Forging Forever

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Chapter 18

Nissequogue, New York

August 20, 2015

Catherine disregarded the yellow crime scene tape surrounding the perimeter of the house. She had only a small window of time, maybe two hours if she was lucky, to accomplish her task. Her parents thought she was on her way to the University of South Carolina for freshman orientation. It had taken all her effort to convince them to stay home and let her go by herself. After Annie had disappeared they had stuck to Catherine like glue. It was next to impossible for her to have some personal time. She would have been thrilled by the attention, except every other sentence they said had something to do with Annie. Logically it made sense, but the actions still made Catherine feel like a second class citizen.

She walked around to the back of the house, removing the back door key from its hiding spot. She had put it back there the night that Annie disappeared. She had no desire to implicate herself in Annie’s disappearance. She had not told the police what she had seen for two reasons. The first being that if she told them she had been here then they would immediately suspect her of something. Secondly, the things she had seen made no sense to her. One minute Annie had been there, the next she was gone. The events of that night had been plaguing her ever since. She needed to find answers.

As of now, the police suspected that someone had broken into the house to rob it. Annie’s presence had surprised them, they had attacked her, and left. The two things they had made off with were her grandmother’s jewelry box and the gun her grandfather had left in the study for protection. When they had searched the house they had found her bloody swimsuit in her bathroom. Her book bag along with her phone had been missing. The missing phone had given her parents hope. They tried to track it, but nothing appeared. It was like she had disappeared off the face of the Earth. They did not know about the other person that had been here that night. Catherine had carefully removed all evidence of his presence. She liked the idea of a robbery gone badly. Having someone else there would throw that theory to the wind.

She made it inside the house and began her search. She began in her sister’s room. Her laptop was gone. After they had searched through the contents of it, determining they were of no value, they had returned the computer to her parents. The only thing that had been on there was some article about the Culper Spy Ring and a man named Cameron Michael Evans. Since Annie was an American History major, they had assumed she was just doing some research. Catherine was not so sure.

She searched through her room, finding nothing of consequence. Next she went down to the guest bedroom where Annie’s mystery man had stayed. Catherine had not been surprised that Annie put him in a separate room. The last few years she had been skittish around men. She had no idea why nor did she care. Catherine also suspected that she had desired to preserve her sterling reputation. There was no evidence in the room. Next she made her way down to the study.

Once in the study she booted up her grandfather’s out-of-date desktop. She hated the computer, it was slow. However, it was the only computer left in the house so it would have to do. Once the ancient computer booted up, Catherine hooked up to the internet went to the history tab. Since the house had Wi-Fi, anything Annie had looked at would show up on this computer as well. The history showed various history websites as well as academic journal sites. Catherine looked through them all. They all concerned the Culper Spy Ring and Agent 355. The final site she went to was the academic journal about Cameron Michael Evans and his role in the ring. She read the entire article. It was a Doctoral thesis by a student at Columbia University. It detailed his involvement in the spy ring under the name Daniel Moore. The article declared that everything academia suspected about Agent 355 had been false. It explained his suspected relationship with Agent 355 and his consequent disappearance and assumed death in December of 1780. According to this article he had been killed after being captured by the British on suspicion of spying. Agent 355 had been captured by the British at the same time and died along with Cameron Evans. The evidence the author used was very convincing. A recently discovered journal written by Mary Underhill, one of the members of the Culper ring, was used as evidence of their involvement with not only each other but with the spy ring as well. The journal detailed events starting towards the end of August of 1780 and ceased at the beginning of November of the same year. At the end of the thesis was a portrait of the man they believed to be Cameron Michael Evans. The picture startled and confused Catherine. He looked exactly like the man she had seen with Annie the night of her disappearance.

At the bottom of the thesis was a link to an article that apparently had more information about Agent 355. She clicked on it. As she read, Catherine went sheet white. The article not only gave more detailed information on Agent 355, it also gave her name and personal facts. Catherine stared in shock at the name she saw printed before her, Annie Elizabeth Johnson, her sister. The article used the same journal by Mary Underhill as its source. It described Annie’s appearance perfectly, tall for a woman, brown hair, and hazel eyes. The article also stated that there was no historical record of an Annie Elizabeth Johnson before her spying activities began. All the evidence, no matter how incredible, pointed to her sister being Agent 355.

Catherine shook her head. What she was considering was impossible. There was no such thing as time travel. It was just one huge, improbable coincidence. Surely there were many people throughout history that had the same name as Annie. It’s not like her name was that uncommon. Still, that did not explain either the description in the journal or Annie’s disappearance. She and her mystery man had went into that hidey-hole and vanished. Perhaps there was some sort of trap door or hidden passage in there. But then why would she stay away? She could have used the passage to escape then ran to the authorities. Unless she had seen Catherine’s car as she left. Then her conscience would have been torn between family loyalty and the desire for justice. Maybe that was why she was staying away. Still, Catherine suspected she would have sent at least some word that she was okay.

One thing was certain. The answer to her quandary was in the attic. She turned off the computer and went up to the attic. Despite the brightness of the day, Catherine flipped on the light. She closed the blinds, not wanting anyone to see her digging around here. The house was supposed to be empty. She glanced around the attic, nothing looked out of place. She wandered over to the hidey-hole. Next to it was an antique trunk that she had not noticed before. But then again, she very rarely came up to the attic. She sat down next to the trunk and emptied its contents. They were mostly old, moth eaten clothes. They looked like they had been up here for at least two-hundred years.

Despite the incredulity of all she had just read, Catherine found herself believing the article. It was all the evidence she needed. She had no doubt in her mind that her sister was Agent 355. That meant only one thing, she had to travel to the past to rid herself of her sister.

Catherine crawled over to the hidey-hole, opened the door, and crawled in. She gave one last look at the attic. Should she leave? She still had over three months before Agent 355 was supposed to die. Then again, she could always change history. The sooner she disposed of Annie the sooner she could get back. She would return just in time for classes to start. Quickly she sent a text to her parents, telling them that she needed some space and not to contact her. It was harsh, but not out of character for her. She made sure to insert some profanity that she frequently used when she was angry. They would leave her alone, partially out of respect, and partially out of fear. Catherine could be violent when provoked. Once she saw that the message was sent she closed the door to the hidey-hole and waited.

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