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The Mysterious Moon Named Miranda By Philip G. Haynes “Should I call for back-up, sir?” The younger officer twitched as he reached for his shoulder microphone. “No, Officer Jenkins, I don’t think that will be necessary.” The older policeman put his binoculars back into their case, and then slowly put them in the patrol car. “I know that kid, Roy. His name is Austin Keats. He’s a great kid, a genius, in fact. I went to high school with his dad, Albert Keats...” “You mean THAT Albert Keats? The scientist?” Sergeant Ross’s smile became imperceptible. “It was a damn shame the man died so young. What a stupid accident…took the man in his prime. Austin was barely two years old…” Officer Roy said nothing as he noted how silent the sergeant had become. The young officer cleared his throat. “That was 17 years ago; it’s one of the things I remember from grade school.” “Yep. The shortest long time I’ve ever known!” “What does that mean? Bryan Ross looked toward the boy with the telescope. He let out a heavy sigh. “Al was my best friend, Officer Jenkins. Just thinkin’ out loud.” Then Sergeant Ross opened the car door. “Let’s go Roy; we’ll have no trouble from Austin.” “Yeah,” Jenkins laughed, “But we don’t want the ‘Greenbriar Ghost’ to get him…” Ross may as well have shot Officer Jenkins through the heart; the look he gave him was a bullet. Then he put his hand on his head. He shook his head. “Sorry Roy. I’m just more than sensitive when someone mentions that!” “Sorry myself, partner. I forgot the Greenbriar drowning was your first…first…” “My first homicide. Turned out to be a suicide.”

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Jenkins changed the subject fast. “Let’s get going then. We’ll tell the kid he needs to leave the park; it’s past closing time and it’s dark.” “Nope” Ross smiled, “He has special permission to stay as late as he needs to tonight; it’s for a project he is doing for the university. We’ll drive by in a few hours; Austin says he should be through around midnight.” Jenkins sighed and rolled his eyes, “So now we’re babysitting geeks, huh?” The sergeant let loose a big laugh. “Yep, protection for the people gets a bit side-tracked sometimes!” Austin Keats was oblivious of his surroundings. He focused on his compass readings, on his calculator, and on his telescope. This wasn’t just a chance to use Riverside Park after hours; he was doing this for the university! That was very important to him. He wanted his mom to be proud of him…and he wanted his dad to be proud also... the dad he really never knew… “I’m glad Bry is on patrol tonight – that means no interruptions from anyone. What a beautiful, clear sky! Ah, even so, I should barely be able to find my target! GRRRR – why does it have to be a full moon tonight?” Austin placed a blinder on the end of the scope pointing to the sky – this was to minimize the unwanted, bright moonlight from shining on the main mirror. ”Man, even if everything goes as planned I still might not be able to see Uranus through this bright moonlight!” The planet Uranus was Austin’s favorite planet. Perhaps it was because the distant planet was much like he was: terrifically enigmatic, wonderfully strange. “Darn it! I knew I should have brought the other tripod. The mount on this one will have my field-of-view shaking like a guy on his first date!” He furrowed his eyebrows and realized that he had

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never been on a real date. He shrugged his shoulders, “Scientists don’t have time to date! But I will…after I become famous!” He opened a small case and removed a Philips-head screwdriver. He tried to tighten the mount to steady the telescope. The scope promptly fell off the tripod. As he struggled to catch it, Austin’s eyes caught something by the river. In a place illuminated only by moonlight and his small lantern, the object appeared to glow. He rubbed his eyes. The image got larger. “No”, Austin thought, “it’s perspective – it’s getting closer!” Having been able to catch the telescope, Austin somehow got it on the tripod and to mount properly – all while keeping an eye on the approaching object. “I wish Bry was here!” He laughed nervously. “This might be the Greenbriar Ghost!” But then, it did appear to have emerged either from the woods that sheltered Greenbriar Manor, or from the river itself. “Nooo, it’s just a coincidence. Oh, man…the moon is too high! Crap!” Austin took out his celestial calculator and entered some figures. “I knew it! Uranus is somewhere in this moonlight! When it exits to a piece of sky I can see, it will look like a plain star! I won’t be able to distinguish it from the other stars. Have I wasted an important night on a full moon and a bad mount?” Austin collapsed onto the ground and decided to re-check the figures. He knew it was probably in vain, but it’s something all great scientists do. “Hmm… speaking of figures…our object becomes a person! Wow – it’s a SHE!” She was slender almost waif-like. She was dressed in what appeared to be a white nightgown. Closer still, her contours became visible when a strong breeze blew her nightgown against her body. Such a breeze became an invisible sculptor using a transparent, silent chisel to carve such a masterpiece. Her night-black hair drastically contrasted her over-all paleness; she was an amazing study of light and shadow. Even closer, the same contours hinted to a mid to late teen. She would soon be upon him. He was drawn to her orbit, as if he had discovered a rogue comet or an unknown

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moon. Very soon he would know. Her path was well-known. It was toward HIM! Austin was shaking like a telescope on a bad tripod mount when she stopped. His heart almost stopped… “Are you…are you ok, Miss?” She surrendered a slight grin. “Of course I’m ok. What makes you think that I’m not?” “Well, you see, this park closes at 9 PM: It’s just shy of 11 now. And, please pardon me for saying this, but you don’t seem to be dressed for a nightly romp outdoors. Are you…lost or something?” Her grin became a bit wider. ”Perhaps we are all lost. Do you know where you are going? That is, why are YOU here if the park is closed?” Austin looked at his telescope. “I think that’s obvious...” She had no expression on her face. Then she suddenly burst into insane laughter. “You’re a Peeping Tom! I’m soooo relieved; I thought you were doing something constructive on a Friday night – on this beautiful, wonderful Friday night!” Austin laughed nervously. “I am a Peeping Tom, but not the kind you think! You see, what I look at: stars, planets, moons, they don’t care if I’m looking...” She didn’t loosen her grip, “How do you know they don’t care? Have you asked them?” Austin showed a pensive grin. “Of course I asked! But sound doesn’t travel through the vacuum of space. So, if you don’t mind, I’ll keep on looking!” She smiled big. “By all means, keep looking! Hmmm, say professor, what’s your name?” “My name is Austin, Austin Keats. And your name, Miss? ” “Keats! I bet you have a locked-up poet in you! Wow, what IS poetic is this full moon. Will this full moon go to waste? May I look at it through this?” Austin wondered what she meant by “go to waste”. “Sure, but let me put a moon filter on first.”

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“Why do you want to do that?” “Moonlight is reflected sunlight. So you want to be blinded?” “Sunlight?” She stopped smiling. “Oh, I see. Then I take it that you aren’t here to look at the moon. What do you want to see?” Austin had the moon filter in place. “It doesn’t matter now. Help yourself! I’m a bit bored with the moon…” He sat down. She turned to him. “How could anyone think a full moon is boring?” She looked down. When she met his gaze again, she was smiling less. “What did you wish to see tonight, Austin?” She looked into the telescope. “I was hoping to see the planet Uranus. But I ran into some unforeseen problems and missed my chance. It’s my favorite planet.” She let out a loud gasp. “Wow, it’s sooo beautiful! I’ve never seen the moon close up before, except on TV. Beautiful!” She slowly walked up to Austin. “May I sit next to you, Austin?” She asked like a little girl. “Uh … sure!” She sat down with a fluid grace that caught Austin off-guard. “Austin…why is Uranus your favorite planet?” Austin looked up to the sky. She saw the wistful look on his lantern–lit face. “Well, for one, it’s big! It also has rings like Saturn, but you can’t see them most of the time because Uranus lies almost completely on its side! And it has a magnetic field 100 times greater than the earth’s. It’s blue-green in color – turquoise, like your eyes in this lantern light…” The big smile again. “My eyes ARE light-blue; thanks for noticing.” Austin cleared his throat but said nothing. “You forgot to mention that it’s Shakespeare’s favorite planet too!” She looked into his brown eyes. Austin gave her a puzzled look. Then he laughed and scratched his head. “You almost had me there! Uranus was discovered about a century after Shakespeare died! Sorry, but I

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don’t see how Shakespeare could have developed an opinion about…” “Professor Keats! Have you ever read anything from the ‘Bard’?” “Shakespeare? Of course I have; you have to at school. But never once in his poetry or in his plays did he ever mention Uranus!” She just smiled; she had him now. “Not directly, no! Does Uranus have any moons?” “Yes, 27 discovered. Hey come to mention it, all of Uranus’ moons are named for Shakespeare characters; except two. There are five main moons. The two largest moons are Titania and Oberon…” She raised her eyebrows. “Ring any bells?” “They were the queen and king of the fairies in A Mid Summer Night’s Dream!” “Keep going; you’re on a roll!” “Let’s see…Umbriel…nothing there…Arial…Arial is the sprite from The Tempest…” “One more to go, professor” “The last main moon of Uranus is Miranda – quite the mysterious little moon…oh yeah! She was the beautiful daughter of the sorcerer Prospero – also from The Tempest!” She jumped up and clapped her hands with great applause. “Nice to meet you, Austin Keats! My name is Miranda, Miranda Myers!” Austin’s jaw dropped, “You’re joking, right?” She sat back down a little closer to Austin. “NO, sir, I am not.” Austin pushed the blonde hair away from his eyes. “I’m glad to meet you, Miranda.” He held out his hand. She put out her hand a bit, then pulled it back. “The pleasure is all mine, Austin. I would love to stay around and talk some more, but I really think I should be getting back…”

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“What’s your hurry, Miranda? I have permission to be here and Officer Ross is on patrol tonight - he’s a friend of mine, so if you’re with me, you have nothing to worry about...” She smiled a wistful smile, “So I’m with YOU, am I? I really would love to stay, but I must be getting back…” “Please stay…just another few minutes…” He took her hand; she was unprepared. “Miranda… your hand is cold as ice! Are you feeling a chill, is that why you need to get back?” After all, it was fall. Austin knew the temperature was around 55 degrees Fahrenheit – winds light and variable… he knew the forecast… She pulled her hand away. “No, it’s not cold…not really. But you know what they say: cold hands, warm heart. Ok, you smooth talker! I guess I can stay a bit longer. But I must be home by midnight, or else I’ll turn into a pumpkin!” “Great! While you’re here, I want to try to see Uranus one more time. There’s only a very small chance, but maybe I can find it… if I have Miranda sitting right here.” Excuse me while I do some quick calculations...” “Go ahead professor! I’ll just bathe in this fabulous moonlight!” Austin pushed buttons on his calculator, but his eyes were on her as she lay on the hill. He stood and moved to re-orient the telescope, but even then he shot a few stray glances at her. “Who the heck is this girl? Why is she running around a public park in a nightgown? Sure there are a few residents here, but I don’t remember having seen her before. And Miranda? No way that can really be her name? “ Austin then shifted his thoughts from what she couldn’t be to what she appeared to be. “She IS beautiful! But I suspect she is not as fragile as she appears to be. I know she is definitely intelligent. She really likes Shakespeare! She’s an enigma but she IS real: I TOUCHED HER! Yeah…and she’s real close; she’s the first girl who has shown any sort of interest in ME!”

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“Do you like what you see, professor? Do you really think I’m a celestial body?” Austin hoped the moonlight would conceal his blushing. “I’m…sorry…I didn’t mean to…stare at you like that. I’m sorry.” He walked away from the telescope and put the calculator away in the small case. She began to laugh her insane laugh again. “Awww, you can’t help it; we’ve already established you’re a Peeping Tom!” Just as abruptly, she stopped laughing. “Actually…I’m really flattered. When you look at me, it’s like you’re seeing a girl for the very first time. And you like what you see, don’t you, Austin?” He looked down. Then he raised his head just enough so she could see his eyes. “You are the first girl I HAVE ever seen…in her UNDERWEAR!” She laughed louder. It slowly subsided, leaving only that smile. ”I guess I do look like a lunatic! Full-moon madness, you know?” Austin grinned, “Whatever! Hey, if my calculations are correct and if the telescope is positioned correctly, we might be able to see Uranus now!” Miranda’s eyebrows knitted into a straight line. “Austin, what time is it?” “I have a quarter till midnight.” “Well, I can take a quick look, but I’m already beginning to turn orange…” He gave her an odd look. “Oh…pumpkin…I get it!” She laughed, but it sounded forced. She peered into the telescope. Austin was puzzled, “Where is she going if she has 15 minutes to get there? The only place I know is…is…” The only places he knew were the river…or Greenbriar Manor! Miranda noticed the pregnant pause. She saw him deep in thought and crept up on him from behind. She whispered in his ear, “You’re so cute when you blush,” Austin gasped. She laughed loudly.

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“Geez, you startled me!” He smiled. “I’m not used to having someone with me; it’s usually lonely around here.” Miranda’s smile faded like a bright moon disappearing behind a dark cloud. “I hear you, professor. I know exactly what you mean…” She peered into the telescope. Austin missed her smile, “You DO know what I mean, don’t you Miranda?” She collapsed on the hill again. Austin fell next to her. “What did you see in the scope, Miranda?” “Sorry, Austin. All I saw was a group of five stars…” “No way! You should only see four! “ He jumped up and ran to the telescope. He pushed the tracking controller in one second intervals. “Miranda! It’s Uranus! It looks like a very dim star but you saw it! Do you know what the odds are for us seeing it?” “I’m sure my professor can calculate them!” She looked nervously around the park. “Austin, can I ask you a personal question?” “Sure, because I think you will anyway.” She spoke in a serious tone, “Austin… do you like being lonely all the time?” Austin tilted his head and flipped his blonde hair. “It appears we have something else in common: you are a Peeping Tom, too!” She didn’t smile. “What makes you think I’m alone all the time? I’m very close to my family and I get along with all my teachers. In fact, I’m hardly ever alone! She wasn’t the least bit impressed. “I didn’t say ‘alone’: I said, ‘lonely’! I didn’t hear you mention any friends, Austin. Do you have any close friends?” Austin looked into those turquoise eyes with the black holes in the middle – yanking him in. ”Such gravity,” he thought. “Well, let’s see…there’s Bryan… Officer Ross. We are very close friends…he’s my Godfather…”

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“That falls into the “family’ category. I mean people our age?” “Let’s see there’s…in my…” Austin lowered his head, “What a genius I am,” he thought. Is there really …no one?” She changed the subject back to family, “At least he’s comfortable talking about family,” she thought. “Ok, tell me about your family.” She was quite anxious, although she tried to hide it. It was after midnight now. “Mom is great! It has really been tough on us; my father was a famous scientist…but he died in a medical lab accident when I was two years old…” Miranda gasped! “What? How did he die? “ She lowered her head, “Sorry…” “It’s ok. He was working with some manufactured viruses one day. The containment field broke down – ‘lost integrity’ they said. The last protocol for such an accident is…sterilization.” Miranda jumped into a standing position. Austin saw her eyes open wide. “Are you telling me he was deliberately killed?” Austin looked up to the sky, “There has to be very strict protocols when many lives are endangered – my father respected those protocols…he was one who helped to design them!” “Keats! Albert Keats was your father?” “Yes. I never really knew him! I only know what family, – including Bryan Ross, told me. And his colleagues, of course.” Miranda began to cry. “I lost my mother just a year after I was born to some sort of drowning accident. When I turned sixteen I was told she had postpartum depression. My mom’s parents, my grandparents, of course, raised me. I love them dearly and they have been great to me, but they are really strict because they had to be. I never knew my father because no one knows who he is! Mother knew, but she never told anyone. So, I don’t even know if she even told my father she was pregnant! I was given my mother’s last name…Austin, I’m so

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sorry, but I really have to leave now! My grandparents must be worried by now!” Austin stood up. :”Wait, Miranda. There are a few things I need to know!” She ran over and kissed him. He was taken aback from the suddenness; at least you have time to calculate when an asteroid is going to collide with you. “Don’t you worry, Austin Keats! We are connected…more than you know! We WILL see each other soon! Austin, you have a close friend now!” She smiled that huge smile through her tears. Then she bolted toward the river. “Miranda wait! At least tell me where you live!” She turned to him and pointed to the woods, “I live in Greenbriar Manor!” Austin’s jaw dropped. “No one has lived in Greenbriar Manor for almost 20 years now…” Austin watched his moon Miranda resume its orbit. He was trying to wrap his genius mind around what she last said. Of course, he reasoned it out… “Her age…the timing…Greenbriar Manor…could Miranda’s mother really be…” He had heard Bryan Ross talk about a Stephanie Myers to his mother when he was 10 years old – Bryan had given him his first telescope for his birthday. Apparently Bryan had just been promoted to homicide detective. He was called out to this very park because some kids had discovered a body floating in the river. She was dressed in a nightgown. There were no obvious signs of foul play… The coroner ruled it was a suicide because she was being treated for terminal cancer because of a genetic disease called XP-A, which he later found out was the A form of xeroderma pigmentosum, a hyper-allergic response to the UV rays of sunlight. The body’s DNA in skin is unable to repair the skin, afterward torturous sunburn and cancers form from even the tiniest exposure

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to sunlight. The type “A” form has a 40% mortality rate by the age of 20. Austin didn’t hear much more of that conversation, but Bryan was obviously upset; he had never seen him cry before or since. Could the dead woman have been Miranda’s mother? Have the Myers’ really returned to Greenbriar Manor? Why was Bryan Ross so upset? Was it because it was his first dead body? Was it something much deeper?

Austin had just finished packing his equipment when the police cruiser pulled up. A car horn honked twice. Austin waved and slowly toted his bulky equipment toward the police car. He saw only one officer approach him. From the silhouette, he knew it was Bryan. “Whoa, Austin; let me give you a hand!” “Are you alone, Bry? Where’s your partner?” “Officer Jenkins got a ride back to the station with Officer McCoy. I don’t have to go back and I was going to give you a ride home, anyway, right?” Austin couldn’t hold it in any longer, “Bry, I saw something incredible tonight; I don’t know how to process it all!” “Whoa, partner! Calm down! I take it you got to see Uranus, then. Good for you, ‘Hawkeye’!” “Bryan…I think I saw the daughter of the ‘Greenbriar Ghost’!” Bryan Ross clenched his jaws and bit his lip. “What on earth are you talking about?” “I saw her, just as clear as I see you! And I talked to her- just like you and I are talking right now!” Austin heard the rattling of his equipment as Bryan carried it. It sounded to Austin like the load was twice as heavy as it should have been. “Bry, are you alright?”

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In a surprising, calm tone, Bryan asked, “’Hawkeye’, tell me what you saw!” Austin described his encounter with Miranda in clear detail. As Bryan put the equipment in the back seat of the police car, Austin saw a strange expression on his face. “Bryan…what’s going on?” He turned to Austin and smiled. “I am glad you are a trained observer – just like me and your ‘old man’! You say this Miranda’s last name was Myers?” “Bryan…I remember a long time ago that you spoke of a Stephanie Myers that you found…on your first…” “You heard me talking to your mom? Sorry, pal…that was a private conversation. But I’m glad you heard because tonight I am deputizing you for an investigation. Are you up to the challenge?” Austin’s eyes got wide, “Sure! But I better ask what you want me to do.” “Hawkeye, let’s go to Greenbriar Manor and check it out!” Bryan turned to Austin. Austin just looked straight ahead and shook his head, “Bry, I have to know, too!” The police cruiser turned onto a dark, asphalt road and proceeded to the gate leading to the estate. “Bryan, how are we going to get in? That gate is locked electronically...” “I have a ‘key’ – just in case trespassers climb over the fence or come in from the riverside.” Neither Bryan nor Austin was prepared to see what they saw. “Bryan? Is there any reason why that gate should be open?” “They’re plenty of reasons. Some of them are legal…Austin, I think I better take you home and call for backup before I go in there…” “Call for backup NOW! I have to see what’s in there for myself!”

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Officer Ross did just that; he called for backup. “Austin, I know you’re a man, but your mother will skin me alive if you even get a scratch! Do EVERYTHING I say when I say it! You got me?” “Roger that!” Ten minutes later a second cruiser showed up. Its lights were off as Officer Ross requested. “McKenzie, you stay here by the radio.” Ross was a bit amused to see Officer Jenkins there as well. “Well, Roy, why are you here when you are off-shift?” “Are you freaking kidding me? When I heard where you were and who was with you NOTHING could have kept me away!” “Thanks buddy! Ok, you two, the three of us will proceed on foot. Austin, get behind us and keep your senses on full alert. Tug on my shirt if you notice anything out of the ordinary. Don’t say anything out loud!” “Roger that, Bry,” Austin said with a breath-less whisper. The driveway straightened out after a hundred yards. Jenkins pointed to what they all saw: a car and a moving van parked by the manor. All the lights in the manor were on. Bryan was upset, “Why in the hell did no one call to tell us someone is moving in?” Jenkins took off his hat and wiped the sweat off his forehead, then let out a heavy sigh. “I don’t think ghosts drive vans nor need lights!” Bryan radioed an update. “We still need to proceed with caution; these people may not be here legally!” “Roger that!” Jenkins and Austin responded in unison. The front door of Greenbriar Manor was as wide open as the eyes of the three investigators. No secrets appeared to be there. It was as if the Manor was an open book - a book pleading to be read. The three were willing to oblige. “Austin, I want you to hang back in the shadows and observe. Here is a walkie-talkie. If you hear or see anything that doesn’t look right, that talkie is linked to Officer McKenzie’s radio. Call him every 5 minutes anyway and give him a status report. If you hear gunshots, you run fast and call McKenzie. Is everything clear?”

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Austin swallowed loud, “Sure, Bry; I understand.” Austin observed the two officers slowly approach the front door. He heard a doorbell. “What in the heck are they doing? Bry may as well have brought a megaphone!” Austin whispered in the talkie, “The officers are at the front door and just rang the doorbell! No response yet, but the front door is wide open!” “Understood, Mr. Keats. Stay alert!” Austin saw an elderly couple appear at the door. No weapons drawn, no erratic behavior observed. The two officers showed their IDs and badges. The old man held out his hand, which both officers shook. The old woman shook Officer Jenkins’s hand and embraced Officer Ross! “WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?” Austin spoke out to himself. As he relayed his observation to the cruiser, Bryan motioned for Austin to approach. Austin updated the cruiser, followed with an obvious sigh of relief. As Austin walked into the front door, a third person stood there that Austin recognized instantly. “Miranda!” She smiled her smile. “Austin, I would like you to meet my grandparents! Gram, gramp, this is Austin Keats, the son of Albert Keats! Gram, may I show Austin my room? He might be able to fix my computer while he’s here.” “Only for a short while. It’s very late and everything is in the house now. We all need to get some sleep!” Miranda kissed her grandmother’s cheek and grabbed Austin’s hand. “Follow me, professor; I need to borrow your brain!” Austin’s attention became focused on Miranda, but Bryan Ross detected the heavy, tense atmosphere in the vast living room. He became nauseous. He noticed that Mira Myer’s looked as pale as he felt. “Austin we can’t stay long, we’re obviously intruding. Roy, you can go back to the cruiser and you two can go. Thanks for your

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help! Just put in your report that the original owners are back in Greenbriar Manor and there was no incident. Austin, you have 15 minutes!” “Roger that…I mean…ok!” Frank Myer’s offered Bryan a chair, but Bryan countered with an offer to close up the van and to check all the outside entrances and first floor windows to see if they were locked. “We have patrolled the estate for many years. Rest assured that we are always patrolling around here because of the stupid story of the Greenbriar Ghost…” Bryan gagged on the last words and Frank sat him down in a chair. The couple looked anxiously into each other’s eyes. Frank winked at his wife. “It’s the right time. Mira, go get us some tea and bring the box with you.” Frank walked over to the front door and locked it. He retuned to a recliner next to Bryan and sat down. “Long time, no see, Detective Ross?” “Excuse me, Frank, but I am no longer a detective. The incident concerning your daughter made me…made me go back to being a patrol officer. You said it is the right time, Frank, and it is…there is something you need to know…” Frank took hold of Bryan’s left hand. “We know, son, we know. But there is something that you don’t know.” The door clicked behind Austin and he was tackled onto the bed. He looked up to see Miranda’s awesome face but his ears were met with that insane laughter. His eyes showed astonishment. “I’m not going to rape you, silly boy. I was so surprised to see you standing at my door with two police officers. I was hoping you really are a Peeping Tom. But you have to tell me so I can be ready…” “Miranda, you are insane! My mom is already going to skin me alive and now your grandparents are too! Didn’t you say they are very strict? Geez, what am I going to say to them?”

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“What do you mean? I already told them everything about tonight. Why lie when we didn’t do anything wrong?” “How did they take it when you came in wearing just a nightgown? I am soooooo dead!” “Nothing like a little excitement on a Friday night. Actually, I think they were delighted in a way. All my clothes are still packed; this gown was on top of a box so I wore it. I didn’t think anyone would be around anyway. You should have seen my Gram’s face when I told her you are Albert Keats’ son.” “Oh? Why would react at all? Did she know my father?” “Silly boy, EVERYONE knows about your father. Did you watch that “60 Minutes” report last year about your dad’s breakthrough in gene therapy?” “Well, yeah, of course. Anything concerning my father interests me. In fact mom, Bryan, and I watched it together.” “Is that man downstairs the Bryan you have been talking about?” “Yep. Hey did you say you have a computer that needs fixed?” “Austin, I really don’t care about the damn computer right now! Do you know if he’s the same Bryan Ross that worked on my mother’s case?” “Was your mother’s name, Stephanie?” “Yes. That is right! So that is him! I want to ask him about the investigation…” “Miranda.., I know you want to find out more about your mom; you’re just like me when it comes to my dad! But Bryan never recovered from that case. He gave up being a detective because of it! I saw him cry about it in front of my mom 8 years after it happened! I think you better go slowly about discussing it with him. Let me pinch-hit for you on this. I’ll let you know when the time is right.” Miranda leaned over and kissed him. Austin was still kissing air when he opened his eyes from that insane laugh of hers.

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“Austin, there’s a few things I need to tell you before you leave. Have you ever heard of a genetic disease called xenoderma pigmentosum?” “I knew your mom had it when I overheard Bryan and my mom those years back. So I looked it up on the internet. Sounds horrible! Is that what you wanted to tell me?” “We got a bit side-tracked earlier. On that ‘60 Minutes’ show about your dad, XP was one of the diseases discussed about using your dad’s gene-therapy techniques to actually cure it! Not a treatment, a CURE! My grandparents got in touch with the Keats Foundation and I was chosen to participate in the first trials. That was two years ago. After one more year of therapy, I will be a truly normal person!” Austin looked like his best friend died. “Are you telling me you have the same disease Miranda?” She reassured him with that smile of hers. “No! It’s not the same disease now! My DNA is now able to repair itself – not completely yet, but almost. If it were not for your dad, I very well could be dead like…like my mother. I am now able to walk in the moonlight, which as you pointed out tonight is really sunlight. I can even go outside during the day now, without the fear of getting cancer, although for only about 15 minutes a day. But after one more year…all I’ll need is a good sun block!” Your dad has literally saved my life! And I could have two more people to share it with…” “Am I one of those people, Miranda?” His gaze found her eyes. He searched for himself in them.’ “What do you think?” She slowly leaned toward him. Austin kissed her this time. “May I assume that Bry is the other person?” “Bry, is it?” Miranda jumped from her bed and opened her nightstand drawer, “I need to show you something, Austin. But answer this first, please: when did you become interested in astronomy? “

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Austin flipped his blond hair. “Actually, it was Bryan that got me hooked on it. When I was 10, he bought me my first telescope…” “Wasn’t that the same night you overheard him talking to your mom about…MY mom?” Austin shook his head to say “yes”. “And when did Uranus become your favorite planet?” Austin’s eyebrows knitted in deep thought. His eyes widened. “Bryan talked about a night he and my dad went to the university’s giant reflector because a friend told them about a comet that was going to smash into Uranus! It was the main astronomical event of that year…” “I see. Austin, look at this.” Miranda handed a document to him. Austin looked at it and his eyes got wide. “Miranda, this is a report written by your mom! A report on Uranus! She describes why it is her favorite planet…” “Austin, it appears that the probability distributions of several events in time have all collapsed by our observations to favor this reality.” She smiled wickedly. “Ok Miss Smarty-pants! What you’re telling me is that you don’t believe in coincidence?” “That’s right, professor! Look on the right margin of page 5.” Austin rapidly flipped to page five. His jaw dropped. “WHAAAAAAAAAAAT?” Written in pencil was a short note: “seeing B R tonight!” “Now you see why I want to talk to Bryan Ross!” Austin handed back the paper. Miranda’s hands were shaking as she returned it back to its tomb in the nightstand. As she sat up on the bed, Austin took her hands into his. His eyes filled with an emotion he had not used in a long time: pure compassion. He was rewarded with a kiss. “Miranda, I promise I will find out more about this and…” “AUSTIN, IT’S TIME3 TO GO!” Austin got a good night kiss and Miranda walked him downstairs. Frank Myers held out his hand to Austin. “Sorry we

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didn’t get a chance to chat, young man! But something tells me we will see each other soon!” “Yes sir, I’m sure too!” The door closed behind them. Bryan and Austin walked slowly to the patrol car without saying a word to each other. .Bryan broke the silence, “Did you fix Miranda’s computer?” “No sir, we got side tracked,” Austin noticed that Bryan didn’t comment. They drove off the estate and headed to the park exit. “Bry, I found out that Miranda’s mom was an astronomer, too! In fact, Uranus was her favorite planet, too!” “Is that so?” Bryan Ross looked straight ahead. “Bryan, I also notice that you have the same eyes as Miranda.” Bryan cleared his throat, “Hey ‘Hawkeye’! The Myers’ invited us over next weekend. Did you know that Miranda’s birthday is next Saturday? Your mom is invited too! Don’t say anything to Miranda; it’s gonna be a surprise!” “Bryan…your eyes are the same color as Miranda’s.” Bryan pulled off to the side of the road and turned off the engine. “And you call yourself a scientist? You broke the main axiom of science just now!” “I don’t understand you, Bry.” Bryan Ross, the Godfather, put his hand on Austin’s shoulder. “You can’t put effect before cause! The correct inference is that Miranda has the same eyes as me!” “Bry?” Bryan Ross looked into the eyes of his Godson. “I wish your dad was here. Austin I found out this night that Miranda has MY eyes.” Austin’s eyes were wide with astonishment. “How in the world do you know that?” “The Greenbriar Ghost told me herself. After all these years…they found that Stephanie kept a diary.” As wide open as his eyes were, Austin managed to go wider. It was only the second time he saw Bryan Ross cry.

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