Greetings and Salutations astonishing readers of the blog,

Welcome back to story time. Today we are continuing Monday’s tail. If you’re tuning in for the first time, I recommend going to Monday’s blog to read episode one of this exciting story. We left Guy in quite a fix. So without further delay here is episode two of Juggling Time.

Juggling Time (cont.)

Guy woke in a white room. The sheets, draped over him, blended with the walls that bled into the ceiling. He blinked trying to clear his vision. His nose itched, but when he tried to scratch it he pulled against restraints. He thrashed his arms and legs wildly against the straps. He threw his head back and screamed, “NOOOOOOO!”

A barely discernible door opened and a figure in a white lab coat walked in. “Welcome home Jude. Or should I call you Judas.”

“Fuck you.”

“Fuck you, doctor, if you don’t mind.”

“I do mind. I mind like hell.” He clenched his fists imbedding his fingernails into his palm.

“Come now Jude, what’s not to like? It must be better than living on the street. Your year of freedom drove you to stealing food to survive. Living in a box on a subway grate. Riding the rails like a hobo from the thirties. And finally, a street performer for chump change.”

Jude clenched his jaw and scanned the whiteness looking for telltale signs of cameras and microphones he knew had to be there.

“We feed you quite well, I might add. You have a comfortable residence. Twenty hours a day you can do whatever you want. And still you run away and betray us to the media. Seriously, did you think we wouldn’t find you?”

“It took you almost a year,” he sneered. “Another month and I would have been long gone.”

“There’s no accounting for incompetence, is there? I must say, out of all the monikers you adopted to hide from us I liked Guy Lafitte best. You pronounced like the French, oui?” The doctor moved to the foot of the bed. “To support your Canadian passport I suppose. I don’t know what you paid, but I think you got ripped off. It would never have gotten you across the border. It was, how you Americans say, cheap imitation, non?” She spoke the last line with a heavy French accent.

“What do you want? I’m tired. I need sleep.”

“I doubt that very much since you slept like the proverbial baby all the way across the country last night.”

Jude started in surprise. “I’m back in Langley?”

“I’m afraid so.” The corners of the doctor’s mouth lifted in a humorless blood red smile.

“Sorry to say there will be no more outings after that little show you put on.” The slow shake of the doctor’s head infuriated Jude. “It’s a shame really. Your fellow students enjoyed getting off campus once in a while.”

“Students! You mean lab rats don’t you? Let’s cut through the bullshit and call it what is shall we, Dr. Stone? Or have you changed it to Dr. Frankenstein?”

“There is no need for this animosity between us. If you cooperate, I will get your privileges reinstated. If you don’t, you will remain here staring at white walls all day. It’s up to you.”

“You’re wrong, doctor. It’s not up to me. I’m a prisoner. Whether I’m in restraints or roaming around the residential wing with my fellow rats. I’m a prisoner. Doesn’t matter if I’m eating steak or that slop you shove in a feeding tube. I’m a prisoner. As long as I remain here, I’ll always be a prisoner.”

“I’m sorry you feel that way.” Dr. Stone turned on her heel to leave. She paused near the wall and the door popped open revealing itself. “I’d hoped we could find some common ground to rebuild our relationship on.” The door disappeared back into the wall in her wake.

“Relationship? It takes two to have a relationship. Take off these restraints you cunt. So we can Get Physical, Physical,” he sang off key. Jude propped himself up on his elbows and directed his comments to where he thought the hidden camera watched over him. “I’m afraid you’re delusional doctor. You should see a shrink. Ask Dr. Baird what he thinks. He’s a team player. He’ll tell you what you want to hear.” He dropped back down to the mattress. “Another thing. If you think I’m performing for visiting dignitaries, you better think again. Fuck you and the test tube you crawled out of.” He thought for sure she’d come racing back in to read him the riot act, but she didn’t. He’d have to try harder next time.

###

In the observation room Dr. Baird took notes on a legal pad in front of a bank of monitors on which Jude raged from his bed. “The C word, that’s a nice touch.”

Dr. Stone came through the door like a linebacker. “Damn it to hell. Why does he have to be so difficult?”

“Are you asking my professional opinion?” Baird replaced the cap on his fountain pen and turned to face Stone.

“Of course I want your professional opinion. That’s why I asked you to observe for Christ’s sake.”

He took a deep breath and blew it out slowly. His control pushed her buttons. It was one of the few things that gave him joy these days. He crossed one leg over the other and clasped his hands on his knee. “He’s very angry.”

“You don’t need a doctorate in Forensic Psychology to see that. The guy who cleans the toilets could have told me that much. Get with it Baird. I need to reach him.”

“First let me say, pointing out his failures and dismissing his accomplishments while he was on the lam does nothing to alleviate his resentment.”

“I know that, but he baits me.” Stone paced several steps and stopped. “Did you hear what he called me?”

Baird was barely able to suppress a grin. “He’s your prize pupil, and he knows it. He’s not giving up anything until he gets the respect he feels he deserves.”

“What the hell does that mean?” She ran a hand through her short blonde hair.

“If you treat him as an equal, let him come and go as you do, afford him the same courtesy a team member would receive, except me of course, maybe, just maybe, you will convince him to participate as a volunteer.”

“That’s not going to happen.”

“No, of course not. Which means he’s correct. He is your prisoner.”

“What’s that leave me to work with?”

“Let me dig into some case studies. During the Second World War, prisoners in a Japanese internment camp built a bridge for the enemy. They were treated badly. And yet, they built this bridge the Japs were unable to build for themselves. It gave the prisoners self-worth, dignity, an opportunity to rub the noses of their captors in their failure. They lost sight of the fact they were assisting the enemy, in spite of the awful conditions they worked and lived in. They had pride.”

“So what? I should starve him, threaten him, and let his ailments go untreated?” She blew a breath of air up moving her bangs, which fell back into the same position.

“You left out brutally kill his fellows for the smallest of infractions while he stands by helplessly.”

“I’ll get started on that right away. Who do you suggest I kill first?”

“Let me get back to you.” Baird uncrossed his legs. “I mean on the motivation, not who to kill first, just wanted to clarify.”

She waved him off and took a seat in front of the monitor.

“Dr. Stone,” he hesitated looking for the right phrasing. “I’d like to reiterate my position on Jude’s confinement. Let me see him. Maybe I can reach a—”

“Indeed, because you were so effective last time. I recall it was your suggestion we allow them to leave the compound. That set us back a year or more.”

“At least take off the restraints.”

“All in due course doctor.” She turned back to face the monitor and opened her tablet.

When Baird reached the door, he took a moment to observe Stone’s behavior. She pushed herself hard. If she didn’t let up, she would crack soon. Silently he thanked God he was not responsible for her mental stability.

The expensive industrial carpet deadened the sound of his steps as he walked past magnificent art on loan from the Smithsonian. Art he no longer saw, let alone appreciated. He’d become jaded to his posh working conditions long ago. The gourmet meals had become as tasteless as his work. Experimenting with human beings to enhance their unusual abilities was the fodder for science fiction novels. Yet it didn’t stop those in power from speculating. CIA funding eliminated any consideration the research would be used for humanitarian reasons. Baird doubted there was a humanitarian within a hundred miles of Langley.

In his plush office, he called up the video feed of Jude on his computer and muted the sound. Dr. Stone had determined that depriving Jude of stimuli would coerce him into cooperating. Baird thought that idiotic. His sessions with Jude showed a young man comfortable with his own company. He interacted with his fellow students, not out of a need for their friendship or approval, but because it would be rude not to. Baird determined the best way to reach Jude was to deprive the others as a consequence of his actions. He wouldn’t share that particular opinion with Stone. She was all too willing to allow these young people to suffer for what she considered the greater good. Aside from lining Stone’s pockets and enhancing her resume, he could see no greater good.

Baird periodically checked the monitor while he busied himself making notes and reviewing the progress of the others. Jude lay in his bed, eyes closed as still as a stone. He seemed to draw into himself. Baird watched for the rise and fall of Jude’s chest to make sure he was breathing.

The other students showed little improvement on the drug cocktail administered by Stone and her group of scientists and neurologists. A young woman who displayed empathic abilities was inconsistent and showed little if any development. Another young man could solve puzzles and see patterns where no one else could. Yet he was unable to decipher encrypted messages the way they had hoped. The rest all had actually backslid after the supposedly enhancing drugs were administered.

Jude had been the only one to respond to the drug regiment. He’d been off them for almost a year. Baird wanted to know if his prowess with manipulating time diminished. The night they picked him up Dr. Stone had restarted his daily treatment immediately. Baird looked up from his notes to see Jude fade from the screen for a moment. He removed his glasses then knuckled his eyes. “I need a nap.” He got up and turned on his electric teakettle. Pacing back and forth he considered the enigma that was Jude Westin.

In high school, he broke records in every sport he took an interest in, tennis, baseball, wrestling, and martial arts. Baird’s preliminary workup indicated Westin, Jude had exceptional eye hand coordination. Stone’s team tested him to impossible levels. It was Stone herself who discovered what no one else could figure out, including Jude. Somehow he was able to slow down the action so that he had time to react to whatever came his way. That little observation moved her into the driver’s seat of the Research and Development for the Gifted Program. A pretty title for what they were doing. Fucking with the minds of a dozen kids. If they managed any kind of results, the program would be enlarged. That scared him.

And that in a nutshell was Stone’s goal. The fly in the ointment, she needed Jude to do it.

Baird decided to call it a day. He dumped out his cup of tea, reached to shut down his computer when Jude flickered from the screen again. “Oh hell.” He wrote a note to have someone check the video feed tomorrow. He hated confronting the techie’s, especially with an intermittent problem. He knew in his heart they would not see the glitch and would blame him somehow.

TO BE CONTINUED

Is it true, are all IT departments alike? Give us a shout out if you have an IT story that begs to be heard. Or if you’re one of the blessed individuals that understands how these things work and you want to shame the rest of us. I’ll repost your comments.

Tune in on Friday for the final episode of Juggling Time. Don’t mention this to Digger. As with anything of merit we have traditions here. One of those is wrapping it with a quotation. This quote comes from Jami Gray’s Urban Fantasy Series The Kyn Chronicles. This one is from Shadow’s Soul from Raine McCord’s point of view.

“Maybe paranoia was just raising its ugly head, but she couldn’t shake the feeling she and Gavin were on the edge of something much bigger than even she could guess at. If so, it meant their career as lab rats may be far from over, and it wasn’t just the humans they’d have to be wary of.”

You can reach Jami Gray at www.jamigray.com to catch up on the Kyn or her other two series currently in publication. Tell her Dave sent you.

 

Jami Gray

Thanks for tuning in,

Dave Benneman

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