+1#1 Top Rated Post Apr 15th, 2011
Type: Short Story
Word Count: 1800
By MJ Preston
Originally written under the pseudonym Henry D West
NY STATE THRUWAY
Pulling the bag from the car trunk, he could feel their eyes upon him. He was doing “God’s Work” and this was to be the first of many stops. Nervous tremors pulsed through him making his finger tips vibrate. He tightened his clutch on the bags nylon strap in a weak attempt to still the shakes, but they, like his uncertainty remained. Gods work or not.
Who were they? Police? He looked around, but he couldn’t see them. Standing at the back of the car he waited and contemplated what to do next.
“That’s John Lamb,” The Agent inside the surveillance vehicle said. “He was recruited about two years ago. He’s single, unemployed, and a bit on the schizophrenic side, very easily influenced.”
“So he’s the one,” The other Agent asked while adjusting the digital video camera to zoom.
“Yep, that’s him. What a fitting name for a man intent on bringing about the Armageddon.” He lit a cigarette, never taking his eyes from the carry on bag.
“So, run this by me again?”
“Alright, here’s the Readers Digest version. About eight months ago, a lab in Michigan was broken into and approximately 500 ml of a germ agent called T740YA was taken. ("Ya" for short) It’s a product of Saddam's Bio Weapons Research during his war with Iran. It immediately incubates on touch. Which is to say, that if you get even a drop of it on your skin it absorbs and you become a petre dish?”
“****,” The other Agent said.
“**** aint the half of it. This stuff is airborne within an hour of finding a host. So every breath becomes infectious. The host doesn’t have to cough or spit on another person, they just have to breathe in close proximity to other people, that’s all it takes. Our pal Mr. Lamb is here to seed it?”
This is wrong! Killing is wrong, the voice inside his head scolded leaving him confused and indecisive.
The Seth piped up. “This is God’s will, it has all been prophesized, and it is written that man will be judged. We are soldiers of God!”
Seth was the leader of the Thorn Group; an agency of God, drawing to it the weak and weary, the lost and unfortunate.
Lamb had came across the Thorn Group on the internet right around the same time he started to think that the medication he was taking was being administered so that he would succumb to the government.
The flash presentation on the page started with a black screen then in slow zoom the words “HE IS RETURNING” and from behind a shining light filled the dark screen and from it the smiling face of the Reverend Seth Wakeman came to life. His eyes were cobalt blue; his hair blond flowed down onto his shoulders like that of the messiah.
Thorn Group was a port of refuge in a sea of confusion and uncertainty, but that was in the beginning. That was before Seth’s talk of apocalypse, the threats and the angry outbursts. It was also before he decided to start taking his meds again. Now it all seemed clear, he had been taken advantage of, but still he was here, ready to break the fourth seal.
What choice did he have? When he started to question Seth the gun had been brought out. “We have eyes everywhere John. You can serve in heaven or burn in hell.”
How do I stop this Father? I don’t want to kill. If you’re out there come and get me. Please!
He slammed the trunk and started to walk toward the building. The parking lot was full this evening, he would have to wait before breaking the seal. Maybe they would arrest him and stop this madness.
We are everywhere John, Seth echoed.
“Looks like he’s going for it,” the agent behind the video camera called.
“Okay, well that’s my cue.” He unsnapped his seatbelt, opened the door and stepped out of the vehicle. “Gimme a sound check. Test! Test!”
“Loud and clear.”
“Good enough.” He moved away from the vehicle keeping Mr. Lamb in his sights. He was dressed casually in a pullover and blue jeans. He didn’t look like an agent at all a nano-transmitter sewn neatly into the left side of his hood.
Lamb looked back, but didn’t spot him. He guessed the target was scanning for special agents dressed in black suits with sun glasses.
Sorry Mr. Lamb, that’s Hollywood bull****. There’s no men in black, real agents dress indiscriminately, wear beards and look normal. Except for this , he thought and adjusted the gun under his waistband.
He picked up his stride and followed him into the building just as family exited with drinks and food from one of the eateries inside. Pushing past them he could Lamb walking toward the washroom.
That must be where he intends to set the seed. That’s where I’d do it , he mused. He sure isn’t wasting any time.
There in the washroom, a man and his teenage son stood at the urinals. Finishing up they went to the sinks to wash and shared a joke about something. The boy, not more than 12, laughed at what his father was saying. Lamb had no idea what the exchange was about, they could have been shouting directly into his ear and he wouldn’t have heard. He was too wrapped up in what he was about to do.
I can’t do this, please God. Give me a sign!
The father touched his index finger to the hand dryer and its motor came alive filling the hollow room with mechanical white noise. His son went over to the other dryer and it fired into action doubling the chorus. Now they raised their voices above the duelling hand dryers while the seemingly invisible Lamb stepped into one of the toilet stalls.
The agent passed the father and son exiting the bathroom and looked around to see if anyone else was coming toward the room. To his left there was a yellow folding plastic sign. It read: [CLOSED FOR CLEANING] Poking his head around the corner he checked if anyone else was in there. No one, just Mr. Lamb and his bag so he placed the folding sign in front of the entrance.
“I’m going in,” he said and entered the washroom.
He unzipped the carry on bag and looked at the pump bottle inside. It was small, not much bigger than a salt shaker with an aerosol pump on top.
“One spray will do the trick, don’t waste it.” Seth instructed.
I can’t do this, I just can’t. He winced turning the pump bottle over in his hand, feeling the deadly contents sloshing about inside.
“You can! And you will!” Seth thundered.
The tremors gave way to earthquakes and he shook even harder, then tears spilled down his cheeks, plopping onto the black canvas. He leaned back in the stall, the stainless steel plate behind him cool against his back, even through the button up shirt he wore.
No! I won’t! I won’t kill for you Seth! Someone else entered the washroom; he could see the shadow under the white fluorescent move across the floor just below the stall door. Then he heard the man unzip. As the man urinated, he carefully placed the pump bottle back into the carry-on-bag and slowly zipped it up. He would turn himself into the police, suffer the full wrath of the law, but he would not kill. I would rather be damned, he thought. He felt better, in control.
He waited for the man too finish.
The man at the urinal zipped. His shoes squeaked on the tile floor as he made his way to the sink. The automatic taps clicked on, the sound of flowing water seemed to go on forever. He clutched the bag in his lap, suddenly feeling claustrophobic inside the stall. He needed to get out.
Hurry up damn you!
The tap shut off and instead of walking to the air dryer he heard the footsteps approach the stall. In the crack at the base of the stall two slightly worn running shoes settled side by side in front of the door.
“John Lamb. Open the door sir.” Ordered the man on the other side of the door.
Who is he? Police? Government agents?
“I won’t ask again sir! Unlatch the stall door.”
“I wasn’t going to do it. I changed my mind,” he whimpered.
“Place the bag on the floor and unlatch the door please.”
He lifted the bag from his lap and set it down on the floor in front of the toilet.
“Okay, now using your foot, push the bag out, and then unlatch the door.”
He gave it a push and the man on the other side pulled it under.
“Good, now unlatch the door.”
With shaking hand, he reached up and slid the bolt over releasing the lock. The man on the other side pushed the door open and there they were facing each other.
The agent did not look like an agent at all; he wore blue jeans, a Utica College pullover, with a mustard stain just to the left of the U for authenticity. His face, slightly pudgy, was full of summer freckles. His hair, red like copper wire was cut tight against his scalp. In his hand he held 45 calibre handgun pointed toward the floor. On the muzzle, a silencer.
“God gives us free will, I just couldn’t do it.” Lamb smiled.
“Maybe your God, but mine demands obedience.” He raised the gun and fired..
“Ponk,” Was the only sound, followed by a spattering of blood and brain matter against the wall. Lamb lurched to the left, his right cheek pressing against the cubicle wall, the smile still settled on his face.
The Agent replaced the gun in his waste band, reached into his pocket producing a small tube of super glue and put a few drops on the door stop, he then pulled the stall door closed and held it until he was sure it had bonded.
He picked up the bag and walked over the sinks. He unzipped it, put on a surgical mask and gloves then sprayed the start buttons on both hand dryers. Sometimes if you wanted things done you had to do them yourself. Mr. Lamb was the only one he was unsure of. The others had not faltered or questioned the word of the Master.
"Mission accomplished," he said on the transmitter.
"Copy that! I'll alert Seth."
His work done, he zipped up the bag and exited the washroom moving the [Closed for Cleaning] sign away from the door.
Waiting at the door were two young boys-possibly brothers, the oldest eleven, the younger maybe nine.
The agent smiled at them.
“Don’t forget to wash your hands.”
He walked on…