Thursday, October 28, 2004

Ch. 48

It felt good to be back on the highway, driving along with no real destination, just the three of them.
"Hey, Vlad," asked Eric nonchalantly, "Where we going?"
"Out of Maine," Vlad replied, "The wonderful thing about Maine is that you can only really go one direction from it without going to Canada. "
"What makes you so sure we're not going to Canada?" asked Gina.
"It just didn't seem likely. I thought perhaps we'd head back to Wheatsfield and drop off this thing so we wouldn't lose it. Then we could do some research at the Imini library to try and find another lead worth exploring."
"What if the next lead's in Maine?" asked Eric, "This'll take forever. Maybe Master Lin can help us if we call him."
"Nights and weekends, remember?" Vlad answered, "Besides, the last time I called him he gave me the wrong advice."
"What?" the two asked incredulously and in unison.
"He said 'Caught between two evils, choose niether. Rather, let them both fall in the light of the truth' but that didn't have anything to do with my situation. He admitted that I'd need that advice later. It was most unusual, not that he isn't unusual always, but this was especially odd."
"Well," asked Gina, "Did you?"
"Did I what?"
"Need it later?"
"Well, I actually did. When the FBI came to get me I felt like they would arrest me for Gina's capture if I stayed, but I'd abandon Eric if I ran away. Then I realized I could point them to the cult, and everything worked out."
"Two evils... Light of Truth... That fits," Eric admitted.
"How did the FBI get involved anyway?" asked Gina.
Of course. She had missed a lot, and a lot of explanation was needed. So they took the time to share the past few days with each other, and before they knew it it was after six."
"Hey, look," Eric said, holding up his watch, "Let's call Master Lin."
He did. The Master picked up immediately.
"Good news, Master Lin. We rescued Gina, and we got the first component: the heating element of the eternal flame."
"Glad to hear it."
"Uhh... What should we do now?"
"I have only this to say: In news there are clues. Tommorow's dawn shall lead you."
"That wasn't nearly as cryptic as normal. I think you're losing your touch."
"My touch is in the eye of the beholder, toaster seeker. Speak not like that to a toaster master."
"Sure thing, whatever you say. Thank you."
He hung up.
"So what's the buzz?" asked Gina, "Any good leads?"
"No, but I got some slightly cryptic rambling. I think we'll find a lead in tomorrow's newspaper."
"Well," said Vlad, "Do you mind if we save some money and stay at my friend's house instead of a hotel? We're only about two hours away."
"Sounds good."

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Ch. 47

This update is dedicated to Erin, in honor of her 19th birthday. Happy Birthday Erin!!!
The memories were coming back to Gina bits at a time. At first, all she could remember was that Eric saved her from something. Then she could remember Rob, and how much she had... loved him? It couldn't have been. But now more chunks were coming back. Her father's arrest, the wedding, how she'd treated Eric. 'Oh gosh, Rob can wait,' she thought, 'I need to apologize to Eric!'
At about this time she'd just passed the main gates, so she turned around to go back to the forest. But as she did, she felt big hands around her arms.
"Unhand me you big oafs!" she screamed, "I'll tell my brother on you!"
"Sorry Miss," one replied, "Boss says you're not yourself. Says you should be kept from leaving til you're thinking straight."
"Oh, I'm thinking straight! I'm thinking that if you don't let me go you won't be able to walk straight! So there!"
They took her away down a now familiar path. They were taking her to Rob
"Rob! You jerk! I don't love you! I don't want to marry you! Tell them to let me go!" she yelled as he came into view.
"Let her go," Rob said.
Gina kept screaming, "I can't believe you! After all this you just won't give up, you - wait a minute, did you tell them to let me go?"
The startled guards finally complied. There was a startled silence all around.
"Gina," Rob said slowly, "What your friend said made me think, and he's right. I love you too much to see you every day in a life that doesn't bring you happiness. So go. Get out of my sight and out of my life so I can finally forget."
"Oh Rob," Gina replied, astounded by Ron's sudden maturity, "Thank you so much. And good bye." She turned to leave, but compassion struck her.
"Rob," she said, turning back, "Are you sure you want to stay with this cult? You could come with us; leave this dishonored place and try to make a difference. We'd be glad to have you."
"I doubt that very much," he replied, "But more importantly, I need to stay here. With your father's arrest I've risen in the ranks. I'm in a very good position to keep Kyle in check, especially if all this nonsense about drugs is really true. But before you go."
He stopped talking and reached for his hand, sliding off the engagement ring that matched the one on Vlad's finger.
"Take it," he said, "Get yours back from that big blonde guy, and save them. I hope they serve you well someday."
Gina was nearly moved to tears.
"Rob," she managed through sobs, "I want you to know that in a different time, and a different place, I could really have loved you. And I'll miss you."
"Don't make it worse. Please go."
And she did. About 15 feet out she met Eric.
"Gina!" he said, "I don't think you should go see Rob! I think he's a little unstable and-"
"I already saw him," she interrupted, "And it's ok. He thought about what you said, and he wants me to go."
"Really?" Eric asked incredulously.
It seemed all there was to be said on that subject had been said. Eric went on to a new one.
"So how are you doing with all this?"
"It's a lot to handle. It's all kind of coming back in pieces. I know I was really horrible to you, and I'm sorry."
"It's ok. I know you weren't yourself."
"I wasn't anybody else either. The drug didn't control me, it just brought out a certain side of me. The little girl who loved her daddy more than anything, and would never leave her home. That's what the drug brought me back to, but it was still me."
"It's ok," he repeated, "I forgive you."
"Thank you."
They reached the woods, where Vlad waited for them in the Ringo Harrison. They got in and drove off like in old times. It was time to get on with the quest.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

New Template!

Look! It's a new template! It may not make any sense, but there it is. And it's elegant, darn it! Elegance is everything!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Ch. 46

There was silence after Kyle departed. Vlad noticed the look on Eric's face, how he was staring coldly at Kyle's dwindling figure, and decided to give him some space.
"I'm going to find the lobster," said Vlad slowly, "Sweeney and Stuart called us a taxi that will be in the clearing. I will meet you there."
"Ok, Vlad," Eric replied without turning.
"And Eric?" asked Vlad in that same careful tone.
"I'm sorry. About Gina."
Eric was silent. Vlad took this as his cue to leave.
Presently, Eric stopped staring after Kyle and began to search the ransacked church. He searched under the overturned pews, amidst the remains of the statuary, and around the collapsed podium. Finally, near one of the aisles, he ound what he was looking for. The chalice the guests had drunken from was rolling on it's side, and welled in the side was about a gulp of what looked to be water. Perfect. Eric poured it into his empty canteen, and proceeded to find Gina.
She would either be in her house or at Rob's, and since Kyle was in the mansion, Eric decided to check out option two. He headed for the higher order residence area, and sure enough he found a house with a large silver moose embossed on the door. He knocked. Rob pushed the door open.
"Go away," he said, "She doesn't want to see you, and neither do I."
"I just want to talk to her, please," Eric pleaded.
"No. It's over, Eric. Go." Slam.
Eric walked around the side of the house, to the backyard. All the windows were closed and the drapes down, except the upstairs bedroom window. That was open, and he could hear Gina crying within.
"Gina!" he yelled, "Please come down and talk to me!"
She moved to close the window.
"Five minutes!" he screamed, "Five minutes for old time's sake! Five minutes to say good bye. Please."
She stopped. "Five minutes?" she asked, between sobs.
"Five minutes."
Soon she and Rob walked up to him form the front of the house.
"Go ahead," she said, holding back tears.
"This is the antidote to the drug they -"
"I'm not on drugs!" she shouted.
"Yes you are ! Kyle knows it! Rob knows it! Tell her, Rob."
"He's lying honey." Rob said, straight-faced.
"This'll prove it! Dammit, Rob, how can you let her be like this! You fell in love with the same Gina I did, and this isn't her! How can you let her be like this? How can you want to marry her?"
Rob took a deep breath.
"Annette, please go inside," he said with a forced calm. She did. When she was gone he spoke again.
"I know this isn't the girl I fell in love with! It kills me to see her this way! But you're the one who made us do this! Before she met you, she loved her home; she loved her family! She even liked me. But you had to take advantage of her youthful rebellion. You're the real drug! You and the rest of that so-called outside world. And I can't bear to lose Annette to that! I'd rather love and marry her like this than see her slip away completely! And if that means she stays drugged, she stays drugged! Now get out of my life!"
"You're a sick, sad man," said Eric, "And I hope I never see you again." Then he turned and waked away. He walked all the way to the gate, and through the forest where the taxi was waiting.
"You Vlad?" asked the driver.
"No, I'm Eric. Vlad's coming."
"Alrighty. I'm Earl. Those FBI men paid me in advance; we can wait about fifteen minutes without me losing money."
And they waited. Earl tried to strike up conversation a few times, but quickly realized Eric was in a dark mood and left him alone. About ten minutes later, Eric saw a figure approaching.
A short, brown haired figure dressed all in white. It couldn't be! He ran out to meet her.
"Give me the water!" she demanded.
"But you..."
"Give it! I have to know!"
He gave it to her, and she swallowed it.
"Nothing," she said.
"It takes about five minutes."
"Alright, I'll wait five minutes, but no more."
"Same here!" shouted Earl from the cab.
They ignored him. The next five minutes were the longest minutes of Eric's life. They stared at each other with mixed love and hate, as if under a spell, but casting glances at Eric's watch. At four minutes and forty-three seconds, Gina got dizzy and started to fall. Eric caught her.
As she lay in his arm, he saw a light go on in her eyes. A light he hadn't seen in a long time. As his face broke into a smile, she threw her arms around his neck and kissed him quickly but seriously on the lips.
"Thanks for coming back for me," she said as he staggered back dumbfounded, "I think I need to go talk to Rob."
She bounded off down the woods path.
"That's it," said Earl. It's been more'n fifteen minutes; I can't wait any longer. If you're coming c'mon."
Before Eric could answer Vlad came walking up the path with a lobster, who held a squiggly piece of glowing red iron.
"Eric!" he shouted, "I just saw Gina! She hugged me. I think she's -"
"Back? Is she ever! And is that -"
"The Heating Element of the Eternal Flame? I believe so. The lobster found it for me."
"I hate to break up this happy ending," said Earl, "But are you guys coming? Cause I'm going."
"Vlad, can you ride with him to get the car? I want to make sure Rob doesn't try anything with Gina."
"No problem. I'll be back in no time at all. Well, obviously in some time, but it won't be a noticeable amount. Well, that's not true either, but at least when you do notice the time you won't notice that it's long. At least, not long by my standards..." He kept talking even when the cab drove off. Things were finally getting back to normal.