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Miss Parker sat in the "hot spot" of the "T-board," awaiting an explanation she knew she would never get. If her father were here…. If he were here she wouldn’t be in this position.
"One last time, Parker." All familiarities had vanished. They were damned convinced she knew something. "Where is your father?"
"One last time, sir," she spat the word out with distaste. She was tired of people treating her like a minion. She had given her adult years to this place; she deserved some authoritative respect. "I don’t know." She stated each word slowly and clearly. She had been saying the same thing for the past hour and still it seemed like she was speaking a foreign language. What the hell was she going to say? She had not a clue as to her father’s whereabouts. He could be half way across the world for all she knew. These people were going to get nothing from her. How long was it going to take them to realize that?
Two and a half-hours. It was 4:30am by the time she got out. She was ready to drop, but she showed no signs of her exhaustion. She would not gratify them in showing weakness. They finally gave up on her, only to inform her that she was not to leave the Centre.
"You are what?!" She wanted to rip someone’s head off.
"You will be held in SL 3, room 104 until we are able to locate your father or you decide to inform us of what you know."
"I know nothing! God damn you! What the hell makes you think that I do? You hold your own prisoner now? You won’t get away with this, you sons of bitches!" She clearly stated her thoughts- no one had ever stopped her before.
Two sweepers stepped up from behind and escorted her out of the room and took her directly to her temporary "home"- a bare room with no window, one bed, and a desk.
"I don’t even get to go home first?"
"This is your home," one of the sweepers answered before shoving her in. She turned around to shoot the man one of her invincible glares, but they had already shut and locked the door.
Staring at the cold gray metal that blocked her way to the outside world of the Centre, then looking around the room, she wanted to cry. How the hell had she ended up here? She was exhausted, frustrated, and mostly scared. Would she be here for the rest of her life if they never found her father? Would he know what they were doing to her? Would he save her?
All of a sudden, exhaustion claimed her and she sank to the bed. Curling up in a ball, she fell into a nightmare plagued sleep.
Her father was dead. Killed in a car accident. She could see Brigitte and her half-brother at her father’s funeral. Both crying. She herself was crying as well. Not only was she never going to see her father again, but also she would become a prisoner of the Centre forever.
Someone was shaking her into awareness. She woke with confusion, not fully recognizing her surroundings. She had wished her early morning encounter with the "powers that be" were nothing but a nightmare. At this point her whole life was one big nightmare.
"Miss Parker," a familiar male voice required her attention. A sound so comforting- she wanted to hug the man. She was Miss Parker, however, and hugging was not something she did.
"Sydney. What time is it?"
"It’s 2pm. I’ve been trying to get clearance to see you for the past four hours. They put me through hell; I can’t imagine what they did to you. You hungry?" He asked with concern.
"Sid, food is the last thing on my mind. Have they found my father yet?"
He didn’t need to answer her question. She could tell from his expression they had not.
"I am going to get you out of here," he stated firmly. "This is wrong."
"Sid, have you developed a back bone?" She inquired with amazement.
Before anything else could be said, the door swung open and a sweeper entered and all but dragged the man out, slamming the door shut. Miss Parker stared again, then resumed her sleep. She knew of nothing better to do. Just before she drifted off, a thought of Jarod entered her mind. Did he know where she was?
5 days later
Miss Parker had hardly moved form the bed, and only then to drink water. They were practically starving her, probably to drain her of energy. When the door opened and a familiar voice stuttered out her name, she wondered if she was dreaming.
"Miss Parker?" It came again. She turned to its source and her eyes were filled with a welcoming view of Broots. She stared at him expectantly. Had they finally found her father? Would they send Broots to give her the news?
"Where’s Sydney?" She asked, her throat dry from lack of water.
"Uh, that’s what I came to tell you."
Instantly an alarm went off in her head. Had she any energy, she would have beaten the information from Broots. Instead, she stared at him, waiting.
"Sid…." He swallowed. "He, uh, Sydney’s dead."
Miss Parker could not breathe. She just looked blankly at Broots. She had to be dreaming this, just like she dreamt her father’s death.
"What did you say?"
"Uh, Sydney’s dead?"
"Is this a joke?"
"No! Miss Parker, I came to tell you, something weird is going on in the Centre. But then again, when is that not the case?"
"He’s dead?" The fact that she would never see Sydney again- the man who filled in for her father in areas that her father lacked. The man, whom she only now realized, that she loved and respected- like she tried to love and respect her father. She only now realized that Sydney was her "dad," in every sense a father should be a dad to his child. Her whole world was collapsing.
"Please leave, Broots," she asked in a dry whisper. She did not want this man to see her cry.
Broots stood there, trying to decide what to do. Should he comfort her or do as she asked? It seemed she was on the verge of tears, a state he never thought possible for her. Then, again, she had just been told her surrogate father was dead. It was then that Broots realized that Miss Parker was going to cry and she didn’t want to embarrass herself in front of him, so finally he decided what to do. He walked over to Miss Parker, took her hand, gently squeezed it, then let go- walking out of the room.
Miss Parker, lying on the bed, slowly turned her back to the camera and let her tears fall. She was alone now. If Broots felt that he was in danger, he would leave and move Debbie to safety, or at least she hoped he would. No one would be left to watch out for her. No one would notice if she died. That was what the Centre wanted. If they weren’t going to get information from her, they were going to kill her. Just like they did with Sydney. She was sure the Centre had been responsible for his death.
Early next morning
"Miss Parker?" A gentle voice with a tad urgency woke her out of her dreamless state. She had cried herself to sleep. She thought it was Broots again, so she turned to tell him to take Debbie and get far away from the Centre, but it was not his face she recognized- it was Jarod. She sat up on the bed.
"Jarod? What are you doing here? Have they caught you?" Then sadness overwhelmed her eyes and she looked straight at Jarod. Did he know?
"Sydney’s dead." She studied his face intently for his reaction. He knew, but pain still filled his eyes.
"That’s why I’m here," Jarod knelt down to be eye level with her. "You’re in danger, Miss Parker, you have to believe me. The Centre is responsible for Sydney’s death," his voice cracked with emotion.
"I know," Miss Parker looked down to her hands on her lap.
Jarod’s head pulled back in surprise. He had expected her to fight him. She always had before. Alarms went off in his head and he panicked- wondering if he had walked into a trap. All warning signs subsided when Miss Parker looked at him with tears in her eyes.
"I don’t know what to do. Where’s Broots? Did they get him too?"
"No," Jarod stated calmly. "I visited his house before I came here. He’s the one that told me you were locked up. He was real worried about you. I told him to take Debbie and disappear."