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Jarod stood out by the window staring at the map of the surrounding location, that Ethan had obtained for him. It showed more than just the normal scenery, this map had some hidden or unmarked buildings belonged to the Centre. He hated being this close to the Centre, but he needed to be. He had unfinished business. His phone rang.
She walked through the corridors. The shrieks met her ears. He followed behind her as he always did. They crept around corners and lurked in the shadows, and they stared as they saw her father pass by one of the corridors with the insufferable Mr. Cox. She still wanted to kill him. She could feel the lies brewing between her father and Cox, and she knew it was only a matter of time before they spouted them to her. After they had passed, she motioned him to follow. They made their way much further into the secure unit. There was something not right about what they were seeing. After what happened with the cloning, Brigitte, and then her new brother she wouldn’t be surprised to see something equally criminal. There were men and women in locked rooms. They jumped around and shrieked like animals. She could barely stand the sounds escaping these people. What are they doing to them?
He tapped on her shoulder as they neared some doors at the end of a corridor that read "Examination Room". They looked into the high windows and shuddered at the scene. It was horrifying and equally malice. They were doing experiments on humans, leaving them without sense or life.
They backed away as one of the doctors walked towards the doors. All she could tell him was, "Hide." They both scattered out of sight.
When it was clear she called out to him, but he was know where to be found. She knew where he had gone. He went back up to the house where they were supposed to be. She couldn’t go back now she had to see more. She had to know what they were doing.
Broots ran out the way they’d come, straight back to the room where they were asked to wait. He knew Miss Parker had stayed behind, but he wasn’t about to go after her. Broots understood she had to stay, if she had left, then she wouldn’t get the information she wanted. He knew what was important to her. He would help her anyway he could, except being down there.
Jarod answered his phone. Sydney was on the other end. He told Jarod of the house, and its contents, that Miss Parker had gone there, and that she may need help. Then he hung up. Brief and to the point.
Jarod turned to see his father, Ethan, the boy (who hadn’t chosen a name yet) and Emily sitting in the living room of their new lair. He hated all the moving around, but he knew he was keeping his family alive. "Dad?"
"Yes, Jarod?" Major Charles looked up from the computer he was working on with Ethan.
"I need to talk to you," Jarod hesitated a moment, "privately."
"No!" Ethan yelled out. "You can’t leave, Jarod! We need you here!" Ethan had grown attached to his ‘new’ family especially his big brother. He wanted to keep Jarod safe.
"Ethan," Jarod’s tone became soft and parental, "there are people I must help. The Centre is doing terrible things to them. We can’t just let them suffer, can we?"
Ethan stared into his brother’s face. He wanted to say YES!, "No, but I am going to help."
Jarod put his hand on Ethan’s shoulder and turned to face his father. "Dad, Ethan and I are going to stop The Centre I know the rest of you want to help, but I want you to stay safe. I will keep Ethan safe."
“And I’ll keep Jarod safe.” Ethan nodded as if he was truly reassuring his father.
Jarod smiled and his father.
Major Charles stared at his sons. "Very well. I see no reason to argue with you, Jarod. You know more about The Centre than I."
Jarod walked into the room. His hair hung in his face. The windy helicopter pad were he had gained access to the manor was like being back in the hurricane all those years ago. He glanced around. That smell. Jarod winced. He could smell the torture endured here. He knew no matter what happened he had to stop the pain inflicted here, but how? This place was as bad as The Centre, if not worse. He thought of Kyle, and everything he must have endured. His heart sank. Shrieks of pain rang through the hall of the manor. There were footsteps fast approaching. He had to hide and fast. He turned to look around and his leather jacket moved with him. A tapestry caught his eye. It swayed slightly. It was heavy and hung from the wall near the ceiling. It was red with an intricate pattern decorating it. It looked somewhat familiar to him, but he couldn’t place it. He didn’t have the time. His eyes followed it to the ground. It was hiding something. Jarod quickly moved to the tapestry and pulled it back. There was a balcony behind it. He stepped onto the balcony and let the tapestry fall back behind him. It was hot out. Wearing the leather jacket was uncomfortable. Jarod peeled it off and chucked the jacket over the balcony. He could always get another with Centre funds. He grinned momentarily.
He cautiously made his way along the balcony, which seemed to stretch out around the house. He came to a set of double glass doors. From around the corner he peered into the room, and there was no one to be found. He tried the doors and they clicked opened. "Ethan, is there anyone around this room?" Jarod talked through an earpiece he stuck in his ear. It came down into a microphone in front of his mouth. Ethan had gained access to security surveillance for this house and Jarod was going to use it.
On the other end sitting in the apartment building just down the road, Ethan replied, "No one."
Jarod entered the room and crossed it quickly. He cracked the door and listened. Nothing. Jarod carefully made his way out of the room and down the hall. He heard the shrieks again. They seemed to be calling him. He ran down the corridor as quietly as he could. Then the corridor ended. Where to go now? Jarod searched the area and found nothing. "What now?" His frustration got the better of him. He pushed up against a wall.
"Jarod the wall shifted." came Ethan’s voice into his ear.
Jarod quickly pulled away and turned to look at the wall. "I see it. It’s a door." He used all of his strength to push the heavy stone door open. His muscular arms flexed as he pushed on the door. It finally opened. He went in and the door easily shut behind him. He heard the click of machinery as the door latched. He had forced an automatic door. The smell of flesh and blood increased. Jarod winced. He had to find her. He found his way to where the prisoners were kept. He searched every face, and every corner for some small recognition. Behind him, he heard the click of her heals. Jarod whipped around and there stood Miss Parker. She was fine. She looked nothing like a prisoner. Yet, there was something in her eyes that told him she needed him.
"Jarod, what are you doing here?" Her voice was filled with agony.
"I heard you were here and I..." Jarod didn’t finish his sentence.
"What? You came to my rescue? I don’t need rescuing. I can take care of myself, Jarod." She stared coldly at him.
"I never said you did. Except, after the explosion, of course." Jarod held the earpiece out to her. "Say hello to little bro." Jarod knew her. She was covering the pain of what she had seen.
Miss Parker took the earpiece from him, put it into her ear and kindly said, "Ethan? Are you there? How are you?"
"I am fine, sis. Jarod and I have come to help. How are you? Have your wounds from the explosion healed alright?"
"I am fine." She turned. When they were young she could confide in Jarod, but now she felt awkward in his presence. She could feel him studying her movement and what she was saying to her new brother.
"Sis, please trust Jarod. He’s great!" Ethan seemed happy.
"I just assumed Jarod would have turned you against me." Miss Parker said calmly.
"Jarod, would not do that to you or me."
"I have to go, Ethan."
"I will see you, won’t I?"
"Soon, Ethan." Miss Parker took the earpiece from her ear and gave it back to Jarod. "He still cares about me. You didn’t turn him against me." Miss Parker seemed stunned.
"We both care about you, Miss Parker. I would never take Ethan away from you, Lyle yes, but Ethan no." Jarod’s voice was soft and tender.
"You don’t really believe we are going to be friends now, do you?" Emotion overwhelmed her and she wanted to hurt him.
Jarod’s face wavered a bit. She had made contact to his heart that time. She knew she’d hurt him. She felt guilty, but would never let him know it. She turned away from him.
"I believe we have something, what I have never figured out, but we are not enemies. You don’t feel this way towards your enemies."
"What way is that?" She turned, but he was already gone.
Jarod stood in the office he had come into from the balcony. He had to make his way out of this place. Ethan’s voice whispered in his ear about the Centre operatives that had pulled up. Can’t get caught. Jarod saw the computer terminal on the desk. He walked over and pressed a button. Whoever owned this computer had forgotten to log off. Jarod sat down at the computer. He grabbed a disk and shoved it into the drive. He started searching for the information he wanted. He heard voices. "Lyle."
Into Jarod’s ear Ethan said, "There are three people moving toward your position."
"Right." Jarod worked faster. He found it. He started to download it to disc. He could hear the voices and the footsteps draw nearer.
They walked down the corridors. They approached an office outside of the lab area.
"Miss Parker, where is he?" Lyle knew she had seen Jarod. She was protecting him. Why, on earth, would she protect him?
"I told you I don’t know!" She steamed. She hated to be interrogated. She had done only one thing wrong. She hadn’t grabbed onto Jarod and dragged him into The Centre, but part of her was happy she hadn’t. Who would Ethan have in his life if she had done that? The Centre is who he would have.
"Well, I don’t believe you!" He raised his voice.
"And am I supposed to care what you believe." Miss Parker said slowly. She walked ahead of him. Willie was behind them listening to the argument.
"Willie, check the office. Unless Miss Parker has any objections?" He turned towards her.
She glared at him. "Go ahead." She waved her hand at him.
Willie opened the door. He glanced around. "There is no one in there."
Miss Parker turned and looked into the office. Something caught her eye. Before Willie could close the door, she rushed past him pushing the door out of her way.
"He was here," she exclaimed. Her thoughts raced. He had found what she was looking for.
"Really? What makes you think so?" Lyle said puzzled. He didn’t see what Miss Parker did.
She walked over to the desk and grabbed the partially turned computer screen. She turned it so Lyle and Willie could see it.
"That’s what." The screen on the computer flashed, "Download Complete."
Lyle threw his hands in the air. "Great now he has more Centre files. This is just what we need. Willie get Broots in here now."
"Ethan we have to get rid of this car." Jarod pulled the car over. Lyle would soon discover his missing car, again. He looked around to find anything to help him. All he found was more pain. He found a file on Ethan and him in Lyle’s backseat. Jarod left the car and the files. He carried with him the disk that proved his theory: the house was an experimental lab. They performed operations on people, disfiguring and leaving them in pain only to eventually kill them, but no more. He would stop it all. He had to. He just had to make sure he got everything. He wasn’t about shut down one house just to leave more like it functioning.
Ethan had gotten out of the car when Jarod did and now he was standing waiting for Jarod. "Jarod, hurry."
Jarod slammed the car door and they ran up the road a bit and flagged down a car. Jarod and Ethan hopped into the bed of a blue truck that had stopped for them.
Jarod sat down in the booth at the restaurant. "Why was she there?" He mumbled.
"Why was who where, darlin’?" The waitress asked.
"An old friend, Betty. I saw her today in a place so unspeakable. I never thought she would be in a place like that. Despite what she likes people to think, she is too kind to hurt another person the way the others do. Yet she was with them." Jarod sighed and shook his head.
"Honey, maybe you don’t know her as well as you thought." Betty said with concern.
"No, I knew her. I am just not sure if I know her anymore."
Betty put her hands on Jarod’s. "Sugar, if you think there is good in her I am sure you are right. You have some way of knowing things others don’t understand. But either way you're normally right."
Jarod smiled at her.
She smiled back. "So what will it be today? Something to go with that Pez you got there?"
"How about a stack of pancakes."
"And your friend that went into the bathroom?"
"That is my little brother. He will have the same."
"Betty?" Jarod looked at her slightly puzzled.
"What is a stack of pancakes anyway?"
"Jarod, that is why we love you. Maureen, two stacks of pancakes for the cute one over here."
"Coming right up," Maureen yelled from the kitchen.
Ethan came running back to the table were Jarod sat. "I got you a stack of pancakes." Jarod said thoughtfully.
"What is that?"
"Don’t know." Jarod changed the subject quickly. "Ethan, why would Miss Parker be in that place?" Betty was putting syrup and butter drenched pancakes in front of them.
Ethan grabbed his fork and said with a mouthful of pancake, "Why didn’t you ask her?"
Jarod assumed Ethan would have picked up on something but such is not always the case. Jarod looked at his brother. So young and soooo.... wise.
"What did he gets, Broots?" Miss Parker’s teeth clenched. She wanted answers and she wanted them yesterday. It was always yesterday with Jarod. Everywhere they went it was always, "He left here yesterday." She couldn’t take it any longer.
"That's odd." Broots stared at the computer screen and the information scrolling by.
"What is?" Lyle and Miss Parker both seemed interested.
Broots hit a few keys and the screen stopped scrolling. "This is the daily routine for this terminal. Then here," Broots pointed to a line of the information on the screen, "is where Jarod broke the normal routine."
"And?" Miss Parker knew that Broots would get to the point; she hoped it would be soon.
"Well, as you can see it lists the files he took out of the archives." Broots was trying to tell her this in a good way.
"Broots get to the point or I am going to throw you out that window." Miss Parker pointed to the balcony.
Willie entered the room and announced, "Mr. Lyle, we need you to look at something."
"I'll be back, and I want to know what files Jarod got away with." Lyle walked out of the room.
"Miss Parker, look at the dates." Broots knew she would understand what the first dates were.
"Wait! You are not saying he took files on me, are you?" Miss Parker didn’t like the idea of being the focus of Jarod’s attention.
"Half of them, yes. The other are the general over lays of this house and others in the area, also he got quit a few files on what the houses are working on." Broots tried to make it sound like nothing but they all knew when Jarod knew, everything went wrong.
"Why, me? Why is he shifting his attention to me?"
"Damn it!" Lyle burst through the doors.
"What is it, Brother Dear?" Miss Parker said with sarcasm.
"My car is gone, again!" Lyle was mad, but Broots and Miss Parker couldn’t contain themselves. They both laughed at their miffed co-worker. "It’s not funny! He left this." Lyle walked over to Miss Parker and handed her the note Jarod left behind.
Miss Parker laughed and turned it so Broots could read the word written in big red letters, "BOOM." Broots hid his face as he laughed. "Well it would seem Jarod is trying to be humorous." Miss Parker broke the slight tension in the room. "Where did you find the note?"
"It was on the tree in front of where I parked." Lyle felt like giving up. Jarod always did this to him.
"Lyle, maybe you should lock your car."
"Maybe I should get an alarm." At that moment, Willie broke through the doors. "What is it now?"
"We thought you would like to know Jarod abandoned your car a few miles up the road. It is in one piece." Willie almost laughed but contained himself before he could.
"Good." Lyle looked at the others. They all stared at him. "Well, I figured he would blow it up again."
"Back to the files. Broots, I want you to get me the information Jarod took." Miss Parker was all business now.
Lyle walked out the door. Miss Parker leaned over the desk and said firmly, "I want the information he took on me. Don’t give it to anyone else. You got that?"
Broots nodded. Of course he got that. He always did.
Jarod finish off his pancakes and coffee after Ethan had. Jarod slapped money down on the table, and went to talk to Betty, the waitress. Betty had become his friend and he trusted her. Ethan followed him to the counter “Betty, if a women, a thumb less man, an older man with an accent, or a bald man come looking for me tell them I left instructions, but they have to find them." Jarod started to leave but turned back. "Oh, tell the thumb less one thanks for the ride." He waved his thumb in the air as he smiled and headed out the door.
"Good-bye Jarod. Bye, Ethan, it was nice meeting you sweetie." Betty called after them.
Jarod and Ethan crossed the street to the rental agency and moments later peeled off in a very shiny and expensive car… courtesy of The Centre.
"Maureen, the cuties are gone." Betty yelled into the kitchen. When Betty turned back around there stood a women in a leather skirt and high heals.
She held out a picture of sugar and asked, "Have you seen this man?"
"Yep." Betty turned and started to clear off the table where Jarod and Ethan had eaten.
"Did he say where he was going?" Miss Parker seemed miffed. Lyle walked in behind her.
"He said he left instructions, but you’d have to find them." Betty was annoyed. She knew these people were trying to hurt Jarod and Ethan.
Miss Parker held out a card to her. "If you see him call me. He is dangerous and...
"And what? You wanna lock him up and torture him. Honey, I know Jarod and the only thing he could hurt is the person that hurts his family… and you." Betty glared her down.
Miss Parker’s defenses were down. She wasn’t expecting this. "What does that mean?"
"Jarod was completely worried about you, darlin'. He had this notion in his head he needed to save you from... well my guess is them." She pointed to Lyle and Willie.
Betty turned and finished cleaning up. "Let’s go, Lyle." Miss Parker barked.
Without turning around Betty relayed Jarod’s message. "Oh, Jarod also said to tell the thumbless one, 'Thanks for the ride'.
"I’ll bet." Lyle replied. They all left the small café more than slightly annoyed and somewhat puzzled… at least on Miss Parker’s part.
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