Disclaimer: The Pretender and all its characters are not mine. They belong to NBC, MTM, TNT, and its Producers. I'm just borrowing them to write this story for entertainment. No infringement intended.
"We cannot banish dangers, but we can banish fears. We must not demean life by standing in awe of death." David Sarnoff
May 8th, 2002
Somewhere in Maryland.
The deserted street was shrouded in total darkness on this moonless night, with the exception of a dim street light at the end of the block. He ran into the nearest alley and leaned heavily against the cold brick wall trying to obtain some support and to remain camouflaged by the shadows. He could feel the muscles in his legs beginning to cramp and weakening from the strain and the cold temperatures, but he had to stop for an instant to catch his breath and to quickly plan his escape. With a shaky hand, he nervously wiped the drops of water that obstructed his vision. The pouring rain was icy-cold and it felt like sharp nails digging into every inch of his exposed skin. He could feel his heart racing and his lungs felt as if they were going to burst inside his chest. Every muscle in his body screamed with pain but he had to keep running. "Damn!" He swore inwardly for letting his guard down and allowing his pursuers to get this close again. During his last pretend he had the opportunity to live in this tranquil and friendly town for a few weeks and he had enjoyed the chance to feel some kind of normality in his life, but that was only an illusion. His life would never be normal. His life was a curse and he knew very well that as long as he was alive and considered Centre property his only choice was to run to stay free.
Suddenly, the sound of voices brought him back to reality. The hunters were gaining on him. He looked toward the end of the alley as the beams of light began to invade his temporary refuge. He pushed against the wall and dashed towards the end of the alley looking for a way out in the darkness, but all he found was a dead end. Was this going to be his end? In a dark cold alley, hunted down like a wild animal. As the beams of light came closer and closer like slithering snakes he noticed that something was different. The pouring rain didn't feel cold anymore. It felt warm and sticky. When he looked down at his hands they were all covered in blood. Panic overtook him, as he frantically searched his body for the source of the blood, but it was not his. The blood now covered everything around him, the walls, the ground, his clothes and the faceless creatures that crept closer and closer ready to pounce on him.
Frozen on the spot with a look of horror on his face and a feeling of doom invading his every thought, he awaited his impending fate. Unexpectedly, his hunters stopped a few feet away and a single dark figure stepped forward.
When his pursuer's face came into view, he gasped in shock. Miss Parker's face was ghostly pale and her blood stained blouse now displayed a distinctive bullet hole where her heart was. With a shaky hand Miss Parker raised her 9 mm and aimed it at his heart.
"Jarod, you lied to me." Her bluish lips quivered with emotion. "You abandoned me."
"WAIT!" Jarod cried out, his hands reaching out to her just before the blast echoed in the dark alley.
His bloodcurdling scream and the pain that suddenly radiated through his entire body brought Jarod out of another terrifying nightmare. For a few long moments, he just laid on the cold floor, entangled in the sweat drenched sheets unable to move a muscle. The only sound in the dark room was that of his labored breathing and the drumming of his racing heartbeat pounding inside his head. His feverish brain kept saying that it was just another bad dream, like the hundreds he had experienced most of his life, but this one seemed so real and that terrified him. 'Could this dream be a warning? Or could this be a call for help?' The frightening questions invaded his thoughts. In the past, he'd always listened to his inner sense and that kept him alive and free, but something bothered him about this dream. Miss Parker was in trouble and he had to find her.
Slowly he rose from the floor and rapped the sheet around his body. He was shivering again. His fever was still high and now his whole body ached even more after the fall from the bed. For an instant, Jarod wished he had not done his last pretend as a elementary school teacher, but on the other hand he had put a child molester behind bars for good and that was worth all the pain and suffering he was now experiencing after catching the worse flu of his life.
Swaying slightly the pretender moved towards the bathroom and a warm shower in an effort to reduce his fever and clear his fogged mind. After the shower he would call his mentor. Yes, Sydney would know where Miss Parker was and if she was alright. Their old friend was always on duty when it came to their wellbeing. A role of protector Sydney had taken since they were children as a promise to his fallen friend, Catherine and perhaps one of the reasons for their survival.
Jarod smiled inwardly as he remembered his last conversation with his mentor a few days earlier. Due to the flu and a persistent and annoying case of laryngitis, Sydney had not recognized his voice at first, which was kind of amusing, a thought Sydney didn't share. His mentor was truly concerned for his health and had begged his protégé to tell him where he was, but Jarod had convinced his worried friend that he was fine and all he needed was a few days of rest to recover. Not very happy, Sydney accepted his decision and promised his pupil that he would do everything in his power to keep him informed on the retrieval team's moves, but just before Jarod ended the call Sydney had made him promise to call back in a few days.
The cemetery grounds were deserted, the only sounds present were those of birds chirping in the nearby trees. Slowly, the warm rays of sunlight began to travel across the lonely tombstones, drying the dew that had blanketed the cold stones and manicured lawn during the night. In the distance, a lonely figure knelt motionless in front of a grey marble stone. Another year had passed since that dreadful day and once again she was here to fulfill her promise. A solemn promise she had made to the man she loved. To visit his final resting place each year on the anniversary of his death until the end of her days.
Even though three years had passed, the painful memories and guilt still stabbed at her heart. A heart that had been shattered into a million pieces over and over since she was a little girl. Here rested a compassionate man that had shown her how to love again and was planning to take her away from a life that had only made her cold and mistrustful, but once again the powers that be interfered and crushed her chances at happiness.
Mr. Parker, the only man she loved as a father was gone. Raines her biological father, a role she never accepted, was also dead. The old ghoul had succumbed to madness after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and was found dead shortly after.
Sydney had finally listened to her advice and retired. Now that Sydney was no longer around guarding her every move, Parker missed him dearly and her concern for her aging friend grew with each passing day. After his retirement, Parker had made a promise to herself to visit her old friend regularly. A loyal duty she was sure she was not caring out alone. Deep inside, she knew well that the wayward pretender was also doing his share of vigilance over his old mentor and that gave her some peace of mind.
Broots was also gone now. The loyal techie had finally found the nerve to resign and moved away to California with his daughter. This had been a shock to all, but she was happy for him and Debbie. They both deserved a better life away from that hell and no matter where they were they would always have a special place in her heart.
The saddest and most recent event was the death of her good friend Angelo. The empath's body was found yesterday, curled-up in a corner of Jarod's old cell. Apparently, he had died from heart failure, but at the Centre anything was possible. She would not be surprise if Lyle was behind the removal of the kind little man. Now came the hardest job, to tell Sydney about the sad news.
Clearly, all these events had left the path wide open for her sociopath brother to move up the ladder to the position of Chairman without any obstacles. For a long time, Parker knew she was no match to go against Lyle and besides she never wanted the title to rule in Hades, but now she was faced with another problem. With Lyle in control, the Centre legacy would enter a darker and more sinister path and once again she was caught in the middle. Lyle had laid down the new rules. She was to bring Jarod back at all costs. Failure would not be tolerated and the promise of freedom made to her by Mr. Parker was no longer attainable. Once again she was trapped in that Hell, but now her life was left hanging in the balance. For the first time she understood the pain she saw in Jarod's eyes and the reason why he had tried so hard to free her.
She felt tired and defeated. After so many years of denial, now she understood the painful truth and her fate. She would never be free or happy. She was a prisoner and her life was controlled by an evil force that dictated her every action and thought. A life that was getting darker and lonelier with every passing year and she knew very well there was no escape for her. She was doomed to live alone and if anyone tried to free her from this damnation she called life, they would pay the ultimate price.
Slowly she leaned forward and brushed away the dust and dry leaves that covered her lover's tomb. With great care she placed the container with fresh flowers she had brought for him. She had picked them carefully, for they reminded her of his kind and unselfish nature.
Once again, guilt burned through her broken heart. This wonderful man had given her everything. His love, patience, trust and understanding and in return she'd never told him that she loved him. Not until he was gone. She had betrayed him in the worse way. Her love was never his completely and it tortured her that deep inside he knew as well, but this truth would die with her. This was her curse and before more lives were destroyed because of her, she would put an end to this dark legacy.
In her life she had only known happiness for a short period of time; when she was a child. Even though she was alone most of the time, her mother was there and she made her feel loved and protected. Every brief moment she spent with her was special and would forever live in her memory like a treasure that no one could take from her. A few others that had made her lonely life more bearable was her childhood friends. In the midst of that hell called the Centre, they had become her allies and had given her friendship and trust. But again she had betrayed their loyalty and kindness. Now it was too late to correct her error or change the outcome.
Now her life had no purpose or hope. Each day when she opened her eyes she was faced with an inner battle to go on or end her worthless existence. Now that choice was clear and acceptable. She should be sad, but instead she felt a sense of peace.
Slowly she rose and began to walk away. Without looking back she walked towards the gate that led to the parking lot. This would be her last visit here. Now it was time to visit her old friend to say goodbye as well.