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The Voices Within

Introspection

By Dennis HumphreysPublished 4 months ago 89 min read
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by: D. R. Humphreys (the DreamWriter)

“It looks like our town is in the news,” Frank Garcia told his wife, as she put dinner on the table for him and Luis, their eight-year-old son.

“What do you mean? Sit down now! Lui, we're going to eat. I'll have your plate in just a minute,” she warned her only son. Her husband and she wanted more children but after three more years of trying to become pregnant, they gave up the idea. Luis had been a difficult pregnancy.

The doctor told the couple the prognosis for them having any more children, was not good. Their desire for a larger family would have to be through adoption. This wasn't desirable and ultimately they became happy with what they had. Luis was hard to control at times. He was autistic and over-active, a bad combination. Luisa Garcia committed herself to home-schooling the boy because a special school was too expensive, even with the program the public school system offered. He was way too disruptive on top of it all. Luis needed one-on-one attention, prohibitive for the young couple to pay, even with the help of the state. The state would not pay for it all. The only possible option was home schooling.

Luisa had been a teacher for a few years after getting her teaching degree from Towson State University. She continued teaching until the birth of their son, and planned on returning to teaching after Luis was a year old. Then they realized there was a problem, and her plans changed. Luisa was fine having to alter her plans. She loved her son dearly and her dedication to her family helped her easily make the decision to teach her son at home.

“So why are we in the news?” Luisa asked her husband, as she brought her son's plate of food to the table.

“It seems our town is going to be the test case to implement a new product for the construction industry. They plan on replacing a whole section of sidewalk through the town... about a half a mile with some futuristic concrete that was developed. They want to see how it holds up over a year before actually making it commercially more widespread,” Fred explained to his wife, as Luis packed his mouth with food as, he always did.

“Lui! Stop eating like a pig! You'll get sick... slow down,” she reprimanded her son. “What makes this concrete so unique?”

“It was developed in some lab by scientists. It's self-repairing. If it cracks over the winter, or a chunk breaks off, it repairs itself,” Frank reported to his wife.

“That's amazing. So you won't have to send some crew out to repair it and use taxes for the labor in the process?” Luisa surmised. “How in the world does it do that?”

“It's made up of concrete, some kind of gel medium, and a specific type of bacteria that replicates the concrete to make the repairs,” Frank told her.

“But how? How does it do that?” she asked as Luis flipped a few peas from his fork, across the room. "Stop it, Lui, or you won't be able to eat with us.”

“I don't know. It was just a local news article that came across my computer feed on the Internet, in the office. I think it's amazing. Can you imagine the construction industry, when they build a house, or a building... no more maintenance, with the foundations or walls, made of this concrete... it repairs itself!,” the husband exclaimed. “I can't even imagine the money it will save.”

“Lui, that's enough. You can go to your room. I'll warm your dinner up later. You're too interested in playing, instead of eating,” Luisa scolded her son. Both of them watched their son, as he left the kitchen, and went to his room, which was probably what he really wanted anyway.

“But is it safe?” she asked her husband, after they were alone.

“Is what safe?” Frank asked his wife as he ate, thinking the conversation had already ended a few minutes before, so he had already abandoned any more thought on the subject.

“The concrete... with the bacteria in it. Have they tested the bacteria in it?” she asked her husband, as she finally took her first spoonful of food, she prepared.

“I don't know. I guess they have. I'm sure they have,” Frank Garcia answered his wife.

“I mean, it is a bacteria. There are harmful bacteria. Will it stay put in the concrete? It sounds like it isn't a natural thing. Like it is one of those genetically created things from some futuristic lab,” she commented.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” Frank responded.

“I hate to think we're all really going to be just used as guinea pigs. When is this supposed to happen?” Luisa asked.

“They plan on starting in two weeks,” her husband enlightened her.

“Two weeks?” That sounds like we're getting the bum's rush before anyone can look into it and ask any questions. The township meeting won't be for another three weeks... convenient timing,” she commented.

“Aww, you're reading too much into it,” Frank chided his wife, as she finished serving him.

Only a few people said anything about the test at the stores where she shopped. Either most people in town never saw the article, or they weren't as concerned as Luisa. She brought it up the next day in line at the grocery, while she tried to control her son. The people there were used to Luis' antics. A few older women would facially exhibit their displeasure, as if Luis had any real control over his condition. Luisa was limited as to what she could do without raising complaints about her ability as a mother. She was damned if she did, and damned if she didn't, with such people.

The next day, she drove down the road and noticed construction signs posted along the sidewalk, warning of the work to be done. She parked briefly and got out of the car to read what they said. They only revealed that there was work to be done over the next three weeks and the sidewalks would be replaced with a new concrete formulation. It would be monitored and tested. The signs said nothing further about the specifics of the so-called 'test'..

Luisa was a little perturbed that information seemed to be less than forthcoming.

The following Monday, work began as publicized. A half a mile of existing sidewalk had to be removed. There were many cracks and upheavals, from some of the winters the town had over the past ten years. That was the last time the walkway had seen any work done. It needed repairs.

The crews they had working on the project moved quickly. There were more people working on the project than Luisa or her husband had ever seen in the small town. Where the extra workers came from, was anyone's guess, but there were many more than normal. The entire area was qua droned off, making it look like some police investigation was underway. Luisa became really alarmed when mixing trucks brought the concrete and crews to lay the new sidewalks. The crew wore hazmat suits.

“Did you see the workers wearing hazmat suits to lay the new sidewalks?” she asked her husband when he came home from work.

“Yeah. I thought it looked strange. They're certainly moving fast, doing the work. It's a hell of a crew they've put together,” Frank Garcia commented.

“I called the township. They aren't answering my calls. I left two messages on their answering machine. I'm not getting anyone live,” she informed her husband.

“I'm sure they're getting a lot of calls from people around here with the same concerns. Did you leave a message as to what it was about?” he asked.

“Yes I did. Luis, stop it, and sit down. Shouldn't I have?” Luisa asked her husband.

“If they don't want to talk about it, they're just going to avoid speaking with you now they know why you called,” her husband suggested.

“I didn't think about that, you're right. I am so pissed,” she told her husband as she began dishing out dinner.

“They may be just taking extra precautions while the concrete's wet. Once it's dry it'll probably be alright. The bacteria will become dormant,” he figured. “On the bright side, maybe Luis will have a decent place to roller blade now.”

Luis loved to roller blade. Luisa found an old pair of roller blades at Goodwill Industries in town one day for him and he took to it immediately. He was able to perform things on them most people doing it for three years, couldn't do. No one roller bladed anymore, so he wasn't going to run into much competition on the walks. Luisa still had her old pair to accompany her son as he bladed, to keep him safe and out of trouble.

“Do you think it'll be alright to roller blade on the walk?” she asked her husband, as he made facial contortions at Luis, making him laugh.

“I'm sure of it. Bacteria become dormant when they dry. The repairs probably aren't activated until there's a rain and the walkways get wet. If you're concerned about it, just don't let him blade on them unless they're dry,” Frank suggested, trying to relieve some of the anxiety his wife was feeling.

“When can I go rollerblading?” Luis asked his father. It was rare for the boy to talk, but he would ask questions about something he was interested in, especially blading.

“Maybe in a week or so champ. As soon as the new concrete sets on the walks they're installing,” the father told him. “The crew will take the barriers down when it's OK.”

The reason why roller blading lost much of its allure after being so popular for a time, was more from the prohibitive nature of most places that had the spots on which to blade or roller skate. Many forbade it, probably because of liability. They might even forbid them skating on the sidewalk again, but until they did, it wasn't an issue. If Luis was the only one doing it, perhaps it may never become one.

Several days later, the signs and the yellow tape were removed. The sidewalks were open to use. Luisa was going to wait a few days before taking Luis to skate, but Luis never missed a trick and though he sometimes appeared to be oblivious, because he seemed not to react, rest assured, he didn't overlook anything.

“The signs are down... and the tape. Can you take me skating now?” he asked later in the day as they were driving home, passing the new walks. Luisa thought about it. It seemed alright, even though she was skeptical about this new process, and the way the township colluded with the state to put in the 'test' walks.

“I suppose we can go tomorrow, after we finish your class and you do your work... and you have to do it without any fights,” his mother warned. She tried regularly to reward him with things he wanted, or liked doing, as reinforcement for things that were a problem getting him to accomplish. She could use the exercise and felt the need to, conscious of her weight gain over the last few weeks.

“Great!” Luis commented happily, displaying a wide smile on his face. Then he went about playing with the two small soldiers he carried with him most of the time, when they left the house. He acted out scenarios and conversations with them regularly. You could easily understand what was going on his head if you just listened to him communicate through his toys.

Luis was very amenable the following day, as he and his mother, concentrated on his school work. He had a goal in mind, for sure. The one thing to make him unmanageable would be to change his agenda now, regarding his expectations. His mother couldn't go back on her word to take him blading.

“Well, you certainly did a great job in school today!” his mother commented. She wasn't just saying it either, but meant it. He was attentive, his mind didn't wander, and he did everything he was told the first time. Besides, he was good at sensing someone giving him a line of bull.

“Can we go rollerblading now?” he asked immediately after her compliment.

Luisa had to laugh. He was just like any other kid, with his one track mind, wanting to do something he was offered, as a reward for what he had to do. He wouldn't let you forget.

“Go get your things and let's go,” she announced, and off he was, on a dead run to the basement and then to his room, to get his jacket.

Luisa turned on a side street and parked where the beginning of the new sidewalk began. Before her son left the car, she gave him a warning.

“Don't start until I put on my roller blades, and don't go too fast,” she warned. His tendency was to speed and he had a couple of crying accidents over the past, that were uncalled for, if he had listened.

Luis took off as soon as his mother strapped on her blades, and stood. The sidewalk was nice and very smooth. It was also pretty level for the most part, except for a couple of small hills where it would be easy to accelerate, while blading.

“Luis! Slow down,” Luisa demanded. However, the demand was ignored, as Luis picked up the speed he loved, on the blades.

“Luis! Slow down,” she repeated, as he got to one of the declines, easily adding more speed.

Someone walking their dog went by, and it jumped up playfully, as Luis passed. It sent Luis falling head over heels on the walk. What made it worse, he slid and lost his helmet. He smacked into a street sign post with his head, before stopping. The woman walking her dog immediately stopped. Luisa rushed to her son's side.

“Lui. Are you alright?” his mother asked, but Luis shredded his pants in the fall, and he severely scraped his knees. He slid several feet on the concrete, and was disoriented from his collision with the sign. Luisa suspected a concussion.

“I'm so sorry,” the dog walker told her, “I think you'd better get him to the emergency room.”

Luisa already decided that's where they were going.

“Do you mind staying with him while I go get my car,” she asked the woman. “He's autistic. Make sure he stays put until I bring the car. I'll just be a minute.”

Luisa skated quickly back to her car to put on her shoes and drove back to where she left Luis. Picking him up, she placed him in the back seat of the car and laid him down, with the help of the dog walker. The woman handed her, her name and phone number.

“Let me know how he is,” the stranger asked.

“Thanks,” replied the mother as she took off towards the hospital, six miles away.

It was mid afternoon and not a busy time at the emergency room. Still the wait times were typically long. Hopefully it wouldn't be this time, but she called her husband, warning him where they were, in case he got home before they did.

“My son had an accident. He has severe abrasions to his knees, and I believe a concussion. It was a roller blading accident... oh, and he's autistic,” she told them in the emergency room. Then she filled out paperwork for insurance purposes and was told to take a seat. They'd be with them as soon as possible.

“My son is artistic too. He works for an advertising agency in Baltimore as a commercial artist,” an older woman, waiting to be examined, informed Luisa, who had taken a seat next to her.

“He's autistic, not artistic,” Luisa informed her, but the woman just looked at her as if she was the one without comprehension.

They waited for fifteen minutes, then a nurse appeared with an orderly, pushing a wheelchair to take Luis to a resident for examination. Luis quieted considerably on his own. He was even responsive to the nurse, appearing interested in what she was doing.

In a small examination room, at the end of the hall, the doctor entered within minutes. Luisa helped her son dress in a hospital gown, minutes before the physician arrived. The resident noticed the abrasions seemed to be gone. Luis was covered in blood, and that could have been blamed for obscuring the wounds. His pants were soaked in blood. However, the wounds were obvious earlier. They weren't now.

“I'm Doctor Bhatt. I'm a resident with the hospital. You say Luis had a roller blading accident and had severe abrasions to both knees. He appeared to have a concussion? Let's take a closer look...” she recommended.

She knelt down in front of Luis who was sitting on the edge of an examination table. She used surgical soap to clean him a little. The doctor had a strange look on her face as she wiped away the blood from Luis' legs.

“Where are the wounds? I see plenty of blood, but it doesn't seem to be coming from anywhere that I can see,” the doctor commented. She looked into his eyes with an instrument and had him follow her finger as she moved it sideways, back and forth in front of him. ”Let's get him down to x-ray.”

It didn't take long. Luisa and her son returned to the examination room and waited for the doctor to reappear.

“I have good news, Mrs. Garcia, Luis,” the doctor announced. “There are no concussions and there are no visible abrasions, even though there was quite a bit of blood. Actually... I'm not sure what happened.”

“Can we go home now?” Luis asked, looking confrontationally at her, and then the doctor.

Luisa was shocked. It was unlike her autistic son. In fact, his whole demeanor had changed. That was confusing. Maybe it was just a temporary thing. The abrasions however, added another dimension. The doctor probably thought she was delusional. If there had been a lot less blood, he might have thought she was crazy. The orderly rolled her son to the sidewalk, waiting, while Luisa got her car and parked it 7for her son. When she stopped, Luis was talking with the orderly like an old friend and they both were laughing. She watched for awhile, finding the scene to be unbelievable. This wasn't her son, or certainly not her autistic son. He appeared completely normal. Could the accident somehow have rectified his condition? After living with his autism for eight years, was this possible? Was the solution this simple? In all these years of seeing doctors and undergoing dozens of tests, could he be cured, or was this something that would lead to disappointment later?

Like many autistic children her son was brilliant, however, their inability to process the amount of information they were exposed to caused, most of their problems. Luisa often wondered if something from outside themselves was the culprit, like microwaves or some kind of communication signals,,. autism seemed to be becoming more prevalent as technology developed. If you asked though, it was always the same answer... 'we have better ways of testing for it and identifying it early'. Did her son still retain his computer-like skills of processing difficult mathematical algorithms? Could he still mimic sounds and voices to perfection? She'd test him to see. Even if he lost those amazing abilities along with his autism, he would be better off surviving in today's world.

“Thank you,” Luisa expressed to the orderly, as Luis slid into the car and buckled his seat belt, something else that was unusual. Normally, he fought her when she tried to buckle him into his seat. He hated seat belts.

“Since it's getting too late to cook dinner, by the time dad gets home, why don't we get a pizza?” Luis suggested. Luis loved pizza, but to suggest it like this, was unlike her son.

“Good idea! I'll call ahead and order for pick-up. We'll get it on the way home and we won't have to wait, or make another trip,” she answered.

On the way home with the pizza, Luisa decided to test her son.

“Make the sound of a peacock like you do. I love that,” his mother asked, and Luis did it as always.

“I know you've never done it, but can you mimic your counselor?”

Luisa thought she'd challenge her son. Maybe the mimicry he could do before was a learned thing he still retained. Trying something new might be a challenge. But as freaky as it was, the sound of Ms. Loretta Jones came out of his mouth. If she were to close her eyes, she wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

“I know what you're doing,” Luis observed. “I'm not autistic anymore, but I have retained my positive attributes,” he told her intuitively.

“Sorry I was so obvious, Lui,” Luisa commented.

“That's alright,” her son answered. It was as much a surprise to him that this veil of confusion was suddenly lifted from his mind. He could feel information pouring into him but it seemed clearer now. Processing the information didn't seem to be confusing, nor did it feel delayed putting it into a logical order for use. It was like knowing how to get from point A to point C because of directions you read. In actual practice, though, you were uncertain if you remembered it correctly, even as you apparently recognize the steps in the path.

She and Luis pulled into the driveway as Luis' father pulled into the drive behind them.

“Great timing!” Luisa pointed out to her husband, as she climbed from her car.

“Hmmm, pizza for dinner. You read my mind...” Frank Garcia expressed, but was pleasantly interrupted by Luis, running to him and hugging him. His father stood there, and returned his hug, expressing a surprised look, which he gave to his wife.

“Today, there have been a couple of surprises. Let's go eat dinner,” Luisa suggested, slamming her car door shut.

She poured orange juice for everyone and placed the two pizzas in the middle of the table with paper plates.

“Go wash up,” she told her son, while her husband wandered over to the kitchen sink to wash.

“What gives? It's almost like he isn't autistic... anymore,” he asked his wife, when he knew his son was in the other room.

“He seems normal. He doesn't act autistic now. He had a concussion from his accident and he had bad abrasions from falling on the sidewalk. All of that seems to have gone away as well. I don't know what to make of it.

“Are you two finished talking about me?” Luis asked, returning to the kitchen to take his seat.

His parents looked at each other and silently smiled while his father dried his hands with a paper towel.

“You have to admit, we have a lot to talk about,” his mother announced, taking her seat.

“You're wondering if I still have my abilities. I do. They were in place before my accident... they weren't taken away, only the confusion and the sensitivity to the things that caused the confusion was,” Luis explained to his parents. He seemed to have a clear grasp of things.

“Like communication networks?” Luisa asked.

“Exactly,” Luis answered taking a huge bite of pizza.

“What actually caused the change though, Luis... the bump on your head?” his father asked.

Luis shot him a look first that made his father feel stupid asking the question.

“It is the bacteria in the sidewalk. They repaired me, like they're supposed to do to the cement,” Luis exclaimed, grabbing another piece of pizza. Luis could put down the pizza and could put more away than his father.

“That is interesting. Who would have thought? How do you know that?” his father asked. Was it conjecture on his son's part?

“I can communicate with the bacteria, and they with me,” Luis answered his father.

“How? In English?” Frank Garcia asked his son. His son just laughed and shrugged.

“That's inefficient. In images,” his son answered and went on eating.

“I wonder if we should say something to the doctors. They're going to find this a strange turn of events,” his mother rationalized.

“You're right there. I wouldn't. Act like it's a miraculous event. It's bad enough as it is, if you suggest to them it's, because of some bacteria in a 'test sidewalk'. If they believe you, they'll be poking needles in him and running all kinds of tests the rest of his life. He'll be living in some lab somewhere instead of here,” Frank surmised, but they may do that anyway.

“But maybe this bacteria could help others like Luis,” Mrs. Garcia suggested.

“No... what happened is unique to me,” Luis told them. “... it was a string of events whose combination is unique.”

“Do your bacteria tell you this, Lui?” his father asked his son.

“Yes. They also suggest continuing to act autistic with anyone used to me that way,” Luis confided.

“That might be best. Can you do that?” Frank Garcia asked his son.

“Of course I can. I know what they expect of me,” his son told him. To follow the same course people were used to seeing, avoided questions. Otherwise, it might cause problems for the family.

“It may be the wise thing to do,” his mother added. That was her better judgment. It was tempting to shout that her son was like anyone else now. What mattered was for him to be left alone and to develop on his own, at his own speed. It would probably be easier to meet everyone's perceptions.

Later, his dramatic recovery would not be an issue around people that didn't know how he was . They'd have to wait and see. Luisa was already thinking of the possibility of enrolling him in some accelerated program. at a school in another town. Then she had an idea. There was a town about ten miles from where they presently lived... a small town. She shopped there a few times, but it was a place they were not known. She'd drive there with Luis to the park there in the center of the town, to let him play with other children, normally. Several miles further there was a special school for accelerated children. Luisa was thinking ahead of herself. He might go there, where no one would have reason to suspect such his unusual recovery. The authorities might try and track the family down if Luis just drooped out of the program. That might not be good. He still had to continue his home schooling program until they knew what to do. He'd have to act his part here as well and avoid speeding through his courses and attract attention. He would consciously have to slow down now.

“Luis, would you like to take a ride to Wrightsville and play there in the park with other children?”

his mother asked after finishing their days work early.

“Can we? No one knows me there, so I suppose I can act normal?” he asked his mother.

“That's why I think we should go,” she recommended.

Luis took his roller blades thinking he might skate. Luisa took hers as well.

“Now, I don't want you speeding and having another accident,” she warned.

“Why? The bacteria tell me if I get hurt they will repair the damage. They already are making me stronger and more intelligent. They're adding neural networks in my brain,” he explained taking Luisa back. She was thankful for the changes so far but then she wasn't sure about the ongoing changes.

“They told you this... with imagery... telepathically,” she asked him, as they pulled out of the driveway.

“Yes, they did. Last night when I took my bath I held my breath under water,” he relayed... something he did regularly, pretending he was a scuba diver. “I could only hold my breath for twenty seconds before... last night, I held it for a minute and a half!” he exclaimed to his mom.

“Is that right? Now don't be doing something that might hurt you,” his mother warned.

“The bacteria will warn me. We have a relationship,” he told her.

She wasn't sure how to respond. It was some sort of symbiotic things that he implied. This whole situation was more than a case of his autism being cured. This 'relationship' may be opening a whole new world that would bring her son to the attention of others. It might very well be impossible to keep things hidden.

Luis suited himself with helmet and guards, not that anything helped the last time, His helmet came off and his guards moved where they shouldn't have been, he was going so fast. Luis wasn't worried. He was comfortable enough with what the bacteria outlined to him, not to be worried. He was off in a flash, while his mother was still fumbling with her skates.

“Luis! Don't go too far,” she yelled. There seemed to be only young children in the park, ones too young with which Luis to bother. She forgot school hadn't dismissed yet. It wouldn't be long.

Many children, walking home from the nearby, school would end up stopping at the park. Mothers picking up their children, might also stop on the way home to let them burn off energy after having school all day. Luis was eager to make friends, and it would be an easier thing to do now.

She watched as he raced down the paved trail encircling the park. It extended about two miles from beginning to end. His speed was unbelievable and so was his coordination. As Luisa concluded her first lap, her son passed her on his fourth. A little further she came across him again, this time he had stopped to play basketball with children a couple of years older than him. He was faster than them. And he jumped higher. When he threw the ball he made every basket. She had never before seen Luis play basketball, and never knew he could. Luis had not been competitive, nor could he handle losing very well. Luisa sat and watched. It was impossible to imagine this was her same child. He made friends there and had been readily accepted as an equal.

“Luis! Come on, it's time for us to go,” Luisa called.

“Ah mom. Just a little longer. Tony and I are going to race to see who's the faster,” her son told her, bringing his new friend with him to meet her.

“OK, do your race and then we have to leave,” she told him, while his new friend, Tony, shifted his weight from foot to foot in expectation of the challenge.

Both boys took their position. Then they were off in a dead run when she realized her son was abnormally fast. Luis made it back to where she was standing before Tony even began his return, the quarter of a mile from the tree they decided was their marker. It caught the attention of others in the park, who stopped to look. The boys, still playing basketball also stopped to watch. Luisa became worried. Their little race attracted too much attention. His speed was unnatural. It would only get worse as he physically grew into whatever mold he was filling.

“You know, Luis... racing like that, well, you might want to not do it where many people are around to see. Or, maybe slow down some. You caught an awful lot of attention. If someone recognizes you and knows you were autistic... there could be some serious questions,” she warned him.

“I thought that's why we came out here, so no one knew me,” he complained.

“Yes, but doing something that well... people will remember you, and people talk,” she counseled him. “Exactly how much are these bacteria going to do for you... to you?” she asked, wondering if the changes they continued to make could be taken too far.

A person's physical make up enables them to accomplish a certain feat. But if you're suddenly operating at 200% or 300% of what your limitation was before... well, your body would have to evolve and adapt to the new requirements

“They told me they would keep me healthy, make me smarter, stronger and faster than anyone can imagine. If I get hurt, they'll fix the damage right away,” Luis explained to his mother. “They will keep ahead of my demands.”

“Ahead of your demands? That will make you different. Someone's going to ask questions and do some digging. They'll know something peculiar happened in your life that made you exceptional. They'll want to know who you are and why you are,” she told him. “You are more than adapting.”

“You forgot the 'how',” he replied joking. "We can't live our lives for other people or in fear of them. We'll have to deal with it eventually,” he spoke directly to her, knowing that in two days, he wasn't the same person. There would be more changes in the time to come. He wouldn't know how dramatic. Luis wasn't about to hide and he wouldn't be accountable for other peoples' actions.

There were physical changes happening inside of him. He could feel them happening. He could see the resulting mental changes. His mental clarity was sharper. He had always been good with numbers... math, but there was more depth now. Algorithms formed and floated in his mind's eye, that he didn't recognize, yet, There were geometric patterns everywhere he looked and holographic figures suspended in space. The world was evolving before him, vastly different than what he was used to. It was happening faster than anyone could imagine. Even time seemed different. The bacteria's direction seemed to be on a supersonic track beyond normal expectations.

“You should have seen your son today,” Luisa commented to her husband, when he came home. He definitely is a different person with a great deal of ability,” she told him. and explained further, what she saw and experienced.

“Good... he'll be prepared for anything in this life. I only fear there are those who will want to take him apart and see what makes him tic, I will not let my son be turned into some lab rat,” Luis' father promised.

“I'm prepared now,” Luis assured his parents, as he walked into the room. He heard his father talking in a whisper, halfway down the hall. “I hear those annoying frequencies all around, that used to interfere with my thinking... I couldn't think clearly. Between cell phone signals, radio signals, and other broadcast frequencies, it's a wonder I had trouble. Electrical signals even affected me. I'm glad these bacteria created a biological Faraday cage, webbed throughout my skin, to stop their interference,” Luis explained.

“Is that how they changed you?” his father questioned.

As science explores the micro world of bacteria, they find more and more the importance of this microbiota in one's overall health. The Buddhists appeared correct in their teaching that, 'all maladies come from the stomach,' and by following certain dietary guidelines they could benefit all people. If all maladies indeed came from the stomach, wouldn't it follow that all cures would as well? Researchers more recently discovered, improper stomach balance at a microscopic level, affect not only physical well-being but also mental. It appears neural networks in the brain are even created and maintained by bacteria. They are much more crucial to a balanced human being than what was thought of even a few years ago. Testing and studies are exhibiting amazing results utilizing the strengthening of good stomach bacteria to out-number bad bacteria.

“That's something we can help inform people of, you know... to help others like you. Maybe we can put a bug in some researcher's ear to examine the effects of the various signals used today,” Frank Garcia mentioned.

“I think they already know. They just don't care. Many things are hidden from the public because it doesn't fit their plans... there are secondary advantages to what they've created... a world of control and limitations,” the boy told his parents. “Then there is the money.”

“You don't even talk like my Lui anymore,” Luisa Garcia commented. “Definitely not like an eight-year-old. Frank, listen to Luis, His instincts have become sharper. If you even quietly recommend what to do to a researcher you might wish you hadn't,” she told her husband, as Luis swung his legs in his chair. He didn't talk like a child anymore, but his actions were still that of a child.

Luisa placed her large cast iron skillet in the middle of the table on pads for everyone to help themselves to the turkey pot pie she made. Besides pizza, it was Luis' favorite meal. The family all had similar tastes, making meals an easy proposition.

“Easy Luis,” Frank Garcia, warned his son. “The pot pie is extremely hot. You'll burn your mouth.”

Luis wasn't worried about it. He was taking into account what he learned from his symbiotic passengers, and already he trusted them implicitly.

“The bacteria stop me from being hurt,” he reminded his father.

“Don't you think it's better not to just take them for granted and assume some responsibility? Don't completely rely on them... I wonder if they will be there always or if they can be compromised by other things in your system or outside of it. How about other 'bad' bacteria?” Mr. Garcia questioned,

Luis' father expected an answer from his son or maybe some relay of one from his on-boarders, but there wasn't any. He watched as his son stuffed his mouth, while he had to blow on each bite a moment to cool it enough, to put in his mouth.

“Let's go get an ice cream cone after dinner,” Mr. Garcia suggested, getting an excited 'yes' from his son, and second to the motion from his wife.

“Remember, Luis, they all know you there. You'll have to pretend to still be autistic,” Luisa reminded him.

It seemed stupid to have to do this, but the boy understood. You don't just get over autism. It was a lifetime challenge. People would become too suspicious if he suddenly seemed normal to them. Then if they ran into his social worker, which they had done twice before, she'd ask questions, tons of them. She'd most likely file a report that would elicit more questions from her superiors. Over the years there was state and federal funding involved... and insurance. It would be pertinent to be concerned over implications of fraud and the possible domino effect that might occur,

Life settled and didn't produce any surprises and over the next four years. Luis matured physically and mentally under the direction of his quantum angels. You might even argue they were what angels are. Without the hindrance of autism but with its advantages, and the influence of this micro-flora, he matured differently... accelerated. Within a year of his accident, they had imbued him with the many new positive effects of the symbiotes. One thing Luis found that raised his family's condition and enabled them to move, to begin a new life in Wrightsville, was stocks. Luis found he could successfully choose penny stocks and consistently pick winners. Reading the various free charts available on-line were a cinch. He could look at them and within seconds create a meticulously accurate analysis. It produced an excellent income. Frank Garcia. opened an account in his name, when Luis was nine, and let him trade under it. On-line, no one knew. Frank Garcia appeared suddenly to become a successful day trader in the mining and biotech industries. During that time Luis had to act autistic and continue with his home schooling under the tutelage of his mother and the scrutiny of the social worker. Then they fell from sight.

His parents enrolled him in the school for advanced children, where his education was partly home schooling, where most of his work was done. He attended actual classes twice a week. There was the need to create new backgrounds, under new names utilizing their real names modified. Mr. and Mr's Garcia began living under their middle names while their first names became initialized. Luis found himself functioning as L. Daniel Garcia while his father became F. Mateo Garcia. Luisa's identity was... L. Elena Garcia. They were able to live close to where they had been living yet successfully drop from sight. They just couldn't go back to their old lives. Their friends' ties were severed. Once they initiated their plan, they methodically began segregating themselves from those they knew. They had been renting an apartment. That made it easy just to pick up one day in the middle of the week, and clandestinely move.

It may have seemed odd that a family could suddenly disappear, but it wasn't enough to inspire anyone to investigate. The social worker was kept in the dark and Frank Garcia even mentioned a few times about possibly moving back to Mexico, to take care of his parents. She would most likely assume when they disappeared, that's what they did. By the time Luis turned ten they had new lives. By the time he turned thirteen, the family had become financially independent. F. Mateo Garcia didn't work for anyone anymore. That helped to maintain their anonymity. Under the direction of his son, he became an investor. He wasn't as successful as Luis, but he did well. With his son's additional investments, the family was successful.

Meanwhile Luis grew and grew incredibly. At thirteen, he was already six foot two and commanding looking with his broad frame and muscular condition, something that occurred naturally without regular exercise. His strength was over-whelming. He was too large and strong to play sports with his peers without hurting them. High school sports, in the coming years, would also prove unlikely for the same reasons. Luis wasn't a young boy anymore. In size and appearance, he was a young man. No one would even suspect he was the same Luis people remembered at eight.

“Dad... I can shape shift, like they do in science fiction movies,” Luis revealed to his father one afternoon walking through a wooded area along the Susquehanna River. It was their daily time together... just the two of them.

“Exactly how?” F. Mateo Garcia asked. He knew not to doubt his son these days when he made a claim.

“It's easy. I change my appearance by imagining the person I want to become. I can change my size to approximate the other person too, but it hurts quite a bit to do that, and it slows things down. If I need to be a foot shorter, I can do it but my mass becomes greater, so I stay the same weight. I can't just change that. I can become an animal as well, with my brain functions,” he told his father.

“Amazing! How long does it take?” his father inquired.

“It depends on how drastic the change is. Changing from human form to say... an antelope might take a couple of hours... from me to another person my general size... about ten minutes,” Luis told him.

“Does it take an effort to stay in the other form or do you stay that way until you decide to change?” he asked his son.

“It takes no effort at all, and it takes less time to change back, even with a major difference like from an animal,” he told his father.

“Just don't do that during hunting season,” Garcia joked. “You know something like that can come in handy. Can you just go by a picture of someone to change?” the father asked the boy.

“That's all I need. It helps to know the height if I need to change that,” the son answered.

“Keep a scrapbook of people with notes, to use if you need it. You know your ability to make money in stocks will make you independent and help keep your secrecy in the future. You can do whatever you want and help anyone you want. Put yourself in the position of doing that,” the father suggested.

“I've been thinking about maintaining the whole anonymity thing and just be a regular person. I really don't even have to go to school anymore. There isn't a much someone can teach me that I can't pick up by reading, studying or asking my symbiotes. I can create any background I want, if I need it, I don't need to depend on someone else, a company or the government,” Luis deducted.

He was right. The money and the ability to keep earning it, independently, enabled him to continue to maintain the secrecy the family cultivated over the last few years. Now he could even change appearances whenever he needed. His ability to falsify identities was intact, though illegal, but it didn't matter, becoming obscure was a matter of just doing it. Changing fingerprints was elementary, so he created a random design, if he ever needed it, that was unique.

“Son no one believes you are thirteen years old now. Nothing is holding you back from just moving forward, however you want... be whoever you want, and do whatever you want. There has to be a great deal of satisfaction in that. Your bacteria have given you a life only a few can imagine. There are probably things you can do, you haven't even discovered yet,” the father explained. He couldn't even imagine what his son's life had in store.

Over the last few years, he had seen his son grow. The boy did the things every boy does growing up. He saw him cut himself, have fractures and a myriad of other injuries, only to heal in minutes, even seconds. Mateo wondered if it meant he might never see old age like everyone else in existence. Might he be immortal? Could he be killed? He thought about it and assumed it might have to be a total and instantaneous annihilation, destroying the bacteria at the same time. Luis had developed a sixth sense partially based on the bacteria communicating with other bacteria in some kind of quantum network interaction that warned him of events as they were unfolding. He found he couldn't completely depend on this foresight because there were too many variables involved. Perhaps over time it would become more dependable as he learned to use it.

“Luis... are you sure you're fine with us leaving you here? It's been years since we've seen your grandparents and you never have. Come with us,” Frank Garcia asked Luis... his wife was in the process of booking a flight to see his parents.

“No... you two go ahead. I need to stay here with school and everything else I'm doing,” Luis informed them. “I have a feeling I shouldn't go. Maybe you shouldn't go either right now. Wait until I can go with you.”

“I have to get them out of where they are, as soon as I can, it's too dangerous where they live. It's much different from when I was growing up. I do want you to see them soon. We'll get them moved and be back here in nine days,” his father told him. “We'll call you when we land and touch base around noon every day.”

“Alright. You two do know I can take care of myself?” Luis asked, wondering who the call was really for every day.

“Honey, we know what you're capable of, just as much as you do,” Luisa assured her son.

“You two just be careful visiting. You haven't been down there because of all the crime. It isn't getting any better,” Luis warned.

“I've already found a condo for your grandparents, away from all the bull shit going on down there, in a secure building. It'll be much safer. We'll be leaving in three days,” Frank told his son. “They know I just have to sign some papers and then move them. I told them to start packing everything they could three weeks ago, so we shouldn't have much to really do.”

Luis watched as the jet took off from BWI, towards Mexico City. The Garcias would be landing there in a few hours with their direct flight. It wouldn't be long after he drove home to Wrightsville, when he'd get their call. Luis drove home, more than capable of driving the car at age thirteen, than most adults. He needed to carry the credentials of an eighteen-year-old in case he was stopped. Luis hated falsifying this kind of documentation.

An hour after getting home, his cell phone rang. It was his father calling.

“Hi dad. Everything OK?” Luis asked.

“The flight was a little rocky, but we got here just fine. You take care of yourself, and we'll talk to you tomorrow. We love you!” the father told his son.

It was time for Luis' meditation... two hours of it. He would communicate with his internals and other, external bacteria through a complicated, quantum network that existed. In that state, he could gather information that was needed from the past. Bacteria passed on information, encoded as a type of memory, similar to genetic memory. Some of that information could be millions of years old. The difficulty was, accessing the information he needed, from those voluminous memories, in a reasonable amount of time, that they carried. Once he 'uploaded' their information, it would become a part of his memory and could access it much faster. Familiarizing himself to his information was part of his daily meditations.

Garcia bought the condo. It was a nice place and secure with a community guard, something they needed these days in the city. The only other options were to depend on a corrupt police force, which wasn't much of one, or pay the cartel for protection like the old days with the mafia in America's big cities. Criminals preyed on young people and the old. They used young people to transport drugs within and out of the country. Old people were robbed and forced to pay protection regularly. Mateo Garcia felt once they moved to the guarded community, they'd be safe. The protection money they were paying could stop, and they'd get along much better. Luis had other more distant family in the city that would continue to share their meager incomes with the cartel.

“I'm glad to hear you're finally getting grandfather and grandmother from where they are,” Luis commented on the call. “They'll be much happier.”

The following day, there wasn't a call. You could set your clock by his father's promises, Luis became worried and checked his phone constantly, thinking he tried calling while Luis was in a dead spot, or his father became distracted with the move, so he waited. After an hour he dialed his father's cell number. A strange voice answered, raising Luis' suspicions.

“Hello... who is this?” Luis inquired.

“Who is this?” the other voice asked. Realizing this could go on all day without an answer, Luis became forthcoming.

“This is Daniel Garcia... son of Mateo and Elena Garcia,” the names on their new passports. “Now, with whom am I speaking?” Luis asked again, firmly.

“This is detective Alejandro Sanchez, Mr. Garcia. I'm afraid I have some bad news. Your parents and your grandparents bodies were discovered a few hours ago by a neighbor investigating a disturbance,” the detective revealed.

The worst Luis could imagine, happened. His head was spinning in reaction. Suddenly he felt lost and light-headed... unable to think.

“Mr. Garcia! Are you there? Hello?” the detective spoke louder over the phone. “Mr. Garcia!”

“I'm here. Who did this?” Luis asked succinctly.

“Likely the cartel since your family was moving outside of their jurisdiction. Once you pay for protection it's hard to just stop. Others might get the same idea. Where are you Mr. Garcia?” the detective asked. There was other noise in the background... sounds of police, and forensic people doing their jobs.

“I'm at home in Pennsylvania... in the United States.

“I'm aware of where Pennsylvania is, sir. Can you come down here to identify the bodies, unless there's someone local you can recommend,” Sanchez asked him.

Luis thought about it. Nothing was holding him back except his age. He had a passport but he'd use cash to go there without credit cards. He should have made it a point to change his age on his identifications and obtain credit cards but he didn't think he'd need it to this point.

“I'll leave on the next flight. It'll take me a couple of hours to pack and get to the airport in Baltimore to leave as soon as I can,” he informed the officer.

“I'll pick you up then. Send me your pic to the phone number I text you. I'll send you mine. This phone...your father's phone will have to go into evidence,” Sanchez instructed.

“Will do. Goodbye detective,” Luis responded, and disconnected his phone.

He threw a few clothes hurriedly into a gym bag. He stuffed enough money into his wallet to pay for the ticket to Mexico and plenty more to buy whatever he needed while there. He and his father hid plenty of money in their house for emergencies. Luis stopped a few minutes to quickly meditate. He needed to communicate with his inner bacteria and initiate finding more details of the murders and who was responsible. It might take awhile, but by starting something now, he hoped to have answers by the time he landed.

Luis was able to get a seat on a jet leaving two hours after he got to BWI airport in Baltimore. The plane was half full. The allure of travel to Mexico wasn't like they used to be with the increase in crime. The fastest way to Mexico City was to land at the new airport, Felipe Angeles International in Zumpango, 30 miles from Mexico City.

The air ride was tense, more because of his mental condition. He understood that the cartel was behind ninety per cent of the crime in Mexico. They just couldn't ignore four people? Disembarking from the plane and walking into the airport, there was no one waiting. The detective wasn't there so he assumed something came up. There weren't any missed phone calls nor were there messages on his phone when he looked. He could call the detective but maybe a car would be good to have.

“I'm afraid we can't rent you a car, Mr. Garcia,” the woman behind the Hertz counter told him at the busy airport. She looked at him skeptically before she continued. “You're only thirteen.”

“I'll pay extra,” Luis attempted.

“You're underage. Our insurance wouldn't allow it and I'd be fired, "she told him, still looking at him not believing his age.

“Alright... fine, I'll take a taxi,” he told her, put out with the imposition.

“Sorry sir. There are taxi's out front. Just go through those doors,” she advised, pointing the way towards the revolving doors to the outside of the airport, about seventy-five feet away.

Walking towards the doors, he spotted several taxis, parked end to end, along the curb. About that time, a familiar face came spinning through the revolving door. It was Detective Sanchez. They spotted each other at the same time.

”Mr. Garcia, Detective Sanchez... I'm sorry for your loss but it's good to meet you. I ran a check on you.... and you're thirteen? There must be some mistake,” Sanchez told Luis, as he escorted him to his car parked behind the line of taxis. A sign was on the front window, under the windshield wiper...'Policia.'

“No mistake... I'm mature for my age,” Luis responded.

“Obviously!” the officer answered, holding the back door open for Luis. “That's my partner in the front seat, Detective Angel Delgado... Angel, this is Daniel Garcia.

“Detective Delgado.” Luis acknowledged, as he slid into the back and threw his gym bag onto the seat.

“Call me Angel. It makes it easier. Plus, if you call me detective in public, half the people that hear you, will run," he informed their passenger.

“Yes, call me Al,” the older detective suggested, as he closed his car door and started the car. “It'll take about forty-five minutes to get to the station.”

“Call me Danny. I can't believe this has happened,” Luis told the men.

“You're just a kid. You shouldn't have to go through this. The younger detective looked quizzically at his partner and then at Luis... then back to his partner as if he missed something. Sanchez caught the stare.

“Hey, he may not look it, but he's only thirteen,” Sanchez informed his younger partner who sported a huge black mustache. The hair on his exposed arms was just as thick and black. His skin was darker, like other local Mexicans.

Sanchez was half bald and lighter complexioned, looking more Spanish. He was clean shaven with what was left of his thinning, curly hair on his head. Delgado had straight, thick hair, barbers probably had a hard time running electric clippers through. Delgado was thin and in shape, while his older partner was overweight. Both wore short sleeved shirts to look less like policemen, but they didn't have to wear uniforms, you could just tell they were cops.

It was quiet. No one said much on the way to the station. It was hard to just begin a socially polite conversation with someone you didn't know, under the circumstances.

“We're here, Danny. They'll give you a pass when we get inside. You have to have one inside with or without us. Otherwise if Angel or myself aren't around someone will nab you right away,” Al told him.

At the front desk, Luis was issued a badge to became the official guest of the police department, Secretaría de Seguridad Ciudadana la Ciudad de México. They had over one hundred thousand officers in Mexico city alone. It was a huge building with a force to fill it, indicative of the crime there. Over half the force was probably crooked and on the take, funded by the cartel. For all Luis knew, Angel and Al had two employers, so the only answers he might get could be from his gut.

The elevator ushered them beneath all the bustle, the station was constantly exposed to, underground, to the morgue. It was cool and busy there in the basement. Luis had never been in a morgue but he couldn't imagine one anywhere as large. The three of them walked down a long hallway whose floor was covered in beige linoleum tiles, buffed to a high sheen. The place was obsessively clean. Sanchez led the way through swinging doors and into another room with what appeared to be large file cabinet drawers built into the wall. There must have been fifty or more drawers.

A man wearing a white lab coat, and rubber gloves, entered through the next set of swinging doors leading into what was most likely, the autopsy area. The place smelled of a mix of formaldehyde and other unknown fragrances.

“Doc... this is Danny Garcia, the victims' son and grandson. We scheduled. Danny to ID the bodies in E4 through E7. Danny this is Dr. Reyez, our coroner,” he introduced them. Both nodded to each other, as the coroner moved quietly to the first drawer and opened it. Inside was the body of Luis' father. Luis placed his hand on his father's chest while looking at the partly sewn neck wound. He was garroted forcibly, cutting partly through the neck in what appeared to be an extremely violent encounter. He took a moment and prayed, but he was also connecting with the bacteria present. ” That's my father Frank Mateo Garcia. Do you know who did this to my family?” The prayer wasn't even really a prayer. It was more of a prelude to a curse.

The coroner slid the drawer closed and opened the next containing the body of his mother. She was killed the same way, just not as violently.

“Not yet and we may never know. This is the way of the cartel. They have hundreds of hit men working for them, and wannabes, who'd sell their mother for a nickel if asked,” Sanchez revealed. But Luis knew he was lying. It wasn't instinctive, at least not in the way you might think.

The bacteria were showing him plenty, including images of the three killers that did this... their names and their addresses... Javier Soto, Diego Ortiz, Arturo Mendez. Luis observed everything in his 'mind's eye' as he silently addressed his mother in the cold room as the others watched. Javier Soto and Arturo Mendez lived together. They were homosexual lovers and practicing necrophiliacs, capitalizing the moments with some of their hits. Ortiz was married with one child by another man. He farmed his wife out as a prostitute, whom he controlled by addicting her to drugs. Her twelve year old daughter had been raped five years before by Ortiz. He was grooming her for the same line of work as her mother, addicting her already to drugs. It was easy money for him. All three men were impressive examples of fine human beings. Luis received more information than he expected and wondered if somehow the bacteria were capable of passing judgment on these three for the executioner. They weren't fit as human beings.

“That's my mother... Elena Garcia. You have no idea whose hands actually committed this atrocity?” Luis asked again, giving any of the men present a chance to change their story.

“Hopefully we'll know something when we get further into our investigation,” Sanchez answered, blowing smoke up Luis' ass.

Again, images began flowing into Luis' mind. It was the way the bacteria communicated, and it could only be more information they were relaying. Clearly, Sanchez was part of this whole thing, perhaps not directly, and without a hand in it, but he was on the take with the people responsible. He couldn't bring up any of the three names of the hit men or Sanchez might forewarn them. They could take a hiatus from the city, making it harder to track them.

After identifying the bodies of his garroted grandmother and grandfather, he said a short prayer again over his entire family, and turned to leave.

“Please wait here,” the doctor told him and left a moment to go into the other room. When he returned it was with a large, sealed envelope and a clip board. “Your family's belongings... we took removed them when they were brought here. Their phones were all placed in evidence. Please sign this paper that you received them.”

When he finished he walked into the hall, followed by Angel and Al.

“I want the sons of bitches that did this and whoever sent them, punished,” Luis voiced loudly as Angel came up behind him. His declaration drew the attention of a few people walking in the hallway.

“I promise you by all that is holy, I will see that they are,” promised Angel, sincerely.

“We have to find them first and that might be easier said then done,” replied Al, somewhat insincere and less concerned. “We'll do our best.”

Angel looked at him but didn't say anything. It wasn't a look of admiration or respect... maybe suspicion. Luis had the feeling he knew details about his partner maybe his partner didn't know he knew. Luis assumed there were times when inconvenient phone calls resulted in whispers where occasionally, questionable words, were overheard. It was hard to lead a double life without being suspect at times by dedicated people.

Luis found Angel, likable... Al was nether likable or unlikable, probably because there was a shifty air about him. His mannerisms didn't enable warm, trusting feelings. Luis decided he was staying in Mexico until justice was served. The decision was made as he had looked down at his mother's body. None of them lying in the morgue had ever done anything to anyone. They deserved more than this. Luis wasn't sure what he would do yet, but he made an internal promise to his mother to avenge his family. Now he had certain strengths, more than most people, maybe more than anyone. They'd come in handy fulfilling his commitment. Who would suspect a thirteen year old of retaliation but then who would believe he was thirteen looking at him. He could make himself look younger, even make himself smaller to accommodate expectations, but it would be a painful ordeal. His molecules would be packed closer together, changing his mass in the process.

“Where do you want us to drop you?” Al asked the boy. “When do you think you'll head back to your country?”

“I don't know. Not right away. While I'm here I want to see a few people,” Luis responded, as the elevator doors opened and the three of them climbed onto the elevator. He wasn't about to tell him he was going to stay until he saw an end to all this. They might suspect he would try and do something or even publicize whoever orchestrated this. He got the feeling, now that he identified the bodies of his family, Sanchez would like to see him fly back to the States.

“You'll want to make arrangements to ship their bodies to the states,” Al surmised.

“I plan to have them cremated. I'll take them with me when I leave,” Luis alerted him. “Drop me off at the Conquistador Hotel if you wouldn't mind.”

The Conquistador was not far away... the image of it had appeared earlier in his mind, when Al was talking. He never before heard of the place. Was there a reason the bacteria related the hotel name, or were they being helpful? The officers dropped Luis off in front of the hotel with his gym bag, and left. He watched as they traveled down the busy road. Pulling out the envelope, the coroner gave him, he opened it and looked inside. While looking at his father's wallet, an idea came to light. He began changing and felt himself transforming, taking on the appearance of his father. His father was two inches shorter than him but anyone seeing his duplicate and even having known him, would unlikely notice the disparity. He'd use his father's identity and his papers here, confronting the killers eventually, disrupting their sense of success.

“Good afternoon sir. May I help you?” the middle aged man asked from behind the desk at the hotel.

“Yes, I'd like to get a room,” Luis announced.

“You haven't a reservation?” the man asked.

“No,” Luis answered. “Is that a problem?”

“Certainly not, sir. Will there be just you staying with us?” the man asked. “How long do you plan to be with us?”

“It's just me and I'm not sure how long I'll be here. I have business to attend to, so it may be several days,” he told the hotel clerk who actually parted his hair in the middle. Who did that anymore?

“I need to see your passport and some other identification,” the man asked, so Luis pulled out his father's driver's license and his passport. After careful scrutiny, looking back and forth at Luis a few times, the man was assured Mateo Garcia was who he said he was.

Signing the necessary papers, Luis paid up front for four days, and was ready to go to his room.

“Well, Mr. Garcia, welcome to the Conquistador and Mexico City. We are very happy to have you with us. If you need anything at all, please just ask for me... Casper Diego... please,” he highly suggested.

“I will. Thank you, Mr. Diego,” he said as the bell boy came to show him to his room and carry his luggage.

“Here you are sir, Room 955...You're on the top floor with a great view of the city,” the young boy told him, as he opened the curtains to reveal the metropolis. He was right, it was a great view. It minimized all the crime and poverty prevalent, down on the streets. Luis tipped him and told him he didn't need anything else, before the boy asked him.

“Thank you, sir,” the boy responded as he left himself out the door. “If you need anything else just ask for Juan.”

“As a matter of fact, can you tell me where the Mayan Apartments are, I believe they're on Zapatto Avenue?” Luis asked.

The boy suddenly looked serious as his overly charming smile, cleared his face.

“Sir, I hope you're not planning on going there. It's a very dangerous place even for those who live there. Outsiders are lucky to make it in the place and even luckier to leave,” he warned Luis.

“I have family there, I promised to visit,” he lied to the boy.

“Alright sir, but it's not someplace you should be going. If you go down this street, south about four miles and then turn right on Zapatto, you will go two miles. The apartments are on your right. I would take a taxi and walk the last several blocks to them. If you pull up there in a taxi, they will know you're an outsider, and they will mark you” he further warned. “Is there anything else, sir?”

Luis, shook his head and watched him leave. Then he went to the door and listened, Locking the door, he wondered if the people responsible for his parents' and grandparents' deaths knew he was in town. He was sure he would not be suspect of being anything more than family, coming to identify the bodies and arrange for their deposition.

Luis made a phone call immediately to a crematorium to make arrangements for the four bodies to be cremated and placed into urns he chose online with the crematorium.

“Yes. I'll pick them up tomorrow,” he told the crematorium's director and arranged for them to pick the bodies up from the morgue Then he called the morgue to alert them of the arrangement for the bodies to be picked up by the crematorium.

With that taken care of, he laid on the bed to get some rest. His first appearance as his father, would be to one of the killers, not the gay couple, but to Ortiz. He'd begin restitution there.

Luis walked into the heat of the late afternoon and headed for the taxi he decided to take. It was an older model, Mercedes, rusted in spots and dented in others. It probably started it's life as some family's luxury car years ago before descending into its other lives, after being brought across the border. Now its end would come, perhaps in a few years, as a pile of recyclable metal. Luis leaned over from the sidewalk, to look through the open window of the passenger side.

“I need to go to the Mayan Apartments,” he asked the driver who was busy catching a nap. He was half dazed and sweating profusely in the still air.

“Senior! Are you sure you want to go there?” he asked his potential fare as he quickly shook off the sleep..

“I wouldn't have asked if I didn't want to go there,” he retorted to the driver.

“It's a very bad place,” he added, “but I can get you there.”

“Please, I wish to,” Luis told the man and climbed into the car. The door made a strange sound, as if it were about to fall off its hinges.

The driver turned up his music, high. That was fine. Luis didn't have a desire to talk. Engaging in conversation with someone only made them remember you better. Luis preferred to be forgotten with no details remembered, if asked. Paying the man and then leaving the taxi twenty minutes later, he saw what the bell boy and the taxicab driver were inferring about the place. It was a pig's shit hole. Two mangy dogs were stuck together, having finished their sex before he climbed out of the vehicle. They stared at him as an intruder. The sidewalks were old and cracked. Weeds and sumac were growing profusely through the openings. Grimy starlings whose feathers were awry with dried liquids from digging in trash cans bounded around, trying to grab food scraps from each other. At a smaller level there was a huge trail of ants carrying food to their lair from a pile of trash bags, piled on and around several trash cans. The smell, in the heat of the sun, turned his stomach.

There was a fenced in area of ground, overgrown with weeds that hadn't been trimmed in quite some time. It was between him and the Mayan Apartments whose name was exhibited in large red letters. The 'r' in apartments was missing and probably had been gone for some time. There appeared to be various items hanging from the remaining letters, where most likely, the starlings lived in their nests. Luis saw no one on the street but he felt he was being watched. Glancing either way, he decided on the path he would take and walked in that direction. As he turned down the street to enter the apartments, three young men walked out from an alley, between the apartment and a small grocery next to it, that appeared closed.

“Hey mister. You don't look like you belong around here,” the young man, around eighteen, remarked, as his two friends followed him, dressed in dirty clothes, ripped and with holes. They were encrusted with unknown substances... in need of a good cleaning.

“I don't. I'm looking for Diego Ortiz. Can you tell me what apartment is his?” Luis asked.

There was a sudden look of concern on all three faces. It didn't take a genius to see they recognized the name.

“A friend of yours?” the young man asked.

“No,” Luis answered.

“What business do you have with Mr. Ortiz?” the young man asked.

“Well, that's my business,” Luis answered as he continued to walk.

“Senior! No one comes here without paying their dues,” the punk warned Luis, who was carrying his father's appearance and looked to be a thirty some years old, with thinning dark hair.

Luis ignored him but before he finished his sentence, he felt his hand grip Luis' shoulder and heard the feet of his friends scramble along side of him. Luis reacted immediately and spun around aggressively, decisively and without hesitation, taking the three hoodlums by surprise. Luis' found that soft spot in the one punk's neck around his trachea, as he gave him his fist. He fell back in pain with the sound of rushing air. There was immediate pain and the sound of him gasping for the air he couldn't get. As he did this, the other two jumped on Luis. One brandished a switch blade knife. Kicking the one back holding the knife, he pulled the other from his back to the ground. There he grabbed him by the ankles and began pivoting quickly on his feet, spinning him around in circles, horizontally above the ground. He struck his other assailant hard, embedding the knife in the one he held. He took the other off his feet and sent him flying. On the second pass he flung his wounded assailant through the air, striking his friend and bringing him to the ground again. Both stood up hurriedly and grabbed the third man, still trying to get his breath, by the arms, and drug him down the alley.

“Get him to the hospital or he may die,” Luis shouted after them as he watched them scramble in disgrace. Disappearing from sight, Luis once again focused on the apartment building.

Clothes flew in the wind as they hung, drying on the balcony railings. There was shrubbery around the front by the door. A cat ran out as Luis grabbed the door handle and the place smelled like old, stale urine. It was even worse inside as he went towards the mail boxes to see where Ortiz lived. Two naked children stood at an open door watching him in the hall, where several of the black and white floor tiles were missing. Luis said 'hi' to them, but they only stared, as the little boy busily picked his nose.

“Shit, he's on the sixth floor and no elevators,” Luis commented under his breath as he ran his index finger across the numbered labels on the boxes. “Let's see... apartment six ten...”

He walked quietly up the stairs to the sixth floor, noticing many questionable things along the way, ground into the steps. There were sounds too, mainly children wailing for the lack of food and screaming for attention. There were adults as well, fighting and cursing each other, spurred by their environment. Halfway down the hall, Luis came to Ortiz's door and he knocked. A minute later the door slowly opened and a pretty young girl dressed in a short pink dress that needed a cleaning as much as she did, answered the door.

“Is your father home,” he asked the girl, and then again in Spanish, since she stared at him blankly.

Luis entered, and shut the door behind him, as the girl disappeared down a hall finished in the same floor tiles as outside the apartments. He looked around but didn't see Ortiz. Then the young girl came out of a back room and stood in the hallway. There she motioned for Luis to come down the hall to her, and so he did. When he got to where she stood, she pointed wide-eyed into the room that appeared to be the master bedroom. A man was lying there, face down on an unmade bed, its sheets stained from body oil. He walked over to him and saw it was Ortiz, passed out with a needle lying next to him on the bed. A smart phone was lying next to him on the other side, which Luis grabbed, and looked through its contents. There were only eight phone numbers in the phone but a few of the names were familiar. S. Castro was first, probably Sebastian Castro... a cartel boss, He was married to Valentina Castro and they were in the news quite a bit as socialites and philanthropists. However, everyone knew who they really were. She was the sister of some other cartel boss, whom he couldn't remember off hand. He'd have to research it if his internal friends didn't get him the name first. Then there was R. Gutierrez, who Luis did not recognize; H. Horrera, also not known; A. Mendez... probably Arturo, one of the gay killers: R. Navarro, also unrecognizable: M. Ruiz, another unknown: A. Sanchez... Alejandro, the detective; J. Soto... Javier, Arturo Mendez's lover. It was only eight names in the phone but they said a mouthful. They were either all cartel people or closely associated with them. Ortiz didn't look like he had any personal info on the phone and was probably told to keep it that way so if he had to destroy it everything was guaranteed destroyed without hesitation. The instant dialing had video icons next to the names in the phone. It appeared any calls made to those on the phone used face to face communication for security reasons, perhaps so you knew who you were talking to. Luis just smiled at the thought.

Looking at Ortiz lying on the bed, where he turned him over, Luis could only think he was such a worthless piece of shit. Luis pulled him up and leaned him against the headboard of the bed. The young girl had come back to the open bedroom door, so Luis ushered her out and told her to go watch television. He shut the door behind her. The place smelled horrible. Ortiz had shit himself and the smell swiftly filled the room when the door was shut. Luis walked over to the sliding doors of the balcony and opened them as far as he could to air the place out, otherwise he'd find himself puking.

Luis had the information he wanted, pretty much. Now that he saw Ortiz he had the rest. He could transform his own features so others would think he was Ortiz... a slightly taller Ortiz.

“Come on Ortiz. We need to talk. Wake up,” Luis demanded, slapping the addict a few times across the face and throwing a glass of water on him to try and make him conscious.

Ortiz began regaining some clarity but when he saw Luis he quickly became aware and did the unexpected.

“Garcia... fuck we killed you. How the hell...” but Ortiz perhaps in his high state, thought he was being haunted. Maybe as diabolical a life he led and prompted by religious fears, most likely from a strict religious childhood, ran to the balcony, and jumped.

“Shit!” Luis could only comment and went to the balcony to look over. The idiot was lying face down with his arms and legs distorted unnaturally, in a pool of blood having cracked his skull open on the narrow side street. "This wasn't planned.”

Luis took out Ortiz's phone and auto dialed S. Castro to talk to him before he got word about what just happened. Hopefully he answered. Meanwhile, Luis took the appearance of Diego Ortiz and prepared to play this one by ear.

“Yeah Diego... what's happening?” the mob boss answered. Luis was face-to-face with the killers' boss, studying his face and his voice.

“You tell me Mr. Castro. Mendez has been following me for the past hour. Is there something I should know?” he asked the boss, knowing that when he got word of Ortiz's death, he'd automatically assume Mendez did it. He'd suspect that something else was going on in his organization he didn't know about... it was a last minute thought, but Ortiz's unexpected jump might work to Luis' advantage.

“You're fuckin' high. I don't know what the hell you're talking about,” Castro responded.

“”I'm telling you he's been following me. I'm looking out my front door right now. He's down at the end of the hall. He doesn't know I can see him,” Luis informed him.

“Maybe the son of a bitch has a crush on you. Just ignore him. I'll talk to him later. I'm tied up right now,” Castro told Luis and disconnected.

Pleased, Luis slipped Ortiz's phone into his pocket. By the end of the evening Castro would know Ortiz was dead, and probably assume he was pushed off the sixth floor balcony by Arturo Mendez. Would he call him and try to find out what was going on? Mendez would deny knowing anything about it but that would be normal. Might he retaliate in some way or would he care, as long as this wasn't some rival's attempt to unseat him. Luis would let things go the rest of the night and do something tomorrow after picking up his family's ashes. He'd have to give this whole plan more consideration. Four urns would be heavy and lugging them around in a taxi would be difficult, so renting a car was in order.

Luis returned to the appearance of his father and walked a few blocks. Then he hailed a taxi.

“Take me to a car rental place,” he demanded, “near the Conquistador.”

Luis drove the rental to his hotel and parked underground. Pleased with the day and the way things turned out, he went to his room. 'One down and four more to go,' he told himself as he got in to take a hot shower, talking to himself, or was it the bacteria?

“Hello, Mr. Munoz. I'm Daniel Gonzalez. I'm here to pick up the remains of my parents and grandparents? We spoke on the phone,” Luis told the man who ran the crematorium.

“I'm so sorry for your loss. To lose two generations like that is just awful. I'll bring out the urns and help you get them into your car. You know I can handle shipping the remains back to the United States,” he assured Luis.

“That's alright. I want to keep them with me,” Luis told him.

“Wait here. I'll bring the deceased out on a cart,” Munoz told him.

Shortly, Luis heard the cart coming down the hall. The director wheeled the four urns into the room containing the ashes, and parked them next to his desk. Luis looked puzzled. There was something bothering him, surfacing into his consciousness.

“Where are my family's remains?” Luis asked the director who returned a puzzled look, maybe one of concern.

“What do you mean? They are right there on the cart,” the director insisted.

Now Luis could see clearly. His family's ashes weren't in the urns. The cartel couldn't even respect the dead. They had taken the opportunity to ship drugs in the urns. Or, maybe they planned on getting rid of Luis this way, having the authorities pick him up for drug trafficking. The director was another of the cartel's faithful servants. Who knows what they had done with the ashes. Luis inspected the man who had taken a seat across from him. Staring at him was making him nervous.

“Did you replace the ashes... with drugs?” Luis asked incredulously. He saw the man move to his desk drawer, but Luis knew beforehand what he was doing, and so he jumped from his chair.

Luis wasn't sure how he might handle a gunshot, and he didn't feel like finding out just now, if he could avoid it. The dexterity and speed he accrued since the bacteria were introduced into his system was always surprising when used, and was welcomed at the moment. In a few fast and unexpected moves he was out the door while Munoz fired several shots after him. Down the hall he sped, unaware of where he was going, not being familiar with the place. He made a random survival move by taking one of several doors. The room within, was where the furnace was. Two men there, were moving a large metal coffin down a conveyor with what one could only assume, held a body. They turned to look, as Luis ran into the room with their employer on his heals.

“Stop that man,” cried Munoz as he came in firing his automatic unsuccessfully at Luis. “The boss wants him dead.”

The boss? Now who would that be... Sebastian Castro, or was there someone else Luis should be aware of in all this? Luis wasn't about to stop long enough to ask, but leaped up to a walkway over the conveyor belt and the furnace. It was likely a fourteen foot jump from, where he was, to clear the railing. From there, he jumped up further, to the top of what looked like a large walk-in refrigerator. Meanwhile Munoz, with gun in hand, began climbing a ladder to the top of the refrigerator. Luis jumped from the refrigerator to the room's floor to get away and Munoz turned to fire at him from the ladder. However, Munoz lost his grip and fell onto the belt, bouncing along its length, as the doors of the incinerator opened to let the coffin inside. Before the belt could be stopped, the director disappeared into the incinerator right behind the coffin as the doors shut. They were locked now until the device did it's job. Munoz would be already be a pile of dust. As soon as Munoz entered the incinerator, Luis became him.

Afraid, the two men had run from the room during the gunfire, so Luis was alone. Now they were returning, aware the gunfire ceased and they were safe.

“Call, Castro,” Luis commanded the one worker who had returned, hoping the man could contact Castro. He couldn't call from Ortiz's phone now. “I dropped my phone somewhere in all the commotion.”

Luis sighed gratefully when the worker called the mob boss.

“Mr. Castro. This is Felix. Mr. Munoz needs to speak with you. There's been problem and he lost his phone,” Felix explained, handing the phone over to Luis.

“Nicolas... what's going on there?” Castro asked. “What's this... problem?”

“The Garcia kid came in here to pick up his family's ashes. He knew there were drugs inside the urns. I had to kill him,” Luis told Castro.

“How, the fuck did he know there were drugs inside?” Castro shouted. “First Ortiz's death yesterday, and now this. Someone inside that knows the routine must have told him...my bet's on Mendez. At least you got rid of the kid.”

Castro's mind began to wander. Mendez never met this Daniel kid. He saw pictures though. Maybe he spotted him around and hatched some plan to get something for himself. He needed to get rid of Mendez, just to be safe. He could cause too many problems

“Alright. Francisco. Get back to business. I'll take care of Mendez. You'll likely have more business by tonight,” he told the director. Then he most likely would have more people to cremate by tonight anyway. Mexico City was a big city with lots of crime besides what the cartel produced. It was a great place to have a business such a this.

“Sure thing Sebastian. I'll talk to you later,” Luis told him. Castro ended his conversation but immediately dialed another number.

“Can you talk Alejandro?” he asked Sanchez right off the bat.

“Sure can. What do ya need?” the detective asked.

“I need you to earn some of the money I pay you. It looks like we have trouble in the group by the name of Mendez. I need you to get rid of him. He's up to something on his own and we don't need enterprise around here.”

“Arturo? You can't trust a homo. I told you before,” Sanchez reminded the boss. “How do you want me to take care of him?”

“I don't care just take care of him, as quickly as you can,” Castro instructed.

“Done...” Sanchez replied. That's what he liked about Sanchez, who had been on the take with him for fourteen years... no questions.

Sanchez watched his partner at the window of a small trailer getting their lunch. They ate here often. It was a husband and wife team. She was a great cook and they paid Castro for protection. Others, like them, weren't so lucky, and were often robbed while others stood in line buying food. He already knew might have to set Mendez up in order to kill him in front of witnesses, if there were any. He wanted to maintain his integrity and Angel's.

“We have to go over to Hill Street. Someone's messing with cars over there and they think someone was killed,” Sanchez told his partner, Delgado.

“We're investigating vehicular damage now?" Angel Delgado questioned.

“I said someone may have been killed. Besides, we do what we're told to do,” replied his partner. “Don't rush... no hurry." Angel knew then the directive didn't come from their supervisor, or they'd be in their car headed to Hill Street already.

He suspected his partner earned a substantial income from the cartel. He worked with him for three and a half years now and there were things he did and involved Angel in, that were a little shady. He didn't question anything, but went silently along. The way Sanchez's previous partner went, while asking too many questions, wasn't of interest to him to repeat.

Hill Street was a decent place, with nice apartments, restaurants and businesses. Sanchez didn't say anything about Mendez or his partner, Javier Soto. Angel never met them and it would be better for him not to know who either one of them where when it was time to tie up the loose end. If the hit men were together, which was likely, he might have to take care of Javier as well. As they pulled up to the building, Sanchez took the lead.

“I was told the suspect was seen going into this building, Watch my back, I have no idea who we're looking for. He'll probably know we're cops before we know who he is,” Sanchez lied to Delgado. “These guys would just as soon put a slug into you if they think you're a cop, even if their only crime is jay walking.”

“Shit... there's probably fifty apartments in this place. Where do we start,” Angel asked as they walked into the lobby of the place.

“There's a guard at the front desk. We'll start there. I have a description of the guy we're looking for, so maybe he knows what apartment to look for him,” Sanchez deduced.

Walking over to a guard sitting behind a desk between two palm trees there in the lobby, Sanchez flashed his badge.

“Police... we're looking for a guy about five ten, thirty-two years old, black hair, light skinned. He's a little effeminate and lives with another guy. They're sweet on each other...” Sanchez was describing when he was interrupted by the guard.

“That sounds like the one guy in four twenty-three. He and his 'friend' come and go at odd times constantly,” he told the two detectives.

“Let's go,” Sanchez told his partner, Delgado.

As the doors of the elevator opened Sanchez came face to face with Mendez. Immediately Mendez knew something was up when he saw and recognized the detective. He was about to say something when the detective shoved Angel out of the way, not in an attempt to keep him from getting hurt in an altercation, but to distract him, avoid suspicion, and keep him from realizing they knew each other. Sanchez pushed his partner hard enough to knock him down as he pulled his gun. Mendez pulled his as well, having seen Sanchez a few times coming and going from Castro's office. He realized his movement was offensive, and something was amiss.

The gunfire was intense from both weapons before the elevator doors closed. Sanchez wasn't sure if he hit Mendez in the exchange but when he turned, looking through the cloud of smoke, Angel was hit twice and lay dead on the lobby floor. Sanchez was afraid of the two hit men. He knew they would be going after Castro now. They'd figure he ordered this hit. He fled the building, assuming his only chance was to position himself where he knew they would be going to surprise them.

The hair on the back of Soto's neck raised, hearing the gun shots coming from the lobby. They were barely audible, but he had heard enough gunfire in the past, it didn't take much to alert him. Mendez had pushed the button for the floor for his apartment after he was shot, and the doors opened as he arrived on the fourth floor. His lover, and mutual hit man was already heading for the elevator as the doors opened.

“Arturo! Who did this?” Soto yelled, squatting down to drag Mendez off the elevator, but he realized he was critical and it was no use trying. He might shorten his last few minutes inadvertently and he preferred to use the time to say good bye.

“It was Sanchez. Castro must have ordered a hit for some reason,” he told his lover.

“Hold on Arturo. You're going to be fine. Let me get you to our place and I'll call an ambulance,” Javier cried. Tears streamed don the face of the tough killer realizing there wasn't much time left”

“Javier...” Arturo spoke, with laughing that began a coughing fit he finally stopped, “don't waste your time. We've led a life we both knew would probably end like this. There isn't any time...” he began but never finished. Taking a final, deep breath he expired.

Javier, got up and pressed the top floor button before he got off the elevator and ran down the stairs to the lobby to head out the door to Sebastian Castro's office.

“What are you doing here?” Castro asked Sanchez as he busted through his office door.

“I may or may not have killed Mendez. If I didn't, Soto, and Mendez, are on their way over, here, figuring you ordered a hit. The best thing I could do was get here first and surprise them,” Sanchez explained quickly. “Mendez killed my partner. We don't need either one of them around now to dump on us.”

“Well, you can stay here, I'm leaving,” Castro announced, as he stood with his phone in hand dialing a couple of his henchmen from upstairs, that he kept around to guard the place. “Martin... get Hugo and come down here to my office. We have a problem. If you run into Soto on the way, shoot the son of a bitch, he ordered.”

Standing at his desk, the boss stuffed several things into his pocket to leave. Sanchez stood there watching and realized he was bleeding. He had been wounded at the apartments but hadn't realized it with the adrenaline rush. Then he heard the door open and he poised with his gun as Castro pulled his. Waiting for Soto to rush in, a grenade was lobed into the room instead. They watched it bounce and come to a stop on the carpeted floor. Before either could move, it exploded. As the two henchmen came off the elevator, hearing the explosion, they drew their guns. Soto did not hear the elevator doors open in the melee but he felt several bullets strike his spine, and he dropped lifeless, in the hall, outside the splintered door of Castro's office.

A few blocks away Luis sat smiling in his rental car. In the past few days, the bacteria inside of him had become incredibly efficient in transferring information to him, more so, if he was in contact with the ground. There, it seemed, he had a better connection of sorts. He had accomplished what he needed to but was upset he didn't have his family's remains to take back with him for a proper burial. But those that ended his parents' and grandparents' lives were ushered efficiently to a proper burial. He saw to that.

Still, even bosses had bosses. The command to do the hit on his family may or may not have originated with Sebastian Castro. He hadn't learned anything about the man pulling Castro's strings other than his name... Matias Ruiz. The man was the most ruthless of the bunch and ruled his part of the world for fifteen years. The cartel's rules were simple and harsh. The answers dealing with various situations was simple, put in place as commandments, for the lower rung of their group. They could make decisions on the spot, without complicating things for the bosses. Ruiz may not have been directly involved or made the decision for the hit, but his rules most likely guided Sebastian Castro in his decision to carry out the hit. So far Luis had manipulated the guilty into self-destruction and avoided any direct involvement in hurting anyone. He knew retribution might demand otherwise, and he realized it might be coming to that, since it appeared only one man, that may have been involved, was left.

Luis went to his hotel room and showered. Settling onto the middle of the bed, he took a series of deep breaths. Relaxing himself and becoming oblivious to the outside world, Luis slipped into a meditative state. What he learned in his receptive state failed to give him an indication of Ruiz's involvement, but the man was evil. He may not have proof of his his involvement in his parents' and grandparents' demise but there were hundreds of other death warrants imitated by him, directly and indirectly. Luis feared becoming like him or his associates by judging the man and then executing him. There was no doubt of his guilt. What he learned from his quantum communication line was fact. There was no guessing or misconception. Only truth. Perhaps that one reality imbued him with the right to determine the fate of Ruiz or anyone like him.

Determined to do the right thing without descending into the world of sociopaths, he began searching for ways to cause internal havoc in their organization, like he had with the others, so judgment and its sentence would be carried out by their own kind. The longer he stayed in a meditative state, the more he learned. It was frightening what he uncovered. How could these people even consider themselves human? There were those who considered themselves righteous and holy that would probably empower Luis to do away with such people that seemed to do greedily do whatever they wanted for power and money, that were untouchable. Luis, though still had the trepidation of becoming judge, jury and executioner. He didn't want to go there, fearing he'd become no better than them.

Whatever he chose to do, he'd be spending a lot of time in Mexico City. There was much to do. With his abilities, youth and finance he could spend the time he needed to with the vendetta against the cartel he had developed. He'd be leaving in the morning, to go home. The flight left mid afternoon and he didn't have anything else to do here at the moment. Ruiz was the next thing to take care of, but there was no hurry. Right now it was back to his room to get some rest. He hadn't much since being here and hopefully he could get some.

“Luis!” Luis heard his mother's voice call. Somehow he seemed to know instinctively he was dreaming as he listened. It was good to hear her once again, even though it was a dream. When someone is taken from you, it seems their image almost immediately, begins to fade. Other things, some small things, seem to slowly fade into the distance . Perhaps it was the human way of dealing with tragedy. The less to remember about someone, the less sorrow. Perhaps it's easier to move on then. Finally, one day their memory only becomes an occasional thought, bringing a small smile to the face, or perhaps even a tear, for there are tears of happiness.

“Luis!” cried the voice again, and Luis attempted to focus on it.“ Luis... come on and wake up!”

It was difficult to focus. Luis was in a deep sleep. He laid on his side in bed, looking at the television that he never turned on to watch. It was blurry, like the room, until he gained full consciousness. There was a something in the room. He felt it before he saw it. There were four presences in the room. They were undefined, dark pillars, standing separately, but as a group. As his vision sharpened, he realized the figure in the forefront was Luisa Garcia, his mother. Behind her was his father. Behind him were his father's parents, smiling proudly.

Luis sat quickly up in bed, shocked, because this was no dream and his loved ones were no delusion.

“Luis. I am speaking for everyone, since it takes so much energy. We have combined our resources so we can have a minute with you now. We are all proud of you. You brought judgment on an evil group of people while retaining your integrity. Your grandparents and your father and I want to tell you to continue as you are. Take caution not to become like them. You will do the right thing if you follow your heart and think of others before yourself. Whatever you decide to do, we know you will make the right choice . We are no longer there to guide you but we know you have something there now inside you that will. She leaned over and kissed him on the forehead as she always did when she tucked him into bed at night. He felt it! It wasn't cold either, but warm and loving. He could feel the love as a mild shock that in turn created a pathway of warmth, spreading throughout his body, inside and out... he wanted to open his entire soul to the universe.

His mother walked away and disappeared through the outside wall of the room. His father approached him and touched the back of his hand resting on his lap, and smiled at him. Then he went the way of his mother. His grandparents came forward, one after the other, gently touching his hand as well. They smiled, and disappeared through the wall. He could feel their touches, just as they were alive but he could feel their undying love as well... intense, yet part of a greater whole with greater power. He felt it encapsulate him... breathing as he did, in conjunction with a universal pulse, pounding in his ears. Tears poured from Luis' eyes... not from fear, sorrow or pain but overwhelming love as he became aware of his entanglement with everything good and holy there was.

cartel
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