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Familiar Faces - Chapter Twenty Nine: Blasphemous Rumours (part one)
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Familiar Faces - Chapter Twenty Nine: Blasphemous Rumours (part one)

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  • 1. Welcome Back to Familiar Faces - Chapter Twenty-Nine - Blasphemous Rumours (part one)
  • 2. I bet you thought we were dead, didn't you? I'm sorry for the long delay between chapters. Shortly after twenty-eight was released I had to do a hood rebuild. That took quite a bit of time due to the size of the hood. Due to the delay I'll give you a short recap. Very short. Currently generation six heiress Emma Familiar is married to Aldric Davis, of La Fiesta Tech. They have one son named Frankie. Frankie is adorable. During their time in University, Aldric's brother Almeric, caused problems for the couple. He seemed to want to marry Emma himself. When his plans failed, he ran off and hasn't been seen (by the family) since. Recently, Almeric returned to town. It appears that he is trying to stir up more trouble. Almeric's current focus is his nephew Frankie. Almeric has a problem though, his mother; she's dead but she seems to have some degree of influence over him.
  • 3. "And then teacher turned around and looked straight at Ewan. How'd she know he was the one that did it huh? Are teachers like Mommies? Do they have eyes in the backs of their heads?"
  • 4. "Why are we going this way Daddy? Home's that other way." "We aren't going home kid. Just sit still and shut up, we have a long drive. I don't want to listen to you the whole way."
  • 5. That did not sound like Daddy. Daddy did not call him kid. He calls him Frankie or buddy or sometimes Francis Robert Familiar. When Daddy uses his full name, he knows that he is in trouble. "Who are you? You aren't my Daddy."
  • 6. "You're pretty perceptive aren't you kid."
  • 7. "I'm at the soccer park Aldric and Frankie isn't here. The boys believe that you picked him up early. Is Frankie with you?" "I'm still at work, hon. I'm going to be here for awhile I'm on deadline. I thought you were going to pick Frankie up." "You're going to have to miss your deadline. Aldric, you better get over here, someone has our son."
  • 8. "How were we supposed to know that it wasn't Aldric? The guy looked like Aldric, and Frankie thought it was his Dad." "You were told that Emma would be picking Frankie up from practices. If there had been a change in plans, someone would have let you know. You can't just let kids run off with any stranger that shows up, boys." Elliot Capp chastised the two teens that had volunteered to coach the childrens soccer team. "But that's what we're telling you it wasn't a stranger. It was Aldric. Why would we question Uncle Aldric picking up Frankie? It's not like we don't know him."
  • 9. "We're going to have to face it Emma, it's pretty obvious who has Frankie. The only one that could and would impersonate Aldric is his brother. Almeric must have Frankie." "That's not possible Elliot, what would Almeric want with Frankie?" "Who's Almeric?" Erasmus Goth asked.
  • 10. "Almeric is Aldric's twin brother, he is the one that was responsible for Aldric's death in UNI when we were first engaged. No one has seen him since he ran off after the court session. Almeric killed Aldric to get to me, but I wasn't willing to trade brothers. What would he want with Frankie?" "Maybe he thinks he can use Frankie to lure you to him?" Elliot replied. "He wanted to marry the legacy heiress, you're still the heiress maybe he's trying a new tactic." "Number one I'm already married. Number two Frankie's the next heir. Even if I have more children, that won't change. Number three if Almeric thinks I'd let him touch me he's crazy." "Almeric being crazy is already a given Sis, anything past that we won't think about yet."
  • 11. "So uh shouldn't we call someone? Like the police?" asked Egeus. "No not the police we need to call someone that knows what they're doing," replied his Aunt.
  • 12. "Dad I need you!"
  • 13. "Mister? Why do you look like my Dad? Why did you pick me up instead of him? Where are we going? Are we almost there? Is my Dad going to be there? Is it a surprise? Will my Mom be there? Will 'Lisha?" "Kid?" "Yeah Mister?" "Do you ever shut up"
  • 14. "Nope, Granma says my mouth is 'like a babbling brook that never goes dry'. Grandpa says it's cause I'm 'the most outgoing Familiar ever, and that's saying something cause almost all Familiars are outgoing'. Except Uncle Dwight, sometimes it's like Uncle Dwight is grumpy but really, he's just shy. Well sometimes Uncle Dwight IS grumpy, he's got the mean streak. But he's not as grumpy as Grandpa always is." "Okay kid let's play a game. You like games right?" "Sure! I like playing my computer game best but I also like Don't Wake the Llama. I'm good at that game. Almost as good as Elijah and he's awesome at it. I don't really like chess all that much. But, its fun to watch Zeke cheat Ezra. I really want to play Mahjong. Nobodies allowed to play that anymore, though."
  • 15. "Why not?" as soon as he asked, he cursed to himself for being pulled in by the kid's incessant chatter. "Never mind don't tell me. We're going to play the quiet game okay. That sound like fun?" "What's the quiet game?" "It's when we see who can be quiet the longest and the one that wins gets a prize." "What type of prize? Ice Cream!" "Sure kid if you can stay quiet until we get where we're going, you can have ice cream." He mumbled to himself about the likely hood of finding Ice Cream where they were going and likened it to finding lemonade in hell.
  • 16. "Has the game started yet? How long until we get there? Where is there?" At the rate, he was going Frankie was going to lose the game before it started. "Kid just shut up!" The man was loosing his patience; he needed to concentrate on the drive. He really hoped they'd get there before dark. If it got dark before they got to the valley, she would find him, and then there'd be no hope in keeping the kid safe.
  • 17. About that, time Aldric showed up at the soccer park looking a bit flushed from racing across town, and a bit confused as to what was going on. "Don't worry Aldric, everything's going to be okay. We'll find your brother before anything happens to Frankie." Elliot grabbed his brother in law in a comforting embrace. "I'm going to gather up my kids, and take them to Mom's. After that Deanna and I will head over to Dad's. We'll help Titania hold down the fort. If you need us to do anything, just call." Elliot let go of Aldric, turned around and called out to his boys. "Ezra! Zeke! Come on guys we need to get going."
  • 18. "What did Elliot mean? Find my brother before anything happens to Frankie?" "Elliot thinks that Almeric must have Frankie. The person who picked him up was, apparently impersonating you, and Almeric has a history of trying to do that."
  • 19. "What would my brother want with my son?" Aldric still had difficulty in seeing Almeric, as anything more than an uptight bully. "If he wanted to meet his nephew, wouldn't the proper thing be to call? Or drop by the house?" "I think it's more that Almeric wants my heir. It just happens that my heir is also his nephew." Emma shook her head, "I don't know that Almeric has Frankie, and if he does I don't know why. Elliot was jumping to conclusions. Maybe he wanted to take him for Ice Cream. Uncle Dwight used to swoop down and take us kids off for the afternoon all the time." "I'm sure that Uncle Dwight told your parents what he was doing. It might have been a surprise to you. I doubt it was a surprise to David or Titania."
  • 20. "Well yeah, that's probably true. They always acted surprised, when we told them." "Emma, Almeric isn't going to all of a sudden decide that he wants to be an Uncle. I might, have problems seeing him turning psychopathic killer. But, I don't see him turning into a loving Uncle either. Did you call the police?" "Uh, no but, Dad's on his way." Right then there was a small sonic boom and Emma looked up at the sky. "In fact, I think Dad's here now."
  • 21. As Emma said that, two teams appeared and faced each other in the sky above the soccer field.
  • 22. The good guys ___________ Puck Summerdream, Pamela Indie, Colette Familiar, and Delilah Familiar
  • 23. And the not that bad of guys. ________________ Randy Indie, David Familiar, Kitty Familiar and Bottom Goth
  • 24. Aldric let out a gasp, "Whoa! Where'd they come from? You never told me your Dad could fly!" "The Criminal Masterminds don't use their flight packs all that often. The Captain Heroes usually protest when they do. They say that flight, is an advantage they should get to keep for themselves. I'm guessing, this falls under extenuating circumstances." "Hi Dad!" Egeus said as he waved to his father, Puck Summerdream. "Mom! You gotta tell Aunt Em that it's not our fault!" 'Ras started, but cut short when Bottom Goth gave him the look. "Uh, sorry Mom, I know we aren't supposed to bug you when you're working."
  • 25. "Hello, Hat Woman. What are you and your group of do gooders doing here? This isn't a kitten stuck in a tree. This is serious business, you might chip a nail." "Good thing I always carry a file, isn't it, Davey Wavey?"
  • 26. "Frammit Colette! How many times do I have to tell you not to call me that? Show me the respect of my proper title. I let you wear the hat, don't I?" "Let me? No Dave, there's no letting involved when it comes to the hat. I won the right to wear the hat years ago. Of course, you claim, that you gave it up because your wife asked you to. Ha! We know the truth, don't we Grumpy Green Giant?"
  • 27. "My name, is The Davestroyer!" "The only destruction we ever see, is my team, destroying yours. Week, after week, down at the Justice Bowl." "So, you've gotten lucky a few times this year? The Primpmeister sprained his thumb, and you keep scheduling our matches during full sunlight. Countess Fang can't sub for him until after dark, and you know it." "Wah wah wah!"
  • 28. "They're supposed to be helping us?" Aldric asked his wife. "It's just a ritual they have to go through. They're almost done with the insult portion of the program. Once that's over, they'll get down to business. You'd never guess, that they've been best friends since High School, would you?" "Do they really have to do this here? Now? The longer they take, the farther away Frankie could be."
  • 29. "Dad? Aunt Cole? Can we skip the part where you two trade slaps this time? Frankie's missing, and could be anywhere by now." "Of course Pumpkin," Dave said and then turned back to Colette. "She's right we need to get down to business here. Shall we pick this up next week, Hat Woman? Wednesday for league play, as usual?" "We can't do Wednesday. Wednesday is the twin's birthday. I can't miss that. How would Thursday work instead?" "Well, if we do Thursday, we'll have to make it a night game." "Fine! Bring in your Ringer then!"
  • 30. "Emma honey, every thing is going to be okay. We'll find him soon, we already have teams out searching." Looking at his son in law David continued. "Aldric, have you thought of anything new? Or is there any place else Almeric might be hiding? I have a goon squad at your old house. Another group is heading to the college. Your brother, didn't endear himself to many people on campus. Pickings there are pretty slim." Dave frowned, he wished that they had more information. Aldric shook his head "I've been thinking about it for weeks, Dave. There's no place else. Doyle has been looking for other properties. So far, he hasn't come up with anything."
  • 31. "Are we there yet?" "No kid, we aren't there yet. Remember how I told you not to ask that question? I'll tell you when we get there, if we do." "Then where are we?"
  • 32. "We're no place special, that's the beauty of it. We're just going to make a phone call, and then move on." "Are we getting gas? Is that why you stopped? It don't look like there's anyone here, are they open?" "Nope, they haven't been open since I was a kid." Just in case though, he grabbed his jacket and hat out of the passenger seat, and shrugged them on. It wouldn't do to be recognized.
  • 33. "Okay kid, here's some change go call your father. You know his cell phone number right?" "Sure it's 776-2323." "Great, call him and let him know you're okay. Tell him that you're with your Uncle Almeric, that we're having a grand old time, and he shouldn't worry. Then let me talk to him."
  • 34. "You're my Uncle?" Frankie asked dubiously "Na uh, you are not. I have Uncle Elliot, Uncle Puck, Uncle Dov, and Uncle Ted. Then I got my double special Uncle Alex. He's married to my Aunt Bo, but you know what? He's also my Grandpa's Uncle, which is weird cause he's not old like Grandpa. Then there's Uncle Dwight and Uncle Chay, they're really Mom's Uncles, but I still call them that. I don't have an Uncle Almeric." "Sure you do. I'm not surprised your parent's failed to mention me. I'm sure that they'd rather pretend I didn't exist." "Huh?" "Go, call your father."
  • 35. "Hello do you have news? Who is this?" "Hi Daddy! Did you know that I have an Uncle Almeric?" "Frankie! Where are you? Are you okay?" "Uh huh I'm fine. Uncle Almeric said that we're no place special. I'm supposed to tell you we're having a grand old time, and that you shouldn't worry."
  • 36. "I shouldn't worry!" "Ouch Daddy don't yell in my ear, that's not nice." "Sorry Frankie. You said you're okay; are you really okay? Or, are you just saying what Almeric told you to say?" "I'm fine Daddy. I don't know if Uncle Almeric is, though. He keeps saying I'm giving him a headache, asking so many questions." "Can you tell me where you are? Are there any people nearby, or do you see any signs?"
  • 37. "We're at a gas station, but they aren't open so we're not getting gas. Uncle Almeric says they haven't been open in a long time. They need to hire a maid, cause there's a really big mess here. There's a sign on the gas pumps, but I don't know what it says." "That's enough kid, give me the phone, and let me talk to your father. Don't wander off, you could get hurt." "Uncle Almeric wants to talk to you now Daddy, okay?" "I wouldn't mind having a few words with him myself. Frankie, if you see any people, tell them who you are, and who your parents are, and ask them to call me immediately." "Okay Daddy!"
  • 38. "Hello Aldric. Apparently, you forgot to mention to your son that you have a brother. I find that mildly disturbing. I know you can't have forgotten about me, there's a daily reminder of my existence, staring at you in the mirror." "You're right, I should have told him. Told him the truth. You're the one that left Almeric, ran off with your tail between your legs, two steps in front of the law, or at least that's what they tell me. I wouldn't know, seeing how I was dead at the time." "Just one of the many things we need to reminisce about. Hopefully we'll find time to do that soon."
  • 39. "Let's cut to the chase Aldric. I'm not going to sit here talking to you long enough for any possible tracking device to pinpoint our location, so don't even try. Here's the thing. I think I've figured it all out, but I need your help." "My help? You took my son, and you want my help? Are you threatening me? Help you, and he'll stay safe, is that it? Everyone was right, you really are crazy." "Yeah probably, that's part of the problem. I'm not going to hurt the kid, even if you don't help me. I'd still try to keep him safe. He's part of it, you know; I think he's the key." "Part of what?"
  • 40. "See that's the thing, I don't know, not exactly. She knows, but she won't tell me." "Who?" "Mother!" "Mother's dead Almeric." "Yeah, I know. I killed her. Father too, but that was a mistake. If Father was here, he'd know what to do." "Wait; go back to the part where you said you killed our parents." "My parents."
  • 41. "I killed them, my parents. I didn't mean to, but she got me so mad that I didn't care. I left; and they died, but that doesn't matter now." "It doesn't matter? No you're right, what matters now, is that my son is with a man that admits to being a murderer. Not once but twice. Actually three times, let's not forget that you killed me." "No, the cowplant killed you, I remember that. Are you going to help me or not? I don't have much more time. I have to get the kid to safety before it gets dark."
  • 42. "Where's safety? Tell me where you're taking Frankie." "I can't tell you, not yet, you have to get the stuff. Once you have the stuff, you should know where we are. At least I think you will, it's been a long time since I've seen it." "What stuff?" "Quit yelling, and I'll tell you." "What?" Aldric looked at his wife who was trying to get his attention. "Fine you talk to him!" "Talk to whom?" Almeric was confused, and then he heard a different voice on the line. "Oh, hello Emma, how are you?"
  • 43. "How am I? How do you think I am? My son's been kidnapped by his long lost Uncle. The Uncle that, if I heard Aldric's side of the conversation correctly, is multiple murderer." "I didn't murder anyone; I don't believe that being responsible for their deaths is murder. Manslaughter maybe, or more likely it would be negligent homicide, but not murder." "So, that's where you've been hiding huh, Law School?" "I've had a lot of time to read lately. Right now though, I'm running low on both time and patience. Are you going to help me or not?" "Tell me what we need to do, to get Frankie back Almeric. Then, let me talk to him."
  • 44. "Aldric needs to clean out Father's safe." "What's in the safe Almeric? Why couldn't you get it?" "I don't know what's in the safe, not exactly. It could be an object, it could be notes, and it could be anything. Just clean out the safe and then get out of the house before it gets dark. You don't want to be there after dark." "Why not Almeric, what happens at night?" "She's going to be pissed when she can't find me. Promise me you'll do it, please Emma?"
  • 45. "You said please, I don't think I've ever heard you say that before." "I'll beg if you want me to. I don't have time to explain it. I need to get to safety before dark, so do you. Help me Emma, she'll turn on the kid if she gets the chance." "The kid has a name. Let me talk to Frankie." "Promise me Emma." "If it will get me my son back, we'll do what you're asking." "It will. Thank you Emma." Almeric sighed, then called out to Frankie, "Hey kid, your Mother wants to talk to you. Make it quick."
  • 46. "Mommy! Are you where we're going? Is it a surprise? Is it a party?" "No sweetie, Daddy and I have a few errands to run before we come join you. You'll probably be asleep by the time we get there. Maybe not, we'll see. Grandpa wants to know if you remember what road you and Uncle Almeric were on, when you left town." "Uh huh. I remember, it was the big one, the one with the store." "Come on kid tell your Mother goodbye. We need to get moving." Almeric called to Frankie. "Which big one? Which store Frankie?" "We need to get moving, bye Mommy!"
  • 47. "Our son just hung up on me. I didn't get to tell him good-bye, or that I loved him. He just said gotta go, bye, and hung up. What if something happens to him and I didn't get to say good bye?" "He's fine right now; we have to trust that he'll stay fine. He's not scared, which means Almeric isn't giving him a reason to feel unsafe. We need to try, and believe that Almeric was telling me the truth, that he doesn't want to hurt Frankie." "I don't think he does. But, not wanting to hurt someone, doesn't mean that you won't do it anyway. We need to go, we need to do something, standing around isn't helping Frankie. The only thing we can do, is get whatever it is that Almeric wants. How long will it take to get your parents house?"
  • 48. "About forty-five minutes. We need to get moving, if we're going to make by dark." "Almeric said we shouldn't be there after dark. He didn't think it was safe, something about she being mad. He also indicated, that she could find him after dark. He wanted to get himself, and Frankie to safety before then." 'She refers to my mother. Maybe he means her ghost. But, don't ghosts remain at the site of their deaths?" "Normally they do, but only because most people die at home, and home is where their ghosts most want to be. If ghosts have reason to leave home, they can. Elle swears she's seen Grandma Cass at her house. Elle believes that Grandma was checking on her, and her kids."
  • 49. "Speaking of, is everything okay? I'm worried, all this extra stress can't be good for you. Maybe you should go home, and let me go to my parents alone." "We're fine. I'd be worse sitting at home, worrying about both you, and Frankie. If I go with you, I'm doing something positive. That's much better than sitting and waiting. So let's go."
  • 50. Aldric and Emma walked over to where David was waiting. They explained, to him, where they were going, and why. David assured them, that his and Colette's final teams, were ready to head out as well. They would be out searching with the rest of the league. "Before you head out, let Randy look at your phone Aldric." David then called Randy Indie over. "You brought the new toy Bud whipped up, didn't you Primp?" David asked his lieutenant.
  • 51. "Which one? Oh the zaffer? Yeah, I got it." Looking at Aldric, Randy asked "Does you phone have caller id Al?" "Of course, but all it showed was unknown, it didn't even give a number." "Not a problem, it still recorded the number, even if it couldn't show it." Randy reached into his utility belt and pulled out a small device. Showing it to Aldric and Emma, he said "This little thing is a decoder. Unknown usually means payphone. We get the number, we can find the phone."
  • 52. "Okay, see the initial check shows 432 area code. That's northern Pickax county, by the time we get there, we should have a pinpoint on where the call came from. Having that will at least give us a new radius point, to start checking from." "Pickax country?" Aldric said, "Isn't that in the Lake Region?" "Yep, it's Three Lakes. Lakes, hills, mountains, lots of cabins, lots of resorts, way too many bears for my comfort. Boss owns a house up there doesn't he?" "Yes, we do." Emma answered then turned to her husband. "Almeric wouldn't take Frankie to our house, would he?"
  • 53. "I think that would be too obvious. You know though, we spent summers up at the Lake sometimes, when I was a kid. We didn't own a house, always stayed at the Lodge." Aldric thought about it. "Mother hated it up there, never left the hotel. Dad reveled in it though, always said that time in the valley was the cure we needed. Almeric and I loved it, especially Almeric. The last summer we spent there, he kept going off on his own, said he'd found a special place to fish." "Many bolt holes up in those mountains, people been known to walk into the hills and not be seen again for years." Randy looked over at his boss. "It's a good lead. Worth checking out at least, right?"
  • 54. Dave nodded, "Bo and I will head up there now. We'll check out the Lake House, just to be sure, and then start on the hotels." "If we started driving now, Aldric and I could be there by midnight. Maybe we can find them without Almeric's clues." Emma wanted to get to her son as soon as possible. "No, if the stuff Almeric wants will lead us right to them, that's better than just getting close." David disagreed with his daughter, "Go ahead and get it. If it's helpful, you can contact us, and we can immediately divert to them. If it's a dead end it won't delay you too much, you can come up once we have more information."
  • 55. "Don't worry Pumkin, we'll find him. Call me as soon as you have the stuff." David hugged his daughter. "I'll take care of my grandson, I promise." "I know Daddy."
  • 56. As Emma and Aldric headed for their vehicle, David assembled the two teams back on the field. "Ready to fly?" he asked. "Ready!" was the response from all.
  • 57. In concert, the two teams took to the air. The destination for most of them was Three Lakes, though some would be heading to outlying areas, in order to do aerial searches.
  • 58. The farther up the mountain they got, the more Almeric relaxed. They were going to make it, he could feel it. "Are we there yet?" Frankie asked as the car slowly came to a stop. "What did I tell you about that?" Almeric replied exasperatedly, but then he relented. "Yes, we're almost there. We've got a bit of a walk, this is as far as we can take the car. It'll be well hidden here." Opening the door, and getting out he looked at the kid. "Hopefully he'll be home."
  • 59. It was more than just a short walk. By the time Almeric and Frankie stepped into the clearing, Frankie was tired of walking. He was pretty sure he was lost as well, he'd lost track of the twists and turns they'd taken. Seeing a cabin, he hoped there'd be a fire, the rain was making him cold. As they approached the cabin, the scariest, furriest creature Frankie had ever seen, jumped out and started screaming. "No trespassing! Did you not read my signs?"
  • 60. As the creature continued to scream at them, Frankie looked around for somewhere to hide, but Almeric just stood there with an odd grin on his face. "Are you through yet Squatch? You're scaring the kid here." At his words, the furry man stopped yelling, and ran towards them with a grin on his face. Frankie wanted to scream, but he couldn't seem to make any noise.
  • 61. "Ricky!" When he reached them, the furry creature grabbed Almeric, and tossed him in the air a few times. Almeric laughed. "Hey don't kill me friend, you're too rambunctious." "Sorry Ricky," said the creature, setting his friend down carefully. "I have been concerned; you have been gone for a long time. You were supposed to be back before snowfall, but you never came."
  • 62. "I'm sorry I worried you Squatch, I would have called, but you have no phone." "They tried to put lines in my grove, but I scared them off. I do not have your need of gadgets." Then breaking into dance he grinned. "Except the music one, that one I like." "Well, you probably wouldn't get a very good connection up here. Will you invite us in? It's wet, and your greeting scared the kid." Looking over at Frankie, the creature smiled broadly. "A cub! I did not know you had a cub! Come cub we shall go inside."
  • 63. As they entered the cabin, the big creature suddenly grabbed Frankie. While he was being tossed in the air, Frankie let out a scream of fear. When he screamed, the creature set him down, and looked at him with a frown. "Do not be scared, I was only giving you the traditional welcome of my kind. If I had not done so, you might have been offended. I do not wish to offend my guests. My name is Squatch. Does Ricky's cub have a name yet?" Remembering what his father told him Frankie replied; "My name is Frankie Familiar, my parent's are Aldric and Emma Familiar their phone number is 776-2323. You need to call them, right away."
  • 64. "What is this Ricky? The cub says he is not yours. He looks very much like you though." The creature frowned. "What have you brought me?" "He's my nephew, I've told you about my brother." The two stared at each other, and then the creature nodded slowly. "Is he the one?" "I'm not sure, can't you tell? You could with me." Almeric remembered his first, frightful meeting with Squatch, when he had been a teen.
  • 65. "He has the blood, that I can tell." Looking more closely at the child, who was exploring his cabin, Squatch continued; "His blood is powerful, but is it powerful enough? I do not know." "She wants him, wants him badly. She's getting stronger, I can't fight her now." Almeric seemed to remember that Frankie was most likely listening. "I'll explain tonight." "Yes, we will need to talk this out." Turning to Frankie Squatch asked, "It is now time for dinner, I hope you like fish."
  • 66. It was worse than he'd thought it would be. All this time, he'd avoiding going home. Avoided seeing the damage for himself. Now he wished he'd been better prepared. As his wife joined him in front of his child hood home, Aldric gave a sigh. "It doesn't look like much now, but its home."
  • 67. "It's probably worse inside. You don't have to come with me, I know where to look." Aldric looked up at the top window on the right. "Almeric seemed certain it would still be there, but I can't imagine how it survived. Part of the wall in Dad's office is gone." Emma looked at the old house; it must have been nice once upon a time. "If it's there, we'll find it, together." She reached for her husband and gave him a quick hug. "Come on, it can't be that bad."
  • 68. It was worse. Charred furniture, and pieces of other items, littered the living room. There were piles of dust, ash, and who knows what all over the place. The once pristine walls were smoke damaged to the point that Emma couldn't tell what color they'd been originally.
  • 69. Emma ran her fingers over the keys of the baby grand piano. It was the only thing in the room that seemed to be in good condition. "This is perfectly in tune, someone's played it recently." "Proof that Almeric has been here at some point. He played with a passion; it was one of the things he shared with Mother." Remembering his childhood Aldric continued. "She insisted that he learn, said that all cultured people played an instrument. Almerc didn't want to take lessons, he thought they were for sissies. He got over that feeling rather quickly, and didn't care what anyone thought."
  • 70. "When I tried to copy him, Mother complained about the racket I was making. I was pretty horrible." Almeric gave a wisp of a smile. "She really hated it when Dad bought me the guitar. I wasn't allowed to play it in the house; I wonder if it's still out in the garage?" Emma stood up, "Where's this safe we're supposed to be looking for? It'll be dark soon, we should hurry." "Follow me, it's upstairs in Dad's secret office." Aldric walked back into the hallway, and started up the stairs.
  • 71. "Your Dad's office is hidden behind a bookcase?" Emma laughed, "And you think my Dad's weird." "He liked his privacy. I think he mainly used it for hiding from Mother." Aldric looked at the books on the center shelf until he found the trigger. "But, you have to admit that you're Dad, is weird. It's a good kind of weird though, usually." "Well, yeah, but Dad doesn't have a secret lair, and he's a criminal mastermind." She thought about it for a moment. "Don't tell him about this, it would just give him ideas."
  • 72. "This is what required being hidden; a desk, a bookcase, and a safe?" Emma smiled. "I think I would have liked your Dad." "He had his moments." Aldric stared at the safe in the corner of the room. "Now let's see if I can remember what the combination was." As if inspiration had struck Aldric said, "Ah hah! Now I remember. 10-30-43."
  • 73. "10-30-43 what does it signify?" Emma asked. "Dad said, it was a date in history, and that we should all remember it, with misery." As he opened the safes door, he continued. "I've looked it up, but never found anything in history books, that would indicate reason to be that remorseful about it. No battles, wars or anything; just an earthquake."
  • 74. Suddenly Aldric stood up. "That's it!" "What?" Emma asked, "What's in the safe?" "No the earthquake, on 10-30-43, there was an earthquake in the northern region of Pickaxe County. After the earthquake, the region was renamed Three Lakes due to the lakes that were formed by the quake. Not many people died, as the area wasn't very populated. Historically, it isn't considered a major catastrophe." Aldric continued, "I don't remember much more, it wasn't that interesting to me when I read it. There has to be a connection, though." "We'll look it up once we get done here. Maybe we'll find something online." Emma glanced worriedly at the windows, it was getting dark. "Is there anything inside the safe?"
  • 75. Aldric bent back to the safe, and started pulling things out of it. Once he was done, he piled them on the desk. "I think that's everything. Not a whole lot, but it's a curious mix of things." "We don't have time to go through them here, it's already dark. Almeric said we needed to be out before now." Emma didn't know what to believe when it came to Almeric, but better safe than sorry. "My mother ignored me while she was alive. I can't believe that she'd change, now that she's dead."
  • 76. "Then again, I could be wrong." "Of course you are wrong, why spoil your record now?" Lisette Davis's voice was just as shrill as he'd remembered it being. "Mother!" "Do not call me that. I tolerated it while your Father was alive, but I will not hear it now." She most likely would have continued her barrage, but like most ghosts she quickly faded away.
  • 77. "I take it that was your mother?" Emma cringed, "She seemed like a lovely woman. I'm sorry I never met her." "Yeah, that was Mommy Dearest." Aldric checked to be sure that his heart was still beating. "Okay, I'm convinced now. Let's leave"
  • 78. Aldric quickly shoved the objects from the safe, into a bag that they'd brought along. "Go ahead, and open the door I'm right behind you. Trigger should be the sixth from the left, on the fourth row." "Hurry!" Emma told him, as she walked to the bookcase, and started counting off books.
  • 79. Emma reached the bottom of the stairs, and then turned to see if Aldric was behind her yet. Seeing his sneakers on the top of the stairs, she started for the door. "So you are the heiress?" Lisette screeched, as she appeared in front of Emma. "Pitiful thing aren't you? No wonder my son was reluctant to pursue you. I failed to give Almeric enough credit." "You forget that you have two sons." Emma panted. "I forget nothing." was Lisette's reply as she once again faded.
  • 80. Aldric came up beside his wife. "Are you okay? We're almost out, but catch your breath. She'll need time to repower." "Wrong again Aldric! You really should not try to think." Lisette was feeding on the fear that the scaring had generated. "I can go all night! Drop the bag, and run if you value your lives." They might have done just that, if not for a providential occurrence
  • 81. As Lisette pounced once again at Aldric, the bag he was carrying; flew above his head, upsetting the contents. One of the items dropped out, and onto the floor. Emma glanced down hoping to see where it landed, in order to grab it on the run. It was a small jewelry box. As the box hit the floor, the lid popped open, and the ring within it fell out, landing with a bounce, near the box. The ring shimmered.
  • 82. As the ring shimmered, Lisette screeched, trying to shrink away from the glow. "What's happening to her Aldric?" Emma had seen a lot of ghosts, but none of them had ever done anything like this. Lisette's ghostly form seemed to shrink away, as if she were being overpowered by a force greater than she was. Whatever that force was seemed to sap her power, and she began to fade. "I think it's the ring. Whatever it is, we should take advantage, and leave now. It might not be a permanent reaction."
  • 83. "Let me just grab the ring, I don't want her to catch up with us outside." Emma bent down and grabbed both the ring, and the box, stuffing them into her pocket as she stood. "We'll want to have this tested to see what it's made out of." Looking up at Aldric she grinned. "Got it, now let's jet."
  • 84. As they ran out the door of the house, and down the sidewalk; the two goons that had been assigned by Emma's father to watch the house looked up from their newspapers. "You guys okay? We were starting to get worried what with the screaming." Emma and Aldric looked at each other, and burst into nervous laughter. "Yeah we're fine Kennedy, thanks for the concern." "Boss told us not to enter the house, gotta do what Boss says or he gets upset. It's not good to upset the Boss."
  • 85. It had been an exhausting day, but it had been exciting as well. By the time, he'd eaten a full plate of Rainbow Trout; Frankie was more than ready to accept his Uncle's suggestion that he should try to get some sleep. Of course, he wouldn't have been a kid, if he hadn't have protested being sent to bed, so he put up a token effort. The effort had proven worthwhile. His Uncle had started rubbing his neck, and wondering aloud why anyone wanted kids. Squatch had only laughed, and after tossing Frankie in the air a few times, sung him to sleep
  • 86. Once they were sure Frankie was asleep, the two old friends sat by the fire, and started talking in low voices. "Why did you bring Frankie here without his Father? The father, will need protection as well." "I couldn't just ask him to come with me, he wouldn't have. His wife's family is extremely tight, and they are all on guard against me. Arranging things so that I could get the kid out of their web was hard enough. Getting Aldric as well, would have been impossible." Almeric shook his head at his friend. "He'll be here soon; they want the kid so they'll come for him. Once they are in the area you'll know."
  • 87. "Did you find the item I told you about? The one you went to get?" "I wasn't able to reach it. I made an error when I first returned home, and took the time to indulge myself. Once night fell she found me. She's gotten stronger, and even after all the time I had spent here, I wasn't able to fight her off." Almeric stared into the fire "I couldn't return to the house during the day, there were guards watching. At night, I wasn't in control. When I resisted she did something to me, and I didn't even have my days. I lost time again. I have blank spaces, that I can't piece together. I don't know if I want to. When I had them in college, my brother died." "You will rectify that when you save him this time."
  • 88. "Nothing can rectify that." _______________ . . .to be continued in chapter 29.2