Emily was sitting in the back of the car because they had to pick up her mother.
“If it’s not one thing it’s another,” complained her father. “You mother gets a new car as part of her fabulous new job with The Stone Foundation, but it isn’t ready by the time she has to hand the other one back!”
Tell you father to look out!
Tell you father to look out NOW!
“Look out, Dad!”
“What’s that, baby?” her father turned around to ask.
The cement tilt-slab wall toppled sideways off of a flat bed truck just as the Volvo wagon came alongside.
Emily, lay down NOW!
Emily responded immediately and laid across the back seat.
The roof of the Volvo came crashing down and stopped a few inches from Emily’s shoulder.
Her dad had been knocked into the centre of the car. The headrest must have stopped the slab for a split second before it gave way. Nonetheless, he was bleeding badly from his head.
“Dad? DADDY?” called Emily.
Hold me, Emily.
Emily slid her hand into her pocket and grasped The Stone, even harder than usual.
You are unharmed. Now, touch your father.
Emily, put your hand on your father.
PUT YOUR HAND ON YOUR FATHER NOW!
Emily slid her hand between the front seats towards her father.
Touch his neck. You must actually touch his skin.
She did as she was told. In fact, Emily felt as if she was actually being controlled by The Stone and her body would do whatever it said. She placed her fingers onto her father’s neck. It was cold and damp.
Your father’s neck is broken and his skull has been fractured. He is dying, Emily. We must work fast.
“NOOOOOOOOOODADDY!” Emily sobbed.
STOP IT! No matter what you are about to see or hear, do not remove your hand! Do you understand?
[Y … yes ...]
Emily suddenly felt as if her hand was stuck to her father’s neck, just like it had grown there.
She began to feel an intense energy flowing from The Stone through her into her father and she was being carried along with it. She saw the break in his neck. She saw the pressure building up in his injured brain. She felt his heart as it stopped beating.
Suddenly, she was smiling down at herself in her crib, looking through her father’s eyes. She felt her father’s scratchy chin as he nuzzled for the ‘baby sugar’ where her tiny neck meets her shoulder. She was sitting in an upturned footstool as he flew her around the room in a ‘flying saucer.’ These are her father’s dying thoughts and they were about her!
She strangled him as she let go of the safety of the swimming pool wall for the first time when she was learning to swim. When she was very sick, he slept on the floor beside her bed. He kissed her goodnight hundreds of times when she was already asleep, wishing her happy dreams. She never knew these things, or had forgotten them.
She gave her father’s heart a gentle kiss and it started beating again. The Stone finished the healing and together they withdrew.
The Rescue Team tore open the rear door of the Volvo with the ‘Jaws Of Life,’ sliced through Emily’s seatbelt and gently dragged her to safety by her feet. She emerged so completely calm they thought she was in shock.
A female police officer kept saying, “I’m so sorry, dear. We think your father may not have survived the accident. We have contacted you mother and she is on her way here now with a police escort. She will be here any second. I’m so sorry, dear.”
Emily kept reassuring the policewoman, “It’s fine. Really, my dad is OK.”
The police woman turned to her partner and whispered, “She delusional.”
“No, he will be fine,” Emily repeated.
One of the Paramedics called from within the scrum around the flattened Volvo, “I have a strong pulse. BP 110 over 70. Good as gold. I wish I had a BP as good as that! Apart from a king-size headache, this guy will be OK.”
The spirits of everyone suddenly rose as the dark cloud of the death-watch so often faced by the police and rescuers was lifted.
One of the rescue team approached, “I would have given even money on a broken neck, or at least a crushed skull. That slab weighed five tons, even if it was a Volvo!”
“Hey, we have his daughter here!” admonished the policewoman.
“Sorry, sweetheart,” says the rescue man to Emily, sheepish.
“That’s OK,” smiled Emily calmly. “I knew he was alright even before you pulled me out.”
Everyone turned and looked with a sense of wonder at the serene 12 year-old girl with her hand stuck firmly in her pocket.
[You saved my Daddy’s life. Thank you. I … I love you.]
Emily, you saved your father’s life. I just helped. That’s my job.
[OK, we’re even.]
[I still love you.]
I’m afraid for once I just do not know what to say, Emily. Love is not an experience I ever expected to have.
The Stone glowed brightly in Emily’s pocket and it was quiet for a while.
At a minute short of 10pm, Sam came around the corner that hid the Cubby Hole.
[Nobody else can hear us talk, you know, mentally?]
Sam Watson, I assure you that no one else can sense our thoughts. I can sense your heightened anxiety and I can assure you that I will protect my medicine man at all costs. We are like blood brothers.
[Maybe I should not have brought you.]
We are stronger together. I can give you power.
[What, like help me shoot a bow and arrow?]
One of Cat’s hench-people popped her head out of the Cubby Hole and waved Sam in, “There’s a servobot due any minute.” Sam ducked in and the gang gathered together, including kids Sam hadn’t even met yet, all dressed similarly in dark, long sleeve clothes, complete with knitted beanies and balaclavas.
Cat grabbed centre stage, “OK, gang. Tonight we hit the heights. Our newest member Sam is going to escort us to the legendary Evidence Room.”
“This is the Mother Lode. Most of us believed this place was just a bedtime story made up to scare people; bits and pieces of UFOs and alien artifacts. Sam says it’s all fake, but now we get to find out for ourselves. Now, there’s too many of us to go together, so we’re going to split into four groups and meet up at Level N 24.”
Sam got a look of panic on his face, “Level N? That’s sub human, mainly the foundations and shock absorbers. That’s like entirely in the wrong direction!”
“Sammy, Sammy, Sammy,” Cat said as she shook her head. “Where is the trust? Where is the love?
Everyone paired off into the four groups. Sam was told he was sticking with Cat and two of her lieutenants. The groups left at 5 minute intervals.
Cat and her group left next to last, taking a left turn outside the Cubby Hole. Keeping low as they ran along, they almost immediately dropped off of the walkway and slid down a support pole. Cat led the group as they made their way downwards, level after level. Soon, they were completely out of the human and maintenance access ways. The darkness closed in on the four kids, making them seem even smaller.
Cat and the other two brought out flashlights and flicked them on. They had covered most of the lenses with black tape so just three small squares of light illuminated their path. Sam realized they were circling around the foundations of the EAU base deep inside the mountain. After a while, they turned and set off towards the central core. They were in the forest of enormous springs supporting the entire 15 storey base above, each one as big as a two-storey house. In the event of a near miss nuclear explosion, or whatever aliens had in their arsenal, the base was supposed to be able to absorb the shock.
One of the group shined their flashlight up on a big number 24 painted on one of the springs, “This is it. Maybe we’re first.”
“Not bloody likely,” said one of the boys, Mike, as he led his group out of the shadows, followed closely by another group. In the quiet, they heard the last group coming from another direction.
“I don’t think you guys are making quite enough noise,” chided Cat as the last group caught up. “OK, let’s catch a tube up to C deck. I want the ball boys in front.”
“We’re not all boys, Cat,” whined one of the kids taking point.
“You’re whatever I say you are, Tids. It just sounds better,” growled Cat. The four groups continued towards the central core.
Warning, Sam Watson. I can sense danger in the direction we are travelling.
[I don’t know what else to do.]
Take me in your hand so I can heighten your abilities.
[Huh? What are you going to do to me?]
Reassurance, Sam Watson. I only have your best interests and safety at heart.
Sam reached into his pocket and grasped Thunderstone. Almost immediately, he felt his senses begin to intensify. He could hear everyone breathing around him, the minute squeaks and groans of the enormous springs, he could see far into the distance as if the lights had suddenly been turned on and he was wearing binoculars.
[Wow! That’s pretty cool. I can see and hear everything.]
And I can see through you. Together we will be on guard. We are approaching the destination. If you notice those red lights above, I believe those are like spirit eyes … you say cameras.
“Uh … Cat?” whispered Sam. Her answer sounded like a shout to his heightened senses, “What do you want?
“I think those little red lights up ahead are security cams.”
“Huh? I can’t see anything. They must be new. They weren’t there last time we came this way. Tids? Andy? Eagle eye here thinks he sees cameras up ahead near the tube. Check it out and take ’em out if there are any.”
The two kids walking point took off to either side. The others couldn’t see them in the dark, but Sam could follow their progress. He watched them sneak up on the cameras from two sides, using hand signals to communicate. Each took aim at the cameras with a strange looking weapon. A rapid sequence of popping noises was heard and Cat waved everyone forward.
“Paintballs,” she whispered to Sam. “Filled with cream. Covers the lens for a few minutes while we get past, then our little furry friends get wind of it and lick it off. No evidence.”
[Pretty smart, this bunch.]
Yes, they would make good Indian scouts.
“OK, everyone. Take a deep breath. We’ve got 15 floors to climb. Tids, Andy, point.” Cat followed them with Sam close behind.
Through an archway was ‘the tube,’ a spiral staircase that rose unbroken towards the heavens. A glimmer of light could be seen far above. “Emergency exit, hasn’t been used for years, not even for drills. Who would exit down, anyway?”
In single file, the dozen or so kids tramped their way upwards. It had the feeling of an endless lighthouse. Each floor was broken with a flat landing and a door. From the look of things, they hadn’t been opened since the EAU Mountain facility was built.
The procession slowed and stopped at the door on C Level. Cat snapped her fingers and one of the minions stepped forward to the door. He applied spray-on lube and rust remover to the hinges and knob and stepped back. Cat had the privilege of opening the door and peeking inside.
And found herself facing a solid wall. She pulled the door all the way open and ran her hands over the surface. “What the hell is this? What kind of an emergency exit is through a wall?”
Tell the leader the wall is a deception. It can be opened.
“Uh … the wall could be, like … uh … pretend, I guess, like a secret entrance.” All eyes turned to Sam as he spoke. Cat gave a shove and the wall slowly swung inward. Everyone quickly doused the flashlights.
“You really are full of surprises, Sammy boy. OK, where are we?” Sam squeezed past Cat and took a look around in the dim security lighting. “We’re alright. I know this area. Come on,” Sam led the troop into the Administrative level of the EAU.
They were down a dead-end hallway. The last kid through swung the false wall closed, leaving a small gap for a quick getaway. Keeping close to the wall, Sam led them past the reception area of his mother’s office and around to the Evidence Room.
The kids gathered together at the entry of this legendary treasure trove that all alien dreams are made of. Cat put her arm around Sam’s shoulder and smiled, “Sammy, you are something else. OK, kids, you’ve got 10 minutes. Don’t take anything too big.”
The dozen kids went off into a dozen different directions. Sam feigned disinterest and made his way to a familiar table.
[I’m going to rescue your two friends.]
That is not necessary, but I thank you.
[How do I know which ones they are?]
As Sam approached the table, his heightened senses allowed him to see exactly which of the dozens of stones were the special friends of Thunderstone. He picked one up in each hand and popped them into his pockets.
Alarm, Sam Watson. I sense we have been detected.
[My Mom is going to kill me!]
Regret, Sam Watson. It would be the glorious death of a warrior at the hands of your own powerful mother, but we have been detected not by humans, but by the one I call Darth Vader.
[What can he do?]
Just then many of the exhibits seemed to take on a life of their own and began to move. The kids got frightened and gathered around Sam in the centre. Even Cat seemed to be out of her league.
Sam took control, “Follow me. We’re out of here pronto.” He took off towards the entry with the group hot on his heels. As they approached the top of the Evidence Room, several large displays seemed to move of their own accord and completely blocked the way out.
[How the hell did Vader do that?]
Bewilderment, Sam Watson. I am afraid he is a much more powerful adversary than I imagined.
[So, what can we do?]
Take me out of your pocket. Take out the other two Stones. Can you hold all of us in your hands?
Sam took Thunderstone in one hand and the two in his other.
Walk up to the large piece in the centre. Place us directly against the metal and HOLD ON!
Sam did as he was told. He leaned against the metal with the stones in his hands. The others cowered back at first, afraid of the animated metal exhibits.
Suddenly, the metal giants blocking their way were covered in the kind of blue sparks generated by static electricity balls. So was Sam. Several of the kids screamed. The metal pieces began to do a wild dance and literally jumped apart, allowing the kids to tear out of the Evidence Room and not stop until they were inside the spiral stairway with both doors closed.
“I don’t know what the hell just happened, Sam, but thanks,” said Cat, honestly and without a trace of her usual attitude. “Come on. Split up again at the bottom and don’t stop until you reach the Cubby.”
The next morning, Emily sat next to her Dad’s hospital bed. She had hardly moved since they were both brought in the day before.
“I had the strangest dream, sweetheart,” said her dad, looking straight into her eyes. “I was in the car. You said ‘Look out!’ Then you gave me a kiss and I knew everything would be OK. Come here, Baby. I want that kiss again.”
“Daddy, you’re scratchy!”
“I haven’t shaved today. Sorry. Can I still have hug?”
“Sure,” said Emily as she hugged her dad for all she was worth.
He played one of his usual games, “I thought you were going to give me a hug. When are you going to start? I don’t feel anything. Do you call that a hug?” the last words strangled off as he finally succumbed to the hug.
Her mother walked into the room, “Hey, can I have some of that, too? I nearly lost both of you!”
Emily ran and hugged her mom.
“I brought some of your stuff from home,” she said to her husband as she put a toilet bag next to the bed.
“The doctors say it looked like I had a crushed skull and a broken neck in three places when that slab of concrete hit the car, but now they think it was just bruising,” said her Dad as Emily clung to him once more. “Does this neck look broken to you? Well, maybe it will be by the time Emily is through!”
Emily relaxed the hold she had on her Dad.
“Well, they said I can take you home tomorrow, probably because they need the bed. You’ll have to take some time off of work, just to make sure you’re OK,” said Emily’s mother. “The construction people have claimed full liability. They’re supposed to stop traffic before they do something like that. They have offered quite a bit of money as a settlement. Not that we need it.”
Emily’s mother finally loses her composure and falls apart, “I nearly lost both of you.” She dissolved into tears. The three came together in a family hug.
[Thank you, so much.]
You might like to know, I just sensed when you touched your mother that she is going to have a baby in June, eight and a half months from now. A female.
“Mom is going to have a baby girl in June!?!” Emily said aloud.
“WHAT?!?” chorused her mother and father together.
“How do you know that?” asked her mother. “I haven’t even missed yet ... though my boobs are a bit sore today. I’ll have to get one of those home-testing kits. How did you even know I was pregnant? How do you know it’s a girl?”
Emily’s dad started to cry, big time, saving Emily having to answer. Now she understood why his thoughts were so much about her when he was dying. Babies are a father’s future. His purpose. His immortality. That’s why dads do the things they do. She hugged her mother and father even tighter and they hugged back.
I also think I have detected another Stone. Would you like to help find it?
[Would I?!? When do we start?]
I think when all this hugging stops.
[That might be quite a while yet.]
You and I are developing a symbiosis.
[Ewww, what’s that?]
We both feel what the other feels, automatically.
[You’re even starting to talk like me.]
That is unavoidable, as you are the one putting words to my thoughts.
Sam, Cat and most of the others sat together in the lunchroom at school the next day. They had hardly said a word when they got back to the Cubby Hole the night before and even less all day at school, so terrified were they of the repercussions of the damage to the Evidence Room.
The last thing Sam expected to see at school was his mother walking across the room towards him, the usual pair of assistants in her wake. Of course, the other kids knew her on sight and were just as shocked.
“Hello, Sam,” said his mother, smiling and handing him a paper bag. “You left in such a hurry this morning you forgot your lunch. Aren’t you going to introduce me to your friends?”
Sam blinked and took control, “Uh … this is Cat and Mike, Tilly, Jason, Heather, Sally, Andy and Jo.”
“I’m really pleased to meet you. Sam, I was thinking, maybe you and your friends would like to have a field trip to the Evidence Room. I didn’t realize it held such a fascination until you were up there last week.” The others were about to explode with tension.
Sam Watson, touch your mother on the arm.
Sam just touched her hand, “That’s really nice of you, Mom. I’ll ask my teacher.”
“Well, I have to get back to the business of running this madhouse!” chuckled Sam’s mother, “Bye, kids.” A chorus of ‘Bye, Mrs. Watsons’ followed. The kids sat as if they had just looked death in the face.
Your mother has no idea of anything that occurred last night. Nobody has reported anything amiss. It seems after we left, everything must have been made correct by my enemy.
[That’s great! We have nothing to worry about!]
On the contrary, Sam Watson. My enemy is now your enemy. It is aware that three Stones are in your possession. You are in great danger.