The Joining: Ainsworth Chronicles Book One

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Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Fifteen

C

arol drove back to the hotel and immediately went up to Agnes’ suite. She knocked on the door. No answer. Didn’t expect one really, did I?

She slid her card in the handle and opened the door. “Agnes?” No smell of incense filled the air. She walked through the room, everything was made perfectly neat. She looked in the drawers and in the closet. No suitcases, no dated forties clothing. No sign that Agnes had ever stayed there. What in the?

Carol went back downstairs to the front desk and checked the registry. There was no one registered in that room and no one in the hotel with the name Agnes Van Lunt.

She was never here? Do only I remember her being here? What has she done, she’s bloody altered time and got rid of herself. That can’t be, can it?

Had it to do with finding Nathan? How is this going to find him? Or was it to do with her hiding from whoever was after her?

* * *

Later in the day she called Jake. “Hi Jake. Don’t forget my turn to take you on a hot-date stake-out. Hatley Castle, tomorrow night.”

“Saturday’s the wedding.”

“I know, but Agnes said the invocation would be the night before.”

“Agnes? Who the hell is Agnes?”

“Old spiritualist that stayed at the hotel. You met her during the High

Tea. She read your mind and you took off all huffy.”

“Lady, you must be smoking some bad-ass shit. I met you at the High Tea thing once this week, but it was just you and me. Although I do remember seeing some psychic woman in Vegas once, thought she was pretty good. Swear she could read your mind.”

Yes, even he doesn’t remember her ever being here. What the hell has she done? Is it because of what was chasing in the alley that night?

“Seven o’clock for that hot date, tomorrow night. Don’t be late.” The only hot thing he’s going to get is a poker shoved up his behind if I had my way.

* * *

Carol rounded the corner to her room and caught sight of a man dressed like someone from a Humphrey Bogart movie knocking on the door of the room opposite hers. She watched, half paying attention to his dated clothing. Man, some people really like wearing the same thing for about thirty years or so. Wait a minute. It was him from before, our hotel’s resident ghost. Francis Rattenbury. Why is he here?

The man, not having anyone answer his knock turned and proceeded to knock on the next door.

What the…?

Only this time his body shimmered, and it appeared to split. Another smaller, daintier figure pulled away and looked up at her. Agnes? It pulled a card from its jacket pocket and bent over. It appeared to slide something under her door before turning and merging back into the distinguished gentleman who began to walk away.

Man, I must be more tired than I thought. “Francis?” She followed the figure of the man as he walked quickly to the elevator. The elevator door hushed open.

Carol ran up. “Hang on old man.” Unresponsive, he stepped into the elevator. She grabbed the door before it slid completely closed. He thrust his face at her through the gap before it slid open this time and gasped.

“Danger awaits those who wonder at the wall.”

And then he smiled that insipid grin, just like Agnes did when she was being adored. The lights flickered, the elevator shook. Carol grabbed at the button to open the door and turned back to stare at the man in the elevator as the door slid open. Only there wasn’t anyone there. He was gone. On the floor a small Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figurine, similar to the ones left at two of the crime scenes, stared up at her. Carol picked it up and stuffed it into her pocket.

What…? The shit around here just keeps getting crazier and crazier. She turned and went back to her room. Opening her door, a postcard fluttered at her feet. Carol bent over and picked it up. It was an old sienna colored picture of a brick building and two people posing in front of it, vaguely familiar. Carol walked into the room and turned on her lights, Her police phone rang as she turned the card over. Carol put down the card to answer the call, which if it came in on this line, she knew would be important.

“There’s an abduction of another boy being reported, just happened downtown.” Carol didn’t respond as she felt the figurine in her pocket and picked up the card. She turned it over.

Written on the backside facing her, Nathan/Now.

“Carol you there?”

Carol turned over the postcard and stared at the picture again, the building oddly familiar. The man she just saw at her door just now stood beside another smaller figure of an older woman, posing. Everything washed away as the flood of her unconscious memories flooded in. Colliding against a dark van, a woman’s body flying through the air. Her hand clutching something, an old key. The building in the photograph, it was the old front of the Windsor Hotel.

“Carol? Carol? Are you there?”

“Let me guess the abduction happened in the QuadraStreet area.”

“Near the playground. How did you know?” The voice from dispatch brought her back.

“Yes. Don’t tell me why but I think I know where the abductor is heading. I’m heading for the old Windsor Hotel.” She clicked off the phone, grabbed her keys and ran down the stairs. She was supposed to meet Jake for dinner, he’d have to wait. She texted him as she ran down the stairs, ‘been delayed, will hook up as soon as a local police matter is resolved.’ I hope I’m not too late. What did Agnes call that? Retrocognition? She ran to her car and checked the trunk to make sure her gun was there and her police light.

The Windsor was only a couple of blocks away. She put on the flashing silent police light on her dash, not turning it on and tore up the exit ramp, her guts telling her time was critical here.

* * *

Rounding the corner of the Empress Carol called on her cell phone. “Dispatch, possible crime scene at rear of Windsor hotel.”

Not wanting to alert anyone in the hotel earlier, she flicked on the light and slammed on the throttle. An old lady texting on her phone nearly crapped herself looking up from her car as Carol went around her. Lucky lady I ain’t time for this, or I’d bust your ass.

Carol slowed on silent approach, as she came around the back of the hotel, a van, familiar from her memories, sat parked there and beside it a small Ford car. Trying to open a door at the rear of the hotel stood an older lady, focused in her headlights.

Carol slammed on her brakes. God nearly hit her, so I’ve changed something, she doesn’t die. Agnes, it’s like trying to put the pieces together from a jigsaw puzzle without the box lid. She got out and was about to yell, ‘police, hands up’ as another patrol car came flying around the corner. Blinded by Carol’s lights the elder woman ran back towards the van.

“Shit!” Carol watched as she went flying off the hood of the other police car. Her body flung into the air, arms and legs askew like a rag doll. Sirens blaring as another car came around the other side. Not the same as I remember it, but the same effect. Weird. Is that what Agnes called a time paradox, where events or time changes but the outcome stays the same?

Carol checked her pulse, there was barely any. “My boys. My boys will miss me,” she gasped as her eyes closed and her head fell away. By the way the body went totally limp, Carol knew she was gone. She checked anyways as an officer from one of the cruisers came running out. No pulse.

“I recognize her. That’s Gladys Townsend, the hotel’s owner.”

Carol thought she recognized the woman’s face from the local papers.

“Boys. She mentioned her boys.”

“My mother worked there just before it closed. No, she was never married and had no kids of her own. But I do remember she said several times how she’d fawn over young boys whenever people would bring them in.”

Carol’s mind raced. A voice inside her head seemed to speak. Her voice.

Basement. Key.

The trunk.

“Where’s the van?”

They hurried to it. Another patrol car had arrived. “Get the doors open.”

There unconscious and mouth taped with duct tape lay a body. Carol shined the light on the face of the sleeping boy. She felt his pulse, weak, but alive. It wasn’t Nathan, but another. Crap, the one just reported abducted I’ll bet. But the card read Nathan, here.

“Wake him up, need to confirm who he is before the parents go ape

shit.”

Okay, not Nathan. Basement? Key? She was trying to get into the back door to the basement. The vision of a key in her hand fell across her mind. Where’s the key I saw in my mind before?

Carol frisked her pockets, nothing. She caught something white poking out from under one of the black leather gloves she had on. Carol pulled the glove down, a rough bandage swab, still partly blooded soaked stared at her. Okay, definitely the lady I shot at in Fan Tan Alley with Agnes. Around her neck dangled a thin chain. She pulled it out, a single old key. She unclipped it from her neck, also on the chain was a five-sided pendant. The face of a creature with large horns on its head. Not your long sought after loved one then?

“Where you going?”

“The basement. Don’t ask me how I know but it opens something in the basement.”

Carol grabbed her flashlight and ran to the door, there scrawled in all of the graffiti she caught what looked like a being with hair aflame. Odd drawing. The creature from the Avatar trail when I went hiking with Tony. Her heart thumped.

She knew the lady hadn’t time to lock the door. She clicked on her flashlight and began searching around. It was a dingy basement hallway with a couple of empty rooms, but no door that the key could fit. She spied several old boxes stacked up against a wall. Carol walked back into the empty room, the back wall seemed to be several feet shorter than the back wall in the hallway. Looking down, back at the dust, there was scratches and signs the boxes had been moved recently. Carol pulled them aside, there behind them was a small three-foot-high doorway. Carol kissed the key and tried it in the hole, it fit and turned.

Carol took a deep breath, half expecting foul or noxious fumes and shone her light inside the small twelve by twelve room. Shadowy figures appeared to sit in chairs. To her right a light switch. She clicked it on and was surprised when light flooded the room. I thought the hotel had been closed for years. She blinked in shocked horror.

The whole room had been painted with murals of a child’s bedroom. Toy airplanes hung from strings, posters of movies, Toy Story, Star Wars, Indiana Jones plastered the walls, all painted in bright blues and reds. Toys sat up against the far wall, dump trucks, hot wheel cars, G I Joes.

But it was the five chairs arranged in a semi-circle facing each other in the center that caught her breath. Four of the chairs held bodies of young boys. One empty obviously meant for the last boy in her trunk. Three of the bodies, desiccated and dried, had been dead a long time.

One of the bodies let out a slight moan. “Nathan,” she cried and reached over to touch his neck. The lad’s eyes opened.

“Auntie,” he whispered before he slumped over.

“Nathan!” Carol wanted to hug him but knew better than to disturb him. Her hand ran over his face, he was so cold. She grabbed her phone and called for medical aid. She felt his pulse, he was alive, but barely. She’d probably drugged him somehow, toxicology would determine how. Of the other two, one was cold. Carol recognized the face of one of the victim’s abducted this week, the Pendray boy. He was still warm, but his vitals were barely noticeable. She wanted to cut both their bounds loose, but worried disturbing them could end their lives. Leave that to the experts. She took quick pictures of the other two. One had been dead for decades, the other not so long, but judging by the degree of dehydration, years as well.

What sick mind would do this and set this up? Had the lady drugged them, perhaps injected them with embalming fluid in order to preserve them? Judging by the coolness of the room, it was like a morgue in here and normally the bodies wouldn’t rot, just dry out. The medics rushed in one at a time.

“Those two are alive, but barely. They’ve been drugged somehow, probably Rohypnol if I was to guess.” That still leaves two others unaccounted for in the four abducted in the last two weeks. But Carol had a pretty good idea where they’d be tonight.

Carol then clicked on her private cell phone as she walked into the back alley getting out of the way of the paramedics and the forensic team rushing in. “Barb, get in your car and meet me at Victoria General. I’ve found Nathan. Yes, he’s alive, rough shape. No, ask later, get over there. I’m on the way as well. You’re welcome. Thank me later, Victoria General.” The phone went dead, she knew Barb was already heading out the door. Her thanks was more of a deep grieving sob. Oh thank God, don’t know what would have happened to her if we found him dead.

So, I’ve got at least two boys still missing. Okay, now to find this wall of wonder, before it’s too late for those two. At least Nathan has been rescued. She glanced at her phone, less than twenty hours to find and save the others. But first, she threw on her police light and followed the ambulance as it tore off for Victoria General, to meet her sister.

Tears blurred her vison as she drove. Agnes you crazy, nutty old broad. I don’t know how you pulled this off, think it cost you your life, but thanks.

She swerved around another person texting on their phone in their car. That’s two I could have busted tonight, why do people think laws only apply to other people?

The blue fairy watched from a corner of the room as the police took pictures of the room.

See, she seeks justification.

She helped him.

She cares.

Pain wracked its soul.

We must go.

Will she care about us?

Unknown.

But we will seek her again.

* * *

Carol watched the busy coming and goings from outside the hospital, having a smoke. The sign above her read, No Smoking On The Property. I’ll pay the fine, try and arrest me. She stuck around just long enough to know that Nathan would be okay, they had subscribed something to nullify the effects of the drugs Gladys gave him and were giving him a massive blood transfusion. He began to respond quickly. Barbara must have thanked her a thousand times and shed sixteen Kleenex boxes of tears.

Winds were rising from an approaching storm she could see in the distance from the hillside the hospital stood on. British Columbia’s winters while mild sometimes were violent along the coast with Japanese currents bringing in major rains and winds. She kicked at the discarded cigarette butts. The air stank with disturbed salty odors coming off the ocean and chaos in the unsettled air.

I don’t get it? Why? She stared at the screen of her phone. Agnes didn’t come here for the ghosts. She came to be taken to the vortex. So why have me take her there? She could have done that on her own?

An American Bald Eagle cried out over head as it struggled to bank in the winds or testing its ability to ride nature’s turbulence.

She’s ended a time loop of some sort, because only I remember her. She’s ended a time loop about me. She said she came here to find an answer to the Jordon Gibson case, which I guess she did. But in the end, she helped me, and I don’t know how she did it.

Set up? Carol watched as the eagle cried again as it surrendered to the increasing buffeting and settled onto a tall cedar behind her. Yup, most definitely I was set up.

I get it, that doesn’t matter. So now I’ve got to help find these two boys, before it’s too late. What matters in the end is that she helped me. Wherever you are Agnes and Cider, Thanks.

The eagle in the tree screeched as it launched itself back into the air.

And you mother nature can go to hell!

* * *

Carol opened the door to Senior Rizzuto’s room, it had still been cordoned off from the public. She ran through the forensic reports as she closed the door behind her.

Something in here doesn’t make sense. I think Agnes knew that but didn’t tell me. The test results showed that the fibers of the rope were indeed a hundred years old, made from American cotton and no surprise there wasn’t any DNA to be found on it. But not any older, so if our ghost was exacting revenge and he died in 1862, the noose is still too young. And the post mortem shows that he didn’t die from hanging but from asphyxiation. It suggests that instead someone slipped the noose around his neck and choked him to death.

She looked at the markings on the ground of where his body lay. The cabinet with its spilled contents. Okay, he put up a fight before dying, but that means there was someone else in the room. Someone that Mr. Rizzuto would have let in. Or someone that managed to break the code or use a spare key to enter.

In either case the perpetrator left, closed the door and managed to lock the anchor from the outside. Carol walked up to the entrance door. Her eyes caught the sideboard and she remembered the pack of dental floss laying incongruously on it. Surely people would use the floss in the bathroom? So why was the pack here, next to the door? Unless… She rang the forensics boss.

“Hi George. Need you to get back to the crime scene. I need you to swab the door lock and anchor for any residue that seems out of place. Also, I’m wondering if there was any dental floss found at the scene. Yeah, I remember the open pack, but I mean any lengths, used or otherwise. There were? Okay, was it used? Please check it out, see if there is any saliva or DNA. Yeah, I know, but if you find what I think you will a puzzle will be solved. Thanks.” Now to go over my notes in my room.

* * *

Carol sat before her laptop. “So, I’ve Agnes, mad Italians and Satanic rituals. Only she knows, or rather knew, something I don’t and won’t or wouldn’t tell me. Now she’s disappeared these tenses are all screwed up. Why?”

She googled haunted sights of Victoria. Dozens of webpages came up. “Wow, she’s right, there’s a lot of locations here.” She spent the next couple of hours scrolling through page after page.

Carol grabbed a tourist map of Victoria, tossed it on the wall of her office and began to mark with a pen all the known hauntings. She began to triangulate all the data she could on ghosts, hauntings. Yes, Agnes was right most travel in straight lines, like in England on the old churches, and other monuments. So, if this is correct then there should be something strange. Or maybe there’s something to see that sticks out. She stared at Hatley Castle.

It stood across the bay to the east all by itself. She drew a line towards it then drew another from several known ghost sightings, St Ann’s Academy, Victoria Golf Course, the bay and others. No, surprise that this is where our Eastern guests are holding their ceremony, it is here the two Ley Lines intersect.

Carol perused the blog sights. Several people talked about a Hall of Wonder. What did that spirit at Avatar Grove say? ‘Stare at the wall and wonder.’ Or something like that.

Further along from the more northern Ley Line she caught a picture someone took of a door that was an entrance to the sewer systems. Like the aerosol sprayings she caught on the side of rail cars whenever stuck waiting for the train to go by. Such wasted talent.

Reports were that this Hall of Wonder is downtown. Some people reported it below the purple lead lined glass covers of some of the downtown streets. In the old days the storage of most buildings was built out below the street level and they added the glass to have basically free lighting to the rooms below. The panels over the years turned purple due to the manganese used in the manufacturing process before 1915. Only those were installed around 1900 or so, so I don’t think this Hall of Wonder is under one of those panels.

Hang on. I’ve seen that scrawling or something familiar.

At the Bard and Banker pub in the washroom. And at the back of the Windsor Hotel in my vision. She stared closer at the scribbles painted with aerosol can then printed the picture from her computer.

Take away the rude swear words, there’s something here. Carol grabbed an orange Sharpie and highlighted the image. It was like a being on fire. That was on the door at the Windsor Hotel.

Carol clicked off the page. Before shutting down her computer she checked her postings on a few threads and blogs from earlier, nothing concrete. She reposted asking about anything regarding the wall or hall of wonder and if anyone knew where this was or what it was about. There’s something going on here, maybe hooked to this weird wall. She glanced at her watch, realizing she had forgotten to have lunch.

Hmm. Perhaps I should visit the Pendray house for some of their special tea and scones. I think Agnes has got me hooked on lemon cheesecakes, I’ll see if theirs are as good as the Fairmont’s. Agnes had said she wanted me to visit the place and since she’s not with us anymore, bless her soul, I think I shall take up her advice.

* * *

Gorgeous work. Carol stared at the blue and red stained-glass panels set above and into the front entrance of the Pendray House or, as it was currently known, the Gatsby Manor, on the property of the Huntingdon Manor Hotel.

Shadows shifted across the walls as she enjoyed the tea and scones. What? There was only one other couple in a smaller adjoining room at the time.

“Can I ask something? I hear this place is haunted and especially room five. Upstairs,” she asked the waitress when she brought her the desserts.

“The honeymoon suite. Yes, it is. We get a lot of requests for that room, booked solid on Halloween for years ahead.” She looked about to make sure management wasn’t about. “I shouldn’t tell you this, but just yesterday I was in this dining room all alone and noticed the lights were off. I flicked them on and when I did a picture fell off the wall. I put it back up and went to leave. When I came back a minute later, the other waitress had entered the room and I noticed that she had reached up to turn the lights on. I asked why did you do that when I had just turned them on? She looked at me weirdly, and said the lights were off when she came into the room. I told her I’d just turned them on.”

Carol watched what was now two shadows move about the room as the lady talked; it was obvious the waitress couldn’t see them. Her nose twitched.

“Okay.” She flipped her badge. “I’m on police duty. Can I see inside that room?” The shadows moved through the room and up the stairs. She watched as another waitress shivered as they went past. “We’re not supposed to. But who am I to obstruct the law? The guests have left for the day and room service is in the middle of cleaning it, so I can let you in for a bit.”

“Gimme a moment alone,” Carol said as she entered the room and closed the door behind her.

Shadows moved along the edges of the room.

“I can see you hiding, William and Ernest Pendray.”

The two men began to solidify in front of her. “We are not hiding from you.”

“No, it’s just that I see you and know what happened to you.”

They sneered at her and grit their teeth attempting to frighten her.

“Give up boys, I’m not afraid. I know the Lekwungen killed you in revenge for what another did on the property of their village of the dead.

There is a curse that needs to be broken if you are to rest in peace.”

“We know of them, we know nothing of a curse. They dwell, we believe, below in Tunnels of Wonder. Find the one they cursed and then perhaps we will be released.”

Well that confirmed mostly what I already knew. Now to find this Hall of Wonder.

“Thanks.” Carol left them seething. She stared at the cleaning lady as she walked up to her. She looked Mexican or Philippino. “You religious?” she asked looking at her rosary beads around her neck.

“Yes.”

“Best hang on to those and do a little praying before you go in. The ghosts are quite restless today.” And I think I stirred them up.

As Carol paid her bill and was about to leave a scream tore through the building. The cleaning lady came running down the stairs. “I queet this crazy place,” she screeched and flung her apron down.

“Yup, definitely haunted.” Carol smiled as she left. “And great tea.

Have a pleasant rest of the afternoon.”

Although, I think we do serve better scones in all fairness.

* * *

When she got back Carol checked her email. There had been one from George confirming DNA on the floss, but no hits. He thought it strange there was no saliva, however, just epithelial residue – skin cells. There had also been a waxy substance on the door anchor which matched the floss. So, my hunch was right, shame there’s no hits. She checked the blog sites and had a few responses to the requests. Most were pretty unusual or simply said things like they’d heard about it and the secret tunnels below Victoria. But one caught her eye, from someone with the handle ‘Danglepuss’. Of all things, maybe not so young and pimply-faced after all. He replied, “I’ve been there many times and have seen many weird things and people there. Along with a few spirit beings.”

Carol noticed he was online. “I am very interested in going there. Are you on?”

He replied, “I can take you there, but want to meet you first. I won’t take a stranger there. Need to meet you.”

She decided to lay herself on the line as he sounded pretty honest. “Okay, give me a location near there, preferably a Timmies, and I’ll buy, I need to get there tonight.”

“There’s one at the Hillside Mall. Bring two flashlights and rubber boots. I’ll be wearing a

‘Many Moods of Darth Vader’ black tee-shirt. You’ve got my curiosity up. Why?”

“Same as you, I’m investing several disappearances and running out of time. The Hillside, next to Shelbourne Street. That is where the …” “Vortex is.” They both wrote at the same time.

There was a delay.

“It is. Is this regarding the abducted boys? You a cop?”

“Yes, on both. Undercover.”

“Cool. I’m in.”

“I’m a brunette, will have a checkered red top on.”

* * *

Carol looked up from her phone as a guy sat down across from her. He looked like he worked out, not the bespectacled dweeb she expected. In fact, he had this solid, handsome look she admired.

“You Justifier?”

“You must be Danglepuss?” She caught his tee shirt.

He nodded.

“What I got something in my nose or something?” He swiped at his nose. “You’re staring at me awfully funny.”

“No, I was just expecting someone more, well, if I’m to be more honest, more…”

“Geeky looking?”

“Well, yes, I didn’t expect a good-looking man.”

Well, agreed. I didn’t really expect a hot lady. So, you’re a cop?” Carol nodded.

“You packing heat?”

Carol nodded again and a gleam brightened his eyes.

“That excites you then?”

“Yeah, I’m liking what I’m seeing and hearing already. So, what brings you to the Wall of Wonder, not Hall of Wonder?”

“I’m here to connect with the Lekwungen.” Carol told him briefly about meeting Charlie and her adventures with him.”

“Wow, just thought it was me that ran into crazy, what’s the term?” “Woo-woo,” they both spurted out.

“Okay, I have run into some strange beings down there. I think I’ve

met the ones you want to meet. Not overly friendly that bunch. You’re some gutsy broad. Single?” Carol smiled.

“Same. Myself, I do like to work out in the gym. I’m an Electrical Engineer, was a licensed automotive technician, love to hot rod cars and a Star Wars fan, as you can tell by my shirt. I like to go out to comic book conventions and any conventions involving Science Fiction or fantasy buffs. But my real hobby is anything to do esoteric or involving ghosts. Yes, as you tell me there are a lot of ghosts and spiritual happenings here. Due partly to …” “The Ley Lines,” they both said and laughed.

Carol really noticed it for the first time over his buffed chest. It was eight identical pictures of Darth Vadar, at the top it read, ‘The Many Moods of Darth’. Under each one, a word. “Happy, sad, laughing, crying, depressed, mad, angry, sarcastic.” Carol laughed. “Like the shirt, someone with my kind of humor.” I’ve gotta start watching more sci fi.

Carol looked at her watch, she had to meet Jake in less than three hours. “Look, I’m not trying to be rude, but I’m running out of time. I’m really enjoying your company and could chat all night. I need some answers to the two boys that were abducted recently, and I’ve got to meet someone soon.”

“Same, and besides we need to get down there before dark. It’s around the dusk that the shit really happens.”

“Okay, let’s go.”

* * *

Carol shone her light down the dark corridor. Water splashed as she walked past the entrance with the typical warning scrawled in spray paint and a rather elaborate painting entitled Power Struggle, with an all-seeing eye creature holding a sword over a helpless man, a river of oil flowed beside them. Very quasi-commie, no more than I expected. I hope this guy is for real and not some whack job. She glanced up at his face. Danglepuss, a handsome whack job, she didn’t even know his real name. They’d passed several other works of graffiti, including a few of men, hair aflame and for the last half an hour trundled down several tunnels that were cold, dank, wet and rank. Mainly rank, but to be expected in a sewer system.

He guided her along, it was obvious he’d been here many times. Why, she knew she’d find out one day, but not today. Why does a man come down here time after time? To find serenity?

Peace in his soul? Or a lost one? Crazy drugged out stoner?

“You’re probably wondering why I come down here.”

“I was actually.” Oh, crap don’t tell me I’ve met another bloody mind reader pyscho person.

“I’ve come down here below the Garden City seeking my dad for the first time. Not alone, with a few others, on a laugh. But the reports were that weird things happened down here. I didn’t think I’d find him and in a way I did. I’ve never done drugs. Always thought I might try it but what I saw here convinced me never to. Still some here find bliss and solace. I guess I’d like to seek the same. But not like what happened to him.”

Carol stopped for a second and looked up at him. Moisture seemed to streak his face. “Thanks for that moment of real honesty.” She reached up and touched his hand. Danglepuss grasped hers.

“What you want to see is the vial room. That is where the bizarre stuff really happens.”

“How bizarre?”

“You’ll see. Addicts hang out in there. It’s the energy. If my GPS is correct, we’re virtually now under the vortex that runs above the street.”

She had to ask, her intuition going off. “You found your dad there, didn’t you?”

Yes, he died there. I had to carry him out. Made me determined never to become like him. Now the vial room is ahead on the left. Check out the walls. And then you’ll wonder how this is possible.”

Carol thought for a moment. That’s what the Lekwungen said at Avatar trail. As soon as they entered, she felt the coldness and more. Shadowy figures moved everywhere in the gloom. Several candles were alight. Then she caught what Danglepuss said. Along the walls jammed into the mortar were hundreds of needles that glistened in the dim light cast by the flickering flames.

“Not sure how it happened, someone must have begun to stab them into the old mortar, probably not wanting to step on the needles. I call it the Sanctuary of the Lost. We’re just in time, watch.”

There were three people laying up against concrete slabs. One girl looked out of it. The other two young men had just begun to inject themselves. As they did the shadows began to move and several spirits pulled from the darkness and began to circle. “I was freaked the first time I saw this, but now I come here often to watch. Undrugged people, like us, they aren’t interested in. The addicts, now that’s a different story.”

“I can see why, we’re on one of the Ley Lines, I felt the change in the energy the second we walked into this room.” Her nose was twitching like mad.

One of the men opened his mouth to scream, Carol moved to rush forward. Danglepuss grabbed her. “Don’t, there’s nothing you can do.”

As he screamed quietly blue flaming spirits moved over his mouth and began to inhale. Carol watched vapors being pulled from the tormented man into themselves. “When you toke up down here, you release yourself from this realm and I’m guessing you’re feeding these spirits. In return the stoners say they get the best, most incredible highs of their lives. Many report being taken to other worlds, other times. Something to do with the Ley Lines and maybe the vortex I suppose.”

One of the two went limp as one of the spirits flowed into the man, merging into one. He fell away. “A few, like my dad, die; not many. They all say it’s worth the rush.”

Carol caught lights flickering from the wall where the vials were jammed into as she looked up. “What?” She walked up closer, several of the vials had lights moving in them and as she came closer, she could make out faces. “How is this possible?”

“I knew you’d be able to see them. Few can, to most they are just needles jammed into the wall.”

“In my adventures with Charlie I met a being I called Sprity and she left me with some ability. I often see things others can’t, especially since I came to Victoria.”

“That one there is my dad.” He pointed to one vial. “I haven’t the guts to take it out of the wall. I watched someone do that to one and the spirit inside died. These ghosts here live on a symbiotic relationship. I think the people kept them alive or make them stronger and in return they give the addicts a greater high than they’ve ever felt. Some though if they die and one manages to get a needle into them in time keep them alive in the vial.”

“Doubt I ever could bring him back, but I have connections that might be able to. When this is over, I’ll see what I can do.”

“Thanks. And I’ve seen a few ghosts enter the bodies and walk out of here. Don’t know if they can stay in them forever. Some kind of soul transference, I think.”

Carol shook her head, for a younger man, he seemed very calm, solid and grounded. A lot calmer than I’d be if I was down here on my own watching my dad pass away. “I’ve seen something like this before in Vancouver, this was my first Charlie case. It was not quite the same, but very familiar. I can also explain this later, but right now I need to find explanations to something and I think the beings that I need to contact are here.” Carol stepped back from the wall. She didn’t know why and didn’t normally share any of her past strange cases; in fact, she thought Agnes has been the only one outside the Force that had much idea, but there was something about him that she deeply trusted.

She stepped forward into the center of the room. “I have come seeking those of the Lekwungen, I have met you before. You have asked me to come to this place. I am here now.”

He moved to stand behind her as if to protect her if needed. “This is crazy, but I’m your backup man if anything goes awry.”

A surge from the dark tunnels before them. Screams and chants shuddered up into the room, a sudden whoosh surrounded them, and the room filled with a blue shimmering light. The candles, flames exploded upwards, increasing in size tenfold. Sweat formed on her brow as the room warmed up.

The girl laying out cold sat up, her hair smoldering in blue flame, her eyes when she opened them surged with orange flames and as she opened her mouth sparks flew out, as if wind blew across logs were burning on a fireplace.

“Don’t run, I’ve seen these only once before, surprised you knew about them. If you turn to run, they will attack and burn you. One of the guys I was with got second degree burns.”

Screams tore from the woman as she fought herself, tearing at her face, the being inside obviously in torment. It was like her soul was being fried. Then she stopped and lifting from the ground gravitated towards the two. “Who calls, we of the Lekwungen.” Sparks spat from her mouth as she floated in front of Carol.

“I know how you got here, I am sorry for how my kind destroyed your village. But one of your kind, a shaman, helped create a curse through one of ours, a judge.”

“We seek justice and you.” The fire being moved closer until Carol could feel the heat radiating from it. “You are a justifier. We sought you earlier. Those that are here, with you will not be tolerated. They bring a being most foul, we will not let him enter here.” Don’t tell me they’d start a supernatural gang war?

“I cannot defeat this demon alone, I need help. You will help us.” Carol tried not to flinch as embers fluttered between them. The smell of old burnt wood and plant material flooded over her. Danglepuss put his hand on her shoulder as if to give moral support.

“I ask one thing first, did one of you hang a man from the room of the hotel I am staying at located at the end of the bay that was filled in many years ago?”

“Deception, it was one of his own followers. But there will be others and we won’t stop ourselves. We ask again.” Its eyes exploded in angry red flames. “There is one we seek that will end this, bring him to us.”

“Yes, I can do that. I will help you.”

The girl crumpled to the concrete, the fires swirled about and poured down the tunnels, the candles flickered and returned to their former sizes.

Coldness began to seep back into the room.

Danglepuss bent over and checked the fallen girl’s pulse.

“She’s dead.”

“Okay, so not even a thanks. It is time to leave.”

Danglepuss grabbed her arm, “That was truly freaky.”

Carol glanced at her watch, “I need to get moving, my time is running out.”

Minutes later they emerged into the street under a darkening sky. She had about half an hour to meet Jake. “Thanks for that, it helped a lot. I’ve gotta run, urgent police business. Don’t worry about the girl, I’ll send in a team to retrieve her.”

Danglepuss smiled softly at her. “Lady, this has been one fucking spooky date. Don’t suppose I could join you?” She nodded no.

“I’d like to meet you again, on a more normal type of dinner date.” “Takes one bizarro to appreciate another.” They both laughed.

“So, it has. I’ll contact you on the net via the thread and set something up.” “Deal.” He leaned in and kissed her lightly on the cheek.

He pulled away and began to slowly walk up the hill with that natural confident swagger of his. “Yup, one freaky date, really enjoyed it though,” he turned and called back to her.

“Yeah, me too.” Then it struck her. “Hey, what’s your real name if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Brad. Brad Johnson. And again thanks, it was a great night.”

And mine is barely starting. “Carol Ainsworth.” She began to walk very fast back to her car in the nearby parking lot.

So, it was, so it was. What did that insane shaman always tell me, expect the unexpected?

Yup, didn’t expect that one iota and no glasses and no pimples.

* * *

In the vial room the blue fairy being pulled itself from the wall. It had watched the entire event, knowing it could not interfere.

They the others, the whole Lekwungen, would not approve of us. That we know for sure now.

Yes, I also sense they would try to destroy this joining. They are not ones to try and understand.

She is the one, they know this, we know this.

We shall follow, there must be a way to contact her.

Through the male?

That will not help.

How?

We shall find a way, otherwise this being will perish.

This being would sooner perish, than live the rest of its life in this way.

It is agreed.

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