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The Pretender: Apprehension

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Link To Me

by KJC

5.14.2005

 

 

“Jarod, something’s come up,” Sydney murmured into the phone.

 

There was a short pause before the pretender asked, “What is it, Sydney?”

 

Mr. Raines found someone . . . someone that we think could be a potential pretender.”

 

“Why are you telling me this?”

 

“Because . . .” Sydney turned to look out the car window.  He was sitting parked next to a private university.  Many students milled around on the sunny sidewalks, but one girl caught his attention, with long brown hair, blue eyes, and a book bag and violin case slung over her shoulder.  She was walking quickly down the sidewalk, attentive to all around her.  She caught Sydney watching her and began to walk faster.  “Jarod, this girl that Mr. Raines wants . . . I think she’s your cousin.”

 

Jarod was silent for a long time, and Sydney began to think that he had hung up, then he quietly said, “If she’s my cousin, would she know about me, about who I am, where my parents are?”

 

“I don’t know all the details about her, Jarod,” Sydney answered.  “I only know that I saw the DNA file that one of the hospitals had on her, and it was a perfect match to yours.  Mr. Raines has Miss Parker, Broots, and I tracking her down.  We just found her at a university in Colorado.  Her name is Sara Adams.  She’s majoring in music at Colorado’s Music Institute, a private school.  I’m surprised she didn’t come to The Centre’s attention before.  She seems to be very smart, almost as smart as you.”  Sydney knew the pretender’s mind was already working at a mile a minute.  “Jarod, you know this could be a trap.”  Sydney saw Miss Parker and Broots approach the car, files in their hands from the school’s admission’s office.  “I have to go, Jarod.”

 

Before Jarod could protest, Sydney hung up.

 

Miss Parker slid into the front passenger seat next to Sydney.  “Like we were told, the girl’s got brains.”  She opened up the file in her hand to show the man.  “Perfect GPA in high school and college.  Perfect scores on the SAT and ACT.  She even took an I.Q. test, and she’s off the charts.”

 

“This doesn’t mean she would make a good pretender,” Sydney pointed out.

 

“But she has the makings of a genius,” Broots commented.  “There’s lots of stuff in here about things she’s done, science fair projects, papers she’s written.  She could have majored in anything she wanted, but she chose music.”

 

“Listen to this,” Miss Parker pushed a hand labeled CD into the car’s CD player.  The notes of a violin began to play Pablo de Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen, a Hungarian gypsy song.  It was clearly the performance of an advanced and talented hand.

 

“It’s Sara’s junior recital,” Miss Parker said after a moment.  “The girl’s a prodigy.”

 

“She’s too old,” Sydney shook his head.  “The Centre doesn’t take them when they’re this old.  She knows too much of the freedom of the world.  She would not take well to living in a hole in the ground for the rest of her life.”

 

Sydney,” Miss Parker looked him in the eye, “whoever said we wanted her?”

 

The gut feeling in Sydney’s stomach expanded, and he knew that his assumption as to their latest mission had been right.  He restrained his emotions and responded flatly, “We’re using her to get to Jarod.”

 

“She’s the perfect bait,” Miss Parker answered.  “A little blood ties, a little genius that can aid The Centre . . . Jarod can’t resist.”

 

“We can’t do this!” Broots protested, unable to hold back his feelings.

 

“She’s just bait,” Parker reassured them.  “We won’t do anything about it.  The Centre knows she’s too old to take in.  She won’t know anything about us.”

 

“Unless Jarod gets to her first,” Sydney pointed out.

 

“Which is why we are keeping an eye on her until he shows up,” Miss Parker stated.  “Let’s get moving.  She had a head start on us back to her apartment.”

 

Sydney started the car up and turned into the road to follow Sara.

 

* * *

 

After searching the internet and newspapers at the local library in New York, Jarod had all he needed on Sara Adams – at least, all he knew the public services could provide on her.  She had popped up quite a few times in the newspapers, the first time when she gave a concert in Germany, performing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D at age seven.  She was declared a prodigy, and went on to win a national Violin Concerto Competition, sight reading along with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.  She appeared several more times after that, having won various competitions.

 

The latest news on her, however, was more disturbing.  Her parents, world travelers, had died in a plane crash on their way to visit her in a school in Italy.  They had lived in Russia at the time, and try as he might, Jarod could find no clue as to who they were.  He wished for just one article on them so he could determine if Sydney was indeed telling the truth: that Sara was his cousin.  He would have no proof, of course, unless he could see a DNA sample from the girl, since he himself did not know his own parents.

 

Sara’s parents died when she was twelve, and since she was staying in a girl’s music school at the time, she remained there until she graduated at age sixteen.  Her first year in college she spent in Oxford, then transferred to Colorado’s Music Institute, where she now was studying violin and piano performance.  No newspapers had mentioned her exclusively since the death of her parents, but her name was occasionally cited due to the many performances that she held with her school’s orchestra and neighboring orchestras.

 

Jarod studied the picture he had of her from one of the newspaper clippings.  Her eyes were surprisingly innocent of the tragedy that had struck her young life, but as Jarod’s pretender instincts began to kick in, he imagined that she probably had to hide much in her life from the public eye.  Nothing that he could assume about her would remain for certain until he actually met her.

 

Jarod had taken a one way flight from New York to Denver, and was now on a bus on its way to Colorado’s Music Institute.  Sara’s address was at an apartment nearby, and he wanted to get to her as quickly as possible.

 

Sydney had not had time to tell Jarod much about the girl, but Jarod knew he had to be cautious.  He was certain Miss Parker would not let the girl out of her sights if they were indeed using her as a way to catch him.  Jarod had a feeling, however, that the Centre wanted Sara as much as they wanted him, and if she was indeed related to him, that made her all the more valuable.

 

A few hours later, the bus reached its destination.  It was an early Saturday morning, and not many people were out on the streets, but Colorado promised three hundred days of sun a year, and this day was indeed a sunny one.  There would be people out and about soon.

 

The bus stopped at a street corner, and Jarod stepped out and surveyed the streets around him.  He arrived a few streets down from Sara’s address, hoping to catch sight of Sydney’s car if he and Miss Parker were still watching the girl.  He ambled down the sidewalks to the apartment area, looking as though he had no destination but was just out for a morning walk.  He wore a simple coat over a t-shirt and pair of jeans.  A small bag that held his red notebook and sparse other belongings, was slung over his shoulder, and a pair of sunglasses hid his eyes.  He stopped at a coffee shop, not quite ready to meet Sara, and pulled out his cell phone after ordering a drink.  Dialing a number he memorized, he waited until a sleepy voice answered.

 

“Hello?  Sara?  My name is Jarod.  I wanted to talk to you about something important.”

 

There was a short pause.  “I don’t know you.”

 

“I . . . I don’t know you either, but I was told you were my cousin.”

 

“Cousin?  I’ve never heard of you.  I didn’t know I had any other relatives.”

 

“Neither did I, Sara.”  Jarod took a quick glance around the quiet coffee shop, left a tip for the waiter, then walked outside and back down the street.  “Listen, can we meet?”

 

“I’ll have you know that if this is a joke and you try and pull something funny, you’re going to be surprised.”

 

“Let me guess . . . you know karate.”

 

There was a long silence, then Sara suspiciously asked, “How did you guess?”

 

“I’m good at that kind of thing.”  Jarod paused, then added, “And I’m guessing you are, too.  I was told that you were my cousin, and I’m hoping that it’s true.  I won’t know until I can meet you face to face.”

 

There was a pause as Sara thought about the pretender’s proposal.  “Listen, Jarod, I’ll meet you, say, in half an hour on Ford Street.  We can talk more then.”

 

“I’m looking forward to it,” Jarod grinned, then shut the phone and deposited it in his pocket.

 

* * *

 

Sydney, Miss Parker, and Broots listened intently to the tapped conversation, then Miss Parker looked up sharply at Sydney.

 

“We’ve got him.”

 

* * *

 

It had been two days since Jarod and Sara’s first meeting.  Sara had been suspicious at first, and Jarod had shared her feelings, not wanting to believe that he had actually found a lost relative, a missing piece to his jigsaw puzzle life.  Eventually, both had accepted that they were indeed who each had said that they were, and Sara wanted to talk again.

 

Jarod waited impatiently on the tiny sidewalk that lined the small street labeled “Ford.”  Only abandoned apartment buildings lined this street, a wise choice for someone who didn’t want their conversation overheard, but also isolated enough from the rest of the town that if anything were to happen, no one would know.  He paced slowly, hands in his pockets, knowing what he should say to Sara, and then suddenly, she was there, standing at the corner, wearing jeans and a black top with a shiny leather coat.  The coat reminded Jarod of Miss Parker, and he shook off the image that came to his mind.  Sara’s hair was swept back in a tight ponytail, making her face look more severe and serious.

 

“Jarod?” she questioned.

 

Sara,” he said, walking closer.  A sense of urgency filled his voice.  “They’re watching you.  I had to warn you before they came.  The Centre,” he spoke quickly, afraid they would come before he could finish and flee, “The Centre has been after me for a long time now, and I’m afraid they’ll come after you, too.”

 

“The Centre?” Sara looked confused.  “The place you said you escaped from?”

 

“I can’t explain now,” Jarod continued, desperate now and knowing time was short.  “You have to be careful.  Whatever they tell you, don’t get sucked in.  They tapped our phone calls, so we can’t talk now.  Meet me at the corner of Treecrest Road and Lyon tomorrow, this same time, and we can talk then.”

 

The urge to run was almost irresistible, and Jarod could almost sense Miss Parker and the sweepers approaching.

 

“But—” Sara began, and Jarod cut her off, a finger gently laid on her lips.

 

“You have to trust me,” he said.  “They’ll come after you next.  They’re trying to use you to get to me.  I want to believe that you are my cousin, and if you are then—”

 

Before he could continue, sweepers poured into the street on both sides, dressed in black and armed with handguns.  There were over a dozen on them, and Jarod was sure there were more blocking off any exit available off of the street.

 

“What’s going on?” Sara demanded.

 

Jarod immediately pushed her behind him.  “I’m too late,” he whispered.

 

Miss Parker strode onto the street, parting the sweepers.  She had her own gun in hand and was wearing a dark power suit, sunglasses hiding her eyes.

 

“Nice to finally see you face to face, Jarod,” she quipped.  Sydney and Broots were nowhere to be seen, and Jarod had a feeling that they did not know about Miss Parker’s apprehension of their pretender.

 

“Had enough of seeing my back?” Jarod couldn’t help but to throw back at her.

 

Parker’s face stiffened, and she drew the sunglasses off of her face, tucking them into her breast pocket.

 

“Take him,” she ordered.

 

Jarod wasted no time.  Pushing Sara behind him, he ordered, “Run!”

 

With a wistful glance towards Jarod, Sara took a few hesitant steps away from him, then ran towards the end of the street.  Four sweepers stood there, blocking her way, but she did not hesitate, coming towards them at a dead run, then jumping into a flying crescent kick to take out one of the men’s guns.  They stood frozen at first, surprised by the girl’s actions.

 

“I want them alive!” Parker shouted.

 

Jarod turned towards Miss Parker and darted towards the side of the street, opposite of the way Sara had taken, hoping that they would go after him first.  There were eight sweepers near Jarod, and all of them aimed their guns as he ran.  A few dared to fire, and stray bullets winged through the air.  Two sweepers met Jarod head on, and he was knocked over backwards by their combined weight, executing a complete somersault and flipping over onto his stomach.  The sweepers were immediately on him, locking one of his arms behind his back and wrenching it upward in an attempt to subdue him.  Kicking and struggling, Jarod refused to give up, refused to believe that The Centre was going to take him once more.

 

Miss Parker stood over him.

 

“Give it up, Jarod.  You’re coming back with us whether you like it or not.”

 

“No,” he raged through clenched teeth.

 

“Let him go!”

 

All looked up in surprise to see Sara standing several meters down the street, the four sweepers lying unconscious and disarmed on the sidewalk behind her.  She held one of the sweeper’s guns in her hands, aiming it towards Miss Parker.

 

Parker did not seem perturbed at all.

 

“Really, honey, do you think you know how to use that thing?” she asked.

 

Sara cocked the gun, and raised an eyebrow.

 

“I said let him go,” she repeated.

 

“If you come with us, then we’ll let him go,” Miss Parker replied.

 

“She’s lying!” Jarod shouted from the ground.

 

One of the sweepers punched him in the jaw, stunning him.  Blood began to trickle out of his mouth as he lay still, blinking, trying to regain his senses.

 

“We won’t hurt you, Sara,” Miss Parker continued.  “We just want to talk to you, find out what you know, what you can do.  You can come and go as you please.”

 

“I think you’re a liar,” Sara ground out.

 

Miss Parker raised her eyebrows.  “You don’t even know this man,” she indicated to Jarod.  “How can you believe him and not me?”

 

Sara stood still, obviously confused.

 

Sara, run!” Jarod screamed, managing to pull free of the sweeper that held his arm.

 

This time, Sara listened, racing down the street.

 

The sweepers turned on the pretender, beating him back to the ground.

 

“You need a little calming down, Jarod,” Miss Parker said.  She produced a syringe filled with clear liquid from a small box inside her jacket and handed it to one of the sweepers.

 

“No!  No!” Jarod shouted.

 

The sweepers held him down, fighting to hold him still as he struggled against them.  One of the sweepers peeled back the sleeve of Jarod’s jacket, then rolled the sleeve of his t-shirt up.  The sweeper with the syringe knelt down and inserted the needle into Jarod’s arm.  Almost immediately, the world turned hazy.  Jarod continued to fight, but his movements began to die down, the sweepers did not have to use as much effort to hold him, and eventually, his eyes began to droop.  His last sight was of Sara, pausing at the end of the street to look back at him, then turning the corner and disappearing.

 

“Good night, Jarod,” Miss Parker said, lighting a cigarette.

 

Then the world went from hazy to black.