Friday, November 25, 2005


the child, part 3, chapter 6 - 'first report'

***for the past couple of weeks, i have been thinking that there was a part here that just didn't fit with the rest of the timeline of the search for Walker. so today i rewrote it. i also found that what i had written here and in chapter 12, 'ginger' didn't fit well together - so i did some rewriting over there as well. hope it all flows better now.***

At the end of that first day in the fortress, when it was time to go downstairs and report to Maccabees, Lucy was feeling so very embarrassed. They had not found Walker, and they also had not talked to Ginger yet. Hardly anything accomplished on their mission! What was Mac going to think of them?

He was silent for a bit after Linda told him of what they had done that day - and what they hadn't done. Finally, he said, 'Well. I have not spoken to Beatriz yet either. Would you like me to help you search for Walker?'

Thinking of how hard the work had been today, cleaning all those rooms, Linda immediately responded, 'Oh, yes, please.'

At the same breath, Lucy was saying, 'But you have your own work to do: making contact with Beatriz, searching your own level...'

'I have already finished searching my level.'

'No way!' said Linda.

And Lucy said, 'But it took us all day just to search one corridor.'

'I search in a different way,' Mac replied. 'I can come and help you search as soon as I've reported in to Jack and Morgenstern. Would you like me to?'

'Uh...' said Linda, and looked at Lucy.

And Lucy grimaced a bit. 'It's not that we don't appreciate the offer, Mac. But we are so tired. You have no idea how tired we are.'

'I just want to get back to the closet and sleep,' added Linda.

Mac smiled. 'Do this first: come downstairs with me as I make my report.' And at their dismayed looks, he added, 'You may see something to energize you.'


Down the stairs they went, quietly, carefully. And there they found Jack and Morgen waiting for them - along with a new brother named Stephen. And, oh! there was joy in the meeting!

Morgen passed on to Maccabees the Master's new orders for him to search the level just above his. The group talked a while longer, catching up on what had happened that day, as well as what had not happened, and then Mac and the ladies headed back upstairs.

'You are glad you came with me, aren't you?' said Maccabees.

'Yes...' said Lucy.

'...but still exhausted,' added Linda.

'You do not desire my help in searching your level?' said he.

'Oh, we do, Mac. We really appreciate your offer. It's just that... maybe tomorrow?'

'I think,' he said quietly, 'that right now would be better.'

'Oh, come on, Mac,' said Lucy. 'We need sleep. Don't you ever sleep?'

'It is just that I believe you will find that you have a bit more energy for the work right now than you think you have.'

Lucy scowled at him. 'Well, we don't,' she said shortly. And said no more the rest of the way upstairs.

When they reached the door at the top of the stairs now. Mac paused before opening it, listening for any sound on the other side. Satisfied, he whispered to them, 'You are sure that you will not accept my help with the search even now? It is no bother for me to...'

'Mac,' Lucy interrupted. 'Just give it a rest, ok?'

'It and us,' mumbled Linda. Her eyes were so droopy now, she could barely keep them open.

Mac nodded. 'Very well then,' said he. 'I will only ask that you do for me a small favor.'

'Oh, please let it be a quick one!' Linda yawned.

Crossing her arms, Lucy asked, 'What's the favor then?'

'You have said that you left a note in Ginger's room today.'

'Yes. So?'

And as Mac pushed the door silently open, he whispered, 'I only ask that, as you go towards the broom closet to take your rest, you stop and peek in at Ginger's door to see if she has read it.'


As Maccabees left the ladies at the staircase door and went back down to the level between his and theirs to make search, Jack, Morgen, and Stephen were arriving downstairs to check in with Malachi and Joy.

'How wonderful!' Joy exclaimed in a whisper, greeting Stephen with a big hug. 'We'll be meeting with Talia as soon as we get back from talking with James and Forest.' Quickly the two groups exchanged their information, then the three went back upstairs to search for Walker on the level between theirs and Mac's, while Joy and Malachi slipped quietly downstairs to see James and Forest.

The pair of them listened quietly to Joy's breathless report of all that had gone on upstairs all that first day. 'But the best part,' she rejoiced, 'is about Stephen. Isn't that great?'

'Yeah,' Forest nodded. 'That's really good.'

Joy frowned and looked carefully at Forest, then turned and studied James as well. Neither one of them looked particularly glad at the great good news she'd just delivered to them. 'Something wrong?' she asked. 'I mean, I didn't expect the two of you to jump up and down with glee - although you might have, Forest...'

'Did something go wrong?' Malachi asked quietly.

'Well...' said Forest. 'Not exactly.'

'Saw Logan,' put in James.

'You talked with Logan?' Joy beamed.

'Well...' said Forest. 'Not exactly.'

And James took a sudden interest in studying the floor.

Joy looked back and forth at the two of them. 'So...?' said she.

Forest sighed. 'We were going to talk to him. We saw him as some guards led him to his cell right after we got here last night. And...' He trailed off and glanced at James.

James waved a hand at him to go on.

'...and we figured we'd give it about an hour, you know, to let everyone get good asleep before we going to see Logan.' Forest glanced again at James, who again waved for him to continue.

'So we went to the broom closet first, figuring we'd hide there for a bit while we waited...' Once more, Forest stopped talking and glanced at James. Only James didn't motion for him to go on.

So Forest didn't.

The silence stretched on, till at last Malachi asked, 'What happened?'

'Umm...' And now Forest took a very strong interest in studying the floor. 'We, uh... well, we...'

'We fell asleep,' rasped James.

'Fell asleep?' Joy echoed.

Forest nodded miserably. 'And by the time we woke up, everyone was up for the day.' He reached up and scratched at the nape of his neck. 'Well, we did slip out of the closet and do some searching for Walker.' A sigh. 'At least we did that much.'

'Didn't find him,' James added.

Joy was stunned. 'But how did you search for him during the day, with everyone about?'

And Malachi asked, 'What do they do all day, on that level?'

'Fight,' said Forest. 'Basically.'

'Fight?' said Joy. 'They fight?'

'Most of the time, yes. A couple of guys at a time, while the others make bets on who's going to win.'

Joy stared at them. 'But that's dumb!' she blurted.

Forest shrugged. 'They seem to enjoy it. Makes them feel alive, at least.'

'Until they get alone, and feel empty,' Mal observed.

'Yeah. Like our friend Logan.'

'And no one noticed you, right in the middle of them?' Joy asked. 'No one noticed you have no chains?'

'Not yet,' grinned Forest. And for the first time that evening, the boy actually began to look like himself.

'We need to go meet with Talia now,' said Malachi. Quick good-byes, and then he and Joy hurried back upstairs to keep their appointment.

While James and Forest slipped down the stairs to the lowest dungeon. Quietly they went, into the deepest gloom of the whole place. Forest was reaching his hand out to grasp the handle to the door at the bottom of the steps.

When the door started to open.

Instantly, the pair of them sprang behind the door, peering into the dark, hoping not to see a guard coming through that door.

Breathlessly they watched, squinting to see who this was. They saw... they saw...

They saw a big man with a sword strapped to his side. Stone!

He saw them at the same moment, and dropped immediately into a stance, hand on his hilt. 'Who...?' he whispered.

'Just us, Stone,' James replied, wincing at the pain still lingering in his abused face.

Swiftly, Forest made their report to their friend of all that had happened to everyone upstairs. And then, frowning, the boy asked, 'But, um - where's Starr? She didn't come with you?'

'Ah,' said Stone. 'Well, that's a story. Let me tell you what happened with us today.'

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