A thin ribbon of sunlight slid in through coarse tartan curtains, painted a bright line along a pale blue carpet pile, highlighted a nearly faded coffee stain, and finally ascended the foot of a sofa to land on a solitary eyelid straining to remain closed. Adam stirred to life, yawning and stretching his arms. He abruptly fell off the edge of the sofa, having forgotten where he was, and landed on his shoulder with a thud.
It all came back to him in a flash.
The Great Adventure of the River Slope Mine.
Adam rubbed his shoulder, and as he regained his bearings, his hands, back and legs painfully reminded him of other details of the previous day's escapade. Grumblings from his two roommates, both of which were snugly ensconced under the covers of a full sized bed, reached his ears through the stale motel room air.
"What time is it?" rasped Hedda.
"Time to get moving," replied Linda. She quickly sprung out of bed and in a blur of movement launched herself into the bathroom.
Within the hour the trio sat a discrete corner table of the Starlight Motel restaurant. One by one they arrived from the sparse buffet replete with all the trimmings of a full continental breakfast—stale coffee, yesterday's doughnuts, rock hard dinner rolls and freshly reconstituted orange juice. After a late night check-in with no dinner, they delighted in the morning repast. To the bewilderment of the motel manager, who looked on from behind his hallway counter, they indulged themselves with seconds and thirds.
"So what's your take on what happened yesterday?" Adam asked the two across the table.
Linda's mouth puckered as she swallowed the orange drink. "Clearly, your artifact has captured the attention of some interesting characters."
"Intrestin' nothin'," Hedda snarled while biting down on her marmalade smothered toast. "Herman is a ruthless bastard. For some reason he wants that medallion o' yours, and you can bet he ain't gonna stop 'til he gets it."
Adam replied, "It does look that way. Maybe it has something to do with the other pieces he found in the mine."
"Found?" Hedda replied. "T'was my husband found them relics. Herman took what was none 'o his business. For Christ's sake, who knows what he did down there. The mine flooded the next morning."
Adam asked, "Are you suggesting it's more than coincidence … you know, finding those relics and the flood?"
"It wouldn't surprise me." Hedda sipped at her coffee and added, "He'd stop at nothin' to get his way, and he'd be the kind 'o asshole that'd jeopardize others' lives without givin' it a thought."
Linda said, "Then he may have a number of the other parts. Maybe they all go together in some way. Just look at the fit between your piece and Adam's disk. He could be trying to rebuild whatever this thing was."
Adam said, "Yeah, whatever it was, so many millions of years ago."
Dazed. Herman was dazed. He sipped his morning tea and placed it back on the serving tray propped up on his lap. His maid tucked up the pillows behind his head, and straightened out the blankets at the foot of the bed before she slipped out of the heavily draped bedroom. She was almost invisible in the wan indirect lighting of night table reading lamp. Herman methodically spread a wad of butter substitute on the single scone before him, and returned it to its plate intact, and stared into the gloomy interior of his bedroom.
Mumbling to himself, he proceeded to mentally outline the previous evening's events as if attempting to discover what exactly went wrong.
The two hired men turned out to be useless. One had gotten lost in the breaker, while the other idiot, still wearing a policeman's uniform, was unable to find a way down from the upper floors … like some foolish cat ascending a tree without considering how to get back down.
Then there was his own mistake. He underestimated that Linda woman. And Dr. Adam Dove … clearly a very resourceful man who managed to evade pursuit, hide the artifact, and make a clean getaway. The next time, and there would definitely be a next time, nothing would be left to chance.
Back in the motel room, Adam had connected his laptop to the internet link at the writing desk, and was busy typing at the keyboard, while the women finished packing. Linda zipped up her overnight bag and looked over Adam's shoulder. "Hey. What's that? It looks familiar."
Adam stopped typing to point at a corner of the screen. "It's the percentage of the DNA analyzed so far."
"That's what you're doing? Running the DNA analysis?"
" Seventy-five percent done."
Linda placed both hands on her hips, having trouble deciding whether to be annoyed or impressed. "And, what have you found out so far?"
"It's still too early to say much, since the correlation analyses really need to assimilate all the data before we can make any conclusions."
"There does seem to be one interesting trend. There are parts of this so-called nonsense DNA which might be referring to other parts of the sequence."
"And what does that mean?"
"Like I said … too early to tell."
Hedda asked, "Do you want this? She pulled out Herman's Luger from her jacket and held it out. "I got not use for this."
Adam said, "I'll take it. Maybe we'll give it back to Herman, and then, maybe not." He pocketed the weapon, and his cell phone rang. He gave himself a mental pat on the back for remembering to charge it last night. He tucked the pistol into his laptop bag and flipped open the phone. "George!"
Linda and Hedda finished packing and sat at the foot of the bed as Adam spent the next few minutes in an animated conversation with his colleague, wandering from one end of the room to the other while relating the events of the past twenty-four hours.
When he ended the call, he looked at the seated duo, but before he could say a word, Hedda stood. "Listen you two. I'm too old for this kind 'o runnin' around. I'd be thankful if you could drop me off at the museum. Ben is likely lookin' for us and I expect he'll find his way there eventually. Here, ya might as well have this too."
She offered up her artifact. "It's done me no good and since Herman clearly wants it, I'd rather be rid of it than have it fall into his hands. Besides, it and your medallion seem to have a match. Just let an old lady get back to her life. If Herman has the gall to show up askin' for it, well then, I'll have the pleasure of lettin' him know you have it."
She finished the last remark with a smile and patted Adam on his back.
Linda looked back at Hedda and waved as they dropped her off at the museum. She asked Adam, "Well, where to? Are we going back to Schill?"
"We could do that … if that's what you want. But …"
"Okay. So what's up? Something you and George came up with?"
"Well, yes. That is … George has been thinking about the medallion's composition, and I guess, that goes for me too. As you know, his analysis indicated that the medallion contains tiny bits of carbon-13. He suggested we get a closer look. He feels that the carbon-13 may provide further insight into the medallion's purpose."
"And, I suppose he also suggested where we could go to get that look?"
"Yup. But there's no reason you need to tag along. It might be best if I take you back to the university."
"Are you kidding? I'm way too curious now. There's no hurry to get back. Where exactly are you headed?"
Adam considered arguing with her, but found himself unexpectedly pleased. She was beginning to interest him on more than just one level.
"Okay then. We're headed out to Long Island. To the Brookhaven National Laboratory."
"Isn't that where they smash atoms with cyclotrons?"
"Among other things."