(Chapter 29 of Senses)
They didn't get their meal for another hour. Larry decided that this talk needed to be private, so a restaurant wouldn't do. As Larry's shop had not been approved for re-entry, they went to Morgana's apartment and had Chinese food delivered.
Nothing much was said during the meal as both of them were too hungry to engage in conversation. Afterwards, both Larry and Morgana sat in chairs at the dining room table and drank tea.
"Where do you want to start?" Larry asked.
"Where's my shopping list?" Morgana replied. She smiled then started.
"You can't read cards, can you?" She asked.
"No, I can't," Larry replied.
"Yet Rand calls you one of the best at it he's ever seen, and Rand has real power. Why?"
"Why to both questions?"
"All right, question two: I don't know. My theory is that he has an unconscious ability to use abilities that all humans possess, but are unable to recognize. He focuses that through his religion. Question one: I read people."
"People?" Morgana asked.
"Body language," Larry said.
"You must be damned good at it. You noticed a police tail this morning, and even more amazing still you covered for Rand in the shop. Oh, I recognize in hindsight it was a good move considering this 'Begorra' Tomlinson thing, but you couldn't have known about that."
"To be honest, I don't know why I did that. It just felt right."
"You knew there were four people watching the shop. You knew to duck when you came down the stairwell. You knew that Rand ran into Constance. Why do you call her Connie, anyway? Only you do."
"I knew her before Rand did. We go back a long way." Larry sighed.
"There's more," Morgana said. "You knew Rand was troubled when he returned to the shop, despite all the carnage we had just been through. When Rand read you at the station, you never once looked at those cards, yet you made all the right connections. You know one hell of a lot about the occult, but not the cards.
"No one is that good at body language. How did you do all of this?" The question was almost a shout.
Larry paused a moment, then stood and began to pace. "What I tell you must not be repeated. Agreed? After all, it will only be speculation.
"Suppose," Larry continued, "that a young boy, aged six, is stunning the local world, which happens to be a small central California town, with his brains. He's already doing algebra and reading encyclopedias. He looks to be one of those kids who's in college by age ten.
"Instilled in this boy is a strong sense of family and responsibility. He doesn't resent it when a younger brother is born, who looks remarkably like the boy did at his own birth. Hopes are high for a second child genius.
"At three months, the infant begins to do unexplainable things... unnatural things. The parents are afraid, but they love their younger son. They realize that the boy would be scarred for life by unwanted attention, so they hide him from the spotlight. They tell they now seven year old boy to not be as much of a show-off. Attention to you could bring attention to your younger brother, he is told. The seven year old, school smart as a high school senior, agrees to study in private.
"The seven year old is puzzled, though, by his parent's concern. He begins to study people, and realizes that he has a challenge before him. He is ten before he realizes that his parents were correct in their actions.
"At age twelve a third brother is born. The third brother is startlingly different from the other two. He's big, and grows fast. He has trouble focusing, but like the middle brother starts doing odd things. Again, the boy is kept indoors.
"At age thirteen the boy's closest friend asks him for advice. His friend has been reading this book he got at the library called 'The Druids', and it has affected him profoundly. It's almost as if energy flows through him
"The boy comes to a stunning revelation. Minor things about his friend are similar, yet different, to his younger brothers when they do their strange things. The way his eyes look, the tensing of certain muscles.
"The boy throws himself into his study of people full time. He reads psychology books, other science books, and often spies on people for data. Patterns, with variations, begin to form.
"Then the world changes. A social worker inquires about the middle child; why he's not in school. The parents begin to tell a cover story when the oldest boy realizes with a start that this social worker is trustworthy, and tells his parents so. The parents trust their smartest son, so confide the truth. The social worker proves to be trustworthy after all, and decides to help the second child, and later the third, to integrate into society.
"The boy apprentices himself to the social worker, and is given access to files that augment his data. He begins a filing system of his own.
"By the time the boy is a man, he is able to read people's intentions at a glance. His brothers have figured out how to care for themselves, and he himself has become a teacher. People are frightened of the man and his ability to literally look into another's soul. He shows his research to a psychology PhD., who has a son in his class, to help stem fears.
"The parent gets a foolish idea in his head and gets the man fired from his job. Realizing he is unwanted in his own home town, he moves away, vowing to keep his files secret. And that's the whole story."
Morgana stared at Larry, a bit slack-jawed. She had never seen her employer so introspective. After a moment she asked, "Just how strange is your family?"
"I couldn't tell you," Larry responded. "We still don't know."
"So your hypothetical little boy, grown into a man..."
"Could do everything on your list," Larry finished. "A couple of them unconsciously, such a ducking a bullet not yet fired, but he could do them all. He's not a superman, just unusually observant."
"And the brothers?" Morgana asked.
"Lead their own lives. Very much unlike the boy's. They aren't alone."
Morgana shook her head. "You lost me."
Larry laughed and sat down in his chair again. "That was a change of subject," he said. "What I meant was, is that the hypothetical boy has met five unusual people during his life, including his brothers." Larry took a deep breath. "Including you."
Morgana's head snapped up. "Excuse me?"
"You do a lot of the things Rand does when he feels that energy. I think you're empowered too."
From a neighboring apartment could be heard music. Larry counted what he thought was 64 bars of Mozart before Morgana answered.
"What do you mean?" she asked.
Larry responded immediately, having already taken the plunge. "I mean," he said, "that you don't need the cards for your readings. All they do is support what you already know."
When Morgana said nothing, Larry continued. "You were certain that a man was going to die. You convinced Rand about specifics about the reading he did. Now it's my turn. How do you do all of this?"
Morgana was silent a long time. "I don't know," she finally said.
She sighed, and sipped her tea. "There's a woman who is as familiar as your hypothetical boy with being spurned. Spurned because she is different.
"About every half hour or so an insight occurs. Even during sleep. She had even had a dream about George Tomlinson and would have spoken if someone else hadn't figured it out. She discovered over the years that if she times it right, she can deal Tarot cards when the insight happens. The cards will support the insight."
"You mean what happened with Rand's cards was luck?" Larry asked.
"Of course not," Morgana said. "He had those cards out for a while. Besides, he already had it. He just didn't make the connection. Or want to.
"Without the cards, however, the insight doesn't always make sense. The woman in question has not learned how to control it. She doesn't even know where to begin. Usually what she sees has nothing to do with her." She stopped.
"Until recently," Larry ventured.
Morgana nodded. There was a knock at the door. "Come in, Detective Dylan," she called.
The Detective opened the door slowly. Upon entering he asked, "How did you know?"
Larry answered quickly. "Are you aware that you shuffle your feet quite distinctively?" he said.
Dylan looked between the other two occupants of the room and simply said, "Right."
After a quick glance at Morgana to confirm that she didn't know, Larry asked, "What brings you by?"
Dylan shook himself out of his reverie. "Trouble," he answered. "The third Tomlinson, the sister? She's disappeared. So has your friend Rand. And the woman he was visiting after he left the station."
"Connie?" Larry asked.
"Yeah, that's right. Right from under our noses. Damn! Whomever is behind all this, he's good. Even the man watching your friend is missing."
In the ensuing silence Larry thought furiously. "Morgana," he finally said, "how long until the next insight?"
"We just had one," she answered. "It will be a bit. Fifteen minutes, maybe longer."
At the eighteen minute mark, Morgana looked up, startled. "Phone," she said.
The phone rang. Dylan stopped Morgana from answering and picked it up himself. "Yes," he barked. After nearly two minutes he said, "Call the station and patch him." He hung up.
"Well?" Morgana asked.
"They found my man. Alive. And both the men who attacked him. Not so alive. Both had fake I.D.'s showing them to be SFPD."
Larry looked up, wide-eyed. "Argent and Beck?" he asked.
Now Dylan looked shocked. "How did..."
"They were at my shop when it opened this morning. It never even occurred to me, although it should have."
"They fooled you?" Morgana more said than asked, incredulous. "They are good."
Dylan shook his head. "That means that all of this has been a lie," he said. "They meant to kill you all along, Mr. Christopher. Care to venture why?"
Larry shrugged. "I wish I knew," he replied. "You realize that Rand's involvement is an accident? Edgar and his bunch wouldn't have known he was in town until this afternoon."
"To me it looks more like he's involved."
"No way." Larry's temper flared. "Ask him about Connie sometime and you might just find out how painful it is for him to even be on the west coast."
"Fair enough. We found him, by the way. Apparently he went straight to his hotel, and my man stopped an ambush. Before you get into an uproar, I never suspected him. I needed to see your reaction. Rand never knew what had happened."
Larry calmed himself down and studied the Detective. "Detective Dylan," he said, "I may just like you."
Dylan contained a smirk. "Thanks. Anyway, he's being patched through to here. He's on about something and wants to talk to you immediately." The phone rang. "Speak of the devil. Would you answer it please, Mr. Christopher?"
Larry nodded and picked up the phone. "Larry," he said.
"Get to my hotel room! Now!" came Rand's voice.
"Rand, what's going on?"
"There's a medallion in my room!"
Rand continued without having heard his friend. "It's fucking attached to Constance, Larry! They've got her!"
There were two police guards outside of Rand's room by the time Larry, Morgana, and Detective Dylan arrived. At Rand's request, the guards had remained outside of the room, lest they interfere with the curse laid upon the medallion in the room. Upon the group's arrival, they entered the room to find Rand huddled in a corner by the window. The medallion was on the bed, which was made. Dylan made a move towards it and Rand screamed, "Don't touch it!" Dylan withdrew his hand.
"Do I smell pot?" Dylan asked.
Rand shuddered. "Residue," he answered. "I had some last night."
"Oh great," Dylan said.
"Look, I'm sober now. If you want to bust me, bust me. Just do it fucking later, all right?"
Larry had been looking at his old friend closely since entering the room, as he too had noticed the smell. "He's clean," he finally said to Dylan. "He's scared shitless, but he's clean."
Dylan sighed. "Okay, but I'll have to address this once this is all over. Look, I'm not sympathetic. Grass seems to be the least offensive of all the drugs out there. It is illegal, though. I cannot ignore that fact."
Morgana's eyes had never left the medallion during the whole exchange. Her eyes had become glued to it upon entering the room. "This thing," she said. "It's buzzing somehow."
"You noticed?" Rand stated more than asked.
"I can't explain it though. I can't hear it or see it buzzing, but it's buzzing just the same."
"You're more talented than I thought," Rand replied. "You're feeling the psychic effects of the curse upon the medallion. Anyone with talent should feel it in some fashion. Can you read the wording?"
Morgana looked at the medallion closely, being careful not to touch it. "It's looks familiar," she said, and then moved away with a start. "It's Gaelic!"
"That would make sense," Larry said. "Much of the religion was founded by that culture."
"I can't understand the words," Morgana said.
"I can," Rand said. "The words won't make any sense so I won't bother repeating them. It's a bonding spell, and it's attached to Constance."
Dylan made a "T" with his hands. "Time out," he said. "Bonding spell? Bring me up to speed."
"A bonding spell killed George Tomlinson," Larry said. "The two officers who came by this morning showed me a photograph that..." Larry fell into silence, a million thoughts racing through his head.
"They weren't officers," Dylan responded. "You know that as well..."
"Shhh!" Rand said. "Don't say a word to him. Something just clicked into place in his head. I've seen it before."
"Then would you tell me what the hell is going on?"
"I can't. But I think Larry can."
Larry snapped out of his trance in about 20 seconds. "Detective Dylan," he finally said, "would your name happen to be Robert?"
Rand laughed. He couldn't help himself.
Detective Dylan blushed. "Yes, although I don't go by it." he replied. "Robert Allen Dylan. I use my middle name most of the time, to avoid the jokes."
"Argent, Beck, Clapton, Dylan," Larry counted off. "If this weren't so damn scary, it would be funny."
"What?" Dylan asked.
"They know. The Black Wiccans know virtually everything. They know about Rand, they know about me, they even know about you, Allen. They've known our every goddamn move. Anticipated us all the way. They think they're going to win."
"Goddamn it!" Dylan finally exploded. "What the hell is going on!"
"Sit down," Larry said. "Not on the bed. This will take a moment."
"This begins a few years ago," Larry began, "when the first Tomlinson brother died. You know the story. Rand believes that he accidentally killed a man. I know that's not true. At least, I do now."
"What do you mean?" Rand asked.
"Let me make a hypothesis. Suppose Donovan Silver was already Black when Darkwell occurred. Suppose that he controlled the battle. Suppose that he killed the first Tomlinson. He's the only person from Darkwell not accounted for now. With Edgar around, it would make sense that Donovan is here too. Maybe he's even running things.
"Now, Black was worried about me before Rand entered the picture. Maybe they knew Rand was going to come into the picture. I can only speculate about that. But my store was being watched before I even knew that Rand was in California, let alone in town. They wanted me.
"Why me? Because I was already a threat somehow, especially if I met up with Rand somehow, which I did. But even more so if I met up with you, Detective. They sent two men after me to find out what I knew about whatever Black was doing. They were able to find out that I did understand the significance of the medallion found with the body under George's building."
"You know about that?" Dylan asked. "We haven't released that detail yet."
"That fits," Larry said. "They even used names of rock stars to rub it in, figuring that I would never meet you because of the hit on my store. Hell, even I did it at one point. That connection only just hit me now.
"But you survived the hit on your store," Dylan responded. He started making connections as well. "The timing of all this. This couldn't have been done all in a single day."
"Yet this all started just this morning," Larry added. "No. This has been planned for quite a while. You get it? The only way that this can be is if they know what's going to happen next. Even if the outcome doesn't stay within the game plan, even if they try to alter the ending as they know it, they can work with that context to determine the next thing. They've planned on that."
"We can't even surprise them with anything?" Morgana asked.
"Oh, yes we can," Rand said. "Larry's left something out, intentionally I believe."
Larry smiled. "You got it. Morgana, they don't seem to know about you."
Morgana looked up, surprised. "Excuse me?" she said.
"Their plans don't seem to take you into account," Larry said. "To be honest, I don't know why that is, but they've left you out of the planning. Either they don't consider you a threat or they don't know about you. I cannot believe the former, so the latter should be true."
Dylan stood up and began to pace. "This is too weird," he said. "You're telling me that they've planned this all along, yet they don't know about your own fortune teller?"
"It could be that they only think she's an employee. They've been in my shop the same time Morgana has, they know she exists, but she isn't a part of the plan. I think we can use this to an advantage."
"I still don't get it," Dylan replied. "Why you at all? Why go after you?"
"I know that one," Rand said.
"You have two brothers, right Larry?" Morgana asked.
Dylan sighed and shook his head, stood, and then sat again, sitting on the corner of the bed. The medallion jostled, but Dylan didn't touch it. "Let me guess," he said. "Another Troikal sacrifice. Let me guess further. If they are done in sets of threes, they are even stronger still than alone."
"Give the boy a cigar," Rand said.
"They're going to fucking lock me up. I can already tell. You people are nuts!"
"You have no idea," Larry said.
"I'm far too confused to understand any of this. I just want to catch the bad guys, all right?" Dylan stood. "Can you tell me how we do that?"
There was a knock at the door and one of the guarding officers appeared. "Detective," he said, "a call for Larry Christopher has been intercepted by our people in the lobby, should we patch it through?"
Dylan nodded. "Mr. Christopher," he said, "maybe you should get a portable phone." Dylan laughed a bit.
When the phone rang, Larry picked it up. "Larry," he said.
"My name is Donovan," a voice said, "but you've figured that part out by now. We have Constance, but it's you and Rand that we really want. A trade, then. You and Rand in exchange for Constance."
""Bullshit," Larry responded. "You want two hostages for one, and you could kill the one without even touching her. No deal."
"You guessed wrong on that part, Mr. Christopher. I'm surprised. We don't want to kill anyone."
"Except that you have another hostage. Another Tomlinson." Dylan handed Larry a note that he had in turn received from one of the officers standing guard. We are taping the call. We are also trying to trace.
"That is none of your concern. We do not wish to kill Constance, Rand, or you, if you wish to be more accurate. Rand we will convert. Constance will be set free. As for you, we wish to confirm a rumor. Nothing more. You will even be released within an hour."
"How do you expect me to believe you?"
"I don't. You have no choice. It is now 2 a.m. I will see you at four."
"You already know. If you don't come, Constance dies." The voice hung up.
Larry placed the receiver back on the cradle of the phone, took a deep breath, and then told the others about the conversation. By the time he was done, Dylan had placed two phone calls; one to hear the contents of the call verbatim, one to check on the trace.
"You aren't going to believe this," Dylan said. "The call came from Alcatraz."
"Alcatraz?" Larry asked, incredulous. "How does anyone get onto Alcatraz in the middle of the night?"
"Don't you have people there?" Rand asked.
"Park service, not police," Dylan responded. "I'm just as clueless as you are as to what's going on. We should assume that the normal guard staff has been neutralized somehow. Lord knows there are enough places to lock up prisoners on Alcatraz island."
"And enough vantage places on the island to see anyone coming," Larry added. "We need a plan."
"We need to get to Alcatraz," Rand said, "And somehow get the police onto it as well."
"You have any ideas how?" Larry asked. "The water's too cold for divers, and there are only two or three ways onto the island to begin with anyway."
"I don't know how!" Rand shouted. "Goddess! Damn it all! Constance is in danger. Perhaps we should just do as they say!"
Larry stared at his friend for a moment. "So you finally decided that you still love her," he said.
Rand, who had stood up, sat back down on the floor. "Yes, I have," he said meekly. "Damn it, Larry, this hurts."
Morgana, who had been silent for some time, cleared her throat and spoke. "I've never been to Alcatraz," she said. "What makes it so difficult to approach?"
"Well," Dylan said, "you probably know it used to be a prison. It was designed so that no one could either enter or leave except by the docks."
"That's what I mean. What makes the docks so unapproachable?"
"There's only one docking area on the whole island, and it's visible from several vantage points on the island."
"Is the dock like a standard dock?"
Dylan considered for a moment. "I suppose so, but smaller."
"Okay then, I have a plan."
"You do?" Larry said.
"Yes, I do," Morgana replied. "Remember I grew up on an island. A big island, but an island just the same. And your cold water comment doesn't wash entirely. On my island, it snowed. Besides, if Black cannot see me, then perhaps I should have the plan, so that it will work."
Dylan laughed. "She got you," he said. "What's the plan?"
"First, let's leave this room and this damned medallion