Tag Archives: Body Rentals
I’m looking for feedback on flow, the narrator’s voice, and pretty much all aspects of the narration. Sound out in the comments.
Teresa continued to stare in the direction “Mister Knight” walked before the crowd swallowed him. She glanced around the room for Candace, but she had likely already left with her target. A squawk in her ear indicated she had an incoming call.
She pressed the wireless device in her ear. “This is Teresa.”
“Teresa, it’s Lance.”
“Colonel?” she gasped. “Where have you been?”
“Indisposed.” There was finality in his one-word answer. Despite her reporter instincts, Teresa decided not to press. “What’s your status?”
“I was on assignment, but I think my target left with her sleeping partner.” A croupier watched from a card table. Teresa turned her back to the man and continued in a whisper. “I met someone calling himself ‘Mister Knight’.”
There was a pause while presumably, Colonel Bishop considered a response. “Tell me about it at headquarters. We’ll be there soon.” He disconnected the call.
We? Teresa thought as she headed for the door. This just gets more and more interesting.
* * *
Still in her evening gown, Teresa arrived at headquarters intent on getting to Bishop’s office. She paused when she passed through a room and a young girl her own age was sitting next to an older woman, deep in conversation. She tried to place either of them, but keeping track of who was who was a tedious job, even without the ability to switch bodies. She continued on her path to Bishop’s office.
Headquarters was arranged in a narrow row with the multi-purpose room near the hidden entrance, followed by living quarters, then the analysis room. In this room she stopped and watched for a moment as computer screens compared a photo of a college-aged girl to surveillance cameras around the city. Whoever this girl was, the team was expending enormous resources to locate her.
Teresa scowled, and wondered if they were using the same amount of resources to pursue John Michaels. She knew he had something to do with the president, and as such was nearly untouchable, but she wanted her revenge. A tech looked over his shoulder and pressed a button on his console, darkening all the screens. She rolled her eyes, and walked down the hall toward Bishop’s office.
When she arrived, she peeked in and saw Bishop examining himself in a mirror. His wrists were raw, and thee was caked blood on his face and shirt. “Mister Knight would like his tie pin back,” she said walking into the office.
Bishop spun and stared at Teresa. “I know why the caged bird kills.”
* * *
James “Jimmy-Jones” Johnson has been a criminal for most of his life. He isn’t any thing special per se, just an average punk showing the wear of the many years trying to make it big. Drugs, armed robbery, cons, he had tried them all. He always ended up where he started – broke and barely out of jail. For years the police had been keeping an eye on him. He had the ambition, but not the brains for the big time.
“I remember a few months back you got picked up for dealin’.” Malcolm “Mal” Farscone was the big time. Unlike Jimmy- Jones, Mal Farscone had the brains. He definitely had the ambition. “Look at you now; you sure have cleaned up since then.” The double pat on the face was as cliché as you could get, but that was the way Mal was. He is a big enough fish in this ‘burg, but didn’t have the bankroll to get any bigger. His influence spread over three counties, enough to infuriate local law enforcement, but not enough to be noticed by the feds.
“Well if I hadn’t met up with that dude from up north, I wouldn’t be where I am today.” The crooked grin on Jimmy-Jones face didn’t tell the half of it. After an overnight in the local jail, he went straight to Mal with what he had learned. Mal responded to that grin and couldn’t help but look at Jimmy-Jones teeth. They were about the ugliest teeth any man could have, and Jimmy-Jones couldn’t help but smile crookedly. “Tonight’s the big payout. You an’ me Jimmy, we gonna be set for life.”
“Shit yeah! Once we move these drugs, we can afford to buy some respect around here.” Jimmy-Jones wiped his nose on the sleeve of his shirt. Mal was appalled he had to associate with the likes of Jimmy-Jones, but this deal couldn’t happen without him. They were waiting in the parking lot of a local strip mall.
More than half of the stores were closed for the night, and the rest had been closed due to the economy. They were to meet a dealer in front of a local restaurant whose only claim to fame was their pancakes were bigger than the plates they were served on. A box truck was parked a row away, Mal and Jimmy-Jones had packed it full of marijuana. It had taken them three months to shake down every local two-bit dealer in all the neighboring counties to get enough for this deal. The plan was simple, hand over the keys to the box truck in exchange for a suitcase. The suitcase of course had all the money Mal would need for the big time and what Jimmy would need for that respect he always wanted.
* * *
Terry Mann received a hero’s parade, and was buried with full honors. Danny wrote and recited a speech. It was a moving speech touting a firefighter’s endless service to others and a renewed commitment toward training and education. When she concluded her speech, the gathered crowd jumped to their feet, cheering and clapping wildly.
Dr. Mann, Colonel Bishop and Terry attended the funeral. Danny had a brief opportunity to see Terry before the mourners disbanded. Colonel Bishop started to speak with Danny, but the flash of a camera ended their brief encounter. Dr. Mann and Colonel Bishop drew back a few paces to allow Terry and Danny a little privacy.
Terry grinned at Danny. “This is some weird mojo, huh? I liked your speech a lot. I really appreciate it.”
“So what happens now? You just continue as Joe the lab tech?”
“Joe knew the risks involved, and everyone at the facility knows I am Terry and not Joe. It’s basically ‘business as usual.’ They tested out the procedure a few more times with no glitches. It appears to work best if the hosts are unconscious for the transfer. Makes the transfer less traumatic to the senses and allows quicker motor control.”
“They’ve tried it again?”
“Yeah. First one day, then two and three. As long as I’m alive and kickin’, they’ll keep trying to do it longer. I’m the first, so they haven’t tried it again with me, but it looks like I will always be the longest swap. Anyway I gotta go, we had to fight to get this outing, and they are eager to have us back. I won’t be able to see you again, so I wanted to say goodbye.”
Terry leaned in and gave Danny a quick kiss on the lips. He was wearing the cologne she had purchased for him. A swell of emotions surged through her with that kiss, but it was brief, and the dull loneliness and sadness quickly returned.
Terry walked away. Colonel Bishop walked behind him toward Dr. Mann waiting at a sedan. The trio got in; Terry paused to look at Danny once again before closing the door. The sedan drove away. As it disappeared down the driveway, Danny’s eyes teared up. Many mourners mistook those tears for tears of the loss of a close colleague, but they were not. They were tears mourning a colleague’s loss of freedom. She suspected Terry would never again feel free, and the world had lost a great firefighter again.
Joe the lab tech screamed, “Get the fuck outta here!”
His arms and legs were flailing, pulling the electrodes off. He rolled over and off the gurney falling to the floor. He lay there unmoving. No one moved. No one spoke. Everyone was in shock.
A raspy voice came from the floor, “Where’s my gear? What the fuck’s goin’ on? I can’t move, is someone gonna help me up or what?”
Dr. Mann and Colonel Bishop rushed over to help the fallen man get him into a sitting position on the gurney.
Dr. Mann held ‘Joe’s’ head in both hands; it appeared ‘Joe’ was unable to hold his head up. He tried to speak in soothing tones, but his eyes were welling up with tears. His voice cracked as he whispered, “Boy I thought I lost you!”
“Dad? What are you doing here? Why can’t I move?”
“Terry, you were in an accident.”
“What happened? Last thing I remember was fighting to close that hatch in the warehouse. It was going to explode.”
Terry reached up to grasp Dr. Mann’s hands and saw his own hands for the first time, “What the fuck is this? These aren’t my hands!”
Dr. Mann lowered his son’s temporary body to the gurney, “Relax, you were injusred, we had to perform an experimental procedure on you.”
“The hell with relaxin’ tell me what the fuck is going on!”
Dr. Mann pointed to Danny and gestured for her to come in the room. Danny ran into the room and peered at Terry, scrutinizing his face for recognition. “Terry? Is it really you? Uh… Terry, you died saving your crew from a BLEVE.”
“Miss Peterson, enough with the theatrics. My son did not die – he was only seriously injured.”
“Terry, they did something, and you are in someone else’s body. Someone get me a mirror!” There was some shuffling and a flurry of activity while the assembled staff attempted to locate a mirror. By the time they got her a mirror, Terry was able to manipulate Joe’s arms and fingers. He grasped the mirror and looked into it to see Joe’s face looking back. Terry was obviously doing okay; he was sticking out his tongue and making faces at the mirror.
Dr. Man scowled at his son’s frivolity, “Well it appears he is able to manipulate the host body. Okay, that’s enough fun for now.” Dr. Mann took the mirror away, “Can you sit up and wiggle your fingers and toes?”
Terry complied and expertly moved Joe’s fingers and toes.
Three men emerged from the hatch as the door slid back and recessed into the fuselage. The first figure to emerge looked oddly familiar to her, but Danny couldn’t quite place him. The next occupant was in a military uniform. Some sort of Special Forces, she thought as she watched the man conduct himself. The final occupant was a nondescript short man; he must have been a lab tech or other support staff. Their importance obvious, Danny focused her attention of the first two. As the trio got closer, she continued to have flashes of recognition of the first man, but her overtaxed brain was having the worst time identifying him.
When they made their way to the elevator door Danny was standing in, the helicopter departed with the same abruptness as when it landed.
Danny overheard one of the orderlies speak to two of the men. “Colonel Bishop, Doctor Mann, please follow me.”
Her flashes of recognition now made sense; Dr. Mann was an older version of Terry Mann. She had never met him, but he was a dead ringer for Terry, or more precisely, Terry was a dead ringer for his father.
Danny followed the group as they walked calmly down the corridor. She fought against demanding that the elevator club hurry to her friend’s side. No one stopped her from following when the trio conferred with Terry’s doctors.
“Miss Peterson here has been making decisions for Terry since her arrival,” the doctor informed the senior Mann. “But now you’re here Doctor Mann, you’ll be assuming that responsibility.”
Dr. Mann glanced in Danny’s direction, “Thank you Miss Peterson, you’re welcome to stay and be in the loop. My son has mentioned a fondness for you during your recent campaign.”
Danny smiled, despite her and Terry’s agreement to keep their relationship secret. “You’re most welcome, if you need anything, let me know.”
Dr. Mann gestured to the Special Forces soldier. “That’s what Colonel Bishop is here for, but I appreciate the sentiment nonetheless.”
Colonel Bishop looked in her direction, but said nothing. He was carrying a large metal suitcase, but he and the lab tech stayed in the background and did their best to stay out of the way.
The lead physician and Dr. Mann were in a heated debate. “I’m not sure we should be performing any experimental procedures right now.” He flung a curtain closed between them and potential eavesdroppers. “Your son is stable, but he is at risk for any number of infections. His chances for survival are too low.”
Tears welled up in Danny’s eyes and she excused herself from the room. Terrance Mann Jr. was one of the most outspoken firefighters in favor of Danny’s run for Fire Commissioner. He attended all her debates and posed some of the most difficult questions. Danny didn’t believe he was being malicious in what questions he asked, and answering those tough questions had solidified some of the people who were on the fence. Terry Mann was a constant presence during her candidacy, and she did not doubt he would be chief of a station soon enough. They had met frequently for coffee and talk. He maintained an aloof nature, but she suspected his façade hid a well of feelings he kept to himself. They managed to meet so frequently; she started looking forward to those future meetings. When schedules or work prevented him from meeting her, she missed him. Their relationship had moved beyond the familiar and was just starting the sparks of an impending romance.
In the hallway she attempted to gather her composure. Less than a week after assuming her duties as Commissioner, she had a fatality. Not just any fatality, but her friend. The whole situation teetered on ironic circumstance.
A nurse rushed up to Danny, “Miss Peterson! I need you to come with me immediately!”
Whatever the emergency was, it was better than thinking about Terry’s last moments. The reprieve, although temporary, was a welcome distraction. She followed the nurse down a few halls and found herself in the intensive care unit. She couldn’t figure out what was so important in the ICU, last she had heard the rescued firefighters had been moved. One of them had even been released, she thought.
As she rushed by groups of firefighters and well-wishers, she picked up fragments of hushed conversation. They all seemed to be talking about Terry Mann. It didn’t make sense – Terry Mann died saving his team. What was so important she that was rushed to the ICU?
“Get those reporters out of my perimeter,” she shouted.
Police officers immediately moved to round up errant news crews. Many of these officers were older than Danny by several, and in a few cases many, years. Despite this, they did their job efficiently; after all, she was the Fire Commissioner. Danny didn’t lord over the individual fire crews or their captains. She new many of them personally and trusted their judgment. Her presence was not really needed here, but the freshness of her election and the growing regional and national attention necessitated she be present.
The fire was rapidly contained. The fire itself wasn’t the issue. The size of the building required multiple attacks to contain and suppress the flames. Containment was nearing completion; several crews were entering the building to prevent flare-ups and to continue the suppression effort. Everyone was starting to relax. Many of the units were breaking down and cleaning equipment. They started transporting equipment and personnel to their fire stations around the city.
Suddenly, the ground below the spectators rumbled. It was enough to knock many of them off their feet and set off car alarms blocks away. Danny was glad the perimeter was established in the earliest stages of the suppression effort. A BLEVE – boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion – consumed the bottom floor of the building. The BLEVE scorched vehicles and singed personnel as far away as one hundred meters. The BLEVE was moved so quick that no one had a chance to react, and it burned out quickly. There was still A-triple-F – advanced film forming foam – everywhere so the building didn’t flare up again. Other than some very scared bystanders, no one appeared to be seriously injured.
A commotion from one of the crews attracted Danny’s attention – something was happening, and there were a lot of professional fire fighters upset about something. The colorful language coming from the crew chief of the unit in the building was carrying – something had gone wrong.
“I want a crew in there yesterday! Get your shit together! Let’s move it! Move! Move! Move!”
Danny recognized the crew chief by the ball cap that was his attempt to conceal his receding hairline. He was supposed to be on vacation, but stopped to assist on the way out of town.
Danny ran up to the group, her duffle flopping against her hip. “Chief, what’s going on?”
“Miss Peterson,” he greeted.
Danny ignored the formal nature he addressed her; he had always called her Danny, but this was a stressful event.
“We think that the BLEVE was the result of the failure of a flammable liquid storage facility under this building. Our team was investigating and we believe they were securing access to the storage tanks. There hasn’t been any radio contact since the explosion. We need a crew in there now!”
The three-alarm fire was a big story, not because of the potential loss of life or property damage or even the simple primal desire to see and command fire itself, but because of whom the Fire Commissioner was. Danny Peterson was the youngest person to ever hold the position of Fire Commissioner in the city’s history. She also happened to be a woman. Women’s rights and equality were all well and good on paper and when scholars discussed and debated it in universities, but in reality, the equality portion of the debate was the most poignant. Women earned less than their male counterparts and women were still considered by many to be fragile. Many difficult jobs, including firefighting, were considered men’s work. Losing a male firefighter in the line of duty was a tragedy, but to lose a woman? People just wouldn’t accept it.
There are those who insist that there is equality, but even in today’s age, a majority of society believes a woman’s job is to maintain the household and pop out male heirs on demand. ‘Barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen’ was not just a tongue-in-cheek expression; it was the expectation of not only most men, but also millions of women everywhere. A woman was perfectly suited to be a schoolteacher or a waitress; even a doctor or politician, but not a combat engineer or firefighter. These beliefs were continually perpetuated by a male-dominated culture. There were scant exceptions, and any woman that strayed from these expected societal roles were branded with the scarlet ‘F’ of Feminism.
Danny Peterson knew she wanted to be a firefighter at a very young age. Her parents were not firefighters, nor were anyone in her extended family. She didn’t live in a neighborhood where hero firefighters lived, and otherwise made their presence known. No tragedy in her past compelled her to want to fight fires. She had no reason by society’s expectations to want to be a firefighter. Societal norms reflected what society thought it wanted, but society couldn’t possibly factor the reasons that resulted in Danny Peterson wanting to fight fires.
The desire was planted at an early age when Danny watched a multi-part documentary on a public broadcasting station. That documentary was about the life of firefighters. During the five-day program, many firefighters candidly revealed the tremendous lack of funding to keep these unsung heroes safe. From aging equipment to poor facilities, firefighting was a dangerous occupation, but undeservedly so. So at age seven, Danny knew her life goal was to fight fires and ensure no hero had to perish due to a lack of technology or funding. While many little girls her age were worrying if their outfits matched their shoes, Danny worried about the trials and tribulations of firefighters. Danny consumed books, trade magazines, and websites focusing on firefighters and firefighting technology. She begged her parents to take her to firefighting museums.