Doc’s methods were similar to the ones used on Kate, so I knew what to expect. And hearing him say when I snap my fingers almost made me laugh as it was so cliche.
“Doc, I know you mean well, but my mind will not go under so easy.”
Laughter filled the room as I opened my eyes to see Karen standing in front of me with the same grin she had in Georgio’s Pizza.
“What?” I asked.
She ignored me and walked into the other room with Doc.
“Robert, do you want to tell me what the hell is going on?”
“You’ve been under for over an hour, mister Lore.”
Robert chuckled again as he left the room to join Karen and Doc.
“Let me help you up, mister Lore. You might feel a little dizzy after being under for so long.”
“Seriously, an hour?”
“Yes, sir. Would you like to see the recording?”
Taking his phone, I watched as one memory after another spilled out for all to hear. Borya was twenty-nine, single, from Russia, and a member of призрак, meaning ghost. An outlier tribe determined to bring down the technocracy. After which they, themselves, will rule over their land using fear and deception.
He was here to spy on Elysian and other American tribes to see how responsive we may be to a total world takeover. One in which shifters governed at the expense of all others who would be relegated to peasant status, serving tribes under a feudalistic system.
There was more, but it was all I could take for the moment. “I need to go lie down. Tell the others, will you.”
“Thanks for getting here so quickly, Robert. Doc is on his way. Christan is in the kitchen.”
“What happened, Karen?”
“Christion walked up behind Cathy McCall and tapped her on the shoulder, seeing a man named Borya Volkov. He told her he could not see due to his concussion and asked for her name. They talked for a while before she went back to work, and Christain feels like she bought the whole concussion story.”
“I’ll go arrest the damn spy as soon as Dillion gets here.”
“Not yet. There could be others, so we’ll need to come up with a plan.”
A knock at the door completed the group of four standing around me. And though my eyes were closed, I felt their presence, knowing where each of them stood.
“Christian, this is Doc. Karen has placed you in a semi-hypnotic state from which I am going to take you deeper. Do you understand?”
“Karen’s quick thinking may have prevented Borya’s memories from being lost in the clutter of your daily life. So I’ll need to guide you through a series of steps to see if we can extract them. You will be able to do this yourself one day. But, for now, you need me. Understand?”
It was becoming clear to me that every member of Elysian worked for or owned a business. A secret society filled with workers of various skillsets. Doctors, electricians, plumbers, mechanics, police officers, firefighters, carpenters, and farmers, of which one, just pulled up on his tractor. Jumping onboard to claim my fender seat, I asked, “Everything good at home?”
“It is, and Olivia wants you to tell Karen the catering issue is resolved.”
“I didn’t even know there was a catering issue.”
“That makes two of us.”
Karen met me at the door when I returned with some cookies she had baked. Not her strong suit, but I ate a handful to be polite.
“How many Elysians have verifiables?” I asked while pouring a glass of milk.
“Two, Nicky and I.”
“Then we might have a problem.”
“I surprised Cathy McCall today by tapping her on the shoulder. She turned quickly and looked at me as if I was about to attack.”
“It wasn’t Cathy.”
“Christian, what are you trying to say?”
“I saw a man named Borya Volkov. I played it off and asked her name. She wanted to know why I didn’t already know it, so I told her I was having problems due to my concussion. She studied me for a moment but appeared to be satisfied with my answer.”
Before I could say another word, Karen was on the phone with Robert.
“Code red, meet me here ASAP.
“Christian, sit down. You haven’t been trained to do this, so follow my guidance.”
“To do wh—.’
Placing her index finger over my lips, she said, “Close your eyes.”
A strange feeling came over me after I heard those words. It was like I had been preprogrammed to respond. I sat there for some time until I heard a knock I the door.
Not far from the breaker box was a golf cart charged and ready to go. As we traveled, Jeff schooled me on the various outside corridors running off the main tunnel, each leading to an entrance underneath a member’s home. Inside corridors led to storage, meeting, and living accommodations.
The entire complex was self-sufficient. And could be transformed into a deadly maze if breached by using movable walls to guide intruders to what Jeff nonchalantly called the killing room.
The underground portion of the tour finally ended when we rode up a service elevator leaving us in a building owned by Darrel Lackey, who was busy milking cows. From there, we transferred to Lackey’s truck to retrieve the tractor still sitting in front of the abandoned farmhouse.
“I’ll meet you back at Darrel’s, but I’m going to stop by the house for a minute to check on Olivia.”
“That’ll be fine Jeff, see you in a little while.”
Upon my return to the dairy, I startled one of the employees by tapping her on the shoulder while she worked. Surprised, she quickly turned.
“Didn’t mean to scare you. I haven’t been thinking clearly. The concussion I received during our last meeting has made me a fool to tell you the truth. Can’t see a thing clearly these days. What’s your name again?”
“Cathy—I saw you when we touched. Why didn’t you see me?”
“Like I said, I can’t see a thing. Doc says it will go away, But I’m beginning to wonder.”
“Well, I hope you get better,” she replied, returning to her work without another word.
In pursuit, I caught up with Jeff as he flipped a switch causing the entire tunnel to come alive for as far as I could see in both directions. Astonished by its length, I lost track of my tour guide, who hid snickering in the distance.
“You know I can hear you.”
And with that, the lights went out.
“Is it,” he said from behind.
“SHIT—you just about gave me a heart attack.”
“What if I had been Montresor and chained you to the wall? How would you escape this old fool you took to be unread?”
“Scream like hell, you crazy bastard.”
“Really? That’s what you want me to tell Karen when I drop you off. ‘Yep, said he would scream like a girl.”‘
“You make the “Girl” reference, and we’re both going to be in trouble.”
“You got a point, but seriously, what would you do?”
“I don’t know?”
“If you were Fortunato chained tightly to the wall, you would be screwed, But you’re not. You’re a shifter with survival skills and the ability to switch from thick to thin. So scream like a girl if you will, but your hands will slip free.”
I felt like a fool standing there in silence. Jeff was right, and I needed to start thinking like a shifter. “Lesson learned, my friend.”
“Then we shall have a glass of wine?”
Okay, maybe not wine,” he said, pouring from a flask. “But the day is long, and our nerves need calming.”
Platforms and governments that think they’ve trained the little kiddies to be obedient followers are in for a rude awakening one day. Kids are not stupid and can see right through their whispering goody two shoe bullshit. They know our representatives are out of control. We all know they are out of control.
“Mrs. Wilcox tells me I won’t get to go trick-or-treating this year. You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that, would you?”
“I’m afraid so, Jeff, and send my apologies to Olivia.”
“Are you kidding? She lives for weddings. I’m not sure if you know it, but she’s president of the Elysian Woman’s Club. On top of that, she bakes and apparently, has plans for a colossal cake with a Halloween theme.”
“I’m sure it’ll be beautiful, so send her a big thank you.”
“I’ll do it, now climb on. We’ve got a tour to complete.”
“I haven’t ridden on a tractor fender in quite some time.”
“Well, hold on, so you don’t fall off. I’d hate to tell the Chief I ran over her fiance.
Our first stop was the old farmhouse where Jeff hurt his foot. Inside we descended steps into the basement, where I stopped halfway, expecting them to move like the ones at Doc’s house. Who, by the way, has taken to his new nickname quite nicely, as most everyone has started to refer to him in that way.
“Were not fancy over here, son. You’re going to have to keep walking.”
I watched as Jeff turned over a rusty can of screws. One of which he placed in a hole between two blocks until I heard a click.
“Put some pressure right there, Christian.”
As I did, a section of wall swung open, and we stepped into a small ten by ten room. The back wall was full of liquor bottles, and two shot glasses stood ready at the bar.
“This is your labyrinth?”
He chuckled. “Nonsense, this is where I come to get away from Olivia.”
“You old drunk, no wonder you hurt your foot.”
After pouring me a few rounds, he said, “follow me.” Which I did, watching out for nails, of course, as we crossed over boards fallen from the collapsed floor above. And just as before, he worked a small hole in the wall, revealing another doorway.