Nowhere To Run
The night was calm and peaceful. Exactly the way he liked it. Johann inhaled the fresh night air and sighed. This was about as close to paradise as one man could come. It didn't matter that Carrie Reed was being a troublesome ninny thrashing about as she was, he could still see the beauty in the night. A night that would bring him closer to his goal than he had ever been before.
Carrie ripped at the overalls he was wearing. They weren't part of his normal attire. They were part of the disguise he'd need for later. The strange outfit made Johann seem like a regular Salem working man. It made him feel like a part of the gritty neighborhood, and the subservient sensation it gave him was not a pleasant one.
Carrie knew nothing of Johann's special "gifts" or his unending knowledge of the unexplained. If she did, she would have recognized the hand that hovered near her neck was about to render her helpless. It wasn't a Vulcan death grip or anything quite so remarkable. It was pure anatomical science. Johann certainly subscribed to the belief that knowledge was power, and knowing the simplest of facts seemed to make him invincible.
Carefully, he placed his hand at her neck and found the exact spot. Just enough pressure had her slumping against his shoulder. Every time he performed the time tested endeavor, it always amazed him that such a simple tactic always worked.
Without another thought, he carried her out to the waiting car and hid her in the back seat. The make shift hiding place would have to be adequate until he dealt with Ali and Miss Castle's current obstacles.
On the street, no one stared. No one noticed that his handsome features were a mask behind which was not another face but an emptiness. He was the first in his family line to dodge the bullet of physical deformity and in a sense, he was his own version of Frankenstein.
He could tell the villagers in his town were disappointed when he'd been born. Disappointed to see that Johann Starck looked remarkably normal.
"No blood red eyes. No fangs. No physical deformity," he remembered saying. "How boring of me."
The rumormongers in the village, who believed anything they heard and embellished all, gossiped with the self righteousness of spectators at a Salem witch trial. He was surely glad they left the tiresome past behind them, but in unique ways the 1990's resembled the 1190's. At times the similarities were frightening, even to him.
Wearing the uniform of the Salem Parks Department, Johann went in search of Angelique. He knew approximately where she would be. Tonight, her goal was to way lay Dr. Wesley and keep him from discovering his and Mrs. Reed's whereabouts. In Miss Castle's time, she had been one hell of a little actress. Bloody well, impressive even. He knew Dr. Wesley would get the performance of a lifetime.
Within minutes Johann could make out the screams. He donned a fairly simple disguise before coming upon the two adversaries. Black chunky glasses much
like Clark Kent's and a John Deer hat. It gave him just the redneck impression he wanted. Johann knew that once Dr. Craig Wesley noticed him, he most likely wouldn't remember him later. To Johann, this was very important.
"Is there something wrong here?" Johann asked in his practiced hick drawl.
"This man tried to rape me!" Miss Castle blurted out. Then she pointed an accusing finger at the man next to her. Johann tried not to smile. Craig Wesley's reaction was laughable.
"Is that right?" Johann chawed on some chew and spit. He thought addition particularly effective. Then he glared at Craig and looked sympathetically at Angelique. "Why don't I call the authorities and we'll have them deal with this perpetrator."
Ali sat on the bed in Room 3110 with her legs crossed and one foot playfully fanning the air. She despised waiting but sometimes it was a necessity. Her foot swayed in a U-shape and from her perspective, she was kicking Austin in the face. It was a comforting thought. Austin actually laid on the floor a few feet away crumpled like a poorly packed bag of potato chips. She couldn't help zapping him like that, but he gave her no choice. He was going to help Carrie and she didn't want him to spoil all her well thought out plans.
"Oh, Johann, where are you?" she said in exasperation. "You know how I hate the waiting game." She exhaled a long sigh and fanned her foot faster pretending to repeatedly thwap the boxer. "Knockout," she whispered in victory.
Craig pleaded his case but it was Johann who convinced a very fear stricken Miss Castle to give the poor bloke the benefit of the doubt. He hadn't been trying to rape her, he explained only trying to find his friend Ali.
"She's in trouble and I have to find her before she does something stupid," said Craig.
"Well then, you better be nice to this Ali lady," Johann said with no particular conviction. "You don't want her getting the wrong impression like Angelique here."
"I'm really very sorry for all the trouble I've caused but I really have to go."
Neither waved as Craig hastily made his retreat.
"Well, what have you been up to? Did you deal with our little Miss Carrie?" Angelique asked.
"Our plan is working perfectly. Craig is distracted. Mike will find an empty room and Ali is awaiting instruction."
"What about Mrs. Wesley?"
Johann laughed. Nancy Wesley had posed a particularly perplexing problem, but it had been easily remedied. He remembered it all so vividly. "It should be vivid," he said as he laughed to himself. "It only happened an hour ago."
"I'm so sorry," Johann said to the lady he had just stumbled into. "How clumsy of me. I don't know what it is, but I seem to have two left feet today." He pushed the glasses farther up on his nose and beamed a goofy smile at Nancy.
"That's all right," she said eyeing him suspiciously. Quickly, she regained her composure and focused on the phone at the nurses station. She had to get to it to call Roman.
Politely, she smiled and tried to side step him.
"If you'll excuse me, I have to make an important phone call."
"By all means, please do." Johann gestured toward the phone next to him.
Nancy began to pick up the extension when a voice called to her from somewhere in the distance. She turned. It sounded like Craig. Replacing the phone on its cradle, she followed her husband's voice down the adjacent hallway.
"Craig?" she whispered. "Craig? Is that you?"
Johann found particular pleasure in this little game of cat and mouse. Surprisingly, a talent for throwing his voice had come in quite handy. He never thought he'd be in need of such a skill.
He continued his little game until Nancy stepped into the morgue. Once she was completely inside, Johann slammed the door and locked it. He knew someone would come along eventually and let her out, but at least this little diversion had kept her from calling Roman Brady and spoiling all his fun.
Nancy sat in the cold morgue and shivered. She had to get out of there. Her breath came quicker in short spirts.
"Calm down, Nancy," she said to calm herself. But she knew she wouldn't be calm. She couldn't. It only reminded her of her mother, how her mother had died, and who was responsible.
In a fit of panic, Nancy pounded on the door.
"Let me out of here!" She screamed over and over until she was certain no one would find her. Her breath came quicker in raspy progression until she fell to the floor.
The moonlight glinted through the trees and cast spidery shadows on the dirt path in Salem Park. Mike sighed as he glanced at its silvery brilliance. How many times had he looked at the moon and felt so secure, that all was right with the world. It was strange to see the beams of moonlight in a sinister way. When he looked up he didn't feel comfort, he felt fear. He finally found love and now it was so close to being taken away from him.
Where was Carrie? he wondered. He wanted to believe she was alive. Some internal sensor told him she was, but where had Ali taken her? The ultimate question was: had Ali actually been the kidnapper? Shakily, he raked a hand through his newly shorn blond hair. One thing was for certain. He couldn't dismiss the gut feeling that his Carrie, his angel, was in danger.
But even that was only a feeling. A feeling somewhere near his soul where he had so many times felt the presence of who he believed to be God. He wasn't sure of anything any more. Carrie could have been away on business and not had time to inform anyone. He wanted to believe that. The faster the minutes ticked away, the more likely he was to accept anything. Cling to any wisp of hope.
There was one thing he could do... follow the only lead he had. And the only one which presented itself at the moment was Craig and Nancy's heresy about Ali. Was she really that crazy to have kidnapped Carrie? She wouldn't accept their breakup so he knew anything was possible. He still couldn't think Ali capable of this... of kidnapping.
Quickly, he cleared his mind. He was wasting time standing around like this asking 'what if.' He had to act before his inaction got is love killed. Finally he made his decision. If he couldn't find Carrie, he'd find Ali instead. Ali would lead him to his love whether she wanted to or not.
Checking his watch, he realized it was time to meet Craig back at the crossroads. With Craig's help, they'd find her. But even his mental ego boosting did nothing to soothe his troubled soul.
Within the hour, Johann was back at the Foundation House. The Foundation House was expertly hidden in Salem Park but known to most of its senior residents. It was a familiar landmark to many but mostly went unnoticed by the bulk of Salem society. Four white pillars rose out of the ground as if grown there like a large flowering plant. A stones throw from the dramatic arts center and up the hill from the merry-go-round, most people didn't realize someone actually inhabited the large estate. The house for years cast an eerie presence on Salem Park and it had in its time acquired many legends about prior occupants. Most believed it to be haunted but only few knew for sure. Some citizens swore looking at the Foundation House was like visiting the past. Only Johann Starck knew how true that folk lore to be.
"Miss Castle," he bellowed as he walked through the foyer carrying the body of Carrie Brady Reed in his arms.
"She's not here, sir," Bosley, the butler informed him.
"Then pray tell, where is she? She left the park before I did." Johann wasn't use to being kept waiting. He was use to others following his orders. Not the other way around.
"Visiting Miss McIntyre, I assume. Miss Castle was talking about her just before she left." Bosley took Johann's coat and placed it on a hanger in the hall closet. He wasn't surprised by the body in his master's hands. He had seen many like her over the years. This one, he noticed, the master held particularly gently.
"Very well then," Johann said in a very Shakespearean voice. "Fetch me a brandy. I'll be in the guest quarters."
Bosley nodded, bowed and did his walk/waddle into the library to fetch his master his beverage.
The room was large and filled with antique furniture Johann had acquired over the years. Most of the wood was in a light mahogany which accented the pale blues of the curtains and bedspread. The large open space always brought him comfort which was probably why he had chosen this as Carrie's new room. He liked aligning Carrie with this feeling of comfort. It made him feel all the more closer to her. It gave him the confidence to make her to believe in the fairy tale he was about to tell. A fairy tale that was all too real yet faintly fictitious in nature.
As he sat on the edge of the bed it strained under his weight. Carrie's body slightly shifted and rolled toward him. Johann caught her and brushed the stray hairs away from her face. She was so beautiful. So exactly like what he wanted. So much like her it was truly scary.
A stray wind burst into the room and split the curtains landing on her like a soft whisper causing her hair to whip around. The noise and wind didn't wake her.
An old friend had told him once he would find Cassandra in the eyes of another in another time. He was skeptical such a thing could transpire but looking at Carrie, he saw his love, his Cassandra, and the hope that had died in him so long ago was once again restored. Cassandra was going to be his again. The excitement of love blossomed in his heart. He would coax her back little by little until she inhaled the breath of life. This time he wouldn't have to stoop to brainwashing. Cassandra was inside Carrie. He could see it. He could feel it. And soon, so would she.
Bosley entered with a snifter of brandy and handed it to Johann.
"Thank you, Bosley." Johann didn't turn. He couldn't take his eyes off of Carrie.
"How is our new guest doing?" Bosley spied the bloody clothes and bent down to retrieve them.
"On the road to recovery. The effects of the hypnosis will soon ware off."
"She's a strong one. I think she'll fair better than the rest."
"As do I, Bosley. As do I. Mrs. Reed may be the one I've been searching for."
Bosley scowled at the stained clothing and dreaded removing the stains considering instead to throw the garments out entirely.
"Sir, would you mind if I disposed of this garment?" asked Bosley changing the subject.
"If you wish, she won't be in need of it. We have plenty of clothes for her here."
Bosley sighed with relief. "Thank you, sir. I was not looking forward to removing the fake blood stains. They are so very hard to launder out."
Johann laughed. "By all means then, pitch them."
Carrie stirred and rolled over facing the other direction. In doing so, the two piece satin pajama set she was wearing split apart revealing her flat stomach —- her flat, unwounded stomach. The entire night, the blood, the fear, it had all been an illusion. An illusion of his own making.
Johann thanked the butler and made his way down the rickety iron steps into the bowls of the Foundation House. Many antique tools of torture dotted the room, but only one was in use. It was a large cylindrical tube filled with water. Inside was Derek Raige immersed up to his neck. He appeared to be asleep and Johann tapped the controls sending a jolt of electricity into the tube.
Derek screamed. His moans could be heard even outside the cylinder. Johann didn't flinch. He only glared at the man who had betrayed him.
"Mr. Raige," he said when Derek recovered from the voltage. "You know what I do to people who disappoint me. Yet still, you clearly disobeyed me and tried to help her. Warn her."
Derek clinched his teeth to stop them from chattering. "Let her go," he managed when the spasms subsided.
"Let her go?" Johann laughed. "Why Mr. Raige. As you know, that's not at all possible now. She's passed phase one. Obviously, I'll want to continue with phase two."
"No!" he protested as another shockwave of electrical current hit his body.
"Yes. Three more tests will prove her worth."
"But she's not the one you really want."
"Oh, Mr. Raige, I disagree. You know what Professor Morris said..."
"No! She's not Cassandra! And even if she was, Cassandra wouldn't want you. Not any more."
"Why, my good man, what would give you that idea?"
"Because before she died, Cassandra agreed to marry me. She was in love with me."
Johann turned the voltage to high and left the room with Derek's bellow like wind on his back.
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