Chapter Two Hundred and Fifty-nine
In the Irish Sea
“One had a name on shirt …” Bruno said in breathless broken English. He pointed to the top of his breast pocket. “Experiment Genetics, Latin.”
“Experiri Genetics,” Jill grunted.
“They want Jill’s babies!” Sandy gasped.
“What do we do?” Noelle was suddenly standing right next to them. With hand in a cast and her bruised face, she looked like a brave child soldier ready to fight for the cause.
“We will confuse them,” the gargoyle said. “They will be lost in the house.”
“I will stay here,” Otis said. “Ward them off.”
“I’ll stay with you,” Anjelika said.
“You’ll miss …” Otis started.
“Jill is surrounded by love,” Anjelika gestured to the girlfriends. “I will not leave you.”
“What can we do?” Charlie asked.
“You can help us,” the smallest gargoyle said.
“No,” Sandy shook her head. “They are children.”
“They want to help,” the smallest gargoyle said. “They can be very useful to us.”
“They’d better not be injured in any way,” Jill grunted.
“Non nocet ad eos,” said the older gargoyle, as he appeared next to the English speaking gargoyle.
“What did he say?” Sandy asked.
“No harm will come to them,” Bruno translated.
“Get her to the birthing area,” the smallest gargoyle said. “The children will help us. We cannot birth the babies; we can only take them if the mother dies. Go now before bad things happen.”
“Mom!” Jill said. “Aren’t you …?”
“Go,” Otis said. “I’ll be fine. Bruno will stay with me. We have fought in many wars together. This is merely a battle of the minds.”
“Mom, we have to get the babies,” Tanesha pointed to the nursery where Mack, Jackie, and Rachel were sleeping. Yvonne and Anjelika went into the nursery.
With Tanesha and Heather on either side, and Sandy to open doors, Jill and the girlfriends made their way down the stairwell to the kitchen. They were almost to the ground floor when a gargoyle appeared.
“Hush,” the gargoyle said.
They saw three men move through the kitchen and into the living area.
“Haven’t we been here before?” one of the men asked.
“I haven’t,” another man said.
The girlfriends waited a moment before racing through the kitchen and up the stairwell to the second floor. They were just at the door to the old medical offices when a man appeared in the hallway. A gargoyle pushed them through the door. They heard the man run by.
“These Celts are desperate, and capable,” the smallest gargoyle said. “You must be very careful.”
“You do what you need to,” Tanesha scowled at the gargoyle. “We’re going to have some babies.”
There was a sharp bark at the door. Sandy opened the door for Scooter. He trotted in as if they’d been waiting for him. They moved Jill into the larger exam room where she’d wanted to have the babies and helped her onto the table. A few minutes later, Yvonne and Anjelika appeared with Rachel, Mack, Jackie, and a bleary-eyed Katy. Unaware anything was going on, Katy climbed onto the table with Jill. She leaned her head against Jill’s belly.
“Mommy,” Katy gave her a sleepy look. “My brothers are very scared. They didn’t want to come out now. They aren’t ready.”
“Celtic magic,” the smallest gargoyle hissed. “They made her go into labor.”
“That’s okay,” Tanesha said. “No problem. We just need to slow things down. Jill, you remember your breathing?”
“Come with me, Katy,” Anjelika said. “We’ll find a place to rest.”
“No.” Katy shook her head vehemently. “My brothers need me here.”
“Katy, you need to rest,” Jill said.
“What about here?” Sandy pointed to the comfortable old armchair sitting in the corner of the room. Jacob had moved the chair there so Katy would have a place when Jill had the boys. “Katy can rest right here.”
“Okay,” Katy said. Sandy helped the little girl climb down and settle in the chair. Scooter lay down next to the chair.
“Does your cell phone work?” Tanesha asked Heather.
“Can you call …?” Tanesha started.
“Already did,” Heather said. “Blane said he can talk you through what you need to do to slow things down. He wanted to be prepared in case the babies came suddenly, so he left some of his supplies in the cabinet in the lobby.”
“Can he come?” Tanesha’s voice rose with desperation. Heather shook her head. Tanesha nodded.
“Are we ready?” Sandy asked.
“We’d better be,” Jill panted. “I don’t think I can slow this down.”
“Yes, you can.” Heather moved to Jill’s side. She took Jill’s hand and gave her cell phone to Tanesha. Sandy moved to Jill’s other side.
Tanesha took one last look and went out into the lobby.
“Blane?” Tanesha asked.
Valerie led the way out of the storm drain and stopped just inside the opening of the concrete sewer junction. Jacob and Sam stood next to her. A small, sandy beach lay at their feet, and the Irish Sea at the shore. The light from the nearby lighthouse flashed across the entrance of the sewer pipe. Jacob walked onto the sand and turned around. They had come from under what looked like an ancient brick and stone masonry boat launch. On the other side of the beach, a stone walkway led to the lighthouse.
“I thought it was daylight,” Sam said.
“I think it’s supposed to feel that way to us,” Jacob said. “What time is it?”
“If we’re in one time, it would be about three in the morning,” Celia said at the same time Valerie said, “Around three in the morning.”
“One time?” Jacob asked.
“I don’t know what time we’re in,” Celia said.
“Mom wonders if we’ve jumped time,” Jacob said.
“Gosh, I hope not,” Sam said. “I only speak English.”
Celia smiled at her Sam. The only thing Sam cared about was connecting and communicating.
“Did your mom make a joke?” Sam leaned in to Jacob to ask. Jacob shook his head. Sam continued, “She’s thinking it.”
Sam put his shoulders back and said in a loud voice, “I like people. In whatever time we’re in, there’s gotta be people I’m gonna have to talk to them, Celia.”
He nodded like they’d had this conversation before. Valerie looked at Jacob, and he shrugged.
“Your mother thinks I should be more disturbed by all the oddities of our life,” Sam shrugged. “How is the fact that you can move things with your mind any more miraculous than the fact that you were born at all? We’re surrounded by such an incredible world; why would I be more in awe of your talents than everything else?”
Jacob patted his back in agreement.
“Do we have any idea where we are?” Valerie asked.
“No, but he probably does.” Jacob pointed to an old grey gargoyle perched on the boat ramp.
“Tá tú ar an Oileán de Dhéantús an Duine,” the gargoyle sneered at them.
“Wha …?” Valerie looked at Jacob.
“I’ve got this,” Sam said. “He said … uh … We’re on the Isle of Man. Yes, we figured that, Mr. Sarcastic Gargoyle.”
The gargoyle snickered at Sam. Confused, Jacob and Valerie looked at each other.
“Anyway, wouldn’t just be ‘The Isle of Man’ and not Oileán de Dhéantús an Duine since it’s a name?” Sam asked.
“You caught me,” the gargoyle said in a thick Manx accent. “My Irish is a little faulty.”
“I’ve been learning from those Irish friends you have, Jacob,” Sam nodded. “I figured it would come in handy at some point. Plus, it gets me free beer at the Irish Snug.”
Sam held out his hand to the gargoyle.
“Sam Lipson,” he said.
“Gilfand.” the gargoyle shook Sam’s hand.
“Servant of Fand,” Sam translated. “Aren’t you all Gilfand, then?”
“I am her personal servant,” the gargoyle said.
“Will you take us to her?” Celia asked.
Gilfand gave Celia a long look before turning back to Sam.
“My mother asked you a question,” Jacob said with force.
The gargoyle jumped with surprise. He turned his whole attention to Jacob.
“How dare you imitate my king?” Gilfand leaned to get a closer look at Jacob. “Who are you? State your purpose!”
“I’m Jacob Marlowe Lipson,” Jacob said. “This is my father, Sam Lipson; my sister, Valerie Lipson; and my mother, Celia Marlowe Lipson. We’ve come to reverse a curse placed on my family.”
Gilfand locked eyes with Jacob.
“You are his … blood,” Gilfand gave a soft shake of his head. “She’s not going to like that.”
“I would think she would love to see her own descendants,” Celia said.
“Too much grief.” Gilfand shook his head. “You sure you want to …?”
“My wife is having my sons tonight,” Jacob said. “If we don’t break this curse …”
“Yes, Rosenthal told me,” Gilfand nodded. “There is supposed to be one other.”
They looked around the sandy boat launch. Jacob pointed toward the beginning of the boat ramp and they climbed up the stone masonry ramp. They stopped at the top to look around. The gargoyle landed on the low stone wall.
“He’s coming.” Gilfand pointed to a man getting out of a parked car. “He is a Celt.”
They had to jump back to get out of the way when the gargoyle took off. He made quick time to where the man was walking toward them. The man and the gargoyle had a terse argument as the man walked and the gargoyle flew toward them.
“Hallo,” the man smiled. He held out his hand, “I’m James Kelly. You know my brothers Cian and Johnny.”
“Jacob, Valerie, and my father Sam,” Jacob shook James’s hand. “I thought you went by Jimmy.”
“Only to my baby brother,” James said. He gestured to the gargoyle, “This your flying rat?”
Gilfand hissed at James.
“Seems to belong to Fand,” Sam said.
“The fairy queen, Fand? I see,” James said. “Seth told me something of your quest. Frankly, I only came to see how you managed to illegally enter the United Kingdom. Any of you have a passport on you?”
Jacob, Valerie, and Sam shook their heads.
“Where did you come from then?” James asked.
Jacob turned to gesture toward the sewer pipe they’d emerged from. It had vanished. He gave Valerie a worried look. James followed his gesture, and noted Jacob’s look to Valerie.
“There’s clearly more to this than meets the eye,” James said. He looked at Celia. “Are you going to introduce the ghost?”
“You can see her?” Sam asked.
“I’m Irish,” James said. “I see everything. Whether or not I acknowledge it is another thing.”
He sneered at the gargoyle. Gilfand returned the disdain.
“This Celt cannot come with us,” Gilfand asserted.
“This Celt has to go with them,” James said. “Because this Celt has to keep track of them, and keep them from running afoul with the local authorities.”
“The Celt will destroy everything,” the gargoyle said.
“If by ‘destroy everything’ you mean keep them out of prison, then you are correct, little rat,” James said. “It’s your choice — I can take them now or …”
Gilfand hissed at James.
“This is my mother, Celia Marlowe Lipson,” Jacob said.
“Ma’am,” James said. “Why are you here?”
“We’re cursed,” Valerie started. “Our boys are … I lost mine and …”
“I read that.” James blushed and looked away. He glanced back at Valerie. “I’m a bit of a fan. Love your latest, by the way.”
Valerie gave him a dazzling smile, and he wilted. The gargoyle scowled.
“Jake’s wife, Jill, is pregnant with twin boys,” Valerie said. “If we can lift the curse, we remove the threat to her life.”
“Wait, Jill … Jacob … You wouldn’t happen to be Alex’s contractor?” James asked. “Father of Paddy’s best friend, Katy?”
“Guilty as charged,” Jacob smiled.
“You’re practically family,” James said. “I spent an evening last Christmas completely charmed by Katy. She’s wonderful.”
“Celts,” Gilfand hissed and rolled his eyes.
Valerie scowled at Gilfand and he shrugged.
“What do you know?” James asked.
“Seth said that we should go to a Castle Rushen,” Sam said. “We need to talk to a ghost there.”
“In the East Tower. She’s …” James glanced at the gargoyle. “Different.”
“You’ve met her?” Jacob asked.
“Heard of her,” James said. “Ghosts are not my thing.”
“I don’t like them either,” Jacob said.
“And yet here you are, traveling with your mother’s spirit to a foreign isle to look for a ghost in a castle,” James said.
“Life is kind of like that,” Jacob said.
“Maybe your life,” James smiled. “Well, the castle is just past these houses. We may as well head over there now.”
“Will anyone be there?” Sam asked.
“The castle undergoes a deep cleaning and repair one week of the year,” James said. “Crews work all night. As luck would have it, this happens to be the week.”
“Seems lucky,” Celia said.
“You’ve got good luck, Marlowe,” James said. “Come on. Let’s go see if we can find a fairy queen.”
James glanced at Gilfand.
“Lead on,” James said.
“I’m not bound to you,” Gilfand said.
“What about me?” Jacob asked. “Are you bound to me?”
Gilfand turned to look at him. His head went up and down in a slow nod.
“Will you take us to your queen?” Jacob asked.
Gilfand gave a slight nod of his head. Jacob felt a nauseating whooshing sensation, and then he was standing in the middle of a room with round stone walls on the east side of Castle Rushen.
“Bring my sister, father, and James,” Jacob ordered.
The gargoyle gave a nod and disappeared. Jacob looked around the space for a moment. Seeing a window, he went to look out on the bay. He was about to turn away when the glass disappeared from the window. Fand, the fairy queen, pushed him over the parapet.
He caught himself with his psychokinetic capacity. He flew back into the hall. Spinning in place, he looked around the hall for Fand. She had vanished completely.
“You’ll have to demand that she appear.” Delphie appeared before his eyes.
“How …?” Jacob asked.
“My class finished,” Delphie said, as if the answer was obvious. “The queen is bound to the king. She will continue this dangerous mischief until you …”
“But …” Jacob started.
“Be the king of Marle,” Delphie said. “That is where we are right?”
“Isle of Man,” Jacob said. “Fand the fairy queen. Manannán the king and sea god.”
“How fun!” Delphie said. “Where’s Sam? Val? Your mother left a while ago; she must be …”
“They were with me,” Jacob said. “We were supposed to come here together, with James Kelly. But this Gilfand and …”
Delphie shook her head.
“She is holding them,” Delphie said. “You must order her to release them.”
“Me?” Jacob said. “I’m supposed to demand things from a ghost?”
“Here she comes,” Delphie said.
The apparition of a woman dressed all in black flew through the air toward him.
Jacob was struck by two thoughts at once: His Katy was the spitting image of this Fand the fairy queen, and he despised ghosts.
The ghost was upon him. She used the depth of her energy to block out his senses. He was instantly blind and deaf. He felt the slimy, hot energy all over him.
“Enough,” Jacob yelled. Using his skill, he pushed the ghost from him.
When his vision cleared, the ghost was gone. He looked at Delphie and she shrugged.
“Any ideas?” Jacob asked.
“I think she’s testing you,” Delphie said, and disappeared.
Jacob sagged, and put his head in his hands. His Jill was having the twins tonight. He knew it in his very soul. His family was gone, and he was stuck here with a ghost. His mind reeled. The more he thought, the bluer he became. He remembered back to Monday. He’d felt the same feeling of despair.
Everything seemed so hard.
Every little thing had turned against him.
He was stuck here in a foreign castle when the life he’d fought for was being lived without him.
His despair grew. He felt tears press. He covered his eyes with his hands and dropped to his knees.
He’d never felt this depth level of hopelessness.
He could barely move.
He took a deep breath and remembered …
Ghosts are made of energy.
They can suck the very life energy out of living beings. Fand the fairy queen had bound him in psychic drains. As sure as knives opening his veins, she would drain him dry. If he didn’t do something, he would die right here.
The only way out of this was to draw in the power of the earth. He took a deep breath and felt a surge of energy. This was a powerful spot in the world.
He had to reignite his own psychic power. He closed his eyes and drew upon the power that lived deep inside. He felt the faint pulse of his capacity begin to grow within.
His mind was flooded with helplessness. He fought back with gratitude. He turned his mind toward the things he was most grateful for and saw Jill in a cloud of bubbles in their bathtub. In a flash, he saw Katy resting her head on her mother’s belly, and Delphie planting their first fruit tree. His ears filled with the sound of his father’s booming laugh. His mind spun with gratitude. He saw Valerie’s gorgeous smile when Jackie was born, Mike’s tears, and his mother’s beaming face. He saw the proud faces of Lipson employee-owners when they came to the agreement to leave the big project just a few days ago. Images of all of the people and places of his life flashed through his mind.
Before he knew it, he was free from Fand’s bonds.
“My family,” Jacob demanded.
Sam stood behind Jacob’s kneeling form. His father put with his hand on Jacob’s shoulder. Delphie stood to his right and Valerie to his left. Celia floated a few feet in front of him.
“We’re here,” Delphie said.
He hopped to his feet. The moment the soles of his feet hit the floor, the ghost attacked him. The room became dark. A fierce wind howled through the tower.
He fought back. He blasted Fand the crazy ghost with his energy. Caught off guard, the ghost flew backward.
She recovered in a moment.
“Duck!” Jacob yelled.
Lamps, chairs, and books flew through the air toward them. Jacob drew a quick line of energy around them. The items hit the wall and fell to the ground. Wind whipped through the room like a hurricane.
Fand let out a blood-curdling scream.
“Cover your ears!” Delphie screamed.
“Who dares to disturb me?” Fand screamed at him.
“Jacob, son of Manannán and Fand,” he said. “Valerie, daughter of Manannán and Fand, my mother, Celia, daughter of Manannán and Fand, my human father, Sam, and the oracle Delphie.”
“What gives you the right to stand here in my presence?” Fand screamed.
“My line is cursed due to your actions,” Jacob said. “My sister’s line cursed due to your actions.”
When Fand didn’t respond, Jacob pressed on.
“I have to spend my precious life resolving your problems,” Jacob said. “That gives me the right. I need you to tell me how to break the curse.”
“Oh,” Fand said.
The wind stopped. The warm light returned to the room. The screaming stopped.
A calm and regal Fand sat down in a throne-like chair by the stone fireplace.
“What do you need to know?” Fand asked.
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