Deep Red, Chapter Thirteen

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December 1, 1811: I continue making discoveries from the Otherworld texts, but none have led me to any conclusions about the hybrid. There is information about the philosophical and political systems that developed around the time that Margaret devised the crossing. I see many similar systems in this world … April 29, 1820: We are moving again, this time further west. Mary will not be able to make the journey. She has developed the first known illness, which neither existed in the other world nor exists in its present form in this world. Victoria and I have analyzed Mary and her various excretions, and have determined that fatality is inevitable. Mary has asked us to leave her. Her husband will stay with her until both pass on. I’d imagine that he won’t be far behind her, as he seems to have contracted the disease. All other kindred in our group (though sparsely numbered) remain immune. Her daughters, Meg, Caroline and Sarah will travel on with us. Sarah, has taken to Jonah. I believe that the cycle may never end. I have already told Jonah that he must not fall in love where there is no possibility of requital. He tells me he is too pragmatic to fall in love. I replied that I was once to practical to fall in love with Sarah’s mother … May 24, 1823: Jonah has married and ended my fears. Sarah tells him she will die an old maid, but Cayce women claim romance while they practice logic. Her heart will not be broken long … September 21, 1824: Our new home is very close to where my grandfather came through to this world. There are not many people in the Kansas Territory, so we will be able to stay longer than in our previous homes … November 3, 1824: The Counsel remains ever the same. I just came across an old charter from the early days of the Crossing. The names are all in the Otherworld language, but the Counsel’s primordial, who now calls herself Rayne, claims to have been at the original signing. She pointed out the names to me. One belongs to Margaret, and the only male volemic on the charter is the man I know as Jack. I wonder if he is the same man Mary spoke of. He has never–at least to my knowledge–had children, and he is a well-known brigand. He disappears with a woman for months at a time, only to return her as half of what she was. I am happy to never have had daughters, and that my sisters have scattered to the winds. Jack fights for glory, for Victoria and her young son, Garrett, for the Cayces, and little else….

excerpts from The Notes of Jacob Shinab, 1811-1824, ed. by Jonah Shinab, 1849
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Chapter Thirteen

Blood Loyalty

Jack returned to Haven just before the sun receded behind the mountains. He disliked these long January nights. While they were beneficial for vampires, volemic powers fared much better with prolonged sun-exposure. Most of his time over the last week had been spent outside by the pool at a rundown, volemic-operated motel/brothel in Las Vegas. Every moment he stayed away, he had to tell himself that he was doing the right thing. He wasn’t abandoning her. No, he was resting, preparing for the coming storm. The self-talk didn’t help much. He was beginning to think the difference between human and Otherworld psychobabble was fairly narrow. He had been tethered to her for twenty years. His vacation taught him only one thing: he feared the idea of that tether snapping.

The night Jack left Haven, the boy, Drew, took Marlo from the hospital wing to one of the secluded rooms in the northwest side of Haven’s dorms. Jack strongly objected to leaving Marlo in Drew’s care. Apparently, this boy’s job at Haven was as an enforcer, of sorts. He handled all of the student outbursts, and with a more gentle hand than Jack was used to applying. Drew’s prodigious size eased Jack’s worry somewhat. The more blood, the stronger the volemic, and the more powerful the magic, but Victoria would not tell Jack what the boy’s power was. And Drew was just so young. Jack remembered being that young. Victoria remembered Jack being young, too, and assured him that Drew was much more mature and capable than Jack had been at twenty-six.

Jack wanted to believe he had changed over the years he’d spent guarding Marlo, but he slid back into his past self so easily. Despite his worries and guilt, he still wanted sex and drug-soaked oblivion more than his duties. The strain in Victoria’s voice when she called him back to Haven, and the words “full moon,” “guardian” and “danger” barely broke through the haze. Victoria’s winning, yet low, blow came when she said, “Marlo needs you, Jack. Stop being so self-destructive and get back here.” Though the different needs that called him back to duty changed over the years, Victoria’s ever-triumphant verbal thrashings changed little.

Jack went straight to the bedroom Victoria assigned him, glad that he had gotten some fun out of the way. He knew he’d just enjoyed his last break for what might be another twenty years.

Though he didn’t need to sleep, he did meditate, which kept him more calm than all the sex and human viscera this reality could offer. His friend, Will, had taught him meditation after Margaret married that idiot from the Counsel, and Jack had suffered the first of his many lapses. So many times, he’d wanted to go back to the Otherworld, but the Counsel kept making new promises. A better world. A better life. A chance to make these under-evolved apes into something.

Back when Isaak had made plans to return to their world, Jack was tempted to go. More than anything, however, he’d wanted to protect Isaak. He was Margaret’s kin. Then the Counsel had used Jack’s blood and his loyalty against him by tracking Isaak, Marlo, and the other anarchists to the portal, killing Isaak and dozens of others. Jack followed Marlo into custody until she had been released into Lucy’s care. Lucy’s actions of keeping Marlo’s identity secret from her peers had warranted barely a wrist slap from the Counsel.

Jack’s judgment hadn’t been so lenient. If not for his blood tie to Marlo, and her immediate defection, Jack would have been imprisoned for life, or executed. He also suspected that Lucy and Victoria had pulled for him when They were deciding what to do with him. He had once been one of them, but for so long they had regarded him as a screw up. But he was a loyal screw up, and They had decided that his actions did not warrant throwing away such an important resource, especially once they had convinced him that their plan for this reality was solid.

When the sun began to rise again, Jack steeled himself for his first true meeting with Marlo. After a long and tiresome talk the previous night, Victoria told him to go with Marlo and the other children to the cabin. He began to feel once more that his loyalty to Victoria and the Cayce line might be the end of him.

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Chapter Fourteen→