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by John L. Morgan III
Part 4 of 4
Last issue: in brief, Jamie and Mike got on a plane to Rhode Island to track down a serial-killing omega. Mike then decided that the last victim was in fact the killer, committing suicide, until the policewoman who had brought them and the FBI agents to the scene was murdered through electrocution, the killer's modus operandi. He then decided that the killer had become a kind of energy being, while Jamie, confused about her dead father, went back to her hotel room. After waking up there, she sensed her father's ghost right before the killer, glowing blue and sparking electricity, attacked her. Phew.
Jamie opened her eyes slowly. Unsure of where she was, she suddenly felt her body fall away into a dull aching pain. Mike had his hand on her shoulder and was leaning over her in a crouch.
His voice was desperate as he asked, "Jamie, are you all right?"
She stared at him, confused, and then she remembered: Paul, or whatever he was now, had been attacking her, about to kill her, and she had drifted off, calling her father's name. As she blacked out, the door had flown open behind Paul and someone had ran in. Was it Mike? Could that only have been a few seconds ago?
Karen's voice was sharp behind Mike as she barked, "Back away from her."
Mike stood up, and Jamie could see the FBI agent behind him, a gun held out in front of her as she scanned the room.
"I caught a glimpse of him, but he left when he saw me," Mike said. Karen walked slowly into the room and looked into the bathroom, holding her gun out and jerking it towards the corners.
Indicating Jamie, Mike said, "I need to make sure she's OK."
Jamie, surprised at her own recovery, pushed herself up with her right hand and said, "I'll be all right."
Henry entered and asked Karen, "Everything clear?"
"I think so," she responded.
Mike was staring at Jamie as she stood up. "What happened to your hand?" he asked. When she stumbled he walked up to her, grabbed her by the shoulders, and helped her to the bed. Jamie was annoyed that she actually needed his help. She was shaking slightly. Mike held his hand to her forehead. "I think she's in shock," he said.
Karen, uncaring, stared down at Jamie. "What happened?"
Jamie looked at her, too weak to resent her coldness, and responded after a moment, "Paul, or whatever he is now, was here. He tried to kill me."
Mike turned to Karen and said, "I saw him. He was made of blue and purple fire, like an electric current shaped into a man."
Karen narrowed her eyes at him. She holstered her gun and said, "How convenient that Henry and I didn't see him."
Mike, more angry than Jamie had ever seen him, yelled at her, "If I hadn't run to get here she might be dead now. She's in shock and we need to get her to a hospital, and personally I don't care what you think about anything right now, you goddamned bitch."
Karen's eyes widened, and behind her Henry scowled. Jamie laid her right hand on Mike's arm and said, "I'm OK." She paused, satisfied that she had slightly lessened the tension in the room. "How did you get here so quickly?" she asked.
Mike looked at her and explained in a soft voice, "I sensed Paul at the house, or rather I sensed him leaving. He was following you, and I could pick up enough of the trail he left to follow him. He's some kind of ghost now, an electrical being who can pass through things and yet also touch and affect them. I lost his trail somewhere in the hotel, but then we heard you screaming and I ran ahead and found you."
The FBI agents behind him had identical frowns. Karen said, "I don't believe any of this. Not to blame the victim," she said mockingly as she looked at Jamie, "but I think it's more likely that Surge here, who looks fine despite being attacked only moments ago, left us on purpose to stage an encounter that supports her partner's ridiculous conceit that Paul Trumbell is the killer and somehow is still alive."
Mike had turned and was looking at her, his face contorted with rage. "I hate you," he said.
"Then how fortunate your working with her is over," someone said from the door. Everyone turned to look. Ed and Teresa, wearing SIRECOM jumpsuits, stood in the doorway.
"Who the hell are you?" Karen asked.
Henry turned to her. "They're the two attaches from SIRECOM that dropped off Surge and Tracker. They got off the plane with them and then drove off."
Teresa stepped forward. Her face was impassive, but something in her body language indicated a kind of satisfaction. To Jamie she looked like an angel come to save them. Teresa handed a printout to Karen. "Agent Weller, these are your new orders. Your superiors faxed them downstairs just a minute ago."
Karen stared at her, her nostrils flaring, and then she quickly scanned the sheet of paper. Henry took a step towards her, and she looked up at him and said, "We're being removed from the case."
He stared at her in surprise. She looked back at Teresa. "How is this possible?" she asked, sounding more surprised than angry.
Teresa stared back at her unresponsively, and behind her Ed answered, "After Mike called Gerald from the Vogels' house and explained the situation, he decided this case should fall completely under SIRECOM jurisdiction, and your superiors in Washington agreed."
Henry looked at Karen. "I knew we never should have let him use the phone," he said.
Teresa looked at him and then pulled a small black object out of her jumpsuit. "That reminds me," she said. Handing it to Mike, she added, "A long overdue piece of equipment for you chasers."
Mike stared at her in confusion, and then he examined the object. Seeing a button on the top, he pushed it. The catch opened and the object folded out into a cellular phone. Smiling, Mike looked up at Teresa. She turned to the FBI agents and said. "You can pick your tickets up at the airport. Your flight leaves in an hour and it takes about forty minutes to get there."
Everyone was silent. Finally Karen said, "This is outrageous."
She walked out and Henry lumbered after her. Ed shut the door behind him.
Jamie let out an enormous sigh of relief. "Thank God," she said.
Teresa looked at her. "What happened?" she asked.
Mike quickly responded, "I'll explain later, but I think she might have gone into shock."
Teresa leaned over Jamie and checked her vital signs. "She's fine, although I'm going to get her an aspirin." Seeing Mike's worried expression, she told him, "Omegas have excellent immune systems."
As Teresa went into the bathroom, Jamie looked at Ed. "What's the deal?" she asked. She could hear Teresa begin to clean up the glass and blood in the bathroom.
Ed answered, "Gerald agrees with Mike's assessment that Paul Trumbell is now a ghost. While not a common occurrence with omegas, there are a number of reports that support this idea. It was the excuse Gerald needed to get rid of the FBI. Have you found any further evidence of exactly what Paul is now?"
Jamie smiled sardonically. "Well, he attacked me." Ed had no reaction. Teresa, overhearing, came out of the bathroom. "Mike got here in time. He can sense the trail he leaves behind."
Both of the SIRECOM attaches turned to Mike. He said to them, "Sort of. I think what happened is he found a way to replicate the electromagnetic patterns that keep our hearts beating, energize our cells, etc. The murders must have somehow taught him how to strengthen those patterns, to the point where he could keep them going outside of his physical body. Now he's a kind of electrical being, able to pass through matter or influence it at will, and with each killing he gets stronger."
"Can you track him from this hotel?" Ed asked.
Mike looked around room. He was quiet, and then he looked as if he saw something over by the table. "Yes," he said.
Mike clicked open his new phone, dialed quickly, and said, "I've lost it."
Jamie clutched herself. It was one in the morning, pitch-black outside, and she and her partner were in their car by the docks along the Pawcatuck river. The rain had yet to show any sign of tapering off. It sleeted down the front windshield, a constant rain of new drops impacting the wrinkles of falling water.
Luckily the chasers always brought a large amount of equipment with them, and out of the selection Mike had chosen a special gun that shot taser darts, which would hopefully disrupt the electrical current of Paul's new form. Ed and Teresa had also brought special electrical disrupter bombs, grenades that send out pulses that break up patterns of electromagnetic waves they encounter. There were only two of them and they were very fragile, but the hope was that one of them, if ignited close enough to Paul, would dissipate the patterns that were keeping him coherent and in essence, his new form would be erased and he would be as dead as his physical corpse.
Teresa had been correct in judging Jamie to be healthy. She felt fine, if a little anxious to get the mission over with and go back home. She was frustrated that so far she hadn't done much to help. Mike had shouldered the load. She looked over at him. He was listening to Ed and Teresa, who were half a mile behind them in their car. He had followed Paul's trail here, periodically having to stop and look around to pick it up again. He was still dripping from having gotten out of the car a minute ago to look around, and after reentering he had told Jamie he wasn't sure where Paul had gone from here. He occasionally said "Yes" or "No" into the phone as he looked out through the windshield at the rain.
Jamie looked out the window at the docks. Rhode Island had once been a major industrial center, and Cadence was one of the few towns for which this was still true. Jamie's father had been a dock worker in a town not far from here. She looked at the enormous cranes and unloading machinery. Was this what he had seen when he'd gone to work everyday?
"Don't think about him," she reminded herself. She glanced at the warehouse, and heard her mind click with some hidden connection. Confused, she looked at the warehouse again.
"Warehouse, warehouse, where I have I heard about a warehouse recently?" she thought.
She had it.
"Mike," she said, turning to him.
"Just a second," he said into the phone, and covered it with his hand. "Yes?" he asked, looking at her.
"Paul worked in a warehouse when he was alive, right? Maybe that's the one," Jamie said, pointing at it. Mike looked out through the rain.
"Why would he go there?" he asked.
"He killed Dee in the house he grew up in. Maybe he's drawn back to the places he's lived in. After all, he can go anywhere. Doesn't it make sense to go to places that he lived in? It would be easiest to kill people in environments he knows." Jamie was proud of the clarity of her thought.
"He also tried to kill you in the hotel room," Mike said. "Maybe he's waiting for us in there because he knows that's where we'll look for him. He's hoping to ambush and kill us both."
Jamie stared at him.
He sighed and lifted the phone up to his mouth. "Guys, we're going to go and check out the warehouse. Stay close in case anything happens."
Mike hung up the phone, his lips thin from being pressed together.
The warehouse was dark and they entered it cautiously.
Jamie fell into step behind her partner, whose omega-enhanced vision was unaffected by the blackness. Rain dripped through the ceiling boards, making the floor slippery and surrounding the chasers with the sound of falling water.
Jamie was about to ask Mike if he sensed anything when she bumped into a wooden crate. She grunted involuntarily and clutched her side in muted pain. Her eyes had begun to adjust, and she could see Mike turn to look at her.
"Be careful," he whispered. "If you knock the bomb too hard it will break."
Jamie nodded. "Can you sense him?" she asked.
Mike shook his head. "No, but you know my clairovoyance is a little iffy."
Jamie felt her nervousness push her to babbling. "You mean how you can pick up mental images from dead people and see throughwallpaper, but not know if there's an energy being within 100 feet?" she aksed, louder than she meant to.
Mike turned to her and was about to speak when he whipped his head around.
"He's here," Mike said in a strained whisper.
Jamie scanned the enormous warehouse. All she could see were the black square shapes of packing crates and the occasional glint of a raindrop catching light that fell through the cracks in the ceiling.
She turned to Mike and watched him turn all the way around, his eyes darting back and forth.
"Can you tell where he is right now?" Jamie whispered.
Mike looked at her, his forehead wrinkling and his mouth frowning. As he shook his head "no," a blue glow appeared behind him, and suddenly he was flying towards her.
Jamie jumped back and Mike fell face down in front of her. His body landed on the side where his disrupter bomb was attached to the belt of his jumpsuit, and as he hit the ground it sounded a crack that Jamie knew meant that it was broken. She looked up from her partner and saw Paul Trumbell, a ghostly blue sparkling man, grinning evilly and staring at her with pupiless eyes. Her gut convulsed in fear, and he leaped forward at her hesitation and pushed his hand right through Mike's back.
Mike's body convulsed, and Jamie widened her eyes in alarm. She reared her right arm back and slammed it into Paul, her omega coursing current along the length of it and propelling Trumbell backwards. He flew through several large wooden crates, the blueness in his form brightening and lighting up the room.
Jamie glanced quickly at Mike, who looked comatose, and then stepped over him and ran towards Paul. He was crouching backwards on the ground, and as she vaulted over crates to get to him he looked up at her and smiled. Just when she had reached him he got up and ran to the left with surprising speed. Jamie whirled around but she wasn't fast enough and he suddenly had his hand on her shoulder, pushing her down with the shock of electric bolts arcing along his purple arm.
Jamie stumbled and then, before she sunk to the ground, swept her left leg into Paul. Her omega crackled against his sparkling figure, and his face registered his pain as he lost his grasp on her and fell to the side. Jamie quickly punched him down with her left hand but he caught it in a grip that seemed to press electric current against her fist from all sides. She tried to pull her arm back but before she could Paul glowed brightly and an enormous wave of force pushed Jamie backwards.
She stumbled into a crate behind her but managed to stay on her feet. Paul jumped to his and smiled his evil grin at her. He moved to leap into her when suddenly a spot on his chest shined brightly and he clutched it in pain. Jamie looked to her left and saw Mike, leaning on a crate for support and holding his electric dart gun in front of him and aimed at Paul.
Paul looked at Jamie again and quickly swiped his left arm at her in a streak of angry electricity. It slammed her in the upper body even as Mike fired again, and Jamie fell towards the floor. She twisted quickly to prevents her disruption bomb from breaking the way Mike's had, and ended up landing on her head with a loud crack. She looked up through her pain and saw Paul struggle backwards as one dart pierced his chest and then another. As Jamie lay there and fought for her consciousness she realized how quiet the fight had been. There was the distant sound of rain, the soft cacophony of water dripping in the warehouse, and the crackling static of electricity. Jamie's eyes fell closed despite her efforts to stay awake and fight through her pain, and she realized that there was another sound, a sharp one that cut through the rest. It was the sound of a phone ringing. Blackness descended on her as Jamie thought, "It's Mike's new phone."
Paul's upper body was beginning to break up as Mike continued shooting at him, swiftly reloading before Paul had a chance to recover. But Paul wasn't being hurt enough to destroy him and Mike was running out of darts.
Suddenly a car burst through the entrance to the warehouse. It crashed into wooden crates as it screeched to a stop, the high squeal of its tires punishing Jamie back into consciousness, and she looked up to see Karen fly out of the driver's side with her gun ready.
Instantly Paul jumped through the crates between them and was upon her, his hands pushed through her chest and bolts of electricity arcing around them both. She opened her mouth in a silent scream and fell to the ground, Paul following her and grinning malevolently as he sucked the electromagnetic energy from her body.
Henry jumped out of the passenger side of the car and began shooting at Paul, but the bullets passed through his blue form without hurting him. Mike quickly recovered himself and began to shoot his last darts at Paul's head, which rippled like water and then reformed with each shot.
Jamie, realizing that if they didn't stop Paul before he killed Karen they would all be dead, charged through her pain and managed to reach down and unhook her disrupter bomb from her belt. She pushed herself up, her vision flashing red.
Karen's body began to weaken in its convulsions, and Paul was glowing brighter every moment, his sparking body lighting up the warehouse like a fierce azure sun. Mike shot his last dart at him, and Paul smiled as the dart impacted against his figure and had no effect.
Jamie's eyes widened in fear. She tried to concentrate but her vision was blurring and she knew she was going to pass out again. They were doomed.
A voice in her head spoke: "Be strong."
Jamie gasped as she recognized her father.
Paul was grinning evilly at Mike as Karen's body fell to near-stillness, when suddenly he looked to his side and his face opened in a scream. He was tossed by an invisible force from on top of Karen and into the car.
Jamie, suddenly clear-headed and on her feet, hit the half-second delay on the bomb's detonator and threw it at the driver's seat of the car. Paul, his glow dimmed slightly, was standing up, his body cutting through the car, when the bomb fell onto the seat below him and released an enormous white flash. Everyone covered their eyes except for Jamie.
She stared into the whiteness and for a moment saw the darkened form of her father, looking like he had the day before he'd died, waving goodbye to her.
Then the flash slipped away and the warehouse was dark again.
Ed was talking to Mike by the window in Mike's hotel room while Teresa took Jamie's temperature. She was lying on the bed and felt fine, if a little tired.
"You hit your head pretty soundly, but you don't seem to have much of a concussion," Teresa said, and she shook her head. "I've studied omega biology, but this is a level of hardiness I'm just not used to."
She smiled at Jamie, looked at Ed, and said, "We'll be back to check on you in an hour."
They left the chasers alone.
Jamie looked at Mike in front of the window, his body silhouetted by the glowing curtains, lit up by the rising sun. Mike said to her, "Ed told me we'll get out of here in a few hours when they're sure you're OK."
Jamie smiled at her partner. "I'm fine. Did he say how agent Weller's doing?"
Mike sat on the edge of the bed. "Just that she's in the hospital and may have a heart irregularity now, but they think she'll make it."
Jamie frowned slightly. "Do you think it's our fault-"
Mike interrupted her, "Karen made her own choices. I don't know if she deserved almost getting killed, but I do know that she should never have driven into that warehouse, not knowing what was going on and in violation of her orders, even if she did think we were crazy and wouldn't be able to handle what was going on."
Jamie stared at the ceiling, white with the light from outside.
"Why do you think my father became a ghost?" she asked.
Mike frowned, and said, "Who knows? He may have been an omega, you must have gotten it from somewhere."
Jamie squinted at the ceiling. "He died from a heart attack," she said, seemingly at random.
Mike began, "I could come up with some technobabble explanation-"
"Please don't," Jamie said.
They were silent.
Mike looked down at his partner tenderly, and then said quietly, "Jamie, when my sister died four years ago..."
Jamie looked at him in wonder. Misinterpreting her look, perhaps deliberately, Mike said, "It was a car accident."
Jamie smiled slightly, and nodded. Mike looked meek as he continued, "After she died, I struggled for a long time. And finally I realized there was no point in struggling. One of the things I always stress about in my relationships is the effect I have on the person I'm with. Am I helping them or hurting them?"
Jamie listened closely as Mike said, "The thing is, when someone dies, we don't have any control over them anymore. They're free, and in a sense, we are too. Free to love them, to hate them, and after that free to keep on feeling whatever we decide. I think grieving is, or should be, deciding how to feel. And once you've done that, even if it takes years, then you can go on with your life."
Mike frowned, and Jamie could tell he was worried he'd been preaching, or that he'd said the wrong thing. "But he hasn't," she thought.
She put her hand on his shoulder. "You're right Mike," she said happily. "You're right."
He smiled, and she looked past him at the dawn she could glimpse between the curtains. It looked like it was going to be a clear day, with a beautiful sky, equal parts deep, clear blue and pure white clods of cloud.
Soon she would fly home.
The end of "Ghosts."
Possibly in a month or so: "Jigsaw." Jamie and Mike go to California, where one of the many crazy people that live there has developed telekinesis and broken out of an asylum. But will the two omegas stop arguing in time to save the man's wife from his schizophrenic obsessions?
Copyright 1996 John L. Morgan III
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