Lying low, John and Bo monitored all traffic heading in and out of the villa, keeping alert to see if anyone detected their presence. Much to their surprise, no one seemed aware to their presence at all. It gave a reason to hope that maybe the infinite supply of cash to fund the Dimera’s security systems was finally running low and the cuts were working in their favor.
It seemed that the majority of personnel going in and out were using golf cart type vehicles. Each man resembled the typical Dimera goon: brooding, dark, large, and heavily-armed. No sign of any Dimeras yet, which wasn’t surprising. It could be that this was a prison island and Stefano or his family rarely visited. However, one could bet that if Marlena was on this island, Stefano would be coming personally.
Near dusk, the door opened and the individual exiting got their attention. First, he wasn’t on a cart at all, but on foot. He appeared to have no gun, but did have a backpack and what looked liked a medical bag. His physical appearance also differed from the men John and Bo had seen entering and exiting the villa. He was young, perhaps in his late twenties, with a fair complexion and medium build. The young man walked near them and then turned to a footpath on their same side.
Silently, John and Bo looked at each other, in silent agreement. Their guts told them that following the young man was worth leaving their post for.
He was not easy to follow; they didn’t want him to hear them nor trigger any alarms that might still be out there. Too afraid to walk on the main pathway, they kept to the side and a safe distance back. The hopeful feeling in John’s gut began to disappear the further they walked. After awhile he began to worry they were being led away and into a trap. Trying to stay alert, John was glad he and Bo had eaten those protein bars to keep their strength up.
After nearly half an hour, the man reached his destination, a large, rundown silo. John exchanged a look of surprise with Bo. There was a light by the door but darkness had finally fallen, making it hard to spot any video cameras that might be stationed around the structure.
They watched the man gain entry via an electric keypad, alerting them there was some form of security there. What could be behind that door?
John turned to Bo, letting his anxiousness take over his logic and said, “I think this is where Marlena is!”
“What?” Keeping his voice low, Bo shook his head, “C’mon, John. That doesn’t make sense. Why go through all this and put her up in a run down shack with no guards in sight?”
“There is security on that door, Bo. Dimera must have something he wants hidden there.”
“Oh, I’m sure,” Bo answered, “but something he wants hidden and something he wants for himself are two different things. I hate to say it, but you know if he kidnapped Marlena, it isn’t to hide her here.”
The truth in Bo’s statement made John’s gut churn. Dimera’s obsession with Marlena had always disgusted him; it had become less about his vendetta against the Bradys and more about his obsession with her over the years. Glancing around, John still felt there was something in that silo that they needed to get to.
“I still want to know what this place is. Who is that man and what’s with the medical bag?” John wondered.
Bo nodded; he too suddenly had an urge to know what was going on behind that door. But the fact that they were rather far away from the villa now with no guards and the general decay of the building itself led him to believe that this area was the first to suffer from Dimera’s possible budget cuts.
“Look, I’m here for you. If you think we should head in there, I’ll back you. If you want to turn around and head back to the villa, I’ll do that too.”
John thought seriously about turning around and going back. There was no real reason to care about this particular part of the island. However, John trusted his instincts, and instinct told him Dimera was behind Marlena’s kidnapping. His instinct had led him to turn their boat in this direction without knowing an island would wind up near their path. Now instinct was telling him to head into the silo.
John told Bo to get ready for when the man came out of the door. Each man prepared, feeling foolish their basic plan was to simply storm the door as soon as the guy opened it. It would probably get them inside but if anyone was in there or the location was being monitored remotely, they would be dooming their mission for sure.
About 20 minutes later the door opened. John and Bo took off and slammed themselves into the young guy who was completely taken by surprise. Pushing him in was no trouble, and they slammed the door behind them.
What lay inside was not what they expected at all.
The silo was two rooms. They stood in the first one now, a crescent shaped foyer. TV monitors lined the walls but they were turned off, suggesting that no one was monitoring this station anymore. A couple of maps of the area were also taped to the wall but what got their attention was the other room.
Large hospital equipment sat around a large scale bed covered in mosquito netting. In the evening gloom, it was difficult to make out what else was in there.
John and Bo turned their attention to the young man, who looked terrified of his attackers. John felt a weird sense of deja vu with the guy but didn’t have time for it. Giving him his best intimidation stare, he demanded, “What is this place? Where are we?”
The man shook his head and Bo thought he probably didn’t speak English. That didn’t stop John from continuing to ask him questions. The guy kept shaking his head ‘no’ but there were tears in his eyes. John grabbed the guy’s backpack and began looking through it while the young man actually trembled.
As John began cursing out loud that they probably made a mistake, Bo walked towards the bed. There was an odor to the room that told him everything had been here a long time. The thick cobwebs told him that as well. He heard John telling him to come back, that they didn’t’ know what could be in that room but Bo had never had a larger urge to look in his life.
He reached the bed, his heart beating wildly.
“John, someone is in this bed.” Bo’s mouth had run dry.
Pulling back the curtain, Bo looked. The face was hard to make out with all the facial hair on the person. But one detail was too obvious to miss… a large patch over the left eye.
“My God…” Bo said.
John heard Bo’s cry. It took him completely by surprise.
Bo didn’t say anything nor did he turn around and look at John, he just continued to stare at the bed.
Thinking the victim in the bed had been a part of some disturbing experiment, John angrily grabbed the young man and pushed him into the room. Keeping his gun on him he said, “What is going on here?”
John didn’t know who this guy was that was working for Dimera, but he was so opposite the usual type personal that surrounded the old Italian that John wondered if maybe the guy was a victim himself of some kind. Asking again, John said, “Who is in that bed?!”
Bo answered, “John, look!”
Trapping the other man into the corner so he couldn’t get away, John finally turned and looked at the person in the bed. Upon seeing the patch on his face, all cohesive thought left John.
“What? That isn’t…” John stammered. He even lowered his weapon. There was no way that was Steve Johnson lying in that bed. He was dead and they had buried him! This was impossible!
Walking closer, John pulled back the netting on the other side so he could get a closer look but he didn’t touch anything. The man lying there was in a coma-like state. He had wires and cables hooked up to him. The machines around him consisted of a feeding tube, a heart monitoring device and something else. That something else was a large machine that ran straight to connectors on this guy’s head. John had no idea what it could be, but his first guess was it looked electromagnetic.
The man’s features no doubt were exactly like that of Steve Johnson. The patch was in just the right place and the man had blond hair. Whoever he was, the beard had grown long by now but had been kept trimmed about two inches past his chin. The face, what John could see of the face, looked just like Steve from 16 years ago. Too much like him, in fact. If Steve had been alive all this time, no way he could have aged that well.
Remembering that he and Bo weren’t the only ones in the room, John turned back to the other man. He still was cowering in the corner but was watching them with a curious interest. John noticed this but put it out of his mind. All of what they found here had not made him forget Marlena; finding a guy who might look like an old dead friend would not keep him from his goal of saving her.
“What’s going on here?” John demanded again. “I want you to tell us!”
The blond man shook his head while wiping away tears. John didn’t get it, what was with this guy? He was just about to march over to him and grab him by the shirt when Bo answered, “Don’t you see, John! It’s Steve!”
For the first time John turned his attention to Bo. He saw Bo’s face was filled with tears of joy and relief. Realizing that Bo believed wholeheartedly that Steve Johnson not only had been alive this whole time, but in Stefano’s care, scared John a great deal.
“Bo, you can’t believe that is really Steve!”
Now it was Bo’s turn to notice John’s reaction to the man in front of them. The doubt on John’s face was all too evident. Bo didn’t know where to start. “How you can believe it isn’t? Look at him!”
“Bo, you know very well we buried Steve like…” John had to calculate in his head, “almost sixteen years ago! You and Kay were there when he died! We buried him!”
“So what?” Bo was downright crying now. John was right, it did sound crazy but the guy in front of him was Steve and Bo knew it! “What happened needs answers I know, but you and I both know that people we thought were dead have come back! Look at Hope! Look at Marlena!”
John walked over to Bo, gently taking his shoulders. “That was different; we didn’t bury their actual bodies. We never actual saw their dead bodies. It’s not possible… ”
“I thought Carly was dead,” Bo said it so softly that John almost didn’t hear him. Sucking in his breath, he remembered how Carly had been buried alive thanks to Vivian Alamain. A woman who may or may not have been John’s aunt.
Allowing himself to think of all the crazy events that had happened in their history made John nearly start laughing. This was just insane! All of it. Taking a step back from Bo, John leaned against a nearby table and rubbed his face. He had thought coming in here might be a mistake, but he never envisioned anything like this.
Bo walked over to Steve and reached up to the cables that ran to Steve. For the first time, the other man got very excited and ran to Bo to stop him. It was all Bo could do to not hit the guy. How dare he stop him from trying to free Steve from this prison? Oddly, the man didn’t say anything, he was gesturing wildly for Bo to be careful and step away.
Now it was Bo’s turn question the man. “You seem to understand what we are saying. Why won’t you talk to us? What did you do to him?!”
John had to hold Bo back now as the idea that Steve had been hooked up all this years and this man was partly responsible began overriding Bo’s ability to hold back. Studying the younger man, John saw legitimate concern in his eyes. Whoever he was, he seemed to care for this person in the bed.
Now the man tried to speak to them both and said a few words but they came out difficult to understand. He then gestured quickly what appeared to be sign language. John’s eyes grew large at the realization of who this man could be. This made the second bigger than life shock for John that day.
“Benjy?” Bo repeated the name. Remembering John’s recent story about him, Bo looked at the man that stood before them. Bo had only met Benjy twice. Once at Steve and Kayla’s second wedding when Steve surprised Kayla with his visit, and then the last time at Steve’s funeral about two months later. The man certainly passed the resemblance test.
Immediately he started signing while John and Bo stood helpless to understand him. The younger man realized this and sighed in frustration. He looked around the room for his backpack, then headed into the other room. Bo watched him go, wide-eyed with surprise that John had let the guy go. But one look at his friend explained it. John looked shell-shocked. Maybe it was finally sinking in that Steve was alive.
Benjy returned with paper and a pen. Sitting down at the nearby table he began writing.
Walking up behind him, Bo tried to read over his shoulder but Benjy’d body blocked Bo’s view of the paper. He kept writing for a long time, and Bo forced himself to walk past him and back to Steve. Careful not to touch the wires, he pulled down Steve’s shirt to reveal the dagger tattoo. Glancing up, he saw John watching him, and Bo kept from saying out loud ‘I told you so’.
Benjy tugged Bo’s sleeve, catching him by surprise. He held out the paper and spoke aloud in a rusty voice. “Read.”
Bo took it and read it to John.
Yes, I am Benjy, the child you knew who lived with Steve and Kayla for a time. I swear the man in the bed is Steve Johnson who, as you can see, did not die years ago.
There isn’t a lot of time to explain, they are expecting me back anytime. I must leave to let them know everything is okay. I can read lips so you can speak to me freely.
You can’t just unhook Steve from the machines. If it was that easy, I would have done so a long time ago. There is a procedure, one that I don’ t know about.
I have prayed all these years for a chance like this. With you here now, I have something in mind that we can do but I need your help. We can wake up Steve safely and we will have our friend back.
Are you willing?
After he was done reading, without hesitation Bo answered, “Yes.”
Bo was shocked when John disagreed, “Wait a minute.”
“WAIT A MINUTE?”
Sighing, John tried to explain, “Bo, again, I don’t know what’s going on, but how can we trust him? He’s been living with the Dimeras for how long? Hell, he is a Dimera; Stefano is his father.”
John walked over to Benjy so he could clearly see his face. He spoke slowly, “How do we know you won’t turn us in? Or even come back?”
A hurt look appeared on Benjy’s face. The man hadn’t considered they wouldn’t trust him after they knew who he was. He pointed at his watch which John took to mean that he didn’t have much time.
John didn’t care, feeling like they had already given away their presence. He repeated, “How can we trust you?”
Benjy turned back to the paper to write some more but John turned him back around to look him in the eyes; he didn’t want to sit here and read. He wanted to know.
“I love him.” Benjy said. The words were difficult to make out, but the tears in Benjy’s eyes were unmistakable.
John looked over at Bo, who had turned his attention back to Steve. Sighing, John knew it was too late to leave this person; in fact he wasn’t sure he wanted to. He could admit it was possible that this man was Steve, and that was enough to help him.
Looking back at Benjy, John sighed and said, “So what’s this plan?”
John and Bo lay waiting after Benjy left, the plan explained to them. John sat in the darkened corner of the room, behind some rather old equipment big enough to hide them, and wondered if Benjy was tricking them. A few minutes ago John believed whole-heartedly that this young man truly cared for the man he tended, but now, sitting in the dusty darkness, he began to have doubts.
John remembered the young, deaf boy that Steve and Kayla had nearly adopted. He was such a sweet kid, one who was horrified when he realized the true monster that his real father was. How did he come here to live with Stefano? How long had he known about Steve? If John’s worries were correct and the man lying in the hospital bed was not Steve, perhaps this was the ploy that Dimera used to keep Benjy in line.
He and Bo were squeezed closely together and neither had spoken since Benjy had left. There wasn’t much to say. Hopefully they were doing the right thing and not being played into a trap. Benjy didn’t give them a lot of information, but in a new letter he wrote that a doctor was employed on the island and if Benjy detected any issues he was to retrieve him. This had happened a few times over the years and the young man was confident of the procedure. The doctor would slowly pull Steve, or the man who looked like Steve, out of the coma to a near state of consciousness. He then would feed him drugs that needed to be administered while awake. The plan was for John and Bo to stop the doctor before administrating the drugs and Steve should, in theory, wake up eventually on his own.
Only two problems worried Benjy. The first was the more immediate. The doctor never came alone; a guard would escort them both back here. The guard usually waited outside so Bo and John would have to take care of him too without the goon alerting anyone back at the villa.
The other issue was actually more disturbing because Benjy had no idea how long it would take for Steve to come out of the coma properly. It could take hours they did not have. It was a risky situation and John knew it was threatening their whole reason for being here. Yet, looking at the poor man in the bed, John’s sympathy went out to him. If this person was Steve Johnson, he more than deserved to be rescued.
Bo, on the other hand, had no doubts to the identity of the man. Bo was completely convinced he was Steve. While waiting on the next phase of the plan to be carried out, Bo thought about what it meant that Steve was alive; had been all this time.
Kayla had lived as a widow for so long. She did have that brief affair with Shane which convinced her she could never move on after Steve. There was little dating as Kayla focused on her daughter and career. Thinking about Kayla being lonely all this time upset Bo.
Thinking of Stephanie made Bo even angrier. The daughter that never knew her father, Stephanie, craved stories about Steve. Whenever Bo came to visit her there would be asked all sorts of questions. Kayla tended to give Stephanie the PG rated version of Steve, and Stephanie sensed that. She wanted to hear some of the racier stuff her dad got into and Bo tended to oblige, much to Kayla’s frustration.
Now that Steve was alive, hopefully once they got out of here, Stephanie would meet her father while Kayla could stop mourning the husband she lost sixteen years ago. The thought of being able to tell Kayla that her husband was alive fueled Bo’s desire to hurry and get out as fast as possible. Yet, he had to remind himself several times that they couldn’t leave without Marlena too.
Footsteps outside told Bo and John that Benjy was back with the doctor. The door opened and light filtered into the two rooms. The doctor walked in first, followed by Benjy. . The doctor turned on a small lamp over the bed, but it wasn’t enough light to illuminate John and Bo in the back of the room.
The doctor looked at Steve and back at Benjy, signing to him. Benjy signed back but both actions were done silently so neither John and Bo knew what was being said. The doctor placed his medical bag on the bed and took Steve’s pulse. He glanced again at Benjy and for a minute, Bo and John were afraid he saw through the charade. Instead, the doctor began entering codes into the machine that controlled his comatose state.
Within minutes, activity began registering on the other machines, and for a split second Bo and John were in awe at the control that the Dimeras’ had over the human body. A groan began to grow from Steve, and Bo could swear his heart nearly leaped out of his own chest. The doctor took that sound to be a sign and reached into his medical bag. Taking a syringe, he began filling it with a medicine bottle he also brought with him. At that moment, Benjy looked directly at John and Bo, their signal to act.
John and Bo jumped up and grabbed the doctor from behind. Since his hands had been busy with the syringe and needle, he wasn’t able to defend himself at all. Boclamped his hand over the doctor’s mouth to make sure he didn’t yell for help from the guard outside. John hit the doctor on the head, knocking him out.Unfortunately, amidst the small scuffle, the medical bag that had sat at the foot of the bed fell down with a crash.
The guard came rushing in and was shocked to see the visitors in the room. As he reached for his radio to call for help, John jumped on him and managed to keep him from using it. The guard’s other hand pulled out a knife, ready to slice into John’s back.
Tangled up with the limp doctor’s body, Bo could only watch in horror as it appeared his friend was going to get knifed in the back.
Suddenly, Benjy darted forward and grabbed the guard’s arm, stopping the downward movement.
John and Benjy pushed the guard up against the adjacent wall, slamming him hard. As he slid down, John took the time to use the rope they had brought with them from the boat to tie and gag him. After they were done, he handed some rope to Bo to tie up the doctor.
John glanced at the man he was supposed to refer to as Steve and realized he was definitely coming out of the coma. The problem was how lucid would he be when he woke up. Checking his watch, John shook his head at the time they had spent on this and he still had not idea where Marlena was.
Benjy stood up and walked over to Steve and John noticed he was smiling for the first time. Benjy looked up at John and said, “Thank you.”
His eyes fluttered open. He smelled antiseptics. The lights were dim and blurry. He heard people around him. Was he dead? He thought he was dying. He looked around but just saw blurs. He tried to say Kayla’s name. His throat hurt, it was so dry. He looked around. He felt people putting wires on his head. What were they doing?
“Kayla!” he finally got out. He wanted to see her. She didn’t come.
He heard crying though. At first he thought it was Kayla still crying. Was it the same day? What was going on? A figure came into view and was growing clearer as his vision was focusing in the dim light. It became obvious there were two figures. What he saw made him angry.
“Stefano!” he spat out. Stefano was holding… a boy. It was Benjy! “Benjy! What are you doing to him?”
He was growing stronger and he began to try and get out of the bed. He was unable to lift his arms. They had restrained him! He heard Stefano tell someone across the room to put him under. Under what?
“You bastard! What are you doing!” he said.
Stefano spoke but not out loud. He saw Benjy’s back now and Stefano was signing. Benjy was still crying. Someone stepped in front of Steve’s view and blocked him from seeing. What was he saying to Benjamin?
“You let him go! Let him go!” he cried. This couldn’t be real.
Voices woke him. They were different than the last ones. He felt terrible. He was so cold. His eye opened and he saw a different view this time. Where was he? Did Stefano still have Benjy?
He started to say something but his throat was too dry. Someone gave him some ice cubes. He sucked them down too fast and began coughing them back up.
“Slowly, Mr. Johnson,” a voice said to him that he didn’t recognize. “Drink slowly.”
Looking up, he saw a figure of an older man in a white coat. For a second, he thought he was in a crazy house.
The man who spoke to him earlier explained, “You had a high fever, Mr. Johnson. We were worried.”
He looked at the man. He didn’t know him at all, but he didn’t get a warm bedside manner from who this supposed doctor was.
“Where’s Kayla?” That’s all he wanted to know.
The man smiled but it didn’t come across as friendly.
The more recent past coming into his memory, he asked, “Where is Benjy? Is he here?”
The man turned back to him and had a syringe in hand. He didn’t answer. Was he dreaming before? Had he been dreaming about Benjy and Stefano?
The doctor shot whatever it was in him and he felt himself going to sleep. His thoughts turned to Kayla.
More voices. This time he heard a child speaking. Was it Benjy? It was a boy’s voice, but Benjy couldn’t speak so well due to his handicap.
His fluttered opened and he saw the same room again. In the corner were figures. He heard voices.
“My son, I told you, there is no reason to be afraid of the man in the bed. Look at him. He isn’t going to harm you.”
The voice was unmistakable. He sneered, “Stefano!”
The child said, “He knows your name!”
Stefano answered, “Everyone knows my name. Someday you will be as powerful as I am, EJ.”
Steve glared at the father and son team. He had no idea who the child was but he couldn’t be more than six or seven. It was obvious Stefano was grooming him to be a part of the Dimera empire. Fear gripped his heart. What if Stefano had Kayla? Or Stephanie? Where was Benjy?
“What have you done with them? I swear…”
He couldn’t finish the sentence as he felt incredibly sleepy. He heard laughter. Stefano was laughing at him.
This time he heard lots of beeping. It was so loud he wanted to cover his ears. Opening his eye, he saw a new man in front of him. The man looked as unkind as everyone else up to this point.
Again, he tried to talk but his throat was too dry. Looking around he noticed some medicines. In the corner was a young man in his mid twenties. The man looked really worried.
Tired of this, he regained his speech to ask where Kayla was. His question went ignored. He felt the effects of the drug. He tried to fight it; he didn’t want to go back to sleep.
It was quieter the next time. This time. He could hear someone walking around. No beeps or speaking. He was so tired. He learned not to speak so soon but he did allow a groan to escape his lips.
He then heard noises, scuffles. What was going on? Opening his eye he saw figures fighting. Three men? No, four! Maybe even five.
He looked around. His eye was adjusting but it was so damn dark in here. He looked as the three men who won the fight dragged two bodies away. They were speaking but he was having a hard time hearing them.
He began to stir. He found his arms were not tied to anything, still they were so heavy. The men were in the other room talking. He couldn’t hear them. He started to say something, but it came out raspy.
The men came back into the room and got closer. He looked at them. It was difficult to see. A man came very close. He looked so familiar. Really familiar.
The hair was shorter hair now and his beard was not a beard, but a goatee but could he be? He looked just like… was he Bo? Could he really be Bo? He felt a tear well up in his eye at seeing a face that resembled someone he knew.
“C’mon, Steve, you can come out of it. We’re here. We’re getting you out of here.”
That voice was unmistakable. He would recognize it in a choir. He started to say something but Bo stopped him, telling him to save his strength.
Doing as his friend said, he saw them turn to the third man in the room who was excited, turning his back to him. Was he writing? He was writing a note? Amused, he watched as this man, who was too far to see clearly, hand Bo the paper and Bo nodded.
He couldn’t stop staring at Bo. He looked so different! What happened to him? He began to adjust and Bo came back to his side with a smile on his face.
“How are you feeling, Steve?” he asked.
“I feel better than you, Bo. What the hell happened to you? Is that gray in your hair?”
The smile on his friend’s face dropped. Without missing a beat, he said, “Don’t make me sorry we woke you up, man.”