Art Adkins
Author & Leadership Instructor
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Mindwalkers - Chapter 12

Chapter Twelve

Professor Warse sat back from the desk and rubbed his eyes.  What was he missing?  Looking carefully at the stack of papers in front of him, he reached over and picked up several of them, aimlessly shuffling them in his hands.  Professor Carl Peabody had kept notes on all his gifted students, especially the ones he felt were destined for greatness.  Stanley Watchman had been one of those.  Every indication was that Stanly would succeed in the world of medicine. 

Sorting through the papers, Professor Warse picked up a small folder on Stanley.  The young man had graduated near the top of his class.  In addition to being gifted academically, he was an athlete.  Stanley had come from a wealthy family who had made their fortune in engineering and moved to South Florida upon retirement.  The son had chosen medicine over engineering, a choice supported by his parents. 

Professor Warse flipped to the last several pages in the folder. Stanly had been courted by several leading medical institutions offering him employment upon graduation.  He had conferred with Professor Peabody regarding a couple of them.  Stanley had selected a job with the Colorado Springs Brain Institute.  Stanley had stayed in touch with Professor Peabody for the first year to year and a half, but had stopped calling right after that.  Professor Marse scanned the notes in the file and then consulted the last entries Professor Peabody had made.  Stanley had called about a week before his death.  Carl had written the word “worried” and underlined it.  That was the last entry before Stanley had been murdered.

Thumbing back through the notes, Professor Marse found the name of the leading doctor at the Colorado Springs Brain Institute.  Dr. Rodney Hammermill.  A phone number was listed next to his name.  Apparently he had called Professor Peabody asking about Stanley prior to selecting the young man for employment.  Professor Marse wrote the number down on a piece of paper and went back to scanning the notes.  

Reaching for the desk phone, Professor Marse dialed Dr. Hammermill’s number in Colorado Springs.  His assistant answered and told him that Dr. Hammermill would be out most of the day, but would be in first thing in the morning.  Professor Marse left his personal cell phone number and asked to have Dr. Hammermill contact him as soon as possible. 

For several minutes Professor Marse sat at the desk and did not move.  His world was medicine, not police work or investigations.  Still, just like when diagnosing a patient, he knew when things were amiss.  Something was not right, but he did not know what.  The worst thing he could do was to continue to stumble around in the dark and make a mess of things.  Best to let the professionals do their job.

Professor Marse fished a small piece of paper from his breast pocket.  The lead investigator who had been at Professor Peabody’s home had given him the name and number of the man who had found Carl and his wife.  The man had almost died making the discovery and had it not been for his quick thinking and the deep end of the swimming pool he would have succumbed to the inferno that had destroyed Carl’s house.  Slade Lockwood.  Professor Marse again picked up the phone on the desk.  This time the phone was answered when it rang.

“Hello.”

“Hello.  Is this Slade Lockwood?” asked Professor Marse.

“It is.  And who may I ask is calling?” answered Slade.  He was sitting on his porch overlooking the Gulf of Mexico and watching Old Clacker who was asleep on a nearby piling, his menacing bill tucked safely beneath his wing.  The cantankerous bird looked down right peaceful and friendly from a distance. 

“Professor Marse from Johns Hopkins.  I was a friend of Professor Carl Peabody.  I got your name and number from a policeman I know who is looking into the murders.”

“Did they find out anything?” asked Slade, setting his drink onto an end table and picking up a pad and pencil.  Quickly he scribbled Professor Marse’s name onto the blank page and made a note that he had been a friend of Professor Peabody.

“No they haven’t, which is why I’m calling you.  I went through Professor Peabody’s office to see what I could find.  He kept notes on all his exceptional students and Stanley Watchman, whom I believe you met, was one of those.  I have all the information Carl had on Stanley.  Stanley called Carl about a week before he was killed.”

“Did Professor Peabody indicate why Stanley had called him?”  Slade again made some quick notes on a piece of paper.

“No.  He wrote the word “worried” beneath the last entry and underlined it. I don’t know the significance of it.  I didn’t get a chance to talk to Carl because it was finals week and we’re all very busy during this time.  It’s crazy around here.  I never knew Stanley had called Carl until I read the note in his personal journal.”

“I have a favor to ask.  Would you be willing to make copies of the entire file and send it to me?” asked Slade.

“Not a problem.  You don’t want the originals?”

“I do, but I didn’t think you would part with them.”  Slade laughed when he said it.

“I’ll keep the copies and send the originals to you.”  Professor Marse chuckled in return.  “Guess I would’ve made a good detective, huh?”

“Yes, you would’ve Professor.  Can I have your phone number so I can give you a call in case I need anything additional?  Is that okay?”

“Absolutely.”  Professor Marse paused and then spoke so slowly and softly, Slade had to strain to hear him.  “Mr. Lockwood, do me a favor.”

“Certainly,” replied Slade, also lowering his voice.

“Find out who killed my friend.  Carl and his wife were good people.”

“You can count on it.  Just send me the information.”

“It’s on its way.”  Without another word, Professor Marse hung up the phone.

Slade rose from his seat and walked back to his office.  Turning on his computer he did a quick search of the phone number still displayed on his cell phone.  A long time ago he had learned that a voice on the other end of the phone was just that:  a voice.  Anyone could claim to be whoever.  Punching in the number Professor Marse had called from he found that it went to Johns Hopkins University, medical department. 

Next, Slade typed in Professor Marse and some information came up on the educator.  Apparently at sometime in the past he had several journals and papers published in the medical field and in one of the excerpts a photo was included.   Slade quickly hit print and waited while the photograph and other information were spit out onto his desk. 

Taking all the information, Slade deposited the papers into a folder and left it on his desk.  He would wait on the information and resume the investigation once the documents arrived from Professor Marse.  At least now he had more than he did twenty-four hours ago.

Sighing to himself, Slade moved to the shower.  He was going to take Katherine, his fiancée, to lunch. At the thought of Katherine he found himself smiling.  No wonder love was for fools.  Slade started to laugh as he turned on the water.

Hector and his team had arrived separately in Cedar Key, but had rendezvoused at a predesignated location.  Their arrival had been spaced over several days.  The early arriving team members had already begun the stakeout of Shirley’s corporate headquarters, watching the changing of the guards, evaluating security and diagnosing the surveillance systems. 

After all the preliminary data had been gleaned, they were preparing to make the move.  The last meeting was done in a small hotel on the outskirts of town.  The assassins were huddled around the living room table, hand drawn maps scattered across the top.  Several pictures were lying in front of the men.

“This is the Ex-Chief of Police of Cedar Key, Bubba Singletee.  He was head of Security for Waterbury Enterprises, but stepped aside when Dustin Zane was hired.”

“Does he have a limp?” asked Pedro, carefully studying the picture and picking up on the cane in Bubba’s hand.

“No.  He and his friend, June Stenger, who is a retired Navy fighter pilot, got involved in a shootout in Sanibel Island about a week ago.  Bubba took a round to the leg, but they still managed to kill two of our employer’s hired hands.  They both are always around the complex and will shoot to kill.  They both are armed and are considered deadly.  If we can take them out, our employer will add to our bonus.”  Hector smiled as the two photographs were passed around.

“Anyone else we need to know about?” asked the youngest member of the group, a French man with a heavy accent.

“Just one more.  This man.”  Hector tossed down the last photograph in his hand.  “His name is Slade Lockwood.  Ex-LAPD.  My sources tell me he made quite a reputation for himself on the force before suddenly retiring.  He takes on cases that interest him, but doesn’t advertise.  A strange fellow, but is probably the deadliest of the four if provoked.  Close friend with the other three.  Find one, find them all.”

“When do we move?” asked Pedro, rising from his chair.

“Tomorrow morning.  Shirley always arrives at her office by 0900 hours.  We should be done with the job within half an hour, maybe an hour.”

“Are we sure we don’t want to take her out on the street or at her house?” asked Pedro.

“No.  The nerve gas will make it look like she had a heart attack.  If all goes well, we will be in and out without a trace, leaving the authorities to wonder what happened.  It will also make it easier for all of us to escape and collect our money.  No need to get in a shootout with the locals.”  Hector glanced around the room and the men nodded their approval.

“Do we need to go over the assault and entry one more time or is everyone comfortable with their role?” asked Pedro.

“We go over it once more.  I don’t want any mistakes.”  Hector rose from the table and walked to an empty bedroom where a diagram of Waterbury Enterprises was taped to the wall.  Each man started to recite their role in the operation, paying particular attention to the time when they moved and how.  After the briefing, Hector dismissed the group.  They would not assemble again until the operation commenced in the morning and Shirley Waterbury was dead.

Gunter watched the stock ticker with anger and fascination, both emotions wrestling for dominance on his face, but neither succeeding.  It was finally frustration that won out, causing the German to toss the remote control down onto his desk as the screen slowly faded to off. 

By this time tomorrow Shirley would be killed.  He was still amazed at how events were so entwined.  One of the lookouts in Sanibel had identified Bubba and June from photographs supplied by Hector as the two men who had killed his hired assassins on board the yacht.  One of them had designed the security for Shirley and the other appeared to be a friend.  But how did they factor into this?  Was it a random set of events that had involved them in this escapade?  Was it pure coincidence?  Gunter shook his head.  He did not believe in unrelated scenarios coalescing at the same time.

And the third member of the group, a Slade Lockwood – how did he fit in?  The man was retired from LAPD and had investigated the murder of Shirley’s brother, bringing the man to justice.  Now he investigated cases sporadically, but with no rhyme or reason.  Why?  There was always a why, a motive.  One just had to look hard enough.  Lockwood had also been involved in St. Augustine when Watchman had been killed.  Gunter now knew the foolish young doctor had solicited Lockwood for help, but it had done him no good.

How were all of these players involved in his affairs?  What did they know?  Had the death of Watchman caused Shirley Waterbury to buy stock in Akron Pharmaceuticals?  Had they pieced together what he was working on?  It did not add up.  He was moving in more than one direction and only his innermost circle knew most of the details and even then, none of them knew all the pieces of the puzzle.     

Gunter rubbed his head in frustration.  He needed more data, more analysis.  To move without information was foolish.  There were a lot of fronts he was involved in.  The Brain Institute in Colorado Springs was solid.  Dr. Rodney Hammermill had things under control on that end.  It had been Dr. Hammermill who had alerted him to the traitor, Stanley Watchman, and the possibility of the physician bringing in the authorities.  Stanley had held such promise.  No, the Brain Institute was stable, solid.

The South American contingent posed a more immediate threat to long term plans and expansion.  Originally they had all been partners, until their concepts and strategies had become archaic, slow to embrace the wonderful opportunity that had presented itself before them.  Juan Domingo was a shrewd man and master tactician.  Whatever he was planning would be carefully thought out.  Gunter knew the Group of Nine had asked to meet with their American counterpart, Lance Young the NSA Chief, and the meeting was already scheduled.  Should he intervene?  Again, Gunter paused and stared at his desk blotter.  Indecision was not something he was used to or ready to accept.  Action dictated the future, shaped choices and paved the road to success.

Gunter finally left the confines of his chair to pace the room.  Dr. Zofel had phoned him about the latest experiments with a Mind Walker.  The patient had spoken of a man coming.  Coming where?  And when?  To the Island?  And who was the man?  Gunter had told Dr. Zofel to continue the experiments and see if he could learn more.  Had the time/space continuum been bridged?  Was there a chance Oracle would succeed?  The promise for success and the resultant knowledge would make him rich and powerful beyond the dreams of any man.  The risk was worth it.

Returning to his phone, Gunter activated his computer and prepared to send a cryptic email to Hector.  He needed to make absolutely certain Bubba, June, Dustin Zane and Slade were removed along with Shirley.  If that happened, then all connections to Akron Pharmaceuticals would be severed.  He did not know how the events were intertwined, but he was confident they were and that was enough.  Once they were out of the picture and Akron Pharmaceuticals was destabilized, they would capitulate and fall.  He did not believe Paul Akron knew who was trying to purchase his company or he would have made it public.  Willow had handled the destabilization masterfully and all ties to his maneuvers had been kept clandestine.  When the time was right, Gunter would ride to the rescue and purchase the company he had moved to the brink of financial ruin, eliminating the pesky owners at the same time.  Brilliant strategy.

Divide, attack, and conquer.  Military leaders had used similar tactics throughout history and it had been proven successful then, why not now?  He was applying it to business, the most interesting and demanding of all the arenas confronting the human race.

Feeling far more confident than he had moments before, Gunter had a smirk on his face and started to hum.  Once again, destiny was his.

Read Chapter Thirteen

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