Betrayal for Eternity

betrayal.jpgBetrayal for Eternity
By Sheldon Doyle
Lulu.com ID# 1066869
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Copyrighted 2007 by Sheldon Doyle

Betrayal For Eternity

Prologue

One
Easter Sunday Baraboo, Wisconsin

It was pitch black and a cool wind whistled through the pines by the time Edgar Holmes eased out of his makeshift lean-to and crawled up the embankment towards the Union 76 truck stop. By the time he reached the top he was cold even though the temperature was moderate and as stretched his tired body, he hoped someone would take pity on him.
He was feeling poorly having missed another holiday, as though life in its infinite wisdom had decided it proper to shit in his Easter basket again. Maybe if he were lucky some do-gooder seated at the counter would buy him a hot cup of coffee. A hamburger wouldn’t hurt either. He was hungry and wasn’t above begging for one if it came to that.
As your typical hard luck loser, Edgar’s life hadn’t always been so rough as he stumbled onto the paved road and staggered off towards the distant glow of lights. There had been a time in Madison when he had a life, but like the rest of the woebegones the drugs and parties had cost him more than his job and family. Self respect had been snorted away as well even though he professed to anyone who’d listen he was a victim of circumstances.
He rubbed his bulbous nose and scratched at the sores festering his armpits with his free hand as he tilted the bottle back and waited for the last drop of Mad Dog 20-20 to grace his tongue.
But like his stomach the bottle was empty and dejectedly tossed it into ditch wondering where the next one would come from. Maybe if he curled into a trembling ball by the door and shook bad enough the do-gooder might offer a couple of bucks instead of the coffee or food.
When a semi rumbled past, he turned his back to the gusting wind and shuddered against the cold. There was a storm brewing, he could feel it in his bones. He turned up the collar of his faded jacket and trudged alongside the deserted road.
A compliant though disturbed Captain Jack McDonnell waited until the disheveled man disappeared around the curve before switching on the headlights of his car. He too felt a tumultuous storm rising, but not the kind Edgar was feeling. There was blood to be had and the longing for its sweetness deepened into a rush of wind that swept through is mind as he pulled away from the wayside.
A fleeting memory shimmered on the cusp of realization as he followed at a discreet distance, careful not to look suspicious. He wasn’t sure what it meant or if was really something he had actually done, but sensed it was and that he had done this very thing before.
Yet he knew questioning the errant thought was dangerous. Even with the truth of his past so near, it was best to remain ignorant of the answers. Years of experience had taught him not to pursue them when they teased his consciousness least he suffer another round of pain scorching his brain.
Gliding down Durwood Hill Road he closed the distance until he could see him silhouetted in the headlights clearly. Like some many before him, Captain Jack knew the man would smile graciously when he slowed to a stop and offered a ride. Dressed as he was, they all did. Even the suspicious women.
When he pulled alongside and stopped, he rolled down the window. “You look like you could use a ride. Com’n, get in. I’ll take you wherever you’re headed.”
Edgar peered into the darkened interior and smiled. His luck was indeed changing. Maybe life hadn’t taken a dump on him afterall. “Oh, it’s you, Brother. I was just heading up to the truck stop. Maybe to get a bit to eat.”
Captain Jack nodded and opened the door. “I know. I was headed that way myself. You look like you could use a cup of coffee too.”
Settling into the comfortable seat, Edgar closed his eyes and let the warmth drain his cares away. Any moment he expected the sermon to begin, the familiar lecture of living the life of a inebriated fool to start all over again. If it did, so what? It was the price he had to pay sometimes. Maybe the Brother was just feeling generous tonight.
When the car jolted forward and then suddenly stopped, he opened his eyes to see what had happened to disturb his tranquility. He wasn’t prepared for the vice-like grip grabbing him in a head lock or the suffocating cloth pressed hard across his face. He kicked wildly and tried to scream, tried to push the muscular arm away but the cloth remained pressed against his face, forcing him to breath in the strong vapors.
Fading. Drifting. Edgar slowly gave way to the powerful fumes. He felt giddy and weak. languid as his body folded into the seat unconscious. He thought he was dreaming when the Brother leaned over his face baring his teeth in a wolfish grin. He wanted to ask, Why? Why me. I’m nobody, but couldn‘t get his voice to work. The last thing he remembered was watching the mouth widen and those teeth coming closer and closer.

Two

May 3rd, Washington D.C.

In the failing daylight, Building 504 lay glistening beyond the wrought iron gate and its nearness made Vincent Chapman’s skin prickle. It was a geometric wizardry of concrete and glass and the surrounding grounds were lush with gardens and sculptured shrubs.
But Vincent wasn’t here to watch the sunset or to recount the building’s beauty. Tonight he was all business and like a brooding gargoyle perched upon the bordering wall, he bared his teeth in what some might consider a smile. The plan was perfect. He had come here to kill Karla Johansen.
It amazed him the government had been so skimpy when it came to the security. With all the money at their disposal, the place should bristle with electronics, but aside from the two cameras mounted high on the front corners, another in the back and a guard in the lobby, there was nothing to stop him.
That’s not my problem, he thought as he dropped down to the ground and zig-zagged from shadow to shadow. Doctor Karla Johansen was in there. Dear Dr. Johansen. The soon to depart this life forever, Dear Dr. Johansen.
By a massive Oak he stopped and knelt to the ground as the shadows stretched longer and longer. Ten minutes at the most and then it was all over for her. See ya later, Karla baby.
He pushed away from the tree and ran crouched over until his back pressed against the concrete footings that supported the building’s glass sides. Rising up slowly he peeked inside as the elevator doors opened and she stepped out in a rush, waving to the guard on her way out the front doors.
Time to say bye-bye, Karla.
She looked nervous as he hurried along the side to intercept her at the door. Near the corner an edge of exposed aggregate snagged his black windbreaker and tore it. He froze, fearful the noise had ruined his perfect plan.

Three

I turned and stared into the deepening shadows, expecting to see him standing there. But when nothing materialized a sliver of fear ran down my back. I felt suddenly vulnerable even though whatever it was, was gone. Even the guard, illuminated by the glow of amber lights before the bank of monitors, was quietly reading his book, unaware of potential problems lurking beyond his pages.
I hitched my Pelican Laptop Carrier over my shoulder and nervously continued to the parking lot, unable to dismiss the fear that had made me stop and turn. Willard’s threatening letters had been vivid and explicit, and now my every step was tentative and I expected him to lunge out of the darkness towards me, slashing and shooting like he promised.
Well, wouldn’t he be surprised if he did. Weighing in a little over ten pounds my carrier had the heft of a feudal mace and could do some damage should he decide to come after me. Losing a laptop would be the least of my worries. Willard wanted me dead.
Being outside Building 504 only made matters worse. Imposing and nestled on ten sprawling acres, surrounded by distant concrete government offices, law firms, and empty parking lots, save for my little Mercedes I bought before coming to Washington, D.C., I felt desperately alone and tiny standing beneath its austere exterior.
Beneath my feet lay Bradley Watson’s labyrinth of illuminated tunnels, high speed elevators, offices and laboratories that served as headquarters for his special unit. All I had to do was turn around, but where would I go and whom would I seek once I did? They had all left. Even the book reading guard was gone.
I should have felt better beneath the watchful lenses of the strategically placed cameras, but I didn’t. Even though they kept the grounds under constant surveillance, my nerves tingled and I thought it ironic they might capture my death as I started across an endless sea of black tarmac.
As Mercury vapor lights flickered to life, I thought about the gun in my purse. Stopping to dig it out would waste time and in my heightened state, I didn’t want to shoot anyone who ran up on me unexpectedly. Instead I took a deep breath and clutched my keys tighter, promising myself a stiff drink when I got home; maybe two if I was shaking more than usual.
I was almost to my car when I recognized slapping footsteps coming up fast behind me. I tried to be calm as I activated the keyless remote, but knew I was panicking when the lights went crazy, flashing on and off in a vain attempt to keep pace with my jittery commands.
I was no longer concerned if someone was after me or just in a hurry to find a car. In my mind it was the night stalking Willard I had envisioned finally making his move.
Snatching open the car door, I leaped inside fumbling in my purse for the gun. Small and compact, Bradley had issued it as a precaution, said it was accurate, but I had proven him wrong at the range in Quantico. Jokingly he had said I’d be better off with a sawed-off shotgun.
Now that I was trembling in fear, I understood his reasoning and left the little Beretta on the empty seat beside me. My best defense would be distancing myself from whoever was coming.
The car roared to life when I turned the key, and as I backed out of my space, I spotted the guard running towards me.
It was too dark to distinguish details, but I felt foolish after I saw him and slumped into the seat when he stopped beside my window. I looked up sheepishly to the piece of paper he was holding. I felt like such an idiot. I must have dropped it and he was kind enough to return it.
Ka-bam!
My window was halfway down when a thunderous roar followed a brilliant flash that lit up the insides of my car. Shards of glass peppered my face and neck and my shoulder burned with intense heat as I stomped on the accelerator, rocketing the Mercedes backwards.
Ka-bam!
Another blast shattered the windshield.
Oh, My God! It’s him! Oh, My God! Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!
“Stop the car, bitch! I’m not through with you.”
I slammed the brakes hard, stopped and shifted into drive.
Drive! Drive! Damn it Karla, Drive!
Ka-bam!
The third blast pierced the front fender, destroying the tire.
Oh, my God!
The Mercedes lurched and careened into a maple tree.
No! No! No!
Hysterical, I groped the far seat for the gun, hoping to find it in time.

Four

I blinked several times, and then rubbed my eyes. They scratched as though someone had dumped a bucket of sand in them.
I wasn’t dead which surprised me, but in a hospital, in a bed, attached to monitors and leads, analyzing my system’s progress against a steady melody of bleep, bleep, bleep.
Propping myself up on an elbow, my entire body ached and my shoulder stiffened painfully halting my attempt to reach a nearby water glass. I tired to work out the kinks, but my survival had come at an expense.
I pressed the call button on the bed beside me, and settled back to wait as a familiar feeling of dread started to rise. I hated hospitals. It was a personal thing, rooted in my past, a memory I’d just as soon forget.
I didn’t like being confined to a bed either. It suffocated my independence, made me feel claustrophobic. Another one of those personal things.
The wide face clock on the wall said twelve, but I couldn’t tell if it was midnight or noon; the shades had been drawn, cutting off the outside world. As the second hand turned laps, it occurred to me that for once in my life time didn’t matter. It just didn’t, not after realizing I should have died in that parking lot.
I was congratulating myself for having found the courage to fight back when a tall nurse hurried through the doorway of my room. Her face was corrugated with concern, and her dark eyes darted back and forth between the machines, searching for telltale signs of trouble. When she couldn’t find anything wrong, the frown relaxed and she smiled warmly.
“What’s the matter, honey?”
“Water,” I croaked.
Behind the nurse a water pitcher clanked with ice cubes. I hadn’t noticed the aide who had followed her in. Dressed in a striped pink and white smock, she was young, probably a high school volunteer and looked surprised when I sputtered a rough ‘thank you,” drank it down and asked for more.
The nurse said, “Good to see you’re awake. The doctor will be pleased to see you. He’s right down the hall. You feeling like eating something, honey?”
I watched as she rounded the foot of the bed to the other side. I took another swallow and tasted blood as she shut off the monitors.
“How long,” I grimaced. I drained the last of the water and held it out for more, then coughed, rattling something loose in my throat.
“How long for what, sweetie,” the nurse said offering a Kleenex.
“How long have I been out?”
A nasty tasting slug slid down my throat. Unless something had penetrated my neck, the only explanation for the rawness was an ET tube. And to be intubated, I had to be unconscious and probably fighting for my life.
The aide took the glass and filled it again. This time when I drank, it was cool and refreshing.
“Three days,” answered another voice.
I hadn’t noticed the doctor enter either. He stood to the side, watching with an intense stare that belied the casualness of the others hovering around my bed.
“You’ve been in and out of consciousness for three days,” he continued. “Most of the wounds were superficial. Mainly pieces of glass in your face and neck. You were lucky. The bullet grazed your shoulder. A fraction of an inch to the left and you’d be dead.”
I nodded. He still wasn’t saying why I’d been unconscious or why I needed to be intubated. I could only guess. My medical background was limited, but I knew superficial wounds were not enough to induce coma-like symptoms for three days. It suggested more and I pressed him for answers.
“So, why three days?”
With a flick of his hand he dismissed the nurse and aide. They smiled reassuringly and closed the door as they left.
The nameplate on his wrinkled overcoat hung crooked and I had to tilt my head to read Ben Harris, M.D. as he moved closer to my bed and said, “You were hysterical and went into convulsions. Post traumatic reaction.”
I averted my eyes. Being praised for killing someone was not what I wanted to hear, even if Willard had been a murderer. He still wasn’t answering my question, which bothered me more than the uncomfortable pain.
If something more had happened, something beyond being shot, I wanted to hear about it. Leaning forward I grabbed his forearm and held him fixed with a steely gaze.
His indecision confirmed my suspicions. Something more had happened; something I couldn’t remember.
“I put you under,” he said. “Nothing more than a strong sedative, but enough to give you time to cope with the stress. You were panic-stricken, on the verge of an acute nervous breakdown. Once you settled down I intubated you as a precaution.”
The words carried a harsh sting. I had seen the procedures before and they weren’t a pretty sight. I covered my face, hiding my embarrassment.
“Listen to me, Ms. Johansen. You’ve been through a lot. Even the strongest person has a breaking point. It’s a physiological response, a form of self-preservation. You couldn’t have stopped it even if you wanted to. That’s just the way our bodies works. Overload it and it will shut down.”
“I know,” I murmured still feeling embarrassed. “I just didn’t expect it to happen to me.”
“No one expects it,” he countered. “Not even a Psychologist.”
“Does anyone know?” I asked.
“If you mean your co-workers, they brought you in.”
“Ah, God,” I groaned.

Chapter One

May 7th, Baraboo, Wisconsin

The Brother watched from the church, as Melissa Jensen was the last to get into her car and leave. It was late. The sun had already set and shadows were gathering across the cemetery that fronted the tiny Chapel. She waved as she headed down the steep incline and he waved back, saddened by her departure.
The Ladies Auxiliary had just spent the last two hours going over a few remaining details for the upcoming Fourth of July celebration. Gladys Hawkins had insisted on having a picnic and it had cost a small fortune renting sufficient space near Lake Delton to accommodate all the parishioners. He had pulled a few strings with the prices, but over holidays it was difficult to find any deals. At least they had a pavilion and a beach nearby.
Captain Jack found such celebrations a novelty and routinely dismissed the displays of fireworks and pompous parades as nonsense. Personally, he had never felt the need to celebrate the murder of British troops although he had fought enough to know that if they ever caught him, their celebrating would go on for days, if not weeks. They called him the Butcher.
Intense heat seared his brain and he fell to his knees with his head held tightly between his hands. He rolled onto his side and began to pant, blocking out all thought of who and what he thought he was. Instead he concentrated on Melissa and found that if he kept her image before his mind’s eye, the burning dwindled until it was only a dull ache. It became even less when he started thinking about her.
She claimed to be happy, but he wasn’t so sure. Divorce was never easy and the struggle to raise two little girls was taking a toll on her. She was weakening. Lingering. Soon the delicate morsel would come seeking the Brother’s advice.
When he was finally able to stand, he could not remember whatever had triggered the blinding pain that had sent him sprawling onto the ground. Nor did he want to recall it. It was unwise to trifle with such errant memories.
Instead, he continued to think about Melissa Jensen. She was a fighter, unlike the drunk in the chamber who was becoming a bore, whining and crying all the time. The taste no longer satisfied him. Perhaps in a day or so, he’d make him a permanent member of his growing flock.
Then he could concentrate on Melissa in earnest.

Chapter Two

May 8th Washington D.C.

On the outskirts of Washington, D.C., in a dingy room at Muhammad’s Motor Inn adjacent to I-495, Vincent lay in bed watching the ceiling fan turn round and round. The bullet hole in his left arm was mending nicely. If not for the protective vest under his windbreaker it could have been much worse.
In the corner the television droned as CNBC rehashed his attempt from a week earlier. He knew the first shot had hit her, but according to their reports had only grazed her shoulder. He had called the hospital to check, but it had been a waste of time. For all he knew, she could have been discharged already and didn’t like the idea of slipping in to confirm it.
But, he would find her again.
The computer beeped, completing his search. He swung out of bed and scrolled through several versions of her name. None provided pictures, but he remembered enough to eliminate two by age and a third by race. The fourth and fifth were promising. He printed out #4.
The information was sketchy: Karla Johansen, white female, age 33, graduate of Psychology University of Ohio, 1999. Filed Ohio tax returns 1995-1999, Maryland 2000 to 2004. Current address, 1232 Beaumont Street Baltimore, Maryland.
He tabbed down to five. Karla Johansen, white female, age 31, graduate of Psychology University of Wisconsin, Madison, Filed Wisconsin tax return 1993-1999, Maryland 2000-2004. Previous address: 2700 White Chapel Lane, Baraboo, Wisconsin. Current address unknown. Moving the cursor up to Wisconsin Tax Returns he highlighted the address and pressed print.
From an atlas in his briefcase, he thumbed to Maryland, then to Baltimore and an insert of the sprawling metropolis. Beaumont was a cul de sac on the Upper East Side, off Interstate 95. Close enough that if he left now he could finish and be back by sunrise.
He packed what he needed and quietly slipped out the back door, avoiding the glare from the motel’s main office. In his waistband and concealed under his black windbreaker, the 40-caliber auto rode comfortably.
While he crossed the parking lot, he decided he needed a new car. The ratty Honda would stand out where he was going and he wanted something more appropriate. That too was necessary. He had to be as invisible as the darkness. To be anything less was unacceptable.

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