A/N A couple of folks have asked about this piece and if I was ever going to start posting it. I almost gave up on it completely but Bixie came to the rescue. She helped me to regain some focus and has been wonderfully helpful for the first three chapters. I would like to publically thank her for her time and efforts to make this story come back to life. I had litterally thrown it out and had not planned on continuing with it.
It will take at least a week to get chapter two up. I am going into the hospital tomorrow evening and the following morning the doctors will induce labor. At my age going more than a week past due is just not acceptable:)
I will do my very best to give you all a quality tale, but be warned I am still working out the details. Feedback is very much appreciated. It is what keeps writers of Fan Fiction motivated to continue writing. You are all very wonderful here so I have no fears.
Charlie and Larry were sitting at a picnic table on this bright afternoon. The board on the table between them held elegant ivory and ebony pieces distributed across it in a seemingly random, yet carefully thought out and executed pattern. Warmed by the rays of the California sun, the smooth, polished surfaces reflected the shadowy crosshatch pattern of the canopy of leaves above them. Larry watched his young friend while Charlie gazed off into the distance toward the math building. His eyes were troubled as they always seemed to be lately and Larry sighed. "Do I even need to ask what's bothering you, Charles?"
Charlie didn't acknowledge the fact that Larry had just spoken. "Charles?"
Charlie seemed to come out of his reverie and looked at Larry "Humm?"
"Now that you have joined us here in this dimension, would you care to tell me what has you so preoccupied?"
Charlie frowned and looked down at the chess board. He didn't even remember the last move either of them had made. "I'm sorry, Larry, my head just isn't in this game right now."
"I can see that, Charles, so where exactly is it?"
Charlie sighed and looked up. Larry followed his gaze but could see nothing except the dappled sunlight filtering through the leaves of the large maple tree they were sitting under. "It's been a long week, Larry. This case that Don is working on right now has been difficult for everyone."
Larry rubbed his hand across his face and began to nervously scratch his head. He hated seeing Charlie so upset but he understood why the young mathematician was so disturbed. "Has there been any progress in finding the person responsible for these deaths?" The 'FBI Killer' as the press had dubbed the person responsible for the deaths of several FBI agents was all over the news and Larry knew that Charlie was trying to help Don's team solve the case. Other than that, Larry knew only as much as the next person who read the paper or watched the news. Charlie had been particularly quiet about his involvement in this particular case but Larry could see how it was affecting him.
Charlie sighed again, more deeply. "No, and the stress on Don is escalating. Not so much from his superiors but from himself. Three agents killed in as many weeks and two of them were his friends, Larry. These were people that he has known since his days at the academy."
Charlie shuddered involuntarily as the images of the crime scene photos flashed across his mind's eye. These men were not just killed, they had been butchered. Their hearts had essentially beensurgically removed from their chests butthe most disturbing aspect of this mutilation was the fact that the coroner had now confirmed for the third time that each of these men was not only alive, but conscious when their attacker cut open their chests to remove their hearts. There were several crushed ammonium pills at each of the crime scenes. This was evidence that the attacker was reviving his victims if they passed out from the pain of having their chest wall incised and their sternum cut and spread so that the heart could be removed with a scalpel. Larry knew nothing of these details, nor would Charlie tell him. The first reason was due to the fact that this information was classified, but more importantly, Larry had no need to be reviled by such gruesome details. His concern for Charlie's involvement in his brother's FBI work had diminished over the past year especially after he began helping Charlie on some of his calculations for the bureau and Charlie did not want to bring back that adversarial aspect to their discussions.
The only clue that the FBI had to identifying the killer involved a series of cryptic numbers carved post-mortem into the bodies of the dead agents. So far, no one had been successful in interpreting what those numbers meant, including Charlie… and the strain of being unable to break the code coupled with his underlying fear that Don could be the next victim showed on the young professor's face.
Charlie stood up to stretch his legs, having completely lost all interest in their game. "I don't think Don could bear going to another funeral..." Charlie's voice trailed off and his face drained of color. Larry turned and looked in the direction that Charlie was staring and felt his stomach do a flip flop. David Sinclair was walking across the quad, right toward them. The confident quick gait that Charlie had come to associate with David was noticeably lacking. He was walking as if dreading every step or as though it were almost a rehearsed march, like the way you would walk down the aisle at a funeral. Charlie's hands began to shake. David wore a grim expression on his handsome face, his eyes hidden behind sunglasses. David showed no signs of salutation, there was no greeting smile, yet it was clear that he had seen Charlie. This only served to deepen the terror that began to fill Charlie's entire body, which was now beginning to shake, along with his hands.
Larry stood up and had taken a position right beside his friend, offering his support in the only way he could. As David came to a stop in front of Charlie he said, in a deep yet quiet tone "Charlie, I need you to come with me."
"David... What... Wh Where?"
David put a hand out and gently touched Charlie's shoulder. He could feel the younger man shaking and he felt his resolve slip just a little. His next words sounded slightly husky as if he were struggling to maintain control. "Charlie, you need to come with me."
A single tear slid down David's face from behind his sunglasses and Charlie clenched his hands against his body. His heart was hammering in his chest while his blood ran cold and he had the sensation that his heart were being torn from him the way it had been from the victims. "No, No David, It can't be! Please tell me he's OK!" Charlie's voice took on a pleading tone as it broke with emotion.
David reached over and held both of Charlie's shoulders and whispered, "Charlie, it's time to go now."
Charlie's legs gave out and he dropped to his knees shaking uncontrollably. His breath came in quick ragged pants. He couldn't breath and was gasping for air but his lungs couldn't or wouldn't respond. His head started spinning and he felt nauseas as a strangled cry escaped his lips filled with ardent grief and seemed to come from his very soul. "No, NOOO!"
Charlie couldn't see anything. He tried to think about an equation; any equation, a lecture, his father's chili recipe; anything to ground his spinning senses. Suddenly he saw flashes of memories display before his eyes. He saw Don dressed in his baseball uniform hitting a home run. He saw Don laughing and playing a spirited game of one on one with him in the back yard. He saw Don, standing stoically at a funeral while one of his friends, a fellow agent, was being slowly lowered into the ground. The coffin was deep mahogany and as Charlie's eyes moved from Don's stony features to the coffin, the lid opened. What he saw sent a wave of intense agony through him as if someone had impaled him with a red hot iron. The agent lying in the coffin was his big brother. "NOOOO! Donnie!" He tried to reach for Don but the lid of the coffin closed as the mahogany box slowly disappeared into the earth. "NOOOOOO!"