Rashida — Chapter 3

Ten minutes after the two Government cars sped past Rashida, her bus pulled up. The driver couldn’t see her, of course, and there was no one else waiting for the bus, so she had to dart in as soon as the last departing passenger stepped off the bus and hold on tightly to the seatback handles as the bus pulled off. She made her way to the first available seat, on the back of the bus, where she figured she have less chance of being discovered.

Right after she took her seat, she dozed off. Two stops up the street, two young men boarded the bus and headed for seats right next to where Rashida slept. Their conversation became quite animated as one told the other about a basketball game he had played the day before. His arms were constantly moving, punctuating his words. Before long a loose button fell from his shirt sleeve and rolled to a stop against Rashida’s foot.

The young man reached for the button, but his hand hit against something unseen that blocked his way. The tap woke Rashida
up, and she reflexively yawned. Both young men heard the yawn and froze.

“Did you hear that, Tony?” asked the man who had lost the button.

“H-hear what, Chris?” the other man answered. “N-nobody hear but us, right?”

“I guess, but…” Chris trailed off, looking at his button still lying on the floor. He reached for it again, this time picking it up without difficulty. Looking around warily, he said to Tony, “Somethin’ ain’t right here, Tone. I don’t know what it is, but somethin’s…off.”

By this time the two men and Rashida were the only passengers left on the bus, so Chris and Tony froze again when the “Stop Requested” buzzer sounded. They knew they had not requested the stop. The driver pulled the bus over at the next stop, but when he saw no one at the rear door he pulled off without stopping.

“Hey, lemme off,” a muffled but plainly feminine voice called out. This time, Chris and Tony were shaking. The voice had seemed to come from thin air, right by the rear door of the bus, at least ten feet from where they were sitting. The driver stopped the bus, opened the rear door, and, looking into the safety mirror, called out to the men, “Hey, are you two getting off or what?”

Chris spoke up, saying, “Maybe we better get off, Tony. I think this bus is haunted!” They grabbed their things and bolted from the bus as if it were on fire. About twenty feet away from the bus they stumbled over something and fell, one on top of the other, onto the soft curb next to the sidewalk.

Tony lay flat on his stomach in the grass, sure that he could feel two people lying against him. He looked to his left and saw Chris’ foot on his arm. There was another weight, though, this one against his thigh. Just as he realized where the second weight was and that it couldn’t have been Chris, the second weight moved, and he heard a distinct grunting sound.

“Chris, man, get up!” Tony yelled. “Whatever it is followed us off the bus! We gotta get outa here!” Chris and Tony hopped to their feet and took off running up Howard Street.

Rashida’s legs were bruised in the collision. She wasn’t in pain, but she was just sore enough to slow her down a little. She knew she’d have to hurry to reach Troy in the next hour or so, before he left work, or else she’d have to take more buses to get to his apartment.

It took only ten minutes to reach Troy’s building. Getting to his office, however, meant finding her way through the maze of offices Mediplex had set up. Especially troublesome were the fire doors and some of the corridor doors. As a security and measure, all the fire doors and some interior doors had security cameras trained on them. There was no way for Rashida to know which cameras were transmitting to the security office and which were decoys.

So she had to wait by each door for someone to come by and open the door. Foretunately, Mediplex was a very busy place, so she never had to wait more than a minute or so by each door. When she reached Troy’s section, she ducked into an unassigned office (there was a desk and a phone but nothing else) and dialed Troy’s extension. The idea occurred to her after she had dialed, that a record might be made of her call. She knew she had to take the chance, though. As she saw it, Troy was her only hope. Anyone else who might be able to help her would be more concerned with the opportunity to exploit her.

The phone rang for what seemed to her like hours before someone finally answered. “Hello?” a familiar male voice answered.

“Hello, Troy? This is Rashida,” she said.

“Rashida?” There was a long pause, and some rustling noises before Troy continued, “Um…hi. How are you?”

“Oh, I’m getting along. How about you?” She really didn’t want’ to get into small talk, but her breakup with Troy wasn’t exactly amicable, so she figured she probably shouldn’t just come out with her problem right off the bat.

They made more small talk before Troy asked, “So to what do I owe this call? You’re not in some kind of trouble, are you?”

Bingo, she thought. He always could see through me. “Um, yeah, I am,” she answered. “Things were fine up until today. This afternoon I took a Mediplex product that was supposed to be a weight loss pill, but now…you’re not gonna believe it.”

Troy was nearing the end of a long day, and in no mood for any games. “Come on, Rashida. You told me you’re in trouble, so what’s wrong?”

“You’re gonna think it’s a joke, but I’m completely serious. The pill I took made me invisible.”

There was another long pause, followed by loud laughter from Troy’s end of the line. So loud in fact, that Rashida could hear his laughter coming from the corridor outside the office she was calling from. He stepped away from the phone and continued laughing for a minute or so before returning. Rashida was not the least bit happy to hear him laughing. For a split second she considered running out and taking her chances of finding an antidote on her own, somehow. She thought better of it, though, and waited for Troy to return to the phone.

Troy finally collected himself and said, “Rashida, you can’t be serious. I really needed that laugh, but now I gotta get back to work. Take care, though, and–uh–stay in touch. Better yet, come by and let me take a look at you sometime. Oops, you can’t do that now, can you?” He began cracking up again as he hung up the phone.

“He thinks this is funny?” she fumed. “Well, let’s see how funny it is close up.” She left the room she called from and stepped out into the corridor, narrowly avoiding being run into by a maintenance man.

Troy’s office door was open, so she didn’t have to worry about getting in. She quietly went in and sat on his lab table. He was at his desk, typing away at his computer. Troy didn’t notice the pen that seemingly came to life on his lab table, writing a short note to him on a scratch pad. The page tore itself from the pad ever so slowly so as not to catch Troy’s ear; then the note floated over to his desk, coming to rest on his arm. Only when the note touched his arm did he notice anything.

Troy turned toward the lab table but didn’t see or hear anything out of the ordinary. Then he read the note.

“Hi, Tee,” it read. “I came by to see you, just like you said.”

“Rashida?” Troy said aloud, running to the doorway to look out into the corridor. Rashida had to scramble to keep him from knocking her off the table as he ran past. The idea of him frantically running out into the hall while she was right there in her office was hilarious to her, and she couldn’t help giggling as Troy whirled around outside his office door looking for her. Finally he heard the giggling and looked back toward his office in trepidation. Slowly he approached the source of the laughter, thinking that the long workdays were at last wrecking his sanity, because the laughter seemed to be coming from the empty space above his lab table. The closer he got, the harder she laughed; he couldn’t deny that something was there laughing at him.

“Rashida?” he sa

id, his voice barely above a whisper.

“Yup, it’s me,” she replied.

“You really are invisible,” he said, more to himself than to her.

“Didn’t I tell you that before?”

“Well, yeah, you did,” he conceded, “but it’s pretty hard to believe it when your ex-girlfriend calls and says, ‘Hi, honey, guess what — I’m invisible.'”

“Well, it’s true, and one of your company’s products did it, which is why I’m here. Can you help me? I don’t want to stay like this any longer than I have to.”

Troy suddenly chuckled at an old memory.

“What’s so funny?” Rashida demanded.

Still chuckling, he said, “I was just recalling how I told you that you would come back to me one day. I just wouldn’t have guessed it would be for something like this.”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” Rashida snapped, not in a joking mood. “Can you help me? Don’t you have an antidote or something around there that can undo what this stuff did?”

“You’re not gonna like this–” he started, waiting for her reaction. Not hearing any, he continued. “I don’t have clearance for that product.”

“You don’t have…” she trailed off.

“I don’t have clearance,” Troy repeated. “Anything from Mediplex that would turn you invisible would have to be a military project, and for that you need government clearance. They do background checks here, remember? They found out I used to be a Young Socialist and my chances of working on anything even remotely classified went out the window. If not for my lawyer, I wouldn’t even have this paper-pusher job.”

“Mmm. So you’re saying that the lawyer I introduced you to comes in handy?”

Troy chuckled. “No, not the one you introduced me to. That shyster got disbarred last year. He’s probably in Fiji somewhere. I found another one who, as it happens, plays cards with Mediplex’ CFO. He knows all the dirt about what goes on around here, and one of the conditions of keeping quiet is keeping me employed.”

“Sounds like a sweet deal to me,” Rashida said sarcastically.

“Not really,” Troy replied. “I could get fired on my lawyer’s say-so, and if that happens I might as well join your shyster friend in Fiji.”

A few seconds of silence ensued, during which Rashida thought about the possibility of having to remain permanently invisible. Troy broke the silence by saying, “I think I can help you, though.”

“But I thought you just said–” she started, before he cut her off.

“That I don’t have security clearance. I don’t, but I do know a way you
can become visible again.” He paused a few seconds for effect. “Ever hear of liquid latex?”

v v v v v

After what seemed like a tour of the whole town, Dr. Williams pulled over at the side of the road and dialed Joyce Torres’ number on his cellular phone.

“Hello.” It was Joyce.

“Hello, Joyce. This is Omar.” He didn’t usually identify himself over the phone as Omar, especially not to Joyce or to patients, but you say whatever comes quickly to mind when you’re trying to beat Federal officers to someone’s house. “What number is your house again?”

“4730 Camden Road,” she said.

“4730? Daryl told me 3740,” he said, a bit exasperatedly.

“Sounds like my Darryl,” Joyce replied. “He’s no good with numbers.”

“Very well. I should be there in a few minutes,” the doctor said, before hanging up. As he pulled back into traffic, his mind wandered to Dave Delvalle. The doctor thought, no doubt, that Delvalle was probably trying to figure out where he was and what he was doing. “I just hope I get to Joyce and Rashida before they do,” he said to himself.

v v v v v

Ed and Janet Davis settled into their customary positions for the afternoon, he at the table with a jigsaw puzzle, she in front of the television. There had been a report on the news about a ghost sighting earlier at a department store, but they had shrugged it off as some kind of publicity stunt.

Ed and Janet Davis settled into their customary positions for the afternoon, he at the table with a jigsaw puzzle, she in front of the television. There had been a report on the news about a ghost sighting earlier at a department store, but they had shrugged it off as some kind of publicity stunt.

Janet was just about to doze off on the couch when there was an urgent knock at the door.

“Now who would that be?” Ed said, as he moved toward the door.

Through the peephole he saw a group of young-to-middle-aged men in dark suits, with no-nonsense expressions on their faces. One rather large man was wearing what looked to Ed like a pair of those fancy-pants virtual-reality goggles.

“Yes? Can I help you?” he said.

The one closest to the door held up a badge. “FBI, sir. Please open up.”

“I think you have the wrong house, fella,” Ed replied.

“Who is it, dear?” Janet called out.

“FBI, or so they say,” Ed said.

“Well, for goodness’s sake, let them in,” Janet answered, in a high-pitched voice. She started tidying up the room as Ed opened the door. As soon as he turned the doorknob, the Federal agents brushed past like the “men on a mission” they were.

“Alright, sir, where are they?” Delvalle asked Ed menacingly. His agents were already making a sweep of the house. The man Ed saw with the goggles, actually infrared goggles, had planted himself just inside the living room door, waiting for his signal. A second man made his way to the kitchen, waiting by the door to the rear porch.

” ‘They’ who?” Ed replied. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Darryl Landry and Rashida Torres. We have reason to believe they are here in this house. Where are they?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about! I don’t know anybody named Torres or Landry. Why would they be in my house?” Ed thundered.

“Why indeed?” Delvalle shot back. Within minutes, the agents were back in the Davis’ living room.

“No sign of either of them, sir, and no sign of a recent departure, either.”

Janet looked at Ed like she wanted to say something. Ed saw the look and willed her to keep quiet. “I told you,” he said to Delvalle. “I don’t know these people”

“Yes, it would seem that way,” Delvalle replied, eyeing the Davises carefully. Finally satisfied that neither of them was hiding anything, he motioned his agents to leave the premises.

“Sorry to have bothered you, sir,” Delvalle said, with not a hint of emotion in his voice. “We may have been given some wrong information. But if you do see either of these people,” he said, handing Ed photos of Doctor Williams, Darryl, and Rashida, “please give me a call at this number.”

Delvalle handed Ed his business card. “Hey,” Ed said, “this says Secret Service. You said you were with the FBI.”

“Whatever it takes to get the door open, sir,” Delvalle said with a mirthless grin on his face before leaving.

Janet started talking as soon as the door closed, but Ed held up his hand for silence, watching at the front door until the agents had pulled away. “He said Torres! Could that be Joyce?” she said excitedly.

“I don’t think so, unless he got the name wrong. Anyway, there’s only one way to find out,” he said, picking up the phone and dialing. He hung up after getting a busy signal. Janet quickly picked up the phone and started dialing.

“Who are you calling now?” Ed asked.

“Just following a hunch, dear,” Janet said, as the phone rang at the other end. “I think I remember where I heard the name Rashida Torres.”

A man answered Janet’s call. “Hello, Troy Davis speaking.”

Continue to chapter four (not posted yet) – five (not posted yet)

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3 Responses to Rashida — Chapter 3

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hola, Misterdoe.
    I’ve enjoyed your work for years. Let’s do a summary of Rashida so far.
    # of pills taken:
    Joyce: 2
    Rashida: 1
    Has Joyce taken from a bottle with a smaller dosage?
    Where does Rashida work? She’s gotta “appear” sometime.
    How much do the feds and/or Mediplex know about the formula? Do they know it’s permanent or are they just operating on a worst case scenario?
    I look forward to you answering these questions and many others on this story.
    Take Care, 13 Black. patc@bak.rr.com

  2. wr2001 says:

    LOVE the notion of liquid latex to make masks and such. Any idea when this will play out? Have you written others that go that way?
    Thanks!
    WR2001

    • Misterdoe says:

      Unfortunately, I don’t have a timeline. I’m just realizing how many stalled stories I have. But I do intend to finish it, and the liquid latex will be a part of it. I don’t have any others that involve liquid latex… at least not yet. ;-P

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