Bill and the Sting of Death

Who Am I

Frank tied the Kodiak to the yacht’s dive deck and assisted everyone out. Bill made his way up the ladder to the main deck and stretched his lower back to help with the throbbing pain. It was not working. Harold quickly followed. Joshua and Maria came through the interior living quarters’ glass doors to meet them.

Maria asked, “Is everybody alright?”

Harold walked past them and commented, “I need to speak to Captain Frank.”

Joshua looked at Bill, “I see you were able to retrieve your friend.”

Maria’s eyes widened, “Where are your clothes?”

Bill said, “It’s a long story.”

Maria shook her head, “Boys.”

Bill responded, “Maria, Joshua, this is my friend and former administrator, Carol Lewis.”

Joshua stuck out his hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m Dr. Joshua Zeev, and this is my wife, Maria.”

Maria walked up and grabbed Carol’s other hand. “Come with me. Harold has a cabin ready for you. I’ll show you where everything is, and you can freshen up and rest. Bill guessed at your clothes size, so I hope they fit.”

Bill responded, “I saw the tags when I was sorting out some of the laundry one morning.”

Maria stopped and looked at Bill and then back at Carol.

Carol asked, “You sorted my laundry? You were supposed to be in recovery.”

“I got bored, and you were out.”

Maria gently pulled on Carol’s arm, “Please come with me.”

The two women retreated to the interior of the yacht.

Joshua asked, “How far back are the others?”

“We were attacked by a drone. Alice was shot. I don’t think she’s going to make it. Garcia sent the three of us back immediately. He said to tell Frank to go to Zone 2.”

Joshua nodded, “I don’t know where that is, but I’m fairly certain that’s a backup rendezvous point. You should probably get below and get dressed. Why don’t you meet me on the top deck for something to drink, and you can get a snack if you’re hungry.”

Bill headed towards his cabin. The hot shower helped the aching in his back. After a couple of Tylenol and a set of dry clothes, Bill felt better and headed to the upper deck. He ran into Maria in the hallway. Maria let him know that Carol had showered and was sound asleep in her cabin.

Joshua sat at the large, white dining table that sat mid-deck underneath a roof that gave shade from the sunshine. The doctor had a glass of beer and another drink for the empty chair that sat across him. Bill took his seat.

Bill asked, “Olde Meck?”

“Always. So, tell me, how are you doing?”

Bill took a long sip of his beer, he wiped the foam from his mouth with the back of his hand. “Okay, I guess.”

“Did Alice getting shot upset you?”

Bill sat back, “To be honest, I didn’t really know her that well.” He leaned forward, “But I do feel like some of this may be my fault.”

Joshua took a small sip of his beer. “Why?”

“Chuck got skittish halfway through the exchange. I was worried about Carol and went berserk. Well, I guess you’d call it that. I knew everything that was going on. It was weird. I didn’t just enjoy the chaos and violence. I formulated a plan, and you were speaking to me in my head.”

Joshua’s eyes widened, “What did I say?”

“Everything changed around me for a moment. It was like we were hunting in the woods, you know, like in my dreams, or hypnosis or whatever. Anyway, you were telling me how to stalk my prey. So, that’s what I did with Chuck. I stripped down to my boxers and used the ocean to hide my scent.”

Joshua asked, “Did you know where you were?”

“Yea. The forest only appeared for a moment, but I was able to push it out of my head.”

Both sat quietly, sipping their beers. Joshua stared at his glass and rolled it in his palms.

He asked, “Why did you think Chuck could smell you?”

Bill answered, “Because he said he could.”

Joshua sat back hard in his chair.

Bill asked, “What is it?”

“He must be a berserker. I didn’t want it to be true. Chuck is different from you and your brother. Your brother can control his condition when something triggers an episode, and it sounds like you’re adapting. If it makes you feel better, you have progressed much faster than I thought was possible.

“But Chuck, he’s a different story. From what Garcia has told me, he can exhibit the symptoms at will, and not all of them at once. Chuck is a sociopath with absolute control over a syndrome that allows him to kill, maim, and torture anyone at will.”

Bill took a long slow breath. Then he lifted his glass and didn’t put it down until all of the amber liquid had passed through his lips. Joshua finished his drink as well. Both men stared blankly in each other’s direction.

Joshua asked, “So, why do you think you caused Alice’s death?”

“She was giving me a short lecture on teamwork after we subdued Chuck. I had tried to kill Chuck, and Darla stopped me while Harold and Alice took care of Chuck. A drone showed up. Alice ran ahead to the beach from this hill we were on. She fired her pistol at it, and the drone shot her. After that, Garcia shot it out of the sky.”

Joshua was silent and his head drooped, and he closed his eyes.

Bill said, “I’m sorry.”

“I was saying a short prayer for her and my wife. They were kindred spirits, and this will break her heart.

“Bill, you didn’t cause her death. She shot at the drone, and it shot back. This is tragic, but unfortunately, this is the hazards of the type of life these brave men and women live in order to protect us.”

Bill said, “Maybe, but I feel like if I hadn’t gone berserk, the situation would have been different.”

Joshua shook his head. “I’ve dealt with Chuck. What you did may have helped. Chuck doesn’t like things to get out of control. He has a hard time adjusting. I’m just surprised he only had one drone.”

Bill answered, “I don’t think it was his. He kept saying it wasn’t, and he looked terrified.”

Joshua asked, “What do the others think?”

“We were kicked off the island. I have no idea what’s going on. Do you mind if I ask you a question not related to all of this?”

Joshua answered, “Of course.”

“What am I supposed to do now?”

“What do you mean?”

Bill said, “My whole life, I thought I was this other person. I don’t know if you could say I was good, but I was good enough. I worked hard; I was starting a family. I didn’t want to hurt anyone. When it came to my employees, I treated them decently, and I never invested in any shady businesses.

“Now I’ve killed five people, and if I’m honest, I enjoyed it. I feel like I’ve got this monster inside of me that might jump out at any moment. What if I get road rage one day? Will I end up chasing the guy down and ripping his arms off?”

Joshua asked, “Let me ask you a question. How’s your faith?”

Bill rolled his eyes, “Oh, please don’t tell me to read my Bible and pray. This is real life.”

“So, you’ve given up on your faith?”

Bill answered, “I’m not sure now. I mean, I guess it’s nominal. I can see where God might be answering some of my needs, like showing me a brother I didn’t know I had. On the other hand, If he really is there and cared, he could have left Lori and still given me Harold. I guess I’m not seeing a connection between stories several thousand years old that happened halfway around the world and modern-day.”

Joshua said, “Alright. Let me put it to you this way. I believe we are still created for one or more reasons while we are on the earth. That includes all of our strengths and faults. Take Garcia and Alice. They both put their lives on the line and also take lives. Our government has taught them how to kill without hesitation. Why do you think they only kill certain people since they can do it at any time?”

Bill shrugged, “I guess their training.”

Joshua answered, “Wrong. Our government doesn’t teach values like the old days. Instead, they are threatened with prison for breaking the law, but they aren’t taught right and wrong. Garcia, Alice, Darla, and most of the other agents come into the CIA with a robust moral compass already in place. They understand there are absolute rights and wrongs, and they don’t cross that line.

“You’re the same way. Dr. Adam and I spoke regularly about you when you were growing up. Even though I left, I never really left you. We both tried to install ethical and moral truths inside you and all the children.

“Let me ask you a question. If a Mexican drug cartel offered you several million dollars to launder money for them through various trades to offshore companies, would you do it?”

Bill answered, “Of course not. Those organizations deal in death and slavery. I wouldn’t want their blood money.”

Joshua said, “There you go.”

Joshua grabbed both glasses and headed for the bar on the nearby wall. He dropped the glasses in a container and came back with two bottles of beer and popped the caps off them.

He said, “I hope you don’t mind. I’m quite thirsty.”

Bill answered, “Me too.”

They sat and sipped on their beers until they were half empty. Bill covered his mouth and tried to fight the belch that had built up, but to no avail.”

“Excuse me.”

Joshua smiled and let out a long, loud burp. “No problem.”

Both men laughed and took another swig.

Bill put his beer down. “So, you’re saying you don’t think I’ll become a murdering lunatic because I know right and wrong.”

Joshua nodded, “That sums it up very well.”

Bill was about to ask another question when the sound of a motor in the distance caught their attention. He could see a military styled ship speeding their direction from the upper deck. The sound of heavy footsteps rattled the stairs, and Harold appeared.

He said, “Both of you, we have company coming abord. Doc, you and Maria need to stay in your cabin until the coast is clear. Bill, you’re with me.”

Joshua responded, “So, we’re doing this?”

Harold nodded his head. Joshua pushed past Harold on the steps, and Bill stood there looking at Harold.

“Come on, bro.” said Harold, “Chuck will be here in a couple of minutes.”

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