Frank Parker spun in his chair and sighed in frustration. It had been weeks since the last back-step, but with tensions so high politically, his boss, Bradley Tallmadge, wouldn't let him leave the base. He was bored. Olga stuck her head in the door. "Mr. Parker, stop fooling around, we have work to do. Come on." She gestured towards the conference room and sauntered off. Parker hopped up from the chair, stumbled around for a second, then jogged out the door. As he entered the conference room, everyone was already seated. "How nice of you to grace us with your presence, Parker." Ramsey said snidely. Parker ignored him. "What's going on?" He asked Talmadge. "Four days ago an explosion started a fire in the Midtown Hospital in New York City. 56 people were killed including, as we now know, the Vice-President. He was invited to a dinner conference and got a touch of food poisoning, nothing major, but he was in the hospital at the time of the fire, and they just found his body." Bradley looked at Parker. "What set this off?" Parker asked. "They aren't certain yet, but they think an oxygen tank in one of the ICU rooms exploded. The fire spread rapidly." Isaac said. "Alright, let's get going people. We've got a little less than 63 hours." Bradley said as he left the room.
Parker figured this would be an easy one. Go back, tell the hospital, evacuate and get on with life. Heck, I might even ask if Olga can meet me, for a little vacation time. Parker thought, smiling as he sat in the sphere. "100. Engage Mr. Parker." Olga's voice said. He punched the button. The world twisted, screamed, and pulled apart.
The door popped open, and Parker rolled out, coughing. As he stumbled to his feet, he looked around. He was in Central Park. As people walked by with their dogs, they never gave him a second glance. "Got to love New York." Parker muttered and walked towards a payphone. "Conundrum." Parker said as he looked around. "This is Talmage, what is the mission, Frank?" Talmage asked. "There's going to be a fire in the Midtown Hospital in the next two days, the Vice-President will be killed." Frank said. "We'll get on it right away. Anything else, Frank?" Talmage said. "Yah, I could use Olga's help to find the spark that sets this whole thing off." Parker said. "Right away. She'll be there in a couple of hours." Talmage said as he hung up. Parker grinned mischievously. "Time for a quick vacation."
"Mr. Parker, where did you get this car?" Olga asked as he opened the door of the red convertible. "Well, I figure if I'm going to rent, I'm going to rent in style." Parker said as he hopped into the driver's seat. "So, you hungry? I saw this great looking restaurant and…" Olga cut him off. "Mr. Parker, I did not come here for a guided tour. I expect to investigate this fire, and nothing more. Do I make myself clear?" Olga asked sharply. "Crystal." Parker said morosely as he hunched in the driver's seat. "Midtown Hospital, here we come." He muttered as he started the engine.
After the evacuation of the ICU and surrounding areas, the hospital seemed almost empty. Olga lead the way as every room in the ICU was checked and rechecked for faulty wiring, broken oxygen tanks, and anything out of the ordinary. Parker quickly realized just how numerous and how similar hospital rooms were. "Olga, we've checked every room. Can we have some fun now?" Parker whined. "I'm not leaving until I find out what set off the fire in the last timeline. This is my job, and I take it seriously." Olga said hotly. "I take my job seriously." Parker said as he jogged to catch up with her. "Mr. Parker, I have never seen you…" She stopped as Parker put his hand over her mouth. "Shh. I hear something. Come on." Parker said as he dragged her behind the door of an open room. Olga opened her mouth to say something when she too heard it. Footsteps and whispers from down the hall. As they remained hidden, they peered through the crack in the door and watched as a doctor and nurse came around the corner. Their whispers carried. Parker and Olga listened in swiftly growing horror. "How will we cover up the deaths now? The fire was perfect. Nothing else will do, Dr. Tristan." The nurse whispered. "That's why we snuck in here, George. We have to get the oxygen tank back. I'll never be able to rid another one in time. After the fire, the drug won't show up in their bodies. It'll look like a freak accident." The doctor said as he went into a hospital room. He came out with a small oxygen tank and a white bag. "It's a good thing I convinced them to move all of my patients to the same hospital. It makes things much simpler." The two conspirators snickered as they turned to leave. Olga stood in shock. Parker, though, took matters into his own hands. As the nurse bent to pick up the oxygen tank, Parker threw open the door and raised his gun. "Don't move, NSA. Drop the tank and put your hands above your head." As George straitened, he towered over Parker. "Drop the tank and put your hands against the wall." Parker shouted. The nurse lowered the tank to the floor, than shot upright, slamming the tank into Parkers gun and sending it flying. Parker ducked as the tank missed decapitating him by centimeters. Olga screamed as she jumped on the nurse's back and clawed at his eyes. Parker leapt for the gun. Frank's fingers wrapped around the pistol as a sharp pain pricked the base of his skull. Numbness spread through his body as his fingers released the gun. Parker's head thudded sickeningly to the hard hospital floor. The nurse slammed his back into the wall and Olga fell off, gasping. George held Olga's arms behind her back with no apparent effort. "What'll we do with her, boss?" He asked. The doctor placed the empty needle back into the white bag. "I only had one extra vile, just in case. She'll have to wait until the fire. Bring her along." Olga had finally cleared her head and realized what they were planning. She opened her mouth to scream, but before she could, George grabbed a nearby rag and stuffed it into her mouth. He ripped the cord off the window blinds and tied her wrists together. The doctor took Olga's arm and forced her down the hall. As the nurse passed Parker's gun, he grabbed it. Dr. Tristan turned and said, "Grab the body and the tank. We've got to hurry now." Olga's eyes opened wide. Body? She thought franticly. What is in those vials? He couldn't be dead. The nurse shoved the gun into his waistband, slung the tank under his left arm, and grabbed Parker's left pant leg. As George followed Olga and Dr. Tristan, Parker's body hissed across the smooth hospital floor.
Parker fought desperately to move, to blink, to breathe. His eyes seemed to be broken. He couldn't close them and he could not move. The only thing that seemed to move was the almost silent beat of his heart and the shallow breaths he could not control. He heard a small gasp of pain and wanted to cry. What have those...? If they hurt her, I'll kill them. He thought angrily. Parker could only stare at the wall and listen. At least they aren't going to kill her now. If they give me time, this will wear off. I'll get them then. Parker felt a hand grab his leg. Great, they're taking me along! Oh! Parker grunted mentally. They could have at least picked me up. Yah, you're the big man now, but just wait until this wears off…
They snuck out to the loading ramp in the back of the hospital. A large black van sat waiting. The nurse lifted Olga into the back of the van and tied her hands to a loop in the far right corner. Olga watched in horror as the nurse picked Parker up and casually tossed him into the van like a bag of garbage. Frank's wide, unblinking blue eyes stared into space as the doors closed. The van was a void of pitch black darkness. The front doors slammed and the engine turned over. They began to move. Olga had time to feel real fear. In the darkness, she relived what had occurred in the hospital. Frank is dead. She thought hopelessly. He must be. They wouldn't leave him untied if he wasn't. I wish I could reach him! I could look for a pulse, give him CPR, something! She listened intently for any sign of life.
After being tossed into the corner of the van, Parker wasn't in the best of moods. I'm going to kill them. He thought venomously. In the pitch black darkness, Parker tried to move once again. Nothing. As his frustration grew, he heard a noise through the growl of the motor. A sob. His heart sank as he realized it was Olga, crying. Olga, don't cry. He thought compassionately. I'll get you out of here. Don't worry. As he listened to her sobs, he could make out what she was saying. "Oh, Frank, I'm so sorry. It's my fault. I shouldn't have been so mean to you. If I had gone with you to the restaurant, none of this would have happened. It's my fault you're… dead." She said with a whimper. Frank wanted to scream. Olga, I'm not dead! It's not your fault! I should have been more careful! Don't cry…Please? The car stopped.