The three had been gathered around the table for what appeared to be hour but, in fact, wasn’t much than fifteen minutes. The scrolls were still there, although Larry had rolled them up. “Too soon for you to read them.” He said.

Jarod was now uncuffed. Both he and Miss Parker were standing, while Larry, still tired of his journey, was sitting at the only available chair. After revising the entire situation, Miss Parker had decided to listen to her mother’s voice – and her own, as a matter a fact – and release Jarod. They weren’t allies yet – she didn’t feel like that – but most of the hostility was gone.

Larry was telling them his story. Told them he was born in Delaware, but were taken to Europe after his parents’ died, where he was raised by his uncle. He was almost six at the time.

His parents had died at a car crash. Normally, there wouldn’t be anything abnormal about that. Only when Larry told who his parents were, things became clear. They were high figures in The Centre hierarchy. From what he could remember – it happened more than sixty years ago – his father was the head of some department. His mother was a scientist.

Jarod considered the ramifications. There was so much they could learn with this man.

“I remember these two kids being brought to my class by the chairman. He was a scary man, but the kids... They were really scary. One of them had a small oxygen tank.”

Miss Parker interrupted him. “That ought to be Raines.”

“Which would imply that the other boy was your father.” Jarod added. “But what were they doing together?”

“Mr. Raines wasn’t my father. Raines was?”

“Raines? I thought—”

“I’ll explain it later, okay? Let’s let Larry talk.”

“Fine. What about these kids?”

“I felt evil in them. I’ve always felt things around me. I’m not an empathy, if that’s what you’re thinking. I just... it’s like I could look ahead and see the essence of what their lives would be.”

“What you were studying, Larry?”

“Grammar, mathematics. Basic stuff mostly. It was an Elementary School for Centre high rankings. But I think they were more interested in what they could learn from us.”

“What do you mean?”

“I overheard my parents talking one time late at night. I was running a high fever but I remember hearing something like special gift. Years later, when I began to see the visions, I knew the truth. For years I ignored what the Voices told me but—”

“You hear the Voices too?” Miss Parker was surprised.

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Jarod wondered.

“That we’re related? Is it possible?”

“I don’t think.” Larry said. “I would know if something like that had happened.”

“They could have done it without you knowing. It wouldn’t be a first.”

“What else, Larry? How did you find the scrolls?”

“I’m almost there. After I was taken to Europe, my uncle did what he could to give the best education possible. We spent most of the time moving from country to country. As a child I wouldn’t understand totally why. I only knew my uncle was a businessman. I guess that was one of the reasons why we used to travel so much.”

“You think The Centre was after you?”

“Had to be. When my uncle died, he left me all his money. I went to France, was at my twenties, and started a small business. Didn’t work out all that well. Decided to go to Belgium. It was there that I met this man. We became good friends, he was my fishing partner. By the time we parted ways, me back to France, him to the United States, we became pen pals.

“For the next couple of months our letters would approach regular topics: books we were reading, fishing trips, that sort of thing. Then he told me he and his brother had found a job. Afterward, everything changed. The topics were still the same, but I knew something was bothering him.

“Then one day, he told where they were working.”

“The Centre.”

“I stopped writing for a while. When my wife convinced me to write again, I received a letter saying he had died and that I should wait.”

“Wait for what?”

“When did this happen?”

“Almost forty years ago.”

“He must have been Jacob. Sydney and Jacob were from Belgium.”

“Yes, that was his name, yes.”

“How did you know that?”

“Hunch. I was a psychic once.”

“More like a psychotic.”


There was a friendly banter between these two. Whatever their story was, Larry felt there was too much they were still hiding. They were afraid. He continued.

“A few years before this, my son had been born. Nasty little brat he was. A rebel with a heart of gold.”

Larry stopped.

“Something happened to them, didn’t it?”

He nodded. “You know that saying that goes ‘a lightning never strikes twice at the same place?’ Well, this time, it did. It was two days before me and my wife’s twenty fifth wedding anniversary. She and our son were driving home. We had made plans for dinner and I was just waiting for them to come home.”

“I spent hours waiting. Finally, I received a phone call telling me they had died at a car accident. They told me their deaths had been painless. If that’s any relief.”

Larry tried to hold his tears but it was useless. And he didn’t felt like to.

Jarod was still analyzing what he had just heard, when Larry said something that recaptured his attention.

“My poor Alex.”

“What did you say?”

“I was remembering my son.”

“How old was your son when he died?”

“About sixteen. Why?”

“What did he look like? Blond, blue eyes?”

“Yes, yes.”

“Jarod, is there something wrong?”

Jarod’s mind was at a highway, and there was no one patrolling the road.

“Larry, your son didn’t die at that accident.”


“Oh my God!” Miss Parker finally realized what Jarod was saying.

“He was brought to The Centre. I remember the first time they brought him. He was reaching his seventeens. Looked like someone who had just returned from war.”

“But I saw the body.”

“They must have switched it.”

“No... no... no. It can’t be.”

“I’m afraid it is.”