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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Panacea Chapter 9

by J.R. Wagner

Click for original photo source
I strongly recommend reading chapters 1-7 before continuing

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6 
Chapter 7 
Chapter 8

I ran to Tessa (more like a shuffle at this point) and attempted to pull her off the man she was beating with her bloodied fists.  Tears were streaming down her face as she screamed and struck the man.  Eventually I had to tackle her to get her off the guy, who had long since fallen unconscious.

 We both fell to the ground. She rolled me onto my back and was on top of me before I knew what was happening.  She had her fist raised, her clenched hand was dripping blood, and I was pretty sure she was about to start wailing on me. She had a crazy look in her eyes.

"Tessa," I said as calmly as possible. (I was far from calm.)

She paused there for a moment as if she were considering the sound of my voice and then fell into a heap and began to cry.  I tried to comfort her but the instant I touched her, she pushed me away.  So, I left her to her emotional purging and decided to see if I could find anything of interest on the unconscious man laying a few feet away.

I rolled over to his side (What? It's easier than getting up, walking a few steps and then stooping back down -gotta think of the knees!) and sat up.  I made it a point not to look at his face, which was beaten worse than I'd seen anyone beaten before.  That girl's got major issues, I thought as I rummaged through his exterior pockets. 

I found a couple of high-capacity magazines, one of those pre-threaded dental flossers (pink), some sugar free gum (must have a clean mouth obsession) and an ID card.

just like this

 I had to do a double take on the ID card.  The photo looked familiar.  It was Tessa's dad.  I put it in the pile with all the other junk I'd collected and checked the over-sized pockets in his pants. Nothing interesting. A tooth brush and a small tube of toothpaste -the little ones your dentist gives out after you've had a cleaning.

The man's hands began to twitch a bit and I decided I was done with my search, so, picking up the magazines, the flosser and the ID card, I returned (yes, I actually got up and walked) to Tessa's side, who was now on her knees and wiping the tears from her face.

"I found this," I said carefully laying my booty on the ground beside her (except for the flosser, which I began working on my teeth).

She looked down at the small pile with an uninterested expression until she noticed the ID card.   Tessa pulled it out from under the clips causing them to smack into each other while I cringed hoping she didn't inadvertently cause the ammo to fire.  She lifted the ID close to her face with one hand while wiping her eyes with the other.
Kind of like this only cooler

For a long time she inspected the card until eventually she began rotating it then finally turning it on its side and inspecting the edges. Finally, she removed a razor knife from her pocket, set the badge on the ground and sliced off the edge just beside the picture.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"Something isn't right?" she replied.

Again she lifted the badge, this time squeezing the edges causing it to bulge out on either side.  She tipped it over and a small white square fell onto her hand.  She held it up showing me the opposite side.  It looked like a maze with a blue square in the center.

"What is it?" I asked.

Rolling her eyes at my stupidity, she got to her feet.

"This is a RFID chip.  Do you know what an RFID chip is, Roland?" she asked as if I was a third-grader.

"Of course I know what an RFID chip is.  Just never seen one like that before," I replied. (remind me to Google that later) "What's the big deal?"


"Two things.  First, this isn't my dad's active ID badge. As you can see," she said tossing it at me, "it expired several weeks ago.  Second, they don't use RFID in this building. They use NFC, which I'm sure you aren't familiar with.  (It doesn't have to do with a football championship game? I thought.) Anyway, RFID -Radio Frequency Identification and NFC -Near Field Communication technology are used in loads of places," she continued, stepping over the still unconscious yet twitching man in black as if he were a fallen log. "NFC's are more commonly used for security purposes -like getting into a building where RFID's are used to locate something -in a warehouse, for example."


"So you think your dad was being tracked?" I asked.

"No, moron, I said his card had expired.  I think he intentionally put the RFID chip inside his card as a clue."

We began descending the ladder.

"A clue?  For who?

"For me, doof.  When I was younger every time he wanted to give me a gift, he would leave a trail of clues for me to follow until I found it. As I got older, the clues got harder."

"Why do I feel like I'm in that movie National Treasure?"

"We've been playing this game long before that movie came out. Anyway, I know where we need to go next." she said.

"Care to enlighten me or are you just going to ditch me again?"

"You've proven yourself quasi-useful so I'll keep you for the moment," she said.

"Awfully nice of you."

"There is a warehouse two hours north of here.  We need to get there by dark."

While she didn't say it, I knew we'd be breaking into a huge, creepy, dark warehouse.  Perfect.

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A tale of perseverance, strength and redemption.
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