Lee has been in for a nasty shock with the fake ‘Claire’ revealing herself as Samantha and admitting to having taken over Claire’s identity ever since the real Claire killed herself. But Sam has just learnt something equally shocking about Lee – that he is supposed to be Claire’s monitor!
I flipped through snapshots of Lee from his military days and lifted his old dog tags from his box as I prepared to interrogate him further.
‘My problems didn’t start in the military,’ he told me as he poured glasses of scotch for us both. ‘But rather they began when I left service to become a private contractor.’
And I was really supposed to believe this incredible life story? Because at first, I didn’t.
‘I’m not doing any of this by choice,’ he convinced me.
‘So, you were forced to be Claire’s monitor for two years without even knowing why?’ I asked, summing it all up. Lee threw a dirty look at me.
‘What are you? An investigator all of a sudden? Because that’s rich coming from a hustler. You chose to infiltrate Claire’s life when you posed as her,’ he said disdainfully.
Now it was my turn to throw him a dirty look. ‘How long did it take for you to figure that out?’ I very much understood the seriousness of the situation, even if Lee thought otherwise.
‘We need to try and be honest with each other here,’ he suggested. I reluctantly agreed, feeling quite wary. ‘We’ll decide what happens with the medical tests you had performed on me whilst I was asleep,’ I said in a rebuking manner.
‘Fine,’ he snapped. ‘Since I don’t know what happens to the results seeing that they go straight to Doctor Olivier, I’ll make sure to ask him about it.’
I didn’t bother responding. I just grabbed a new clean set of clothes and stormed into the bathroom to take a shower. Lee stayed where he was, but glared after me. He probably thought I had no right to use any of the rooms in his house anymore.
I came out of the bathroom in my bra and mini shorts. ‘Will Doctor Olivier be able to tell I’m not Claire from the tests?’ I asked as I was still putting on my crop top. This was extremely vital information that I needed to know.
‘I already explained that I don’t know what the tests are for,’ Lee said again, sounding tired and irritable. ‘Unless you want to continue giving me a headache by nagging me with all these unanswerable queries.’
I gave up. If he wanted to be an arsehole, then that was fine with me. I knew to simply avoid him from now on.I headed directly to the bedroom. When Lee’s moodiness faded, he decided to check up on me. ‘You may not know it but I am worried about you,’ he called. I didn’t answer – the reason being that I had gone out of the bedroom window to escape him.
I got straight on the phone to Melissa. ‘You were right,’ I told her. ‘Lee doesn’t know a single thing about the clones.’
Melissa was in the university library scanning through course textbooks. ‘I knew it just had to be a double-blind,’ she whispered discreetly. The monitors are completely unaware of the purpose of the experiment. ‘My guess is so that they can’t tamper with the results.’
Just then, Mel passed a tall woman with golden hair that was in French curls. They exchanged friendly waves. ‘To be honest, I may have a monitor dilemma of my own,’ she quietly confessed.
‘Just stay clear of her,’ I strictly advised her. ‘It’s best not to trust anybody because of not knowing their true intentions.’
Melissa rolled her eyes in annoyance, but agreed anyway. ‘While you sound rather paranoid, I reckon you might have a good point.’
I filled Mel in on Lee’s past and background. ‘Apparently, Lee is an ex-military and assassin. He’s a very serious cunt who means business.’
I wasn’t over exaggerating when I said this. But unbeknownst to me, my car had been tagged with… a tracker!
Back at his condo, Lee had set up the tracking program on his laptop that marked my direction. As he brewed his tea and buttered his toast, he continued to watch my every move via his computer screen – even recording my conversation with Melissa. The sneaky bastard! He was now dressed in dark navy clothes to prove that he definitely meant business.
He went to the bathroom and snapped on a pair of black gloves before opening up the medicine cabinet and removing some of Claire’s prescription pills. Then he went back to the kitchen and grounded a magnum of emptied capsules in a mortar and pestle that Claire usually kept for homemade herbal remedies. As he did this, he left a message on my voice mail. ‘Listen, Samantha, I know why you took off this morning. But we need to know that the ground beneath us is solid.’ He lifted the door to an upper cabinet and took out a bottle of whiskey. ‘So please,’ he added as he poured the ground up drugs through a funnel into the whiskey and swirled it around. ‘Let’s talk about this tonight.’ He disconnected and replaced the whiskey in the cabinet. Then he prepared a syringe simulator that would draw up ‘Claire’s blood.’
‘You told me yesterday she was doing a lot better,’ Napoleon Olivier barked at Lee during their second man-to-man conference.
‘I never said that at all,’ Lee stated correctly. What I said as that she was trying to get herself back on track. Claire is still right in her dark place. I barely stopped her from overdosing the night before. He had the spiked whiskey at the ready, carefully stashed where he had found it, and he had yet to prep Napoleon for the report of Claire’s death. He was not ready for this at all. ‘She’s quit the force, and dumped her therapist. She has no one else.’
Napoleon scowled at Lee. ‘Claire has you to share in this crisis like any other event. I’ve already told you once before. Don’t interfere with Claire unless it’s critical.’
Feeling suspicious, Lee sent him a side-long look. ‘I need to know I won’t get blamed if Claire does harm to herself and I can’t stop her.’
Felix and I pulled up in the Jag next to Lee’s Range Rover. We were at the underground nightclub where Napoleon had ordered Lee to meet him. ‘What a bloody mess,’ I groaned, laying my hand on my forehead. ‘Even if he’s not ratting me out in there, those medical tests could still tell him I’m not Claire.’
‘Melissa said the medical tests would match,’ Felix reminded me. After all, you and Claire are clones. Therefore, your DNA is identical.’
‘What the fuck do you mean identical?!’ Anthony Bell barked at the coroner. She seemed slightly fazed by Ant’s aggressive reaction.
‘Jane Doe from the gravel crusher and the rampage shooter in the bathroom have identical DNA,’ she confirmed.
‘I pretty much blame the lab scientists more than anybody else,’ Isla claimed stiffly. They must have tampered with the samples, causing them to become contaminated.’ She looked at Ant as though looking for a second opinion.
‘That is bound to have not happened,’ the coroner insisted. ‘It is not as if they don’t know what they’re doing.’
‘Do you reckon you could offer us a clearer more straightforward explanation?’ Lieutenant Marshall asked.
‘Fair enough. Maybe the rampage killer planted Jane Doe’s blood in the bathroom. After all, such a scenario is more likely than the killer walking in the lab and contaminating the samples.’
Isla frowned, not buying any of it. ‘Or perhaps it was someone with access to the lab who doctored the results.’
Lieutenant Marshall was starting to get agitated. ‘Right! Comb straight through the whole shit pile again starting from the beginning,’ he ordered.
When Ant left the coroner’s room with Isla, he seemed twice as stressed out about the Portia Obinger murder case. ‘And to think that there are two more Jane Does whose disappearances have yet to be solved,’ he grunted.
‘Look, we should just start from square one with open minds,’ Isla decided. ‘Just as Lieutenant Marshall already suggested.’‘I still have questions about Claire’s run in with the killer. Speaking of Claire, I know for a fact that she would never tamper with evidence.’
In the office of his nightclub, Napoleon was seated opposite Lee as he calmly made some random but vital notes. Lee was being made to answer questions about Claire.
‘It all started eight months ago at the time of Claire’s shooting.’ Lee paused halfway to take a deep breath before continuing. ‘She didn’t seem to be herself at the time. On top of that, she’d begun to abuse prescription drugs.’
Napoleon stopped taking notes and placed the notepad and pen to one side. ‘How can I be sure if you’re telling the whole truth about what has been going on with Claire?’ he asked, raising one eyebrow. ‘Also, what did you mean when you stated that Claire didn’t seem to be herself at the time?’
Lee couldn’t understand why he was having these questions thrown at him while being interrogated and thought that he shouldn’t have to explain himself. He was starting to feel exasperated, but tried hard not to show it. ‘What I mean was that Claire’s drug abuse was brought on by her police work stress. It was her abuse that led directly to the civilian shooting. Her decline only got worse from there.’ What he didn’t know was that the reason Claire shot and killed Bonnie Chen was because Bonnie was working with another Prolethean agent called Tomas in hunting down the clones.
People started to enter the club, most of who were Cyber-Goths. ‘For fuck’s sake,’ I snapped. ‘I’m through with waiting. I need to know what Lee’s up to.’
Felix stopped me for one second. ‘First of all, you can’t go in by yourself. Second of all, you can’t enter this club without any slap on your face. We need to get you all made up.’
Felix was really starting to get on my nerves. Now was not the time to get myself glammed up when I had an important mission to take care of! I had a lot of investigation to do.
‘It will be just a quick makeover,’ he cajoled. ‘I promise.’
After making ourselves look slightly more presentable – Felix was practically all made up while all I had on was my heavy Maybelline lip gloss and nightclub hairstyle – we entered the club and came across a short man who was the club’s gatekeeper and a large man who was one of the bouncers. ‘Revelation is a private club,’ the gatekeeper told us.
‘I know,’ Felix quipped. ‘But we made sure to bring our IDs with us.’
The bouncer and the gatekeeper both grinned at us. ‘In that case,’ the bouncer said as he opened the club door for us. We wasted no time. I left Felix to chat up some fellow night clubbers and made my way downstairs to Napoleon’s office. I heard him continue to ask Lee questions about Claire’s mental state and his relationship with her.
‘When was the last time you were sexually intimate?’
‘Three days ago,’ Lee finally answered after a long pause. I could tell none of that was true. There was no intimacy at all between them.
‘And would you describe the intercourse as passionate?’ there was curiosity in Napoleon’s voice.
‘Kind of,’ Lee answered with a hint of insult. ‘Look, it’s hard for me to help if I don’t know what’s going on.’
‘But you are already aware of all the details, Leonardo,’ Napoleon explained. ‘All the psychological tests, physical exams and social metrics are not for Claire alone.
‘The problem with clandestine ops is that information and security rarely go hand-in- hand. This is why I’ve been told rather late that someone is killing our subjects and disposing of their bodies.’ My heart immediately dropped as I realised Napoleon was referring to the European Jane Does that were all disappearing one by one. The fact that the killer’s victims had been potentially abducted before being murdered was something I didn’t get the chance to upload Lee on. If that wasn’t fucked up, then I had no idea what was!
A wounded and weakened Helena was being ministered to Tomas at an abandoned industrial warehouse. ‘Why didn’t you kill the imposter when you had the chance?’ Tomas asked as he rinsed a cloth out in a large saucer-shape bowl of water.
Helena struggled to sit up, still wincing at the shooting pain of her seeping side wounds. ‘Samantha is different from the others,’ she said quietly. ‘She and I have a connection.’
‘Unlike all the missing women you killed and dumped in all those hidden burial plots, you mean?’ Tomas scoffed as he continued to treat and dress her wounds. ‘Is that your excuse for sparing Samantha? Well believe me, your connection with her is nothing. Absolutely nothing. Simply just one of your fingernail clippings like the rest of them.’
Helena growled in response at this jibe. ‘Samantha said I am not the original,’ she related bitterly. ‘She told me that we are all the same.’
‘Well she’s wrong!’ Tomas cupped her face in his palms and eyed her fiercely. ‘Don’t believe such an outrageous thing, understood?’
Helena nodded obediently, her innocent childlike eyes pleading for forgiveness.
Tomas stroked her dirty blonde hair with the tips of his fingers. ‘You’re getting stronger,’ he reassured her. But the task is now more difficult, since the real Claire Richards killed our friend Bonnie Chen.’
‘The copies are harder to find,’ Helena acknowledged.
‘I know. But we will get there.’ Tomas began to wash Helena’s hair, and the dirt travelled from her split ends down the basin. And I need you to be strong in finding the imposter.’ He handed her a razor blade. ‘Remember, the path to the shepherd is through the sheep,’ he instructed. ‘Promise me that you will bleed her for what she knows and then kill her.’ He then turned and exited the gulag, leaving Helena to carry out her mission.
Napoleon showed Lee the missing persons profiles of each of the murdered clones. Then he pulled up Claire’s profile. ‘Am I correct in stating that Claire was in the middle of tracking down her identicals when these women all died by the hands of the same killer?’ he disputed.
Lee was dumbfounded. ‘Claire never told me any of this.’
Suddenly, a party going guest interrupted. ‘There’s someone outside asking to see you, Mr Dierden.’
‘Who?’ Lee asked impatiently.
‘They wouldn’t say,’ the young male confirmed. ‘They just asked me to tell you to meet them outside.’
Lee left Napoleon’s headquarters and spotted Felix. He instantly ignored him and walked past with a slightly cool demeanour. But then Felix tried to approach him discreetly. ‘Why the fuck are you following me?’ Lee demanded irritably.
‘I only wanted to ask what your name was,’ Felix shrugged. ‘It’s just that you look familiar. Don’t worry; I’m not a stalker or anything.’
I hurried up to get between them. ‘Calm down, Lee. He’s with me, okay? He’s my foster brother.’
Lee just stared at us, not knowing what to believe anymore. ‘You mean you have a foster brother?’ he asked, looking at Felix disparagingly. Then he eyed me up and down. ‘What the hell is up with your appearance?’
While I wasn’t surprised he noticed my clubbing gear, wacky hairdo and punk rock jewellery, I was shocked and rather offended by his unexpected remark. ‘Forget about my appearance,’ I offered hurriedly. ‘You should be asking me what I’m doing here.’ Seeing that he didn’t expect to see me at Revelation’s nightspot.
Lee took me to one side. ‘Meet me back at the condo,’ he told me in private. ‘Don’t bring your so-called foster brother.’