Art Adkins
Author & Leadership Instructor
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Mindwalkers - Chapter 42

Chapter 42

Food was served over an open pit.  Colonel Torres and his men were adept at fending for themselves in the jungle and he was busy telling Dustin Zane and June stories about his youth.  How he had explored vast reaches of the Amazon jungle and the mighty river as a boy.  The animals and natives he had met during his travels.  They knew part of his story telling was to keep them from thinking about Slade.  With each passing day, the hope of locating Slade among the living was growing dimmer.  Time was as much an enemy as the men who had destroyed the research lab.

“So what was your friend, Juan, working on?” asked June.

“Juan was connected to members of your country.  He had allies deep within your seat of government.  He had been trusted with projects that I did not fully understand, but ones he believed in.”  Colonel Torres stopped to stare at the fire.  “We were in the army together, but I knew Juan’s future was in science.  He was a great man.  A man your country trusted as much as mine did.”

“Who in the government?” asked Dustin Zane.

“I don’t know all of them.  I know he was friends with a Lance from the National Security Agency.  Lance and his assistant Sheila Graft were both killed at the research lab.  They were attempting to finish the research your military started decades ago.  They were afraid others would learn of it and use if for the wrong purposes.”

“Was that the only place they were conducting research?” asked June.

“No.  They initially started the research on a remote island in the Pacific near Tahiti, but lost control of it.”  Juan was cut off by Dustin Zane.

“Let me guess.  By a Gunter Gutenberg.”

“How did you know that?” asked the Colonel.

“Because he tried to kill us, along with some friends a while back.  An unscrupulous man with no principles from what I can see.  I would like very much to meet him,” added June, picking up for Dustin Zane.

“Then we are in agreement.  When we find your friend, we pay Gunter a visit.”  Colonel Torres rose from the fire.  “Time for sleep.  We resume our search in the morning.”

“There’s an extra cot in the Tross, Colonel.  It’s all yours.”  June stood up and stretched.

“Thank you, but I will sleep outside with my men.  They have staked out a tent for me.  I would like to fly in your plane one day, though.”

“Done.  See you in the morning.”

Morning broke over the camp slowly, driving away the lingering fog.  When Dustin Zane and June emerged from the plane, the soldiers already had breakfast prepared.  Over the horizon another helicopter came lumbering in.  It was a fuel transport.  Once on the ground the soldiers quickly topped off fuel tanks.

“We’re ready.  Time to move.  We’re going to expand our search.  We think our best chance for success lies in sticking to the river and any tributary leading from the research lab.  If you’re friend is smart, he would’ve remained near the water.  The traveling is easier.”   Colonel Torres had been pointing at the map.

“Didn’t we search some of this yesterday?” asked June.

“Some but not all.  We have to be thorough.  It is going to be extremely difficult in locating two men in this jungle.  They could be just inside the jungle and we would never see them.  They have to know we are looking for them, which they don’t.  They may try to hide.”  Colonel Torres motioned for his men and the Navy Seals.

“Who wants to go with us?  One of you is going to have to be present so Slade will know we’re friendly and not hostiles.”  The Lieutenant in charge of the Seals had spoken. 

“I’ll go with you guys,” said June.

“I’m with you, Colonel.”  Dustin Zane smiled as he started to walk with the Colonel toward the chopper.  “Not that it matters, but who is the better pilot?”

“The other helicopter has the more experienced man.  More missions and hours in the air.”

“Should have known,” remarked Dustin Zane, waving at June as he stepped on board.  Of course June would have recognized the experience of the other pilot, having flown in combat himself.  He would have to be more alert next time assignments were being picked.  Dustin Zane chuckled to himself.

Both birds climbed into the air and turned up the river, drifting slowly apart as they each started to search.  It was going to be a long day.

               **********************************

“Nien!   Nien!  It is unacceptable.  I must have the other generator.  I cannot wait another three to four days.”  Gunter’s face was red and his eyes were narrow slits in his tanned face.  His crop of uncombed blonde hair danced across his head as he shook with rage.

“We can reroute power to other parts of the facility and bring our back-up generator on line.  It will not give us all the power we need, but it will give us some.  It will extend the range, but not sufficient for the test you had in mind.”  Dr. Zofel looked over at one of the engineers for confirmation.

“Dr. Zofel is correct Mr. Gutenberg.  The back-up generator will supply power, but not enough to substantially increase the range to a large extent.”

Gunter turned and walked angrily across his office.  A pair of khaki shorts and a polo shirt hung limply on him.  He had lost twenty pounds in the last two weeks as the cancer had maturated.  His face was gaunt and his skin hung loose.  Everyone noticed the change except Gunter, who thought he was the picture of health.

“When can the back-up be brought on line?” asked Gunter, trying desperately to control his rage.

“By late this afternoon.  Maybe sooner,” remarked Dr. Zofel.

“Good.  Let me know immediately when it is ready.”

“Gunter,” called Dr. Zofel as the German was turning to walk away.  “Who do you want to test the array?”

“Who?  Who else?  Me of course.  And I’ll pick the target.”  Gunter started to laugh, his mood changing to one of excitement from the anger he had harbored minutes before.

“Please proceed as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Zofel as he watched Gunter disappear out the door.

“Yes, sir.”

By early afternoon the back-up generator had been moved into place and attached to the array.  Heavy cables were run from the generator to the antennae.  Another series of cables had been fed into the nearest lab and connected to the ‘chair.’  A series of monitors were positioned to record Gunter’s vital signs and brain activity.

“Are you ready, Dr. Zofel?” asked Gunter, sitting down in the metal chair. 

“Yes.  Are you?”

“Ya.  Proceed.”

Gunter allowed the technicians to place the metal helmet onto his head.  Immediately sensors started to record his brain activity.  An IV tube led into his arm and Dr. Zofel motioned for an assistant to inject the brain stimulant.  The plunger pushed the liquid into Gunter’s arm.

“His neurons are firing at an unbelievable rate, Dr. Zofel.”  Dr. Patricia Fawn had her eyes glued to the scopes in front of her.  Gunter was mad and they all knew it, but no one would move against him.  She was hoping to avoid detection until she could plan a way to escape.  Currently it looked futile.

“I can see everything, Zofel.  I can see where I’ve never been before.”  Gunter’s eyes rolled back in his head.

“Gunter.  Gunter.  Focus.  I’m activating power to the array.”  Dr. Zofel flipped a switch on a console in front of him and a low hum could be detected.  Within moments indicator lights atop the chair started to flash confirming power had reached the helmet.

“Aghhhh,” moaned Gunter.

“Gunter, are you alright?  Do we need to abort?” yelled Dr. Zofel.

“Nien.  Nien.  I’m in control Dr. Zofel.  Let me start my search.  I’ll talk if I can.”

“What is he looking for?” asked Dr. Fawn.

“He’s convinced there is a traitor in our midst and he wants to discover who it is.  He believes information has been leaked to the outside and he felt it would be an excellent test for the array.” Dr. Zofel turned up the power ever so slightly to stabilize a feedback.

“I didn’t know Gunter had psychic abilities,” replied Dr. Fawn, trying to keep the fear out of her voice.

“They were limited until he started to use the mind cocktail.  During the last several months, his abilities have surfaced and grown stronger.  His remote viewing ability has also increased, but with less clarity.” Dr. Zofel reached for the intercom connecting him to the lab from the observation room.  “Do you see anything?”

“See anything?  No, but I sense fear.  Secrets.” Gunter let his head move from side to side.  “Where are you?  You cannot hide from me.  Getting clearer.”

Dr. Patricia Fawn tried to stop her hands from trembling but was unsuccessful.  She glanced around the room to make sure no one else saw her.  Her eyes were riveted on the monitors.  Gunter’s synaptic responses were firing at a rate she had never seen.  Even the autistic savants had never had this type of neurological activity present.  What was he becoming?

“Dr. Fawn.  Are you there?  I see you,” droned Gunter, an evil grin touching his face.

“Yes…yes….I’m here Gunter.  What do you want?” asked Dr. Fawn, fear evident on her face.  Everyone in the control room was staring at her.

“Your thoughts give you away.  I’m not a monster.  Just a man.  A very gifted man.”  Gunter laughed hysterically.

“What are you talking about, Gunter?  What thoughts?  You’re speaking foolishly.”

“Am I?  I should have seen it sooner.  You and Stanley.  Yes, yes.  I see it.  Lovers.  How foolish.  He can’t come for you, dear.  He’s dead.”  Gunter’s face contorted in anger.  “You can join him though.”

Dr. Patricia Fawn was aware of a probing behind her temples, a slight pressure.  At first she had dismissed it as fear, but now she felt it growing stronger, more vibrant.  A coldness started to crowd her mind and she felt like a hand was beginning to wrap around her brain.

“No!  Stop it, Gunter!  You’re insane!  You’re crazy!  Stop it!”  Dr. Patricia Fawn stumbled away from the scopes and turned to Dr. Zofel.  “Dr. Zofel!  I beg you!  Stop him!”

“Were you and Stanley lovers, Patricia?  Were you feeding information to the outside?” asked Dr. Zofel.

“Answer the good doctor, Patricia,” sneered Gunter, focusing on her directly.

The coldness in her brain was increasing, the pain swelling.  Gunter was in her mind!  He was killing her!

“Stop it!  I’ll tell you what you want to know!  We were lovers!  He left because he couldn’t take seeing the people die!  He was a good man!  A good man!  I’ll tell you what you want to know.  Please stop,” sobbed Dr. Fawn.  Tears were streaming down her face and she crumbled to the floor, her resistance gone.

“There is no need to tell us, Patricia.  I have what I need,” said Gunter.  “Let this be a lesson to all of you.”  Gunter smiled a wicked grin and contorted his face as he strained to connect with Dr. Fawn.

“No!  Don’t kill me!  I’ve told you what you wanted to know!  Don’t kill me!”

Screaming Dr. Patricia Fawn jumped to her feet and fled out the door, running down the corridor.  Bursting into the sunlight, she shielded her face and ran as fast as she could to put as much distance as she could between herself and the madman.

“There is no place to run, Patricia.  Time and space mean nothing to me now.  It’s all the same.  Be happy.  You’re about to join Stanley.” 

Gunter smiled one last time and grimaced as he sent mental waves through the helmet and into the array.  The monitors tracking his brain activity were pegged against the limit lines and remained there.  It was several seconds before the indicators started to record again.

Opening his eyes, Gunter motioned for Dr. Zofel to cut the power.

“Are you alright?”

“Yes.  It was wonderful, Zofel.  I could see, feel, and smell everything.  I walked around in her mind as if it was my own.  There was no secret she could keep, no defense she could erect.  I was in total control of her and her life.”  Gunter rose from the chair and turned to face the control room. “You’ll find the body next to the supply shed. I want an autopsy done immediately.  Cause of death should be brain hemorrhaging.  Not original, but efficient.”

Dr. Fawn’s body was found where Gunter had said it would be.  She was lying face down and when they rolled over, they found blood on her face.  A look of terror was in her eyes and her fingernails had carved bright red gashes down the side of her face from her temples.  It was as if she had been trying to pull something out of her head.

Concluding the autopsy, Dr. Zofel found Gunter in his office.

“Any ill effects from the cocktail?”

“Nien.  The autopsy?  As I said?”

“Yes.  She died of a brain hemorrhage.  It looked painful.”  Dr. Zofel sat opposite Gunter.  “Were you with her when she died?”

“Ya.  I could feel her dying.  As life left her body, I left her.”

“Did you sense anything at time of death?”

“You mean her soul?”

“I guess.”

“I was not looking for her soul, Zofel.  I only care about what I can achieve.  I had no use for her as a traitor and I certainly had no use for whatever she possessed after death.  In life or the ever after, she has proven to be of no use to me.”

“We should never pass up a chance to learn, Gunter.  You could answer some age old questions that have been speculated upon by humans for centuries.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

“What about our next target?  Who is it going to be?” asked Dr. Zofel.

“We need the larger generator for that.  Now that I know it can be done, we’ll need more power and a stronger psychic. We have a lot of space and time to travel.  And we don’t need any mistakes.”

“Which psychic do you want use?” asked Dr. Zofel.

“Use Jimmy. He wanted to know how far he could push his ability.  Let’s show him.”

Dr. Zofel rose from his chair and started for the door. 

“I’ll have everything ready.  So who is our next target?”

“The President of the United States.” 

Gunter threw his head back and started to laugh.

Chapter 43