Legends of Amacia: Mysteries of Tiamat

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Danger Realized

Harry arrived back at Hannibal’s house forty-five minutes after leaving, speeding up the driveway. Mary appeared visibly upset and injured as Harry helped her entered the house. Hannibal, Selina, and Dennis were sitting in the living room as Harry brought Mary in. Hannibal watched them come in and noticed Mary’s expression and badly bruised face and arms with cuts on the cheeks. Her tan blouse and blue denim skirt were rumpled, smeared with blood and dirt, and ripped in several places on her arm and torso. “Oh god no, this is not good,” Hannibal cried with great alarm as he rushed to her. “What on earth happened?”

Tears streamed down Mary’s cheeks; she was unable to speak as Harry and Hannibal gently helped her to the sofa so she could sit down. Hannibal looked at Harry, seeing his face a complex of anger and grief. “It was a home invasion. Someone broke in the house while I was gone and attacked her,” Harry snarled. “Apparently the house was being watched and they waited until I was gone to do it. I got there and found the front door broken off its hinges and Mary tied to a dining room chair with a gag in her mouth. They beat her unmercifully and ransacked the house. My study was torn apart. They were looking for something. They had better hope I don’t find them. If I ever find the guys that did this, I’ll tear them apart!”

Hannibal knelt down in front of Mary, holding her hands as Selina put an arm around her. Dennis looked at his mother with shock and tears welling up in his eyes. Mary looked up at Hannibal and bawled as he embraced her. “It’s all right. You’re safe now,” Hannibal cooed.

“I don’t understand!” Mary bawled. “They never told be what they were looking for or why they were there. They just broke the door down and came after me! I couldn’t even get to the phone to call for help!”

Hannibal glanced at Harry. Rage filled his features. “I’ll get whoever did this!” Harry roared. “They are so dead!”

“Selina, see to her,” Hannibal ordered as he got up. Selina rose and retrieved a first-aid kit and an ice pack from the kitchen. Righteous anger welled up in Hannibal’s soul and it spilled out onto his face. It contorted in righteous indignation. “This is a message. Did they take anything?” Hannibal asked Harry pointedly.

“Yes,” Harry replied with a growl. “They ransacked the house and took my computer.”

Hannibal’s face fell slightly. “Tell me you erased those pictures off your computer,” he asked, almost pleading.

Harry gazed at Hannibal intently through his anger and a sinister smile crossed his lips. “They aren’t going to get anything off that thing,” he hissed. “The night I printed the pictures, something told me to wipe out everything that had to do with you. Then I went and infected it with a virus that would completely corrupt the system in ten seconds if anyone but me tried to access the computer whether it was from my terminal or remotely if they didn’t know the startup protocol and password. Any remote network contact with my system would infect and crash the remote system before they realize what they’d hooked into.”

“You surprise me, Harry,” Hannibal replied. “How’d you get your mitts on such a nasty virus?”

“It was something I came across a couple years ago with that big hacker bust we made,” Harry stated, his anger on a slow boil. “I interrogated the hacker before the government goons took over the case and killed him. Apparently, he hacked into not just the banking system, but also the government’s secret intelligence network, found some very disturbing information about the government’s activities he wasn’t supposed to see, and downloaded everything he could before they shut him down. Our department got the call to raid the kid’s home and hold him until the feds could show up and take over. No interrogation was to take place. All we had to do was hold him. So, we arrested him and held him at his house until the goon squad showed up. But I smelled a rat and so did the rest of my team. We decided that I alone needed to talk to the kid before the feds showed up since I was the senior officer. While my partner and the rest of the team secured the house, I informed him of his rights and spoke to him about why he was being arrested. The boy wasn’t more than eighteen, but understood why we were there and feared for his life. He didn’t fear us, but the feds, whom he insisted were going to kill him for hacking into their black operations network. He admitted the hacking and warned me not to trust the feds. Then he told me about the government secretly spying on its citizens electronically so it could find any malcontents.

“For some reason I don’t quite understand, he gave me a flash drive with the virus of his own creation that would protect any computer from government intrusion and confiscation. He then told me how to install it and where he’d stashed the information in cyberspace. It was information that was apparently so hot the government would kill anyone who’d seen it without authorization. My cop instinct told me something much more sinister was going on, so I didn’t report what he said or hand over the flash drive. That kid never left that house. I heard multiple gunshots as the government goons chased my squad and me from the house after they took over. The official report is the hacker committed suicide rather than be taken. The thing is my team and I searched that residence from top to bottom and found no guns at all on in the house. How could he shoot himself multiple times when he never owned a gun, much less do it with his hands cuffed behind his back? I personally snapped the cuffs on him. My team and I were interrogated by the feds for several days after the incident, but none of us said anything beyond what the official report was, especially when we found out the agents were intelligence operatives. That flash drive has sat in my safe for two years until the other night when I decided to use it after purging everything about you from the hard drive.”

“I remember that incident,” Hannibal stated soberly. “Seems you got caught in a really pickle that day. And I can’t help but think that this incident may have something to do with this attack on Mary. Your exposure to the hacker before they could show up may have caused them to flag you as a potential threat when you didn’t tell them what the boy said. You said you finally utilized the virus the other night?”

“Yeah,” Harry growled. “I did. Once I installed it, I put the flash drive back in the safe. I hope that virus contaminates every system they have when they try to hook my computer into their network. They’re going to rue messing with me and laying their hands on Mary.”

“That was a good move,” Hannibal replied with a raised eyebrow, “and very clever. They’ll never get anything off your computer now and hopefully, it’ll damage their other systems too. What about the hard copies you had of the pictures. What of them?”

“We cut a break there. They didn’t find the safe. That’s where I put all that stuff. I retrieved all that material, including the flash drive with the virus and scarab and brought it. They’ll never get it now,” Harry answered venomously.

“This is getting serious,” Hannibal stated. “Now I know the decision to bring you to Tiamat is the right one. We’re going to have to move immediately. They’ve shown their hand. This is a warning to us. I just didn’t think they would move so quickly or boldly.” He turned back to Mary and sat down on his haunches in front of her. Selina had dressed her cuts and given the ice-pack to her. Mary held the ice-pack on the side of her face, which was swollen from the beating. Hannibal looked her in the eye and said with utter sincerity, “I’m truly sorry that this happened to you. It wasn’t anything you did. They did what they did in order to get to me.”

Mary gazed into Hannibal’s eyes; her pain reflected in the grimace on her face. “I guess I should thank you for sending Harry back when you did,” she said with a mix of bitterness and gratitude. “Otherwise, who knows what they would have done or how long I would have been there. I want to blame you for this but I just can’t stay mad at you after all that you’ve done for us.”

“That’s fair enough,” Hannibal conceded. “In a way, it is my fault because of what I let you in on. Maybe if I hadn’t, you might not have been attacked. On the other hand, maybe not…did they ask you anything at all?”

“No, not that I can remember,” she replied, shaking her head no slowly. “All they did was beat the daylights out of me and tie me up. I thought for sure they were going to rape me but they didn’t. For that I’m thankful.”

“Did you see their faces?” Hannibal queried again.

“No,” Mary replied softly, still upset and hurt by the experience. “They were wearing ski masks.”

“I think that’s enough questions for now,” Selina said sternly.

Hannibal nodded. “You just lie down and rest for now,” he said softly to Mary. “We’ll talk later when you’re feeling better.” Just as he finished speaking, they heard the rumble of a truck outside. “This is not good timing,” Hannibal growled. “Come Harry, we’ve got work to do.”

Harry’s anger subsided to a slow simmer as he followed Hannibal out the door. Selina slid down to the end of the sofa and helped to lay Mary down, carefully laying her head on her lap. She gently stroked Mary’s hair, purring softly in an effort to calm her down. Dennis stayed right there beside them. Selina’s purring helped to calm Mary’s shattered nerves and she slowly relaxed, drifting off to sleep in the matter of ten minutes. After Mary had been asleep for about five minutes, Dennis asked Selina in a troubled tone, “Mom’s going to be all right, isn’t she?”

Selina looked at Dennis compassionately. “Yes, Dennis,” Selina replied. “She’s going to be all right. She just needs a little rest.” She noticed that Dennis was starting to cry. “Come here, little one,” she said extending her other arm. Dennis moved to her and cried softly on her shoulder. Selina put her arm around him and consoled him. “It’s going to be all right. You’ll see,” she purred, letting Dennis sit on the sofa arm. There she sat, watching over the two of them as Hannibal and Harry unloaded the trucks. Over the next hour and a half, Selina heard the first truck leave and the other trucks come and go along with the roar of the forklift. The radio continued to echo softly through the house. The preacher preached the mercy of Christ as she purred to keep Mary relaxed. Dennis stopped crying and sat silently next to Selina, keeping eye on his mother. Selina started to drift off to sleep when she suddenly noticed a lack of noise coming from outside.

Selina shook herself to alertness as the front door opened and Hannibal and Harry came in. “Shhh!” she warned as they came in. Both of them walked to the sofa where Mary lay with her head on Selina’s lap, sound asleep.

“How is she?” Hannibal asked softly as Harry knelt down next to the sofa.

“She’s going to be all right. She’s sleeping right now,” Selina purred.

Hannibal looked at Selina with intrigue. “You put her to sleep?” he asked.

“It’s one of the things I can do,” Selina stated. “My purr is very soothing and relaxing; a natural sedative in a way. I figured some sleep would help this situation.”

“Astonishing…I didn’t know you could have that effect on people,” Hannibal replied in an impressed tone.

“Do you have a bed handy?” Harry asked as he gazed empathetically at Mary sound asleep in Selina’s lap.

“Yes, there’s one upstairs,” Hannibal said. “You want to move her up there?”

“Help me pick her up,” Harry ordered Selina, who gradually raised Mary’s shoulders and head so Harry could pick her up. He put his arms around Mary and gently lifted her off the sofa. Mary slowly shifted position as Harry picked her up. “Show me the room,” Harry ordered.

“Follow me,” Hannibal murmured, leading Harry upstairs to his bedroom. Selina and Dennis followed close behind.

Hannibal opened the door and Harry stepped sideways to enter the room with his precious cargo. Hannibal pulled the blankets back and Harry laid her down gently on the bed. Harry pulled the blankets back up to her chest and sat on the edge of the bed, deep grief evident on his face. Mary shifted position again and settled down, still fast asleep. Harry gently caressed her beaten face with his hand. Tears streamed down his face as he turned to Hannibal. “We can’t let this happen again,” Harry insisted.

Hannibal put a comforting hand on Harry’s shoulder. “It won’t happen again if I have any say about it,” Hannibal declared.

Harry got up and stood before Selina. Tears still stained his face. “Thank you for what you did. After what she’s been through...,” he said softly, choking as his emotions boiled over again.

Selina embraced Harry, letting him cry on her shoulder. “It’ll be all right,” Selina purred, stroking his back gently. She stood there for a full minute letting Harry grieve, purring the whole time in an effort to calm him down.

“You truly are an angel,” Harry finally said, looking Selina in the eye. “Your purring has calmed me. Thank you.”

“No thanks are necessary, brother,” Selina purred, smiling warmly. “It’s what family does for each other.” Hannibal walked over to them; Dennis moved in, and made it a group hug.

After the group hug, Hannibal became more businesslike. “We still have much to do,” he stated. “Dennis, can you stay here with your mom while we get started on moving everything to the Temple?”

Dennis snapped to attention. “You bet, Hannibal,” he crowed.

“When she wakes, come get us. We should be outside,” Hannibal stated. “Come on. We have to move this stuff before they decide to strike again.”

Selina and Harry followed Hannibal back downstairs and into the garage. Hannibal hunted through his packs for the special phone and found it. They went outside and Hannibal opened the phone, calling the Temple informing them of what had happened and what was needed. Selina looked around as they went outside and saw large crates and pallets of supplies strewn around the yard. Many chairs, sofas, beds, and tables sat out on the grass wrapped in shrink-wrap. The forklift still had a pallet of supplies on the forks. Within thirty seconds of contact with the Temple, the portal opened up, this time big enough to drive the forklift through. Nathanael came through and approached them. “Is Mary all right?” he asked with great concern.

“Yes, she’ll be all right. She’s asleep right now,” Harry replied. “Selina put her to sleep with her purr.”

“She has that effect on people,” Nathanael stated. “That purr of hers is a natural tranquilizer when she tunes it right.” As he spoke, Dan and dozen more men and women came through the portal.

“Let’s get this stuff moved before anyone shows up,” Hannibal ordered.

“You have a place to put all this, don’t you?” Harry asked.

“Absolutely,” Nathanael replied confidently. “The portal chamber is bigger than this yard. There’s plenty of room.”

Harry nodded as Hannibal looked up at the sky, and then at the tree line around the yard. Hannibal’s expression hardened as he said, “I don’t like doing this out in the open. They may be watching from satellite.”

“Well, it can’t be helped,” Harry stated. “Though we may just get lucky and they may not be watching.” Fortune favored Harry’s remark for unknown to them at that moment, the sky was clear of spy satellites.

“I hope so,” Hannibal replied. “Let’s do this. We’ll get this stuff out here and then move the portal into the basement to get the goods down there.”

“You can do that?” Harry asked. “You can move the portal at your leisure?”

“That we can,” Nathanael said as Hannibal gave instructions to his help from the Temple.

Within minutes, the forklift began moving and the supplies started flowing into the portal. Hannibal, Nathanael, Harry, Selina, and five others from the Temple went into the house and started gathering Hannibal’s research. After an hour, all the supplies outside had been sent through the portal while Hannibal and his crew had gathered the bulk of his research into the garage. The walls of the house were bare except for Hannibal’s room where Mary lay asleep. They barely had room to move around in the garage because of the volume of Hannibal’s research materials. A man poked his head in the door and announced, “We’re done outside. Are you ready for us to move into the basement?”

“Absolutely,” Hannibal answered.

“Just show us where to set it up and we’ll get moving,” the man said.

“Sure thing; I’ll be right out,” Hannibal replied. Speaking to those helping him in the garage, Hannibal added, “Keep packing this stuff up, okay? I’ll be right back.” He followed the man out of the room.

“I had no idea that Hannibal had so much junk,” Harry said as he bagged a pile of notebooks.

“This isn’t everything,” Nathanael said, pausing for a moment. “He has a massive pile of research at his office at the University that needs retrieving as well.”

Hannibal reappeared and surveyed the situation. “Looks like we’re ready to move this stuff too,” he observed.

“Yup,” Harry agreed, scanning the garage. “Looks like it.”

Dennis suddenly appeared and announced, “Mom’s awake. Come quick!”

Hannibal, Harry, Selina, and Nathanael looked at each other for a split second and then followed Dennis upstairs to the bedroom. Mary sat on the side of the bed, propping herself up with one arm. Her demeanor appeared much calmer; her face less swollen. She looked up as everyone gathered around her. Harry and Hannibal sat down either side of her while Selina and Nathanael squatted down in front of her.

“Goodness,” Nathanael purred, grimacing at her beaten condition. “They sure worked you over. How are you feeling?” He reached out and put his hand on her knee.

“Absolutely lousy, but I’m feeling better than I did when I first got here,” Mary admitted. All she saw initially were figures gathered around her. Slowly her vision improved and she was able to focus on Nathanael, being he was the first one who spoke. “Nathanael; what are you doing here?” she asked bluntly.

“I’m here to see if you’re all right,” Nathanael replied. “I’m also here to help Hannibal vacate this place in case those goons who worked you over decide to come here too.”

Mary grasped Nathanael’s hand. “I’m glad you came,” she said gratefully.

“I’m glad to be here,” Nathanael answered softly. “You’re my friend.”

Harry put his arm around her and squeezed gently. “I’m glad you’re all right,” he said, relief evident in his tone. “For a moment there I thought I might lose you.”

Mary looked around at him with her bruised face and embraced him. “So did I,” she replied softly. Then turning toward Hannibal, she gave him a hug too, saying gratefully, “Thank you for sending Harry to get me. Who knows where I’d be if you hadn’t been sent him when you did.”

Hannibal smiled pleasantly, saying, “It’s the least I could do. I knew there was some potential for them to act this way. I just didn’t think they were going to act this brazenly. It was cowardly for them to have done this.” His face became etched with grief. “I didn’t want this,” Hannibal admitted. “You were to live safely while we searched for Amacia, not become a victim of a pointless vendetta against me.”

Mary reached out and placed her index and middle fingers to Hannibal’s lips. “Don’t be sorry,” she said. “You’ve always been there for us. And your offer the other day to provide for us while you and Harry were gone really proved it to me. We all knew the possibilities of what the government would do if they found out what you were up to. All they’ve done has shown their hand too quickly. While they beat me, they kept asking where it was, but I had no idea what they were talking about because they wouldn’t say what it was. Every time I asked what it was they wanted, they beat me mercilessly without telling me. But they were definitely looking for something specific because we had jewelry, money, guns, and electronic equipment that was very expensive and they didn’t take any of it. The only thing I saw them actually take was Harry’s computer. Whatever it was must have been on it because that’s what they grabbed first before ransacking the house.”

“Did you notice anything about them?” Hannibal probed.

“Yes, the ones that ransacked the house were speaking in a foreign language and the one that interrogated me spoke perfect English without any kind of accent at all,” Mary answered as she rubbed her throbbing head. “Do you have any aspirins? My head is killing me.” Hannibal’s eyebrow rose slightly as he glanced at Harry.

“Yes, I do,” Hannibal answered. “I’ll go get some.” He rose and left the room in search of the aspirins.

Mary looked at Selina, who had just taken Hannibal’s place at her side, and asked, “What did you do to me, Selina? The last thing I remember was laying down with my head in your lap and you gently stroking my hair and purring.”

“I used my purr to calm and relax you,” Selina purred as she put her arm around Mary. “You were worked over pretty badly so I thought that a little cat nap would help.”

Mary embraced Selina. “You were right,” Mary replied gratefully. “I was physically and emotionally exhausted from the beating when I got here. I actually rested and my mind is now fairly calm, though I’m still terribly sore.”

“You’re going to be sore for several days,” Harry declared. “Can you get up and walk around?”

“I think so,” Mary answered. Slowly through the pain, she heaved herself onto her feet. Nathanael stood very close by; ready to catch her if she fell. She staggered a bit as she slowly made her way around the end of the bed. The more she walked, the more balanced and stronger she became. “Gosh it still hurts,” she hissed through her teeth as she returned to the bed where she had been sitting. Just as she sat, Hannibal reappeared with some aspirins and a glass of water.

“Here, take these. They’re high powered aspirin that I keep on hand in case of emergencies,” Hannibal said softly, handing her the glass of water and two aspirins, which she promptly took.

“Thank you,” she said with a pained smile.

Hannibal turned to Nathanael and asked, “Can you go supervise the clean out of the garage. They’re almost done with the basement.”

“Sure,” Nathanael replied. Then to Mary he said, “I have to go now. If you need anything, let me know.” She nodded and Nathanael left the room.

Dennis, who had been standing at a distance, moved in and gently hugged his mother. “I’m glad you’re all right, mom,” he murmured.

Mary grimaced through a surge of pain, and then smiled as she returned the embrace. “Yes, I’m okay, sweetie,” she stated.

“He watched over you the whole time you were asleep, Mary,” Hannibal reported. “He never left your side.”

Mary looked at her son and hugged him again with tears of love and gratitude beginning to flow. “My little man,” she said emotionally, “my precious little hero.”

“Aww, it was nothing, mom,” Dennis replied modestly.

Mary then turned to Hannibal, who had pulled a chair up in front of her. “What’re we going to do? I’m afraid to go back home now. The next time they might do something worse than beat the tar out of me,” she asked fearfully.

Hannibal looked at Harry for an instant, and then looked Mary square in the face. “You and Dennis aren’t going to be able to go home. You’re going to have to come with us to the Temple. You’ll be safe there,” Hannibal said firmly, yet gently. “We’re setting up living quarters so that everyone that’s there will have a much better place to stay.”

Mary looked at him blankly as she winced through another surge of pain. “The Temple?” she finally asked. “Is it safe? I remember what you told us about the Temple.”

“Yes,” Hannibal replied. “It the safest place on the planet now. The traps and monsters we found in there have been dealt with and neutralized. There’s nothing to fear. The living quarters that we’re setting up are near the Library where most of our research is going on. It’s perfectly safe. The only areas that are dangerous at this point are the outer areas that haven’t been fully explored. There you won’t have to worry about the goon squad making a surprise visit like they did today.”

“You’re sure it’s safe?” Mary asked Harry bluntly, who nodded yes.

“Yes, Mary, it’s perfectly safe,” Selina reported. “Nathanael and I have lived there since Hannibal rescued us and that’s been almost two years. The living quarters were a bit Spartan but Hannibal is remedying that as I speak.”

“You’re going there too?” Mary asked intently.

“Yes, I am. In fact, I’m moving my entire operation there. The masters of the universe have made a terrible mistake by attacking you. Now, the technology they hoped to steal from me they’ll never get,” Hannibal declared.

“So that’s why there’s so much going on here today,” Mary surmised.

“Yes, I’m not going to leave anything here. Everything’s going. If there’s anything you want from your house, we’ll get it after we get done here,” Hannibal stated.

“Well,” Mary thought aloud. “We do need our clothes and some other things.”

“We’ll get them. In fact, we’ll sanitize your house just like I’m doing here,” Hannibal offered. Noise rose from downstairs as the crew moved the furniture out of the living room and kitchen.

Nathanael abruptly walked in, announcing, “We’re almost done. The garage is cleaned out and now we’re moving the downstairs furniture. We’ll be up here in a couple of minutes.”

“Wait and do this room last,” Hannibal ordered. Nathanael acknowledged the order and left the room. Hannibal gazed intently at the people around him, saying, “We’re getting close to being done here. The movers will be here as soon as they finish cleaning out the other rooms up here.” As he spoke, a crowd of people led by Nathanael rumbled by the open bedroom door. “Can you walk?” Hannibal asked Mary.

“It may take me a little longer but yes,” Mary answered, nodding. “I can move around under my own steam.”

Hannibal flashed a relieved smile. “Good,” he replied. They sat there for several minutes, listening to the banging of the furniture. The radio continued to play softly throughout the house. Hannibal abruptly rose, heading to the closet and opening the doors, turning on the light. The closet was full of radio equipment: ham and short wave receivers that were lit up. “Well. I guess it’s time to shut this thing down,” he said as he threw a switch and the preaching on the radio ceased.

Harry looked at the set-up and whistled softly. “That’s an impressive rig,” he complimented.

Hannibal started unplugging and disconnecting the antennas so the equipment could be removed. “Oh, it’s just a tiny rig compared to what I’ve been playing with here recently,” he said over his shoulder. He turned around with a small portable shortwave radio in his hand, which he turned on and sat on the windowsill. The same preaching once again filled the room.

“You listen to his guy a lot don’t you?” Harry asked as Hannibal stood by the window.

Hannibal looked out the window with a distant look. “He’s the real deal: a true prophet. I pay very close attention to him. He’s also about as popular as I am.”

Harry looked at Mary, and then at Selina. His puzzlement over Hannibal’s comments could not be hid. “You mean he’s different from all the other charlatans who claim to be prophets and preachers?” Harry asked bluntly.

Hannibal glanced at Harry, saying resolutely, “Yes, I’ve actually met him several times and each time he told me not only things that only I knew, but also that I must go forward with the expedition. The weird thing about it is I never told him anything about Amacia, my research, or the expedition.”

“Whoa,” Harry replied with intrigue. “You never told him?”

“Nope,” Hannibal answered with a shake of his head. “It was only after he told me what I was doing in detail that I shared it with him. He also said that I wasn’t to doubt the Lord for even an instant in this endeavor.”

As Hannibal finished speaking, Nathanael re-entered the room again. “It’s time,” Nathanael announced. “All the rest of the house is cleaned out. This is the last room.” He went to the wall at his right and promptly removed several pictures. He stood back, handed the pictures to Selina, and then pulled out a small communicator that resembled a handheld CB radio. “Okay, everything’s clear. Open it on the east wall,” he said into the communicator. The wall shimmered and disappeared as the portal opened. Mary watched in fascination as she looked into the portal. She thought she could see activity on the other side of the portal. “Come on in,” Nathanael called out into the hall and six men came in and began removing items from the room.

Mary watched in fascination as the men went in and out of the portal as if it were no more than a door between two rooms. “Come on,” Harry said to Mary. “Let’s get out of their way.” He helped Mary up as Selina gave the pictures to some of the men who had just come through the portal. Harry and Selina helped Mary move to the window where Hannibal stood watching. Mary leaned heavily on Harry’s arm as she watched the crew empty the room.

Hannibal nudged Harry, saying, “I’m going to take a last check of the house.” He slipped out of the room with Nathanael following him, checking every room, closet, and corner. They stopped in the living room and Hannibal sighed. “It’s hard having to leave this place…so many memories,” he murmured.

Nathanael put his large feline hand on Hannibal’s shoulder. “It’s always a hard thing to have to leave one’s home like this,” he replied solemnly. “But what you’re doing is the right thing.”

Hannibal turned to Nathanael and patted him on the shoulder. “Yeah,” Hannibal agreed. “I know it is but it doesn’t make it any easier. Come. Let’s leave this place.” He paused and gazed at the vacant room one last time, and then went back upstairs with Nathanael. Hannibal re-entered the bedroom to see it stripped of everything that was there except for the short-wave radio on the windowsill. Harry stood by the radio letting Mary lean on his arm. Dennis stood with them, holding his mother’s hand while Selina leaned against the wall next to the window.

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