An ambulance is waiting on the tarmac near the Jetway at Gate 14 of International Terminal 5 at O’Hare International Airport. Its emergency lights are strobing and the driver is waiting patiently for the flight from London. With the driver is a Customs Agent to clear the patient and his medical assistance team for entry into the United States. The driver speaks.
“This must be pretty important to have you and me here to meet them.”
“No kidding. I’ve never done this before, but it happens from time to time. Do you know what’s wrong with the patient?”
“Not really. I just have instructions to take the party to Rush Presbyterian-St Luke’s Hospital in Chicago as soon as you clear them.”
“I hope this goes well, I’d hate to hold him up and have him die this close to his destination.”
“Oh. It’s a guy? I didn’t even know that much.”
“Yeah—the Customs Office said his name is…” He looks at his documents. “Reiner Osterholt. He’s traveling with his personal physician and a nurse. All three are German citizens.”
“The guy must have some cash to be able to afford a private jet to use as a taxi.”
“I guess it could be one of those ‘Angel of Mercy’ flights. You know; corporations donate their aircraft and pilot to help critically ill or injured patients.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard of them. Hehe… Just when you think all corporations are scum, something like this comes up and it gives you new hope for mankind. By the way, I’m Gil, Gil Warren.” And Gil stuck out his hand to shake.
The Customs man accepts Gil’s hand and says, “I’m Bob; Bob Marley, and please, no jokes about my name. I’m sure I’ve already heard it.”
Gil smiles and says, “Good to meet you, Bob.” They continue their small talk.
Ten minutes later the plane is on the ground and five minutes after that, the Gulfstream G550 rolls to a halt near Gate 14. As the pilot shuts the engine down, the steward opens the passenger door and assists the medical team in carrying the stretcher bearing the patient down the steps to the waiting gurney.
Within moments, Gil is saying goodbye to Bob Marley and has his patient and the medical team loaded into the ambulance.
“No sirens, and when you’re off the tarmac, kill the lights. We want to look like a non-emergency trip, so watch the speed limit, too.”
“No problem. I assume the ‘patient’ is still out.”
“Yes, but no names.”
The nurse speaks. “Drop me off at Terminal 5 and I’ll meet you at our destination.”
After the brief stop, they ride in silence down the Kennedy Expressway. They exit at Armitage, crossover it onto Hermitage then zigzag on Wabansia, Ashland, Augusta and then Noble before they turn left down the first alley and, finally, they pull up to the secured gate between the Polish American Museum and the messenger service. Gill takes his remote out of his jacket pocket and punches in the security code. When the gate opens, he drives through. He sees that the nurse is behind him and he leaves the gate open for her.
Once they are in the parking lot, Gil backs up to the nondescript door and the nurse, using her remote, punches in the code to close the gate. The crew act in unison and guide the ‘patient’ and his gurney up to the door. Gil places his hand on the window and instructs, “Silent mode.” After the green light scans his hand the door opens, he pushes the gurney through the door. Rolf and Frieda follow behind him. When the door closes, the computer voice sounds.
Gil speaks. “Security protocol override: Golf 29143.”
The elevator starts its downward journey. At the bottom, the door on the other side of the elevator rises. The four exit and continue on to the interrogation room. Gil places his hand on the scanner and again invokes the security protocol override and the four enter. In a matter of moments, the ‘patient’ is transferred to what appears to be an autopsy table. When he is disrobed, his wrists and ankles are secured. For modesty’s sake, a white sheet is draped over his body. Finally, Frieda injects the ‘patient’ and he slowly begins to revive.
Ten minutes later, Gil takes the gurney back to the ambulance, peels off the bus wrap with the temporary company name and ambulance number, and returns the vehicle to its owners. Meanwhile, in the interrogation room, the questioning begins.
= = =
“I’m so tired. *yawn*”
“Tired? You’ve been sleeping for the last eight hours.”
“Yeah, now get up, Mike. We have to get ready for school.”
“Can’t we take the day off?”
“Riiiiiiiight! What happens when Uncle Pete finds out?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, why don’t we ask him? He’s in the kitchen drinking his coffee. Now get your bony butt outta bed.”
“Give me a kiss.”
“Sure. Walk over here and I’ll give it to you.”
Reluctantly, I got out of bed and put on my boxer-briefs. When I got to the door, I was rewarded with a kiss. “Let’s get cleaned up and eat,” Tim said, and we continued on to the bathroom.
Twenty minutes later we were in the kitchen and eating breakfast. Uncle Pete seemed preoccupied with something. In fact, he left without asking if we did our homework. That wasn’t unprecedented, but it was unusual. Tim sent him a text letting him know that we actually did it. Hehe. He texted back a one-word response:
We finished breakfast and made our lunches. I asked Tim if we should add condoms to the bag for our bananas and we both had a giggle-fit.
On the way to school, Tim and I were talking.
“You were really hard to wake up this morning. Wanna talk about it?”
“Tim, I was wrestling with my decision to not join the Gay Straight Alliance. I know I don’t want to come out, but I really do want to join the GSA. I don’t think I drifted off ‘til 2:30.”
“Yeah, that would explain the trouble I was having waking you up at 7:00. What have you decided?”
“I think I want to check out a meeting to see what they’re like. I think the first one is tonight, right after school in Mr. Harper’s classroom up on the third floor.”
“What about Ed Kirby, Mike?”
“He can come too, if he wants.”
“Hahaha! Like that’s gonna happen. Seriously, what if you get teased about it?”
“’Teased’? Is that what they’re calling ‘bullied’ these days? Hehe. I really don’t know, but I want to check out a meeting anyway. You know, just to see what they’re like.”
“And to see who else shows up?”
“Hehe. Well, there’s that, too.”
“OK, we’ll go there this afternoon. Do you think we should tell Jerry?”
“I think we should invite Jerry.”
= = =
“Are you awake yet Mr. Spencer?”
“Who are you? Where am I?”
“Mr. Spencer, you don’t seem to understand the rules. I ask the questions and you provide the answers. However, from your questions, I will assume you are awake. Mr. Spencer, you abruptly changed your holiday plans and departed five days early. That was quite costly for you, your wife and your daughter. What was your hurry?”
“I demand that you release me and–” But a slight shock running through his entire body caused him to pause.
“Mr. Spencer, you ignored the rules. Your failure to follow the rules earned you a minor punishment. You see, you are naked and lying on a metal table. The table is made of two parts and they have an insulation layer between them. When you are ‘disagreeable’, a voltage is applied to the left half of the table. Since the right half of the table is at earth potential, the voltage must travel through your body to arrive at the earth ground that it seeks. Again, sir, what was your hurry?”
“I didn’t leave early. I left on the intended day!”
“Mr. Spencer, let me warn you, since this form of questioning is new to you. I control whether or not you receive a shock, but the machine controls the amount of voltage, and much more importantly, the amount of current, that is applied. I will forgive this attempt to deceive me, but no further… what is that golf term you use? Oh yes, you will be allowed no further Mulligans. Sir, this is not a child’s game. I am quite serious. Let me ask once more. What was your hurry?”
“If I tell you, they’ll kill me!” Suddenly Mr. Spencer jumped and the straps on his wrists and ankles are all that held him on the table.
“That was shock level two, Mr. Spencer. If you do not tell me, I will kill you and then I will bring your wife here and begin the questioning anew. Is that your desire, sir?”
“No! Leave her out of this!”
“Very well, Mr. Spencer. Again, sir, what was your hurry to leave Raccoon City?”
“You must believe me, I was only following orders!”
“I do believe you, Mr. Spencer, but whose orders were you following?”
Spencer hesitated and again felt the shock, this time at level three.
“Whose orders were you following, sir?”
He responded quickly this time. “My stepfather’s! He told me to get out of Raccoon City and to go on holiday early.”
“Why did he order you to leave early, Mr. Spencer?”
He took a deep breath before saying, “Because Raccoon City was going to be destroyed.”
“So you left without giving any of the people of Raccoon City a warning. You saved yourself and your family and allowed the other innocents to parish. Is that right, Mr. Spencer?”
Just then a blue light out of Mr. Spencer’s field of vision flashed. The interrogator said, “Mr. Spencer, I will return in a few moments. Please remain still on the table. It has motion sensors that control the shocking mechanism.” Then the door opened from the outside and the interrogator exited.
= = =
It was lunchtime and Tim and Mike went to their lockers to dump their books and retrieve their lunches. After getting some milk to go with their sandwiches, they looked around the cafeteria. Not finding Jerry, they grabbed a table in the same general area where they normally sat. Jerry showed up a few minutes later and, after getting the ‘Mystery Meat Special’ du jour, he went over and sat with the boys.
I started to speak, but Jerry interrupted me. “Guys, I’m going to the GSA meeting tonight. Do you two want to join me?”
“Yes!” I said, “I was just about to ask you if you wanted to go with us. Hehe.”
“What a coincidence! Yeah–after what Ed said yesterday, I just wanted to go and give the others my support. You guys never met my cousin Danny,” Jerry continued. “Danny’s 23 and a working stiff now, but he told me that when he went to Lombard High, he was constantly bullied. I just want to help the GSA so that doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
“So Danny is gay?” I asked.
“Nope. He has a girlfriend and they’re engaged. The wedding is in June after school lets out for the summer. They bullied him because he was small and didn’t like sports. The brainless jerks assumed that he was gay because of that, and they were constantly calling him names. Then, in the summer before his senior year, he had his growth spurt and ended up at 6’3” and about 180. Finally he was able to get back at the jerks who were messing with him. He pantsed the leader of the group right here in the cafeteria and made him cluck like a chicken to get his jeans back. Then he told the jerk that as the leader of the asshats, he would have to pay if the bullying didn’t stop. It worked great, until he graduated.”
“Wow! That’s a fantastic story, Jerry! Your cousin sounds like a great guy.”
“He is. In fact, he’s a teacher here at Lombard High. He’s Mr. Harper, the History teacher. This is his first year and I think he has mostly first year students. He’s also the advisor for the new GSA chapter.”
“He sounds like a perfect match,” Tim said.
“OK, so it’s settled. We’re going to the GSA meeting this afternoon,” I said.
We continued eating and talking until the bell ending lunch rang. Then we were off to get our books for this afternoon’s classes. I don’t know about Tim and Jerry, but I can’t wait for the meeting to start.
= = =
“How is the questioning going, Rolf?”
“Pete, this man started talking after the second shock. I’ll have him volunteering information in a couple of hours. Most people can withstand up to the tenth level of intensity before they start talking. This man is a coward and he’s weak. I think we might be able to use him in the future, too.”
“Will the shocks hurt him? I don’t want to have to get rid of a body.”
“No. The voltage stings, but the amperage never gets out of the safe zone. We’re using much lower voltage and current than is used here in the U.S., but we’re changing the frequency of the electricity. The U.S., Canada and South Korea use 60 Hertz, or cycles per second, for their power frequency. The rest of the world uses 50 Hertz. We’re changing the frequency, not the voltage or current, so going between 20 Hertz and 100 Hertz gives the recipient the illusion that the jolt is stronger. His last checkup was two months ago and his doctor says he’s in excellent condition.”
“Good. How long before he gives us the information we need?”
“Relatively soon, I believe. I have a mock-up of the T-Virus injection device. It will leave the same marks on his arm as the real one, but the colored water in the device will just drain into the base of the cartridge, making him think he’s been infected. Then it’s just a matter of asking the right questions while holding the ‘antidote’ in front of him.”
“Hahaha! Rolf, you’re diabolical.”
“Pete, to make the effect work, I have chosen to show him the last video that your sister made. Have you seen it yet? It’s extremely graphic and I don’t want you to be bothered by it if you haven’t.”
“Yes, I’ve seen it and don’t worry. I’m not the squeamish type. Do whatever you feel is necessary to get the answers.”
A few minutes later, the interrogation room door opens and Rolf walks in and up to Damian Spencer. Spencer’s eyes almost bulge out when he sees his interrogator is wearing a hazmat suit. Then he sees what the man is carrying: the injector gun and two clear cartridges for the injector, one has blue fluid in it and the other one has green. He displays his nervousness at the sight.
“Mr. Spencer, I see you recognize what I’m carrying. Do you have any questions about it?”
“Only a request; please be careful!”
“Oh it’s alright, sir, I have my protective suit on.”
“I wasn’t worried about you.”
“Mr. Spencer, that is a very selfish attitude. It is what got you into this predicament in the first place. Are you ready to begin questioning again?”
“Do I have a choice?” As soon as he spoke, he again felt an electric shock. He jumped and, thanks to the restraints, he remained on the table.
“Sir, you were given your chance to ask questions and you had none. Please only answer the questions.”
“Yes, I’m ready to answer your questions,” he said with resign.
“Good. Let’s move along. Since you know what I’m holding, it won’t be necessary to explain it to you. Where did Umbrella intend to sell the T-Virus?”
“It was never to be sold! That would be mad!”
“Mr. Spencer, you seem to have lost your fear of the electrical shocks. Please look at the monitor over your head.” Then Rolf pressed a button on his console and the last minutes of Terri Morales’ life appeared on the screen. He pressed the pause button and continued. “Sir, this is a newswoman from one of the Raccoon City television stations. She is in a very dangerous place and looking for the daughter of one of your employees. She is in the girl’s grammar school. One would think that this would be a safe environment, but do you notice the fear in her face?”
Spencer nodded then says, “Yes,” before he was shocked yet again.
“Sir, her fear was the result of what this blue solution can do. It is extremely dangerous, but she is willing to risk her life to save the young girl. Unfortunately, she was found by others before she could find the little girl.”
Then he pressed play and the video continued. Terri had set the camera down and continued recording as she searched for the girl. She was startled by a noise from behind her, and as she turned, you could see the terror in her face. First it could be heard, then the camera recorded the children slowly walking over to Terri. She couldn’t force herself to hit the children until they were upon her; then it was too late. Rolf pressed the pause button again.
“Mr. Spencer, the destruction you witnessed was caused by the blue liquid in this cylinder. Again I must ask you, where did Umbrella intend to sell the T-Virus?”
“North Korea and Iran,” he said sheepishly in a very quiet voice.
“Thank you, sir. My next question is critical. Think carefully. Were any shipments made to anyone?”
“No, it wasn’t ready to be shipped yet. The emergency occurred before we were ready to ship. That’s the truth, so help me God.”
“Mr. Spencer, you have tried to give false answers before, but today I hold in my hand the ultimate truth serum: the T-Virus.” And with that, Berghoff lifted the sheet and injected the ‘T-Virus’ into Spencer’s shoulder.
Spencer tried to pull away, but his movement was met with an electrical shock. “That was level five, Mr. Spencer. Please do not move again; level six will have you crying out in pain.”
As Spencer watched, his interrogator removed the ‘T-Virus’ cartridge and replaced it with the ‘antidote’.
“I have only one question remaining, Mr. Spencer. Depending on the answer, you will either receive this antidote or you will be allowed to transform into one of the creatures that you see on the screen before you. Do you understand, sir?”
He nodded and said, “Yes!”
“Mr. Spencer, where is your step-father?”
= = =
Gym class was over and Tim and I hurried through our shower so we could meet Jerry before going to the meeting. Although my hair was still a bit damp, we exited the locker room and went to get our books and backpacks. Then it was up to Mr. Harper’s room on the third floor. Jerry and Mr. Harper were standing at the door and talking when we got there.
“Hey guys,” Jerry said, “this is Mr. Harper.”
“Hi, sir. It’s good to meet you. Jerry told us an amusing story about you when you were a student here,” I said.
“Jerry has a vivid imagination; just remember that I’m the History teacher, not him. It’s good to meet you guys, too.” And we all shook hands and Tim and I introduced ourselves to Mr. Harper.
“Mr. Harper, when is the meeting starting?” Tim asked.
“Tim, you’ll have to ask Nathan Shurr. He’s the moderator, I’m just the advisor.” Then he called over to him. “Oh Nate. Would you come here for a minute?”
“Be right there, Mr. Harper.”
We saw a slim guy walking towards us with a stack of papers in his right hand. As he got closer, he shifted them to his left hand and stuck his right hand out towards Tim, who accepted it and they shook.
“Hi, I’m Nate Shurr, the moderator of the GSA chapter. What can I do for you?”
When Tim released his hand, he extended it to Jerry and then to me. We introduced ourselves and Tim again asked when the meeting would be starting.
“The meeting was supposed to start at 3:15, but since this is the first meeting, I’m delaying the start a few minutes to make sure everyone has arrived. This is a big step for some of the guys and girls and I want to make sure we’re not too quick in getting underway with the first meeting. I think we should start about 3:30.”
I spoke up next. “I’m not sure what to expect here, but I’m looking forward to finding out what’s going on.”
“Yeah, the first meeting is usually like that. First I’ll do my best to put everyone at ease and then let everyone know what we’ll be doing. If you have any specific questions, I’d appreciate it if you’d wait till the meeting starts. Probably a few others will have the same questions or concerns. For now, why don’t you guys go in and take a seat and relax? It’s 3:25, so only five minutes to go.”
We thanked him and Mr. Harper and walked in. The student chairs were set up in a semicircle so everyone could see all of the other kids. We grabbed three and, again, Jerry sat in the middle. So far there were five other kids here. I didn’t see anyone I knew, but I had seen a couple of them in the halls. Jerry has been in Lombard all his life, and he called to three of the others, two girls and a guy. To look at these kids, none of them looked gay or lesbian, but I’m sure I didn’t look gay to them, either. Finally, Nate returned and pulled a chair up to the center of the semicircle.
“Hello everyone, I’m Nate Shurr and I’m the moderator of this chapter of the Gay Straight Alliance. How many of you have belonged to a GSA at another school?” Only one hand went up. “Good. I have someone to lean back on. Hehe. This is the first meeting of the Lombard High School GSA and I’d like to go around the room and have each of you introduce yourselves. Only use first names for now, and you don’t have to say what your sexual orientation is if you don’t want to.”
And so the meeting started. Most of the kids only gave their first name and didn’t mention sexual orientation; that included Tim, Jerry and me. One of the guys was adamant about being straight and then he started going off the deep end about how we were all going to hell if we didn’t get on our knees and pray for Jesus to forgive us. Mr. Harper was in the back of the room and started to get up when Nate spoke up and said, “Dave, quit goofing around. You’re going to scare the crap out of all these people. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Dave, my boyfriend.” A nervous giggle started and Jerry crumpled up a sheet of paper and threw it at Dave. Then we all laughed and got back to the introductions.
Nate explained that the GSA was NOT a dating service and public displays of affection –PDAs– were not acceptable in the meetings. Then he let us know that the purpose of the GSA was to have the LGBTQ community work with the Straight community to show everyone that sexual orientation was not all of anyone’s life, it was only a small part of it. He handed out some information sheets that included emergency telephone numbers for the Trevor Project and the Suicide Prevention Hotline, among others. By 4:00 PM we were feeling very much at ease and were disappointed when we found out the meeting was ending. Nate told us that the information sheet also had his email address on it and that he would be sending out a newsletter to all who wanted it. To subscribe, all we had to do was send him an email with the word “subscribe” in the subject.
Before we left, Nate asked the group to help put the chairs back in rows for tomorrow’s class. As we were putting things back in order, I noticed that most of the people were talking and laughing. On the way out, Nate reminded everyone that the next meeting was Thursday. Jerry, Tim and I thanked Nate and told him we were looking forward to the next get-together and as Tim and I walked out, Jerry ran back and said goodbye to his cousin. When he returned, we walked over to the Dairy Queen for an ice cream cone. Tim reminded me that we had to get home and start supper, so we said goodbye to Jerry and headed home.
On the way, we commented to each other about how relaxed we felt during the meeting. We didn’t know what to expect, but what we got, we enjoyed. When we got home, we started the potatoes and the chicken and had the side vegetables ready to go and made the fresh salad. Then it was off to check email and we sent an email to Nate to sign up for the newsletter. Then we saw that Matt Spencer had sent each of us several emails and each one was more urgent than the last. His dad was missing! We got on Skype and called him.
“Tim, Mike, I’m scared shitless! Dad has been missing for 24 hours now. He was supposed to have a late meeting at work, but it seems he never got there. The police have been trying to track the GPS on his mobile, but with no luck. They’re telling us to expect a ransom demand and if one doesn’t come soon that… that he might be dead.”
“Matt, that really sucks! Is there anything we can do to help at this end?” I asked.
“I can’t think of anything to do here or there. *sigh* I just hope he’s OK. You hear about businessmen getting kidnapped all the time, but I never paid attention to them. Shit! Dad’s not a big wheel or anything. What could they want with him?”
We let Matt vent and Tim and I took turns running to the kitchen to check on the food in the oven and on the stove. Matt had to hang up at 6:00 PM, midnight his time. Right when we were expecting Uncle Pete to walk in, we got a call from him. He had to work late on a special project and he might have to go out of town for a couple of days. He reminded us to do our homework and if anything happens to check with the neighbors. We said we would and he hung up. Wow! “When it rains it pours,” as Grandma Morales used to say all the time.
We had supper and made a plate for Uncle Pete and put it in the fridge in case he came in. Then we did the dishes and got our homework done. Finally it was time for our shower, but neither of us was up for the fun and games part. We were worried about Matt’s dad.
= = =
At 21:00 GMT, Darian Spencer had just finished his shower and had dressed in his laundered undergarments and his cleaned and pressed three-piece business suit. The interrogator spoke.
“Mr. Spencer, you’ve made the right decision. We’ve shown you the videos of you admitting your foreknowledge of the destruction of Raccoon City. If you decide to go back on your word, sir, I guarantee that the videos will be forwarded to MI6. When you wake up, you will be in a Paris hotel. You checked in 24 hours ago and you are scheduled to leave by noon on Wednesday. Please don’t be late. That hotel is notorious for charging another day for being even one minute late when checking out.”
Mr. Spencer agreed. He didn’t notice the person behind him aiming the air gun at him. He felt a slight jab in the back of his neck and he started to lose consciousness; same as he had 24 hours earlier. Once he was asleep, a new ‘doctor’ and ‘nurse’ took over. By 22:30 GMT they were in the air. At 00:15 GMT they were leaving U.S. airspace and the ‘doctor’ called his adopted sons.
When the call was completed, he sat back down with Jill Valentine. “Has our French contact arranged for the ambulance for us?”
“Yes he has, and for our car to drive the Chunnel to England. Why did you insist we drive there?”
“Hehe. I’ve never been in the Chunnel.”
“Hahaha! You ass!”
They had almost seven more hours of flight time to go so they stretched out and got some sleep. They’d need it.