Thursday, May 2, 2013

Day Four-Forty-Nine: Om


I mentioned in passing, yesterday, that nobody could locate the cave where me, my dad, and Pagan found the giant white symbol on the wall and got cornered by what I still have to assume is Antonia. I'd ordered searchers to check that general area, but nobody could find it. Fair enough; it's a big mountain, and the cave is a ways from the camp. Still odd that Libby's crew hasn't found the cave, but, whatever.

Today, with yesterday's info in hand, I decided to look for the cave personally. It seemed much more likely that Libby might be there, hopefully safe. I followed what landmarks I remembered from my first visit (tricky, when the said visit was during winter) and looked for the narrow gap in the rocks that would lead into the cave.

No dice. There isn't a hint of cave anywhere on this bloody mountain. We searched for seven hours, SEVEN, before giving up. The hunters with me found ample evidence of dog fur, so Antonia's still around somewhere, but that's all. No footprints leading to the cave, no trails that might indicate the presence of a cave, not even a bloody spider web to hint at Julius being with June. NOTHING.

Ugh. I'm frustrated. It seems like I can't go ONE WEEK without a member of my family being in some sort of mortal peril. Not ONE.

We gave up as dinner crawled 'round. The hunters set out into the foothills to track down meatier fare while the rest of us lugged dried fruits and some vegetables out of our packs. We were joined by the labourers, still dusty and bedraggled, and soon Pubtwon became the staging ground of a sombre (but better than nothing) party. Drinks were had, songs sung, worries melted away.

But only a little.

I was less than enthralled by the shindig. I wanted to continue searching. I knew it would be in vain, though, for as the sun fell it became near-impossible to navigate the mountain's gradual slopes safely. I brooded by one of the fires in camp instead, watching moodily as my entourage got re-acquainted with their friends who'd moved to Pubtwon.

I should have found a better hiding spot. Doc planted his spindly little butt down beside me two hours into the festivities, a steaming plate of clams in his hands. His faithful followers towered over him, seemingly refusing to sit on the log we'd both chosen.

"Ahhhhh! Delicious, delicious! Mmm, savour that scent, my lord! It is the scent of the yummy, yessss?"

"Yeah, sure," I grunted.

"Mmmm, indeed, indeed." Sliding away a few rags covering his face, Doc opened his mouth - a mouth I'd never seen - and tipped the clam's contents between large, pearly-white and edged teeth. Like a sand shark's. "Ahhhh! Exquisite. I haven't had such fare in a long time, Mr. Mayor, nooooo, not a long time indeed. Would you care for a clam?"

"No." I waved the steaming shell away as he thrust it towards my face. "Look, Doc, I tried to talk to you last week, and I've been kinda preoccupied the last three days -"

"Yes! The search! The light in the skyyyyy." Doc waggled his legs. "It is most curious, most curious indeeeeeed, to one such as I. A scientist! I am a doctor and a scientist, you know. I take great interest in the matters of the flesh, great interest indeed. Why, your very daughter -"

That was the in I needed. I cut him off with a chop of my hand. "Yeah. About that. You stay away from her. I know you 'n… these… guys… whatever they are… have been tryin' to sneak into the house where we're stayin'. A friend of mine saw the little one, there, snoopin' around last week, and I keep findin' the door unlocked. Once we're done here, I want you outta Pubton. Understand?"

For once, Doc went silent. His teeth disappeared, lost in a blackness I found disconcertingly familiar. But, hell, those things don't… talk.

I swallowed. "Understand?"

Doc looked at his followers, and they to him. The small one cringed. He nodded; they nodded back.

 "These…" He began slowly. "These ones are curious. They have been cloistered in the desert for so long. They long to see things that are not of our world. I fear, perhaps, that they have overstepped their bounds, and done so on my behalf. They are frightfully loyal to me. Aren't you, boys?"

Doc glared at the three figures again. They nodded swiftly. The small one nearly shrank out of sight behind a bush.

"So I apologize. But!" He raised a finger in the air. "If such is your wish, we shall move on once this trip is complete. A doctor is not a doctor if he is not wanted, and your… villagers… have made it abundantly clear that they do not want me touching them. Insulting, this, yes, but what am I to do? I will leave, and seek people who can better benefit from my presence."

I was taken aback. Doc's words were reasonable, well-paced, and logical. A bit of a departure from the yappy weirdo I'd come to know over the previous month. Something wasn't quite fitting…


… and that's when the hammer fell.

"I would ask, in exchange for leaving, that you permit me a sample of your daughter's hair. Before we leave. Just one strand! No, wait, don't go, please, one strand, that's all I need to analyze, that's all, that's all! Just one, dammit, please, wait, don't go into the dark, it might be dangerous! Wait, wait…"

His voice faded away. At the mention of Eve I'd gotten up and stomped into a house. That's where I am now, writing in this diary, brooding over failures and freaks and the breeze from the hole in the roof.

I don't trust Doc. Not one bit. And if I have to, I'll get my people to run him out of town.


Dragomir the Mayor

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