Read Emerald Sky Online

Authors: David Clarkson

Emerald Sky (6 page)

She instinctively reacted to his body
language by placing her arms around him and resting his head on her shoulder.
She could feel the tears from his muffled sobs leak through into the material
of her shirt. The urge to offer comfort was strong; she was, after all, a
compassionate person, but she had to fight it nonetheless. Emotion was not an
option.

‘Whatever’s happened, you’ll be able to
deal with it. Just start from the beginning and tell me what you did that’s so
bad.’

She led him into the lounge and set him
down on the sofa whilst she went into the kitchen to make two cups of tea. By
the time she rejoined him he had calmed down considerably and looked to have
finally regained control of his emotions.

‘The police brought you here and not to a
prison cell, so I’m at least guessing you’ve escaped any serious charges,’ she
said, handing him his brew. ‘Whatever happens, you’ve still got a life to
return to.’

‘I wish it was that simple,’ he replied.
‘Pretty soon everybody will know what I did. Or rather -
who
I did.’

His tone changed towards the end as if he
were suddenly seeing a funny side to what had happened, but the words had the
opposite effect on Alex. Once more, she could feel panic rising in her chest.

‘What do you mean; “who you did”?’ she
asked.

He told her the name. It was one she had
heard many times before. This man was one of the most famous sportsmen in the
country. He was also in a very high profile marriage with a beautiful young pop
starlet who had briefly put her career on hold in order to bring up their
newborn son. Alex’s heart was now actively trying to tear itself from her
chest.

‘Please tell me you’re kidding. I didn’t
even know he’s gay.’

‘Nor did I before last night. Believe me,
it was a
big
surprise for me too!’

She slapped him across the face, a shock
to her as much to him. It was only the second time in her life she had resorted
to physical violence. The first had been when she was being threatened by a psychopath.

‘No jokes,’ she shouted at him. ‘Just
tell me what happened and who else knows about this.’

He put his cup down and rubbed his face
where her palm had struck.

‘It’s my life that’s over, not yours.’

‘I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that,
but this does affect me – more than you could ever know. Now tell me what
happened and why it led to you turning up at my door in a police car.’

He told her the story. With each word she
knew there would be no turning back.

He had met the gentleman in question in a
popular (though little known outside of the gay community) club on the
outskirts of St Kilda. One thing led to another and they agreed to go back to
Adam’s hotel room. Then the other guy got cold feet. He was afraid about
risking exposure in so public a place as a hotel in the centre of town.
Instead, they decided to head down to the beach. The player owned a beach hut
and he convinced Adam it would be a better place for them to do the deed.

When they got to the hut, it did not take
them long to get down to what they had come for. They tore at each other’s
clothes, eager to gain access to the willing bodies underneath. What they did
not realise was that they were not alone. Somebody in the club had tipped off a
paparazzo. This photographer followed them down to the beach. A burst of
pictures had been taken before either of the clandestine lovers even figured
out what was happening.

The man with the most to lose was the
first to react. Stark naked, he charged out of the hut and leapt at the
photographer in an attempt to get the camera. It was all to no avail, as in
this digital age all the photos were instantly uploaded to the news desk before
a standard Polaroid would have had time to dry. They were in the system and
nothing would be able to stop them from coming out.

Unable to contain his rage, the sportsman
continued to assault the photographer even after the camera was smashed into a
hundred pieces. A passing police patrol witnessed the event and promptly
arrested the sportsman and also took in Adam as a witness. The chaperone home
was merely precautionary; for his protection should a gathering of reporters be
waiting at his house. That was also the reason for him being dropped at Alex’s
place rather than his own.

‘You idiot!’ she screamed. ‘How could you
be so careless? Any moment now the media from all over the state will be
mobbing us. Not just you either. As your girlfriend they’re going to want to
know what my feelings are on this.’

She went to the bedroom and grabbed her
bag before continuing her rant.

‘Will she stand by him? Will she leave
him? Well, I’ll let you know the answer to both those questions right now
because there’s no way I’m having my face in the paper.’

‘What’re you saying?’

‘Isn’t it obvious? I’m leaving. I have no
choice. I can’t risk being found. This is a problem you’ll have to deal with on
your own.’

‘You can’t leave. We’re in this together.
Our arrangement benefits us both.’

She shook her head with disbelief.

‘You don’t need this lie – you never
have. Being gay isn’t something we should hide. The reason you’re in trouble is
that you’re an arsehole. Do you really think this was about my sexuality?
Christ, I’d rather stand proud and let the hateful pigs expose themselves. This
is...’ Her voice trailed off as she did not wish to give him too much
information, especially when he had now outgrown all usefulness to her. ‘I’m
through with this,’ she hastily added, changing tack.

As she turned towards the door, Adam
stood and stopped her by firmly grabbing her wrist.

‘At least give me a reason,’ he said. ‘I
may have fucked up, but I was never the only one with secrets. We both
benefitted from this arrangement. At least tell me who you are. What is your
name – your real name?’

She cast her eyes downward.

‘I can’t – it’s too dangerous.’

‘Dangerous for who – are you wanted by
the police?’

‘No – the people who are after me are
much worse than the police.’

He let go of her wrist.

‘What did you do?’

She took a deep, calming breath. She did
not have to tell him anything, but she felt she owed him something, at least.

‘Have you heard of the Manhattan
project?’

‘Of course; it was the name given to
America’s nuclear programme during the Second World War. It eventually led to
the bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. You’re not seriously telling
me you had anything to do with that, are you? That’s before even our
grandparent’s time.’

‘You’re right; it was long before my
time. What I was working on was no less secretive though and infinitely more
dangerous. You’ll have to trust me when I say that the comparison is apt. I
can’t let them find me.’

‘Let
who
find you? Are you talking
about the Government?’

‘I’m talking about
every
government and a whole load of others besides. There’re things in this world
you don’t want to know about. Things that make a nuclear warhead seem like a
cherry bomb in comparison. If I say any more, they’ll kill you. Whoever comes
calling – and somebody will come calling - just tell them everything you know
about me and hope it’s enough for them to leave you alone.’

He searched her eyes for any clue as to
what her real identity could be. He found none.

‘But I don’t know anything about you.’

‘Exactly.’

Chapter 9

 

 

Jimmy kept up his bedside vigil as often
as his military guardians would allow. Between the interrogations and tests of
his abilities this was not nearly as often as he would have liked. The colonel
was obsessed with the idea of being able to control his psychic ability. He
wanted Jimmy to focus on Emmy Rayne as much as possible, believing the boy’s
intuition would eventually lead them to her.

There was some truth to this method. In
the past he had been able to avert many disasters by focusing all of his energy
on a desire to do good deeds. Could the same approach help him to find a particular
individual? He believed that in time it would, but patience did not rank high
on the military’s agenda. They wanted results and they wanted them quickly.

His mother still failed to respond to his
presence. The doctors watching over her had explained that due to the amount of
sedative she was being given, it was all but impossible for her to respond to
any outside stimulus. Still, Jimmy refused to give up. He thought that if he
just kept trying, one day she would wake up and she would be well again.

With all of the power he possessed he did
not understand how it could be of no use to him when he needed it the most. Why
he could not use it to help those he loved. It was only when he finally began
to realise there was nothing he could do to help his mother that it became
obvious to him there was only one who could.

The colonel had been right all along.

Jimmy needed to find Emmy Rayne. If she
really had caused this mess then it made sense that she was the only one who
could fix it. Finding her had to be his number one goal, even if it meant
breaking a promise. A promise he had made when at his lowest ebb, to a person who
had saved his life.

 

***

 

Her priority was to get out of town as
quickly as possible. She sold her car for cash. The sale did not make much, but
when added to what she had saved from her monthly salary she was able to buy a
one way train ticket with enough left over to set her up in a hotel for a
couple of weeks whilst she planned her next move.

Adam promised to stall for as long as he
was able. She trusted him to deflect any questions pertaining to her
whereabouts and to make the necessary excuses on her behalf. Even if he did
talk, there was not a great deal he could say about her. Everything he thought
he knew about her had been a lie. With luck, she would be out of the state
before anybody even knew she was gone.

She changed trains at the first stop
outside of town. Whilst waiting for her connection she binned her contact
lenses and bought a bottle of black hair dye and some scissors, giving herself
a bespoke makeover in the station bathroom. With her freshly restored green
eyes and new dark crop she felt a lot more confident of retaining her anonymity
and the task ahead seemed less daunting. This was not the first time she had
started over and she also knew it was unlikely be the last.

Of course, it would not be easy to give
up Alex Rose. Despite the restrictions living that life had placed upon her,
she had grown fond of the pretence of normality it brought. It was nice to
blend in and not be burdened with the expectations of the world. It had also
been good to know people were not constantly whispering about her behind her
back. Most of all; it was good just not being on her own.

The latter was not a problem when she had
first taken to the road. Her grandfather destroyed almost everything she ever
held dear, but there was one thing even he could not take from her. He could
not take away her love. In finding Lucy, she had gained infinitely more than
she had lost. For the first time in her young life, she was free.

Money was not a problem to begin with. She
had savings and was able to withdraw enough to sustain them in the short term
before her account was seized and shut down. Not that having money was really
important anyway. Currency, by its very nature, only has worth relative to its
usefulness as a tradable commodity. They had everything they needed and did not
have to trade with anybody.

For those first few months it really had
been just the two of them. They travelled around a lot; never getting closer to
significant population centres other than in skirting the edges of towns. Where
it was possible to live off of the land; they did. Lucy was an expert at
catching fish and taught Emmy the finer points of living an outdoor lifestyle.
Her ability to hunt and forage for food was incredible (she had the survival
instincts of a wild animal). Then every night they would go to bed under a
blanket of stars. It was perfect and she never wanted it to end.

Unfortunately, everything comes to an
end. Circumstances soon altered and she found herself once more alone and faced
with the necessity of rejoining the real world. She tried out a few different
towns and jobs before finding one that was a comfortable fit. Even though Alex
Rose had been a lie, Emmy was going to miss her. It was the only time in her
life when she had not felt on the peripherals of society.

By now she knew the story was likely to
be all over the news. If Adam stuck to his word, people would assume that she
(or Alex rather) had gone into hiding to escape the media attention. They would
look for her, but not with any great urgency or concern. To them she was just a
small part of a much larger story. Then, when several weeks had passed, she
would be reported as a missing person. With no family, friends or ties to keep
the search going, it would eventually peter out and Alex Rose would be
forgotten forever.

 

***

 

Jimmy’s day was strictly regimented, but
the routine could be broken under exceptional circumstances. Should he
experience one of his visions the men guarding him had been instructed to allow
him to follow whatever path this led him on. These unnatural digressions were
closely monitored and it was when Esteban was dispatched to check up on one
such occurrence that they finally got the lead they had been waiting for.

Two hours a day were afforded to the
young inmate where he could engage in recreational activities such as watching
television or listening to music. Usually, he would forego this privilege in
order to spend more time with his mother. It therefore seemed strange when the
recreation room turned out to be exactly where his latest vision was leading
him. Esteban wondered if this was some sort of a trick. Although in his
experience, the boy had never been anything less than one hundred per cent open
and honest.

‘What are you doing, Jimmy?’ Esteban
asked. ‘You know there’s a correct time for this sort of thing and that time is
not now.’

The young psychic smiled back at him as
if they were old friends.

‘There isn’t anywhere I can be that isn’t
where I’m supposed to be,’ he replied. ‘You know that, don’t you, Mr Cruz?’

‘Very funny. Why don’t you just tell me
what you’re doing here.’

‘Watching television, I suppose.’

Esteban glanced at the screen. The
closing credits to some daytime soap opera were on. It did not seem to be the
sort of programming he would expect a twenty two year old man to enjoy.
Although given that the boy’s favourite movie was
The Lion King
,
anything was possible.

‘You suppose? Would you mind telling me
exactly what it is that you plan on watching?’

Jimmy shrugged.

‘I didn’t think so. How are your senses
doing – are you still getting anything?’

This time Jimmy shook his head. He did
not find Agent Cruz to be as threatening as the others who so often
interrogated him. For this reason, he felt he could be more laid back in his
responses.

‘Just as I thought,’ said Esteban. ‘This
is another false alarm. You’ve been getting those quite a lot recently. It
might have something to do with the monotony of your routine here. If you want,
you can stay and watch the TV for a little while longer. I’ll clear it with the
colonel.’

‘Could you clear it for me to see my
mother right now?’

‘Not at this moment. The doctors need
space to do their work, but the offer stands if you want to remain here for a
little while longer.’

‘Not really. If I can’t do anything
useful, I’d rather just sleep.’

‘I understand.’

Esteban nodded for the guards to escort
Jimmy back to his cell. He then picked up the remote for the TV and was about
to turn it off when something caught his eye. The News had just begun and the
lead story was about a married sports star who had been caught fooling around
with a male school teacher. If trash stories such as this filled the news then
it meant that maybe people like him were doing their job right. Scandal was hugely
preferable to tragedy.

As the story drew to a close he once more
aimed the remote at the TV, but this time when he stopped it was due to
something much more important. The teacher in the story also had a partner and
her picture was now on the screen. It was not the clearest image; taken on a
camera phone in bad light, but there was something about it that gave him a
feeling in the pit of his stomach. He wondered if Jimmy’s senses had not
misfired after all.

The colonel was harder to convince.
Before making his suspicion known, Esteban had researched the story some more
online and he pulled up the image on a tablet for his commanding officer to
see.

‘I don’t think this is the same person,’
the colonel said, alternating his eyes from the image on screen to a photograph
in his hand. ‘The hair is all wrong for a start.’

Esteban rolled his eyes.

‘Are you kidding me? This woman is wanted
in connection with several murders and the wilful destruction of an entire town
– do you not think she would have altered her appearance somewhat? Brunette,
redhead; it doesn’t matter – that’s her. If she has any sense, which having
studied her record extensively - I know she does, she will certainly change her
appearance again. We have to move now or we may never get another chance like
this.’

The colonel picked up the receiver to his
desk phone.

‘Let me make a few calls. I’ll have this
woman checked out. If there are any abnormalities then we’ll bring her in. You’ve
seen the media circus surrounding this story – do you really want to get
involved in that without good cause?’

‘We already have more than enough cause.
What about the boy – do you think it was a coincidence that he turned on the TV
when he did?’

‘Did Jimmy himself say this is our girl?’

‘No, he’d already left at that point.’

‘Then this is your prediction, not his,
and you are no psychic, Agent Cruz.’

Esteban pressed his hands down on the
table top, leaning in toward his superior officer.

‘Maybe this is just a hunch, but that
didn’t work out so bad for you before, did it? I brought you the boy and now if
you allow me to do my job, I will go and get the girl too.’

Before the colonel could reply, a call
came through on his intercom. It was one of the guards watching Jimmy’s cell.
The boy was on the move again and this time he was attempting to leave the
complex.

‘Let me go,’ insisted Esteban. ‘I’ll take
the boy. All we have to do is head in the general direction and his foresight
will do the rest. We won’t get another opportunity like this.’

The colonel paused for a moment to
consider the options. Monitoring Jimmy and using his visions for intelligence
purposes was one thing, but actually deploying this asset in the field carried
a whole different set of risks. Escape was obviously a concern, but not nearly
as great a concern as that of what may happen if Jimmy was exposed publically.
It would completely kill the operation. Ultimately, though, Esteban was right.
This was the only lead they had and such an opportunity may never come again.
With reluctance, he bowed to the pressure placed upon him by the soldier he had
not wanted to work with in the first place.

‘Okay, you can take the kid, but I also
want a full squad backing you up. If there is any doubt as to whether this is
our girl, you will stand down immediately. The press are not to be involved in
the search for Emmy Rayne – do you get that?’

‘Loud and clear, Colonel.’

‘Then what are you waiting for, soldier?’

Esteban nodded and then turned to the
door. Just as he was about to leave, the colonel called out to him.

‘Oh, and one more thing. You’re leaving
here with one prisoner in your custody and I expect you to return with two. If
you screw this up, your career is finished. Do you understand?’

Esteban did not bother giving an answer.
A long and distinguished career had never ranked high on his agenda. All he
cared about was doing what needed to be done. Besides, with Jimmy in tow, he
suspected that whatever would come of this mission, his fate was already
sealed.

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