About thirty minutes later, Peter and Michelle were pushing open the front doors of the Mississauga Exposé building. The first floor lobby area was a huge space, with a sea of employees walking here and there.
Michelle’s agitated eyes were darting around, spotting all the female heads and hoping to find her mother’s among them. She noticed some of the newly-hired security men walking about, too, but they gave her little reassurance of Siobhan’s safety.
“Oh, where is she?” Michelle asked in a shaky, breathy voice.
“Chances are…she’s upstairs…in her office,” Peter said in pants.
“Yeah, but sometimes…Mom comes down here…to chat…with her employees…about something,” Michelle panted, her head always shifting from left to right and back again, tirelessly trying to find Siobhan. “And sometimes…she leaves the building…on an errand. If she’s about to do that, I don’t want…to miss her…as she walks out the door.”
“I’ll tell you what,” he said. “You keep looking…among these people, if that’s what you want to do; I’ll go ask…the receptionist…if she knows where your mom is.”
“OK, thanks, Peter.” He left Michelle as she looked around, especially by the front doors. “Where are you, Mom?”
Peter reached the receptionist after fighting his way through the crowd; her desk was way off at the back of the lobby. You’d think her desk would be closer to the front doors, he thought.
“Hello,” she said. “How can I help you?”
“Yes,” he said. “I need to talk to…Siobhan Buchanan.”
“Do you have an appointment?” the receptionist asked.
“N-no, but this is urgent,” he said. “Her daughter, Michelle, needs to talk to her. I’m Michelle’s boyfriend.”
“Where’s Michelle? She’s free to see her mom whenever she wants, but unless I see her confirming you’re with her, I can’t let you see Siobhan. There are fears of security breaches. This may surprise you, but there are actually possible death threats against her.”
“Oh, I know all about that,” he said, finally catching his breath. “That’s why we want to talk to her.”
“And that’s why we have to be careful with anyone who can’t be vouched for,” the receptionist said. “Sorry.”
“W-wait–Michelle is with me. I’ll go get her.”
Peter looked around behind him, but Michelle was nowhere to be seen among all those people walking about in the lobby.
He left the receptionist’s desk and slipped back into the crowd to find Michelle. The jostling people were making it difficult for him to return to the front door area.
Finally, when he got to a clearing of the people, he heard Michelle shouting, “Mom! Wait, it’s me, Michelle! I wanna talk to you! Peter, I found her!”
Siobhan was approaching Michelle with two security men walking on either side of her, their eyes always on everyone else in the lobby. Peter raced over to stand beside Michelle.
When Siobhan was three or four feet away from Michelle and Peter, she and the two men stopped walking.
“What is it, sweetie?” she asked. “Why do you and Peter look so agitated? What’s wrong?”
“We–I mean, I just saw an assassin shoot two women–carriers of The Splits in the ladies room in the Northeast Mall just now,” Michelle said. “What Peter told me is true. You’re in danger.”
“Well, that’s what I have these security men here for,” her mother said. “As you can see, they’re watching the whole area like hawks, and I have others in the lobby looking out for me and on the other floors of the building. Remember that I’m not the only one in danger from those hired assassins. Many, if not most, of the employees here had The Splits, and the assassins will be after them, too.”
“Yes, well…I just wanna be with you, Mom,” Michelle said in a trembling voice. “I’m afraid for you. If something happens to you, I wanna be there.” A tear ran down her cheek.
“That’s very sweet of you, Michelle, but I should be OK with these two men here,” Siobhan said. “Now, we have to get going. I have an important meeting to chair in ten minutes in North York. I’m going to be late as it is. I can’t stay and chat. I’ll see you tonight at home. Bye.”
“No, Mom, please!” Michelle sobbed as she saw her mom walk past with the men. “Let me go with you.”
“Sweetie, I’ll be OK,” Siobhan said. “Don’t slow me down. I’m in a hurry.”
“I won’t slow you down, Mom.” Michelle ran over with Peter in front of Siobhan. “Just let me go with you.”
They were all by the front doors now.
“Do you have your own transportation?” Siobhan asked, gently moving Michelle to the side. “If Peter didn’t bring his car, we won’t have enough room in mine for him, you, and my two men here.”
Just outside the front doors was a familiar man with his right hand inside his blazer and his left inside his left pants pocket. Siobhan’s daughter is with her again, he thought. But she isn’t in the way of my line of fire this time. I may have to upset her daughter after all.
“Oh, your car is big enough,” Peter said. “We should all be able to squeeze in.”
Siobhan opened one of the doors. “Oh, this is getting ridiculous,” she said. “With us all squished in like that, it will be awkward and uncomfortable. You worry too much, Michelle.”
The man was standing right in front of Siobhan.
“Mom, please,” Michelle sobbed. “For my peace of mind,–“
The man began slowly pulling his pistol out of its holster in his blazer. The other hand was fumbling with a small can of bug spray in his pants pocket.
The security men’s eyes widened at the sight of the emerging pistol. They reached for theirs.
“I’ll tell you what,” Peter said. “I won’t go. That’ll leave some room in your car, Ms. Bucha–“
The man fired a bullet in Siobhan’s chest.
“Mom!” Michelle screamed.
Peter was so shocked, he almost lost his balance, barely keeping himself from falling.
The can of bug spray fell out of the assassin’s fumbling fingers and dropped to the ground.
The dots of light flew out of Siobhan’s body as she fell to the ground. They also flew out of the hands of the two security men, who no longer needed their pistols.
Those lights entered every inch of the assassin’s body, as others flew in from other nearby carriers both inside and outside the building. He dropped his gun.
Gunshots from other assassins in the area killed a few other carriers, but the other assassins were no more adept at getting out their cans of bug spray than Siobhan’s killer was.
Swarms of light dots were flying into the bodies of the other killers. With Schadenfreude, Peter watched the tearing-up of their bodies as his eyes moved around the area to see the whole spectacle; but Michelle, her eyes flooding with tears as she held her mother’s bloodied body in her arms, focused on the ripping-up of her mother’s assassin’s body.
Yeah, aliens, she thought as she wept, tear that bastard to pieces. Go, aliens, go. You have my sympathy now.
The remaining aliens inside Siobhan’s body were giving her temporary extra life, just enough to let her communicate with Michelle one last time.
“Michelle,” she gasped after coughing out some blood. “Now, you know…who your enemies…are. Fight…them…with us.”
“Yes, Mom,” Michelle sobbed. “I’ll do it for you.”
“No,” Siobhan panted. “Not…for me. For…the world.”
“Mom, don’t die. Can’t the aliens heal you?”
“No….It’s OK, sweetie. Let me go. It’s for…the cause.”
Her body flopped down and stopped moving.
Michelle screamed a mix of grief and rage. She reached for the gun of the assassin, whose body was tearing out of its suit and exposing his brain, heart, lungs, stomach, intestines, and thigh muscles. The widening and narrowing of those huge tear-holes in his body persisted long enough for her to point his gun at his heart; but before she had time to pull the trigger, his body blew to pieces, spraying his blood everywhere, soaking her and Peter in red.
“Eww, God,” he grunted, then looked over at her. “I’m so sorry, Michelle.” He put his arms around her. She hugged him back, bawling hoarsely.
The security men felt the lights fly back into their bodies. They looked around at all the screaming people, obviously non-carriers.
“We won’t be able to hide this,” one of the two said. “We’ll have to accelerate our plans.”
“The news media and governments can no longer pretend this is all just a conspiracy theory, either,” the other man said. “They’ll be accelerating their plans, too. Get ready for a war. A global one.”