The alarm goes off on Wednesday morning at 7:00 and the boys, groggily and reluctantly, come back to life. After a quick trip to the toilet, Tim returns to let Mike relieve himself. When Mike returns, Tim says, “Something seems different… it’s too quiet this morning.
“Yeah, and something else is missing, but I can’t place it,” Mike responds. But they shrug it off and return to the bathroom to wash up and brush their teeth.
After that’s completed, they go to their wardrobes and get their clothes out for the day. The boys wanted to get some name-brand T-Shirts, but Uncle Pete said it was foolish to pay extra so they could advertise for Nike or Under Armour. So the boys opted for sweatshirts. Mike grabs a Chicago Bears and Tim goes with the Chicago Bulls. “It’s different with sports teams,” Uncle Pete told them. “You show your pride for your teams by wearing their logos.”
The boys finish with their blue jeans and sports shoes. Again, Uncle Pete said, “If you boys want a pair of shoes that cost $150, then you can get jobs and buy them. Until then, stay in the $50 range.” The boys couldn’t believe that Uncle Pete wasn’t channeling their parents. Once they were dressed, they combed their hair and went out to the kitchen for breakfast. That’s when it hit them… the other thing missing was the smell of coffee. Uncle Pete wasn’t in the kitchen. Mike checked his room, but it was empty. Tim called Mike back to the kitchen; he found a note on the fridge.
I have some things to do out of town. I should be back in a couple of days. There’s money in the usual place, but just because it’s there doesn’t mean you have to spend it all. Eat healthy while I’m gone. If anything comes up, get with the folks next door.
I love you both,
“Wow! That was sudden.”
“No kidding. I wonder where he went.”
“I wonder if he’ll tell us. Hehe.”
After breakfast, the boys made their lunch and headed out to school. Doing their homework regularly has another effect on the boys. They find that their studies make better sense because they actually understand what’s being taught.
The morning is uneventful, but after lunch, during his Geometry class, Tim feels his phone vibrate, but he doesn’t dare take it out to check it. Lombard HS has a zero tolerance policy for texting during class. That’s OK. Class will be over in a few minutes. When the bell finally rings, Tim waits until he’s in the hall before checking his phone. The text was from Gary Kern:
we go 2 RC tonite
Tim meets up with Mike on the way to Gym and as they walk there, he shows him the text.
“Oh shit! I really wish I didn’t know this. We can’t even do anything for 50 minutes when Gym is over.”
“I know, Mike. What should we do? If what Uncle Pete said is true, getting arrested is gonna be the least of their worries. Didn’t Uncle Pete tell you where the code sheet for sending messages is?”
“After school we have to send a text to Uncle Pete, but we have to code it. If anyone else gets it, those guys could be screwed,” Tim answers.
But for now, the boys have one more class to get out of the way. Today’s sport is basketball and the boys are put on different teams and even in different games. They have two 5-man teams playing each other on a half-court. That’s 20 guys on the court and 8 guys ‘resting’ and waiting to come into the game. The coaches are fair and make sure that all the guys get about the same time in the game. Tim’s team picked up a win, but Mike’s team lost by one point. All in all, both games were pretty good.
Tim explained his team’s win logically: “I wore #23 on my Bulls sweatshirt. Michael Jordon was looking down on me.”
“Hahaha! What is he, Tim, an angel? Where’s he’s looking down on you from, heaven? You’re fucked in the head.”
“Hehe… maybe. But MY team won.”
The boys skip showers so they can get home sooner. When they arrive, Mike takes out the notes that Uncle Pete left for them and the boys start working on an innocent sounding text to send to their guardian. When they have it, it’s sent and now the boys just hope that Uncle Pete gets it in time. Three hours later, they still haven’t heard back from Uncle Pete.
In the meantime, the boys checked their email and have a message from three more German Club members, and Alan Carlisle sent a message saying that Mr. and Mrs. Berghoff have checked in. That leaves only five people unaccounted for.
“We’re getting there, Tim.”
“Yeah. Now if Uncle Pete would just let us know he got our message. *sigh*”
“While we wait for Uncle Pete to reply, what should we do for supper?”
“Come on, Tim, is that healthy?”
“Sure! Whole grains in the crust, plenty of veggies, starting with tomato sauce, protein from the sausage and pepperoni, and don’t forget the dairy from the cheese. What could be healthier?” Tim asked smiling.
“Hahaha! You’re going to get us sent to the orphanage for sure! Let me call them. Get the stuff out for the salad so we don’t get killed,” Mike laughed.
After dinner, the boys cleaned the kitchen and got started on their homework. “You know, Mike, homework is getting easier and easier.”
“No kidding! I used to really fight with Mom about doing it. *sigh* I was such an ass. At least Uncle Pete is giving us a second chance.”
“Yeah. I wonder what it is that Uncle Pete really does for a living. Has he ever hinted, Mike?”
“Not really. You know, I was never really concerned with it before Mom died. He was just Uncle Pete.”
“Yeah. As bad as losing our families was, having Uncle Pete has saved us a lot of grief. Imagine if he didn’t want to take us in?”
“OK, that’s enough of this depressing talk. Let’s take our shower and get to bed.”
With Uncle Pete gone for the night, the boys put their books and homework away and started stripping as they walked to their room. They grabbed their towels and headed back to the bathroom. Once they brushed their teeth, Tim turned on the shower and the boys got in and slid the door closed. Tonight the boys were tired, so they kept play-time to a minimum, but they still washed each other. When they were clean, they turned the shower off, got out and dried each other.
Tonight they left the door open, turned the lights off, and climbed into bed naked.
“What time is it, Tim?”
“10:25. Goodnight, Mike. I love you.”
“Goodnight, Tim, I love you too.”
The boys shared a quick kiss and in a matter of minutes they were sleeping.
* * *
“Gary, it’s 2225 hours. We made good time on our bikes.”
“Yeah, Jeff, I didn’t expect to get here before midnight. Now we follow the plan. We know that the guards are using random check-in times, so we have to be careful so we don’t get caught. Let’s put our radiation suites on. We have the jumpers to use on the fence. Let’s find a secluded place to cut into the fence.”
“Right. Put your night-vision goggles on and test them before we need them.”
“Mine are working, Jeff. How about yours?”
“Man! It’s not like daylight, but it’s a lot better than totally dark. Let’s go over to those trees. They should hide us from any guards when we cut the barbed wire.”
“Roger that. There are three barbed wire strands here. Let’s get the bypass jumpers in place. Once we cut the barbed wire, we can carry our radiation suits in and reduce the risk of cutting them with the barbs or razors.”
“I’m glad we ran those trial runs now. We need at least a 4 foot section to get us and our equipment through. Let’s get the 10 foot jumpers and clip them onto the fence. Remember, the jumper is insulated and won’t harm us. I’ll connect the jumper to one side of the fence and you connect to the other side. Once we’re connected, we each cut one strand of the barbed wire at the same time. Got it, Gary?”
“Just like we practised, Jeff.” And the twins connected three jumpers, four feet apart. When the third jumper was in place, the twins stepped back to their tool bag to get their cutters.
That’s when it happened. Without warning, two darts hit their targets and the boys were out almost instantly. Their two attackers, dressed in black, walked up and checked to be certain that the boys were out. They were. Next they removed the jumpers and coiled them back up and returned them to the kit the boys carried. They policed the area to be sure that nothing was left at the scene. Finally, one of the attackers walked a quarter mile and retrieved their black Chevy Suburban. They loaded the boys and their gear and bikes into the Suburban and drove off.
* * *
On Thursday morning the alarm sounds again. Again the boys unwillingly arise. Speaking of “arise”, both boys have their morning wood. Mike makes a mad dash for the bathroom, and, fortunately, Tim can hold off until Mike is done. When Tim is finished, the boys again go through their morning routine to get ready for school. As they are eating their breakfast, the boys check to see if Uncle Pete has tried to contact them yet. He hasn’t. Now the boys are getting worried; it’s been a day and he hasn’t responded to their text yet. After making their lunches, they hurry to school to see if Ms. Hart can help.
They catch her in the faculty parking lot and ask point blank if she knows where Uncle Pete is and if she knows when he’ll be back.
“Wow. You guys are pretty worried, aren’t you? First off, I honestly don’t know where Pete is. His company has him take trips all the time and sometimes the trips are out of the country. If he told you when he’d be back, just hold on and wait for him. Now, as for your friends, have you tried calling them?”
“Ummm… no Ma’am,” Mike answers, more than a little embarrassed.
“That might be the best route until Pete returns,” the teacher tells them.
“Yes Ma’am,” the boys respond. And the three of them enter the school.
Tim and Mike fall back so they can call the Kern twins. Surprisingly, Gary answers on the second ring. The twins tell the guys that they’re OK, but they have to get to class or get a detention. They promise to call back that afternoon at 4:00 PM.
“That’s one problem out of the way. Now if only Uncle Pete would call or text back…” Mike says absently.
“Mike, I believe Ms. Hart. And the twins are OK and back at school. I guess all that’s left is to wait for Uncle Pete to call.”
“Yeah, you’re right. For now, let’s get this school day over with.”
* * *
The boys got home by 3:15 and looked through the fridge for something for supper. Tim found some frozen pork chops and decided for them both.
“The microwave has a ‘Defrost’ setting and the package says these weigh nine ounces. If we hit ‘Defrost’ and ‘6’ it should do it.”
“Ummm… OK, but why six?” Mike asks.
“Silly, I read the book. Nine ounces is just over half a pound, so six equals six tenths of a pound.”
“Tim, I take back everything I ever said about you being stupid. How will we cook them when they’re thawed?”
“I was thinking I’d fry them. It should take about 15 minutes, so we have to put the potatoes on 30 minutes before that so they’re ready at the same time… Wow! I think I just figured out why we had all those word problems about one train traveling east at 60 miles an hour and another train traveling west at 45 miles an hour! It helps when you cook stuff that has different cooking times!”
“Haha! Way to go Einstein! What time do we have to put the veggies on?”
“They should take 15 minutes, too, so when I start frying the pork chops, you can put the veggies on, Mike.”
“Tim, this cooking stuff is easier than I thought. We didn’t have to have pizza last night.”
“Yes we did. I wanted pizza last night.”
The boys get to work on supper and had everything ready to cook at 3:45. They had over an hour before they had to start cooking, so they powered up their laptops and checked email. No new word on the unaccounted for kids yet, and Uncle Pete hadn’t sent an update, but Tim found Gary on line and started a video link with him.
“Gary, what happened? Did you chicken out on going to Raccoon City?”
“Nah, man, we went. We made great time on our bikes, too. We got there about 10:30 and started planning how to get through the security barbed wire when we faded to black.”
“What? What happened?!?” Tim asked.
“The best Jeff and I can figure is that the security people got us with some kinda tranq darts. The only thing that doesn’t make sense is that when the tranquilizers wore off and we woke up, we were back in Cedar Rapids in the park near our house. We had all our stuff except the radiation suites, night vision goggles and some of the cables and jumpers we were going to use to get into Raccoon City. We also had a note. It said not to try again or they would play for keeps!”
“Who were they?” Mike asked.
“We don’t know! We were out like a light as soon as the darts hit us and when we woke up we were alone in the park with our stuff,” Jeff responded. “When we realized where we were, we rode home and snuck in quietly so we wouldn’t wake Grandma and Grandpa.”
“Then we just got up and went to school as if nothing had happened,” added Gary.
“Man, you guys were lucky they didn’t turn you into the cops… or worse!” Tim commented.
“No shit, Sherlock! I kinda wish we’d listened to you and Mike when you told us not to try,” Gary admitted.
“Well, you got back OK. That’s the main thing.”
“Yeah, and without the radiation suits, we can’t even try again, not that we’re inclined to,” said Jeff.
* * *
At 3:00 the previous morning, two figures, dressed from head to toe in black, dragged the unconscious boys from the Suburban to the park bench and sat them there, leaning on each other. Then they got the boys’ bikes, and finally, their personal belongings.
Once the boys came to, the figures in black monitored their movements. Satisfied, they started the Suburban and drove off. As they departed, they allowed themselves to speak for the first time since they got to Raccoon City.
“Well, Frieda, does that remind you of the old days?”
“Rolf, if you mean my high school days and babysitting, then yes. If you mean our time spent in the Mossad, it wasn’t even close. The boys were mere children. As much as they talked to each other, it’s amazing that the military didn’t find them before us.”
“Haha! True! OK, we left them close to home and we watched them gather their things and go home. What now?”
“Pete said to come to Chicago. He might be able to find another job for us. Face it; Raccoon City no longer needs German teachers.”
“Very true, Frau Berghoff.”
* * *
In the present time and in a warehouse on Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago, two figures are working in a make-shift lab.
“Gil, I think the blood we got from Jill was perfect! All the testing has given exactly the results that Greg said to expect.”
“Yeah, it’s a good thing you guys were friends, Pete.”
“He was more than a friend, Gil, he was my lover. The four years we were separated when we went to college is the longest that we had been apart in the 30 years that I knew him… starting with kindergarten. We were inseparable. We were like my nephew Mike and his boyfriend Tim.”
“Yeah. Hehe. I caught them taking a shower together the other night. I said I’d be home at 11:00 and returned at 10:40.”
“Hehe. What did you do?”
“What could I do? I snuck back out and stayed away for 20 minutes. Hahaha.”
“Haha! Ever the understanding uncle, eh?”
“They’re both good kids, Gil. I’ve known them all their lives. When Raccoon City was destroyed, I never even considered not taking both of them to live with me. I’m not related to Tim, but Tim Senior & Laura were great friends of mine and Tom & Terri’s. We were always together. It wasn’t a case of ‘how can I?’ it was more of ‘how can I not?’”
“Yeah, I can understand that. But how did you come to trust me?”
“To be honest, Gil, I ran you through the system and came up with zero negative findings. Bad guys can never get a zero. I know I can’t. So it was easier than you might think. Add to that the fact that you were working with Terri on her exposé. In fact, it was Terri who requested the background check on you.”
“I’m not surprised that she did. I think I would have done the same if the situations had been reversed. So what happens now?”
“Well, Rolf and Frieda are working on replicating the serum in larger quantities so we can send ten samples to each of the labs on our ‘Safe’ list. All of them have zero negative findings as well. Once the serum is shipped, the Safe Labs will be able to replicate the serum in a matter of hours. If it’s kept frozen, it has an indefinite shelf life, so keeping a backup supply should be no problem.”
“Well, Pete, aren’t you going to suggest a mass distribution of the serum, like they did for Polio in the 50s?”
“No. That could cause a panic, and it looks like destroying Raccoon City also destroyed all the T-Virus samples. There doesn’t seem to be a need for the anti-virus at this juncture.”
“What will we be doing for the next day?”
“Gil, we have to figure out a shipping plan. We have to ship the samples quickly and safely, but if we us a single carrier, we might cause a blip on the screen.”
“We have plenty of carriers, both domestic and international, to choose from. Let’s get to work.”
* * *
Meanwhile, the boys are still Skyping with the twins…
“So what kind of accommodations do you guys have?” Gary asked.
“Let me get the camera and swing it around the room,” Tim answered. “Here’s the door, to the right is my wardrobe and dresser, then the closet in the corner. Next is the first window with a view to the rear of the house. Next is Mike’s dresser and wardrobe, followed by our desks. On the next wall is another window with a view of our neighbors’ house, and finally our stereo, video and game systems. Along the fourth wall is our bed.”
“‘Our bed’? You guys sleep together?” Jeff asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Umm… yeah. Don’t you guys sleep together?” Mike asked.
“Yeah, but we always have! Shit! We’re twins!” Jeff defended.
“Well, Tim and I slept at each other’s house every weekend, more often during the summer, and we always shared a bed. What’s wrong with it?”
“Nothing… it just seems strange that two guys who aren’t related would share a bed, that’s all,” Gary countered.
“We might not be related by blood, but we’re at least as close as you guys,” Tim said.
The twins smirked and gave a knowing glance to each other. “Oh yeah?”
Tim and Mike returned the smirks and said, “Yeah.”
“Hahaha! No way! You guys date girls!” Jeff said.
“And you guys don’t?” Tim countered.
“Touché,” Jeff responded.
“Hey,” said Greg, “do you guys want to have a circle jerk?”
Mike and Tim whispered quietly off camera for a moment. When they finished, both boys were smirking again. Tim spoke this time.
“Yes, on three conditions. First, we’re going to record the entire thing, your side and ours. Second, if this gets out on the Internet because of you guys, we release our videos, too, to show it wasn’t just us involved. And third, no faces showing. I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t think many people could identify me by my privates. Hehe.”
Jeff and Greg confer for a moment before agreeing.
“One more thing,” Mike says, “we’re turning off our microphones so neither of our voices gets out.”
Again, Jeff and Greg agree.
Just then, Tim and Mike hear a muffled voice in the background at the twins’ end. Jeff looks at the camera and says, “That’s Gram; she said supper is ready. What time is good with you guys?”
“Name it, we’re home alone. Uncle Pete is out of town until tomorrow,” Mike answers.
“OK, 9:30 tonight. Grandma and Grandpa go to bed at 9:00 and they sleep like logs,” Greg says.
“9:30 it is,” Mike says, “See you then.”