Deep Red, Chapter Twenty-One

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June 3, 1895: Beth sent me a letter from Chicago. It is the first I’ve heard from her since she and the others left eight years ago. She and Walker have both had children. The babies were born on the same day: May 5 of this year. Dorothy–a name that seems to persist, despite its associations–and Owen are the only first-born Otherworld children to be born outside the protection of the Counsel. The group will likely remain in Chicago, which means they will also be the first to avoid a place in the legacy that seems so important to the Cayces and Shinabs. I have a sense that Beth, Walker and Garrett intend to start a sort of resistance. Against the Counsel or the Residents, I do not know. A name like Dorothy, alone, would indicate the wish for justice to be served. Garrett might feel a need to avenge his sister, though he was born seventy-four years after her death. From her letter, I also suspect that Beth and Garrett have become lovers, and perhaps Beth and Owen and Garrett and Owen, as well. According to Beth, all three are living together in close quarters, sharing the responsibility of the children, and protecting one another, but Beth mentioned no one else sharing the residence, and her language indicates some sort of unorthodoxy. I am not as shy about speculation as Caroline once was. I suspect that if the laws regarding family had not been written back in the early 1700s, many of these kinds of living situations would have been established. The freedom expected from the Crossing and the freedom granted sprung from two very different ideals. Beth, Walker and Garrett all share the same longings: acceptance, love, warmth and family. Perhaps they will find these treasures together….

excerpts from The Diary of Constance Cayce, 1875-1887, trans. Bobbi Cayce, 1983

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Chapter Twenty-One

The Nature of Loyalty

Marlo stayed in the cabin’s cell for the remaining two days. She ate the food they brought her, sat alone when she was awake, and when she slept Jack was in her dreams with her, but he never came back into the cell. Even in the dreams, he kept his distance and did not speak to her. He insured that she stayed out of the clearing, and when the dark presence approached, he would guide her to another part of her mind. But their interaction never went beyond that. Sometimes there was a woman in Marlo’s dreams that looked a lot like Q, but she would appear and then disappear into the darkness of Marlo’s brain. Q, however, never returned.

Marlo tried to focus on getting out, on getting better. Q promised that he would help her, but she had to wait until after she got out of the cabin.

When she returned to the house, everything seemed the same. Somehow she expected the children to be more afraid of her, or that the staff would know about her, but nothing changed. Even the children who were with her in the cabin had no idea what happened.

After Marlo showered and changed into her regular clothes, she stepped out of the room and found Jack sitting in Drew’s chair. “Victoria wants to see you,” he said.

“What does she want?” she asked.

“I don’t know, but she saw the footage of you before you changed, when you were…” Jack said.

“When I was what?”

“Unconscious.”

“When do I get to know what happened?”

“It’s really not that important.”

“Bullshit.”

“It’s not ‘bullshit.’ If it was important, I would tell you,” Jack said.

“I have no idea why you, of all people, won’t tell me what’s going on. Of course it’s important or Victoria wouldn’t be asking to see me. You would have come back into the cell with me. I wouldn’t have been in solitary confinement for almost three days. Whatever is going on is bullshit, and I’m tired of it.”

“My job is to protect you, not to be your friend. And you don’t need to know everything.”

“And what has ignorance gotten me so far?” Jack didn’t answer. “You were in love with Margaret, Jack.” Marlo’s guess was confirmed by the look on Jack’s face. “It was in your voice when you were talking about her plan for this reality, and about my ancestral line. It’s in your protection over me. Am I wrong?” Jack didn’t answer, which made Marlo frown. “What are you loyal to, Jack?”

“The Counsel first. Always.”

“Then how do I know that you aren’t hiding the truth from me because they want you to?” she asked.

“The Counsel isn’t this insidious organization that wants to carry out its dark plans.” Marlo would beg to differ after Jack’s description of their vision for this reality, but she didn’t interrupt him. “They want to make sure you are safe, that you are able to come through all of this in one piece, and that you can help them accomplish the second crossing. You’re going to be a soldier, like I was. Like I am. If you want to do better than I did, then just accept that some things are out of your control and that there is information that you don’t need in order to fulfill your mission.”

“So, I just become a mindless weapon? What happened to my intelligence being an asset.”

“It will be, but intelligence can be used for more than asking pointless questions that will get you killed.” He was almost yelling, and seemed surprised by what he’d said.

“Is that what you think of Isaak’s death? Of all the deaths? I went to three funerals the year my mother died. Are all of those pointless?”

“Yes,” Jack said. Marlo balked. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. How could a man like this love the former owner of her spirit?

“I learned a long time ago that surviving is more important than thriving,” Jack continued. “I watched so many of my friends die over the years. Not because of age or disease, or even the Mirrors, though those things were part of it, too. They died trying to fight what is inevitable. The destiny of this world is set in motion. You can either go with the stream or get sucked under.” Jack’s eyes glazed over. “Have you ever smelled flesh burning. The flesh of a person? Have you ever watched someone you created, someone you loved, become a tormented, shrieking ball of fire? A sacrifice?” Jack’s voice trailed off.

“What do you mean, ‘Sacrifice?’” Marlo asked.

Jack snapped back into himself. “I’m just telling you what I have said before. Your best interests are important to me. Your loyalty, like mine, must be to the Counsel. First. Always. Do what they say and you will live. Fight, and you will die, like Isaak. Like the others.”

Jack walked past her and she followed him downstairs to Victoria’s office. Marlo didn’t know what else to do but follow. It wasn’t in her nature to follow, but this might only be the beginning. She didn’t see the point of survival without the freedom to thrive. Maybe she would have to start. You’ve been selfish long enough. Between the two of us, we can be part of something greater. Marlo couldn’t believe it was the same voice as before. What happened during those nights in the cabin? The voice had changed sides. If it’s not on mine, Marlo wondered. Then whose is it on? Without her noticing much of a change, a new wall went up inside her.

Chapter Twenty-Two→