The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 43 Section V Mega Chapter 2 (part 3)

The Alibi – Chapter 43 Section V Mega Chapter 2 (part 3)

Seamus walked down Aer Lingus Flight 241’s jetway in a Hawaiin shirt, hiking shorts, riotous black hair against his roughened red skin, tablet tucked under one arm and phone in hand, all to the clacking of his Birkenstalks. He figured dressed like this he’d stand out easily enough for cousin Sean, who he didn’t see waiting for him.

“Probably getting me bags.”

The baggage claim carousel beeped and its red light began whirling as it vomited suitcases, backpacks, tightly bound battered boxes, and two baby walkers at his approach. He watched business people stand as the carousel brought their bags around, shifting from foot to foot, pacing but standing still, impatient to be off making money. Young couples stayed together, pointed, and laughed as they missed their luggage and watched it go around again. Parents left one to attend tired or excited children while they hurried after strollers, backpacks, gifts from the folks back home. One elderly couple struggled to get a large suitcase off the carousel and Seamus lifted it for them. “Let me help.”

The woman beamed. “You’re from Ireland. We just toured there for a week. Loved it.” She frowned as she looked at how he was dressed. “You don’t look like the Irish people we met, though.”

He exaggerated his brogue. “Ah, but you came over, to be sure, and had a crackin’ time.”

The woman’s smile returned.

“And don’t fret, missus. I got me Lucky Charms box, a red beard, green clothes, and a pair of shoes to mend and yay, a shilling in me purse to get by while I’m here.”

Both husband and wife scowled at him. The husband said, “Thanks for your help.” They turned and wheeled their suitcase away.

An exceedingly tall, elderly gentleman on the other side of the carousel from him didn’t pay attention to the traveling chaos. He smiled at children who gawked and pointed at him, dismissed parents chastising their children for being rude, and each time his face came up, he smiled at Seamus and nodded.

Seamus checked his watch. “Come on, Cousin. Traffic can’t be that bad this time of day. The morning’s just begun.” He called Sean on his phone. Voicemail. “Cousin, you know I came in Aer Lingus, right? You remember Aer Lingus? Your favorite airline? You always said it sounded like you’re going down on an angel?”

The carousel stopped gurgitating and people pulled, dragged, and towed suitcases, backpacks, bound boxes, and children to the buses and cabstands.

“Where’s me bags?” He looked around for the missing baggage office and the exceedlingly tall, elderly gentleman stepped aside. Seamus’ gymbag and travel kit sat beside him like exhausted travelers wanting a nap. The elderly gentleman smiled.

Seamus smiled and walked around the Carousel. “I think them’s mine, friend.”

The gentleman’s voice was silk on water. “Dia duit, an tOllamh O’Hearn.” He smiled at the shocked look on Seamus’ face. “I’m sorry, Professor O’Hearn, is my accent that weak? It’s been years since I spoke your beautiful tongue.”

“What’s this about? Where’s me cousin? Is he okay?”

“I’m told you and your cousin made a fascinating discovery. Or are about to. You’re here to confirm his findings, correct?”

“Who are you?”

“Forgive my rudeness. Introductions, of course. I’m John Willmette, Professor Emeritus, Investigative Forensics and a few other fields, Northeastern University. Call me Red.”

Red Willmette lifted Seamus’ gymbag and travelkit easily, walked to a security door, tapped a code, and it swung open. A middle-aged man in a non-descript blue business suit, revolver in hand, stood in what looked like a service hallway. He nodded and stood back.

Seamus stood at the carousel. Red Willmette turned to him and smiled. There were few people in baggage claim now and he heard the elderly gentleman speak as if they stood next to each other. “Please come with me. I don’t know where your cousin is. I’m here to help you find him and to learn a bit more about your incredible find.”

Previous entries in The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery)

The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 43 Section V Mega Chapter 2 (part 2)

The Alibi – Chapter 43 Section V Mega Chapter 2 (part 2)

Sean sat in a prison with walls of living flesh. Something like seaweed hung over tunnel entrances. The seaweed looked like beaded curtains and his captors came and went without hesitation. He stepped through one upward sloping tunnel’s curtain and what looked like beads exploded against him. Thousands of little spiny things stuck to his divesuit – the only thing he was allowed to keep in his captivity – and the one or two which penetrated it and pricked his skin left him a convulsing heap on the rock floor.

Once he regained control of his movements, he got close enough to inspect wihtout touching.

Neuroblasts? Seaweed with neuroblasts? I’ve never heard of anything like that. Oh, Seamus, me cousin, what have I gotten us into?

The pool leading back to the ocean had so many torpedo and related rays in it you could walk across if you had to, but Sean had no desire to have two-hundred or more volts hit him from every angle imaginable.

Other than being an obvious prisoner and seeing to his vital needs – how did the torpedoes know when he had to shit and piss and move aside? – his captors didn’t interact with him. The same petite female brought him his meals – a collection of raw shell and finned fish, and some edible seaweeds – waited for him to finish, and removed whatever he didn’t eat only to throw it to the rays in the pool. The few times he saw a few gathered, they didn’t speak. Not with words, anyway, not in a way he could hear, although it was obvious they paid attention to each other, could direct each other’s gaze, communicated. They never seemed to argue. What he did experience was a slight frisson, like something lightly crawled on him, an insect needing to be brushed away. Each captor produced a slightly different frisson on his skin, as if he could feel rather than hear their different voices.

One petite female, whom he referred to as his warden, either ignored or couldn’t hear him every time he spoke to her. Once or twice the small, Asian looking fellow came with her and watched while she put his food down and waited. They communicated, or seemed to, and again Sean had no clue what was communicated or how it happened, only their movements, expressioins, their postures indicating something exchanged between them, and that annoying sense of frisson.

It didn’t help that day and night didn’t exist in this cave, his prison. The bioluminescent walls never fluctuated in their lighting or brilliance. Only his stomach, bowels, and bladder indicated time’s passage.

He dismissively chuckled. Think about his stomach and it growled an alert it was empty. As if listening, his warden came through the neuroblast curtain and an assortment of edibles and barely edibles on a wooden plate which looked like it’d been salvaged from some ancient sea wreck. Ocean delicacies he could never afford on land mingled with things he’d forgotten the names to which stared back at him with lethal eyes.

He waited until she put the plate down and backed away. “Are all of these edible?” He pointed. “Those two look like they’d rather eat me.” He caught a motion and looked up from the plate.

The small Asiatic man stood beside his warden. He pointed at the creature Sean was unsure of, pointed to his own mouth, and gave a thumbs-up.

It was the first time Sean had seen any of these beings do a roughly human gesture.

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Previous entries in The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery)

The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 43 Section V Mega Chapter 2 (part 1)

You thought Chapter 42 Mega Chapter 1 was long? It was 14k on disk. Chapter 43 Mega Chapter 2 is 41k. I’ll break it up across several posts.

Lucky you, huh?

Chapter 43 Section V Mega Chapter 2 contains what were chapters 44 (remember, renumbering applies), 50 (you never saw it), 45 (renumbered, uh-huh), 48-49, a completely new scene, parts of 51, 47, and 46, none of which you’ve seen.

I think.

The Alibi – Chapter 43 Section V Mega Chapter 2 (part 1)

Penny kept her eyes closed and stretched her legs and arms under the covers. She loved her soft mattressed, king-sized bed. She slept naked because the feel of the lightly perfumed midnight blue satin titillated her. Plus, he preferred her in the nude. Sometimes he came in so hungry, so aggressive, so possessive. He didn’t need to be teased. He was always calm. On the outside. But when he was alone with her in the dark? He unleashed something…not quite brutal. Demanding. That was it. Demanding.

She liked him that way.

Her feet bumped something at the foot of her bed.

And her arms, outstretched, hung over the sides of her bed.

And the sheets didn’t feel right.

Whatever stopped her feet at the foot of the bed shifted. “Good morning, Ms. Lane.”

She opened her eyes, inhaled deeply and stopped. Felt like something clogged her lungs and it took three good breaths before she could clear them out.

The speaker was male, white. Late middle age – early senior male. Somewhere near retirement if not slightly past. Clean shaven. Nicely tanned. Dusty brown hair going to gray on the sides. Posh clothes. Silk tie. Great smile under bright gray eyes.

He sat on the foot of her bed facing her.

She catalogued the room. Not hers. Not his. Not one familiar to her. Not quite sterile but common. Like a dorm room. Or a two or three star motel room. She’d been in one once and decided guys who could only afford such rendezvous weren’t worth her time.

A dollar-store vanity over a dollar-store bureau.

Or something like it

A door off to the side and another on the far wall.

Sterile. The walls were a floor-to-ceiling industrial beige. No TV, no radio. A desk but no phone.

Maybe ten-by-twelve feet? No windows. Nowhere near a Brazilian prison cell but what she remembered of one still gave her the chills. This place had the same look if not the feel.

Briggs got her out of Brazil with one phone call. She’d call him now. Put a stop to this.

Where was her phone?

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Previous entries in The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery)

The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 42 Section V Mega Chapter 1 (part 2)

The Alibi – Chapter 42 Section V Mega Chapter 1 (part 2)

Dao stood at the head of the small dock at the end of the warehouse pier next to Langonne Park. His people had survived much. Much throughout their history, much throughout his life. Their wariness of the Surface Breathers kept them safe. Once called Little Brothers by his people, they had, in Dao’s lifetime, become the enemy. For the first time in Dao’s life, he was unsure how to lead his people, unsure how to keep them safe.

A shadow sat at the dock’s end, a little to the side of where Dao sat when he came to remember his younger days, to remember what he’d learned from his elders, from the Sea Brothers and Sisters, from the Ocean Queen herself.

The shadow turned and waved to him, motioned Dao to join them on the dock’s end.

Dao walked cautiously.

The shadow didn’t carry the scent of water, of his people. Was this someone come early to fish? To catch under the stars?

No, the scent was familiar, known. Something from when Dao was a child.

The shadow carried the scent of stories his grandfather told him.

Dao’s pace quickened. He stood close, too close, closer than was safe with Surface Breathers.

The shadow turned. A face, a Surface Breather’s face. A known face? A face remembered from song.

The Surface Breather sang as Dao’s people sang. Hello, Ocean Brother. I sing your language but not very well. You know mine much better than I know yours. Will you forgive me if my song is weak? I don’t want to sing something I should not.

Dao sat beside the shadow. Who are you? How do you sing? Your people can not sing our songs. Only a few, only –

My grandfather knew a Surface Breather who could sing. He was our friend.

I wish to be your friend, as well.

What are you doing here? Why come to us now?

I need your help. Your people and mine swim dangerous waters. I wish to keep the waters safe. For both our people.

It is too late. The waters already boil.

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Previous entries in The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery)

The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 42 Section V Mega Chapter 1 (part 1)

No, we’re not actually back at chapter 42. I realized last month the time sequences of some chapters were skewed because, at this point in the novel, several things are happening simultaneously.

That required some fixing.

For example, this chapter 42 also has “Section V Mega Chapter 1” as part of its title. That’s because this chapter 42 is in Section V, contains a reworked chapters 42 and 43 (which weren’t the numbers you chapter numbers you saw previously. Lots of things got shuffled) and has an extra scene not included before but necessary for what comes later in the novel.

Live with it.

I have to, you might as well, too…

PS) this chapter is huge so I’m splitting it into two posts.


(or not)

The Alibi – Chapter 42 Section V Mega Chapter 1 (part 1)

Sherlock listened to the communications coming and going out of Boston harbor and recognized elements from previous oceanic transmissions. Its extensive catalog of deep sea sounds, some from the first microphones submerged in ocean waters, its googleian knowledge of sound production systems, origins, indications, its massive computing, cohesing, interpolating, recognizing systems worked and worked and reworked every element comparing against everything from the chirp of crickets to the songs of whales and trumpets of elephants, from glaciers calving to seaquakes raising islands to the sun, spinning them, colliding them, solidifying them, separating them, extrapolating them, until its coolent glowed blue.

It reshaped the sonar array and pods, reshaped the hull enough to create sound separation and deflection grids, released two towed arrays to act as direction-seeking ears.

And heard.

Sherlock relaxed. A human would have sighed. Sherlock did its equivalent; it let its cryogenic structures form a slight aboric frost, lining its deepest core with veins like leaves on a tree.

It understood.

Could understand.

And wanted to hear more, partially to confirm hypotheses floating in its nitrogen-helium cooled chambers and partially to test this hypothesis against that, these against those, to confirm what it had been told might exist, could exist, but for which there was no direct evidence, only hearsay, only myth, only stories from cultures so ancient humans only knew of them from symbols on cave walls.

Sherlock would test this from that, these from those, with a single message.

A message from the earliest of its learnings.

A message to let the listeners know it was there, it was awake, it was attending, it was aware.

A message student programmers learned as their first attempt at confirming what they’d been taught.

Sherlock sent out a soft, timid, “Hello?”


Cisily Thorne and Gio spoke well into the night, Gio tending the fire, surrounded by dancers, feet stamping, hands clapping, songs reaching up and capturing stars, a corroboree.

He stood and stretched. “Time for me to go. Follow the canoe. It’ll take you where you need to go.”

“Where are you going?”

“Have to call Uber.”

He jumped over the Eglesia‘s side and sank beneath the waves only to surface a moment later on the back of a blue whale. “Yes. Uber.”

And the dancers were gone. Only the Dingo-man paddling the canoe remained and she spent the night following it, sometimes only seeing it as a darker patch against the night sky, as an occulting of constellations she knew should be there, until she realized the canoe’s course followed the Milky Way’s path through the heavens. Once recognized, piloting the Eglesia to blue water was a child’s task.

Now she watched the sky canoe disappear into the dim, pre-dawn light.

Her parents interviewed some old ones – banman? – who could travel the Milky Way, the demba. They called it Great Star Belt, the place where all aboriginal laws come from. “Is that what this is about? Our people really are star children and our origins got muddied up through the millennia?”

Thorne set the Eglesia‘s automated systems to keep her in place.

“What’s special about this place?”

The sea answered by boiling.

Something huge, serpentine, rose up beside her, towered over her and The Lady Eglesia, made them tiny in its wake.

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