False in Some Sense

Clap If You Believe; Chapter 6

Sunday, April 5, 2009, and throughout the following month

Agatha, Michael, and Katrina’s friends arrive at the hospital. Agent Sklar spots them and takes them aside, saying that visitors are not welcome at this time due to quarantine, but everyone has been quarantined for radiation sickness. He says that he will keep everyone updated on the situation. After hearing this, Michael drives Agatha home and then goes home himself.

Once Agatha is home, she looks up radiation sickness symptoms online, just to make certain that she is up to speed. Once she looks downstairs and sees that all the plastic is still in place in the basement, she packs a bag and decides to stay at the “Lake House” until things calm down.

Meanwhile, Chuck, Elena, Katrina, and the Pucketts are in the hospital, treated by doctors wearing Hazmat suits. The next day during the day, Agent Sklar visits them, explaining that he does not know when they will be released, though he estimates at least a month. They ask what happened to Paul, and he explains that he just needed to be disinfected, and was released. They also ask what happened to Duke, and he says that he never encountered Duke, so that he supposes that he should be on the lookout for a radioactive chimp. He also indicates that in addition to cleanup and evacuations, this is the week that the divers should dredge the lake. So, busy, busy.

The week passes quietly until Thursday, when Agent Sklar returns to give an update. He says that a scientist from New York came to help with the effort, and managed to keep the fish docile by the use of electricity. They managed to catch some, and found human remains inside. They have not yet received the results of the DNA test, but he suspects that it’s Johnny. Otherwise, he just checks to see how everyone is doing and proceed along his way.

As he proceeds to leave, there is a slight commotion in the hallway, just before an older gentleman wearing a suit and glasses enters. Agent Sklar recognizes him as the scientist who arrived to help with the carnivorous fish, and he seems fairly surprised that he is not wearing a Hazmat suit. The gentleman explains that this is because he checked the site and found that it is no longer radioactive. He pulls a Geiger counter out of his black bag and proceeds to display the same fact about the hospitalized group, much to everyone’s surprise. Introductions are made, revealing the elderly gentleman as Dr. Ebenezer Zirpoli from New York City. He also recognizes Katrina’s accent as being in the vicinity of St. Petersburg, and when she introduces herself, he asks if she is the daughter of Anatoly Kournikova with the GRU. She replies that, yes, that is her father, though he did not work with the GRU. He nods thoughtfully.

Once Agent Sklar indicates that these people have been helping him with his case, Dr. Zirpoli answers their questions. When they ask about the fish, he explains that his system uses sound waves and electricity to interfere with their lateral line system, thereby keeping them under control. He does not, however, recognize the species, though he hopes to do a little research. He then examines everyone and gives them a relatively clean bill of health, saying that they should recover without any of the nasty radiation poisoning symptoms, as they only received a small dose. He adds that Elena should be recovered in time for the promenade. Chuck and Elena, however, notice that he seems to have a note of distaste in his gaze and voice when referring to the Pucketts. Before he leaves, Chuck and Katrina ask for contact information, and he gives his card to everyone. He explains that he will likely return to New York before long, but that he will still accept phone calls and whatnot. He then leaves.

Once it is established that everyone is not radioactive and should recover nicely, visitors are allowed. Friday sees Elena’s parents arrive, as well as Paul, Michael, Katrina’s friends and family, and some assorted coworkers and friends. Katrina apologizes to her family, and says that she will call and explain this to her mother. Michael indicates that he will drive them to the airport tomorrow.

Jim Soldati also comes to visit, explaining that everything should be cleaned up, and that he has been reassigned. He is, however, reasonably certain that their paths may cross again some day. He displays surprise at learning that Puckett has returned, but does not inquire further. He then takes his leave.

Agent Sklar also visits, giving the bad news that the remains have been positively identified as Johnny Page’s remains. Elena is shaken, and tends to become somewhat withdrawn after hearing this.

William Puckett also contacts Action 5 news to explain what he knows about the radiation incident. When an interviewer comes down, the drugged William begins to rant about the things going on in the town. The interviewer thanks him and takes his leave.

After everyone is moved to separate rooms, Katrina calls Dr. Zirpoli to ask him about her father. He merely explains that he was detained in 1987 — likely because he was a foreigner with U.S. military ties — and met Anatoly Kournikova in his capacity as a GRU agent. He says he does not know much more, but he can give Katrina something to research — Project Kupala. She thanks him for the information, and the two indicate that they very well may speak in the future.

Katrina also calls her mother, largely to explain about the radiation leak. She says that she should be fine, and she hopes to return home soon, though she does not know how soon. She also explains that she met someone who knew her father, just as an aside. Her mother wishes her well and says that she is excited at the prospect of seeing her soon.

Chuck also calls Dr. Zirpoli, asking him if he made the radiation go away. Dr. Zirpoli explains that such is quite a silly proposition, but the note of irony in his voice tells Chuck all he needs to know. Likewise, he asks about the note of distaste with which he regarded Puckett. After saying that he is not entirely certain what he should do with the information, he tells Chuck that Puckett killed Johnny. He further explains, however, that there is no murder weapon to link Puckett to the crime, indicating that either that must be found, or a confession must be achieved. Chuck asks if he learned that through forensics, to which Dr. Zirpoli gives an affirmative reply that is still rather ironic. He leaves it at the fact that they both know things that other men do not, and when Chuck asks if he may contact him in the future about things that he and his group encounter, Dr. Zirpoli says that he may. The two then part on amicable terms.

A little later in the week, Elena’s parents tell her that the Pages left a package for her, apparently from Johnny. She asks if they could deliver it, and they do, leaving a big box with a note on it. She opens it after they leave, finding a letter that explains what is in the big box. It continues to explain that he has his notes he was compiling for a book he hoped to write on serial killers, as well as a homemade first aid kit and a briefcase containing a kukri, and two squirt pistols. One contains LSD, the other contains drain cleaner, and there are instructions on how to mix more solution. Having been left alone, Elena weeps while she reads the letter and looks through the supplies.

Save for the occasional visitor, the remaining month goes quietly for everyone, until their release in early May.



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