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Over the Top Secret - Chapter 25
AKA Up, Up and Away
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Start at the beginning (Prologue - AKA Mission Report)
Read the previous chapter (Chapter 24 - AKA Follow That Rat!)
Read the next chapter (Chapter 26 - AKA Look Before You Fall)
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“Just give me The Backup, and I won’t hurt you,” I say with as much authority as possible. Maybe if I act like I’m in charge, he’ll believe I am. Though it’s pretty unlikely, as Dr. Souris is the one holding a gun to my head, and my voice just fluctuated about three octaves.
The small man laughs at me, a piercing sound that sends chills down my spine.
“You idiot,” he says with a thick French accent. I have to agree with him on that. “Now I have both The Backup and The McGuffin.” He smirks. Crap. He’s right again. I rack my brain for a solution.
“Look out!” I point out the front windshield and duck with overly dramatic wide eyes. Dr. Souris whips around. I take the opportunity to lunge forward and grab the briefcase resting on the passenger seat with my good hand. I recoil quickly, tumbling backward and fumbling with the latches.
Throwing the lid open reveals two large syringes. One of them holds a bright green liquid labeled “la guerison” and the other, a bright blue liquid labeled “la resistance.”
I rack my brain for all the French verbs in my A.P. classes. Before I can figure out the translation, I’m overcome with a paralyzing sensation. Cold sweat forms on my forehead and in my armpits. My limbs begin convulsing.
I grit my teeth and try to hold onto the briefcase before the oncoming flash of information takes over, but it’s no use. My grip loosens involuntarily. My eyes scrunch tight, and the familiar onslaught of images comes at me like a tsunami.
Writhing snakes form into The N.E.S.T. logo from the brochure I found in Dr. Souris’ lab, their scaly green skin shimmers in what appears to be moonlight. Then the scene fades as behind it a hundred names appear and disappear, like a ledger. They move too quickly for me to make any of them out, but one of them clearly stands out from the rest: “Dr. Souris.”
The names turn to years: 1974, 1975, 1979, 1983… the numbers grow in size as the years go up, and soon, the figures morph into The N.E.S.T. logo once again, but this time it looks slightly different, less detailed as if it were drawn on an old sepia piece of paper. Dr. Souris’s name appears written in ink on old parchment at the bottom of a list. A massive inky slash strikes through his name before the paper is ripped to shreds.
As the shreds fall, they morph into more snakes and form another version of THE N.E.S.T. logo, but this time it’s a bit more detailed than before and made from the neat strokes of ballpoint pen ink rather than the messy smears of quill ink. And once more, Dr. Souris’ name is crossed through and ripped to shreds. The cycle repeats again and again, faster and faster. The logo changes so quickly it’s like a constant morphing transformation overlaying the constant slashing and deleting of Dr. Souris’ name as the parchment turns to paper and then to computer screens.
The words “FAILED,” “DELETED,” “TERMINATED” appear and disappear throughout my vision until suddenly I’m transported into a cold, dark, wet corner with Dr. Souris. He huddles his knees to his chest and lets out a whimpering cry. I take a hesitant step toward him, but as soon as my foot hits the pavement, the scene changes around us.
Dr. Souris now stands gripping the two syringes in both hands. He looks down at them with adoring eyes, but then his expression changes. He’s suddenly terrified. He looks up at me and pleads for help. Against my better judgment, I rush toward him. When I’m inches away from him, a gravitational pull sucks me into his black irises. I fall into darkness.
My eyes fly open, and I’m back in the helicopter above the Seine. My senses come back to me faster than they ever have before. I reach out and catch the open briefcase just before it slides over the edge of the open door.
“DO NOT TOUCH THOSE!” Dr. Souris yells. He grips one hand on the helicopter yoke and uses the other to aim the short barrel of his handgun at me. I wince, bracing for impact, but he doesn’t shoot.
Oh, right, because I have his precious syringes dangling out the side of the helicopter. Duh! I pull it together, acting more appropriate for someone with the upper hand.
“Don’t touch these?” I taunt, bouncing the briefcase in my hand outstretched over the Seine.
Dr. Souris lunges for the case, but as soon as he lets go of the yoke, the helicopter dips forward. He quickly returns his grip to the handle, waits for the aircraft to stabilize, and glares at me.
“I will drop these babies in a heartbeat unless you hand over The Backup,” I say, this time confident that I’m the one in charge.
Dr. Souris bites his lip. “I cannot do that,” he says.
I give a disappointed frown and shake the briefcase vigorously in a dramatic show of power.
A little too vigorously.
We both watch with dropped jaws as the green syringe falls out of view, right into the Seine.
I pretend I meant to do that and raise my eyebrow at him.
“FINE,” he says. “I’ll tell you everything.”
“I just want The Backup—”
He presses a button on the dashboard of a hundred dials and meters, sending the helicopter into “autopilot” mode. He then turns to me with a sudden somber mood about him, still pointing his gun at me.
“It all started when I was a child,” he says, eyes wandering off to a place I can’t follow, and then I realize what’s happening.
It’s monologue time.