Forging Forever

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Chapter 8

Despite her exhaustion, Annie was unable to sleep. She felt as if her mind consisted of a million different open files that were all clamoring for attention. Needless to say one of the main ones was the man sleeping down the hall from her. Gut instinct told her to believe his story, as outlandish as it sounded. But the scholar in her required more proof. Eager for answers, she pulled out her laptop and accessed the academic journals available to her through school. After an hour she had found no information. Her eyes were drooping with exhaustion. Logic warred with instinct. Logic told her she should sleep, instinct told her to forge on, that she had little time to find the answers she searched for.

Bleary eyed, she wandered down to the kitchen and made herself a pot of coffee then poured herself a cup. She drank the first cup downstairs, loving the feel of the caffeine rushing into her bloodstream. Once the first cup was gone, she poured herself another, effectively emptying the coffee pot, then went back upstairs to continue her search. Around two in the morning, Annie finally found what she was looking for. It was a brief mention of a member of the Culper ring code-named Daniel Moore. The research paper was done by a Doctoral candidate at Columbia. The article detailed the circumstances surrounding the previously unknown spy’s discovery. The author identified the real name of Daniel Moore: none other than Cameron Michael Evans.

Annie was only five pages into the article and already she had found out much more than modern historians had discovered. If this student’s research proved true then the academic world would be turned upside down. Much of what she read was exactly what Cameron had told her during their chat. There were some personal details about Cameron interspersed in the article. Firstly he was born on June 14, 1754 in England. After the death of his mother, he and his father had moved to New York. Cameron had only been two years old. His father, a man named Samuel Evans had established a successful printing business. An interesting tid-bit of information revealed that he was actually suspected of being emotionally involved with Agent 355. Unfortunately the thesis did not give any hint as to who the woman was. Still, it was intriguing to Annie. Most of academia suspected she was involved with Robert Townsend. This new avenue of thought definitely bared further investigation.

Annie was about to turn to the next page when she noticed headlights coming up the drive. She looked at her phone: it was three in the morning. Odd, who could possibly be visiting at this hour? She felt a tight tension unfurl in her stomach. Something was not right. Quickly she turned off the desk lamp, casting the room in darkness. She headed for the door, fully intending to wake Cameron. She was about to turn the handle when she remembered the letters and cipher on her desk. Quickly she picked them up, along with her phone and tablet, and stuffed them into the book bag that laid next to her bed. As silently as possible, Annie snuck out of her room, down the hall, and into Cameron’s room.

Cameron felt a hand covering his mouth. Alarmed, his eyes flew open and he pushed himself off the bed, knocking his assailant to the ground. The sound of the body hitting the ground was accompanied by a muffled humph.

“Dammit Cameron,” Annie whispered as she pushed herself off the floor.

“Annie, I’m sorry. I did not realize it was you,” he apologized in his normal tone.

“Hush,” Annie replied in a whisper, “someone’s in the house. Get dressed. I need you to come with me.”

“Of course.” While Cameron quickly donned his clothes, Annie ducked into his bathroom and pulled out a first aid kit and whatever else was under the sink. She came back into the room and led him out into the hallway. She headed towards the stairway then stopped. He was about to inquire why when he saw a light coming from the bottom floor.

“Well, so much for escaping,” Annie muttered, then turned and headed towards the hallway that led to the attic. She stopped at a door and whispered, “Stay here. I’ll be right back.”

Cameron did as she ordered. He heard the muffled sound of a drawer opening. Annie picked up a few things, then stuffed them into the bag she had been wearing. She did not bother to close the drawer. A minute later she came back into the hallway.

“Okay, let’s go,” she said then went down the hall and into the attic. “I guess we’re about to find out if your hidey-hole really is a time portal.” With that statement she pushed the door open and climbed in. Cameron followed behind then closed the door.

Catherine removed her shoes and tiptoed around the first floor towards the stairway. Clad completely in black, she was all but invisible. She used her flashlight to guide her way, feeling sure that her presence was unknown. Once upstairs, she headed towards her sister’s room. She was surprised to see that the door was wide open. Quietly, she entered the room, only to discover it was empty. Frustrated, she ran out into the hall, wondering where she could have possibly gone. She looked down the hallway and was even more surprised to see another bedroom door open.

Catherine tip-toed down the hall and into the room. It was obvious someone had occupied it. The bed sheets were pulled down and a pair of plaid pajama pants and t-shirt were flung haphazardly on the floor. Catherine went into the adjoining bathroom, hoping to find Annie hiding in there. But the bathroom was empty. Releasing a breath of exasperation, Catherine stepped back out into the hall, wondering where she could have possibly gone. She was about to search every room of the blasted house when she heard the shuffle of footsteps and a breathy whisper coming from the opposite end of the house.

Catherine quickly made her way across the landing by the stairs and to the other side of the house. She rounded the corner just as Annie stepped out of the second floor study. She came to an abrupt halt, shocked to see Annie leading a tall, muscular man along the hallway towards the attic. It took Catherine several moments to gain her composure. Who the hell was that with Annie? Catherine shook her head, clearing her mind. Now was not the time for questions. Now was the time for action. She followed the two up into the attic, chuckling to herself at how stupid her sister was. There was nowhere for her to go. She had just trapped herself and her mystery man.

Catherine smiled as she watched Annie and the man crawl into the hidey-hole at the back of the attic. The man closed the door. No longer caring if her presence was discovered, Catherine started to laugh. “You’ve made this entirely too easy sister. Honestly, you have nowhere to go. Might as well come out now. If you surrender, I promise to make your death quick and painless.”

Catherine’s statement went unanswered. “C’mon Annie. Get your ass out of there,” Catherine bellowed. Still no response. “Fine, you’ve sealed your fate then,” Catherine snarled as she pulled open the door. “I hope you enjoy...” Catherine’s taunt went unfinished. She stared confusedly into the hidey-hole. It was empty.

Kenya, Africa

July 24, 2015

Katelyn Tanner stepped into her tent. She had been carefully digging in the desert for the last five hours. Right now all she craved was a tall glass of water and some sleep. Her muscles ached from the tedious work she had been doing ever since she arrived in Kenya at the beginning of the summer. Despite her constant state of exhaustion, she had never felt more alive in her life. She had jumped at the chance to be a part of making history. The partial remains that they had found buried in the desert definitely had the potential to change the course of human history, and she felt privileged to be a part of the team.

Katelyn pushed aside her excitement for just a moment. She was dangerously close to dehydration. She needed to take care of herself, then she could go back and join the rest of the team in their dig. She sat down on her cot and opened a large bottle of water. As she sipped she noticed the message light blinking on her phone. Curious, she touched the screen and noticed that she had missed a call from Annie. She listened to the short voicemail, asking her to call back when she got a chance. Annie’s voice sounded cheery enough, still, Katelyn had not doubt that she was still in pain. Annie had been very close to her grandparents.

Katelyn looked at the time. It was eleven in the morning, which meant it would be four in the morning back home. Despite the early hour at home, Katelyn dialed Annie’s number. Annie had always been a night person and she had little doubt that she would still be awake. Much to her surprise the phone went straight to voicemail. Perhaps she was asleep. It had no doubt been a long week for her. Katelyn hung up the phone then set it back on her cot. She would call Annie back later. Quickly she finished her bottle of water then left the tent and rejoined her team in the blazing hot sun.

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