chapter fifteen: Dr. Dart Armand Mirth

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Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac. - Henry Kissinger

"No," I hissed, leaning in to stare at the screen.

A wave of panic and anger washed over me like nothing I'd ever felt before. I had never been so shocked, so surprised. I was always one step ahead. I had never fallen behind in anything in all my life. But I felt also a sense of admiration for Wilhelmina. She was truly a wonderful specimen, and this was why I admired her. Not merely for her beauty, but for what I knew her mind was capable of if only she were pushed a little, challenged a little.

The two dots representing Wilhelmina and Sparrow were at the same points on the maps. Two different maps, to different views, two different trackers, same location. I checked each screen and checked again, sure I was just seeing it wrong. But the points were there, in Daily Jones' ratty apartment building if I wasn't mistaken.

And I wasn't.

I took a deep breath and tried to think through how I could handle this. It would depend on how long Wilhelmina had been in Sparrows presence. It would depend on if he'd told her anything, if any latent memories had been triggered. If they had, she might know more than me, and the thought of that was more infuriating than the fact that I'd had this moment of gross oversight. All I knew so far was that my associates were not of this world. I knew they were powerful. I knew they had knowledge far beyond our own, and that they had promised to share it. I knew that they had a list of targets for me to remove from Mercury, and I knew that they allowed me to keep Wilhelmina and use her to aid me, though they had first merely been coming to retrieve her and likely destroy her.

I knew they had been very impressed by my treatments for her. They had been incredibly surprised to have found her alive, and they told me as much. I believe my intellect was the only thing that persuaded them that I was of any use at all. Since, to them, I was merely a human, a "small part in a larger plan spanning eons," they'd once told me.

Their arrogance bothered me. Sure, I'll admit, working with them made me feel a way I had not felt since my distant youth: inferior. I know I'm arrogant, and I have a right to be. Just as they have a right to be. All those with superior intelligence do, I believe, if they truly possess it. But it was the span of their arrogance and the fact that I knew in the deepest sense that it was well warranted that truly bothered me. While it amazed and astounded me to have proof beyond a doubt that there was something else out in the great cosmos that surpassed human life, and I felt honored to be in such direct contact, to be an ally, I still felt very much like a mere pawn in their grand scheme. For the most part I knew I was one--I am not delusional--but I knew it was for a greater good. I would be allowed a space in the new hierarchy as I was promised.

And if I was not, well I already had an insurance plan in motion. I glanced at the tiny vials of Wilhelmina's DNA samples lined up by one of the monitors. I would have power one way or another, and I would have a great story to tell.

For now, I had only to clean up this small mess.

My phone rang, and I clenched my teeth at the sudden shrill sound of it. I took a deep breath and answered, knowing who it was without even having to glance at the screen, "I'm sure you're calling because you're aware what's happened?"

"It's exactly what we wanted to happen, Mr. Mirth," the deep voice on the other end said calmly.

"I'm sorry?" I was surprised for the second time that day by a turn of events I had never expected. The rapid beating of my heart infuriated me. I gripped the edge of my desk in both hands as I leaned over it and clenched the phoned between my shoulder and my ear. "What do you mean this is what you wanted? You asked me to send her to eliminate him, and you asked me to insure they had no contact."

"We knew--I'm sorry, I should say we were hopeful--that those instructions would lead to this outcome. Factoring in Wild's--I'm sorry, Wilhelmina's--curious tendencies coupled with your more explicit instructions to her and the likeliness that her deep, emotional connection to Sparrow would trigger at least some of her lost memory. I apologize for not including you in these plans, but it is all for a greater good," he said blankly.

I took a deep breath and switched the phone to the other ear. "You told me this was the last target before all of this greater good talk would become clear. Was that shrouded in false truths as well?"

"No. But it will take some more time until things are completely in motion. All great change takes time."

"I have waited in blindness for too long!" I snapped.

"Mr. Mirth, you have been incredibly useful to us," he said, "and we would like to repay you. But do not mistake your usefulness for need. We need nothing from you. Your place in our great future is allowed purely out of gratitude. Do not squander it."

My lip twitched with anger. I was nothing more to them than a pawn. Nothing more to them than any other human, the inferior animal meant for their usage.

"Thank you for your help in these matters. We will be in touch should we need your services again." And he hung up.

I stood there breathing heavily for a moment, the phone still to my ear. Then I screamed and hurled it across the room into the monitor that displayed their advanced tracking maps. The phone collided with the screen, spraying sparks as it busted the display before falling to the ground.

I stood there, breathing and staring at the destruction I'd just caused and not caring at all because things were more of a mess than I'd ever imagined. I'd never been so defeated. I'd never felt so helpless. Not since I was small. Not since I was under the control of my father.

Not again.

My eyes fell to the vials of DNA again. The serums I was working on were completely experimental. None of my tests had worked so far. But in that moment I felt that it was time to take the experiments to the next level of testing, because that was the only contingency plan I had, and I was becoming desperate.

I would have power. I would have knowledge. Without the help of those arrogant aliens. I would become like them, but better.

I would become a god.

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