"MIND TRAP" Part TWO
Ben sat with Joe Peters in the lounge at the Operation Delta Hub, enjoying a cappuccino. As they sat making small talk about new excavations at Sutton Hoo Paul Farraday and Corinne Shaw entered the room.
"Ah Paul and Corinne, meet Joe Peters. Have you got the info on this Max Eastman character that I asked for?" Ben authoritatively asked. Corinne opened up a file:
"Oh yes. Mr Eastman has been known to us for some time. He runs a kind of New Age centre near Swindon. Offers holistic healing, undertakes research in ESP and runs courses in divination, palmistry, the I-Ching and that sort of thing. Seems innocent enough on the surface however there have been complaints made by angry parents that students and other young people have gone missing after attending his courses."
Ben thought for a moment:
"Is there any indication that this is a money-making racket? Or a cult?" Paul looked up:
"Neither. The courses are free and people get paid to take part in the ESP research. Its all on their website here."
Paul handed Ben his top of the range Operation Delta laptop. Ben perused the website:
"Well how the hell does he pay for all of this then? If something seems too good to be true it probably is. Right, the first thing that we need to do Joe is to visit the driver of the car that Lisa was in. Then we will pay Mr Eastman a visit" Ben stated.
"Oh by the way, Shakey Jake has visited Eastman's centre" Corinne said with a wry grin.
"Why am I not surprised" Ben said in an exasperated tone before phoning Jake. A short time later Jake arrived and helped himself to a coffee:
"Hi cats. Just need some caffeine man I had a really heavy night last night. There were these two chicks in the bar...."
"Spare us the details please. Its 2015 not 1969" Ben interrupted, "Just tell us about Eastman's place".
"Hey it was like really far out. The meditation room was really serene and happening. But this really heavy lady tried to stop me getting in. Said I was too old man, can you believe that?"
"Well you are a relic from a bygone age Jake. However that is interesting. They clearly want to attract students and young people to their centre. We need to get in there incognito as visitors. Come on."
Ben drove Joe, Kyle and Katie through the lush countryside of late spring towards Swindon. He let the warm breeze blow through his hair as he listened to Stravinsky's 'Rite of Spring' on the car stereo:
"You know, Emma used to hate this piece of music. Just shows what a poor taste doll it was I married," Ben said, tossing his head back and laughing.
"You seem a lot more upbeat all of a sudden," Katie remarked to him. Ben grinned:
"Well I'm free Katie. I'm going to try and look to the positives. I'm free."
They arrived at Swindon City General and quickly found the ward where Dave Hemming was lying in the end bed near the window. Dave was asleep and Ben approached him. He rattled the bed. Dave roused round:
"Hey... who are you" Dave asked.
"I am Ben Chatham and these are my colleagues apart from Joe here whose ex-girlfriend was the girl you killed in the crash. Could you tell us what happened please?"
Dave tried to sit up and groaned:
"Look I'm really sorry. But she like went crazy, grabbed at me and grabbed the steering wheel. I couldn't do anything."
Joe was angry:
"Yeah right, you're trying to blame it all on Lisa you bastard. I hear you were drunk."
Dave sank back into the pillow:
"Look I ain't gonna lie to you. I was over the limit from the night before okay. I put my hand up to it. But that wasn't why we crashed. I swear to you she went raving mad. I'd just picked her up as a hitcher."
Joe was furious:
"I don't believe that pile of crap. If you weren't in that bed I'd punch your ¤¤¤¤in......."
"Joe calm down. This is not acceptable behaviour in a hospital," Ben interjected, "Thank you Mr Hemmings. Come on, we've work to do."
As they left the ward, Katie sidled up to Joe and whispered:
"You were right to be angry Joe". Joe let her stroke his arm.
Later they were driving down the leafy lane towards Eastman's centre. As they turned a corner they almost his a ragged group of about ten long-haired undergraduates, bearded youths and young girls with flowing dresses and hats.
"Look where you're damn well going" Ben shouted at them. One of the youths grinned:
"Hey dude chill will ya."
"Ere are you lot off to this Eastman centre place?" Kyle asked them.
"Yeah man. We need to cleanse ourselves of the pollution of this sick society. Get healed", a bearded youth with a guitar on his back replied. Ben decided to initiate the subterfuge:
"Oh well thats okay man thats okay. Sorry for being heavy with you man. We're going there too. We need to get pure and free from the dry materialism of society" he stated. A girl approached him:
"Hey thats like really great. See you there honey."
Ben drove on:
"Pretentious bunch. They'll all be bankers and city traders in ten years time." As they turned round another corner they were shocked to see a brick wall stretching right across the road. Ben swerved the car drastically and it shot off the road and into a wooded area......
............to be continued.