tagMind ControlA Loner Mentalist Pt. 09

A Loner Mentalist Pt. 09


Jack Watts was standing in a newlywed couple's hotel room, wearing nothing but a wet towel. He had another towel on his shoulder and his four bags were on the floor. His laptop was beeping in its bag to indicate an incoming Skype call. Jack shot a look at the ceiling. Two floors up and several rooms over, an FBI Hostage Rescue Team was poised to come crashing into his hotel room to arrest him, believing him to be the next Unabomber.

He checked in with Porthos. The Great Dane was leading a very nervous Mia west to the next phone they see after crossing at least three city blocks. Jack's laptop kept beeping and he pulled it out of the bag. He had seen the lead FBI agent waiting on the phone for the go-ahead and his laptop had started beeping at the same time, which seemed to him as a strange coincidence. He set it on the bed and crouched in front of it.

He tapped the button and the screen was filled with his mother's face. He nearly toppled over in shock. "Mom! You can Skype!?"

Janice smiled a sad smile. "Hello my son, it's nice to see you, too. No, I can't Skype, but my new friend can. He knows about many things, even these gadgets."

Jack drew a deep breath and slowly let it out. He didn't have time for distractions. "OK, Janice, that's nice and all, but I'm kind of in the middle of something so I'll call you back later...wait! What computer are you Skyping me from?"

"It belongs to my new friend. We met at my prayer circle and he explained things to me-"

"Ok, that's nice, but I've got to go and-"

"He explained your behavior to me and asked me to speak with you."

Jack moved his cursor to end the call and said, "I'll call you back as soon as I can, ok?"

"He gave me this necklace," his mother said, unheeding of the urgency in Jack's voice. "He said you'd know what it meant as soon as you saw it."

Jack squinted at the screen. Janice looked to be very calm and collected. She was wearing a dark green turtleneck, a bit heavy for the kind of weather they must be having in Virginia right about now. A very big crucifix was hanging from her neck on a slender chain. "What?"

"My new friend knows about the taint the Devil has laid upon your soul, Jack. He intends to purge you of it."

Jack frowned. "The fuck you on about, Janice?"

On the screen, Janice looked off screen before leaning forward and holding her crucifix up to the camera. "He says you should look at it more closely. He says you ought to have recognized it by now."

Jack shook his head in bewilderment. He had more pressing matters to attend to than his mother and her new, kooky friends. There was an FBI team upstairs, poised to arrest him and they had backup on the ground floor, probably sealing off all the exits. And I can't do a thing about it cause they're all wearing the fucking necklaces...

Pinpricks ran down Jack's face and arms as he took a good look at his mother's crucifix on the screen. Its chain looked exactly like the anti-mentalism necklaces. He couldn't be sure, due to the low resolution and poor lighting, but the sinking feeling in his gut told him that it must be true. "Mom! Mom, where did you get that?"

Janice smiled a warm smile. "You understand. Good." She sat back and gave him a maternal look. "I'm sorry I've failed you, Jack. I truly am."

"Mom! Mom, listen to me! Where did you get that necklace? Who gave it to you?"

"I should have guided you better."

"Mom! Tell me who gave you that necklace!"

"Answer your door, Jack," she softly said. A gloved hand snaked over the keyboard in front of her and the call was disconnected.

"Mom! Mom!" Jack frantically tapped the buttons to reestablish the call to no avail. Whoever was with his mother on the other end wasn't picking up. Jack sat on the bed and buried his head in his hands. Keep it together, Jack, keep it together. First thing's first! Get out of the hotel and away from the armored people with guns, then you can deal with this shit.

He made holes in his cloak, inspired by what he had felt in the hotel security man's mind. It took a few tries, but he made it back into the man's mind. He learned that the FBI had cleared his room and reported there was no sign of him.

The lead agent looked like he'd rather be shoveling fresh dung than reporting Jack's disappearance to the person on the other end of the line. He obsequiously agreed to everything that was screamed at him over the phone. As soon as his phone was lowered, however, he began screaming at the hotel security staff, threatening to send them to Gitmo for collaborating with an enemy combatant and impeding federal agents in the performance of their duties.

His rant upset the security man so much that Jack lost the connection to his mind. Jack cracked his neck and checked in with Aramis and Athos in the parking lot. Agents in plain clothes, FBI windbreakers or full tactical gear were frantically setting up on every exit from the hotel, detaining and examining everyone that was trying to leave. At the same time, they were stopping anyone trying to come in. Even the Phoenix police department was being kept at bay.

As Jack looked through the eyes of the dogs, he realized there weren't enough feds to cover every exit. If he got down to the parking lot before the SWAT teams were redeployed there, he had a good chance of getting out. His RV was guarded, but there were only two agents covering each of the side entrances to the parking lot. He could get by them with a little distraction.

His laptop beeped again, making him nearly jump out of his skin. He was receiving another Skype call. He put it in his lap and angled the screen up. He tapped the button and his mother appeared on the screen again. She looked worried. "Jack! Jack, where are you? Why are you-"

"Tell your new friends that I'm coming for you," Jack declared darkly. "And I will be dealing with them depending on how I find you." He shut off the call and clicked a few icons in the application George had put on his laptop to make sure he wasn't traced and that he got no more calls.

He turned off his laptop and put it back in its bag. He pulled out some clothes from his suitcase and dropped the towel he was wearing. The husband politely cleared his throat at the impropriety of Jack's behavior and the young wife blushed before turning away. Neither said anything. Jack jumped into a pair of boxers, a pair of slacks and pulled a T-shirt over his wet hair.

He checked in with Porthos. Mia and he were coming up on the second block since leaving the cafe. At the rate they were going, they'd reach a payphone in five to ten minutes. Jack said, "Squiddleydoodlefluffer," and got into the husband's mind again. He had him chant the word squiddleydoodlefluffer over and over again. He did the same to the wife. He'd need them to make some calls for him and he'd need to wipe their memories after he left.

His first order of business was for the husband to call security again. The man insisted and got connected. He insisted his wife was missing and that someone needed to address the issue. An FBI agent was on the other end of the line and he brusquely ended the call. Jack had heard the agent's words through the husband's mind and he made holes in his cloak in the shape of those words. He felt the minds of three security men through them.

Jack picked the most experienced one and had the man think of a way to get Jack to the parking lot unnoticed. He also made the man think of the word squiddleydoodlefluffer over and over again, so his mind was available to Jack at all times. He had the man point at the screens and say, "Isn't that the guy you're looking for?"

Jack saw through the man's eyes that the FBI agents turned to stare at the screens. The security officer then worked the controls for the camera screens and shut off the feed for the floor Jack was on as he deftly manipulated the FBI agents into thinking Jack was taking one of the stairwells towards the roof. He also shut off the feed to the service elevator and Jack dashed out of the room with baggage in hand and Spot in tow. They took the service elevator to the basement while the security man kept the FBI looking at the highest floors of the hotel and the roof.

Seeing the situation in the security room, Jack had no trouble entering the mind of another security guard. He had the man surreptitiously take one of the FBI radios from the table and leave to go to the bathroom. Jack and Spot made their way through the hotel laundry room and found themselves in the parking lot. They were joined by Aramis and Athos and snuck across the lot towards one of the side exits.

At the right moment, Jack had the security guard in the bathroom order the FBI agents at the exit to go provide backup to the agents guarding the fire escape. He had the other security guard switch off that exit's camera, as well as distract the agents in charge from what was being said on the radio at the same time.

The agents jogged away from the exit and Jack and his dogs ran for it. Jack had never run so fast in his life as he had at that moment. He could feel through both the security guards' minds that the jig was up as the lead agent angrily countermanded the order over the radio. Jack and the dogs were already on the sidewalk outside the hotel. They dove behind a bench and he peeked out to see the two agents stop and turn around. He swung back behind cover as they jogged back to their position.

Jack looked around himself. There were a few people on the sidewalk, but none were interested in him and his dogs crouching behind a bench. He quickly caught his breath and rebuilt his cool. I'm out! I'm safe! His joy was tempered by the realization that Mia was still running around the streets of Phoenix scared. He peeked through Porthos' eyes and saw the dog sitting by a public payphone that was five blocks west of the cafe. Mia was stomping up and down the sidewalk, anxiously growling at Porthos to get up and keep going.

Jack had the dog look at the phone and noted the number. He opened up his laptop and loaded a map of Phoenix. He found the location of the payphone and considered things for a minute. He picked a random, out of the way spot and had the husband call the payphone. Jack watched through Porthos' eyes as Mia jumped at the sound of the phone ringing. She hesitated before picking up the phone. She didn't say anything after putting the receiver to her ear.

Jack spoke through the husband. "Jack wants you to go to the park that is three blocks north of your location. Wait at the fountain and he'll be there to pick you up in about fifteen minutes. Just follow Porthos. Everything will be alright." Jack had the husband hang up the phone and erased his and his wife's memory of Jack's visit to their room and the phone calls.

Looking through the squiddleydoodlefluffer-shaped hole in his cloak, Jack felt the mind of the senior security officer. The FBI agent in charge was screaming at everyone to find out who had given the order to leave an exit unguarded. Jack saw that they didn't suspect he had already broken through their perimeter. They didn't think he had enough time. He had the junior security guard covertly return the radio.

Jack stood up and calmly walked away from the hotel, his three dogs following in single file. He walked to the nearest streetlight. He had his dogs stand on hind legs to provide him with an in into the minds of the drivers that stopped at the red light. The ninth mind he looked into happened to be that a young stoner that was just driving around, feeling bored. Jack had the man park around the corner and accept him and the dogs into the car without question.

Jack stuffed the dogs and bags into the back seat of the beat-up station wagon and took the shotgun seat for himself. He cleaned up any and all traces of his presence from the two security guards' minds and stopped them from thinking the word squiddleydoodlefluffer. He had the stoner drive them to the park and wait near the fountain. He also had to use his power on the stoner to get him to shut up during the drive.

With the stoner driving quietly, Jack took the chance to relax. As soon as the tension left him, he began to giggle with joy. I just escaped an FBI task force with my dogs, laptop, pot cookies and change of clothes intact. I rock! He took a peek through Porthos' eyes and saw Mia pacing nervously next to the fountain, even as the dog lay in the shade. I'm coming, Mia, I'm coming!

Jack's excitement deflated quickly. His mother was wearing an anti-mentalism necklace and was acting on behalf of whoever was behind the raid on his hotel. His fists tightened. Janice and he weren't as close as most mothers and sons, but he would be damned before he'd repay her for raising him by leaving her in the clutches of whoever had her.

He drew deep, slow breaths. I can't do anything for her right now. I have to get to Springfield first. And I have to get there fast.

He opened up his laptop and looked up small, private airfields near Phoenix and Springfield. A minute after he closed the laptop, the stoner parked near the fountain. Jack laughed with relief when he saw Mia pacing in front of it with his own two eyes. He wiped the moisture from the corners of his eyes and got out of the car.

Porthos was the first to see him jogging their way and the Great Dane jumped up to run to his master. Mia barely stifled a scream of frustration at seeing her lifeline seemingly abandon her. As her eyes followed the dog, she finally saw Jack running towards her.

Jack was so fixed on Mia that he didn't react to Porthos dashing at him until the dog leaped up and nearly toppled him over. As it was, Jack was stopped dead in his tracks and forced to hold on to the giant canine to keep from falling. He laughed and rubbed the dog's back. "Good boy! Good boy!"

Mia quickly joined them. "Jack," she exclaimed as she hugged his free side, "what the hell is going on?!"

"I don't know," Jack said as he hugged her back. "The FBI showed up at the hotel, out of the blue, and tried to arrest me."

"What?! Why?!"

"I honestly have no idea. They were all wearing these necklaces," he hooked a finger under Mia's choker, "and telling people I'm a dangerous terrorist."

Mia frowned. "How did you get away from them? Without," she paused and looked around them, "you know?"

Jack grinned. "By being a sneaky bastard."

Mia didn't look amused by his reply. "Are they still after you?" He nodded. "You gotta fix this shit, babe."

"I will. But, I have go home to Springfield, first."


"Whoever is behind this crap also has my mom."

Mia frowned. "How can you know that? I thought your power couldn't reach that far."

"It can't. The people behind all this had my mom Skype me just before they broke down the hotel room door." Mia shot him an incredulous look. "They wanted to gloat." He rubbed her back in a comforting manner. "It's all going to be ok, I promise. Let's get in the car. The guy behind the wheel is going to drive us to an airfield and we'll hitch a ride to Springfield, so I can free my mom and get to work on straightening this mess out."

Mia nodded and they got in. The four dogs took up the entire rear seat, so Mia had to sit in Jack's lap up front. Jack had the stoner drive them to the small airfield just outside of Phoenix. Jack gave the man a hundred bucks for gas and wiped his memory of driving them around.

Mia and Jack picked up the bags and went towards the office building to find out which planes were available. The four dogs were around them, keeping pace. Just before the door, the dogs stopped as one and began to growl low. Jack dropped his bags and looked into the dogs' minds. They could smell fear coming from two men standing behind the main entrance to the office building. They could sense the men preparing for a fight.

Jack tried to reach out through his cloak, but fear and getting ready for a conflict were too general for him to lock on to any specific mind. Especially with half the population of Arizona feeling like that on some level. Jack sent Aramis forward and the automatic doors swung aside to admit the dog. Two security officers pivoted from their hiding places flanking the doors. They had guns pointed at Jack.

"Freeze," one of them yelled. They both looked like they were of Jack's age. They definitely looked ready to crap themselves. Before Jack could react and try to defuse the situation without any shooting taking place, Aramis leaped up and bit one of the kids on the wrist. His weight dragged the screaming kid to the ground. The other kid turned pale as his shaking hands pointed his gun at Aramis. Fortunately, he was still focused enough to realize that shooting Aramis would probably result in shooting his colleague, as well.

In the next instant, three dogs jumped on him and tackled him to the ground, with two maws biting down on his gun arm.

Jack's reaction was just quick enough to stop his dogs from killing the kids. As it was, one kid had a big bite mark on his arm and the other had two. Aramis and Athos picked up their guns and lay them at Jack's feet, their tails wagging happily.

"Fuck," Mia exclaimed, finally finding the time to react to everything. She hadn't even had the chance to drop the bags she was carrying.

"It's ok," Jack said to her. "It's all going to be ok."

"Fuck," she reiterated and put a hand over her ample bosom.

Jack slipped an arm around her shoulder and held her close as she tried to shake off the sudden fright. Jack looked down at the security guards. Porthos and Spot were standing over them and growling menacingly. Jack imagined the kids' fear and agony from the bites and made such holes in his cloak. He quickly found himself in their minds.

The guards were just a year older than he was and fresh to the job. An urgent FBI notice was going around about Jack, claiming that he was a very dangerous terrorist and that he should be avoided if possible. The FBI was to be immediately informed if he was spotted. The kids had decided not to call in seeing him getting out of a car right in front of their airport and tried to get the glory of catching him for themselves.

Jack's brow drew down. The kids were young, but they were also fresh out of training and they knew the notice about him being a very dangerous terrorist had already made the rounds nationwide. He would be recognized on all means of public transportation available. His face might even make the news.

Jack led Mia through the doors and his dogs followed them. They went down the hall towards the offices. He had seen where to go in the kids' minds. As soon as they were out of sight of the two kids rolling around on the floor, he wiped their memories of him, only keeping their memory of seeing the notice about him intact. He made the kids get up and think they got bitten by a stray dog they had been teasing out of boredom. He had them collect their guns, call in for a replacement and go to the hospital to get their bites seen to.

While they were doing that, Jack opened the door of the office the head of the refueling team used and said, "Squiddleydoodlefluffer."

The bald, middle-aged man sitting at the desk frowned up at Jack, but he had heard the word and Jack was already in his mind. Jack saw that several planes were going to take off that day. One of them was flying all the way to Delaware and the refueling crew had just finished pumping the luxurious plane full of fuel. Even better, the owner was going to fly it himself. The departure time was scheduled for less than an hour from now.

Jack smiled and winked at the bald man. "Thanks!" He closed the door and made the fuel manager forget he ever saw him. "Come on," he whispered to Mia as he took her by the hand, "we got ourselves a ride back east."

He led her to the hangar. Their mere presence was enough to allow him to slip into the minds of the ground crew. He made them forget they were there and they boarded the plane and settled in to wait for the owner to arrive. The seats were very comfortable, but Jack was still tense. He was getting more worried about Janice with each passing second. He felt certain that her mind had been tampered with by whoever was holding her. How am I going to restore her mind?

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