Deep Red, Chapter Twenty-Five
June 12, 1915: I received word that Walker is dead and my mother is missing. Owen is devastated and has threatened to take on the Counsel himself. Derek, for once, has taken the more sensible approach. Since he will live the longest, he might be the only person to actually see justice served. My great-grandmother, Constance, is also dead, and Garrett beckons us to come to Colorado. He told me that if our plan failed he would rejoin the Counsel. Now, he writes that we should also abandon all we are and have ever known to become part of what he, what our mother and father Walker, hated. There must be some part of this I don’t understand. Garrett is my father, all but by blood. He must have a plan. I know that several generations of Cayce women kept journals. That they led a silent rebellion of words for years. Perhaps if I was at Haven I could continue their work…January 5, 1916: Owen has moved all of us to Northern California, including our Resident allies. Derek follows wherever we go, for now, but I believe he will soon join his father. He knew so little of his place in the world when this all began, and now he is searching. I have Maggie, and Owen is making plans to start a family of his own. We have heard nothing from Garrett in the last few months…May 7, 1917: Owen’s wife gave birth to Benjamin II on the third of this month. We are all happy to bring a new Shinab into this world, except Derek who says that this new generation’s birth is going to make it harder for him to leave. He must leave, though. There is nothing left for him here. Owen’s wife, like all the Shinab wives, is from a long line of changelings that came before our ancestors crossed here. He treats her like any man of this country, though he has always shown me nothing but respect. He even supports women’s suffrage, but only for unmarried women, like myself. He tells the local Resident humans that my husband died on our journey out here. I never thought we would get so far from our original values. Without guidance from the old generations, however, we have degenerated and become more like the Residents with each passing year…March 17, 1923: Owen’s wife has been breeding since Benjamin was born. Twins two years ago, and then another set this year. All I have is Maggie. All I need is Maggie. I hear reports from Chicago of decadence and wish we had stayed. All there is in this dusty West is hard women and equally hard men. People believe I am weak, that Maggie is weak, because we do not callus or weather like the Western women. I suppose we kindred have our own aging curse to contend with…April 28, 1929: The country has failed, and Owen has completely given himself over to the world. He started a ranch five years ago with this woman he chose to marry. I grow older with each moment, though I am not yet broken. After the most recent request from both Garrett and Derek, I will venture East once more, back into the mouth of the monster….
excerpts from The Diary of Dorothy Cayce, 1915-1930, trans. Bobbi Cayce, 1978
Marlo followed Jack to the temple, where they would be meeting Q. She remained silent, processing all that had happened since she returned from the cabin. How could any part of her, even something as deeply scarred as an inner child, betray her? Even at her worst, at her most self-destructive, she had been acting in what she saw as her best interest. It had been in her best interest to separate from Lucy and Victoria and their impossible standards for her. It had been necessary to execute a demolition for what they had built with their defective blueprints. Then she had rebuilt according to her own standards. Now she couldn’t trust her thoughts. Her inner child controlled the wolf, and Rayne controlled the child. Anything she said or did could be used against her. If they didn’t like how Marlo was acting or what she wanted, then they could probably find a way to let the kid out. To let her take over.
“What are you thinking?” Jack asked.
“I’m thinking…you were right,” she said.
“About everything. I’m not a person anymore, Jack. I’m a tool.”
“You’re more than that,” he said.
“I heard you and Victoria talking,” Marlo said.
“Through the walls?”
“If I concentrate, I seem to be able to hear just about anything I want to,” she said. “She said I’m a key to some kind of future she and the Counsel have dreamed up. I know I shouldn’t be–I know how much hurt I caused–but I’m glad for those years. With the humans, I was free. Or as free as I’m ever going to be.”
“You sound like you’ve given up,” Jack said.
“I’ve resigned. There’s a difference.”
Jack nodded, as if thinking, his eyes far away again. They approached the temple and he hung back as she opened the door. “You aren’t coming?” she asked.
“I’ll wait out here,” he said.
Marlo smiled in appreciation. She didn’t resent Jack. She just wanted to be alone. Being with Q was a little like being alone. She could just exist in his space. She opened the door to the temple and saw Q once more straddling the third and fourth dimensions at the front of the room. She walked up to where he sat and positioned herself across from him, waiting for him to come back.
After what seemed like an hour, though it was likely only five minutes, Q came into full focus. “Are you ready?”
“For what?” Marlo asked.
“They really are treating you like a soldier. My, my.”
Marlo narrowed her eyes. She could handle just about anything, but condescension was more than she could bear. “And what the hell are you?” she asked. “We’re all players in this ridiculous game of theirs. You’re no different from me.”
“Oh, we’re a little different, but you aren’t far off. They use me, and they’ll continue using me. I will accept being used because I want to find an answer to my questions,” Q said.
“And what sort of questions are those?” she asked.
“Maybe someday you will be ready to know, but today your preparation needs to be in the form of Will.”
“As in will power?” Marlo asked.
Q smiled. “Of course.” Q stood and lifted her to her feet. “You move your spirit through Will, yes?”
“It’s become second nature, for the most part, but, yeah, I guess.”
“Have you ever willed your spirit to become part of something else?”
She looked away. She had her spirit do a lot of things. It once entered a little boy and made him throw up because he was picking on her. She had commanded it to induce unconsciousness in people when she was really sick with cravings for the meth, and then she would steal their money or their property, or, in some cases, their drugs. Her spirit never admonished her, but it never gave its approval, either. It’s standards for right and wrong were so far above her. Or maybe they didn’t exist at all.
“Okay,” Q said, as if she had answered him. “Have you ever willed it to be a part of yourself?”
“Of course,” she said. “It goes into its home.”
“Your solar plexus.”
“Where else would it go?” Marlo asked.
Q flashed her his enigmatic sprite grin. “Oh, everywhere.”
Marlo swallowed the bit of bile that somehow roused from those words. What the hell did he mean?
“Call your spirit out,” Q said. Marlo did as commanded and waited. “Now instruct it to become one with your right arm.”
“And?” she said.
“Do it and you’ll find out what comes after ‘And?'” he said.
Her question echoed in its mocking tone off the walls in the temple. She willed her spirit into her arm. The feeling was so different from when it was a part of her core. Her arm felt both warm and cold, like a stone sitting out for a hundred years, absorbing the sun and weathering the winds and rains. It felt incredible. Powerful.
“Holy shit!” Marlo said.
“I can’t believe that worked,” Q said, laughing. The surprise in his voice would have struck her harder if she could take her attention away from what seemed like a new limb. “Try moving it to your left leg.” She did, and the incredible sensation moved, but it was the same. Unbreakable, she thought. She wondered if she could spread it throughout her entire body. With her mind intent on building armor, she lost track of it location and destination. She tried to put it back, but it was too late, and her world went black.
When she opened her eyes, she was still standing, but with Q’s arms wrapped around her. “I’m here for a reason,” he said. Like before, his touch steadied her, because she felt, otherwise, she might vibrate into oblivion. Her spirit was still mixed in all the parts of her body.
“Focus on drawing the energy back into your core,” he said. Marlo fought with all her mind to draw the power into its normal ball, but the energy was inside her head and flexing in every cell of her body.
“I can’t,” she said.
“You can,” Q said. “You must.”
Marlo put invisible tendrils into every part of her body that she knew of, and pulled the tendrils until, like hooks, they seemed to catch on her spirit. She pulled and pulled and she felt a pop! Q still held her as her feet gave way.
“Never do that again, please,” he said. Marlo nodded. “I’m going to lower you to the ground now.” She nodded again. She felt limp. Her body was untrustworthy. “You can will your spirit into your individual parts,” Q said, “But if you put it inside your whole body, then it will eventually become a part of all that you are.”
“How do you know that’s not what they want?” she asked.
“I don’t,” he said. “In fact, it makes complete sense that they would want it. But I know nothing about any such plan, and I am only acting on the only orders I’ve been given.”
“And what are those?” she asked.
“Make her stronger.”