Written By Matthew Tolbert
Published in parABnormal Digest #2
It was easy to avoid the FBI for someone who knew everything. He knew their procedures, regulations, congressional rules, and their entire modus operandi. He knew that code blue-48 was what they followed for secretly apprehending American citizens. He also knew they didn’t always follow the codes as they were written, especially this one.
He knew he was a top priority for the bureau. He enjoyed being aware that they were quite desperate since they had even asked the San Francisco police for assistance. Sadly, he also knew they were staking out his apartment in Los Altos, his girlfriend’s place in Fremont, his parent’s home in Danville, his classrooms at Stanford and every place he regularly went to. They had agents secretly checking out every airport, bus station, train depot, hotel, rental car office and even the luxury liners. All were standard operating procedures for code blue-48.
To Jeriel, it was like playing chess with a blind-person. The young man knew that after being frustrated and failing to find him, the FBI would then try to out-guess him and check the least obvious areas. The places he would never go to. They would be investigating the nude bars, the libraries, the fast food restaurants, movie theaters and public places.
So, Jeriel calmly drove to Santa Cruz and sat on the beach, concentrating on expanding his full knowledge. He turned his thoughts to the top business executives in the area. As he opened his mind and searched, he suddenly became aware that Les Kel, president of AmInCo Software, was on vacation in Cancun with his new young girlfriend of two weeks. Jeriel thought that it was a good thing that his board of directors did not know the truth about this business trip.
Jeriel drove to Kel’s empty house, easily disconnected all the alarms and made himself at home.
He was Jeriel Scott and this was his curse: he knew everything about everything.
Jeriel had an uneventful upbringing as the only child of an upper-middle class, two-income family. No more defeats or surprises than any of his friends. Just like all parents, they believed their son was special. Little did they know how true their beliefs were until Jeriel went through puberty.
It was eighth grade and it started during an essay test on ancient Rome. Suddenly, as he read a question to himself, the answer came to him instantly, including historical facts beyond what was taught in class. But other facts kept coming. More and faster they invaded his mind like being attacked by a swarm of hornets. Jeriel looked only at one question on the quiz and concentrated. The words slowed down, the attacks came slower but it was still too much. He then focused on one word of the question: “what.” After much effort, this focus finally worked at controlling the information flooding his mind. Unfortunately by this time, the class was over and he flunked the test.
That year, he went from a B student to straight A’s. Some teachers called him a “brain” or “whiz kid.” Jeriel only told his best friend, Mark Lombarski, about how he never had to study anymore. Mark was happy for his friend but a little jealous since Mark was one of those that had to study all night to get a “C” grade. He never had enough money, common sense or good looks. However, Mark was always loyal, especially to Jeriel.
There was one math teacher who suspected the young man was cheating. Ms. Gulbraithe threw in a linear algebra question that was taken from a college exam. When Jeriel answered it correctly, the teacher immediately called in his parents, who were very aggravated since they had to leave work. She told Brian and Jean that their son had been cheating and somehow got a copy of the exam before the test was handed out. When his parents met with all his teachers, they discovered the same thing: Jeriel never failed a test and give correct answers beyond the course teachings. His parents were successful local businesspeople and concerned this might affect their referral business. They asked the principal that this matter be kept secret. Jeriel was suspended for one month and grounded for the rest of the school year. All tests from then on were oral- exams. Being painfully shy, this embarrassment sank him further away from people and especially his parents who did not believe him when he shared his secret.
High school was easier for Jeriel to get lost in the big school. Most of the teachers and students didn’t pay him any special attention. He also limited his test answers and made sure to get a B grade occasionally. He got scared one night when he watched a game show on TV and realized he knew every answer to every question. He shared this fear with Mark, who just thought that Jeriel was a genius. “Look at all the money you could make by going on these shows, Jer,” said his enthusiastic friend.
But Jeriel did not want to bring attention to himself ever again, especially in front of his parents. His father was a hard-working, hard-smoking Creative Director for the largest advertising agency in San Jose while his mother was an aggressive salesperson for Oakland’s easy-listening radio station. They would not appreciate the distraction taken away from their work if their son went on game shows. So Jeriel finished his freshman year with am A- average.
Things continued to change the next year. While in gym, he was wrestling a classmate and a wave of information hit him. He stopped, as suddenly he knew everything about his opponent, Rich McCulloch: his brothers beat him, his fear of dogs, his undetected spastic colon, and more. This experience scared Jeriel so much that he went home sick for a week, staying in his room, afraid to touch anyone.
When he returned to school, he started experimenting and discovered that by holding people he could find out everything about them. As time went on, he just needed to touch them and the knowledge came to him. He had to be careful and started wearing clothes that covered his whole body. He was cautious not to share what he learned with the people he touched unless it was totally necessary. Like the time Tami’s appendix was about to burst. He simply told her that she looked pale and should go to the doctor. Her doctor informed her later that if she had waited any longer, her condition might have become terminal.
As Jeriel grew older, his powers became greater. At the dinner table one night, Jeriel and his mother ate alone, as usual. She reached across him for the salt. Though they did not touch, the closeness brought all these facts flooding into his thoughts; information about her that he never knew, or wanted to know. As the tears rolled down his cheeks, he collapsed into the corner of the kitchen.
“You never told me, Mom,” Jeriel finally managed a whisper through the storm of information, “that I have a sister.”
His mother tried to lie, denying everything until he interrupted her, “Mom, stop! I know. You were in high school, pregnant, stayed at Aunt Louise’s house and then gave the baby up for adoption since you were only 16.”
Jean Scott sank to her knees, next to her son, never taking her eyes off his. Then burst into tears that had been held back for 22 years.
As he held his sobbing mother, making sure not to touch her skin, Jeriel concentrated, trying to weed through all the facts. As her cries and shivering started to quiet down, he said, “Her name is Rebecca Olds. She’s going to college at the University of Oregon, majoring in English. I think she has a boyfriend…”
“Stop this! What is wrong with you?” Jean sat up; staring at her son like this whole thing was a sick joke. She ran out of the room crying.
When the father got home, late as usual, the two of them sat down with their son. Jeriel decided he better tell them everything about this growing power. They were in disbelief and thought Jeriel was cracking from the pressure of high school. The teenager began proving himself by first showing them he knew all the answers as he flipped the channels from one game show to another. As they sat in amazement, still looking at the TV screen, Jeriel told them everything he knew about Rebecca, past and present, even confirming that the father was Jean’s old boyfriend.
“If I was to meet with Rebecca, how would it go?” Jean started crying again. “Would she want me in her life?”
Jeriel thought for a long while, frowning the whole time, then opened his eyes and smiled, “I don’t know. This is great. I don’t know the future.”
The next day, the three of them took a plane to Portland, Oregon and found Rebecca in her dorm room. The reunion between mother and daughter was filled with vulnerable anger, uncovered tears, clinging hugs and continual promises to keep in touch. Everything Jeriel told his parents about Rebecca was true.
His father had doubts about this so-called “gift” of his son’s. He especially did not like when Jeriel notified him he must quit smoking since his lungs were already blackening. Brian kept smoking to remind his son that he was still his father.
However, his mother saw her son’s special talent as a way for them to become rich. She convinced Jeriel to go on the popular millionaire game show. Though concerned about the possible negative factors that could come from this, Jeriel did see the advantage of making enough money so his parents could retire and stay home. A gift he wanted to give them.
It took many attempts just to get interviewed, forcing him to travel around the United States to all the try-outs, and causing him to drop out of school. However, once he got on the game show, he easily won the grand prize with the fastest answers the show had ever seen.
His parents explained that after taxes took half the winnings, they would still need more money before they both could retire. This started the “game show tour,” as his mother called it. Jeriel became a celebrity with each program he appeared on, until he was finally not accepted on any programs. During this time, information came to him faster and sometimes, he couldn’t control what facts filled his mind. He now knew everything about people without being close to them.
Jeriel’s greatest fear happened: he was now famous. The celebrity magazines called him the “Brain-teen.” He was on all the talk shows. Normally, a sixteen year old would enjoy all the attention but Jeriel hated every minute of his fame.
He especially tired of the same questions about who killed who, what were celebrities’ darkest secrets, what are some hot stock tips and political questions about policies and politicians. The same worn-out questions were always asked despite his refusal to answer most of them. Revisiting facts became boring to him.
His favorite questions were those that set his limits, such as, “Can you see the future?” “No, the future changes every second. The best I can do is guess what will happen looking at the facts that I know. However, I do know that things change unexpectedly for unforeseen reasons.”
He also liked, “Is there a God?”
“I won’t answer that since religion is based on faith and not facts. If you know the truth, then you don’t have faith.”
He tired of “What has been the biggest surprise for you?”
“It’s hard to explain and I don’t fully grasp it either, but in short, everything affects everything. Everything, everyone is connected. If you trip someone in Los Angeles, this negative action affects everyone across the world and prevents a man from getting a job in Finland.”
And he hated the same jokes he heard time and again, “Will you be on my trivia game team?” “Want to go to Las Vegas with me?” “Don’t tell anyone how much I weigh.” Jeriel learned to fake laughter.
Things changed on the day his agent called and told him about how the Chicago police department had invited him to help find a missing ten year old girl. Jeriel, happy to try something new with his power, immediately flew to the windy city. His friend Mark joined him since his parents were doing their own celebrity tour. Jeriel agreed to meet the captain at a conference room at the airport and asked that he bring some of the girl’s clothes. As he knew, the press surrounded the famous “Brain-teen” as he got off the plane. While struggling through the swarm of reporters, Jeriel stopped when one asked, “How does it feel to be helping people, besides you?” He thanked the reporter and proceeded to the conference room. As he held the missing girl’s sweatshirt, he pretended to concentrate. He already knew where she was as soon as he took the case and thought about her. He told the police captain that her uncle had taken her to Nairobi, Kenya so they could get married and be with lions, which she was always fond of.
When Jeriel and Mark watched the news the next day from his home, they watched the ecstatic parents hugging their girl at the Kenya airport. “It always feels different to actually watch something than to know it. Maybe this is a gift, after all,” Jeriel said to his smiling friend.
Over the next year, he helped any police department that would ask for his help. He especially liked finding missing children.
However, even though “his country needed him,” Jeriel turned down the FBI and CIA since they were involved in areas that he felt very uncomfortable about. They did not appreciate being turned down and told him they would discuss it again at a later time. Jeriel knew it meant that they would try another approach. He knew from now on, he would be closely watched.
It felt good to Jeriel bringing happiness to the victims but all the death threats he received every day scared him. The final nail was when the judges started dismissing these crimes against the perpetrators since Jeriel’s method of solving the crime was deemed not credible or relevant. Once again, the negative attention made Jeriel drop out of the public eye. He easily got his GED diploma a year early and immediately after, every college invited him with a full scholarship.
Jeriel enjoyed quiet nights sitting in his room, where he tested his control and expansion of his power. He would concentrate on specific things and all knowledge of that subject would come to him. One winter night, his best friend was visiting and asked if it was true that he knows everything. Jeriel nodded.
Innocently, Mark asked, “How far can your powers go? Is there an end to how much you can know?”
Jeriel thought for a second then responded, “I can know as much as there is or was; everywhere, everything, everyone.”
“Then do it. Right now, let’s find out about everything.”
Jeriel always liked his friend’s blind enthusiasm. However, his powers were still growing and he often wondered himself how far they could go. He smiled softly and closed his eyes then opened his mind beyond all the layers of common knowledge.
Within seconds, it was too much for him. Like a dam that collapsed, the flood of information poured into his small mind. Images, facts, faces, voices, words, smells, touches, noises, all overwhelmed him. Jeriel couldn’t control it or stop it. More and more they kept coming. He screamed out then collapsed.
He awoke the next morning unaware of being in his own bed as the flood continued where unconsciousness had stopped it. He yelled for mercy and passed out again.
Jeriel tried to open his heavy eyes but decided not to. It was hard to focus as his lids lifted part way but he still knew what had happened. He was aware that it was three days later, that he was heavily sedated with ativan, and that he was in the local hospital, room 455. He knew that his parents had figured out correctly what was happening from their conversation with Mark. He knew the media had reported this embarrassment and the Los Angeles Times even wrote that he needed mental help and was dangerous to humanity. He also knew they were right.
When he struggled and fully opened his eyes, everything was blurry. He managed to see over in the corner of his hospital room, his parents talking to Dr. Pederson, a New York neurologist that specialized in head injuries and celebrities. He knew that the hand softly patting his shoulder came from his family priest, Pastor Werfelmann.
His first words were, “Yes, Pastor, please teach me to meditate.”
Werfelmann was surprised at first but then figured Jeriel knew that he taught an evening class on a universal meditation that combined deep Christian prayer with eastern practices of relaxation and focus. “Jeriel, do you think this will help you control this incredible gift God has given you?” The Pastor stopped and smiled, “That’s right, you already know this answer. So, how can I help?”
“Pastor, I was like a blind-man that can see for the first time and everything is too much to take in. Are you aware how much detail there is in, say, a single room? There’s carpet, walls, pictures, lighting and everything has a thousand lines and figures. There are over a million shapes within a simple room, with smells and tastes that come from undetected odor; noises barely heard in and outside of the room. I need to learn to control and have the power to select. Just because I know of something, doesn’t mean I want to know everything connected with it, which is, by the way, everything.”
Over the next seven months, young Jeriel, now eighteen, learned to control the rushing waters that he had invited. With the help of sedatives and being taught to focus through meditation, he eventually chose what entered his mind.
The better he got at controlling, the fewer drugs he took. Finally, he needed neither the ativan nor the minister’s teachings. He made a sizable donation to Pastor Werfelmann’s church and promised to attend church services every Sunday.
He started a normal life, finally. Jeriel enrolled in Stanford College, where all the professors feared him. Jeriel moved into a two bedroom apartment with mark after he bought the complex. Mark enrolled in San Jose City College and studied to be a mechanic. He continued to be supportive and helpful to his troubled friend, especially when Jeriel wanted to be alone. Mark would always joke that they were “two of two kinds.” Though Jeriel’s parents never retired, they were very rich from his earnings and from the company promotions they received due to their son’s fame. They e-mailed him a couple of sentences every Wednesday and Saturday. He also exchanged e-mails with his half-sister, Rebecca, who wanted to know about her new family. He even fell in love. Though he knew all of Cindy’s faults as well as her troubled past, he enjoyed their time together. She was not highly educated but had a “street-wise” wisdom that she was not aware of. Jeriel found this quality attractive and fascinating. Cindy was a very physical lover and they touched, kissed and laughed like newlyweds. Jeriel’s power made him the perfect lover. As he had promised, he went to church every Sunday. Freshman year was the best year of his life.
But the next year was his worse. Jeriel saw an Iraqi terrorist on campus and knew the man, plus six others, were there to kidnap him tonight. He went to the library to hide. Jeriel found a cubicle in the back, closed his eyes and concentrated on the FBI. As he suspected, they were there at Stanford, also following him. There was more than the normal amount of agents this time since they too knew of the planned kidnapping.
Jeriel walked up to one of the agents disguised as a student. He handed him a note and whispered, “Here is where they are right now as well as where their headquarters are. Please move fast. They are planning to break into my apartment tonight at 6:50.”
Jeriel and Mark stayed at a hotel that night. The next morning, Jeriel insisted on room service. It was delivered by Chief Agent Adams.
“Good morning, I would bet that the Eggs Benedict is yours, Jeriel and Mark, you probably have the pancakes and eggs,” the FBI agent said as he handed out the breakfast plates.
“Mark, this is Chief Agent Adams of the FBI. Agent Adams, as you know, this is Mark Lombarski,” Jeriel said calmly as he placed his food at the table. “Mark, could you please let me talk to him alone? There are 14 other agents outside that would enjoy joining you for breakfast.”
Once Mark was assured his friend would be safe, he took his plate and juice and left.
“Jeriel, you probably know why I’m here,” Agent Adams said as he pulled up a chair next to him.
Jeriel wanted to say in one long breath, “After the attempted kidnapping in which you arrested all seven of the Iraqians at their headquarters at 3:02 yesterday afternoon, the FBI has decided that I’m a risk to national security and you want to take me into custody immediately, using force if necessary. I also know the holes in your current execution of code blue-48 and can easily escape. And one more thing, you have a very painful case of bladder calculi, i.e. bladder stones.”
But instead of showing too much of his hand, he simply said, “yes.”
Jeriel waited till he knew Mark was safe in the hotel’s restaurant then he dropped his napkin towards the FBI agent. He bent down pretending to pick it up. Jeriel quickly grabbed Adams’s crotch, and squeezed. With his other hand, he covered the man’s scream. It didn’t take long for Agent Adams to pass out from the pain. Adams never expected a low blow from Jeriel, which is why he did it.
Jeriel quickly went to his suitcase, put on tattered clothes, placed a long haired wig under a big baseball hat, glued on the fake mustache and walked into the adjoining room that he had also rented. He exited through that room’s front door and walked to a second rental car. He was prepared because he knew the FBI would do this, that’s the way they operate, he just didn’t know when or where. From that day, every place he went, he had a planned escape route.
As Jeriel walked around the executive’s empty house, he was tired of hiding and he also knew that the owner may return earlier since he and his girlfriend were fighting. Tomorrow would be Sunday. Jeriel knew the FBI would be at every church in the bay area, forcing him to break his promise to his minister. Jeriel missed his life that he worked so hard for. He started thinking about Cindy and her laugh and how sometimes she would laugh so hard, she snorted; He thought of Mark, how he uncontrollably blushed when he talked to attractive women. He knew they were concerned about him as well as his parents. He realized his hiding was painful for all of them. And it was then that he was aware that they would be taken into custody by the FBI until he showed up. This was code red-48. But it had not happened yet. Not till Sunday, after church services.
Jeriel sat in the fully leather club chair and closed his eyes. He concentrated on his deep breaths, relaxed his tongue and when he became fully calm, he thought of his friends and family. He concentrated on each one, one at a time. It only took three minutes and then he opened his eyes that were now filled with tears. He slowly got up and started cleaning up any evidence he had been there in the stranger’s house.
It was Saturday night. Usually Jeriel and Cindy would have been out dancing and trying new restaurants but tonight, he planned to be home. He walked through the front door of his apartment and saw his best friend, who was nervously alone. Mark quickly turned and blushed when he saw Jeriel.
“Oh man, it’s you! You scared me.” Mark cried out, rushing forward and hugging him. “I thought I’d never see you again, dude.”
“I missed you too. I even missed this dirty apartment,” Jeriel held on to his friend, remembering the male bonding rule of patting each other on the back.
Mark let go and walked towards the kitchen, “It’s so good to see you, Jer. Is everything okay now? I mean, I don’t even know what’s going on around here. Hey, let me get you a cup of your disgusting green tea.”
“Mark,” Jeriel followed him, “it’s okay. I know.”
“What are you talking about? It’s just…it’s not…oh God, of course you do.” Mark broke into tears, leaning on a chair for support. Jeriel moved towards him to help.
“No, stop!” Mark put his hand out, “don’t. Don’t make this harder. I’m so sorry, man. I’m so sorry.” He wiped his eyes and nose with the sleeve of his shirt. “They told me that you are a danger to the whole country. I mean, they even tried to tell me that you were a spy. C’mon.” Mark sucked in loudly and continued, “They have…they’ve taken away everyone: my mom, dad, your mom and dad, even Cindy. They said I’m the only one that can talk you into turning yourself in. They promised to free everyone. What was I suppose to do?”
After pausing, he yelled at his friend, “You’ve always got the answers. WHAT AM I SUPPOSE TO DO?” He started to calm down, “Please, Jer, please tell me.” Mark’s tears ran down his face.
Jeriel put his arm around the best friend he ever had. “It’s not your fault, Mark. It’s okay. Everything is going to be okay. You’re right. I do have the answers and that’s why I’m here. Now, go get the gun the FBI gave you.”
“Wh…what?” Mark looked up, “I’m not going to kill you. I’d kill myself first.”
Jeriel walked over to the silverware drawer and pulled out the Glock 45 handgun. Holding it out to his shaking friend, he said, “Take it. Don’t worry, the safety is on. I don’t want you to shoot me. I want you to hit me over the head with it.”
“Oh c’mon, Jer, what’s going on here?”
“Mark, trust me. I want you to strike me right here on the side of my head with the butt of the gun. You have to hit me hard. Don’t worry, it won’t kill me. Just make sure you hit this exact spot.”
Mark slowly took the gun, looking confused. “I’ve always trusted you and you have this gift for knowing everything but what happens if I miss?”
“Hurry, my friend, this apartment is bugged and they are right now racing across the street. Just remember, right here is where you hit me.” He pointed above his temple, keeping his finger there.
“But Jer, you don’t know the future. You don’t know what will happen. I can’t.” Just then Mark turned towards the front door as he heard footsteps rushing up the stairs.
“Mark, please. You’ve got to do it now!”
The door kicked open and agents burst in, pointing their guns at Mark. One yelled, “Stop!”
Mark turned to Jeriel and was surprised to see a confused look on his face, something he had not seen in a long time. Nevertheless, he swung and struck his best friend across his head. Just as Jeriel started to black out, he heard a gun fire.
When Jeriel first regained consciousness, he noticed how sore his butt was and then the pain in his arms and legs followed. He struggled to open his eyes against the brightness of the room.
“He’s awake!” he heard his mother’s outburst then many more joined in, some with hilarity, some with sobs, and many with praises to God about a miracle.
“How’s Mark?” Jeriel managed to whisper with dry, cracked lips.
“I’m here. Been here the whole time, Jer.” He was a blurred figure that walked towards him. Then another indistinct person stepped in front of the other and stood against the bed.
“Wait a minute, you don’t know about Mark’s condition? You telling me you don’t know Mark was shot?” That was the voice of Agent Adams. Jeriel hoped he was a forgiving man since he was quite vulnerable in this hospital bed to the agent, being connected to many tubes.
Jeriel paused then smiled, “I…I don’t.”
Silence filled the room.
“I was shot in the arm but I’m fine now. Did you really lose your powers?” Mark said in a soft, embarrassed voice.
“It doesn’t matter. The main thing is that you are alive and finally awake. You’ve been in a coma for four months, babe.” Cindy leaned over and kissed him passionately, despite his bad breath and chapped lips.
“You owe your recovery to yourself,” Dr. Pederson stepped forward. “Cindy gave me the letter you mailed her about treating coma patients. You are the first patient in medical history that has been brought out of a coma by stimulating all five senses at once and with things familiar to you. We played Beatle songs, took turns touching your arms and face, holding your hand, spraying Cindy’s perfume, putting your mother’s cooking on your tongue and we even tried to open your eyes towards the television. We’ll run more tests later but it seems like your theory was correct. We’ll be famous, lad.”
Jeriel smiled weakly. He opened his eyes more and saw his father and mother crying in each other’s arms at the foot of his bed. He looked to his left and there was Pastor Werfelmann nodding with a big grin. He looked towards the front door and a frowning Agent Adams, with crossed arms, was yelling instructions to a nurse.
Dr. Pederson started herding everyone out of the room, “All right, everyone. Let’s not overwhelm him. How about if we leave this special young man alone and give him some time to adjust.” After many hand-squeezes, forehead kisses and promises, his friends and family slowly left.
Jeriel managed one soft “I love you” that he hoped they knew would be for everyone.
The FBI agent was the last one there. He stood over Jeriel’s bed, studying him closely, arms still crossed. “Piece of advice, son: don’t mess with the FBI. We’ll be watching you 24 / 7. We’ll make sure the doctors test every muscle on your body to see if you really lost your power or not. I’ll also bring in our staff psychologists and together we’ll run test after test on you. I’m not letting up until I am 110% sure. So, don’t think for a minute that you can get away with anything. Do we understand each other?” Jeriel nodded once. “Good,” the agent patted Jeriel’s crotch, “sleep tight.”
As Agent Adams limped out of the room, the nurse walked in. “Mr. Scott, you should try and get some sleep. I know you just woke up but you are very weak and we need to take baby-steps.” She closed the blinds and adjusted his pillows.
“May I have some grilled chicken, please?” Jeriel said in a soft voice.
She stopped and looked at him confused, “Uhm, sure.”
“You must have spilled some. I can smell it on your smock and it smells good,” Jeriel turned away from her and closed his eyes.