CHAPTER FOUR

They had been on the bus for two days. Another six hours or so and they would arrive in Belle Glade, Florida. Sam had no idea what kind of town it was. The first thing he would have to do is help Randy find the nearest VA hospital or clinic, so he could get his pills. There would have to be a slight delay, while arrangements were made for them. Randy hadn't told him where in Florida they were going - wanted to surprise him. It was irritating, but what could he say? He'd left a quick message before they got on the bus, letting his people know they were on the way to Florida; that's all he could do. Randy hadn't given him his ticket stub until they were actually seated on the bus.

For once, Randy wasn't letting the disruption in his life get him rattled. He watched out the window, pointing out every possible landmark he could. Sam sometimes marveled at Randy's enthusiasm for everything. Absolutely everything. Randy enjoyed life. Pure and simple.

Eventually, the rumble and sway of the bus, plus the long hours of inactivity, lulled Randy to sleep. It gave Sam a chance to catch his breath. He started making plans in his head.

Find the VA first. Make sure they got in touch with Randy's real doctors, got the medications down there as soon as possible. Randy would only have four days worth by the time they arrived. Then he would have to start working with Randy more diligently. He'd passed the 'tests' they'd set for him so far. Now they would be getting more and more difficult. Sam would still be able to help him out, but he would have to start pulling away in that department. Eventually he would only be a bystander. There was no set time table; that was part of the experiment, to see how long it would take.

Sam thought idly about the end of this. It might be months yet. Then again, Randy might succeed better than they expected. Sam had not lied when he told Randy he was smart. That had been one of the criteria. They hadn't counted on the mental problems. That was something the doctors were working on, refining the medications to alleviate that. Another thing they had had to adjust for. Not Randy's fault - that was the doctors' screw up. It wouldn't be counted against him.

Sam also thought about Randy's past. He had the full packet. Knew all the facts about him. He hadn't known what the actual person was like, though. He wondered if he was as enthusiastic then as he was now, or if that was part of the changes that had inadvertently occurred. He knew the confusion and problems with concentration were new to Randy. From his own experiences, Sam knew Randy could not have done the things he did before if he'd had those problems.

What bothered him most about this whole thing was the memory loss. Randy had had a life before this. People he cared about. Plans for his future. His history. Most of that was gone. Psychologists. Sam had begun to hate them. There was no drug, no surgery that could selectively destroy portions of a person's memory. So, over the first few weeks they'd had Randy, they had worked him over but good, psychologically. Brainwashing of the highest magnitude. Thoughts of past events or people brought up other ugly - and false - memories along with them. So, like adult survivors of child abuse, he had pushed it all so far back into his memory it would be nearly impossible to retrieve. They allowed him to remember only what they wanted him to, needed him to. Sam was glad he'd had nothing to do with that phase.

Sam had had to leave people behind, too. The whole experiment was classified as "top secret". He couldn't tell anyone what he was doing, where he was going. Had just left them. But it was different for Sam. He could still remember his past. And he thought about it a lot. Regretfully. By the time this was all over with, he didn't know if he would have that life to go back to or not. Whether he would be able to explain things away or not. It would be difficult at the least. And he'd never be able to tell them what he'd been doing. Top secret. Damn.

He watched Randy as he slept. The two of them, so much alike, so different. Sam didn't know what would happen to either of them when this was finally done.


*****

Carla was updating her files. Looking at the records from the coroner. That was odd. She didn't see any record of Smith requesting a copy of the autopsy. She would have expected that. Perhaps Stockwell had gotten it for him. Carla liked her records complete. She put in a call to the doctor who had done the autopsy.

"Yes, ma'am, General Stockwell got, uh, three copies. One was for you. Said another was for a Colonel Smith or Jones or something like that."

Carla smirked. She hadn't met this doctor but pictured a befuddled professor type. "Okay, Doctor, thank you. I just need to keep track of things."

"Oh, well, there was one more request. In fact, I just sent it off the other day."

Carla stopped dead still. "From General Stockwell?"

"Uh, no, ma'am, it was from a Dr. Sullivan, out in California. Can't remember the name of the town right off hand, though. I'd have to look that up."

"You kept a written record of it?"

"Yes, ma'am. Both General Stockwell and Dr. Barish wanted me to keep very careful records. Uh, let's see here..." Carla could hear him shuffling papers, "...yes, she was from a place called Bad Rock, California. Funny, too." He told her about Maggie's other request.

Carla sat thinking, hard. This could either be a major catastrophe or a fantastic gold mine, depending on how she played it.

"Ma'am? You still there?"

Carla shook herself mentally. "Yes, doctor. Listen, I want you to bury that request by Dr. Sullivan. Do you understand what I'm saying? Don't destroy it. Just...'lose it'. It's very important."

The coroner sounded doubtful. "I don't know, ma'am. What if the general or Dr. Barish asks me for it?"

"Then you give it to them. But if you don't tell them about it, they won't know to ask for it, will they?"

"Well, no..."

"Then I don't want you volunteering anything to anyone. And if there should be any further inquiries, I want to know immediately. Regardless of who they come from." Her tone of voice brooked no argument.

She hung up the phone, staring at it, thinking. Eventually, Stockwell would learn of this. Probably so would this Dr. Barish. She wasn't familiar with him. Or her. No names were exchanged in this whole matter. She didn't really know who she was dealing with over there. She would have to do some checking. Discreetly. Very discreetly.

And at some point, she needed to meet with Dr. Maggie Sullivan.