Art Adkins
Author & Leadership Instructor
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Mindwalkers- Chapter 23

Chapter 23

The heat was stifling, suffocating, and Cody felt as if it was going to choke the life out of him.  Streams of perspiration were running down his face and his shirt and jacket were soaked.  Juan Domingo was perspiring, but not like Cody.  The Latino was at home in the jungle.  In addition to the heat, the smell of the foliage invaded his nostrils.  A rich combination of decaying vegetation and new growth was all competing for prominence for his olfactory senses.  The odor took getting accustomed to.  Cody winced as the Jeep hit another pot hole.

Cody raised an eyebrow as he remembered thinking the airplane trip may be the hard part.  The flight into Bogata, Colombia had been uneventful.  Juan was connected with the government and they had bypassed Customs, going straight to some black colored Jeeps.  It was more of an escort, with armed guards in the front two vehicles and three armed transports at the rear of the column.  Juan and Cody were in the fourth Jeep and some other people, who Cody had not been introduced to, were in the third vehicle.

The ride through Bogata had been quick.  The trip down the jungle road was proving to be quite an adventure.  Twice they had to leave the barely distinguishable two-lane dirt tract to skirt wash outs.  The deeper into the green canopy they drove, the closer the jungle closed in around them.  And the hotter it seemed to get.  Cody also noticed the trees were blocking out the sunlight, creating a gloomy atmosphere where shadows danced and shapes were indistinct. 

The sounds of the jungle could be heard over the noise of the transport.  Birds calling to each other created a cacophony that was deafening.   Cody stared into the jungle, fascinated at the green, leafy mass just outside the door.  It was his first trip to Colombia.

Rounding a bend in the road, the vehicles slowed.   A small wooden gate with two guards standing at the ready blocked any further forward progress.  Each vehicle was examined and the occupants had to verify their ID, including Juan Domingo.  The sentries were pleasant, though thorough and very business-like.

Once inside the compound, the entire complement of personnel was deposited at the largest structure.  Once again they were subjected to identity checks before being allowed to enter and each were given a card with their name on it attached to a lanyard, to be worn around their neck.   Instructions were simple:  keep the lanyard around your neck or be removed.  In this case ‘removed’, meant shot.  The message was clear.

The entire structure was impressive and vast.  The facility lacked the finer touches and was a bit rough, primitive, yet functional.  No space was wasted and the pulse of the laboratory beat with an efficient hum.  Everything was precise, calculated and very effective.  Cody complimented Juan on the spectacular job his government had done.

“My government, amigo?  I’m afraid not.  Yes, they know about us and we help them from time to time, but this is privately funded.  Politics cannot invade these walls, but alas they do.  It is because of the very nature of government that we find ourselves in the fix we are in.”  Juan gestured toward a rear door as they were walking down a long corridor.

“The fix you are in?” questioned Cody, as he was propelled down the brightly lit hallway.

“Yes.  We cannot go public because it would cast a very nasty blemish on your government and mine.  Some things are better left in the dark, away from the prying eyes of the public.  They really don’t want to know anyway.  They just want to gossip and comment on things they don’t understand and don’t want to know.  It is an interesting dilemma.” 

Stopping in front of a set of heavy metal doors, Juan looked sternly at the younger man.  “Remember, my friend.  Governments exist because people are lazy.  The masses do not want to be involved with the finer details of maintaining a country’s infrastructure, but they do have an opinion on how it should be handled.  The bulk of society is concerned about having food to eat, entertaining themselves and pursuing sins of the flesh.  The workings of a political structure are not their life’s ambition.  However, they do feel the need to express openly their displeasure or support of policies and positions those elected may take or pursue.  This public outcry can topple governments and can lead to other minorities taking over the reins of power in a given country.”

“And that is what we so carefully guard.  National secrets’ that lead to the toppling of those in power?” 

“Exactly.  Most who study in the political arena don’t want to admit we have to hide certain things.  It has been this way since the earliest king or dictator ruled.  The class in power has always withheld information from the commoner.  They did so believing it was in their best interest.  As societies have grown and the complexities of modern government have become intricately more multifaceted, so do the lies and the maintenance of hiding certain information.  Now we get caught up in perpetuating the deceit and the fabrications grow and the risk for exposure becomes immense.  It is always the secrets that can topple and destroy.  Please remember that:  secrets.  That is what every government on Earth fears:  the revelation of their secrets, Mr. Garrett.”  Juan had reached out and grabbed Cody’s arm to emphasize his point.

“I know.  We’re the same, Juan.  Everyone has hidden information.  We try to keep ours, while trying to find out others.  It’s an endless game of futility, but one we must play.”  Cody acknowledged the gravity of Juan’s words.  Entire intelligence communities had been established to ferret out information others possessed.  Why? Because no one trusted any one. 

“Come, amigo.  I need to show you how secrets may disappear one day.” 

Juan led Cody through the double doors, down another hallway to a small meeting room.  Inside were three people laughing and talking to each other.  The room grew silent as the men entered.

“Cody, this is Jimmy.  He is the young man I told you about.” 

Cody stepped forward and shook Jimmy’s hand.

“And this is Katy and Roger.” 

Juan waited until Cody was seated.  “I have something I need to talk to each of you about.  But first, let me explain.  Cody is with the American government and works in one of their sensitive intelligence areas.  His concern is as genuine as mine.  But let me start at the beginning.”

For the next half hour, Juan relayed the story of the Island, how it came into being, how Gunter took control and the experiments being carried out under the veil of science. 

“So the original participating governments that helped to establish the Island are concerned their involvement may lead to the media and exposure?” asked Jimmy.

“Yes.  But their involvement is only one of the dilemmas facing us.  If Gunter is allowed to proceed, we believe he may develop a drug that will enhance the ability of certain individuals to allow them to pry or anticipate events in other governments, financial markets and other critical areas that could lead to war.  There is no government willing to give up such an advantage to another.”

“Their own paranoia would force them to take action.  They could not risk their secrets being exposed.  This would be especially true of an aggressive nation intent on conquest or expansion.”  Katy added to the conversation.

“You are so correct, Katy.  What about an individual in possession of this power?  They could manipulate markets, blackmail political infrastructures and create chaos.  They could sell information to competing nations and could, in some scenarios, start wars by supplying data on possible future events.”

“You would have countries accusing each other of events that have not yet occurred, but are still over the horizon in the future.”  Roger was rubbing his head.

“But we are not talking about a technology, but human beings.  It is an individual like us that you’re talking about, isn’t it?” asked Katy.

“Yes, but do not be misled.  There are willing participants who would supply information to further their own interests.  That is why the Nine were established.  To ensure safety and enact safeguards so the information would not be utilized for military purposes.  Gunter does not operate under those parameters.”  Juan had taken a seat in front of the room.

“Then the autistic savants he is working with and their families, have no idea why he’s using them?” asked Jimmy.

“None.  He does so claiming to have a cure for them.  The ones who can ‘see’ have had their abilities enhanced by a mind cocktail.  Jimmy, you have experimented, under our watchful eye, with the drug.  It works but we don’t know the long term effects.  That is why you have been subjected to so many tests after each application.”

“I knew it was experimental, Juan.  You told me.”  Jimmy arched his eyebrows at Juan.  “And the cocktail does work.  I was able to project into areas far beyond my normal capacity.  The clarity was so vivid, so real, it was startling!  I have asked Juan to increase the dosage, but, understandably, the doctors have been reluctant.”  The note of excitement could be heard in Jimmy’s voice.

“Reluctant indeed.  I will not allow them to administer an amount that could be harmful to you.  You are the only Mind Walker we have.”

“Mind Walker?” asked Roger.

“That is the name we have coined for individuals, like yourselves, that possess the ability to ‘walk past the confines of your own mind’ and see the future.  What we have been working on is to ensure the accuracy of those visions.  We must have reliable information to move forward.  And Gunter must be stopped.”  Juan emphasized the last statement emphatically.

“So you want us to voluntarily participate in this exercise to glean information on Gunter and stop his activities?  And you want us to ingest this cocktail to enhance our abilities?”  Katy stated the case very matter-of-factly.

“We do.  Each of you willingly asked to participate in these experiments to test your psychic ability.  Each of you can ‘see’ and have been doing so for years.  With your help and feedback we can learn a great deal.  Right now we must focus on stopping a mad man.  But I believe the research being conducted here will benefit those suffering from autism, strokes and other afflictions that may strike the brain. We must pioneer a cure for these thousands of people suffering from these diseases.  To do so, we need your help.”  Juan stared at each of them.

“But first we must deal with Gunter.”  Roger looked at his colleagues.

“Does Gunter have volunteers or are his Mind Walkers limited to patients?” clarified Katy.

“As far as we know they are patients.  I do not believe he has volunteers.   There is one exception.”  Juan paused.  “Gunter has the ability to ‘see.’  There are rumors he’s administering the stimulant to himself in large dosages.  The results have yet to be determined or exposed.”

“He truly is a madman.”  Jimmy whispered the words.

“I’m in,” interrupted Katy. “But I want to be evaluated before and after each session.  What is the time lapse between sessions?”

“That depends on the lab reports and the opinion of the doctors on staff.  In no case will you be allowed to participate sooner than two days between experiments.  This is unchartered territory, Katy, and I will not see one of you injured.” 

“You can count me in.”  Roger raised his hand.

“I’ve already been a Mind Walker and didn’t know it.”  Jimmy laughed and raised his hand as well.

“Good.  Then we will proceed.  I was hoping for this response.  Since each of you has had physicals, we would like to begin with a brief trial today.  Any objections?” Seeing none, Juan continued.  “Excellent.  Report to the lab at 1700 hours.”

Rising from his chair, Juan watched as the three psychics left the room.  Walking up next to Cody, he could sense something was wrong. 

“What is it?” asked Juan.

“I’ve been told to call my office immediately.  Do you have a secure line?”

“Yes.  Follow me”

Once inside Juan’s office, he instructed Cody on how to obtain an outside, secure line and then he left the FBI agent inside.  It seemed like an eternity before Cody could get through to his office.  Once connected, he was put on the phone to his assistant.

“What do you have?”  Cody waited silently while he was briefed on the deaths of the two lab technicians in Baltimore.  “Keep me informed.”  Cody hung up the phone and sat staring at the desk.

Why would Gunter kill two members of the original team who had worked on Operation Stargate?  The two clinicians had gone back to private practice when the military strategy had been disbanded.  They had assumed their old positions with the therapy center in Baltimore.  So why had they been murdered?  To send a message?  Cody did not think so.

Two of the three test participants from the original Stargate team were missing as well.  The project manager for the clandestine operation was under security along with the two scientists who had helped with the initial research.  None of them had been able to provide any useful information.

Cody was perplexed by one other thing.  Why had Lance not called immediately?  Lance knew the FBI would be notified on this and they had met to discuss the dealings of Operation Stargate.  Why would Lance keep quiet now?  A sinking feeling started to invade his mood.  Cody was not being told the whole truth.  It was more of a feeling than anything concrete.  Juan was right:  there were always secrets.

Leaving the office, he found Juan in the outer office talking on his phone.  Juan appeared to be paler than moments before and a worried look had invaded his eyes.  Did Juan know what he knew?  He waited for him to hang up.

Dropping the phone down, Juan looked at Cody.  “You’ve been told? I just found out myself.  Gunter is a madman.”

“It doesn’t make sense, Juan.  There are too many pieces not lining up.  Why kill two of the original pioneers of Stargate?  They had gone back to work at the clinic and have been monitored by intelligence to make sure they never revealed what they had been working on for the government.  Now two of the original participants of Stargate are missing.  But you knew that already didn’t you?” asked Cody.  When Juan nodded he had, Cody continued.  “Then what is really going on, Juan?  Like you said, we all have secrets and there are more hidden here than you are telling me or those three volunteers you just recruited.”

Juan rose from his chair and walked up to within a foot of Cody.

“Be careful in wanting to know the whole truth, Cody.  Revelation can change you, alter your beliefs and make you question everything and everyone.  Such is a time for you.  To proceed down this road for enlightenment could be dangerous for you.”  Juan waited, judging the man before him.

“I have no choice, Juan.  My government, my Commander in Chief, has trusted me with stopping Gunter and maintaining the security of the United States.  I’m not a blind patriot, but I am loyal to him and the beliefs of our nation.  If there is more to the story, then I need to know what it is.  Sooner or later I will find the truth, the whole truth, with or without your help.  I would prefer it be with your help.”

“Then follow me.”

Juan led Cody out of the main research facility and to a small concrete building near the rear of the compound.  The enclosed area was larger than Cody had first surmised.  About five acres had been hacked out of the jungle to create the research labs.  The structure they were about to enter was the least impressive of any of them, but had the most security.  Juan and Cody were checked three times before being allowed to enter.

Once inside, Juan proceeded to a small office and extracted a file from a locked safe.  It required a combination for the lock, a retina and fingerprint scan and a voice identification recognition match.  Whatever was in the document was considered to be of the highest importance.  Juan handed the folder to Cody.

“Read this and when I return we will talk.  It should take you about thirty minutes.”

Juan walked out the door and closed it, leaving Cody alone.

Cody opened the folder and saw the words ‘Operation Stargate’ stenciled across the lead page.  The members of the original team were identified along with the three test subjects who had volunteered for the program.  Cody’s eyes fell to the primary objective of the clandestine operation and mid-way through the paragraph he inhaled sharply.  Involuntarily he rose from his seat and rubbed his forehead, holding the piece of paper in his hand as he re-read the statement.   Recovering as best could, he moved back to his chair and quickly read the report, spending more time on some details than others.

When he was done, he leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes.  Secrets.  Juan had been right.  No wonder the American government did not want the information known.  No one would. Cody was startled out of his reflection when the door opened and Juan walked back inside.

“You finished?” asked Juan, sitting down opposite Cody.

“Yes.”  Cody’s voice was low and he spoke slowly.  “Did we accomplish the primary objective?”

“No.  We came close, but did not succeed.  Due to public inquiry and the fear of exposure, Operation Stargate was disbanded.”

“Only to be resurrected here.”

“Yes.  In the intelligence circles of the participating governments it has been given the code name Oracle.  The cast of characters have been changed somewhat, but the primary objective remains the goal.”

“How?  Why?  Juan what you propose could lead to war!  It could be the catalyst for governments to turn on each other.”  Cody had left his chair, but Juan motioned for him to sit back down. 

“We’re years away from meeting the objective, but we have to continue research in this area. Other governments, other entities will do so.  We have to be prepared.  Hopefully, we’ll never use it.”

“So the whole issue of ‘seeing’ the future is a sham?” asked Cody.  “You don’t want psychics or prophets, you want something more.”

“You’re getting hung up on semantics.  We do want to see the future.  Just like civilizations before us.  In mythology ‘seers’ were called oracles.  In the Bible they were called prophets, consulted to interpret the will of God.  Today we call them psychics or clairvoyants.  In each case they were to ‘see’ events beyond the horizon or interpret how things would unfold.  We still have that desire.” 

“But the reason for the Mind Walkers is a dark one, Juan.  To see is one thing, but what you propose is something totally different.”

“We have no desire to utilize Mind Walkers for the final objective.  We need defense and they can provide that.  We want the Island for research.  We do have a strong desire to help those who suffer from mental affliction.  But we have to be pragmatic and realize that as long as there are human beings, there is the chance for political and societal upheaval if one group desires to subject another less fortunate class to their whims and wishes.  That’s where the Mind Walkers come in.”

Cody sat silent for several moments. What had Juan said earlier?  There was something in the conversation that was bothering him?  Not fully developed to reach the final objective…came close but did not succeed.  Cody’s eyes opened wide.

“You have partially succeeded with the final objective.”  It was a statement not a question, but Cody was demanding an answer.  It was in his tone and demeanor.

“Yes, but for defensive purposes only.”

“How many?”

“Two.”

“Where are they?”

“One is near your President and the other is with the British Prime Minister.  Neither of the politicians is aware of their existence.  They are on the intelligence forces comprising their personal security.”

“Have…have they had to use their…”  Cody was at a loss for words.

“Their gift?  We’re not sure.  We think the President’s guard has had to thwart several attempts, but we cannot confirm the information.”

“Then it’s real.”  Cody slumped back in his chair.

“Yes, Cody, it’s real.  Oracle must proceed.  And you must help.”  Juan paused before adding.  “If two of the original participants or psychics are missing, it’s a sure fire bet Gunter has them.  He may be proceeding on with Oracle, faster than we had anticipated.”

“Can he force them to aid them?  I mean mentally?  Couldn’t they alter their mental powers to thwart him?”

“Possibly, but they could be given drugs to induce a hypnotic state where they could be controlled.  Remember, Gunter does not want a logical stream of mental activity.  His mission is more directed, singular in purpose.  The problem is all of this is theory.  Gunter could be developing them for something we have not even anticipated.”

“This is darker than even I had realized or wanted to believe.”

Both men sat in silence and stared at the open folder in front of Cody. 

Read Chapter Twenty-four