The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 40

More threads, more merging.

The Alibi – Chapter 40

Cisily lounged naked on the Lady Eglesia‘s maindeck after piloting it far enough out that Boston appeared only as a bright hump on the western horizon. A meteor burned across the sky and she imagined it smacking into the Atlantic, boiling the ocean, tidal waves leaping from its impact, people racing to get inland, …

She shook her head to clear it, took a deep gulp of a martini she’d only waved the cork at, and giggled like a schoolgirl chatting with mates about their prom dates.

Except she never went to a prom. Any prom.

Oh, she’d been on dates. The boys figured her easy because a) she was a lubra and b) anybody built like her had to be asking for it.

They didn’t realize this bitch had teeth sharper than a croc’s and they were the ones to do the asking.

Another meteor blazed across the heavens. You could see them clearly, in all their northern glory, this far out of the city. Sometimes she’d turn off everything save her runniing lights just to watch unhindered by background light.

This one must have come in low. She heard it crackling across the sky.

A light breeze walked across the deck, rustling things uncovered, moving things unsecured, the sounds of their movements coming to her like silent footsteps, questioning hands.

Coming high up and out of the north, something thin and black obscured some stars as it traveled across the sky.

Couldn’t be a commercial aircraft. They’d need their lights on. Unless there was some malfunction.

And couldn’t be a satellite or the ISS or one of the shuttles. Traveling north to south, they’d reflect the sun from suborbital on up.

One the old bushmen – George? – knew how to go up into the heavens and taught her when she was young.

She giggled again. Yeah, she was young. Impressionable. Goerge or whoever told her about Auwanbananggnari, a male landsnake and wunggud animal of the earth, who had an argument with a beautiful young girl who’d become a constellation.

“That’s you, Little Girl. That’s you.”

Right now she believed it possible.

The dark star continued through the night. It seemed to slow. At least it wasn’t occulting stars as rapidly as before.

Perhaps there weren’t that many stars left to occult?

“What the hell are you thinking, Thorne?” She finished her martini and put the glass down beside her. “Add this freaky to the rest of today’s freakies.” The drink and the sky relaxed her. A breeze brought a long ago scent to her. Urine on hot stone. “Nitjamrung gnari?” The scent called back old stories, old memories, made her giddy. “Didn’t know I remember that; ‘Somebody pissed here’.”

Another meteor. Lower still. Glowed hotter than the other ones. Almost like an ember looking for something to burn. And this one cackled. She could’ve sworn she heard laughter. And came down close enough she should have felt the wave.

“Get a grip, Thorne. First you think you’ve walked through a spirit, then the pillars at the garage entrance turn in Nightjar Men. Wodoiya and Djingun. Thank god that hippie kept you moving forward or people would’ve tripped over you.”

A meteor cut a high arc in the sky, lifting from a shining place far in the east.

The Sunrise Gate?

She watched it flare and spark and burst into flames high above her and continue its arc down, down, down, closer, closer, closer, until –

“Holy Shit! It’s going to hit!”

Cisily stood up but the sea swelled and the Eglesia rocked. Between that and the booze and the exhaustion of the day, she fell back into her lounge chair.

But there were no waves and the sea didn’t swell. “Something from that other meteor, maybe?”

The fire fell lower and lower and Cisily closed her eyes. “Coming home, Ancestors. Please welcome me.”

The fire landed squarely on her deck. She heard Creation Songs and Old Ones and Storytellers, smelled the soft smells of croc and emu cooking. A gentle tapping on her toes made her open her eyes. A Bunyip sat on its haunches beside the fire, a long thing stick in its hand it used to tap her.

Boro? A learning fire?”

“What your skin?”

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