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The early sun threw golden beams upon the deep, red, hard wood floor. Jarod sat taking in the beautiful warm sun shining through his windows. Jarod thought happily, after so long he could finally enjoy the simple, special things in life like fresh air, warm sunlight, or a kitten's soft purr; little things that are all so often taken for granted. I'm going to for once let the day take it's own course, he thought as he sipped a cup of hot cocoa.
Just then Jarod's cell phone rang. Maybe I will have to be helping life with its course today, Jarod thought mysteriously.
"Hello, May I ask who's calling?" Jarod answered the phone politely
"Jarod, It's me Emily, Your sister." The young woman spoke softly into the receiver
"Emily, hi. Gosh..." Jarod was amazed to hear his sister's sweet voice
"You didn't exactly expect to hear from me did you?" Emily questioned her brother with a trembling voice
"No not exactly, is something bothering you sis?" Jarod asked timidly hoping he would be mistaken
"Yes, that's actually why I called you Jarod." Emily's voice was filled with fear, profound, strong fright
"What, Emily What?" Jarod's mind was anticipating something dreadful though he was not sure what
"You know the thumbless man, Mr. Lyle." Emily hesitated hoping she would not have to continue on with her dreaded story
"...He's after me again." The innocent, young woman stumbled out the words drenched with terror
Jarod felt his face flush with anger. How could this be happening? , Jarod thought.
The enraged Pretender would do any thing to keep his sister out of harm, even if it meant meeting once again with Lyle; the man who months before had his brother, Kyle executed right before his eyes. Out of all the people in the Centre, Jarod hated Lyle the most.
"Emily, where did you see Lyle last and are you sure he was after you?" Jarod asked precisely and carefully
"In Glendive that's 1800 miles away. I'm in Billings N.W 27, 2727." Emily knew what Jarod's next question would be so she answered it
"Great, I can be there in 30 minutes." Jarod hung up quickly and grabbed his leather jacket
"Miss Parker, Sydney come quickly." Broots called enthusiastically
"What, any leads to where the lab rat's whereabouts?" Miss Parker Snapped ruthlessly
"No but, we received an email from him." Broots responded wearily
The black-hearted woman carelessly pushed aside the balding, computer aid. She read the subject line, To: My Loving Family. Her eyes scrolled down the screen and a flicker of disgust crossed her face.
We all desire answers. Some people just look in all the wrong places. You see I research my evidence and previous answers. The clock is ticking. Be the first to find all the answers and you win.
"Damn it, all he thinks this is, is a game right Syd?" Miss Parker spoke with a aggravated tone of voice
"There is more." Broots swallowed hard as he showed her a set of letters, numbers and punctuation scrambled.
E A S I L S T I E I H S T Y E T 2 E H T H R O E P E K O I S 7 M S P R P K R . - .
The paper the letters were on was a small puzzle
"Well, Broots looks like you have some decoding to do." The woman turned on her heels and left with a the clicking of her shoes
"Good luck Broots. Call if you find any thing." Sydney rested a hand on the typist's shoulder
There was a faint knock on the door. Emily instinctively reached for her gun. The knock persisted. She swung open the honey oak door that divided her from the visitor. The gun that she held in her hand aimed precisely between her company's eyes.
"Hey, take it easy. I'm not going to hurt you." Jarod smiled timidly with his arms open as his sister fell into his warm, loving embrace
"Jarod, come in." Emily spoke still holding on to her brother
"Emily I know I just got here but we need to go. Lyle is making fast progress on finding you. We can't let that happen." Jarod reassured his younger sister
"Bingo" Broots exclaimed as Miss Parker strode in
"Did you unscramble that B.S. Jarod sent us?" Miss Parker was eager to learn what he had to say
No, It doesn't make sense." Broots complained
"That's wonder boy for you." She stated impatiently
"I've got two leads on Jarod. One in Montana and the other is in Minnesota." He told her nervously
"But..." He hesitated as Sydney walked in
"Spit it out." Miss Parker snapped
"The dates where he stayed were identical and both hotels did not record the exact date." Broots finished with a hard swallow
"Well pack your suit cases boy's we're going to Minnesota. Jarod has always loved snow." Miss Parker announced slyly
"Jarod, hotels are so different than home. Do you stay in them often?" The young brunet asked as she stood on the balcony watching the fiery, red sunset
"Yes, It's a life style I've learned very well." Jarod answered whole-heartedly then continued
"The sunset is very beautiful this evening." He commented
"Oh yes, Just like the one mom painted." She said taking in the beauty. As she stared out in to the clouds, she thought of all that her mother would paint. How every wisp of paint would be just perfect.
"Mom likes to paint." Jarod asked but his eyes weren't fixed on the sunset any more, his eyes were once again staring into his mother's topaz blue eyes that stared at him from the old 3x5.
"Yeah, She would paint sunsets just like the one before us, or beautiful, green, rolling hills like the ones yonder. Emily said remembering her mom
"Jarod you know a lot but there is still so much for you yet to discover. Running won't help find those things." Emily tried to just drop a sudden hint but she knew what was coming so she continued anyway
"I know you were deprived of your childhood, your dignity, your soul, and basically your whole life." Emily wasn't supposed to talk like that to her brother but some rules are meant to be slightly bent, or so she thought
"Now, you can have it all back...in time. But you have to stop running." ok great now I'm in for it she thought as she spoke
"I'm trying Emily. It's hard when you have to go through your second childhood when you haven't had a first childhood." Jarod tried not to let his sister know he was offended but it showed through
"Sorry." Emily said trying to forget the fact that she was now running too
"Hey Emily It's getting chilly, let's go inside and watch the Three Stooges." Jarod offered with a smile to show no harm done
"No, I'll pass. I need some time alone to think." She said then turned her attention back to the sky, which had now grown darker
"Ok I'll be inside if you need me." Jarod responded with a frown. Why is she acting so strange, he thought.
" I guess Sis, picked on Jarod's other "lead. Blindly she believes every trick sets. His sister, and him don't expect to see me. They are so wrong." Lyle ran over the details over and over in his mind. How easy is this he thought.
"Now all I have to find sweet little Emily and reel Jarod in." The thumbless man chuckled as he thought aloud
"Ok, Broots why did we choose Minnesota, In the Winter?" Miss Parker called to the man behind her, in the back drivers seat
"Well, Miss Parker you chose Minnesota." Came the reply from the man behind her
"Oh yeah." She grimaced
"Broots, where in Minnesota is Jarod supposed to be?" Sydney questioned
"Just up the road in a small hotel." He replied quickly
The next morning Jarod and checked on his sister. She was still asleep in the bed. Jarod swiftly and quietly picked-up the bedding on the couch careful not to wake Emily and booted up his laptop. He logged on to the Centre's database to find that Mr. Lyle had emailed his father to tell his he was in Miles City, 60 miles away. The email was 15 minutes old. Time was growing short rapidly.
"Hey big brother." Emily said with a yawn
"Oh, hello Emmy. Did I wake you?" Jarod asked sweetly
"No. What are you doing?" She asked him
"Research." He answered briefly not to give her to much information that would worry her
"We need to leave soon." He told her
"I figured that - but where should we go?" She asked
"And when can I go home? When can I stop running? And when will 'they' stop chasing you?" Emily used the term 'they' implying Lyle and the Centre. She tried to remember the way things were before she "met" Lyle. Her eyes swelled with tears.
"I...I don't know Emily. All I know is, we can go home when I'm sure 'they' have stopped chasing us. We can't risk mom's safety." Jarod felt awkward when he used the expressions 'we' and 'home' because Jarod had never before had a home none the less felt at home anywhere.
"Well, Jarod what if 'they' never stop chasing us? What if mom could never again see us? Jarod she had lost you before and wants you back. She's lost Kyle forever and can't have him back does she have to loose me too because of the Centre? Brother, every night she cries her self to sleep because of her losses, but she still hold tight to faith in finding you. Do you even understand?" She scorned angrily, not so much at her brother but at the evil Delaware Corporation.
"Why do you run like a coward? Why do you hide? Hiding wont find mom hiding will find fears inside of your self." Emily broke into a sobbing rampage
"Do I cower? Do you think I spend my life hiding? Is that who you think I am" Jarod's voice was growing weak but he had to know
"Yes. You hide all you life running from what you cannot comprehend. Living in fear of a woman who is just a lonely, lost child who desperately misses her mother and wants to know the truth about her life. Your afraid of a corporation that consists of a man with an oxygen tank, a lost little girl, a gut who has no thumb, a bimbo who's constantly got a lollie-pop in her mouth, and an abusive ex-hubby of the woman who's daughter is the lost child." She told him honestly
"I'm not afraid of Miss Parker, I'm not living in fear of Lyle, and I'm most certainly not intimidated by Raines, none the less any one at the Centre." Jarod was angry with him self for quarrelling with his sister
"Well, you're not exactly intimidating them, and even if you're not afraid of them your afraid of your self. Your afraid you're human. Well news flash, you are. You're a human and yes they can hurt you... mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and not to mention physically." Ok she knew this wasn't acceptable but she was in to deep.
"Emily, your right." Jarod sighed as a single tear rolled down his tan skin soon followed by more
"Jarod, I'm sorry. I just miss mom and I'm afraid." Emily again began to weep this time they two comforted each other instead of yelling
"It's beautiful here." Broots said as he took in the beauty around him
"That it is Broots, that it is." Sydney agreed
"Can it boys. As soon as we find the DSA's and Jarod were out of here." Miss Parker reminded the two men as she waded through 3 feet of snow in order to get to the cabin
"Emily I have checked with the Montana airlines. There are two flights open, Texas or Virginia. Now Texas..."Jarod was cut of there
"Virginia that would be perfect!" Emily said excitedly
"Virginia?" Jarod repeated
"There are a few things we need to do there." Emily apparently didn't want to let him no too much
"Can you be ready in 20 minutes?" Jarod asked and watched her nod
"Hello. Is there a Mr. Jarod Snow staying here?" Miss Parker asked the sliver, haired lady at the check-out desk
"No, no he left quickly. Are you Parker?" the lady queered
"Yes. Did he mention me." Miss Parker listened hoping that the next clue wouldn't be a dead-end
"Yes. He spoke sweetly of you and left a present." The lady said handing over a white box
"A puzzle?" Miss Parker said pulling out a box labeled only missing one clue
"Is this all he left?" Parker longed for more
"Yes a code or possibly a combination." The lady said handing her a slip of paper shaped as a puzzle piece
"S-L-27." Miss parker whispered as she read the words
"Well, thank you." Miss Parker said turning to leave
"Off to Montana." Miss Parker said
"Please fasten your seat belts. We should be arriving in Montana in 15 minutes." The pretty flight attendant spoke softly in the airplane intercom
Perfect, sis won't win again. I'm closer to Jarod than she would know and I'm going to reel him in. Lyle thought proudly.
Jarod held his luggage tight in his left hand and Emily's in his right.
"Ok Emily all we have to do is get on the plane and go." Jarod smiled
"No Jarod, not exactly." A familiar, calm, cool, masculine voice spoke. Jarod felt the cool metal of a gun on his neck.
"You see Jarod, you're coming with me. It's my turn to win."
"What have I done to you, Lyle?" Jarod grimaced
"You make my job hell EVERY day!" Lyle still remained calm
"Lyle, I'll reason with you let Emily go and promise not to harm her and ..." Jarod tried reasoning but the sweepers had already had her at gunpoint.
"No Jarod, it's my job and I take pleasure in it. Emily is just a bonus." Lyle thought excitedly
"No Lyle. You see we got what we want now you let the girl go." Miss parker held Lyle at gunpoint. I've never been so glad to see you, Jarod thought
"Let her go!" Lyle commanded the sweeper. He pushed her aside roughly
"Run!" Jarod demanded
"Jarod You..." Emily argued
"Now!" Jarod screamed in a low, deep voice
"I'll be taking over now bro." Miss Parker still had her gun out but it was now aimed at Jarod
Jarod was relieved that the Huntress let his sister go but now he had to surrender to the Centre.
"Has Dad given you an order to relieve me from my mission?" Lyle knew he had her cornered
"Let it go sis. You lost, and I won." Lyle teased
In a flash Emily had knocked Lyle out with the handle of her gun. Then quickly aimed barrel at Parker.
"Get Lyle's gun!" Emily instructed, but Jarod already had it in hand
"Drop your gun Parker." Emily commanded as Parker slid the gun across the floor now left defenseless.
"I don't think you wish to die, at least not the way your mother did." Emily knew she was on thin ice but she had to break Miss Parker's confidence
"You DON'T know my mother. You DON'T want to mess with me." Miss Parker scorned
"Temper, Temper, Temper." Emily teased as she held the gun steadily knowing she had complete control
"So you noticed?" Jarod questioned knowing the answer
"Since I'm an understanding person I'll cut you a deal. You walk out of here and go home to your precious daddy and be christened a failure or die." Emily said dead seriously
"You wouldn't." Miss Parker challenged
"Wouldn't I? I mean it's easy as one, two, three, or should I say load, aim, and shoot." Emily was very descriptive and the way she talked scared Jarod
Sydney and Broots stood in silence through out the whole confrontation but as soon as Miss Parker turned to leave they followed quickly. The two sweepers then dragged Lyle out.
"We did it!" Emily squealed as her brother embraced her
"No Emily, You did it." Jarod smiled a warm, proud, smile
3 weeks later
"Miss Parker!" Broots called happily "I finally decoded Jarod's secret message." He showed Miss Parker a printed copy of the message and the original paper.
There is hope. The key to it is SL-27.
Miss Parker studied the original puzzle shaped piece remembering the puzzle Jarod sent
"We found our missing puzzle piece." She said wearily