The body count increases this week as the battle between good and evil intensifies. Have our heroes found a solution? Will they be able to do anything with it in time without being caught?
Find out in this week’s installment of No Pain, No Gain
No Pain, No gain – Part 14
Haybrook hurriedly got dressed and went to his lab. Gini was just waking up as he entered noisily.
“What is it?” she asked mid-yawn. “Have you found a breakthrough?”
“Not exactly,” he answered.
He explained his latest development to her and saw the crestfallen look that crossed her face.
“No. This is not a negative,” Haybrook said. “Don’t you understand. We can now more accurately test our solutions on me. I am a duplicate of the conditions faced by the anomalies. It’s perfect.”
“Except we have a time limit and your condition might affect your thinking.”
“That’s true, but the time limit was always there and if we’re successful, my thinking should not be affected at all. The physical changes appear to be the first manifestation of the condition.”
“I hope you’re right. You and I are the only ones working on this and…”, Gini trailed off as her phone vibrated.
“What is it?” Haybrook asked.
“Isn’t Jeremy Alberg one of the Kongo Fit board members?”
“Yes, he is. Why?”
“He’s been reported missing. He was last seen leaving Kongo Fit after yesterday’s board meeting.”
“That’s interesting, but probably not related. He’s a rich man. He could be off doing just about anything. I’m sure he’ll turn up.”
“Maybe. It’s just a weird coincidence,” Gini said.
“Probably. Now, let’s get to work before I turn into the Incredible Hulk.”
“Funny, but not really,” Gini said.
“Mr. Alberg, a member of several corporate boards, was reported missing when he did not make an appointment last evening. He was last seen leaving the Kongo Fit headquarters during the late morning yesterday. A widespread aerial search of the area between the headquarters and his home is being conducted.”
Hanson felt his skin crawl as he listened to the radio news on his way into the office. Alberg had left Kongo Fit after meeting with him. Their conversation had made him hopeful that the wrongdoing within the company would be exposed. Now he was crestfallen and he feared for his own safety. There would be no press conference. There would be no high-powered help. He was in this alone with his only hope resting with Dr. Haybrook. He didn’t feel a great deal of confidence in their ability to succeed. For the moment, he needed to alert Haybrook and then get himself to safety. He pulled to the side of the road and phoned the department administrator. He wasn’t going into the office today.
Joyce felt a strong pull at her mind. It wasn’t just the creature she became trying to suppress the last of her human consciousness. It was the collective consciousness of the ‘others’ around her. They seemed to be connected to each other like some ESP network. The pull was strong, but it was not threatening. It was almost comforting. It had an underlying mantra that was almost like a kind of white noise. She couldn’t make out the words at first, but now they became more clear as she focused on them. It was a constant repetition of the phrase kill the humans, kill the humans. Joyce tried to resist the message. She knew it was fundamentally wrong, but it was so comforting and soon she gave in to it’s message and bought in to it’s mission. The humans did this to them. They were inferior, they must pay.
Electricity didn’t work. Gini and Haybrook already knew this, but it had to be tried. Gini had connected Haybrook to electrodes that were gradually elevated to the highest level possible without killing him and when they tested his blood, the nanotech cells were still functioning normally. It was as if they had some type of regulator that adjusted to the higher voltage.
“Killing the hosts will stop the technology,” Haybrook said after the painful electrical shocks failed to be effective.
“This makes us no better than the evil leadership at Kongo Fit,” Gini said.
“It’s a last resort, of course, but we have to consider it.”
“That would mean you…,” Gini started.
“I know,” Haybrook responded. “Let’s not worry about that. Let’s try the next test. We have some chemicals that we can try out that might yield some results.”
Haybrook sat in a chair and bared his right arm.
“Yes, Mr. Hanson. I hope you feel better,” the department admin said.
“Thank you. I’m sure I will.”
“What should I tell the detectives?”
“Yes. There are two detectives, Stern and Burgess from the Albuquerque PD that came by to see you this morning.”
“Did they say what they wanted?”
“No, but the rumor is that it has to do with Mr. Alberg. Did you see the news this morning?”
“Yes, I did. I’m not sure why they want to talk to me,” Hanson said. “Why don’t you give them my cell phone number and they can call me instead.”
“I will sir. Now, get some rest.”
“Thank you. I will,” Hanson said as he disconnected the call.
He felt discomfort in the pit of his stomach. The detectives obviously suspected some kind of foul play in Alberg’s disappearance. They likely knew he was the last to meet with him at Kongo Fit. Did they consider him a suspect? If so, he didn’t help his case much by calling in sick today.
As he pulled in his driveway, his cell phone rang. He didn’t recognize the local number, but answered it anyway.
“Mr. Hanson? This is detective Stern from the Albuquerque PD. I understand that you’re feeling a bit under the weather today.”
“Yes, I am feeling a bit ill.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. Do you think you might be up to answering a few questions? I promise it won’t take long.”
“Sure. What can I help you with?”
“I’d prefer to ask in person. Are you at home?”
“Yes. I am.”
“Can my partner and I come over now and take care of this?”
“Yes. That’s fine. Let me give you the address.”
“That won’t be necessary. We already have it. We’ll see you in about 15 minutes.”
“Okay. I’ll be here.”
Hanson felt relief as he hung up the phone. The authorities were involved. He would simply tell them the truth. They couldn’t help but believe him now that a high-profile person was missing in connection with all of this. He went inside his house to wait for the detectives.
Blaylock answered his burner cell phone for the third time in two days. He didn’t like this pattern, but apparently events that were occurring necessitated it.
“Sorry to disturb you, but I figured you would want to know this right away.”
“What is it this time?”
“It’s Hanson. He’s turned on you.”
“Hanson? Really? Why do you say that?
“He and Alberg met yesterday.”
“Yes, I’m aware of that. I assumed Hanson would give him the party line BS about the technology. Are you saying something different transpired?”
“I am. He tried the old ‘meet in the restroom’ trick to talk to Alberg. The man watches too many T.V. crime shows to think we wouldn’t have surveillance on him constantly with the sensitive knowledge he has.”
“How do you accomplish that?” Blaylock asked.
“Every visitor badge and certain employee badges have built in tech to provide audio transmission. We have a nice quality recording of Haybrook and Alberg’s conversation.”
Blaylock was impressed with his head of security. Although he had been employed to handle any ‘dirty work’, his skills were proving to be very valuable.
“What was the gist of the conversation?”
Benjamin Schmidt, Kongo Fit’s head of security and Blaylock’s unofficial henchman, relayed the executive summary version of the conversation between Haybrook and Alberg to Blaylock.
“So, Alberg was planning a press conference. Fortunate that he was dealt with in a timely manner,” Blaylock said.
“What do you want me to do about Hanson?” Schmidt asked.
“Well, he’s been an asset and he’s kept a lid on the slight anomalies in the tech, but it appears he’s gone to the dark side. Let’s deal with him as well.”
“That’s a wise choice,” Schmidt said. “I’ll handle it immediately.”
“Good. Thank you for the information,” Blaylock said with rare words of gratitude.
“It’s my job,” Schmidt said.
As Schmidt disconnected the call, he heard Hanson’s front door opening as he arrived back home. The timing was perfect as Schmidt remained in the guest bedroom without making a sound. He would be Hanson’s one-man welcome home committee.
Haybrook felt the toxic chemicals coursing through his body. He quickly ran to the restroom as his stomach rejected the chemical stew from his body.
“The reaction time to the chemicals seems much too quick,” Haybrook said. “The composition of the vomit seems to be almost purely chemical. It seems that the technology is quickly dispatching the chemicals before they can do anything.”
“Let’s draw some blood and confirm it,” Gini said.
She went through three needles before she could manage to penetrate Haybrook’s skin and retrieve a sample. She prepared a slide with a sample.
“No effect whatsoever,” she said as she peered through the microscope.
“That’s troubling. We’ve tried electricity and chemicals. We’re running out of options.”
“What about…this may be a lame idea, but do you think an EMP might have an effect?” Gini asked.
“Hmmm. An electro magnetic pulse does have the ability to disrupt the circuitry of technology of this type. How would it be delivered, however?”
“I may have an idea. It will require us going back to Kongo Fit, but I don’t think our cover is blown yet. We’re going to have to be quick and discreet.”
“Let’s do it. I don’t think we have any time to waste,” Gini agreed.
“So, you like this Hanson guy for Alberg’s disappearance?” Detective Burgess asked his partner.
“Classic situation. He was the last one to interact with him and then conveniently calls in sick to work today. It seems text book, but maybe a bit too text book.”
“What do you mean?” Burgess asked.
“He seemed very willing to speak with us, almost anxious. Plus, he’s a corporate nerd. Not the typical background of a killer.”
“Well, we will find out soon. Isn’t that his house?”
“It is,” Stern said as he maneuvered the dark sedan into Hanson’s driveway.
Stern rang the doorbell. After a lack of response, he rang it again more aggressively as Burgess knocked. When this still resulted in no response, Stern motioned to Burgess who circled around to the back of the house. Stern circled the other way looking in the windows as he went.
When the duo reached the sliding glass door on the back patio, Stern shaded the glare from his eyes as he peered through.
“That’s not good.”
“What’s that?” Burgess asked.
“Better call for backup. I think I found Mr. Hanson and I don’t think he’s going to be answering any questions.”
Hanson’s lifeless body lay on the living room floor with a puddle of blood collected around his head.
If you want to catch up on the previous week’s installments, the links are below: