Elizabeth completed the book she had been reading and wandered out of
her room. Although she enjoyed using her skills, it did get a bit boring
sometimes, when she was the only person awake. The three weeks since she
had come to live in the building had provided her with so much practice
that she could now perform her nightly tasks with little effort, being
able to read or listen to music, even hold a conversation at the same
Strolling down the hallway, she peeped into Sebastian's room, smiling
at the psychic who sat in one corner, reading a book. Although there were
times when Elizabeth felt it unnecessary, having the extra level of protection
was as much a comfort for her as it was for Sumi and her husband.
Making her way to the stairs at the end of the hallway, she descended
a flight of them, going aimlessly along the darkened hallway on the lower
level and into the playroom. She saw as well at night as she did during
the daytime hours, although she hadn't realized this fact until she had
moved here. Until Trevor had pointed out that she seemed to successfully
navigate dark, cluttered rooms and passageways, Elizabeth had always believed
that everyone else saw the darkness in the same way she did -- with a
slight tinge of green that allowed her to see objects clearly. An examination
of her eyes had shown no abnormality, and it was assumed to simply be
another facet of her skill.
Startled, the woman turned to see the little boy, dragging a teddy bear
behind him, watching her from a nearby doorway.
"Gabriel, what are you doing up?" she exclaimed in hushed tones,
picking up the child. "You should be asleep, like everybody else."
"Daddy 'wake," he told her, resting his head against her shoulder.
Nodding without really understanding, she carried him into the nursery
to find that the woman Sebastian had placed in charge of the children's
quarters and their carergivers had just discovered the empty bed.
"You've got an escapee," Elizabeth joked. "Miss him?"
"Always," Helen replied with a grin, holding out her hands.
"Come on, Gabriel. Back to bed, sweetie."
"No." He turned, burying his face in Elizabeth's shoulder and
clinging tightly to her shirt. "No bed."
"I'll take him out for a short stroll and bring him back when he's
ready to sleep," the younger woman suggested, and Helen nodded.
"Then I'll go back to bed myself." She yawned. "I don't
know how you do it, staying awake all night."
"Well, Trevor calls me an owl," Elizabeth remarked, laughing.
"Maybe that isn't too far off."
After watching the older woman leave the room, Elizabeth turned to the
little boy. "So what do you want to do?"
"Go out." Gabriel pointed up, and the woman raised an eyebrow.
"Uh huh." He gave her a sly grin. " Uriel say you go up
dere at night."
"He's right," the woman admitted with a smile, "I do."
Taking the small white bathrobe, complete with flying pigs on the pocket,
and a tiny pair of bunny slippers out of the child's wardrobe, Elizabeth
dressed Gabriel in them and carried him along to the elevator, riding
it up to the roof. When the doors opened, she put him down and then stepped
out into the cool night air on the observation deck. The boy clutched
her hand as they walked slowly along the concrete, stopping at a cage
in which Namir kept a collection of injured animals.
Elizabeth had at first been puzzled by the conflicting emotions revealed
in the healer's dreams, but as she had spent more time with him, it had
become clearer. He was a warrior who liked to use the fighting skills
he had been taught, but at the same time couldn't turn away from the helpless
and injured, be it human or animal, particularly if the injuries had been
caused by human beings. Whenever Namir left Sanctuary, to escape from
those around whom he still felt less than comfortable, he almost never
returned without an injured animal.
"Bunny," Gabriel stated, pointing at a rabbit whose back leg
was healing rapidly after being hit by a car several days earlier.
"That's right," she agreed, lifting the small, furry animal
out of the cage and, as he sat on the ground with a bump, placing it gently
in Gabriel's arms. A memory assailed Elizabeth and she smiled. "You
call Faith 'Bunny' too, don't you?"
He gave her as hard a look as a two-year-old could. "How you know
Elizabeth sat down on the ground beside him. "When you're asleep
at night, I know what you dream about. Then I make sure you don't have
the bad ones."
"For Daddy too?"
"No." Elizabeth shook her head. "Your Daddy's too far
away. I can only do it for the people in this building. But when your
Daddy comes to visit next time, we'll make sure he doesn't have any bad
"What you dweam about?"
"I don't know," she admitted, laughing. "I never remember
my dreams." The woman gently lifted the rabbit out of Gabriel's arms.
"We'll let the bunny sleep now, okay?"
"Does Bunny dweam too?"
"You mean Faith or the real bunny?"
"Weal bunny," he replied shortly as she placed the animal into
the cage and secured it.
"Of course," she told him. "But Bunny's dreams are boring.
Just about grass and carrots and lady bunnies. Only people have interesting
Gabriel raised his arms and Elizabeth picked him up, strolling along
to the balustrade that ran along the length of the deck, gazing out over
the city of Dallas.
"Pwetty," the child stated.
"It sure is," she concurred, lifting her head to gaze at the
"Do you ever miss the Australian ones?" a male voice from behind
suggested, and Elizabeth nodded as she turned to see the man, a white
bathrobe over the pajama pants and t-shirt he now wore to bed.
"Often," she confessed. "You too?"
"I don't really remember them," Sebastian admitted. "I
was pretty young when Da moved here to increase his fortune, and to see
what the Centre could do for me."
The woman walked over to a chair and sat down, the boy in her lap. Sebastian
stretched out on a sun-lounge nearby, tucking his hands behind his head
and staring up into the sky.
"When did you find out you could do -- that?" the man queried,
becoming stuck when he tried to give 'that' a name.
"Consciously, I was nine." She smiled, watching Gabriel play
with his teddy bear. "Like a lot of kids, I had an extra sense when
I was young. I always knew that my parents had bad dreams and I can remember
waking up in tears because of a nightmare they were about to have."
"About to?" Sebastian raised an eyebrow, turning his head to
watch her. "So you'd cry, wake them up and they'd never have it?"
"Exactly." Elizabeth laughed. "My parents were huge skeptics
of anything paranormal and, as yours did with you, they dragged me from
doctor to doctor, trying to work out what it was and how to stop it. Of
course, having a skill that only works when the person testing you is
asleep, and which can't be picked up on tests anyway, it rapidly becomes
an exercise of 'move along folks, nothing to see here.'"
"When did you start dipping into the subconscious?"
"I was fourteen." She sighed regretfully, stroking the hair
of the small boy, who was nodding sleepily in her arms. "My parents
sent me off to boarding school and the school nurse was a healer, although
most people didn't know it. She kept the gift hidden as much as she could,
and only used it when the patient wouldn't know. Her dreams were full
of the guilt she felt, but I could never work out exactly what she could
do and why she felt guilty, so one day I faked an illness and caught her
in the act. Then I talked to her about it."
"How did that help?"
"We talked about enhancing and practicing our skills. I started
off by waking up my roommate as soon as I picked up on an 'impending disaster,'
as she called it when she found out what I was capable of." Elizabeth
smiled. "One day she picked up a book on the paranormal and got an
idea for using imagery to enhance the skills. That's when I began imagining
a blanket of the dreams people had, with the bad ones like puckers in
the fabric. It took a lot of practice, but I finally taught myself to
control my ability until I could do it at will."
"Is it a good or a bad thing?" the man prompted.
The woman's expression became thoughtful, carefully lifting the now sleeping
Gabriel so that his head rested on her shoulder, gently rubbing his back
with her other hand. "I never asked myself that. It's just always
been there. I never considered what life would be like without it."
"Lucky you," Sebastian muttered.
"I smell smoke," Elizabeth joked. "Cool it, Sparky, or
I'll break out the fire extinguishers."
He grinned somewhat feebly. "You wouldn't dare."
"Wanna bet?" She laughed. "Water pistols at twenty paces
if I'm right."
"Okay, but I get the SuperSoaker."
"Hey, no fair!" Elizabeth protested, narrowing her eyes. "How
Shrugging, but unable to hide a grin, Sebastian got to his feet, slipping
his arm around her shoulders as they started to stroll towards the exit.
"Simple, my little Owl. It's my building."
* * * * * * * * *
Jordan counted out the money he had borrowed from Cam, knowing it wouldn't
be enough to pay for the room, and then pulled out his laptop. Logging
into the motel's records again, he typed in the details of one of Jarod's
credit cards and waited until it had been cleared before disconnecting
the machine and quickly packing it into the bag. He carried his things
out to the car and stored them in the trunk. Getting into the driver's
seat, he started the engine and, with a cautious look around, drove away,
heading for Blue Cove.
* * * * * * * * *
"What time is it?"
Yuri glanced at his watch. "Almost three. We've only got a few more
hours before sunrise."
Nodding, Jarod checked he had everything before doing up his bag. "It'll
take us all our time to get there an hour before the time I'm meant to
"The sweepers should be gone by the time we get there."
"I like your use of the word 'should,'" the other man retorted
sharply. "They have to be gone or we can't manage this. Two of us
couldn't possibly win against the dozen or more sweepers that were in
Even as Yuri tried to grin, Jarod's cell phone rang. Picking it up, Jarod's
brow furrowed as he answered it.
"Jarod, it's me. We've got a problem."
"Dad? What's wrong?"
"It's Jordan. He's gone. I went in to see him, feeling kind of guilty
about how firm I was with him before, and he wasn't there. He's sent a
message saying he's safe, but he didn't tell me where he was going."
Jarod sank down onto the bed, staring at the floor, before suddenly looking
up as realization dawned. "Echo!"
"Oh, God, no," his father protested immediately. "Don't
"Probably." A half-smile quirked the corners of Jarod's mouth.
"It's what I'd do."
"When can you get up here?"
"Dad -- I can't! Something
came up. I can't possibly make
"What's more important than family?" Major Charles snapped.
"Fine, if you won't go after him, then I will!"
"No, Dad," Jarod protested immediately. "Not up there.
It's too close to the Centre, and
"Jordan flew up there," the older man cut in.
"That's not what I meant. I was going to say that you can't go up
there and interrupt him doing what he wants to. If you did, it might draw
their attention to you. He's got a better chance if he can do it and get
away." Jarod forced a reassuring note into his voice. "Jordan's
a sensible kid, Dad. He's not going let himself get caught if he can avoid
it. I trust his judgment. Maybe Sebastian or someone could locate the
plane for you, and if it's not too close to Delaware, you could fly up
there and wait for him, in case he needs a hand."
"And you're sure you can't make it?"
"No, Dad." Jarod's eyes traveled to the screen, where the image
of his sister remained. "No, it isn't possible. I'm sorry."
Disconnecting the call, he slid the phone into his pocket and returned
his gaze to the floor.
"What's going on?" Yuri demanded after several moments of silence,
turning off the TV and disconnecting Jarod's laptop, packing it away.
The older man looked up. "Jordan -- the boy they cloned from me
-- has gone to Blue Cove to retrieve a project we found out about."
"And you're trying to decide which one's more important," Yuri
finished. "Jarod, your sister is in immediate danger. Jordan isn't."
For another second, Jarod considered, before looking up. "You're
right. Let's get out of here."
"You know what else?" Yuri suggested as they went down the
"Considering his genes, Jordan shouldn't really have a problem saving
someone, should he?"
Sending a half-harassed, half-amused glance in the other man's direction,
Jarod got into the car and put the key in the ignition.
* * * * * * * * *
Blue Cove, Delaware
The car stopped at a red light, and Morgan turned her head from a subtle
examination she had been performing of Peter as he began one of her. Another
car pulled up beside them, the driver of which immediately bent over something
on the passenger seat. Morgan couldn't help finding something about the
young man familiar. She looked closely at the youth as he cast glances
at the red light before checking his watch. But it was when he raised
his head to get a proper look at a street sign that she had to bite her
bottom lip to keep from making any noise.
Jordan, as Jarod said they had named him.
What on earth was he doing in Blue Cove? Did he realize how dangerous
it was for him to be seen in this area? If someone from the Centre should
A sudden thought made her glad that habitual cautiousness had kept her
silent. Despite their friendly flow of conversation during the meal and
his comment when she had appeared in his apartment in Berlin, Morgan still
couldn't fully make up her mind as to which side of the battle Winston
would end up on, if and when it came to that. If Peter was a supporter
of Delius and of the Chairman, and if he happened to know what Jordan
looked like, particularly with his natural and rapidly increasing resemblance
to the man from whom he had been cloned, then even just a glimpse of the
boy might be enough for him to insist on calling out the cavalry, and
that was something that Morgan couldn't bear to have happen. In desperation,
she turned, engaging him in discussion about their time in Italy as the
lights turned green and they went one way, Jordan going in the other.
* * * * * * * * *
"Thank you for a lovely night," she told him somewhat primly,
hoping that he wouldn't put her in a situation where she would feel obliged
to invite him in.
"The pleasure was all mine," he responded with a warm smile.
"I'm glad you had such a good time." Peter gently squeezed her
arm before letting go. "Although I hate to say it, I've got an early
meeting with the other German members in the morning, so I'm afraid I
really should be going."
"Well, any time you're in town, don't forget to hack into my calendar,"
Morgan teased, smiling down at him from the step of the veranda.
"I will," he responded honestly, reaching up to gently brush
her cheek with his lips. "I'll see you tomorrow for our meeting,
"I'll look forward to it, Mr. Winston," she responded with
a smile, inserting the key into the lock and turning it. He waited until
she entered the house before stuffing his hands in the pockets of his
pants and, unable to wipe the smile off his face, headed back to his car.
Morgan shut the door, removing the cape from around her shoulders and
draping it over one arm as she emptied the contents of her purse onto
the hall table in the moonlight streaming in through the stained glass
windows. The sight of a shadow moving on the other side of the room caught
her attention, and she turned her head sharply, suddenly wishing that
she had invited Peter in, as a host of possible threats waltzed through
"It's only me," a soft and familiar voice stated. Reaching
out, Morgan turned on a light to find her half-brother standing in a corner
of the room, hands in his pockets, looking at her a little sheepishly.
"Ethan!" she exclaimed, crossing the room in paces as large
as her somewhat restrictive dress would allow. "What on earth are
you doing here? It's wonderful to see you."
"You look beautiful," he told her as he gently returned her
"Thanks," she smiled. "It's just
" A sudden
movement her brother made in the light revealed a look of pain in his
eyes, and she broke off, forcing him to look at her. "What is it,
For a moment, his mouth moved, but no words came out. Finally, he reached
into the bag he carried and pulled out the photos, putting them into her
"Do you know who that is?"
Morgan eyed him sharply before turning her attention to the first of
the pictures, immediately recognizing the child's features.
"Uriel," she replied slowly, before looking up at her brother.
"How did you get this, Ethan?"
"They were sent to me," he admitted, sitting down as she waved
him to a chair. "I got them in an email today, and then a woman called
me." Ethan rested his elbows on his knees, linked his fingers together
and rested his chin on them, staring at the floor. "She told me that
he was my son, hers and mine." Ethan suddenly looked up at his sister.
"Is it possible? Could he be?"
"Possibly," Morgan admitted carefully, sitting down in a chair
facing him and eyeing the child, forced to recognize her brother's facial
features in those of the little boy who stared at her out of the paper.
"Where is he?" Ethan demanded abruptly. "In the Centre?"
"He was," his sister confessed slowly. "He's not there
now. He was one of a group of children called the Seraphim, who were being
trained by the Centre to exploit their skills."
"What is he?" Ethan persisted. "Does he hear the voices
"Not according to the notes, but it's impossible to say for sure,"
the woman stated. "His skills are limited to mild psychic abilities
at this stage, at least as far as I've found."
The young man nodded slowly. "Where is he now?"
"Ask your brother," Morgan responded cautiously. "He's
more likely to know for sure."
Nodding, Ethan got to his feet, beginning to pace the room in front of
the fireplace. "What do I do now?" he demanded suddenly. "I
mean, I don't even know who this woman was. How can I be sure she's telling
the truth? And, even if she is, how can I contact her?"
Settling back in the chair, Morgan reflected that she was going to have
little or no sleep at all that night as she began to consider the problem.
"Was there anything you noticed that might give us a hint?"
she demanded. "Anything at all?"
After a moment, Ethan turned and gave her a quick run-down of the end
of the call. After a long moment of silence, he added something.
"The name of the sender was MD, if that helps."
"Delius," she mused aloud after a few seconds of thought. "That
suggests it's someone at Die Fakultät."
Not really understanding, Ethan briefly considered asking what she meant
but decided not to get bogged down in unnecessary detail. Reaching into
his pocket, Ethan produced a slip of paper.
"That's my cell phone number," he told her. "Could you
maybe get somebody to run a check of the phone records? That might help."
"Can I call you on it, too?" she asked softly, accepting the
paper and standing up to meet his eye. "I've hardly seen you, Ethan,
and I don't really feel like I know you at all. I'd really like the chance
to learn more about you."
"I'd like that, too," he conceded with a shy smile. "I
know Emily now, but I'd like to get to know my other sister that well
"I'll find out whatever I can and call you, or you can come back
here this time tomorrow," she promised, handing him the photos. "And
if you call your brother, I'm sure he'll tell you where Uriel is."
"I hope so." He hugged her, before heading for the door. Once
there, he stopped and glanced over his shoulder at her, smiling in a way
that forcibly reminded her of Jarod, but more so of Uriel. "She's
glad you had such a good night. So am I."
Opening the door, he disappeared into the night, and, as Morgan went
over to lock it behind him, in spite of the seriousness of the situation
that her brother was facing, she found herself laughing.
* * * * * * * * *
Emily sat with her eyes closed, her head bent slightly forward. The position
wasn't particularly comfortable, but with her hands tied so tightly behind
her back, nothing was, and so she had begun meditating in an effort to
ease it. At odd moments, she wondered how long it would be before Jarod
could get there to rescue her. Other times, she ruminated on the moment
when she had first seen the group of sweepers enter the restaurant.
Just the sight of the uniform had caused her to look immediately for
another exit, but the eight men had entered by the only available door
and she knew she had no hope of getting around them. They had quietly
approached her table and the one man Emily knew, whose face she could
clearly remember from the day that he had pushed her out of her office
window in Philadelphia, had slid onto the bench beside her. The next instant,
a hard, blunt object was poking into her ribs, and she knew without looking
that it was a gun.
"Emily, my dear," he had exclaimed in tones that suggested
a long acquaintance. "It's such a pleasure to see you again. Why
don't you come and have lunch with my friends and I?"
With such an obvious threat, she'd had no choice, immediately picking
up her bag and jacket as she, the man with the gun and four sweepers accompanied
her to the door, where the other three waited and, at the same unhurried
pace, escorted her to one of the black cars that were parked along the
Lyle gave her a long, searching look and then turned Valentine.
"How much longer?"
"An hour until we arranged for the meeting." The sweeper sat
calmly in his chair, playing with an elastic band that he had found on
the floor. "I'll leave with the other sweepers in a minute and you
and the others can take her to the Centre as soon as we've got Jarod.
If he doesn't show up, we'll have to bloody the floor a little."
"Fine." Lyle began to pace the room. The sweeper shot an amused
glance of comprehension at the other man, but he was prevented from speaking
when Lyle's cell phone rang.
"This is Lyle."
"There's been a sighting of Yuri in Georgia," stated the familiar
voice of the Chairman.
The man cast a hunted look around the room. "Dad, not now. I'm in
the middle of something. I can't
"Oh, I don't want you," Mr. Parker assured him. "No, I
want the sweepers you took with you to Idaho. They need to get to Carson
City, Nevada, within the next two hours, so Yuri doesn't get away, and
that's an order."
"Don't disobey me, Lyle," the man growled, "or any failure
to recapture Yuri will be on your head, and the Triumvirate will hear
all about it."
The dial tone cut short any further protestations and he angrily cut
the connection. Glaring around the building, as Valentine watched out
of the corner of his eye, Lyle snapped out his orders and the sweepers
began to leave the room.
The aggressive tones cut through Emily's meditation and she heard the
order with a feeling of triumph. She had had no doubt that Jarod would
have tried to arrange a plan to rescue her and suspected that the call
about Yuri was just a distraction. Obviously, Emily thought, Yuri was
important to the Centre, if they were sending almost two-dozen sweepers
to catch him. Opening her eyes a fraction, she watched the numerous men
leave the building and was able to hear several cars start up outside.
She had considered escaping before this, but knew she wouldn't have been
able to get away from all the men who stood guard over her. Several had
watched her closely, presumably for any movement that might have indicated
she was trying to cut through the ropes that tied her to the chair, so
she had refrained from doing so. Now, however, with the strength of the
guard reduced so dramatically, she eased a small blade out of the band
of her watch, a precaution she had taken years earlier, in case of a situation
like this, and slowly began to saw through the many strands of the ropes.
* * * * * * * * *
"Well, why didn't you stop him?" Sebastian barked into the
phone. "Where is he now?"
"But he had orders from you, sir," the man on the other end
explained. "The plane landed in Maryland several hours ago. As far
as we can tell, it hasn't been touched since."
"As soon as he gets back to it, call me immediately," Sebastian
ordered before turning off the speaker and casting an almost apologetic
glance at the man seated opposite.
"I'm going up there," Major Charles told him, but Trevor immediately
put a hand on his arm as the man rose to his feet.
"Don't," the psychic told him firmly. "He's up there now
-- probably already in Blue Cove. You can't do anything from here, and
by the time you got up there, as long as everything went according to
his plan, he'd probably already be on his way back."
"And if it doesn't?" the Major demanded. "What then?"
"I have people within the Centre," Sebastian admitted. "We'll
know if he's caught and we can arrange things then."
"We've been through this once," the older man growled, shaking
himself loose and walking over to the door. "I never thought it would
The two men watched the door slam shut before Trevor turned to Sebastian.
"I called Sun an hour ago," his boss responded thoughtfully.
"He promised to let me know as soon as Cox turned up for work. He
said Cox was very consistent in his movements. If he shows on time, the
likelihood is that he doesn't know Jordan's there."
"And if he doesn't turn up?"
Sebastian sighed heavily. "Then I guess we'll need to work out some
way to get him back."
* * * * * * * * *
Blue Cove, Delaware
Upon his arrival at the Centre, Sydney's first task was to check that
the file was still where he had hidden it the night before. When it proved
to be untouched, he left his office and walked to the elevator, riding
it down to SL-17. Stepping out, he turned to the man who was seated to
"How's he been?"
"Quite happy," the sweeper responded. "He's wandered around
the rooms but didn't seem to have any concerns about not being able to
get into the vents."
"I'm glad to hear it." He nodded at the man. "Thanks."
With an answering nod, the sweeper got into the elevator as Sydney made
his way along the deserted corridor.
When there was no response, he began looking through the various rooms,
finally finding the empath lying on the bed where Angelique had slept.
At Sydney's appearance in the doorway, Angelo jumped to his feet and scampered
from the room. Following him out into the hallway, the psychiatrist watched
him disappear into the room where, the day before, he had begun to store
his stash. Entering, Sydney found him curled up in the corner. Approaching
the empath, concerned about his apparent flightiness, the older man bent
down in front of him.
"Angelo, is something wrong?"
Turning his head away, the empath curled even tighter into a ball, at
which point Sydney felt it would be best if he strategically retreated.
The corner contained a table and chair. Taking the seat, Sydney allowed
his eyes to rove around the room, taking note of the small changes that
possibly indicated some hidden treasure or other.
Angelo watched the psychiatrist warily for several minutes before pulling
himself into a sitting position. His eyes traveled quickly from the man
to a box almost under his feet, detecting the curiosity with which Sydney
was visually examining his quarters. A tiny smile curled the empath's
lips as he eyed the set-up he had arranged.
The doorway was open and, on all fours, Angelo scampered through it.
Sydney watched him go, but made no move to follow, feeling that pursuing
the man would do no good at all. Even as he turned to look around again,
however, a corner of a flat rectangular box under his chair caught on
the back of his trousers and Sydney looked down sharply.
Pulling out the box, Sydney wiped a layer of dust off the top and cleared
the label, which read 'Psychogenic Project #23.' Sydney inhaled sharply
at the familiarity of the project name before removing the lid. Although
most of the box was filled with papers, a small cloth object lay on top
and Sydney carefully picked it up. Turning it around in his hands, Sydney
was able to recognize it as being similar to the mask he had seen in SL-27,
and which had presumably used in Jarod's abduction. Even as he thought
this, however, the empath returned, snatching the object from him. Sydney
waited for Angelo to grab the box too, but the man only gave him another
half-grin and scampered back to the corner. Clutching the material tightly
to his chest, the empath began muttering softly as he rocked gently to
and fro. Moving closer, the psychiatrist could make out the word 'Angel.'
* * * * * * * * *
3 Kennedy Avenue
Blue Cove, Delaware
The sun was showing on the horizon, but the street was deserted as Jordan
parked the car and strolled casually away from it. His heart pounded in
his ears and his throat was painfully dry as he checked that he had all
he needed in the pockets of his black pants. Glancing at his reflection
in the window of the house he was passing, Jordan couldn't keep back the
thought that he looked more like Jarod than ever, dressed in the black
attire he usually tried to avoid for that very reason.
A glance at his watch showed that he probably had an hour to find somewhere
to hide. A look at the Centre's computerized sign-in pages had shown Jordan
that Cox usually arrived at the Centre at around 7:30 in the morning,
which meant that he had to leave his house at about ten past seven. It
was now almost six as he approached the single-story building, checking
an old record of the property he had found in a real estate agent's computer
records from the time when the house had been sold to Cox, several years
earlier, to get an idea of the block's layout.
His dream suggested that the room in which the work had been completed
had no windows, so he was unlikely to be seen if Cox was working with
the project, and Jordan knew that there was no dog registered for the
property. The security system, also, was active only within the house
and not the grounds. This made it easier. He slid into a shadow near the
front gate and forced the lock, silently shutting it after himself. The
grounds were large but appeared to be open, so there were no fences for
him to climb. He carefully stepped up to the front door, fishing in his
pocket for a white device, which he affixed to the underside of the white
security panel. Once he was sure that it would stick to the smooth plastic,
he stepped away into the large shadow thrown by an elm that stood on the
Finding a position that give him a sufficient view of the house but also
kept him hidden unless someone came right up to the garden, Jordan silently
lowered himself until he lay underneath a bush. From his pocket, Jordan
extracted the first of several buns he had purchased from a bakery and
began to eat it to silence the growls of hunger from his stomach. The
sun lit the garden as it rose, but his estimate had been right and the
general brightness only increased the gloom around him. Producing a small
bottle of 7-Up, he took a swig before settling down to wait.
* * * * * * * * *
"You didn't do too badly," Cox grudgingly admitted from the
top of the stairs. "Although I have no doubt you could do better.
When I come back tonight, I want to see you ready to work on another project
I have planned."
There was a sound of faint sniffing that made Cox's brow darken as he
swung the cellar door shut and secured it. Snatching his briefcase from
the kitchen table, the man exited the house, locked the front door and
activated the security system. Getting into the car, Cox reversed it down
the drive and, without a backward glance, headed for the Centre.
Jordan waited until the car was gone and the remote-controlled gates
were closed before he got slowly to his feet. With barely a rustle, he
slipped from his hiding place and, keeping to the shadows cast by the
house and garden, approached the front door. Removing the small, white
device, he produced a larger box and slipped the chip into it, reading
the code that the machine provided. Typing in the six digits, he waited
for a second, until the light on the front of the security box went green,
before extracting a case from his pocket and producing a tool that would
jimmy the lock.
Only seconds later, Jordan was inside the house and silently closing
the door behind himself. Turning, he was confronted by dozens of pairs
of eyes and momentarily froze in his tracks before realizing that the
walls contained numerous stuffed and mounted animals. Sliding the case
into his pocket, Jordan began wandering around the living room and hallway,
staring in fascinated horror at the variety of objects that decorated
Recalling an earlier conversation he had had with Jarod about Cox's hobby,
Jordan went over to a fox that stared blankly back at him from under a
glass cover and removed the highly-polished dome. Suppressing a shudder,
Jordan gingerly picked up a long rattlesnake that decorated a bookshelf
and draped it over the back of the fox. Replacing the cover, he was unable
to help grinning at the absurdity of the situation. Ten minutes later,
similar parings had disturbed the formerly regular layout of the room
and the young man somewhat breathlessly stepped back to admire his handiwork.
The chiming of an antique grandfather clock in the corner brought Jordan's
attention back to the reason for his intrusion in the house. Looking around,
he knew that his dreams had had nothing to do with this section of the
house, but he peeped into various rooms, just to make sure. Finally he
arrived at the door that led down to the basement. Silently taking the
key off the hook on which it hung, Jordan also picked up a flashlight
that sat on a nearby shelf. After testing that the light worked, he inserted
the key into the lock and noiselessly turned it. Slowly he eased open
the door, pulling it inch by inch to ensure that it wouldn't creak and
alert who- or whatever might be in the cellar. His fears were unjustified.
It swung noiselessly open, on well-oiled hinges.
Removing the key from the lock, Jordan slid it into his pocket. Stepping
onto the top stair and cautiously testing it before putting his full weight
on it, he pulled the door almost shut, placing his lock-picking case on
the floor to make sure it didn't close completely. Turning, the young
man waited for his eyes to adjust to the gloom, using the light coming
around the partly open door to carefully and silently walk down the dozen
wooden steps until he was standing on a cold, hard, concrete floor.
Looking warily around in the gloom, Jordan was forcibly reminded of his
dreams. The smell was the same, a musty scent strong enough to be unpleasant.
The faint light trickling into the dark room showed a table that the boy
recognized, but as he was about to step towards it, a noise stopped him
in his tracks.
A muttered sound brought Jordan's attention to the corner of the room
where he instinctively knew the blanket would be. In spite of the dim
light, his eyes made out a form hunched under the covers, its back to
the room and one arm curled around its head. There was another brief moment
of silence, and then the sound of muffled breathing, almost soft snores,
before the muttering began again, the figure curling itself more tightly
into a ball.
Cautiously switching on the flashlight, Jordan swung the edge of the
beam onto the sleeping body, taking care not to startle it. The gray blanket,
tattered around the edges, was wrapped tightly around a small form, only
one arm revealed, and that was clad in ripped black material. For a few
seconds that seemed to go on for hours, Jordan hesitated, until it appeared
that the child hadn't woken. Reaching out with his other hand, Jordan
seized the blanket and carefully pulled it away, shining the edge of the
flashlight beam onto it. In the shock of the moment, the young man nearly
dropped the torch, but he instinctively managed to clutch it to his chest,
his eyes widening as he stared down at the person in front of him.