another chat with Donaldson
“So basically, you’re telling me that this day has been repeating itself over and over?” There was no mistaking the skepticism in Donaldson’s voice, written all over his face. “But wouldn’t I remember?”
“No one else seems to, either,” Max told him as they continued explaining the events of their last four visits. “Not even Sheriff Boggs, and we’ve met him more times than anybody else here.”
As the Maximum sailed toward Adnan’s, they explained the situation to Donaldson in greater detail.
“You don’t remember getting killed last time, either, do you?” Justin pointed out.
“You see, there’s always this robbery at a store in St Lucy,” Shades filled in the blanks, “and if we don’t interfere, it ends with people getting killed. One of them always comes out here to hide out or something, and ends up killing you.”
“You’re serious, aren’t you?” Donaldson looked as if someone just stepped on his grave.
“This time, we made an anonymous call to the police before we left St Lucy,” Max assured him, “so they should be able to stop it this time around.”
“This time…” Donaldson was still trying to wrap his head around this whole scenario. “I just can’t believe this is happening.”
“To you, it was just today,” Shades explained, relieved that Donaldson was buying enough of their account to hopefully make it far enough to find more tangible evidence, “just as it is for everyone else around here.”
“But you came from outside…” Donaldson thought about that for a moment. “If that’s really the case, then that would explain why they were in such a hurry to leave at the end…” Though he still didn’t completely buy this, he would be lying to himself if he didn’t admit he was at least intrigued by it. “But how is it even possible for them to do this?”
“That’s what we’re going to find out,” Max told him with grim determination.
In addition to a coat better suited to the weather in a couple other odds and ends, they also rigged up and towed Donaldson’s boat along with them. They had every intention of leaving the realm of St Lucy the moment they managed to stop Project Pythagoras, so if they succeeded, Donaldson would need his own way to depart Adnan’s Island.
“Shouldn’t we tell the people back in St Lucy?” Donaldson suggested, wondering what they would think about it.
“No, I’m pretty sure it would be a waste of time,” Shades replied. “We don’t have any proof they would accept, so I doubt they’d believe us anyway.”
“And don’t forget about Sheriff Boggs,” Justin reminded them darkly.
“Yes, Boggs would definitely try to stop us,” Donaldson agreed. “I’m pretty sure he’s on Camcron’s hush-money, so he’s got too much to lose if this gets out.”
“The biggest irony,” Shades remarked, remembering their confrontation with from him the previous time, “is that he doesn’t even realize that he’s a victim, too.”
“You really didn’t know about all this, did you?” This whole conversation was starting to make Justin feel bad about what he had said before. But still, “Then why did you try to talk us into going out there anyway?”
“I’ll admit that I must have tempted you,” Donaldson admitted, finding it strange to hear about his potential intentions being played out without even having to do it, “but I was only curious. I would never have imagined anything like this was going on… To be honest, I was afraid they might be doing something dangerous, like weapons or toxic chemicals or something, but then they left. I figured if they were building anything dangerous in there, they probably took it with them. But from what you say, it sounds like the experiment’s still going, isn’t it?”
“Sure looks like it,” Max agreed.
“I see.” Justin nodded.
“And now I know I was right about one thing.” Donaldson stared fiercely at Adnan’s looming in the distance. And on it, a particular building. Found that, the closer they got to the island, the more plausible all of this started to sound as he remembered the way the Institute research staff and their bribed puppets were behaving toward the end… “That lousy Director Grady was up to something, and now that I’m here, I’m going to find out what. I’m going to help you stop this thing.”
“Whatever it is,” Shades mused darkly.
The island itself seemed to pose some grim challenge to them as they arrived.