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by Devon Pitlor
I. The legacy of Stacy Christine Smithwick On a seemingly inauspicious ay in !ay of "#$%& Scott 'o amar& now nearing his fortieth birth ay& sat alone in the little isor erly office of his campus tavern in !arshcove with the local five sheet newspaper sprea in front of him across a esk littere with unorgani(e invoices an the other paraphernalia of bar ownership. Scott was sipping his first morning coffee when a tiny news announcement burie in the local happenings caught his eye. )e blinke a couple of times& an the prolonge eception of his entire life flashe across his min . Since his fifteenth year in $*+*& there was something he ha hi en from the entire worl & even his treasure wife Summer. ,n as synchronicity woul have it& at appro-imately that same moment Scott.s lifelong frien /rooke 0escott was sitting in her kitchen alcove across the river in ,ristock an rea ing the e-act same local copy in the ,ristock newspaper. The tiny four sentence announcement also brought to /rooke.s
min certain memories that she too ha pon ere over for a long time. /ut we will get to these later. /ack to Scott. ,fter rea ing the little notice& Scott change his plan for the ay an calle his truste bar manager ,reshnit 'u(a an informe him that he nee e to see his octor that morning an that ,reshnit shoul plan to arrive early an open the bar. Then Scott abruptly& as if riven almost within a trance& swung his sports wheelchair out of the front oor of 'o amar.s 'oost an into his lift van for a short trip across the iron suspension bri ge which couple the sister cities of !arshcove an ,ristock. Provoke by what was nearly a represse memory& he aime himself in the irection of his orthope ic surgeon.s office on the far si e of ,ristock. There was something pressing that Scott nee e to iscuss with Dr. 1alentine 2olfensperger& something that he knew woul not re3uire an appointment. Something that presse on his conscience as well as his imme iate awareness. ,s Scott crosse the bri ge& he instantly took note of a procession of sifourteen year ol boys& the lea er of which was his own son Tyshawn. They were the si- core members an foun ers of the remarkable Plus Si(e Club&
an & as usual& they were on foot. It was the first ay of spring break& an for reasons that Scott knew better than to ask they were hea ing towar !arshcove444on foot naturally because the Plus Si(e Club ha always ma e a point of walking everywhere an ha always eschewe the service of school buses an even bicycles when they nee e to travel. !echanically& Scott swung into the right lane of the bri ge an powere his left win ow& catching first the attention of 5are 0escott& /rooke.s han some an precocious son& an lea er an foun er of the club. own
6I nee to talk to you boys later to ay&6 he sai with a sense of seriousness but not knowing e-actly what it was that he was going to say. ,ll he knew was that in ,ristock an !arshcove& the Plus Si(e Club was usually aware of everything& however small& that happene . They boys all knew Scott an respecte him as the woul 4be etective of the strange that he ha once aspire to be prior to buying a bar an giving up a full time police etective avocation forever. Scott was still sought& however& by the local !arshcove an ,ristock police on occasion to solve what can best be terme as the mysterious cases& an in the past twenty4years& he ha been involve with 3uite a few. Scott knew& however& that he was no cop. )is han ling of evi ence an his
acceptance of the strange ha long ago is3ualifie him from that espite his university egree in criminal 7ustice. /ut his list of baffling an une-plaine cases was still 3uite long. Scott knew many secrets& an he knew how to keep them. )e also knew how to live with the ine-plicable& as many of the outlan ish happenings he ha occupie himself with ha no simple clear4cut resolutions other than 7ust to accept the miraculous an move on. This ha always been one of Scott.s strong points. 0ot everything ha a rational e-planation& nor i Scott e-pect it too. This ha always forme the foun ation of his is3ualification for in uctive police work. Scott knew that our human ability to elu e ourselves may in ee be an important survival tool. The local police were usually in a enial state of continual elusion. /ut to ay.s mystery was something about himself alone. Something about why he ha gone su enly from a 3uick an athletic boy at age fifteen to the wheelchair in which he ha spent the last twenty4five years of his life. It was about a fa8a e that Scott ha foole the whole worl with& a ishonesty known only to Dr. 2olfensperger. )e caught a last glimpse of the boys in his rearview mirror as he spe off towar ,ristock9 )is son Tyshawn& 5are 0escott& Ian Parmeter& Co y 'ochon& Subaru Devaney& an lastly !alachi ,yla ore444all growing ol er now&
he muse & strong& han some an stur y boys all at the point of changing the face of the ne-t ,merican generation into something of more value than what his age group ha aspire to. It shoul be note that it was something that he ha hear ....or rather overhear ...7ust the ay before about !alachi an his single mother Erin ,yla ore that he nee e to iscuss with the boys& something that he knew woul not be easy. Despite the secrecy covering the great an proven abilities of the club& there was still a call for a ult intervention at times. /ut first Dr. 2olfensperger. 1alentine 2olfensperger i e-actly what Scott ha e-pecte upon seeing the latter in his office. )e postpone two waiting e-aminations an ushere Scott into his consultation room an listene while Scott e-plaine in very brief terms what he ha rea that morning in the !arshgcove news sheet. 2olfensperger cra le his chin in his han an appeare to be lost in the sort of contemplation that men of science affect when consi ering the symptoms of patients. :inally& he burst out9 6;ou know& Scott& whatever it was4444an I mean
2),TE1E'4444that put you into that chair twenty4five years ago was not all that ba a thing. ;ou are stronger& faster& more agile than most ambulant people...an you have been....hmmmm....very successful in your life. I reali(e that you are suffering some pangs of conscience from lying about it all these years& but un er the circumstances& I woul 7ust keep on oing what you are oing. 0o one& inclu ing me& has ever totally believe your story& but only I have any sort of remote proof that what you claime actually happene & an that& my frien & is locke away in my files in octor4patient confi entiality an will be summarily estroye when I either ie or retire. ;ou nee to reconsi er this guilt4la en& mea culpa confessional scene with your family an frien s an stick to your story. It has serve you well all these years. ;ou were at football practice an took a ba fall. I was& fortunately& the octor on call that night at ,ristock <eneral. I took your first bone scans. In fact& I took all of them. =ucky for you it was me. If not& you. be some kin of weir specimen at the me ical college being e-amine to this ay by <o knows who an for what reasons.6 Scott heave a sigh of frustration& an ol sigh. 6Even Summer oesn.t know. Everyone 7ust bought your story that I islocate something in my spine.6 6It was the best I coul o back then&6 sai 2olfensperger. 6>atusha
Clen inin was my surgical assistant& an she.s long gone. ;our story will always be safe.6 /ut then the octor pause & knitte his brow an sai 9 6/ut about the Smithwick acreage going to the city... 2ell& I a mit someone nee s to look it over. Ten acres surroun e by a brick wall. 2ho but a Smithwick coul affor that? ,n they were always generous. @ntil the strangeness began& they always allowe you boys to play soccer there. In fact& it woul not surprise me if that is e-actly what the city will o with the property. Turn it into the playing fiel that it always was. /ut I o agree that someone other than our town fathers nee s to look it over carefully....an I mean very carefully...before they start letting ki s in again. Soccer is a lot more popular now than it was then. It was only a kin of secon ary curiosity in $*+*& something like lacrosse is to ay. /ut now it is big business. I woul n.t want....6 60either woul I&6 sai Scott& finishing 2olfensperger.s thought. 6I was thinking of my etective frien Se-ton /liss or maybe the boys..6 2olfensperger shook his hea isapprovingly. 60o. Then you have to start telling everybo y everything. ;ou never know how far that will go. I coul
trust /rooke.s mate Palobay because the goo octor4entomologist has enough of his own crypti secrets at Central State& an I woul trust /rooke 0escott& but my faith en s there.6 Scott listene without visibly agreeing or isagreeing. 0earing his fortieth year& he felt a nee for confession& an the be3ueathment of the ol Smithwick acreage to ,ristock ma e it even more urgent. 6There comes a time in everyone.s life&6 he began without finishing. 6That you nee to protect others.6 2olfensperger glance at his watch. 6;ou nee to protect them from...6 6/albriggan&6 sai Scott staring blankly at the multi4colore organ charts on his octor.s wall. 6;eah. Sure. /albriggan.6 Then after a few minutes of silence& Dr. 2olfensperger swivele his esk chair aroun to his computer an pulle up a nationally known news site. 6Say. There might be a little corroboration here for you. I get my news online an on.t rea the papers& but I saw this this morning.6
2olfensperger pushe the monitor aroun so that Scott coul rea . It was a small news bite about some guy in Islamaba & Pakistan who ha miraculously turne up a few thousan kilometers away in Sana.a& ;emen. 0o e-planation for his removal was given. 65ust the kin of mystery you like&6 sai the octor. Scott rea the short article attentively. 6It oesn.t say his name. !aybe it.s something to o with ,l4Aae a or terrorists& but I alrea y have a theory.6 6;ou always o.6 6I 7ust nee a etail to complete it. =ook aroun some more for a further elaboration on that event. I.m betting that this transporte person was in some sort of trouble& an further I.m betting that he was not a Pakistani. They are !uslims there& but they speak @r u. I.m betting that this guy was a full4 bloo e ,rab an use ,rabic as his first language. See if I.m not right if you fin any more on the story.6 6,n what ifference woul that make? I mean what language he speaks?6 6Part of my theory.6 62ell& you.ll have to sit on it for a while&6 sai 2olfensperger rising. 6I have
patients waiting. Think long an har before you start confessing stuff. ,n & above all& keep me out of it.6 Scott 'o amar pushe his slim wheelchair out of Dr. 2olfensperger.s office after a 3uick han shake. 6I will&6 he sai in parting. 6;ou can rely on that.6 II. /rooke 0escott at home alone. It ha blossome into a glorious spring ay by the time Scott 'o amar rove up the riveway to /rooke 0escott.s house where he foun his ol frien alone. 5are was& of course& with the other boys oing who knows what in !arshcove& an Dr. Eric Palobay& /rooke.s omestic partner& was at a crypto(oological convention in >ansas City. /rooke ha known Scott since about the secon gra e in the ays before his family move across the river. She ha known his late parents before their fatal car acci ent when Scott was twelve& an she ha known the otty aunt who ha taken it upon herself to raise the lithe an capable boy who was only three years away from confinement to the wheelchair that he woul spen the rest of his ays in. :rom year to year& time to time& /rooke ha fallen in an out of crushes on Scott& but as a ults& they were each one stea fast to their partners. Scott
a ore his wife Summer& an /rooke was irreversibly bon e to both Eric Palobay an 5are .s father Dragonsnort& the latter of which ha not manifeste himself for many months. There was& therefore& no 3uestion of infi elity on either of their parts. They were simply frien s. ,n /rooke& true to form& was someone very familiar with the recon ite an & above all& someone Scott felt very comfortable speaking to. It was an aura that /rooke e-u e to all her frien s& a certain ease of conversation& a willingness to suspen 7u gment. Over glasses of col morning musca et& the two sat on /rooke.s patio in the full sun an iscusse the onation of the walle Smithwick property to the city. /rooke began by telling Scott that she ha seen the same article in the ,ristock paper an that for some reason it bothere her as well. This alarme Scott somewhat& something /rooke coul see& an so she presse on. 6;ou use to play soccer there back when soccer wasn.t cool.6 6I i &6 agree Scott. 6/ut why shoul the be3ueathing of the property bother you so much? Is there something you.re not telling me?6 /rooke smile slyly. Then she sai 6;ou got runk once at a party. That was
before Summer. 2e were both stu ents.6 6Oh my <o B 2hat i I say?6 6, bunch of nonsense. Something about a little hill off the si e of the fiel by the brick wall. Something about a hi en staircase that went own into the groun an stoppe in front of a huge iron oor.6 /rooke went on to say that the etails of this site soun e stupi to everyone present& but that the Smithwick family444one of the ol est an richest in the region444ha nonetheless contracte a local guy with a backhoe to moun irt up over the place Scott was escribing& an since $*+*& the property ha been completely flat. She also remin e Scott that he ha sai something about the iron oor being locke from the outsi e an that only the Smithwick family ha the key444an ol fashione skeleton thing. ,n so it went on. Stacy Christine Smithwick& a town owager an last scion of one of the ol est settler families in ,ristock ha ie an left the property to the city. That was all the article sai . /ut as the property was primarily use as a makeshift soccer fiel & it was assume that now that soccer ha gaine prominence& the city woul convert it to 7ust that. 6That&6 sai Scott& 6is the
troubling part.6 6;ou think some ki is going to fall own those stone steps or what?6 62orse than that&6 sai Scott burying his forehea in his palms. 6!uch worse.6 /rooke took a long swig of her white wine. She cocke an in3uisitive eyebrow at Scott an sai 9 62ell& you can either tell me or not. ,n I have a feeling you want to tell me.6 Scott thrust his sports wheelchair in the irection facing the street. )e knew he was at the point of a confession& one that he probably shoul have ma e to his wife an son long ago. )e ha no i ea where to begin. 6!y name&6 he sai at length. 6'o amar. It.s 0orman an :rankish. /ut those were the original lan lor s of Irelan in the centuries following the Con3uest in $#CC. So I guess you coul say that the 'o amars are primarily Irish. So was ol la y Smithwick. )er family came from the original ,nglo4 Sa-on estate proprietors of Irelan .6 6Irish this. Irish that. The Irish are all over. 2hat are you riving at?6
6, theory.6 6Every time you have a theory& something ownright strange happens. 2ant to tell me about your theory?6 62ell& to start with& there were 3uite a few strangers on the Smithwick property in the seventies an eighties& an a lot of them were right off the ol so . Irishmen...mostly with English names...like from the aristocracy. They came out of nowhere an spent most of their time teaching us boys to ignore their accents an how to play soccer by proper rules. That is how soccer got starte there. Of course& the close 4mouth Smithwicks never sai who these people were& where they came from or why they hung out aroun the mansion or the fiel . That was 7ust not like the Smithwicks. 2e playe soccerD that was all. 2hen the whole country was swooning over the merger of the 0:= an the ,:=& we were playing 6real football6 as they calle it.6 6<o on. ;ou have me intereste .6 Scott move himself back into a position to face /rooke. 6I was not in7ure in a football scrimmage in !arshcove as my aunt tol everyone. I was in7ure because one ay I spraine my ankle an was stan ing over by that little hill
an its hi en staircase. ,n then su enly an without e-planation& I was on the rocks by the north coast of the Irish Sea in the province of :ingal in the County of Dublin444in the accurse village of /albriggan to be e-act.6 Scott continue that he ha no i ea how he ha reache the peaty little seasi e fishing parish with its rustic inhabitants& but that it was a place of great sorrow. In his short stay in /albriggan& he learne that the village ha been the site of a horri atrocity uring the Irish 2ars of In epen ence. On the "#th of September& $*"#& a special regiment of the 'oyal Irish Constabulary& establishe from release /ritish prisoners an put into uniforms to bully an sub ue the Irish with ferocious attacks on civilians an unparallele brutality& ha estroye E+ of the *# houses in the village an slaughtere most of the men& women an chil ren in the process. =ike latter era 0a(i atrocities in =i ice& C(echoslovakia an Ora our4sur4<lane in :rance& /albriggan became synonymous worl 4wi e with unrestraine an bloo y civilian massacre. The butchers were a special regiment known as the /lack an Tan& an the curse of /albriggan is still the most vile epithet even to ay in all of Irelan . 6,n you were there an learne all this?6 /rooke knitte her brow. 6Overnight&6 sai Scott. 6In a farmhouse. , farmhouse ma e of mossy peat
blocks an without running water. , family& without 3uestioning& took me in& fe me an tol me the tale. It was har to un erstan with their rural accents an all.6 6,n then they sent you back?6 6>in of. , bunch of men were kicking a soccer ball aroun in a pa ock the ne-t ay. I was sent out to watch them. ,n bingo I was back in Smithwick.s fiel . /elieve it or not& that happene . ,n it happene twice. I i n.t say a wor to anyone& but on another ay I wan ere over to the little stone steps an foun myself once again by small fishing bay near /albriggan. Some kin ly resi ents put me on a irt roa lea ing out of town& an when I passe the first thicket I remember seeing some skinny black cows. ,n then I was back at the bottom of those steps by the close iron oor.6 Scott pause for the usual reaction of bemuse came. isbelief& a reaction that never
6This is har for me&6 sai Scott. 6I suppose you can see that?6 ,ccor ing to the rest of what /rooke hear & Scott upon his su en return to ,ristock& foun himself unable to walk. Someone in the Smithwick family
calle his aunt in !arshcove. She rove over an pulle him into her pickup truck& feeling that his con ition was temporary from a strain. =ater& she took him to the hospital where the orthope ic surgeon in atten ance was none other than 1alentine 2olfensperger. 2olfensperger performe all the nee e tests an arrange for a full bo y scan. In that scan he i not fin an in7ury. Instea & he foun what he terme as some missing pieces, as if some fractions of Scott.s spine ha either isappeare or been left behin in /albriggan. Of course& no one believe the story about the seasi e village& but here he was twenty4five years later an still in a chair& something which he ha long ago come to accept an make the best of. 6I cease telling the tale before I was si-teen& an my isability was simply accre ite to the late effects of a football acci ent. That has been my story all these years. I coul tell no one that I ha been teleporte to Irelan an back twice.6 6Something obviously went wrong in the secon reconstruction of your matri-&6 sai /rooke. 6I mean that is how teleportation works or whatever.6 Together they continue to rink wine an iscuss some of the most outlan ish speculations about the oft4reporte phenomenon of spontaneous an involuntary teleportation as if it were commonplace an known to all. That was /rooke.s way& Scott knew. She too ha seen an e-perience a great eal
of the bi(arre. 0othing was beyon con7ecture. 2ith Summer an maybe even with Tyshawn& it woul have been ifferent. One of the outcomes of this iscussion was that before the city of ,ristock took possession of ol Stacy Christine Smithwick.s property& someone nee e to e-amine the place where years before a worker with a bull o(er ha levele the little moun an purporte ly covere up the stone stairway an its hi en iron oor. , secon ecision was that the whole episo e shoul be share with Eric Palobay& who was now close to one hun re years of age an kept hale an hearty by his beneficial parasite& the vap. Eric& being presi ent of the super4secret Crypto(oological Society of 0orth ,merica an a member of the singular& arcane collection of vap wearers& was well4accustome to the uncanny an woul be if nothing else fascinating to consult. ,n so between two ol frien s& a long burie secret ha been reveale . Scott coul not hi e the fact that he felt a tinge of relief. /ut there was something else that was bothering him beyon the scope of his long4ago a venture. This something else was soon to surface an merge with his own unfortunate e-perience in the realm of the supernatural.
6I have a theory forming&6 sai Scott 'o amar while taking leave of /rooke. 6It has something to o with my putative Irish backgroun an that of Ol =a y Smithwick. I work e uctively& you know. I formulate a theory first an then look for evi ence. That is something the police hate. They use in uction. Clues first then a theory. I parte ways with them long ago because of that.6 III. Eric Palobay.s take Eric Palobay sat across from his omestic partner /rooke 0escott the following ay upon his return from >ansas City an took in all that /rooke ha to say about Scott.s revelation. It was a Sun ay& an ,reshnit was on uty at 'o amar.s 'oost. Scott was e-pecte soon. Together the three of them woul eci e on a course of action. ,s /rooke outline Scott.s confession for Eric& an unseen listener was present in the person of her precocious an han some son 5are . 5are was not an eaves ropper& but he too ha a very recent secret that he was su enly feeling the nee to ivulge. Once again the strange ha bumpe into the boys of the Plus Si(e Club& an 5are & espite his in epen ence an maturity& nee e to tell someone. In the room ne-t to where he stoo were two loving parents who i not eny the possibility of the magical because they ha live it in so many
ways Fwhich can be foun in other stories relating to /rooke& Eric an DragonsnortG. 5are knew that with Eric home it was time to confess his own impon erable& something which he an the other boys ha harbore for several ays now. 2hen Scott arrive at the 0escott house& he was bursting with a kin of urgent an-iety. )e was please to fin Eric home an happy that /rooke ha gone over most of the etails of his confession with him. /ut he ha something else on his min . 62e nee to talk to 5are right away&6 he sai . 6The boys are hi ing something. It may even have something to o with my case.6 6;ou have a case alrea y&6 sai Eric sipping a glass of burgun y. 6I on.t know&6 sai Scott. 6They are all being secretive. I think we ha better talk to 5are . They may be breaking the law.6 62oul n.t be the first time&6 sai Eric. 62hat is going on?6 6I prefer to wait for 5are . I know they on.t use their phones& but can you call him? I have alrea y talke to Tyshawn an Co y. I.m getting nowhere.6 =ittle i any of them know that 5are was in the ne-t room an overhearing
all that was being sai . <rippe by a su en fear of lawbreaking& 5are eci e to slip out of the house an gather up his Plus Si(e Club frien s for a general an share confession of his own. 6=et.s wait for 5are then&6 sai /rooke pouring out some more re wine into the three glasses. Scott agree . )e looke at his watch an then aske Eric what he thought of his confession to /rooke. Eric began reflectively. 6To begin with& I have hear of /albriggan. It was always big news in the Irish wars. , real carnage. The /lack an Tans were 7ust uniforme thugs. The /ritish turne them loose on /albriggan 7ust to scare the populace. They gathere up all the men over fifteen an e-ecute them. They rape an torture the women. :ear tactics. Instea & they may have won the war for the Irish eventually so great was the atrocity of /albriggan. In the $*H#s& it was all anyone coul talk about. ,n then came the war an even greater atrocities. /ut up until its ay& /albriggan epitomi(e one of the worst crimes ever inflicte against humanity.6
6It is a village of sorrow even to ay&6 reflecte Scott. 6,n that is part of my theory. , kin of macabre specter of the in ecency haunts the place even now. I guess the Irish are like that. <loomy an unforgiving. /ut I.m hol ing my theory back a little.6 Eric rubbe the har ene accretion on his lower back which was the lifegiving vap that ha e-ten e his survival an youth. 6Stranger things have happene &6 he resume . 6=ike <il PIre(& a Spanish palace guar who vanishe from the gubernatorial palace of !anila in the Philippines in $J*H an spontaneously appeare in the gran pla(a of !e-ico City over C### kilometers istant. )e was confuse an isoriente & but it was establishe in that era before rapi transportation that he was not only in full correct uniform but the bearer of sa news to the 1iceroyalty of 0ew Spain& which inclu e not only !e-ico but the Philippines an large parts of South ,merica as well. The governor of the islan s ha been kille by Chinese pirates uring a mission to relieve !alacca. 0ews of that event i not arrive until months later... 6,n then there was the story of a Portuguese tra er name Porfirio who vanishe in <oa& East In ia in the Seventeenth Century only to appear secon s
later in =isbon where he was accuse of bilocation an summarily burne at the In3uisitorial stake.... 6,n then there was the well4 ocumente story of the <reen Chil ren of 2oolpit& Suffolk in the Twelfth Century. They spoke an unknown language& ha no i ea of where they were or why. They ha green skin an later when they ac3uire English sai they ha been ten ing their father.s sheep in a ark lan calle Saint4!artin when they su enly came to 2oolpit. In their country& the sun& as they tol it& never rose very far above the hori(on. They sai they followe their sheep own a 6river of light6 an en e up in 2oolpit. It all points& of course& to a parallel imension4444something that arcane researchers have propose for centuries. The Earth& as it were& is porous like a Swiss cheese. There are passages& tunnels& wormholes& con uits& chutes an la ers connecting one place to another. Sometime people fall into them.6 6, s a little to my theory&6 sai Scott. 6I rea an online report yester ay that a guy in Pakistan transitione spontaneously to ;emen. I want to follow up on that. I want to know his name.6 6Suleiman al4/asar&6 sai Eric. 62e saw the report in its full form at the convention.6
6,n ,rab&6 sai Scott. 6I though so. !aybe a tra er& maybe a so4calle al4 Aae a terrorist. It oesn.t matter. 2hat oes matter is that Suleiman spoke ,rabic an en e up in a totally ,rabic country& in fact the very cra le of that Semitic language. )e isappeare from Islamaba where there ha 7ust been a totally evastating earth3uake an lan sli e a few ays before. Thousan s were kille . )e teleporte .6 62hat oes that a up to?6 in3uire Eric.
6<il PIre( goes from one Spanish4speaking country to another. The Porfirio guy goes from a Portuguese colony in In ia to Portugal.6 6,n you went from ,ristock to Irelan & where they speak English.6 6That oesn.t e-plain the <reen Chil ren of 2oolpit& but some of the pieces fit. There seems to be a thoughform& a tulpa if you will& that arises from areas suffering from sorrow& grief an istress. Perhaps it is that element that links the ne-uses through the parallel worl s. That for the time being is my theory.6 Eric took another sip of wine& wipe a finger across his lips an shrugge his shoul ers. 6Doesn.t give us much to go on. Don.t know what we can o about
it. ,n it oesn.t e-plain a stairway lea ing to an iron oor in the groun .6 6, stairway we nee to fin an e-plore before that property is fille with everyone.s soccer playing aughters.6 The three of them were agreeing when a commotion su enly began to clatter at the si e oor. /rooke 7umpe up only to fin that all si- boys of the Plus Si(e Club were stan ing outsi e. I1. , crime in the making Co y 'ochon was the first to speak& an he spoke irectly to the top of Scott 'o amar.s hea & afrai & as it were& to make complete eye contact. 62e.ve one something wrong& but there was a reason&6 he sai . 6Daniel was being abuse . )e has marks all over him. They look like whip scars. )e.s been beaten. I know what that is like. !y mother use to take it out on me sometimes.6 6;our late mother&6 sai Eric. 6,n unlamente &6 a e /rooke with a tinge of bitterness that Co y coul
well un erstan . Then !alachi ,yla ore steppe in front of Ian Parmeter an began in a 7umble burst of wor s9 6!y mother isn.t like that at all. She.s not like Ian.s either. She has un erstan ing. She is more like !rs. 0escott or Subaru.s mother& Simmony& or Tyshawn.s mother& Summer. She i it because we aske her to. Please on.t let them arrest her. 2e i what we thought was right. The club is like that. 2e stick together. 2e efy a ults at times. If Chil Services ha taken Daniel& the police woul have locke him up. )e woul be in a war somewhere& a loony bin. )e talks cra(y an is covere with welts. )e.s been knocke aroun . )is eyes are funny too an his skin is all white an such like he never sees the sun. )is lips blee . I think his nose is broken too.6 Then it was 5are .s turn. Taking a more assertive stance& he stare irectly into his mother.s eyes an sai 9 6;ou woul have one the same as !alachi.s mother if you saw him. )e 7ust nee e some frien s an some time to recover. )e oesn.t know where he is& an he is not saying who i whatever they i to him. 2e can be his frien . )i e him an get the story. The cops an social workers woul 7ust lock him up an give him rugs or shock him with wires or whatever they o.6
6I think electrotherapy en e when I was a ki in the twenties&6 sai Eric. 62ell& whatever&6 continue 5are . 6!iss Erin is hi ing him in the basement guest room out of sight.6 :inally& Scott 'o amar 3uietly aske his son Tyshawn to e-plain from start to finish everything that ha happene since the last ay of school. 6>eep it , to K&6 sai Scott. 6!ake it logical. I know you can o that. ,n start by telling us what language he speaks an & if it.s English as it appears to be& oes he have an accent?6 ,s Tyshawn 'o amar carefully an calmly unfol e the story& the three a ults listene an occasionally 3uashe the almost4interruptions of the other boys who wante to a etails to Tyshawn.s account. 2hat ha happene was this9 Erin ,yla ore& !alachi.s mother& rove a school bus aily from south ,ristock to Daltron )igh School. 0aturally& none of the Plus Si(e Club boys took this bus& as it ha for three years been their wont to walk to school in whatever sort of weather presente itself. ,t the en of her run an back at the bus garage& Erin notice a palli an watery4eye boy with pasty skin an abnormally large muscles cringing behin the seats of her vehicle. The boy& espite his obvious wiry buil an taut physi3ue& seeme to be terrifie . )e
was shirtless an wearing only a torn pair of very fa e blue 7eans. )e was also shoeless& an it was note later that the soles of his feet were so eeply calluse that he coul walk or run comfortably on nearly any surface. =ikewise& heavy calluses444as if from intense labor444covere his han s. /ut the most striking part was the scabrous scars an lash marks that covere his shoul ers an chest. )is arms were also full of rie scabs& the result of many superficial skin lesions. There was a heale abrasion across the top of his forehea an other abrasions on ifferent areas of his bo y. )is eyes& as note & were watery& but huge& characteri(e by enormous brown pupils. The sun seeme to bother him powerfully. Crouching un er the rear seat of Erin.s bus& he ha trie to conceal his presence& but Erin& being a kin an motherly sort& imme iately took him un er her safeguar . )aving feare the police ue their previous inability to enforce a restraining or er against !alachi.s father& she took the chil home with her. )e appeare to be about the same age as !alachi an the other boys& but terrifically un erfe . )e babble constantly about not knowing where he was an about nee ing to be somewhere in a cave or cavern. :inally& he sai his name was Daniel but never offere a last name. 2hen aske where he came from& he replie with names like Claremore& 0owata& /ushyhea an
1er igris& places that were totally unknown in central Pennsylvania but clearly ,merican. )e i have a sort of 6southern6 accent& but it was har to place. )e efinitely i not soun like anyone from ,ristock or !arshcove or anywhere else in the ,llegheny region. )e ate voraciously& but continue to fle- his thin buil an confirm the bulge of his over4large biceps. :rom time to time he kicke his legs as if e-ercising them. In all& he seeme to be some sort of acrobat who was practicing to stay in form. Erin ,yla ore ha aske all si- of the Plus Si(e Club boys to come over to help her eci e what to o with him. 2hile waiting& Daniel ha eci e to take up temporary resi ence in the ,yla ore basement room& where he imme iately shut off the lights an began e-ercising in the ark. 2hen the boys foun him& he was still e-ercising. Co y an Ian felt at once that he was insane or elusional ue to the arkene room& the cuts an bruises& lash marks an lacerations. In fact& Co y ha even mumble 6self4inflicte 6 once or twice until it became clear that Daniel coul not have woun e himself to such a full4bo y e-tent.
,ll of the boys an Erin imme iately i entifie the signs of what they thought was clearly abuse& an they knew that such shoul be at once reporte to the authorities& school or otherwise. /ut Daniel resiste . 2hen they aske about his family& he repeate the names of the places he ha mentione before but gave no in ication of where these places were. )e began speaking more clearly an sai that he 6preferre 6 not to give his last name as this was against the 6rules.6 /ut he i not specify which rules. Throughout the entire first encounter& Daniel continue to isten & fle- an stretch his taut bo y an obtru ing muscles. )e also 7umpe aroun 6like a 0in7a6 half climbing the brick walls of the ,yla ore basement. ,t one point Ian Parmeter referre to him as a 6/ruce =ee reincarnation.6 @pon the urging of the boys& Erin ,yla ore i not call the police or chil ren services& an now she feare she was harboring a runaway. /ut Daniel was a strange runaway at that. )e ha no i ea how he ha come to ,ristock or gotten onto the back of the bus for that matter. Subaru Devaney sai it 6might be rugs.6 /ut it was clear that Daniel was far too swift of motion& lithe& an fleet of foot to be on any substances.
2hen he was tol he was in ,ristock& Pennsylvania& he became e-tremely istraught an pu((le . Of course& he ha hear of Pennsylvania& but he knew nothing of ,ristock or !arshcove. )e became at once silent when aske what state he was from or what ha cause his many scars. 6I can.t tell6 was all that he sai . It was impossible to get any further information from him. ,n so over this spring break si- fourteen year ol boys an one a ult eci e to make silent in3uiries. They searche both the computer an roa maps for the names of the towns Daniel ha continue to repeat& but the names were too common or either totally non4e-istent. Erin an the boys 3uickly came to the natural conclusion that Daniel ha been battere an was running away from ill4treatment. 6Perhaps a cult&6 sai 5are at one point. /ut as Scott 'o amar& /rooke 0escott an Eric Palobay soon note as Tyshawn finishe his account& Daniel was no normal runaway. 6I was a runaway back in $*"+&6 sai Eric pensively. 6I was fourteen4447ust what this la seems to be444an I was abuse . ,lcoholic father an mother. I
became a street ki in Chicago& an the last thing I woul have ever wante was to be sent back. This ki & accor ing to what Tyshawn has sai & is 7ust the opposite. )e wants to get back to wherever it is he came from. ,n I agree. The authorities woul 7ust tangle stuff up. !aybe we can help him.6 Scott 'o amar was obviously thinking of the ay.s previous iscussion when he aske Tyshawn what etails Daniel ha given about his home area. Tyshawn replie that from what little Daniel ha volunteere & there was a lot of strife there an things that Daniel nee e to o to fulfill some sort of uty. 6, cult&6 sai /rooke& echoing 5are . 6I on.t think so&6 sai Eric. 6=et.s go right ahea an bypass the cops on this one an get him home. The boys are out of school& an we can rive him once we figure out where it is. Then we can see things for ourselves. =et.s go talk to !alachi.s mother. She must be scare shitless about being arreste .6 6She is&6 sai !alachi. 1. Erin ,yla ore ,s soon as the three a ults hear Tyshawn.s account of the mysterious Daniel&
they at once eci e to visit Erin ,yla ore. In the back of Scott 'o amar.s min was the livi fact of his own confession to Eric an /rooke an the resultant possibility that Daniel may have e-perience something akin to the fate that he himself ha as a boy of fifteen. The thought of channels through imensional time an space was as real to him as his wheelchair. The i ea that the components of a physical bo y coul emateriali(e an be re4assemble incorrectly at a remote target venue was very troubling. Perhaps this Daniel suffere & as he ha & from errors in the reconstruction. The tricky part of teleportation was in sen ing the precise atomic configuration of an ob7ect without regar to time an space. Errors& such as his own& were likely to occur. The boys& now a material part of the imbroglio& foun a way to all fit into the back of Scott.s van along with the a ults. 6This is going to shock my mom&6 sai !alachi& we ge between Co y an Ian. 6I mean all of us arriving at once.6 The first thing they all notice upon arrival at Erin.s two story woo en frame house on /ligett Street was that a basement win ow ha been shattere . Perhaps Erin.s visitor ha eci e to take a short way out.
/ut no. Imme iately a somewhat frantic& though a e3uately compose & Erin informe them that the palli & sun4avoi ing Daniel was still in her ank an unuse basement room444working out& always e-ercising. 'unning back an forth an bouncing off the walls like a Tae >wan Do master an pumping his sinewy arms against the walls. Erin obviously ha no i ea what to o ne-t. !alachi hugge his mother& who scarcely foun the strength to return his embrace. 6,m I going to 7ail?6 she stammere at the a ults. 60ot if we can help it&6 sai Eric Palobay firmly. 6=et us meet this ki .6 Erin ,yla ore was a lean woman who looke for all the worl as if she ha seen much better ays in her life. , single mother raising a son by herself& she appeare to be more pitiable than most. The victim of an abusive an now absentee husban a icte to Dilau i & she manage as best she coul from the charity of her neighbors an family. She picke up o 7obs from time to time an & of course& rove a school bus uring the scholastic part of the year. She also e-u e a true sense of concern for the yet unseen Daniel& a kin of motherly reaction which seeme to come naturally to her. In the past& she ha e-hauste most of her first youth efen ing !alachi against his father& an
now seeme prematurely age 444even gran motherly& with tufts of stray& graying hair poking out from a hastily place hea ban . )er han s were raw an re as if she spent too many hours washing things& an her eyes emanate the infi-e sa ness of a confirme pessimist. 6I shoul have calle the cops&6 she muttere as she showe the group in. It took her very little time to pro uce a gallon of milk an an overflowing plastic bowl of sweet rolls an cookies& which she place on the kitchen table alongsi e of a isor erly pile of open phone books an partly fol e roa maps. She grimace at /rooke& pointing to the maps9 6Oologah& Claremore& 0owata& Chelsea& /ushyhea & Catoosa&6 she sai with a sort of lost esperation. 6,n a few more. They coul be anywhere.6 6/ut not together&6 sai Scott. 6That is why we use computers these ays. <oogle them all as one group separate by commas. ;ou may have not thought of that. /ut o it later. =et.s talk to Daniel first.6 62hat about the win ow?6 sai /rooke. 6Di he break it?6 60ot that I can see&6 interrupte Scott. 6On the way in& I notice that all the
glass pieces fell inwar . 0othing on the grass.6 Erin confirme with a chill that someone ha kicke in her win ow the previous night. There ha never been any violence on /ligett Street. The ruckus ha even scare Daniel up into a thir floor bathroom where he hi for several hours. )e ha tol Erin that someone wante to kill him but woul not say who or why. 6)e refuses to go out oors too&6 a e Erin. 6,frai of being shot at.6
6,n yet he wants to go back to wherever these sa istic things were one to him&6 sai Scott. /rooke 0escott went back to the kitchen table an calmly opene a roa atlas to a page isplaying Pennsylvania. 6I have an i ea&6 she sai . 6=et.s not overwhelm him. )e oesn.t know why he is here an is scare . The boys an Erin have been 3uestioning him non4stop. =et.s 7ust give him a little break. !aybe show him the town.6 6)e won.t go outsi e&6 e-claime Erin. 6I tol you that. !alachi trie ...6 60ow he will&6 rang a voice ami st the commotion on the woo en basement
stairs. 6Sunglasses. The sun hurt his eyes. !alachi foun these. @se to be his a .s& I guess.6 @p the stairs came a clatter of gangling teenage boys with a particularly pale one in the mi le. ,t first& Daniel was in ee shocking to see ue to his somewhat emaciate bo y an the multiple marks on it. /ut he stoo up straight an seeme to be at ease among the four a ults. 62e.re going outsi e to mess aroun &6 sai 5are . 6;ou guys can talk to Daniel now. Sen him out later if you can.6 Daniel sat own at Eric Palobay.s si e at the table an stuffe some sugary rolls into his mouth& gulpe own some milk irectly from the plastic bottle& an looke at the map of Pennsylvania which was open on the table besi e him. ,ll he sai was 6Pennsylvania.6 6;es&6 sai /rooke. 6;ou.re in our state now. ;ou on.t nee to tell us where you came from if you on.t want. ;ou.re in a little city calle ,ristock where we live. 2e can show you aroun if you want.6 Even calm an veile interrogation got few results from the scarre an scratche 4over boy. Eric raise an eyebrow at Scott an motione for him to
come outsi e with him. 6=et.s leave him alone with the la ies&6 he sai . Once outsi e the rather timeworn an ilapi ate ,yla ore house& Eric peere into the bright afternoon sun an assume the far4away look he often isplaye when searching back into his nearly one hun re years of memories. 6Di you notice what I i ?6 he sai to Scott. 6The ki has been beaten up. That.s for sure.6 60ot entirely&6 sai Eric. 6)e oesn.t have any puncture woun s or actual gashes that were ma e from a sharp ob7ect like a knife. 2hat he has is a long series of abrasive woun s in a totally ran om pattern. It.s as if someone were flailing him with san paper. I won er why he oesn.t want to wear a shirt or shoes. I.m sure !alachi.s si(es woul sort of fit him.6 6Then he.s been whippe ?6 6;es& but by what? I.ve seen men who have been lashe before in South ,merica& flogge an thrashe for punishment by the colonial masters of the <uianas. The Dutch an :rench were pretty brutal with the natives back before the war. /ut lash marks come in a certain pattern. This boy has none. 2hatever rippe an tore his skin i it over a perio of time an in a totally
ran om way. ,lso& he has been stung. Some of those woun s in icate kin of sting& one that I have seen before.6 Scott 'o amar was still thinking about traveling across physical imensions when Eric continue . 6In $*H%& when I was twenty years ol an assigne to a renega e steamboat off the coast of Suriname& I saw an unfortunate sailor who ha been attacke by a sea creature in a rocky cove where he ha been bathing in shallow water. )e ha marks all over his corpse from the or eal& ran om& abrasive marks like Daniel. )e was attacke by something that no one woul a mit e-iste .6 6One of your crypti s?6 6;es. , giant& flat4bo ie cephalopo & a kin of bloo 4re octopus with a lethal beak& strong flailing tentacles an a bo y covere with coarse hair. The natives ha name for this creature an they claime it live not in the ocean but in some of the fresh4water lakes an streams that fe into the coastal inlets. It preferre fresh water but coul survive in both. ,ll the inhabitants coul attest to that. I never saw one however& but I o know that certain species of 7ellyfish can make the transition from salt to fresh water in a few bree ing
generations. 0ot everything in salt water nee s to remain in salt water.6 6So you.re saying that Daniel was attacke by the tentacles of some kin of octopus?6 6That is how it appears to me. ,n I bet he has never been near the ocean in his life. 2e really o nee to fin out where he got here from. 2hat about those towns. Shoul we search for them?6 Scott frowne . 6I.m still more intereste in how he got here. )e speaks English an came444obviously4444from a place of great istress.6 6;our theory. The teleportation thing.6 6!aybe.6 Eric upon Scott.s urging eci e to take Daniel for a ri e aroun ,ristock which woul ultimately en up at the onate Smithwick acres. The i ea& insane as it may have soun e in Scott.s mouth as he sai it& was that if he ha been spontaneously teleporte to ,ristock from somewhere else& it may have been in or near the same spot where Scott himself ha ha the e-perience.
Eric& open4min e as ever& agree . 6=et.s leave the Plus Si(e Club behin this time an have a little more room in the van&6 sai Eric. 1I. The stone steps& the iron oor an a mysterious stranger 0o sooner ha Eric& /rooke& Scott an Daniel riven away from !alachi.s house than !alachi& who ha been raise to be in epen ent like the others& tol his mother that he an the other boys were going out for a while 6on club business.6 Erin ,yla ore knew better than to 3uestion her son further. Plus Si(e Club matters were always secret& an a ults were always politely e-clu e . Erin& relieve somewhat that other a ults ha taken Daniel off her han s& poure herself a waterglass full of bourbon an sat own on the couch with the intention of getting up after a short nap to <oogle the names of the places Daniel ha kept repeating. <oogle them together& were her last thoughts as she rifte off into a very brief sleep that was almost imme iately interrupte by a lou banging on the si e oor of her aging house. Somewhat groggy from the li3uor& she pulle a curtain back an saw a fearsome young woman wearing a
brimme swaggerman.s hat that remin e her of pictures she ha seen of ,ustralian sheep ranchers. @n er the hat was a wiry& intense young woman whose eyes seeme full of ferocious anger. She coul have been no ol er than twenty& but she pro7ecte a kin of animal rage that shocke Erin even before she coul crack open the oor with the chain still in place. It i not take Erin long to perceive a threat. The girl looke an acte both capable an angerous. 0o sooner ha Erin opene the oor a few inches than the visitor thrust something gleaming an metallic into the crack. It was a prosthetic arm complete with moving ro s an grasping& clawlike steel fingers. )er left arm& Erin note . 6Don.t close the oor on me& la y. It took long enough for me to fin you. It took long enough for me to get here. Two flights to be e-act. I.m out of money an out of patience an nearly out of time.6 62ho are you?6 6!y name is Shasta !at(en. I come from a place calle 0aroma which is in the cave country near =ake Oologah& 'ogers County& Oklahoma. ;ou probably have never hear of it. I mean you no harm. ,ll I want is my cousin
Daniel 0eporent.6 60eporent&6 sai Erin through the oor opening& 6so that.s his name. 0ow we can go to the police.6 6That woul be a mistake&6 snappe Shasta& still twisting her tinny false arm aroun between the oor an the frame wall. 6I will say you ki nappe him an hel him prisoner in this house for three ays. Daniel will back my story. Daniel knows his uty an will o as I instruct.6 6;ou.ve abuse him something terrible&6 sai Erin. Several miles away from /ligett Street& Scott 'o amar was steering an in irect path through the win ing owntown section of ,ristock& as Eric an /rooke calmly pointe out certain municipal buil ings& parks an places of interest to the boy in an effort to pacify him even further. 6There is where they all go to school&6 she sai & in icating Daltron )igh. 60inth gra e. Spring break right now.6 6I.m in the ninth gra e too&6 muttere Daniel& 6or shoul be. 'ight now I.m being home schoole . I have a 7ob that nee s to be one an other things I nee to learn. Something more important than school.6
6,n what might that be?6 sai Eric& knowing full well that he woul not get an answer. 6Di someone bully you at school?6 aske /rooke. Daniel clamme up completely. Through his ark glasses he looke at the owntown sights of ,ristock an remaine silent. /y plan& Scott finally foun an outlet to E gemoraine 'oa & where the first glimpse of the orange brick Smithwick wall coul be seen. 6Smithwick ,cres&6 he sai with a perfect sense of nonchalance. 62hat passes here for a mansion& a pasture an a small unuse playing fiel .6 If either Erin or !alachi ha been there& one of them coul have tol the group that it was alongsi e the playing fiel that Erin parke her bus uring school hours& an ,ristock being ,ristock& she usually left it unlocke . @pon seeing the wall& Daniel starte violently. )e shifte in his seat an sai he wante to see the playing fiel . )e i not say why. ,n so the group escen e from the lift van an followe Scott as he slowly
pushe his wheelchair across an overgrown pa ock towar a place where a large orange bull o(er was parke . 6That.s the place&6 he whispere to /rooke. 6They are e-cavating it.6 , fat man in a sweaty singlet sat rinking from a thermos at the si e of the bull o(er. )e showe no concern upon seeing the group arrive. Puffing huge clou s of smoke from a sloppily han 4rolle cigarette& he sai 60ot yet.6 60ot yet what?6 sai Scott& guar ing his calm. Daniel was in the rear of the procession 7ust behin Eric. )e seeme not to want to get much closer. 6The city hasn.t opene this place yet&6 grunte the bull o(er man. 6This corner isn.t part of the package anyway. This is the ol crypt. ,s soon as I can get a key& we.re going to clean it up for the burial.6 )e further volunteere that the late Stacy Christine Smithwick ha reserve a sort of shallow& un ergroun mausoleum for her own interment. 6The burial will be ne-t week&6 he a e with a yawn. 6'ich people. Eccentric.6 6I see&6 sai Scott without showing any emotion. 6!in if we look?6 6I on.t see any harm. /e careful on the stairs. There.s lots of moss an mol
on them. It.s amp un er there. /et her bo y won.t last long.6 Scott recogni(e at once the four stone steps that he ha iscovere in $*+* at age fifteen. )e also recogni(e that& without some awkwar effort& he woul be unable now to escen them. In the ank sha ows at the bottom of the steps he i & however& catch a faint glimpse of the same iron oor that he ha iscovere as a boy. )e motione with calculate in ifference for /rooke an Eric to go own an take a look. Daniel remaine at the top of the stairs an refuse to take a step further. 2ithout warning he began to scream an thrust his bo y aroun in all irections as if suffering from a su en paro-ysm of epilepsy. It became clear& however& to Scott that Daniel was simply fle-ing his arms& chest an leg muscles. , certain look of terror fell across Daniel.s face. Scott wishe he coul see the boy.s eyes. 6/albriggan&6 Scott sai su enly upon impulse.
60o. 0aroma. 0ot /albriggan any more. 0aroma through that oor. 0aroma...0aroma...0aroma...an the calichays. Scott i not e-pect an answer when he aske & still maintaining his poise& what
were the calichays& an none was forthcoming. So Scott pursue another irection with the agitate boy. 6So you know about /albriggan&6 he sai as if the whole worl were in on the secret. 6The ol folks use to talk about it. Somewhere in Irelan . Somewhere ba .6 6;eah. /a .6 60o one en s up there any more. The calichays kill them first. This is how I came here. I nee to get back. To 0aroma. To the caves. 2ill you take me? I on.t want to go near that oor. I on.t have my harpoon& my bla e or my spear. 2ill you take me before that man opens the oor an lets loose a calichay?6 6Sure. 2e.ll take you&6 sai Scott. 1II. Erin ,yla ore.s other si e 6I can.t believe your mom actually i it&6 sai 5are to !alachi. 6I mean she.s nice& but I always thought she was a wuss. 2ay too shook up an all that.6
6She i it&6 sai !alachi prou ly. 6She i it with the gun she bought to scare away my ol man when the police woul n.t. /elieve me& she knows how to use it. That Shasta girl is lucky she i n.t.6 ,s the boys were marveling over Erin.s su en show of au acity an cunning& Scott 'o amar was taking a more irect route back to /ligett Street. Su enly& his mobile phone began to chime. 6Cop frien & Se-ton /liss&6 he sai glancing at the number. 6E-cuse me.6 Se-ton /liss was the one an only etective on the ,ristock police force that Scott 'o amar truly truste an who in turn truste Scott. /oth men were fon of saying that they owe the other one a favor. ,s Scott listene to Se-ton.s wor s over the phone& he ma e only brief& non4revealing responses. 6Okay. 'ight. Do that please. I.ll get back with you. >eep her until we.re out of town. @ntil we have some proof. ;ep. Thanks.6 62hat was that all about?6 sai /rooke. 6Tell you later&6 Scott replie & s3uinting his eyes as if trying to piece more parts of this theory together. It was clear something ha occurre . Something une-pecte an something that Scott 7u ge it best not to share with Daniel in
the back seat. 6=et Daniel go in alone an get a shirt an some shoes from !alachi&6 sai Scott as he parke coolly in the ,yla ore riveway. Daniel& seemingly e-cite by the ri e he was promise back to 0aroma an the urgency he attache to the place& boun e out of the van an arte into the house. Taking a vantage of his absence& Scott e-plaine what he ha learne about 0aroma& Daniel an the enigmatic calichays to Eric an /rooke. 62hatever is behin that oor frightens the hell out of him.6 6/albriggan?6 sai Eric. 60ot e-actly& but almost&6 sai Scott. 6I think were not going to nee a passport this time. It.s Oklahoma. 2ith three of us riving& we can get there in less than twenty4four hours.6 Scott purposely i not tell /rooke or Eric the entire substance of his conversation with Se-ton /liss. There was still something suspicious in what was going to be assume . )e felt it best to withhol some information. 6<o on insi e&6 he sai . 6I nee to call Detective /liss back. I think you.ll hear 3uite a story once you see !rs. ,yla ore or any of our boys.6
/rooke an Eric left Scott alone an let themselves into Erin.s house without knocking. Insi e they foun a knot of si-...not seven444e-cite boys with a secret they ha eci e to keep from the seventh. )is woul 4be assassin& his abuser& his tormenter ha been locke up by the police. They eci e not to tell him that because it woul only have agitate him further. The main part of the story passe from mouth to ear in the living room while Daniel was in the basement& washing in the laun ry sink& fin ing some of !alachi.s ol clothes an getting rea y to take a roa trip. !alachi prou ly tol the story of how his mother ha pulle a %J caliber pistol on her woul be intru er when the latter let own her guar for a moment. 6She put the gun right up to her hea an tol her not to move an calle the cops&6 beame !alachi. 6I thought you boys i n.t like the cops&6 sai Eric. 6They are useful sometimes&6 sai Co y& an the others agree . This girl& Shasta !at(en& was esperate& evil& malevolent& violent& forceful& intrusive an ha every intention of grabbing Daniel an taking him back to whatever hell he ha emerge from.
6=ook at what she an her kin have alrea y one&6 sai 5are . Eric Palobay purse his lips as he listene to the account. ,si e of the usually hysteric Erin ,yla ore acting with valor an etermination& there was a soft iscor in the symphony& but he coul n.t e-actly say what it was. Eric too knew how to assemble the parts of a theory. ,n he assume & more or less correctly& that Scott ha alrea y one 7ust that. /ut they nee e to be sure. Outsi e in his van& Scott 'o amar calle in a favor to Se-ton /liss. 6=et her stay in someone.s house with some soft cuffs or a tracking evice. Don.t put her with the 7ail population. !ake sure she.s comfortable an well4fe . If she is guilty& which she probably is& we.ll let you know& an you can sen her back un er guar . If not& you can buy her a first class ticket to Tulsa.6 Insi e the house& the guilt of Shasta !at(en& who was now in the 3uiet custo y of Se-ton /liss& was more or less soli ifie an resolve . Erin ,yla ore& as well as the si- boys of the Plus Si(e Club& were convince that the wil 4eye intru er was a vicious miscreant. 0one of them ha any intention of isturbing the alrea y super4agitate Daniel with news of her capture or arrest. Though it must be a mitte that Erin& taking a certain pri e in her su en fortitu e was sorely tempte to broa cast her victory as wi ely as
possible444an that woul inclu e Daniel. It took some amount of convincing from /rooke to keep Erin 3uiet. The appro-imate location of 0aroma in the cave country of =ake Oologah& Oklahoma was now known& an after a short stop at their respective homes to bathe an fin clean clothes an make e-cuses to Summer 'o amar& the foursome& Eric& /rooke& Scott an the restless Daniel took to the highway on their way to a state that three of them ha ever visite . 1III. Se-ton /liss an his personal prisoner Se-ton /liss& who was nine years younger than Scott 'o amar an thus approaching his thirty4first birth ay& ha taken a much ifferent loop along life.s twisting roa into his profession than Scott. @nlike Scott& Se-ton ha always wante to be a etective in the truest sense of the wor . )is insatiable curiosity ha always le him to the esire of actually solving crimes from clues instea of 7ust wearing a uniform an arresting wrong oers. It was for this reason that early in his career& when he occasionally was assigne to such banal tasks as traffic control& he ha ma e frien s with Scott an use the latter.s min as sort of an anvil to forge his own. 0ever marrying& he ha use the free om of not having a family to take a variety of psychology an sociology
classes until he ha earne the e3uivalent of a masters egree by age twenty4 four& a egree which 3ualifie him to move very rapi ly up the police ranks in ,ristock& espite his sometimes 3uestionable loyalty to such things as the 6,merican way6 an his often fragile a herence to the a ministration of 7ustice. )is association with 'o amar& who was seen by many ,ristock cops as simply a crackpot& ha n.t helpe him much either& e-cept when in the course of several ine-plicable cases& Scott ha been right an ha let Se-ton take full cre it for his forensic work. In short& Se-ton /liss was unconventional& but he kept it well hi en. )e was also loyal to Scott 'o amar& something else he knew he nee e for the sake of his career to conceal whenever possible. On the !on ay following Scott.s su en eparture to Oklahoma from ,ristock& Se-ton sat in his unmarke & county4issue :or se an alongsi e of a rather twitchy young female with a metallic arm han cuffe to the seat of the passenger si e of his car. 'estive an resisting& the young woman twiste an turne an bange her hea against the ashboar of Se-ton.s car. She answere no 3uestions an seeme rea y to spit like a cobra into Se-ton.s eyes if he got too close. The most wor s she ha uttere were spent on calling Se-ton a son of a bitch an other appropriate epithets. The car was parke in front of Se-ton.s mo est brick house on Cavor Street&
an Se-ton was more than uneasy that some of his neighbors might take un ue notice of the agitate young woman he ha besi e him as a prisoner. )e slappe the leather seat of his car an began in a lou an comman ing voice& which was& it shoul be note & 3uite out of character for Se-ton /liss9 6=ook. 5ust shut up& 3uit calling me names an listen. I know very well you can yank your arm out of that prosthetic& climb across me an run. I know you can scream an make a big commotion an bring everyone out. I.ll be the suspect then. 2hat you probably know is that I am violating every police rule in the book by taking you to my home as a personal prisoner. I live alone& am unmarrie an it oesn.t look right at all. /ut I am oing a frien a favor. I may be oing you a favor. If we i n.t o this& if I i n.t take the chance that I am taking& you. be locke up in the female section with some =esbian matron looking after you an a bunch of heroin4cra(e teeny poppers clawing at your tits...6 6:uck you. 5ust let me go. I nee to get home. It is more important than your bullshit here.6 Shasta !at(en was going to be a han ful. That was clear. 6>eep listening. I.m a single guy an you.re a lone woman. Cops are not
allowe to take prisoners to their homes& especially solitary females. I am& however& when off uty& as I am now& allowe to have girlfrien s& an I have ha a few. If I i n.t these snoopy neighbors woul say I.m gay. If I o it too much& then I.m a se- fien . , cop never wins. ,ll I.m asking you is to act like something less than a elin3uent runaway little whore an walk into the house calmly an uncuffe with me. :rom that point you can scream an kick stuff all you want. /ut if you o& I.ll shackle you again. I have not officially arreste you yet& but with the testimony of your trespassing an threatening Erin ,yla ore& I can o so at any time. Once in my house& you.ll have your choice. , private...an I mean private...be an bath or back to the 7ail. I have you in illegal custo y& but it is for your own goo accor ing to a person I trust very much.6 6:uck your frien . I have not committe any crimes. I i n.t abuse my cousin like that ol bitch sai .6 6The ki is suppose to be really roughe up. ,ll the lea s point to you. /ut I.m not trying the case. I.m 7ust letting you know I have enough evi ence to keep you in the city 7ail for at least forty4eight hours or until you make bail& which I assume from the emptiness of your wallet& you can.t o.6
,t length& the calmer version of Se-ton /liss won out. Shasta !at(en& thinking no oubt of escape in the mi le of the night& abruptly melte an settle back in her seat. She won ere whether at age twenty4four an after all she ha en ure in life....in 0aroma an its caves....whether she still ha enough se uctive charm to lull the etective into carelessness. She& like Se-ton /liss& ha ha other preoccupations in life& an espite her rugge ly goo looks an trim physi3ue& she ha en7oye the company of very few men. Se uction& real or preten e & was not her strong point. 6Okay. I.ll go with you. Tell me your first name. I.ll even cover my fake arm with your 7acket if you want. That.s my left arm& as you see. I.ll walk up to your oor hol ing your right han in mine. That will probably convince your nosy neighbors that you.re not gay. ,re you?6 60o. /ut it oesn.t matter. ;ou can hol my han & but once we.re insi e& I promise you that that is the last touching we nee to o. ;ou have my wor of honor. /ut I nee yours that you will not try to escape. /y the way& my name is Se-ton....that is& if anyone crosses our path.6 6Shasta...as you know....6
6So it says on your Oklahoma river.s license. 2elcome to ,ristock.6 6=et.s go& Se-ton. I nee a bath. ;ou can watch if that turns you on.6 62hat i I 7ust say?6 6Oh. Okay. 5ust ki ing.6
6Stop ki ing. 5ust remember I.m a cop. Treat me like one. ;ou.re my prisoner....illegal as that is. 'emember that. Do your flirting once your back in Oklahoma& that is& if you ever get there.6 2ith these wor s& the two of them climbe out of the car. Se-ton took off his suit 7acket an place it with a certain touch of gentleness aroun Shasta.s shoul ers& covering her prosthetic arm. )an in han & they entere Se-ton.s house. =ater that night& fe politely an allowe a full measure of privacy in all ways& Shasta& somewhat weary& learne that the oors an win ows of many policemen.s houses were not as easy to escape from as she may have previously imagine . /ars covere nearly everything. Se-ton ha long before taken that precautionary step with his resi ence.
6:uck it&6 she thought an rolle over on clean sheets in a spare be room with barre win ows an fell pleasantly asleep. )er last recollection was that& espite everything& this cop wasn.t all that ba looking. /ut who was she to think about men? IL. The trip westwar an another une-pecte visitor ,lthough /rooke& Eric an Scott took turns riving& the trip to eastern Oklahoma presente itself as longer than they ha pro7ecte . /a roa s& the nee to stop for foo an rink& an the appalling lack of toilet facilities in !i 4,merica cause the trio of a ults to visit more gas stations an rest stops than e-pecte as they crosse the states of Ohio& In iana an !issouri along Interstates E# an then %% after crossing the !ississippi at Saint =ouis. They rove through the night an took turns sleeping an at the wheel. Scott& who seeme the most intereste in Daniel& use the night time hours to catch a glimpse or two of the boy.s unsha e eyes un er the ceiling lights of the van. It was the first time Scott ha notice their si(e an a3ueous nature. It pu((le him somewhat& but he thought he may have foun another tile for the mosaic that was slowly coming together in his min .
There was also the rather alarming fact that Daniel& eager an panicky about getting back to Oklahoma& ha more than once offere to rive. 6;ou can.t be more than fourteen&6 sai /rooke. 6/ut you may get a turn. I on.t suppose you have a license? 6Don.t really nee one where I live&6 muttere Daniel with some isinterest. )e continue to contort in his seat& e-ten ing the firm muscles of all parts of his bo y. /rooke also ha notice his eyes& but her main concern was still the multiple woun scars that punctuate his physi3ue. ,t one point& she sai 3uietly to Eric that they woul have to o some serious etective work in Oklahoma about 7ust who Daniel live with an how they were treating him. Then she slippe . Somewhere west of St. =ouis in the long stretching wastelan s of !issouri& thinking Daniel ha finally gone to sleep& she sai in a lou er than usual whisper to Eric that the boy was still afrai of something& even though he was with three a ults that he appeare to trust. 6I.ve notice &6 sai Eric. 6)e slinks back an forth to the restrooms an is always looking over his shoul er like he is e-pecting someone to sneak up on
him. )e sai that someone was trying to kill him. There is probably more to this story than a cult or sa istic family in Oklahoma.6 6!aybe we shoul tell him about that horrible woman that Erin put into custo y& that Shasta whatever.6 Daniel bolte upright from a hunche position in the rear seat. )is enormous eyes opene even wi er than usual reflecting the waning light of the morning moon. 6ShastaB6 he shoute . 62hat about her? 2here is she? 2hat have they one to her?6 The boy seeme more panicke than ever. )e bange his fists on the hea rests behin both a ults. Scott& awakene from sleep in the seat ne-t to Daniel& saw the alarm an & maintaining calm& aske 62ho is Shasta? ,n why oes she want to take you with her?6 Daniel& now more frantic than ever& poun e his fists against his hea & stare from si e to si e in the morning mist as haystacks an silos passe by the win ows at a monotonous rate. 6She.ll ie&6 he sighe . 6She.ll ie if you left her behin in your town. The re 4tie men will get her& 7ust like they trie to get me by breaking a win ow at that boy.s house.6
Scott su enly stiffene his tone& stare into Daniel.s wi e an reflective eyes an sai 9 6:irst& the calichays, now the re 4tie men. Daniel& you are full of fantasies& aren.t you? ;ou must think you are pretty important. If not& you. better tell us right here an now in a way we can un erstan who are all these souls an why o they want to kill you. ;es& Shasta is still in ,ristock& but she.s safe with a police frien of mine. So talk. ;ou know you can o it. Cut the bullshit too.6 Daniel blinke his always4 ilate eyes at the sternness of Scott.s wor s. It was& in effect& the first time Scott ha e-ercise any vocal authority other than the mas3uera e of his own impatience. /rooke swung aroun in the seat an place a han on his shoul er. 6Easy&6 she sai . 6=et him talk in his own way.6 62hy are we oing this?6 continue Scott in the same impatient tone. 62e are over nine hun re miles from home on a mission to reunite a foule boy with his abusers. 2hat og o we have in this fight?6 6Daniel an ecency&6 sai /rooke softly. 60othing like the police or chil authorities. 2e.re oing a ki a favor. That.s all.6
60ot entirely for me&6 replie Scott. 6I have other reasons.6 6Teleportation to Irelan ?6 sai Eric 3uietly. 6)ow o you know about that?6 snappe Daniel. 60ever min .6 Daniel compose himself finally an stare into Scott.s eyes. 6I.ll tell you everything&6 he sai . 6/ut you won.t believe me.6 6Try&6 sai Scott. ,n so there in central !issouri not far from the Oklahoma state line& Daniel spille forth an ama(ing story about the reservoir lakes of his home state& Tenkiller an especially Oologah& the caves aroun which he fre3uently live in. Shasta !at(en was his girl cousin. She was a fighter like him. She ha the same mission as he ha inherite from their forebears444to protect what were in effect tourist lakes an streams from an unearthly monster& known in the press as the Oklahoma Octopus. >nown by the Cherokees as something else. >nown by other tribes in other places as still another thing. It was a fearsome beast& a cephalopo that live in fresh water an ha been there in the rivers
like 1er igris since time immemorial. It kille on contact. It lashe & stung an struck with its terrifying eight tentacles. It was bloo re an covere with black hair. There were no oubt more than one. )e ha been raise by his pre ecessors to fulfill the uty of suppressing them in the watery cave channels in that porous part of rural Oklahoma& where yes& people often isappeare an remateriali(e spontaneously in other remote places....like Irelan an now apparently ,ristock. )e ha no e-planation for the teleportation& only a firm conviction base on years of training4444training in ark un ergroun a3uifers an waterlogge caverns where the creatures lurke . Training that allowe him to become faster than the cephalopo s an kill or fen them off with spring riven harpoons or spears. That was his role in life. That was...or ha been...Shasta.s role in life until the lethal stroke of a rust4colore tentacle ha eprive her of her left arm. The uty ha then fallen on him. There was no abuse. 0o vicious relatives other than those who ha always stoo guar over the lakes of eastern Oklahoma....an of course 6other places&6 places that Daniel i not care to mention. 6,n if that big oor in your park is opene somehow&6 he conclu e & 6your ,ristock will become one of them.6 62hat about those who want to kill you an Shasta&6 Scott presse on. 6Certainly not octopuses that break house win ows an shoot guns.6
60o one knows about them&6 sai Daniel& almost weeping. 6They may be from the government. They rive big cars& an all of them wear re ties speckle with black ots. That is all I know. They want us out of the way. I can.t tell you why.6 ,s another rest stop on I4%% 7ust before the Oklahoma bor er was poste & Scott 'o amar aske to stop. 6I have to pee an call /liss&6 he sai & powering himself out of the van with no further e-planation. The peeing apparently never occurre . Scott istance himself from his van an the others an began talking hurrie ly on his smartphone. Eric gave /rooke a knowing look when one of Scott.s is7unctive phrases& one obviously left on a voicemail instea of live& came back as 6:irst class to Tulsa. 0o 3uestions aske .6 !eanwhile& the morning ha come to the East. ,n it foun Se-ton /liss in his usual 3uan ary. 2hat to o with Shasta !at(en in his spare be room. /ut as he shave & this ilemma was soon relieve by some commotion in the hallway close to where Shasta ha slept. The wor s were in istinct but urgent. It was Shasta.s voice. Something was going on in his own house.
Instinctively& Se-ton grabbe one of the si earm weapons that he kept aroun his home. 2hen entering the hallway& he iscovere Shasta& resse only in skimpy un ergarments& in the bathroom with a non4 escript man in a suit pointing a rifle towar her mi riff. )is own barre 4win ows security ha obviously been breeche & but as he foun out later from the outsi e rather than from within. It occurre to him in passing that Shasta was in ee a specimen of physical training. )e won ere why this shoul interest him so when a man in a rab suit an speckle re tie was pointing a gun at her. Instinctively& Se-ton shot at the e-pressionless& suite figure before him. )e knew that he coul legally kill anyone in his house. ,n moments later& when plans were lai to ispose of the bo y& Shasta !at(en& clinging with both arms....real an prosthetic...to Se-ton /liss sai 9 6)e won.t have any i entity. )e is one of them& an who knows who he is? 0one of us o or ever will. ;ou can put him own the garbage isposal for all I care.6 Se-ton /liss knew better ways to ispose of an uni entifie bo y& an he i .
Then turning to Shasta& he sai 9 6<uy wante to kill you& huh? 2ho was he?6 Shasta grimace an sai 9 6One of the re tie guys. They are always aroun .6 Then she hugge him in an awkwar way. Shasta was not use to embracing men& an it showe . 0either was Se-ton accustome to embracing women. /ut it all worke for a secon or two. 62ant to tell me about any of this?6 sai Se-ton. 60ot right now&6 sai Shasta. 6/ut I guess you have save my life. 2hat o I owe you.6 6,bsolutely nothing&6 replie Se-ton. 6/ut the two of us...an I mean two...have to o something about this morlock.s bo y.6 6I.ll help&6 sai Shasta. 6;ou have save my life.6 6I.m a cop. That is what we o sometimes instea of 7ust taking bribes.6 6Can we go back insi e?6 sai Shasta. 6Sure&6 sai Se-ton. 6I suppose you want to wear something other than
un erwear.6 ,n so they went insi e. Due to a ea bo y in the entrance& ue to stress& ue to so many other things that shoul always go unmentione & they en e up in be together. ,fter all& Se-ton /liss& minor league ,ristock etective& ha save her life. 0ot an automatic in icator for se- to be sure& but it woul o in "#$%. =ater that eventful ay& Se-ton listene to a message from Scott 'o amar. It was about stuff that /liss i n.t want to hear but i because it was Scott. There were a few 3uestions that Scott wante Se-ton to ask his prisoner. =ittle i Scott know that by the time the call was hear & Shasta !at(en was no longer /liss. prisoner an that both Shasta an Se-ton were stan ing together444somewhat awkwar ly444in the tiny ,ristock airport waiting for a connecting flight to Pittsburgh an thence to Tulsa. /oth seeme somewhat embarrasse of what ha transpire after Se-ton ha ispose of the intru er.s bo y& which bearing absolutely no ID& was simply another 5ohn Doe stiff in the place Se-ton umpe it. 6Cops know how to hi e evi ence. I.ll grant you that&6 sai Se-ton. 60ow let.s get you home.6
,fter listening to Scott.s voice mail& Se-ton /liss turne towar Shasta !at(en sitting besi e him on a har airport lounge chair. 6I have a few 3uestions to ask you&6 he sai almost sheepishly. 6/ut first& why i we o that?6 6I on.t know& 6 sai Shasta& e3ually abashe . 62e 7ust i . =et.s 7ust say it meant nothing. /oth of us were scare an I guess lonely. ,t least I am. ;ou on.t know the kin of life I.ve live .6 6I. like to. /ut for personal reasons now. 0othing law enforcement about it.6 6!aybe some ay.6 Once aboar the first flight& Se-ton turne to Shasta an aske what she knew about spontaneous teleportation. Then he aske about someone known to Scott as <il PIre( an another calle Porfirio& a Portuguese guy. :inally he aske about the <reen Chil ren of 2oolpit. Once airborne& Shasta or ere a ouble vo ka an naturally ha to show her ID to the atten ant. She really looks young for twenty4four& thought /liss. !ust be because of the great shape she.s in.
,t last& Shasta turne to Se-ton an sai 9 60obo y knows about all of those people an the others. 2e.ve hear their names from passers4by an some so4 calle researchers& but where we are going people 7ust accept that it happens an leave it at that. 0o one knows about the channels through the Earth an why certain people electe to ig own to them an erect iron oors. The last part was lost on Se-ton who knew nothing about the steps an the iron oor on the Smithwick property. That was something that he woul atten to& once informe & upon his return to ,ristock. )e woul see to it that there woul be no burial on the Smithwick property an that all evi ence of an iron oor woul vanish once again beneath the earth. Shasta continue 9 62e have greater problems to eal with. The calichays. =ong ago my family took on the role of protectors against these beasts.6 Se-ton looke s3uarely into Shasta.s wi e an e-3uisite but sa eyes. )is e-pression alone forme the interrogation. In a casca e of broken phrases an half sentences punctuate by unanswere 3uestions& the etails of the horri & fresh4water welling cephalopo s came out. )ow they live in the slate rock channels un er the tributaries lea ing to the 1er igris 'iver an ultimately lakes like Oologah an Tenkiller. )ow they
entere the shallow waters of the lakes in warm weather an graspe the legs an arms of unsuspecting swimmers an pulle them own into the caves for a meal. )un re s of tourists an even some locals ha either seen or been ma e to vanish by these creatures& which the native inhabitants like Shasta of the accurse region calle calichays. 6,n on.t ask me where the name came from&6 she conclu e . 6/ecause I on.t know.6 Se-ton settle back in his seat an continue to ga(e at his young companion. 6I won.t&6 he sai . 6I won.t ask you any more than what you want to answer. I promise.6 6,n I.ll o the same with you&6 sai Shasta enigmatically. /ut Se-ton knew only too well of Eric Palobay.s lifelong interest in crypti s& creatures unknown an out of place in time an space. )e reali(e that Palobay woul no oubt cross a lot of privacy lines in or er to get some answers. L. Conclusion9 In the caverns of 0aroma Eric Palobay& energi(e an an-ious to see a new crypti & stoo e-actly behin
Daniel. )e hel a bright =ED lantern an painte its beam over the slick an wee 4choke walls of a twisting slate an granite cave which le apparently to a labyrinth of like passages& all fille with irty& re clay saturate water& all lea ing to brushy& overgrown parts of =ake Oologah& places where the ense un ergrowth prevente summer campers from entering. The cave channels were ank an smelle like rotting fish. The boy& returne now to his uty& presse ahea with both a long saber an an even longer steel4tippe spear in his han . Outsi e of the channel mouth& Eric an Daniel& venturing alone& left Scott 'o amar an /rooke 0escott as well as a silent an totally uncommunicative ban of hollow4eye & mistrustful an guar e locals& the men an women of tiny 0aroma& which was not even a speck on any roa map. 0one of these people ha last names& an most of them i not even have first names. Daniel ha not bothere with intro uctions. )e knew his countrymen an kinfolk were close4lippe an wary. )e knew that they resente the intrusion of what they calle 6city folk6 an that any sort of civil intro uctions were simply e-traneous to their cloistere an rural way of life. ,s they move eeper into the subterranean cavern& the water became less mobile an more stagnant. , bristling noise came up behin them. Eric
focusing his lantern backwar saw a young an pasty4face boy a vancing to their rear. )e too carrie a spear. 6,n apprentice&6 Daniel sai . 62e nee to train each generation here. )e.s stu ying me.6 6I suppose his eyes an skin will become like yours an his life will be short. !aybe he.ll lose an arm or a leg like Shasta.6 6That is the way of our clan. , chance we all have to take. I was raise in these caverns an have been preparing all my life to o battle with the calichays.6 The boy slippe past Eric an si le up to Daniel. , few unhear wor s passe between them. Then the water of a nearby si e pool su enly reverberate with a lou splash. Eric watche as a huge& flagellating feeler lashe up out of the clou y re clay water. It was as thick as a grown man.s leg& perhaps thicker an covere with sucker stu e suction po s. 62atch out for those&6 sai Daniel calmly. 6They can fasten onto your skin
an not let go. Their sting will leave a permanent hole in your hi e.6 The tentacle thrashe out of the pool again& sen ing a irty spray over Eric& the new boy& an Daniel. Daniel crouche to his knees an motione for Eric to e-tinguish the =ED light. The boy& nameless& followe suit. In near total arkness& Eric coul see that both boys were hoisting their spears over their shoul ers& cocking their powerful arms for a lucky thrust. ,n the opportunity came. In the im glow of the faintly phosphorescent walls of the cavern& a huge central bo y with bulging eyes an a thrashing black beak appeare . It was larger than any octopus that Eric ha ever seen or hear of. It was& even in the iffuseness of cave light& fire re an covere with thick black hairs that hung own from its corpus like so many seething serpents. It howle from somewhere eep insi e its loose& billowy skin an raise even more battering tentacles which flagellate malevolently an nearly scrape the roof of the ark cavern. The creature& over twenty feet in span& was lunging forth. Then came a violent uproar& a horri tumult. , tentacle as thick as the trunk of a prairie aspen broke the air between the two boys an an even lou er splatter was hear . Daniel threw his spear& but Eric coul not see whether it
foun its mark. Then Daniel charge forth with his homema e saber slashing in his right han . 6CalebB6 he shoute . /ut it was too late. Caleb was gone. The entire ruckus isappeare beneath the murky water& releasing some final bursting bubbles of either gas or air. Then all was calm. 6=et.s get out of here&6 sai Daniel. 6I may have hit him. 2e.ll fin out sooner or later& but for now he.s gone. I.ll be back tomorrow. Or maybe in another strait.6 62hat about Caleb?6 /y this time Eric ha re4ignite the =ED torch an shine it irectly in Daniel.s face. 6)e.s gone&6 sai Daniel. ,n that was all he sai . Once above an re4unite with his village companions& Daniel isappeare into the crow . , lot of 3uiet talk& inau ible to /rooke& Eric an Scott& ensue among them. ,t once all three knew that there woul never be any answers forthcoming an that Daniel an other chosen acolytes woul simply continue
this routine for all eternity. :or that was their chosen estiny. 0one of the ,ristock a ults thought it proper to 3uestion or even report this. =ater sitting at a little lopsi e & rough4hewn woo en table in a rustic cabin bereft of running water where by the scant hospitality of the 0aroma natives they ha been lo ge for the night& Scott& /rooke an Eric went over the events of the ay. 6The new ki & Caleb& was kille &6 sai Eric Palobay with a kin of resigne sigh. 6They on.t know a amne thing about the whys an hows of teleportation& e-cept that it sometimes occurs&6 sai Scott arcing his eyebrows in an 6oh well6 pose. 6Shasta is still the prisoner of that cop in ,ristock. I suppose we ought to let someone know the truth. There was no abuse& e-cept that of a monster&6 muse /rooke. 60ot so&6 sai Scott. 6I took care of that.6 ,t that very moment Daniel& looking forlorn an threa bare as usual& entere
the one room cabin with two large platters of steaming foo in his han s. )e was followe by Shasta !at(en who carrie some mismatche an chippe ishes as well as a few items of cutlery. /ehin Shasta in the sha ow of the oor& stoo another figure& waiting perhaps to be invite further. It was Se-ton /liss. The two of them ha 7ust arrive by rental car from Tulsa. Daniel an Shasta sprea the ishes out on the table an opene the platters of roaste foo . It was a savory smelling an well seasone meat of some sort. ,lso& there were re4use con iment bottles full of some kin of local istillate& white in color an strong. /liss took his place at the table alongsi e of Shasta. )e also took her han . 6, gift from my people&6 sai the pretty young woman. 6It.s the best they can o& but you.ll fin it rather tasty.6 62e.re never going to get any answers&6 sai Scott e7ecte ly. 6Probably not&6 replie Shasta. 6They will go on hunting an trying to kill these calichays until the en of time& an no one here can tell you about stuff like the <reen Chil ren of 2oolpit.6
6I.m okay with that&6 sai Scott. 6,s long as it is not /albriggan.6 6, sa place&6 sai Shasta. 6,n we.re sa here too.6 6I suppose&6 sai Eric& 6that you will 7ust go on hunting the beasts as you all always have?6 60ot me&6 sai Shasta. 6Daniel yes. /ut I have one my tour an have the patch to prove it.6 She lightly tappe her prosthetic arm on the table. 62e stop an let others take over after becoming isable .6 6;ou.re not disabled , 6 proteste /liss with a su en show of vehemence.
60ot isable enough that I can.t cook a few country ishes for you&6 sai Shasta still gripping his right han with hers. 62hat is there fun to o in ,ristock anyway?6 60ot hunt octopuses& that.s for sure&6 laughe /rooke. 6<oo &6 sai Shasta. 6I might get involve with some police work or whatever.6 6;ou o that&6 sai Scott. 6It woul appear that you have the best partner I
can think of. I am sensing some sort of partnership here.6 6;ou might be&6 sai Shasta& blushing in the lantern light. She was still s3uee(ing Se-ton.s han & which ha as of late become rather natural for both of them. Daniel pushe a bony knuckle into his cheek an finally starte to speak. It was all thanks. It was too ba about Caleb. It was too ba about Erin ,yla ore an the re 4tie people. It was too ba that the Earth ha channels to places that people automatically went without their permission. It was too ba that so many Oklahoma tourists ha to ie in the thin waters of the reservoir lakes. )is tone was& as usual& trouble an negative. 62hat about to ay.s e-cursion?6 sai Scott. 6Do you have any i ea whether you kille the octopus?6 6;es&6 sai Daniel& brightening up abruptly. 6I o. It rifte into the lake later to ay. Dea . ,n with my spear in it. In fact& you.re eating it now.6 ,n they all agree that the Oklahoma octopus& whatever it was& was totally elicious.
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM Devon Pitlor444 :ebruary& "#$% NONONONOPPNO
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