Jen Air: Out There, Part Two
Out There, Part Two
Jen hadn’t been back to Stag Corp since the battle with Titania, although she had stayed in contact with Doctor Jana Sarkis to help those affected by the corporation’s irresponsible experiment in synthetic biology, such as Tenley. But Stag Corp was in fact a subsidiary of a far larger organisation that Jen had so far been unable to get much information from or about. She knew that someone in it was responsible for separating her from her parents, but not for what or why. She had erased most traces of her involvement in events back then, and otherwise left the company to fix what was left of their own mess. But now her mind swirled with the possibility that Sir Baker might have, perhaps by accident, stumbled upon something that might finally lead to answers.
“I have travelled all over this world,” Lionel explained as the van shuddered down the road, “seen many things. Things that cannot be explained by science.”
Up front, Kaya leant over and whispered, “yeah, Jen. Science doesn’t have answers to everything.”
The blonde sighed, sitting back as the van was driving itself. “There wouldn’t actually be any more science if it did,” she whispered back.
“I came to this town, finding it to be a focal point for all manner of paranormal and other activity,” Sir Baker carried on in the back, Sayuri listening very politely while Tenley crossed her arms and watched.
“Other activity?” The Japanese drummer asked.
“When I was a boy, growing up in a sleepy English village,” he said, eyes drifting to the roof, “I was taken… by them…”
“Them?” Ten asked, leaning forward. “You mean, you were kidnapped by pirate pigeons?”
“Bet that was a coup,” Kaya remarked facetiously.
“They made their demands in pigeon-english,” Sayuri suggested.
Jen rolled her eyes. She was beginning to suspect that Lionel didn’t know anything that would help her. Even his story about being driven off the road might have been made up by him to avoid admitting to simply falling asleep at the wheel. “This whole conversation is driving me coo-coo,” she muttered.
“I understand your scepticism, ladies,” Lionel said, shaking his jowls. “But I assure you, the paranormal is real. Once you have seen the things that I have seen, heard the testimony of thousands, there can be no room for doubt.”
The blonde however did have doubts, being that eyewitness testimony was the least reliable form of evidence. She believed that most people were truthful, but that their senses could be deceived in so many ways, and that doubt was generally a positive thing to have. When you took away doubt and devoted yourself to just one belief, you closed your mind to other possibilities. None of this mattered to her now – she just wanted to know if Sir Lionel actually had learned anything about Stag Corp, but was unsure how to bring up the subject. She just waited, hoping he would get around to it himself, but was starting to tap on the dashboard impatiently.
“You know what though,” Sayuri said, “I remember when I was little girl staying at a hotel that they said was haunted by the ghost of an old maid. Didn’t believe at first, but then, when we about to leave, my dad lost his keys. We searched all over the hotel room but they were nowhere to be seen. Well, we’d all given up and were heading out to the lobby to check the lost and found, when suddenly we heard a ping and turned and they had just been dropped on the side table.”
Kaya scrunched her face. “A ghost found your dad’s keys?”
“What else could it have been?”
“Truly,” Lionel sagely nodded, “there are more things in heaven and earth than can be dreamed.”
“Maybe,” Kay agreed, “can’t see that particular tale being made into a movie though.”
“It might not be exciting,” the drummer insisted as the guitarist glanced across at Jen who was tightening her fist, “but it is true.”
“Not all poltergeists are malign,” Sir Baker kept nodding, “but, if thrills are what you seek, then I can relate to you the tale of an exorcism I once attended in South Africa…”
“Actually, you know what bud,” Kaya interrupted, “you said something earlier about Stag Corp. I think we want to know about that.”
“Very well,” Lionel said with a deep sigh. He looked like the kind of person who should have held a pipe as he spoke, but the others wouldn’t have allowed that in the van. “As you may be, the premises was sealed off some time ago. The official explanation has been a gas leak… but I have reason to believe there was far more to it.”
The others were all well aware of that, but Kaya said anyway, “really?”
“I have it on good authority that twenty five years ago, Stag Corp acquired a piece of alien bio-technology. They have since been conducting all manner of unholy experiment, including the engineering of extra-terrestrial and human hybrids and it is that which caused all the ruckus they’ve been covering up.”
A little of that was correct, the rest seemed like fanciful speculation. They needed more. “How do you know all that?” Kaya asked.
“I have a source. A former employee of the company. I was on my way to meet them, when… well, you know the rest. And then I met you lovely ladies.”
“Do I look like a lady to you?” Kaya again asked. “Like someone who’s never had to work for a living?”
Jen peered at her and started to say quietly, “You never have had to work…” and then yelped as the punk’s fist hit her arm.
The blonde then smirked, before suddenly the van shuddered and lurched, accompanied. There was a sickly screeching and squealing as the seats and everything else inside rattled. The confusion stopped just as suddenly as it had begun, the van having veered a little and stopped at the side of the road, the computer shutting down the engine.
Kaya pinched the bridge of her nose. “What happened?”
The blonde stirred next to her, shaking her face and looking across the dashboard. “Tires are all gone. We must have ran over some spikes.”
“It’s a trap!” Lionel roared.
Outside there were beams of torchlight bouncing under the trees, getting closer. Jen squinted, and for an instant caught a silhouette of a man raising a stick toward them. “Shhh…” she began, pressing buttons which caused shutters to close over all the windows just before a heavy, leaden, rain began to fall on the van.
“Shit,” Kaya finished, unbuckling and clambering into the back with Jen and the others. “Guess the old windbag’s not just full of hot air after all. What do we do now?”
The blonde was on her pad, scrolling and bringing up the camera view of outside. About half a dozen men and women clad all in black were closing in a semi-circle around the van. Probably there were more hanging under cover of the trees, as from that direction a tall man marched forward.
“Hold your fire, you berks!” He barked. “I want that fat lazy pug alive.”
Alive? Jen thought, if these people were working for Stag Corp to prevent information leaking out, why would they want Lionel alive? Information, maybe, wanting to know who he’d been in contact with… but something about the tone of the apparent leader out there suggested more to it.
“You in there,” the man outside called, “I know you might be thinking about calling the cops. They won’t get out here in time. I’m giving you thirty seconds to open the doors, and if you don’t, we blast.”
“Ladies,” Lionel lips juddered as he wiped sweat from his brow, “I strongly urge not to acquiesce to this man’s demands. The moment we step outside we will be gunned down.”
Jen peered, asking, “Why does he want you?”
“I believe I already explained.”
Kaya shook her head. “The guy out there is no shady corporate agent. He wants you… sounded kind of personal.”
“He’s a liar!” Tenley glared indignantly. “A bald-faced chubby liar.”
Lionel meekly held up his hands, “steady on, dear…”
“I say we gut him and throw him out there.”
“Um, guys?” Sayuri urgently drew everyone’s attention back to the screen. “They’re very close now…”
Sure enough, they were already at the door, getting ready to place charges. Jen considered gassing them, launching the smoke grenades while they all escaped through the other door. But she suspected there were others hidden out there, and they might not all be able to outrun them. They were likely to hurt themselves running blindly through the forest at night. She didn’t want anyone to get hurt, so the best option seemed to be to go along, for now, and hope for a better opportunity to present itself.
Kaya evidently reached the same conclusion, saying, “I don’t think we’ve got a choice.” The blonde grimly nodded, opening the doors. As the others filed out, hands over their heads, she turned to the more reluctant and very grumpy Tenley.
“I think its best you play along as well,” Jen suggested, “j-just for now…”
“Fine,” the girl huffed, “but if they do anything weird, I’m killing all of them,” she warned before jumping through the doors and obediently stepping to one side. Jen didn’t see any problem with that, under the circumstances, and followed suit.