Chapter 4: the Library Portal
The next day, in linguistics with Chester, Makoto found her eyelids drooping. It wasn’t exactly essential for her to stay awake anyway. Her grades were just fine. Couldn’t she just nap?
Unfortunately, her friend wasn’t sympathetic towards her need to sleep.
Chester elbowed her in the side.
When Makoto looked up, he slid a note across the table. For a minute she was distracted by the cuff links on his camo button down shirt. ‘Who wears cuff links to college?’ A second later she realized they were his Hutton Compass cuff links, developed in World War II by an MI9 intelligence officer.
Brought back to the present by Chester tapping the note, she squinted at it, trying to get her eyes back into focus. The words ‘there’s blood dripping down your arm’ were written on a piece of orange paper.
With slight panic, Makoto twisted around to see that blood was indeed dripping down her arm. She mopped at it with a tissue from her bag, trying desperately to come up with an explanation. ‘I could tell him I performed an emergency operation on an old woman and saved her life but got blood on me.’
He would believe such an act of heroism, right?
Another note slid into her space. “Did you kill somebody this morning?”
Or maybe he wouldn’t.
Makoto gave him a long, slow look and tugged her sleeve down over her arm. She picked up her pen and scratched back a note. ‘Did you smear blood on my arm?’ It was the lamest comeback in the history of lame comebacks, but she had to say something.
Chester raised an eyebrow and shook his head.
“Remind me to take a shower and amputate my arm.” Makoto wrote. She couldn’t remember cutting herself. And, of course, she couldn’t check it out until someone turned all the lights off.
She tuned back into the lesson just in time to hear the professor read an entire page of War and Peace in German. It took her a long time to realize that she only understood about five sentences of it. ‘I guess I won’t be napping in class anymore.’
Chester wrote another note and pushed it over. “Japansy keeps looking over here like you killed his cat or something.”
Makoto glanced at Tadashi discreetly. She wished she’d killed his cat. Then he’d have a legitimate reason to hate her.
“I have a print-out of the next four pages of War and Peace in German. Please read them and answer the questions based on the passage.” The professor continued, passing out the packets.
Tadashi met her gaze for a second, rolled his eyes, and looked away.
The man had problems. He had a terminal hatred for her and she had no idea why.
Or maybe he was just sharing with her a moment of disbelief that they were expected to do such extensive homework in the middle of the week.
Makoto turned back to Chester indignantly. “I wish I had.” She scribbled.
Chester shook his head and pulled a new piece of paper from his notebook and began to write. “I was looking at that map you emailed me last night and I think I may have found something. Meet me in the library after class.”
Makoto nodded quickly, eager to hear what he had. They were technically field partners, but the times that they actually did a mission together were few and far between. He always had something going on that prevented his joining her on every mission, be it a karate tournament, job/internship, meeting, or consultation.
It was unfortunate that he was so smart, because that meant that not only did everyone need him in a million different places at once, Makoto needed him for their assignments, too.
She tried to focus on the lesson, flipping through her notebook. German words and their definitions filled the pages neatly, with notes written in the margins in Japanese. The words blurred before her eyes, the ink swimming around the page. She blinked forcefully, but it didn’t help. That didn’t really make sense, because she had 20-20 vision.
She rubbed her eyes harshly, which probably made it worse. There was no way in that instant to fix her problem of not being able to see anything. She slammed her notebook shut, dropped her pencil onto her desk, and rested her chin in her palm with resigned irritation.
Hopefully she would be able to take in more of the lecture if she wasn’t so distracted by taking notes.
She prayed for the sudden, miraculous ability of phonographic memory. Maybe she should go to the bookstore and by some of those video recorder glasses and record the lectures so she could study them later.
At the conclusion of the etymology class, as she was packing up her things, she felt someone brush her elbow as they passed her. Hyper sensitive to physical contact (and hyper-repulsed by it), Makoto cringed with all the force of an epileptic seizure.
She glanced up, noticed that it was Tadashi, and then quickly looked back down at her task in the hopes that he would leave her alone. It was bad enough that someone had invaded her personal space. The only thing that could have made it worse was that it just had to be him.
Her vision was still fuzzy and it was starting to freak her out a little bit. The last thing her wits needed was his annoying attitude. She wasn’t sure she could refrain from punching him in the face if he goaded her that far. She couldn’t even say for certain whether or not anyone else would stop her, either.
But, of course, Tadashi turned, watched her for a second, and then said, “So. Gym class.”
He’d no doubt noticed her violent reaction to the physical contact and had probably cemented it in his memory to torture her with later.
Makoto looked up, revulsion marking her features as she recalled the horrible memory of that morning’s gym class. It was no worse than any other day, but that was no consolation considering that every other day was horrible, too.
“Yeah? What about it?” She sniffed, zipping up her backpack so ferociously that one of her zipper tabs snapped off. She growled to herself, holding the broken piece of nylon between her fingers. She spent thirty-seven dollars on that backpack.
Why would the world charge a poor college student nearly forty dollars for a useless backpack? As if backpacks weren’t expected to carry unbelievably heavy textbooks.
A lazy smirk spread over his face and stuck there like a piece of gum on the bottom of her shoe—utterly unappreciated. “I’ve never met anyone who threw up after the first lap every single day.” He could have taunted her in Japanese, but he deliberately spoke English and caught the attention of every student in a ten foot radius.
When her older brother had been around, before he joined the army, he would follow her closely enough to always know when someone was picking on her over her inability to participate entirely in gym class.
As soon as someone, like Tadashi, would make a severely harsh comment on it, he would fly around the corner and make the kid wish he’d never noticed Makoto’s existence in the first place.
Of course, his tendencies to be quick to violence probably contributed in part to Sakuza’s violence. While Takeo would attack someone in another’s defense, Sakuza attacked people for no justifiable reason.
Makoto straightened with an impressively faked smile. “Oh, yeah? You want my autograph?” Not waiting for an answer, she turned and headed for the door, but ran into the next desk.
What was wrong with her eyes—why couldn’t she see?
Makoto rubbed her hip, moaning softly to herself. She heard a quiet chuckle behind her as Tadashi beheld her superior grace and clumsiness. “Shut up.” She muttered graciously.
“So, tell me, is it your purpose in life to fail, or does it just happen?” He asked patronizingly.
Was it his purpose in life to come up with weak insults or was he just petty?
Makoto turned on him, a 5′1 ball of anger and agitation. “Pardon me if I don’t make it a habit to consult my day with my stalker, so excuse me.”
Once again, he spoke before she could leave. “I’d have to be interested to be a stalker.” He returned rudely.
She could have screamed. “Then stop following me everywhere.”
Tadashi shoved past her with a slow roll of his eyes. “Stop wasting my time getting into situations that I need to save you from.”
Makoto would have plowed past him and flown out the door in a haughty gust of pride and irritation had she not been half blind and likely to trip over someone and break her face on the floor. Instead, she lifted her head and called, “Next time you try to pull me out of a self-ignited fire, I’ll use you to douse the flames.”
It was a promise that she intended to keep, too. She didn’t need him rescuing her. She got herself into those messes, she could very easily get herself out. Or, if not very easily, then she could figure out how.
It’s not like she lacked mental capacity simply because she was female. Just because Tadashi might be superior in strength didn’t mean he was the only person in the world who could get her out of a sticky situation.
And she never asked for his help.
Why did he treat her like such a burden when she would be just as happy to wipe her own existence from his memory?
Men. What strange creatures.
Still, she wished Takeo were there.
When she reached the library, Chester immediately revealed himself and dragged her back until they were surrounded merely by books and not a single person.
“Where were you? Class was over like ten minutes ago.” He hissed, reaching into his pocket and staring at her weirdly as she swayed dizzily.
“Got cornered by Kido. He wanted to let me know that he was impressed by my ability to consistently throw up after pathetically meager exercise every single day.” She muttered, unable to stop the shame she felt for being incapable of a quarter-mile run.
Chester stilled, his hand still in his pocket. “Stay here.” He moved around her, but stopped when she caught his arm.
“Where are you going?” She asked suspiciously.
He didn’t look back at her. “To talk to the Japansy. Gimme twenty minutes, I’ll have to drive him to the hospital, too. Common decency.” He pulled his arm from her grasp and plowed onward.
Makoto bolted after him, sliding around in front of him and blocking his path. It was a pathetic attempt—he was a foot and two inches taller than her. He probably didn’t even see her until she punched him in the chest to get his attention.
It was funny, because before she met Chester, the tallest person she’d ever met was Takeo, who was 5′10.
“Don’t waste your time on him, he’s not worth it. We have to finish this case.” She gave him a serious glare that he pointedly ignored.
Chester’s hands clenched into fists.
“Hey.” Makoto grabbed his wrist and shook it until he let his fingers fall free of their grip. “If we don’t finish this case soon, I’ll have to take Oregon State History all over again.” She gripped his hand. “Please, Chess, can we get to work? Please?” She was pleading, begging, but she didn’t care.
She would have been happy to let him take a swing at Tadashi, but they really needed to get focused. The case was taking entirely too long.
He sighed, finally meeting her eyes. “Fine. But I will kill him.”
“Fine. Go ahead. You’ll get no argument from me. But after the conclusion of this case, please?” Makoto nodded back to where they had been previously standing.
Chester nodded resentfully. “Yeah.” He pulled a piece of paper from his pocket, continuing his earlier mission. “So I was looking at this for hours, and I was five seconds away from throwing it in the fire place and being done with it forever, when I realized something.”
It was the copy of the map that Makoto had given him. “So you were here, where Heilner’s ship was stationed for public access, right?” He pointed at Memorial Peak.
Makoto nodded. “Yeah, why?”
“Did you notice any signs anywhere that would indicate that it was called “Memorial Peak Shipwreck Shore?”
Makoto gave Chester a long, bemused look. “That’s not a sentence, Chess.”
He pointed at the map again. “Look, Makoto. Right beneath Memorial Peak it says Shipwreck Shore, like they were all the same name. See? Look at it.” He shoved it under her nose.
She ripped it out of his hands in annoyance. “Chester, you know I can’t see that.” She snapped. Except that he didn’t know.
Confusion mottled his features. “What? What do you mean you can’t see it? You have perfect vision.” He frowned at her analytically.
Makoto rubbed her eyes. “Not today, not right now. I’ll take your word for it, though—it says Shipwreck Shore right underneath Memorial Peak. And no, I didn’t see a sign like that anywhere. Why? What’s your point?”
Chester smiled at her, briefly forgetting her admission to weirdness with her vision. “Consider my earlier statement ‘right beneath Memorial Peak it says Shipwreck Shore.’ Getting it now?”
Her eyes widened in understanding.
“Because Memorial Peak is on a cliff, right?” Chester started with a grin.
Makoto nodded dumbly, her mind piecing together the new information with eagerness.
“And when you make a museum out of a historical artifact, you don’t move it very far from its original resting place for the sake of historical accuracy, right?” He shook the map at her.
“Exactly.” She murmured, whipping her phone out of her pocket and typing in her password. With a groan of frustration she typed it in four more times before she got it right.
Why couldn’t she see anything?
She’d shoot her own eyes if that wouldn’t make it worse.
“And the tide has never been high enough to sail a boat all the way up to that peak, right?” He leaned back against a bookshelf with a self-satisfied grin.
“Not as far as I know.” Makoto threw her phone at him. “Please research it and read what comes up. I can’t read the stupid thing.”
He caught the phone with one hand. “So, Makoto, my phenomenal theory is that Shipwreck Shore is placed exactly as it is on the map. I believe your next clue might be underneath Memorial Peak.”
Makoto crossed her arms. “Yes, yes, so I’ve gathered, thank you. What does it say?” Her eyes actually started itching. Was that normal? ‘Are eyes supposed to itch?’
Chester scrolled through the results for a few seconds before grinning at her. “I was right. The ship was run aground beneath the cliffs of Memorial Peak, and most of the wreckage had drifted into a cavern within the stone wall. Every salvageable piece of the wreckage was gathered and put on display on Memorial Peak, but explorers frequently find artifacts that are suspected to be remnants of the last voyage of Angelika Heilner.”
Makoto punched him in the arm excitedly. “Back to the West side, then, huh? Wanna go scuba diving with me?” She couldn’t help it—she pumped her fist and did a little excited dance.
Suddenly, a plume of red vapor exploded into existence right next to her.
Makoto gasped, the breath knocked from her body as Chester plowed into her, tackling her to the ground. “Stay down and don’t move.” He hissed, covering her tiny form with his body.
Suddenly, an enormously heavy pounding sounded right next to her head. She tried to look up, but Chester held her down and covered her mouth.
She stilled, silencing her tongue and listening searchingly as heavy footsteps pounded away from them. What was going on? What was the red stuff? Why had Chester tackled her with such confidence of what the heavy-footed visitor had to offer?
Who was the heavy-footed visitor?
What was going on?
Chester suddenly shot upright. He pulled her to her feet and drug a bookshelf ladder closer to her. “Climb up and wait on top of the bookshelf. Do not come down until I tell you to.” He ordered seriously.
“What—Chess, why? What is going on?”
“Makoto.” He barked ferociously. “Get up there or I’ll drag you up myself.” The words were a growl, his eyes a dark promise to make good on his threat.
Makoto shrank back and scurried up the ladder as ordered. He had never screamed at her like that. He had never taken that level of urgency or authority.
Something was definitely happening.
And it wasn’t at all good.
As she climbed on top of the heavy oaken bookshelf, Chester spun away from the plume of red vapor and pulled his cell phone out of his pocket, dialing as he ran.
Makoto watched him cross the library at a sprint, and then flinched as screams came from the front of the building.
It was too much like when Takeo was home. When he’d have a bone to pick with someone, he’d find a place for her to take cover, and he’d make her sit there. “Wait here,” he’d say. “Don’t come after me, no matter what you hear. If anyone calls you, don’t come out. Stay hidden.”
And then he’d run off and various sounds of violence would follow. As a fourteen or fifteen-year-old, living under the protection of her older brother, Makoto had adored him too much to care that he was obviously mixed up in the wrong crowd.
He was the only one who looked out for her. He was the one who took care of her when she was sick. He was the only one who was ready with open arms and a box of tissues when she had a bad day.
As long as he continued to be that kind of brother to her, she didn’t care what he did outside of the home. If she pushed him away because of it, she’d be alone. How could she push him away?
Horrible growling and snarling sounded, and her interest rose. She sat up straighter, looking earnestly over the other bookshelves to try to see what in the world was going on.
Who was growling? Who was screaming? What was that thing and where did it come from? What did it have to do with the—but when Makoto looked back at the crimson vapor, it was gone.
Surely the weird smoke had nothing to do with the appearance of the mysterious heavy-footed visitor?
All of Makoto’s powers of deduction were summoned to the forefront of her mind in order to set in place the logic that must follow what was happening, but she gleaned absolutely nothing from supposition.
She heard Chester hollering, probably into his phone. “No!” He snapped, and then there was a crash. “Make it faster.”
Makoto groaned in annoyance as her continued staring provided no better view than that of the tops of a few dusty bookshelves.
She reached out and stretched her body very carefully across the space between two shelves until she was gripping the top of the one closes to her.
It’s just like the high bar in gym class. She told herself. It wasn’t, really, and she wasn’t very good at that one, easier, but it made it easier to think about.
She let her legs fall over the side and swung her across the expanse. At the last second she lifted her feet and landed straddling the new bookshelf. It swayed and wobbled under the sudden addition of her weight, but she dropped flat on her stomach, spreading her weight evenly to assist in lowering the shelf’s center of gravity.
There was another scream, and then Chester shouting. “Go, run now—I’ll distract it!”
So it was an it?
Makoto’s curiosity was only strengthened.
As was her sudden thirst.
She just realized that her vision had cleared slightly, but dryness scratched at the back of her throat and her tongue felt thick.
Makoto ignored her thirst and swung over to another bookshelf, and another, until she could see the front desk and the librarian that was cowering behind it.
Chester was in front of the door, locking it and barricading it with a small sofa. Across the room, caught in a strange, wired net was—no.
Makoto rubbed her eyes in shock.
She looked again. No, it was still there, just as she had beheld it the first time. It was...could it be? It was a dinosaur. A small, scaled, reptilian monster, fighting to be free from his snare.
“Chess...?” She started weakly, catching his attention. His gaze flew upward, finding her hanging over the edge of a bookshelf, eyes as wide as saucers. “Chess, what is that thing? Where did it come from?”
He groaned, shoulders slumping. “I’ll tell you later, Makoto.” He promised, his voice resigned. “Just stay up there.”
But the dinosaur’s talons were unbelievably sharp, and it only took an accidental slicing of the wire for it to figure out that he had made a way of escape.
Thrashing with his talons once more, the dinosaur did away with the net and flew across the room at Chester.
“Chess—” Makoto started in a gasp, but then a tiny woman with blonde hair plowed into the beast from the side, completely knocking it off balance and throwing it to the ground.
Faster than lightning, the little blonde wrapped her arms around the dino’s neck and squeezed so tightly that he could no longer reach to slice at her with his razor sharp teeth.
Just when Makoto began to wonder if she were trying to knock him out with a choke hold, a sharp hiss sounded and then the dinosaur grunted and fell slack in her arms.
It was the strangest, most fantastic thing Makoto had ever seen.
The blonde crawled to her feet, her hand dragging fondly across the neck of the creatures.
“Tess, how many times?” Chester practically squeaked, his hands gripping his temples anxiously.
She straightened and widened her eyes innocently. “What are you talking about, Chester?” She had a playful voice that went very well with her boldness to rush into the arms of danger.
“Try swan diving into the mouth of the dino next time.” A deeper voice suggested sarcastically, causing Makoto to turn her gaze to the door where three young men had joined them in the library.
All three of them were armed and armored, clearly well-prepared for dealing with dinosaur infestations.
Makoto swung herself down and landed lightly on her fight, drawing everyone’s attention. “What—in the world—is going on?” She demanded haltingly, glaring at all of them before her gaze fell on the dinosaur.
Tess’s eyes were alive with mirth and she nodded to the Asian girl. “Come here.” She beckoned, backing toward the dinosaur.
Makoto felt no fear as she followed the girl and found herself crouching next to it, smoothing her hand across the scaly, leathery surface of his skin.
“This is a velociraptor.” Tess said, skating her fingertips across the creature’s forehead between his eyes.
“I know what it is.” Makoto snapped. She backpedaled quickly. “I mean—I know what it looks like. It isn’t...really...is it?” She looked up at Chester for confirmation.
He knelt down next to her. “Yeah, he’s real. He came through that portal that appeared next to you.” He explained, not even looking at the raptor. His eyes were locked on her, judging her reaction.
In his defense, the last time she had been violently surprised by something, she had gone into shock and blacked out for two hours.
“That red thing? That’s a portal? To where?” Makoto’s eyes flew from Chester to the woman they called Tess. “Yeah, it’s a portal—or a gateway—to another dimension. Right now we’re calling it Dimension X. We’ve only been through a couple of times. One time it was an accident because the brains, here,” She gestured to a tall black haired guy. “Tripped and fell through and we had to rescue him.”
The guy in question shrugged sheepishly. “What can I say, I’m a clumsy guy.”
Makoto stood up shakily, backing away from the raptor. She turned her gaze on Chester. “And your involvement in this?” She had no plans of alienating him because of whatever secret he had been hiding from her.
It’s not like she hadn’t been hiding from him the fact that she could conceal any level of physical injury.
Chester stood and crossed over to stand with the three guys who had hung back for the sake of not smothering Makoto in her delicate state of discovery.
“I’m in the army, part of a special taskforce. This is Jett Delta—he’s Tess’s brother.” He pointed to the clumsy guy who had fallen through the wormhole.
“I’m not in the army, by the way, I just go along with them.” Tess added, joining them.
Chester continued his introductions, ignoring Tess’s interruption. He pointed to a man with brown hair and blue eyes. “This is Braden Ratchet, and this,” He gestured to the last guy, a black haired, skeptical looking man. “Is Sebastian. We have one more, but he’s not here right now.”
Makoto smiled briefly, but let her gaze rest on Chester, not very comfortable with letting her vulnerability be witnessed by four strangers.
“So you’re in the army...”
“And there are five of you are in a special taskforce...and she is an unofficial member...”
“She’s an official member, she’s just not in the army, but yes.”
“And your mission is to...kill dinosaurs?” She closed her eyes, not believing the words were actually leaving her mouth.
“Not kill them, no.” Chester gestured to the raptor that lay on the floor behind Makoto. “He’s not dead. Our mission is to return them to their dimension.”
Makoto rubbed her throat, still feeling extremely thirsty. “So you follow dinosaur sightings, get people out of harm’s way, and push the dinosaur back through the portals? How do you keep other dinosaurs from coming through? How long do the portals stay open? How do you find the portals?”
Jett laughed at her. “I’m not sure if this is you taking it really well or you in shock, but you ask a lot of questions.”
Makoto gave him a withering glare. “There is a raptor in the library floor.” She said slowly. “I’m going to ask some questions. And so is she.” She nodded over her shoulder to the librarian who was still staring in shock from her hiding place behind the front desk.
“Shoot...” Jett muttered.
Sebastian slapped him on the back. “Go deal with the traumatized citizen, would you, Jett?” He suggested brightly, clearly happy to put Jet through a bit of suffering.
Jett sighed in irritation and stalked off to ease the librarian’s fears.
“We have a lot of top secret equipment and resources that allow us to do our job with little issue when it comes to all of your questions, but we can’t answer in detail because it is—”
“Top secret?” Makoto finished.
“Yeah. I’m really sorry, Makoto.” Chester apologized, looking guilty.
She shrugged. “To be honest, I really don’t care. The only thing that makes finding out that there’s a portal that lets dinosaurs cross from dimension to dimension better is finding out that there is a government-operated task force designed to keep people safe from that specific threat.”
Chester looked taken aback. “Wait, you really don’t care? How do you...not care that I’ve been keeping something this huge from you? I’m...I’m kind of your only friend...” He finished with a slight laugh, and Makoto punched him in the shoulder.
“It’s not like it was your secret to divulge at your earliest opportunity. Just keep me from getting eaten and you can keep just about anything from me.” Makoto paused and then frowned at him. “Almost anything.”
She turned and headed for the door. She would tell him about her weird ability—trade secret for secret, as it were—but not while there were five extra pairs of ears, not including the dinosaur.
The world was a weird place.
“Where are you going?” Chester demanded, surprised at her sudden departure.
“Shipwreck Shore.” Makoto responded simply. “After I get some water.” She rubbed her throat again and winced.
“Wait, hold on, do you want me to come with you? Makoto, give me a second and I’ll be right there—” Chester offered, nearly tripping over the raptor in his haste to get to his backpack. He glanced back at his friends, gesturing at the dinosaur. “You guys got this, right? You cool if I—”
“Chess.” Makoto shook her head with a light shrug. “Don’t worry about it. I’m just going to look around, take a few pictures. I’ll see you later.”
“Are you sure? Really, it’s okay—I can go with you.” Chester looked unsure.
It was warranted concern, of course. She did have a habit of falling into the arms of people who definitely weren’t looking out for her best interests.
He also looked worried that maybe she was mad at him and was therefore punishing him by making him stay behind.
“Yeah, Chess, I’m good. Thanks.” Makoto turned and left the library, gripping her backpack tightly. She wasn’t mad at him. She honestly did not care that he had hid the fact that he was an army dinosaur wrangler from her. She didn’t care.
She just...needed some time to herself.
While she had handled it well in front of all of them, she needed time to truly process it. If she didn’t think about it, she’d probably have a breakdown.
There was no run-in with Ronin and Hybrid on that particular road trip to the West side. She was grateful, because it gave her the opportunity to have nearly an hour to herself and figure out how she was going to explain her absence to Hiroshida and Sakuza.
Takeo would have understood. He would have covered for her and protected her from their wrath once she got home. She would remain safe, and he would take the heat from the other two.
Maybe it was better that he left. She could understand why. He got tired of fighting her battles and taking her injuries. She’d rather him fight his own battles and not have to worry about her, anyway.
No matter how much she missed him.
She pulled into the parking lot at Memorial Peak, the night guard from last time suddenly coming to mind. She looked around her car, hoping beyond hope that he wouldn’t be there that night.
Or at least that he would be out of her way.
She pulled out her phone and opened up her messages with Hiroshida.
Working on a case. I shouldn’t be home too late. - AM
While she knew that he was passionately against her working cases, Makoto knew that facing his wrath over the truth would be just as bad as facing his wrath over a lie. Either way, she was almost certain that things would go horribly and she would end up getting into trouble.
She left her phone and jacket in the car and pulled a pair of boots and sweatshirt over her diving suit. She wasn’t exactly sure how deep the water would be in the cavern, but she was pretty sure she’d be doing some swimming.
Grabbing her flashlight, her camera, the map that she had laminated for this purpose, and her hot knife, Makoto left the car and locked it. She felt a chill run down her spine as she crossed the parking lot and trekked through the weeds until she reached the edge of the cliff.
As the sun set, she peered over the side and down to the ocean. There weren’t many rocks visible, and she didn’t see any caves in the wall.
Right underneath Memorial Peak—that’s what Chester said, right? She pulled her sweater tighter across her shoulders and hiked farther up the hill, periodically looking below in search of a cave.
Finally, when Heilner’s ship was in view ahead of her, Makoto looked down over the water and there, at least thirty feet down, was a dark, cavernous opening in the rock wall.
She stopped eagerly and began searching for a way down.
After further inspection, Makoto found an incline that wasn’t too steep to hike down without falling head over heels and dying before she got a chance to investigate the crash site.
By the time she got down to sea level, she had to click her flashlight on. She peeled off her sweatshirt and stepped into the water, shivering as it lapped over her knees.
The tide was easy and the waves were gentle, making her fears of being overtaken by the strength of the water disappear. She was confident that she wouldn’t be swept out into the ocean.
As she waded closer to the cave, the water grew deeper. When she reached the mouth, she found herself standing on a rock shelf. When she knelt and dipped her flashlight in the water, she could see that it was deep enough to be above her head by feet.
The curse of being a midget.
Chester probably could have waded through just fine.
She should have brought him along and made him freeze himself to death.
She probably should have been thinking about being in deep water at night, or perhaps what kind of sea creatures she might run into, or perhaps what kind of human threats she might encounter at the wreckage of a famous legend, but all she could think about was having to walk back to her car with wet hair.
She hated wet hair.
She didn’t care if she was already wet—water dripping down her back was just horrible.
Makoto realized that she probably should have waited until morning and found an oxygen tank.
Oh, well. Too late now.
She took a deep breath and stepped off the shelf.