three months younger than you, you know. According to the notebooks, she began doing experiments at about the same time you did.
Jarod: [firmly] Even so, she was lots luckier than any of the rest of us!
Sydney: [quietly] I don't know that I would consider exposure to the kinds of things she has lived through as something to be envious of!
Jarod: [slowly] I'm not jealous of her, but she wasn't a prisoner...
Sydney: Maybe not in the same way, but I believe that she was as much a prisoner as you were. And, in some ways, you're luckier than she is. At least you have a life now!
Jarod: [quietly] Is this a life?
Sydney: [counting off points on his fingers] Miss Parker has never experienced love, she never had any real friends and she is certainly a lot less free that you are, particularly in where she goes!
Jarod: [hesitatingly] Maybe...
Sydney: [firmly] If I had the choice, I'd rather be you!
Jarod: [softly] If I had the choice I wouldn't be either of us! [he hangs up]
Sydney: [into the phone] If wishes were horses, beggars would ride! [he hangs up]
Jarod's lair, the next day
The sun is slanting in through the window and across the bed, where Jarod lies, asleep. We see Kyle and Katrina sitting respectively on the couch and in the basket chair, as they had been previously.
Kyle: What now?
Katrina: [slowly] I suppose you're talking about the people here...?
Kyle: Who else would I be talking about?
Katrina: [ignoring what she rightly perceives to be a rhetorical question] I don't know that they really need to know anything else! [laughing] I have to leave them something else to find out about!
Kyle: [slowly] You...mean...there's more?
Katrina: [patiently] Kyle, with a place like the Centre, there's always more to find out! After all, it's been around for so long...
Kyle: [brutally] So now you're just going to disappear?
Katrina: [surprised] Hey, at least I did what I could! Other people I could mention have done nothing for those left behind!
Kyle: [grinning] That meant for me? What could I have done?
Katrina: [seriously] Got me in contact with Jarod and Sydney earlier, for a start!
Kyle: Well, I suppose it's time to go...[he stands up and stretched himself]
Katrina: [standing also] Wait, just a sec.
Katrina walks over to the bed and leans over it. As she does so, we see Jarod's eyes fly open and he rapidly sits up, bumping his head on her chin as he does so. However he does not seem to register that it should have hurt.
Jarod: [jumping up] Wait!
Katrina: [smiling] What for?
Jarod: [collapsing into a chair which is standing beside the bed] Why do you have to leave?
Katrina: [softly] You no longer need me - us.
Jarod: Like you said, Kyle hasn't done much!
Kyle: [grinning, to Katrina] I never had anything like the influence over him that you did!
Jarod: Why was that anyway?
Kyle: Oh, I was never much use to anyone! I never made that much difference, anyway!
Jarod: So you said to Lyle just before he shot you, but I never believed it!
Katrina: [firmly] Neither did I! We've all made a difference in our own way. But Jarod [turning to him and taking his hands in hers] if we stayed then your influence wouldn't be as great. You need to be just as independent as you ever were and hanging onto the coat-tails of someone in my position is not at all helpful! Anyway, we have to go!
Jarod: [curiously] Why can I see you now when I couldn't do so before?
Katrina: [laughing] Does your head hurt?
Jarod: [wonderingly] What does that have to do with anything?
Katrina: [smiling] If you were actually living this, you would have a very sore head right now!
Kyle: [impatiently] Katrina, we have to go! [facing Jarod, giving him a half-salute] See you later big brother! [he fades away]
Katrina: Ok, I'll be there in one second! [turning to Jarod and kneeling in front of him] Jarod, this conversation will appear as a dream to you. But what I want you to know and always remember is that, although I am not physically with you, I am always inside you! I love you from the bottom of my heart and I am more yours now than when I was alive. Your conversations with Sydney have shown me that you will gradually overcome the events of the past few months and continue to live as you have done before. [the light in the windows have become stronger] Jarod, I have to go but I will be waiting for you when you come to me again! [her voice begins to fade] Jarod - I love you! [she disappears]
Jarod is again lying on his bed and his eyes are open, staring at the ceiling. He puts up his hand and rubs the top of his head absent-mindedly with one hand. Suddenly Jarod sits bolt upright and stares across at the couch. His eyes slowly fill with tears as he recalls the conversation and he slowly stretches out his hand for the phone.
Sydney is sitting at his desk at home, looking through the purple notebooks. Suddenly his phone rings.
Sydney: This is Sydney.
Jarod: [sadly] She's gone.
Sydney: [whose mind is still on Miss Parker] Who? Miss Parker?
Jarod: [impatiently] No! Katrina...
Sydney: [patiently and gently] Jarod, she has been gone for weeks. Haven't you realized that?
Jarod: Syd, for God's sake, I know that! I mean that she has gone - moved on! She said it's up to us to find out things now!
Sydney: What do you...
Jarod: I mean that she has really been here helping us, up till now!
Sydney: [stuttering slightly] But Jarod, you said yourself that you had dreamt the conversations you thought she had with Kyle in front of you! There's no physical way she could have been here!
Jarod: [patiently] Syd, you told me about the thing with the videos yourself. How was it possible for that video to start exactly then, particularly considering you told me yourself that you had never seen it before!
Sydney: [firmly] Angelo! And a remote control!
Jarod: [slightly crestfallen] Well, maybe...
Sydney: [patiently] Jarod, in my profession there's no room to believe in the supernatural! I have to concentrate on facts and physical evidence, not some dream that you want to believe actually occurred!
Jarod: [sadly] You never did have any imagination...[he hangs up]
Jarod's new profession - an undertaker.
Jarod enters the door of the building and rapidly walks down the hallway. As he passes the doorway leading to the office of his new boss, a voice hails him.
Peter: Jarod? Could you come in here? There's someone I want you to meet.
Jarod: [as he enters the room] Good morning Mr Steele. How are you?
Peter: Very well thanks. Jarod, I'd like you to meet Louise Parkinson. She has just been transferred here from one of our other offices. She will be working with you for a few months. [Louise has until now been standing at the window with sun behind her. As she moves forward to shake hands, Jarod catches his breath. He instantly recognizes the flowing brown hair and the laughing brown eyes] Why don't you two go and get to know each other?
The two walk slowly down the hall towards Jarod's office. Neither have spoken. Jarod looks mystified and Louise's eyes sparkle with mischief. Jarod opens the door and they both enter. Louise takes a seat in front of the desk and Jarod, after closing the door, walks around the desk and sits behind it.
Louise: [before Jarod could speak, still with suppressed mischief in her eyes] You know, you're taller than she said you were. But maybe that's the suit.
Jarod: [confused] Is that your real name?
Louise: [laughing] Do you mean am I actually called Katrina? [serious] No, Jarod. I'm sorry but I'm not her. However she did tell me all about you just before she died.
Jarod: [hesitatingly] Why didn't she tell me about you?
Louise: There seemed such a slight chance that we would meet. We discussed it but decided that, on the off chance that we should ever end up working together, this could be a pleasant surprise for you. She told me a lot about you.
Jarod: Can I trust you?
Louise: Could you trust her? If I didn't betray her then why would I betray you?
Jarod: True. [There is a moment of silence then Louise stands up]
Louise: [brightly] Well, I believe we have work to do. Can you show me to my office?
Jarod: Sure. [they both exit the room]
Sydney's office, the next day
Miss Parker is sitting in Sydney's desk chair and Sydney is pacing around the room. They are discussing Jarod's last phone call. Miss Parker is of the opinion that Jarod has lost his mind due to the pressure he is under, Sydney is less sure. Suddenly Sydney's phone rings. Miss Parker answers it.
Miss Parker: [sharply] What?
Jarod: Sorry, did I ring the wrong number?
Miss Parker: No, Jarod. Actually we were just talking about you.
Jarod: [brightly] Really? My ears weren't burning!
Miss Parker: [not understanding; suspiciously] What have your ears got to do with anything?
Jarod: [lightly] Oh, haven't you heard that saying? Louise here taught it to me. When someone is talking about you, your ears are supposed to burn!
Miss Parker: [impatiently] What are you talking about?
Jarod: Never mind! I hope you weren't saying anything bad about me...?
Miss Parker: [mockingly] Well, if being of the opinion that you are going insane is bad then...
Jarod: Oh, never mind. Miss Parker, do you believe in reincarnation?
Miss Parker: [shocked] You are insane!
Jarod: Actually, I was trying to ask a serious question!
Miss Parker: Interested in my religion, now?
Jarod: [slightly frustrated] Just answer the question!
Miss Parker: [harshly] No! Now are you satisfied?
Jarod: Ask Sydney.
Miss Parker: [with a sigh, to Sydney] Do you believe in reincarnation?
Sydney: [taking the phone] Jarod, why are you asking these questions?
Jarod: [impatiently] Just answer!
Sydney: [slowly] Well, I never really thought about it, but probably not. As I said before - I believe in facts and figures and...
Jarod: [finishing for him] And physical evidence, not dreams! I still say you have no imagination! [he hangs up]
Sydney: [to Miss Parker, with the phone still in his hand] What was all that about?
Jarod's office, a couple of weeks later
Jarod, having successfully completed his Pretend at the mortuary, is packing his things and preparing to leave when Mr Steele calls him in. With a sigh, Jarod walks down the hall to the office.
Peter: Jarod, sorry to disturb you but have you seen Louise today? She hasn't turned up for work and that's not like her!
Jarod: No, sir. Sorry but I haven't spoken to her since yesterday.
Peter: She must be at home, sick or something. Never mind. Look, I have to go and see a client and Mary Brown has gone home. Can you take charge for a few hours? The security staff are floating around, but no-one else is available.
Jarod: No problem.
The hall of the mortuary, two hours later
Jarod is standing at the open doorway which leads to the fire escape. The haliburton case stands on the floor next to him. He is humming while he looks over the city. Suddenly a noise behind him makes his spin around.
Miss Parker: [with her gun drawn and aimed at him] Well Jarod, here we are again! And this time there's no girl to protect you.
As she moves forward and slightly sideways, we can see that Louise is being held by several sweepers. She doesn't struggle but looks directly ahead at Miss Parker. There is a look of peace on her face which changes to frustration as Jarod continues to stand in the doorway.
Louise: [shouting, with urgency] Jarod, go! I'll be fine, just get out of here now!
Jarod takes one more, doubtful look but grabs the case and starts down stairs. Miss Parker moves forward but, before she can fire, Louise throws herself forward and knocks the gun away with her shoulder. As Louise is lying on the ground Miss Parker turns and fires at her. Louise throws her legs up just in time to be shot in the leg and not the stomach. Jarod stands, uncertain, on the steps but Louise faces him and mouths the word "Go". With a final look, he bolts down the staircase. Miss Parker, having turned her attention from Louise, finally realizes that he is gone.
Miss Parker: [rushing to the doorway] Didn't any of you fools see where he went?
Willie: We were all watching you, Miss Parker.
Miss Parker: [when she realizes the fire escape is empty] All right, let's go.
Willie: [Louise is lying on the floor, with her eyes closed. Blood from her leg is now on the chest of her t-shirt and it looks like the bullet went straight through] What about the girl?
Miss Parker: Leave her. She can think about her actions while lying here and bleeding. This is a mortuary, they're used to death!
Miss Parker and the sweepers exit the building. Louise is left lying on the floor.
At a car-producing factory, several weeks later.
Jarod is acting foreman at the factory for a few weeks while the real foreman is ill. On his second day at work he is walking among the workers while discussing her future with his second-in-command.
Jarod: So, tomorrow you're off for two weeks? Sounds like a great holiday.
Heather: [smiling slightly] Well, actually a second honeymoon...
Jarod: [puzzled] What happened to the first one?
Jarod's office, an hour later
Jarod is sitting at his desk, filling out some paperwork. His secretary buzzes him in the intercom.
Secretary: Sir, Heather has brought her temporary fill-in to meet you
Jarod: Show them in.
Jarod's door swings open and Heather comes in, with someone behind her.
Heather: Sorry, sir. I can't stay. I just wanted to bring my temp in to meet you. This is Louise Appleton. [she moves to one side and we can see that it is Louise from the mortuary] Excuse me, sir [she leaves the room]
Jarod: [who hasn't really noticed who it is] Please, sit down.
Louise pulls up and chair and waits for Jarod to recognize her. This happens quickly.
Jarod: [in amazement] Can I have some sort of explanation for what is going on?
Louise: [smiling slightly] No-one dies from a bullet wound to the leg, not with modern medicine.
Jarod: [curiously] What are you doing here now?
Louise: [laughing] I could ask you the same question!
Jarod: [frustrated] You know all about me, but what about you? What are you?
Louise: That's a strange thing for a person like you to ask!
Jarod: [amazed] You're a Pretender...?
Louise: [smiling[ Only part time. I try to hold down a full-time job but Katrina asked me to get in touch with you, so I did!
Jarod: [concerned] But, how did you get away from Miss Parker and her mob?
Louise: After she shot me, I feigned unconsciousness. No-one wants to be seen carrying a body out of a mortuary and so I figured they would leave me there. And I was right! So I waited until Mr Steele returned and then told him that people had come in and started shooting. Also that you had chased them away and hadn't come back. Voila, end of story!
Jarod: But, really, who are you?
Louise: I was one of the children on the original Pretender program. I was in Jacob's care and, one night, he and Miss Parker's mother had me spirited out of the Centre. I wasn't being particularly helpful as far as the simulations went and, instead of telling Raines, Jacob set me free. I suppose he told Raines I'd died or something. Anyway, they've never really pursued me until recently and, anyway, they were trying to get you, not me...
The Centre, several months later
Miss Parker is pacing the roof, smoking one of her cigarettes. Sydney comes out onto the roof.
Sydney: [politely] I'm glad to see you took the WorkCare warning so seriously. I would hate to think that everyone in the building has to die of passive smoking because of you.
Miss Parker: [blowing smoke in his face] Oh, shut up Syd!
Sydney: [coughing gently] Any more news about Jarod?
Miss Parker: [annoyed] No!
Sydney: [with polite interest] Do you think we're any closer to catching him?
Miss Parker: [icily] Syd, you know damn well that whenever we're within grasping range, that bitch comes and spoils everything! She's got more lives than a cat! I must have shot her at least ten times!
Sydney: [grinning] Maybe she's related to Lyle...and you! You can see the similarities!
Jarod's latest lair, a month later
Jarod is sitting at his computer. He picks up a red notebook and glances through it before tossing it back onto the bed with a decided nod. He turns back to the computer but, before he can start typing, he is distracted by thoughts of Louise. He realizes that he doesn't have the feelings for her that he had for Katrina, but he is beginning to depend on her for help and to get him out of difficult situations. He recalls all of the times in the recent months that she had come to his rescue, often only to be injured herself! Of course, the situations didn't only include altercations with Centre personnel, but also those involved in the various Pretends he had enacted. He smiled as he began various searches involved with his current situation. It had always amazed him that she could appear whenever he needed her and also that she could turn up, perfectly all right, immediately afterwards in a new situation. However he had begun to gradually recognize the differences between the two women who meant so much to him. He was often shocked by the childishness Louise often displayed, as well as the games she delighted in. Of the two, he still felt closer to Katrina, but the sting of her death was less painful now than it had been and he had begun to feel that he could get on with his life again, properly.
Jarod moves over to his bed and sits on the edge. He picks up the wedding photo which, somehow, still exists. After looking at it again, he replaces it on the bedside table and lies on his back on the bed. With a sigh he closes his eyes and drifts into the memories.
When somebody begins calling his name, Jarod moves his head uneasily on the pillow. He groans as he feels pain begin throbbing in his head and he can see light on the other side of his closed eyelids. Again he hears a voice insistently calling his name.
Katrina: [quietly] Jarod? [more insistently] Jarod, come on. Time to wake up now. [she shakes him gently] Come on Jarod, open you eyes.
Jarod opens his eyes and, in the dim light, struggles to recognize a familiar face. He tries to sit up but a hand restrains him and he sinks back onto the pillows.
Jarod: Katrina? [he licks his dry lips] What are you doing here? You're supposed to be...[his voice breaks and Katrina holds a glass of water to his lips; he drinks as she supports his head with her hand, in a stronger voice] What's going on? What am I doing here?
Katrina: [gently] Jarod, it's okay. You were having a little adventure, that's all, and got a bit carried away. [she rises from the bed and takes the glass to be refilled]
Sydney: [laughing] And then she saved your life...
Jarod struggles to turn his head, despite the pain that shoots through him, and he sees Sydney standing in the doorway of his room, smiling at him. In instant panic, he strives to get up and flee but is unable to move, except to lift his head and shoulders off the bed. Katrina returns to the bedside and, putting a glass on the table, prevents him from getting up.
Jarod: [in confusion] But, what's going on? I should be far away from here! You...you...[he realizes the impossibility of what he is about to say and stops himself] What happened?
Sydney: You got a little involved with Miss Parker, that's all.
Jarod: [startled] Miss Parker? She's here? [in panic he again struggles to rise and, as Katrina has briefly left the room again, it is up to Sydney to prevent him from moving] Why are you doing this? Am I back at the Centre?
Sydney: [firmly] No...no, you're not. This is Katrina's house, in Australia, and I'm the only Centre personnel within an eighteen hour plane journey. [smiling] So, for heaven's sake stop struggling or Katrina will give you more of that potent medication you've been enjoying for the past few weeks!
Jarod: [in amazement] What do you mean?
Sydney: [shocked] You don't remember?
Jarod: [drily] Humor me.
Jarod's room, the next day
Jarod is asleep on the bed when Katrina walks in and begins to open the curtains
Katrina: [brightly] Good morning sleepy-head! Time to rise and shine!
Jarod: [yawning and sleepily rolling over] What time is it?
Katrina: Twenty past ten! More than time for you to be getting up! You aren't actually sick any more, you know! And I won't treat you as though you are. The shower is through there [pointing through a half-open doorway] and there are clean towels on the rail. Breakfast in half an hour!
She leaves the room and Jarod gradually pulls himself out of bed. He moves towards the window and looks out. It is not the landscape he remembers from his last lair in the US but a view of a pool in a back garden remembers well. With a sigh of relief he moves towards the shower.
Sydney and Katrina are sitting at the table, with a sumptuous breakfast spread out around them. Sydney is looking through the paper.
Sydney: [folding the newspaper with a luxurious sigh] It's lucky you got rid of them now!
Katrina: [quietly] You've forgotten something really important...
Sydney: [quickly] What's that?
Katrina: [sitting back in her chair] Just the date their Visas expired. Those dates are actually pretty easy to change - if you know the right people!
Sydney: [suspiciously] What about mine?
Katrina: [laughing] You have an Australian niece. You figure it out. [as Jarod walks through the door] Hello again. You look better than you did yesterday. In fact, you look almost human again!
Sydney: [concerned] How do you feel?
Jarod: [brightly] Fantastic! Like I've been asleep for weeks [Sydney and Katrina exchange amused glances] and I'm back firing on all cylinders again. [Katrina looks relieved as she begins to serve out breakfast for herself]
Sydney: [catching Katrina's glace] Is that good?
Katrina: [brusquely, as she begins to eat] Better than I could have hoped for!
Jarod: [suspiciously] What are you talking about?
Katrina: [lightly] Just that you need to be kept under fairly close medical attention for the next few weeks to make sure that no permanent damage was caused...[as Jarod is still standing] You can sit down. It's as cheap as standing. You can also eat if you want. My prices aren't too exorbitant! Ask Syd. He's been living off me for the last...little while.
Sydney: [as he begins to eat; to Jarod who pulls out a chair and sits down] She's a great cook!
Jarod: [with a full plate but before he starts eating] Right! Who's going to be the first person to tell me what I've missed! It's obviously important and everyone seems to be in the know except poor little me!
Katrina: [firmly] After breakfast. First eat, then talk!
Katrina's lounge room, where she and Jarod shared the drink
Sydney is sitting in an armchair and Jarod is lying on the couch as Katrina takes his blood pressure and pulse. She records the figures on a chart and sits in the other armchair with the papers on her lap.
Jarod: So, who's going first? [Katrina and Sydney exchange glances, Sydney nods]
Sydney: [teasingly] I think we should get to ask the first question, don't you Kat?
Katrina: [laughing] I think that's fair!
Jarod: [impatiently] Hold on here! I've obviously missed some time here and there's some great joke that I know nothing about and you think you should get to ask the first question? [sarcastically] That's really fair!
Sydney: [laughing] You're outnumbered Jarod! Two to one!
Jarod: [resignedly] Okay, shoot!
Sydney: What do you remember of the...recent events?
Jarod: [rolling his eyes] You mean before or after Miss Parker stuck her gun in my neck?
Sydney: [looking slightly startled] Um...after.
Jarod: [looking at the ceiling] I could hear everything that was being said but I didn't have the energy or the will to actually look around. Eventually somebody picked me up and I...I don't remember anything else.
Katrina: [with a sigh] Yes, that's normal for this type of thing!
Jarod: My turn! [looking at Katrina] Who...what are you? I mean, one minute you're talking to me about dying from cancer and - I have to admit - looking pretty convincing and the next you're acting like a fully trained heart surgeon! You're acting's pretty good but...
Katrina: [with a smile] That wasn't acting! I believe the proper psychological term is Pretending - with a capital "P"!
Jarod: [stunned] You're not...!
Katrina: [demanding] Do you have a better explanation?
Jarod: Well no...[turning to Sydney] And where do you fit into this equation?
Sydney: [teasingly] That sounds like a supplementary question to me - but I'll answer it because I'm just such a nice guy! [seriously] I'm Kat's uncle! I had an older brother...
Jarod: [finishing]...that was born before your parents got married and was adopted, right? [Sydney and Katrina look stunned] It's just a guess really. I had the weirdest dreams! [to Katrina] I don't suppose we're related too?
Katrina: [shocked] God, no! What on earth makes you think that?
Jarod: [mumbling] Just an idea I had. [having a sudden thought] So, what's wrong with you anyway? Are you really sick? [as Katrina shakes her head and grins] So why say you are?
Katrina: [laughing] It was another Pretend I was involved in and, because Michael - you remember him? - was involved, I had to keep up the facade.
Jarod: [stunned] Then that faint was...?
Katrina: [grinning] Well, actually...yes… But Dr Harrison really did recognize you and I figured out pretty quickly who you were. I met a lot of really, genuinely sick people when I in the hospitals - people who really could be helped by you. I've tried but I'm not nearly as good it as you seemed to be! [smiling, but seriousness] You must really have a gift that way!
Sydney: [in tones of suppressed mirth] Or is he just Pretending? [he explodes into laughter]
Jarod: [confused] But what actually happened after you showed up at the hotel - how did you manage that, by the way?
Katrina: [surprised] What, to know what was going on? I have lots of little toys which tell me what's going on and the phone is only one of them! When you called, I simply kept the call connected and traced it to your hotel with my laptop. Then I marshaled my little troop of security guards and stormed the building. We gathered the sweepers together outside and then went into your apartment. That's where we found you!
Sydney: [grinning] And gave me the fright of my life!
Katrina: [apologetically] Yeah. Sorry Syd, but I couldn't do it any other way! Anyway, then Miss Parker and Broots were arrested and you were brought back here. You've been here about two weeks...
Jarod: [shocked] You mean I've been asleep for two weeks?!
Katrina: There was no other way to reverse the drug! I don't know if you remember from the time in you apartment but that drug has a negative effect on the heart and that's why it's banned in Australia. To help your heart recover, I had to give it complete rest - you must understand that!
Jarod: I see...So what else happened?
Sydney: [thoughtfully] Hmmm....Miss Parker, Broots and the others are just a little bit angry because Katrina here had them extradited...
Katrina: [smirking] And strip-searched!
Jarod: [reminiscently] Miss Parker seems to make a habit of it!
Sydney: [laughing] Yes, now she can hate you both equally!
Katrina: What...Oh, that's right! I remember now!
Jarod: [quickly] You were there?
Katrina: [looking at him] Where - the Centre? For a little while. How else would I have known to contact you? It's always nice to meet people who are similar to you in some way and so I got a job there, that's all. That's also how we were able to capture all of the sweepers - I have a pretty good idea of the orders they would have been given - having been one myself!
Jarod starts up, terror beginning to show in his eyes
Jarod: [anxiously] What is this then? An ambush?
Katrina: [rolling her eyes up to heaven] Oh, for...Absolutely not! If it were, do you think we'd be sitting here in this civilized manner, chatting like this?
Sydney: [as Jarod begins to relax] She's right Jarod. There is no danger of that sort. Here [handing him the paper] read this. Aloud, if you like.
Jarod: [reading] "Police smash American drug raid - gang extradited to the US" - Miss Parker a drug dealer?
Katrina: Well, the drug she used on you was illegal and besides, after a little persuasion, the judge agreed that extradition would be the safest option.
Jarod: [laughing] You do like to do things thoroughly, don't you?
Katrina: Well, we would hardly have been safe if she was still here, would we?
Jarod: [curiously] So what happens now?
Katrina: That's largely up to you. We keep you under 'medical supervision' - a.k.a. me - for the next few weeks until we're sure that the drug has had no long-lasting adverse affects and then you go back to the States and continue the complex game of cat-and-mouse with the Centre for the rest of your life. I stay here and play the game my way, without Centre interference. Pretty simple, huh?
Jarod: [looking at Sydney] And what about you?
Sydney: Once you're physically recovered, I go back to the US, and my work.
Jarod: [frustrated] But why? I mean, you could stay here and get a job doing child psychology in a safe environment, instead of going back to the Centre.
Sydney: [patiently] Jarod, there are other children under my care now, and, besides, I don't think I want the Centre chasing me and hunting me down because I don't return.
Jarod: [with a sad smile] Oh, I don't know. Sometimes it can be fun!
The beach, several months later
Jarod and Katrina are sitting on the sand, talking when Sydney walks up to them
Sydney: I thought I might find you both here.
Katrina: [cheerfully] Hey Syd.
Jarod: [curiously] What time does the flight leave?
Sydney: [sadly] Eleven o'clock tomorrow morning. By tomorrow night I'll be back home.
Katrina: Is that good or bad?
Sydney: [sitting down] I haven't quite decided.
Jarod: [jumping up] Do I hear the bell of a Mr Whippy ice-cream van? I'll be right back! [he runs off and Katrina and Sydney laugh]
Sydney: So what are your plans now?
Katrina: [stretching and yawning] I'm waiting for summons to the embassy in Germany which should come within the next few weeks and then I suppose we'll be off.
Sydney: [shaking his head] I still can't believe you wouldn't have a big wedding.
Katrina: [with an amused smile] Well, it certainly wasn't as big as the one Jarod dreamt of.
They both laugh as Jarod comes back and sits down. He gives Katrina one of the two ice-creams in his hand and begins on the other. Sydney looks at him distastefully.
Sydney: [distastefully] I still don't know how you can eat that stuff - either of you! It's disgusting!
Katrina: [in between mouthfuls] And I don't know how you can live without it!
Sydney: [wrinkling up his nose] But it melts all over your hands and gets onto your clothes and...
Jarod: [in serious tones, although his eyes are twinkling] You know, you're right! [handing his ice-cream to Katrina] Here, hold this. [he stands and strips off his t-shirt before sitting down again] There. [taking back the ice-cream; to Katrina] Thank-you. End of the problem and if it drips I'll just go for a swim and wash it off!
Sydney: [laughing] You baby! You are so childish sometimes! I never taught you to behave like that!
Jarod: True, but there are some other excellent teachers in the world [looking slyly at Katrina] and they taught me a lot as well!
Sydney: [as he stands up and stretches himself] Well, I have to go and pack.
Katrina: Come to dinner tonight at home, will you? [smiling] Then we can talk without Jarod making a pig of himself. [Sydney nods in agreement before walking off, laughing]
Sydney's office, the Centre, a year later
Sydney is sitting at his desk, looking at an email that has arrived for him.
Refuge. Syd, I'm writing to announce the arrival of two bouncing baby girls on Feb 14. at 15.20. Margaret Elizabeth - 6 pound 2oz and Emily Louise - 6 pound 1 oz. Mother and girls doing well. Happy Valentines Day. Love Jarod and Katrina.
Sydney smiles at the screen before answering the message.
Refuge. Jarod, my warmest congratulations. I must come and see them when I next get a break - and when I can find out exactly where you are! Notebook circulations are keeping everyone busy here! Miss Parker more frustrated than ever. Love Sydney.
Jarod and Katrina's room in the early morning, nine years later
Katrina is in bed, cradling the latest addition to the family and Jarod, Margaret and Emily, with their three brothers - Sydney, Jacob and Kyle - are sitting in various spots in the room. Everyone is talking together. Suddenly the sound of a doorbell echoes through the house.
Katrina: [tenderly] Kyle, liebling, answer the door. Come back up if it is important and your father can go down and deal with it.
Kyle: [standing up] Ja, Mamma. [he leaves the room but is back within a few minutes] Mamma, I think it is Sydney.
Katrina: [smiling] Wonderful! Jarod, dear, will you go and tell him I'll be down in a few minutes.
Jarod: [getting up] Sure thing. Kids, wait here and come down with your mother. [Jarod leaves the room and Katrina begins to get up]
Katrina: Girls, take Clare into her room and change her for me, will you? I must get dressed. Boys, you can also go and get dressed please, and then come back here! Don't go downstairs yet, please.
The hallway of the house
Sydney is standing by the front door and laughs as Jarod runs down the stairs, two at a time, from the upper level of the house. The two men embrace.
Sydney: You haven't changed at all! Even after ten years, I would have known you anywhere!
Jarod: [as he ushers Sydney into the lounge room where a bright fire keeps out the winter chill] And just why haven't you been to visit us before now, I'd like to know!
Sydney: Oh, I wanted to wait until the family was complete and now, with five children, [Jarod smiles slightly] I figured this would be a good time.
Jarod: [abruptly changing the subject] So, how's work?
Sydney: [brightly] It's great. You know, don't you, that three years ago we got a new head who took over from the Triumvirate and transformed the place?
Jarod: You said something about it at the time but you didn't give us many details.
Sydney: The place has been changed into a family planning clinic full-time. No more experiments or attempts at international dealings. [smiling] By the way, you two have been very successful at preventing those. The Triumvirate was furious the last time you interfered.
Jarod: [sarcastically] Well, we have to do something to maintain this exorbitant lifestyle, you know.
Sydney: [equally sarcastically] You know, I was always of the opinion that the Germans were the best-paid people in the world! [seriously] But, to continue. The search for Pretenders - and that includes you - has been totally abandoned. Miss Parker has left the Centre totally and, I believe, joined the navy.
Jarod: [chortling] Ah, so she found a use for some of that exorbitant energy, at last.
The two men laugh again and, as Katrina comes down the stairs with the members of the family clinging nervously to her skirts, she calls across the hall.
Katrina: What's so funny? [the two men leap to their feet as she appears in the doorway] Did I miss something good?
Sydney: [doing a rapid head count] Three...four ...five...six? Why wasn't I told?
Katrina: Because number six is only a week and two days old and hasn't even been christened yet. We always waited until that had happened before we told you. Anyway [placing Clare in Sydney's arms] this is Clare Katrina. [sitting down in a chair and pulling the boys to her; the girls are clustered around their father] Jarod has charge of the oldest of the family.
Jarod: This is Meg - otherwise Margaret - and this is Em - or Emily. [the two girls perform short bob-like curtsies in typical European fashion] Girls, go and say hello to Sydney. He's a great friend of ours.
The two girls go and kiss Sydney on his right cheek. He takes and kisses the back of the two small hands, which wriggle in his grip.
Katrina: And these are my three boys. Sydney Charles, Jacob Angelo and Kyle Nicholas. They're almost six. Boys, go and say hello. [the boys go and shake Sydney's hand] All right kids, you can go and play now. Ask Marie to give you some bread and milk for Früstuck. Run away and play!
Sydney: [watching as they leave the room] Twins and then triplets! You must be busy! But they're beautiful children!
Jarod: [tenderly] They take after their mother! [Katrina laughs] Really, they do!
Sydney: I find it so hard to believe that you actually have six children! I mean, Jarod anything you did was always done thoroughly but, even so...
Katrina: That's ok Syd. I still find it difficult to believe - and I should be able to realize it if anyone can! Would you like a coffee or something?
Sydney: That would be great. [Katrina stands and pulls on a bell near the fireplace] What's that for?
Katrina: [laughing] Calling for refreshments! You don't suppose that I can run this house - with six children - and hold down full-time Pretends too, do you?
Sydney: You still do that?
Jarod: [warmly] We both do! It's immensely satisfying!
Katrina: [to a maid who has entered the room] A large pot of tea, one of coffee, and some of the cake platter please Anna.
Anna: Ja, Madame. [she leaves the room]
Sydney: She's German?
Katrina: [laughing] Well, Syd we are in Germany and it's nice to employ the locals!
Sydney: [to Jarod] Can you speak German?
Jarod: [laughing] It's not exactly difficult for me to learn a language!
Sydney: [as refreshments are brought in] You know, I never imagined you two living in one spot - and with such a large family! [holding out Clare] What do I do with this one?
Katrina: [taking her] I'll send her upstairs. [a woman appears and takes the baby out of the room]
Sydney: Where did the name Clare come from? I mean it's a beautiful name but I recognize all of the others!
Katrina: [smiling] It's my favorite girls name. [with a tender look] Jarod chose most of the others.
Sydney: What are you two doing now, anyway?
Katrina: I'm still in the embassy three days each week. The other days I devote to - whatever needs doing.
Jarod: I spend some of my time at home and a few days each month traveling around doing pretty much the same type of thing I always did!
Sydney: [with a sigh] Sounds like the perfect lifestyle!
Katrina: [curiously] Syd, why haven't you ever married?
Sydney: [firmly] The threat of the Centre
Katrina: But since then? I mean it's three years since you told us about the changes that were taking place. Three years is plenty of time to get to know people! [exchanging looks with Jarod]
Sydney: I don't know really! I guess I'm just too busy.
Katrina and Jarod exchange glances again, one asking the question and the other answering it. Katrina raises her eyebrows as the matter is settled and Jarod answers with a nod and a laugh.
Katrina: Syd, we have a proposal for you. We have a large wing of the house which we never use. It has about eight rooms in total, including a self-contained kitchen and bathroom. If you were interested, we would love it if you would consider using it.
Jarod: Right now I'm working at a school for highly developed children. I'm positive that I could get you a position there. Equally, in a few years, we'll need someone who knows how to train the six potential Pretenders that are scampering about the house. If you’d be interested...
Katrina: [finishing for him]...we'd love to have you here - permanently.
There is a moment of silence. Sydney looks from one eager face to the other. He considers what he would be leaving behind and the new opportunities he would have, not the least of which is the chance to have a proper family again. Slowly a smile breaks across his face.
Sydney: [reaching out a hand to each] I'd love to!
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.