Art Adkins
Author & Leadership Instructor
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Mindwalkers - Chapter 19

Chapter 19

“Did the information pan out?  Was I correct?” asked Jimmy, rubbing his arm where the needle had been inserted for the IV.

“Yes.  Your information was timely and it undoubtedly saved the life of the Prime Minister.”  Juan Domingo placed his hand on the shoulder of the young man.

They were inside the research lab the Nine had established deep in the Colombian jungle.  The building was deceptive and lacked the opulence of the clinic on the Island, but it was functional and easily secured.  Security forces were stationed on the outer perimeter and roamed the inner hallways.

“Then let’s increase the dosage.  I could feel things and see things I have never been able to see before!”  Jimmy’s voice could not hide the excitement.  “It’s worth the risk.  This could be a whole new area for psychics!  I could save countless lives!”

Juan Domingo held up his hand to slow the young man down.  “The life I want to save right now is yours.  We deeply appreciate your willingness to volunteer for these experiments and your success rate has been unbelievable.  But, we don’t know all the side effects.  If we pass the threshold where it is safe for you, it may kill you.  Then what do we do?”

“Just a slight increase?’  Come on Juan, we can’t leave this untapped. We have to try.”  Jimmy was pleading and he reached out and grabbed the older man’s hand, squeezing it in a vice-like grip.

“Let the doctors examine you.  When all of the cocktail is out of your system, we will evaluate if we should increase or can increase the dosage.  But not before then.  Understood?”  Juan Domingo had waved his finger at Jimmy to emphasize his point.

“Deal.”  Jimmy smiled as he left with the attending physician to be checked out. 

Juan Domingo watched him walk away before turning to the others.  “His information was one hundred percent accurate.  Two terrorists had plotted to place a bomb within lethal distance of the British Prime Minister’s residence.  Jimmy’s description of the terrorists and the vehicle they were driving was on target.  Uncanny.”

“How many successful viewings has he performed?” asked Brian Adelain. “And how did he come to us?  I don’t ever remember you mentioning his name before.”

“Jimmy came to us about three months ago as a reference from a physician friend of his.  Seems his friend knows a member on our staff who ‘shared’ some information about what we’re working on.”  Juan Domingo saw the concerned look on Brian’s face.  “Don’t worry, the staff member was interrogated.  They did not share or give away any secrets.  It was one professional sharing general data with another.”

“So Jimmy tracked us down?”

“Sort of.  His physician friend persuaded our staff member to evaluate him for consideration in our program.”

“And?”

“Jimmy has some psychic ability.  He has been able to see things, but like most psychics his ‘vision’ was very general and vague.  However, since working with us and experimenting with the mind cocktail, his talents have reached new levels and his ability to view has increased drastically.  The recent event concerning the British Prime Minister is evidence of his new found knowledge.”  Juan Domingo had been walking with Brian and they entered a lab where several patients were lying on gurneys.  All of them were strapped down so they would not harm themselves.

“Based on the conversation, he desires to increase the dosage of the drug?”

“Yes, but we must move cautiously.  Unlike Gunter, I will not experiment on human beings.  We lost some of our best soldiers because of impatience.  I will not have that happen again.” Juan Domingo nodded at several patients as he passed them on the way out the far door.

“What are they suffering from?”

“They all have different maladies of the brain affecting them.  Some are suffering from autism, others from mild forms of retardation and two of the older patients are trying to recover from strokes.  In all cases the experimental drugs are showing promise.  We could save thousands of lives, Brian.” 

Brian turned to look back at the elder statesman.  Never before had Juan Domingo called him by his first name.  He could see the passion in his eyes.

“Maybe we will, Juan Domingo.”

Stopping outside a metal door, Juan selected a chart from the holder and flipped through it.  Replacing the chart he opened the door and stepped inside.  Carlos Ranchone was seated upright and went to get out of bed to address Juan Domingo.  It was out of respect for the position Juan held.

“No.  Do not get up.  You need your rest.”  Juan motioned for Carlos to remain in bed.

“I feel I have rested enough.  I would like to return to duty.” 

“Another couple of days and you will be released.  Do you remember anything about the mission you were assigned?”

“Only bits and pieces.  It was as if I was drunk and could not see clearly.  Sometimes I think I remember things….but….but I’m not sure.  Will my memory of the events come back to me?”  Carlos was searching for answers.  He had been told his fellow soldiers had all died.

“We don’t know.  That’s why we want to run some more tests.  Get some rest.”  Juan patted the military man on the shoulder before leaving.

Once they were a safe distance away, Brian spoke to Juan in a hushed tone.  “How many Mind Walkers do we have?  And are they all as proficient as Jimmy?”

“We only have three.  All male and all volunteers.  Jimmy is the least effective of the three.”

“How are the others being used?”

“Carefully.  We are determining if we can trust them.  We would like to focus their attention on the Island, but we must tread carefully there.  So far they have been used for other purposes.”  Juan stopped in the hallway and looked directly at Brian.  “Right now we’re focusing on political unrest in countries we’re concerned about.  Stabilization is of paramount importance if we want to stop some of the atrocities being committed around the world.  Plus there is the growing tension in the East.  We mustn’t let that spiral out of control.”

Brian and Juan had resumed their walk.  “And Gunter?  The Island?”

“We must find another way.  The Americans will have to help.  Oracle is becoming a reality, but we must move carefully.”

 

Professor Marse had called Slade later in the evening.  The conversation had yielded more information than Slade could have hoped for.  There was a patient that had been seen by Dr. Hammermill for several months at the Brain Institute in Colorado Springs, but had desired to return home.  The mother of the young man had wanted her son near her and had terminated the contract with the research facility.  Since the young man’s return the mother had grown alarmed at the bits and pieces she had heard from him, but she would only talk to Professor Marse in person to discuss the information.  The professor had persuaded the hysterical mother to talk to Slade instead, figuring he would be the better source to piece together the clues, if any.  The trip would not be a quick one.  The family lived in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Slade had booked a flight out for early the next morning and looking out the window of the jet as it streamed down the runway he wondered if he was on a wild goose chase.  The last time he had come to Alaska he had almost been killed and he had no desire to repeat the experience.  Once was enough.

The flight was longer than he had expected and after being ushered through the security check points, Slade found a taxi and gave the outdoorsman looking driver the address provided by Professor Marse.  The trip to the remote home took almost an hour. 

It was summer in Alaska and the sun only set for a brief period of time.  Slade stared out the window at the raw beauty of the landscape and marveled at the vastness of the state.  It was truly a large frontier still holding secrets.

The taxi driver turned off the road and proceeded up a winding gravel road, weaving amongst a thick growth of evergreens.  Slade recognized some of the trees as aspens, but was lost as to the identity of the others.  The house was midway up a small mountain range and when the car burst free from the foliage, the home loomed in front of them.  Stopping at the front door, Slade paid the driver and retrieved his one suitcase.  Despite the summer sun he felt a chill in the air.

Walking to the door, Slade admired the home.  It was large.  The structure was probably over five thousand square feet.  The front door was massive, with two stained glass panes on either side.  Cobblestone had been used as pavers and the mason had melded them with the wood to create a seamless effect, blending them perfectly to accent the surroundings. 

The door was answered on the second knock.  A middle aged woman, perfectly manicured, stood staring at Slade.  She was the first to speak.

“Mr. Lockwood?”

“Yes, I am.”  Slade shook her hand.

“Pleased to meet you.  Won’t you come in?”

“Thank you.”

Slade followed his host inside and he was struck again by the enormity of the residence.  The open floor plan of the foyer/living room beckoned him inside and he found his eyes traveling up the exposed beams to the crest of the vaulted ceilings.  Sunlight spilled in through some skylights, causing an array of colors to play across the walls.

“Magnificent home.”

“Thank you.  It’s our summer residence, but we actually spend most of the year here.  My husband loves to fish and hunt and we come here every year.  Fairbanks has some great rivers near it and he enjoys catching salmon.  The hunting is very good here, too.”  The woman had directed them to the kitchen where a pitcher of lemonade rested on a granite counter top.  “Would you like a glass?”

“Yes, I would.  Thank you.”  Slade seated himself at the bar and looked out the back window that had a commanding view of the neighboring mountain.

“By the way, my name is Rachel Pendleton.”

“Pleased to meet you Mrs. Pendleton.”

“Just call me Rachel.”

“I don’t mean to jump right in, but I’ve come a long way to see you and I hope you can help me with a case I’m working on.”

“Are you a private investigator?  Professor Marse was very adamant about you being the person I should speak to.” 

“No.  I’m a retired LAPD Deputy Chief who tries to help out those who come to me in need of service.  By the way, how do you know Professor Marse?” 

“Well I appreciate you coming to see us, but I don’t know if we can be of help to you.  We met Professor Marse when our son visited a clinic sponsored by Johns Hopkins University.  A wonderful man.”

“I don’t know if I can help you either, but I would still like to talk to you.  A doctor came to me for help, scared out of his mind and was killed before I could figure out what was wrong.  I’m looking for any scrap of information that could assist me.”

“I don’t know how a doctor being killed would involve us.”  Rachel had arched her eyebrows in confusion.

“Your son was sent off for treatment?  Am I correct?”

“Yes, you are.  Ralph suffers from autism and we sent him to the Brain Institute in Colorado Springs for therapy.  This was after several treatments at the clinic I just told you about.  However, he is our only child and I missed him greatly.”  Rachel stopped when she saw the look on Slade’s face harden ever so slightly.

“The doctor that was murdered and came to me for help used to work at the Brain Institute in Colorado Springs.”

For several seconds Rachel did not say a word.  She moved her hands from the table and placed them on her lap.  When she spoke again, her voice was low, barely above a whisper.

“Are we safe, Mr. Lockwood?”

“I don’t know.  It depends on what you have to tell me and how it all ties in.  I have very little to go on at this time.”

“Then we need to move out onto the porch so we can discuss this at greater length.  Ralph is upstairs with his therapist.  Since he has returned from the Institute he has been having bad dreams.  We’re hoping the therapist can help him so he can sleep through the night.”

Rachel led them out to the back porch and waited for Slade to seat himself.  Once they were both comfortable, she began to tell Slade all she knew.

“Ralph is our pride and joy, Mr. Lockwood and when he was diagnosed with autism it almost broke Ben’s heart.  My husband had always wanted a boy.  In some way I think it was the best gift God could have given us.  Ben has opened up in ways you could never imagine.  I have seen him patiently play with Ralph and work with him.  Only a father’s love can do things like that.”

“Ben?” asked Slade.

“I’m sorry.  Ben is my husband and Ralph’s father.  We waited till late in life to have kids and we only have Ralph.  Ben started a manufacturing company when we first married and the business has done extremely well.  It has allowed us to live a life that would be the envy of others.”  Rachel stated it matter-of-factly, with no hint of arrogance or boastfulness.  They were working class people who had ‘made it.’

“How did you find out about the Brain Institute?”

“We didn’t.  They found out about Ralph.  When we took Ralph to the clinic in Baltimore we had high hopes for success.  We found out later that some of the members of the clinic, graduate students and others, were being recruited by the Brain Institute at Colorado Springs.  A graduate assistant, who later took a job with the Institute, told them about Ralph and they contacted us offering hope.  We jumped at the opportunity to get Ralph the latest in therapy.”  Rachel paused as she recalled the conversation that had offered so much hope.

“You said you terminated the contract.  What kind of contract?”

“When the Institute contacted us they presented us with several offers.  The best case for success to find a treatment for Ralph, or so they told us, involved a year-long residency program.  The problem with the residency program is you cannot visit your child.  They said they needed Ralph in a controlled environment where they could monitor his behavior twenty-four hours per day so they would have the opportunity for the best results.  After Ralph was with the program for a little over four months we asked to terminate the contract.  He is our only son, Mr. Lockwood and we wanted him near us.”

Slade noticed Rachel had repeated herself about Ralph being their only son.  They obviously loved the boy very much.

“Was the residency program done at Colorado Springs?”

“We thought so, but I don’t believe that is the case.”

“Why is that?”

“For one, when we terminated the contract it took them three days to get Ralph back to us.  When he returned, he was tanned, like he had been hanging out at the beach.  He now routinely draws abstract pictures of palm trees and islands.  We’ve asked but he cannot tell us where it is.”

“Did they tell you he was going to be moved from the Brain Institute?  And did they tell you why it took so long for him to be returned?”
            “No, they never told us they would remove him from the Brain Institute or we would have never agreed to the terms of the contract.  They said it took so long to have him returned, because they wanted to make sure he did not have any withdrawals from the medication they had been giving him.”

“And you don’t buy that story?”

“I did at first, but the more Ralph is home the stranger he acts when he remembers his time at the Institute.  I don’t think we have been told the whole truth, Mr. Lockwood.  Another thing, I get scared when I think of what they may have done with Ralph while he was there.”  Rachel had reached out and grabbed Slade’s arm while speaking.

“Who was your contact at the Institute?”

“Dr. Hammermill.  We only met him once or twice.  Mostly dealt with members of his staff but not the same person twice.”

Slade paused and stared out at the landscape.  So far there was nothing to really go on that looked suspicious.  It may have taken several days for any experimental drugs to have been flushed out of Ralph’s system.  And perhaps the Institute had created a beach type environment thinking it would help Ralph relax, complete sun lamps and everything else to manufacture a tropical environment. 

“What type of behavior has Ralph been exhibiting that has led you to believe there was something wrong?”

“His total distrust of strangers for one thing.  He used to be so friendly and eager to meet people.  Ralph has regressed in that area and acts as if a stranger could harm him.  This has alarmed my husband and me.  Coupled with his nightmares, his abstract drawings, and his fractured speech, there have been behavioral patterns that he did not exhibit before being sent to the Institute.  Sometimes Ralph will start saying things that don’t make any sense.  The words have no meaning to anything we can connect with.”

“Does Ralph posses any type of special skill?  I read where some patients suffering from autism possess extraordinary skills in certain areas.  They….”

“You mean like an idiot savant?  Now they are called autistic savants.”

“Yes.”

“Ralph does possess abilities like that.  He loves to make figures out of paper.  In this area he is very talented.”

“You’re talking about origami?”

“Exactly.  I couldn’t think of the word for a moment.”  Rachel looked over at Slade and laughed.

Before either of them could continue the conversation, the door to the back patio opened.  The therapist, a slightly balding man in a tweed jacket and jeans, stepped onto the wooden deck. The man was in his late fifties or early sixties.  He was closely followed by Ralph.

Slade and Rachel rose at the same time to greet them.  Slade immediately watched Ralph.  The young man was about seventeen or eighteen years old.  He was tall, probably 6’2” or taller, well dressed and athletic looking.  Ralph held his hands in front of his chest and walked in small, jerky steps as if he was uncertain of the direction he was traveling.  But it was Ralph’s eyes that Slade noticed first.  The young man was constantly scanning and he seemed to be preoccupied with the mountain range behind them.  He was gazing at the mountain, staring through it or beyond it.  Slade turned to see if there was a discernable object attracting Ralph’s attention.  It was a loud intake of air and a gasp that caused Slade to turn back around.

Ralph had finally seen Slade.  Gasping, the young man looked at Slade, his eyes wide with wonder.  He started to clap his hands in front of him and then began to smile.  Moving his head from side to side, Ralph started to move in place, almost like dance steps, except the movements had no rhythm or beat.  Unable to fully express himself, Ralph started to jump up and down and clap harder while making the gasping sound louder.  Tears started to stream from his eyes as his excitement grew.

Both the therapist and Rachel watched in open-mouthed wonder.  Fearing for her son, Rachel moved toward him, reaching out her hand.

“Ralph.  Ralph, it is okay,” soothed Rachel.  “This is Slade Lockwood.  He’s a friend.”

“No…..no…..know you…….seen you……knew it was true…..”  Ralph broke free from his mother and rushed to Slade, his jerky stride covering the distance rapidly.  Reaching Slade, he threw his arms around his neck and hugged him, patting him on the back.  Slade returned the gesture, confusion on his face.

“Hi, Ralph.  Pleased to meet you.”  Being caught off guard, Slade could not think of anything else to say.

“Seen you…..yes……others too…….seen you……..” Ralph finally released Slade and started to jump around, but within seconds rushed back to Slade.  “Must go……help others……they know….you’re the one……the one.”  Ralph started to make small clicking noises with his voice, his excitement overtaking him.

Rachel turned to look at the therapist who had been watching the events unfold before him.  Jack Duraker had been hoping for a response like this, but had been unable to achieve it.  Motioning for Rachel to remain calm, Jack stepped closer to Ralph.

“Ralph, Slade is the ‘one’ what?  What is the ‘one’?” 

“The one……..must go……expect him they do……..danger…”

“Who expects him Ralph?” asked Jack, probing, trying to find answers from the troubled young man in front of him.

“Test……give us……bad stuff……make us see things……only things for them….but I didn’t tell…..no, no, no….did not tell……others see things….see you.”  Ralph pointed at Slade.  “But we no tell……keep secret…..knew you would come…..others wait…..wait for you…wait for the one.”

“What is he talking about?  Have you met my son before, Mr. Lockwood?” asked Rachel, her brow knitted in confusion.

“No, I’ve never met him.” 

“I think he is seeing things from the past.   Images perhaps.”  Jack’s eyes opened quickly and he turned to Rachel.  “Can your son ‘see’?  I mean does he have visions of things that happen?”

“You mean like a psychic?”

“Yes….yes.  Does he ever see anything or say something that may come true later?” asked Jack, the excitement in his voice evident.

Rachel stared off into space, trying desperately to recall if Ralph had ever ‘seen’ anything.  “Maybe.  I never really looked for it.  I remember a few things that I thought were coincidence.”  Suddenly Rachel’s face registered complete surprise and her voice rose several decibels.  “Yes!  I do remember something.  It happened yesterday.  Ralph came downstairs for breakfast but walked out on the back porch instead of stopping to eat.  I asked him what he was doing and followed him outside.  He told me he wanted to see the bear.  When I asked what bear, he told me she would be coming with her babies.  I was about to go back inside when he pointed.  I looked and saw them coming over the small crest of the mountain.  Rachel paused to point where she had seen them.  “It was a mother bear with two cubs.  She appeared out of nowhere.”

“Had you ever seen them before?” asked Slade.

“No, but I dismissed it thinking Ralph had.  Later that night, Ben asked Ralph about it when I relayed the story.  All Ralph would say is that he had seen her and he tapped his head.   That was all we could get.”  Rachel looked back at her son, who was still staring at Slade and clapping and uttering the same phrases over and over.

“The one……knew it……seen you…..yes, yes……seen you……scared of you they are…….seen you.”  Ralph kept smiling and reaching out to touch Slade, as if verifying the man in front of him was not an apparition, but a tangible living thing he could feel. 

“We need to pursue this, Rachel.  This could hold the key to unlocking some of Ralph’s issues with sleeping and his nervousness around strangers.”  Jack turned to look at Slade.  “I hope I can persuade you to stay here for a couple of days, if that is okay with Rachel and Ben?”

“Absolutely.  We have a guest bedroom.”  Rachel looked questioningly at Slade.

Slade did not answer immediately, but turned to look at Ralph.  In his eyes, Slade could see hope and relief.  Ralph was exuberant and Slade could tell that whatever Ralph had seen, he held the answer to the puzzle.  There was no way he was leaving until he knew more.

“I would be delighted to stay.  I want to learn more about this.”  Slade stared at Ralph.

“The one…..help…..must help……depend on you.”  Ralph could not contain himself any longer.  Letting out a loud shout, he started to gyrate in circles, clapping and stomping his feet.  Only when he grew tired did he pause and he immediately refocused on Slade.  “Come…..come…..I show you……must see.”  Grabbing Slade by the hand he turned and pulled Slade toward the house.

Slade shrugged to the others and allowed himself to be led inside the residence and up the stairs to Ralph’s room.  Once inside his room, Ralph rushed to a dresser against the far wall and opened the third drawer.  Inside were undershirts and socks, but Ralph dug through them to the bottom.  Pulling out a handful of papers, Ralph scurried back over to Slade.

“See….see….the one…..”  Ralph nodded his head as he handed the papers to Slade.

On the first paper was an island surrounded by water.   Though not readily identifiable, Slade could tell it was an island.  Ralph pointed to a spot on the paper and only then did Slade see a boat, but it wasn’t a normal boat.  The boat had pontoons on either side, jutting into the water.  It was small, a mere speck against the horizon. 

The next paper showed a man, more like a stick figure, on the island, walking up from the ocean.

“You…the one….you…..,” Ralph had pointed to the stick figure on the paper.

The next piece of paper Ralph shoved to Slade was of a building, but it was almost even with the ground.  Ralph became very agitated when showing the picture.

“Bad….real….bad….not good….do bad things…..”  Ralph moved away from the picture until Slade had placed it beneath the other two in his hand.

The fourth picture was of room with what looked like a couch.  There were drawings next to the couch but Slade could not decipher what they were.  The words Mind Walker were written diagonally across the picture.

“What are Mind Walkers?” asked Slade, looking at Ralph.

“Me…..like me……they want….no,…need…..Mind Walkers…..special we are.”  Ralph nodded his head and moved close to Slade, whispering as he spoke.  “Gave stuff to Ralph…..make him see things…..angry…when Ralph….not see…..”

Slade watched as the young man’s eyes took on a faraway look.  He was also cognizant that Ralph had referred to himself in the third person when talking about his experiences in the room.  Especially when talking about becoming a Mind Walker.

“Did they take you there a lot?” asked Slade.

“Yes….lot……sometimes every day……not always….Ralph does not remember…” 

“Did they take anyone else there?” asked Slade.

“Yes…yes…..but Dr. Stanley… not like…” Ralph stopped speaking when he saw Slade’s head snap up and his eyes riveted on him.

“Dr. Stanley?  Dr. Stanley Watchman?” asked Slade.

Ralph backed away from Slade, terror hitting his face.  “Sorry…not bad…..did not mean…..not angry with Ralph.”

Slade silently cursed himself.  His involuntarily reflex had activated when he thought about the doctor who had come to him for help and had been killed in front of his eyes.  The emotion had been too much for Ralph and now he had frightened the only person who could help.

Placing the pieces of paper down onto Ralph’s bed, Slade picked up a piece of paper and started to carefully fold it.  Ralph slowly started to inch forward to watch.  As Slade continued to fold the paper, Ralph showed more and more interest until he was back to himself.

“Horse….horse….”  Ralph clapped as Slade finished the crudely folded piece of origami.

Grabbing a piece of paper, Ralph’s hands flew across the page, folding and twisting in a blur.  The horse he produced was far superior to Slade’s effort and Slade turned to him and clapped.  Ralph beamed with pride. 

“Why don’t we stop for today,” said Slade, turning to face the therapist as he spoke.  “If possible I would like for you to be here tomorrow.  I need to make some phone calls and I need to talk to you at length before Ralph and I discuss anything further.”  Slade looked back at Ralph, who was busy folding another piece of paper into a wonderful shape before their very eyes.

“That is an excellent idea.  Do you have a problem with any of this Rachel?” asked Jack.

“No.  I agree.  It’s getting late and I’m sure you could use some food and rest, Mr. Lockwood.  Come and I’ll show you your room for tonight.”

Before they left, they all turned to watch Ralph as he was busy folding other pieces of paper into animal shapes.  He was lost in a world only he could see or understand.


Read Chapter Twenty