Favoritism is a bad practice when raising one’s children, but guilt sometimes makes it necessary. When Daria and Evelina were little girls, they were carried away from their mother country, Russia, by their loving parents. The hope was to leave the cold of Novosibirsk for the opportunities of the United States.
Their father, Mark, was an auto mechanic. Their mother, Kira, was a biomedical research scientist at the Novosibirsk Research Institute. It was not her idea to leave Russia, but her husband insisted. Mark had a cousin who had emigrated to the U.S. and settled in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. The cousin had become the very successful owner of a taxi company. It was that cousin who invited the family to come and live in New York City.
When they arrived in New York Daria was seven, and her younger sister, Evelina, was only four. The first four years in their new country went well, but Kira was becoming increasingly unhappy. The able scientist was now a housewife spending her days raising the couples two daughters while her husband, Mark, found himself not only repairing his cousin's taxis, but he also began driving them to make ends meet. Thus, he was never at home.
Eventually, Kira had enough. She planned a trip back to Russia to visit her ailing mother, and she never returned. Mark was humiliated and dejected. So much so that he began drinking vodka as though it were water. It was the only thing that relieved the pain of his broken heart. There were many nights where the alcohol and the devil made Mark say and do things outside of his gentle character. Including somethings so horrible that he could never forgive himself. But he was determined to keep his American dream alive, and he did.
That was ten years ago. Today the girls, Daria and Evelina, are all grown up. Daria is now 21 and Evelina 18 years old. Mark never remarried, but he did hire a series of babysitters to watch his girls while he continued to work very hard to give them a comfortable life. Ultimately, he began his own taxi garage and did very nicely for himself especially since he didn’t need to employ a mechanic to repair his cars.
Most importantly the single father put away the bottle and replaced it with the fountain of hope, which he found in the local Russian Orthodox Church. The girls grew up under the guidance of the church. Something which likely would not have happened had their mother, Kira, remained in the picture. A woman of science, Kira was also a staunch atheist.
The two sisters born three years apart were entirely different in many ways. Daria, the older one was a beautiful 5’ 10” blond-headed extrovert although she barely graduated high school. Daria’s only goal in life was to break into New York’s glamorous modeling industry.
The younger sister, Evelina, is a shorter homelier version of Daria. Although she too is a natural blond, she is not nearly as attractive as her big sister. However, like her mother, Evelina is exceptionally bright. She graduated early and was accepted on a full academic scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania in the coming year. What she lacks in beauty she more than makes up for with brains.
The two sisters have envied one another to the point of hatred for many years. To compound the situation their father, Mark, favors the pretty wholesome one, Daria, and has done so forever according to Evelina. He gives her whatever she asks for, and only she knows why.
What’s worse is that Daria regularly beats her smaller, younger, and less attractive sister mercilessly. She has always enjoyed slapping, kicking, jumping on, and throwing solid objects at her scrawny sibling. Daria is as vicious as she is beautiful. Today is no different.
“Daria please help me straighten up the living room.” Evelina requested of her older sister,” I have company coming.”
“You have a visitor – who’s that?” says Daria with an air of disbelief.
“It’s a boy.”
“You have a boy coming into our father’s house when he’s not at home. Are you nuts?”
“You’re such a hypocrite Daria. You think I don’t know the parade of guys you’ve had in here. Everyone in the neighborhood knows that you’re a nymphomaniac slut. I just hope papa doesn’t find out.”
That was enough to initiate yet another beat down by the “blond beauty” on the “nerdy little professor.” But today Evelina was saved by the sound of the doorbell, ding-dong.
Evelina picked herself up from the carpet and ran to answer the door. In walked Artem, Evelina’s guest. Artem greeted Evelina with a warm hug, as though they were intimately familiar. At which Daria thought to herself “What is this about?” Artem was a handsome young man. He looked like a Greek god. In Daria’s opinion, he was way too cute to be with her nerdy, unattractive sister whom she had mutual contempt for.
“Artem this is my sister Daria. She was just leaving.”
Daria extended her hand to welcome Artem, but she made sure to do it suggestively and seductively. The young Greek-American man with wavy black hair looked into the blond Russian-American woman’s beautiful face and just grinned back at her with a naughty grin as he imagined what she was suggesting.
Seeing their interaction, Evelina began shouting and screaming at Artem “That’s it. I want you to leave now Artem.”
“What did I do?” Artem asked as Evelina began shoving him toward the door until finally, he was out on the street.
Evelina then turned to face her sister and shouted at her “You no good bitch.”
Daria laughed and unleashed a barrage of blows on Evelina’s oversized head which seemed to have connected with significant effect. Evelina fled into her bedroom and locked the door. Daria stood outside screaming at her in Russian to open the door so that she could continue with her beating.
The front door was not locked when Mark turned the doorknob to enter the house. Returning home earlier than expected, he heard the commotion and said out loud “These girls will kill each other one day.”
On seeing her father walk into the house, Daria taunted her sister in a way meant to really get under her skin. “ You may be smart but you know I’m daddy’s favorite.” With those words, Mark shook his head and whispered: “Don’t talk like that to your sister.”
Mark was just about to say something to his youngest daughter when she swung open her bedroom door expecting to encounter her sister’s flawless face. As if possessed by an evil spirit Evelina shouted at the top of her lungs with pure rage “This is for you. You father fucking whore.” As she hurled the contents of a glass jar filled with disfiguring concentrated sulfuric acid unintentionally into her father's face. Mark screamed in agonizing pain as his face melted into his skull, but he knew he had earned this pain for ruining his oldest daughter when she was just 13.
The Mariana Islands are a territory of the United States. Today is a typically beautiful day there. The weather is 85 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny with a cooling breeze blowing off of the crystal blue waves of the Pacific Ocean.
It’s not so different than where Dr. Tina Chen hoped that she would end up by now after making a monumental discovery three years earlier. She had found a way to communicate with the future and had big plans on exploiting the technology she had discovered. The only difference is that she imagined herself a free single woman, and abundantly wealthy.
Tina grew up in New York City. She is the well-educated only child of professional parents who had immigrated from Hong Kong. Her background in theoretical physics and computer science led her to the discovery of a cloud which is present in cyberspace where time does not exist.
Dr. Chen was able to access the timeless quantum cloud and asked questions of her future self to which she was then able to send the answers back in time by way of what she dubbed time-mail or t-mail. Queries such as “Who will win the Super Bowl?” or “Will the stock market move up or down tomorrow?” The brilliant doctor had found the proverbial golden egg laying goose.
Dr. Chen is a certified genius as are all of her fellow inmates here in the village of Songsong on Rota Island. They were each detained by the government for having stumbled upon DARPA technologies which the U.S. military considered a national security risk. Together they number 13 inmates in all. They come from varying backgrounds in different disciplines of science and engineering. Their ages ranged from 32 all the way to 88 years of age. Tina Chen is the 32-year-old.
The detention center at Songsong is a black site operated by the CIA. On paper, it does not exist. The inmates are all officially disappeared persons. Their families and friends have no clue of what became of them. They are well cared for and free in their movements about an isolated area of Songsong. It is just that they are not allowed to leave the village and are under 24-hour surveillance at all times. In fact, of the 13 detainees, three of them are actually government spies who don’t even know one another to be spies.
Many of her colleagues are very despondent about their fate, but not Dr. Chen. She spends her time learning to fish and tending to her garden. None of the “inmates” are allowed access to phones or the internet, but nearly anything else they ask for is provided to them usually within 72 hours. It is understood that they are not there to be punished, but rather to be controlled.
Dr. Chen was obsessed with keeping track of the calendar and news from the outside. Usually, a copy of the New York Times or the Washington Post was supplied to the unwilling residents of Songsong to keep them aware of what was going on in the outside world.
Tina always remains cheerful. Consoling the others and even discovering that among her intellectual equals she has a keen sense of humor which they all appreciate. What makes it possible for Dr. Chen to go on so carefree is that she knows something about the future which none of the others nor their captors know.
Three years previously, on a frosty February night in New Paltz, New York where she did her research and taught as a lecturer at SUNY, Tina received a response through the t-mail computer she had designed. The question she asked her future self-was “Where will I be in five years?” The answer she received was both puzzling and alarming.
You will be living in paradise in the Mariana Islands in a place called Songsong, but don’t despair because World War Three is about to start and your beloved New York City will soon exist only as a memory. However, you and those with you will be safe.
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The retired old dentist, Dr. Blagojevich, became exhausted as he hurried to climb several flights of stairs all the way up to the top. He knew that the time had come for him to free his most treasured pet “Cat” whom he had kept in the apartment on the fourth floor of his redbrick apartment building for 10 years. His heart was racing. He knew this was the end.
The doctor used to have tenants, but the headaches became too much. The last one moved out twelve years ago. Two years before “Cat” came into his life. Now he had his privacy and more importantly peace and quiet. Much of that quiet time he spent playing with his precious pet on the fourth floor.
“Cat” was just one of many of his pets. More than two dozen furry little creatures were wandering about. He allowed the others to come and go up and down Kent Street as they pleased, but “Cat” was different. He always kept her in the house.
When Dr. Blagojevich and his late wife, Velma, first came to America from Poland fifty years ago, they settled in this neighborhood. Greenpoint, Brooklyn had been a heavily Polish enclave of New York City for many decades. It was a welcoming community where they fit in.
The Blagojevich’s had hoped to raise a family here, but they soon discovered that they couldn’t have children. It was a hard pill to swallow, but with time they came to accept it. That was when Velma began insisting that the couple should have cats. The cats became their surrogate children. Initially, there were only three of them.
As a retiree and a widower, Dr. Blagojevich had been very lonely. He paid little attention to his cats beyond feeding them, as they multiplied and spread throughout the neighborhood like wild weeds. Then one night ten years ago, as he was taking out the garbage, a small child of no more than two wandered up to him.
The toddler was a stranger to the old man, yet she boldly waddled to him with her arms extended upward. The former dentist immediately smiled, leaned forward, and scooped the babe up in his arms. Looking up and down Kent Street he carried her into his abode. From that moment little Catherine Grant became his favorite pet. "Cat" was an abbreviation for Catherine.
The doctor’s days were filled with the joy that comes with raising a child. It lasted until this morning when the detectives from the New York City Police Department appeared at his front door with a search warrant.
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During the late 50s and early 60s, doo-wop was the coolest, most popular form of music in America. Its popularity was nationwide. Talented groups were springing up from coast to coast like an overdue wheat harvest. One group of teens out of Harlem, New York rocked the music world, coming to prominence in 1955. Before then doo-wop acts were usually in their twenties, but these youngsters were only teenagers. Thus, they bore the name Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers.
13-year-old phenom, Frankie Lymon, was the groups lead singer. He had been singing in church since he was only five. His parents had a gospel band called the Harlem Mayors. The band traveled around to different churches giving praise and glorifying God with their music. Satan didn’t like that, and so he launched a spiritual attack against the Lymons. The plan was to conquer Frankie’s soul. He was the second oldest child and the one with the most angelic voice.
Satan knew just how to entice the richly talented precocious teen. On the night when Frankie and the other members of his group had wrapped up recording “Why Do Fools Fall in Love.” Satan visited Frankie in a dream.
“Hello Frankie, do you know who I am?” The evil spirit asked.
Frankie looked into the Devil’s red eyes and could smell the ashes, and he immediately knew the answer to the question.
You’re Satan! Frankie shouted at the top of his voice as if to sound the alarm to the entire neighborhood. “Don’t be afraid of me Frankie. I’m your friend.” Said the devil.
Young Frankie had grown up in the rugged Harlem of the 1950s, which was predominantly an African-American ghetto. He knew not to show fear. Although the thirteen-year-old soprano was at first terrified and could feel his heart racing. He reminded himself that this is only a nightmare and that he would soon wake up tossing and turning from a bad dream.
Frankie, I want you to make your mom and dad proud. I want to give you money enough so that your mom won’t need to clean people’s homes, and dad won’t need to be gone all the time out driving a truck. You’d like that now Frankie, wouldn’t you?
“Why yes, I would, but I trust the Lord. He will make it happen for us.” Frankie responded.
The devil became irritated by Frankie’s response, to which he then replied “Frankie if you read your Bible you will know that I am the Lord of this world. It is written in Luke 4:6. If there is something in the material world that you want you should ask it of me. I am your friend.”
Having been raised in church all his life Frankie also knew that the devil was a liar. Which led him to boldly challenge the devil’s claim. Frankie declared “How do I know that you aren’t bullshitting me devil?”
The devil laughed out loud and smoke emanated from his mouth. “Look here.” Said the devil, as he held out the palm of his rather large right hand. Just then a vision materialized. In the devil's palm, Frankie could see his future beginning with the success of the soon to be released “Why Do Fools Fall In Love.”
The devil also showed Frankie and his mates from the Teenagers traveling the world on tour. They were each dressed to the nines in fine matching suits and performing on stage and on television as throngs of adoring fans cheered their performance. It was a glamorous spectacle. “All this I can deliver for you and then some.” Satan told the youngster.
Frankie was amazed and was ready to agree, but then he remembered that this was the devil, and he declined the tempting offer. But the devil was not deterred. He knew Frankie better than Frankie knew Frankie. “Frankie you drive a hard bargain.” Said the devil.
“Frank, here’s what I’m gonna do for you,” said the fallen angel, “I’m gonna give you more hit records.” The devil then conjured a grey colored record player and began playing songs by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers which Frankie had never heard before let alone recorded. The devil played “Little Bitty Pretty One,” then “Teenage Love” followed by “Tears On My Pillow.”
“What do you think Frankie baby?” The Prince of Darkness asked.
Frankie was too astonished to speak. The King of Hell knew that he had him leaning. One or two more inducements and he would close the deal.
You like girls don’t you Frankie? It was a rhetorical question. The devil knows everyone’s desires. He then displayed three lovely young women. They each somewhat resembled Frankie’s mother in her youth, all fine specimens of womanhood. “You may marry anyone of these pretty ladies you desire Frankie. “Frankie began smiling and rubbing his hands together.
“Hell, I see you can’t make up your mind. I’m gonna let you marry all three of them then.” Satan said in a voice of absolute authority, with the tone of a priest pronouncing a newlywed couple to be man and wife for the first time.
Frankie was now giddy with amusement. He was still just a boy, and the devil knew that for now, his biggest obsession wasn’t necessarily girls or women. Frankie could most easily be swayed with a new bike, candy, hamburgers, and Pepsi Cola. So, the devil produced a large brown paper bag.
Frankie, if I show you what’s in this bag and you like it, you can have it in addition to all my other promises. But that means that from now on you belong to me, and in 13 years I will come to collect what belongs to me. Is that a deal?
The innocent thirteen-year-old nodded his head and said: “You got a deal devil!”
The devil smiled an evil smile as he opened the paper bag showing Frankie that it was filled with candy. He then closed the bag and smashed it over the teenagers head. In the morning when Frankie woke from his sleep his head was filled with lots of great new lyrics, and there was candy everywhere.
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Dr. Elaine LaFlor taught quantum physics at NYU Tandon School of Engineering in downtown Brooklyn. On this particular morning, she was running late. However, she had just enough time to boil an egg, which usually was all that she had for lunch beside a green smoothie which she would buy in the school's cafeteria.
So, she walked over to her refrigerator and counted out seven eggs.
“Good that’s enough for the whole week.” Elaine thought to herself. She then set a pot to boil before adding the eggs one by one to the gently simmering water. The professor used a large wooden spoon to avoid scalding her fingertips. The eggs would be ready in eight minutes, so she set the timer on the stove and left the kitchen to pack her laptop briefcase with the lecture notes she had prepared for today.
Today’s lecture would be a continuation of last week’s class on Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. As she closed the zipper to her briefcase, she heard a voice inside her head. It said to her “You are getting close.” It was loud and clear, and it startled the professor. She had never experienced anything like that before, but after a moment she shook her head and laughed it off. She thought to herself “Elaine, it’s time for a vacation.”
A few minutes later the timer went off in the kitchen. The professor moved swiftly. She would have just enough time to catch her bus if she hurried. Looking down into the pot Dr. LaFlor noticed only six eggs, and she thought to herself “That’s odd?”
She was sure that she had counted out seven eggs. One for each day of the week.
“I don’t have time for this now.” The professor said out loud. Her curious mind would not allow her not to investigate further. She had to know what happened to the seventh egg. The smartly dressed spectacled professor looked at her refrigerator and was convinced that she had miscounted.
She swung the refrigerator door open with enough force to cause a bottle of ketchup to fall from one of its shelves. Grabbing the egg carton and placing it on the marble countertop, she opened the lid. What she saw next forced a confused grimace on to her face. There was only one egg remaining in the carton. It was a purple pastel Easter egg. She picked it up with her right hand and stared at it with amusement.
The doctor turned back to the pot of boiled eggs on the stovetop. Now they were all pastel-colored Easter eggs. One red, one orange, one green, an aqua colored one, a blue one and the purple one, which Dr. LaFlor was now squeezing so tightly in the palm of her hand that it cracked.
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The sun was so bright in the sky that he could hardly see anything at all. There was so much commotion that Randy didn’t know what to think. Machine guns were firing at the top of the Empire State Building as a squadron of Curtiss Helldivers let loose their ammunition on the giant gorilla that had scaled the landmark skyscraper with a young blond who he had taken hostage.
All Randy knew was that he wanted to help her, and so he did when the mortally wounded King Kong lost his grip and dropped Ann Darrow from way on high to the avenue below. It was Randy who caught her in his thick, burly arms. The crowd went wild at his incredible act of heroism, but they soon had to scatter as the fallen hairy giant was accelerating at the speed of gravity right towards them.
Randy tossed the damsel over his shoulder and took off at full speed down Fifth Avenue wearing only a pair of white cotton briefs, his cowboy boots, and his beige 10-gallon hat. Moments later the giant gorilla hit the ground creating an impact crater. Randy had not had time to check on Ann until now. He laid the unconscious beauty on the ground and propped her up as he fanned her with his hat. Randy was from Texas. He was in town for an event at Madison Square Garden. Oddly enough he couldn’t even recall why he was in New York City at all.
“Ann, Ann are you okay honey?” The muscularly built and well-groomed bearded man questioned the passed out beauty in his distinctly Texan accent.
“Where am I?” The young woman groggily responded as she came to.
You’re with me.
Oh, I recognize you. You're Randy Big Tex Morris.
“I am? - Yeah, that’s right. - I am him, ain’t I?” Randy replied to Ann not wanting to tip off that he really didn’t know who he was.
You saved me back there. I don’t know how to thank you enough.
Well, Ann, we can discuss all of that on our first date. I can’t hardly wait to spoil you rotten you pretty thing you.
My name is Faye, not Ann. Remember, we went over that?
Just then Randy’s mother approached the couple from across the street. Suddenly Randy was transformed into a five-year-old version of himself, although he was still barely dressed, wearing the same outfit. The little boy remained silent, as his mother addressed the now fully recovered blond.
Please excuse us Ann. Randy come on now son. We gotta be gett’in back to what you was do’in.
Mrs. Morris, I told Tex to tell you that my name is not Ann, it’s Faye. Ann Darrow was the character's name in the movie “King Kong.” I’m just Faye. Faye just like the actress that played the part of Ann Darrow in the movie. Do you get it?
That’s fine darl’in. I’ll see you at the wedd’in sweetheart.
The next thing Randy knew he was back home in Tyler, Texas in Ms. Humphrey’s preschool learning to count.
Ms. Humphrey was counting out loud slowly and deliberately, “One, two, three, …”
Then suddenly Randy was big again, and a bright light began shining in his face. It was so bright that it was hurting Randy’s eyes. Ms. Humphrey disappeared into the intense glowing light.
Although he wanted to shield his eyes from the glare, he couldn’t move his arms. Randy looked to his left, and there was his mother crying in a sea of rowdy strangers. He then turned to his right, and he noticed Faye. She was dressed in a skimpy white bikini and holding a huge black card to her well endowed bosom. On the card was printed a large white number eight. In her left hand, she was holding what appeared to be a silver colored iPhone. Faye had a shocked expression on her face.
Randy Big Tex Morris was the top ranked contender for the heavyweight title. He had been ahead in tonight’s main event, a fight for the very title he had wanted for so long. His dreams of wealth and fame were now within reach. Randy could taste victory.
It wasn’t until he saw Faye, the dazzling blond card girl from Cincinnati, that he began to lose his focus. Randy had always been a sucker for a beautiful blond. As the seventh round ended and Faye entered the ring to announce the start of round eight, Randy Tex Morris did a double take. He was stunned by her beauty. It was love at first sight. Although Randy was winded, he was determined not to let Faye get away.
Quickly spitting out his mouthpiece, the boxer said to, his cornerman, Evans “Hey, Evans let me get your phone right quick.”
Smooth and fast Randy had Evans hand his phone to Faye as she walked by his corner. “I’d love to take you to dinner tomorrow night if your boyfriend don’t mind,” Randy uttered in his most folksy Texas drawl.
The surprisingly bashful, half-clad card girl in high heels coyly accepted the phone from, Evans.
“But I don’t have a boyfriend.” Faye said smiling back at Randy flirtatiously as she winked her right eye and proceeded to walk on.
“What’s your name. I’ll be calling you soon Darl'in. The code to unlock that phone is 1234.” The smitten pugilist quickly shouted to the blond bombshell. Faye cheerfully nodded her head then turned away and re-raised the sign as high as she could above her head announcing the upcoming eighth round while holding Evan's phone in her left hand.
“My Name is Faye.” She turned back and shouted loud enough to be heard over the commotion in the arena while walking backward and nearly tripping over her stilettos.
“Is that Faye as in Faye Ray from the movie "King Kong"?” Randy asked in his loudest non-yelling voice. The statuesque blond could hardly hear him. Madison Square Garden was packed with 16,000 noisy spectators.
Lowering her card Faye turned and shouted back “That was Ann Darrow, played by Faye Wray.” She pointed to herself with her index finger as she repeated her name “Faye” before climbing down from the ring.
The cornerman was flabbergasted. “What did you just do with my phone Tex?”
Don’t you worry Evans. I’ll have it back to you by this same time tomorrow, or I’ll buy you two more just like it. Besides, I use it more than you do anyways!
Randy was so pleased with himself that he barely reacted when the bell rang. As he adjusted his mouthpiece against the thumb of his right glove, he turned to face his opponent. Expecting to meet him in the middle of the ring.
Randy was surprised immediately by Killer Kong Jackson’s arching right jab. The defending champion had caught him off guard the moment he turned from his corner. Jackson walloped Randy with so much force that everyone in the entire arena could hear and feel the blow as it landed. Randy Big Tex Morris had just been knocked into a different reality. The fight was over at the count of ten.
Doctor Barry Eisenbarth had worked at the Morgan Institute for Biomedical Research in Manhattan for twenty-five years. When he first joined the staff, he was highly regarded as a brilliant researcher who had wowed his colleagues at Yale with his Ph.D. dissertation. His area of expertise was in manipulating the inner workings of pathogenic organisms. He had begun to master the process of turning on and off the genetic switches which made germ cells tick.
Dr. Eisenbarth was a talented scientist, but up until now his work has all amounted to far less than expected. If he were a professional baseball player, he would have been cut from the team a long time ago. No one was more frustrated and embarrassed by this than Barry himself. It was not for lack of effort. He and his faithful research assistant, Rachel Hartwell, had labored for thousands of hours through the years only to achieve interesting yet mundane results.
Refusing to accept a career without stellar accomplishment as his fate, Dr. Eisenbarth spawned a plan that could land him a Noble Prize. He generated a super-virulent strain of the dreaded pneumonic plague, also known as the Black Death of the 14th century. Next, he created an ingenious cure, which required injecting the victim with a lab-engineered virus. The manmade virus would then eat into the cell wall of the Yersinia pestis bacteria rendering it into a harmless state of suspended animation.
To be sure Barry first infected himself with the plague. In one of the labs negative pressure rooms, he inhaled the Yersinia spores which he obtained from the CDC in Atlanta under the pretense that it would be used for some other legitimate purpose. Within 24 hours the symptoms began manifesting themselves. Without delay, the doctor inoculated himself with the curative viral agent. Like magic within four hours, he was feeling well again. These experiments he kept to himself.
Although Rachel did notice Dr. Eisenbarth’s activity in the lab, she did not question him. The following day, however, her curiosity got the best of her, and she asked him about the experiment. The doctor explained partially without incriminating himself. He then instructed Rachel to continue monitoring the flask for 14 days. Then she was to discard the vial of broth and other equipment according to the usual biohazardous materials protocol.
But Rachel was now very curious because of the mysterious nature the doctor had assigned to this particular undertaking. Two weeks later, instead of discarding the experiment, she moved it to a storage closet down the hall. There she continued to observe the vial of deactivated pneumonic plague material not even realizing its harmful potential.
Dr. Eisenbarth waited until the tenth day after he had treated himself with the cure. Then he began his campaign of spreading the air-borne plague bacteria. That night Barry caught several taxis to different destinations around New York City. It was a Friday evening when the nightlife was really jumping. In the backseat, he sprayed the active plague spores into the air using a two-dollar spray bottle purchased at a local Duane Read drug store. By the time the night was done Barry had been all around town and spent almost $400 on cab fares. To be cautious, he injected himself with another dose of the cure.
Within a week people began showing up at several area hospitals. They all had the same symptoms, presenting at the emergency room with severe fevers and coughing up blood as the plague ravaged their lungs. Typical antibiotic therapy was not effective against this “Superflu” as it was being referred to on the news. Nearly 100 people were reported to be fighting for their lives, as thousands more were now starting to show signs of being infected by the unfolding airborne pandemic.
Dr. Eisenbarth showed up at the lab early the next day. It was time for the hero to come to the rescue. He began making phone calls to hospitals all around town connecting with different heads of infectious disease to inform them that he had been working with the CDC on a new influenza cure, and he knew, based on empirical evidence, that it would work against this new “Superflu.” The doctor even went against Morgan Institute’s policy and contacted the media to come in for a press conference before running it by his superiors and the public relations department.
As he hung up from one of the many calls he had made, Rachel interrupted him.
Doctor Eisenbarth, about that experiment you ask me to get rid of a couple of weeks ago.
“Yes, what about it Rachel?” The doctor said just before he began coughing.
I kept it going, and there is something you should see.
Barry looked at Rachel with a puzzled and disturbed expression on his face.
“Show me.” He said calmly.
The two of them dressed in white lab coats walked down the well-polished tiled hall and entered the storage closet. Rachel switched on the light and directed the doctor to the lower shelf where she had placed the experiment days before. By now the doctor was coughing almost uncontrollably.
Dr. Eisenbarth became pale as a ghost when he saw that the Yersinia colony had sprung back to life. It was now growing up from the broth and covering the entirety of the inside of the flask. The cure had failed. The Black Death was back with a vengeance.
Captain Wayne Hightower was a decorated naval aviator who fought in the Iraq War between 2003 and 2010. Like many who served in that conflict, he and his family made tremendous sacrifices in the “war on terror.”
During the first four years, Wayne got to spend less than eight weeks at home with his newlywed wife. Now things were different. Captain Hightower has transitioned to a career flying for American Oceans Airways. As a civilian, Wayne was home at least five nights a week.
During the war, he was responsible for dropping tons of bombs on the enemy. There is almost no doubt that the captain killed lots of people in the process, but the captain has no regrets. He did it to keep the U.S. homeland safe. Captain Hightower never missed his target. Today’s mission is a piece of cake compared to what he was called upon to do during those glorious days.
Today the captain, his co-pilot and five-person cabin crew, will be flying 233 passengers from Los Angeles to New York City. Leaving at 11:15 a.m., they are scheduled to arrive at LaGuardia at 7:50 p.m. local time. For this flight crew, it is a trip home. They are all based out of the airline's New York hub. They have flown together countless times, and they all know each other pretty well.
At 7 o’clock Captain Hightower announced to his first officer, Jeff Skills, that he would be taking a break to use the lavatory. When he was finished, he uncharacteristically took the liberty to fraternize with the passengers. The captain seemed overly jolly. The crew attributed it to his being in good spirits. He had just returned from a two-week break to address some family issues.
He and his wife of 20 years, Crystal, were going through a rough patch. Wayne had insisted that their children take a paternity test, since he was stationed in Iraq during part of the time when both his 17-year-old daughter Cindy, and 14-year-old son Bradley, should have been conceived. Finally, Crystal gave in to her husband’s insistence that the tests be done. Before leaving LA, the lab had e-mailed the test results to the captain.
The captain seemed a bit off base even during the pre-flight test. Jeff, the first officer, had been wondering if the captain was alright, so he paged him over the aircraft's speaker system. The captain didn’t delay returning to the cockpit. He grinned oddly and nodded to each of the cabin crew members as he passed them on his way back to the flight deck.
Upon re-entering the cockpit, he announced his presence lightly tapping Jeff's left shoulder with his right index finger while imitating Arnold Schwarzenegger's voice in the 1984 movie “Terminator,” the captain secured the door behind him and announced with an ominous tone “I’M BACH!”
“Thank God. I thought Ben Laden had grabbed you. “The first officer responded with a half-serious grin.
“No, nothing like that. I just needed to stretch my legs. I felt a little cramped. If you want to take a break, now’s a perfect time for you to go Jeff.” Wayne suggested with a firm, authoritative tone of voice as he reached into his left pocket to pull out a roll of LifeSavers breath mints.
I’m okay. My bladder is pretty strong. I think I can hold it for another hour or so until after we land.
How about a breath mint Jeff?
My breath smells like an angel’s fart. I’m okay Wayne.
Oki Doki! With that Wayne reached into his right pocket and removed the long white cord to his iPhone charger. He then lunged forward standing behind his co-pilot and wrapped the wire around the seated man’s neck and pulled back with all his might.
The co-pilot was at a disadvantage in the struggle because he was securely fastened into his seat by the complicated seat belt harness system used by commercial airline pilots. Before long he began to turn blue and then lost consciousness, but not before he urinated on himself. Captain Hightower continued strangling him for a full five minutes with a crazed expression on his face until the first officer was no more.
At that moment Captain Hightower knew, after all these years of wondering, that he had what it took to kill a man with his hands. In fact, at that moment he realized that the sensation of smelling a fear-stricken enemy’s urine was something he craved. Now it was time to see if he also had it in him to kill a woman with just as little remorse.
Captain Hightower had assigned himself one last mission. He would crash the Boeing 789 into his comfortable suburban home in Oyster Bay Cove, Long Island. Captain Wayne Hightower was a proud man, and his ego would not allow him to accept the truth that neither of his teenage children was his biological offspring. Crystal had deceived him for 20 years. Now she was the enemy.
Hi, I'm Lester Patterson,