22 Three days later, Mr. Locke hesitated when we asked to see the urns, but he eventually agreed. Raechel had laced Orcus’ drink at dinner, and since the serum had made him human again (regrettably with no side-effects) he’d dropped off to sleep on the sofa rather quickly. It had seemed a bit easy, she said, but I firmly told her to not look a gift-horse in the mouth.
Mr. Locke piled us into his car, which just so happened to be a dark green Aston Martin DB9. My dad would have been jealous; Mother wouldn’t allow him the one brand of car he enjoyed (rich people problems, right?).
“I don’t doubt your experience on the subject,” Mr. Locke said to Raechel, “but are you sure he got the sleeper?”
“Positive. Unless he knows what we’re up to, he’ll be out like a light for a while.” The trouble was, I thought, that Orcus often knew things he shouldn’t have known, even when everyone took pains to make sure no one told him about it.
The urns, Mr. Locke told us, were stored in a warehouse about an hour’s drive from the estate. All items of historical value were kept in the Locke family warehouse. Time-travelling urns weren’t the only oddity to be found. There were several devices kept under lock and key, and a good majority of them, Mr. Locke admitted, had uses which escaped him almost completely. The only real information he had was the knowledge that in comparison to the devices the urns were practically irrelevant.
“Then why would Orcus go to this much trouble for urns?”
Mr. Locke shrugged. “Only he could positively tell you that. I do believe it is because he is either unaware of the machines, or does not hold their capacities in high regard.”
“What do they do?” Raechel asked from the back seat.
“I’m not entirely sure,” Mr. Locke said.
“I take it your machines are dangerous?” I said.
“I don’t know that either,” Mr. Locke replied. “I imagine they are. My father burned the papers accompanying them when I was very small, and I am quite sure he was the only Locke who’d ever managed to find them, or put the machines through any sort of test.”
“Was that Mr. Locke a very moral man?”
Mr. Locke snorted. “Hardly. He was a coward, and likely became afraid of the power they generated.”
That wasn’t anywhere near comforting, by any stretch of the imagination. “And you’ve purposely not told Orcus what these contraptions may or may not be able to do?”
I looked back at Raechel and Sebastian. “What do you think?”
“I think,” said Sebastian, squirming, “that this. . .thing is exceedingly uncomfortable. How can you tolerate it?”
I smirked. “It’s only uncomfortable for you because you’re so freakishly tall. It’s fine for me because I’m shotgun.” Apparently that particular phrase was lost in translation, because Sebastian only managed to stare at me stupidly. I looked at Raechel. “What do you think?”
“I think you should maybe stop using words and phrases he doesn’t know,” she said.
“I meant about the warehouse, but I’ll gladly take your two cents and put them through a penny-puller.”
She pursed her lips. “If Orcus doesn’t know about the other machines, that’s great and wonderful, but you’ll forgive me if I overestimate him for safety’s sake.” A look suddenly crossed her face, and she looked wildly at Sebastian. “Do you think you could identify them?”
He looked at her like she was crazy. “No,” he said flatly. “No, I do not.”
“You can’t, or you won’t?” I asked.
“Both,” he said. “Many geniuses from my time made machines that should never have been made. And their creations brought misfortune on those claiming ownership. The former Mr. Locke was wise to destroy their papers. If the wrong hands got on those machines, it would be the end of it for you.”
Mr. Locke said nothing, but his face was grim.
The warehouse, like much of what belonged to the Locke family, was probably bigger than pretty much every other warehouse on the planet. It looked like three typical units stacked on top of each other, and about eight typical units deep. I tried not to ogle. It was proving to be difficult. But really, what could they possibly have that needed to be kept in a storage this large?
Mr. Locke pulled into one of the three parking spaces, and I noticed the rather simplistic security system: a padlock. I frowned, and voiced my curiosity.
Mr. Locke shrugged. “Your concern is valid, but I’m not entirely worried.” He gestured to the sign on the chain-link fence.
The sign read: “Property of the Locke family. Keep out or enter at own risk.”
Raechel’s brow creased. “How many people have tried to break in?”
Mr. Locke shrugged. “Only the ones who’ve never heard of us, and they tend to regret it. You’re all with me, though, so you needn’t worry.”
As we passed through the gate, a hurried movement in the shadows caught my eye; I decided to cast off Mr. Locke’s assurances. There were many reasons to be worried.
The inside of the warehouse was vastly bigger than the outside, and I felt very intimidated, and would have been quite confused as to where to begin looking had Mr. Locke not been with us. He led us down several aisles to a small corner. A chest resided in this niche, and it looked wholly unremarkable. It was about three feet wide and laying on its side. Standing up it would have been about my height, and probably very heavy. A faint buzzing sound came from inside the chest. Mr. Locke knelt down next to it and undid the lock and latch.
I knelt down next to him. “Mr. Locke,” I whispered.
“How long was the sedative supposed to work on Orcus?”
“Eight hours,” he whispered back, “but Orcus didn’t take it. No doubt you saw him creeping along behind us?”
“Saw something, and I’m hedging my bets.”
“He would have known. I thought it was a bit too easy to slip him that sedative, and seeing him coming along behind us like that…. You can bet he knows what we’re up to.”
“So I’m not just imagining things?”
“Indeed.” He pulled out the first urn. “Fret not; I’ve a plan.”
Raechel knelt next to us. “Why are we whispering?”
I told her, and she told Sebastian, whose face clouded over.
“How do we get rid of it?” he asked.
“How do you get rid of what?” said a cold voice.
I looked past Sebastian at Orcus’ rigid frame. “The urns, Orcus, dear.”
“I was actually referring to him,” said Sebastian coolly, “but it would be good to know how to get rid of the wormholes as well.”
“You don’t,” he said calmly. A complete fool couldn’t miss that he was furious.
Mr. Locke didn’t move from his crouched position beside the stone urn. His palm was flat on its side as he gently removed the lid. “That is not your choice, Orcus,” he said coolly.
“Don’t even think about it,” Orcus said angrily, coming closer. “Do you have any idea what would happen?”
Mr. Locke fixed him with a nasty glare. “I’ve a pretty good idea what won’t happen, thank you, boy.”
I stepped around Sebastian and in front of Orcus, pushing him back just a little bit. “Please don’t start a fight, Orcus.” Why I was taking this vein, I didn’t know. All I knew was that for Mr. Locke to be successful Orcus had to be kept at bay.
Orcus’ eyes locked onto mine. “My dear,” he sneered, “you started the fight yourself when you attempted to drug me into a stupor.”
“That wasn’t her,” Raechel said over her shoulder. “That was me.”
Orcus glowered. “Do you have any idea how unstable the vortex could become?” he demanded of his father. “You don’t even know the proper way to dismantle it!”
“Orcus, we have to get rid of them,” I said. Anything to keep him from his father.
“Because when I die, they’ll fall in your hands,” Mr. Locke said nastily, “and you’re not good enough to hold the privilege.”
Orcus pushed past me, but he didn’t get very far. No one had had time to move when the vortex went off. A sudden light, a sound like a wild electric current, and a dull burning sensation engulfed us all. It was over in a flash and a thud as we all fell, feet-first, onto something stone and cold. My head felt like it had been split in two, probably because I’d just cracked it on the ground, and my chest ached something awful. It was akin to receiving CPR. For several minutes I couldn’t speak, couldn’t move, couldn’t think; I didn’t know who I was, where I was, or when I was. Everything was blocked out by the pounding in my head and the residual burning sensation on my skin.
When I was finally able to move, I got to my feet slowly. Raechel followed suit, and we leaned against stone walls for support. The men were down for just a bit longer, but as soon as they were up, Orcus and Mr. Locke were at each other hammer and tongs. In the end, because Mr. Locke was the bigger (and somehow better) man, Orcus was pinned to the ground of wherever it was we were.
“What were you thinking?” Mr. Locke bellowed.
“What was I thinking?” Orcus shouted back. “You were the one trying to neutralize them!”
“So you thought it would be a good idea to jeopardize the wards by becoming a threat when the vortex was less than unstable?”
“It stopped you, didn’t it?” Orcus retorted. “That was all I needed to do.”
“Oh, yes,” sneered Mr. Locke. “I can see how throwing us into an unknown time was such a brilliant idea. Well done, you fucking idiot!”
“How could you even think to destroy something so valuable?” Orcus shouted.
“I know you, Orcus!!!” Mr. Locke bellowed in reply. “These are not toys for you to play with at your leisure! These are tools! Tools that require a lot of responsibility, and your pattern of behavior has so far indicated to me that you cannot be trusted with them!”
Maybe it was because I was so used to hearing these things from my mother that I didn’t find this particular barb all that offensive. Orcus seemed to take a different view, because he made to tackle his father again. We eventually got them to separate, but it required pushing Orcus down onto the edge of the broken fountain, and subsequently me sitting on Orcus’ lap to keep them from duking it out again, and even that took several minutes to work properly. Orcus was unusually hesitant in regards to making me angry, which was probably a good thing for everyone involved, and Mr. Locke would have thrown himself into an inferno before harming a woman. That being what it was, they managed to calm themselves to the point where they only exchanged glares and rude words.
Orcus and I were perched on the edge of a fountain in the middle of what appeared to be an abandoned courtyard. We were surrounded by the walls of a house that had clearly once been quite grand, but was now dilapidated beyond all repair. The time was obviously very different; the location was painfully unfamiliar.
Sebastian, being the least susceptible to death and injury, was volunteered and then ordered to poke around and see what he could find, if anything, to clue us in to the historical period. The rest of us stayed put. Raechel wandered around, looking through windows on the bottom level, and Orcus, intent on self-pity, rested his chin on my shoulder and sulked. Mr. Locke alternated between glowering at the ground and the grey sky, as though both were mortally offensive. For a good hour no one said anything, and the only thing to be heard was a distant chirping of birds.
Orcus finally whispered: “Why did you sit on me?”
“Why do you think?” I retorted.
“You know I could just toss you off my lap, and my father and I could go at it again.”
“That is true,” I said. “But I also know that you won’t.”
“Firstly, because you’re enjoying it a bit too much, and secondly, because if you do, I’ll never kiss you again, and you know it.”
Orcus chuckled. “You also said you’d rather snort pulverized glass to being with me, and look where you are, darling.”
I sniffed. “Yes, well. . .the glass wasn’t on hand, and it never became a viable option.”
Orcus’ amusement was cut short when Sebastian came out of a door to our right, his face creased. “I found something I think you’ll appreciate,” he said to me.
“What?” I tried to get up, but Orcus’ arms tightened about my waist and pulled me back. I sent a smirk over my shoulder. He was becoming predictable. “Thank you for proving my point.” I looked back to Sebastian to ask more questions, but never got around to it. My jaw dropped in surprise, and my heart began to pound feverishly in my chest.
Floating beside him was a ghost; he looked to be as sick as a ghost can get, if you can imagine a ghost being sick. His ghost-clothes were stained with ghost-blood; his face was gaunt, and his ghostly eyes were hollow. My heart was pounding because what else happens when you come face to face with a ghost? Also, I knew who he had been – or, was…as the case probably is. His portrait had been hanging in my father’s study for the last thirteen years.
“Who are you?” Raechel asked, almost excitedly. “And how did you die?”
“My name,” he said, his voice like gravel, “is Cavain Daedalus, and this is my home.”
This wasn’t remotely helpful information. “He’s my great-grandfather by thirteen generations,” I explained to everyone. “So, thanks, Orcus, for throwing this far back in time. What years is it?”
He tilted his head to the side. “Well 1639, of course. What other year could it possibly be?”
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