Table of Contents [Report This]
This is a sequel to Rivals
** = beginning or end of memory
* * * =passage of time
by Mel Lane
Blue Cove, Delaware
Miss Parker stepped off the elevator onto the Intergroup Concourse Level and headed towards her office. She was flipping through a folder of reports on Jarod.
LeRon approached her. "I was told to give you this, Miss Parker." He handed her an envelope with her name typed on the front.
"What--" before Miss Parker could finish LeRon had scurried away. Miss Parker went inside her office and put the folder down. She opened the letter and read it.
To: Miss Parker
This is an official notice of your upcoming evaluation, by the Centre Review Board, regarding your pursuit of the escaped Pretender, Jarod. At this evaluation you must be able to put forth proof of progress in this pursuit. This evaluation will take place exactly two weeks to the day you receive this notice. signed, The Director
Miss Parker hurried down to Sub-Level 5. Sydney and Broots were on the verge of finding Jarod's current location. "Sydney!" she exclaimed. "What is this about?" She thrust the letter at him. Sydney read it over.
"You have an evaluation of your work coming up," Sydney replied.
"I don't think the Centre wants to evaluate my work. They want to evaluate my loyalties. If I don't pass this, I'm off the chase. I know it," Miss Parker countered.
"It's an evaluation, not a test Miss Parker," Sydney said.
"With the Centre, everything is a test," Miss Parker responded. "I would have thought you would know that by now, Syd."
"Miss Parker--" Broots began.
"Broots, unless you have good news, I don't want to hear it," Miss Parker interrupted.
"But I think I know where Jarod is," Broots explained, holding up a paper. Miss Parker snatched it. She quickly read it over.
"Jarod's in Milwaukee, Wisconsin!" Miss Parker exclaimed. 'This time I'm not coming back without him. I'm flying solo this time, Syd. It will sound better on the evaluation if I catch Jarod alone."
* * *
Miss Parker stepped out of the black Centre car. She dropped a cigarette and stomped on it. She looked around. Across the street, she saw him. "Jaaaaaroooooood!" Miss Parker screamed across the road.
Jarod took off running, dodging the people on the sidewalk. Miss Parker was at a safe distance, but still in sight. He carried his silver briefcase. Even though they were on opposite sides of the road, Miss Parker chased Jarod up the sidewalk . Too much traffic was barreling up the busy street for her to cross.
Jarod was still managing to get away. Suddenly, right in front of him, a little two-year old boy tripped. Miss Parker knew this was her chance. Jarod would bend down and help the child up, giving her just enough time to catch him.
Miss Parker couldn't wait for all the 50 mph traffic on the four lane road to clear. It was now or never! Miss Parker chose now. She ran out into the oncoming traffic.
Jarod looked into the road. He couldn't believe his eyes. Miss Parker lay motionless in the road in front of a turquoise car. Jarod ran out and kneeled down beside her. Taking on his doctor skills, he began to examine the limp body.
Jarod finished his quick examination. "Somebody call an ambulance!" he yelled to the onlookers.
One of the people watching nodded and ran to a pay phone.
The woman who had been in the car finally got out. She looked horrified. "I am so sorry. I didn't mean to--" she cried. She looked about twenty. She had sandy brown hair and brown eyes. "Oh my, one minute it was clear, the next minute she was there in front of me," the
woman cried. "I am so sorry!"
Jarod was too busy with his examination to listen. Life signs were changing fast. He checked her pulse again. There wasn't one. He looked at the woman. "She's not breathing! Do you know CPR?" he asked.
"Yes," the woman replied weakly.
"Then, help me," he ordered. Jarod and the young woman began CPR on Miss Parker.
* * * * *
There are Pretenders among us.
Geniuses with the ability to become anyone the want to be.
In 1963 a corporation know as the Centre isolated a young Pretender
named Jarod and exploited his genius for their research.
Then one day, their Pretender ran away... *
*THE PRETENDER* *
The ambulance pulled up by the car. Two paramedics jumped out and continued the CPR Jarod had started. They lifted her onto a stretcher and into the back of the ambulance yelling orders to each other. Finally, Miss Parker coughed and started breathing again.
"Are you coming?" they asked Jarod. Jarod nodded and climbed in the back. The young woman got in her car and followed the ambulance to the hospital.
"Hurry!" one paramedic yelled to the driver. "She's fading on me!"
As the ambulance pulled into the hospital the paramedics rushed Miss Parker through the ER doors. "Pulse and heart-rate erratic, possible broken ribs, internal bleeding, massive head trauma," the paramedic told the doctor.
"Prep her for surgery!" yelled the doctor. Miss Parker was wheeled into the OR.
A nurse came up to Jarod. "Can you fill out these forms?" she asked.
Jarod sat down in the waiting room and started to fill out the admission forms. He was halfway through when the woman arrived. "How is she?" the woman asked.
"She's in surgery," Jarod replied. Jarod tried to relax, realizing that his being tense was making others tense. Finally, he said, "I'm Jarod."
"Jessi, Jessi Masters," the woman replied. She gasped as another patient was rolled by. "Were you and her close?" Jessi asked. She rubbed her hands on her jeans.
"We were friends," Jarod replied.
"If she doesn't make it, I swear I'll never forgive myself," Jessi cried.
"It wasn't your fault," Jarod replied.
Forty minutes later a nurse came out. "She's out of surgery," the nurse announced. "She's not out of the woods yet but she's doing better."
"Can we see her?" Jarod asked.
"Not yet," the nurse replied.
* * *
Milwaukee Community General Hospital
An hour later, a doctor came out. "I'm Dr. Dillon," he said.
"How is she?" Jessi asked.
"It was a successful surgery. We were able to repair two cracked ribs, stop the bleeding. Her vital signs are almost back to normal," Dr. Dillon replied. Then, he let out a large sigh.
"What's wrong?" Jarod replied.
"She suffered serious trauma to the head. We think there might be some damage, to what we aren't sure but we just won't be able to tell how serious, unless she wakes up," Dr. Dillon explained.
"Unless she wakes up?" Jessi asked. "She came out of surgery an hour ago. She's not awake yet?"
Dr. Dillon sighed again. "Miss Parker has slipped into a coma. How deep, we don't know. We'll be able to tell you more after we get the results of the tests back."
Jarod looked worried. The one time he hadn't been able to save someone, that person had been in a coma. He could recall the scary sounds as the boy had been unhooked from the life support machines and flat-lined.
"Jarod, would you like to see her?" Dr. Dillon asked. Jarod nodded. He followed Dr. Dillon down the hall and into the elevator. "She's in the intensive care. We have her hooked up to a lot of machines right now. We almost lost her twice during surgery. If she remains stable tonight and tomorrow we'll probably take away most of them."
Jarod approached the bed. Miss Parker was connected to a lot of equipment. They monitored heart-rate, brain activity, one that regulated breathing and several others. "I know you probably want to stay awhile, I'll be back to check in later."
Jarod sat down in the chair next to the bed. He took Miss Parker's hand. He stared at her. Her head was bandaged and tubes were in her nose and wrist. He thought of all of his old memories of her. It was hard to get a clear picture when the room was filled with the hum and beep of life support machines and the soft whoosh of the breathing machine.
**Miss Parker entered the room where Jarod was sitting working on a human body puzzle. Miss Parker had sat down next to Jarod and he had glanced at her. "You know girls mature faster than boys," Miss Parker said. Jarod stared at her puzzled.
Then, she leaned over and kissed him.**
* * *
Intensive Care Unit 3
Milwaukee Community General
Jarod awoke from the memory. "Jarod!"
Jarod looked up to see Jessi looking at him. "Sorry," Jarod replied. "What did you say?" He had fallen asleep for several hours.
"The police are not blaming me for the accident. Unless she wakes up and presses charges then I'm not at fault," Jessi replied.
"That's wonderful, Jessi," Jarod commented.
"Any change?" Jessi asked.
"No, not yet," Jarod answered.
"Is there anything I can get you? Coffee, maybe?" Jessi asked.
"No, I'm fine," Jarod responded.
"It's getting late, I'll drop by here tomorrow if that's okay. And here's my number. I'd really like to know when she wakes up," Jessi turned to leave after handing Jarod a slip of paper.
Shortly after Jessi left, Dr. Dillon came in. "I was just checking in. Is there anyone we should call? Family...any other friends?"
"There are two people I should call," Jarod replied.
"Alright," Dr. Dillon replied. He exited.
Jarod looked at Miss Parker before taking out his cellular phone and dialing. "This is Sydney."
"Hello, Sydney," Jarod replied.
"Jarod, have you heard from Miss Parker?" Sydney asked. "She took off looking for you hours ago. She was very upset as I recall."
"Why was she so upset Sydney?" Jarod asked. What had made Miss Parker so desperate to catch him that she had run out onto a busy road?
"She has an evaluation of her chase coming up in two weeks. She received notice of it today," Sydney replied.
"What happens if the Centre review board doesn't like what they learn at the evaluation?" Jarod questioned.
"Then, Miss Parker could be out of a job," Sydney answered.
"Really? I've never met any disgruntled ex-Centre employees. In fact, I've never met any ex-Centre employees at all. Why is that Sydney?" Jarod queried
"I don't know, Jarod," Sydney responded.
"I think you do," Jarod said. He hung up.
Jarod walked out into the hallway as he dialed his next number. It rang several times. There was no answer. Jarod hung up. He went back into the room. A nurse was changing the IV bag.
Jarod took a seat next to Miss Parker and took her hand. The nurse paused before leaving. She looked like she wanted to say something but finally left without saying a word.
Jarod took a deep breath and said, "I once told the mother of a boy in a coma that I believe that those in comas can hear what's going on around them. I still believe that."
* * *
Intensive Care Unit 3
Milwaukee Community General
After breakfast in the hospital cafeteria, Jarod tried his phone call again. "Hello?"
"Malorie, I'm so glad I finally got in touch with you."
Malorie Howard was a person Jarod had met six months before when he was a miner in Alaska. Malorie was living and attending the university there. The strange thing was that Malorie looked identical to Miss Parker. Later, Jarod learned Malorie was Miss Parker's cousin and the daughter of the late Carolyn Howard, Catherine Parker's twin sister. Jarod also found that even though Malorie and Miss Parker were identical cousins their personalities were nothing alike, probably because Malorie had had a better childhood. Jarod arranged for Miss Parker to meet Malorie and the two became good friends.
A few months after meeting Malorie, Miss Parker had enlisted her help. Miss Parker asked Malorie to pretend to be her and fill in for her at the Centre. While there, Malorie was found out by Sydney who was willing to keep the secret, knowing of the dangers of what could happen if the Centre discovered her. With Malorie's help, Miss Parker was able to rescue two children from the Centre and return them to their parents. Malorie wasn't sure if the Centre had ever found out about her. Also, due to a Centre caused accident, if the Centre did know about her, they most likely believed she was dead.
"Jarod, what's wrong?" Malorie asked.
"Miss Parker got hit by a car yesterday," Jarod explained. He was walking in the hall near Miss Parker's room.
"Oh my--Is she alright?" Malorie questioned.
"She's in a coma," Jarod replied. There was silence on the end. "Malorie, are you still there?"
"Yes," Malorie whispered.
"We're in Milwaukee, at their community general hospital," Jarod added.
"I'll see you tonight," Malorie answered. She hung up the phone.
Jarod put his phone down and looked in at Miss Parker.
* * *
Milwaukee Community General
Jarod walked into the room carrying a book. "I was down in the hospital library and I found this book, I think you might enjoy hearing it." Jarod walked over and sat down by open window. Sunlight was streaming in lighting up the room and giving hope.
"It's about a rabbit who doesn't think he has an imagination. It's called "A Little Rabbit." Once there lived a little rabbit named Clove. He did his homework and always got good grades. He had just one problem though. He had absolutely no imagination. One day--" BEEEEP!!! BEEEEP!!! BEEEEP!!!
Jarod jumped up to check the machine. Nurses and doctors came rushing to the room. "Her hemogloblin levels are dropping!" yelled a nurse.
Dr. Dillon began yelling directions to everyone in the room, causing a rush of traffic running in and out of the room. They were carrying vials and syringes changing the IV bags and a ton of other medical equipment. Finally, Miss Parker stablilized and everyone, but Dr. Dillon, left. He looked exhausted. Jarod took a seat by the window again. Dr. Dllon let out a sigh of relief and left.
* * *
Intensive Care Unit 3
Malorie followed the nurse to the room. "Right here," the nurse said, pointing to Miss Parker's room. From right outside the door, Malorie could hear Jarod reading.
"And that day, a very triumphant little rabbit walked home, pulling a bark sled behind him, and singing happily to himself. The End," Jarod finished.
Malorie entered after hearing Jarod finish the story. She took one look at Miss Parker gasped and walked back out. Jarod caught up with her in the hall. "I'm sorry Jarod, I just never have liked hospitals very much," Malorie apologized.
"It's okay," Jarod replied. "When was the last time you were in a hospital?"
"Not since my brother died. Did you know I had a brother who was in a coma before he died? So when you called and told me...I couldn't help but think the worst," Malorie cried. "And when I walked in there and saw her lying there like that...I...."
Jarod hugged Malorie trying to comfort her. "Do you think you're ready to go in there now?" Jarod asked, a couple minutes later.
Malorie stepped back and looked at Jarod. She took some tissue from her purse and dried her eyes. She took a deep breath. "Okay, now I'm ready," Malorie said.
Jarod went in first. Malorie followed. She slowly approached the bed. "Talk to her," Jarod said.
"Do you really think it will help?" Malorie asked.
"I don't know if it helps but, I believe she can hear us," Jarod answered.
"How long has she been out?" Malorie inquired.
Jarod checked his watch. "29 hours," he said.
Malorie sat down at the chair beside the bed. She took Miss Parker's hand. "I know you can hear me, and I just want to say that I need you and I want you back," Malorie cried. She got up and turned to Jarod. "I can come and visit in the morning and spend all day, but I'll spend the night in a hotel. I saw one a couple blocks away on my way here. I'll stay there." Malorie headed for the door. "I'll see you tomorrow, Jarod."
"Good-bye Malorie," Jarod answered.
Malorie was almost to the door when she turned back around. She stared at the bed with sad eyes. "Goodnight cousin," she said. She waited a few seconds, then left.
* * *
Milwaukee Community General
Malorie walked away from the lounge carrying two cups of coffee. She saw a nurse wheeling equipment out of Miss Parker's room. Jarod stood just outside the door. Malorie ran towards the room. "I've only been gone a couple minutes, she didn't...." her voice trailed off.
"She's fine," Jarod answered. "She's doing better. That's why they're taking some of the monitors away."
Malorie handed Jarod his cup of coffee. "You must think I'm so paranoid," Malorie told Jarod.
"No, it's perfectly understandable considering what you went through with your brother," Jarod answered.
"It's just she is almost the last family I have, my father has a heart problem. I could lose him at anytime," Malorie paused to take a sip of her coffee. "Alaska weather is too harsh for him. He lives in Ohio. However, he wants me to get my education so I stay living in Alaska. My mother loved Alaska, I live in the house I lived in when she was alive."
Malorie and Jarod walked back into the room. Malorie put her coffee cup aside and looked at Jarod with wide, sad eyes. "What's wrong?" Jarod asked.
"I told you my mother died ten years ago. I lied. That's actually when I think of her as dying. She disappeared in April of 1970. We aren't sure what happened to her. She never came home and we never found her," Malorie looked at Miss Parker. "I haven't even told you this yet."
"Has Miss Parker told you about her mother?" Jarod asked.
"She told me she died mysteriously in an elevator in 1970," Malorie answered.
"Did she tell you it happened on April 13th?" Jarod asked. Malorie gasped. "What?" Jarod questioned.
"My mother disappeared on April 15th. It wasn't until my father and I moved to Ohio seventeen years later, that I thought of her as dead because that was when we found her car. It was completely wrecked but it had her license plate so we believe that was how she died," Malorie replied. "How did Catherine Parker die?"
"All I'll say is that it wasn't a suicide," Jarod answered. "I remember that day. I know someone trying to commit suicide could not shoot themselves four times."
Malorie felt a chill run up her spine. "I think I'll stay with her tonight," Malorie said. "I want her to know I'm here." Jarod smiled.
"It's the best way to show you care, just being with her, and letting her hear your voice might even stimulate the brain and help in recovery," Jarod answered.
Malorie took a seat in the chair. She looked at the book cover. "You've read her a lot of books about rabbits," Malorie noticed.
"It has to do with a conversation we had as children," Jarod replied.
"Really?" Malorie asked. "Did she tell you she liked rabbits?"
"Yes, she was upset because her father said she couldn't have pets at home," Jarod remembered.
* * *
Blue Cove, Delaware
Sydney stood pondering over Jarod's phone call. Broots was fooling with his computer. The phone rang. "Hello?" Broots said. "Uh, Mr. Lyle...no Miss Parker's not back yet...no she hasn't called...no I have no idea when she'll be back...yes I will tell you if she calls...yes I will...good-bye sir."
Sydney looked at Broots expectantly. "So, that was Mr. Lyle," Sydney stated.
"He wants to know why Miss Parker isn't back yet," Broots answered.
"So do I. I think I should try her cell-phone," Sydney said picking up the phone.
Milwaukee Community General
Miss Parker's belongings had been given to Malorie since she was the closest relative. Malorie and Jarod had decided it might be easier if Malorie answered the calls coming up with an excuse for Miss Parker not being back at the Centre. Jarod knew telling the truth would bring the Centre straight to the hospital and straight to him.
Malorie jumped when the phone rang. She had been dozing off while Jarod had been reading. She picked it up and gave a quite lifeless. "What?"
"Miss Parker, are you alright?" Sydney asked.
"I'm fine Syd. Why are you calling?" Malorie asked.
"You left here several days ago and haven't been in contact. Mr. Lyle is beginning to ask about where you are. Where are you?" Sydney asked.
Lyle, Malorie wondered. Who was he? "I'm hot on the trail of Jarod." Malorie hung up the phone, forcing herself to forget her manners and not say bye. Jarod looked at her approvingly.
Malorie got up and began to pace the room. That short conversation had her mind working. She had pondered over the mysterious Mr. Lyle but just doing the phone call had her thinking about Miss Parker.
"Jarod, have you ever been a doctor?" Malorie asked.
"Yes," Jarod answered. "I've also been a coast guard, a fighter jet pilot, a lawyer and a paramedic."
"Do you think she's going to get better?" Malorie asked.
"I don't know. My experience with comatose patients has not been good, but many do wake from comas," Jarod answered.
"Thanks," Malorie said. "Can I try reading to her for a while?"
"Sure." Jarod stood up and handed Malorie the book. "I'm going to get some coffee."
* * *
Intensive Care Unit 3
Milwaukee Community General
Everything seemed blurry at first. Then, she began to focus. The lights seemed so bright. She turned her head from one side to the other. On one side, were machines and IV. On the other, was a woman leaning on the bed. Asleep maybe? Where was she? Who was she? Who was that lying on the bed? What was the last thing she remembered?
She stepped out of a car. She saw a man across the street. He had dark brown hair and was carrying a silver briefcase. "Jaaaaroood!" she yelled. She started to run down the sidewalk. She ran into the street. Loud sound of tires screeching, turquoise blur, pain, blackness.
What was that name she had yelled? Jarod? "Jarod?" she whispered. The woman sat up on the bed. A face that seemed so familiar.
"You're awake!" the woman exclaimed. "What did you say?"
"Jarod!" she said louder this time.
"I'll get him," said the woman.
* * *
"Jarod! Jarod!" Malorie ran down the halls to the lounge. "Jarod, she's awake!"
Jarod jumped up. "Have you called for Dr. Dillon?"
"Yes, but she's asking for you," Malorie answered.
When Jarod and Malorie got back to the room Dr. Dillon was doing an examination. "Do you remember your name?" he asked.
Miss Parker squinted a second trying hard to think. "No," she finally answered.
"Do remember anything about yourself?" Dr. Dillon asked.
"I remember running and...calling for someone, named Jarod, who was also running ahead of me...." Her voice trailed off.
"Before that?" Dr. Dillon asked, taking out one of his tools and examining her eyes.
"Nothing," Miss Parker replied.
"After that?" Dr. Dillon asked.
"Waking up here," Miss Parker answered.
Dr. Dillon got up and turned to Jarod and Malorie. "Well?" Malorie asked.
"She has amnesia. Right now, it's not serious, there is a very big chance her memory will return in a day or two," Dr. Dillon answered. "Our initial tests did not show any tissue damage so everything is looking good."
"So, should we tell her things about herself or let her figure them out herself?" Malorie asked.
"Well, if she asks tell her and it would be fine to tell her a little about herself but, don't volunteer too much information. I think what we are dealing with is memory repression. It often happens to people who go through a very traumatic event, so traumatic that the brain simply blocks it out, sometimes just the event, other times a person's whole identity," Dr. Dillon explained. "Often the memory returns."
"So what should we do?" Malorie asked.
"Normally, it would be best to get her to familiar surroundings but in this case we do need to keep her for at least another week for observation and to tend to her other injuries. So right now, the best thing you can do is talk to her and show her how much you care," Dr. Dillon responded. "Excuse me." He exited the room.
Miss Parker looked expectantly at the two of them. Malorie and Jarod sat down. "Do you have any questions for us?" Malorie asked.
"My name and how I ended up in the hospital," Miss Parker answered.
Jarod told her her full name. "You usually go by Miss Parker," he added.
"You were hit by a car three days ago," Malorie answered.
"And who are you?" Miss Parker asked.
"Jarod and this is your cousin, Malorie," Jarod answered.
Miss Parker pondered the names. "Your name and running after you is the only thing I remember," she said. "Everything else is just a blank page. So, what else should I know about me?"
Malorie glanced at Jarod nervously. "You're probably hungry. We'll go and get you something to eat," Malorie answered. She nodded to Jarod telling him to follow her out. "Jarod. I'm not sure if I can handle this. Picking and choosing what questions to answer. What if she starts remembering about the Centre? What am I suppose to say?"
"Tell her the truth. Lying to her is the worst thing you can do for her right now," Jarod answered.
"But if she really is repressing her identity, to repress painful memories then, maybe we shouldn't tell her," Malorie continued.
"There's a possibility she's actually suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome," Jarod answered. "Being hit by a car is a traumatic event." Malorie nodded.
Just then, a nurse wheeled by a cart of food. "Oh, excuse me. May I please have a bowl of soup for my cousin in room 306?" Malorie asked. The nurse handed Malorie a bowl of chicken noodle soup. It was steaming and smelled wonderful. Jarod started to walk away. "Where are you going?" Malorie asked.
"I have to make a phone call and a couple other things," he said. "I'll be gone no more than an hour." Malorie nodded and went back into the room. She handed Miss Parker the bowl of soup. Miss Parker ate a little.
"So you and I are cousins?" she asked.
"Yes," Malorie answered. "That's right."
"Why do we look exactly alike?" Miss Parker inquired. Malorie explained. "So, it was Jarod who introduced us?"
"Yes, in a way," Malorie replied. "It wasn't a formal introduction since he was about to catch a train."
Miss Parker thought hard. Suddenly, she remembered.
**Jarod and a woman were just coming out of the police station. She and Sam, the sweeper leaped out of a Centre car. "Jarod!" she yelled. Jarod took off down the sidewalk. "Sam! Get him!" she yelled. She ran down the sidewalk after Jarod. Malorie jumped in her car and drove after them.
Jarod dashed around corners and ducked in alleys and dodged the people on the streets. However, she stayed right behind him. Finally, he dashed into a building. It was a clothing store. Her and Sam followed him in, but couldn't find him. "Go that way!" she told Sam pointing to the left. She took off in another direction.
Suddenly, she heard a train whistle. She dashed outside to see a train pulling away from the station. Malorie was waving good-bye. Jarod waved from a window in the first railroad car. "Bye Jarod!" Malorie yelled.
She glared and pushed her hair away from her face. She turned to Malorie and gasped. "What's going on?" she exclaimed. Her eyes widened.
"Glad to finally meet you, Miss Parker," Malorie replied with a smile. She was confused. "I know it's a little mind boggling. Why don't you come over to my house and I'll explain it to you the way Jarod explained it to me." She nodded. She was set on finding out why Malorie and her looked exactly alike.**
"No, it wasn't a formal introduction," Miss Parker laughed.
"You remember?" Malorie asked.
"Yes, now," Miss Parker answered. "I was chasing Jarod, why?"
Malorie sighed. "It's your job," Malorie answered.
"Well, what kind of job is that?" Miss Parker demanded.
"A very strange one. I know it sounds kind of crazy but you work for a secret organization that experiments on people and kidnaps people and even murders people," Malorie explained.
"And why again is my job chasing Jarod? Makes me seem like a kind of hound dog."
"You chase Jarod to try and take him back to this place."
"Why?" Miss Parker asked.
"Because your father also works for this place and he told you to," Malorie continued.
"Why does my father want Jarod?"
"Because he's a Pretender."
Miss Parker looked at Malorie completely puzzled. "What's a Pretender?"
Malorie sighed again. She could tell this was going to be a very long day.
* * *
Jarod walked outside on the a sidewalk. He carried his silver briefcase in one hand and in the other he was just putting a cellular phone to his ear. "This is Sydney."
"I have something important to tell you," Jarod said.
"What is it Jarod?" Sydney asked.
"Call me back on a secure line in three hours," Jarod said. "It will be safer."
"Jarod, is something wrong?" Sydney questioned.
"For now all I'm going to say is, the woman that answered the phone when you called was not Miss Parker." Jarod hung up the phone and looked at the store he was walking by. It was a toy store. He looked in the display window. In the corner his eyes fell upon a music box. It was round and clear. On top of it was a white cat dressed in a pink ballerina outfit. The little tag attached to it read: "Plays Memories." Jarod smiled and went inside the store.
* * *
"Then one day, Jarod escaped and that's when you started chasing him," Malorie finished.
"Now let me see if I have this right," Miss Parker replied. "There are Pretenders among us. Some kind of geniuses with the ability to become anyone they want to be. And in 1963, a corporation known as the Centre isolated a young Pretender named Jarod and exploited his genius for their research. Then one day, this Pretender ran away."
"You got it!" Malorie exclaimed.
"Now explain it again," Miss Parker answered.
"But I've told you three times already. What more do you want to know?"
"I want to know why this sounds like the plot to some sort of primetime TV show, in which I am the villain," Miss Parker responded.
"Maybe Jarod can explain it to you better. I don't seem to be explaining it right," Malorie answered. Just then, Jarod entered. "Jarod, can you please explain why she chases you? She's finding my explanation very hard to believe."
"It's just if everything your saying is true, then how come you're here in the hospital visiting me? You couldn't have known I would have amnesia until I woke up. Why would you take that risk of staying around here?" Miss Parker asked.
"Because I care about people," Jarod replied. "And I remember who you used to be."
"From what I've heard about who I used to be, I was not the nicest of people," Miss Parker answered.
"You were very nice when we were children," Jarod answered.
"You knew me when I was a child?" Miss Parker asked.
"Ever since you were nine," Jarod answered. Jarod smiled. Then, he handed Miss Parker a gift-wrapped box.
"What's this for?" Miss Parker asked.
"You," Jarod answered.
Miss Parker looked at Jarod then at the box. She opened it and took out the music box. She wound it up and listened to it play. "Jarod, thank you. Now after this, do you really expect me to believe that I hate you and relentlessly chase you all over the United States?"
"I give up!" Malorie exclaimed. "Go ahead and be whoever you are now."
* * *
Milwaukee Community General
Jarod answered the phone, turned on a machine. "Is this a secure line?"
"As secure as Broots could get it," Sydney answered. "Now, tell me what is so important Jarod?"
"Miss Parker was hit by a car three days ago," Jarod told Sydney.
"Is she alright?" Sydney inquired.
"She was in a coma. She just woke up today," Jarod answered "She has amnesia."
After a short silence, Sydney asked, "What do the doctors say?"
"They have to run more tests. However, they're hopeful," Jarod replied.
"How bad is it?" Sydney asked.
"Sydney, she doesn't know who she is. She barely knows who I am," Jarod answered.
"Does she remember anything?" Sydney asked.
"She vaguely remembers the accident, meeting Malorie and that's about it," Jarod replied. "Malorie and I have been trying to help by telling her things about herself."
"Well, you can tell her as much as you want, Jarod, but unless the memories return on their own, she won't be herself," Sydney stated.
"Thanks, Sydney," Jarod answered.
"You're welcome, Jarod. Please inform me of any progress," Sydney replied.
"Good-bye, Sydney," Jarod responded.
"Good-bye, Jarod," said Sydney.
Jarod hung up the phone and went back to the room. Malorie was headed for the cafeteria. "How is she?" Jarod asked.
"She's taking a nap," Malorie replied. "Jarod, I'm worried. What will the Centre do when they found out that she has amnesia? Right now she has no idea how important it is that she keeps this all a secret. She thinks we are just telling the plot of some TV show. If she starts telling nurses they'll tell their families, eventually the Centre is going find out and they'll kill her. And I'm am so afraid of being alone." Malorie started to cry. "I lost my mother and my brother and I'm losing my father and I just couldn't bare to lose her too."
"Malorie you aren't losing her. This whole experience could actually bring you closer together," Jarod soothed.
"I just love her so much. And when I look at her I can see all the pain and anger she had growing up," Malorie cried. "I just wish I could have been there for her. And now, it's gone. She has no horrible past that eats away at her daily. Or stress that comes with working for the Centre. And watching her sleep, she looks so peaceful. I almost wish it could stay like this. She's so innocent right now. Like a child, but she's more grown up than ever."
"Relax, Malorie," Jarod said. "Right now she's fine. She's asleep and maybe you should get some rest too." Malorie nodded. She headed for the hotel.
* * *
Four Days Later
Miss Parker's memory was coming back. It came in bits and pieces. Sometimes recent memories like Jarod sending her a bunny or more details about the accident. Others about first liking bunnies and half of how she first met Jarod.
Malorie pushed the wheelchair and Miss Parker admired the wildlife and flowers. She saw a bunny nibbling at some clover. "Why do I like bunnies so much?" she asked.
"I don't know," Malorie answered.
"You always have," said Jarod. "Maybe your mother did."
"I've been meaning to ask you about that. Where are my parents?" Miss Parker asked.
"Well, your father is missing. No one knows where he is. He just up and disappeared one day," Jarod answered. "And your mother--"
"She's dead," Miss Parker suddenly said, interrupting him. "She's been dead a long time. For more than 20 years. She died in an elevator, but it wasn't suicide. It was something else." Malorie and Jarod waited for questions regarding the event. None came. "I'd like to go back to my room."
"Listen I am really--" Malorie began.
"Please just take me back to my room. I want to be alone," Miss Parker said.
They wheeled Miss Parker back to her room. She told them to leave. She just wanted to be alone. As Malorie and Jarod walked away from the room Malorie said, "It's starting. The beginning of the end. Innocence lost."
Miss Parker walked around her room. Trying to figure out what had happened. What was it she wasn't remembering? She wobbled over to the window. In a box was everything that she had at the time of the accident. She looked through it. Clothes, pack of cigarettes, lighter, a gun, a.... A GUN! Why did she have a gun?
Miss Parker picked it up slowly. It was silver, of fine quality. Suddenly, she remembered.
**She ran into a building yelling. "Where is he?" She walked towards a closed room ignoring the objections of the employees. She approached a woman with blonde hair.
"Who are you people?" the woman demanded.
"Where is he?" she yelled. She raised her gun pointing it at the woman. "I won't ask again." Suddenly, she saw a figure outside the window. She ran towards it followed by two men in black suits and an old man. "Sam! Sam, he's going for the roof!"
When she got outside, she saw Jarod climbing up the fire escape with a white and blue folder in his hand. She raised her gun to aim. "Stop! Or I swear I'll shoot you in the back!" she yelled. Jarod kept going. She shot the gun. It hit the folder and it fell. Sydney caught the folder. "Jarod!" Jarod kept climbing to get away. "Sam, get him!"
She snatched the folder. "You sent this, didn't you?" she hissed at the old man.
"I was with you, Miss Parker," the man replied. He had a Belgium accent.
She dropped the torn folder and glanced at the paper. Then, she took out her lighter and set the paper on fire. "So close," she began, holding the paper up. "And yet so far," she finished, throwing down the paper and letting it burn**.
* * *
Milwaukee Community General
Jarod and Malorie walked back into the room. "You told the nurse you wanted to see us," Malorie said.
"You were telling the truth," Miss Parker whispered.
"About what?" Malorie asked.
"About everything. About the chase, the Centre, who I am," Miss Parker answered.
"What did you remember?" Jarod asked.
"Miami. I almost shot you in Miami," Miss Parker replied. "I don't quite know why, but I almost shot you. And who was the old man?"
"Sydney," Jarod responded. "He was my caretaker when I was at the Centre and your friend. Now, he's your partner in the chase."
"Why isn't he here?" Miss Parker asked
"He's at the Centre," Jarod replied.
After that conversation, Jarod outside to use his cellular phone. "Hello?" Broots answered.
"Hello, Broots," said Jarod.
"Jarod!" Broots exclaimed. He put the phone on speaker so Sydney could listen.
"Hello Jarod. How is everything?" Sydney asked.
"Fine," Jarod answered. "Just thought I'd check and see if you'd heard from Miss Parker? Did you check by the mill?"
"No, not yet," Sydney answered. "But I'll let you know if we do."
"Well, if you do take a walk there let me know if you find a key. I lost one. Now I have to go. I don't want to be late," Jarod replied.
"Late for what?" Broots asked.
"I'm moving," Jarod said. He hung up.
Brigitte and Mr. Lyle watched Sydney hang up the phone on a security monitor. "That's the third call from Jarod and Sydney hasn't informed of us any calls," said Brigitte. She licked a red sucker. "I told you Sydney was one that should be removed ."
"Not yet," Mr. Lyle answered.
"He was speaking in code with Jarod. Jarod asked if we were on the chase yet and then he said he was moving out of Milwaukee," Brigitte answered.
"Brigitte, take a team and go to Milwaukee," Mr. Lyle ordered. "Catch Jarod and find Miss Parker. If it's true, that she has amnesia, I want you to kill her." Brigitte nodded and exited.
* * *
Minneapolis Community General
Malorie picked up the phone and dialed. "Okay Jarod, we are all settled in. How are things there?"
Jarod looked in the window of the Milwaukee hospital. He saw Brigitte enter with her team of sweepers. "About to get interesting, I'll call you back." He hung up the phone.
Malorie looked at Miss Parker. She was reading, but looked ready to go to sleep.
* * *
Milwaukee Community General
"I want the room number for Miss Parker," Brigitte told the receptionist.
"Are you family?" the receptionist asked.
"No," Brigitte answered.
"Well, with few exceptions, the patients in intensive care's visitors are to be family only," the receptionist replied.
Brigitte nodded to the sweepers. Willie came forward and pushed the receptionist away. He typed on the computer. "Room 306," he told Brigitte.
"Security!" yelled the receptionist. Brigitte and the sweepers were already on the elevator. They got off on the third floor. They burst in to room 306. It was empty.
Brigitte lowered her gun. "She's gone!" The sweepers looked bewildered.
Jarod sat in his car in the dark parking lot as the troop came out. He smiled. They had no idea where Miss Parker could be.
* * *
Minneapolis Community General
"Jarod, you didn't call," Malorie whispered hugging Jarod as he entered the room. "I was worried."
Jarod smiled. "How is she?" he asked, noticing Miss Parker was still sleeping.
"She remembered chasing you through a hospital at about three this morning," Malorie answered. "So now what? She can't go back to the Centre like this. She needs to be near a hospital. I think she'd be safe at my house but it's a long flight." "I don't think the altitude would be good for her. Right now we stay here and help her get her memories back," Jarod answered
"What if some never come back?" Malorie asked. "We need a plan for that."
"Maybe we should ask her when she wakes up," Jarod answered.
"It should be her decision," Malorie replied. "But part of me wants to make it for her."
* * *
Sydney entered the Tech room. "Sydney!" Broots exclaimed.
"What was so important?" Sydney asked.
"I intercepted a message from Mr. Lyle to the Tower. He's ordered Brigitte to find Miss Parker and maybe to kill her," Broots answered.
"We are going to Milwaukee," Sydney said.
* * *
Minneapolis Community General
Malorie ran into the room. "I think she's here!" she exclaimed.
"Who?" Miss Parker asked. Jarod had been helping her walk across the room.
"Brigitte! I saw some blonde downstairs asking if you were here. I think she may have seen me getting on the elevator," Malorie answered.
"Take her downstairs and I'll try and meet you down there. If not, I'll see you in Alaska," Jarod headed out the door.
"Jarod!" Malorie protested, but he was already out the door.
Malorie helped Miss Parker down the hall and to an elevator. They had just gotten in the elevator when Malorie heard gunshots. When the elevator opened, Malorie headed right out the door. She could see Centre cars everywhere. Malorie walked Miss Parker straight to the car. She noticed a sweeper watching them.
Malorie waited in the car a few minutes. "Who is Bridgette?" Miss Parker asked.
"Brigitte," Malorie corrected. "She's your rival and another chaser of Jarod."
"And why are you worried?" Miss Parker asked.
"Because of you," Malorie answered.
Malorie noticed a sweeper easing his way over towards the car. Malorie started the car. She tried to see if Jarod was visible. The sweeper was getting close. Malorie started backing the car up slowly. She saw someone running out of the hospital. The sweeper started running towards the car. Malorie pulled out faster. As she reached the exit, she saw Jarod run out of the hospital. She was about to turn back when she noticed a group of sweepers running out of the hospital, all wielding guns. She glanced at her bewildered cousin and couldn't bring herself to put her in danger.
Malorie continued down the road towards the airport.
"Where are we going? What about Jarod?" Miss Parker asked.
"We'll see him Alaska," Malorie answered.
* * *
Sydney and Broots stood sipping cups of coffee outside the hospital. They were talking to a woman. "Yes, I met Jarod," Jessi told them. "He was there right after I almost ran over a woman."
"Was this woman named Miss Parker?" Sydney asked.
"Yes, it was. I was with him a short time at the hospital, but we didn't speak much after Miss Parker's twin came. I went by the hospital the other day to visit and they were gone," Jessi answered.
"Miss Parker's twin?" Sydney questioned. Then, he remembered Malorie. "Do you know where they went?"
"No, but there was a big commotion at the hospital like someone was looking for them. They left shortly before that," Jessi continued. "But she was hurt pretty bad so I'm guessing another hospital. Probably out of state."
"Thank you for your time," Sydney replied.
"So where do you think they went?" Broots asked.
Sydney walked into the hospital. He checked at the receptionist desk to see if anything had been left in Miss Parker's room. They sent Sydney down to lost and found where they gave him a sweatshirt. On it were the words: University of Minnesota.
Sydney took the sweatshirt. "Jarod is in Minneapolis," Sydney stated to Broots, in the car, on the way to the airport.
* * *
Malorie looked out the window. She was two stories up and had a clear view of the parking lot. She was hoping to see Jarod. When she turned back around, she noticed Miss Parker was watching her. "What?" Malorie asked.
"Do you love Jarod?" Miss Parker asked Malorie.
Malorie was silent a second. "He is definitely the kind of guy I could fall in love with, but...."
"But what?" Miss Parker inquired.
"If you had your memory you'd know why. I really don't think I could explain it," Malorie answered.
"Why not? It's not like I'm in love with Jarod," Miss Parker laughed. Malorie didn't. "Am I?"
"I really don't know," Malorie replied. "There is a part of you that you keep very private. A part that only you know."
"A part I can't remember." Miss Parker sighed. Malorie returned to her post at the window.
"Malorie, we spend so much time talking about me, tell me about you," Miss Parker said.
"I was born in Alaska in 1963. I had one brother who was three years older than me. His name was Matthew. My mom died seven years later. My dad moved us out of Alaska the following year to Indiana. We lived there six years and then moved back to Alaska. I had turned seventeen when they found the car. Matt was furious. He was never the same after that. When I was twenty-one, I went to college, planning on becoming a teacher. I was six months from graduation when Matt had his accident. He...It was winter he fell in the ocean. He was under so long, he was alive when he came up but he was in a coma. He died after two weeks in a coma." Malorie stopped a second
"Malorie, I get the feeling you never told me this," Miss Parker stated.
"I've never told anyone except the small part I told Jarod," Malorie answered.
"Why not?" Miss Parker questioned. Malorie sat down on the bed.
"I'm not sure, I guess this was the part of me I kept private," Malorie answered. Then, she continued. "After that, I didn't want to be a teacher. Nature began interest me. I studied alone for years. And not just in Alaska, in forests and oceans. Hundreds of different eco-systems, food chains and food webs. Learning everything about it I could. My father supported me so much. Funding the trips I took all over the world to study nature. When I was thirty ,my dad found out about his heart and moved to Ohio. He still lives there. When Jarod first met me I was taking an Arctic Biology course at the University of Alaska. Watching the Twin Peaks of Mt. McKinley. And as you know, here is where we met, Fairbanks, Alaska."
Miss Parker and Malorie held hands. Then, hugged.
* * *
Minneapolis Community General
"So he was with two women that looked exactly alike?" Brigitte questioned.
"Yes, that's correct," Dr. Fitzgerald answered. She had black hair and green eyes.
"Thanks," Brigitte replied. She exited the hospital and opened her cell-phone. She dialed.
"Hello," said a cheery voice.
"Mr. Lyle, is there any record of Miss Parker having a twin?" Brigitte asked.
"No, not a twin. There was a possibility of someone who looked like her in Alaska, but I believe she was taken care of," Mr. Lyle replied.
"I think she might have returned," Brigitte answered.
"You know what to do," Mr. Lyle replied.
"Yes sir," Brigitte answered.
* * *
"He should have called by now," Malorie said. She was still standing by the window.
"If Jarod is as smart as you say he is then he is fine," Miss Parker told her cousin.
"You're right," Malorie replied. "He's probably on a plane on his way here."
Miss Parker nodded, although somehow her cousin's words sounded somewhat less than certain. She swung her legs off the bed and walked over to the window. Her ribs were bruised and hurt slightly as she walked. "Malorie, you've been up for hours. I get the feeling you haven't been sleeping. You barely ate anything at dinner. Why don't get some rest?"
Malorie hesitated. "Okay. Just for a little while," Malorie answered. Almost as soon as she laid down she went to sleep. Miss Parker leaned against the window a second. She'd stood there, then decided she wanted some coffee. She turned and saw the box with her belongings in it. She smiled.
* * *
Minneapolis Community General
"Well, they aren't here," Broots said.
"Yes, but according to Dr. Fitzgerald, Brigitte has been here. I have a feeling I know where they went," Sydney answered.
"How could you know? Jarod didn't leave anything," Broots replied.
"It's not what Jarod didn't leave behind. It's who he was with," Sydney responded. Broots still confused followed Sydney back to the car.
* * *
Miss Parker looked at herself in the mirror. She couldn't believe that she wore this kind of thing all the time. Blue suit-coat, white shirt, blue skirt, stockings, and high heels. Although somehow, it almost looked right. However, she got the feeling that she didn't look in the mirror that often.
Malorie was still asleep. Miss Parker headed to the cafeteria to get some coffee.
Down in the lobby, visitors were arriving. Brigitte stormed. She was feeling very sure of herself and followed by two sweepers. This time she didn't ask. The sweepers looked at the computer and told her the room number. Brigitte got in the elevator. She had one sweeper wait in the lobby and two others wait in the elevator.
Brigitte entered the hospital room hand on gun. Malorie was asleep in the bed. Brigitte remembered her orders. If Miss Parker did have amnesia, she was to kill her.
Miss Parker carried a cup of coffee and was headed towards the room. She noticed the door was only cracked open. She didn't remember trying to close it. Miss Parker put the coffee aside on a nearby table. Almost instinctively, her hand went to her side. To a bulge in her pocket she hadn't noticed. She took grasp of her gun.
Brigitte aimed her gun. Why wait and find out if Miss Parker had amnesia? She had her chance at catching Jarod, Brigitte thought. Now, it's my turn. She could simply shoot the gun and tell Mr. Lyle that Miss Parker really did have amnesia and had been taken care of.
Brigitte was so deep in schemes she didn't realize the door opening behind her. Miss Parker slipped in quietly wielding her gun. She saw Brigitte aiming at her cousin but Miss Parker didn't shoot. Instead, she raised the gun and hit Brigitte in the back with it. One gun shot fired before Brigitte was rendered momentarily unconscious.
Malorie woke startled. She saw Miss Parker holding a gun and Brigitte lying unconscious on the floor. In the halls, confusion broke out. "What was that?" The sweepers in the elevator were alerted and rushed toward the room.
The cousins clasped hands and ran out of the room. They started toward the elevator, but saw sweepers advancing towards them and took off in the other direction. The sweepers headed towards the room and saw Brigitte just waking up. "Are you alright?" they asked.
"Fine!" she exclaimed. She got up. "Find them!" The sweepers nodded and headed down the hall.
Malorie and Miss Parker turned the corner and stopped. The sweepers looked puzzled a second. "Did they see you?" Malorie whispered.
"Not clearly," Miss Parker whispered back. Her sides ached.
"Okay, we'll split up. I'll go that way." Malorie nodded towards a stairwell. "And you head back for the elevator." Malorie peeked around the corner. Brigitte and the sweepers were checking rooms. "Now!"
"No! Wait--" Miss Parker began. She was too late. Malorie had already run out and shots fired. Miss Parker saw her flinch as she headed for the stairs. Had she been shot? The sweepers headed to the stairs after her.
Miss Parker emerged from behind the corner cautiously. She looked at the entrance to the stairwell. She saw several small droplets of blood. Malorie had been shot! Miss Parker headed onto the stairwell. "Hold it!" Miss Parker spun around to see Brigitte's gun staring her in the face.
"You!" Miss Parker growled contemptuously. She thought of Malorie. Brigitte must've given the order to fire.
Brigitte swayed forward. "You should've killed me when you had the chance!" she hissed. Miss Parker was silent. She accessed her surroundings. She saw a metal pan on a table next to her. Brigitte stood close. "Cat got your tongue, luv?"
"I told you," Miss Parker began. She grabbed the pan and hit Brigitte with it. "Never to call me luv!" Miss Parker ran down the stairs. She saw the Sweepers heading onto one of the lower floors. As she was about to do the same, she noticed Malorie laying on the floor at the nearby landing.
Miss Parker rushed to her side fearing the worst. The sleeve of her blouse was red. "Malorie! Malorie!" she yelled. Her cousin didn't move.
Just then, Brigitte came storming down the stairs. Miss Parker had no time to think about it. She ran out into the corridor. Brigitte followed. Miss Parker couldn't help but wonder, was Malorie alright? Or was she-- Suddenly, there was Jarod. If there was one person Brigitte wanted more than Miss Parker it was Jarod.
Brigitte and the sweepers ran off after Jarod. Miss Parker ducked into a side hall and let them pass. Then, she ran back to the stairwell. She felt a pain ripping through her stomach. When she reached the landing where Malorie had lain, she was gone. Where had she gone? Had she gotten up and moved? Had some hospital personnel come by and had her taken away? If so, where? The operating room? The morgue? Miss Parker collapsed in her cousin's place and was swept into a state of unconsciousness.
* * *
Blue Cove, Delaware
"We've stopped all internal bleeding. She must've have been very active for those stitches to come loose. She is going to be fine but I suggest a lot of bed rest," said the doctor. Mr. Parker nodded.
Miss Parker sat up and looked around. "How did I get..." her voice trailed off. "Daddy!"
"How are you doing, Angel?" Mr. Parker asked. "Now, how on earth did you get into so much trouble?"
"I don't remember," Miss Parker began. "I--"
"Don't remember," Mr. Parker replied. "You've been gone for eleven days and you don't remember any of it."
"No, I just left to go to Milwaukee a few hours ago. I had a lead on Jarod," Miss Parker answered.
"That was eleven days ago," said Sydney. He had been standing at the other side of the room.
"Eleven days!" Miss Parker exclaimed.
"I'll check in on you later, Angel," Mr. Parker replied. He exited.
Miss Parker looked at Sydney. " Eleven days," Miss Parker said again. "What happened?" she asked.
"Acccording to Jarod you were hit by a car and got amnesia," Sydney told her.
"For eleven days!" Miss Parker exclaimed.
"I don't know all the details but I think Jarod does. He was with you the whole time," Sydney said.
"Eleven days!" Miss Parker exclaimed again.
* * *
Brigitte peeked in. She was on her way to see Mr. Raines, but had decided to stop by and see if Miss Parker really didn't remember the whole incident.
"What do you want?" Miss Parker demanded.
Brigitte's took the red sucker out of her mouth. "Just came to see how you were doing and to tell you I hope all goes well with the evaluation," Brigitte gave her a searching look.
"I suppose you'll be there," Miss Parker replied.
"Wouldn't miss it for the world. Esspecially when I nearly caught Jarod in Alaska," Brigitte paused as though she expected a response. Seeing there was none, the sucker went back in her mouth, and she continued down the corridor.
Miss Parker sat there puzzled a second, then whispered, "Eleven days!"
* * *
Three Days Later
Miss Parker entered. She gave the room a once over. She saw the Director sitting closest and Brigitte and Mr. Lyle smiling at the opposite end of the long table. And for once, Brigitte did not have a sucker.
The evaluation started out slow, with basic questions about Miss Parker, Pretenders, Jarod. Finally Brigitte stood up and said, "I advise that Miss Parker be taken off the chase. She's been at it for a year now. It's time to give someone else a chance!"
"I know Jarod!" Miss Parker exclaimed
"That may be the problem. He knows you and he knows how to out-smart you. He's a genius," Mr. Lyle.
"There is no denying Jarod's genius. But I assure you, that is not the problem. It will be the solution," Miss Parker answered.
"And how's that?" Brigitte asked.
"Brigitte, we will ask the questions," the Director stated.
"I've nearly had Jarod at at least seven different locations. Give me more time and I assure you I will get him," Miss Parker answered.
"Eight locations if you count Alaska," Brigitte grumbled.
"And what great thing happened in Alaska?" Miss Parker inquired.
"I nearly kil--caught Jarod," Brigitte answered.
Miss Parker knew that wasn't it. It was at that moment she remembered. **Milwaukee, chase, car, accident, coma, Malorie, Jarod, amnesia, "What are Pretenders?" garden, her mother, Miami, truth, Minneapolis, hospital, Brigitte, Alaska, where was Jarod?, Malorie sleeping, gun, Brigitte, Malorie, sweepers, running, stairwell, blood, Brigitte, "Never! call me luv," Malorie, unconscious, dead?, Brigitte, running, Jarod, hiding Malorie missing, blackout.**
"What I'm saying is, there was a number of times she could 'ave caught Jarod and didn't. She's clearly not committed to catching 'im," Brigitte explained. Miss Parker hadn't heard the question Brigitte had just been asked but her memories had told her more than she'd ever wanted to know about Brigitte's darker side.
Miss Parker stared at Brigitte, controlling her anger. "I was in the infirmary the last few days from injuries I received while in pursuit of Jarod in Milwaukee. I was nearly run down by a car. Now, do you really believe I would have run into that busy street if I was not committed to catching Jarod?"
None of them could deny that it would be very illogical for Miss Parker to nearly get killed over Jarod if she didn't really want to catch him. They had a short recess, then reconvened. The director stood and said, "Miss Parker, you will continue in your pursuit of the escaped Pretender, Jarod. Assistance from Brigitte will continue. Miss Parker, this is not over. If at anytime in the future we suspect you are not performing this chase to your utmost abilities you will be re-evaluated. Meeting adjourned!"
The room cleared. Brigitte glared at Miss Parker on her way out. Miss Parker returned the glare. Brigitte opened a sucker and put it in her mouth.
Miss Parker met Sydney in the halls. "How did it go?" Sydney asked.
"It went well," Miss Parker answered. "Syd, how did I get back to the Centre?"
"Broots and I found you at a hospital in Alaska and brought you back with us," Sydney answered.
"Did you see Jarod or Malorie when you were there?" Miss Parker inquired.
"No, but Jarod called. Malorie is fine. She just had a deep graze on her left arm. She's at home and feeling fine. And he said you should check your office," Sydney answered.
Miss Parker nodded and headed for the elevator. When she reached her office, she found a package. She opened it. Inside was the music box Jarod had given her. Miss Parker smiled and as she examined the dancing white cat. Then, she picked up the phone and dialed. "Hello?"
"Malorie, how are you feeling?" Miss Parker asked.
"My arm is a little sore, but other than that I'm fine. You have your memory back," Malorie replied knowingly.
"Yes," Miss Parker answered. "Most of it anyway. I have a number of bunny stories in my head and I have no idea where those came from."
Malorie giggled. "While you were in a coma, Jarod insisted we read to you and he chose bunny stories," Malorie replied.
"So, Jarod really was there the whole time?" Miss Parker asked.
"The whole time," Malorie answered. "Hold on a sec."
Miss Parker waited. She heard a click. "Malorie! Malorie!" There was no answer. Miss Parker hung up and dialed again. Busy signal. Miss Parker thought nothing of it, guessing Malorie had another call she was dealing with.
Miss Parker wound the music box and listened to it play the song "Memories" from the play Cats.
She had no idea that she would soon be very sorry she'd paid no attenion to that busy signal.
The phone was off the hook and continually beeping. The furniture was overturned and the door was open. A picture of Miss Parker and Malorie together was lying on the wood floor. The glass to the frame was shattered.
And outside, a silvery gray car was pulling away from the curb.
Please read Fear's Only Enemy next!