Source: New Comic Up!
Chapter 57. News Channel Gone Dark
In her apartment, every moment Kaylee spent outside of class, her computer logged in and a bluetooth connection to her television to watch it with her sister.
Melanie paced around the apartment in agitation. The news website out of Singapore at first uploaded the few still images and fewer videos had no recent enough updates to calm her irritation.
One high-quality video, the news reporter explained that Singapore authorities detained an American, Thomas Harte, while they investigated the charges that he smuggled marijuana bundled for transportation and a bottle of unknown liquid that investigators suspected as a narcotic. Cleared of drug-use by medical examination, the prosecutor planned to use the reports against him in a court and prosecute the United States Citizen as a smuggler.
‟He was cleared by a blood check? How can they use that he was clean against him?” Melanie said.
‟There, it said it. If he had it in possession and he’s clean, they know he was trafficker.” Kaylee held both hands to her tear-streaked face.
‟I’ve called Lettie, she called the government here. I talked with a lawyer that Lettie set me up with, he will set me up with the state department and we will see if there is any help I can do.” Kaylee said.
‟How can you help?”
‟The stash was mine.” Kaylee said. ‟It was in with my massage oil. I know that’s what they are calling as narc-oil.”
‟You left it? In his plane?” Melanie clapped her hand to her forehead. ‟You never planned to stay with Glenn.”
‟I, uh…” Kaylee stammered, then her temper flared. ‟Screw you.”
That just made Melanie the Monster and kid sister laugh harder.
‟You say that and that means I’m right. Tom got you to love him.” She smiled at her sister and poked her older Kaylee over her heart. “He writes about airship pirates, but he is the King of Pirates who stole your heart. Thomas Harte is a thief of hearts.”
‟Shut up, Melanie or I’ll tell mom.” In an empty threat. “And don’t poke me.”
Melanie quieted down and giggled for several minutes.
‟I’ll need to tell the State Department that Tom and I had gotten married and then annulled.” Kaylee rubbed her forehead. ‟Dad will poop a pinecone.”
‟Yeah, a whole tree of them.” Melanie smiled, but her tone was sad. ‟You know those crazy paparazzi with cameras will be here. You won’t be able to walk or drive to classes.”
‟I’ll live on campus then.”
‟The wait list is two years long, you won’t get a place until after you graduate.” Melanie shook her head. ‟If you tell the State Department, you can save him, but you will lose your chance to graduate in peace. The photographers will be all over you like flies on a dead fish.”
‟What…?” Kaylee interrupted. “Mel, the feed just went down. Just have a four-zero-four ‟Not Found” code.”
‟Just go back a page.”
‟I did, Online Network News only has other countries in the menu, Singapore is not there. Not even weather.”
‟Wierd. Try alternate news feeds.” Melanie suggested and sat next to her sister at the computer.
‟Okay.” Kaylee typed in the addresses of the different sources.
‟Those are old images we’ve seen. Tom might be free. Oh!” Kaylee smiled. ‟Lettie has sent an email.”
Then the excitement turned into crestfallen defeat.
‟She says Tom’s locked up in jail, Singapore police have confiscated his passport. She looked at the laws, sent me the link.” Kaylee clicked on the highlighted text. ‟That is harsh. He might get ten-years for the weed and forfeit all his possessions and death penalty is mandatory for the narc-oil.”
Melanie looked at her sister.
‟Death? But that is only aromatherapy oil, right? That essence of rosemary I gave you for your birthday.” She shook her head. “And they took… His plane?”
Melanie kept reading over Kaylee’s shoulder.
A phone rang, and both sisters looked at their phones before Kaylee picked it up.
‟Hello? Yes. Yes, at home. Yes. Las Vegas, three weeks ago. My address is…” Kaylee looked down off the balcony. ‟You know where I am? Yes. Right away? I’ll be here.”
‟That was the lawyer. He and a State Department rep are on their way.‟ Looking down, ‟Oh… Drat! I need to get dressed in something nicer than my t-shirt and jeans.”
‟At least put on a bra. You’re kind of on point since you have been on the phone.” Melanie pointed out.
‟What! ACK!” Kaylee squawked and ran to her room to change clothes, covering her chest up with her hands.
‟Why did you cover and run? It’s only me.” Melanie laughed again. The younger sister enjoyed when the elder stressed out.
‟Oh my god! Omygodomygod I can’t find what to wear.” Sounds in her bedroom echoed as she slammed drawers and closet doors.
‟Wear your dark green skirt, boots and your black silk blouse with the pocket.”
‟You borrowed my skirt last month for the class interviews, have you brought it back?”
‟No, it’s in my laundry.”
‟Crap. Mellie, help, I am in a panic, I need some advice.”
‟Okay, black skirt?”
‟Yes, past my knee. Heeled boots, black silk blouse and the gray jacket.
‟Yeeaah… I would leave the jacket.” Melanie said and looked out the window. ‟It’s too hot to dress in those extra layers.”
‟Yeah. Yeah… I will meet with some important people, I don’t want them to think I am just a college kid.”
‟Well. You are, and he is a lot older, you might not get away without that label in their minds, then they would say it.” Melanie mused as she helped her sister adjust the collar on the blouse.
‟I don’t know what to say.” Kaylee said and walked out of the room. ‟The lawyer will be here in a moment.”
‟Okay. Okay.” Melanie said as the sibling turned around. ‟Okay, you look good. Wait, did you put a bra on?” Another squeak of profanity from her Kaylee who disappeared into her room again.
A short few minutes and she was ready. The sisters opened the door to walk down to the sidewalk and both sisters screamed in surprise.
Four men stood in the hallway, two in military uniform in places on either side of the door. Two in civilian office clothing, one looked like he had swallowed some vile drink.
‟Miss Grant?” The dark-skinned man held out a hand. ‟I’m Beyron Ferguson, attorney at law. The G.I. Joe here is the secretary of the local state department office, Maxwell Silverham.” he indicated the sour-faced man.
‟Local?” Melanie said. ‟I didn’t know we had a local one.”
‟And you are?” Beyron said.
‟She is my sister, Melanie Grant. I would like to have her here while you interrogate me. Should I get a lawyer?”
‟Please call me Max.” The older white-haired man said. ‟No you don’t need a lawyer, and local is a relative term Miss Grant.” He nodded with a smile to Melanie.
‟May I get you a glass of water?” Kaylee asked.
‟No, thank you.” Max said. ‟May we sit?”
Motioning to the breakfast table, they all took a seat while Beyron pulled out a notepad.
‟For the record Miss Grant… Kaylee. I am your attorney, appointed by the Attorney General of the United States, pro-bono. That is no charge to you.” Beyron explained to the two women. “I will give you advice, but I will do what you ask, even finding a replacement if I do not fulfill my job to your satisfaction. Mister Silverham here is the government investigator in charge. He would like to ask about your relationship with Thomas Harte who is now in custody in Singapore and will stand trial for drug possession in the next few days. This is not a criminal investigation, but I am here to protect your rights in any event his questions stray into private areas that are not relevant. If at any time you wish to stop talking with Mister Silverham, we will bring this to an end. Do you understand all that?”
‟Before we start,” Max said, ‟What is your relationship with this author who seems to lack a street address.”
Kaylee held hands with her sister and relaxed, she felt more confident than ever and explained the events of the past summer.
Chapter 42. Packing
After the exhausting “Unwedding” in Las Vegas, partying with her never-was husband, he dropped her at home, where she sat in her apartment drinking coffee with her sister, Melanie.
The two Grants sat next to each other in the bay window of Kaylee’s apartment on a garage-sale special faux wicker loveseat. They had turned it around to create their own private space while they talked like sisters do.
‟It was amazing, we saw acrobats and a ballet that hung from the ceiling! Tom introduced me to the manager of the casino who let us go back and meet the circus group. A few of them knew Tom from his novels and movies.” Kaylee described with a wistful smile. ‟I’m sorry that you weren’t his sister-in-law for very long.”
Melanie held her sister’s hand.
‟You are on my spank-list for that, but you did the right thing. Glenn has asked about you a lot. He’s made it sound urgent and I know he said he had to go back early.” She nodded. ‟I bet he got an appointment somewhere and wants to take you with him to D.C. to meet everyone.”
‟What about going to school here? I can’t marry him until I graduate.”
‟You would be engaged in that time.” Melanie winked over the cup as she sipped the coffee that she had bought down the street. A ‟Shot in the dark”, black coffee with a shot of espresso that she sweetened with some sugar. ‟You don’t have to run off and get married. Even if you like to do that.” She nudged her sister as they sat and looked out the window.
Sisters, first and always. They knew each other’s secrets and stood by each other no matter what the world came at them with. They might fight with each other, but they were family.
Melanie looked out over at the bay where a large jet floated.
‟It seems strange seeing it from so far away.” Kayley whispered, almost to herself. ‟It’s bigger than most boats.” Her smile widened. ‟Hard to miss with those colors.”
‟Is he there now?”
‟No. He had to make arrangements to move the Sea Dragon. The FAA approved it for flight and Tom needed to have a check up on his arm. He heals fast I think, his fingers don’t tingle anymore and he has movement enough to type without me helping him. He was typing when I left the Wizard at the airport.”
‟So everything is all right there.”
‟Do you know he has so much money that he gets free rooms at casino’s?” Kaylee said wistfully. “That whole thing kind of made me mad.”
‟You told me that.” Melanie brushed the hair out of her sisters face.
‟I am still amazed.”
Melanie smiled. Her older sister had repeated things time and again for the last couple days while she packed to go back home and meet up with Glenn.
*Glenn.* Melanie’s future brother-in-law would be interesting to have around. He would spend a lot of time in the Maryland area as a congressional aide and possibly be elected. *I am not as excited about that as I was about Tom. Politics corrupts so many people with power, money, drugs, drink, parties with temptation everywhere. I have no trust in them, that kind of snake den would cause nothing but trouble.*
Melanie wanted her sister to avoid that kind of stress, and Glenn was good-looking enough to have a dozen girls on the side, and Washington was awash in pretty women and men.
Kaylee leaned on her sister, putting her head on Melanie ’s shoulder.
‟I miss him. I miss Tom.” She said. ‟I did the right thing, Mel, didn’t I?”
‟Yes.” Melanie put her arm around her older but smaller sister and kissed the top of her sister’s head. ‟Glenn is our generation, Tom is almost as old as mom. I looked it up.”
On the volleyball courts, they called Melanie “The Monster”. As the six-foot-tall captain of the volleyball team, she drove her team to back-to-back championships. But now she was a sister. Melanie the Monster loved Kaylee more than anyone else of her generation.
‟I’m taking a flight with Tom to go home. He has some business in Seattle and would drop me close to home, I could take a taxi on the cheap then and surprise everyone.”
‟What business does he have in Seattle?” Melanie ’s quizzical smile tickled Kaylee ’s soul.
‟A book event where he autographs works of his novels for people.” Kaylee got up and refreshed her cup of coffee. ‟He goes to those a lot, like twelve times a year, maybe more.”
‟Headed home in a private jet.” Melanie laughed. ‟You’re spoiled.”
‟Chartered.” Kaylee corrected. ‟Oy! He has taught me that habit. Sometimes, Tom makes me mad and he is not even here.”
Melanie laughed again, harder. Her sister’s tastes in things had changed in the five weeks of being married, rather, not-married according to the government, to Tom. She had become more complex, even her drawing and painting all night had been fast paced and prolific.
Twelve charcoals done in eight hours. Some surreal like Picasso and Salvador Dali. A Monet style drawing of Melanie as she napped on the couch during the night, among the many that she did.
All for her own pleasure.
*If it was pleasure?* She pondered.
*All passion for sure.*
Some art she created with bright colors and filled a heart with happiness.
Others, blue and sad, a cold pastel of a single heart, alone in a snowy field.
‟I need to get packed,” Kaylee said softly, got up and went to gather her clothes for her trip. “So I can fly with him.”
Melanie tossed back the last of her coffee and smiled.
‟You have a last ride on him?” Winking at her older sister.
‟No, that part’s done. Tom is just doing this as a favor because I am late and he is going north, too.”
‟When is the limo supposed to pick you up?”
‟Anytime, now. It’s a ninety-minute flight to Portland from here.”
‟That’s that Tom said.” Kaylee shrugged. ‟It will be the last time I see him for a month. My classes don’t start at the normal date, they are a later starting class this year. Professor Denton, who is teaching it is in France.”
‟You have Professor Denton? That is cool! She got married to her wife last spring and they are in France on a honeymoon.”
Kaylee stacked her luggage by the door.
‟Yeah, did you see who she married? It was in the paper, her wife is an artist downtown.”
‟Yup! Sculptures are amazing, she even has a bathtub sculpted out of soapstone.”
‟I saw that, shaped like a flower. They want thirty-thousand for it.”
‟I am not going to buy it. Not for that price.” Melanie laughed.
‟I won’t buy it for a tenth that price, it is too much.” Kaylee nodded as she put her toothbrush in the last small bag to take down.
‟You are traveling light.” Melanie noted. ‟You used to go home with almost everything.”
‟I’ve learned a few things this summer.”
A knock on the door and Kaylee answered it. A handsome older gentleman was there, wearing a drivers uniform. It was a driver that she had not met before.
‟Miss Grant?” He asked.
*Ouch.* A sharp pang in her heart when he used her maiden name. *I had gotten used to being a Harte.*
‟Yes, Just these bags, please.”
The trio walked down the stairs to the street, a midnight-blue limousine waited. It was not stretched like many were, it was more business and less party.
‟Give mom and dad hugs for me. I wish I could go but I need to set up for early starting classes. I’m supposed to have access to the school network, but I’m blocked from logging in.”
Kissing her sister good-bye, Kaylee got into the limousine and the driver clicked the door quietly, leaving Melanie waving on the sidewalk.
For one brief, shining moment, she wished she still wore a ring. A pale band on her skin of her ring-finger showed where she refused to take it off until the very end.
One last time, she looked at the bay, where sat the Pacific Wizard, just before they turned inland to the airport and lost sight of it.
In the front of the limousine, Gulstan the Chauffeur looked in the mirror at the young woman who appeared to weep. Professional that he was, he would never ask.
What happens in his limo, stays in his limo.
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Chapter 4. Bones
“Come in,” Clark motioned with his hand to the inside of a large office with topographical maps framed on two of the big walls, and a large desk at one end, piled high with folders. A table by a large window was a miniature monument to an earlier age in the area.
Professor Ng looked it over, and took out a laser pointer.
“Three-guardians, Bald, Whitewater canyon complex.” Ng shined the laser on the diorama, naming off the peaks and valleys. “This model is of this area.”
“Yes, you have looked at a map once or twice, professor.” Clark nodded. “But there has been a change that is not on that model.”
“What is that?”
“As for what it looks like, I don’t know.” Clark answered. “Not yet. That is why I asked for you all to come here. First of all, your lives were in danger.”
“First?” Andre asked. “How did you even know we were out there?”
“Well, young warrior, sit down in that chair right there” Clark pointed. “And let me teach you how it’s done.”
They all sat and the tribal elder walked to the end of the office and tapped a wall that silently opened to reveal a small alcove with a bar on one side and computer controls on another.
“Each of you are over the drinking age, is there anything you would like?” Clark asked and took count of the requests, serving the instructor and the students before sitting down himself with a tumbler glass of a dark amber fluid.
“A little later, I will go on a vision quest, this will help.” Clark nodded. “Anyone who wishes to join me, let me explain the situation at hand.”
Picking up some broken bones, he began to explain.
“Here, this is a leg-bone of an eagle, the claw of a large bear, skull of a raven and the jawbone of a lion, a leg bone of a coyote.” He held up the claw. “This has been DNA tested for age. This claw came from a short-faced bear, the jawbone still also has trace in the teeth, but I didn’t want to subject the spirit to the insult of the white-man technology. But, the shape and size is that of the American Cave Lion.”
“Clark, that is all interesting. But what does that have to do with us?” The Professor asked.
“Well, please notice, something broke all the bones. These all contained the spirits of selected ancestors.” Carl said quietly. “You see, this tribe has been given the Covenant to care for all these lands by Quilxka Nupika, the Supreme Creator. After the Creator trapped Monster of the Mountain under the earth.”
He took a long sniff of his iced drink.
“In the days before our times, the Kootenai river flowed into Columbia lake, a large monster from the sea made trouble in Columbia lake. The Monster led the Bear, Eagle and Fox on a merry chase around the mountains until the Chief of the Animals, a giant pushed over a mountain top and blocked the southern entrance into the lake by the Kootenai river. The gods trapped the monster of the sea under a mountain, hidden away from all of humanity forever. Using only the wood from an immortal tree and holy stones with sacred writing on them.”
Taking another drink, he took a breath.
“Someone broke the seal of the immortal wood. The stones have gone missing, the monster is loose and that power has broken the bones of my ancestors. Bones that my passed down from father to son since before the writing of the history of the world.” Clark said as he looked over the top of the glass, contemplating the fluid that swirled around the ice cubes. “In this glass is rye whiskey, it was found in a cabin in California. The collection of the bottles were sold at auction. It is old, over a hundred-years.”
They looked at him, listening.
“I never drink it, but I like the smell.” He smiled, then frowned. “In any event. Something has happened, that has not been foreseen.”
Doctor Clark gave a heavy sigh and put his glass down.
“The monster has escaped.”
“Doctor.” Professor Ng said slowly. “These are legends, but I know that legends all have seed of truth. What is the monster?”
“It came from the sea, according to legend. But in my point of view? It falls into a few categories.”
He stood up and walked over to the diorama.
“First, it could have been no more than an earthquake or a series of earthquakes that formed the Rockies. Second, it could be something volcanic, possibly related to the first, but with lethal gasses, it could kill without being seen.”
“But Doctor,” Gil asked. “There are no volcanos for hundreds of miles of here.”
“Correct. That brings me to the third part. It could be something more metaphysical. A true demon.” Clark said. “Something with a long life, something that can control or kill animals. The beasts of the forest knew this and left, en mass.”
“Yes, we witnessed at least part of that.” Reedah shook her head. “It was the most amazing thing I ever saw.”
“It won’t be the last time you say that.” Clark said.
“And fifth, there is one more thing.” He paused. “There is a possibility that what was buried so long ago is alien. Or perhaps, alien technology.”
“Where would this be buried?”
“No one knows. My grandfather’s father died at the hands of the French soldiers before he passed on the knowledge to his son. I have the bones, but only a vague knowledge where the cave of the monster is. I only know that at least one of the stones that is set in the immortal wood is what my father called Sky-Stone.”
The students looked at each other.
“Iron meteorite.” Andre said.
“I agree.” Professor Ng said.
“If you have a ferrous metal geometric shape in an insulator.” Gil said to Andre and Reedah.
“Induced power can set up a magnetic field.” Reedah whispered back.
“Magnetic and electric dead zone, if they set the stones with the same stones everywhere inside, they could make a kind of Faraday Cage.” Andre said.
“But fragile. Or in the words of those who believe.” Clark looked from one to the other. “Sacred.”
“So someone broke the cage, and what is immortal wood?” Reedah asked.
“Yes, and the world has no clue what has awakened.” Clark answered grimly.