M.a.i.n.e. Frame PC II
by Sam Lakes
Copyright © 2006 All Rights Reserved
“Arbor! Wake up!” shouted Paul Smith, “Colt is conscious. I’m leaving in five minutes for the hospital.
In an instant Arbor Maine was awake and standing on his feet in his boxers. He grabbed his jeans socks and shoes and ran down stairs.
“I think you should get dressed first,” said Ruth Maine, his mother, “The hospital frowns on naked boys walking around. They’re liable to send you to the psych ward.”
Arbor smiled. “I’m just in a hurry, Mom,” said Arbor hopping about on one leg as he tried to put on his jeans, “How is he?”
“They said his first words were ‘Where’s Arb?’”
Arbor had known Colt his whole life. They had lived together since Colt was four. To Arbor Colt was more than a brother. He was for better or worse his life and he’d almost lost his life. Everyday since the day on the roof Arbor had visited Colt. At first everything seemed fine but then Colt lapsed onto a coma. The doctors couldn’t really explain why.
Arbor had talked, cried, laughed and been there for Colt for nearly nine weeks. Some days were good in that it seemed like Colt was there with him. Others were not so good – days when Colt’s spirit seemed to be waning.
The ride to the hospital was quiet, everyone in their own thoughts. Paul let Arbor be the first to enter Colt’s room.
“Arbie,” said Colt in a very weak voice.
“Hi,” said Arb softly as the tears streamed down his face.
Arb hugged Colt.
“Been a while, huh? They said I’ve been here for nine weeks. Arb, I can’t remember how I got here,” Colt said just above a whisper, “I remember seeing the helicopter crash. Then I woke up here.”
“They told me that you’ve been here every day.” Colt closed his eyes, “I’m tired. Will you just hold me for a while?”
Arbor complied. Colt drifted off to sleep.
The day before he was to leave the hospital he sleepily opened his eyes and was greeted by a room full of floral presentation in every imaginable color. Their combined wondrous scents filled the room hiding the usual hospital antiseptic smell. Everywhere he looked he saw flowers or plants and to Colt it was like waking up on a fresh spring day in the country. Standing by the window looking out was Arbor
“Where did all these flowers come from?” Colt asked.
“Oh, hi!” Arbor said turning around to face Colt. “Well, they come from people you know and some from people I know you’ve never met.” Arbor smiled at Colt, “Like the President of the United States.”
“The President! Why would he send me flowers?”
“I guess because we’re National heroes. He called me last week and we talked mainly about you.”
“Why are we National heroes? The last thing I remember was seeing Dad get shot and running towards him. So, what’s been going on?”
“Well, the President saw the helicopter crash and burn. Someone told him that there were a bunch of spies and bad agents on the helicopter and thanks to the kids’ computer the copter crashed and burned. This, of course, made him want to find out more. The next day I got a call from the President. I was a little emotional with him because you’d gone into a coma, but I gave him the gist of the story. He ordered a team of medical experts on the scene. Anyway, it got into the news and there have been literally thousands of telegrams and letters, some with money. I think everybody from the U has called even Fatman Spiney to wish you well, he said he’s lost thirty pounds.”
“Wow!” thought Colt.
Arbor continued, “Also, Paul said that the President has received thirty-three letters from Ph.D.’s who attribute their success to you helping them with their Ph.D.s and I think the U plans to give you your Ph.D. in a special ceremony. I told them that all your work and thesis was on Mother and that Mother was destroyed in the helicopter crash. They said it doesn’t matter because the Board of Regents has unanimously voted. They had received copies of the letters from the people you helped. Of course the tabloids had a field day, you know Boy Genius Is Secret Agent from the Future!” Arbor laughed.
“Well, anyway, let me read you some of these cards - this one from the President ‘Colt - It’s great to hear you’re doing better. I’d like to see you and Arbor at the White House in the very near future’ signed blah-blah, etc. Here’s one with a single rose - Dear Colt, Get well soon! And we just want to thank you also for everything…”
Colt could feel Arbor’s grief.
“Sorry, this one sort of gets to me…”
“It’s okay. Just hand it to me and I can read it.”
Arbor handed him the card and Colt continued reading it “everything you’ve done for our son Alan and for helping him get his Ph.D. Alan constantly praised both you and Arbor and loved you both as good friends. Thank you for all that you did for him. Mr. and Mrs. George Bennison.” By the time Colt had finished reading it his own tears were rolling down his face. “It was my fault” Colt thought to himself.
At that moment the Doctor and a nurse walked in and the boys quickly extinguished their sadness. After examining Arbor and removing his IV and several other tubes attached to his body the Doctor said “Well, Arbor I hope you’re ready to work hard with Colt. His muscles are weak and he’s going to need lots of exercise, physical therapy.”
“Sure” answered Arbor.
Paul Smith walked into the room and over to his sleeping son. He gently ran his hand through Colt’s blond hair a couple of times then gave his son a gentle kiss on the forehead. “I love you, so very much” he said softly. And walked over to the window and looked out at night’s scene.
“I love you too, Dad.”
Paul turned and said “Thanks.”
“For what?” inquired Colt.
“For telling me that you love me too. I quit the agency today. I’ve been planning it for sometime now and all of what’s happened has shown me that what’s really important to me is you. And Ruthie and Arbor. Kevin also resigned. He says it’s not worth getting killed if I’m not there to protect…He’s a good guy.”
“Yeah, he’s the best,” said Colt.
“I’ll agree with you there” said Paul.
Al Nichols sat in the conference room looking at Jim Bayshoof.
“I can’t believe what I’m hearing!” he said angrily “I’ve know Paul Smith for sixteen years and I’m telling you he left because for the last ten years he gave his all to the agency. He has been an exemplary employee and the idea that the son switched the computers and now they’re in league together is ludicrous!”
“Look, Nichols. We have analyzed the remains of the laptop found in the wreckage. There are no special chips. The guys that manufactured the chips say they have no records of the chips of even having manufactured them, but they remember doing the work only there’s no trace of it! They even checked their bank account and there’s no trace of them ever having been paid or of the deposit having been made, but the banking clerk for the company remembers being paid and making the deposit. We’ve checked all of Smith’s accounts and his son’s accounts and Mitchell’s account and Ruth and Keith Maine’s accounts and zero evidence!”
“We know the kid is a class A1 genius. We know the computer Maine invented could access a computer system and do whatever! I mean the kid got into our ops room and there’s not a speck of evidence he was ever there except for Garret Bennings’s report! I think the kid switched the computers. And if so we need that computer, we need that technology!”
“You say the chip manufacturer’s people remember making the chips, surely someone understood what they were doing. Surely, there was someone Professor Maine confided in!” questioned Nichols.
“No. We’ve checked everyone. Maine never explained anything he just insisted they follow his instructions exactly and they did, there were records, plans, and schematics, and now no one can find even a whiff of evidence. Nothing!”
“Look, Nichols, all we want to do is force an issue. I want to make the kid or, his father, give us the computer.”
“And if it really doesn’t exist!”
“It does exist. They had to use it to remove the evidence! It definitely exists!”
“And what if the kid destroyed the computer? The only recording we have of him and his Dad is where he says he’s glad the computer was destroyed because too many people died. I say we wait and we watch to see if they have or use the computer. Both kids went through hell and they exposed a major traitor. And now they are National heroes! One slip up and our enemies will cut our budget to such a degree you’ll be lucky to have a job” retaliated Nichols.
“Maney! Jimmy B” said Jim Banshoof.
“Jimmy! What can I do for you?” asked Maney Greenberg.
“I need a favor. There’s a couple of kids in your neighborhood I need watched one in particular. They are staying at the Hilton. The one I’m particularly interested in is the younger of the two he’s about 120, five-five, blond hair and really blue eyes, fifteen years old, name is Colt Smith. The other is his stepbrother. About five eight, 140, brown hair brown eyes, seventeen years old both are good looking. I’ll e-mail you a photo of each. The younger one has some property I want very badly. I just want them tailed.”
“You want I should pick them up?” asked Maney.
“No. Not yet. maybe later. Don’t let them know they’re being tailed. Hey, they’re young men I’m sure you can find something attractive.”
“No problem Jimmy. I’ll take care of it. Anything in particular they should look for?”
“Yeah, a laptop PC.”
“Is that the property?”
“Could be. The important thing is they must not suspect a tail. Keep me informed.”
“Arb, Carol, it’s been great fun, but I’m bushed!” Colt said cheerfully as he got out of the swimming pool.
“Oh, Sharon will be here soon, do you have to go?” asked Carol.
“I’d love to meet her, but I’m really tired and I need to get up early. I’ve got a full day planned for tomorrow,” replied Colt as he walked away.
“Going to work on your PC?” she asked jokingly.
“Huh?” asked Colt looking at her suspiciously.
“Never mind. Whatever! Have fun” she said.
Colt’s sleep was anything but sound. He kept having dreams of being chased by Horace and other characters he’d never seen before. In his last dream, which seemed too real, he was being chased on his bike by a truck and a helicopter. The truck was about two feet away from him when the ground disappeared and Colt woke with a start. He looked at his watch. It was five a.m. Arb’s bed was empty. Colt got up deciding there was no point in going back to sleep and he took a shower. As he was showering Arb entered the bathroom and started taking a piss. Colt looked out of the shower curtain “Oh, it’s you. Where have you been?”
“With Carol. About two a.m. we started taking. Mainly about each other, though for a while we talked about you.”
“About me? I hope you didn’t tell her I’m a computer geek.”
“Well, sort of, but she was really interested, she’s thinking of majoring in CompSci when she goes to college.”
“Hand me a towel” Colt said as he got out of the shower. Arb tossed him one, then stripped and got in the shower as Colt toweled off.
“So are you getting up now?” asked Arb.
“Yeah, I had a terrible night sleeping. I need to get it out of my system.”
“Yeah, too real. That’s what woke me. I decided I’d had enough so I got up. I’ll grab a bite to eat and go for a ride. It’s almost like before…”
“That bad?” asked Arb sticking his head out from behind the shower curtain.
“Yeah, maybe I ate something that was spoiled.” Colt wrapped his towel around his waist “Later.”
“Hey, stay in touch!” said Arbor as he heard the bathroom door open.
The tension and fear in Colt wasn’t waning, but he refused to give into it. He unlocked his bike and took off.
As he headed out to town a car slowly followed him down a main street. As he stopped at a stoplight the car pulled up beside him. Its windows were heavily tinted preventing him from seeing the driver. While he waited for the light to change the window lowered. Colt looked at the driver.
“Nice, bike” said an attractive guy “You’re pretty cute too.”
“Have you had breakfast?” he asked.
“No. I figured I’d get it on the way.”
“On the way, where?”
Colt shrugged his shoulders “Wherever the road takes me.”
“I’d love to cook breakfast for you” he offered “I also know a great place to mountain bike. My brother has a pickup that he said I could use and we could both go riding. I have my own Mongoose.”
“You have a Mongoose?” Colt questioned excitedly.
He nodded and smiled.
“Well…” Colt looked at the guy with a smile he said, “Okay, breakfast sounds good. Lead the way.”
As the light changed he took off and Colt followed.
He picked up his cell phone and dialed a number.
“Hello” Larry answered sleepily “Who the fuck is this? It’d better be good.”
“Larry, it’s Aaron, tell Maney I need a pickup and a Mongoose Mountain bike by 9 a.m. You bring them over to my apartment and drop them off for me.”
“A Mongoose, that’s a fucking two thousand dollar bike, Aaron! Maney’s gonna fucking crap!”
“Tell Maney, this kid is really into mountain biking. He’s riding a fucking LTS 2000-DS mountain bike. What am I supposed to say ‘Well, I have a fucking Huffy Bear Cave’? Get real! If I have to watch this kid and get him to tell me about his computer, I’m gonna have to earn his trust and respect. Of course, Maney could just let you at him” he said sarcastically.
“Damn right, bitch! I’m tempted to just bash the little fucker around and I guarantee you he’d talk!” boasted Larry.
“Yeah, just like you did with that California guy! You’re fuckin’ crazy!” he said.
“Hey, bitch! He talked! Can I help it if he died?” Larry laughed. Larry got enjoyment out of the recall of his brutal actions, especially the end. He enjoyed killing things and it was a real thrill when it was another human. “You gotta admit you got off on it!” he said as he hung up.
“You’re fucking sick!” Aaron said, but it was too late he’d hung up. He hated working with him, but there was little he could do because Maney owned his body and soul.
He thought about the young teen following him at breakneck speed. He was doing twenty-five and the boy was managing to keep up. He sped up to thirty-five and the boy started falling behind. Whenever he made a turn he made sure the boy was in sight and saw his turn. Finally, Aaron arrived at his apartment and the boy arrived after a few minutes.
“I can’t believe you kept up for so long!” Aaron said.
Colt was dripping in sweat, his clothes were totally soaked and he was nearly out of breath. “Thanks for stopping at the turns. I’d better wait out here until I dry out.”
“I have a better idea. Come in, take a shower and while you’re showering I’ll wash your clothes and make breakfast,” Aaron said.
“I don’t want to put you to any trouble” Colt said.
Aaron said, “You’re no trouble at all.”
Colt followed him into his apartment. “By-the-way, my name is Colt Smith. What’s your name?”
“Oh, I’m sorry” he turned to face him “Aaron Mason. I recognized you. I saw you on TV a month or so ago, right, you are the same person?”
“Yeah. That was me.”
Aaron got Colt a towel and showed him to the bathroom, then stood there expectantly.
“What?” asked Colt.
“Your clothes” he said wondering if he’d strip in front of him. Aaron was hoping he would.
Colt took off his shoes, then pulled off his socks and handed them to him, then his shirt and shorts.
“Underwear” he said.
“Hey, you haven’t got anything I haven’t seen before and won’t see again” he said nonchalantly. “You’re cute when you blush. Now, come on, underwear” Aaron demanded.
Colt wrapped the towel around him and then pulled his underwear down and stepped out of them.
“Take your time in the shower, it’s going to take at least forty-five minutes to do your clothes and make breakfast.”
Aaron closed the door. “He’s definitely an unusual kid,” he thought to himself, “Damn he’s hot!”
Aaron’s computer sat on a table in the dining area. As the bacon slowly cooked he powered on the monitor and checked his e-mail. He had received a complete file on Colt and Arbor from Maney. “Jesus, this kid is a genius! He’s helped thirty-five people get their Ph.D.s,” he said to himself as he finished Colt’s bio and closed the file.
Colt finished his shower and walked into the kitchen with the towel wrapped around him.
“Nearly, ready, just waiting on the toast. My brother’s friend is on his way over with my bike and his truck. I hope scrambled eggs are all right for you. Why don’t you check the dryer to see if your clothes are dry? It’s just down the hall from the bathroom.”
“Scrambled is fine.” Colt went to check his clothes and returned to the kitchen after five minutes in his cleaned clothes.
Aaron seated Colt at the table so Colt could easily reach the monitor. He had called Maney and told him to send a bogus e-mail to him.
Colt sat down. He noticed the computer and saw that Aaron had e-mail waiting, but said nothing.
After a few minutes Aaron said, “Oh, it looks like I have an email.”
“Could you open it for me? Seeing as you so close.”
Colt opened the mail.
“You’re just plain lucky to meet Colt Smith! Hope he can give you some pointers
Later, M,” the note read.
“My friend is right you know,” Aaron said.
Colt just shrugged his shoulders.
“Let’s talk about Mountain biking” Colt said, “What do you think of your Mongoose?”
“Gosh, I was hoping we could talk about computers. I’m majoring in CompSci,” he said hoping he could loosen him up a bit.
“I’d rather not.”
“It’s none of your fucking business” Colt snapped “Look, thanks for breakfast and all.”
Colt got up to leave.
“Look, I’m sorry! I didn’t realize it was such a touchy subject for you. My friend will be here any second with the Mongoose.”
At that moment Larry arrived with the truck and honked the horn as he got out of the truck and walked over to another car. Colt only got a fleeting glance of Larry and the shock almost knocked him over. Larry looked like the guy chasing him in his dream.
Aaron saw the look on Colt’s face “What’s wrong?”
“Who was that?”
“The guy that was driving the truck and got in the car.”
“Don’t know some guy that my brother knows,” he said, “Why?”
“He reminded me of someone I’ve seen. It doesn’t matter. Let’s ride!”
They put Colt’s bike in the back with the Mongoose and headed for the mountains.
“Well, I hope I’m not going to pick a trail that’s too hard for you, but if it is then let me know. Don’t try and be macho man. I don’t want you to get hurt. I’ve done these trails for the last few years so I’ve got a lot of experience and I mean a lot. We’re doing this to have fun, right?”
“Don’t worry, I just want to have fun, breaking my neck is not my idea of having fun,” said Colt then as he took off on his bike he yelled, “Race ya to the top!”
Aaron gave chase and was up with him in a flash as he passed him he said “Bye, macho boy”. Colt started laughing and put on the steam soon he was up with Aaron and as he passed he said “Bye, macho man!” he maintained the distance for a short time, but the look on Aaron’s face as he turned back to look tickled him and he started laughing nearly coming off his bike. Aaron passed him, but Colt’s laugh was contagious and Aaron started laughing too.
They continued racing and laughing up the hill, but in the end Colt was the first to the top.
“Well, I had to let you win” Aaron said laughing and out of breath “otherwise, it would have ruined your ego! Anyway going down is the hard part. You ever jump a chasm?”
Colt shook his head ‘No’
“Well, it’s totally awesome! It’s scary, but an awesome experience. Just don’t freeze up or you’ll end up in the hospital or worse. You game?”
“Yeah!” Colt smiled “And thanks for letting me win. I know you were holding yourself back.”
Aaron shrugged his shoulders.
“Did I piss you off earlier?” asked Colt.
“You mean when you said it was none of my fucking business.”
“A little, but just because of the way you said it. I’m sure you have your reasons and that’s fine, but if you ever want to just talk, I’m willing to listen.”
Colt dismounted his bike, laid it down then sat down on the ground. Aaron followed suit.
Colt looked at the desert below. It seemed to go on forever and even though it was winter it was already pretty warm. He gazed up into the blue nearly cloudless sky as he opened his water bottle and drank the cool water. He was keenly aware of Aaron’s interest and could feel he wanted to hear what he had to say.
“When I was six I lived with Arbor and his Mom and Dad. They basically became my parents, my family. I started cutting school because it was boring and I wasn’t learning anything. When I cut classes I’d always end up in the university’s library and would end up spending the whole day there. Arbor would lie for me and tell the school I was sick. Well, one day I got interested in reading a book by Donald Knuth ‘The Art of Programming - Book I’. Time ceased to exist for me and before I knew it someone in the library came over to me and told me I had to leave because it was eleven o’clock and they were closing.”
“Jack Murphy, a policeman, picked me up on the way home. He told me my parents were worried sick about me and asked me where I had been hanging out. He laughed when I told him I’d spent the whole day at the U’s library and that I had gotten so interested in a book on computers. Anyway, when I got home, Officer Murphy took them aside and I guess he went to bat for me ‘cause they just sent me to bed. Then next morning, though Keith and I had a talk about me cutting school. He had grounded Arbor for a month for lying to the teachers. I got really upset,” Colt smiled slightly “I called him a fucking asshole, I mean I screamed it at him so loud that Arbor and Ruthie came running into the room. Now, up to that time I’d always been really meek and mild. I told him it was totally unjust to do that to Arb. I told him I’d educate myself and there was nothing anyone could do to make me go back to that stupid school.
The shit really hit the fan and we argued for over an hour. He took me to school and I mean he physically carried me to school, to my classroom. At the first break, I was gone. I went back to the library.
Now, I had told the librarian that I was a part of a special project the U was doing in self-education and I knew Keith would come looking for me. When I arrived that day I got her to let me go into the archives to do a research paper. The Librarian and I had established a really good relationship and I guess she was the second person to realize I had a great capacity to learn stuff.
Well, I went back to the archives and that’s where I found Ruthie’s thesis. I started reading it. It was intense. When Keith arrived he asked the Librarian if she’d seen me and of course she had. She could tell he was pissed and they talked. The end result was he got a reality adjustment. She let him in to the archives where he saw me reading Ruthie’s thesis. I was so into it I didn’t hear him until he tapped me on my back. I didn’t even bother to look to see who it was I just said “Shh, this is the library. I’m busy…this is so intense! Ruthie is so smart!” Then Keith called my name and the end result was he sat on the floor next to me and we talked for about three hours and I never went back to regular school.”
“At first I thought I was just a regular kid maybe a little ahead, but by the age of ten I knew I was different. It didn’t bother me too much because I was always busy studying and then one day I heard one of Arb’s friend’s say to him “You’re not going to bring the geekoid are you?” to Arb and Arb said no. I ran away, hid, and cried then I fell asleep.
Keith found me. He knew where I always went when I had to cry. We talked and he told me that Arb was sorry for upsetting me and that ten minutes after he and his friend had left home he told his friend that he was the only person in the world who could call me a geekoid and to take it back and the guy didn’t and he called Arb a fagot and Arb punched him out.”
“Keith sounds like a really nice guy” he said.
“Yeah, he was the best.”
Colt felt the same old sadness, but forced it away. “He died just over a year ago.”
“I’m sorry,” Aaron said gently.
“Yeah, so am I” Colt said then he jumped to his feet and said, “Hey, I guess we better start on the downward trek!”
“Sure! Let’s go jump the chasm!” Aaron said excitedly.
“Lead the way!” exclaimed Colt as he rebounded out of his gloom.
It was a fairly easy trail for a moderately skilled mountain biker. The trail split and Colt followed Aaron up the left trail until Aaron stopped at the apex of a hump. Colt stopped beside Aaron and looked down where he saw a very steep fall of the rock and a ten-foot gap between this rock and the other side. Colt’s stomach muscles tensed at the sight.
“This is it!” Aaron said “Pretty awesome, the important thing is speed, it’s fairly smooth all the way so you don’t have to worry about jumping bumps or rocks on the way down. While your flying relax hold the bike slightly up so you land first on your rear tire. Not too much though or you’ll flip backwards and depending on where you land that could be disastrous.”
“Got it!” said Colt excitedly.
“Look, Colt, if you don’t feel 100% okay about this there is an alternate trail.”
“I’m fine” Colt smiled then he leaned over and gave Aaron a kiss on the cheek saying “For luck!” and smiled.
“You have done a jump before, right?” Aaron asked.
“No!” he said as he pushed off. “And it’s too late to change my mind!” he yelled.
Aaron watched as Colt gained speed, and then suddenly he was horrified as he saw a large rattler sunning himself directly in Colt’s path. He knew if he tried to swerve it could cause Colt to loose balance and he’d end up sliding over the edge. He screamed “Colt!”