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Resonance: Chapter Thirty One

       Last updated: Saturday, March 4, 2006 11:47 EST



    Graham waited for Annalise to say something. She put the phone down in a daze and shook her head.

    “That was Kevin,” she said. “He wants us to meet.”

    “He got away?” Graham couldn’t believe it. He’d heard the struggle. Had Kevin managed to fight them off and find a way out?

    “It’s gotta be a trap,” said Annalise. “You know how paranoid Kevin is about his calls being scanned. But this time he mentions you and the resonance wave in the same breath.”

    “You think someone forced him to make the call?”

    “I think they were listening to every word. The only thing Kevin could do was drop a few clues to warn us off.”

    “So they know about you,” Graham said quietly.

    “Yes,“ said Annalise. “They know about me. Now let’s get this web page loaded and get the hell out.”



    A car pulled up as Graham and Annalise left the cafe. Two men jumped out - grey suits, thirties, well built - two car doors slammed in quick succession. They left their car double parked in the centre of the street and ran ahead of Graham and Annalise, squeezing through the gaps between the line of parked cars to head them off.

    “Graham Smith?” said the stockier of the two men.

    “No,” said Annalise, grabbing Graham’s arm and trying to steer him past the two men.

    A hand rested against Graham’s chest. “I’m detective sergeant Tucker, Mr. Smith.” He flashed his warrant card with his other hand. “We have a Miss Tamisha Kent at the station. She’s told us everything. We need to get you into protective custody at once.”

    Annalise stared at them blankly. “Is this some kinda joke? We don’t know any Tamishas.”

    Graham looked down at the hand on his chest and then at Annalise. What should they do? Were these real policemen or part of another trap?

    Annalise pulled Graham back and led him away in the opposite direction. The two policemen hurried after them. A hand grabbed Graham’s shoulder and pulled him back.

    “We’ve got to take you in, Mr. Smith. It’s for your own safety.”

    Annalise turned on him. “Where’s the camera? We’re on TV, right? Some guy gonna come out and tell us all about it?”

    The two men exchanged glances, the first hint of uncertainty. At the head of the street, a lorry turned in from the main road and almost scraped the paint from one of the parked cars opposite.

    “This is no joke,” said the man calling himself Sergeant Tucker. “We’ve got orders.”

    “Good for you. Now go and find this Mr. Smith you’re looking for and leave us alone.”

    Annalise was getting louder. A few faces peered out from the cafe window. A woman stared from the street corner. A horn blared - a lorry driver impatient at having his path blocked by a car parked in the middle of the road.

    The two men exchanged glances again.

    “I see our friends down there on the corner,” said Annalise, waving. “Do you want to have a word with them? They’ll tell you who we are.”

    The lorry horn blared again. A head leant out of the cab. “That your car, chief?”

    Annalise pulled Graham towards the corner. “Ally!” she shouted, “wait for us,” and started to run.

    Graham didn’t look back. He heard the lorry driver remonstrating with the two men, raised voices, two car doors slam and the squeal of tyres. By the time the lorry roared into life Annalise and Graham were on the main road and heading away fast.

    They crossed over at the lights, took a left at the next junction, then a right, then another left. At each junction they stopped and glanced behind, looking for the car, the men, someone paying them too much attention.

    Graham felt paranoid. The whole world was chasing him. He couldn’t trust anyone except Annalise. Everyone else was suspect. The police, Kevin, Tamisha, Howard - all of them compromised.

    Annalise’s phone rang. She stopped and flicked it open, trying to listen and pant at the same time.

    Graham stood beside her, doubled over and thankful for the rest. He tried to listen to whoever it was on the other end of the line but couldn’t hear a word above the rush of passing traffic. 

    “Hello,” said Annalise, clapping a hand over her other ear.

    “Hello,” she repeated a few seconds later.

    Finally, she pressed the phone shut and looked at Graham. “No one there.”

    “Kevin?” asked Graham.

    She shook her head. “Don’t know. Whoever it was couldn’t or wouldn’t speak.”

    Graham glanced around. They were in Knightsbridge from what he could see. The streets were packed; rush hour would be starting soon. Shouldn’t they be looking for a place to hide out? 

    Annalise agreed. They’d get out of London, take the tube, the train - anything - find a cheap room and hide out for as long as they could.

    A plan that lasted less than a minute. 

    A car passed by and screeched to a halt twenty yards ahead. Two men jumped out. The same two men as before. Graham and Annalise turned and ran. There was a large department store on their right - two, three entrances - a sea of people pushing into and out of each exit.

    “In here!” shouted Annalise. Graham followed, slowed by the press of people. Annalise bounced ahead, he could see her hair shining like a beacon through the crowd. Away from the doors the crowds thinned. Graham caught up with her as she snaked past intricate displays of handbags and scarves, gloves and belts. Did she have a plan? Were they running blind?

    They found an escalator and ran along the outside, pushing past the line of stationary shoppers. Graham glanced back the way they’d come. The two men were forty yards behind and heading for the escalator.

    They flew into Ladies Fashions. Annalise hesitated for an instant before turning right then left. They ran down an avenue of manikins, past circles of dresses and skirts then turned right into a small section separated out from the rest of the floor. Tops and blouses adorned the walls on two sides and on the back wall - a line of changing rooms.

    Annalise slowed to a fast walk, picked up a dress from a rack and, grabbing Graham, pushed him into the changing room on the far right. She pulled the curtain closed behind them.

    An age passed. Maybe it was only a few seconds but it felt like hours to Graham. The anticipation, the fear, the certainty that any second the curtains would rip apart and two men would barge in.

    Annalise hung the dress on the hook at the back of the cubicle and opened the curtains a crack. Graham held his breath.

    “Can’t see anyone,” she whispered, letting the curtain fall back. “We’ll give it five minutes then head for the nearest exit. I…”

    She stopped and inclined her head to one side.

    “What is it?” whispered Graham.

    Shhh!” said Annalise, her eyes becoming unfocussed. She smiled, the smile gradually fading as her muscles relaxed.

    Graham watched. It had to be important. A message from one of the girls. Maybe something to give them hope?

    Strange, he thought to himself, he was being chased all over London, his life was in imminent danger and yet … and yet he wouldn’t have swapped that moment for any other in his life. It was like he’d lived for years in a dark, airless room and suddenly the shutters had been thrown open. He felt alive and happy and, strangely, safe. As long as Annalise was with him nothing else mattered.

    Annalise nodded once, twice and then frowned as her eyes re-focussed on the world around her.

    “That was Annalise Six,” she whispered. “Your DNA results are starting to come through. They’ve analysed data from a thousand worlds so far and,” she paused, “they’re all the same.”

    She looked confused. Graham couldn’t understand why. “So?” he whispered.

    “So, a thousand Graham Smiths all have identical DNA - even when they have different parents.”

    “Because I’m adopted. Isn’t that what you’d expect?”

    “Maybe so, but Gary seems to think there’s more to it. They’ve been cross-checking the DNA of your close relatives and they’re finding similarities.”

    “What kind of similarities?”

    “They think you’re related. Annalise Six wasn’t sure about the details - Gary went scientist guy on her. But it looks like your real parents might be someone in your family.”



He tried to think who. He sifted through memories of photo albums. Was there someone in his family he resembled?

    The phone rang. Graham jumped. Annalise tugged at her bag, found the phone and juggled it open.


    Annalise didn’t move. The phone stayed clasped against one ear. Then her eyes widened, she switched off the phone and threw it into her bag. “It’s the phone!” she hissed. “They’re using it to track us.”

    She pushed past him, pulled the curtain back an inch and looked out. “All clear,” she whispered and slipped out. Graham followed. One, two steps and then Annalise turned and bundled him back into the cubicle.

    “They’re outside,” she whispered. “I don’t think they saw us, they were looking the other way.”

    Graham could hear the implied ‘but’ on the end of the sentence. The two men knew they were close. They’d see the changing rooms and make the connection.

    Annalise pulled the curtain back a fraction of an inch and peered out. Graham held his breath. She pushed the curtain forward and looked along the line of changing rooms. Suddenly she started gesticulating, beckoning someone to come over.

    Graham slipped over to the near side and pressed himself out of sight against the cubicle wall. He felt the wall give slightly.

    “May I help you?” asked a female voice - young, accentless, perhaps a hint of an expensive boarding school.

    “I’m sorry,” said Annalise. She sounded upset, close to tears. “Can you call the police. It’s those two men over there. They,” she took a deep breath, “they were in Selfridges earlier. They pretend to be police officers, they have these fake ids and…” She hesitated. “They hang around the changing rooms. You know, spying on the girls.”

    The girl gave a knowing look and glanced over her shoulder.

    “They,” Annalise looked down embarrassed. “They told this girl she had to be strip searched and, you know, they…“ She paused, her voice faltering. “The guy on the right had a camera.”

    “Leave it to me,” said the girl.

    Annalise turned and winked at Graham before resuming her vigil by the curtains. The assistant walked over to an older woman - probably her boss. They talked for a while, a conversation punctuated by dagger-laden glances before the older woman walked over to her station and picked up the phone.

    The two men hovered in front of the left-most changing cubicle. They shuffled from foot to foot, checked their watches. Women came and went, cubicles emptied and filled. The men stayed. Eventually one of them moved forward and tugged at a curtain that hadn’t moved for some time. A woman screamed.

    “Over there!” shouted the younger assistant as four uniformed security men marched onto the floor.

    Graham and Annalise slipped out in the confusion. All eyes were turned towards the commotion in the other corner where two men protested their innocence and held out warrant cards which no one believed. A woman shouted abuse at them. Four men blocked their escape.

    Graham didn’t look back after that. They retraced their steps, found a down escalator and headed for an exit on the far side of the store. In the crush by the door, Annalise dropped her phone into a woman’s shopping bag.



    Graham stopped outside the store and looked around to take his bearings. The nearest tube had to be…

    Something hard pressed into his back.

    “Don’t turn around, don’t say a word.” A man’s voice – harsh and menacing. “We’re going for a walk. Do as I say or I’ll kill you here.” 

    Graham froze. Annalise walked on a few steps then turned. “What’s the matter?” she said and then stared over Graham’s left shoulder. A look of surprise. “Who?” she started to say, and then stopped.

    Graham mouthed one word, ‘run,’ but she didn’t move. The gun dug into his back. “Come on, move!” 

    Graham implored Annalise to run. Couldn’t she read his lips? Instead, she rocked on the balls of her feet. She’s going to do something stupid. Graham shook his head. No! Run! Save yourself. The man pushed again, hissing the word, “move!” into Graham’s ear, so close he could feel the warm spittle on his neck. The gun dug further into the small of his back, grinding against his spine. The man shoved with his shoulders. Graham held fast, digging in with his feet, leaning back. He wasn’t going anywhere until Annalise was safe. ‘Run!’ he mouthed again. She didn’t. She just stood there, rocking, her eyes flashing from side to side, lips parted, hands poised. She was going to do something stupid. He could tell.

    Another shove from behind - harder this time - another hissed, “move!” Graham lurched forward. Annalise stayed where she was. ‘Run,’ Graham mouthed for the last time. Why wouldn’t she run? Why wouldn’t she save herself?

    He glanced frantically about him. Thoughts coming thick and fast. So many people, shoppers coming into and out of the store. Witnesses everywhere, store surveillance cameras - you’d have to be crazy to shoot someone in such a public place.

    Or desperate.

    Graham relaxed - totally - slumping to the pavement like a dead weight. He’d feign a heart attack, he’d feign death, he’d do whatever it took to make it difficult. He wasn’t going to walk meekly to his death in some deserted side street.

    People surged forward, faces peered down at him. Is he all right? What’s the matter? Do you want a doctor? Anyone know him? Graham stared blankly up at them, a wall of faces, was one of them his kidnapper? Or had he fled?

    And where was Annalise?

    “It’s okay,” said a male voice Graham recognised. “I’m his doctor. My car’s round the corner.”

    His kidnapper hadn’t given up.

    Should he call out? Tell people he was being kidnapped? Or would the doctor turn into a psychiatrist? Was there an accomplice ready with a hypodermic? He needs to be sedated, sad case, completely delusional. Everyone would nod their heads and stand back.

    Strong hands dug under his shoulders, he was being pulled up from behind. He had to speak out, he had to say something. But what? His life might depend on finding the right words.

    His kidnapper’s face pressed close to his. “We’ve got your girlfriend,” he whispered. “One word out of you and she’s dead.”

    Graham stopped struggling and let the man haul him to his feet.

    “He’ll be fine now,” said the man. “This has happened before.” 

    The crowd pulled back, show over, nothing more to see. Graham was led away, an arm around his back, a threat over his head.

    After fifty yards, the arm was removed - his kidnapper looking left and right before dropping slightly behind Graham. A familiar feeling in the small of his back told Graham the gun had returned.

    They turned a corner. Graham wondered where he was being taken - a building, an alley, a car?

    And where was Annalise? Where had they taken her? There were so many people on the pavement it was difficult to see more than fifteen yards ahead.

    The man steered Graham towards the roadside edge. Parked cars formed a line to his left, shoppers filed by on his right. Was he being taken to one of the cars?

    A large black car was parked three spaces ahead. It became a magnet to Graham’s eyes. Was it that black car? The one they’d used before? The one that Annalise Twelve had seen him bundled into the back of?

    They walked closer. Black tinted windows hid whoever was inside. Suddenly, the rear door clicked and swung open across the pavement. A hand, briefly visible, withdrew back inside. They were five yards away. Five yards from the gaping maw of the black car and… 

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