The Preserved (Chapter 4)

Updated on March 20, 2018

Ankle Deep

“Doug!” Samantha shouted. She remembered something.

“I need to call Doug. He might know where Margaret is.” She had her cell phone out, dialing.

I twisted in my seat, gripped the leather steering wheel of Samantha’s Land Cruiser. Looked over at her cell phone. Where was my phone? I remembered. Chuck said that the chief had it. It had fried in the fall – my sky dive into the pool. He had the lab guys trying to pull data from it. No luck so far. The bullet hole didn't help either.

“Damned phones,” Samantha said. “Why can’t I just dial numbers?” She finally found the right icon.

Something about the phone kept bugging me. I mean, if these blue-bloods – my new name for the bad guys – had the tech to erase all my phone calls, digital photos I stored on a secure server, interrupt phone calls to the station – how hard would it be for them to trace a cell phone? I doubted they would know to track Samantha’s cell phone, would they?

We were speeding down 195, heading for Model City, where Samantha’s granddaughter, Margaret lived. I was all over the road, passing cars. So far, I hadn’t attracted the attention of any patrol cars, which wasn’t a surprise given the sheer number of speeders in the Miami area. The sun was still hanging, mid sky, an irritating blister between the pregnant storm clouds, threatening to soak the highway.

Margaret kept an apartment off 23rd. A low-rent district sprinkled with older houses and post-modern high rises, choked between strip malls and the occasional, low-key, motorcycle gang clubhouse.

I knew the area well. Had a few too many corpses there back in the day. I hoped Margaret wasn’t a recent addition.

We needed to make a few stops before we got there, however.

“Who’s Doug?” I asked.

Samantha hushed me. “It’s ringing. Margaret’s -- Margie’s boyfriend. He watches her son, Jimmy.” She was listening.

I lapsed into colloquial. “Baby Daddy?” My humor was a bit dry.

“No,” she said. “A nice guy though. Pick up, pick up.” She was willing Doug to be there.

“Jimmy?” I asked.

She shushed me again. “Jimmy is two. He’s in daycare when Margie works.”

So, Margie had a two-year old kid. Good for her, I thought. I hope she hadn’t died in the fire. At the same time, if she had, I was thinking about turning around. Heading back to the hospital. Take my licks. Tell them what I had so far, but the narrow escape from the hospital had me paranoid. If they found me there, they – whoever ‘they’ were – might come for me at the station. That’d be a real shooting gallery then, I thought. Would the blue-bloods have the guts to come?



“Yes, this is he. Who is this?” he asked. He seemed edgy, nervous, Samantha thought.

“This is Samantha Gallagher, Margaret – Margie’s grandmother.”

A pause on the other end. Then, “I didn’t think you two were talking.”

“We aren’t, but I’m worried.”

Another pause. “Oh, to hell with it. She told me not to tell you where she was or what she was doing, but…”

Samantha heard Doug sniffle on the phone. “I think she… I have Jimmy. Picked him up after Margie didn’t show at the daycare. Brought him here.”

“She what? You said you think she…” Samantha said.

“That fire. The Sentinels’ one. That beach condo yesterday. I was going to call you, but…”

Samantha inhaled sharply. Looked at me. “You think she was in that fire?”

“Well, I’m not sure, I mean –”

“Listen Doug, I’m in my car with a friend of mine. He’s a detective. He works for Miami Dade. Do you mind if I put you on speaker?”

“No, go ahead.”

Samantha put him on the vehicle’s speakers. I introduced myself.

“Start again, please,” she said.

“Okay, well. Like I said. Margie almost always picks up Jimmy or calls me if she needs me to grab him. But this time, the daycare called me, and I just told them she was running late. So, I picked up Jimmy. Tried calling Margie then. Nothing. Over and over. I remember she said she was going to try get a job in Miami Beach and she did call me around lunch time, all quiet. Said she was working at the Sentinels of the Sea – they hired her on the spot. She thought she would be off at four p.m. That was the last I heard, until the fire.”

“Was there something more?” I asked.


“Her car,” I prompted.

“Her car is missing. It was not in the parking lot of the Sentinels of the Sea or nearby, the police said.”

“Doug, that’s good news,” I said.

“Yeah, but where the hell is she? It’s been over 24 hours now. If she had a flat tire she’d call.” He sighed. “Maybe she was at work, I…”

“Doug, there were no deaths.”

“Say again?”

“At the fire – the Sentinels – no bodies were found.” I was stretching it a bit. They hadn’t found any bodies yet, but the cadaver dogs were still at it.

Samantha asked, “Have you checked her place?”

“Yeah, with the cops, about an hour ago as a matter of fact.”

“An hour ago?” I asked.

“Yeah, they went all over the apartment – searching. It’s a mess – they opened everything and left it open -- and you know what?”

I waited.

“Those guys didn’t seem to care,” Doug said.

“Were they in uniform?”

“Yeah. Kind of plain though.”

“How do you mean?”

“Well, aren’t they supposed to have their gear. The big belt, holster – you know all the stuff you guys carry.”

“No gear?”

“Nothing. Just those big guns. Boxy things. Little machine guns, slung over their shoulders. Serious heat.”

“What did they say?” I already knew the answer.

“What did they say? He paused, as if considering. “Nothing. They showed me a missing persons list or something. Come to think of it, I don’t remember them saying anything.”

“Are you sure?”

“Pretty sure.” Doug said.

“How did they tell you what they wanted?”

“They handed me a cell phone – the man on the line – he let me know what was going on.”

This was getting weirder by the moment. “What was the man’s name on the phone with you?”

Doug thought for a moment. “It was a common name, kind of. Wells, yeah that was it. He said his name was Detective Franklin Wells, Miami Dade – Narcotics. Do you know him?”

“A little,” I lied. “Thanks Doug. Now listen to me.”


“Did they – the officers you saw – did they take anything from Margie’s place?”

“Not that I saw. But…”

“But what?”

“They acted like jerks when I saw one with the sniffer.”

“The sniffer?"

"That’s what Detective Wells said on the phone. He said it was a standard thing they did these days. That it was just another tech tool of the trade. But that I should stand back, because it messes up the signal or something.”



“Describe this sniffer.”

“A silver looking ball.”

“Come again?”

“He had a silver ball, about the size of a golf ball – he was using it like…”


“I can’t say. The closest I can say is that he was using it like I use a stud-finder at work. You, know, looking for a place to drill into the –”

“I know.”

“Okay, so he was holding it in the air, like he was scanning for something,” Doug said.



“Did Detective Wells say what they were scanning for?”

“No, but they scanned Jimmy with it. Gave me a real funny look afterwards.”

“They scanned Jimmy?” Samantha asked.

“Yeah, but I pulled him back. One the cops didn’t like that, but the other pushed him back. Weird, I tell you. And Margie’s neighbors came outside then, where I was, holding Jimmy.”

“Then what?”

“Then those cops vanished. I mean one moment, they were in the apartment and the next, gone.”

“Does Margie have a back door?”

“Yes, but they’d need to climb a six-foot fence to get out. Margie keeps the gate locked. I checked, it was still locked after they disappeared.

“Where is Jimmy now?” Samantha asked.

Fifteen minutes later, we had Jimmy and I was sitting in front of the Probucks Supermarket. Samantha was inside with Jimmy, getting extra groceries, just in case. I was ticking off a list of supplies I’d need, in my head and my arm was beginning to hurt again from glass they’d pulled out of it yesterday.

Before we left, I told Doug not to answer any calls from the police, unless they were from me – from now on. I also advised him to keep an eye out for any of those odd officers and to call me – I gave him a number from one of my cash phones. Thing was, that cash phone was not on me, but I’d pick it up soon enough.

I put a call into a Sheila again at the station while I waited for Samantha. I was reasonably sure that my new friends weren’t tracing Samantha’s cell phone. I filled her in.

The hospital situation was a mess, Sheila advised. They were shutting down Miami Beach. Roadblocks everywhere. There was a shit-storm brewing and I was enemy number one. Right now, however, they weren’t broadcasting it.

“Three dead so far. Two patients and guy in the restroom, Percy.”

“Jesus,” I said. “This is getting out of hand.”

Sheila was taking another call, had me on hold again. Then she came back.

“How long is this going to take, Percy?” Sheila whispered.

“If I knew that, I’d be a genius,” I told her.

“Funny, Percy. But you ain’t no dummy.”

“Seriously, Sheila. I’m in way over my ankles on this one.” I paused.

"Deep water, huh?"

“Keep using this number for now. If I need to, I’ll get you another.”


“And is the chief still with me?”

“Yes. He is backing you, but the Feds are breathing down his neck, he said. He doesn’t know how long he can keep them guessing. They want to talk to you, yesterday,” Sheila said.

“Tell the chief that I’m tracking a Margaret Gallagher, that I need everything you have on her. Car, past addresses, former jobs, friends, father’s family, the works.” I passed on all I had on Margie.

“What does this Margie have to do with the Sentinels fire?” Sheila asked. “How about the hospital?”

“She’s a witness,” I offered. “And I think they have her, but…”

“Percy, what?”

“I think Margie has something they want. That she might have been kidnapped. It's my working theory, for now.”

Doug had just confirmed it for me. Weird unknown cops searching Margie's apartment? Margie working at the Sentinels. Sounded like I was on the right trail. If she had whatever they wanted, they might keep her alive -- if they have her.

The thing was, what were the chances that Margie would be working at the Sentinels of the Sea, the very day it burned? The same day I was there? The very same Margie that would never have been born, if I hadn’t dragged her mother out a crack house. The very same Margie, who’s grandmother (a nurse) had been my close friend, for many years.

I didn’t like coincidences, and these were just too obvious to me. I felt like I was being played – led down the garden path, to the last row, where they dug the grave. But I couldn’t find the damned garden.

“The chief wanted to know if you could play this one slower, gather the crew together,” Sheila said after having placed me on hold.

“No, tell him this one has to be on the fly. Please get me the info, asap.”

“Okay, Percy and…Able?”


“The three dead at the hospital.”

“Go on.”

“Their wounds.”

“What about them?”

“You said that they were using Uzi’s or something similar, right?”


“There are no bullets in their bodies, Percy. The M.E. can’t match it any known weapon. He says it has all the characteristics of a gunshot wound, minus the bullets.”

Sheila cut the connection. She’d be on it now, have Chuck and her real ‘tracking’ cops -- the clerical staff -- putting the whole package Margie together. I wondered if I should bring Chuck in deeper on this one. Maybe after I dug just a little more, I thought.

Samantha’s cell phone rang in my hand. It was Sheila again. That was quick.

“Detective Percy,” I said.

“Hello, Detective Able Percy!” It wasn’t Sheila. They already traced me. How’d they do that? Voice trace? Tracked me from Sheila again. Shit.

“Hello, Detective Frank Wells or should I call you Mr. Blue from Planet X?” I answered. “Nice of you to call. I’ve been wondering when I’d have the pleasure to kill an alien.”

“Well, how gracious of you Detective.” I was trying figure out his dialect. It was, dated? “I’ve actually been meaning to call you ever since you destroyed my last associate. And I never heard tell of Planet X, is that a nice place?”

Destroyed associate? I thought. Like a lame horse?

“Sorry about that, but well, it shot first. Hope you don’t mind. Had to put it down. It was an inferior design.” I was fishing.

“Not at all, Detective. I have more and I’m always improving my stock. But that’s not why I phoned. You see, I only wanted to speak with you before it’s all over. You’ve been a worthy opponent, you see. It’s been years since anyone has ever come this close before and it’s rather exhilarating! Alas, all good things must come to an end, isn’t that right, Detective?”

His voice seemed prim and proper. New England. High birth. Monied. And something else. Exotic?

“You are absolutely right, Mr. Blue. All bad things must end. Things like you, must end.”

I was incensed now. Two days of hell, boiling just under my lid. “And when I find you I’m going to do some very mean things to you. Tell me, do I turn you off like a computer or are you a living thing?”

“I assure you detective, I am very much alive, you on the other hand…”

There was a high-pitched squeal coming over the line, it was building – it was the phone – it sizzled now, heated up. I tossed it out of the window just as it exploded. The mini-blast shattered the window of the car next ours. A splinter of metal lodged into the tire of the same car. The tire let out a whoosh and flattened.

Jesus, I thought. “Now I’m really pissed. You were going to ‘off me’ with a cell phone? Really, you are freaking prick!” And I’m fed up, I thought, as I stepped from the car. Still muttering to myself.

Corwin was standing not ten feet away. His oversized teeth showing through a slick smile.

“Ah, Corwin!” I shouted. “Nice of you to show.” I looked behind him. Three goons stood by. His back up.

“I see you still can’t fight your own battles. Brought your dogs?”

Corwin stepped forward.

“Were you supposed to pick up my body? Is that it?”

Probuck’s customers were rolling their grocery carts nearby. I raised my voice. Heads started to turn.

“It’s your move, robot!” I shouted.

Corwin was standing there. His smile faded. He was holding something shiny, small. He had that same long tangled gray hair of the day before, but he’d changed clothes. He was wearing plain brown pullover and jean shorts. Even from here, I could see that his legs were much too long. Corwin’s buddies now wore loose shirts over T-shirts. They held something bulky against their sides, under their shirts. Their trademark machine guns no doubt. They were glancing around confused. Me being alive apparently wasn’t computing.

“Your boss just blew up my phone! What do you have to say about that?”

A little old lady was nearing in one of those motorized carts. She was pushing her glasses up and down, looking where I was looking. She couldn’t see these pricks?

Corwin hissed, held the silver thing over his head and vanished in a wink of blackness – along with his partners. By now, I should be afraid, I figured. But I was still pissed.

“Chickens!” I yelled.

The elderly lady, now loading groceries into her car trunk, looked over. Seeing me alone, she shook her head sadly, then shuffled in behind the wheel of her car. Shut her door, locked it quickly.

Samantha came out of Probucks a moment later. Saw the look on my face.

“What happened?”

“Some shit,” I said. “Minor.”

Samantha put Jimmy in his car seat. Piled the groceries in the back. I pulled away, keeping an eye out for Corwin in my mirrors hoping I could run him over.

“I need my phone,” Samantha said.

“About that…”

She was comforting Jimmy, who had taken to staring at me over his binky. An angry face. Pouting?

"My phone please. I want to call work."

“It blew up.”


“Mr. Blue tried to take my head off.” I was still mad.

“Mr. Blue?”

“I nicknamed him – think it pissed him off. I think he’s their head man.” I didn’t tell her that I thought he wasn’t really a man at all.

“You must have a way with words,” she said. “How can anyone do that? Blow up a phone?”

“Not sure, but we used to do it too.” I was speeding again and had jumped on the 95.


“Hostage situations. Our throw phones to the bank robbers – they were loaded with plastic explosives.”

“But how did Mr. Blue explode my phone?”

“Thermal runaway.”


“He’d just needed to overheat it somehow. The phone does the rest. He called me to blow me up. Easy-poesy.” I shook my head.

“I don’t think I like your job, Percy.”

I glanced over. “Beats needles any day, Nurse Gallagher.”

Sheila, at the station, tracked Margie’s car to an impound lot off of 48th Street. One of those mammoth affairs under the I-95 flyover in Little Haiti. These things fed the local junkyards a steady stream of used car parts and supplied our undercover squads with the occasional ‘investigative vehicle.’ Usually a drug dealer’s souped-up hot rod, that they then re-painted and drove around like the kid with the new car -- until they invariably, wreaked it.

On the way to the impound lot, I stopped by a Wall E’s Department store to pick up soft bristled paint brushes, graphite powder, packing tape, duct tape (a necessity, period), index cards, plastic baggies, envelops, a fish tank, a hot plate, a flashlight, six tubes of super glue and cheap gym bag to throw in all in.

Samantha gave me the eye as I hopped back in her Land Cruiser. “Percy, what’s with all of this?

Jimmy was fussing. “I think he made a boom-boom,” I said.

She ignored me, still holding the bags full of my gear as I pulled from the parking lot.

“My ‘hit kit’ is in my office, but I can’t go there. I’m going to have to rough it. Just shove all of it in the gym bag, please.” Again, my compulsive habit was pissing me off. I felt naked without a hit kit in the car. I’m not Columbo, I do the work.

“How will this stuff help us find Margie? Shouldn’t we get help?

I had Sheila -- at the station -- put a fire under them. They are sending a crime tech to Margie’s apartment. And to her car, so we have to hurry.”


“I want to look at her car before the juniors screw it up. Not wait hours for them to process it. And they are looking for me. Sheila said that I’m now their number one suspect.”

“I don’t understand.”

I went over the Sentinels of the Sea incident again. In more detail this time. Then what happened at the hospital again. It didn’t seem to sink in.

“Okay, so…are we in a comic book now? Disappearing what? Aliens?”

I nodded. “With these things evaporating into thin air, who else would they blame?

“Percy, the super cop? A mass murderer, who hides all of the bodies and sees blue ghosts with tele-portation devices?”

“Never thought of it that way, but I like it.”

Samantha thought about it as I turned her Land Cruiser hard left. It handled like a champ for its size.

“But you have me, I’m a witness,” she said.

“Mass hysteria, the Stockholm Syndrome, Bonnie and Clyde – take your pick. Ever been to jail?”

“No?” she said. “You?”

“Sure – for some undercover crap. Almost had Bubba love me, if you catch my –”

“Okay, so now what?”

I shook my head. “I don’t think they’d’ care.”


“The men behind the curtain. Politicians. The ‘Old Boys’ -- some cops -- are connected to the mayor’s ass. Him to the governor. Him to a shady list of billionaires. If they don’t keep a lid on this thing, people will get wise and then people get freaked out. Riots happen. The Feds do nasty things.”

“Why Percy? Why would they stop you from doing your job?”

“Miami Dade hasn’t put this thing together yet. Sheila will catch hell if this thing goes sideways, but I’m keeping her in the loop. Chuck too. Not sure about the chief, but we fed him a few crumbs. He should hold, until they start squeezing his happy parts.

“So, what’s next?” Samantha asked.

“You go to ground.”

“I’m staying, she said.” I could see it in her eyes. She felt that she had let her daughter down and she wasn’t going to do the same to Margie.

“Okay.” I didn’t say anything for a few moments. The afternoon sun was creeping under the sun-visor. I turned hard right again. We’d been off the interstate for a while.

“What about Jimmy?” I asked. “We need to drop him somewhere safe. To someone not connected to us.”

“I can’t think of anyone,” she said.

“I can. You.”

Samantha remained silent. Caressed Jimmy’s head, fluffing his blond hair. Made the decision. “Okay.”

“It’ll only be until we find Margie. Then we’ll bring her to you. But, you need to stay low.”

The whooshing of the wet road was hypnotizing. It had just begun to storm. I pulled into Velma's Place, a soup kitchen on 13th Avenue, in Model City. It was a squat place, between a rundown Baptist Church and a plumbing supply warehouse. In the rain, we unloaded the groceries and I filled Velma in.

Velma had run the soup kitchen since the late 70’s. On the side, she took care of junkies. Cleaned them up for a price: loyalty. Tell no one. It was her following of reformed addicts that kept the kitchen – and Velma – going. I kicked in occasionally. After all, it was I who gave Velma most of her side jobs. She agreed to hide Samantha and Jimmy.

With them safely tucked away, I headed to the City Lot to check on Margie’s car in Little Haiti. The lot was managed by an asthmatic octogenarian named Jean. He’d come over from Haiti before I was born. Brought over his whole family on a homemade raft. Worked the docks till he was in his 60’s. I’d known him for decades and he still thumbed his nose at INS – and they left him the hell alone.

Just after Jean took over the lot, as his “retirement job,” he started watching TV for the first time, squinting close and laughing like hell. He was doing that now as I drove up. He leaned out of the booth, smiled with his perfect set of white teeth, a bible opened on the counter next to him.

“We’re closing in an hour,” Jean said. Then he squinted hard.

“Hi, Jean,” I said. “I need a favor to two.”

“How you doing, Able? Long time no see. What can I do for you?”

I told him.

Jean gave me the directions to Margie’s car, handed me my back up cell phone and three more cash cell phones on the house; and he gave me a bit of advice. Only this time it wasn’t a bible reading.

“They tore that car to pieces,” Jean said. “And one has been hanging around here all day. Stupid kind of guy, mute or something. You guy’s hire mutes these days?”

It turned out that a trio of alleged officers had been here this time. Same description that Doug gave. Uniforms, not much in the way of equipment, except for stubby machine guns.

Jean’s eyes were fearful. “I mean, Able, they shredded it. I looked, after they left. It’s in pieces. All that’s left is a pile of motor parts.” Jean looked over his shoulder. “I ain’t complaining, but what good is that car now, after your officers did that?” He knew they weren’t officers.

I listened.

Jean paused for a long spell. He was turning something over.

Petro loa,” Jean finally said. “Be careful Able, I haven’t seen them in years.”

Jean was talking about demons and I didn’t blame him. He was old school – really old. Vodou and Santería old. He was half-blind, very religious, but like a pearl in the pigsty of Miami’s ghetto. Family honor, loyalty – counted more than anything else. We went way back. To the latter part of the War on Drugs when Miami was the Cocaine Capital of the Caribbean.

“You need help?” Jean asked.

“Not yet, Jean. I –”

“They can be invisible,” Jean said.

“Invisible?” He had my attention, but I didn’t want to admit it.

“You know.” Jean accused. “You have seen them. I can see that you believe.”

“Jean, I don’t think they are demons, I think they are…”

Jean squinted again. “You must find the Ghede and kill it.”

“The what?”

“He is like their leader. He controls the Petros. Tell me, has the Rada made contact?”

“The what?”

“He is the good spirit. He was brought to earth by our ancestors, to keep the balance between good and evil. The Rada can be dangerous, but they are usually helpful.”

“Okay Jean, let’s just say I believe you. That these evil spirits are hear doing bad things and I do need help – how do I find these Rada?”

“Able, it’s okay to be afraid. The Petro’s have been coming for thousands of years. Sometimes they just take our women. Sometimes they kill, eat or maim us. But all the times that they have come, they have brought pain. And they like the color red.”

I was intrigued.

He handed me a set of keys.

“Why do I need these?”

Jean lifted his eyes. “They watch.” He gestured to the sky. “Take the white truck out of the back gate. Leave the Land Cruiser. Pick it up when you can.” Jean closed his bible, tucked it away.

“And Able, the Rada has to find you. I will see what I can do.”

“Thanks Jean,” I said. I knew he meant well.

I grabbed my homemade ‘hit kit’ and walked through the soft mud to Margie’s car. The damned bag was heavy, and the heat and humidity soaked me with sweat in a few minutes. Should’ve brought water, I realized.

Jean hadn’t lied. The car was completely disassembled. Windows, doors, motor, fenders, wheels – everything in haphazard pile. Luckily the collection of junk was under the cover of the flyover bridge and had remained relatively dry.

Sometimes, when cars are abandoned, the bad guys make mistakes. And I was assuming a bad guy existed, given everything that happened. It’s rare mistake, but I looked for anything. Why was that door handle broken? Was there a struggle, in the car? Cracked window? Not just the obvious, but blood was a clue, as the FBI says. In this case, everything I normally looked for was in pieces. You had to make a mental picture of how the car should have looked if it was still in one damned piece.

I hurried to collect what I could. A few smudged latent fingerprints on the inner side of the driver’s window, some hair caught in a fender, and a bit of bluish dust on the steering wheel. Then I went hunting for the trunk. When people are kidnapped it’s the place to be.

Was Margie kidnapped? Maybe. If so, being the bad guy, how do I work? Shove her inside of her own trunk then drive to my car. Transfer her to my car. Ditch her car. Wipe it or trash it. In this case? Trashed.

The problem was, the car was so…destroyed. All I found was the trunk lid. I turned it over and like everything else, I took photos with my cell phone. As the flash from the camera lighted the dark underside of the trunk lid, I thought I saw something.

I dragged it over to the waning daylight. There was a rag tucked over something. It was not in a place where a rag should be. I pulled it away.

Scratches. That was all, just random marks on the manufacture’s label beneath the rag. Why? I asked myself. Okay, a thousand reasons – just a second look Percy. This time, with your damned reading glasses.

I tried another angle. It was a name. ‘Margie.’

Shit, I thought. She’d scratched her name – she had been in here. I looked closer. More words. Hard to make out. She had scratched out a partial description?

I translated. ‘Kidnapped by a short fat long haired bald on top – guy.’ No doubt about it.

And there was more on the paint, just below it. ‘Silver ball under pink brick by house – outside.’ But that was a stretch. It could have meant ‘Silent bell under pock brawn horse – this side.’ I went with my first impression.

Margie was seated in a large oval room, in the mansion. Ted Katz wasn’t present. It was very similar to an auditorium, with seating all around. Above, a dome, clear, with stars she recognized. Only, there were red lines circling certain constellations. And other lines connecting them. A star map of some sort, she gathered.

Below her was indoor pool, filled with green water. In the water, were three huge islands. On each of them, miniature cities. They were beautiful. An artist’s rendition of some far-off alien realm with high thin purple clouds and strange serpent-like creatures plying the frothing waters far below. An outlandish paradise. Strange symbols strobing red over the entire panorama. Bronze clouds, like puffy upside-down mushrooms, hanging lower, seeming to spawn upward from the teaming waters themselves. It was beautiful and malevolent at the same time.

One word came to mind: alien.

Sasha and Tabitha were sitting at the entrance to the huge room. Two giant doors, outlined in silver and shaped like triangles, were sealed shut. Ted was attending to urgent matters, he said.

Thus far, her host had not given her reason to fear, aside from the two Dobermans. She could move about, in a limited fashion. To the restroom. To obtain refreshments from a box-like device, not unlike a large microwave oven. But that was it. An endless period of waiting ensued. A feeling of preparation.

Sasha was asleep now, her dreams fitful and obviously pained. She was running away from something, whining, paws jerking spasmodically. Tabitha looked up, screwed her head sideways and Sasha suddenly awoke. Sasha shook her head, growled, then sat on her haunches. It was Tabitha’s turn to sleep.

Interesting, Margie thought.

© 2018 Jack Shorebird


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    • jgshorebird profile image

      Jack Shorebird 8 days ago from Southeastern U.S.

      Thanks Larry, Nikki and Frank. Am fiddling with the next bit.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 8 days ago from Oklahoma

      Keep them coming, friend.

    • nikkikhan10 profile image

      Nikki Khan 12 days ago from London

      Tense atmosphere as amend to be, enjoyed much reading it.

      Bless you.

    • jgshorebird profile image

      Jack Shorebird 13 days ago from Southeastern U.S.

      Working on next chapter. Thanks again Frank. And I'm wondering how this thing will end.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 13 days ago from Shelton

      Jack, this read as fast as a roller coaster even through the dialogue.. I didn't want it to stop.. LOL now I dare not say it.. but how long for the next installment? I am hooked..I am a fan

    • jgshorebird profile image

      Jack Shorebird 2 weeks ago from Southeastern U.S.

      Thanks again RoadMonkey. I'm still waiting for the next episode myself. It just sort of comes out as I write.

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 2 weeks ago

      Wow, tense, taught, keeping me fully involved. Can't wait for the next chapter!