Deep Red, Chapter Twenty-Six

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February 26, 1941: Maggie is with child and she is going to marry. She will be the first Cayce woman to marry in as many centuries as I can recall, with the exception of Mary, whom I never knew. She must have been the last in my line of women until now. Maggie will be married from Haven to a man named Howard. He teaches Otherworld history and current events. I find it difficult to believe that a man who has been at Haven for the last twenty years would know much about the current world, but he is a voracious reader, so he at least knows the theories behind real life. He and Maggie plan to live here and raise their child in the old ways–the ways of the Counsel. I have been certain not to tell Maggie about the past of her grandmother or great grandmother, for fear that Victoria or Jack might view her as a potential radical…April 26, 1941: We received word that Owen died. For a changeling, he had a remarkably short life. His sons will take over care of the ranch, as Owen’s wife has chosen to move to San Francisco to live with family. The Counsel continues to monitor Owen’s family very closely. If Owen fostered any sort of rebellious nature in his sons, they keep it well-hidden, as do I. Garrett, Derek and I never speak of times past. Sometimes one of them will exchange a meaningful look with me as we pass in the hallways, but I can never be certain if the moment is real or imagined. These imagined moments, however, are all that keep me from losing my sense of what has occurred. When the past becomes invisible, there is no context for the lives lost or the sacrifices. My life here is a sacrifice. I cannot justify all I have done or all that continues to occur at Haven. All I can hope for is what my mother hoped for in my generation: that someone will some day make all that has gone wrong worth something, make it meaningful…December 11, 1941: the human world is, once more, in chaos. The meaning of all these struggles is lost on us, not only because the information about the human crises comes to us in drips and drabs, but also because the Counsel only sees these occurrences as impediments to their current plans and justification for their future plans. Maggie’s husband has actually proven a useful tool for gathering what was, is and will be. He confides in Maggie with such trust, and she passes the information to me. I have begun compiling all of Howard’s confessions into a separate anthology. I hope they will be useful some day. That hope, at least, provides me with some feeling of value, and it allows me to believe I am keeping the memory of my mother alive, even when all others pretend there is no such creature as Memory. We are all forced into a ridiculous, false amnesia. An unremembered past is doomed to repeat itself. Or worse…

excerpts from The Diary of Dorothy Cayce, 1941, trans. Bobbi Cayce, 1983

Steve's room_ch26

Chapter Twenty-Six

It’s Only Natural

When Marlo came out of the temple, she looked haunted and, somehow, wiser. Jack couldn’t ask what happened, though he already knew what Q’s mission was. How Q would accomplish such a vague task, Jack couldn’t tell. It probably had something to do with advanced magic, he reasoned. Whatever the case, it had little to do with him, at least for the time being. Though Jack had little experience with Q, he trusted that their intentions were aligned.

For the rest of the day, Jack followed Marlo from appointment to appointment, all in silence. She spoke little to Isabelle when she and Jack told Marlo about their intent for her calisthenic regiment, which would be supplemented with yoga and other core training. Marlo hugged Katrina when they met in the physical therapy room, with its medicine balls, small weights and massage table surrounded by mirrors and more plants.

Marlo and Katrina sat in silence for almost an hour. Jack suspected their spirits were communing, but had no proof. If Marlo’s spirit could talk without Marlo knowing what was said, then Rayne’s carefully planned monitoring of Marlo might actually have a flaw. The idea gave Jack a small sense of gratification. While the possibility ran counter to his job and objectives of the Counsel, he liked that the infallibility Victoria and Rayne clung to was, indeed, an illusion.

After Katrina checked Marlo’s joints for swelling and reported a clean bill of health to Jack, he and Marlo proceeded to visit Zoe in the hospital wing, where Zoe checked Marlo’s vitals and, like Katrina, found nothing more abnormal than was usual. Marlo’s change had, Zoe said, left very little residual damage, which was unusual for initial transformations.

Once Zoe released Marlo, Jack and Marlo descended below the house to meet Steve in his Batcave. Once Jack and Marlo made it past the heavy locks and complex security features, they entered a tricked out room that covered at least half of Haven’s underground. With a personal library and all the computer surveillance equipment at Haven, Steve’s room was something Jack had always suspected existed at Haven, but had never seen. Jack’s eyes flicked across a few hundred screens, watching various Otherworlders conduct their daily lives. The few the Counsel still had control over had submitted to this kind of scrutiny only because the Counsel said their anarchist Otherworld brothers and sisters might pay them a visit at any time, either directly or covertly. Oh, Jack thought, how much we can do with the illusion of security. Over the past seven years, only one of those people up on the screens had been contacted by one of Beth’s Kids–which was what they had started calling the rebellious faction about fifty years ago. The incident was minor, seemingly harmless, and the culprit was captured and interrogated, for all the good it did. The man died of an embolism half-way through the process, and never revealed a single secret. For all Jack knew, all the people on the screens could be members of BK. The only people he trusted were here at Haven.

Steve talked at Marlo for an hour with barely a pause for breath. He told Marlo about her reading and the ancient texts she would have to read. He told her that he would start teaching her how to use some of the Otherworld technology in time, but his objective, for the time being, was history.

“I’m the first changeling to be in charge of the archives,” Steve said. He seemed inordinately proud of this fact. When Howard died, the Counsel took thirty years to find a replacement, but Steve was likely chosen because of nepotism than skill. His real talent seemed to be in keeping all this tech straight, which neither Jack or any of the dinosaurs in Haven could do so well as this kid.

After Steve finished rattling off some boring information about the old books, he directed Marlo’s attention to the screens.

“And here you’ll see all of our surveillance, which primarily involves high-ranking Counsel officials and, of course, active members of the 3/3.”

“3 of 3?” Marlo asked. “What does that mean?”

“It’s the name of those of you born on the 3rd of March in 1983. If you add up the numbers in 1983, the final product is also 3.”

“So, it’s really 3 of 3 of 3?”

“Yeah, but that’’s not nearly as svet-sounding as 3/3, now is it?” Steve said. Marlo laughed.

“How old are you?” Marlo asked.

“Twenty-one in body, but probably still thirteen or fourteen in spirit,” Steve said.

Marlo laughed again. “Good that you can admit it,” she said. “How did you end up here?”

“I was born here,” he said. “Isabelle’s my mother.”

Marlo nodded. “Such a close family here at Haven,” she said. Jack detected a note of irony in her voice and wondered how much she really knew. Had Lucy told Marlo anything about the core Counsel families over the years?

Jack waited as Marlo listened to Steve’s complex jargon and laughed occasionally at his geek humor, which she seemed to share. All the while, her mind seemed focused on Steve’s words, but her energy seemed somewhere else. What happened in that temple? he wondered again.

When they left Steve’s room, Marlo’s arms were laden with books, or “light reading,” as Steve called it. “You’ll probably have some insomnia over the next few weeks,” Steve said. “It’s common after initial changes. These might help you pass the nights.”

Marlo thanked him before she and Jack travelled back into the light. Only a changeling would feel at ease in a place like Steve’s room, Jack thought. Volemics could never be so far removed from the sun or reality. Surveilling Marlo had been dull and tedious at the best of times, but Steve’s world was a different kind of voyeurism that did not appeal to Jack. Jack pictured Steve with his pale skin and hollow eyes pouring over those screens 24 hours/day. Jack would rather stick his hand in a blender.

Their last stop was Victoria’s office where Drew, Rayne and Victoria waited to hear about Marlo’s progress. Jack gave them a basic run-down of Marlo’s day as Marlo continued to appear engaged while remaining disengaged. Jack and Drew both accompanied Marlo to her room, and Drew resumed his place in the chair outside her door.

If that’s the way Victoria wants it, Jack thought, then that’s the way it would be. He wondered how the boy had managed to worm himself into Victoria’s trust so implicitly. Victoria clearly still didn’t trust Jack, even after all these years. He went back to his room wondering, for the thousandth time in over three hundred years, what the hell he was doing in this reality.

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Chapter Twenty-Seven→