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Operation Stingray                        Part 3 // PG. 1 of 3


     Whatever you do, find LaFarge.

     Brian's last words echoed in my mind as I made my way uptown. I held a plastic bag with some supplies I had picked up on the way: bandages for my shoulder, a small pocket knife, a flashlight, some bags of trail mix, and a bottle of water; not much, but it would float me while I headed up north to look for LaFarge.

     LaFarge. Jesus Christ, Brian didn't tell me who this guy was, or how I was supposed to find him before he...before they...

     I shook my head. My vision was shimmering like the pavement on a hot day. The side effects of the pill were getting worse and I didn't know how long they would last. I was seeing things. Several times on the walk uptown I thought I saw the man in the bowler hat reflected in a store window. He was never there when I turned my head, but I swear his reflection was getting closer.

     I reminded myself it was just my eyes playing tricks on me. At least I hoped that's all it was. In any case, as long as the pill was working it was shielding me from their control devices. The real thing to be afraid of was the side effects wearing off.

     Control devices. Mind control devices. It still sounded ridiculous, even after everything I'd seen that day. “There's a government conspiracy to control our thoughts! Everyone is in on it!” For fuck's sake, there are crackheads who think more rationally than that. What proof did I have? Brian's papers were gone, no one else could corroborate anything I'd seen, I was actively hallucinating at that very moment because of the pill. Oh my god, I pushed Lindsay out of the goddamn window—or had I even done that? I began to wonder: was any of this real, or was I laying in a hospital bed, foaming at the mouth, shouting, “They're coming for my thoughts, don't let them get me”? Was the world really in danger, or had I just lost my fucking--

     Whatever you do, find LaFarge.

     “Okay, Brian,” I said out loud to myself. “We'll do it your way. I'll head up north. If I don't find him, I'll get to enjoy insanity for the rest of my life. I've heard it's actually quite nice.

     “If I do find him...well, I'll figure that out when I get to it.”

     I found where my car was parked, across the street from a dingy punk bar a dozen blocks from my apartment. There was always parking around there; no one wanted old punkers reliving their glory days, smashing their car with barstools. My car had a few new dings on it, but nothing major. I got in and set the bag down in the passenger seat.

     My phone chimed. I pulled it out of my pocket and saw that my mom had sent me a text: What's going on??? CALL ME!!

     I looked around. The street was completely empty, save for a mailman making the rounds. I looked back at the phone. It was a stupid risk. Stupid stupid stupid. But I had to try to warn her. I swiped it open and called my mom.

     I could hear the fear in her voice when she answered, “Honey, what's happening? The police just called me. They said something happened to Lindsay? Are you alright?”

     “I'm fine, mom. I need you to listen to me. Grab a bag, pack what you need, and drive out to Aunt Clara's right away. Don't stop, don't wait for anything, just get out of the house and go as quickly as you can.”

     “What on Earth are you talking about? Are you in trouble? Tell me what's going on.”

     “I can't. I'm sorry, but I really can't right now. I'm mixed up in something big, and they might try to hurt you. I'll explain later, but just get to Clara's and tell Uncle Jim that he has my personal permission to shoot anyone who trespasses on his land. He'll love it, trust me.”

     “Who's trying to hurt you? Is Lindsay alright?”

     I swallowed. “Lindsay is fine, mom, it's just...Brian and I have been looking into something, and I really don't have the time to explain further--”

     “I knew it had something to do with Brian. That boy has done nothing but stunt your potential ever since you met him. He's a lazy creep, and he smells like stale potato chips. I don't know why you ever decided to spend time around--”

     “Mom will you just fucking listen to me?” I shouted. “I'm in danger. Lots of it. And that means you're in danger too. Get out of the house and get somewhere safe. Now. Do you understand me?”

     “How dare you. I never thought I'd see the day where my own son would be shouting obscenities at me from outside a filthy bar, like an animal.”

     “Oh my god, mom, will you just stop and listen to—wait, how did you know I was outside a bar?”

     A silence on the other end. “We only want what's best for you, Dear.”


H. K. Reyes


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