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Fiction Relay – Part 48

3 November, 2013

Hello Readers and Relayers! Part 48 is my turn. The main characters are gathering, some sort of conflict and resolution seems to be aproaching, and before we know it this epic tale will be at an end. But even this close to the finish line there will still be surprises in store. Speaking of endings, a quick note for the other Relayers – if/when it is your turn and the ending looks like happening, go for it. Don’t wait for me or anyone else to give you “permission” and don’t wait for a nice round number. Similarly if it seems like the end is nigh but you still have more to say, keep it going. The end will be when it wants to be and when it is right.

Right then, before you read Part 48 you might want to go here to read the Summary (the Cliff Notes as Dawn says :)) or here where the Homepage has links to every episode so far. Also before you read, I have a bit of an apology to make. I completely understand and abide by the principle of “Show Don’t Tell”, but this chapter is very wordy – there is a lot of telling and not much showing. So sorry about that, but the backgroind needed explaining. If this was a novel, then this would be the first draft being written in a linear way, and some of what is made clear in this chapter would be sprinkled elsewhere during the second draft. But it isnt a novel (not yet!) and it’s more like an improv so you’ll have to bear with me.

OK then, here we go…

 

Part Forty Eight

Sam and Ephraim stood and watched as Meagan relaxed, the spirit left her and she became herself once more. Jose saw their concerned faces and smiled his reassurance.

‘You are safe here, within the Widow’s domain,’ he said in a soft, calming voice. He raised his arms in a gesture of inclusion. ‘We are all safe,’ he continued, ‘the one called Sanderson has no influence within this room now, can’t even see us.’

Meagan searched for senses and confirmed that Jose was right. ‘The web is protecting us,’ she said, ‘no others can come in.’

‘That works both ways though,’ Jose warned them, ‘y’all can’t send your thoughts outside neither.’ Meagan’s thoughts turned to Blue, hoped that she was safe outside their reach. ‘She’s fine,’ Sam telepathed, taking her hand.

‘And now that we are all alone,’ Jose said, ‘I can reveal some truths to you. Truths which must stay within you, which you must not even think outside of this room.’

‘I always thought you knew more than you were letting on,’ Ephraim said, his curious detective’s mind already flicking through possibilities, ‘What secrets? Like where we will find this box of Sanderson’s? Or what’s inside?’

Jose responded to Ephraim’s questions with a knowing smile, but otherwise let it fall. ‘Years ago,’ he began, ‘Sanderson worked with my wife and me in our lab. Of course he was still Sanders then, but it was him. We were working in secret, hidden away, carrying out nuclear testing for the government.’

Sam looked shocked. ‘What sort of nuclear testing?’

Jose shrugged in self-excuse, ‘Purely safety research,’ he offered. He sensed the disapproval of his companions. ‘For the power industry,’ he explained, ‘it was not long after Three Mile Island and the government needed answers, reassurances they could give the public. Anyway, we had been holed up in the lab complex for about a year when there was an accident. Some fuel rods encased in what we thought was impenetrable lead came too close to the intense heat of a generator and there was a flash of power.’ Jose dropped his eyes to the ground, swallowed hard as he forced himself to continue. ‘My wife was in that room, she was killed.’

The others murmured their sympathies. Jose barely acknowledged them before continuing. ‘The guilt hit me badly, I knew that what we were doing was dangerous, but until then the danger had been theoretical. Now it was horribly real. I came so close to walking away, our son lived there with us and I didn’t want to put him at risk, or leave him an orphan. Sanders talked me round. We had to carry on our work, he said, to make sure my wife didn’t die for nothing. I agreed with him, but made him agree that if we carried on working in that environment then we should give something back, we should find other ways to serve the people of the country. We set up an orphanage as a way of giving a home and support to those children who had none.’

‘Children like us,’ Meagan said.

Jose nodded. ‘Children like y’all,’ he confirmed. ‘And then we discovered that some of you had these special talents,’ he said, ‘talents like I had, like Sanders had. We had thought we were the only ones, but when we realised you had them too and yours were on a higher, more intense level, Sanders became obsessed with finding out more. Soon the nuclear research became less as he wanted to know where these abilities came from, whether they could be harnessed. Or shared. Or removed. Or improved. So his attentions turned to the children, and his research was more focussed on you.’

‘And you let him,’ Sam snapped, ‘you were as much a part of this as he was.’

‘You misunderstand me Daniel,’ Jose said quietly, ‘In those early days, our research was just observational, to you it would have seemed like a few questions and some games. But Sanders grew more obsessed. He heard about Tsoodzil and guessed there might be a connection with the abilities. He came to find out more but when he returned, he had changed. His experiments became more intense, the pills he insisted you take became more potent, more dangerous.’

Meagan held Sam’s hand tighter, tried to calm him as his anger grew. ‘Dangerous!’ he scoffed, ‘you can say that again. We had to take those pills, we were strapped to those tables…’

Ephraim made the connection first, joined in the verbal attack. ‘So… you are Khalid’s father, you’re Elijah.’

Jose nodded. ‘That was my name then,’ he said, ‘that was who I was but much has happened since then.’ Ephraim took a step forward, but the web around Jose extended towards him. He felt the energy within it, knew he couldn’t come any closer. Whether the threat came from Jose himself or from Anansie he didn’t know, but he understood its force. ‘You experimented on us,’ Ephraim snarled, ‘you tied us to that fucking table, you forced needles into us.’

Jose’s look darkened as he faced Ephraim. ‘Believe me, Ephraim,’ he said, ‘I did some things I’m not proud of but I never hurt any of you. The experiments that you think I carried out on you were done by Sanders. He’s a shapeshifter, remember, he can appear as anything he chooses.’ Ephraim raised his hands, opened his mouth to argue, to accuse, but Meagan’s calm voice spoke first.

‘I don’t understand,’ she said, ‘I lay on that table, too terrified to speak, too terrified to move, and looked into the eyes of the man in front of me. I recognised Sanders, I would never forget him, but I don’t recognise you.’

‘Like I said,’ Jose continued, ‘much has happened since then, a lot has changed. I realise now I only saw half of what he was doing but even that was too much. I told him he had to stop, that I would take all of you children away where you would be safe. But he was too far gone. He insisted I leave and never return.’

‘But how could you leave us?’ Meagan asked, shocked, ‘leave us there with him?’

Jose’s posture shrank a little, his head shook. ‘I asked myself that every day,’ he sighed, ‘but Sanders had threatened to destroy the orphanage and everyone in it if I tried to take you, or if I stayed. Leaving was my only option.’

‘You should have found another option,’ Sam said, his finger jabbing.

‘I know that now,’ Jose admitted, ‘I was wrong, but I believed Sanders would carry out his threats and I could see no other way. Even after I left though, I knew I had to keep track of him, find a way to overcome him. When I was living in Tampa I heard about Anansie, and wondered if Her powers were strong enough to restrain him.’ He raised his arms, gestured to the web around them. The others looked about them again. Outside the room the sound of the coyotes continued. But they were not coming closer, were not growing louder. They were indeed protected, Anansie’s power was strong.

‘When you broke free and the orphanage finally closed,’ Jose went on, ‘he moved here, closer to this mountain. He devoted his life to its force, even changed his name to Sanderson to signify his re-birth. I knew I had to follow, but to avoid my being discovered, Anansie created my new self. I changed my name, my face, my voice.’

‘So that’s why we didn’t recognise you,’ Sam said, nodding the realisation to himself.

‘Exactly,’ Jose said, ‘I even surrendered my powers, became a completely new person to avoid his suspicions. I can only think as my own self when I am under her protection.’ He looked about him, at the web he was inside, gave a silent prayer of thanks.

‘I watched and waited,’ he continued, ‘I gained his trust, infiltrated his inner circle. I even sent Gino to watch Melissa.’ He paused as he recalled the chef, and his demise. ‘I guess we all know the answer to that one,’ he said.

He turned to Meagan. ‘And I always knew that you are the one, Meagan,’ he told her, ‘When I heard you were coming here to Albuquerque, I made sure I was at that Lowe’s store. I made sure I met you first.’

Meagan nodded as she realised this had all been part of his plan.

‘I don’t have powers anymore,’ he said, ‘and I never had enough to overcome him. And now he is drawing the ancient power of the Navajo, the three of you don’t either, not even the five of you together do. Even Anansie can only restrain him and resist him. But your daughter, the daughter of two talents, is the key.’

‘Sammy,’ Meagan said, her eyes filling with tears, ‘my little Sammy.’

‘Her powers are a hundred times what the two of you could be. She can avenge my wife. She can rescue Khalid from the influence of Sanders. She can lead us, she can fight for us, she can defeat him.’

 *****

Outside the mountain, outside the view and the senses of those inside, the car containing Raj and Melissa and the statue slowed and stopped. The pack of coyotes they has been following was now surrounding two black SUVs. The cars were empty – no drivers, no passengers. On the floor next to them lay four empty suits, four guns. On their roofs stood four coyotes, three grey and one jet black, snarling, drooling, as though addressing a crowd of disciples.

Raj felt the power of the mountain, the spirit within it, and allowed its strength to enter him. For the first time since their return to the abandoned distillery, since he felt the sudden shock of Melissa’s scalpel in his side and his consciousness leaving him drip by bloody drip, he moved of his own free will. His head bowed slowly. He saw his own clenching and unclenching fist.

 

Joanne is next…

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5 Comments
  1. Whew! *giggles*

    ” Speaking of endings, a quick note for the other Relayers – if/when it is your turn and the ending looks like happening, go for it. Don’t wait for me or anyone else to give you “permission” and don’t wait for a nice round number. Similarly if it seems like the end is nigh but you still have more to say, keep it going. The end will be when it wants to be and when it is right”

    *hugs* Thanks for giving me permission to -NOT- be the last one!

    Ok, now that that is over…*gibbs-slaps* Meanie! ;p I know it’s your story (thank goodness!) but wow is that a -lot- of stuff to tie in! It’s like you picked up an entire Toys’r’Us store and dropped it on our heads! *sighs* Ah, well. As you said, it needed tied together somehow, and that’s certainly tied up well. Now to prepare for Twin’s sure to be awesome chapter…and then see what I can do. 😉

  2. You brought Gino into it! Yay! 😀 (Ted, are you reading this?)

    Okay, I LOVE the way you’ve woven sooooo many loose ends together here, Bossman. I don’t think you needed that “show vs tell” disclaimer, b/c the whole thing was wrapped up nicely in dialogue and felt seamless. It was a missing piece of the history books, and you were absolutely right: it needed to be told. (Elijah? Khalid’s dad? Totally didn’t see that one coming. Nice!) And you kept the tension going with Meagan and Daniel worrying about Sammy, the coyote pack gathering outside, and with Raj, the newly-unzombied baddie.

    But I wonder what happened to Blue and Spense…? Ooh, this is fun! 🙂

    • You’re very kind Dawn! I couldnt resist bringing Gino back, if not for real, i alwaye felt he had more to offer the story.
      Oh, and to let you into a secret – i didnt include Blue and Spence because i was trying to keep my wordcount down and i didnt want to write about everyone 🙂 but inadvertantly i seem to have created a great bit of suspense – where are they indeed????

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