Operation Stingray                        Part 4 // PG. 3 of 3

     

     “What do you think? Field operations. Crowd control. Targeted assassination. Using the Ray to eliminate enemies and prevent the masses from congealing into any kind of a threat. It's a remarkably simple feat. That riot you witnessed, for example. They didn't need to take over everyone's brain to do that. That was probably a single Ray turning up the aggression of a handful of the protesters and setting the whole thing off. That's all they need, the ability to control a few key players at a few key moments, enough to tip things in their favor 51% of the time. With the proper planning you can control a whole city with a skeleton crew of maybe half a dozen Rays. Put a crew like that in every major city, maybe infiltrate a few foreign governments, and, well...I'm sure Dreiser thinks he can control the whole world like that. The scary thing is he might be right.”

     “Who's in charge of it all?” I asked.

     LaFarge shrugged. “Ostensibly it's under the Defense Department, but I don't know how much sway they really have. A couple of them got spooked and tried to pull the plug a few months ago, then promptly died by apparent suicide. Maybe the president is calling the shots, maybe he's under the Ray like everyone else. The closest thing to a leader the project had was Dreiser, and he was more of a mad scientist than anything else. But you're already well acquainted with him, I believe.”

     “The man in the bowler hat?”

     “Bingo. He's a real ruthless SOB. The thought of a man who loves power that much being given a blank check for it frightens me more than anything about this whole situation.”

     I stared out the window. I had been too scared to ask the real question. I took a deep breath. “So if it's a three phase operation, what's Phase Three?”

     LaFarge shook his head. “Whatever it is, it's big. The largest wing of the facility was behind a door marked 'Phase Three Development.' Dreiser was the only one I ever saw go in or out of there. There were whispers and rumors, but no one had any idea what he was doing. All I know is that if Phase Two is already being implemented, Phase Three must be nearing completion.”

     We pulled off the road onto a long gravel driveway leading to a tiny cabin deep in the woods. LaFarge shifted the car into park. “Listen,” he said. “I know this is a lot to take in. I know it seems like you've set yourself against overwhelming forces. But they aren't invincible. There are weaknesses. They've made the Ray a handheld, but the tradeoff is that its signal is weak. They have to be near you for it to work and that limits its effectiveness. And there's the pill. I had to dig up a lot of old biochem knowledge to create it, but it seems to work. If we can figure out a way to mass produce it and get it to the public, we can turn the tables.

     “And most importantly,” he said, “we have the truth on our side. That was the one thing that kept Brian going, the fact that he was shining a light into the darkness. When he told me he was going to try to bring you to the rendezvous, I knew that he must have seen something in you, something that told him you would devote yourself to doing the right thing. He trusted you, so I trust you.”

     He opened the door. “So come on,” he said, “we have a lot of work to do.”

 

     

  That was a few weeks ago. Since then we've been hard at work, improving the formula for the pill and spreading the word to whoever will listen. We've been on the move, staying at the various safe houses LaFarge has scattered across the country. There've been a couple close calls, but we've managed to stay ahead of them.

I'm sure most of you think I'm crazy, but I wrote this to get the truth out there. There are still a lot of unanswered questions, chief among them is the nature of Phase Three, but I'll continue to update as we uncover more information.

  I'm sitting here now, waiting for LaFarge to get back from town with supplies. I feel less alone knowing that there are others out there who share the burden of this knowledge. Maybe some of you will help us resist, help us start the ripple that will become the tsunami strong enough to defeat the whole operation.

  It's strange. I'm looking out my window at the trees and even though I know full well what we're up against, I feel strangely hopeful. I'm hopeful that we'll be able to turn things around, that we'll spark a movement too big for them to control, that we'll be able to wake the people up and tell them the tru—

   no

   no no no no

   lights

   lights outside the window

   helicopter, voices, soldiers, breaking glass

   bowler hat

   they found me

   god

   dear jesus god help me

   they found me _

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H. K. Reyes

SCIENCE FICTION & HORROR