Later in the afternoon I went out to the mailbox and pulled a pile of mail out. Heading back into the house, I noticed a sealed envelope by the front door. "What now?" I thought. I knew instantly who it was from – the envelope was blank so it had to be from Jake Stone, the covert operative who has been feeding me sensitive, classified information for this blog after reading my thriller, Dark End of the Spectrum. So he claims.
I was about to pick it up when I thought it could be laced with anthrax or some other deadly substance. I went into the garage and put on a pair of workers gloves and proceeded to pick up the envelope. It was thin so I immediately ruled out a bomb, but still. I went back into the garage and put on a facemask I use when I paint rooms. I slowly opened the envelope holding it as far away as possible. It held a single piece of cream-colored paper and I could tell most of it was blank. I opened the page and lettering instantly appeared.
"Check the fourth rock in the back." It said and within seconds the lettering faded away. It was from Jake Stone. He had sent me an earlier note that also faded. (See the Starbucks Caper) This is the 2008 version of Mission Impossible, but he's no Mr. Phelps.
I walked to the back of my house to where I have several stepping stones sloping downward with the grade of the land. I stopped at the fourth stone. It didn't look disturbed, but I wasn't taking any chances. I picked up a rake near the tool shed and went back. I carefully placed the tines of the rake under the edge of the stone and lifted. At the same time I ran towards the house in case there was bomb. Nothing happened and I hoped none of the neighbors were watching. I slowly approached and looked at the indented earth where the rock had been and saw something shiny. It was an anti-static bag – a gray silver metallic bag used to protect electronic components from static electricity and X-rays. The bomb was in there, I thought. Then again why tell me where it is. Was I being too paranoid? I opened the bag and spilled out the contents. A flexible silver watchband bounced onto the brown earth except it didn't have a watch. A small sticky note on the band said, "Try it."
Ok, was I dumb enough to slip it on? Was it the neural bracelet Jake had mentioned in his earlier note that connects directly to your brain through your nervous system? I was too curious to let it go. It would gnaw at me. I slipped the bracelet on. Nothing happened. I'm thinking who buries a sophisticated piece of electronics under a rock in my back yard? Was I really expecting something to happen? I suddenly felt like I was being watched. Worse yet, my thoughts were more vivid – they echoed in my head and I thought I was floating. Everything around me, the trees, the plants, the grass appeared virtual like they were a passing thought. My thoughts took on more significance. And then it struck – a white noise that took the color out of everything with the fury and sounds of a hurricane. What was once my colorful reality turned into a white liquid swirl that slowly numbed all my nerves. The last thing I remembered was someone calling my name.