Written by spindoctor and Lexie
Several days ago, the bodies of several homeless persons were discovered in Golden Gate Park. The attending medical examiner has been unable to identify the cause of death after having performed exhaustive autopsies. None of the bodies have been identified. The only unusual fact is that each of the victims' eyes had been removed prior to discovery. If you have any information, please come forward. Maybe you can help solve a mystery!
spindoctor (cue the music)
I saw...(pausing for affect) these ships, coming out of the sky. Maybe...(*sob*) they have something to do with it.
Lexie (Often sees strange things in the sky)
There, there, miss. You're obviously quite distraught. No doubt, you have seen something very traumatic. Sit down, try to compose yourself. Now, start at the beginning, and tell us everything you saw.
spindoctor (sucking his pencil, finds he dislikes the taste)
Gasp* *sob* *gasp*...well, it was like this, I was walking--because I always walk--and there was this bright light. At first I thought a car was coming toward me, because when I walk, I walk in the middle of the road--just to see if I can. Anyway, this light--it was soooooo bright, annnnndddddd (*sob*)
Lexie (grabs the tissue offered by spindoctor)
Yes, yes (discreetly checks witness for tread marks). If this is too stressful, I can have someone from the dispensary bring something to help calm your nerves.
spindoctor (switching to a pen, doesn't taste any better)
Valium? (Lexie looks interested, but then immediately ducks back into the tissue). *sob*. Where was I? Oh yes, the bright light... It passed over my head. DID YOU HEAR ME? OVER MY HEAD!!!!
Lexie (Eyes bright--she ducks onto the floor as if a bat was attacking her head)
Try to relax (switching off the ceiling fan); there's nothing here to hurt you. You need some rest; no more questions for today. We'll continue in the morning.
(Slowly Lexie's eyes droop)
Lexie (A loud crash and spindoctor realizes Lexie has decided to sleep on the floor!)
As Lexie awakens late the next morning, and realizes that .... she is no longer on the floor. The chamber in which she finds herself appears to be furnished much more lavishly than one would expect to find at the local precinct. The walls are carved mahogany, and heavy drapes hang from the windows. The inviting aroma of breakfast begins to waft in from the adjoining chamber. Unable to resist Lexie scrambles to investigate. No one is present, but the bountiful repast laid out on the table before her contains platters piled high with omelets, pancakes, French toast, waffles, oatmeal, bacon, sausage, sliced cheeses, butter, honey, and jam, along with pitchers of coffee, milk, juice, cream, and maple syrup. Everything is so fresh, it must have been prepared and laid out only moments before.
spindoctor (who doesn't think he forgot anything)
Lexie (with her right hand under her chin and a puzzled look on her face) wonders, "Where is the Nestle Chocolate Quik?" Shaking the question away she sits down cautiously. Her eyes are still heavy from crying the night before. Just as she starts to reach for some pancakes, spindoctor walks in wearing an apron and billowing white chef's hat. Startled, Lexie sits back and asks, "Where am I and why are you dressed like the Pillsbury Dough Boy?"
Lexie (Who couldn't resist)
"I'm dressed liked this because trademark infringement is a hobby of mine, but that's another story. This is a government safe house. After carefully considering your answers from last night and your behavior, I have come to believe that you may have information vital to national security, and so you have been taken into protective custody. Furthermore, it is apparent that whatever you have gone through has caused you to have gone without sleep for several days. My guess is that the same is true about eating; you should partake of as much as you like. Based on your difficulty recalling events, I fear that I may have to keep you here and pamper you for weeks, before you are sufficiently recovered from your trauma as to be able to provide useful information."
spindoctor (making a mental note to maintain enough distance to avoid a poking finger)
"Protective custody..." mumbles Lexie over the large bite of pancakes and maple syrup. "...Oh, dear, protective custody." Clearing her throat and looking at her plate, Lexie asks, "How long do you plan to keep hounding me? What if I told you that I don't know anything? All I saw is a bright light...that's all, a bright light." Lexie is getting agitated the more she thinks of being cooped up in one place for longer than a day, no matter how luxurious. "Excuse me, Mr. spindoctor, but can you answer my questions, please?"
Lexie (saying *hee hee* over and over again, while pointing her index finger in the air)
"Well, I was hoping to put this off until your nerves became less frazzled, but to be honest, we have picked up three other witnesses in a similar state to yours, and all of them have gone completely insane."
spindoctor (nervously eyeing Lexie's finger)
"INSANE? DID YOU S-A-Y--I-N-S-A-N-E?" (Lexie begins chewing on the index finger that is making spindoctor so nervous.) "No, no, it isn't true. I'm much stronger than these other so-called witnesses. I'm not going to go insane, I'm not. What do you want to know? What do I have to do to go home? (Lexie grabs spindoctor by the front of his apron and goes nose to nose with him.) I W-I-L-L NOT GO I-N-S-A-N-E, do you hear me????"
Lexe (eyes glistening)
"Yes, I understand (gasping for air). You are much stronger than the others. You will NOT go insane. Just calm down and remember that your name is spelled L-e-x-i-e. Try to finish your breakfast, and then we can discuss the strange items found among your personal effects." spindoctor (turning purple, not his favorite colour)
Ironically, purple IS L-E-X-I-E's favorite color, but not on spindoctor, so she lets him go. "*Gasp* Okay, I will calm down." (Lexie takes a seat and calmly picks up a cup of milk.) After taking a sip of the dairy product, Lexie leans back and looks spindoctor in the eye. "You said I had strange items on me? What were they and can I see them?"
Lexie (Not crying over the fact that the milk has spilt)
Without further comment spindoctor reveals a large bag from which he produces the following items:
-- several coins bearing images of apes
-- four large marbles
-- a half dozen empty packs of tissues
-- three cans containing some kind of slimy green liquid
-- a hotel key with a tag marked Dominion Hotel
-- various toiletries
-- a diary
-- a road map labeled San Angeles
-- a pair of batteries
-- a pair of knee pads
-- four unmarked computer chips
-- a lottery ticket
-- a locket with a symbol engraved on the back :-P~~
spindoctor (carefully noting Lexie's reaction as she sees each item)
-- several coins bearing images of apes (Lexie looks perplexed)
-- four large marbles (She touches her eyes with slightly shaky hands)
-- a half dozen empty packs of tissues (Grabs them and blows her nose on one)
-- three cans containing some kind of slimy green liquid (She *pales*)
-- a hotel key with a tag marked Dominion Hotel (*sigh*)
-- various toiletries (Pulls them onto her lap, all color returning rapidly to her face)
-- a diary (Opens the diary and reads a few pages, *sighs* again)
-- a road map labeled San Angeles (Turns it over, but tosses it aside)
-- a pair of batteries (Sticks her tongue to the end to see if they are still good, they are--*ouch*. She puts them in her pocket.)
-- a pair of knee pads (Bypasses the knee pads)
-- four unmarked computer chips (Taps them with her forefinger and looks thoughtful)
-- a lottery ticket (Slides the ticket into the diary that she had set close to her heart)
-- a locket with a symbol engraved on the back :-P~~ (A secret smile comes to her face)
Lexie (locked in her own little world she forgets spindoctor's presence)
spindoctor takes this opportunity to fill several pages in his notebook. After finishing, he says, "Ahem (clearing his throat), I believe you recognize some of these items. Perhaps you can tell me something about them. There is no rush; you may take as much time as you need. I also have the personal effects from the other witnesses."
spindoctor (proceeding cautiously, all remaining traces of purple now having receded)
Nodding, Lexie looks up at spindoctor with tears about to spill. She carelessly wipes them off with the back of her hand and slowly stands (quickly spindoctor steps back). Lexie holds her hand out as a sign of peace and says quietly, "Yes, I recognize these, but I have to rest before I tell you more. It's a long story and I'm not strong enough to tell, no matter how much I protested earlier. If you could send the rest of the items to my room, I would like to look at them, please."
Lexie (Her back straight, she walks out of the room, leaving behind a flabbergasted spindoctor)
After slowly regaining his composure, spindoctor punches up a number on his cellular phone, and arranges to have three large bags delivered to Lexie's room. As he leaves for the day he considers whether it might be worthwhile to visit any of the three insane witnesses (also in protective custody), especially the one that keeps screaming Lexie's name over and over.
Lexie leans forward on the bed and places her head in her hands. After a few moments of rubbing her eyes, she swings her legs over the side and looks around the room. Noticing several bags in the corner, she gets up and pulls them toward her. After dumping the contents of the first bag on the bed she freezes and just stares for several moments. A *gasp* escapes her mouth as she picks up a picture of herself and...
Lexie doesn't notice spindoctor as he enters and sees her staring at the photo. "I presume you know this person--sorry, didn't mean to startle you."
spindoctor (being careful not to reveal too much, too quickly)
Still Lexie jumps..."I don't know. It seems familiar, but I..." (Several people enter the room and tell spindoctor to please come outside.) A nurse walks over to Lexie and gives her two pills and a glass of water. Completely confused, Lexie takes both pills and slowly loses consciousness. Before falling completely under, she hears spindoctor exclaim, "You have to restrain him! No, she can't know he is..."
spindoctor quickly regains control of the situation. "I hope that was just a sedative that you gave her. There's no need to try the experimental drug, at least not yet. She hasn't shown any of the signs that the others did. Furthermore, we need to beef up security around here--double shifts for everyone; we can't allow things to get out of control. I'm sure I don't need to remind you what's at stake here, and how delicate the situation is just now!"
spindoctor (storming out)
Thump*, *Thump*, *Thump*...this is the sound that Lexie hears as she slowly wakes up. The thumping is actually a splitting headache caused by the medication that was given to her the night before. All thoughts were clear to her now, unlike a few days ago. Memory had returned and with that was also the memory of where she is. "Oh my goodness, I need to get out of here. If spindoctor were to get out of me what I know, I'll die or surely go crazy like everyone else." Getting up quickly, Lexie walks the whole length of the room. Feeling like a caged animal with no light she stamps her foot with frustration. "Oh well," she says on a *sigh*, "at least my headache is receding." Seeing the photo that spindoctor had caught her looking at before she picks it up and stuffs it in her back pocket. If anyone could have seen her now they would have seen the look of determination in her eyes.
Lexie (Walking to the door and pounding with all her might)
Eventually, Lexie's attention focuses on the drapes hanging from the windows, realizing that they have remained drawn the entire time. In a single motion she flings them open to reveal a balcony overlooking what is apparently a private beach. Nothing is visible on the beach except for some fences in the distance, on either side. After a brief pause, she presses against the window. It yields ... just as the faint sound of approaching footsteps is heard.
spindoctor (step by step)
Scrambling, Lexie gets the window open and throws her feet over the sill. Closing her eyes and praying to the Almighty, she makes a jump for it. Landing and rolling, Lexie sits still for a moment to gather herself. To her left was miles of beach and little else; to her right was a parking lot with two cars and one van. A sound from above makes her realize that she has stayed in one spot for too long. Lexie runs to the right, past the parking lot and on to who knows where else...
Lexie (Asking herself why she paused?)
spindoctor enters the room, sizes things up, then summons an aide. "No one is to stop her. Make sure that she is under surveillance at all times. We need to know if she contacts anyone as well as where she tries to go. We may learn something important before the drug's side effects take over. I'll expect a full report in the morning."
Running, I've got to keep running...these are Lexie's constant thoughts for the next 3 hours. On and on she went until where she was dawned on her. "Now why did I end up back here?" Lexie says out loud. All around her there is activity. Car noises and people milling about. Lexie had managed to make it to the heart of downtown, only a block from where they found the people dead with eyes missing.
Sweat began to poor out of Lexie, but she was determined not to lose control. Running around the side of the closest building she crouches and loses whatever lunch or dinner she had been able to eat. As she sits up she notices someone watching her. That wouldn't have bothered her so much if the person didn't look exactly like the nurse who had given her the pills from the night before. Wiping her forehead with the back of her hand, Lexie casually goes back around the building. After walking a few blocks she turns around and sees the woman again. Nope, she thinks, I'm not being paranoid, I'm being watched. Darn it, that spindoctor has decided to see what I will do. Well, I'll show him!
Lexie looked around and notices a wig shop with a retro looking shop next to it. With a half-smile, she walks around the back and goes in the side door. Dodging customers she walks in one person and walks out with a whole new look. After thirty minutes of window shopping Lexie knew the woman had lost her. With the comfort of knowing she had won this round her steps became lighter.
Meanwhile, back at the safe house, about all spindoctor can do is sit down and reread the morning report for the hundredth time, and make more notes in the margin.
Subject: Lexie - followed to location of event zero, lost contact, proceeding to interview shopkeepers and employees in area, big job, not much hope (note - must alert hospitals; if lucky enough to recover alive, immediate treatment for drug effects; must notify morgue, just in case)
Subject: Witness2 - no change in condition, still incessantly screams Lexie's name
Subject: Witness3 - medical examination reveals microscopic implant, missed earlier, speculate homing device (note - much potential, reexamine other witnesses for devices)
Subject: Witness4 - hasn't regained consciousness, little hope
Body count: three more found, total 12, same m/o
(note - move equipment to location event zero, scan for irregularities, hunch, scan for homing devices)
"Walking, I've got to keep walking." Illness was washing over Lexie at every step. "Am I dying? I don't know." Going to a pay phone, Lexie starts dialing a number she hadn't used in a long time. After two rings, Lexie started to hang up, but someone picks up and says "Hello." "Mom?" Startled silence--"Lexie?" Lexie's eyes were hot with tears, but she knew she had to have this conversation. "I was captured by them--the people at that safe house. They were kind at first. They wanted the information, but I kept telling them over and over again, that they had the wrong person." Still there was silence, this prompts Lexie to keep talking. "That's not all. THEY are here too. They're feeding again. There is this man, spindoctor, who knows more about all this than he is telling. I escaped him. But if he doesn't find me--THEY will. I'm bugged. It's just a matter of time."
As Lexie continues to speak, darkness falls, the streets become deserted, her voice falters, remaining conscious is more and more of a struggle. Can she believe what she is seeing? A red vortex opens in the shadows nearby, just long enough to deposit three limp forms. After what seems like an eternity one figure rises slowly, looks around, sees Lexie ... and runs away. The figure disappears around a corner, dropping a small object on the ground. As silence engulfs the streets, Lexie realizes she is still holding the phone.
"Lexie? Lexie? Are you still there?"
Lexie puts the phone back to her ear and says quietly, "I need help. I'm at the corner of..." (Lexie gives the information to mom and slowly slumps to the ground.)
In less of a frenzy, spindoctor sits down to read the weekend report.
Electronic surveillance: negative result, nothing detected, experiment on alleged homing device unsuccessful, speculation - device rendered inoperative when removed from subject (witness3)
Subject: Lexie - made phone call from bugged pay phone, phone call recorded and traced, separate report to follow, subject found wearing expensive disguise (note - let's hope the critics don't get after us for not explaining where she got the money), currently undergoing treatment, prognosis for recovery - hopeful, brain damage - unknown, small electronic device recovered in vicinity, purpose unknown (note - proceed cautiously)
Subject: Witness5 - subject found in same neighborhood as electronic device, decided not to apprehend, follow instead
Body count: two more found, total 14, same m/o
Frustration was becoming a common feeling for Lexie. It seemed to her that no matter how hard she tried, she would never escape the madness. At least the sickness had passed.
Obviously, spindoctor and his "crew" were good for something because they made Lexie's pain go away.
Memory was still intact, thank goodness. I know everything, yet I know nothing, thought Lexie. Hysteria was closing in, but will power held it back. Lexie began wondering about the other victims that spindoctor spoke of. Are they within hearing or in another part of the building? This was really the first time Lexie had allowed herself to think about them. It was safer not to, but the thoughts overcame her anyway. They met on the Manta Ship. They told her everything, about sliding from different worlds. Since Lexie had experienced being taken herself, she had no doubts that they had done exactly what they said. Caring for them was never part of the plan. Heck, there was no plan except to survive. It was luck that Lexie even escaped and it wouldn't have happened if they hadn't helped her. Now they were here in the same facilities and there wasn't anything she could do to help them. At least she hadn't thought of anything.
Still frustrated, Lexie decided to see if anyone would answer her calls. "Hello, Hello, can anyone hear me?"
spindoctor arrives, his mood unexpectedly cheerful.
VIEWER WARNING: The following scene contains a terrible pun; viewer discretion is advised.
Walking over to a large vase containing several dozen rosebuds, which had been added to give the room a brighter look for the holidays, spindoctor selects one, then approaches Lexie, saying, "Welcome back, this bud's for you."
We now resume our regular material.
"You don't yet realize just how helpful you have been. Some of our experts have theorized about the existence of alternate realities. They are pretty much in agreement about most properties, but differ strongly on the point of how many alternate realities actually exist. One of our experts, QAZTS, proposes that there are an infinite number, and another, The Producer, proposes that there are 42. Personally, I didn't really believe any of this until quite recently. The other night, when we found you passed out in a phone booth, we also found another witness. This other witness is ... well ... you."
Editor's Note: There are a couple of in-jokes in that last post. Two other frequent users of the Sliders NetForum went by the handles "QEDTS" and "The Executive," prompting spindoctor to name their alternate-universe counterparts "QAZTS" and "The Producer." And, yes, "42" is a "Hitchhiker's" reference. :)