Chapter 9: Détente – part 10
“Jacob Allen Myers.”
Bayani Matandas blinked, then leaped from the sofa to his feet. Dr. Myers sat in the armchair opposite him in Bayani’s living room. Although the lanky man’s posture was relaxed, the silver crystal he rolled in the palm of his hand said otherwise.
For a moment Bayani wondered how Myers had gotten into his quarters. The thought was quickly replaced by thoughts of survival. He doubted he could make it to the door before Myers could attack, so he bent his knees into a defensive stance. The adrenaline coursing through his body made his cramping stomach easy to ignore.
“Have a seat, Bayani.” Myers’ tone was conversational. The smug malice rolling off him was anything but.
Strengthening his mental shields walled off Myers’ malevolence. “What do you want?”
Myers tossed his prism a few inches in the air and caught it. “You’ve given me half of it already. I appreciate the hand delivery.”
Despite years of Triptych and martial arts training Bayani gulped. “When…?”
“A few days ago. This isn’t the first time we’ve spoken, Bayani. You don’t remember our conversations because I haven’t let you.” Bayani felt perspiration bead on his brow. Myers smiled, pleased. “I’ve never understood why Intelligence lets its operatives undergo psychic gene therapy. Subjects are more susceptible to mental attack until training catches up with developing abilities.”
Bayani fought back panic as his mind raced. The closest weapon he’d hidden was a tanto behind the couch. Channeling ki to his legs, Bayani sprung up and back, intending to land beside the far corner of the sofa. An ethereal hum filled the room as Bayani somersaulted.
His feet didn’t touch the ground.
Bayani hung upside down, trembling. Myers, still wearing that self-satisfied smirk, paced over. The damned crystal was glowing in his hand! On instinct Bayani lashed out at it with one arm. Although his aim was true, his hand connected with something invisible and rock-hard inches from his target. Flesh and bone complained, but didn’t break.
Myers shook his head with mock disappointment. “There’s no need for violence, Bayani. You’re already dead.”
“What?!” The exclamation was more of a strangled gasp. His stomach twisted, making him bite back bile.
“Upset stomach?” Myers asked. “This position can’t be helping.” The object in his hand glowed more brightly.
Bayani felt his body turn and lower on to the couch. Although his tanto was little more than an arm’s reach away, he didn’t dare move. “I’ll give you anything you want,” he managed through chattering teeth.
“Wonderful,” Myers said, settling back into the armchair. The crystal was silent again. “Tell me how much your life is worth.”
Pain seared his stomach, making Bayani double over for a few moments. Straightening, he replied, “Everything I have. Almost a million in cash, more in antique weapon— Nnnngh!” Bayani gasped until the pain receded.
“Wrong.” Bayani blinked at the smug asshole. Myers continued, “It’s only worth $500,000. Your fee for stealing my prism.”
“I told you! I’ll give you everything!”
Myers leaned forward as if he were observing a fascinating exhibit. “You will in about eight hours. That’s when you’ll bleed out from the ulcers eating through your stomach.”
Bayani stared, aghast.
Myers sat back again, looking for all the world like he was having an amiable chat. “Wondering why the meds Frasier gave you aren’t working?” Bayani nodded. “Because I picked out a particularly virulent strain of Heliobacter to eat you alive. Nothing but the best for those who cross me.”
Bayani doubled over again as his stomach pulsed with pain. “Please…” he whimpered. “Anything…”
“There is one more thing.” He heard Myers stand and pad over to him. Bayani tried to sit up, but his pain-wracked body wouldn’t cooperate. “Thank my son Jacob.”
“Thank you, Jacob,” Bayani gasped. “W—why?”
That weird hum was back, and light shone through his clenched eyelids. “Because he’s the reason you’ll be in agony for only eight hours. If not for him you’d be paying for your sins for the rest of your natural life.” Myers sounded distracted, but kept talking. “I have to keep my nose clean to protect my son, so your life is going to end shortly and seemingly naturally. It’s unusual for an otherwise healthy thirty year-old Filipino to die from severe ulceration, but not unheard of.”
Something inside Bayani shifted. He didn’t know what, but Myers had done something else to him. Then the light and the hum disappeared. “There,” Myers said. “Now you’ll be awake for every agonizing moment. Don’t bother calling for help, ’cause it won’t do you any good.” His footsteps retreated toward the door.
The lights dimmed, and Bayani heard the swish of the door swinging open. Bayani gathered as much strength as he could, pushing ki to his lungs and throat. He opened his mouth to shout, but only breath escaped. He tried again and again, but his vocal chords wouldn’t work.
Minutes or hours later Bayani resigned himself to death. Pain didn’t hurt any longer. I’ve transcended it, he thought as stomach acid nibbled at his liver. Risen above. Like Buddah. He imagined himself fat and crosslegged like Hotei and giggled voicelessly. Thank you, Jacob.
Silently laughing, Bayani repeated the mantra until enlightenment consumed him.