**WORK IN PROGRESS. DOES NOT REFLECT QUALITY OF FINAL DRAFT**
Gabe sat in the driver’s seat and his head started to pound again. Unlike previous episodes, the pain was tolerable this time. No sound came from the truck’s engine and the neighborhood was quiet. Time slowed down for him as he looked around the nice neighborhood. There was a park behind them and a row of modest two story homes lined the street. In front of him was his target. A beautiful, two story yellow home with green shutters. A swing was put into place on the front porch since the last time he was here. He looked on and the best memories of his life started to retrace themselves into his brain.
With his eyes closed, he remembered like it was only yesterday. His shoes dug into the green grass of the lawn. For the first time in their lives, Gabe and Angela were home owners. The love of his life stood in front of him with a brand new hand held camera in her right hand. The wind blew at her hair and white sun dress. Gabe had on a Navy dress suit. The wind sending his maize tie to the west. Nothing but a large smile was on his face. His hands gripped the sign which had the word “SOLD” tapped across the real estate company’s logo.
“Are you ready, yet?” Gabe wondered, his back sore.
“Just a minute,” Angela replied while she fiddled around with the black camera. “I can’t get this…damn thing to work.”
Gabe’s smile grew wider. There was something about the way she cursed that always brought a smile on his face. She was so innocent, so pure, and even when she cursed it sounded like gospel. He looked down to the lawn, his lawn, and he knew that this would be one of the best days of his life.
“Okay!” Angela cried. “Its recording! Do it!”
Gabe looked into the camera. “This is Gabriel Black and this is our house!”
With a furious pull, the sign was ripped from the ground, and brown dirt blew through the wind. He held up the sign high in the air like he had just caught the game winning touchdown at the Super Bowl. A furious, over enthusiastic cry hammed up for the camera escaped his lungs. Angela wailed in hysteria behind the camera. Whoever watched the botched film would no doubt feel vertigo and maybe a touch of epilepsy. After a moment, Gabe started to laugh, too. He threw down the sign and approached his wife. While she was still recording, he grabbed her and pulled her close. The footage afterward was nothing but grass and the sound of their lips smacking against one another’s. Without a doubt, the best day of his life…
Gabe’s head jerked to the right as he brought himself back to the present. In a moment of panic, his head darted around from the right to left and then to the front. The mid-90’s Mercedes sedan was still parked in the drive way in front of him. The house still in front of him as well. Gabe didn’t see any agents, police, or any other kind of threats. It was a quiet, empty neighborhood still. Once he got that clear to himself, he looked to the back. Lauren was still sound asleep on the bench. A stolen white sheet from their motel room the previous night providing her with warmth.
The thought of leaving her behind crossed his mind several times before he left, but he decided that he would have to label himself a fool if he did. She knew too much about him. Too many answers were locked away inside of her brain. Not to mention that he did, in fact, want to help her. If the CIA fucked around with his brain, and they planned to do it to innocent civilians, they had to be stopped. For a brief moment, she twitched, causing Gabe to tense up for a minute and grip the handle of the P99 pistol in his lap. It was only a twitch and she remained asleep.
Whenever she did wake, the rouge agent was going to be none too pleased with him. During the night, he feigned sleep until he was certain that she was sound asleep on the second bed. When he was sure, he snuck out of the motel room and started to search the truck. After fighting back those thoughts of ditching her, he found what he was looking for. Inside the glove compartment, in a small, orange box were interrogation enhancers. There were needles filled with pain inducing drugs, a small club hammer, and a tiny baggie with two pills of Rophynol. He smirked when he saw it. If for some reason Lauren needed to get away and leave him behind, she would slip him a roofie, and then leave him for dead. This rationalization caused a brief moment of distrust, but then, he couldn’t blame her for taking precautions. Lauren Winters thought he was a crazy man, after all.
No matter his feelings about it, he would use this to his advantage. In the morning he walked into the motel room with a box of doughnuts and two coffees. One coffee in a black cup, the other in a dark brown cup, with the doughnut shop’s logo emblazoned on each. Though he didn’t drink decaf, he told the pretty young cashier that he needed one regular and one decaf, giving him the two different cups. The black cup was regular and contained the sedative at the bottom.
Lauren looked to him in shock at first and leapt from the bed. “What the hell were you doing out there?”
Gabe put up a façade as Lauren slammed the door shut behind him. “I thought you might be hungry.”
“Jesus Christ!” Lauren’s voice now rose. She moved the curtains from the front of the windows her eyes darting. “Do you want us to get dead?”
“I was careful.”
Once she saw there was no danger, Lauren’s polka dot panty covered ass slammed down on a chair by the table. She was wearing a white tank, with no bra underneath, and she now made an effort cover her nipples. Not that Gabe was looking, in his mind, he was in love with another woman still. He placed the pink box down on the table and handed her the black cup of coffee. They ate in silence, drank their coffee in silence, and within minutes she was passed out on the floor.
Minutes later, Lauren started to move again. In one fluid motion her body shot up from under the sheet. Her eyes were wide with fear. The sheer suddenness of her awakening caught Gabe off guard. He fumbled with the pistol before the muzzle was aimed at her head. Her breathing quickened, she held her hands in the air, still not sure what was going on. Not knowing where she was or how she ended up in the back seat of the four door F-150. She was fully clothed and she wasn’t even sure how she got that way.
“Gabe,” she said. “Put the gun down.”
Gabe maintained his resolve. He didn’t want to have to shoot her but he was prepared to do so if necessary. “I need assurances.”
“What kind of assurances? You’ve done lost it.”
“That’s all right, according to you, I already have lost it.”
“Where are we?” Lauren demanded again. Her eyes focused on the yellow house. She recognized it from somewhere… “Oh my God, Gabriel. You really do want us dead, don’t you?”
“I wanted to see it one last time,” Gabe replied from behind the gun. “And to prove to you that I’m not crazy.”
“You’re doing quite the opposite. They’ll come for us here.”
“I’ve been sitting here for over an hour. Everything’s quiet.”
“But, they will come. Christ, I can’t believe that you are this stupid.”
“Maybe your department didn’t do as good a job of ‘engineering’ my consciousness. As you so eloquently put it.”
Lauren’s heart pounding against her chest like it was trying to escape. “Listen to me, Gabe. You don’t have to prove anything to me. Let’s just get out of here before we’re spotted.”
“No,” Gabe said. “I don’t believe you.”
“We’re wasting time here. I will bring you back after our job is over, I swear it.”
“That’s not how this is going to work. We’re going to go in there and I’m going to prove to you that I’m not insane. Or I’ll put a bullet in your head.”
“Try me,” Gabe inched the muzzle closer to her frightened face. “We’re going in there, you and me, you got it?”
Lauren nodded her head in defeat. “All right, Gabriel. Your show. But when we end up dead, or in some torture chamber, it’s all your fault. Where’s my gun?”
“In my possession.” Gabe replied. Her handgun was fit snug into the shoulder holster underneath his left armpit. His dark suit jacket concealed it from view.
“Hand it over, please.”
Lauren persisted. “I want protection.”
Gabe smirked. “You’ve got me. Now, out of the car.”
He kept the gun leveled at her head as she moved out. His movements were in sync with hers. He opened his door at the precise moment that she opened hers. Their feet hit the pavement of the driveway at the same time. With a motion forward with his head, Lauren took the lead. Gabe’s eyes darted from left the right as they moved. His fear now was not of an agent seeing him hold a woman at gun point, but a neighbor out for a stroll appearing out of nowhere. As they inched closer, he began to lower his weapon.
“No sudden movements,” Gabe said from behind. “Remember what you told me. I was built to be a ruthless killing machine. My instincts and reflexes unparalleled.”
“I got it,” Lauren said without looking back. “You don’t have to threaten me. What’s your plan for getting us in there?”
“You’re going to get us in.”
Lauren moved her feet up the two concrete steps up to the porch one at a time. “How do you expect me to do that?”
“Improvise. Yeah, just great.”
His hostage obeyed. She faced forward and remained that way. Gabe flattened his back against the yellow siding, inches away from the door. He whispered for her to get on with it. She put her head down and walked to the door. In that brief moment, she began to regret bringing Gabe along, but Frost had insisted upon it. It reeked of disaster, but she played along with it anyway, trusting Frost’s judgment. She thought that he could be controlled, as he had been for the past seven years, but she was wrong. She just hoped that her minor lapse in judgment didn’t cost her life.
“Do it.” Gabe whispered again.
Lauren gripped the black handle of the screen door and pushed in the black button. To her surprise, the screen door wasn’t locked. She then reached for the aged, gold painted door handle of the front door. With nothing to lose, she tried to open it, but it was locked. Faint sounds from the television filled her ears. She could feel Gabe’s stare on her and she pounded on the door. Her mind raced for something, anything, to get them in the house. She didn’t want to die. Whoever lived in this house didn’t deserve to die for her mistakes, either. Through the window, she could see an elderly woman walking towards the front door. Her heart sank.
Don’t you dare do anything to harm them, Gabe! Don’t you dare!
The old woman unlocked the dead bolt and inched the door open. She smiled at Lauren. “Can I help you, young lady?”
Lauren nodded. “Yes, it’s my truck, it…”
Before she could get out another word, and before either of the two women knew what happened, Gabe sprang to life. Like a lion pouncing on its prey, he was in front of the door. He gave the door a wild, hard kick, which sent the old woman flailing backward. Lauren moved in to attend to her.
“You’ve hurt her!” Lauren cried.
“Ethel!” the old woman’s husband cried from his old recliner. “What in Sam hell is going on over there!”
Gabe ignored it all. He slammed the door shut behind him, locked the dead bolt, and then turned. His gun leveled, but his aim at nothing in particular, just the sight of the gun caused Ethel and her husband to cry out in terror. Lauren was hunched over, attending to the old woman. Gabe kept his attention to Lauren, hoping that he wouldn’t have to shoot her.
“In the living room,” Gabe shouted. “Now!”
Lauren stood in front of Gabe once the old woman was to her feet. Ethel ran into the living room and sat her ass down on the couch. Lauren’s wits started to come back to her. In the confusion of her hangover, the thought of how to diffuse this situation hadn’t occurred to her. She cursed herself for not thinking of this sooner.
“Gabe,” she said. “Do put down the gun.”
Gabe flinched for a moment and the pain started to go to his frontal lobe. To Lauren’s terror, the gun hadn’t lowered. The commands hard wired into his brain weren’t working! Gabe’s face changed to that of a stone cold killer. The thought then entered Lauren’s mind that she had unwittingly commanded him to kill her, to open fire on the elderly couple, holy shit!
“I said,” Gabe said with a snarl through his clinched teeth. “In the living room.”