Nemesis

 

home / season five / episode eleven / act I

   

Mission City, MN
Hockey practice, Friday afternoon

A battle waged in the corner, bodies slamming against each other and the boards. Patiently, Jarod waited for the puck to jump free. Only a slight movement of his right skate was necessary to stop the rubber disk. He blew his coach’s whistle and called the team to center ice. “Excellent practice, ladies. So, we all get to go home early.” He waited for the applause of sticks tapping the ice to fade. “You’ve earned it, and hey, it’s Friday. Rest up this weekend and be ready to practice hard on Monday. We have a game in a week.”

The cheering began again and the crowd dissipated. Jarod hated seeing the sad looks in their eyes the first day he had come to coach. They all knew what had happened to Joseph Moore and he was concerned they would not accept him. But, they had let him into their circle and appreciated his guidance. He wished there was more he could do for these young women.

A few of the girls stayed after to chat with their temporary coach. He spoke with the girls for a few minutes, then urged them on because their parents would be waiting.

“Mr. Hull,” called a young lady with long, blond hair, she shook free as she removed her helmet.

“Yes, Andrea? And call me Jarod.” He leaned against his stick.

“Of course, Jarod. Sorry.” She tucked a glove under one arm.

“It’s all right. How can I help?”

“I was wondering, I’ve been having problems with my slapshot…”

“And, you’d like a lesson?”

“Yes. If you have time?”

“Always. But if it’s okay, can we arrange something for tomorrow?”

“Yeah. Is 0900 good?” A big smile lit her face as she spoke. A retired, military father made her more disciplined than many others, but she never let that get in the way of having fun.

“Perfect. So, I’ll see you tomorrow morning?”

“Great. Bye, Jarod.” Andrea pushed against the ice, propelling herself backward before turning for the gate.

“G’bye, Andrea.” Jarod watched her go. Once she had disappeared from view, he pulled out his red notebook, turned through the pages. **Joseph Moore Hospitalized** was the first headline; **Former Minnesota NHL Player Attacked,** and **High School Hockey Coach’s Life in Danger** followed . The articles recounted the unprovoked attack on a former professional hockey player, Joseph Moore. He had played for the Minnesota team for ten years, and retired at the end of last season. Moore had looked for a job in the area, wanting to help the local children. He organized a pee-wee hockey league, for which he was a volunteer coach, and he was also offered a job as the coach for the Mission City High School girl’s hockey team.

*******************************

Mission City Hospital, Room 308

“Mr. Moore, you have a visitor,” the nurse announced to the patient and closed the door as she left.

“Thank you,” the drowsy man in the bed responded.

“Hello, Mr. Moore. I’m Jarod Hull.” A long moment passed, Moore said nothing. “I’m filling in as hockey coach at Mission City High Sch..”

“I know who you are. They told me you were coming.”

“I need to ask you some questions.” He moved tentatively toward the side of the bed.

“Sure.”

“Do you know who attacked you?”

Moore turned his head, slowly because of the pain. That was not the question he expected of a fill-in coach. “No. I don’t. I don’t even remember being attacked, except for the broken bones. The last thing I remember was waking up here, in the hospital.”

Hysterical amnesia. This would complicate things. “What do you remember prior to that?”

Rubbing the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger, he closed his eyes, concentrating. “Nothing really. The only reason I know my name is because everyone keeps saying it.” He took a labored breath. “Can I ask you something?”

“Of course.”

“Am I somebody famous? A movie star or something?”

“I’ve found it’s better for the patient if people around him don’t reveal any information about his past. Instead, he should be eased back into his daily routine.”

“Are you a hockey coach or a doctor?”

“I taught biology and psychology for a while. You don’t remember anything?”

“No. I need some sleep if you don’t mind.”

“Sure.”

“If I remember anything, I’ll let you know.”

“Thank you.” Jarod left quietly. He needed more information. Joseph Moore had amnesia, convenient occurrence, and Jarod was back where he started. He opened his red notebook again as he exited the hospital and a small, folded sheaf of paper floated to the sidewalk. Bending, he plucked it from the ground, opened, and read it. **This tidbit could be useful,** he remarked to himself as he looked to the sky.

*******************************

The Centre
Blue Cove, DE

Her fingers drummed impatiently while she waited for the elevator doors to part. The morning had been hectic with the trip to Jarod’s lair that produced little more than lava lamps and smelly sticks of incense and Broots spouting all of his hockey facts during the entire drive back from New York. Yes, the drive; someone had already chartered the jet, and if she ever figured out who, pain would be the first punishment inflicted. Now, she was looking forward to a quick visit with Gabriel.

Miss Parker pushed all thoughts of Jarod and The Centre from her mind as she walked the long, bright corridor. The door to the nursery was closed, as always, and she stopped just outside. Peering through the small, Plexiglas window, she released an exasperated sigh. Baby brother was asleep; she did not have the heart to wake him, nor did she wish to endure the rage of the nurse for disturbing the air around the sleeping child.

Turning on her heel, Miss Parker returned to the elevator; back to the real world.

*******************************

Mission City, MN

Jarod decided to walk back to his house from the hospital. It would give him time to think. Mission City was a beautiful town, full of friendly people, all waiting with a smile and a hello for anyone passing. His walk took him past a small gun shop and the general-type store. All-in-all, this was a wonderful little town.

He exited the coffee shop, a recent addition to the corner by the looks of it, and noticed a man seeming to have car difficulties. “Excuse me, sir. You seem to be having some car trouble.”

“Yeah. Hey, do you have a ballpoint pen?”

“You sure you wouldn’t rather use my phone?” Jarod dropped his bag full of gear to the ground.

“No. A pen will be fine.”

“Will this do?” Jarod produced a pen from his red notebook and handed it to the tall man with graying sandy-blond hair.

“Perfect. Thanks.”

Jarod watched intently as the man twisted the pen apart and removed the ink cartridge. He plucked the spring off and nimbly stretched it between two catches under the hood. Sliding behind the wheel of his Jeep, the man turned the key in the ignition. The engine cooperated and the man was ready to go.

“Thanks for the pen…”

“Jarod,” he politely introduced himself. “You’re welcome. Glad I could help.” He pushed the hood closed and latched it.

“I owe you one, Jarod.”

“Well, maybe you can answer a question for me.”

“I’ll give it a try.”

“Why didn’t you just call a mechanic?”

“The starter just needed a spring. I didn’t need a mechanic.”

“Do you do that all the time?”

“Do what?”

”Fix things with ballpoint pens?”

“No, usually I use duct-tape.” A large, white smile crossed the man’s face. He could see Jarod did not understand. Most people didn’t.

“I see.”

“Maybe I’ll see ya around.”

“Sure. Take care.” Jarod watched as the inventive man drove away, realizing he had never gotten the man’s name. What an intriguing person, he can fix cars with ballpoint pen springs and other things with duct-tape. Perhaps he could find this man again someday, when he was truly free from The Centre; he might be able to answer more of his questions.

“Hello, Mr. Hull!” A group of teenaged girls screamed from a passing vehicle, the windows down just long enough for them to holler at him.

Jarod lost his train of thought and waved back to the passing vehicle filled with members of his hockey team. “Drive carefully, ladies.”

The driver honked and sped away from the line, knowing Jarod was shaking his head because she ignored his directive, albeit temporarily.

The rest of his walk was pleasant; the cool breeze across the snow covered ground a welcome change from the stuffy air-conditioned buildings of the school. His rented home was comfortable and dark. He flipped a switch and a soft light illuminated the room. He tossed his hockey gear onto the floor and sat in the chair behind his desk, flicked on his laptop. The monitor slowly came to life, silently working away to load the welcome screen. Jarod punched up his e-mail. The first two messages were standard intercepts from The Centre - Broots planning his vacation and Sydney scheduling an appointment with The Centre dentist for one of his test subjects. The third one disturbed him; from Sydney - Nemesis is missing - nothing more. Cryptic indeed. Jarod sat back in his chair, thinking. He vaguely recalled working on a project connected to that name - Nemesis - when he was still at The Centre, but he could not remember what the premise of the project was.

*******************************

“This is Sydney.” The accented voice came through the phone.

“What is Nemesis?” Jarod asked, deciding to be straightforward.

“A project at The Centre.”

He should have known it would not be that easy. “Sydney, somehow I was a part of that project. I need to know what my part was.”

“I have no more information than what I’ve given you. *Time* is of the essence, Jarod.” Sydney cradled the receiver and returned to his computer.

Pressing the button to turn off his phone, Jarod stared at his e-mail in confusion. What was Sydney talking about, *time is of the essence*? Sydney had emphasized the word *time*, why? This conversation was just as cryptic as the e-mail.

He lifted his glass, knocking the small card that had fallen from his notebook to the floor. He sipped his water, returned his glass to the table, and plucked the card from the floor. Reading it again, he thought about the coach in the hospital, the e-mail from Sydney, and the recent conversation about Nemesis. *The dealer won’t rest ‘til he sells a child death.* He had found the card in Joseph Moore’s room, on the floor beside the closet. What would Moore know about this card? Jarod asked him, and the only information Moore had was that it had been found in his clothing upon his arrival to the hospital. Moore had told Jarod he could keep the card, Jarod wanted to study it later. It was later and the note still puzzled him. The only conclusion he could draw with any amount of certainty was that the card had been planted on Moore after the attack. That was not much help. He flipped the card over to check the back, it was blank. Furrowing his brow, he sighed, irritated by his inability to decipher this piece of the puzzle.

*******************************

The Centre
Blue Cove, DE

Broots sat up, attentive, the information on the screen very intriguing. He brushed potato chip crumbs from his snowflake-patterned, wool sweater and wiped his mouth. Eyes wide, he read the message again.

“What’s that, Broots? A letter from your girlfriend?”

“Um, no, Miss Parker. I don’t have a girlfriend.” Broots rubbed his hands on his pants.

“Broots, the e-mail.” Miss Parker pointed toward the glowing screen.

“Oh, right. I intercepted this message. Something about Andromeda.”

“What is Andromeda?”

“It’s a star constellation.”

She smiled and snatched the printout she knew Broots had made and strode down the hall as quickly as her spiked heels would carry her.

Sydney hardly noticed the office door slam closed. He lifted his head and switched off his computer monitor in the two seconds before Miss Parker began ranting about Andromeda.

“Miss Parker, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

The desk lamp cast an eerie glow across the angry woman’s face as she leaned against the heavy structure of the desk. “Sydney, I wasn’t born yesterday. You know as much about what goes on here as anyone.”

“There is nothing I can tell you, Miss Parker.” He switched the monitor on again.

“Syd, you’re trying my patience.”

Persistence sometimes paid off, Sydney gave Miss Parker a tidbit. “Andromeda was a Centre project that did not go exactly as planned.”

“There’s news. More.”

“More? There is no more. That’s all I know.”

The door slammed again, this time against the interior wall of the office as Miss Parker stormed out and back to Broots’ terminal. She pushed the computer geek into the chair; pointed his head toward the computer. “See what you can find about Andromeda.”

He worked as quickly as he could, but with her standing over him, brooding, he was very nervous. He could tell she was irritated as she began pacing around his desk. Did she expect the information to just jump out of the archives? He had to search through thousands of files, some encrypted, some not. He had to sift through it all, one byte at a time. “Um, Miss Parker, this might take a little while.”

Dark eyes scowling, she turned on her heel and strode away, stilettos punctuating each step.

*******************************

“Broots! Wake UP!”

There was a sound in his head, he knew it, but something kept him from reacting. The sharp pain in his back, on the other hand, seared to his soul and could not be ignored. His head bolted up and slammed into something hard. Over his shoulder he realized he had hit Miss Parker’s hand. “Uh, Miss Parker…”

She sighed. “What do you have?”

“Sorry, not much.” He cringed, waiting.

Miss Parker exhaled over his shoulder. “Broots, do you have anything?”

“Yeah. Nothing on Andromeda. I have to go through the files rather meticulously. But, I think I know where Jarod is.”

”Out with it, Brain Guy.”

“Well, he was seen talking to Glen Sather.”

“Who is he?”

“Currently, General Manager for the New York Rangers.”

“We were already there, genius.”

“Yes, but he was also the coach and GM for the Edmonton Oilers.”

“Jarod is not in Edmonton, Broots. Try again.”

“How? You haven’t even been there.”

“Broots, I just know. Now, look for Andromeda.” She left his desk and wandered the halls.

On to Act II

 
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