Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.


Chapter Four Hundred and twelve : Overture

CHAPTER FOUR HUNDRED and TWELVE

Friday morning — 7:46 A.M.

“What?” Tanesha asked Fin as they jogged into the building.

“What are you asking?” Fin asked. “I will tell you anything, but I must know what it is that you wish to know.”

“I didn’t hear what you said,” Tanesha said.

They ran around people to get to the elevator. Their last day of their first year of medical school was happening three floors above them. Tanesha pressed the elevator call button more than ten times. When Fin didn’t respond, she scowled at him. He gave her a charming smile.

“I was waiting for privacy,” Fin said mildly.

The elevator came and they stepped on. By some miracle, there was no one to join them in the car. The elevator doors closed.

“As you know, I just got off the phone with Sandy,” Tanesha said. “The Navajos have stopped treating Jake to worship your girlfriend and that creepy Gilfand. No one really knows why. Sam, Valerie, and Blane are still unconscious. It’s …”

“They should not be concerned,” Fin said.

“Sandy says everyone is terrified,” Tanesha said. “At least everyone who isn’t a Native American. The ceremony is mid-way. Jake and the others are caught in some kind of limbo. And Hedone is gone for reasons Heather either doesn’t know or won’t say. There is no one to explain what’s going on or why.”

“Abi will get the ceremony back on track and Jacob will return,” Fin said with a nod. “Now, that is possible.”

“I love your confidence,” Tanesha said. “Why they are so freaked out by meeting Abi and Gilfand? According to every movie we could watch, these ceremonies are never interrupted.”

“Movies?” Fin asked.

Tanesha gave him an impatient sigh.

“What is confusing?” Fin asked. “The movies?”

Tanesha gave him a frustrated glare, and he grinned at her.

“Please, please, Prince Finegal, will you tell me what’s going on?” Tanesha asked in a mocking voice.

He laughed. Grimacing, she realized that she hadn’t pressed the button for their floor.

“Great.” Tanesha blew a frustrated sigh and pressed the button.

“We wouldn’t have these problems if you would simply use the powers you were born with,” Fin said.

“I just did.” Tanesha held up her finger and pressed the button again.

He grinned. He opened his mouth to say something but she gave him a frustrated look. He nodded.

“You’ve heard Abi say that she and Gilfand danced alone on the surface of the earth for many millennia,” Fin said. “She makes no secret of it.”

Taking a drink of her tea, Tanesha could only nod.

“Think it through,” Fin said with a nod.

“Think what through,” Tanesha said.

“Abi and Gilfand danced on the earth for millennia,” Fin said.

“I haven’t slept since last summer. My head is crammed full of medical crap,” Tanesha said. “You’re going to have to spell it out for me.”

“Abi and Gilfand are the first of their kind,” Fin said. “Of any kind.”

“Any kind?” Tanesha asked.

“You’ll have to ask her about the bacteria, no ask about the dinosaurs,” Fin said with a grin. “I find the very idea of dinosaurs fascinating. Of course, she can also tell you about the Neanderthals, Denisovans, and the others, but the dinosaurs? They are my favorite.”

“But …” Tanesha said.

“Your native friends have a story about First Woman and First Man,” Fin said. “They happened to meet them this morning. Quite unexpectedly.”

“What?” Tanesha asked.

“Gilfand and Abi are the first inhabitants of this planet,” Fin said. “They were created right after the land masses.”

“Really?” Tanesha asked.

“I have said that a few times. Why are you surprised?” Fin asked. “You’ve heard Abi say that she and Gilfand …”

“Danced, yes,” Tanesha said. “It’s just … improbable, I guess.”

Fin nodded. The elevator reached their floor with a jerk.

“Is Fand their child?” Tanesha asked.

“Are you asking me if my mother is the child of my lover?” Fin asked. “Does that make me Oedipus?”

“No, he was screwing with his own mother,” Tanesha said as the elevator doors opened.

“That’s disgusting,” Fin said.

Tanesha took a panicked breath and they set off down the hall. They moved fast, zipping around people who seemed to be standing still. By some miracle, or quite possibly Fin’s magic, they made it into class with three minutes to spare. They found two seats together in the last row — Fin’s favorite seats. She shot a glance at him.

“No,” Fin continued with a shake of his head. “Abi says that they found Fand as a baby. They had no idea even what a baby was, but there it was. Gilfand — of course, that’s not actually his name – wanted to kill and eat it, but Abi …

“Not her actual name either?” Tanesha asked as she pulled out her pencils and checked that they were sharp.

“Exactly …” Fin said.

Tanesha glanced at him. He looked completely cool and collected while she felt sweaty and terrified. She wrinkled her nose in irritation at him. He gave her a princely smile in return.

“Abi wanted to care for the thing and see what it would become,” Fin said. “Gilfand will tell you that he is older and the boss, but he has already follow Abi to the end of the earth and back. She wanted to raise the thing, and so they did. End of story. You can’t imagine their surprise that the thing grew into Fand. The fact that she was magical delighted them. The three lived together for a long, long time until Fand met my father, Manannán, which you know all about. Abi didn’t know she could have children until we had Ne Ne, and even then. When humans die out, fairies too, Abi and Gilfand will continue. That’s simply truth.”

“And the Native Americans know this?” Tanesha asked.

“They do,” Fin said.

“How do they know this and we …?” Tanesha started.

He nodded to the front of the room where the professor walked out ready to start to test. Tanesha gulped down the rest of her tea. When she set the cup on the floor, she was ready. The test and score card were handed to her a moment later. Tanesha glanced at Fin. He winked at her and they began the test.

~~~~~~~~~

They worked as a team. Sam used the pole to move the raft. Blane kept his eyes on the amber sea in the hope of visually seeing Jacob. The dragonfly flew a half inch above the amber fluid. Valerie kept her eye on the crow and eagle above. They had past the center of the lake without finding Jacob. Sam was about to suggest they head back, when Hedone stepped out onto the Sea of Amber.

“Have we slipped time again?” Valerie’s voice rose with worry.

“Not that I can tell,” Hedone said. She bent over to look into the sea. “No, we are in the same time.”

“Where is Jake?” Sam asked. “Where is my son?”

“He has drifted from this spot,” Hedone said.

Valerie whistled and waved to the crow and eagle. The enormous birds dropped down and landed on the raft. Their sharp intelligent eyes looked to Valerie in question. Valerie gestured to Hedone.

“As you know, Jacob is no longer at this location,” Hedone said. “Will you look over there?”

She pointed to a rocky point about a mile ahead. The eagle took off low over the water. The dragonfly flew in a zigzag formation toward the point. The eagle cried and landed on the point.

“Crap,” Hedone said.

“What is the problem?” Sam asked.

“We are on a kind of shelf,” Hedone said. “That’s why you can use your pole to get us out here. The sea is much deeper there.”

“So?” Blane asked.

“We won’t be able to get there using that pole to get us there,” Hedone said. “And …”

Rather than respond, she gave Blane a half smile. He nodded.

“What?” Valerie asked. “And what?”

“It’s too deep for me to go,” Blane said.

Valerie and Sam looked at Hedone but she looked away from them.

“I’m the crow, right?” Valerie asked.

The Goddess looked at Valerie out of the corner of her eyes.

“Then it’s up to me to figure this out,” Valerie said. “We need to get over there, right? And we need to find a way to keep Blane alive while he goes after Jacob. That’s our problem, right?”

Hedone gave her a mild look while Blane nodded. Sam was leaned over the water watching something.

“I’m the crow,” Valerie said under her breath.

“There’s something in there,” Sam said, pointing to the sea below.

The dragon was upon them. The dragon laid a thick layer of fire over the surface of the sea. The dragon surrounded the raft with fire burning on the surface of the sea.

“Jake!” Blane and Sam screamed and leaned over to look for him. Valerie watched the dragon with keen interest.

Valerie grabbed the backs of Sam and Blane’s shirts and yanked them back from the edge of the raft. They fell onto the raft.

“Grab on!” Valerie screamed.

Just then, a serpent burst from the sea. The serpent erupted through the layer of fire. With a beat of its wings, the creature took off after the dragon.

The raft rocked in its wake. They clung to the raft as it went almost vertical in the wake of the serpent. The bunny slid toward the water. Hedone caught it right before it fell in.

“We are out of time,” Hedone said. “This dragon is young. She is no match for the creature. The serpent can easily call for others.”

“So can the dragon,” Valerie said mildly. She pointed to the sky.

“Have you ever seen a dragon and serpent fight?” Hedone asked. She involuntarily shivered.

“We have,” Valerie said.

“We need to get this done,” Hedone said with a nod.

“How are we going to …?” Sam started to ask.

The crow came down from the wind to land on the raft. Valerie nodded to the bird. It moved to the edge of the raft and began flapping its enormous wings.

“Hold on!” Valerie yelled.

One flap, two flaps, and they were moving across the burning Sea of Amber toward the rocky peak. Holding tight to the raft, they watched in awe as the dragon teased the serpent into following it. The creatures flew mere feet from the raft.

“There’s a rider!” Blane yelled in an awe struck voice.

“Did you see who it was?” Valerie asked.

“It looks like …,” Blane said. He turned to look at Valerie. “That’s impossible.”

“Mack,” Sam said in a low voice.

“Dad!” a young man’s voice came from the other side of the dragon. Mack’s blue eyes and shock of black hair appeared over the curve of the dragon’s back. “Catch!”

Mack dropped a single oxygen tank with a mouthpiece and mask from his seat on the dragon. Sam and Blane caught the rig together. Hedone grinned at the young man and he threw her a kiss.

“Great catch!” Mack said with the joy of a young man. “Go get him, Dad! We’ll keep this turd busy until you’re done.”

Valerie watched the sky where the hawk was flying. The hawk gave a loud cry. The crow stopped flapping its wings. They had reached the rocky point. Blane jumped up. He stripped off his clothing leaving only his underwear.

“We’re here,” Valerie said.

“Can you see him?” Sam yelled over the sound of the fire as he helped Blane put on the oxygen tank, mouthpiece, and mask.

“He is here,” Hedone said.

“Now,” Valerie said in a low, intense voice, “It’s unlikely that this amber stuff is going to work like water. You might not be able to dive deep or come back up easily. Don’t give up. This might be a magical place, but it’s also a physical place.”

“The rules of physics apply, just differently,” Blane said with a nod.

“Exactly,” Valerie said. “This amber stuff is created out of human despair. You’ve seen a lot of despair. I remember you and mom talking about the best way to deal with despair.”

“Despair is a part of the human experience,” Blane said. “It’s not to be ignored or cast aside …”

“But embraced,” Valerie nodded. “Look up when you’re done. The birds will spot you if you drift.”

“We will find you,” Hedone said.

Sam hugged Blane tight. Valerie touched his shoulder. Hedone nodded to Blane’s underwear. Blushing, he stripped off his boxer briefs. Valerie and Sam hugged each other while Hedone coated Blane in the golden power that was her powerful love. She kissed his cheek. Blane nodded to her in thanks, and dove into the Sea of Amber.

He turned around to the raft. The bunny held out a strand of yarn.

“Where did that …?” Valerie started.

“It’s yarn,” Blane said with a grin.

He put in his mouthpiece, tested it, and gave them a thumbs up. Grabbing the end of the yarn, he dove into the Sea of Amber.

~~~~~~~~

Friday morning — 8:16 A.M.

“They specifically said that fairy magic wouldn’t save Jake!” Teddy said in a fierce, but quiet tone.

“I’m with you, Teddy,” Aden said.

He put his hand on the high-spirited boy’s chest in an attempt to keep Teddy from jumping out of his skin. They were surreptitiously standing on the tiny balcony off Jill and Jacob’s bathroom.

“They’re saying that they aren’t fairies,” Sandy said. She was holding binoculars trained on the deck off the medical offices. She was lip reading what Abi, Gilfand, the grandmother, and grandfather were saying. “We don’t have fairy magic.”

“How is that possible?” Aden asked under his breath.

“The grandmother keeps saying that they are First Woman and First Man,” Sandy said. “But …”

Her lips moved as she sounded out what she was saying.

“The grandfather wants proof,” Sandy said. “Gilfand is angry and threatening to leave.”

Sandy pulled the binoculars away from her eyes.

“They aren’t fairies?” she asked.

“With these guys, you never know what’s true,” Aden said with a shrug.

“They are first woman and first man,” Delphie said from inside the bathroom. “And they don’t have fairy powers. The fairy stuff comes from Fand.”

“What?” Nash asked with the derision of a teenager.

“Watch your tone,” Aden said sternly.

“I’m sorry, Delphie,” Nash said.

He hugged Delphie and she held him tight for a moment. With Nash against her, Delphie explained.

“Four female children were dropped in the world,” Delphie said. “Abi and Gilfand found Fand. One other was cared for. Neanderthals, no less. She is the sweetest of the four. The other two had to make it on their own. You can imagine what these two are like. They define the four fairy Queens.”

“Doesn’t Fand have a twin?” Ivy asked. “Something that starts with an ‘L’.”

“She does have a twin,” Delphie said. “Liban.”

“She’s the one who gave Honey the use of her hands,” Ivy said.

“You do have a good memory,” Jill said from the doorway. “Can I bring you anything?”

Sandy held out her hand and Jill set a travel mug of Jasmine Green Tea in it.

“It’s almost nine,” Jill said. “I know we slept in after a big night, but we need to get moving. Katy’s all ready for school. I was going to take her when I realized I can take everyone.”

“Go!” Sandy said. “You, Noelle — did you shower last night?”

Noelle nodded.

“Then you’re on breakfast duty,” Sandy said. “Nash, take our shower. Teddy, shower in your bathroom.”

When no one moved, Sandy pulled Nash away from Delphie.

“Go,” she said.

Grumbling, the children disappeared. Aden looked at Jill.

“You can shower here,” Jill said.

“Would you mind …?” Aden started.

“Our coffee pot is on,” Jill said with a nod.

“Thanks,” Aden said.

“Ivy, why don’t you come with me?” Jill asked. “You can finish getting ready in Jacob’s special apartment.”

“Nice!” Ivy said. “I’ve never been there before.”

Jill smiled and led the girl out of the bathroom. Aden looked at Delphie.

“Don’t mind me,” Delphie said and moved onto the balcony where she was standing behind Sandy. “Anything else?”

“It’s weird,” Sandy said without removing the binoculars from her eyes. “They’re reverent to Abi and Gilfand, like they are Gods, but you can tell that they kind of hate them.”

“That’s always the case,” Delphie said. “We never want to see our beliefs confirmed. Especially by those who are unassuming, and those we worship are always unassuming.”

“Has it happened to you?” Sandy asked.

“Let’s see,” Delphie said in a wry tone. “I’ve met a Greek God recently who was fairly disappointing.”

She leaned in to whisper “Eros.”

Sandy grinned but never stopped looking through the binoculars.

“Any ideas what’s going to get this show back on the road?” Sandy asked.

“Is the child awake yet?” Delphie asked.

Sandy searched around for a moment before shaking her head.

“The child will know what to do,” Delphie said.

“She will?” Sandy asked, her voice laced with doubt.

“She spends a lot of time with Paddie and that sword of his,” Delphie said. “She’s good with truth. In the meantime, we may as well let them enjoy this experience of discovery.”

Nodding, Sandy lowered the binoculars.

“Do you have time for some tea?” Delphie asked.

“Jill’s on carpool?” Sandy asked.

Delphie nodded.

“I have time for tea, but …” Sandy looked at Delphie’s ragged, faded red hair with inch long grown out roots. “What if we had out tea at the salon? I have some great tea there.”

“Why Sandy!” Delphie pretended that she was surprised. “You’d do my hair?”

She pressed her hand against her chest as if she’d just won the Miss America contest.

“Little old you?” Sandy asked with a laugh.

“Little ole me,” Delphie said.

“It would be my pleasure,” Sandy said. “Will you tell me more about the fairy queens?”

“Of course,” Delphie said.

Sandy set the binoculars on the counter. She opened the shower to tell Aden what she was doing. They checked in with Jill to see if they could help. A less than five minutes later, they were walking along Colfax Boulevard taking the short walk to Sandy’s studio.

“You were going to tell me about the fairy Queens?” Sandy asked again.

“Well, you know about Fand,” Delphie said.

“I guess I thought she was Abi and Gilfand’s,” Sandy said. She unlocked and opened the door to the salon. Delphie shook her head. “It doesn’t make sense since Abi and Finegal are in love.”

“That would be kind of …” Delphie started.

“Gross,” Sandy said.

“I was going to say Greek,” Delphie said with a laugh. She went inside the salon and Sandy grinned at her back. She’d finally found a way to get Delphie into the studio. When Delphie turned, Sandy closed and locked the door.

“You can imagine that the ones who raised themselves are not the nicest fairies in the world,” Delphie said.

“Will I have to meet them?” Sandy asked with a wince. “The ones I’ve met are pretty self-involved.”

Delphie laughed.

Denver Cereal continues next week…

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