September 25, 2001
Blue Cove, Delaware
Sydney walked slowly into his office, placing the notes he had written
of his most recent session with each of the Seraphim caretakers on the
desk. He hated what he was doing now, knowing that Jarod was only a few
floors away, yet far beyond his reach. But then, it wouldnt have
mattered if they had allowed him in. The Jarod in that room wasnt
the man he had worked with and been proud of for so long.
Aurora had taken care of that.
Sitting down in the chair, the psychiatrist sank his head into his hands
with a groan, briefly closing his eyes, trying to force from his mind
the images that he had seen on the DSA that he had made the mistake of
asking Broots to retrieve for him. Opening his eyes again Sydney stared
at the fine wood grain of the desk, running his hand over the smooth surface.
Then he saw the note pushed under his blotter, only one corner of which
He looked around carefully before pulling it out. There were no surveillance
cameras in his office, or so Miss Parker had assured him. But now he had
to wonder, too, if Miss Parker was the same person he had thought she
was for so long. Regardless, he pulled out the slip of paper and read
through the sentences it contained, lowering the paper again to stare
blankly at the surface of his desk once more.
Glancing at his watch, Sydney knew that he could consider himself finished
for the day, and so, clearly, did the person who had left him the note.
Standing, he pushed the paper into his pocket and then collected his things.
Getting into the elevator, he resolutely put a finger on the button for
His visit to the chemistry labs went unchallenged and took only a matter
of minutes. It would take a lot longer to get to the post box in Maryland,
but he did have all night.
Sydney found himself staring blankly at the steering wheel when he eventually
got in the car. This action should have galvanized him with a sense of
purpose. The items he had gathered and was going to leave at the post
box identified by the spare key that had been taped onto the back of the
note would at least be a start to help with the withdrawal.
There was just one small problem to be overcome first. Jarod's father
had to trust him again. That was potentially risky enough in itself.
According to the note, Ethan had already made contact with Jarod's father
and the clone whom he understood they had named Jordan. That probably
meant they would be ready for what they needed to do, whenever Jarod got
out of the Centre.
Always assuming that the Major would trust Ethan, and that was a problem
in itself. But, as long as he did, they would be ready when Jarod was
And then there was another problem that Sydney hadnt reckoned on
during his initial calculations -- the problem that Jarod wouldnt
be willing to leave when the time came anyway.
Two comparatively small problems and one huge one.
Eyeing the glass test tubes for a moment, Sydney turned back to the road.
He reached the phone booth specified on the note and went into it, still
clutching the scrap of paper. For a few moments he stared at the mechanism
before lifting the receiver, inserting the coins and dialing the number.
* * * * * * * * *
International Departures Hall, John F. Kennedy Airport
New York, NY, USA
Have you got everything you need, Jarod?
I think so. Jarod looked at the bag he carried and shrugged.
If not, Ill just have to do without, I guess.
You can buy things there. There was a glint of amusement
in his fathers eye. Its not that much of a backwater.
Hey, I know nothing about it. Jarod's tone was resentful.
Im only being sent there, remember?
Well, I bought this for you, so that you could do a little research
on the plane. Charles pushed a book into his sons hand. Its
great -- but I dont know how much you should believe.
Jarod glanced at the book. Bill Bryson. Down Under.
He looked up and tried to smile. Thanks, Dad.
Jordan eyed the information board and then Jarod. Your flights
just started to board.
He nodded. I should go.
Major Charles gave him a slip of paper. Thats the cell-phone
number of the person whos meant to meet you in Melbourne and the
other number is her parents if she doesnt answer. He hugged
his son. Call us any time, okay?
I will, Dad. Jarod hugged Jordan. Dont worry
about me. Ill be fine. Back before you know it.
Take your time. Enjoy the break.
Look after yourselves.
We will, son.
Jarod picked up the bag, looked once more at his family and walked through
* * * * * * * * *
Over the Pacific Ocean
It was dark on the airplane when Jarod opened his eyes, glancing around
at the other passengers drowsily for a few moments before rousing fully
and turning to lift the small plastic window shade beside him. Being night
outside, it didnt make a lot of difference but provided enough illumination
for him to consult his watch and learn that hed only had two hours
sleep. Aurora had given him a chance to get some of the best sleep that
he could remember; Jarod knew it would take time before his body could
readjust to his earlier sleeping patterns. Particularly, he thought wryly,
since it was supposed to be mid-day, rather than three oclock in
the morning as it was at his destination. Knowing that more sleep was
impossible, regardless of how tired he felt, he put a hand into his bag
and took out the book his father had given him. Examining the cover, he
eyed each of the objects on it, able to recognize some but staring in
complete bewilderment at others. The big, red thing that sat in the middle
was the most puzzling.
Jarod turned to the man in the seat next to him who had noticed the confused
expression on his face. And that is?
Oh, youre a Yank. The man grinned. Know anything
Bits and pieces.
Its the worlds biggest monolith. The stranger
gave a proud smile that spoke volumes for his patriotism. Also the
worlds most photographed.
Why would anyone photograph a rock?
He shrugged, grinning. Because its there, I guess. Been Down
Down Under. Its another name for Australia, you know, where
the planes intending to land. He laughed. If you were
aiming for a different destination, its a little late for you to
change your mind now, but you could go and ask the captain.
Jarod managed a faint grin in reply. No, thats where Im
Probably lucky. Its a long way to swim back. So what will
you be doing?
Just taking a break, he answered cautiously. Several
people were worrying that I was working too hard.
I know the feeling, the other man replied. Well, youve
certainly picked the best place on earth for it. Youll leave there
a changed man.
That, Jarod responded solemnly, is most definitely
* * * * * * * * *
The door of the car opened and the man slid into the passenger seat,
glancing over at the man who sat behind the wheel. The second figure spoke
He got away okay. He wasnt too happy about it, but its
important to get him out of here, at least for the next few weeks.
Sydney nodded. What did he take with him?
Enough of that drug to help him with the withdrawal symptoms for
the next two weeks. If he stays longer, she knows the composition and
she said that someone can make more up for her.
Hes getting over it. It wasnt easy for him and he had
some bad hours while Jarod was initially recovering, but thats eased.
Hes been better since the plane took off.
The psychiatrist looked somewhat amused. No matter how great the
distance between them is, the connection they have wont be affected.
Except in his mind, Major Charles reminded the other man.
And that makes a big difference.
Granted. Sydney stared thoughtfully through the windshield
for a few moments and then turned to the other man. You will let
me know how he gets on?
Dont you think hell contact you?
Not yet. Sydney's fingers drummed the steering wheel impatiently.
Jarod wont want to get in touch with anyone from the Centre
for the next week or two. The pull of Aurora is still too strong. Youre
a much safer option. He knows you helped him to get over it.
And you were the one who supplied the necessary medication, or
at least made it available for collection at the post box when we needed
It was Angelos suggestion and Jarod doesnt know I did
it, the psychiatrist reminded him. Did he
He never asked and, as you suggested, I never offered the information.
Charles eyes softened. Dont you think he ought to be
told? He needs to know that you played a part in this too - a very important
For a moment Sydney was tempted, but then old habits reasserted themselves
and he shook his head. No, its more important that he knows
what you did, what all three of you did. We had our chance. Its
time for him to build a future with his family. I cant teach him
who he is. Not anymore. Its your turn now.