Diver Down

 

home / season five / episode seventeen / act I

   

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

Miss Parker strode down the hallway, her heels ringing loudly on the floor as she headed for her office. She brushed past the various figures that stood in her way and was outside her office door when a figure moved to stand in front of it.

“Well, well, well; if it isn’t the eighth dwarf - Sickly Subservient.”

She waited for him to respond, or at least to move away, but he remained where he was, a smirk splitting the usually stern look on his face.

“Keep grinning like that, Willie, and you’re face will probably break.” She turned away but looked back to find him still there. Annoyed, she moved back to stand in font of him, her hands on her hips.

“What are you waiting for, Resurrection Day or something? Get out of my way.” She pushed past him and walked into her office, glancing back over her shoulder to see Willie saunter away with a smile curving his lips.

* * * * * * * * *

Prefect Hotel
Naples, Florida

Jarod entered the room and threw the paper onto the bed with as much force as he could muster. As though it was determined to make his day several degrees worse than it already was, the pages separated and spread themselves around the floor, missing the bed entirely. Jarod considered screaming in frustration but felt that the lack of an audience would probably reduce the impact he wanted to make and decided that an alternative way of releasing some of his excess aggravation would be to punch a few pillows. When the contents of the pillows began flying in the air around his head, however, he decided that his annoyance had reached its peak and that he could begin to calm down somewhat. He took several deep breaths and dropped into a chair that sat in front of his computer, glancing around the room as he did so. It was a mess. Regardless of the fairly decorative addition of the pillows’ contents, it was still a mess. He had to admit to himself that, in all honesty, he wasn’t the type of person who ever really cleaned up that well. Sure, he was able to throw things into a bag and leave in a hurry but the concepts of dusting and other forms of cleaning were pretty much a closed book to him. He shrugged, got up, and rescued the paper from the floor, sorting the pages into the correct order as he sat down again.

He took another look around and shrugged to himself again. The night before, feelings of nostalgia had prompted him to spread around the room many of the toys he carried in his bag. Or perhaps nostalgia was the wrong word. Could you feel nostalgia for a past that you never really had? He certainly never felt nostalgic for his days at the Centre. Jarod stored the idea away to ask Sydney the next time he called and looked back at the paper. The cause of his dark mood appeared before his eyes, shoved its way into the front of his mind and stood there with its arms folded, tapping one foot impatiently. He considered throwing the paper across the room again but changed his mind at the last moment. Instead, he opened the paper and spread it out on the desk.

The headline caught his eye as it had earlier and he sadly began to read the article about the death of a young woman almost two weeks earlier. Joanne Hactar, found drowned on the shoreline one morning at 5am by a couple of people out for an early morning run. Jarod's eyes became sad as he picked up the paper and read through the facts presented in the article. She was young - only twenty-five - and had just graduated from college. Looking down at the color photo in the paper, Jarod shook his head as he gazed at her bright red hair and green eyes. There was something in her that reminded him of his mother and he pulled the photo out of his pocket and looked at it sadly. Feeling himself becoming morbid, Jarod dropped the paper and instead stared with hungry eyes at the photograph of his mother. There were days when he yearned, whatever the cost to anybody including himself, to go and find her but he always stopped short of doing it. His nostalgic mood the night before had emphasized this yearning but he was pleased that he had so far prevented himself from doing so.

Resting his head on one hand, Jarod glanced through the article in front of him, making a mental note of the conclusions drawn by the coroner. As he read, he allowed himself to imagine the situation, including the rocks that could have caused the bruises mentioned in the autopsy report. For several minutes Jarod slowly reread the few factors that were presented in the article and somewhere in his brain alarm bells began to ring. Something in the whole situation didn’t add up but he couldn’t work out what it was. He decided that this was definitely a situation in which he should be involved.

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

Lyle sat down behind the desk in his office and flicked open the folder that sat there. Still no sign of Faith from the teams he had out looking for her. Of course, he knew that she would be difficult to locate, especially considering the benefit that her special gifts gave her, but he had hoped that it would be easier than it had been so far. Gaining a higher position in the Centre depended on him being able to bring Faith back, and soon. Of course, it would be an extra feather in his cap if he could manage to bring Jarod back at the same time. He indulged for a moment in his favorite daydream of leading a team of sweepers into the Centre, the men dragging both Faith and Jarod with them. And that, of course, meant he, himself, alone. No auditors, no sister. Just himself. It was a relief that one of the two ‘auditors’ had not been seen since his disappearance into the Metro and the other since she had silently murdered a sweeper in front of his eyes. Yes, Lyle thought shakily, that was most definitely a relief.

The beeping of his computer, being used out of a sense of desperation as much as anything else, brought him out of his imagination and he turned and stared at the screen. A smile started somewhere in his eyes and hesitantly approached his mouth. Unused to being called into such a strange position unless an Asian woman, or, failing that, his sister, was visible, the emotion only remained for a few moments before vanishing abruptly. His eyes traveled once more over the words of the message that he had diverted from Sydney's computer to his own and then he stood up, pulling on his jacket. Maybe his daydreams weren’t so unrealistic after all. Looking up, he scribbled the words of the email on a piece of paper and slipped it into his pocket. Smirking and unable to help himself, he pulled out the note and reread it.

Sydney, I need to talk to you. Meet me at 11/184 West Street Annapolis on Wednesday at 14:00. Jarod.

Lyle slipped the note back into his pocket and the smirk crawled over his face again, this time settling uncomfortably on his top lip. A noise made him turn to see Sydney standing inside the room.

“Funny, I didn’t hear you knock.”

“Lyle, I need to talk to you.”

“Not right now.” Lyle put out an arm and tried to brush past the psychiatrist, but Sydney prevented him from leaving.

“This is very important, Lyle. Several lives may depend on it.”

“Well, right now my life depends on getting to Annapolis in three hours and, in my personal outlook, my life is the most important. If you’ll excuse me, Doctor, I have a pretender to catch.”

“You got a message from Jarod?”

Lyle mentally kicked himself as the psychiatrist picked up on his slip.

“Nothing that you need concern yourself with.”

Lyle’s response was cool enough to give a polar bear frostbite, but Sydney ignored the comment and, in a flash of insight, realized what the main gist of the message had been. “Lyle, listen to me. Jarod doesn’t give away his position in such a straightforward manner. If you have an address where he says he is, I would be almost positive that he isn’t there. In fact, I don’t think he would send such a message in the first place.”

Lyle shook himself loose from Sydney's grasp and stepped back. “Your concern is flattering, Doctor, but I am quite capable of taking care of myself. If your motherly instincts are affecting you again, I suggest you go and see what my dear sister is up to. She’s the one that needs the babysitter. I am, I repeat, quite capable of taking care of myself.” Opening the door, Lyle stormed through it, leaving Sydney standing alone in his office.

* * * * * * * * *

Prefect Hotel
Naples, Florida

Jarod threw the autopsy report onto his bed with a sigh, his jacket following suit. He had discussed the results of the autopsy with the coroner but had learned nothing new. The man had made up his mind as to the cause of Joanna Hactar’s death and nothing, with the exception, perhaps, of new evidence that Jarod might find, was going to change the man’s mind. Having glanced once through the file, Jarod was beginning to wonder if he would find anything. Still, the feelings that had caused his skepticism the day before now nagged at the back of his mind again and, irritated, Jarod got up and began to pace the length of the room. So deep was he in thought that he failed to realize that he had reached the end of the room until his nose was nestled in a vase of flowers that sat there. After having sneezed six times in quick succession, he returned to the desk and sat down in the chair. Heaving a deep sigh, he turned and glared at the autopsy report. Nothing was more annoying than when he couldn’t work out the answer right away, nothing. And right now he didn’t think he was likely to find proof of the things he suspected. Of course, the more frustrated he got, the less clearly he was able to think about things. He knew that and it had always been one of Sydney's major complaints. Still, he could feel his levels of aggravation rising and he tried to control himself.

Reaching over, he pulled the newspaper out of the bin where he had stuffed it in irritation the night before. For a fleeting moment, he was thankful that he had put up a sign to keep the cleaning people out. It had simply been that he thought that any sensible person would have opened the door, looked in, thrown up their hands in horror and left again. However, there was the distinct possibility that a particularly conscientious person might decide to actually tidy up for him and that was something he felt, at this moment in time, he wouldn’t have been able to deal with. Instead he opened the paper again and allowed his eye to run down the article in which were mentioned the names of many of Joanna Hactar’s friends. Talking to them, he decided, was probably the best way to start finding the truth about her death.

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

Sydney entered Miss Parker's office to find her drumming her fingers on the surface of her desk and staring into space. The lack of specific activity made him wonder exactly what she was thinking about but he never got the chance to ask.

“Where have you been?”

”Visiting your brother. I was just about to begin talking to him when he left. He said that he was going…”

“I don’t care where he was going, as long as he’s gone.”

Sydney stared at her in surprise. Not because of the interruptions, particularly as they had gradually become such a regular part of their conversation, but that he hadn’t been given the chance to tell her why Lyle had left. Since their father had regained his position as Chairman, the rivalry between the Parker twins had reached almost legendary proportions within the Centre.

“Sit down, Syd. I need to talk to you.”

Reaching over, he grabbed a chair and pulled it into a position where he could see her face. “What is it, Miss Parker?”

“Why, in all this time, didn’t somebody tell me that Faith was still alive? And why did they go to all the trouble of setting up her death?”

Sydney paused for a moment before responding. “What has started you thinking about her again?” He half-expected a rebuke for his response but, somewhat to his surprise, it wasn’t forthcoming.

“I don’t really know. Every so often, her name and her face come into my mind and won’t go away. And, every night, she appears as soon as I close my eyes.”

”Do you think it has something to do with your Inner Sense?”

“I don’t know.” She got up from the chair and began to pace behind the desk. “It has to be coming from somewhere, but I don’t know where. It could be from my mother or it could even be Faith herself, for all I can figure out.”

“And what do you feel when you think of her?”

“I - don’t know.” Miss Parker tried to put her emotions into words. “I just begin to recognize some feeling and then it’s gone. I can’t put a name to it.” She sighed deeply. “It’s driving me crazy!”

Sydney folded his hands and rested them on the desk. “The best suggestion I can make is that you try and relax and just let the emotions flow. If you let them gather, then they might finally begin to make sense.”

She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye and there was a satirical smile dancing hesitantly around the edge of her mouth, much like a swimmer dipping a toe into icy water. “Do you know, Sydney,” she commented conversationally, “that’s the first time in the full five years of this whole pursuit that you ever even sounded like a psychiatrist.” She let the smile play around the edge of her mouth for several seconds longer as he watched her silently.

“So why?”

“Why what?” Sydney’s expression changed from watchful to startled.

Miss Parker sighed impatiently. “Why has this been such a big hush-hush type of secret for so long? I mean, it’s been more than thirty years since she ‘died’. Even for the Centre, that’s a long time to keep a secret, although,” she finished thoughtfully, “it certainly isn’t the first time.”

“I’m afraid, Miss Parker,” Sydney shifted uneasily in his chair, “that I don’t know the reason. But certainly this has been an enormous secret and it suggests to me that Faith is more valuable to the Centre than even we can realize.”

“Oh?” Miss Parker looked at him more intently. “What makes you say that?”

“The fact that it was still a secret for so long. That, when combined with the fact that she was used for Eclipse, suggests that her abilities are probably even more important to the Centre than Angelo’s.”

“Are you sure of your facts there, Doctor?”

Sydney tried not to show his frustration. “Think about it, Parker. There’s never been any secret about what Angelo is capable of but somebody went to a lot of effort to hide the facts about Faith and her abilities, to the extent of scrapping the original project, renaming it and relocating it. Even when the Centre was smaller than it is now, that would still not have been easy. And when it came to the Retrieval process for Eclipse, I was cut out of it completely so that I wouldn’t be aware of the use of Faith for it.”

Miss Parker drummed her fingers on the table. “And who would be the only person that would go to so much effort for one individual?”

Sydney followed her train of thought perfectly and nodded. “Raines.”

* * * * * * * * *

Ford Diving School
Naples, Florida

Jarod wandered along the edge of the pool, his eyes fixed on the diver perched high on the board above him. He heard a shrill whistle from somewhere away to his right and, at the sound, the figure left the board, somersaulted twice and cleft the water, producing a relatively small amount of splash. The figure - Jarod could now see that it was girl in her late twenties - pulled herself out of the water close to him and he leaned in towards her.

“If you turn another somersault as you go underwater, you’ll produce enough force to counteract, to a certain degree, the splash you make as you enter it.”

She looked up at him in astonishment. “Who are you?”

Jarod smiled. “A friend.”

“Anyone’s friend in particular or just generally well disposed to people?”

He was about to introduce himself when a hand tapped his shoulder. Jarod turned around and faced the man behind him.

“You know something about diving?”

Jarod removed his sunglasses and slipped them into his top pocket. “A few bits and pieces. My name’s Jarod Douglas.”

“Ah, my new assistant. Andrew Harrison. Nice to meet you.”

The two shook hands while the other girl stood awkwardly to one side.

“Jarod, this is Tricia McMillan. She’s the best diver in my whole team.” Andrew put one arm around the girl’s shoulder and squeezed. “Why don’t you come over and get acquainted with the rest of the group?”

Jarod allowed himself to be led away but glanced back in time to see Tricia give a suppressed shudder as she bent down to pick up her towel.

* * * * * * * * *

She nodded her thanks to the man who helped her off the train and picked up her bag, putting it onto her back.

“Can I help you with anything else?”

The man smiled in an attempt to be charming but there was a certain something in his smile that reminded her sharply of Bobby, so she shook her head and turned away.

“Aw, come on. I’m sure my wife would love the chance to cook a home-made meal for a girl like you.”

She refrained from reminding him that he had no wife, knowing that it would be the easiest way to provoke him, but instead turned and, keeping both hands firmly in her pockets, looked at him, her face expressionless.

“I appreciate your help but am quite able to manage from here on in.”

She watched as he began to turn pale and, clutching his head and muttering something about a headache, walked away, staggering slightly. She shook her own head and turned her back on him. She mentally shook off the feelings that she had felt emanating from him and with which she had been hit while talking with him. For a few seconds she looked around before finally fixing her eyes on the blue of the ocean in front of her and, taking a deep breath, began to walk towards it. That was where she would find him…

* * * * * * * * *

Benjy and Frankie's Cafe
Naples, Florida

Jarod carried the two drinks over to the table and pushed once across to where Tricia McMillan sat. He took a cautious sip of his strawberry shake, liked it and continued to drink eagerly, watching as Tricia played fitfully with her apple juice.

“Thanks for you tip today, Mr Douglas.”

“Hey, no problem.” He paused. “And the name’s Jarod.”

She smiled at him for a moment. Then the smile faded and she sighed. Jarod looked at her in sympathy. “Are you thinking about Joanne?”

“She was my best friend, Jarod. We met at the diving school eight years ago. We started on the same day and stayed at almost the same level the whole way through. Well, kind of. She was better than me.”

As she paused, Jarod glanced at her to see if there was any jealousy in her face, but Tricia’s eyes only held an expression of pure sadness.

“I was also thrilled when she would win things. We would share the podium together - that was the best. And then she got a call asking if she would be interested in joining the Olympic diving team.

“She called me first of all, after she told her parents. She said she couldn’t wait to do it but she wanted me to be there for her tryouts. I was going to go along, of course. I was so excited for her. Think about it, I could have known somebody who was in the Olympics! And then…”

“She died.” Jarod finished the hard sentence for her. “Do you think it really was an accident while she was swimming?”

Tricia shrugged. “I thought she was a better swimmer than that, but Joanne was a very determined person. If she had made up her mind to go for an early morning swim, then nothing would stop her. But it isn’t really in character for her. She never really liked getting up early in the morning. We both enjoyed sleeping in a lot. In fact,” Tricia began to giggle, “one day she stayed over at my house and we talked until long after two am. We didn’t wake up that day until nearly four in the afternoon.”

Jarod smiled but the expression dropped as he saw that Tricia was feeling guilty about being so happy when her friend was dead. He changed the subject quickly.

“So tell me more about your team.”

“What do you want to know?”

“How long have you guys worked together?”

“Joanne and I started, like I told you, eight years ago. Then, Andrew was the assistant coach but our first coach died and he became the boss. Most of the original people dropped out but, as Joanne said, diving was more important than the attitude of the coach, so we stayed. A few years later, the team had dwindled down to just the four of us.”

“You, Joanne…”

“Lou Prosser and Marvin Patrick. You met them both this afternoon.”

“And why don’t you like Andrew?”

She looked up at him sharply, hesitant to answer the question before she knew his reasons for asking it.

“What makes you think that?”

“You find it uncomfortable when he touches you, don’t you? I saw it today, when he put his arm around you. Has he ever done anything to you?”

She shook her head. “Not in the way you mean. You’re right, I don’t like it when he puts his arm around me or touches me. It makes me feel uneasy. Joanne felt the same way. She told me once.”

”So why don’t you tell him? Get him to stop?”

She laughed - a short, hard laugh. “Tell him to stop? Nobody tells him to stop and he wouldn’t do it unless he wanted to himself.” She turned away and picked up her purse. “Thanks for the drink, Jarod. I have to go.”

He nodded and smiled at her. “Not a problem. I’ll see you at training tomorrow.”

On to Act II

 
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