This section contains graphic violence
Nano #4: Newton's Second Law - Gravitation
Part Nine - Every Particle of Matter in the Universe Attracts
Every Other Particle with a Force which is Inversely Proportional to the Square of the
Distance Between Them.
"What's your name?" Dana asked of the
smaller wiry man who was driving the Sable. She was puffing on yet another cigarette and
blowing the smoke towards Rob, making his eyes water.
"Henry? Ha, you don't look like a Henry. You look like a Steve." Another stream
of smoke hit Rob's face. Rob reached over the seat and grabbed the cigarette from her
mouth. "Asshole," she muttered. "Didn't anyone warn you about me?" she
asked the big man. He sneered at her. She sent a stone cold look full of promise back at
him. "Who do you work for, Steve?"
The little man smiled at the game but would not answer.
The word "weasel" came out with her breath. She was feigning a coolness she did
not really own but intended on keeping for as long as it took. What the "it" was
she was not sure of.
While the car sped through the Delaware Water Gap in the dead of the night, Doc
contemplated what her next action should be and who they were headed to see.
Around seven a.m. the Sable pulled into the suburban town of Rockville, Maryland outside
of Washington. Steve parked the car in the garage, and Dana was urged out of the car and
into the house through a door. Rob roughly forced her to sit in a hard wooden chair at the
country-styled kitchen table. "Don't tell me--I'm here to be your new
Steve left the small kitchen and made a quick call from his cellular phone. When he
returned he whispered a few words to Rob and then left through the garage entrance. Rob
silently went for the refrigerator, stared inside for a few minutes, and then closed it in
frustration. Grace would have hated him just for that.
"You two have a real zest for decorating, I see," Dana gazed around the barren
house. She had been functioning on adrenaline and a twelve-hour cold pill Grace had given
her on the way to Pepe's to help clear up her sinuses and keep her from spitting. Now she
was feeling tired and ornery.
"You two been together long?"
"Mmmmmake me, Fester," she taunted. She was ready for a go at him, better now
than when I'm really tired, she thought. "Come on, Fester, come and get me," she
snarled and pulled herself to a standing position. "I've been waiting for this all
Intent on pulverizing her, he stepped from behind the counter into the dining area.
Dana stooped into a match stance and wiggled her eyebrows at him while she growled.
He lunged first, catching her in the midsection and sending them both flying backwards
into the table. She came down on the back of his fat head with her elbow several times
until his grip lessened. When he stood, she drove her knee into his gut and then her palm
into his nose, stunning him. She followed with a quick uppercut to his stone jaw, the
impact causing her hand to smart. That's when he pulled out his gun and pointed it at her.
"I'm going to blow your head off , you asshole!"
Doc began to chuckle. "I dare you, Fester."
Crack! The handle of the metal gun against the side of her head shook her teeth and caused
her to drop to the floor, stars swirling past her eyes. She was slightly aware of the door
opening and the yelling. A moment later she was lifted to a chair. It took her a few
minutes to focus on her surroundings. When she did, she could not believe what she saw and
shook her head to clear the muddle.
"Hello, Dana." Karl Reichert addressed her.
"No, dear, you're wide awake."
"You died in L.A."
Reichert's thin lips pulled up to reveal gray teeth and what was his version of a smile.
"No, I am very much alive."
"Good--then I can kill you myself," she leaped towards him, only to be
restrained by Fester.
He laughed. She hated that laugh. It was a noise that chased her in her dreams.
"You always were full of anger and hatred, Papadopolis."
Rob threw her back into the hard chair.
"You haven't seen the half of it."
He walked closer and stood over her. He was only five foot five and had grown thinner over
the past three years.
"I assume you know what I want from you."
"I assume you know what I'm willing to give you, and it isn't a compliment."
"I want your mind, Dana."
"You finally realized yours doesn't work?"
His lips receded into a tight line. "I want you to work for me on my nano weapons
"And I want to rip your heart out and use it as bait. There's no fucking way I'm
going to work for you, you psycho bastard."
"You don't have a choice, dear."
Dana despised that term of endearment, especially from Reichert.
"Sure I do. You can't control me anymore."
The man Dana despised more than prejudice or seeds in her jam shook his head
disapprovingly and sighed.
"You would rather choose to die?"
"Only if you choose to kill me."
He smiled. "I won't do it. Mr. Carson will."
Dana looked at the man she had been referring to as Uncle Fester.
"The choice is easy for me," he growled.
She looked back at Reichert and gritted her teeth. "You're a coward, Reichert. A wuss
in every sense of the term."
"Is that the best that you can do--call me names? You have this incredible
intelligence but emotionally you're an infant, an unloved infant. Why is that? Is it
because your mamma never held you, or because your father blew his brains out to free
himself from you?"
Dana lunged from her chair across the table in an attempt to rip his heart from his chest.
Rob quickly entangled one of her arms with one of his and took hold of the long black hair
with the other, slamming her face into the flat wooden surface of the table.
A startled Reichert rubbed his injured neck.
"It's up to you how you want to do it, Mr. Carson, as long as you wait for me to
leave and clean up after yourself. When you're done with her, kill the Wilson woman
His words stabbed Dana more deeply than any knife could and released her dark demons from
"Fuck you, Reichert," she hissed, slipping the spoon from her coat sleeve and
imbedding it in Rob's right temple. After he stiffened in shock, she twisted it twice and
then withdrew. The dead weight of his body dropped to the floor, his head slammed against
the table, spurting blood against her thigh. Thick dark liquid ran from the hole in his
head across the white linoleum, and glassy still eyes looked back at her from the floor. A
feral grin twisted her lips as she squared herself to the weaponry executive. She rolled
the dripping spoon between her fingers.
"It appears Mr. Carson can't take care of this himself. You're going to have to do
this one yourself," she growled with barely human noises.
"This only proves you're still a killer."
Dana looked at the evil deliverer through half-lidded eyes, spatters of blood on her face.
"Takes one to know one," she chanted and moved closer to him, intent on burying
her spoon in his cerebral cortex. Her breathing was raspy and her eyes a dark violet. She
stepped still closer.
"I hate you, old man."
"I'm all that you have. You can't go back now."
But she would not play into his mind games this time. What he had said about Grace had
made it more than personal, more than protecting her body or her life. This battle was for
everything, and, unlike Greer, Karl Reichert was not going to get away unscathed. He
slipped backwards against the counter, his hands searching for an object to fight back
with in the vacant house. Doc could smell his fear and hear his heart pounding. His
unsteady breathing resounded as the soft rubber soles of her sneakers fell against the
floor ... and then nothing.
Dana was five years old, sitting defiantly on top of the school's jungle gym. But it was
the middle of the night, and the bars she gripped tightly were cold against her hands. She
had taken her coat off to climb, and now the wind was hissing by her ears and she was
"Dad!" she yelled into the darkness. She could not see which way to move, how to
climb down, or how high she was because everything was dark.
"Dad, help!" she cried out in a feeble, childish voice. But he did not come.
"Damn you," she thought with an adult anger as she stood tall and jumped off
what she believed to be the edge. And then she fell and fell and fell.
She started from sleep before she hit the ground. A cold sweat covered her aching body,
and there was a sharp pounding behind her eyes. The only sounds were noises of her body
shuffling against the floor. Dana worked hard to focus on her surroundings, but there was
no light, and she could not even make out shadows. She forced her sore body to crawl along
the hard cold cement floor until she found an equally hard wall, and then another, and
another, and another. Blindly she traced the surfaces for doors or cracks and found none
in the darkness. She forced herself to stand and reach for a ceiling, with no success.
After what must have been hours of exploration and screaming into the darkness, she
resigned herself to the surreality of her situation. She was dead, and this was her hell.
In this hell time passed unmeasured except by an ever-growing hunger and the discomfort of
her body, yet another cruel punishment for her mortal crimes. And worst of all, the powers
had also confined her to the torture of her memories and her mind, until she sank into the
confusion of utter darkness and isolation, where she wallowed in her loneliness and the
pain of remembering Grace. This, she determined in her despair, was the afterlife that
made her fear eternity.
"Da-na," A gentle sing-song voice called out lightly to her.
Dana sat against the cold, hard wall, her head bent in hopelessness and misery.
She turned her head towards the voice but saw nothing.
"Grace?" she moaned.
"Is Grace invisible?"
"No. But I can't see anyway."
"Take my word for it. I'm invisible."
"Now you're cooking."
"Oh, god. I can't believe it. I'm stuck with my psychosis for eternity too."
"Who are you calling a psychosis?"
"Excuse me, `Hallucination', if you prefer."
"You can't see me, so I'm not a hallucination."
"What should I call you?"
"How about `friend', considering we're going to be together for a long time?"
Dana would have smiled if she had not still been depressed about being dead.
"So how did we end up here, friend?" Gabrielle asked.
"Reichert. Somehow, someone from behind I guess I wasn't paying attention to my
"He ran the Beta Program. He's the bastard that took the Beta to California and
released it to control the riots. I thought he was dead." She sighed to relieve
herself of the desolation, but it did not go away. "He wanted me to work for him
again, and I refused, so he had me killed, probably Steve pulled the trigger."
"Are you sure you're dead? You may not be."
A sardonic laugh. "I think; therefore, I am."
"That defines existence, not death."
"What's the difference?"
"I exist, but I'm not alive."
"You exist because too many of my neurons overlap where they probably
It would have been a long pause if Dana had been able to measure time.
"If you have neurons, you`re still confined to your brain; hence, you're still
"Are you going to argue with me forever?"
"I have plenty of ways to irritate you. Arguing is only one of them."
Dana placed her face in her hands. "Jesus, Dana, you're a psycho even in the
"If you knew you were going to be placed here, would you have taken Reichert up on
Dana bit her lip because she still could. "No. I could never go back to that."
A shrug of very tired shoulders. "Because it's wrong."
"Is that all?"
"Isn't killing wrong?"
A guilty shrug. "Sometimes."
"That's a cop-out."
"That's your opinion."
A deep laugh. "Not if I'm your psychosis its not, it's yours."
Dana almost smiled again. "I killed in self-defense."
"You scrambled his brains with a spoon, Dana."
"What do you care?"
"Because I'm your friend."
"Someday you'll be able to love yourself, Dana."
"You really are a pain in my ass."
"No, Babe. I'm the little voice in your head."
Dana rubbed her eyes with a bloody hand.
"Want to play a game?"
"Come on. It's an easy one. Even you can win."
Dana shifted in the grit. Her body ached and her head throbbed.
"That's ironic. I win either way if you're a figment of my imagination. Where's the
sport in that?"
"Okay! I'll play if you promise never to whine again."
"So what are we going to play?"
"What are we going to play?"
"You tell me. You're the one who wanted to play a game."
"You're the one who wanted to play a game," Gabrielle repeated.
"No, no, no. I hate this game."
"No, no, no, ..."
"Stop it!" Dana grabbed her aching head.
It took Rachel three minutes to find that the license plate in the Department of Motor
Vehicles database as belonging to a Steven Edgar of Farmington, Connecticut. Further
inquiries into the Treasury department database and Social Security Department led to
empty personnel files for Steven. Rachel then traced the originators of the files, i.e.,
the authors, by tracking the date and time of files' creations, both of which had
originated on the same day, spaced temporally by two minutes.
"Definitely government," Rachel commented. She hit a button to list all of the
logons to those databases for that day and time.
"We'll get a lock on the usernames and that should key us into a bureau,
Gracie." As if on cue, the supercomputer pulled out forty-five users logged onto the
DMV database at that time: DMV offices, police stations, and federal agencies, and several
insurance companies. She then ran a similar query on the social security database, which
came up with thousands of hits. When she cross-referenced them in a one-for-one pairing,
two matches came up.
"There you go, Queenie. You have the choice of log id 26548 of the Philadelphia
Police Department or Henry Taxson of Calamity Insurance."
"I always like to go with a name," Grace said, crossing her fingers.
"It certainly is a hell of a lot easier." Rachel typed the name "Henry
Taxson" into a search engine for databases and then began to hack her way into
personnel files of every database she thought could provide useful information, starting
with the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Banks. Based on an educated guess,
she also typed his name into the armed forces personnel database. A criminal smile curled
her lips. Thirty hits.
"You gotta love supercomputers," the hacker commented. She set the computer to
match the various numbers used to identify and catalogue Henry Taxson as an individual. A
match, a match, and a match.
"B-I-N-G-O and Bingo was his name, ooooh! It appears our Henry was in the Marines and
has very good credit." She cut and pasted several account numbers to her notepad,
"And, oooo, he owns a lovely home in Maryland." She cut and pasted the address
listed on his credit report and dialed a phone number.
"Hi Kevin," she said. "Got an easy job for you.... Yes, I promise it's
easy, but you have to be careful this time. You need to drive to Maryland tonight. I'll
send you the address and a pict file via e-mail." She studied Grace. "Watch the
residence for any activity, especially Dana Papadopolis, or someone who looks like the
picture I sent you. I want a call every two hours or if something happens."
Grace scribbled down the address and memorized the face of the young Marine.
"What are you doing, Gracie?"
"I'm going down there. Tell Kevin to pick me up here."
"Grace, we don't even know if it's the right guy. He could really be an insurance
"Entering Social Security information?"
"Gracie, you're exhausted, you're emotional ...."
"And I'm going." She grabbed her keys from the counter. Jack had taken a cab
home after Grace insisted he go to his wife and son.
Rachel returned to the phone.
"Kevin ....pick us up here on your way."
Rachel disappeared into the bedroom of her new home, and returned with a pump shotgun, a
Sig Sauer nine-millimeter silver-plated gun, and several boxes of ammunition.
The young doctor's eyes widened at the arsenal.
"So who's Grace?"
Dana's head dropped at the unbounded pain of remembering the last image of her happy
"Is she someone special?"
A sniffle in the darkness.
"Dana, I don't think you're allowed to cry in hell."
Dana cried as quietly as she could.
"Are you done?"
"Yeah," said softly.
"Tell me about her."
"Don't start that again."
"I'm not. I was correcting you."
"Oh, thank you," she replied sarcastically. "Like I need good grammar
"You sure are bitchy this time. I'm not sure I like this Grace very much."
Dana slid her foot across the dirty floor in frustration. "I'm a bitch because I'm
stuck in a shithole."
"York was as much a shithole as this is."
"You weren't as irritating last time."
"And your life is really that much better than this?"
Dana closed her eyes to embrace the light of the images in her mind despite the blackness
of her prison.
"Tell me about her."
"The last time you did most of the talking."
"The last time you didn't have a girlfriend. Besides, it's your turn."
She took her time forming the words to describe the most wonderful creature in her world.
"Grace is the most brilliant, charming, excellent person I have ever met. She has
that youngest child selfishness and she packs around a super-sized 'I can accomplish
anything if I try hard enought' ego, but I think it's kind of cute on her."
"No, no, no. I don't want to hear about character. I want smutty details."
Grace took a couple of uppers before they left, hoping it would help with her exhaustion.
"Dana's going to be pissed when she finds out you got high while she was gone,"
Tears began to trickle from the red eyes. "I have to stay awake to find her. She's
counting on me."
Rachel became very serious. "Grace, have you thought about the possibility that we
may be too late."
"No! Don't even suggest it!"
"Okay, sorry," the hacker replied holding her arms out in the universal symbol
for "chill, baby." Rachel stepped forward and grabbed hold of the crying woman
to pull her close.
"We'll find her, Gracie. I promise."
The blonde buried her face into the hacker's sweater. "You can't promise me
"I just did."
"Go ahead--use my shoulder to wipe your snot on, Queenie."
Grace laughed. "Sorry."
Kevin Grinchgold arrived within the hour. The women loaded his Explorer with their guns
and bodies, and the three headed for Washington, a twelve hour trip because of traffic,
and several more hours to find the neighborhood where Henry Taxson owned a house.
They watched the house from the Explorer in shifts, hoping for some signs of life, but
none came. No lights went on and no cars came or left.
By midnight Monday, Grace could not wait any longer. She climbed out of the truck and
walked around the back to open the hatch. Rachel climbed out on the other side and went to
the rear of the vehicle.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm going in there."
"No you're not."
Grace pulled the shotgun out and was holding it across her chest. "Yes, I am."
Rachel could not keep from laughing at the determined woman.
"Don't you look butch, Queenie," she commented. The hacker shoved a wad of Big
League chewing gum into her mouth and found a box of shells. She handed them to the doctor
and then began to load her Sig Sauer clip with bullets from another box.
"Have you ever shot a gun before?"
"Yes, but I never hit anything ... I watched my brother shoot a deer once."
"Okay, that's a start."
"It made me sick."
"Hmm, not good."
Kev Grinchgold had climbed out as well and joined the women. He loaded his own Berreta and
they moved in the cover of cloudy night skies to the backyard of the small ranch. Rachel
shone her light into the kitchen window, arcing the light from one side to the next until
it lit on the dark form on the floor.
"Is that her?" Grace asked in a high, tight voice.
"I don't know."
"We have to get inside," she said, running along the house to find the back
entrance. When she found it, she smashed the glass pane with her gun handle and reached in
to unlock the door. Grace ran through the empty rooms to the kitchen into the dried blood
and knelt down to examine the body. Not until she realized that it was not Dana did she
breathe. A few seconds later Kevin and Rachel entered the house more cautiously than their
Rachel shined her light across the kitchen floor. Blood was smeared for several feet
across the white linoleum to the basement door, and several sneaker prints and shoeprints
had dried in the mess.
Grace followed the drag marks to the basement door. Rachel looked over to Kev Grinchgold.
"You stay here and watch our backs." The two women proceeded down the wooden
The basement was as barren as the rest of the house. But the blood streaks, although
lighter continued until they disappeared into the south wall of the house.
"It's an addition." Rachel pointed to the wall. "There's a bedroom further
Grace found a small hatch at the foot of the concrete wall and forced it open. She lay on
the ground on her belly and peered down into the darkness of the storage area. Rachel
scooted next to her and used her flashlight to illuminate the area.
Dana forced herself to a standing position. She held her hands up to block the light,
which hurt her eyes.
"Grace?" she asked, slowly moving her stiff body towards the now visible hatch.
"Ese ise?" She was filthy and starving and unsure of whether she was simply
dreaming this or if the powers that be were tormenting her with something new.
Rachel and Grace were unable to understand the words, but it was definitely Dana, beaten
and traumatized, but Dana. Reaching their hands down to her outstretched arms, they hauled
her through the small opening into the basement.
When Dana felt the hand touch her face and saw the tears running from the slightly puffy
and red eyes in the light of the flashlight, she had to return the touch. As she drew her
long arms around the smaller frame, she was amazed at how real it felt. In this dream she
was allowed to touch, and it was wonderful.
Two loud pops shaking the ceiling startled the women. After a moment there was a loud
Rachel scurried to the stairs, her gun pointed at the door.
"It's me," Kev yelled down the stairs his voice a little shaky. "I just
capped this guy." He did not mention that he had also peed in his pants.
"I thought I was in hell," Dana explained as Grace leaned over the side of the
tub of the hotel room and washed her back. She was munching on the remainders of her
hamburger and French fries. With the comfort of food in her body and Grace's gentle hands
moving over her, she felt human again.
Grace kissed a bruised shoulder. "You were speaking in Greek when you saw me,"
she said, rinsing the soap from the broad back.
"How long have I been gone?"
Dana looked at her, astounded.
"That's it?" It had seemed an eternity. "Did you miss me, Grace," she
asked in a tremulous voice.
Grace poured warm water over the dark hair gently washing the remaining dirt and shampoo
from her hair. Dana closed her eyes while the soap ran down her face. She was saddened by
the fact that Grace had not responded to her question. Three days had not been that long.
The gentle hand left her hair.
"Are you angry with me, Grace?" she asked afraid to open her eyes. She listened
as Grace moved away from the tub.
"Yes and No," whispered the other woman. Then there were waves as another body
entered the water. Bare skin pressed down against Dana's thighs; soft hair tickled her
belly, a hand lifted her chin, and then a warm mouth and soft lips touched hers. Dana
opened herself to the seeking tongue and let her arms take hold of the soft body that
brushed against hers. She pressed her mouth hard against Grace's and returned the strokes
of her tongue. Long fingers grabbed the soft golden head and pressed her even harder
against her. Dana was aware of a low rhythmic humming and then realized it was her own
voice. Grace moved her mouth to the long outstretched neck, licking and sucking her way to
the full breasts. Dana leaned back against the towel pillow unable to believe how her
circumstances had changed in a matter of hours. Her breath caught and she stopped thinking
when her nipple was sucked between warm lips.
"Ese oh parathesos mou, Grace," she whispered, her hand stroking the silken
Grace smiled, unable to understand the Greek words, but recognizing her name.
"You are my heaven," Dana muttered again.
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