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A Lesson in Shopping



Sweat was pouring down Jarod's forehead. He had awoken from a deep sleep where he had been dreaming about the deprivation chamber that Lyle had tried to kill him and then resuscitate him. It had been the one most terrifying event in his life next to his abduction. He knew that he would not be able to return to sleep, the images still playing in his mind.

He sat in front of the motel window looking at the blinking no vacancy sign. His heart ached for some sense of normalcy. To be with his family. He wondered what they were doing right at this moment. Did his father and (it was still hard for him to think about it) son have any sense of mediocrity. Was his sister finding sound sleep? Was Ethan safe? And where was his mother? It was one of the few times that he allowed a single tear to flow down his cheek.

"Weakness." Parker would have told him. Parker. Their time on the island had been heart warming and heart breaking. She refused to show weakness, especially in front of her father. But there were times when he wanted to be weak. To run out into the street to scream, cry, and just out right show his rage at what was his life. He was sure that Parker felt the same way too, but just would never allow herself to show it.

Jarod turned into the room, which was dark except for the light from the blinking sign. He decided despite the hour, to turn on his television set. Maybe he would find one of those humorous programs that ran while he had been captive at the Centre. He particularly liked the one that the character said "Up your nose with a rubber hose." He was unsure what putting a hose in one's nostril would accomplish, but it sounded funny. He clicked the remote and started to surf the channels. What perplexed him was how could there be so many different channels and so little programming. What he had noticed over the years that there were quite a few programs where people promoted different devices, programs, and lifestyle enhancements. As he was surfing through the many channels, one caught his attention. A wide smile appeared on his face and he dialed the number he saw on the screen.

"Yes, I would like to order item #A-100694. Yes. MasterCard. M. Parker. Yes my next item is.........."



Broots ran into Miss Parker's office. "Miss Parker we found him!" He stopped short when he saw Lyle standing there.

Parker gave him a look. "Come on." She barked at Lyle. They headed for the jet.

Two hours later the Centre team approached a Warehouse in Atlanta. Parker motioned for Lyle, Raines, Sydney, and Broots to try the side entrance they had seen from the street. She and the Sweeper team would go through the front entrance. Willie opened the front door and Parker went through with her gun drawn. Willie and one of the other sweeper team members followed her. Just as the last man made it through the doorway, a steel metal door closed over the main door.

"Oh damn!" Parker kicked the door. "Not again."

Lyle approached the side entrance. He opened the door slightly and peeked in. He saw an empty room with a television set in the middle of it. He signaled to Raines, Broots and Sydney that he was going in. He snuck into the room and before Sydney could follow a metal sheet came over the doorway. Lyle turned to look at the doorway. "I'm going to kill you Jarod when I find you."

Sydney was startled by the iron sheet coming over the door. He stumbled backward and accidentally hit Broots. Broots took a few awkward steps backward and tripped a trap door. He went sliding down a slide into the basement of the warehouse. "Whoaaaaaaa" is all Sydney heard as the trap door snapped shut. He tried to trip the door, but couldn't get it to budge. "What are you up to Jarod?" Sydney said to himself. He proceeded to go around the back of the building with Raines close behind. Sydney walked up to the back door, opened the door, and proceeded through. Nothing happened. Raines seeing this pulled Sydney back out of the door and proceeded through. A steel door covered the entryway. Sydney just smiled and continued around the building. He found one more door on the opposite side of the building. Just as he got through the door, a metal sheet dropped. "Very interesting." Sydney said as he walked into the room.

Parker walked cautiously into the room. There was a television set, a VCR, and a mat with circles on it. Parker surveyed the room and then proceeded to hit PLAY on the VCR. Jarod's face appeared on the screen.

"Good afternoon. I would like to introduce you to a very popular product. It will dancercise you to a new firm and trim you. There are only 7 more packages left, so please call now. They will go quickly. Let me give you a free trial offer. You perform all 40 minutes of our routine and you will be released from that prison you have been trapped in all your life. So take two circles, because it will take 40 minutes of movement on those circles for you to walk free. Now let the free trial begin." Parker stared at the screen as the exercise guru Richard Simmons appeared on the screen. "Hello Everybody. Let's start Sweatin to the Oldies!"

"You pain in my ass!" Parker screamed as she kicked off her stilettos and took a place over two circles. "Well." She motioned to the Sweepers to take their place. "A word of this to anyone and I will personally kill you." The Sweepers acknowledged knowing that she would do it.

Lyle walked into the room. There was a television set and VCR sitting on a counter of a makeshift kitchen setup. He walked to the VCR and hit play.

"Good afternoon. I would like to introduce you to a very popular product. You will be cooking up a storm in no time at all. Look at those legs and thighs. There are only 7 more packages left, so please call now. They will go quickly. Let me give you a free trial offer. You will cook chicken catchatory for four. Your dinner parties will never be the same with your new Cookware and Free Your Time Cookbook. Make sure you use your pressure cooker correctly. It will take 40 minutes and you will be released from that prison of your kitchen that you have been trapped in. So start cutting up those vegetables and potatoes because this cooker is weight sensitive. Now welcome Happy Chef and let the free trial begin."

Lyle pulled his gun from its holster and aimed at the television. He pulled the trigger and the television exploded. "I hate infomercials." He picked up the knife and started cutting the chicken like an expert.

Broots came to a stop at the end of the slide on his bottom side. "Boy that was fun." He said to himself. He looked around at his surroundings. There was a staircase with a door at the top. Broots went and tried the door, but it was locked. "Great. Locked in a dark basement. I hate basements." Broots looked around and in a small corner was a computer desk with a computer on it. He went and looked around and decided to turn on the computer. Jarod's face immediately popped up.

"Good afternoon. I would like to introduce you to a very popular product. You will be accessing the Internet and chatting with friends in no time at all. This Intel Pentium 4,2 OGHz computer system is everything that you have ever wanted. There are only 7 more packages left, so please call now. They will go quickly. Let me give you a free trial offer. If you can decrypt the program installed on this system, you will be released from that prison you have been trapped in. So it will take 40 minutes so get started."

Broots hit the enter key. "No! Not Windows XP and I have to access saved files in ............Yahell!"

Raines pulled his oxygen tank into the small room he occupied. He tried the door on the opposite side of the room, but it was locked. "You think you're so smart Jarod. We'll see." Raines saw a wardrobe, VCR, television, and some sort of red runway carpet. Raines pushed the PLAY button.

"Good afternoon. I would like to introduce you to a very popular product. You will be that Runway model you have always wanted to be in no time at all. The fashions by Victoria Secrets are the hottest items of the season. You have the runway and the accessories. Knock yourself out. These fashions will go quickly, so order now. You will be released from that prison you have been trapped in when you have modeled all the fashions in the wardrobe up and down the walkway. It has been sensitized to know that added weight must accompany your poundage, which has been calibrated the minute you stepped on the rug. So you will have the next 40 minutes to make yourself a star."

Raines opened the cabinet to see all variations of woman's undergarments and sleepwear. He caressed the feathered boa gently............

Sydney walked into the room and saw a television, VCR, and what looked like various pieces of exercise equipment. Sydney went over to the VCR and hit PLAY.

"Good afternoon. I would like to introduce you to a very popular product. It will help you tighten those abs and firm those calves. There are only 7 more packages left, so please call now. They will go quickly. We offer you a 40-minute trial offer. Use each piece of equipment for five minutes each and you will be released from that prison you have been trapped in. So take off those extra pounds with GoHome equipment pieces."

"Well I could stand to lose a few pounds." Sydney headed for the treadmill first.

Three hours later Parker, Lyle, Sydney, Raines, Broots, and the Sweepers walked in exhausted into the Centre. All the personnel snickered and went on hurriedly. As they moved further into the room, they could see televisions all over the place. Each one was playing the outcomes from the Warehouse. Parker, without saying a word, kicked the closet one and headed for her office. Something about seeing Raines in a pink-feathered nightie just made her want to destroy something and get a drink.











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