Perchance to Dream


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Avon, Pennsylvania

Jordan sat intensely concentrating on the computer screen. All the data Major Charles needed to do as Ethan asked was there. There was just one teeny tiny problem: all the research indicated that that this treatment was going to be tricky, especially since they couldn’t exactly bring Jarod into a hospital. And he had the feeling there was a lot more going on which Ethan was neglecting to tell him.

“Something wrong, son?” the Major asked. They’d made their way to this hotel room after Major Charles had agreed to do the simulation that Ethan suggested. It had given him the cold shivers, though. The idea that Jarod could be in that much trouble was extremely unpleasant.

“I don’t know.” Jordan sighed. “The nightmares have stopped. But I can’t shake the feeling that it isn’t a good thing. It’s like things feel too good to be true. And we don’t really know that much about Ethan, do we?”

“I wish there were a way to test things.” Charles replied. “I do trust Ethan, but I don’t feel that I understand him. He spent too much time under Raines' guiding hand for me to know how to reach him.”

“Didn’t Jarod say some kind of inner voices guided him?” Jordan asked.

“Yeah. He also said the voices drove Ethan nuts,” he answered.

“He seems pretty okay.” Jordan placed his head on his hands and sighed. “It isn’t like it’s possible to be involved with the Centre and not go just a little bit nuts anyway.”

The older man grinned. “True. Meanwhile, maybe you’d better show me what you’ve found on the computer.”

The man and boy bent their heads over the computer screen.

“Ethan expects me to help with that!” the older man exclaimed.

“Yeah,” Jordan answered. When Jarod’s feelings had entered his head, Jordan’s first reaction was to get them out. He didn’t want any kind of psychic link with his progenitor. It was bad enough to be a clone, without being a reflection of the real thing. But the lack of any contact with Jarod by phone or e-mail had made everything pretty scary. Jordan had come to rely on Jarod and he missed him in ways he couldn’t put into words. “It’s the only way we can get him back safely. I can help, but I can’t do it.”

Major Charles looked at the boy. “Are you positive this is the only answer? This goes a little beyond having been a medic in a few skirmishes, you know.”

Jordan nodded. “There’s no alternative. All other things aside, once Jarod is free he’ll be pursued. We can’t run the risk of his coming into contact with the Centre until all traces of the drug are gone from his system, or he may very well return to them voluntarily.”

“Yeah. And Ethan did say he was going to have someone else there to help,” he sighed.
All this would have been a lot easier if he’d nursed Jarod through more than just a few colds as an infant.

* * * * * * * * *

Ventilation System
The Centre

Angelo slipped through the ventilation ducts like a rat through a maze. He was always moving, always in the shadows. Down and further down he went, past the sensors. Nobody kept track of what went on in the very depths of the Centre. In the secret tunnel where he’d stored the boxes and boxes of material he’d stolen from the Centre’s archives, he removed one file and clutched it to his breast. Rocking back and forth, he said softly, “Dead, she’s dead now. He’s dead now. All gone now.”

* * * * * * * * *

Jarod's Apartment

Jarod waited patiently for the shot to take effect. He could steal some time here and there, right after he was first injected. While he didn’t want the time to plan a physical escape, the part of his brain that was still Jarod sometimes needed to take a mental escape.

His son, his and Parker’s son. As horrified as he had been by the idea that someone had stolen his genetic material again, the idea of having a child by Parker fascinated him. He had always wanted family, his family. He couldn’t stop thinking about that. Would the boy have Parker’s temper or his? Would he be a pretender or not? What would he be like?

There was a white ranch house with a picket fence. In the yard, a little boy played with a plastic airplane. A swing set and sandbox were also there, with toys in the sandbox as though they had been played with that day. A woman wearing an apron worked in a garden. She kept a close eye on the little boy, smiling at his game.

Jarod smiled to himself. Even in his imagination he couldn’t quite see Parker being so passive. She’d always need to be accomplishing something practical. That was her nature.

A man carrying a doctor’s bag came up the path and let himself in through the gate.
Jarod saw that it was himself. Parker reached out and kissed him, with the familiarity of a customary but still passionate relationship. The little boy ran to him calling out, “Daddy!” Jarod picked the boy up and swung him around. “More!” the boy exclaimed. Jarod made airplane noises as he swung his son around.

“Don’t play forever, you two,” Parker said. “Dinner’s almost ready to be taken out of the oven and I don’t want it to get cold.”

“I wouldn’t dream of avoiding your cooking. We’ll go in and wash right away, won’t we?” Jarod said. The little boy nodded and they went into the house. Parker followed them, and set a pizza and breadsticks on the table. Jarod came in and helped his son get seated at the table. Parker cut the pizza and put slices on each of their plates. They ate and both of them helped clean off the table. Jarod and the little boy went to play video games. Parker sat down next to them, and made comments about his skill and strategy. Later, they both helped put the little boy to bed.

Jarod’s smile grew broader. He wanted to have a family. This was a good dream. He’d have to try and remember it.

* * * * * * * * *

Our Lady of Refuge Convent

Her lips moved. “Jarod,” she whispered. The ache inside couldn’t be stifled by drugs. She’d lost her son, her life. Cradling her firstborn, she had known that her true purpose in life was to be a mother, to care for her child. That was the most important thing in the world. Her little boy had been so clever, too, learning his letters and numbers very young. He’d had a happy, eager curiosity that made him shine brighter than anything Margaret could imagine. And it was all gone.

Now all she saw was her little boy, all grown up, the way she’d last seen him in Boston, forced to go on the run. And there had been nothing she could do to protect him. That was the worst of it, to have been close enough to see him and be unable to touch him, to help him. That had been true torture.

She never let her mind touch her other child, the one that had been poisoned by the Centre. Harriet was her friend and Harriet had been hurt by Kyle. She couldn’t forget that. She couldn’t think of that.

Her mind returned to Jarod. Where was he? How was he?

* * * * * * * *

Mr. Parker's office
The Centre

Mr. Parker was waiting for his daughter to arrive, standing impatiently near the window. He handed her an envelope when she neared, her stride purposeful as usual. And her expression, as usual, was unreadable. It was getting to harder to know what she was thinking these days, and he needed that insight.

“Here’s a job we need you to do as head of SIS. Can you go and audit our other offices, make sure that security is everything it should be?” Mr. Parker’s tone left no doubt that he wasn’t going to listen to excuses.

She crossed her arms, envelope tucked beneath one with hardly more than a glance at its cover. She sighed, considering. “Only if I can take my team. The head of a unit doesn’t do the hands-on work, Daddy.” Her tone was appropriately firm. “But the break from routine will be pleasant. And it never hurts to see what’s going on elsewhere.”

She offered him a small, tight smile.

“My thoughts exactly,” he returned with a smile of approval. “Take whoever you need, within reason.”

“Meaning?” Miss Parker asked.

“It wouldn’t be reasonable to take Jarod, but it might not be a bad idea to take your brother,” he answered. Anything to get those two out from underfoot for a few days, he told himself. She was frighteningly efficient, getting in the middle of everything, and Lyle was just a nuisance lately.

Miss Parker controlled her expression, except for one elegantly arched eyebrow. “Do you have some reason for wanting to get Lyle out of the way? If so, you’d better give it to me. Little brother and I don’t exactly play well together.”

She was just too good. He frowned at her. “Maybe if you spent more time together, you would.”

“Actually, I was thinking about taking Sydney. He could be useful in checking the truthfulness of the interviews. It never hurts to get a second opinion,” Miss Parker answered.

He knew she didn’t trust Lyle. She was too smart for that. But he wanted Lyle out of the way, and she was the best excuse to accomplish that goal. “Sorry, angel. Sydney’s work here is too important. Take someone else from the same unit, if you like.”

“Very well. I’ll leave tomorrow,” she answered. Her glance at the envelope was doubtful, but resigned.

“Have a pleasant and profitable trip,” Mr. Parker answered, returning to his desk. She accepted his dismissal, and retreated without further protest. As an extra precaution, he checked his e-mail. Yes, everything was ready for his daughter’s arrival. She should be kept very busy indeed, which was just what he wanted.

* * * * * * * * *

Jarod's Apartment

He used to escape through music, playing the music over and over in his mind. Now, happy as he was, he found he still wanted to escape further. It was as though he needed to remember something that was on the tip of his mind. What was it? What could it be?

Who was missing in his life? Parker, of course. She’d been a companion throughout his childhood. He made himself think of the adventures they’d had, the friendship. Perhaps if he found the perfect solution he’d be allowed to see Parker. He couldn’t help Parker if he couldn’t see her. Eve, who helped make him happy, would surely want to help make Parker happy. Parker was, after all, a part of the Centre.

Slowly, Jarod twisted the facts he knew into something that made him more comfortable. Miss Parker was his friend. She was a good person. The Centre made him happy. The Centre was good. Parker had to be part of the Centre. She had to be part of the good things.

He wondered if he dared to ask Eve to see Parker. Then his thoughts returned to the task at hand. For now, he needed to work on his assignments. A part of him wanted to pretend the fascination with work was all a pretend. Then as the drug took control of him, he forgot what he thought of doing, engrossed in the task that would keep him here in the Centre, working to get the drug he didn’t want to consciously know he needed.

On to Act III

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