They sat still for a moment in Lipson’s office. There was nothing but the hum of the computers and a few dim lights. Bryant wondered whether Turkle had found them and then wondered how.
Lipson was the first to get to his feet. He came out from his desk and said, in a quiet tone, “Silas?”
The quiet remained.
“He’s my guard monkey,” Lipson said. “He spots anything out of the ordinary and he howls fiercely.”
Bryant got up and looked at Margo. “Stay here.”
Lipson crept out of the office and Bryant tried to followed, but Margo grabbed his arm. When Bryant turned, she whispered, “He’s dead.”
“Who?” Bryant asked.
“Silas,” Margo said. “Don’t go out there.”
Bryant saw the fear in her eyes and immediately reached for the phone on Lipson’s desk. As he was about to dial 911, a voice said, “Put the phone down.”
Standing in the hallway was a short man with a three-day-old beard and a shotgun tucked into his armpit as he shoved Lipson back into his office. Bryant grabbed his friend before he hit the floor.
The man with the shotgun had the wild eyes of someone on drugs, yet when he spoke, his voice was steady and clear. “I want you all on your knees,” the man said.
Instinctively, Bryant looked to Margo as if she could decipher the stranger’s resolve if she just focused enough.
“He’s here for me,” Margo said, in a glum demeanor.
“Now!” the man shouted.
“What have you done to Silas?” Lipson asked, but with the streak of blood that trailed up the side of his jeans, it was clear the man had used a knife on the monkey.
Bryant hesitated. If he was going to die, maybe he should take the guy with him somehow.
The man took a step closer and aimed the gun at Margo’s head. “Get down and I’ll make this quick.”
Bryant was about to swipe at the man’s arm when Margo said, “This will really disappoint her, you know.”
The man seemed to take her in for the first time. “Who?”
“Your mom,” she said. “You haven’t thought about what she will think of you once you’re known as a murderer. How badly do you think this would hurt her?”
There was a strange look on the man’s face. “What do you know about my mother?”
“I know her name is Angela,” Margo said. “I know she’s a devout Christian and raised you to obey the Ten Commandments. A murder charge against you would devastate her.”
“How do you know her name?” he asked, keeping his gun trained on her, but not seeming to remember it was there.
“I know how you felt that day when you stole the dollar bill out of her purse to buy an ice cream from the ice cream truck.”
The man’s eye’s opened wide. His mouth fell slack.
“You were ten years old,” Margo continued, “and you were so ashamed about stealing the money, you only ate half the ice cream and threw away the rest.”
The man seemed to wobble on his feet, his knees giving way. “You . . . who are you?”
Bryant took his chance and sprang at the man. He quickly pulled at the shotgun and began a tug of war. The man was strong and motivated. Bryant pushed the muzzle away from Margo, while Lipson joined the fray. He grabbed the man’s arm. The man couldn’t keep his eyes from Margo. Even as he was losing his grip on the gun, he kept watching her as if she would leave before he could find out more about her. Finally, Bryant took hold of the weapon and cracked the butt of the shotgun at the man’s face. The guy’s nose instantly exploded into a ball of blood. Lipson ran out the door to search for his animal friend, while Margo pulled some facial tissues from her pocket and patted the man’s nose as the blood flowed from his nostrils.
“You didn’t need to do that,” Margo scolded him, as the man dropped to the floor, wincing in pain and clutching his broken nose.
Bryant panted the excess adrenalin from his system. He reached for his phone, then remembered why he couldn’t turn it on. As he placed his hand around the phone on Lipson’s desk, he stopped himself from picking it up. This had to be Turkle’s doing. There was no other logical explanation.
“How do you know my mother?” the man pleaded through glossy eyes.
Margo said nothing as she tended to his wounds. She looked up at Bryant as if searching for their next move.
“We need to leave,” Bryant told her.
Margo seemed to understand.
A long, painful moan came streaming from the laboratory. Bryant tried to focus. Turkle seemed to find them no matter their strategy. He glanced around and picked up a strand of lead wires from one of the EEG units and began wrapping it around one of the man’s wrists.
“What are you doing?” Margo asked.
Part of Bryant was glad she was still avoiding his psyche or she would’ve known his plan. He pulled the man’s other wrist behind his torso and bound the two wrists together, then wrapped them tightly around the leg of Lipson’s desk so the guy didn’t have room to play with the knots. The man was babbling nonsense to Margo as she tried to console him.
“It’s okay,” Margo said while stuffing some rolled tissues up his nose to prevent any more bleeding. “Your mother is safe up in Heaven. She is very proud of you.”
Bryant lifted the receiver on Lipson’s desk and dialed 911. When the dispatcher answered, he told her there was a break-in at Dr. Lipson’s Sleep clinic. He gave the women the address and as she went through her routine of questions, he sat the receiver down on the desk and grabbed Margo by the hand. “Come on,” he said as he pulled her out into the hallway. When he looked to his left, he could see Lipson’s legs on the floor, sobbing over the loss of one of his close friends. It was quite obvious Silas was more than just a laboratory pet and Bryant couldn’t possibly offer anything to soothe the pain.
When he pulled Margo the opposite direction, she pulled back.
“Where are you going?” she asked.
Bryant’s body was raging with an assortment of hormones which could’ve had him running through a wall if he needed to. He bent down and stuck his face a few inches in front of Margo’s. “It is very important that you trust me now. I need to make some decisions on your behalf. I need to keep you safe.”
Bryant turned and tugged her toward the front door.
“But, Dr. Bryant,” Margo said, resisting his grip. “The car is parked out back.”
Bryant pulled open the front door and yanked Margo out into the warm night air. “We’re not taking the car,” Bryant said. “Turkle probably has a GPS tag on that one as well.”
It could’ve been paranoia working through his veins, but Bryant couldn’t rule anything out now. As he held Margo’s hand and tugged her down a side street, his mind raced while he considered his next move.
A stray dog pranced up next to them and fell into step with their rhythm as they race-walked down the sidewalk. Bryant had given up asking about the animals which Margo seemed to attract. He just took it as sign of animal instincts acutely aware of her ability to communicate on a higher level.
In the distance a siren cut through the stillness. Bryant needed to find someone he could trust and fast. He pulled out his cell phone and immediately turned it on. The second it seemed to get a signal, he pushed a name on his contact list. On the second ring Father Joe said, “Michael where in the world—”
“Please stop,” Michael snapped. “I only have a few seconds. You need you to do exactly as I tell you.”
“Of course,” Father Joe said. “Anything.”