The Pandion Prophecy ... Part 5
Welcome, and thank you for visiting the continuing story of “The Pandion Prophecy.” There are eight chapters in all.
A link to the first chapter appears below.
The Pandion Prophecy
The music videos at the end of each chapter are an integral part of the story.
Ray rubbed the tears from his eyes as the last of the whispers faded from his mind. He stared through the large picture window near his bed -- a portal to the outside world, where fresh air and natural light offered amnesty from the florescent gloom of the hospital. Stretching his arms, he felt a flush of energy and sense of well-being he hadn’t known in months. He rolled over on his back, crossed his hands under his head and began to scrutinize the ceiling tiles when Kate walked into the room.
“Hey’ Katydid, you're back!" he said with a welcoming grin.
Their friendship was not a delicate one. Both born the only child, their close relationship eventually developed into the brother and sister they never had, without the sibling jealousy. They each understood the fundamental self of the other, were determinedly loyal and mutually protective. Their good-natured teasing often took the form of a verbal shorthand only they could interpret.
Kate placed the backpack on the visitor's chair, gave him a quick kiss on the cheek, and sat near the foot of the bed. “How are you feeling?”
“Actually, pretty great.”
“You look wonderful," she said, smiling with relief. "The tests Doc Faraday ordered from the ED…it looks as though they’ll come back negative. But we knew that, didn’t we.”
Ray pressed the hand control of the bed to raise his upper body into a sitting position. "It's good to have the validation. But I'm curious, Red. Why's a cop posted outside my door?”
“Your beach encounter attracted some nosy gatecrashers," she replied. Pulling a burner phone from her shoulder bag, she explained the surprise arrival and interest of the Bureau's forensic team and agents.
“The feds that showed up, and Lynch....did Jack check the guy out?”
"It's funny, but I can't shake the feeling that I've seen him before. He's an odd one...pretty intense. Jim Kelly made the usual contacts. The Boston Bureau office would only confirm Lynch's status with a special division. Jim was told that access to anything more was above his pay grade." Kate tilted her head forward, her eyebrows raised inquiringly. “It's time, kiddo," she said softly. "What happened out there?"
Ray knew what he had seen and experienced was real, and that the clarity of it would at once be measured by the way in which he gave it voice. Describing the episode with strongly expressed feelings would only weaken its authenticity. He'd given much thought as to how he would shape the images into words, relying on his skills as a reporter to relay the facts without any emotional trimmings. And he would reveal only as much as he dared.
Taking a deep breath, he met her eyes and began his story.
“I went my folks' beach home in the morning after I left your house. I wanted to open the place up for the summer. I'd neglected it for too long. The sky was hot and cloudless. I found a shovel in the tool shed to dig up the weeds in front of the cottage, then went back inside for some sun screen. I began to feel dizzy and sat down on the daybed. The next thing I remember is standing on the beach, digging holes in the sand for an intense presence that hovered behind me. I could feel the heaviness of it, Kate...pressing me but not touching me. The smell of smoldering metal was sickening. I didn't dare turn around. I sensed it watching me, while giving me instructions in an empathic voice inside my head. I couldn't stop digging for what seemed like hours but with no real concept of time. I was aware of the movement of the waves, wiping the sweat from my face with blistered hands that didn't hurt, and the stench.”
Shifting his gaze to the window, Ray described how a flight-or-fight trigger overtook his fear after finding the buried chest and heaving it onto the sand. “The second before I turned to face him, he knew what I was going to do before I finished the thought. He said, "No…do not see." But it was too late. What I saw was a barrier of cognizant energy that slit the air like a piece of cloth. A gateway appeared beyond the opening, where shards of light and color would explode and inter-flow like sifting liquid. A few images began to form, then shift into something else, constantly moving without any allusion to a beginning or ending. The most prominent was the shape of a man -- a chameleon trying to imitate human form. His was the voice I heard. The smaller images spoke in odd whispers, as if they were living things.”
Kate could hear faint echoes of muffled chatter, phones and noisy carts from the corridor as she grappled with the meaning of his encounter. “Yesterday, you said the whispers were broken pieces of time. Is that what he didn’t want you to see? What did you see, Ray?”
Before answering, Ray cleared his throat and drank some water from a plastic cup on his nightstand. “I think the whispers were a language, but not human. These beings see and experience in ways we can’t conceive. If my focus into the entity’s energy core had lasted seconds longer, I would have become part of it. It's hard to explain, but I felt my body begin to diffuse into something else, just as the odor started to fade. Yet this entity, this celestial traveler, stopped it all from happening. He sent me back but the timing got somehow skewed. I should have awakened or regained consciousness after the blisters healed, thinking it was all a nightmare. The event was such a fantastical thing -- who wouldn’t?"
“You’re not afraid of him anymore,” she said, stunned by his words.
“He was protecting me all along. The healing of my hands, the lack of any sunburn after spending hours on that furnace of a beach...”
“Was this traveler protecting you or the nightmare scenario he wanted you to believe?”
“Both. They’re one and the same.”
Kate disagreed but kept silent. She knew there was more to his story. What he saw, the whispers, the charred box -- something was hiding behind his words but not from a lack of trust. She sensed his reluctance with a honed-deep intuition, just as Ray could read the doubt in her face like writing on a page.
“Maybe now isn't the time to finish this conversation. Let's take a break, ” he said, gesturing toward the backpack. “Is that for me?"
Kate nodded. “Courtesy of Carrie. She picked up some fresh clothing for you this morning.”
“Did she? I just love that woman." He grabbed the bag and headed for the bathroom. Once inside, he rested his forehead against the closed door in quiet hesitation. "I'm sorry, I can't tell you...not now," he whispered -- his thoughts, tethered to a secret place that wasn't his to share. As his conscience reached for the door handle, Kate's cell phone rang into the silence. He stepped back, went over to the sink and turned on the faucet. Water rushed into the basin as he retrieved a razor, clothing and other items Carrie had neatly packed for him.
Several minutes later he emerged from the bathroom, clean shaven and dressed. Kate, still perched on the hospital bed, greeted his forced smile with a bewildered stare.
“Hey…everything okay?" he asked. "I heard your phone….”
“Jack called from the crime lab parking lot with some news about that chest you dug out of the sand. You’d better sit down.”
Ray dropped the backpack and sat on the edge of the visitor's chair. Kate looked down at the floor and recited, verbatim, Jack's account of what the Kelsey brothers had witnessed. Seconds of silence passed between them. Ray slumped back in the chair, his mouth slightly agape. Kate continued to study the floor with numb confusion. If the smooth terrazzo sheeting fractured into jagged chasms in front of her eyes, she wouldn't have been more astonished.
"I wonder..." she muttered to herself, then looked at her friend. "There was a story on the news this morning about abnormally aggressive behavior from a huge megapod of humpbacks at Stellwagen Bank. Carrie's husband called her about it because he was shocked at the sheer size of the pod he saw on his fishing charter.”
“You’re thinking there might be a connection?”
“Anything that out of the ordinary is worth considering.”
Ray looked at his right hand where ghosts of the lesions were barely visible through fading blushes in the skin. With his left forefinger, he lightly traced on his palm the roughly-formed labyrinth he recalled seeing on the lid of the chest. “Neither of us has led a circumscribed life. And we’re not unintelligent. But getting our heads around this…we might as well be a couple of toddlers trying to grasp theoretical physics. We need the CSI photos. Is Jack on his way to the hospital?”
"No. He plans to stop off for some late breakfast on the way to our house. He'll meet us there.” Kate got to her feet with a brusqueness, signaling it was time to leave. “You've given me an idea. Grab your stuff, kiddo. Let’s get you released.”
"Where are we headed?”
“Home. But first, we’re making a detour.“
Walking into Jasmine's 50's themed diner was like stepping into another dimension in time. Aside from the checkerboard floor, neon wall signs and other memorabilia, a TV screen mounted above the counter played vintage, black-and-white television shows in a looped sequence. The warm and friendly atmosphere was infectious. When Jack and Kate visited the diner on their first date, the nostalgia of the place soon took on a special meaning of their own.
The Sunday brunch crowd was lighter than usual due to the heavy rain. Only a handful of patrons had navigated the storm to enjoy their favorite blue-plate specials and genial company. Jack paid for his order at the counter. He gathered up his classic corned beef hash and eggs, and sat in a booth near a window overlooking Farhaven Harbor. Eyeing his plate, he noticed someone standing next to the table, wearing shoes that were wet and mottled with sand. He grimaced when he looked up and into the face of Ethan Lynch.
The agent slid his imposing frame onto the vinyl seat directly across from the man he had shadowed since he left the crime lab. “Good morning, Lieutenant Baron," he said quietly. I have a proposition for you.”
“Do I have to move to another booth or another town?” asked Jack, stirring his coffee. He refused to give the intruder the courtesy of making eye contact. “If you had your warrants you wouldn’t be sitting here, ruining my breakfast. Say what it is that you want and make it quick.”
“The warrants will arrive this evening. Our major concern at the moment is containment. You spent considerable time at the lab this morning. I trust your colleagues have unearthed some intriguing evidence on the Stiegel case. By now you know more than you should and are entirely out of your depth.”
Jack stifled a laugh, suspending a forkful of home-fries halfway to his mouth. “Tell me, special agent...aren’t you a little past your prime to be skulking around in the rain for the Bureau?”
Before Lynch could respond to the slight, a waitress wearing a 50's style hairdo and uniform approached the booth to ask if he'd like a menu. When the agent dismissed her with an impatient wave of his arm, an embarrassed Jack thanked the young woman. She flashed him an obliging smile and returned to her station behind the counter.
Lynch rested his elbows on the table, hunched forward and peered through the window. His eyes scanned the thick, gray horizon over the harbor. “I possess a unique skills set and advanced degrees in physical cosmology and mathematics. Extraordinary circumstances require special talents.” He glanced at the detective. “This wasn't their first visit.”
Jack was startled by his last remark -- not just in what it revealed, but the sudden malice in his tone and expression that seemed to bare a dark fixation. Ethan Lynch was unschooled in the subtle art of interrogation and had exposed more of himself than he realized. Jack gauged his words accordingly. ”The FPD has plenty of resources in the empirical sciences."
“How naïve not to realize what you’re up against. My associates will seize everything the FPD has, muzzle your investigation and discourage further inquiries. Regardless of divergent views, the prevailing mindset does not cultivate scientific exploration into this type of phenomenon. No one will believe you. You’ll be treated with disdain and ridicule. And we can destroy what remains of your credibility in a matter of days. We’ve done it before.”
“I’m still waiting to hear the proposition. What’re you offering?”
“I have questions for Raymond Stiegel. I want an hour alone with him in exchange for information I might be willing to provide...including, how we knew about that beach. This arrangement will be kept between the two of us.” Ethan smirked and added, “Considerate it a kind of symbiotic, quid pro quo.”
Jack returned the grin as he leaned toward the agent to tell him something in confidence. Lowering his voice, he murmured, “Fuck you.” He stood up, tucked a five dollar bill under his half-empty coffee cup and walked calmly out of the diner through a side entrance near the booths.
Lynch glared at the empty seat. Feeling a pressure building in his chest, he pulled himself up from table and rushed outside. The wet gravel in the parking lot caused him to stumble and fall. By the time he scrambled to his feet, Jack had reached his car.
“Baron! Wait…please!” he yelled. He ran up behind the detective, crying out in a pleading voice, “Those things -- they took my brother!”
Jack froze with contempt. He thought the agent was deliberately mocking him until he turned and saw genuine anguish and desperation in the eyes of a tormented man he sensed he was meeting for the first time. "When?" he asked, clearly shaken.
“It happened fifteen years ago. I’ve been hunting them ever since.”
Jack felt a chill slide through his spine in the moist heat as the shifting current of a dark unknown threatened to pull Ray into its depths. In that instant of panic, the agent became his familiar -- a paradox further bound by an insatiable curiosity: To glimpse the truth of what lay concealed behind the veils of reality, and the inscrutable masks worn by nature and the universe. Ignoring the nagging possibilities of fate that either beckoned or warned, he sent Kelly's lone-wolf caution from his thoughts.
Staring at Lynch he unlocked his car, nodded toward the passenger-side door and said, “Get in.”
Music composed by Vangelis (Alpha); video created by Marcos Antonio da silva Channel of YouTube.
A link to the next installment appears below...
Written and copyrighted by Genna Eastman (Genna East) 2014; all rights reserved.
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