Art Adkins
Author & Leadership Instructor
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Mindwalkers- Chapter 25

Chapter 25

The uncertainty, the chaos had begun.  The intelligence circles were falling over each other to find out what had happened.  Two people involved with the clinic were dead and two were missing.  Who was behind it all?  Gunter threw his head back and laughed out loud.  It was his turn to control, to rule.  Victory would be his on all fronts.

The two original psychics of Operation Stargate were already on the Island.  Their ability to ‘see’ would be greatly needed in the upcoming weeks if he was to be successful.  It all depended upon his ability to strike first.  Juan and the Nine did not have his capability.  Of that he was certain. If they did, they would have already stopped him.

Gunter leaned forward and rubbed his head.  A dull pain had settled behind his frontal lobe and had refused to succumb to pain killers.  The discomfort was more intense at times, but was controllable.  He thought it was due to the increased amount of the mind cocktail.  It was a small price to pay for the gift he was given in exchange. 

Picking up his phone he called the Island.  It would be early morning, but some things could not wait.

“Dr. Zofel.  Good to hear your voice.  How are things going?”

“Gunter it’s early here.  I’ve not had my morning tea.”  Dr. Zofel rolled out of bed and rubbed his face with both hands. 

“Only those who are willing will succeed, Dr. Zofel.  How are our two new patients?”

“They are fine.  I intend to run some tests today and see how they respond.  Their abilities are off the chart.  I’m concerned about controlling their mental defiance.  I don’t want the inhibitor drugs to curtail their psychic ability.  It’s a delicate balance, Gunter.”

“I know, but there’s too much at stake.  Move fast, Dr. Zofel.  When do you want to test….to test their ability? How soon can you have them ready?”

“It will take at least a week, maybe a little longer.  Not before then.  We must be certain we can control them.  If not, they could turn their power loose on us.”

“That should be sufficient.  Let me know when you’re ready.  Please alert me if you think you can move sooner.  That would be just as acceptable.”

“Do you have a test subject in mind?  Someone we can unleash their abilities on.”

“Yes.  But I’ll let you know when you’re ready.” 

Gunter dropped the phone back onto its cradle and turned to stare out his window.  In less than two weeks he could activate the deadliest weapon mankind had ever witnessed.  And there would be no fingerprint, DNA or other tell-tale evidence to trace back to the suspect.  It was ingenious.  Mind Walkers.  The possibilities were endless.

Gunter spent the next several hours making phone calls and assessing the status of his empire.  The gold mine in Argentina was yielding vast amounts of ore and no end was in sight.  So far the government officials were still in the dark.  The diamond find in Australia was nearing the point where a deal would be consummated and they could start mining the gems. 

Expansion of his hospital empire was proceeding as expected.  The additional hospitals in America had been purchased and the restructuring had already begun.  They would become more efficient and be unknowing partners in the introduction of experimental drugs. 

His pharmaceutical empire was not moving as fast.  He needed the distribution network to move his experimental drugs.  The narcotics not sanctioned by medical authorities were subject to seizure.  The pharmacies held the key to moving vast quantities of experimental narcotics while keeping the movement of the orders off the ‘screen’ of the regulators.  Most of the new medicine Gunter was introducing into the hospitals was untested.  Conventional reasoning called for testing on animals for years before humans were subjected to the dosages.  It was cumbersome and not efficient.  He intended to circumvent the obsolete channels.

Once again he found his anger rise when he thought about Akron Pharmaceutical.  Shirley Waterbury had stuck her nose in his business and he had suffered a temporary setback.  The stock for Akron had stabilized and had risen over the last several weeks.  Investors were flocking back to the company and at the current growth the company would not be subject to a hostile take-over.

Gunter felt the pain increase in his head and he left his chair to pace the room, before finally stopping in front of a window offering a view of his vast estate.  No one meddled in his affairs and got away with it.  Not anyone.

Moving back to his desk, Gunter rested his face in his hands and concentrated on slowing down the thoughts running through his mind.  His ability to ‘see’, though not that of a Mind Walker, was considerable.  The cocktail aided him.  But to have a vision his mind must be at rest and even then he only caught glimpses of the future.  Fragmented images pieced together to form a whole, sometimes incomplete picture.  Sometimes they were of the near future and often of the immediate past.  It took patience.

After forty-five minutes Gunter rose from his desk and moved back to the window to stare outside, a worried look on his face.  He had not seen what he had expected.  He had seen the chance for success and the possibility of failure.  But it wasn’t the Nine who portended his demise, but someone else.  Someone who had been close, near.  Stanley Watchman had been the only traitor they had found.  Had there been someone else?  Who could it have been?

Gunter felt the pain in his temples increase and he fought to keep it under control.  He would have to be tested again to make sure he was not having an adverse reaction to the stimulant. 

Picking up a pen and piece of paper, Gunter wrote ‘who’ on the sheet and underlined it twice.  Leaving his office he moved to the quietest part of his house and settled into a deep meditative trance.  The future was confined in his mind.  All he had to do was access it.

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 The flight back to the Colorado Springs Brain Institute was uneventful and Slade had taken a nap on the plane.  Despite the vast distance, the schedule was kept and he arrived on time. He was still impressed with how many people flew and how dependent America had become on aviation as a means of transportation.  It had made the world a lot smaller.  Everything was close.  A family had been seated next to him on the flight and they were excitedly talking about visiting Colorado.  A vacation a hundred years ago that would have involved a train ride and days of travel.  Now it was accomplished in a brief afternoon.

Slade checked into the same hotel he had stayed at a week earlier and the staff had recognized him.  This time they had upgraded his room to a suite with a magnificent view of the mountains.  The hotel had a certain charm and the lobby had been decorated with local art creating a rustic appearance.  The lobby was busy; a testament to its growing reputation.  The family he had seen on the plane was checking in as well.

After a hearty dinner he had taken up surveillance of the Brain Institute and waited until Sally, Dr. Hammermill’s assistant, had left.  Slade was patient, the graduate of too many stakeouts as a cop to become hasty.  Sipping from his cup of coffee he continued to watch the front of the building while pretending to read from a magazine.

He was more convinced than ever that the Brain Institute held the key to what was going on.  Bubba had called and told him about their efforts to track down the man who had delivered the nerve agent to the assassins in Cedar Key.  Slade had told Bubba about Ralph and what else he had learned about Mind Walkers.  Bubba had said he would pass the information along to Professor Johansen.  So far the Professor was striking out, but Slade had liked the idea of finding out who contributed to the Brain Institute.  They may get lucky and find a lead.

Slade turned his attention back to the Brain Institute and the surveillance.  Every building had a pulse, a life of its own.  The beginning and ending of each work day followed a familiar pattern.  Most of the workers would stream in or out depending on the position of the sun.  If it was early morning, the tide flowing in was not as enthusiastic as the wave rushing out later in the day. 

Slade smiled as he watched what he thought was the last of the ‘day shift’ to leave.  He waited another fifteen minutes before leaving the sidewalk café and heading for the entrance.  The walk up the sidewalk and into the building was done quickly.  Being a research facility, there would be classes late in the day and into the early evening.  He was counting on the activity giving him a cover.

Having committed the location of the office to memory, Slade moved down the corridors until he was outside Dr. Hammermill’s office.  The suite was organized like most professionals: an outer office where the staff assistant resided and an inner office for the boss.  Slade checked the door.  It was locked.

All large buildings utilized a janitorial staff.  A structure this big would use at least two shifts to keep it clean.  They probably had a schedule to adhere to.  Most cleaning staff had an office or supply room on the lower floors.  He had seen a sign for a morgue near the stairwell and guessed it would occupy the lowest floor in the building.  That meant he needed to conduct his search on the floor above it.

The Brain Institute was larger than he had expected.  The building had been dug deep into the bedrock and Slade was careful to make sure he did not get lost.  With the endless corridors it would be easy to become disoriented and get turned around.  Luckily he had not passed anyone.

Rounding a corner he saw a lady pushing a cart with brooms and mops sticking out of one end.  A large garbage can, paper towels and spray bottles were on the other end.  Slade slowed to allow her to leave the area.

After she had left, Slade moved up to the first door and peered in.  It was a classroom or meeting room.  Leaving it he proceeded to the next one.  The door was solid and an odor of cleaning chemicals could be detected.  Trying the knob it turned quietly and he pushed it open.  No one was inside.

Slade glanced up and down the hallway before stepping in and closing the door.  The room he entered had two tables and some chairs pulled up next to them, with a microwave on the counter.  It was a break room for the cleaning staff.  There were two doors against the far wall.  Moving to the first one, Slade opened it and realized it was full of supplies.  Bleach and other cleaners lined the shelves, along with paper products on the floor.

Closing the door, Slade approached the other door and tried the handle.  Surprisingly it was unlocked.  Swinging the door open he discovered it was a small office.  Flipping on the light switch he quickly moved to the desk and scanned it.  An old blotter and several pencils were lying on it.  A roster, showing the schedule of the staff, was lying on one corner.  Looking around the room he spotted a key cabinet on the wall behind the desk.  The metal door was locked.

Slade slipped into the chair behind the desk.  There had to be another key to the cabinet.  There was no way each staff member would keep a key for the lock.  After searching each drawer, Slade slid back in the chair and started to let his eyes drift around the room.  A clipboard was hanging next to the door and it was obvious from the smudges on the wall it was handled by the staff frequently.  Initially his eyes had left it, but something drew his attention back to it.  After looking at it a second time a smile spread across his face.  The piece of paper on the clipboard was old and had not had an entry made in months.

Leaving his chair, he removed the clipboard and found a key on a small piece of wire that had been hidden from view.  Walking over to the cabinet, the key slipped into the handle and activated the lock.  Opening the panel door he scanned the line of keys before him. Each had an office number or name attached.  Several metal hangers held the keys and it was the third hanger that contained the one he was looking for.  Locking the door and returning the cabinet key, Slade left the office.

The walk back to Dr. Hammermill’s office was done quickly and he took the extra precaution of checking both ends of the hallway to make sure no one was loitering around the corner.  Moving back to the outer door, Slade inserted the key and opened it.  Glancing down the corridor again he made sure he had not been seen before closing it.

The outer office was as he remembered it when he had confronted Sally about knowing Stanley Watchman.  A large bank of wooden file cabinets lined one wall and two small chairs were positioned in front of her desk.  Surprisingly the file cabinets were unlocked and Slade did not bother looking in them.

The door to Dr. Hammermill’s office was open and the physician had spared no expense in decorating his suite.  Wood paneling adorned the walls and the desk was constructed from mahogany.  Even by contemporary standards it was huge.  The coal black leather chair behind it was equally impressive and it was adorned with a pattern of acorns, carefully and artistically woven into a spiral design. 

The mini library was impressive.  Volumes of reading material filled oaken shelves behind the desk and there were a number of books on the brain and mind.  Most were text books or reference journals.  Slade dismissed them.  A small filing cabinet was in one corner and Slade moved to it.  Testing the release he found it was locked.  A thorough check of the desk did not reveal a key.  He could force the locking mechanism, but his presence would definitely be detected.  The missing key from the janitor’s office would be chalked up to carelessness on the part of the staff.  Not a vandalized filing cabinet.  That would point to burglary.

Slade moved back to the desk and started to carefully sort through the papers in the drawers.  He did not know what he was looking for, but had the distinct feeling he would know it when he saw it.  Most of the material focused on classes and lecture.  Notes had been scribbled on some of the papers but nothing seemed out of the ordinary. 

Rising from the leather chair, Slade checked the garbage can.  Apparently Dr. Hammermill had not returned, because the container was empty.  Slade started to walk around the office and almost missed the leather notebook lying next to an end table positioned adjacent to a couch.  Picking it up, Slade flipped it open and immediately sat down.  Hand written notes filled the first several pages.  Whatever he had hoped to find would be in those sheets.

Noise.  The front door was being opened.  Slade’s heart skipped a beat.  Did the janitorial staff have an extra key?  There were at least two of them because he could hear them carrying on a conversation.  Removing the spare key from his pocket, he tossed it onto the floor in front of Dr. Hammermill’s desk but far enough out where it could be seen.  There was a small bathroom in the office and Slade retreated to it, keeping the door open so he could peer out.

“I’m tellin’ ya to be more careful.  You’ve lost keys before.  Dr. Hammermill will make a ruckus if that key comes up missin.  We just had to change the locks a couple months ago.”  An elderly man, slightly balding walked in with a middle aged woman in tow.  She was wringing her hands nervously.

“I’m telling you I put the key back.  Double checked, Marty.”  She kept several steps behind her boss.

“Let’s look around you might have dropped it…”  Marty stopped in mid-sentence, lumbered over and stopped in front of Dr. Hammermill’s desk.  “What’s this?”

“I….I don’t know….I’m sorry.”

“Forget it.  Get the key and get it put back.  Be careful next time.”  Marty shook his head and waited on the woman to retrieve the key before heading to the door.

“Thanks, Marty.”

“Don’t mention it.  Happens to me, too.”

Slade smiled to himself.  All is well that ends well.  Leaving the bathroom, Slade tore the sheets of paper out of the notebook and stuffed them into his pocket.  Moving to the outer door, he pressed his ear against it.  Detecting no sound, he slowly turned the handled and cracked the door open.  Clear.  Stepping outside he closed the door and moved down the hallways.  Rounding the corner he saw Marty and the woman pushing a cleaning cart into another office.

Back in his hotel room, Slade spread the sheets of paper out on the table and started reading.   When he got to the second page, Slade could not stop himself from sitting straight up.  Underlined in front of him was Shirley Waterbury’s name.  Slade felt his hands shake.  Was Dr. Hammermill the one who had tried to have Shirley assassinated?  But why?  What did he have to do with trying to take over Akron Pharmaceutical?

Slade left his seat and paced the room.  Slow down and finish the evaluation of the notes.  They were the only clues he had.  Slade realized he was reaction because of his relationship with Shirley.  He had become like a father to her and his response had been what any parent would feel for their child if they were threatened.  Shaking his head, Slade resumed.

The rest of the notes did not make a lot of sense.  Some names had been scribbled onto the last page and under the heading ‘candidates’.   Were these patients that were earmarked for tests or other studies?  Slade reeled back in his chair as a thought struck.  Could these be people Dr. Hammermill had identified that could become Mind Walkers like Ralph had?  It was a possibility.

The only other clue of note was Tahiti.  Slade knew Ralph had spoken of an island but was Tahiti where the research facility was located?  If it was, then it would be easy enough to check out.  Slade had never been to Tahiti but he did not believe it was that large.  Certainly not large enough to hide a research facility and avoid detection.  Especially by the locals.  Slade was not certain where Tahiti was located, but knew it was near Hawaii or close to it. 

Reaching for his phone, he punched in Bubba’s phone number.  It was late in Florida, but he needed some research done.  At least now they had a connection, albeit flimsy and vague, but a tangible piece of evidence they could work with.  All investigations needed a beginning and they finally had one.

The phone was answered on the second ring and Slade smiled to himself.

“Tell me you have something."

Read Chapter Twenty-six