CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED and FIFTY-TWO
“They have it set up electronically,” Ferg said. “It’s very high tech but they said you could see it via Skype. You know that internet thing?”
“Nelson?” Ava asked.
Her bodybuilding technician looked up.
He nodded and started working on her laptop.
“He’s working on it,” Ava said. “While we wait… Um… You wouldn’t happen to know…”
“Seth’s holding his own,” Ferg said. “A couple of the guys have spiked a fever. The docs think it’s some kind of allergic reaction. But Seth? He’s hanging in there. Julie Ann got there about an hour ago. So both of his kids are there.”
“No one knows, Amelie,” Ferg said. “I think everyone’s hoping you’ll pull a miracle out of your… uh…”
“Mickey Mouse Hat?” Ava asked.
“I was thinking Jedi robes.”
Ava laughed for the first time today.
“All set,” Nelson said.
“Nelson has Skype up on my laptop,” Ava said. “We’re DPD Backup Lab. All one word. You can go ahead.”
The tones rang as a call came in from ‘SuperSpook’. Nelson clicked the video call button. Captain Troy Olivas, one of Alex’s team, came on the screen.
“Hi Ava,” Troy said. “We’re going to show you a body and you’ll let us know if that’s him. Okay? Don’t hesitate to tell us if it’s too much. We’re on your side here. We agree there’s no reason to do this tonight, but there are forces beyond our control that…”
“Got it,” Ava said.
“Ok, here you go,” Troy said.
He moved the laptop so she could see the figure on a stretcher.
“It’s dark,” Ava said. “I can’t really tell.”
“Light,” Alex’s voice ordered.
A couple of flashlight beams shone on a man’s face. The webcam moved over his face and neck. Ava blinked.
“I’m sorry,” Ava said. “I can’t tell. He seems kind of… flattened. Can I see his eyes?”
As blue glove covered fingers appeared to press open the man’s eyes, Ava gasped. She turned away from the computer to throw up in the sink. Her entire body began to shake. She hadn’t remembered that Ferg was still on the headset until she heard his voice on the scene.
“That’s enough,” Ferg said. “I don’t care who wants this body identified. We can’t do it, at least not tonight.”
“No.” Ava took a stack of paper towels from Bob to wipe her chin. “No, it’s all right. Really.”
“Is that him?” Troy asked.
Troy’s handsome face appeared again on the screen. Ava nodded.
“Great,” Troy said.
“Get him the fuck out of here,” Ferg’s voice buzzed over the laptop mic. The phone made a click in her ear as Ferg hung up. “I’m serious. Get him that piece of trash out of here.”
Ava was about to click off the laptop when Alex Hargreaves face appeared. She looked so much like Max that Ava felt a warm familiarity as if she’s spent they had spent the evening together.
“Amelie?” Alex asked. “You okay?”
Ava shook her head.
“These people take so much from us.” Alex gave Ava a soft smile. “They block us from doing what’s important to us. They create chaos in our minds and hearts.”
“Chaos? Yes, that’s how I feel.”
“Don’t let him. You have to fight it,” Alex said. “It’s my understanding that you’re leading a team to find an anti-toxin for the First Responders Toxin. Is there anyone else who can do that?”
Ava shook her head.
“Then get to work,” Alex said. “You’ll feel better. When we’re done here, we’ll bring you some coffee. Valerie Lipson, you know her, the actress? She makes the best brownies. I’ll call and see if she can make you some. Chocolate helps. A lot.”
“You are more than this,” Alex said. “More than this asshole. More than your trauma. Right now, you have to force yourself to be that.”
“Go throw up again,” Alex smiled. “Then get back to work. You’ll see. You’ll feel better.”
Ava gave her a smile.
“See you in a few hours,” Alex waved and the screen went dark.
Denver Cereal continues on Monday…