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Jim the old guy
Post subject: Overseer - chapters 18 (partial) and 19 (partial)
Post Posted: Nov 29, 2006 7:31 pm
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Joined: May 31, 2005 10:36 am
Posts: 2927

Tuesday, Nov. 17, p.m. 2037 A.D.
Law and Order Headquarters

Upon arriving at L&O, I notice the guard is not sitting at his desk. Good. Chances are slim and none that I would be able to pull the same stunt twice in a row. So, I slip the passcard through the exterior card reader, but it doesn’t work. I try three or four times, but it still has no effect. Looking at the card, I realize it’s the one that was supposed to have been given to Big Jim Slade; the one I used earlier to enter L&O. They probably deleted that card from the system, just in case I decided to return. But, they don’t know Tex Murphy. Removing Knott’s high security passcard from my pocket, I swipe that through the reader and the door strike releases, allowing me access.
I warily tiptoe through the lobby, listening and looking for our friendly night watch-
man. I hear a toilet flush in the Men’s room, so I make my way to the reception room. Last time I was here, these doors were locked. But now I have Knott’s passcard and soon I was inside the large dining hall.
Then it came to me. During my previous visit, I saw a row of camera monitors at the reception counter. If the guard returns soon, he’ll see me snooping around the reception hall. I better think of something quick.
As usual, when I get into a pinch, I place my hands in my pockets. I’m not sure how this helps me think clearer, but it usually affords me the opportunity to find a workable solution. And it didn’t fail me this time. As I removed several items from my pockets, I stop when the L&O welcome brochure finds its way into my right hand. A brainstorm starts to formulate in my head. I turn and look above the doors. A stationary camera is located above the door’s frame. As I stand there, I look at the room and then look at the brochure. It’s the same camera shot.
So, I find some bourbon tape ( I never liked scotch tape) lying on a table amid other sundries. I grab the tape, two plastic knives, and head for the camera. I slice the knives through the brochure’s dining room photo at each end; place a chair under the camera; reach up and tape the knives holding the picture to the sides of the camera. That way, when the guard checks his monitors, he’ll never notice the difference.
By now, the guard is finished washing his hands and combing his hair and he’s headed back to his desk. Whew! Just in time. Speaking of time, I’ll need a few minutes to check out this place. Normally, the dining room doesn’t offer any clues to a case such as the one I’m working on. Unless Col. Mustard has murdered Miss Scarlet with a butcher knife in the dining room. But I’m not playing Clue. This is the real deal.
So, I figure I might as well make the best use of my time and give the hall a thorough once-over. They must have had a reception earlier as there are remnants of various foodstuffs and desserts lying about. It looks like the main course was a curious combination of German/Chinese food. The only problem with that food is an hour after you eat you’re hungry - for power.
Aside from the food remnants, there were several tables and chairs set up for dining. On a small table off to one side was a courtesy phone. Not much good in a pinch since they are normally used for internal dialing only.
Across from the buffet counter was a set of glass doors that led to a luxurious patio. Peering through them, I espy a number of beautiful Chinese shrubs, a couple of White Birch trees, several fan-like ferns, and rays of red sunshine filtering down from an octagonal skylight. On the far wall was a waterfall cascading the entire length of the building, starting just below the roof line. Obviously, L&O spared no expense to make their fellow bigots feel comfy. I was disgusted, although the patio was exquisite to gaze upon. Seeing how Knott was an amateur frontiersman, he must have designed the whole thing. I wish he would have added an alternate exit. The only way in or out of the patio was through the reception hall whose only exit was through the lobby. I’ll have to cross that bridge when I get to it.
As I continued surveying the room, something struck me as being rather odd. The doors to the patio had no blinds or curtains, yet there was a picturesque L&O wall hanging mounted just next to the doors. It was mostly red and didn’t really blend well with the other decorations. Hmmm. I wonder if this accouterment has a different purpose? Unable to resist the urge to snoop, I slide the downy soft drapery to the side. Aha! A security door! What a stroke of luck. I’m willing to bet that there is a gold mine of offerings on the other side of this door. However, how am I suppose to get inside?
I look for a security card reader but see none. There is an ozonator next to the door, but that doesn’t portend any help. Below the ozonator, though, is a good size hole. I can’t really see inside, but a hole like that must have a purpose. Remembering the Chinese dinner, I race to the counter and secure a set of wooden chopsticks. Ripping off the protective cellophane wrapper, I push one of the sticks into the hole. Voila! A security card reader appears. Sometimes I just amaze myself. Taking Knott’s high security card from my pocket, I swipe it through the reader and the doors part like a good book hiding a small revolver. I step inside.
The secret room turns out to be some sort of lab. This must be John Klaus’ little shop of horrors, minus the man-eating plant. A chill runs down my spine as I imagine the dreadful experiments that were conducted in the name of world peace. Sure, and I am Pope John Paul the Third. While no expense was spared on the patio, no life was spared for the L&O Party’s agenda of world supremacy. My hatred for Klaus and his cronies runs deeper and deeper as time goes by. I sure hope Wanda can make heads and tails of the disk I gave her.
Getting back to my snooping, I see an examination chair in the middle of the lab. On the floor next to it is a bloody rag. My mind conjures up several human guinea pigs strapped to the chair with Klaus leaning over them brandishing surgical instruments and sporting a hideous grin. He was probably testing the implants for effectiveness. On a small stand next to the chair was a syringe a la the one I used at NEXUS. It was lying atop a red folder. I opened it and read a list of several names with a code next to each. The code consisted of one letter and three numbers. My intuition tells me that these codes are various implants. Mine own personal implant was P333. It wasn’t on the list, though.
On the other side of the chair was a counter. On top was a tray of surgical instruments. They looked as though they had been used recently. Down near the opposite end of the counter was a digital voice recorder. It reminded me of the one I saw in Linsky’s attic. My hand quivered as I reached for the ‘play’ button. Pushing it, I heard a man screaming for mercy. My eyes closed as I envisioned Klaus carving on someone without the use of any anesthetics. The screaming continued for several seconds. Finally, swallowing dryly, I turned the recorder off. A sigh of relief escaped my throat.
Surrounding the examination chair were two monitors. They’re used for observing a patient’s vitals, such as blood pressure, heart rate, etc. Atop one of these was a half empty cup of soda and a half eaten burger. How can someone eat while performing such diabo-
lical experiments? Then again, how can someone eat while working in the morgue? I guess it takes a special, or should I say removed, person to work in conditions like these and still maintain a semi-normal lifestyle.
Anyway, under the cup of soda was a sheet of paper. Carefully wiping off the conden-
sation from the cup, I notice it’s a directive from John Klaus. It read thusly:
Date: 10/14/37
Attn: Level 3 and Level 4 Personnel
From: John Klaus
RE: STG Project
All available resources are being utilized to locate the source of the STG project. While not all data is yet available, there is every indication that the end product would be immensely valuable to furthering Law and Order’s agenda. Logical and practical sug-
gestions have been made on how to introduce the implants into the general population. Doing so would provide us access to:
1. Individual locating and tracking (via satellite)
2. Instant positive identification
3. Physiological influence and/or control (via nanotechnology)
This technology is still highly experimental, but the source of the STG project is obvious-
ly years ahead of anyone else. I recommend that we invest as much as possible - both financially and with human resources - to the end of incorporating the STG technology.
Well, that about says it all. This is the verification I needed to prove that the L&O Party and John Klaus are out to rule the world. If info like this is on the disk I gave to Wanda Peck, she should have no trouble taking L&O to the cleaners. That would be a day I would like to see. In the meantime, I recall Greg Call’s final words that Gideon and his Overlord project must be stopped. While that is true, John Klaus and his paramours need to be stopped - NOW! Time is running short. If my calculations and information are correct, Overlord is on the verge of being inaugurated and instituted. I personally experienced the deplorable affects of an implant and I certainly do not want anyone else to go through the pain and suffering I went through. True, those who are favorable or who will be controlled may not experience the same agonizing affects as Linsky and I, but there will be many who will not support Klaus’ efforts to rule the world. They, no doubt, will be dealt with harshly.
With those thoughts in mind, I speed up my search of the lab. I notice a small drawer on the counter. Opening it, I’m surprised to see a cat picture. That rings true to form. Many lunatics and madmen care little for human flesh, but the warmth of a purring cat gives them consolation and security. Another paradox. Upon closer inspection, though, it wasn’t a cat. It was a passcard that had been cut up into several pieces and then formed into the shape of a cat. It was placed on a plaque with the letters LESCAT stamped on it. I surmised this was another scrambled password. Rearranging the letters, I came up with Castle, another chess term. Now for the passcard. Deftly using the bourbon tape and in-
corporating my PI ability to solve puzzles, I had the pieces placed in their proper order within seconds. It was passcard C and probably belonged to Rona Morgan or Sam Jones. Slade more than likely murdered them and stole their passcards. The other one was the card Sonny gave me before he died. So far, all the other passcards are already in my possession and their respective owners can be accounted for, assuming, of course, that Slade got to Jones and did him in. The only card I don’t have is the one owned by John Klaus. Now that will be one card I look forward to securing for myself. On the other hand, I recall the old saying: be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.
An increased determination in my search netted me another reward. A small desk in the corner of the lab contained three items of interest. One: a note to the night security guard concerning Robert Knott. Klaus anticipated after hour phone calls to ext. 107, Knott’s office extension. If he were to receive any calls, these should be intercepted and monitored closely. I suppose that would require the guard to actually go to Knott’s office. If so, that could be my ticket out of here. Two: an inter-office memo that averred firmly that there was no connection between L&O and the Crusade for Genetic Purity. Oh, that’s comforting. The crusade is relatively new but their goals are almost identical to those of L&O. Why should Klaus care if the two were related? Maybe he just wants to rule the world by himself. Naughty, naughty! While growing up we all learned the value of sharing our playthings with others. Apparently Klaus skipped childhood. Third: the most disturbing item I found was a photograph of Sylvia and J. Saint Gideon. It looks as though the two of them were playmates at one time. This really galls me. She’s been coming on to me for the last few days, pretending not to know people like Schimming or Gideon. Since these pictures are freely floating around San Francisco, I can only assume that she knows several other key figures as well. Maybe even Klaus. Now that would be the straw to break the camel’s back! She’s got a lot of explaining to do.
My ransacking of the lab completed, I decide to exit this den of iniquity. I’ve got goose bumps from head to toe just thinking what might have happened had I got caught in there. But, that is not my immediate problem. I need to get out of L&O without being spotted. By now the security guard is sitting at his desk drinking fresh coffee and I’m all out of Mickey Finns. However, I do have Knott’s extension number. So, I trek over to the courtesy phone and dial 107. I hear the familiar ringing and count to three. The guard should be on his way to Knott’s office.
With the speed and agility of a cheetah, I race to the doors that lead back to the lobby. I crack one open just enough to see the reception desk vacated. I slip through and make my way to the front entry. I swipe the passcard as I hear the phone slam down in Knott’s office. Ha! Fooled you again, old buddy.
I push the door and nothing happens. Frantically, I swipe the card again, still nothing happens! I begin to panic as I hear Knott’s office door open and close. I have scant seconds to make a major decision, one that could cost me my life. Then it dawns on me. I used the wrong passcard - again! I hear the guard check the handle on the office across from Knott’s. I’m searching my pockets for Knott’s high security card. Got it! I swipe it as the guard comes around the corner. He sees me, pulls his gun and fires off two shots. One hits the glass of the door, shattering it into a million little shards. The other bullet grazes the right sleeve of my coat. I race down the street to the safety of my speeder, the night watchman in hot pursuit. I round the corner of the building, jump into my speeder and head for the wild red yonder. I make the turn around the rear of the building, noticing a very frustrated security guard waving his fist at me. Whew! Another close call. For a second, I thought I saw my life flash before my eyes. This is getting to be habit forming; a habit I don’t care to have.
Mere minutes later, I’m landing my speeder in the leasee’s parking lot. Before exiting, I make a thorough search of the area, sort of an army recon mission. I know Slade and Klaus and God knows who else are out there aching to give me a new home - six feet underground. It appears to be secure enough for me to enter my apartment.
Once inside, I lock the door and put a door CLUB up against the handle. I’m not paranoid, but I’m also not in a hurry to die. ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ as my mother always used to say. I strip off sweat soaked clothes on my way to the bedroom. By the time I arrive, I’m wearing my last clean pair of Fruit of the Vine briefs, the ones with the extra elastic around the waist to hold in that skosh more weight that comes with too many burritos and not enough salad. I flop onto the cot and close my eyes. Needless to say, sleep was as elusive as the proverbial unicorn. Visions of homicidal hitmen and deranged surgeons danced in my head. By the time I got around to counting sheep, it was early morning. I finally dozed off about 6 a.m., but was soon awaken by the sounds of commuters racing to their menial jobs. Great! Another sleepless night. If I ever solve this case and still remain alive, I’m going off to a nice quiet cabin in the woods and get some real sleep. I just hope it won’t blow up like the last cabin I visited.

Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2037 A.D.
Gideon’s Mansion

In an effort to finalize the project’s programming and initiation, J. Saint Gideon, visionary of world peace, is preparing to transport to his secret base of operations. Obsessed with pressing forward despite all of the snags and obstacles, he is on the verge of commencing the implant process. The Overlord satellite has been launched and is now in orbit high above the earth and well out of range of the military. It had been equipped with cutting edge technology that makes the orbiting device virtually undetectable by normal radar or sonar systems. It’s even impervious to infrared detection since Overlord’s path coincides with one of the largest orbiting communication satellites ever constructed. Gideon silently thanked Greg Call for that little piece of inventiveness.
“All I need is one or two more days and I’ll be controlling the future of mankind.” He said these words to his imaginary associates, the ones no longer with him as a result of John Klaus’ covetousness. He knew Klaus was a maverick, a wild card, an unpredictable addition to the team. But Klaus’ brilliance more than made up for any potential rebel activity. Besides, in another day or so, people like Klaus will be held in check via the Overlord computer and implants. Yes, he mused, the risk was well worth the effort.
He laughed aloud as he packed his travel bags. Although the secret base contained everyday necessities of life, there were a few items he wanted to bundle up for Overlord’s inauguration. The last of his Fuente Fuente Opus X cigars; a bottle of Hudson Bay 25 year old scotch (Canada’s finest); and his $25,000 white silk Armani suit purchased from Rambault’s Clothiers in Paris, France, were the final items to be packed. The future in his hands deserved only the best send-off one could dream of. In fact, his life-long dream of world peace would soon come to fruition. No longer would he be cast aside as useless or unwanted, as a burden to society, as a thorn in the side of corporate directors, as a stone in the shoes of greedy commercialists like Frank Schimming.
Gideon found himself breathing heavily, a bead of sweat forming on his brow. His eyes were fixedly placed at an imaginary spot across the room. His hands were fiercely gripping the arms of his wheelchair. He closed his eyes, calmed his emotions, and wiped the salty water now dripping down his sideburns. Excitement and expectation had caused him to momentarily lose control, a psychological result of a maniacal and delusionary mind. The very thought that he had gone mad crossed his mind more than once in the last few years. However, the old saying states that if a person thinks he’s going insane, he probably isn’t. It’s the ones who believe they are sane when all evidence points to the contrary; these are the ones who ought to be isolated from the rest of humanity.
In spite of Gideon’s self analytical technique, he was mad; he was insane; he was psychotic. His pursuit of world peace was merely a revenge ploy he used to satisfy his deep desire to make the world pay for their lack of vision. Yes, he was the next true savior of the lowly and the wealthy; the crippled and the healthy; the mutants and the norms. A self nominated modern day Jesus Christ with the ability to make it happen. While Jesus had the power to bring about world peace in his day, he failed to act with man’s welfare and future in mind. Gideon, on the other hand, created his own method of attaining world peace, implemented it by using the latest technological advances in several key fields, drawing upon some of the greatest minds in all their respective callings, and then amassing all that knowledge and ability into one central computer, awaiting his slightest command to achieve that which had eluded his predecessors. Yes, Jesus had the power and didn’t act; Gideon has the power and will act. Soon, soon, soon all will be completed. Just another day or two.
Meanwhile, there was one last chore to be handled before he left the mansion. From the wine cellar he retrieved a light yet hearty bottle of claret. Uncorking the French made masterpiece, he poured a goblet full and swung his wheelchair around to face the flickering flames of a warm fire in the hearth. The colorful flames danced a jig in his eyes, almost as if they were about to join in on the celebration. But this was not a celebration; it was a toast and a prediction made to old friends dead and gone.
Raising the glass heavenward, Gideon spoke to unseen heroes:
“To good friends forever lost in the throes of time;
May your spiritual journey be sweet and sublime;
And when you stare down at this lowly human being;
Revenge upon your killers is what you’ll soon be seeing.”
He downed the wine and with renewed vigor and the warmth of the alcohol filling his stomach, he threw the goblet into the fire, sending sparks and ashes scattering in all directions as the crystalline container broke into dozens of pieces. Then he left for his secret base to begin his new life as the 21st century’s one and only true Messiah.

Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2037 A.D.
Late evening at L&O Headquarters

Big Jim Slade lands his speeder in the well-lit parking lot behind L&O Party’s Head-
quarters. It’s going on ten p.m. and the din of darkness is well into its nighttime ritual. Horns blare as party goers vie for the best parking spaces; sounds of street bands fill the avenues of New San Francisco with the calls of wild delights; pleasure seekers laugh and play with unrestrained morals as they zip in and out of establishments geared for those who just don’t care what tomorrow brings. What’s the old saying? ‘Eat and drink today for tomorrow we will die.’ Slade smirked as he recalled those prophetic words of wisdom. He was never one to overindulge in anything. Well, anything except his trade, that is. That was his one pure delight; his reason for living. At least until six years ago in Mexico and since he took this case from John Klaus. Oh, the hits provided great amusement and inner satisfaction. But, at what cost? His career is now in jeopardy because of the likes of people such as Tex Murphy, John Klaus and Sonny Fletcher. No, this would be his last stand. One final curtain call before he retires.
Slade watches as the elderly Klaus walks out the employee entrance of the building and waddles over to Slade’s speeder. He chuckles within as he eyes the overweight sloth making his way across the lot. His puffy jowls, bags under his eyes, punchbowl paunch, dressed like something out of a John Wayne movie, Slade stews in disgust that this would-be-wanna-be-world-leader had the nerve to summon him to this place at such an hour. Klaus promised good news and it better be or else.
Klaus smiles as he approaches. “Good to see you, Mr. Slade.”
“Likewise, I’m sure,” was about all he could force through gritted teeth. Slade even forced a smile to appear just to gratify the old windbag.
“Why don’t we go for a drink? I know a place where they ask no questions and refuse no orders, as long as the money keeps flowing. And I’ve got the money to flow.”
“Sure, why not? As long as you’re buying.”
“Oh yes, Mr. Slade. And I’ve got news for you that will simply turn this case around. I guarantee it.” Klaus climbed into Slade’s speeder and they headed east across town.

Haska’s Hideaway was buried deep in the woods, with nary a trace of its location visible to the unsuspecting traveler. Located several miles east of San Francisco, only those who were given personal invitations were welcomed. Passersby, few and far between as they were, were not welcomed or allowed entry. It was just the place criminals like Slade could feel right at home.
Slade ordered a garden salad with a topping of wild greens and a large glass of spring water. Klaus, not holding back on inviting an early death, sipped Peppermint Schnapps over ice with a twist of lime dripping its flavored juices from the tumbler’s rim. He was on his third drink when Slade prodded him to divulge the good news that lured him to this sanctuary of pleasure.
“So, what’s the good news?” Slade asked as he pushed his plate away from the edge of the table. He nonchalantly wiped the evidence of his dinner from his lips and teeth with the hand stitched white dinner towel, pretending not to be too interested in what Klaus had to say.
“Ah! Eager, once again. Well, I can’t say as I blame you. For a fact I’ve had difficulty refraining from mentioning the news all evening. But, I share your anticipation.
“I’ve initiated a plan to recoup all the missing passcards. Tomorrow, around noon at the San Tomas Mission.” Slade was unimpressed. He felt this was just another way for the old bastard to gloat over Slade’s misfortune. Klaus took note of this and smiled.
“Not exactly what you were expecting, eh? Ha! Ha! Well, here’s the frosting on the cake. The person carrying those cards is none other than Tex Murphy.” Slade could barely contain himself.
“Where and what time did you say?”
“Around noon at the old San Tomas Mission, if my timing is accurate. It’ll depend on when Murphy gets the message.”
“How do you plan on luring him to this, this Mission?”
“Skeptical, eh? Well, I don’t blame you. He’s been sand in our eyes for a week now and I for one will be glad to see him get what’s coming to him. Here’s how I’m going to pull it off.....”

An hour later, Slade drops Klaus off at L&O. He can hardly wait for tomorrow, the excitement building within him like molten lava in the belly of an active volcano. Murphy! At last! ‘I told you we would meet again, and this time, I won’t let you get away.’
As Klaus enters his own speeder, Slade heads for the motel he now calls home. Upon arriving, he sets the vehicle down in front of door number ten. The horseshoe shaped complex is a flash from the past, a throwback to times when tourists and travelers would stop to spend the night and take a refreshing dip in the outdoor pool. Now, the pool is dried up and so has the tourist industry. Yes, there are business people who frequent New San Francisco, but they stay in the more affluent hotels in the downtown vicinity or out at the spaceport. Millie’s Motel gets the leftovers, those who wish to go unnoticed, like Papa Johns place up on the Big Sur.
As he turns the key to his room, he finds himself whistling to Queen’s hit song, “Another One Bites The Dust.” Locking the door behind him, he makes a bee line for the shower, stopping long enough to gaze upon his masculine physique. A grin appears on his firm face, where only recently there was a frown. The last few days have been trying for the Aussie. Perfection in his line of work was required for continued employment. Yet, he was beginning to doubt his own veracity, his own exactness, his own authenticity. And doubts can lead to failure, capture, even death. He could accept death for that was the eventual outcome for a man in his profession. But failure? No! Capture? Never! He was too good to allow those to happen. But now there was a new optimism as the only human, other than Sonny Fletcher, to elude and thwart Slade’s efforts was now being set up for the ultimate undoing. Soon Murphy would meet his own personal Waterloo.
His mind comforted with thoughts of the future, Slade turned on the water in the shabby and marred stall of apartment number ten. Climbing in, the cold water hit him like the iceberg that collided with the Titanic. That berg caused disaster; this cold water caused a titillating sensation of relief and regenerated his spirits. ‘The Mind, The Body, The Man’ was back in full form. Tomorrow was a brand new day, one that would go down in the annals of criminal activity for years to come. For Slade, it would mark the end of a dilemma and the dawn of the rest of his life. Murphy would pay for his insolence and disrespect. Klaus, too, would experience the wrath of a man who could not accept anything less than superiority over his contemporaries or, in Klaus’ case, employer. ‘I’ve had enough of the both of you to fill a lifetime.’
As Slade was drying his muscular and finely toned body, his mind was finalizing the details of his course of action. After killing Klaus, Murphy and that lush, Sylvia Linsky, he would arrange a meeting with the creator of the STG project - J. Saint Gideon himself. From his conversations with the liquor-filled Klaus, Slade had found out why the pass-cards were so valuable. And he knew that Gideon would pay handsomely to reclaim those cards. The Overlord system cannot work without them, or they could be used to destroy Overlord. Slade didn’t care which was correct, his only concern was making enough on the trade to afford him a life of luxury in a foreign country; a country that did not ask questions concerning one’s background; a country that would welcome anyone who flashed the Goddess of Green before their greedy eyes.
Slade slipped beneath a cool sheet and rested his Adonis like head on an equally cool pillow. Performing several mind relaxing exercises, he soon drifted off into dreamland, a place that lately had given him cause for anxiety. But, not tonight. He would dream of killing the last of those who barred his entry into a life of bliss. Yes, tomorrow was the first real day of the rest of his life.

John Klaus landed his speeder in his reserved space on the rooftop parking lot of the very plush Excelsior Towers Hotel. Upon entering the elevator, he merely had to go down one floor, to the penthouse. The automated controls asked for his personal PIN, required to enter highly secured areas such as the penthouse. A computerized voice verified his PIN and dropped the lift one level. With a near silent ding, the doors opened and Klaus stepped into the posh apartment.
He thought about tonight’s meeting with Slade. Although the hitman had proven helpful, he was disappointed in Slade’s inability to carry out simple instructions. ‘Kill the person, get the passcard, and give it to me. What could be simpler?’ Instead, Klaus himself had to devise a plan to reclaim all seven of the missing passcards. Yes, Klaus knew of the passcard Murphy stole from L&O earlier this evening. The guard told him of Murphy’s narrow escape. This angered Klaus greatly and he was beginning to view his subordinates as the proverbial albatross and he the ancient mariner. And Murphy, what a bumbling fool! Yet, he couldn’t help but think that Murphy would have made a more worthy assistant than Slade. After all, he did find seven of the eight existing passcards. Slade had two in his possession; one he gave to his employer and one was stolen by an old run-of-the-mill PI called Sonny Fletcher. Yes, after Slade eliminates Murphy and Miss Linsky, Klaus will empty his own revolver into Slade’s back. First rule of assassination: kill the assassin.
Pouring a scotch into a minute amount of soda, Klaus went over the plan in his head. He and Slade will pick up Miss Linsky early in the a.m. One of Klaus’ more efficient informers had found her hiding place, an unused warehouse out in the industrial sector. He was quite certain it was also used by her father as a secret base of operations. Seems like everyone has a like base these days. Anyway, his thugs, the same who had effectively injected Murphy with the signal degrading P333 implant, would kidnap Miss Linsky around 8 a.m. They would take her to the San Tomas Mission, tie her to the chair already waiting for her, and proceed to ‘soften’ her up a bit. By the time Slade and he arrive, she should be ready to discuss terms of release. All she’ll have to do is tell them everything she knows. Of course, they will offer Murphy the same deal, but much to their chagrin, they will both be killed anyway. ‘No loose ends hanging around for someone else to latch on to.’
The scotch and soda went down more smooth than Klaus had anticipated. His plan for world ruler ship was well under way. Within 48 hours, he would have the power to control and manipulate mankind in ways they never will suspect. Gideon’s foolish plan to bring peace to the globe was beyond belief. Peace? What on earth for? Humans don’t need peace; they wouldn’t know what to do with it. Humans are biologically designed to bend towards the will of the few you have the wherewithal to lead, excel and overtake normal forms of government. Hitler had a huge following and nearly caused the collapse of the world as it was then known. Just one or two lucky breaks and his Third Reich would still be dictating its will to the masses. And Klaus knew his plan, with one or two lucky breaks coupled with superior planning, would be successful. It had to be. He was betting everything on it, even his life. His plan to eliminate Slade had to be foolproof if he wished to stay alive. Slade made mistakes, but he was no dummy. Tomorrow, at the San Tomas Mission, he would have to make Slade look like an essential part of his plan. That would placate Slade long enough to give him the break he needs.
After it is all said and done, Klaus will place his revolver into Murphy’s dead hand. Then he would make an anonymous tip to the police and report a shooting at the Mission. They would find three bodies; Tex Murphy, Sylvia Linsky and an international hitman by the name of Big Jim Slade. Murphy would be an overnight hero and receive the city’s highest award for valor - posthumously. Klaus laughed aloud. What a sight that will be, what a story for the newspapers and tabloids. A lover’s triangle gone bad. Age old and yet, most effective. While they are busy cleaning up the mess, Klaus thought of his meeting with Gideon. Holding a gun to Gideon’s head, he was sure that the security industry’s chief aficionado would confess all he knows regarding the Overlord system and its outworking. After killing Gideon, Klaus would then put into affect the world’s most ingenious blueprint for world ruler ship. He would become the god of this system, as foretold at 1 Cor. 4:4 in the New Testament. He would work behind a veil of secrecy until such time the world no longer posed a threat. As absolute emperor, he will control the future of mankind with a simple push of a button. Oh! What a glorious day that will be! It will go down in history as the greatest moment of all time. All other holidays will be erased in favor of John Klaus Day. November 18th, 2037 A.D. will live in infamy for all time to come. He would be revered as supreme magistrate, the new creator of a truly New World Order. By the way, he would also be the wealthiest and most desirable man on the planet. Klaus laughed again as he experienced a surge of exuberance at the thought of being irresistible to the most beautiful women alive. After all, he could simply push a button and they would be at his beck and call. Oh, what a feeling he was enjoying! Soon, yes, very soon all he had ever hoped for will become a reality. ‘Before I kill Gideon, I must thank him for his ingenuity.’ And Klaus laughed aloud for several minutes, madness engulfing the former outstanding surgeon. He too was psychotic. What else is new.

Chapter nineteen: 2037 A.D.
Wednesday morning, Nov. 18

After tossing and turning all night, I feel like hell. It’s nine a.m. and I just came back from the coffee shop in the first floor lobby. Their cup of Joe isn’t too bad, although I’ve had better. To cut the bitterness, I also bought a plain ol’ dunking donut. I just love the way they soak up the coffee and leave a few crumbs in the bottom of the cup. Upon finishing the donut, you get one final taste of the mega-calorie, high carbohydrate circle of pleasure by gulping down the last of the java. Hmmm.
The caffeine begins to kick in as I plan the day’s agenda. First, I’ll go over to the warehouse and give Sylvia a piece of my mind. She deserves it, what with her apparent sultry extracurricular activity she’s been engaging in. The photos of her with Schimming and Gideon really struck a sour chord with me. I thought she was taking a liking to me, but she seems to have taken a liking to everybody besides me.
After that, I’ll need to make a visit to....The vid-phone begins its soft purr in the middle of my thought. Upon answering it, I see the lovely, attractive face of Wanda Peck staring through blank, dark-circled eyes. She forces a smile, as though she’s been through the rickets once too often. I can’t help but wonder if she has learned of Robert Knott’s death, er, murder.
“Good morning, Mr. Murphy.”
“Top o’ the mornin to you, Miss Peck. What can I do for you?”
“Well, I want to thank you for bringing me the disk from Robert Knott’s office. It contained enough verifiable information to bring down the Law and Order Party. If you can keep a secret for the next day or so,” I nod in agreement, “we are planning a major raid on their headquarters. By the end of the week, they’ll be completely debunked.”
“I’m very happy to hear that. I never much cared for racially biased organizations, especially one that is so open about it.”
“That’s what CAPRICORN is all about. And thanks to you, our job has been made that much easier. If their is anything I can do for you, within reason of course,” she passes a modest smile in my direction, knowing I can’t help but stare at her beauty, “please let me know.”
“Well, there is one question you can answer for me.” She raises her eyebrows in response. “Are you okay?” I ask, my voice denoting serious concern. She looks like hell, only worse.
“I’m all right. Just a little tired. Thanks for asking. Good-bye, Mr. Murphy.” And she quickly disconnects. I let out a heavy sigh. My instincts tell me she and Knott was an item and she knows he’s dead, at the hands of L&O. She probably spent the last 48 hours compiling evidence from Knott’s disk. Well, I’m sure she’ll pull through. I get the feeling she’s a real trooper.
Now, getting back to my day’s agenda. After I chew Sylvia’s behind, not literally, of course, then I’ll go to......Once again my train of thought is interrupted by the vid-phone’s ting-a-ling. This time, it’s Jorge Valdez. Hmmm. Why would he call me?
“Murphy. I thought you might want to know that the Poisoned Pawn you asked me about has left an e-mail for you here at my shop.”
“An e-mail? For me? Are you sure?” Of course he’s sure, that was a dumb question.
“Well, why don’t you come by and see for yourself. Ciao for now.” The screen goes blank.
I’m mortified. Who is the Poisoned Pawn and why send a message to me? There aren’t too many people left to make that claim. Let’s see, there’s Sylvia, John Klaus, Slade and Gideon. Could one of those four be the ‘sacrificial lamb?’ It’s difficult for me to picture any of them as being sacrificial. Well, one thing’s for sure, I’ll not find an answer to that question if I stick around here.
I land my speeder directly in front of the Rank and File Chess Shop. As before, several mutants are milling around outside just waiting for a Norm to enter the store. As I exit the speeder, I’m inundated with several racial epithets and slanderous slurs. I don’t blame them. Many Norms have openly voiced their disdain for Mutants and have organized a number of hate groups touting their own racial superiority and calling for an end to those with genetic defects. These Mutants are unaware of my non-biased stand and even if I tried to share that with them, it would just fan the flames of bigotry.
“Geez, Jorge, you’re not still playing the same game are you?” I ask upon entering.
“Glad to see you, Murphy. The e-mail is on that computer over there.” He points towards the back wall. “There was no return address.”
“That’s okay. Thanks.” Sitting down at the old Huey DeSoto 2.8 gigahertz computer, I read the message that’s already displayed. It says:

Mr. Murphy:
If you want to know the truth about Linsky’s suicide and its connection to the STG
project, meet me at the abandoned San Tomas Mission at noon. If you’re late or you
bring anyone with you, you won’t find me.
The Poisoned Pawn

Well that is certainly strange. I’m invited to a Linsky coming out party, it seems. This raises a few questions. Just exactly who is the Poisoned Pawn? If it’s not one of the afore-
mentioned people, could it be Linsky himself? My instincts shout ‘no!’ but Greg Call’s words are stuck in my craw. Could Linsky and Klaus, once close friends, now be working in cahoots? And what about Frank Schimming? Where does he fit into the equation? Just when I thought I was finding all the answers, I acquire a new set of questions.
Another set of questions enter my mind as I head for the old Mission. Who’s waiting there for me? Could it be a trap? Has Slade finally figured a way to get rid of me? Is Klaus looking for a new guinea pig to test a new implant upon? Or is the real Poisoned Pawn waiting with further instructions, a la Larry Hammond?
The red noon sun is fast approaching it’s zenith as I near the Mission. As the light reflects off the clock tower, it reminds me of a warning beacon, conveying a message of trouble for all who draw near. That’s why I land my speeder around the back of the building and enter through a vine covered rear door. It was hard to force open, but I know that no one has preceded me through that portal.
A quick glance around the first floor informs me the place is empty. If the Poisoned Pawn is here, he’s more than likely up in the clock tower. If so, and if he’s looking for trouble, I’m going to need some help. As a rule, I don’t carry weapons; never have, never will. So, I search the ground level for anything that can provide me with an edge.
There are mostly empty crates, barrels and shelves here and none of them offers me hope. Their filled with dust and cobwebs and bespeak abandonment and quittance. As I move from side to side, my eye catches a glimpse of something on the floor. Tracks! Like, in footprints, headed for the elevator. Two people, maybe more. Also, it looks as though they have dragged something or someone with them. Two straight tracks, each about two inches wide and about six inches apart, run the entire length between the other footprints. Maybe it’s another test subject.
I find an old broom in one corner leaning against the wall. While I could use that to beat the snot out of someone, it would be difficult to conceal. Besides, if I exit the elevator holding a broom in a strategic pose, I may only engender a few laughs.
Finally, after moving a few boxes, I see an old rust covered toolbox sitting there like manna from heaven. I flip it open and take out several tools. A screwdriver, a ball peen hammer, a few ratchets, and other trade accouterments are haphazardly strewn in the upper tray and the bottom of the box. Picking out the more heavy duty items, I slip them into my coat pockets, along with a small penknife, and head for the elevator.
If this place has been abandoned for years now, the elevator’s motor should not be humming. But, humming it is. All signs point to the clock tower as my next stop. So, without further hesitation, I push the up arrow and wait for the elevator to return. Seconds seem like hours. I look at my watch for the tenth time and it reads 12:05 p.m. I hope they don’t mind if I’m a few minutes late. Well, I won’t have to wait long for that answer; the doors just opened.
Walking into the lift, I notice my knees are slightly wobbly. Also, as I reach a pointed finger to press the close-door button, I notice it’s trembling. My palms are wet, too. Why not? I may be walking into a trap, one that could result in my uneventful demise. As the car heads towards the tower, I decide to breathe deeply through my nose and slowly out through my mouth. This may relax me a bit.
Eventually I reach the top and the doors part to reveal a partially lit room. Off to the left is the old clock, Roman numerals and all. It’s still in pretty good shape and since the city installed that digital clock/timing device, the old clock has kept near perfect time. Besides the clock, there isn’t much else to.....Oh my Hell!
To my right is a woman tied to a chair. She’s slumped over as though she’s fallen asleep. I rush to her side and gently raise her head. The eyes of a beaten and battered Sylvia Linsky stare helplessly back at me. Her mouth is covered with duct tape, of all things. Blood is streaming from her nose and a cut lip. I hear a grinding noise and soon realize that it’s my teeth making the sickening sound. My knees no longer shake, my hands are steady and the cold sweat has ceased. But my anger is near explosion level. Who would perpetrate such a horrible act? And why? Sylvia’s a threat to no one. If I find out who did.....
“Shame to cover such a beautiful mouth, don’t you think so, Mr. Murphy?” I don’t recognize the voice, but, as I turn, fists clenched, I see the repelling stature of John Klaus walking in my general direction. He’s wearing some kind of stupid cowboy outfit and he’s holding a huge revolver that resembles a small canon. There’s craziness in his eyes and a cutting edge in his voice. But I’m not backing down. Not today. Not after I see what he’s done to a poor and defenseless Sylvia. He will pay for this, I swear it.
In the dimly lit tower, he looks like a huge rat that just snuck out of his hole to find a piece of moldy cheese. Continuing with a metaphor, he says, “It was necessary, of course. You see, I couldn’t have Dulcinea warning off her knight errant from charging the windmill.” What the hell is he talking about?
“I was wondering when you’d crawl out of that rat’s nest.” A.k.a. Law and Order.
“Au contraire, Senior Quixote. It is you who are the rat.” Takes one to know one. Then he cocks the gun and levels it at my face. I refuse to flinch, not giving him the satisfaction of seeing me worry. He pauses as I stare him down. He closes the gap between us. Good. Maybe I can get him close enough to knock the gun from his hand and then give him a beating he’ll never forget.
Looking at Sylvia, he continues, “And you, my dear, the perfect piece of cheese.” Despite my aversion to this mole, I need to buy some more time.
“Who’s the Poisoned Pawn? Is it you? Is it Sylvia here?” I rifle off these questions in rapid succession, hoping to disorientate Klaus.
“Sylvia? The Poisoned Pawn? It was Miss Linsky’s father who wrote the anonymous letter to CAPRICORN. We found copies of it while we were going through his papers after his unfortunate death.” Yes! Now it all fits! Carl Linsky sacrificed himself in order to bust open L&O Party’s efforts to appropriate the project for their own use.
“So why did you have to trick me into coming here?”
“I brought you here to offer you a trade. You tell me what you know and I let the little missy free. So, let’s begin with the STG passcards. Where are they?” Up yours, Klaus.
“To the best of my recollection, they’re somewhere on the Spanish high plains with my trusted servant Sancho.”
His eyes flare wildly, like those of a homicidal maniac. He changes the aim of the gun. It’s now pointed at Sylvia’s face. That wasn’t what I wanted.
“I’ve got ‘em with me!” I shout.
“Excellent! Now, in thirty words or less, tell me everything you know about the STG project.” I’ll tell him some things, but not all. Once I do that, I’ll be out of options.
“Not too much. I mean, I’ve heard implants, mind control, satellite tracking. And then there was that little experiment you pulled on me.”
“Unfortunately, it didn’t work out quite as we had planned. You were supposed to be a good little detective and die, like Mr. Linsky.”
“I mean, Linsky was your friend. I’d hate to see what you do to your enemies.”
“Well, you’re about to find out.” Oh, that was brilliant, Murphy. You walked right into his trap. “Now, for the sake of Miss Linsky here, tell me what else you have learned.” He’s using her like a cattle prod on overload. And I don’t dare take a chance with her life on the line.
“Well, there’s someone running around with the title Overseer.” I purposely refrain from mentioning Overlord. Besides, to run Overlord, there has to be an Overseer. “He seems to be running things. You know, I think that’s you.” That should inflate the old geezer’s ego a bit.
He laughs maniacally and answers, “Excellent! Excellent! Now, as a token of my appreciation...” and he reaches over and rips the tape from Sylvia’s mouth. She screams in pain and I recoil in horror. This guy is absolutely merciless. Then he commands, “One last kiss.” He’s gotta be kidding.
Shaken, bruised and battered, Sylvia bursts forth with her own harangue, “Why did you tell him? He’s never going to let me go!” Thanks for thinking about me. I was just trying to save your life.

_________________

"If you look to me for illumination, you better have a flashlight!"

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