What Lies Ahead
Chapter 19

When we got back to the house, I pulled Vicki into her room while Mom and Jonathan stopped to talk to Vicki’s mom downstairs.

“How’d it go?” She asked.

“Not well. We lost.”

“Already? I thought this was just to set a court date or something.”

“It was, but they always ask the judge to just decide the thing then and there. The judge usually says “no” and then everything moves forward. It’s apparently standard legal stuff. But this time the judge said “ok”, and found in favor of the State, and against Mom. Everyone, including the prosecutor, was shocked.”

“So what does this mean?”

“I don’t know. Maybe that none of us can come back.”

“What are we going to do.”

“Tell me about the delivery method you and Zoe cooked up,” I said in an apparent non-sequitur.

“What? I thought you were dead set against that?”

“I was. Still am, actually. But something isn’t right here. What happened today is incredibly rare. When you add that to the cops that got paid off, or whatever, to grab me; I smell a rat. Changing someone without their permission - or worse, without knowing if they are a genetic negative - is wrong and dangerous. But, we don’t have any choice. If whoever was behind the cops grabbing me is also behind what happened today in court...”

I left the implications unsaid, mostly because I wasn’t sure what they were. It was pretty obvious someone had it in for me; but what their actual goals were, and what they were willing to do to reach those goals, I wasn’t sure. All I knew so far was that the law was clearly not something that would stop them.

“Well, it’s not that complicated, not really. Basically you just scratch or poke the person and it automatically administers the blood. It’s a small amount, but from Alex’s tests, it seems a drop is enough for your blood to start replicating in their system.”

“Wouldn’t they feel it?”

“Yeah, but how often do you get bitten by an insect or scratch yourself against something? Everyone we’ve done it to has written it off instantly as just that, and went about their business.”

“And it still takes a day like it did with everyone I knew about?” I asked, making sure to stress the fact they were doing these tests behind my back.

“Umm,” she replied, looking away, “well, a little longer. I think it’s more like two or three days, depending on the size of the person. With Alex, Ms. Bell and Melissa we used full on injections so the volume of blood was significantly greater. I mean, one drop versus half a syringe is pretty significant. It takes a lot longer for one or two drops of blood, which is all these reservoirs can hold, to reach critical mass.”

“Ok. I think we are going to need some help on this. Maybe we can ask Melissa to come down for a visit and help. The Judge might recognize my face and we can’t get to Zoe or Emily or Tina, so it will be up to you and Melissa to dose him.”

“To dose who?” Mom’s voice called from behind me.

I turned and found her and Jonathan walking into Vicki’s room

“The judge.”

“Caspian, I’m not sure...”

“Did you see what happened in that court room?” I said, raising my voice, which was unusual enough that she stopped dead in her tracks. “Jonathan, was what happened today at all normal?”

“No, not even a little bit. Everyone was shocked, and the prosecutor practically sprinted out of the court room to avoid me.”

“Do you think there is a chance the judge was bought off, or at least controlled, by whatever group grabbed me the other day?”

“I hate to think that about any judge; but considering they had police officers involved, too, I think there is a strong chance.”

“See?” I said looking back to Mom. “There is zero chance we will get a fair hearing. This has been a witch hunt that has something to do with either me, or the company. I don’t know which, yet. I was against changing people without their knowledge from day one - and I still am, I guess - but I don’t see any other options for us. If we want to keep our family together, this is what we have to do.”

“You don’t think...” she started to say to Jonathan, who cut her off.

“No, the boy’s right! It’s the only way. I have a duty to uphold the rules of the court, but since this entire situation has followed no rules whatsoever, I have no problem with this.”

“So what do we do?” Vicki asked.

“Jonathan, do you think you can get a schedule of when the Judge will be either in court, or at least in his offices without being too obvious?”

“Shouldn’t be a problem.”

“Then Vicki, call Melissa and have her meet you down here. Jonathan will get you a schedule of where the judge will be. You guys then rotate watching for him and find a way to ‘bump’ into him either outside his office or out in the parking lot.”

“And then?” Jonathan asked.

“We give him a few days. When he gets back from an unexpected sick day, you do your lawyer thing.”

“What ‘lawyer’ thing did you have in mind.”

“I don’t know, but I’m sure there is some kind of motion you can submit to change what happened, today.”

“There are a few things left we could do. I was going to start those when I got back to the office, but I hadn’t had any hope of them working ... considering. If you pull this off, then they might be enough for him to set aside that ruling and we can go back to court.”

“And with him on our side, the kids can come home?” Mom asked.

“Yes, but...” Jonathan said, leaving the last word hanging.

“But?”

“But what do we do next?” I answered. “This was just one move by these people. If we counter it, they are going to do something else. What we need is information. Hell, we don’t even know who they are, why they are after us, or what they want; let alone what we can do to stop them.”

“I’m not sure how far I can go looking into the Judge without being noticed,” Jonathan said.

“Once we take him, I can sit down and just ask him. That isn’t an issue. Before that point, while the girls do their thing, I have some other avenues.”

“What avenues?” Vicki asked.

“I sorta held onto some of your dad’s files. We had already had some questionable brushes with the police. I was just doing it temporarily, in case we needed it to find you guys. Once we did, the other files had already vanished, so I kept holding on to it. I am fairly certain now that these people, and the people that killed your father, are one and the same. I mean, what would be the chances of two different criminal organizations buying significant chunks of the police department? I’m gonna dig through those files and try and find out what the hell is going on.”

“And once you find out who’s behind this, what then?” Mom asked.

“We change those people, too,” Vicki said. “Once they are on our side, we’ll be safe.”

“No,” I said angrily. “I’m still not okay with just going around infecting people because it’s the easiest way. I would still be against doing it to this judge, if I thought there was any other way around it. No, what we’re going to do is figure out why these people are out to get us, and what they want, then go from there. I want these guys in jail, not working for us.”

“But, Cas,” Mom said, protesting.

“No. I see the merit in what you’re saying, but infecting them is a last resort.”

“Okay. But don’t think this will be the last time we talk about this,” she replied. “I’m not going to let anything separate our family.”

“I know, and I promise I won’t let it come to that. If we can’t figure out another alternative, we can think about it.”

Mom and Vicki went off to do something while Jonathan and I sat down with the ledger, trying to figure out what exactly was going on. Making sense of it however was easier said than done. The ledger was a list of payments, some with names, some with business names and some with just numbers. Reading it was like listening to one side of a conversation. We were missing context for almost everything.

Knowing that the judge was crooked, we found his name, and several payments of twenty-five thousand dollars over the course of a couple of years up until the end of last year, when the ledger stopped. Jonathan had the idea to pull up a list of cases the judge was hearing around those payment days, and we noticed a pattern.

A few days after each payment the judge was set to listen to cases involving land disputes of a company called Land & Trust Management, which meant nothing to me. Jonathan made a note to look up the company and find out what they do.

Jonathan also pointed out something else he found weird. Apparently judges work specific areas. A judge hearing family cases would not be hearing contract disputes. At some point this judge had been moved from one division of the justice system to another. He made another note for something to look into.

I saw another name that jumped out at me, George Taylor. He was one of the two cops who hauled me to the warehouse and was currently under an IA investigation. The dates of the payments to him meant nothing to me, but Jonathan said he would take it to Jawarski and see if she could figure it out. I made a few more notes and then headed out.

The next day I found myself sitting outside a fancy restaurant in a car with Jawarski in an awkward silence. Jonathan had come through with information about the judge. Apparently he had a lunch meeting with several fundraisers. Jonathan couldn’t tell what he was running for, but he had been calling around to people who regularly paid into political campaigns. Either way, it was somewhere we knew he would be and outside the courthouse, so we knew we could get to him.

Megan had shown up early this morning. Considering the drive from her school, she must have left as soon as Mom got off the phone with her. I was a little miffed that she would skip classes, but she insisted that once she heard what was happening, she wasn’t ok with just standing around.

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Story tagged with:
Coming of Age /