Nowhere To Run
Mike stared at Ali's car in the Salem Inn's parking lot.
"What is she doing here?" he wondered. He was about to wander in and question her about Carrie's disappearance when a boy, barely nineteen ran him over. They both tumbled to the ground a mass of arms and legs.
"I'm so sorry, mister." the boy said picking himself up brushing the newly mowed grass from his jacket.
"That's all right. Next time. Watch where you're going." Mike wiped the dirt from his knees.
"I will." The boy started to walk off when he stopped and turned around. "Do you know where the Brady Pub is?"
"Sure, on the waterfront near Pier 58." Mike pointed into Salem Park. "Through there. Stay on this path and you can't miss it. But they're not open this time of night. You might want to try it tomorrow." Almost as a second thought, he added, "They have great clam chowder."
The young boy humphed and walked on down the path. When he was a good distance away, he turned and shouted, "Thanks."
Mike watched him wander off toward the waterfront. He didn't know if he was any or not. At least someone was finding their way home tonight even if he wasn't. Focusing again, he looked to Ali's car.
"I have to find out what Ali is doing in there."
Mike burst through the doors of the Salem Inn like a man on a mission. The glass doors flung completely open crashing into the walls. This noise rose the security guard who came out to investigate.
"Hey, what's going on out here?" the guard yelled. "You have a problem or something?"
"No, but I think one of your patrons does. I'm a doctor." Mike improved. He didn't want to explain to the guard why he was there. It seemed too long a story to convey and he didn't know how badly Carrie was hurt. If she was really losing blood at the rate he'd seen in the cabin, he had no time to lose.
"Someone called me, but I don't know which room."
"Who is it?"
"Ali McIntyre. Tall, thin, brunette."
"Oh, yeah, the hourly babe. She's still up there. Room..." the guard checked his sheet. "Room 3110."
Mike decided to forgo the elevator and took the stairs instead, two at a time. Within a few minutes, he opened the door to room 3110.
Rolf and Angelique were still in Room 3110 covering their tracks. They quietly retreated to the bathroom when the hinges creaked upon Mike's entrance. On her way into hiding, Angelique grabbed the stun gun from Ali's lifeless hand.
"What do you need that for?" Rolf whispered.
The two observed as Mike Horton walked in to find Ali and Austin on the floor.
"Oh, my God." He knelt to check Austin's pulse. It was thready, but it was there. When he felt for Ali's, she wasn't as lucky. Ali was dead, and with her went any information of Carrie's whereabouts.
He couldn't think about that now. Instead, Mike focused on Austin. He grabbed the blanket from the bed and covered him. He didn't want shock setting in.
"Austin. Can you hear me?" Mike shook the taller man's shoulder.
"Carrie? We can work this out... I know we can," Austin whispered in a voice barely above audible.
Mike cringed. He wanted to hate Austin for abandoning Carrie, but he knew that Austin wasn't that type of man. He had to give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he really had only abandoned Carrie unintentionally. He knew that was no excuse for his behavior but the man had run away with the one person who had caused them both an immense amount of pain. Sometimes he wondered what was running through Austin's head when he ran off with Sami. He just hoped Sami had changed, for both Carrie and Austin's sake.
The cell phone in his back pocket shifted and Mike grabbed it. He only managed to open it when a noise drew his attention. He pulled the phone from his ear to investigate. The dial tone droned softer as the phone came away from his ear.
It was at that moment Angelique burst from the bathroom holding the stun gun in front of her. Like a wild woman, she flailed about aiming for Mike's corroded artery. The gun landed just left of center. The jolt was good enough to bring Mike to his knees. The second shock crippled him enough that he passed out on the floor next to Austin.
David walked through Salem Park looking for the waterfront, he found the police station instead.
The Brady Pub might be closed but, he thought to himself, but the police station stayed open twenty-four/seven.
It took twenty minutes before Commander Abe Carver decided to see the young man.
A few hours later news of Ali's death spread like wildfire through the hospital rumor mill.
"Stop laughing, damnit!" Craig bit out. "This isn't funny."
Nancy dissolved into her second fit of giggles. Craig then whipped her around to face him.
"My, aren't we feeling a lot better since last we met. What is with you? Don't you remember our objective? Bring down Mike. Then I can take over as CoS. Do you remember that?"
"Yes, Craig," she said pulling her arm from her husband's grasp. "I just can't believe you think you can go in there and tell Abe Carver that Mike was the one who kidnapped Carrie. Are you out of your cotton pickin' mind? You're beginning to sound like Ali."
"That's just it, my love. Ali is dead and they found traces at the scene which seem like Mike was there too. They also found Austin. He said he saw Mike there. He's convinced Mike killed Ali... and that Carrie's next."
"Oh, you can't be serious." Nancy said in awe.
"I am completely lucid. This is like a gem falling into our lap. How can I *not* take advantage of it?"
"Because, knucklehead, you and Mike went in search of Ali in order to *find* Carrie, not kill her." Nancy looked at her husband and shook her head.
"Yes, my love, but only you, and I and Mike know that."
"And Judy, the head nurse. You really think she's going to sit back and be silent about this? She's one of Dr. Horton's biggest fans. Miss I-Survived-Cancer-And-Am-Now The-Head-Nurse. She'll never believe you over Mike."
"Ah, you may have something there, but it isn't anything we can't work with. I'll find a way to make Nurse Judy turn to our side."
"We'll see, Craig. We'll see."
Nancy watched as Craig burst into Abe office without knocking. It was the middle of the grave yard shift so there weren't any other officers to stop him.
"How many people are going to have to die before you take this seriously?" Craig said as he breezed through the door staring Abe directly in the eye.
"Mike Horton is out there killing people. First Carrie went missing and now Ali. Mike is tied to both women. How can it be a coincidence?" Craig slammed his hands down on Abe's desk. He didn't notice the young man seated in a chair to his left or know that what this young man knew could blow Craig's entire case out of the water.
"Is this about Ali's death?"
Abe had just received word minutes earlier that Ali's body had been found at the Salem Inn.
"Craig, Ali's the only victim we've found so far. This is a long way from being a conspiracy or a serial killer. There is no logical reason to think Mike Horton is involved in any way."
"The man is killing women. He went off earlier tonight chasing after Ali and now with Carrie missing, what am I suppose to think?"
Abe didn't answer. He only wondered why Craig was so adamant it was Mike who killed Ali. He hadn't even seen the evidence from the murder scene yet.
"And I, as a doctor, want him off the streets! I have a wife to think of." Craig's hands were firmly planted on Abe's desk clinched and turning white. He wanted to make his point to the Commander perfectly clear. Then maybe Abe would take action. Which would be the catalyst that could and would catapult him into the chair of Chief of Staff. If Mike was off the streets, the board would have to name him CoS.
"Unless I find evidence to the contrary, Mike Horton is a free man." Abe motioned to an officer who had suddenly appeared in the doorway. "Get him out of here." The officer escorted Craig into the hallway where Nancy was waiting.
"Geez. What's that guy's problem?" David asked.
"He's scared. It's only natural. So, what were you trying to tell me?"
"I tried the Brady Pub, because Taylor said I could find him there. Well, anyway, in the middle of the night, it's closed."
"Tell me there's a point to this?" Abe asked resting his chin on his hand and wondering, 'why me?'
"There is. It's important."
"I'm sure it is, but I don't know if the police need to be involved. If your friend... Taylor, you said?... is missing, come back in twenty-four hours, then we can do something about it."
The phone on Abe's desk rang. He picked up the extension.
"What is it now?" he growled. "Austin Reed?" Abe looked at that kid with a mixture of surprise and confusion in his eyes. He listened while someone on the other end spoke. "Oh, my God," He placed the receiver down almost absentmindedly.
"Are you all right?" David asked.
It took Abe a second to answer. He turned in slow motion as he contemplated the call.
"Yeah, I'm fine... Just surprised... We'll have to do this another time."
"Wait!" David yelled to Abe's retreating figure. "Don't leave. I know where Carrie is!"
The throbbing was gone now but the memory of Ali's dead corpse wasn't. He didn't think he'd ever forget the eyes that stared at him with an unholy darkness. It was a void never to be filled again. For she was indeed not of this world any longer. The fact that Ali was dead hadn't quite hit him yet. Maybe it was because he knew Ali had done something to him.
What had she said? Enacting the element of surprise or something like that? She was right. It had been a surprise. Whatever it was left a thin dark welt across his neck. It was still tender but at least he was alive. Ali hadn't been so lucky. Someone had apparently surprised her as well. Not a good night for surprises. It was all somewhat of a shock.
All he remembered was seeing Ali in the doorway, and waking to her eyes staring unblinking into his. So unsettling. So haunting. And then... Mike was there. He didn't know how he new that. He hadn't seen the man, but somehow Mike was always involved in things he shouldn't be - Ali's death, his and Carrie's lives. The guy was trouble with a capital T.
As Austin opened the door to his apartment, he remembered Carrie no longer lived there and Sami and Will had finally moved in. He was so glad it was all over and Sami was free. Little Will ran a path straight into his arms. Austin picked him up and kissed him on the cheek. He didn't know if he'd ever get over the fact that this beautiful boy wasn't his own child.
"Hey, there buddy," Austin said in his most natural fatherly voice. "Have
you and mommy been playing Tonka trucks again? Looks like a lot of fun."
Will nodded and spoke his usual one word response. "Yeah."
"Well, don't let me keep you. You just go ahead and play Tonka trucks. I use to love those when I was a kid too. Although, I didn't have one as nice as this."
"Tonka!" Will cried. "Tonka truck. Vroom... vroom."
Austin smiled as Will went back to playing. Sami appeared from Will's new bedroom wearing a blue sun dress and a thin matching sweater.
"Austin, you're home. Where have you been? I've been so worried. When you
didn't come home last night I didn't know what to think."
Before Austin could answer Sami spied the red welt on his neck.
"Oh, my God. What happened? Did Carrie do this to you?" Sami's eyes blazed with an internal fire.
"What? No, Sami. Carrie had nothing to do with this. Why would you think so?" Austin and Sami sat down on the couch a little closer than two best friends should.
"Well, Craig Wesley called last night. He was in such a panic. I couldn't get the entire gist of the conversation. Will lept out of the bath tub and took me on a merry chase around the apartment... al naturale." Sami laughed. "It was so cute, but anyway, Craig was blabbering on about Carrie being in trouble. I missed parts of what he said as I chased Will. I only assumed Carrie had done something with Mike again. I'm sorry, I would have given you the message last night but *you* didn't come home."
Sami rose from the couch and retreated into the bathroom coming out minutes later with a first aid kit. She put aloe and salve on his welt as he explained the events of the previous night.
"Ali did this to you?" said Sami with anguish. "Is that woman out of her mind? Well, I guess she was." Sami examined the mark. Upon closer inspection she realized where she'd seen it before.
"It looks like a stun gun burn or something. A girl in prison had one just like it. Her husband abused her and tried to kill her. She protected herself with a stun gun
but it caused him to have a major heart attack and die. He somehow got a hold of it and gave her a nasty red mark just like this one. It was really self defense but the jury didn't see it that way. Sometimes I really hate our legal system."
"A stun gun? So that's what this mark is?" Austin tried to move the conversation from prison to something else. "All I know is it sure hurt like hell. Then I guess I must have blacked out. I don't remember much after that." He put the first aid kit on the table and sat on the floor with Will rolling the Tonka truck back and forth in front him.
"Oh, I have something for you." Sami suddenly shot up and disappeared into his bedroom. She returned a second later with something in her hand.
"While I was cleaning last night I ran across this," Sami handed Austin a thin plaid journal with 'My Diary' engraved in gold on the cover. "I think it's Carrie's. I thought you might want to give it back to her or get rid of it."
"Thanks Sami." He fingered the book like a special possession.
While Sami played with Will, Austin read Carrie's diary without remorse. She had betrayed him by sleeping with Mike. So what was a little invasion of privacy? Nothing else could make him feel so low as knowing Carrie wanted to be with Mike - loved Mike. Reading a diary would be nothing compared to that. And anyway, she *had* left it here for him to find. The idea of Carrie and Mike made him want to bash the jerk's head in, but he relented. He wasn't going to confront out of anger any more. So instead he read.
February 13, 1999
Mike tells me to keep the faith. That Austin loves me. I try to believe it, but I can't. And Mike, I know he has feelings for me. I just can't act on the ones I have for him. I owe Austin that much. I feel so disconnected to Austin lately. He tells me to give Sami a chance - that she's changed. I've tried so hard. I turn it around and say the same about Lucas. He has changed and really hasn't done as many heinous acts as my sister has. He deserves a second chance. I can't say the same for Sami. She's come
between me and Austin so many times. I don't know if I can forgive her for causing me so much pain. I don't want to see her die but still... I can't help but think she does deserve it... if not for this, but for kidnapping Belle and trying to sell her on the black market, for drugging Austin and sleeping with him, for so many things. She doesn't deserve to die but she does deserve to be in jail. Maybe it's the only way she'll turn her life around.
Austin flipped through a few pages to land on another entry a few months later.
April 9, 1999
Austin is devoting so much of his time to Sami. He ran off with her and I just discovered it was all HIS idea. I can't believe he would desert me like this. I'm his wife, not Sami. I'm the one he supposedly loves, not Sami. So why do I get the feeling that underneath it all Austin and Sami have fallen in love and neither of them know it. Austin feels so far away from me now.
Mike is always there for me. To cry on his shoulder. To vent about my problems with Austin. Sometimes I feel like Austin doesn't listen to me at all, and that only his opinion counts. With Mike, my opinion has merit, it means something to him. Why can't it be that way with Austin and me? It use to be. Have we really grown so far apart? I know I love him, care for him, but am I really still IN love with him? I pray to God to show me the way. I am so lost. So alone.
Austin slammed the pages closed. It couldn't be true. He couldn't have possibly pushed Mike and Carrie together by standing by Sami's side, could he? Thoughts swirled in his head. He remembered asking Sami to run away with him. And Carrie begging him to come home to her. He was on the run but he wasn't going to be gone forever. Carrie should have known that. Then it hit him. She didn't know anything. She
couldn't read his mind and know his intention was to come back one day soon. One day soon? How was Carrie supposed to know what one day soon meant? Hell,
even he didn't know when he and Sami would come back to Salem. If Sami hadn't been shot, he may never have... and that would have left Carrie alone without him.
He squeezed the diary so tight the binding started to fray. Then in a fit of anger he flung it across the room. It left a small indent on the front door. Sami and Will stared at him in surprise and fright.
It hadn't been all Carrie's and Mike's fault. It had been mainly his own.
How could he have been so stupid? And what
could he do now to change it? Carrie was with Mike now. Was it too late to
make it all right again?
The light of the morning spilled into the finely decorated room. Light reflected off the blue sun catcher hanging in the window casting a pale blue splash of color on Carrie's face. When she slept she looked like an angel, Johann thought. Such a perfect creature and soon... soon she would be his.
Johann crossed in front of the ray of sunshine sparkling on Carrie's face. The sudden darkness and then bright flash woke her from her slumber.
Being back lit by the window made him appear like a specter from a dream. Carrie gasped then screamed. She bound out of bed, unaware of her surroundings or her perfectly functioning body. She felt no pain or realized her stomach was now healed. All she could think about was escape. She made a bee line to the door, threw it open and disappeared down the hallway.
A short curse under his breath, and Johann quickly followed after her. He had to make sure she didn't find the dungeon where Derek and that brat Taylor where being held. Soon he'd deal with them both but until then, he didn't want Carrie Reed stepping one foot inside it's horrific domain.
The morning had come too quickly for Commander Abe Carver. His men spent a better part of the wee hours securing the Salem Inn crime scene. Now it was time to take a look for himself in the light of day. Abe exited his squad car but came back to it as the radio shouted his name.
"Chief," Detective Robinson said into his hand held radio. "I think we have us here a situation." Robinson pronounced it sitch-e-a-shun.
"What did you find detective?" Abe asked, wondering if they might already have their first lead.
"One smashed cell phone. It doesn't look to be one of the victims. The deceased had one in her purse and Reed had one on his person."
"Have you been able to trace the owner?"
Robinson cringed. Gee, what did the man think, he was, a miracle worker or something? "No sir," he said instead. "The thing is not only smashed. It's fried. But forensics might be able to pull a print off it. There looks to be a pretty good one on what's left of the handle. We may have just gotten a lucky break."
"Let's hope so, detective. Keep me informed." Abe paced in front of his squad car contemplating viewing the crime scene. As he stood and watched two more cops ascend the staircase to the third floor, he decided to go back to the office. He didn't know if he could handle seeing Ali McIntyre's body yet. Anyway, the cop shop needed him there in case any word came in on the whereabouts of Carrie Reed.
David had managed to elude Craig Wesley at the police station last night. Taylor had told him once that Dr. Wesley was not as trustworthy as he appeared to be. She said Wesley was after the chief of staff's position. He didn't want to be involved with that man in any way, shape or form. Somehow he knew that if Craig was able to help him get Taylor and Carrie out of the mansion, he'd find a way to use it to his own advantage.
As he turned the corner next to the Brady Pub, someone stopped him.
"Where do you think you're going?"
It was the same man he's seen in the police station. It was none other than Craig Wesley and a lady with red hair. She didn't look as menacing as Wesley but still posed a threat. David side stepped them and dashed toward the pier. If they were honest decent citizens, they wouldn't follow him. They did. The red haired lady was quite quick on her feet and David only managed to evade her by slipping into a nearby open door around the corner from the pub.
David watched from the window as both his pursuers passed by. He let out a sigh of relief.
"Thank God," he whispered.
"What are you doing in my house?" asked a tall white haired man holding a large silver container.
David whipped around breathing even heavier now. He was in a man's house. He'd broken into a man's house and that man was holding a large metal object. This was not good. Today just wasn't his day.
Rain poured making the once sunny sky dark with clouds. It was the trend inSalem. One minute sunny. The next rain. Today was no exception. The weather on this day told of another story. A story not quite as bright as the sun hadonce been. A story of sorrow. A story of pain. And only one man had the will and strength to make the dark skies blue again.
Carrie ran through the halls of the Foundation's Mansion. Past member's photographs dotted the walls like old memories. Some were of two people. Some were of more, but Carrie didn't see them. Their faces blurred as she raced toward escape. Thunder clapped, and she stopped abruptly her feet squeaking on the cold hard wood flooring. She took a second to register the noise and take a breath. It sounded raspy as she gulped in panic. Her eyes darted to and fro taking in everything around her.
The hallway opened into a bigger round room. The ceiling towered in the center sporting a dozen skylights which flashed like a thousand spotlights into the center of the room. The lightening poured a temporary shower of brightness on Carrie giving away her position. Quickly, she scampered to the far side of the room. Another flash of light sent splashes of white tattooing across the floor.
Unsteadily, she walked over to a window closer to the ground. The glass was at least three inches thick secured with a lock instead of a latch making it very hard to attempt an escape. She pounded softly on the pane in frustration. She made sure not to do it too loudly so her pursuer wouldn't discover her. Besides the lightening and thunder, the halls were silent. Pounding again, she turned around leaning on the sill contemplating her next move.
As she glanced around she realized this house was unlike any she'd ever seen before. A sweeping staircase, an unusually elaborate sky light, and intricately carved fireplaces. She fingered the mantle of the one she was standing next to and could walk into standing up. It was all very medieval or was it Roman? The styles seemed to blend together making an impression that melded the past into the future. Even in her panic it was awe inspiring.
For a moment the sun peeked from behind the clouds glistening through the rain like diamonds. The momentary brightness gave Carrie her bearings. Before escaping to her next hiding place, Carrie glanced down from the second floor window. Below she could see a black limousine with its trunk open. A man in a black rain slicker carried what seemed to be a large heavy object and dropped it into the open trunk. He then looked around suspiciously and made his way back into the house. It was a strange sight but Carrie didn't have time to sit and watch a man taking his trash out. She brushed it off as insignificant, and made her way to the next room.
It was dark when he opened his eyes and something covered his head. With all his might he tried to push it off but to no avail. It was tightly secured. He took a rough breath and then coughed as he inhaled mold and mildew. Whatever was over his head smelled like it had been in someone's garage stuck in a corner for a long time. He tried again this time holding the tarp away from his face. This breath wasn't quite fresh air but it was better than mold and mildew.
It was then he noticed the throbbing and felt the blood. He pressed the wound at the back of his head trying to stop the flow. It felt like a natural thing to do. Like he knew doing this would help although he didn't know why. With his feet he kicked and realized they were tied together.
"God," he said. "This isn't my day. Come on Hor..." He started to say his last name but only the first sound emitted from his throat. The rest didn't come to him. It was then he realized he didn't know who he was or why anyone would want to tie him up. With a last wheezing breath, he collapsed then lost consciousness.
Johann had to stop his pursuit of Carrie when his phone rang. It wasn't actually a ring anyone could hear. It was more of a vibration that he felt. He answered it so the girl wouldn't realize how close he actually was to her. Even the vibration made a small noise which was loud enough to give away his position.
"What," he growled into the receiver greeted by a familiar nondescript accent. "What do you want Rolf?"
"Why aren't you concentrating Marlena like we talked about? Only when you make her your main attention will the plan work."
Johann rolled his eyes. The man still didn't get it.
"Rolf you don't seem to understand. Marlena means nothing to me. It's Carrie, her step-daughter, I want. John can have his precious Marlena without any interference from me." Johann snapped his cell phone closed and turned it off. Tonight Carrie would be his. Finally.
Rolf hoped it wouldn't come to this but he'd have to make a few additions to Johann Starck's programming. Somehow he has replaced the programmed image of Marlena with an image of Carrie. How it happened, God only knew. Kidnapping had been programmed in, but only as a last resort. The chip he used must be malfunctioning.
He shook his head in worry. Why, oh, why did his creations have to get minds of their own? The trend was unsettling and beginning to become very frustrating. John was changing back into Romulus. Hope into Gina and now Johann back to himself. Why couldn't an experiment go right for a change?
Gina appeared from behind him blowing a cloud of smoke into his face. Rolf gasped then coughed.
"God, Gina. Can't you quit that nasty habit?"
"I don't think it's a nasty habit Rolf. I find it relaxing. And when I'm relaxed, I'm at my best." Gina puffed another cigarette to its butt and threw it on the floor. Gina couldn't wait another minute to hear the news Rolf promised her and lit up another cigarette in anticipation of it.
"Okay, Gina. I'm doing what you asked. I'm programming Johann with the traits of John Black. First we have to somehow get John out of the picture. We'll erase the chip in his head and you and he can go back to Europe. Then when Marlena fears he's gone forever, we'll bring in Johann. His face will be scarred, of course. I think it's very appropriate to make him appear as much like the Pawn was back in '85. From the traits we've instilled in him, Marlena will recognize him as John and her life will go on as normal. Only this time with Johann instead of John."
"Why don't you just make him look like John to save time?" Gina puffed again.
"Do you know how difficult it is to make someone look like someone else?"
"Oh, don't be a party poop. They have the same build, hair color and strong jaw line. It should be a snap."
"A snap, you say? Well, a very intricately, perfectly planned snap. God, Gina, what do you want here? A miracle?"
"I want the assurance that Marlena will never come looking for me and John again."
"All right, all right. We'll make him look like John. Maybe at first we'll give him amnesia. She could fall in love all over again. Thus securing her bond to him."
"Are you sure this is going to work, Rolf?"
"Yes, it should," he said some what uncertainly.
"Don't tell me it *should!* Gina shouted. "Tell me it *will*! This has to work. I will not have John marrying Marlena."
Gina walked toward the wall in contemplation tapping the silver compact with her finger.
"John will love me again," she whispered.
Unknown to Gina, Rolf had left out one tiny flaw in their plan. Instead of Marlena, Johann had attached himself to Carrie. He sighed again fearing Gina's wrath if she were to ever discover the inconsistency.
"Gina wiped her finger across the table top giving it the white glove test.
"We have to find better places to meet, Rolf. This is definitely not my style."
"Complain, complain," he mocked. "That's all you do."
"I'm sorry Rolfie, dear, but a princess must maintain her standards."
"Princess?" Rolf humphed. "You're as much a princess as I am a prince."
"That may very well be true, but if you bring my John back... we'll all be rich beyond our wildest dreams."
"What do you mean?" Rolf was now curious. He always needed funding for his research.
"Our original plan, silly. Bring down Stephano, sell off the art treasures and let the fun begin." Gina laughed a merry chuckle that had Rolf remembering exactly why he brainwashed John in the first place. Not because Stephano had asked him to, even though he had. But because - he wanted to have Gina for himself!
While Johann's interests were otherwise engaged, Derek Rayge managed to free himself from the torture device in which he'd been imprisoned. Water dripped across the floor as he walked naked into the hallway. Johann had failed to lock the door not thinking Derek could escape from his own contraption. That had been the mad man's biggest mistake - you didn't hold a man prisoner in his own house! Derek couldn't
believe he'd given Johann the upper hand yet again. Twenty-five years earlier Johann had changed his life forever when he took the life of his beloved wife, Catherine. Today, he was going to settle that old score.
Restrained by shackles in the next room was the girl he'd heard Johann talking about. The one who had seen him in the park. He shook his head. She'd been so foolish to come here. She didn't know what Johann was like. That he'd do anything to get what he wanted. This time he wanted Carrie Reed. Derek intended to stop him then rid the world of him once and for all.
She was asleep with her arms hanging over her head, her small round face smudged with dirt, and her mouth hanging slightly agape. He gently shook her and she screamed in response. Quickly, he clamped a hand over her mouth silencing her.
"I'm here to help you," Derek said in a Dutch/English accent.
Taylor's eyes grew wide as she stared at Derek in his full naked glory. He was unaffected by her gawking at his most private parts. To appease her naive nature, Derek found a pair of pants he'd left in the basement laundry room earlier in the week.
"Who are you?" Taylor asked still weary from lack of sleep. She rubbed her arms as Derek released her from the chains.
"A friend. Call me Derek."
"That's a little mysterious. Could you be a little more specific?" Taylor tried to stand but when she rested her hand against the stone wall it collapsed. Derek caught her before she completely lost her balance.
"Give it a few minutes. The feeling should come back into your arms. As for who I am... it's better off if you don't know. I work with a group of people who shall we say don't work within the confines of the law yet are the law."
Derek's gray streaked hair was brushed away from his face. As it dried it took on a feathered appearance like Farrah Faucett's classic hairdo only neck length. Taylor took him to be at least forty. Somehow at forty Derek was very attractive in a brooding, dark sort of way. Just looking at him bare chested walking around in only slacks took her breath away.
Derek glanced down the hallway while Taylor shook the blood back into her arms.
"I want you to get out of here," Derek said to the child next to him.
"But what about you?"
"Don't worry about me. I can handle Johann Starck now that I know he's back among the living."
"What are you saying? That man was dead?"
"As a door nail." Derek couldn't help being mysterious. It was in his nature.
"But He looked perfectly alive to me," Taylor mocked. "How do you know for sure?"
"Because I'm the one who killed him."
Taylor gasped but Derek only pulled her into the darkened hallway.
The two stayed in the shadows dousing the lights as they went. The structure underneath the Foundation House was full of tunnels leading in all different directions. Only Derek and his team knew their way around them. Before she
knew it Taylor was lead to the outside. Derek pushed her out the into the morning sun as the clouds overhead began to gather.
"See that trail?" Taylor nodded. "It should lead you to University Hospital. From there you should know your own way home."
"But what about the police?" Taylor asked.
"Speak of this to no one. I have my own way of dealing with Johann Starck."
"But..." Before Taylor could complain again, Derek had closed and locked the door. She peeked in the dirty cellar window but could see nothing of the man who had just been there.
She looked to the trail and ran for it. She wasn't going to dilly dally if that mad man was anywhere around. It had only started to rain when Taylor found her way through Salem Park. Rubbing her arms made them feel warmer but somehow made her stomach feel more empty. She decided to grab a quick breakfast at the Brady Pub before going out in search of David. God knew where he was.
Derek entered the control room from a little know secret entrance. Alex Morris and Nick Boyd were both asleep at their computers working on the current Foundation case the London House had given them. Alex's long black corkscrew curls cascaded over her brown face making her look somewhat angelic. He'd always had a soft spot in his heart for the woman. But he knew he'd never completely forget Catherine. Her
image still haunted him.
At the master controls Derek began typing in commands looking for any information on why Johann Starck was back among the living. There was no earthly way it was possible. Only he and his team of psi detectives could find the answer to such a question. The Salem PD would never be able to explain how a dead man could come back to life. Derek had seen such an occurrence once before but it was only because a succubus had overtaken the dead corpse. He wondered if this was the reason in Johann's case.
The light typing roused Nick who was sleeping on his arm. As he reached up and stretched, he noticed Derek at the master controls.
"I think Alex and I found a key component in the case," said the ex-Navy seal as he stood and stretched. Derek brought a photo of Johann up on the large screen in from of them both.
"That's great, Nick. But we need to put that case on hold. Johann Starck is back among the living." Derek never looked at Nick but continued typing.
"Starck? I thought Starck was dead." Nick focused in on the picture.
Hacking deep into the subroutines Derek managed to bring up the Foundation House's security cameras. He flipped through many different angles of the interior of the house before stopping on the image of a woman standing in the main ballroom.
"Oh, my God." Derek said in shock. "No wonder Johann is back."
"Who is it?" Nick said squinting at the screen. "What is she doing in the house?"
"I don't know." Derek said as he zoomed that particular security camera in closer focusing in on the woman's face.
Then it was Nick's turn to say, "Oh, my God. Is that who I think it is?"
"Catherine," Derek mumbled in shock.
"Derek, please tell me that is not Catherine." Nick was taken aback by the image on the screen. The girl looked to be twenty-five, tears streaming down her cheeks, and a look of real terror on her face.
"It's not, Nick. Catherine is dead. We both know that." Derek put the image of the girl on a secondary screen as he searched the house's security cameras for any sign of Johann.
"Well, so was Starck and we knew that to. But here he is back among the living. God, what does it take to kill that man? And how do we explain to the Foundation him being alive again?"
"Let me worry about the Foundation. You concentrate on getting Carrie out of harms way."
"Here I go risking my butt for another civilian." Nick pointed at the screen. "How do we know for certain this woman isn't Catherine?"
"We know this, Nick, because he calls his new obsession Carrie, not Catherine. When he was obsessed with my wife he constantly said her name. He reveled in the sound of it. He's doing the same with Carrie." Derek turned around and faced Nick with a look of sudden illumination. "I am beginning to believe he may have never died. That he was alive when we buried him."
"No, no, no. No way Derek. He was dead." Nick took a few steps backward but Derek's stony calm began to convince him his words could be true. "We may have buried a man alive? God, Derek. The coroner said he was dead. What were we suppose to do?"
"Since Johann was Jewish his bodily organs were never taken out. His essence may have been barely alive but vital enough for someone to do something to bring him back."
"What kind of idiot would want to bring back a monster like that? We lost three Foundation members on that case not to mention one of them being the precept! You took over after that, but I'm sure I don't need to remind you of your unusual foray into becoming the Foundation director. That was a bad time. I hope we won't have to go through it again. We aren't equipped for such an invasion."
"Johann doesn't know I've escaped so we have the element of surprise on our side. But we need to remember that we're not only dealing with Johann the Terrible. We're also dealing with whomever is controlling him. And that person or persons could even be worse." Derek was not looking forward to the fight that was before them both.
"Don't tell me that." Nick looked to Alex still asleep with her head on the table. "Alex still hasn't fully recovered from our last mission. If things get dicey, she could be our first causality. I don't want to see anything happen to her."
"Neither do I Nick. Neither do I." Derek stared at the metal wheelchair Alex sat in. He still hadn't gotten over the anger. It was his fault she would be confined to it for six months. And her being strapped to that chair may end up getting her killed. He didn't want that on his conscience. They had to get Alex away from here and to the Foundation House on Smith Island.
During Derek's security camera search, he came across the vision of a man throwing what looked to be a body bag into the back of a limousine. The next screen showed Starck standing in the foyer talking on the phone in hushed tones. He couldn't hear what he was saying because the sound in the security system was broken. It was a glitch Nick had promised to take care of months ago. He hadn't.
"There he is Derek. There's Johann." Nick stared in silence. "How did he get into the house past all our security precautions?" Being the resident security expert, an intruder on his home turf didn't sit well with him.
"I don't know, Nick, maybe for the same reason I can't hear what he's saying!" Derek spat out the words in anger. He needed sound and he needed it now!
"Chill. I have a man coming to look into it. It's not as if I forgot like the last time."
"Since I have no sound," Derek stared at him with glowing red eyes and threw him a communication device which Nick stuck into his ear. It had a small microphone that extended near his mouth. "... you go in and be my ears."
"What about Alex?"
"I'll deal with her. You go in and get Carrie out. Stay close to her."
Nick started to disappear into the tunnels but came back quickly when he remembered something.
"Derek, Rachel said Kit was coming home from camp today. Rachel asked me to watch her till she gets back from that psychologist conference. What if Kit walks in on Johann before I can get to Carrie?" Nick's hands were planted firmly on the table.
Derek stood and swore.
"If Kit shows up we'll have to keep Alex here. She'll run communications and I'll go in for Kit. Right now you're focus is to get Carrie out. Nothing more."
"Got it." Nick strode to the door. "Oh, and Derek, if Alex wakes up and complains of a headache... tell her it was all her idea." The smirk on Nick's face as he left had Derek steaming. Nick liked trying to get to Derek by using his feelings for Alex against him. Derek shook his head and watched his second in command disappear into the tunnel. They'd deal with personal issues later.
Austin was looking through the couch cushions for Will's favorite blanket when he noticed the red light on the answering machine blinking.
"Sami, did you check the messages on the machine last night?"
"No," she said from the bedroom where she was getting Will ready for another fun day of playing in the park. "I thought you said it was broken."
He abandoned his search for the blanket and sat down on the arm of the couch. "Right after I told you that I went out and had it fixed since it was on my mind. Sorry I didn't tell you about it. I hope the message isn't important."
"The message has to be for you. I didn't tell anyone except Mom that I've moved here." Sami and Will came out from the bedroom with big smiles on their faces for Uncle Austin.
Austin pushed replay, the biggest button on the pad and listened as it rewound then played the message. An electronic voice greeted him saying "You have one message."
A second after the electronic greeting Mike's voice filled the air. Austin's first reaction was to shut the machine off.
"Austin, don't erase this message," said Mike as if reading the former boxer's mind. "It's important." Austin stood again his finger hovering over the delete key. "Carrie's missing. We found Ali with a pair of bloody scissors. She said something about Carrie being dead. Then she ran off into the forest. Craig and I are following her. We need your help, man. For Carrie's sake. Salem Park. As soon as you can."
Austin sat down listening to the tape rewind and stop. Carrie was missing? How long had she been missing, he wondered. He couldn't even remember the last time he'd seen her.
"Who was the message from?" asked Sami teasing Will with the blanket she'd found next to the bookshelf.
"The message was only a salesman," Austin mumbled.
"Oh, by the way, have you heard from Carrie? Mom has been looking for her.
Seems she's just disappeared from the face of the earth. I can't believe she'd have to gawl to be seen with Mike. Not after what happened in Vegas." Sami smiled and gave Will a big hug. Will looked to Austin for a repeat performance.
"I haven't seen her since she moved out," he said giving Will his own big bear hug.
"Okay, but if you do see her let Marlena know. You know how she worries about us."
Angelique couldn't retain her excitement. Ali the twit was dead and life was glorious. All she had to do now was get rid of Carrie Reed and her life would fall right into place.
In honor of Ali's death Angelique decided to stop by the home and garden store to buy herself a new cactus. She loved cactus. They were prickly on the outside but juicy on the inside. It was a perfect symbol of her and Johann relationship.. of their love. Picking the biggest most exotic one, she had the sales boy stick the cactus into the back seat of the black Jag Johann had given her.
When the boy sat the plant down, he yelped as if he'd been bitten by a spiky thorn. Served him right, she though. She watched the boy wobble around a bit mumbling to himself. He seemed as if he wanted to say something to her but the words wouldn't come forth from his mouth. She ignored him as she did many people of his stature and drove off toward the Foundation House.
The sales boy bumped into a nearby cart and collapsed onto the ground. Employees and shoppers rushed out of the home and garden store. One was the store manager. He lifted the sales boy up and took survey of his injuries. All he saw were two small holes next to his wrist. The area around the mark was swelling quickly.
"Sport," the manager said. "What happened?"
The boy tried to speak but only a few words came out. "Cactus. Bit me. Tarantula." The last word came out as a sigh. It was the last word he would ever speak. The boy was dead.
To be continued.
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