Friday, October 14, 2011

HELIX By M. J. Stoddard

B lue, white and red lights blazed in the rear-view mirror of Pamela's Jeep Cherokee rocked like ship on the ocean in the wake of a storm as cars, trucks and eighteen-wheelers zoomed passed. Tears streamed down her cream-colored cheeks as she frantically reached for the glove compartment. Filled with anxiety, the young woman lifted the black lever when a dog-eared manila envelope fell on the passenger seat. Her brown eyes glanced at the envelope, she glanced up at the rear-view and saw the police officer climb out of the car. Sifting through the glove compartment she stumbled upon the registration, when the officer tapped a couple times on the driver's side of the car. Startled sharp rap from the police officer who had just arrived at her door and requested in a deep voice, “License and registration, ma'am.”
 Sifting through the glove compartment, she finally found her registration and with her license she handed to the police officer, “I'm sorry, officer.” Pamela apologized, as she rolled down the window as she wiped the tears from her eyes. She felt a wintery chill brush across her moist cheeks and breathed deeply as she attempted to compose herself.
 After having startled the young brunette, the intimidating police officer then interrogated the driver, “Do you realize you were going seventy in a forty-five zone?” Flustered, the woman stammered, “I-I thought I was going fifty.” “It'll be a few minutes. Stay put.” Inquisitively, she peered down at the crinkled manila envelope and realized that it was addressed to her, but there was something peculiar about particular item...the return address was from her former residence. She tore open the envelope and poured the paraphernalia out into her lap, out came a large plastic, maroon-colored, spiral-bound notebook and flipped a few pages into the book. As she skimmed through the written material, she came across a newspaper headline from USA Today on the disappearance of Ryan Hughely after a major earthquake hit Giza, dating back to August of two-thousand. Ryan Hughely was a renowned archeologist and professor at Cambridge and Bucknell University and also....her father. As she read the article, she became overwhelmed with emotion, her heart still scarred and tender from his disappearance, she often wondered what happened that day. What happened eleven years ago? Why didn't they find his body? But more importantly...what was he looking for? Pam mused deeply. She returned to her cape cod, where her husband Mark waited patiently in the living room with a plate of food on the coffee table. The lights were dimmed, candles were lit and the aroma of bread and herbs filled the rooms. Exhausted, the young woman set her briefcase beside the leather, calf-skin couch as she sat next to her husband who embraced her warmly, “Are you alright?”
 “No. I had a terrible end to my day.”
Pamela then tossed the citation on the coffee table with disgust. Mark picked up the yellow piece of paper and saw the citation, “Speeding ticket?”
 “I wasn't aware how fast I was going.”
 “Don't worry about it.” Her husband consoled, “I made dinner.”
 “There's something else...” Marks eyes widened as she placed the large manila envelope in his hands, “What is this?”
 “I found this in my glove compartment.” Mark pulled out the notebook, her face turned pale and her brown eyes widened and he asked with deep concern on his face, “Honey? You look ill.”
 “There's more, I saw a couple of large black trucks follow me home.” Astonished, her husband inquired, “What are you talking about? Who was following you?”
 “I don't know. I tried to lose them and when I finally did I was pulled over.” Hysterical, Pam answered when suddenly there was a loud knock on the front door, “Who's at the door?” 
“I'll get it. You just relax.”
 The evening sun shone on two people dressed in blue uniforms, with brass wings on their chest, waited patiently at the door. Mark, befuddled at the two men beyond the threshold baring ominous expressions on the stern faces. The husband grabbed the brass door handle and asked, “Can I help you?”
 “Mr. D'vereaux,we must speak with you and your wife.”
 “Who are you?”
 “I am Lt. Colonel Eric Sterling, this is Lieutenant Rachelle Black. We're with the Air Force. May we come in?” Eric Sterling was a modestly built fellow, clean-shaven with a narrow nose and jaw and was pleasant in his appearance. His partner was a woman, slightly taller than Eric and had bold, blue eyes with flaming red hair tied in a tight bun in the back.
 Mark saw the black trucks parked in front of the house as more agents stepped out of the vehicles, “What's this about?” Pamela stood up, wiping the tears from her face and looking in the mirror checking her appearance as her husband escorted the agents down the hallway. Eric and his partner arrived in the living room and immediately, the eyes of the agents were fixed upon the notebook that laid on the coffee table in the living room, “Pamela D'vereaux? We must speak with you and your husband.”
 The young woman, still hysterical was now in complete shock, her whole body quivered as she attempted to sip her tea that Mark had set on the table just a few minutes before. Mark folded his arms as he loomed over the agents behind the couch and Rachelle Black asked calm and cool manner, “What do you know about your father?”
 “He was...a professor in archeology at Cambridge before we moved to the States.” Pamela answered, perturbed.
 “Did you read what was in your father's notebook?” Eric asked inquisitively.
 “Just bits and pieces. There's a headline from USA Today, regarding his disappearance in Egypt...” Pamela paused and breathed deeply for a moment, as a wave of memories rushed over her mind and spirit. She felt a large knot in her throat as she attempted to recompose herself, “Wh-what is this about? What does this have to do with anything?”
 “I would appreciate if you people would leave now!” Mark threatened with haste as he approached the agents. “Mr. D'vereaux, please! This is important.” the Lieutenant urged when she turned towards Mark. “Who sent me his notebook?”
 Pamela asked with a determined expression on her face. Rachelle pulled a photo of a man in his early thirties, long dark hair down to his neck and had dark brown eyes; from her maroon leather briefcase and asked, “Do you recognize this man?” Pam searched in the deepest corner of her thoughts and for a moment she recalled a disturbing sense of familiarity with the man she saw on the coffee table, “I do...he came to our house after my mother passed away. Who is he?” 
“We were about to ask you the same question?”
 “According to our records—this man doesn't exist.”
 “What is he? Some sort of assassin?”
 “No. Your father had some connection with this man...” Eric implied as he sat in the chair across from Mark and Pamela.
 “What can you tell us about this man?” inquired Mark.
 “Not much. He disappeared after the earthquake hit Egypt. We were hoping you'd tell us.” Mark, surprised at what he heard from the Air Force officers, chills surged down his spine and he remarked under his breath, “Why am I not surprised.” 
“We' you to accompany us. There's something that we must show you.”
 “What? Exactly?”

          Hours of traveling, escorted by the two Air Force officers, Mark and Pamela arrived at a TOP SECRET facility deep in the Appalachian Mountains on the borders of Virginia and Maryland. The evergreen trees concealed the concrete bunker from any detection and hundreds of miles of fence created a defense perimeter around the subterranean structure and military personnel stood guard braced with with M-16s and their sidearms strapped to their belts. Once the vehicles arrived within the bunker, they were escorted to through the maze of corridors and arrived at an elevator. The officers and the two civilians entered the elevator, Mark and Pamela were terrified, their hearts pounded in unison as they made their descent into the bowels of the earth. They finally arrived in the South Wing of the bunker and there before was a large door, “You may want to brace yourself.” Rachelle advised moments before the door opened. Before Pam and Mark stood an apparatus unlike anything they have seen before with hieroglyphs engraved on the elaborate and ornate twenty-foot gyroscope. The device comprised of four rotating rings that rotated on all axis, perpetually gaining momentum, as the alien device surged with violet kinetic energy. Lt. Colonel Sterling looked over at their guests and cryptically uttered, “Welcome to the HELIX Project.”

This story was submitted to Writer's Digest Short-Short Story Contest COPYRIGHT(C)2011 By M. J. Stoddard