Chapter Two Hundred and Sixty-four
Friday night — 10:00 p.m. MST
Jill smiled and looked around the room. Her best friends and her family were hanging out. Working together, combined with the magical effects of chocolate cake, they had stopped her early labor. Jeraine was playing his guitar and singing with one of the gargoyles. According to Mike and the gargoyles, they had eliminated the threat of Experiri Genetics. Sandy’s kids were playing video games in the old medical office lobby. Katy was sound asleep in the chair next to Jill’s bed.
She knew things weren’t going well at the construction site, and she knew Jacob was struggling on the Isle of Man. But right here, right now, everything was absolutely perfect. They had agreed to hang out here until her IV drip finished just to be sure.
She felt great, and the boys were calm.
Everyone laughed and she looked up. Candy was acting out a story about the Irish bosses at the bakery where she worked. The two men acted like clowns, but pretended they were dead serious. It made them all the funnier. Candy laughed, and Jill realized she hadn’t seen her sister laugh since before Candy and her girlfriend, Jazmyne, had broken up. Jill swallowed hard like she always did when she thought of it. Candy and her girlfriend had broken up right after Jill’s wedding. It was irrational, but Jill always felt like it had been her fault. It was almost as if because Jill was so happy, Candy had to suffer. At least Candy was getting back to her old, funny self.
“Mommy,” Katy said from the chair behind Jill. “I don’t feel good.”
Jill glanced at Katy and then looked around. Something was wrong. The kids in the living room were oddly quiet. Jill felt woozy. She was about to say something to Sandy when Sandy crumpled to the floor. Heather fell next to her.
“Mommy?” Katy asked.
Katy suddenly stood right next to Jill. Looking at her beautiful daughter, Jill had the sinking feeling that something was very wrong. She and Katy were in terrible danger. Jeraine stopped playing the guitar. His head lolled forward, and Tanesha slid down the wall to the floor. The gargoyle perched on the back of his chair dropped onto the floor.
“Get into the hiding place,” Jill said.
“Don’t argue with me,” Jill said. “Go now. Hurry.”
Megan, who’d been standing at Jill’s side, fell to the ground. Katy stepped over Megan and went to the wall where Jacob had crafted a hidden compartment in case they had to hide the babies. Candy collapsed near the door. Mike pushed his way across the room to her. Katy pressed on the wall, and a door opened.
“Mommy, can’t you come too?” Katy asked.
“You stay safe, Katy-baby,” Jill said. “That’s all that matters.”
Katy climbed into the cabinet.
“What . . .?” Anjelika asked. She fell forward to the floor.
“Mom!” Steve dropped next to her.
Mike had almost reached Jill. He took one last step and fell over. His last waking act was to close Katy’s hiding place. In a matter of moments, everyone in the room had collapsed. Jill tried to force herself awake.
A man wearing a white lab coat rushed into the room. His face was covered with a gas mask. Garbled by the mask and his Hispanic accent, she heard him say, “Good, they left in the IV. Pitocin, stat.”
Jill tried to protest.
The boys weren’t ready to be born!
She didn’t want to induce labor!
She tried to move, but her eyelids were locked closed. She was pushed back onto the table by someone she couldn’t see.
“Don’t fret, honey, you get to keep the girl,” the man in the lab coat said. He injected something into her IV line. He pointed to her family and friends. “Tie them up.”
Everything went black.
Jacob felt terror stab through his heart. Gilfand had taken them to the north end of the Isle of Man to the unexcavated fort Cronk Surmark. They were climbing to the top of the hill. He stopped climbing. Valerie was deep in conversation with Gilfand near the top of the hill and didn’t notice. Jacob clutched at his heart.
“Are you okay?” Delphie asked. She came up from behind him to stand at his side.
“I don’t know,” Jacob said. “I . . .”
“I felt it too,” Delphie said. “Something has happened.”
“Is Jill going to die?” Jacob asked. “Delphie, I . . . won’t survive it. She . . . Katy . . . They’re everything . . . everything.”
“She’s not dead yet,” Delphie said. “We need to get this show on the road.”
Delphie put her fingers to her lips and let out a loud whistle. Gilfand and Valerie turned around.
“Over there.” Delphie pointed to a set of boulders. “Can you continue?”
Jacob jogged up the side of the mountain. He put his hand over one boulder, and then the next. He shook his head.
“What is it?” Valerie said in breathless puffs. Delphie arrived a moment later.
“Her bones are spread out.” Jacob pointed to boulders. “Three, four, five, . . . maybe ten ribs. Fuck.”
“What’s happened?” Valerie asked.
“Jill’s in trouble,” Delphie said. “Katy’s in the hiding place.”
“How is that possible?” Valerie asked. “Jill’s father was going to . . .”
“Why does it matter how it happened?” Jacob snapped. “It happened.”
Valerie hugged him.
“Gilfand,” Delphie said. “Your fairy friends are in trouble too.”
“All we can do — right now — is get this done,” Valerie said. “We must find Queen Fand’s human body. That’s our task.”
“And Jill?” Jacob’s voice was filled with despair.
“We have to trust the fairies,” Delphie said. “We can’t do anything else.”
“Pull it together, Jake,” Valerie said in her manipulative voice. “We have a job to do.”
Jacob stepped back from her and swallowed hard. He took a breath, and then another one.
“Thanks.” He nodded.
“Glad to help,” Valerie said.
Jacob clapped his hands together, and the five large boulders near them rose from the ground. Valerie leaned over to look under them.
“They’re right here,” Valerie said, pointing to the rib that lay just under the boulder.
Valerie dropped to her hands and knees. Delphie jogged to the next one. When Gilfand returned, they were holding five ribs. They looked up at him in silence.
“They’ve been sedated,” Gilfand said. “Looks like a gas of some kind. There are some men there. They’ve induced labor.”
“Why would they induce labor?” Valerie asked. “I mean why not . . .”
She made a cutting gesture across her belly.
“Something about giving birth seems to activate your kind,” Gilfand said.
“Our kind . . .” Jacob said. “So this isn’t just about Jill’s healing ability.”
“No,” Gilfand said. “That’s part of it, but this is an assault on all fairy-kind. Their intention is the take to the boys, both of them, and use them.”
Jacob’s hands went instinctively to his heart.
“How much time do we have?” Delphie asked.
“A while,” Gilfand said. “One of our kind is with the fairy-child you call Katherine. And Jillian is strong, stronger than you think. The boys are in contact with her. She will slow things down and wait for us. We have reinforcements in the room if things go bad.”
“Everything depends on our task,” Gilfand said. “Find the queen, restore Manannán to his rightful place at her side, and these people will lose all power.”
“How did this happen?” Valerie started.
“That’s the question, isn’t it?” Gilfand shrugged.
“I’d like to know why,” Jacob said.
“It’s connected to what we’re doing here,” Delphie said. “We started this; now they have responded. We need to finish.”
Delphie took off toward the top of the mountain. Jacob jogged after her. They scanned the area together.
“There!” Delphie said.
Jacob lifted a boulder ten feet away. Valerie ran to retrieve the rib.
“There!” Delphie said.
Jacob raised the boulder she indicated and one nearby. Valerie grabbed the ribs.
“How many is that?” Delphie asked.
“Eight,” Valerie said.
“Two more,” Jacob said.
“Think about it,” Delphie said. “Ten ribs? No way. There’s twelve a side.”
“There have to be four more,” Valerie said.
Jacob looked at Delphie and then glanced at Valerie.
“I don’t see them,” Jacob said.
“They must have used the elder tree,” Jacob said.
“We can do this,” Delphie said. “Let’s get what we can find.”
“Val.” Jacob pointed to two boulders on the other side of the mountain. She ran to them. He lifted the boulders and she retrieved two more ribs.
“Are you certain, Oracle?” Gilfand asked.
“Yes,” Delphie said. “I just don’t know where they are.”
“In the center of the fort,” Valerie said. “It’s the only thing that makes sense. We’ve found the ribs they used to fortify the fort wall. They’d leave some at the center to protect the fort.”
“Where’s the center?” Jacob asked.
Gilfand flew around the fort. He was above an enormous flat rock shelf when he started to sneeze.
“There,” Delphie said.
Jacob rubbed his hands together until sparks lit up the edges of his palms. He clapped and there was a little boom from under the large stone.
“What was that?” Valerie asked.
“It was an elder tree,” Jacob said. “They planted an elder tree over the last two. Here we go.”
He closed his eyes to focus. When he opened them, the stone had only shifted a tiny bit.
“It’s held down by some force,” Jacob said. “I can’t lift it.”
“What if I hold your hand or . . .?” Valerie asked.
Jacob shook his head.
“And he can’t help?” Valerie asked.
“I cannot do more than I am doing — showing some foreigners around our lovely island,” Gilfand said.
“We can go through the bottom,” Delphie said.
Jacob looked at Delphie for a moment before taking off down the mountain. When he was near the ribs, he skidded to a stop. He held his hands out and called to the ribs. Nothing happened.
“You can do this, Jake,” Valerie said. “I know you can.”
Jacob glanced at her. Delphie arrived.
“Draw what you need from the island,” Delphie said.
Knowing that had worked before, Jacob connected with the island. He felt a surge of power that he realized came from Queen Fand.
“Val! Give me the ribs!” Jacob said.
Valerie ran the ribs to him. Jacob felt almost drunk with the surge of power.
“Ground, Jake, ground,” Delphie yelled.
He glanced at her and nodded. He closed his eyes. There was a rumbling sound from within the mountain. The ribs sliced through the ground and turf. Jacob held out his hand and caught them one at a time.
“Where to next?” Jacob said.
“The White Lady,” Delphie said.
“I can take those . . .” Gilfand said.
“I think I need to keep them,” Jacob said.
In the wink of an eye, they were standing outside a row of suburban homes looking at a seven-foot-tall white quartz standing stone. A crash came from inside the house in front of them. Jacob glanced at the house. A nightgown-clad woman stared through her kitchen window. The faucet was on. She must have dropped a glass when she saw them appear.
“Fuck it,” Jacob said under his breath, and lifted the stone six feet into the air.
Valerie ran to look in the hole.
“There’s nothing there!” Valerie said.
“What do you mean?” Jacob asked. “It has to be there.”
“No.” Delphie shook her head and pointed at the metal placard on the ground. “This plaque says cremated remains lie here.”
“Shit,” Jacob said.
“Jake, I think that lady is calling the police,” Valerie said.
Jacob set the stone down in the middle of the asphalt street. His eyes passed over the kitchen window where the woman gawked at him. He rubbed his hands together until there was a foot-wide halo around his hands.
A police siren sounded in the distance.
He clapped, and tiny flecks of bones flew to him. The force of his electrostatic charge began to hold the fragments of bone together until they formed a set of femurs. He used his psychokinetic power to press the pieces together until they were solid.
A fast-moving Isle of Man Constabulary cruiser skidded onto the street.
“Jake!” Valerie said.
Jacob lifted the White Lady standing stone from the street. The police sedan screeched to a halt. Jacob set the stone in place.
“Stop where you are!” a Douglas police constable screamed.
. . .And they were standing on a low bluff above the surf on the west coast of the Isle of Man. The rain pounded down on them.
“Jake!” Sam said. “It’s about time you got here.”
Jacob hugged his father.
“What’re you doing with all these bones?” Sam asked.
“They enhance my power,” Jacob said.
“Your mom helped us find the cairn,” James said. “We think Queen Fand’s remains are there.”
“Show me,” Jacob said, and nodded hello to Brigid.
Friday night — 10:15 p.m. MST
Jeraine opened his eyes and blinked. He had no idea where he was. Before he could move, a pair of legs walked in front of him. Jeraine’s eyes followed the man as he carried a large box fan to the end of the medical office lobby. Jeraine remembered where he was and what had happened. The man pointed the fan out into the hallway and turned it on.
Jeraine realized that the intruders had used some kind of gas to knock them out. Jeraine closed his eyes before the man walked past him again.
Jeraine was sitting against a wall in the medical office lobby. His hands were tied behind him with what felt like a zip tie. Directly in front of him sat a row of Sandy’s kids and their friend Teddy. They were unconscious and their hands seemed to be tied behind them as well. His friend the gargoyle was lying on the floor next to the chair he’d been sitting in.
Jeraine’s heart lurched.
Where was Tanesha?
Making sure not to draw attention to himself, Jeraine’s eyes flicked around the room. He couldn’t see her. He sniffed; he could smell her hair conditioner. He knew she had to be near him. Relief coursed through him. He closed his eyes to catch his panicked breath.
Jeraine’s extensive drug use was coming in handy. They would have had to give him a direct dose if they wanted to knock him out for very long. Tanesha would tell him he was a fool, but he felt oddly proud. He was about to say something when a man walked into the office from the hallway and went into the room where Jill was having the babies.
“How long?” the man asked.
From where he was sitting, Jeraine could only see the man’s wool slacks.
“Hours,” a man in a white lab coat said.
Lab Coat had a slight Hispanic accent that was vaguely familiar to Jeraine.
“I thought she was already in labor.” Wool Slack’s voice rose in anger. “She’s supposed to be in labor.”
Jeraine saw his gargoyle friend’s wings flap. The men were standing right next to the gargoyle but didn’t seem to see him move. Out of nowhere, an older gargoyle appeared next to Jeraine’s friend. The older gargoyle glared at Jeraine, and then attended to the young gargoyle on the ground. After a few moment, the young gargoyle disappeared.
“She was in labor,” Lab Coat said.
“Then why isn’t she now?” Wool Slacks asked.
“No idea,” Lab Coat said. “There’s nothing we can do but wait for the Pitocin to work.”
“And if it doesn’t work?”
“It will work.”
“You sure you can’t just take them?” Wool Slacks was getting angry.
“Not if you want to use them,” Lab Coat said. “You said you wanted them fully capable.”
“I do, but . . .”
“Then you have to wait,” Lab Coat said.
The older gargoyle appeared right in front of Jeraine. He squelched a scream.
“They cannot see you,” the older gargoyle said. “What has happened here?”
“I think they gassed us,” Jeraine said. “Where’s my wife?”
“She’s beside you.” The gargoyle transformed into a man. He was wearing jeans and a white work shirt. He helped Jeraine to his feet. The gargoyle-man snapped his fingers, and the zip ties on Jeraine’s hands popped open. Jeraine went to Tanesha. He touched her face and kissed her hair.
“She’s breathing,” Jeraine said.
“This one is . . .” The gargoyle-man bent down to Heather.
Heather was hog-tied with a rope looped around her neck, hands, and feet. She was facedown so all of her weight was on her pregnant belly. She had duct tape over her mouth. Jeraine ran to her. The gargoyle shifted Heather to her side, and Jeraine loosened the rope and removed the duct tape.
“Why was this woman the focus of so much wrath?” the gargoyle-man asked.
“They can’t see me?”
The gargoyle-man shook his head. Jeraine went to the medical office.
“I knew I recognized his voice,” Jeraine said. “Tanesha made me get an AIDS test. She said she would only trust Blane’s doctor because Blane went there and said he was good. Some doctor.”
Jeraine crossed his arms and looked incensed.
“That’s mature,” the gargoyle-man said.
“Who is this man?” the gargoyle-man asked.
“The guy in the white coat works for Blane’s doctor,” Jeraine said. “His name is Rubén. He’s in love with Heather’s husband and thinks she stole him away.”
“He must know that’s not love.” The gargoyle-man scowled.
“Guess not,” Jeraine said.
The gargoyle snapped his fingers and untied Heather.
“Where is that woman’s daughter?” The gargoyle-man pointed to the birthing room.
“Why do you think I’m going to tell you that?” Jeraine asked. “I don’t know who you are. You could just as easily be with them.”
“I would never be with . . . them,” The gargoyle-man scowled at Jeraine. “I am a faithful servant of Queen Fand, the fairy queen. My name is Gilfand. My queen has taken an interest in the girl.”
“Yeah, whatever,” Jeraine said. “What are you going to do to fix this?”
“It’s not within my charge to ‘fix this,’” the gargoyle-man said.
“Why not?” Jeraine asked. “You seem like a man and have powers and whatever; why can’t you fix this?”
The gargoyle-man blinked. Jeraine gave the man an indifferent shrug and began to check on the children.
“What will it take for you to help me?” the gargoyle-man asked.
“I could ask you the same thing,” Jeraine said. “Seems like my man Jacob is busting his ass to save your fairy queen. And don’t pretend you don’t know him. You’re wearing one of his work shirts.”
The gargoyle shifted back to his usual form.
“My son said you could be difficult,” the gargoyle said.
“That was your boy?” Jeraine asked. “Hell of a singer.”
“That boy is three hundred and twenty-four human years old,” the gargoyle said.
“Okay,” Jeraine said. “And what are you going to do about all of this? We’ve got a pregnant woman and her boys who need saving. We’ve got bad guys who need rounding up. We’ve got all these folks who need protection. What are you going to do?”
The gargoyle blinked at Jeraine. They glared at each other for a moment.
“What do you propose?”
“Send some of whatever you are to protect everybody,” Jeraine said. “Make sure nothing happens to anybody, including Jill. Oh, and let me call my dad.”
“What do I get in return?” the gargoyle asked.
“You get to know where the girl child is,” Jeraine said. “But I’ll tell you this, the boys Jill is carrying — everybody wants them. Your queen is gonna want to save them too.”
The gargoyle disappeared, and Jeraine was sure he’d lost his bargaining. After a few moments, gargoyles started popping up around the room. At least twenty tiny, blue and pink fairies appeared along the ceiling, and the birthing room took on a light pink glow. A woman who looked like Cleopatra appeared in the middle of the room. She raised an eyebrow at Jeraine and walked into the birthing room. While the men argued around her, she touched Jill’s belly and whispered in her ear.
The woman sauntered back into the lobby.
“You drive a hard bargain,” the Cleopatra lookalike said. “Your father has received a phone call from you. He will call his friend Seth. They will know what to do.”
“Are you Queen Fand?” Jeraine asked.
“Her sister, Liban,” the woman said. “Queen Fand is stuck at Castle Rushen. Where is the girl?”
“Are you trying to take over?” Jeraine asked. “Be the queen yourself?”
“You mean, do these men work for me?” Liban said the word “men” with disgust. “No. Fairies are incapable of jealousy and envy. No fairy would want to displace our queen. She works for us, takes care of us; no one will harm her.”
“Fand and I are twins,” Liban said. “I have been around since the beginning of fairies. No one would ever even think of over-throwing our queen. Our minds and lives are filled with living; we would not waste it on such folly.”
“What would satisfy you?” Liban asked.
“Probably nothing,” Jeraine said. “The girl is in a panel in the wall.”
The woman went into the birthing room. She walked around the men and went to the wall. She snapped her fingers, and the hidden door opened. She leaned in. When she came up, there were tears in her eyes. She did her best to hide them. She closed the door and snapped her fingers. To Jeraine’s eyes, the cabinet disappeared from sight.
“She will be safe,” Liban said. “What is her name?”
“They call her Katy,” Jeraine said.
“Katy.” Liban gave him a beaming smile and disappeared.
His friend, the singing gargoyle, reappeared.
“You made a big impression,” the singing gargoyle said.
“How so?” Jeraine asked.
“The question about overthrowing the queen,” the singing gargoyle said. “It’s true that fairies would not do it, but other’s might. We gargoyles are male fairies, warriors. We will investigate. If someone is trying to overthrow fairydom, we will get to the bottom of it. We always have; we always will.”
“How you feeling?” Jeraine asked.
“Sick.” The gargoyle smiled at Jeraine. “Head hurts like hell and I’m woozy.”
“Been there, bro.”
“Yes you have,” the gargoyle said. “You have to get back to your seat.”
“Why?” Jeraine asked.
“They’re gonna look for you,” the gargoyle said.
Jeraine sat down and put his hands behind his back.
“Should I put you out?” the gargoyle asked.
“You’ll keep watch?” Jeraine asked.
“I will make sure that no harm comes to you or any of these people, including the woman in labor,” the gargoyle said. “You have my word. Now, go to sleep.”
Jeraine was asleep in an instant.
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